Happy Halloween!

Worried about ending up with a bag full of rocks because of your awkwardly made ghost costume like Chuck here? Why not consider some of the fine Halloween attire advertised in these spots?





Remember, kids, nothing says "authentic costume" like a plastic smock with your character's name - or better yet, their picture - prominently displayed on the chest.

(Not that any of us actually cared about that at the time.)

Now go get some candy!

Wieringo Wednesday: Long Live the Legion!

I've been reading a lot of recently purchased Legion of Super-Heroes back-issues lately, and it dawned on me that I haven't done a Wieringo Wednesday in a week or two, so I thought it'd be awesome to see if 'Ringo had drawn any LSH in his career. A quick search didn't turn up anything official, unfortunately (which is really too bad, because his style would have been perfect for the post-Zero Hour Legion!), but these sketches give us a glimpse of what could have been.

Nice shot of the founders and Superboy here. I enjoy that everyone actually looks like teenagers. Reminds me a bit of Alan Davis' artwork on the Superboy's Legion Elseworlds mini-series.

This solo shot of Mon-El confirms something I've always thought about the guy: when by himself, his outfit looks pretty cool. Pair him with other super-heroes, though, and all you notice is how un-superheroey it looks.


The animated Legion gets their turn, too. I like his take on Phantom Girl better than the actual show's... she looked too bug-eyed a lot of the time on TV, and he really tones that down here, thankfully.

Brainiac 5 looks a little Zentradi!

You've got the Touch (almost)

The funds are there, so the wife and I will very soon be the proud owner of new iPod Touches. Yes, the Touch, and not the iPhone. She has her phone through work, I renewed my contract with a new phone last year, and we’re both happy with our provider (Verizon) besides, so we don’t need iPhones. The lack of a camera on the Touch is sad, but hey, we can deal. I’ll just be excited to Twitter and Google and find restaurants and play games and get directions check Facebook and, yeah, listen to music, on the go.

Which brings me to my point (and I do have one). Somewhere along the line, we started living in the future. I can’t pinpoint exactly when this happened, as there certainly wasn’t any formal announcement that I was aware of, but it did happen. We don’t have flying cars, personal robots, Elroy Jetson rocket belts, Martian resort hotels, teleporters, or TARDISes, but we’re still there, at least as far as anyone for whom the very idea of something like an iPhone would have been science fiction. It’s a ubiquitous gadget these days, sure, but remember that this thing you keep in your pocket and probably play Snood on has significantly more computing power than those giant, room-filling computers of decades past.

It’s amazing. Why don’t we appreciate that more than we do? Has the domain of Captain Kirk or Doctor Who become so commonplace to us now, or are we just spoiled?

Happy Wonder Woman Day


Well, techincally Sunday is Wonder Woman Day in Portland, OR, and Flemington, NJ, but if you'd like to bid on some art and help raise funds for domestic violence shelters, you have until midnight PST tonight to do so.

The official site has all the details.

Pretty Sketchy: It's Clobberin' Time!

Yup, it's Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew, the idol of millions, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing his own self, as rendered by Dave Wachter, illustrator of the mini-series Scar Tissue and writer/artist of the webcomic The Guns of Shadow Valley.

So long, Soupy.

R.I.P. Soupy Sales, a funny man and, for my money, the best cinematic Moses ever.

How cool was Soupy? Even Alice Cooper dropped by to hang out:



For more about the man and his career, you should check ou Fred Hembeck's remembrance from the 80s, I Remember Soupy.

How's Who #5: The Mutant Phase


TARDIS Crew: 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton)

The Plot: The TARDIS is dragged into a time corridor that deposits it first on 22nd century Earth during the early days of the Dalek occupation, and then Earth again in the 43rd century after some great disaster has wiped out nearly all life on the planet. Daleks are mutating into something new, bizarre, and deadly, and have been driven to the point of seeking out the aid (in their usual charming manner, 'natch) of their oldest enemies: their ancient planetary rivals, theThals, and the Doctor himself. The secret to dealing with the Daleks ' "mutant phase" lies in both of these eras, but the Doctor's problems are even greater than being forced to work with his worst enemies or being asked to alter history. Strange things are happening within the very fabric of time, and the Doctor, Nyssa, and everyone else find themselves in "a very bad place to have a paradox."

