Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Good and Gunned for 2004

Let's get this party started with a rambling and pointless commentary before we get into my predictions and wishlist for 2004

Your ADD stalking moment: ADD doing All The Rage

The biggest news that he "broke":

Joss Whedon as the new writer of New X-Men

I haven't read X-Men comics since.....1997 or so....couldn't really be bothered for the most part in either case. I understand some of the excitement, as any comic fan could see parrallels between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Claremont-era X-Men comics, and Joss is a fairly good writer, so on the surface, this seems like a surefire hit....

....but then we make contact with the real world and it all falls apart. Ok, so some comics fans are happy about this. This is good for New X-Men. That's really about it. This is the same problem that occurs any time a "major" writer changes medium.....how the hell are the fans he gained in one medium to transfer? Hell, how are they even going to know about it in the first place. Great all of comics knows, and maybe if Marvel feels like making a big media push, they'll be able to get 2 minutes of coverage on CNN on some lazy Tuesday afternoon when there's no REAL news. Other than that, the vast majority of fans will NEVER KNOW, and for the most part, NEVER CARE. So Kevin Smith wrote some good Daredevil comics? What percentage of the people whom have seen his movies even know this, or for that matter, would be willing to go through the horror of comic shopping to get this? Is Joss going to book himself a slot on David Letterman to push this? This is the key problem: ADVERTISING TO COMICS FANS IS PREACHING TO THE GODDAMN CHOIR, what you need to do is go door to door and spread the word....and then prove that it will be worth the misery to spread the word.

The second problem here is one that I'm sure everyone who has spent any amount of time reading about corporate comics knows. No matter how big the name of the writer or artist, nothing really changes for the characters of the Big Two. While Joss definetly put superhero-comic tropes into his TV writing, we must understand that at the end of the day, he had a great deal more control about these characters than any writer has ever had on a Marvel/DC property. He made the important decision, and knew where he wanted to end up. These were/are his children, and he raised them very well. This is something he cannot do at Marvel, no matter what.

Onward and upward:


Comics Michael will be buying in the next year

-Planetary, no matter how delayed the schedule
-Fantastic Four, at least until the "Hereafter" storyline is resolved....likely to end after that
-Will beging buying Stormwatch: Team Achilles in the Trades
-Will buy whatever new version of "Sleeper" Brubaker will write
-Will continue buying Invinicible for the next year, although the novelty is beginning to wear off
-Will buy the Avengers/Thunderbolts mini-series, because it will finally end the cliffhanger set by Thunderbolts #75 and will feature Busiek's final tale of these characters. The 17-year old in me is looking forward to seeing what happens to Atlas, who remains to be one of the only Marvel characters I would want to write about (the other is Reed Richards, obviously).
-Will continue to buy Astro City, no matter what the format
-Will buy Orbiter when it comes out in paperback
-Will try to get Tom Strong, Top Ten, Promethea, Nevermen in trade formats

Michael's predictions for the comic industry

Bad News
-Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb, and Chuck Austen will continue to write "mainstream" comics
-Marvel/DC superhero comics will continue to be considered "mainstream" comics by most retailers
-Most comic stores will continue to suck, and be the standard bearer of the "mainstream"
-Christopher Priest series will die premature deaths
-The comics fan base will continue to shrink as prices rise
-The Diamond distributing system will continue to kill off good alternative/independent/real mainstream comics in order to prop up the "mainstream"

Good news

-The Manga audience will continue to grow, especially in the chain bookstore market (Personally, I don't care for Manga as a matter of personal taste, but I respect it as the driving force of the REAL mainstream audience, and so should everyone else.)
-The comics stores that support "mainstream" (Marvel/Dc superhero) will continue to lose business and have to re-evaluate what they are doing in this business
-Creators will use their voices in other media and use it to attact people to their comic work, especially people like Micah Wright, Peter David, and Warren Ellis.
-The independent graphic novel medium will start becoming big business for bookstores, and allow an entire generation of new and brilliant comic creators to bring their creation to a larger audience than the direct market system could ever hope for.

Michael's predictions for Michael in 2004

-I will apply for a Master's degree and be accepted
-I will continue to strive for excellent and self improvement in my martial arts training, and through that, in all other fields of endeavor
-I will post more regularly in the new year than I have in the last three months
-I will continue to read the classic books, watch the classic movies, and learn better the mechanics of actually writing through practice
-I will volunteer during the upcoming Canadian election to ensure that the country does not fall into the hands of the right wing.
-I will continue to speak my mind, no matter the cost.

Best wishes, and have a happy new year.

Michael Paciocco

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Ugh.....a few too many late nights....

....been reading the entire Miracleman run, in addition to the entire body of Alan Moore's Supreme.....and the collected Sherlock Holmes.....now I'm heading off to see Return of the King...

So, you want to know who Michael stalks online?

Here's the laundry list of sites I check out daily;

ADD - The man whom inspired me to start this blog - always thought provoking and entertaining, and usually with some good links to other good sites, (And his buddies Johnny Bacardi and Derek Martinez are usually pretty good too....Bacardi and Martinez.....eh, sounds like some kind of bar....)

Peter David - I check out his blog too. His New Frontier series is currently the only reason I haven't entirely turned against all of Trekdom, though the attacks by the right wing wackos who can't stand his politics goes a LONG LONG way to confirming that giving up on Star Trek was a very good thing.....

Micah Wright - Damn Funny, Damn Smart....I'm a regular lurker and massively infrequent poster on his Delphi Forum...I should get involved in more of his threads, but by the time I've found the thread, most of the other posters have delivered pretty much the same thing....and I hate the idea of being a groupie.

Michael Moore - runs a good website with a lot of media sources not commonly looked at in the U.S. (including the CBC, yay!)

That is all for now, more later,


Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Not feeling too serious today, just the usual (Go to ADD's blog to see his year in review, good stuff).

So, I decided to take a few online quizes

First, I decided to look at which Batman villain I would be. Apparently I'm...

He's got plenty of time.
You are: R'AS AL GHUL!

Which Batman Villain Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Then, a quick look at which Marvel Superhero I would be. No surprise there....

Next up...I was curious as to which Farscape character I was most like. The result was

What Farscape Character are you?

Damn, that's good.

That's all, more tomorrow


Monday, December 15, 2003


Special thanks to Alan David Doane, Silver Bullet Comics, and Markisan Naso

All The Rage, a comic rumour/commentary/news column featured some interesting commentary from "Youngblood creator" Rob Liefeld. Upon conferencing with my good friend Alan David Doane, I decided to run some of the highlights of his comments (Go to All the Rage and then follow the links for the full story. Unfortunately, the Algorithm kept crashing when I tried to run all of the commentary through, and it's more fun for you to try and translate his other comments on your own) through his Rob Liefeld Translation Algorithm (go get that and more fun stuff before we lose the Comic Book Galaxy archives altogether).

Anyway, here are the results:


Regardless of that unfortunate run of events, no one single person benefited from Awesome as much as Alan Moore did. Supreme single handedly revived commercial and critical interest in his career that had hit a snag with his Image work, including but not limited to Wildcats, Spawn, Violator and Violator vs. Badrock.

(TRANSLATION: Alan Moore’s career hit a snag because he hadn’t worked with all of my fantastic, one-of-a kind all original characters! He needed a blast of Liefeld energy to get back on his A-game!)

Supreme got people talking and pros and fans buzzing. It literally set the stage for his ABC line, in fact much of the ABC line is made up of poorly masked Awesome characters and story outlines he prepared for us.

(TRANSLATION: I never understood why his Supreme worked and the one I created originally. I mean, would Alan Moore write about a being of godlike power that killed bad guys like Arnold Schwartzenger and committed acts of mass murder without a second thought? Would he have had the balls to throw the implied mental rape of one of the “lead” characters and to construct a storyline with more contradictions and unbelievable plot twists than 20 years worth of Claremont’s X-MEN run combined? And then would he have tried to actually spend an issue making up a set of weak justifications for the contradictions? I DON’T THINK SO!)

If I was as sue-happy and litigation driven as some suggest I be, I believe I could draw direct connections to many of the ABC characters and their origins coming from pages of Awesome work we commissioned from him.

(TRANSLATION: That is, if I could find the pages of Awesome work I commissioned from him but never paid him for, or if I thought I had a chance in hell of surviving a counter suit from the biggest media giant on Earth, or if I thought that attacking one of the best writers in comics wouldn’t turn the entire industry against me…then I’d make him our bitch!)

In short order, Tom Strong is Supreme mixed with his Prophet proposal. Promethea is Glory and the rest I honestly don't pay much attention to. Don't have the time or interest. Simply put, there is no ABC without Supreme and the Awesome re-launch.

(TRANSLATION: I just assumed that the rest of his ABC stuff was pirated from me without reading it. Like that chick with the spider thing and purple tights? I had a character made up for that, except she had bigger bazoombas and we were going to call her BAZOOMBA GIRL. I can’t believe Alan Moore would steal from me, after all I did for him! Oh, the humanity! And I mean, it’s not like I kept some of his stories for years before publishing them, or anything. And so what if Supreme is maybe kinda sorta like Superman and Glory is like Wonder Woman. I’m not hurting DC, but Alan stole FROM ME! THE ROBSTER! I DEMAND JUSTICE!)

