Monday, January 21, 2008

A review of Cliches

I hate cliches. Yeah, I'm sure I use them 9 times out of 10, like anyone who entertains themselves to be a writer, but I hate a lot of them. Especially ones that are cliches that don't happen enough to notice that they're actually there.

Take, for example, one of the classic cliches of television: the tertiary characters who know everything about everything. Sure, its hardly limited to television, but I can't think of one television show I've watched, especially dramas, where there isn't that one character who's off on the sidelines, waiting, biding their time to give the main character sage advice. Lost, first season had Rose, when she was wisely telling Jack that her husband, Bernard, was still alive. Heroes beat that one to death with characters weaving in and out of that plot line; Hiro's dad, for example, or even HRG for some characters. Hell, even kids shows have it. Think back to Power Rangers, Zordon was always able to come onto his little tube and give the Rangers the advice they needed. I know, I know, its necessary, and it advances the plot in a fairly easy way, and it isn't even the laziest writing, but it still just gets under my skin.

Checkov's gun, of all the cliches we've blown on this blog (and I mean "blown" as in "blow job") pisses me off because its the one that I see first. Its the easiest to miss, but it jumps out at me. Oh! There's a mysterious symbol on the wing of that plane you say!?! That couldn't be anything! This one's big in video games, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is a good example. Spoiler alert, your fairy friend, just like the other two fairies in that game, is mystical, and magical. Or almost any RPG, Tales of Symphonia is an easy one to take. You're told about Ex Sphere, about Lloyd's mom dying, and then that the nearby human plant is an Ex Sphere plant. You can figure out that the Ex Sphere Lloyd has is his mom in act 1. The only writer in recent memory that threw me with this one is JK Rowling, amazingly, in her use of the Invisibility cloak in Harry Potter.

I also hate that when you do avoid the cliche it becomes a cliche: Irony. Man bites dog. When you read it, you know that it sounds familiar, yet wrong. Then you realize: Its the opposite. There's nothing wrong, in the essence of it, of having this sort of narrative, I love irony, but I hate the fact that when you write, you get trapped in cliches. They're unavoidable. They've been impossible to avoid since man began to lie, as liars were the first storytellers. The first person who told the tale "I feel fine" when they really felt like jabbing a flint rock into their ear it bled and the ear drum punctured was first story teller.

I'm done ranting. But, I'm going to start a blog for ranting about writing and what is written now. Because I can, and I don't have enough blogs that I feel obligated to. Don't worry, though, anything I put there, with Alli's blessing, will be here too.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Al's Book(s) Review(s)- Let see how many we can get through

Sooo... I read lots and lots of books over Christmas break, unfortunately I haven't reviewed ANY of them yet- so let's see how many I can get done in one post... in the order that I have read them no less.

S. Morgenstern's The Princess Bride - The Abridged (Good Bits) Version By William Goldman

Okay. First on the list. Good book. If you've seen the movie, it's exactly like that- since Goldman did the screenplay for the movie as well- right down to the grandfather and grandson chit-chatting before and between scenes. Some of you may become all elitist on me and tell me that I should have actually read Morgenstern's version- but F. U. Losers, and let me tell you why.

Apparently Morgenstern's original Princess Bride was a work of satire about the society of Florin. Not having studied Florenese society in the 16-1700's, I was less than interested. Especially since the man spends 60 + pages describing a noble woman packing and unpacking her hats. And that's not the least of it- there are plenty of more instances of blatant ass-hattery involving travel, who sits next to whom at who's dinner party and why they must be sat accordingly, etc. etc. So- wanting more action than ass-hattery.. I went for the abridged version.

But don't think that because it's not technically the original that it doesn't still hold the satirical qualities of the original. It's chalk-full of them. Like when Buttercup slams the door in Wesley's face because he came to tell her that he loved her. And the fact that Buttercup is .... not so bright. And there's plenty that's different from the movie as well- the Pit of Despair for one. I just wanted everyone to be aware that the movie is so well written (by Goldman) that many of the lines from the movie are taken directly from the book- plus you get to know the characters SO much better from the book. Ever wonder what Fezzick did BEFORE he went off with Vinzcini? Or how he got to be "unemployed, in GREENLAND" in the first place? Why does Inigo fight Wesley with his left hand when he could have easily dispatched him with his right- what the heck is up with Count Rugen, how did the Prince find Buttercup to begin with etc. etc. all these questions and more are finally answered. Plus- if you want a little softcore book porno- Goldman wrote up his own scene where Buttercup and Wesley are finally reuinited after tumbling to the ravine floor. You have to mail in a request to get it, but hopefully the publishers are still getting letters for it. Because dammit, I could use a little softcore porno to bait my Crisis Fatigue with.

