Sunday, October 17, 2004

Review of The Uncanny X-Men #449

I just have a few things to say about this garbage.

I still don't understand how they beat the villain. I have read it over and over and don't understand. I thought maybe I had some pages stuck together or something.

I don't see it progressing the overall title or the characters. Claremont had a great opportunity for Suspense when Storm and Nightcrawler walked through the room of mutant haters without powers. But he didn't.

I remember an issue of Uncanny somewhere between 195 and 200 where Kitty Pryde talked some smack with mutant haters. One of the mutant haters happened to be black. When he called Kitty a "mutie" she called him the N word. THAT was the meat of the comic...not the final fight to be a bad guy...not that there are mutant haters and always will be...The theme of the comic was discrimination, not a bad guy fight.

Some comics seem to be getting away with not having a theme. A theme is the underlying reason the story needs to be told, some insight into human character. Claremont used to be one of the greatest at this. Is Marvel telling him not to do this?? That's the only thing I can think of because I still remember comics like Uncanny #186 and #198 called "Lifedeath" and "Lifedeath II." No fights, no evil monsters, no extremely clever and confusing way to beat an enemy. Just a great story of character, determination, and what it takes to be a person.

So this new stuff, unless it gets better, is going to turn me off. Write to Marvel--let them know.

Review of JLA issues 101-106

These are the types of comics that I miss.

There were dynamic characters--ALL of them. They didn't have to come out and say the change but you saw the character change in the last issue.

This was a very personal story for the characters. I tip my hat to writer Chuck Austen for such a well-paced and emotionally deep storyline. It was emotionally deep without being cheesy.

I really like the antagonists being that family that developed super powers. If Batman were created today, he would have gone after the person that killed his parents and killed him, just like the woman in the story. He may have stopped, but like in Spider-Man the movie, Spider-Man didn't have to kill the robber who killed Uncle Ben. The robber "luckily" tripped and fell out the window on his own. That to me is a cop out to the writers--they appeased both sides, one wanting the robber to fry for killing poor Uncle Ben, the other wanting Peter to be the bigger man and spare his life. But an accident works on both sides.

The Punisher is just a modern day Batman. Look at both of their stories. The Punisher was pretty much kept around because the readers at the time needed a good guy that went around and killed the bad guys. There have been stories about Batman almost going over the edge and killing the Joker to prevent all the unnecessary future deaths. However, he doesn't and more deaths occur. Yes, he stood for higher morals. I applaud that. But then shouldn't an aspect of Wayne Industries or whatever it's called be leading the forefront in treatment of the criminally insane? (Sorta like Daredevil's character of punishing the goons that got away legally.) But I really digressed here.

This series was great because it built on what we knew of the characters and it pushes them on in the future. We see them living with the pain and understand.

This series was exponentially better than the John Byrne and Claremont arc that previously came. DC--this is what the real fans want. Decent stories that affect our characters. Not mindless Vampire nonsense to promote a new book. (Doom Patrol will fail, by the way. I give it no more than 15 issues--less than that if John Byrne gets bored of it, which he ususally does.)

Great storyline. My highest recommendation.

About Old Time Radio

I have a major question regarding the "copyright" of Old Time Radio.

How can those low-budget sites get away with selling these OTR on discs then? continually posts shows like the Shadow from the period known to be under copyright from previous posts by the Turbaned One at the Cobalt Club website. (The Shadow 1937-1954 Conde Nast Recently Applied and won Copyright --Nov. 3, 2003).

OTRCAT.COM sells The Shadow from these periods.

