Tuesday, December 25, 2007

deck the halls ...

and yada-yada-yada. from us here at D.T.G.N., happy holidays to all!!!

in case you're feeling generous ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

tripping the force magnetic pt. 5

a last look at a '90s classic ... if we can call it that.

Fatal Attractions
Excalibur #71 "Crossing Swords"
Scott Lobdell/Ken Lashley/Darick Robertson/Matt Ryan
Cam Smith/Randy Elliott/Randy Emberlin/Mark Nelson

the cover for the last chapter of Fatal Attractions is indicative of what the '90s comics were evolving into - exaggerated musculature and poses, and the bigger breasts, the better. man, these guys work out a lot! look at Colossus' abs! his waist must be like 24"! his legs are like sequoias!

one thing that bugged me was that V on the Acolytes' unis. what does it mean? victory? five? peace? shouldn't it say 'M' for Magneto? this harkens back to the Voltes V/Mazinger Z cartoons. why does Voltes V have an 'M' on his chest (which becomes the cross guard of his laser sword), while Mazinger Z had a 'V'? what the hell, man. as Bill Simmons would say, i need to know these things.

ok, back to the program.

the story so far is Magneto is back from the dead (that phrase will still be uttered even by the time my grandkids are like 12) and on a recruitment drive. despite only bagging Colossus (and a couple of young mutants, Rusty and Skids), he makes life miserable for our heroes, dismantling Cable, and sucking the adamantium out of Logan, not to mention all those people who died during his initial display of power with an EMP.

a few of Magneto's Acolytes, like Spoor (Spoor? what the hell is his mutant power? hair growth?) below have been imprisoned by the X-Men for rehab. the locks look faulty because here we are, seeing him locked in mortal combat with Nightcrawler, in the driving rain of Muir Isle.

yeah, you know he'd fart out loud in a full elevator.

my sarcastic question is answered: Spoor's power is to emit pheromones to enhance anyone's emotional state. that would go well during family reunions and domestic disturbances. he's usually questioned during murder cases in CSI and Law and Order.

apart from that cheery incident (Spoor escaped because Excalibur forgot to lock the door), everything else is cheery. that is, until a visit from the (real) X-Men sends everyone to the liquor cabinet.

Professor Xavier thinks Peter's decision to up and leave can be tied in to a previous head injury (sustained at the hands of that loser X-Cutioner) and with the death of his sister, made him lean towards the Magster. so they want to perform a lobotomy on him ... well, kinda. but they have to lure him back to Earth, and so what better bait than his ex-, Kitty "You Can't Touch This" Pryde, a.k.a. Shadowcat.

Kitty consents after some drama, and a fake message about wanting to join the cause is emailed to Avalon (what? of course its "themanager@avalon.com". there wasn't any email then? really?). by the way, be careful about sending fake emails; you could get into trouble. seriously, dude.

the jerk Exodus, who couldn't prevent his master from being mind-wiped, assumes control of Avalon and thus Colossus has to ask permission for him to bring Kitty back. hey, i wonder how Exodus' voice sounds like. he has this special dialogue balloons that seem to imply he talks in sinister, gravelly tones.

of course, somewhere over the Southwestern desert, the man/cyborg who was recently dismantled by Magneto intercepts that same message, and he thinks correctly that Colossus is being set up by Excalibur and Xavier. i wonder why he thinks though, that he needs to show up, if he has some scores to settle with the Acolytes. why not just go back up to Avalon and kick their butt, given that Magneto is no longer a threat (or doesn't he know that)?

oh what big teeth you have, Nathan

or its just an excuse to have a family reunion (at this stage, it still has not been confirmed that Cable is Cyclops' long-lost son).

speaking of which Jean confides to a daughter she instantly had, about wedding plans in the future (yes, that's the classic X-Men #30). she'd have more time to talk with Rachel about this, if only because of Professor X's proclivity of butting into people's conversations and lives at the wrong time. what if Scott and Jean were having sex? damn telepaths!

look, he's even vaguely smug.

Cable's attempt to inject himself unobtrusively totally fails, and he comes face to face with his (as yet unconfirmed) sister.

pointing guns at kin - yep, that's one happy family

Colossus teleports in (well, i guess someone repaired the systems in so short a time - that was probably a hell of a bill), and talks to Kitty, who in turn, tries her best to win the Oscar for 1993 ...

