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Ack, what a heavy week, but full of the good:

DC:
Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 – The first of DC’s titles that I’ll be picking up with a co-feature, which looks like its going to be miscellaneous-Gotham-happenings-plus-Manhunter-backup, is off to a solid start, in the front half of the book, we see the straight-for-the-moment Harley Quinn(in a great casual outfit) at the center of a minor scuffle before Commisioner Gordon clears things up, and the new Dynamic Duo give her some words of advice. Then its on to the co-feature, which flashes back and forth just about every other page as Kate transitions to the new role. Setup’s quite nice, the ever-noble attempt to be a DA on the straight and narrow in dirty, dirty Gotham while investigating the murder of the previous DA. Lots of stuff packed into its 10 pages, and well worth the extra dollar to keep her tales going.

Final Crisis Aftermath Dance #2 – Okay, first, how the hell did I not catch Stanley “Artgerm” Lau on the covers for this? That’s completely awesome. As to the story within? Super Young Team continues to be pimped as the image of Japan to keep everyone’s eyes off of whatever horrible post-Crisis state Japan is in, Most Excellent Superbat continues to be most excellent, and Shiny Happy Aquazon sells out. Another solid issue, and I like the angle of the book, unfortunately, there isn’t really much more say about it.

Green Arrow Black Canary #21 – What’s this, an issue with Black Canary front and center? Quite the pleasant turn for me, and perhaps something of a lead-in to the book splitting into the Feature/Co-Feature format in the nearish future (presumably not before this arc finishes). Unless the run’s supposed to have covered a decent chunk of time, that seems like a mighty quick turnaround from traumatic injury to technological supervillain, but whatever, its a clever gimmick that he’s got and this has probably been my favorite arc of the series’ run so far (help by being about, y’know, the title characters).

Outsiders Vol 4 #19 – I’m still undecided on continuing the book, having started picking it up for Cassandra/R.I.P., but now that it seems clear she’s not going to be a part of it, Alfred is the main thing keeping me with it for now. Its a curious cast, but not one I can completely get behind, so its looking more and more likely that it’ll be slipping by the wayside soon.

Power Girl Vol 2 #2 – Outside of perhaps Booster Gold (which I’ve not been keeping up with) and Secret Six, this is easily one of most amusing books DC has going at the moment, and we’re only two issues in! Lots of Power Girl beating up the giant white gorilla, as the Ultrahumanite tries to make good on his plan to put his perfect brain in her perfect body (made rather difficult with her Kryptonian invulnerability). We also get a look into his past, where its revealed that after overcoming the terminal illness that is his ever growing brain, he made sweet, bloody, monkey love to his assistant post-OP.

Marvel:
Cable Vol 2 #15 – The X-Force / Cable crossover is almost at its conclusion, as Stryfe continues to go on about how much better he is, Apocalypse gets back into form, and the bulk of the X-Force squad (plus Deadpool) come across the wholly unexpected appearance of NYX’s Kiden Nixon. Next X-Force sees the conclusion as our team is out of time, Apocalypse is angry, and Hope is in some serious trouble. The crossover’s been pretty fun, and my only real complaint is that I still don’t like the look of Ariel Olivetti’s artwork, just rubs me the wrong way for some reason.

Invincible Iron Man #14 – Heigh ho, heigh ho, its off to Russia we go. Tony’s slow process of wiping his brain continues as makes his way from base to base, Pepper gets herself a codename and finally decides to track Tony down, and Maria, well, Maria seems to be going a bit off the deep end, as she makes attempts to get in touch with Natasha Romanov, the original Black Widow. Highlight? Russia telling Osborn to go and fuck off. A great read, but the inconsistent art (which I’m mostly attributing to the coloring) continues to gnaw at my eyes, argh.

Marvel Zombies 4 #3 – In true zombie fashion, things quickly continue to go from bad to worse. The zombie virus has become a literal storm of body parts, raining blood and gore as it goes, and then sucking it all back up again to continue on its way as it seems to follow Zombie Deadpool and his silent buddy, yummy. Morbius is having an internal meltdown over this, leaving the rest of the team, and Hood, to try figuring out how to get themselves out of this before A.R.M.O.R. decides to nuke the island from orbit. Unfortunately things just got a bit more complicated, Werewolf-by-Night’s just gotten the hunger (go figure), causing Jennifer Kale to make a rather poor decision… On to the finale (and please let there be something other than that horrid Greg Land cover!).

