Thirtieth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Oh, Captain Marvel-

(click to bigify!)

Why must you dance so elegantly around giving us the answers you know we crave? Answer me, dammit, would you have supported Hilary or not?

Of course, we already know how you feel about capital punishment, what with the way you made sure that alien inchworm was sentenced to death that one time.

Also, for the record, this story was set at the North Pole. So... yeah.


The Walking Dead Persists in Disappointing

So anyway, I watched the rest of this week's The Walking Dead and... well, yikes.

On last week's Avod the DiveMistress and myself got into a discussion about how terrible The Walking Dead's second episode was - most notably because of the character of Merle, the racist sexist violent redneck stereotype who everyone left to die on the top of the building. This week opens well, with a glance at Michael Rooker's desperate struggle for survival, in which he proves more intelligent than either character in the film Saw:

By using his clothes to grab the item of his salvation. Which would lead me to give the character (and by extension, the writers) a lot of credit. If the next scene featuring Merle's predicament wasn't so ungodly stupid. Here, in three images, is the crux of that stupidity:

This is, of course, a reference to Saw/Watchmen/Mad Max. So let's see just what The Walking Dead got wrong by taking a look at those scenes, shall we?


Criminal Minds Season 3 Recap!

Another season of Criminal Minds down! Some high highs this year, with the arrival of Joe Mantegna livening up the show a little, and the team finally battling that satanist they'd been itching to match wits with since "The Popular Kids" back in season 1.

The lows were especially low, however - between the show robbing us of our Santa-themed killer and the trip down bondage and child molestation lane, there was a glut of especially contemptible content this year.

Of course, we're not here to wallow in nostalgia - let's examine the only hard-and-fast metric ever designed to judge the relative psychologicality of Criminal Minds storylines!

Due to the writer’s strike there were just 20 episodes this year, featuring a total of 21 serial killers. The season didn't feature a two-parter, and while Penelope's shooting did occur over two episodes, the solving of it was featured entirely in episode nine, so I've counted their investigation there.

The total profiling score for the year was 50/210, or 24%. While this is up from last year's 20%, it's still lower than the series high-score of 25% in the first season.

Picking this year's best psychological writing was simple enough - it was the one time an episode climbed over five. Its inclusion is a little on the questionable side, though, because, much as in 'Riding the Lightning', in this particular case a crime wasn't actually solved. When we're introduced to the killer in question, he's already on Death Row, in the middle of a plan to have his execution delayed by adding a few more names to his list. When Reid stopped him with an impromptu profile, I decided to count it as 'solving' the case, despite the lack of mystery. Hell, it doesn't even really count as difficult profiling, because Reid wasn't actually using evidence to reverse-engineer a portrait of a killer, he was merely explaining how the killer's insanely bad childhood led him inexorably to murder - a task that was made immeasurably easier by the fact that he had access to the killer's entire life story.

It was much harder to decide on the worst showing for the profilers this year - beyond the now-standard format of most cases being solved by completely traditional policework, this season offered a shocking number of examples where the team had almost no measurable impact on the investigation. Where things would have turned out essentially the same had they remained in their comfortable chairs back at Quantico. Of all of those failures, though, one stands out above the rest. In the episode 3rd life, not only did the team fail to catch the culprit, they were beat to it by a mob hitman, who was trying to rescue his daughter from a group of vicious rapist/murderers.

When criminals are doing a better job of catching serial killers than the FBI, it might be time to turn in your badges, guys.


The Walking Dead is Also Poorly-Written

Here's a question I'd like to pose: if bad writing from the source material has been preserved in the finished product, is that better or worse than something just being badly written? Does faithfulness to the source material excuse the stupidity, or does the fact that years have passed without anyone noticing the problem, or bothering to fix it if they did, make the mistake even more contemptible?

I'm referring, of course, to the big reunion scene from episode 3 of The Walking Dead (it appeared in issue 2 of the comic).

That's TVRick, gleeful to discover that his family has survived.

This, of course, is comic Rick at the same moment.

What's wrong with both of these scenes? Simply that, while Rick's surprise at discovering that his family is alive is heartwarming (and needlessly profane, in one redacted case) it could not have happened this way in the context of either story.


The Walking Dead is Weird, Huh?

