Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Night at the Club

If you've never been to South Beach, you might be surprised to know there's not a lot of Latin music here (for that, I have to plug in my Jerry Rivera station on Pandora). No, the soundtrack of SoBe is dance music. Steady, relentless, incessant, omnipresent dance music. It's not that it's at the clubs (because of course it is). It's playing in the hotel lobbies, the shoe stories, the UPS vans, the confessionals, the Holocaust memorial, the botanical gardens, and the bathroom at the gelatteria.

Now this is the native music of my people, so on the whole it's not too annoying (though having to fight a nearly irresistible urge to jump atop the Holocaust Memorial and start Elevated-Arm Dancing was distressing).

Most of the dance music here is aimless, featureless, and nameless. But there've been some truly inspired dance adaptations of themes songs from popular culture. I mean, if Beethoven's Albumblatt can make a kickin' dance tune, it stands to reason you could do it with, you know, some real music.

So this puts me in the mind to share this (not entirely comic book related) post about Songs That Need To Be Redone As Dance Numbers But Haven't Yet (To My Knowledge). "Wonder Woman" certainly has, as has "Batman", and, to some degree "Superfriends" (although a much longer version is overdue).

WHY did I love this show, even though I was too old for it?

Best. Theme. Ever.

Can't you just SEE little Chinese children of the revolution marching to this tune?

Really, this one's so obvious, I can't believe it's never been done; has it?

It tooks me years to figure out "wealth and fame he's ignored".

I sing this one every morning. In the same key.

Work it, Johnny Nash!

This one is almost there already.

The ticking is a nice touch.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy (Miami Edition)

It's Wednesday, but, trapped in the wilds of SoBe, I am comicless. Comicless, I say!

So, this is like one of those scenes where the sergeant or team leader or guy with a cape has been felled and gasps out to his colleagues, "Go... go on... without me!"

Therefore, the duty falls to YOU, the Absorbascommandos, to compose today's Things That Made Me Happy in the comments to this post. You know the drill; you know exactly the style of teasers that I give. You tease ME by telling me the things that made me happy in this week's comics... even if I haven't seen them yet!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Can Still Feel Their Corruscating Auras of Powers...!

Miami may not have any real comic book characters, but it's not without real live comic book characters.

In fact, they made rather a splash here last December, thanks to The Superheroes Project, which, as far as I can tell, exists to do crazy PR stunts to raise awareness of particular artists and comics in general. Bully for them!

This hotel is around the corner from mine. I guess it's a *snort* Marvel establishment.

It's not every day you see someone dresser as Dazzler. More's the pity.

The Project Superhero folks really seem to get into it (or seemed to -- I don't get a sense of any activity since they hit Miami one year ago).

Should things like this go on MORE or LESS? When does fashionable pop-culture fun become tragically public cos-play, or vice versa? And, I am very very sad I wasn't here last year at this exact time, or very very sad?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Magnus is Better than My Old Boyfriend(s)

Because Magnus isn't threatened by the occasional use of props, toys, and scenarios.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Okay, so I'm sitting here on the veranda overlooking Collins St., having just gotten back from a many-hour dinner with a group of male high fashion models. Yes, really.

No, I'm not from Italy, but those trunks do make me look good...!

But, such is my dedication (or my inability to fit male high fashion models in a doggie bag) that I'm posting here anyway... .

Now that I'm back in Miami again, I'm suddenly wondering....

Has any comic book even been set in Miami? I mean, not a series, but even just a story? I'd think I'd remember it, if I'd read such a story...

It's not a big issue. As I've mentioned repeatedly, I'm a big fan of fictionopolises, and that's where most of the real action takes place in (DC) comics. Oh, occasionally, Montevideo will get blown up, Manhattan will be attacked by a fleet of acid-laden zeppelins, or Paris will get eaten by a painting. But the Gotham City warehouse district sees more crime in one week than Shenzhen sees in a year.

