California Dreaming: Hey Little Cobra

Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:45 pm
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Posted by Andrew Hickey

The success of the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean had not gone unnoticed, and every musician with an eye for what was hot was soon cutting their own surf and hot rod tunes. Among the earliest were the Rip Chords…sort of.

The Rip Chords were a vocal duo, Ernie Bridges and Phil Stewart, who had been signed to Columbia records and released a couple of unsuccessful singles, Here I Stand and Gone. Here I Stand had been arranged by Jack Nitzsche and had been a very minor hit, reaching number 51, giving the band just enough clout with the record label for them to keep releasing singles, and Terry Melcher, the band’s producer, was eager for that to continue. Melcher, who had previously had an unsuccessful career as a singer under the name Terry Day (recording a flop single, Be A Soldier, with production by Phil Spector and arrangement by Nitzsche) had his job as a staff producer largely because of the influence of his mother, Doris Day, and was mostly working with soft pop acts like Frankie Laine. The Rip Chords gave him the chance to do the rock and roll he wanted.

But there was a problem — Ernie Bridges, who had sung lead on Here I Stand, was off to theological seminary, and wasn’t allowed to continue in the band any longer.

This problem was solved quickly. Stewart would continue to lead the Rip Chords, with two new musicians, Arnie Marcus and Rich Rotkin. Marcus and Rotkin wouldn’t play on the records, where the vocals would be shared between Stewart, Bridges (when he could take time off his training for the priesthood), Melcher, and Melcher’s friend Bruce Johnston, who, like Melcher, was a rich kid who’d decided to make rock and roll his hobby, and who had sung backing vocals on Gone. Stewart, Bridges, Marcus and Rotkin would all be credited on the records, and Johnston and Melcher would be ghost vocalists.

This arrangement suited everyone, and meant that on occasion Bruce and Terry could just knock together a track without any of the Rip Chords being involved — as they did with the band’s third single, Hey Little Cobra.

The song was brought to Bruce and Terry by Carol Connors, a singer who had started in Phil Spector’s group The Teddy Bears before moving on to work as both a singer and a songwriter with Gary Usher and Roger Christian, who when they weren’t writing lyrics for Brian Wilson songs would work together and separately on churning out tons of surf and car product and songs for beach movies.

Connors’ song is clearly based on the Brian Wilson formula. Lyrically, the connection is obvious — the Cobra is “little”, just like the Deuce Coupe, while the phrase “shut ‘em down” turns up twenty-one times in less than two minutes, far more than it does in, say, the Beach Boys’ Shut Down.

But it’s the music that’s the real giveaway. This is structured exactly like one specific song — Surf City. Both songs start with an ascending tagline, going into a verse with a simple, generic chord sequence that feints at a key change as it rises into the chorus, before a twelve-bar chorus that follows a standard blues pattern for the first eight bars, before repeating the tagline, which starts on the major chord a flattened third above the tonic and rises.

There are, of course, differences — the movement up after the IIIb chord is different in both songs, for example — but the songs are so similar that there’s no question that it was Surf City, in particular, that Connors was consciously attempting to emulate (understandably enough, as this was the only song from the Wilson/Berry/Christian/Usher grouping to have reached number one at that point).

The main difference comes in the chorus vocal arrangement. Where the Beach Boys’ lead singer, Mike Love, was a bass, and so Brian Wilson’s songs tended to have a prominent, complex, moving solo bass vocal part in the chorus while the band chanted one- or two-word phrases, both Melcher and Johnston were very light tenors, and so the part which in a Brian Wilson song would have been the solo bass vocal (“Sting little Cobra gettin’ ready to fight”) here becomes the part taken by the massed vocals, while Johnston’s solo line (“Shut ‘em down”) is the part that Wilson would have made a three-part harmony chant.

The track is by far the most successful attempt at emulating the Brian Wilson style to that point, both commercially ( reaching number four in the US charts) and artistically, but it’s still clearly a lesser work. Even though Melcher and Johnston were using the same musicians who’d played on Surf City, and though the Beach Boys themselves, not the strongest of instrumentalists, were playing on their own records, yet the sound on Hey Little Cobra is notably thinner than anything from the Wilson stable. In part, this is because with only two vocalists and the primitive recording techniques of the time, the track required a lot of bouncing down (recording parts on two or more tracks of a multitrack tape, then rerecording those tracks onto a single track, freeing up space on the tape, but losing a generation of sound quality in the process), but it’s notable that most of Melcher’s other productions have this light, tinny sound.

The Rip Chords as a group would have only one further hit after Hey Little Cobra, but this single’s success had proved that if you wanted to get a Beach Boys sound, it was worth getting Bruce Johnston involved. This was not lost on the Beach Boys themselves…

Hey Little Cobra

Composers: Carol Connors and M. H. Connors

Line-up: Terry Melcher (vocals), Bruce Johnston (vocals), Glen Campbell (guitar), Steve Douglas (saxophone), Leon Russell (keyboards), Hal Blaine (drums), Frank Capp (percussion), Al de Lory (keyboards), Bill Pitman (guitar), Ray Pohlman (bass), and Tommy Tedesco (guitar).