So I'm watching The Walking Dead, and being mildly diverted when I'm not getting angry, then suddenly I hear the oddest thing. Take a look at this brief sequence, where Rick shoots a zombie outside the police station, ensuring that Lennie James and his son will no longer be able to use it as a hideout:

Did you hear it? Buried under the sound of the chain-link fence is something that should be familiar to everyone who owns an Xbox 360.

Yup - it's definitely the 'achievement unlocked' sound effect.

Easter egg by the producers? Playful sound technician just dropping it in and hoping that no one would notice? You be the judge, because I've been too judge-y lately!


The Twenty-Ninth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

I’ve learned some amazing things while reading comics for this series, but this panel taught me one of the most fascinating:

It seems irony wasn’t invented until sometime after 1948.


I Don’t Understand William Hurt’s Plan

When it was recently discussed on theAvod episode 85, the Divemistress and myself were careful not to spoil all of the plot twists that the film ‘The 4th Floor’ had to offer. Unlike theAvod, though, Castle Vardulon is an all-spoiler zone, which makes this the perfect place to address the film’s unbelievably convoluted plot.

Actually, it’s not the plot that I must object to – it motors along effectively enough, propelled by the stupid, unbelievable decisions of the main character. No, my real questions are with the way the film collapses under the convolutions of its own logic once the second twist ending (William Hurt did it!) is revealed.

For most of the film’s running time every single character acts in a preposterously suspicious fashion. In practical terms this serves to create a spate of red herrings to distract the audience from the real killer, Juliette Lewis’ downstairs neighbour. Of course, since he’s the only character in the film who doesn’t act incredibly suspiciously (other than a Korean grocer), the attentive viewer will tap him as the murderer almost immediately, since he’s the only character for whom the revelation would be a (theoretical) surprise. The basic plot of how JL is terrorized and almost murdered by the man downstairs is serviceable enough, but then the twist appears, and when the rug of mystery is pulled away the rest of the film comes crashing down, the shoddily contrived construction being unable to support its weight.

Yes, the 4th floor is another one of those many, many movies that would have been far better if you’d just left off the final minute's ‘stinger’.


Criminal Minds 320: Lo-fi

It’s New York City! Who had NY in the poll? Anyhoo, the show opens on the busy streets, then moves down into the subway, where we a follow a suspicious bald man who seems nervous about cops. What’s he up to?

Oh, he’s getting murdered. Guess the show didn’t need to make him look so sinister after all, huh? The killer casually walks off after the crime, escaping any suspicion. A call to Greg reveals that this has been a pattern of identical crimes, and the team is being called in on it! This puts a crimp in JJ’s plans – Junior was coming up that weekend to visit her!

There have been five identical shootings over two weeks – in each case the killer simply walked up, shot someone in the head, then kept right on walking. No connections between the victims, no communication with the police… Reid points out that it’s just like the Son of Sam – and hopefully like that crime, there will be a random witness on the street who saw a creepy guy hanging around the scene of the murder!


Criminal Minds 319: Tabula Rasa

The episode opens, confusingly, with a flashback to 2004 – the team (sans Mandy), is attempting to catch a killer named Matlock in his apartment complex. I will continue calling him Matlock for obvious reasons. Derek is distracted momentarily by dreamcatcher, then chases Matlock out onto a roof. Matlock tries to jump for it-

But since he proves not to be a videogame character, he doesn’t make it to the other side. Derek, who certainly is a little more videogame-y, jumps to the other side successfully, but can’t grab Matlock’s hand before this happens:

We do a ‘life flashing before his eyes’ thing and then he splatters all over the pavement. He’s not dead, though, and for no good reason they call an ambulance to make sure he survives. Which means that in the present day (2008), he’s able to wake up for the trial. What’s the twist? He’s got total amnesia, and doesn’t remember being a serial killer! Will they be able to jog his memory and get him into jail? Find out after the credits!

But again, the answer will be yes. It’s a formula, people, and he’s no Keith Carradine.


The Twenty-Eighth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Water table pollution by industry is a big problem in the United States, and has been for for over a hundred years. But the effect of heavy metals and other commercial effluence on the human body can be confusing to children. Which is why comic book heroes wind up fighting...

And really, what could be scarier to children than that?