Saturday, March 11, 2006

Eyes Open

Before Clockwork Orange, there was Wonder Woman, in which William Moulton Marston played out all his pet theories and fantasies about mind-control and personal domination through bondage. Dude -- a mind-controlling lasso? Twisted.

I have trouble deciding which is the better quote:

1. "Are your bonds comfortable?"
2. "This adhesive tape will not hurt you."

Number 2 is much funnier than Number 1, but Number 1 is so much easier to use in daily life...

"Pretty Enough to be a Gorilla"

If I had the choice between achieving lasting world peace and getting to read this comic ...

well, c'mon.
How funny could world peace be?
The choice is obvious.

DC -- you want to make some big bucks?
Forget about "The Haunted Tank";
give us the "All-Gorilla Showcase Edition", volumes 1 -7,
and we'll simply mail you our wallets...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Scip reads Firestorm; Snow Falls in Hell

I just got a subscription at my local comic book store to ...

The Fury of Firestorm.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal to you, but at my house it's the equivalent of Nixon going to China. Firestorm, to me, has always represented "where things went wrong" at DC, when DC started using former Marvel writers to create Marvelesque character and ape Marvel style so as to replicate Marvel's success.

Firestorm was created by Gerry Conway, the former Spiderman scribe whose other big accomplishment at DC was creating the Justice League Detroit, an "Avengerized" version of the League. [By the way, I don't really credit Conway with creating the sainted and incomparable Vibe; Vibe is a platonic idea that the gods chose to instantiate on earth for us by divinely inspiring the only writer whose mind was blank enough to receive their rarefied signals. I mean, that almost goes without saying.]

In fact, so patent was it that the DC universe need to reject the foreign infection that is Firestorm that he was the second Character Donation that Devon and I made (and Devon likes him a lot more than I do). So when I bought issue #22 (the one with the groovy cover), it raised some eyebrows at the store. When I called later, having read the issue, and asked to Devon to add it to my subscription, he made me repeat the request on speakerphone, and then he had to be assisted to the couch by two of los Monitos.

Why am I reading Firestorm?

1. I like Jason Rusch, the new Firestom. I never liked Ronnie Raymond. Any story with RR in it was like reading a "What If... Flash Thompson Had Been Bitten By the Radioactive Spider?" story. It's not enough to say that Ronnie was as dumb as a rock. If you taped a rock to stick, it would still be able to be Ronnie Raymond at Jeopardy. Or Tic Tac Toe.

2. Martin Stein is back. Well, he comes back in #22, but in #23 which is One Year Later, he's missing. But he'll be back. Martin Stein deserves a comic book, just for putting up with Ronnie all those years. Meanwhile, Jason is stuck (and I do mean stuck) with Lorraine "Firehawk" Reilly--oh, excuse me, I mean *snort* *chortle* SENATOR Lorraine Reilly. Braindead clothes horse Lorraine Reilly, 20 year reigning champ of the Most Ill-Timed, Selfish Makeover in the DCU title. Lorraine Reilly, who was just presented as a "naive pup" in Identity Crisis, and is now in the U.S. Senate. It's so stupid, it's hilarious.

3. Some sensible limitations have been placed on Firestorm's abilities, ones that have helped make him interesting again (particularly now that Stein is missing). I'm getting a bang out of his little problem with Lorraine, and apparently I'm not the only one.

4. According to Jason, Mr. Terrific "sponsored" him and he has something to prove to him. Sponsored him in what? The JLA? Are Firestorm and Mr. Terrific going to be in the new Justice League? Intriguing! Anyway, any friend of Mr. Terrific is a friend of mine.

[One thing, though; the writers clearly need to do a little more research on atomic bombs. A lot actually. Is there a nuclear physicist in the house?]

