Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Twilight Saga - Yes, I Went There and was Still Late for the Party

Let me put up a few facts.

1. I have never read the Twilight Saga.
2. I have read Gothic Romance novels many times before.
3. I have read many vampire novels that involved romance.
4. I'm not a big fan of the romance genre in general, but I have read a few.
5. I am surrounded by Twilight fanatics that love the series so much that they can't understand why I don't want to read it.
6. I educated myself through the enlightening grace of St. Wikipedia on the basic plot of the Twilight Saga so I could at least say I know what it is about.
7. I have no desire to ever read the Twilight Saga short of being paid cash for it.

In my little corner of the Internet, there is a lot of conflicting opinions about the series. I dare not go to forums, but just reading a couple of humorous LiveJournal Twilight re-writes, I could tell that those that would follow Meyers, the author of Twilight for those playing the home game, to the ends of the earth are a fandom horde to be reckoned with if only by sheer size and tenacity. There is little room to argue with them and they don't seem to take any criticism of the series very well. I call them Twilight Zombies if only for the mental imagery.

A Twilight Zombie won't ever admit or agree to a thought that there is anything wrong with the saga. A Twilight FAN is able to reason out why someone wouldn't be inclined to like it or even read it. You can have conversations, arguments and even debates with fans, no matter how zealous. Zombies are out to eat your brains.

A lot of the people that I like and respect online, certain bloggers, web comic-ers, and the rest, not only think that Twilight isn't worth reading, but that it can be downright detrimental to young girls by picturing Edward, the main male protagonist, as their ideal boyfriend/husband. I have even heard of essays being written on how the relationship between Bella and Edward is a perfect example of an abusive relationship. However, the fact that close friends repeatedly tell me it's not what I think it is and that it is a fantastic series to be read multiple times makes me wonder if I am judging Twilight a little too harshly with insufficient evidence. After all, I wouldn't want my favorite series to be bashed without being read.

But then again, I don't know their tastes in literature very well and most of the Twilight fan friends I have haven't ever read anything involving vampires before or have never read romance in their life (ie: boys). So, I read the Wikipedia entries, the regular one and not the specialized Twilight Wiki (since it kind of scared me and I don't know why), in order to educate myself.

It sounded AWFULLY familiar.

A few years ago, I read "The Crimson Trilogy" - Crimson Kiss, Crimson Night, and Crimson Shadows - by Trisha Baker because the light of my life wanted me to read it since she like it so much. I read it and it was not bad. I wasn't into erotic fiction then so the sex kind of turned me off the first time through. The second time I read it I thought it was kind hot. The plot wasn't bad and all the characters were well-developed. The traditional vampire mythos was tweaked ever so slightly and for the better of the story. Everything made sense AND it was interesting since it wasn't a straight up "true love" story but rather a struggle between a possessive, all consuming love and trying to be true to one's self while free from a love that helped defined who one was. It was dark. It was sexy. I really enjoyed it.

The overall romantic plot line is TERRIBLY similar to Twilight and the Crimson Trilogy was published back in 2001. (Who would have ever thought that would sound so long ago?) From what I can tell, Twilight is a kid-friendly, watered down dopple-ganger of the Crimson Trilogy with extra sprinklings of true love so that any sort of negative aspect of Bella's and Edward's relationship is excused. Oh, and Twilight has werewolves. The Crimson Trilogy doesn't.

Granted, any romance involving vampires is going to have similar plot points because we can't help ourselves. It's vampires. They're hot and fight scenes are sexy. Fight scenes with vampires are hot and sexy.

I know tons of people have ranted about this already and claim that "Breaking Dawn" ruined the Twilight Saga for them, but really, the freaking plot summary confused me.

Magical tampon-related pregnancy realization scene? Okay, I'm confused, but maybe I just need to read it in context.

Coming to term in a MONTH? Um, excuse me? How is that... WHY would you do that? Seriously! Nine months isn't good enough for writers anymore? What's the purpose of having her give birth in a month? Is there some time-sensitive plot device that I'm missing that requires the baby to come in a month after the honeymoon?

The birth breaks Bella's bones? Do you know how hard it is to break someone's bones? Internal bleeding not dramatic enough?

Then of course, the daughter-and-mom's-ex part. Is Wikipedia leading me astray by making me think that at the birth Jacob, the werewolf ex, "found his soul mate" in her? Either way, it's extremely creepy, nonsensical and awkward until the daughter hits puberty and even then it's still a bit creepy.

This plot point bothers me the most in "Breaking Dawn." The plot twist of the daughter and the mom's ex-boyfriend getting together, is kind of a rarity and both Twilight and the Crimson Trilogy share that plot twist in their final books. It makes me wonder things that Twilight Zombies would eat my brains over. Am I calling plagiarism? NO. I just don't think Twilight is as original as people would like to think it is. I was okay with it in "Crimson Shadows" but as a writer and a reader, I take issue with the idea.

I don't care for it mostly because it's kind of creepy for a lot of reasons that are difficult to put into words. When I try to figure it out, I find myself thinking how much it's like trying to argue on why incest is just plain icky without using The Bible. I personally would have a hard time getting over the idea of "Huh. The person I'm having sex with could have been my dad," in the dating-mom's-ex scenario.

But Frugal Fan! You were okay with that kind of pairing in "Crimson Shadows"!

