Saturday, October 22, 2005

Unprepared



I wasn't prepared to enjoy issue 2 of Alex Ross's Justice this week. I'm not a fan of Ross's art (though he has an imaginative flair for costume design!), and the only thing in issue 1 I enjoyed were two character moments for Aquaman. Seeing Aquaman on Storm was fabulous and underwater wit doesn't get any drier than "Arthur, there's a shark to see you."

But issue 2 had the Riddler and Ross, who beautifully captured the simplicity of Riddler's backstory and complexity its results, did a good job with him. Almost no one does a good job with the Riddler, and his interactions with Batman were chockful of delicious layers of remarkably unforced comic book irony.

Mysterious scenes of Prof. Crane (the Scarecrow) and Dr. Isley (Poison Ivy) using their abilities for dramatic charity work have me hooked and the Joker's frustration at not being part of the Legion of Doom has that touch of meta-fictional flavor that works so well with Mr. J.

And Brainiac? I haven't been scared of Brainiac since his appearance in Alan Moore's "The Last Superman Story".

I am now.


Sweet sweet octopus love ... from space!

J'onn J'onnz is a shapeshifter. A lonely shapeshifter, since all the other (non-psychotic) Martians are dead. What does this mean?

That JayJay gets to make it with anyone or anything he can.

Where's the slash fic on THAT little subject, huh?

"Manhunter, how in the name of Rao did you defeat Starro singlehandedly?"
"I spent the night with him and made him my love-slave using the ancient Martian art of Psycho Sutra."
"Whoa, dude; TMI."
"So, no rope or manacle-based bondage was involved?"
"Starfish usually prefer mental domination scenes instead."
"You know, J'onn, Carol Ferris and I are having a little get-together with the Halls next week, and, if you're not doing anything..."
"Mhmph. If anyone wants me, I'll be in my cave..."

Okay, maybe not Starro, because starfish are hermaphroditic or monosexual or something like that. But you get the idea. "J'onn J'onnz, Defender of the Southern Hemisphere"? Sh'yeah, right! I'm betting nobody's Southern Hemisphere is safe when JayJay's around, wink wink.

Photo courtesy of the ever-fabulous Blog de Jotace.

J'onn. Arthur. Topo. Visiting alien space octopi from out of town. Shudder (link courtesy of faithful Joncormier). At least we now have a better understanding of why Aquaman & the Martian Manhunter are such good buddies. Poor Batman; he's the one who has to watch it all when he downloads the black box data from the Watchtower security monitors.

Hmphf. Come to think, Bruce probably likes to watch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Top Five Crisis Makeovers: the Anti-Monitor


2. The Anti-Monitor.


Supergirl's death was inspiring. Oh, yes! The Anti-Monitor (who actually killed her because he was a secret member of the League of Fashion Assassins -- you know, the ones who keep trying to kill Lois Lane -- and Kara, who was wearing a red headband, for crisis's sake, was just asking for it) took one look at the smoldering corpse of the Maid of Might in her tattered primary color costume and thought soberly,

"Mercy, I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit!"

Quickly, he hightailed to Gambi's Tailor Shoppe (with five convenient locations, one in a universe near you!).

"Oh, Paul," he complained, "my outfit is so dated, so ... Kirby! I look like a *sob* ... a DOOMBOT! And that vicious little superperson put holes in it and everything! Besides, I've already been defeated in it once, I simply can't be seen in public in it again!"

Paul Gambi chuckled inwardly; he was long familiar with "Anti M's" fashion insecurities. These universe-destroying dowagers are all alike; so afraid they're unknowingly wearing last millenium's styles...

So Gambi whipped up for Auntie Em something fresh, shiny, bright, capeless! Who knew those old Booster Gold uniforms would come in handy?

"Can't ... move," Em muttered as best as his immovable lower jaw would let him. "But you look fabulous, my anti-matter friend," Gambi replied. "I'll just send the bill..."

Heh heh, Gambi chortled silently. Copied that design from a New Genesis marital aid ... but no one will ever tell him that!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Eight Fabulous Moments in COIE


There are shining gem-like moments in the rubbish that is Crisis on Infinite Earths. Let's do celebrate some!


Vibration is manmade.

As mentioned in a previous post, comic panels don't get much better than Paco's post-Plasmus pop-and-lock performance.

That, by the way, is Vibe's winter outfit. Only time he got to use it. Jack from the Royal Flush Gang bought it at the Estate Sale while I was busy looking for any remaining bikini briefs.



"Back to You, Lana!"

