Saturday, November 03, 2007

Aquaman DVD

There are two types of people in the world: those who think Aquaman is great and those who think he's stupid. Therefore, everyone should buy the newly released DVD collection of the Filmation Aquaman cartoons (preferably through Big Monkey!).

People who know Aquaman is great deserve to own this collection because Aquaman has never seemed cooler than in this series. People who think Aquaman is stupid deserve to challenge their own assumptions by buying it and confronting the Glory That Is Aquaman.

For comic book characters that have really penetrated society's consciousness, there's usually one set of non-comics appearances that gets them there. For Superman, it was the Fleischer cartoons in the 1940s. For Batman, it was the '60s live action show. For Wonder Woman, it was the '70s show. For Aquaman, it was the Filmation cartoons.

I assume most of my readers have seen these cartoons at one point; perhaps I'm wrong? Here's a sample Aquaman story. If you haven't let me tell you, the Batman ones are rather dumb and the Superman ones are kind of dry.

If it's one thing Aquaman's adventures aren't, it's dry. He fights a wide variety of threats, such as monsters (lots of those in the oceans), aliens (you'd be amazed at how many threaten our oceans!), traditional villains (Black Manta and Fisherman), and ersatz villains (such as that hyper little seaqueen, "The Brain"). Some of the ersatzers are kind of clever, including one who controls sea plants, instead of animals. And hearing poor Ted Knight try to come with yet another voice variation for each one is an entertainment all its own.

The music, narration, and sounds effects are brilliant. Ted Knight could narrate the phone book and make it seem dramatic. Every time I hear the sickening thud of Aqualad getting hit in the head (which is every episode), I rewind it at least once for a second pass. Nobody takes a wallop like Aqualad.

It's pretty. Oh, sure Filmation ain't exactly Pixar, but if you adjust for that, the backgrounds are beautiful and exotic. Sure, Filmation is famous for using set animation sequences again and again in different setting. But you know what? They're darned good at it. And the Aquacave? Best headquarters ever. It's HUGE. So much tech, it makes the Batcave look like a Junior High Science Lab.

The character designs are cracking; for example, the seahorses have distinct personalities, reflected in their looks (innocent Imp and no-nonsense Storm).

Characterization is good. Aqualad is supportive, but not a goody-goody. He's not useless, but neither is he perfect (oh, so far from perfect). Tusky can be annoying, but if you just think of him as a dog instead of a walrus, he's less kill-worthy.

Aquaman is competent, but not overconfident. Aquaman is the perfect balance between Batman and Superman. He's the one Golidlocks would choose. Batman is not powerful enough; Superman is too powerful. Aquaman is just right. He varies the powers he uses (superstrength, waterballs, the aquaturbine trick, the fish). And when he does call the fish, it's only after he's tried to solve the problem himself. The fish also stay on spec, and are generally used much more realistically than in the comics.

Do yourself a favor; buy this DVD and then "head fa' home!".

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy

in my comics this week.

  • So does he just know that, or had Clark Kent actually read Pausanias?
  • In took me a minute or two to figure out they'd just killed Snoopy.
  • How Superman deals with zombies.
  • Interlac graffiti.
  • It was so good to see Ira West again. I've always liked him.
  • Aquaman versus the Evil Seawitches.
  • Speaking of witches, I'm no fan of the "magicks", but Earth 33 is rather interesting.
  • I like the revelation that the Monitors are growing more dissimilar.
  • Blue Devil in a Batman costume.
  • Even though he's a brain in a jar, he stills wants a harem? I'm guessing it just a style thing.
  • I though Old Superman was feeling sorry for himself; I should have known better.
  • Good lord; first, Egg Fu, now I-Ching!
  • Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent's Pal.
  • I had to learn the words "shoat" and "bardo" to read my comics this week. Do you know how infrequently I learn new words? Very infrequently.
  • Todd Rice ain't afraid of no Superdaddy.
  • Zatanna metes out some just desserts on Halloween!
  • Crabby Monitor exercises his power of superexposition in spades! It really did help me get a handle on the big picture. I also like the Countdown has, almost suddenly, become a whodunnit.
  • Wait; did the Riddler just say he was going to hire gays from now on?
  • Robin's an expert on women's shoes.
  • The Watchdogs. Lycanthropic vigilantes are cool.
  • Mister Terrific in casual tropical wear.
  • Snapper Carr's smarter than we thought. Much.
  • "There he is. Turn your Legion flight ring translators on."
  • So, do you think Himmler's brain lived anywhere near the zombies?
  • Julius H. Schwartz! That's Tiger Moth, Dragon Fly, and Silken Spider! FINALLY someone followed up on that. Thank you, Grant Morrison. I owe you three.

