Thursday, March 26, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Take a Chance #1 and 2

I’m going to tell you right now. I am woefully behind on most of my reading. A new baby in the household means a lot of feeding, which makes it easy to sit in front of a TV or computer screen, but not so easy to read a book or comic. But I am working to catch up on some of my reading, and we will start out with an interesting combination of both.

A superhero book from a science fiction author featuring her own original character? Not something you see every day in comics, especially as an independent title. But that is just what Dabel Brothers Publishing gave us with C.E. Murphy’s Take a Chance.

C.E. Murphy is the writer of several paranormal romance novels. Like fellow DBP author Patricia Briggs, she is one of the fastest rising stars in fiction. Unlike Ms. Briggs, her creation for DBP is wholly original.

Take a Chance stars a lawyer turned masked vigilante. Chance is an unpowered hero in a world filled with numerous super-powers. A virus similar to that in Wild Cards killed a third of the population and left another third super-powered. But those super-heroes rarely have the people’s best interest at heart, instead using their abilities for profit and gain.

On the other hand, Chance is looking for vengeance. A respected lawyer by day, at night she puts on her mask and costume to fight crime. Her vigilante tendencies date back a few years to the death of her young son at a criminal’s hands. This causes her to enter situations way over her human head, all with parallels to Marv Wolfman’s Vigilante (Adrian Chase).

The universe (so far) is only poorly defined, but with no other supers really having proved important to the story, I cannot really judge it based on that. Chance’s life in and out of costume is well defined, especially as she embarks on her first relationship since the death of her son. The series is only half complete as I write this, so expect more about it in the coming days.

The $3.99 price tag is a little hefty, but Take a Chance comes Recommended.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Heroes 3.20: Cold Snap

Ha, Wednesday! I am almost back on time with the Heroes reports!

We are back from a week off and we open with a ridiculous long sequence of Danko washing up and shaving, only to have his alarm go off. Danko finds the Puppetman gift wrapped for him. What is Sylar’s motivation for helping Danko?

Noah and Angela meet one another again. Angela tells Noah to capture Rebel in an attempt to get on Danko’s good side. Impressively, Noah apparently gets back to Washington (that is where Building 26 is right, or does it just exist in a Negative Zone between all cities on the show) in the time it takes Angela to drive across town. Anyway, a prescient dream allows her to escape an attack from the government. Angela meets with friend Millie to get money and aid. Angela gets chased in to a hotel where Peter arrives just in time to save her.

Hiro and Ando think baby Matt Parkman is in fact a de-aged Matt Parkman. Of course, because Hiro is still an idiot. Baby Matt can apparently power devices just by touching them. Hiro and Ando have a poignant moment while talking about Hiro’s mother. Janice returns home just as they prepare to leave. Hiro and Ando try to convince Janice that they are here to help. When the government arrives to take the baby, Ando learns how to channel his power in to an attack form... and Hiro regains his powers to stop time with baby Matt in hand. But he can no longer teleport. Good way to give him abilities again without making them story-killers like they were before. Why didn’t he rescue Janice too while time was stopped? Either way, they set out to find the elder Matt Parkman.

Rebel once again causes problems for the Building, as he shuts off the heat lamps and unlocks Tracy’s door. She frees Parkman and Suresh, who take Daphne and make a run for it. But Tracy abandons the others and meets Noah in a dressing room. Noah wants Tracy to give up Rebel, and tries to make a deal with her. Rebel sets up the money and the trip for Tracy, and then Tracy is followed by Micah. Surprise (if you haven’t watched the show ever before)! Micah makes contact with Tracy, who reveals that he is Rebel. Tracy regrets setting him up, and Micah uses his abilities to attempt an escape. When cornered in a parking garage, Micah sets off the sprinklers while Tracy uses her powers to freeze the rain and everyone and everything in the room, including herself. Danko proceeds to shoot ice Tracy, leaving her shattered and on the floor. But even in pieces of ice, she still blinks. Yep, we got some Iceman powers in the works.

Matt takes Daphne to a hospital, where he convinces everyone that she is Gwen Stefani in order to hide out. But why doesn’t anyone recognize Matt? Daphne tries to break up with Matt and leave, and despite his best arguments, she runs away. Parkman chases down Daphne in Paris, but Parkman shows he can fly... so who is he really? But it all a dream inside Daphne’s head given to her by Matt as she dies at the hospital.

And Peter asks his mother what their next move will be...

