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Number 90 (Vol 2, No. 50).  This edition is for the week of December 10--16, 2001.

The Last Word on Harry Potter. I know we've covered this film before, but Steve Beasley finally got me to go to see it over the weekend. Not much new to add to what's already been put out about it: excellent special effects, Daniel Radcliffe is appropriately adorable, the casting is top-notch, there are scenes likely too intense for very young viewers, and the 2 ½ hour running time seems to blow by quickly. I might also add that the scenery is breath-taking, in case no one's mentioned that before. Next year's sequel should be another sell-out if they can keep this up. I should have seen this over the first weekend, I guess, and written it up as a fullfledged review, but we've had so much commentary already, it would be redundant. Perhaps later a special review for The Archives.

Smallville. I wrote about this series only once before, but it's REALLY growing on me. Tuesday nights, WB. It's a strange mix of Buffy--meets--Dawson's Creek--meets--X-Files. The Kryptonite meteor fragments that accompanied Clark's arrival on earth has affected the whole population of Smallville in weird and unpredicatable ways. This gives the teenage, pre-Superman Clark some super-villain experience.
   Lex Luthor is not a bad guy--yet. But the seeds are sown with a rich-but-uncaring father. Lana Lang is a cutie-pie who worships Clark--but just as a friend, apparently(?). And Smallville is a real strange burg to inhabit right now.
   John Schneider and Annette O'Toole are likable and effective in their roles as Jonathan and Martha Kent. Against my own earlier predictions, I'm warming to them quickly.

Nolan's-creeping-Alzheimer's-dept.  Altho, I swore I would be more conscientious about remembering birthdays this year, another important one got WAY past me. PLUS, a musical goof of mine crept into these pages last week.
   BIRTHDAY. On a routine web-surf, I dropped by the Apeshot Studios website and discovered old friend, graphic artist, web designer, and major comics fanboy, Scott A. Gilbert celebrated a milestone back on (gulp) September 18. That's when he turned the big 4-0! We certainly hope the great-one-from-Texas had a great time that day! Extremely belated Happy Birthday to you, Scott! (I'm going to blame my oversight on the events of 9-11.)
   MUSICAL GOOF. Well, I have egg on my face and it's running down onto my guitar fretboard. In last week's Mike's Rant, Mike Smith had attempted to honor me with a short history of how, over 20 years ago, I showed him the legendary opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night". He said it was a G7sus4, and with the brazen foolishness of over-confidence, but deficient memory, I "corrected" him by commenting it was actually a D7sus4 (The two chords are different by two notes). Mike wrote me immediately. He was certain it was a G7sus4 I showed him (barring have gotten the chord's name from a newspaper article or something). I started to wonder myself. I should have just picked up a guitar to double-check (why I didn't to begin with, I'll never know), but I eventually did: after countless storage moves, I no longer have the original LP handy, so I couldn't check it against that, but just from memory, I thought it actually sounded like it should be Gsus4 (no 7th). It wasn't until Mike wrote me back and confirmed, with Beatles songbook in hand, that it is indeed a G7sus4 that the matter was officially settled (I still need to find that freaking record, tho). I publicly apologize to Mr. Smith--and I'm embarrassed to admit I honestly don't remember what the hell I was playing 20 years ago. But I will say this...
   Next time, I'll know better to shut the f&*k up when friends are trying to compliment me.

