Saturday, October 01, 2011

Hooray for summer!

Yes, it's been the right kind of weather for dressing in my summer outfit, including unflattering shorts. I haven't done that much this year. And as well as enjoying the sun, I did an hour numbers and 30-minute binary practice today - with pretty poor results, but the important part is getting in the habit of concentrating for long periods, the scores will pick up after another couple of weeks. I hope.

Friday, September 30, 2011


I was going to call this post 'Nelson', in the cricket sense, but I thought that might confuse people like Nelson Dellis. Anyway, not once but twice in the last three days I've been practicing speed cards and stopped the clock at 22.22 seconds, and both times I thought I'd got the recall right but found that I'd swapped around the order of two images. It's a curse, I tells you. I did successfully memorise a pack in 25.00 seconds exactly tonight, which is a great time to practice getting, because you can work out how many points it scores without remembering what the formula is.

Now, let's talk about why I'm rubbish at speed cards. The ones I forget are the ones on locations five, six and seven out of nine. I'm usually okay with the first few, and then I remember the last ones, but there's often a gap in the middle. I can't break the habit of thinking about the last two locations immediately after I put the card down, then going back and making sure I remember the first ones, and by then I'm hazy on the bit in the middle. I need to practice doing things differently, but I don't want to slow down in case I can't get back up to speed again before the world championships.

It's confusing, and I'm not good at explaining it. You should probably just ignore me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Sorry I didn't post anything last night, but it's so hot at the moment, I feel more like just sunbathing. Or moonbathing, beccause it's dark, but you know what I mean. It's been hotter and sunnier this week than it was all summer (wasn't summer rubbish this year?) and it's fantastic!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy birthday to Goo

It's Google's thirteenth birthday, apparently! Do you remember what the internet was like before Google? I do, and it was rubbish. But then, nobody really knew or cared about the internet back in those dark and distant days before 1998. I got my first computer in that year (I've still got it now, and it still works just fine, thanks, although it's a teensy bit too slow for everyday use) and I'd only used the internet a handful of times in the years before that - searching with limited success on things with silly names like WebCrawler and not finding anything interesting.

It alarms me that there are so many young and even not-so-young people going around these days who've never experienced life without the internet. Things were different back then. I mean, look at the World Memory Championships and the people who complain that there isn't enough about it on the web. Back when I started out, there was nothing! Maybe a write-up on Michael Tipper's personal website, or a word or two on the MSO page, but there wasn't an official website. And it didn't get covered on the BBC News website because there wasn't one. And if you wanted to go to an international memory competition around the world you had to go to a travel agent to buy your tickets, and when you got there you'd find that there wasn't a competition in whatever country you'd flown to, because the only memory competition ever, anywhere, was the world championship once a year in London.

I tell you, everything was cheaper then, too, and young people respected their elders.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Everybody's changing and I don't feel the same

Quite aside from the world memory championship news in the post below this one, I got an email today saying that the Gadget Show have decided to stop doing the competition prize dash thing, so the bit I recorded a while ago won't be on telly after all. Boo, but at least they've already paid me for doing it.

And what's more, it turns out that the lengthy blog entries I've been posting lately have stopped Blogger displaying the whole month's worth if you click on 'September' in the list to the right. So, in order that the world can continue to see whatever I was talking about in the first week of the month, you've now got 'week commencing' dates to choose from. Have fun!

And this is why you don't book your plane tickets until the last moment

World Memory Championship announcement from a peeved-sounding WMSC:

We have just been made aware by our sponsors in China that, without consultation with us, they have chosen to change the change the host city from Beijing to Guangzhou. We are also aware that they have changed other information on their Chinese language website regarding the arrangements of the competition and also the prize fund.

To make these changes nine weeks ahead of the event and without consultation, puts all of us in a very difficult position. We are acutely aware of the fact that they caused a similar upset last year when they unilaterally changed the dates of the event causing considerable inconvenience to all.