There are other examples.
My major gripe is that these shows cannot possibly be major moneymakers. They are way too overpriced at bookstores in the audio section. If more people got to hear Fibber McGee, more people would like it, and maybe they would take them and start a new TV show, with the first OTR material being free for avid fans.
I think that television is trying this now with the cheap price of DVD. Now they can collect whole seasons in a nice little package (I got The Prisoner TV show from Columbia House on cassette and those 17 episodes take up a ton of space on the shelf). But I would tell any TV exec this: why should I buy CSI when it is now on at least twice a night (Spike TV)? Some people do, if they are avid fans. I really really like the show but I would not pay for it. I really really like OTR but I admit that I would not pay for these shows.
I really don't know where this is going...I should have outlined it first...but I really think that copyright was intended to prevent plagiarism of ideas, not prevent people from seeing the shows. I think CSI should be available for free off of or something--just keep the commercials tacked on to it! If you want the commercials off, pay for it. Or watch CSI on tv with commericals. If OTR was available on radio easily (notice they don't have a Radio Guide anymore and finding the shows on is difficult if not impossible). I personally listen to online most days. I wouldn't even mind if they put commericals in it if it meant more choice.
With burnable DVDs becoming standard technology for our regular TV system soon, is Pay Per View going to be the downfall of the DVD?
Thanks for listening,Matt

Friday, October 15, 2004

Revenge Comic page 1 thru 3


Issue #1

Page One
Splash Page: Title: Rebirth
Picture of a morgue with at least 12 gurneys with a dead body on each, all covered with a sheet. Each has a toe tag.
Text Box: Workers here joke about this being the dead center of downtown. They say that not because of the bodies, but because the real action has already happened elsewhere.
Text Box #2: Whether murder, or suicide, or natural causes, these people have shuffled off this mortal coil. Their time is done.

Page Two
Four panels, first being the biggest.
Panel One: Action shot of one of the bodies (Revenge), sitting bolt upright suddenly, as if gasping for breath from being underwater.
Text box: Or not.
Panel Two: Revenge looking around the room while sitting on gurney.
Thought dialogue:...Where am I? Did those bullets miss me?
Panel Three: Closeup of Revenge feeling his chest.
Thought Dialogue: Oh my God, I've been hit.
Panel Four: Closeup of wound, cleaned up.
Thought dialogue: Wait a blood? Who was shooting at me anyway? I can't remember...

Page Three
Four panels
Panel One: Exasperated Revenge turns scared as a body next to him moans.
Panel Two: Revenge staring at the body as it moves slowly underneath the sheet.
Thought dialogue: A morgue? Is that body moving?
Panel Three: As if from Revenge's perspective, looking down at his own naked stomach, sheet, gurney.
Thought dialogue: Am I...?
Panel four: Closeup of Revenge's toe tag, name has to say "Doe, John."
Thought dialogue: ...Supposed to be dead??

Monday, October 11, 2004

Amazing what's online

I have found that the internet is not the "pay to play" domain that many people think it is. The internet can generally bring people together and share passions and hobbies and other things.

Once, I actually received a cassette tape from Japan a fellow Bryan Adams fan made me. No price. Full of bootlegs and rarities.

Once, I received two full video tapes of the tv show Seven Days that I collect. No price and I got many episodes that I did not have. This was well before syndication.

Once, I actually received the paperback book Knight Life from a Peter David (author) fan. No price. This was because it was out of print at the time. The only requirement was to mail it to the next person on the list when I was done with it, which I did.

Once, I actually found a text document of J. D. Salinger's non-reprinted works from old magazines. Since I am a huge fan of Salinger, this was like finding a holy grail since many of these magazines are not kept in libraries.

Lately, I have found a fan website that regularly posts old time radio programs, of which I am a big fan.

That's what you have to do--not eBay, not Amazon, not store sites. You have to find other fans. That is where the sharing takes place. Now I get to listen to Jack Benny and the old Superman programs like they were meant to be--free.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Superman--A Review of Issues #206-208

First of all, I need to say that I hate when my favorite book is the hottest thing out there. Jim Lee's art deserves all the credit and it is wonderful to see Superman taken seriously. The only downfall for me is that the book becomes hard to get--you have to have a subscription or have it put up by your comic shop. This just kind of ruins the weekly "discovery" of new comics. I find that my comic shop barely orders any copies over those to be put aside. I have missed other books because of this. Luckily, I collect Superman every week anyway.