Mike Smith's Challenge: The Top Ten Christmas Holiday TV Specials of All Time.
Last week, Will Moriaty, Mike Smith, Matt Drinnenberg and I published our lists, but no one could come up with 10 TV specials (Will included movies), LOL! Terence's list came in over the weekend---Nolan.
1. The Star Wars Holiday Special -- Worth it alone just for the great Boba Fett cartoon, but would be on my list anyway just for the sheer awfulness of it all. Bad stock footage, Mark Hamill in eyeliner, Harvey Korman dressed as a female alien, and best of all, Darth Vader's line, "search all the households in the system". Disgusting.
2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer -- This is a great stop-motion animated special that I've seen more times than I can count. (Who hasn't!) Plus, the way the characters where animated disturbed me to no end--especially that creepy snowman narrator.
3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas -- Hey, it's Dr. Suess. The weirdest thing to me when I was little was that the Grinch gave the little girl a cup for a present so he could escape, and she liked it. Who wants a cup for Christmas?!!!
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas -- This wasn't as good as the Halloween special, but nevertheless, it had Charlie Brown picking a ratty old tree instead of the aluminum ones. I always used to get depressed at the end of this because I felt sorry for the tree. As if it had feelings?
5. A Silent Christmas -- This is a special that Turner Classic Movies ran about two years ago. They played several silent Christmas-themed shorts from the silent era anywhere from 1898 to 1920. The best part was when they showed the silent "A Christmas Carol" by Edison Studios. It was the first one ever filmed. I, being a collector of Scrooge films (traditional ones, i.e., not like American Christmas Carol), was in bliss.
Well, I could only think of five so you all will just have to live with it. I loath to see who can actually come up with ten choices--whatever poor fool actually sat through that many TV Christmas specials has problems and needs professional help. Merry Christmas to all you fools, and may the Grinch set fire to your beloved hearth and home. Yeah, he's still evil--come on, he was just pretending to be kind. He's going to destroy things from the inside and corrupt all the little Whoville children.
Terence Nuzum

