Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Cross-Company Draft

"The cops of [Gotham Central] are the best [Gotham] has and being a Gotham cop is hard. They [operate] in a city where Killer Croc is not considered a major player and that is creepy. I love Marvel but honestly, if you set DC’s rogues loose in The Marvel Universe for just five minutes, they’ll come back to The DCU drinking Pimp Juice from Spider-Man’s jewel encrusted skull."

That was taken from a couple of Thor's Comic Column reviews that I, Devon of "Seven Hells!," have done over the last two years. Ideas, that while talking to Scip yesterday, spawned forth, a beautiful, wonderful idea.

DC and Marvel Comics NEED to hold a draft. A draft where characters can find a "home" after being overshadowed by far superior heroes and villains.

Let's face it: some characters work better than others. The Joker is a once-in-a-lifetime treasure. Marvel's Turner D. Century is a dime-a-dozen villain, worthy of a bullet in the head and yet, I wonder what he could have accomplished if he were afforded the respect of say a DC villain, like....I dunno...Chronos or The Clock King?

With that being said, I'd like to formally offer up for trade to Marvel, a character tailor-made for the Marvel Universe.

He's got everything a good Marvel villain needs. He has super-strength! He's misunderstood, a victim of circumstances beyond his control. He is a former professional wrestler as was the hero to whose Rogues Gallery I'd like to see him join. He is a thief, a master extortionist and a finer pimp you'll never find. He is...

Killer Croc!!!!

Marvel you need this monster! With the majority of Spider-Man's villainy (The Scorpion. Dr. Octopus. The Vulture. The Grizzly.) adopting some sort of animal totem, he'd fit right in. With the original Scorpion, Mac Gargan, currently filling the role of Venom, someone needs represent the "reptile" in Spidey's menagerie.

Who better than Killer Croc?

In a universe where killer clowns massacre innocents using poisoned fish, the DCU has little use for a super-powered pimp with a rash.

Killer Croc has super-strength AND he was a wrestler? So was Spider-Man. Marvel, can you imagine the carnage these two could inflict to downtown Manhattan? My God, I'm practically handing it to you!!!

What will DC take in return? Good question.

Seven Hells has a better answer....

Brave & The Bold

There are many pleasurable elements to the announcement that DC will start publishing Brave and the Bold again (as predicted by Seven Hells, by the way). But none as funny as this:

"It’s always going to be a tightrope walk between characters that we know will absolutely, positively goose the sales, and characters that may not be as hot, sales-wise at that moment, but regardless, are pretty interesting. We can’t do Adam Strange and Metamorpho, for example. No one’s going to buy that."

particularly since it was preceded several paragraphs before by:

"The fun of it, of course, is finding the plot devices that would allow you to have, say, Batman and Green Lantern in issue #1, and then Green Lantern and, hypothetically speaking, Supergirl in issue #2, and Supergirl and Hawkman in issue #3, or whatever..."

Heh. Being petty can be fun...

How Smart is Batman?

Smart enough...
to invent an untraceable "date drug"
for those cold, Robin-less nights.

Dark Knight Archives Volume 2

Let's see what choicy quotes from Batman await us within The Dark Knight Archives Volume 2 ...

"Now to crack a couple of nuts!"
The Golden Age Batman did not fight nice.

"I--I--I think I'm going to be a sissy and faint, Doc--sorry!"
Oh, Batman you're a sissy, but you're a polite sissy, and we love you for it.

"I've got money, good looks..."
And modesty, Bruce. Don't forget modesty.

"Next time I'll drive your head down so far you'll be able to chew on your shoes!"
Batman can also tell a pretty mean "yo' mama" joke, so don't sass him.

"I'm coming up there to get you! I'm walking up the steps now!"
An urban guerilla like Batman knows the value of the element of surprise.

"Let's borrow this car!"
Borrow? Borrow!? Face it, people, Batman's a crook.

"It's easy for anybody to put on a Batman costume and throw suspicion on me!"
Shut up, Batman, we saw you take the car.

"Now, Mr. Murder, let's see who--"
I guess he'll catch up with Mr. Mugger and Mr. Burglar later.

"C'mon, Robin, we've got a date with the Joker."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Starman's Drama is Beyond Mere Verbs

"Readers watching!

The Most Beautiful Object in the Universe

It's so--
so beautiful *sob*!

