Friday, June 30, 2006


Bush plays tour guide at Graceland? Koizumi the karaoke champ?

Hail to the King, baby.

read more here.

I like pirates!

On Saturday the good ship HMS Melbotis lifts anchor and heads for the glittering shores of Spring, Texas.

The League and Jamie will be spending Saturday through Wednesday at the Admiral and KareBear's country manor, tucked amidst the pines and live oaks of their sprawling estate. I believe Steanso and Cousin Sue will be joining us for what is sure to be a delightful few days. Just what a gentleman needs to rejuvenate himself.

Blogging may be light, Leaguers. If you are in Houston, feel free to pop by. We don't really have any plans to actually leave the house. Well, that's not true. On Tuesday we have a baseball game to attend (go Astros! Wait, who is pitching that day..?), and I am sure there will be a cook-out led by the courageous Admiral.

In lieu of fireworks, I plan to buy several bottles of Diet Coke and a few packs of Mentos. I've seen evidence that combining these two items causes an amazing display.

Monday and Wednesday night are now, unfortunately, no longer up for negotiation. Jamie has dialysis scheduled for both evenings.

I am looking forward to the endless and meandering storytelling which will occur as Mum and Dad relate the tales of their trip to Milan and Rome. I've heard they bought a picture book of Rome, so hopefully they can tell me a little bit about what's in there.

Mostly I plan to just float in the pool, hit Bedrock City Comics, eat some Tex-Mex and BarBQ, and convince Susan that Pierre could be the ultimate dog fighter. If, you know, Steanso wants to see Superman Returns during a late showing, I'm up for that.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with me via comments or e-mail. Or phone, you know, if you know how to find us.

Happy Days, Leaguers. Now get out there and celebrate your independence.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Let me just start by saying that I may never go to an opening weekend show ever again.

I bought my tickets several days ago online. When I ran my card through the machine, it coughed up a receipt that said "We're sorry! This theater has been cancelled!" Panic set in immediately. I walked back to the box office and showed them the stubs, and asked what I could do. The guy behind the glass with the dumb light bulb hair that all the teen-age boys are now sporting proceeded to treat me like an idiot as he got me tickets for a different showing (at the same time, natch) and I tried to pay for them.

"You've already paid, sir..." he groaned as I pushed my debit card through the little coin tray window. I don't honestly think I DID pay. I think the machine had refunded my money, but, you know, whatever...

The theater was pretty full already half an hour before the show. Lots of families. Lots of families with small children, as it should be, I guess. The lesson I learned is that Disney isn't screwing around by limiting their features to 80 minutes. The constant squirming, whining and general noisiness in the theater was constant for every moment that something on screen wasn't exploding or shattering, or, in general, assaulting the senses.

The family of five behind us started out the film by chatting away until I shushed the mom, but I was glad I did it then rather than let the frustration grow. The mind-boggler was the three-year old they'd brought who seemed interested in the movie as he kept his own ongoing narration, parroting lines and telling us what we were seeing. I gave him the "adult stink-eye" three or four times, and each time he'd quiet down for a few minutes. Luckily his older sisters kept shushing him. Dad just ignored junior. It was kind of fascinating.

The kid next to me spent half the movie playing with a handful of coins, until I finally asked him to stop.

Look, I HATE having to ask others to exercise common courtesy, but I also want to enjoy a movie without constant interruption. I'm amazed how few people feel the same way. In some ways, I absolutely knew this was going to happen if we went to a 7:00 show on opening day, but I also didn't want to wait two weeks to see the movie. There's got to be a happy medium in there somewhere.

Also, people, for the love of God... Why are you checking to see who called you on your cell? Yes, yes... you've put it on vibrate, but when you check to see who called and your dinky 1" x 1" screen lights up, we can all see the bright blue light in the otherwise very dark theater. And, teenagers, same goes for texting.

I'm fully in support of theaters using cell-phone blocking technology. The many, many stupid people have officially overcome the needs of the few who might actually need to take a call in the middle of a movie.

okay... the movie

The movie was very enjoyable. It had a few logic problems and should have been longer in the beginning and shorter at the end, but overall, yeah..! I liked it.