Anansi Boys- By Neil Gaiman

We all know I have a hard on for Gaiman. It's obvious- but this book took me FOREVER to get through, more than a month when I can usually tear through books in a week or two. For some reason, while it was good book- it didn't capture my attention. It took FAR too long to get to the damn point of things, and it wasn't even filled with all the quirky symbolism of American Gods- at least not any that I am smart enough to pick up on. Basically we chase Fat Charlie from the England to the States back to England and a Spider shows up and we chase Fat Charlie who chases his girlfriend who chases a Spider who cowers in a corner and finally we get to an island and then things pick up. Limes come in. And then the climax. Don't get me wrong- the African Safari into the realm of dead gods was awesome, wonderfully descriptive, but I felt so cheated. I read the first 150-200 pages with nothing really of consequence happening. *Spoiler..ish* Someone steals money and blames Fat Charlie. He has a brother. His brother bones his fiancee. There. The whole 150 pages in three sentances. So read my three sentances and skip to the good bits at the end.

Captain's Fury By Jim Butcher.
Oh yes, my love/hate affair with this Furies of Calderon series will never end. NEVER I say. While this book wasn't my favorite- obviously Butcher has been reading my reviews and took them into consideration while writing the fourth of this series.

There is only one short instances of "Hold the ____" . Chechov's gun finally gets shot-( though it's shot off stage and only two people hear it) and we're introduced to a male character (A good guy) who is a coward, and therefore unlike other good guy males. Okay, maybe not a coward, but Ehren certainly doesn't seem to have the balls of steel that every other male seems to have inheirited from the incestuous relationships and inbreeding caused by noble families marrying one another's cousins and sisters. Tavi finally gets a little fury zap-zap power going, Isana does something pretty awesome and By the way, Araris and Isana better bone soon or my blue balls are going to explode.

On the other hand (the bitch slapping hand)- Isana gets kidnapped- AGAIN- I'm sure it was only to keep with the tradition that has been going on for the last three books, but whatever. And Araris once again decides NOT to show us how badass a swordsman he is. I'm getting tired of being told he's so awesome when it's beginning to seem like a cockroach with a hernia could take him out of commision.

Pheonix Unleashed- Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

You ever get that feeling you just walked in on something you shouldn't have? Yeah- that's how I felt about this book. I got it for chrismas so I decided to plunge forward. Unless you have read the previous three prequel books- you're shit out of luck as far as knowing what time of day it is,what month it is, and to some extent how old the characters actually are. It's mediocre at best. Some parts stand out- introduction of the bad guy in fact. It's a novel idea to have a bad guy not really be evil, but rather be a good guy who's trying to simply maintain a balance between good and evil (Even Darth Vadar reverts to revenge in the end). But the co-authors ruin it by making the bad guy seek immortality. Otherwise it might have worked. Still not bad. The Dragons are nifty and towards the end you finally get the swing of hours and days and months (a little bit at least)- but my major complaint is with the death of the centaur guide girl, Simera.

Don't complain about spoilers, because as you'll see, it doesn't really matter. Simera shows up, you get attached to her, and then not 100 pages later- she's dead. And not a painful emotional dead, just- quite literally, "And then she died." (pg. 215) Normally I'm not for long drawn out death scenes but the nonchalance of the death really made it- well...quite frankly, hysterical. I burst out laughing. My laughter at her death was more disturbing than the actual death.

It's very Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings in the fact that in this whole book NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENS. One boy gets magical powers. They go looking for someone to help with the magical powers. Meet Simera. Simera dies. Meet some Elves. Second boy gets magical powers. Book ends. That's right- they haven't even SEEN the bad guy yet, not really. Good set-up for a triology I suppose, but I can't stand it when those people (you know, authors) do that kind of shit. If you're going to write a series or a triology, at least give me a mini-baddie to hate on that we can fight and kill. It's like a videogame- a videogame would be no fun if you had to fight one small battle without really knowing your main enemy- and then you have to BUY THE SECOND PART OF THE GAME. Personally, I'd be pissed- and was. And as much as I rag on Butcher and the Fury's books- at least there's a climax in each book. The climax of Pheonix Unleashed was meeting a dragon. A big deal, sure, but not nearly as glorious as say.... killing a dragon.

Keys to the Kingdom: Mister Monday- Garth Nix

I also have a hard on for Garth Nix. Love love love the Sabriel triology, and I DEMAND more of it. So- I thought I'd give his new teen book a shot.

It scared the shit out of me.

I can't seem to really describe why it scared me- but it was really just one or so paragraphs that struck terror into me so bad I had to stay up the extra hour (until 4 am) to get my adreniline to settle.

If you have a bedroom where a tree branch might randomly scrape on your window at night- I suggest you read it in the dead of night.. and see if you aren't scared shitless by the Fetchers. During the day, it's not nearly as terrifying- and maybe it's just preying on one of my childhood phobias but keep in mind what Hemingway said.. "It is awfully easy to be hard boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing." (Sun Also Rises).

