Saturday, March 07, 2015

Aquaman and the Others

Well, Aquaman & The Others has ended.


Prisoner of War must smell like a platoon of dead guys.


No one is more interested in Aquaman getting his due than I.  So I was very excited for him to get a second title.  He'd never had a second title. Heck, usually he doesn't have a FIRST title.

There are many ways they could have gone with a second Aquaman title.  It could have been an extra-continuity anthology title or an alter-continuity 'for-fun' title; that's worked well, for example, with Wonder Woman, who has one of each (Sensation and Wonder Woman '77).  Imagine a title where you could still read stories about Sub Diego, or Thanatos, or even A.J. Curry; imagine a title where you could watch the Marine Marvels  and Tusky take on Queen Vassa or the Lizard People.  


Or The Brain AND HIS NONSTOP HIGH-PITCHED SHRIEKING


But DC is interested in consolidating Aquaman's brand, not diversifying it.


That's why they choose an actor who looks as much like Aquaman as possible. 


So it makes sense that they would try to establish him as a leader on his own, independent of his royalty.  One can only suppose the model for Aquaman & The Others was Batman & The Outsiders: iconic hero leading a loose group of new or secondary characters with no common background.  It probably wasn't the best model to choose...

The Outsiders were not there to make Batman seem cool or become popular.  Batman defines both those terms already.  He was there to increase their visibility and street cred.  And even that didn't work well.  Metamorpho and Black Lighting, both of whom had history, power, and pedigree to be on better teams (such as the Doom Patrol or the Justice League) always seemed like they were slumming.  Halo? Looker? Geo-Force? Yes; well, we can see how well they've done since then.  


It's the Trinity of Fail!
P.S. Did Looker always fly with her arms and legs spread, crotch/boob first? Because that's a bit on point, even for Looker.


Only Katana seems to have stepped to a new level (specifically, "The Level Where You Can Be Used After the Next Reboot or in Another Popular Medium Rather Than a Forgotten Character Forever Tied to a Well-Meant Experiment of a Previous Era").  

Aquaman & the Outsiders gave Aquaman no pre-established heroes to lead; it wouldn't have worked with with the new continuity.  But it posited that Aquaman, when he found out he was the real King of Atlantis, said... "Hm, no, thanks."  Kind of makes Orm seem like less of a jerk, doesn't it?  Instead Arthur went off wilding around the globe with a disparate band of adventurers whom he met by..
whom he met at...
whom he met when.. .

Okay; I give up. Are we supposed to know or even GUESS how a Brazilian jungle woman, a cosmonaut who lives on the moon, an aged American super-spy, a middle eastern prophetess, and Hispanic Ragman all met and became colleagues? Let alone why? 


Sure, the same could be said about the Scooby-Doo Gang, but it's easy to figure it out:
they all live in the same bus.
And what a generic group they were.  I'm fond of them as individuals and grew to (mostly kinda) like them in the series.  Their ethnic diversity was nice, but they were pretty clearly a half-baked boy band of stock figures: Jungle Woman, Superspy, Soldier Man, Cosmonaut, Seer Lady, and Mystic Girl.  Not an A-List boy band, either; the Others are more like "O Town".  Nobody seemed care to enough to give them more imaginative names than 'The Operative" and "Prisoner-of-War" (or, for that matter, "The Others").  But what do you expect from Dan Jurgens, the man who created Doomsday The Living Plot Device?


Not that there was anything wrong with O Town, mind you.


Somehow through Aquaman's royalness, this group discovered ancient relics of Atlantis missing for some 10,000 years and then... divvied them up and kept them.  I guess that's how The Law of Sea Salvage works but, those things really clearly belong to Atlantis. Specifically, to its king: Orm.  I guess you can say that since Arthur is really the king, they are his to do with as he sees fit on behalf of Atlantis. But giving them away to auslanders really shouldn't be one of his choices, particularly once he does return to take the throne.   

Perhaps then it's just being consistent when he gives each of the objects to the person who can use them least.  The guy who already lives in space gets the helmet that lets him live in space; the spy who can espionage into anything gets a key that lets him do the same; the lady who has visions gets the widget that lets her see them in HD; the close combat soldier gets shackles that let him force blast everyone away, and the jungle woman who hates ever leaving her jungle gets the amulet that lets her teleport anywhere in the world (or the moon).  Oh, and the king of Atlantis gets the trident that lets you be king of Atlantis.  

