20.8.14

The Two-Hundred-First Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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A full-sized devil with no corresponding angel? Man, Hustace didn't stand a chance.

13.8.14

The Two-Hundredth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

What's the best part about this? The comma in the headline? The reference to a handlebar-mustachioed boxer from the 1880s? The fact that the newspaper is the "Daily Morgue"?

Obviously, the answer is 'everything'. Everything is the best part.

12.8.14

The Hidden Hand: Alien Contact and Government Coverups "Review"

I watched this documentary the other day, and found it to be lacking in any sort of clear narrative whatsoever. It's nothing more than a series of often-contradictory testimonials from a series of interviewees of vastly differing credibility levels. I mention it here because I noticed two interesting things while watching it.

Thing Number 1-

If you took the audio of a group of people talking about the PTSD effects of being abducted by aliens, then removed all of the mentions of aliens, and just left in about how it's impacted their lives, it would be indistinguishable from the audio of a group of child molestation survivors.

Thing Number 2-

The photo that the filmmakers used to represent 'Men in Black'

Is pretty clearly two guys cosplaying as the Blues Brothers.

9.8.14

Criminal Minds 804: God Complex

In the background, a slight beeping. In the foreground, a person on a makeshift operating table. This probably won't go well for the patient, who's just coming out of sedation. He sits up and looks around, noticing that his arms aren't strapped down at all, he has a chance to take out the oxygen tube going to his nose. Troublingly, a dotted line has been drawn on his right leg, noting the optimal place for amputation. Before he can decide how he feels about any of this, the 'doctor' comes in and is surprised-

Wait, is that Ray Wise? How weird would it be if I could recognize Ray Wise by that little of his face? No, more likely it's just a guy who looks like Ray Wise.

Where was I? Right, the doctor and patient look at each other for a moment, then start fighting. Doc is able to overpower the still-groggy patient, then uses a mask to knock him out. We cut to him sometime later, waking up in a hotel room, missing a leg! For a second there, I thought he was just having nightmare about something that happened a while ago, but no - this is a fresh amputation!

Then we stop by DC, where Reid is on a payphone that's attached to absolutely nothing. Check it out.


No wires of any kind. How is he making a phone call? Also, can we pause for a second to feel sorry for whosever job it was to create the pretense that this shot was occurring in DC? 'Oh, we'll just put the Washington Monument in the background, that'll make it look right, won't it? Sure it will - unless you were to, say, completely mess up the transparency of the various layers while doing it, and made that phone line mysteriously disappear. Also, why did you leave in that 15-story apartment building in the background? Do you know noting about DC architecture? This is like the palm trees at the DC train station, or the time you could see the side of a soundstage in the 'French Quarter'. Come on guys, you're being paid money to do a job. A little less half-assing, please?

So, the phone call -   Reid dials a number, it beeps once, and he hangs up. Then he pulls out a copy of
'The Sign of Four' and resumes reading it-


Although that book seems really thick to just be 'The Sign of Four'. Is he reading in super-large print because of those mysterious headaches that were never explained/resolved?

The pay phone then rings and Reid answers it - can you call a payphone? I'd guess he's using some phone-phreak style workaround. Anyhow, on the line is a woman who's puzzled because they normally talk on Sundays. Does Reid have a secret girlfriend? They talk about his headaches, which seems to have gone altogether (thanks for the resolution, show!), and generally seem to enjoy chatting.

I'm distracted by the fact that in the tracking shot of Reid, despite the fact that we're moving just a few feet parallel to it, the Washington Monument has massively shrunk-


And although you can't see it in still photos, the graphics people couldn't get it to move at the same rate as the camera, so there's a stutter to its movements. But enough nitpickery, back to Reid and his lady-friend! Also apparently the 15-story apartment building is fake as well, given how much it's moved. I'm sure the clock tower isn't real either, even though it remains fairly consistent.

The show refuses to let us see what phone lady looks like, other than that she has long brown hair. Apparently they've been talking on the phone for six months, but have no idea what each other look like. She is consulting on his condition somehow, because he sent her the MRI of his brain. Then they tell each other to 'be safe', and talk about the possibility that someone 'knows about them'. Does she have a husband who's weirdly protective? Is that who was photographing the team in the season opener? Are none of these things connected at all?

Let's find out together!

In the office, Garcia presents the case- they're going to New Mexico, where someone is snatching guys, cutting off their right legs, and then letting them go! One in a motel, the other, who died in the procedure, was 'let go' in a ditch across the border. How the heck did a guy smuggle a one-legged and sedated man into a hotel without being noticed?

