Friday, December 23, 2016

Season Updates

In the real world, I've been out of employment for five months. Part of a small layoff at my old job at a company I'd been at for nineteen years. 

I have recently found new employment in a contract position with Medline. Pay is great but no benefits. 

It's also a bit out of the way compared to my old job. Instead of fifteen minutes, it's roughly an hour there and another hour back. 

My initial work was Monday-Friday doing the regular training and learning bits. During this time I've had to create documentation because for many things, it was all hand delivered. Always a poor way to handle issues. 

This relying on subject matter experts though isn't a new thing. It was a common sight at the old job too. Only a handful of people knowing how to do a thing without it being documented.

With me on board, there are two other new hires. We've all been doing our share of recording things.

And it's not that current employees are unfriendly. No, they are relatively so. But they're not teachers. When they go to show you how something is done, it's zip zip zip. No screenshots, no written documentation, no waiting while you write things down because they are handling vital issues, so it makes thing difficult to ensure that you've got every step necessary down. 

This makes things a bit more challenging then they need to be.

There are some things documented. The documentation in those areas is very handy. Well written and generous use of screen shots. 

But sometimes it's wrong. And it's copy protected so we can't update it. So you wind up making a copy of it for your personal use and anytime the correct file does get changed, you're now out of synch. Minor things but telling things.

The job uses PL/SQL, and it's been a challenge to take my MS Access skills to this field. Fortunately, I've always studied SQL because there are some things in MS Access that you still need SQL to do. And I've always been interested in "big data" and databases in general. It's a good way to organize things.

So long story short, I've been busy with a new job.

I'm still reading comics, still reading books. Lately, those books have veered away from fiction and into non-fiction. Some interesting results there. Did see Rogue One and will definitely have to post about that soon.

Anyway, I hope the holidays are treating everyone well and that everyone is ready for 2017 to be a better year than 2016. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thor: Thunder In Her Veins

I read my comics in digital format for the most part. I buy comics when they are on sale.  Getting a comic for $2.99 seems a good deal to me! 
Let me start with the art. Great stuff. It's not the best I've ever seen Thor. I've been reading comics since the late 70s. I've seen George Perez, Walter Simonson, John Buscema, John Bryne. Art is subjective and this may be some people's personal interpretation. It's fun stuff, and I like it. 

Next, let me talk about the writing. There are crisp bits that stand out. The whole title "Thunder in Her Veins" is a play off of the situation the Thor finds herself in. See Thor is Jane Foster. 
Jane has a long history with Thor. A former love interest, a former nurse, a former doctor, and now a cancer patient. She is not doing well. But the writing. "The flesh is weak but the thunder is strong" is solid. 

The whole cancer thing? This aspect of the character bores me to tears. It bores me for the same reason the "Odinson" losing an arm bores me. It bores me for the same reason anytime Vision is physically destroyed. Anytime Wolverine is injured. It's meaningless. 
She has cancer because she chooses to have cancer. That's it. In a world of gods and magic and various cures for anything, for Jane to have cancer is a weak plot device.
Thankfully the series doesn't use it too much. In most of the collection, Jane is Thor.
The series works the war of the Asgard mythology worlds. The dark elves, the light elves, the trolls, the fire giants, the frost giants and of course, Asgard.
In the middle of all this? The new and the hunted Thor.  
Outside of Jane's cancer, the 'boring' stuff continues to be the choice of characters. Cul the 'Serpent' wasn't that interesting when a whole event was dedicated to him. Here he comes off as more boring if possible. More useless. If he's pulling Odin's strings, it'll be even more worthless and wasted. His whole "Corps" of the hammer using individuals who look like Thor wannabes from the late 80's metal hair band even worse.

Odin being an ass in and of itself continues to be annoying. It's not that he should "NEVER" be such, it's just it's been done so many times. Do we really need it again? 
Now Thor being a legacy character has a lot of history. This, however, is an interesting mix as there is Jane's personal history, and then the history of the 'Odinson.' Sometimes they correlate in interesting ways. 
For example, one of the Odinson's oldest foes is his adopted brother Loki. Jane has suffered many times at the hands of Loki since she was Thor's love interest.
So when the two meet?
 It doesn't go well.
This is a recurring theme for the new Thor. Acting out with initial violence or being perceived to do such.
In an interesting twist on things, Loki, in part due to his popularity in the Avenger's movie and of course, his role in the Thor movie, and in the first resurrection of Thor back into the Marvel universe in the first place, Loki has gone through MANY changes.

