Monday, August 31, 2009

He lives!

Remember my last post on the destruction of Major disaster? Well, never fear folks, he lives again! But how I hear you ask? Well, take a wee gander at this:

But what will he do now??

My head hurts.

(From Green Lantern v2 #57).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How did any of these folks survive?

From Green lantern vol 2, \43. the disembodied hand is Major Disaster's.

Well said Mssrs Allen and Jordan. well said.

Honestly. I wonder what was left of him?

(Currently listening to Tyr. Best stress relief ever.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Trip me up and call me Nora. That was a rollicking good week.

Herein lies big big spoilers for the following comics:
Teen Titans #74, The Flash: Rebirth # 4, Wonder Woman #35, Gotham City Sirens #3, Green Lantern #45, Blackest Night: Titans #1.
There will be no spoilers for Blackest night: Superman #1 because my store still hasn't got it in. They reckon there may be a problem with shipping to the UK. Any other UK folks had the same problem?
There will also be no spoiler for Superman because that got missed from my pile so I shall be heading back to the city to pick it up tomorrow. I am sure it will be good. Well I hope so anyway.
So, on with the squee! (and there is such a lot this week).
[edit - i cancelled Det Comics last week. It's just not interesting me. i'm rather annoyed about that.]
Teen Titans #74
Oh no. :(
Oh no no no no no no no.
Eddie's dead. (Do not insert Rocky horror show reference).
I am heartbroken. Eddie is too good to die. :( I mean, it's a good move story wise because killing off a newer member would just have been crass, and he did die a truly heroic death. how, I hear you ask? Well nuclear man (not his actual name) was sort of defragmenting at the prison, so Eddie pelted over there, still without powers I will add, and took nuclear man up in the shuttle to outer space where he exploded without harming the city.
Oh Eddie. :( The rest of the Titans were fighting down on the ground so couldn't take over, but M'Gann realised what Eddie was up to, and her, Cassie and Blue Beetle flew up to try and stop him but they didn't get there in time.
What is Rose going to do when she finds out? Beat seven shades of crap outta the folks who orchestrated this I reckon. Those two were made for each other. :(

After his death Cassie has a pity fit thinking she's a crap leader, and Bombshell gives her a pep talk, saying they should learn from their mistakes instead of running away from them.
looks like they're getting some respect for each other.

Oh this was good, but oh so sad.

Eddie better not come back as a Black Lantern. I've no idea what sits where continuity wise, so hopefully this is not even a possibility.

As for the Ravager back up, well last issue some folks had decided to kill her. As you can imagine it didn't work and she beat them silly.

The Flash: Rebirth # 4
Oh holy fuck! Max is back Max is back! *does the happy Max is back dance*
Oh I've been waiting soooo long for this!
A lot of the issue is about the things that draw the speedsters home when they're stuck in the speed force. Max claims he doesn't have anyone like that. Barry tells him he's a father to Bart, and brings him home. Oh I welled up reading this.
The (original?) Zoom is back and in command of a negative speed force. It is revealed that Barry created the speed force when he had his chemical accident. Bart punches Zoom in the face and then Zoom is about to stab him in the neck. Next page is a full splash of Max standing tall, lightening crackling, stating the pleasure [of fighting and winning] will be all his. Bart is knocked to the ground and is stunned, incredulous and happy that Max is back.

Plotwise, one last mention should go to Jai and Iris. Great little kids. Irey reminds me of katei power from Marvel's Power Pack. If you haven't read any of the original Power Pack you really should go and hunt it out. Start with the earlier issues, because it goes a bit wrong later on.

The art on this issue is stupendous. If you're in anyway interested in the Flash family, Bart or Max, go buy this issue.

Over on heartbart everyone is pretty stoked about this issue. Deerane has posted a Max/Bart picture and it's so lovely I just have to share:

There's also some adorable fan fiction up concerning the Connor/Bart/Tim reunion.
Love Bart. There's one very happy fan over here.

Wonder Woman #35
Simone writes good female friendships. It is clear that Diana has a great deal of respect for Dinah and vice versa. It's also clear that Simone enjoys writing these characters. I don't often get a feel for that sort of emotion.
Diana and Dinah found the Ame-Comi DC statue of Diana. They weren't very impressed. God knows what they'll think if they see the new one.
I've really liked these last 2 issues and now I am pretty certain I'll buy the Wondy trades.

Gotham City Sirens #3
Not much of the Sirens in this issue, instead it focuses on the Riddler and his meeting with the new Batman. Still good though. Thoroughly enjoyable. good art. Still cheesecakey and asserific, but this week I've decided I don't care. There's room in the superhero comic world for T+A, just so long as we've also got non exploitative issues to go alongside it.

I like the cover - very much about the bodies, and most definitely using the women's sexiness to sell the issue - it looks like a scene from a strip joint, but the colours are lovely.
It's amazing how much my interpretation changes dependent on my general mood...
At least this book is upfront about it. I can't stand it when media tries it pass itself off as fair and just, yet includes crass and insulting portrayals of women. It's linked in to my views on lads mags and how they should they be on the top shelf. But that's a whole other post.

Green Lantern #45
Carol Ferris as Star Sapphire vs Sinestro. She tries to show him the power of love, he lashes out and pushes it away. I think the Sapphires are being a little close minded trying to convert everyone to the power of love, we need other emotions too.
The Black rings are hovering around Odym, home of the Blue corps, waiting for death to claim the corps.
Agent Orange is on Okarra and about to be ransacked by a huge number of Black lanterns that have just risen. Yuh-oh.
The Indigo Corps haven't risen yet, but there's hints that they shall do so soon. the Black corps state that 'as soon as it's bearers shine the indigo light it will be ours'. Does this mean that the Black corps can only assault the other Corps if they are utilising their powers? Indigo for compassion. I *really* want to see what they can do.
The most entertaining part, and dare I say it, the best part, was Xanshi becoming a Black Lantern. For those that don't know, Xanshi is a planet. There is now a revenant planet. Most. fun. thing. ever. Is it gonna go smash into Mogo? Is it gonna hurtle towards earth? hee hee, so much fun!

Kalinara will be pleased. Kalinara, are you psychic?! Or was every GL fan expecting this and I just hadn't cottoned on?

Either way. Hell yeah.

