Saturday, May 14, 2005

Death by Redundancy

According to Devon (who erreth not) at Seven Hells, Arsenal appears to be a traitor. Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story!

He abadons the poor reservationers who raised him as their own to run off with a rich dilettante. He becomes a heroin addict. He knocks up a foreign assassin. He works for a shadowy spy agency. Roy ain't exactly snow white, so the idea that his betrayal might be real is believable.

He's got another thing going against him: the Dynastic Centerpiece model. Long-time readers of the Absorbascon will recognize the Dynastic Centerpiece model, whereby DC takes a central hero and builds around him or her a "dynasty" of related characters in archtypal roles (e.g., "Kid Sidekick"), vasting increasing the hero's iconic value.

Since his resurrection, Green Arrow has been the focus of much dynasty-building. But with girl-Speedy as his Kid Sidekick and Connor Hawke as his Junior Counterpart, a squeezed-out Arsenal doesn't really have a role to play. Either his new role in Arrow Dynasty is as Black Sheep or, more disturbingly, he's being Todd-ified into The Former Sidekick Gone Bad.

And the writer of Green Arrow and of the Outsiders is ALSO the writer who's recreated Jason Todd as The Former Sidekick Gone Bad. Would you be surprised if Judd Winick is copying himself and doing the same thing with Roy Harper?

Thanagarians are children of nature.

True environmentalists,Thanagarians are at one with nature and the elements.

Ecology, Rannian-Style

On nature-raping Rann, spaceships ensnare helpless fauna, destined to become fodder for the twisted experiments of conscienceless sociopaths like Sardath, torturer of the Rannian blue-eyed sea-beast.

Superhero Radio Report!

Even though it's only been up for a week or so, Superhero Radio is taking off! So far, we're getting about 15 listeners a day. Most are from the U.S., but substantial numbers are from Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Oh, and four people in France. See? Even Rannie-sympathizers like Superhero Radio!

Soon we'll be acquiring the legendary J-Sinn Starr song "Green Lantern", much discussed on-line but seldom heard, a gift from J-Sinn himself! If you listen carefully to a certain other song about Wonder Woman, you can catch the lyrics "when she's lassoing crime, I always wish that I was crime!" How such ribaldry must tickle the French!

Merchandise for Superhero Radio, the Thanagarian Army, and the Absorbascon itself can be purchased at the Absorbascon Shoppe!

Share and Share Alike?

According to the latest sales figures, DC's market share is much closer to Marvel's than it used to be.

Is this just a blip, as DC's latest "Crisis" builds in popularity and Marvel's "House of M" is getting less attention (except from King Juan Carlos)? Or is this a trend? Has the genius of DiDio begun to overtake the jerkiness of Quesada?

What will happen with each company's movies coming out this summer? Are DC's steps to securing the kids' market starting to build readership? Comment with your own insights and take the sidebar poll on the subject.

Friday, May 13, 2005

What do Rannians study?

...Fleeing for their lives.
Begging for help from aliens.
Because it's raining.
That's what they study.

Of course, you know this means war.

Well, I was going to lay off the Thanagarian propaganda...until (my new and highly amusing archenemy for whom I am very thankful) Dial B for Blog threw down the gaunlet by calling Thanagarians stupid.

Let's see. Thanagarian children study fractal their spare time.

What do Rannians study...?

New DC Heroclix revealed!

If you have ever had the slightest interest in Heroclix, now's the time to get on board. The new DC Icon set's first images are up.

Run, don't walk, run to see them!

Stupid Author Quote

I'm embarrassed as a DC fan.

Because my beloved Thanagar is losing in my own poll? No. I just swill my enemies' blood from my "I Want You for the Thanagarian Army" stein, designing a little cottage for myself built entirely out of the bones of Rann-sympathizers...

Because the current issue of Aquaman is beyond my meager comprehension? No. I've wrapped myself up in a skirt and labcoat, reminding myself through the Aquaman gallery at Near Mint Heroes that Arthur has survived much worse (including Peter David and Rick Veitch)...

Because DC's new, cutting-edge logo is a decade behind the times and looks like it should be on a bathroom cleanser? No. The old logo was stupid; so's the new one. DC's uphipness is part of its charm.

