Saturday, July 22, 2006

Doom Patrol The Movie

Doom Patrol: The Movie.

I ... I just keep saying it. Hoping that, if I say it often enough, it will become comprehensible somehow.

"Doom Patrol... The Movie"

I don't know, it's not that is oxymoronic, exactly, just ... hard to wrap my tiny brain around. It's like saying, for example, "The Appeal of Guy Gardner". I accept that it exists, but can't understand what it might be.

But there is going to be a Doom Patrol film, so I'd better start getting used to the idea. Perhaps you can help by offering casting suggestions for this, er, "Doom Patrol: The Movie". Assume that the roles include at least:

  • Beast Boy
  • Elasti-Girl
  • Mento
  • Negative Man
  • Robotman
  • The Chief
  • (possibly) M'sieur Mallah & the Brain

Please confine your suggestions to actors who are physically appropriate for the role. I say this specifically because ever time I read a "let's cast a movie thread", people make lots of suggestions for actors who would have been perfect for a role about 15 or 20 years before (because they know those actors from movies made then). You know, ridiculous suggestions like "Jack Nicholson as the Joker" (oh, snap!).

It's also important to take general physical condition into account when casting spandex-clad heroes; it's not like anyone's going to cast "David Ogden Stiers as the Martian Manhunter"; I mean, that would be crazy.

Please also factor in race ("Michael Clarke Duncan" as the Kingpin"), accent ("Dolph Lungren as the Punisher"), and acting chops ("Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane").

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ten Things

Ten Things I would find more enjoyable than 52's back-up series, 'the History of the DCU starring Donna Troy' ...

1. Jimmy Olsen in a dress.

2. A Day in the Life of Halo.

3. The Spectre and the Phantom Stranger watching the corpse of Orca the Whalewoman rot, with dialog by Brian Michael Bendis.

4. A reunion of all the characters from Bloodlines.

5. The History of Ill-Conceived Characters Created When Editors Were Sleeping, starring Donna Troy.

6. Proty's Penthouse Party.

7. Week after week of Alfred silently polishing the silver at Wayne Manor and dusting the Batcave.

8. Prose-only Lobo/Major Force slash fiction.

9. Gypsy getting a pedicure and foot massage.

10. Reprints of every time the Red Tornado has blown up.

And you....?

Party Favor

Mercy! Last night's Big Monkey party was a rockin' good time! In addition to the staff, there were 52 guests; what more could a DC fan ask? "Busboys & Poets" was a nice venue, with delicious food and fun special drinks for us, including "Big Monkeys" and "Secret Identities".

I was happy the "Dramatic Reading Contest" had full and avid participation! There was more drama in that room than in a Starman Archive Volume! The winning speech was one by the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The runner-up was the Penguin's "bowling pin" soliloquy from "Penguin Takes a Flyer -- to the Future!", and tying for third was an interpretation of the Purple Hood's incinerator speech from the Starman Archive and Mirage's "the time for pretense is over" scene from his second appearance.

Though I was emceeing, I still got to participate, providing the voice of menaced Doris Lee in the Mists's "Band of Living Shadows" scene!

There were a lot of people there and I was kind of busy, so if I didn't get much of a chance to talk to you, I apologize. But if you're a reader of this blog and showed up at the party, my thanks; and please pop over to the Big Monkey site and leave a comment about the party there for our digital scrapbook!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Things That Made Me Happy...

in this week's comics (and some o' last week's).

Cascade. Oh, so delighted to see her in last week's 52. I know her only from pouring over the DC Encyclopedia in search of water-based characters who would be good custom clix for my Aquaman-centric ocean map games. Hanging out with Black Adam isn't the best sign, but it keeps her in play so that some day she can find a home in the Aquaman title. Maybe by then the real Aquaman will be back in it, too.!

Dr. Psycho versus Manhunter. Is Doc P a bit overused right now? Perhaps. But given that he was absent from comics for DECADES, I don't begrudge him the screen time. Besides he's consistently and unrepentently vile; we deserve more villains like that.

Command D. Of course -- how else would something as rug-chewingly crazy as Battle for Bludhaven end except with Command D?

Bye-bye, Bludhaven. Wish I could say I'll miss you, but from the very beginning you were nothing but a parody of Gotham.

The Wolfman is a monster that kills once a month. Happy to hear that Marv Wolfman's run on Nightwing is just a few filler issues. Wolfman, the "creator of Nightwing", is, as far as I'm concerned, the Man Who Ruined Dick Grayson. But you knew that already. He is the exact opposite of what that character needs right now.

Vibe's cameo in JLA #0. Thanks, Brad!

Batman borrowing a book from the library on Themiscyra. Second best moment in JLA #0.

Captain Atom's "new outfit" at the end of Battle for Bludhaven (which apparently lots of younger readers didn't understand). A nice easter egg for us fanboys though!

Freedom Fighters. I have to agree with Devon (who, after all, erreth not): if you read only one comic book this week with strong social commentary using metahumans as a metaphor, then let it be Freedom Fighters.

Robin's great relationship with Batman. But I'm with Alfred; I mean "The Clash"? Harrumph!

Querl Dox calling Vril Dox stupid. Well, who else can get away with it?

The Legion's Supergirl. DC; can we please allow this version of Supergirl into the 21st century?

The crazy-@$$ silveragedness of the 31st century. Yes, this week we learn in one expository word balloon that the earth shifted its axis of rotation so that Australia became the south pole, rendering Antarctica liveable, where one city eventually got giantified by Bizarro-Brainaic's Enlargement Ray, and that's where Colossal Boy comes from: a city of giants living in Antarctica. Oh. Well. Of course! That's how the 31st century should be...

The art, particularly the inking, in Robin.

Doll Man's opening scene. So sweet it made my teeth hurt.

Finally, someone is going to get rid of Major Force. Who keeps thinking it's a good idea to bringing this cheesy, cartoonishly violent bowling trophy back as character? Let him go this time, please.

Uncle Sam is coming and somebody's gonna get a whoopin' out by the toolshed.

Sue's hats. Lots of them.

The Question, retooled to resemble more his JLU version (really, the only version that's ever been truly popular).

Batwoman. Batwoman skulking. Batwoman throwing batarangs. Batwoman crashing through windows. Batwoman's majorette baton of doom. Batwoman kicking ani-men butt. Batwoman making a quick exit. I don't know whether Renee is in love in Batwoman, but I sure as heck am!

What Flash discovered for the Big Three at "the Hall". Make no mistake: there are some ideas so good, you just can't kill them, folks. Thanks again, Brad.

Vibe's Rogues Gallery

The fight does not end when we die.

No, the fight goes on. We do not lie about the afterlife strumming zithers and drinking wine coolers. The afterlife is a brighter better version of here, without stopping to go to the bathroom.

And, so, Vibe fights on in the celestial realms, unimpeded by Ivoids (soulless things that they are).

But ... whom does Vibe fight? Who constitutes Vibe's personal Rogue's Gallery in the afterlife?

Doctor Polaris, for sure. Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gracias, meng!

My special thanks to webhero Art Williams, who created the Absorbascon's new logo!

Art -- chu not sad; chu bad!

Reasons to read "Manhunter" #13

In issue #13, we discover (among other things) that the original Manhunter's dog was actually a robot.

A robot dog. Love dogs; love robots; love robot dogs. Somebody really needs to give Cliff Steele a robot dog named Robby; that's what the Chief needs to work on in his lab.

Okay, now the whole "robot dog" thing was made up in some previous Manhunter run, so no points for that. And the only time we actually see this robot dog is in flashback and when it gets "killed" by being thrown through a window. Negative points for Injury to the Dog motif (thought, in fairness, it's just a robot).

BUT. There's an off-line robot dog. And a tech-master named Dylan hanging around. I am convinced, as an article of faith, that if this series is allowed to continue, Dylan will repair the robot dog and it will become Kate Spencer's sidekick.

I like Batman. JLA's fun. But face it: there's no chance books like that might feature a robot dog sidekick. In Manhunter, it's not only possible, but if it happened you wouldn't bat an eyelash. And that is one of the reasons I read Manhunter.

Buy Manhunter.This is Robby, DC's original robot dog.

What YOU can do for ME

I'd like you to do some things for me. I feel I can ask for these since I didn't get any of the things I asked for last year. Well, except for the thought-slaves, and I had to buy those for myself.

1. Read the new interview with incoming-JLA writer Brad Meltzer that Devon has posted at Big Monkey. Perhaps it will help you deduce the new line-up...

2. Vote in my new poll on who you want most to see in the new JLA.

3. Write my local newspaper (the Examiner) and ask the pop culture writer to do a story about either the Absorbascon or Big Monkey, particularly if you live in the DC metropolitan area. Feel free to site and link to particular examples of their respective fabulousnesses. The paper has specifically, publically asked for suggestions about websites and comic-related stuff to be covered, so don't worry that you're coloring outside the lines.

4. The Examiner is groovy, because it covers comics every Wednesday, at least one or two full pages. The City Paper is not groovy, because it does not. Please write the City Paper , explain to them why they need to report on and review comics to remain hep (or hip -- whatever you kids call it nowadays) and ask them to do so, particularly if you live in the DC metropolitan area.

5. My friend and frequent Absorbascommenter Jon Hex (a witty guy of good taste, except for his foolish decision to attend the San Diego Comicon instead of the Big Monkey Party on Thursday) has a new blog; do pay him a visit and say hello.

6. The highlight of Thursday's Big Monkey Party will be...

the Dramatic Reading Contest.

Contestants will be given a panel or two of the kind of prose that you can find only in comics. Then, when the panel appears on the screen, they will go to the mike on stage and do the best delivery of the lines they can. I have about 11 of these ready to go, but I have a feeling I could use some more. And, because I own no Marvel comics, I have no selection featuring Dr. Doom, who, I'm told, talks like Dr. Domino night and day (and sometimes in his sleep). If you have any panels that would be good for the Dramatic Reading Contest, please e-mail them (or, better yet, just a link to where they are on the internet) to me.

7. Three of best enjoyed events here at the Absorbascon were Widowmaker Week, Dr. Domino Week, and Real Word: Detroit, starring the Detroit League. ALL of those came about because somebody had some stupid Bronze Age comics they were willing to give to me. If you have a stupid Bronze Age DC comic you'd like me to make fun of (and that you don't need back), send it to me at

Scipio Garling
c/o Big Monkey Comics
1419-B Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington DC 20007

And if you don't have any, remember: you can buy some at Big Monkey Comics Ebay store!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Fourth Wall is Angry at You

Violation of the Fourth Wall, the literary barrier between an audience and the entertainment they are viewing, has a long and distinguished history. When did the Fourth Wall become a sacred taboo in comic books? Probably when publishers realized their audience wasn't children any more... .

Once upon a time, comics treated the Fourth Wall as a feature of the medium, not an obstacle. If it was a wall, it at least had a window you could occasionally open or wave through.

During the Golden Age, when kids were watching the Superman cartoons and serials at the cinema, the comic book versions of Clark and Lois go to the movies where one is playing. Suddenly Clark realizes that the cartoon will reveal his secret identity to Lois, so he has to engage in all sorts of super-shenanigans to distract her from what's on the screen. Madness.

In Golden Age Batman comics, whole pages would be set aside for Batman & Robin to talk to us kids directly about the Evils of Crime. Or How to Run a Scrap Drive. Or the Importance of Flossing.

As we've mentioned before, comics used be to full of stuff like Wildcat being inspired by Green Lantern comics and Barry Allen collecting comics of Jay Garrick's adventures. Heck, when Jay left the JSA, the characters openly talked about it being because he'd now gotten his own title. Mindboggling.

Superman's Silver Age winks to the reader while still in the story are a staple of the character (so much so, Grant Morrison had to revisit it at the end of the wacky DC 1,000,000 storyline). In fact, if you'll check the Filmation cartoons of the 1960s, you'll notice the Superman frequently does "the wink" at the end of his episodes during an aside to the audience, but Batman and Aquaman never do.

Check out the Showcase Presents: Teen Titans. The "Titans Cave" is hidden behind a billboard for ... the Batman television series. According to the cover at left, Batman himself used to enjoy watching his own show.

In the Bronze Age, in-story "winks" and other Fourth Wall violations seemed to peter out (although occasionally Batman and others would still take a page out of book to chat with us about other comic books and characters that might interest us). But, in another sense, the Bronze Age shattered the literary barrier between this world and the DCU by revealing that our world ("Earth Prime") was simply one of the many worlds in DC's "multiverse".

This wasn't just an abstract idea; "Earth Prime" people (Gardner Fox, Elliot Maggin, Cary Bates, Julius Schwartz) would sometimes get mixed up in a multiversal crossover and appear as actual characters in the stories they were writing. Creepy. Really, anything with Cary Bates is creepy, fourth wall or not.

It was an odd idea, but not unprecedented. For example, Golden Age creator Jack Cole featured himself once in a Plastic Man story. In the late Silver Age, the Madman Bob Kanigher actually called Wonder Woman's supporting cast into his office and retired them. IN PANEL. Freaky.

But, at some point, the Fourth Wall got angry and locked its window. Earth-Prime was no longer our world, but just another one of DC's fictional worlds, home of the Boy Who Created the Rolling Head of Pantha, and a few other great characters. If superheroes did PSAs in comic books, they talked to the Earth-1 children drawn in front of them, not to the readers. Superman stopped winking.

