Friday, July 31, 2009

Black Hand Week 3: Black Hand's REAL power

Well, this is where we left Black Hand last time, looking straight out from the page and talking to someone named "Reader". What is that all about?

In addition to his awesome power of cliches, Olympic-level note-taking skills, and an 89-cent pen flashlight ("Flashlight? Flashlight! FLASHLIGHT!!!" see at 4:18) with which he sucked up morsels of Green Lantern energy like a leather-tanned old man searching for nickels with a metal detector on the beach, he had one other power. An amazing power. The most rare and unusual in all comics. The power of...


Yes, Black Hand was not only aware of his status as a literary character, he perceived the Fourth Wall and YOU ... AND he read your mind through it. Eat your heart out, Grant Morrison.

"The usual things. You know. Like villainizing in a business suit, in my personal LEGO shop."

Creepier than Alan Moore, weirder than Grant Morrison, able to violate the fourth wall in a single balloon... it's Black Hand.

I'll forgo the obvious "closet joke" below...

Mothers of Coast City: heed the warning signs of corruption. If your child hangs its clothes with the hangers facing the wrong way, kill it immediately. Society will thank you.

Even in defeat, he still had the power to violate the Fourth Wall, and what's even creepier...

He still does.

And the Absorbascon Award for Gayest Comic Book Cover Goes to...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • I always said Todd was well-rounded.
  • Superman is full, of, well, action. And lots of scenes.
  • I'm impressed she took the time to have the razor blade personalized.
  • Wonder Woman is a racist who only talks to white animals. What about Mammals of Color, huh?
  • Crabby King Chimera; has he met Zatara?
  • Zatara's suprising new old assistant.
  • "How do you think I'd look in a trenchcoat?"
  • Alice goes Demosthenes one better!
  • Roulette's opponent at cards.
  • The Mad Mod's makeover!
  • Can't wrap... head ... around ... Dr. Light + Guardian...!
  • Detective is so beautiful, I'd buy it even if I couldn't read English.
  • That's Atlas's boss? Uh-oh.
  • Miss Martian's three-inch heels.
  • "These boots seem completely impractical in a combat situation."
  • All-American Kid.
  • Heh. Steel must have learned that one from the Joker.
  • Wow; finally, a team the JSA doesn't simply overwhelm.
  • Atlas is evil... but really hot.
  • Kids; they always wind up stabbing you in the back.
  • Black Canary's Fun Closet. Yeah, I am so sure that stuff is for "undercover" work. More like "under covers".
  • Aquagirl to the rescue!
  • Tellus and Sodam.
  • I could watch Batwoman kick ass all day.
  • Zatara's big hat.
  • Abe Lincoln gets take-out.
  • I very much enjoy the swoopy thing, too.
  • Wait, did Black Canary just call Wonder Woman a lesbian? Snort.
  • Steel getting punched through not one, but two panel borders.
  • I love the fact that Alice is basically a nut with a gun. I just love Gotham City.
  • The Royal Flush Gang. Really, it doesn't matter what they're doing, because they are the Royal Flush Gang. But they are doing just what they are supposed to.
  • Dog versus Question.
  • Mark Merlin!?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pep 29: Work the Runway!

Now THIS is more like it! Party at the Chinese Communist Party platform!

Oh, wait;this being in World War II, those are probably Japanese, aren't they? Darn. Well, in ten years, they'll be Chinese, and probably drawn the same way; you know what they say, "They're all drawn alike".

Judging from the layout of this melee, I can only assume that our heroes have decided to crash the catwalk at the opening of Rei Kawakubo's spring line.

Finally, the Hangman is doing something remotely useful, like feeling up Captain Swastika. Actually that's not the original Captain S; you can tell because he's not wearing the hideous color scheme from the previous Pep cover. It appears to be a black man with better fashion sense, replacing the original. Very progressive, those Nazis. Or perhaps by this point they were jealous of Jesse Owens... . Or maybe Captain Swastika is just being played by Morgan Freeman (who'll do anything for a buck).

The Shield, meanwhile, is making a highly uncharacteristic stage left entrance from above. Must be Dusty's day off. Explains why the Hangman stole his cape starch.

