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Tag: Comics

Comic book characters choose

The informed voter uncovers all they can about the political candidates’ views and backgrounds and performs an objective and methodical comparison which results in the selection of a particular candidate.

That is, of course, difficult and requires that the voter is actually smart enough to figure out the nuances and economic/social consequences of each candidate’s positions.

Much easier to simply ask – who would my favorite comic book character vote for? (HT: JZG, note: the “Comic Compass” is a play on the Political Compass test where the vertical axis charts how “socially” liberal or conservative you are, and the horizontal axis charts how “economically” liberal or conservative you are; so Ralph Nader is in the lower-left, Mao Ze Dong is in the upper-left, George W. Bush is in the upper-right, and Ayn Rand and her ilk are in the lower-right)

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I had no idea that Apocalypse (Marvel) was more economically liberal than Darkseid – dark God of Apokolips (DC), but comparable in economic views to the Hulk (Marvel).

(Source)

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Smiley

Did you think emoticons are a modern phenomena of the Internet? Think again. A long long time ago (~120 years ago to be more precise), in a place not so far away… a typographist sought a new way to communicate emotion with his people and to thwart the threat of evil cartoonists… (HT: Comics Should be Good)

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In Doom we trust

With all the discussion about who would make a better President, Barack Obama or John McCain, one obvious candidate has been ignored — one who rises above them all. Who is this dark horse candidate who has proven himself to be the most deserving of the title of Commander-in-Chief? I’m speaking of none other than Victor von Doom — the one they call Dr. Doom.

What qualifications does he have?

  1. Experience – McCain likes to tout his experience in politics, pointing to critical pieces of legislation which he’s been instrumental in writing and passing. Obama, on the other hand, points to his former life as a community organizer, helping to drive grassroots level change as an important type of experience for a leader. But, honestly, how many of them have actually taken a war-torn, starving third-world country like Latveria and, through sheer ingenuity and force of will, turned it into a peaceful, prosperous, and one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world? None but Dr. Doom. Advantage: Doom.
  2. Strength in the face of adversity – McCain has the obvious upper hand here — a POW who survived brutal torture in an enemy prison camp. Yet, that pales in comparison to the trials and tribulations of Doom. McCain may talk about how being in a Viet Cong prison was like hell. Doom was actually cast into Hell and yet he still managed to claw his way out through nothing but tenacity and intellect, despite his mortal enemies attempting to trap him there. Advantage: Doom.
  3. Technology – Many have proclaimed Obama to be a true technological pioneer, embracing social networking and iPhone applications to spread his message of hope. Pathetic. Victor von Doom is an expert in every known technological field and science — having invented a time machine, a device which can control mutant/metahuman powers, forcefields, and portals to other dimensions. Obama and McCain talk about researching new alternative energy technology. Bah! Doom can give every worthy citizen a garbage-powered jetpack. Advantage: Doom
  4. Terrorism – Much has been made about the Bush administration’s inability to capture Osama bin Laden and about the Democratic Party’s supposed inability to face terrorist threats. These are all mere side issues. No terrorist would dare attack a country run by Victor von Doom, for there is no place in the universe that is out of the reach of Doom. Doom has traversed the cosmos, traveled through time to even conduct an affair with the sorceress Morgaine le Fay, and has even descended into the pits of Hell. Suicide bombers? Inconsequential — for no suicide bomber would dare attack when the risk of failure would be a visit to Doom’s “re-education” chambers. McCain and Obama can talk all they want about military response, but Doom is the only one with the teeth and the record of hunting down all offenders. Advantage: Doom
  5. Law Enforcement – Obama may talk about his experiences in the rough side of Chicago as giving him authority to discuss law enforcement and crime, but I dare say — who can administer civil justice better than Doom? There is no crime in Latveria, and there aren’t even superheroes to help maintain that order. All is simply maintained out of the citizenry’s love and … respect — yes that would be the best word to describe the bone-chilling paralysis that the citizenry feel in Doom’s presence — for Doom. Contrast that to most inner-cities, where there is no respect, let alone love, for the law. Advantage: Doom
  6. Secret Service – Obama may be an athlete and McCain may be a good ol’ fashioned tough guy, but only Doom can dispense with the need for the public to worry about assassination attempts. Not only would terrorists and criminals be completely dissuaded of attacking one such as Doom, if they were to try, they would certainly fail. Doom’s armor is made from some of the most sophisticated technology, allowing him to stand in physical combat against beings such as the Hulk and even demons from Hell. Even if an attack were sufficiently strong to defeat Doom’s armor, one must always be wary of the fact that Dr. Doom uses Doombots — perfect robotic copies of himself such that the real Victor von Doom is never truly threatened. Advantage: Doom

Surely, at this point, there is no doubt in your mind who is the most competent and qualified man of the hour. So this November, go to the ballot and cast your vote for the one man who can bring America to greatness. And may Doom bless you all.

