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24th Mar. 2006 | 01:43 am

  1. The kind of team pathos they used to have on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Which makes it appropriate Joss Whedon succeeded Brian K. Vaughan on the title.
  2. In a manner very similar to “The Yoko Factor,” a season 4 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  3. Not being a Bat-scholar, I wonder if the writers use a consistent map before or beyond this storyline or whether they just keep using the same names randomly, assigning them to geographic features at their whim. If they do use a consistent map, when did they start?
  4. Although I sense the hand of editor Roy Thomas in tying him to the Bird People, mentioned long ago in an issue of X-Men written by Thomas.
  5. Not in the style of the Impressionists, obviously.
  6. As a side note: Rucka and Lark miss a bet over the headlines concerning the Batman / GCPD contretemps; they went with “GCPD to Bat: Go to Hell!!” A better hed would have been: “GPCD to Bat: Drop Dead,” mirroring a New York Daily News headline after President Ford rejected a federal bailout of the bankrupt New York city government in 1975 (“Ford to City: Drop Dead”). Also: two exclamation marks in the subhed? Only a tabloid would do that.
  7. Not only as Bendis writes Jessica, but as he writes everyone.
  8. And also has Batman tell a pair of thugs, “Obviously, you’ve never read The Iliad” after smuggling himself into the power plant inside a dresser that was to be burned for fuel. Obviously, neither has Batman. His reference is to the Trojan Horse, in which the Greeks hid inside a huge wooden horse the Trojans then pulled into the city, but Homer didn’t mention the Trojan Horse in The Iliad, which ends before the fall of Troy.
  9. Although I love the Faceless One’s look.
  10. Yes, I know there have been plenty of Green Goblin stories since then. But they haven’t really been that good. And Norman Osborn is still dead, as far as I’m concerned.
  11. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong about a team up between Spider-Man and Nova; they are (or were) both teenage heroes. The Nova concept is Spider-Man crossed with Green Lantern. But the actual crossover doesn’t play to their strengths; they’re out of the city, there’s a wanton uncle killing (defining “wanton” as “no one learns a lasting life lesson, like ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ or ‘Cheese will bind you up something fierce’”), and the story is a mystery. Neither character should ever be in a straight mystery. Peter, God love him, is no detective, and Nova’s just dumb.
  12. It’s not as bad as his Fantastic Four run in that regard. Dr. Pym’s muted punk flip recalls Johnny Storm’s earlier, more exaggerated version of the same but is by no means as bad. The Scarlet Witch’s shorter cut isn’t an improvement on her long-held long, curly hair, but it doesn’t come close to the horror that was Sue Storm’s she-mullet.
  13. Interestingly, Byrne was writing Wolverine at the time and seemed to ignore everything about the crossover except for the Acts of Vengeance banner on the cover. The X-Men were big enough to ignore the crossover completely.
  14. I want U-Foes Heroclix. I’m not going to get them, but if Wizkids puts “Thor Girl” in the latest set, I think I have the right to ask.
  15. Rorschach is my favorite of the Watchmen Babies, for the record.
  16. As you can see in the comments, Gene Ha disputes that the background details are throwaway jokes, stating they are important to the themes of the series. I can understand that, in part; drawing Power Pack or the Powerpuff Girls as juvenile delinquents make a point. But showing Dr. Strange and Dr. Fate in the background at a hospital or wheeling Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton through another part of the hospital seems more like an in-joke to me. I suppose you can say the world of Neopolis has reduced these former heroes to set dressing and nine-to-fivers, but personally, I get more enjoyment out of picking out the details and seeing them as little nods to the obsessives out in the audience. The more you ask readers to take those details seriously, the more you run the risk of pulling readers out of the world you’ve constructed; the people who can pick out obscure DC or Marvel characters also know they don’t belong together or with Neopolis characters.
  17. Yes, I hate the word “frenemy too. But it fits here, and I don’t think it will damn my writer’s soul too much to use it.
