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

If you were completely incapable of drawing a hand clasping a tommygun, why did you put one at the front of the frame? Weren't things busy enough already?

Wow, I'm criticizing a subsistence-artist making war propaganda seventy-odd years ago. Weird that it's come to this.


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

I know I've been taken aback by some of the hard-core violence in these golden-age stories, but wow, that's nasty.


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

Am I still an internet pedant if the apostrophe mistake I'm criticizing is from a comic published seventy years ago? Of course, the answer is yes.


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

And that's why you don't trust the Pied Piper.

Wow, would that next panel prove to have some unfortunate connotations a few years later...


The Hundred Seventy-Fourth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

It's a wonder America had to bother fighting a war at all, what with the rate the Japanese were apparently offing themselves at.


Red John Countdown Time!

We're down to the wire now on the end of the Red John mystery, so I thought I'd take this moment to re-asses my theory in light of new evidence.

In episode five, we learned from a detective presumably hired by Red John the man has a tattoo of three dots on his left shoulder.
This seems like an easy way to narrow the suspect down to one, but unfortunately for Patrick, it turns out that three of the remaining suspects each have the tattoo.

What's the significance? Well, obviously since we saw all of them plotting together-

We can extrapolate that they're all members of the same fraternal order of corrupt police officers and public officials that we've been learning about this year. Which isn't a huge surprise, since Bertram already expressed a love for William Blake, and the organization is clearly a William Blake-themed club, what with all the Tyger, Tyger nonsense. Also, the next episode is called 'The Great Red Dragon'. So there's that.


How the trick is done!

So, as promised, here's an explanation of how Red John pulled the trick with his list, apparently proving that he had information that Jane didn't even have access to when the video was made. The show briefly raised the spectre of Red John being psychic, but we can dismiss that out of hand, since his plan to get information from Jane's psychiatrist proves he's working with realistic sources of information. So - how did he make his own version of the list six weeks before it existed? There's a clue in the lead-up to the reading of the list.


The Hundred Seventy-Second Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Isn't it about time that someone showed that Pied Piper a thing or two?


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

Nazi? Check.
Amazing mustache? Check.
Crazy mad scientist name? Check.
Plan to blow up New York? Check.

You might be my favorite new villain, Doctor Agony!


The Hundred Seventieth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

You know, I've seen fictional depictions of villains attempting to drop huge bags of sand on people hundreds of time throughout my life, but this may be the first time someone's actually been killed by one.


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

For a while there I was really enjoying the fact that Quicksilver was basically the only superhero who didn't have a racist sidekick. That was a nice few months.


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

Of all the crimes in the world, does robbing during a blackout deserve to be singled-out as particularly egregious?


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

This panel is being presented as a public service - if you ever need to see an ideal representation of the concept of the 'wealthy dowager' in her natural state of being offended by the lower classes, there you have it.


On the Subject of the West Wing

In its final season, the producers The West Wing made a daring formal decision. They decided that instead of running the season in something approaching real time, as most network shows do, the show would be set over the course of a single presidential campaign, following Bradley Whitford's attempt to get Jimmy Smits the Democratic Party nomination, and then a win in the general election. It was an interesting idea, and made for some decent drama at times, but at its core, it was misbegotten strategy if the producers' goal was to ensure an eighth season of the show.

At its core, The West Wing was a show about the adventures of President Martin Sheen and his staff. While Martin's storylines often took a back seat to the adventures of Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits in the seventh season, he was always there, dominating the credits and sitting in the Oval Office. By playing out the presidential election over the entire season, and delaying the inauguration until the very last episode, the producers created a logical stopping point for the show. It created the idea that the show was the story of Martin Sheen's presidency, and the moment that ended, there was no reason to continue watching it.

They didn't have to structure it that way. People enjoyed the format of The West Wing, and audiences have a history of liking Jimmy Smits. Would they have watched a show about president Jimmy Smits? I can't say for certain, but the producers never gave them the chance to decide. By saving the inauguration until the very end of the season, the producers effectively surrendered to the idea that the show had to end with Martin leaving office. By having no episodes with Jimmy Smits as president, they never made the argument for the existence of a show with that premise.


