Avengers #34.1 Review: Hyperion Shows Superman & Batman How Things are Done

{SEE THE ORIGINAL WITH PICTURES AT http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2014/09/avengers-341-review-hyperion-shows-up.html}

Avengers #34.1 Review: Hyperion Shows Superman & Batman How Things are Done

"The World in His Hands"

Writer: Al Ewing

Penciler: Dale Keown

Inker: Norman Lee

Colorist: Jason Keith

Letterer: Cory Petit

Coby's Rating: 10/10

I know nothing about Hyperion. I've read all 34 Avengers comics up to this point, and I've seen him sort of in the background here and there, flying in with his super-strength to punch a badguy, but I really have no idea who he is or what he's about. According to the "PREVIOUSLY IN AVENGERS" opening page of Avengers #034.1, Hyperion's world died and he floated in nothingness until A.I.M. pulled him into the 616 Universe, where he joined the Avengers and saved some children from the Savage Land. Maybe I read this in some previous issues, but I really don't remember.

I also don't know why Marvel decided to number this comic 034.1. Maybe because they were deadset on having Avengers #35 be the start of the "Time Runs Out" 8-months in the future thing? They could've just called this thing Hyperion One-Shot, but then nobody would've bought it because nobody buys anything without "Avengers" or "X-Men" in the title (hence therenaming of AXIS to "Avengers & X-Men Axis").

But none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that this Hyperion One-Shot is pretty much a perfect comic. I know you haven't been paying attention, but I tend to be a pretty harsh reviewer (unlike the mainstream comics reviewing websites). I don't have an agenda, I don't get free review comics from the publishers, and I don't hope to work for one of the Big Two someday. I call things like I see them. When I was doing the Coby's Top 5 Comics of the Week thing, I gave only two comics a perfect 10/10 score: Moon Knight #5 and Chew: "Warrior Chicken Poyo". Well, here's a third perfect comic in Avengers #34.1.

It starts just outside of Rosemont, California, where we see an Irish guy singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" to a distraught-looking little boy as they drive down the highway in a pickup truck. A motorcycle cop pulls the truck over for doing 70 in a 55 and gets his face blasted off.

In the suburbs of Rosemont, we see Mr. and Mrs. Morris telling a couple of cops their son Bobby got abducted. Hyperion randomly shows up in their house and offers to help. The cops freak right the heck out because "with these super people, things... things escalate...". Despite their protests, Hyperion helps anyway, by taking a close look at their carpet.

It's at this point that I realize I'm reading something very special. Dude just zoomed in to a dead skin cell in the carpet fibers and analyzed the DNA! That's freaking incredible. That's... hey, can't Superman do that? I'm pretty sure he did something similar in All-Star Superman, but I don't really remember that one and I'm too lazy to look back and confirm. But I get the feeling I'll be remembering Avengers #34.1 for a long time. That means... oh, snap! Hyperion just out-Suped Superman!Hyperion realizes Bobby's adopted because his DNA doesn't line up with the Morrises'. He flies off, promising he won't be long.

...and the world recedes. Houses become toys, then flakes of skin. People become ants and then bacteria.
I have to be careful with metaphors like that. It's too easy for me to take them literally.
I am so different from these people... my experience of existence is so unlike their own, the gulf between us so great...
This isn't my home. I'm not from here.

And with those thoughts on one page, Al Ewing made me care more for Hyperion and understand him way more than I ever did Superman.

We then get a little bit of Hyperion's backstory. After his world blew up, he meets up with a new father, who teaches him the principles by which he wants him to live his life:

TRUTH WITHOUT COMPROMISE. THOUGHT WITHOUT ERROR. ALL THINGS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE WHOLE.

This is the part where I wish I knew a little bit more about just what the heck is going on. Is this "new father" of his an A.I.M. scientist, like it said on the first page? I'm not really sure. But the lack of understanding doesn't hurt the comic at all.

Hyperion's father asks him, "What are you for?" and Hyperion ends the flashback, cutting to the present where he asks himself, "What am I for?"

And then Hyperion puts Superman to shame again, by scanning the entire planet from space and simultaneously pondering the inter-connectivity of it all while looking for Bobby Morris.

Deep stuff.

Hyperion flashes back briefly to some painful times as his planet blew up and he was lost in the void. He cries in the void, asking himself, "What was I for?" He then snaps out of it and finds Bobby, matching his DNA, from space! and zooms to the rescue.

