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The plans of mice and men

usagionshelfwith2volsY’know….when the year was dawning, 5/6 weeks ago…I hastily rushed into a couple things.

One was a “to-be-read” book challenge—I assembled a list of twelve books I’ve been meaning to read, and the goal is to get through those by the end of 2011. An “alternates” list is allowed, which I also maxed out at 12 books. The year is still young—it only took one full month to get through my first book, and I’m already into a second book—which I didn’t even realize was going to exist. Meanwhile, I’m about 1/3 into the audiobook version of one of my alternates.

buffyssn1The other thing was something I’d heard about from several podcasts the last several years—to “adopt” a character. I decided to do so with Usagi Yojimbo, having intended for ages to read and learn more about the character, but never quite getting myself around to it.

Then as the year actually dawned, I realized multiple seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were on Netflix streaming.

Thought about picking up where I’d left off 5 1/2 years earlier at the end of the first season, but opted to just start fresh at the beginning. Some idle curiosity combined with some casual checking out, and I found myself quickly drawn into the show.

buffythevampireslayerseasoneight001Tonight, I finished the 3rd season; meaning I’ve averaged about half a season per week. Of course, I’m now to the point where Angel spun off into his own show, and the question becomes: do I simply continue on through Buffy, and then double back to watch Angel…or do I flip back and forth and attempt to follow both series simultaneously, the way they originally aired?

And as I realize how much time I’ve spent…Usagi sits on the shelf, and it seems that I’ve in many ways “adopted” Buffy as a character to focus on this year.

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Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Meeting of the Minds

The Leader and his group of intellectual villains work behind the scenes through Marvel’s history to assemble the lost knowledge of the Library of Alexandria.

fallofthehulksalphaWriter: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: Guru eFX
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Dave Stewart
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Nathan Cosby
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this issue, except perhaps a jumping-on point in preparation for the coming Fall of the Hulks "event." What I did not expect was what seems to essentially be an "Illuminati" of intellectual Marvel villains and their "backstory" throughout Marvel’s past.

This issue basically follows The Leader, M.O.D.O.K., Egghead, The Wizard, The Mad Thinker, The Red Ghost, and Dr. Doom as they assemble the contents of the formerly-believed-lost contents of the Library of Alexandria through the years. Their first mission is an incursion into the home of the Eternals. Here the protagonists discover there are other locations around the planet with further Alexandrian contents, including Wakanda and Atlantis. Bucking the silver Age trend of simplicity, here we see that it takes months and years for the protagonists to prepare to actually launch a mission to gain the knowledge they’re after, as well as the explanation that allows for what we’ve already seen in the last half-decade of continuity regarding these characters. As the issue closes out, we get some info regarding the Red Hulk, which actually intrigues me after never before this having any interest in even the concept of that character.

The story is pretty good in and of itself. It’s not spectacular, and I’m not a huge fan of retcons…but for my understanding of things, the backstory that is here inserted into existing continuity seems to work. Additionally, I feel like I have a better understanding of who The Leader and The Red Ghost are now than I ever did before.
The art is also quite solid…while keeping its own feel, it also evokes some of the feeling of the different eras the story touches upon.

Though I came to the issue familiar with little more than the characters’ names and visual representations (excepting Dr. Doom), everyone was quite recognizable, and I really enjoyed the visuals.
Even though I’ve not followed the Hulk side of the Marvel Universe since World War Hulk ended, I still really enjoyed this issue and found that I didn’t need to know recent events. I’ve often enjoyed stories that flesh out villain characters and give them depth and motivation, and true explanation for why they would door act as they do, and this is one such issue.

I expect this is little more than set-up in the grand scheme of things, but if you want a Leader story involving a teaming-up of supervillains (including death and betrayal) reminiscent of 1980s stories but with a modern feel, this is a great issue for that.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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