Tuesday, November 09, 2004

God, it's so funny because it's ironic....

I occasionally visit Rush Limbaugh's website. I do this because I find it morbidly fascinating how some Americans use "Liberal" as a swear word, and he seems to be the definition of that type. So, I'm reading, and I catch this little online quote....

"...you'd have to say this is a red county country, not a red state country..."

Why would I find this amusing? A couple reasons;

1) The idea of an Amercian proudly proclaiming his country to be a "Red Country" is funny for a kid who grew up in the waning days of the Cold War.
2) The fact that he's happy about that it's his political viewpoint that is so prevasive that he ignores the notion that a lack of diversity is a VERY BAD thing for a country to have.

Oh, well, on to less serious items....


Looking at many comic reviews I keep seeing the word "Accessiblity" mentioned as a key issue for comics writing. And I keep wondering how to best quantify that, if it's even possible.

I come at this from a fairly unique viewpoint. One of my earliest comics was an issue of "Uncanny X-Men"; the second to last part of the huge "Inferno" crossover. It was full, and I mean FULL of continuity bits that I had no clue about, as it was my first real exposure to the X-Men beyond an old episode of "Spider-man and his Amazing Friends" in which they guest starred.

Was this confusing for 8 year old me? Yes
Did I buy a huge number of back issues or search the internet to find the backstory? No, because there was no internet, and because I didn't even know you could BUY Back issues.
Did I enjoy the story? HELL YES.

Thus, I wonder if the problem of Accessiblity is somewhat exaggerated. On one hand, I've tried exposing non comics readers to issues of New Invaders and Robbie Morrison's Authority (These people have promptly threatened me to never do it again). On the other hand, there is little problem doing this with Spider-Girl, or Captain America, or even Robin.

I think this is something that warrants further experimentation.
Thoughts and ideas for structure of an experiment are greatly appreciated.


Saturday, November 06, 2004


Application to Masters School: DONE
Scholarship Applicatons: DONE
Ebay Auctions: DONE
Second Comicbookgalaxy review: DONE

I can finally get back to the business of blogging for awhile without any further real-life distractions.


Michael Paciocco

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Huh....go Figure...

...apparently I'm a critic at Comicbook Galaxy, looking at this, anyway.

Kind of a surprise really; not much of a real background for this sort of thing other than some articles I wrote in my senior year of high school. But it's a nice surprise, none the less.

Working a few other things, announcements soonish....


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, Between my 25th birthday and some volunteer efforts, I have not been as regular as I should. Next week will see large chunks of blogmeat on comics, politics, technology and more.

In the meantime, check out my latest batch of comics for sale on eBay.



Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A lot of interesting Space news today.

The big story is that Spaceship One just barely got in the first of two qualifying flights for winning the X-Prize. I've got to hand it to Mike Melvill for pulling out of a generally creepy roll in the ascent. The Right Stuff indeed.

Another story that is getting a lot of coverage here in Canada is whether or not we want to sign on to the US missile Defense Sheild Project. Personally, I'm against it for the following reasons:

1) There are more viable ways to spend taxpayer money on defense than a systems that has not been shown to work effectively.
2) Missiles from current or future "rogue states" aren't the problem; it is terrorists who would smuggle WMDs into a North America via cargo transport
3) I find the science of the system to be nebulous, and that's not a good sign.
4) Very few countries can afford a ballistic missile program, and it's very resource intensive, requiring a lot of men, materials, and time. These things can be found more easily on the ground then trying to shoot them once in the air. The means of using WMDs mentioned in 2) above is a lot more likely, and far more scary.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, September 27, 2004

Well, this sucks....

Looks like Burt Rutan has all but sewn up the X-Prize (Go here for all the info). While I'm not that surprised, I'm a little sad. For a short while, it really looked like the Canadian team had a real shot at beating Rutan in a David Vs. Goliath manner. I mean, the DaVinci Project was an underfunded team, even when they got the big sponsorship from Golden Palace. I mean, Rutan has one of the MicroSoft founders as his patron for this. Despite how this might sound, I'm not complaining. Anything that gets people into space again, and can be proven to do so cheaply, is ultimately of benefit to the rest of us, no matter the country. And if you have to get beat, it might as well be to a guy like Rutan.

