Saturday, April 30, 2005

Bruce Wayne, Botanist

"Must...redirect snarking...away from...Rumsfield and Spiderman!"

Sorry; talking out loud again. Comic books will do that to you.

I have long been waiting for DC to fix some of its high profile villians. Like Per Degaton on his disc-thingie, I watched, pained, from a distance, as the Riddler became a joke, the Penguin a punching bag, Catman a wife-beating tubbo (no, Brad, I haven't forgiven you for that, yet!), Killer Croc a Spiderman-animal-of-the-week villain, Gorilla Grodd an anthropophagic moron, and Poison Ivy a Floronic Man with a D cup.

But things have been looking up for DC villainhood! A new Catman with shoulders to die for! A metrosexualized Riddler! And now Poison Ivy rehumanized...perhaps.

The "animated" Batman comic did it first and brilliantly so (of course). It portrayed Poison Ivy's becoming less and less human, finally to wither and die like a deracinated flower. But then it was revealed that the "Poison Ivy" we'd been following for some years in that comic was merely a plant-creature left by the real (perfectly human) Pamela Isley, who was off doing research (with Alec Holland). Sheer genius.

But sheer genius is distinctly lacking in the mainstream DCU's treatment of Ivy's rehumanization. In the current Legends of the Dark Knight storyline, they credit Jason Woodrue with her "herbification", yet claim that he's dead. If he's dead, who is the Floronic Man? They muddled the story further by involving as her romantic interest the absurd Hush, who remains a meaningless and uninteresting cipher, despite the fanboy attention he receives (He's the Golden Calf of villains). Oh, and the best part! Without Woodrue on hand, Poison Ivy goes to the obvious botany expert to help her regain her humanity...

BRUCE WAYNE!?!?!?!?!?

Rrrriiiiight. Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy and philanthropist. Yes, I'll seek HIS help in detoxifying my body of its plant-like aspects. Once that's done, I'll ask Lex Luthor to teach me concert piano, Simon Stagg to instruct me in ballroom dance, and Steve Dayton to do my hair.

I mean, what the FO?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Isaac Bowen, RIP

Isaac Bowen: requiescat in pace.

He was living proof that, even if you're lame, a cool car will make you memorable.

Now he's not.

Monkey See

Jack over at Otherworlds is looking to hire someone to draw monkeys.

No, really.

If you know how to draw a monkey, click on over.

Rhapsody in Green

Okay, we're on the trail, and we won't rest until Hal Jordan has his own Groove-Tunes of Justice!

Three groups, legend has it, wrote and performed "Green Lantern" songs:
J-Sin Starr and
Blue Harvest

But I can't find out how to find copies of these songs; anyone? Music geeks, help us!

Music Swell

Riddle me this, Mangaman and Fanboy!

What do Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman (and even the Joker and the Penguin!) have that Green Lantern (and lesser lights) do not?

"A sparrow with a machine-gun?" Uhhh... no. Nice try, though.

Decent theme music.

Williams' Superman theme, Elfman's Batman lick (and the '60s theme, natch!), Wonder Woman's driving R&B beat, Flash's tripletted march (again, from Elfman), Aquaman's 42 different theme songs by 42 indie bands, Shirley Walker's masterful Joker theme from the Animated Series, and the Penguin's BTAS and 1960s themes: hey, that's music to fight (or commit) crime by! Enough for me to fill an entire (an entirely illegal) "DISC OF JUSTICE!" CD I can play for maximum geekage.

But Green Lantern? Hello?! I have never found even two notes rubbed together in honor of GL. The background music to the Ted Knight voiceover intro of GL's few appearances in the Filmation cartoons barely registers, since it's most "action background music" used generally on the other 'toons.

Is there none? Musicians and budding composers, where are you? There's scores of music waiting to be written, not just "Brightest Day: The Green Lantern Theme".
"My Favorite Martian Manhunter" (a concerto for theremin)
"Green Arrow" (Think 'theme from Shaft')
"The Black Canary Cry" (warblable only by Ukranian women's choirs)

Endless possibilities! Anyone know of any DC hero music I don't, then?

Capt. Nazi, on Planning

"It iss Captain Marvel Jr.! Drive the big machine at him!!"
Captain Nazi, "Baffin Land"

Hey, planning can't always be done years in advance. When unforeseeable circumstances arise (such as the surprise appearance of your arch-enemy who has consistently foiled every scheme you've ever hatched), a skilled villain like Captain Nazi is capable of formulating a plan on the spot.

Even if it's not particularly elaborate.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Great Hera!

You know, for someone known mostly for writing police procedurals, Greg Rucka's does a HECK of a good job writing the Olympian Gods.

One of the hardest things about writing Wonder Woman is blending her mythological roots with her "real world" activities, and that's what Rucka does brilliantly. In my opinion as a classicist, he "gets" the gods. They are next to omnipotent ... but never do anything directly. The long-term effects of what they do seem natural and necessary to the develop of the world ... but in the short-run what they do seems childish, whimsical, and petty. They create change in the world ... but are incapable of intentionally changing themselves. They are worshipped not so much as superior beings, but as inalterable aspects of reality: for example, the need for conflict (Ares), the assertion of authority(Zeus), the need to scheme (Athena).

And Rucka has Diana's attitude about that just right, too. She doesn't blindly worship (um, well, except in the obvious sense), but steadfastly bows her head to the necessities the gods personify. Rucka actually understands how ancient paganism worked and portrays a living example in Diana ... and that's something I've never seen anyone pull off in a "real" book!

One thing though; what's with Ferdinand and the doctor lady? I didn't see that one coming!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cookin' It Up Medley

Though thy gods abandon ye, yet may ye find succour in Wizard.

Sorry, "Marvel prose" moment, there...

Apparently, I'm not the only one one curious about the Marvel vs. DC cookbook issue. The latest issue of Wizard has an article that not only confirms the existence of both and discussess their contents, but actually does a taste-test comparison of the two!

The bad news is, the review of the DC recipes is not flattering. I'm afraid my plan for a nouvelle cousine a la DCU will not come to fruition (although from the sound of egg/fruit smoothie the Flash conjures up, that's probably for the good of society).

The good news is...

the Marvel recipes are apparently MUCH worse, the overall assessment being "inedible even by a contestant on Fear Factor."

Perhaps the Danger Room's next step is to learn to cook...?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What do YOU want from a comic book store?

