Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Game is Afoot

Am I the only one who's really enjoying Death of the New Gods? I'm finding it to be an incredibly fun mystery/superhero tale. There's all sorts to like about. Foremost among them the fact that the New Gods are dying.

Now, I've said before that I like the fact that the New Gods are getting axed. That remains as true today as it did in days of yore. But Death of the New Gods is so much more than just gods being killed left and right. As I said, it's a grand mystery.

The mystery isn't just who's killing the New Gods (though Superman seems to believe he knows). It's also about the why and the how. Why has this killer been gifted with powers beyond what he normally possesses? And why is he using them the way he is? Those are the big mysteries.

And there's not just mystery... There's also suspense. When I was reading issue #4 I kept holding my breath, waiting to see who was going to be offed on the next page. Usually I don't feel that way reading comics. Either because the deaths seem so shallow -- or because nobody dies at all.

But for some reason Starlin has created a story where each death -- even if it's of an insignificant character that nobody knows -- feels important. And that's quite an accomplishment.

So I look forward to seeing this series continue. Seeing the Gods drop left and right as Superman -- the story's resident Sherlock Holmes (with x-ray vision!) tries to ferret out the answers.

The game is afoot.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

No Love For Snapper Carr

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Night Thinking XXIX

Tonight's Thursday Night Thinking is courtesy Jack of Fables -- the gift that keeps on thinking!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Filler Post #743

I've been going over and over through my brain tonight, desperately trying to come up with something to post about.

I have failed.

In that spirit, please accept this image of Miss Martian doing what she does best. Namely, looking cute.

Enjoy your Boxing Day!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Kill Starman

I do not like this "Starman" who has joined the Justice Society of America. It is not the fact that he's a superhero. And it's not the fact his mealtime antics make me physically ill (though they do). No, I despise this Starman because he gives the mentally ill a bad name.

As I have both a medical degree and personal experience with mental illness, I believe I am uniquely qualified to address this topic. And allow me to make the following statement: all those "crazy," "wacky" things Starman does? He doesn't do them because he's schizophrenic. He does them because he's an idiot

Oh how the fool grates upon me! His constant yammering. The spitting. His constant antics are an embarrassment. And I can assure you that they have nothing to do with his illness. If he's even sick at all.

Yes, that's right. I'm calling you out, Starman. I think you're faking it -- I think you're doing it all just for the attention. Now, I know my pathetic nephew Damage has legitimate problems (thanks in part to my despicable brother). He is a genuinely troubled young man. You, Starman? You just want people to look at you.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Look to the Skies

So I hear tell they're making a Justice League of America movie. I'll believe that when I see it on screen and not a moment before. Of course, it could be happening. I'll admit I know nothing at all about it. I'm one of those people who avoids reading about movies and watching trailers. I avoid them like the plague. I hate being spoiled.

So, forgive me if my idle speculation is completely moot. I was just thinking about who the villain should be in this hypothetical JLA movie. I know what I would do if I was making a Justice League movie. It's pretty elemental, after all.

See, I'd start with a bunch of lesser supervillains organized into some sort of "Injustice Gang." Guys like Captain Cold, Metallo, and Doctor Polaris (who is in no way a "lesser" supervillain). There'd be some throwdowns, a few cool scenes involving the various heroes facing off against their respective adversaries. And then, for the big finale, it gets revealed that there's one big thing driving it all: STARRO!

Who would be better for a big screen over-the-top JLA film? A giant, super-intelligent, space-faring, mind-controlling alien starfish! Just try and tell me that the prospect of Starro the Conqueror tearing it up in IMAX doesn't make you weak in the knees. It would be glorious

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Libra Libra Libra

There's an interview with Dan DiDio over at Newsarama. Mr. DiDio's got a lot to say about Countdown, Final Crisis, and the future of the DC Universe.

But me being an obsessive follower of the old and the new, I was immediately drawn to this exchange:

DD: [laughs] Who else? Libra is a good one.

