Friday, 15 February 2019

Yes Man (4½ Stars)

"The world's a playground. You know that when you're a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it".

I bought this film on DVD in 2010, shortly before I started writing my blog. I only watched it once. It left such an impression on me that I clearly remembered most of what happened. That makes it even stranger that I've left it unwatched since then. I have too many films in my collection; too many good films.

Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, an employee in the loans department of a small bank in Los Angeles. He leads a lonely life since his divorce from his wife Stephanie. They were only married six months, and the break up has caused him to crawl into his shell. He would rather spend time alone than go out with his friends. He doesn't even have a dog. His best friend Pete keeps encouraging him to go out and have fun, but he makes excuses.

A friend he hasn't seen for a while invites Carl to a lecture by a motivational speaker, played by the magnificent Terence Stamp. The essence is that people should learn to say Yes. By saying Yes to everything that is offered or requested in life people will become lucky. By saying No bad things will happen.

Carl tries it out. Why not? What could possibly go wrong? After a series of misfortunes, such as running out of petrol after giving a homeless man a lift, he meets a young woman called Allison. She's wild and spontaneous, everything that Carl isn't. The mixture of Allison's spontaneity and Carl saying Yes to everything welds them together as a pair.

This is a very uplifting film. It speaks to me personally. I could never say Yes unconditionally to everything, but it makes me feel I should say Yes more often. If you don't keep yourself open for new experiences you'll never enjoy any adventures. Carl decides to learn Korean and how to play guitar. Both skills become useful in the course of the film. He also talks to Mormons, but that doesn't help him. There are limits even to saying Yes.

Jim Carrey has made both comedies and serious films. Some of his films are borderline cases. "Yes Man" has some humorous moments, but it's too inspirational to be dismissed as a comedy.

Jim is a real life Yes Man. One scene called for him to do a bungee jump, which he's never dome before. A stunt man was ready to do the jump, but Jim insisted on doing it himself. The script required him to answer his phone while he was jumping, and he made a bet that he could do it. At least, he attempted to bet the director $50 that he could answer his phone in mid-jump. The director refused to accept the bet, because he knew Jim too well.

Music plays an important part in the film. Alison is the singer in a rock band called Munchausen by Proxy. In the film they're portrayed as being unsuccessful, with only five fans, but they're remarkably good. The band was created for the film by adding the actress Zooey Deschanel to an already existing all-girl trio, Von Iva. Despite being a fake band, created only for the film, they had a short period of success. They were invited to perform at science fiction conventions, although I have to wonder what's sci-fi-related about them.

Success Ratio:  + 1.2

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Ai Shinozaki Month, Day 15

This is the 15th day of my Ai Shinozaki month, a tribute to the world's most beautiful actress.

Photos from Digital Girls Collection, 2008.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Liar Liar (4 Stars)

There's always a problem with translating films into other languages. I'm not talking about the age old argument of dubbing versus subtitles. There's the same problem with both types of translations. The opening scene in "Liar Liar" is a perfect example. Schoolchildren, presumably first grade, are being asked what their parents do for a living.

Max: My Dad is a liar.
Teacher: A liar? I'm sure you don't mean a liar.
Max: Well, he wears a suit and goes to court and talks to the judge.
Teacher: Oh, I see. You mean he's a lawyer.

I'm sure you can guess the problem already. The whole comedy is based on the similarity of the words liar and lawyer. The DVD subtitles have been accurately translated into German, but guess what? Unless the person watching already understands English it's impossible to figure out what the conversation is about. The German words for liar and lawyer, Lügner and Rechtsanwalt, aren't even vaguely similar.

All Germans born in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) learn English at school, so it can be assumed that even if they need subtitles they can understand the humour. English wasn't a compulsory subject in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), so most Germans over 40 who were born in the East have no knowledge of English.

English is a common language around the world, but I watch films in languages that I don't understand at all, languages like Japanese and Chinese. I'm at the mercy of the translators, and I have to assume that their translation gives me the subtleties I need. I have to hope that they don't let me down completely, like the German translators of "Liar Liar".

