Saturday, February 28, 2009

nurghophonic jukebox: "Black Flag" by King's X

Written By: Doug Pinnick, Ty Tabor & Jerry Gaskill
Released: 1992
Album: King's X
Single?: Yes, though largely ignored.



A year in the hole
Had taken it's toll
When I took a good look at me
And what a surprise
The scope of my eyes
Could only see black
And I remember someone
Who was taking them 2 by 2
And lately I've become
The one who'd have laughed at you too!!

Chorus:
There was a Black Flag
On my morning
There was a Black Flag
On my day
There was a Black Flag
On everything around
And I was walking backwards again
Black Flag!!

I walked in the day
My usual way
Looking through a 2X4
It colored my view
I couldn't see you
Or maybe I just wouldn't
And I remember the time
When the sunlight fell on my head
And lately I'd become
A member of the walking dead

Chorus:
There was a Black Flag
On my morning
There was a Black Flag
On my day
There was a Black Flag
On everything around
And I was walking backwards again

And I know that I was wrong
It was up to me
If I wanted to see

Solo

And I remember the day
When I saw the mask on my face
And I knew that it was time
To put the thing in it's place

Chorus:
I'd put the Black Flag
On my morning
I'd put the Black Flag
On my day
I'd put the Black Flag
On everything around
And I was walking backwards again
(repeat twice)

It was up to me
And I know that I was wrong

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chuck Patton



Francis Chuck Patton is an African-American former comic book artist best known for a stint on Justice League of America. More specifically, he is closely associated with the period in which the team relocated to Detroit, MI and became staffed with new, multicultural super-heroes. With Gerry Conway, Patton created Gypsy and Vibe, as well as redesigning Vixen and Steel: The Indestructible Man.

Patton got his start at DC Comics in the April, 1983 cover-dated The Flash #320, beginning a brief run of Creeper back-up stories. This was followed by art for Green Lantern, The Brave and the Bold, and Green Arrow before landing his permanent assignment on JLofA. However, Patton left his creations within their first year, taking on sporadic jobs on The Vigilante, Who's Who, The Omega Men, Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, Blue Beetle, Secret Origins, the Outsiders, Action Comics Weekly and DC Challenge. Patton also tried his fortunes at other companies with DNAgents, Daredevil, X-Men and The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe. He was considered to replace Todd McFarlane on The Incredible Hulk, but turned the offer down when he was asking to emulate the outgoing artist's style.

As with his JLD partner Gerry Conway, Patton became disillusioned with comics and moved into children's television animation. His credits include Dinosaucers, G.I. Joe, Captain N & the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas, and Teen Titans. More recently, he has turned to directing, on such projects as Dead Space: Downfall and Spawn, for which he won an Emmy award for Outstanding Animated Program.

Chuck Patton's legacy in comics seems to consist mostly of Justice League Detroit and well-regarded serial pairing Nightwing and Speedy. The image above is a self-portait of Patton, circa 1985, and heavily embellished by inker Mike DeCarlo. One imagines that had Patton inked himself, he might have more closely resembled another of his creations, Dale Gunn. Like Marv Wolfman's proxy Terry Long, who married a super-heroine, I suspect we now have the answer to why Gun had both Vixen and Zatanna vying for his attentions...



Further Reading: One-on-One with Spawn Director Chuck Patton

Thursday, February 26, 2009

1993 Who's Who in the DC Universe Update #2 Bloodwynd Profile



Featuring text by Mark Waid and art by Dan Jurgens and Rick Burchett, this Bloodwynd profile page can be enlarged, front and back, with the click of a mouse. That's a good thing, as the Loose-Leaf Edition of Who's Who sold far less than its predecessor, and this Update is downright scarce. I'd estimate there were only about 13,000 printed, many of which having been ripped apart and kept in 3-ring binders (like mine!) Who knew Bloodwynd had his own logo, even if the font is fairly generic? The information here is sparse, as is common with all things Bloodwynd. Do note that this is the second extraordinarily powerful African-American super-hero I've profiled this week to have vanished from DC Comics for half a decade and counting...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Emanuelle in America (Part 2, 1976)



Character Name:
Actress: Laura Gemser
Actual Movie Title: Emanuelle in America
Known Aliases: "Brutal Nights," "Black Emanuelle en Amérique"
Country of Origin: Italy
Character Nationality: U.S.A.
Character Age:
Occupation: Photographer (news, nudes)
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Religion:
Married:
Locales: New York
Release Date: January 5, 1977 (Italy)
Director: Joe D'Amato
DVD: Emanuelle In America (1976)
Stats: Third Black Emanuelle, 2nd with Laura Gemser

Story: Emanuelle meets with Joe(Efrem Appel,) who's coaching a pair of boxers sparring at his gym. "Hey baby-- better get you outta here. You're distracting the boys." Walking the streets outside, Joe explained his boxing career of "Eighty-seven knock-outs in eighty-eight fights" was cut short by politics and Eric van Darren (Lars Bloch.) The champion had buckshot in his gloves, but rich "crackerbox" van Darren saw to it a blind eye was turned. Joe had told Emanuelle all about it before, so she groaned and asked for the hot lead he'd promised. Joe had learned from his friend Charlie (Salvatore Baccaro) that van Darren was setting up his own private harem of a dozen women identified only by their zodiac sign. "Now I happen to know he has a vacancy for a Virgo."
"But I'm a Gemini."
"Just leave it to me. I can do things to your passport that you wouldn't believe, baby!"

Later, a white sedan drove Emanuelle to van Darren's estate, where she was met by the suspicious Charlie, who shows her to her room. Charlie explains that van Darren chooses how his girls dress. Seeing as none of the selections leave much to the imagination anyway, Emanuelle unashamedly strips out of the clothes she arrived in for a bath. "Oh, Joe didn't tell me you were so cold. I thought we'd be friends." She giggles as he exits. Later, Charlie gives Emanuelle a bracelet with van Darren's initials on it that must be worn at all times. Emanuelle works her magic on the uptight Charlie, until he tosses her on the bed for a romp.

Emanuelle hides a miniature camera in her bracelet, then walks the grounds. She bypasses his row of cars to take snaps of his two private jets. In the stables, a crate marked for horse shoes houses assault rifles, which are photographed. Emanuelle hears Charlie coming, and plays innocent as he escorts her out of these restricted areas. Back to being a stiff, Charlie explains that the girls are meant to do as they're told and remain available at the boss' discretion. Emanuelle meets her fellows, and learns the last Virgo was an Italian let go when she refused to drop fifteen pounds. "So he paid her off and sent her home." Though uncredited, Koike Mahoco from Orient Reportage and Black Cobra appears to be one of the zodiac. In the background Pedro the horse whinnies, as a certain little bitch is at it again, as the boss likes it...

Emanuelle goes swimming in the pool, which of course means it's time for a pale imitation of the same set-up from the original Emmanuelle... except with an extra girl and more crotch rubbing. Afterward, while sunning on the lawn, the boss hovers at Emanuelle's side. Creepy Eric van Darren thought "good old Joe" had made a nice choice for him. "We'll get acquainted later." The boss first had to meet with his dear duke. "You're the only guest I've had who hasn't taken advantage of the facilities, yet you're one of the most refined persons I know. What is it that isn't to your taste?" Alfredo Elvize, Duke of Mount Elba (Gabriele Tinti,) is still governed by traditional sentimentality it seems. van Darren sees the pursuit of proper women as wasted energy that could be better used for acquiring power. His harem allows van Darren to indulge whatever taste he has at a given time, effortlessly.