Issues #206-208 are interesting for what they are going to set up in the future. I really like the undercover "Orr" character. I hope this confession to the priest really leads to something. But shouldn't he maybe using Lois to confess to--or Diana? I swear, Superman's marriage is pretty screwed up--I honestly think it would end in divorce right now with what is all going on.

One of my faults with it all, however, is that the universe of comics only ties itself in together when it is convenient for them. If this story were in the pages of JLA, I think that Batman would have said, "This is why I had protocols for bad heroes." In JLA, for many issues, the heroes brooded on that subject. I miss the comics growing up where every issue was "asterisked" to tell you where all this stuff came from previously, and in what order to read a hero's exploits.Now we have individual stories running right on top of each other in the many Superman books with JLA.

And one more nitpicky thing--if Equus' claws were that sharp that they could cut the skin of Superman, wouldn't you cover the whole freaking guy in the stuff? It's always amazing how convenient things can be. (But then again, if Flash and Superman are really that fast--fast enough to walk on water--wouldn't they be unstoppable? Punches fast enough to hit the guy without ever seeing them, flying to the other side of the world to grab a tank and hit the guy over the head with it before he realized you left----and this is not a stretch: first issue of Justice Society of America in 1992 or so had their fast guy speed several states away in the spot of a heartbeat or two just to bring back a newspaper. Superman could grab the Phantom Zone projector every time he needed it. And one last little nitpicky thing--and sometimes this makes me think about stopping comics altogether--if you can life Equus up like on the cover of Superman #206, why couldn't you fly him up into space superfast and throw him into deep space?)

Black Holes--the final frontier

I just want to list a short note about my theory of black holes and string theory. I am in no way a scientist but more like a short story idea guy.

Black holes are supposed to suck in everything, even light, yet scientists do not know where the stuff goes. What if black holes are the opening to a new universe, and the stuff that goes into a black hole spews out like a Big Bang? So the Big Bang of one universe is simply a recycling of the material from the old universe? I think this satisfies my unanswered questions about string theory and alternate universes, and the BIg Bang itself.

Wow. I hope this is something.

Football coaches

Put me in, coach. I'm ready to play.

I just watched the Seattle Seahawks lose a 17 point lead in the last 6 minutes of the fourth quarter. 17 points. The Rams had no timeouts left. What does Coach Holmgren do? Throw the ball. Not run down the clock, but throw the ball.

Hello? Too many things can happen--1)incomplete pass, stopping the clock, or even worse 2) interception. I would take my chances and run off AT MINIMUM one minute and thirty seconds by running three straight running plays and then kicking the ball away. Holmgren let them throw incomplete passes and left WAY too much time up on the clock.

And even if they score one touchdown, you are still ahead by ten. Holmgren even went into some prevent defense when pressure was working all day.

What I want to say is that this is not Madden 2005 at the rookie level. You only throw there because you simply can't miss and you want to see if you can score 100 points in four quarters. This is the NFL. Manage the freakin clock. I could do that. And all I play is Madden.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Tying my hands

Now I seem to have a problem in teaching that seems to be epidemic. I think that students have realized that allegations, whether true or false, can crush a teacher.

I am spending my life trying to teach these kids. I really believe that that is what I am here for. I have made great strides with a great many of them. There are just a few who throw a wrench into all of our works. I am only biased against people that don't live up to their potential and don't do what they are supposed to do--like do their classwork while they are sitting in class anyway. There are 30+ students in each class. I can't be over the shoulder of every one of them. I have to believe that most can self-monitor. I have to believe that. If I don't believe that, nothing would get done. I would have to teach one student at a time.

If I didn't think I belonged here, I would get a higher degree and teach college English. There, if students don't show up to class or don't do their work, it is never my fault.