Starman Wishes You A Dramatic Halloween!

More Fan Art!

This one's from Jeremy Rizza, who depicts Hal "Head Trauma" Jordan as Krazy Kat. I wonder how Ignatz would look as Dr. Polaris...?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Delivery by Lance

The most erotic costume worn by man is the UPS uniform. Especially when you squeeze a hottie into to it like:

Lance the Blogger
Why, yes; I'd be happy to sign for that package.

Speaking of Fitness Celebrity and International Cutie Lance, he was on TV again in a particular charming/amusing piece on "Social Wellness". Lance teaches you how to reach out and touch someone. Tune in and pay attention for:

  • Host checking out Lance's stuff
  • Proof that the key to good posture is EXTREMELY tight clothing.
  • Lance and The Sentence That Refuses To End.
  • Metropolan
  • Lance wondering out loud whether the host has ever experienced how people treat you when you're well-dressed
  • The host following up with a discussion about shopping at Goodwill
  • Lance advising you to go hang out at your comic book store, using Big Monkey as a model of Social Wellness!
  • The host clearly wishing her show had commercial breaks or were half as long
  • "Go out and have some interaction with your mates!"

Go go gadget-haiku!

Today is Haikuesday at the Absorbascon, and who better to hear from than that master of all disciplines, Batman?

Batman and Superman's friendship, like all long-term relationships, is based on playing on each other's strengths and weaknesses but seldom acknowledging them. Superman is the muscle; Batman is the brains. Occasionally, Superman, in his blunt reporterly fashion, will remind Batman that he's as vulnerable and powerless as a China doll.

But when Batman asserts supremacy in his department it's always more subtle... too subtle for lunkhead Clark to detect with his supersenses. And for extra snottiness, Batman will do it in haiku (not that Clark "How many paragraphs does the story need to be again?" Kent would notice!).

"It's certainly a
complicated gadget! I
wonder how it works?"

I imagine this spoken in the same tone that a parent takes when handed a page full of crayon scribbles which he's told is a giraffe: "Why, it certainly is a giraffe,Clark! I think it's the best looking giraffe I've ever seen!" Superman answers in the solemn-child voice with his version of, "I don't want stupid Kara messing up my picture. I shall put on the very top of my toy shelf, where she cannot reach, so that she will not damage it."

Naturally, what's really going on is that Batman is analyzing and memorizing the design and circuitry so that he can reverse-engineer it, while Superman stands there blankly posing for the Kandorian quarter. Superman loves having his face on quarters.

Before Superman can get around to examining the mechanism at his Fortress, he'll have to shoo the cockroaches out of Jimmy's apartment, convince Lois she's turned into a witch, teach Perry a lesson about eating fruit from alien trees, capture Luthor before he's had the chance to change out of his prison greys, and wonder idly whatever happened to that superpowerful dog he used to live with. Before Superman can get around to examining the mechanism at his Fortress, Bruce Wayne will have had his lawyers file the patents, gone into production, and made several tens of millions on the device, whatever it is. Either that, or his copy will be ensconced on a table in the cave, lit by a single overhead and labeled "Complicated Bad-Gadget", put into use against the criminals of Gotham and dusted by Alfred daily.

What haiku can you compose to celebrate Batman's sneaking condescension of Superman, or the machine that inspired it?

Monday, October 29, 2007


Today, I fell in love.

With cardboard.

Like many comic book readers, I'm just a big boy at heart. And boys love their toys (like Heroclix, although this isn't a Heroclix post). Today in the mail I received one of my favorite toys from my boyhood: the Wacky Races Board Game (1969) from Milton Bradley.

Surprisingly, the game mechanics aren't bad.
It's a kind of a more sophisticated version of the game "Sorry".

Oh, how I loved the Wacky Races (and its related shows Dastardly & Muttley in their Flying Machines and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop)! A recent incident reminded of that, and in doing some on-line research about the shows, I stumbled across of copy of the board game for sale, for a reasonable price.
Muttley seems to have dyed his ears blond for this cover; must have been summer.

I didn't hesitate. I didn't even think about it. My nostalgia-ganglia autonomously caused my hand to click on the PayPal button. And, today, when I opened the package, and lifted the lid of the game, I gasped: it had never been played. The gamepieces hadn't yet been punched out of the placards they come in. A heart-stopping surprise! Fortunately, I was revived by the dog licking my face after I fainted.