Old Grey Eyes

If you aren't reading Wonder Woman, please tell me why not.

I'm not an "automatic fan" of Greg Rucka's writing. I dropped Gotham Central because the whole "police procedural" routine just didn't do it for me.

But Rucka's work on Wonder Woman has me riveted. His characterizations and use of mythological figures is spot on (something that matters to me a lot because I'm a Classicist). He's created an intriguing supporting cast, revitalized her rogue's gallery, and shephered her through a heroic quest that's resulted in strong, positive character development for her, her companions, and her opponents. He's even given her a new "power"!

Her new ability, a greater intelligence in how she sees the world around her, comes from the gift of a portion of Athena's eyesight. This shows substantial erudition on Rucka's part; in Classical literature Athena's frequent epithet "grey-eyed" was symbolic of her ability to see the world more wisely and dispassionately than her fellow gods. Rucka's followed through by having Athena's intelligence and wisdom allow her to take control of a new Information Age Olympus. Now that WW shares Athena's vision, her new eyes are prominently colored grey (DC artists: do not EVER forget this henceforth!) and she perceives much more clearly her immediate surroundings.

A good writer like Rucka doesn't TELL us this, he shows us. John Byrne would have had WW say, "By partaking in a share of the divine vision of my patron and ruler of Olympus, grey-eyed Athena, goddess of wisdom, I now have to ability to perceive the world as it is, not as others might wish it, and other people as they truly are, not as they wish to be perceived! It would seem that, though no longer the goddess of truth, yet I remain its acolyte." *Sigh*.

But Greg Rucka allows Wonder Woman to realize that Cassie needs to be left alone to process her new knowledge about her father; that her associate whose child she brought back from the dead is still uncomfortable with her because she caused the death to begin (a brilliant touch of emotional realism from Rucka); and that the staffer whom we readers thought had a crush on her is actually a Checkmate spy. All of this happens simply, subtly, and immediately.

This subtle power is not only a logical extension of Athena's power, but of Wonder Woman's, almost as if her lasso were now, well, in her eyes. Superman, with his super-vision, sees. Batman, with his deductive powers, observes. Now, Wonder Woman, with her grey eyes, perceives.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Krakks in the Facade


Is the identicality of the KRAKKs an homage or is there some sort of template they use for this stuff? Pardon me if I'm being naive...

Can some of you art-types explain it to me?

Tarnished Wings of Silver...

Oh, happy innocent Silver Age Batman & Hawkman--*sob*--
what .... what happened to you? *choke*!

By the way,
the sound of a right cross is still "KRAKK".


The Emperor Without Clothes

All-Star Batman & Robin #1 is atrocious.

The art is lovely. The lettering is exemplary. The writing is overwhelmingly crappy.

I don't know any woman who talks like this version of Vicki Vale, and I hope I never do. "How lame is that?" "That's so cool!" Frank Miller may be writing her for the slavering adolescent fanboys of Wizard Magazine ("It's got a lot of babes in it!"), but that doesn't mean she should talk like them. It undermines the character's credibility, particularly since she's supposed to be a high-class columnist.

Frank. Repeating things does not make them meaningful. Repeating things does not make them meaningful. Repeating things. Does not. Make them. Meaningful.

Batman's been stalking Dick Grayson? Waiting for his parents to die, or what? You're just creepy, Frank.

There was classic comic book irony to the original death of Dick's parents, by falling. The "Flying" Graysons became the Dying Graysons. Shot in the head by snipers? Nothing Frank can pull out of his butt in this storyline can possibly justify this needless and savage rewrite of the second most important moment in the Batman & Robin mythos.

*Sigh*. Did Robin's origin really need corrupt, child-abusive cops, Frank? Is watching your parents die in front of you not enough?

Everyone who's seen the original scene of Batman comforting Dick after his parents have died will never forget it. Everyone who's seen Frank's version of Batman "drafting" Dick as a "soldier" in his "war" will spend the rest of their lives trying to forget it. Yes, Frank, "Jason was a good soldier"; or to Carrie, "Good soldier". We get it, Frank. It's stupid, unrealistic, and makes Batman horribly unsympathetic. Stop it, or go write Captain America.

