Saturday, September 05, 2009

Look out, Mister Armstrong...!

Really, I can't imagine this panel being in anything other than a Starman story.

Anyway, I need to let you all know that the Absorbascon is now on hiatus. I've enjoyed it and I hope you all have, too.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Starman Saves Shakespeare

No, really; Starman saved Shakespeare from being kidnapped. Starman doesn't go in for abstracts or metaphors.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Starman's Face-Off

The Golden Age Starman didn't mess around, boy.

Here he is telling a suspect to confess or
he'll use the gravity rod...

Really; you did not want to mess with Starman.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

8 Ways Starman Will Beat the Crap Out of You

Do you think Starman is dependent on the gravity rod?
"I-- I swear, Doris: this has never happened to me before!"

That he would be helpless without it?
You know, if this were anyone else, I'd say that sounded almost like... panic. But it can't be panic, because that's Starman. So it must be... DRAMA!

Think again.

We're talking about the Golden Age Starman, the hero who once defended himself against a bear by hitting it with a tiger. Starman doesn't need the gravity rod to beat the crap out of you. He'll do it with whatever objects happen to be lying around. And the more embarrassing they are the better (like Aquaman, Starman knows that it is not enough to merely defeat criminals; you must publically humiliate them).

The mundane!
"You cowardly rats have no understanding of conversational grouping!"

The desperately punful!

The usual weapon in unusual ways!
I can't recall ever seeing a hero bounce a gun off someone's face before.
It's delightfully disrespectful.

The bizarre!Where's Hal Jordan's head when you need it?

The sonorous!
Do you have any idea what one of those costs? You can tell Ted's really rich.

The childish!Whenever anyone at Joliet asked Charlie how Starman defeated him,
he'd lie and say he was hit with a tiger.

The artistic!Ted-- don't quit your day job.

The ironic!
Starman uses a magnifying glass to burn some young O'Dares,
like the ants they are.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Heroclix of Earth; rise.

Heroclix is back from the dead!

For those of you who can't access that article, Heroclix, the superhero-comic-themed tabletop strategy game I've written about on occasion, seemed to have died when its company, Wizkids, was closed by its parent company, Topps. But the involvement of another company, NECA, has brought Heroclix back to life, with a Marvel set coming out this fall (Hammer of Thor) and a DC set in the Spring (Brave & The Bold).

To celebrate, I offer you this map of an abandoned churchyard and graveyard as a venue for a Black Lantern themed game.

Candidates for a Black Lantern team include figures that represent characters whom we've seen, or know we will see, resurrected as Black Lanterns (e.g., Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, Amon Sur, Golden Age Superman, Hawk, the original Firestorm, the Spectre, Deadman). Candidates for a team to oppose them include those whom we have seeing fighting the BLs (e.g., Superman, Superboy, Flash, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Star Sapphire, Sinestro, the living Titans, Deadman, Phantom Stranger, Hawkman, Hawkgirl). Don't put the same ch character on each team, LOL!

Also: the Black Lantern team MUST have Black Hand on it. Any of his teammates whom he can see may automatically heal one click as a free action of the beginning of their turn. And if his team KOs a figure, he can 'bring it back from the dead' as a power action and put it on his team. Resurrected figures reappear wherever they fell, and start on their last click. Because the odds are obviously in the Black Lanterns favor, all the opposing team has to do is KO Black Hand, and flee off the edge of the board. If they can.

It's not likely there will be Black Lantern heroclix made any time soon, so if you want some, you might look for a customer clix maker to create them for you...!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pep 32; Don't Fun With Me, Boys!

"We must find Dusty, Hangman! I've searched all his regular haunts -- the Candy Store, the Malt Shoppe, the Daisy BB gun Emporium -- to no avail! Let's take a look in this Escherian Quonset hut.

"Washington's wig! It's a Nazi tank factory--here, on Florida Avenue! And over there, captive, and forced to wear one of those Stanley Marcus's skin-tight, Rosie the Riveter style outfits suggested by the War Production Board's regulation L-85, just like I read about in McCall's-- it's Joan Crawford! The fiends!

"She's being held in one of those new-fangled necklace fitters. And good gravy--! They've capture Kilroy!!!

