Talking about comic books, TV shows, movies, sports, and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

X-amining X-Men #102

"Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?"
December 1976

In a Nutshell 
The new X-Men fight Juggernaut and Black Tom

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Sam Grainger
Letterer: John Constanza
Colorist: Bonnie Wilford
Editor: Archie Goodwin

As the new X-Men battle Juggernaut and Black Tom, Storm is overwhelmed by claustrophobia and collapses. She flashes back to her childhood, remembering the death of her parents and her time as a thief in Cairo. Meanwhile, back in New York, Jean is visited by her roommate Misty Knight as Professor X receives a telepathic flash from Storm. Realizing the new X-Men are facing Juggernaut, Professor X orders Cyclops to Ireland to assist them, but Cyclops refuses to leave Jean's side. The two argue, but are interrupted when Professor X receives another alien vision. Back in Ireland, Nightcrawler is knocked out and taken away from the battle by a group of mysterious figures. The other X-Men are quickly dispatched just as Storm tries to fight back, but she's too weak. With the X-Men at their mercy, Black Tom and Juggernaut await the arrival of Professor X. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Last Week in TV #27

The Simpsons: Love Is A Many-Strangled Thing

The main plot in this episode (Homer learns not to strangle Bart, but then an unrestricted Bart runs wild over Homer) felt like it had been done before, and not just in the usual "all Simpsons plots these days have been done before" kind of way. I think it was the episode where Bart became a novelty T-Shirt magnate and usurped Homer's position as breadwinner that featured some of the exact same story beats as this one, to the same (limited) effect.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Could You Rephrase That

Limitless came out last weekend and topped the box office. No, I didn't see the movie, but I did see the myriad of commercials for the movie that flooded television. And in each commercial they always manage to say the phrase "...humans only use 20% of their brains." Normally I hear that it's 10%, but regardless it annoys the piss out of me. So, in honor of that, here are my top five phrases I hate:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

THE NERD WITHIN - Batman: Broken City (2003)

I recently went back and read Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee's geekeriffic run on Batman (issues 608-619) where EVERYTHING happens! The only thing their run was missing was Joe Mauer and Barrack Obama (circa 2008, not the present day Fraggle Barrack, whose delusional worshippers are slowly planning off ways to drink the kool-aid).

EVERYTHING happens, but it wasn't necessarily a believable story in the realm of the Batman mythos and I never had the urge to keep reading the monthly comic.

However, I finally bucked down and read the following issues dubbed BROKEN CITY.

Broken City was written by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso, the team behind the acclaimed series 100 Bullets which I have yet to read a single issue. Perhaps some day.

I loved Azzarello's JOKER tpb, where he painted the clown prince of crime as a truly horrific character due to his "reasoned" insanity.

Now, I also love his Broken City storyline.

It's a detective tale soaked in noir.

It's a murder mystery marinated in mayhem.

It adds depth to Batman's habitually recanted origin tale and, in my opinion, gives a sustainable motivation to Bruce Wayne's obsession to dress up like a bat and beat up bad men all night and bad girls some nights.

If you haven't read the tale, pick it up and be swept away into gritty juiciness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

X-amining X-Men #101

"Like a Phoenix, From the Ashes!"
October 1976

In a Nutshell
Jean Grey transforms into Phoenix.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer: John Constanza
Colorist: Bonnie Wilford
Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Starcore shuttle breaches the atmosphere and heads for New York, crashing onto the tarmac of JFK airport before bouncing out into Jamaica Bay. The X-Men and Dr. Corbeau escape the wreckage, but there's no sign of Jean. Suddenly, from out of the water where the shuttle sank, Jean flies out of the water, declaring herself to be Phoenix. She then collapses, and as the X-Men drag themselves out of the bay en route to a hospital, Professor X covers their escape telepathically.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Last Week in TV #26

Bob's Burgers: Art Crawl

This was another excellent episode, filled with animal anuses, hilarious asides from several characters and a more manic-than-usual Louise. Bob cutting loose and throwing sense out the window is always good for laughs, and his sudden support of the anus pictures in the face of censorship came to a hilarious climax as he rampaged through the art store, drawing anuses on everything in sight. It was one of the show's funniest sequences to date. Combine that with Louise's role as a whip-cracking taskmaster trying to sell tourist art and you've got one of the show's best episodes yet.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Retro Review: Separate Vocations

Or the One Where
Bart becomes a hall monitor and Lisa becomes a troublemaker.