In the rarest-of-the-rare move, I am responding, right here, to a particularly ludicrous religious mass mailing I received. I never, ever pay attention to these things, but this was forwarded to me by good friend Steve Beasley, who no doubt predicted it would have the effect on me it did. It is not my intention to offend anybody. But, for any of you who have also received this mailing, I wanted you to know what I thought.
The original subject line was "This'll make you think". The re-forwarded subject line was "Funny how we just need to say OK".---Nolan.
Finally, The Truth on National TV
   Billy Graham's daughter was being interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something (9/11/01) like this happen?" And Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.
   She said "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?"
   I know there's been a lot of emails going around in regards to 9/11/01, but this really makes you think. If you don't have time, at least skim through it, but the bottom line is something to think about...In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.
   Let's see, I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body was found recently) complained she didn't want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
   Then, someone said you better not read the Bible in school...the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, OK.
   Then, Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide) And we said, an expert should know what he's talking about so we said, OK.
   Then, someone said teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued (There's big difference between disciplining and touching, beating, smacking,humiliating, kicking, etc.) And we said, OK.
   Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, OK.
   Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they're going to do it anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents they got them at school. And we said, OK.
   Then some of our top elected officials said itdoesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And agreeing with them, we said it doesn't matter to me whatanyone, including the President, does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good.
   And then someone said let's print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome, down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body. And we said, OK.
   And then someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still by making them available on the internet. And we said OK, they're entitled to their free speech.
   And then the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes. And we said it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead.
   Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
   Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."
   "Dear God, Why didn't you save the little girl killed in her classroom?" Sincerely, Concerned Student... AND THE REPLY "Dear Concerned Student, I am not allowed in schools". Sincerely, God.
   Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
   Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says.
   Funny how someone can say "I believe in God" but still follow Satan who, by the way, also "believes" in God.
   Funny how we are quick to judge but not to be judged. Funny how you an send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, ut when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
   Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but the public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
   Funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on Sunday, but be an invisible Christian the rest of the week. Are you laughing?
   Funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them.
   Funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me than what God thinks of me.
   Are you thinking?
   Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it.
   I'm not familiar with "The Early Show", but with all due respect to Rev. Graham and his daughter, the fault of Sept. 11 lies squarely on the shoulders of a foreign fanatic religious zealot, likely Osama Bin Laden, and not that of any hedonistic, or lapsed-faith Americans. I do agree religion figures very much into this equation, but it is that of a renegade sect of Afghanistanians. What is so hard to understand about that? But it's just too tempting to pass up this opportunity to blame this act of war on the old separation of church and state, isn't it?
   Yes, Madeline Murray O'Hare was primarily responsible for getting prayer out of public schools in the early '60s. But, it sounds like you're blaming her murder on her atheism. I believe she had the right idea, although admittedly she was a poor spokesperson for the cause. Likely, the change of law would've happened within the decade, anyway.
   The Bible isn't read in schools because of the diversity everybody wanted so bad. Answer me this: WHICH Bible of WHICH religion needs to be read? WHO's translation, WHICH version?
   Benjamin Spock's work has been discredited to some extent. His discipline chapter was a teeny part of his output. Much of the rest is still followed.
   Schools aren't allowed to touch students anymore because of LAWYERS who, during the '80s, turned every spanking incident into ritual child abuse. Then, psychologists, now-discredited, claimed there were further traumas covered up by "repressed memories". Lawsuits flew. Nobody said "OK" to that.
   Abortion laws are different in every state. There is not room to get into that here, but that's more a health issue, not a religious one. Or it shouldn't be.
   What's your point about condoms? I thought that was an AIDS issue, not a religious one.
   Doing what we want in private without gov't interference is called "democracy". They leave us alone as long as we pay our taxes. A few women said "OK" to Clinton's philandering--he didn't ask or care what anyone thought. True. He's gone now.
   Pictures and publications of nude men and woman have been around since ancient Greece. I guess Bin Laden finally got tired of it?
   NOBODY has EVER said "OK" to pictures of nude children. To my knowledge, that remains a felony in all 50 states.
   The entertainment industry produces what sells. What's your point? That they caused Americans to renounce their faith? The movies reflect reality, they rarely define it.
   About children shooting their classmates: ever hear the reports--heavily covered up now--about how many of them were doped up on prescription drugs at the time of their violence? 100 PERCENT. Who said "OK" to that? The parents.
   Shockingly, there are a few things you said I agree with:
   "Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW." Agreed. But not for the reasons you cite.
   "Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says." Yes, but, they're all funny to me anyway.
   "Funny how someone can say "I believe in God" but still follow Satan who, by the way, also "believes" in God." I agree again. And I've been saying the same thing for years.
   "Funny how we are quick to judge but not to be judged." Human nature. Not much you can do there.
   "Funny how you an send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing." Naw. I hate email jokes and religious mailings equally. I never forward anything. Your crap is the exception, via this column.
   "Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but the public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace." Here again: WHICH god? If you're continually referring to the Hebrew God, the case could be made you're discriminating against all our fine, fine diversity. And obscene and vulgar trading is how the internet got built. It helps "pay" for religious websites.
   "Funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on Sunday, but be an invisible Christian the rest of the week. Are you laughing?" I would be if it weren't so pathetically true. Hypocrisy has ruined religion for many people.

   Back to me now: About what others would think of me for forwarding your one-dimensional tripe? Anyone who KNOWS me would assume it's a gag. I wouldn't send it to anyone else.
   Am I thinking? Yep. About what a great piece you inspired for this newsletter. Thanks.
   Did it have merit? Yes, I think it had merit as a representation of what Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson put into too many gullible people's heads: that attacks on our country would've been prevented by a God who would NATURALLY be on OUR side if we weren't such f&*k-ups.

   Now that I'm done with it, it's discarded. Thanks again.

La Floridiana by William Moriaty
The Paranormal in Florida.
"The Lost Patrol"
Part Three of a new five-part series.
by William Moriaty
This week we will explore the most celebrated of all disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle--the loss of six U.S. Navy planes in the ill-fated December 5, 1945 training mission known as "Flight 19".