As to his derisive comments about my Judgment Day work, all I can offer is that I followed the script implicitly and there was never an incident where his script had to be re-arranged to accommodate artwork that veered away from his script. He wrote full script and every page was followed to the letter.

(TRANSLATION: I mean, I can’t help it if it doesn’t explicitly state that I’m not supposed to draw Supreme with 86 teeth and no hips! I’m only human after all!)


Let's see, pretty much everyone with the exception of Silvestri who I was never friends with at any time, merely a partner in a comic business, each of the gentlemen you've mentioned are notoriously at odds with far more folks than me.

(TRANSLATION: Most folks don’t know who I am. The ones who do remember me as “that guy from the Levi commercial.”)

Moore at one time raged against the entire DC machine until he decided it was in his best interest to look the other way while they funded his ABC endeavor. Gimme a break.

(TRANSLATION: DC, I’ve never promised not to do business with you, and I’ve got a submission for a Hawk and Dove revival that Geoff Johns would love….)

Now it's just down to me and Marvel comics. Oh and he has a beef with Toddy Mac.

(TRANSLATION: I love calling people by pet names I made up for them but that they would never ever respond to.)

Todd and I are friendly, the past is in the past. We butted heads once and moved on.

(TRANSLATION: He moved on to a new house and didn’t leave me a forwarding address or phone number.)

Larsen. C'mon he's a classic player-hater. After Byrne maybe the biggest one on record. We're all just moving targets in his Uni.

(TRANSLATION: “Player-hater” is such a kick-ass phrase. Makes me sound like I from the streets. RE-PRU-SENT!)

Or maybe I'm just a big ole prick.

Yeah, upon closer inspection, it's just me.


Sunday, December 14, 2003

Woke up and turned on the T.V. this morning...the first thing I said....

"Man, Dennis Miller really let himself go...."

Of course, then I put my glasses on.....

For those of you who have recently returned from Mars, Saddam Hussein has been caught. The implications of which....

.....are pretty close to insignificant.

OK, yes, he's a bad bad bad bad bad dude, and he's going to get what he deserves. But that's really it?

Will it lead to the WMDs? Not likely, as there either aren't any or he won't tell.

Will it change the violence and death in Iraq? Possibly, but then again most of the shooters are basically either poor and crazy terrorists (the ones who don't have the resources to actually uhhmmm....go to America and blow up innocents).

Will it give credibility to the U.S. administration? In terms of propaganda and public relations, maybe, but then again, that could be short lived, and it will take time to see how it can be spun and counter spun....

Does this help the people of Iraq? In a symbollic way yes, but there's still a long way to go...

Will this change the world view of the war in Iraq? Not really, there's still too much death, and the U.S. two-faced policy of "Help us pay/Do as we say" is still stepping on all the wrong toes.

Maybe I'm wrong, but while this a very good thing, it does nothing to change the tragedy and horror that is going on there right now, and that's what We as the human race have to face up to.


Saturday, December 13, 2003

Mike's 2003 Year in Review

The Stuff that Matters

Low points of the year

-Slowly loosing contact with my university friends and classmates as our career paths scatter us to the four winds

-Not being able to attend a friend's wedding

-Getting laid off at work after five months

-My inability to find employment in my hometown.

The High points of the year

-Getting the BRUCE prototype to work, despite a great deal of doubt on the part of many of my peers.

-Aerodynamics class: At long last a taste of what I hope to be my future......and it was good.

-Finishing my last exam: The moment I left the building, I let out a primal scream of triumph that reverberated across the campus. It was a delirously happy time for me.

-Graduation Day: knowing that the last five years of effort had paid off, and that I could share in the moment with my friends and family. And of course, the after-grad parties were pretty nice too....

-Returning to my hometown, and spending time with my family, whom I had missed over the long months between my visits.

-Begining a serious training schedule designed to let me loose the flab, and actually starting to see signs of success. And being able to throw 9-12 hours a week just on martial arts? Fantastic.


Friday, December 12, 2003

Sorry for the delay, I had to make the computer belch smoke at me before I could get online again (no, really).

Mike's 2003 Year in Review


The Best comics of the Year

SLEEPER - Is the comic you NEED TO BUY. Maddly innovative and thrilling, I found myself trapped in the sheer claustrophobic nightmare that is this book. The team that produces this book is beyond reproach and can do no wrong.

EMPIRE - Anyone who thinks that Mark Waid is the ultimate optimistic 60s style comic writer needs to be shown this book. The stuff he's been repressing for years is fucking frightening. Barry Kitson does the best work of his career here.

SUPERMAN: RED SON- Mark Millar goes beyond the shock-jock brand of writing he does at Marvel to produce the best Superman story since Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?". Thought provoking and witty, it does take a few jabs at the character, but ultimately serves up a tribute worthy of respect.

Happy Returns

PLANETARY - After a too damn long absence, Ellis et al. finally resume one of the most interesting comic series published is back, and while you did have to go back to read what happened before, it was worth it.

ASTRO CITY - After dropping the bowel movement that passed for a comic (Power Company), Kurt Busied returns with some very very very good superhero stories in the latest installment of Astro City.

What the Hell?

THE FOLLOWING NEED TO BE REMOVED FROM COMICS NOW - Jeph Loeb, Chuck Austen, Geoff Johns, Joe Kelly, John Byrne, Chuck Dixon, Ben Raab

THE FOLLOWING NEED BETTER RECOGNITION - Gail Simone, Christopher Priest, Walt Simonson, Micah Wright, Adi Tantimedth.

THE FOLLOWING COMICS SHOULD NOT BE READ BY ANYONE OF ANY AGE: JSA, Anything Written by Chuck Austen, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Any of the core Superman Books.

Later, Michael

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Mike's 2003 Year in Review

TV and Movies

TV's Best Moment of 2003

-Christopher Reeve on Smallvile. 'Nuff said

TV's worst moves of 2003
-the cancellation of Farscape and Futurama and the success of "Dr. Phil". This is why I pretty much stay away from network T.V. these days.

Most Shameless T.V. Stunt
-In a desparate and futile attempt to prove that the "Star Trek" franchise has some small spark of creative and commercial life, "Enterprise" pulls a rather bizzare Sept 11 tribute to attempt to add something remotely resembling drama into the series....and it still sucks. Face it folks, this franchise is so inbred that the Brittish Royal Family look normal.

Best Movie of 2003
Hmmm.....It'll probably be Return of the King, but if not, then I'm going to say Bulletproof Monk. A really good and fun film for my money.

Worst Movie of 2003
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Comic writer James Robinson decides to utterly destroy an Alan Moore work by "hollywoodizing" it and indulging in his Oscar Wilde mania for no good reason.

Thing that surprised me the most at the movies
- Damn, but the fight scenes in X2 were good. A lot better and more brutal than the ones in the first X-Men flick

Thing that disturbed me the most at the movies
-Ben Affleck as an engineer in "Paycheck": What kind of dumbass casting decision is that? OK, maybe I'm taking this personally, but the idea of Ben "Dumber than Dirt" Affleck as an Engineer deeply deeply annoys me. I do not need him destroying the good name of my profession. What next, Pam Anderson as a neurosurgeon?
Mike's 2003 Year in Review

Part 1: Politics

This year was certainly a mixed bag. Let's look below

Strangest Election

Without a doubt California. Proof that you can campaign with no real platform of your own, and win based on the power of your name.

Best News

The Liberal victories in Ontario and Quebec, after nearly a decade of mismanagment by radical idealogues on each end.

Worst news

The Conservative/Canadian alliance merger. If it works, it will likely bring them into power in the next federal election, and the ushering in of a political power that is far more likely to create U.S.-style foreign and domestic policies which would damage the country.

A PM we respected

Jean Chretien left politics this year after 40 years of service, and I wish him well on his retirement. I'm firmly of the belief that though Pierre Trudeau represented the ideals of what we as Canadians WANT to be, Chretien was more like what we ARE. He was arrogant, occassionally rude, and possibly more than a little bit of a selfish bastard. Despite this, I did like the guy. He spoke his mind without hesitation (and on occasion, without comprehension) and I think he did his level best to put Canada on the Global Stage, which in and of itself may be a greater accomplishment in the long run than most would give him credit for. He stood by his decisions, and he was a real fighter (no really, how many PMs would ever start a fight with protestors?). For all of his massive faults, Chretien was a Canadian, and I suspect that part of the reason we didn't like him was that we realized we were all a bit too eager to be like him.

More later,


P.S. Check out EBAY

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I finally got arount to watching the eXtreme Martial Arts showcase that was aired on the Discovery Channel on Sunday. Overall I had to say it was a fairly entertaining two hours even for the non-martial artist/non-engineer type. For those of us who are both however, it was something else entirely.

First, a bit of background. Last year, a fellow student and I designed a martial arts force-plate training device known as BRUCE (Basic Real-time Universal Combat Environment) for our fourth year engineering project. Lord knows it took forever for my partner and I to get the thing to even begin to function, and it was never the most reliable system (The computer we used was woefully inadequate, and admittedly, I over engineered the structure of the prototype to the point of massive insensitivity), it none the less ends up having many of the same qualities as the sensor systems the scientists in the show ended up using.

The first similarity (and by far the most striking) was the use of a 1000Hz sampling rate. This surprised me because I felt that a higher sampling rate (two to three times) would have made for better analysis of reaction time and pressure monitoring. However, they probably made the same compromise we had to; they sacrificed sampling speed in order to reduce the raw processing the computer would have to achieve.

