June 21st, 2009

kaiju

Local Rights vs. Developers



I've received an update from a post about Harsens Islands, 'Lucky 7' and 'Grand Pointe Development' for which I'm grateful - I'm sure this will be in next week's paper, but I'm pleased to post that the development companies have suffered another defeat in their attempt to rip apart the island for cluster housing development.

The prior posts on this continuing saga are HERE.


The newest update (from Thursday) is HERE.


Thank you to the anonymous replier to my post of 09-05-08! As well, I want to thank 'The Verifiable Truth' by name on this post for collecting all of the legal documents, the developers filed plans and the commission's, DEQ's and court's rulings in regards to this issue.


This isn't the first run in with the dollars behind these develpment scheme... as reported in the same article linked above, H.I. has already had to fight off attempts to build a large casino/resort project on the island (which, honestly - once you disclude [is that a word?] the land owned and managed by the DNR, is not that large) by the same guy and the Bay Mills Indians (a tribe belonging to Northern Michigan) and the Ilitch money.


Everyone seems to acknowledge that Harsens Island is a 'Blue Water Gem', but where we who live here want to see it remain semi-natural - others want to turn it into a little metropolis and thereby destroying the very characteristics that has made it recognized as a 'Gem' in the first place... but what the hell, they won't actually be living here, right?


At least we can score another win in keeping them from destroying what we love about living here (and paying the $100 every two weeks for the ferry tickets).
kaiju

Blood and Trenches Review



Angel: Blood and Trenches

# 3 out of 4 issues



Story and Art: John Byrne, Letters: Neil Uyetake, Edited By: Chris Ryall


Cover By: John Byrne
with Coloring By: Tom Smith/Scorpion Studios







Where We Are:
Angel has traveled to France after reading in a U.S. paper that soldiers in the war effort (WWI) are being found mysteriously drained of blood. He’s discovered that his suspicions are true – there are vampires interfering in the war. He’s met up with a Red Cross volunteer, but has been discovered by Colonel Wyndam-Pryce and barely escaped death by sunlight.


Traveling behind enemy line, he’s discovered that the vampires active against the allies are Crixus (who he’s had contact with as Angelus) and a ‘big bad’ vampire who looks suspiciously like Kakistos. We know the latter because he was hunting down Faith in BTVS: Faith, Hope & Trick – assuming it really is him….

I also have to flash-forward to Issue 4 and mention that the confusing jumps in the time line here are made clear in that issue… I can see that John chose to play with the events and their timing between these two issues and I get the creative challenge he was setting up for himself. I’m just not enamored with the results… but onto this issue….



Page 01:
First thing I want to do is mention that this is mostly a flashback issue. The reason I’m mentioning that up front is because at first I was confused as we open the issue in London at night during a heavy rain. We’re looking at a huge building and there’s a word bubble coming from a window of someone confirming they’ve been summoned.



Page 02 & 03:
We are in the presence of Colonel Wyndam-Pryce who is getting a briefing from three ministers (maybe that should be Ministers – they’re the government kind, not the religious kind). Anyway, they inform him about the rash of strange deaths that Angel will be reading about in the papers in Issue #1 in America.


A symbol found on the drained bodies reveals the involvement of a cult which had been reported destroyed – the Cult of Antemorh who the Colonel’s father died while destroying at some point in the past.



Page 04:
As the Colonel leaves, he’s updating his right hand man and driver, Dowling (a relative of Father Dowling who solves mysteries? Never mind.). Anyway, the rain has stopped and the Germans take this opportunity to begin bombing London using their ‘airships’… i.e. blimps.



Page 05:
As our heroes are shepherding civilians to the underground shelters, the Colonel hears a hideous scream. He immediately recognizes it as he has heard it more than once before.


As he rounds a corner into a short alley, he sees a vampire killing a woman.



Page 06:
The Colonel is quick to dust the offending vampire….



Page 07:
…, but he’s not alone. The Germans are dropping vampires from the blimps… not just bombs. Which neatly answers a question I had re: the Kaiser’s involvement with the vampires on the front lines.

It’s obvious that the Kaiser’s program of using the supernatural in war is the predecessor of Hitler’s doing so during WWII (Angel: Why We Fight).


The Colonel finds himself outnumbered, but is saved by Dowling.



