Saturday, August 20, 2005


"Calling All Boys!"--

starring

J. Edgar Hoover.

I am SO SURE, MARY!

OH, the Comic Book Irony!!!!!

Character Donation ... Requested!


Hold on to your hats, ladies...!

There's a Marvel character I want to be donated to DC!

He's called "The Black Knight".

No, no, not the hero; his uncle, the villain! Prof. Nathan Garrett was his name. Developed high-tech weapons designed to look like medieval ones, for example, a laser lance. He also used advanced genetic splicing techniques to create a winged horse to ride. Why do such things, instead of using his vast scientific acumen to make millions? Because it was COOL. Because he COULD. Because he was so brilliant he was STUPID.

He's got "DC" written all over him.

I can picture him now, fighting Hawkman, Wonder Woman, the Shining Knight. Teaming up with TerraMan or the awesome Human Flying Fish.

He could be Green Arrow's archenemy!

But, then again...

who couldn't?

Challenging Morrison


As one of my favorite polka artists once said, "It don' get no bedder den dis, folks."

Americans lads with page boy haircuts and Evil Queen outfits fighting bald monocled nazis with extendable artificial arms on the face of a giant golden statue of a young George C. Scott.

"What if Hitler's mechanical monster should whip Boy King's giant??"


Oh, my! That sounds awful, although I wouldn't mind seeing the videotape.

Somebody PLEASE tell me DC owns the rights
to these characters...

Grant Morrison, do your stuff!

When I Was Born


Or instead, Hal, you could capture them in a big green energy construct cage, and in one stroke advance the science of paleontology immeasurably.

When I was born,

Hal Jordan was still a moron.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sense-shattering Superbouffante Strikes!

It's not possible to talk too much about Night Girl's hair. It's like when you add 7 to infinity, you don't get something 7 more than infinity, you just get infinity. So it is also with Lydda's bouffante, whose physical and metaphysical dimensions and import are fathomless.

You know how all those comic book covers shout that the story inside reaches some "senses-shattering" conclusion? Right, as if. This is senses-shattering, people: seeing Night Girl crash through a floor, bouffante-first, her hairdo unaffected, unmoved, imperturbable, like...
like GOD.

That floor, by the way? Inertron. 100 % pure. Shatters my senses just to look at it; can't feel fingers; blinded, typing from kinetic memory.

But perhaps you're some sort of superbeing and have survived, senses dimmed but intact. Then, prithee, cast your remaining hypervision on this little vignette, pregnant with impossibility: Lydda intends to but THAT fishbowl on THAT hairdo.

Hearing ... gone! Aural faculties ... shattered!

It's okay. I can still recover. It's not like she's actually going to be able to get it...

to...

AHHHG! NO NO NO! THAT'S! NOT! POSSIBLE!!!!!

That helmet cannot be on head. Her head cannot be in the helmet.

Some sort of ... supertesseract power inherent in the hair itself? Are its myriad of curls and wavelets actually shifting fractal constructs that deform space around it?

I ... can't ... can't smell anything now. *sob*

It's her! That bewitching space-sorceress, Night Girl! She's doing it somehow. Is she actually Sensor Girl in disguise, warping my perception?

She ... but wait! There she is, in a wheelchair and dying from Crimson Virus ...
BUT HER HAIR IS UNAFFECTED.

Unaffected. Unmoved. Imperturbable. Like GOD.

Sense of reason: gone!
Sens of time: gone
Sense of self: gone!

My sense of identity shattered, I am now become Fire Lad. Crestfallen at Night Girl's blissful unawareness of her effects on others, on society, on reality itself. My wild tangle of unruly and severely over-colored hair matted down in contemplation of the incomprehensible complexity of the superbouffante's shifting moire' patterns of cold, unfeeling obsidian mass, a metaphysical black hole of meaning, so immense in its gravity and power that ...

it
even
eclipses

word balloons.

Super-Bouf!

There are some topics so resonant with comic book lovers, so mytho-structurally significant, so controversial, that I been holding back from addressing them, fearful that my contribution would be of insufficient value.