They used a pressure-based sensing system to determine pounds per square inch and then determing the force. This was part of our initial brainstorming on the project as well, but we never could figure out how we could find a sensor that could measure the forces we predicted would occur without breaking, or the proper vessel we would need to contain the sensor. While it seems they solved the problem with the vessel (and I for one would love to know how they did it), it looks like they didn't completely solve the durability problem, as they showed at least on of the sensors breaking.

We opted for a direct force measurement (as opposed to integrating the force from the pressure) and to use multiple sensors to triangulate the position of the point force. They used this same feature, but applied it to measure changes in the martial artist's BALANCE as he stood on force plates. An application that seems so blindingly obvious in hindsight that I'm kicking myself over not having thought of it myself.

They used motion capture technology to triangulate the various body mechanics and to determine speed and reaction time. An option that was way too expensive for a pair of engineering students, but one that would work very well. We had to do a much more indirect measurement of reaction time, but supplemented what we already knew of human ergonomics to try and make up for that shortcoming.

Kind of nice to know we could have achieved what they did if we had a team of specialists and several hundred thousand dollars more.

In terms of the show itself, it was a nice insight into the SCIENCES (Plural) that the martial arts take advantage of. Whether it is the old fashioned "drawing strength from the earth" or the pschological effect of horse-hair on a spear, there was a truly canny analysis of the tools of the martial artists.

Damn good watching,


Saturday, November 29, 2003

Oh, last chance to pick up the first 4 issues of the Authority and a Powers TPB from ebay
Congratulations to Janna Hickson (formerly of XXXEDYS, my undergrad engineering class) on her engagement! Best wishes. Although, coming from someone with a terminal case of bachelorhood, this may or may not be the best of blessings.

Upon some consideration, I've decided that I won't discuss ACT 3 of Planetary until I receive issue 18, which I should be able to get sometime in the new year.


Another ordinary week in the life of the unemployed....

Oh, well, at least I'm starting to catch up on my blogging.



includes Planetary issues #7-12 and Planetary/Batman crossover

I include the Planetary/Batman one-shot in here because it ties in thematically to this act, and in terms of continuity it would seem to occur somewhere within this span of the regular series.

Without a doubt, these are the strongest issues of the series to date if for no other reason then the strength of the plot work. There are two main themes in this act: Who is the Fourth Man/Who are the Four? As we find out, we must solve the latter to truly arrive at the former.

Already, we see some significant changes from the first act. As opposed to the "done in one" approach used in the first act, we see the plot tighten as we learn more about the Four, and their subtle (and not so-subtle) actions. Our knowledge stems for a series of first hand accounts of their atrocities, and some imaginative flashbacks (particularly issues 8-10, and the inference of City Zero in the Batman crossover book). Of course, what we see is the Four essentially strip-mining the inherent wonders of 50's sci-fi (issue 8), modern science fiction and philosophy (issue 9) and superheroic fiction (in the incredibly sad and moving issue 10). Even those with a passing knowledge of the concepts in this issues is made to see clearly the impact of such losses.

Secondly, in this act, we start to get some insight into Jakita Wagner, though it is still relatively sparse. Issues 7, 9 and 12 lead us a long way into getting a glimpse of the mindset of this character. Though she is still easily viewed as the "action junkie", we can also see in her interactions with some of the other minor characters that such a lifestyle has isolated her. An interesting and subtle point from Ellis: Is it power, or just the willingness to use it that truly creates isolation?

However, again the focus is on Elijah. To a man like him, having to view the grisly evidence of what the Four have accomplished is a torment that truly ignites him, and in that, we see a transformation slowly take place as he comes to terms with what has passed, climaxing in the absolutely mind-expanding issue 12. I really can't understate how cohesively it ties together at this point. Ellis creates a tapestry that spans 20th century popculture, and even touches on elements of earlier work.

Again, John Cassaday shows us why he is one of the modern masters. In this set of issues, his style is clearly put to it's best uses as he gets to create brief but dazzling views of the bizzare universe he and Warren created. Whether it is the grimmy streets of London or a magic alien landscape, Cassaday makes it convincing.

While issue 12 is the big reveal and the climax of this act, issue 10 is the centrepiece. It is in seeing the depths of the Four's depravity that ultimately leads us on Elijah's journey of self-re-discovery that results in the revelations of issue 12.


Michael Paciocco

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch......two and a half hours of kicking, punching and unbelievably painful joint locks later......and I can barely feel my wrists....or anything below my knees......

For the record, I plan on putting together my best/worst of 2003, after I've finished the Planetary blog series and I've had a little more time to think about it. Of course, I can't claim to be as good as ADD or Derek Martinez, as I don't have nearly their experience (or their budget for comics). I actually have some further comments on one of Derek's final comments, but I want time to write out a fully reasoned response....it'll be part of my pet theory as to the future of comics, and in specific, the (limited) role of superhero comics therein. That will wait for another time....

Oh, and please check out my EBAY auctions. You are getting a great deal.

So, without further rambling...



includes Planetary issues #1-6, Planetary Preview and Planetary/Authority, ruling the world.

In terms of pure analysis, this is very little to consider here. Ellis, Cassaday et. al. structure the first act....like a first act. We get to know the basic personalities, and get a glimpse of what it is about, and at the end of which we are introduced to the central conflict of the piece.

This act is probably what gives the series it's "X-files" vibe. The formula of the first few issues is pretty much given away by a throway line in the second issue.

"So this is the job? Get jabbered by some half-tame lunatic, get stuffed in a chopper, go somewhere with mountains and do goddamn nothing?"

The single issues mysteries compounded by hints of larger conspiracies (i.e. the true agenda of the Planetary organization) would be enough enticement to buy the series, but it doesn't end there. Surprisingly, Ellis and Cassaday manage to evoke the wonder of some of the fogotten works of popculture and superhero fiction (The Spectre, Godzilla movies, Doc Savage, Shazam) through a synthesis of staying true to the high concept (Ellis) and beautiful artwork (Cassaday). The irony of the greatest detractor of superhero comics producing such amazing superhero tales is not lost on an attentive reader.

Even the characters themselves defy Ellis' traditional one-or two dimensional characters. Outside of possibly Spider Jerusalem, Warren Ellis has never been able to make me believe that his characters have lives "off-camera" so to speak. Yet he succeeded beyond all expectations to make me 'believe' in Elijah Snow. In this first act, we see Elijah as touching, ruthless, sardonic, bitter, self-pittying, and even whimsical, many of these emotions occuring at the same time. It is to John Cassaday's and Laura Depuy (whom will henceforth be referred to by her married name of Laura Martin) that they convey this in every thing from the character's line work (notice that the angrier Elijah gets, the heavier his outline and the linework that makes his suit. This is especially noticeable in issue #6) to his skin and eye complexion (That admittedly, is more my own personal observation, and is subject to some dispute, but it becomes more noticable as the series progresses, especially in the third act).

Jakita and The Drummer do not share in this level of development earlier on, though some of the more minor characters (Doc Brass and the Ghost Cop, specifically) are given a stronger development then their presence in the larger story might necessarily dictate.

My pet peeve is showing here, but Cassaday simply does not get the R-E-S-P-E-C-T he deserves. In my opinion, I think he is overshadowed by former Ellis co-worker Bryan Hitch. Not to say that Hitch isn't a good artist, but I think relative to Cassaday he is vastly overated. Cassady shows none of the influences or shortcuts that are noticable in Hitch's work (i.e. the Alan Davis influence or his frequent flirtation with photo-referencing), while at the same time managing to capture the moods and conventions of the genres explored in each issue of Planetary (especially the mind-blowing, insanely good-looking John-Woo style issue #3).

At any rate, the first act of Planetary rightfully ends with Elijah's "discovery" of the Four, thus beginning the second act and bringing everything we've learned in the first act together in a cohesive matter. Ellis is to be commended for ending his acts at their strongest.

And in that manner, so shall I.

Michael Paciocco

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Let's take it from the top

The delay since my last post was caused by a need to escape my profound frustration with my jobhunt. So, I made a retreat from the internet almost entirely, cutting myself off from the comics newsites and political/news stuff in order to spend my time with the people I cared about in order to recharge myself sufficiently. I feel that a great deal of progress in terms of my emotional health has been made, and let it be known that I am back.

Of course, given the main topic of today's blog, a major delay is somewhat fitting.

Oh, new ebay Auctions here. Good comix for those whom want them.

As to today's topic:


October, 2000

Throughly bored with superhero comics at the time, yet wanting some good pulp reading material to take the edge off some truly terrible midterms, I wandered into my local comic shop in Waterloo, and absentmindedly flip through the bins.

Planetary #3. Cool cover, I think to myself. John Woo action looking. Worth a look.

Two weeks later, after finishing my midterms, I begin a manic quest to obtain the entire series, catching a handful of back issues (including issues 4,5,6, and 11), and getting the rest of my knowledge of the series from helpful websites such as this and this.

I am entranced by the sheer beauty of the series and the awe, wonder, and respect that is displayed in these pages. I knew very little of Warren Ellis before this, and what I knew, I wasn't sure I liked. I knew of his public dislike of the monopoly of superhero comics, and his rather blunt storytelling style. I even went to the Warren Ellis Delphi Forum, and found most of the people there to be, if not elitist, than at least very confident that they had gained some measure of self-worth via their choice of associations.

