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Archive for June, 2008

So….Civil War is Null and Void? Secret Invasion 3 Reviewed.

29

Jun

Posted by Steve

SecretInvasionPromoArt.jpgMarvel’s done it again. I don’t mean they’ve knocked a homerun. I mean…well, we’ll get there.

I was completely blown away with Secret Invasion #1 and #2.  In fact, I said as much in my reviews for those books.

I love the idea of all the super heroes, registered and non-registered having to finally set aside their differences and overpower this threat from outer space.   I love the idea that the threads of this story have been woven through so many other Marvel stories in the past few years.  I especially appreciated the fact that Joey Q and crew took the stance that Iron Man was NOT going to be a Skrull.  I liked the idea that Marvel was painting themselves into a corner with his actions and had to figure out a way to endear him to not only fans (which is apparently happening in his book) but also to hi compatriots in the Marvel U.

Of course, everyone thought the same thing when Spider-Man unmasked himself in front of national media.   Then, a deal with the Devil later, POOF!  Everyone doesn’t know that Peter Parker is Spidey…AND HE’S NOT MARRIED!!!! (And no one really knows how the whole Civil War thingie worked out for him)(It was kind of a mini-crisis)

However, I digress.

Issue #3 of Secret Invasion was almost something that belonged in one of the filler issues that the Avengers titles have become.  While I’m on that subject, let me do a quick overview of the crossover issues I’ve read in the ongoing monthlies.

There has been some really neat stuff in the Avengers titles, including a really neat Beast/Wonder Man team up that leaves the reader wondering who of the two is really a Skrull.   There was also a story that filled us in on some of the events right after that cool dinosaur attack in issue #2.   There have been some misses, but I am pretty excited about the storyline in The Incredible Hercules that is going to pit Hercules and a rag tag band of gods (yes…it IS a rag tag band of gods) against the Skrulls as they try to overthrow Earth’s deities.   That could be a fun.

But, I’m here to talk about issue #3.

I was, honestly, a little underwhelmed with this issue.  After the huge ending of issue #2 with the arrival of all of the Super Skrulls, I was really looking forward to what was coming.  I didn’t expect the heroes to pull together, I didn’t expect victory, but I did expect to see super heroes I actually recognized fighting the battle in New York.  This didn’t happen though.  Of course it makes sense.  Seeing as all of the heavy hitters are in the savage land, somewhere unknown to us while their Skrull doubles are wondering around on Earth, or (in the case of FF) trapped in the Negative Zone and splattered all over a lab on a helicarrier somewhere, they are understandably indisposed at the moment.  However, I honestly didn’t recognize any of the Initiative recruits that were fighting the Super Skrulls (and getting their butts handed to them).  It was action packed, and there were some neat moments, but I just didn’t care…mainly because I only recognized like two of heroes.

Meanwhile, in the Savage Land, instead of being treated to more dueling between heroes and skrulls (without really knowing who the real deal is) we see Spider Woman (who we know is a Skrull because of one of the earlier crossover issues) corner Tony Stark, who is trying to recover from the virus in his armor…which has affected him physically as well.  We are treated to three pages of the fake-Spider Woman informing Stark that he’s a Skrull and just doesn’t know it.  Really?  THREE PAGES?  For something that we were promised would NOT be the case?  So either I was a) lied to or I b) had my time wasted on a totally pointless conversation when we could have been seeing more of the actual Invasion play out.  Either way, bad form.

So…while I still have faith in the concept, and I think that Bendis can pull it out in the end, I just wasn’t too take aback with issue #3 of Marvel’s big ’08 event.

So the final verdict?

Story 2 out of 5 -This felt more like one of the crossover issues than the actual main title.  Tony and “Jessica’s” conversation dragged on a bit too long for my tastes and wasn’t really a big reveal or shock…it just kind of was.  While I understand why it had to happen, Initiative grads fighting in Manhattan wasn’t the fight I was hoping for…but I have faith the big one is coming…if Bendis will actually write a full on fight and not a decompressed character piece with a fight to fill in between moments of angst.

