Sunday, 24 June 2012

Astonishing X-Men 51: Attack of the Stunt Wedding

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Penciller: Mike Perkins

Welcome to the Mighty World of Marvel Marketing! Yes! It’s the stunt of the summer – token gay X-Man Northstar marries his bland boyfriend Kyle. A gay marriage and a mixed race one too boot! How’s that for a right-on two-for-one?

The issue isn’t actually very good. It kicks off with suddenly villainised X-Man Karma causing trouble. She’s possessed Boring Kyle and is using him to try to shoot Northstar in the head! With a gun! Isn’t this a bit silly? Northstar is described as the world’s fastest man (what happened to Quicksilver?) several times this issue and in typical comic book style he could have outraced any bullet en route to his skull, right?

Be that as it may Kyle doesn’t blow Northstar’s brains out and Karma runs off leaving them to plan their wedding. Normally when a superhero goes evil their pals want to get to the bottom of it – not in this case though, they all want to get pissed for free in Central Park instead.
 
The ‘ceremony’ is where writer Marjorie Liu really drives this bus off the road of Snooze and into the ditch of Cringe. It’s a gay wedding so a guest needs to get their knickers in a twist to Make The Point – but who? Presumably the various writers in the X-Office don’t want their characters to be thought of as homophobes – so it’s left to new addition Warbird (an alien) to say she’s not going. Is anyone bothered?

The vows will have any sane adult reaching for the sick bucket. It’s as if the dialogue has come straight from a daytime sitcom. Who the hell would ever come out with this sort of cobblers? Does Liu also earn a crust as a romance novelist? If not she should look into it…

Meanwhile penciller Mike Perkins seems to have problems drawing faces. Is Northstar having the happiest moment of his life? Or a stroke?

The problem with this entire set-up is that Northstar’s role as the Token Gay X-Man requires him to be lumbered with a useless love interest – for how else are we to be reminded he’s gay every issue? In the olden day this wouldn’t be a problem – in the 80s every super-team had a large ‘civilian’ supporting cast – but in the era of Decompressed Storytelling (ie Nothing Happening with fewer characters) Kyle’s presence seems patronising.

His only purpose here is to be gay. We’re reading a gay storyline! Marvel supports gay weddings! Get The Point?

Contrast Boring Kyle with Striker in Avengers Academy. Striker’s sexuality is neatly written into the general soap opera of the comic. That’s the way to do it – by writing a character that’s more than just a one-note box ticker.

Ultimately this was a twee, quite cringey issue which only works as a marketing stunt. Kyle has got ‘canon fodder’ written all over him – it’s just a question of how long he’ll last. Any bets??

Sunday, 9 October 2011

"Exciting" New Looks: Supergirl

Supergirl 1
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Penciller: Mahmud Asrar

DC binned off the top work Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle did with Supergirl (turning her from a typical comics sassy-megabrat into a well rounded character) to make room for this relaunch. A rather hasty relaunch too considering Brian Wood was supposed to write this series until he was given the elbow at the last minute.

What a scandal! I like his work on Northlanders and recently read his New York Five collection. He’d have been perfect on Supergirl! But no! Instead we’ve got Michael Green and Mike Johnson (never heard of them) running the show.

Essentially this is a 20 page fight scene which covers the following amount of plot: Supergirl crashes to Earth. She doesn’t know why.

Thenceforth she fights blokes in giant robot armour and Superman turns up in his crap new costume. The End.

Presumably we’re supposed to be ‘intrigued’ by the ‘mystery’ as to Who She Is. Unfortunately this was the exact same set-up with the last Kara Zor-El reboot in Superman/ Batman and the first year or so of her last title (which was pretty crap until Sterling Gates took over.) So it’s the same old, same old.

In typical reboot / retcon / same old story tradition it looks like the ‘action’ is going to unfold at a typically decompressed / glacial pace. Maybe we’ll find out ‘who she is’ by issue 12. Perhaps she’ll get a secret identity / something to do around issue 36. If we’re lucky Streaky the Supercat will re-debut somewhere around 2028.

If that wasn’t enough to put me off the horrific new costume’s proved a clincher.