All around, a good episode. We have upped the ante, moved forward hard, and started towards an endgame for the season. With Daphne and Tracy (maybe) dead, the heroes are teetering on the edge. And the total lack of Claire, and for the most part, Peter served to focus the show on the players that really need to become the future of the show. Be back here next week as Heroes goes “Into Asylum”.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Dollhouse 1.6: Man On the Street

Back from a long weekend off and here we are, folks. Episode 6, the game changer.

We get a few big hints as we open. After a brief opening that shows us even the man on the street knows a little about the Dollhouse, Ballard traces the case back to his least favorite agent, Tanaka, (the thorn in his side from the first episode) who worked her disappearance. And it seems the other agent knows more than he is letting on. Ballard tracks down his links to the Dollhouse to an internet millionaire named Joel Miner (strangely played by Patton Oswalt).

Someone’s had sex with Sierra. Sounds like an adult nursery rhyme, but it a reason for concern between Langdon, Dr. Claire Sanders, and Sierra’s handler Hearn. But what to do about it remains an area of contention.

Since I’m pretty sure that Ballard isn’s Alpha, I am sure that his neighbor has to be. Why not? Why wouldn&8217;t the Dollhouse, if they know about Ballard, plant agents all around him.

His illegal visit to Miner allows him to meet an unexpected guest: Hi, Echo! See, things are coming together!

Langdon escapes thanks to Miner’s security, but Miner is left with a very angry Ballard.

Hearn’s the real bastard, surprise, surprise. He was presented as not a good person, so of course, he was raping an active.

The Dollhouse sends Echo after Ballard, while Ballard gets more intimate with his neighbor. Ballard goes to get dinner afterward, and runs headlong in to raving mad Echo. We proceed in to one of the longest fight scenes I have ever seen on television. Seriously, I’ve seen Hong Kong action flicks with shorter fight sequences than this one.

Hey, this is bigger than we thought. Echo was reprogrammed specifically to give DeWitt that information. Apparently, DeWitt’s Dollhouse is only one of many different Dollhouses around the country. Ballard finds out Mellie is in trouble from Echo. But a message on Mellie’s answering machine, activates her programming. Yep, saw that one coming. Hearn dies and Mellie doesn’t even know how she did it.

The incident with Echo ends Ballard’s time with the FBI, but not without him having at least one ally in place.

The only major piece still left unaccounted for is Alpha. Spoilers online have already revealed his identity however for anyone who cares. I won’t ruin it for anybody who does not know.

The real question I am beginning to develop with the introduction of different types of programming on the show, and the revelation that there are as many Dollhouses as there are, is who else is an active. Can the world realistically have as many ubergenius neuro-programmers as Topher? Or is Topher just another active? And that just opens up the field for how many other cast members to be the same.

Needless to say, this episode finally brings a lot of the disparate plot points together. If the show runs like usual Joss, that means things will only continue to heat up as we build to the season finale. Let’s hope the show gets a chance to shine all the way through to it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Super-Powered Movie: Punisher War Zone

I stopped by my local Redbox and picked up the third Punisher film on Tuesday, and like many other reviewers come out of the film with mixed feelings.

Honestly, War Zone is probably the most accurate Punisher story ever. Microchip and Soup are both included, the action is set in a very seedy New York, and every villain must die. Frank Castle spends much of the movie broken up over his accidental killing of an undercover FBI agent, which allows a perfect tie-in to his origin without replaying it (or butchering it the way they did in the Thomas Jane Punisher ). Ray Stevenson ably brings Frank to life, even though the collar of his flak jacket costume looks goofy on his frame.

But the movie derails when it gets to the action sequences. Director Lexi Alexander seemed inspired by a hodgepodge of 300 and Saw in her design of ultra-violent battles that make no sense and lack any level of realism entirely. In the film’s opening battle, the gore oozes in amounts no human could produce as Frank forgoes the use of guns for nearly a minute in order to walk in to a Mob dinner and cut down the city’s boss. His tools are idiotic at best, and his foes are absolutely worthless in stopping an essentially unarmed man.

Jigsaw as portrayed by Dominic West is an inspired choice, and West plays the crazy crime boss with a perfect combination of malice and glee.

If you can look past the excessive nature of the violence, War Zone is a good solid movie that treads some familiar ground. If you are a Punisher or Marvel New York fan, you should definitely take a looksie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Dollhouse 1.5: True Believer

No new Heroes this week, don’t know what’s up with that, but at least I have Dollhouse to review.

The episode opens with some kind of peaceful compound folks who sing a lot and don’t actually speak. They only sing as they move around the city. One of them apparently needs saving, lovely.

