Category Archives: Books & Comics

Oh John Ringo, No

I just finished reading Live Free or Die: Troy Rising by John Ringo. I would like to first say, John Ringo is a passably good writer, he can develop a decent plot and has an interesting sense of humor. The big problem with this book is the heavy handed right wing political agenda and Mary Sue central character. Don’t get me wrong, neither of these things is a necessarily a deal breaker, after all I have read and enjoyed the majority of Heinlein’s work. The problem is Heinlein was a better writer and knew how to convey an idea without shoving it down your throat. I was half way through my second reading of Star Ship Troopers before I realized the government of earth was not a real democracy, but rather a military dictatorship, where only those who served in the military were allowed to vote.

The Good: The book has a neat premise and a pretty good plot. I especially love the proto Death Star.

The Bad: Tyler Vernon, the main character, can do no wrong, he is the smartest, richest most excellent man in the universe. he is also boring and two dimensional, there is no other significant characters in the book.

The Ugly: When the aliens attack earth, they use biological weapons designed to kill everyone except blondes and makes blonde women go into heat on a regular basis and capable of multiple birth. Further, when the aliens start bombing from orbit they target all the big cities in blue states, I am pretty sure Dallas and Houston survived the bombing. Essentially, he killed off most of the non-white people in the world, turned all the blonde women into baby making machines and eliminated all the liberal strongholds in the country. Then Tyler Vernon commented while it was really horrible all these people died, it was really a good thing because it would help the economy.

Stories dragging on and on

I don’t really like 800 page books, I especially don’t like 7 book series of 800 page books. Unfortunately, this trend is now affecting Comic Books as well. For some reason the current crop of Comic Book writers have taken to writing stories that develop at glacial speeds. Please, if you can not write a Comic Book story in 3 issues, 4 at the outside, give it up, you are in the wrong business. For example, DC’s current crossover event Forever Evil is by itself a 6 issue mini series, now add in the three other 6 issue mini series that tie into Forever Evil and both Justice League and Justice League of America are tying in as well. That is 36 issues over 6 month period for this story line, we are barely 4 months in and I want it to be over with already, no more navel gazing Lex Luthor.

Forever Evil is not the only story line dragging. Both Earth 2 and Worlds Finest are killing me as well. Earth 2 is currently in a story line about the re-invasion of earth by Darkseid, okay, fine and dandy, this could have been done in 4 issues, The Legion of Superheroes did the Darkness Saga in 6 issues, we are currently on issue 12. Worlds Finest is almost as bad, They are currently telling a story about Power Girls abilities going all wonky on her, 2 issues right? We are on issue 6 of this story line and we are about to cross over to Batman/Superman. Please make it stop.

Comic Con 2013 IV

hulk_278Here is the original art pages from Incredible Hulk # 278 with Stan Lee’s autograph on it. PezWitch had to stand in line for two hours to get this signature and I appreciate her very much for her sacrifice. Before re-framing it, I put a copy of the receipt for the autograph between the pieces of cardboard for proof of providence. I have no idea how much this piece might be worth, but I hope someday someone else will look at this and say the same thing I did when I first saw this and bought it. As a side note, PezWitch got an offer to buy it before she even got 10 feet from Stan Lee.

Comic Con 2013 III

So somewhere in the middle of all this, I managed to get in a visit to Neal Adams table. Neal Adams is in my top 5 list of favorite artists. The darker, grittier Batman we see today was started by Neal Adams and of course he and Denis O’Neil were responsible for the ground breaking  Green Lantern/Green Arrow number 85.

GL-GA_No_85I would love to be able to tell you that I had a wonderfully intelligent conversation with Neal Adams and that I wowed him with my natural charm and witty repartee. The reality though is my brain seized up in a fashion that has never happened before. I mean seriously, I have shaken hands with celebrities before and maintained my normal IQ level. However, with Neal Adams, my mind went blank, he literally stared at me and said, “Sir, you have to hand me the prints so I can sign them.” and I think it went down hill from there as I gapped like a moron. I did try to tell him my IQ was something above a 100, but I don’t think he believed me. I do have to say that in spite of this he was very nice and gracious to me. This is what I get for going out in public without PezWitch.

Neal_Adams_GA-GLSo the upside here, is I did get this print. This really shows off his talent and why he is considered one of the greatest living comic artists. Someday, I hope to meet him again and not be a dithering idiot.

Comic Con 2013 II

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Stan Lee panel. These panels are generally fun, but someone always does something stupid and this on was no exception. Some guy decided this was a great time to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Folks, this is stupid okay. I realize I am being selfish here and I realize this is probably a big deal to you, but guess what, to me you are pulling focus away from the person I came to see and making this event about you. Sorry, but I don’t care and yes, I would rather hear Stan Lee answer an actual question than listen to you beg your girlfriend to marry you.

Stan_Lee_Cropped This first picture was taken from a long distance, I cropped out most of the useless blurry stuff, leaving only the useful blurry stuff.