But I am here because I am supposed to be. Step up to the plate.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Education is an effort

When did education become something to fight against?

I know that not all of my education was brilliant. Some was boring. Ok, most was boring. But you know what? I got through it. We all have to. I understood that it was a necessary evil. Maybe I didn't understand exactly why we are supposed to be learning certain things. I still have never used y=mx+b to this day outside of school. However, I know now that there is a process. Sometimes, it is just the educational process in figuring something out. Sometimes, it is the fact that back in high school no one had any clue what they were going to do with the rest of his or her life. I might have needed y=mx+b.

Plus, I wanted to get good grades. Some students don't even care about that today. I passed some seniors last year that have no business holding a high school diploma. Some of the ninth grade students this year have no skills and definitely no love of learning. Some have fought me tooth and nail, as if they can actually hold a real discussion of the educational value of writing, reading, and grammar. You know what? I have the degree--you don't. Plus, I didn't come up with all the's already in the frickin state standards!

Some of my students are wonderful. I could name dozens that make me love teaching every day. However, I am ranting about those few that make my life miserable. I do more paperwork and handling of these recalcitrant few than I do for whole classes.

I love teaching, but students need to realize they are in school to get some skills for the world. I think those ancient greeks would shake their heads with disgust at some of the antics that go on. I am not here to punish or slave-drive. I am here to teach. Let me.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, A Review

I can't help but cringe when I hear of a new comic publisher. Too many high promises and outright failures come to mind. Valiant, Defiant, Crossgen, First, and does anybody remember the Dark Horse universe? DC fell flat with its Impact comics line. Heck, even Marvel couldn't get its late 1980s "New Universe" off the ground at the height of its game. That's why I am always nervous about spending my comic allowance on a new publisher. Yes, I'm married, so I get a comic allowance. Especially with comics costing what they do today, I am only allowed so many. I have to beg for a couple extra bucks when DC comes up with some new must have like Identity Crisis. As you know, some like this end up being worth it, but only when it is about a CURRENT line. DC's new line like Hard Time will fail. I guarantee it. They sound great, but I don't foresee a long future. Why get into a comic that's going to fail? And now that there is a trade paperback for every six issue of every comic, why should I get the monthly? I read reviews from those I trust and get what they say is a good bet. Then comes this year's Free Comic Book Day 2004. Sure, my daughter got a couple of nice ones. The only one that looked decent to me was from this new publisher called Beckett Comics. The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty. Sure, it's free; I'll try it. And I amazingly liked it. Issue one was fast paced and interesting. Written by some guy named Gabriel Benson, the scenes were quick and told enough to keep you informed but just enough to hold suspense. This is actually one of my gripes about comics currently. I hate guessing. I read a current arc of JLA where two of the main characters were completely unknown to me, some characters named Faith and Major Disaster (whose names even eluded me for several issues).

After the first three issues, I can say that I love the drawing by Hawthorne and Benson is a good writer. They understand the comic formula of pictures and words telling a story together. Mostly, I need to say that I want more. I want to know the answers to several questions I have. This comic even works best as separate issues. If it were a trade paperback, I probably would not be that much into the mysteries developing. Putting a book down and thinking about it is a lot of fun. I feel like I'm twelve again, pondering the X-Men inbetween issues.

The most important thing here is to applaud them for a job well done. I am a high school English teacher and have a degree in English education. I can't tell you how many movies, books, and other stories bore me sometimes because, being educated in the craft, I usually can tell what's coming. Nothing much surprizes me. But this comic is keeping me guessing, which is the best compliment that I can pay it. I want to know what happens. I am a fan, even if it is from an independent.

Keep up the good work, Beckett. I wish your company success. (By the way, I also emailed Beckett Comics to say these things and they actually wrote back. I dug that. Makes me want to like these guys even more.)