The Thoughts: Yes, I know, this is one of the Big Finish
audio adventures and not an episode of the TV show. For some, this is a shocking breach of "canon," I'm sure. But you know what? Fuck canon. The TV show, the audios, the novels, the comics... everyone has their own idea of what counts and what doesn't, but I can't be bothered to get caught up in all that hand-wringing. Trying to establish a "official" canon for a series as lovably inconsistent as Doctor Who is a fool's errand, anyway. If you like it, it counts.

Anyway, this was my first experience with the Big Finish ver
sion of Who, or first full one, anyway (I heard a chapter or so of The Sirens of Time about 8 years ago, and a short Sylvester McCoy story on the BF podcast, but that's been it until now), and I was impressed right out of the starting gate. I think I was mostly afraid that it would come off sounding like an audio book, or a recorded stage play (which is why I never took to those Alien Voices things all those Star Trek people did), but it sounded, even felt, like an actual episode of the show without any of the pictures, and yet it wasn't at all like just listening to the audio track of an episode from the next room or whatever, because my imagination filled in all of the visuals in a way that even the best of Old Time Radio has never been able to make me do. And honestly, I think the lack of visual information is a real strength here; there are no cheesy costumes or wobbly sets to distract people from the story, so the buy-in comes much easier.

And it didn't hurt that we get a Dalek story that, for once, isn't just another invasion or inter-faction squabble (and no Davros!). Pitting them as the victims, making them fearful to the point of seeking aid from their hated enemies (well, forcing said enemies to help them, but that's a "six of one..." sort of thing inDalek terms), that's a simple, but thoroughly welcome, inversion of the formula.

The only thing that took some getting used to was listening to Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. Their performances were fine, maybe even better than
they ever were on the show, but they do both sound older. Makes sense, it has been nearly 30 years since the originated the roles and all, but still, listening toDavison's somewhat deeper and certainly raspier voice did take me out of the story for a second when the Doctor and Nyssa enter the story. It was easy enough to get over, and in no time it was 1982 all over again. They re-inhabit their parts with such ease that it hardly seems like they left. And rapport between the Doctor and Nyssa was quite nice... not the sort of thing we ever got to see much on the show since the TARDIS was packed with companions in the early 80s. Without Tegan there to shrill things up, they really make quite a good team.

Overall: The Mutant Phase is as good as any TV story from Davison's original run as the Doctor (better than most of them, I dare say), and is now quite probably my favorite Dalek story ever. I don't know why I've waited so long to give the Big Finish audios a try, but I'll be correcting this oversight as often as time and funding allow (especially since downloads off their website are much cheaper than getting theCDs).

A final word about canon: Seriously, fuck canon.


Make A Friend!

Anyone ever have this Aurora kit, and if so, was it truly $4.98 worth of awesome? I have such envy for people who had these back in the day. Aurora's heyday was pretty much over by the time I came around, and the reproductions are so expensive!

I have some cool stuff. Wanna buy it?

Fall cleaning has begun, and stuff is going up on eBay in order to make room (and money). If you're interested in...
  • a 1975 Topps George Brett rookie card
  • a 1986 Fleer Patrick Ewing sticker card
  • Flash: The Return of Barry Allen trade paperback
  • The Maze Agency Volume 1 tpb
  • Sardine in Outer Space Volume 1 tpb
  • Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright tpb
then head on over to eBay and bid early, often, and honestly!