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A Comic-con Adventure

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Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the San Diego Comic-Con. Make no mistake, though, although the word “comic” shows up in the name of the event, the SDCC covers a lot more than just comics. If anything, I was amazed at the diversity I saw:

  • Gender: I had been under the impression that over 75% of Comic-Con goers would be guys. Instead, much to my dismay, the gender balance was fairly even — I did not notice there being especially more girls or more guys!
  • Appearance: Before going to the Con, I had braced myself for a mass of stereotypical comic book nerds — either extremely overweight or extremely scrawny, lacking in social skills, and possibly dressed up in cosplay gear. The Con shattered that conception — while yes, there were certainly people who could stand to lose some weight (or gain some muscle), and there was certainly no shortage of “cosplayers” (people who dress up as characters), I was astonished at the sheer of diversity of types of people there. You had people who were clearly big nerds, but right next to them (and oftentimes waiting for the same event) were people who looked like jocks, and people who looked “normal.”
  • Subject matter: The Comic-Con isn’t just about comics. There was coverage of television shows (e.g. Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes), new movies (e.g. Watchmen), video games (e.g. Spore), and even fantasy/sci-fi novels (e.g. I got a book signed by famed sci-fi writer Connie Willis). Stars ranging from Sarah Silverman to Kristin Kreuk to Ludacris to Keanu Reeves were also in attendance. It’s no wonder that the San Diego Comic-Con no longer bills itself merely as the largest comic book convention, but as a pop culture convention.

In any event, what I took away from the Con:

  • Maxis’s Spore looks like it will be one hell of a game, but with its sophistication and graphics, I wonder if I’ll need some sort of Cray imagesupercomputer to play it. The concept is that you start out controlling single-celled organisms, and gradually you evolve them to the point where they become space-faring civilizations. Will Wright, the genius behind this game and games like Sim City and the Sims, was there giving an amazing demo and explaining his vision of the computer game as an art form. It was very cool!
  • Grant Morrison, one of the greatest comic book writers of all time, is a  imagecrazy Scot. Picture a bald guy, dressed in an oddly colored suit, known for writing fairly strange comic books, in a very thick Scottish accent explaining how he views Desaad, the Dark God of Torture, as a guy with an obsession with pornography. And that’s what DC’s Final Crisis panel was like.
  • Connie Willis has not only won practically every sci-fi award there is to win, but is a woman with incredible charm and sass. That was a very pleasant surprise, and made the waiting in line for an hour to get her to autograph a book for my girlfriend all the more worthwhile.
  • Bill Willingham, writer of my favorite ongoing comicimage series Fables, is just  as funny in real life as he is in his comic works. He apparently started out wanting to be an artist and submitted a sample of his artwork with a quick storyline attached. When he was hired, he asked, “What do you want me to draw?” To which the editorial team replied, “Umm.. the story that you pitched!” Shocked, but not wanting to pass up the opportunity, Willingham proceeded to give up his art pencils for his writing pencils. Oh, and I got his autograph!
  • The Watchmen movie looks more and more promising. I attended not only  the movie panel, but also a panel highlighting Dave Gibbons, the artist and co-creator of the series, and I have to say I’m very excited. I am still worried how they intend to move what was probably the greatest graphic novel of all time to screen, but if the trailer and the extra preview clips that I saw are any indication, they are trying to recreate the classic as best they can. As it should be.
  • Joss Whedon is a genius. But, his new show, The Dollhouse, does seem to be slightly derivative of the Pretender. Oh well, I won’t hold a grudge if it’s any good.

And of course, no post on Comic-con can end without pictures of cosplayers!

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Sailor Moon & Friends … fighting evil by moonlight?

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Nightwing & Huntress! (DC Comics)

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Mr. Fantastic and Spiderman (Marvel) discuss how to save the world!

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I sense the Dark Side within you…

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A Sim!?

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Superman and Wonder Woman!

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Fashionable Superheroes

imageWho said comic book superheroes were just for geeks?

The NYTimes has an interesting article (hat tip: JZG) New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art new exhibit on comic book costumes and their significance in the fashion world. The exhibit supposedly has plenty of classic costumes (e.g. one of those worn by Lynda Carter in the old-school Wonder Woman show, Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman costume, etc.)

It makes sense. Comicbook super heroes are a form of escapism involving roleplaying, violence, and barely hidden sexuality. After all, what else is fashion about?

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Magneto has arrived

“Magneto man” that is.