The hotel chosen by them now is HJ Grand Hotel in the Huadu District of Guangzhou which is five star. The website for the hotel is
Mr Guo Chanwei has been appointed by New Mind as the contact point for all competitors to arrange for accommodation and all other questions! His email is gotop1 (at)

We are now seeking urgent clarification and assurances from New Mind that they are able to meet the obligations that they had previously agreed. We have many questions which require clarification, not least of which is the need for them to fund sufficient international arbiters and also that the prize fund recognises the significant achievements of our competitors.

We are currently exploring all options to ensure that this, the 20th World Memory Championships is held in a fitting way and that the interests of all competitors will be protected.
We will be making a further announcement as soon as we have more information.

Sounds like it might still end up held in London on a shoestring budget - which, actually, I'd be entirely in favour of. Although Guangzhou would be nicer than Beijing, with the lovely winter weather.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Supererer Sunday

See my posts of the last two Sundays for details of what this is all about. We're on week three of the "New 52" from DC Comics, and there's only twelve comics to talk about this week, since Justice League was brought forward and came out three weeks ago. Actually, it came out again this week too, as a reprint, so I was able to buy a real copy at last. I found a copy of the other one from last week that I was missing too, but on the down side the two shops in Nottingham were sold out of four of this week's lot. They must be popular! Luckily, there are always other ways to get your comics, so here's how I feel about these new twelve:

Batman #1
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion

Written by Snyder, who also wrote Swamp Thing back in week 1, pencils by Capullo, inks by Glapion.

More Batman! And we're not finished with him yet, because there's another one next week, plus plenty of Batman spinoffs! Still, here we are again in Gotham City, and this one really does a good job of introducing Gotham and the people in it. There's a running theme in the narrative captions and dialogue of "Gotham is...", and Batman muses on the subject as he fights a mob of lunatic supervillains in Arkham Asylum. And a very nicely-drawn fight scene it is, too. Then, surprisingly, the Joker joins in and gives Bats a helping hand.

Discussing the situation with good old Commissioner Gordon afterwards, Batman explains that the whole Arkham thing was part of an operation to catch a corrupt guard, and then goes back to the Batcave, where the Joker shows up for a chat. After Bruce Wayne demonstrates his latest fab technology (not satisfied with floating computer screens, he's got floating computer screens linked to his contact lens), it turns out that the Joker was Dick Grayson (original Robin, now Nightwing) all along, using a clever hi-tech disguise!

Soo... this happens before Detective Comics, a couple of weeks ago? Because the people at Arkham would probably have noticed if there were suddenly two Jokers in the place. Only Detective sort of made the Joker out to be a really big deal for Batman and the police, so if they'd pulled a stunt like this beforehand... oh, never mind. Continuity between different Batman comics is enough to give anyone a headache.

Bruce and Dick go back upstairs to meet up with more Robins - current Robin Damian Wayne, who's his usual delightful self, and Tim Drake, who apparently is now Red Robin of the Teen Titans. As established in "Batman and Robin" last week, Bruce really does collect and discard young boys at an astonishing rate. Meanwhile, he demonstrates another useful gadget in his contact lens - I really prefer Batman to just be a detective in a bat suit, rather than packed with superpowers granted by ludicrous super-technology, but that's obviously not the way they're going here.

Anyway, Wayne and his wards are gathered together for a presentation, announcing that he'll be pouring his millions into redeveloping Gotham, and soliciting donations from other leading citizens. We're introduced to a mayoral candidate (and to be fair, this does tie in with Detective Comics, they mentioned in that that the mayor was busy campaigning), and then Bruce gets wind of a crime being investigated, makes his excuses and leaves.

It seems that someone has been murdered (with owl-themed knives) and left a final message that "Bruce Wayne will die tomorrow!" A bit of detective work gets a DNA sample of the possible murderer, and we're left with the disturbing result that it belongs to good old Dick Grayson...

