Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bee Back Soon


Sorry, sometimes I can't resist the easy ones. Heading out of town for a few days. Here's an extra bonus poster to tide you over

(For more on the insane glory that is Swarm, go here)


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dave's Long Box: Going to a better place




Well, we are going to bid a fond farewell to Dave's Long Box, as Dave is moving on to other things. So Be it.


I for one, will never forget the following


Thor: Smack Talker


Dave's Totally Awesome X-Men



Boob War






These and other things, we all have Dave to thank for. and I thank Dave, because quite a few of the images I've used in my posters are from his 90s comic collection, among others. So, my hat's off to you. Godspeed.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What If we lived in a comic book Universe, Part 9


You know, somedays I wake up and I find it impossible to believe that Western civilization has sunken so low that we use tools like this. I mean, there are some people who just want to privatize everything for the sake of privatizing it, but it just doesn't seem to work. Nevermind that in this case, the group in question is a literally all the worst stereotypes of Americans (Trigger-Happy xenophobic yahoos) amplified by all the worst parts of capitialism. I love Americans and I like capitialism (because it is better, so long as it is regulated and not given such total free reign as to amount to effectively feudalism), but seriously, to my American friends: Cut this crap out, please. You are making humanity look bad here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Apologies


Sorry about the lack of posting this week; Family came from out of town and things are gearing up for me at the lab after a dry spell. I'm also sad to say that I'll probably have some short abscences over the next couple weeks due to travelling. Should be back to full daily operation by mid-May. In the meantime, I will do my very best to keep my output high for you people. I have some upcoming DVD reviews and some rants on various items, comics and otherwise. I'm not going to do a lot of comic reviews because, hey, Chris Sims is the best and I really don't buy that much in singles these days. So don't worry, big content is coming!


Monday, April 14, 2008

What if we lived in a comic book universe? part 8


Hey...eight weeks and still going. Yeah, I'm kind of surprised too.


As always, feedback is welcome. I know I'm still not up to completely daily postings, but I'm hoping to break that barrier sooner rather than later.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Night Physics!

Ah, proof that I am both an Engineer and a nerd: Mixing comics and science.

Before I go in further, I must give props to Dr. Jim Kakalios, Author of The Physics of Superheroes. This is a great book that goes into a lot of super detail about the science of various superpowers, without being so complex that you need a degree to follow it. Of course, if you have a degree, it makes it that much more fun. here's a sample video





Neat, huh? Now go buy his book!

Tonite, in anticipation of the upcoming Iron Man Movie, we will take a look at how Iron Man's suit allows him to fly...and how, it would probably end up with him driving himself into the ground like a tent peg.




Looks cool, no? I mean, just suit up, take off and leave all your earthly worries behind. Apparently, gravity would have to be one of these worries.


OK, for those of you who don't feel like taking a course in fluid Mechanics or Aerodynamics, here is the short version...when something moves through a fluid (Gases and Liquids are both considered fluids, albeit with vastly different properties) or a fluid moves over and under a surface, a pressure difference is created, and this force is known as Lift, which, as you can imagine, allows things to fly. The lift force is usually a product of the following elements: Surface area to generate lift, speed, and the properties of the object to generate lift. With aircraft,they have a huge surface area dedicated to generating lift, and that's the wings.

Do you see any wings on Iron Man's Armor? No? Oh, well would a humanoid body be able to generate lift? No, the human form is tremendously crap at that, otherwise skydivers wouldn't fall down quite so quickly. What about speed? In theory, but the problem there is that in the time it would take to get to that speed, you probably would have already crashed, unless your take off point was say, a really tall building. The other alternative would be to accelerate to ridiculous speed, and that would probably cause you to black out, and then crash. By the way, a crash of about 400 lbs going at several hundred miles per hour? It ain't going to be pretty, and once you get the can opener to open the armor, the pilot is going to be not much more than really chunky salsa due to the force of impact. Nevermind poor pedestrians and anyone who was on the ground when he impacted. This, by the way, is why you should be glad there aren't a lot of flying cars and jetpacks, because a midair collision would result in a rain of fiery bits that would look like the opening scene in Armageddon (the movie). Most of us can barely handle maneuvering in two dimensions at several dozen mph; adding another axis, gravity, and multiplying the speed will only worsen things.

