Thursday, August 31, 2006

Visit MySpace

Okay, I'm not sure I entirely understand this, but I'll do it anyway...

Big Monkey Comics has a, um, "space" at MySpace. I'm told this means something to The Young People Who Need To Get Off My Lawn.

Anyway, all the Little Monkeys at the store put it together as way of helping Friends of the Big Monkey connect. What do I know? I still use postcards.

A lot of Devon's many friends in the comic book industry have become "Friends of the Big Monkey": Cameron Stewart, Brad Meltzer, Dennis Culver, Mike Wieringo, Tara McPherson, Marc Andreyko, Allen Heinberg, Brian Wood, Todd Nauck, Justin Gray, Cully Hammer, Matt Silady, Sean Dulaney, Warren Ellis, Brad Walker, Robert Kirkman, Talent Caldwell, Jim Trabold, Elizabeth Genco, Brian K. Vaughn, Caleb Monroe, Eric Johnson, Andy Smith, Geoff Johns, Len Kody, Jon Favreau, George Khoury, A. David Lewis, R.D. Hall, Joe Infurnari, Danielle Corsetto, Dwight MacPherson, Jason Rodriguez, Ed Brubaker, Aaron McGruder, and probably some I just didn't notice.

I don't have one these "MySpace" thingies 'cuz the nice people at Witness Relocation won't let me. But the Big Monkey Comics space is close enough, so I'd like it if all of you who regularly read (and enjoy) this blog would pop on over and "befriend" Big Monkey Comics at MySpace.

And tell them the Rolling Head of Rambo sent you!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clean House. Please.

You know what my favorite television show is? You might be surprised.

It's Clean House, hands down. No question.

If you've never see the show, it goes like this. People whose homes and lives are overwhelmed with clutter and disarray call for help, and are descended upon by brassy diva Niecy Nash and her trio of expert fixer-uppers. They cajole, wheedle, shame, and bribe the homeowners into unclutching their crap, then (in unparalled hypocrisy so achingly beautiful it brings tears to my eyes) unload it onto other people at a yardsale, whose proceeds contribute to the redecoration of their homes.

On every show, these people -- who, remember, have called Clean House knowing darned well what they do -- stand around shocked and in denial about the very crap that forced them to call, saying things like:

  • "Those dolls are my babies."
  • "But I love that broken sewing machine!"
  • "My grandma gave me that macaroni."
  • "That's a project I'm planning on working on."
  • "I paid good money for that in 1987!"
  • "Do you know how hard that is to find?"
  • "Oh, but I collect bread bags."
  • "That phone book has sentimental value."
  • "I'm saving that for my children."

It. Is. Tragic. One does not "love" things. One loves people. One loves dogs. Not cats, of course; cats are evil. But you get the idea; do not love anything that cannot, at least in theory, love you back.

"That's nice, Scipio; what does any of that have to do with comic books?"

Quite a lot, actually.

First, there's the cluttered home that is the DCU (or, really, any publisher's "universe" over time). Every once in a while, the accumulated baggage has to be evaluated, sorted through, and prioritized. One must retain the essential, jettison the extraneous, and repurpose the salvageable. Closet room is made for new colorful characters, literary rooms are furnished with new plots, and the carcasses of broken-down crossovers are cleared from the yard.

Those housecleanings can be rough. Even a "Clean House" fanatic like me can cling tightly to purposeless continuity tchotchkis, blinded to how refreshing a clean literary house can be. But I try to remember that all the clutterbugs on the show who actually trust the experts to do their stuff are always -- ALWAYS -- delighted with the results (and even if the specifics of the design aren't perfect, the streamlined living space is a refreshing new start). Well, not always; there was the legendary Judge Dragon from the first season, but she was obviously seriously disturbed and clearly not an appropriate model of behavior.

Second, there's the cluttered homes our comic books find themselves in. When I meet new people and they learn of my interests, they usually say, "Oh, so you collect comic books?"

I always say the same thing: "No. I just read them."

If you watch a lot of Clean House (and I do; I TiVo it; I burn it to DVD; I watch it on the laptop while sunning at the beach), you'll notice that the word group "collect / collection / collectible" crops up FREQUENTLY. It's the ultimate red flag and the Clean House crew never fails to swoop down mercilessly on these pointless "collections" of frisbees, shot glasses, soccer balls, and salt-&-pepper shakers.

