Sunday, 7 May 2017

DMZ Book 8: Hearts And Minds (#42-49) PART TWO

"Feels like a hit, a revenge killing.  But who would do that?" - Radio Free DMZ

Time for part two of book 8. A quick reminder as to what DMZ is about. In a fictional noughties USA the country has split in half between the mid-western Free States and the rest of the country.  A second civil war blew up between them and a demoralised U.S army whose troops were mainly deployed overseas soon found them pushed back to New York.  They held the city until the accidental massacre on Day 204 of the war of a peace march attended by some of the half a million people left trapped in Manhattan caused them to withdraw and negociate a ceasefire between them based east of New York and the Free States lurking in New Jersey.  People in the DMZ have been carrying on with their lives as chronicled by journalist Matty Roth, recently there was an election and a charismatic man called Parco Delgado and his Delgado Nation voted in a provisional governer. He immediately ordered out the various factions and used Matty to go and buy a nuclear weapon from the Ghosts of Central Park so he can shore up his position in the eyes of the world.  A somewhat bitter Matty has alienated his former friends and has got Parco to agree let Matty be his sole media mouthpiece.  Now this volume contains two parts, a three part story called "No Future" and a five-parter called "Hearts and Minds".  It's my policy to split books when they have eight or more parts to them, I've already done "No Future", so this post covers the "Hearts and Minds" five part arc which further explores Mattys fall from the journalistic ideals he once represented.
Matty delivers the news.
It begins with Matty recruiting the AWOL U.S. army gunner called Angel who Matty met back in Book 1, he just kept out of the fighting and had a long distance relationship with a Free States female sniper in the opposite block.  Matty finishes collecting his things as Angel tells him "we're five minutes past Wilson's 'Get the fuck out of Chinatown' deadline, Matty..."  Matty and his goons drive to the U.S. army checkpoint at the Brooklyn Bridge.  There he makes a devasting annuncement.

Matty: "On behalf of the Delgado aministration, I would like to declare that city of Manhattan is now a nuclear armed state.  There will be no tests or inspections.  For those in the position to confirm, the serial number on the device is 25287.  The people of this beleagured city voted and gave us independence, an identity, a nation. We hope the world realises we ae preaprared to deter and defend that at all costs.  Thank you".

After leaving Matty mulls over what this will mean to the population of the DMZ, how do you move the people when they don't know how to move themselves? "Living 'post-racial' was one thing.  Now lets see what post-nuclear can do."

As they go to where Parco is based Angel asks if there is any news on his girlfriend.  Matty says anything is possible.  They arrive a Madison Square Garden and a sharp suited Parco comes out to meet Matty asks him jovially where he's hidden the bomb.  "Fuck you Matty" replies Parco and they both laugh.
Living in style.
Parco congratulates Matty on his press conference, "thirty seconds. All business, only what they need to know and not a syllable more".   He says the U.S. and Trustwell are going to have to spend days covering their tracks if the pedigree of the bomb is correct.   Matty asks what to do, Parco says he gave him autonomy, "you tell me."

Matty starts trying to discuss with Parco that he's rattled a lot of cages, and he will probably have to deal with "lunatic local warlords" challenging him.  Also the U.S. might invade to "stabilise" the situation and face no condemnatio for it.  Parco however is taking a phonecall.  He finishes and tells Matty he can cut deals with any of the local tribes who seem willing, he gives him money for bribes.  He then says he wants some media of their own and is sick of Liberty News everywhere.

Parco: "That's a nice security detail you assigned yourself there.  Try to keep the bodycount down will you?"

We then get a montage of news from all over the world reporting on what Matty said about having a bomb.  Then we see Matty and his goons cleaning their weapons.  Matty takes Angel up to the roof, there a woman called Claire parachutes down.  It's Angel's FSA girlfriend.  Later that evening Matty and his crew bust into a theatre where some scientists are doing experiments and shockingly kill all of them for no reason given.
Matty's squad in action.
The next chapter begins with snatches of news reports about how the balance of power has been upset in the whole region and the Terror Alert has gone to red, and now "regime change" is openly being talked about.  Small drone aircraft are being deployed over the DMZ to start looking for the nuke.  Silently we see both Parco and elsewhere Zee and Martel watching the news unfold.

We then cut to Matty talking to Danny, one of the local Warlords he's been authorised to cut a deal with.  Danny looks at him sullenly, Matty says "I'm no threat to you." He offers Danny ninety thousand dollars for a ceasefire. Danny tells one of his snipers to take aim at Matty. Matty says he thought Danny was pacifist, Danny says he personally is, but his men aren't, "I'm no idiot.  And you know that.  Which is why you're trying to buy me off". He asks how he thinks Parco can buy a bomb and expect everyone else to "chill the fuck out."
Attempting to bribe a local warlord.
He then says currency is no use to him, "we need food, supplies.  Peace". Parco is playing chicken with the whole world and truning the DMZ's innocent civilians "into terrorists by default".  Can his cash wipe away that stink and what comes with it?  "Embargo.  Airstrikes. Invasion... is cash dollars gonna save us?" he asks Matty pointedly.

Matty says OK, he doesn't want any drama or misunderstandings.  Danny then asks to speak privately so they walk a little distance away.  He says this whole bomb thing is not what they voted for after the uplifting campaign rhetoric.  He tells Matty he was close to closing a private foreign aid deal, and Parco fucks it all up.  For what?

Matty: "Respect?"

Danny: "you say that like a fucking question.  You're not even sure, are you?  What the fuck happened to you Matty?"

Matty: "I'm getting sick of being asked that".

Danny tells him to stop acting like a tool.  He could have been so much more, he could have been what the city needed.  Bitterly Matty says "oh yeah? What's that.  Some great journalist?"  Danny says no, "the DMZ needs a Ghandi".  It needs man of inspiration and peace.  Matty was more than halfway there before he started toting an assault rifle.  Matty tells him to "get real."  Danny tells Matty as long as they stay out of his territory he has his ceasefire.  Matty leaves saying he knows the man he's talking about, "... and I voted for him".

A U.S. airforce plane flies over the DMZ tracking radiation signatures.  All they are picking up so far is normal background radiation and various sites of contamination by medical material, storage facilities, labs etc.  The bomb would be "look like a supernova".   The drones have picked up no unual construction and Trustwell haven't got back to them over projects that could be used to shield the weapon.  As far as the can tell it's not on the Manhattan island, "so I suggest figuring out a way to look underneath it".
Matty and Angel chat.
Back with Matty, Angel is having second thoughts.  He tells him he's not so sure he "signed up to be just another insurgent following just another warlord".  Matty tells him the warlord thing is bullshit, "we have money and we're sanctioned by the government".  Angel says he just wants to know what the mission and the endgame are.  Matty says it's ceasefire, peace to the city and supporting Parco's administration.