Stan_Lee_Cropped_AThis one was much closer and considerably clearer.

Comic Con 2013

My back is killing me, my knee is fucked up and I am feeling every god damned minute of my nearly 50 years of existence. Normally when we do Comic Con we go all three days. Friday night gives us chance to make cursory run and make a list of the things we want to do and the people we want to talk to. The second day is spent waiting in lines getting autographs and going to panels. Day three is spent walking around the  booths and buying comic books and comic book related paraphernalia. This year we decided to do just one day, the downside is we spent most of the day in lines waiting for autographs and photo ops. The upside is I got autographs and photos taken with Stan Lee and William Shatner, neither of whom are young chickens.

Bill_Shatner_SmStan_Lee_SmWhen they take these photos, these are not meet and greets. No chit chat, no hand shakes, you walk in, they yell NEXT, you step up, they snap the pic and yell NEXT. Do not under any circumstance try to hold the line up. This annoys the celebrity, the photographer and those people who are behind you.

Things I own

Hulk_278_Pg_14This is a piece of original art I purchased in maybe 1988 or 1989. This is a two page spread from the Incredible Hulk # 278. The Hulk has apparently gained Bruce Banners intelligence and was given a Presidential pardon. This picture is of that moment and is significant because it shows most of the major Marvel characters of the time. The artist is Sal Buscema, who is the younger brother of the legendary comic artist John Buscema. I think this comic book goes for around $2 in mint condition, so the issue itself is not particularly sought after, but the nifty thing here is, there is only one of these.

Bored of the Rings

I just bought Bored of the Rings on my Kindle. My life is now complete. The humor in this book is a bit dated, but it is still funny as hell. This influenced my early D&D playing, heck, it influences my gaming today. Bored of the Rings is, to me the ultimate novelization of a RatShit D&D game. Bruce and I still quote it to each other.

Amazon – Bored of the Rings (Kindle Edition)

BOTR

Uh, NO!

Over at io9, they ask the question, why was Hal Jordan picked to be Green Lantern rather than Superman or even Batman. The theory goes, that Superman or Batman with a power ring would be just AWESOME!

http://io9.com/why-the-hell-didnt-the-green-lanterns-pick-superman-512852750

They do go on to explain it in a not very convincing way. My take on it is pretty simple, while both Superman and Batman have formidable wills, neither are in Hal Jordan’s category in this area. I point to the old DC Superhero RPG by West End Games as a good indicator. In this game the scale for attributes is roughly 0 to 25, where 0 is an average man and each level you go up on an attribute is roughly double the previous, basically going up in a logarithmic fashion. In this game Superman’s Strength is 25, his will is 20. Hal Jordan’s Will is 25, while Batman is a mere 12. Again keep in mind 0 is an average man, by that standard, Batman has an impressive Will, however, even Gnort, the most incompetent Green Lantern in the universe, has a Will of 15. Superman comes much closer, but on that scale, Hal Jordan has as much Will as Superman has Strength. Face it, when it comes to ring slinging, Hal Jordan was the most qualified candidate in the space sector.

All of this has pretty much played out at one time or another in the comics, both Batman and Superman have ended wearing Hal’s ring, but neither have ever been able to use it as effectively as he has. At one point Hal Jordan takes on the rest of the GL Corps……..AND WINS! This was not a sneaky sneaky bullshit plan, this was a head on full frontal assault. Meanwhile, Superman has been pretty consistently been fought to a stand still by small groups of GL’s. So yeah, no, Hal Jordan was the first best choice for the ring.

green-lantern

RE: Earth 2

So I have been re-reading Earth 2 the last weeks or so, this is probably my 4th read through of the series. This afternoon, I was thinking about how bland the Justice League line is right now, then it dawned on me that the Captain Marvel backup story in JL has been pretty all right, although Billy Batson is kind of a jerk. Then as my mind meandered through the dark roads it travels occasionally and it occurred to me, why isn’t Captain Marvel on Earth 2 instead in the main DC universe.

Earth 1 has plenty of paragon style super heroes, Superman, Supergirl. Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Mon-El, just to name a few. On Earth 2, Superman and Wonder Woman are both dead, Supergirl is on Earth 1 as Power Girl and so far none of the heroes that have appeared on Earth Two have been paragon style heroes. Captain Marvel would have fit in beautifully on Earth 2 as so far all the origin stories have been based on magic and mythology. On Earth 2, he would not be over shadowed by Superman, he would have the chance to shine be what he was meant to be, the worlds mightiest mortal. This would also bring a major bad ass villain to Earth 2 in the form of Black Adam and Doctor Sivana could be that worlds Lex Luthor.

Even if DC wanted to maintain the Captain on Earth 1, they could build an Earth 2 counterpart in the form of Captain Thunder, a moniker that DC has used for him in the past on at least three occasions. It is all so clear to me now. Sigh! Too bad DC does not invite me to their editorial staff meetings.

ShazamHC001