Oh, our client is a senator. A senator really concerned about this compound, because it’s an election year. Not buying that any senator would want to get involved in a politically disastrous situation like thus....

Wow, someone actually calls that Echo’s situation is off the rails. Poor Dominic may be an ass, and pretty much guaranteed to die, but at least he calls it like it is.

We are making Echo blind so that she can have a camera in her head. Really, Joss? Really?

Does anyone else find Topher insanely annoying? I pray that when something seriously bad happens on this show, he dies a painful death. Doubt it, but it would be nice.

So is Millie, the girl across the hall, Alpha? I doubt it. I still think it’s Ballard.

Victor has a thing for Sierra. Really, is this necessary? Or is this just proof that this show has a couple too many cast members?

The law enforcement agent is of course crazy and obsessed with his foe. Obsessed so much that he rigged the entire situation so he could have the stand-off. And of course, the crazies in the cult try to burn themselves down. Way to avoid stereotypes, guys.

Where are the children in this cult? What kind of cult doesn’t have children to harm and abuse like the psychopathic predators and child molesters they are? Wouldn’t it be nice if the cultists weren’t a bunch of crazies?

Really, Dominic is going to try and off Echo now? Really? Really? How the hell does this guy get away with a clear flaunting of his own authority.

How is this ATF agent not getting called on his idiotic, anti-climactic behaviors? And why did he stonewall Ballard? If he was really angry at Landgon, why not give him up?

I fear Dollhouse is in danger of going seriously off-track. The Dollhouse seems to have far too many people with far too many agendas for anything as clearly effective as it supposedly is to have succeeded. DeWitt’s leadership seems questionable at best, and her agents have far too many agenda for this venture to ever succeed.

Epsilon 25 Notes

The first story arc of Epsilon comes to an end!

Hey, it’s Isis! A dangling plot threat has been building with the introduction of multiple characters with mythological-inspired names in Epsilon and this comes to a head this issue. Not going to say much more, as the Avatars have a story of their own in development.

Isis and Nephthys’ battle played out a little quicker than I originally planned, but I think it’s effective. Despite her defeat, Nephthys’ influence on this series is far from over. We will learn far more of her plans when the series makes it return.

Pathway is only the first of Nephthys’ minions to fall in with our heroes. Three more of her Acolytes will find their way on to the team, but I will let it be a surprise as to who.

When I originally plotted out the twenty-five chapter structure of the Epsilon story, I planned for this to be the final issue. As can be seen by the ending with Mindset, I have more chapters of Epsilon planned. I plan on giving the book a couple month hiatus, but expect it back around mid-summer.

And when it does return, prepare for the arrival of El Oso Grande!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Not Quite Super-Powered Fiction: State of Fear

I would never claim that Michael Crichton’s final novel State of Fear in anyway featured something super-heroic in its themes. Its characters are very human, although a few are overly cipherish, and its threats at least have a basis in world world science. But it is in the choice of the book’s villains that I feel it ranks a nod from this blog.

NERF is an environmental non-profit funded by the multi-millions giving to them by dozens of well-meaning if less than knowledgeable financiers, celebrities, and politicians. The people behind the group are actual extremists, obsessed with their own need to make sure their prophecies are self-fulfilling. So they set about to make the environmental disasters they warned about for years and years come true.

Is that not a great super-villain style organization? I mean seriously, if AIM or Hydra or the HIVE thought up this, they could have done some major damage. I mean really, why didn’t Ra’s Al Ghul think of that?

A great concept with a great story designed to actually make you think. Everyone should give it a read.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why, Superman, why?

This should be the last quicky post for a few days as I should have reviews of Dollhouse, Heroes, and a comic or two up in the next couple days. In the mean time, try to figure out what has happened to Superman...

fail owned pwned pictures
Courtesy: Failblog

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Damn the Man! Watchmen style

I honestly don’t know if this is an official video or just a couple of Watch-fans with a lot of desire to make an eighties music video. Whatever the case...

Make sure you watch the entire track for some wicked breakdancing moves. Link courtesy Topless Robot.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Heroes 3.19: Shades of Gray

Petrelli tries to talk down Parkman, only to learn that Danko is more involved than ever before. Danko tries to activate the bomb, but the access is blocked (by Rebel, we will assume). Nathan helps Parkman use his powers to escape, then decks him. Can this idiot make up his mind where he wants his own initiative to go? In the aftermath, Nathan and Danko become clearly antagonistic. Nathan convinces Tracy to help him throw Danko off the trail of his own powers.