But there comes a point where such fears and insecurities must be cast aside, in the hope that passion will prevail if intellect stumbles. And so, at long last, I approach the topic of:

Night Girl's Hairdo.
"Which of us is the highest? I'm dying to know!"

That's our Lydda! Mordru may menace, the Time Trapper threaten, and Roxxas rampage, but Night Girl's only thought is, "Is there anyone with a higher bouffante than mine?"

The public story is, Night Girl's got superpowers but only when the lights are out. I guess that's like being superpowerless except from the waist down. Pity she couldn't date Hal Jordan, but in her time all that's left of him is a small plaque (where H.E.A.T. meets weekly) on the site of the bordello where he passed away at age 63 from a heart attack while atop a 20 year old Asian girl in a plasticene Star Sapphire costume. But I digress.

The real truth is, Night Girl's power is her gravity-defying hair. Gargantuan. Monumental. Brodignabian. Night Girl could only exist in the 30th Century because it will take that long for human society to develop words to describe her hair, let alone the X-Serum-based transmolecular superstablizing salon-quality hair-care products to make it possible.

Look at poor Fire Lad, the flaming little poseur. "I've tried and tried," Hot Lips thought, "but even with my own 'club-kid' hair gelled up and spikified half way to Durla and back, I still don't get any attention as long as that pumped up prom queen and her grotesque hair hillock have all the boys staring at her! Oh, why don't boys love ME instead of her! *Choke*"

Think about it, Fire Lad! What idiot wants to go to bed with a guy who shoots FLAMES from his mouth? It's rather limiting, you know. Settle down with some nice invulnerable type; heck, Ultra Boy's game for anything, wink wink.

Regular citizens have no idea what to make of Night Girl's hair. Although they live in a world of miracles like the Potential-Factors Re-Organizer Complex and the Planetary Chance Machine, they are utterly mystified by the Superbouffante of Night Girl.

"Moons of Jupiter!" exclaims Inthefore Ground, gesturing futilely, "it defies even our 30th Century Science (tm)!"

"It's--it's a helmet," stutters his brother, Intheback. "J-j-just like ours! It must be. DEAR GOD PLEASE TELL ME IT'S A JUST HELMET....!"

Of course, these are just rubes from the Rimworld of Va-va-va-voom (hey...I think I rented that movie...!). But even the ultimate galaticky sophiscate, Superboy, is mesmerized by the follicular mystery of Lydda's massive hair-mountain:

"It defies analysis by my wide array of vision powers! It seems impervious to heat vision, Star Boy's mass-inducing power .... even the unfathomable energies of the Emerald Eye! I'm positive I saw it take a direct hit from Validus last week, and yet... nothing! It's some sort of ... super-hair! Is it more power than *gulp* m-mine? Gosh, I sure hope not! That would mean that tomorrow at sunrise, I'd have to shove my hand through her thorax and crush her heart till it fused into a diamond. I hope it never comes to that...!"

All the while, Lydda's owl-insignia smirks, knowingly, silently wise about the dark tonsorial powers of its mistress. At least, until an invulnerable fist wearing a Smallville High ring smashes through it at light-speed....

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Character Donations #75-78

What decent American could argue against donating the Masters of Disaster to Marvel?

Names that are the same as their powers or a pun based on their powers is the classic Marvel "mutant nomenclature". I'd say, based on their Who's Who entry, the "Masters of Disaster" meet that particular criterion...
  • New-Wave, the leader of the group, can transform her body into water, or any of the many forms water can take.
  • Windfall can control winds, ranging from gentle zephyrs to violent storms. She and New-Wave are sisters (New-Wave's first name being Becky), and Windfall witnessed their mother's murder at the hands of New-Wave.
  • Shakedown was ttemendously strong, and could generate vibratory forces that he can either channel through a medium or project toward a desired target. Shakedown had a crush on Windfall and felt frequently remorse for his violent actions.
  • Coldsnap is a human freezer unit, capable of genereating sub-zero temperatures and great quantities of ice. His normal body heat is conderably lower than the average.
  • Heatstroke can generate extremely high temperatures, as well as controlled bursts of flame. Her normal body heat is considerably above the average.
Let's see, can we struggle along without a team that was single-handedly defeated by Hooker the Girl Giftwrap? Just look at the Outsiders' faces; even that posse of misbegotten losers is clearly stupefied by the cheesiness of their opponents. Only the blissful Halo seems immune to mortification, enshrouded in the fog-like delusion that she's going to get her own book and violating the Fourth Wall Taboo. I suppose in order to be Halo in the first place you pretty much have to be immune to mortification.