The verdict? Story - this is a much better Batman #1 than the two we've had previously! It sets the scene, tells you everything you need to know about the character and his background and gives him an exciting adventure or two, too. This should have been in week one, really. Art - rather cool, it suits Batman perfectly, dark and gloomy while still clearly telling the story. All in all - I really wasn't expecting to like any of the many, many Batman comics among the "new 52", but I do like this one! I want to keep reading it.

Birds of Prey #1
Duane Swierczynski, Jesus Saiz

Written by Swierczynski and drawn by Saiz.

We're in Gotham City, yet again, and intrepid reporter Charlie Keen has been called to a church by his mysterious informant, on the trail of "a covert ops team run by a bunch of supercriminal hotties". It seems that the mysterious informant has a team of men in magic suits that make them transparent who are going to kill Keen, but he's saved by the arrival of the people he's been tailing, Black Canary and Starling.

Now, some might say that our heroes aren't named after the most fearsome birds of prey in the world, but never mind. They demonstrate their skills and powers in combat, and get Charlie out of there. Flashback to a couple of weeks ago, and Charlie's watching the Canary in her secret identity of Dinah Lance, trying to persuade Batgirl to join her team. Batgirl declines the offer to team up with someone who's wanted for murder ("murdering a man with a punch", apparently), but suggests a woman called Katana instead. Since Katana's already on the cover, along with a plant-themed woman who also doesn't appear in this issue, I think we can safely say she's going to join - yes, it's another comic with a cover showcasing the eventual cast of the ongoing series.

Charlie tracked Starling, too, but her spare time seems to consist entirely of drinking and partying, so he didn't get very far. But back in the church, our heroes are making their escape when Canary is bitten and then kissed by one of the baddies, who tells her that he's just killed her.

They arrange to fly Charlie out of Gotham, but then at the airport Dinah feels a strange tingling in her brain, while Charlie gets a text that appears to make him explode with a big bang!

The verdict? Story - it does a good job of introducing our two lead characters and setting out their background and current status more by hints and suggestions than concrete facts, which suits the tone of the comic. The story is interesting enough, with a nice cliffhanger. Art - pretty cool, it portrays the action sequences well, it's just let down by the usual tendency to draw all women's faces the same (although to be fair, Starling's nose tilts up a bit more than Canary's, if you look at it closely). All in all - it's readable and fun. It makes my list, somewhere in the middle.

Blue Beetle #1
Tony Bedard, Ig Guara, Ruy José

Bedard writes, Guara pencils and José inks.

Long, long ago (in what might be a galaxy far away, but is probably this galaxy) a whole lot of aliens are slaughtered by an ominous blue beetly thing. He's a former inhabitant of this planet, who's been co-opted into a scary alien group called The Reach. One of their little blue scarabs is flying through space to recruit more Blue Beetles, when it's zapped by a passing Green Lantern and crashes into an ancient Mayan temple.

Not so long ago, at El Paso High School, we're introduced to Jaime, your average teenager, and his sporty bully adversary Joey, tough dropout friend Paco and female friend Brenda. Brenda's having a party at her mysterious rich aunt's house, Jaime's parents don't want him to go for reasons they're not prepared to explain, so he sneaks out to go to the party anyway.

The aunt, meanwhile, is in fact evil, and has hired three supervillains (Brutale, Rompe-Huesos, and another one who doesn't seem to get a namecheck, unless I've missed it) to steal the blue scarab from the cooler villains Phobia, Warp and Plasmus, who have just stolen it from someone else. Big bad guy fight scene ensues, and spills out into the road, where Jaime and Paco are on their way to Brenda's party. The backpack with the scarab falls into their car (in a scene that the artist struggles to depict right, with some very strange motion lines) and Jaime, displaying impressively heroic tendencies, runs off with it so the bad guys won't hurt Paco.

The scarab ends up stuck to his back, and transforms him into... The Blue Beetle!