Starting about 10 years ago, I started purging my accumulated back issues every couple of years. Without looking at anything within the boxes, I mentally pick out some things I want to keep, pull them out, and farm out the rest.

The first time I did, I advertised the bulk of my collection as being for sale. A young couple came to check it out. As the husband (the real buyer, of course) looked through the books, his eyes spun pinwheels as he marveled at a literal myriad of stories he'd never heard of. They were young; they were poor; they couldn't afford more than a third of what I was asking for.

But they got it all anyway. The opportunity to share the joy those old stories had given me with someone who cared about the DCU as much as I do -- I couldn't put a value on that.

Another time, instead of selling them, I donated all but a few choice ones to a local charity, a home for children with AIDS. It's tax deductible, you know.

Last time, I forfeited them to the Big Monkey E-bay store to help jumpstart the business. I'll probably be doing that again soon. I'll pick out a few things to save, like my Detroit League run; I mean, it's not like that's going to be in trade paperback any time soon. But the rest of everything else "pre-Infinite Crisis" will go out to give someone else pleasure.

I've got enough to do reading my new comics without pretending that I'm going to go back and spend time re-reading my "collection".

PLEASE. Consider selling, donating, or giving away your old comics to help perpetuate our hobby. Besides; you deserve a Clean House.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heads Will Roll!

It would be remiss of me not to make some comment on the first issue of Justice League of America, one of DC's most anticipated events.

While I certainly didn't enjoy the issue as much as H of Comic Treadmill, it was engaging. I don't like Brad's writing of the Big Three; it reeks of fan fic. And if he's trying to show that the Big Three are friends, he's hiding it pretty well; above all, friends should share respect for one another, not the eye-rolling indulgence that seems to infuse their interactions in Brad's writing. Brad read too much Marvel growing up, I think, and while there are few people I know who love DC's character's more than he, his idea of writing them as realistic adults is colored by 'the Marvel Way'. Read Identity Crisis again and pretend it's a Marvel book; you'll see immediately what I mean.

Brad, if you're reading this, no offense, man; you know I love ya, and I'll see you soon on the DC trip.

But as much as I don't love his writing of 'greater' characters, whom he humanizes to their detriment, I do love his writing of 'lesser' characters, whom he humanizes to their betterment. In the case of the Red Tornado, the humanization is literal and I'm delighted. I've never been interested in the Red Tornado, a tragic Marvel rip-off if ever there was one, and a nearly obscene bastardization of a Golden Age character. But Brad has changed that for me in one issue, and that's impressive, simply by removing the stereotypical qualities that RT had always been reduced to: he's a robot and he blows up a lot.

Speaking of robots, he writes the Metal Men beautifully. They aren't ridiculous cartoons, but they aren't really complete people either. They're basically intelligent creatures, but their range and focus is more limited then ours; they're not simple, just simpler. Platinum, for example, can't just "get over" Doc Magnus or even understand why her love is futile; it's not in her nature. I suppose ... the Metal Men are sort of like dogs.

As for humans, well, he's nailed Vixen (but, then again, who hasn't?). More interestingly, he's found a unique angle for Black Lightning that not only gives him exciting story possibilities but still harkens back to his origins as a 'hero of the street'. Bravo on that one, Brad.

And Brad knows how to write villians, too. While Gail Simone has probably done the most for revitalizing DC's villains, Brad started the trend brilliantly in Identity Crisis and is obviously continuing it in JLA. I'm happy finally to see "Dr. Impossible" in person, a character I knew was in the works (I actually suggested that name...!) and who seems a lot cooler than I was expecting.

So to celebrate Dr. Impossible and the rolling heads of the Metal Men...

Model Gold: Offline.
Model Platinum: Offline.
Alarm engag-ed.

Okay, so I had to cheat to get the last line to work; it was worth it. How many opportunities for Head Rolling Haiku does one get?

Does this robot decapitation inspire any haiku from you?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Friends! Readers! Comic Fans! Lend me your eyes!

I come to bury Major Victory, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interréd with their bones,
So let it be with Major Victory. The noble Stan Lee
Hath told you Major Victory was parodic:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Victory answered it….

Here, under leave of Stan Lee and the rest,
(For Stan Lee is an honourable man;
So are all the contestants; all honourable men and women)
Come I to speak in Major Victory's valedictory….
He was my hero, faithful and just to me:
But Stan Lee says he was parodic;
And Stan Lee is an honourable man….