For instance, van Darren takes the Duke and his other girls to the stables, where a member of the zodiac with a taste for bestiality undresses and actually jerks off Pedro the horse on camera (both Emanuelle's and the picture director's. The canned sound effects are hysterical.)

...To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obscure Character Handbook: Kishana Lewis


Real Name: Kishana Lewis
Other Aliases: 'Shana
Occupation: Forest Service Fire Fighter, former soldier
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with no known criminal record.
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, CA
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Abel Carmody (ancestor, deceased;) unnamed Native American male and female ancestors (deceased)
Known Confidants: J'Onn J'Onzz
Known Allies: JLA
Major Enemies: Demons of Black Spirit Lake
Base of Operations: The U.S. Western Badlands
Group Affiliation: None known.

History:
Unbeknownst to Kishana Lewis, she was the descendant of the famed late 19th century African-American industrialist Abel Carmody and his Native American wife, herself the granddaughter of a shaman. Lewis was born in Los Angeles, far from the secluded Black Spirit Lake, where her ancestors fought to prevent an other-dimensional horror from escaping into our world. After their deaths, the Carmodys left behind an elaborate fortress. Dubbed "Carmody’s Folly," it came into the possession of an unnamed corporation, who maintained it to the present. In the meantime, Lewis served two tours in the U.S. Army and joined the Forest Service as a firefighter.

Lewis and three fellow Forest Service fire fighters were called out to the Spirit Lake Resort by manager William Hume as a preventative measure. Hume had expected a larger group, and remained insistent no flame should appear anywhere near the sprawling resort. Smoke-jumper crew boss Lewis cradled Hume's cheek in her palm, explaining the bad fire year had stretched local resources, but her men could handle the matter.

Within the forest, Lewis' three fellows were possessed by the ancient evil her ancestors had once contained. A subsequent confrontation caused powers Lewis had inherited to unconsciously manifest, igniting a patch of woods, and immolating the other smoke-jumpers. Kishana Lewis initially went into shock, before being met by the super-heroes the Flash and Green Lantern. Lewis attempted to warn the heroes about the immediate danger still posed by the monsters as they spirited her to safety, but the Leaguers were still surprised when the possessed smoke-jumpers rose up to continue their attacks. When the trio of former firefighters seemed poised to overwhelm the super-heroes, Lewis caused them to spontaneously combust, again without fully understanding her role in the action.



The Justice League of America arrived to take Kishana Lewis back to the resort for care, followed by questioning from the detective John Jones. Lewis was able to see through the disguise of the Manhunter from Mars, whom she allowed to enter her mind telepathically to read her memories. There, the Martian Manhunter found a flaming avatar of Lewis, seeming to possesses the knowledge of her ancestral birthright and duties the conscious mind of Kishana did not. This spirit form created a firewall against the horror, to temporarily protect the resort.

Later, J'Onn J'Onzz returned to the bedside and mental plane of Kishana Lewis. This time, Lewis was aware of what was happening, as she saw ancestral memories imprinted in her genome from 1877. It was here J'Onzz recognized Lewis' heritage, and she first began to feel her connection to the shaman. However, the contact was prematurely cut off by an assault on Carmody's Folly, which Lewis helped fend off with an assault rifle. Wonder Woman, who had been infected by part of the horror's influence, acknowledged the attack targeted Lewis, whose heritage the monsters hated and feared.

While Kishana Lewis hid in the catacombs under the fortress, the JLA desperately held back another offensive. When the Martian Manhunter was wounded by the monsters, his telepathic call to Lewis saw her arrive with a shotgun blasting. Lewis saved both J'Onzz and the Batman, before returning to safety to treat the Manhunter's wounds. As they turned septic, J'Onzz began to turn monstrous, and drew Lewis into his mind. The pair were attacked telepathically by a psychic ice storm, and J'Onzz remembered the same monsters had a presence on ancient Mars, where they were dubbed simply "Winter." Lewis again heard drums, both African and American Indian. She began to radiate heat on the astral plane, burning away the ice and curing J'Onn J'Onzz's infection. The pair kissed, then slept together.



Kishana Lewis and Martian Manhunter shared a dream about White Buffalo Woman and Thunderbird, strengthening Lewis' bond with and understanding of her heritage. J'Onzz professed his love for Lewis before leaving her side to defend against another monster attack. After much study, the Batman declared, "Carmody's collection references the demons of Black Spirit Lake from every Indian Nation in the Americas... back to the dawn of their history. And also a guardian-- a hero to stand against these forces of absolute darkness. The powers of the gods bonded to the soul and spirit of man... What we need is a way to unlock those abilities... transfer them from the astral plane to our reality."

Lewis, Batman and Plastic Man left Carmody's Folly and headed for Black Spirit Lake. Wonder Woman, now completely in the grip of monstrosity, fought a winning battle against the Dark Knight. Hiding in the woods from the evolving and increasingly large monsters, Lewis broke down, and was comforted by Plastic Man. "Manhunter believes in you, the Batman believes in you. 'Shana, Superman believes in you! They don't make that kind'a commitment easy, and they sure don't do it for show! Least you can do in return is believe in yourself!" Carrying on, the pair came upon an injured ivory elk. "The White Buffalo is a spirit totem. It imparts wisdom. The Great Elk is a warrior totem. It imparts the strength to use that wisdom. We'll make way better time with a ride!"

The elk carried the duo until it was speared by Wonder Woman and turned evil. Kishana Lewis' powers grew as she neared a tower in the middle of Black Spirit Lake, allowing her to fight off the possessed amazon. However, Plastic Man was defeated, and his malleable body used as a weapon against Lewis. The lynched Lewis held tight, despite Dark Diana seeing her as a flawed vessel for the hope of the world against her kind. However, inborn knowledge was manifesting, as was Lewis' strength, and especially her personal courage to wield both. The Martian Manhunter arrived, and Kishana compelled him to fire laser vision into her own eyes. This ignited heat emanation from Lewis than eclipsed that of the sun itself. The lake evaporated, the forest reduced to ash, and the monsters less than that. All infected persons present were healed, as were their injuries.

Kishana Lewis wished to continue her burgeoning romance with the Martian Manhunter, but her new powers made physical contact with J'Onzz impossible. Also, is appeared the demonic agent William Hume escaped the conflagration. Believing there were both more agents and gates to address, Lewis accepted that her war had just begun.



Height: Well Above Average (5'10"+)
Build: Athletic
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown
Strength Level: Superhuman. Punched a demonically-possessed Wonder Woman through several large trees.
Skills: Military and Fire Fighter training and experience.
Superhuman Powers: Kishana Lewis is possessed of inborn shamanistic knowledge and supernatural power, the full extent of which is unknown. Described at times as being "the Flames of Creation," Kishana Lewis can generate heat of such primal intensity as to eclipse that of a sun. Its radiance can be seen "across the cosmos, far into the future-- when the pulse reaches other inhabited worlds-- astronomers will mistake it for the birth of a star, if not a whole galaxy." Lewis is "an avatar of fire, channeling the molten heart of not only the Earth, but our sun as well." Lewis' very touch is anathema to the demons she is compelled to fight, and she can force spontaneous combustion in living things from a distance. Lewis has superhuman strength, and can absorb at least some types of energy directed at her person. Lewis has an astral form that aids her in navigating the psychic plane and address her unexplored mystical knowledge. Lewis has extrasensory perception, allowing her to see inside the spirits of others to uncover illusions, discover their personal history and detect corruptions. "The patterns of... life… are as clear to me as a trail of fire." Lewis can heal at least some disorders, especially those caused by the scary monsters. She is also capable of unaided flight.

