Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blog promotion: Another reason why Blogspot is better than other blog sites!

If you have a blog to promote, check this out. This blog is on it. It's free. Now go support the folks at Buzzerhut by adding your blog, but PLEASE come back here for more insightful superhero observations.

I could have added this to the previous post, but I felt this great service deserved a post of its own. As all four readers of this blog know, I have a THING for connecting with like-minded souls online and Buzzerhut provides another method of upping your connective rate (the degree to which a person finds and connects to others online).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Social Networking and Superheroes: Hero Usage Preferences

Like any good social or behavioural scientist I will start this discussion of the results of my empirical investigation by acknowledging biases of mine that might have influenced the aforementioned results. To accomplish this end, I will briefly outline my impressions of the various social networking platforms/sites in question. Please note that I’ve had varying degrees of exposure to each of these sites:

Blogger / Blogspot:
As you’ve probably noticed, you’re reading a Blogger blog right now. For sheer numbers or at least the perception of an uber-large number of bloggers, Blogspot can’t be beat. In addition, one of the major reasons why I chose to host this blog here is the blog reader, which eliminates a lot of URL typing and even serves as a reminder to look in on blogs you follow. Other sites may have similar mechanisms to the reader, but their user-friendliness pale in comparison.

I’ve had a Wordpress blog (for past business purposes) and the overarching impression one gets from the site and its bloggers is one of hyper-organization. For one, Wordpress provides great dashboard functionality such as posting stats (e.g. number of visitors, from which links on which they’ve clicked from, etcetera). In addition, the bloggers themselves seem organised along movements (be it news, politics, finance, humor, self-development) and sometimes they seem quite hardline. However, even with WP’s Tag-surfing functionality, it is rather hard to meet like-minded bloggers on the site. The result is a difficulty in creating a robust community i.t.o. interests.

LJ users are either writers or readers. These bloggers are mostly interested in Fantasy and some Science Fiction. More specifically, they seem to writers who want to be poets OR poets who want to be writers OR writers who complain that they don’t have time to read OR writers who complain that they don’t have time to write OR readers who complain that they don’t have the time to read anything, etc. In addition, LJ seems to be a controversy machine. Every few months, an LJer does something that sparks flamewars across LJ and beyond. Also, LJers have some of the MOST misleading and incomplete user profiles of all bloggers. There is usually a minimalist BIO and interests that are created every time they tag (or label) any post (EVEN if the tag is ONLY USED ONCE in 5 years). Then, there is LJ's tendency to shut down any community that gets too large. Huh? Then there's the billion friends that LJers can amass and I must admit I have a problem calling random strangers (that have never said three words to me) the F-word. “Can I friend you?” “No.”

I’ll admit I don’t follow many Typepad blogs. So, my experience is limited and YMMV. There are some well put together blogs on Typepad. The problem is that for some unknown reason it is pretty difficult to find Typepad bloggers with particular interests through search engines OR at least more difficult than it is to find blogs on the other sites. Still, it has a passionate and somewhat intellectual vibe. I'm tempted to say, "These cats are cool."

Xanga is considered to be one of the “forgotten” blogsites of the internet. However, don’t let this fool you. Xanga is pretty useful for those who want to connect with like-minded peeps. For example, the Blogrings listed in profiles give the visitor a more accurate picture of what the blogger’s interests are and give you access to other bloggers with the same interests.

A glorified photo album for people who want to connect... to other people that they already know? Huh? How idiotic is this, really? So, lots of peeps will keep joining.

An earlier version of Facebook, which has lost much its popularity. However, MySpace is still regarded to be the music and creative promotional blogsite. Those MySpace groups still exist and represent a slightly more established (than facebook) way of promotion and testing the waters, especially for musicians.

The Ham sandwhich I had for lunch was deeeeelish! That’s the type of banality that Twitter deals in 140 characters or less (or is it 120  or 114 characters or less). Wake me when it’s over. The only thing that Twitter MIGHT be useful for someone who is co-ordinating a collaborative project and wants to update collaborators (without personal emails or long blog posts, perhaps because most of update #1 doesn’t differ much from update #2 or #6). For example, a short fiction anthology editor might update interested parties on the progress he has made in reading the slushpile, compiling the short list, and ultimately announcing the Table of Contents. Or just for people who can't / won't keep a blogging schedule (like me).

This is one of the few specialised social networking sites that has gained popularity by doubling as a personal gallery. Photographers, Comic artists, painters, digital artists, and every other kind of visual artist are on DeviantART. it seems like every up-and-coming artist on the planet seems to be on this site.