Blackest Night: Titans #1
No rejuvenated dead planets in this one, but still plenty good.
Rose is in it, she's just had a one night stand and is telling the guy to get out, presumably because she doesn't like getting close to people.
Bart is in it, complaining about his statue not looking like him. Ed Benes does the artwork on this. I do like the basic idea of his faces, they're sensual, unfortunately they all tend to look the same. Not much variety.
So, who comes back in this one?
Hank Hall. He kills the current Hawk.
The original Terra. She starts snogging Gar.
Lilith - she must be a former Titan, but I've not come across her before.
Troia's daughter will be back and on panel in the next issue.

All good stuff, and my am I glad I chose this event to get fully involved in.

A bloody great week all told.

My Little Pony Customs

Found a photo gallery of some excellent My Little Pony customs on the Guardian website the other day.

For wiec:

For the comics fans:

For the Uma Thurman fans:

(Scarily accurate. Does this mean Uma Thurman is secretly a plastic horse?)

For the nostalgics:

There's Star Wars MLPs, Edwrad Scissorhands MLPs, Jonny Depp MLPs, more He-man stuff, and Elvis and a Heath Ledger Joker. Check it out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Women in Refridgerators and female friendships in comics

[EDIT- I am referring to DC comics here as that is pretty much all I read. Should have made that clearer in the original post, but I wrote this about a week ago and knocked it out late at night. The shame.]

The WiR phenomenon -

I've been scrolling through the old WFA posts and came across this one by Kalinara dealing with the Women in Fridges phenomenon. To quote a few choice phrases:

it's not about them being women. It's about them being a love interest.....The problem is that there needs to be more female (or gay) heroes who have male love interests who can die/be brutalized just as effectively. The problem is that there needs to be more female heroes..... ...(GL Kyle's girlfriend) Alex was created to die. Marz saying this has been cited as an example of his misogyny. Which is idiotic. She's *backstory*. Just like Martha and Thomas Wayne. Just like the Flying Graysons. Janet Drake. Ted Kord's dead mother. Jor-El of Krypton. J'onn J'onzz's wife. Hell, even Abin Sur. Her death is a motivator and inspiration for the hero. That's it. The sole difference is that we actually got to see them interact for a few issues before her death. But you know what? That's actually *respect*. ...The thing is though, we can't shy away from killing female characters just because they're women. That's sexism as well.

I've posted about WiR before, I know I have. Initially I thought it was an example of sexism. Now, I'm more inclined to second what Kalinara said. The reason for these characters deaths are that they're the love interest, they're the significant other, the close family member or the friend. We're supposed to empathise with and feel for the hero who gets it all taken away. It's something I quite enjoy as a plot device, because I'm a fan of tragedy. It makes me emote.

I've come to realise that i'm far more bothered about fictional women's lives revolving solely around men, or about spine twistingly bad art, or ridiculously impractical costumes. I think those types of things are far more indicative of sexism than the WiR happenings. And, as Kalinara said, if we had more women superheroes then we'd (hopefully) have men being killed off to further the women's chaarcter/plotline.
Then again we'd probably start off by having the male significant others beocme as important as the women and then we'd have plotlines revolving solely around the women's romantic lives..but you can see how it would eventually turn out to be a good thing.

Which brings me nicely onto my next point...
Female friendships in comics -
(This is of course a reaction to Simone's reaction to Cry for Justice #3, wherein she points out the lack of female friendships in comics)

I can think of a few. One is Kara (Supergirl) and Cassie (wonder girl) but of course that didn't last very long, I can't quite remember why now, but I think it was to do with Cassie admitting that she only stayed friends with Kara because Kara was a link to Connor. Thereby making it all about the mens. Again.
Number 2 is Power Girl and Terra's new friendship - started in the Terra mini and continued in Power Girl number 4. Hopefully this will remain an actual friendship.
Number 3 - Fire and Ice in the days of JLI.
Number 4 - The original Batgirl and Supergirl. Or so I've been told.
Number 5 - Linda Danvers Supergirl and Mattie (non powered doctor friend).
Number 6 - Selina Kyle and whatshername from the Frank Miller Batman book..the prostitute.

5. In the history of DC comics I can come up with 5.*

Let's try male friendships:
Supes and Bats
Booster and Blue Beetle
Flash and Green Lantern (Barry and Hal, Wally and Kyle, Jay and Alan)
Green Arrow and Green Lantern
The Atom and Hawkman
The Flash' Rogues Gallery
Green Lantern and Green Lantern and Green Lantern and Green Lantern (Hal, John, Guy and Kyle)

In half the time it took me to come up with the women's list, I came up with half as much again for the men.

Wait, how about Harley and Ivy. But I could argue that a lot of their relationship is built around Harley' destructive relationship with the Joker (or, I could be wrong as I ahven't read much of Harley's series). As for Selina Kyle and whatshername..their lives were still based around men, both the good and the bad.

Who is Lois' good female friends? Who is Wonder Woman friends with?

Oh I just thought of another - Spoiler and Cassandra Cain.

So, there is a case for there being a fair amount of female friendships in comics, but they don't seem to be as long lasting as the mens. Part of this is due to the fact they are newer characters, or the characters were killed off. The list of male friendships feature far more iconic character and the relationship seems to be embedded much more deeply than the women's friendships.

Part of this may be due to the comparative lack of women superheroes, and within that group, the lack of truly iconic women superheroes. Then there's the old chestnut that women are still being written in terms of how they relate to men - i'm sure by now you've all heard of the Bechdel test, google it if not.

Sam at Retconing My Brain has just written about this very thing (her post inspired mine, actually) and in that post she writes about how women in sexual relationships with each other is still a rare thing, and how she would like to see more of it.

Which goes hand in hand with what Simone was saying, I think. Simone wants more rounded female characters and relationships, ones that don't focus on or relate to men. Well, writing a true lesbian or bisexual relationship between two women would do that. I don't mean writing something cheesecakey, ooh la la, nudge nudge wink wink, phwooar isn't she hot type of thing. That would be about the men, the male readers. I mean writing about women in relationships with each other as a real thing. I have a personal investment in wanting more (any?) bisexual people (women) in superhero comics of course, because right now I can't think of any bi characters. if you readers know of any, please tell me in the comments.

We need more real women characters in comics. It will make the artform better.