"Okay, Hangman, here's the plan: we move to--


"Dang it, Hangman, where are--? Ah, jeez, he's dropping from the catwalk. Alright, then, we'll just wing it. Lord, how I miss Dusty!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clip Week 4: The Silver Age

I am out of reach this week for very pleasant reasons. Rather than time-release posts without being to attend to the commentary thereupon, I'm offering a retrospective on some of our favorite topics here. [I've noticed that the labels function on Blogger doesn't always pull everything, which is why I'm not just using that to do so.]

The Silver Age

Krypto's Silver Age
Lois's Mittens
Kryptonite Monkey
Feeding the Ostrich
The Unkillables
In a Single Panel
10 Things Batman Should Never Say
The Name of Fear

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • Xanshi as the anti-Mogo.
  • Happy Magic Fun Swordgirl.
  • Tiger Moth. Really? Tiger Moth. That's... amazing. Big points to the few of you who know who she is, without looking it up.
  • Ouch. When RPG doesn't mean 'role playing game'.
  • Hm. Musical notation is clearly very different on New Earth than it is here.
  • The Shield's origin was very efficient!
  • Fate's bluff.
  • "This would be a good time to start climbing down the mountain."
  • Sigh. Metropolis is so beautiful from above.
  • I'm thirsty for some Atlantean mold samples.
  • What happens to the grandfather clock.
  • Carol Ferris, a pilot herself, resists autopilot. You go, Carol.
  • Ah ha. The source of the 'Speed Force'. Clever. As usual!
  • Have you ever noticed that heroes always, but always, fly past national landmarks? Is that, you know, in the flight plan?
  • Okay. Monster Men like Batwoman. That was... unexpected.
  • Thank you, J. Torres, for fleshing out the Great Ten, yet another of Grant Morrison's throwaway ideas.
  • A free Mister Colon Cleanser!!!!
  • "A boring lab rat was romanticized into the most selfless hero of his time."
  • I want to re-position Jimmy Olsen's bookcase so badly, I can just taste it.
  • LOL, the return of D-Bomb!
  • Mattoon? As in the Mad Gasser of Mattoon? That's... really odd.
  • So, who is that man suntanning on a mound of skulls?
  • The Periodic Table of Deathtraps.
  • I like Tom Tresser more and more.
  • Um... well, whatever "Prof. Pyg" was, I won't miss him. Just another excuse for Morrison to write free-association dadaesque dialog, I'll wager.
  • Sinestro's humiliating construct. That's just mean, even for Sinestro.
  • Kate's outfit at the ball.
  • Well, you can't blame Mammoth for that, now, can you?
  • OOOooooo, Wildcat versus Magog, battle of the tongues.
  • Why Max skipped through time. Oh, Geoff, you can make anything make sense in this crazy mixed-up world of ours! And you're dreamy.
  • The Web working on behalf of the Shield. And, ah ha... the Inferno connection. And Dr. Dickering. Why, it's all one big Red Circle, isn't it?
  • Wait, are we going to see Aquaman versus a dinosaur?
  • "Did you just say... humble?" Batman really is a funny guy. Learned it from Alfred, I think.
  • You know, being drugged and locked in the trunk of sinking car is just the sort of thing that does happen to the Question.
  • Jimmy shows up. Slightly late.
  • The charming understatement that Hal & Carol aren't "like Barry & Iris or Lois & Clark."
  • Maggie's outfit at the ball. I laughed out loud.
  • If Doctor Domino is not behind all of this, I will be sorely disappointed. As usual.
  • "Greetings, fearful leader." I tell ya, these Black Lanterns have a wicked sense of humor!
  • I like that Batwoman calls her father 'sir'.
  • Good for you, Eddie Bloomberg.
  • Even he calls him "Mr. Garrick".
  • Krypto versus Hootie.
  • Okay, I give up; I have no idea what H.S. stands for.
  • Now, that is classic crazy comic booky Silver Age science; thanks, Geoff!
  • I fully expect indie bands named 'Blume of Bobba' and "Glomulus of Poppo' within a year or two.
  • Bette is her cousin? Oh, it's all so perfect.
  • Of course that's what the Calculator wants Kid Eternity for. How stupid of me.
  • Thanks, James, for remembering Odd Man and where he lives.
  • Let's all try to remember that Dr. Fate does have an M.D., you know.
  • Agent Orange finally discovers something he doesn't want.
  • Jimmy uses his watch. Slightly late.
  • Prof. Thawne untangles some knots.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Clip Week 3; Vibe and his amazing friends

I am out of reach this week for very pleasant reasons. Rather than time-release posts without being to attend to the commentary thereupon, I'm offering a retrospective on some of our favorite topics here. [I've noticed that the labels function on Blogger doesn't always pull everything, which is why I'm not just using that to do so.]

