Just Giblets

Newsbreak

18th November 2009
by Scot

Newsbreak


That is all.

posted in Nonsense | at 5:33 pm | 0 Comments
13th November 2009
by Scot

A Disgrace to His Profession

3 Dollar BillMaybe you’ve seen this, but a Purdue library science professor and government documents librarian has blogged An Economic Case Against Homosexuality. Yes, it’s as ludicrous as it sounds. I’m leaving this off my professional blog, as it has little to do with librarianship, other than the fact that Professor Bert Chapman displays no traits of a librarian, despite his blog title “Conservative Librarian.”

You’ll see a comment by me… two, if they approve my last one. Not that I doubt it’s rationality, but it’s close to the 2,000 character limit they put on comments, so it may be held in moderation. Or then again, it may have been flushed down the toilet. It’s in response to a commenter named Adriana who takes me to task for bringing up the taboo of the “facts” Prof. Chapman’s economic publication lacks.

Here is my follow up, in case they don’t publish it:

Adriana,

The facts Prof. Chapman presents, but does not cite are:

1. Not only does he not cite his source of data, but Prof. Chapman attributes US Government expenditures on AIDS to a support of what he deems “a homosexual lifestyle.” Though he recognizes that the disease is spread by many means, he still presents it as a moral issue. But regardless, a librarian must state where his numbers come from and what “expenditures on this disease” encompass.

2. He cites as fact that behavior he deems immoral taints our blood supply without support of fact.

3. Chapman also claims that rape of male inmates by fellow males is a drain on taxpayer dollars. Does he cite how many of the offenders are homosexual? It may seem unthinkable to you, but heterosexual males rape men. I see no citations to established facts to support his claims that homosexual men are draining US tax dollars in this way.

4. At long last, the educated librarian cites an external work, “Do Domestic Partner Benefits Make Good Economic Sense?” by The Corporate Resource Center. He claims that it is available on a web site, but does not provide a URL. He does not even qualify where this center is or what affiliation it has, if any, to a larger organization. I challenge anyone to find this work available on the web. For this fraud alone, Prof. Chapman should be censured, at the very least.

5. Finally, the learned professor closes with a long list of ways that heterosexual entitlements may be diminished by the acknowledgment of same-sex relationships. There are no numbers given. There are no longitudinal studies cited. There is only the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) tactics of a frightened man with no other defense. The last paragraph reminds me of the FUD tactics of white families in the 1960’s who would incite neighborhood hatred against black families moving in, in the name of “decreased property values.”

I am not arguing against Prof. Chapman’s points. He has none.

The student furor over his blog post has led to calls for his dismissal from the university. Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first antigay blog post he’s written.


Update: I totally forgot to thank the dude who alerted me to this fiasco! Rob at wakingupnow.com is a really great blogger who has a fierce, but reasoned approach to civil action. Thank you, Rob. You set a good example.

31st October 2009
by Scot

A Halloween Visitor

Michael lost our digital camera during a recent business trip to San Francisco. Perfect excuse to whip out the Best Buy card and upgrade. I don’t normally take many pictures, but felt inspired when I discovered our new neighbor on the back porch this afternoon.

Not so itsy-bitsy. More nickel-sized.

Not so itsy-bitsy. More nickel-sized.

 
He/she was up near the top of the covering of our back porch.

He/she was up near the top of the covering of our back porch.

 
You can just barely make out the web from the other side. Up near the corner.

You can just barely make out the web from the other side. Up near the corner.

 
Hooray! I can use manual focus!

Hooray! I can use manual focus!

17th October 2009
by Michael

Anne Murray at the Hippodrome

Thanks to the fabulous Jann Arden I found this amazing video of Anne Murray performing with some of the biggest early 80s British pop stars of the day. Don’t miss it. It’s work watching. Anne Murray rocks!

posted in 1980s, Canada, Music | at 12:52 pm | 0 Comments
30th August 2009
by Michael

August Comics of Note

I’ve been on a bit of a comics jag lately, and the other day I picked up my semi-monthly haul of new comics.  After reading them (Friday night and Saturday) I decided to share some of my favorites of the month, since there were some pretty darn good ones in the mix.  It also showed me that I come firmly down on the DC side for the most part, with 7 of my top 10 coming from that company, and the other 3 coming from Marvel.  While I like some of the obscure Marvel heroines more than I like the DC characters, it’s clear that the writing and the stories that they’re producing are far superior (or at least more to my liking) than Marvel.  Anyway, here they are, my Top 10 comics of August.

