Sunday, December 18, 2016

Let's Watch Barbie in Princess Power

Have you ever looked out, over the horizon on a clear night and wondered, "What's out there?" Have you ever felt the fringes of something monumental happening just beyond the limits of your perception? Have you ever thought maybe, just maybe, you could attain greatness?

I was visited by these emotions one day, one dramatic day, as I passed a DVD rack in a grocery store. One of the cases caught my eye, on a seemingly inauspicious pink glittery cover. I flipped it over, greeted with the best blurb I shall ever read.

Barbie stars as Kara, a modern-day princess with an everyday life. One day, after being kissed by a magical butterfly, Kara soon discovers she has amazing super powers allowing her to transform into Super Sparkle, her secret, crime-fighting alter ego who flies around the kingdom ready to save the day! But it's not long before her jealous cousin catches the butterfly and also transforms - this time into Dark Sparkle, her nemesis. Their rivalry takes to the skies, but when they discover the kingdom's true enemy, can they put aside their differences to form one super team? Soar to new heights and discover that there's no greater power than the power of friendship!

And I uttered the words that would alter my destiny.

Holy fuck I have got to watch this goddamn movie.

Yes, it’s time for Let’s Question The Author’s Sexuality. Or as I like to call it:

Let's Watch: Barbie In Princess Power

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer Talk

It's that time again, for the subject of the phrase, "That Spider-Man movie" to become even more confusing to explain to anybody. Yep, there's a new Spider-Man film coming out, and they've released the first trailer. And if I know anything, it's that everyone wants me to tell you all about it! Why would you watch it yourself when I can analyze it and tell you what to think?!

So... definitely looks like a Spider-Man movie. They've still got the dilating eyes on the mask, which I'm a big fan of. The suit looks to be the same as in Captain America: Civil War, so you already know how I feel about that. One new addition is the reappearance of the web wings, or as I like to call them, the armpit webs. I never knew if they serve a purpose, but I think they're cool.

Peter's back in high school again, which I guess one could expect, but the last Spider-Man series did that, so I thought they might change it up a bit. Ah well. They did change up the love interest, like you do after rebooting a film series for the second time. It's Liz Allen this time, who seems similar to her portrayal in the Spectacular Spider-Man series.

Rather than Harry Osborn, Peter's best friend looks to be Ganke Lee, who was actually the best friend of Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, no not that one, no no, he's-- okay okay the black one. I guess they're adding him since Miles is the most contemporary high school Spider-Man we have, and they didn't want to actually have a black Spider-Man in film yet? Whatever.

Vulture, played by Michael Keaton, looks kinda cool, despite being another guy in a mechanical suit who does crimes, i.e. an Iron Man villain. I like the furry ruffles he has on his neck, so there's actually a reason to call him the Vulture. I had heard Shocker was gonna be in this movie, but he doesn't appear in this trailer, so I can't comment.

Robert Downey Jr.'s back, probably only for this film, since his salary for each film must start to equal the GDP of several small countries. Looks like he's gonna be the authority figure who's all, "Spider-Man, don't fight crime." and Spider-Man will be like, "But no I wanna fight crime." Honestly I like it more when Spider-Man has Captain America to look up to, but you gotta take what they give you here.

All in all, you can't get much from a trailer these days, since they have a team of people in a lab cut these up for the maximum hype appeal. It doesn't look terrible, but trailers have fooled me before. (I'm looking at you, Spider-Man 3.) At this point, whether I like the movie or not will predicate almost entirely on whether he uses the Spider-Signal or not.


Monday, November 28, 2016

The Summer Wheeze Defense

This holiday season, I think it's time to remember the important things in life. Friends, family, the complete absence of political discussion, and a little film called Frosty Returns.

You might recall this, if you're me. Starring John Goodman as the eponymous precipitation made animate, and drawn like bootleg Charlie Brown, this little film seemed innocent enough, but as the years went by it resurfaced more and more often in my mind. Why? Because of a little thing called Summer Wheeze.