Today's Topic: Why, nothing less than...

Vibe and his sidekicks, the Justice League Detroit.

One Hero Vibrating
Vibe in Crisis
Lessons from Vibe
Scipio's Dream Team
Paco versus Ralph
The JLD's meta-origins
The Real World: Detroit
Vibe versus Batman
Vibe lives
Could Vibe dance?
JLD: Sure bet
Vibe me!
Ominous Black Sun
JLD versus surrealism
JLD and the First Amendment
What killed Dale Gunn
Vibe needs YOU!
Vibe! The Musical
Even Vibe
DC Comics Presents #68
Vanilla Wafers

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Clip Week 1

I am out of reach this week for very pleasant reasons. Rather than time-release posts without being to attend to the commentary thereupon, I'm offering a retrospective on some of our favorite topics here. [I've noticed that the labels function on Blogger doesn't always pull everything, which is why I'm not just using that to do so.]

Today's topic is one of our specialties and a bone of contention for many:
The Difference Between DC and Marvel.

The Difference between DC and Marvel, I
The Difference between DC and Marvel, II
Why Gorillas are in Comic Books
Marvel Musings
A Serious Difference between DC and Marvel
The Legion
Thus Stalks the Dazzler
Why Vibe is Nothing Like Dazzler
This Diva, This Monster!
The Absorbascon reads Spider-Man, Again
There's a Skrull in My Sub
Ivory Soap
All that No Longer Glitters
Anti-populist Rant
Marvel gets it and DC doesn't
Cerealized Fiction

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cerealized Fiction

As everyone of my age cohort knows, there is an absolute dividing line that splits us. Unlike divisions over religion, politics, and philosophy, it permits no synthesis, brooks no compromise, and suffers no neutrals. Since the need to maintain a unified polity and veneer of civility are essential to the continuance of our society, we lives our lives in a conspiracy of silence, never speaking of it openly to one another, lest the Western be riven in twain, brother again brother. "Never again," our elders made use swear; "never again," we repeat silently to ourselves and we look at children happily playing with others.

But we all know the truth. We are all, still and forever, on one side or the other:

Quisp or Quake.

For those of you too young to have experienced it, the Quisp/Quake conflict was the defining advertising event of my entire micro-generation. Quisp and Quake were two popular breakfast cereals for kids, similar to Capt'n Crunch, produced by the same company. But no one ate both. you either ate Quisp (named after its strange space creature mascot) or you ate Quake (named after a burly earthling miner).

That's because the commercials, masterfully produced by Jay Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, with Quisp and Quake voiced respectively by his buddies Daws Butler and William Conrad, depicted the two as archrivals. Quisp and Quake hated each other.

Note the use of the voice cast from Dudley Doo-Right, another Jay Ward property.

They appeared in joint commercials and even when they had solo commercials, the rival would often intrude himself, just for spite.

Brilliant as this hook was, it gets better: except for shape, Quisp and Quaker were... the same cereal. Same formula.

Now there are some cynics who say that Quake was never supposed to be a real cereal, that Quake was just a gimmick to drum up sales for the real deal, Quisp. Yeah, then why did Quake get a makeover from being a miner to a cowboy, huh? How do you explain the Orange Horror, huh? Nutcases; these are the same people who think there wasn't a moon landing.

The companies genius didn't end at producing one cereal as if it were two, then marketing them against each other, brilliant though that was. Once the rivalry was solidly established, war was declared. There would be an election among cereal-eaters, and the loser's cereal would be discontinued. The election ran for two years. Naturally, the loser was Quake. Because Quake SUCKED, and Quisp RULED!!!!! Ahem. Although I believe we put it differently in those days.

