Saturday, February 10, 2007

Largely Uninformed Rant

Oh, dear. I got a notice from the Comic Bloggers Union, informing me that I'm too upbeat, as demonstrated by my failure to meet the annual rant quota. If I don't rant this weekend, I'll be cast out. Oh, dear. What can I rant about?

Goody! Here's something. Yes, while Devon is getting shout-outs from Entertainment Weekly, I'm getting dissed on Newsarama. All is vetch and bitter wormwood.

I think that Scipio hates everything published since the Silver Age that doesn’t have Vibe in it.

I think that Scipio’s opinion, when it comes to comics, is largely an uninformed one, since he tends to appreciate one type of approach to one genre of comics from one publisher


Honestly, now. Anyone who can think that first sentence either can't be reading this blog or simply can't read. I was largely uninformed that people had become so cripplingly literal; or has the internet merely shone a light on the benighted corners of fandom?

As for the second ... well! Frankly, I can't remember anyone ever calling me largely uninformed about anything, let alone comic books. And if I am largely uninformed about something, well, just give me 24 hours to fix that.

I'm always astonished by the presumption of people who ascribe differences in tastes from their own to ignorance. I may not like the comics you (or someone else) likes, but that's probably because I am familiar with them, not because I'm unfamiliar with them. My self-depiction here as a "Marvel innocent" is a useful device for my character as "author of the Absorbascon", but I'm not "largely uniformed" about comics other than the ones I discussed. Apparently, some people are too literal to realize that, so I must 'break character' and explain it to them.

I'll admit I'm no Devon, but, really, how many comic book stores do I have to own for someone to imagine that I might know a bit more than what happened in 52 this week? [Which reminds me; any explanation of how Steel's temporary superpower of being steel-covered managed to affect his artificial hand, as well?]

Oh, and apparently my opinion is to be discounted because my tastes are narrow. Well, I don't like everything or even most things; but, honestly, anyone who does probably isn't very discriminating. Like anyone whose opinion is of any value, I have my own aesthetic, one that's broad for me to appreciate Iranian feminist cinema, Latin poetry, Hamiltonian political theory, Chinese art, and Beavis & Butthead. I loved Beavis & Butthead. How much art is created that conforms to that aesthetic isn't really up to me, but to the world's creators.

What I find most disturbing about this dismissal is not the concept, but the context: the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Honestly, I'm not sure why I need a subscription to Spider-Man and a copy of Blankets on my nightstand to validate my opinions on Wonder Woman. I'm one of the contributors to a forthcoming anthology about her; mightn't that do?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Supersongs


Newer readers here might not be familiar with Big Monkey Comics Radio, which Big Monkey Comics maintains for you as a public service.

It's an on-line streaming "radio station" with over 200 songs about superheroes and comic books. I guarantee, no matter who you are, it's got something on it you've never heard before.

Our latest additions (today) are as follows.

  • The delightfully sampled number from B.O.S.E., "Batman Hip-Hop".
  • "Wonder Woman" by J. Segel.
  • Yes, "Batman" can be an adjective, at least according to Mars Lasar's "You're So Batman".
  • If you like your "Wonder Woman" with a bit of Middle Eastern flair, make sure to listen to the Baghdaddies version.
  • Zen Boy addresses his ballad to "Wonder Woman" but Tim Erskine gave us the "Batman Ballad" instead.
  • For all our Colombian friends, we're happy to provide "La Cumbia de Batman". Yes, really.
  • And how could your week be complete without at least one hearing of that punk classic "I Saw Batman In the Launderette" from the Shapes?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

Honestly, virtually everything has been making me happy in my comics lately. I mean how many weeks do you get to see the Supercar ... twice? How often does a fellow blogger make a contribution to Green Arrow's Rogue's Gallery like the Hideous Closet Pastry?


Best moment of the week? Lots to choose from, but one hands-down winner:


Skeets and Speedy fighting Dr. Polaris with a yo-yo.