On the other hand...

when I think of all the real-world places that have been featured in DC Comics, Miami's absence starts to irk. Washington (of course), Pittsburgh (of all places!), San (Sub) Diego, El Paso, Detroit (tee hee!), Kansas freakin' City...! And yet, it's as if Miami doesn't exist. Maybe in the DCU it doesn't, and Fawcett City is here instead; it would explain the architecture.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

  • I really like that Kandor has trees and rivers. Like cities do.
  • "I'm not a face to wake up to." Indeed.
  • See? No matter what Team Ability symbol they put on his Heroclix dial, I have always considered that character an enemy and not an ally.
  • Code name: Beagle. Nice one.
  • Why Star Boy left the Legion. That, folks, is continuity.
  • Linda Lang.
  • YOU are not the boss of Battle Beast!
  • Running to the Spectre? AGAIN? Okay, it's definitely time for you to go back to the Kids' Table.
  • "I'm a god, not a saint."
  • Vibe. Love that new outfit, dear!
  • Honor and loyalty shine bright in this weary world.
  • Oh, how I was looking forward to the undoubted laughfest of the Phantom Stranger + Green Lantern. And, OH, how wrong I was...
  • An elegant, hand-waiving explanation of the previous badly botched versions of Supergirl; yeah, I'll buy that.
  • Yes, they are the size of the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Oh, of course they had Captain Atom talk to him.
  • Allen and Nolan's one-two punch.
  • Now that is an origin for Supergirl.
  • Donna Troy, librarian.
  • "He believes I send the dreams" is one of the most coldly badass things you will ever hear a character say.
  • Oh, yeah, something is definitely afoot for retooling the Batfamily titles. And with Batwoman; yay!
  • Anthony's passing.
  • You know the scope of the action is pretty broad when the collateral damage of the battle is... Europe.
  • Wow. The food in the 31st Century must be just horrible.
  • Yes, "cat" should always be in quotation marks.
  • Shouldn't all girlfriends be able to vanish your clothes just by touching them?
  • The Planet's new business editor.
  • "I'm young, I'm rich, I'm adored."
  • What the HECK is Starman up to?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Magnus is Better than Joon Rhee

Because Magnus can karate-chop a steel board while wearing nothing but a pink pillowcase.

And make it look

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Doomsday The Movie

Today I watched the Superman/Doomsday animated film for the first time. I hadn't watched it before because, well, frankly I didn't like the Death of Superman story and really disliked Doomsday himself.

So I was very pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed that film, in that it improved vastly on the original story.

As in the original story, Doomsday himself isn't significant at all; he's the thinnest of plot devices to get to 'the Death of Superman'. In the animated version, the first is mercifully brief; we don't have to watch Doomsday swat his way through a host of other heroes. I could always believe that Doomsday killed Superman before anyone else had time to help; I could never swallow that the entire of the superhero community couldn't have simply and quickly transported him to deep space somewhere, or captured him with the JLA transporter or something.

The contrast between Lex and Superman has never been starker. Lex curing muscular distrophy while staring out the window, while Superman, unable to cure cancer, regrets his role as merely Earth's resident strongman. And Lex, with his Mercy-killing? Plus "Why did you leave me?" and "Who's your daddy?" Yes, this Lex has issues.

I liked the simplification of the plot of what happens when Superman is "dead". Instead of just weepy encomiums, we get to see, through the actual degeneration of certain characters (Lois's death wish, Jimmy's sell-out, Perry's drinking) and Metropolis as a whole, that Superman's chief contribution is as an inspiration rather than a protector. Rather than the Reign of the Four Substitute Superman, we got just one sub who embodies the "No, that's not what Superman stands for" concept. And creepy! As shocking as the Toyman scene was, the scene with the cat was bone-chilling, particular since you know that, well, he's right.

Don't get me wrong; Superboy and Steel were great characters, and, while the Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator weren't great, they did provide fodder for many subsequent stories. But the "superclone" was a much way to get to the heart of the "What Would Superman Do?" issue.

I appreciated the little touches around the Fortress: Brainiac's skull, one of the robots from the Fleischer cartoons, and the Bottle City. And, YES, I laughed at the gratuitous Kevin Smith joke for the Superman insiders...!

The plot also fixed some glaring holes in the original, such as making it clear that Superman was never actually dead, and providing a plausible reason why Clark Kent's absence after Superman's death didn't reveal his secret identity.

In fact, the whole viewing experience made me think that perhaps we should let them make these movies first, and then pattern comic books after them!

What did you think of Superman: Doomsday?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Miami Bound

I'll be in Miami from Nov 21 - Nov 29. Naturally, I'll be in South Beach...