It's never really explain, that I could tell, WHY those relics were made and in that form. Okay the key is a key, the trident is a scepter slash magical bazooka; some make sense.  But why did Atlan make chained shackles that go boom? Pretty convenient for a character named "Prisoner of War" to come along, eh?  Why make a helmet that lets you breath in space or underwater?  Neither of those things were really much of an issue, I should think.  I wanted to read the story where Atlan enacted his master plan that involved using each of those items to retake the throne of Atlantis; did someone forget to tell it?

Then at the end of the series, after they have all proven they don't really need the devices to do their thing, and about to go their separate ways again, Aquaman lets them keeps the relics of Atlantic (which, as the series took eleven issue to show, are NOT safe in their hands).

Perhaps at some future point, the Others will blossom again, and more fully.  Many characters and groups have short, inauspicious beginnings that laid the groundwork for later comebacks and revisions.  The original run of Firestorm was just five issues (not counting the story in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade); now Firestorm's on live-action teevee.   

Friday, March 06, 2015

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

GIGANTA!

Oh, Giganta.  Such a complicated history.  She started as a gorilla, turned into a human by wacky scientist. Dr. Zool (who was kind of cross between Niles Caulder and Uncle Dudley).

Is there NOTHING hyperatomic energy cannot do?!

No process that puts you in an animal print dress can be deemed a step UP the evolutionary ladder.

Thanks, in part, to the Super-Friends show, Giganta's origins as an ape were set aside (perhaps in deference to Grodd's feelings), and, taking her name literally, made her a size-changer.  It gave Apache Chief something to do. And, yes, that sentence is intentionally ambiguous.

Quality or quantity? Giganta's choice is obvious.

JLU tried to have it both ways, by making Giganta a former ape, tranformed into a size-changing human by Grodd.  

In 1997, she was conflated with her original creator, Dr. Zool, as "Doris Zuel",  who'd brought her size-changing on by her own experimentation.  A neat idea it was, making her more of an independent person, rather than merely the product of some male.  

Ordinarily, there's nothing that could make me even mention this:

This is The Atom and Giganta announcing their engagement.  Yes, really.

If you don't recognize what that's from, I'm certainly not going to tell you.  If you DO, then you have my sympathies.  But it's interesting background to the real subject of this post:

From Gail Simone's bat-shit crazy "All-New Atom" #3 (2006).
Giganta's drive-in movie date with Ryan "the All-New Atom" Choi, where in she seduces him with her subtle sexy-time haiku.

Don't worry, Ryan.
I really like you. You're sweet
and cute as can be.

What haiku can you compose to honor Giganta and/or the Atom?





Monday, March 02, 2015

In (uncharacteristic) defense of Green Arrow

Oh, Vamien McKalin; I have no idea who you are and don't care, but thank you. You made me laugh and laugh and laugh today.

It started with the  headline:

'Arrow' TV Series: Is It Just A Huge Batman Rip-Off? Yeah It Is'

BWHAHAHAHA!  News alert; this just in: SUN SETS IN WEST.  FISH SWIM. POPE IS CATHOLIC. BEAR SHITS IN WOODS.  DC REBOOT IMPENDING.

My first thought was that this must be some kind of parody article, a la The Onion.  Surely no person who exist in the 20th century could criticize the aboriginal Batman rip-off, Green Arrow, for daring to be... a Batman rip-off.  Heck every CHILD who watched Batman: Brave & the Bold knows that that's kind of the point of Green Arrow.  

But, no, apparently the article is in deadly earnest; so great is the need to fill up the entire internet with commentary and listicles that things like this happen.

" However, the tone seems more like that of Batman rather than Green Arrow," complains Vamien.  

Oh, dear, it's lost the true tone of Green Arrow which is...
is...
um...
oh ,that's right. Green Arrow doesn't have his own tone.  He never has  Whatever the era is, Batman sets the tone and Green Arrow follows it.  That's hardly a criticism of ANY character, let alone Bat-manque' Green Arrow.  Batman is the trendsetter or, at very least, the bellwether of tone in every comic book era.  How much more true should that be for a character has always been RC Cola to Batman's Coca-Cola?

