Friday, June 30, 2006

JLDetroit: A Sure Bet for Entertainment!

It's been like Old Home Week here at the Absorbascon thanks to the "A Game of Chance" storyline running in JLA Classified, starring the remarkable...

Justice League of Detroit!

Despite repeated photo sessions, this is the best their PR guy could come up. Nice pillow, J'onn.


With...

Aquaman, doing what he does best.

Perpetual piscatorial understudy Walter the Walleye finally got his big break in show biz...when Peter the Pufferfish was unavailable for this story.

Sue Dibny, doing what she does best.

Specifically, flirting with superheroes while her husband's not around.Don't lie to yourself; you don't really miss her either.

Vixen, doing what she does best.

"I feel ... the animal urges... building inside me!"
"No ... dance poles ... in woods! Must-- use tree!"


Gypsy and Steel, doing what they do best.

You say you're sorry? I guess that's as good a way of putting it as any.

Vibe, whom I can't show doing what he does best because this is a family blog, so you'll just have to infer it.

Vibe's got a "ten-strike" that can handle any queen or even another "10".
Just thinking about it makes me feel faint.

and featuring...

J'onn "No, we're not ending our camping trip early simply because we were attacked by supervillains and just killed two people; why do you ask?" J'onnz!


Ah, the "Heart of the League" isn't exactly a warm one, is it?
How bad is it when your behavior appalls Vixen and Vibe?


and Dale Gunn, The Irresistible Man!


"If Zatanna and Vixen couldn't resist me, boy...""...what chance do you think you have?"

Reasons to read "Manhunter" #5


Manhunter has Damon.


Damon is Kate Spencer's associate at her real job as a prosecutor. He's handsome and witty. But more importantly, he has stones of steel.

In Issue 5, the JLA drop in for a visit. While Kate (who eats villains for breakfast) is dropping her latte, Damon is already hitting on Hawkman.


Hitting. On. Hawkman. That is enormously impressive.

Buy Manhunter.


P.S. Of course John Stewart knows how much lattes cost.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Reasons to read "Manhunter" #4

As of Issue #4, Manhunter has Dylan Battles.

Dylan is Manhunter's tech-guy. He fixes her weapons and makes her new ones.

Not because he's a selfless supporter of her cause. Rather, it's because she blackmailed him into it. Besides, he misses the excitement of his old job, working with villains. Like Two-Face, Queen Bee, Kobra, Killer Frost, and Black Manta.

Dylan knows what Aquaman does.

Dylan is ... well, an interesting character. I'm not sure I like him, but he always makes me smile. And I like comics with characters that make him smile.

Buy Manhunter.

Things That Made Me Happy...

in this week's comics.
  • Batman & Robin fighting gorillas.
  • Phantom Lady's first name.
  • J'onn's little conversation with ... "himself".
  • Clark's typewriter.
  • The Creeper kicking butt.
  • Dr. Virus and Kryptococcus the Omni-Germ.
  • Luthor's manipulation of underage girls.
  • Tim's hug and the reason for it.
  • My being right about Steel.
  • The New Odd Couple: Crispus Allen and the Spectre.
  • The return of the Great White.
  • Two-Face; back and better than ever.
  • The growing grooviness of Film Freak.
  • The president's dog.
  • The Fortress of Solitude versus a soft pretzel.
  • Vibe, once again glorious in action yet still ineffective.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Monkey Mailing

I noticed yesterday that, while there are over 1400 people who visit this blog daily, there are only 100 people who are signed up for the Big Monkey Comics "What's Shipping" Service.

It's a free, non-invasive service that sends you an e-mail each week of what's shipping from the various companies. Naturally, this info is already available on-line for those who want to look for it.

But judging from the number of calls that comic book stores get asking questions like, "Did Vibe: Sword of Detroit come out this week?", the Big Monkey thought people might appreciate just getting an e-mail that lets them know what's new on the stands. So we made something that does that; that's how much the Monkey loves you.