Matty: "I know I'm not a native, but I feel like one.  And I love this city enough to go block-by-block to do what he can to end the troubles".

Then rather cruelly, he points out that while Angel is here having his crisis of confidence, he's still technically AWOL... "who else will have you?"  And the implicit threat is understood by Angel well enough.

We then cut to Zee and Martel travelling back to the part of the city now under Parco's control.  Martel drives a car through the checkpoint while Zee hides in the boot.  We then get introduced to a new, unnamed woman who is broadcasting a radio station called "Radio Free DMZ".  She says she is here to provide the DMZ with a "friendly voice, a voice of their own, a news source that actually understands what it's like to live in this great city of ours".  She is basically doing what Matty no longer does.
Radio Free DMZ.
She tells them about the drones in the sky, no news of ground based search-and-destroy teams entering the city looking for the nuke yet, but don't rule it out.  She asks people to text or write to her email address if they can, "Who am I?  Who am I is not important.  I am all of you, and you are me".  Then she signs off for now.

Next chapter begins with Matty manning a sniper rifle, he is told to focus on two targets below and squeeze the trigger when he is ready.  The inference that they are murdering random passer-bys is shocking  Fortunately one of the two is Zee and this causes Matty to take his hands off the trigger for now.

We then hear from Radio Free DMZ, on the Governors Island a press conference is being organised, "look at the bright side - a day of them shoving soundbites at us is a day of them not dropping bombs".  The conference is being held by Matty Roth's father, a high up on the board of Liberty News.

He gives a long speech, saying when Parco was elected they hoped he would be a partner for change but him acquiring a nuke aimed at the rest of America, "this cannot stand".

Mr. Roth: "The United States of America is still the high office of the land, and I have been instructed by its Commander-In-Chief to deliver this message:  As long as Parco Delgado insists on holding this city, and the rest of the country hostage with his illegal weapon of mass destruction... we are committed to opposing him".

This could include the removal of Parco from office, he is ordered to surrender the nuke and himself within three days unconditionally.  He will give up authority over Manhattan and "answer for his crimes".  He is saddened at this turn of events and now will take questions.
Mr. Roth publically disowns Matty.
The first one asks him about his son, is he still working for Delgado and "what of reports that he is leading essentially, a paramilitary death squad?"  Does Liberty News still have him on the payroll and the reporter holds up a photo of a tooled up Matty.  Mr. Roth says Matty could have made him the proudest father in the world, "but he chose another path".  He fell in with turncoats, murderers and criminals so his association with Liberty News, the U.S.A and his family has ceased.

Mr. Roth: "I wish him luck, and hope he survives whatever is to come.  But I must be clear.  Matty Roth is no son of mine".

We then cut to Matty telling the woman from Radio Free DMZ over the phone that he won't comment on his father's statement.  She says the people will expect a comment, he responds "fuck the people.  Leave this one alone."

Later that night Matty, ruminates on all the Trustwell "quick response" teams left stranded in the DMZ and how they always have plenty of ammo.  Locating them is easy, people are all to eager to give them up and no one, least of all him, give a shit about them. As he pulls on a balaclava and gets out a gun he thinks about his father saying he was on a "path to violence".

Matty:  "If I can't make the old man proud, why not at least make him right".

He bursts into the room with several Trustwell employees in it firing madly.  As images of the people in his life flash in his head, he beats and then shoots point blank the last one who is kneeling.  As he leaves he wonders, "why is it so hard to feel anything at all?"
Matty in a dark place right now.
Outside small planes overhead drop cylinders all across the area.  He sits moodily on the ground then Parco pulls up, saying he's always got his back, "especially on these... outings of yours".  He tells Matty the devices are designed to boost their radiation sensors. He then asks if, when the shit goes down, Matty will have his back the same as he has his.

Matty tells him that his loyalties haven't changed, he offers Matty a lift back while he takes a walk.  Matty asks him again, "hey, you gonna tell me where the bomb is?" and Parco responds "fuck you Matty!" and walks away laughing.  Later Matty wakes up with a start to find Zee on the end of his bed saying "you killed us all Matty".  Then he wakes up for real to this news report.
Parco, king of the DMZ.
Radio Free DMZ: "This is Radio Free DMZ with a brutal wake-up call, New Yorkers...Parco's missing and our friends across the river have moved up their deadline.  Reports coming in from all over... gonna get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better."

Transporter helicopters have dropped U.S. troops into the DMZ as "search and retreival" teams under order presidentia order and backed by the U.N. The announce they are not an occupying force "our mission is to preserve your safety and safety of the country"  They reaasure the inhabitants that they have nothing to fear from them and to refer to "designated block commanders" if they have questions or information to share, as Matty looks down through a window at them.

Later Angel and Matty are getting high and discussing the situation.  Matty says it's the arrogance that gets him, troops on the ground shouldn't happen now it's why they elected Parco.  Angel asks where he is, "dude likes to pull disappearing acts at the worst moments". Matty says maybe at the best times, "I dunno, the mother-fucker is mercurial".   He says he hopes Parco is nowhere near his bomb.

Angel asks what'll his defence be when someone wants to put a bullet in his head, but Matty says no one would be that stupid, it'd be like fifty Day 204's, "no one is that dumb".  Angel says that they are on lockdown then?  Matty says there is no one outside keeping eyes on their operation, no embedded reporters, no Liberty News, no one to keep them in line, no one to police them up.

Angel: "... I thought that used to be your job."

Matty: "Yeah.  Right. Bunch of fucking good it did in the end, with troops back on the street".

We then get some more news from Radio Free DMZ over scenes of soldiers hooding and shackling people, setting thing ablaze and pointing guns at women with babies.

The radio says that being a search and retreival mission but it's not stopped soldiers settling old scores, including executions, arrests and detentions.  She advises, "Write down names, people.  Take pictures if you can.  Don't let these people vanish forever like before.  And hey, one more thing?  Anyone seen Parco Delgado...we got his back but we didn't vote for him to get slaughtered in the streets".
Matty contemplates what's going on.