The verdict? Story - it's only the first part of a story that's presumably going to be about Jaime adapting to being a superhero, so it's hard to pass judgement on just this one comic. It introduces the cast adequately, but doesn't really have that tantalising quality that draws in the readers again next month. Art - particularly good in the supervillain fight scenes; the everyday-life bits somehow look less realistic, although the characters are consistent in their appearance. All in all - it's okay, but it doesn't really grab me. I don't really care about the central character yet, for some reason. Maybe it's worth another look to see how the story develops.

Captain Atom #1
J.T. Krul, Freddie Williams II

Written by Krul, who also did Green Arrow in week one, drawn by Williams II (who probably isn't the father of J.H. Williams III, but you never know).

In San Francisco, a weird rat is up to no good, while the narrator muses about what sets humans aside from the animals, and takes a rather pessimistic view of it. In Chicago, our narrator-hero is fighting a man in a giant robot-suit. Captain Atom is composed of glowing energy, he flies around, absorbs energy blasts shot at him and fires them cheerfully back. But mid-way through the fight, he discovers a new ability he hasn't noticed since 'the accident' that made him what he is - he transforms the suit of armour into dust by reconfiguring its atoms. More worryingly, this makes his hand start to disintegrate, too.

He goes back to "The Continuum", his base of operations in Kansas, flirts with a woman called Ranita and talks it through with her creepy boss, Dr Megala (inspired obviously by Stephen Hawking). Megala gives a lengthy scientific justification of how Captain Atom's powers work, more than we really need to know - the basic detail is that if he uses his powers like that, his brain might dissipate and kill him.

Then there's a call to say that there's a volcano erupting in New York, of all places, so our hero is on his way! Stopping to prevent a nuclear reactor blowing up, he hurries to Manhattan and turns the molten lava into snow. Nobody seems to really be wondering where the volcano came from, but I suppose it's a case of dealing with the immediate problems first and worrying about the details later. Meanwhile in San Francisco, that weird rat has turned into a giant monster and is threatening homeless people.

But back with Captain Atom (and the clock that's been popping up with every change of scene is wrong here - it's gone backwards three hours), he goes down into the volcano to try to fix it, but finds that his brain is starting to dissipate. Can't say he wasn't warned.

The verdict? Story - there's plenty of action and establishing of the character, his powers and his supporting cast, but the Captain himself doesn't get to show much individual personality; he's just your normal superhero without a disinctive trait or two of his own. Art - a bit on the sketchy side when it comes to normal people and action scenes, but the central character does look good, and that's a really great giant rat monster that presumably will play a bigger part in future issues. All in all - I like it, it just needs a hero I can sympathise with a bit more. I'll give it another shot next month.

Catwoman #1
Judd Winick, Guillem March

Written by Winick, the man behind Batwing as well, drawn by March.

Gotham City yet again - Seline Kyle, Catwoman is very hastily getting into her costume, cramming a very large number of cats into a small travelling case, and fleeing from her flat. Someone she figures she's stolen from in the past has tracked her down and sent heavies to get her. To her slight irritation, they blow the whole place up, although it's not like she owns anything of value anyway. Apart from some very peculiar perspective when she lands on a rooftop, the whole opening sequence is very well drawn, and effectively sets the scene for the comic.

Selina goes to see her friend Lola, looking for some kind of supervillain work and a place to live. She gets an unoccupied penthouse to squat in, and an opportunity to replace a barmaid and eavesdrop on Russian gangsters talking about good things to steal. However, it gets personal when she sees a man who was involved in a traumatic incident of her childhood. She attacks him viciously and flees back to the penthouse.

There, she and her cats are joined by Batman, come to see if she's okay. The two of them have a long-running 'thing' going (it was mentioned in passing in Detective Comics), and the two of them have it off while keeping their masks on.

The verdict? Story - very nice introduction to the character and the world she lives in. She's very likeable in her own way. Art - stylish and distinctive. Selina and Lola both have very individual faces, unlike the trend for female characters that's irked me in so many of these other comics. Her acrobatics look good, and the costumes are very well-drawn, even when they're half-off, which most artists have trouble with. All in all - yes, I like it. I seem to be adding a lot more Batman-universe comics to my list than I expected to!