New-Wave ("Wow, her name refers to powers AND her edge-hugging hipness; the kids will love her!") is yet another Zan-clone, whose principal accomplishment has been drowning Shakedown (hold back those tears, folks), which is a mercy-killing because anyone (other than Superman or Letterman) who has his initial(s) on his chest (as if when his mother sewed the costume she wanted to make certain he didn't confuse it with anyone else's in the supervillain's locker room) should clearly be put out of our misery.

New Wave's got "X-Factor" written all over her. Maybe, just maybe, if she could retain her cohesion in the sea, she'd make an okay one-time sparring partner for Aquaman, at least until he just sucked her up with his Mysticky Hand of Aquarius (tm), sending her off the Land of Liquid Fairies, who would, I'm sure, heal her tormented soul of its unquenched desires with the gentle licking of the lambent undulations of their blahbbity -blah -blah -blah (insert 12 issues of Rick Veitch here).

Windfall? Gee, another character who blows. Apparently, every one of these "Criminals of Crapola" teams has to have one member whoss power is being full of hot air (the Wind Elementals must have a strong union). Oh, but Windfall's special because she's torn between being a hero and being and villain, and she's New Wave's sister. Sisters with dissimilar elemental powers and internal disfunctional family strife? Vacillating between hero and villain due to moral uncertainty? Enjoy Marvel, ladies; go date the Summers Brothers.

And if you don't know the hideous Vertigoesque fate Grant Morrison doled out to Coldsnap & Heatstroke, who are Tragic Victims of Comic Book Irony (tm), in Aztek #7, then be happy I'm sparing you the details. What remains of them would feel at home among Marvel's Misunderstood Monsters, I'm sure.

The more I look at the "Masters of Disaster" the more I marvel that I didn't get around to donating them sooner. So many Misbegotten Creations of Enemy of Society Mike W. Barr, so little time...

My only problem is figuring out how MANY characters they count for (Shakedown = zero? "Heatsnap" = um, 2?); I'm calling it a non-fantastic four and moving on.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Sinister Sidekicks!

Phew! Are you rested enough to climb the next level on the Rungs of Villainy?

Does life get any better than being the Left-Hand Man (the chief Denominated Henchman) of a villain? Yes -- if you're a

Sinister Sidekick.

So what distinguishes a Sinister Sidekick from a mere Left-Hand Man?

You have your own codename and costume. Not an off-the-rack "the whole gang's wearing matching beanies" kind of costume, but a head-to-toe, unique costume, tailored by Gambi himself. Sometimes, like the Riddler's Sidekicks, Query & Echo, you get a whole wardrobe of one-of-a-kind (well ... two-of-a-kind) wickedwear. This is because (A) the Riddler's a stylin' metrosexual, and (B) Query & Echo will beat him up otherwise.

You have solo scenes confronting the hero, independent snappy patter, tasty armament shticks, and a total ignorance of your limitations. Psychologically empowered by your form-fitting Gambi original, you confidently confront, say, Captain Triumph, whom you call by a derisive and inappropriately familiar nickname like "Cappy" or "Umphster", attacking with some overwrought thematic weaponry like exploding Rubik's Cubes or a bazooka that shoots silver dollars, until the hero, without uttering a word or otherwise acknowledging your existence, pummels you senseless and stuffs you in the nearest trash receptable, splayed in some unnatural tangle of limbs reminiscent of the victims of Pep Comic's Big Moose.