  18. My argument has more flaws now than it did then. Strangely, there will be a v. 2, and v. 2 lumps together many obscure Marvel horror characters.
  19. Also All Saint’s Day and my father’s birthday. My father used to suggest it was not a coincidence that his birthday fell on All Saints Day. Even as a young child, without a developed knowledge of theology, I knew that was not entirely true.
  20. Along with “April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory with desire,” “It was a pleasure to burn,” and “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
  21. Not to brag — although I am bragging — I also memorized the first two stanzas of “The Raven.” This has been useless to me so far in my life, and I am sure it will remain so. But I remember the day I memorized it so clearly, one of the truly indelible days of my youth … perhaps the most so. Columbus Day 1988, a chilly autumn day, and I was home alone. I remember doing everything possible to put off writing a book report, although the book in question is forgotten. (The Great Brain by J.D. Fitzgerald? It’s possible, although doubtful.) Playing in the autumn sunshine. Memorizing “The Raven” while sitting in a patch of sunshine, because it wasn’t all that warm within the house, and we hadn’t lit the stove for the winter yet. Watching the Dodgers beat the Mets in Game 5 of the NLCS. Looking through the Beckett guide to get a completely erroneous idea of how much my baseball card collection was worth. Eventually writing the book report, longhand, in blue ink, after my parents had come home, and doubling the assigned maximum length. (My way of saying “choke on it,” I think. I didn’t like book reports because I thought they were meant to catch students who didn’t read the book, and that wasn’t me.) I think it rained in the evening, but I might be confusing that with later in the week. I know it was on a day the Dodgers were playing that postseason.
    It’s very real to me. I can almost feel that scruffy dining room carpet. I see my breath in the early October sun. I can remember that massive TV in the living room. And every day, I have the feeling I’d rather be doing something else than what I’ve been assigned.
  22. I read the word in Marvel’s own copy. I don’t mean anything by it, and I can’t find it, so I suppose I shouldn’t use it. But I found it funny; if you’re a villain and are getting your face punched in, it hardly matters to you if your opponent is a feminist or a reactionary, and fans should presumably care more about the character than labels. (It is fair to say fans could like her because she embodies feminist principles, of course.)
    Please ignore this note.
  23. Yes, I know Blagojevich is going to federal prison and Joliet is a state prison. My joke is incompatible with your "knowledge," and I refuse to see why that should matter.
  24. A Bendis crossover. Shortened to Bend-over, as in, “Alpha Flight and the New Warriors both had to Bend-over for Civil War, although ironically, they got it from different ends of the story.”
  25. That the idea was later used as the secret identity of the Red Hood makes it no less stupid or ill-advised.
  26. The Hays Office would have had a fit if the movie had been more explicit, but they did get in some hints. Interestingly, the movie — copying from the book — had a part in transforming a word that meant “homosexual” to mean something else.
    Hammett’s editor at Black Mask, which serialized the novel, had his suspicions about the slang Hammett used. Sometimes he didn’t know what it meant, exactly, and that worried him. Hammett wanted to use “gunsel,” a word that meant “a young homosexual male who has an older male partner” but knew it would get edited out if he left it alone. So he inserted “gooseberry lay” in the story as well. “Gooseberry lay” was a hobo term, meaning something easily stolen, but it sounds dirty. The editor removed “gooseberry lay” but let “gunsel” stand.
    But like that editor, people had no idea what “gunsel” meant. Since Spade uses the word to refer to Wilmer, a tough — well, not so tough — with a gun, the word was interpreted to mean “gunman.” The movie only cemented the association. The new definition stuck; the old, always obscure version doesn’t really exist any more.
  27. There’s part of me that wishes they could have thrown Joe Madureira into the crossover instead of Marc Silvestri, who drew the one-shot that starts the crossover. Madureira is one of the hot X-Men artists from the ‘90s, and his style would have fit better with the less representational Ramos and Bachalo.