An entrepreneur, no, a genius, named Mr. Twitchell invented some formula, that, when sprayed on snow completely disintegrated it. I don't mean he made it melt or evaporate, I mean a little spray from this can annihilated snow. Now, surely, such a man would be heralded as the second coming of Christ, right? Think about the preventable deaths, no more getting stuck in snowbanks, no more mountain climbers dying in avalanches. Who gives a shit about mousetraps, beat a path to this guy's door! But does this man get the recognition he deserves? No, because of goddamn Frosty the Snowman.

Frosty, the egotistical bastard, did everything he could to brainwash the people of Beansboro into discarding the most important scientific discovery of the century. Oh, just because he happens to be made of snow, that makes it okay?! Like the Pied Piper, he entrances children and adults alike with his siren song, making them abandon the fruits of scientific progress and even dub him King. This short tries its best to demonize Twitchell, like when one of his board members protests about the unintended effects Summer Wheeze may have on the environment, he unceremoniously sends her chair hurting down through a trap door, like some kind of discount Blofeld.

And yeah, I must admit, Twitchell could have used some better marketing execs, and maybe he would have been more successful if he didn't focus all of his efforts on one small town. Though he did provide, free of charge, Summer Wheeze trucks which drove through the town, completely eliminating all snow on or around the roads. He's not just an inventor, he's a public servant!

I suppose one could make an argument that Twitchell's motivation was only to be named king at that winter carnival, but who doesn't want recognition now and then? Can't we separate the man from his work? Not to mention, by the end of the short, Twitchell's crashed his car into a frozen lake, which surely killed him in time, due to his advanced age and feeble state. Did Frosty go to help the man? Of course not. All Frosty cares about is the profligate extention of his unnatural, eternal lifespan. He doesn't concern himself with human existence, they're all mayflies to the immortal homunculus dubbed Frosty. Of course, the narrator tells us Twitchell somehow survived, and changed his business strategy to making sleds. Sleds?! From Our Benevolent Lord Twitchell?! I don't believe you for a goddamn second, you irredeemable snow-gremlin!

So next time you're skidding hopelessly down a poorly plowed road into certain death, or angrily shoveling your driveway for the third time that week, you can thank your good friend Frosty for stifling progress back to the Ice Age. And maybe, just maybe, you'll remember the man, the legend, who looked at the state of things and said, "No thank you, I think I can fix that." Our fallen hero, Mr. Twitchell.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Ways To Die Parts 5 and 6

Time for the next installment of the series that wouldn't die, New Ways To Die.

Amazing Spider-Man #572 & #573

It starts with Peter helping to rebuild the homeless shelter destroyed by the terrible Venom/Anti-Venom fight we all had to witness last issue. Inside are all the illegal sweatshop workers we all forgot about because 12 different plotlines are running through this thing.

The Chinese talk to Martin Li about how they've been used for illegal medical trials by Oscorp, because apparently Osborn can't just limit the evil to only one part of his life.

Speaking of Osborn, we go with him as he explains to his men that the guns he just made will home in on Spider-Man, based on the tech on his camera. Osborn then explains they'll go with Bullseye alone, since he needs Songbird and Radioactive Man to help him fix the symbiote.

Anti-Venom, who had snuck in earlier, grabs Peter's camera when everyone leaves. Back with Gargan, we see Norman extract a sample of the Anti-Venom, before he heads to another part of the lab, where he has- HOLY SHIT.


...Okay, that's

No, I can't do it. This is grotesque! See those jars on the left? THOSE ARE HIS ORGANS.

So that's Freak, who apparently can't die, and his body just generates a countermeasure to whatever just killed him. I don't know. He's like a horrible disgusting ripoff of Doomsday.

Norman injects him with Anti-Venom, which, apparently, makes him produce a super Venom? I don't really get it. I mean, the only thing I know about this guy is instantly contradicted. Really, shouldn't something that heals him just heal him a bit? Does his body really need to counteract it? To be honest, the less time thinking about that guy, the better.