Still, it would have been nice to put Canada on the Aerospace History map again....


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Better Late than Never

Something from the Comicbookgalaxy Blog that I just caught right now. A Challenge for bloggers to name their favorite "Brilliant but Cancelled" comic series. I'm going to do him one better; not only will I name my "brilliant but Cancelled" Series, I will also include "Brilliant but will be cancelled soon" series, and "Absolutely horrible and should be cancelled now" series (For the sake of not having this section go on too long, I'm sticking with series that which have not exceeded 12 issues at this time).

Let's begin


The Establishment - OK, I know next to nothing about all the English pop-culture references scattered throughout this series, but even I know an astonishingly good comic when I see one.

Mr. Majestic - This one already got covered here, but I want to add on to what was said here. It is important to note that before Alan Moore got his hands on him (and later, Joe Casey), this character was an incredibly vain ripoff of Superman with no interesting features whatsover (Kind of like the current superman, only more so). While Moore started to bring some depth, it was Casey who decided to go to the distance (along with Ed McGuiness) and make some comics that you could look at today and see how much damage the concepts of "widescreen" and "decompressed storytelling" have done to take the joy out of superhero comics.

The "MC2" line - More good fun here to be had, courtesy of Tom DeFalco. First, let me say that I find it very weird to defend this guy, because of the fact that I HATED his run on Fantastic Four during the 90s. However, I can forgive him for churning out a whole lot of really readable comics that while a corny, would sell very well in trade. ANEXT in particular, is a fantastic take on a second-generation group of Avengers that clearly shows a love of the Roy Thomas and Roger Stern Eras of the title. You can find these issues real cheap if you take the time to look, and I highly recommend that you do.

Stormwatch: Team Achilles - Despite what you may think of Micah Wright (I know the controversy has caused some division, and I understand and can sympathise, especially with those who blindly defended Micah) his work here was very impressive for a first time comic writer. Had this been marketed correctly, it would have been called "G.I. Joe for grown ups" and might have sold very well indeed. Say what you will about his politics or his regretful lapse in judgement, the comics were good, and should be respected as such.

Alan Moore's Supreme (Honourable Mention) - while not technically "cancelled" (on infinite postponement, until Alan Moore dies and Rob Liefeld decides to capitalize on it by 'releasing these lost works', if I were to guess), it is certainly unfinished. If the current superman books were anywere near as interesting as this comic or Mr. Majestic, well, they'd be selling again, wouldn't they? Moore took (yet another) lackluster Superman riff and showed us what a 21st century superhero comic should look like. Very good reading, and I recommend you either get the issues on Ebay or try and get the recently-released trades from Checker Book Publishing.


Captain America and the Falcon - it is becoming clear to me that Christopher Priest must have angered all the wrong gods. He comes out with a vital and complex look at this 60 year old comic character that is unbelievably entertaining, but is then handicapped by his artist for the first storyline. To make matters worse, the "Main" Captain America title is about to be relaunched and will be getting a much bigger marketing push due to the fact that Ed Brubaker is at the helm. This one's doomed folks. But then, it's a Priest title, so you should have already known that already.

Runaways - Oh, I know there is supposed to be a new "Season" coming out soon. Excuse my pessimism here. Of all the titles on this list, this is the one I want to be wrong about the most. However, when you consider that Marvel isn't making the best push for this book while Vaughn is simultaneously being courted to take over a lot of the "big name" projects, you can see why I might think that it doesn't have a chance.

Fallen Angel - Peter David has pimped for this book like no comic he has ever done, which is saying quite a bit for a man with a 20-plus year career in this field. However, the fact is David's track record when he pushes this hard speaks for itself. This title will probably last the longest of the ones on this list, but I don't expect it to crack issue 30.

Birds of Prey - Gail Simone has gone out of her way to make this an accessible, fun, and entertaining read (This is currently just about the ONLY main DC title I pay any attention to, so that it is saying something). Again, DC won't push it, and it'll likely die out too damn soon. Shame for that.