The hardening of the Fourth Wall is responsible for the demise of two other devices formerly common in comic books: the Narration Box and the Editor's Note.

Personally, I miss those absurd little boxes that told you exactly what was happening in the panel, as if, somehow, you couldn't see it, or were listening on the radio. I'd rather see a suprapanel box that says,


than have a character be forced to say unnatural things like,


And I certainly don't want to have to figure all that out from just looking at the pictures. Pictures are for Marvel readers. I mean, maybe the gorilla is undereducated and unaware of the historical significance of the swastika; maybe somebody got Sam Simeon drunk, slapped an armband on him and shoved him through the window. Please don't leave me guessing, DC; that kind of Moral Ambiguity is for Marvel readers; bring back the Narration Box.

The Editor's Note also was deemed "tacky" during this period, so nowadays we're left wondering things like,

"Hey, I am supposed to believe Superman can weld a brick building back together in one panel while talking to Jimmy Olsen?"

Yes, reader; yes, you are.
Editor's Note: Just as a furnace first softens, then hardens clay, so Superman's heat vision joins the building's cracks, sealing them with a sudden blast of super-cold breath.
Oh, well; okay, then. Why, Barbelith would evaporate if DC brought back the Editor's Note. And, you know, I'd be okay with that.

During this period (which, I suppose, we're still in), there were rare moments of transquartomuralistic address (such as the end of Impulse, where Bart's dog gives the series' farewell speech to the reader).

But, unlike instances of the literary device from previous ages, most modern transquartomuralisms are intended to startle. They aren't gentle waves from the characters, they're more like slaps in the face. Grant Morrison uses them regularly; in fact, some have criticized him for overusing the device or abusing it as a deus ex machina (as in the end of his run on Animal Man).

The "tabooeyness" of violating the Fourth Wall is actually heightened by its current, principal "acceptable" uses: the Fifth Dimensionals imps, Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite. Those characters have evolved so that doing the impossible is now part of their essential nature. As a result, every time they violate the Fourth Wall, it's a kind of backwards reaffirmation that it can't be done.

Transquartomuralisms of any kind remind the readers that what they're reading is a fiction. For those who want to lose themselves in that fictional world for a while, that can make escapism more difficult. They know the DCU isn't real, but they don't want the DCU itself to acknowledge it. In real life, we do not "turn out to the audience" (except, I suppose, when we pray). So, when comic book characters do, it can (for many people) damage the aura of realism in the story.

Kids are very into pretending. INTO it. They have no shame in it and understand (intuitively if not intellectually) what it's for: an outlet for emotions and exercise for the imagination. That's why work geared at kids (like Peter David's) isn't squeamish about violating the Fourth Wall, because kids want it broken. I like to read about Robin; kids like to pretend they are Robin. It's one of the reasons that Archie Comics freak me out so much; because they're still written for kids and delight in, not exactly smashing, but smushing the fourth wall, in ways that, as an adult, my mind just can't handle.

I know what degree and kind of transquartomuralisms I want: I want Narration Boxes (when fun), and an occasional "Flash Fact" or "As seen in" from the editor, but any other "violations" confined to the 5th dimensionals, for whom such things are perversely in character.
What about YOU, dear readers? Do YOU want to see more violations of the Fourth Wall? Write us and let us know!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Difference Between DC and Marvel

Best thing I've ever read about the difference between DC and Marvel.

Kphil, however, does get one thing completely, absolutely wrong. He says, "the Absorbascon said this better". He is wrong; it did not. Kphil says it MUCH better than I ever have or ever could.

Kphil, my hat's off to you.

Roll Out The Pantha

There's a comic, what a comic
Only tragic faces drawn there

And there's always lots of room
For a worry or a gloom
There's OMACs, and there's punching

And a lot of sharp ka-runching
When they read the Crisis
They all come for the "Zing!"
Everytime you hear that blood-go-spurt

Everbody waits for corpses-in-the-dirt
They only want to come back for one thing
They crowd around and sing "Let's kill Ollie, hey!"
And you hear that skull thud on the floor
It's a big (HA HA HA HA) surprise you're waiting for
Then all at once everybody, everybody, forms a ring

For miles around, you'll hear them sing:

Roll Pantha's head out,
decapitation is fun;
Roll Pantha's head out,
we've got her skull on the run!
Tnkchhh! Zing! Izaya!

Join in a round of good jeer;
Now it's time to roll out Pantha,
'Cause her bod's not here!

Take it away boys!