The Lore:
   At 2:10 P.M. on December 5, 1945, 5 Navy TBM Avengers lifted off from the runway of the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station into the greatest aviation mystery of all time, an event coined by many as "the Mary Celeste of the skies".
   Flight 19 was to conduct a typical training mission of 320 total miles over two hour's time. It was to head east over the Atlantic Ocean 160 miles to the Bahamas, head north 40 miles, then travel 120 miles back to the Ft. Lauderdale base. The pilot and crew were all experienced pilots and the weather was excellent.
   Indications of trouble came at 3:45 P.M. when instead of request landing instructions from the N.A.S. the following message was sent--"Control tower, this is an emergency! We can not see land, I repeat we can not see land!" The tower responded, "What is your position?" The patrol leader replied, "We're not sure where we are. We seem to be lost!" Presuming the craft to be somewhere over the Atlantic, the tower requested that the patrol "Head due west." Chillingly the patrol leader said, "We don't know which way is west! Everything is wrong. Even the ocean doesn't look as it should!" This caused quite a stir in the tower. Conditions were clear and ideal--each of the five planes had fully-functioning compasses. How could five pilots not be sure of where west was?
   Time passed as the tower heard the patrol members talk to one another in confused but calm voices. By 4:00, however, the patrol leader began to panic and turned over command to another one of the pilots. At 4:25 the new leader contacted the N.A.S. and said, "We're not certain where we are. We must be about 225 miles north of the base. It looks like we are entering white water."
   Those were the last recognizable words from the doomed flight. Afterwards, a Navy Martin Mariner was sent toward the last estimated position of the lost flight. A pilot from the large aircraft sent several messages that it was getting closer to Flight 19's estimated position. Then it too was silent, never to be heard from again. At 7:04 P.M., a Miami control tower received a faint message saying, "FT.FT.FT." These were the call letters of Flight 19.
   One of the largest peacetime search missions in U.S. history was undertaken. 300 planes and 21 ships searched the sea, sky and land along the Florida coastline, the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. The search continued for weeks. Not one shred of evidence of the six planes and their crews could be found. How could six planes and 27 men just vanish into thin air? After the incident one Naval Board of Inquiry chairman said, "They've disappeared as completely as if the had flown to Mars. What the hell is going on out there?"
The Facts:
   1. All of the pilots, with the exception of the Patrol Leader, Lt. Charles Taylor were students in training. For that matter, Lt. Taylor was newly transferred to the Ft. Lauderdale facility, this being his first flight there. Taylor himself was most likely not familiar with the area that he was about to lead his patrol over.
   2. The first person to receive any type of distress call from Flight 19 was not the Ft. Lauderdale tower, but another Navy pilot from the Ft. Lauderdale N.A.S., Lt. Robert F. Cox. While circling the N.A.S., Cox heard someone on radio frequency 4805 (the channel used for Ft. Lauderdale's training flights) talking to someone named "Powers". "Powers" was the last name of one of the Flight 19 pilots. The time was 3:40 P.M. The voice asked "Powers" several times what his compass readings were and finally said, "I don't know where we are. We must have got lost over that last turn." Fearing that those on the radio were lost, Lt. Cox notified the Ft. Lauderdale tower that either a boat or some planes was missing. The N.A.S. radioed back to Cox a "Roger".
   3. Cox then radioed, "Calling Powers. Please identify yourself so someone can help you". There was initially no response. Cox tried again, this time asking, "What is your trouble?" A voice responded, "Both my compasses are out and I'm trying to find Ft. Lauderdale. I am over land but it's broken (the Bahamas, I suspect). I'm sure I'm in the Keys (the Keys? The first leg of the trip was to fly east 160 miles over the Atlantic--the Keys are southwest of Ft. Lauderdale! How could this person have mistaken their location so badly, unless they were not experienced with flying the region on a frequent basis?), but I don't know how far down, and I don't know how to get to Ft. Lauderdale." The voice identified itself as "FT-28", the call sign for Lt. Taylor. Cox responded, "Put the sun to your port side if you're in the Keys and follow the coastline up until you get to Miami. Ft. Lauderdale is another 20 miles further, your first port after Miami. The air station is directly on your left from the port. I will fly south to meet you." Lt. Taylor then responded, "I know where I am now. Don't come after me." Cox relayed the messages to the N.A.S.