OYL is a new beginning, and I'm going to take advantage to follow characters I never have before, like Green Lantern and Firestorm. I hope you do the same.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another Silver Justice Clue

We've already seen many of the Top Clues You're in a Silver Age Justice League story: Notsoinanimation, Marshalation, Super-Spinning, Serialocution, & Strange-Compellification.

But those lofty and rarefied concepts are now joined by a clue so raw and visceral that it slaps you in the face like a steaming kielbasa. Ironically, it has nothing to do with the JLAers themselves....

It's their foes. They're butt ugly.

Now, I'm not talking about Drama Scarring, the external facial damage that mars otherwise normal or handsome features, serving as a metaphor for toll life can take on the soul. Two-Face, Dr. Doom, the Joker, the Phantom of the Opera -- their horrific appearances are the scars of tragedy, anti-merit badges that make their bearers larger than life.

No, I'm talking about the mundane, soul-sucking ugliness of the waders in the gene pool's shallow end, the losers in the DNA lottery. The foes of the Silver Age Justice League are knob-kneed, weak-chinned, bug-eyed, spindly-armed, melon-headed, pencil-necked freaks of nature. Whether ranine, vulpine, murine, meleagrine, or serpentine, their distressingly repulsive features sicken you as much as their vile deeds; ellos son los feos en el amo. They are the personifications of


Theirs are not the faces of supervillains; they are the faces of the pedestrian banes of our daily lives: The Trigonometry Teacher, the DMV Supervisor, the Plumbing Contractor, the Biochem TA, the Deli Butcher, the French waiter. They wear, not colorful costumes, but business suits, labcoats, drab overalls, and monochromatic unitards. They seldom have any instrinsic powers, relying on alien gadgets, "strange forces", and elaborate schemes.

The Silver Age foes of the Justice League, with their enlarged nostrils, cheesy moustaches, blackened eyebags, and bushy eyebrows represent our true fears. In real life, seldom do we lie awake, worried that "evil" will overwhelm "good"; we know that most people will usually behave "good" because they know that the preservation of a well-ordered, safe society is in their own best interests.

Our real fears are that our lives will be tedious, not fabulous. That the colorful, splendid, and optimistic will be overcome by the petty, the tedious, and the embittered. That those without our gifts or talents will squelch us, control us, neuter us with their social gadgetry, strange political forces, and elaborate bureacracies. Our real fear is that the very "well-ordered safe society" that makes people be good will be taken over by the hidebound and narrowminded, who will stamp out the outstanding, no matter how selfless or virtuous they may be.

Or maybe Sekowski could only draw ugly people; who can say?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hexmas Season

Here's Jonah Hex reassuring Wonder Woman about the confusing complexities of time travel.

Here's Jonah Hex mowing down some trainrobbers with a Gatling gun on Christmas day, ten years after they first escaped him.

The comics that contain these scenes came out on the same day. I was going to bloviate about how fabulous that makes DC. Then I realized that if you don't immediately understand that on your own, no amount of lecturing on my part will enlighten you.

Note that, as usual, there's a "Hexism" in this week's "Favorite Quote" poll (in fact, it's what Jonah says right before the gatling starts.) But as much as I love Jonah, and usually vote the Hexism, this week my own vote has to go to the Red Tornado.

I mean, really ... "Kyle has an idea." I haven't laughed so hard since the last time Hal hit his head!

The Winner of the Custom Heroclix Poll

And, now, the moment we all (or at least I) have been waiting for....

Breakdance-fighting Vibe!
It's the soul-patch that made me weep.

For those who're wondering, he's on a Veteran Arclight dial: lots of Quake, lots of Toughness, three clicks of Close Combat, 57 points.

The New Atom?

I believe that we've seen the new Atom.

Do you?


Do you remember that in JSA, the Gray Man awakened Sand Hawkins to his prophetic dream power, a gift from Wesley Dodds (the Golden Age Sandman) ?

In his initial prophetic dream, departed JSAers gave him various warnings.

