Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Shield: Destroyed By the Worst Villain of Them All

We've spent lots of time talking about how boss the Shield was, and how keen it is that he's returning.

But I bet you've been wondering how a fantastically cool character like The Shield met his end. Was he killed by a villain, like his colleague, the Hangman? Did the company that published him fold?

Well, both, in a sense. He was "killed" by the worst villain in all of comicdom. And not outright. No, he was slowly poisoned by his treacherous foe, evanescing into limbo. And his publisher did fold... to the pressure toward cheap titillation of teenage hormones.

Yes, the Shield was undone by that most terrifying force in the four-color world, the symbol of solipsism, the scion of sensationalism, the shill of thrill, the sultan of the surreal:

ARCHIE ANDREWSEverything's Archie, you know.

Archie, as long-time readers of my blog will know, is my bete noir, symbol to me of the opiate power of comics used evilly to warp the perspectives of readers, lulling them in a dazed state in which the always unhinged Archieverse opens it jaws of surrealism to swallow up their every sense of hope, meaning, and being, subsuming them in the All That Is Archie.

What red-blooded American can look at these words and fail to weep?

"Dusty is almost heartbroken at having to leave you boys and girls we have come to know and love so much -- and me, well, I don't feel so good myself."

My gods, it's like watching Bambi's mother get shot in an endless video loop!

Even in defeat, the Shield is gracious, calling Archie a golden lining. YES; the gold lining the pockets of the cynical sharpies who sold you out, Shield. Who sold out patriotism for pre-pubescent pandering! Who sold out your war against America's enemies for teenage teases in tit-tightened sweaters, and sweaty-palmed punks who think of nothing but slaking their gross apetites for fresh girls and grilled flesh, stuffing it all down the insatiable maw of ... Archie.

But the Shield's grace cannot hide Archie's omnivorous evil:

"he's made himself famous from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in fact in every corner of the world (!!!!)"

Because... Everything Is Archie. Shudder.

"He's going to take over the Shield G-Man Club and call it the Archie Club. ... Take it away, Archie."

Of course he's just going to ...take it over. And rename it after himself. Everything Must Be Archie. Whatever it is, whatever you want; take it away, Archie. How can people prate on about feckless incompetent amateurs like Darkseid when there's ARCHIE, for pity's sake?!?!?

Through the existential horror, I can barely bare to read Archie's words, for fear they might sap my will like a Riverdalian anti-life equation.

"Think of taking over so many hundreds of thousands."

Yes, you automatically belong to Archie. Turn over the cards that represent your former identity; surrender yourself to Archie. In exchange for your very soul, we will imprint upon you the Mark of Archie, so that all may known that you are of the Body, that you are one with Landru/Archie.

My gods; the little bastard even stole his COSTUME.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Clixy Klordny Gifts!

Look what I got from Totaltoyz for Klordny!

Dr. Thomas Wayne, wearing his Bat-person masquerade costume:

Shoulda worn THAT to the theater, Tom.

As my friend Chris said,

"What's his special power? Getting shot?"

No, wise-acre: healing. He was a doctor, remember? He's on the dial of the old veteran paramedic.

And this eye-popper:

The Golden Age Aquaman
Yellow gloves are the key.

The Golden Age Aquaman is a tour-de-force of subtle symbolic power.

The message in a bottle? Well, that's how surface dwellers communicate with Aquaman. And note the piece of a battleship that Aquaman punched a hole in. Yup, that's the Golden Age Aquaman, alright. He even came with a character card that has Superstrength listed as "punch a hole in a battleship".

His dial is the 70 point Aquaman (jl101).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Battle for the Cowl

Even during Klordny, one cannot dance for a week non-stop (even with the assistance of anti-grav discs). So, those of you who actually read blogs at home (instead of while you are *ahem* "working") I ask to consider the teaser image for Battle for the Cowl.

I have to say, I like teaser images. Sure, they're deceptive and usually much shallower than the analysis we fans lavish on them. Sure, they sometimes look like someone photoshopped them together rather than drew them as an integral image. Sure, they scream "use me as your desktop wallpaper."

But they are so very DC. They are intellectual puzzles, firmly rooted in DC's genre of detective comics. While Marvel trumpets, DC intrigues. Marvel is a monster truck rally commercial and DC a symbolic Renaissance painting.

They reaffirm the DC style of using art to tell a story, not to substitute for one. DC's use of teaser images are a clever adaptation to the new world of internet fandom. It's not the old days where readers had no idea what was coming until it hit the stands. DC's adapted to the fact that nowadays people know for months that something like Battle for the Cowl is coming, and gives us an intellectual chew-toy to keep us engaged while waiting for our literary dinner.