Then there's another problem with this particular DVD which is totally unnecessary. The English title of the film refers to the common jibe among American children, "Liar liar, pants on fire". Despite losing this reference, the German film could have been called "Lügner, Lügner", or better still "Lügner! Lügner!" with exclamation marks. The title could have been left untranslated, like most American films released in Germany. Instead of this, the title was translated as "Der Dummschwätzer". That's a slang word which means someone who talks nonsense. What an awful translation! Lawyers don't talk nonsense, they talk very sensibly indeed. They even talk good sense when they tell lies.

After the classroom teacher corrects him, Max just shrugs. For him the words liar and lawyer mean the same. His father, Fletcher Reede, doesn't just lie to the judge. He lies to everyone, including Max. Some of his lies in the past must have been uncovered, because Fletcher is now divorced, and Max lives with his mother and her boyfriend. Max loves his father more than anything in the world, but he wishes he would stop lying. To take one example, Fletcher promised to take Max to see a wrestling event, but then cancelled because he said he had to work late. In actual fact he was having sex in the office with one of his bosses. That's probably not what Max guessed, but he still had an intuition that his father wasn't telling the truth.

On his fifth birthday Max makes a wish that his father should be unable to lie for a whole day. And like in all the best fairy tales, his wish comes true.

This is a catastrophe for Fletcher. He has to present a court case for which lying is essential. His client Samantha Cole, played by the luscious Jennifer Tilly, is getting divorced from her rich husband. The prenuptial agreement states that she will receive nothing if she's unfaithful to him – her husband must have expected it – but he's made a friendly offer of $2 million. That's not enough for Samantha; she wants $11.5 million.

Whatever lies Fletcher might have planned to win the case, he can't do it. Is career is ruined.

Samantha takes the stand wearing an outfit intended to sway the jury. How could twelve upstanding men, pillars of the community, be able to refuse her anything she wants? But she still needs the support of her lawyer.

As I've said in the past, I prefer Jim Carrey's serious roles to his comedy films. Nevertheless, he's one of the few actors whose films I always buy, whether or not I've seen them in the cinema. As far as I'm concerned, he can't do anything wrong. His comedy performances are ridiculously over-the-top, but they work. He's one of the best actors who has ever lived.

Success Ratio:  + 4.7

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Don't look now (5 Stars)

When I watched "The Man who fell to Earth" in December I intended to watch this film within a few days. The problem is that my to-watch-list is growing bigger all the time. At the moment the list has 164 films. Yes, one hundred and sixty-four films! That's ridiculous. There are a few films in the list that I haven't yet seen, but the vast majority are films that I've watched before and want to watch again soon, for one reason or another. Like "Don't look now", which I wanted to watch again because of Nicolas Roeg's death. And with a list that's 164 films long I can assure you that "soon" might mean many months from now. I'd like to trim my list down to zero by the end of the year, but the trouble is that I add new films as fast as I watch the old ones.

Maybe Donald Sutherland doesn't look like Charlie Chaplin, but he acts like him when he runs aimlessly through the narrow streets of Venice. From the beginning of the film he's a man cursed. He has the gift of second sight, but he's a sceptic who doesn't believe in the supernatural. That's a deadly combination. He sees things, but he doesn't believe what he sees. He sees warnings, but he ignores them. It's ironic that his wife is a believer, even though she has no gift.

Maybe it's wrong to say that Donald runs aimlessly. He's pursuing his own death.

Poor Donald has the face of a deer caught in the headlights. A few steps to the left or right could save his life, but he's transfixed. Like in a Greek (or Roman) tragedy, the fates are against him.

The Bishop tries to help him, but he isn't a man of great faith. He's one of the church bureaucrats who has risen through the ranks of the church hierarchy because he's good at what he does, not because he's a soldier of God. The Bishop believes in prophecies, but he doesn't heed them. The Bishop's father died in a fall, and after seeing Donald almost fall to his death he should have begged him to leave Venice.