Gabriel Gray meets his father and threatens his life, only to learn he is already dying of cancer. Sylar and dad discuss the morality of the kill. We get a taxidermy lesson in the process. Sylar shows dear old dad his healing powers. Dad doesn’t take it quite the way Sylar expected. But dad is just playing dumb, and knocks Sylar for a loop. Sylar breaks free, and his dad begs him to give his power up. Failing that, dad begs for a quick death. Sylar leaves him to die slowly of his cancer.

Noah gives Danko mis-information... that Angela is the flyer that saved Peter. Danko pays a visit to Angela at dinner. Angela brings up Danko’s own dark past in answer to his questions. Nathan returns with Danko’s pink slip. Nathan promptly names Noah his replacement. Danko attacks Nathan, pushes him out a window, and Nathan flies away.

Eric Doyle the Puppetman begs Claire for help, but she reacts with only fear. He leaves. Claire decides to try for Alex’s old job at the comic shop, to use it as a cover while she helps the people sent to her by Rebel. Rebel sends her another message, that the agents have cornered Doyle. Claire reluctantly goes to his aid. Claire gives Doyle a new identity as Jason something-or-another, all set up by Rebel. In the aftermath (and the aftermath of the Nathan incident), Rebel sends Claire a message that she has lost her free pass. But when the agents arrive, they find her gone... rescued by Nathan...

Hiro and Ando reach California to save Matt Parkman, only to learn it is a baby. Yeah, Matt’s ex is finally back! Wondered when we would get to that...

Danko returns home to find Sylar’s stuffed rabbit in his home as Mohinder oddly returns with a voice-over. Sigh, I thought we might have been done with those. Sylar lies in wait to attack as the show ends.

Balance shift with this episode. It looks like Noah may end up as the head of the whole Building 26 crew, with Danko and Nathan both on the outs. Whatever the case, this storyline feels like it cannot have that much more play to it. Will we get volume five yet this season, or do they actually have a plan to stretch this storyline another six episodes? The Rebel bit is getting old as well. Give us Micah and/or Hana already. Most people have figured this out by now I would think. And finally, this show is in desperate need of some new blood. A few deaths or disappearances coupled with a new character or two (it would be nice to see Echo incorporated in to the show) would really help the show out. And finally, what the fuck happened to Molly? That kid seriously disappeared off the face of the earth.

Back next week with “A Clear and Present Danger”. Will Harrison Ford guest-star?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Watchmen: It Could Have Been Worse

Thanks to Harry Partridge for this hilarious video:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Dollhouse 1.4: Gray Hour

I am going to drop large amounts of the plot synopsis this week, and instead try to focus on the show as an overall. So consider this a relatively spoiler free zone.

We open the show with Echo serving as a midwife. No reason why, but we will assume it has a purpose. We get in to why Echo, Victor, and Sierra spend so much time together. We also learn that DeWitt has a superior.

More sexy clothes for Echo. I would complain about the blatant attempts at sexualizing the character. But I am a man, and I find Ms. Dushku very, very hot. I mean look at the ad banner I picked out for the show. Shameful of me, but oh so true.

Our plot revolves around a break-in in to a high security building during what is called a gray hour. I am a little confused by this new personality as she apparently feels that two inch heels are “comfy shoes”. We are apparently out to steal previously stolen art. But it is another setup, and somehow Echo’s brain pattern is wiped by a phone message. Which of course brings in Sierra. They implant Sierra with the same programming and set her out to free the others. Sierra tries to help them escape, but Echo can’t really keep up. We then go in to a rather generic standoff/rescue scenario with Langdon.

Victor and the injured Ballard have a less than important heart-to-heart. And theories about Alpha again emerge in the aftermath of Echo’s wipe. And again Echo seems to be having flashbacks of previous events.

Not much happened this week. It’s always a danger of story’s with tight meta-plots, but for a show in edgy water like Dollhouse, we need a little more every week than what Joss and company seem to be giving us. At the current rate, I can’t help but feel their endangering their chances of ever getting to the end of this saga.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Super Powered Movie(!): Watchmen

Welcome to my very first super-powered movie review! I“ve got a healthy number to cover although I often feel they are looked at by far more individuals than other forms of super-powered fiction. I may pull out some obscurities now and then though, and I will probably start reviewing newer films as I see them. If you really need a lot more super-powered movie reviews, I strongly suggest you check out fellow blogger Matthew Killorin’s Capes On Film for all your super-powered movie needs! On to the review!