Behold:
The over-fussy collar has the meddling fingerprints of Jim Lee all over it. As for the lower half…would either Lee or penciller Mahmud Asrar be prepared to take responsibility for that?

Comic book heroines typically have more skin on show than their male counterparts but I’ve never seen a superheroine outfit which puts so much ‘crotch cleavage’ on display.

From the splash panel it looks like Supergirl is wearing a top with a shield-thing over her genitals. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this look doesn’t take off in cosplay competitions…

Asrar’s depiction of the costume in action sequences is similarly ludicrous. She’s almost falling out of it in this explosion:

And the ‘get up’ doesn’t look practical to run in here:


I Tweeted Asrar to say ‘Supergirl’s got a bit of a camel toe problem hasn’t she?’ He, flying in the face of the evidence, Tweeted back ‘No.’

Look at the facts!!! This is the equivalent of having Superboy scamper around with his testicles dropping out of his shorts. RIDICULOUS!!

Admittedly it makes a change from the sort of boob-centric depictions of superheroines we typically see but it’s completely unnecessary. Why can’t she just wear a pair of knickers that fit her?? How about that? Why do superheroines always have to wear something preposterously low or high cut? Or is this another part of DC’s strategy to appeal exclusively to 12 to 14 year old boys and piss everyone else off?

I won’t be buying Supergirl 2 because I’ve got enough sources of irritation in my life without paying £2.30 to be confronted with more of Asrar’s eyewatering camel-toe costumery.

It’s a shame because he’s a good storyteller and the rest of the issue looked great.

That’s me finished with this for the time being. Let me know when she puts some pants on.

On a chirpier note here are two of her previous classic looks. I actually like her 1980s hairband outfit! And here she is wearing it for the first time in the final panel of Supergirl 17 – which seems to be shoe-horned in to match the costume that was being screentested in the Helen Slater film and was later ditched.

The hotpants look is also a favourite! The choker, puffy sleeves, neckline and small S logo was a bit ‘busy’ but Curt Swan always made it look good. And here it is in the first Supergirl story I ever read – ‘When Kryptonians Clash’ from Superman 365. Did the world ever ‘shower her with the credit she always deserved?’ No.

Starfire: Alien Sex Fiend

Redhood and the Outlaws 1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciller: Kennth Rocafort

As we all know by now Starfire, a character who has been around for 30 years in various incarnations, has been rebooted in DC’s “new 52” as an amnesiac sex addict – happy to shag both male protagonists in her new team book, Red Hood and The Outlaws, while posing in ridiculous lads-mag-photoshoot-esque compositions.

There’s been a lot of commentary on this. From Laura Hudson’s thoughtful piece for Comics Alliance, to a 7 year girl’s assessment on io9. John Siuntres mulled it over on Word Balloon with Newsarama’s Vaneta Rogers recently and completely missed the point. They accused readers who didn’t like Starfire’s radical overhaul of ‘fangirlism’ or ‘character ownership.’ Rogers suggested the response from appalled readers was “what have they done to my character?”

Unconvincing! Because surely the response was actually: “Are DC really producing a comic book where the heroine is a mentally handicapped megaboobed sex toy??!!”

I’m amazed there is any confusion about this – people are appalled, by and large, because this Starfire reboot is in outrageously juvenile bad taste.

In the unlikely case you’ve missed it here’s what the fuss is about:


To some extent Starfire’s always been portrayed as flesh-flashing fantasy figure for adolescent boys. However there’s a huge distance between the kind of art found in New Teen Titans in the 1980s (below, the first page of the Judas Contract) and the set-up in Red Hood.

What might this modern day Mona Lisa by thinking as rendered by George Perez? Perhaps ‘Yoo hoo! Look at my ginormous knockers clanging together in the breeze!’ What’s on her mind in Red Hood and the Outsiders? This: ‘……..’

In Red Hood Scott Lobdell has reduced her to the status of a fleshy sex toy. According to the dialogue she’s easily manipulated (she doesn’t even decide to take part in the ‘mission’ which kicks this farce off, Red Hood lures her into it – which he boasts about later to Arsenal) she can’t remember anything and she will have sex with any man standing around in the general vicinity.

Presumably Lobdell is pitching this nonsense to young teenage readers who don’t know any better? Worryingly, Lobdell said in an interview that the page of Starfire posing in her bikini was his favourite in the while issue.