*I realise the lists are completely unscientific and generated off the top of my head. I make no claims to objectivity.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reading the Buffy omnibuses

I started on book3, as that's the library had in first. The art is rubbish - the difference between Cordelia and Willow is the skirt length - the plot and writing is as you'd expect.

There's one story set at Thanksgiving, and I have to ask the Americans out there-
Pumpkin pie filling, in a tin? Really? Isn't pumpkin pie filling basically pumpkin? And probably sugar and butter/lard, thinking of the Thanksgiving feast's I've attended.

I can't believe you can buy pumpkin pie filling in a tin.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's been another super powered week

Reviews and spoilers ahead for:
Power Girl # 4, Supergirl #44, Superman Annual #14, Superman/Batman #63 and Wednesday Comics #6 + 7. I was a little late reading Wednesday Comics # 6.
Power Girl # 4
Hurrah this was very enjoyable. Far better than issues 1 and 2. Karen and Terra have a girls night out to the pictures and Terra learns more about surface life. Karen is revealed as a hardcore horror fan, which pleases me no end, and then the city is attacked by mythical creatures and elf queen. Terra fights in her knickers, knee high socks and t-shirt as she wasn't wearing her costume. Karen headbutts a dinosaur (i'll get a scan up when I remember to do one), wrestles a manga styled tentacled thing and saves the day.
The art is cute as ever and like a lot of Amanda Connor's stuff, the best bits sometimes take in the background, e.g. the wino taking note when Karen and Terra are changing.

Speaking of the art, and the costume change, Connor's art does feature a lot of cheesecake. Prominence is given to boobs and bums and it's every bit as sexy focused as a lot of other artists I've complained about. One of the differences in Connor's work is that the anatomy is at least realistic. Her style is also quite refreshing - it's cute, it doesn't try to be 'adult', if you get what I mean.

I'm mentioning this for a couple of reasons. 1 is that I don't want to be seen to be hypocritical, deriding male artists' work and praising women's work. That would be crap and sexist. Another is that I think it's fair to point out that using women artists doesn't automatically solve all problems in the industry - from my very uninformed and entirely speculative viewpoint, I reckon it's a culture issue as much as anything.
3, Connor's art may emphasise the sexy but at least the subjects bend and move like humans are meant to. Also, she doesn't sexualise every female character in every panel. It's a more gentle approach.
Lastly, I shall add that I do still like Connor's art, but I tend to read her comics with one raised eyebrow.

Supergirl #44
This issue suffered for being part of the Codename: Patriot story arc. I didn't feel like it was focused on Kara, but more on the events around her. I'm not sure how interesting this would have been, or how much sense it would have made, to those not following the crossover. The issue was more geared around moving the crossover plot forward, which fair enough, needs to be done, but it came across as more of a filler issue than vital to the plot in it's own right. I understand how certain things have to happen so we could get to the next chapter, and this will probably read fine as a trade, but it didn't work very well as a monthly issue.

Having said that, there some positive points - Ral-Dar has got more interesting and the Lois-Kara interchanges, and Lois-Clark-Kara disagreement was good. These felt important to the long term character development of all involved, not just necessary for this one crossover.

Up until this issue I was actually really pleased with the Codename: Patriot arc. It is concluded in Superman 691 and then we get the Hunt for Reactron crossover. Next Supergirl issue we get to see Kara and Thara meet again properly, then the Hunt for Reactron concludes the following issue. I'll be glad when these crossovers have finished and we get to see some more self contained (at least within the WONK arc) stories.

Superman Annual #14
All about Mon-El. Tying up his origins and his links with earth. I did rather like how it all panned out, but overall this book wasn't essential. There looks to be some problem with the printing because some of the text boxes were very blurry. That didn't help. My conclusion - pick up if you're a Mon-El fan, skip if not.

Superman/Batman #63
All about Batman, nominally about Supes. Grodd has taken over the earth, Superman has been banished, all other heroes have been eaten by Grodd and it's up to Batman to save the planet.
I didn't care for this. I don't care for Batman centred stories - I don't like detective or crime stories - and this did nothing for me.
Still, one not so great issue in a whole selection of gems is nothing to complain about.

Wednesday Comics #6 + 7
This has got a lot better. Maybe it's because I read them both together, or maybe I was in a better mood, but I got lot more out of these than previously.
Batman is still blah. Deadman, Green Lantern, Strange Adventures, Metal Men, Sgt Rock I quite happily skip and read only for reviewing purposes. The Demon/Catwoman strip is dull as and doesn't have enough Selina in.

The good stuff, is good -
Kamandi sees the girl kick some enemy ass and provide her name. They seem to both be drawn with quite childlike faces but she appears to have breasts, it's a bit odd. Overall I reckon this is gonna be a good yarn though.
Superman #6 was pointless, but #7 saw his house get blown up and then Kal emerged from the wreckage. A) I like that sort of happening, b) the art is still gorgeous.
Metamorpho - Ok, so the story is not remotely interesting to me, but I do like the presentation. This week (#7) we had a snakes and ladders game at the bottom of the strip.
Teen Titans - #6 sucked, #7 saw Tim having a bit of an insecure moment, so I'm wondering if it will all lead back to him by the end, The art is perfect.
Hawkman: I maintain that the first strip of 'flap flap flap' was good. #6 and 7 see Hawkman and the plane crashland on an island with dinosaurs. I like the little girl's huge eyes (caused by her thick glasses).
Flash- lots and lots of Barrys. I think it's all gone a bit wrong!
Wonder Woman - Etta Candy turns up and is great. I haven't read any Etta in the WW books but this incarnation is brilliant. The art remains wonderful.
Supergirl - #7 not as strong as #6, but satisfactory. The background detail that Connor provides makes me chuckle (Streaky playing with a starfish f'rinstance). In this strip Aquaman is a dick and makes Kara cry. She suddenly seems much younger. If she wants someone to talk to animals why doesn't she call up Diana? Nevermind.

Blackest night Superman hasn't shipped to my store yet, I think there might be problems with a lot of UK orders. I'll review that next week, if it's arrived by then.
I cancelled Detective Comics and Booster Gold.

I also saw in the Gentleman Ghost figure in the toy shop. I really really like this figure.

When does subtext become plain old text?