... just enough to provide her mates to collar Colossus, who of course sees it as another betrayal. what part of "no" do they not understand? i don't wanna be lobotomized! leave me the hell alone!

elsewhere, there's at least one who agrees with Peter, and wants to kick his ass as well. to do that, he's willing to kick his family members too. was Cable raised by white trash (a.k.a. Britney Spears)?

being also someone who's been time-tossed like Cable, Rachel manifests a Captain Britain persona and calls him Askani'son briefly, which stuns Cable into behaving a bit. that, and a psionic sucker punch. which means the mystery of these relationships will be addressed at a later date.

surgery commences for Colossus, courtesy of Cyclops' eye beams. i wonder why he doesn't do this more often - construction work, laser research, that kind of thing. oh that's right, those bastard evil mutants doesn't leave him a free day in his calendar. damn.

this issue would be too boring without some sort of mutant slugfest (fisticuffs between kin and friends included), so the other Acolytes make an appearance to ehm, retrieve Colossus, but with all the intention of slugging it out with anyone who even disagrees with them verbally. good thing Kurt knows a thing or two about verbal. ol' Nightcrawler is too much of a handful for Acolytes. without Magneto, these sheep are stuck in kindergarten, as i said.

even Scott lends an ... eye. very useful in peace or war. he's a hit with the chicks (yes, i'm talking to you, Emma).

and what of their newest sheep? ah well, he seems cured.

... but he's still leaving. not that he's ungrateful and all, but ...

this is generally the weakest of the issues in the crossover, though it provides an amount of closure to the "Angry Peter" period. we all know he wouldn't last long with those zealots. the best thing Fatal Attractions provided is a new direction for Wolverine, and that Magneto mindwipe stunt begat Onslaught - a huge, huge crossover event that involved the whole Marvel Universe, completely broke our trust in Xavier, and allowed Rob Leifeld to come back to Marvel (even if we knew he was gonna stink up the joint and wasn't gonna last long either).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Devil's night

"The Golden Age"
v2, #65-70
Brian Michael Bendis/Alex Maleev

we learned from last issue that the Kingpin's predecessor (not "Matt the Kingpin", i mean the real fat one) is finally walking out from prison after years of incarceration courtesy of ... who else? did you think it was Willie Lumpkin the Mailman?

why would a geriatric old fart pose a threat to our red-spandexed hero with horns? hah! you will know why, and not a moment too soon. am just a little concerned about the timeline here, when Bendis presents the flashbacks as a kind of back in the 40s to 50s era (note the Nazi references), and if let's say grampa Alexander Bont spent around 30 years in jail, Matt would be in his late 40s himself at this time. ahh, comic book time. what a wonderful thing. as great as sliced bread.

Bont arrives in a wholly-changed Manhattan, and even he can't recognize Hell's Kitchen (betcha he hasn't heard of the Internet, the iPod or hedge funds either). he's simply awestruck at the Spiderman stuffed toys being sold on the street corner.

"what the f- ?! this town needs an enema!!!"

his old favorite restaurant is now a Blockbuster. well, at least he can catch up, 'cause the movies he used to watch are now on DVD boxed sets, 20% off.

"yes, i heard of this great film ... The Shawshank Redemption ...?"

trying to look up some old pals, he still feels a man lost in time. and speaks some ominous words.

old habits die hard as Bont falls back to what he likes doing best - well, the picture below may connote something else, but we assure you its just, uhm, a killing method ... really. call Bendis if you don't believe me.

much worse, Bont got out of prison the same time Matt's secret identity is being speculated to death by the tabloids. imagine his shock when he learns that Murdock may be Daredevil after all.

to understand old people, we must go back in time and eavesdrop on what occurred back when ol' Hornhead still used to wear yellow. i guess he didn't think the color screamed cowardice, not to mention Teletubby-ness.

Bont, he doesn't know its yellow! just shut up! you're ruining the joke!

how did Bont (a distant relative of Jan de Bont, who unleashed Speed on us, and subsequently, its crappy twin Speed 2: Cruise Control) get to become 'The Man' in the city? why, by whacking a costumed do-gooder, of course. street cred quadruples instantly, and you get everything free. you don't even need to pay income taxes.