  28. What does Themiscyra have to teach us — embrace BDSM? Give women shields and spears? Really, all Themiscyra has going for it is isolation, homogeneity, and tall, beautiful women — so, basically, the same as Sweden.
  29. Some sort of broad evolution parable? I dunno.
  30. And what’s with the diaphanous wrap Emma wears over her bikini in the Savage Land? Given that Scott describes the area as “clothing optional,” and you wouldn’t think delicates would hold up well in a dinosaur preserve, I’m unsure what Choi is thinking. A towel … a towel I could see, but that would have the distinct disadvantage of denying readers a thong shot. Well, as long as Choi had a reason …
    While we’re on the fashion issue: look at that cape on the cover. It’s attached to the cups of the bustier; that would never work. The extra weight would pull down the bustier, which already has enough to support, given Emma’s natural (or artificial, as I don’t think continuity has established it yet) endowments. There has to be a limit to what unstable molecules can do: they’re not magic, after all.
  31. The Flashback (-1) issue of Amazing Spider-Man had Don Rigoletto being the “Boss of Bosses” of New York organized crime before Wilson Fisk. Still, it’s an obscure reference, so I don’t think it’s worth worrying about. And it could still be explained by some enterprising No-Prize seeker.
  32. The “Previously” page at the beginning of the book says Murdock was Bont’s lawyer, but Murdock refuses to be Bont’s lawyer in “Golden Age.” Sloppy, sloppy. Still, a minor mistake.
  33. Of course they’re Catholics. Even if Daredevil weren’t a Catholic, they’d still be Catholics. The symbology and ritual of Catholicism is very attractive for writers, and besides, there are only three kinds of Christians in fiction / movies: Catholics, wacky Baptists, and singing Baptists. Singing Baptists are mostly Black, and wacky Baptists are Southern / rural. Therefore, a story set in New York City that has Christians and doesn’t specifically need the characters to be Black must include Catholics. (Jews and increasingly Muslims exist as well, but they aren’t Christian, which means “normal.”)
  34. Christian miracles excepted, and as those are best left with a touch of faith to ratify them, they aren’t usually as tangible as a demon baby that people vomit up.
  35. Yes, I know I’ve forgotten somebody. Let me know who, so I can kick myself.
  36. Hope recycling might not be available in some areas. Check with your local Obama campaign worker for details.
  37. Probably steroids because, let’s face it, a man doesn’t get built that way with weights alone, and those things help you heal. If they can solve Mark McGwire’s horrible back problems, why can’t they solve a little vampirism?
  38. That’s not true, of course. Comic fans like a lot of lawyers: She-Hulk, Wolff and Byrd, etc. But Daredevil’s the one who’s been around continuously since the Silver Age, and he’s worked for Spider-Man, Ka-Zar, and the Fantastic Four. So maybe he’s the Marvel superheroes’ favorite lawyer. But that’s less fun to say.
  39. This is probably the only time Daredevil has kissed Mephisto, but I wouldn’t bet on it. If only Mephisto had met the same end as some of Daredevil’s other loves … Suicide, death by Bullseye, I don’t care.
  40. Not so inevitable, it seems; the pair never meet after the end of The Golden Compass. It would have been more interesting than what did happen, though.
  41. Do they still publish Reader’s Digest Condensed Books? I can’t imagine they do, but some economics (and behaviors) are beyond me.
  42. Some might say that he creates his own problems, but that doesn’t seem fair; his father is equally to blame for the Vankos, spiting the senator is in the defense of private property, and Justin Hammer is, well, an incompetent tool.
  43. Although Tony and Rhodey’s tactical sense seems flawed. Why not take to the air and use their suits’ maneuverability?
  44. An OLI is an Obligatory Love Interest — that person of the opposite sex inserted into a screenplay merely to serve as an object of the protagonist’s quest / lust. The first OLI I noticed was Jolely Richardson in The Patriot, who hung around at the fringes of the movie until the inevitable pairing off at the end.
