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!