  1. secret_six_12_page9Secret Six #12 written by Gail Simone, art by Nicola Scott.  Both of Gail’s titles  made the Top 2 this week, but I have to say, Secret Six #12 makes it to the top with the artistic aid of Nicola Scott.  The premise of Secret Six is this:  six villains (or at best, anti-heroes) band together originally to survive, and eventually because they enjoy working together.  In recent issues they got involved with a slavery ring, and discovered that Artemis, one of the Amazons, was a captive of the slavers.  This issues the ultimate Amazon shows up… yeah, that’s Wonder Woman.  She has an awesome smackdown with Jeannette, one of the more mysterious members of the Six, whose secret is finally revealed in this issue.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Diana captured as perfectly both in script or in image as this issues of Secret Six.  She is truly chilling and awesome to behold in this issue.  Take a look on the right.  DC Comics
  2. Detective Comics #856 featuring Batwoman written by Greg Rucka, art by J.H. Williams III.  I spoke a lot about Batwoman in my previous post so it’s really no surprise that she shows up so prominently in this list.  Again, the gorgeous art helps quite a bit, but Rucka’s writing is top notch.  Williams layouts take a little getting used to, but they sure are breathtaking.  You need to know a little bit of Batwoman’s brief history to follow this issue, but it also features a nifty meeting of Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer who share a spin on the dance floor.  The Question back-up story is a little lackluster, mainly due to Cully Hamner’s artwork.  It’s not bad, by any means, but it sure pales in comparison to Williams.  Rucka’s story is still compelling.  DC Comics
  3. Wonder Woman #35 written by Gail Simone, art by Aaron Lopresti.  Gail really knows how to write characters, and it’s such a thrill to see women characters in comics get such great treatment.  This arc is basically a Wonder Woman/Black Canary team up, and Gail really characterizes these two women wonderfully.  Now, if we could only get Nicola Scott to draw this title as well?  Awesome.  Anyway, this issue ties together a couple of storylines very nicely.  Diana and Dinah (Black Canary) are in Tokyo posing as underground wrestlers, in order to find one of Diana’s colleagues, Sarge Steel, who has been captured by one of her nemeses, Dr. Psycho.  Along comes the Pacific Islander goddess Pele, seeking revenge on Diana for her father’s death at the hands of Zeus.  Yeah, it probably sounds confusing to a non-comic reader, but this comic has it all.  Great characterization, kick-ass action, and an emotional wallop right at the end.  DC Comics
  4. gog 17Guardians of the Galaxy #17 written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Brad Walker.  Marvel comes in with one of their cosmic titles, which is also the single most enjoyable title they are putting out right now.  Two of my favorite Marvel heroines are featured regularly, Moondragon (who only has a small part in this issue) and Mantis (who is absent from this issue), but this issue does guest star my second favorite Marvel heroine, Medusa along with the rest of the Inhumans Royal Family in this War of Kings follow-up.  The Inhumans have gone and detonated a deadly bomb to end the Kree/Shair War, and the result is a massive rift in time and space that threatens to destroy the cosmos.  The Guardians of the Galaxy go to confront the Inhumans for their actions, and to see if they can do something about the unravelling of the galaxy.  Naturally Medusa is a bit consumed by grief as it looks like her husband, and King of the Inhuamns, Black Bolt, has been obliterated.  As you can see in the image on the right, she doesn’t have much patience for Martyr’s “I told you so’s.”  Fortunately for the cosmos, Adam Warlock manages to stop the rift’s growth.  Unfortunately for the cosmos, the resulting timeshift causes him to become the villainous Magus.  It’s a pretty shocking ending, and great cosmic space opera.  Marvel comics
  5. X-Factor #47 written by Peter David, art by Valentine De Landro.  Pretty much the only X-title worth reading right now (except perhaps New Mutants, in my opinion) and that’s because of Peter David’s writing.  Humor, adventure, twists, emotional swings… Peter does it all, imbuing life and interest even into such cardboard characters as Longshot, Shatterstar, Strong Guy and his masterwork, Madrox the Multiple Man.  This issue is in the middle of a multi-part storyline, so it’s pretty darn confusing.  I’m not even going to try to summarize it.  Suffice it to say, Madrox, X-Factor’s leader, is trapped in the future with Layla Miller, trying to figure out a way to keep a nasty future from coming to past for mutantkind.  Meanwhile back in the present, a couple of Omega level sentinels are after Siryn and M, while Longshot confronts the apparent mastermind of the whole thing… who is shockingly revealed in the final panel.  Marvel comics
  6. Madame Xanadu #14 written by Matt Wagner, art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.  DC’s fantasy/horror/crime imprint, Vertigo, spawned the likes of such popular titles as The Sandman and Fables.  Now they have scored again with one of DC’s b-list mystics, the mysterious Madame Xanadu.  Issue #14 is part four of a storyline with art by original Madame Xanadu artist Michael Kaluta, and while it’s beautiful, it doesn’t have the appeal for me as Amy Reeder Hadley’s fine line work, and I look forward to her return in a few issues.  This storyline is set alternately in 1940s New York, where Madame Xanadu must solve a mystical serial killing, and 1493 when the Spanish Inquisition was at the height of its powers.  This issue also features a great encounter between Madame Xanadu and the Golden Age Sandman, aka Wesley Dodds, who is trying to solve the crimes in his own way.  There’s a dramatic cliffhanger where it looks like things are about to go terribly wrong for Xanadu in the 1493.  Wagner has turned a stock character into something magical and wondrous, and whose adventures each month I look forward to eagerly.  DC Comics/Vertigo
  7. kingsWar of Kings #6 of 6 written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, art by Paul Pelletier.  As mentioned above, Medusa is one of my all-time favorite heroines from Marvel, and she and the rest of the Royal Family of the Inhumans is featured prominently in the War of Kings miniseries which reached its conclusion this month.  It comes down to an epic personal battle between Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans, and Vulcan, man Emperor of the Shiar.  Black Bolt intends to detonate  a T-bomb, powered by his deadly voice, that will have deadly repercussions to the galaxy.  Vulcan intends to stop him.  Medusa comes to realize that Black Bolt will perish in the explosion as this epic war comes to a close.  Abnett and Lanning do cosmic storylines with finesse, action, political intrigue and great characterization.  Unfortunately, they tend to paint their characters in fairly broad strokes:  Crystal and Ronan are our heroes, and seem to make no errors in judgment, while the rest of the Inhumans Royal Family are nearly reduced to cardboard villains.  I would have rather seen more layers.  The miniseries was elevated by the fabulous artwork of Paul Pelletier though, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the next chapter in this saga.  Marvel Comics
  8. Justice Society of America #30 written by Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham, art by Jesus Merino.  The new writing team of Sturges and Willingham (of Fables fame) has breathed much needed new life into the Justice Society of America; enough to propel it back into the Top 1o of my monthly reads.  It’s not easy to handle the writing chores of a team of superheroes that features over 20 members, but this kick-off storyline does the job, and even adds another member (bringing in the new Dr. Fate in a very dramatic fashion.)  The JSA is nearly defeated by a horde of Super-villains, leaving only the Flash and Stargirl standing.  While Stargirl holds her own, Flash recruits the new Dr. Fate and the three manage to stall long enough for the rest of the team to recover.  When the villains flee, a rift forms in the team of heroes, with some wanting to pursue the villains and find out the reason for the attack, and the rest feeling it important to return to headquarters to see why Mr. Terrific doesn’t answer their call.  It turns out  that there is a larger plot at work against the team and it threatens to tear the JSA apart.  Oh, Merino’s art really adds a lot to the book.  I’m looking forward to seeing this new creative team’s work.  DC Comics
  9. batgirlBatgirl #1 written by Bryan Q. Miller, art by Lee Garbett.  I wasn’t going to read the new Batgirl series, as I wasn’t all that interested in the last young lady who wore the costume.  For some reason, when I found out who was going to be wearing the costume, I was intrigued, so I decided to pick up issues #1.  I’m going to spoil you about the new Batgirl’s identity, because it’s revealed very early on in the issue.  Stephanie Brown, formerly Spoiler, is our new Batgirl, and while I don’t really know all that much about Ms. Brown, I thought I’d see how she handles the role.  The art is terrific, and Brown’s Batgirl is a little uncertain of herself and makes some mistakes.  Clearly she is in need of a mentor, and she is apparently going to get one in the form of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, and now the uber-information broker, Oracle.  Miller writes Barbara with a lot of pent up anger, which I’m not sure I buy, but I’m going to wait and see where that anger is coming from and see how the story develops.  In the meantime, I’m in.  DC Comics
  10. Power Girl #4 written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmotti, art by Amanda Conner.  DC is sure showing the ladies some love with all these female-led titles!  Power Girl is a great character… originally Earth 2’s answer to Supergirl.  She devolved into a large pair of breasts and an attitude in the 90’s, but her regular strong appearances in the Justice Society of America over the last several years have done a lot to powergirlpropel her back to serious status.  Gray and Pamottie are taking a slightly humorous approach to Power Girl (there’s a joke about her breasts in just about every issue) but they’re also doing a good job establishing her as an entertaining and strong character.  Amanda Conner’s art is a little cartoony, but it fits thebig adventures well, and she captures facial expressions really well.  I’m enjoying this title much more than I thought I would.  DC Comics