Matty is on the phone to Parco who yells at him to get out and do his job as mouthpiece of his administration, "and right now my administration has a foreign fucking army up its ass."  Then he hangs up on Matty, who was in the middle of asking him if he'd seen Zee around.  So he gets out his press lanyard, tucks a pistol in the back of his trousers saying "fuck it. Why not".
Off to to his other job.
He goes out alone thinking he'll get passed slowly up the command chain until he reaches a state official who'll respond politely with a bunch of bullshit.  This proves an optimistic scenario on his behalf.  One of Parco's drivers comes to pick him up, but gets blown up and a squad approach Matty guns pointed at him.  They beat him almost senseless sneering "the famous Matty Roth."

Squad Leader: "You got no one, Roth.  No one's coming.  Your legitimacy is shot to fuck and no one cares if you live or die".

A bludgeoned Matty stammers "But... I'm still Press...!"  But gets his face stamped on.  As he lies their one of them pulls off his press pass and says with contempt, "fuckin' disgrace".  And the squad head off.

He lies in pool of blood and when Martel comes running up to check him he feebly asks to use her phone.  He asks her if she saw six soldiers on foot and probably in a good fucking mood.  She says maybe east, so over the phone Matty orders Angel to get as much firepower together, get moving east, "...and kill the fuck out of the first group of bad guys you find". He tells Martel to make herself scarce, she asks him if he needs a doctor but Matty says his giys will take him home. But up runs Zee and says shw just heard Matty on the phone just now, "what have you done?"
A beaten and brusied Matty.
Angel confirms they have a large group on infrared a block away, they just need the kill order, which Matty gives much to Zee's horror. She says to call it off, she knows he's in pain but it's no excuse. He refuses, saying he spent years in the DMZ trying to "live up to this fucking standard you've set for me".  Who made her the authority in fitting in:

Matty: "So fuck you Zee.  I don't need this anymore.  or you.  Or Wilson.  Or my parents. Or even Parco!  The last few months have proven that.  You have your new little project there, a new friend you can show around and explain how everything works, so go do that".

Then he gets a call back from Angel and when he hears what happened he moans "Oh... oh no.. No!"  We then see Angel's group standing over the bodies of fourteen civilians, the first group of guys they found like Matty ordered.  Angel tells him "I'm out of here.  You won't see me again.  Anyone asks, I'm dead.  might as well be after this.  Good luck, bro."

Innocent blood on Matty's hands now.
Then we cut to reports that the nuke has been found, Parco had it transported to the defunct Indian Point nuclear station twenty-five miles north of Manhattan. They are unsure how he got it there but they have confirmed it's there and being dissassembled into a smaller suitcase nuke.  And they have plan on what to do next.

The discovery has been reported by Liberty News and Radio Free DMZ has a response to it. She says she might love Parco a little more for what he did. People contact her with opinions that range as far as agreeing it was a good idea to thinking Parco has fucked them over to wondering if this makes the current invasion illegal to wondering if there was ever a nuke and it's a ploy to force Parco out.
Was it worth it Matty?
Matty meanwhile stands and looks at the dead he got killed. He says to Zee it was supposed to be soldiers not civilians.  Zee punches him and tells him "disappear Matty.  Like, for good.  Don't ever come back."  We see a bomber plane in the air, then cut to Matty cleaning his wounds back at his place.   Radio Free DMZ broadcasts about the deaths, it was a wedding party. Matty then picks up his phone:

Matty: "I called everyone I could think of.  Parco. Wilson. My dad.  My mum. Angel. Jamal.  The FSA Commander. Everyone I could think of. No one would talk to me. Instant pariah.  The last four years.  A life's work.  Undone."

He rips off his press lanyard and walks dreamily out into the streets. Liberty News report a breaking story. The U.S. government authorised the military to do whatever it takes to deal with the nuke and we see the plane fire a missile at the Indian Point nuclear powerstation.  And the story ends with Matty observing a mushroom cloud to the north of the DMZ.
Oh shit!
I remember when I first read this arc of the series feeling this horrible sick feeling as I saw Matty falling further and further into the path of violence as I realised something awful was going to happen.  And it did.  Blame anger and bad communication but there might be no walking back for Matty now he was responsible for the wedding party massacre and having been left hung out to dry by Parco.  Parco, who motives are a mystery, whose actions are mercurial and actually shared very little information with his supposed mouthpiece, a man who idolises him.  The hunt for the nuke of course reflects very much the whole W.M.D panic and how that could be a justification to invade a country back when the USA invaded Iraq in 2003.  Of course once again, staying in the grey areas there is in fact a W.M.D in this case, does that still justify what had been recognised as a country of it's own within the United States?  And the comic never pulls it's punches about Matty's embracing of violence, in fact he feels like he's in the same headspace as Nick Fury, now addicted to the war he was covering -"I wanted the girl and the war and the victory.  I chose one.".  Other characters shoot him pointed remarks and armour piercing questions about what he used to be, and yet he brushes them all off with bitter self deprecation.  Now with Radio Free DMZ reporting the news in the DMZ and Matty rendered a pariah in everyone's eyes, what role is there left in the place he loved and can he make it up with the people he once professed to love? Still four more volumes to go folks, find out next time.


  1. I'm getting a real "Last King of Scotland" vibe here. Having said that I am finding Matty's transition to quasi war criminal a bit sudden. It doesn't feel like a natural trajectory, either in narrative terms or in accord with the character as built up. And also a bit unconvincing are his on street activities bearing in mind his role as de facto propaganda minster. That's like Goebells putting in a few hours with a Wermacht unit each evening. I also find it a bit implausible that he'd survive. I'm glad the story showed him being beaten up; that feels right. But I find it hard to beloved someone wouldn't just have killed him by now. Parco has enough enemies anyway, I can't imagine his emissary wouldn't be on a lot of people's hit list, even if just a random encounter. I see a reference to Parco watching his back, but that's obviously not completely effective if Matty can get assaulted with impunity. Unless of course it's Parco behind this.

    Hmm, in a lesser work I'd be less bothered. But this story has thrived on accuracy and authenticity. Not just in the general background but especially the characters. They act like real humans. This arc seems a bit incongruous. I just don't get Matty suddenly turning like this. Apart from anything else he seemed to have a respectable among of scepticism and suspicion originally. I just don't see how he'd so blindly keep in with Parco as the new information arose. Even with the emotional investment and bridge burning. It's not like he's being portrayed as without choices. The implication is he's a true believer. That just doesn't seem to fit the character as developed to date.