Hyperion stops the truck. The Irish guy gets out and introduces himself as "Doyle. Brendan Doyle. But most folks...

Hyperion's not impressed, and neither am I. Neither of us have ever heard of this "Mauler" dude before. There's a note on the previous page about the Mandaran having "a go" with Mauler's Blaze Cannon in Invincible Iron Man #513, but I didn't read that one.Hyperion imagines tearing the Mauler's suit to shreds. But he remembers his father telling him to be a teacher, not a bully. So he just stands there and lets the Mauler take some aggression out on him.While getting blasted, Hyperion informs Mauler that he's read his DNA and he's not the boy's father. Mauler reveals his boy died in a bus accident. He was driving by and saw Bobby playing in the yard and snatched him up because he reminded him of his son. Heart-wrenching stuff here.I recently read Batman Annual #1, where Mr. Freeze makes his New 52 debut. In it, Mr. Freeze is trying the whole time to get his wife Nora back from Wayne Industries (a plot I was familiar with from Batman: The Animated Series). But then, towards the end, Batman reveals that Nora was never Freeze's wife. She was actually the first cryogenics experiment and had been frozen for years before Victor Fries ever started working there. Fries developed an unhealthy obsession with the frozen woman and delusionally convinced himself they were married. When Batman dropped that bomb, I was like, woah. Mind-blowing stuff, man. But this here, when Hyperion informed Brendan Doyle that Bobby wasn't his son... that was even heavier. Such a beautifully paced, wonderfully done twist. You know what that means? Not only did Al Ewing's Hyperion out-Supe All-Star Superman, he also out-Batted the Batman!Hyperion goes back to observe the Earth from space and remembers his father's code: "Truth without compromise, thought without error, and all things for the betterment of the whole. And he was right. And he was wrong." Hyperion takes some of the consequentialism out of his father's motto and boils it down to its true essence. As he looks down on Bobby Morris being returned to his parents, Brendan Doyle in handcuffs, and Thor checking in on his Savage Land kids, he realizes, "the whole is made up of many parts".Hyperion declares all the world his children, and promises to try to teach us all. And I, for one, can't wait to see what happens next. I know Marvel doesn't really do letters pages anymore, but if they did, I'd encourage you all to send them this: Dear Marvel, Give Al Ewing a Hyperion ongoing!

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Hulk ex Machina

(see the original at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2014/01/hulk-ex-machina.html)

I had noticed in a few different places in the Marvel U different little hints at how the time-space continuum was broken, but I never really got the whole back story. I did read the Age of Ultron arc, as collected in Hard Cover, and I've been reading All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy from their respective #1s, but I guess I didn't put two and two together. In fact, I even started a ComicVine forum to try to get answers:

I'm a relatively new regular reader, but I've noticed that a common theme in some current Marvel books is that an abuse of time travel has broken in the Marvel Universe(s), what with the All New X-Men being stuck in the present and with the Ultimate Comics Cataclym I think there has been some talk about the universe breaking and that's how Galactus came through (also, is that the same Galactus from the main universe?). I think I've seen some other references to an abuse of time travel breaking something (Age of Ultron, GotG)... can someone explain what happened there and where I can read the origins, as it were, of the abuses of time travel? I found some articles about it at BuzzFeed and on this guy's blog, but nothing explaining the background of the whole situation.

Unfortunately, no one responded.

So I was looking for answers, and where did I find them? Tucked away in a little book I hadn't been reading until just recently (when looking for the Inhumanity tie-in), the Indestructible Hulk! Who would have thought Marvel would explain a major theme in a Hulk book?

And they do it with style. Indestructible Hulk is a great comic. It's got the cleverness and strangeness of an independent comic, but packs the power of a mainstream Marvel comic. The "Agent of T.I.M.E." story from Indestructible Hulk #s 11-15 is one of the best events I've read so far.

"T.I.M.E.", in typical comicbook government fashion, is an acronym for "Temporal Irregularity Management and Eradication". It is so deep within the secret black-book bowels of S.H.I.E.L.D. that not even Tony Stark knows about it, which is a great way to explain why we've never heard of this division before. Hey, at least they explained the acronym and didn't pull another S.M.A.S.H. gag.

The villain for this "Agent of T.I.M.E." story is none other than Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man.