Back to the story. I can't summarize this one. Too much stuff happens, but if you are a fan of the Astral Plane, strange dead suns lying at the end of space and time, Norse Mythology, plays on words, asthematics, clocks, a good story or any of these things in any shape or form- I recommend it.

There are going to be 6 others in the series, Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday and some titles for Saturday and Sunday- so read Mister Monday first.

And even though it will have plenty of sequels- TONS of shit happens in this book.. and there is a main/mini bad defeated in the end. Hurrah.

For more info- and FUN GAMES! related to Keys of the Kingdom series, see For more info on Garth Nix and more books I adore, go here-

Storm Front- Jim Butcher

Back to Butcher. But this isn't one of the Furie's books. It's the first book of the Dresden Files. Also a Christmas gift from the same boyfriend who keeps getting me into my torrid love affair with the Fury's books. And he always gets depressed when I review them- even though I obviously like them enough to keep reading them.

So, Book one of the Dresden Files.

Harry Dresden is fresh, compared to Butcher's other male characters in his other series. A coward almost and totally centered on money- but he still treats ladies like a gentleman... most of the time.

I enjoyed Storm Front. Muy Excellente.

If anyone watched the Dresden Files on Sci-Fi (a show I actually liked though said boyfriend hated it for not being like the books), this one was made into one of the episodes.

People's HEARTS EXPLODE. That should make it awesome enough. The idea of modern magic is deftly and artistically handled- with such points as how technology buggers up when magic is present (meaning poor Harry has no cable, no hot showers and I'm surprised his refridgerator even works!), and the description of the lost art of potion mixing (you know, perfume, nutmeg, cinnamon, some pieces of a rubber tire and of course a beam of sunlight), and the mystical Third Eye. Sounds cheesy, the Third Eye, I know- but the description of the view from there is quite... well, not terrifying, but certainly on the creepy side. This book didn't scare me shitless- but the creep factor was definately up there. Plus, even though it's a series- there's a bad guy who gets defeated and I love that.

So, Brian- I ENJOYED IT. I really did. And I want to read the second one. You Asshat.

Annnd Ladies and Gentlemen we're finally caught up with Allison's reading list. Am currently 1/2 way into Sun Also Rises, and though I may review it- I refuse to review it in the way of a graduate student looking to write a book about Hemingway. I want to read some classics, but I'm gonna give you my OPINION on those works- not what critics have found and not what my professors will tell me about Hemingway. So. Never fear- I'll rip into the greats as easily as the fluffs.

Once again, I need more books to add onto my list so if anyone has recommendations- send them to -please title it "Hey Asshat, read this."

Thank you and goodnight.

A Public Service Announcement

Are you feeling tired? Depressed? Not like yourself? Do have a constant sense of impending doom? Are you impotent? Constantly tossing and turning at night?

You might have Crisis fatigue. Yes, studies say 9 in every 10 comic fans is feeling this phenomenon. Its characterized by feeling like the end is night, only to be let down when only Superboy dies, or She-Hulk joins the Fantastic Four. Hey, it could be worse. It could be that nothing happened until after the event was over. Or it was reverse a year later, like that little unmasking of Spider-man.

Many sufferers also claim carpal tunnel from the massive continuity porn, which may have led to your impotence. That or its the massive amount of medication you're hopped up on.

Still, there is hope! Its called: Vertigo. Yes, Vertigo, miracle drug that it is, has been known to help those with CF, due to the fact none of the books are connected. Some side-effects may be: Arrogance, Bad mouth, Desensitization, Increased gambling urges, Cigarette addiction, paranoia that your neighbors are mythical beings who are going to send you to a farm in upstate New York, your mom banging Jack of Fables, or explosive diarrhea.

Vertigo is not for everyone. Some may want alternatives such as Indie, which has similar side effects, or Real Books, which are known to cause a more severe form of arrogance, known as actual intelligence.

Side effects are common, but you do not know how they will effect you.

More research is needed to go in to this delicate study. For those who do seek to donate to our research, please send an electronic mail note to our chair person, Andrew Hurd, at ""

Please, don't hesitate to help the millions of comic fans with Crisis Fatigue. For your donation, you may, or may not, receive a sample of our medication Vertigo.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Review: The Sinestro Corps War

I decided I wanted to review the war in retrospect of the entire thing, with its conclusion having come out last Wednesday. I've never hid my Lantern fandom, so expect me to suck Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, Pat Gleason, Ivan Reis and Ethan van Sciver's collective cocks as I look at it, while I am going to try to be negative when I see it as fit; for example, the Qward issues of GL. I apologize for my scanner.

Although the storyline officially started in the Sinestro Corps one shot, Green Lantern Corps readers would be wise to remember that it technically started with Despolites, the virus Sinestro, attempting to effect Mogo a few issues earlier, in an arc which introduced Bzzd, and dealt more with Mogo's actual abilities to make constructs. The overall things that arc did that had any bearing on the War were, A) wound Mogo, he got in the path of a meteor to get Despolites off of him! B) destroy Stel, the Robot Lantern, which led into the beginning of the Second Battle of Mogo, and C) Bring up the children of the White Lobe, necessary characters in the Battle and prophecy.