Consider this Green Lantern sample:

Manly encounter eh?
(Oh and take note of the spines don't work that way panel)

Oh, while we're at I did a post passing on an award a while back. Except I wrote it, then hit publish about 5 days later so I'm not sure how many people saw it. Since I'm recommending stuff I decided to highlight/link to it, so y'all would see it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Buffy season 6 makes me uncomfortable

It's a pretty good season, it's got some spectacular episodes, but it's not easy viewing.

The previous seasons have all been young, vital, they've had a sense of hope about them. Even when things got bad for the Scoobies they didn't get *that* bad. They still had each other. Dawn turned up and at first Buffy thinks she is the reason Joyce is hurting, but then the truth is discovered and they all rally round each other. Again. Even Spike is accepted.

Then Joyce dies, and Buffy dies and the heart goes out of the group. Willow gets a power trip, takes personal offence that her friend is dead and is so tied up in her own grief she can't see that horror of what she is doing. Buffy has been hauled out of heaven and for the first time in her life is utterly and incredibly alone. She can't tell her friends, she can barely function through each minute of the day. She is as low as you can get. The friends don't talk to each other. Xander and Anya are falling apart. No one notices Dawn. She has always acted quite young but this is because the rest of the gang treat her as if she's very young. They don't listen to her concerns. They don't even realise she has (unspoken) concerns, they don't learn from her attempt to summon a zombie mother. How stupid can you get?

In the musical episode Buffy reveals all and the only one who is blame free is Dawn - she didn't try to bring her back, she had no part in it, she just wants to be loved. Everyone else has their own selfish reasons for taking part in Buffy's return, or if they're Giles, is abandoning her. I mean, I thought he was meant to be intelligent? You wouldn't leave someone who's lower than suicidal alone would you?

Because they don't talk, everything falls apart. As for Willow's addiction to magic - it's less a metaphor for drugs and more about power - Willow always wanted to be cool and respected. She wanted power. Then she got it and it nearly broke her. She betrays Dawn, Buffy and Tara. Just as she's got it under control and redeemed herself she loses everything.

So, yeah. Uncomfortable viewing.

Season 7 on the other hand is inspiring and full of hope. Buffy is no longer on the brink, now she's steadfast, mature, determined, a real leader. Her friends are solid, they are a latticework of support. Even Anya is part of the group, despite the break up. They hear each others faults and they listen and they move on. They're a real team, they have a war to fight. This may be the most dangerous situation they've faced, but it's by no means the worst. they got through season 6, they can get through anything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So, I hear there's a debate about the NHS..

...and a whole lot of lies being spread. Contrary to what some reports are saying, we do not leave people to die in the UK.
I shall take some choices quotes from other sources. Innerbrat's LJ turned me onto this wordpress entry (reproduced in entirety):

I am writing to you because you are a friend of mine, because of various statements that have been made by American politicians and journalists about Britain’s National Health Service.

I do not like to try to interfere in American politics, because how you run your country is your own business, but your politicians have been lying, and they have been lying about me and my wife and many of our friends and relatives, so I feel an obligation to set the record straight.

Many of your politicians and journalists have been saying things like “Ted Kennedy wouldn’t get treatment for his brain tumour in the UK because of his age” (a Republican senator called Chuck Grassley said that). Sarah Palin said that in the UK babies with Down’s Syndrome would have to go before a ‘death panel’. And so on. I’m sure you’ve all heard many claims like this yourself.

These claims are lies, pure and simple. They’re not ‘opinions’ that people can disagree about, they’re not things that can be debated, they’re not honest mistakes, they’re out-and-out lies.

Many of you will know that I worked for the NHS for about three years. Some of you will also know that Holly, my wife, still does. Do we strike you as people who would work for an organisation that killed people? Your politicians and journalists are accusing us of being knowing accomplices to murder.

According to the CIA World Factbook, British people live on average seven months longer than Americans. Now, that doesn’t say much about either country’s health-care system, especially when you take lifestyle differences into account, but what you *can* tell from that is that we’re not killing our old people – you don’t get a high life expectancy by killing people!

The tiny grain of truth in all of these lies is that in the NHS, an organisation called the National Institute for Clinical Excellence decides what treatments the NHS will and will not pay for. It does this by measuring how much extra healthy life a given treatment will give a patient, and how much it costs – just like your insurance company does. All healthcare systems have a budget – no system can spend an infinite amount of money, after all – so choices have to be made. The difference is, in your system, the choice is made based on whether you can afford to pay for it. Here, the choice is made based on how much you need it. If you’re 77 years old, like Ted Kennedy, and you have a brain tumour, you’ll get treatment so long as there’s a good chance of it working and giving you a few more years of good life. If there isn’t much chance of that, the government won’t pay it, that’s all. Just like your insurance company won’t pay for expensive treatments that won’t help you, neither will the British government.

And no-one is stopped from paying for treatment if it’s not funded by the NHS. People in Britain can still get private health insurance if they want to and can afford it, and can ask for treatments that the NHS don’t provide. Mostly they don’t, because it works for most people.

I know at least one homeless person who has been given treatment for cancer – and he was homeless before the treatments, not because of them – in Britain, if you’re sick you will get treated, no matter how much money you have. And no matter how old you are, or how disabled.

One American news source recently said that Professor Stephen Hawking would be allowed to die over here, because of his illness. In fact Prof. Hawking has lived in the UK all his life and has nothing but praise for his treatment by the NHS. Sarah Palin says people with Down’s Syndrome would be refused treatment* – that would be news to the people with Down’s Syndrome I used to work with, many of whom had had heart operations on the NHS**.

On average, people in the USA spend twice as much on healthcare as people in Britain – and more than any country in the world. Despite that, according to the World Health Organisation, the USA’s health system is 37th in the world, while the British one is 18th.

There are plenty of faults with the British health care system – and I hope that your legislators learn from them and get you a better system than we have – but it works. We do not kill old people. We do not kill disabled people. If we did, then Holly and I , instead of working for the NHS, would be fighting against it with every ounce of strength we have.

There are arguments that can be made against our system, just as there are arguments for it, and if you agree with those arguments then that’s fine – I have no intention to change your mind here. I am just trying to let you know that I am not an accessory to murder, and that anyone who says I am is a liar.