And in his first scene, we see him mind-f***ing Bruce Banner and Maria Hill when they come to talk to him and he shows them "what the past smells like when it rolls over" them.

We get to see Banner and Hill as '30s swing dancers,

Samurai warriors,

and in Elizabethan garb,

and the whole interaction is brilliantly done, exemplifying that indy feel I mentioned earlier.

Zarrko then explains just what exactly is wrong with the time-stream, and the only being strong enough to confront the problem.

I'll skim over the rest of the story, because it is so much fun you should definitely go read it yourself. There's a "Recording Observation Bot" (R.O.B.) where Bruce Banner's consciousness is housed during the Hulk's time-traveling escapades (which is a very interesting plot device, and way less annoying that the ever-present reality-show camera-bots from Agents of S.M.A.S.H.); Hulk visits the Wild West, where he fights a dinosaur and the first Chronarchist (one of the coolest names for a villain, ever!); Arthurian times for the second Chronarchist; the Moon landing; ancient Egypt; Hulk shoots a mini-gun wearing a zoot suit, for some reason; Columbus's Santa Maria; Roman gladiator times; and, finally, Banner's own past at the gamma bomb site, where we get Hulk2.

We then find out that Zarrko has been controlling the Chronarchists all along.

And then, in a move that would put Superboy Prime to shame and in what has to be the greatest conclusion to any Hulk story ever, Hulk defeats Zarrko by literally shattering the time barrier with his fist

Awesome.

Only, Hulk then becomes trapped in the time-stream! Oh, no! What's he going to do?! Well, what's the only thing better than one Hulk ex Machina? That's right, TWO Hulk ex Machinas! Or, more specifically, a Red She-Hulk ex Machina.

"Agent of T.I.M.E." was a great Hulk story. By separating Banner's consciousness from the Hulk, it made me care about both characters even more. The Hulk smashing his way through some of the most stereotypical moments in history made for great fun. The Chronarchists are the most interesting bad guys I've seen in some time (at least since Ultimate Mole-Man), and I hope Marvel brings them back for some other stories. Mark Waid won me over as a fan with story--he was able to paint a seamless picture with his writing, despite the frequent switching of artists. And, most importantly of all, the story helped to answer some of the questions I had about the overarching theme of the Marvel Universe's broken time and, while it didn't solve the problem completely (I imagine they're saving that for the upcoming All-New X-Men/GotG crossover), it made me feel like the problems in one part of the Universe have implications throughout, which is part of the charm Stan Lee used to revolutionize the comicbook industry, way back in the beginning.

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Why Ultimate X-Men Number 8 is the Silliest Comic Ever

(see the original with pics at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2013/12/why-ultimate-x-men-number-8-is-silliest.html)

I recently finished reading all the Ultimate Spider-Man trade paperback collections at my local library (written marvelously by Brian Michael Bendis and redefining for the better what I think of Spider-Man as) and decided to move on to their next Ultimate collection: the Ultimate X-Men. For some reason, they were missing Volume 1, so I had to start with Volume 2: Return to Weapon X, written by Mark Millar. I hadn't read any of Mark Millar's work before, but, after reading this Ultimate X-Men, I liked it so much, I went and bought his Ultimate Avengers omnibus.

For the most part, the "Return to Weapon X" story arc was good: it was a refreshing take on a classic X-Men/Wolverine story, and it was neat to see how all the other Ultimate mutants and Ultimate Nick Fury and Ultimate S.H.I.E.L.D. got involved with the Ultimate Weapon X program. For some reason, however, issue 8, "First Strike" was written in such a crazy way, it made it seem way too over-the-top silly. Maybe it's because I just finished chuckling my way through Chris Sims's X-Men Episode Guide over at Comics Alliance, where he hilariously recaps all of those classic '90s X-Men cartoons. Chris Sims points out the ridiculousness of the episodes in a way that had me laughing to tears. With his commentary fresh in my mind, I read Ultimate X-Men #8, and I couldn't help but see Cyclops as the biggest dork ever, Jean Grey as completely useless, Professor X as the biggest jerk in the world, and a Wolverine whose catchphrase is, "CHECK PLEASE!".

