The Pull List- 1/17/2008

Hopefully I’ll make this a regular feature. You’ll see this post is in three sections: the first is my complete pull list of comics I bought this week, after that you’ll see my top three picks this week, and last some brief commentary on everything else. Enjoy, and let me know what you think…

The Pull List

  • Angel: After the Fall #3
  • The Sword #4
  • Birds of Prey #114
  • JLA #7
  • Robin #170
  • Shadowpact #21
  • Cable/Deadpool #49
  • Incredible Hercules #113
  • New Exiles #1
  • New X-Men #46
  • WWH Aftersmash Warbound #2

Best of the Best

Angel: After the Fall #3, IDW, Lynch/Urru
Angel and crew are in Hell. They’re not happy, there is much fighting…and a dragon.
Similar to Dark Horse’s ongoing Buffy Season 8 spin-off this comic takes place immediately after the series finale of Angel. I missed issue #1 but apparently we’re all in hell now and chaos reigns supreme. I’m not a big fan of the art here, Urru’s penciling appears a bit sloppy to me and the color palette feels a bit muddy. The story is top-notch though and Lynch manages to nail the tone of the series especially well maintaining the dark humor of the show quite well. If you liked the show you’ll like the book. Unfortunately finding issue #1, in reprint even, might be a bit of bitch.
The Sword #4, Image, Luna/Luna
Dara’s on the run from law and look for revenge. Meanwhile the people that killed her family let out a collective “D’oh!”
If you haven’t heard of the Luna brothers shame on you. A talented duo that previously brought you the Sex and the City meets Superheroes comic Ultra and the zombie meets cheescake series Girls comes this absolute gem of a comic about a girl and a magical sword. Despite the clean line work of Jonathon Luna he doesn’t shy away from visceral violence, though compared to last issue things are relatively tame, and conveys emotions via facial expressions with near perfection. While Jonathon’s command over the action is good I admit his style has a bit of a static feel to it (like seeing a cell of a cartoon) and the soft color palette, while pleasing to the eye doesn’t help in that regard (it does make the more vivid colors, say blood for example, all the more shocking). Joshua, handling the writing, does a phenomenal job at doling out tidbits of plot, hinting at a larger, mysterious back-story, while at the same time keeping fans sated via the action at hand. All in all a superb comic that anyone tired of spandex could, and certainly should, pick up and enjoy.
New X-Men #46, Marvel, Yost & Kyle/Ramos
The not-so-merry mutants continue their fight against all odds for the first mutant birth since M-day. Blood is spilled and tensions builds
The penultimate issue of the Messiah Complex crossover speeds things towards their, hopefully, epic conclusion and ramps the action up to an absolute frantic pace. A pace that is perfectly suited to the down and dirty style of artist Ramos. The uniformity of voice throughout the entire crossover is fairly impressive given that each of the X-books has its own creative team and the writing duo of Yost/Kyle once again do a deft job handling the sprawling ensemble of multigenerational X-men/villains. I do wish, at least a little, that the book focused a bit more on the title team (the younger X-Men) as they’re a crew I’ve come to quite like but I can’t complain as everything we do have here hearkens back to the glory days of the X-teams. If you’re not reading this crossover you’re an idiot. ‘Nuff said.

The Other Stuff

Birds of Prey #114:
This book has been struggling since Simone left, I’ll give it one or two more issue before it gets dropped. I do love Black Alice though.
JLA #7:
This book just can’t seem to hit its stride. I’ll keep plugging away at it but my prospects of really liking this book are fast dwindling. Black Lightning was pretty badass in the beginning though, and it had some fantastic cover art.
Robin #170
Is it sad that I like this better than the Batman books? I think Tim Drake is an interesting character and the father/son aspect of Batman/Robin books (now made legal in Wayne’s adoption of Drake) is
interesting if not played on enough. Solid book, not spectacular, but solid.
Shadowpact #21:
Come on, Detective Chimp! Looking at dating websites for furries! Seriously! No Blue Devil in this one though and I hope they’re going somewhere with the Nightshade/Ragman stuff, but again a solid comic about an weird team full of interesting characters.
Cable/Deadpool #49
Deadpool doesn’t just break the 4th wall he smashes it to pieces then grinds the rubble into fine dust. Still though it had me laughing out loud a few times and I really like his supporting cast, Bob the Hydra agent is perhaps the best comic foil in comic book history.
Incredible Hercules #113:
No that’s not a typo. This is good book but a strange amalgamation of leftover WWH plots details and the Marvel version of greek mythology. I like the violent sibling rivalry between Ares and Herc. Solid writing with some humorous quips.
New Exiles #1:
They restarted the series for this? Sorry, no #2 for me.
WWH Aftersmash Warbound #2
Another solid WWH spin-off. The loveable Warbound up to their crazy antics again being all monstery and badassy and whatnot. This is above all a redemption story about monsters trying to be heroes. If you liked Planet Hulk and World War Hulk you’ll like this title.

Agalloch- Ashes Against the Grain Review

Portland rockers Agallochhave reached deep into the cold dark pits of their mortal souls and poured the black extract found therin into their latest album “Ashes Against the Grain.”  Indeed there are few bands in the black metal/death metal genre(s) that manage to infuse their music with an emotionally rich sound and I am excited to report that Agalloch is one of that elite number.  Indeed,  Agalloch doesn’t just make music they paint landscapes with sound.  Like their previous effort, “The Mantle,” “Ashes Against the Grain” is laden with mysterious overtones perfectly suited to a cold, gray winter morning.  However, “The Mantle,” for all its triumph seemed to wallow in its own darkness.  “Ashes Against the Grain,” on the other hand, is more diverse in both its musical and emotional content ranging almost equally between hope, beauty, anger and despair.