Yes, I was okay with it to a degree because it made sense. The daughter was more than old enough to be in an romantically intimate relationship. She had dated before starting to see her mom's ex. She had sex before sleeping with her mom's ex. She knew what she wanted and had the ability to recognize what was and was not a healthy relationship. The daughter struggled with the idea, but realized that it was right for her. She also knew it would be awkward to tell her parents, but she was willing to deal with the consequences by sticking around and telling her parents in person. Mom's ex had enough time to finally get over Mom and didn't insist on seeing the daughter romantically ever. If anything, he helped raised her and struggled with the idea of having that become a romantic relationship because it was his oldest friend's daughter. They found out they were perfect for each other and decided to try to work things out because it's awkward. Mom was initially not okay with this relationship. In fact, both parents were down right murderous about it, but the couple managed to convince them to at least tolerate it.

SEE? It's almost a conflict within itself and a resolution because we can't have characters we like go on in life without true love. Sarcasm aside, as a reader, it's nice to know that this person you've come to know and like gets some love after being tossed aside, but there has to be better ways of doing it. Sadly though, that is in a perfect world. You'll be hard pressed to find a way to make both sides of the pairing emotionally significant to the reader without introducing some random character for no other reason outside of romance and who likes that?

It seems to me one of Meyers' big points is that she's so original with her vampires and the story. It's not. There is no "unlikely couple" here. The pairing of "predator and prey" has been DONE. It's an entire genre. It's called Gothic Romance. There are two basic criterion: It has vampires or other supernatural spookiness ergo it is Gothic. A character or characters want to have sex with each other so it's Romance. Gothic. Romance. Gothic Romance. Got it? Good.


I am really tired of hearing that statement. Just because you say it over and over doesn't make it true. If it's not about vampires, why couldn't Meyers write a straight up romance and be done with it? There has to be some sort of significant to the vampires or else she wouldn't have put it in there. If it's for flash and bang, smoke and mirrors, freaking sprinkles and whipped cream, then she's using that plot device wrong. Yes, vampires are plot devices. I can't see how you can argue that they're NOT. They're a plot generator since they can live forever and have built in conflicts like being hunted by humans, hunted by other supernatural things etc.

What really bothers me about the overall Saga is that Bella is basically the most Mary Sue character I have ever heard of being published outside of the original Lt. Mary Sue from "A Trekkie's Tale" by Paula Smith. Whenever I put anything on the Internet, much less something actually put to print to be sold for real money, I have to angst and worry and fret on whether or not my characters are developed enough or if a plot device is contrived or a million other worries. Why do I do this? Because, I know that the kind of reader I want will tell me that I'm doing something wrong and will expect me to correct it. Maybe I am a bit overzealous over this, but I really want readers that have a low-tolerance for bad writing and Twilight just waltzes in with Bella, the most "Mary Sue" Mary Sue character in a long time, and the demographics just eat her up! I think I have a right to be a little frustrated, much like I was with "The DaVinci Code" which now I may write about since criticisms on the writing of Best Sellers apparently needs to be said.

I guess my point is I don't think Meyers did that good of a job and that's just judging from the plot by itself much less the actual writing. I don't know enough to say it's a danger like some people claim, but it just doesn't seem like a book that deserves all the attention it gets.

Is there a place of brain candy and fluff writing? Of course! I don't expect every novel that's ever published to be thought-provoking, awe-inspiring and many other hyphenated adjectives, but I want it to be at least well written.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heroes - Well, Crap...

So I was minding my own business and logging onto AIM and, of course, the AIM dashboard decides to pop up in my Firefox window. I glance at it before I move my cursor to close the tab and notice there's a Heroes news line.

How could I resist?

About a third into the interview, I fell in love with Brea aka Daphne aka Speedster (they really couldn't think of a better alias? For shame, Heroes writers, for shame.) aka Hiro's rival/Catwoman. It was one of those moments of, "Wow! This person involved in something I love sincerely cares about the project for the same reasons I do!" And yes, the phrase, "ONE OF US," did come to mind. I mean, she cited the Flash! The interviewer didn't even have to bring it up!

SHE WENT TO COMIC CON FOR THE COMICS. Just like the rest of us. (I wonder what panels she goes to...)

So why does the title say "Well, Crap..."? Remember my fears from the premier episodes? Yeah, Love Interest #3, coming right up. It's just... BOTHERSOME. Sure, it's great that Hiro gets a love interest, but does he need his heartbroken by the end of every season? A heartbreak that he doesn't even seem to remember? Granted, Angsty-Hiro can be horrible for the series and can easily go so very badly, but the plot holes bother me more.

He's a caring, loving person. It doesn't make sense that he just forgets these women he falls in love with. If there's a flaw in my logic, Internet Land, please tell me. I really don't want to watch in dread.

Signed, for better or for worse,
Frugal Fan

Monday, September 22, 2008

The SPOILERIFIC Heroes Season 3 Premiere Reaction

If you haven't seen Heroes, you're missing out. To sum up the premise, it's a soft-core X-Men brought to a familiar modern world where it's only a few dozen rather than hundreds that are "Special." Season One - Genesis is where our intrepid cast is introduced one by one and discover their powers. Naturally, no one knows how the hell to use them or how they came to get them in the first place, which gives the show a nice human touch. Mohinder Suresh, genetist and the only main character without a power, is on a quest to gain his father's post-humos's respect and to find out more about these special individuals his father studied and theorized, causing him to fall out of favor with the scientisfic community.

Season Two - Evolutions. Not a horrible season. Was it as good as Season One? Probably not, but Season One had novelty on its side and it MILKED it. I watched, I loved and I am addicted. I dragged through Season Two in hopes of finding the Heroes goodness that I desired and I got it. Only in bits and pieces scattered throughout. When I look at the bandwagon, I think some people jumped ship.

I keep watching because for every disapointment, I get two pleasant surprises that I love. So here we go. Season Three, originally entitled Exodus, but due to a story adjustment, the title was changed to Villians, which can only mean badassry is afoot. Right?