First, the easy part: identifying the Batmen themselves.
  • Tim "Robin" Drake, as indicated by the bo staff, wearing a '70s-ish Batcostume with the New Look chest symbol.
  • Dick "Nightwing" Grayson, as indicated by the chest-bat most resembling the Nightwing symbol.
  • Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, wearing a color-modified version of the Golden Age Batman suit.
  • Bandolier Batman there is the remaining one of the three cops who were tapped to replace Batman if he died (it was in the beginning part of Morrison's run on Batman, and a reference to a Silver Age story); this is guy who, wearing the Suit of Sorrows (*sigh*), will become the new Azrael.
  • Thomas "Hush" Eliott (who, if you've been reading Dini's Detective, you'll know had himself surgically altered to resemble Bruce Wayne), as indicated by the bandage.

Now it starts to get trickier. Our supporting characters are:
  • Harley Quinn. WTF? To me, this is the most unexpected piece of the puzzle. Probably the part they have Dini write.
  • Alfred Pennyworth. In all his "Yeah, sometimes writers say I used to be British secret agent" glory. The hat was a Christmas gift from Mademoiselle Marie.
  • Batwoman. Someone got Kate Kane sensible shoes for Hannukah!
  • Damien Head, Bruce's supposed child by Talia. And, yeah, I say "supposed", because, as I recall, Bruce never answered out loud Tim's question about what the paternity tests showed.
  • A corpse in a box marked Wayne Enterprises. A very small box. A box way too small to hold the corpse of any normal man, let alone Bruce Wayne. A corpse with a suspiciously feminine arm. Madame Van Dusen, LOL?

Already the questions accumulate. Whose is the corpse in the box? What role could Harley Quin have in the story? Does Batwoman's magnifying glass symbolize that she'll try to solve the myster of where the real Batman is? Aren't there an awful lot of guns there for a Batman family photo? Why is Two-Face covering the unscarred part of his face? Did Alfred amputate his lower body and replace it with a Tumbler? Who's overseeing crate quality at Wayne Enterprises, any way?

It only gets stranger when you take the background props into account. The case with Batman costume straigtforwardly represents the absent Bruce Wayne, of course, and the robot dinosaur is, well, it's there because it's in every Batcave establishing shot (even though almost no one else I've met has actually read the "Dinosaur Island" story it comes from). But the Joker card located near Harley Quinn... surely that "J" is reversed for some reason. And the Giant Penny behind Two-Face-- why, it's scarred just like his coin; hmm.

I certainly have some thoughts, but I'd rather hear yours first....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • The BLAM door. Best visual I can remember seeing in quite some time.
  • You know I'm no great fan of Grant Morrison. But Batman was great this week.
  • Pinocchio. That was cruel.
  • Monarch of Duluth? Snort! Nice one.
  • What the lasso is truly capable of.
  • The comfort Ray finds in the Royal Flush Gang, who apparently are a multiversal constant.
  • Looking for Psycho? Oh... that's not good at all.
  • Shame of you, if you didn't recognize the name Elva Barr.
  • Stagg? Oh, no. No, no, no. Say it isn't so....
  • Bruce Lee didn't actually break his back, you know. He dislodged a vertebra.
  • Queen Bee goes down. All the way.
  • "The sun is not our friend. We must embrace the cold darkness that is our fate," made me laugh out loud.
  • If you want somebody to make something that'll kick the JLA's butt, T.O. Morrow is still the man.
  • Zeus in spandex is HOT.
  • "I need to see it every day."
  • The difference in viewpoint of Dr. Polaris, the Floronic Man, and the Cheetah.
  • Seldom has the Phantom Stranger me me laugh as hard as did when failing to finish his little "My poop don't stink" speech...!
  • Hooley in the tank. Always good to see Hooley. Particularly in the tank.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Creationism vs. Re-Creationism

It just goes to show you can never know too much about continuity.

In reading the latest issue of Supergirl (which, under its new writer, Sterling Gates, I'm loving), it struck me that Superwoman's costume seemed... odd.

Not hideous, really. Certainly not what I'd picture for "Superwoman", but still not hideous. Maybe it was the gloves. Or the hood. Something just... didn't seem quite au courant.

Then, courtesy of Google, I stumbled on the reason why...I'd never seen this story from the Bronze Age, where this Kristen Wells became Superwoman. Once I saw this, I realized I'd heard it mentioned, but never seen it-- and therefore, never seen the costume, which is clearly the model for the one worn by the new Superwoman.

The Bronze Age of comics, frankly. was rather crappy... particularly for Superman stories. And the decade of the '90s during the Iron Age was no picnic either. These facts hit me in the face hard this last weekend as I was working on a video project: a digital slideshow of DC heroes in chronological order of creation. After the enormous flurry of creation around 1940, there's an average of one or two good, long-lasting characters who continue (or are continued through a legacy character or conceptual revamp). But there are these... gaps.