Adventures in Fake Journalism: The Mentalist 509

For a little more than half of Season 5, Patrick Jane spent the episodes making a list of everyone he'd ever shook hands with in the hopes of figuring out which of them may have been the notorious serial killer Red John. In episode 509 we got a peek at a couple of pages from the book, and it was an interestingly detailed piece of work, from a propmaking standpoint.

It reads-


Kevin Corrigan's interesting performance choice

There are any number of ways you may know Kevin Corrigan: Community's drama professor, one of the thugs in 7 Psychopaths, a rogue trader in the second season of not-very-good TV show 'Damages'... the man gets a lot of work. Most relevant to this week's posts, he plays Bob Kirkland, homeland security agent, on The Mentalist.

That's him justifying his inclusion on the Red John shortlist, even though he can't possibly belong on it.

I'm not here to rehash my criticism of that decision by the producers, however - I'm here to talk about Kevin Corrigan's extremely interesting choice in portraying the character as... actually, I don't want to spoil it. Watch these two clips, and then I'll explain what Kevin Corrigan was thinking when he decided to play Bob Kirkland this way.

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

Thank you for being the best trap ever, gun-inside-double-bass. Although, that the trap only works if the person playing it has the bridge pointed at their chest when they play a certain note would seem to be a key design flaw...


My crazy The Mentalist theory

With The Mentalist set to wrap up the whole Red John thing in the next three months, I thought it might be high time to reveal my crazy theory about the villain's backstory!

Yes, that's right, I developed a crazy theory while rewatching certain episodes of the show in preparation for the new season. With any luck, it will neatly explain where Red John comes from, and why he's turned himself into an evil messiah, as well as his connection to Bret Stiles, the Malcolm McDowell character.

I suspect that Red John is the son/heir of Timothy Farragut, the original founder of 'Visualize' that Stiles murdered back in the 70s.


It's "The Mentalist" Week!

Yes, I know what you're thinking - "Castle Vardulon, isn't this the place where I go to look at comic book panels and laugh at the people (now safely in their graves) who wrote and drew them? Why is there text here?"

Well, prepare to be shocked - in celebration of the start of the new season of The Mentalist, I'm posting a few articles this week covering crazy theories, interesting acting choices, and fabulous propmaking! So tune in all week long and join me in getting psyched for September 29th, and the countdown to the Red John reveal!

Just eight episodes away, people!


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

What?!?! She finally got a mask!

That's amazing!

If only it weren't terrible at being a mask!


The Hundred Sixty-Fourth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Say what you will about our modern, hypercrime-filled world - at least we've almost completely eliminated the scourge of goose theft.


The Hundred Sixty-Third Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Another favorite trope of mine - the anthropomorphic talking gun! Like so many of my interests, I'm going to credit this one to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Although in that it may just have been the bullets who spoke.


The Hundred Sixty-Second Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Here's another thing that fascinates me - mythological figures who have disappeared in the recent past. I've seen a version of this guy show up a few times now reading fiction from the early-to-mid 20th century, but growing up, the idea of a personification of the North Wind never made an appearance.


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

The specific content of this panel refers to Japanese technology being too shoddy to form the basis for time bombs.

I'm far more interested in the overall act being depicted - a cruel racist stereotype making a cruel racist slur. That's something you don't get to see much of these days.


The Hundred Sixtieth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you're close enough to the thing you're bombing that it blowing up could hurt you, then you're flying too close.


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

Okay, quiz time - based on the statement made in that title card, which famous fictional character would not welcome Black X?


Netflix has been stealing from you.

I was watching Taken 2 on Netflix a couple of nights ago, and I was shocked by how garbage-y the film looked. I'd remembered the first film as decent enough, so the huge visual step downwards was something of a shock.

Then I realized that the movie was filling up the entire screen, which shouldn't have been possible - even if the movie only had a 1.85 ratio, that's still thinner than HDTV's 1.77 - so where were the black bars?

Could the film really look this terrible?


What the hell, internet ad?

So I've had more than a few problems with internet ads in the past - mostly those of credit agencies - what with them being completely inept at making their points. The other day I happened across one that leaped well beyond regular incompetence into the absurd-

Please tell me that someone just grabbed the wrong image when they were making the ad and there was no oversight before it went up. Please tell me that this wasn't an attempt to create some kind of a metaphoric relationship between debt and physical abuse.

Or debt and people who are bad at special effect makeup.