The e-mail you'll get looks something like this:

Ooo. Pretty.

Anyway, as I said, it's free and we won't sell your e-mail address to the Scientologists or the Viagra Manufacturers Association. To sign up for the service, just go to the Big Monkey website and put your e-mail address in this box:


Then you'll no longer be in the dark at Recess when all the cool kids are talking about what comics are coming out that week.

An Antidote to "Superman Returns" mania

I did see and positively review "Superman Returns", but still I feel the need to list

Ten Reasons Batman has More Fans than Superman


1. Reading Batman doesn't require you to learn a foreign language.

2. Almost anyone can look okay in Batman suit; almost no one looks good in a Superman suit.


3. Batman is not to blame for the Composite Superman; Superman is.

4. Batman doesn't get kinky with his villains (that's what youthful wards are for).


5. Batman has a different woman every issue, or at least, every writer. Superman has Lois, who likes to dress up like Batwoman, and we all know what that means.


6. You can convince regular people that Batman is realistic.


7. People actually like Batman's sidekick.


8. Batman has enough eye-popping villains to populate a small town; Superman's only real villain is a generic bald smart guy.


9. Mild-mannered schlub, who gets pushed around by his boss at a newspaper, and spends more time fussing over personal situations with his friends and colleagues than actually fighting the fourth-rate villains who come to town; yeah, Superman is way too much like Spider-Man.


10. Alfred is cooler than everyone in Metropolis put together.

Reasons to read "Manhunter" #3

Manhunter addresses the difficulties of balancing personal life with professional life -- and a hobby as a vigilante.

You may have heard through the grapevine the Kate "Manhunter" Spencer isn't a very good mother.

In Manhunter #3, when her son finds one of her tech-weapons and almost kills himself with it, she gives up full custody of him to her ex-husband because it's best for the child.

That's the kind of thing good mothers do.

Buy Manhunter.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Savor the Understatement

Comics are a medium given to bombast and hyperbole. Particularly at certain
companies.

But let us be subtler. Let us revel, not in the gross pleasures of exaggeration, but in the delicate witticism of the Art of Comic Book Understatement, as practiced by DC.

Let others drown their tastes and senses in the cheap beer of overstatement only to collapse groggily in the mung of regurgitated declarations of "awesomeness"; we will look on -- or, indeed, away -- and savor the mellow of our dry literary Chardonnays.

Often such Understatement is most delicious in older vintages; why, here's a Silver Age one I just plucked off the shelf:


Kryptonite meteors often fall from space.


Ah. Now that's a delicious Understatement. Yes, Mr. Mustachio, I think it's definitely fair to say that in the Silver Age Kryptonite meteors fall from space at a rate one could appropriately term "often".

Like, hourly.

Reasons to read "Manhunter" #2

In ways that I have seldom seen in other titles, Manhunter addresses the uncomfortable questions of "super-vigilanteism" versus standard justice.

By day, as a prosecutor she works to deprive criminals of the freedom and possibly their lives.
By night, as a vigilante she works to deprive criminals of their freedom and possibly their lives.

But she knows that there's a difference and it bothers her greatly; good for her. She really needs to meet Two-Face some day.


Buy Manhunter.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sweet Fifteen

Oh, my; Showcase Present: Superman is out, and a denser dose of Silver Age lunacy has never been compiled. Don't read it before going to see Superman Returns, or you'll spend the whole movie distracted by thoughts like, "I bet Lois's child is actually Mxyzptlk in disguise, helping her to make Superman jealous!"

One of my favorite selections so far is the "Mighty Maid" story, in which Lois cries a lot because a superwoman has appeared who's wooing the Man of Steel away from her. Reality check, Lois; has Superman ever done anything to make you think you had a chance with him, superwoman or no?

Here's Superman and Mighty Maid sucking face:

Ah, another couple succumbs the overwhelming romantic allure of Milwaukee.