I mean, unless the Phantom Stranger shows up with Vibe in tow, there's really no way anything gets better than that. Although later in the story, Speedy does manage to stop Dr. Polaris from hurling the earth into the sun, armed with nothing more than a stonehead arrow from Hawkgirl's bedroom and Booster's familiarity with the Battle of Agincourt. That's a close second to the yo-yo thing.

The story give us not only a Booster Gold who is a scholar/athlete but also a nice spin on Polaris's portrayal, an ingenius twist of his traditional dual personality. DC doesn't really need an "Ultimates" line, folks, just more of you buying its "animated" titles.


This month's Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters continues its patented brand of lunacy and I love every panel of it, like this one where Uncle Sam defeats his enemies armed with nothing more than the truth, the power of the media, and size 412 shoes.

This image makes me feel so ... warm.
Hot, really. God, I love my country.


Elsewhen, Palmiotti & Gray freshen up Jonah Hex with the introduction of a new character: Tallulah Black, the Woman Wronged. We like her. If Jonah's new spunky "sidekick" isn't enough, the story's also a bouquet of little moments like Xtreme FGM, dynamitic decapitation, little girls breaking men's necks, and shoe-shopping with Jonah Hex. Really, I don't why Western comics aren't more popular.

52 gave us the wonderful and long-brewing donnybrook between Lex Luthor and John Irons, representatives of the Worst and Best of humanity. We also get giant crabs (um ... in the story, I mean), Osiris's interesting quest, and a lovely reminder (so rare in comics) that you really can die from falling two or three stories, leaving you just as dead as if you'd been incinerated by a megarod.

I really like the new Sargon the Sorceror, even if he is rather a Starbellied Sneech. Using his haircut to evoke the original's turban is a darned clever design touch. And he has a nice sense of humor when it comes to killing people ironically. I mean, the Spectre's the master at it, but you just know he never really gets the joke. DC: I want to see Sargon again, please. If possible, on a shopping trip with the new Black Condor and the Phantom Stranger.



Do NOT miss the Annual of Action Comics. Not only it is full of little vignettes and stories that fill holes in the Superman storyline but also the kind of fun stuff that's been missing from comics too long, such as overviews of the Fortress of Solitude, Kryptonite colors, and Superman's rogues galleries. This comic is everything an Annual should be. Thank you, DC.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil is wonderful; do yourself a favor and buy it (which I only did because Devon made me). I understand now why Jeff Smith is so acclaimed. Somehow, it is both as terrifyingly creepy as Captain Marvel can be and as winningly innocent as Captain Marvel should be. Finally, a book I can read along with children; I simply must go and rent some!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Tracy!"

Okay, I don't mean to obsess on the Wonder Woman movie, but when a man of my stripe lies in bed at night thinking about what he'd do with Wonder Woman, I think it's culturally significant.

Regardless of what one does with her character, there is one sure way to ensure the success of the film: the right villain. Thus, let us a look for a moment at Wonder Woman foes like Dr. Psycho, the Cheetah, Ares, the Silver Swan, the Yellow Peri, Paula Van Gunther, and Giganta.

And then tell them to sit this one out.

It's obvious who needs to be the villain in this film. Wonder Woman's most fabulous foe, the reason god put Bob Kanigher on earth, DC's answer to Dr. Doom:



I mean, really; must I spell things like this out for Hollywood, or what?


There are three steps to box-office boffo for WW The Movie:
  1. Use Dr. Domino as the villain.
  2. Have him, at some point, launch a missile at Manhattan (that'll get Marvel fans to the theaters).
  3. Cast the right voice as Dr. Domino.

Uh-oh. I need help on this one. Not just anyone can be the voice of Dr. Domino. I know this first-hand, because this very panel was in last year's "Dramatic Reading Contest" at Big Monkey. And when they cast that Person From TV With the Whiny-Snarky Voice as Dr. Doom, it didn't help the FF movie (which was still fabulous, because Marvel knows better than to take its film project pretentiously seriously; that's for their comics).

So help Hollywood get this film off the ground and keep it flying;

WHO SHOULD BE THE VOICE OF DR. DOMINO
in The Wonder Woman Movie?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Whedonless Woman

Usually I try to stay above the fray in any controversy that I myself am not causing. But the ouster of Joss Whedon is too good to pass up.