Derek asks if this is drug related, what with it being in cartel country, but Garcia claims that both victims said they had no involvement. Which is a weird thing for her to offer, considering that one of the victims is a decomposed corpse.

Alex says that since both legs were severed and then professionally sutured, they must be looking for a doctor. This causes Joe to say 'That's a first.', which makes me sad.

First off, this wouldn't be the first serial killing doctor ever. More importantly, you don't need to be a doctor to be able to amputate a limb and sew it shut. Nurses or EMTs should have all the skills necessary. Reid points out that the 'surgeon' didn't even do that good a job, and he's more accurately referred to as a 'butcher'. Good, although it might have been neat if Reid had said 'barber', referring to the medieval practice of guesswork-based surgery.

Meanwhile, the killer is dragging another victim out of an ambulance as the groggy man asks what's happening. The killer responds, and based on his voice I can confirm that yes, it is Ray Wise, who I can apparently recognize based solely on his eyes, forehead, and a bit of his hair. Weird.


8.8.14

Criminal Minds 803: Through the Looking Glass

Things jump off in a hurry this week, as an evil scarecrow watches some road workers gather pylons from a freshly-maintained stretch of the highway.
Scarecrow tells the two men that 'something awful happened' by the trailhead, and 'someone's been a real bad boy'. Oh, and he's covered in blood. Instead of immediately calling the cops to deal with the situation, they go down to check on it themselves, and find three bodies, along with the gun that presumably killed them. It's only then that they decide to call the police and secure the scarecrow, who they left at the side of the road. Wouldn't you know it, though - he's nowhere to be found.

How is a blood-covered guy turning up spouting gibberish not reason enough to call the cops? You know, had the guy not had blood on him, these guys' actions would seem less insane.

Then it's over to DC, where Greg is coaching his son at soccer, when his girlfriend drops by! They have to talk about a 'thing' tonight, but Greg has to go off and solve a murder, so she'll have to give him the news now - she's got a job offer in New York! Could this be the end of their relationship?

At the meeting, we discover that the three bodies were members of a missing family - could this be a standard family annihilator? All signs point to no - the gunpowder residue was on the dad's wrong hand, the youngest son is missing... most importantly, why bring your family out into the woods to shoot them, when you could just kill them in their beds while they slept? Garcia also mentions that the gun was 'unregistered', but I'm not sure what she means by that. Whether or not they live in a state where you have to register handguns (it's Kansas, and I have no idea what things are like there), the gun still must have a serial number, and therefore its purchase record should be relatively easy to track down.

Greg gets a call - a second family matching the first one's demographics (mother, father, teen daughter, young son) has just disappeared! We then cut away to said family, and discover that the killer's M.O. is to contain them in a old-timey rec room basement before killing them!


Before you ask, no, that window isn't cemented over, so I don't know why they aren't already smashing the hell out of it.

On the plane, Garcia drops more background - the families are of a similar class, and both sons are shy and isolated, which could make them prime targets for molesters! Also, she's already referring to the new family in the past tense, which isn't cool, Penelope.

6.8.14

The Hundred Ninety-Ninth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics


Rule 1 for Axis Spies: Don't wear a monocle while undercover.
Rule 2 for Axis Spies: If you must wear a monocle, at least don't swear in your native language.
Rule 3 for Axis Spies: If you must wear a monocle, and you can't stop from swearing in your native language, please don't act surprised when a man with an inconceivably square jaw punches you in face.

1.8.14

Criminal Minds 802: The Pact

It's San Diego, California, and we're deep in the land of pool parties and toy poodles. A husband and wife are fighting about something trivial, which is just a microcosm for their relationship troubles - just as husband leaves the room, wife gets a text about an illicit assignation! Wow, lucky she didn't get that text literally one second earlier, or she may have had to have come up with a story! Wife jumps into her car and drives to another part of town, where someone sneaks up behind her and hits her with a bat!

Well, okay, technically swings a bat nowhere near her if you're watching frame-by-frame to get a screengrab, but still, it's shocking! The killer attaches the woman's dead body to the back of his(her?) car with chains and then drives off, proving both a sadistic intent to mutilate a corpse, and that they're apparently in a part of town so dead that absolutely no one would notice that, somehow.

Over at Quantico Garcia is trying to convince Joe to take his 30 vacation days before they expire, and the team debates the best possible destination for him. Joe claims that he doesn't want a vacation at all, but I think the guy desperately needs one. After all, he already can't take his birthday off, what with having to visit that serial killer - when else is he going to get a break? In the end, Alex suggests that he donate the days to an FBI agent who needs it more than he does. Which is a thing you can do, apparently? Just give someone your vacation days? I've never heard of that before.