Did you see it? I did. At least two thirds of the premiere. I'm hoping that NBC will once again will have Heroes in streaming video online so that we don't have to be pirates in order to get our fix.

As the title suggests, this is SPOILERIFIC, unforgivably revealing on everything on the two episode premiere.

I loved it. I hated it. I really wanted some private time after some parts. I still am not happy with Peter. Perhaps I'm going about this the wrong way...

Here is a brief list of hopes I had for the Heroes series from the last two season:

1. We find out what the hell Angela's power is.
2. More George Takei... Please? Pretty please? We could get some sweaty basketball players if that's what he really wants.
3. Peter stops being stupid.
4. Find out what happened to Catlin from Season 2. Plot hole much?
5. Does or does not the entire original group of "heroes" that formed the company have powers? Seriously. Evidence please.
6. Just have Maya die please... She was half the reason why Season 2 was such a disappointment in some ways.
7. Speedster nemesis for Hiro - please don't make me want to stab my eyes out.
8. Really now, NBC, is the online comic EVER going to affect the TV show? I need to know if my readership MEANS something! Not to mention the Elle story arcs were really good. I want that to show up in the series somehow.
9. Peter stops being stupid.
10. Mohinder stops being stupid at critical plot points.
11. Parkman doesn't become the universe's bitch again. It was getting really annoying that he was so continuously bitch slapped over and over again. When he finally managed to plant thoughts into other people, he had BAMF potential. Matt Parkman had a chance to shine. It can easily be all taken away.
12. Comercials, trailers and sneak peaks stop ruining the best plot twists. Really. Remember Season Two comerical? SHOWING Sylar was still alive? Yeah, best plot twist of the season and they ruin it.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh on Peter, but it seems like the conflict half the time for the past two seasons is "Peter did something dumb and now we have to fix it." Now with season three, the conflict really is "Peter did something dumb and now we have to fix it."

Fortunately, this means lots of Angela Petrelli screen time.

As you can tell, I really adore Angela. Why? For me it seems like, why not? She's well written, strong and a complete and utter BAMF. Did I mention well written? All of her dialogue is extremely well done and Cristine Rose does an amazing job executing. Since I was denied Malcolm McDowell, who was simply stunning in Season One, Angela playing a much larger role would do just fine.

But, oh! Dear, sweet Heroes writers! Have you been reading my diary? Angela taking over the company and Linderman possibly for entirely another season? I think I might just swoon... or simply nerdgasm all night over it.

And guess who is my favorite main charater? Hiro Nakamura, of course. How can anyone not love him? After watching the second half of "Second Coming" though, I realized something - Hiro doesn't keep any character development he gets.

No, seriously and it scares the living bejeesus out of me. Hiro was bascialy the reason I watched the first half of Season One and now the possibility that his writing may be completely shallow with no intention of growth really bothers me. That's what bad writing does. It bothers people. You have Love Interest #1 in Season One, Charlie. Who can forget Charlie? It was a really powerful and it made you really feel for Hiro as he struggled with his first true love and loss. Also as a bonus, the writers were really careful about Hiro mourning and made it believable. (At least, I wanted to believe. I'll just have to rewatch Season One... to make sure. Yeah... because I'm not one of those obsessive creepy fans. Nope, not me.)

Season Two. Love Interest #2. Does he reflect on Charlie at all as he falls in love with Yaeko? Not that we know of. Was this a bad subplot? Hell, no. They handled it well, made the transistion logical and tied it into the main plot is a plausible way. I honestly don't know why people complained about the pacing in Hiro's journey in Feudal Japan. There were much more grievous pacing problems (as well as some questionable writing choices) in Season Two. I suppose a quicker return of Hiro to the present might have helped fans cope with the Wonder Plage Twins journey to America with their wacky sidekick, Sylar.

Back to the point, with the beginning of Season Three, he's back to Season One, happy, nerdy Hiro. Granted, we love happy, nerdy Hiro with wacky sidekick Ando. But, is this a good thing? It's like they're resetting Hiro every season, scared that if he has any lasting character development that we'll dash off into the night like skiddish deer. And, are they seriously going to set up Batman/Catwoman parrelles for Hiro and the speedster? Like, romance? Is this the beginning of Love Interest #3?

I kind of hope not since I might end up tying myself to four horses and have them run in opposite directions. Unless the writers surprise me, which they have done before.

Last couple minutes of "Butterfly Effect."

You know what I'm talking about.

As always, yours truly,
Frugal Fan

PS: I almost forgot. What is with the blantant X-Men and 4400 plot points? I appreciate a writing staff that's are all nerds like the rest of us, but really did they think we wouldn't notice? I like nods. I give anything extra kudos when they have nods because it's nice to know that there are others that are just in love with certain fandoms as much as I am. But, there is a differnce between a nod and a being a weasal and failing at the sneaky. Nods are little snippets for people to find like Easter Eggs on DVDs or ... real Easter Eggs. You're a weasal that fails at subtlty when it's your main plot. Future Peter - Bishop much? Anyone can have powers/become special? I believe that was the second half of the 4400 series. It's even a sryinge again. Granted, I don't know what else it would be other than a sryinge, but I don't know how to feel about having it be a major visual for the plot like the Issac paintings or the reoccuring symbol that has manifested into its new earth-shattering form for Season Three. Nathan comes back from the dead and has a message from God? Jordan Collier, 4400 - Season Four.

Of course, this isn't really anything too new for Heroes. Season One was basically the plot for Watchmen by Alan Moore, but really, that was more of an adaptation than incompetent ninja weasal work. Not to mention, Heroes in a lot of ways IS the love-child of 4400 and X-Men.