He hath brought many screencaps to my home,
Whose rafters did with general laughter fill:
Did this in Major Victory seem parodic?
When that the other contestants have cried, Major Victory hath wept:
Parody should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Stan Lee says he was parodic;
And Stan Lee is an honourable man.

You all did see that on the canine chase,
the lost child, the burning building, all of
Which he did thrice conquer: was this parody?
Yet Stan Lee says he was parodic;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Stan Lee spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the TiVo there with Major Victory,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hex Sign

There are few people I know whose opinions about superhero comics I give as much weight as, well, my own. And only two would I could safely classify in any way as "Marvel fans". Devon, of course, is one.

This is the other:Although he seldom actually bursts into song,
Jonnie likes to keep three backup singers around, just in case...

That guy is the front is "Jon Hex", a frequent commenter here. He has a blog--well, it's one of those LiveJournal thingies, but I guess that counts. Check it out; it's good; Jon is wise.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Dominators in ... "The Unkillables!"

This is the story I mentioned before, the one that introduced the Dominators into the DCU in 1967. The Dominators are a perfect example of a phenomenon I call "los Boomerangeros": characters introduced as a throwaway plot device in a (usually Silver Age) story, winds up come back as pillar figure in later stories.

Copperhead, the Mad Hatter, Bizarro, Metallo, Star Boy, Ultra-Boy, Mon-El; they and many others are Boomerangeros, because if you read their first appearances you'll be surprised how secondary they are. They are merely slapdash props used in stories whose real focus is Secret Identity Farces, Jealousy Dramas, Apparent Betrayals, Inverted Expectations or any of the other tedious soap opera plots characteristic of Silver Age DC comics. Only later do other writers fill such characters out and make them into pillars of their respective mythologies.

Such was the fate of the Dominators. But how did these alien Boomerangeros start out?

The plot of their initial story, "the Unkillables", requires the existence of some political bad guys that the Legion must protect to facilitate a peace treaty. So instantly we are informed that the United Planets has been at war with an imperialistic race known subtly as "the Dominators".

Really? The entire UP in a 20 year war, huh? Amazing how something that important's never once been mentioned before in any Legion story. I guess CNN doesn't survive to the 30th Century.

Anyway, a lot of people are none too happy about the prospect of the Dominators receiving an easy peace.

The "Panties Against Peace" Rally

The Dominators destroy not only planets ... but pants.
Curse those disc-heads! "Stay the course!"

What are the Legionnaires doing, while war has been ravaging the UP for the last 20 years? Oh, you know, the usual ...

Chopping wood.

I detest Karate Kid; martial artistry is not a superpower,
and KK represents to me all pathetic attempts to create fad-based characters.
And, no, Vibe does not count.


I love Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel. Her power's not overwhelming in force, but it is overwhelming in concept; you can imagine what it's like to be any of the Legionnaires -- except her, because how she perceives the world is incommensurable with our unary worldview. Plus, she can pull off wearing orange and purple, which is more of a superpower than "super-karate". Oh, and, as former Second Foil on the Dartmouth Fencing Team, I'm delighted to see that fencing enjoys a renaissance in the 30th century.

Lifting weights

If you read a lot of Legion, you'll notice this is pretty much all B5 and Superboy do in their spare time. Variations of this scene have appeared in scores of Legion stories over the years. Does Brainiac 5 have a crush fetish? What is this adolescent literalist fascination with how much weight Superboy can lift? I think he and B5 must be the secret editors of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

So these exciting leisure activities are interrupted by an urgent summons from the UP president, who's going to assign them to escort the Dominators to a peace conference. On the way to visit him, the Legionnaires pass through all manner of "futuristic" security measures, including this personal favorite:

The X-Ray Tunnel
Film? FILM?!?!?! How... quaint.
Apparently, old-school photography (along with fencing)
experiences a renaissance among spies in the 30th century.
I blame Elastic Lad.

Oh, before we return to the story proper, I wanted to share some slides of a party I went to during my vacation in the 30th century; thanks for the invite, Blockade Boy!

Notice that I always put up a struggle at such events;
adds spice to the proceedings.

So, anyway, this guy, "the Master" has a plan to wipe out the Dominator peace ambassadors and their protectors, the Legion:

He also has a copy of the Starman Archives under his pillow, I bet.

The Master ensures that his "unkillable" assassins are armed with the latest in 30th century killing technology:

A blade. Hah! Let's see the Legion of Super-Heroes stop that!