Quisp and Quake are the dichotomy that symbolizes all other dichotomies. Sky and earth. Speed and strength. Alien and native. Brains and brawn. Gay and straight. The future and the past. Humor and seriousness. Consistency and variability.

The world of comics has its own dichotomy: the "Big Two", as they are called. There are some who'll tell you that there is no difference between them, that the same formula is used to make both. But, they are wrong, because, as we know from Quisp and Quake, tone and form and style are what count; they are remembered, when content is forgotten.

I remember in the 1990s when Marvel was teetering toward bankruptcy. I remember exulting. "Quake" was finally going to lose. The cheery '90s would be no place for Marvel's dark cynicism!

But eventually, I reversed my thinking. Would DC start changing its tone or adding Marvel-ish characters to pick up wandering ex-zombies? Would DC's existing Marvel-style characters start to crowd out its native sons and daughters like Wolverinish weeds? Even worse, would DC buy Marvel's characters and incorporate them into the DCU, like so much trailer-trash left homeless by a financial twister, bringing with them their tawdry domestic disturbances, their raucus in-fighting, their soap operas, their gun-toting yahoos, their cigar-chomping, g-droppin', dullards, and their screeching drag-queen-faced dime-store divas and teenaged tarts? Shudder!

I realized that to keep that from happening DC needed Marvel; I needed Marvel as a gathering place for ... those kinds of characters. Fortunately, Marvel did not go bankrupt because they gave themselves over to crass commercialism; I mean, more crass. As in Hollywood.

Funny thing. Quisp and Quake feuded from 1965-1972. But after the election, Quisp's popularity steadily declined until it was removed from regular grocery shelves in the late '70s. Nowadays, they still make it, but it's available only on the internet as a nostalgia item; it doesn't really live as a current brand, and no children have ever heard of it. Turns out that maybe Quisp needed Quake more than he realized.

Long live Marvel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • For those of you who can't read it: "He's also late. I'll get to the Star before you. I survived the mountain of fire. I am the true Element Man. I am the only one. "
  • The Monarch Playing Card Company? I didn't see that one coming.
  • Of course they landed on Dinosaur Island.
  • I really like that Lois hasn't magically forgotten or forgiven who killed her sister.
  • Bizarro Wonder Woman's mission.
  • Finally, the Krypton/Daxam connection is explained.
  • Heh. I really like the new Batgirl. It's kind of like Harley Quin as a good guy.
  • Bizarro Flash's symbol.
  • That the Black Lantern "difficulties" affect the Outsiders powerfully and are addressed, but not directly and not by name.
  • I really want to see an Actioneer comic now.
  • Bizarro Amazo. Brilliant.
  • Gods help me, I like the new Terra. What's her deal, anyway? Is she not a human?
  • I just love Cat Grant's new hairdo.
  • Owlman's ears.
  • I'm not sure why but... I'm actually liking the currently JLA. Which makes no sense at all.
  • The batawrong.
  • Heh. Rainbow Superman. Nice touch.
  • The Web taking inspiration from his father's dying message in a ... non-standard way.
  • I can't of many villains beside Mr. Freeze who would attempt brain surgery on themselves.
  • The Penguin always survives.
  • PHIL480 is a requirement? A 400 level class... a requirement? For what, buddhahood?
  • "Busty airbone lass"; best codename ever!
  • Glad to see someone remembers what happened to the Spook.
  • The dog survives. The dog always survives a horror movie.
  • I really like the new Bruce Wayne. He's very useful. Why doesn't he just become part of the team?
  • Finally, he puts some CLOTHES ON. Gotham's not that warm year round.
  • Smallville still has drive-ins? Er, had?
  • I love the connectedness of all the Red Circle heroes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Eyes of Hal Jordan: The Musical!

I don't care what the weather man says,

When the weatherman says it's raining,

You'll never hear me complaining,
I'm certain the sun will shine,
I don't care how the weather vane points,
When the weather vane points to gloomy,
It's gotta be sunny to me, when your eyes look into mine;


Jeepers Creepers!

Where'd ya get those peepers?
Jeepers Creepers!

Where'd ya get those eyes?

Gosh all git up! How'd they get so lit up?

Gosh all git up! How'd they get that size?

Golly gee! When you turn those heaters on,

Woe is me! Got to get my cheaters on,

Jeepers Creepers!