War Machine Vol 2 #7 – Augh, what’s happening with the art! All over the place thanks to the huuuuge number of people on the book, some mandate to make sure it ships on time for some reason(aside from it being a nice thing to do and all that)? War Machine continues his hunt for whoever’s playing with the Ultimo virus, only to find the giant head of Ultimo himself, and really, you can’t go wrong with a fight against a giant robot head. American Eagle shows up again (making Osborn giggle like a little girl over their Thunderbolts tussle), and it seems that War Machine‘s squad of helpers may be getting armors of their own, interesting. Beyond that though, not much to write home about.

Wonderful Wizard Of Oz #7 – The wonderful adapting continues, as Oz grants Dorothy’s companions their heart’s desires (or their heart itself, in one case), while pondering how to get her home (something which the flying monkies are unable to assist with, alas). Finally the balloon is hit upon, but a wayward Toto foils that plan, as they watch Oz disappear forever over the horizon. But all hope is not lost, for its time to go see Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. Though the journey is long and perilous, we at last reach her land’s mighty walls… and have to wait for next time, argh. Its an absolutely delightful and gorgeous book, full of whimsy, and I’m seriously considering double dipping to pick it up in its collected fashion.

Other:
Executive Assistant Iris #1 – Shameless, I know, but I’m a sucker for tough women and new Aspen books. It’s certainly been the subject of mockery around the internet, but the promise of her not staying in that role very long, combined with the idea that there’s be no small amount of dust ups was enough to get me to pick up the issue. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really done anything to redeem itself in the first full issue, and took a step backwards by ending the issue with her showing us just how much of a ‘perfect servant’ she is for her boss, breaking off a date with a board member that he OK’d to have her come back and be his sex toy, which pretty much makes this an entirely misogynistic work so far. That pretty much assured it getting dropped, and they’d have to come up with something epic in having her break from this lifestyle to make it worth even the slightest bit of further attention.

Groom Lake #3 – The scifi hijinks continue as our little drunken Grey pilots his UFO out of the Groom Lake facility with cohorts in tow, evade capture by nonexistant military super aircraft, and make with the sightseeing before deciding that maybe they better do something about the angry spooky secret agents hunting them down. And then its Klaatu, Barada, Niktu time as the giant alien robot gets loose and calls home. Bring on the angry alien invasion!

Incognito #4 – Brubaker’s superpowered pulp villainy continues, as Zack Overkill finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, having been discovered letting his frustations out both by his former villainous cohorts and the ‘good guys’ who, after this issue, aren’t nearly so cut and dried good as the would seem. A great read and highly recommended, highly curious to see what other twists are in store as life continues to get worse for the poor man.

Phonogram 2 Singles Club #3 – I’ll get around to reading this eventually, just like the first two issues, I swear… Actually, the nature of the book leads me to think that I’m going to just hold off and read it in one go once its complete.

Red Mass For Mars #3Finally! After a 10 month delay, Hickman’s superhero tale sees the light of day once more. It certainly isn’t wasting any time either, as we cover events in 4-5 different time periods showing the sad life of Mars. Given how brutally fast he moved through things here, I can only imagine the remaining issue will deal with his death? Anyhow, go, buy, read. Hickman earns every penny, always. Let’s just hope we don’t have as long a wait on the finale.

So, the newest build of Opera just hit this morning and brought with it the capability of turning it (and your computer) into a little web server, allowing you to share photos, chat, post notes, stream music, share files, and host an HTML site (sorry PHP, etc), all with a dead simple configuration process that is little more than a quick Opera account sign-up (totally free), turning it on and pointing it at the folder of your choice. No FTP, no figuring out hosting packages or capabilities, just turn it on and go. It just works. I had the dumping grounds for my photos (the good, the bad, and the ugly) online in under a minute, and others were able to get at it with zero delay. And this is just to start, the framework is something extensible, so we’re going to see even more capabilities popping up in the future.

This came too late in my day to be able to fully think through all the implications/possibilities, but it immediately feels like a game changer (even if MS/Mozilla end up dominating with their own implementation of it). Sure, I recognize there’s limits to it, but this is still a very slick little piece of work that I’m eager to put to the test- to that end, feel free to hammer the photos, music, and other bits for at least the next 8 hours.