Wile E. Coyote used to show a "Bye Bye" sign around this moment

i learned to dislike Bont very early in the story - such an arrogant jackass. Wilson Fisk, i can still stand somewhat, but Bont really rubs me off the wrong way. good thing Matt, aside from being blind, is the model of restraint and collected cool (at least he was back then). i'd punch this asshole right off, damn the lawsuits.

gotta hand it to Matt; he subtly insults Bont twice - with the index finger and the fist

one of Matt's earlier adversaries, the Gladiator, gets mixed in with Bont, but Matt has a soft spot for him, and thus only Bont is taken off his roost and behind bars.

in the meantime, Matt comes to his senses and ditches the yellow costume.

Bendis ties in the introduction of a new White Tiger - the deceased Hector Ayala's niece FBI Agent Angela Del Toro, whose partner, Harold Driver, a man we had high hopes for, bit the dust in a Yakuza hit. with the FBI flip-flopping on what to do with Daredevil, Angela has no idea she'll soon be joining Daredevil on his side of the fence. her detective skills gives her ropes her in into the Bont situation.

Angela has actually more than the Bont thing up her head - she needs to find out what to do with the gems that give the White Tiger power. and why would anyone wear a costume to fight crime. Daredevil, or at least, Matt Murdock, presents her only option for answers.

after flip-flopping on his identity as well (Matt would work well as a talent agent - Ari Gold, your days are numbered), Matt decides to take Angela under his wing. and what a prescient move that was.

but of course, he has to be the stern teacher, just like Stick was. can you imagine Matt hitting Angela with his billy club during training? "Try again." whap! "Again." whap! "Again." "I don't care if it's that time of the month, Del Toro; do it again." whap!

a scared Angela meets him at the designated time and location, which then confirms Angela's suspicions (and also confirms ours that: who else in NYC does not really know his secret ID??? even that bum in the subway reads the New York Post!).

Matt also gives Angela the 10-cent lecture of what a White Tiger is - they were basically good men who were given great power but squandered their friendships because of a woman. so Matt was basically telling her, "don't let any potential lesbian relationship ruin your future career as a White Tiger."

anyone who watched karate movies know the drill - you find a teacher, you go through training, then you have your moment of truth. the first one for Angela is your standard NYC store robbery.

in stopping the criminals, Angela finally gets the answer to the question 'why do men wear silly tights to do this'. maybe.

"okay, now i can rob the 7-11 myself! awright!"

fast forward to the present: the reason why Alexander Bont, all of 120 years of him suddenly 100 years younger, is none other than the Marvel Universe steroid: MGH (mutant growth hormone). hopped up with these pills, he can do anything for periods of time, including bullying the reformed Gladiator (who never wanted to do anything more than be a tailor). poor Melvin Potter. he should have left this city and stayed with his nephew Harry.

and to my mind, i still am half-unconvinced that Melvin can catch Matt unaware, and truss him up like a Thanksgiving turkey for his new temporary boss.

Matt gets roughed up, and suspiciously he doesn't put up much of a fight. actually i should even be more surprised that Bont isn't bewildered that he looks really old while Matt is still in the prime of his life, looking the same when he sent Bont up the river.

then instead of going for the kill immediately, Bont makes the fatal mistake of getting greedy. taking a page from our reality TV culture (hey, just because he's old doesn't mean he can learn a few tricks), he decides he wants to film Matt's suffering. break out the JVC!

Melvin, still clinging to a sliver of conscience, wants to just the whole thing over with. unfortunately, the slowly-going-insane Bont still has the final word. here's a thought, Melvin - throw the damn circular blades at him!!!

Bont wants to parade Matt wearing his DD costume on the streets of 10001, which actually makes sense as a potential technical detail to clear Matt's name later, assuming he survives this thing.

so just like a young Hector Ayala stepping in to save the day once before ...

did you notice that Dr. Octopus is the only villain named after a
sea creature
who doesn't operate in water?