Art 3 out 5 – I still think the art is really good.  I don’t think the fight scenes were handled the best in the world.  It was kind of hard to tell what was going on.  There wasn’t that much of a sense of scale when the giant Skrull and heroes were fighting, and again, not knowing who everyone was took away from my enjoyment of the art.

Cover Art 1 out 5 – I don’t mind telling you…I hate this cover.   It’s just dumb.  I hate the whole conversation this cover is based on, and given Tony Stark’s playboy ways, this is not a cover that should be on the third issue (or any issue) of a company’s bigget event of the year.

So, as you can see….as much as I like to be positive, I have to be honest, I’m really hoping issue 4 picks up the pace and we get to see some cool stuff.  It looks promising based on the sudden appearance of Nick Fury and his new Howling Commandos at the end of the book.  So we shall see.

When Steve Left Comics…When We Left Earth Reviewed.

22

Jun

Posted by Steve

Last week it caused a somewhat controversial post about our gumption as a society nowadays.  After the finale of the three part mini-series, I figured, “Hey, why not write a review?”  So…here it is.

Discovery has aired an awesome three part documentary over the past three weeks called WHEN WE LEFT EARTH.  The series chronicled NASA from it’s beginnings through the Moon landings right on up to the last shuttle launch.  The documentary features interviews with Astronauts, flight controllers, engineers, and all sorts of people involved with NASA and even their family member.

Last week when I climbed on my soapbox, I said that almost every geek at one time or another in their lives dreamed of being an astronaut, of breaking free of the bonds of gravity and going for a space walk, seeing other worlds, and eating those meals that come in toothpaste tubes.  I know as a chubby little kid I was fascinated by the idea of being able to go to space.  Maybe it was because of my love of Star Wars, or maybe it was just the daydreams of a kid with A.D.D. before we knew there was such a thing.  One thing was certain to me though, I loved everything about space.  I still do.

As a nine year old kid, a friend and I devoured everything we could about space shuttles and rockets in the wake of the Challenger tragedy.  We were bound and determined to figure out exactly what went wrong.  I was convinced it was Russians.  The Communists were finally tired of us being better than them at everything and had sabotaged our space shuttle and killed our heroes.  My heart sank when I learned that  it was negligence and a simple O-ring that caused the hopes and dreams of kids with stars in their eyes to nearly come to a screeching halt.   It was at least six months before I was convinced that Russians had nothing to do with it, and then I began to hope and pray that I would see a shuttle launch men and women into space again one day.

As a high school and college student, I reveled in the images taken by the Hubble Telescope.  I still love to just look at those amazing images and imagine what it must be like to be up close and personal with some of those galaxies, space clouds, and billions upon billions of stars.

So it was, with great interest that I tuned into The Discovery Channel three weeks ago to watch what was a promising documentary.  I thought the channel had peaked with documentaries when it aired Planet Earth.  How wrong I was!

I really enjoy documentaries and I don’t watch as many as I should.  The genre just fascinates me.  A documentary especially fascinates me when the filmmaker has no agenda other than giving the facts of the matter.  The truths revealed in such works are usually far more interesting than a documentary used as propaganda.

The only motive other than informing the viewer about the history of the NASA missions seemed to be to paint the men and women involved in the exploration of space as heroes of the world.  In a sense, they are.  Those men and women are the pioneers of our time.  They are the people who dare (and pardon the cliche) to boldly go where none have gone before.

From the beginning of the documentary, I was sucked in by the stories of the men who lived the earliest days of NASA.  These guys just sit around and talk about how dying was just a potential part of the job, and it’s what they loved to do.  Then, as more and more astronauts were interviewed, one thing was clear, being in space as left a distinctive mark on those who have ventured forth.

Gary Sinise narrates the doc, and does a fine job.  He has a certain even line delivery in all his roles that borders on lack of enthusiasm, but really conveys a restrained passion that lends itself well to the narration.

The music, with original themes composed by Richard Blair-Oliphant, has a perfect blend of patriotism, heroism, inspiration, and celebration.  As the main theme swells over a NASA achievement, it helps drive home the fact that the missions accomplished were huge undertakings and every mission objective achieved was indeed a great leap forward for mankind.