In my neighborhood, we've got two comic stores right around the corner from each other. No, really. The managers could hit each other with frisbees (and some Wednesdays, they do).

And so last night at our weekly Heroclix game at my house--after Mingus the Merciless and his perennial partner "Turtle Boy" had destroyed the competition--the table talk turned to what makes you go to one comic store rather than another.

Comic book stores, unlike a clothing stores, don't really vary their product offerings much. We don't go to a particular store because of which comics it offers but because of how it offers them, how it packages the whole comic book experience.

What makes the difference for you? What's your ideal comic book store experience? If a comic book store opened around the corner from the one you now frequent, what would get you to switch?

"I guess ... I'll never know..."

Nobody has guessed the last Stupid Hero Quote I posted, so I'll pose another in the meantime.

We've talked a lot about villains' virtues, but never about hero's virtues. Whatever they are, modesty is clearly not among them for this mystery hero:

"Anyway, I'm always afraid girls don't love me for myself ... are merely dazzled by my fame and super-powers. I wonder how it would feel to be really loved for--myself??! I guess ... I'll never know..."

Who is this hero, crippled by Marvelesque angst over the burdens of his abilities?

Monday, April 25, 2005

On My High Horse

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.
And ANOTHER THING! [Sorry, but the whole "Tusky Controversy" has gotten me on my high horse about Aquaman...]

I want to see Aquaman riding a giant sea horse.

Veitch's run on Aquaman was doo-doo, but some great produce could be grown from such pure fertilizer. We've just discussed how the "water hand" is the perfect mechanism for giving Aquaman the power to throw hard water balls, like he did in the Filmation cartoon.

Well, the sorcerous machinations of the Atlanteans during Veitch's run provide the opportunity to give Aquaman a giant sea horse, like he had in the Filmation cartoon. Through Atlantean magic, a lot of over-sized monstrous sea-creatures were created. Couldn't a giant sea-horse remain? A monstrous one that only Aquaman could control with his aquatic telepathy?

It's a perfect set up!

I've decided that I will never be truly satisfied until Aquaman has his attacking balls back and has a barely controllable monster between his legs that everyone in the seas is terrified he might someday let loose, a fearsome animal that no one else could mount.

Aquaman deserves it... and so do we!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

DC Needs: Water Balls

The Tusky reminds of something I've been wanting to advocate:

Aquaman needs balls.

Filmation, despite its lack of understanding of mammalian physiology, did understand the need for dramatic action and the tactical advantages of long-range attack capability.

Hence, the water balls that Aquaman would whip up and hurl at the Octo Men. Or the Crimson Monster from the Pink Pool. Or the Stick Men of Stygia. Apparently, Garnder Fox was not above sharing his drugs with the Filmation writers....

Anyway, Filmation never bothered to explain Aquaman's water balls, which is sad because a 15 second voice-over by Ted Knight could justify anything (except Superman Blue). But we never questioned them because (A) they looked cool (B) they were useful and (C) they gave Aquaman something he could do without aid from a passing scrod (and (D) we were stupid kids at the time). They were the equivalent, in their day and way, of Arthur's water hand.

Which is just the excuse we need to bring them back. Let Aquaman form waterballs using his waterhand, projectiles that remain rock hard until they hit something. Superman's heat vision, Batman's batarangs, Wonder Woman's lasso, Aquaman's waterballs; superheroes deserve some means of distance attack. Even the Flash gets to do that whirlwind thing with his arms, so give Aquaman his balls back.

"Gee, Tennessee...."

Do I have something against walruses?, I have been asked.

No. Walruses are great. The simple-minded clarity of Chumley, Tennessee Tuxedo's pal, inspires me almost daily.

Then, why no love for Tusky from the Aquaman Filmation cartoon? Why have I not nominated him as Aquaman's animal companion in his Dynastic Centerpiece model, out of respect for his multimedia tradition?

Because walruses are mammals and can't breathe underwater, a fact Filmation ignored. And, although they do hunt in the sea, they don't live there like, say, whales.

Call me a stickler, but I think Aquaman's animal companion should be able to live in the sea, don't you?

Bring on Salty, the Seadog. Come on, all you HEAT people; Hal's back now, I've got your new cause!

The Difference Between DC and Marvel

As we've previously discussed, yes, there are huge differences between DC and Marvel. People willfully refusing to see these differences is one of the Absorbascon's pet peeves. Pointing the differences out is one of our pastimes....

Let's turn on the TV for a moment, shall we?

In the last year, DC and Marvel superheroes have appeared on television commercials for various credit card companies. One company had an animated Superman appear with some comedian whose name intentionally escapes me; another had a panoply of live-action Marvel heroes appear with a no-named damsel in distress.

I hated the Superman commercial. The comedian, despite his loudly professed admiration for the character, did nothing but drag Superman down to his level of banal irksomeness in his fanboyish will-fulfillment of becoming Superman's pal. And yet...

When the comedian makes a purchase which a mugger steals, Superman stops the thief rather casually, and, although the merchandise is damaged in the pursuit, the comedian is relieved to learn that the credit card will cover replacing it. Crook captured, day saved, commerce protected.

Oh, but in the Marvel commercial! A woman, robbed, screams for help! Captain America, Spiderman, the Scarlet Witch, Storm, and some other folk swoosh on the scene, sky darkening, music swelling! "What's wrong, lady?" When they find out that she's not in any physical danger and has merely been robbed, they shake their heads, roll their eyes, and shuffle off, disgusted that she'd wasted their time. Geez, lady, your credit card will replace your stuff, why bother us? Well, maybe because you're superheroes and should go capture the thief who threatens the safety and stability of society, you self-centered dorks.

Can you IMAGINE a commercial where Superman, or any other DC hero, would just blow off the fact that someone had just been robbed?

I can't.

Ladies and gentlemen, another example of the difference between DC and Marvel.


Sometimes, I have to admit, I get jealous of Marvel.

Because they have hipper characters that regular people can relate to, more exciting adventures, and are more realistic than what DC does.

Tee-hee! Just kidding!

No, it's only weird Marvel stuff that makes me jealous on DC's behalf. Bitter, private mutterings like, "Darn it, howcum Marvel gets a superhero theme song in the pentatonic scale and not DC?" or "Why doesn't my comic book company ever get sued by European royalty?" And so, even though it was published nigh on to 30 years ago, I am still jealous about

the Marvel Cookbook.