    But apart from that.... :-)

    Ooh wish I'd gone with my original guess that they'd hide the nuke at Three Mile Island. Just couldn't see how they'd transport it out of the DMZ. The legal sites of nuke ownership are interesting. Technically only the five original countries of the Non-Proliferation Treaty are allowed nukes. Under international law countries can step in to prevent states obtaining them. But does the DMZ get 'grandfather' rights as a former part of the US? Like how Ukraine could have legally kept its stash after the breakup of the USSR (bet they're wishing they had).

    As a stand alone story this is keeping me enthralled. But it does seem out of kilter with the overall series. But maybe things will develop that out all this into perspective. Tune in to find out "Same Matt time, same Matt channel" (see what I did there!)

  2. I have to admit it could have used another arc between this one and the previous one concentrating on just why Matty ended up so loyal to Parco apart from his intial star struckness. We find out out later that Parco's administration had done some real good work housing people and taking care of them. So it wasn't immediate that he went after the nuke, there was a honeymoon period as it were after he was elected.

    That said, I think by now Brian Wood had an ending to the series in sight and wanted a way to totally break Matty down along with breaking down the ceasefire and the DMZ itself in the aftermath of the nuke's "detonation".

    The best I've come up with for Matty's change here is that he's become disillisioned with nit being able to change the world with his journalism which he's become very bitter about. He sees Parco as a vessel of change and will do anything to help him. The reason he hasn't become a target until the U.S. army invade is that Parco's area is pretty tightly ruled by a huge number of militia while Matty's lot take out small pockets of resistance.

  3. That's an interesting character interpretation. I've mentioned Hemingway; but Matty never seemed 'macho' enough for that sort of parallel. However its easier to envisage him as a bit of a spoiled brat seeking a purpose. And getting frustrated when his words can't change the world. A sort of amalgam of the kind of faux revolutionary 15 year old who transitions from 'i am very smart' to 'i am very badass'.

    Hey, see me using Reddit references! Talk about down with the kids. I'm just so edgy. Wait til they hear about this at the bridge club.

    And hopefully the flashbacks will put a bit of context as you mention as to why he might still believe in Parco.

    I was going to comment on the mushroom cloud. Blowing up a nuke doesn't of course make them go off. But any large explosion can cause a mushroom cloud, so I'll let them off.

    I get all my nuclear expertise of course from 2000AD...

  4. I think the spoiled brat theory is the most likely, consider how we've been introduced to his parents. His dad is a higher up at Liberty News, his mother came and took over his job for Parco. I can see why he started flailing after that. Factor in he's still pretty young and inexperienced and we'll who DIDN'T do dumb things in their early twenties? Matty just happened to have his crisis in the powder keg of the DMZ.

    I'll give you a sneak peak ahead. The missile that was fired at the nuclear power station was a small nuke, so it wasn't actually Parco's nuke going off, it was already being broken down by then. Of course the official line is that the nuke is what went off and oh deary me, of course the U.S. has to take punitive actions...

  5. I don't think I did enough dumb things in my 20s so I'm making up for lost time.

    I'd forgotten about his mum. His petulance about getting her fired does feed into the child of successful parents trying to get out from under their shadow thing. Come to think of it, both mum and dad are at the top of the heap in the two areas Matty is trying to establish himself. So maybe that would be motivation to take a more direct approach? Personally I just think he's a bit of a knob.

    Ah, so it's the old 'Fourth Protocol' scam. And this false flag would be particularly effective because they could use an identical weapon. So even international inspections would confirm the isotope signature matched the looted bomb. Clever.

  6. Hee! I think Matty is a fascinating character because he's not always that likeable and he does do stupid things and can't take bruises to his ego. And we've seen what resulted from that. My next post is a single issue, which takes us through his notes of several people and incidents. Then we get his period in "the wilderness" as he tries to find any reason to keep on going and you start to remember why you liked him again.

  7. I'm not sure I actually 'like' Matty. I am interested in what happens to him next though, so that's good storytelling. And he is a very human character. He does have his good points but I do find him fundamentally annoying. But that's as a person, not a character. But you know I'm not a fan of 'mary sue' protagonists so I like his flaws.

    Be interesting to catch up on his notes. What he thinks of others puts a good perspective on his own personality. And a spell in the wilderness for self reflection may well be the redeeming of him.

  8. Yeah he is no Mary Sue, which can happen a lot with Crusader Journalist types. Because we spend so much time in his head you do sometimes want to reach through the comic and give him a real shake.

    The "notes" issue is a bumper sized issue #50. Because each little story has it's own artist when I finally finished writing it up I realised I had more than enough for one post on that issue alone, also the following chapters are Matty in the wilderness which I wanted to deal with separately.

  9. Is it my imagination or are there a disproportionate number of journalists in US comics? My favourite is still Tandy Snow, despite the brevity of her comic career. I wondered if it was a hangover from the Watergate era, when journalists were seen as heroic crusaders; but the timing isn't really right for that. Mind you, seem to be a lot of lawyers too.

    I like the sound of the notes issue being separate vignettes. I do enjoy those little side story interludes. You get to breathe a bit and they also give a wider perspective. My favourite side story though was the Dead Man. Got a genuine wham moment when it turned out to be Dredd. But those bits in Watchmen were the first that I remember really adding depth to the story.

    You ever read Enders Shadow? That was very well done. Telling the exact same story as the original but such a new slant just by focusing on the side character.

  10. Of course the ultimate comicbook journalist as hero would be Clark Kent, with Lois Lane as the longest running non-superperson journo. I think a lot of comicbook writers start out doing some journalistic work and have that on their C.V's. At least up until people could start writing independantly via the internet anyway. So maybe that explains why.

    Ah The Dead Man. I covered it on this blog last year I think. A heady time for 2000AD with all the build-up to Necropolis going on.

    Isn't the Enders stuff by Orson Scott Card? He's one of the most homophobic people I've ever read about and as he actually goes out of his way to fund anti-gay organisations I don't think I want to push any cash his way.

  11. Both books are out there as pdfs, so you can read with a clean conscience.  I've only read the first two, but they are very good. And there's a depiction of Internet culture that's simultaneously stunningly prescient but also laughingly off.

    I'd like to see lois and clarke caught up in a phone hacking scandal (the scoop would in fact have come via Supe's magic hearing, but of course he can't admit that). And also Jimmy Olson getting punched by a drunken Jamiraqui outside a nightclub. Authenticity.

    I did wonder if it was a career thing. That makes sense. Write what you know. Presumably that's Why Steve Coogan always plays a wanker.