Oh, here they are later playing tonsil-hockey and planning their honeymoon in front of Gal Reporter Who Cries In Silence:


Naturally, since this is the Silver Age, it's all just an elaborate hoax to fend off an alien invasion; don't ask.

But who is playing the part of Mighty Maid? Is it...

(A) A female Superman robot?
(B) Wonder Woman, doing Supes a favor?
(C) Lana Lang, using her Insect Queen abilities to simulate superpowers?
(D) A Kandorienne, temporarily enlarged to normal size through a rare space element?


Oh, come now. Surely, you've already figured this one out...

It is, of course...

(E) Supergirl, Superman's fifteen year old cousin.

"Fine dramatic ability"... shudder.
Nowadays, people like Superman are required to register their address with local authorities,
so neighborhood parents can be warned.


As I've said before, Superman is creepy with a capital CREE.


Reasons to read "Manhunter" #1

Kate "Manhunter" Spencer is crazy-bold vigilante.

In Issue #1, to stop Copperhead from escaping custody, government prosecutor Kate steals some confiscated tech from the evidence room at her work, tracks him down a sewer, mouths off to him when he threatens to eat her, then blows his head off.

In self-defense, of course.

Now, that's the kind of over-the-top, non-decompressed, "no real person on earth would do that" kind of craziness that's straight out of the Golden Age -- the pulps even. And I like it.


Buy Manhunter.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

As eggspected

Heee-ho!

With special thanks to David Oakes!

Oww!

I just discovered a comparatively new and quite funny blog, Random Happenstance. Anything that makes me laugh out loud (other than speeches by the President) is A-okay in my book.

And thanks to this blog I will never call Shondra Kinsolving anything other than "Dr. Love Interest". In fact, I'm considering changing my name by deed-poll to "Dr. Love Interest". "Yes, I am Dr. Interest; but you may call me... LOVE."

Anyway, in addition to all the intentional laughs the blog provides, I owe it for showing me the following scene, at which I laughed out loud for, oh, 2 minutes....


The only thing that would have made it funnier would have been Dr. Fate saying nothing at all.

Behold!

The promo ad for the new Legion cartoon series:


Love Bouncing Boy, but my horrified gaze is riveted on the desecration of Brainiac 5, who's been reimagined as some sort of ... machine.

To which I can only say:


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Monkey Business

THIS TIME I REALLY MEAN IT!

The Big Monkey website is no longer having the "CGI limits reached" problem it was before. The site has turned out to be more popular than we'd anticipated and the traffic was more than servers/accounts could bear. A high quality problem!

It's now on a dedicated server and cheerily awaiting your visitation....

The Monkey welcomes you to the world of whiny teenagers.

The Monkey kills Spider-Man's wife.

The Monkey interviews wacky Johnny Ryan of Angry Youth Comix.

The Monkey clothes shirtless women.

Oh, and for those of you in the metro-D.C. area, remember the Big Monkey Members Party is one month from now (Thursday July 20, 7PM-9PM) at Busboys & Poets on 14th St. Price of Admission is one (1) Big Monkey shopping bag!

The party will feature:

Free food!
Big Monkey: The Movie!
Cash bar!
Devon singing!
The sounds of Big Monkey Radio!
Scipio laughing at Devon singing!
Door Prizes!
Local dignitaries & press!
A Heroclix surprise announcement!
The Dramatic Reading Competition!


Friday, June 23, 2006

Smithsonian Panel, reviewed

Last night Devon and I attended "Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society", a panel discussion at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History, featuring Danny Fingeroth, Dennis O’Neil, Michael Uslan, Tom De Falco, and moderator Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg.

Fingeroth ran Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man editorial line and is the author of Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society. O’Neil, an expert on comics, pop culture, and folklore/mythology, was the guiding force behind DC Comics’ Bronze Age reinvention of Batman. Uslan, an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer, is executive producer of the Batman films. DeFalco, former Marvel editor-in-chief, is the author of Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide. Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg is Curator of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and has edited, authored or co-authored a number of comic and pop culture guide books. He teaches a course in comic book literature at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

It was a nice event for both the laymen and the comic book fan. Not only did everyone stay till the end of the two-hour program, most people stayed longer, and the Smithsonian staff seemed pleased by the attendance (since tickets were $25 a pop).