Invaders - Scroll down to see my review of the first issue, and why I think it qualifies as one of the worst comics of 2004. The premise and nature of this comic are so dead set against gaining new readership that if it makes it to 12 issues, it would be nothing short of a miracle.

Amazing Fantasy - Serves no conceivable purpose save to try and destroy the Spider-Girl comic, and by all industry reports, is failing to do even that.

Superman/Batman - Souless dreck that tries to appeal to your sense of nostalgia while beating you to death with sheer senselessness.

X-Force - Cannot possibly be worth the money you spend on it, and if you are buying it, then lord help you when you look back on yourself in about 5 years.

Michael C. Paciocco

Friday, September 17, 2004


I'm sick of it. Really.

Looking at the big events (and I mean looking, I don't buy event comics, but I check out the Newsrama previews and check in at a lot of fan forums to get all the spoilers) at Marvel (Avengers Disassembled) and DC (Identity Crisis and the Jim Lee drawn Superman) I have to admit, that well, who the hell wants to read this?

At the risk of sounding like an old man here, the comics I read as a kid involved superheroes (I won't say they were brightly coloured; I was a child of the late 80s/early 90s, when pretty damn near all superheroes wore black) actually, you know DOING THINGS about the various disasters happening all around them. Now, I look at these two examples which are being held up to the media and what do I see? A bunch of grown men (in tights and out) seeing disasters happening all around them and bitching about how helpless and ineffective they are. Who the hell wants to read comics like that? Actually, I take that back. I can see where there could be a dramatic need to tell that type of story, but this is way too much, and it's over the top.

Now, the prevailing logic is that the reason these stories are as somber as they are is because they reflect the feeling of powerlessness the world felt on that day which need not be mentioned (I'm sorry, but in an election year, politicians of all stripes have used and abused that day so much that it is begining to lose meaning, so I choose not to mention it by name). Well, you know what? That's entirely ass-backwards. On that day, and the many days since, we have seen many feats of heroism of a very human nature, and in some ways, a superhuman nature. Whether it was at the site of disaster, or a soldier on a battlefield (while I'm against some of the wars currently being waged, it is because I doubt the sincerity and reasoning of the leaders who lead to war, not the soldiers), or any decent act of charity (and that oh so brief feeling of global unity), THAT IS HEROISM. THAT DESERVES TO BE CELEBRATED.

I don't want to look back at the comics made in the first decade of the 21st century and say it was the age of "Shock and Cynicism". We deserve better. All of us. Demand it.

Michael Paciocco

Friday, September 10, 2004

Toronto, Turbines, and Tomato Sauce

Got back from my week long trip in Toronto, in summary:

-Thank you John and Meagan for having me to your place and being so generous. God Bless.

-Thanks go out to my uncles and aunts and cousins who were so generous with their time and transportation, especially Uncle Nick

-Checked out the local Chapters, The Sci-Fi Superstore (the comic selection was a little on the light side, but still a decent place overall) and Planet X comic shop.

The bulk of my time was spent with my grandparents and great uncles and aunts preparing the Tomatoes to be made into pasta sauce. I honestly think my generation is woefully unprepared for the amount of WORK that will need to be done preserve their traditions into the next century when they finally leave us. Having spent a goodly number of hours with them, I am continuely amazed by my grandparent's energy entering their 80s that would astound those in their 40s.

Of course, the main reason for my excursion was to talk to professors at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS, see the link). Overall, I think it was a positive experience, as it really opened a lot of possibilities I had not considered. Going in, I would have told you that I wanted to do Computational fluid modelling for aerodynamic design, but looking at the research that these guys are doing, I find there is a lot more out there that I could do. Here's what happened:

DAY 1: The first professor I met told me that he wouldn't likely have funding for me until next year, but he deluged me with research papers and a lot of other info and suggestions. Good guy, despite the fact that as I skimmed those papers I realize that what he's doing isn't really for me. The second guy is doing some fascinating research that would take advantage of my ergonomics and systems modelling training, but again, no likely openings until september. Professor #3, however, is a different story. He entices me with every hook (Lots of industry interest in his research, that he's had experience with Systems Design grads and thinks the world of them, possiblity of a job waiting for me after I get my Masters, etc), but what really struck me was that his research had applications beyond those of aerospace, including a lot of fields that could use a broad based systems person like myself. What can I say, he buttered me up. I left there feeling really good....

