Saturday, September 02, 2006

Raised Eyebrows

Marc Singer has an exceedingly perceptive review of the latest issue of All-Star Superman that I encourage you to read, if for no other reason than his clever use of the word "supercilious".

Speaking of that issue, are you assuming, as I am, that the Parasite's impromptu "snacking" on Superman-in-disguise will turn out to be the solution to Superman's potentially fatal overcharge...?

The Return of Professor Radium

He's a lean, mean, green, poisoning machine. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for...

PROFESSOR RADIUM

You can't tell from the picture, but the green paint on Prof. R is phosphorescent, meaning he glows slightly in natural light and glows a LOT in black light. Heroclix is best played under black light, I think.

Professor Radium is a fan fave here at the Absorbascon, and so did suprisingly well in the Heroclix Custom Poll.

Not so lucky was ...

AMOS FORTUNE



Poor Amos Fortune. For a guy whose power is luck, he never seems to get a break, whether he's getting his face melted off by Plasmus, falling out a plane, or being written by Steve Englehart. He even took last place in our poll. But that's okay, Pudge; we love ya like we love Charlie Brown.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hey, Kids! Look...

It's the Joker riding a giant cock!

Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Finale

The finale of "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" has aired; others have seen it but I have not, and I'm about to watch my recording of it. At this point, I feel I can speak more fully about the elimination of Major Victory. And it ain't gonna be pretty.

FEEDBACK

"Spider-Man helped me become an adult?" Huh. That would explain the continual tone of whining self-pity; where's the wisecracks?
"From the time I was five, I wanted to be a superhero."
"This is the culmination my entire life has been building toward."
"I'm living a dream come true."
"I've idolized Stan Lee and he's the man I looked up to since I was a kid."

YEESH! Get a room already, fanboy.

Sugar-coat it all you want, but Feedback's reasons for wanting to be the final contestant are entirely selfish. It's all about his childhood abandonment issues and his insecurities. Unlike Fat Momma and the Martyred Saint Major Victory, there is no motivation to reach out to others, no message in his story to inspire anyone else. Why should there be? It's all about Feedback wanting to feel better about himself. As a result of his self-centeredness, Feedback inspires no one. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the school visit. Major Victory engaged and entertainment; Fat Momma taught and inspired; Feedback just talked about himself. His greatest triumph was in the Prison Challenge which he won by ... being pathetic and talking about himself.

Actually, I take that back: Feedback did inspire: he inspired pity. Repeatedly. From Stan. From the Big Bad Prisoner/Actor. From Fat Momma. How bad is it when Fat Momma finds you pitiful?

Don't get me wrong; I don't dislike Feedback. He seems like a nice, sincere, yet functionally emotionally disturbed person. But I don't like him, and I don't really know anyone else who does either. I don't want a pitiful hero.

I'd read a comic with Major Victory or Fat Momma in it. Feedback #1? ZZZzzzzzzzz. What's it going to be; 22 pages of Feedback's inner monologue on abandonment as he fumbles with his gloves?

Feedback; you are tall, handsome, strong, intelligence, and you have a lovely wife in desperate need of tonsorial support. Feel good about yourself, stop seeking Daddy Stan's approval, go home where you belong and help your wife rebleach her hair.


FAT MOMMA

On some level, I adore Fat Momma. She has a maternal quality most people enjoy. I can easily imagine hanging out with her and having fun, something I can't manage for all the other contestants. Can you imagine hanging out with Tyveculus or the Iron Enforcer? I mean, without a sling being involved?

But I seen her Evil and her Weakness, and they are not things I want in my superheroes. The bitter recriminations after Tyveculus was eliminated. The selfish begging that she not be eliminated during the Sacrifice Challenge. Her abandonment of the Villain Hunt to traipse around scarfing up other people's food. If you wanted to eliminate someone who didn't take being a superhero seriously enough, Stan, you should have chosen her instead of Major Victory.

Her usual message of self-acceptance is not a bad one. But there's not much of self-improvement in it, is there? And, as I've mentioned before many times in my "DC vs. Marvel" tirades, I don't want heroes who make me feel better about who I am (a la Marvel); I want heroes who inspire me to better myself (a la DC). I don't want heroes who view their abilities as burdensome responsibilities (a la Marvel) but as wonderful opportunities (a la DC). I don't want as my heroes Fat Momma and Feedback; I want Major Victory.


MAJOR VICTORY

What cannot be said in praise of Major Victory? Well, truth be told, Stan's final criticism of Major Victory was not wrong. At times, I, too, was annoyed but Major Victory's tendency to spoil even his finest moments by being goofy. But is that a flaw in Major Victory ... or in me?

Major Victory never took himself seriously, but he always took the challenges seriously, conquering all of them and making it look easy in the process. His principal stumble was during the Secret Identity Challenge, where he succumbed a bit to vanity. I don't mind my heroes being a bit vain; they almost having to be to do their jobs. But I do mind their being self-centered ... like Fat Momma and Feedback.