Where's DC's cookbook, goldarned it? It's frustrating enough to make a JSAer swear!

"Clark Kent's Beef Bourguignon and Ketchup"
"Alfred Pennyworth's FrenchToast and Bandages"
"Ma Hunkle's Cookies and Milk"
"John Jones's Homemade Chocos"
"Oliver Queen's Four-Star Chili"
"Etta Candy's Woo-Woo Fudge"
"Carter Hall's Fried Chicken Wings"
"Victor Fries's Baked Alaska"
"Arthur Curry's Sushi Suprise"

The potential list of recipes is endless. You could even have a special all meat section co-authored by Poison Ivy, Jason Woodrue, and Swamp Thing, balanced by a vegan section from Beast Boy, Animal Man, and Vixen. Restaurants would spring up almost overnight, serving nothing but the more difficult recipes. Dining guides would start listing "DC Cuisine" between the Chinese and Ethiopian places. Cooking shows for comic geeks. Wines from the Vandal Savage Vintners. Boston Brand Beans. Titans Pizza to Go. DC could control not only what we read but what we eat.

Come, Marketing Department, get cooking!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Mynah Problem

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.
I've been called to task for omitting someone from my Dynastic Centerpiece treatment for the Atom: Major Mynah.

You remember, of course. During an adventure in Cambodia, the Atom saved the life of a bird, whose wings got broken, but Ray had Hawkman devise for it mechanical wings powered by cosmic rays so the bird could fly very fast indeed, which he did in further adventures whenever Ray rode him around. Oh, and he talked, because mynahs do, you know.

I don't know what drugs Gardner Fox used, but I'm glad they are now illegal.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Charlton Conspiracy Solved?

Devon, who erreth not, may have solved the Mystery of the Disappearing Charlton Characters.

At least, it's the best theory I've heard so far!

But don't believe me; judge for yourself at his blog (linked at right), "If You Had A Brain..."

The Atomic Dynasty!

It’s time to give the Dynastic Centerpiece treatment, in which we surround DC heroes with a ‘dynasty’ of characters to improve their iconic status, to the Atom, who, as you may have heard, has had a spot of trouble lately.

To those of us born in the previous century, the themes around the concept of the Atom are pretty clear: Science. Tinyness (and its opposite). Blowing Stuff Up.

Dynastic Centerpiece: Ray Palmer, atomic physicist. Duh.

Junior Counterpart: Al Rothstein (Atom-Smasher). Change his name to Leviathan or it will sound very weird. Al certainly could use some mentoring, wouldn’t you say? Beside, Ray lived in his ear for a while, so they know each other.

Sidekick: Grant Emerson (Damage). As the son of the original Atom, he’s a must. DC’s not doing anything with him and a kid with that kind of power needs an adult superhero around.

Elder Statesman: Because the original Atom’s not around, we’ll fill in with Daniel Dunbar (Dyna-Mite). Last seen hanging with Old Justice, he’s got a power-punch (like the original Atom), he’s a science-hero (like the current Atom), and he blows stuff up (like Damage). Besides, DC needs to make amends for replacing his brain with Hitler’s in the “Golden Age” Elseworlds. Emily Post frowns on replacing people’s brains with Hitler’s.

Black Sheep: Josh Xan (Mongrel). Angry guy with an angry name. At large since the Bloodlines crossover debacle, he’s worked repeatedly with Hawkman (like the Atom), zaps stuff with his hands (like the power-punchy guys, only it’s “darkforce” from “negative mental thoughts” because he’s ANGRY), and used to work for a shadowy government agency, which is always a useful plot device. He brings both sex appeal AND comic relief because he wears every single signal of rebelhood in the DCU (ponytail, earring, torn jeans, black tee, motorcycle gloves, Lobo-like belt buckle, and ratty trenchcoat). And did I mention that he’s angry?

Female Counterpart. The mysterious Doll Girl (sadly, Elasti-Girl is spoken for). Unlike the rest of this gang, she’d actually have a workable secret identity, so they could do some stealth work.

Civilian Companions. Several natural choices. Colleague Prof. Alpheus Hyatt (the Time Pool Guy). Paul Hoben, Jean’s former partner, who, in a pinch, knows how to use the size-belt. Norm Brawler, the Atom’s biographer. Supergoober and technogeek Snapper Carr, who could rent a room in Ray’s house.

Romantic Interest: No, not Eclipso. Enrichetta Negrini, Ray’s former lab assistant from Italy. She should be a fellow instructor by now.

Contexualizing City: Academic Ivy Town and its metropolis, toney Calvin City.

Authority Figure: Chief Baxter is the historical choice, but a science-type is needed, too. Maybe Kitty Faulkner at STARLabs?

Funny Fat Friends: Nobel-prize winning physicist and Kid Flash’s grandfather, Ira West. He’s not really fat, but he’s absent-minded and that’s funnier.

Animal Companion: A trained bee? Just kidding. Besides, any animal companion would eventually eat Doll Girl. It would, however, amuse me if Ray had an ant farm.

Obligatory Guest Stars:

The Human Bomb, still alive and ticking since 1942. Picture him and Damage stumbling around while Atom and Doll Girl are trying to do espionage; priceless.
Elasti-Girl. Admit it. Like me, you desperately want to see Al Rothstein get pimp-slapped by a 50-foot B-movie actress wearing kicky purple go-go boots and gloves.
Mr. Terrific. He have Ray have already worked together, and Ray doesn't make him play nurse like Dr. Mid-Nite does.
Hawkman. Ray's best friend. He's also a bodybuilder in a mask and a leather harness. Visit any time, Carter.
Aquaman. If somebody filed a patent on your DNA and Ray Palmer were your friend, don’t you think you’d call him?
Green Arrow. Who do you think helps him build those stupid trick arrows?
Elongated Man. Hmmm…on second thought, that would be rather awkward.

The Atomic Dynasty! Now's there's a group whose adventures I'd tune in for. It's the most fun you can have, without an ant-hill sized kingdom of yellow-skinned warrior folk!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Name That Hero!

My day of vengeance on those who derided me has arrived.

In our last installment of this game, in which readers are challenged to identify what hero said a stupid quote and why, Devon (who erreth not) over at "If You Had a Brain" made sport of me for the ease of my question.

My colleagues laughed at me. The fools. The utter fools!