DAY 2: ...until I met #4. #4 did something I never thought I would see a professor do: He basically spent 30 minutes telling me how little anyone thinks of his research, how no one cares, and how he is basically riding it out until he retires. NOT A GREAT SALES PITCH. #5 and I hit it off fairly well, not just on the research, but on the fact that we have the same general interests, and that we are both huge followers of the X-Prize and the new private space race. We are both believers in space flight...and that's when I realized something....

I am a bit of a living stereotype. I'm the small town boy influenced by his father's science fiction (one of my earliest memories is at 3 years old watching "The Doomsday Machine" episode of Star Trek the original series) and inspired by the hometown hero astronaut whom the hometown threw a tickertape parade and named streets and buildings after (This being of course, Dr. Roberta Bondar). Sadly, we both realized that with today's culture, I might truly be the last of my breed. I hope not, and I will spend my life fighting against that sadness to prevent that prediction.

So there you have it. Now, here's the sticky part: Do I choose the prof with the better research or the one that I like better as a person?

Michael Paciocco

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Creepy thoughts...

In the Gym yesterday, and heard "PYT (Pretty Young Thing)" by Michael Jackson. I think we can all now look back on that song as a clear cry for help. I'm not advocating banning it or anything, but man, now I can't listen to that song without laughing at it.

Another really creepy song? "If I was invisible" by that Clay Aiken guy. Is it just me, or does it sound like a stalker's theme song? Seriously, listen to the words. And this guy is supposed to be the clean-cut all-American singer who got chosen by American Idol folks? Yeesh.

Michael Paciocco
Paying the Piper
I'm trying to raise a little extra cash to pay for public transit (and kick in some gas money to my relatives who will be helping me get about town) on my little Toronto trip next week, hence my EBAY auctions here

Thanks, it's appreciated....

Thursday, August 19, 2004

News, Reviews, and other Sundry

Well, sorry about the increased delay...I'm still trying to get comments and the links list to work. If you can be of any help, please contact infinite_horizon@hotmail.com

Let's see, as for news:

-Heading down to Toronto at the beginning of September on a mostly business venture to try and get work and/or some support and information on doing a Master's degree at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies.

-Support Comic Book Galaxy: Apparently, they could use your support. Alan David Doane and company have been the first and last word on critical comic thinking, and deserve anything you can do to help them. And if you doubt the caliber of these people as serious comic thinkers, go read Alan's interview with ALAN MOORE.

Reviews: Trying to catch up on comics I've been reading....either in paper form or digital (via the free sites)


Invaders #1 - Should be bought, preserved, and analysed as a text book example of how NOT to do a number 1 issue of a comic. This book is SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT. and if you doubt it, go read it yourself here. I checked it out because I liked C.P. Smith's artwork from Stormwatch: Team Achilles and figured that his sensiblities would be put to adequate use here. I was wrong.

For those of you whom lack the stomach to actually read through this pigeon dropping, let me give you the cliff notes as best I can:

- Do you have a lot of old World War Two comics? Did you catch the 'story' that introduced all these characters in Avengers? No? Then you and I have something in common, because I have no Fucking clue whom 90% of these characters are, although I do remember John Walker as the right wing psycho Captain America from Mark Gruewald's run. Looks like the dumbass still hasn't learned his lesson. Oh, and I know who Namor is too.

-I thought Jim Hammond was blond, or graying....but here he has brown hair. It could be the horrible colouring here...help needed.

-I really wish I knew who the man-sized robo-insects were, or why they were being fought, or how the action was being depicted, because it just isn't clear. Does Jim Hammond (The original Human Torch for those of you who never bought the Thunderbolts or doesn't have a 1984 Handbook to the Marvel Universe handy) have pyrokinesis now? Heat vision? Who cares?