If you're in the area, give me and shout and we can meet up for mojitos!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.
  • The most cold-hearted Catwoman ever.
  • Luthor in prison duds. As he should be.
  • The penny plundering.
  • GOSH, that was a fast trip to the moon, LOL.
  • I like this Norman McKay much better.
  • Okay, Judd made several big wins with me this week. He's given Connor a skill set that makes him a good complement to Ollie, rather than a redundant, failed replacement. He's treated memory loss like the complicate thing it is, rather than just a comic book trope. He dealt with some of the inconsistency of Connor's previous characterization. AND, I might add, what he's done has left open the possibility of Connor's sexuality... again.
  • Rexy. Gods, I love comics.
  • Superman has some in-law problems, apparently.
  • Two-Face is a Star Trek fan.
  • Where Frank hid the drug.
  • Apparently, Clark Kent, despite being a writer for decades, manages to confuse the accusative with the vocative, which I sure none of his readers will.
  • Wait, did he really just shoot Lex?
  • 20 zeppelins; GODS, how I love that character!
  • The artificial whale. Good memory, Dini.
  • Notice he said "lease"; he doesn't still them.
  • That's the second-best Joker-kills-someone-by-peanut-allergy I've ever read!
  • The Punisher's garbage can.
  • Huh. Batman's broken and rotting corpse... . But Power Girl STILL manages to look good!
  • The fact that in their argument the Zamarons and the Guardians are both right.
  • Dr. Elliott finally earns his name. And his bandages.
  • A thank you from Two-Face.
  • The real-worldish ramifications of the exposure of Vesetech, particularly the montage of those effects; pure genius. That's good comics, folks.
  • Karate Alfred!
  • Street-fightin' Starro!
  • I love Flamebird & Nightwing, instantly.
  • Defeated by a Whirli-bat? ROTFL!
  • Pennies from heaven.
  • Jeez, even a crushed skull won't shut Lo-lo up!
  • Selina's oh-so-sweet revenge.
  • Trinity just gets crazier and crazier!
  • Was the meta-ending of Legion in the 31s Century as, well, creepy to you as it was to me?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The United Underworld Strikes!

by Scipio Garling
Gotham City, The Gotham Times
(Multiversal Press Association)

The United Underworld has pulled off the seemingly impossible with an across-the-board attack on the line of Batman titles, leaving three dead and two wounded.

Dan Didio, Grant Morrison, Fabian
Nicienza, and Peter Tomasi (see photo at left), have cancelled the Nightwing series, the Robin series, and the Birds of Prey series, all staples of the Batman editorial line. Each of these titles stars one of Batman historically principal in-family allies, Dick "Nightwing" Grayson, Tim "Robin" Drake, and Barbara "Batgirl/Oracle" Gordon.

Meanwhile, in another part of Gotham City, the incomprehensibly puzzling writing of Grant Morrison (see photo at right) has incapacitated the two main Batman titles, Batman and Detective Comics, possible killing their star, and leaving even long-time readers riddled with doubt.

Also crippled by the attack were Batfamily members Spoiler and the Huntress, hard-luck cult favorite Manhunter, women's issues pioneer Zinda Blake, and a host of supporting characters and secondary villains.

Reaction to the attack has been mixed.

"Zis obzezhion vit ze Batman is unhealt'y," opined local psychologist H. Strange (see photo at left). "It is a vise move to cripple ze Batman lines at zis time, particularly as his rezent zinematic zuzesses have led to an overzealous popularity vit zis character among ze masses." Strange posited that the changes may, in fact, be good for the Batman family in the longer run. "Vhatever does not kill, it makes stronger. New birt' comes vit pain. Pain unt zuffering vill make ze Batman strong, even stronger. Pain like ze lashing of ze vhip! Suffering like zat of the characters and readers of All-Star Batman und Robin!"

Another interviewee, who wished to remain anonymous and identified himself only as "a Stranger" to Gotham (see photo at right), voiced the concerns of many. "For years, the Batman and his allies have used darkness as a weapon; but now a greater darkness has descended upon them and upon us all! Seek solace in friends and band together against the lowering storm. I cannot join you, for I must remain.... a stranger. Otherwise, my sexual orientation would become too public."