Oh, and Suresh is Spider-Man now. I knew that I should have been excited, but I wasn't. The more I saw that he was like Spider-Man (I mean he even did the crawl up the wall thing with almost the exact same angle shot that the movies love so much.) the more I thought, "Man, that's a dissapointment." Whenever it comes to something The [Insert Adjective] Spider-Man related, even in the most remote sense, somewhere in my brain a little voice says, "Quesade makes Baby Continuity cry." If you don't know what I'm talking about, I feel cold and alone on the Internet. I don't even really read Marvel and I know about that.

Am I being unreasonably harsh? Maybe. There were only so many ways the series could go and do it well so maybe this plot won't fall flat on its face or feel redundant to us that know our comic book lore.

I intend to watch Villians faithfully, hoping for the best, but keeping my expectations low. Care to join me?

Friday, September 12, 2008

NEWSFLASH! $3 Sale at Top Shelf Productions!

That's right! Usually, I wouldn't entertain the thought of promoting retailers without having personal experience with them, but Top Shelf Productions not only looks top notch, has a variety of interesting titles, many, many talented comic creators and a time sensitive $3 Sale on certain items (a lot more than you'd think) as well as discounted prices on most of their stock. If you like graphic novels and feel like reading something that has some weight to it, definitely look at their titles.

This is the first time I've really looked at Top Shelf, but for a small production like them puts out a lot of really fantastic stuff, stuff that everyone should read at least once. The renown Bellen creator puts up his graphic essays here. This is where Comic-Con praised Blankets by Craig Thomson was published. (I've read Blankets personally and love it. It's definitely worth a read.) Alan Moore, whether you love or hate him, you must admit he is a good writer, also has works from here.

If anything, look through their inventory. It's some good reading just waiting for you.

And there's more! Top Shelf 2.0 is their personal online comics page, promising a new story EVERY WEEK DAY. A comic-du-jour from quality creators that have been around the block, know what they're doing and (basically) a good story garrunteed. How great is that?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Page and Screen: Joe Loves Crappy Movies

Webcomic - Joe Loves Crappy Movies
By: Joesph Dunn
Started: April 4, 2005
Updates: Weekly

God, I haven't done much on here for a while. To make up for it, I present Joe Loves Crappy Movies who is much more diligent than I am. (Please don't leave me.)

JLCM is not only a simple comic with very good sense of humor, but also weekly movie reviews. Now why would I review/highlight another movie reviewer?

Because he's damn good at what he does. His reviews are balanced and completely reasonable. Right from the start, he makes an effort to make readers realize that he isn't telling him what to see and what not to see, but rather voice his opinion and give readers the opportunity the same. As a bonus, he reads other reviews and calls them out when they're being unreasonable. He has a good rating system in place and my journey through his archives has brought me to the conclusion he's willing to learn and redo his methods in order to present the best product. Which is fantastic.

I haven't thoroughly check through his forums yet, but it looks like exactly the kind of people he was appealing to - people that can think for themselves and not take the world seriously all the time.

Do you know what else makes JLCM very awesome? It hosts four other comics done by Irvsher Fabor - Fish Tank Tango, Kevin Gleason - Retail Rage and Philip Chan collaborating with Joe Dunn - Matriculated, and another Joe Dunn production - Free Lunch: Fred the Food Critic. Once I get the chance, I'll most likely write up a shoutout for these as well.

Cheers, Internet!

Yours Truly,
Frugal Fan

PS: The vote incentives are completely worth it with a forum thread showcasing past incentives as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Updates on Dear Frugal

Between obsessing over Doctor Who downloads, getting sick because I outright refuse to acknowledge at times I'm lactose intolerant, and having my legs start to hurt for no reason so I have to lay down (my computer can't reach the bed without unplugging the Ethernet cord), entries have been difficult to type up.

Do not fear! I have several movie reviews to put up. Here's an explanation for how it works.

For new movie reviews, I will use my "Expectation-What it is-Thoughts-Grade" format since that works for most movies that just come and go in theaters. For older, more timeless movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Citizen Cane, etc., I will write reviews like I did for Batman: Dark Knight. The fact that I do not give it a grade means that I think it cannot be qualified by the usual standards of movies and I do not have the arrogance to appropriately grade it.

Example: I would give the Iron Man movie an "A" because it can be watched by everyone, fan of the source material and ignorant heathen alike. It's recommended that you like action films or at least tolerate violence in order to enjoy the movie, but it's a really good movie all round in every category. The special effects are well done and the science does not make you cringe if you pay that close attention (I do). My biggest fear for the movie was the romantic subplot since it seems that only a chosen few movies seem to realize it's a SUBplot, not the main plot, and you know what? Marvel Studios remembered how to handle a subplot by keeping it subdued and made the relationship realistic and healthy. The movie really exceeded all my expectations and even hopes! It was a fantastic time that was made down right euphoric with the clip at the end with Samuel Jackson (Is it me or is he doing a LOT more comic book movie work?).

However, if I were to give Batman: Dark Knight a grade, I would have to default to "A" or "A+" which I am not comfortable doing since it puts it at the same grade as Iron Man. Now, Iron Man is by no means a bad thing to be compared to as I just explained. It is that I really do think that while Iron Man is most likely the best "Comic Book-Based Movie," Batman: Dark Knight is a better movie. The words "instant classic" come to mind when I think of Dark Knight. (Whether Superman Returns is as good a movie as Dark Knight, I can't say. I'll have to re-watch since it's been too long for me to say one way or another.)