Identify the author of this quote, sucka:


This hero, by the way, apparently "became versed in every language ever spoken."

Anyone? Devon?

Audition Tape: Cascade

"Hi, I'm Cascade, but you can call me Sujatmi Sunawaparti (if you practice saying it). If you don't remember me that's because I'm one of those 'international' heroes DC makes up to pretend that all its heroes aren't in the U.S., and then forgets about. Remember the funeral scene when Sue Dibny died? I wasn't in it.

"Anyway, I'm your basic Fighter Against Unjust Tyranny Type and I'm from Indonesia where Unjust Tyranny is one of our principle products. Today I'm auditioning for the part of:

Female Counterpart to Aquaman

because I have the power to transform 'any part or all of my body into water, can psychically control large bodies or water, causing them to take simple shapes'. At least, that's what the DC Encyclopedia says, where, by law, all characters in Justice League Quarterlies must have entries.

"To help complete his Dynastic Centerpiece model, Aquaman needs a Female Counterpart, which he hasn't had since Mera went wacko (again). Well, except for that hydrotramp Dolphin, but the less said about that little scandal the better. And Aquagirl doesn't count because she's a Kid Sidekick....

"I could accompany Aquaman on land missions, supplying him with water whenever it would help. Under the sea, I could stay in my water-form, which would make me stealthy and hard to hit. Like Mera, I can shape and form water (although not as well as the evil Eel). I also wear a tight scaly bodysuit like Mera; it's a water-power thing, you know.

"Please rescue me from obscurity, Aquaman Creative Team. I just know I could be part of the Aqua-Team!"

More Hawkman Villains!

I believe Hawkman's future (as a character) becomes more secure with each passing issue (although I don't know what sales are like). Why? His Rogue's Gallery. Three years ago, who even knew he had one? Now they are already larger and cooler than Superman's entire collection of enemies. Then again, even Marsha Mallow is cooler than Superman's enemies....

The creative team has made it clear: anyone who's fought Hawkman even once is fair game. I almost fainted (I'm that kind of guy) when Thought Terror appeared in this month's issue.

For those who don't know him, I stole, er, unearthed from the DC Message Boards this synopsis of his only previous appearance (Flash #4!):

The Thought Terror was working as a seer in the Futurists Club, where he would interpret the future for people with readings that seemed to always come true. One man was told he would start drinking and then be hit by a car. Carter Hall (better known as Hawkman) came upon the staggering man on the street and managed to prevent him from being run over. Taking the man to his home, Carter discovered that he wasn't drunk at all. Meanwhile, the driver of the car that nearly hit the man reported back to the Thought Terror that he had failed, which infuriated the villain. He had been making a fortune reading people's futures (at $100 per question), when he was actually just hypnotizing them into doing what he says will happen, along with a little outside help to spur things along (such as the car).

Carter, intrigued by what has happened with the man, sprang into action as Hawkman. Taking with him a gladiatorial net, Hawkman captured the driver of the car and took him to his headquarters, where the driver spilled all the information about the Thought Terror's operation. He said that he and the other lackeys didn't revolt against the Thought Terror because they were afraid that they would be hypnotized and killed.

Hawkman took to the skies again, this time with a metal shield, after being warned to watch out for the Thought Terror's mesmerized men. As he dashed into the villain's lair, he was assailed by the men, who were hypnotized to not feel pain, so they couldn't be felled by normal means. Hawkman was taken down and imprisoned fairly easily. The next morning, Shiera came to Carter's house and the Thought Terror's man told her where he had gone. When Hawkman noticed her outside, he flashed a message with his reflective shield that warned her about the Thought Terror and told her to bring a blowtorch to cut the bars of his cell. The Thought Terror entered just as he had finished his coded message and took his shield away, saying that Hawkman would die of starvation or madness in that cell.

That night, Shiera brought the blowtorch, and gave it to Hawkman through his cell window. The hero proceeded to burn through the hinges on the door, freeing himself. He then started tying up the mesmerized men one-by-one, and discovered that his shield had been taken to the Thought Terror's private room. After retrieving the shield, he held it in front of him as he advanced on the Thought Terror, who was attempting to hypnotize the hero into thinking he was a harmless idiot. Unfortunately, the Thought Terror saw his own mesmerizing reflection and lost his own reason. The underlings came out of the spells they were under and returned to their own lives, as did the driver and the first man. The Thought Terror was sent to a lunatic asylum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

High-Carb Companions

Where did all the fat people go?

One of our favorite toys here at the Absorbascon is the "Dynastic Centerpiece" model, that is, the idea that DC's iconic characters become iconic partly because a 'dynasty' of other characters with prescribed roles (e.g., "Kid Sidekick") are built around them.

One option in the model used to be The Fat Friend. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "Funny Fat Friend", for these figures were almost always played for laughs. Batman had Alfred (yes, he was originally quite the tubbo and was strictly comic relief), Jonny Quick had Tubby Watts, Plastic Man had Woozy Winks, the Legion had Bouncing Boy, Green Lantern Alan Scott had Doiby Dickles, Wonder Woman had the (relentlessly fabulous and unrepentently fat) Etta Candy. Even Lois Lane had a Funny Fat Friend, her roommate Marsha Mallow (who you'd think had to have been Silver Age, but, no, we're talking 1970s, folks!).

Where did they go? Alfred went to a fat farm (no, really ... he did), Tubby disappeared, Woozy has been covered up by DC in a desperate attempt at superheroic legitimacy for Plas, Bouncing Boy has yet to be seen in this week's Legion reboot, Doiby Dickles is living on a distant planet (it was a Young Justice story; anything could happen), and Etta, the worse victim of the anti-fat conspiracy, went on a diet, got married, AND disappeared (only to return last month in a WW cameo). Marsha Mallow? Not sure; I think, using the fortune she made on Ebay by selling her name to the highest-bidding drag queen, she hired a gigolo who digs Big Beautiful Women and moved to Santa Prisca to avoid taxes. I'm sure I saw her as a background figure in a "Question" story once....

Now, maybe the reason for their disappearance is simple. Maybe DC got rid of them because comic relief characters went out of style, or because having Funny Fat Friends was too much like making fun of fat people, which isn't cool. That's all understandable. But Funny Fat Friends served their purpose in the Dynastic Centerpiece model and I think we've lost something of value with its absence.

