Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Popeye #10 and 11

Two more issues of POPEYE to review this time.  First, issue number 10.  This issues features a boxing drama.  Toar is going to be deported, but in order to stay in the USA, he has to provide a skill no other American can provide.  Toar says he can beat Popeye in a fight.  So a boxing match is set up with Toar's citizenship on the line.  The script is typical Roger Langridge: heavy on action, light on humor, and an overabundance of dialogue.  The art is by Vince Musacchia, who turns in excellent work.  Faithful to Segar, and very fluid.  The issue also includes an entertaining Sappo/Watasnozzle back up feature by Langridge and Ken Wheaton.  Issue 10 earns a B-.

Issue number 11 features the return of Bluto, who comes to town as a magician with a vaudeville troupe.  He threatens to steal Olive Oyl, and in fact makes her disappear during his act.  Popeye rescues her as Wimpy and his ventriloquist dummy scares Bluto out of town. A top notch script by Langridge that turns up the humor.  In fact there are a couple laugh out loud moments, I think a first for the IDW series.  Musacchia returns to do the art, and its even better than the previous issue.  Issue 11 earns a strong A.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Curse Of Shazam, part 10

Chapter 10 of Curse Of Shazam in JUSTICE LEAGUE #18, opens on Bryer, accompanied by police, confronting the Vasquezes about Billy's whereabouts and his totaled car.  Mary and the other kids are listening in, and Mary asks Freddy where Billy is.  As the confrontation between Bryer and Vasquez heats up, all are startled to see something in the sky.  A bus falls from the sky, crashing to earth in a fiery explosion.  Cut back to the city, as Black Adam is running amuck.  Back to the Vasquezes home, as Freddy watches a news bulletin of the incident.  Just as Black Adam makes a threat to kill Captain Mar... er, Shazam, the city loses all power.  Freddy then confesses to Mary and the other kids Billy is, Shazam.  They sneak out to find Billy, who is at the zoo talking to a tiger he calls Tawny.  They confront him (and yes, Darla is still quite annoying), but Billy refuses to turn back into Cap... er, Shazam.  Billy leads the kids to the subway in hopes of getting to the Rock of Eternity so the power can be given to someone else.  Cut back to the city, where Sivana and the seven sins meet up with Black Adam, who plan to end the world.

This is a decent chapter.  Gary Frank's art, as usual, is great.  The script is better this time, as we get to see more character drama and conflict. Billy questions himself and considers if it would be best for the power to go to someone more competent.  The only negative aspect is the presence of Darla, Pedro and Eugene.  It's kind of pointless for them to be there as they muddle the picture.  As they all descend the stairs to the subway station, I get the bad feeling we may either get the "Captain Planet" aspect of Flashpoint's "Captain Thunder" character, or we will get instant Shazam Family, with Freddy as Kid Shazam, Mary as Shazam Girl, and the other three as Lt. Shazams.  This chapter earns a B.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam: Pope Francis

Habemus Papam.  Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Francis.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Modern Era Popes

While we wait for the new pope to be elected, we should also take some time to appreciate the past. I find papal history fascinating.  Some of my favorites are the early modern popes, from the time photography was invented.

Pius IX (reigned 1846 to 1878) was the first pope to be photographed. He also changed the United States' status from a missionary territory, creating American dioceses and archdioceses.

Leo XIII (reigned 1879 to 1903) was the first pope to be filmed with a motion picture camera, and the first pope to have his voice recorded. He is also the oldest pope so far, living to be 93 years old. It's a shame his cause for canonization has not been advanced yet.

Pius X (reigned 1903 to 1914) is the most recent pope to be declared a saint. He is also the most recent pope known to perform miracles while he was alive (there are several documented cases where he healed crippled and dying children).  A very holy man.  We could use another pope like Pius X.

Benedict XV (reigned 1914 to  1922) had a noble and regal look to him.

Pius XI (reigned 1922 - 1939) was pope while America was going from the silent movie era to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Pius XII (reigned 1939 to 1958) has been, over the last couple decades, slanderously vilified for being a Nazi sympathizer.  This is false, revisionist history as the facts show Pius XII did all he could to save Jews from the Holocaust (certainly more than Franklin Roosevelt ever did), and many Jewish leaders of the day, such as Golda Meir, praised Pius XII.

John XXIII (reigned 1958 to 1963) had a short pontificate, but lasting effects to this day.

Paul VI (reigned 1963 to 1978), with his Grinch-like eyebrows, had perhaps the worst pontificate of the 20th Century.  Under him, the Vatican II council went from discussing how the Church should deal with the modern world, to the Church submitting to the modern world. The Missal of John XXIII was replaced only a few years after being promulgated, for the casual and humanist centered Novus Ordo.  Priestly vocations dropped dramatically, while a vast number of clergy renounced their ministries.  The clergy sex abuse scandal and alleged cover up hit its peak during his pontificate.  Jesus Christ promised the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church, but it came awfully close during Paul VI's pontificate. His cause for sainthood should be put on indefinite hold.

John Paul I (reigned 1978) had one of the shortest pontificates in history. However I have very vivid memories of him, as his pontificate happened when I was a child.  I remember being quite sad when he died because I really liked him.

John Paul II (reigned 1978 to 2005) was the superstar pope.  He had the tough task of beginning the process of undoing all the damage caused during Paul VI's reign, while building his own legacy as the pope who traveled to the people.

And of course Benedict XVI (reigned 2005 to 2013), who is considered to be the most brilliant theologian of the last 300 years.