Welcome to the big time! If you do really well as a Sinister Sidekick, you may earn a more extended fight scene where you trade quips with the hero's sidekick. Who knows, you may even get a solo back-up story in The Triumph Family Annual, pestering junior counterpart Winged Victory, kid sidekick Pvt. Struggle, or female counterpart Triumph-Hyphen-Girl. Gosh, that puts you close to becoming an archenemy for Green Arrow!


Some Sinister Sidekicks are mercifully short-lived, such as Punchline (another monstrous creation by Enemy of Society Mike W. Barr) and the single most appropriately named character in all of comic book history, Gaggy. But the less you know about Gaggy, the happier you will be.

Some Sinister Sidekicks are sadly short-lived. The marvelous Kitten, Honeysuckle, Chick, Sardine, and (*snort*) Toy Boy abandoned their costumed criminal careers after their first outing (and in Toy Boy's case I do mean outing). From what I hear, Kitten & Honeysuckle moved in together and run a holistic petsupply shop in Van Nuys, traitorous Chick disappeared into the Witness Protection Program, Sardine's working for some outfit called "ProGeneTech", and Toy Boy (*snicker*), having left his best years behind, is the nightshift bartender at a Rehoboth piano bar called "Tinkles".

One of the saddest things in comics is the tragedy of Free-Range Sidekicks. Free-Range Sidekicks think that they're serious supervillains, independent operators, and next up for a commemorative stamp in Zandia. More likely they're badly codependent (they often travel in desperately clingy pairs), poorly dressed (without a snazzy supervillian to supervise their shopping), and get their membership applications to the Secret Society returned to them unopened and marked SENDER UNKNOWN (in blood).


In a sensible world, players like this are editorially slapped around a bit then yoked as sidekicks to a more serious player, to their benefit and his. As free agents, they're nugatory, but, connected to a real bad guy, they can become truly side-kick-ass. This was done brilliantly in the Batman Adventures, where Bronze Tiger, Gorilla Boss, Sportsmaster, and Phantasm were used as lieutenants of Black Mask. They presented much better as high quality Sinister Sidekicks than as low-rent stand-alone villains.

C'mon; does it really take a Geoff Johns to figure out that Double Dare and the Body Doubles need to be working for Two-Face? Or that Killer Moth would be better off as the head of the Penguin's protection racket and the Cavalier as head of the fencing operations (har har har!)?

Of course, it works in other direction, too. Used well, a Sinister Sidekick with the right spark can wind up a respected villain on his .. or her ... own.

One last technical note. Although I've viciously attacked pun-based codenames in other posts, it is okay to have a pun-based name if you are a Sinister Sidekick. If you never accomplish anything greater, then that's fine, because your name already says, "don't tell it all so seriously, fanboy". If you do go on to greatness, then you can revel in the Comic Book Irony of saying things like, "Captain Triumph now rues the day he scoffed at Doe, Rae, and Mimi!"


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Denominated Henchman



If you've survived so far along the Rungs of Villainy, you may be a

Denominated Henchman (DH).

You're a real player now! "The Boss" knows your name and uses it in front of other people ... in front of "The Enemy". And the Boss doesn't run away when you shove your face in the meatgrinder of justice, because he's confident you're going to win!

Boy, wait'll the guys at the Dark Side Bar & Grill here about this!

"So it's just me and the other guys in lilac suits, see? We run forward on the ice in our brown patent leathers and the Penguin says to me, "Get them, Beefy!" I'm not ashamed to tell ya, I cried; made it hard to even see who was knocking me out. At the police station, I used my one call to let my mother know I'd become a Denominated Henchman; she cried, too! I can't wait to tell everyone at my reform school reunion, in 10 to 20 with time off for good behavior."


Luthor's chaffeur, Mercy Graves, is probably the best known Denominated Henchman, but my favorite remains Southpaw (pictured at right).

Southpaw had two second bananas, Tooth (the black guy) and Blue-Eyes (the guido, who, sadly, had an unfortunate accident involving "the Boss" and an oncoming truck). Together they were the Shadrack, Mischach, and Abendigo of the gooniverse. Tooth and Blue-Eyes are (um, "were" in Blue-Eyes' case) respected Denominated Henchman, but Southpaw? Dude's the highest ranking of DHs, a Left-Hand Man.