So, which superhero uses which social networking platform? For your reading convenience, I've made DC the Blue team and Marvel the Red team...

Twitter. Why? Honestly, Bats doesn’t have time to blog or set up a facebook page. Have you ever tried to talk to Batman socially? It’s like talking to a wall. He just ignores you. Furthermore, I’ve seen Batman hang up on more of his fellow heroes than any other hero in the world. Seriously, the JLA will hit their speed-dial and be like, “Batman, we’re so glad we’ve reached you. Apokolips has just invaded Central City and....Batman? Hello?”

Iron Man:
All of the above, but Facebook first... Why? Firstly, Tony Stark is a HUGE narcissist. Secondly, being on all the sites makes it possible for him to register peeps who dare comment negatively ala Civil War. Thirdly, Iron Man is a brand that needs to everywhere.

Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner):
DeviantART. Kyle is a graphic designer and artist. Also his true (????) love and photographer, Jade, is also on DeviantART.

Captain America:
Blogspot. Google’s logo colours remind Cap of the American flag. Cap also doesn’t like the backgrounds of Livejournal’s owners and their crackdown on Freedom of expression.

None of the above. She uses Youtube and various podcasting sites. Okay, not really social networking per se, but that’s how Zatanna rolls. Why? The whole verbal sorcery thing dictates this one. How is she supposed to wipe your memory via a typed blog or a photo?

“Hulk Smash!” Yeah, sound like Livejournal right there. He’s too controversial to be anywhere else. Remember, World War Hulk, anyone?

Twitter. Why? With all his constant collapsing and fainting on dry land when he gets thirsty, the short and sweet tweets are the way to go. Need... some... H2O... Please... Must... Find... Water... about... to... collapse...too...late...just...collapsed.

Livejournal. Why? Sounds like War journal. What’s the difference? Bad guys still have to go down!
Mood: Vengeful and Psychotic (as usual)
Listening to: Can’t get you out of my head by Kylie Minogue

Green Arrow:
LiveJournal. Why? Using his somewhat outdated Liberal left-brain logic, Oliver has deduced that most fantasy writers and poets must be women! And ladies’ man Ollie goes where the ladies are! Livejournal = Lothariojournal!
Mood: Horny
Listening to: Escape by Enrique Iglesias

Mr Fantastic:
LiveJournal. Why? Just to de-stress, rant about, and get away from the insane expectation of the rest of the FF and the world.
Mood: Inquisitive
Listening to: The Scientist by Coldplay

Human Torch:
Facebook and Livejournal. Why? Facebook: See Iron Man’s first and third reasons. Livejournal: See Green Arrow’s reason.
Mood: Playfully Horny
Listening to: It’s getting hot in here by Nelly

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Science-loving Superheroes generally don't have Telepathy

These two make quite a pair, don't they? Being best friends...

But looks can be deceiving....

The Thing's thought-bubble: That douchebag Reed can discover seven ways to make Pepsi stay carbonated out of the bottle, but ask him about a cure for me and he's all 'Ben, Science takes time.' You know, if I wasn't so used to penthouse-living, I'd clobber his ass into a specimen jar...

Yeah, Telepathy would be too much of a burden on the super-smart scientist-heroes of the world...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Top 10 Martial Artists in the DCU: The Definitive Ranking (a.k.a. Is Nightwing totally overrated as a martial artist or what?)

Imagine if you had to pick super-heroes as your team of bodyguards for an upcoming trip to a place that didn’t permit super-powered heroes, magic, or alien weaponry. You’d probably pick the heroes with the best martial arts ability...

The ground rules:

1] No amped-up, super-powered martial artists allowed. By ‘super-powered’, I’m referring to people with super-strength, super-speed, super-reflexes, healing factor, used in the commission of throwing devastating punches, kicks, or choke-holds, etc.

2] Only martial artists, not brawlers.

The ranking:

10] Nightwing

Seriously, he has been beaten nearly routinely by just about everyone who can put up their dukes and swing. Principally, that’s because Dick doesn’t fight to his strengths. When you’re not quite as skilled in the punching and kicking department but you’re number 1 in the agility department, you should not be as direct in your hand-to-hand battles. Instead, make your opponent miss with 3 or 4 consecutive blows and then hit an opening: Evade and Hit. It’s obvious.

9] Not Nightwing

8] Even less likely to be Nightwing.

7] Black Canary

She’s always considered top 10 material. Previous rankings put her within the top four (but then some of the other characters on this list did not exist at the time).

6] Azrael

This guy defeated Bane in like two secs. Azrael laid out Nightwing like it wasn’t even a mild workout. Batman himself has always been a little hesitant to take Jean Paul on in a physical match-up, because he might get his ass handed to him.