Better Late Than Never Reviews - 10/19/09 (The Captain, the Kids, and the People With Weird Heads Edition)

Captain America: The Man With No Face - I came into this happy that the story of Bucky Barnes gaining acceptance as Captain America was now in the past, and was ready to get on with the business of him actually being Cap. And for the most part this was... just another Captain America story. I mean, it's very good... Bucky's past as the Winter Soldier pops up to haunt him, Namor guest stars and is entertainingly impatient, and Batroc the Leaper (BATROC! THE! LEAPER!) kicks a bunch of people. But it feels like it's all been done before. I'm not sure if my interest is waining or if the story just didn't meet my expectations. But compared to the rest of Brubaker's run, very good doesn't really match up.

Amelia Rules! Vol. 2: What Makes You Happy - I discovered Jimmy Gownley's Amelia Rules! back when it first came out and enjoyed it from the start, but managed to miss a bunch of issues and never got the chance to go back for them. Most of them are in this volume, and the book, as ever, is such a treat to read. And though the series focuses mostly on the kids, of course, the adults in Amelia's life get more screen time in this book, as we get the background on her aunt Tanner's music career (and how she was kind of A Big Deal for a while) and the history of her now-divorced parents. There's no shortage of stuff with the kids, though, as Gownley covers love, loss, friendship, and the generally awkward business of childhood, as usual, but in giving the adults a chance to be more than just foils or scenery, he makes everything seem all the more real. And Gownley, much like Tanner, tends to be the sort of adult who is actually willing to tell kids the way things really are. Kids appreciate that. Adults, too, for that matter.

MODOK: Reign Delay - I'm not going to lie - I was annoyed at first Ryan Dunlavey's comedic story of a desperate MODOK being shipped back home by Norman Osborne, entirely because "home" in the story was Erie, PA, and not Bangor, ME. See, I grew up in Bangor, and according to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, so did George Tarleton, the dude AIM turned into MODOK. Bangor doesn't have a lot of comics clout to call its own, so I was happy to have a character - a full-on Kirby Classic, no less - from my neck of the woods. And seriously, you're gonna contradict OHOTMU? But the Bangor reference does get a shout out, and the book is very, very funny besides. Just being a macrocephalic supervillain in a jet chair is comedy gold as is... recasting him as a former high school nerd with anger issues and a tendency to brain blast his own henchmen is even greater still. Throw in some digs at Alpha Flight and the sort-of return of Karl, the greatest AIM henchman ever, and you've got a great book here, even if it is entirely wrong.

(Look, I covered this a long time ago, people - my hometown never had a huge footprint in popular culture, so I revered what we had. We don't all come from places we aren't desperate to escape, you know!)

Sweet Tooth #1 - Jeff Lemire is one of the best comics talents to emerge in the last few years, and I have nothing but respect for the man and his work, but this didn't grab me in the slightest. Admittedly I have little-to-no patience with post-apocalyptic-event survival stories of any kind unless they involve Roddy McDowall in a chimp mask, so there's a huge stumbling block for me before I even flip open the cover, but still, I didn't find myself interested in the story of the deer antlered boy (Does he even have a name yet? I honestly can't remember.), why he is the way he is, who else may be in his condition, or the people hunting him. Not to say this was completely without merit, though: the scenes where the boy talks about his father talking to God, and what the father claims God is saying back, were interesting, and read like something out of Lemire's Essex County trilogy. And then I remember that I wasn't too crazy about the initial Essex book when I first read it, either, but I did eventually come around to it when I understood it's place in the larger (brilliant) narrative. So I'm willing to come back to this some day, but for now, I'm just going to give it the space and time to grow into something more significant.

Getting Hooked Part 7: 1986 - The Year Things Get Funky

The book: The Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #71: Year's Best Comics Stories

Bought at: Mr. Paperback, Airport Mall, Bangor, ME (pretty sure of this, anyway - Mr. P was certainly my comic stop of choice in the days before Bangor got a direct market comic book store of its own)

So far every other book in this (long ignored but not forgotten) series of posts came into my hands between the ages of 3 and 5. This one fell into my hands when I was 10, and it was both mind expanding and far too much for me to handle at the time.