My position is: there is a god, and his name is Zeus.

Let me set aside for a moment that I can't stand Whedon's work or understand its appeal. Whedon's been unable to figure out what he wants the script to do and who he wants to play Wonder Woman. He didn't want her in her traditional costume or fighting any of her traditional villains. Basically, Whedon wanted a big movie, but didn't really want to make one about Wonder Woman. And apparently this isn't merely my assessment, but Whedon's as well, since he admitted in exit interviews that after a while, the whole pairing of him with the project just didn't seem to be working on either end.

I'm glad, at least, that everyone realized this now, because as bad as a cancelled wedding is, it's not as bad as a bad marriage (Batman and Robin) or a divorce (Superman II).

But this leaves me (and probably lots of other people) with lots of questions. Will this delay the project or did WB already have a new boyfriend waiting in the wings? What should the feel of a Whedonless Wonder Woman be, now that we are free of the specter of Diana The Monster Slayer? Would Congress pass a Pro-Human Cloning Bill if it were limited to Linda Carter?

My feeling is that too much anxiety is wasted on trying to make Wonder Woman "fit" in a real world context, as Batman does in his new movies. How do you make a big Amazon women in a majorette's 4th O'July outfit "fit"? Answer: you don't.

To me, that's the glory of Wonder Woman. She's totally out of place, completely out of context ...

and she doesn't care a whit.

Everything she does seems perfectly natural to her, and that's what makes it okay for you. Really weird, but still okay. That's how Linda Carter pulled it off.

Remember, when Messner-Leobs had Diana working at Taco Whiz? Yes, that was odd. But what I remember most about it was that (for me) she lost none of her dignity in doing so and saw nothing odd about what she was doing. And when questioned about it, her response was something to the effect of "What could be more noble than helping people feed themselves?" Good for you, WW!

Batman? Superman? Nice guys, good guys, but basically kind of uptight. Wonder Woman? Free as a bird and never breaks a sweat about making the tough calls, whether they involve snapping someone's neck, slaying the Hydra, or offering to supersize your meal.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Zod's Naughty Doggies


If thou are not reading Krypto the Superdog, I call thee "fool".


When I saw my email from Big Monkey about what was coming out this week, I thought, "Gosh, should I really be getting 'Krypto', some goofy comic for little kids?"

Yeah. I actually think "gosh". It's just one of the things that happens to you when you read lots of Golden Age comics.

Well, I enjoy all my comics this week, a lot. But I think I enjoyed Krypto as much as all of them combined. How could this be?

If you read this month's issue (a brilliant riff on Superman II), you'd know.

Remember when I said the evil Kryptonians banished to the Phantom Zone had cats? Well, some of them also had dogs.

BEHOLD THE DOGS OF ZOD!
This single panel contains more concentrated Evil than the Collected Preacher and more Four-Color Fabulousness than the Complete Works of Jeph Loeb.

Evil Kryptonian dogs. In purple capes. And facial hair. Well, I mean, more facial hair. Now, I would have been content if "Growl", "Snarl" and "Snap" had been their names. Of course, I realize now that that's silly; it's legally impossible to do that, since that's the name of the three gremlins on the box of Earth-3 Rice Krispies. So, in fact, their names are "Dom", "Vilea", and "Tronk", which automatically tells you everything you need to know about them collectively and individually; it's a masterpiece of canine introposition. I'm willing to bet that you, like I, are so immediately swept away by this Silver Age tsunami of a panel that you knew immediately that, rules of pronunciation be damned, that second name is "VILE - UH", not "vill AY uh". Because "VILE-UH" is an evil name.

Naturally, the Science Council turns to Jor-El, because they are established weenies and he's a Man of Scientific Action. That old saying "if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" must be Kryptonian, I think, because Jor-El's is -- what else? -- to rocket them into outer space. That's Jor-El's solution to everything. A monkey flings poo at you? Rocket him into outer space! Your kid's dog whizzes on your K-Pod? Rocket him into outer space! Catch Van-Zee leering at Lara behind your back? Rocket him into outer space! For people who never left their own planet, the Kryptonians have an awful lot of rockets lying around.

