Monday, May 23, 2016

Haikuesday: The Blue Beetles

There are many immediately great aspects to DC's Rebirth. One is the pairing of the classic Blue Beetle and the newer one.

Um...I meant the two AFTER that. Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes.

Rebirth brings them 'together again for the first time', and it is instantly perfect, with Jaime as the boy who doesn't want to be a superhero and Ted as the adult who blithely ignores that fact completely.

As well he should, for its quite clear that Jaime will be a hero. How? Heroic haiku, of course.

I'll deal, Mister Kord.
But I'm not looking to play
"Batman and Robin".

Sorry, kid; if you end a haiku with "Batman and Robin", you're pretty much destined to be a hero.

What haiku can YOU compose to celebrate the new optimism of Rebirth?

Cynical deconstructionist haiku are not eligible.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Well, we certainly are about to have a lot to talk about, thanks to "Rebirth".

Wally West

DC (I'll say it: that really means Johns because his fingerprints and name are all over this) is being especially clever this time around.  While a generation of fans were squealing, "WHY FOR YOU BURY WALLY WEST IN THE COLD COLD GROUND?!", DC was busy behind the scenes making red-haired Wallace the central character and narrator of Rebirth #1.  Nice one, DC.  

And that certainly makes ME happy. Not because I care about red-haired Wally.  I don't.  Frankly, I always thought he was kind of an insecure, dim, screw-up with codependency issues.  With Barry first and then with his mom and then with Linda "The Beacon" Park.  Especially do I not miss Linda, who was never anything more than an arbitrary Ultimate Love interest for Wally as some sort of latter day compensation for the man-whore days of his early run, and who never had a personality of her own beyond that.  She had more personality/job/look/outfit changes than a Captain Action doll.  It's really hard to get a bead on a character like that.

God knows I tried.

Sure Iris West was terrible, but at least she was CONSISTENTLY terrible, you know what I mean?

Anyway, seeing red-haired Wally return makes me happy simply because it gives me hope that all the thirty-somethings can please shut up now and stop whining.  Particularly since the Wally they are missing is actually the wise-cracking one on Justice League Unlimited and has very little to do with the hapless fool in the comics with that same name.

It won't stop their whining, of course.  Because Rebirth Wally is not The Flash, but the Kid Flash...which is what he was created to be.  I'm glad that DC finally, instead of forcing us to want what they are giving, has decided to give us what we want.  But within reason.  I mean, start giving it to chunks of irate fanboys holding their breath until 'their' version of a character comes back and before you know it we would have Hal Jordan back as Green Lantern. And nobody wants to live on THAT earth.

And Wally West

Me, I'm perfectly fine with singing, dancing Wally West from the teevee show, who somehow magically makes Iris less annoying just by standing in the same room.  And his comic book counterpart, although we haven't had a lot of time to get to know him.  Seems we will have more of him; he's clearly in the new Teen Titans.

Not the best hair-cut for guarding your secret identity, Wally.  
I'm guessing Clark Kent gave you the ball cap.

This is good news.  I don't want the resurgence of classic versions of characters to squeeze out the new more ethnically diverse cast of the DCU.  Speaking of which...

Jackson Hyde

Jackson Hyde -- who had a brief stint as Aqualad somewhere during the last few reboots -- is back, black, and getting no slack.  At least not from his mother, who provides the currently de-rigeur Parental Issue by being uncool with Jackson's having a boyfriend.  I do appreciate DC making Hyde gay (no reason not to, since he has no backstory to the contrary).  But I wish they would leave off with the "Anti-Gay Parent" schtick.  Are there people still like this? Sure.  But, increasingly we (and the DCU characters) live in a world where, well, being gay's not really a debatable issue.  Characters like Mrs. Hyde are already seeming pretty dated, and that's going to get worse going forward.  There are other ways of showing The Gay Struggle without a token condemnatory parent. Or just consider not showing Struggle at all and just showing The Gay; give that crazy idea a try, DC.  To his credit, Jackson seems to just shrug it off with, "Um, yeah, whatever, Ma, that's quaintly old-school, but I'm just a tad more focused on the fact that I seem to have aquatic superpowers for no reason I can fathom and wait I think the fish are trying to tell me something,"

A Surface Custom

Yeah, I'll confess: I teared up when Aquaman gets down on one knee before Mera (and not to find her comb), and explains that "it's a surface custom".  It sure is.  

Now we know why DC seemed to have backpedaled on Aquaman having been married to Mera; it's so we can see them get married.  Very nice one, DC.  There really has never been a cooler romantic couple in all of comics.  It's not just that they deserve to be happily married; WE deserve for them to get married.  Who knows? Maybe she won't say yes, at least not right away.  Mera's not one to do something like that lightly.  But Arthur is a nice quiet Maine boy and it's exactly what he would do. 