Brandon Routh, despite the seemingly endless desire to compare him to Christopher Reeve, handles the dual roles with a lot of charm and does own the role. I would have liked to have gotten to see a bit more in the way of Superman being Super about town, but the moments you do get are amazing. Just beautifully executed. Singer and Co. have done a remarkable job of thinking through scenarios and the use of technology, and Routh manages to more than fill the Man of Steel's red boots. That plane scene from the trailers? It's stunning.

The bottom line is this: I really enjoyed the movie. You always feel a little odd telling people you really believed something was that good, even when you saw the flaws. One man's Matisse is another man's messy canvas. I've heard varying reports on different actor's performances, and I am sure there will be some serious debate among comic geeks as to certain elements in the film... but as a separate entity from the comics, from the TV shows... Yeah. Yeah, I enjoyed every minute of it.

And, yes, if it's been twenty years since you watched Superman I and II, I highly recommend watching them again on DVD before hitting the theater. This movie is a sequel in every conceivable way.

I'm very much looking forward to the next installments. Singer did such a good job of building upon what he'd established in X-Men with X2, that the scope of Superman Returns sequel seems almost limitless.

In the meantime, just prepare to sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SUMMER OF SUPERMAN: All that's left is the waiting.

By the time you read this, some of you will have already seen Superman Returns. I haven't gotten to see the movie yet, but I've been waiting a long time. A few more hours won't hurt. It seems like yesterday I was looking at a countdown ticker telling me I had a year left before the movie was released.

At this point, I guess the honest question to ask ourselves is this: Can Superman Returns possibly live up to the hype and expectations?

I don't think so.

I don't really expect to be disappointed in the movie, but I'm also aware it's a movie. Possibly a film made by folks with the best of aspirations, but there are going to be flaws. There are going to be portions and performancess that don't quite hit the mark. There are going to be things that don't stick with Superman canon.


After all the opportunity for a movie which was not, in any way, representative of the 70 years of Superman comics, I'll take a flawed movie which at least respects the ideas and ideals behind the character.

Superman, unlike any other superhero and unlike many other fictional characters, is an icon. Trying to capture the wonder and grandeur of any superhero is tough, but some ideas are more easy to translate than others. Capturing an icon, putting them to film, is like lightning in a bottle. When it doesn't work, somehow the disappointment is all the greater. Everyone knows who Superman is supposed to be, and we're unforgiving when he somehow doesn't meet out expectations.

From the trailers I know the screen writers and director have taken the challenge head on. They're well aware that journalists have spent a lot of ink pondering Superman's irrelevance in a world that, they believe, has outgrown the need for Supermen. We need, these journalists insist, our heroes tarnished and barely functional. Who can believe in a Superman who deflects bullets?

I eagerly await Singer and Co.'s answer to that question, especially as the reviews, both good and bad, never raise the question.

I'm looking forward to my time with Jamie tonight, standing in line for popcorn and a Diet Coke. I'm looking forward to the titles and the music. I'm also looking forward to the quiet ride home where we don't say too much to each other.

I have no idea how to make the perfect Superman movie, and even if I did, someone else would find problems with whatever I wanted to do. So all I can do now is end the anticipation and hope for the best.

Up, up and away...!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


and it is frikkin' AWESOME

go here.

You poor Leaguers are probably sick to death of The League rooting on the release of Superman Returns. Well, all that will end before the end of the week when I've seen the movie and begin getting excited about Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh, yes. Pirates!

In the meantime, here are some quick bits.

1) Jim D. is scheduled for the 10:00 on Tuesday screening of Superman Returns in the BMT. Due to Jim's terrorist threat to inundate me with spoilers, Jamie has forbidden me any contact with Jim from 12:30AM Wednesday until Thursday morning.

2) For those of you who planned to re-watch Superman: The Movie prior to seeing Superman Returns and are just now realizing that ain't going to happen, Nathan points us to Angry Alien. They've got a featured flash movie retelling Superman in 30 seconds. With bunnies!

Hop over to that site here.

3) I know it's almost $400, but this is what I want for Christmas, Steanso...

4) Here's some marketing madness. WB's marketing arm is projecting the Superman logo onto landmarks around the country. After the jump, there are some photos of the logo on Niagra Falls. Made famous, of course, in Superman II. Because nobody had ever thought to visit before that.