The Gotham Times wants to know YOUR opinion. Please contact our Letters to the Editor Column below.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Magnus is Better than the Guys at Remington's

Because Magnus manages to catch the last Metro home even while wearing his cowboy boots.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Heroic Goad

I don't think I've written about Heroes before, but it's time to break that silence, now that Jeph Loeb has been fired.

In the article linked, the writer is concerned that the absence of Loeb will sever the "comic book connection", and that the show will spiral (further!) into Petrelli Family Melodrama rather than Superheroic Intrigue and Buttkicking.

I watched the first season of Heroes; I enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun miniseries. One problem, though; it wasn't a miniseries. I was stunned when I heard "Heroes Season Two"; hmm, I thought they were going to quit while they were ahead.

But that's not the Hollywood way (SAW VI!), and so we have had Season 2 and 3. And while it's more or less retained its "comic book touch", I'm afraid it's doing so through many of the worst cliches that characterize comics (and soap operas). Here's just a few:

  • Not just "separated at birth", not even "identical twins separated at birth", but "superpowered identical triplets separated at birth". I mean, really. It's particularly cruel to give the role to an actress who didn't have the chops to handle her role as a dual personality. "I'm not Nikki!" Um, yeah, sweetie; ya are, because your accent and speech patterns are identical.
  • Arbitrary (self-imposed!) power restrictions on the overly powerful (Hiro will go back in time just to screw around in his office, but not to save the world?).
  • "Luke, I am your father / future husband / brother" (honestly, I've not the strength to list all the suddenly uncovered and unlikely relationships, past and future, that the show spits out with the regularity of sourballs from a penny candy machine).
  • Really obvious thievery from other media. Even Judd Winick couldn't have made "Dr. Suresh as Brundle-Fly" more obvious.
  • Color coding. Ooh, Claire's a bad guy now so her hair got dark!
  • Contradictory powers (Hiro's power was hard enough to believe without having a superspeedster to point out that it was nonsensical).
  • "Legacy" heroes as obvious devices. "We need a painting seer. Uh-oh, we killed that guy. Let's pull another one out of our butts. But we need another trick to make him passive; can't make him a drug addict; let's just make him African instead."

The recent "morality polarity reversals" are painfully strained. Let's make Peter a villain and Sylar a hero! It's easier to believe a Senator can fly... . It's become asuperpowered Degrassi, with characterization changing randomly from episode to episode based on the needs of the plot. "We need Spinner to be a jerk this week, and refuse to share his healing powers with Jimmy."

Then there's the typical Loebian "villain of the month" syndrome. Season 1, Sylar is the be all end all villain. Season 2, he's powerless and there's a new mysterious Big Bad, whose power is the ever-threatening 'not-dying' power, wielded so effectively by Willard Scott and Charles Lane. Ever notice how directors invariably choose some who ages really badly really quickly to play an immortal? Season 3, Sylar's a hero (for no compelling reason other than "Are You My Mommy?" syndrome), and the Immortal Big Bad gets offed casually just to show how much Bigger and Badder the new villain is. In three seasons, Loeb & Co. have managed to push the franchise to same levels of narrative desperation that most comic books tooks 50 to 60 years to reach.

I'm not sure that Loeb's leaving will redeem Heroes; I'm thinking it's too late for that. But perhaps the comic book cliches will be less obvious now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Vixen Effect

Sorry to rain on anyone's parade, and I'm sure this is going to anger a lot of readers, and I'm going to be misunderstood. But here goes....

Barack Obama's not the country's first black president; Barak Obama's not black.

First, let me affirm, and strongly: I supported Obama during the primaries; I voted for him in the general election. I was, am, and, hopefully will every reason to continue to be, a strong supporter.

His election is not just a victory for an individual or a party, but for American democracy and spirit, which it has revivified. And I couldn't be happier about it.


I am not delighted by the constant characterization of Obama as the first Black president. YES, he certainly "looks black". Yes, because of that he's certainly had the experience of growing as a perceived black person in the last 40+ years. And, yes, that is very significant. It's of great signficance and a great sign of hope for the future that the American people would elect such a man as its leader.