No one wants "Batman & Robin" to succeed more than I do (well, maybe DiDio). But I know an Emperor Without Clothes when I see one. I just hope the title survives Miller's idiocy and that no one gives the book to any children until it's got a new writer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The REAL Cat-Man

As anyone reading Villians United knows, the re-invented Cat-Man is the sensational character find of 2005. Cat-Man's original shtick had been a cape of questionable magical properties that granted him nine lives, and an unhealthy fixation on Batwoman (*snort*), so when she fell from public view, so did he. He had the chance to die a couple of times before then; fell into a cataract, hit a buoy with his speedboat. You know, fun "watery grave" stuff that lets you bring villains back later. Why, the Joker "falls to his death" into the water so much, Aquaman made him an honorary citizen of Atlantis. But I digress...

Wacky Bob Rozackis, his mind affected by breathing the fumes that back issues emanate, brought Cat-Man back in 1977 to fight the Freedom Fighters in Minneapolis. Scary; don't think about it.

Then Len Wein used him in 1980 in a Catwoman story, during one of her "good girl" periods, where he tried to frame her for his crimes. Another great Cat-Man water death; falls into a live geyser. Yowtch.

Society's enemy Gerry Conway (*shudder*) brought CM back a year later in a follow-up, another face off against Catwoman. This time he fell off his yacht and into the bay, from which he had to be rescued because he "couldn't swim". I'm sure Ger thought that was so darned cute (cats can't swim, har har har!) that it was worth ignoring the 14 or 15 previous times Cat-Man survived a watery grave. Dork.

For an "obscure villain," Cat-Man has been remarkably busy. He worked for the Joker against Killer Croc (who killed him ... well, almost). Later he broke into the Batcave, believe it or not. He worked for Brainiac during Crisis (1985). He worked for Ra's (1986). He fought Manhunter Mark Shaw (1987). He tangled with Catwoman (1990). He kidnapped the mayor of Gotham (1992). He fought Catwoman (again!) and the Cat-Cult he stole his magic cape from (1995). He told Neron to buzz off (1995). He fought G'Nort (1998). [Not many characters could tell off Neron AND fight G'Nort; Cat-Man is astonishingly versatile.]

More recently, when the Gotham earthquake hit, he hoodwinked the KGBeast during a prison break-out and escaped by swimming away. Must get that issue and mail it to Conway. Fought Black Condor II in Opal City. In JSA #28, he's in the audience at Roulette's House. Yeesh, Cat-Man is a more frequent "special guest villain" than Burgess Meredith!

Then, during his run on Green Arrow, Brad Meltzer re-introduced him as a washed up loser and wife-beater (Hi, Brad!). Brad's unflattering portrayal of CM was the last straw for the angry Cat-gods, it seems, who commanded DiDio et al. to MAKE CAT-MAN COOL. Not "cool again"; Cat-Man had never been cool before. He was always just another villainous "rip-off" of Batman. Or WAS he...?

In fact, Cat-Man is a copy of another hero entirely: Cat-Man.

The original Cat-Man was a Golden Age hero with 33 issues of his own comic published during 1940-1946. He was created by Holyoke Publications, whose company unheavals resulted in a complex numbering system for Cat-Man issues, comprehensible only to people like long-time Legion fans.

Cat-Man was your standard sock-'em-in-the jaw kind of guy, in a jarring reddish-orange and yellow costume that looked, well, exactly like DC's Cat-Man. He was Army captain David Merrywhether, who, abandoned in the jungle as an infant, had been raised by tigers. No, really. Naturally, this gave him felinified powers and abilities. It's a comics thing.

The Cat-Man Comic was notable for three reasons. (other than the eye-stabbing brightness of his costume).

First, Cat-Man had a female sidekick named, of course, "Kitten" (*snicker*!). She was his, um, "female ward", Katie Conn. Rrowwr!

Second, his comics had gorgeous cover art, courtesy of Puerto Rican artist Alex Schomburg and L.B. Cole (see illustration at right), which has made the Golden Age rarities pricey acquisitions.

Third, Cat-Man Comics housed Joe Kubert's first comic book story, "Voltron", which he pencilled, inked, and lettered ... at age 12. You go, little Joe!

Now, none of this should be confused with the 1950s Australian comic, Catman, who looked exactly like the love-child of the original Cat-Man and the Golden Age Starman (what DRAMA!).

Anyway, if modernized ultra-cool (and, I might add, disturbingly studly) Cat-Man doesn't get a sidekick named "Kitten" by the end of the year, I'm going to be mighty disappointed!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

When I was born

When I was born....