I hardly ever picked up the DC digests, and was firmly entrenched in my Marvel Zombie phase besides, so I'm not even sure what prompted me to want this. Maybe there wasn't anything else on the rack that interested me (or I didn't already have). So I lobbied for this, and though my parents balked at the $1.50 price tag ("Almost 2 bucks? For a funny book?!?"), I won them over with the argument that I was, in fact, getting many comics for the price of two... what a bargain! They caved, and I brought this home for a night's worth of enjoyment.

One night became two, which became three, and so on. See, there was a lot going on in this particular crop of DC's best comics stories of the previous year. Some of it was pretty straightforward. There's a light-hearted story about Bruce Wayne trying desperately to grab a few hours of sleep after a long night as Batman and being thwarted by his various love interests (Vicki Vale and Julia Pennyworth) and a parent-teacher meeting at Jason "Pre-COIE, So Not Yet a Tool" Todd's school (fantastic Gene Colan art in this, IIRC). A cute "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps" story about a single mom GL trying to juggle her Corps responsibilities and mom duties. There was an Ambush Bug thing, Blue Devil taking a road trip with the Trickster, Superman teaming up with Adam Strange, and the infamous (and hilarious) "Hukka vs. The Bob!" back-up story from Atari Force.

Then there was a second tier of stories, stuff unlike anything I had read before, stuff which alternately confused me, challenged me, and in at least one case, haunted my dreams. The story that did the latter was a story called "The Day the Earth Died!," in which Superman considers taking nuclear disarmament after a particularly vivid dream of man-made armageddon. Those first few pages depicting the dream were the most terrifying comic book images I had ever seen, and they bother me to this day. Superman wandering through the ruins of Metropolis, confronting the young survivor who decomposes before his eyes... gah. Right up there with The Day After for nightmare fuel. And seeing as I spent most of the mid-80s convinced the governments of the world would make damn sure I wasn't able to grow up, that sort of story I didn't need. I still remember it vividly 23 years later, though, so they had to have done something right.

The other stories that effected me, though... well, let's just say they comprised my introduction to Alan Moore. First was his famous "Tales from the Green Lantern Corps" short "Mogo Doesn't Socialize." I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying this story enthralled me. I must have read this one dozens of times that year. The slow build of the planetwide search for Mogo, and then the reveal that - BAM! - Mogo is the planet... that just killed me with awesome. A simple concept, brilliantly executed, with a twist that'd have made Rod Serling or the EC crew proud. That's still one of my favorite stories of all time.

Mr. Moore's second entry in this book was one of his "Vega" stories from Omega Men, "Brief Lives." I can appreciate the story now, but at the time, the idea of an entire civilization starting, growing, and ending at the feet of two monolithic beings who perceive time so differently that eons covered in the story are just a mere moment to them, yeah that one was a little over my head. At that point, I was still under the impression that Secret Wars 2 was alright, you know?

And then there was the story that was originally printed in Swamp Thing #34, "Rite of Spring." The story better known to the world as "that one where Abby eats the funky vegetable produced from Swamp Thing's body and they have acid trip mind sex." Now if the Superman story scared me (scarred me, even) and the Vega thing confused me, then you can bet there was no way in hell that I was ready for this one. It was far beyond anything I was ready for mentally or emotionally, and I very quickly got the impression that if my parents knew I was reading this, I'd get in really big trouble.

Consequently, I read it a lot. At first mostly for the thrill of getting away with something (and I was such a whitebread, goody two-shoes kid that this was the height of rebellion for me). But even after that faded, I still went back to this. I didn't really get it - well, I mean, I had an inkling or two of the basic goings-on - but there was something in the not getting it that appealed to me, that maybe not being ready for it was at least part of the point. For me, specifically, if not for Mr. Moore's authorial intent.