Source of Powers: Shamanic heritage
Special Weaponry: Proficient in the use of most firearms.
Personality: Courageous and conscientious, though mildly sarcastic. Very accepting of differences in others.
First Appearance: JLA: Scary Monsters #1 (May, 2003)
Origin: Scary Monsters #5 (September, 2003)
Publisher: DC Comics
Status: Copyrighted.
Quote: "Gerry has a wife... and a baby he'll never see. Rudy's a painter. Simeon could dance. Ohhh how he danced. They deserved so much better."
Created by: Chris Claremont and Joshua Hood.

See Also:
JLA: SCARY MONSTERS #1, #2, #3 #4, #5, #6

Monday, February 23, 2009

1993 The Creators Universe Starwing and Nightfire Trading Cards

As a companion to the Art Thibert Nightwing mini-series post, I thought I'd include his copyrighted offerings to this Dynamic Entertainment card set. Look familiar? Reminds me of Liefeld's work on Agent America/Fighting American and Smash!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Amazing Heroes #202: Aborted Titans/Nightwing Plans (June, 1992)



I read Comic Book Legends Revealed #195 today, which discussed plans for the abortive 1992 Nightwing/Starfire mini-series by Art Thibert and Pamela Winesette, under the editorship of Jonathan Peterson, and with the full blessing of Marv Wolfman. The column also linked to a selection of articles at Titans Tower in which Thibert was interviewed about the proposed mini. I was a big fan of the changes Peterson made during his time editing the Titans books, and was very disappointed at the massive turnaround that occurred with his departure. I'm especially annoyed by how Nightwing was turned into a poor man's Daredevil by Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson, and others.

I was struck however by discrepancies in these accounts when compared to a report in June 1992's "Newsline Extra: DC's 1992/1993 Projects" article from Amazing Heroes #202. Below is their coverage, as well as the above rare promotional image, which I've never seen anywhere else...


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who's Who In The !mpact! Comics Universe Binder Cover (1991)

Credited to Butler. I bought this and the first volume of the looseleaf set for $5 today. Now all I need is #2, and I'll have accomplished nothing worthwhile!

Friday, February 20, 2009

nurghophonic jukebox: "Anything" by Sixpence None the Richer

Written By: Matt Slocum
Released: 1997
Album: Sixpence None the Richer
Single?: No.

From Wikipedia:
"Sixpence None the Richer is a Grammy-nominated American Christian pop/rock band that formed in New Braunfels, Texas, eventually settling in Nashville, Tennessee. The name of the band is inspired by a passage in writer C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity."



This is my forty-fifth depressing tune.
They're looking for money as they clean my artistic womb.
And when I give birth to the child I must take to flight,
'Cause the black in our pocket won't let us fight a proper fight.
So hey baby, can you shed some light on the problem maybe?
'Cause we're all tired and we'd like to know
If we should pack our tents, shut down the show.
Yes, we should like to see a burning bush-type sign.
But anything would be fine.
We're all told to dance but we never picked the tune.
Hanging like puppets they feed us from bent steel spoons.
But we're sealing our lips for the someday when the needle and the vinyl play
All the songs of the pain, songs that explain all our circles and strains.
So hey baby, can you shed some light on the problem maybe?
'Cause we're all crying and we'd like to know
If we should pack our tents, shut down the show.
Yes, we should like to see a burning bush-type sign.
But anything would be fine.
We're all dying and we'd like to know
If we should pack our tents, shut down the show.
"Yes, we should like to see you pack your tents, shut down your show."
Yes, we should like to see a burning bush-type sign
But anything would be fine. Oh, anything would be fine.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Frank Review of "The Wrestler" (2008)



The Short Version? WWE leftover's last days.
What Is It? Drama.
Who's In It? Mickey Rourke,
Marisa Tomei
Should I See It? Yes.

The Wrestler is a funny movie. I don't mean funny ha-ha, though it has its moments, but in how it's being received. You see, I became a Darren Aronofsky fan after seeing "The Fountain," which most found maudlin. "Pi" was interesting, but the critically-acclaimed "Requiem for a Dream" left me shaking my head. So now I've seen the director's latest work, which is almost universally well received, and I just think it's okay. The film reminds me of every other silly sports movie about a grizzled old veteran reaching for the brass ring one last time. Also, The Wrestler is one of the few films Aronofsky didn't write for himself. Even while peering into the lives of the doomed junkies in "Requiem," Aronofsky always seemed empathetic towards his subjects. Here, there's a pervasive sense of satire, as though Aronofsky is mocking his characters with the utmost sincerity. The film is also shot handheld, where Aronofsky's work was growing increasingly more pristine and calculated. The look works for the project, but between its shooting style, '80s callbacks, and subject matter, I'm reminded more of the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster* than anything.

Mickey Rourke continues to remind audiences of what they saw in him before his long downward spiral into self-parody. His plastic features even serve him for once, as it perfectly suits his character. Marisa Tomei plays the stripper with the heart of gold, still trying to retroactively earn her supporting Oscar. God bless her still very tight body, on full display, by the way. Even Rachael Wood plays the wayward daughter, bringing a lot of weight to what amounts to a handul of scenes and an under written part. Everyone performs, but they're in a darker and sexier than average Disney career revival flick. It's a crowd-pleaser, but challenging? Artful? Not so much.

Added bones: Mickey Rourke's hilarious, NSFW '09 Spirit Awards Acceptance Speech for Best Male Lead...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Emanuelle Bianca e Nera Videos

I'm too tired and pressed for time to pick up on "Emanuelle In America" this week, so here's some Italian videos from YouTube for a plantation-set knock-off of the series. We'll say it's part of Black History month, okay?

Emanuelle Bianca e Nera episodio1


Emanuelle Bianca e Nera episodio2 "Il Triangolo no!"


Emanuelle Bianca e Nera episodio3 "Amore Disperato"


Emanuelle Bianca e Nera Bonus track & Credits

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

John Byrne's Next Men Book One




Throughout my life, as a writer, John Byrne has tended to disappoint. I remember buying Alpha Flight #1 off the newsstand, and wondering who sucked out all the feeling and cool characters. I even tried the book a few more times, and found nothing of interest until the Bill Mantlo days. His Fantastic Four was better, including the Thing solo spin-off, but never strong enough to follow regularly. Incredible Hulk fizzled out fast, and I counted myself as a Superman follower for maybe seven months. His Star Brand and Wonder Woman were painful to read, while Sensational She-Hulk, Iron Man, and Namor just didn't engage me. What I've read of his later work has only further entrenched my bias.

That said, I never gave Next Men a try back in the '90s, even though Byrne himself described it as his bid for a mid-life creative high along the lines of Lee & Kirby in the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. I can't help but think he was crushed by its ultimate failure, explaining the worsening state of his craft. However, based on reading this first volume, Next Men may very well have been his shining moment as a scripter.

Not having read the 2112 graphic novel, its ties to Next Men were lost to me. Just in the context of a decades spanning prelude though, the book's major villains are depicted as outstanding monsters that beg to be confronted. The premise of artificially evolved test tube babies is explained well enough to intrigue, moving swiftly toward a status change and the compelling story of their escape from high tech confinement. One wonders if the Wachowski Brothers were fans who borrowed elements of this series for the Matrix trilogy.

Next Men is the sexiest, most visceral and just plain best written series I've encountered from Byrne. This entire volume is pretty much set-up for the series to follow, and I'm confident by the end you'll wish to read further, as I do. I understand IDW is in the process of re-releasing this Dark Horse series, and based on this initial entry, I'd like to read more.

