Saturday, December 23, 2006

Metrics of Adulthood

This time of year, the media conspire to establish Belief in Santa Claus as the universal cultural metric of the transition from Childhood to Adulthood.

They have to push it, because it's not a very good yardstick. In the days before the modern mass media, children were more sheltered from the evidence of the commercial underpinnings of our winter holiday. Nowadays, only the smallest of tots could be unaware that their parents are responsible for their holiday gifts.

But what are better indicators, more rooted in our modern culture, that one has made or is making the transition from childhood to adulthood? Mine own is quite clear: I was certain I was an adult when I realized that Mr. Banks is right about the tuppence and Mary Poppins is wrong.

But that's just me. What other useful measures can we think of, especially focusing on those with roots in our common comic book culture?

You Know You're An Adult When...

  • You send your She-Hulk poster to be framed.
  • You start wondering why Batman allows a child to fight armed gangsters.
  • Your empathy for Peter Parker turns to contempt.
  • Superman starts to impress not because of what he does, but because of what he doesn't do.
  • You stop caring whether people think Aquaman is lame.
  • It occurs to you that visiting Paradise Island might be more fun than visiting the Batcave.
  • You first say, "Oh, they finally brought that character back, eh?"

Your suggestions?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why We Love the Phantom Stranger V

Because the Phantom Stranger can --and will-- talk smack to anyone.


Even a bad-ass Afrobot like Chuma the Cybernetic Warrior-God.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas, Jeanine!


What a cute little girl!

Oh, but her candle blew out.

Well ... I hope we get to see her again.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Speak My Name!

Through my name, you are given the powers of these six mighty heroes!

the wit of Simone

the chiaroscuro of van Honthorst

the transquartomuralism of Archie

the semiotics of Zot!

the absurdity of Ambush Bug

the violence of Miller

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why We Love the Phantom Stranger IV

Not because the Phantom Stranger pulls this sort of thing.

But because the Phantom Stranger pulls this sort of thing off.

Blogging in The Holiday Spirit

Well, you clearly have a snarky algorithm that's all your own. That must explain your great popularity. What justifies your presumption in judging me (or motivates your apparent need to do so), however, I cannot fathom.


P.S. As for the delay, that's due to the fact that I don't read your blog any more, it seems, than you read mine. That's probably for the best.

-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Morrow []
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 10:13 AM
Subject: Re: your own snarky algorithm

4.5. Generally low-wattage flame. Points off for the grammatical mistake

in the second sentence. Small upmark for the superior tone in the

assumption that I've never read your site, but that's called back by the

delay in your own response.

Thanks for reading!


Scipio wondered aloud:


>Lame Listmaking

> by Greg


>Via James Nicoll, the

>Top Ten

>Lamest Superheroes of All Time.


>There is nothing insightful in the list, which is generated by essentially

>the same snarky algorithm that determines the content on Ironic Age sites

>like the Absorbascon and Chris's Invincible Super-Blog. I'm not saying

>that Vibe's not worth ridiculing; I'm saying that there's nothing

>surprising or insightful in doing so.


>My list would include characters like Skateman, Badrock, and Night

>Thrasher, or maybe Rage, and my list isn't surprising or insightful, either.


>Posted by Greg at November 16, 2006 2:35 PM

>| TrackBack


> If you had ever actually read my site, you would know that I champion Vibe

>specifically. It seems you mistaken that I operate by the same "snarky

>algorithm", and I resent your statement that I do.


>Perhaps your own "snarky algorithm" needs improvement...


> Scipio.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Supersize Her!

There are so many things that made me happy this week in comics. Why, the Dr. Thirteen story and the Infinite Holiday Special themselves made being alive worthwhile, in so many ways.

  • Traci Thirteen's evening gown and dinner selection.
  • I, too, love Bat-Santa.
  • Tawky Crawky's public debut.
  • "PULSAR Master of Sound"

But nothing made me happier than Wizard.

Unlikely, no?

Specifically, this (from an interview with Adama Hughes, writer and artist on the upcoming All-Star Wonder Woman):

The six-issue arc will even feature the debut of an Adam Hughes-pencilled, plus-sized, junk-food-eating hero -- original Wonder Woman sidekick Etta Candy. "I'm desperate to have her in there and to work in 'Woo! Woo!' at one point," he laughs.

Monkey Questions

Who do you think Supernova is?

Redesign the female supehero body!

Who is your preacher?

The Absorbascon Answers the Big Questions

Is Batman crazy?