Disaster also struck off screen. The musician Robert Wyatt fell out of a window while his girlfriend Alfreda Benge was working as an art designer on the film. He's been paralysed from the waist down ever since. The positive side is that he survived and he's made his greatest music since the accident. He survived because he's a believer.

Venice is a city of great beauty, but that's not what Donald saw. Wherever he looked he saw ugliness.

When you visit a church you can sit and admire the stained glass windows or you can kiss the gargoyles. Donald made his choice.

Love, happiness or death. What would you choose?

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Ai Shinozaki Month, Day 14

This is the 14th day of my Ai Shinozaki month, a tribute to the world's most beautiful actress.

I don't think Ai will ever win an Olympic gold medal, but I'd still cheer when she races.

Photos from Sabra Japan, 2009.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Logan (5 Stars)

"There are no more guns in the valley".

Success Ratio:  + 4.4

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General: Russia and Crimea

Ever since I started my blog I've had a lot of readers from Russia. Overall Russia is in third place, after the United States and the United Kingdom, but some months the majority of my readers are from Russia. It's you, my faithful Russian readers, that I'm addressing.

In 2014 the Russian army invaded Crimea and had it under its total control within a few weeks. A fake referendum was held for the people to decide whether they wanted to become part of Russia. The official result was that 96% of Crimean citizens wanted to become Russian, but international organisations weren't allowed to monitor the vote. Independent polls estimate that less than 3% of the Crimean population wanted to become Russian.

Since then there is a massive military presence in Crimea. In the larger cities Russian soldiers are posted on every street to "keep the peace". Anyone who says that Crimea belongs to Ukraine in public receives a six month prison sentence. Companies belonging to Ukrainian nationals were taken away from them without compensation. Crimeans are encouraged to leave, and many of the more outspoken critics have "disappeared". All Ukrainians in Crimea have been offered Russian citizenship, but so far less than 10% have accepted the offer. Nevertheless, teenage Ukrainians living in Crimea are forced to do Russian military service, in violation of international laws.

Worst of all, Russia is attempting to make Crimean Russian by relocating Russian citizens into Crimea. In the last five years 600,000 Russians have moved to Crimea, most of them retired army officers and their families. The goal is clear: the 2014 referendum had to be faked, so Vladimir Putin wants to put enough loyal Russians into Crimea to be able to win a second genuine referendum.

Crimea is Ukraine, and it will remain Ukraine even after the last Ukrainian in Crimea has been murdered. Russia should pull its army out of Crimea immediately.

Ai Shinozaki Month, Day 13

This is the 13th day of my Ai Shinozaki month, a tribute to the world's most beautiful actress.

Photos from Sabra Japan, 2009.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Die Hard 2 (4 Stars)

Like "Die Hard", this is another Christmas story, but only just. The word Christmas is used a few times to give the film a setting, but it has very little relevance to the story.

The film has been released with different names around the world. "Die Hard 2" is the original title used in the United States, but it's also called "Die Harder" in the UK and "Die Slowly" in Germany. In some countries it's called "58 Minutes to Live", because "Die Hard 2" is based on a novel called "58 Minutes" by Walter Wagner.

Once more John McClane is in action outside his jurisdiction as a New York police officer. He's at Washington DC's international airport waiting for his wife's plane to arrive from Los Angeles. He notices suspicious activity, which he passes on to the local police, but they don't believe him, so he has to do it all alone.

General Ramon Esperanza, the former dictator of a fictional South American country, is being extradited to the United States for drug trafficking. He's due to arrive soon. A team of mercenaries is waiting at the airport to free him on arrival. They shut off the lights and the communications systems at the airport, threatening to let all the aircraft circling overhead run out of fuel and crash if their demands aren't met. John McClane faces them as a one-man army. If he ever receives assistance from others, those who help him are incompetent and just get in his way.