Bad news was, during the Q&A portion there were uncomfortable descents into fanboy wrangling between some of the audience and the panelists that left even hardcore comics-type like me squirming. The good news was, it was entirely focused on Spider-Man, which made Marvel fans look geeky and DC fans look adult and sophisticated. Nyah-nan-nah-na-nah, Marvel!

Seriously, panel discussions -- not just about comics but about anything -- should never be opened up to Q&A. I'm there to see the panelists interact, not listen to some mouthbreather charging that Spider-Man working with Iron Man is a violation of his core character while the panelists eye the exits. And that was the moderator.

I didn't learn too much, but these events are more about hearing where particular experts come down on certain issues, not for eye-popping relevations about comics' role in society (particularly for those of us who think, read, and write about such things alot; like, daily).


Best News of The Evening

Michael Uslan was an engaging speaker, with lively anecdotes and that rarest of combinations, a strong love of comics coupled with an understanding of how the real world works. He made three observations I found particularly interesting. First, Hollywood's attitude toward comic book movies has changed because the people now running Hollywood grew up reading comics. Second, Hollywood understands that "comic book movie" is not a genre. Genres wax and wane in popularity, but comics are a medium, which supplies source material in any genre. This means that the comic book movie is not a fad. Third, he predicts that we're on the verge of the next step in transmedia adaptations: quality television miniseries based on graphic novels too difficult to condense into a film.


Pleasant Unfortunate Truth

During the discussion on the portrayal of women heroes in comics, Denny O'Neill talked about his decision to depower Wonder Woman. Denny was (and is) by his own description a "pinko liberal", and affirmed that he thought the change was an advance for women characters. "You have to understand, " he said, "writers like me, we have the best of intentions. We simply don't always know how to do things well. But things are better now that there are more women writers." I've always assumed that was true, but it was nice to hear: writers aren't intentionally sexist, or racist, or out to ruin your favorite character.

[Oh, and I know that's not Denny O'Neill, but I couldn't find any pictures of him, and he looks sort of like Patrick Stewart, except for the nose.]


Unpleasant Unfortunate Truth

Well ... most writers aren't. When asked a question about the social ramifications of editorial decisions, Marvel's Tom DeFalco stated quite baldly: "We don't really think about things that like. We're just trying to sell books." In fact, he said, to some degree, "a writer's job is to piss off the readers," citing several instances where the louder the public condemnation of what he was doing with certain characters, the higher sales went. "


Rape is Real!

Naturally, someone from the audience just had to bring up the whole "Dr. Light/rape" thing.
Marvelites DeFalco and Fingeroth both said they simply wouldn't permit such a thing in a story. Apparently Marvel's vaunted realism includes Life Model Decoys but not a crime that victimizes, oh, around 600,000 women in the U.S. a year. O'Neill, although not exactly gung-ho on the idea, noted that what matters is how the subject is treated and how it serves the storyline; hey, this is the guy who wrote the Question series, remember.

The most interesting thing about the "rape discussion" was that the only person who'd actually read the story at issue was Uslan.


By Far the Best Exchange of the Evening

Denny O'Neill (charmingly self-deprecating): "Back when I was first working in comic books, the public considered us only half a step up from pornographers--"

Tom DeFalco (interrupting so as to steal the limelight with a lame joke, just as I'd expect a Marvel writer to do): "You mean half a step below!"

"Well," Denny immediately replied, casually withering in the superiority of his grise-y eminence: "Maybe at Marvel."


ZING! Denny's a very smart and witty guy, whom the years have sharpened, not dulled. I'd love to have him at one of my parties, but I'd be terrified to be on a Match Game '74 panel with him. Suffice it to say, that between the, ahem, earthiness of DeFalco and the urbanity of O'Neill my company prejudices were not undermined, but strongly reinforced (which actually saddened me, you'll be surprised to hear).