Funny Fat Friends were pretty darned intrepid. Spunk is not reserved to those with Olympic-level musculatures, and the F3s made that clear. Woozy Winks, in his passive way, was almost as powerful as Plastic Man. Doiby Dickles was a serious scrapper, and Etta ... ! Woe betide any fool goosestepper who tried to take on Ms. Candy. Just for giggles, she'd beat the snot out of you, paddle you in front of her girlfriends, and make you sing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", all while eating a box of chocolates. Woo-woo, indeed.

Funny Fat Friends (F3s) didn't suffer from "negative self-images." They respected the heroes without being slavishly in awe of them. They didn't question their own ability to contribute to any venture, despite being paired with people who could use their magic rings to overturn battleships. On the whole, they enjoyed their adventures, a luxury our stone-faced hero sometimes didn't have. Okay, so they weren't very funny by our standards. But they were fun!

Funny Fat Friends weren't funny because they were fat. Oh, sure, they would occasionally use their heft to their advantage in a tussle, but no one thought lesser of them for it. In fact, they showed that Fat (and otherwise imperfect) people could still be quite cool. Hey... they hung out with the world's greatest heroes; how much cooler than that do you get? Etta Candy is 900 times cooler than Snapper Carr (heck, Marsha Mallow was cooler than Snapper Carr).

Even more realistically, they showed imperfect people existed. When's the last time you saw someone in comics without a washboard stomach? When's the last time you met someone with one? In the real world, people built like Killer Moth and Dr. Light wouldn't be supervillains, they'd be supermodels.

With the loss of the F3s, we lost from our stories their message:
You don't have to be super or perfect to be confident, make a contribution, and have fun.

Name that Store!

Dear Readers; help!

A friend of mine is opening a comic book store here in the Mid-Atlantic region and he is looking for good names for it (names not yet taken, I might add!).

The current favorite among our circle is: "Giant Monkey" Books & Games.

Any other ideas? What would you name a comics cum games store?

Messner-Loeb's Legacy

As many DC comics fans will already know from the internet buzz, former DC writer William Messner-Loebs has fallen on hard times. Operatically hard times. Out of work, in an auto accident, short one arm, with a mobile home that became unliveably infested by mold (before it was stolen) and a wife critically ill in the hospital, Messner-Loebs is the target of an industry-wide relief effort.

M-L is remembered mostly by DC fans for his work on Wonder Woman, Flash, and Impulse. Some have unkindly dismissed him as "the man who made Wonder Woman a fry-cook." You may not agree with some of his plotting choices, but let's give the man his due!

M-L recognized Wonder Woman's most serious flaw: because her reboot left her with no civilian identity, WW had become almost impossible to relate to. He took steps to humanize her and for that I applaud him.

In the Golden Age, writers used a pretty consistent formula: hero gets involved in a situation through his/her secret identity, reaches an impasse that would stymy an ordinary person, than changes in his/her heroic identity to overcome it. This is the so-called "adolescent power fantasty" that drew readers to most Golden Age heroes. This formula has taken a bad beating in the post-Crisis DCU; I get the sense that writers now perceive it as superfluous plotting, but it was what made the heroes seem human and allowed readers to identify with them. Messner-Loebs realized the human touch was missing and strove to restore it in his stories.

Similarly, it must be noted that M-L created the backbone of the current Flash mythos, whose glory has accrued mostly to other writers. He removed some of the severe limitations on Wally's power. He gave Wally confidence to come out of Barry's shadow. He put Wally back in Keystone (he had been in NYC, in case you'd forgotten). He gave Wally some friends: Chunk (a marvelous character DC has abandoned) and Piper (whom M-L gave new vitality by revealing that he was gay). He introduced Linda Park.

Of course, like any sensible person, I hate Linda Park. NOT the Linda Park that M-L created. She was a feisty anti-Lois Lane, a critic of the Flash who came grudgingly to respect him. It was only in the hands of later, wussier writers that she became (for no apparent reason) Wally's "beacon of love that anchors him to humanity blah blah blah"... the Linda Park that all right-thinking Americans despise...

Messner-Loeb realized what so many writers do not: heroes have to be human. Not weak; just human.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Name that Hero!

This is the first installment of our new game: Name that Hero!
Since we love comic book quotes here at the Absorbascon, we'll give you a quote and you have to figure out who said it...and why.

To inaugurate the game, we'll start with what I (and many others) consider the single worst DC comic book quote ever:

"Step away from the lobster-trap."

From its depths English can birth monstrosities so abhorrent that the mind recoils at their perception. "Step away from the lobster-trap" is one of them.

What DC hero would have said that and why?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Zor on Style

"Fool! Time has made me your superior! I leave you now, to bring real anguish!"
Zor, untitled Spectre story

The economy of words, the minimalism of effort, the curt dismissal, the casual cruelty. Other supervillains would have (and have) gone on and on about what an imbecile the hero was, or how through aeons of exposure to the eldritch magicks of Dimension Q their power had waxed immeasurably, or prated in excruciating detail about the why and how of their revenge.
Not Zor. Because Zor had style. And still does, one supposes, since he was last seen frozen in an immobility beam for all eternity...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Yeah, I'm A Superstar.

I'm Devon and Scip's allowed me this space to point this out...

Thank you.

Corps Values

According to Devon (who erreth not) over at "If You Had a Brain", there will be a new Green Lantern Corps book, separate from the "Green Lantern" title, starting in August. Geoff Johns will be writing it (in his spare time, one assumes).

I have never been a fan of the Green Lantern Corps. In fact, I always hated it. Maybe it's just me, but having 3599 other people (and chipmunks and fishguys and living planets and tree-beings) with the same power as your "main character" diminishes his importance. Too much "dynastic" not enough "centerpiece" in that model!

However, I'm very excited about this new Corps, which is only a handful of Lanterns, all of whom we know and who have served time as Earth's GL (Hal, John, Kyle, Guy, and some times Kilowog). In the old version, they were trying to get you to care about individual GLs because you cared about the Corps. The new version is smarter and takes a more natural approach: we already care about the individual GLs and so we will automatically care about them as a group.

And as previously discussed here, they cohere nicely with Hal as the Dynastic Centerpiece, John serving as Junior Version, Kyle (loosely) in the role of Kid Sidekick, and Guy as (obviously) the Black Sheep.

Like Hawkman's, Green Lantern's mythos will then leap to a fast build-up of an "anti-dynasty" of villains. Look for a new Star Sapphire, an awakened Hector Hammond, an upgraded Black Hand, and the possible return of Nero as a sidekick for Sinestro.