  12. Ooh I might check them out then, I always enjoy it when sci-fi gets it both right and wrong about stuff in the future we now live in.

    They have tried to do "ripped from the headlines" stuff with Lois and Clark to variable affect. During the Dork Age that was the New 52 Clark Kent quit his job at the Daily Planet to work for some crappy online gossip rag. Ew. And lets not get into the whole mess that happened when Lois blew his cover and the whole world suddenly hated him. I think one of the reasons they rebooted the DC Verse after that and killed that Superman off and brought back the pre-New 52 Supes who is married and has a kid with Lois was to wipe out that mess (during the New 52 Supes/Clark was shacking up with Wonder Woman, a ship that NOBODY liked which is pretty impressive of DC to have managed). I shall hear nothing against Jimmy Olsen, the man is never afraid to put on ladies clothes in pursuit of a story.

  13. There's a rather sordid, but admittedly amusing, article that makes a convincing case that Supes couldn't have 'relations' with regular human women. So I'd have thought WW would be the perfect girlfriend for him. Although he's annoyingly sanctimonious and she's really cool; so I wouldn't wish that fate on her.

    Been reading up a bit recently on WW. I only really knew her through the, excellent, TV series. But I'm excited by the film. Of course, like most US comic heroes she's had a gazillion iterations. Fundamentally though she's always such a great character. Hats off to her pervy creator. Well done sir.

    Journalism is a career that's really undergoing transition now, so it's interesting how the comics will adapt to that. I suppose though we'll still have print journalism and investigative reporters for a while yet. Poor Jimmy though is having to compete with every eye witness with a cameraphone. I hope he can still get enough work to pay for some nice frocks.

  14. Ah yes, The Man Of Steel, Woman of Kleenex essay. Look, Superman has perfect control over every aspect of his powers. If he didn't he'd flatten half of Metropolis every time he sneezed!

    The argument against Wondy hooking up with Supes is that it never, ever improves her as a character. She always ends up an appendage of him and while having relationships with normal guys (and gals) keeps her the more empowered half. And so while it had been played with in Alternative Universes it wasn't until The New 52 that they officially hooked up... aaaand she spent most of her time mpoing around like a lovelorn teenager, especially in the Superman/Wonder Woman title, which someone elsewhere pointed out was more "Yet another Superman title with Wonder Woman occasionally gueststarring in it".

    Actually Alan Moore said it best in "For The Man Who Has Everything".

    There's probably an interesting book to be written about the changing face of journalism and it's depiction via The Daily Planet and The Daily Bugle. Oh for access to nearly a century of comics to do the research via.

  15. That's reassuring to know. It has reminded me of a TMI story I'll have to share with you at sometime though.

    Yeah, Supes is a pretty boring character anyway. He's too powerful (although Kryptonite seems to be more common than aluminium in the DC verse) but worse than that he's just such a boy scout. Wondy (like that, stealing) is so much more compelling. I'd much prefer to see her in her own space than as appendage.

  16. I like Superman, but only when British authors write him. Alan Moore, Garth Ennis and especially Grant Morrison have all done fascinating takes on him. Something to do with how the UK and US relate to each other via their ideal values. Don't think it's cynicism either, all three find different takes on Supes as an icon of the American Dream. Grant Morrison's All Star Superman tugged a few tears from my eyes at its ending with Lois Lanes final words to him as did Garth Ennis with his Justice League epilogue to his wonderful Hitman series.

    I'm actually considering picking up the DC Rebirth Wonder Woman. Greg Rucka (the writer of Lazarus) is back at the helm and he's very feminist. Also Gail Simone's run has been reissued so there's that on the list to get a hold of too.

  17. Have you reviewed any of those Superman tales? I'd be interested to check them out. When I was a kid of course I loved the movie. I really did believe a man could fly. Nowadays it might seem a bit naff but I actually still get a kick knowing we're looking at huge practical sets, built by a bunch of North London chippies. And the actors pitch it just right. This was in the pre cynicism era of course, but Chris Reeve just sells it. And Margaret kidder is a wonderful lois. It's funny, when they cop off in the second film it did, and still does, feel a bit weird. Don't think it's just the different values of the time; it seemed a bit of a jump for the tone built up so well in the first film. Although it's worth it just for "Kneel before Zod!" Funny that there was such a fuss about Marlon Brando being in it, and his fee. These days you get Oscar winners in Dr Who.

    As for Wondy, I did notice that Rucka had done some stories. You of course introduced me to him. From what little I've seen his stories seem a bit more nuanced and complex than standard superhero fayre. Actually exploring the various moral codes of the supes and the implications and consequences.

    Oh and there's yet another controversy about the new movie. People whinging about her accent, because it's East Mediterranean. Yup, a woman from a Greek island would never speak like that.

  18. I covered SUperman's tangles with Hitman when I did the whole series of the same name. I know the tribute was in the final book can't recall which volume the other meeting was in. Issue won and award. As for Alan Moore's two stories and Morrison's All Star Superman, they are both so famous and well loved a literal metric fuckton of stuff has bee written about them already. I don't really have much left to add.

    I'm thininking this year I might figure out how to cover Gotham Central which was how I was introduced to Greg Rucka. He always has a very down-to-earth view of superheroes and from what I#ve seen before his Wonder Woman gets shit done and takes no prisoners.

    As for the new film, shesh. People seem desperate to claim a failure before it's even out.

  19. I liked that Hitman story. Take away the DC references and this could almost be a 2000AD/Crisis character. That WildCATS concept shared the same thing as the second Kick Ass; a pastiche that ultimately can't help become the thing it's meant to be parodying. I appreciated the meta references to that even within the story. Sometimes all you can do is acknowledge that you're self aware and shrug. The story itself though was a bit cluttered for me. Surprising that such experienced writers should forget a 'writing 101' rule "Don't cram all your ideas into one story". It was like those 'Expendables' films. Everyone has to have their contractually allotted 15 minutes (although do love those films; again, they know exactly what they are and they're not embarrassed about it)

    But back to the present. Yeah, be interesting to see what Rucka and Simone do with Wondy. I like what I see of Greg's work. I'm having to avoid his most appealing work, that King & Country, until I get off my arse and at least get a first draft of that similar 'love letter to the sandbaggers' that I want to do. As for Gail, my recent WW research has suggested she likes swords, so she couple have popped up in that Sword of Sorrows thing (But I guess the IP issues got in the way of that, Dynamite do seem to share my tastes though of their current inventory of characters is any indication). I think I mentioned I asked that Gisele lass if she had anything planned with Gail. Unfortunately not at the moment. Oh, and check out her art if you get a chance, it's that 'cartoony but realish' style so you might like it.