   4. Moments later the voice broke in again. "Can you have Miami pick us up on their radar gear? We don't seem to be getting far (?).I thought we were going wrong so I took over and was flying them back to the right position. Now I'm not too sure that neither of my compasses are working properly," Cox responded. "Turn on your emergency IFF gear (in order to make the radar image larger), or do you have it?" "No" respondedTaylor. Cox then told Taylor to turn on his ZBX gear (tells which direction to head to return to base), but after repeated attempts, Cox received no response. Cox lastly suggested that Lt. Taylor turn over command to his wingman to better ensure that someone with a normal set of compasses could lead them back to the base. Cox received no response, and Taylor's signal was beginning to fade. Lt. Cox was convinced that the flight was over either Bimini or the Bahamas, heading north. He based that on his having first received their distress calls while he was over the base and losing them as flew to within 40 miles south of Miami in hopes of finding them over the Keys. When asked by the Inquiry to describe the state of the sea at that time, Cox described it as "Very rough. It was covered with white caps and long white streamers. The sky was clear in all directions but the west."
   5. 4:45 P.M. Taylor to Port Everglades radio tower. "We are heading north-northeast." (The absolute WRONG direction if they were over the Bahamas as Lt. Cox felt they were!) Port Everglades told Lt. Taylor to "fly toward the sun (west)" and to change their radio frequency to channel 3000, which was reserved for emergencies. and came in much stronger than 4805. Neither order from Port Everglades was responded to.)
   6. 5:00 P.M. Two unidentified students using the FT-28 call sign were heard on 4805 as saying, "If we would just fly west we would get home." and "Dammit. If we would (not could!) just fly west we would get home." By then a Navy rescue plane was warming up to search for Flight 19.
   7. Taylor to planes in flight, "Change course to 090% (east) for ten minutes." Unidentified voice in flight, "How long have we gone now? Let's just fly east 2 degrees. We are going too damn far north instead of east. If there is anything we wouldn't see it (as it is now getting dark)". Based on this conversation, the patrol is totally lost, confused and in a state of near panic.
   8. 5:16 P.M. Taylor to Port Everglades, "We will fly 270 degrees (west) until we hit the beach or run out of gas."
   9. 5:22 P.M. Taylor to his patrol, "When first man gets down to ten gallons of gas we will all land in the water together, Does everyone understand that?"
   10. 5:34 P.M. Port Everglades orders Taylor four times to switch to channel 3000 as they were losing channel 4805 to Cuban broadcast static. Transmission from Flight 19 was getting weaker.
   11. 5:54 P.M. Port Everglades to Taylor, "Did you get our last transmission? Change your radio frequency to 3000!" Taylor responded, "I cannot change my frequency. I must leave my planes intact." (?) By this time it was totally dark.
   12. A radio fix was established at 6:00 P.M.! Flight 19 was calculated as being over the Atlantic Ocean somewhere north of the Bahamas and east of New Smyrna Beach, Florida (quite a ways north of Ft. Lauderdale!). If Taylor could've been informed of it all he would have had to do was head west to reach Florida! But he refused to change to the stronger radio frequency to receive such orders from the get-go! A Martin Mariner flying boat was then sent from the Banana River Naval Air Station (now Patrick Air Force Base) to this estimated position in hopes of rescuing the pilots of Flight 19.
   13. 6:02 P.M. Unidentified patrol pilot, "We may have to ditch at any moment."
   14. 7:04 P.M. The last transmission received by Flight 19 had a patrol member calling Taylor.
   15. Miami radio tried repeatedly until 9:56 P.M. to reach Lt. Taylor at "FT-28".
   Based on the facts above, there do not appear to be any time warps, magnetic anomalies, vile vortices, or UFOs at work here. The pilots were not experienced as the legend goes, but students led by an instructor unfamiliar with the area. Taylor was repeatedly urged, then ordered to switch to a more clear frequency so that improved communications could better aid his patrols safe return-but he refused. Ditchings at night are extremely dangerous, seas that day were rough, and presuming that the doomed planes did not disintegrate on impact, the Avengers probably sank like rocks in no time. Reefs off of the coast of the Sunshine State are littered with hundreds of them as a testimony to this! Even after handing command over to his wingman, Taylor still was convinced that they were near the Keys and not the Bahamas! This was a deadly misconception. He figured by flying east he would hit the west coast of Florida or the Everglades-in reality this took him and his lost patrol even further out into the Atlantic Ocean! But as Lt. Cox pointed out, if Taylor was over the Keys, by heading north he would have seen the Florida mainland in very short order. Sadly, the Flight was probably exactly where it should have been, over the cays and islands of the Bahamas when they determined they were "lost". Several hours into the flight even the students indicated doubt in Taylor's leadership ability by claiming that they felt they were too far north and too far east. This may have possibly been due to their having flown the proper route with a more experienced commander before this mission. Lastly, there is no evidence that any Board of Inquiry member stated on or off the record that "they'd vanished as completely as if they had flown to Mars!" This was not supernatural, but more a case of no "road maps in the sky" and the "blind leading the blind"-of being truly lost and with each step to correct the situation, becoming even more lost. This was a horrible tragedy nevertheless and even in peacetime these men lost their lives serving this great Nation of which we should be thankful for their sacrifices.