Original release: Hey Little Cobra/The Queen , the Rip Chords, Columbia single 4-42921

Currently available on: Hey Little Cobra and Other Hot Rod Hits / Three Window Coupe Cherry Red CD


Tagged: bruce johnston, california dreaming, the Beach Boys, the rip chords
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)

Wednesday reading

Apr. 23rd, 2014 11:37 pm
[personal profile] rmc28
HEY EVERYONE I DID READING THIS WEEK.  For some reason, I had an absolute bumper week for reading actual books (paper and ebook) rather than Random Stuff On The Internet and short fanfic.  I also managed some monster long fics on the AO3 too, it's like I have concentration or something. I hope it lasts.

Books read this week
Battle for Bittora by Anuja Chauhan
Those Pricey Thakur Girls
by Anuja Chauhan
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Without A Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

I liked them all; Battle for Bittora I've already reviewed and I'll be writing up Those Pricey Thakur Girls too, but I'll try to write up the rest too (and woah, The Zoya Factor is only £1 on amazon.co.uk and 95p for the Kindle version BARGAIN except I already have it, duh). 

Ancillary Justice was especially amazing and everyone who told me I'd like it was right.  (huh, amazon have put up the kindle price since I  bought it at the weekend, perhaps they've noticed the Hugo nomination too)

Currently reading
God's War by Kameron Hurley, because she helpfully wrote a blog post "if you liked Ancillary Justice and God's War you'll love ..." which includes a bunch of books I already know I love (the Elizabeth Bear and the Octavia Butler, since you ask) so I thought I'd see if the reverse was true.  I think it might be on the edge of a bit grim for me, but it's keeping me engaged so far.

What's next
Not sure, but probably Infidel, the sequel to God's War, unless that does tip over into too grim for me.

A Superior Spider-Man Retrospective

Apr. 23rd, 2014 08:54 pm
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Posted by Jamie Kingston

Full disclosure. I am, now, have always been, and will always be a Spider-Man fangirl. I saw the 1966 Spider-Man cartoon when I was four, fell in love instantly, and have never looked back. I hung on through the Clone Saga and gritted my teeth through One More Day. Peter Parker has always been my favorite non-mutant hero.

That said, I was very curious when I heard about the Superior Spider-Man title which has now ended its run after 31 issues. I’m looking back at the mega-arc with a curious ambivalence. I enjoyed it mostly, but while delighted to see the one true Spidey back, I’m still kinda sad this wild ride is over. This retrospective through my eyes may help you decide whether it’s worth trying.

Writer Dan Slott has already tweeted that he’s getting a lot of tweets from people eating crow who freaked out at the very idea.

superior_slott So let’s go back to 2012: the buzz was that something big, something unspeakable was happening. Writer Dan Slott was having to go into hiding and lock up all his social media. Why? Fanboys–and here I stress “boys”–were slinging death threats. Death. Threats. Because Dan Slott, with Marvel’s backing, was ending The Amazing Spider-Man with Spider Man’s death and a new Spider-Man was taking over for him. So this crime was worthy of threatening the writer’s life. All I can do is shake my head.

When I found out it was Doc Ock taking over as Spider-Man, I was dubious yet curious. When I heard Octavius was taking over Peter Parker’s very body, I was appalled and amused–body swapping is old hat in sci-fi, fantasy and comic book circles after all–but still intrigued. I was certain that even if the change was happening, it wouldn’t be permanent. Spider-Man is a Marvel flagship character, and at the time, had just launched a new movie franchise with a sequel on the way.

Keeping that in mind made it easy for me to entertain the idea with certainty that Peter Parker was not going away for good. Which of course has now been proven right; the beauty of retrospective! As I’ve said many times, though, I’m a pushover for a great redemption story, so I got on board out of curiosity and hope.

SPOILER WARNING: various plot points and tidbits will be revealed from here forward. If you’re a new reader, you may want to see how it turns out–but if not, here’s your heads up!

superior_showdown

The title has not been the redemption story I hoped for, quite honestly. The core title was a few issues of Octavius-as-Spidey trying briefly to live up to the great power, great responsibility mantra that the original embodied, with only a fragment of Peter Parker’s decent spirit left to watch from the peanut gallery of his own backbrain. Otto was, at the onset, a bad man whose bombardment with the life and thoughts of Peter Parker, guilted and shocked him into attempting to become good. Slott chose to show us how far he had to go to get to Peter’s level by letting us see him at his grossest–masturbating to Peter’s memories of Mary Jane (ewwwwww!) and ogling her when in person.

superior_smarmyThe art went all out to show us how smarmy and slimy he was in how he acted toward her. The smiles were exaggerated, the gestures far more expansive — obviously a man trying to impress a beautiful woman he has no clue about, and thinks it doesn’t really matter. But Otto soon realized that reliving too many of Peter’s memories of Mary Jane resulted in Otto developing the same emotional connection to them that Peter had. He fell in love with her, and broke off their (hers and Peter’s) burgeoning relationship to keep her safe–something Peter had never been able to do. He also shared Peter’s familial adoration for Aunt May. While it lasted, he did her the great good of restoring her ability to walk.

Doing the hero thing was a lot more of a challenge than Octavius expected. But instead of respecting Peter for doing it, he wrote Peter off as insane for putting up with the abuse that comes from fighting supervillains on a regular basis. Unfortunately, while amping his efficiency, he also amped his brutality — using his spider-strength where the real Spidey would’ve held back, raining vicious violence on enemies Spidey always went sort of easy on. He also approached heroing from the standpoint of his own numbers vs. Peter Parker’s. He uses lethal force, which Spider-Man has made a point of avoiding.