If she does say yes, Mera doesn't have a lot of gal pals to be bridesmaids; Batwoman maybe?  I could really go for a full underwater wedding with Batwoman et al. wearing classic fishbowl helmets on their heads.  Does Aquaman have any human relatives? Maybe a cousin named AJ?  

Wonder Brother

Wonder Woman has a twin brother. I don't know any more about that and I don't need to.  This idea is so ridiculous that I support it 100%.  Sure, "previously unknown twin" is a trite soap opera twist.   But long before 'separated at birth' was a trite soap opera twist it was a trite mythology twist.  And Wonder Woman is, at heart, a figure of mythology. The time(s?) they gave Barry Allen a separated at birth twin was achingly stupid;  it was just another way to create an anti-Flash for him to fight (because Flash writers almost never know what to do with the Flash if there's no anti-Flash for him to fight).  But for Wonder Woman it makes a lot of sense.  First of all, Zeus is her father and "Zeus fathers twins" is a pretty standard trope.  Second, it's already been established that when the Amazons had male children that they didn't keep them on the island; no further explanation for his disappearance is needed.  Third, Wonder Woman's dynasty has long needed a anti-distaff member; a missing brother will fit the bill rather nicely.  

This is concept I could get behind. So to speak.

Baby Darkseid

Darkseid, who died, is now reincarnated as Superwoman's baby.  Another "so ridiculous = 100% support from me".

I demand at least fifteen years of Baby Darkseid back-ups stories.  Baby Darkseid versus Sugar 'n' Spike. Baby Darkseid meets WonderTot, Baby Batman, and Superbaby.  Baby Darkseid. The Joker is hired as the party clown for Baby Darkseid's birthday.  Baby Darkseid's omega-beams chase the neighbor's cat.  Baby Darkseid's babysitter puts him in the microwave.  Call me, DC!


Johnny Thunder is living in a nursing home.  Again...that's all I need to know.  The Flash story (Flash V2 #134) where Johnny Thunder, addled by senility, gives Jay Garrick his pen and tells him to look after his dog is one of the greatest DC stories ever told; it still makes me cry and gives me chills.  [If I agree with these guys, it must be true.]

The fact that we know Johnny exists is the ONLY thing needed to bring back the Justice Society of America, because, while JT has always been a confused and incompetent half-wit, he also happens to have the ability to bring back the JSA with a single wish.

Joker(s) Wild

Apparently, there isn't a Joker; there are three of them.  Again, another concept so ridiculous I support it, well, 300%.  I'll take any out given from the corner into which Scott Snyder has painted the Clown Prince of Crime.

As long as this is one of them.

Nemo custodiebat

Apparently, we may be learning that the all-powerful being who's lost touch with all humanity and has a badly confused sense of reality who is responsible for screwing up the New52 universe by recreating it without the essentials of love and legacy is...

Dr. Manhattan.

Close enough!  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

And I know it!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Flashy Art

I've been waiting to post until the much-anticipated "Rebirth" of the DCU.  Little reason to fuss over the details of DC digging its universe out of the mud it drove it into in just five years.  Better to wait until after it's been through the car wash.

But I have been seeing good signs about what's coming, I am heartened by most of them.  In Batman, limbs have been sewed back on and the Bunnyman suit is in a glass case in a darker corner of the Hall of Trophies.

"If only we weren't all drawn by Curt Swan, we might be able to recognize him!"

Green Lantern will be getting by in its time-honored way: avoiding Hal Jordan, and focusing on someone else instead.

He's a car thief with a gun obsession; she's a paranoid crime vicitm. 
Together they fight crime as if they're on a '80s teevee show.

There's a plan for putting Superman back on track; it's weird, but then again, Superman stories are ALWAYS weird, when you come right down to it.

Don't knock it till you've tried it, Lo-Lo.

Wonder Woman is back in the hands of team that made her enjoyable for me, and frankly, I don't care how ridiculous you may think it is.

Rule 41, baby.

Green Arrow is, well, Green Arrow will still be stupid, but at least recognizably so. 

We don't know either, Ollie. Something about werewolves.
Let's just all move on, shall we?

Lord only knows what will become of the Martian Manhunter.  Maybe they're going to let me write him and their email to me got lost; yes, I'm sure that's it.

If so, you WILL see Mr. Moth again. 
Possibly in a team up with Dr Light or Killer Moth.

But the real current surprise for me is that the previews for Flash have OVERWHELMED me.  And in a way completely uncharacteristic of me:

The art.