Page 08:
The battle continues against the dropped vampires, with one of them retreating as it recognizes that the Colonel and Dowling are well trained to fight them. This may be a sly admission that the Colonel is a member of the Council, but I can’t be sure. He has certainly had plenty of experience fighting the fang-gang before this.



Page 09:
The Colonel mentions letting the ‘Home Guard’ know that German vampire-troops have landed in England. I thought that ‘Home Guard’ might be another sly reference to the Council, but it was a real group of volunteer militia that helped defend England during the War.


Anyway, Wyndam-Pryce also takes care of the victim off screen (but it’s apparent he’s going to behead the corpse).



Page 10:
Later, aboard ship, the Colonel and Dowling are on their way to France when they spot the U-Boat that Angel hijacked in Issue #1. They take a dingy to investigate the grounded craft.



Page 11:
Going aboard the U-Boat, they find the German crew dead from vampire. Angel must have done this in order to survive the trip, but it’s still disturbing to see the mass murder of these soldiers – even though they’re on the wrong side. Part of this is the artwork – John Byrne likes wide-eyed, shocked grimaces frozen in a scream to represent victims of vamps.



Page 12:
There are some discussions here about the motives of the (at this point) unknown vampire. Obviously, the Colonel doesn’t believe for a moment that the vampire in question could actually be on the allies’ side.



Page 13:
Wyndam-Pryce arrives at the Red Cross station… the one that Angel has already arrived at. We see a replay of both the German tri-plane and the ambulance crash of Angel’s from Issue #1.



Page 14:
We see the confrontation between Angel and the soldier who capture him for interrogation from Issue #1 from the distant viewpoint of the Colonel and Dowling (using field glasses).



Page 15:
The portion of Issue #1 where Angel is exposed to the dawn’s early light and dives into the frozen river (which will lead to him being taken captive in Issue #2 by Crixus).



Page 16:
This page repeats where the soldiers are shooting into the river at Angel and the Colonel deciding it’s time to interrogate Lady D’Ascoyne.



Page 17:
Now here, we pick up the story after Page 5 of Issue #2 briefly. A shadowy figure sneaks into Lady D’Ascoyne’s room.



Page 18:
It’s Angel.


And, here is where I get back into the mixed time line of the series. In Issue #2, we saw that Angel was taken prisoner by Crixus and was confronting the group of German vampires.


Now, here he is slipping into the Lady’s room after his escape from Wyndam-Pryce which led directly to his being taken prisoner.


With hindsight being 20/20 and having read Issue #4, this does make sense. It’s just confused because of the way the story has been structured.


Okay – Angel tries to explain that he’s on the allies’ side. This is really awkwardly written, I have to say as Angel goes into Angelus’ history unnecessarily.


Anyway, the good Lady rings for assistance when Angel’s back is turned.



Page 19:
Wyndam-Pryce and Dowling rushes into the room, and even Lady D’Ascoyne gets into the act by nailing Angel in the back of the head with a bed-heater.



Page 20:
Angel is able to kick Wyndam-Pryce off of him just as he’s ready to plunge a stake into his chest.


The Colonel and Dowling are thrown back against a closed door (a closet, maybe). As the Colonel makes a joke at Dowling about his “providing a nice cushion” since he’s a wee bit overweight, blood starts to trickle from Dowling’s mouth.


Poor Dowling gets a vampire claw punched through his back and out his chest.



Page 21:
And, here, FINALLY, it is confirmed that this is Kakistos!


We find out that he is the leader of the Cult of Antemorh – and killed Wyndam-Pryce’s father.


The Colonel tries the stake through the heart trick, but as we learned in BTVS, Kakistos is harder to kill than that.



Page 22:
Angel tries to intervene, but is knocked out of the window. More vampires close in on him as he lies on the ground.


The most important thing about this scene though, is Angel’s asking how Kakistos was able to get in…


Any guesses…?






Yes, Kakistos has gotten to Lady D’Ascoyne who invited him in.



The Good:
The cover is pretty darned cool, as well as the artwork within.


The story has nice pacing, even though for a large part of it we’re seeing events we already know from Angel’s POV in previous issues.


Dowling’s death was sudden and well handled
(though I have to admit, I didn’t see him making it to the end of the series).



The Bad:
Before you read Issue #4, this one is just confusing. The way Angel has moved from prisoner to his place and actions in this issue is a sudden, nonsensical shift from where we left off in Issue #2.


I can see it’s a purposeful playing with time and linear storytelling, but I don’t think it was successful if you take this issue on its own.