On becoming aware of the original Parker’s presence within their shared mindscape, Octavius tried his best to obliterate the remaining shards of Peter’s mental presence, and nearly succeeded. So much for Otto Octavius proving himself a great hero, and so much for his having really turned over a new leaf. That doesn’t mean Dan Slott still didn’t tell a good and interesting story. Octavius went from trying to be a hero and live up to the  “great power, great responsibility” mantra, to rationalizing that he was while he was actually just seeking self aggrandizement. He was in it only to do things his way, stroke his own ego, and to prove himself a superior Spider-Man to Peter Parker in every way. Too bad Octavius missed that what made Spider-Man so good wasn’t the gadgets or the intellect — it was the humanity.

Hubris and Humility

Dan Slott did a great job with the bait and switch, though. Octavius improved on the Spider-Man costume, adding claws, nanites, and spider-armed backpack, not to mention other fancy gizmos that make a longtime reader like me wonder “why didn’t Peter think of that?”. But when it all came down to it: his superior goggle lenses for the mask? Hacked. His spider-bots? Orwellian to the point of the public turning against them — and also hacked. His Spider-Minions? Goofballs, barely above henchman level.

The satellite titles, though, (Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, the crossover one-shots and Mighty Avengers) have been instances of Otto discovering the upside of being a compassionate hero, of doing the right thing, and how rewarding it is to do the right thing for no other reason than “someone needed help”… and facing the consequences of arrogant hubris. He also gets a look at some of his villainous former friends, and sees them through new eyes. There’s disgust there, for seeing how far some of the bad guys were willing to go to be bad; and to his amazement, seeing children used as pawns is a sore spot for Otto in his new guise.

On the flip side, Otto is unusually gentle in dealing with the original five X-Men who were brought to the present day, treating them like precocious students who aren’t living up to their potential. They’ve been a joy to read, seeing Otto making baby steps toward becoming a better man almost in spite of himself.

As I see it, in the long run, there was too much baggage carried in the mental history of Doc Ock for his life as Spider-Man to have undone enough of his badguy history to make a real difference.

superior_jessicaThe early issues of Mighty Avengers highlight Otto’s egotism. When he discovers Luke Cage forming a new Avengers team, he immediately decides he’s best suited to lead it. When none of the others agree, he brings down his spider-henchmen and spider-mecha to pull a Might Equals Right takeover. It doesn’t go well. Adorable baby Dani Cage recognizes there’s something not right about him, but the other Mighty Avengers have some internal issues going on that distract them from paying too much attention to the fact that the usually humble, playful, and underconfident Spider-Man is acting too big for his spandex. Jessica Jones does the lenses-shattering coup de grace that convinces the spider “hero” that this team does not want him as a leader and he’s better off focusing his energies elsewhere.

One of the Superior Spider-Man Team-Up issues was a crossover with the Terrigen explosion that came from the fall of the Inhumans’ Atillan. (For those not following the big crossover, a quick crash course: Terrigen Mist is the vapor that gives Inhumans their powers; they normally are exposed to it ceremonially. Atillan is the Inhumans’ home city. Their king, Black Bolt, crashed the city into the Hudson River, causing Terrigen to disperse into the atmosphere. It was picked up by the jetstream and went worldwide, creating Inhumans out of unsuspecting humans like Kamala Khan, the titular character of the new Ms. Marvel title which you should be reading.)

superior_screwupSuperior Spider-Man encounters one such: a woman who became an Inhuman when she refused to evacuate her studies at the Cloisters when the mists began creeping in. Superior Spidey comes across her in her new form — electricity embodied — and convinces her that she should try to embrace the new electrical powers that are freaking her out. He talks her into taking a codename of sorts, but doesn’t expend the effort to see that she was an unstable Luddite. So rather than making a protege hero as he intended to, he creates a new super-villain in Fulmina who decides that modern technology needs to go in order to return Earth to a purer culture.

Spider-Man then must act to undo what he brought about to save New York City. The story ends with the likely death of Fulmina who realizes he was right about the consequences of casting the world back into the middle ages; but all we get from Otto’s point of view is that in the end, she made him proud. No sorrow for her death, nor remorse for having put her on the wrong path inadvertently. Through this we still see that even attempting to help, he thinks of himself before others, and his lack of compassion informs any guidance he tries to offer.

The malappropriated Spider-Man gets momentary glimmers when he does good: like superior_heartwarmingthe glow of a little girl’s gratitude when he helps Cardiac save her life; and hints that he’s on the way wrong path. In the wake of Atillan’s fall, he realizes that sometimes good people do bad things, which mitigates his increasingly thuggish tendency to bludgeon his problems. In the same post-Atillan adventure in which he meets Fulmina, he simultaneously berates himself for stopping to help get the power on for a hospital, ponders on what stopped him from ignoring the crisis in favor of bigger issues, and finally gets on with his night, lingering on the heartwarmed feeling he got from helping. He also learns that while in Spider-Mode, Otto has Peter Parker’s tendency toward showmanship and quippiness, if not his humility.

In the team-up title, Sun Girl, who idolized (the real) Spider-Man gives him a “wtf” at going into battle with the new Superior (formerly Sinister) Six, whom Octo-Spidey mind controlled into “reforming” as “heroes”. The controlled villains themselves call him out for what he did, enraged that a so-called “hero” would do such a thing to them. But between his own audacity and encouragement from ne’er do wells such as Namor, Otto rationalizes his way back to thinking his path is the right one and that Peter Parker’s way was just weak. Telling himself everyone else was inferior, from the Avengers to Peter’s family and friends, he was able to work up just enough fake emotion to manipulate some people who should have suspected. Having Peter Parker’s body and voice made the deception all the more complete. But his supervillain ego got in his way, refusing to let him see the value in having friends, allies, and the upside of respecting the efforts of others.