Then Greg arrives to run down the case, and we discover that two victims were killed the same way that night, one in San Diego, and another in LA! Each one was texting with someone who was using a disposable cell phone (how are those legal again?), went to meet them, and then was knocked out and dragged to their deaths!

Okay, first off, how did it take the dragging to kill them? They got hit in the head with a baseball bat. That doesn't seem super-survivable. Also, how did no one notice this happening twice in the same night? Are the streets in either one of those cities so empty at night that you wouldn't notice someone dragging a corpse a few blocks?

It's pointed out that dragging people behind cars is generally associated with hate crimes, but since the people killed were white and straight, there doesn't seem to be a clear connection. Unless, of course, the killer didn't know them well enough to guess their sexual orientation. Reid pipes up with the utterly useless bit of trivia that in Ye Olde Englande, drawing someone behind a horse was the first part of a punishment that involved disembowelment, beheading, and quartering. So thanks for that.

Then the team is off to the plane, making me wonder once again why they couldn't have just had this conversation on the flight, what with them dealing with a spree killer and all.

Criminal Minds 801: The Silencer

Okay, I've been out of the game for a little while, so I'm not entirely sure what it means when the season of Criminal Minds opens at a Texas prison in the middle of the night. Are we starting with an execution? A prison break? An execution turning into a prison break? Maybe someone's last words before being executed creates a new case? In any event, people aren't here for my guessing, so let's get on with the story!

In the prison infirmary a shaking man is strapped to a gurney so that he can be brought out to an ambulance for transfer. During this sequence somebody attached a GoPro to the leg of the gurney, solely because they wanted to play with one, and had to justify buying it using the show's money. Seriously, look at this shot, and tell me what it's doing there-



The shaking man is loaded into an ambulance, where it's established that he has no history of epilepsy. The guard seems weirdly bored by the whole process. Either the guy's got a serious medical condition to be suddenly be having seizures with no history of epilepsy, or he's faking to try and screw with you/escape. In either event, boredom should not be your response.

Out on the road, the paramedic diagnoses the villain's problem as a severe allergic reaction, which the guard thinks was self-induced. They have a debate over whether they should bother saving a mass-murderer's life, but before they can come to a conclusion a deer steps into the road-

 And the ambulance driver decides to risk all of their lives in the hopes of saving it. Is this his fist time driving a car? I know it's sad, but the first rule of animals in the road is that their lives are worth less than yours. He drives professionally along rural highways and somehow does not know this.

So off the road the ambulance goes, freeing the killer like Michael Myers in Halloween 4. I'm going to assume that the gurney was damaged in the crash, since the killer is able to just wrestle the bars that he's handcuffed to loose without much effort. Everyone but the guard is dead from the crash, and when he sees that the killer has gotten loose and grabbed his gun, he tries to talk the guy out of doing anything crazy. Amazingly, it looks like this is going to work for a second when the killer puts the gun down, but then it just turns out that he wanted to kill the guard with his bare hands. Hilarious.

Over at Quantico, Garcia and Derek are returning from a trip to England to consult on cases/visit with Emily. And they brought presents for everyone! As she and Derek debate who gets what, we learn that she's not talking to Xander right now, which is crazy! Didn't they get along really well when they were stopping that mad bomber together? Why can't those two crazy kids make things work?

Everyone talks about the new woman on the team (Jeanne Tripplehorn!), including Garcia dumping a huge amount of exposition about the character's backstory. None of it is important, but I'll point out two hilarious bits anyhow. 1 - She wonders if because the new agent is a Linguistics Professor she'll have to call her 'doctor'. Which is hilarious because Reid already does that, and it would be great if there were two low-self-esteem headcases on the team. 2 - She refers to the new agent as the star of the Unabomber case, which I suppose means that she was the one who was working the phone bank when the Unabomber's brother phoned to tell them who the killer was?

Then something amazing happens while the show is doing the whole 'person they're talking about is behind them' bit. It's so great that I'm just going to put it here - a second video before the credits!



That's right, she's a linguistics prof who can spout the etymology of 'nice', but has no idea how to say the word 'adjective'. Priceless.

Also, the character's name is 'Alex Blake', which I'm going to be using from now on, because it's a shorter word to write than 'Jeanne'.

Is every line of dialogue going to be this bad? Derek asks Alex about the Seattle case they're returning from, and she responds that he made 'Ridgeway look like a saint'. I know she's trying to be colourful, but we're really supposed to believe that the killer was on the scale of someone with 50 bodies to his name?