None of these seem like good ideas. This leaves with an Iron Man who could only fly straight up and then slow his descent down in giant arcs like the Golden Age Superman, which is still sort of cool. Of course, just to keep himself balanced would require some really advanced gyroscopes capable of near instantaneous self-correction, which would be really neat, but hey, Stark's smart, so I can buy that.

Ah, but there is a way he could achieve flight; point a set of repulsors or engines down. This would give him a means of staying aloft the way a Harrier Jet does when it is performing a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL). Of course, the problem here is that, using Newton's Third Law, for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. So while he's providing himself at least 400 lbs of upward thrust, that means whatever is below him is being hit with 400 lbs of force. While at high altitude this might be mitigated, I'd hate to be directly below him when he's flying in the city as the force of his repulsors pointing down would turn me into a human accordion, nevermind crushing mailboxes, fire hydrants, pets, and denting vehicles and other property.

So overall, while the armor is nice, it's probably something that you should be glad doesn't exist in this exact form.

But always remember: Just because it's not realistic doesn't mean it's not fun. I don't know about you, but I'm jacked about going to see this movie.

Cheers.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

I am Responsive!


Why? Because I believe in responding to questions from the commenters.

Lurkerwithout has a really good comment that is worth of it's own blogpost. Here's his comment

The worst part of "Doom-Gate"? The crappy dialogue is distracting everyone
from the utterly stupid Deus Ex Spider-Woman save...

There hasn't been much discussion of this, and I think there is a very simple reason for that: it isn't a surprise anymore that Marvel doesn't know how to write super-fights.


A shocking and damning admission if you get right down to it; after all, Marvel practically INVENTED the super-brawl. But, it seems that the art of the big bad superfight has disappeared in this bygone age, especially as writers better known for emotional realism step in. And Bendis is defintely the weakest when you consider the following examples:

-The end of "Who Killed Retro-Girl?" in the first POWERS storyarc
-Deus ex-Luke Cage in The Pulse (where he, not Spider-Man, brings in the Green Goblin)
-Deus ex-Sentry (Several Avengers stories)
-Deus ex-Dr. Strange (again, the Avengers)
-Deus ex-Scarlet Witch (Avengers Dissassembled, again in House of M)

So yeah, it doesn't surprise me that Bendis writes a pet character of his to make "The big win" for no other reason than he likes the character and wants you to like him/her too, story logic be damned. It's also why I have such low expectations for "Secret Invasion"; I seriously doubt that ANY of the "70's versions" are going be the real deal, ESPECIALLY the ones of Cage, Jessica Jones, or Spider-Woman. Sorry, not buying it or caring.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Your Moment of Funny

A long and frustrating day at the lab prevents me from finishing my original blogpost, intending to respond to a few commenters. So you get this instead.










Also, in the comment threads, let me know if there's stuff you'd like to see from me in terms of posters or blog stuff. I appreciate feedback.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Doom's (Bad) Day

Because, just about everyone is talking about it. Yeah, Bendis really doesn't have Doom's Voice, does he?

OK, how do we fix this? Well, Could do what everyone else is doing by redialoguing that scene, but really? Been done. So, instead, borrowing an old idea from Chris Bird, and doing Doom's version of the Gettysburg Address