But there was something different here....and I admit, I didn't realize what it was until December, when I picked up the eye-opening issue #12. At this point, it all came together in a way that still moves me.

You see, Planetary is the first, and perhaps the only piece of work Warren has done that contains a multiplicity of themes and meanings. That is not to detract from the rest of his work, but while Transmetropolitan and The Authority are good books, the key themes are immediately and hamfistedly delivered. This is the first time he allows the readers to find their own meanings, which probably was a scary thing for him to do because it allowed for the possiblity that the readers and fans might have a different meaning than the one that he wants to communicate, and that their meanings would have the same intrinsic value as his own. That loss of control on his part was a very brave and risky think for him to do. Very few artists in any media are willing to concede that power, and in comics, Warren is part of a very, very, very exclusive club in that regard (In my mind, it is him and Alan Moore and that's it). However, in my mind, that gamble paid off to make this one of the best comic series, something that will hold up against Alan Moore's major works, and will definitely outlast the scores of dungheap sooperhero shit on the market.

So, what is Planetary? A look at the power and majesty of 20th century pop-fiction? A mystery? A super-powered 'X-files'? An allegory for Marvel comic's strip-mining the essential wonder and timelessness of the superheroic icon in order to provide the most common form of entertainment? A story of a group of brave men and women trying to bring wonders back into the world by tearing down the bloated and diseased giants who hold onto the secrets in order to maintain power?

That, is something you will decide as this serial blog progresses.

Good day to you all,


That, my friends is

Friday, November 07, 2003

Well, today's been lousy. It's pretty bad when the Mayor tells you to leave town to find a job.

Sorry I'm not feeling much in the mood for fresh stuff, but I found this email I sent to a friend whom was uncertain of what to expect of University dorm life. So, for those of you whom haven't experienced it, here's a fair warning;


1) Fearless leader- He's the guy who plans everything important;
parties, pranks, getting togethers. He's a social butterfly and
everyone hangs around him. The drawback is that this guy is the
first to get blamed when the pranks go wrong or the Don gets wise to
whatever's happening.

Recommended strategy: Befriend, but keep enough distance to avoid
going down with him if the shit hits the fan.

2) MacGuyver - need an extra extension cord? Duct Tape? Someone to
modify the antenna on your 9" TV so it can suddenly pick up the
Rogers cable feed in the main hall? Go to this guy, as he is
seemingly prepared for nuclear winter and has an arsenal of tricks,
gadgets, and supplies at his beck and call. (Note: This was me, and
yes, I did rig an antenna and it did somehow catch the cable

3) Zealot -Religous nutcase who follows the ethics to the annoyance
of all others. You will not win an arguement with this guy based on
his faith, so don't try. However, these people are generally
harmless, but if they try and push you around, cut them off at the

4) Star Trek guy- Every floor (especially in engineering) has one
of these.
Recommended Strategy: Again, generally harmless, but you should
probably avoid, just to save your sex life. Then again, they can be
very good people, so keep in contact.

5) Guy with the live-in girlfriend - Against all rules, this guy has
his girl shackin' up in the same room (my neighbour in my second term, not a
pleasant experience in the evenings). Generally cool, but you do
have to hate him for flaunting it so shamelessly.

6) Floor Babe - This girl lives on the next floor and for reasons
that defy logic, she hangs out a lot with the guys on your floor,
expecially Fearless leader and any important lackeys.
Recommended Strategy: Get to be her friend as she'll introduce you
to every important and worthwile girl in the building. And if she's
single, you'll face the competition of every guy in the building for

7) Computer Guy - He's got a hookup that allows him to hack into
NORAD while playing a 30 person game of Unreal tournament, and he'll
still have the time to drive you absolutely nuts about his computer
Recommended Strategy: Ask for computer advice. That's it

8) Campus Guy: Only goes to res to sleep and shower. Studies madly
and has no other life.
Recommended Strategy: Be his friend so he can help you during midterms
and finals, and get him out of the place so he doesn't snap like a

9) Horndog: This requires no explanation
Recommendation: What do you think?

Later people,


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

What's new

Thanks for those whom participated in my ebay auctions. I hope to have more for you next time.

Martial Arts practices are cancelled for the week on account of a lack of a floor. This is generally a good reason not to practice, as falling a solid story on to concrete is likely to hurt the little kids. On the plus side, I found out that I did pass my test, meaning that I'm nearly ready to take my orange belt test in January.

Tonite, I'm reading my entire PLANETARY run (excluding the god-forsaken JLA 'crossover') in preparation for my big PLANETARY REVIEW BLOG, which should be out by week's end.

Michael's Pet Theories: Byrne Syndrome

A lot of comic fans have noted and mocked John Byrne's artistic stagnacy (and degeneration, depending on the commentator). I've taken the time to look at other high-profile comic creators, and I've noted several of them suffer from variants of what I refer to as Byrne Syndrome.

These poor infected individuals include

J. M. Straczynski - that he's so pissed at the clusterfuck that happened to "Crusade" (and now "Rising Stars") that he refused to do anything progressive in Hollywood, and is slumming at Marvel.
Jim Valentino - whom at one point had Kurt Busiek on his pride and joy, ShadowHawk, and managed to screw it up.
Erik Larsen - OK, I appreciate that he's working on the only project that he cares about, but it also seems to me that he's pissed over his faux-Kirby Fanatastic Four mini-series
Howard Chaykin - who was at one point pleased by the success of the Mutant X T.V. series saying that it was a number one T.V. show, and his whole "comics are a dead medium bit". An interesting quote, considering what a truly terrible T.V. series we are talking about, the only saving grace of which was the fact that Victoria Pratt is one of the sexiest women I have ever seen.
Mark Waid - whom I guessing is very very very pissed at his frustration at not being able to save the modern incarnation of Superman, despite his many many failed attempts.
Alex Ross - OK, we get it. You like drawing superheroes. You also like taking too damn much credit. You get heavy doseages of nerd-ons. Despite the fact that you could be one of the best spokespersons for comics, you carry on in ways that would make Comic Book Store Guy from the Simpsons blush. Yeesh.
Todd McFarlane - Who carries his "too cool for comics" attitude to such ridiculous (and insulting) extremes that I'm surprised that anyone is willing to deal with him or his 'properties' (given how much he owes to the likes of Moore and Miller for Spawn's popularity, I hesitate to give him proper ownership rights. Rob Liefeld looks positively angelic next to this twit.)
Chris Claremont - Here, I'm a bit torn, because, hey, I liked X-MEN when I was in my teen years, and there's no doubt he set the standard and wrote some seriously progressive stuff....but he didn't progress very much AFTER he left the title, and when he did (i.e. Sovereign Seven), it didn't to very well in the collapsing comics market. I think he then made the decision to stick to his guns, and that choice has limited him. Here's hoping that he will try to move on and evolve his style. It seems from some accounts of his most recent work in the last year or so that he has begun...so of this list, I'm going to consider him as being 'in remission' for the time being.
Chuck Dixon - "I put three fight scenes into each and every comic I write." Great....but so what? Since when is that the sign of a good writer? More like a formulaic one.

Sunday, November 02, 2003


Sorry, no political stuff today, I've spent the weekend cut-off from that stuff to recharge my batteries.

Had a good time in Waterloo, enjoyed visiting my old friends.....

Oh, and I picked up a month's worth of comics this week...so on to...


Amazing Spider-man #500 - Ok, I still find JMS' Marvel work to be pretty bland. The art by both Romitas, however, is pretty spectacular, and having Romita Sr. draw, no matter how small the amount, is still a good thing. On a side note, what's with all the "Dr. Strange" love going on at Marvel these days? He's the 'central' character of the rather banal 1602 project and he seems to have a major supporting role here. OK, I get it, he's supposed to be cool, he's not supposed to be the third lamest superhero (at least, according to MAXIM magazine), but making him a pivotal character in a story does not in and of itself make a character 'cool'. You actually have to well, SHOW THAT HE'S COOL. Otherwise, you're just being a bunch of injured fanboys. Sorry, back on topic now. An interesting way of doing an anniversary issue, but not one that grips the reader. To be honest, the heavy dosage of magic here takes away from the more ordinary aspects of the character that an audience can relate to. The ending strikes me as a ham-fisted way of spelling out something every Spider-man READER should know and realize, but something that Peter himself SHOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO ACCEPT. An OK read, but not a great one.

Fantastic Four # 504 and 505 - Uhm, Ok. This is different. Logical, certainly. A departure from what has been done before? Absolutely. Riveting? Your mileage here may vary. Porter's definitely has it's ups (His depiction of the Thing is one of the best I've seen since John Byrne) and it's downs (Reed's scarring seems wildly inconsistent). These issues read as being a bit padded, however, and I would have appreciated a little more content being delivered for the price I'm paying here. My (rather obvious) advice for anyone thinking about getting this is to get the UNTHINKABLE trade before this, and then see if this is what you would like. Overall, while Waid is not firing on all cylinders in this title, it is still probably the best this title has seen IN DECADES. And Waid not firing on all cylinders is still better than 95% of Marvel's monthly output.