NRAMA: ...

The Newsarama interviewer was suitably unimpressed. I, on the the other hand, was immediately smitten. Especially after getting a look at this mysterious "Libra:"

Hooded and gloved? Check. Masked visage? Check. Crazy theme? Double check. Literally.

Now, I'm already on the Libra bandwagon thanks to the general air of mysteriousness and the fact that I was born between September 23 and October 22. So I don't need to know anything else. But perhaps the rest of you ache with curiosity. If you lack my mind-boggling knowledge of the DC Universe I will reveal this to you: "Libra" is not a new character.

Once upon a time a guy calling himself "Libra" formed an "Injustice Gang" composed of the saddest villains this side of Gotham City. It was all a ruse, of course. When the villains inevitably failed Libra took the opportunity to steal half of the JLA's powers. Then he overreached (as all good villains do) and was sort of destroyed. It happens.

There's no way of knowing if this new Libra has any connection to the old one. I'm betting he will -- but only slightly. My guess is that once again DC is dusting off an old name and sliding someone new into it. And if the result is as impressive as that costume, It'll all balance out.

...

Sorry.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

This is the Beginning of the End

This post is not about comics. It has nothing to do with comics. This post is about me.

I don't reveal much about myself here on the blog. I prefer to encourage an air of mystery -- much like the Phantom Stranger. But I'm sure that by now you've all gleaned that I am an English teacher who works in Japan. Before too much longer, that will all change.

Today was the due date for my "re-contracting intention form." I faxed it to my bosses this morning. And I told that that I will not be staying in Japan for a fourth year. Which means in about six months I'll be returning to the United States. Probably for good.

I don't know what I'll be doing there. I know I'll visit a comic shop. And spend some time reacquainting myself with friends and family. But beyond that, I have no idea. In truth, it's a little scary. I'm trading a comfortable job I enjoy for a future that could be anything. But it's time for me to move on.

I've been doing this blog for about two years now. That entire time I've been in Japan. In all honesty, it's been hard writing about American comics in Japan. No local comic book shop gossip. No quarter bins to file through. Which is why you shouldn't be worried that I'll stop. No, I'll keep this going until I die or somebody destroys Earth-Prime.

But I just thought I'd get it out there, the fact that I'm moving into the Great Unknown. But it's not that scary. Hell, I may see some of you there...

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Night Thinking XXVIII

Tired of all the jibber jabber? Then sit for a spell and do some thinking. Thursday Night Thinking!

All is possible Kent Nelson... As long as you think it so!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Green Lantern

I think it's safe to talk about Green Lantern #25 and the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps War. But just in case you've been living under a rock and haven't read it, well... Spoilers ahoy.

Now, I've never been a big fan of Hal Jordan. I think that's been abundantly clear over the past two years. I've made numerous posts denigrating his intelligence and personal grooming habits. Hell, one of my co-bloggers was a member of Hal's rogue's gallery.

But one thing I have always enjoyed is the work of Geoff Johns. Sure, sometimes his stuff is derivative. And a little too enamored with itself. But over all, he manages to put out entertaining superhero stories month after month that genuinely surprise me. And that's what I'm looking for in my comics.

So it should come as no surprise that despite the fact that Green Lantern is largely about Hal Jordan, I enjoyed the heck out of the Sinestro Corps War. It was huge, over the top, and full of pretty pictures.

And dear God, the villains. So many, and so many good ones. Has Sinestro ever seemed as evil as he does now? By giving Hal better villains, Geoff Johns has made him a better superhero.

It's not only that, however. Even though Hal Jordan is still a pompous, preening ass, Geoff Johns has managed to humanize him. He's made me if not like Hal, then at least respect him. And that's better than most of the real-life Hal Jordan's get (and I've know more than my fair share).