Basically, it was nice, maybe even important, to get a glimpse of comic books beyond super-heroes and talking animals (or talking animal super-heroes). I knew I had to stick with these things at least long enough to figure out what was going on in "Rite of Spring."

Some say the man's not wrapped too tight: R.I.P. Captain Lou Albano

And another icon of my childhood is gone: Captain Lou Albano dies at the age of 76.

Hey there, NRBQ, tell us a little about he of the rubber bands:



And if you're so inclined, consider a little dance in his honor. Come on everybody, do the Mario!

Free Mojo Nixon!

Or maybe that should be Mojo Nixon for free.

Well, any way you choose to slice it grammatically, Amazon currently has pretty much the entirety of Mojo Nixon's back catalog available for free MP3 download, and that's a pretty good thing indeed. Because as the Dead Milkmen once stated, "if you don't have Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin'."

I'm not sure how long this is going to last, so if you're at all interested, I'd click over there pretty quickly if I were you and get crackin'.

And if you're looking for recommendations, well, you're gonna need "Elvis is Everywhere." That's a given. But I also really enjoy "Don Henley Must Die" (which prompted Henley himself to respond "I think the boy just needs a good laxative."), "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Lovechild," and "Perry Mason of Love." I also grabbed his covers of the Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma" and "Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In" by Kenny Rogers and the New Edition because, well, why the hell not? And I rounded it all out with "This Land Is My Land" (it came highly recommended), "Star Spangled Mojo," and "Christmas, Christmas."

Come on, people. Caped wonder Cory Doctorow his own self was talking this up. This is manna from nerd heaven. Grab it while you can.

Pretty Sketchy: Jetta by Martheus Wade

The title character from Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa as rendered by series creator Martheus Wade. This was another of those DCBS "buy the book, get a sketch" deals. Very hard to pass up comics and original sketches.

Lazy Sunday Evening Cartoon Blogging: Felix the Cat in "The Magic Bag"

Because as I've heard from more than a few jazz musicians through the years, every cat needs his bag.



And for comparison's sake, here's some super old school Felix.



(All of this was at least partially inspired by this post over at Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin.)

Better Late Than Never Reviews - Wednesday Comics Edition

(Yup, changing the name of The List. Again. But third verse, same as the first - shortish reactions to recently read (though not necessarily recently published) comics. And away we go.)

Wednesday Comics, DC's summer experiment, is sadly over, and though my wallet is happy for the relief, I'm going to miss reading this It wouldn't be unfair to call it uneven, but there were more successes than outright misfires, I really dug the format, and the month's worth of issues were the first things I read out of each of the last three DCBS shipments. And now, like everyone else already has, let's break it down by strip:
  • Batman - I mostly liked Brian Azzarello's noirish take, but the conclusion felt more like a stopping point than an ending, and the case never truly felt like something the Gotham PD actually needed Batman's help to solve. Eduardo Risso can draw the hell out of a femme fatale, though. Gradewise, I'd give this a B.

  • Kamandi - Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook could do this forever and I'd buy every single one. Paying homage to both Jack Kirby and Hal Foster, and doing it well in both cases, should be the hardest thing in the world, but they made it look effortless. A+ work all the way.

  • Superman - Started off incredibly boring, if very nice to look at, but it came together decently enough in the final month. Way too much super-moping to get to that point, though, and haven't we had enough of that in the regular Superman books for the past decade? Call it a C+, largely due to the last four weeks.