FINALE

I've been very impressed by Stan Lee during most of the shows. He acted as an avuncular yet firm enforcer of standard heroic values. But at the end, he showed his Marvel viewpoint by eliminating the one contestant who made being a superhero seem fun, the one who made others feels good; instead, he embraced the two who made being a superhero seem like a desperate personal need or burdensome obligation.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Visit MySpace

Okay, I'm not sure I entirely understand this, but I'll do it anyway...

Big Monkey Comics has a, um, "space" at MySpace. I'm told this means something to The Young People Who Need To Get Off My Lawn.

Anyway, all the Little Monkeys at the store put it together as way of helping Friends of the Big Monkey connect. What do I know? I still use postcards.



A lot of Devon's many friends in the comic book industry have become "Friends of the Big Monkey": Cameron Stewart, Brad Meltzer, Dennis Culver, Mike Wieringo, Tara McPherson, Marc Andreyko, Allen Heinberg, Brian Wood, Todd Nauck, Justin Gray, Cully Hammer, Matt Silady, Sean Dulaney, Warren Ellis, Brad Walker, Robert Kirkman, Talent Caldwell, Jim Trabold, Elizabeth Genco, Brian K. Vaughn, Caleb Monroe, Eric Johnson, Andy Smith, Geoff Johns, Len Kody, Jon Favreau, George Khoury, A. David Lewis, R.D. Hall, Joe Infurnari, Danielle Corsetto, Dwight MacPherson, Jason Rodriguez, Ed Brubaker, Aaron McGruder, and probably some I just didn't notice.

I don't have one these "MySpace" thingies 'cuz the nice people at Witness Relocation won't let me. But the Big Monkey Comics space is close enough, so I'd like it if all of you who regularly read (and enjoy) this blog would pop on over and "befriend" Big Monkey Comics at MySpace.

And tell them the Rolling Head of Rambo sent you!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clean House. Please.

You know what my favorite television show is? You might be surprised.

It's Clean House, hands down. No question.

If you've never see the show, it goes like this. People whose homes and lives are overwhelmed with clutter and disarray call for help, and are descended upon by brassy diva Niecy Nash and her trio of expert fixer-uppers. They cajole, wheedle, shame, and bribe the homeowners into unclutching their crap, then (in unparalled hypocrisy so achingly beautiful it brings tears to my eyes) unload it onto other people at a yardsale, whose proceeds contribute to the redecoration of their homes.

On every show, these people -- who, remember, have called Clean House knowing darned well what they do -- stand around shocked and in denial about the very crap that forced them to call, saying things like:

  • "Those dolls are my babies."
  • "But I love that broken sewing machine!"
  • "My grandma gave me that macaroni."
  • "That's a project I'm planning on working on."
  • "I paid good money for that in 1987!"
  • "Do you know how hard that is to find?"
  • "Oh, but I collect bread bags."
  • "That phone book has sentimental value."
  • "I'm saving that for my children."

It. Is. Tragic. One does not "love" things. One loves people. One loves dogs. Not cats, of course; cats are evil. But you get the idea; do not love anything that cannot, at least in theory, love you back.

"That's nice, Scipio; what does any of that have to do with comic books?"

Quite a lot, actually.

First, there's the cluttered home that is the DCU (or, really, any publisher's "universe" over time). Every once in a while, the accumulated baggage has to be evaluated, sorted through, and prioritized. One must retain the essential, jettison the extraneous, and repurpose the salvageable. Closet room is made for new colorful characters, literary rooms are furnished with new plots, and the carcasses of broken-down crossovers are cleared from the yard.

Those housecleanings can be rough. Even a "Clean House" fanatic like me can cling tightly to purposeless continuity tchotchkis, blinded to how refreshing a clean literary house can be. But I try to remember that all the clutterbugs on the show who actually trust the experts to do their stuff are always -- ALWAYS -- delighted with the results (and even if the specifics of the design aren't perfect, the streamlined living space is a refreshing new start). Well, not always; there was the legendary Judge Dragon from the first season, but she was obviously seriously disturbed and clearly not an appropriate model of behavior.

Second, there's the cluttered homes our comic books find themselves in. When I meet new people and they learn of my interests, they usually say, "Oh, so you collect comic books?"

I always say the same thing: "No. I just read them."

If you watch a lot of Clean House (and I do; I TiVo it; I burn it to DVD; I watch it on the laptop while sunning at the beach), you'll notice that the word group "collect / collection / collectible" crops up FREQUENTLY. It's the ultimate red flag and the Clean House crew never fails to swoop down mercilessly on these pointless "collections" of frisbees, shot glasses, soccer balls, and salt-&-pepper shakers.

Starting about 10 years ago, I started purging my accumulated back issues every couple of years. Without looking at anything within the boxes, I mentally pick out some things I want to keep, pull them out, and farm out the rest.

The first time I did, I advertised the bulk of my collection as being for sale. A young couple came to check it out. As the husband (the real buyer, of course) looked through the books, his eyes spun pinwheels as he marveled at a literal myriad of stories he'd never heard of. They were young; they were poor; they couldn't afford more than a third of what I was asking for.