    I managed to see the pilot for the aborted WW TV show, it's an interesting take. Most of the complaints were that Wondy was out of character vicious. I'm not so sure about that, I think her different moral code from Supes and Batbloke is what makes her the interesting one. The main problem it seems to me is that it just wasn't very good. But that's often the case with pilots. It had a 'designed by committee' feel about it. But it often takes a few episodes if not a season for a series to find its feet and the best characterisations. Early instalment weirdness and all that. There were some quite astute observations in there about things like objectifying and how women are presented and expected to present themselves. Again it's that fall between two stools. There was obviously some looking back to the Lynda Carter days, but then that edgy gritty ethos took over. It's like they were trying to do a Galactica reboot thing. Nostalgia + HBO values. Another couple of screenplay polishes and they might have got that.

    I hope the movie redresses that, and Wondy doesn't end up down the Job Centre with Black Widow.

    (Ooh, now I need to listen to Sleaford Mods "Jobseeker!")

  20. You've probably had enough run ins with officialdom to appreciate this...

  21. Oh man did that Wonder Woman pilot upset people. While I agree that she's interesting because unlike Superman and Batman se'll not avoid killing if she has too, comicbook Wondy would only reserve that for the worst of the worst and only if all other options had been exhausted (or that mercy kill she performed in the Batwoman team-up I covered). She'd never fling a pipe through a security guards throat. And why the hell did she resort to torturing a suspect who was completely helpless, she has a bleedin' Lasso of Truth which is easy, trustworthy and painless. BAH. So I wouldn't have trusted the writers who got it so wrong out of the gate with her to right the ship. Hopefully *fingers crossed* lessons have been learned for the film.

    I don't think Wondy will ever end up down the jobcentre. I believe that DC have some sort deal with the estate of her creator that if they don't keep publishing the character after a year the rights will revert to his estate, similar to the deal that screwed over Moore and Gibbons with Watchmen.

  22. I still like Kim Newman's approach to options. So long as the cheque clears. I'm pretty sure I've seen the Roger Corman fantastic four film that was made to keep the option rights without any intention of anyone actually watching it. But it's hard to tell one terrible F4 film from the rest (although I'll watch anything with Michael Chiklis).

    It does seem the producers went "Wonder Woman? She's the one in the skull t-shirt right?"

    That 'bane of necks' site does illustrate that she can be a bit percussive though. But all characters vary a bit over time and with different writers. Like the old Batman comics when he's happy to shoot people. And there's that cracked article listing some of Superman's more out of character moments.

    The trailers for the new film give me hope though. Obviously trailers can deceive, but they remind me very much of the Captain America film, which is probably my favourite of the modern superhero films (in that I could actually follow the plot for a start). I'm also secretly hoping for a Lynda Carter cameo, to make it perfect.

  23. My favourite modern hero film is X-Men: Days of Future Past. But I'm Team X-Men over Team Avengers all the way (can't wait to catch Logan on dvd, looks ace).

    To get back to journalism for a moment, I'm watching for the first time the first season of House of Cards US. As a big fan of the original it's fascinating how they've built a longer series on the skeleton provided by original and updated it from print journalism to political websites, blogging and a 24 hour news enviroment. Of course unfortunately I have a pretty good idea who is meant to be who and so am slightly spoiled as to who's going to cark it, but it's great stuff still.

  24. The only x men film I could vaguely follow was that one set during the Cuban missile crisis. With the rest I just get confused as to who's who. Mind you, I am someone who got confused by Transformers because I didn't realise there were two factions of robots.

    "Hang on, I thought the robots were on his side..." etc

    Watched the Punisher movie again the other night. I do like it. It's a nice simple plot but pans out well. It's a bit of a 'caper' movie really, like the Sting. But what particularly makes it work are the secondary characters like frank's neighbours. They're so endearing. It's a great dynamic with Frank and allows a more in depth analysis of his character, both within the film and externally.

    There have been some good films and TV that have adapted to modern media. There's sometimes a thing of jumping on a trend just to be topical, but then forcing a story round that as an afterthought. The Net, You've got mail etc. But when it's done right..

    (that point would be better made if I could think of some actual examples)

  25. That would be X-Men First Class, which was sort of a reboot with younger Magneto and Professor X. Days Of Future Past gave us them both as young and old versions. And Jennifer Lawrence painted blue. Lovely.

    I am obsessed with how technology is used in films and TV shows. I am pretty good at dating things thanks to the types of mobiles used. I managed to guess Final Destination 5 was a whole series prequel the minute one character pulled out a chunky green screen Motorola.

    While DMZ ran for seven years and has a bit of a fuzzy time setting, in volume ten its finally pinned down that Matty has spent three years in the DMZ, with the war having been going on for eight years in total starting not long after the war in Iraq began. I think we can gather that social media tech would probably be lagging behind our worlds take up of it due to the war, but much longer and it would have to have been dealt with so the series ending when it does makes sense.

  26. I saw the first few minutes of that time travel one. If I get a chance I'll check or out fully. I like Patrick Stewart and that McAvoy chap so it would be interesting to see them together. I've only really seem J-Law in hunger games. She seemed ok in that. I haven't seen any of her Oscar winning stuff but I can imagine she rises to the occasion. You can see her potential even in the YA context.

    That's a cool skill. My tank obsessed mate was encyclopedic on WW2 things. So you'd get a harumph and "that cap badge wasn't issued until two weeks after this is meant to be set".

    I used to be very good on the various AR15 models. If you know the various tweaks they did you can date them to a few years. Films usually get them wrong but there probably aren't that many people noting the shape of the muzzle brake.

  27. It is a fun skill, I like watching stuff like Star Trek TNG and going pshaw at the fact their computers although touch screen and in tablet form aren't networked and use a DOS interface. Very 80's and 90's. You get a lot of sci-fi futures with bulky CRT screens as well. Although I've always maintained the mobile phone allowed Scully to become such a strong character in the X-files. They didn't need to be together the whole time so she wasn't just nodding and being talked over by Mulder. She could get shit done on her own while they stayed in touch remotely.

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  30. I think DOS will make a comeback in the future; it's ace. Heh, I tried using a Visicalc emulator recently for some spreadsheets. I'll probably have to concede Excel is perhaps marginally easier. But I loved the old DOS programmes; especially as you could use the cursor keys to navigate.