Therefore, the lack of a grade means that it exceeds an "A" and everyone should watch it at one time or another. I will most likely not give a grade to deeper/thinking films like In Bruges, since usually, those films are extremely difficult to fully describe without explaning at length what is about. I never liked spoilers so I will not post them without warning. Severe spoilers (things that I can't keep to myself), I will make the same color as the background so if you really want to see it, it is completely your choice.

SEMI-SPOILER WARNING (Sort of) like if you didn't know this, you're more socially reclusive than I am - and that's saying something.

On a random note, I am continually surprised on how Harvey Dent turning into Two-Face was a plot twist for people. I mean really. Tommy Lee Johns played Two-Face in one of the Batman movies with Jim Carey as the Riddler, though the origin stories in that movie were really subdued. But, anyone that watched the Animated Series would know and it would only be a question of how they handle the origin. One the one hand, it could mean that people are going to Batman: Dark Knight because they want to, not becuase it is a comic book movie, which means they're doing something right. Batman has to be one of the best superheroes in comics today. It is reassuring to know that these new movies are playing off the philisophical side of the Batman lore.

Deadpool remains my favorite though.

TTFN, Ta ta for now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Screen and Page: Superman Birthright

Superman: Birthright - The Origin of the Man of Steel

Writer-Mark Waid
Penciller-Leinil Francis Yu
Inking-Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist-Dave McCaig
Original Series Covers-Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan

Superman Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

My Thoughts
Just to get things out of the way, let me say this: I never liked Superman. I have attempted time and time again to formulate a pathos-free argument against the Man of Steel, but it never seems to come. I've tried to find some ultimately redeeming quality to him so I can stop admitting to people that I really do like Lex Luthor more than Superman. As Toyman said in the brilliant Action Comics #865, "There are two types of people in the world -- Superman people and Batman people." I, myself, am a Batman person. I admire the Dark Knight for his dedication and discipline, both physical and mental. He made himself into the man he needed to be. He trained for years and sacrificed a normal life and normal happiness for his goals. Superman didn't ask for his powers. Superman never worked for it.

What Superman struggles with is the ability to be human.

With so many other character with this situation like Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager, Red Tornado from the DCU, etc. that I do enjoy, I end up wondering again why I don't like Superman. It's not because he is an alien because I love J'onn J'onzz, the Martain Manhunter and all the Kirby space stuff. And it can't because he has so many freakin' powers because I'm pretty sure J'onn has him beat. He just always seemed to embody one of the things I do not like about America: it's arrogance. Unlike some superheroes, it isn't something obvious about the character because it comes from his, appropriately, steel-like morality. Granted, I'm no comic expert. I haven't read every comic there is, heck, I've barely read all the "ground-breaking" ones. But I do have a sneaking suspicion that if he saw something beyond his comprehension (ex: an alien ritual or magic) and it wasn't making bunnies and flowers rain from the sky, he'd punch first and ask questions later. So perhaps, I have misspoken. It is not his arrogance I disdain, it is his ignorance, if only because his knowledge is so much lessor than it can be.

The man has super-speed. That requires a brain to match. Superman could easily be one of the greatest intellectual minds on the planet. Maybe he can't beat Lex or King Faraday in a game of chess, but he could best them in sheer encyclopedic knowledge. Superman should be a genius and that's a bit why I like Superman: Red Son.

But that review is for another time. Birthright far exceeded my expectations for a Superman comic. Perhaps that is the point of the comic: to be beyond expectations, to take your breath away. It has to since it's forced to stand up against every Superman Origin story ever told. It has all your typical locales: Krypton, the farm, and Metropolis with an appropriate side/parallel story to help anchor the main theme. What is very nice that he mixes up the order of the settings that your typical Superman story would follow. The pacing is spot on and Lu did a great job with the art with McCaig doing stupendous colors. (By the way, there's a great little story waiting for you if you read the Biographies page about McCaig and Birthright; it's worth it just for that.) All in all, Birthright is wonderfully written and artistically well executed. Coming from me, this is high praise since I was very ready to be bored with it being a Superman comic and the one theme I hate most: coming of age. I really have no words for how tired I am of "coming of age" or "discovering of self" stories. School ruined them for me forever, but...

When I do find a good story, a story following a character coming into their own, I do appreciate it all the more. It usually becomes one of my favorites (which is why Dick Grayson will always be my favorite Robin despite his unfortunate first name).

Superman: Birthright is definitely a story to read. It made a Batman person give the big blue boy scout a second glance.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Avatar Rants and Rambles

Unfortunately, I was not able to actually attend Comic Con this year unlike my friend, Holic, who supplied the Avatar panel report last post. Now, when it comes to Avatar, Nick confuses me.

First of all, it should be noted that it is literally the most profitable animated series ever. Between the trading cards, the ani-manga (the medium which I am convince was invented by either the Devil to torture me or by God to test me) and other miscellaneous merchandise I have yet to see anywhere. Am I the only one that is not seeing all this merch that apparently is selling so well?

What I've heard from the rumor mill is that Nickelodeon is planning to air something Avatar related in the future, but will not continue the Aang storyline, but something else. IF this rumor has any merit, this is my dearest wish: it takes place either before the first Avatar or follows the first Avatar because it would be so cool. Remember the thing the completely awesome Lion-Turtle said?

"Before the time of the Avatar, we did not bend the elements, but the energies within ourselves."
Do you hear that? I believe that is the sound of unadulterated sweetness.

Back to the panel, I agree with Holic on the annoyance of the official word that Aang really is the last airbender. Um, so the reincarnations of the Avatar are kind of numbered, the balance of the world is forever off kilter and it makes the ending rather bittersweet if not unsatisfying.

