Wednesday, March 04, 2020

A Farewell to Tom

In an interview with io9.com today on his forthcoming book Strange Adventures (where he'll tell some tale of self-disillusionment with Adam Strange and the dirty, stinking Rannies), author Tom King said,

"Hello, I'm Tom King. I make people cry for a living and it's a weird way to earn a dollar."







Doesn't that just say it all?

Tom King views making people sad AS HIS JOB.  Well, he's certainly made plenty of people miserable with his writing of Batman, so: Achievement Unlocked, Tom. Time to move on.

Look; I get it.  I was a stage performer for 25 years.  Being able to move people to tears IS one of the most intoxicating experiences an entertainer can have, and I LOVED doing it. It makes you feel as though your art has meaning and that it actually touches people.

But there are good touches and there are bad touches.  When I was a performer it was my job to make people cry. But it was also my job to make them laugh.  And smile  And exult. And ponder. And reflect. And relax.  Etc. My job as a performer was to be ABLE to do all of those and to vary which I was doing.  Singing the same note again and again and again doesn't make a song.  Or at least, not a very good one.



That's an exception. Along with One Direction's "Kiss You" and the bulk of Gregorian chant.

Tom King has a one-note song of sadness and it isn't our sadness or Batman's... it's just his and we've been paying to watch him sing it. 


Batman's fed up, too.
And he's a pretty patient guy as a rule.

I want the corpse of Julie Schwartz or Mort Weisinger (who weren't particularly pleasant WHEN STILL ALIVE) to claw out of the grave and drive Tom King and all those like him from the temple of DC:


Like that, but with more flaying and fewer pigeons.


Time to go, Tom, and inspire emotions OTHER than sadness as you do.


Sunday, March 01, 2020

Meet the Vulture!

As promised yesterday, let's meet the Criminal Mastermind of All Time who's behind the plane-boomings:


Eerie mountain lair? Okay, that checks out.  

Let's hope the interior drama matches the drapes.


Who LIGHTS those torches, I wonder? Or are they just those crepe paper + fans jobs?

We learn a lot from these panels. The Vulture uses vulture-themed decor, but in moderation. He's rich enough to employ the Phantom Stranger.  He's a chemist.  But the most important thing we learn is that he appreciates and understands the value of UPLIGHTING.


Just like Firefly. The real original one, not the Heat Wave ripoff.

Also, his outfit is entirely vespertilian and not at all vulturine. 
Totally the pic that would be on his DCUwiki page if he were a DC character.

Anyway, the Vulture. who we've seen blown up planes by remote control and messing around in a chemistry lab, clearly intends to use one of these clever scientific means of kill this William Oswald.


Or just, you know, show up and stab him.

In the same way that the Shield cannot resist damaging planes, the Vulture cannot resist the opportunity for dramatic uplighting, so he shows up in person to stab his confederate.  Golden Age villains were, as a general rule, polycidal.  They didn't JUST stab, shoot, poison, explode, drown, hang. They did ALL of them.  This is because back in the day all respectable villains went to colleges for the liberal villainous arts, rather than all the tech school doctors of evil nowadays, who just throw atomic bombs at whatever little problem arises.

Meanwhile, Joe -- well, adopts is not the right word -- subsumes Dusty:


Because you're explosion-proof unlike my stupid dead dad.

And gives him the essential thing he needs to fight crime:


Actually, Shield that is literally the LAST thing Dusty needs before he can fight crime.  Also, stop calling him a 'boy detective' when YOU are the FBI agent and he's just a scrappy kid in a Charlie Brown sweater with precociously developed thighs.


Fortunately, it's Bring Your Orphan to Work Day at the FBI, so Joe takes Dusty with him to find the dead body of William Oswald.

Joe REALLY likes affirming that people are dead.

Then Dusty, earning his rep as a boy detective, finds clues that allow him to deduce that the Freighter Mary Ann and The Limited Train are the next and imminent targets of the Vulture's sabotage.

Fine; I lied.

The Shield, who is nearly indestructible, goes to stop the train while sending Dusty, who is clearly destructible, to stop a freighter from exploding.  Because there's no safer place for a sturdy fun-sized ginger boy with solid thighs and a father fixation than the docks.

Meanwhile, the Shields stops the train because it gives him the chance to run on telephone wires, which as we know he does every chance he gets.  I used to think this was some sort of metaphor for FBI agents being able to use wiretapping under the anti-racketeering laws, but then I realized it's just an excuse for the Shield to run in that pointy-toed way he does.

It's the Shield, brimming with purpose and determination,
silently hurling himself full force into a tunnel.
Just like in my dream.

The Shield stops the train right before the Vulture blows up the tunnel.

You know, Joe, given how you run, throwing around the word "nellie" seems ill-advised.

But what about our Boy Detective at the docks?

Dem thighs, tho.

SOMEHOW, Dusty manages to get his thighs through the porthole and is, completely improbably, kicking ***.

Was Dusty's mother a circus aerialist?
Was he bitten off-camera by a radioactive Jiemba Sands?
This is some circus aerialist stuff right here.

Is this something tweener orphans can do? Beat up three adult men while wearing a cape? No wonder no one adopts them.


"If not, I'd have to admit I should have sent the police, who were standing right there, or other FBI agents, or even Betty Warren and her hat, rather than just a sturdily-thighed boy without any background in circus aerialism."

Once arrived, FBI Agent Joe Higgins pioneers waterboarding:

Thought I made that up, didn't you?

The thugs having talked, the Shield takes the freighter bomb to Vulture's castle on Rose Hill and


Joe Higgins may serve Justice, but the Shield's only master is Ironic Comeuppance.


On the plus side, this being Washington DC, the Rose Hill Redevelopment Project already has plans for some luxury condos above upscale retail space.

His body isn't found, of course. But the grease-covered body of JuJu -- Joe's moronic comic relief partner at the FBI -- is found in what is Dusty's ONLY example of boy-detectiving in the whole issue (and possible the entire series):




Ha ha! It's funny because FBI agents are imbeciles!

Making JuJu seem even MORE useless than he originally was in Shield's story is truly Dusty's most impressive accomplishment (followed closely by speed-grieving and speed-circus-aerialism).

I laugh, but remember: despite its foibles THIS is the story which, with the arrival of his sidekick and archenemy, made inevitable the Shield's rise as American's favorite superhero.