In the spirit of the Comics Alliance X-Men Episode Guide, I now present to you Ultimate X-Men #8 in all its glory. I couldn't have made this stuff up if I tried:

The issue begins with a look at Cyclops and Wolverine through a peephole. Wolverine is pretending to be a Jehovah's Witness. This page sets the tone for the whole book, and right away we know we're in for a special, silly, X-Men treat. This page is probably one of the funniest moments in all the Ultimate universe.

On the next page, we see what's going on on the other side of the peephole. There's a giant Russian dude, Boris, with a scantily clad lady in his bed. Boris is wearing nothing more than massive amounts of body hair, an epic Russian mustache, purple boxers, and an American flag bathrobe! Boris's lady thinks Cyclops's optic blast is an earthquake, but Boris scolds her for not watching the Discovery Channel and schools her on New York's tectonics.

After taking care of Boris, Cyke and Wolvie done a backwards ball cap and American flag bandanna, respectively, and drive back to the X-Mansion. Cyclops reveals the two worst things in the world he can think of: Saddam Hussein, and gum under the desks at his school. Wow, Cyclops, just... wow. Then, Wolverine reveals a close second to "CHECK PLEASE!" for the greatest thing he's ever said: "Charlie might have a black belt in tactical diplomacy, but I got a master's in scraping dirt off my shoes". Oh, and he says this while cutting the end off his cigar with a quarter of a claw. Like I said, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. This really happens.

Cut to Storm, where she gets her very own, "LOOK, up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane... it's....!" moment.

Storm crash lands in a lake, where we learn she's a big fan of Harley Fatboys and cuddling up and making out with the fat guy.

Back at the X-Mansion, Jean talks out loud to Professor X in her head about Iceman. Professor X says, "I'm still combing his cranium" when talking about what Iceman told to his girlfriend about the X-Mansion. Iceman comes through the door and gives Beast a huge high-five.

Then, Jean Grey uses her incredibly powerful telekinesis to flip a tower of cards upside-down, while Professor X gives Iceman an aneurysm bad enough to cause a wisp of cold air to shoot out of his left nostril. Here we see the archetypes from the X-Men Animated Series: Prof. X is a jerk, and Jean is completely useless.

Next, Colossus gets his amazing one-liner when he replies to Iceman's question about what they teach you in black ops, "the recklessness of bugging five hundred pound Russians when they're bench-pressing, perhaps". Classic!

And we learn that not only did Charles Xavier make Bobby Drake forget about the conversation he had with his girlfriend where he spilled all the Mansions secrets, but he completely wiped his mind of the fact that he ever had a girlfriend in the first place! What a jerk!

Then the crap hits the fan when the Weapon X task force invades the X-Mansion. We learn that Sabretooth has a necklace made of ears:

As if Beast's self-esteem wasn't low enough, Sabretooth informs him he just stole his girlfriend and calls him Fatty all in the same breath, while delivering a smooth back-elbow to knock him out.

Nightcrawler teleports in and uses his prehensile tail to swipe Cyclops's visor, causing Scott Summers to scream the worst expletive he could ever imaging uttering ever: "HOLY GEEZ!".... Cyclops is such a dork.... Nightcrawler then goes on to knock Cyclops out with a frying pan, but that scene was too ridiculous for me to even scan.

Bobby Drake to the rescue! He tries to be witty, he really does.... Maybe the good Professor erased more than just all those treasured memories of his teenage sweetheart?

And Bobby almost gets away with it, too, until Rogue, using Jean's telepathic power and abilities, takes his mind back to his appendectomy, minus the anesthesia! Dang, that girl is twisted! It's no wonder they cut her out of the next X-movie, she's just too hardcore!

And finally, the crème de la crème, the pièce de résistance, the single silliest frame in the whole comicbook: Professor X's head, after Jigglypuff attacked with a Sharpie and turned it into a magic 8-ball. This is genius, because he's bald, and he's psychic, so it works on both levels!

I have no idea why Mark Millar wrote this issue to be the Silliest Comic Ever. All the other issues are pretty serious business, what with the X-Men getting turned into deadly Weapon X killing machines (yep, in issue # 10, Jean Grey literally kills a scientist who's "married to an artist, has one son and three daughters, who went to Balliol College in Oxford, who collects dinky cars, and who has an overactive thyroid condition for which he takes four pills a day", by making his head explode). For some reason, though, this comic was just X-tra special and X-tra silly, making it an X-tra awesome Ultimate X-Men.

