Monday, December 30, 2013

Mutant Elf number 5 page 18

I am posting this here because the regular Mutant Elf website is down at the moment.  Hopefully, there isn't a loss of quality.  Since you cannot look back at previous pages, I shall summarize: The Mutant Elf and Human friend (Myzla and Tom) were visited by a fairy who came to Earth searching for a lost fairy gem.  The group tracked the gem to the Children's section of the Public Library, where it is interacting with the fantastic writings in the book to create magical constructs that are dangerous, and perhaps, nefarious!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Showcase: Legion of Super-Heroes vol 1

My recent reading has included DC Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 1.  This collection consists of the earliest tales of my favorite DC Comics team, published in titles such as Adventure Comics, Superboy, and even Jimmy Olsen from 1958 to 1964.  First off, I will admit that even though I am such a big fan of the Legion, I didn’t rush out to buy this when it was first released, and there’s a reason for this.  These comics are from an era that I’m not a big fan of, when comics were over-simplified and the Marvel style begun by Stan Lee in Fantastic Four #1 (1961) hadn’t seeped over to DC.  What I mean to say is, these are definitely comics from a different time, and some of the stories contained within are rather goofy.  However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t goofy fun!  It just means you have to keep in mind the era and the conventions thereof, at least as far as DC comics were at the time.

It is, certainly, fun to see how the Legion got its start.  The group of superheroes form the future seek out the young Clark Kent to join their club.  Back in this era, Superboy had incredible powers, and wasn’t stoppable except by kryptonite, so travelling in time was no problem for him.  The superhero teens catch some bad guys and play tricks on each other during their initiation ceremonies, and the ranks of the Legion continue to grow as new characters are introduced.  The writing is rather bland in most of these tales.  The Legionnaires don’t differ significantly in personality, and they are barely introduced except for their respective powers.  In fact, I’d say the tales of Polar Boy’s substitute heroes are more interesting, as the subs deal with being rejected from the Legion while still dedicating themselves to helping out.  The best development of the actual Legion I think is Lightning Lad, who sacrifices himself to save Saturn Girl, and Saturn Girl when she attempts to return the favor. 

There are many strange things in these stories, and I some tales involving Jimmy Olsen that aren’t told here.  Jimmy’s first adventure with the group in this volume makes it obvious he already knows the group, but how is not told. Jimmy has many goofy alter-egos in this era of comics, and he becomes a Legion Reserve as Elastic Lad.  Another strange occurrence is how Star Boy and Ultra Boy have changes in their powers with no justification, just explanations of what their new powers are.  Star Boy began as a Superboy copy, while initially Ultra Boy had only vision powers.  Then they change to their more classic versions, but without a real explanation.  My favorite bit of strangeness is Supergirl.  When she first appears she interacts with the adult Legion group.  This makes sense as she is a contemporary of Superman, not his teenage incarnation of Superboy.  Later, she is seen hanging out with Superboy and the teen Legion.  This would mean Superman met her before her “met” her as an adult when she first appeared in Superman comics.  Well, continuity wasn’t a big deal back then, anyway.  It’s also funny because we see Brainiac 5 join the Legion as an adult, then later he’s with the group and a teen! 

In brief, the writing is fun and goofy at times.  It’s never really great.  It is sometimes rather awful by any standard, but I don’t think it is bad enough that I wouldn’t recommend this volume to a Legion fan, or someone interested in comics from this era.

But wait!  I’ve only spoken of writing so far.  I must mention the art in this volume.  Simply put, the art is amazing!  Mostly due to the contributions of Curt Swan and Jim Mooney, who are absolutely fabulous! But I also have to give proper credit to John Forte, an artist whom I am not familiar with.  I thought he started off a bit shaky but by the end has gotten the team down just about perfectly!  If you like good comic book art, this volume is a must!!  Any weakness in stories is more than made up for with the great line work on these pages!  I have volume 2 in my reading queue and I’m looking forward to continuing the adventures of these teen heroes from the future!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Out With Dad 3.02 :Dining In & Out

Well, since I haven’t quite finished the Legion of Super-Heroes book I’m wanting to comment on, I think I’ll spend some more time discussing the award-winning webseries Out With dad. Let’s see…when I left off episode 3.01 had ended and Rose was going to go to Claire’s house for a dinner…date?

I’ll take a break here and mention that season 3 really is the best season yet!  Much of which is the better-than ever performances from the main cast, who just get better and better.  The production values of this show are incredible, also.  Though I have no real idea how to make a TV series, I don’t see a drop in quality between Out With Dad and the network shows on the regular tube.  Finally, the writing is practically perfect in every way.  The story is going places I thought it would go in ways I never foresaw. And that’s really cool!

Episode 3.02 is a rather humorous episode.  Probably the lightest of the first block of season 3.  Nathan’s joy over planning a romantic get-together with the lovely Angela, and his interaction with Rose about her attire for the evening help set up the light atmosphere.  I think I’ll discuss the Nathan/Angela relationship first.  Things seem to be progressing very well between the “senior couple” on the show.  We find from their conversation that they’ve been rather active in the off-season, except that they haven’t progressed to the point where they meet each other’s families.  Except for the big problem that Nathan is still afraid to tell Rose he’s dating.  Which he really needs to do!  Of course, we the audience know that Rose knows anyhow, which may just cause more problems when he does tell her, or she tells him.