Comics are a marriage of two media, drawing and writing (plotting, really).  As comics goes, I'm a 'writer person' not an 'artist person'.  It's not that I don't LIKE art.  I used to work in an art museum, in fact.  It just seldom makes as big an impression on me (in comics) as the writing does.

Well, the forthcoming issues of the Flash are a strong and welcome exception.  

The art matters in all comics. But it matters more in some than others.  It's easy to imagine just reading a text story about Batman, Superman, or even Aquaman. But Flash?  No; superspeed is a power you need to SEE.

And these Flash pages are so full of genius, it's hard for me to discuss, because I feel that, as a non-artist, I may not even have the talent required to understand how good they are.  Obvious high points are the mastery or framing and composition within each panel and across them.  The clever use of panel sizes and color in the second page.  The intentional 'swipe' of the Flash's classic on-the-run pose. The amazing tricks used to distinguish background from foreground in a more realistic yet artistic way than I have ever seen in comics.  Most important is that all the elements are not gratuitous artistry; they are clearly being used to tell the STORY.

Carmine DiGiandomenico and Neil Googe, my hat is off to you.  I look forward to your upcoming work on The Flash.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Holy Grail of Lost Comics

Apparently, the Holy Grail was discovered.  Five years ago. And no one told me.

At least, MY Holy Grail. Specifically, the "lost comic" Joker #10.  For those who don't already know, the Joker had his own comic book in the mid-'70s, which was, well, insane.  Here's a single-panel that should make that point:

That is the Joker in an afro-wig having lunch at a burger joint with Lex Luthor.
You can never unsee that; you're welcome.  

Those nine issues were the stuff of lunatic legend. Are they good?  That ...that word simply is not relevant to The Joker series.  Go buy the collected edition on Comixology and see for yourself.

What is NOT in the collected edition, however, are the Letters Pages from those issues.  Including the one from #9, which announced that in the next issue the Joker would be taking on the Justice League in a story called "99 and 99/100 % Dead!"  Imagine the excitement of that announcement for tweener-me.

NOW imagine my disappointment when...they canceled The Joker. BEFORE Issue #10.  What the HECK was going to happen in that story?  For 40 years I have not known and it was the general consensus that NO ONE would ever know.  The art was lost, the story was lost.  Irv Novick died and the artwork didn't turn up.  "99 and 99/100 %"  might as well have been one of the lost plays of Aeschylus.

Until 2011, when apparently writer Marty Pasko found some xeroxed pages of it in the bottom of some storage boxes and auctioned them off on eBay.  I didn't hear about it at the time but I stumbled across this info yesterday while researching something entirely different.  The available pages are inserted below (as is the text of the ebay auction, which if I had known about, you can be damned sure wouldn't have stopped at $200).  

The missing pages make it a little hard to follow's a The Joker story.  Having all the pages wouldn't make it more comprehensible, it would just make it more FULLY incomprehensible.

As breath-taking as the experience of finally reading (most of) a comic that I thought had never even been drawn has been... the story is the first of a multi-parter, which a huge cliffhanger.  Which I now have NO HOPE of ever uncovering.  Which is driving me crazy.

Which, I suppose, is how The Joker should be anyway.

The ongoing liquidation of the vast comics and memorabilia collection of TV animation and comics writer Martin Pasko (“Thundarr,” “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm,” “Batman: The Animated Series,” “The Tick,” Superman,” “Dr. Fate,” “Blackhawk,” et al.)

“I acquired this as the writer of what would be the final issue of DC’s short-lived THE JOKER ongoing monthly.  It comprises 17 Xeroxed pages at the same size as the originals (12 x 17), folded in the center.  The sheets are plain paper rather than thermal and only slightly yellowing.  They are still supple.  Because they’ve been sitting at the bottom of a box 35 years, under several pounds of papers stacked atop them, they remain comparatively unworn and are eminently readable, if that’s why you’re interested.This issue was never published, but it was NOT, as has been erroneously reported on the internet, a victim of the so-called “DC Implosion” of 1976, meaning IT WAS NOT EVEN INCLUDED IN THE RARE AND EXTREMELY VALUABLE “CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE” ASHCAN!!  The original boards were returned to penciller IRV NOVICK and inker VINCE COLLETTA, both of whom are dead.  I’ve never seen any of those boards “in circulation” among dealers, however.
Because this story, entitled “99 and 99/100% Dead,” was “forecast” in JOKER #9’s “Coming next issue” blurb, many Joker fans over the years have asked me whatever happened to it.  When I told them I thought I had a copy of the art in my files, they EXPRESSED THE BELIEF -- WHICH I CAN’T CONFIRM OR REFUTE -- THAT THESE XEROXES MAY BE THE ONLY RECORD OF THIS STORY THAT SURVIVES.  This seems credible because, as of 8/6/11, a Google search -- of both images AND text -- turns up no results, and a search of the Heritage Auctions database comes up empty as well.  Moreover, Editor Julie Schwartz did not keep a Xerox to later bequeath to DC, and only the Novick and Colletta estates would know whatever became of the boards.  So, at last, here it is!
FYI, the story is a piece of absurdist humor, written by me with a plotting assist from PAUL KUPPERBERG, in which The Joker tells a psychiatrist of his efforts to kill THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, of whom we meet GREEN ARROW, WONDER WOMAN, & THE FLASH.  It’s not a self-contained story, but rather was planned as the first part of a 2- or 3-issue arc.  Ah, the best-laid plans, etc...”  -- Martin Pasko