Lobdell: “Kori stepping out of the ocean, just basking in the sunshine. I love the joy on her face. The people of this planet may not want her here…but God, how she loves this place.”

I don’t think anyone’s looking at her smile. Is Scott for real??

The best that can be said about this whole issue (and Catwoman’s antics in her new issue 1) is that it sets a very confusing tone for the whole DC relaunch. Who are these new comics supposed to be aimed at?

Some of the earlier marketing stuff suggested DC was going after new readers who would be downloading the comics onto their iPads. I’m guessing they’re hoping this new demographic will be very young – as any new adult readers blundering across Red Hood or Catwoman 1 will be put off by the juvenile crassness of both.

Folding the Vertigo characters into the DCU has also made it difficult to establish what sort of identity the ‘new DC’ is going for. On the one hand there’s good stuff like Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man, on the other there’s puerile rubbish like this – but it’s now all under the same banner.

DC have told concerned parents who don’t want their children to read about the adventures of two douche bags and their mentally handicapped sex slave that they should check the age rating on the front cover. “T” apparently means for ‘teens and above.’

It’d be handier if DC introduced a symbol to tell both older and younger readers that a particular book is aimed at the ‘adolescent-hormones-in-crisis’ market – so the rest of us could avoid accidentally buying stuff like this.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Daily Dazzler 4: Dazzler Versus Doctor Doom Part Two!

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciller: Frank Springer

Phew. The Daily Dazzler has involved a lot of convoluted plot recapping. We can breathe a sigh of relief today as this issue just entails Dr Doom firing Dazzler into another dimension to pick up a magic gem for him that’ll enable him to take over the world.

Simple!

While she’s there she does a bit of rollerskating (of course) and once again reminds us how rubbish her powers are when she turns on her radio for a bit of music, which (as we all know by now) fuels her lights powers, only to find there are no radio stations in this mysterious dimension! Gasp!

Instead she uses the blood curdling screams of the beasties attacking her as a sound source.

This is Tom DeFalco’s attempt to make her powers less crap than they have been so far. Following last issue’s revelation that she can fire lasers, not just provide a disco light show, he’s now established she doesn’t need her handbag radio for every fight scene.

A nice gesture but the Dazzler series needs more than a power-tweak to save its bacon. Daz is crying out for a reason to exist! And she doesn’t really have one. The set up so far is she wants to be a singer, her dad wants her to be a lawyer, and she keeps blundering into situations where she meets Marvel’s top supervillains.

She skates around the dimension for a bit and bumps into Nightmare (Marvel’s horse riding bestower of bad hallucinations). She fights her ‘evil’ self, has a run in with a vision of her disapproving dad, and scares Nightmare off with her disco light show (unconvincing!) He gives her the magic jewel she’s looking for, Dr Doom beams her back to Earth, Daz destroys the gem, Doom duffs her up and then, this is the not-very-feminist-bit, runs off when he sees the Human Torch coming his way. Beating Daz up is a piece of cake but he doesn’t fancy fisticuffs with a super fella!

Johnny Storm is crestfallen to see Daz in this state. Look! He’s been set up as a love interest for two issues now. Do you think anything will come of it? (Clue: don’t hold your breath.)


Musical metaphors: (On being transported to another dimension) “If I didn’t know better – I’d swear I’ve stumbled into a Pink Floyd album…and it’ll take a lot more than a few chords from ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ to get me home!”

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Daily Dazzler 3: Dazzler Vs Doctor Doom!

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencillers: John Romita Jr and Alan Kupperberg

The first two issues saw Daz team-up with every high profile hero in the Marvel Universe and here, in an effort to further raise her profile, she’s fighting Marvel’s biggest villain.

The action kicks off with Daz testing her powers with the Fantastic Four. More guest stars! Johnny Storm is also set up as a potential love interest.

Then it’s back to her manager’s office where we meet new supporting cast member – Lancelot Steele! I like the look of Lance (right) he seems like a no-nonsense kinda guy. According to Daz’s manager, Harry S. Osgood, Steele is a “sterling and stalwart example of masculine splendor…my field rep! He’ll handle the backstage details for all of your personal appearances!”