meraI wanted to mention a few other titles for various reasons, starting with Blackest Night #2.  I’m not as over the moon about this event as most of fandom.  Never been much of a Green Lantern fan, and Geoff Johns stories are wildly uneven for me, some being outstanding, others being overhyped.  But the big surprise in this issue was the awesome return of Mera in a big way (take a gander at left).  Mera is the long-suffering wife of Aquaman, who has basically been the ultimate expression of the wife/girlfriend character in comics.  Now that Aquaman is dead (and returned in Blackest Night) it appears that Johns is going to shine a little spotlight on Mera, and for that I must thank him.  She’s got tons of potential, great powers, and an outstanding visual.  She’s the Queen of Atlantis, and as you know from Marvel’s Medusa, I’ve got a thing for Queens!

Other mentions this month include a new creative team over in Fantastic Four, thank god.  I loathed what Millar and Hitch were doing to this title, and things look promising in the hands of new scribe Jonathan Hickman.  Vertigo’s Air continues to confound and to please.  It’s some pretty heady stuff, but nothing less than I’d expect from Peter Milligan.  Terry Moore’s Echo is moving along nicely and Streets of Gotham has me following yet another Batman title; but this time for the back-up story featuring Manhunter.  This month’s addition of The Huntress piques my interest even more.  Other titles I enjoyed this month include Nova, Justice League of America, Marvel Divas, New Mutants, R.E.B.E.L.S., Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers, Fables, The Unwritten, Greek Street, JSA vs. Kobra, and The Last Days of Animal Man.  Other titles that I have mixed feelings about include Justice League: Cry for Justice, Adventure Comics, The Mighty Avengers, Fallen Angel, and Avengers: The Initiative.  And two titles that I was enjoying before,but seem to have taken missteps this month are Gotham City Sirens and Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter.

posted in Comics, Personal | at 1:00 pm | 0 Comments
2nd August 2009
by Michael

Why I love Batwoman

Kate Kane is Batwoman

Kate Kane is Batwoman

As I begin working on this post’s companion piece, My favorite DC heroines, I started thinking about Batwoman, a newish DC character that has gotten a lot of attention, including a bunch of articles in the mainstream press, but not a whole lot of actual comic book time. What is it that has captured the medias attention, and more curious, what is it that has captured mine? The former is pretty easy: Batwoman was announced to be a lesbian even before she ever appeared in a comic book. The mainstream press jumped all over that; after all, we are talking about the Batman franchise, possibly the most successful franchise that DC owns. But is that all it took to pique my interest?

Well, to be honest, that was certainly a start. As a gay man who has long read comics and historically mourned the lack of gay or lesbian characters found in the medium, I was thrilled that such a prominent character would also be a lesbian. But was it just a media stunt, and would she be a stock character, lacking in depth? She appeared briefly in DC’s 2007 weekly series, 52, as a dark vigilante, socialite Kate Kane by day, masked adventurer by night, ex-girlfriend of Renee Montoya, soon to be the new Question. She was intriguing, but really didn’t get a whole lot to do. Certainly not enough to make me pine for more.

