Saturday, June 18, 2005

Calvin City, the big city with little heroes

Here's a fictionopolis DC has forgotten: Calvin City.

That hand in the picture, by the way, belongs to Barry Allen, Science Geek, Bow-Tie Geek, Comic Book Geek, and one of the great superheroes of all time.

Calvin City is where Al Pratt, the Golden Age Atom, lived, studied, and worked (although, to this day, no one quite knows what Al did for a living; I like to picture him as a piano mover). Calvin College was there, but, as we learned in the Silver Age it was clearly eclipsed by its tonier rival...

Ivy University, a high-class institute in Ivy Town, a suburb of Calvin City. Yes, Ivy University, where Prof. Ray Palmer, the Silver Age Atom, teaches.

Yes, Julie Schwartz made no personal connections between Al Pratt and Ray Palmer (in those days, from Ray Palmer's perspective, Al Pratt would have been just a comic book character!). But he still gave them a geographic connetion by relating their cities to each other.

We know Ivy Town still exists, so certainly Calvin City does, too (unless it was obliterated by an atomic blast like the city of Fairfield, but that's a story for another day).

Okay, DC; bring back Calvin City! It needs a hero; who should start living there? It would have to be someone who could stand to have the Atom as guest star.

What hero should DC place in Calvin City, gang? Maybe Black Canary? Mr. Terrific? Dr. Mid-nite? Perhaps Zatanna?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Next Stop, Fictionopolis

Coast City
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

What is it? Why, it's Coast City, of course, one of the DCU's fabulous fictionopolises. This empty shell doesn't really do it justice; you should have seen it when it was an enormous smoking crater!

The fictionopolis is one of the DCU's greatest tools. Although most of them have their origins in the Golden and Silver Ages, they were fairly indistinguishable from one another at the time (much like the heroes who made them home). In the Golden and Silver Ages, there was really no way to tell Gotham from Metropolis, unless there was someone you knew in the frame. Well... if it was dark out or there was a giant prop, you were probably in Gotham.

But as heroes in the post-Crisis DCU began to differ not just in powers, but in tone, philosophy, and personality, so did their cities.

First Gotham and Metropolis began to individualize themselves in ways complementary to their native heroes. Then when James Robinson invented Opal City to contextualize Starman, the phenomenon exploded. Nowadays, it is just as important to have a unique city to stage a hero's adventures in as it used to be to have a kid sidekick.

Coast City is a case in point. Even though it had been COMPLETELY BLASTED from the face of the planet, Geoff Johns found a way to bring it back to give Hal Jordan a fictionopolis of his own. So, too, Johns returned the Flash to a reconceived Keystone and invented St. Roch for Hawkman. A hero without his or her own city is just a player in someone else's story.

This why a "Contextualizing City" is part of our Dynastic Centerpiece model for building a mythos around a hero. Such cities must be fictionopolises; once you set a fictional superhero in a real city, it contradicts them instead of contextualizing them, and they're doomed. Poor Kyle Rayner is one such victim. It's also one of the things that has hampered Wonder Woman (Byrne's attempts with "Gateway City" did not succeed).

Lots of heroes have them already (e.g., Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Green Lantern). Some desperately need them (e.g., Martian Manhunter, Black Canary).

Fortunately, there are some pre-existing cities still lying aroung in the Limbo section of the DCU Atlas, and in future posts we'll dust some of them off and advocate their return!

I told you so

Usually I'm not the kind of guy to say "I told you so" but...

Well, okay. I am exactly the kind of guy who says "I told you so".

And I did.

I had a survey two months back asking who thought DC was going to outstrip Marvel in sales soon. The very idea was soundly pooh-pooh-ed by most commenters, particularly since Marvel trounced DC in March.

Well, guess what just happened? I told you so.

Of course, this is the part where, as a responsible blogger, I'm supposed to insert palaver about "comics shouldn't be a zero-sum game" and "it's foolish to pit the two companies against each other" and "we should all just be about focused on increasing overall readership for either company" and "can't we all just get along."



Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

Now that "Batman Begins" has refreshed the franchise, it's time to consider a sequel.

I've not hung out at any forums discussing such things, but I'm sure my own expection isn't unique.

The second film would have the Joker as the villain, possibly portrayed by Crispin Glover. I would expect the result of that to look something like this photo (that's not Crispin, but it does look like him).

The film would probably introduce Harvey Dent, since the previous DA got kacked in the first film. Toward the end, Dent would have his little "accident", setting up Two-Face for the third film.

Where the Scarecrow fits in to all this (if at all), I don't quite know. But if I don't get a Joker and a Two-Face that I'm happy with, I'll be, well, unhappy.

Nicholson and Tommy Lee Jones are fine actors, but they were miscast and misdirected in their respective roles. If the animated series can get it right, then so can the big-budget films!

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I like the Shrew Review. Its author brings thoughtful intelligence to her reviews, and, more than any reviewer other than Devon at Seven Hells, she makes it clear why she does or doesn't like something. I disagree with some of her takes, but I think that's mostly because I'm more steeped (or is it mired?) in the pre-Crisis DCU, and that gives me a different perspective. In fact, I disagree with a lot of what she says. But the fact that I like what she says anyway is what makes her work impressive.

I have never said one even remotely nice thing about Marvel on this blog. Until now. One of the wisest things about superheroes I've ever read was said (with incorrect grammar) by Mr. Fantastic: "People like us who don't periodically reinvent ourselves are too quickly forgotten." Of course, it took a DC writer, Mark Waid, to have him make that wise meta-statement.

I kvetched recently about the snoozefest that is Superman's "storyline". But the most recent issue of Action (written by Rucka) actually interested me. Gods help me, I'm actually sucked in by the drama of the amnesiac best friend ex-president turned supervillian after learning the hero's secret identity from another ex-president turned supervillain plot. I just have to figure out how this will lead to Lana becoming Insect Queen again...

Golden Arrow

golden arrow
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

Why don't you know who this man is?

He's Golden Arrow. He's one of the characters from Whiz Comics (the same fine folks who gave us Captain Marvel).

Son of a balloon scientist (don't ask) killed by bad guys, Golden Arrow was raised by an old prospector ("Nugget Ned", *snort*) as a prodigy of the Wild Western Arts of bear-wrasslin, antelope-chasin, and rattler-killin. He was an expert bowman, and for no apparent reason, wore a red and white sash around his waist.

DC owns the character (you can find him in the DC Encyclopedia). If Geoff Johns or James Robinson had come within 20 miles of Green Arrow, they would have sensibly linked him to Golden Arrow, giving him a bit more dignity than he has now as just a Batman/Robin Hood rip-off. Hey, Green Arrow could use all the dignity we can muster for him, because he's a gooberish fanboy, a sleazy womanizer, a loudmouthed know-it-all, and a deadbeat dad.

Green Arrow's ward Roy Harper (Speedy) was raised on a natives' reservation. Lots of opportunity there to link him to a hero of the old West. He might even be a descendent of Roger Parsons (that's Golden Arrow, to you, bub).

Couldn't Ollie be a big fan of the old West? His sassy attitude is very "cowboy", after all.

Couldn't Ollie have been enamored of the Legend of Golden Arrow? Wouldn't that as background give some context to his self-creation as Green Arrow, rather than his current origin (which just makes him seem like a bored, rich lunatic)?

Couldn't his interest in Golden Arrow have brought him into contact with young Roy Harper, and give him a stronger interest adopting as his ward (or whatever their relationship was)?

Great writers do great things. But making connections like this is a no-brainer. Why does it take greats like Robinson and Johns to actually make things like, say, connecting the Green and Golden Arrows actually happen?

Waist down

Waist down
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

Would I lie to you people? No.

As far as Hal's concerned, there are only two kinds of people in the world;

those who want Hal Jordan
and those who want to be Hal Jordan.