And no wonder! He's resilient (most characters can't survive more than a couple panels with the Joker), adapative (whatever Mr. J's wacky plan, Southpaw was ready to go), obviously highly intelligent (the Joker barely respects anyone with a less than Luthor-like IQ),and talk about STYLING! Wild, 1970s-style, blond action hair, manly cleft chin, the arched eyebrow that is the universal comic book symbol of superior comprehension, a white turtle neck with an orange leisure suit! Denominated Henchman don't come any cooler than Southpaw, kids.

The Haiku Court


You know most people (other than Kryptonianologists) aren't aware that in the Classical Kryptonian court system, sentencing had to be done in haiku.

Now, Kryptonese doesn't translate perfectly into English, which, I think, is why this judge's phrasing is a tad off. It actually sounds more like this:

Lex Luthor, you killed
a Kryptonian, and so
you'll be tried by them.


Kryptonian culture was so painfully cool. Even loudmouth Luthor is stunned into respectful silence by the judge's casual use of haiku to damn him to transmolecular nullification.

And just for fun, let's have our own haiku composition contest:

What, in haiku, is that whispering woman in the gallery saying to her companion?

A Hypothetical Question



Riddle me this:

If you suddenly owned the store where you get your comics ...

  • what would you change?
  • add or subtract?
  • do for the employees?
  • do to promote it?
  • do to bring new people to comics generally?
  • want on its website?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Phantom Lady Turns Out the Lights

Is there anyone more fabulous than Phantom Lady? Frankly ... no.

Like all really sexy Golden Age characters she comes (tee hee!) originally from Quality Comics (Police Comics #1, 1941). She got bounced around a bit (giggle!) between companies in the 1940s, and when Victor Fox of Fox Features got his hands on her (snicker), his artists gave her THIS, um, "costume":Homina, homina! Er, I mean, I appreciate the underlying theme of women's liberation symbolized by emancipating herself from the ropes clinging to her taut, heaving, and apparently excited costume. You want to see more, of course, but she's palming her blacklight ray, and you're seconds away from being alone with her in the dark. Well, except for the goons in the background. Hey, a girl's got needs.

Sadly, Dr. Frederic Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, was so filthy-minded that he, like the victims of Phantom Lady's blacklight ray, was blinded to her glorious symbolism. This cover was reproduced in SOTI, Exhibit "A" in the Senate hearing that crushed comics in the 1950s, and Phantom Lady came to symbolize the naughtiness of comics that almost destroyed them.

Decades later, DC embraced her (snort) by making her scantily-cladedness part of how she distracts criminals, and having known pornographer Chuck Austen do her (snicker) really drove it home. Interestingly, retconning her as Ted Knight's cousin made her part of the Starman Dynasty, where she serves (served?) more or less as the "Female Counterpart", with a twist; Starman brings light to the night, but Phantom Lady brings dark to the day.

I'm hoping that, after the upcoming spanking (titter!) that the Freedom Fighters are going to get from the Secret Society, she and Damage will join the JSA, continuing the legacies of the Golden Age Starman and the Atom.

Anyway, now that I have a Golden Age Starman clix to fight alongside hipster Jack and teen queen Courtney, I finally felt what so many other guys have felt since 1941:

"I want Phantom Lady!"
And now she's mine...


Stupid Hero Quote

"I've never disguised myself as an elephant before!"

If somebody doesn't get this one almost immediately, I'll be very disappointed.

Haiku on the High Seas


Chatting with sea-creatures provides such stimulating conversation.

In fact, Aquaman and his subjects have been studying the Art of SuperHaiku, as practiced by Starman.

Clearly, they haven't quite got the hang of it, but, hey, you try haikuizing while you're surfing and depending on the oh-so-reliable Hal Jordan. Obviously, Aquaman doesn't need a surfboard, so he's just giving Hal something to do that keeps him off camera. Arthur's pretty smart.

But his poetry needs an assist, even if his swimming doesn't. Let's help our finny friends, shall we?

What is blocking your
path,
my finny friends? Island
there! Big sun! Sand! Trees!