5] Connor Hawke

Connor is quite possibly destined to take the number one spot in this ranking someday. His metagene and discipline make a difficult customer. Nightwing wishes he was this good.

4] Bronze Tiger

As a non-powered dude, you have to be pretty tough to lead the Suicide Squad. Dude beat Batman a few times. Some peeps will discount the one victory where he came out of nowhere and kicked Bats in the stomach...Hey, wait-a-minute...Isn’t it next to impossible to sneak up on the Dark Knight or Lady Shiva without super-speed or teleportation as a super-power? Surely, this is also included in Batman’s training? Also, Nightwing hasn’t been able to accomplish this feat.

3] Lady Shiva

Nuff said. Nightwing flinches when she comes around.

2] Batman

They say He’s the yardstick. However, the yardstick has had been outclassed by others on the list (and off of it) on occasion. Except for Nightwing.

1] Batgirl

She holds a victory over Lady Shiva in a fair fight. Batman is green with envy. Has also bitch-slapped Nightwing a few times.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Arch-fiend revealed: From the files of the Bureau for Super-hero Research and Defence (BSRD)...

It all began when I dropped my mug while I leaning against my desk in the BSRD field office. The mug shattered. Then I saw the name on the bottom...Kobayashi!!!

Finally, it all made sense...

We’d been tracking consistent historical anomalies in the BCUS (Between Comic Universes Space) – decades worth of data just waiting for a model to fit it. The strongest variances in the BCUS were between the dimensional spaces of the Archie-verse and the DCU...Of course, it was there in front of me the whole time like a wall full of mugshots!

Archie Andrews is NOT a Jimmy Olsen clone, as many believe. Archie Andrews IS Jimmy Olsen. I not only realised this truth, but also deduced why.

Spiral of Evidence pertaining to Archie/Jimmy Identity:
Exhibit A: Archie Andrews and Jimmy Olsen have never been seen or photographed being in the same room. If someone produces “evidence” to the contrary, they are part of this conspiracy...
Exhibit B: Shared hair colour!
Exhibit C: Shared freckles!
Exhibit D: Betty Cooper. It has been well established that Betty Cooper is not a well girl. In fact, Migtygodking has elaborated on this here, here, and most tellingly, here.

Now, even villains have passions outside of villainy, not so? Jimmy Olsen is a photographer, but to protect his other identity Archie isn’t. However, if you look at Betty Cooper's room here , she’s quite the snapping ace. That’s why Archie ignores Betty’s obvious psychosis: If you can’t be directly involved with your passion (photography) for fear of your secret identity being exposed, hook up with someone who is involved in your other-verse passion. Live vicariously...through a crazy woman!

Okay, now on to the why:
Why would Archie have another identity in another universe of all places? Why Jimmy Olsen? If they were two different people (which they ARE NOT), what does Jimmy have that Archie wants?

Think. First principles, Clarice. What do we covet?

Superman. The ‘most powerful pal in the world’.

But Archie isn’t like most peeps who would just politely ask if their pal Superman would launch their Ex or boss into outer space. No, no, no. Archie wants a puppet – a puppet with super-strength and super-speed and super-everything, because Archie is E-V-I-L!

So, how’s Arch-Jimmy tried to accomplish his ends?
Method: He befriends Robin (you know, the super-mysterious dark knight’s brightly clad sidekick) while in his Jimmy Olsen persona.
You’re probably confused around about now. I mean, how does befriending Robin get Archie mental control over the man of steel? Don’t worry. I was too...until I was reminded of Maxwell Lord’s most recent death. [BACKGROUND: Max gained control over Supes. Supes was about to rip Bats apart. Luckily for Bats, Wonder Woman came along and lassoed Max with - you guessed it – her lasso of truth. So, she asked him how to stop the wrongness and, unable to lie, Max blurted out to kill him. So, she did.] Well, all through the Superman-trying-to-kill-Batman madness, I was thinking, Hey, Bats, why don’t you just reach down and pull out the kryptonite in your utility belt?

Here’s Arch-Jimmy’s reasoning: If Bat-dude has Kryptonite in his utility belt, he must have red, blue, orange, turquoise, or tan kryptonite stashed in the batcave on one those must be the mind-control kryptonite. So, the freckled one figured that being all BFF with Robin would be an all-access pass to the batcave.

Unfortunately, he underestimated Robin’s Wayne pocket money and overestimated Robin's closeness with Batman. Well, that and the fact that Boy Wonder thoroughly salted his game by insisting on building an HQ for the two of them. How Bromantic of him.