Okay so now the Fire Nation is on its way to rehabilitation, and the war is over, but in the long run, the world is screwed. In roughly 160 to 200 years, there will be no more Avatar therefore, no one left to bridge the mortal world with the Spirit world and to help keep the now non-existent balance in order. What does it mean? Will this be an end to bending? If so, the Fire Nation will rise again as an industrial powerhouse and take over the world to ensure a progressive, mechanically powered future. In other words, the Fire Nation could be in the exact same position that it would have been if it won the war.

Now I realize this is a stretch, but it's because of the lack of information that I wonder the possibilities. All I want (if I am denied another series/season) is a 15 minute epilogue. I don't care about seeing Zuko and his mother on the screen together. I just want to know what she was doing all this time! Not to mention I didn't get nearly enough White Lotus action. There is now a total of, what? Four, maybe five episodes that mention the White Lotus. I'm also not okay with leaving Toph hanging with no real resolution. What is she going to do now? Will her family accept her? Where will she live? The Bae Sing Sae happy, happy "we're all bestest-best friends!" scene was more confusing than humorous or cute when I think about it. I really want to see how the royal historians put down that scene. "In his early years of reign, Fire Lord Zuko often spent his free time in Bae Sing Sae, serving tea in the Dragon of the West General Iroh's tea shop, the Jasime Dragon."

It's kind of like the President working in his parent's soda pop shop. It's just kind of awkward. Cute, but awkward.

One of the things I really loved about Avatar is that beyond all the jokes and slapstick, at its core, it was a smart, well down, well written story with a lot of talent and hard work put into it. It was a show of quality and detail. The finale felt a little, dare I say it, rushed and maybe a smidgen sloppy. Granted, who am I to say such things? I'm just a humanoid with internet access and a working knowledge of the English language. But, as a fan, I was initially satisfied with the ending, hook line and pathos-driven presentation, but I'm starting to have a very bitter aftertaste.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comic Con Avatar Update from Holic

Avatar panel: So after I finally get into this giant (and crowded) room I had to sit through the ending part of the Prisoner's panel. I didn't really pay attention. The Avatar panel starts with Nickelodeon rep talking about the series, and how unexpectantly large the fan base is, and how they're going to be releasing Avatar: Legends of the Arena, a MMORPG game in September. You can make your own character and have it duke it out with other players. (Meaning, new crack!) Then he finally introduces Mike and Bryon who appear on screen as black and white sketched out chibi characters... lol They talked about the finale. How it was Mike fault that they didn't show Zuko finding and meeting his mom and how they know that they probably made half of their fan base mad with the final pairings. I'm pretty they sure that they talked about other stuffs that I can't remember. Anyways then they proceeded with the showing of the last hour of the finale. There was much applause for many of the characters as they came on to the screen. Applause for Toph and her metal bending, applause for Fire Lord (excuse me, King of the Losers) Ozai, applause for Iroh and the White Lotus group, you get the general idea... Half of the crowd went wild as Zuko jumped in the path of the lightning to save (stupid) Katara from harm. (Honestly why the hell was she standing there anyways?) And of course when the two now infamous "kissing" scenes came on half the crowd threw a hissy fit. (At least no one set themselves on fire...) Applause for the ending credits.

Chibi Mike and Bryon came back on and talked for a bit (I'm seriously blanking on what the hell they said... T_T Forgive me!) Then the real Mike and Bryon and Aaron Ehasz (who helped write the finale) finally made their grand entrance. (They came out from behind the giant screen.) They talked again, and then started the cosplay contest. Third place: Fire Lord Ozai (Phoenix King robes I believe...) Second place: Iroh (Earth kingdom robes with half balding head and the works lol XD) First place: Chibi Appa (Giant Appa head with cute dot eyes and faux fur pants I think...) Top winners got a bag full of Avatar paraphernalia with DVDs (Even Bryon forgot which ones it was) . I also forgot what was so special about the first place winner other than she got more stuffs.... Then came the fanart contest. Honorable mentions consisted of fanart that amused them such as Zuko in the Foggy Swamp Tribe attire. (I just thought it was kinda disturbing. >_>) The top ten and the results of the contest has been posted at the .

There was some discussion about how "creative" people were with their fanart, then they showed a super-duper special preview of "Book 4: Air"... It consisted of some more fanart...but not just any ordinary fanart no... they were crazy Zutara shipper fanart! So they did some silly voice overs of Katara and Zuko starting some "forbidden secret" relationship (with perverse "lowbrow" Zutara fanart), which then lead the breaking up of Katara and Aang, and Aang hooking up with Azula... Some Toph/Sokka was thrown in there too... Then it progressed to the break up of Katara and Zuko (their "relationship" was purely physical and actually had no substance I suppose... lol) and final fanart of Aang holding Katara with a voice over of them saying that they knew Mike and Bryon would put things in order again. (Igniting a riot from Zutara fans again...)

Then finally came the Q & A! It only lasted 15 mins though... =.= I would have gone up myself except for the fact that I did not want to be run over or possibly mauled to death by other fans. I forget some of the questions but what I know is this: There will be no Book 4. It was always planned to be a trilogy. Aang IS the LAST airbender (despite the fact that this would leave the Avatar world out of balance and no future Air Avatar... No one bothered to point that out and question it...which irked me.) However, there will be a live action film based on Book 1 with some "new twists". Honestly I would have been happier with a 15 minute epilogue... Ok well, this is all I remember of the Q & A.

Oh, and awesome T-shirts with the poster image of the movie finale on it were handed out at the exit doors. Thus concludes the 2008 Comic-Con Avatar panel. Sorry I couldn't get another shirt... >_< Only one per person.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Sorry for the unexpected hiatus. I've been traveling and seeing family and I didn't get any of the posts done in time. Here are a few comics that I've been reading from my local library. They've been out for a while so they might be harder to find in mainstream stores like Borders or Barnes and Nobles. Feel free to ask for more information!