The Score:
I liked this one (even with my confusion), especially Lady D’Ascoyne who I’m sorry to see will not be making it out of this as a friend and ally of Angel’s.


I also like the way Wyndam-Pryce and Dowling are handled, particularly since Dowling came across as witty and warm. His death was sudden and unwelcomed. For those who don’t mind non-linear storytelling, I’m sure this will come across a lot better than it did for me. I’m rather prosaic and like things to occur in a logical order.
So… 4.25
out of 5.0

kaiju

Wrapping up 'Blood and Trenches'....



Angel: Blood and Trenches

# 4 out of 4 issues





Story and Art: John Byrne, Letters: Neil Uyetake, Edited By: Chris Ryall


Cover By: John Byrne
with Coloring By: Tom Smith/Scorpion Studios



Where We Are:
Angel is in France, tracking down vampires who are preying on the ally forces. At the same time, Colonel Wyndam-Pryce is also attempting to track down and stop the German Vampire forces… and he doesn’t see Angel as an “enemy of my enemy is my ally” sort.


We’ve discovered that Kakistos is the main bad guy and he’s recruited to woman, Lady Margaret D’Ascoyne, who appeared at first to be destined to be an ally and friend to Angel.



Page 01:
This issue, like the last, starts with a flashback. When we left Issue #3, Angel had somehow returned to the Red Cross station which houses Lady D’Ascoyne even though we’d seen him taken prisoner in issue #2 by Crixus – the lieutenant to Kakistos.


Now, we return to three days ago and we’re back with Angel as prisoner in the nunnery that Crixus and his demons had taken over. It starts with an aerial shot of the nunnery and a blurb saying ‘Three Days’.



Page 02:
Angel is chained to a wall. One of the three Germans he was brought here with has been tortured to death (“It took him nearly two days to die.”). The other two lie dead or unconscious at his feet.



Page 03:
Two German vampires come for Angel, allowing him to attempt an escape; doesn’t work.


As Angel points out in his narration, he’s weak after two days with no blood, while his foes are at the peak of their strengths.



Page 04:
Crixus has been left in charge ‘back at the ranch’ while Kakistos is elsewhere. (Here’s a hint – he’s at the Red Cross station, as seen in Issue #3.)


We get to see a nasty scene here, with the missing German. He’s been strung upside down above a brazier… remember it took him nearly two days to die?


Yeacch. Anyway, his throat was finally slit and there’s blood running from the corpse.


Crixus taunts Angel(us) by holding a cup of the man’s day old blood under his nose.



Page 05:
Crixus foolishly forces Angel’s head back and dumps the stale blood down his gullet.


Foolish because even though the blood doesn’t have the power inherent in fresh, Angel is quite a good fighter and the sudden short-lived surge in strength is enough for him to break free.



Page 06:
Good bye vampires – especially Crixus.



Page 07:
Angel runs for the river he used to reach behind the German lines back in Issue #2… in the meanwhile, more of the vampires have discovered he’s making his getaway and come after him.



Page 08:
Angel makes his way back to the Red Cross Aid Station featured in Issue #1 in order to recruit help from Lady D’Ascoyne.



Page 09:
As we know from Issue #3 – that didn’t work out so well. Here we get a very brief overview of what happened at the end of that issue. Before Angel snuck up the outside wall to the Lady’s bedroom window, he’d also visited the blood bank and gotten the ‘power boost’ he needed.



Page 10:
Kakistos follows Angel out of the window he’d been thrown out of. He’s very, very strong and is able to swing Angel around like a rag-doll. He calls his followers to kill Angel(us).



Page 11:
It’s another mistake (like Crixus’ releasing him and forcing stale blood down his throat in the first place). Angel is more than able to dust his followers.


Angel and Kakistos are ready for a final battle, when the rooster crows… literally!


Due to the coming dawn light, Kakistos retreats, climbing up a wall. At the same time, there is a growing roar that causes Angel to cover his ears.



Page 12:
The roar belongs to a plane, which is hanging down a rope ladder which Kakistos grabs for a ride.


Angel follows.


But Kakistos has a head start and is able to disconnect the ladder, sending Angel plummeting to the ground!


Thankfully, he falls into a haystack, which shields him from the now risen sun. It’s also covered in snow, which Angel uses to make it back to the Lady D’Ascoyne’s residence.



Page 13:
Back in the Lady’s room, she is helping the Colonel who is currently awakening from a blow to the head by Kakistos.