  • Deadman - I'm always happy to see a story where Deadman actually does something, rather than just inhabit other people's bodies and get angsty. Dimension hopping, fighting demons, kissing the girl... a long overdue change of pace for Mr. Brand. And Dave Bullock's art was a terrific compliment to the story he co-wrote with Vinton Heuck. Lots of energy and very expressive while being economical with his line. A-

  • Green Lantern - I wish Busiek's story swapped out the weeks of exposition for the too-rushed alien invasion angle, but any story that gets me to actually like Hal Jordan for any amount of time (because generally I can't stand the guy) is doing something right. B

  • Strange Adventures - Paul Pope needs to be made king of something. And not for just this "John Carter of Mars" take on Adam Strange, though it certainly goes a long way toward cementing my opinion. Fun, action-packed, and along with Kamandi, kind of justified the entire project in the first place. A+

  • Teen Titans - Fun art in service of a bad story. Worse, a boring story. F

  • Metal Men - A lot of my appreciation of this was due to the always spectacular artwork of Mr. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, but Dan DiDio's story was decent, too, if by-the-numbers by Metal Men standards. And for once, his seeming appreciation for characters getting blowed up real good was well-served, because that's always been a Metal Men specialty (cheap shot, sure, but accurate). B

  • Metamorpho - Even the material that was clearly filler was fun, so I think that counts as a success. And I appreciated how Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred played with the format with bits like the Metamorpho Club, the game board, and the Periodic Table strips, which I hope are framed on some science teacher's classroom wall somewhere. I think the time has come to finally check out the original Metamorpho stories, because if they're even half as enjoyable as this, I'll dig the insanity. A-

  • Supergirl - The surprise gem of the series for me. I appreciated how Jimmy Palmiotti played the situations for humor, and yet no one ever seemed out of character. It didn't hurt to have Amanda Connor drawing this, either, who has a knack for mining even more humor out of everything with her tendency to put the main action in the background while drawing our attention to the minor details (Dr. Mid-Nite's owl, with a wounded tail, glaring angrily at a guilty-looking Krypto as Supergirl and the Dr. talk about the plot, for instance, killed me). Brilliant stuff. A+

  • Wonder Woman - I'm going to call this the "noble failure" of the series. The story was far too involved for the format, and the convoluted layout and microscopic lettering made reading this a chore. But the artwork was just gorgeous... I gave up reading this more often than not, but I always spent time studying the art. I'd like to see Ben Caldwell attempt more Wonder Woman someday, though maybe in a more traditional (or at least better paced) format. The intentions and the delivery average out to a C, I think.

  • The Flash - Easily the best use of the format out of the entire series, frequently using multiple strips to push the story along, each with their own art styles to boot. And yeah, the story got pretty confusing toward the end there (a point referenced in the finale), but clever and enjoyable all the same. Why have I taken so long to discover Karl Kerschl? He'll be on my radar from now on, to be certain. A

  • Sgt. Rock - Twelve weeks of "Sgt. Rock gets up and leaves a room." Really, DC? Even with the beatdowns and (eventual) dead Nazis, this was still a boring slog through Boringtown, population: who cares because they're boring. Joe Kubert has still clearly got the art chops, though, which is the only thing that saves this from utter failure. D-

  • Catwoman and the Demon - I get enough "Etrigan fights Morgaine Le Fay" stories in the cartoons, so this one had "seen it all before" written all over it even with the inclusion of Catwoman. And she spent most of the story not doing anything, anyway, so why even stick her in here? Not bad, not good, just kind of... there. I expect better from both Walter Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze. C-

  • Hawkman - Kyle Baker built this one nicely over the 12 weeks, going from the alien invasion to the island rescue to, ultimately, Hawkman and Aquaman fighting a T-Rex.

    Once again, that's Hawkman and Aquaman. Fighting a Tyrannosaurus rex. Which Hawkman taunts in the middle of the fight, by the way.

    Kyle Baker is my new favorite person is what I'm saying. I mean, come on. There's nothing not awesome about that. A
So on the whole, I'd call Wednesday Comics a success, and I hope they do more next year. All I ask is a lower price point and a little more funny next time, guys.

Wieringo Wednesday: Jetpackpalooza



Rough day today here at Trusty Plinko Stick World Headquarters, so today's Wieringo Wednesday is dedicated to the one geektech item guaranteed to make each and everyone of us get all excited like we're little kids again.