This film isn't quite up to the standard of "Die Hard", but I still enjoyed it a lot. I miss the claustrophobic atmosphere of the first film. John McClane is doubtlessly Bruce Willis' signature role, however many good films he might have made in his life. He was one of the outstanding action heroes of the 20th Century, and his days aren't over yet.

Success Ratio:  + 1.4

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Marvel Years 06.12 - December 1966

An eagle-eyed reader noticed that I omitted Kid Colt #130 in my list of "other comics published this month" in September 1966. I'm glad that people pay enough attention. I'll be very happy if someone finds mistakes that I need to correct. However, Kid Colt #130 was a deliberate omission. My list only includes comics with at least one new story, and Kid Colt #130 was a reprint issue. This will become more apparent as annuals are released, of which some have new stories but others don't. I don't yet know what I'll do with the "dreaded deadline doom" (DDD) issues that popped up in the 1970's. I'll deal with them when I get to them.

Fantastic Four #57

Title: Enter Dr. Doom!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Doctor Doom, Sandman, Maximus

Regulars: Wyatt Wingfoot

Guests: Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, Lockjaw, Silver Surfer

This is typical for Stan Lee's writing style. The story is called "Enter Dr. Doom", but on the splash page we see the Fantastic Four being attacked by the Sandman. The Sandman is breaking out of prison with the help of the Wizard, who says that he'll remain where he is until the Sandman comes to collect him.

The Sandman later attacks the Fantastic Four at the Baxter Building. Before he flees he takes a handful of Reed Richards' devices with him, hoping that the Wizard can make use of them.

The Sandman was last seen in Fantastic Four #45.

The Wizard was last seen in Fantastic Four #43.

In the meantime, Johnny Storm and Wyatt Wingfoot are still dimension-hopping with Lockjaw, attempting to find a way to reach Crystal. In the Hidden Land Maximus tells the other Inhumans that Black Bolt isn't mute; he's always been able to speak, but he doesn't wish to.

In Latveria, Doctor Doom invites the Silver Surfer into his palace. He tells him that he's a man of peace, and the Silver Surfer is naive enough to believe him.

When he turns his back Doctor Doom uses a device to transfer the Silver Surfer's power into himself. What he says about being able to challenge Galactus is an exaggeration. It was Galactus who gave the power, and the Silver Surfer himself was unable to defeat Galactus in Fantastic Four #50.

Doctor Doom is also able to use the Silver Surfer's surfboard, which leads to some of the most chilling scenes ever to be drawn in Marvel Comics. Most comic fans say that the Galactus saga (Fantastic Four #48 to #50) is the greatest story ever written. It's my opinion that the Doctor Doom-Silver Surfer saga (Fantastic Four #57 to #60) exceeds it. I remember when I first read the comics as a boy. I went to the shop almost every day to check for the next issue of the Fantastic Four.

Doctor Doom was seen briefly, in a shadow, last month. His last full appearance was in Avengers #25.

To end on a light-hearted note, the Thing is watching "Marvel Super-Heroes" on television. This was a cartoon series that ran for three months in 1966. I've never watched it, and I have no intention to. Each episode was made up of three seven-minute stories. Seven minutes? It's impossible to put much into a time slot like that, apart from muscle bound characters mindlessly punching one another.

However, this is interesting in showing how Stan Lee viewed the so-called Marvel Universe. The super-heroes lived in the same universe as us, not a fictional Earth-616, and they watched the same television programmes as us. The television series is fictional, but the ones who watch it aren't.

Amazing Spider-Man #43

Title: Rhino on the Rampage!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita

Villain: Rhino

Regulars: Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Ned Leeds, Frederick Foswell

Guests: Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, John Jameson, Dr. Connors

I prefer Steve Ditko as an artist, but I have to say that John Romita was an excellent choice to replace him. His simple, no-nonsense artwork is perfect for a super-hero like Spider-Man.

Here's some information about Marvel code for inexperienced readers. Do you see the cloud surrounding Spider-Man on the splash page? That means that the Rhino is thinking about him. It's so  easy to understand when you know the code, isn't it?