But, let's get into it. We start with the One Shot, with van Sciver's beautiful art, accept for one panel of Black Canary, Red Arrow and Red Tornado. I thought one of the best ideas in this issue was the focus on Kyle, whom many fans have feared would become a nominal background character upon Hal's return. I think he's kept in prominence, myself, although Hal's primary. Looking back, there are a couple of lines that show great importance, and make Cyborg Superman's survival an obvious choice.

SEE! His death lust is gonna come up.

Then the battle of Oa begins, with a Sinestro Ring snatching Kyle, as well as blasting through Tomar Re's ear, and one unfortunate, and oddly uniformed, hand. The splash pages never reach the level of being gratuitous, as common as they are, because the things that are splashed have impact because of it. Although, one of my favorite panels is this one:
It shows the cost without actually having to show it, like so many of Geoff Johns' books that border on gratuitous. Of course, then Kylellax, and the big reveal of the Anti-Monitor. First issue's a win.

Then we start Lantern 21, which is the "calm before the storm" issue. Probably the most forgettable, because of its extreme focus on Hal, and his past. I would have enjoyed seeing more from John and Guy's Parallax induced visions than a bit mention a couple issues later. Its a weak issue, with the most meaningful thing feeling like its the comments of Sayd and Ganthet, which show levity later on.

We can move forward, though, since that issue is forgettable, onto Corps 14. I like Soranik Natu, this is known, and her strengths, as well as Sinestro's are greatly noted by Dave Gibbons. Its a good battle, and a the art by Pat Gleason is solid. This issue's importance really is nominal, though, with Sodam Yat being the most important thing in the issue, as well as this being Sinestro's only real appearance in Corps. It does set a major tone though: Sinestro knows how to win by losing.

Back to the main books, which is, in fact, better with the larger picture. Pages that felt wasted (Superman-Prime on the moon), no longer do. This issue, the first in the battle of Qward isn't the most notable, though. Yes, Reis' art is amazing, but other than Boodika's los of her hand, and Jack Chance's death, not much happens. Also, the fighting isn't as interesting as Johns is capable of. We can slide this one back in its sleeve, though.

Parallax one-shot. Ron Marz has a hard-on for Kyle. He really does. Only other thing of note: this art is magnificent!

Corps 15 is where that books picks up. Arkillo of the Sinestros is officially Gibbons' to use for the rest of the story, and we get the first battle that feels massive, and feels like there's a real risk. On a character note, though, we get an interesting look at Salaak, with his mentioning the White Lobe being on Mogo, and the apparent tremble in his voice. It shows how much he knows. One thing I did love was that this issue showed Arisia as a strong character, something Gibbons does to great effect in this battle. Also, box Lantern.

Issue 23 of Green Lantern. Ugly Guy face.
The character moments in this issue are much better than in previous, with great dialog between the Earth Lanterns, and even the alien ones. Also: Yay consistency! I like the fact that we manage to keep Graff Toren's ring slinging the same spider-web. This is really the issue that Sinestro wins, though, with the new law put on the books. Good as the rest of the plot line is, remembering that kind of makes me go "oh... yeah... it was technically lost then". Hurts the overall arc on rereads although it hols up.

Corps 16, with the conclusion of the Battle of Mogo. Chthos dies. He will be missed in his ugliness and vague sexist attitude. Go Arisia! You tell them boys! The arts impressive in that it manages to stay even, despite the noticeable two artists. I cannot claim to find Unzueta's art nearly as good as Gleason's. This does, though, conclude the risk to the Corps, thanks to it ending the Alan Moore prophecy of the fall of the Corps.

Cyborg Superman. While most of this issue is a retread of his origin and motives, we get an interesting panel, in that its a stark anachronism in DCU, with George Bush, the 9/11 attacks, and Middle Eastern War.

Other than the rampant "LOL Marbel" through out (Henshaw's origin, the Skrulls in panel), not much happens. Still, weird ass panel that makes this one interesting.

And now the last actual Green Lantern book for FIVE ISSUES. The beginning of the battle of Earth has this pretty spread.

Just look at how angry Sinestro is. I enjoyed this one, for the way it bring the war home. It makes it seem like there's a cost to us and not just this comic universe. It was one of the best ideas they had to bring it to Earth, and the issue's great. This is the first issue of Lantern that it feels like shit happens. Good stuff. And John Stewart is black, in case you missed it.

Blue Beetle, the only tie-in outside of the Green Lantern books and one-shots. I would care more if I'd been read the series, but I have not been, and thus, I lack the vested interest in Peacemaker, Jaime, and this overall story. Unfortunate, I feel like I could have if I had been reading it. This issue does have Hitler, though. Still less of an anachronism then the Cyborg page.