No. Modern comic readers are trained (by Marvel comics) to think of characters in terms of the on-going psychological damage of traumatic events. This makes them incapable of perceiving someone like Batman as anything other than "damaged goods".

Writers who continually show Batman denying himself normal pleasure or as shut off from normal human interactions foster this narrow perception of the character. As an antidote, read some Golden Age Batman. The Golden Age Batman didn't deny himself a full life in order to be Batman; becoming Batman is how he enjoyed life to its fullest.

Sadly, the concept that people might seek fulfillment in devoting themselves to the safety or betterment of society rather than personal pleasure is lost on many readers today, which is why they don't understand Batman. Batman is merely a dramatic extension of people like policeman, fireman, paramedics, etc. If Batman is 'crazy', then so are they.

Is Superman too powerful to be interesting?

No. Readers who think of comics mostly as a slugfest between opposing characters, a hero and a villain (or, if you read Marvel, two heroes) think of Superman as boring because "no one can beat Superman". Even on those limited terms, Superman is not "boring", because there are many characters who have beaten him, and many ways to do so. Just recently, Superman was hopelessly outclassed by the Collector and was only able to "defeat" him through a combination of guts and guile.

But the real trick to Superman is putting him in situations where his powers aren't overwhelmingly useful. Again, in the Golden Age, they knew how to do this. Clark Kent often came up against stories -- corruption among government contractors, poor working conditions, domestic abuse -- based on socioeconomic problems rather than crazed supervillains. Such problems are not so easily punched away.

In the Silver Age, they took a different tack. There, Superman's challenge was often about how to use his enormous powers subtly and without detection, so as to protect his secret identity. That's why his supporting cast plays a disproportionate role in his mythos.

Try this experiment. Pretend, for the next day or so, that you have all of Superman's powers. Now, acting as a hero, what exactly can you do? Solve world hunger? Stop all crime in your city? End poverty and injustice? All while living your regular life?

If you think about that for a while, you'll see there are a great many challenges even for a hero as powerful as Superman.

Is Wonder Woman a lesbian?

No. It's fairly safe to assume the bulk of women in her home of Themyscira are lesbian (at least, situationally so, as they have been living there without men for thousands of years). But growing up with gay people doesn't mean one is going to be gay, any more than growing up with straight people means one is going to be straight.

Wonder Woman's romantic/sexual interest in men is pretty plain, even in the Golden Age, with the ridiculous focus on woman-on-woman bondage and submission (which was clearly more about the sexual interests of her creator than the character herself). Her motivation for leaving Paradise Island is that she is smitten with Steve Trevor, and she wastes much of her personal time trying to gain his interest. Since then, she has repeatedly been portrayed as interested in whether men find her attractive, and has had an intimate, physical on-going relationship with at least one male character; the same cannot be said of her and female characters.

While Wonder Woman would probably be open to lesbian relations, she has consistently portrayed as being sexually interested primarily in the opposite sex.

Is Green Lantern really an idiot?


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fishclix: The Attack School

As requested. As promised. More fishclix! They go well with your Aquaman heroclix (and butter).

As before, the Aquaman symbol means they have the Finny Friends Ability (aquatic movement, and, as long as Aquaman's still in play, willpower and battle fury). They have JLA Team Ability to allow them free movement; Peter the Pufferfish lobbied hard for that.

Our previous little school of fishclix were primarily defensive. This one isn't.

The swordfish. Nothing fancy! It charges at you; it stabs you; it hurts. Unless you are Invulnerable or Impervious, of course.

The hammerhead. It charges at you; it hits you in the head, as comic book hammerheads do; it hurts. Same conditions as above.

Speaking of hurt ... although no one asked for it, I thought this set wouldn't be complete without a shark.

Don't be disappointed when you notice that the shark has a zero damage value; he's got Blades/Claws/Fangs as his attack power. I suppose, in this case, we can just call it "Fangs", eh?

Anyway, with his "Fangs" he can do more than a little damage, if he gets lucky. But, remember that, since he has no intrinsic damage value, he's vulnerable to having his Fangs countered by an opponent's Outwit; sharks aren't very smart.

The electric eels. Zap! They use Quake to hurt all adjacent opponents and send them flying. I considered it inappropriate to use Pulse Wave because that can harm those who are Invulnerable or Impervious. Eels cannot harm Superman, people!

And, oh, yes ... the whale.

The whale is the world's first Giant Pog, I suppose; it occupies four squares at a time. Sure, it's an easy target, but it's got Toughness. And with Charge plus an intrinsic damage value of 4 ... well, let's just say you should really try to avoid getting hit by the whale. Ouch.