Next Week: In Part 4 of our saga, we will review the case of Flight 19's missing rescue plane, and begin to look at those ships which disappeared in the warm, aqua Caribbean waters feared by sailors the world over. Waters known as the Bermuda Triangle. All next week in NC PCR!

Wake Up and Smell the Comics

 # 11: December Highlights

Happy holidays everyone. It’s Hanukah for some of us, but Christmas is just around the corner for most of the rest. This is as good a time as any to offer this month’s picks, though many of them will be released at different times of the month. It would be best to call your local shops and ask before making the trip, as it may just save you the trouble of making two. This is a strange month as most of the books are gearing up for major creative changes, but there are definitely a handful of projects that are worth mention. Take a look:

Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 (of 3) - Frank Miller’s sequel to The Dark Knight Returns hit shelves last week turning numbers that haven’t been seen since The Death of Superman. For those of you who enjoyed the first volume, this new one picks up right where it left off. Miller wrote and penciled the series with colors by his wife, Lynn Varley (Elektra Lives Again, Sin City). While the first issue has already shipped (and it was good), each subsequent issue will ship on a monthly schedule. Though they may be sold out now, retailers can definitely reorder them if you ask.

JLA #61 (and The Power Company) - The newest creative team of writer Joe Kelly and artists Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen take over from Mark Waid, Bryan Hitch and Mark Miller in this issue. Not only does it set up the new direction of the series but it also features a backup story launching Kurt Busiek (Avengers, Astro City) and Tom Grummett’s newest creator-owned series, The Power Company. Set in the DC universe with mostly new characters, the series sets off with a bunch of one-shots in January followed by the actual series in February.

Just Imagine Stan Lee and Jerry Ordway Creating the JLA - Stan Lee’s latest revision of the DC universe is his take on the JLA with artist Jerry Ordway (The Power of Shazam!). Gathering all of Lee’s new versions of the most famous DC characters - Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman - the book serves as good starting point for anyone wanting to sample this 12-part series.

Captain America #50 -

Uncanny X-Men #401 - Extraordinary artist Ron Garney (Captain America) joins Joe Casey as the new regular artist for the original X-Men team series. Featuring members Nightcrawler, Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Chamber and a new character called Stacy X, the book begins a new storyline featuring the return of many older X-Men characters during Marvel’s company wide “Silent Month.” This is the perfect jumping on point for anyone looking to try an X-Men book again, but I must warn you… this story may rattle a few cages….

Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home trade paperback - Collecting the first storyline by acclaimed writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist John Romita Jr. (X-Men, Incredible Hulk), this book is a must have for anyone who missed it all the first time. Hailed as the best story in the last ten years, Straczynski refocuses Peter Parker’s life while leaving the madness (of bad stories) way behind. Featuring one of the coolest battles Spidey has ever had an unbeatable foe, I simply cannot recommend this book enough. Anyone who enjoys (or enjoyed) this series at anytime, must read this. You’re cheating yourself if you miss this.