"Fourscore and seven years ago a gaggle of halfwits and the rabble that followed them, rose up against their so-called royalty, an even dimmer collection of unimaginative buffoons, barely the equal of the Accursed Richards! Their conceptions were the meager scribblings of minds lesser than Doom's and thus not worthy of consideration. Even now they wallow in their own inferiority of a civil struggle; such a thing would never occur under the rule of a true leader as Doom! They will spout their mindless prattle like unenlightened apes unable to see the true wisdom of Doom are wont to, and will wail and bleat as the sheep they are as they inter the resources they waste, sacrificed in vain. It is a sad loss, for if all accepted the rule of Doom none of this needless loss would occur; all those whom have been killed would have instead found happy and content lives in the service of the greater good of Doom! But alas, until their leaders submit to the will and wisdom of Doom, they will choke their soil with their own fluids. Those lost souls will be given the greatest tribute of all: they have Doom's sympathy, for they cannot know how they are exploited and debased and made to suffer under such pathetic and pitiful leadership. Like the Accursed Richards, they will not be remembered, save as a minor footnote in the histories. But Doom shall not forget easily, and thus, it is Doom's struggle to complete his task; the creation of a world that knows not hunger, nor sickness nor suffering nor the slightest material discomfort. And surely, for this great work, some minor tribute would be paid to the rightful savior? Is it not good that the servants thank the masters for their generosity? Of course it is such, and of course, tribute WILL be made. The path before you is so clear that even the youngest child can see--that I highly resolve that a world under Doom shall give birth to a paradise, and that above all else, Doom shall endure."

Monday, April 07, 2008

What if We Lived in a Comic Book Universe, part 7



Of course, most of these people would end up in Hydra, AIM, Sons of the Serpent, or some other group of batshit crazy idiots who would get their asses handed to them on a regular basis. And it would be a finer world

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Plot Devices that need to go Away #1


Hi and welcome to what I hope will be a new semi-Regular Feature at the MPM (Provided Reader feedback is positive) that is dedicated to comic Plot Devices have become overused in modern times, and should probably be retired for a while.

So, Plot Devices that need to go Away #1:

THE GUY SO SMART THAT HE ACCURATELY PREDICTS THE FUTURE



Also known as: The Techno-Prophet, The Futurist, The Ultimate Predictor, Etc.

What is it?: Many consider this the Sci-Fi version of The Prophet or Mystic; through mechanical means, or just being really, really smart, the character is able to accurately calculate the future, and thus, is able to make plots that move like clockwork.

Why do writers use it?: This particular device is usually used for one of two reasons
  1. It's an easy way to show how intelligent the character is by allowing the reader to go Holy Crap! This guy predicted the future! With Maths!
  2. It's an easy way to write your character out of a jam

Recent Offenders include but are not limited to: Iron Man, Darkseid, Reed Richards, Amadeus Cho, Black Panther (Christopher Priest Era-only), Dr. T.O. Morrow, Dr. Gregory House (House), Linderman (Heroes), Batman, Layla Miller, At least one character in every Mark Millar-penned comic.





Patient Zero: Ozymandias from Watchmen. While some would suggest that you could use the concept of psycho-history from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, I would argue that in most comic stories, most writers use Ozy here as the base case for what they are trying to achieve.




Why it has to go Away: Generally, having a main character who can accurately model the future at every turn doesn't work out very well for serialized fiction because it either makes him look like a God or an idiot, and usually nothing in the middle. Tony Stark here is probably the worst offender of the current batch here, and he shows aspects of both failings. Civil War? He comes off as a god, and a petty one at that, that can't be bothered to explain the rationale for his actions. It doesn't help that "Math told me this would happen!" isn't exactly the best reasoning under the sun when it comes to predicting human behavior. Given the constant sniping back and forth in the real world about Global Warming, something that has a lot of like, hard science behind it, it's a little insane to say that you can concretely prove human behavior with math. Hell, even in the Foundation series, the existence of a an x-factor (The Mule) was shown to throw off the entire concept of psychohistory and it's predictions. Saying that you can predict the actions of an entire species undercuts the belief that the individual matters in the grand scheme of things, and that's kind of a dour prospect in superhero fiction.

