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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in stingpin's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006
9:32 pm
New Avengers 17: best issue yet! (gush gush)
Bendis' New Avengers has had its ups and downs, but man, was this issue ever an UP. Just entertaining in so many ways. Comedy, action, great story points... I haven't enjoyed many comics this thoroughly lately.

The Avengers staking out a random neighborhood -- brilliant.

The reporter's reaction to running across them in Detroit's Highland Park -- priceless.

The threat coming in from Canada -- scary.

Touching on Sentry -- unavailable because he's got emotional problems -- nice.

Iron Man asking Spidey to help as a scientist rather than a super hero -- cool.

Carol Danvers barging in just when Iron Man's getting somewhere with the flaming guy -- totally in character.

Cap's line "seat belts" -- friggin' hilarious.

The last page -- Ooh, this looks good.

Can the next issue be any better?!
Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
8:37 pm
Well done, I guess, but geez...
Having read the first two installments of "The Blood of Apocalypse" (X-MEN 182 & 183), I'm feeling kind of torn. I mean, it's a well-told story, but it's pretty heavy on the "squirm factor."

First of all, we have ol' Poccy painfully turning a character named Gazer into the horseman War. While what we see of the transformation process is not overly graphic, just the fact that he's screaming so much from the pain made me awfully uncomfortable.

Sunfire has been turned into the horseless horseman Famine. Somehow, Sunfire lost his legs --I'm not sure, but it may have happened in the Wolverine "Enemy of the State" storyline. Don't quite recall now. Anyway, that was kind of squirm-inducing, too.

Poccy plans to wipe out most of humanity, and let the remaining ones battle it out with those mutants that remain (following House of M, when many mutants lost their powers) for world dominance. To save some humans from pestilence, he tempts them into drinking an antidote that he refers to has "blood". Not looking forward to finding out where he's getting this stuff.

Then, seemingly without any foreshadowing, Gambit decides to join forces with Poccy and drinks some blood. I just couldn't quite make that fit with Gambit's characterization. There didn't seem to be enough impetus for him to take a step like that.

The gloomy, odd way that Aron Lusen colored Salvador Larroca's art in #183 added to the feeling of overpowering menace. Which I'm sure is the feeling the creative team was going for. But I just didn't feel it was quite necessary to have the characters, especially Gazer, in so much pain. For what purpose? Is this entertaining somehow? To someone?
Saturday, April 29th, 2006
9:37 pm
Playing catchup
Life has been insane lately, and hasn't allowed me to keep up on this blog, although I've kept up on reading comics. A few quick comments on some stuff I've read:

REVELATIONS final issue: Wwwwwhat? This was probably the most unsatisfying end to a murder mystery I've ever seen. Suddenly, the story is supernatural. Not a clever plot twist so much as an abrupt genre change.

SPIDER-MAN & BLACK CAT final issue: Not "The evil that men do" but " the flashbacks that men have." In these last two or three issues, virtually all the important action was taking place at various points in the past! And then another completely unsatisfying ending -- it wasn't an ending at all. Great, another guy will be Mysterio now. I was hoping for an actual, you know, END.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 14: This is more like it. Ed Brubaker's run on Cap has been great so far. Probably the best Marvel I'm currently reading. Although I'd hesitate to recommend it to anyone but a Marvel fanboy. Not the kind of thing that would interest the unconvinced that reading comics is worthwhile. For that, maybe I'd break out Alex Robinson's TRICKED.

THING 4: Why, when Dan Slott's SHE-HULK is so much fun, is Dan Slott's THING so cliched and boring? I'd cancel my subscription, but it's probably going to get cancelled soon anyway, so maybe I'll wait it out. The art's great, though.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN 23: Why, when Marvel has made a habit of "rebooting" comics to #1, did they turn around and change the title of MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN without rebooting?? I'm baffled. Story was OK, but I've never heard Mary Jane swear so much. Seems out of character for her.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006
9:21 am
The Other
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man 4: The Other pt 10. This "event" story is finally becoming mildly interesting. Now that we're done with all the dying and resurrection nonsense and kind of finally getting to the point of the whole storyline.

New Thunderbolts 17: Baron Von Strucker is revealed to be alive, and Swordsman is revealed to be his son, who was being controlled by Baron Zemo via the Purple Man. Got all that?

This was a case where I really wish Marvel would go back to using footnotes. Apparently some people complained that they were just shameless plugs and interrupted the flow of the story, but often I appreciated them, especially in a case like this where they're referencing an event in another title -- in this case, Strucker's apparent death, killed by his wife in an issue of Wolverine during Mark Millar's "Enemy of the State" storyline. Supposedly the man killed in that story turns out to have been some kind of genetic duplicate of Strucker -- go figure. Anyway, I thought it would have been better for them to reference the relevant issue of Wolverine, but all they mentioned (on the review page at the beginning of the issue) was the Wolverine crossover with Thunderbolts during "Enemy of the State", right before Strucker supposedly died.

I've read some other comics lately, too, but don't have anything specific to say about them -- and I've got a lot of other stuff going on right now. Briefly, they were Avengers 44 (Sept 2001), Simpsons 114, and Cable 22 (August 1995).
Saturday, March 18th, 2006
9:29 am
Please defend me from Defenders
Defenders #4 -- This issue was played less for laughs than for gross-out. Did we really need to see hellish versions of our realities super-heroes? Did we really need to see evil Dr. Strange tell evil Thing to cut out non-evil Clea's tongue? (At least we didn't see it actually happen.) And the intended jokes there were just seem stale and predictable. If this were a regular series, I'd cancel my subscription. But it's only 5 issues, so I guess I'll suffer through the last one, since I already have it!

What got into J.M. DeMatteis, anyway? He's certainly been capable of better than this in the past...
Friday, March 17th, 2006
5:07 pm
What Lorna Saw

What Lorna saw Gatchapin
What Lorna Saw Gatchapin

Some resemblance there, I'd say....

Thursday, March 16th, 2006
3:59 pm
But I've seen one of those before!
X-MEN 180: "What Lorna Saw" -- if you haven't been reading, the X-men (well, one team of them) were out in space a few issues back (just imagine if they were ALL in space -- man, Marvel earth would be noticibly less crowded!) and Lorna (Polaris) saw something out there. But what was it? Well, finally we get to see it on the last page of this issue. And somehow it looked... familiar. But not from Marvel Comics. Reminded me of a character from a Japanese children's show!

CABLE & DEADPOOL 24: "Sticky Situations" -- Deadpool is great.. with the right writer. Fortunately, Fabian Nicieza is one of the best there is at writing 'Pool. He should be, he created the character! A good Deadpool writer has to make the Merc with a Mouth's comments roll-on-the-floor funny, make him murderous, but not try to make death something humorous. Some of the later writers in the old Deadpool series made that mistake, before Gail Simone made the series, if not as awesome as it was under Joe Kelly, at least readable. The name of the offending writer escapes me now...

Anyway, in this issue 'Pool is after a Daily Bugle reporter who just happens to have Peter Parker in tow -- thus, guess who guest stars? Fine, except... I didn't think Pete worked for the Bugle anymore! His job has ostensibly been teaching high school, except what with dying and being reborn, he hasn't had much time to be a teacher. At any rate, J. Jonah Jameson has practically become a non-character in the Spidey books. So it seemed a stretch to have Pete asking him for an advance in this issue -- perhaps 'Pool was meeting an earlier version of Spidey again, like he did in Deadpool 11? (Man, was that a hoot! Deadpool traveled back to the time of Amazing Spider-Man 47 and interacted with the story from that classic issue. See http://www.samruby.com/OtherTitles/Xmen/deadpool11.htm for more.)

Except... Spidey mentions being an Avenger in this issue. Don't think he's worked for JJJ since becoming an Avenger. Nice continuity, guys.

Anyway, that aside, this was another fun issue.

THE COMPLETE PEANUTS vol 2: Just starting. Lots of laughs already. Don't know anyone who hates Peanuts!

Current Mood: content
Monday, March 13th, 2006
5:37 pm
League of Extraordinarily Troubled Gentlemen
Yesterday I read "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" vol. 2. If you haven't read it (and you probably have -- it's been out a while!), be prepared for quite a shocker of a story. While Martians attack, our heroes... do nasty things to each other. Some of them consensual.

As my podcast-mate Mulele said, the way this story ends, it's hard to imagine how Alan Moore can do a volume 3, which is supposed to be on the way. Did some Googling on this today, though, and found that Vol. 3 is supposed to take place mainly in the 1950s with a different group of protagonists. Likely to be interesting.

Look for a discussion of "LXG" on a future Deconstructing Comics podcast.

Briefly, I've also read:

DEFENDERS 3: Hey, one of the jokes was funny.

SIMPSONS 113: Since when is an ORPHANAGE funny?! DEFENDERS was funnier than this issue.

THOR 39: Yes, a back issue. The one where Odin splits Thor from Jake Olson. Geesh, another September 2001 Marvel with a pivotal event in it. As if they knew in advance, somehow, that everything would change that month...

WOLVERINE 27: Logan remembers his past. The story we've all waited for, right? Well, it probably would've been better if they'd done it in the '80s or '90s. Now, Wolverine stories consist mostly of our "hero" committing murder after murder, maiming after maiming, and unfortunately this is no exception. I'm pulling the plug on my subscription, but it won't actually run out till this storyline is over (three more issues).

X-FORCE 44: (July 1995) The first post-Apocolypse issue. Sam gets promoted to X-man. Siryn gets carted off by the Men in White Coats. What's up with that?

Current Mood: impressed
Friday, March 10th, 2006
5:42 pm
A very special episode of "Spidey & Black Cat"
Read two comics since last post:

Spider-Man & Black Cat: The Evil Men Do #5: This issue got stamped with a parental advisory (not that the average comics-browser would notice, since it's written in thin, tiny letters in the UPC box) because it deals with rape, including homosexual rape. Sort of. The issues are touched on in such a "wink wink, nudge nudge" way that, if I were a 10-year-old kid, I'm not sure I'd understand what was happening or why it had a parental advisory! Lots of "No, I don't want to do that" coming from the next room, with "that" left undefined in most cases.

This issue was also a bit long on flashback. Not only was Francis telling Black Cat the back story about himself and his brother, but meanwhile special guest sales-grabber Nightcrawler was telling Spidey and Daredevil about Nazi treatment of mutants! So this was a very talky issue, and I have no clear idea how Kevin Smith is intending to wrap up the series next issue. Starting off issue 4 (which came out three years late -- what's the deal there?!) with the death of the villian was certainly an unexpected move and drove this series in, I think, a less promising direction.

Sentry 4: Told from the viewpoint of Sentry's psychiatrist. More flashbacks, and not much story progress. IS there a story here? It's sort of interesting to look into the nature of his mental illness, but I'm really feeling that Sentry gets less interesting the more he's used. I think he would have been better off left alone after the original mini-series, which was wonderfully haunting. Bendis resolved the lingering mystery in New Avengers, and has barely used the character since; Paul Jenkins -- the creator of the character -- seems to be scraping for story in this second mini.

Current Mood: blah
Monday, March 6th, 2006
5:05 pm
(I'm feeling) Rundown of the past week
Well, so far blogging daily about my comics reading hasn't turned out the way I'd hoped! Last week turned out to be especially hectic. A quick rundown of the week in my comics reading pile:

* X-FORCE 43: Yeah, that's right, from February 1995. Wanna make somethin' of it?

Here's the story. I'm a Deadpool fan, and I learned some years ago that Deadpool debuted in NEW MUTANTS #98. (By number #98, presumably they weren't so new anymore. I can never understand why comics -- and other things -- have "new" in their titles, when inevitably they will not remain new. "AGING MUTANTS"?) So I got that and then decided to read NEW MUTANTS/X-FORCE up to the point where the DEADPOOL series began (dated December 1996) as a prelude to re-reading those great Joe Kelly issues (not to mention the two mini-series). Turns out, though, that Deadpool didn't appear in X-Force all that much. And it also turns out that (surprise, surprise) Marvel wouldn't be content to let you read only one title -- they had to branch Cable out into his own series, and then have crossovers with NEW WARRIORS (there's that "NEW" again) and, of course, the X books. So I've been buying all these crossovers from back issue retailers, as well.

X-FORCE 43 brings us up to the beginning of the AGE OF APOCALYPSE event, during which they stopped publishing all the regular mutant books for FOUR MONTHS while publishing a scad of different books making up a million-part (give or take) series.

OK, the setup to the event was fairly interesting, but come on, I'm on a budget here. I ain't searching out the back issues or the paperbacks. Instead, I got a synopsis on the Web for free!


This Wikipedia link has some other decent links listed at the bottom.

* "Five is the Perfect Number": Italian graphic novel. Soon to be discussed on the Deconstructing Comics podcast (http://www.globalcomics.net/podcast)

* BLACK PANTHER 11: The best issue of this series since it began, basically. I was about ready to give up on it. I kind of liked the comedic angle. Reggie Hudlin is OK, but I still miss Priest.

* NEW AVENGERS 14: (Again with the NEW business!) This was a good issue. Much of Jessica Drew's story revealed -- and much of Jessica revealed as well, as she lies on an operating table. Not the sexiest of tableaus... drawn by Frank Cho, of course.

* DEFENDERS 2: My usual comics supplier couldn't get this issue for me, and it took me a long time to get around to ordering it from someone else. I wouldn't mind the comic tone of this miniseries, if it were actually... funny. The relationship between Dormammu and his sister is getting tiresome fast.

* THUNDERBOLTS 54: Dated Sept '01, a fateful month, this was a fateful issue, with the "return" of Humus Sapien, a character invented for a Marvel contest 25 years before but never used in a comic until this issue. Fun stuff.

* REVELATIONS 4: I picked up this Dark Horse miniseries because it was on the cover of Previews and looked interesting. Written by Paul Jenkins, drawn by Humberto Ramos. But it hasn't quite lived up to expectations... or rather, it's lived up to expectations EXCESSIVELY, because it's so predictable. As soon as the character Lucy appeared (in #2, if memory serves), it was utterly predictable that she and main character Charlie Northern would do the nasty before the series was over, and sure enough, issue 4, there they are, gettin' it on. But with virtually no actual emotion shown by either of them. They just seemed like friends who were discussing the murder case and suddenly, shagtime. There's a dimension that's just somehow missing from this whole series.

* CAPTAIN AMERICA 13: I had pretty much given up on Cap, but Marvel's hype that Ed Brubaker's run would be good sounded convincing, and it was right. This is one of Marvel's best titles at the moment. It's genuinely interesting. Certainly beats the crap out of "Spider-Man: The Other".

Today, I'm in post-Apocalypse X-land with CABLE 21. I'm continuing to slog toward DEADPOOL #1, but I'm now wishing I had just started re-reading DEADPOOL years ago! On the other hand, re-reading those Joe Kelly issues deserves a big buildup.

Current Mood: contemplative
Monday, February 27th, 2006
10:57 am
What I'm reading
I'm now planning to post as often as possible about what I'm reading. Specifically in comics. You probably don't care that I'm reading Time magazine.

Be advised, however, that I'm running behind, in part simply because it's unavoidable. I live in Japan and get my comics from a subscription service in the States. So I get some comics a month after they come out. But I'm also running behind on reading because I'm juggling so many other things, so I generally read a comic in the month it's dated, which is probably at least two months after it hit comics stores.

So over the weekend I read parts 8 and 9 of the SPIDER-MAN: THE OTHER crossover. I have yet to see the point of this storyline. The early chapters were total throwaway. You could just plain skip the first three or four chapters and not miss anything.

The meat of the story was Spidey's battle with Morlun, in which he was mortally wounded but eventually killed Morlun before dying himself. But Pete rose on the third day... (Pete Rose? Didn't he get in trouble for betting on... no, no...)

Yes, jokes upon jokes here.

So the spider in Peter shed its skin, formed a cocoon, and Peter hatched out of it, with some kind of vision telling him that he needs to be true to the spider in him. I have my doubts as to whether this is going to have that big an effect on future Spidey stories, though.

This would have seemed to be a good place to end THE OTHER, but now there are three more frickin' chapters. I'm mildly interested in seeing where they're going with this, but more interested in seeing this stupid event finish so they can get back to somewhat more interesting stories.

Current Mood: cynical
Friday, January 6th, 2006
3:09 pm
Oh, that's right... I have a blog!
Geesh. It's hard to even think of anything to write when I'm so busy with other stuff. I guess I'll just write about what's keeping me busy.

Still doing the Web comic, The Crazing Spider-Hag, but only once a week this month instead of twice (which will slow down the story so it's even harder to follow! self-flagellate, self-flagellate) because of the other stuff I'm doing.

Deconstructing Comics podcast, which I'm doing with two other guys. Sometimes we review comics in terms of the story, other times more for the storytelling skills (or lack thereof) of the artist. Other times we give lists of our favorites or discuss some philosophical question.

My second English-study book is going to be released here in Japan next month.

Oh, yeah, and then I have my full-time job! Plus a little English teaching.

Current Mood: rushed
Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
3:06 pm
I'm too busy to blog!
...but I guess I'll keep up the pretense anyway by posting when I have time!

The logjam on progress on my second book was broken last Wednesday, and now I'm scrambling to get it together so it can be in stores by Christmas. It's a collection of my columns from Mainichi Weekly, an English study newspaper here in Japan. My first book was done for a different publisher on basically the same topic as my column, which is mistakes that Japanese make in English. The difference is that my column attempts to focus on *common* mistakes, while the first book was about mistakes that individuals had made on an English speaking test made by the same publisher. They were not necessarily common mistakes, and in many cases the sentences contained not one particular mistake, but were just mangled English. For example, "I was said that a famous talent looks like." Translation: "My friend said I look like a certain celebrity."

Listening to Love and Rockets now -- "Sweet F.A."
Thursday, August 18th, 2005
4:55 pm
Atlanta Rhythm Section
I bought a collection of Atlanta Rhythm Section hits on iTunes yesterday for 6.99. In case you're not familiar, they were a band who had some hits in the mid- and late '70s. As soon as 1980 dawned, they fell off the edge of the earth. Ironically, their fame ran parallel to disco, even though they were hardly a disco band. Just one of the many Southern rock bands of that era, like Lynard Skynard, Firefall, etc.

"So Into You" is still my favorite of theirs. I was about 12 the first time I heard it. I guess it had a kind of sexuality to it that made it appealing, although the music itself was what I really liked. And what topped it off was that guitar squeak just before the fadeout, more like a bird call than feedback. With an echo on it, there's something really exciting about it!

OK, that was nearly 30 years ago... grandpa's going back to his rocking chair now...

Current Mood: nostalgic
11:30 am
This morning when I took my daughter to day care, some of the boys started saying I looked pregnant. Now, I'm a little overweight, but to an extent that wouldn't really be noticed in the States, I think. But the average Japanese is still relatively slender.

Now, to have four-year-olds bugging me about this, is a little annoying, but understandable. What really bugs me is that there are 40-year-old guys in Japan who still think this is funny! A few years ago I got pretty angry at a guy who was (at least physically) an adult and asked me "how many months?" or something stupid like that. They don't even seem to think it's insulting.

Current Mood: annoyed
Wednesday, August 17th, 2005
4:25 pm
My comic, The Crazing-Spider Hag, is currently on vacation. I'm taking this hiatus in order to build up a stock of pages while also trying to develop a new comic. The intent is to actually get a comic published ON PAPER. What a concept.

Spider-Hag will resume publication on September 1, appearing every Monday and Thursday.

Current Mood: working
4:24 pm
Welcome to my new blog.

My bio mentions that I live in Japan. I work on a U.S. air base, so I see some American TV. This morning on the CBS Evening News (time difference!), I saw the most (unintentionally) hilarious thing.

They were talking about gasoline prices, talking to people in a gas station about how they're coping. One hugely overweight woman had some tips: "I try to keep my car in good shape... And keep it as light as possible; not carry around a lot of extra junk..."


Maybe you had to be there.
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