As Norman goes a little Koo-koo in his lab, Bullseye and the troops end up at Harry's coffee shop, where Peter, Harry and Lily are talking. Wait, now that they can track him, wouldn't they instantly recognize that Peter is Spider-Man? He's standing right there! I guess they never considered Parker might be Spider-Man, even though they found a camera taking pictures of Spider-Man with no Parker there, and there's only three people, Parker included, that could now possibly be Spider-Man, and the fact that Norman knew Peter was Spider-Man WAS A GODDAMN PLOT POINT FOR THE ENTIRE TIME GREEN GOBLIN EXISTED!

Sorry, lost my cool there for a bit. But don't worry, cool's back.

The troops throw smoke grenades, as Pete, Harry and Lily flee. Peter "runs for help", crawls around, and punches a dude in the head. He quickly wishes he hadn't done that.

Did those bullets just curve? Bullets don't work that way. So, he's been shot. A lot, judging by those bullet-trails. Can they explain how he's still moving?

So you're telling me you can get shot 20 times, but as long as they miss your major organs, you can still run around?! Apparently, Spider-Man runs on HP, and it's not 0 yet. Anti-Venom comes out of nowhere to kick the shit out of some dudes, then hands Peter back his camera. Spidey quickly figures out what's going on. When Bullseye comes to finish him off, Spider-Man throws a web ball at him which has his chest-spider, and tracking chip, on it. Since the Thunderbolt soldiers can't take orders very well, this happens.

Wait, if the magic moving bullets are so damn accurate, shouldn't they shoot the chip in his hand, not his chest? There's nothing on his chest for them to home towards. Even if you accept that somehow bullets can change their trajectory mid-flight, this still makes no goddamn sense!

Since Spider-Man pretty much just killed Bullseye, the battle's over, and Anti-Venom offers to tell Spidey where Osborn is.

Back with Osborn, he shows up at the lab dressed in the whole Green Goblin outfit, because nothing makes the Feds want to make you lead a team like a garish clashing outfit you wore while killing people. He reveals the thing he was making in his workshop, and gives it to Gargan. Uh oh, I don't think I'm gonna like this.

I don't like it.

The next issue begins with Harry talking to Norman, with Norman doing the whole "Join me, and we can rule the Galaxy as father and son" thing he's always going on about. Spider-Man and Anti-Venom head over to Oscorp, and go in separate doors. Songbird quickly spots Spidey, and zaps him, only to be met with something really unpleasant.


There is no way to make that panel okay. Keep in mind, that's Anti-Venom's main power. Shooting white glop at people. And some people wonder why I don't like him.

Scorp-Venom and Anti-Venom start fighting, as Harry and Norman try to find the real Spider-Man. He finds them pretty quickly, smashing into Norman from the ceiling. Man, he does that a lot in this storyline. I feel like I should've kept a counter. He does it, what, at least once an issue. Norman pushes a button, summoning the glider, which scratches Spider-Man on the way over. After jumping on the glider himself, Norman raises some questions.

Now, this is supposed to make us believe Harry's relapsed into Goblinism and is, in fact, Menace. We know better because we're from the future.

Spider-Man jumps on GG and smashes him through some walls, until he finds a room full of Chinese people strapped to the walls. Before anything can be done, Norman activates the self-destruct mechanism, forcing Spider-Man to save the test subjects. Spidey reluctantly frees Songbird and Radioactive Man and mostly everyone flees, except for the Wonder Twins.

Take out the dialogue and you have the weirdest porn ever made.

Venom realizes he can't kill Brock, because the symbiote still has feelings for its ex. I expect later that night, the symbiote will drunk-dial him and try to reminisce about the good times. The building collapses, but don't worry, everyone important got out okay. Well, except Spider-Man.

I guess the Thunderbolts decide killing Spider-Man should be put on the back burner, so the next day Norman announces that Spidey was buried under the rubble, but still man, he was making all kinds of cures in there, so you should hate Spider-Man just in case he comes back to life.

Back at an Oscorp office, the gang is looking through some books, looking for some research materials, to dissociate Harry from the human testing, presumably. As Harry goes into the next room, Peter's about to grab another book on the shelf when this happens:

Yeah, foreshadowing? Harry finds the file he needs and they all leave.