Of course, it's the SHARK I really want to see...!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Riddler in Green Arrow

I love the Riddler! And he's popped up at the end of this month's Green Arrow.

Now, I'm still smarting from the last time Eddie battled Ollie. Judd Winick's riddles were, to put it kindly, not worthy of the Riddler. But the story still built nicely, and when it turned out the Riddler had a nuclear bomb at his disposal...well! Any time the Riddler is used as a serious threat, I'm on board. But then Winick ruined it with the random appearance of demons. Judd's writing is occasionally afflicted with plotus interruptus: things are chugging along just fine, then he throws in demons, or aliens, or monsters. Ach, kids these days with the demons and the monsters! I blame it on "Buffy".

Anyway, I have higher hopes for this Green Arrow vs. Riddler story. Judd's doing a crackerjack job on Batman lately, and he seems committed to taking the Riddler seriously. But the best news is that this is the "revamped" Riddler seen recently in Legends of the Dark Knight, where he got a new look, became more competent and dangerous. He actually fooled Batman, escaped, and got away with the swag. Go, evil!

But LODK storeis can be ignored, ya know, and I feared this marvelous Riddler redux would be washed away by some hack clinging to the goofy Riddler of old. But now that he's appeared in a mainstream context, I'm convinced this version is here to stay.

Or, at least, until Alex Ross gets his hands on him with his Legion of Doom series...

More Charlton Conspiracy Theory

My conspiracy theory that DC is using the Charlton characters before their rights expire grows like mold on my brain...

In the new "Brave & the Bold" 80-page giant, DC put the regular wackiness you'd expect: Green Arrow paired with Martian Manhunter, Batman working with the Flash, the (Kirby) Sandman with the (ugh) Newsboy Legion. But they also included a story with Captain Atom, Nightshade, the Ghost, and Punch and Jewellee. Ah HA!

The special gold-plated edition of The Watchmen is coming out soon. We all know the story: at DC's request, Moore created new characters to use that were based on the Charlton characters. Moore wanted to use the Charltonians, but DC didn't want to spoil them for other projects. OR PERHAPS ... DC knew their rights would expire without renewal and they didn't want to lose Watchmen because they knew it would be a best-seller?

My foil-hat, quickly, where is my foil-hat....!?!?!

Go on, laugh; but they laughed when I said the Purple Pilgrim would return!!!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Purple Prose

I knew I should have mentioned the Purple Pilgrim here at the Absorbascon.

In a private e-mail to friends, I was helping them get up to speed on Hawkman's rogues gallery and predicted some of the ones we'd be seeing from the old days, including...the Purple Pilgrim.

What showed up in the latest DC solicitations today? "Hawkgirl is unaware of how close she is to death at the hands of the newly resurrected Pilgrim!"

And they laughed at me...

Fools! The utter fools!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Jean and Sue, Together Again?

And you think your ex-wife is bad!

Jean Loring will be the new Eclipso. Eclipso was scary enough tethered to a nice, normal person; what will it be like as personified by everyone's favorite braindancing, addlepated attorney from heck?

Like Eclipso, the Spectre needs a human host (as the upcoming Day of Vengeance will make painfully clear). Who will it be?

Sue Dibny? Can't you see Ralph now, "Honey, the Pattersons are coming over for dinner tonight, PLEASE don't turn them into trees if they forget to use the recycling bins, like you did the Douglasses..."

Blue Beetle? "Who's the bug NOW, Max?," he thunders, grinding Lord under heel. "BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!"

Hippolyta? Heh, the Spectre would wind up holding her back!

Or do you think it will be someone random we haven't seen?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Are the Charltonians Making Their Exit?

Are DC's rights to the Charlton heroes about to expire? The flurry of work around some of the Charlton properies seems like desperate attempts by DC to use them while they can...

Didn't it seem odd that the JLU cartoon used Captain Atom twice (or was it three times?) almost immediately?

Didn't it seem odder that they did the same thing with the Question?

And hasn't the Question gotten an unusual amount of "airtime" in the JLU comic book? He just had a whole issue of it to himself ... as did Blue Beetle just a little while ago.

Is it coincidence that Nightshade is in the "Day of Vengeance" miniseries? Gee, I wonder whether she'll survive!

Why bother introducing, in his own miniseries, this "Breach" character, who's so very much like Captain Atom?

Wouldn't DC want to give the best known Charltonian, Blue Beetle, the opportunity for a big splashy farewell? And they did.

Speaking of which, Shazam now has the Scarab. Will that magical relic be a 'victim' of the Day of Vengeance story?

Notice how Sarge Steel has been kind of phased out of DCU happenings, even though he was a big player for quite a while?

What would possess DC to suddenly do a revival of Son of Vulcan in a whole miniseries? And to give him a kid sidekick (a character that would then be owned completely by DC)?

I don't know exactly what I think about all these...coincidences. But I have an idea what the Question would think!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Joker, On Style

"Hmm! And that gives me a tremendous idea -- an idea that only the Joker could think of! Ha ha! Slapsy, go out and get me some baking dough, a picture frame, some firecrackers, and some barrels of red paint!"
The Joker
, "The Wizard of Words"

He is the ultimate so many ways! But by far his greatest virture as a villain is his style: the clothes, the clues, the theme crimes, the joy he takes in his work. Other villains scheme painfully for years and ruin their lives just to have their revenge on one person (that reminds me, must visit Animal-Master in prison). But for the Joker, a stick of chewing gum or discarded soda bottle will inspire a series of heists that net him millions of dollars, force Batman to wear a French maid's costume while spanking Robin with a hairbrush, and increase tooth decay in Gotham by 12 percent.

In the hands of a regular criminal, even the robbery of Fort Knox can seem quotidian. In the hands of the Joker, the robbery of hot dog stand can become a work of art.

All because of style!

The Difference between DC and Marvel

Yes, there is a difference. Coke is a cola. Pepsi is a cola. Coke and Pespi do not taste alike; most people drink one and not the other, and the people who do drink them indiscriminately are usually waiting for what they really want, alcohol.