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After a midday ‘hacking’ of weirdal.com, brilliantly designed to mirror the look of craigslist (which unfortunately seems to have gone away), the parody master has just posted a new video homaging The Doors for the track Craigslist:

Brilliant lyrics, brilliant videos, there’s a reason he’s the only Western musician I bother to follow.

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Wow, what a difference a switch in mediums can make, and not for the better- at least so far. While the important personality bits are there(with some tweaking), the characters, and more specifically the girls, all seem to have gotten a few years younger, and someone also decided that they all needed to be preforming in their best chipmunk voices. The other big sticking point right now is the humor, as it is taking a hugely different course from the absurdist glory of the manga. When they attempt to mimic it, it either falls flat, or they change the best bits, but that’s not the worst of it. No, that honor is reserved for their decision to turn most of the ‘funny’ moments into big-head shouting matches. I normally love the SD, but the way its being done here, from style to writing, to chipmunk voices, just completely fails for me.

There’s some variation to the plot as well, but the core of it, and more importantly, the core idea of the show, are intact (so far), because the overall message is a very good one and definitely worth the praise the series has received. I admit to being a bit curious as to which adheres more closely to its visual novel origins, but despite a strong desire for it to be the manga, I have a feeling that its probably the anime.

Quite a delay since the last one, and I had intended to catch up on that tonight, but unfortunately I can’t seem to stand to listen to those voices for more than a disc at a time, so this will be getting a slower treatment. Perhaps tomorrow night I’ll bring in another show to power through that won’t make my ears bleed.

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DC:
Batman #687: Kicking off Dick Grayson’s tenure on the main Bat-book, we get a proper bit of closure to both Final Crisis and Battle for the Cowl. Acknowledgement of the larger world they inhabit, coming to terms with what needs to be, and, I suppose, a bit of the needed why Batman? I liked the interplay here between Dick and Alfred, it looks like they’ll have some good banter as things go on (though I do hope Alfred gets to continue with the dry humor as well). A nice reasoning for the switch to the penthouse lair shown in last week’s Batman & Robin premiere, though I wonder if any of the trophies will be coming with. And finally, we setup a showdown with Scarecrow, who I imagine will go down quickly next next issue.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #2: Man, it’s been a while since I had a nice bit of head-fuckery like this. Throughout the issue, ‘reality’ continues to change, and the rules along with them, and its not making things any easier for Tresser. Can’t say much more than that though, as the telling doesn’t do the reading justice, and potentially spoils things. I’ve a couple ideas of where it might go from here though, based on some of the dialogue in the issue, but it could just as easily become something other than what I’m thinking, and that’s pretty exciting to me.

Red Robin #1: Okay, I lied, looks like I may end up following this one too. While I’m not thrilled by the art, or the actual execution of Tim deciding that Bruce must be alive, there was still plenty of interesting stuff in there. The biggie for me is that unlike Dick, who became independent on his own, Tim’s essentially being pushed to the side here, which, on top of all the other shit thrown his way the last few years- the death of two fathers, his girlfriend (who got better), and some number of Titans– might prove to be the last straw. The word grimdark gets floated around alot regarding the direction a lot of comics went with their characters, but after all he’s gone through, it actually feels right to take Tim in that direction, at least for a while. The other thing that stood out for me was the acknowledgement of his adoption and that his name’s Tim Wayne now, something that I hadn’t really seen acknowledged anywhere (I’ve rather fallen behind with Teen Titans). Unfortunately the issue doesn’t directly get to the detective side of things that they’re talking about playing up, but it was already a somewhat packed issue, so wait and see on that part for now.

Marvel: nada

Other:
Anna Mercury 2: Ultraspacial Dreadnaught Vanaheim #1: Man, the awesome starts right there in the title, doesn’t it? Continuing with the excellently pulpy sci-fi found in the first series, we find another of the splinter-Earths sending a probe to our Earth, and the decision to send Anna in to make sure they’re not the types to send a nuke next time. Lots of action, fun dialogue, a smart concept, and a setting that for some reason was bringing to mind the populace of Blade Runner, if not quite the world itself. Great fun as always, and eager to get my hands on the next issue.