What th==?! It's the same lady in red from the cover of Pep 25. Who do you think you are, sweetie, Lois Lane? Well, Lo-lo knows better than to wear a red low-cut dress to dangerous places like prison yards and Japanese fashion shows. Might as well paint a bull's-eye on your forehead.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


"Are you planning on bringing back some of the '40s heroes who have died, like Sandman or Starman?" Johns: "Yes."

"Even Vibe is going to come back." Johns said.


Thanks, Ryan!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Black Hand Week 2

Part Two of Black Hand Week, where I show that the creepiest villain around today was originally the biggest goober in comics.

"I hear Death calling my name. I have for as long as I can remember."

Really? Well, Black Hand, then your memory is not as long or as good as mine...! Because I remember that your original obsession wasn't death but...


Oh, you younguns probably don't believe me, eh? Well, you know what they say, seeing is believing.

See? I told you.

You may believe in seeing; but Black Hand believes in the wisdom of cliches.

So, basically, if your grandmother were a supervillain, she'd be Black Hand.

Making a costume out of a body bag is odd. Making a supervillain costume of whatever you have lying around from representing the Mid-Atlantic Leather Convention at the last Gay Pride Parade is even odder. Oh, wait; darn those black and white Showcase Volumes; let me fix that for you:
Anyway, before being revamped by Johns, Black Hand didn't get his "power absorber" from an alien; he invented himself. That's what villain used to do. They used to invent inventions that would have made them millionaires if they had patented them. But villains have no patience for the plodding patent process, so they use these inventions to rob jewelry stores.

So, while the original Black Hand was a goober, he was a brilliantly inventive goober, one who was both forewarned and forearmed.

Uh... what? Did Black Hand just talk to ... me? What the==?! More on that little eccentricity in the next segment of Black Hand Week.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Black Hand Week 1

OOOOooo, Black Hand is SO creepy!

But that's a credit to Geoff Johns and what he does best (the reinvention and revitalization of characters). Since most of you have probably never read a Black Hand story before his recent reappearance, you may not realize what a staggeringly impressive accomplishment this is.

Why? Well, it's one thing to make Hal Jordan cool again. Okay... cool for the first time. Hal was
never cool. Hal was always a moron. But he did have a rockhard Ryan Reynolds body, a hotshot job as a pilot, and a nearly omnipotent power ring that could do or make anything his tiny little mind could come up with. Even young Scipio liked Hal "Rockhead" Jordan. I can remember being a lad and pretending to be Green Lantern in my little green Garanimals suit, pretending the swing set was a rocket ship. My parents put a stop to that after the third trip to Children's Hospital to patch up the head injuries.

But Black Hand...?

Black Hand was a total goober.

His shtick was perfecting the art of crime. He was the Crook Who Couldn't Fail. Why?

Because he wrote down everything he learned in a little notebook.
I bet you think I'm making that up. I'm not... .

One wonders how many mistakes and trips up the river Black Hand had to take before he filled his Criminal Trapper Keeper with enough hard-won info to dodge the bulls. I'm guessing he's at least a ninety-seven time loser.

Hey, Black Hand, newsflash: real supervillains don't use Cliff Notes. Real supervillains commit crimes that spell out their names or form some kind of a pattern on a map of the city. Real supervillains have cars with their faces on them and thematic weaponry. Real supervillains rob trains on the fly using nothing but a paper clip, stolen chopsticks, and some Teaberry gum. You're a squinty-eyed, Gil-Kane-uglified accountant with a terrible barber. You're just a supervillain manque, a poseur, and a total tool.

See? I told you it was a Trapper Keeper.

So, what's with the "penny saved" nonsense? Where did he get that pointless costume?

Why is he going on about his family? And who on Earth-1 is he talking to...?

You'll soon find out, in part 2 of Black Hand Week!

Pep 28: The Very Talky Quiet Revolution

Revolution is not a pretty thing and the cover of Pep 28 is no exception to the rule.

We've already seen hints of what Pep scholars call the 'Quiet Revolution', that is, the Shield's slow loss of dominance over the comic book he made famous. But issue 28 is a watershed... .