Where'd ya get those peepers?

Oh! Those weepers!

How they hypnotize!
Where'd ya get those eyes?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pep 31: Cooking the Nazi Way!

"Wilkommen, meinen dammen und herren, auf


"Today ve are cooking Madonna-kabob. Many vould broil Madonna-kabob, but ze Nazi vay is to cooking it by STEAMING it. Zis leaves in all ze natural vitamins und preserves ze flavor... provided you do not steam too long, ja?

"Zlowly und shteadily turn over ze Madonna-kabob over your Max Schmeling Home Grill (tm), using a helmeted subhuman captured by ze North African campaigns. For extra zest, pepper it lightly mit bullets und ze strained angvish of an emotionally crushed Americanische military officer. Ach! Zo sweet!

"Zen, you gently remove ze lid from a large und clearly marked Nazi pot of boiling--VAT?! DONNERWETTER! Getten zie out of mein kitchen, you masked lunatics...!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Five: Falls well that ends well

Well, Riggley, the owner of the Badgers has been felled by a poison blow-dart before revealing the identity of the Black Toad. Suddenly, his men (dressed fabulously in traditional villain colors, I note) pop out of nowhere with machine guns and stand therefor.

Jeepers creepers, what the heck is that shield made outta? [That's a rhetorical question. I know what it's made out of. Do not tell me. Geek.]

Fortunately it simply doesn't occur to them to shoot Cap in the leg. Why doesn't anyone in comics ever think of shooting people in the leg?

This being the Golden Age and all, Bucky saves Cap's leg in the most amusing and ironic way possible: hitting the goons in the face with baseballs.

Give that fan a contract!

The Black Toad, defanged of his assistants, makes to get away. And thanks to the patented "ant-cam" that porno videographers insist on using, just when the scene was getting interesting, we get this fantastic shot of the Black Toad's crotch in flight:

Perhaps "Black Beaver" might have been a more appropriate nom du crime.

Well, I might not like ant-cam shots, but Cap seems to, as he roughly pins the Black Toad to the ground beneath him, and orders him to take off his clothes:

HOT! Suddenly, I see the appeal of Captain America. Oh, and speaking of baseballs: nice arms, Cap!

And the Black Toad turns out to be.... SOMEONE WE'VE NEVER HEARD OF!

"And I would have gotten away with it, too, if hadn't been you snoopy kids ... and yer dog!"

Chuck McArthur, the team's manager, was the guy we saw shadowed in the first panel of the story, making insinutations on the safety of the team's star players. This tells us: Riggley was asking for it. He pretty much deserved to die. I mean... would you hire a manager with sharkteeth?

So, as you'd expect the Black Toad gets imprisoned.

Whoa. Or not..

Guess that explains why we haven't seen the Black Toad again..

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Four: Where's the Anthill Mob when you need them?

When last we left "Death Loads the Bases", Captain America had deduced that a thrown baseball, was in fact, a bomb.

The hissing fuse was probably his first clue. So, exactly who do you hire to replace a pitcher's ball with a bomb, without anybody noticing? Abra Kadabra?!

Anyway, Cap explodes the basebomb with his America-vision, or something. Which has (what I found to be) the very amusing effect (for no apparent reason) of causing the Black Toad to run out into and back and forth in the stadium...

...looking for all the world like the Hooded Claw chasing Penelope Pitstop.

Cap and Bucky give chase (to the tune of old timey peye-ano playin'), and eventually corner the Toad in a room. But he hits the light switch, plunging the place into darkness! Then, in a scene familiar to anyone who's ever seen a Scooby Doo episode on television, when the lights come on, they've grabbed...

... NOT the Black Toad. It's Riggley, the owner of the Badgers team. Very unfortunate for Riggley, since he's figured out the Black Toad's identity and rather than announcing it, he announces that he's about to announce it.

As anyone who's ever seen a thriller or mystery movie on TV knows, announcing that you're about to announce who the killer is is the surest to get yourself killed. Sadly, this is 1941, and television hasn't been invented yet, so Riggley has no idea he's dooming himself.

Sure enough, he's blow-gunned down and falls dead faster than Angela Lansbury as Salome Audubon in Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile (1978).

But much more vocally.

The moral of this section? Watch more television, kids.