    It's noteworthy that in 2001 they use flat screens. Which were quite tricky to simulate. But on 2010 it's apparently back to huge CRT monitors.

    A few years back we were watching some naff horror movie with my goddaughters and their friends. One of the Londoners made the point about the trope of their being no phone coverage when it's plot convenient.

    "Like, where can't you get a phone signal?"

    The Cornish kids just looked at her with incredulity.

    (At a particular pub I frequent people you have to climb on top of a huge wall to get a signal)

  31. I think yourcomputer burped a couple of times :)

    I must admit I never had much experience with DOS except for running PC games using the prompt before I transitioned to the much less headachey consoles for my gaming needs.

    And before that I mainly used BASIC then Macs until I got a PC of my own which had Windows 95. God I loved windows 95. It was so easy to use and I used to mess about a lot with it. I have Windows XP on my old desktop PC which I quite like, when I get the sound running on it again I'll keep it as a retro gaming PC for anything needing a mouse. I have Windows 10 on my laptop. Eh, its good but most of the bells and whistles are pretty pointless to me.

    Yeah it was always funny how reception would get lost at the most innoportune time. Fallen down a well? No reception for you Timmy, better rely on Lassie (even though Timmy never actually fell down a well).

  32. Oops, I'll delete some of those.

    You seen the cyanide & happiness cartoon where it transpires Lassie is just pushing kids down a well?

    DOS was a bit weird. The way it could only address 640k directly so using extra memory was all confusing. And having to make boot disks just get games to run. It was quite something when whichever iteration of windows it was allowed you to run DOS games in a window. Now I'm trying to remember which was the first game you could do that. But we actively went wow when you could run it at different sizes.

    I liked the practical programmes too. DOS databases and the like work pretty well because of the limitations of the graphics. Just a simpler layout and everything is rows and columns so it just seems 'neater'.

    I learned how to programme the Apollo computer the other week. It's like an old text based adventure game. You press the 'verb' button, then enter 0-99 which corresponds with an action (run, stop, display, calculate etc) then the 'noun' button that sets what the verb reacts to (fuel tank, engine, gimbal etc). It's actually really easy and intuitive to use. But often very technically advanced equipment has very simple interfaces; just look at the HUD on modern jet fighters. Mind you, the computer in the Vulcan bomber was mechanical and had a bicycle chain in it. Worked though.

  33. Simples...

  34. I have to admit bar writing some games on the BBC Micro in BASIC back at school I haven't really done much in the way of programming. I got pretty good at html but only got so far with the likes of Java before places like this offered up easy ways to make your own site as it were. So when the AOL servers shut down I never bothered to put my website back up again.

  35. I can (could?) programme in BASIC, but that's about it. Weird that back in the day kids could programme in assembly language and even directly in machine code. Luckily they then brought out compilers so you could write in BASIC and automatically convert to machine code. Then you could go "Ha, bet you're glad you spent 2 years doing computer studies O level now eh?" to your mates.

    The Apollo computer isn't really programming as such. It's more like setting a video. They could do updates from the ground though, so that's pretty cool. Basically that's how it worked. The spaceship was in constant communication with the ground. They had big computers at NASA (run by black ladies) who figured out all the maths, then they'd load the relevant bits of it into the Apollo computer's 48k memory. The tricky bit was a firing manoeuvre that occurred on the far side of the moon when they were out of contact.

    Are you familiar with the phrase "Set SCE to AUX" btw?

  36. Days of Future Past... I "love" how all adaptations feel the need to make it dude centric and eliminate the downer ending. :P

    Yeah, X-Men (Claremont's run) was the (American) comicbook of my teen years because that was actually published in my language back in the day (that and Spider-Man and later an "anthology" title. I've no clue what if anything we had from DC). As currently stands, I... I don't want to interact with most of the X-comic fandom. :/

    Computers. I'm currently using a laptop with Mageia Linux 5.1. I'm a neeeeerd apparently. (And given where I live I got several offers that they'll pirate Windows for me. Um... I could do that myself if I really wanted to, but thanks, I guess. ^^;) As a kid I could program in BASIC, and PASCAL, in college I got into a bit of Java (not script), and some html and SQL scripting. I generally say I know enough to barely communicate with actual programmers. :)

  37. I forgot. I hope the Wonder Woman movie will be good. I mean I don't have much attachment to the character* but still, if it's bad that would be yet again blamed on the female main character not whatever failings the movie might have. :/

    * I mean my biggest exposure was seeing some of the old TV series from the 70s... on German satellite channels as a teen, and barely understanding anything from it because it was in German.

  38. Nowadays I'm mainly using an iPad and an Android phone, but for when I do have to use computers I carry a thumb drive with Ubuntu on it. I just prefer the interface on that and I also prefer Ubuntu's office suite. It's a bit more user friendly to me, possibly because it resembles Microsoft Office from when I first used it.

    I'm curious about the xmen fandom thing. Please don't answer if it makes you uncomfortable. Just wondering what the issues are. It's interesting to me how fandoms have become so 'serious'. Obviously when I was a kid there was stuff we liked. Plenty of Dr Who fans for example, but it was just like an enjoyment of something. We might discuss the pros and cons of a show and have preferences about actors or stories; but it wasn't an identity. So the passion with which some fans of modern media hold views is a bit bewildering to me.

  39. "Ubuntu's office suite" ... Libre Office? That's generally what most current Linux distributions use as default. ^^;

    Okay... I'll try to explain the x-men fandom thing. I'm not sure I'll succeed. ^^;

    Background first! For decades the X-Men was the flagship franchise of Marvel comics with a dozen or more titles running at the same time and all. Now I'm sure you're familiar with the movie rights thing (Fox owns the mutants etc). Nothing much changed for a while mind you, until Marvel Studios started the MCU which predictably had an effect on other Marvel media like comics and merchandising. Things in the MCU got a push, stuff not in it lost prominence to varying degree.

    And now to the fandom! To say that the X-Men fans didn't take this well is possibly the understatement of the century and the think pieces fanning their wounded ego for clicks probably didn't help one bit. Paranoid conspiracy theories were born that all mutants will be killed off* and replaced by the InHumans**. They hated on everybody who they perceived to get what they felt entitled to***. And basically acted like spoiled brats / entitled assholes. My favorite were the fans that went "HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO AN OPPRESSED MINORITY!!". I backed away slowly at that point. I'm reasonably convinced they think they are fighting the MAN (corporate overlords whatnot), but in practice... :/

    * Realistically that might happen (and actually happened) to Thor with his one book, not to the X-Men with their 5+.
    ** Despite this not being in any way shape and form feasible. InHumans at their biggest push didn't have 5 books, how could that line ever replace... *grumble*
    *** Especially InHumnas, and anybody daring to like the InHumans. But I got virtually yelled at for stuff like suggesting that maybe virtually yelling in my ear wont endear me to their cause.

