According to Akemi, employees of Tokyo Disneyland are contractually prohibited from revealing how much they are paid to work at the theme park. If pressed, again according to Akemi, they will answer: “Mickey pays me in chocolate.”. When I expressed my doubts about this policy, she threw me a look that seemed to suggest I’d missed the most obvious point. “Of course,”she explained. “They still dreams!”
Well, my Snow Monkeys are off to a grand start in R.I.P. Stargate fantasy football league semi-final action with Roddy White putting up an impressive 25 fantasy points Thursday night. Looking good but I still face a tough match-up and I’m having second thoughts about some of my starters. Specifically, Dez Bryant. Do I start him on Saturday night against the Bucs or do I switch him out for C.J. Spiller in the flex? Should I roll the dice on Kevin Smith?
I continue my quest to for my new favorite comic book series, assiduously working my way through three issues of whatever is on the stands now, setting aside those books that fail to capture my interest, and forging ahead with those that do. To date, I’ve read 50 titles which have shaken out to 22 yeas and 28 nays. Understand that, more often than not, my decision to pass on a particular book has less to do with its quality than my personal tastes. Darker, single hero-focused titles, for instance, are more appealing to me as opposed to, say, magic or supernatural-themed books. Having said that, here’s how the last batch rated…
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1-3
While I enjoyed the Monster Squad premise, I wished that the players had been a little less on-the-nose. The team is literally made up of Frankenstein, a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy, and a water-breathing female amphibian reminiscent of Hellboy. Plenty of action and some nice little insights into our protagonist’s backstory, but the supporting players lack appeal. Two big thumbs up, however, for the concept of the Ant Farm, the S.H.A.D.E. HQ orbiting 2000 miles above Manhattan.
Verdict: Interesting but not quite enough to keep me on board.
Some terrific tech and SF concepts, battle sequences, and supporting characters are the pros. The cons? Our hero, Wolverine, who feels strangely out of place amidst the far-flung scifi trappings.
Verdict: If the series solely focused on those two eccentric bounty hunters, Paradox and Monark, I’d probably be on board. As a Wolverine title though it feels very un-Wolverinish.
Remember what I said about not being a big fan of magic or supernatural-themed books? Well, every once in a while, there’s an exception – and Deadman is one. The uniqueness of this books’ otherworldly elements coupled with some deft character insight, wonderful artwork by Bernard Chang, and an intriguing story by Paul Jenkins totally won me over.
Verdict: Surprisingly, two big thumbs up for Deadman.
Ultimate X-Men #1-3
Hmmm. Bit of a role-reversal here. I went into Deadman fully expecting not to like it – and ended up really enjoying Paul Jenkins’ take on Boston Brand. On the other hand, I sat down to Ultimate X-Men fully expecting to love it (I enjoyed the other Ultimate titles in addition to Nick Spencer’s work on other titles) and ended up less than enthused. The fact that a number of our players are the offspring of already established major characters in the Marvel universe sometimes made this book feel like a Junior version of the Big Books.
Verdict: Would have preferred a book that focused on an alternate version of the bigger name X-Men.
I’m a huge fan of the vilains-as-heroes motif that worked so well in Thunderbolts and Secret Six. Suicide Squad follows along the same lines but comes up short in comparison. The problem for me is that picking up this book on the heels of Gail Simone’s run on Secret Six, it’s hard not to miss Simone’s careful character construction, or take issue with some of the perplexing changes in some of the players. Amanda Waller seems to have undergone a complete physical transformation while Deadshot (aka Floyd Lawton) is lacking in his trademark charm and suave demeanor. Finally, while I like the idea of having King Shark as part of the team for comic relief, it does stretch credulity that anyone in their right mind would consider him a good fit for covert ops.
Verdict: Not for me.
I’ve always felt that big, Earth-in-peril storylines worked best as crossovers. Faced with a planetary scale threat, it’s inevitable that Earth’s other heroes are going to get involved. And, often, when they do, the focus shifts from the title’s main character(s) to the guest stars. In certain cases – say, if the heroes of a particular book are well-established enough – it’s not that big a deal. In the case of Annihilators, however, I felt the focus on the guest stars and the ensuing action didn’t really leave room for much insight into the first team. Still, these big, cosmic-level stories are the kind writers Abnett and Lanning excel at and fans of the genre won’t be disappointed.
Verdict: To be honest, I prefer my superheroic stylings on a much smaller scale.
Writer Greg Hurwitz and Artist Szymon Kudranski team up for a wonderful character study of one of Batman’s most infamous villains: Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin. Through the use of flashbacks, they juxtapose the trials of the sensitive, vulnerable young Oswald in the face of constant familial bullying to the no-less sensitive and vulnerable modern-day Penguin. We glimpse both sides of the coin here, our villain at his most callous and cruel in his response to personal sleights while, proving incredibly loving in his relationship with his mother and the blind woman he romances. Somewhat reminiscent of Jason Aaron’s one-shot, Joker’s Asylum: Penguin, but with further depth afforded by the five-issue run.
Verdict: Loved it. Another favorite. It’s a shame it’s a limited series.
The running gag, of course, is that the JLI is, for all intents and purposes, the B Team. Problem is that, as much as I like Booster Gold and Guy Gardner, joined with the less-than-impressive likes of Vixen, Ice, Godiva, Rocket Red, and August General in Iron, the JLI really does read like JLA lite. At times, it all feels very politically correct and careful.
Verdict: It’s a pass for me on JLI.
Not much to report on the Maximus front. My boy continues to feel very down. He ate a little today – some chicken pate Akemi made for him, mixed with a little water to form a paste he could swallow with less difficulty. It seems he’s somewhat interested in eating but having trouble because of the melanoma in his mouth. Time is ticking down toward my Montreal departure and I’m at a loss as to how to proceed. I don’t want to leave him with my dog-sitter in this state and I don’t like the prospect of abandoning him at the vet for 11 days. I’m calling Air Canada tomorrow to see if I can transport him back east with me, carry-on, if I have to.