The Books of Magic
-Burning Girl
Astro City: The Tarnished Angel
The 49ners by Alan Moore
Batman: Turning Points
Lucifer Vol. 1-7 (four more to go!)
Astro City: Local Heroes
The Sandman Book IV: Season of Mists

The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Power of Myth
Lucifer Effect

Related Movies
Batman: Gotham Knight
Justice League: The New Frontier

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Subjects of My Not So Silent Desperation: Being the Avatard

Yeah... I make no reservations over the fact that I am a nerd, but sometimes I forget just how far my fan-ness will take me. So here is the work so far my friend and I have made to estimate how many airbenders there will be by the time the next Air Avatar comes. Feel free to criticize, praise, double check and do your own work. I know it's not as realistic as it could be and it could be more streamlined, but I couldn't/didn't feel like working out a rock-solid formula for it.

Mostly Logical Assumptions:

  • Aang and Katara will have children at 20
  • All of their children and their children, etc. will have children at 20 because 20 is a nice round number
  • Aang will die at 80 years old
  • All Avatars will die at 80 years old
  • Aang and his descendants will have three children each, assuming three is the average
  • All children will live to have children and die at 80 years old
  • Bending is inherited, but can also skip generations, therefore all of an airbender's descendants, whether or not they have airbending are able to produce children with airbending, ex: Katara's maternal grandmother was a waterbender (right?). Katara's mother was not a waterbender, but Katara is a waterbender. Therefore, bending can skip generations.
  • Because it is very vexing to plot out every possibility of marriage, probabilities will remain constant so there will not be airbenders interbreeding to strength the odds or severe weakening of odds (It's called, I didn't know how to address this problem so I'm throwing it out)
  • It is a 50/50 chance for a child to be a bender from two or one bender parents
  • Because Aang and Katara are both benders, it is a 1/4 chance for their children to be airbenders
  • Therefore, all of the children of Aang's descendants will also have a 1 out of 4 chance of being airbenders
  • Despite being able to master all four elements, children of other Avatars will only inherit their "native" element, ex: Avatar Roku had children and there were no indications that they could bend other elements therefore Roku's children that could bend were only firebenders.
  • Only whole numbers will be used even though this will cause the rounding errors to become more and more severe with each generation and the margin of error becomes wider

Aang: 20 years old
Aang and Katara have 3 kids, being optimisic, we have one child with no bending, one with water bending and one with air bending.
Running Tally (RT): Aang + 2nd generation = 2 airbenders
Aang: 40 years old
Their 3 kids will have 3 kids each, producing 9 grandchildren.
1:4 will be airbenders therefore 9/4 = roughly 2 airbenders
RT: Aang + 2nd +3rd = 4 airbenders
Aang: 60 years old
9 grandchildren have 27 great-grandchildren. 27/4 = almost 8
RT: 12 airbenders
Aang: 80 years old and dies.
Water Avatar is born.
27 great-grandchildren yield 81 great-great-grandchildren. 81/4 = 20 ish
RT: 12 airbenders + 20 - 1 (Aang died) = 31
Water Avatar: 20 years old
(81)(3) = 243 great3 grandchildren
243/4 = 61 rounding up... ish
RT: 31 +61 -1 (Aang's children die) = 91
Water Avatar: 40 years old
(243)(3) = 729 great4
729/4 = 182 ish
RT: 91 + 182 - 2 = 272 airbenders
Water Avatar: 60 years old
(729)(3) = 2187 great5 grandkids
2187/4 = almost 547
RT: 272 + 547 - 8 = 811 airbenders
Water Avatar is 80 years old and dies. The Earth Avatar is born.
(2187)(3) = 6561
6561/4 = 1640 kind of
RT: 811 + 1640 -20 = 2431

I know there is a way to make this streamed line, but my calculus is really rusty so please enlighten me.