I am not going to give a plot synopsis as I so often do for my television reviews, as I am going to assume just about everyone knows how Watchmen works. If you don’t you should check out the graphic novel. Instead, I am going to focus on what I find to be the strengths and weaknesses of the new film.

The Pluses:
Casting director Kristy Carlson did an absolutely stunning job putting together the main players in this film. Jackie Earle Haley and Patrick Wilson are spot on as Rorschach and Nite-Owl, while Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, and Jeffery Dean Morgan all fill their roles well. Someone stronger than Matthew Goode could have been found for Adrian Veidt, but he does all right with the character. I still wanted Dr. Manhattan to do a couple MasterCard ads, but I digress.

The plot sticks rather tightly to the original story with the obvious digression of the denouement. But even that makes sense in the framework of the revised story, so I can’t really complain. Though the giant squid would have been nice.

The effects also were beautifully done. Unlike so many superhero films, I never once looked at this film and went “Wow, what an obvious effect.” Every bit of Manhattan’s powers fit together perfectly with everything going on around him.

The Minuses:
The caricatures were both off-putting and over the top. The presence even in cameo of numerous luminaries of the past and present was utterly unnecessary. And Richard Nixon's prosthetic nose made him look like a damn cartoon character. I hate hate HATE Hollywood’s need to constantly belittle Nixon with this kind of stupid crap. It not only hurts the work they do it in, but also turns a genius manipulator in to something he was not. It would be like casting Lassie as Dr. Doom. Besides Nixon, Lee Iacocca’s random appearance to get gunned down was both unnecessary and horribly insulting to the man himself.

The violence. Yes, Watchmen was a violent comic book. I get that. But the point of the violence was to make sure we did not whitewash actual violence in the name of a good comic book. It needed to be on panel to make sure we could understand the brutality of vigilante behavior in the real world. The movie gives us over the top ultraviolence, the kind of thing A Clockwork Orange warned us about. The slow-down and speed-up that worked well in 300 just feels like a joke in this film, maybe even a kick in the nuts to that unnamed writer guy that did the graphic novel.

The f-bombs. Hey, writer guys, you know what? None of them in Watchmen. At all. Guess we needed to spice up the movie a bit more, eh?

The lack of the street. An important aspect of the original comic was the lives of a few citizens that meet irregularly on or around a newspaper stand in New York. They have been replaced with a pointless cameo about a third of the way in to the film and their obvious presence near the end. I know a lot of folks will throw out that those segments were only about the Black Freighter or something like that, but that wasn’t really their purpose. Their purpose was to put a human toll on the destruction that comes with the film. It is a massive fail on the part of all of the filmmakers for not realizing that upfront.

Veidt’s environmental message. Uh, what. Nuclear power is as bad as fossil fuels, that’s why I am replicating my nuclear-powered friend’s abilities to form a new energy source. Riiiight. Just once can Hollywood let something not be green, especially when it has no purpose in this film!

All in all, Watchmen isn’t a bad film. It is a decent R-rated action flick with themes that stretch its britches and the talent of the director involved. But it fails pretty much across the board to capture the raw, straight to the point narrative and edge of its source material. In doing so, much like V for Vendetta before it, it comes off as perfect form with a decided lack of substance. Coming in to the film, it was exactly what I feared but hoped Hollywood could move past. They failed me all the same.

I will give Watchmen a mild recommendation. It is by no means a bad adaptation (Hollywood has produced many, many, many worse.) But I think anyone who truly appreciates the graphic novel will feel it is a little empty inside. As a writer, I feel that unnamed author’s pain and understand his reasoning in pulling his name from the film. Now I will just pray for a DVD edition without all the idiot camera flourishes and less Nixon. It still wouldn’t make this film perfect, but at least I would know the filmmakers were trying.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Super Powered TV: Heroes 3-18: Exposed

Parkman and Peter argue about their current strategy. They get a convenient message from Rebel to put them on the right track. He also warns them to run and get out before the government agents arrive. Peter takes Parkman’s powers and they work together to slip past everybody in the government’s main base. Meanwhile, someone is hacking in to the system. Danko runs in to the hall, only to be stopped by his own mind-controlled soldiers. Rebel opens a video archive for them while inside the facility. Rebel shuts down the facility (including a fire alarm that disrupts their abilities... thereby giving Parkman a new weakness!)

Sylar and Luke are still on the trail to Sylar’s father. They stop at a broken down business called Big Jim’s. Sylar begins to have a flashback to 1980 when he walks inside the bar. He loses a toy car in the mantle work, and finds it inside. Sylar watches his father cut open a young woman, his mother, as he abandons him as a child. Yup, same powers. Sylar threatens Luke and slams him against the wall. But again, Sylar keeps Luke alive.