The other downside is that because of the nature of serialized fiction, the hero cannot always be right, otherwise there is no drama. When a "Futurist" fails, it generally makes him look like an idiot for not foreseeing this eventuality, like Tony in World War Hulk here:






Angles for Redemption of the Plot Device:

Actually, it's probably for the best to retire this one for a while, as it's showing a hell of a lot of wear and tear. But if you are bound and determined to use it, just keep in mind that individual characters matter, that they can always do something that the futurist won't predict. Gregory House is a great example: While he understands what people will do, and how they will lie and cheat and contradict themselves, he also shows a remarkable inability to expect people to try and rise above their failings.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Superman has a Message for Peter Petrelli




And that goes double for Clark on "Smallville". If there is anyone left watching that show that seriously believes that the version of Clark Kent on that show can POSSIBLY become any version of Superman that we've seen in any other medium, then god bless you, because I can't see it.

If I might expand my commentary beyond the limited confines of the funnybooks for a moment, can I just say what a shitkicking the very concept of heroism has received in our cynical age? I mean, have we become so debased that we don't even know what it looks like? Heroes and Smallville strike me as two glaring examples of how bad it has gotten; Heroes has exactly one character that I think meets the classical definition of the term: Hiro (yeah, inspired isn't it?). The rest are reluctant type heroes at best, and others are taken to be deluded or self-interested. Even those with generally good intentions (such as Hiro) are treated as being naive, foolish, and idiotic. Meanwhile, Peter Petrelli, whom is supposedly "the best of us" is self-absorbed, emo brat of a human being that I find completely unrelatable in any fashion. Yet, the writers keep trying to simultaneously force the notion that he is "The Hero" of the show will heaping angst on him (Notice now how he's managed to destroy the life of every woman he's involved with? Woot! He's like Spider-Man! Joey Quesada Approves!). And the less said about Smallville, the better.




It just doesn't fit for me. Maybe because in my own life, I've seen and met people who embodied heroic qualities. My family, teachers, people in my community; people who genuinely and unironically stood up for SOMETHING, even with the odds hopelessly stacked against them, but felt that they couldn't back down because they knew that SOMETHING WAS AT STAKE. Their struggles were rarely easy: They had to face mindless bureaucracy, apathetic crowds, and even hostile and powerful people determine to crush them. It wasn't even a question of "winning", it was a matter of principle; to them it was whether they could face their families with the basic human dignity of knowing that they were true to their beliefs and that they could claim honestly and humbly that they fought the good fight. These were people who tried very hard to set an example for others, and they worked selflessly to try and raise the bar for others to aspire to.

Are we so devoid of any kind of genuine empathy for others, or do we simply feel it is too hard to set bars for ourselves, and instead to pick apart the weaknesses (genuine or otherwise) of others? Me, I'd rather spend a lifetime trying to work for the betterment of everyone and live modestly than to attain the highest levels of wealth and power but without any values left to my name. And just once in a while, I would like to see more of that reflected in the fiction in my mediums, and it is becoming increasingly rare. So now and again, when I'll find it (as I have with Geoff Johns' recent Action Comics Arc; hey, this may be the Fan Fiction era of comics as Alan calls it, but every once in a while, there's at least good fanfiction), I'll celebrate it. And I hope you'll join me.

Heroes inspire us

Heroes challenge us to do better

Heroes make us believe

Heroes set the example

Heroes try every day

Heroes may not always win, but they never chose the easy way out.



(Edited to ADD: Sorry, I should probably explain this part a little better for those of you not following Action Comics. The guy on the receiving end of that roundhouse is Earth Man (formerly Absorbancy Lad) whom was a rejected applicant for the Legion of Superheroes. He has the power to copy the abilities of any and every superbeing he comes in contact with. In the course of this story, Earthman here has become a thinly veiled human supermacist whom has terrorized the entire planet and gone after the Legion for his rejection. He spends a lot of time whining about how he didn't get his chance and how he deserved it. I found the whininess combined with his powerset to be very evocative of Peter Petrelli form Heroes, so to me it's a metaphor. Your mileage may vary.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008