JH Williams III is THE artist for Batwoman

JH Williams III is THE artist for Batwoman

The she had a couple of appearances the following year in a Final Crisis mini-series that was actually about The Question and The Spectre. It was written by Greg Rucka, whose work I really quite like, but more importantly, it was drawn by JH Williams III. The name didn’t really ring a bell, and it wasn’t until I was reminded that this was the author of Alan Moore‘s Promethea title that I realized that I new the man’s work. More importantly, his work on Final Crisis: Revelations, and particularly on the character of Batwoman, that really caught my attention. The new Batwoman was dark, sexy, and not a little scary. Again, she was a supporting character, and didn’t actually have a whole lot of panel time, but I was hooked. When it was announced that she would star in the feature story of Detective Comics, DC flagship Batman title, I was there. Now we’re two issues in and it’s one of my favorite reads each month. Rucka and Williams III have their hooks in me and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

So how did this ‘not-a-Batman’ fan get hooked on Batwoman after a handful of appearances? Visually she is stunning. First of all, when it comes to superheroines, I’ve got a weakness for redheads (Medusa? Jean Gray?) Batwoman’s fiery read hair, and dramatic black and red costume are eye-catching and appealing. Her blood-red lips and heavy, practical boots, along with the tight leather outfit are just sexy as hell. And when she turns that scary, barely restrained rage on cowering criminals, it’s even more convincing than her more masculine counterpart. In the first two issues featuring Batwoman in Detective comics, Rucka teases us with a little bit of information, but wisely keeps us in the dark about a lot of Kate’s life. And yes, she is a lesbian, and it’s a part of her that is included in the story, but is not the focus. Just like Bruce Wayne was a playboy, Kate has relationships with women.

Now Batwoman is not eh first woman in the Bat Family that I’ve fallen for. Huntress and Oracle (Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl) are both favorites, but I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen so quickly for a new character in the way Rucka and Williams have got me hooked by Batwoman. And it appears that she has taken fandom by storm as well. Here’s hoping for a long, successful run featuring Batwoman, preferrably written by Greg Rucka and JH Williams III.

Don't mess with Batwoman

Don't mess with Batwoman

posted in Art, Authors, Comics | at 10:22 pm | 2 Comments
31st July 2009
by Michael

Thanks, Peter…

Something pretty remarkable happened in comics a couple of months ago: two Marvel comics dudes… part of the X-Men franchise, no less, shared a kiss. A romantic kiss. Rictor and Shatterstar, the former debuting in the New Mutants, the latter first showing up in the 90’s Rob Leifield embarrassment, X-Force, shared a special, subtextual relationship briefly, just before the both disappeared into limbo around ten years ago. Rictor returned in the pages of Peter David’s X-Factor, one of my favorite superhero reads each month. There were some passing mentions of his possible relationship with Shatterstar, but nothing very distinct. David surprised me by bringing Shatterstar back into the comic recently, and stunned my by having Rictor and Shatterstar share a kiss at the end of a recent issue. There’s some pretty hefty significance to this, ,and I applaud the way it was casually slipped into a story without making a big deal out of it.

There’s more to the story, but I’ll let interested parties check it out over at the Daily Loaf. I’ll just leave you with the image, and the dubiously-named Strong Guy’s apt summation of the kiss.

Shatterstar and Rictor reunited

Shatterstar and Rictor reunited

posted in Comics | at 10:27 pm | 0 Comments
27th July 2009
by Scot

Karaoke Dorkness

Okay, I’m surrendering all pretense that I’m not a dork. A friend of mine from college posted several Facebook status updates to his profile lately that redirected to a site called SingSnap. What is SingSnap, do you ask? It’s online karaoke. No more, no less. But just think about it… we habitual karaoke-ers pick out our songs at home. We rehearse them. We learn every nuance of the original recording. And then after we humiliate ourselves in public, we try to learn the quirks of the karaoke recording track so we can do better next time.

Imagine if you had that power at home. The power to record and re-record at will. The power to add effects to your stage performance. The power of karaoke-social-networking. Mwah-ha-ha-haaaa….

I even bought a gold membership for six months before actually saving any of my recordings because it adds reverb and compression to your voice recording. I’m a sucker, I know. But listen to my first lame attempt. I can do better, I know, but I wanted to get this up for my friends suffering from heat exhaustion at the Library Leadership Institute for Massachusetts. Reports say that they spent the day in a non-air conditioned room all day when it was 90 degrees outside. It may have been upwards of 105 degrees inside!

22nd July 2009
by Michael

Michael’s Favorite Marvel Superheroines

Friends and acquaintances of mine know that I buy comics; superhero comics, and a lot of them. I read primarily DC and Marvel comics, and have since around 1969. Recently I was talking to Scot about all the superhero movies, how popular they all are, and how i don’t really like most of them. That’s when it hit me. I’m not really a comics fan. I am intrigued by stories of women with super powers. When written well (which isn’t all that often) women with superpowers are fascinating. They should not behave like super men with breasts. They should have a different way of looking at the world, even when they’re fighting crime. At least I think so. Here is the list of my 20 favorite superheroines form the Marvel universe.

  1. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman – Marvel’s first superheroine was basically a plot device to be kidnapped and threatened so the men could rescue her for the first 10 or so years of her existence. Originally she could just turn invisible, but fairly soon afterwards, she discovered (though the help of her scientist husband, of course) that she could control an incredibly powerful invisible force powered by her strength of will. The glue that keeps the Fantastic Four together, what makes Susan Storm Richard so fascinating for me is the fact that first and foremost she is a mother. The fact that she has super powers and fights evil is not what defines her. When written well, she exhibits this dichotomy in complex and fascinating ways. It’s too bad she’s written poorly so often.