Yes, we all love Batman

love batman
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

As the wise Plastic Man noted, "Yes, we all love Batman," or perhaps more accurately, "Batman Begins."

But let's all weigh in, if we would, on what we liked least about the film. Not that we didn't love it; most people did.
Just for contrast.

There were snags in the plot and dialog, sure, but the thing I liked least was

Michael Caine.

He lacked Alfredity, and you know what I mean.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Trusty Sidekicks

Not only is "Sparky" short and cute (like Phil Jimenez), he's history's largest donor to SuperHero Radio, so we love him here at the Absorbascon. Please visit his comic book blog (which you probably haven't), Trusty Sidekicks. All those French Rannie-lovers who've been freeloading off his generosity should get down on their knees and thank Sparky (NOT Adam Strange) for giving them SuperHero Radio.

In other news, please note the new poll, an adjunct of one of our most popular features at the Absorbascon, the Stupid Hero Quote....


Somewhere in the middle of vast castle composed entirely of stupid comic books in a far distant land sits a man named Jotace whom I envy terribly.

Somebody was going to set me up with Phil Jimenez on a date once, which was cool because he's short, latin, and pretty cute. But how do you date a man's when you don't like his version of Wonder Woman? Sigh. I'm still willing to try it if you are, Phil! I'm through saving myself for Mike Weiringo.

Howcum everybody else's blog has a cool little icon thingie and mine doesn't? Help me, Adam Strange!

JLA Archive Volume 4

Time to pick an Archive Volume from the shelf and see what idiotic quotes it contains. Today's Volume is that fantastic Silver Age horror that was the JLA. Oh, poets wax rhapsodic nowadays about the glory of the old days, but, lemme tell ya, the stories in the books are so bizarre that if Morrison and Loeb had a love child and fed it nothing but hallucinogens and sugar-laden breakfast cereals, Loeb-ison couldn't come up with stuff HALF as weird.

"Like I'm a tardy card today, and, hey, what's the gay day that we have a flour tower to celebrate it?"
Okay, if you do not know who said this then you know nothing about the Silver Age. On the other hand, if you know what it means, then you know much much too much about the Silver Age.

"Somehow my voice made the rock's like trying to walk on a huge trampoline!" Wonder Woman
Well, it doesn't help matters, Diana, that you're fighting crime while wearing high-heeled sandals.

"It just struck me! When Flash dived into the ocean he didn't pause to take a deep breath, yet he's been underwater now for about half an hour!" Aquaman
Huh, and you thought Arthur was just another pretty face! Fortunately, the fake Flash didn't think to take a deep breath, or Aquaman would have simply thought he'd been holding his breath for a half hour.

"To say nothing about removing the effects of Adam Strange's super-brain emanations from Kanjar Ro so that he too is back to normal!" Green Lantern
Okay. The phrase "super-brain emanations" = LOL. The phrase "Adam's Strange's super-brain emanations" = ROFL.

"We may have been changed into crystal beings, but nothing can change our determination to fight against villainy wherever we find it!" Superman
The scary part is, Clark Kent writes for a living.

"As I shine my power ring on you, Superman, through this slide of kryptonite I willed into existence, it will weaken you enough so that the pill and the teleportation aura will take effect on you!" Green Lantern
Now, that, folks, is exposition, Silver Age style.

"Without my power ring I'm super-powerless...except from the waist down!" Green Lantern
Hal Jordan is not a modest man.

"Though you have changed into chrono-sand, you still possess enough life-force to understand the completeness of my victory!" Despero
Originally, Despero's only power was super-snarkiness.

"He's learning the proper use of superspeed, with super-swift intelligence!"

This wouldn't be so bad really...if Flash weren't talking about a superfast, super-intelligent dinosaur.

"I dare not let him come in contact with me to say Volthoom and vibrate me into his own world!" Hawkman
If you don't know what story this is from, stop everything and start googling until you figure it out!