OVERALL

I'm delighted that the Smithsonian sponsored such a panel, and that I got to attend. It's a good sign they've got their finger on the pulse of current culture and know that there's more to U.S. history than Mamie Eisenhower's dress. Lovely though it is.

It was a nice mix of people and perspectives, but Devon had a more interesting idea: a panel "pitting" the Old Comics Guard versus the New Comics Guard (maybe even including some ... some GIRLS!).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Always thinking of others ... eventually.

Ah, the legendary selflessness of Superman...Oh, and, a couple billion people died too, along with all vestiges of their civilization and biome. But what matters is that we're orphans again.

I suppose we'll have to go live on one of the countless other worlds that adore us, most of which have superior technology, more stable societies, and better fashion. *choke*!

Next DC Heroclix?

Wizkids has announced they're discontinuing 16 or 17 of their less popular and ill-conceived tabletop games. Pity about "Celebrity Fitness Instructor Clix"; I'd just gotten on E-Bay the "Frosted Hair" John Basedow Unique and was looking forward to teaming him and Susan Powter against the Golden Age Jack LaLaine and Perry White.

But this will allow them to focus on their core games, including their lead seller, Heroclix; yay! So, in case they need to throw together a new DC set, I thought we should gather our thoughts and make some suggestions. Ready? Put on your Clixing Rings, kids, and let's go!


Every discussion of DC Heroclix sets has to start with the question, "Who will the Batman Allies/Enemies be?" It's one of the rules of the game, I think.

I don't think a new Nightwing REV trio is needed, but a "Fashion Model Dick Grayson" Unique would be nice (and he'd be dressed like Nightwing anyway). Similarly, an LE of Bat Enemy Cassie Cain as an out of character scenery-chewing logorrheic Republic Serial villain would a nice update. A Batwoman Unique should be de rigeur for the next DC set. That way, bloggers will have a 3D model available to facilitate their criticisms of the social impact of her breast size.

And the Question. Everyone agrees we need a Question clix. Batman Ally; smoke cloud; perplex and close combat.

Butt-kicking remakes really are needed for lots of Batvillain figures (the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face). And, for obvious reasons, a Catman clix and new Mad Hatter are called for. At least one more Secret Six character should be made. Ragdoll is the fabulous choice, but Scandal would probably get made first for gender parity in the set. Oh, and a pog of the Stuffed Corpse of Parademon; actually better just make him a Light Object.

Checkmate calls for some new figs, too: such as Count Vertigo and the long overdue Alan Scott.

Battle for Bludhaven? Heck, that deserves its own GAME. Atomic Knight generics, Uniques of the Nuclear Family, Prof. Radium, Firebrand all the new Freedom Fighters! Tell me you wouldn't enjoy a Human Bomb with Quake, Pulse Wave, Energy Explosion, Force Blast. Why, the Monolith might even get a clix, because every team needs a "brick". Oh, and BfB figs wouldn't be complete with a Refrigerator Construct Heavy Object token for Hal Jordan to use!

Now that we've got a Rita Farr, the rest of the Doom Patrol are inevitable.

The new Blue Beetle With Pincher Action is a pretty safe bet, as is Nightshade from Shadowpact. But will WK change its mind and make a Detective Chimp Unique?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World-Famous Elongated Irony

I tend too much to assume that everything I know about comics is common knowledge. It isn't; yesterday I almost fired someone for not knowing who Mr. Mxyzptlk is.

I always feel silly when I blog about, say, Egg Fu or the Composite Superman, because, well, everyone's heard of them, for pity's sake. But they haven't, and lots of people seem to be happy to learn about such things.

So, here's another observation along those lines, for those of you reading 52 Week 7:

You DO realize the irony of Ralph Dibny criticizing Booster Gold, right?

In essence, Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibny was the pre-Crisis version of Booster Gold. Not in the sense that being a stretchable sleuth is anything like being a flying future-tech vigilante! No, I mean in their approach to the "job".