The Setup
After the results of a career aptitude tests suggest surprising future vocations, Bart gets a taste of authority (and likes it) while Lisa becomes disillusioned with life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

X-amining X-Men #100

"Greater Love Hath No X-Man..."
August 1976

In a Nutshell
The X-Men defeat Lang and his Sentinels, but get caught in a solar flare on their way back to Earth.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum
Letterer: Anette Kawecki
Colorist: Bonnie Wilford
Editor: Marv Wolfman

The new X-Men are face to face with the original X-Men as Professor X orders the originals to attack what he claims are impostors. As Steven Lang watches on a monitor, the two teams battle, with the new X-Men mystified by their predecessors' viciousness. After getting hit with a telepathic bolt by Marvel Girl, Wolverine senses the truth, and to the shock of his teammates, disembowels Marvel Girl, revealing her to be a robot.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Last Week in TV #25

The Simpsons: A Midsummer's Nice Dream

I'm not the biggest Cheech and Chong fan; their heyday was a bit before my time, and while I have nothing against their schtick (and have largely enjoyed what little I have seen) I'm not overly familiar with them beyond their their existence as part of the pop culture zeitgeist (I know Cheech best, for example, as Hurley's dad on Lost).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Geography of the DC Universe

While the Marvel Universe has always been billed as "the world outside your window" (despite the disappointing lack of radioactive Spider-Men outside my window...) and uses a reasonable facsimile of the real New York City as the backdrop for many of its stories, the DC Universe (home of Batman and Superman) has, from the earliest days of Gotham City and Metropolis, presented geography further removed from our world, one which features several major fictional cities.

Siskoid, of the excellent Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, recently asked his readers to take a list of ten of DC's most notable fictional cities and assign them a fictional state, along with the general location of where that state would be (the Earth of the DC Universe is physically larger than our world, so these new states would simply fit in and around existing ones).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

X-amining X-Men #99

"Deathstar, Rising!"
June 1976

In a Nutshell
The X-Men go into space to rescue their teammates, and come face to face with the original X-Men. 

Author: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Frank Chiara
Letterer: Irving Watanabe, Gaspar Saladino (uncredited)
Colorist: Michele Wolfman 
Editor: Marv Wolfman

In outer space, Banshee, Wolverine and Jean Grey are recaptured by Sentinels and brought back aboard Lang's orbital platform. Down on Earth, their teammates mount a rescue mission with the help of Dr. Corbeau. Serving as the flight crew of the Starcore space shuttle Eagle One, their identities withheld from the media, they blast off into space. Meanwhile, in Ireland, Banshee's lawyer sends him an urgent message but is attacked by a shadowy figure who calls himself Black Tom. As the shuttle approaches Lang's platform, Corbeau requests permission to board, but is rebuffed by Lang. When the platform's mutant detectors sense mutants on the shuttle, Lang sends Sentinels to attack it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Last Week in TV #24

Thoughts on some of what I watched on TV last week. 

The Simpsons: The Scorpion's Tale

A single plot episode (no sub plot other than Bart selling the drug illicitly, but even that tied in with the overall plot) that went pretty much nowhere. I did like the fourth act resolution being inspired by the "Greatest Generation"/Baby Boomer conflict, something the show has flirted with before, but it came out of nowhere, and I wouldn't have minded seeing it explored more instead of being used as a quickie reset button at the end. Also, the visual gag of everyone's eyes popping out was not nearly as funny as the show seemed to think it was. Werner Herzog, as the pharmaceutical magnate, was an understated and enjoyable guest appearance, and most of the first act field trip stuff was pretty funny ("this is Fools Porn!"). So not a great episode, but largely unoffensive (which is how most of this season has been).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

X-amining X-Men #98

"Merry Christmas, X-Men...The Sentinels Have Returned!"
April 1976

In a Nutshell
The Sentinels return.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum,
Inker: Sam Grainger
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Janice Cohen 
Editor: Marv Wolfman

The X-Men are in New York City, enjoying the Christmas season. Eventually, they split up, with Nightcrawler and Colossus meeting attractive stewardesses Amanda and Betsy, Banshee and Moira going sightseeing, and Cyclops and Jean going to dinner. Just as Cyclops and Jean arrive at their table they are attacked by a new model of Sentinel, sent by Steven Lang. Though they manage to overpower one robot, another knocks Cyclops out the window and captures Jean before departing, believing Cyclops dead. Cyclops reunites with Banshee and Wolverine, only to see them captured by Sentinels as well. Meanwhile, while on a fishing trip with his friend Peter Corbeau, a Sentinel attacks and captures Professor X.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Few Thoughts on the Oscars

I'm one of those (apparently rare) people who enjoys the Oscars as much (or more) for the pomp and pageantry of the ceremony as the announcement of the winners. So while normal people grouse about montages and overlong shows, I tend to just enjoy it.

That said, this was a pretty terrible Oscar ceremony. Anne Hathaway was enthusiastic (and gorgeous) but didn't have the best material with which to work, and James Franco looked more or less stoned throughout (which is just how he is, but doesn't make for the most dynamic host). The whole "history of the Oscars" schtick (which felt random in the 83rd Oscar ceremony) amounted to very little, featuring brief snippets of classic films so far upstage they lost any sense of immediacy. Clearly, the producers realized they weren't working, and they got downplayed. But then, when bits came up which relied on the theme (such as Billy Crystal's routine), the whole thing felt even more out of place. I'd have just preferred some montages.