My good friend Admiral Drax also wrote some stuff a little while back (emphasis mine):

For those of you not in the UK, the NHS is the National Health Service. I know socialised healthcare is becoming more of an inflammatory issue in the US, and by no means do I wish to get all political here, but in my 29 years the 'free' healthcare from the NHS has never once failed to impress me, so I thought I'd share some positive stories, below:

My wife - from Chicago - loves the fact that her entire pregnancy ordeal is free throughout; free prescriptions for a year afterwards too. This was brought home recently by a successful friend of hers in California who jokingly suggested selling his newborn daughter in order to pay the medical fees: it hadn't even struck me that such things had to be paid for. Of course, his medical insurance will help him out, but he still needs to find the cash up-front.

My father-in-law - self-employed - can't afford to retire for the foreseeable future, because at 63 he's still footing extensive medical bills for severe back and knee injuries he received in a chopper crash way back in the 60s with the USMC [I do mean severe, too: in the last decade he's had 3(!) knee replacements, two vertebrae removed and had to have his spine rebuilt].

(Incidentally, after his first knee replacement shattered whilst visiting us over here, causing him immense pain, he was pleasantly surprised to receive free advice and a stack-load of freebie painkillers from our helpful local pharmacist. Normally, any prescription costs no more than £6.50, unless it's normally sold more cheaply. That's a blessing.

My wife's half-sister, when she first visited as a 13-year-old a few years ago, got bad earache on the plane, and refused to let us take her to the doctor, worried that her up-tight mum would be angry with her if she found out we'd spent money on a visit to the GP. If I never again hear a child worried about the incurred expense of seeing a doctor when he or she is ill or in pain, I shall die happy. That should be a given.

My late mother had a defibrillator installed (if 'installed' is the right word!) in lieu of a pacemaker. It cost £35,000 at the time - way more than my parents earned between them in a year - and with all the fantastic treatment she got for three years it didn't cost a penny beyond what we all pay in Tax and National Insurance.

In comparison to this, our beloved hound, Cadfael, had to have a couple of lumps removed back in June, and it cost over £350. I had to pay that up front before I could claim most of it back on his pet insurance, less the premium. That left a real dent, and I dread to think how I could find the money for anything more costly...or human...

I know the system isn't perfect; I know it has its detractors, and of course some other countries do it way better than us. I also know it's by no means actually free...but Man, I love the security of the NHS.

As for me? Without the NHS my mum may have died from heart disease - she had stents installed last year. For a while we thought she may have had to have a heart bypass. I was worried sick enough about the possible op, I don't know what we'd have done if we had to pay for it.
Without the NHS my Dad would never have been tested for strokes or heart attacks.
Without the NHS one of my friends would be dead from complete organ failure during childbirth.
Without the NHS several of my friends and I would still be mentally ill, and quite possibly dead from suicide.
Without the NHS my contraceptives would probably be too expensive to obtain.
Without the NHS my trips to hospital when younger would have cleaned out my parents.
Without the NHS my friend who had scolisois of the spine would be crippled.
Without the NHS my mother in law would never have had a hip replacement and would be in agony.
Without the NHS I would be functionally blind and I would have no teeth- my eye tests were free until the age of 19, help was available towards the cost of glasses. I paid for eye tests and the full price for glasses until 2 years ago when my eyesight tipped over into a complex prescription and now I get assistance once more. Dentists are still expensive but without the NHS I would not be able to afford to go at all and my teeth would have rotted away.

I could go on and on. You can get gender reassignment surgery on the NHS. If I break a bone I will get seen immediately. When I'm with a friend who's having a bad day and she cuts herself I can call the ambulance to mop her up.

I wouldn't have this option if I had to pay for it. The NHS is a wonderful thing. Don't believe the lies.

Here's a petition. Go read the comments. Please consider signing it.

*Maybe this reveals more about Palin's view of those with Down's, hmmm?
**Feminist Avatar has clarified this in the comments. Please read.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who's the new Batgirl?

I'm *dying* to know. I can't get my comics till Thursday at the earliest, possibly not till Monday if I don't get paid till then and I am uber curious.
Does anyone want to leave a reveal in the comments? And leave your reaction and views on the new contender(s)?

I really hope it's not Steph. I want her to move on and away from the Bat family, establish an identity of her own. Moving into the Batgirl identity, would be a step backwards for her, I feel.

EDIT: OK I found out who she is. What do y'all think?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How does Hal Manage?

If he's going to get so surprised by villains turning up that he gets frozen in place?
These GL stories are really rather good. And funny.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Amanda Connor to do a line of DC statues

Starting with Hippolyta:

Thumbs up for not doing a Diana Wondy. Treble thumbs up for making it look so wonderful.
More info here. A second view available here. *swoon* The hair! The expression! The stance! May I marry her now please?

How evil is evil?

What do you think readers?
For a bit of context:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No revenants, no super folks, just your everyday heroes

To the last of this week’s reviews. Spoilers head for Booster Gold #23, Green Arrow/Black Canary #23, Red Robin #3. Here’s a hint: Only one of these books was worth reading.
Booster Gold #23
The only good thing about this was the cover. As of the next time I visit the comic shop this titled will be dropped. Next.

Green Arrow/Black Canary #23
The first of the proper split issues – last month’s issue had GA as the back up. Or maybe they’ll be switching it around every so often?

Like The Adventure Comics stories it seems like the main and second feature will overlap. This makes sense for GA/BC as they are married so you would expect their stories to crossover. We start with GA bitching about Dinah asked him to stop being Green Arrow, thereby spectacularly missing the point of her complaint. She was asking him to stop being so violent, not stop being a hero. He has been very violent over the last few years: instead of pinning some criminal to the ground through their clothes he’ll put an arrow through their arm. That’s not heroic. As much as I love Ollie that’s definitely verging on the side of vengeance, not Justice. At the end of the story Dinah comes to the rescue and knocks out the villain with a boot to the head. Very very cool. Ollie and Dinah act like a team and Dinah leaves with Cupid, taking her to safety.

As for Dinah’s story, we see her by herself beating herself up for the Discord incident. It makes sense that she’s by herself because her and Ollie have just had a pretty big fight. It also make sense that she’s rebuking herself for the Discord incident – it reminded me of when she was getting all guilty about Sin during her solo mini series. As much as I didn’t like her decision there we are seeing continuity in her characterisation.