"Now, don't act like what I'm saying is not true. Arrow, ever since it came on the scene, has felt like a complete Batman copy, and that is not good."

Well, Vamien, if by 'ever since Green Arrow came on the scene' you mean More Fun #73 (NOV1941), then... sure.  I'm not going to act like what you're saying is not true.  It's not merely true, it's AXIOMATIC.  The only thing that surprises me about that is how much it surprises YOU.  If only the internet had warned you!  If only Green Arrow's wikipedia entry actually said "At the time of his debut, Green Arrow functioned in many ways as an archery-themed analogue of the very popular Batman character". Oh, wait... it does.

And to my one reader who's about to comment that liberal activist Green Arrow of the Bronze Age was 'completely different' from Batman...  That's the same period where Bruce Wayne decided that he was too isolated from the real world, shut down Wayne Manor, moved into the heart of Gotham City, started taking an active hand in the philanthropy of his own charity, the Wayne Foundation, and started the V.I.P. (Victims, Inc. Program) (Batman #217).  No surprise there, since at the time both characters were being re-imagined by the same writer: Denny O'Neil (although he didn't write that particular Batman issue).  In short, Batman became a 'liberal activist' in late 1969.  Green Arrow's renovation as a bearded social activist? Late 1969.  

"The first sign of this Batman rip-off is the amount of Batman villains that have managed to show up in the series. It makes us wonder if Green Arrow doesn't have interesting villains the team of writers could pick from. This is truly not the case because there are several great Arrow villains and other lesser ones who could do well with live-action screen time. This copy-Batman thing took a strange turn when the writers chose to make Ra's al Ghul the main bad guy in season 3 of the show. I nearly threw my cup of coffee because right away it gave me that Batman feeling. It's not like it wasn't known beforehand that he would appear, but seeing it happening was still shocking."

Well, Vamien; you are easily shocked.  In fact, I'm now operating under the assumption that you've never actually READ a comic book, you just see them on the teevee. First, sloughing secondary villains off onto other heroes is one of the things Batman does; he's got extra, after all.  Every decade, new writers try to make new 'classic' Batman villains, but most of them don't stick as well as the ones with a Golden or Silver Age pedigree.  Ra's Al-Ghul, created by Denny O'Neil (see above), is one of those, an updated Fu Manchu who, long-term, doesn't work well enough in Batman's world to really stick.  But, as it often the case, one man's garbage is another man's gold, and Ra's Al-Ghul is a perfect foil for Green Arrow.; arrows, meet swords.  Meanwhile, Batman's with Superman fighting off an invasion by Atlantis.  You can let Ra's screw up Green Arrow's life as much as you want, but Batman's got more important crap to do.

Second, --wait, I'm sorry, I need a minute to stop laughing at "it makes us wonder if Green Arrow doesn't have interesting villains the team of writers could pick from." Um; no. It makes YOU wonder, Vamien.  The show's already using some of GA's best (but still crappy villains) like Merlyn, Clock King, Brick, Count Vertigo, China White, and Deathstroke (who's a Titan's castoff, you'll recall).  I swear I will buy cable again -- for my entire neighborhood-- if they put The Octopus or Bull's-Eye on television.   Who the heck else are they going to use, Vamien? Onamatopeia?! Carmen Miranda?  Starro? Auntie Gravity?

In all fairness... I get it.  The CW show is a marvelous opportunity to individualize Ollie as a hero, and, in that sense, the degree to which he's just aping Batman is a loss of that opportunity.  But I think they've done a good job of giving Ollie his own world, with characters all his own.  The standouts on the show aren't his villains, but rather his supporting cast, so much so that they've been introduced in the comics themselves.  The fact that it's different from Batman's AT ALL is a credit to the showrunners' work.  Stop worrying about whether GA's fighting leftover villains and be impressed -- as I am -- that he's the medium's inspiration for the Flash, the Atom, and Firestorm.  Face: Green Arrow is television's Batman, because, as Gotham has underscored, Batman is currently simply too BIG to fit on television any more.

So.. I think I get the point Vamien is trying to make.

But he's not the person equipped to make it.