The most severe one is also the largest: 1986-2006. Between Booster Gold and the new Blue Beetle is a vast wasteland devoid of new characters (and, of course, Blue Beetle is just a revamp).

Now, that's not to say, nothing happened, or that stories were bad. That may or may not be true, but it's not my point.

In fact, one of the good things that happened was that DC stopped trying to throw new liver at the wall, hoping something would stick, and focused on re-branding, re-vitalizing, and re-vamping many previously created characters. Nothing exemplifies this better than the return of the Justice Society, which in the Iron Age was considered an irredeemable embarrassment to be locked away in an attic like a crazy aunt.

So, in one sense, the fact that there's not a lot of new character creation going on during the last twenty years is to DC's credit. I've repeatedly made the statement that if a DC writer can't tell a new story with all the existing characters at their disposal and has to make one up, then they either don't know enough continuity or lack creativity.

Superwoman makes this point. A few months ago, the idea of including "Superwoman" in such a slideshow would have been absurd; the idea was a one-shot throwaway. But through the reinvention magic of this, the Platinum Age, old abandoned concepts are refurbished and, lo, many characters that actually are new get to take advantage of having roots in a previous era, along with the pedigree that bestows.

What do you think of the balance between character creation and character re-creation, both currently and generally??

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy

in my comics this week.

  • Oh, Tim; that's never gonna heal if you don't stop picking!
  • As funny as a dog wear antlers is, Krypto wear antlers is even funnier.
  • The very last person I'd expect Tim to spend Christmas Eve with.
  • All three Beetles in one story!
  • I'm finally getting the big picture of what's going on in Robin!
  • Editor's notes from Johnny DC.
  • Dan Didio; thanks for the nice Aquaman story! Does that mean he can come back now?
  • Best Huntress story ever. If she were written like that all the time, I'd really like her.
  • Batman, door greeter.
  • Trimming the tree with Wally.
  • Lint brushes
  • Turtle wax.
  • Nuclear fabrophihbulator.
  • "I had it framed."
  • S.T.R.I.P.E. sitting on a couch at the party.
  • The Metal Men's failure to understand Christmas
  • Gold kryptonite, revised.
  • Yes, electrocuting a baby certainly does toughen up a villain's image.
  • Why Nightwing doesn't trust Jason.
  • Release the Kraken!
  • Even the THOUGHT of Vibe trussing someone up is HOT!
  • Well, if you want to create chaos and challenge, who better to do it than the person who started the Gotham Gang Wars single-handedly?
  • Okay, so, essentially that's Ace the Bat-Hound meeting Good King Wenceslaus?
  • Barbara's gift to Jim.
  • So, who sharpened Dr. Light's ears?
  • It took me several minutes to figure out why you'd name something "the Janitorafter School".
  • When he says, "Watch out for your mother", what does he really mean?
  • Superwoman. I really like her.
  • More villains should say, "Rats", when captured.
  • How long before someone names his children "Atmahn", "Kellel", and "Dinanna"?
  • Hey, that Huntress is quite a ventriloquist, huh?
  • "I'm starting to think this is no ordinary blackout." NOTHING gets past Aquaman!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Are YOU a Superman of America?

Today I ran 9 miles, am throwing a Christmas party for 50 people, running a Dramatic Reading contest, then going two-stepping with Ken and company till all hours. Then tomorrow, I'll go to yoga class and jog for 30 minutes before emceeing an outdoor caroling performance at the town square, followed by dinner and game night with the boys.


Because Superman told me to...
What are YOU going to do this weekend?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy

in this week's comics.

  • Wait... a... a scar on Hal Jordan's head? A scar on... Hal Jordan's head? BWAHAHAHAHA!
  • I'm pretty sure I've never actually seen someone die by banana peel before.
  • Okay, I don't pretend to have any idea why Mongul seems to have a detachable while still operable arm; but it is funny.
  • "I didn't even realize I had an arch-enemy."
  • Luthor and Brainiac are still the best team of villains ever; particularly when they aren't really working together.
  • Two-Face was just everywhere this week. And sounding intelligent, like a successful criminal, not like someone who'd have trouble crossing the street. Bully.
  • Have I mentioned how wonderful I think it is that the Book of Oa is written in Interlac?
  • Finally, a psychologist who says, "No; no, don't bother."
  • Two comics with Two-Face and a pizza delivery guy. It's a strange world.
  • Captain Action was about 90 times better than it had any right to be; Fabien Nicienza strikes again. Bully for you, Moonstone. I think I need to start reading more Moonstone.
  • So, who taught Batman how to make his nipples look like his eyes? I'm betting it was the Phantom Stranger.
  • XXX...! XXX...! XXX...!
  • He becomes a folk hero for robbing banks? Diamondrock's right, the Marvel Universe is full of idiots.
  • "Doctor Wing"; heh, nice one.
  • When did the Lone Ranger become a Vertigo book? You deserve to read the Lone Ranger.
  • The Creature Commandos? Ultraa the Multi-Alien? Action is officially insane. In the best possible way.
  • Okay, I don't think they make a Twelve-Step program for that.
  • Nightwing's secret is being rather strongly hinted at, isn't it? Too strongly...?
  • I always thought Valhalla Cemetery was a dumb idea.
  • Booster didn't notice the modern art, but I spotted it right away; did you?
  • The Blank. Spider-Man's rogue's gallery is having quiet a renaissance, isn't it?
  • My gods, I have the hots for naked Brainiac....
  • Do I actually... miss Judd Winick on GA/BC? Who I am, and what have I done with Scipio Garling?
  • "I am the god of progress."
  • NOT the midwife you want helping you. Really.
  • The difference between Brainiac and Luthor, succinctly explained.
  • "You meant bow and arrows, didn't you?" ROTFL!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Batman: Brave & The Bold is better than Batman: The Animated Series. Much better.