Hourman's (not pictured here) clearly predicts Sand's challenge at Roulette's House. And Dr. Mid-Nite's prophecy (also not pictured) concerns the battle against the Dark Trinity of Obsidian, Mordru, and Eclipso.

Star Spangled Kid's prophecy is about the confrontation with the Jokerfied Solomon Grundy of "Last Laugh". The Atom (of all people) is predicting Infinite Crisis; interesting.

But Mr. Terrific and the Spectre? I'm not sure what they're predicting... .

I have a feeling if I read all of DC's comics over the last few years, I'd find quite a lot of hints and foreshadowings, since they've been planning this whole IC thing for a while.

Anyone else remember other hints?



Am I the only person who thinks the sound effect they use for the Thunderbolt genie...

is a little in-joke?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Xion Maps

If you play Heroclix and haven't bought at least one of the new maps from Xion, then you are a fool, I say. Fools! Utter fools!

Now, Xion's had their stumbles in the past, but they've made up for it with this latest endeavor, which includes six glorious maps, with the new standardized "visual coding" so players know what's hindering terrain and such.

Here, for example, in extreme miniature, is "the Cave":You know, "the Cave" seems familiar somehow (particularly the cars and the dinosaur), but I can't quite place it; I'm sure it'll come to me eventually... . Oh, and those gaps in the map are bottomless pits where random thugs and disposable one-time criminal masterminds who've stumbled onto "the Cave" and learned your secret identity can conveniently, um, "slip" and fall to their dooms. I hate it when that happens.

They also offer The Bank (which cries out for Bat-villains and Flash Rogues), The Press Room of some great metropolitan newspaper, The Neighborhood, The Park (which is very groovy for aquatic characters because a river runs through it), The Prison (which might double as, say, an asylum), and Rooftop Mayhem (my favorite).

You will positively weep at their beauty; thank the gods I had the presence of mind to view mine only under protective plexiglass lest they be tear-stained. They also provide interesting gameplay opportunities, with lots of places for leapy -climby- stealthy- parry- dodge- thrust- hah-! action.

Yes, they cost 20 bucks a pop, but if you're tired of playing with fabulous looking and interesting Heroclix figures on crappy boring maps, it's worth it. I looking forward to defeating Devon on these maps tonight!

Mr. Porter's Haiku

If you were a black character in comics in the 1940s, there wasn't much you could do to distinguish yourself. You were lucky if you got some dialogue, and if you did it was probably dialect. Ick.

But clever black characters could not be fully contained by predjudice. Often they took the opportunity to subversively demonstrate, right under the editors' notes, just how much more they were capable of, if treated with respect.

Clever guys like the railroad porter from the Wonder Woman comic book we met during our Black History Month profiles:Suitcase, comin' up!
Dis suitcase show am heaby!
Must be fulla books!

"Oh, yes; you can force me to speak in minstrel dialect, but if you do, I'll be waiving my big black dialect haiku if your face, thank you very much."

Can you compose a haiku of admiration for this clever pioneer or one that appreciates how far we've come in the portrayal of black characters since his day?

Monday, March 06, 2006

I need Crisis Counseling!

Okay, gang; I need some help with the most recent (#5) issue of Infinite Crisis. I've loved the series, on the whole, but 5 left me saying "what the fo?" far too many times not to seek some "crisis counseling"... .

1. "They want to hold a Mass for everyone with a cape." Wait, so the world is falling apart, heroes are needed everywhere, and they all stop for a wafer break? What the fo? Also, I assume DC editorial is sufficiently godless not to understand that a Mass is a specific Catholic ritual with mystic transubstantiation and deophagy and not just "a hand-holding session in a cathedral". I'll just pretend "mass" is a typo for "service", and leave it at that; or maybe Mister Terrific was just being snide.

Oh, and DC? Showing us that there are people painfully excluded doesn't make their exclusion any less tacky. Still... it was nice to see somebody use the Gotham Cathedral for a change.