Monday, February 16, 2009

nurghophonic jukebox: "Breakin' Dishes" by Rihanna

Written By: Christopher Stewart & Terius Nash
Released: 2007
Album: Good Girl Gone Bad
Single?: No.

Because it's my favorite Rihanna song, because it's stupid as hell this wasn't a single, and because in my cruel world, it's never too soon...



[x4]
I don't know who you think I am

He been gone since 3.30 (3.30)
Been coming home lately at 3.30 (3.30)
I'm super cool, I've been a fool
But now I'm hot and baby you're gonna get it
Now I ain't trippin', I, I ain't twisted
I ain't demented, well just a little bit (huh)
I'm kicking ass, I'm taking names
I'm on a flame, don't come home babe

[CHORUS]
I'm breakin' dishes up in here
All night (uh huh)
I ain't gonna stop until I see police lights (uh huh)
I'm a fight a man (tonight)
I'm a fight a man (tonight)
I'm a fight a man
A man, on a m-a-a-a-aan
A man, a man, on a m-a-a-a-aan
Oh

I'm still waiting, come through the door
I'm killing time and I'm bleaching ya clothes
I'm roasting marshmallows on the fire
And what I'm burning, is your attire
I'm getting restless, I'm getting tested
And I can't believe hes always out every night and never checks in
Is he cheating? Man I don't know
I'm looking round for something else to throw

[CHORUS]

(Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh)
I don't know who you think I am
(I don't know who you think I am)
But I really don't give a damn right now
(Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh)
If you don't come I'm a huff and puff and
Blow this, Blow this, huh
Blow this, Blow this,
I'm a blow this, blow this, huh
Blow this, Blow this
I'm a blow this, blow this, huh
Blow this house, house down
Dishes, breakin' dishes, breakin' dishes

[CHORUS]

A man, a man, on a m-a-a-a-aan
a man, a man, on a m-a-a-a-aan

breakin' breakin' breakin' breakin' (dishes dishes, dishes) [x3]


Sunday, February 15, 2009

2001 Aaliyah Album Comic Book Ad



Added Bonus: The advertised single, "We Need A Resolution" by Aaliyah (featuring Timbaland)

Written By: Tim Mosley & Steve Garrett
Released: 2001
Album: Aaliyah
Single?: Yes-- A minor hit.



[Verse - 1]
Did you sleep on the wrong side?
I'm catching a bad vibe
And it's contagious, What's the latest?
Speak your heart, Don't bite your tongue
Don't get it twisted, Don't misuse it
What's your problem?
Lets resolve it
We can solve it, What's the causes?
It's official, You got issues
I got issues, but I know I miss you

[Chorus - 1]
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Who should be blamed?
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Who should be ashamed?
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Will we remain?
You need a resolution, I need a resolution,
We need a resolution, We have so much confusion.

[Verse - 2]
I want to know: Where were you last night?
I fell asleep on the couch, I thought we were going out
I want to know: Were your fingers broke?
If you had let me know, I wouldn't have put on my clothes
I want to know: Where'd you go instead?
Cause it was 4 in the morning, When you crept back in the bed
I want to know: What was in your head?
Or what was in my head? Am I supposed to change?

[Chorus - 2]
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Who should be blamed?
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Who should be ashamed?
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? And will we remain?
You need a resolution, I need a resolution,
We need a resolution, We have so much confusion.

Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? and who should be blamed?
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Who should be ashamed?
Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?
Who should be hurt? Will we remain?
You need a resolution, I need a resolution,
We need a resolution, We have so much confusion.

[Bridge - Aaliyah]
Baby let me know, You'll let me know (I will)
You'll let me know, You'll let me know (I will)
You'll let me know, You'll let me know (I will)
You'll let me know, You'll let me know (I will)
You'll let me know, You'll let me know (I will)
You'll let me know, You'll let me know (I will)
You'll let me know, You'll let me know (I will)

[Rap - Timbaland]
Girl holla!!
You give me bits and pieces
You tryna blame me when I don't even know the reason
I think it's just the season, Maybe the month, Maybe the building
Now tell me what's the reason? Snoop video? Looks are deceiving
So, cut the crying, Cut the coughing, Cut the weazing, Girl
Quit the blaming, Cut the naming, Cut the sleeping, Girl
I think you need some prayer, Better call the deacon, Girl
So, get your act right or else we won't be speaking, Girl
So, what's it gonna be? Freaky, freaky... Me and you?
Or is it gonna be who blames who?
I'm tired of these things, I'm tired of these scars
I think I'm gonna get me a drink, I'll call you tomorrow

Friday, February 13, 2009

Obscure Character Handbook: Abel Carmody


Real Name: Abel Carmody
Occupation: Industrialist, former U.S. Calvary soldier
Legal Status: United States citizen with no criminal record.
Place of Birth: U.S.A.
Marital Status: Married
Known Relatives: Unnamed wife, Kishana Lewis (descendant)
Base of Operations: Carmody’s Folly, Black Spirit Lake, the Badlands
Group Affiliation: None, formerly 6th Calvary “C” Troop
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black
Intelligence: 19th century medium.
Strength Level: Normal human strength.
Superhuman Powers: None
First Appearance & Origin: JLA: Scary Monsters #1 (May, 2003)
Publisher: DC Comics
Status: Copyright 2003 DC Comics
Created by: Chris Claremont & Josh Hood

History:
In 1877, Abel Carmody was a “Buffalo Soldier” serving under Sergeant-Major Lincoln Freeman in the 6th Calvary “C” Troop. Disgusted by the orders of Colonel Daniel Rutledge to massacre a peaceful encampment of Plains Indians, Carmody and Freeman hid an elderly medicine man and his granddaughter, “same as my Pappy did runaways in slavery time.” The old man informed the black soldiers that their commander and fellow white soldiers who rode into a nearby valley to murder “surviving hostiles” were already dead. “There will be cold, and there will be snow… and horror will come for those who ride with him, to crack their bones and feast on the marrow of their souls. And then it will come for us! You must beat it back. You must keep the horror within the confines of this valley… or the world will end.”

Shortly thereafter, in the middle of summer, the snow fell, and the monsters came. “We fired our guns ‘til the barrels blazed too hot to hold. We never saw what wuz killin’ us. The snow wuz too heavy. They moved too fast. The only thing we learned for sure… wuz that iron made them hurt.” With only two men from the company left alive after the initial assault and one left standing, the medicine man explained further, “The portal that admits the horror to our world opens only for a time. When it closes, it must return to its own place. But each time, the door opens wider, and for longer. The horror means to claim our world for its own. It must be stopped.” The shaman was too old to survive a fight of the magnitude necessary to drive out the demons, and the Calvary had killed his son and intended successor. His granddaughter had the “blood for such a battle, but not the knowledge.” Sending Carmody and his granddaughter out of the mountains, the shaman explained, “I cannot destroy the dark trail, only block it for a time. The power I summon must be renewed, else the seals will be broken someday, forever! That, child, must be your task.” Freeman and the shaman stayed to face the horror, and perished in an explosion of flames.