Ralph Dibny was the first hero to actively seek out publicity, to eschew a secret identity, to strive for celebrity. You know who named Ralph "the World-Famous Elongated Man"? Ralph did. Ralph didn't get his powers by accident; he sought them out so he could become famous through them. His first story consists mostly of him stealing the limelight from the Flash in Central City.

Ralph showed up at a debutante ball -- uninvited, as I recall -- in costume, so as to be the center of attention. Then he parlays his fame into other benefits by charming, wooing, and marrying a wealthy heiress. She, in turn, used her wealth and position to land a superhero husband giving her the kind of excitement and access that (usually) even money can't buy.

It was a perfecct match, but let's not pretend it was A Love So Pure that they would have noticed each other or fallen in love if their circumstances and advantages had been different. And, no, I don't hate them; I like them fine, always did.

Ralph was, for the most part, a dilettante, whose first agenda item was to make a pile of dough in show biz (which he did, by the way). No, he never had "corporate sponsors", but he never really needed to look for any, did he?

So when Ralph Dibny, the original self-shilling superhero, disses Booster Gold for being a publicity-seeking gloryhound, well...

that's Comic Book Irony, folks.

Particularly, when he says, "All cameras, all microphones, right here, on me!"

P.S. It wasn't Booster's responsibility to think about whether your wife would come to harm because of your fame-seeking, Ralph; it was yours.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Egg Fu

You need to know who Egg Fu is. Right--now. Trust me on this one.

Some say Egg Fu is racist and one of the most offensive characters of all time. To them, I have one reply: Extrano. End of subject.

Let's face it, gang: Wonder Woman was at the forefront of confronting gender issues. She was not a pioneer in racial sensitivity.

See? Even Diana's embarrassed.


Wonder Woman was a WWII propagandist, and racial cariactures of the Japanese, German, and Italians were just part of the job. From our viewpoint fifty years later, this may seem unpardonable or at least in poor taste. But remember that the Axis nations made their "racial superiority" a crux of their propaganda; we should not be surprised that jabs of "racial inferiority" were used as a counterweapon. All's fair in love and war -- and those are what Wonder Woman was about.

I make that point because in creating Egg Fu, the Madman Bob Kanigher was trying to return Wonder Woman to her roots and revivify her title. Without WWII as her milieu, Wonder Woman had floundered. Her original mission of showing that woman's creative power of love was greater than man's destructive power of the sword was the vision of her creator, William Moulton Marston. He, of course, had to be strictly monitored by editors because his principal method of demonstrating his vision was through bondage and discipline scenes.

So in the post-war years, a purposeless, pointless Wonder Woman had paled into "My Little Pony" stories, a wan copy of the Superman Family; if you've never read a "Wonder-Tot" story, then thank Hera.

Madman Bob decided he wanted to return Diana to her pre-war vibe.

He canned all the "Wonder Family" crap and tried to pit Diana against zany villains in a setting of international politics. Of course, he also had her kidnapped by a talking gorilla from outer space, but that's another story.

Anyway, replacing the Axis's Japanese & Germans with the contemporary "foe" of the Communist Chinese, he created a villain that he hoped was in the style of the Golden Age Wonder Woman: Egg Fu. Now, remember, Kanigher is the man who created Dr. Domino, the greatest of all object-headed villains. In that context, an evil Humpty Dumpty like Egg Fu doesn't seem that strange.

Okay, okay-- it does.

He did other things, like bring back the Cheetah, Paula Von Gunther, Minister Blizzard, the Kangas. Take a look at the covers, and note the repeated mentions of "the Golden Age". Kanigher was trying to begin "a new Golden Age of Villainy".

Egg Fu was not Bob's single best decision; he later regretted it publicly. Gotta hand it to him, though: Egg Fu surely does make an impression. He's a great visual. I'm part Chinese myself, and I think E.F. is freakin' hilarious. I could do without the accent though, particularly since it's Japanese. I hate when people sclew that up.