Sleeper #9 and #10 - You are missing out one of the best monthly titles written today. Very few titles can me make say "Holy Fuck" out loud. Almost none can do it to me issue after issue. Issue #9 is mostly a clean up of the loose ends from the previous two-parter, but it does give a type of espionage story we are not used to seeing. Issue #10 begins the final scene of this first act, where we begin to see things go horribly wrong. The wonderful thing about this issue is the sheer heroism of Holden (whom I'm beginning to suspect was named in part after a certain famous literary character) on display. The type of bravery he displays is not the "must fight 1000 villains to save the city" but the "I must damn myself in order to live just long enough to get out of this royally fucked up mess". Other things, like Genocide's trully tragic origin, are just icing on the cake. GET THIS BOOK.


Empire #3

Anyone who has read super-hero comics has seen this one before; The hero, having been captured by the villain of the piece, bravely resists his captors and bides his time planing for his escape while he listens to the villain's latest plan.

Well, forget it folks. That's not what happens here.

Instead, we see Endymion (a Superman type) slowly deteriorating in captivity, in body and soul. Contrasting the daydream sequences that bookend this issue only serves to illustrate the remorse and delusions that control him, and the sense of futility and powerlessness he feels trapped under the boot of a megalomanic. Not for the first time in this series, we see that Golgoth's reign is not only a physical dictatorship, but a tyranny of the spirit, and Endymion serves not as a beakon of hope (I don't think there are any in this series), but as the embodiment of the reader's inability to change the outcome. Golgoth does come to the correct conclusion, but perhaps for the wrong reasons, and the consequences remain to be seen.

Barry Kitson does his best work in this series to date. His use of lighter pencils in the day dreams excellently convey both Endymion's deteriorated mental state and the whimsy unfocused nature of the fantasy.

This is Waid's best work. PERIOD. GET IT NOW OR YOU WILL REGRET IT.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Have a Happy Hallowe'en folks. I hope it does well by you...

I'll be in Waterloo for the next few days, but I'll have plenty to report on next week (including my long-delayed PLANETARY article/blog post)

Oh, and make sure to take the time to check out my Ebay Auctions, because if you don't this time, I'm probably going to give them up for silent auction to my martial arts school, ane they'll charge through the nose...



Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Changing tactics?
More like increasing the propaganda.

How can you not see through the type of bullshit Bush is using to defend himself is beyond me.
For those of you whom might care, this will be my halloween costume

Thanks to Alan David Doane for puting this up for me.

Oh, and in case I haven't said enough, check out my Ebay auctions

Monday, October 27, 2003

Wow. Looks like the Iraqi people are enjoying having the U.S. around for company. They even threw fireworks.

Alright, can we call it an occupation NOW?

The moment you've been waiting for....

my new Ebay listings are up here. Free comics for those who win.....go buy now.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

I can't imagine what this must feel like. As I said before, my thoughts and prayers go for Cecilia's safe return.

"The time has come" the walrus said "to speak of many things"

Well, I don't feel I performed very well on my martial arts test, but I'll find out tomorrow whether or not I'll have to do a make up test.

At any rate, here are some of the things on my mind at the moment

1) The Tory/Alliance merger - Wow, something that is actually scary enough to make the Liberals clean up their act a bit. Not that I'd ever vote for the conservative blowhards who represent these parties, but the fact that such a merge would actually form a real challenge is enough to make me volunteer to help campaign for the Liberals come the next election. The fact that they are trying to get Mike Harris, Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, and Ralph Klein involved in this political Legion of Doom is more than enough to make me more politically active.

2) The Toronto Kidnapping - I pray that the child is found alive and well, and that the psycho who did this is put behind some iron bars for a very long time. I also hope that this event is exploited into another "tough on crime, tough on the poor" campaign by self-serving right-wing politicans.

3) Plans for the next week - I'm hoping to have a batch of ebay auctions up for late Monday Early Tuesday, and I hope you find something you'll want to purchase. If you want a sneek peek email me at infinite_horizon@hotmail.com .

I'll be in Waterloo from Thursday to Sunday, meeting up with old friends, networking, researching some ideas for future career directions, and hitting some of the best comic shops and book stores in the country. My shopping list for this trip will include
-Star Trek: New Frontier - "No Limits" and "Stone and Anvil" - I've never cared for any of Peter David's comic writing (not to say that it isn't great, it's just not my cup of tea), but his novels are the only Star Trek stuff I've even bothered with since Deep Space Nine ended. New Frontier is too balsy to ever have even been considered for TV, and I really love what he's accomplished.
-Back the Attack and/or Stormwatch: Team Achilles - Only with the guidance of Alan David Doane and Johanna Carlson did I recently discover Mr. Wright and his witty writing style. I've already read all of the scripts he posted on his website, and I'm a frequent lurker on his message board, so it's time for me to put my money where my mouth is and actually start supporting this guy.
-ABC stuff: You can never have enough Alan Moore
-Sleeper back issues: So I can have the complete set. I'm also hoping to track down an extra copy of issue 1 to give to a friend who's a big fan of 24 and thus will probably get a big kick out of this.
-Invinicible #1 - I have all the other issues, and I read this one online, but I want it in my hands anyway.

4) Aw crap - there is only one thing in the world that could possibly get me to buy three issues of the regular issues of the regular Superman titles, and they've done it.

Mr. Majestic.

On one hand, I can see how this could end up being very awful, simply on account of the fact that these are the regular Superman titles we are dealing with here. On the other, I have to admit that there is an implied concession made here that is stunning; Superman's knock offs have become more interesting than Superman. Whether it was Claremont, Moore, Robinson, or Casey, I liked Mr. Majestic. It seemed to me that it was a great exploration of the Superman archtype, and you can see how Moore went from Majestic to his Supreme, thus thumbing his nose at DC by showing fans a much more compelling Superman than they've seen in some time.

I really, really like the idea and concept and even the basic character of Superman, but do you know where I get my Superman fix? It seems like everywhere but the cmonthly omics has a better idea of what the character is about. Whether it is the somewhat whiney and conflicted Clark of Smallville, or the Justice League cartoon version that batted Darkseid around like pinata or the many interesting takes on Superman in the Elseworld books (i.e. Mark Millar's absolutely shocking Red Son), or the aforementioned knockoffs, there is a lot of Superman to find. But oddly, not in the monthly rags with his name on them.

Why is that, you think?

Friday, October 24, 2003

Got a martial arts test tonite, which will top off one of the most intensive weeks of training I've had in a long time.

I'll give you more details later.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rapid fire:

-on Rush's addiction: It's a sad thing that it should happen to anyone. On the other hand, I sincerely hope (though I realize it is most likely in vain) that this experience opens that tiny mind of his.

-on Bush: and it gets dumber and dumber and dumber. Practicing "Son of Reaganomics" plus "Son of Star Wars" plus "Son of the Ministry of Truth" plus "Son of War without End" = an incredibly messed up country. Let's get this straight one more time, YOU CANNOT CUT TAXES AND RAISE MILITARY SPENDING WITHOUT CREATING CRIPPLING DEBT. This is basic economic theory. Nevermind the open lawlessness and treason this government is a willing participant to.

-The "Black Lightning" issue - Moronic. Chasing away minority readership by destroying every decent minority character in mainstream comics. Yeah, and you wonder why we're seeing decreasing readership. Oh, and great way to beat up on Tony Isabella, a decent human being who commited the crime of actually creating a character you feel the need to debase for any number of stupid reasons.

-The "Avengers Sex" issue - Who the hell reads "Avengers" since Busiek left anyway? Who cares? And let's face it, I have no doubt that C.A. will top it once his 'run' starts.

-The new Spiderman cartoon : Nifty.

-Waid back on the FF: Old news, but I didn't respond to it yet. Good reversal, Marvel....thought like Alan, I doubt Waid will be on for more than a year.

-Other comic stuff: I don't care. I'm getting the latest issue of Planetary next week, and that's really all I care about

-Future plans: I'm doing some research on some ideas for another degree, plus some job searching and networking besides. I'm starting to realize that the future is open for me. The sad part is that it may force me from my home and I know that it will crush my family, whom were quite used to the idea that I would have a career here in my hometown.

More later,


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Well, I seem to be getting the shaft from the local companies. Apparently the only jobs available for people under 30 are at the call centers. And people in this town wonder why the young folks leave.


Here's the bitch of it; All of the friends I have in this town are a lot like me. We all decended from immigrant parents who gave up their homes, travelled what was then an unimaginable distance, and built a life and a family here out of next to nothing. They raised us with the values of being close to our families and our communities. They also taught us to aspire to higher positions in life; to become leaders of the community and to aim as high as our dreams and ability could take us.

Now it looks like we have to choose between being with our families or following our dreams, and that is the reason I get so angry at this town sometimes.

Sorry, I'll have more fun news and thoughts tomorrow, it's been a bad day.


Monday, October 20, 2003


A nifty little quiz that tries to map you to a sci-fi/fantasy character...the interesting thing is that I've taken it several times, and the results are consistent; I'm 70% Yoda and 30% Jean-Luc Picard.