Green Lantern 17: I miss Gleason... The dialog is great, though, especially Guy and Natu. She hates Guy, its awesome.

Still, on the record we have for the law:
Sodam Yat
Salaak (ish)
Vath Sarn
Kraken (not a surprise, since they're from Apokolips)
and Guy probably would if he had to

Soranik Natu

Kyle (okay, we can really presume they'd go against)
Graff Toren
Tomar Re

And you have now enjoyed Andrew shows how many Lanterns he can name! The fight between Kilowog and Arkillo's good, and I really did love that he let him live. I like when characters show restraint like that.
Best line: "Poozers! No!" I love Kilowog. Also, Ion's new costume's one I like, since it's primarily green. Its distinct.

Superman-Prime. Mmm... Pete Woods art. "LOL stupidest boy dead LOL". I'm gonna go on the record as saying that I LIKE Superman-Prime as a villain. He's compelling to me, since he is an indignation of fans who have a sense of entitlement. He's like the Forum Trolls who say "This sucks because it isn't what I'm used to!". He's a brilliant pastiche of the worst fans, who are common in this small medium. Part of me thinks he's Geoff Johns' way of keeping himself in perspective, as a fan with godly powers over the medium.

And onto Corps 18. The fights good, Yat's deal-with-able. This issue, though, feels out of place. It feels like, thanks to the delay on Green Lantern, they shoehorned this in. Again, it isn't bad, but its utterly forgettable, and the first Corps issue to really disappoint me. I could give or take it.

Then we get the big one, the grand finale, the battle to end all battles, until 2009! GREAT issue. Ivan Reis really comes into his own, at times surpassing van Sciver, the commonly thought better artist of the two. His splash pages are rich, with little nuggets through out them. The two week delay was well worth it just for the beauty of this issue. Reis shows that he is one of the best artists in the market.

Van Sciver, meanwhile, gives it his all too, really showing the individual batteries as something to behold. And then his splash page is amazing in itself, giving the varied corps as sense of identity, between the vomiting Red Lanterns, the healing Indigo, and what looks like it should be a fantastic war. Side note: if I ever say that again, kill me.
Coast City is given character too, as cheesy as the whole thing feels. Its my one complaint about this book. Seriously, why did we need green Coast city. The Guardians join the battle in a big way, taking on the Anti-Monitor, getting scarred, and dying. They're still sniveling cowards, but its almost redeeming to see them fight and sacrifice. Sinestro reveals his win, looking deliriously evil in this panel:

Guy really wins, though. He's getting increasingly ill and he still manages to come up with the idea to defeat the Anti-Monitor. It doesn't actually work, but still. And we get a touching moment with Hank Henshaw, making him infinitely sympathetic. One thing that I really did like, was how unimportant the other heroes felt, because it drove home with is a Green Lantern book and story-arc. Its interesting to note that no one that is not involved in either corps has a single line.

The best fight, though, is Sinestro, Hal and Kyle. Fun stuff, if only for the 2x4 to the head of Sinestro. Bastard deserved it.

Then we get the epilogue of the story, with the formation of the Blue Lanterns of Ganthet and Sayd, and the reveal of the Black Lantern build up. Alli describes that as DC Zombies, I describe it as foreshadowed in issue 6, and the return of Nekron of the Undead, more on that later. I look forward to the Blackest Night, though. I have high expectations for it.

In the epilogues for the other books, though, Ion was forgettable, and I really enjoyed the Corps epilogue. Yay Gleason art! The individual moments were amazing, be it the mourning of Vath Sarn, Kilowog's r & r, Isamot's deiance, Iolande's boredom or Sorank returning to the one thing she loves the most, doctoring.

Then we have a lot of set-up for the Alpha Lanterns, I'm assuming, and the arc v. Mongul.

Great story line, with some great character nuggets hidden in the storyline. Good stuff. Escapism like this is why I'm a comic fan.

Happy Christmas, the war is over

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Andrew's Webcomic Review

Alright, so, as an avid Webcomic reader, I decided I'd review a few of 'em. By that I mean probably around ten, depending on how bored I get or don't get.

Obviously, we must first start with the perennial webcomic: Penny Arcade.

Its a damn fun read, usually hitting the mark with humor and a vibrant art style. The characters are likable, albeit under-characterized. If you like video games, it'll hit the mark, if not, the vast majority of the humor and jokes will miss you completely. Most of the jokes are a dialog between Gabe and Tycho, with Tycho usually playing straight man to Gabe, and it usually works, although they'll occasionally need to bring in another character, like Gabe's girl friend in the comic above, to get the joke through. Recurring plot is minimal, so don't expect to get too attached. Still, there's a reason its been going on this long: its good. Not a must read, but one to check out weekly.