Time for the new case! Greg breaks it down for them - the killer is on the run with an EMT uniform and a guard's gun! So why is this a case for the BSU rather than Federal Marshals? This photo-


It seems that sewing a guy's mouth shut is the 'signature' of the 'Silencer', a serial killer who went dormant back in 2004 - he was caught by police on an unrelated charge, and has been in jail, refusing to talk ever since! So all through police processing, killing people in jail, he never said a word. Strange. Reid suggests it could be something he was trained to do, which is a decent theory. Perhaps they could look into child abuse cases with eerily silent children from 30-40 years earlier?

As everyone else leaves the room Strauss, whose presence in the scene puzzled me until just now, sidelines Alex to talk about her joining the team. Apparently they have some history, although the nature of it is going to be nebulous for now.

And then it's time for the opening credits? That's really the note you're ending the act on? Weird.

Criminal Minds - Season 7 Recap!

So that was Season 7 of Criminal Minds. Lots of nonsense, plenty of terrible policing, and a few genuinely offensive episodes! Also, let's not forget that the actual Devil made an appearance, marking the second time he's dropped by the show!

I'm not here to talk about super-awkward appearances by malicious spirits, though - I'm here to judge the profiling content of a show purportedly about that!

This season Criminal Minds has 24 episodes. There was one two-parter, giving us a total of 23 gradable criminal investigations.

The total profiling score for the year was 43/230, or 18%. For those keeping track - yes, that's the lowest score a season of the show has ever received, which just goes to show how little effort the producers are putting in. I'm not saying the show is on auto-pilot, but there were two separate episodes (which aired back-to-back!) in which the team had no involvement in resolving the storyline. Whether we're talking about a boxer killing random people and then getting hospitalized, or a murderous dad falling into a punji trap, two times this year the score hovered around zero.

I was actually challenged in trying to come up with a 'best' episode this year, from a psychological standpoint, not because there wasn't an episode that dealt extensively with the use of psychology in criminal investigations, but because that episode, 'Foundation', didn't actually require that the team 'solve' anything. They had an escaped victim who knew everything, and a woman ready to accuse her father of mass murder, all that was required of them was some impromptu counseling to make the two characters comfortable enough to give them solid evidence. So I'll admit that having psychologists hanging around can absolutely be useful, so long as you already know who did it.

Next up is season 8! Who will replace Emily? Will Gubler direct another episode? We're surrounded by mysteries I can't wait to get to the bottom of! Which will require actually watching episodes! So I guess I'll go and do that!

30.7.14

The Hundred Ninety-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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The Spirit may not always have the best plans, but they're always innovatively-rendered.

23.7.14

The Hundred Ninety-Seventh Greatest Panel in the History of Comics


Not exactly a true mindbender, but for a non-spirit comic in 1943, this is pretty great.

16.7.14

The Hundred Ninety-Sixth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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I'm a little confused here - was 'gremlin' not a well-known turn in 1943? Isn't this basically the perfect depiction of what a gremlin is/does?

Or did they throw 'saboteur' in there for the war connection?

11.7.14

Adventures in Fake Journalism: Seven Psychopaths

Late in wonderful film Seven Psychopaths, there's a fake newspaper - so let's take a look at it!

Actor Sought in Fifth 'Jack of Diamonds' Slaying
By James Ulberg
Staff Writer

HOLLYWOOD HILLS, CA - Authorities are searching for Billy Bickle, 39, as the primary suspect in the "Jack of Diamonds" killings that have plagued the Los Angeles Area in the past ten days.

9.7.14

The Hundred Ninety-Fifth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics


He was wearing a rubber mask on top of his glasses.

That's incredible.

8.7.14

Also, the JSA!

Remember when I was going on and on about what a Hypocrite Batman was for killing all those Man-Bats? Well it turns out that the Justice League wanted to get in on that action, massacring all of the bio-borgs they could in the movie JLA: War!

In order, that's Superman slicing people to death with eyebeams, Green Lantern shooting them with imaginary bullets, and, of course, Batman about to detonate the skull of a bio-borg.

And before you jump in and say 'but bio-borgs aren't human, it doesn't matter if someone kills them', remember that the JLA is made up of an alien, a god, a magic man, two powered humans, one rich human, and a human working for an intergalactic police organization. Are they really only about preserving Earthbound human life?

Let's not forget that one of the JLA members is a cyborg, his body used as raw building material to create a super-soldier of unimaginable power - which (spoiler alert) is the same origin as Darkseid's bio-borgs.

Does this mean it's peachy-keen to kill Cyborg, and no one should feel bad about doing so?

What is your morality, JLA, and why didn't helping out the Bio-Borgs even occur to you for one second? Do you think they like working for Darkseid? No one does. He's a terrible boss.

None of this would bother me in the least if five seconds later all of you didn't get so wishy-washy about killing Doctors Light and Psycho.