  45. Not by Brian Michael Bendis, though. Good God, that sounds awful. Maybe by Jeff Parker in Agents of Atlas.
  46. To be fair, Power Man had two Essentials of his solo series, and Iron Fist had one.
  47. Mayer claims that it was meant to be funny, and reviewers found it funny. I have my doubts, but I will admit humor often ages badly. Maybe that sort of thing really was funny. In any event, I don’t think it has much of a legacy as a humor book.
  48. I was bitterly disappointed by Wild Wild West the first time through. The original TV series was pretty cool and ahead of its time; the movie was awful, despite Will Smith, Kevin Kline, and Kenneth Branagh. Why is it that if you suggest even something slightly weird about a Western, it all turns to crap? Until Jon Favreau’s Cowboys vs. Aliens comes out next year. There’s no way that can let me down!
  49. Martin’s faces all seem to be an odd shape, albeit different odd shapes — unlike Quitely, who has the same, disturbing shape for all his faces.
  50. OK, technically they were dialogues but only in the Socratic sense — one person has the answers, and the other has to ask questions.
  51. Only in comparison to the rest. Lindskold didn’t seem quite as loud or comfortable as the other panelists, but it’s not as if she sat there mute or gave an abnormally short speech.
  52. Sanderson never brought this up during the panel. It’s just what I remember about the man. Frankly, he can finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, give me a free book signed to “Marcel” (just like I asked), or even win a Nobel Prize, and I’d still remember him as Ken Jennings’s roommate first.
  53. Also, Decompression Fest is the name of the most boring rock festival ever, just edging out anything headlined by Coldplay.
  54. Although my wife accused the first story in Centerburg Tales of being racist toward Native Americans — I was not so offended — and I quickly grew tired of Grandpa Hercules in that book. He is somewhat racist, and I have no patience for storytellers who amuse themselves by telling small children tall tales without letting the children in on the joke. It smacks of amusing yourself at the expense of someone else’s ignorance, and it’s made even worse by doing it to children — it will shape their world view, and eventually, they will know you were laughing at them, not with them. And that pleasure should be reserved for when they’re adults and have a fighting chance to realize you’re having them on.
  55. Jaime does not fall in love with a Mexican girl, for those of you wondering. Neither does his friend Paco. Or his other friend, Brenda, for that matter.
  56. The city in Egypt pronounces the “ai” part of the name with a long I, of course. For the town in Illinois, the “ai” is pronounced with a long A sound. The locals in Illinois sometimes use a short E sound instead, though.
  57. Well, Southern Illinois, at least. Given the population density of the region, that qualifies as “in the area,” even if Cairo is at the southern end of the region and I grew up at more of the northeastern corner.
  58. Superman has the advantage of a human supporting cast he cares about very much and can be put in reasonable jeopardy. Also, he has always had normal human desires and interactions: an attraction to Lois, a human family, a real job, a real way of interacting with the Earthers. All Norrin Radd has is a love, unconsummated, for a woman named Shalla-Bal and a planet named Zenn-La. Surfer is ever aloof from humanity, alternately contemptuous and pitying.
  59. Admittedly, it wasn’t a free review copy; I won a random drawing at the site. Interestingly, I didn’t receive an e-mail informing me I had won; the book just showed up in my mailbox one day. A pleasant surprise, to be sure. (An e-mail could have been caught by Gmail’s spam filters; I’m finding them a little too picky at the moment.)
  60. Bane is described in Novik’s notes to the artist as a “typical mongrel Midwesterner.” I understand what Novik means, and I know the note was probably not meant for publication, but it’s still somewhat offensive. More offensive is that Bane’s racial characteristics in the art are indistinguishable from those of Leah’s crush, Paul, who’s supposed to be of French-Arabic descent.
