Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Deadlines, in-laws, and awards, oh my!

Awww, whaddaya know. Chris over at Comics All Too Real was kind enough to give this blog a “Premio al Esfuerzo Personal" award. In Chris’s words, “The name of this award translates into ‘Personal Effort Award’ but the full meaning in Spanish gets a little lost -- Anyway, it's some sort of meme award intended to highlight those blogs that show a lot of devotion and growth thanks to the effort of their writers.”

Why, THANK YOU, Chris!

Now, ideally, per the award rules, I should turn around and extend the award to my seven favorite blogs, but there are a couple of problems with that.

First of all, Chris has already picked some of my favorites (and, of course, Chris’s own blog is definitely one of my favorites).

Second, I have too many favorites to limit the award to just seven. The blogs I enjoy visiting -– all for various reasons -- are all listed in the right-hand sidebar titled “Other blogs of note -- visit at your own risk.” Though I don’t always leave comments, I visit ALL of these blogs every chance I get -– usually during workdays. If I didn’t enjoy visiting these blogs, I wouldn’t list them, period. I do try to keep the list updated, and I do add new blogs that I like when I find them. And as long as a blog doesn’t go more than two months without a post, once it goes on my list, it’s likely to stay there.

To my mind, all of these bloggers have posted something that deserves a Premio award. And I know there will be more bloggers in the future deserving of the award. Thanks, you guys -- I appreciate ALL of you!

SO, here's yer trophy, everyone!

On that note, it looks like I’m outta here until at least January 2. Year-end publishing deadlines are looming, authors are panicking, and in-laws are threatening to invade my homestead for the holidays. Plus, the in-laws plan to kidnap me, Mr. Sea, and Mighty Mite for a “fun-filled New Year’s Eve” spent in a cabin in Michigan City(?). Uhhhhhh … I think you're gonna owe me BIG for this one, Mr. Sea!!!

(With that in mind -– If a blizzard happens to hit northern Indiana during the holidays, can someone PLEASE scout around Michigan City’s wooded cabins to rescue us before I find an excuse to, er, belittle my brother-in-law? Just look for a blue PT Cruiser with a Green Lantern sticker in the back window. Thanks!)

Happy Holidays, everyone! Be good to yourselves and each other!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The cutest widdle fishies in the whole wide world!

With the passing of our beloved fish, Porthos, the fifty-gallon tank in the living room was looking a bit, well, empty. It was so depressing to see that nice, big, established tank just sitting there with no fishies swimming around in it. Mr. Sea and I decided we couldn't leave it sitting empty for long.

Well, the tank isn't empty anymore! It's now full of the cutest, spunkiest, most active and colorful little fishies you can imagine.

We bought baby fish -- NINE of them -- so that they could grow up and have fun together. They're all sorts of colors -- there's a white one, and a green one, and a couple of yellow ones, and a blue one, and a brown one with leopard spots ... ALL sorts of colors.

And because it's the holidays and there are nine baby fish, we named them after Santa's reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. Isn't that adorable? Awwww, they're so cute -- the names definitely fit them.

Oh, LOOK, here's little Comet, coming to say hello to everyone! Isn't he a sweet little fishy? Say hi to the nice people, Comet!

What kind of fish are they, you ask? Oh, they're Lake Malawi African Cichlids. Aren't they ADORABLE?

Of course, behaviorally, Cichlids DO tend to make Piranhas seem like fluffy bunnies by comparison. And they do tend to be a bit territorial, and they have a nasty habit of digging up plants and any other aquarium decorations. And we can't put other fish in the tank, for fear of the Cichlids completely MURDERING the other fish. Oh, and there's a chance that when the Cichlids grow up, they might beat the living crapola out of each other...

But ... awwwwwwwwwww ... they're such CUTE widdle fishies!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why it sucks to be named "Hal"

“I don't know if Hal is homicidal, suicidal, neurotic, psychotic, or just plain broken.”

No, that line is NOT from a comic book, nor from any other source related to superhero Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan becoming the villain Parallax. It’s actually from the movie 2010: Odyssey Two, in reference to the most famous computer in film history, the HAL 9000 (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer).