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Inhumanity

(see original at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2013/12/inhumanity.html)

Like every other person who gave Hawkeye half a chance, I recently became a huge fan of Matt Fraction's work. Also, I struggled recently through Jonathan Hickman's extremely far-reaching and confusing INFINITY event, and I remember there being something in there about some Inhumans or something (in between "Builders" and Thanos and an intergalactic war about something... I dunno... it was very confusing). Something about their home city blowing up and causing the Inhumans that had been living among the regular humans to activate, or something. It seems like a pretty cool idea, like a whole other thing to play on, kinda like the whole mutant thing, but different a little bit. So, I decided to give Inhumanity a read and maybe get into Marvel's next big event. I got Inhumanity #1 two days ago and started reading it. I got to page 9 and my brain exploded.

This page was part of Karnak's explanation to Hawkeye (being a Fraction book, of course it's "Hawkguy" he's explaining it to!) of the Inhumans history, because "...well, there was a briefing I [Hawkeye] may or may not have slept through a little bit."

Like most casual Marvel fans, I wasn't very familiar with the Inhumans, at all. I think I had seen them in the Fantastic Four and I remember Lockjaw the dog from the Ultimate Alliance game, but, other than that, I hadn't really read any stories with them in it.

After getting to page 9 and stopping, I decided to watch the Inhumans motion comic DVD from Marvel Knights Animation, which I had just coincidentally gotten in the mail the same day. While the movie itself was extremely boring and slow, the story was fantastic. They went through the whole history of the Inhumans, how they get transformed by the Terrigen Mist and a subsequent caste system arises, all of the interpersonal workings of Black Bolt and the royal family, the Inhuman's relationship with Namor and the Atlantians, and how the Inhumans' capital city Attilan left Earth. It was great to get that back-story on these characters I wasn't too familiar with and then go back to the modern re-telling of what is, apparently, a classic Marvel story.

So, going back to page 9 of Inhumanity #1, what had happened was, a long, long time ago, aliens came to Earth and started genetically modifying the neanderthals.... That is awesome! As you may remember from my Ultimate Mole Man post, I find these far-fetched, fringe, alternate histories of weird things about our planet very interesting. With Ultimate Mole Man's origin, Marvel combined Lemuria/Mu with the Hollow Earth Theory to make him the most interesting super-villain ever. And now, with the Inhumans, we have Ancient Aliens! Mad props to Marvel for going there! Even though, apparently, the Inhumans have always had this extremely interesting origin story, reading it in this new comic is my first exposure to it, and I'm loving it!

Anyone who watched Ridley Scott's Aliens prequel Prometheus knows what this Ancient Aliens "theory" is all about. Here's some good insight. Basically, because all of these megalithic structures (i.e., the Great Pyramids, etc) couldn't possibly have been built by stone-age people with nothing more than ropes and man-power, then, naturally, it is concluded that aliens must've intervened.

The Ancient Aliens people take their "theory" one step farther and conclude that, because homo neanderthalensis couldn't possibly have evolved into homo sapiens all by themselves, they must've had some help from alien geneticists. The opening scene of Prometheus shows an alien drinking some black goo and melting into a waterfall, terraforming the Earth and infusing alien DNA with all the neanderthals, jump-starting their evolution. This is a little more metaphorical than saying Ancient Aliens directly intervened, but the basic premise of genetic manipulation is there.

I like what Marvel did there, by taking the old Ancient Aliens Genetic Intervention Theory and applying it to their Universe. They made the Ancient Aliens not just some unnamed race, but called them the "Kree Xenogeneticists". Why would the Kree stop at turning neanderthals into mere humans? Why not make them super-human? So that's what they did, and the super-human (in)humans left their more slowly evolving brethren and took to their own city. Brilliant!

My only problem is with the timing. On the first page of Karnak's explanation, he starts off with "nearly 25,000 years ago". Now, on this final page, he tells Madusa, "...my queen, if you consider the hundreds of thousands of years between than and now...". Uhhhh, what? So which is it, Karnak, 25,000 years ago, or hundreds of thousands of years ago? But I am willing to look past that typo (I'll assume he meant to say 250,000 years ago) because of the bodaciousness of this new (new to me, anyway) story. I can't wait to read more of this newest Marvel event!

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THE PRIVATE EYE

(see the original at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-private-eye.html)

At the end of Saga #15, after the letters, I saw this an add for The Private Eye.