A neanderthal eats Lois Lane's microphone. Naturally, a neanderthal is no more capable of eating a microphone than you or I are, and, given their dental hygiene, it's likely that a neanderthal's teeth would all fall out if he tried to eat even, say, an apple. Maybe he's from Bismoll? The whole thing is so ... Silver Age. It really needs a thought ballon from Lois thinking something like, "That caveman is eating my microphone! He must think it's some sort of unknown fruit! Luckily, it's a remote 'mike' without a cord to a power source, or he might have gotten quite a shock!" Yes, that would be very Silver Age, indeed.


The Creped Crusader

Batman gets covered head to toe in gelatinous mucilage. Batman covered in anything is funny. The goopier, the funnier. And the fact that this is the last thing Barry Allen sees before he dies is hilarious.

Batman actually reaches for his universal solvent from his utility belt, with a close up even. The only thing this panel lacks is voiceover by William Dozier: "Horrors! Batman, pasted, pinned, and powerless! Is our hero finally stuck? Stay glued to your seats until next week; same bat-time, same bat-channel!"


"Shut up, Element Lad."

"Shut up, Element Lad. You don't know anything" is one of the great paragraphs of the English language. For some 30 odd years, Brainaic 5, who with his obscene 12-level intelligence is the smartest being in the 30th (or for that matter any) century, had has to grit his teeth, smile, and treat his brain-dead Legion comrades as if they were equals. This is more ridiculous than my taking my dog's advice on the stock market or asking a parrot what it thinks of the continued relevance of the Michelson-Morley experiments in light of quantum mechanics. Finally, in Crisis, Brainy just can't take it any more. Brainy could have appropriately made that comment to almost any Legionnaire (except Lyle), but it's particularly funny because it's that sappy, New Age, nappy-headed, curd-munching, pacifistic, pink-clad pansy, Element Lad.


The Evil Jonathan Livingston

In this startlingly dadaesque panel, Earth-3 seagulls lament their inability to outfly the antimatter walls and ponder the cruelty of the gull gods.

Meanwhile, the Earth-3 Mark Trail attempts to bury his own head in the sand. Isn't it nice to know that even essentially evil people like the beach?

This is the kind of panel DC needs to reproduce as one of those Inspiration in the Workplace posters. You know -- for evil people. They have offices, too. Probably near yours.


Fetus Marvel

I don't know anyone who thinks Marv Wolfman is funny. That, I assume, is because he isn't. His attempts at flippancy-based wit sound exactly like what a nerd thinks cool people sound like (I wonder whether he knows Joss Whedon?). Just as Archie characters are a child's idea of what teenagers are like, Wolfman's characters are a boring nerd's idea of what interesting hipsters are like.

This classic example,"Fetus Marvel", is such a horribly off-color remark, I'm shocked the editors let Wolfman use it. It's also imbecilic, considering that Beast Boy comes from a universe with Superman, Supergirl, Superdog, Superhorse, Supercat, Supermonkey, Superboy, and the Super-antfarm of Kandor.


The Penguin Vs. Firestorm

In this panel, the Penguin has taken his rightful place among the 30th century's most fearsome villains, the Fatal Five, and is fighting Firestorm (who has godlike powers of molecular reorganization) to a standstill. You go, Pengy.

Eeek!

Blue Devil says "eeek!" when he misplaces T.O. Morrow. It's uncanny; that's exactly what I would say if I misplaced T.O. Morrow.

I really never liked Blue Devil before. But after reading that panel, now I do it; I get it, I finally get Blue Devil.

Blue Devil is, like, Hellboy's gay little brother; I love Blue Devil now.



Any other moments that stand out for you?

Top Five Crisis Makeovers: Batman?!


3. Batman.


Yes. Batman. Oh, it wasn't flashy like the Dr. Light and Firehawk makeovers. And it didn't happen in Crisis on Infinite Earths on panel, but it happened nonetheless.

Let's see what Batman was like during Crisis.



A wide-eyed goober, superpowerless from the waist down AND the waist up.

Sorry, gang. I'd love to blame Wolfman for this, but I can't. That's really how the Bronze Age Batman was.

In the Bronze Age JLA, even Aquaman could hit hard. But useless (Hi, Marv!) Batman mostly got stuck just piloting some Batvehicle. He spent all his time hanging out with -- how do I put this in a loving and supportive way? -- third-rate schmoes. Elongated Man,Metamorpho, the Metal Men, Katana, Halo, GeoForce. Is it any wonder the only constructive thing the Bronze Age Batman could do in Crisis was knock out Calendar Man. Heck, I could knock out Calendar Man. Marsha Mallow could knock out Calendar Man.

DC made a huge deal out of re-starting Superman and Wonder Woman, post-Crisis. Clever bit of misdirection, that. Yeah, Clark and Diana shed lots of their excess backstory in a big hypertime yard sale (I was there, and let me tell you, Alex Ross and Phil Jimenez are vicious little shoppers ....!). But, when you come right down to it, their personalities and costumes stayed nearly identical to their pre-Crisis versions.