When I read on-line pablum about, "I just enjoy whatever, and shouldn't we all just read good stories wherever they are written, and I don't think there is a difference, and I want to read a cross-over where Iron Man dates Power Girl, and why can't we just all get along?," I want to take an uzi into a bar and slay a score of second-rate villains in a hail of bullets. But I don't. Why? Because that's a Marvel thing to do, and I'm a DC person. It says so in the blog title.
One of the examples of the Difference Between DC and Marvel is in their panthea (or pantheons, if you're allergic to Greek plurals).

The Greek Gods, the gods of tragedy, are the gods of the DCU.

The Norse Gods, the gods of opera, are the gods of the Marvel.

We see lots of gods and godlings in the DCU: fun, forgotten ones in Vertigo, ham-handed manques like the New Gods, decorative deities like Rao tossed about the universe like theurgic throw-pillows to spice up alien cultures. But for the most part, the "gods" in the DCU means Zeus & Co. Yes, the Greek Gods, the gods of founders of Western Civilization, the people who brought you self-government, logic, and couple other useful concepts, like: tragedy. 

I know I cried. He could have been one of the greats.

Now, not every DC story is a tragedy, of course. But if you set aside the "gosh, that's sad and icky" part of tragedy, its underlying tenet is that what happens to you, your fate, is the usually the result of your own character, not just random happenstance.

Batman's "fate" isn't thrust upon him by a cruel world that fails to understand him. Bruce Wayne could, at any point say, "Well, this is fruitless! Alfred, pack my bags, buy a Caribbean island (if I don't already own one), and tell Silver St. Cloud I'll meet her there for brunch!" But he doesn't, because his character is otherwise.

But an occasional nightcap is acceptable.

Superman isn't enfeebled by the mistrust of a xenophobic society, forcing him to hide as a mild-mannered drudge. "Gosh," Superman could say, "I think I'll rule the world today, then write about it in my gigantic steel diary using my fingernails." Because of his character, Superman chooses (like Cinncinnatus) to rise up above other people only when it is necessary to protect society; otherwise, he chooses to live among them as equals. Whatever "tragic fate" these and other characters suffer stems from their own virtues and flaws (which usually aren't fatal, unless you were a member of Justice League International, like Ted, Tora, those foxy French sisters, and Amazingly-Brittle Man).

Like Cinncinnatus, Superman left his plow to save society.

But Marvel's gods are the Norse ones, who, in our culture, we know mostly through opera. It's fitting; Marvel is about personal drama, people thrust into extraordinarily roles and situations (usually against their will) by life's vicissitudes (you know, errant chromosomes, cosmic rays, radioactive spiders, and such). It's opera, not tragedy, because you are watching people suffer unjustly, to see how they stand up to it all (like on Fear Factor).

Like the audience at the Spider-Man musical.

DC's message? You are responsible for protecting and improving yourself and society, so toughen up for that responsibility.

Marvel's message? You better be tough, because you're going to have to suffer many things in this world that you're not responsible for and can't improve.

Both messages are completely true, of course, which is why each company does speak effectively to so many people. But, in my eyes, DC's message is designed to inspire and Marvel's message is designed to console.

And I know which I prefer.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Animal-Master, On Purpose

Drab little peons, staggering mindlessly to your next task, like mechanical drones! Oh, sorry; ahem, I had a wad of villainly caught in my throat.

Ah, that's better. Still the point remains valid: a life without purpose is a life without meaning. But who knows that better than villains? Such as "the Animal-Master", a criminal lion-tamer whom Aquaman unknowingly strands on a desert island during his getaway...

"I must live ... to revenge myself on Aquaman! ... How long must I suffer from thirst, hunger, and the burning sun? B-but I must hang on so that I can have vengeance! I must destroy Aquaman for what he did to me! I-I made it! You hear me Aquaman? I made it! I-I don't know how or when...but I'll g-get my revenge! You'll pay for ruining my plans!"
The Animal-Master, "Aquaman Duels the Animal-Master", Adventure 261, June 1959

Regular saps find staying alive enough of a reason to stay alive (certainly when we're stranded on desert islands). The Animal-Master finds a greater purpose.

Escaping from the island? No, he stays there a whole year, although when he finally throw out a message in a bottle he's rescued in a week (Aquaman's fish buds look for stuff like that).

Opening a moneymaking wildlife preserve? No, even though he's found and could therefore claim ownership of an island where leopards, lions, elephants, water buffalo, and (since this is DC) gorillas live.

Overcoming, through steady practice, what is obviously a severe stuttering problem? N-no!


As you might have guessed, that didn't work out. So what do you think the Animal-Master says as (I kid you not) a school of flying-fish carry him off to prison in a fishing net?

"I-I'll get you for this, Aquaman! Some day, after I finish my prison sentence, I'll have my revenge!"

Kanjar Ro, on Humility

Despite their Confidence, most true villains are pretty darned humble, so humble that it gives me a special glow all over. Take, for example, the original bug-eyed bandit, Kanjar Ro:

"Ah! My super-brain now understands all the mysteries of nature and the universe!"
Kanjar Ro
, "Decoy Missions of the Justice League!"

Okay, Kanjar Ro may not sound particularly humble. But consider: a guy from some distant planet suddenly acquires an understanding of all the mysteries of nature and the universe. Which is a lot. Yet instead of using those powers to end suffering on a thousand planets, earning the grateful devotion and love of every sentient being he encounters, and making himself the most exalted creature that ever lived, Kanjar Ro chooses immediately to humble himself by 'sailing' to Earth in his moronic-looking cosmic boat to have his hiney whooped by the Justice League.

The more impressive and powerful you are the more important it is to be humble; but, of course, that's one of the mysteries of nature and the universe that Kanjar Ro understands!

Black Adam, on Confidence

"At last, I've reached Earth, after flying for 5000 years from the farthest star, where I was banished by old Shazam! The world is certainly different today than what it was when last I knew it! But I will conquer and rule it!"
Black Adam
, "The Might Marvels Join Forces!"

Wow! Even though you have the power to level mountains, and an old guy in a dress and sandals poofed you off to a distant star. Even though you're entering the world that harnessed the power of the atom and your idea of technology is the inclined plane. Even though you are so naive that you are about to be defeated by Uncle Dudley, perhaps comicdom's most death-deserving buffoon (not counting Stan Lee).

Still, your third sentence after arriving on Earth is: "But I will conquer and rule it!"

*sniff* If we all had that kind of confidence, think what a world this would be!