Her latest PA being at the United Nations where BY AMAZING COINCIDENCE the new President of Latveria (‘President Zorba’ – perhaps a typical ‘European’ name in the Marvel Universe) is displaying the country’s crown jewels!!

Daz nips off to her dad’s house to try to patch up their problems. To no avail! Judge Carter Blaire is no fan of her pop star plans and announces “there can never be peace between us as long as you continue to defy my wishes!” Sob!

Back at the UN Latveria’s ambassador Dr Frazen has hired henchmen dressed as ‘punk rockers” (they look more like the Village People) to steal the crown jewels so he can sell them on the black market “to bolster our flagging treasury.” I’m no expert on international finance but this seems an unusual means to rescue an economy. Although I’m all in favour of selling off Lizzie’s fancy diamonds and lavish palaces if it means the country can afford to pay for more nurses etc. (A side issue!)

The main reason for Dr Frazen to exist at all in this tale is so Daz can fight his ruffians. She does, rescuing Lance (she’s a liberated lady) and runs into Dr Doom! For he is trying to steal the gems too! He’s after The Merlin Stone which, when teamed up with another one ‘from a nearby dimension,’ will give him unlimited mystical power! (Sounds the same as last issue’s Enchantress plot). He even takes the time to politely tell Daz all about it:


Daz zaps him with her powers – upgraded this issue to become ‘laser beams’ which is certainly a handy level-up. Doom knocks her out, loads her onto his flying ski-jet thingy and announces he’ll use her to “brave the extreme dangers of inter-dimensional travel” to get him the other Merlin Stone.

Ta-da!

This issue has some of the kitsch charm I was hoping for but I’d underestimated the amount of Amazing Coincidences that feature in the story telling. I’m sure there’ll be more next time.

Musical metaphors: “My bankroll is lower than a bass solo!”

Superboy 10: That's The Way To Do It

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Pete Woods, Cagy and Bit, Paulo Siqueira and Andrew Mangum, Pier Gallo

After the Wonder Woman Retroactive review here’s something I enjoyed – the penultimate issue in the current series of Superboy.

This series has been great and hasn’t got the attention it deserved. It’s a shame it’s getting cancelled with the DC reboot. With a change of creative team and no Krypto around I won’t be buying the relaunched series but will be getting Lemire’s Animal Man instead. It’s a shame Pier Gallo isn’t getting a regular book as his clean style added a lot of charm to this series and his costume for Psionic Lad is a design classic!

Anyway – there are multiple pencillers on art duty this issue but it works well. Not only does everyone turn in really attractive work but they’ve been split up into different time periods to prevent mid-scene swap overs – one for each era evil wizard Tannarak has tried to doom humanity. Hence we get appearances from Arion, the Viking Prince and, most enjoyably, lots of The Phantom Stranger – and he looks suitably mysterious yet stylish:

Tannark is planning on creating an army of magical Superboy doppelgangers. “The last thing the pathetic screaming masses will see is you…you burning them alive and bringing their world down around them,” Tannark tells Connor. It’s important to have a goal isn’t it? So hats off to him, he seems pretty committed to this course of action even after a whopping 47,000 years so you can’t help but wish him well.

Plus! An added bit of ‘interest’ for Legion readers. Tannarak’s been calling his clone armies The Dark Circle! A potential cross over for the Legion reboot?

Wonder Woman Retroactive 80s: AVOID

Writer: Roy Thomas
Pencillers: Rich Buckler, Tim Smith 3, Carlos Rodriguez

This ‘Retroactive’ business with writers revisiting some of their better known comic runs from the past seemed like a good idea when it was announced. However, the reality has proved a massive disappointment.

Wonder Woman Retroactive 1980s has three pencillers and four inkers in its original 26 page story (the Retroactive comics stick a reprint in the back which is why they cost £3.60) – so presumably it was a massive rush job.

The colouring’s a bit of a disaster. I dislike heavy handed ‘contouring’ which can ruin a penciller’s art style (for example Alan Davis suffered from this during his last X-Men run). It’s so heavy handed here it looks like a bucket of emulsion’s been thrown over half these faces. Not only that but there wasn’t any ‘contouring’ in the 80s. The reprint in the back shows Gene Colan did his own shading where he wanted it – so why’s this been slapped all over something that’s supposed to look like an 80s comic?