Anyway, Wildcat turns up and tells Dinah to quit feeling bad. She then gets a call from Ollie where all is awkward due to their fight and she goes to meet him where we cut to 20 minutes later and it seems like Ollie has been blown up. The last 2 panels are of both Cupid and Dinah going Babe? As they seen the exploded building, followed by some not very impressed looks at each other. So this is how we get to Cupid and Dinah being on the run and working together. It makes sense. I wonder if all those nay sayers who were bitching about the solicit a few months back will be retracting their statements?

I must say I do like Cupid. I also liked the panel arrangement for Ollie’s story and the art for Dinah’s. The inker on Ollie’s story had gone a bit over the top I think – too much black, not enough texture.
Overall, this issue gets a big thumbs up.

Red Robin #3
Ahh Timmy. You are an angry little thing aren’t you? Like Booster Gold, this book had a great cover but the issue itself didn’t do a lot for me. Cassie turns up and Tim shuts her out. Last issue he shut out the Spoiler. Next issue I’ll betcha anything he shuts out Connor. What’ll happen when Bart turns up? Couldn't they have done all this in one issue?

I’m a bit confused as to why Tim in civilian clothes and Tim in the Red Robin suit have such different builds. Maybe the suit has 5 extra layers added?

I do appreciate the English girl using British slang, and getting it right. She sounds like me and my mates. Tim doesn’t seem to like her cursing, which is odd cos so far she’s just said knob. Don’t you American guys call it swearing over there?

The art is enjoyable – Cassie looks very fresh faced and cute, as does Tim. I’m betting this penciller would do a cute Kara.

Overall, this issue wasn’t too great. But it remains on my pull list because I liked the first two issues and I’m willing to give Tim quite a long chance.

Super reviews

Told ya I bought a lot this week. After this post there's one more to come, which will cover GA/BC, Booster Gold and Red Robin. this post features spoilers for Adventure Comics #1/504, Action Comics #890, Superman Secret Files 2009 and Wednesday Comics #6.
Adventure Comics #1/504 Pretty pretty pretty. Oh the skies. All pinks and golds and blues and greens. Oh I haven't seen art this pretty in quite a while. The colourist is named Brian Buccellato. Give the man an award. is this what the skies are really in (the west of?) America? I live in a pretty pretty county, which I name the flatlands, and if I ever got out into the countryside for a sunset I think we'd have skies like this. But not as expansive. One day I'm gonna get to America for a couple of months and do a road trip across the South and the West.

In this issue we see Connor re adjusting to Smallville life. He's grown up so much in the past few years and is now trying to reconcile the Superman part of him with the Luthor part of him. Krypto steals his thunder and rescues the girl, eliciting cries of the cuteness of the cape. Ugh, I know women like that, I am not one of them. Bart is incredibly hyperactive. More so than usual I thought - he seems rather young in this, but maybe he's just very happy to all his friends to be back.

The Legion of Superheroes backup caught my attention. I maintain they've all got stupid names but this was interesting. This Starman character seems a bit mad, or at the very least clueless about 12st century life. I read somewhere that he's meant to have schizophrenia. Well i'm pretty certain that that my friends, is not an accurate depiction of someone with schizophrenia.

It looks like the main and the backup stories will interlink, which is good. I'll stick with Adventure Comics for as long as they have Superboy as the lead and they stick with this art team.

Action Comics #890
Oh my, right back in the action. After last months poor performance this issue is back on form and completely action packed (pardon the pun).
We get to see a lot of what the average joe in the DCU thinks of Kryptonians, Kal and Kara come to earth chasing Ral-Dar and along with Mon-El save a bunch of pilots. Nightwing and Flamebird get treated like celebrities and Thara gets jealous. Christopher acts rather young in this, which is fitting seeing as he has physically if not mentally or emotionally grown in a pretty short space of time. Lois and Clark have a gorgeous reunion and there are some further reveals about the rogue Kryptonians who Thara and Chris have been after (so did not see that coming!), and also about who is working with who.
Overall the art is good, some places it seems average, other places, like with Lois and Clark's reunion and Chris and Thara's fight it is very effective.

I still don't care about Captain Atom but I am definitely gonna keep this book on the pull list.

Superman Secret Files 2009
I ummed and ahhed about whether it was worth getting this book and in the end i'm glad I did. It's got a lot of character backstory which was helpful for finding out about Non, what Kara's current history is and how Argo City/Kandor/Brainiac and the destruction of Kryption fit in. I am not so fussed about the maps of New Krypton or Kandor, but I know that will please a lot of other people.

As for the stories, Ursa's one was vaguely interesting, I suspect i'm not overwhelmed because I don't care much either way for the character. There is certainly nothing wrong with the story. Mon-El's story was delightful - it followed him and his partner on an average day/week in the SP. I like Mon but I don't like his short haircut. I don't like him enough to follow him into the pages of the new JLA but I am tickled by the idea of SuperMon.

The Kara/Thara story was fantastic. I loved young Kara's clothes! Very Linda Danvers (my avatar) esque:

She also has little blue shorts and calf high red boots on. (Picture stolen from Anj).
In the funeral scene Kara was wearing a black version of her uniform - harking back to one of the Kelly (?) issues where she's wearing Connor's shirt, saves a kid from a bus and the kid mentions that Supergirl shouldn't wear black, it's too dark. Well, black is certainly appropriate for the funeral. Interesting that Alura was in red and white though.

I'm always interested in religious stories in comics so seeing young Thara was a delight. Mischievous young Kara resetting the nanny bot was fun.

All in all a pretty excellent issue.

Wednesday Comics #6
Kara takes the super pets to a yuppie Aquaman and Streaky plants sea urchins on her. :D One thing I haven't mention about Connnor's art is that I really admire the way Krypto is recognisabley the same dog breed as the Krypto in the main Super titles. I know jack all about drawing, but it seems to me Connor have quite a simple style, yet it's very very effective.
The Superman stip was all of 5 panels and didn't really do much. I haven't read any of the others and right now am not particularly bothered about the rest, with the exception of the Wondy strip.