What I'm saying is that somehow Geoff Johns has managed to take one of my least favorite characters and make me excited about reading his adventures every month. I want to find out what happens to Hal Jordan. And that's no small feat.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Limited Time Offer

I am troubled by this "Lord" Havok and his "Extremists." Specifically, I am concerned about the man who calls himself "Doctor" Diehard.

Am I to understand that this helmet-wearing charlatan possesses magnetism-related superpowers? That he dares to try to usurp Polaris's rightful position as the multi-verse's preeminent Maestro of Magnetism?

What sort of man is this "Lord" Havok that he allows pale imitations such as Diehard to serve with him? If Havok seeks true magnetic might he could have called me. I am available. I've placed full-page ads in The Daily Planet and The Gotham Gazette. All should now be aware that my villainous mastery of magnetism is only a phone call away.

And yet, I find no takers. Do Havok and his ilk fear me? Surely that is the only explanation. They tremble at the thought of serving with Polaris. For they know that if they stand alongside me, all that they are -- their powers, their intelligence, their virility -- will pale in comparison to the glory of Doctor Polaris.

Know this: I pity the insecurities of these inadequate fools. And Polaris does not pity often. So I suggest they take me upon my offer. Before it is rescinded...

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Ret-retcon

Well, it seems that Geoff Johns is retelling Hal Jordan's origin. This'll be what, like the fourth time?

That being said, it's probably not a bad idea. As much as I think Hal Jordan is a pompous jackass, I don't think he's the kind of guy to drive drunk. Sure, he's the kind of guy who drives without his seatbelt, but certainly not drunk.

That attempted retcon of Hal Jordan's origin always felt off to me. It was like they were trying to hard to give the man faults. And it's not like they needed to give him extra faults in the first place. The man is vain, clumsy, and a total moron. Aren't those enough flaws for one man?

I imagine Geoff Johns will be further retconning Abin Sur and the "Blackest Knight" prophecy while at the same time adding to the Air Force element of Hal Jordan's backstory.

I'm finding myself strangely intrigued by the possibilities. Don't tell the Doctor.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Second Stage

A while back I delved into etymology and looked at the significance of Forerunner as a "Harbinger."

We've seen a lot of Forerunner since then. And it's still not clear what her role in the greater scheme of things is. Since her appearance she's traveled the multiverse, had her world destroyed, and been left adrift in space by Monarch.

But I'm not here to talk about Forerunner. Another Harbinger has appeared. Behold, the preview for Countdown #19:

The speaker is undoubtedly the Godkiller -- slayer of the Fourth World. Here, he (or she) self identifies as a "Harbinger."

I doubt this is an accident. Nothing happening in Countdown is an accident. We can only assume that we are meant to see the Godkiller as another Harbinger.

Which means we've got two -- Forerunner and the Godkiller. And seeing as we're building to a Final Crisis, I wouldn't be surprised if a few more showed up down the line...

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Friday, December 14, 2007

The Second Annual Title Undetermined Blogoversary Spectacular

Greetings, friends. Welcome to Title Undetermined's Second Annual Blogoversary Spectacular! Not only is this the blog's two year birthday, it's also the 450th post. I can't believe I've kept this up for so long.

I lieu of actual content, I'd like to direct you to some of my favorite posts from the past. Classic Title Undetermined, if you will. I hope y'all enjoy reading this blog as much as we enjoy writing it.

Here's to another year!

Wild Dog Week!

This is... Wild Dog Week!
This is... Wild Dog Week, Day 2!
This is... Wild Dog Week, Day 3!
This is... Wild Dog Week, Day 4!
This is... Wild Dog Week, Day 5!
This is... Wild Dog Week, Day 6!
This is... Wild Dog Week, Day 7!