I'm talkin' jetpacks, people!

Jetpacks!



Jetpacks!




JETPACKS!



JETPACKS!!!

Sometimes it's about the simple joys, folks.

R.I.P. Frank Coghlan, Jr., the original Billy Batson


Frank Coghlan, Jr., who played Billy Batson in the 1941 Republic Pictures serial The Adventures of Captain Marvel, died last month at the ripe old age of 93.

The Adventures of Captain Marvel was one of the first big screen comics adaptations ever, and still one of the very best (the flying effects are particularly good for the era and, presumably, the budget). If you haven't seen it in a while, or at all, it's definitely worth tracking down.

Thanks, Frank.

How's Who #4: Attack of the Cybermen


TARDIS Crew: Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Peri (Nicola Bryant).

The Plot: The Cybermen concoct a rather convoluted plot to change history and prevent the destruction of their original home, Mondas. At one point or another it involves a stolen time vehicle, Halley's Comet, a diamond heist, the mercenary Lytton (from the Fifth Doctor story Resurrection of the Daleks), a couple of sets of shmoes in way over their heads, and, inevitably, the Doctor, who may or may not have been manipulated into involvement by the Time Lords. In the midst of all this we get a lot of callbacks to past stories (especially early Cybermen stories like The Tenth Planet, Tomb of the Cybermen, and The Invasion) and a whole lot of people get blowed up real good.

The Thoughts: A lot of people associate the Sixth Doctor's tenure with violence, bitchiness, yelling, script editor Eric Saward's fetish for mercenaries, a tendency to dwell in the past, Casiotone soundtracks, and bad, bad costumes. Attack has all of these in spades, to such a degree where even a Sixth Doctor apologist like myself has a hard time saying that people are overexaggerating, and this being the start of Colin Baker's first full season as the Doctor (having oddly had his post-regeneration initial story the season before), it definitely sets a tone for the episodes to follow that's hard to overcome.


But even if you somehow ignore the tonal issues, what's left still isn't very good. For one thing, the time frame in which this all takes place is hard to nail down. This clearly takes place after Tomb, which takes place in the far future, but then someone will say how Halley's Comet is nearing Earth "even as we speak," which would indicate that everything is taking place in 1985. But the Cybermen still need their stolen timeship to knock the comet into the Earth. Not to mention they want to turn a giant cosmic snowball into a bomb, which is sketchy even for Doctor Who science. Presumably it'll involve the frozen explosive Cryons (I'll get to them in a sec) keep talking about, but this is never stated, or even implied. The whole thing is kind of a mess. An attempt to craft a layered story where several independent threads will eventually merge into a cohesive whole just ends up being a five-subplot pile-up, TV writing as a traffic accident.

Odd character development, too. Whereas the Sixth Doctor is often pompous, here he's just downright mean at times, and shockingly quick to take a life. The Cybermen are practically bipolar, being nigh-invulnerable, cold, and calculating at some points, weak and actually fearful (odd for a race where emotion has been removed) at others. And the Cryons. Oh, the creepy, creepy Cryons. Bad enough that they're all wispy and sing-songy and touchy-feely like they're interstellar pre-school TV hosts. But for characters so integral to the plot, they're introduced far too late into the story for us to make any real connection with their plight.


About the only person who comes off well at all, really, is Lytton. Interesting cat, multi-faceted personality, and an all-around great performance by Maurice Colbourne. He brought a lot of much-needed awesome to the story, but that shouldn't come at the expense of everyone else, including the title character. The show's called Doctor Who, after all, not Lytton.

Overall: Attack of the Cybermen is a big ol' mess, there's no two ways about it. It has some fun moments here and there, mostly concerning past continuity - the TARDIS arriving in the I.M. Foreman junkyard from the very first story, Peri's complaint that the Doctor has alternately referred to her as Susan, Tegan, Sarah Jane, Jamie, and even The Terrible Zodin - but they just make the rest of the story even more disappointing by comparison. But at least Colin Baker's tenure (mostly) improves from here on.