Blackest Night reviews

I bought shedloads of stuff this week so am splitting the reviews into 2 sections. Spoilers ahead for Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1, Blackest Night #2, Blackest night: Green Lantern Corps #39, Blackest Night: Batman #1.
I should preface this post by saying I liked it all.
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1
This finally came in and man am I glad I decided to get this. Not being a GL reader these 3 issues have really helped set the scene. I'm also quite keen on how the covers fit together.
This issue looks at the Blue Corps (hope), and features a religious quest for faith. Now, if the blue rings choose folks based on their ability to inspire hope, shouldn't Superman become a Blue Lantern? He's the epitome of hope surely? Aside from that, this was a great little story.
The second story is about the Yellow Lanterns, and focuses on Mongul's son. The art for this is lovely - very simple blocks of colour are used, there's few pencil lines, a lot of the detail rests in the shading. I do like this sort of simplicity.
The final story is about the Indigo Tribe, whose emotion is compassion. This is a tribe with a a language that the Green rings can't translate. Maybe they are speaking in a code that is only used around outsiders? The rest of the universe doesn't know about the existence of this tribe so it's going to be really interesting when they do show themselves.
Finally there's a two page spread about the Green Lanterns. Yawn. even I know this. But it's probably useful for new readers.

Blackest Night #2
Oh yeah, this is good. I wish I could have got the variant Aquaman cover but it was twice the normal price, so I opted out of that. I discovered on Green Lantern Butts Forever that the black lanterns are not zombies, instead they are revenants. From wikipedia:
A revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living.
Mmmmm, revenant. What a good word, very creepy. Imagine that said in a whispered rustly voice in the dead of night.
Back to the comic. No one yet knows the full extent of the Black Lantern invasion. I think they all think their specific encounters are just one offs, which makes me think of the despair that will hit everyone when they realise everybody they know who's dead will rise again.
The issue open with the Atom talking to a now revenantised Carter Hall, who invites Ray over to talk. The last panel of Ray shows him looking ever so relieved and comforted. Not for long though.
Hal gets thrown into the Bat signal - a very good page. Barry and Hal fight a dead Martian Manhunter, flames don't bother him.
Mera, Tempest and some Atlantis warriors discover Arthur's grave has been ransacked. Tempest is killed and rises again. Mera fights for her life. Dead sharks eat the warriors (possibly my favourite part of this comic). The idea of the dead heroes still having all their powers is a truly terrifying one. Especially Aquaman's telepathy.
Deadman freaks out, but this is dealt with further in Blackest Night: Batman.
The Spectre is in a graveyard with Zatanna, Blue Devil and the Phanton Stranger. The Spectre wants Hal back. I'm not sure what has happened to Crispus Allen - I like Allen. I hope he stays involved in this.

Fun fact: if you bosh the corpses in the head they can fix themselves. So far I'm mostly interested in the Hawks' story and Aquaman's. Because, Dolphin! Ok, evil dead Dolphin, but I love her.

Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps #39
We open with a shot of Guy and Kyle flying along, Guy on his back, eating doughnuts and reading, and Hal leisurely laying on his crossed arms. Good shot. What is Wriggley field? is it a sports arena? I don't get these cultural reference points.
There's a lot of background detail and story to this comic, not all of which I fully appreciate, but that didn't stop it being an enjoyable read.
I think we saw the black rings hitting Guy and Kyle, Soranik and the other Lantern in a previous blackest night comic. Fine by me - I like the way they are each linking in, each book giving more detail and background, but hopefully for those that don't want to buy all the tie ins, the references will make it all understandable.
The scene in the Crypt was great. Poor Crypt keeper. Hell, poor universe. Will there be any limit on the number of black rings? Now it looks like Kyle might be Black Lanternised. excellent.

Blackest Night: Batman #1
Hey, check me out. I bought a Batman book. In which Deadman freaks out some more, can't handle being in his revenant, goes after Bruce but finds himself in Dick, then Damian starts being a dick and punching the guy who's driving the car, so Deadman moves into Damain, thoroughly freaking him out. Dick is brought up to speed and warned against Damian's homicidal nature, they go to the cemetery and find Tim's folks' bodies missing. Tim is recalled to Gotham. Oh Tim.
Oh and the black rings revitalise 9 villains bodies that were being transported via plane. I don't know any of these guys name,s but one of them looks suspiciously like a puppet. So the rings can reanimate those which have never been alive. Interesting.

By the way, who is on the cover putting their hand through DickBatman?

One last note - in one of the books, I can't remember which now, it is revealed that not all the dead can rise. One of the Hall brothers, the one who was Dove, can't be reanimated. Someone suggested this is because he died at peace. Whereas, the other brother (Hank?) who wore the mantle of Hawk, and was a right angry bugger if my memory serves correctly, can be reanimated. Ver-ry interesting. However, considering how many people die at peace in the DCU I can't see this having a huge effect on the numbers of dead that will rise.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flash - oh oh - he's the saviour of the universe

Dum de dum dum.

I bought some Flash trades the other week so will share my thoughts with you all. I will also mention Wonder Woman #34 and JLA Year One.

The Flash, the Fastest Man Alive: Lightning in a Bottle
Yup, it's the Bart Allen Flash. I've been meaning to get this for ages but my shop didn't have it on the shelf and I was loathe to commit to spending more money. Then I saw it in another shop and just thought the hell with it, let's buy.

I don't care what anyone says I like this run. Bart may be all grown up and a bit darker but he's still got that innocence and naivety about him. This trade deals with Bart's feelings towards taking up the mantle of the Flash, given all that has happened during the crisis. He has a lot of nightmares, a lot of friends in danger moments, a true asshole of a flatmate and a lot of support from Jay, Joan and STAR labs.

The art changes quite a lot, which is a pity, because issue #3 is absolutely stunning and now I wish the whole run was done the same way. HeartBart uses a couple of images from this issue on their banner. To be fair, it's not just number 3's art which is great though. The inker for issue #1 is also pretty fabulous and does a brilliant Jay Garrick.

If you're a Bart fan you should buy this. If you're an art fan you should buy this. I don't think anything I say will convince casual fans or Wally fans to try it. The story isn't terrible, I don't get why everyone hates on it so much. Is it because it's not cheerful and jolly? Do people object to Bart being used this way? I object to the end of the run, but that doesn't make it a bad story.