Can you imagine how annoying it would be to work with Jor-El?
"Okay, everyone, let's figure out how to deal with the opposing lobbyists on the Hill--"
"Rocket them into outer space!'
"Uh, yeah, Jorry, we can't really do that, and Congress would never--"
"Rocket them, too!"
"To say nothing of the press."
"Into outer space! All of them!"
"New rule, Jorry: decaf only."
Anyway, so, Jor-El, who is not only single-minded but condescending, rockets them into outer space with a wicked nasty pun.
"Sirius?" "Completely."

Peter David, eat your heart out. "Sirius/completely" is now my second favorite pun, surpassed only by "Sir, you're back!"/"Yes, she almost broke it!"

Naturally, since it's a Jor-El plan, something goes wrong and the dogs wind up later on Earth. Because Jor-El's the kind of co-worker who, long after he's been retired or fired, is still responsible for messes that pop up on your desk years later.
"What do you mean, only the designer has the access codes? Call him."
"Um... he's in the Phantom Zone and his cell gets no signal there."
"Then wipe the damn thing and reinstall it."
"We need the original crystal memory shard for that."
"Don't tell me: SOMEone rocketed it into outer space..."
"Speaking of which... I think I figured out what happened to the office copy of The Collected Wisdom of the Six Known Galaxies... ."

So the Three Naughty Doggies show up on Earth, like everything else fleeing Krypton; when the heck did when give them TPS?

This is where they discover they have superpowers when on earth. At this point, I'll skip my "how do dogs, who have extremely little exposed skin, soak up solar energy?" lecture, because it's too geeky. But I will admit that my first thought upon seeing this panel was, "Oh, Tronk can't talk, like the big guy in Superman II; huh, I wonder why he can't talk." You know that the tsunami has hit and that you're completely submerged in Silver Age logic when you don't notice you're automatically thinking things like, "I wonder why that dog can't talk."

Now I'll skip the scene where they whup Streaky the Supercat's hinie, mostly because I've already sent that out to be framed. The real action comes when they catch up with Krypto and his family in Tahiti on vacation, where Krypto's human gets his family to safety by convincing them that there's an impending -- wait for it -- tsunami. Ain't that the truth.

The phrase "This is your hairless one? Perhaps after I've defeated you, I'll make him my pet" is a clever reference to a similar scene in Superman II. It's also extremely useful at the bars and I've already said it three times this weekend.

So, Krypto does his Linda Carter-esque superspin into costume:

If there's anything better than evil Kryptonian superdogs in purple capes and more facial hair it's snarky evil Kryptonian superdogs in purple capes and more facial hair. I didn't get to say, "Special effects and capes; how quaint" this weekend, but I did hear a 6'3" drag queen say it, which was even better.

At this point, we not only get to see that Kryptonian dogs have opposable thumbs (because THAT's how advanced the Kryptonians were), we get to hear one the Greatest Lines of All Time.

"Bow down to me, Pet of Jor-El!" Priceless.

All ends well. Our heroes trick the Three Naughty Dogs of Zod with some kryptonite and then handle them in the only sensible way:

Rocket them in outer space.

BUT WAIT, there's more.

The issue has a back-up story, in which Krypto the Superdog teams up with Ace the Bathound against the Joker's hyenas, Bud & Lou. Why?

Because Batman asked for their help.

Now, THAT is a Batman I can adore.

It's clever, plot-driven story, in which the Joker is trying use his pets to lure Batman out of town, and the dog heroes are trying to make it look as if he has, including lots of scenes where Ace disguises himself as Batman. No, that's not stupid; trust me, it works. I'm completely Sirius.

See for yourself.

No, he's not really driving. But I love that they let you think for a moment that he is.

Ace isn't driving; it's just Krypto the flying dog carrying the Batmobile using his superstrength. Phew! Good; for a moment I thought the writers were asking us to believe the impossible!

Don't dismiss something like Krypto just because it's "written for kids". Some of the best comics were, you know.

So, if thou are not reading Krypto the Superdog, I call thee "fool". And so does this guy: