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Mela's 2013 Year in Review Part Two: The Good Stuff

Okay, Part 1 was Gripe-a-palooza.  Part 2 is the stuff I liked, and I’ll try really hard to make it more than just fannish gushing.  Also, as part of my Shift to Positive, I’ll be offering a Mea Culpa for some initial knee-jerk reactions in the past, since my revisits have changed my impressions.
As I said before, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS for stuff that’s mentioned.
BEST TV SHOW: Steven Universe:  “If every pork chop was perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs!”  Promoted largely because it’s from the first female original-show creator in Cartoon Network’s history (which surprised me, since they usually want to avoid acknowledging females in any way), it is a damn fine show.  Steven himself is a refreshingly sweet & dorky change of pace from the usual sassy & wiseass kid hero (which you do get a break from on Gumball & Adventure Time), the Gems all have great personalities & work well as his surrogate family, his supporting cast is growing realistically & distinctivel…

Mela's 2013 Year in Review Part One: Getting the Griping Done

Ah, 2013.  It was another year of pointless stress but what do you expect for adulthood?  It was the year I got back into anime, the year I finally figured out how the hell Tumblr works, the year I belatedly got hooked on Pokemon.  Everything outside of pop culture was trying extra, extra hard to make this a bad year, but the balance was otherwise such that I managed to stay sane. Like last year, I have decided to break this down into two parts, and since this is the year I made the choice to try & be more positive, I’m going to get any negativity out of the way in this first entry.  So here’s my disappointments & one bafflement for 2013.
(Please note that video games are not on this list.  There weren’t a lot of new games that came out that interested me – so that will be the Disappointment for 2013 for gaming – and the ones that did interest me were on the 3DS, which I just got for Christmas (whoo-hoo!).  So games are benched for this year, and the ones I'll be playing ar…

Omnicommentary #8: The New(est) Secret Origin of Brainiac 5!

Legionnaires #8: In Heart and Conscience Free

Creative Team: Tom & Mary Bierbaum (writers); Colleen Doran (penciller); John Nyberg (inker); Pat Brosseau (letterer); Tom McCraw (colorist); November 1993

Legion Roll Call: Alchemist; Andromeda; Brainiac 5; Cosmic Boy; Saturn Girl; Chameleon; Computo; Dragonmage; Invisible Kid.

Miscellaneous Notes: I'd say about half of those listed in the roll call are just in the first two pages, which are a fan-servicey pool party.  Since there's beefcake along with the cheesecake, I don't mind (even with that last panel - Ayla should really wear more than one leaf on her lower regions if she's gonna belly-flop like that.)

Summary: Brainy & a few friends travel to Colu to watch him receive a special honor, only for him to disappear.  It turns out the Coluan chancellor had him spirited to the mountains and has asked him to choose between staying with the Legion or serving his homeworld.  When he chooses the latter, Andromeda is heart…

New Mutants-Vember: New Mutants Forever (Review)

REVIEW: New Mutants Forever: The Fall of Nova Roma”
Chris Claremont (writer); Al Rio (penciller); Bob McLeod (inker); Guru EFX (colorist); Tom Orzechowski (letterer); collected in trade 2011, originally published between 2010 & 2011 (months not given in the trade indicia).
Issue 1, “Shadows in the Night”:  The New Mutants are staying the night at the Hellfire Club’s NYC headquarters after the big dance/race with the Hellions in #54 (see below).  While Doug helps Amara determine whether Selene’s claim that they’re related, the others go to Central Park (right outside the club).  While in the park, they are attacked by armed men, and they discover that Amara’s father is one of their targets.  The armed men rush the club, resulting in Rahne & Emma being hurt, and only stop fighting when they are killed en masse.  In the fight, Doug & Amara are kidnapped.  Amara’s father reveals he was trying to warn the Club (Selene in particular) about someone targeting Nova Roma & their f…

New Mutants-vember: Bottom 5 Least Favorite Simonson Plotlines

Most people would list the worst run in any of the X-books to be Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men run, and they’d be right.  But for personal reasons (because I have enough sense to avoid stuff written by a dude who rolled up from Penthouse of all places), I find that Louise Simonson’s run on New Mutants to be far more infuriating and upsetting.  Her run took a book that proved teen books didn’t have to be just soap opera and could literally do anything, and turned it into a generic mishmash.  Worse, it undid a lot of the good that the early days of the book had created.
Granted, some of the stuff isn’t on her head.  I really do believe her now that the decision to kill off Doug Ramsey was her trying to call fans’ bluffs.  The dropped ideas at the end of her run thanks to the coming of Liefeld, when there were actual interesting new concepts & plots introduced without explanation, are not her fault in the slightest – in fact, if they worked at all, it’s probably because of her.  But th…

New Mutants-Vember: For the Love of Hellions

In my mind, the Hellions are an integral part of the New Mutants’ history as a team.They were positioned as their evil counterparts, but thanks to smart development, it was made clear that only a handful were truly “evil” – and one of those, I have my doubts.They were friends & allies as much as dark mirrors to the heroes, and it was a shame that such an interesting & different relationship wasn’t explored as much (after Claremont left, they basically vanished from comics until it was time to kill them off).In fact, I would say the biggest strength of the DeFilippis/Weir title is that they really showed how their team of Hellions related with their team of New Mutants and made them even more fleshed-out & interesting than most of the heroes.Seriously, the Hellions mini was the best thing in their run, since it focused on the characters that were actually compelling (and also Wither).

ORIGINAL HELLIONS: If I had to give an honest answer as to a favorite of the original tea…

New Mutants-Vember: Bottom 5 New Mutants Members

You know how every action has an equal and opposite reaction?Well, every list of favorite team members has an equal and opposite list of characters I don’t like.I apologize if it’s a bit heavy with DeFilippis/Weir characters, but remember what I said about it being hit or miss; my absolute favorite characters they handled will be largely addressed next week, when I talk about everyone’s favorite frenemy team, the Hellions.
5. Wither: He has the rare distinction of being one of two Hellions I dislike as well.He’s one of those characters whose whole schtick is the reason the X-Men franchise has a reputation for wangst; yes, his powers sucked, but that was literally all there was to him – he had destructive powers & he hated them.He was so absorbed into hating them that he failed to notice when something not crappy (i.e. Mercury was inexplicably smitten with him) was approaching him, and he only went along with Selene because all she cared about were his powers, which were all he was …

New Mutants-Vember: Let the Festivities Commence!

Looking back on my history with the X-books, I realized that pretty much both of the seminal gateways to the world of the X-Men were bound to the New Mutants.The very first comic I picked up was Uncanny #281, that atrocious issue where the Hellions (among many other established characters) were killed off by the failed villain team the Upstarts.Later, when I discovered the franchise’s golden age in the 80s, it was through the storyline where Kulan Gath turned New York into a fantasy land thanks to Classic X-Men; in that story, most of the New Mutants were his minions, while Warlock was among the handful of heroes fighting to free the city.Probably not the best place for a newbie to come into the X-books in either case, but these two initial intros were what led to my fascination with the New Mutants.

But being fond of something for its place as an early introduction is one thing; my love of New Mutants is more than nostalgia.During Chris Claremont’s run on the title, I saw a comic wh…

Overthinking Everything: What's So Tricky About Peace, Love, and Understanding?

So I recently happened across the Legion Abstract, where author Matthew E had this exchange with a commenter named Jip:

JIP: An optimistic far future is what the Legion was originally founded on. Since that vision is no longer in style, it has been a MAJOR [his emphasis] challenge to plot and write stories.

MATTHEW E: It can still be done, though. Nothing wrong with swimming against the tide.

This begs a question that's been on my mind lately, for a long list of reasons both pop cultural & personal: Since when is optimism considered "tricky"?  Since when is a story with an overall optimistic tone considered a hard sell?  And why are you considered naïve at best if you don't subscribe to that attitude?

This is something that extends to everything from movies to comics to what amounts to an expected worldview.  Apparently, if you aren't horribly cynical, there's something wrong with you; you cannot be savvy and optimistic at the same time.  I make a delibe…

Omnicommentary #7: Bikinis with a Side of Awkwardness

Legionnaires #7: Devils in the Deep

Creative Team: Tom & Mary Bierbaum (writers); Adam Hughes (pencils); Mark Farmer (inks); Pat Brosseau (letters); Tom McCraw (colors); October 1993

Legion Roll Call: Brainiac 5; Andromeda; Apparition; Ultra Boy; Inferno; Shrinking Violet; Triad; and Matter-Eater Lad.

Miscellaneous Notes: The credits roll along the bottoms of the first few pages, which is understandable.  This isn't art you want to clutter up if you can avoid it.

Summary: Big fight's over, so let's have a downtime issue.  What's survived of the underwater city of Tritonis is a tourist trap & luxury resort which a handful of Legionnaires set off to enjoy.  They go to a resort run by a family of sorta-Asian merfolk & proceed to live it up.  However, after Inferno's date (the owner's daughter, Keiki) is hurt by a local packing heat & hunting a shadowy "sea devil", he learns a horrible truth - Tritonis has had numerous attacks from the sea…

List-O-Rama: Top Five Dated Things I Still Love

Yep, it's another response to the latest episode of Major Spoilers' Top Five, this time addressing dated things you can't help but love, even if they don't hold up in the light of the modern day.  I've spoken before about how I find nostalgia to be somewhat poisonous, but that is because I don't look back at things & think "This sucked! Why did I like this?" to "What about this still appeals to me, even though my tastes have changed?"  All of these things are stuff that I loved unironically & without any meta-knowledge as a kid but now have to approach with weird to define mental caveats.  So here are my Top Five Dated Things I Still Love

5. Cadbury Crème Eggs:  Ah, every dentist's favorite Easter treat.  I used to inhale these things as a kid, but some time in the last decade they just became unbearably sweet to me.  The flavored varieties like the chocolate cream & the dearly-missed orange cream weren't as much of an ins…