Thunderbolts: Justice… Like Lightning trade paperback - Collecting the first appearances and issues of the fan favorite Thunderbolts series by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley (New Warriors), this book may be what you’re looking for if you want something with a real spin. Set after the events of the apocalyptic Onslaught crossover of the mid-90’s, the world has been left without its greatest superheroes. Answering the calls for help, a new team springs into action to win the day for truth and justice. But who are these mysterious new heroes and what is their deep dark secret? Find out why Thunderbolts was one of the most surprising and wonderful (one of the few) books of the latter 1990’s and why it still holds true today.

The Haunted #1 (of 4) - The first part of a new mini-series from Chaos Comics (that’s right), this book is for those of you who enjoy series such as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Roswell or Smallville. Written and created by the legendary Peter David, whose decade long run on Incredible Hulk places him as the most memorable of its creators, the book is one of many new projects from by major established creators from publishers such as Marvel and DC.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 - Peter Laird, one of the creators of the original TMNT comic series of the ‘80’s, has returned with an all new bi-monthly series from the reformed Mirage Studios. Written by Laird and featuring art by frequent collaborator Jim Lawson, this is the chance for old fans of the turtles to see the incarnation that they know and love. The animated series and later Image Comics versions are a thing of the past, but if we want to see the originals… you should go to your local shop and show your support now.

Well, that’s it for this week’s edition. Ciao for now.

Mike's Rant

Hello, gang! Some very short items in a very short week. Off to Chicago I go to be pampered by my mom for a few days! Shall we begin?

A recent motorcycle accident not withstanding (what's a few fractured ribs to a cyborg from the future?), Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed up for "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." The film, which surpasses "Pearl Harbor" as the highest-budgeted film ever greenlighted - - - $170 million, begins pre-production soon. Arnold's salary is rumored to be in the $30 million range.

The first film awards of the past year have been announced. The National Board of Review announced the following major winners:

   Best Picture: Moulin Rouge
   Best Actor: Billy Bob Thornton -- "Bandits," "Man Who Wasn't There," "Monsters Ball"
   Best Actress: Halle Berry - "Monsters Ball"
   Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent - "Iris"
   Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett - "Bandits," "Lord of the Rings"
   Best Director: Todd Field - "In the Bedroom"
   Animated Feature: "Shrek"

Director Ang Lee has added two more actors to his production of "The Incredible Hulk." Nick Nolte will play General "Thunderbolt" Ross and Jennifer Connelly will play Betty Ross.

What do you do after you've won an Oscar? Well, if you're Russell Crowe, you make sure you aren't taken too seriously. Crowe, who will almost certainly receive his third Best Actor nod in a row for "A Beautiful Mind" (he was previously nominated for his work in "The Insider" and won last year for "Gladiator"), will next step into the leather jacket of the late Bob Crane as he takes on the title character in "Hogan's Heroes."

IT'S ONLY A MOVIE....................WE PROMISE
Some people just don't understand. Last week the body of 28-year-old Takako Konishi of Tokyo was discovered in the woods outside Detroit Lakes, Minn. Three days earlier, she had been questioned by police when she indicated she had come to the area looking for the money buried in the film, "Fargo." With only a crudely drawn map, she walked up and down the highway looking for the missing treasure. A resident who spoke Japanese tried to explain that there was no ransom money.........it was only a movie.......... but to no avail.

What a great dad John Phillip Lindh has. When informed that his son had turned against his country and joined the terrorist group we are currently at war with, Pa Lindh stated that when he saw his son he'd have to give him a "kick in the butt" for his actions. Me? I'd like to watch as he's led to a courtyard and then executed by a firing squad of his choice This guy is a traitor to his country and should be dealt with accordingly. He made his bed................now he needs to die in it! Well, that's it for this week. Have a great one and I'll be back next week.

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by William Moriaty    Thanks to Terence Nuzum for his Top Ten Xmas Special list    "Wake Up and Smell the Comics is ©2001 by Drew Reiber    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

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