Nathan meets with Angela, who swears that she is not Rebel. Angela continues to mock her own son’s folly in his current actions.

Danko continues to be a loose cannon of sorts, and Nathan now has trouble reigning him in. Danko refuses to deal with Peter’s demands and instead makes plans to attack. Noah warns Peter mentally, but he takes a gunshot anyway. Peter falls, only to be caught by Nathan before he falls to his death. At mom’s penthouse, Nathan tries to convince Peter to give up. Instead, Peter steals Nathan’s power and flies away. Angela then whispers something in to Nathan’s ear. Oooh, mysterious!

Claire tries to send Alex to Albuquerque, but Alex doesn’t want to go. Unfortunately, Mom and Mr. Muggles stumble upon her hidden hero. Claire finds herself backed in to a corner and tells Mom about Alex’s powers. Mom points out that Claire is under surveillance. Alex and Claire have a romantic moment before Alex has to hide. Mom and Lyle distract the goons while Claire and Alex escape out the back door. They hide in a pool, where Alex gives Claire oxygen with an overly passionate kiss. Claire and mom have a brief heart to heart, but when Claire goes downstairs she walks face to face with the Puppet Man. Wasn’t he dead? Is Sylar just getting lazy now?

Peter releases the video to the public as Danko watches on in anger. Danko, in turn, straps a pile of explosives on to Parkman’s chest, drugs him, and drops him in front of the White House... just as Parkman’s visions showed him.

A lot happened this episode, but it makes me a little sad after complimenting the focus of the last few weeks to see the hodge-podge of this week. Rebel becomes an even bigger player this week. The only question is whether or not the mystery person is Micah... or Micah and Hana Gitelman. And so help me if they kill Parkman... so help me!

On to next week, where I should be back closer to on schedule. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Living Legends 14 Notes

Welcome to Riccapoor! The island nation is going to pay a big part in the next few chapters as the battle with the first of our big bads kicks in to high gear!

Luna St. Claire makes her return this month. She remains as cryptic as ever, and I like her that way, but as we close on the continued reasons why the Legends are being hunted, we will learn more and more about her.

Isobel meets Lash, the only man she ever loved. Too bad he doesn’t feel quite the same way. More next month.

The return of another big name from the Golden Age, one who I have been planning literally for months. I strongly considered Daredevil as one of the original heroes of the piece, but ultimately replaced him do to the issue of his name. But I knew that I would have to find away to rename him and bring him back in to the fore-front eventually. He is just far too amazing a character to leave dormant. AC Comics turned him in to Reddevil, Alter Ego turned him in to Double Dare, but he is probably most recognizable to modern comic readers as Dynamite Comics’ Death-Defying ’Devil. And while I appreciate the take Alex Ross and Joe Casey have taken with the character, I think they lose a lot of what originally made Daredevil cool. I want to channel his golden age near-insanity while still updating him for a modern audience. (Erik Larsen’s upcoming use of the character, again!, may have the same feel though. He seems to have a real eye for the golden age. But I digress...)

So... meet the Coward! Expect big things from him in upcoming chapters of Living Legends.

As always, check out every chapter of the story at MHP!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Dollhouse 1.3: Stage Fright

We open with a pop concert where a backup dancer suddenly finds herself on fire. Bodyguards rush the singer offstage.

Sierra seems to come to the fore-front as they bump in to each other.

Victor tries to break in to Ballard’s house, but ends up meeting the neighbor across the hall (from last week).

Ms. DeWitt meets with the singer Raina Russell’s manager, who admits that the attack was pre-meditated, maybe by a stalker. So Echo becomes a back-up singer/dancer named Jordan in order to become Raina’s secret bodyguard.

Dr. Saunders and Topher argue over Echo’s new role, as Saunders has apparently recommended Echo only for low risk missions, but Sierra apparently will be coming along for the ride too.

Gratuitous, half-naked Dushku alert! Jordan ends up getting a ride with Raina, convenient for back-up singer programmed for defense.

Ballard and Victor have a heart to heart about whether or not the Dollhouse exists... a heart to heart that strengthens my sneaking suspicions that one of these two men may also be Alpha. Just throwing that out there.

But it is apparently not Victor... as we learn that he is in fact another doll. A doll designed to throw Ballard off the trail.

Sierra is a plant backstage as her #1 fan contestant, while someone is in the rafters ready to attack Raina. Stalker/killer guy is apparently at the after party as is Audra/Sierra.