Peter Parker is still love-struck while sitting sipping tea with Mary Jane. Love-struck or lust-struck, you decide. And it's only Mary Jane doing the sipping while Peter is doing the staring. It's lucky she isn't a dastardly super-villainess; he wouldn't stand a chance.

Notice that Peter's motorcycle continues to be an important factor in his life. It makes an impression on Mary Jane.

MJ's dialogue is an exaggeration of 1960's hippy slang. It's amazing that she didn't dress like a hippy with flowers in her hair. Stan and John probably didn't want to overdo it.

Adorable Artie Simek made a mistake. He wrote a V when he should have written a T. Foggy Nelson was ordered to defend the Rhino against his will, so what he meant to say was "I hate felonies".

Spider-Man defeats the Rhino with the help of a scientific formula developed by Dr. Connors, otherwise known as the Lizard. We last saw Dr. Connors, also in human form, in Amazing Spider-Man #33. Note J. Jonah Jameson's generosity when Peter Parker delivers his photos of the fight. He's getting an initialled key to the staff washroom. That's second best to having a permanent job.

J. Jonah Jameson might hate Spider-Man, but his son John doesn't share his feelings.

Once more we read about the poverty of Peter Parker's family. Aunt May can't afford medication. The lack of universal health insurance is a disgrace in a rich country like America.

And the motorcycle again! Peter Parker blames himself for his aunt's bad health, saying he shouldn't have spent his money on the motorcycle.

In this issue Flash Thompson is drafted to fight in Vietnam. As in all good soap operas, everything happens at once.

Strange Tales #151

Title: Overkill!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jim Steranko

Villain: Hydra, Don Caballero

Regulars: Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jasper Sitwell

This is a landmark issue. It marks the first story drawn by Jim Steranko, considered by many to be Marvel's greatest ever artist. He only worked for Marvel for three years, unfortunately. He had differences of opinion with Stan Lee that grew as time went by. Steranko had a very individual style, nothing like any comic book artists before him, and it was too extreme for Stan Lee.

In this issue we don't see much of Jim Steranko's distinctive style. Although he's the artist, the layouts were provided by Jack Kirby. It's precisely the layouts that separated Steranko from other artists, so Kirby is holding him back.

The "Overkill" in the title is a sonic ray that will cause all atomic bombs on Earth to explode simultaneously. Hydra wants to create chaos and destruction on a global scale.

Nick Fury escapes from Hydra, but he's suspicious because it was too easy. His instincts are correct. The Overkill Horn has been built into his plane's engines. When he reaches maximum speed the sonic ray will be unleashed.

Once more the horrible SHIELD slogan is repeated on the splash page.

The Crazy Credits tell us that Irving Forbush washes Hydra's hoods. Really! Has he no shame? I would never assist an evil organisation, not even in a trivial task like that. I would rather spend the day washing Stan Lee's underwear. You can quote me on that.

Title: Umar strikes!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Bill Everett

Villain: Umar, Dormammu (flashback), Mordo (flashback), Kaluu (flashback)

Regulars: Ancient One, Wong, Clea

The majority of this story, six out of ten pages, is a recap of past events. Umar uses the Lamp of Lucifer to find out what has happened while she was trapped. She sees that her brother Dormammu is currently trapped in limbo. That means he didn't die in the clash with Eternity in Strange Tales #146. She orders the lamp to show her what led up to his imprisonment.

In addition to the many battles between Doctor Strange, Baron Mordo and Dormammu she sees the final clash with Eternity, which is shown here yet again.

In order to lure Doctor Strange, Umar hurls Clea into a foreign dimension.

When Wong asked Doctor Strange for money in Strange Tales #147 he was told to sell a few trinkets from the safe. This time Doctor Strange is angered, and he creates money. I'm sure that Doctor Strange's magic is sufficient to create perfect replicas of coins and bank notes with valid serial numbers, but it's still fake money. In his anger Doctor Strange has broken the law.