  61. Although Daredevil might have the advantage there. Heather Glenn, Karen Page ... does Elektra count? While Wolverine has Mariko and Jean Grey, plus women who get dredged up for an issue or two. I think Daredevil has a slim lead, but we all know a rampage by Sabretooth could put Wolverine ahead at any moment.
  62. Despite what it says on the cover, however, Amazon lists the creators of Chase as Dan Curtis Johnson, Kelly Moench (who wrote the Batman #500 story included in the book), and Various (illustrator) as creators. Well done, Amazon! This time it’s your listing that’s egregiously unhelpful, and not your search engine!
  63. Oh, it’s hard to be a leader. Take Scott Summers, Cyclops of the X-Men — please. Scott has had beautiful women in love with him his entire life, and when his first love dies, a clone stepped into her place until the original returned from the dead. If his current girlfriend, Emma Frost, dies, you might as well start reserving a place in his bed for one of her clones, the Stepford Cuckoos.
  64. Without the ridiculous accent, of course.
  65. This is a lie. I don’t try. I don’t care.
  66. Yes, I know Ducard filled largely the same role in post-Crisis continuity. Now you know it too, if you didn’t already. Now, are there more of us, or more of the people who think of Liam Neeson when they hear “Henri Ducard”?
  67. While reading The Helm, I imagined Matt’s voice sounding like Dermott Fictel, the most unlikeable character on the Venture Brothers.
  68. This has its own problems, of course; Peter would become linked with that other identity. Best not to think about it too hard, I suppose.
  69. Using one of the Spider titles for Peter or Ben Reilly, the Spider clone, would have been the obvious way to prevent backlash during the Clone Saga. (That, and not declaring Peter to be the clone.) Surely three Ben Reilly titles would have been enough, and one title could have been left to family man Peter Parker in Portland, perhaps being a hero in a different identity.
  70. Or maybe an all-night walk through the park. It’s not entirely clear.
  71. Still, in #277 Bereet justifies her inclusion by slapping an increasingly unreasonable Betty, who wants to abandon Bruce / Hulk after he’s been captured by the U-Foes just because he still wants to be the Hulk.
  72. I also have doubts about the long-term viability of Spider-Man being a member of the Fantastic Four and Avengers as well as doing his own crimefighting, but I’m sure it’s not meant to be a long-term status quo.
  73. Between the writing and posting of this review, Spider-Man has marched on: Flying Blind, Trouble on the Horizon, and Ends of the Earth have all come out in trade paperback since then.
  74. Spectacular Spider-Man v. 2, if you’re interested; the footnote doesn’t mention which volume. It has been reprinted in Spectacular Spider-Man, v. 4: Disassembled.
  75. Do comic fans expect characters introduced in other media to make their way to comics any more? I'm not sure they do.
  76. The name is never explained. I was halfway through the book before I stopped expecting a character named “Nyx.”
  77. As hard as it is to believe, only four X-books existed in 1990. Five years later, that number had more than doubled. Today, despite the number of mutants being greatly reduced, Marvel still publishes more than a dozen X-books.
  78. Ha!
  79. Vision and the Scarlet Witch didn’t last either, but that was because John Byrne didn’t like robots marrying women.
  80. You’ll eat Wonder Granny’s cookies, or she’ll sock you in the jaw. Or cry about being afraid of dying. Or admit to a crime. It’s tough to tell with Wonder Granny, who is kinda awful.
  81. Somehow he escapes the lasting label of “wifebeater.” Hank Pym softly weeps in the corner.
  82. That’s presuming he still has bones and hasn’t tinkered with his DNA to remove them in favor of, I don’t know, an exoskeleton or a cartilaginous skeletal structure or something.
  83. Amusingly, “enigmatic” is the one-word entry on Scrier in The Jackal Files one-shot. It’s also one of two amusing moments in an otherwise useless book; the other is when Jackal mocks Dr. Curt Connors for thinking reptilian DNA was the answer to his problems.