The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

That is the correct way to celebrate after tricking a car into driving off the road by making it think it was about to run headfirst into another automobile. Seriously, that's a super-clever scheme, grim reaper. I'm not even going to question your fascinatingly spelled cheer.


It's possible that you're wrong about The Dark Knight Rises

I've been very hard on terrible movie Skyfall here on the website, and as a consequence, a question has been asked of me: how is it that I'm so critical of terrible movie Skyfall, while I'm happy ignoring the many plot holes and stupid contrivances of wonderful movie The Dark Knight Rises? A fair question, one which I'll answer in the form of a picto-illustratory article.

The short version - The Dark Knight Rises doesn't actually have many plot holes or stupid character decisions. What people have incorrectly regarded as such are largely examples of them not paying close enough attention to the film, or misinterpreting things (willfully or not) out of a biased intent to claim that the film isn't actually any good. I'm not going to attempt to engage their motivations for doing this, but rather just explain where their reasoning is flawed.

So, let's start at the beginning, shall we?


The Hundred and Fifty-Seventh Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

What the heck is that grim reaper up to? Looks like we'll need another two-parter to figure this one out!


The Hundred and Fifty-Sixfth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Take note, construction crews - this is why you don't leave giant spikes sticking up at the sides of docks.


So, anyways, Skyfall was just terrible.

Nearly nine months later, I feel that I finally have the emotional distance necessary to watch Skyfall again, chronicling how it may be the most lazily-plotted James Bond movie in history. A non-stop mess of plot holes and terrible characters making inconceivable decisions for no earthly reason. Roger Ebert frequently described the 'Idiot Plot' as a movie whose plot only moves because every character involved in it is a moron.

Skyfall's storyline is the platonic ideal, the perfect form of the idiot plot.

So here is a list - in basic chronological order - of every stupid thing about the movie Skyfall.

We start immediately in the aftermath of an attack on some kind of an MI6 safehouse, during which the hard drive containing the names and photos of every undercover MI6 agent all over the world was stored. Why is this information all in one place? Why was it placed in an ordinary laptop? What possible use could MI6 have for it in Turkey? Maybe if it was a list of all the undercover agents in and around Turkey then its existence might make some semblance of sense, but EVERYONE is on this list. Why would this ever exist in the first place, and then why was it left in a safehouse in a foreign country with only three guards?



Dexter is Just Terrible, and Has Been Basically Forever

So Dexter came back last week, and before watching the new episode - which I'm sure is about how he's been rewarded by getting his sister to shoot a cop (although really that's going to be his downfall!) - I wanted to take a moment to reflect on just how terrible the season-ender of Dexter was last year.

The episode begins with LaGuerta placing Dexter under arrest for being the Bay Harbour Butcher. She's able to do this because she's discovered a shirt with some blood on it in some garbage from Dexter's boat. The blood belongs to Estrada, the man who murdered Dexter's Mom all those years ago. The only logical assumption? Dexter has killed the man! How's he going to get out of this one?

Simple - it was all Dexter's brilliant plan! He broke into the evidence storage facility where they were still holding the bloody shirt that Estrada was arrested in from 30 years ago. By doing this and planting it on his own boat, he somehow makes everyone think that LaGuerta planted the evidence, discrediting her. Isn't it convenient that the police department held onto that shirt - which wasn't actually evidence of anything, just the clothes Estrada was wearing - for all those decades? Seems like a bit of a stretch, doesn't it? More importantly, if LaGuerta was going to frame Dexter, why would she do it in a way that could be so easily uncovered?

The Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

I've said it before, I'm probably going to say it again - you look exactly the same. Buy a mask, dope.


Handicapping the Red John list

So the fifth-season ender of The Mentalist has come and gone, and my hopes are yet to be dashed! There was no revelation about Red John's identity, but we were presented with a short list, and my guy's name was on it.

So now, like all armchair TV detectives, I think it's time to start wildly guessing at who Red John might wind up being. Here's the list we're given, along with my capsule comments.

Bret Stiles - Nope.
Gale Betram - Probably not.
Ray Haffner - Absolutely possible.
Reede Smith - Who?
Bob Kirkland - Red Herring.
Sheriff Thomas McAllister - Huh?
Brett Partridge - My pick, for reasons I've already outlined.


The Hundred and Fifty-Third Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Is this a real technology? A metal strip-based linear music box? I must find one!