For no other reason than because I have been thoroughly enjoying Brian K. Vaughan's work on Saga, I decided to pull the page up and give it the cursory once-over, at least.

It was the best decision I've made all day!

First of all, the idea is mind-blowingly, amazingly, outstandingly, freaking uber-cool. An extremely minimalistic, simplistic site, meant for one thing and one thing only: downloading the comic. Each of the comics are available in PDF, CBR, or CBZ format. And the absolute best part about it? You can pay however much you freaking want! Even 0. This is such a modern, artistic, creator-to-fan way of doing things. I can't say enough goodness about this payment model. It's more than asking for donations. It's more than supporting a Kickstarter fund. It's something altogether different, and altogether awesome.

I love the story. It's got all of that weirdness and depth from Saga, but it is set in the near future U.S., after the digital cloud has "burst". So everyone takes privacy super seriously and wears masks and has multiple identities, and they use pneumatic tubes at the library, and they talk to the "TeeVee" to change channels, and they have car phones and pay phones and cassette tapes, and the grandpa has tattoo sleeves and says "dude" and watches MTV and wishes his iPhone still works, and, and, and... you've got to read this book, it's so cool.I also love the irony in that it is a story about the privacy failures of the Internet, yet it is available solely on-line as a digital download.

I love the layout, in that every page is a full, 2-page splash. I don't have to squint to read the words, and the way the creators play with the possibilities this opens up is refreshingly brilliant.

Most of all, I love the little Easter-Egg-like off-handed mentions/background items that Brian K. Vaughn does so well. They are incorporated into the story to make it seem like they're no big deal, because, of course, to the characters in the story, they aren't. But I smile every time I see one of these neat little seemingly innocuous things.

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A Review of Thor: The Dark World

(see the original at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2013/11/thor.html)

THOR

I think I had the perfect viewing experience. Wednesday I watched the first Thor movie; then Thursday afternoon I watched the Avengers, before going to see The Dark World Thursday night. I've also been playing the "Avengers Assemble" Facebook game, which prepared me brilliantly for the movie. It's one of the great joys of the transmedia empire that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the Facebook game, the newest Spec Ops mission has Kurse, Dark Elves, and several other elements from the movie. I'm not too familiar with this part of Thor's canon, but being even slightly introduced to these parts of the story via this game made the movie that much more enjoyable.

It's hard to put into words just how much I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World. It was everything a Thor movie should be, and then some. In the first movie, I found myself wishing for more time exploring the Nine Worlds. I also found it hard to care about Asgard and wishing for more time on Earth. This time, not only did I get to see Thor and his Asgardians wrapping up their campaign to establish peace throughout the Nine Worlds, but I also got to see a brilliant before-the-dawn-of-time story. The story made me care about Asgard even more than Midgard (Earth), to the point where, not only did the setting not matter, but I found the scale tilted the other way, where I wanted more Asgard than Earth. Although, Jane Foster and her Phoenix-esque possession by the Aether provided the link for me (as for Thor) back to Earth, and I found myself loving the story that much more.

It was the most fun I've had at the movies since the Avengers. Everything about it was done masterfully, and I can't wait to watch it again! Not only did they do everything I wished they had done in the first Thor movie, and do it better than I ever imagined they would, they also took some of my favorite elements from other movies and perfected them.

Ever since seeing the kids mess with the malfunctioning matrix in Beyond, a short film, part of the Animatrix from 10 years ago, I've been subconsciously wanting to see this squishy gravity concept played out better on the big screen. I got this wish fulfilled in The Dark World. Watching the kids, Jane, Darcy, and Ian throw stuff into the weird anti-gravitational field in the abandoned warehouse was super neat-o. Then, when Thor and Malekith were fighting and warping and teleporting between worlds, with "Mew-Mew" (Mjolnir) frantically trying to find its way across the galaxies and back to its master's hand, I was blown away. This fight couldn't have been better! Ian slamming the car down on the Elves was just icing.

With the Man of Steel a few months ago, a bit of my yearning for the epic super-powered battle that Dragon Ball Z perfected was satiated. But Thor versus Malekith took epic fights to a whole nother level! The timing of The Dark World's release couldn't have been better, with Man of Steel coming to Blu-Ray this Tuesday. There is no competition! Seeing Thor flying through the air like that with his electrified hammer, as he came crashing down into Malekith to teleport him away, I actually believed he was the god of thunder. I dare say I've never seen a better epic battle.