With songs that hover, on average, around the 8 or 9 minute mark Agalloch will never achieve a mainstream success. However, with solid songwriting and a sound that is wholly their own should endear themselves not only to longtime fans but to black metal enthusiasts the world around.  Highly recommended.

Postscript:  Kudos to the design of Agalloch’s web page (linked to above).  Simple and elegent use of flash, comprised of obscure imagery true to the band’s style it is one of the better band websites I’ve seen in a while.

Mass Effect, HL2-Episode 1

Well, I finished Mass Effect last week.  At final count I clocked in at around 30 hours or so though I did go through a lot of the side missions.  The story itself isn’t wholly original (jaded good guy turned bad wants to summon baddies to hurry us along to our “inevitable” destruction) but it is conveyed in such an evocative manner via it’s dialog system and powerful graphic (particularly in it’s facial rendering) that you find yourself engrossed in it none-the-less.  Indeed it’s the characters that invest you in the game.  The romance subplot is a good example of this.

Marine soldier Ashley, when I first met her, seemed like a cool chick, badass solider, a survivor willing to face overwhelming odds while asking for nothing in return for her service.  Except she’s a racist.  At first I wrote it off as a little bit of healthy xenophobia but, as things progressed, I constantly found myself at odds with her over my belief in the full cooperation between humanity and the Council.  Thus I abandoned my efforts to woo her turning instead into the entirely more understanding (if blue) arms of Liara.

Therein lies the beauty of the game.  It draws you into it’s world via the human (or alien, I suppose) elements of emotion and relationships.  Sure the story is a bit familiar but somehow it feels more real, more dynamic, all the same.  Combat isn’t too shabby either.  I admit I struggled in the beginning but eventually got the hang of things; so much so that I admit blasting away Geth with my shotgun engendered a visceral joy that, in hindsight, might perhaps be a bit disturbing.

The game is not without its flaws.  Inventory management is a pain (NO STACKING ITEMS!!!!!!!!) , there are a number of graphical glitches (seems to vary from game to game), and there is also a sharp swing in difficulty (towards the easy side) once you hit a certain level and I admit I missed the modular, shifting difficult from Oblivion.  However, in all these cases the total package outshines the these minor complaints.

If you enjoyed the KOTOR games,  want a change in pace from the fantasy-saturated RPG market, or are a film fan skeptical in the video game medium’s ability to tell a story somewhere on close to par with motion pictures you should seriously give Mass Effect a try.

I also finished HL2-Episode 1.  This game frustrated me on numerous occasions (Elverator/Falling Debris perhaps its most serious black mark) to the point where its scripted nature and forced events felt more a chore than an aid to experiencing the game’s story.  If you’re a HL2 fan looking to finish the story you’ll power through it, like I did, but it me leave a slightly sour taste in your mouth.Despite the issues with gameplay I think Valve has done a splendid job in crafting a dynamic and interesting world and setting out a perplexing sci-fi action/mystery that I’m willing, and even eager (still), to see to the end.  Besides Alex Vance is frickin’ adorable.

Hl2- Episode 2, has thus far been a more pleasurable experience.  The heavily scripted areas, while painfully difficult at times (Ant-lions and zombies at the same time!?  Come on now!), I find a much easier pill to swallow.   The story continues to be interesting and has a whole lot of Vortigaunts.  Every time one of them calls me “Free Man” (emphasis on the two words) I smile a bit.  I’ll post more once I’ve made my way through the game.


Picked out a new wordpress theme today (Andreas04).  It isn’t as visually striking as the old theme but lacks some of display errors; blockquotes and links were a bitch to read before.  Even manually editting the last theme’s CSS didn’t quite work (the default cascade for these themes is a bit of mess), so here we are.

I also added a categories sidebar and made sure the page had a flexible, rather than fixed, width.  I am certainly pleased with the way it looks.  Hopefully I’ll also continue my spate of consistent posting.

I also finsihed Mass Effect last night so expect some comments on that sometime in the not too distant future.

There’s also a ton of stuff I’ve been meaning to post on (the WGA strike, comic reviews, more on Spiderman, to name a few things) that hopefully will get done sometime in the not-to-distant future.

Malicious javascript: document.write (unescape

Some malicious javascript has been appearing on the website of the library I work at:


this translates to:

iframe src=”” height=”0″ width=”0″

The website attempts to offer a virus disguised as ad protection software.  I can delete the code but it reappears (likely if/when the server is rebooted).  The code goes deep enough to appear in the iisstart.asp, localstart.asp, and browser_detect.asp.   Since I’m technically only the webmaster (for a new webpage that isn’t even up yet, don’t ask, I don’t manage the servers or other hardware) with exactly 0 experience with IIS (we have a consultant for that) I’m not sure where to go from here.

We’re running IIS 5.0 and I, for the life of me, can’t figure what item (if any) allows the replication of the code. Any help would be much appreciated.

P.S.:  To make matters worse the wwwroot folder is clogged with sh*ttons of legacy files that no-one needs/uses.

Bringin’ the sexy back….to keyboards

If I were willing to spend extravagant funds on my PC peripherals I would start with Art. Lebedev’s Optimus Maximus. The Optimus Maximus is a 113-key keyboard in which each of the keys is an OLED allowing dynamic icons for all keys. Coming in with a price tag of roughly $1,500 it is creme de la creme of input devices.

Engadget has an older hands-on (with delicious photos) while Arstechnica has a more recent hands-on from the ongoing CES