The Hundred and Fifty-Second Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Calling out hits over orchid-farming techniques. That is hardcore.


The Hundred and Fiftieth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Even more anticlimactic! Amazing! Seriously, though, what kind of a world are we living in where a supervillain can't even be bothered to train his killer apes?


The Hundred and Forty-Ninth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Since the last two-part Greatest Panels went so well, I thought it was time for another! Synchronistically, it's also about beasts that someone keeps behind a metal door! Will these guys prove more effective than the Komodo Dragon?


The Hundred and Forty-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Crossbow technology that also causes the bolts to triple in size? We must try to discover the source of this power you call 'misunderstanding of perspective'!


The Hundred and Forty-Seventh Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

If there's one thing I've learned about chickens, it's that they're always really psyched to run towards gunfire.


The Hundred and Forty-Sixth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

If only actual comic book stories were as amazing as the metaphorical splash title pages representing them. Maybe that's why they stopped doing these?


The Hundred and Forty-Fifth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Well, that was anticlimactic. Why would the comic suddenly decide to get realistic when depicting just how easy those beasts are to kill?


The Hundred and Forty-Fourth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

And now, a special two-part Greatest Panels! In this episode, villains are menaced by an optimistically large representation of a Komodo Dragon. Want to find out what he'll get up to? Check back next week!


On the Subject of Red John

I firmly believe that The Mentalist is playing fair. By that I mean that Bruno Heller specifically, and all the producers of The Mentalist, have had a firm idea of where the Red John storyline was going right from the start of the show. I'm not suggesting that some 'master list' of the series' plot-intensive episodes exists, or that the producers had any idea what the specific clues or twists in the Red John storyline were going to be more than a few episodes in advance. I do, however, believe that those producers have known who Red John was all along, and have been careful, even as their plots and characters evolved, never to give any information or clues that contradicted anything already established as fact.

Beyond that, I believe that the mystery as presented by the show has been solvable, and what's more, I believe that I have solved it.

Here's how:


On the Subject of The Mentalist

It occurs to me that, despite it being one of my favorite shows, I've neglected to discuss The Mentalist here on the blog. For anyone not aware, The Mentalist is a CBS drama which - while it fits broadly into the network's tradition of police procedurals - is my nominee for the best-produced thing on network television.

I specify 'network' for what I think are fairly obvious reasons. The dictates of mainstream commercial-supported broadcast television put restrictions on shows that pretty much ensure that they can't ever rise to the level of your Breakings Bad or Games of Thrones. Networks prefer the episodic structure so it's easy for viewers to check in at any time - it doesn't really matter when you start watching Cheers, within a few minutes you'll get the point. Something like Wiseguy - one of the greatest things to ever come out of a network - was doomed to failure largely because it isn't the kind of thing that can simply be picked up and watched at someone's leisure. Add to that fact, from a financial standpoint, episodic shows are easier to sell into syndication, and it's easy to understand why shows about cops and lawyers and doctors solving a new crime/curing a new patient every week have dominated the airwaves since televisions inception. Also, for a little while there, every week a heroic cowboy would shoot some no-good varmint, but that trend seems to have largely passed.


The Hundred and Forty-Third Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

You know, just because your stopped aging doesn't mean that years have stopped passing. No matter your physical development, you're still hundreds of years old. Still, though, that's a great origin story.


The Hundred and Forty-Second Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

You know, just once in my life I'd like the opportunity to hatch a scheme in partnership with a goat. That would just suit me down to the ground.


The Hundred and Forty-first Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

See, that's why the axis failed - at the first sign of trouble they immediately started axe-fighting with one another.


The Hundred and Fortieth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

You know, as a video game nerd, I thought the submersible battleship in MGS4 was an amazing bit of design. But the comics got there sixty-odd years earlier.


The Hundred and Thirty-Ninth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

I don't know that blueprints are meant to be lifesize, but I certainly appreciate the effort.


The Hundred and Thirty-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

So, I guess it's faster if you just list the name of the ship, rather than all the guys aboard? Makes sense, Death has got to be pretty busy during wartime.


The Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

I'm going to agree with Jerry Noble - a question mark in a thought window is the exactly right reaction to have to that occurrence.


The Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

It's a nice idea and all, but I'm not sure that it's way better to have a glass bottle smashed across my face than it would to be hit with a club.