Meanwhile, the Dominators meet with the Legion.

The Dominators are the "opening act" for the Unkillables:
"Are you ready to rock, Cleveland? We are ... the Dominators!"

Note well that the Dominators have no noses or lips or regular eyeballs. This'll come up later.

The Legionnaires do what any sensible person called upon to escort endangered ambassadors would do: take a short-cut through the Tenth Dimension. You know, the Tenth Dimension, which has never been mentioned before and will never be mentioned again. Try to keep up, will you?

So, naturally, along the way, there are lots of narrow escapes from death traps and attacks by the Unkillables, but Colossal Boy still finds time to do what he does best: fall on his hands and knees.

That rock in the background? Never heard from again.

When the Legion finally defeats the Unkillables, the Master is unmasked as the former political leader of the Dominators, thrown out of office by the Dominators' Peace Faction. The Dominator, who has no nose or lips or visible eyeballs, was the Master, who clearly had a nose and lips and visible eyeballs underneath his mask.

This is how you can tell the Silver Age is nearing its end; in the High Silver Age, whoever removed his mask would have said, "His mask was doctored to give the appearance of human features, so that no one would suspect he was a Dominator!" But that kind of loving attention to Literary Craft faded toward the end of the Silver Age. That's how the world ends, folks: not with a bang but a whimper.

When the Unkillables are unmasked, they are, of course, exactly who you would expect them to be:

The brainwashed superpowered 30th Century lookalike descendants of a few famous human assassins like Lee Harvey Oswald, Brutus & Cassius, and John Wilkes Booth (none of whom, if I recall correctly, had any children).

Well, of course. I mean, who else would you use to assassinate political figures?

So that's the story of the introduction of the Dominators into the DCU. But isn't something missing? How can it be a real Legion story without some sort of cruel trick played on well-meaning friends and companions?

Phew! I was worried for a second! Fortunately it turned out than the "ambassadors" were just high-tech phantasms used as decoy, a cruel trick played on the duped Legionnaries; now it's a real Legion story.

P.S. One last note: although I usually am pretty hard on those who look for what they call "racism" in every balloon and panel. But the Dominators received a rather severe makeover from their original blue appearance...

I must confess I'm certain that the visual revamp of the Dominators is brilliant resonant (consciously or unconsciously) of the vilification of the "Japanazis" in WWII.

Gee, wizened yellow-skinned big-toothed long-nailed be-robed aliens who've supressed their individuality as part of their severely hierarchical imperialism as symbolized by a big red sphere ... maybe it's just a coincidence?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From Thee to Shining Thee

I'm off on a vacation! The dog and I are headed to the land of my upbringing. I'll be happy if I get access to electricity, let alone the internet, so there'll be no posting.

My evenings will be filled with hymn-singing rather than him-searching. Instead of barking at the mailman, the dog will be chasing chickens, and instead of Muttlicks for dessert he'll probably be scarfing cowpies. "Thee" will replace "whee!" and "thou" will replace "wow!" (and, yes, we really do talk that way).

Yep; it's back to Plainfolk Country to visit the relatives, 23% of whom are named "Jakob".
The dog and I always travel "God's Business Class".

Take advantage of my absence to:

  1. Review my archives. A lot of my most interesting stuff is from when no one (you included) was reading my blog and before I ran out of intelligent commentary and humorous observations.
  2. Make comments on old posts. I get e-mailed copies of all your comments, so it's never too late to comment on any of my posts; there are plenty of them.
  3. Try to remember the last time you were totally out of touch with the electric world and in touch with nature. Has it been too long?
  4. Make sure you know how to use what you would call Archaic Grammar (and what I call proper English). There is nothing more annoying to those of us needing to speak traditional English than those of you who butcher it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Fifdeetu

In reading the responses to my "52 Questions", I realize that not everyone knows why I'm asking about the Dominators (because not everyone reads Legion). Here's why (this scene is in LSH17):The Dominators still remember the "fifdeetu" 1000 years from now.

The Dominators were an alien race originally introduced in a Legion of Super-Heroes story in 1967 (more on that in another post). But our immediate interest in them is as the central figures in the fabulous 1988 company-wide crossover, "Invasion!"