I also loved how they continued to play with Arthur C. Clarke's notion that "magic is just science that we don't understand yet". Jane's back and forth with the healers about the "quantum field generator" versus "soul forge" was just one little example of this. The forcefields both in the prisons and over the capitol were another. It was especially amusing watching Thor and Loki try to figure out how to make Malekith's ship work. There were many other wonderful parts of maybe science-fiction / maybe magic that made the movie just that much better.

During the part when Thor and Loki are escaping from Asgard, I couldn't help but think back to some of the now-lame space battles from Star Wars and how much better this was than that! Even some of the sound effects were the same. I know it's difficult to say anything is better than Star Wars, but, I have to admit, Malekith's fleet was cooler than any of the ships from the former.

So many other good parts to this movie. Too much for my feable mind to have remembered after only one viewing. Thor: The Dark World was such a fun, fantastical, beautiful, amazing movie. I can't wait to watch it again!

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Dr. Manhattan on Mars

(see original at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2013/09/dr-manhattan-on-mars.html)

Having only recently decided to get into comicbooks seriously, I am slowly working on catching up on all the great stories in comicbook history. Currently, I am reading what has been acknowledged as one of the greatest works in all of comics: Alan Moore's Watchmen.

I won't pretend to be able to critique the whole story; many scholars and reviewers have done that before, and it is way outside of my purview. The thing is so complex, I could spend hours a day for months on end studying it, and still only barely grasp the intricacies that Alan Moore put into it way back in 1986. I would like to, however, point out one scene in particular that blew my mind, knocked my socks off, and quite possibly may change the entire way I see the universe and humanities interactions with it for the rest of my left. This masterful part of the story is Chapter IV, and consists of Dr. Manhattan's flashbacks and inner dialogue during his self-exile on Mars.

I think it's pretty well known that the movie version of Watchmen failed miserably at adapting this epic graphic novel into film. In fact, this one failed adaptation has been cited as proof of the film industry going too far, how some stories are able to perfectly take advantage of the comic medium and should not be adapted into any other. The scene with Dr. Manhattan on Mars is a perfect microcosm of that. I watched the movie before reading the book, and this was one of the worst scenes in the whole film, in my opinion. Dr. Manhattan's uncomfortable big blue dong turned me off to the whole thing--it is the reason why I haven't been able to watch the movie more than once.

But Chapter IV of Watchmen is now one of my favorites of all times. Reading it the first time, I got the feeling that there was something huge here, and I knew I would have to go back and read it over and over again.

The way Dr. Mahattan describes time as happening to him all at once is, of course, a similar characteristic that has been applied to God and god-like figures before. A common analogy for the passage of time to God is that he sees time as someone watching a parade from the top of a tall building, while we are watching the parade from the street. Where we can only see the parade pass us by a few floats at a time, it continues down the street regardless. Alan Moore does an outstanding job applying this time-as-a-fourth-dimension motif to Dr. Manhattan. It is interesting, then, that at the end of Chapter IV, the fictitious Professor Milton Glass presents an essay "Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers". In it, the professor explains one of the more quotable lines from the series: "I never said 'The superman exists and he's American'. What I said was 'God exists and he's American'".

And then I found an interview from this past June that Alan Moore did with Believer magazine. In it, he describes what will now be my favorite part of any comicbook in a way that made the scene even more lovable:

... the assumption, which seems to be implicit in the work of most modern physicists since Einstein, that we inhabit a universe that has at least four spatial dimensions. There are the three dimensions that we are conventionally aware of, and there is the fourth dimension, which is also a spatial dimension, but we don’t perceive it as that. We perceive the distances of the fourth dimension as the passage of time. If I understand it correctly, I believe our entire continuum is at least a four-dimensional solid in which time is not passing, where every moment that ever existed or will exist is suspended, forever unchanging, from within this immense solid of space-time. And therefore the passage of time is an illusion that is only apparent to us as we move through this huge solid along what we perceive as the time axis.

... The sense of timelessness or the fact that time may have a very different nature than that which we perceive has been there since my earliest 2000 AD short stories. It was there in Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, it was there with William Gull in From Hell, and it’s there at the moment at the forefront of Jerusalem.