NASA has not been without it’s share of failures and tragedies, and the documentary does not shy away from these.  An honest look is given at each one, and whenever possible, people closest to the failures or tragedies spoke with first hand information about the experience of living through those times.  Most interesting was some declassified images and information of the Challenger tragedy in 1986.   A lump formed in my throat and once again, some 22 years later, tears welled in my eyes as they replayed President Regan’s speech to the nation in the aftermath of the tragedy.  Then, as they recapped the more recent Shuttle Columbia tragedy, I was once again hit with the feeling of sadness for the families and the friends of those brave men and women.  It was eerie to watch the moments of the tragedy unfold in the flight control room.  It also added a gravity to the situation not felt in the days of the actual happening a few years back.

However, while the documentary was honest and unflinching about these moments, it was more a celebration of the accomplishments of the space program and more importantly the human spirit.  I believe it was Buzz Aldrin who closed the doc with a statement paraphrased here:

The thing about humans is if we can imagine it, and if we’ll commit to it, we can accomplish anything.

This documentary made me feel that way and it was very interesting to watch and well put together.  If you missed it, I would encourage you to get the DVD’s when they’re available.  It’s that good.

Geek Out Loud Episode 13 is Live

21

Jun

Posted by Steve

The latest episode of Geek Out Loud is live! To listen, head over to Geek Out Podcast to listen and subscribe.

Better Than the Holiday Special

18

Jun

Posted by Steve

It’s a super busy eek for your’s truly. I’m not able to be online as much as usual this week. I guess I’m trying to live out my last post. Anywho, I was pretty tired when I got home tonight and I jumped on to the House of El Forums in the Geek Out Loud section where friend of the podcast and the website here, Kir Kanos, posted this vid. It made me laugh out loud when Lord Vader finally arrived. The only way it could have been better is if The Emperor would have joined in. Check it out below.

Climbing on My Soapbox – What Happened to Us?

15

Jun

Posted by Steve

I’ve been watching the new Discovery special WHEN WE LEFT EARTH.  The series is an amazing six hour documentary chronicling the history of The United States’ space program.  The first two episodes have aired with the final episode airing on Sunday, June 22.   The first two episodes tell the story of NASA from putting the first American in space right up through the moon missions and even skylab.

As I watch men risk their very lives in the name of exploration, I can’t help but think, this is the pinnacle of geekdom.  How many of us have spent days on end travelling through space on the Millenium Falcon, the USS Palomino, the Battlestar Galactica, or God forbid…The USS ENTERPRISE?  How many of us have watched in awe as a shuttle is launched?  How many of us have imagined just what it must be like to break these earthly bonds and soar among the stars?  Most, if not all of us have dreamed at one point or another of being an astronaut, or a scientist, or both.  The  very idea of space ignites a flame in our very psyche.

The thing that strikes me most about the earlier days of the space program however, is just how much intuition, initiative, imagination, and plain old hard work went into making the impossible possible.  Which leads me to my question…WHAT HAPPENED TO US?!?!

By “us” I mean all of us, people.  Apparently, there was a time when the word “can’t” didn’t exist in our lexicon.  Apparently, there was a time when (as R. Kelly once sang) if we could dream it, we could do it.

Now, we wait for someone else.  We look to a government we don’t trust to bail us out of everything from a rising oil prices to a runny nose.  Now, we sit and complain about all that is wrong and never offer any solutions.  We look at all that is wrong and never attempt to make it right, and it happens on every level of lives from our geekdom to the real issues.

What happened to imagination?  What happened to motivation?  What happened to the spirit of doing the impossible?

I honestly don’t know.  I know that (as the old saying goes) if we can land a man on the moon we should be able to….insert acceptable solution to random problem here.  I guess watching what people went through and still go through to expand the bounds of our imagination, I was a little sad that there are so few people thinking beyond themselves and the problems of the here and now.

Quite frankly, if any group of people should be making a difference, it’s geeks.  So, let me use this moment on my soapbox to encourage you to put down your Acts of Vengeance Special Edition Trade Paperback, put off watching the 6 hour extended cut of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, and (gasp) disconnect from the internet for a little bit to go do something for someone else, or even something to change your life for the better.

The next sound you here will be me crashing through my soapbox due to a rather high number that represents my weight.