Eclipso tried to destroy his alter ego / arch enemy Bruce Gordon by using a giant, red ore-crushing robot.

Named "Roger".


Why are robots always red?
Who names an ore-crusher?
Why would it have feet?
Does Eclipso not know how to use a gun?

The Silver Age is like my dog;
I love it, but it really makes my head hurt.

Victory is Cold and Dark

Ordinarily I don't brag about my Heroclix victories (on-line anyway) ... because I usually lose. But, because I'm still bitter over losing certain other competitions (damn you, Wangari Maathi, and your trendy, pacifying headwear!), I'll revel in my win at last's night clix table (despite the risk of on-line or real-time retaliation from a noted blogger whom one does not wish to anger).

We played two games to inaugurate the new water and ice map from Xion Studios; no blocking terrain, only six squares of terrain to stealth in, basically a tiny icy shooting gallery. For giggles, I fielded a "Cold and Dark" theme team of villains; Experienced "Please Heal Me with Your Warmth!" Killer Frost, Rookie "Slowly Moving Target" Mr. Freeze, Rookie "Not in the Face!" Obsidian, Rookie "I'll Be Way Over Here" Shade, Rookie "Worst Dial Ever" Penguin.

A fun, but hopeless team, particularly since the other two teams included the likes of the illegal promo Batman from Icons & Veteran Arcane, a "Four Elements" group of Hawkman, Aquaman, Firestorm, and Clayface, a JSA group of Mr. Terrific, Stargirl, Black Canary, Hawkgirl, and the Asian tigers Talia, Ra's Al Ghul, and Lady Shiva.

I won. Twice. I didn't even lose any figures. There are gods, people, and they are evil!

Why did I win? Because my mind channeled the collective genius and expertise of Per Degaton, Vandal Savage, Kanjar Ro, the Ultrahumanite, and all world-conquering DC villains who always lose. That, and nearly constant use of Stealth, Smoke Cloud, and Barrier on a map where hiding was difficult. Best moment? The Penguin clobbering that preening poseur Ra's Al Ghul with a critical hit. I almost called my mother: "What's that, Ma? Your grandchildren have formed a musical group and are appearing on next week's Star Search? That's, um, real cute, Ma, but let me tell you about my Rookie Penguin...!"

Give DC Heroclix a try, gang. It's more fun than you think!

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Human Flying Fish Speaks Out!

There is no justice in this world!

I, Vic Bragg, am the Human Flying Fish, bravest criminal of ALL TIME. Once you have seen me, my image is burned upon the back of your retina for all time; close your eyes, for I am there!

Why am I not in Villains United?! Ragdoll? Crime Doctor? The friggin' CATMAN? What about ME?!

Before there was Dr. Geist, there was Dr. Krill. When Dr. Krill, your average criminal mastermind / marine biologist / surgeon, needed a human guinea pig for his bizarre experiments to twist the human form by installing gills into lungs, what did I say?

"Sure, doc, I'll play guinea pig!"

Now, THAT'S bravery, folks. I had to recovery for several months after my surgeries (Doc performed those on a hijacked "Hospital Ship"; oh, they're all over the ocean, really). Was I scared? No.

Was I scared to don a golden yellow wetsuit with water wings and look like Esther Williams brain-damaged offspring? No.

Okay, one does put on some weight after several months of bedrest, and I was afraid of looking fat in front of the fans, so I had Paul Gambi whip me up this snazzy bodice with slimming purple and white stripes and a snug little black cinch; stylin'!

So with only some risky experimental and unnecessary surgery on my lungs, a few months of bed rest, and a willingness to dress like Batman's astonishingly flamboyent cousin, NOW look at what I can do. I can catch seagulls, man. Do have any idea what the black market for seagulls is? I'm telling you, that Doc Krill's a friggin' genius! He's right, we were ready to clean up a fortune!

I started by scoring this discarded beachball that had floated out to sea. I wanted to sell it on E-bay but Doc said, naw, we'll ransom it back to the kid's family. Doc's a smart one! He's a mind-reader, too, as you can see. As you can see from the panel, Doc can hear my thoughts! I think I love him.

Well, I would have gotten away with it -- except for that dork, Aquaman. Who wears gloves to go swimming? Dang it all; do you know how hard it is to find an undamaged, lost beachball? Aquaman can ruin anything; the Superfriends, the Atlantic Ocean, even the Detroit League; loser.