DC Universe Presents Deadman #1
Paul Jenkins, Bernard Chang

All the lists of comic titles for the "new 52" call this "DC Universe Presents", but on the cover those words are in tiny little letters, and "Deadman" is the main title. There's no explanation inside as to whether it's permanently a Deadman comic, or what the plan is. It's another one with vague credits, too - "By Paul Jenkins & Bernard Chang".

Six months ago, our narrator-hero became a stunt motorbike-rider with a secret deathwish, and apparently saved his life. He explains what he's talking about - the whole narrative is directed straight at the reader, more blatantly than in most comics. He, Boston Brand, used to be a circus acrobat with a "Deadman" costume and gimmick, unpopular with his colleagues for being basically a jerk, when an assassin shot him and made him really live up to his nickname. This has all been conveyed on two pages - lots of panels, lots of captions in this one.

Deadman found himself in the afterlife, talking to the goddess Rama, who tells him he must atone for his selfishness and egotism in life by sharing the lifetimes of other people and demonstrating love and consideration. And so that's what he does now. That's as clear as the explanation gets, it really doesn't get across the point of how the whole setup works, which is a pretty major failure on the part of the writer.

But the next person he's fated to 'be' is Johnny, a crippled soldier with depression. Before "making the connection", Deadman goes to a fair (he's apparently a ghost, it seems, who can fly around where he likes and possibly people can't see him) where he temporarily posesses the bodies of lots of people in an attempt to talk to an old acquaintance of his, a psychic called Rose. He wants her to help him with something, but it's not entirely clear what. Then he goes away and reminisces briefly about twelve other people he's been (again without saying what he did when he was them) before going back and connecting with Johnny. Then, as Johnny, he puts a gun to his head and greets Rama when she shows up.

The verdict? Story - well, it doesn't exactly go to great pains to explain what's going on. Except I sort of think that it was meaning to, but just forgets to explain a few basic details. We're introduced to the character (although how his appearance in Hawk & Dove a couple of weeks ago ties in with this story, I can't imagine) and get to know him a little, but this comic has a whole lot of words, that somehow don't say very much. Art - it's another good one, not spectacular but effective in telling the story. All in all - sorry, I just don't get it. It feels like the story is missing something, and I'm not confident that it'll improve in future months. I think I'll pass.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Scott Lobdell, Kenneth Rocafort

Written by Lobdell, who also wrote Superboy last week, drawn by Rocafort.

We open with Roy Harper, a young man in a Middle Eastern prison after an unsuccessful attempt to solve the country's problems. The narrator is contemptuous, but he's going to rescue him anyway - disguised as a fat chaplain, he sneaks Roy's bow and arrows into the prison and reveals himself to be the Red Hood. The narration shifts to Roy, who is also not a fan of this idiot, Jason Todd, but appreciates the rescue.

The two of them make their escape and vaguely reference who they are - Jason is apparently another one of those former Robins, now not on friendly terms with Batman or Nightwing or probably the other two either. One thing this comic seems to forget to do is mention Roy's superhero name - I happen to know he's the Green Arrow's former sidekick Speedy, later known as Red Arrow, but whether that's his name in this new relaunched universe isn't explained - he's just Roy, and a former sidekick of someone.

Jason has brought help in the form of Starfire, an extremely beautiful female alien who has issues with soldiers and imprisonment generally and so was happy to bring her enormous powers to bear on Roy's situation. She deals with all the tanks and things easily, while Jason makes an incredibly dirty joke (this is a 'teen'-rated comic, which is the lowest age-rating, so it surprised me a little) and boasts about having had her.

Three weeks later, they're all sunning themselves on St Martinique. But several sinister subplots are developing - a mysterious woman called Essence, who only Jason can see, tells him that The Untitled are at work, while Starfire invites Roy to have sex with her, and a mysterious man in Chicago has discovered that Starfire is on Earth, and is pleased about it.