  2. Medusa

    Medusa

    Medusa – Medusa also made her debut in the pages of the Fantastic Four, as the female version of that super team’s villainous counterpart, the Frightful Four. She was everything that Susan Storm was not: vicious, unrestrained, wild, physical. However we soon learned she had amnesia, and was in fact queen of the Inhumans, a strange, hidden people genetically bred by the alien Kree. As Queen it is Medusa’s role to be the voice of her husband and King, Black Bolt, whose destructively powerful voice must be ever kept silence. Medusa’s power is her living hair which she uses in amazing and sometimes deadly ways. Medusa has seen resurgence in popularity lately, and she has been well-written in most of her recent appearances. In addition to her striking physical appearance and power, Medusa is a fascinating character because she is the Queen of a people, who follow a King who cannot speak. She interprets his every gesture and mood, yet recently, when her King was taken and kidnapped, she was forced to lead on her own, overcoming great obstacles and successfully rescuing her husband. She is strong-willed and passionate and a talented diplomat.

  3. Moondragon

    Moondragon

    Moondragon – Here’s a complex character who suffered a brief period of villainy by writers who couldn’t figure out how an arrogant, powerful woman who thought herself superior to those around her could be a hero. As a child, Heather Douglas was involved in a car accident caused by the mad Titan Thanos that killed both her parents. Young Heather was rescued by Titan’s ruler, Mentor, and transported to Saturn’s moon to be trained to master both her body and her mind. Her perceived superiority became her undoing, allowing a powerful mental parasite, the Dragon of the Moon, to take hold in her mind and corrupt her. Through her struggle with the Dragon of the Moon, we see that Moondragon is in fact a deeply heroic character who struggles every day to be the best she can be, and through her fear of failure, overcompensates by trying to be perfect. Her recent relationship with Quasar, one of the few gay relationships in comics has brought out a more gentle side of Moondragon, and although her apparent death at the hands of Ultron was disappointing, recent developments show she may be on her way back to the pages of comics. Moondragon’s struggle with heroism and abrasive personality make her one of the most fascinating heroes in comics.

  4. Mantis

    Mantis

    Mantis – Mantis’ origins are actually tied to Moondragon’s through the manipulations of the alien plant-race called The Cotati. Both Mantis and Moondragon shared similar training in the ways of the body and mind to prepare them for the possibility of becoming the Celestial Madonna, a human who would mate with a Cotati to bear the savior of the universe. Despite maintaining absolute mastery of her body, and a mental prowess that manifested as a mysterious empathic nature, her very human nature made Mantis flawed and fascinating. After her ascension to near-godhood as the Celestial Madonna, she gained an affinity with plant life along with her green-tinged hue. Her recent appearances find her being labeled a mentat, with telepathic and precognitive powers. It remains to be seen whether she maintains her godlike abilities of control over plantlife. Mantis remains mysterious, but her warmth and humor have come to the surface during her time as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

  5. Clea

    Clea

    Clea – Clea comes from the Dark Dimension where Dormammu, a powerful, tyrannical mystic rules with an iron fist. Dormammu and his sister Umar are two of the Faltine, a race of extra-dimensional energy-based beings in semi-human form. Clea is the daughter of Umar and a human disciple of Dormammu named Orini. During one of Dormammu’s attempts to take over Earth, Clea came to the aid of Dr. Strange, Sorceror Supreme, and became his disciple, learning the mystic arts, and also his lover. Later Clea rallied the people of the Dark Dimension into rising up against Umar, and their faith in her caused the “Flames of Regency” to appear around Clea’s head. The Flames of Regency made Clea powerful enough to defeat and banish Umar and her father Orini from the Dark Dimension, and Clea took the throne. Subsequently Clea and Strange exchanged vows and became one according to the laws of the Dark Dimension. Clea hasn’t been seen in comics in recent years, her evolution from powerless alcolyte, frequently kidnapped and threatened in her first appearances gave way to a intelligent, passionate, self-sacrificing, and powerful mystic, ultimately ruling the Dark Dimension for a time.

  6. Marrina

    Marrina

    Marrina – Marrina was a member of the Canadian team Alpha Flight, and an honorary member of the Avengers. She is a part of the alien species called the Plodex, a barbaric race who seed other planets with eggs that imprint upon the first life form they encounter. The egg that contained Marrina was submerged in the Atlantic Ocean, which accounts for her amphibious nature, but was found by a fisherman whose wife was the first being she encountered. Raised in a small village in the Maritimes, Marrina grew up to be a sweet, warm young woman. But during an early mission with Canada’s Alpha Flight, she learned that her race was a deadly, monstrous one, and her genetic make-up caused her to occasionally succumb to vicious savagery. After marrying the Namor, the Sub Mariner, Marrina became pregnant, and her Plodex genes reacted to this by transforming her into an enormous sea serpent that caused incredible amounts of destruction. To save lives, Namor was forced to slay his own wife with a mystic sword. However, unknown to Namor and Marrina’s friends, she reverted to her humanoid form and was found by the villainous Master, who kept the comatose Marrina prisoner. Marrina’s amphibious nature allows her to exist underwater as easily as on land. Her Plodex nature gives her lithe form great strength and resilience, as well as devastating claws that secret a paralyzing poison. She can move at incredible speed on land, and especially in the water, even to the point of creating enormous waterspouts which can propel her kilometers inland as a means of transportation. Marrina’s sweet-natured personality and innate goodness, ever at war with her savage heritage make her a fascinating character to explore.