Tales of Suspense #84

Title: The Other Iron Man!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Mandarin

Regulars: Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts

Tony Stark appears before the congressional committee to answer questions about Iron Man. Before the first question can be asked he has a heart attack and collapses. The doctor finds the metal chest plate beneath his shirt. Most assume that it's just to keep him alive after shrapnel wounds in Vietnam, but the press begins to speculate that Tony Stark is Iron Man. While he's in hospital Happy Hogan, the only person who knows Iron Man's true identity, flies around in the Iron Man suit to stop the rumours.

The masquerade backfires. The Mandarin has been observing Tony Stark's hospital room, so he thinks Happy Hogan is really Iron Man, and he transports him to China. That's not logical. Since the Mandarin can spy on anything anywhere in the world, he should have discovered long ago that Tony Stak is Iron Man.

Incidentally, when Happy Hogan first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #45 he was an ugly ex-boxer, but he's become more handsome since Gene Colan took over as artist. Pepper Potts was also plain and unattractive in her early appearances.

Title: The Adaptoid!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Super-Adaptoid

Guests: Hawkeye, Goliath, Wasp

Captain America shows his fellow Avengers the Adaptoid, who he defeated last month. He wants Goliath's opinion as a bio-chemist. Does Captain America know that Hank Pym is Goliath? I haven't been paying attention.

Stan Lee shows off by saying that the Adaptoid fought with the Tumbler in Tales Of Suspense #84. At least, he's trying to show off. He's actually showing himself up. It was Tales Of Suspense #83. Now I'm the one showing off. Do I deserve a No Prize?

While he's being examined the Adaptoid pretends to be comatose. In truth he's analysing the four Avengers, so that he can take on all of their abilities. This makes him the Super-Adaptoid.

The Super-Adaptoid defeats Captain America in battle, then throws him into the water. He wrongly assumes that Captain America is dead.

Tales to Astonish #86

Title: The Wrath of Warlord Krang!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jerry Grandenetti

Villain: Krang

Regulars: Lady Dorma

Sub-Mariner searches New York City for traces of Warlord Krang, but he's already back at sea. Krang sends an enormous tidal wave crashing over the city as his first step in conquering the surface world. Sub-Mariner is blamed, and soldiers hunt him.

This issue's artist, Jerry Grandenetti, only drew this one story for Marvel in the 1960's as a free-lance artist. In the 1970's he drew two more comics. He specialised in black and white comics.

Title: The Birth of the Hulk-Killer!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

Villain: Hulk-Killer, Boomerang

Regulars: Rick Jones, General Ross, Major Talbot, Betty Ross

The Hulk succeeds in diverting the Orion Missile away from New York City, but the general public blame him for trying to destroy them.

The Boomerang has improved his weaponry and is planning to attack the Hulk again.

General Ross finds one over-sized humanoid left behind by the Leader after his (seeming) death in Tales To Astonish #74. In the Leader's notes he reads that this humanoid is designated the Hulk-Killer. It's revived, but instead of accepting orders it breaks out and runs amok. First it fights the army, and then the Hulk arrives.

The Crazy Credits tell us that Artie Simek's lettering is lucrative. Why is that? Has Stan Lee given him a raise?

Thor #135

Title: The Maddening menace of the Super-Beast!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Man-Beast

Regulars: Jane Foster, Odin, Balder

Guests: High Evolutionary

The Man-Beast creates an army of creatures that are almost as highly evolved as he is. Thor and the beings loyal to the High Evolutionary defeat them. The Man-Beast and his followers are herded into a space ship headed to the galaxy Dromisana. The High Evolutionary and his followers also leave in a second space ship.

Title: The Fiery Breath of Fafnir!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Gods: Odin, Thor, Fandrel, Hogun

Thor, Fandral and Hogun win a battle against Fafnir, but Volstagg is still missing. Watching from Asgard, Odin proclaims that the total defeat of Fafnir is essential.