I'm done crying now!

reverse hug
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

You know, Dr. Smith and Will Robinson used to do that very same thing on Lost in Space....

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Airwave Ain't the Only Hero On the Air

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.
SuperHero Radio is popular!

Very popular.

It's 65th on the list of Live365's hundreds of pop stations.

58 listeners have made it a pre-set on their on-line radio sets.

It has listeners in Sweden, Lebanon, Korea, Japan, India, and even Rannie-loving France.

Unfortunately, DONATING to SuperHero Radio is NOT popular. Despite the convenient SuperHero Radio button for donating over there in the sidebar, SHR doesn't pay for itself.

SO. I am prepared to sell commercial time.

YES, I can put your 15 to 30 second commercial in rotation on Superhero Radio for a fee. Why not make an mp3 and advertise your own blog? Hey, if they're listening to SHR, then they are your ideal audience!

The base price is $1 per each second of your commercial per month. A 30 second commercial will cost you $30 a month, air at least once every three hours.

There are a little number of spots, so let me know if you're interested!!!

Bruce's goodbye

Bruce's goodbye
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.
My original intention this morning when I pulled out my copy of the Golden Age classic "Bruce Wayne Loses the Guardianship of Dick Grayson" was to excerpt some panels ripe for satire, snark on Michael Jackson, and make some Wertham-like digs about Bruce's NAMBLA membership.

But instead, I cried.

Not "oh a tear glistens in the corner of one of my eyes" cried.


Maybe some other day I'll get back to laughing at them as if they were Gary and Ace. But in my heart I know they weren't. They were the father ever boy wanted and the son every boy wanted to be. They were the original "family of choice" long before it was fashionable.

I looking forward to them finally after 65 years getting their own title, the forthcoming Batman & Robin. I look forward to the forthcoming Heroclix Icons set with its Unique Dick Grayson Robin figure. And I look forward to seeing him in the movies, because, as you'll learn tomorrow night when you see "Batman Begins" we now have a cinematic version of Bruce Wayne for whom adopting Robin wouldn't seem strange but only natural.

Robin is STILL a sensational character find.

Brave New World

As long as the DCU is being shaken to its foundations (again), I'm going to ask for what I personally would like to see as series in a monthly line (and I encourage you to do the same).

Batman & Detective
a "Batman Family" title (a title that has one issue stories featuring Batman-related heroes, without him).
Gotham (with stories and plots featuring some of the supporting characters)
Animated Batman

Superman & Action
Superman Family (a la Batman Family)
Metropolis (with stories and plots featuring some of the supporting characters)
Animated Superman

Flash & Flash Family (Kid Flash, Max Mercury, Barry Allen, and Jay Garrick back in the day, Jesse Quick, Jonny Quick)

Wonder Woman

"Wonder Women" (a title featuring various female characters; hey, BOP is quite popular, you know!)
Animated Wonder Woman/Women (little girls can read, too!)

Aquaman & Hawkman

Martian Manhunter
and "Strange Adventures" (this book would be the home for all DC's unused alien and hardboiled detective types.)

Green Lantern & GL Corps

JLA & Brave & the Bold (a team up/solos book for the JLA's extended family)
Animated JLU
Animated Brave & the Bold

JSA & All-Star (a team up/solos book for the JSA's extended family)

Teen Titans & Legion
Animated Titans

A magic monthly & a space monthly & a cowboy monthly & a military monthly (weaving those worlds as big winding operatic storylines)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Papa spank

papa spank
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.
Hmm... perhaps Batman and Robin AREN'T so different from you and me after all.

You know, the scary part is, this is only the BEGINNING of the story!


Even the preliminary results from our new poll about DC Heroclix make it pretty clear: most of you have heard of it, but never played.

Well, do!

I'm not a "gamer". Never played anything like it before. That was all D&D miniatures "crap"; you know...for GEEKS.

Then they made something for comic book fans, which is, of course, a completely different!