A Brief Word About Peri: Nicola Bryant comes across as a lovely, warm, and friendly person in every interview I've ever seen or read, so I went to great lengths to avoid saying how much I kind of hate Peri, her ever-shifting accent, and her bad costumes, and how I think that the character's only true saving grace is that she came in between Tegan and Mel, the Alpha and Omega of Shrill.

Except for just then, of course. Shit.

(And no, I'm not going to post The Bikini Shot from Planet of Fire. You've got Google. Use it.)

The List: 10/2/09 - Majors, Minis, and Oldies

Quick reactions to recently read - though not necessarily recently published (especially this time around) - comics. Do it, Rockapella!

Actually, don't.

Creepy #1 - Picked this up on both the strength of the many creators and the reputation of the original Creepy, and was mostly pretty disappointed. The artwork was top notch across the board, but the stories were mostly kinda blah and by the numbers. The one reprint from the original mag, though, with art by Alex Toth no less, pretty much made up for the rest, though (and gets bonus points for taking place near my hometown). I'm wondering if I'd be better served reading old school Creepy instead of this.

Fantastic Four #571 - Jonathan Hickman pretty much has my number on this. Alternate realities, some truly disturbing actions from the Legion of Many Reeds (how often do you actually feel sorry for Victor?), compelling family drama, and all sorts of Kirby. Yeah, if this stays this good, I think I'm in this for the long haul.

Fantastic Four #s 168 - 170, Annual #11 - This is 70s Marvel in microcosm. Ben loses his powers, so Reed hires Luke Cage to be the FF's new muscle. Ben is finding that no longer being the Thing isn't as great as he always hoped, though, and holds a grudge against Cage for taking his spot. Then Cage turns on everyone, and does stuff that eventually (accidentally) leads to the Nazis winning WW2 in the Annual, so the FF needs to go back in time and meet up with the Invaders, whom they immediately need to fight. God damn do I love comic books.

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #9 - Yes, this is indeed the issue where Cage makes like the paperboy in Better Off Dead and travels to Latveria to get the $200 that Doctor Doom owes him for a job in the previous issue. Need I even say more? So bizarrely wonderful that alien archaeologists will discover it many millions of years from now and declare it the pinacle of that strange civilization called Humanity. And they won't be that far off.

The Adventures of Araknid Kid - Print continuation of the Zuda Comics entry from Josh Alves, starring a young, trapese-swinging, rebus-speaking hero who protects this Western/steampunky mash-up town from evil. Breezy all ages fun.

Outreach - Minicomic by Raina Telgemeier with short strips about real life events and conversations at various "comics for kids" workshops she's done. Very cute stuff. If nothing in here makes you smile, you have no soul.

Take-Out #s 2 - 7 - More minis by Raina, some autobiographical, some not, but all very true to life. You can read some of the stories online here. My favorite was Beginnings.

Teen Boat #s 1 - 3 - Fun high concept teen angst mini comics by Dave Roman and John Green featuring the adventures of a high school student who can turn into a boat. So it's like Turbo Teen, but not a car and it doesn't make you yearn for the grave. Wins points for being the only high school stories I've ever read to mix bullies and detentions with piracy and gambling in international waters.

Life Meter #1 - Video game tribute comics and pin-ups by a host of indie creators. Mostly 8-bit stuff, but some more modern games like the Resident Evil series and Animal Crossing show up, too. Great nostalgia chow, and anything that features an appearance by Kuribo's Shoe is aces in my book.

Poor Photoshop Skills Theatre Presents... Failed Superhero Concept #1

It's Dave Madrox, The Mimeograph Man! Like his more successful cousin Jamie, Dave Madrox can create a near infinite number of exact duplicates of himself. One little drawback, though...


(And yes, this is pretty much the limit of my Photoshop Fu. Pathetic, no?)