From Engadget (hat tip: A. Phan):

A boy named Joe Falciatano III from Pulaski, New York, seems to have simply the worst luck ever — and some think it could be do to an overly magnetized touch. While using PCs at this elementary school, Joe — who dubbed himself “Magneto Man” — found that every system he laid his hands on went totally haywire. Only after a teacher suggested he use a grounded, anti-static wrist strap did the systems experience relief from his Geek Squad-inducing grasp. Apparently, the boy has also disrupted slide show presentations and caused his Xbox to freeze repeatedly.

What do the experts have to say?

Kelly Robinson [who runs Electrostatic Answers] used an electrostatic field meter to measure Joe’s static electricity and determined it was normal. He measured the conductivity of Joe’s sneakers and concluded that they were very insulating, so they might have prevented any static on Joe from passing into the ground; hence, it went to the computer.

Is that the best you got, Mr. “electricity expert”? Psh. We all know he’s going to train an army (or “Brotherhood”) to lash back against the human “flatscans” who have oppressed his kind for so long.

But, I’m onto you, Joe. I’m onto you.

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Kryptonite

(Hat tip to Eric):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6584229.stm

Researchers from mining group Rio Tinto discovered the unusual mineral and enlisted the help of Dr Stanley when they could not match it with anything known previously to science.

Once the London expert had unravelled the mineral’s chemical make-up, he was shocked to discover this formula was already referenced in literature – albeit fictional literature.

“Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral’s chemical formula – sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide – and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns.

“The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite.”

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Lex Luthor and Joker in Top 10 Favorite Villains

So says the Big Bad Read poll. Magneto just missed the cutoff at #11.

The Top 20:
1. Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
2. Sauron, The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
3. Mrs. Coulter, His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
4. Lex Luthor, Superman (DC Comics)
5. The Joker, Batman (DC Comics)
6. Count Olaf, A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)
7. The Other Mother, Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
8. The White Witch, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
9. Dracula, Dracula (Bram Stoker)
10. Artemis Fowl, Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)
11. Magneto, X-Men (Marvel Comics)
12. Prof. Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
13. Zaphod Beeblebrox, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
14. Capt. Hook, Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)
15. Napoleon the Pig, Animal Farm (George Orwell)
16. Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
17. Miss Trunchbull, Matilda (Roald Dahl)
18. Cruella de Vil, 101 Dalmations (Dodie Smith)
19. The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum)
20. The Grinch, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss)

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Comic Recommendations

In honor of my having watched and enjoyed Superman Returns in IMAX Saturday night (thank you Eric’s parents!), some comic book recommendations — b/c we all know that sequels to comic book movies will generally be less good than their predecessors:From Marvel:

  1. Astonishing X-Men (Joss Whedon & John Cassaday) – From the creator of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly/Serenity, comes the core X-Men book. Whedon (who has grown greatly since his Buffy and Angel years) knows these characters well and is just in the middle of his third story arc where he has completely ripped the team apart from the inside. This is one of the best books Marvel has right now, and the only downside is that until September, Whedon was only able to get one issue out every two months — that sadistic bastard. One other tidbit, Whedon’s favorite character is Kitty Pryde (the girl who walks through walls) and his inspiration for Buffy and a good many of the female characters that he writes is her.
  2. Daredevil (Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark/Stefano Gaudiano) – For those out of comics, Brubaker’s name probably doesn’t sound very famous, but he started as an indy-comic writer — and a good one at that. Brubaker crafts excellent noir-ish stories. For that reason, I’m not as big a fan of his X-Men work, but I loved his work on Gotham Central (see below) and now he’s doing Daredevil justice. Not Ben Affleck-injustice, but Daredevil as he’s meant to be — bad ass, kicking ninja ass, surrounded by hot, scantily clad femme fatales. In terms of the story, I recommend you pick up the few issues just leading into the current story arc written by Brian Bendis (see below) which introduces you to more or less everything you need to know about the current one.
  3. New Avengers (Brian Bendis) – I have mixed feelings about Bendis. On the one hand, he can do very good work. His run on Daredevil was long and also very good, but mainly, I think, because Daredevil is not a talking-type of guy. Bendis tends to write very long, awkwardly long dialogue. But, he crafts very interesting plots. And New Avengers is currently Marvel’s flagship work. It starts the most popular Marvel heroes – Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spiderman, Luke Cage, Spiderwoman (no relation to Spiderman), and the Sentry. I think the work is a good you-don’t-need-to-know-crap introduction to the Marvel world, easy to read, and for the most part is pretty solid.