But they got it all anyway. The opportunity to share the joy those old stories had given me with someone who cared about the DCU as much as I do -- I couldn't put a value on that.

Another time, instead of selling them, I donated all but a few choice ones to a local charity, a home for children with AIDS. It's tax deductible, you know.

Last time, I forfeited them to the Big Monkey E-bay store to help jumpstart the business. I'll probably be doing that again soon. I'll pick out a few things to save, like my Detroit League run; I mean, it's not like that's going to be in trade paperback any time soon. But the rest of everything else "pre-Infinite Crisis" will go out to give someone else pleasure.

I've got enough to do reading my new comics without pretending that I'm going to go back and spend time re-reading my "collection".

PLEASE. Consider selling, donating, or giving away your old comics to help perpetuate our hobby. Besides; you deserve a Clean House.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heads Will Roll!

It would be remiss of me not to make some comment on the first issue of Justice League of America, one of DC's most anticipated events.

While I certainly didn't enjoy the issue as much as H of Comic Treadmill, it was engaging. I don't like Brad's writing of the Big Three; it reeks of fan fic. And if he's trying to show that the Big Three are friends, he's hiding it pretty well; above all, friends should share respect for one another, not the eye-rolling indulgence that seems to infuse their interactions in Brad's writing. Brad read too much Marvel growing up, I think, and while there are few people I know who love DC's character's more than he, his idea of writing them as realistic adults is colored by 'the Marvel Way'. Read Identity Crisis again and pretend it's a Marvel book; you'll see immediately what I mean.

Brad, if you're reading this, no offense, man; you know I love ya, and I'll see you soon on the DC trip.

But as much as I don't love his writing of 'greater' characters, whom he humanizes to their detriment, I do love his writing of 'lesser' characters, whom he humanizes to their betterment. In the case of the Red Tornado, the humanization is literal and I'm delighted. I've never been interested in the Red Tornado, a tragic Marvel rip-off if ever there was one, and a nearly obscene bastardization of a Golden Age character. But Brad has changed that for me in one issue, and that's impressive, simply by removing the stereotypical qualities that RT had always been reduced to: he's a robot and he blows up a lot.

Speaking of robots, he writes the Metal Men beautifully. They aren't ridiculous cartoons, but they aren't really complete people either. They're basically intelligent creatures, but their range and focus is more limited then ours; they're not simple, just simpler. Platinum, for example, can't just "get over" Doc Magnus or even understand why her love is futile; it's not in her nature. I suppose ... the Metal Men are sort of like dogs.

As for humans, well, he's nailed Vixen (but, then again, who hasn't?). More interestingly, he's found a unique angle for Black Lightning that not only gives him exciting story possibilities but still harkens back to his origins as a 'hero of the street'. Bravo on that one, Brad.

And Brad knows how to write villians, too. While Gail Simone has probably done the most for revitalizing DC's villains, Brad started the trend brilliantly in Identity Crisis and is obviously continuing it in JLA. I'm happy finally to see "Dr. Impossible" in person, a character I knew was in the works (I actually suggested that name...!) and who seems a lot cooler than I was expecting.

So to celebrate Dr. Impossible and the rolling heads of the Metal Men...



Model Gold: Offline.
Model Platinum: Offline.
Alarm engag-ed.

Okay, so I had to cheat to get the last line to work; it was worth it. How many opportunities for Head Rolling Haiku does one get?

Does this robot decapitation inspire any haiku from you?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Friends! Readers! Comic Fans! Lend me your eyes!

I come to bury Major Victory, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interréd with their bones,
So let it be with Major Victory. The noble Stan Lee
Hath told you Major Victory was parodic:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Victory answered it….

Here, under leave of Stan Lee and the rest,
(For Stan Lee is an honourable man;
So are all the contestants; all honourable men and women)
Come I to speak in Major Victory's valedictory….
He was my hero, faithful and just to me:
But Stan Lee says he was parodic;
And Stan Lee is an honourable man….

He hath brought many screencaps to my home,
Whose rafters did with general laughter fill:
Did this in Major Victory seem parodic?
When that the other contestants have cried, Major Victory hath wept:
Parody should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Stan Lee says he was parodic;
And Stan Lee is an honourable man.

You all did see that on the canine chase,
the lost child, the burning building, all of
Which he did thrice conquer: was this parody?
Yet Stan Lee says he was parodic;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Stan Lee spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the TiVo there with Major Victory,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hex Sign

There are few people I know whose opinions about superhero comics I give as much weight as, well, my own. And only two would I could safely classify in any way as "Marvel fans". Devon, of course, is one.

This is the other:Although he seldom actually bursts into song,
Jonnie likes to keep three backup singers around, just in case...



That guy is the front is "Jon Hex", a frequent commenter here. He has a blog--well, it's one of those LiveJournal thingies, but I guess that counts. Check it out; it's good; Jon is wise.