There are also basic errors such as miscolouring Etta Candy, Helena Alexandros and Steve Trevor’s hair and colouring Captain Wonder’s mask blue instead of yellow.

The colour contouring isn’t the only anachronism as the logo’s from the Perez relaunch, not from the period this story is set in, and Wonder Woman’s depicted as she came to be drawn in the 90s i.e. all boobs and hair.

This is from the splash page. Spoiler: this is supposed to be an imposter but WW still looks rough. She’s supposed to have the “beauty of Aphrodite” not the “beauty of a bulldog.”

Meanwhile Tim Smith 3 is responsible for this panel (right) – one of the worst looking WW illustrations I’ve seen since the 90s. I don’t understand what this is supposed to be doing. It’s certainly not reminiscent of an 80s art style, which I thought was supposed to be the point, and the ‘contouring’ doesn’t help.

The art means it’s difficult to get much out of the story – which is a shame as it’s a sequel to my favourite Wonder Woman story of the early 80s. The Silver Swan is a great villainess and her origin story (reprinted in the back) still stands up well. Roy Thomas’s long overdue follow up is fun and it features the kind of super-machine (‘the ectoplasmotron’) beloved of baddies in the ‘olden days’ – it’s just a shame the art makes it difficult to concentrate on what’s going on.

Perhaps DC expect old fart fans to buy the Retroactive books no matter what they look like out of misplaced nostalgia. On this evidence I’ll avoid buying any more - the scripts may be OK but the presentation makes for a frustrating reading experience.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Daily Dazzler 2: X-Men Go X Factor

Title: “Where Demons Fear To Dwell”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciller: John Romita Jr

We left Enchantress vowing to take revenge on Dazzler for beating her to a singing job at New York’s “premier” disco Numero Uno. We pick up with Daz preparing for her debut performance! The Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man and The Avengers are also getting ready for a night down the disco to see their pal do her turn (this is not a joke.)

The Enchantress turns up because a mystic portal is, by amazing coincidence, about to open on stage. This is Very Important Business because;

“Within that dread dimension lie unspeakable sorcerous energies! With such power at my command, the universe wouldst my footstool be!”

She also wants to punish Daz for nicking her singing job – so hits her with a ‘super aging’ spell.

Daz zaps the disco ball with her rather rubbish and inconsistent powers, stunning the Enchantress while her pals swing into action. They all run off to the toilets to get changed into their super-gear! It’s a comedy interlude!

The Enchantress summons “hateful harbingers of horror and holocaust” to fight our heroes.

While fisticuffs fly The Enchantress’s “grisly messenger from yon dark domain bearing the bounty of mystical omnipotence” is about to make an appearance. Dazzler sends him back home with the use of her shiny disco powers. Enchantress leaves in a huff, delaying the gratification of killing Daz, to ‘let anticipation add to thy misery.’ Weak!

Here’s the main event though…two days later her super hero chums take her, in an Avengers Quinjet, to audition for Harry S Osgood “spokesman for the stars.” Have a look at this:


The cheese-to-action ratio in this series is all over the place. One minute it’s a big supernatural punch up, the next it’s A Chorus Line with mutants.

The entire cast of Secret Wars ‘persuading’ an agent / promoter / manager (it’s not clear what Osgood is) to turn their pal into a popstar? There’d be a multi-part company-wide crossover’s worth of ethical hand wringing in that these days – but not in 1981.

Unsurprisingly Osgood decides “we have a sensational new singer to sign!” Presumably because The Thing’s already smashed one window and Osgood doesn’t fancy being threatened with any further physical violence.

The End. But will Daz see her popstar dreams come true? (Clue: Probably not)

Stay tuned!

Lois Lane and the Resistance 2: Moan, Moan, Moan

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Penciller: Gianluca Gugliotta

The first issue of this series was a bit of a let down. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s script was pretty snazzy – with a great dystopian set up (the Amazons have invaded Britain, tyranny ensues) and Lois Lane doing exciting secret stuff.