However, Hal Jordan and HAL 9000 actually have an AWFUL lot in common:

- After the destruction of Coast City, Hal Jordan rebels against the Green Lantern Corps and tries to force the Guardians of the Universe to give him the power to restore Coast City (Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight).
- After learning that the astronauts aboard spaceship Discovery are thinking about disconnecting him due to a perceived error, HAL 9000 decides to defend himself and his mission by any means necessary (2001: A Space Odyssey).

- Hal Jordan ends up destroying the Green Lantern Corps and murdering all of the Guardians of the Universe, except Ganthet.
- HAL 9000 ends up disabling life support and murdering all of the Discovery astronauts, except David Bowman.

- Hal Jordan’s colleagues assume he’s gone crazy, and do everything necessary to stop him.
- David Bowman assumes HAL 9000 has gone crazy, and does everything necessary to shut him down.

- It later turns out Hal Jordan is innocent, because he’s been infected by an all-powerful alien parasite. He’s eventually redeemed (Green Lantern: Rebirth).
- It later turns out that HAL 9000 is innocent, due to a programming contradiction from White House officials that caused him to become paranoid. He’s eventually redeemed (2010: Odyssey Two).

So, what does all this prove? Probably nothing -- except that in the world of fiction, it really SUCKS to be named Hal.

(Actually, it sucks in the real world, too. Halliburton [NYSE: HAL], anyone?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fare thee well, Porthos


Originally, there were four, just like Alexandre Dumas' Musketeers: d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. They lived together in that 50-gallon tank for nearly a decade, surviving numerous tank cleanings and at least one major move, from Eagle Creek to Meridian Hills. Then d'Artagnan died. Then Athos and Aramis went belly-up in quick succession. Porthos, the largest of the four, survived a couple more years before passing on this week.

It's a general rule of thumb that, the larger the aquarium fish, the longer the life span -- so I suppose it's only fitting that Porthos lived longer than his compatriots. At any rate, a decade is an admirable lifespan for any aquarium fish, even a severum.

Farewell, Porthos du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds. You were a good fish, and we'll miss you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How comic book brawls have changed

Say what you will, but I enjoy a good old-fashioned super-hero brawl. And I DO mean "old-fashioned" because how fights are depicted has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. Take, for example, my (still) favorite Green Lantern brawl of all time, the slugfest between Hal Jordan and Prince Peril from Green Lantern #45 (1966). It starts off with THIS shot to the gut:

Now, that's a hit you don't often see in modern comics, and I think the reason is pretty obvious. It's hard -- VERY hard -- to illustrate that kind of gut shot and make it NOT look, instead, like a shot to the crotch -- or something worse.

Just for the fun of it, here's the REST of the fight. It takes place on a Western movie set (the world's best setting for a brawl, in my humble opinion):











Now, if this fight were to occur in a MODERN comic, there would be quite a few differences. Chief among them:

1. This fight would have occurred over MOST of the comic book issue. As it is, it actually happened in less than three pages.

2. There would be blood EVERYWHERE, and Hal's costume would be torn in at least five places, including at least one arm, one leg, and one tear across the chest. There might even be a broken bone or two.

3. There would be a LOT more banter between Hal and Peril.

4. There would be far fewer drawings of Hal's beautiful backside!

Monday, December 8, 2008

When the party's over ...

Georgette's wedding went off without a hitch -- well, without TOO many hitches -- on Saturday. Aside, of course, from the wedding starting late due to SNOW, and the reception starting an hour late because the photographer was a slowpoke. OH, and Mighty Mite crying and screaming bloody murder when the pianist started up on a song halfway through the service. (I didn't think the pianist was THAT bad, but Mighty Mite IS a very sensitive little baby.)

Awwww, but it was a lovely wedding. It really was. Georgette picked an absolutely stunning wedding dress -- one of the best I've seen, definitely. Since the wedding was in December, she went with a holiday theme for the dresses and decorations, and everything looked gorgeous. And though she wasn't that well-behaved during the service itself, Mighty Mite had a GREAT time at the reception. There were some pretty decent DJs playing good party music, and Mighty Mite spent most of her time on the dance floor. The little baby LOVES to dance! Or, at least, she likes to be carried around a dance floor while OTHER people are dancing. She was having a GREAT time. The little party animal. People kept coming up to me and saying, "Wow, what a good baby! She's really having fun, isn't she?"

So, overall, GOOD wedding. Hey, any wedding that doesn't get interrupted by a distraught spaceknight has GOT to be good.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goin' to the chapel ...

Tomorrow, a very good friend of the family, Georgette, is getting married. She asked me a while back to be her Matron of Honor (Mr. Sea is also participating, as one of the groom's men), which was an admirably brave move on her part because she's known for years that I am NOT a fan of big wedding ceremonies. She IS my friend, so I'm honoring her wishes -- and, by gosh, I made SURE she got hers at her bachelorette party.

The bachelorette party was held at a comedy club. I met with the comedians beforehand to give them enough details to single out Georgette. Ooooh, BOY, did they roast her good. I felt truly vindicated when she turned to me and yelled, "I'm gonna get you for this!"

To give Georgette some credit, she DID tell me and the other bridesmaids that we were allowed to pick out our own dresses -- as long as they were all from the same maker and were all the same color ("Apple Red"). I found a dress that isn't too bad, though I have no intention of keeping the thing after the ceremony, especially since I can't bend over in it to save my life. It seems like ALL bridesmaid dresses are designed like straightjackets, sewn together in such a way that the wearer's movements are impeded SOMEhow, SOMEway.

Mr. Sea, of course, has to wear a tuxedo. We were both kind of excited about this, because I'd never seen Mr. Sea in a tux before (he got married in a suit). Last night, we picked up the tux, and we were both disappointed when he tried it on, because it looks like ... well ... a suit. The tux style in question looks like just a normal, boring suit. It's what the groom picked out, though, so whatever makes him happy ... *Sigh.*

As I mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of weddings -- but that's just me. My problem is that I've witnessed far too many instances where people placed more importance on having a big, fancy, fairy-tale wedding than on the marriage itself. This attitude of mine caused a bit of a problem when Mr. Sea and I decided to get married: He wanted a big wedding; I wanted to ELOPE. We compromised by having a very small ceremony with only our immediate family members and our grandparents in attendance. We held the ceremony outdoors in the (then new) Fishers, Indiana town square gazebo, with a minister friend of Mr. Sea's family presiding. Mr. Sea wore his best suit, and I wore a lacy sundress. Once the ceremony was done, members of the Fishers fire department (who were watching the show; the fire station is right across from the gazebo, after all) rang their bells, then the families retired to a local restaurant to eat, drink, and be merry. Totally stress-free wedding ceremony.

THEN Mr. Sea and I left to go whitewater rafting -- giving new meaning to "'Til death do us part," baby! WOO HOO!

After our trip, Mr. Sea and I threw a huge party for the rest of our family and friends. Nice and casual, and everyone had a good time.

(Hey, we're still married fourteen years later, so I reckon we've done SOMETHING right.)

Two weeks ago, Georgette told me, "I wish now I'd gotten married the way YOU guys did! I just want this to be OVER!" The poor girl. However, tomorrow's the big day, so it will all be over soon enough.

Mighty Mite will be attending the wedding, too. She has a cute little dress to wear, and she'll be sitting in the back of the church with her uncle George. I'm a bit worried, though, because she's been getting better and better at forming sounds that resemble real words, and lately her favorite thing to say -- nay, YELL -- has been "HeckYeah!" At least, that's what it sounds like: "HeckYeah!" I have no idea where she picked it up, but she really gets into yelling it. She bunches her hands up into little fists, arches her back, gets a big grin on her face, and belts it out: "HeckYeah!"

I can just imagine how the ceremony is going to go tomorrow.

Minister: "If anyone present feels that there's a reason why this man and this woman shouldn't be joined together in holy matrimony--"

Mighty Mite: "HeckYeah!"

Minister: "--let him speak now--"

Mighty Mite: "HeckYeah!"

Minister: "--or forever hold--"

Mighty Mite (as Uncle George is rushing out of the church with her): "HeckYeah! HeckYeah! HeckYeah!"

I KNOW it's going to happen. I just KNOW it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gregory Smith as Hal Jordan?

The latest Green Lantern movie casting rumor involves THIS guy, actor Gregory Smith:

Gregory Smith is an American/Canadian actor perhaps best known for playing Ephram Brown on the TV show Everwood. Like Christian (Batman) Bale, he's a former child actor who's gone on to do quite well for himself as an adult actor.

Gregory Smith as Hal Jordan, huh? Well, I admit that he's cute -- but, GEEZ, he still looks so YOUNG to me, and still a bit baby-faced. I always imagined Hal as looking a bit more rugged, and like he was in his mid-30s. (The average age of most "new" test pilots is allegedly between 32 and 35.)

One interesting note about Gregory Smith, though -- He currently holds the record for the LONGEST on-screen kiss in American cinema history: 5 minutes 57 seconds, in the movie Kids in America (2005), over the film's closing credits.

Hmmmmmmmm ...!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ten Green Lantern stories fans would like to forget

All Green Lantern fans have at least one story they absolutely loathe. However, fans rarely agree with one another. Some hate everything to do with Parallax, while others think Parallax is one of the best things to ever happen to Green Lantern. Some readers also dismiss the entire Silver Age as silly, while others find it naively charming. And, for many Green Lantern fans, don’t even MENTION Hal Jordan as the Spectre, or the death of Katma Tui, or the Millenium-related stories. The list of potential "Worst Ever Green-Lantern Stories" goes on and on.

However, there are a few Green Lantern stories that most fans agree they'd certainly like to forget. Here they are, not necessarily in any particular order:

1. Hal Jordan on Oprah. In need of a public relations overhaul, Hal (as Green Lantern) agrees to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show after being nudged into doing so by Arisia. When Hal shows up on the show, Oprah and her audience start laughing at the notion that Hal is completely fearless. They claim that no man -- not even Hal -- can be without fear unless there's something seriously wrong with him. By the end of his appearance on the show, Hal actually begins to believe Oprah's audience and doubt himself. (Action Comics Weekly #608-609, 1988)

2. Arisia: “I’m just a kid!” One of the most controversial plotlines in Green Lantern history involves the alien Arisia. She starts off in the comics as a 13-year-old girl who causes herself to artificially mature due to her infatuation with Hal Jordan -- and Hal ends up reciprocating her affections. Though the storyline has been retconned to make it appear that Arisia is, in fact, older than Hal due to her home planet’s orbit, the controversy has yet to fade away. By far the most uncomfortable reminder of Arisia’s history involves Hal showing a group of Green Lantern rookies Arisia’s story in the book of Oa. Hal accidentally and PUBLICLY stumbles across the fact that, after breaking up with him, Arisia went a bit off the deep end due to their inappropriate relationship -- and due to getting konked in the head. (Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #1, 1992)

3. Coast City’s just been blown up, but Carol needs help with a family crisis. This is a story that even DC seems to be trying to forget ever happened. Immediately after Superman’s resurrection and the destruction of Coast City, Hal finds out that Carol Ferris is still alive. He’s completely overjoyed -- until Carol informs him that Tom Kalmaku and Green Arrow are missing, due to a weird personal problem involving Carol’s parents. Hal (who is still very beat up from his earlier encounter with Mongul) manages to find Ollie and Tom, and then Green Lantern and Green Arrow team up to take care of Carol’s little mess. The best thing about the story is that, for the very first time, Hal manages to intimidate the hell out of Ollie. In the very next issue, Hal begins his rampage toward Oa and toward becoming Parallax. (Green Lantern #47, 1993)

4. Hal Jordan and Kari Limbo at the alter. Upon the apparent demise of Guy Gardner, Hal goes to inform Guy’s fortune-teller girlfriend, Kari Limbo, of the tragedy. Not only do Hal and Kari strike up a relationship, Hal actually, eventually proposes marriage to Kari. When the two show up at the alter, though, the wedding is interrupted by Superman and by a problem involving the Phantom Zone. It turns out that, instead of being dead, Guy is trapped in the Phantom Zone. Hal helps to free him, and then Kari immediately calls off the wedding, claiming she always loved Guy more than Hal, anyway. (Green Lantern-Green Arrow #122, 1979)

5. Hal’s lobotomy. Worried after his encounter with Oprah Winfrey (see #1 on this list), Hal consults his ring regarding his fearlessness. Hal is informed that he’s fearless because the ring messed with his brain to MAKE him fearless when he first became Green Lantern. Horrified that his ring essentially lobotomized him, Hal orders it to switch his brain back to the way it was before. The ring does so -- and Hal turns out to be afraid of heights. (Action Comics Weekly #614, 1988)

6. Hippies and Shakespeare. After dousing himself (intentionally) with swimming pool water at a party, Green Lantern proceeds to do even more strange -- and downright goofy -- things, causing the Guardians to take his ring away from him. Green Lantern then becomes a distraught, unshaven bum who is taken in by a group of sympathetic hippies. He eventually learns he was duped (the pool water was contaminated) and manipulated by a gang of thugs led by Hector Hammond. Hal tracks the thugs to a theater where, still ringless, he manages to subdue them -- all the while reciting lines from Shakespeare. The Guardians then praise Hal for overcoming his problems and give him his ring back. (Green Lantern #64, 1968)

7. Ch’P becomes roadkill. Ch’P, an alien Green Lantern who resembles a squirrel or raccoon (depending on who's drawing him) actually has his life ended by being run over by a truck. (Green Lantern: Mosaic #2, 1992)

8. Itty kicks the bucket. Hal Jordan, for a time, has an alien companion called Itty. Itty (which initially appears semi-sentient and mute) resembles a small starfish (no relation to Starro) that travels around on Hal’s shoulder. Itty stops moving one day, and Hal determines the little creature must be dead. Itty is then given a funeral and buried in a rather large grave, complete with tombstone. Not long after Itty’s funeral, a huge, nasty, blobby monster appears. It destroys buildings and kills people by sucking the calcium out of them. Eventually, Hal figures out that the monster is actually Itty. Itty, it seems, has matured to a new form and needs the calcium to mature even further. After Itty tries to eat Green Arrow, Hal gives Itty all the calcium it wants, after which Itty reaches full maturity and leaves Earth. (Green Lantern-Green Arrow #104-106, 1978)

9. My, those Ungarans are a paranoid bunch. Out in space, Hal spots a big yellow comet headed toward Ungara, homeworld of his predecessor, Abin Sur. Hal wants to move the planet out of the comet’s way, and decides to warn the Ungarans before doing so. However, Hal has never visited Ungara before, and the Ungarans have no idea that Abin Sur is dead. When Hal tries to warn the Ungarans of the comet (which they can’t see because their moon is blocking the way), they immediately accuse Hal of MURDERING Abin Sur and stealing his ring and costume. The Ungarans attack Hal and beat him to a pulp -- and instantly regret doing so when the comet flies into view. Despite being beat up, Hal manages to save the extremely apologetic Ungarans by using their moon to smack the comet away from the planet -- all without somehow disastrously affecting the planet’s gravity. Hal then heads back to Earth to brag about his achievement to Green Arrow, Black Canary and Airwave, all of whom are preparing to take commercial flights home IN COSTUME -- despite the fact that Hal can fly them all home easily, and Airwave is perfectly capable of flying on his own. (Green Lantern-Green Arrow #107, 1978)

10. Superman was Abin Sur’s first pick. When Hal is dealt a potentially fatal blow, he attempts to do what his predecessor, Abin Sur, did and hand his power ring to his successor in person. To Hal’s surprise, not only does he find out that Superman was Abin Sur’s first pick (Abin Sur decides he wants an Earth man instead, and Superman recommends Hal), his ring summons a WHOLE BUNCH of potential Green Lantern candidates -- all proving that there was actually nothing terribly special about Hal being picked as a Green Lantern. Included amongst the ring’s picks are Dick Grayson and (for some reason) Guy Gardner (who already IS a Green Lantern). Luckily for Hal, he manages to stay alive and keep his ring. (Action Comics Weekly #642, 1989)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

DC story mode video clips: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

I swear, video games are becoming more and more like interactive movies.

Following up on my earlier review of this game, here are video clips, in order, from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe's DC story mode -- for anyone who has a LOT of time to kill. Each segment showcases a different character and includes SOME fighting video. (The Green Lantern segment, in particular, always cracks me up thanks to Luthor getting snarky with Hal. Plus the Guardians give Hal the good ol' "The-universe-is-falling-apart-but-we-can't-spare-any-more-Corps-members-to-help-you're-on-your-own-sucker" excuse. Hee, hee!)

Note: The Mortal Kombat side of the story covers things from, of course, the Mortal Kombat point of view. Plot holes that exist in the DC side of the story are filled in by the Mortal Kombat side.