It is the first time the Shield does not appear on the cover of Pep. At least, not in the main illustration. The Shield is relegated to the circular ghetto of a character imprimatur in upper right hand corner, displacing the usual promise of Pep's unique brand of Action Detective Adventure.

And indeed the symbolism is accurate, for instead of classic Pep-brand Action Detective Adventure, we are served schoolyard posturing and bluster. Talking?!?! Why is there talking on a Pep cover? When there's talking on a Pep cover, people, the terrorists win.

Responsible is none other than that odious poseur, Hangman, and *snicker* 'Captain Swastika', a villain so lame he wears chinos, sketchers, and a timex into battle.

Well, not battle, really. More like two dogs barking at each other through a fence. Two snitty, horribly dressed partisans, squatting like bears in the woods, hurling weak invectives in the form of failed haiku that appear to have been translated from Japanese, vying for position on a novelty sumo mat shaped like the contiguous U.S. Less focused on Action Detective Adventure than on his own appearance, Hangman made sure to bribe the lighting crew to get his signature silhouette on the backdrop of, um, well, space, or whatever that would be.

Oh, and for those who are wondering whether "Hangman can stop America's greatest menace?", the answer is clearly "NO"....

because Archie is still being published today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Negra Linterna

Usually, I pride myself on confining myself to discussing the inane (e.g., Dazzler), the irrelevant (Aqualad), and the unpopular (e.g., Vibe). But even I cannot resist the urge to discuss, well, the only thing anyone's discussing: Blackest Night.

I should hate it. I mean, really: zombies? [Of course, they're actually revenants, not zombies in the classical voodoo sense, but thanks to all those movies, everyone calls revenants 'zombies' nowadays.]

Yet I do not hate it. I love it. Why?

1. The proper groundwork has been laid. Lordy, the roots of this story are deep within the DCU's history (including elements that I can't mention because they would be spoilers for some inevitable reveals about the Black Lantern). Plus, writers (well, Johns) have built this story brick by brick out of recent year's developments and intentional additions (the death of the Dibnys and many others, the Spectre's punishment of Black Hand, Parallax, the 'emotional color spectrum', the Sinestro War, "Engine City", Xanshi, JLI, the trouble between the Hawks... really, just about everything). This doesn't feel like some external "event'' imposed upon the DCU by editorial fiat that doesn't jibe with anything else. Quite the opposite; it pulls together many loose threads in the DCU and puts them in a overall context that helps it all make more sense and seem more cohesive.

2. The metatextual element. I appreciate when DC takes advantage of an 'event' to do more than simply tell a story. Legends, for example, made complex points about heroism. Blackest Night is a commentary (criticism?) of comic books' Revolving Door of Death. As longtime readers may remember, I am an admirer of the Ivory Soap Method of marketing. "Blackest Night" is an astonishingly bold example. DC has said, "Let's take out two most damning criticisms == that we violently kill off our characters with foolish abandon and that we keep bringing people back from the dead == and make those the central issues in our coolest company-wide story of all time." That's sheer genius.

3. It's not zombies; it's zombies with power rings. Which is, um, totally different. Somehow. It makes you wonder: what side is Driq on?

4. The possibly of fixing, well, almost everything. Ever since 1985, I've been waiting for DC to "fix everything". Crisis on Infinite Earths was the first time DC told me they were going to give themselves a chance to fix everything that needed fixing. I remember being very excited by the idea that DC would "fix everything" by eliminating everything dumb (which is to say, Things That Didn't Make Me Happy in My Comics) and reorganizing and reemphasizing everthing cool. They didn't, of course. Like any legislative body (such as Congress), DC's editors focused too much on changing the situation they didn't like (accumulated Bronze Age continuity) and too little on the new situation they'd be replacing it with (post-Crisis continuity). They gave themselves another chance during Zero Hour (but didn't really fix everything). They gave themselves yet another chance with Infinite Crisis (other than bringing back Barry and Bart Allen, no one has any idea what happened there).

