Thor w/ RiffTrax Audio (PG-13)

Well, I guess I got more out of this than a lot of good laughs. Last year I expressed confusion as to why Loki realized he was a Frost Giant. Well, the movie actually does explain that, it's just that the scene was so damn dark I couldn't tell what was going on when I first saw it - I thought Loki was just getting frostbitten like the Gimli Son of Gloin guy, and quickly forgot about it.

Oh, and more Avengers references ahoy. There was a reference to a scientist who dealt with gamma radiation, and I guess the sniper from Thor's raid on the SHIELD camp was supposed to be Hawkeye?


The Incredible Hulk - Merged Hulk Era

Why, speak of the devil. For those who don't know the Hulk outside of recent movies and only know him as that guy who gets big and green when he gets mad, back in the 90s Marvel had the Savage and Gray Hulks declare a truce and recombined with Bruce, turning him into a being with his own intelligence, the Savage Hulk's strength (and then some), and the Gray Hulk's bravado. Or at least that's what I gather was the original intent before Marvel retconned the Merged Hulk into another split personality. As of writing this, I haven't read all the issues dealing with the Merged Hulk - I'm missing the Troyjan War and the Future Imperfect two-parter, but for the most part I've read everything from the merger to the bachelor party.

In a lot of ways it felt like Ultraverse Prime with an adult. Both series are from the same decade, and there's even a parallel where Savage Hulk and Classic Prime were children, Gray Hulk and Rogue Prime were teenagers from hell, and Merged Hulk and Final Prime are adult fusions of the two that have more in common with the original transformation. Some say the Merged Hulk completely missed the point of the character, which I don't really have a position on because I don't care to read the rest of the Hulk comics, although if Doc Samson's report/series summary at the end of issue #393 is any indication (or this fucking thing I found while writing this) the merger was hardly the stupidest thing done to the Hulk mythos. But as an isolated story it has a lot going for it.

If Prime was a kid in the body of an adult who had to deal with situations he didn't have the mental maturity to handle, the Merged Hulk is a human in the body of a (pseudo-)monster trying to atone for his past crimes and do his best for the world even while said world continues to give him shit. So you get your fix of the Hulk smashing things but with some sort of intelligence, whether he's smashing the giant mechs of a corrupt dictator he's trying to bring to justice, or duking it out with Captain America in a battle of lawful good versus neutral good (I'm not sure where Doc Samson plays into that - lawful neutral, maybe?). Or how in one issue the Hulk is able to send a supervillain flying with one punch even after having most of his flesh blown off and then fully recover within seconds, then a couple issues hater he's far more deeply wounded when Betty thinks he hates her. Granted, the only parts of Superman III I could even tolerate were the parts with Lana Lang, so maybe I'm just more interested in watching how a superhuman has relationships with people he could snap in half with his pinkie finger than punching people on his own level.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into this and injecting too many of my own ideas.

But the Professor retcon and to a lesser extent the aforementioned clusterfuck of a series summary illustrate another problem I have with long running comic books. Somebody spends years developing a story, but then a new editor or writer takes over and tears everything down either to return it to the "good old days" or for the sake of keeping the book running (*cough*). Worst case scenario, it undermines the previous author's work. Bruce's pain over Betty's fear of him and their reconciliation, his revenge trip on Igor (the guy who let the gamma bomb go off and turn him into the Hulk), and his value for human life despite considering them puny kind of lose something if it wasn't really Bruce behind all that, but an alternate Hulk who everyone, including himself, only thought was Bruce. And if you're going to put a character through an endless cycle of screwing up his life, resolving it, then whipping it all away from him, there gets to be a point where you're just torturing him.

During this time, Bruce links up with a group of superheroes called the Pantheon, who take their names from various characters in the Iliad. This group strikes me as an idea Marvel came up with but felt wouldn't hold up on its own, so they threw in the Hulk to attract readers, Godzilla vs. Megalon style. They're not bad characters and they have their moments, like in the Punisher crossover and when Ajax loses his shit and Bruce has to subdue him using both his monstrosity and humanity. But most of the time the Hulk just sticks out like a big green tomato in a radish patch when he's around them.

There are a few other rough spots. For one, the books are from the 1990s and there's a few things that didn't age well like Rick's mullet in the Dale Keown issues and Totally-Not-Saddam-Hussein. The two issues with "Young Hitler" were also rather lame due to the writing HULK SMASHing all subtlety and the utterly retarded revelation at the end. There's also some grating attempts to be "hip" and the Hulk saying things that seem really out of character for a nuclear physicist - if I wanted to read a comic where the character makes ridiculous wisecracks all the time, I'd read Spider-Man. There's also the occasional head scratcher, like when Hulk responds to Igor saying he "isn't human" by asking why he'd want to be human but continues to thrash him around for taking away his chance at a normal life. Or when Marlo's brothers go to the police to get custody of her after Rick kicked their asses as blew off their lawyer, but the chief says he won't use violence to get Marlo because Rick's a celebrity and there'd be a media shitstorm, when if I were the chief I'd be more concerned about the fact Rick's best friend can uppercut a tank. But I always appreciate a story that can alternate between having action, having heart, and having fun (*NSFW*).

And this is way off topic, but I hope this was a really bad attempt at trolling. Or else somebody needs to go back in time and ask that guy to consider that when he's preparing to send a homophobic hate speech to a fan mail column if that's something he'll be proud to show his offspring, or the possibility that people twenty years in the future are going to be reading it and telling him to go eat a dick.


Fortix (PC)

It's Qix with a medieval coat of paint. Aside from being ridiculously short (you can beat a difficulty level in about an hour), I found it way too easy to beat every level but rapidly carving out small chunks in a line, which admittedly isn't great for your score, but I don't care about score. I guess I had the same attitude towards HOARD, huh?


RiffTrax Live: House on Haunted Hill

A lot better than the Reefer Madness live showing, I'll say that at least. No stupid cartoons or badly flubbed lines, although I really did not care for that guy in the purple suit who joined in the Paper and I short. His little story leading up to the short was okay, but when he actually joined the riffing, his lines were overacted to the point of irritating, or maybe I've just gotten too used to the deliveries from the non-live version after watching it on the Hand-Crafted Artisinal Shorts collection about fifty times. Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with me either.

I actually watched this twice and enjoyed it more the second time. I guess I tend to pay more attention to the movie than the jokes the first time I watch these.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince w/ RiffTrax Audio (PG-13)

A real problem with the Harry Potter movies, aside from being insanely boring, is they make no damn sense if you haven't read the books. For example, the Half-Blood Prince movie gave no indicator of what the thing Harry shoved down Ron's throat when he'd been poisoned was or how he knew to use it (or if it did, it was in a montage that came and went too quickly for anybody to catch), or why Snape called himself the "Half-Blood Prince", and the movie tried to fill a plot hole from the book by digging out another, even larger one. In the book, Dumbledore had Harry get Slughorn's memory of when he told Voldemort about Horcruxes, which raised the question of why Dumbledore needed if he already knew Voldemort was using Horcruxes (if it was explained, I forget, and it was probably BS anyway). So here Dumbledore needs Harry to get the memory to learn about Horcruxes, which in turn raises the question of how Dumbledore had already figured out the book and ring were Voldemort's Horcruxes and why he'd been looking for more when he'd only just learned about them.

But as with the rest of the Harry Potter films, it's great RiffTrax fodder. Best line of the film?

Snape: You'd use my own spells against me, Potter?
Kevin: Well, it worked on Metal Man in Mega Man 2.