While Starfire and Roy are sleeping (together), Jason gets the Red Hood costume on and goes to The Well of the All-Caste, where he's sorry to see that an old woman he knew is dead, and finds himself surrounded by threatening people with swords.

The verdict? Story - well, it's certainly 'teen'. Two teenage boys find themselves hanging out with a gorgeous alien superheroine with a relaxed attitude to shagging. But they're both likeable characters, although the story doesn't go into any kind of detail about their histories; maybe it's to come in future issues, but I get the feeling that it's expecting readers to know the heroes already. Art - the central characters have distinctive looks, the art tells the story well, the action scenes are well-handled, there's really nothing to complain about, but on the other hand it's nothing special either. All in all - it's good fun, I might have to check out future issues, because if nothing else it feels like it'll always be entertaining.

Green Lantern Corps #1
Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, Scott Hanna

Tomasi, who wrote Batman and Robin last week, writes this one too. Pasarin is credited as 'artist', but Hanna inks (as well as his semi-credited work on Suicide Squad).

More lanterns. Out in Space Sector 3599, the two local Green Lanterns are going about their business when they're both graphically and easily killed by a mysterious enemy who talks about a 'force of will'.

Meanwhile, back in Sector 2814, Earth, Guy Gardner is having trouble getting a job. The problem is that everyone knows he's a Green Lantern, and they find it difficult to believe he'd give any other job his full attention, let alone the insurance problems of the supervillain attacks he'd inevitably attract. In the course of conversation, he fills us in on the basics of Green Lantern structure - 7200 of them, two to a sector (although our sector currently has four, if you count Hal Jordan, for some reason or other), all reporting to the Guardians who've shown up in other comics here and there.

Another of these Lanterns, John Stewart, is an architect who gets irritated with people who think the expensive safety measures he insists on aren't necessary because they're not legally required. He can't resist using his green ring to vent his frustrations.

Guy and John have a chat, hanging out in space, sitting on a satellite, and decide they need a break from Earth. Assuming that Kyle can handle anything that's happening down there, they go to Oa, the GL head office, to see what's happening. There, they learn that a planet in sector 3599 has been drained of all its water and the local Lanterns killed. They join a task force sent to investigate (five other alien Green Lanterns, who only get a namecheck and nothing else), and find that the whole planet's population has been slaughtered, and a couple of Green Lantern corpses left for the task force to find.

The verdict? Story - showcases our heroes nicely, explains a lot of GL background that really should have been included in previous Lantern comics these last couple of weeks, and sets up an epic cosmic adventure. The problem with this kind of thing is that the mysterious baddie has killed the nameless supporting characters so easily that it's going to be hard to justify him not doing the same to Guy and John, but we'll just have to see how the writer gets around that. Art - simply gorgeous. Every page is crammed with detail, it looks space-age and dramatic, and if the human faces aren't the best, the aliens all look extremely cool. All in all - I really like it, much more than the other lantern comics so far. This might have to be my full quota of magic ring adventure going forwards (although there's more to come next week, of course - Lanterns are second only to Batman-and-friends in the New 52).

Nightwing #1
Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer

Writer Kyle Higgins was the man behind Deathstroke, Barrows pencils, Mayer inks.

We're back in Gotham once again, and Dick Grayson is getting dressed. He's apparently been filling in as Batman for the last year while Bruce was busy doing something else, but now he's back in his own costume, as Nightwing. He's still surrounded by bats whenever he jumps across the rooftops, though.

In the course of a dramatic fight scene with a rampaging killer on a train (which showcases some more quite brilliant artwork), Dick muses that this part of the city is getting worse, when it used to be quite nice. This is a bit strange, really - I got the impression from the other comics that Gotham is a seething cauldron of unpleasantness that Batman is gradually making nicer.