But, for one thing, he's biracial. That, to me, is more symbolically significant, since he personifies (or could) a post-racial way of viewing the world, one that is the only real hope for social unity in our nation. That's something that gets swept aside when he's characterized simply as "our first black president".

That characterization also brushes under the rug the fact that father was not a Black American; he was a man from Kenya, where being black doesn't make you a minority. Lumping together Africans or African-American immgrants minimizes the uniqueness of the experience Black Americans. Their ancestors did not come here voluntarily; they were deracinated from their native cultures, and, as a result, resiliently created a new one. American culture owes very little of its uniqueness to African-American immigrants; it owes an ENORMOUS amount to Black Americans.

Black Americans aren't "Black" simply because they happen to be of a particular race, but because of their unique cultural experience as an American minority, one that's not all similar to the experience of modern Africans.

It may make us feel better and oh-so-modern and color blind to vote for someone who "looks Black", even though he is actually the half-black son of a Kenyan, rather than a product of our native Black American culture. I'm very happy Obama was elected; but when I hear people saying that he was elected because he was black, I cannot help but think, "Or because he is indeed, very very 'white' ..."

It's "the Vixen Effect". Yes, let's create "DC's first black female superhero"; yay! But GOD forbid she should be an actual black American woman. Heavens, no; she has to be an African supermodel.

I wish creators -- and political pundits-- would stop conflating race with culture; it's part of the very "racial mindset" that's helped perpetuate bigotry and racial stereotyping.

Thanks to that conflation -- and Vixen -- almost no one can name the character who actually WAS the DCU's first black American female superhero. It's my hope that the election of Barak Obama will help stop people from lumping race with culture, rather than reinforce it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Losing Battle?

Though I don't think I've ever mentioned it before, I have great admiration and attraction to the military and military service. Had the world been different than it was (or I more foolish), I would have joined up myself, as did my sister.

Many of my close friends, too, are or have been military. While the election talk in most circles (rightly so) is about the economy, for many of my friends the topic gravitates toward what the election may mean for redefining what is considered appropriate use of the military.

Sgt. Rock & Matthew McConnaughy: because YOU demanded it!

Given that, it pains me to see the military -- which performs so impressively in battle -- do so poorly on the spinner racks. At Big Monkey, we easily sold out of the Obama/McCain comics; this is not just a political town, but THE political town. But, comic books starring or featuring the military? Even when we get small numbers, they still languish on the racks like the Austrian Navy.

Guerillas. The War That Time Forgot. The Unknown Soldier. The Haunted Tank. War Heroes (even with male genitalia!). Even Iron Man, Director of Shield. They don't even sell as well as Moon Knight, for pity's sake. Why is that?

Part of the reason could be the post-Vietnam unpopularity of the military. Once upon a time, the military were almost always the heroes in popular literature. But in our lifetime, it has been fashionable to "blame the gun"; since wars can't be waged without the military, we blame the military for wars (and even the personnel themselves). Even worse, the military are often the Black Hats. Now, in comics, anyone should be fair game; politicians, teachers, military, police, beauticians-- any authority figure can be the Corrupt Person in Power (tm). But the Evil/Callous/Lunatic U.S. military officer has gone from trope to cliche, and when an officer shows up in popular literature, most viewers/readers immediately look for the other shoe to drop, where they find out not whether he's an asshole/threat, but simply in what way he's an asshole/threat.

Perhaps it's because military comics suffer from unfabulousness (as, certainly, some of my military friends do). When you've alien beings hurling autos at one another and spandex-garbed anatomy models doing triple-backflips, watching grunts try to take a hill can feel like watching a plumber fix a toilet: necessary, but without any engaging glamour.

On the other hand, the problem could be the opposite. Just look at the list of military comics listed above. Trained, armed apes; soldiers versus dinosaurs; masters of disguise; haunted tanks; superpowered non-civilians; flying aircraft carriers. Perhaps the problem isn't that military comics aren't fantastic enough; perhaps it's that they're too fantastic. I love chocolate ice cream; I love lima beans; but even I would not expect lima beans & chocolate ice to be a good combo.

Or is the problem more subtle and fannish? Is it that any story outside of Mainstream Continuity will languish, and that putting a military story into the DCU/616 worlds automatically makes is a superhero story?

What's YOUR theory about the current state of military comics?

Monday, November 03, 2008