Abel Carmody went on to become one of the great industrialists of the 19th century, and has been claimed to be the only African-American to whom that honor can be applied. “Born a slave, he died a millionaire… From the moment he made his fortune, he started building… ‘Carmody’s Folly.’” The sprawling fortress was constructed near Black Spirit Lake, made of stone, and built to last. “While he built his empire, his wife supervised construction of their home. She died here, alone, within days of its completion. Carmody himself never set foot over the threshold… The entire house is constructed of granite, with walls averaging a meter thick… The lodge houses one of the finest collections of Plains Indians artifacts in the nation. And a library rivaling what you’d find at most top-rank universities. All relating to the occult... This is really the most extraordinary collection. Texts of magic representing every continent, culture and era of Earth's history... Trouble is, reading isn't enough. Shamanic lore requires a spiritual aptitude, much like the metagene that conveys superpowers, in those who seek enlightenment. You not only have to be born to the role, you also have to earn it by undertaking a series of ordeals.”

Further, the house contained, “catacombs that extend into the heart of the mountain. Fresh spring water. Medical supplies and food up the wazoo. Weapons. Generators and fuel for months. And not just electricity. There are more torches than I can count. Plus wood and coal galore.” It was noted, “That was a stipulation of Abel Carmody’s will. That his house remain intact and fully stocked, in perpetuity.” The resort hosts its own medical and security staff, as well.

At present, the nearest town is fifty miles from the valley. Although a lush forest oasis surrounded by a virtual desert, Black Spirit Lake was never settled by permanent inhabitants. No fish swim in its waters, and the green is barren of life, animal nor insect. The forest regenerates itself at a fantastic rate, so that even the most grievous damage to impact it could be regrown within a month. This process would appear to be a defense against the horror, as the wood is saturated with a resin that burns with the intensity of white phosphorous. In fact, the bowl-shaped valley could act as a natural blast furnace. The only exit from the valley is through Carmody’s Folly, and the monsters showed no ability to transverse the mountains surrounding it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Heathentown



A funeral. An eerie town deep in the Florida Everglades. Anna has come to see her closest friend buried, but in the swamps death may be only the horrible beginning! Attempting to discover the truth, Anna digs up her friend's grave, awakening an ancient malevolence... bent on her destruction!

I'm going to tell you as little as possible about Heathentown's plot beyond the above back cover copy. The graphic novel is very cinematic; a brisk, mood-drenched read that rewards the most when you enter its sultry environs with minimal foreknowledge. The protagonist Anna Romano is to some degree a silent surrogate for the audience, so that you're not so much introduced to a character as thrust into her circumstances yourself. However, there is a distinct personality there, and part of the fun is the story's raising questions that the reader will have to be patient to have answered, or determine entirely for themselves. The supporting cast is depicted as they would be in real life-- through impressions and context. For this reason, the book demands the reader pay attention and fill-in details through their own imaginations; all the better for the intrigue and terror to envelope you.

Credit goes to the wife and husband team of writer Corinna Sara Bechko and artist Gabriel Hardman. Both have done work for Zuda, though the latter has more genre experience through his storyboards for films like Spider-Man 3, X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns and the Austin Powers series. Bechko is a surprising new voice in comics, who puts faith in her readers' intelligence. Hardman storytelling and tone are incredible, with a style reminiscent of Lee Weeks crossed with Al Williamson, and a dollop of '70s Filipino artists. Combined, they make Heathentown an immersive experience, and a dark place I recommend others pass through.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Walking Dead Volume 9: Here We Remain (2009)




After the status quo shattering events of the previous collection, I'm afraid "Here We Remain" comes perilously close to jumping the shark. Rick and Carl are forced to make their way alone in the wilderness, with modest arms and provisions. A pattern has been emerging to establish Carl as a sort of "John Connor" type, and that continues here, especially over a sequence in which he must defend himself alone. That's reasonably solid, but then the story deteriorates into "jump scares," fake-outs, and maudlin dialogues. Where we should have reached a point where the center could no longer hold, and perhaps the surviving members of Rick's party should have spun off into divergent narratives, we instead find a retreat to the familiar.

Worst of all, a new batch of characters are introduced, offering major revelations and a new direction of the most hackneyed sort. After five years of stories in the vein of Romero's first two "Dead" masterpieces, things seem to have taken a sharp turn toward the increasingly ridiculous later entries in that series. Only the foul-mouthed but highly amusing Abraham's nutty dialogue offers immediate hope for redemption. However, he represents another problem of the series: immediately replacing a "lost" element with a reasonable facsimile. As when Tyreese seemed poised to become Rick 2.0, Abraham could conceivably fill the same role, or even Michonne's. When the parts become interchangeable, tension and attachments dry up. Take note, Robert Kirkman.

On a positive note, Charlie Adlard, an artist I once held up as an example of how anyone could draw comics, continues to feed me crow. His characters are now easily discernible, even with varied appearances. His figures have more weight and depth. Emotion and personality ticks are coming through nicely in his faces, and everything just feels better rounded out. I may actually be a fan these days!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wednesday Is Black Tuesday For All I Care #25

B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1
Black Lightning: Year One #1
Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #1
Vixen: Return of the Lion #4




B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1 (Dark Horse, 2009, $2.99)
While I've long enjoyed the art of Mike Mignola, I've never understood the popularity of his Hellboy universe. I've made repeated attempts to delve into its arcana, but every time I just end up shrugging. I also hate a printing conceit Dark Horse pioneered: the ongoing series disguised as a cycle of accessible minis. Every time I've been suckered into buying one, I feel cheated by a largely inaccessible narrative that I've clearly been dumped into the middle of. My first shot at reading B.P.R.D. proved both these irritating rules. I don't know these characters. I have some idea of where they've been through an inside cover primer, but the information seems to be out of date. I gleaned enough through context clues to mostly orient myself, but by the last page felt no compunction to read on.

There was little in the way of characterization, and the best bits followed the recollections of an elderly member of a Doc Savage style heroic troop. His story wrapped this issue, while those tasked to follow up on it didn't hook my interest. John Arcudi's script was solid enough, so I expect the blame falls on overall series plotter Mignola. The rough cartooning of Guy Davis also failed to impress.

Black Lightning: Year One #1 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
I grew up in the barrio/ghetto, and while I'm unquestionably a honky, I always related to the experiences of my mostly black friends growing up. Marvel ruled the roost in my neighborhood, as they treated their street characters with respect and an air of authenticity. DC's few attempts at creating African-American heroes always felt prefabricated and obligatory. That might explain why no one I knew collected Black Lightning appearances, and only I followed Titans-- with Cyborg among my least favorite members. Both, especially once B.L. joined the Outsiders, reeked to me of tokenism.

Black Lightning himself was hampered by a slew of handicaps: an afro-wig attached to his mask to hide his identity; the shirt open to his navel; the modest powers artificially generated by a belt; and so on. I know Tony Isabella had the best intentions with the character, but stacked against Black Panther, Power Man, Storm, Roadblock or Stalker? He just seemed hopelessly lame. Even the Falcon had a better costume and power set, if possibly even less personality. I've tried often to embrace the character, including his second solo run in the '90s, but all that came of that was a bitchin' action figure as part of the Total Justice line.

I bought this new mini-series because it was offered to me at a heavy discount. I expected nothing from it, so color me surprised when it turned out to be the best take on Black Lightning I've ever read. While I initially dismissed Judd Winick's retconning of a secret adult daughter for Jefferson Pierce, because Judd's a tool, I'm amazed at how Jen Van Meter turned this possible strike to her advantage. The mini-series establishes Pierce as a family man who, due to circumstances and personal convictions, is tragically growing ever distant from his loved ones. The internalization of the Black Lightning power is sidestepped as an issue by retroactively making them a part of Pierce from the beginning, which actually makes his motivation and inevitable consequences more plausible. Pierce's new extended family reminds me of Louise Simonson's work on the Steel character, before everything went completely to hell there, and enriches the hero-to-be.