Little known fact:
if Egg Fu ever appears in the same panel with Etta Candy, the world will end.
Heeee-ho! + Woo-woo! = Anti-Life.



Before anyone asks: no, they never really explained exactly what Egg Fu was. He simply was. Heee-ho!

John Byrne, a person of confidence, even did his own version of Egg Fu (Wonder Woman 128-129), as an evil computer from the Fourth World. Points for guts, John.

But I don't think that's the last we've seen of Egg Fu.

Do you?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Professor Radium

For those of you enjoying the total insanity that is "Battle for Bludhaven", I need to draw your attention to Professor Radium. You know, the guy who looks like a green Hugo Strange.

The rest of the characters being reintroduced in the BFB are crazy Silver and Bronze Age commentaries on the post-WWII nuclear era. Prof. Radium is not.


I'm guessing Prof. Radium was a Joker fan, because he does that whole "look in the mirror with horror" scene, then goes bonkers and does the Joker's patented "YMCA dance while surfing" maneuver. Gotta love Gotham.


BFB is Prof. Radium's first appearance since his original one in 1941. I love stuff like that. If you don't, well, then you're missing a big chunk of the fun of DC.

His real name is Henry Ross, and his hobby was inventing radium-based serums that can bring the dead back to life. If only Gotham had had Heroclix; think how much needless waste of life could have been avoided if wackos like Henry spent their evenings trying to understand how to apply the Pummel Feat Card to figures with CCE instead of performing ill-advised scientific experiments.

Anyway, Henry figured out how to bring dogs back from the dead.

Look at those first two panels; that's art, people.
Golden Age artists may not have been as technically adept as modern ones, but they had a compensatory sense of style and composition that was nearly overwhelming. Are there any panels in any of the comics you bought this week that will impress or even haunt you like that second panel above? I don't think so.


You go, Henry. As a dog lover, I salute you, and note that here on Earth Prime we are just beginning to figure how to do what Henry did over 60 years ago. Now, go re-read the first pic in this post, the one from BFB; clearly, Henry lost a dog or two tragically as a child and that left a lasting impression. Dude loves dogs, and his first thought for any science or technology is, "How can this ease the lives of dog-owners?" Henry's A-okay in my book.

Sadly, his bosses don't believe in Henry's reanimated zombie dogs because he performed his experiments in the dead of night when no one was watching and might have substituted lookalike live dogs for the dead ones. In fact, they fire him for stealing thousands of dollars worth of radium for his unauthorized experiments. Fools! The utter fools!

Naturally, Henry's next step was:

(A) Repeat the experiment with credentialed witnesses.
(B) Publish a paper on his research and call for external verification.
(C) Prove that the zombie dogs were the original ones through DNA comparison.
(D) Post an mpeg of his reanimation experiment on YouTube.


Since this is the DCU, the answer is obviously (E):Later, Henry blames the radium for driving him crazy.
Personally, I'd say that began when he thought it was a good idea to drink a bottle of something green, labelled "poison" with three Xs on it. Where was Mr. Yuk when Henry needed him?


See, this is why I never became a full-fledged scientist; I just don't have the right mindset. That idea would never have occurred to me.

So Henry kills himself and leaves a note for a colleague on the bottle labelled POISON XXX saying, "Shoot me up with this gunk after I'm dead." This being a comic book, the colleague immediately does so, instead of, say, calling the police or shrieking like a little girl. Yet more evidence I don't have what it takes to be a scientist.

Which may, in fact, be fortunate for me, since soon after Henry reanimates, he begins to glow with radiation and accidently irradiates to death the very colleague who brought him back to life. Oops; one less card to send at Christmastime, though.

But Henry "Professor Radium" Ross is equal to the emergency and develops a wonder cure for himself based on the non-existent chemical Volitell, which you can tell from its very name is an expensive drug found only at hospitals that Henry is going to have to start stealing to control his condition.