Some of the rules can be a little screwy, but all in all they do a pretty good job of creating "powers" they make the figures play in the way the characters would act. Batman, for example, has "Stealth", a power that let him hide more easily than other figures.
Flash has "Hypersonic Speed", meaning he can run up, hit someone, then run away. You get the idea.

It may be hard to take the plunge to buy the game and start playing if you don't know anyone else to play with. That was the boat I was in. But I just bought some and then taught some other comic book buddies. We had fun and so they bought figures of their own. We play once a week! We keep it light and fun, and are more interested in how the "characters" play than whether we win.

Very soon, Wizkids, which makes Heroclix, will be releasing a new "starter set" for DC figures called "ICONS". The set will include a new Batman, the original Robin, Superman, the Joker, Lex Luthor in battlesuit, Harley Quin, and many others. It's a perfect time to jump on board and learn why a lot of comic book fans enjoy playing Heroclix.

Hot dogging

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.
Another visual metaphor brought to you by the Absorbascon's Department for Gratuitously Gay Posts.

Enjoy. Jimmy certainly seems to...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Or else!

or else
Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

This is very first installment of a new feature here at the Absorbascon, which we call "Batman and Robin are not normal people."

Case in point.

You think Batman's crabby now? PFah! The Golden Age Batman was the kind of guy who roughed up friggin' Santa Claus, people!

Crossover Finale

For those who are wondering, the crossovers in our last poll ranked out as follows:

1. 17% DC One Million
2. 16% Crisis on Infinite Earths
3. 10% Sins of Youth
4. 10% Invasion!
5. 8% Legends

The Silver Age, JLApe, Cosmic Odyssey, Underworld Unleashed, Eclipsoe, Final Night, and Zero Hour all got in the 3%-5% range.

Millenium, Bloodlines, War of the Gods, Armaggedon, and Genesis each received between 0% and 2% of the vote. Blech.

Hawkman replaced by Adam Strange

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

I saw this for sale on Ebay today: a customized Adam Strange Heroclix figure. Ironically, it's made from a Rookie Hawkman. What kind of human being would destroy a Hawkman figure to make an Adam Strange figure? Well, I guess the inmates at the asylums need to do something with their hands to keep themselves busy!

Anyway, I bid on it but didn't win. A shame, really; I had this Giant Flying Magnifying Glass all ready to go...

Like a Motherless Child

I myself no longer have a father, so on Father's Day I'm left to ask:
What's with the Motherless Children?

The current theory in the Spanish-speaking world is that Jesse Quick is the mother of the new Captain Boomerang. Age-wise, of course, that makes no sense, but there's a comic book way around everything. I had assumed that we were going to learn that the Barry Allen was in fact the father, but Digger Harkness's deathbed statements seem to confirm that the mother is the key. Would even Digger lie after he's already dead?

And on Father's Day, does Conner send the card to Clark or to Lex?

Progressive Ruin reveals itself

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

Yes, now it can be revealed.

Mike at Progressive Ruin, having accomplished his undercover goals, is now able to reveal that he is on the side of the free-thinking, laughter-loving naturists of Thanagar rather than the thin-lipped antiseptic technodrones of Rann.

You didn't think someone as wise and brave as Mike could be could really be on Rann's side, did you?

Foolish Rannies!

The Sounds of Silence: Frzzz!

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

I didn't notice this the first time I saw it, let alone appreciate it. It was in a Loeb story, and the only way to avoid the "Loeb headache" is to read too fast for the full impact of the stupidity to hit you.

Anyway, the sound of Mr. Freeze's freeze-bazooka is FRZZZZ. Brilliant! Not only is it a pretty accurate spelling of the sound effect they used for the gun on Batman the Animated Series, but it also says what it's doing: FREEZE.

The less said about the pitiful DKUSH dribbling out of that poseur Captain Cold's chilly-pistol, the better...

How Smart Is Batman?

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

Smart enough....

that he can make a telephone out of two pennies, a glass of water, table salt, and some blotting paper (whatever that is).

Long, long before there was MacGyver,
there was Batman.