The plot itself is nothing special, especially if you've ever watched any of those inspirational low-income school movies like "Lean On Me," or maybe the more paranoid vigilante franchise "The Principle." What makes it work here is the presentation, both in how well it suits the character, and as visualized by some of the finest art Cully Hamner's ever produced. Even the coloring of Laura Martin is inspired, mingling day-glo graffiti with moody blues and ominous brown-reds. This is one great looking, well thought out book, and I will be back for the trade! Thanks to the creative team for finally transforming Black Lightning from a idealistic concept into an intriguing character!

Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #1 (Marvel, 2009, $2.99)
Was this story originally produced to run in the back of some "Marvel Jr." magazine or something? Paul Tobin's plot is barely there, his sarcastic characterization is limp, and the whole affair seems pointless. Dr. Doom beats up a collection of Spider-Man villains, then forces them into a "Usual Suspects" scenario against Tony Stark for no clear reason. In the process, Iron Man and Dr. Strange (of all illogical combinations) are made to look like fools, the Sinister Six come across no better, and the next issue promises actual Masters of Evil the same treatment. Not even the wonky, kid-friendly art or cel-style coloring were appealing. Expect unsold copies in the discount bin in short order.

Vixen: Return of the Lion #4 (DC, 2008, $5.99)
Well, this issue was less disappointing than usual, if I can damn with faint praise. Halle Berry, one of the most boring actresses alive, continues to serve as a likeness, and apparently excitement, model. This reminds me of Berry's awful turn as Storm in the X-Men movies, and all this "finding herself in Africa" bullshit just makes me figure G. Willow Wilson overdosed on old Chris Claremont scripts. Gerry Conway created a flirty, fierce heroine, but every take I've seen since has leaned decidedly toward the milquetoast. At least the Justice League Unlimited cartoon got her right, and would that future writers looked toward her appearances there, I'd be a happier reader.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Empowered Volume 1 (March, 2007)




I was first introduced to the heroine of Empowered through an online preview, which led me to this direct-to-trade series, still an automatic purchase four volumes later. The first makes an excellent and speedy impression, as it collects short stories creator Adam Warren circulated amongst friends via email for years before publishing. Based on commissions for bondage-themed super-heroine pin-ups, Empowered began her life as a generic victimized character, but developed a personality over time that led to a continuum all her own. She is truly unique in that, unlike the stereotypical tough women of comicdom, Empowered is ruled by deep-seated insecurities that constantly hamper her life in tights. Rather than grand posturing, Empowered reflects a kind of woman we all know, and often love, making her far more believable than most any other super-person who comes to mind.

I remember the delight I felt on first reading this volume, as it was that rare comic that is powerfully and broadly effecting. I grinned almost constantly, except when matters turned toward the briefly horrific, or exposed the heart-breakingly relatable struggles of our heroine. Empowered is quite capable and determined, but she's been cursed with an extremely unreliable power source that leaves her constantly vulnerable and routinely humiliated by foes and "friends" alike. Her teammates do not respect her, as they take glee in abusing and objectifying her. Hoods routinely capture, bind, and gag her-- some posting pictures on the internet for added degradation. Emp works horrible, dead-end jobs. She's lonely, she has body issues, and it's all that she can do to summon up the courage to soldier on.

In her corner are Thugboy, an ex-minion who falls hard for this flaxen fury who can't see her own worth. An encounter with the mercenary Ninjette leads to heavy drinking and fast friendship. When Emp gets saddled with playing house warden to a villain that represents one of her greatest accomplishments, this caged Demonwolf becomes her funniest supporting character, speaking in vaunted tones about the most mundane aspects of daily living.

Empowered Volume 1 is sweet, sassy, sexy, and even scary when called for. In short, its everything you could want out of a super-hero comic. Empowered is probably the most realistic and entertaining heroine in modern comics, and it seems to me her crossover appeal is enormous. Though drawn in a so-called "manga" style, there's nothing in Adam Warren's sensual gray-toned pencil art that should turn off traditionalist readers, and it also succeeds in crossing the aisle to reach the otaku. I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Frank Review of "Rise: Blood Hunter" (2007)



The Short Version? Vampire chick hunts them what turned her.
What Is It? Action/Horror.
Who's In It? Lucy Liu. Michael Chiklis.
Should I See It? No.

Blade, the movie adaptation of the Marvel Comics vampire hunting character, could have been a more respected and influential film. It was forward looking in its use of wire-fu set to dance music, and was the first decent Marvel movie, until The Matrix wiped its ass with Blade's innovations.

While watching Rise: Blood Hunter, I could have sworn I was also seeing a comic book adaptation, but this is supposed to be an original creation. It trades out Blade's gender and minority, but most of the same beats are in place. There's a convoluted origin story offering a tragic role for the protagonist's mother. The hunter stalks the glam-rock wannabe white male vampire who was responsible for their affliction, aided by a blond female sidekick. Both are mentored by older male characters with an agenda, who helps arm them with tricked-out weapons. Both are captured in the third act, bled nearly dry through contrived means, but escape to exact their revenge. So I guess you can say Rise: Blood Hunter is essentially Blade, but pussy-whipped.

For starters, Sadie Blake is an intrepid reporter in the Lois Lane mode, until she falls prey to the vampires. Sadly, she then goes from long, attractive hair to a shoulder length style that kind of looks like a 70s ethnic Lois variation. In fact, much of the film seems to be modeled after that decade's exploitation cinema and low-rent genre television. Despite the promise of martial action, the Blood Hunter mostly just wanders around town, investigating the whereabouts of the vampires. Her longest fight sequence is against a late-middle-aged Asian man who gives her way too much trouble. Instead of high kicks, Blake tends to just shoot toothpicks at people with her wimpy little collapsible crossbow. Sunnydale would have eaten her alive inside a week.

Also like grindhouse fodder, Rise promises sex and violence, but the nudity is sparse and discreet, while blood effects are all the gore you should expect. It's all so tepid, it'll make you long to revisit Ultraviolet. Certainly, the film could have used a believable action star. I know Lucy Liu gets a lot of work as a dragon lady, but I've never been able to get past what an obvious put-on that is. I usually only buy Liu when she's more bubbly, as in Lucky Number Slevin or Charlie's Angels. On the other hand, Liu's dramatic moments are outstanding, as she deals with the shock, revulsion, alienation, and depression that comes with her condition. These elements are also among the silver linings of the movie, as the combination of vampire hunting and chick flick isn't common.

Michael Chiklis gets the thankless part of Steve Trevor to this half-pint Wonder Woman. Anytime Chiklis and Liu share screen time, I wondered who seriously thought there was going to be any chemistry there. Chiklis on his own is even worse, mouthing the tired alcoholic-driven-cop lines you've heard a million times, without any seeming conviction.

Carla Gugino is laughably bad as the blond femme fatale Eve, looking tired and out of place. I can't recall much about the actor playing the main villain, except that he was neither Stephen Dorff nor Stuart Townsend, but might as well have been. Robert Forster and Marilyn Manson are buried in here somewhere, if playing "Where's Waldo" for two hours sounds like fun.

The most interesting thing for me was following the strong current of misandry running though the script. Sadie goes to great lengths to save a female victim at the beginning of the film, but brutalizes and feeds off of a host of men over the running time. There's an odd tenderness to how Sadie relates to Eve, the woman most responsible for her predicament, while her relations with every male is marked by aggression, assault, and murder. As I recall, every major male character tries to kill her at least once, even her "partner" played by Chiklis.