A comic about making comics (sort of), hence the name. Its Soap Opera story telling, with about as deep of plot and characters. The arts nice, but the characters border on unlikeable for the most part, with sexism pretty rampant in this one. Take on recent plot line: there's a misunderstanding over whether Max (the main character) had sex with the resident Lady Dragon, Kim. His girlfriend, Alli, meets an old friend (implied to be without Max's knowledge, seemingly for a triste until we find out otherwise), and learns that Max might have had sex with Kim, whom she hates. We learn that yes, they did, but its because Kim was doing for revenge for Max's ex (now a lesbian and a main character). When they confront each other, she comes off as being the bitch, and he as just being frustrated with her. Its a taut comic, the character's shallow, and the plot lines have pulled the "Evil Twin" concept. I shit you not.

Questionable Content

One of my personal favorites, Questionable Content has interesting, and likable characters. One of the longest running comics, its also one of the few that supports its creator. Its pretty damn brilliant, although it has high and low points where the plot line suffers and succeeds, depending on the level of conflict. The art has changed greatly, as the archives chronicle well. Its good, usually a joke a day, and has shown great evolution in writing. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good slice-of-life read.


Damn is this good... One of the comics that has gotten even better over time, while starting with a high standard. I tend to like the more dramatic story lines (which its quite good at), better than the one and done joke strips (also quite good). Its a good read, with good art, but there are times when characters come off as mildly unlikeable. They aren't bad, but there are things they do that have rubbed me the wrong way. Still, check it out, see if you like it.

Penny & Aggie

This is quite possibly one of the best comics on the internet. Seriously. The plot lines are smart, the characters varied, and the art fantastic. Its gotten increasingly better over time, and while the core plot line of the beginning (Aggie v. Penny) has disappeared, it is a comic that should be held to a higher standard than most. The only real complaint I have for it is that the plot lines occasionally come off as pandering to the Forum audience. Other than that, it does things that seem almost outlandish in the common webcomic, such as cohesive plotting, and symbolism. Check it out, damn good read. Again, one of the best.


This is one of my least favorite Webcomics, I would call it the Family Guy of webcomics, but that might be a little harsh to it. Its still bad, mind you. The characters are unlikeable, and, while not as overtly so as Striptease, its still not exactly flattering to its female characters. It takes the same formula of Penny Arcade, and shits on it with annoying characters, meaningless and stupid plot, and a robot that is directly a take off of both HK-47 and Bender, and is just as annoying as the humans he supports. Ethan, the main character, is a psychotic, while Lucas, the next main character, is merely boring and uninteresting, and the main female character, Lilah, is nothing more than one of them with a vagina, who apparently doesn't know anyone other than the two of them and her male pro gaming partner, while also enabling Ethan's addiction and insanity. Maybe I expect more, but this has a huge readership, so maybe you'll like it. I don't. At all.

That's enough for now. I promise it won't be a month before I post again! Still, if you need a daily dose of me, I have two other blogs. If you disagree or want to recommend anything, e-mail me at, or leave a comment.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Al's Book Review

Al Reviews... Neil Gaiman's American Gods

This book was awesome. Go read it. Even if you can't identify most of the Gods in there (must be hundreds), it doesn't end up mattering that much.

A few complaints- There's so much symbolism and deep forboding-ness in this book that you might get bogged down in the first few chapters. If you don't keep in mind that everything in this book is in there for a reason, you're gonna get confused and frustrated real quick. But trust me, EVERY THING MATTERS. In fact, you're introduced to the three most meaningful characters within the first two chapters- one of which you have no idea is important until you get to the end. So stick with it.

Two, I never really got a good visual of Shadow. MAybe I just personally lack the great imagination, or maybe I somehow glossed over the stunning description of him- but I think there's a reason I can't "see" him in my head to well. You're not supposed to. He's Joe-blow. So think of Joe-blow... except taller. Personally, everytime Shadow did something, I was reminded of the picture of Neil Gaiman on the back cover. So Neil Gaiman was riding a crazy carousel and running playing checkers with gods. but that's just me.

About that carousel. You might think- Wow, that sounds crazy... I just can't believe a place like that exists. Well, I did a little research. I figured it was a real place, but I just didn't think it could live up to Gaiman's description. I thought if I went and found some pictures of it I may be able to make it more real in my brain. Boy was I ever wrong. After looking up the House on the Rock, and the World's Largest Carousel pictures, I was even more amazed than I was by reading it. THERE REALLY ARE MERMEN! It was more surreal looking at the pictures than it could be in the book- and the book was pretty dark and well... surreal. Don't believe me? Check out and view their picture gallery. There are even pictures of the Whale in the Walk-way and the Christmas room, and the doll room and the orchestra room etc. etc. etc. It's freaking crazy!