(Read the whole interview at http://www.believermag.com/issues/201306/?read=interview_moore)

A month after the Believer interview, the website A.V. Club dissected Dr. Manhattan's introspective version of time as a part of their "Back Issues" feature. One of the reviewers, Oliver Sava, wrote something here that added a whole other layar to this outstanding scene:

... taking a meta detour, how do you feel about the idea that Dr. Manhattan is a stand-in for the readers, who hold the entirety of the Watchmen universe in their hands but are unable to change any of the fixed narrative’s events?

(Read the review here: http://www.avclub.com/articles/watchmen-dissects-dr-manhattan-on-mars-and-shows-r,100512/)

Woah. The A.V. Club's dissection goes on to talk about how the strict nine-panel per page in both Watchmen and V for Vendetta allows the reader's subconscious to process that they are indeed reading a comicbook. It halts the suspension of disbelief and helps you to intellectually understand the story, rather than getting emotionally sucked into it. This added dimension of realism to an unreal medium is something entirely new for me, and I can almost feel my brain expanding just by thinking about it.

These are my initial reactions to this one awesome part of what has been called the greatest graphic novel ever. Consider my mind blown officially blown. I love the quote by Einstein at the end:

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Why Saga is So Great

see original at http://cobyscomics.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-saga-is-so-great.html

I just finished reading Saga Volume 1, which collects the first six issues of this amazing new-ish series by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. I had heard from several different places that it was the book to pick up if you were looking for something new, different, and not necessarily superhero-related, so I decided to give it a shot. So glad I did! Usually, I'm hesitant to try anything new, especially anything outside of the known superhero universes of DC and Marvel. I'm hesitant for two reasons: because I've wasted so much time reading bad comics (I've literally fallen asleep with a comic in my hands, on more than one occasion), and because I'm still playing catch-up with all the good comics (I just read Watchmen, and I still haven't gotten around to some others like The Dark Knight Returns). So, usually, I wouldn't give a new book a second thought. And then, finally, I decided to check out Saga. They had me from the first page:

Wow. In that one page, this amazing writer/artist creative team captures all of the reasons why Saga is so great! The art is fantastic. The realism pulls no punches. The fantasy is over the top, yet believable. The narration is creative and worthy. And the story keeps me turning the pages.

The art

Better critics than I have pointed out the brilliance of Fiona Staples's work. I love the way the lines are sloppy, yet neat. The coloring is fantasmic, also. I was interested to learn that she does most of her work herself, and on the computer. It's amazing to see someone taking such advantage of this technology:

The realism

Like I said, they had me from the first page. I was shocked and tickled pink to see that extremely realistic child birth. It's obviously based on experience! But don't take my word for it, read what this doula/midwife/feminist had to say in the book's letters page:

The fantasy

Yep, that's a robot with a TV set for a head and an arm that can shape-shift into a canon. Wow! Vaughn's imagination is out of this world! The characters, the environments, the situations, just... wow! This story takes everything I love about every creative work in the fantasy/superhero/sci-fi genre and blends it together better than I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing before. When comparisons are made, Saga is easily put into the same category as all of the greats (Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Romeo & Juliet, Lord of the Rings).

The narration

The narration is done by Hazel, the daughter of the two main characters Alana and Marko. Only, she's still a newborn baby in the first six issues. Normally, I don't like when stories have this backwards narration device. It takes some of the edginess away from it, because you know, no matter what, the narrator has to survive and be OK, or else, how would they be telling the story? But it is really cool how they play with the narration in Saga, having the baby telling the story of her parents and what they did during her first few months. I also love the style of the words, which were all written by the artist. The way she bends and folds the words around the beautiful scenery just takes my breath away.

The story

Alana and Marko are from two planets at war with each other. Alana has winds and her planet is technologically advanced. Marko has magic and horns. Alana was Marko's prison guard, but fell in love with him after sharing the best book ever with him. She then helps him escape, but is hunted down by Prince Robot IV.... This story has everything! Every single thing that I want to read about, every awesome thing in fiction or in the universe period that I want to put into my brain, can be found in this one book! Shape-shifting robots, magical tree-rockets, a half blown apart spirit babysitter, mercenaries whose first names are all "The"... just, everything! It has quickly become my favorite new story. Reading the story, it feels huge, like, way to big for me to understand, but just big enough for me to enjoy. There is no way I can do the story justice here. You've got to check it out for yourself!

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