In closing, Rise: Blood Hunter deserved its direct-to-dvd dismissal, but has some weird subtext and a few interesting ideas, if you really must watch another vampire slayer picture. Otherwise, you can surely find better ways to kill time.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kitty's Kostume Korner (April, 1983)


The All-New, All-Different X-Men owed a huge debt to the Legion of Super-Heroes, which continues to this day. One example comes from the comic book that produced my first heroine crush, Uncanny X-Men #168, on one Katherine "Kitty" Pryde. The story was a solo spotlight by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith in their prime, while editor Louise Jones (a.k.a. "Weezie" Simonson) offered a look at reader submitted costumes. Jones/Simonson had solicited submissions in 1981, when Kitty was going by another of her many codenames, Sprite. I can't tell you how many Legionnaires were clothed by their audience, and such maneuvers are excellent ways to fully engage your readership. If nothing else, the color scheme of that second offering is very close to the one used for the "Shadowcat" identity after the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series.

Sigh. In 1983, she was the older woman, and now I'm more than twice her age. Regardless of what Wooderson said about high school girls in Dazed and Confused, that fact just depresses me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

nurgh's Worst. Songs. Ever. #2: Heartspark Dollarsign by Everclear

Everclear's songwriting is consistently awkward, poorly rhymed when they bother, and repetitive in theme. The best/worst example I can think of is "Heartspark Dollarsign," which somehow manages to mash-up trailer park lust & self-aggrandizement with a soapbox for white liberal guilt. Added bonus: One of the most dreadful choruses of all time. "She says, she says, 'you're possessed of a power that's bigger than the pain!" What, was Art Alexakis channeling Celine Dion or something? The song continues Everclear's generic 70's inspired pop rock sound, often mistaken as "alternative" by people who accept press releases as breaking news. Oh, here's that skeevy video...



Heartspark Dollarsign

Time stops when the whispers blare
The voices drop hard, but the eyes still stare
The world resolves into a deaths head grin
Because I walk with pride with a black girlfriend

My mom said not to bring her around
Cause she's black
My family would put her down
I'll break the white-trash ties that bind
Trade a love so pure for a hate so blind

She said -- she said
Forget the fact that I don't look like you
She said -- she said
You're possessed with a power
Bigger than the pain

Time stops when we lie so close
In my room where we share
What no one knows
From the day that we start
Until the day that we end
I know I know I know now
We will never find a place where we can just fit in
Me and my black girlfriend

She said -- she said
Fend for yourself -- you're alone
She said -- she said
You are possessed with a power
Bigger than the pain

A power bigger than the pain

Heartspark dollarsign
Heartspark dollarsign

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wednesday Is A DC Finale For All I Care #24

Final Crisis #6-7
Final Crisis Secret Files #1
Legion of Super-Heroes #49-50




Final Crisis #6-7 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
I'm here to talk about a Grant Morrison story about the theoretical end of the world, heavily seasoned with Kirby New Gods. Black Lightning will be given a prominent role, only to fail epically and be replaced by a dismissible Grant Morrison-originated character. Another such Morrison creation will come out of nowhere for a major moment where they are more impactful on the story than nearly any other character, without any real in-story set-up or merit. The Ray will pop up in a surprising spotlight appearance. Zauriel and the Pax Dei will help save the day. Another Morrison creation will give their life for the same purpose. A marquee hero will know he's in a story. Lex Luthor will be compromised by the Big Bad, only to escape spectacularly. Batman will have a major cool moment where he talks shade and takes down a major villain all clever-clever like. A classic DC hero with mythological origins will lead an army of mostly new super-humans in an assault.

I am of course talking about the final chapter of his JLA run, "World War III."

No wait, I'm talking about the polyphonic spree that was "Final Crisis," advertised as "the day evil won." If by that you mean the event that irreversibly diminished my interest in the DC Universe, as Tom DeFalco's editorship of Marvel did in the '90s, spot-on. Look, I have in the past and will likely continue to enjoy some of Morrison's work, but the guy isn't always a decent writer. I've come to the conclusion that he's a pop artist, and as such he spends most of his day with his head wedged in his own asshole, too busy creating conceptual pieces to craft a proper tale. Here, he seems to be reflecting on how awful DC Comics have been at times, especially lately, and inflicts his views upon the universe itself. Not to mention us poor readers, who got mugged to the tune of $28 for a supposed seven-issue, self-contained series that relies on hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of other comics to follow.

I hated so much about this series:
  • Supergirl fighting an exaggerated version of her current bimbo status in the form of Mary Marvel, forever tainted by a connection to DeSaad (and since when could he fistfight?)
  • Creating a "5th World," as if that will fix the problems of Kirby's Fourth World Saga, and isn't it now more of a 51st World besides?
  • Inflicting the worst new "ethnic" super-heroes on the DCU since Vibe's day, then wondering why no one's lining up for a "Shilo Norman & the Super Young Team" ongoing series.
  • Blatantly ripping off Marvel Comics' Watchers, and anyway, wasn't the big deal about the Monitor and Anti-Monitor that they were one-of-a-kind beings in a multiverse?
  • How do you comment on the darkening of comics while having Tawky Tawny disembowel Kalibak on-panel without looking like a tool?
  • Isn't it bad enough Renee Montoya finished Denny O'Neil's progressive erasing of all things Rorschach from the DC Question without then turning the concept itself into some weird Nick Fury: Director of Checkmate thing?
  • You're going to make Darkseid & company cool by having the dark lord sit around for the entire series as a topless middle-aged man and have his son killed by a talking animal? And Darkseid is now a cackling, shit-talking sadist, like every other villain these days?
  • Hasn't the analogue thing been beaten to death already?
  • Frankenstein? Not only do I have to read his mini-series, but accept that a literary lift is one of the most effective heroes ever? And since he's technically "alive," could you offer a better reason why the Morticoccus didn't effect him like everyone else?
  • Wonder Woman's one page "moment," after proving nothing much as either a hero or villain throughout the series?
  • Are the Hawks dead? I missed that until someone pointed it out to me. And Aquaman is alive without explanation? Unless you're writing the follow-up, Grant, way to fuck other writers out of an opportunity to tell a proper resurrection story of their own.
  • Once again, anything important in the DCU must revolve around Superman and/or Batman, as all other heroes are comparatively impotent.
  • Supersinging? The Miracle Machine? Directly referencing "Lolita" as a character name? The Daily Planet Building incorporated into the Watchtower? The other main villain introduced elsewhere, and only appearing for a few pages here to be killed off? The unexplained, pointless "death" of "Batman?" Get the fuck out of here!

There were a few things I liked: The satire of Overman's "Nein!" Obamaman. A prominent role for, of all characters, the monolingual Mexican Iman from a Superman Annual years back. That despite multiple artists, the series mostly looked great and worked visually. Still, a book that started off with promise ended up another awful rip-off crossover. I wonder if Grant rests easy knowing that he himself, through this series, embodies the same "old, ossified ideas that have lasted way past their time and won’t let go of the future" he has attributed to Darkseid?

Final Crisis Secret Files #1 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
Except for Swamp Thing, for whatever reason, I never had much to do with writer Len Wein. Based on his script here, I'm sorry about that. Wein tells a better, more complete story in this origin for the villainous Libra than Morrison ultimately managed in the series that it satellites. I hope to God that, if these bastards are going to try asking $4 for individual comics across the board, they'll offer more satisfying done-in-ones along the lines of what I found here. See, you can set up one story without neglecting the audience that paid for one in this instance!