The Flash:


Batman:


Wonder Woman:


Green Lantern:


Captain Marvel:


The Joker:


Lex Luthor:


Superman:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: A DC fan's perspective


I'm not ashamed to admit that, though we had our regular football crowd over for Thanksgiving, we ended up watching hardly any football at all. Nope, we devoted our time, instead, to beating the virtual crapola out of each other via the surprisingly fun video game, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

Now, here's gaming, in general, from my point of view: For the most part, I'm just a typical, run-of-the-mill fortyish female who likes to play a few video games. (Yeah, how many of THOSE are out there, huh?) Though I do play video games on a fairly regular basis and am the proud owner of a PlayStation Portable (PSP -- my current favorite game system), I am by no means a video game expert or aficionado. My experience with playing video games DOES go ALL the WAY back to the original Atari game system, and over the years has included various computer games (Mac AND PC platforms), a SuperNintendo system, and every PlayStation system you can think of. (Yes, I've tried the Wii, and it's okay, but I'm too much of a graphics snob to fully appreciate it.) I tend to prefer Playstations due to their versatility. And online games -- forget it. I'm way too busy for that sort of thing.

I'm also usually not a huge fan of Mortal Kombat or rockem'-sockem' "pound-your-opponent-into-oblivion" games. Admittedly, the sole reason I acquired Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is because I'm a DC fan who wanted to see how some of my favorite characters fared in this game. So, my report here is strictly from the DC fan side (sorry, Mortal Kombat fans), for the PS3 version of the game:

Games, modes, settings, arenas

This game can be played in several ways. First, there's the good ol' arcade mode (1- and 2-player), whereby you match up characters to fight each other, from an all-Mortal Kombat perspective, or an all-DC perspective, or a nice mix of the two. The gameplay is pretty much akin to classic Mortal Kombat gameplay, complete with combos you can perform to finish off your opponents in truly gruesome ways. (Ridiculously enough, though the Mortal Kombat characters and DC villains are allowed to finish off their opponents with fatalities, the DC heroes instead finish off their opponents with what are called "heroic brutalities" -- most which WOULD be fatal, anyway.)

There's also story mode (1-player only), which involves a plot you can follow, from either the DC perspective or the Mortal Kombat perspective. The game presents players with a story that would have been perfectly at home in an old JLA comic, whereby a cosmic accident has caused the Mortal Kombat and DC universes to start merging (messily) with each other. Heroes and villains on both sides battle each other (and battle against being mentally controlled by an outside force) to save their respective universes. Magic is involved, which explains why some characters (like the Joker) are better at hand-to-hand combat than usual, and why Superman doesn't just wade in and clean house for everyone else. Hey, it IS an awfully convenient and stereotypical setup -- but for the purposes of the game, it works.

Kombo mode allows you to test and refine button combinations to get the characters to do certain moves. It's handy if you want to learn how to do fatalities and heroic brutalities.

Then there's practice mode, where you can also totally disregard the arcade setup and the plot, and just set specific characters against each other. THAT's a helluva lot of fun, especially in 2-player mode.

All game modes can be played from a Very Easy setting to a Very Hard setting.

NOTE: The game is a total thumb-killer, so be prepared to nurse some bruised thumbs after playing for a while.

Background settings/arenas are a nice mix of Mortal Kombat and DC locations. Locations from the DC side include Metropolis, Gotham City, Themyscira, Oa, the Rock of Eternity, the Batcave, the JLA/U.N. satellite, and Darkseid's palace. Oa is a lot of fun. Not only do three Guardians make an appearance (and Ganthet gets a small speaking role), the Book of Oa is featured prominently in one room. Overall, the graphics are nice. I give 'em an 8 out of 10.

Who's who from the DCU

The DC characters in this game are obviously based on Alex Ross's designs, which translate VERY well to computer graphics. Included in the DC lineup are:

HEROES: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain (Shazam!) Marvel, Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan, and Barry (The Flash) Allen. (Yes, that's right -- BARRY, in a spiffy new variation of his old uniform -- NOT Wally.)

VILLAINS: Lex Luthor (in battle armor), Catwoman, The Joker, and Deathstroke. Darkseid is also available as an unlockable character.

The heroes' costumes in most instances have been redesigned slightly to make them more armored. Hal's costume is probably the most altered. It took me a while to get used to it, but once I did I decided it's actually a nice design, one that would probably look good in a live-action film.

The women in the game (Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and the two Mortal Kombat chicks) are definitely evidence that the designers and animators are probably heterosexual males. All four women are as well-endowed as Power Girl, and I kid you not, they jiggle when they walk. Not only that, Catwoman has a ridiculous amount of cleavage.