  7. Jocasta

    Jocasta

    Jocasta – Jocasta is a robotic heroine whose brain patterns were based on the Avenger known as the Wasp. Jocasta was created by the lfe-hating robot Ultron to be his bride. Yet along with the Wasp’s brain patterns came part of her personality, including her innate goodness causing Jocasta to turn against Ultron and siding with the heroic super team, the Avengers. During her time with the Avengers, Jocasta exhibited some of the wit and warmth of the Wasp, but was more introverted and unsure of her place among humans. Jocasta’s body is composed of titanium steel with remarkable superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and reflexes. She has a variety of abilities, including energy projection and manipulation, hyper-intelligence and perception and superhuman cybernetic analytical capabilities. Jocasta has recently returned to comics as a member of the Avengers full-time. I am looking forward to her regular appearances and seeing how they examine her personality with the recent death of the Wasp, and being a teammate with the Wasp’s ex-husband Hank Pym.

  8. Firebird

    Firebird

    Firebird – Bonita Juarez was a Roman Catholic Missionary in New Mexico when an encounter with a radioactive meteorite gave her the ability to generate and control flame. She has served as a member of the Southwestern team, The Rangers, and eventually and Avengers West Coast. In one of her most notable appearances, during a brief time where she changed her name to La Espirita, she saved Hank Pym from committing suicide. The two grew very close, and she was able to direct him on a new, affirming path, helping him to overcome several failings from his past. On a subsequent mission with the Avengers, she discovered that she is immortal, and poisons and radiations have no effect on her. She is also immune to demonic possession, can survive in the vacuum of space, and has a limited form of precognition. While these aspects of her power have never been fully explored, it has given her a unique outlook on her life given her faith as a catholic. She even helped Thor, the Asgardian god of thunder, to better understand the importance of the bonds he develops with mortals. What makes Firebird’s character so fascinating to me is her devout faith and how she reconciles that with her super-heroics.

  9. Valkyrie

    Valkyrie

    Valkyrie – Valkyrie is both the name and the designation of the Norse Goddess Brunnhilde, leader of the Valkyries, the Choosers of the Slain who bring fallen heroes to Valhalla. For many years Brunnhilde’s soul was forced to exist within the body of a mortal woman, Barbara Norriss. Much of Valkyrie’s tenure as one of the Defenders was while she was in Barbara’s body. While she still possessed great strength and unparalleled battle skills, those abilities were a pale reflection of what she was capable of once she was finally reunited with her true, Asgardian body. In addition to the exponential increase of strength, Brunnhilde regained her quasi-mystical powers of sensing the advance of death that is the nature of all Valkyries. Valkyrie went through some pretty confusing times before she regained her true form and all of her memories, and it was during this time that I grew to love her conflicted character. Once she regained her true form and the memories that went with it, her personality changed considerably, but she remained a fascinating character, a goddess with the power to face death and live.

  10. Karma

    Karma

    Karma – Karma (Xian Coy Manh) is a mutant who came to America from Viet Nam among the exodus after the war where her father was part of the South Vietnamese army. During their journey, her father was killed by Thai pirates, and she and her mother were both raped before her mother died as well. Xian was forced to mature quickly as she became the sole provider for her two younger siblings, her twin brother having been rescued years earlier by their crime-lord Uncle Nguyen. Upon arriving in the States, Nguyen tried to force Xian to work for him the way her twin brother did, and kidnapped her two younger siblings to try and force her. Using her psionic ability to possess others, she took control of Spider-Man in an attempt to rescue her siblings. Ultimately, Xian was able to free her younger siblings, but in the process was forced to combat her twin brother and essentially psychically absorbing him in to her psyche. From there Xian was placed in Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Children where she became one of the founding members of the New Mutants, the training ground for the next generation of X-Men. Karma is an interesting character as she is defined both by her strict Catholic upbringing and her emerging lesbianism. She is generally soft-spoken and kind but is courageous and dogged in her determination, having frequently to go up against impossible odds to protect her family.

  11. The Scarlet Witch

    The Scarlet Witch

    The Scarlet Witch – Wanda Maximoff is the mutant daughter of X-Men villain Magneto. She and her twin brother Pietro were raised by gypsies in Eastern Europe before falling in with their as-yet-unknown father Magneto, and his band of evil mutants. Wanda and Pietro turned their lives around by becoming members of the Avengers and learning about heroism from Captain America himself. It was with the Avengers that Wanda fell in love with and married the android the Vision, studied under the witch Agatha Harkness to learn true witchcraft to augment her mutant powers to affect probabilities, and mature out from behind her brother’s over-protective shadow to become a fierce, courageous heroine in her own right. Years ago the Scarlet Witch topped by list of favorite superheroines because of her fiercely strong will that was often expressed in impatience and ferocity against those who wished her ill, or were just ignorant, exposing their prejudices against either mutants, or the fact that she was married to an android. I blame writer John Byrne for the beginnings of the systematic destruction of her character, as he altered her powers, made her go insane, then destroyed her husband and two children, laying an unstable groundwork that later writers would occasionally pick up on. Kurt Busiek, a writer I generally like, furthered her descent in my eyes by having her behave in ways I felt were out of character, and current Marvel star-writer Brian Michael Bendis put the final nails in her coffin by turning her into a crazy villain with the power to alter reality (he picked this up from Byrne’s storyline) and had her kill her friends and depower millions of mutants. It is only for her long history that she is still on this list at all, although she has recently returned to the pages of the Avengers and I remain hopeful that she will become a fascinating character again.

  12. Jean Grey

    Jean Grey

    Jean Grey – One of the founding members of the X-Men, Jean Grey, known originally as Marvel Girl, then as Phoenix, was a telepath and telekinetic of unparalleled power. During a mission where she had to pilot a space shuttle back to earth to save her beloved friends, her body was ravaged to near death when she passed through intense solar radiation. She was saved by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix, who took Jean’s form and life while allowing her original body to recuperate. During that time, the Phoenix, whose powers manifested as the ultimate expression of telepathy and telekinesis, to the point of godhood, went insane and destroyed a world. During the resulting struggle with the Shiar and the X-Men, it was Jean’s capacity of heroism and self-sacrifice that allowed the Phoenix to apparently allow itself to be destroyed, saving the world. Jean later returned (in a story that was a cheap as it was poorly written) and became a mainstay of the X-Men again. Since then her power levels have fluctuated, with the Phoenix force returning time and time again as it’s legendary namesake would suggest. Jean’s fiery ferocity was tempered by a warmth and level-headedness, making her an intriguing character to read.

  13. Sif

    Sif

    Sif – The Lady Sif; accomplished warrior, Asgardian goddess, but most of all, Thor’s girlfriend. I first started to like Sif during a time where she wore a gauzy, feminine dress with a mini-skirt that seemed oh-so incongruous for a warrior. Sure she was capable with a sword, but she usually just fretted about Thor, pined that he loved Earth so much that he was never in Asgard (read: loved humanity more than her) or was threatened by the villain (usually Loki) so Thor would become enraged. I think I first grew to admire Sif during Thor #189-190, when Thor succumbed to the touch of Hela, goddess of death. Sif argued with the ice-hearted goddess, explaining to Hela about love, and finally offering herself in Thor’s place. Sif’s pleas touched Hela’s heart and she spared Thor. It was one of Thor’s most important battles, and for a change, Sif won it for him. Since then Sif has been portrayed as more of a warrior, and I especially enjoy the stories that show Sif among humans.

  14. Snowbird

    Snowbird

    Snowbird – Snowbird is the daughter of the Inuit goddess Nelvanna and a mortal man. She was conceived to battle the “Great Beasts” of Canada. To do this, she utilizes a series of supernatural abilities, most notably the ability to take the form of any animal, real or mythical, that his native to Canada. Some of her other abilities include flight, mystical senses, super strength, and a limited precognitive ability. During her earlier appearances she was tied to Canada geographically, and moving beyond its borders caused her to wither. This limitation has vanished since her first death and resurrection, where it was revealed she was able to celluarly regenerate. It was definitely Snowbird’s otherworldly appearance that first drew me to her. Her pale blonde here and empty black eyes, coupled with her jagged white and blue cloak were really cool. I also enjoyed the inherent contradiction of her god-like wisdom and her youthful inexperience. Her recent appearances as part of the “God-Squad” where she teams up with Hercules and other gods to battle the alien Skrull god have been nice to see.

  15. Gamora

    Gamora

    Gamora – The last of her species, Gamora was saved as a child by the Mad-Titan Thanos.  He raised her and trained her to be a weapon mand assassinate The Magus, an evil, alternate version of Warlock.  Thanos trained her in a deadly form of martial arts, and she soon picked up the nickname, “The deadliest woman in the galaxy.”  As a tean she was beaten and raped by a gang of interstellar thugs.  Thanos found her, killed her attackers, and saved her life by cybernetically augmenting her to superhuman levels.  While she ultimately failed to assassinate the Magus, she did help Warlock to defeat him before the two turnied on her former savior Thanos.  For a time she became romantically linked to Warlock and helped him protect the Inifinity Gems, becoming herself the caretaker of the Time Gem.  After parting ways with Warlock, Gamora decided to reestablish her reputation as the deadliest woman in the galaxy.  She led a band of women warriors called the Graces and became involved with the earth-hero Nova, saving the galaxy from the Annhilation Wave.  Now Gamora is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, reluctantly reunited with her past lover Warlock, and her former ally Drax the Destoyer.

  16. Diamondback

    Diamondback

    Diamondback – Rachel Leighton started her career as a supervillain associated with the Serpent Society.  This brought her into conflict with Captain America several times.  She was instantly smitten with the nobel hero and despite the fact that they fought on opposite sides of the law, Diamondback eventually left the Serpent Society and tried her hand at superheroics spending time with Captain America both as an ally in crimefighting and as a girlfriend.  The Serpent Society, assuming Rachel had betrayed their secrets to Captain America, kidnapped her and put her on trial.  She was rescued by Captain America and cut her ties with the Society.  She did retain her friendship with her ex-teammates Black Mamba and the Asp, with whom she formed BAD Girls, Inc. The trio shared a few adventures before disbanding.  Rachel’s relationship with Captain America eventually cooled, and Rachel found herself working on both sides of the law for a time.  Recently she became a member of one of  the government’s Avengers: Initiative teams.  As Diamondback, Rachel is an exceptionally skilled fighter, and is preternaturally skilled at pitching small objects.  She uses a variety of diamond shaped throwing weapons that are filled with various substances such as nitric acid, plastic explosives, or tear gas.