Invasion, in my opinion was as good as most other company-wide crossover have usually been bad. There are several reasons for this:
1. The threat (alien invasion of earth) flowed logically from other stuff already happening in comics and didn't feel like an arbitrary plot device (q.v. "Millenium")
2. The aliens had a comprehensible motive, plan, and defeat.
3. "Invasion" the miniseries that tied everything together, was only three issues long.
4. "Invasion" explained important things in the DCU and how everything fits together.
5. "Invasion", despite having more lasting impact than most other crossovers combined, didn't take itself overly seriously, and had a fun "Mars Attacks!" feel to it.

Why on (or off) earth Invasion hasn't been collected in trade I cannot imagine. I'd buy it for myself and all my friends and relatives.

The essence of the story is that the Dominators consider Earth a threat, because it seems to spit out new superbeings on a weekly basis, so they form an alliance of aliens to attack and subjugate Earth. They do a pretty good job of it, too, all things considered.

Invasion did at least several important things:

  • Introduced the concept of the "metagene" as an explanation for superbeings.
  • Explained the relationship of Earth to all the United Planets in the 30th Century and why people from different planets all have wacky powers but look just like humans.
  • Created a basis for Earth's interaction (or lack thereof) with other planets here in the 20th Century.
  • Kick-started Max Lord's mindcontrol powers, leading in (eventually) to his role in Countdown to Infinite Crisis.
  • Introduced Mon-El and the Daxamites in a Post-Crisis world.
  • Started L.E.G.I.O.N.

As a result of Invasion, an appearance by the Dominators is literary shorthand for "alien concern over Earthers developing superpowers". And given that Mark Waid is writing Legion at the same time as participating in 52, I'm sure it's not a throwaway but a real connection...

but exactly what I can't yet imagine.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Let's Play 52 Questions

  1. Do you like Steel's new look and powers?
  2. Is Supernova the real Booster Gold?
  3. Will Isis survive 52?
  4. What exactly IS Egg Fu?
  5. Are they going to kill the Question?
  6. Are you as tired of Montoya's Sam Spade act as I am?
  7. Now that Luthor's uncorked the metagene bottle, how will DC ever get the metagenie back in?
  8. What is Egg Fu hoping to do with the kidnapped mad scientists?
  9. Will we see Bruce and Diana at all in 52, as we have Clark?
  10. Will Ralph stay bonkers?
  11. Do you love the idea of a permanently bonkers Ralph as much as I do?
  12. Who is the trenchcoated man in the background behind Ralph?
  13. What is the Dominators connection to the 52?
  14. So does Adam Strange have one eye or two, and will be getting any of them back?
  15. When will Rex the Wonder Dog meet Krypto?
  16. Hey -- where is Krypto while Clark is powerless?
  17. Am I the only person who wants to see them bring back Destructo?
  18. What relationship -- if any -- is there between John Henry Irons and the new Commander Steel in the Justice Society?
  19. Will Lois become pregnant?
  20. When is Rip Hunter and how soon before we see him in person?
  21. Will Lex be one of the kidnapped mad scientists?
  22. Having been fused into one body, do Firestorm and Cyborg keep in touch?
  23. Will Haven (the "Eureka" for bad people) become a fixture in the DCU?
  24. So, did the Batfamily just take a cruise while the Red Hood is running around killing people or what?
  25. Will we see Harvey Dent at all in 52, given how active he is supposed to be in Gotham?
  26. Will we get to see Bullock expose the corruption in Commissioner Akins' department?
  27. Will Bullock and Film Freak get a New Earth rematch?
  28. Will the feminist bloggers stop cataloging every rape and attempted rape if I start cataloging every time a female character kicks a male one in the nuts?
  29. Will we ever find out what the heck is happening in Sub Diego?
  30. Will we ever find out why somebody sunk Sub Diego to begin with?
  31. Shouldn't Black Manta be one of the missing mad scientists?
  32. Any guess about the status of Lorena, Mera, Tempest, Dolphin, et al.?
  33. Does anyone care about the status of Lorena, Mera, Tempest, Dolphin, et al.?
  34. Is Wonder Girl brainwashed or just tragically stupid?
  35. What is Devem's connection to Krypton?
  36. Am I the only person who'd really prefer that Starfire never return to Earth?
  37. Is the character of Natasha Irons now irredeemable?
  38. Will there be a Batwoman costume available this Halloween and, if so, who (other than me) will wear it?
  39. What will Skeets do with his spare time now that Booster's dead?
  40. Does anyone know or care what Holly's last name is in Catwoman?
  41. What does the return of the Metal Men portend?
  42. Is Captain Marvel really going to stay stuck in the Rock of Eternity?
  43. Given that Todd & Damon were dating before 52 and still are after it, doesn't that make them comics' longest standing gay couple (aside from Apollo & Midnighter)?
  44. Will we ever get to see Damon meet Alan Scott?
  45. Is anyone still reading Outsiders and, if so, why?
  46. Will Batwoman come into conflict with Harvey Dent?
  47. Am I the only person brushing up his Chinese for the first meeting of Egg Fu and the all-new Atom?
  48. Speaking of the Atom, is that Luthor who's handing out "shrinking belts"?
  49. With Whisper Adaire and the Monster Society running around and mad scientists being kidnapped, why doesn't anybody remember Professor Milo?
  50. Am I the only person really excited about the idea of the evil Titans East, including the return of the Joker's Daughter?
  51. Will we meet Miss Martian in the J'onn J'onnz miniseries?
  52. Who do you want to see turn up in 52 who hasn't yet?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Heroclix Pal