Now on to the “junior couple”.  Claire’s family is great!  They are all just enough like Claire that they do seem like one big family.  And little brother Brian is certainly my favorite new character!  He’s very realistically annoying and know-it-all, nosy and fun to watch.  Claire’s mom’s clunky efforts to support her daughter are also fun to watch.  Her methods are different from the quiet support of Nathan, but she really does want her daughter to be happy in the end.  And Claire is her usual bubbly self, while we also get to see her more introspective side.  Claire is louder and less intellectual than Rose, but she’s also passionate and dedicated to a cause she believes in.  One of the reasons Rose and Claire are such a nice couple is how they balance each other in ways.  For instance, Rose may be honors level in academics, but Claire knows more about LGBT history.

I enjoyed the dinner sequence for the laughs stemming from the awkwardness.  The couch scene was extremely well done, also.  The switches in the conversation were interesting and natural, and the subtle way the girls come closer to each other was great.  And then the interruption when they finally kiss…oh boy!

Bu that’s better discussed next time.  I think I’ve written enough for today!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Out With Dad 3.01 "Starting Out"

If you didn’t know, season 3 of the award-winning webseries Out With Dad has begun!  This is my favorite webseries, and I can’t say this enough: you should watch it, and share it with your friends! Anyway, creator/writer/director/all around good guy Jason Leaver has decided to release the first section of season 3 of Out With Dad by posting a new episode every day!  This creates difficulty for me, since I enjoy writing my ruminations concerning each episode after I watch them, and there’s no way I’m reviewing an episode a day!  I have to sleep sometime, after all!  So I guess I’ll just start here with episode 3.01 and see how far I get before I decide to call it a day.  Or a week.  Whatever.

Episode 3.01, “Starting Out” begins by establishing some information about what’s happening with our main characters, Rose and Dad (Nathan).  This marks the debut of Jonathan Robbins as Nathan.  I’d say the transition is as seamless as possible.  It’s never totally seamless to replace an actor in a leading role, but Jonathan and Kate Conway (Rose) show an easy chemistry and I think I’m going to like Jonathan. The opening scene with Rose and Nathan also shows that they are almost moved into their new home, and Nathan’s relationship with Angela has progressed except that he still hasn’t mentioned to Rose that he’s dating.  Rose totally knows.  But Nathan hasn’t told her yet.  Also, Rose appears to be totally smitten with Claire, whether she realizes it or not.

Vanessa’s plight in this episode is more dramatic and more interesting to me.  We get to see her Dad more, and hear his views of how her life is going.  There have been comments from viewers that her dad (Steven) needs to be more assertive.  He seems to have done so here…but not in a positive way.  He mostly repeats the views his wife expressed last season, that Vanessa needs to stay away from her crazy gay friend and remember that she has a BOYfriend!  The fact that their daughter is miserable and lonely doesn’t matter because they’re saving her SOUL!  HER SOUL!!!

Also, Nathan designed Rose a blossom shirt.  This is to show support for her, and we’ll see more of this shirt later this season. He also mentions wanting to be supportive but not always knowing what to do.  At school, Claire and Vanessa have a brief encounter, and Vanessa overhears Claire and Rose plan a date.  Or is it a date?  It’s dinner. Overall, this episode is very good, though it’s mostly set-up.  I know we’ll get to the really interesting stuff as the season progresses!  The Out With Dad cast and crew have done a wonderful job.  I totally seriously believe this series is as good as anything I’ve seen from major networks this year!  And I guess that’s about all I have time to talk about today.  I’ll say more about this season in a week or two.

One last thing, we get the return of Rose’s astral self. For a perfect comment! I love it!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is my favorite new TV show! I have read a lot of reactions from many people about this new show, and they have been very mixed.  It seems the show is not “super-heroish” enough for a lot of people, and just plain boring to some.  I’ll try to explain why I like it so much.

First, I remember S.H.I.E.L.D. as the Supreme Headquarters of International Espionage Law-enforcement Division, though that is not the acronym being used currently.  I don’t know if this was made up for the movies (it was first used in Iron Man) or if it was changed in the comics.  I don’t even remember what the new acronym stands for.  I did not look up the original, I’ve had that memorized for many many years. This isn’t the only difference form the classic comics.  There aren’t any classic comic characters among the main cast.  Coulson, the leader, was created for the Marvel movies and the rest made their debut on the TV show.  However, I’ve never been too big on S.H.I.E.L.D. lore, and only Nick Fury has ever been more than a periphery character in the comics.  To sum up: the differences between the comics and TV don’t bother me at all.

I find the characters quite fun!  My favorite are “FitzSimmons”, the joined name for the resident scientists.  They have a funny way of finishing each other’s sentences with talk only Reed Richards could follow.  Coulson leads the group, trying to be a teacher and supporter while being haunted by the fact that he’s alive.  May hasn’t done too much but be cool, but the point of her character is to be quiet, mysterious, and deadly. Ward is a typical he-man, always looking for action but being forced to be a team player, especially by mentoring Skye. And Skye does a good job being the “outsider” which helps the viewers get briefed on S.H.I.E.L.D. procedures.  There are some interesting relationships between the characters, especially the attraction between different members and the possible ramifications thereof.

The stories have gotten more complicated and intense as the season has progressed, dipping slightly into the Marvel movieverse without involving anyone directly.  Unlike some, I don’t want a lot of Marvel characters showing up.  A “hero of the week” would make the team back-ups to the mainstream Marvel stars.  So I’m very happy so far.  The action is intense and the tech goodies are cool.  Also, there’s the ongoing question of Coulson’s remarkable survival.  Or…did he really survive??