-Again, who are these people and why are they a team? To defend Democracy? That falls apart when you have "King of the Seas" Namor on your team. Head hurting. At least the Union Jack character seems just as fucking confused as me. Even though he doesn't talk like any Englishman I have ever heard or seen on TV or met....

-Page 13: Funniest/Stupidest part of the issue here. Walker (Calling himself "US Agent" according to caption box, even though the duds look like a cross between the medeval Captain America costume from Busiek's first storyline and Ultimate Cap) rams his shield marked with the names "of American lives lost ...to Terrorist scum like you! Show Some Respect!" into a bug man bot. Okay, apparently in the Marvel Universe, Sept 11, 2001, the World Trade Center was attacked and brought down by ray-gun weilding insect bots. Nevermind that the trivialisation of a Real World tragedy in this comic is done in such a ridiculous manner (Seriously, someone at editorial should get FIRED for something this insensitive and stupid).

-Ok, now the fights over, and of course, instead of acting like a military and securing the area, the characters decide to start bitching at each other. Oh, and am I supposed to find it creepy or just ham-fisted the "What is this, equal rights for synthetics?" line coming from an American hero who's supposed to stand for...equality?

-The rest of this issue is talking heads that really explains...well...nothing, except that there is a lot of rampant sexism and possibly racism inherent in the characters. And the twist at the end leaves going "Who the fuck cares?"

And with that spleen venting accomplished, on to better things

Other Reviews:

Sleeper Season Two #1-2: Come on, you shouldn't need ME to recommend this to you. It's good. Really good. Very dark and disturbed, but good.

Invincible #13 - Not the best jumping on point...If I were you and new to this title, I'd go fish out the trades (or at the very least, issue #9) to start off. That being said, this is a good book, and it wraps things up fine while setting up a new status quo.

Fantastic Four #514-516 - Surprisingly, it looks like Waid's and Kesel's styles seem to clash in this one, which is odd given the similar approach the two of them have when dealing with superheroes. If you are familiar with the writers, you can probably tell whom contributed what, although I would also suspect that there was some editorial edicts that forced some of this plot. To be honest, I found this new Frightful Four arc to be a little darker than I would have liked, given that the Lee/Kirby era used these villains more for cheap laughs than anything else. However, a bad arc with this team is still a thousand times better than this book has been since the days of Walt Simonson.

Ex-Machina #2 - Hmm....I'm still not sure this is for me. While the premise is enticing, there is a not so subtle slam of superheroics being present throughout here, as it seems to me that Vaughn is implying that the character's career as a "superhero" was basically one long screw-up. The politics presented are bad, but they are entirely exciting. Great art by Harris, however.

Planetary #20 - The Real gem of the week, as not only are we dealing with the undiluted beauty of artwork provided by Cassaday, but we are actually given the impression that THE PLOT IS MOVING FORWARD. After two years and a handful of issues, this is very important. If you aren't reading this, well, you are missing out on the best comic since WATCHMEN.

That's all for now, later.

Michael Paciocco

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Some Days....
..I should just stay in bed.
Well, I found out that I didn't get the job with the power company due to my lack of experience.  Now, I understand their position, but how in the name of God is anyone supposed to get experience when all the junior level positions are taken by the guys with experience?

Oh, right.  Catch-22.

Hopefully feeling better tomorrow.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Getting back on Track

It's been too long, I know, and for a while, I didn't think I would be coming back at all.

But here I am.

OK, well, today will be short and sweet as far as business goes.

1) My Status:  Still on the job hunt and considering some possible grad school options.  I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked due to various family concerns over the last 6 months.  Things are more stable now, thankfully.

2) Help Wanted:   I could use some help trying to figure out how to set up a buddy link list to all of the cool websites I like to visit and fellow good bloggers, any help is appreciated.

3) New comics for sale:  Here

Saturday, January 17, 2004


Sorry, but for the next little while, I'm focusing on searching for a research area for a possible Master's application and will be unable to post new blogs until then.

Take care,

Michael Paciocco

Sunday, January 04, 2004

So here we are 2004....nothing new...just finished taking down the decorations...