Yeah; I said it. You wanna make sumpthin out of it, buddy?

BTAS: brooding and morose, taking itself too seriously. Why, it's nearly a... a Marvel comic!
BB&B: still serious (Batman's still quite the hard-nose), but not taking itself too seriously.

BB&B has better art. I still remember how disappointed I was the first time I saw BTAS. This was before the current info-age, when I would have seen 10,000 spoiler images for 8 months beforehand, so the first time I saw it actually was the first time I saw it. How shocked I was! I was expecting to get, finally a detailed, beautifully drawn animated series that actually looked like a comic book I might already be reading. Instead, I got pointy noises and square jaws that would have embarrassed even Bob Kane.

BB&B is better promo for DC. You may not consider that an appropriate aesthetic considering, but, hey, marketing matters. BB&B is designed to use Batman as a means to introduce viewers to other DC characters. So far, we've already seen in three episodes the likes of Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Aquaman, Fire, the Gentleman Ghost, Green Arrow, Clock King, Black Manta, Felix Faust, and Ocean Master. In BTAS, we saw... Robin and Batgirl. The opening sequence of BB&B actually builds the names of various guest stars into the layout; the opening sequence of BTAS doesn't even contain Batman's name.

BB&B is better characterization. This Batman is still a hard-nose (even harder than the BTAS one), but has a sense of humor. His scene where he mocks Felix Faust is priceless. And Batman's unique personality is shown off in excellent contradistinction against the guest stars. And Dietrich Bader is flawless as Batman, much to my surprise.

BB&B is better action. Each episode begins in medias res, and has little slow time till the end. Plus, no time is wasted on Bruce Wayne; it's all Batman. More happens in one episode then in a year's worth of JLA.

BB&B has better decor. Yep, you heard me. BTAS was clunky, with its overly long Batmobile and colorless Batcave. Every single bat-gadget in BB&B is stylish, with red accents and bat shapeyness. BTAS is a PC and BB&B is a Mac.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why Magnus is Better than Chuck Palahniuk

Because Magnus inspires gay youth to accept themselves and to allow their hairdos to exceed the boundaries of their panel layout.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Born of Meng

Ten Reasons Vibe is Like Jesus:

  1. Born on the wrong side of town.
  2. Sported skeevy facial hair.
  3. Never got married or seen dating a girl.
  4. Had at least one brother who followed in his footsteps, but is forgotten by almost everyone.
  5. Led a gang and got in trouble with the law.
  6. Had powers; occasionally used them for good; mostly used them to show off.
  7. Hung out with losers (Ralph Dibney and Hank Heywood) and whores (Vixen and Zatanna).
  8. Died young, and from asphyxiation. And for your sins, I might add.
  9. Had a storyline where he is resurrected. Several of them, actually.
  10. Has become more popular since he died.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy

in comics this week.

  • "What are you, his emergency secret weapon?"
  • Just keep repeating: "That is not Gaggy. I do not see Gaggy. There is no Gaggy. There never was a Gaggy. Nor will there ever be."
  • Continuity comes to Jonah Hex!
  • "What's money? Is it important?"
  • Good to see the red roadster again!
  • And yet another Lex Luthor robot meets an ignominious end.
  • "Shock and Awesome" is a great title.
  • "Shocker and Awe" is a less great title.
  • Oh, Gog's other shoe drops, and a mighty big shoe it is.
  • I see nothing wrong with spending $5 million on a personalized helicopter.
  • "Invulnerability... failing... bombardment ... hurting!"
  • I honestly think that's the first time I've ever seen Jonah laugh.
  • The Laughing Contest.
  • Best spectral decapitation scene ever!
  • Well, that's solves the long-standing "mystery of the Kingdom Come Flash".
  • "Did I miss the dream sequence?"