The Flash: the Human Race
Upon my joy at finding the above Flash trade in stock I also noticed a copy of The Human Race on the shelves. I dithered for a few moments then decided i'd get this too. I was then
served by the least likely people to be working in a comic shop ever. It was very bizzare, but that's another story. Onwards..
This trade is about Wally outrunning death, or the Black Flash as we come to know him. It starts with some intergalactic giant gamblers coming to earth and insisting that a representative of ol' Terra run an everlasting race, or earth will be destroyed.
Wally signs up to the task then finds he is being forced to run against his childhood imaginary friend, Krakkl, who lives in Radioland. I won't spoil the story as I'm sure you all can guess the end result. It's the details and how they get there that makes this so interesting. To whet your appetite, I shall say that there are entire worlds out there who are running, nonstop.

The second half of the trade deals with the Black Flash actually stalking Wally. He doesn't get him, but there are some casualties along the way. There's a big deal made about Wally and Linda's relationship and Wally grows a terrible little goatee.

The final story is Flash of Two Worlds, and is told from the point of view of a young Titan. We find out about a bridge that goes nowhere and see how Jay and Barry first met. I believe this is a retelling of a silver age book that detailed the first cross universe meeting of the Flashes. But I could be wrong.

JLA Year One
One of my favourite trades. Written by Mark Waid this has some really great characterisation. Aquaman is shown adjusting to surface life, and mumbling because sound doesn't carry so well over water. Dinah grows into herself as a hero and a person and finds out some uncomfortable truths about the JSA. Barry is calm, laid back and torn between a desire to do good and not screw things up with Iris. Hal is an arrogant womaniser who manages to calm down and work well with others. J'onn J'onzz is oh so lonely and mistrustful of earth folks, but also truly heroic.

There are a few cameos by Green Arrow, Superman and Batman but this book is very much about the greatest group of heroes and all the other 'stars' of the DCU recognise their combined worth and efforts. There is of course an apocalyptic battle at the end, which is pretty good fun.

Over all this is a really good intro to the heroes and the JLA. Shame it's not canon anymore.

Wonder Woman 34
So, I finally bought a Gail Simone penned Wonder Woman issue. I think Simone is a good writer, but I find her very wordy and my experience of BoP is that she works best when read as trades, not as individual issues. However, this issue had Black Canary in. So I bought it.

I liked it. I still find Simone wordy (and that's not at all a criticism) and so it takes me twice as long to read her books. She can however write Dinah very well. Hell, she gives each character a distinct character. God, I shouldn't be impressed by that, it should be the standard, but then again, there's a lot of hack writers out there. Dinah was quite clearly having fun playing dress up with Diana. I believe that Dinah has wanted to do that for a long time and was waiting to see how far she could push it. There were some nice world building bits about Themysciran opera and the indignities of being carried fireman style over the ocean thrown in.

I will definitely be buying the next issue. I think y'all should do. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how it should be done.
But maybe in a less wordy manner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tv advertising - sexist?

I found a youtube clip of that mitchell and webb show earlier. View it here. It deals with sexist advertising and is very very funny. If i could embed videos i would, but i don't know how to so you'll have to follow the link.

First found on As, If and When.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You are a great read

A while ago wiec gave me this lovely award:

and I thought it was time I passed it on. And I like the picture. How cheeky.
Everybody on my link list is a great read. They are all blogs I follow and I recommend them all. having said that, I would like to draw your attention to the following, more unusual and non comic related ones:

Butch Girlcat: knee-deep in gender trouble: masculinity, genderqueerness, butchness, whatever. still with my highschool sweetheart, still checking out the girls
Menage a 3: Web comic. Awesome. Probably NSFW.
My Pal Itty: Also awesome. Less full of sex than Menage a 5. We need more strips though!
Welcome to Wayne Manor: Home of the Black cat, who does very cool Batfamily comic strips.
Advanced Style: Proof from the wizened and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

All in all, A Much Better Week

Far superior to last week.
Spoilers ahead for Superman: World of New Krypton #6, Wednesday Comics # 5, Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 and 3, Buffy #27
The winner by far this week was Superman: World of New Krypton #6.
I am loving this series. Instead of doing a general review I want to focus on Kara's costume, specifically her cape.
We start off with the tried and tested version, gold trimmed, tucked in around her neckline:

Then we get a different version, all high necked and, well, just take a peek:

Doesn't she resemble Alura there? In both the top and bottom left panel their costumes and stance fit together really well, you can see the familial relationship. I really love how they've done this. Now Kara has moved back to Krypton and has resolved to join the science guild in order to get to know her mother better, it's wonderful to see her posture and body language mirroring Alura's. Kara looks like she's got her mother's back and it also appears like they are nearly at an equal level in Krypton and the family heirarchy.

What is odd is that later Kara is drawn with a different neckline to her cape:
It's no longer covering her neck and is instead tucked into her top. I prefer the high necked version. It looks more regal, which befits a girl trained by Amazons and the daughter of Krypton's ruler. It's also distinctive. If I could influence the artists I would request the high necked version be made a permanent addition.

This book is superb. It has me engaged with the Codename: Patriot storyline. That's high praise from me.

Wednesday Comics # 5
Amanda Connor clearly knows cats because she's got the characteristics down pat.
Diana discovers her tiara.
Clark wonders where he came from.
Everything else I'd be happy to ignore.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 and 3
I got fed up of waiting for #1 to come in and read #'s 2 and 3. Boy am I glad I did! These rock. A great introduction to the different corps. Tales of the Star Sapphires was the best in issue #2 - it was done in what i guess you'd call a pink wash. Really effective. Carol Ferris was very real in it.
Lady Bleez in the Red Lantern story seems to have mutated into a version of Harley Quinn. Odd. Gratifying to see once instance of a woman going bad and actually wearing more clothes when evil though. The Orange Corps story was ratehr desolate wasn't it?
As for issue #3, the Green Lantern Kilowog story was beautifully illustrated and a lovely insight into both GL and Kilowog's history.
Arisia's tale had lovely shades in the colours but I don't like the overall style. I was thankful for the Blackest Night #0 commentary as I haven't got this issue.

Buffy #27
Ugh, the art in this still sucks. But the issue itself was better than last month's. The premise of not using magic is an interesting one. The cover is worth drawing attention to.
I found copies of the Buffy omnibuses in Waterstones the other day. I am very tempted to buy them, but they are 17 quid each. Ouch. Anyone else read them? What do you think? I liked the art in volume 2.