  17. Kitty Pryde

    Kitty Pryde

    Kitty Pryde – Katherine Pryde was a teenaged mutant discovered by Professor Xavier and the X-Men and invited to attend their School for Gifted Youngsters.  She was also approached by Emma Frost, the White Queen, to attend the Massachusetts Academy another school for mutants run by a one of the high court of the Hellfire Club.  Kitty instantly bonded with Storm, who was traveling with Professor Xavier, and went to Westchester, NY to learn with the X-Men.  At first she was kept from combat situations as she finished her schooling and learned how to use her powers effectively, but it wasn’t long before she was an active member of the team, using various codenames including Sprite, Ariel and Shadowcat.  Kitty acquitted herself well with the X-Men, eventually embarking on a relationship with Colossus.  She was briefly reassigned to the New Mutants, the X-Men’s junior team, much to her irate chagrin, but quickly proved to Professor Xavier that she deserved her place on the main team.  She shared a dark adventure with Wolverine in Japan where she spent time possessed by a demon, the Ninja Ogun.  This experience left her with ninja skills in addition to her mutant ability to phase through solid objects.  When Kitty phases through electronic devices she disrupts them.  Kitty also possesses a genius level of intelligence.  Kitty spent a lengthy period with the British team of mutants, Excalibur, before returning to the X-Men for Joss Whedon’s run on the series.  Kitty was last seen fused to a deadly “bullet” traveling through space.  She managed to save the earth by phasing the bullet through the planet, but has not been found since and is presumed lost.

  18. Martyr

    Martyr

    Quasar/Martyr (Phyla-Vell) – Phyla-Vell is the second artificially created offspring of the Kree hero Captain Marvel, who died of cancer before she was born.  Phyla came into existence after her brother Genis-Vell re-created the universe.  After helping to restore Genis’ sanity with the help of the mother Elysius, Phyla entered a relationship with Moondragon and the two traveled the stars.  Phylla was next seen during the Annhilation War when Thanos uses the pair to lure Drax the Destoyer (Moondragon’s father) into the conflict.  During the final conflict, Annihilus destroyed Wendell Vaughn’s (the original Quasar) mortal form and usurped the quantum bands from him.  Phyla manages to wrest the bands away from Annihilus and helps Nova to ultimately destroy him.  Phyla decides to honor Wendell’s memory by continuing on as the new Quasar.  Phyla and Moondragon are reunited and spend their time together helping the galaxy recover from the War.  During this time they bcome involved with the galactic struggle against the Phalanx.  During this struggle Phulla discovered her self-worth and heroism while Moondragon succumbed again to the Dragon of the Moon, physically beoming a dragon before falling before the deadly wrath of Ultron.  Feeling lost after Moondragon’s death and the subsequent defeat of both the Phalanx and Ultron, Quasar joins up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Phyla, along with Drax the Destoyer, entered the land of the dead to find Moondragon, and while there she strikes a deal with the Dragon of the Moon in exchange for Moondragon’s life.  Phyla emerged from this conflict with new abilities, a new look and a new codename, Martyr.  Phyla is superhumanly strong, and acts as an energy sponge, absorbing energy and firing it in the form of energy blasts.  During her time as Quasar she was in possession of the Quantum Bands.  Her new role as Martyr has found her with new unknown powers and acting as the avatar for Oblivion.

  19. Photon

    Photon

    Photon – Monica Rambeau is a former police officer who accidentally gained the superhuman ability to transform herself into energy and back at will.  She joined the Avengers as a trainee with the name Captain Marvel, so she could learn how to use her powers.  She became a protege of Captain America’s, rising quickly through the ranks of the Avengers until she bacame their leader.  After seriously injuring herself in a battle with Leviathan (the transformed Marrina) she took a leave of absence and found herself in comics limbo because most writers didn’t like to write her due to her vast powers.  When she did emerge again, it was as leader of a new team called Nextwave.  Her return also featured a change in attitude and personality from an earnest do-gooder to a bad-ass, angry black woman.  What has remained constant is her desire to do good and her powerful abilities.  Moinca is able to transform herself into any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum.

  20. Polaris

    Polaris

    Polaris – Lorna Dane appeared in the early issues of the X-Men as Iceman’s girlfriend, but it was sooned revealed that she herself was a mutant as well; a mutant with the power to control magnetism.  The X-Men’s arch villain Magneto claims to be Lorna’s father and kidnaps her, but she is rescued by the X-Men and joins with them, eventually turning her romantic attentions to Havok much to Iceman’s disappointment.  After a battle with Krakoa the Living Island that sees the formation of the New X-Men, Lorna and Havok retire from the team to pursue more scientific endeavors.  However the two are continually drawn back to the X-men to face a variety of challenges.  When the government agent Val Cooper forms X-Factor, Havok and Polaris are founding members.  During this time, Lorna becomes a mainstay of the team and the government’s secret weapon against a possible attack from Magneto.  During this time Havok and Polaris ended their romantic relationship and Lorna leaves the team to travel with Magneto to Genosha in order to keep an eye on him.  When the Sentinels destroyed Genosha, the trauma left Lorna emotinally scarred and metnally unstable.  Lorna is currently reunited with Havok romantically and the two are in space fighting alongside the Starjammers.

posted in Comics | at 10:59 pm | 53 Comments
10th July 2009
by Michael

Forever Plaid: Well, that explains a lot!

David&LarrySo, in lieu of Scot’s review of the FOREVER PLAID cinecast that we saw last night (thanks again, Mr. Caggiano!) I must confess that I developed a little crush on David Engel, the actor who played Smudge in the show. Like Scot says, he’s adorably goofy, but also very handsome, and carries off the nerdy glasses really well. He’s also got a nice voice and is very charismatic on stage.

So this morning, after reading Scot’s post, I was doing a little google searching for pictures of David and what I found put a little smile on my face. David Engel and Larry Raben (Jason Graae’s replacement as Sparky) are more than just partners in entertainment… it turns out they are life partners as well, as stated in this interview in Grigware Talks Theatre. They’re engaged, and have been a couple of around 15 years. Isn’t that sweet? No wonder I found him so attractive.

posted in Nonsense | at 7:14 am | 3 Comments
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