Now we are six. The number, not Blossom's best friend. That's an important distinction.

Trusty Plinko Stick turns six blog years old today (a blog year is like a regular year, but snarkier). How many is six?

If you've been reading along for any length of time - even (and especially) through the current grad school-inspired low content mode - I thank you sincerely and wholeheartedly.


Most of the reading I've been doing lately is on the topic of library and/or information science, but you probably don't want to hear about that. Here are short reactions to a few comics I've been able to fit in lately, though. Maybe some SPOILERS.

Batgirl 14 - I'm a sucker for "superheroes hanging out" stories, especially when they deal with something really bizarre. Batgirl and Supergirl wandering around the Gotham University campus hunting 24 Draculas who've stepped straight out of a movie screen? Yeah, that'll do nicely. Lots of great dialogue here. Maybe I need to check this out more often. It and Red Robin were certain a lot more fun than I ever would've thought.

Batman & Robin Vol. 1: Batman Reborn - Typically I've found that Grant Morrison Batman collections start off strong, but when the artist drawing the first arc leaves, the quality of the story drops off dramatically since the second artist can't keep up as well as the first, who is usually one of Morrison's better collaborators, anyway. But when Frank Quitely (arguably Morrison's best partner in story) gives way to Philip Tan, the drop isn't as hard to take this time. I don't think the Red Hood/Scarlet/Flamingo story is as good as the initial Dr. Pyg three-parter, but the transition flows well enough. I really enjoy reading Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin, enough so that I'm kind of sad Bruce Wayne is back in the current issues.

All Star Superman Vols. 1 & 2 - Finally picked up the trades and re-read the entire run in about two sittings. Yeah, it all still holds up as some of the best Superman storytelling ever. Reading it all in succession, though, does show that there's a bit of a drop in story quality as the first half of the second volume begins, with the Bizarro two-parter and the story with the other Kryptonians. Those are still decent, but coming between the two best issues of the series, Superman's return to Smallville in #6 and the "day in the life / last will and testament" story in #10, well, those are hard to match, qualitywise. If you haven't read All Star Superman yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

F**k you, box - I generally don't like cats or cat-related humor, but this mini-comic by Katie Cook is pretty damn funny. This cat is surly, malicious, and incredibly profane. So, you know, typical cat. And to see it all coming out of the cutest of cute drawings makes it funnier still. Check this out if you get the chance.

Thanks, But No Thanks: Hostess Glo-Balls

While this Hal Jordan product tie-in is sickly appropriate, it leads me to conclude that the people at Hostess either didn't think this through enough, or else they knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

"Dalektable" t-shirt from Ript Apparel

Want this design on a t-shirt? Well, as I type this (10:41 pm EST on Thursday, Sept. 16th, 2010), you still have a little over two hours to order one of your own over at Ript Apparel's site. They only offer they're designs for 24 hours, apparently. So, you know, get cracking.

Pretty Sketchy: I got Kitty Pryde (no Nightcrawler yet, though)*

Kitty Pryde sketch card by True Story Swear to God's Tom Beland. I requested this from him via Facebook, where he frequently posts card-sized and full-sized sketches for sale, as well as taking requests. Check 'em out, they're all great stuff. For more on Tom and TSSTG, check out his site, and also check out this illustration he did for me inside the first TSSTG collection.

*NOTE TO TOM: The title is me paraphrasing lyrics from a Weezer song. You didn't forget to send me a Nightcrawler sketch!

It's really important that she remembers where she parked the plane.

Finally got around to watching the Wonder Woman animated movie the other night. I remember reading a lot of complaints about it when it first came out, and apparently it has been one of the lower sellers in the line ever since it debuted, leading to the decision to pretty much only focus on Batman or Superman-related releases. I don't really understand any of that, though, because I thought it was really good, ranking right up there near the two Justice League movies (New Frontier and Crisis on Two Earths), and a hell of a lot better than Green Lantern, Superman: Doomsday, and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, all of which bored the hell out of me. Still haven't seen the two Batman ones yet, Gotham Knight or Under the Red Hood, so I don't know how those stack up.

My very favorite part of Wonder Woman? They make no attempt whatsoever to explain the invisible jet.

It just shows up out of nowhere when it's time to fly Diana and Steve Trevor back to the U.S. from Themyscira. Now, they could have tried to come up with some magical and/or divine explanation - lord knows they have in the comics before - but honestly, why bother? It's a premise that's just as well-known and accepted as her magic lasso or her bracelets, so rather than bog everything down with the hows and whys of it, the writers just take the plane as given and roll with it. It's goofy, sure - not as goofy as the flying car that punch a guy, but still pretty goofy - but trying to explain or even justify it will just call attention to it and make everything worse. Magic invisible plane - that's all you need to know.