Then he caught me when I was trying to steal an empty box. Ever notice there are no Container Stores at beach towns? There aren't. Doc coulda found a buyer for that box, and we woulda been living on easy street, with enough money for me to go on wearing gold lame skintight costumes and for Doc to continue performing radical surgeries on my vital systems for the rest of our friggin' lives, man. Doc and I would have been so... happy *sniff*!

Shut up, Aqualad, you big-headed purple-eyed little FREAK! When we get out of prison several decades from now, Doc and I are gonna track down that box and mail it to Aquaman with your severed mishaped dwarf head inside, no matter how many years or stamps it takes! No one mocks the Human Flying Fish ... and lives.

The Name's Xavier. Marco Xavier

I want Marco Xavier to come back.

Back in the 1960s when guys like Hawkman and Aquaman were cashing in on the secret agent craze, Martian Manhunter got in the act, too (as I was reminded by a faithful Absorbascommenter!).

Believe it or not, from July 1966 to April 1968 (House of Mystery 160 -173), the Martian Manhunter abandoned his "John Jones" identity and adopted the identity of deceased European playboy Marco Xavier. MM himself accidently caused Xavier's death, but that was okay since Xavier was a bad guy anyway (that sort of thing used to happen a lot in the Silver Age, and heroes never lost any sleep about it; when did heroes become so namby-pamby that they'd get their panties in a bundle about a little magical lobotomy, for pity's sake?!).

How bad was Xavier? Why, he was an agent of the evil superspy organization Vulture (eek!), headed by the horrible "Faceless." So, J'onn operated as a counterspy, infilitrating Vulture in order to destroy it. In a twist, Faux Marco was assigned by the organization to be their point man in fighting ... see whether you can guess it ... the Martian Manhunter.

OH, the comic book irony! Comic books love irony; the serial nature of the medium effectively precludes real tragedy or comedy, so the comic books are layered with nearly 70 years of irony instead. This wasn't the first or last time we've seen the "my good guy and bad guy secret IDs are in conflict" routine. Early Plastic Man was at odds with his other identity, Public Enemy Eel O'Brien. A memorable storyline in the Batman Adventures pitted Batman against Matches Malone. I'm sure the Absorbascommenters will chime in with more!

Anyway, the Faux Marco finally apprehended Faceless who turned out to be ... see whether you can guess it ... the Real Marco Xavier (who was not so dead after all)!

OH, the comic book irony!

What a great schtick for J'onn! C'mon, DC! He could be a black native of Federal City, secretly a white evil spy (maybe for Checkmate, whose name is about as silly as "Vulture"), supersecretly a green superhero! Where DOES he find the time?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Trumping Ace

Yikes, if you thought Batman was hard on his human assistants ... poor Ace!

But remember, Batman and Robin are not Perfectly Ordinary Americans.

Perfectly Ordinary Americans do not hit dogs. With a sock to the jaw. While making jokes.

People like that grow up to become serial killers, Batman.

FYI, readers, a bit of advice from a dog professional. If you are in an altercation with a violent dog, trying to sock him in the jaw makes about as much sense as putting your hand into a garbage disposal. A dog's reaction time is much faster than yours, and it will simply shred your fist with clamp-like jaws that are lined with 42 nearly unbreakable bonecrushing arrowheads and that can exert the same amount of pressure as that within a locomotive's steam engine ... in some cases, more.

Then you will be the one saying "e-e-e-yipe", at least until you pass out from pain, at which point the dog will crush your trachea, then start eating all your soft parts.

Be good to dogs, folks.

Gayest Couple Poll Results

Okay, the overwhelming winners in our Gayest Comic Book Couple Poll are Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.

I respect this, but I think it just goes to show one thing: most Absorbascon readers don't know many gay couples!

Hey, I'm just as willing as the next guy to read gay subtext into comic book where it doesn't belong. But despite the closeness of their friendship, Blue and Gold had all the classic earmarks of straight buddies encouraging each other in adolescent irresponsibility and covering each other backs (um, so to speak).

And what a classic pairing they were! A shallow BMOC desperate to hide his feelings of loneliness and mental inadequacy and a science nerd who wanted to hang out with the BMOCs. They had zero problems admitting and expressing their fondness for one another, which smells much more like guys comfortable with their heterosexuality than guys struggling with their homosexuality.

Catman and Deadshot? Now THOSE are closet cases...