There are only two kinds of people in the world of DC comics fans:

  1. Those who hate Jimmy Olsen.
  2. Those who hate Jimmy Olsen less.

Therefore this is the perfect Heroclix custom, desirable to all:

Jimmy Olsen was the winner of our most recent poll on which Custom Heroclix I should have made by Totaltoyz. Heroclix made a Jimmy Olsen pog (spelled wrong!) but that's hardly the same as the figure he deserves.

You, too, can have your own Jimmy Olsen Custom Clix, with "Daily Planet" Team Ability (equivalent to the valuable Police Team Ability).

And what good is he, other than his incomparable aesthetic value? Jimmy has the dial of a Rookie Undercover Gotham Cop, which makes him a perfect complement to Superman. Why...?

Well, Superman's a powerful attack piece but in that circus outfit he's not exactly 'stealthy'. Plus he's always "the Gorilla on the Board"; that is, the powerful threatening piece that immediately becomes the primary target of your opponents sniping and dogpiling. If only we had a way to hide him without feeling cowardly...

Ah! Jimmy Olsen! Jimmy starts with two clicks of Stealth, from all that sneaking around taking pics surreptitiously in his green suit and red bow tie. So Superman can carry Jimmy Olsen up to some hindering terrain -- a tree or phone booth -- to get a better vantage point for his photography. And if Superman just happens to be behind him, where enemies can't target him, well, so much the better. Then Superman can make a heroic high-speed charge out from behind Jimmy to clobber any one who threatens his "boy pal".

Gets better. Thanks to the, ahem, "Daily Planet" Team Ability, Jimmy increases the Attack Value of any adjacent friendly piece against any opponent piece they both can see. You know how alert Jimmy is: "Superman, look out! It's a giant superpowered Nazi gorilla! And it's carrying a kryptonite machine gun!" Gee, thanks, Jimmy; without you, my super-vision would have missed that completely.

If Jimmy takes a little damage -- like, from a falliing brick -- his last click still holds a suprise: Shape Change, giving Jimmy a one-in-three chance of avoiding being a target of any attack. Who says a Disguise Kit doesn't come in handy?

At only 14 points, Jimmy Olsen is an indispensible part of any Superman team.

Or extremely dispensible. Either way works.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Cats Are Evil Week 5

One way to counter my charge -- pfft, I mean "statement of the obvious" -- that cats are evil would be list the superheroic cats of the DCU.



Oh, yeah!

Before you ask, no, Streaky couldn't talk. As a Literary Necessity, Saturn Girl used to loan the Super-Pets the power of telepathic speech so they wouldn't just stare at one other, occasionally snorting, which makes for a boring story (but a pretty hot date).

Streaky seemed to spend most of his time in the 30th century, I guess because having an easily identifiable birthmark would make him a threat to Supergirl's secret identity. You can't see it hear, but when Streaky supered up ihe would wear a cape, which he put on by ... hey, how does a cat put on cape?

Anyway, Streaky did many wonderful things with his powers. Like...



Oh, yeah!

Beat the snot out of the Legion!

Yeah, Supergirl; "command" your cat. That'll help.

Remember, folks: cats are evil.

The Major Victory Shrine Post

Well, slap my face and call me "Lois Lane"!

My new life goal is to go dancing with Major Victory:

You could slice cheese with those jawbones ... and he does!