  40. I'm reasonably convinced that almost nobody would give a crap about poor InHumans ( ) if the X-Men fans wouldn't make such a big deal about them. I mean I certainly wouldn't at least. ^^;

  41. Yep, that's the one. Libre is, I find, very elegant and ergonomic.

    Thanks for the marvel info. I checked the wiki. So inhumans are like a separate (sub?) species of human who've been lurking in the background throughout history. And xmen are regular humans but with a particular gene switched on. I've learned through this blog the various ways that x gene has been accounted for. I suppose an extraterrestrial tinkering origin isn't that far fetched in the grand scheme of things.

    But fans and ownership. I've mentioned before that I can understand getting attached to characters. But it's the fanaticism and gatekeeping that bewilders me. Still, I suppose it's analogous to football. The fans are obsessive about the team but most players would swap sides tomorrow if they got a good enough offer.

  42. Extraterrestrial tinkering actually seems to be at the core of most superpowers in the Marvel universe if you dig deep enough. Everything this side of Iron Man's battle armor was explained by ALIENS and/or Magic Beings at one point or another. (Eternals? The Celestials did it. Deviants? The Celestials did it. Inhumans? The Kree did it. Magic? Magic beings did it. Power Pack? The Kymellians did it. X-gene? I dunno but at this point the Celestials seem to be a good bet. And so forth. :3)

    In the case of the X-Men there is also some strange confusion of contents and books. I mean yeah, the mutants are historically seen as metaphors of oppressed minorities... but for some people it doesn't seem to compute that this doesn't mean that the X-Men as a line was somehow an underdog. (Actually quite the opposite.) So apparently losing prominence felt doubly like "oppression".

    I had so many arguments that basically went like this:

    - "But my X-Men favorites aren't in books, and games, and when they're don't get the best writers ever, and I want them in the MCU!"
    - "So? Just like Young Avengers, Runaways, Power Pack... I can continue. Welcome to the club."
    - "O.o You DO know it's fiction right?"

  43. I've noticed in the recent films that everything seems to be related to those cosmic Rubik Cubes (I used that reference just for you). I suppose there's bound to be multiple interpretations in a universe that has functional magic and deities. Clarke's Third Law and all that.

    The favourite character thing crops up a bit in Dr Who fandom (the only one I'm really familiar with). Personally I think the show runners get the balance about right but being respectful to old characters and plots (they are fans themselves) but not alienating new viewers by requiring an in depth knowledge of the 54 year history of the show to know what's going on. That 'lock out' was a big problem in the 80s and probably contributed a lot to the demise of the series. Of course it's perhaps easier in these days of DVDs and Internet archives for the commited new fan to explore the history of a series if they should so wish.

    Oppression of fictional characters is an interesting concept. I can understand legitimate concerns about representation. But I'm not sure that Luke Cage not getting his own TV series is necessarily discrimination.

  44. Thanks. XD Yeah. The MCU seems to relate back everything to the Infinity Gems. The Ultimate Marvel comics lead everything back to the Super Solder project that created Captain America. The Earth X comics the Celestials. etc. :)

    Luke Cage has a Netflix series. :) Generally the MCU seems to be more diverse on the "TV" side of things. In the comics? That's currently thorny (the editors said a whole bunch of stupid things fairly recently). But generally speaking the lower profile books tend to be more diverse. (I love the current Ultimates comic. It has some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe and has no white dude on the roster... except maybe if you count Galactus.)

  45. Um. Because Marvel comics has an unfortunate tendency to reuse titles. I mean this Ultimates:
    (Got a relaunch "thanks" to Civil War II)

  46. Ah that's cool for Luke. Does that tie in with the Jessica Jones series?

    The whole reboot/different continuity thing is somewhat alien to much British comics background. The first time I encountered it was when 2000AD rebooted the Rogue Trooper series. But that just confused everyone so in the end they had to find a way of reconciling the two series (although there was an interim series that was really good, took the story in a completely new direction. That might be where the reboot went wrong. It was too similar to the original). There was also controversy when they tried to suggest previous strontium dog tales were Apocryphal. So generally English sensibilities have usually been about continuity. Which means Dredd is pushing 80 now!

  47. Yes. It does. And at least 4 (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist) of the Marvel Netflix shows will lead into a 5th one where they team up to form the Defenders. (I still think Defenders should be Doctor Strange, Valkyrie, and Hulk, but nobody listens to me. ^^;)

    Neither were reboots more alternate universes. All part of the Marvel Multiverse, which basically owes it's existence to Captain Britain and generally the Marvel UK imprint. ^^;

  48. To make things worse a lot of Marvel UK stuff is trapped in a licensing hell so if anybody would want to get their hand on it legally (for example to research the early Marvel multiverse stuff)... well, good luck. :/

  49. To me the Hulk always conjours up that sad music at the end of the 70s TV series. Don't know if you got to see that. The one with Bill Bixby. Now I'm a Valkyrie fan though thanks to you, I'd know *two* of the characters.

  50. I do not.

    But I like early Defenders. I mean come on :D :

  51. Where does Hulk keep his money?! He doesn't have any pockets. And Valkyrie's outfit doesn't seem eminently practical in that regard either.

    That's a lovely little strip though.

  52. *sniffle*

  53. The lack of pockets was the seed that grew into the 90s "all the pouches!" trend! (I'm only half joking. One of the designers of Longshot (one of the first characters with the many pouches approach) said he put all the pouches on the design to explain where the character kept his stuff like change or paper tissues.)

  54. One thing I find weird about girls' trousers is how often the pockets are actually pretend*. Is that a conspiracy by handbag manufacturers?

    (* usually when Im saying "can I just leave the car keys with you")

  55. They did manage to pluck The Moore and predecessors Captain Britain runs out of licesnsing hell, and that was the place the 616 Universe got named so I am sure they could work out some more deals with Marvel UK. I'd just like the complete run of Death's Head myself.

  56. I heard Marvel published a whole bigass trade of the Frontier Comics Marvel UK sub-imprint last year. So I'm guessing the freeing stuff from licensing hell is work in progress. ^^;