Of course, Arch-Jimmy realises that superman-control-via-Robin-via-batcave-coloured-kryptonite plan isn’t going to work. Also, that Superboy continuity punch during Crisis set him back for a few decades.

To this day, Arch-Jimmy and his partner in super-villainy, Brainiac Alt (better known as Jughead) are trying to hatch a plan that will work. All their chitchat is really code...

I leave you with this... The greatest trick Archie ever pulled is convincing people he didn’t exist in the DCU.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theory of Retcons, Rebirth, & Reboots Involving Comics Kaboom Decision-making (a.k.a. TRRRICK'D)

As promised, this post constitutes my thoughts on Reboots in comics. As a bonus, to make the model more scientifically robust, I’ve also included other comic Inter-Comic-Bigwig-Writer outcomes of the Retcon as well the new flavour of the month, the Rebirth.

I give to you the result of exactly 20 minutes of painstaking scholarly research, a normative decision-making model in the style of a new-writer-interview-excerpt plus some occasional fanboy intrusion, I have christened as...drumroll...the Theory of Retcons, Rebirths, & Reboots Involving Comics Kaboom Decision-making (a.k.a. TRRRICK’D). Enjoy!

This is just a Theory, probably more accurately viewed as a model and thus a simplification of an aspect of reality. So, I've excluded possible Hollywood franchise considerations as well as special continuity (such as Legion). Also, with the inclusion of the Rebirth outcome, the model is more applicable to DC Comics. Well, only slightly. I'll also throw in my observation that the Rebirths of Green Lantern and Flash (explicitly) and Green Arrow (not named a rebirth) were fixing somethging that was not necessarily broken. Kyle Rayner, Wally West, and Connor Hawke were (and still are) great characters who were NOT less popular than Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, or Ollie Queen. Only saving grace about the rebirths is that they didn't kill off Kyle and company. What can I say about Reboots? Well, the only problem I have with them is that there are too many of them.Retcons are okay, if they are targetting the right elements. How about permanently wiping Bouncing Boy out of existence? Feel free to print and/or disseminate this theory...We must warn others!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Next post preview and Sad comics blogosphere news

Next post: In my next post, I will outline my thoughts on the reboots in comics. Scientifically.

Sad news in the comics blogosphere: Scipio at The Absorbscon is going on hiatus. For how long? Who knows... I recommend that anyone who is interested  in comics (particularly DC) but unfamiliar with The Absorbascon head over there via the link in My blog list (to the right) and explore the Archive. You will not be disappointed. Too bummed to create a link here...

See you all next post!

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm a cheating bastard and hero-slut: Fantasy superhero team selection controversy ensues!

First of all, let me clear something up. My fantasy team of four doesn’t have a name, because the whole quest was prompted by a broader question: Who are your 4 favourite superheroes?

This, to me and I’m sure many other superhero comics readers, is an unfathomably difficult question to answer, Yes, I said unfathomably difficult (too dramatic?). Keep in mind that I have read comic universes as far and wide as DC, Marvel, Image, Valiant, and many more obscure.

So I decided to change the question to: Who would be on your 4-hero super-team?

Actually, I’ve decided to cheat some more and change the question once more to...drum roll please...Who would be on your 8-hero super-team?

Yes, I know I’m a cheat, but if you love as many superheroes as I do, it’s impossible to boil it down to just four. Call me a hero-slut if you must...

The new question gave me additional team-composition / team-selection criteria beyond the cool hero criteria of Powers, Personality, Look, such as:
• Team Power Mix
• Team personality Mix

The team so far:

Why he made the cut:
Beyond the adamantium claws, healing factor, heightened senses, agility, and over 100 years of fighting experience, Logan’s personality makes him invaluable to any team. Wolvie simply never gives up, no matter how bad the odds are for victory. He’s incredibly loyal, but if a team-mate ever betrayed the team, said team-mate would eat adamantium. One-man-team-loyalty-programme? Check.

Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner, not Hal Jordan)
Why Kyle made the cut:
Yes, you read correctly. Kyle Rayner, not Hal Jordan. Now before HEAT sends me some hate mail, I’ll reveal that I have read (and liked) Hal as Green Lantern long before Kyle showed up. So, I’m not one of those 16-to-22-year-olds that have never seen Hal in action and by default like Kyle. The Hypothesis goes something like this: Will Power and Imagination are positively related to Green Lantern ring-use effectiveness. In less scientific terms, the more will power and imagination you have, the better you can use the GL power ring to create ring-constructs. Hal and Kyle are just about equal in will power terms, although no tests have been conducted. We’re all agreed on that, aren’t we? Yes? Okay, so then Kyle has to get the nod, because Mister Rayner is the most imaginative/creative GL in history, bar none. “Hal Jordan never grows tired of using a giant hand in combat,” said Sinestro
Why Green Lantern made the cut:
Green Lantern is the most adaptable hero (in terms of offence and defence) and doesn’t always have to go through opponents.