Catching Thieves Just Like Flies

There’s no debating that the Superior Spider-Man racked up a decent hit count. Scorpion. Boomerang. Vulture. Massacre. Hobgoblin. And for a certain value of “taken down”, the Kingpin. But Otto’s short-sightedness extends beyond his actual eyesight.

Otto finds out the hard way that all his vain genius and sneering contempt for everyone else counts for nothing when he didn’t bother with foresight or relationship building. By the time he’s realized he’s alienated friends, allies, and lost his spider-army, he needs backup more than ever, but has no one to turn to, and is desperate, because in his hubris, he has underestimated the worst of Spider-Man’s enemies and has no idea how to defeat him. This comes as a double whammy because Otto never considered the Green Goblin as an issue or a threat — to someone who supposedly knows Spider-Man and his rogue’s gallery so well, such an oversight is side-splitting hilarity.

Having erased all his Peter Parker knowledge, Octavius has nothing but his own big brain when the Goblin makes his move. His much-prided genius is all but useless to him, because as Doctor Octopus, he was used to having time to sit and plot and think. But once the Goblin springs his trap, faux-Spidey is just reacting without getting an opportunity to plan, and that leaves him knowing he has no shot against his enemy. Norman Osborn’s insanity and having built a goblin army of his own to go against the Spider army, has the Octopus in Spider’s clothing flailing without a clue and it is a great deal of fun to see Otto hoist on his own petard because he just trusted his own genius to foresee every move any criminal might make.

But there’s no way to foresee the actions of the criminally insane. When one has grown up rationalizing that friends aren’t necessary, and that the contributions of others have no value, it’s even worse. This, though, draws a line under the tragedy of little brainiac Otto never having had friends. He never had them in his life, so never gained awareness of how important it is to have a support system. As such, he tossed away Parker’s like they were without value, never dreaming that burning bridges would come back to him when the chips were down.

It all works out though — (like you expected otherwise) — you can’t keep a good man down, and Peter Parker was never really annihilated from his own brain. A few of Parker’s memories had been recessed into Otto’s own mind when he cared about passing as Peter Parker, and those were enough for the original to cling to despite the attempted mindwipe. They almost were not enough; hiding in Otto’s psyche nearly wiped Peter away altogether.

The ironic part is that when Otto cared about Peter’s life, he improved it — for his own purposes. He completed Peter’s college education and got a doctorate. He got a new tech startup put together. But other than to his romantic interest Anna Maria, Otto was still the same old bloviating windbag jerk. The other irony is a line that’s been oft repeated in the go-rounds between Ock and Spidey: “if only you used your powers for good”.

There was some real potential there, squandered because Otto couldn’t get past his own hurt feelings. As for “the good” Otto did as Spider-Man, that’s debatable. Sure, he stopped a bunch of crime, and was a boon to the NYPD; but he’s really done a number on Spidey’s  hard-won good reputation.

He built a great relationship with J. Jonah Jameson right at the beginning, then blackmailed him, squandering the good will. Again we get to say “so much for heroism”. At best, Otto-Spidey was an anti-hero. Speaking of Jonah, by the end of the series, he came completely unraveled in a way that is kind of poignant. He betrayed his wife’s dying wish, and cost himself the mayorship of the city with his newer, more pernicious Spider-Man hate. It will be very interesting to see how Jonah bounces back from this — if he does.

A new spin

Slott and his co-writers even managed a few new characters that warrant mention.

superior_oliveiraA new character of color was introduced in Pedro Olivares, MJ’s new boyfriend. A new non-typical character was introduced in little person Anna Maria Marconi. They both live to the end of the series.

 

superior_sungirlBiracial Selah Burke, the new Sun Girl, now a New Warrior, is also a person of color, and was introduced on the pages of Superior Spider-Man Team Up.

 

superior_sajaniWoman of color Sajani Jaffrey, once a minor character from Horizon Labs has been given a more supporting role now that she’s on board with the new Parker Industries.

 

superior_2099

Finally, old fan fave, biracial Miguel O’Hara aka, Spider-Man 2099, is back from the future, stuck in 21st Century New York, and getting his own series come July. I can’t wait. The idealistic Spidey and the cynical one fight side by side in the finale of this series, but it’ll be good to see the snarkier webslinger on his own once again. Especially since I just saw the solicitations and Peter David is back behind the keyboard! Dreams do come true!

Fly in the Ointment

I’ve gone on about the character development and storytelling so long I might seem like I’m gushing. Is Superior Spider-Man a perfect series? No. It had a lot of problematic elements from the treatment of Otto as Peter, and a lot of meta-elements that were troublesome for a reader.

Otto never told anyone in his civilian life that it was him as Peter so that cast a very nasty pall of sexual assault onto every romantic relationship he pursued. So while superior_boobshotextremely squicky, it did a great job showing that no matter how grand his aspirations of being a hero, Otto was still a long way from being a hero, even with Peter Parker’s memories driving him toward doing right. It also illustrated that Otto is fairly clueless about how to build and develop healthy relationships, again putting a sad underline under an extremely messed up approach. MJ, being the firecracker she is, got fed up and walked.

Black Cat only saw him as Spidey, and by that time he’d expunged Peter’s recollection of her, so she never got a chance to hit on him. All he did was knock a tooth out — and create ill will Peter may have to explain his way out of.

Poor Anna Maria Marconi, who genuinely returned Otto’s feelings, never knew better. By the time she finds out the truth, the man she loved will already be replaced by the rightful owner of his body. Thankfully, Slott wrote the physical part of their relationship as having never gotten further than kisses; they were rudely interrupted by Spider-business before they could consummate.

The hardest part any reader will likely have to swallow is that people who know and love Peter Parker should’ve recognized something was off by his speech patterns alone. Otto-as-Peter still talked like an arrogant mad scientist, calling people “dolt”, “clod”, and “imbecile”. He referred to people he’s supposed to love by their last names alone. No one at Horizon labs suspected anything other than “wow, Peter’s acting like a jerk these days”. I can’t complain about this too much either, though, since the arc brought back Spider-Man 2099, who did notice that his old acquaintance was acting like a “bithead”.

In the Team-Up issues, Scarlet Spider also noticed that his “brother” wasn’t quite acting himself. Cardiac, who is sort of a grey hat, also noticed. But none of them were in a position to do anything more than call Spider-Man out on it, and neither had friends or allies they could go to and get their suspicions confirmed. There were hints that Mary Jane and Aunt May both suspected things, but neither woman got to really act on her suspicions.

The Avengers were conveniently in outer space or fighting bigger threats. Otto talked them out of a mind probe when they got back to see their goofy Spider-Man acting strangely, then quit outright when they called him out after dealing with Venom. The X-Men were conveniently elsewhere, so no telepaths. Pretty much everything that could’ve undone the ruse was handwaved, asking the reader to not examine it too closely. Dan Slott could’ve had Otto whip up a psi-baffler to avoid telepathic detection, and had clever Octavius come up with a plausible explanation. This all seemed a little clumsy from an otherwise fairly tight story arc.

While the problematic elements were stumbling blocks, it was interesting to see Otto see himself from the outside. He dug into his own past early in the series, was disgusted at how foolish he came across from the outside, and realized it was no wonder no one took him seriously. The flipside gave a startling amount of pathos. Peter, hiding in Octavius’ psyche, got to see Otto’s life: the abusive father, overly smotheringly devoted mother. Peter got to see that being bullied for brains was something that Parker and Octavius had in common. Peter ends up left very aware that if not for Uncle Ben and Aunt May, he could’ve ended up on the mad scientist career path himself. That’s a hallmark of Peter Parker, though — compassion under the quips.

Lastly, a bit of ableism in the dialogue. Once Peter gets his body back, Ollie, who’s only up until now met the possessed Parker, asks if Peter is “bipolar”. That’s an unfortunate hallmark of living in 2014 — mental illness is not taken seriously and words describing real problems are used to illustrate mere inconvenient behavior.

Web Women

No look back at the series would be complete without recognizing how instrumental and important women were in this series. SpOck (as the fandom nicknamed him) hired Sajani from Horizon and love interest Anna Maria as his employees at the new Parker Industries. Very weird to see the sexist guy recognizing two women as the sharpest minds around him, even if he didn’t acknowledge others’ intelligence when it would’ve helped him in his super-guise.

superior_annamariaWhile Anna Maria got grabbed to hurt Otto as his damsel in distress at the series’ climactic moment, her brains were what attracted Otto to her, and that, and her compassion and empathy are what he loved about her. The twist is that Otto sacrificed himself to save her, and Spider-Man only knows her through Otto’s memories, but lacks the emotional connection to her. Best of all is that Peter trusted Anna Maria to be able to save herself — and she did, only needing a slight web-slinging assist. Despite having frozen a couple of times when her life was endangered during the series, she doesn’t make Spidey split his attention from the greater threat to help her. I just hope she remains in the title a little longer and that Slott finds a way to keep her among the cast once she and the real Peter have to work out a gentle stand down.

superior_carlieCarlie Cooper, whom Peter tried to convince about the body swap before this whole thing took place, teamed up with Yuri Watanabi (the Wraith), and the two of them, with the least resources of Spider-Man’s many acquaintances, found out the truth. Alas, Carlie also ended up victimized and villainized, but with help from Sajani, will soon be her old self. superior_watanabe

Wraith did a fair amount of buttkicking as part of the investigation, and due to falling victim to the Goblin tech, feels she has some more to do yet, as she failed in her own eyes as Carlie’s partner. It wasn’t entirely her fault; her Wraith mask had lenses affected by the same hack used on Superior Spider-Man’s, due to both having been programmed by Horizon’s Uatu Jackson.

While Sajani is very upset with “Peter Parker”, she was  instrumental in the defeat of the goblin with Otto’s help. So in the end, Peter won by teaming up with Spidey 2099, Otto, and a civilian.

Amazing Superiority

Peter Parker got his body back in Superior Spider-Man #30 and it was a joy to behold. It was a fantastic, victory lap around the apartment, booty dance of joy moment… tempered with a surprisingly touching moment as Otto finally acknowledges having learned the lesson too late: Peter was always the superior Spider-Man.

The finale in issue #31 is everything a spider-fan could ask for. Peter, thrilled and exultant in getting his rightful body back, has only minutes to get himself up to speed before having to jump straight into action to take on the Goblin King. He manages to convince Carlie it’s no longer Otto driving the body, gets the Marvel Universe’s fastest recap without superspeed, and he’s back in the game!

superior_quipThe confrontation with the big Goblin is pure poetry. Goblin does his monologue thing, gloating at the Spider-Man he believes is Otto-in-the-original’s outfit. All it takes is one quippy little remark for him to realize that the original is back.  Pompous prattling and lofty self-important phrasing is not the rightful Spidey’s style; and if no one else got that — his greatest enemy did in nanoseconds! The Goblin’s immediate reaction of “NOPE!” is Tumblr animated gif-worthy.

Does the day get saved? Of course. Does anybody die? Well, if you asked Peter Parker, yes. Are there still threads left untied? So, so many. Which will make a fascinating read for the next few months or years as Peter and company sort through what happened. MJ will likely get the whole truth if she’s willing to sit still long enough, but the rest will take some time rebuilding the damage.

The trades for the series have already been released; since the series came out at double-speed from a normal monthly comic, so did the collections. The Amazing Spider Man: Dying Wish is the run-up to the body swap, and the final issues of Peter’s title which was cancelled for Superior. Superior Spider-Man, the core title has these: Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy, Volume 2: A Troubled Mind, and Volume 3: The Big Leagues. In addition, there are also trades for Superior Spider-Man Team-Up and The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which I haven’t had a chance to pick up yet!

Parker Prospective

The fallout and cleanup as Peter tries to get his life back in order (and gives what-for to the people who should’ve realized something was wrong) is going to be…well, spectacular. Otto did do a little good. But he did a lot of harm: to other people and to Peter’s relationships. Even the enemies.

The ones who make it back into the villain game are going to be vengeful: Scorpion lost his jaw and Vulture his eyesight at SpOck’s hands. On the other hand, he helped stop the Goblin in a way Peter never managed before. A little girl is alive thanks to Spider-Man’s help while Ock was running the body, and Peter Parker now has his doctorate. Will the tech startup survive to thrive after the events of the Goblin Army attack? I’m looking forward to finding out.

Is Doc Ock gone for good? Doubtful. It’s Comics — duh — and besides that, the mindwipe doohickey has already been proven once to not be 100% successful at eradicating a personality from the mindscape. Which means if it works the same way this time, Peter may end up a roommate in his brain. Doubt we’ve seen the last of him. But Peter, if he’s smart, will go find a telepath right quick to get that handled. If he’s not too busy being delighted to have a body again to think about it.

See you soon, Spidey 2099!

Sayonara, Superior Spider-Man, it was fun while it lasted.

LONG LIVE THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN!

 

 

 

[syndicated profile] womenwriteaboutcomic_feed

Posted by Ardo Omer

Once again, the lack of diversity in BookCon’s line up has many furious on Twitter today. The guest list is up with 30 Caucasians, 1 cat and 0 persons of color which has many scratching their heads wondering how ReedPOP, the organization producing BookCon, could have messed up so severely in the representation department. As I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t the first time this issue and outrage was brought up. According to a Publisher’s Weekly piece published this past April 11th, “The group promises to add one or more additional panelists that “reflect the community and make a great panel even better,” Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global v-p, said.”

It’s been almost two week’s since then with no visible changes. There have also been responses to this from BookExpo of America who tweeted:

As they say, talk is cheap and if your words don’t match up with your actions then they mean absolutely nothing. The only upside to this list is the number of women represented: twelve out of thirty. And no. It’s not called diversity if you’ve included a cat.

andrewducker: (Serious)

Hearthstone is my new timesuck

Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:30 pm
[personal profile] andrewducker
I picked it up at the weekend. Well, originally I picked up Diablo III's free demo to see what it was like now they'd peeled the awful "real money trading house" and "ridiculous grind so that you have to use the real money trading house" off of it.

And it was great fun. I finished the first secion (which is what you get in the demo) and it did a great job of giving me a nice effectiveness curve, so that I constantly felt challenged, but with intermittent sections where I felt like Legolas carving my way through a legion of orcs in a stylish manner. If I can persuade Julie to join me at some point then I'll definitely be picking up a couple of copies for us to play together.

I noticed that Hearthstone was also available. It being a free-to-play CCG based on the Warcraft background. It's very slick, the tutorial introduces things nicely, and the game itself is very smooth. I've played through a fair chunk of the training levels, slowly unlocking new cards as I defeated the various available classes (there are 10 different classes, each of which has its own unique cards, which means that each one has a very distinct flavour). This evening I met up with John and we played three games - I won two, and he slaughtered me in the third. I now have the urge to spend a chunk of the weekend building a more optimised deck. If anyone else is playing then feel free to add me (and leave a comment here so I know who you are...) - I'm AndrewDucker#2439. I won't be on a huge amount, but as games only take 5-20 minutes to play, I don't need to be on for long to get a match in...
[syndicated profile] womenwriteaboutcomic_feed

Posted by LB Royal

Bee and Puppycat #1 Cover by Natasha Allegri

Bee and Puppycat #1 Cover by Natasha Allegri

Have you ever wondered what a 20-something magical girl might be like? If so, you should probably plan on picking up a copy of Bee and Puppycat, created and co-written by Natasha Allegri. The comic, based on the animated webseries of the same title, tells the tale of hapless Bee and the mysterious Puppycat, who fell out of the sky and changed both of their lives forever. Even before the first season of the series broke the record for the most successfully funded webseries on Kickstarter, BOOM! Studios was teasing audiences with “of course we’re making the comic.” On May 14th, issue one of six hits comic book shops, co-written by Allegri and Garrett Jackson, with art by Allegri and colors by Patrick Seery.

Allegri has noted that Bee and Puppycat has several style and story influences, and the most obvious of them all may be Sailor Moon. In a 2013 Comics Alliance interview, Allegri stated “It’s all Sailor Moon, definitely.” Bee is a contemporary, 20-something Usagi Tsukino (or Serena for my dub watching peeps), but instead of struggling to keep up her grades like Usagi, Bee struggles to hold down a job. In the series pilot, Puppycat appears in a flash of light, knocking Bee to the ground as she walks home after being fired from her latest job, just as Usagi literally stumbles across Luna, the sagely feline guardian in Sailor Moon.

Usagi meets Luna in Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

As Luna facilitates Usagi’s transformation into Sailor Moon, Puppycat initiates Bee’s transformation (into an outfit she doesn’t like), but instead of a transformation brooch, Bee gets a psychedelic cat scratch, a space suit, and a sword. Unlike Luna, who often derided Usagi’s obsession with food and boys, Puppycat may be slightly more positive, despite his curmudgeonly nature. Allegri stated:

“My main concern was to avoid mean spirited humor… I wanted to try to make something that was nice, with good intentions. But other than that… there’s a lot of early 90′s kid anime influences.”

These obvious influences only add to Bee and Puppycat’s charm. The series presents a fresh approach to the magical girl genre, infusing it with heartfelt humor and very real characters that are equal parts sweet, flawed, and relatable. Little has been revealed about the storyline itself, other than BOOM! describing it as a slice of life story. If the pilot is any indicator, readers will follow Bee as she navigates unemployment, interstellar battles, and awkward encounters with her handsome neighbor. Perhaps the comics will even reveal more of Puppycat’s tragic origin story, but we’ll just have to wait until May 14th to find out.

Get pumped for Bee and Puppycat by watching Episode 1 and Episode 2 on Cartoon Hangover!

And, if you just can’t wait to pick it up from your local comic book shop, you can pre-order a subscription for all six issues from BOOM! online. Issues will ship the week of the print release.

 

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

imageThe appointment of Obama’s strategist David Axelrod to advise the Labour Party has prompted the Standard to take a look at the digital operations of the three main parties. All three are looking to the success of the Obama campaign’s collection and use of data.

We know that the most effective digital campaigners are those who spend most of their time on the doorsteps. Jo Swinson was a Twitter pioneer, as was Willie Rennie and we know how much time Tim Farron spends on there. These three share a massive commitment and getting out and talking to people in real life. The rest is supplementary.

The Standard talks to digital gurus from Labour, the Conservative and our very own Austin Rathe.

What you need is political data about the right people in the right places,” says Austin Rathe, the Lib-Dems’ digital chief. That is often still best gathered face to face.

The article acknowledges that we were the first Austin, who is described, accurately, as “well regarded” added that our digital stuff is “very much based on the US experience. “

It goes on to talk about the problems the Tories have had with their Merlin database, most notably when it went down during the Eastleigh by-election last year.

What the Standard article didn’t mention was the stellar success of the SNP’s digital operation in 2011 when it did what was thought to be impossible and won an overall majority at Holyrood as this Herald report shows.

Pivotal, as it was in 2007, was the party’s bespoke voter database, Activate.

A record of all 3.9 million voters, it also showed which people had voted previously, and how they fitted into 44 consumer types identified by postcode, family type, income and age.

The SNP reckoned it could win by appealing to around 20 demographic groups, and went after them with a vengeance.

For example, instead of wasting money leafleting serial non-voters in Labour council estates, Activate could pinpoint regular, aspirational voters in new-build houses popular with families.

There was also an Activate smartphone App, which told activists on the ground the nearest doors to knock on, then let them feed their canvass returns back instantaneously, updating Activate.

In some weeks, the SNP was able to canvass 25,000 people. Most commercial polls talk to around 1000 people.

You can have all the shiny tech in the world, but it only works if you give it fuel in terms of reports of voter contact. I’ve become more and more convinced, especially with being in Government, that it’s the conversations that will persuade people to vote for us.  As I argued after the Dunfermline by-election, a little more conversation is what’s needed. Of course, the Americans don’t have the option of door to door leafleting as it’s illegal, so they have to get out there and find their voters. It’s highly affective. So, I guess if you’re a Lib Dem member, the challenge is to speak to as many people as possible in the first instance over the next 29 days and then almost constantly until May 2015.

Photo by duda C.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

[syndicated profile] womenwriteaboutcomic_feed

Posted by Ivy Noelle Weir

Well, it happened, you guys: all of my dreams came true.

After a few false rumors that John Layman and Rob Guillory’s amazing Image series Chew was on its way to television and movies, we’ve finally got a confirmation: Chew will be getting an animated feature. Tony will be voiced by The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun, and Amelia will be voiced by Felicia Day (a notoriously polarizing presence in the geek community).

The feature, which will go direct to digital download, is being created under the banner of Heavy Metal, you know, that magazine that features sexy, big-breasted robot ladies (or, alternately, ladies riding dragons) on the cover? The magazine was purchased last year by David Boxenbaum, a music industry vet, and Jeff Krelitz, a film producer. The pair have already committed to a number of comic adaptation projects (including a Peter Panzerfaust film), but they also are talking things like a “Game Of Thrones-style take on The Wizard Of Oz”, which frankly, sounds super gross. The script is being written by co-creator John Layman, so at least we know the writing should be consistent.

So, I say to thee, new heads of Heavy Metal, don’t mess this one up. Please.

It’s actually been something of a big week for Chew, with Layman tweeting several photos sure to have fans worked up. First, a look at the upcoming Chew/Revival crossover book, which formerly held the title of Thing I Was Most Excited For©:

Images from @themightylayman

Images from @themightylayman

Layman also posted some teaser art for Warrior Chicken Poyo, a truly insane looking book about everyone’s favorite cybernetic murder chicken, currently being solicited for July in this month’s previews:

Bl11uhvCQAEQaMt
So there you have it: if you’ve been stalling on Chew, this is a good time to dive in and check out what is certainly one of the weirdest, most unique (and sometimes most disgusting) books on the shelf.

What do you think about the casting? Do you think Chew will adapt well to the small screen? Let me know in the comments!

Staff Picks for May

Apr. 23rd, 2014 06:00 pm
[syndicated profile] womenwriteaboutcomic_feed

Posted by Claire Napier

COWL, Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel / Rod Reis. Image, April 2014.Catie: This month, I’m most excited for yet another Image book: C.O.W.L. written by Kyle Higgins with art by Alec Siegel and Rod Reis. The story is all about a superhero labor union in ’60s Chicago, which promises me all the delicious politics that I love so much yet rarely see in my cape comics. In C.O.W.L., people with powers first came to light after World War II, and thought the best thing to do was…become government employees! Now decades later, the bloom has come off the rose and the members of C.O.W.L. have to prove themselves to a doubting public as well as battling threats from inside and out.

I am always fascinated by the way heroes’ presence in a world would change it and the day-to-day practical struggles that come with having superpowers. Not even Superman can defeat a well-crafted bureaucracy like city government! Plus, Chicago in the ’60s is a rich setting, and I can’t wait to see how the art team bring it to life. Labor politics in my superhero comics? Truly two great tastes that taste great together.

The Woods, Ramon Perez. BOOM Studios, June 2014.Jamie: Oooh, BOOM! Studios has a new title coming out in the first week of May that has definitely got my ears perked. The Woods is about a small high school from Milwaukee Wisconsin that gets transportedteachers, students, faculty, and allto a mysterious woods in the middle of who-knows-where. Why have they been moved there? What will happen to the 513 people? How will they make it back? Will they make it back at all? So many questions just from the premise alone!

It sounds a little like LOST, which I missed when it was in its heyday on TV, but with a darker twist. And the art by Ramon Perez is compelling even in previews.

Laura: I know this probably isn’t crazy NEW news, but I am excited for Rat Queens to come back from their hiatus and start a new story arc in May. I went to the Rat Queens Creator panel at ECCC and from what Upchurch and Weibe had to say about the next arc (Sherwood Texas/Sons of Anarchy, FCBD 2014.focused on Dee!) it sounds like it’s going to be very interesting and introspective.

Claire: I’m excited for Sherwood, Texas, but also afraid. Its first issue is a Free Comic Book Day freebie, which is great. But it almost sounds TOO perfectRobin Hood biker gang, need I say moreand the creative team went out of their way to assure us, on an old Friday Poll, that there are rounded and important female characters. I am a lady archer with a motorcycle and a love of justice, so I basically want to roll myself up in fifty copies and dangle from the rafters over a low bonfire until I am smoked through and turned into vigilante leather. If this book is bad, I’m going to die.

[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ibid has worked out how to get up to the top shelf of the book case in my bedroom and from there to the top of the door, just as Fig did months ago.

What he can't do is get back down....

May 2014 Big Idea Slots All Filled

Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:28 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

The headline says it. I believe I’ve contacted all outstanding queries, but in case I missed yours, here’s your notification. Moving on to June now.


[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Newsmoggie

lorely-outside-parliament-1 lorely burtVince Cable has appointed Lorely Burt to a new role aimed at promoting and supporting female entrepreneurs. From the Yorkshire Post:

Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt will help women-led businesses to understand the help available to their new and growing firms.

She started her career in the prison service and rose to become assistant governor at HMP Holloway, a tough female-only prison in North London.

Ms Burt later worked for companies including Beecham and Europcar in the field of personnel and training before setting up her own training company.

Mr Cable said: “Lorely will bring a wealth of experience to this role, having worked in and started up her own business.

“She is not only a role model for other female entrepreneurs, but will be an ambassador for the support currently available to ambitious women-led firms.

“Female-led businesses currently make up 20 per cent of small and medium sized businesses, and it’s important when women consider starting their own businesses they know more about the support and help on offer, and the opportunities available.”

Lorely said:

Just 20 per cent of British businesses are owned and controlled by women. This is a shocking waste of entrepreneurial talent that should be enriching customers, businesses and our economy generally.

My job will be to investigate the true picture of women’s enterprise in Britain and how Government can encourage existing and would-be entrepreneurs reach their full potential – I can’t wait.

BIS has a formidable team of women in place. Lorely joins Jo Swinson(whose maternity leave is being covered by  Jenny Willott) introducing revolutionary shared parental leave, strengthening consumer rights, tackling payday lenders introducing a grocery adjudicator to make sure suppliers get a fair price from supermarkets.

* Newsmoggie – bringing you comment on the Lib Dems whether it's deserved or not

[syndicated profile] hathorlegacy_feed

Posted by Jennifer Kesler

The US Supreme Court has just issued a rather odd ruling. A young woman called “Amy” in court papers was filmed being raped by her uncle at ages 8 and 9. Then the videos went viral on the internet amongst child pornography traffickers. Amy has asked for restitution under a law Congress passed in the […]

matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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