From DC:

  1. Checkmate (Greg Rucka) – Greg Rucka is, in my humble opinion, hands down the BEST comic book writer who’s working in the mainstream today. He does real justice to his characters, to his plotlines — and he even writes Wonder Woman well, which is actually quite hard to do if you think about it. He crafted this one to help show off the new DC universe to be a bit more realistic. Sure, there have been plenty of spyfics before, and stories about corrupt governments — but really, what would the world be like in a world where Superman and Green Lantern fly the skies? Enter Checkmate, an international spy organization that was created by the United Nations to deal with these issues. But, as we all know, the UN sucks — and the very interesting combination of heroes and villains which lead Checkmate (the individuals are named after Chess pieces, with the Black King and Queen and White King and Queen as the ruling members) have to deal with each other, with diplomatic niceties, and with a super-powered world. Ok, I’ve been rambling on enough, but I do think this book is solid and I encourage anyone who wants to give comics a try to read it.
  2. Fables (Bill Willngham & Mark Buckingham & James Jean on covers) – The only reason I mention James Jean is that his covers are absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Its one of the first reasons I picked it up. Fables isn’t DC per se, its under the Vertigo imprint, which some of you will recognize as the publisher of V for Vendetta and The Sandman and Watchmen. These are non-mainstream stories and typically deal with more adult themes/ideas (ohhh nooo.. its SEX!!! DRUGS! AHHHHHH). The premise behind Fables is that an evil empire run by the villainous Adversary has taken over the magical lands where our favorite fables (ie Jack and Jill, Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, King Cole, Prince Charming, etc) lived. They are then forced to immigrate to our world — the “Mundy world” where they have lived for hundreds of years. Now, it sounds cheesy, but these aren’t your old bedtime story fables — Prince Charming is an adulterous, scheming man. The Big Bad Wolf, is Bigby the Wolf, a very talented detective, and Snow White is an administrative woman who absolutely detests Prince Charming, her ex-husband, and Goldilocks is an animal fable rights extremist. Throw in gratuitous amounts of sex, violence, politicking, and magic, and you have one of my favorite books ever. The art is nice, and the same team has been on the book since Issue 1 — which I encourage everyone to take a look at. If you’re not into superheroes, but want to read something good, I’d recommend starting with the first story arc and going from there.
  3. 52 (Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison) – I’ve written a little too much about the books above, mainly because I feel the main comic lines that people are familiar with (the mainstream ones, ie Superman or Batman) are difficult to follow and have decayed in quality at least for now. One of the reasons, is because their best talent are busy at work on this book, 52, which comes out ONCE A WEEK. The four authors listed are some of the best talent in the business and are collaborating on a story which is supposed to redefine the universe that DC’s comics operate in. These are written well, they come out every week (so it gives you a reason to go into the comic store weekly), and are easy to understand. ’nuff said

Those were the currently ongoing series that I’d recommend. Here’s 3 more books that I’d recommend from a comic store’s “backfiles” — old issues or trade paperbacks (collections of comics w/o the ads) that are great:

  1. Identity Crisis (Brad Meltzer & Rags Morales & covers by Michael Turner) – Again I mention the coverist, because Turner is draws very nice covers (although his women look somewhat anorexic). Anyways, this story got national press attention for the way it took the biggest heroes from DC (the Justice League) and completely undermined how everyone saw them. It was a murder mystery. A love story. It had intense fight scenes. Brought in major players. And… on top of that, it is fairly approachable and its fairly important to understanding the DC Universe today.
  2. 1602 (Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert) – This is a Marvel Neil Gaiman work which is a re-imagining of the Marvel universe if it took place in the 1600s. The reader gets to see very “period” art (including covers that look like they were etched in wood) and a crash course through the Marvel universe.
  3. Sandman (Neil Gaiman) – Gaiman’s very famous and very acclaimed series. He was originally asked to make stories from a Golden Age character named the Sandman — clearly, Gaiman did not do what he was asked. Instead, he crafted a very intricate set of stories involving Dream of the Endless. While I don’t like the interior art so much, Gaiman’s writing and the beautiful covers grealty make up for it.

There are of course other books that I would recommend, but I think these 9 make a good start for anyone who’s interested :-).

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Andrew Robinson on Playing Elim Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I decided to indulge in a little sci-fi geekdom and looked at some coverage of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine online and found this gem from Andrew Robinson about his experiences playing one of my favorite characters of all time, Elim Garak, the “plain, simple tailor” — and I happen to concur:

Q: I’ve enjoyed your work ever since I saw you for the first time in “Dirty Harry,” and your portrayal of Garak on DS9 was one of the many reasons it was such an enjoyably complex and thought-provoking show. But for some reason DS9 is not the “popular” Trek, which I think is unfortunate. What’s your take on this?

AR: It’s not the most popular because it’s the most morally ambiguous. Whenever you have characters who are gray rather than black and white … Although they are more interesting, they are more difficult for people to get a handle on. I loved DS9 because they were gray, because the characters were not easily definable, but that’s not for everybody.

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