Am I embarrased because Frank Miller's reason why we should buy All Star Batman & Robin is "This one's gonna have a lot of babes in it!" ? Pretty much. Like many readers, I've long since written off Miller as a whack-job whose greatness as a writer lies not in his work itself but in its effect on others (Kirby was like this, only not a whack-job).

The Batman titles have been the haven and heaven for strong female characters in the DCU. Not Wonder Woman, where woman get duped and abused so that WW can save them. Not Superman, where (despite all of Lois's gun-toting) women's job is to fall off buildings and out of helicopters. Batman gave us Sasha Bordeaux, Silver St. Cloud, Helena Bertinelli, Cassie Cain, Barbara Gordon, Selina Kyle, Renee Montoya, a no-longer invisible Maggie Sawyer, a respectable Onyx, Lady Shiva, Talia Al Ghul, Leslie Thompkins, Sarah Essen, Carrie Kelly (remember her, Frank?!), and I'm sure you could add to the list. For the love of Adam West, even Aunt Harriet pulled out a pistol to capture the great Chandel (or was it his brother Harry? In either case, the point remains...).

I know a lot of straight guys read comics and love the ladies, but trust me, as a gay guy I'd be just as mortified if Geoff Johns' recommendation of the new Green Lantern series was, "It's chockful of prime manflesh, folks!"

But what I am REALLY embarrassed about is that DC thought this was an appropriate quote to use in their advertisements for this extremely important new imprint.

You wonder why the general public doesn't respect comic books? Maybe because the people who make comic books don't respect them, either.

Thanagarian Army Posters Available

Thanks to Shane Bailey of Near Mint Heroes, Thanagarian Army posters and paraphenalia are now available at the Absorbascon Shoppe, where you will also find ancillary merchandise for Superhero Radio and the Absorbascon itself.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Message from the Front

Translated from Thanagarian Birdsong Code:

Trapped on this primitive planet and surrounded by Rann-sympathizers, I had begun to dispair of my mission to psychologically prepare this backward mudball for admission into the Thanagarian empire by using archaic "internet" technology as an artistic medium.

But recent turnabouts are heartening. According to my webpoll on our battle for the Earthers' devotion, we dedicated, hard-working Thanagarians are now tied with the epicene sybarites of Rann. Equally encouraging, planetary opinionmakers like The Comic Treadmill, Seven Hells, Polite Dissent have publicly sided with Thanagar.

Meanwhile, even as I write, hundreds of flocks of angry birds are winging their way to France...

Commercial Messages!

We interrupt our coverage of the Rann/Thanagar war for these messages from our sponsors...

This is my friend Devon, who, as you can see, lives in Washington. Unlike the French, he sides with Thanagar. Visit his interesting and amusing comic book website, Seven Hells!

Comic book weblogs have our own Dr. Mid-Nite: Dr. Scott at Polite Dissent examines comic books with his physician's trained eye to dissect their numerous medical mistakes. Like Aquaman, he enjoys wearing a lab coat.

She doesn't enjoy lab coats, but she likes Aquaman! Laura's Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog is a must-see for fans of the Lab-coated Sea King.

In case you've forgotten that, despite any other faults, Aquaman has always had the coolest covers, Absorbascon veteran Shane has ample evidence awaiting at Near Mint Heroes.

Overwhelmed by the glory of its latest entry, I wept when I visited the revered H's Comic Treadmill today. My dog wept, too. There much.. *choke* beauty in the world...*sob*!

France sides with Rann

This just in from my pals at Hegesias:

"Et ne croyez pas la propagande pro-Faucon de Absorbascon : les Thanagariens sont des fascistes impérialistes, mais sur le déclin (et les sectes nihilistes évoquées dans ce numéro achèvent de les rendre inquiétants). "

"Don't believe the pro-Hawk propaganda of the Absorbascon: the Thanagarians are imperialist facists, but on the decline..."

SO! My friends in France are siding with the RANNIES, eh? Huff!

No comment!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


You and me both, Arthur! The "marvelous Absorbascon apparatus" is utterly confused by this week's issue of Aquaman. Superfriends, put this in your supercomputers and see if can explain it all to me...