Transcript of Avatar Nerdiness

Holic: So did you see the series finale of Avatar yet?
12:26 AM me: yup
Holic: XD I fangasimed so many times
me: Seriously
12:27 AM but I really wanted certain things fleshed out
like Zuko's search for mother
Holic: yeah me too
me: the Order of the White Lotus
Holic: indeed
I wanted to know who ALL the old people were
me: YOu didn't?
12:28 AM Holic: no no not the main ones
me: oooh
yeah seriously
Holic: I wanted to know some background stuff
like how they formed and such
me: Seriously!
12:29 AM Not to mention the Toph crush resolution
Toph having a crush on Sokka
though that might have been resolved
on the Ember Island ep
Holic: yeah Toph gets no love
me: but I missed it
Holic: hmm they kinda sorta touch on it
12:30 AM wait nevermind I wast thinking of something else
but Toph is so awesomely awesome
12:31 AM I was so disappointed that Zuko's mother was only touched on at the very end
gah cliffhanger!!!
12:32 AM me: I KNOW!!
ALl I want
is a 15 minute epilogue episode
Holic: That would be great
me: And where is the Earth King?
12:33 AM Holic: forgotten apparently
I even forgot about him until you mentioned it
me: And what about the Southern Water Tribe?
Or the Souther Water Very Small Collection of Iglos Behind a Broken Wall?
12:34 AM Holic: lol not important enough to make it to the 2 hr movie ending?
>_> they need an epilogue
me: Welll
12:35 AM It kind of needs to be rebuilt
And they didn't make the misnomer rumor good
so the world is technically STILL out of balance
you know
all the air benders
are kind of
sort of
12:36 AM Holic: I guess its all up to Aang
me: granted
it would be roughly 100 years until the next Airbender avatar
but still
that's MAYBE
three to four generations
12:37 AM Holic: world is still out of balance without them
Aang has a lot of work to do
12:38 AM me: okay
Let's go through the motions
They sort of imply
that bending runs in families
Holic: sorta kinda
12:39 AM me: and let's go under teh assumption that the Avatar childern have an equal chance of being a bender of any element or not being a bender
Holic: alright
1/5 chance of baby being airbender
me: and we'll also assume that two benders with produce bender childern
or at least, carry the genes
12:40 AM so it might skip a generation
Ex: Katara's grandmother was a bender (?) but her mother was not
Katara is a bender therefore it skipped a genreation
Holic: right right
12:42 AM So if Aang and Katara have kids, their kids might not be benders but their grandchildren might
me: right
12:43 AM hmm
So 50/50 that they might be a bender
Ex: Katara and Sokka
Sokka is not a bender
Katara is
12:44 AM Holic: yeah
me: So for Aang
his childern's probabilities are
1:2 not bender
1:2 bender
12:45 AM Within that bender probability
1:4 any specific element
1:8 overall to be an airbender
12:46 AM Holic: makes sense
12:49 AM me: So
Let's say
they have three kids
which is reasonable
anything more seems improbable
Holic: yeah
me: especially since he is so dedicated to his spiritual enlightment
as an Air Nomad
12:50 AM So let's be optimisic and 2 out 3 are benders
Holic: alright
me: One is a water and one is an air bener
since they are the dominate traits
in the parents
Holic: ja
12:52 AM me: And we'll even to go as far as to say that the other two childern carry the recessive air bender gene
And we'll assume that they each have 3 kids
or at elast average
12:53 AM from the three kids we have nine kids
Holic: at least one of these kids are airbender
me: right
12:55 AM if we go with the pure probabilities
And we will assume that Aang will die of natural causes at the age of 80
12:56 AM unlike the Guru who managed to live over 100 years but followed the same path of spiritual enlightment as the monks
so let's go with nice round numbers like 20
Holic: heh
me: Aang and Katara have kids at 20
12:57 AM so
for Air1 to have kid air2
Aang will be 40
Holic: yep
me: so
12:58 AM Let's go to the next generation
29 kids and Aang is 60
Holic: where'd 29 come from
12:59 AM me: each of the nine grand kids have three kids
so great grand childern
Holic: isn't 9x3=27?
1:00 AM me: 29/8 = 3 ish
Let's call it 4
1:01 AM Total of air benders living: 1 + 1 + 1 +4 = 7
1:02 AM Aang, air1 who was 1:3 , air2 who was 1:9, air3 4:29
this is fun <3
1:03 AM Holic: lol
me: So after 40 years
we have 7 times the number of airbenders we started with
1:04 AM 29 great grand have 47 great great
47/8 = roughly
1:05 AM 6
Aang is 80 and he dies
So now we have 12 airbenders
1:06 AM Holic: Avatar cycle continues so water is next?
me: Water is next
I think my avatar giving all bending is flawed
Avatar Roku
1:07 AM married and has childern
Holic: only fire benders though
me: only fire benders
Holic: I think they only pass on their original bending element
me: Right which makes a lot more sense
but is no good for our numbers
because it would form another growth tree
1:08 AM to run parrallel and even strength the airbender gene pool
Holic: yeah because now its 1/4 of kids can be air bender
me: WHy is it 1/4?
1:09 AM Holic: 1/2 bender vs. not bender and 1/2 water vs. air
me: ooh
Holic: 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/4
me: we'll have to recrunch
1:10 AM Holic: XD
1:12 AM me: So let's go back to the first generation
1:13 AM Holic: one is water, one is air, and one is not bender
me: right
THat worke dwel :3
9 grand kids
1:14 AM Aang is 40
so 2 are airbenders
Running Tally: 4 air benders
Aang - 60
27/4 = almost 8
RT: 12 air benders
1:15 AM Holic: at age 80?
me: 47/4 = almost 12
1:17 AM oop
3*27 = 81
1:18 AM 81/4 = 20 ish
Holic: so 20 airbenders by the time Aang dies at age 80
me: actually more
1:19 AM because when he was 60 there were 12
so now there's 32 -1
therefore 31 living air benders after Aang dies
1:20 AM 81*3 = 243
243/4 = 61 ish
but again
Aang's childern die at 8-
1:21 AM so it's 32 + 61 -1
Holic: 92 airbenders
me: right
with masters and such
1:22 AM So Water avatar is 20
RT: 92 airbenders
Water: 40
1:23 AM 243*3 = 729
729/4 = 182 ish
1:24 AM Grandchildern die -2
92 + 182 -2
Holic: 272?
me: yeah
good job!
pat pat pat
1:25 AM Holic: lol XD
me: god this is fun
1:26 AM Holic: Avatards indeed
me: we should post this somewhere
Holic: your blog maybe?
me: yeah :D
Holic: yay!
1:31 AM me: 729*3 =2187
Water: 60
1:32 AM 2187/4 = almost 547

5 minutes
1:38 AM me: 272 + 547 -9 =
1:39 AM Holic: so 810 airbenders when water avatar is 60?
me: yup
WE should break 1000 by the time the Water avatar dies
Holic: lol
1:40 AM well that means thats theirs pretty good odds there will be an airbender that can be the avatar
yay air temples restored!
1:43 AM me: but this might be overly optimisic
because it assumes that all the childern without airbending
will have childern that could airbend
Holic: yeah
me: sort of like Sokka's childern being water benders
Holic: and assuming doesn't skip generations