But never mind. While a mysterious stranger arrives in Gotham on the bus and beats up two prospective muggers, Dick goes back to his new flat, in a nasty part of town (not for him the stately Wayne Manor and Batcave, he likes to be in the thick of things) and then goes to check out the circus.

Because, of course, his long-ago origin story is that he was a circus trapeze artist as a young boy, along with his parents who were then murdered by a bad guy, leading to Dick being adopted by Bruce Wayne, becoming Robin and swearing to stop bad guys everywhere. He recaps this origin for the benefit of new readers (and indeed, people like me who'd almost forgotten it, since it doesn't get mentioned much), and of course in this world it wasn't all that many years ago, and his original circus is still going, and is currently visiting Gotham.

We meet the circus owner, the surly clown who feels that his costume is way too much like the Joker and he's just asking for trouble wearing it in Gotham, Dick's old acrobat friend Raya and her new acrobat friend Marc. Marc's introductory line to Dick, "Yeah, I heard about you, man. I just want to say, it really sucks what happened," really made me laugh.

Still, they invite Dick to have a go on the trapeze for old times' sake, and he does, having a lot of fun while making sure they don't see how good he really is. The narration really gets into his personality nicely, meanwhile - he's been worried about coming to the circus in Gotham, because the city's inherent nastiness might spoil his treasured childhood memories, but it seems to have worked out all right in the end.

On the way home, he's attacked by a mysterious assassin - after Dick Grayson, not Nightwing! He's able to slip away while the killer is distracted by police, change into his costume, come back and fight. He's a little distracted to find that this guy believes "Dick Grayson is the fiercest killer in all of Gotham and he doesn't even know it!", and we end with his life looking to be in danger.

The verdict? Story - I was surprised how much I liked this one. Playing on Robin's origin story from 1939 or whenever it was was a really good idea to introduce the character all over again; it works for new readers and old, and tells us everything we need to know about him. The story it sets in motion is interesting, although I wonder if it's related to what's happening in Batman; I sort of worry that it isn't, and there's two very similar plotlines with Dick Grayson going to be published simultaneously. Art - another beautiful one, with art that revels in a lot of acrobatic action scenes and unusual panel layouts to produce something much more, well, artistic, than most of these comics while still doing its job and telling the story. All in all - Yes, I like this one too. I want to keep up with what's happening to our hero, whether or not his appearances in other Batman comics are going to get confusing.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Paul Levitz, Francis Portela

Written by Levitz and drawn by Portela.

It's the 31st century, and five of the Legion of Super-Heroes are landing on planet Panoptes. I could tell you who they are, because everyone who appears in this comic gets a caption listing their name, home planet and superpowers, but frankly there are so many superheroes in this one that I find it impossible to remember who's who. None of them has any kind of personality, other than that Chemical Kid and Dragonwing are two new members. They're infiltrating a base that's supposed to be keeping an eye on "the Dominators" but has stopped.

On a spaceship, possibly the one that dropped the heroes off on the planet, Colossal Boy is adjusting to life in a spaceship crew instead of being a hero. He laments about "my wife and the others", and a caption tells us to check out Legion Lost for the full scoop. Well, not the full scoop. Neither of the two comics tells us which one of the Legion Lost crew, if any, was CB's wife.

Back at Legion HQ, two other Legionaires commemorate some dead members, express a wish to become the leader (in the case of the one who isn't leader already) and check in with a further thirteen (!!) members of the team who we haven't seen yet. A couple of these talk unfathomably about some previous adventures they've been involved in, and then we're back to the gang we started with. They find that the world has been sending signals to the Dominators, which is obviously a bad thing, and then a Daxamite (mentioned in passing earlier to be really powerful things) bursts in.

The verdict? Story - beyond telling us the name of most of the twenty-one (!!!) Legionaires who appear in this comic, there's no attempt to introduce the characters or settings to new readers. The story is pretty impenetrable and consists of a lot of talking and not very much happening. Art - actually, very good indeed. I get the feeling that if we didn't have quite so many characters to keep track of, we could tell them apart well enough. All in all - this isn't a #1, it's a #1526 or somewhere in that region. I don't know who any of these people are, and I'm not curious at all to find out. This one's a no.