Back at the homeless shelter, all the former test subjects are there, and apparently all the miracle healing has ceased, as well as most people relapsing. Martin Li has an uncharacteristic bought of crankiness, CoughMr.Negativecough, as Anti-Venom shows he's still alive in the ending narration.

Finally! We're done! And what's the damage? Pretty much everything. This story is unpleasant, uncomfortable, and not well thought out. The tons of plot threads dangling through it only needlessly complicate matters, while the main story itself is just downright dumb. The fake politics are forgotten halfway through, the Chinese test subjects are never really explained, and Anti-Venom. Just Anti-Venom. His inclusion alone would be enough to make this series bad, but when you combine it with everything else, this thing becomes a train wreck.

The art's done by John Romita Jr., who's usually pretty good. Unfortunately, he seemed to be stuck on Grim 'n' Dirty Mode while drawing this, because everything he depicts just seems icky. I suppose there's not much you can do when you're asked to draw a guy who shoots white goo at people, but I'm still not much of a fan.

The writer: Dan Slott. This was before Big Time, but more importantly before Superior Spider-Man. There are things he can write well and things he cannot, and this storyline showcases most of what he can't. This was made during the time when Amazing Spider-Man had a few rotating writers, and how Slott became the main writer I may never understand. Especially considering he continued to write things like this:

Well, it's still better than Superior.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spider-Man in Civil War

So I recently saw Captain America: Civil War, and I could do my usual review thingy, but I know you don't want that. What you really want is my detailed analysis on Spider-Man as he appeared in the film, and subsequently how he'll be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don't worry man, I got you. (Mild spoilers, I guess.)

He was introduced to the movie right before the big battle scene, and he clearly stole the show. Every time he was shown onscreen, it was either something dynamic and interesting to see with his powers, or easily the funniest line in the movie. He even-- Wait, wait, no. That wasn't Spider-Man, that was Ant Man.

Spider-Man was just kinda there.

Yeah, it was kind of cool that Spider-Man was finally a part of the cinematic universe, but he didn't really do a whole lot. His jokes were okay, and he used a lot of webs, so I guess that's fine. The problem is, I forgot he existed every time Ant Man was onscreen, and I hadn't even seen the Ant Man movie yet!

I guess the problem is, Spider-Man was just Iron Man's lackey. Tony orders him in, he fights a bit, Tony calls him off. I suppose I was expecting a defection towards Cap's side or something, a la original Civil War. It doesn't help that he only fought because Iron Man essentially blackmailed him into it. Especially with recent news that Robert Downey Jr. is going to appear in Spider-Man's next live action film, I'm not too sure I like where that's going.

That said, it's not as if there was nothing to like. The costume design wasn't bad, though it certainly wasn't as interesting to look at as the first Amazing Spider-Man one. I like the dilating eyes, which they explained by Peter having some sort of super-senses. I think that might mean he doesn't have a spider-sense, like Spider-Man 2099. It's not completely ruled out, and I'm still hoping for a Spider-Man movie with actual spider-sense. They went with mechanical webshooters like Amazing Spider-Man, and I'm one of those people who was kind of creeped out by the organic ones, so that's good.

I'm still undecided on Tom Holland, the new actor for Peter Parker. He didn't do a bad job here, there just wasn't a whole lot of him. Aunt May was disconcertingly hot, which I guess the filmmakers realized because they had Iron Man comment on it.

So currently, I don't see anything that foretells ruin on the horizon for Spider-Man's solo movie, but we really don't have much to go on. It could go either way. In any case, I'm more eagerly anticipating the animated Spider-Man one written by the guys that made Lego Movie. Yeah, it's happening!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What If: Spider-Man

Remember the good old days, before whatever crazy idea the writers could come up with would instantly become canon, only to be retconned away with the next crossover event? Before every minor character had to take on the name and persona of the main superhero for at least a year? It was a magical time, where those concepts wouldn't languish in the main title until you were sick to death of Happy Hogan trying to be Daredevil. Instead, they had a fancy concept called the 'What If?" It was an issue, maybe a couple, laying out the alternate story, resolving it quickly, and you could say, "Oh that was cool." and move on with your life. The best part was how off-the-wall these things could get, and it didn't matter!