... his niece, the new White Tiger, steps in to save Matty's ass.

now, why is Matt not fighting back? why is he leaving the fighting to a girl? the answer, my friend, is blowing within.

turns out 'roid rage is bad for your heart, especially if you're a gazillion years old and the 'roid is MGH.

serves you right, cheeky bastard. you don't know when to stop. well, now you know!! man, this guy makes me really angry. let's hope no one resurrects him as a Marvel zombie or something. the only thing i regret in this arc is that Matt didn't get the chance to pummel Bont himself (that thing about respecting your elders). but if i were Matt ... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!

wow, moving along a bit. hope to get to #100 before someone else in the current storyline dies.

Friday, December 14, 2007

tripping the force magnetic pt. 4

continuing a look back at a '90s classic ... if you can call it that.

Fatal Attractions
Wolverine #75 "Nightmares Persist"
Larry Hama/Adam Kubert/Mark Farmer/Dan Green/Mark Pennington

Larry Hama is best known for his 12-year G.I. Joe run. but he also made a mark with a 7-year stint on Wolverine, where blood tend to spill and characters die, like what you would expect in a military-themed comic. sadly, G.I. Joe was geared toward kids so Cobras and Joes alike would always parachute safely to the ground even after their planes were blown up.

but enough about the Joes. this is a post about Logan, tying in to my reflections on Fatal Attractions, and how this event set him on a different direction, and Hama was there to steer the bike.

with Magneto ripping his adamantium out (wondering why no one thought of doing that prior to this), Logan is now put in a place he hasn't been through before - the loss of one of his two security blankets. the massive trauma he suffers necessitates that the X-Men bring him back to Earth for medical treatment.

i really wonder how his mask stayed on? painted, perhaps?

the hombre's tough, but this was one hell of a painful thing to go through. good thing he has Gambit (of all people) providing Cajun stereotype comedy relief (contrast that with the current state of affairs in X-Men, re Messiah CompleX, where Remy is on the other side and Logan throws down on him).

"piece de gâteau"? wouldn't that be 'morceau de gâteau'? merde!

if the X-Men's Blackbird wasn't space-worthy, how the hell did Bishop get it up there in the first place? Professor Xavier and Jean try to hold Logan and the aircraft together (with Quicksilver providing the speedy manual navigating), but Logan gets worse by the minute.

like i said, his mask was painted on his face

back on terra firma, the late Moira McTaggert and the rest of the X-crew try to guide the aircraft in, dispense medical advice, speculate and panic all at the same time. the only positive thing provided by a Blackbird entering earth orbit on fire is to give some poor kid the chance to make a wish.

"i wish i was a mutant!"

Xavier tries to pull Wolverine away from the light, so to speak, but the pull is too great. the Blackbird runs into nasty weather and is threatening to tear itself apart. only Jean makes the supreme sacrifice of using her telekinesis to hold the parts together at the cost of getting swept out of the hatch. and then in one of most improbable-yet-probable movie-like finishes, Logan wakes up and saves Jean.

we never actually see the Blackbird land on the Westchester grounds. huh.

back on safe soil, Logan starts the healing process. on his first attempt at machismo, he waves off all opinions on his medical health and participates in a solo Danger Room sequence, and is promptly smacked around.

getting hurt only fuels his anger, and when he gets mad, he usually pops his claws. and when he does ...

its finally revealed (and this part is semi-officially credited to noted writer Peter David) that Logan's claws were actually bone, not implants, and the adamantium bond made it the weapons they were. now Logan's healing factor - his other security blanket - has not returned to full efficiency and is struggling to keep up with the wounds, especially the holes opened (ugh) by 'tracting and retracting' (snort) his bone claws.

feeling he's no longer "the best at what he does", Logan embarks on a long strange trip away from his teammates to rediscover himself. at least he still had great penmanship despite the wounds on his wrists.

ol' Canucklehead won't regain his adamantium until 70 issues later (that's more than 5 years). the change actually made him a better character, not the cardboard cutout he was devolving into at that time, and made for some great storylines. like the time he went to bone to adamantium bone with Cyber, or that classic throwdown with Sabretooth in #90. he actually turned feral too, at some point during the next few years, which is a nod to his supposed (but not sanctioned) origin - an evolved wolverine created by the High Evolutionary, the god of all mad scientists.

Larry Hama, bless his wild Japanese heart, wrote some of the best Wolverine stories, and this is a salute.

final stop: backstabbing. kinda.