Legion of Super-Heroes #49-50 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
Jim Shooter's latest run on Legion, and the volume itself, comes to an end. It appears his final script was hacked to pieces by editorial, failed to resolve multiple subplots, and dismissed others with slapdash expository dialogue-- all while being run credited under the pseudonym "Justin Thyme." Even regular artist Francis Manapul pulled out, leaving a rush job for Ramon Bachs and his old inker John Livesay. Even still, it was more professional, comprehensible, and enjoyable than "Final Crisis." DC Comics, welcome to my shit list.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Emanuelle in America (Part 1, 1977)



Character Name: Emanuelle Rogers
Actress: Laura Gemser
Actual Movie Title: Emanuelle in America
Known Aliases: "Brutal Nights," "Black Emanuelle en Amérique"
Country of Origin: Italy
Character Nationality: U.S.A.
Occupation: Photographer (news, nudes)
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Married: No.
Locales: New York City, Venice, Washington D.C., Caribbean
Release Date: January 5, 1977 (Italy)
Director: Joe D'Amato
DVD: Emanuelle In America (1976)
Stats: Third Black Emanuelle, 2nd with Laura Gemser

Story: In a montage, Emanuelle rode the Roosevelt Island sky tram, walked the streets of Manhattan, bought a newspaper (her own?,) drove across a city bridge, and was solicited by an umbrella hat salesman. She did this all in a white suit, by the way. The montage was intercut with scenes from her destination: a photo shoot involving three female nude models, a dandy dressed male named Howie, and a motorcycle. Howie was first to exit as the girls dressed, while Emanuelle complimented Janet (Stefania Nocilli) on her weight loss. Janet complained to Emanuelle that her new intellectual boyfriend Tony (Giulio Bianchi) refused her sex. Emanuelle assured Janet that she had the right equipment to change his mind, then departed from the artistically sexed-up studio.

Driving off in her blue sedan, Emanuelle has a gun put to her head by a man in the back seat. She at first assumes this to be a robbery, and tries to hand over her money. When refused, Emanuelle offers her car, but the man declares he wants only to strangle her. Emanuelle pulls over onto a side street, unsure why she's been targeted, as her assailant hops into the passenger seat. The man begins preaching about the loss of values and ideals in the streets. "By killing you, I'll give the world a lesson in morality." Emanuelle deduces that this is Tony, who blames Emanuelle for damning his angelic Janet with her nude photography. "You are evil! You stimulate the basest, most inhuman instincts in people! Sex! Shame! Hell and damnation!" Emanuelle begins to seduce Tony, explaining that an executioner should know his victim, as well as guilting him with her friendship to Janet. Tony admits that he's a virgin who was scarred as a child by seeing his mother. While Tony rants about redeeming and marrying Janet, Emanuelle began making plays for Tony's zipper...

"You're right. Sometimes sex is shameful-- corruption, prostitution-- but not always. When it happens naturally, freely, then it's a vital force. It's happiness... it's cleanliness... it's love, even if it lasts only a moment." Speaking of which, the blowjob that follows is brief and anticlimactic. A panicked Tony drops his loaded automatic pistol and runs from the car, though he realizes "I love it!" Emanuelle giggles as she closes her passenger door.

After a shower, Emanuelle discusses the matter with Bill (Riccardo Salvino) as he mock aims the piece away from her. "You can have it... go to the police with it-- do whatever you want! Gee, what a scare that was." Emanuelle chooses not to report Tony, as she was still in one piece, concerned about hurting Janet, and hopeful she had helped Tony. Bill pours drinks from his cigarette-pack-shaped bar, hoping to "celebrate" with Emanuelle in their remaining fifteen minutes together. This couple knew each other well, as a photo of them together hung on the wall, though they "never get to see each other, because their jobs get in the way. Bill darling, we've been repeating the same things for so many years." Bill threatens to marry Emanuelle one day, but she protests that it would be a crime against freedom, "which is a must for both of us." Bill jokes about shooting himself, so Emanuelle finally submits to the sexin'. "...Who needs a dead lover?" She calls to tell Joe (Efrem Appel) she'll be tied-up until 8 o'clock...

...To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Frank Review of "Che: Part One & Part Two" (2008)





The Short Version? A Revolutionary Life.
What Is It? Docudrama.
Who's In It? Benicio Del Toro
Should I See It? No.

I've seen nine of director Steven Soderbergh twenty-five released films, and it occurs to me that there's only two I've ever had any inclination to see again afterward. While fairly left wing, I'm absolutely opposed to communism, and I'm more likely to be seen in one of those "Planet of the Apes" Che-parody shirts than the real thing. I suspect I am not the target audience for this picture. However, my date to this four & one-half hour theatrical ordeal (discounting a twenty minute intermission) was a self-proclaimed Latin American commie who counts both Che and Fidel Castro among her personal heroes, and even she only liked Part One. In essence, critics who would steer the average viewer to this feature need to extract their tongues from Soderbergh's pucker.

Che: Part One, (sometimes called "The Argentine") isn't your average bio-pic, in that it avoids exposition like the plague. It instead favors allowing one to feel they're in the presence of Ernesto Che Guevara as he relates anecdotes from his time fighting Batista. This angle removes any tension from the narrative, though it's interesting that despite his strong charisma, this interpretation of Che presents a humble, considerate soul. Most of the vision and strategy is credited to Fidel Castro, curiously played by Demián Bichir as a sort of South American Marty Scorsese. While Che is presented to be a capable, resolute individual and unimpeachable idealist, he also comes across as an largely insignificant mascot for the cause. While I appreciate Benicio Del Toro's low-key performance, calling it Oscar-worthy strikes me as ridiculous, though not nearly so much as a forty-year-old man trying to pass himself off as mid-20s. Remember when actresses of old were laughed off the screen for such hubris? I fail to see the resemblance, is what I'm saying. Ultimately, Che: Part One was a tepid, passable work, of interest only to the subject's followers

Che: Part Two (sometimes called "Guerrilla") was where the real trouble began. Much has been made of its, shall we say "deliberate" pacing? I feel that taken on its own, that aspect is overstated. However, beginning as it does near the three hour point of a Roadshow Presentation, it was already behind the eight ball. Further, if there was any question in your mind about the true merits of Che the man after Part One, you're liable to be overwhelmed with doubt in the second half. The entire picture seems to revolve around showing Che's every miscalculation, misstep, and outright bungle. In this portion, Che appears as an incompetent fool unable to exploit his own mystique, nor the significant resources provided by Castro to accomplish the tiniest semblance of success. The action is understated, there are virtually no other characters of note, and the ending seems to last an eternity. It is a lengthy study in human error, offering little else, and I have to question whether the fault lies in the real-life Che or the director of his biography. Speaking of failure, Mr. Soderbergh, was your intention for the audience to root for Che's execution, just to get the thing over with already?

A final warning: While technically an English-language film, the majority of the dialogue is in Spanish and subtitled. Well, at least this isn't another one of those films where every European speaks with an English accent, while every Latino sounds like Cheech Marin...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Despero Custom Valentine Card

For those in search of that most elusive of Valentine's Day sentiments...



I'VE HAD MY EYES ON YOU!

For your love, I am DESPERO!

My bishop will take your queen, placing you in check!

Your people will succumb to my HYPNOTIC POWERS!

Your resistance will crumble at the sight of my THIRD EYE!


YOU WILL BE MINE!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

1976 NCG Merchandise DC Comics Super-Hero T-Shirts Ad



Batman, Superman or Shazam for $3.48! Why Wonder Woman ran a full dollar extra is a mystery to me. Licensing fees from the TV show? Subsidizing a less popular character (than Captain Marvel?!?)

...nurghophiles...

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