Not that that's the only thing I enjoyed - decent animation, great voice casting (if we can't get Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan, Steve Trevor has to be the next best thing), and a story that makes use of the PG-13 rating and doesn't shy away from the Amazons' status as powerful, capable warriors. And bonus points for a quick explanation as to why Diana's outfit is all stars & stripes. If you haven't seen it and like Wonder Woman even just a little bit, check it out.

Blog business: why there is less, but will still be more (just less more).

What does this shmoe...

have in common with these folks?

Well, it's what I will have in common, eventually. I've started grad school to get my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. I'm very, very happy to finally get this underway, as it's been a major life goal of mine for some time now. But, of course, balancing grad school, even part time, with family stuff and a full-time job means that there's a lot less time to be spent on things like this here blog.

Trusty Plinko Stick isn't going anywhere, it just means posting will be less frequent. Of course, posting has been less frequent for a while now, so maybe on your end things won't look any different at all. But if it does, that's why.


Shortish-reactions to recently read, though not always recently published, comic books. There may be some spoilers, so read on with caution.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #19 - As you can see from the cover, this series' version of Captain Marvel, Junior makes his debut, and as a payoff moment to the story, it is handled very well. Unfortunately, the issue on the whole felt a bit off. It picks up as Mary and Tawny try to save Cap after a fight with a new villain has supernaturally aged him, leaving him feeble and on the verge of death. Except the way this is told makes it seem less like something that happened off panel and more like a "for those who came in late" flashback to the previous issue, and nothing like that happened in #18. So the whole time I read this, I kept wondering if I somehow missed an issue, and it turned out that I did not. Now I'm wondering if this was a storytelling decision on Art Baltazar and Franco's part that didn't quite work out properly, or if the story alluded to here was supposed to be the original #19, and it got scuttled (and left only as a flashback) so that they could wrap the book up in time for it's final issue, #21.

The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse - I was late to the party for The Middleman. Both parties, actually, as both the comics and the TV series were finished by the time I got around to trying them. I did end up digging the comics, though, and I absolutely loved the TV show, and was sad that one season was all we got (it was probably way too quirky and proudly geeky to last long on any network, though, especially a teen angst delivery device factory like ABC Family, but still). And though the last episode ended on a decent note, it didn't tie up any plot points or feel like a true conclusion. It was just a last episode, not a finale. This short OGN by series creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach steps up to the plate and gives the series the proper ending it deserves, though, and is understandably pitch perfect. It wasn't too long before my brain started filling in all the actors' voices and recurring sound effects. And also like any other episode of the series, the script is chock full of comic book, sci-fi, and video game references, and there are even handy annotations in the back in case you miss a few (for instance, there's a whole lotta Blake's 7 going on in this story... and pay special attention to the robes worn by the villain). And though the artwork of Armando Zanker is a bit of a departure from original Middleman artist Les McClaine, his loose style is a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing more of his work.

Morning Glories #1 - In short, mysterious and sinister shenanigans at a boarding school populated by kids who all have the same birthday and whose parents no longer seem to remember them after they're gone. The many, many hype pieces about this that were all over the comics inter-ma-net a while back touted this as "Lost meets Runaways," and yeah, I see that, but maybe my big problem here is that while I liked the latter half of that equation a whole lot, I could never work up much enthusiasm for the former. Not to say that this wasn't good, because it was decent, but I don't know that I feel compelled to read much further. Some of that is due to some pacing problems, I think, so maybe this will read better when it's collected. But on the whole, this feels less suited to being a comic book and might have been better off as one of those angsty CW shows that teenage girls (and my wife) all dig so much.

Doctor Who and the Curmudgeonly British Comic Book Writer

Over on his Whitechapel forum, Warren Ellis threw down the gauntlet to the community for what he termed the "Ultimate Nerd Remake/Remodel," a design for the 13th and final incarnation of The Doctor. The thread produces a mix of interesting designs and additional posts from Ellis threatening to defenestrate people (or, as he calls it, just another Tuesday morning), but two so far stand out head and shoulders above the rest. First, and the one that's getting the most attention around the inter-ma-nets, is this design from Ben Templesmith:

(and yes, the Pomeranian is supposed to be the new K9)

and then this, my favorite, from Pia Guerra:

So much to love here. I dig the TARDIS as H.G. Wells-ish London Underground station, I like that the Doctor pretty much looks like he's just some guy, but most of all, I appreciate that Guerra said that his companion on the right there is Sally Sparrow.