The Avengers #35

Title: The Living Laser!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Don Heck

Avengers: Captain America, Hawkeye, Goliath, Wasp

Villain: Living Laser

Guests: Bill Foster, Black Widow

Captain America and Hawkeye are trapped between laser rays that are gradually coming closer. In best James Bond fashion, they're moving slowly and the villain doesn't wait to see them die. Goliath arrives and turns the laser beams off at the last possible moment.

Captain America's shield is disintegrated by the laser rays, and he picks up a new shield when he gets home. This was a matter of contention by fans on the letter pages for months, because the shield was supposed to be indestructible. The explanation (a euphemism for excuse) given was that Captain America valued his shield so much that he only used a replica in his first outings with the Avengers.

The Living Laser is hired by rebels in Costa Verde, a Central American country, to overthrow their dictator. He effortlessly defeats the entire army of Costa Verde. The Avengers return and defeat him, but only because Goliath has regained the ability to change size. He was stuck at 10 feet since Avengers #28.

The Crazy Credits tell us that Sam Rosen's lettering is legible. That's what it should be.

X-Men #27

Title: Re-Enter: The Mimic!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Werner Roth

X-Men: Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Mimic

Villain: Puppet Master

Regulars: Professor X, Vera, Zelda

Guests: Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man

Did you notice that I added the Mimic's name to the list of X-Men above? And yet the story starts out with him fighting against them. Have I blundered? Read on!

The story starts with action, with the Mimic defeating Professor X and four of the X-Men in their own school. Then the clock is rolled back to tell us how it came about. At the end of X-Men #19 Professor X removed Calvin Rankin's memory and in the process his mimicking powers. We saw him briefly last issue as Jean Grey's fellow student at Empire State University. Now he's caught in an explosion that makes his memory and his powers return. He asks Professor X if he can join the X-Men, and he's immediately made the group's new leader. Cyclops resigned after accidentally injuring the Angel last issue, but that's still a reckless step for Professor X to take.

Then the Puppet Master takes control of the Mimic, and battle ensues.

On page 15 Roy Thomas invites us to go back and read the first four pages to remind ourselves what happened.

The Crazy Credits tell us that Sam Rosen was the letterer, then adds "Wouldja believe Artie Simek?" Actually, yes, I would have believed it. The writers and artists are more or less consistent from issue to issue, but Sam Rosen and Artie Simek are interchangeable.

Have you noticed that all three of Marvel's super-groups has an enemy who combines all of their powers? The Fantastic Four have the Super-Skrull (last seen in Fantastic Four #32), the Avengers have the Super-Adaptoid (first seen in this month's Tales Of Suspense, and the X-Men have the Mimic.

In this comic there's a slight change in the costumes. The X-Men now wear red belts.

Daredevil #23

Title: DD goes wild!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Masked Marauder, Gladiator, Tri-Man

Regulars: Foggy Nelson, Karen Page

First of all, let me say a word of praise to Gentleman Gene Colan. The artwork in this comic is sheer beauty, especially the last few pages. His artwork is always good, but in this issue he's excelled himself.

After defeating the Tri-Man Daredevil is transported back to the Masked Marauder's lair by his (wrongly named) Levitation Ray. The battle between Daredevil and the Gladiator is evenly matched, so the Masked Marauder uses his Levitation Ray again to send Daredevil and the Gladiator to the arena in a European film set where they're watched by leading members of the Maggia. Don't you just love it that any two-bit villain can invent devices to zap people around the world? Why does anyone bother with airplanes?

Lions are released during the fight and attack the Gladiator. Daredevil defends the Gladiator, after which the Gladiator shows some honour. He refuses to fight with a man who's just saved his life.

Daredevil is left wandering around somewhere in Europe.

Other comics published this month:

Millie the Model #144 (Dennis O'Neil, Stan Goldberg)
Modelling with Millie #52 (Dennis O'Neil, Stan Goldberg)
Patsy and Hedy #109 (Dennis O'Neil, Al Hartley)
Rawhide Kid #55 (Larry Lieber, Larry Lieber)
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #37 (Roy Thomas, Dick Ayers)