(In one scenario, we pitted Catwoman against Hal Jordan, and I swear he was staring at her cleavage the entire time. It's probably why she tried so hard to beat the crap out of him. Zip up your suit, girl!)

In all fairness, though, Hal Jordan is designed (as he should be) with an absolutely FABULOUS backside -- definitely the best in the game. And there is one very-well-built Mortal Kombat character (who looks kinda like a VERY young Jackie Chan) who runs around completely shirtless.

The voices in story mode are okay, except I really don't like Hal's voice. I can't help thinking he and Captain Marvel need to trade voices. Catwoman also sounds a bit too "slinky." She sounds like the voice actress tried very hard to imitate Eartha Kitt -- and failed miserably.

Behaviorally, for the most part, the characters are VERY much in character. Luther is appropriately arrogant and snarky; Wonder Woman is regal and compassionate -- even when she's trying to beat the crap out of someone; when Batman loses a fight, he never REALLY loses; etc., etc.

In my opinion, the best character in the game (story mode) is the Joker. I swear, the voice actor was channeling Mark Hamill from Batman: The Animated Series. Throughout the game, the Joker proves once again that he's the world's most entertaining (fictional) homicidal maniac, at one point even throwing in a Willian Shatner imitation. That, and Deathstroke is a perfect straight man for the Joker. OMG, they're hysterical together -- the Joker and Deathstroke should be TEAMED UP MORE OFTEN! Are you paying attention, DC?

Fighting styles and damage

Aside from the oddity of seeing all the DC characters following the Mortal Kombat mantra of engaging in kung fu (which works fine for Deathstroke; not so much for Superman), the designers did a great job of tailoring appropriate fighting styles to each character. Superman, for example, delivers truly ponderous punches, Deathstroke is a weapons marvel, and Green Lantern relies primarily on his ring. Hal, in fact, has THE best long-range attack in the game, involving a giant green sledge hammer (and, yes, the big green boxing glove is also an attack option).

(In the aforementioned fight between Catwoman and Hal Jordan, Catwoman surprised us with one manuever in which she wrapped her legs around Hal's waist and then started clawing at his face. It was pretty funny, actually. There were a lot of jokes along the lines of, "That's right, baby -- treat me rough!")

Upon playing the game for the first time in story mode, the scariest damn thing in the game, to me, was Captain Marvel. Holy moly, he is intimidating in battle, even moreso than Superman!

However, after playing the game a bit longer, and playing in the various other modes, it became clear that there's another character in the game even more intimidating than Captain Marvel. Believe it or not, that character is the FLASH. The Flash uses super speed, all right, and when he gets going on a series of super-speed attack combinations, it becomes darned near IMPOSSIBLE to break free from him long enough to get a punch in edgewise.

Yes, you can have the heroes fight the villains -- BUT you can also have villains fight villains, and HEROES fight HEROES. And -- oh, my -- talk about some nasty battles! As I mentioned earlier, the game doesn't allow the heroes to actually kill their opponents (though the villains are certainly allowed some kills in arcade mode) -- but just HOW the heroes manage to avoid killing anyone is beyond me, because these fights are NOT NICE.

During battles, blood gets spilled (though this is a game function that can be switched off), costumes get torn, and faces get covered with cuts and bruises. (This game is definitely NOT for the squeamish.) In one scenario, we pitted Green Lantern against the Flash. After a VERY long fight (almost an hour, folks), Hal's costume sported a few tears but was essentially intact, whereas BARRY's costume looked like it was about to fall off of him. Characters can also punch each other through buildings (and a series of walls). They can also punch each other off of cliffs and balconies and engage in free-fall -- and you can make them beat the crap out of each other in the air on the way down!

In other words, the game gives a rather unrelenting view of just HOW MUCH these characters really can hurt each other when engaged in a total slugfest.

My only real complaint is that, with the exception of Superman, characters who can usually fly (Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, etc.) really aren't given options to do so. That was kind of a bummer.

All in all, though, for me it was a ridiculously fun game -- so much fun that I didn't even mind seeing personal favorite Hal Jordan get the stuffing beat out of him. Other players visiting during Thanksgiving also greatly enjoyed it, even those who didn't know a thing about either the Mortal Kombat OR DC characters. I definitely enjoyed it better than the previous DC character group game, Justice League Heroes. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is definitely recommended if you like this sort of fighting game.

Now, if only someone would do a Marvel vs. DC game like this ...!