Now, if there's one thing I usually bash a book or movie about, it's the "surprise" ending or the "surprise" plot twist. I can usually spot 'em a mile away. I was tickled pink with this book- I didn't get the big SURPRISE until about a chapter before it was actually revealed (line: "It's a two-man con." That's when I knew). So... There you go. An actual surprise. And I was kickign myself for not seeing it sooner. At all! You'd think... when everyone meets up in the "neutral" place.. you'd think I'd have fingered that damn chauffer a mile away. Nope. Not til the end.


Complaints from other people:
Some have said they really didn't like the part where Shadow took his Dead Journey while holding Wednesday's vigil and skimmed right through it. Personally- that was my favorite part. So dark and creepy and totally out-of-this-world, literally. I thought the real dragging part was in the middle... all the crap about living in a little bitty town- I was tempted to grumble and flip a couple pages to get back to the good parts- BUT I DIDN'T! And neither should you! BECAUSE IT ALL MATTERS!! THERE'S A REASON JOE-BLOW LIVES IN NOWHEREVILLE! BELIEVE IT.


And we're done now. I'll be reviewing William Goldman's The Princess Bridge, Abridged (The Good Parts) and giving a brief comparative study between it and the cult classic movie anyone who was a child in the 80's absolutely obsessed over. Then hopefully Good Omens.

Oh, and if you're interested, Jim Butcher's newest addition to the Furies of Calderon series came out this week- called Cursor's Fury. It's on hold for me at the Library. Check it out.

And as always, PLEASE email me some suggestions for books to read and review. Really, I'll respond to any emails (I get so bored during finals). So heres' the address again in case you forgot

Do it. Now.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Two Speedies for the Price of One!

Mia Dearden/ Speedy II

Personality: Mia's pretty levelheaded, compared to the rest of the Arrow clan- though she can be a bit cocky- it's part of her charm. She's crass and vulgar- which we always love in a lady, but she does have a tendancy to blow little things out of proportion and while leaving the big things to fester. Example, "I have HIV. It's okay." vs. "I don't want to join the Teen Titans and I'm going to throw a temper tantrum." Temper Tantrums are never attractive, and neither is the festering and rotting. She has a fixation with Connor, but who can blame her honestly? After all, the boy kissed her- twice- and hasn't done anything since. Andrew and I agree that we would both be frustrated with him after that. She's also extremely well adjusted for her history. Her dad raped her, sold her into prositution, she lived with an abusive pimp/boyfriend, did lots of drugs, and finally after getting out of all that- finds out she has H.I.V. and she's really not all that bitter about it. Seems like she should get some major bonus points for that. We her personality a rating of

21 out of 25.

Costume: We love the mesh arrow. Nice cleavage without showing boob. It works. Plus the deep red and dark yellow are a good color combination, we like them. It's a solid and strong color grouping. Then again, we said that for Wally too- so let's not beat the dead horse. We like red and yellow. The short cape always works out well for ladies, but I think we could go either way on the hood. It lends the whole "Robin Hood" feel to Green Arrow's side kick- but... we might be able to do without it. We give her costume a rating of

18 out of 25

Powers: What powers? Does keeping Ollie and Connor from killing each other count as a super power? That being said, her ability to work a shaft is sexy. We could continue with the dirty archery comments until the cows came a-mooing home, but back to the point... Archery = hot. Period. No arguements. Name one un-sexy archer. We dare you. That's right, you wouldn't dare. Even Merlyn the Magician is hot. Let's not get me started on him. She's a decent archer- somewhere in her archery skills between Connor at the low point and Roy at the high point with Ollie above the other two boys. Any debates about Connor's archery skill levels should be directed towards the comments on this page, please. Plus, she can make her own trick arrows. Hot. We give her powers (or lack there of) a rating of

16 out of 25

Day Job/Alter Ego: She's H.I.V. postive. Now, while we all know that safe sex can partially eliminate the threat of "catching" H.I.V., it's not exactly something that makes us all hot and bothered. Don't get us wrong. We still love Mia, and we'd still have crazy awesome sex with her. We'd just wear a condom to do it. She's still in high school... but that's never really much of an issue- and aside from that her day job is to babysit Ollie when Dinah's not around to kick his ass. But she does it with such great attitude, we can't help but admire her. She really does need to get back in the Titans though, otherwise we're hardly ever gonna see her in comics anymore. Judd Winick bashing aside, we give her day job/alter ego a rating of

12 out of 25

Miscellaneous Deductions:
The colors of her costume and her code name really seem to scream more "Flash Sidekick" rather than Green Arrow sidekick. You'd think Green Arrow's sidekick would be more... I dunno... Green? I guess that's what they have Connor for. -2

Final Score: 62 out of 100 We love Mia. Yay Mia. Not a bad score for a sidekick.