I have no idea what the hell to make of that either
Just got hi-speed, trying to come down from the rush of godlike power, will post a new blog very shortly....once I know where to start

Monday, October 13, 2003


Today is Thanksgiving (in Canada anyway) and it is also my 24th birthday. With that in mind, I just want to say what I'm thankful for

-I'm thankful for my family and friends and their endless support and compassion.
-I'm thankful to live in a free and democratic society, where I can worship and express myself to any and all who would here it
-I'm thankful for all the opportunities I have and will continue to have to contribute to my society, and to help my friends, family, and my fellow human being.
-I'm thankful for the talents I have been blessed with, and for the opportunity to share them.

That's a lot to be thankful for.

I'll start having more regular blogs once I get hi-speed next week.



Saturday, October 04, 2003

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. Your support means a lot.

So, how did it happen?

Basically, I was in a firm where the engineering partner (the guy who was supposed to "show me the ropes" basically does all the work without any delegation, preventing me from being productive and preventing himself the time to train me, thus I had no opportunity to develop any new talents or skills. In the end, what happened is for the best.

As to what to do next? I'm going to relax for the next few weeks, weigh my options, and then put all my plans into motion at once. First things though? I'm turning 24 next week, and after 5 years of school and work and no summers off, I'm going to do the things I love best; read, write, and continue my martial arts training.

My options are many, even in the relatively small community I live in (80,000 isn't small, but the mindset of the community is). I'm probably going to tutor for the first little while to pay for internet and such, and I will be selling a HUGE chunk of my comic collection on eBay (I'll keep you posted). I have friends in the local engineering community who will be going to bat for me, and it's been suggested that I consider some type of further education/job training at one of the local universities/colleges (probably AutoCAD, or some such). If all else fails, I have the financial resources necessary to get a post grad degree of some sort, and that's hardly a bad thing.

Anyway, on to some thoughtful/thoughtless commentary

1) Limbaugh - Go figure, the very same people that Rush claims to support (middle class, 'average Joe Patriot' type) finally give him a symbolic ass-kicking. This goes a long way to restoring my faith in America.
2) The Bush/Rove/CIA 'scandal' - God, if you're reading this, please don't let the Bush/republicans spin this one away. Let's get the facts straight; Someone in the White House at the highest level leaked information to the press about a classified CIA agent/analyst (remember kids, in the CIA, the fictional character of Jack Ryan is an "analyst") whom happens to be the wife of an ambassador who spoke out against Bush's policies. THIS IS TREASON. Why? Because now THE BAD GUYS (like, I don't know, Al Queda, remember them?) now know that any organization this woman claimed to affiliate with could very well be a CIA front. It would be difficult to determine how much of VICTORY THE TERRORISTS HAVE BEEN GIVEN BY THE US GOVERNMENT. Someone big is going down for this, and by rights, should and must face the maximum punishment for endangering America.
3) The Ontario Election - Good.

More later folks,

Michael Paciocco

Thursday, October 02, 2003


I just got told that as of tomorrow, I'll be on lay off, which given the state of the company means I'm pretty much gone for good.

Oh well, at least I got some experience and a few thousand out of this....on to the next job....

Later folks,


Monday, September 29, 2003

Internet has been fuzzy (will be changing over to hi speed by November, so blogs will start picking up)

First, I want to give a big thank you note to Alan David Doane of the late Comicbookgalaxy website. He was always very helpful and insightful. We struck up conversations on the comics and creators we liked, and the creators and policies we loathed. Because of Alan's help, I have bought/read the following comics, and Alan, trust me, there WILL BE MORE TO COME.

-Tom Strong
-The Forgotten
-V for Vendetta
-Channel Zero
-Bulletproof Monk
-Global Frequency

Alan, thanks for all the help, wisdom, and your love of good comics. It was never unappreciated.

Michael Paciocco

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Sorry for yet another delay, as it was the result of two important factors;

1) Various family members required the phone line this weekend for school issues. I can't wait to get hi-speed
2) I'm an info junkie/read-aholic, and I got my monthly comic shipment. More on that later...


Just read Alan's closing statement on Comic book Galaxy (www.comicbookgalaxy.com), all I can say is that he was the inspiration that got me to start blogging, and that he fought the good fight and opened a lot of minds to really good comics. His contribution will be missed dearly.
Here's to fighting the good fight....


I've had it had it had it with ignorant bastards like Rush Limbaugh making me ashamed to be a christian white guy with any amount of money. So, for today, I'm going to give you a manifesto of how to take guys like this to the wall, and deconstruct them for the small, bigoted trolls they are.

1) NO FUCKING FEAR - You must not be afraid of being outcast by your peers. Fear is the first, last, and only means for fascists to control the populace.
2) THE LIBRARY - OK, you need to show people how wrong people like Bush are, and how closeminded? Time to start some homework, start with Plato and other of the classic philosphers on how democracies are structures, and also some of the U.S. Founding fathers had some fucking airtight language on how that country works. The next time someone argues for the Patriot Act, remind them of the quote from Ben Franklin "Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither". Next up, some basic books on logical arguement structure (If you saw my dissection of Rush the other day, this is something taught in first year public speaking classes, and should be easy to get your hands on).
3) KNOW THY ENEMY - Go to Rush's web site, watch Fox News, maybe read the Bible (because if you know it as well as the Christian Coalition, you'll be able to rip apart that sub-human homophobia with a single biblical quote from the New Testament). You have to see them objectively, and see what they are really saying (which may make your stomach turn even more, because if you've done #2, you realize that what they are saying isn't much, and what little is there is full of bitterness).
4) KNOW YOUR ALLIES - The web is good for getting help, like www.michaelmoore.com (granted, he may be a little too far in the other direction, but it will help counteract Rush's brand of poison). The other reason I mention Moore's site is that he has a comprehensive links page to non-U.S. news sources, like CBC news (but then, as a Canadian, I'm biased).
5) FIGHT! - Win them over, not with force nor fear, but facts, compassion, and sheer humanity. Don't straw man Rush, but point out his logical gaps. Hate started this, but honesty will end it.


-Listened to an Ontario Election ad that stated that Conservatives would be "Hard on crime". This is funny because it insinuates that 1) they weren't before and 2) they can be harder. Given how LOW crime rates are in Ontario, it's funny. Now, if we were talking increasing penalties for corporate and environmental crimes...but on that issue they're silent.


Like I said, I got a boatload of comics this week, because I get them from Waterloo, and I got caught up on a lot....

Invinicble #4&5 - Simply one of the best pure superhero books out there. Angst free, funny, and generally touchy without being after-school special melodramatic. This is a fun read, and one that deserves more attention. The art here is a blend is a blend of early Walt Siminson with a more minimalist touch (but then, we haven't seen any giant Kirby machines yet, so I'll reserve judgement).

Sleeper #1-4,7&8 - The opposite end of the spectrum, dark, moody, and tragic. This book should be a primer on how to structure modern adventure comics. The protagonist (anti-hero, hero? With Holden, it's hard to say, which is part of the title's charm) is truly felt to be out of touch and out of his depth, and his real feelings of isolation, frustration, and ruthlessness are perfectly communicated.

Empire #1&2 - JESUS! Mark Waid is freaking EVIL! Anyone who thought of Waid as a sentimental sap needs to read this to see how truly wrong they are.

Planetary # 16 - Not yet. I've got a very long blog on Planetary in general planned for the weekend, and I'll get to it there.

Bye for now,


Monday, September 15, 2003

Howdy again, how's it going?

I have a few things to tell, so sit back and listen to the stories....


After helping my kid brother with his Physics homework, we decide to hit the local Friday night bar scene.....

...which is apparently as dead as disco. After sitting on the patio, discussing stuff with my brother, a few guys I used to know from High school show up. After exchanging the usual "So what have you been up to" 's, they start asking me to go and pinch one of the other guy's nipples...

....I need a better life.


I spent a LOT of time reading this weekend. Mostly junk I've read before, but a few new graphic novels courtesy of my local library.

V FOR VENDETTA: This "post-apocalyptic" story set in a fascist London is one of Moore's earliest works, and while it lacks the full-bore symbolism and meaning of Watchmen and From Hell, it was definitely a step in that direction, and he doesn't shy away from the moral ambiguity of what he's attempting to do. However, it is David Lloyd's depiction of a claustrophobic, grey and bleak London that really allows Moore's story to rise above the level of the ordinary.

CHANNEL ZERO: I'm new to Brian Wood's work, but I definitely think it is worth reading as a focused and impassioned arguement against censorship, and the religous uber-zealots who pervert any system to their ends (I'm looking at you, Ashcroft). Pick it up.


Ok, this book is getting a lot of press, and there's no shortage of talk about it, good and bad.

I'm not getting it. Here's why:

1) Outdated: This does NOTHING for the modern state of comics. It is a nostalgic type of story, and even the beautiful work of George Perez can change that.
2) Continuity: Ever since the late 80s, modern continuity has throughly wrecked the idea of a "timeless" superhero comic story, and if you need proof of that, try getting that Marvel/DC mini from the mid-90s, which was trapped by it's ties to the continuity of the time (Such as the "Spider-clone", or Superman's hair, for minor examples). Kurt and George may try to make this timeless, but there's going to be some man-boy who hates it because Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern, or Hawkeye has his scar, etc., etc......
3) Thin Plot: This is the complaint I hear the most, but seriously, what do you expect from a cross over? Just looking through my collection for crossovers, here's what I've found

-Marvel v.s. DC: They fight, Amalgam's created.
-Superman/Fantastic Four: FF and Superman vs. Galactus and Cyborg
-Batman/Captain America: Bat and Cap in WWII vs The Red Skull and Joker
-Fantastic Four/Gen 13 - They fight, and team up, and something truly weird happens (at least it was funny)
-Batman/Punisher - Batman stops the Punisher from killing the Joker. Yeah, like we couldn't see that one coming.
-Silver Surfer/Green Lantern - GL and Silver Surfer vs. Thanos and Hal Jordan.