In a comedy skit, Chris "Major Victory" Watters get naughty.

Major Victory gets rough; is chained to a wall; strips for bed.

Zowie! I'll be taking the next week off to write Major Victory/Josh Bernstein slash-fic.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Who Wants to Be a Superhero?"

Tonight, I going to use the magic of the Tivo to compose my reactions to "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" as I watch it in all its couch-arm-gripping glory!

Ah, Major Victory is explaining that they're starting their day as superheroes should: patrolling the city for citizens to be protected and righting wrongs. Wrongs like...

"Sir! That bag does not go with that outfit!"

He further encourages the nonplussed man to consider a more masculine and flattering outfit composed entirely of spandex. I love you, Major Victory.

Creature seems to be continuing her redemption by charming litterbugs into picking up not only their own trash, but others as well. Good for her; all superheroes should have camera crews. Then she bought some clothes and handled them out to the homeless (among whom she can easily pass undetected, I suppose). OOhh! She crossed against a red light! That's a bad example for others, Creature! She's probably just confused and thinks the red light means "time to go to work"...

Feedback nearly fried two women to a crisp with his earnestovision when they tried to *shudder* jaywalk! But he made it okay immediately by offering to escort them to the crosswalk. Good form, FB. And blocking the little children from the display at the Lingerie window? Priceless.

Fat Momma; oh, once you were a Sweet Chocolate Donut of Pure Delight. But now in your every utterance you cover your goodness more and more with the Bitter Sprinkles of Invidiousness that hurt my teeth so. I wonder how your chastising the Parking Enforcement Officer for occupying a loading zone is going to go over with Stan Lee? "Fat Momma, zoopuhheerowz are supposed ta support lawr enforcement officuhs, not hinder them!"

Oh good lord, moonwalking Major Victory just used his cape to help a (no doubt terrified) old lady cross a puddle... The Baby Adam West weeps for joy.

Great Scott! The Dark Enforcer has teleprompted in, and his speech seems to be growing even more incomprehensible as with each appearance he evolves further toward Eric Von Zipperhood. I theorize that his skullbinding snood of sneeriness is hampering his jaw muscles somehow. Either that or the steroids have begun to petrify his maxillofacial hypermusculature.

I just noticed that Stan Lee has a little bust on his desk of ...



Uh-oh. Dark Enforcer says he's been secretly interviewing the superheroes' friends and families looking for dirty secrets, and now he's saying to Stan, "I come here to tell you these beach bums is bums." All I want to know is, how long did it take the families to figure what the heck the Enforcer was gurbling about...?

So what happens what Dark Enforcer "gives dem 'Da Finguh' "...?

  • Ouch! Creature caught in environmental hypocrisy!
  • Feedback's wife reveals her dark roots, er-yah, I mean, his dark secret! Look for him next on "Clean House"!
  • Fat Momma pulled her fat out of the fire in her battle against Fat Grandmomma. 'Nuff said.
  • Yowzers, Major Victory's ex-co-worker from the stripping business is a hottie!

So distracting a hottie, in fact, that I had to rewind 4 times and close my eyes before I could actually listen to what he was saying. Major Victory, having repeatedly referred to his stripper past as his motivation, was untouched by Hottie McShoulder's thong-throwing accusations. Oh, and a word to the producers: having Dark "Tom of Finland" Enforcer wave a dollar bill leeringly right after MV says, "Dark Enforcer, you're going down!" was either really really stupid of you or really really brilliant.

Lemuria/Lumeria -- what could be worse in her past than in her present? Ouch; her boozy friend called her trampy bartrash. Well, there's a shock. Thank goodness I was sitting down.

Yuh-oh. MV, FM, and Creature have been called on the carpet...

"Fruit is generally raw." Wow. That's a sentiment I'm going to carry with me. My first thought was, "I can put that on a t-shirt!", but that's really not something you want to wear out to the bars, now, is it?

Time for the next challenge! What's that, Stan? You want them to sit on an inmate's lap, rub their shoulders, stroke their hair, and hug them repeatedly? Jeez, now I want to be a superhero! Come to think of it, I think I rented this movie before... The only thing missing from this little scenario is Hottie McShoulder. Is the part where Dark Enforcer's going to "go down"?

Oh. Oh. They gave Lemuria/Lumeria a female inmate. A huge female inmate. Like, she's not a prisoner of Cell Block H, she is Cell Block H. Like, instead of having an inmate number, they gave her her own zip code.