  84. True, he was aiming at Spider-Man, but I see no reason to quibble.
  85. The lack of legal verisimilitude is astonishing. Peter is on trial in New York for a crime he allegedly committed in Utah. Mary Jane is forced to testify by the prosecution even though a spouse cannot be forced to testify against the defendant. (The defense doesn’t even cross examine her.) Her being called to the stand shocks both her and Ben, so either she wasn’t on the prosecution’s witness list (which should have prompted an objection by the defense) or the defense lawyer has done an awful job prepping the defendant. The prosecution presents its case in less than a day — or maybe the prosecution decides to speechify in the middle of testimony without comment from the presiding judge or defense attorney. Honestly, it’s like they didn’t even consult a lawyer.
  86. Although with cameras on everyone’s phones, excessive documentation of our pasts is becoming more and more common. I will be interested in seeing whether this ease of recording and ethos of “pics, or it didn’t happen” will lead future generations to question their memories (and certain types of documentation) more often. Memory is an unreliable, tricksy beast. The mind reassembles the past for its own convenience, not for reliability’s sake. The sooner we learn to come to grips with that, the better off we will be.
  87. Protestants widely outnumber Catholics in Texas. Both Baptist and Catholic churches claim about 4.5 million members in Texas; although there are slightly more Catholics than Baptists, if you add in the 1.3 million Methodists, 1.5 million non-denomination evangelicals, 400 thousand Church of Christers, 270 thousand Lutherans, and 670 thousand Pentecostals, it’s not even close. (Interestingly, Texas also claims to have more Muslims than any other state as well.)
    And did you know America has more Christians professing to be Protestants than Catholics? It’s true! (It’s only slightly more, but it is more.) Not that you would know it by media representations of Christianity, which mostly ignores Lutherans (8 million), Presbyterians (6 million), and Methodists (5.5 million). It also mostly ignores sane Baptists; Baptists make up a quarter of American Christians (38 million), and most of these are not the insane Baptists / evangelicals TV and movies use when they want straw men and women to show crazy, crazy religion.
  88. I would have loved Yost to link the Houstonians’ acceptance of the property destruction to the stereotypical law-and-order Texan attitude. An oversimplification, I know, but it would have amused me.
  89. In 1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #5, Dr. Doom alerts Spider-Man through a “spider-wave transmitter,” using a spider to find the wavelength Spider-Man’s powers work on, but that has been wisely ignored.
  90. Dalrymple and Milonogiannis are co-credited for the story for their issues; Roy also gets a story co-credit for #6.
  91. I know: it’s possible the editors work at Lore part-time or as volunteers, and thus they are fitting their editorial duties into their regular working schedules. I like my explanation, as it has the benefit of being solipsistic.
  92. One thing Green Goblin helped me appreciate, however, is that Phil’s heel turn in recent Amazing Spider-Man issues didn't come out of nowhere. Phil has always lacked a moral center, and he always been a bit of a creepazoid when it comes to the ladies. (Loners also helps to show Phil’s descent into villainy / creepiness.)
  93. Whatever I think about Angel Face and Steel Slammer’s value, they ultimately were just as successful as Purge and Gatesmith. None of them ever appeared outside this series.
  94. Evidently I’m four years behind, as the last Inhumans-related story I read was 2009’s War of Kings.
  95. Technically, yes: Fantastic Four, v. 1: New Departure, New Arrivals. However, nowhere is it mentioned in the book that FF v. 2 #1-2 are in that book. Also, FF #3 hasn’t been reprinted anywhere at the moment. I suppose it eventually will be — a FF by Matt Fraction or FF by Fraction and Allred, I’m guessing — but that supposes FF will continue. If FF comes to a crashing end, will it ever be reprinted? According to Paul O’Brien, its sales are already below the previous volume’s and falling. In any event, what does it say about FF #3 that Marvel didn’t see the need to reprint it? Was it that disposable?
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