5) If you've got kids, take 'em to see the King. Burger King has Super Toys in their kid's meals. Including a Super Pedometer. Which is great, because if your kid is eating at Burger King often enough to collect all the toys, they're probably going to need that pedometer. And bypass surgery.

The movie, last I checked, is PG-13. If your kid is five, s/he is under half the recommended age for seeing this flick. I know parents pretty much ignore ratings, but it's a bit of interest, I suppose.

Of course, what do I know? Eventually both Rambo and Robocop got their own cartoon series and toy lines.

More Super News as events warrant.

Monday, June 26, 2006


On the eve of the release of Superman Returns, I've decided to try out a little Super Snack. Better living through League of Melbotis.

It's Cap'n Crunch! Now, with real Superman Shield Shapes! Jeff approves.

You can see for yourself the shiny, pretty Cap'n Crunch Box. You can almost begin to imagine my anticipation. Note: It promises to turn my milk blue.

Superman wouldn't steer you wrong! See, free entertainment. Jeff and I have a game scheduled for Thursday evening.

Superman, ahoy! Lookie there. Those are some Super Shields mixed in with the usual Crunch barrels. I confess, I love me some Cap'n Crunch. I'm kind of excited.

For scale, here is an example of a Crunch Shield. Note the color. It is red. Sort of.

Wha..? As advertised, the cereal turns the milk blue. Some of the shields get a little blue or purple, but... but... there's some serious mad science going on here. I'm a litle scared.

Skeptical. Simply skeptical of blue milk.

It smells like The Cap'n. Sweet. Crunchy. Delicious.

I am reluctant to take my first bite.

Sweet. Crunchy...

Not dissimilar to my usual bowl of The Cap'n.

Not dissimilar at ALL. I believe I WILL have another bite.

Yowzah! Now that is some cereal. SWEEEEEEEET!!!!

You'll have to pardon this photo. I'm on a sort of diet. Not much sugar lately.

ARGHHH!!! Crunch scrape. Must slow Crunch eating to a crawl.

Yes, this is a truly Super addition to my Super diet. The League fully endorses this product.

Next up, some Super 4-Cheese pasta.

I was sitting in my cushy swivel chair at work on Friday, just sort of zoning out prior to a video conference I was to man, sort of just flipping my issues around, sort of like when I'm making Jamie's coaster-sized pancakes on a Sunday morning on the griddle. You look at each pancake individually, but there's a common theme there as they cook at about the same rate, some better than others, some needing a little nurturing, some needing the spatula lest they bleed into one another and create an unweildy pancake infinitely more difficult to deal with now that they've merged.

You flip them over, these ideas, to see how the other side is doing, and then at some semi-arbitrary moment you declare those pancakes done. You could wait a little longer, you could have pulled them off a little sooner. It doesn't really matter too much, I guess. Especially when you plan to then smother those ideas in Log Cabin.

I have come to a conclusion. A Super conclusion. A conclusion so colossal and stupefying that I am afraid to say it out loud.

It will take heavy lifting, this idea. It's a matter, now, of lining up the principles and designing a plan for execution. However, that's what they pay me for at my current job. Find the impossible task, figure out what has to happen, what's the timeline, gird your loins and lift. Hold the weight until you're used to it.

No limits.

I am convinced there's nothing we can't do, we two, we just need to put our backs into it and take ourselves a chance. Trying to stay within certain boundaries has not worked up until this point, so it's time, now, to start looking at doing it the hard way. What is it they say about anything worth having?

So I want to do this thing. No one else is going to do it for me.

But one thing I've learned is that The League is not just our little squad sitting out here amongst the tumbling tumbleweeds. We've got connections, and we've got reserves. We've got caped and masked allies everywhere, and this could be the big cross-over event of the summer.

The story will have romance and intrigue, adventure and pathos, I am sure. And unlike so much else, in these monthly comics, I have no idea how it's going to end. This is the sort of "fly through the kryptonite field and on through the red sun" sort of risk-taking that I'm not usually too good at. If only Mogo is there to catch me when I fall.

When we are lucky, we have only the limits we set upon ourselves.

I feel ready to break the chains and leap into the sky.