DO you see a pattern? Expecting great writing from a crossover is near impossible. Accept it and move on.


Friday, September 12, 2003

Back and Back again

Well, that was unexpected. I got a cold for the first time in TWO YEARS, and it played havoc with my schedule. So, I'm going to talk about a large number of things....

Small things:
1) The comics I was trying to sell on ebay did not sell. Dang. I've got over 100 of these things that I just want gone....if you're interested, email infinite_horizon@hotmail.com
2) Saw Daredevil for the first time when I rented it this weekend. The first hour was tight, focused, and interesting, but I thought the pacing got choppy after the park scene. Decent overall, but nothing to write home about.
3) Started my gym program this week in order to slim down and build some muscle...but I have to admit, the health nazis are kind of creepy. When I got in, the lady at the counter gave me a book by one of the founders or whatever. This is the type of behavior I normally associate with cults, but I smiled and well, I understand that it takes aggressive policies to make gyms work....and I suppose you have to be a little crazy to work at that sort of job.

Big Things:

-Rush Limbaugh: I visit his website on occassion, and I recommend that anyone with an interest in arguement structure or logic take a close look. It is so simple to deconstruct his arguements and half truths that it stuns me that he is seemingly so popular and powerful in the world of radio. My favourite? "the top 50% of wage earners pay 90.96% of the taxes". Now, on the surface this looks like a jarring fact, but here's what Rush isn't saying;

1) How much of the tax base does say, the top 2% of wage earners pay for? How about the top 15%? Unless you have a better breakdown of how the tax base is divided into the working population, and maybe actually values of money (how much does the top 12% pay?), a single fact does not a valid arguement make.
2) The term "wage earners" is open to some interpretation. Are we talking about salaried workers, people on comission? Do you count part-time workers, people on leave? What about those with deferred wages (i.e. stock benefits, options, etc.)? How are these people accounted?
3) In order to maintain the level of economic development, and national infrastructure that is necessary for society to work (and all the Republican rhetoric in the world doesn't change the fact that government is a neccesary tool to economic progress, and to ignore that is proof of the worst kind of economic stupidity), the "rich" would NEED to be the key tax contributors, otherwise you would not have the capital necessary for government programs such as education, or say, the military (you DO have to PAY for that, don't you?).
4) Does being in the top 50% of wage earners necessarily make you "rich"? What is the Average U.S. Salary again?
5) My understanding of the U.S. Tax code being what it is, isn't it based on HOUSEHOLD earnings as opposed to INDIVIDUAL earnings?
6) Don't the "Rich" have more items that would be taxable by virtue of its existence. If I own 12 cars and 3 yachts, shouldn't I be paying more in taxes than the guy with one car?

Just so you know, I'm not trying to be mean spirited, but I do want you see the fallacies in his reasoning. A half truth is the most dangerous kind of lie. And Rush, no offence, but you offer more half-truths than someone with your influence has a right to.

- Comic Reviews: JSA All-Stars #5 - OK, first, let me say that I'm a fan of James Robinson's superhero work, particularly Starman , and it was his work there that made me like the 40's character Hourman, and the truly neat way the traditional power fantasy inherent in the superhero was married to the much more relevant themes of addiction and heritage/tradition (coming from an Italian Roman Catholic background, tradition isn't a work, it is a LIFESTYLE). With this in mind, I liked Johns' take on this "new" Hourman in that one solo issue of JSA last year (the only Johns or JSA work I've gotten to this point, though I may get a TPB just to try it). That being said, this issue SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED. It was smarmy, sappy, and more overly-sentimental than your average episode of "Touched by an Angel". Ugh....that's it, no more impulse buying. I'll put up more reviews when I get my shipment of comics from the store out of town.


Thursday, September 04, 2003

Odds and ends

Other important heroes:

-Sanjay Singh: A good, if annoying, man, whom directly challenges me, and constantly reminds me to keep my mind open.

-Jon Smith: Simply the best moral compass you will ever find.

News and events:

-Went to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert last week, and while I guess everyone has different opinions on what songs are his best, and which ones he should perform, I have to admit that he puts on a damn good show, and he consistently entertaining, amusing, and well, I know I bust a gut or two during his faux Eminem interview (on a side note, maybe this is how FOX NEWS does their interviews?). And one has to credit his innovation, it takes a special type of skill to fit the entire plot of the Phantom Menace into the 4 minutes of "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" without missing a beat, and to do the same thing a few years later by With Spider-man and Piano Man respectively.

-Got a new batch of eBay auctions; Just so you know, the money is going to 2 things:
1) my getting a hardware upgrade to get hi-speed, so I can do this blogging thing more frequently
2) To donate to my martial arts school to get some floor mats

Here's the link to my auctions

- Read some new trade paperbacks from the library
Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street - While I think Planetary is hands-down Warren Ellis' best work, I'm learning to appreciate this bit of essential Ellis. I think the key to understanding Ellis is that he'll make you laugh darkly at the beginning, and then stir you with his insights later on. Good reading.

Bulletproof Monk: OK, first things first. I love the movie. In my mind, it was the best movie this summer, easily beating the crap out of Matrix/X2 whatever. The comic, has no connection except that there is a Bulletproof Monk and a guy named Kar. That's it. And you know what, anyway you get it, it is still good. A really uplifting experience to read.

Politics (RANT ALERT):

If it's not one thing, it's another

George Bush claims to be the funding underdog? HOW THE FUCK IS THAT? He's an oil millionaire, as are about 3/4 of his cabinet, nevermind his huge support group in the Republican party, which worships him like the Second Coming. Nevermind that he's got a $200 million warchest and won't be spending a penny on the primaries. Who the hell think that the current reigning president is the underdog?

-The U.S. going to the U.N. for Iraq help; This is like asking Dad for money to fix the car after you took it for a joyride while being grounded, isn't it? You know the Germans and The French are just going to rake them over the coals about this, rightly or wrongly. You mean that you, the most powerful nation on earth, actually need allies to fight this "War on Terror" ? 'Bout time you owned up to it. Oh, and Rush Limbaugh, I hope that this means you will stop your pointless and retarded bashing of the U.N., seeing as THEY are bailing out YOUR boys.

-More on Iraq: Quagmire? Yeah, it is. And you could have avoided it. How could the U.S. have avoided it? By not being so blatant about it, by not forsaking your allies. And the line that the troops will help draw out "the evildoers" (You know, some of Bush's speeches read like they were written by Stan Lee) into fighting the U.S. there. Which means that those kids are acting as bait, which will be a big comfort to their families no doubt, because it just means the rich ones can come to the U.S. to cause trouble there. Yes, brilliant Strategy! Please Tell me that Stormin' Norman doesn't buy this.

-Ontario Elections: 'BOUT TIME. Let the slaughter begin! I've been waiting years to take a bite out of the Harris/Eves "Common Sense" machine which have demoralized and crushed our hospitals and schools, sold off nearly any part of the province worth keeping, all to provide for a tax cut or two. Thanks to that logic, I my tuition go from $2700 to $4000 in 4 years. Hey, but it's worth it because it means that Big Business can profit and return the savings to me in the new privatized energy sector....no....wait....hmmm....looks like Ernie's got some explaining to do....

More later,


Tuesday, September 02, 2003


That is the name of my university Systems Design Engineering class. In keeping with my theme of heroes, I had to mention this pantheon I ran with for the last 5 years. Although I felt that I was a mere mortal treading in the realm of gods, I nevertheless was awed by the people I met and the moments I shared with them, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. While I can't fully elaborate on each and every person who had an impact, I will try my best to acknowledge those nearest and dearest to me.

-Peter: For being my friend through it all, and a guidepost on my journey to being a better person.

-Amy: For being on of the friendliest and brightest people I have ever met, and for being so unconditionally kind to a total stranger.

-Janna: For always being there for everyone, at any time, despite any worries you had.

-Raph: Zen Master, whom helped me to focus, no matter how weird things got.

-Josh: For being the wisest of wise men.

-Salim: A really funny guy who always knew when to throw a good line and be a good friend.

-Trevor: Being able to listen to me rant and laugh despite not knowing what the heck I was talking about was fun, wasn't it?

-Sara: The Globe-hopper, who was an inspiration for me to expand the horizons of my understanding

-Laura: A good advisor, and for always being able to talk openly

-Johnny C. and Meagan: For being two of the nicest, kindest being on God's green earth.

-Winky: never lose that smile, cool?

-Graham T.: For being one of the only people who could ever consistently surprise me.

-Emily: For being a friend despite the fact that you thought I should probably be commited :)

-Ian: The best of Good Samaritans.

Tim, Gord, Greg, Grant, Dave H and Dave C: Hanging with you was always cool, wish we could do it more often.