He's been Loki: Agent of Asgard . He's been Kid Loki, a member of the Young Avengers.  He's been good, bad, and everything between.

One of the most interesting takes, though, is when the new Thor meets this version of Loki.

This is a version that does surprisingly well in this new battle between Thor and Loki.

The top notch art and the solid storytelling make it a fight worth remembering and one that would be hard to beat if this collection didn't quickly surpass it.

So another one of those classic fights, "Thor vs. Odin" right up to bat! And man, I love that bottom panel. Captures the energy just right.

And this full splash page? Another great example of why I'm enjoying the art in this collection. You can feel the blows!

Thor vs Odin is often a one sided fight. It's usually one that Thor quickly loses. But the 'new' hammer seems to have several tricks of its own. I'm almost wondering if the hammer is possessed by 'the real' Odin and that it's moving on it's own ways and methods.

And regarding Loki and character growth? Who knows what games he's playing. He's written remarkably well here. The complexity hinted at in the blow.

I can get why some people don't like "Thor" as a woman without a name change but peeps, I tell you, you're missing some great classic comics. Solid art, solid writing, and while I'm not a huge fan of everything, there's more than enough to get me waiting for the next collection.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Hero Academia Vol 1

I like Super Heroes.

I like anime.

So a series about a preteen in a world of superheroes where something like 80% of the population has a super ability and he does not, but he wants to be an actual hero comes out, I'm interested.

So +Hulu has My Hero Academia season one available to stream.

And hey, Amazon had the first volume of the Manga on sale.

So for those who are curious, the manga and the anime follow each other pretty closely.

It also ties into the recent posts of legacy, of passing down values or taking values and bringing them to a new generation.

Midoriya is a youth in a world of 'quirks.' These 'quirks' tend to fall into the useful to the useless. They are similar to 'mutant' abilities in the Marvel Universe but are often highly augmented by technology. Much like the other series, Bunny & Tiger, there are heroes who do it for the money, those who do it for the popularity, and those, like All Might, the blonde United States Hero, the most powerful of them all, who does it because it's the right thing to do.

Now the thing about 'quirks' is like in DC or Marvel, there's the technology factor. When you get super smart people, for example, you get technology that goes way beyond anything available in the 'real' world. This means cloning, genetic modification, etc... So there's a bit of that going on as well.

Midoriya though, has no quirk. This is devastating for him because he grew up watching All Might and had a serious case of hero worship. Of doing the right thing. Of being an actual hero, not for the money, not for the popularity, not for the arrogant righteousness of it, but to help others.

Despite not having a quirk, and being teased relentlessly by former friend Bakugo, a youth with an impressive quirk who himself dreams of being a big hero, mainly for the popularity, to set new roads and records for himself, Midoryia keeps dreaming. He takes notes. He observes how super hero fights go, how tactics work.

And then he gets to met All Might. It's amusing to note that even the character recognizes that All Might is "drawn in a totally different style," a less than sublet nod to western comics.

Midoryia flat out asks All Might if he can be a hero. All Might tells him to not become a super hero but rather, become a police man or something that does help people.

And then he surprises All Might with his bravery and his actions, going to save Bakugo from a super villain.

All Might decides that Midoriya will be his pupil and that thanks to All Might's own unique quirk, "All For One", a quirk that can be passed down to others, Midoriya is back in action and has the potential to be one of the greatest heroes of all.

All Might does this because he is in Japan originally to find an appropriate heir. In a previous battle, All Might was badly injured and cannot stay in his quirk form for long and his powers are fading. His nonquirk form is less than flattering.

Midoriya, by being like All Might, inspired by All Might indeed, is just the type of hero that All Might is looking for. Even without quirks, with no thought to his own safety, Midoriya charged in to save someone else's life.

This impresses All Might.

And as a reader, I was impressed by how All Might works with Midoriya. How he gives him a plan to let Midoriya accept the All For One power without it destroying him. How he works with him in almost all things. It's great to see an actual mentor-apprentice relationship where

My Hero Academia is a fun title that like it's characters, has it's share of quirks. For example, if Midoriya never wept again, I'd be impressed. The kid has more tears than Steven from Steven Universe, which is damn impressive.

The art is solid. The storytelling solid. There are elements going on in the background that are building up. If you have Hulu, check it out, otherwise check out the manga it's based on. Fun stuff.