On the cover, whose hand is whose? Ordinarily, I wouldn't put up too much of a fuss about a cover where a man is forcing open Aquaman's mouth in preparation for kissing him (in fact, I once tried to commission a similar drawing from Ramona Fradon, but she declined). But the man seems to have Aquaman's hand?!?!?

Why do people in Sub Diego wear ties and skirts? Are they all insane? Do men get up in the morning from their kelp bed and think, "Mustn't be seen without a tie at my lack-of-a-job today! I might get excluded from a high-class sushi restaurant!" And skirt-wearing Amy Kingston? Her apartment has... a vase of roses? A drinking glass? An electric floorlamp? UNDERWATER!?!?!?

Does Aquaman have a labcoat fetish? He's wearing a labcoat over his regular outfit when he visits the coroner. Um, is that some kind of rule? It certainly looks silly and serves no purpose. Any way, still getting off on playing doctor, Arthur hightails it to Arkham to consult with the Scarecrow, just as an excuse to wear a labcoat again. Yes, if I were he, that would be my only condition: "Look, Dr. Niles, I am not going in there without a labcoat! Are you mad? I mean, yes, I'm Aquaman, but a man's got to be careful, for Neptune's sake!" I'm going to start wearing a labcoat as I wander the streets, because apparently it's very empowering.

People in Sub Diego breathe water but exhale oxygen? Uh..... Then what exactly are their bodies extracting from the water; hydrogen? I can come to no other conclusion. As Aquaman himself says in this issue, "Gibberish!" I call upon the good doctor at Polite Dissent to solve this biomarine mystery!

Does language in the DCU differ so dramatically from ours that the letter-tiles in Scrabble have different values? Y=10? K=3? O=2? C=2? Has anyone on the Aquaeditorial team ever played Scrabble? It's maddening. Then again, some how they managed to spell "DRFITED" in one of Aquaman's word balloons. Is this insidious subconscious metathesis, combined with the Aquahand clue on the cover, a secret message that Arthur himself is The Underwater Anagrammatical MouthBreathing Murderer?

"You smell like purple! Traffic light!" was just about the most comprehensible thing in the issue. What happened to Lorena going to Atlantis? Is Malrey not on the murder case at all? Has Aquaman finally started to get all wrinkly from being underwater so long?

Does Prof. Crane not know the meaning of the word "edify" or is it some arcane Lecter-like clue to Aquaman as the killer's identity? The only other explanation I can imagine is "Thesauritis" (an unhealthy expansion of vocabulary beyond a writer's actual understanding, a disease that sometimes affect authors writing about characters who are smarter than they are).

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF SCROD, if you have any theories to explain any of this, tell me immediately. Meanwhile, I'll just be laying here in a skirt and tie, wrapped up in a comforting labcoat, playing with Scrabble tiles, muttering, "You smell like purple! Traffic light!"

Rann Sucks, IV

Thanagar is an exporter of heroes. A pair of Thanagarian beat cops can land on Earth and become instant superheroes (and respected archeologists, despite a total lack of degrees, credentials, or experience). On Thanagar, regular folk become Earth heroes and archeologists on their vacations.

Rann is an importer of heroes. These bloodless feebs can't wipe their bespectacled noses without the help of Earthman Adam Strange, who, though powerless, seems to be the only person with brains and gumption enough to use any of their high-tech weapons. On Rann, Earth archeologist become regular heroes on their vacations.

How Thanagar is losing in the poll, I can not understand...! You cursed heroic types must be siding with the weak, undeserving underdogs.

Rann Sucks, III

Craven lickspittles that they are, Rannians offer themselves prostrate before any unknown passing goober who can fly a rocketship through a rainstorm.

Rann Sucks, II

"High-tech" Rann never managed to figure out laser eye-correction surgery either...

Rann Sucks!

Despite, nay, because of the fact that Thanagar is losing in the poll, I intensify my propaganda campaign against Rann.

Observe! Due to their short-sightedness in assigning only one scientist to their R&D department, Sardath, a self-centered bald guy, the Rannians have failed to develop salon-quality hair-care products.

Clearly, whatever that guy's experiments were, they involved loads of static electricity...

Thanagar Rocks, IV

Exhibit 4. The Thanagarians can learn everything that Rann knows in a matter of moments, using the marvelous Absorbascon apparatus.

Note well, regular readers, that the proper way to fully digest wisdom gleaned from the Absorbacon is to close your eyes, lift your eyebrows, and hold your chin lightly with the index finger and thumb of your right hand. Doing it with a friend is helpful.

Thanager Rocks, III

Exhibit 3. The Thanagarians invented Debit Cards and Direct Deposit

Thanagar Rocks II

Exhibit 2. The Thanagarians invented Tivo, the Barca-lounger, and the Discovery Channel. And possible Rice Krispie Squares as well.

Thanagar Rocks!

In celebration (?!) of the beginning of the Rann/Thanager War, I am taking my stand now:
Rann sucks, Thanagar rocks.

Exhibit 1: Thanagar invented the internet and on-line shopping.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Paul Von Gunther, on Politness

As previously discussed, Wonder Woman has some of most polite foes in comicdom, which is fitting since she is, after all, a lady. For example, the great Nazi spy, Paula Von Gunther...

"No, please -- I see I have upset you -- I'm sorry -- You need this cup of tea. Then I hope you will stay with me a long time!"
Baroness Paula Von Gunther, untitled first appearance against Wonder Woman

Even after you have kindly offered to send a young American girl to espionage school and pay her well so that she can betray her country but instead she rudely rejects your offer and questions your sanity, you should still be polite and offer your guest some refreshments.

Particularly when they are laced with sedatives or mind-altering drugs.

TV Batman, on Punctuality

BATMAN: I'll be back in three minutes and twenty seconds.

Villainous aren't the only ones with virtues, people; never said they were!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Stupid Hero Quote

"You mean they sent a woman out here to give me a hand? Trust headquarters to make a mess of things!"

Heh, heh. What hero said this and who did he dare say it to?

Superhero Radio merchandise is now available at the Absorbascon Shoppe (see link). Posted by Hello

The Animal Dynasty!

Speaking of formally lame characaters later revamped to greatness...

Let's revisit the Dynastic Centerpiece Model, this time in the company of... Animal Man!

Since Grant Morrison's fame-making revamp, poor Buddy Baker's been confined to walk-ons and cameos in other people's books (although, as the picture above from Hawkman shows, he's still got oomph enough to pronounce his name as logo; logo-mojo is strong DCU juju).

How would Buddy play out as the centerpiece of a heroic dynasty? Pretty darned well, actually!

Dynastic Centerpiece: Bernhard "Buddy" Baker. He never came back from dead, but he did grow his own arm back, which shows considerable sticking power. Actually, wait, he did come back from the dead, after his spirit stopped bouncing around various animals, but no one was reading his comic by then, so I think it doesn't count.
Female Counterpart: Mari McCabe (Vixen), of course. Duh. Like Buddy she can channel the powers of animals, but she relies on a magic totem to do so and doesn't seem as adaptive or creative in the use of her powers.
Junior Counterpart: None other than Gar Logan (Beast Boy). Able to turn into any animal he wants, he's a perfect junior counterpart because his powers are similar but different in how they manifest themselves.
Kid Sidekick: Hm, Beast Boy might have to do double duty. But there's a Charlton character DC might press into service: Nature Boy. They'd have to tone down his powers pretty dramatically so he wouldn't overshadow his mentor. Or simply make him unconfident and incompetent (we call this "Garthification" after a forgotten member of Aquaman's supporting cast, a.k.a. "Swimmy Olsen"). WAIT! Much better choice: Bomba The Jungle Boy, which DC is already culpable for, I mean, created themselves. Oh, yes, "Buddy & Bomba" is even more euphonious than "Batman & Robin"!
Elder Statesman: Jane Goodall? No, I know: Congo Bill (Congorilla)! This wacky "predecessor" to the Man With Animal Powers needs a place in the DCU again.
Black Sheep: B'wana, oops, I mean, Freedom Beast. Morrison already put this in place tidily.
Authority Figure: Clyde Beatty? No, he's dead. How about the mayor of (what remains of) San Diego? YES, it seems DC is ignoring that fact that Animal Man was living in San Diego when half it fell into the ocean to become Sub Diego. Geoff Johns, please fix this during the next commercial break, will ya?
Contextualizing City: Well, it was San Diego because of the zoo, but that's gone now. They say he's living in Montana (which would explain why no one ever sees him). Would you buy... Nashville? Don't laugh; it's got what's becoming the largest zoo in the country.
Civilian Companion: Roger Denning. You know. The guy with the receding hair line who pushed him to do the superhero thing.
Animal Companion. Oh, dear! I don't think that would work, would it?
Denominative Epithet: The Man With Animal Powers is accurate but not very colorful. Any ideas? The Menagerie Man? The Human Zoo? The Ark of Justice? The Red Knight? The Zoonic Avenger?
Signature Exclamation: Leaping Lizards! Taken? Really? Then let's vote on "Noah's Boat!" versus "St. Francis!"

TV Batman

ROBIN: Gosh, Batman, is there anything you don't know?
BATMAN: Oh, yes, Robin. Several things, in fact.

Time cannot diminish the glory of the Batman TV show....

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Keene on Comics

The Queen of the Universe has returned! Katy Keene is back and I was proud to get a copy of her "re-debut" issue (courtesy of Devon, who erreth not, at Seven Hells!)

You think Superman is invulnerable? Ha! One costume change and he became unrecognizable to his fans, who, their minds misfiring, donned red towels and flung themselves out windows as the universe attempted to fill the vacuum. Katy endured thousands of hideous outfits, page after page, for decades. While smiling. In heels. Now that's a superpower.

But let's remember Katy for her contribution to the entire industry: reader interactivity. Two generations before anyone dialed an 800 number to kill a Robin, readers were devising outfits for Katy and mailing them to the editors. Bizarre though some of those outfits might be, Katy wore them, inspiring a legion of future fashion designers.

Her new comic book is silly. A paper-thin plot. Pale jokes. That's okay, though, because it wasn't written for me.

Besides... the outfits are fabulous!

Flame On!

The time has come.

Nowadays, we have lots of female superheroes, even though until the Legion of Superheroes there were almost none. We have black superheroes, and while there aren't exactly lots of them, at least they're no longer required to be stereotypically "angry".

Gay superheroes are out there in the DCU; let's bring them together.

Firebrand, Blue Jay, Tasmanian Devil, Hero, the poorly named Off-Ramp, the vague and regrettable Josiah Power, even the legendarily disturbing Extrano. New gay versions of Madame Fatal, the Jester, Son of Vulcan, the Clock, the Red Gaucho, Captain Triumph, the Whip, the Red Bee, and, naturally, Mr. Scarlet and the Gay Ghost.

Let some heroes come out: Damage, Captain Marvel Junior, Airwave, Golden Eagle. Hey (other than Golden Eagle), they aren't being used for much of anything else. And Connor Hawke? Whatever! Kevin Smith's clumsiness notwithstanding, a small dollop of hypertime or "character development" could take care of that.

Let them interact with one another. Gay people, vastly outnumbered by straight ones, do seek one another out, you know. It would make for one wild miniseries, get lots of press, and probably attract many new readers (as opposed to the tawdry and temporary freakshow appeal of Marvel's Rawhide Kid series).

Go ahead! Flame me on this one...

And the Lame Shall Walk Again

My thanks to Dave of the world-famous Dave's Longbox for introducing me to Marvel villain Turner D. Century, who will help me make another point about the difference between Marvel and DC.

Am I going to say, "see how lame Marvel villains are, while DC villains are cool?" No.

The DCU gave us the the Mad Mod, Kadaver, Stompa, Orca the Whalewoman (so awful I could find you no useful link), the Eraser, and the Ten-Eyed Man; not even I am enough of a DC zealot to claim that DC villains are necessarily cool, folks.

The difference lies in DC's attitude toward "lame" villains (and other characters). DC revamps them, evolves them, or at least lets them stumble to a logical or ironic death. Let's see, just off the top of my head: CatMan, the Mad Hatter, Per Degaton, Black Manta, Blackbriar Thorn, Major Disaster, the (original) PsychoPirate, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Dr. Psycho, Firefly, the Calculator, the Fadeaway Man, Black Hand, the Riddler. These villains were all "lame" until the right writer got their hands on them. Do you now wish that they had been forgotten?

Marvel? In the Marvel Universe, they all would have been shot, in one panel, by Marvel's in-story version of white-out, the blank assassin Scourge.