Victor returns to give Ballard another tip, and Ballard goes after what is most likely a trap in a dingy basement. He fights off a pair of Russian mobsters only to be shot by another. But he fights his way out quite ably. (Remember he is an MMA fighter as well as an FBI agent.)

In a conversation backstage, Echo/Jordan learns that Rayna is suicidal. she wants the killer fan to kill her. She wants to be “free”

Audra joins Rayna on stage as Jordan warns Biz and security that the assassin is here. Jordan runs on to the stage when the security guard refuses to stop the show. She uses the spotlight to shine on the killer, but he gets off shots anyway.

Meanwhile, Ballard flatlines in the ambulance...

Rayna yells at Jordan backstage, and Rayna’s suicidal fantasies continue. She goes on about how she is not a real person, everyone’s fantasy... how convenient when said to a doll. (Little heavy handed, Mr. Whedon.)

Audra goes backstage and gets picked up by the psycho fan. Psycho sends Rayna a video threatening Audra. Biz realizes that Rayna set up the entire assassination. Crazy man makes Audra sing Rayna’s music.

Jordan confronts Rayna backstage. But Rayna refuses to help now, of course. Go, crazy lady, go! But Jordan goes a little crazy. She knocks Rayna out and sets up a meet between herself and the crazed fan in order to free Audra.

Topher and Lawrence argue about whether or not Echo is off task. It seems Echo’s programming makes her want to fulfill Rayna’s wishes, even if its suicide. But the situation makes Rayna realize she doesn’t want to die. Echo drops Rayna from the rafters, but only a few feet as she is tied to a cord. Echo beats down the fan and goes to retrieve Rayna from her tangle.

DeWitt and Lawrence argue over whether or not Echo was on task. But DeWitt sees the bigger picture: that Echo is able to think on her feet far better than other agents, a realization Boyd also notes. Dr. Saunders notes in turn that her ability might not be quite such a good thing.

Ballard receives a visit from his neighbor across the hall. And the show ends with a strange look between Sierra and Echo, answered by a shake of the head from Echo... a shake like she doesn’t want to draw the attention of Sierra’s handler.

So yeah, we got a new doll this episode. We have Ballard shot and in the hospital, and the first mention of something called “The Attic”. Oh, and I am calling it now: Alpha has two possible identities on this series: either Boyd or Ballard. Maybe I am horribly off base here, but let’s just wait and see.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meet... the American Crusader!

Tales of the Living Legends brings you its second big feature as the world will once again experience the origin of ... the American Crusader! Check it out with a new page updating every Monday through Thursday!

I am really enjoying the reformatting of this one. Beautiful golden age art, a definite step-up from the art on The Dart! Hey, I rhyme!

I am still unsure of the original credits on this story as the original story is unmarked! Does anyone have creator credits for the adventures of Doctor Archibald Masters?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Super Powered TV: Heroes 3-17: Cold War

This week we get a little background on the plot to drug Noah and we learn that the main purpose is to weaken his will and allow Parkman to read his mind.

In black and white, five weeks ago time, Angela and Noah discuss the shut down of Primatech. It seems that Angela simply has given up the need for the company. Four weeks ago, Noah is uncomfortable as a homebody. Nathan pays him a visit at his house & offers him a place in the government project in exchange for Claire’s freedom. Three weeks ago, Noah visits Building 26 for the first time and learns the new plan is to only capture and contain, not to use the powers on their team. He also learns that he is not the lead man; Danko is his new superior. Noah then tries to recruit Mohinder as an ally. One week ago, Noah pays a visit to Danko at home (complete with some terrible Dell product placement). Not much of a meeting, but it does show a certain address...

Danko gets worried that Noah has been compromised... as well as questioning Nathan’s loyalty to the project.

Peter, Suresh, and Parkman are at each other’s throats over the interrogation. Peter goes to check out the storage unit Parkman saw in Noah’s mind. Peter finds the arms locker, but is unaware that he is on surveillance at the government facility (which is apparently located near Costa Verde oddly enough). Peter hits his would-be attackers with a flash-bang grenade and flies for it. Meanwhile, Suresh and Parkman get in to each other’s face over Suresh working with Noah. Noah uses the distraction to escape. But Peter returns in time to stop him. With address in hand, Peter makes the decision to go after Danko. Danko returns home to find a gun pointed at his head. Nathan arrives to try and stop Peter. He tells Peter that Suresh and Parkman are in trouble, and Peter runs to their rescue. Parkman prepares to kill Noah, but Noah swears that Daphne is still alive and captured. He enters Noah’s mind to confirm the truth. The soldiers bring Suresh down outside as the hunt for the fugitives’ hotel room continues. They bring Parkman down and drug him. But they are hit by another flash bang... and Peter flies away with Parkman.