Ohmigod. I predict whatever's about to happen between Major Victory and Man Mountain Dean is going to be on tomorrow. DANG! Major Victory pulled it off ... AND he thanked the guy for it.

Wow. Feedback's clever. Cleverer than I thought. Cleverer than his wife's hairdresser, certainly. His stock just rose substantially in my eyes. And now that I know his backstory, I sympathize with him more. I would happily contribute to help pay the bills for his desperately needed twice-a-week psychotherapy.

As for the other person; well. Bye bye.

Oh, and for the record, I do NOT agree with Stan. I'm perfectly fine with Major Victory's inability to keep his clothes on...

To the Cat Cycle!

Cats Are Evil Week, #4

Let's talk about Catwoman.

One of the essential difficulties in writing comics is the conflict between static characters and the need for a sense of ongoing dynamic development. Or, as a normal person might say, you have to have the feeling that the character and plot are advancing without the characters or the circumstance changing much.

This "static/dynamic" conflict is, in my opinion, the essential quality of American superhero comic books. Not the combination of the verbal and visual (something comic books share with movies and television); not the inability to control the rate at which the reader perceives the action in the story (something comic books share with pictureless fiction); not the stylization and use of literacy convention (something comic books share with other niche genres, such as sci-fi, mystery, and opera); not the fact that the storyline is an ongoing, unfolding series of events rather than a single tale with beginning, middle, and end (something comic books share with soap opera and other running dramas).

Comic books (like their "cousin", the comic strip) have the unique challenge of multidecade storytelling with characters that don't have to change with time and whose iconic consistency is part of their appeal. Comic strips have found their own solutions: multigenerational evolution (e.g., Gasoline Alley and For Better or For Worse) or otherversal timelessness (e.g. Peanuts and Beetle Bailey).

Comic books have develop two unique techinques of their own:

  • Epochal Reboot, and
  • Persona Cycles

Epochal Reboot? Well, if you've been reading DC for longer than, oh, 6 weeks, then you probably get that one already.

Persona Cycles? Also pretty easy if you think about it a little. Characters that have been around a long time get intepreted in different ways over time, slowly evolving the acceptable parameters of the character. Then the character develops a sort rhythm, a kind of cycling through the various edgepoints of his safe zone.

That's a little abstract, so here's a small example. Batman cycles between a loner vigilante and being the paterfamilias of a tight band of colorful crimefighters. At any point in his career, you can "develop" his character going from one of these extreme toward the other. In fact, if you've been following Batman for the last 10 years or so, you can see that's exactly what has been happening. Yet, Batman still always remains recognizably ... Batman.

A lot of fans get hung up on this phenomenon. "No! Batman is only the version of Batman I first became a fan of!" To which Doctor Scipio says, "take a pill, step back, and grow up."

Hey, I'm a fanboy; I don't like it any more than you do when a character I like cycles into a version of himself/herself I don't care for. But I understand why, and remind myself that the character's ability to do that is what allows it to survive, what keeps it vital for on-going generations. That's a better fate than the obscurity to which one-note characters are doomed because they lack mechanisms for adapting through the years, attracting new adherents, and cementing the loyality of old ones.

Many veteran comic book characters have such Persona Cycles. Robin cycles between "Laughing Young Daredevil" and "Brooding Batman Jr.". The Joker cycles between "deformed killer/mastermind" and "demented crime-clown". I'm sure you can think of many more examples; feel free.

But what was the real subject of this post? Oh, yeah ...


Catwoman's persona cycle wheels from "amoral and independent criminal mastermind" through "Batman's alluring but unavailably criminal love interest" to "female Batman with sass" and on back.

If you've been reading her title, you know that she's been in "female Batman with sass" mode for quite some time, recently adding motherhood to the softening of her image. It's time for her to come back: what I would call "the real Catwoman" (or, at least, the "original Catwoman").

You may think that's impossible, given that she's now got an infant. I don't.

We know that Catwoman is going to pressure Zatanna into mindwiping Film Freak and Angle Man so they no longer know her identity.

But I expect her to ask Zatanna to mindwipe HER as well. To protect her baby. As long as the baby is with her, it is in danger. I believe that Catwoman will give up her baby to protect it and have her own mind wiped so that no one -- not even she -- can connect the two.

And Catwoman will have gone full "persona cycle" once again.