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In memoriam: Dale Roberts

Dale Roberts, a devoted DC comics fan and longtime reader and commenter here at the Absorbascon, passed away this week after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.  

Dale was a huge fan of obscure, even one-time characters from the Golden and Silver Ages of DC, a love he often expressed through his sterling work making custom Heroclix figures.  Even if you just look at the work he's done for me over the last ten years, it's amazing.

Joe Coyne the Penny Plunder

The Rainbow Raider

Dr. Domino and his Dominominions

Silken Spider, Tiger Moth, and Dragon Fly

Jimmy Olsen

Prof Radium

Vibe (regular AND breakdance fighting versions)

The Human Flying Fish and Sardine


Cal Durham

Hal Jordan with Space Owl Head-Hitting Action

The Sportsmaster and Huntress/Tigress

The Human Flame

 plus Sonar; the Blue Snowman; Paula Von Gunther; Dr. Poison; Eviless; Hypnota; Queen Clea; Zara, Priestess of the Crimson Flame; the Ocean Master, Max Mercury; Black Hand; Dr. Polaris; Angle Man; Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls, Golden Age Two-Face, Ace The Bathound, the Cavalier, Golden Age Clayface, Joker goons, Penguin goons, Two-Face goons, Catwoman goons, Riddler goons, King Tut goons, Hugo Strange, the Weeper,  Aquagirl; Koryak; the Fadeaway Man; the Crime Doctor; Rocky Grimes; the Prankster; the Octopus, Admiral Trafalgo, Seawolf, Nereus, Mephisto the Sea Satan, Scavenger, The Fisherman, the Sea Devils, the Shark, the Eel, Blackjack the Pirate, Vulko, Storm and Imp, Neptune Perkins; Black Condor; Northwind; Torpedo, Magneto, and Claw; Bullseye the Clown; Giant Turtle Boy, Iris West; and probably about 30 more that I can't even remember off the top of my head.  And that was just for me; Dale had many other loyal customers, too.

Dale's dedication to helping OTHERS enjoy comics as much as he did was unflagging and unstinting and his joy in doing so was effusive and palpable.  Dale's life was about making others happy and his spirit will be missed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Skipping over the highs and lows of the Supergirl show's season finale, let's go right to the cliffhanger at the end: the Kryptonian pod that lands on Earth, whose contents take Kara by surprise.

What COULD be in that pod? What do you think?

  1. Streaky.  Comic-book inaccurate, of course.  We all know Streaky was a terrestrial cat before he got superpowers as a result of Supergirl's scientific incompetence.
  2. Krypto.  Who I assume would be a black Lab.
  3. The Bottle City of Kandor.  Which would be stupid, of course. But deliciously so, and Supergirl could use more Silver Age nonsense.
  4. Young Kara herself.  As Flash teaches, "when in doubt, screw with viewers minds using time-travel."
  5. A brown wig with pigtails.
  6. Baby Kal-El.  That would be completely insane, but "Superman did something weird and flew himself backward along the time stream and is now Superbaby again" would be one way to explain why Superman never visits or helps Supergirl.
  7. Dick Malverne.  Because Supergirl needs Dick.
  8. Brainiac 5. Same reason.
  9. Beppo.  Hijinks ensue.
  10. Powergirl.  Because, despite all the 'girlpower' on the show, it really needs a 'broad'.
  11. Comet, the SuperPony.  Period.
  12. The body of the real Cat Grant, who was replaced years ago by Earth-4 Eobard Thawne.
  13. The show ratings.
  14. Grant Gustin.
  15. John Ostrander, actor.
  16. A headband.
  17. Mrs. Berkowitz, from Chicago.
  18. Pants.