Black Panther
Why he made the cut:
This bad-ass is a great leader and, to my mind, a better strategist and tactician than any other Avenger. Yeah, it’s strange he hasn’t at least been made second in command of Earth’s supposed mightiest heroes. Being the ruler of scientifically advanced Wakanda, T’Challa can also fill the team’s science needs. Then there his vibranium-laced suit that enables him to move in perfect stealth, jump eight stories without injury, and run up and down walls. The suit also sports retractable claws and can generate handy energy blades. Not impressed enough? Well, there’s this little footnote: The dude defeated the Fantastic Four all by himself. Not many superheroes or villains have done on their first attempt...

Black Bolt
Why he made the cut:
Can you flatten mountains with your voice? No? How about Electron energy blasts? Strength? Flight? Can you analyze and manipulate matter? No to all of the above? Well then, Black Bolt has to be on the roster. This inhuman is also a leader – the noble kind. Like T’Challa, he has also defeated the Fantastic Four single-handedly.

Why she made the cut:
She’s a better leader than Vanilla Cy...I mean Cyclops. As Phoenix, Jean Grey is mad powerful. In addition, she’ll be the whole reason Logan joins up. And someone’s got to telepathically translate silence into speech for Black bolt, right?

Why he made the cut:
Dude can turn into any compound he wants. He’s a former soldier of fortune, adventurer, and highly regarded archaeologist. This guy is a walking adventure-machine! Also, I seem to remember Joe Kelly (through the talking head of Batman) going on about how Plastic Man is Sooo powerful because he survived a few thousand years at the bottom of the ocean...Big deal. Metamorpho can’t really die either and his power is way better than plastic guy’s...flaccidness. Another thing: there are a lot of heroes who were just created for comic relief, but Rex Mason isn’t one of them. No, he’s one of the rarer few who are serious during combat as well as wonderfully sarcastic and cynical at other times. Metamorpho rocks!
Metamorpho to Batman: “And you stand there in a bat-suit and talk to me about being rational?” (quote may not be 100% accurate – almost two decades ago now)

The Vision
Why he made the cut:
Intelligence and intangibility are Uber-useful in all hero situations. Infrared and microwave radiation beams are pretty handy too...Also, every team needs one machine/android hero, doesn’t it? I’ve always felt that Vision’s calm and analytical demeanour is a vital component to the Avengers. But who does Marvel move to front of the Avengers spotlight? Ass-clowns like Thor and ego-maniacs like Iron Man...

Iron Butterfly
Why she made the cut:
Every team needs a winged member, doesn’t it? Granted hers are part of her metal armour, but still. She’s also a field leader, though more militaristic than inspirational or charismatic in nature. She’s a Ferro-kinetic, you know, able to move and shape metallic objects. Better power than magnetism. How's that, you ask? Imagine the team is lost and the GPS isn’t working, would you want a team member who is causing compass deviations? "No, north was that way a minute ago and now it's this way. What gives?" Also, she’s ruthless – someone has to help Wolverine when a villain needs to be permanently stomped...

This may have escaped very few of you, but I place a premium on leadership experience and leadership potential. Heck, a villain could take out two first line leaders like Phoenix and Black Panther...Oh noes! Wait-a-sec, Black Bolt and Iron Butterfly are there to lead the troops (or vice versa)!

You’ll notice that all of my picks are already on teams...
X-men: Wolverine, Phoenix
Avengers: Black Panther, Vision, Wolverine (New Avengers)
JLA: Green Lantern, Metamorpho
Inhumans: Black Bolt
Shadow Cabinet: Iron Butterfly

The unlucky ones:

The dead hero-guys: Killrazor (Codename: Strykeforce), Backlash ([well, not dead, but hopelessly under-used] Stormwatch, Team 7), Tezumak (Justice League America - last moment spent as a hero)

The Plain unlucky heroes:
Wildfire (Legion of Super-heroes), Shadow Lass (Legion of Super-heroes), Ash (Event Comics), Azrael, Black Canary (Justice League America), Die Hard (Team Youngblood), Black Adam (JSA), Gambit (X-Men)

There you have it! My fantasy 8-member superhero team. How would your fantasy hero team look?