But Batman? Well, this is Batman post-Crisis:


And that's before Jason got killed and he started to turn really scary.

The modern age Batman can star simultaneously in 11 different titles, guest-star in 3 others, appear in the second issue of every new series, and alienate the superhero community and the GCPD, while cobbling together a world-threatening omniscient artificial intelligence in his spare time. The post-Crisis Batman is more like the Golden Age one; he can defeat the arsenal of a terrorist country using only a paper clip and a Q-tip, increase voter turn-out through sheer force of will, and automatically cause anyone within a twenty-foot radius to have 34 percent fewer cavities. The modern Batman doesn't stand around uselessly during a Crisis ... he causes it. You show 'em, B-man!

Fooey on all those of you who think you want back the pre-Crisis Batman because this one "is a jerk"; I say you've forgotten what he was like. The post-Crisis Batman was the REAL Sensational Character Makeover of 1986, and don't you forget it!


"I'll get you for this, Scipio! Halo, help me!"

Help From the Experts


My friend Sean Fahey of CHUD needs some help:

Need some help from the pros...

I'm trying to find all of the issues that comprise the
No Man's Land story (including Catalyst and
Aftershock).

I know it's expansive - and runs through Detective,
Batman, Legends, Shadow, and Chronicles.

I also know there were some one-shots and some issues
of Catwoman, Robin, Nightwing and Azreal that touched
on it.

My eternal gratitude for anyone that comes up with a
complete list.


Naturally, Devon, who erreth not, at Seven Hells, came up with the basic list:

Batman 563-569, 571, 572, 573, 574

Batman:Shadow of The Bat 83-88, 92, 93, 94

'Tec 730-736, 738, 739, 740 & 741

Batman:No Man's Land # 0-1

Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight #116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 125, 126

Batman Chronicles 16, 18


But if you know of any other issues in other series that tie directly into No Man's Land, please let Sean know via email at
scfahey@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Riddle Me This ...

Who's the only DCU character who lives on Earth-Prime?

Top Five Crisis Makeovers: Firehawk


4. Firehawk


There are a lot of bad people in Crisis on Infinite Earths: the Crime Syndicate, the Anti-Monitor, the Joker, Sugar & Spike.

But by far the worst is Lorraine Reilly, a.k.a. "Firehawk".

Thousands of universes very much like your own have been destroyed and the culprit is still at large. The five remaining universes are impinging upon one another, causing temporospatial disruptions that have halted quotidian civilization. An unconscious Justice League member has just died by violently exploding in the room next to you while you're on the JLA satellite, destroying a good chunk of it and rupturing the outer hull. Civilians and colleagues are immediately imperiled, and your boyfriend is struggling to save the faithful and much beloved Martian Manhunter, who is nearly dead from the fire. You, fortunately, have godlike powers of molecular reconstruction, as if you were Dr. Manhattan of the Watchmen. What do you do?

Why, design a new costume, silly! AND re-do your hair.

"Look at me, Ronnie,"
she pesters Firestorm, distracting the only other person who could fix the situation.

"Do you like my new outfit? I copied the design from the side of a landrover I saw in Arizona on winter break. Do you think it draws too much attention to my breast, tee-hee? Am I prettier than Killer Frost now? Did you notice how my cuffs match my hair?"

I mean, how bad is it when even Ronnie Raymond, the only person ever to lose a Scrabble game against Lana Lang, notices that your behavior is idiotically inappropriate?

And still the outfit is hideous.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Crisis on Infinite Haikuesdays

Despite being hundreds of pages long, there is no heroic haiku in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The stuttering, self-pitying, sob-sisters of the Wolfmanverse do not speak thus.

There is, however, haiku of uselessness, ignorance, and doubt. Marv loves those.



"I do not know what
happened here ... do not know who
any of them were--"


Exactly the kind of pathetic, haltering haiku you'd expect from Pariah, one of the most fittingly named characters in comic book history.

PLEASE tell me you can do better than Pariah or at least make fun of him in haiku, so we can get SOME entertainment out of COIE!

Top Five Crisis Makeovers: Dr. Light

5. Dr. Light

As soon as vicious emasculating astrophysibitch Dr. Kimoyo Hoshi makes her grand entrance brandishing a sharp-edged clipboard of doom, you know she's got the makings of a great villain:

"Silence, you miserable toad."

Way to keep those boot-licking post-docs in line, Kim! Best thing is, she doesn't even waste an exclamation point on the verbal squashing, and this is in COIE, where people say, "Pass the salt -- now, before it's ... too late!" Clearly, lines like "silence, you miserable toad" fall off her teeth-baring lips as easily as "hey, guys" does off ours.