But first, a quick stop off to kill his girlfriend!


Stories used to be so much more gosh-darned efficient .
We've not seen this women before, the only way we know she's his girlfriend is through context, and she is not mentioned again. Yet she exactly serves her literary purpose of heightening the villain's personal Greek tragedy. I think modern writers are afraid that if they write scenes this efficiently, readers will have heart attacks because the plot's advancing too quickly.


You know, every time I hear someone whining about the "women in refrigerators" thing or the Rolling Head of Pantha "problem" with modern "bloodthirsty" writers, I feel like sending them every Golden Age panel where people die unceremoniously in the most horrible ways with barely a second mention. Because in a Golden Age story, there's an average of one per page. Men, women, dogs, children; I tell you, they used to drop like flies.

Fortunately, the Golden Age Batman gets one of his ridiculous hunches, something he does, oh, about once a story. These hunches are invariably correct; the GA Batman was a precog on a level with Agatha in Minority Report. If Batman says, "I have a hunch, Robin, that tonight an embittered ex-Nazi scientist may release a plague of robotic cicadas that will devastate the South American cocoa crops," then you dang well better stock up on Hersey bars, pronto, buster. No wonder Bruce Wayne does so well in the stock market.

Read enough stories and you'll notice that inspiration often comes to Bruce when he's undressing in front of his youthful ward. Who can fathom the mysteries of precognition? By the way, rumor has it the descendants of Batman are the first colonists on Naltor; it's all a plot by Evil Skeets, I'm told.

Sure enough, Batman's hunch is correct and out pops Henry in a startlingly unattractive containment suit. Henry, cornered by B&R, does what anyone with the deadly power of radioactivity literally at his fingertips would do:

Ouch. So much for the "descendants of Batman" theory.

...shoves a table into Batman's crotch..

Surprisingly lithe in his bulky containment suit, Henry shimmies down the drainpipe, which he destroys with his radioactivitiosity to prevent the Caped Clods from following. Remember, this is not the modern Batman, who's 102 rippling rockhard points of Leap/Climbing, Outwittish Willpower; this is the Golden Age Batman, who's more like the 47 point Icons starter set Batman, and faints if you throw the Gumball Machine token at him.

At this point, Batman does some fancy lab work to figure out that Prof. Radium is, in fact... Henry Ross! Thank gods Gotham City keeps on file the fingerprints of all civil service workers; no really, that's what Commissioner Gordon says. Yikes.

CSI: Gotham City. You see, Batman used to be a detective. Crazy idea, huh?
Poor Robin always used to nod off during these parts and had to hold his head up to stay awake.

Why didn't Batman or the police just read the article in the paper that said, "Wild-Eyed Civil Servant Fired for Stealing Massive Amounts of Radium"? Probably because it got bumped by one of Batman's silly "Trap Notices", I'll wager.

You see, Batman & Robin naturally did what they ALWAYS do: put a fake notice in the newpapers to lure the villain into a trap. In the Golden Age, the Gotham papers would reserve at least two or three columns per issue, just for Batman's little fake stories. I can just hear the Editor going over them: "Jeez, this one's got Mrs. Van Landorpf planning to wear her emeralds with tweed, ferchrissake; yeah, like the Penguin's gonna fall for that. I think he's letting Robin write these things!"

Just as naturally, Henry falls for it. They always fall for it. Except for the Penguin, who's too smart for that crap.

Anyway, Batman & Robin, now wearing insulating rubberized versions of their costumes for protection, face off against Prof. Radium at the shipyards because it (A) looks dramatic (B) provides plenty of props to fight with (C) offers lots of opportunity to fall. Which is, of course, exactly what Henry does, right into the (C), which further proves that he's a Joker fan, 'cuz that's just what the Joker'd do.

Of course, there's just one little loose end... the zombie dog.

What happened to Henry must have happened to the dog he reanimated. So where's Rusty the Radiumhound? And why...

is he not kicking this "dog" 's little canoid kiester?!