No limits!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Comics in Review - Week June 21ish

I was going comic reviews over at, but as mentioned last week, I'm moving some of that back here.

Mostly I read and review DC books, but I'm trying to branch out a bit.

Here we go.

Civil War #1 and Civil War: Frontline #1 - Marvel Comics:

Decent story. Overkill on the books I'm expected to pick up. Event fatigue creeping in around the edges.

I think I honestly enjoyed Civil War #1 more than Frontline #1. Frontline seemed to be forcing the square pegs of Marvel's make-believe issues into the round slots of real-world political issues in a way which sort of strained logic. The worst offender was the nebulous story at the end of Frontline #1 which I'm still not sure wasn't suggesting that Japanese-Americans were doing their patriotic duty by being herded into internment camps during World War II. I don't honestly think that's what the writer intended to say, but there were a few lines about patriotic duty, blah blah blah and then the folks entering the camps.

The League doesn't want to get political, but we're also not really sure this was a well executed story.

Also, Spider-Man's "Iron Spider" outfit is lame.

Uncle Scrooge #355 - Gemstone Publishing:

This is so dorky, but I've started picking up Uncle Scrooge comics. They're just genuinely fun and goofy comics. These comics by Gemstone include work by Carl Barks as well as new work, pretty much continuing the Uncle Scrooge comics that have been in print for fifty years.

There's certainly a pastiche for the past, but also a certain "all-ages" quality to the comics that Disney used to hold up as their gold-standard of story-telling.

Due to the amount of content in each issue of Uncle Scrooge, the price is that of two comics, but I'm okay with that.

I'd highly recommend these comics as a springboard for kids. There's plenty going on in each comic, and the characters are very likeable.

All-Star Superman #4 - DC Comics
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

After having just read my way through 500+ pages of Jimmy Olsen stories in Showcase Presents: Superman Family Vol. 1, this issue was a welcome treat. As he's done in the three previous issues of All-Star Superman, Morrison has taken the Silver-Age concept and brought it into the mid 21st Century. Quitely's art is just as astonishing in this issue as the previous three, but his "re-design" of Jimmy suggests a hipster idiot-savant.

For those of you who may not know, Jimmy Olsen carried his own title for decades at DC Comics, routinely falling into as much or more trouble than Lois Lane, and counting on Superman to pull his fat out of the fire. No matter the circumstances, Jimmy would get the story and learn a little lesson about, say, not walking into a hail of bullets just because you've previously signaled Superman with your secret signal watch.

In this issue, Superman discovers the super-dense black Kryptonite, which seems to make him act the opposite of his nature, in this case, evil, and Jimmy is unable to call in Superman to combat the threat as the very threat is Superman himself.

Anyway, highly recommended.

Shadowpact #2 - DC Comics:
Art and Story by Bill Willingham

I have no idea why, but this comic keeps getting good reviews.

During Infinite Crisis, Willingham stated that he planned to re-imagine magic in the DCU, an act which raised The League's eyebrows as magic in the DCU had always been pretty cool. I like Dr. Fate. I like The Spectre and Phantom Stranger. I love Zatanna.

Willingham has pretty much turned magic into a superheroic power battery, like radiation, etc... etc... without really adding anything. In short, Shadowpact is nothing more than a C-List team of superheroes fighting C-list "magical" villains. I could forgive all of that, but the writing just doesn't feel terribly imaginative and none of the characters have been explained or developed from a "power" standpoint, or from who the heck they are.

The villains are unimaginative "magic" characters whose names I can't be bothered to remember who, like in Ghostbusters 1 & 2, seem to be trying to summon an evil power from beyond. Whatever.

I think I realized I gave this comic a shot because I liked the idea of Detective Chimp. There's absolutely nothing else of interest going on in this comic. At that, Willingham put Detective Chimp in combat tights for some reason.

This is a bad comic. I give it 8-12 issues. Issue #2 is my final issue.

Give me Dr. Fate.

Superman/ Batman #27:
Mark Verheiden and Kevin MacGuire

A filler issue if there ever was one. Readers have been patient. DC should have just waited until July for the next storyline. This story was deeply embedded in Earth-2 DC history and ultimately adds nothing.

I'm a pretty big fan of Power Girl and will pick up pretty much anything with her on the cover, but this isn't a good way to treat a flagship title, even if the creators are A or B+.