After getting light-based powers, she'd have been perfect as the new archenemy of the Golden Age Starman; she's even got the right nom de guerre. But no. She's just another living plot point for Wolfman, a mechanism for showing that Supergirl's death is inspiring.

Didn't stick, of course. She remained a bitter, reluctant hero, burdened by her powers and a perfect candidate for a Character Donation to Marvel. As a result, no one really liked her and, if you ask me, the JLA mindwiped the wrong Dr. Light. When the real Dr. Light finally showed up to close her like his Christmas Savings Account of power, readers were more relieved than outraged.

But the new outfit, her own version of the classic black & white Dr. Light uniform? So stylish, so elegant; slimming, too. Lose the silly Scarlet Witch tiara and she'd be a stunner walking the red carpet to the Eisners, holding on to Sunburst's arm.

Riddle Me This


Why is it that

DC's funniest villain, the Joker, is the scariest villain in comics

and

Marvel's scariest villain, Dr. Doom, is the funniest villain in comics?


Discuss.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ambushed!

This just in from the world of Heroclix!

The following figures are confirmed as being in the forthcoming "Collateral Damage" set of DC Heroclix.

Doctor Mid-Nite [much anticipated!]
Clayface (in the animated style) [as he's now being portrayed in the normal DCU]
Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) [with hair-gelling action!]
Mary Marvel [Shazam!]
Kalibak [Zzzzzzzz...]
Superman (but which is unknown) [not a silly Elseworlds again, I hope]
Azrael [*sigh*]
Ambush Bug [FREAKING INSANE! Good for you, DC! Are Sugar & Spike pogs inevitable now?]
OMAC (generic) [the one generic people will be THRILLED to pull!]
Captain Cold (Calculator Team) [no "Rogues Ability" I guess!"
Dr. Light (the JLA villain) [COOL!]
Captain Boomerang (Owen) (Unique) [The Rogues expand!]
Ragman [Wild! The 'new Swamp Thing', I suppose.]
Black Mask [Someone for Director Bones to go shopping with]

Zowie! I like the looks of it so far. While I'm no fan of Ambush Bug -- never have been, never will be -- his inclusion in the set sends a strong signal of the "new DC" attitude: we don't WHAT it is, if it's in the DCU, we will give it love... and maybe you will, too!

COIE: The Death Game!



Life's a game, it has been said; so, why not death?

Again, without looking it up, how many of the named characters who were killed (regardless of whether they stayed dead) in Crisis on Infinited Earths can you remember?

Here, I'll even give you a helpful start....

Supergirl
Flash (Barry Allen)....


Sunday, October 16, 2005

COIE: the Wavering Self-Doubt Game!

COIE Games: the Wavering Self-Doubt Game!

"I... I don't know if I can handle this game;
what if my mental powers are not up to the task? I'm so scared!"



As you'll recall, Wavering Self-Doubt is one for the four allowable types of statement in Marv Wolfman's Crisis on Infinite Earths. Without looking it up, can you figure out which characters spoke or thought the following examples of Wolfmanesque Wavering Self-Doubt?

1. "With all my powers ... I can't save any of them. I ... feel so useless."

2. "I use to revel in my powers, but when I need them the most -- they're useless. It's ironic, isn't it?"

3. "I can do nothing more than cry."

4. "Instead of saving the earth, I could be committing suicide!"

5. "It's begun and I ... I can't even help."

6. "Can I fight them? Or could they destroy me?"


7. "I'm way outta my league. So what in blazes do I do about it?"


8. "Monitor, why us? Surely there are others with greater powers!"


9. "How did this happen without
my knowing about it?"

10. "Now I feel so useless, so helpless, so worthless -- and so very, very scared."


11. "I keep getting these feelings. Feelings that say bad things are happening ... and even if they never get any better-- they're sure going to get a heckuva lot worse!"


12. "But it's
useless, none of us has the power to stop it."

13. "I ... I was useless before ... now I'm helpless, too."


14. "And I wonder, am I playing a game meant for young folk only?"


15. "It will take time to recharge ... I ... I can't do anything now."


16. "I ... I don't understand any of this!"


17. "I .. I haven't got long before I'm powerless to stop it. Trouble is, I know what's going to happen to me if I'm successful."


18. "I -- I feel like I don't belong on that earth. I belong elsewhere. I belong out here ... in the void ... in this nothingness."


19. "I'm using
all my atomic force, but it's useless against him."

20. "You want me to absorb a sun's energy? I -- I don't know if I can."

COIE: The Name Game!

Let's find some games in COIE; that might produce enough fun to distract us from the blood seeping from the corner of our eyes as a result of reading Wolfman's prose.

Here's a trivia quiz...


The characters the Flash talks to in the first panel and saves in the final panel do not get their names mentioned (unlikely virtually every other character who appears). Who are they?