The problem was Eddie Nunez’s art. There were a several potentially great atmospheric moments in the script which were lost in the art and the (dodgy) standard was set on the first page with this picture:

A map of England! Not Britain! Nunez may have mistaken ‘England’ for the ‘United Kingdom’ but someone should have spotted this. It’s not nitpicking – it’s not difficult to check what that big blob off the coast of Europe looks like.

Phew. Issue 2 looks better thanks to Gianluca Gugliotta. However! Godiva is decked out in a completely different costume to the one she wears in the same action sequence in Flashpoint 3. I know this sound ridiculously fanboy-ish but if DC editorial can print a Godiva style guide in Flashpoint 3 then why couldn’t they send one onto Gugliotta before he drew this issue?

Anyway! The ‘Elseworlds-iness’ of this issue was fun – who’d have thought Wildstorm d-lister Grifter could have killed Hawkgirl? Wottashocka.

While Lois Lane’s the title character unfortunately this issue was dominated by Grifter. Shoehorning all the Wildstorm washed-up cast-offs into the rebooted DCU is potentially going to be a big pain in the arse.

Replacing the JSA with the watered-down Wildstorm duplicates / knock-offs of existing DC characters seems like a dodgy move. We’ve got Wonder Woman in the JLA already – do we really need Zealot (or whoever) as well? We do not!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Daily Dazzler 1: The Nightmare Begins!

Title: “So Bright This Star” (optimistic)
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciller: John Romita Jr

Special credit: “Conceived by Alice Donenfield, John Romita Jr and Jim Shooter with some help from Stan Lee, Al Milgrom, Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco.”

I recently bought the entire Dazzler run and here’s where I start the issue-by-issue autopsy. Join me on my journey through the life and times of one of Marvel’s best loved cult favourites / biggest flop heroines!

The action starts with ruffians chasing Dazzler down an alley. This page neatly lays out why Dazzler’s powers aren’t much cop. She needs to sit down, ‘don’ her skates and switch on her radio before battle can commence. Luckily she extricates herself from trouble with the aid of conveniently-passing-by Spider-Man.

The men were sent by her old manager “the owner of a posh disco and also an underworld heavy” who wants her to work for him for “no royalties”. This hints at a subplot! Will the revenge-crazed manager be followed up? (I doubt it).

Dazzler, in her Alison Blair identity, goes home. She can’t afford the rent and there’s no food in the fridge. She delivers a soliloquy about how her dad disapproves of her pop star dreams and wants her to go to law school. She wavers!

“My career is the pits…I’m lonely, hungry, broke…and scraping the bottom of the barrel…”

Join the club, love! At least you’ve got rollerskates!

She phones her pal Storm, so the X-Men can make a cameo, and tells her she’ll never give up her singing ambitions.

Flashback sequence to her dad being a rotter and turning her stereo off. At least granny supported her pie-in-the-sky pipe-dreams. Another flashback sees Alison bopping away at her school disco which is rudely interrupted by baseball-bat-wielding gang The Blazing Lords who beat everyone up. What’s this? Alison’s powers kick in, she temporarily blinds everyone, thus saving the day!

In the present The Enchantress turns a “presumptuous warrior” into a tree. She detects a mystical “opening into dimensions dark and dread” about to open on Earth. In the middle of a disco to be exact. (!!!!!)

The Avengers appear for no reason and The Beast visits Dazzler’s hovel to tell her discotheque Numero Uno is looking for a new singer.

Dazzler heads along only to find The Enchantress is already auditioning (!!!) Numero Uno being, by amazing coincidence, the place where this mystic portal is about to open. Dazzler gets the job – much to The Enchantress’s chagrin.

She’s not happy:

And there we have it. A wacky effort even by the standards of the time.

It’s a bit of a mess and that’s probably because Dazzler was initially a co-production between Marvel and Casablanca records. The series was cancelled “five or six times” before this issue even arrived.

It’s not clear where Marvel were trying to position this. The Avengers and X-Men appearances suggests they’re selling it to ‘Marvel zombies’ while the ‘career girl’ plot seems like a self conscious attempt to appeal to female readers. Was either group won over? Future issues will give us clue!

More high camp next time. And more guest stars too!

Musical metaphors: “My heart’s beating a wild tattoo but I have to play this cool!”