Suresh is secured inside Building 26 where Nathan informs him of the plans to confine and eliminate powers. But Nathan uses the threat of wholesale murder to try to convince Mohinder of working for them in the elimination of powers.

Noah and Danko agree that they must solidify the increased attack on the heroes. Noah then sits down with Angela, where we learn that he is the double agent he seemed to be on chapter one of Fugitives... and that Angela is a bigger player than we think.

We end with Parkman’s newest paintings... him strapped with explosives and the White House in flames...

I am vastly enjoying this season’s ability to focus on one aspect of the story at a time. It is refreshing to see one major and one minor story being the focus rather than the five or six threads of previous seasons. It helps the over-all focus and tension that this season is building towards. On to this week’s episode!

I Always Assumed...

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amazing strength.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Super Powered TV: Heroes 3-16: Building 26

The government agents discuss the hunt for their targets. Nathan meets Abby Collins with homeland security, his new overseer for his little project. Abby is of course a total skeptic, disbelieving everything to do with the project. Nathan brings Abby before Tracy, stranded in front of a heat lamp. The two of them of course know each other. Abby stomps off, angry about human rights violations. Tracy breaks her chains and attempts escape. She freezes and shatters an agent when surrounded and gives Abby a first hand look at powers in action, just before she is brought down. Nathan confronts Danko about Tracy’s sudden escape. Danko confirms that he did so, but of course nothing will be done about it. Why the hell does the government always have an absolute sociopath in charge of missions like this? Just once, maybe once, could Hollywood give us a capable soldier that wasn’t borderline insane? Thank God for The Unit, but I digress.

Sylar and Luke Campbell go cross country in search of Sylar’s dad. But Sylar catches Luke in his lies. Luke and Sylar have a heart to heart about dad’s red wagon. At a diner, Luke plays with his powers and draws Sylar’s wrath. But their heart to heart leads to Luke giving Sylar the address. The agents close on them. Luke distracts them and Sylar uses his powers to cause enough havoc to escape. Sylar abandons Luke to be captured by agents. But Sylar returns to the diner, cuts down the soldiers, and rescues Luke. But he claims it’s only for a box. And nobody believes it.

Hiro and Ando have already arrived in India with no question as to how a fugitive and his friend can make it out of the country. Ando meets a local named Anna Pura who is the third figure in Parkman's drawing. Anna cancels her marriage as she sees Ando as a sign. We learn that she is a restauranteur and her fiancee Deepak is a local crime boss. Hiro and Ando have a really stupid argument about who gets to be the hero, until Deepak arrives. Deepak knocks out and kidnaps Ando. Anna agrees to the wedding in order to rescue Ando, but Hiro stops the wedding. Hiro punches out Deepak and threatens the groom with a knife. Hiro realizes the drawing has come true and celebrates. In the aftermath, Anna realizes why Hiro and Ando have such familiar names. She has a fax with their names on it: a fax from Rebel.

We open with Claire at breakfast with the family, only to have another message from the mysterious Rebel. This leads to an argument between Claire and Noah about her future. Claire decides on a mission instead. She pays a visit to Alex and tries to convince him he is in danger. He, of course, works in a comic shop and thinks she is playing a prank on him. So she chops her hands open to show her power. Only for dad to come inside the shop. Alex makes a run for it. (What's with all the 90's Spider-Man issues on display in this shop. Do we have clones on the way or something?) Alex is a water-breather, as we learn in a heart to heart in his jeep. Alex leaves, ready to go underground. Noah confronts Claire again about her actions. After returning home, Claire tells her mom the truth about her father’s actions with the government initiative. Mom proceeds to kick Noah out of the house, and he agrees. After a heart to heart between Claire and dad, Alex comes out of Claire’s closet. Noah goes for a drink at the local bar. He promptly passes out and is picked up by Parkman, Peter, and Suresh as the episode ends...

A little more predictable this week, but still an able episode. I just have to silently voice my hope that Danko will die sooner or later. It is depressing to watch an otherwise solid season of this show sullied by an obvious caricature. Hopefully, Rebel will not remain a cipher for too much longer either. Sometimes Heroes pushes its mystery elements a step too far. I don’t want to see that make that mistake again.

If all goes well, I will be back tomorrow with episode 17 and the next day with 18, and the Heroes guide will be back on track.