Supergirl #1
Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Mahmud Asrar, Dan Green

Michael Green and Johnson both write, Asrar pencils and the inking is credited to "Dan Green with Asrar". Dan Green was also the inker of Animal Man, so it's a bit of a strange division of labour.

Somewhere not too far from Kansas, meteorites are crashing into Earth, just like they did when Superman came along, as the watching narrators observe. However, the big meteorite crashes right into the ground, and keeps going right through, until it pops up in Siberia.

Supergirl climbs out of it, waking up after a long sleep and wondering if she's still dreaming. She doesn't seem to be on Krypton any more, after all. And she's not cold even though it's snowing and she's wearing a miniskirt. And there's a yellow sun, and giant robots attacking her, and she's super-strong and can fire eyebeams. Yep, she figures, it must be a dream.

When her super-hearing kicks in, she picks up dialogue from all around the world, including several other ones of these comics (Birds of Prey's opening scene seems to take place simultaneously with Nightwing's final one, funnily enough, although it was raining in Gotham in the former and doesn't seem to be in the latter. Sorry, I'm being picky, and besides, there's lightning in the sky in Nightwing, it might be supposed to be raining) and is understandably overwhelmed. She breaks into one of the robots and yells at the man inside to tell her what's going on, but as she's speaking Kryptonian, he doesn't understand her.

And then Superman shows up to tell her to stop.

The verdict? Story - there's very little plot here. Kara lands on Earth, doesn't know why, finds that she's Supergirl. The fight scene takes up the whole of the comic. Art - not bad, but it's a little ugly. That there are only a few panels on each page might be a requirement of the thin story, but it highlights that there's not much detail in the characters or backgrounds. All in all - it's just too slight to maintain my interest. I'm sure there'll be more happening in future issues, but I'll stick to the ones that have given me a good story in #1.

Wonder Woman #1
Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang

Azzarello writes, Chiang draws.

In Singapore, a rich man with jet-black skin and glowing eyes and mouth is entertaining three young women, and does something strange to them.

In Virginia, a woman in a peacock cloak and apparently nothing else comes into a stable, chops a horse's head off with some kind of magic scythe, and, um, someone starts to climb out of its neck-hole? No, wait, it's probably just growing arms and a human body and turning into one of those centaurs who turn up a couple of pages later.

And in a house nearby, a blue man is trying to persuade a woman called Zola to come away with him, because assassins are after her. He's got chicken legs as well as blue skin, but Zola seems to be taking this in her stride. But then he's shot by a couple of centaurs who gallop in and try to kill her, Chicken-Legs throws her a key, she catches it, and disappears.

And appears in London (another of those houses just down the road from Big Ben), in Wonder Woman's bedroom. She gets dressed and promises to help Zola, but Zola insists on going along, clutching the key and disappearing again with the heroine.

Back in Virginia, Wonder Woman fights the centaurs while the narrative captions tell mister-black-with-glowing-eyes-from-the-first-page some cryptic prophecies about what's coming. She beats them off, and turns her attention to Chicken-Legs, who is apparently Hermes. He warns WW to run away, with Zola, and then dies with the final words that Zola is pregnant, by Zeus.

Glowing-Eyes finishes getting his prophecies from the unfortunate women, who finally burn up into skulls and bones. One of his father's children will murder another, it seems.

The verdict? Story - hmm. Greek gods, right? It's all a bit confused, and Wonder Woman doesn't really say or do much all through the comic, so we don't get much sense of who she is. The story does its best to sound portentous, but doesn't quite achieve it, and Zola, who we should be sympathising with, is a bit of an enigma. Art - it's a bit sketchy, but it does tell the story well, which is very necessary in this case, since there's not much dialogue or explanatory captions. All in all - I can live without knowing what happens next. Somehow, it's just not at all compelling, I'm afraid.