Azrael's Job Hunt:

Employment
Job Hunt: Week 1, Day 1
Job Hunt: Week 1, Day 5
Job Hunt: Week 2, Day 4
Job Hunt: Week 4, Day 1
Comics Burn

The Angry Missives of Doctor Polaris:

I'm Going to Get You
Prepare For My Mighty Sarcasm
I Cannot Abide the Prattling of Fools
I Shall Have My Revenge
I Shall Not Be Denied
The Media

Bonus! Doctor Polaris' firsthand account of his torrid affair with the Emerald Empress!

31st Century Nights

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Night Thinking XXVII

As always: Thursday Night Thinking!

Schemers, plotters, and... Angsters?

Methinks Deadman needs a vacation...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back to This

Here's a topic I haven't talked about in a long time: Cassandra Cain.

She showed up in Batman and the Outsiders #2, you know. In costume as Batgirl. It was a very "old school" Cassandra kind of scene, what with the one-liner and the unnecessary violence.

I listened to an interview with Chuck Dixon a while ago. He talked about putting Batgirl on the team. It was an editorial decision, it seems. And that makes me very leery. I mean, the last few "editorial decisions" regarding Cassandra Cain taught her Navajo and had her toting a sniper rifle. Not what I'm looking for.

But despite that, I'm optimistic. From what I heard in the interview, Mr. Dixon seems to get Cassandra's character. He wrote a number of issues of her original series and has a pretty good idea of how she's supposed to work. So here's hoping things turn out all right.

I'm actually more interested in the issue of Detective that Mr. Dixon mentions in the interview. He said that he'd written a Detective fill-in that shows how Batman is able to come to trust Cassandra again. That's going to take some hoop-jumping...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Manganese

A question I never get asked is "why don't you ever talk about manga? You live in Japan." I wonder why I never get asked that question...

Regardless, I asked myself the question today on that long, mind-numbing bus ride that I take every day to work. So I think I deserve an answer. Here goes:

I just don't like manga.

Not the answering you were expecting, I take it? After all, how can someone who lives in Japan and really likes Japanese things not like manga? I mean, I like anime. And some of my favorite anime is based off of manga. How exactly does that work?

It's actually pretty simple when you get down to it. I'm a student of superheroics. I live and breathe superhero comics. With the occasional exception (such as Fables) that's all I read. There are almost no "proper" superhero comics under the manga umbrella.

There are concepts I like in manga, though. Such as giant robots. I'm nuts for mecha. But here's the thing: most Japanese mecha tales start in animation and then move to comics. Because giant robot fighting is highly conducive to bright, colorful motion.

All the anime I enjoy is stuff that includes a lot of action. It's all movement and motion that works beautifully animated. And when you compare an anime like that to its black and white static counterpart, well... It pales in comparison.

So now you're wondering how I can read Western comics. Because they don't move either. Which is true. But there is something about the Western style that seems to lend more motion -- more life -- to the artwork. I know many would disagree, but I feel most manga lacks that liveliness.

So there you have it, folks. It's a bit incoherent, I know. But that's the reason why I tend to steer clear of manga. Sure, I read it to keep my Japanese on the up and up. But when I want to be entertained?

Nothing compares to a home-cooked meal...

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Attention Monarch

To Monarch:

If you're reading this, I would like to offer you my services. As the Batman of Earth-8, I feel that I can be of great use to you in your attempts to conquer the Multiverse.

I know that you probably don't think much of me. But I have many admirable qualities! I'm very good at taking orders from self-proclaimed messiahs. And I can see that you certainly fit that bill. I'm also very good at setting things on fire. Surely you have things that need to be set on fire...

If you do decide to take me on, can you put me somewhere where I don't have to kill anybody? I don't do that anymore. I'd be happy to beat anybody you'd like to a bloody pulp. Just no killing.

Please. I really need the work.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fool!

Though I know very little about Marvel's recent Spider-Man event "One More Day" beyond hearsay and conjecture, what I have heard does little to dissuade me from my opinion that Peter Parker is a complete and utter fool.