We know the Lady is under Kakistos’ influence, but here we see she also has two fang marks on the side of her neck. Something that isn’t a shock, but is sad – I rather liked Lady Margaret (as I did Corporal Dowling who died last issue).



Page 14:
Thankfully for the groggy Colonel, Angel bursts into the room again. He grabs the Lady and forces her into the sunlight streaming into a portion of the room. She immediately goes to ashes with a scream.



Page 15:
Angel informs Colonel Wyndam-Pryce that Kakistos’ long term plan is to sire an army of undead to flood London. He forces a temporary alliance in order to put a stop to the plan. Geoffrey Wyndam-Pryce is less than happy with this, but his men are all dead, so there isn’t a lot of choice.



Page 16:
Angel (covered from head to toe) and the Colonel make it through enemy lines (since the Germans were already turned by Kakisto, and ergo, were hiding out from the daylight).


Just as the sun is going beyond the horizon (how convenient!) they arrive at Kakisto’s keep – the destroyed nunnery.


The bad guys begin to take off in a plane….



Page 17:
Angel is able to grab onto a wing by his fingertips and yank himself aboard the plane.


Kakisto is there to confront him (see the cover).



Page 18:
As Angel and Kakistos fight on the plane’s wing, one of them is thrown into a propeller block, tearing it loose from the fuselage. The plane begins spinning out of control.



Page 19:
Whoops! More fighting only leads to even more damage of the already falling aircraft!



Page 20:
Kakistos and Angel’s fight comes to a sudden end when Kakistos takes a dive off of the damaged wing of the plane.


Thankfully for Angel, he’s able to also make it the ground relatively safely.



Page 21:
Angel is able to make it back to the ex-nunnery and another confrontation – this time against Wyndam-Pryce again.


The Colonel makes it clear that Angel is still the enemy and when next they meet, he’ll try to destroy the vampire. But, in light of the fact that Angel did save his life from the turned Lady Margaret, he’s allowed to walk away this time.



Page 22:
The Germans that were taken prisoner with Angel by the vampires are also allowed to leave unmolested by the Colonel… probably due to the fact that he’s all by himself there, and not really in a position to take them captive as prisoners of war.


One of these men makes it back to his own lines, desperately wishing to report about ‘the monsters’ he’d been threatened by.



Page 23:
The soldier is ordered to not mention ‘the monsters’ again… to anyone. No doubt because the Kaiser was actively involved in attempting to use the vampires against the allies.


Oh… and the soldier? His name is Corporal Hitler.



The Good:
The fighting scenes between Angel and Kakistos were really good and exciting. In fact, Kakistos was a good villain throughout the issue. The issue had to end unresolved, because Kakistos had to live to show up later in Buffy – and for that matter, so did Angel – so the wrap up was good that allowed both of them to show up later.



The Bad:
Nothing was badly done. I do have to say the twist at the end with Hitler was unnecessary and not nearly as clever as John Byrne obviously thinks.









The Score:
This was a decent issue that wrapped up the story of Angel’s involvement in WWI nicely. Kakistos was a nice touch, bringing one of the more impressive vampires from Buffy back in the only way that wouldn’t cause a roll of the eyes (a past story, rather than bringing him back from ashes). The artwork throughout the series was pretty great, including this issue and the final fight between Kakistos and Angel was exciting: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.


The series score comes out as:
4.125 out of 5.0 stars for the series.

kaiju

DADT



Fresh Air, with Terry Gross, had two good interviews about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from its history through to a soldier who was dismissed under the policy earlier last week. I'm just getting caught up on the NPR programs today, but I thought this was some powerful stuff, so here's the linkage for anyone interested:


Historian Nathaniel Frank and veteran Alex Nicholson


For the record, I'm one of the folks who voted for Obama and is currently really disappointed and kind of pissed with his lack of movement on the overturning of DADT. I understand there are other priorities at the moment, but the fact that he hasn't used his power as Commander in Chief to put a 'Stop Loss' against the dismissal of gay soldiers is not understandable. It's entirely cowardly.

Furthermore I am sick to death of hearing that Obama is 'engaged in dialog' about this 'commitment to gay issues' when it comes to this issue. It's not acceptable that he is allowing the military to continue drumming out gay patriots while he "continues a dialog" - whatever the fuck that supposed to mean.

We've talked and talked and talked about this - it's way past time for actual action, Mr. President.