Superman Ideas

Time travel vigilante--his power is to skip backwards in time. He only goes back when he wants to kill a killer, thereby preventing the crime from ever happening. The dilemma: How can Superman honestly prevent him from doing this work?
--he can always prove he was somewhere else when the vigilante killings take place (two of him in timestream).
--Superman dies to start with--starts with his death with some sort of magical lightsaber through the chest--vigilante says, "I saved your life three days ago."

Another idea
Some extradimensional villain--the only way to stop him is to banish him back to his own dimension. The problem is that the heroes from that dimension banished him in the first place.

Another idea
What if Batman took a Green Lantern ring? Would he turn into a Sinestro?

Bad Guy Stuff

1. "Never kill sycophants that fail you--use them as cannon fodder on missions."

Revenge the Superhero

Origin: The dead Harry Revenge is taken to the morgue. The "evil scientist" pours his "neo-chemicals" over two dead bodies, Revenge's and Brick's. Brick: recently electrocuted serial killer--neo-chemicals did not go through all the way and hardened his hide.

Note: Did Brick have a previous connection to evil scientist? Was this a set-up?

Revenge comic book

Issue #1

Page 5
3 panels, second one the biggest
Panel one: Close up on gurney that moaned. A hand is pulling off its own sheet--the body is pulling off its own sheet. Dialogue: (Low groaning from under the sheet).
Panel two: Close up on the face that is revealed from under the sheet. The face is HARD. It should look impenetrable, with even the eyes looking rock-like.
Panel three: The Rock-Man (Brick) has recognition in his face as he spies Revenge. He is sneering. Dialogue: YOU!!

Page 6
3 Panels
Panel one: Revenge falls backward over his gurney as Brick lunges for him. Brick dialogue: I'll KILL you! Revenge dialogue: (Sound effect for falling) Whoulphf!
Panel two: Brick has snatched Revenge's gurney and is hefting it over his head easily and is about to bring it down on Revenge as he cowers. It is dark in the room so it shades their nudity. Brick dialogue: I'll kill you this time!
Panel three: Revenge performs a leg sweep on Brick, Brick falls on his rear and gurney crashes on top of him.

Page 7
4 Panels, fourth being the biggest
Panel one: close up of Revenge with surprized look on his face. He has already jumped up into a combat-ready pose. Thought dialogue: Did I do that?
Panel two: Revenge dodges swiftly a massive fist that crashes into the wall.
Panel three: Revenge brings a foot up into Brick's midsection. Brick catches the foot with his hands. Sound effect: Dull thud like kicking a rock.
Panel four: Brick tosses Revenge through the morgue door. Big crash.

Page 8
3 panels
Panel one: Brick coming out of what's left of the door. Dialogue: Hot damn! Super-strength! I hope you ain't dead yet!
Panel two: Side view of Brick coming after Revenge, who is under a pile of slightly moving rubble and the morgue door. There are also two lab techs surprized, frightened, and trying to flee.
Panel three: Revenge coming out of the rubble, looking very surprized. Thought dialogue: That shoulda killed me. And WHO is this guy? Why doe she have it in for me?

Saturday, October 02, 2004


I can tell right now that the real jobs will be in reading and writing in the future. Television and movies have made most students today lazy.

I am a ninth grade English teacher. Last week, we were trying to read "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell. Less than 15 pages of the textbook, it might as well have been four hundred. These students complained about it being way too long. A 15 page short story? In English class? I even gave time to read it IN class. When I was a kid, it would have been homework. Several students asked if we could just "watch it" and I don't even know if there is a movie of it out there (There is, I found out later; a 1932 version starring King Kong's Fay Wray--horrible).

Students are getting lazy without any of these reading skills. They are doing themselves a disservice. What do I do? "The Most Dangerous Game" is actually a well-crafted, fast-paced story. How do I teach reading skills when they refuse to read, even in class? Some would actually rather have stared at the walls than read the story...

And then there's the lack of vocabulary...but we'll discuss that another time...