Roy Harper/ Speedy / Arsenal / Red Arrow

Personality: It should never be said that Roy doesn't love the ladies. He has great love for the ladies- pretty much ALL the ladies. Maybe too much love. Which resulted in one of the most adorable kids in all of comics, Lian. And everyone knows that good Daddies are hot. It's true. And for as much crap as Lian ends up going through, let it never be said that Roy wouldn't/doesn't go to the ends of the earth for her. She may have been the product of an ill-concieved one night stand (sort of), but he loves that little girl, and that's major points. Back to his past though, He was a heroin addict. Not good. But, on the other hand, he did, eventually, get over it, and hasn't "fallen off the wagon" so to speak. And yeah, we have to mention it because it happened, but Allison for one would really wish people would stop saying "That guy in JLA, wasn't he a junkie?" There's a lot more to the character than just his past drug use. That's like saying "That Wonder Woman, didn't she kill a guy?" It's been twenty odd years. Writers and readers alike need to get over it. When he was younger, he was fairly prone to hero-worship, which put the kid in an awkard situation when his heroes were... well... Ollie and Hal. And luckily, as he's aged, it's muted into a sort of humility when it comes to other heroes that are bigger and better. He may act like he thinks he's more important than Superman, but if Superman says jump, Roy says How High? We give his personality a rating of

17 out of 25

Costume: Which. Freaking. One. The current one could be better. The "red arrow" costume from his miniseries was good. The Arsenal costume with the navajo leaf on it was pretty sexy. The leather jacket was bad, especially with the shaved head. The Blue one from the 80s? What in the world? Why would anyone dress a red-headed irish boy up in blue? That'd almost be as bad as putting him in green! Speaking of Green, we can't ever get away from that first image of little Roy, yellow hat, yellow gloves and boots, with red leggings and a tunic to match his mentor. Sigh, oh the old days. Unfortunately the old days are gone, and for the sake of saving a little time and confusion we're rating his current Red Arrow costume. Allison likes the shoe laces up the chest. Andrew does not. We are glad that the hat has not made a fashionable resurgance though- and thank God he's not wearing blue anymore. Play to your strong suits, Roy. The sentimental value of the new costume is great though- ALMOST to the point of making up for the fact that in 20 years, (If Kingdom Come is to be believed) he's going to look like a red headed Ollie... which was not a flattering look for him. Oh Roy. Whatever shall we do with you? We do miss the soul-patch though. It seemed to make any costume work. Maybe if he brought back the soul patch, we'd be so enamored with it we'd forget how bad the new costume looks.

12 out of 25.

Powers: Once again, Archer = sexy. Whoof. As Stan would say, 'Nuff freakin' said.

16 out of 25

Day Job / Alter Ego: You have to wonder what it says on Roy's Resume.... Current Occupation: Professional Superhero. Previous Occupations: Sidekick. Current Employer: Justice League of America. Previous Employer(s): Oliver Jonas Queen. I would kill for Roy's resume. Besides, how cool is it to be a superhero for a living? No need for a day job, Roy can bring home the bacon without it. Plus, while he's running around superheroing at night- what does he do during the day? Takes care of his baby. What better job could one have, I ask you? We really enjoy Roy's religious persuasions too. Before anyone bashes on Roy as being anti-religious or what not, I recommend you read his miniseries "Arsenal" written by Devin Grayson. She's not a particularly good writer, and I have plenty of crap I could talk about her- but this series was very well done, and digs into his Navajo roots. It's refreshing to see a character who believes in something you don't find every day- especially considering how he's as white as they come. All in all, we're fans of Roy's "day job", and we're giving it a rating of....

22 out of 25

Miscellaneous Deductions:
Too many names for me to type just to get this damn article written. Speedy, Arsenal, Red Arrow- pick one and stick with it for more than three issues, K? -3

speaking of names, Speedy? Speedy? We're blaming Roy for Mia's previous miscellaneous deductions- after all, he started it. But- as the joke goes... "You should have heard his first choice.." and of course there's the infamous "Speedy? I thought they didn't call you that anymore" etc. etc. We exhaust ourselves with these jokes. -5

We know Roy loves the ladies- but how many ladies has the boy TRULY loved? We mean true love. Look at it, he LOVED Donna- she's his childhood sweetheart whom he still feels for to this day. He LOVED Cheshire- still does, she's his baby's mama and he just can't help himself. He LOVES Dinah. It's that whole "You're hot and you came around about the time I was going through puberty and I'm not sure if I should think dirty thoughts about you or pretend your my mom." that he's never going to grow out of. Should he really be DATING at this point instead of just having sex like usual? Also- his choice in women isn't exactly the best. We stand by the thought that out of all the women that Roy has LOVED, Dinah was the only one who could have ever been any good for him- too bad she's in love with his MENTOR. Arguements should be sent to :) -4, one for each love.

Final Score: 53 out of 100
Because we love him so much, we had hoped that Roy would score higher, and in fact he'd be tied with Mia if he hadn't gotten all those damn deductions. So... sexy as he may be, gotta watch out for the ridiculously frequent name changes, heart-on-my-sleeve notions of romance and the fact that, simply put- with a name like "Speedy" you've either just lost your virginity, or you need to be a Flash Sidekick.