Now, all this has nothing to do with comics per se, but it does lead me to some related questions.

(1) This item might have very well have been, say, a Batman toy. For example, I remember having cardboard cut-out playsets of Batman characters and props (the Red Phone and the Grandfather Clock stand out in my memory), a playset I cannot, after years of trying, even identify, let alone find a copy of. Surely, each one of you reading this has such a comic book toy you'd adore to have again, or even to know it still exists somewhere. If so... what is it?

(2) I cannot fathom under what circumstance a completely pristine copy of this boardgame sat, unused, unowned, un-anything for nearly 30 years without any damage. It's as if The Island of Misfit Toys shelters these gems for decades until the time for them to return to our world to be adored comes again. How does that happen?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New heroclix pics!

New pics from the next set of DC Heroclix, "Crisis", have turned up (in Belgium, of all places, but don't ask).

Black Adam, pile of skulls? Heh heh. Nice cape, too. My stab at a special power for BA: Genocide -- Black Adam may kayo all enemies simultaneously if he rolls a 12.

Jason Todd, going postal! Special power? I say he gets to do a Regen roll AFTER he's been kayoed.

A Monitor. If there were still LEs', I would expect "Bob". Dang, those are big hands! He's already got the Quintessence ability; what kind of Special Power would a monitor have?

Starfire and Nightwing on a Duo Dial? Hm. Seems like overkill. If this means we won't be getting a new Nightwing solo figure, a lot of people will be unhappy about it. I'm not sure what kind of Special Power they would have together, but I'm sure I wouldn't want the kids to see them use it.

The new set is due out in February!

Newsaramaboy Prime

Pardon me if what I am about to discuss it already obvious to all of you, and I'm the last person to really catch on. I have always realized that the Infinite Crisis Gang (Old Superman, Alexander Luthor, and Superboy Prime) represented criticism of the degraded,90s-style, Marvelized version of the DCU that has existed post-COIE (Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1985). But it only really hit me yesterday when Julian (one of our Heroclix judges at Big Monkey) pointed out that "Superman Prime" (as presented in the Superman Prime Issue No. 1 special) is Fanboy Outrage personified. Julian called him, "Newsaramaboy Prime".

Like us, Clark (his name is Clark Kent, remember?) is from a universe where the DCU as we know it is just a series of comic book stories.

I'm not saying Clark's an idiot, but ...
he is wearing a Green Lantern shirt and reading a Hal Jordan comic book.
Specifically, it's

Green Lantern No. 163 (1960)
I love the fact that apparently Hal keeps a Babe in Bubble in tow
for when he gets, ya know, the urge.

Note that the comic he is reading is from 1960, way before the COIE. It's not even Bronze Age; it's Silver Age. The comics in his reading pile pictured on that same page are also Silver Age. The creative team could have chosen to show him reading comics from as late as the early 1980s, but they wanted to make it pretty darned clear that Clark is an old-school comics reader.

In his original story, he was excited to learn that his comic book heroes were real. But whenever a comic book reader thinks that characters are behaving "off-model" or those characters are replaced by new versions, then they become less real to him.

Except for Vibe, who lives in the hearts and minds of all joy-loving people. Like Santa.

Darned right he's not. The real Firestorm was an utter moron.
This one's great and actually deserves his own series.

Just because Clark is a murderous wacko doesn't make him wrong all the time, you know.

To Clark, these pale copies of his heroes aren't real at all. That explains why he's not so upset when he kills or maims. That, and the fact that he's a crazy punk.

Clark, like many fans of the pre-Crisis DCU, is disappointed that he was asked to sacrifice the world he loved for the promise of a better one, which turned out, in his eyes and by some objective criteria, to be worse.

Note that Clark doesn't say "what happened to Sue Dibny"; he says, "what they did to Sue Dibny". They? Surely he's not refering to Dr. Light and Jean Loring collectively in incidents that took place with many years of timeline between? Nope; that makes little sense. This an example of Clark as a metatextual commenter. It is we who talk about what "they" (DC writers and editorials) did to Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis.

But, like so many of us, Clark's not about to let go, shrug, and say "oh, well". Like us, he's a rabid fan and he's going to stick around to help make the DCU more like he thinks it should be. He won't rest until Batgirl's not a villain, Spoiler has a memorial case, and Vibe comes back from the dead.

Even if he has to rend some characters limb from limb along the way... .