DMZ #42: Following up Zee’s one-shot last issue, we start another small arc that looks to be independent of series protagonist Matty Roth, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. NYC’s a huge place, plenty of people with plenty of stories, even in its currently messy state. This one’s about a member of a group of former police officers (and military?) who watched their families destroyed in front of them at the outset of the fighting. Every day they meet AA-style to relive and recount the horror of the event, they live away from the daylight, and are out to, well, destroy the lives of anyone they come across. Only the lead is realizing that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t as close a brotherhood as they’ve been led to believe, and having second thoughts about all of it. An excellent start, Wood’s writing and Kelly’s art are as sharp as ever, and its always great to pick up something they’ve done together.

The Unwritten #2 – After learning that he may in fact be the fictional star of his father’s bestselling Harry Potter-esque novel series, Tom Taylor begins the search for answers about who he really is and what happened to his father. Meanwhile, the fantastic begins to move in the background, giving gentle nudges and setting things in motion for some mysterious, but likely sinister, purpose down the line. While I wasn’t initially sold on the concept, after reading the first two issues, I’m completely onboard. This is a fantastic story, the art’s quite good, and you’d be wise not to miss it. It may end up reading better in trade, but in being a new Vertigo book, it should probably be picked up by the issue to ensure its survival.

Obbiously its a couple days without posting here now. Covering for one of the overnight guys this weekend, so I’ve been busy getting my system all switched into reverse. While this leaves me conscious just as long, I need to be doing something a bit more interactive to keep going as I do so, meaning its been gaming, gaming, gaming for the last couple days while I’ve been awake, and will be yet again tonight. Mostly, of course, this affects the daily manga and DVD intake-responses, but I’ve only got a handful of manga left to catch up on, and this weekend’s time at work should be dead enough to let me catch up with some multi-disc action. Might yet be a comics post tonight as well, as I’ve got that mostly written up, but for now, I’m off to play some Prototype, so I leave you with this:

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And here’s today’s installment of Killy and Cibo’s (not-so-)merry adventures through the nameless megastructure. They actually spend a fair bit of time among other people this time around, and in a neat reversal of the prior volume, where Killy was a midget amongst most of those he encountered, the two of them tower over the folks they find here. There’s also a greater interaction with the autonomous systems aiding and impeding their progress, laying out more information and more questions at a nice pace. The violence and scale of battle also keeps on increasing, but still finds itself dwarfed by the sheer mass of the megastructure. Then the thing ends on a wickedly gripping spot and I have no more BLAME! in my possession to read. Dammit.

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Continuing on in much the same fashion, we see Killy continue to explore the mysterious megastructure for people containing a particular gene, working his way through several environments, and running into more creative uses of the genetic manipulation/mutation that is running rampant throughout. Midway through, we get a pretty huge showdown, followed by some insight into just what it is he’s looking for, as well as picking up a companion, Cibo, in his lonesome travels, and it seems like she’s going to stick around for a while, amazing!

His exploration of the world, and all the varied structures, pinged off a bit of an ARIA vibe for me tonight, something about the way the environment itself is presented, as a character in and of itself. I know that’s certainly been done, and done well, in other places, but ARIA’s what’s popping into my head as I work my way through it, so there you go. A late detail about the megastructure really caught my fancy as well- the system responsible for maintaining the thing started expanding it at random, and has done so to the point that the Authority (something of a master control program) itself no longer knows how large it is. Yeah. I’m gonna need to get to work tracking down the other volumes.

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Oh thank goodness, they’re fixing Episode 7 for the DVD:

DVD version on the left, broadcast on the right

DVD version on the left, broadcast on the right, (full set of comparisons here)

This was, quite frankly, the most absurd drop in animation quality I’ve ever seen, and no amount of rationalizing that it was an intentional artistic choice (especially given the animator’s work on Noein) could convince me it wasn’t anything but an issue with time.

Via Sankaku Complex (SFW content, NSFW ads)

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Okay, that wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. For some reason I thought this was a somewhat longer piece proffered as an alternate ending to the series, rather than the mid-series side story episode that it actually looks to be. Which thoroughly confused me, as its been so long since I’ve seen the show, I couldn’t figure out when it was supposed to be taking place. On its own, its a pretty standard Gonzo episode, not outstanding, but also not venturing into LOL-Gonzo territory. My primary draw for the show is honestly the character design work of Ugetsu Hakua, as he draws some simply breathtaking stuff (note to self, really do need to get around to picking up Flamboyant one of these days), and evidence of his awesome really wasn’t on display here, so that also brought things down a bit. All in all? It’d work much better with a recent viewing of the series, possibly even finding a spot to slip it in mid-show, but on its own, there’s really no point to watching it.

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