2. So, Hal ... when did flying inside the cathedral seem like a good idea to you? Is your leg broken that you couldn't walk the 30 feet to the door? Afraid of tripping?

3. Stripe -- you need a Ricki Lake makeover. You look like Frankenstein Junior.

4. "Why do I get the funny feelin' in my gut that we ain't the only ones here?" Gee, Ted, no reason, except because that's the kind of awkward transition phrase someone thought was needed to get us to the next sequence with Lois and Clark at the Daily Star. Note to writers on Wildcat's dialog: Ted Grant was almost a licensed physician; he's not Ben Grimm. I'll just pretend Johns let Wolfman write that panel.

5. So, Booster ... do you not have Bruce's phone number? Or was it more fun to go creeping around the Batcave, knowing your butt will get caught in some byzantine bat-trap? Or did someone just think that would be cool to draw?

6. Okay, Biker-shorts Superboy floating unconscious in a giant test tube is very hot. But, even though I read the Titan issue where they taking him to Luthor's Lair to get fixed, I have next to no idea when Luthor showed up, where the Titans are, or, for that matter, what the fo. At least I finally figured out why Lex was fondling Connor's jeans... .

7. Golden Age Superman is a total moron. Well, at least it makes our Superman look good.

8. Enough with the veneration of Golden Age Lois. Some of us, you know, have actually read the stories she appears and know full well that she was a vicious emasculating witch. I will believe a man can fly; I will not believe that Lois's poop don't stink.

9. Hi, Golden Age Wonder Woman (a.k.a. old lady in an age-inappropriate bathing costume)! Nice of you to sacrifice your eternal existence (and your husband's life) for a pointless guess spot playing Dr. Phil/Space Cabbie for Diana. Oh, by the way, your name isn't Diana Prince; that was someone else, whose identity you stole (or, rather, bought).

10. Earth Eight. Heh. I like that; I want to know who else really belongs on Earth-8. Is Earth-S Earth-5 or Earth-7? I guess the S (Shazam!) stands for 7.

11. Batman's Anti-Eye Team. Nice. Good group. I noticed Batman picked a crew of people who understand what it's like not to have superpowers. Smart, both emotionally and strategically, given the opponent.

12. Okay, I can accept that we needed the two-page spread of the alter-earths floating in the sky. But did we need to precede it with a two-page spread of Nightwing standing in an empty room? Who came up with that ... Devin Greyson?

13. Oh, hey, there's Superboy. At Titans Tower. Um, I guess he got out of the tube, changed out of the biker shorts, and flew over. I guess. Maybe he's still wearing the biker shorts, under the jeans? That's hot.

14. Dr. Light the hero? Didn't you just have all the power sucked out of her by Dr. Light the villain? Is there explanation of this, or did someone not know, or did someone say, "It's Crisis, we have to have her in it somewhere?" It's really not a good idea to have a hero and villain with the same name; kill her off or depower her, which would be a nice bookend to her creation in the first Crisis.

15. Barry's back. Good. Let's just leave it that way.

16. Oh, Superboy Prime -- dear. Shoulder pads?!? You are such an '80s character; go see Blockade Boy right away.

P.S. I don't care how super your hearing is, Clark; sound doesn't travel across the void of space between Earths 1 and 2. In space, no one can hear you scream "Lois!"...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Yet Another Reason to Love Dogs

With all due deference to Poison Ivory from whose recent very amusing series of panel analyses I have stolen the panel below...

but, honestly, you can't put up this kind of panel without expecting me to borrow it, can you? I'm -- just not that strong. Please forgive me, Ivory!!!

Yes, folks, that is indeed Hal Jordan getting his ass kicked by a dog, managing to land on his head, and then noting that the reason he gets hit on the head so often is to knock sense INTO in his head rather than being knocked senseless.

Well ... once you explain it that way, Hal, it makes perfect sense. To you, at least...