Here we got two of my favorite What-Ifs, both of them from Spider-Man, big surprise.

Comic Review: What If Venom Possessed the Punisher

So this begins at the famous church, where Spider-Man rips the symbiote from his body, ending its hold on his soul. But instead of Eddie Brock that night, Frank Castle beat him to the punch. Frank, instead of reacting like any normal person would to being possessed by an alien, decides it must be a SHIELD weapon and, without hesitation, starts killing criminals.

A LOT of criminals.

Some time later, an old lady sees Spider-Man, dressed in the cloth version of the black suit, and freaks the hell out. At the same time, Daredevil can somehow tell the Punisher from his heartbeat, and also discern that he's got something wrong with him. Spider-Man swings by the old belltower, and just so happens to run into the Punisher there. They fight and... it doesn't go well.

After switching costumes, Spider-Man visits the Baxter Building to borrow some kind of sonic gun from the Fantastic 4, while Microchip gives Frank the whole, "You've changed, MAN" speech, which instead of calming him down makes him freak out and go kill a bunch of people. Including, this time, Kingpin. After killing probably everyone in every crime family in New York, Punisher targets the more subtle crimes.

You, uh, you doin' all right, Frank?

After this they all somehow wind up back at the old belltower, with Spider-Man, Daredevil and, for some reason, Moon Knight ready to take on the Punisher. Predictably, it goes as well as the last time. Spider-Man finally uses his sonic science gun, which manages to snap Frank out of his vocabulary reducing madness. This leads to Frank having a BATTLE INSIDE THE MIND.

So Frank conquers the symbiote and tames its anger, ending all crime in the world through sheer murder.

Next up, the best goddamn thing ever.

Comic Review: What If Spider-Man Had Kept His Six Arms?

Now, what you should know is that Six-Armed Spider-Man is objectively the best Spider-Man, hands down, no contest. Originally, Peter extracted some enzyme from Morbius, the living vampire to fix his amazing mutation. What happened in this timeline?

Oh. Ooooh no.

Since, uh, that hit a dead end, Peter Parker tries to get help from his friend Curt Conners, also known as The Lizard. It's not going well.

I know it looks like he's just dealing with a killer hangover, but for real, he immediately becomes so frustrated he turns into the Lizard. I'm serious!

Jesus man, you couldn't keep your shit together for one minute? Do you ever make it through tax season without wrecking your entire house??

So Spider-Man subdues Curt and whips up a quick antidote. Conners' anti-anxiety medication isn't coming in any time soon, so he sends Spider-Man to Professor X of the X-Men, a supposed expert in mutation. After fighting his way through to the X-Mansion, Spider-Man has a long talk with Xavier, and the prognosis is bad.

I, uh, I think you might have that backwards there, Spider-Man. Really? A cripple? How is he disabled? If anything, he's EXTRA-abled! He does, in fact, have more ability than a normal person! Xavier tries to inspire Peter by comparing him to such people as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Helen Keller. Am... am I the only one who's not connecting those dots?

Spider-Man's next stop is the Baxter building, as it usually is, but Professor Reed doesn't have any better news for him. Peter's only recourse is to avoid everyone in his life forever, but luckily Doctor Octopus his holding some hostages, so Spider-Man releases some anger and beats the shit out of him with his extra four arms. Some time passes, and Reed comes to Spider-Man with some exciting news.

After this is a little montage, where Spider-Man mourns his Aunt May's passing, resolves that he'll never be with Gwen Stacy, and becomes the greatest superhero in the world. He even-- Wait, what??

So you're telling me Spider-Man avoided the greatest tragedy he's ever endured, saving the love of his life from what, in nearly every other instance, was certain death, but you expect me to believe that he's disabled. No yeah, that's about right.