Been doing some reading...I've got a pack of reviews I'll be putting up on Thursday, mostly comics from previous months and a few things I picked up online and from some friends of mine.

Anyway, onto a topic I've been meaning to get to;

A lot of commentators have said that the superhero comic is dead, and that we should stop spending time trying to revive it.

Well, are they right? Yes and no.

Yes, major corporate superhero comics (DC and Marvel) are dead dead dead, and have been for a long time. And simply put, that is just fine with the publishers, who are more interested in using the property in other media where they will be much more profitable and reach a broader audience. So, keeping that in mind, the corporate mentality is to keep the books consistent, stable, and pretty uninteresting. This is how Chuck Austen and Geoff Johns draw a paycheck, get over it.

However, whenever I hear that the superhero genre is dead, I have to smile ruefully. I point them to some really interesting indy superhero works such as The Forgotten or Sentinels, or even some of the more impressive genre work being done by Ed Brubaker or Micah Wright. The superhero genre is growing up, but it isn't dead. It is however, fighting for survival, and things do need to be changed drastically in order for the medium to survive.....

Here's what I think needs to be done.....

1) IMPLEMENT THE NICEZA RULE - Something I picked up from then-Marvel golden boy Fabian Niceza. If a comic doesn't hold your interest for two issues straight, DROP IT!
2) DON'T TAKE CRAP - You know that NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING Chuck Austen does interests you, drop it, let it go...
3) FUCK CONTINUITY - This is probably my biggest personal thing. When dealing with fictional realms, we shouldn't let some perceived notion of "the way things are" get in the way of telling a good story. Grant Morrison wants to tell two years worth of Superman stories, but he doesn't want to be tied down to things like the Lois/Clark marriage, then let him tell his story. Reboot continuity as often as you like to make the writers tell the best possible stories they can. This will allow for good storytelling.
4) SUPERHEROES FOR KIDS, NO REALLY - Stop trying to get both 8 year olds and 22 year olds to pick up Avengers. It's hard to appeal to all ages in any industry, but most of them know who their audience is, and they aim for it. you want kids to pick up comics? Take some lessons from Justice League Animated series, keep the stories and art simple, but not simplistic. If you want to do superheroes, do them right. Make it good, but make it cheap, disposable entertainment. If someone has to choose between $3 for a 22 page comic or $3 for a movie rental, comics will loose every time.
5) COMICS FOR ADULTS, THE POST-SUPERHERO (AKA THE NEO-PULP MOVEMENT) - Something like the Forgotten, or books like Sleeper and Stormwatch work because they are appealling to the same type of people who liked the old-sci-fi and mystery pulp magazines that predated comics. They were well written heroic sagas. It may be hard to realize, but remember that something like The Shadow was a major hit long before the advent of the modern superhero. It seems that by incorporating some of the elements of both superhero and old pulp genre, we arrive at a model that might bring back some of the larger audiences these formats once enjoyed.
6) FORMAT FORMAT FORMAT - Ok, let's face it, the current format HAS TO GO! TPBS and OGNS are a step, but we have to find a way of creating a format for comics that is ideal for large scale distribution again.....
7) DEATH TO THE DIRECT MARKET! - Kill it before it kills the industry.
8) THE SECOND GENERATION SUPERHERO? - This is more of an observation than any kind of suggestion, but I've noticed an increase in the second-generation superhero idea in recent years (JSA, Invincible, the aforementioned Sentinels, etc.). Now, while you'd have to look at the demographics here, I have a theory I'd like to suggest to you. The original superheroes were created in the 40s and 60s for the most part, ages of extreme turbulence, conflict, and rapid social and technological change, with each generation treating their times as being unique. Well, now it seems that we also live in such times, BUT, unlike previous generations, we have the advantage of looking back with a clearer perspective, and understanding that there are similarities to what has happened in the past and how to avoid some of the mistakes and failings of the past. If the superhero of 40's and 60's were a metaphor for how those generations came to terms with their times, perhaps, and just perhaps, the second-generation superhero is a metaphor for the generation of this age. Of course, I'm an engineer, not a sociologist, so I'm probably wrong on this one.