DC, you've got a lot of people watching you in a post-IC market. This is exactly how to drop the ball.

The Flash: Fastest Man Alive #1
Written by Paul DeMeo and Danny Bilson; Art and cover by Ken Lashley

Ultimately, this wasn't a great comic. There's a lot of promise here, but from a structural standpoint, the comic was a mess. If DC was planning to pull in all new readers with their all-new Flash, this was not the way to do it.

The art is good, but not great.

I'll stick with the comic, partly because these things have a tendency to settle themselves, and partly because I think we'll see 6 issues with the current creative team and then an established comic writer will take over.

For whatever reason, DC decided to hand writing chores over to some of the guys responsible for the 1990's era Flash TV show. In my mind, you've just finished one Flash series with some of the top guns of the comic industry writing (Mark Waid, Geoff Johns), and you put on two writers unknown to the industry? That's a misstep.

And I have to vent a little bit here: What is up with every roommate to every super hero being a clueless party-dude? Yes, it does set up a stark contrast between our troubled hero and the care-free youth he'd like to be, but there's got to be another stock character.

Also, I'm not buying the "concerned intern" bit of the pretty, bespectacled girl who is interested in the fate of Bart Allen. To complicate matters, Bart is, if you do the math, somewhere around 10 years-old. There's just something icky about forcing the romance thing where it doesn't belong.

I've enjoyed The Flash on and off since middle-school. I have fond memories of sitting in my bunk at camp and re-reading an issue of The Flash (and sharing it with my bunkmates) over and over until it more resembled confetti than a comic. It was so destroyed, in fact, that it never made it home. I just didn't think a comic with a footprint on the cover was going to look good in my collection.

I was hoping for a re-launch worthy of The Flash franchise, and this one doesn't quite hit the mark. Still, it's The Flash, so I'm hopeful he can outrun some sub-par writing and land squarely on his feet, no matter who is behind the mask.

Eternals #1 - Marvel Comics:
by Neil Gaiman and JRjr
based on some old Marvel Kirby stuff

If anyone at Marvel will understand that Kirby's Eternals are not just another bunch of superheroes, it will be Neil Gaiman. That said, I've never read any of Kirby's Eternals work, and until it's released in a TPB I can afford, I probably won't. So, in a way, I'm walking into this comic completely unsure of what to expect, and for a comic from Marvel or DC, that's a rare and good thing.

The odd thing, the thing I can't shake the feeling of with this comic, is that I've seen this idea somewhere before. Highlander? Highlander 2? Bendis' "Powers"? Gaiman's own work in Books of Magic? Cosmic sleeper agents? There's got to be a precedent somewhere. Maybe in scientology.

There's something utterly recognizable about what I read in Eternals #1 that I just can't shake. Maybe I read a Marvel handbook entry on the Eternals when I was a kid and it's just been sort of buried there in the back of my head. I have no idea.

Still, the comic is good. It's worth a read. The bits and parts about ancient times pop out of the book like fireworks, JRjr handling the switch between mundane NYC and cosmic doings without breaking a sweat.

I'm in for a while. I'm curious about the whole thing.

52 #7 - DC Comics

Man, are other reviewers looking for reasons not to like this book. They've picked on the art even when it was as good or better than the average issue of pretty much any second-tier "Nightwing"-type comic. They've picked on bits of weak dialogue as if comics are known for their believeable parlance.

52 is a mystery, wrapped in an engima and smothered in secret sauce (thank you, News Radio). More has happened in this comic in 7 weeks than happens in the average Bendis book in three years. Of course, this is just the set-up. We've got 45 more weeks to go.

I was surprised that so few reviewers picked up on the "Island of the Lotus Eaters" bit in this issue, and I saw one reviewer actually misidentify the allusion as an Aesop Fable about lazy animals.

It's impossible to tackle all the threads in this comic in what I am planning to be a brief review, but so far I'm interested in all of them to one extent or another. I'm definitely more interested in the Question/ Montoya storyline than other readers. Really enjoying the Booster Gold stuff.

And, of course, the Kathy Kane entrance had that detective novel entrance you like to see.

I'm still recommending this comic, you bunch of unappreciative thugs.