The Latest Big Tree

I grew up in a household that had a total of 13 dogs. As an adult, I interact with between 70 to 100 dogs every work day (not counting the ones I live with, and the less said about them, the better). In short, I have had a lot of opportunity to experience canine behavior.

When a new tree is planted in area common to lots of dogs, it's a very big event. Many dogs will try to "make their mark" on the tree by pissing on it. The more thoroughly they urinate, the stronger a message they feel they are sending to all the other dogs who will inspect the tree and the collected "smell comments" on it.

Spend a lot of time with dogs, who like us are strongly social, hierarchical, and pack-driven, and you will see how similar people's behavior is, once you scratch off the veneer of our intelligence. For example, in the comic book world the latest Big Tree is, of course, Countdown to Infinite Crisis. It is, in fact, the central tree in DC's new grove, soon to become a forest. It's the most important tree planted since Crisis on Infinite Earths.

So, naturally, every good comic-reading dog has decided that, in order to make their mark and show off for all the other dogs, they have to piss on it. And the stench streaming from their little weblogs is fierce! Yet every time Jeph Loeb's pukes up onto the sidewalk some half-digested pieces of the worst of the Silver Age that he found rotting in the sun, these same dogs run over to roll in it gleefully, hoping some of its stinky aura will adhere to them.

Dog have great astuteness; if they bark, pay attention. But do not take their advice on comic books. As a human being, feel free to look up and admire the majesty of the tree, its powerful roots, its far-reaching branches, its striving to great heights. Don't waste your time sniffing the droppings of those whose world includes only those things right under their noses.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Icicle, on Logic

"The trouble with being a super-criminal has always been the fact that the Justice Society...or... the Justice League...always catches us!"
The Icicle
, "Crisis on Earth-One!"

You wouldn't ordinarily think of the fairly colorless Icicle as an exemplar of, well, anything, let alone logic. But there's a reason he's a true villain, not just a thug with a freeze gun.

Through his superior reasoning abilities, he has hit upon the crux of the "super-criminal" problem. This is particularly impressive since it seems to have escaped the notice of all his colleagues....

Chronos, on Fairness

"Guard yourself, Batman! My time numerals will shock you senseless if they touch you!"
Chronos, "Crisis on Earth-One!"

Okay, circumstances pit you against Batman. Batman, the one-man thwarting machine for whom the word "outwit" was invented. Batman, who once made a telegraph out of some loose change and a glass of saltwater. Batman, who mastered every known science and discipline, honed his body to peak physical perfection, and became an unparalled martial artist and the world's greatest detective in precisely TWO panels.

You, fortunately, have one of those surreal silver age devices that can fry his great brain, gelatinize his olympic-level musculature, and leave him a twitching lab frog to be prodded for your amusement.

Any simple crook would just use the device. But it takes a villain to warn Batman before doing so. That's fairness!

Bizarro Speaks Out on Jason Todd

I love Spoiler and I'm glad she's dead; I hated Jason and I'm glad he's alive.

I was entirely opposed to bringing Jason back to life, particularly as it stinks so much of that most malodorous of all Batman arcs, "Hush" (the ultimate monument to the vacuity of Loeb's writing...until Superman/Batman came along). But then War Games happened, in which, Stephanie Brown a.ka. Spoiler a.k.a Robin, was killed. Just as in a Greek tragedy, Stephanie's own actions, stemming naturally from her character, led inexorably to own destruction. In doing so, she became the ideal Tragic Robin.

That, of course, rendered Jason Todd irrelevant. Before Stephanie's death, Jason's death made him the great casuality in Batman's war. Because he was the only one of Batman's allies to have died, his death overshadowed that fact that he was a jerk and no one liked him.

But Jason's death wasn't tragic, merely horribly unpleasant. It had no irony, no bitter twists, or unintended circumstances. Jason was simply killed by the Joker (uncharacteristically brutally, I might add; I was embarrassed for the Joker). Well, lots of people are killed by the Joker: welcome to the DC Universe, bub.

But, Stephanie's death! There's irony and tragedy!
Batman fires Stephanie because she's overconfidence and doesn't seek the input of others (his own worst faults).
The plan to unite the underworld under Batman unites them against him.
Stephanie makes her own murderer in the king of the Gotham underworld.
The plan, designed to give Batman control of the underworld, results in his losing control of the police (and his own Bat allies).
The plan fails because Batman kept one of his identities secret from Stephanie yet results in his Batman identity being publicly seen on television.
Batman searches desperately for the cause of this attack on his city, not realizing that he caused it (wow, that's straight out of Sophocles!).
In trying to help Batman, Stephanie hurts him terribly.
In trying to replace her boyfriend as Robin, she ensures that he will replace her instead.
In trying prove how worthy she is, Stephanie proves how right Batman was to fire her.

While some of the writing on War Games was muddy, structurally it was a brilliant multi-pronged tragedy (no matter how many fan-boys didn't "get it"). We experienced pain because of the many tragic circumstances, rather than just watching Jason experience pain and get a crowbar all bloody. Then get blown up.

With Stephanie as the Ideal Tragic Dead Sidekick, Dead Jason is immediately superseded as Dead Sidekick and serves no function in the Batman mythos that she doesn't serve better. But Alive Jason becames Former Sidekick Who Crosses the Line. That's a new mythic idea, one that I can't remember ever really seeing in a DC story, one that adds enormously to the Batman mythos (and his personal tragedy). And having Jason adopt the identity (Red Hood) of the man who killed him? Bitter; good work, Judd!

And that is why I really liked Stephanie, and I'm glad she's dead, but I really despised Jason, and I'm glad he's alive.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I don't have the strength yet to tackle the mythic structures and archtypes underlying rogues' galleries. Yet.

But, during the wonderful renaissance of Hawkman's rogues' gallery that's now going on, just reflect on this: a LOT of his villains are "guys ya can't hit". Jim Craddock, the Gentleman Ghost. Anton Lamont, the Fadeaway Man. Carl Sands, the Shadow Thief.

And when your hero's main battle tactic is hitting people with a mace, that's pretty clever.

And, for Hawkman, really annoying. Hawkgirl, however, has (slightly) less testosteorone than he does, so she doesn't seem quite so peeved about it.

Oh, a shout out to you fellow Heroclix nerds out there... I'm pretty good at "power exegesis", explaining why certain figures have certain powers on their dials. But if there's a good explanation why Hawkgirl has OUTWIT on her dial, I'm still waiting to hear it...!