Allow me to elucidate further for those of you who like to pretend you are Wolverine and as such are unable to grasp the obvious. Let us consider the following:
  • Noted fool Peter Parker has an incredibly hot wife.
  • Noted fool Peter Parker has an elderly, decrepit, drain-on-society of an aunt.
Now imagine that you are Peter Parker. You are told you must choose between a smoking redhead with whom you can have sex or a wretched crone whom you must feed with a spoon. A man of my esteemed brilliance needs no time at all to calculate the variables involved. As such, I take the readhead, "tiger."

But what occurs when this choice is given to foolish Peter Parker? Does he allow an elderly woman -- who I should note has lived a full and productive life -- die? Or does he give up his own personal happiness -- and the happiness of his hot wife -- so that a retired crone can live a few extra years in arthritic agony?

If you have an I. Q. comparable to that of a typical member of the "Avengers" you surely assume he has taken the former. And you would be correct. Which just goes to show you that each "Avenger" -- and every other person in the Marvel Universe -- is a complete idiot.

Now it's not just that foolish Peter Parker is dealing with some sort of vague "pseudo-Satan." I've done that before. The key is to never give away anything you actually want. I myself traded away the soul of someone I didn't care about. So I gained immeasurable power at no cost to myself.

But Peter Parker is -- if the hearsay can be trusted -- trading away something he likes for something that really doesn't do him any good. The elderly are useless. Supermodel wives are not.

Of course, this isn't particularly surprising. After all, this is a man who consistently does incredibly stupid things like reveal his secret identity on national television.

But then, I'm constantly told that Spider-Man is "one of the smartest men in the Marvel U." And if that is so, I weep for the souls of all who dwell therein.

Fools.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Night Thinking XXVI

Some things never end... Among them is Thursday Night Thinking!

Behold: one of the DC Universe's greatest scientific minds! Your eyes do not deceive you -- that is the mad genius Thomas Oscar Morrow!

T. O. Morrow's thinking about who the world belongs to. He doesn't have to think hard!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Editorial Constants

I continue to be appalled by the state of editorial control at DC Comics. It seems that far too often continuity errors -- which fly in the face of common decency -- are allowed free reign. It is almost as if these errors are spoiled children, allowed to run free and have their way because their wealthy parents are vacationing in Europe.

This cannot stand! Continuity control is vital to the workings of a shared universe. When such things are allowed to break down chaos ensues. And though I enjoy chaos as much as the next evil genius, I am also a mad scientist. As such, I crave order.

And so, I again offer my services to DC Comics. Every week I spend a large quantity of stolen cash on their books. And every week I spot glaring continuity errors that would slip the gaze of lesser men. For a nominal fee I will bring my keen skills of observation directly to DC, allowing them to avoid the ire of "fan-boys."

You would do well to accept my offer, DiDio. If you do not, the consequences may be dire. And not just for you, but for your precious "multi-verse."

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Acceptance

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I really do. But it's been a long time and I think everyone needs to hear -- and finally accept -- the truth:

We're not going to get Manhunter back.

I know, I know. They said they'd "uncanceled" it. And yes, like many of you Manhunter is still on my pull list at my comic shop back in the States. Grayed out. With the words "(inactive)" behind it.

But I think I've already gone through all the stages of the K├╝bler-Ross Model. First I denied it... Because after all, they did say it had been uncanceled. Then I raged against DC. If they hadn't canceled it in the first place, this wouldn't be happening. Next, of course, I begged the Phantom Stranger to intervene on my behalf. But he don't fly that way. Then came the crippling depression. No more Manhunter? Why bother living?

By the time I'd pulled myself up off the floor and sobered up I'd reached the final stage: acceptance. I now know that Manhunter isn't coming back. And though it pains me, I'm willing to live with that. I'm not happy that I won't be seeing more of Kate Spencer's adventures. But that's life.

Of course, in the comics there seems to be a sixth stage: resurrection. So who knows? That revolving door has to be good for something.

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