Sorry, Porm; the "House" may be central to the plot, but you overshot your meter scheme.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Green Arrow's New Rogues Gallery


Enormous opportunity! Situation desperate! Need ideas!


My friend Brad Meltzer called to tell me he and Judd Wincik are going to a six-month long college reunion, and DC wants me to fill in on Green Arrow because I'm the only person in worse shape than Messner-Loebs. Must make a story arc -- and fast! I'll only have one shot!

Let's see, must fix Ollie's principal problem (next to the beard, and the personality, and the general stupidity of arrows): lack of rogues. Yes, yes, I'll dredge up every single villain he's ever faced, have them attack him one by one, then together. That worked with Hawkman. Works in every arc Jeph Loeb's ever written; I'll just skip the overarching one-shot cipher character that's supposed to tie it all together, but doesn't.

What?! What do you mean Ollie doesn't have any rogues of his own? Ohmigod, ohmigod, okay-- don't panic. It's okay; I know what to do. I'll do what anyone would do, faced with writing GA: form an ersatz Rogues Gallery out of discarded Nth rate opponents of better heroes. Let's see ... the Riddler? No, no; everyone knows the Riddler has been reduxed and is big time; that's really stupid. Er, um, Duke of Oil? Too ridiculous, even for Ollie; never get an Eisner that way. Solomon Grundy? Oh, it's been done? Think man, think!

Ah-ha! I'll--I'll just cannibalize MY OWN BLOG for the characters I need; brilliant!

Ollie's New Rogues Gallery

Extrano!
Artsy-Face!
Twisty!
The Purple Turban!
Katy Keene!
The Salacious Sailor!
The Eraser and the Ten-Eyed Man!
The Fleeing Fiend!
R.O.G.E.R.!
Joe Coyne!
The Uncomfortable Nardak!
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission!
The Unconscious Japanese Accountant!

Assist me to the couch!


I--I just--
I'm just ... overwhelmed. The DRAMA of Starman, it's ... I ...

Wizened, bilious, disembodied body parts floating over amorphous diaphanous miasma!

Our hero, studly and prostrate in a seductive pose, his power rod powerless!

Absolute helplessness in a pitiless gloomy cavern!

Villainous third-person self-reference!

The Named Horror of "the Abyss", symbolic of the anhililation of not mere existence but meaning!



Beyond it all, the hideous parody of the Sistine Chapel, with the unspeakable blasphemy of the Mist replacing God, reaching out his man to bestow anti-life to, not the first man, but the ultimate man, mind and body....!

That's it; I must find all copies of the Starman Archive ... and destroy them. They are a threat to society, to decency itself.

Lana Does Her Own Obit


In one word balloon, Lana manages to synopsize the meaninglessness of her life, as a person and as a character.

Impressive. She could get a great job writing for the GAO or TV Guide.

Maybe DC could use her to do the voiceovers in those "Intro-exposition" panels: "A reincarnated Egyptian pharaoh etc."

Golden Eagle


It's hard to fight the Dynastic Centerpiece (DC) Model (c)!

Just look at the lauded "alternate cover" for IC1 with Batman w/ Nightwing & Robin, Superman w/ Superboy & Supergirl, and Wonder Woman w/ Troia & Wonder Girl. It's iconic power practically knocks you over.

The DC Model drives me in my choice of custom Heroclix. We have Hawkman, we have Hawkgirl; I must have Golden Eagle.

And now I do, thanks to totaltoyz! He works perfectly on a Rookie Hawkman dial, particularly since I usually put the Hawkman sculpt on the KC Hawkman dial (which has substantially spear-chucking, mace-swinging OOMPH to it).

Hm. Now the Hawkclan need, say, another female character. Who can't fly, but can control birds, like the Silver Age Hawks did. Handled right, that might be a nice addition to the Hawkfamily.

"Falconette"; too cute? She'd be a cheap clix, I bet, and would provide the one thing the Hawks need: barrier!

How Smart is Batman?

Smart enough...

to solve the crimes of "Captain Ben" while breaking the world's half-mile swimming record.

In costume.