There are those who now ask: "What is Systems Design?" Well, to be honest, I never could make a good answer. But upon reading a passage from Thomas Homer-Dixon's The Ingenuity Gap, where he describes evolutionary biology and ecology, can be adapted to succintly define Systems Design engineering. I have taken the liberty of doing so as follows:

"Systems is a science of the integration of parts. It builds on the knowledge of specific components, but it is less interested in the properties of the individual parts than in what happens - what emergent properties can be identified- when these parts are combined into a whole system. This is more plurarlistic, more comfortable with and interested in gaps in knowledge, and more accepting of uncertainty and surprise. It is fundamentally interdisciplinary, in that it draws on many fields and many approaches - historical, comparitive, and experimental - to achieve understanding.."

Thursday, August 28, 2003

"We can be heroes...."

Anyway, now that I've covered my family, on to my heroes from my childhood and high school years;

Mike: My best friend, and although he and I have had our differences, there are few people I respect more. While I have my family to thank for my more positive characteristics, I have to thank Mike for showing me my darker nature. By exposing me to my anger, ruthlessness and cruelty, he unknowingly (?) innocculated me to it, and gave me the means to control it. In turn, I hope I have shown him that there is more to life than that.

Ross: Ross and I have been kindred spirits: Hot headed picked on kids of Italian lineage. Which probably explained why we used to hate each other so much. That being said, he's shown just how far past that sort of crap we can go, and he's been an inspiration in that regard. Kudos, dude.

Barb: While I regret that it has been too many years since I last saw or spoke to her, Barb had the unique distinction of being the first woman outside my family to believe in me, and to expand my horizons. Any instinct I have to change and better myself are a direct result of her showing me just how limited and immature I was. I never her thanked her for that. Barb if you are reading this, thanks.

Bob Denham: My chain-smoking, misogynistic, alcoholic Gr.9 English teacher was the first teacher (outside my mom, of course) who thought I had any real talent at anything. That bastard started my affair with writing, and he deeply influenced my writing style. Thanks, Bob

The Skaters (Adam et. al.): There were two "groups" in my school; the jocks and the skaters. I didn't really understand or belong to any particular group, but it was the skaters I related to more easily. They used a "live and let live" policy that was refreshing change from hyper-competitive materialism that was more typical of jocks. Aside from which, the skaters saw things in high school ffor what they were; completely fucking arbitrary.

Later folks,


Sunday, August 24, 2003

A different topic entirely....

I've decided to drop all mentions of comics and popculture for the next few blogs, because I've noticed that I've been talking about it far more than I really wanted to. The only exception will be when I talk about the Weird Al Concert I'm going to in a few days...

What I'm going to talk about for the next few posts: My heroes.

So to start

My family

My father and mother just celebrated their 27th anniversary this last Thursday, and it reminded me of how much I owe to them and the rest of my family. While no amount of words can truly express how I feel about them, I felt a little bit of homage is appropriate.

My father taught me the value of a limitless imagination and of the value of different perspectives. Unfortunately, I also inherited a good deal of his absent-mindedness, but we try to not let it deter us.

From my mother, I developed a very fine sense of right and wrong, and an idealism that occassionally gets me into trouble, but that has served me well.

My little brother is Kid Mercury; he loves speed, and is everything I am not; naturally atheletic where I'm studious, quick-wited where I'm contemplative, and we also share in a hair trigger temper, which means we've scrapped more than our fair share over the years. Despite that, I admire his talent and his sheer resourcefulness, which has always been an inspiration for me.

My kid sister is the only member of our family with real patience, which stands to reason as she's probably the smartest of us.

My grandparents are people of rare courage, resourcefulness and honest. They taught me to fight for what I believe in, and helped to cultivate the tenacity I would need to be the best person I could be.

My Uncle Sergio's sense of humor, while it sometimes irked me, helped me learn to cope with the people who would try to tear me down. He has helped me learn not to be bitter at people.

Together, these people instilled in me the values and characteristics that most define who I am and what I stand for. By knowing them, you know me.

This last week at work has been busy, and next week I'll be putting in some OT to get some projects off the ground, so don't expect much blogging until Labour day....so here are a few things I want to talk about

In the last few days, I've watched Phonebooth (good, not great film), and Bowling for Columbine (which really does provide an unique look at American culture, and how it is actually different from Canadian, so I was impressed, and surprisingly, I found it wasn't as one-sided as some people seem to think it is.

The other movie I've watched recently was the classic Gary Cooper movie "High Noon" which is a real treat; a Western that isn't as much about the violence as it is about things like truth, loyalty, and duty. It holds up a lot better than most action flicks, and I can honestly say I was kept in suspense the whole time.

One of the local radio commentators, a fairly conservative (for Canada anyway) pundit was suggesting with all seriousness that he believes that big east coast blackout of last week was the result of a US-black ops operation to test and operate Nikola Tesla's technique of drawing power from the ionosphere. This theory has been supported by the usual net minded who go for the far out theories. I'm not sure I believe this, but on the other hand....well...wouldn't it be very scary if they could do this? Wouldn't that essentially re-write a lot of history books (and possibly knock Edison off of his pedestal as one of the great inventors)? Furthermore, given some of the truly bizarre inventions Tesla claimed to develop in his later life (force fields, death rays, weather control machines, etc.), is it possible that these are therefore in the realm of possiblity? I'm not sure, but I'm going to give it some more thought.


You know, I can't seem to muster up the enjoyment other people are having at Crossgen's problems. While I definitely don't like the company, I'll give them credit them for trying to bring the industry as a whole out of the 19th century by bringing in things like health plans and such. Which has me wondering, given the state of the medium, what is a good business model for the comic industry? In the next few months I plan on taking a closer look at all of the companies, and see if there is a viable model that is out there, and if not, see what would be necessary to create one. Any and all help would be appreciated...

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Sorry, would have posted sooner, but well...blackouts....

Anyway, I thought I would post the comics I'm hoping to sell. If you contact me at infinite_horizon@hotmail.com by Wednesday, we'll set up shipping and delivery...otherwise I'll post on eBay again....

All prices are in Canadian Dollars, and do NOT include Shipping...so if you see something you like, contact me


ULTIMATES LOT (Must be sold as an entire set – Mark Millar writing, Bryan Hitch illustrating one of the best comics on the market today!)
Ultimates Issues 1, 2, 3, 5&6
Price: $10 for the lot. This is below the cover price and one of the best deals you can find!

SUPREME LOT (Must be sold as an entire set - includes Supreme issues written by comics legend ALAN MOORE)
Pre-Moore issues include Supreme #33, 37, 38, 39, 40, and Supreme: Glory Days #2
Alan Moore issues include Supreme #44, 45, 49
Price: $6.00 for the lot, or $0.67 per issue!

AUTHORITY LOT (Must be sold as an entire set – A huge set of one of the industry’s top books collected in one set, with work by superstar writer Mark Millar, and Art from Frank Quitely, this is a deal that must not be missed!)
The Authority Issues 15-18, 20-29 and the Jenny Spark, the Secret history of the Authority Issue #3 featuring Jack Hawksmoor!
Price: $20.00

WOLVERINE SET (Must be sold as an entire set – Includes a collector’s edition Issue#100 with hologram cover)
WOLVERINE issues 91-100, 124, 125
Price: $10.00, less than a dollar per issue!

FLASH LOT (Must be sold as an entire set – a set of Mark Waid’s legendary run on the character, a must have for Waid and Flash fans alike!)
Flash issues 112, 113, 115-118, 142-148, 150, 152-154
Price: $10.00

SUPERMAN LOT (Must be sold as an entire set – includes the works of some of the best writers and artist on the Man of Steel today!)
Superman: the 10-cent adventure
Superman #159
Superman # 166 (With enhanced foil cover)
Superman #172
Adventures of Superman # 581
Adventures of Superman # 612
Action Comics # 798
Superman: Kal
Superman: Distant Fires
Price: $9.00

Loonie comics (each comic is $1, and can be purchased individually)
Avengers vol. 3 #5 (George Perez art)
Avengers vol. 3 #7 (George Perez art)
JSA: The Unholy Three #2
FF: Big Town #1
2099: World of Tomorrow #1
The Kree-Skrull War Staring the Avengers#1 (Reprinting Avengers vol.1 # 93 and 94)
Captain America, Vol. 3 #33
Captain America, Vol. 3 #50
Fury/Agent 13 #1
Fury/Agent 13 #2
Contest of Champions II #2
Contest of Champions II #3
Contest of Champions II #4
Contest of Champions II #5
Vanguard (Image) #1
Wildcore #4 (Wildstorm/Image)
Wild C.A.T.S Annual#1 (1998, Wildstorm/Image)
Hourman # 9
Hourman #19
The Shadow Annual #1 (DC, 1987)
Nightman #1 (Ultraverse, 1993)
The Spirit #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, 1983)
Sovereign Seven #1 (Chris Claremont, DC)
The Kingdom #1 (Mark Waid)
The Kingdom #2 (Mark Waid)
Uncanny X-Men #340
Uncanny X-Men # 341
X-Men #58
X-Men #59
X-Men #60
X-Men #61
X-Men #98 (Alan Davis Art!)
The CrossOvers #2 (CrossGen Comics)
The CrossOvers #3 (CrossGen Comics)
Sigil #1 (CrossGen Comics)
Sigil #2 (CrossGen Comics)
Sigil #3 (CrossGen Comics)
The Path #15 (CrossGen Comics)
Ruse #11 (CrossGen Comics)