Now, in Blackest Night they have a chance to fix, well, not everything, but almost everything (since most things that "needed fixed" are the pointlessly sensational killings off of characters). I continue to hope that DC will use this opportunity to fix things, much as a battered wife returns to her abusive husband confident that he's sorry, he's changed, and this time it's going to be different. However, this time, I have some evidence on my side: certain things pretty much have to be fixed. Specifically, the currently-dead status of Bruce Wayne and Arthur Curry.

I'm not going to get into an argument here about whether these characters should remain dead and whether DC heroes are really legacies, blah blah blah, and neither are you. Because, frankly, our chatter doesn't really matter. It's just a fact: Bruce Wayne and Arthur Curry aren't going to remain dead, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just being naive. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Green Arrow didn't stay dead and neither will their two colleagues (J'onn Jonnz? Him I'm not so sure about...).

So, some characters are going to come back from the dead as a result of Blackest Night. That means, in theory, that ANYONE can. Which means, of course...

5. Vibe is comin' back, meng!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

  • Really, I can't remember the last time I saw Aquaman say, "YIPPEE!"
  • Lek lokok nak.
  • Matt Bensen's ingenious out of the box solution.
  • Wally versus George Washington.
  • Walker finds what he's looking for... in himself.
  • The Heroes' Holiday.
  • ... versus mailmen? OMG, when I figured it out, I nearly laughed my fool head off.
  • The helpfulness of Dr. Arkham.
  • The return of Bruce Wayne, billionaire philanthropist.
  • Tempest's argument with Mera; sorry, I think Mera wins.
  • The Wonder Woman and John Stewart discuss equal rights with the Founding Fathers.
  • In case any one ever needs to check for any reason, I, too, only have 28 teeth.
  • Hal updates Barry, in 3D.
  • Even dead, the Elongated Man is still a jerk.
  • The Flash versus Barry Allen. Absolutely priceless...!
  • Yeah, Carol looks really safe, LOL...
  • I finally have some real respect for Thomas Elliot. Great move.
  • "Sounds like flies".
  • Element Dog. I just keeping saying it, again and again: Element Dog. And I smile each time.
  • Hey, she really is an investigative report, isn't she? You go, Lo-lo!
  • Oh, no. Not Bzzzt!
  • Chronos's Washington Monument. Nearly laughed my fool head off.
  • Carter and Kendra have new jobs!
  • "I'm sure anywhere you go in the universe, you'll find stupid people."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vol. 2 of Martian Madness

Okay, as previously mentioned, the Martian Manhunter went from weird to weirder when he left Detective Comics for House of Mystery.

Now, I know you all think I'm INSANE ("Mad! So, my colleagues think me mad, eh...?!") for harping on the insidious evil of SURREALISM lurking with comic books, yet surrealism is exactly the new foe that J'onn was pitted against.

There was a certain bizarre logic to it. No one ever had any idea what to do with this ridiculous Martian character they'd cobbled together out of breakfast martinis, deadlines, and old pulp sci fi mags. For that matter, no one ever has. Might as well have him fight equally bizarre and ridiculous 'foes', in a symbolic struggle of classic art versus surrealism, or as a metaphor for humanity's never-ending efforts to impose meaning on a chaotic world. Who better to thrust in unknown and nonsensical territory?

J'onn was no longer fighting crooks in ties or even crooks in stupid costumes.

Even for comic books, that's a stand-out sentence.

Now he fought things like...

evil sentient orchestras.

Pity J'onn's career in Zydeco never took off.

Or bank-robbing genies.

Or really peevish, bioelectric Fruit Loops

Thank H'Ronmeer they didn't join forces with the Sinister Spaghetti-o People.

Or presidential candidate Pat Paulsen.

But it was all a battle against SURREALISM, in a vain attempt to keep its madness confined to the canvas...

See? And you think I make these things up...!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pep 27: "I'm punching through, Brooke!"


Or, sure, you've got the usual "Shield Rushes in From Stage Right" pose, the "Dusty Falls From Nowhere" thing, and the "Why is the Hangman Always in the Way" scene. But really, a giant fist of metaphorical tyranny, after they already fought the giant foot of metaphorical tyranny on the cover of Pep 22? What's the Shield's fascination with giant body parts all about, huh?

Punching through the Bill of Rights? Is this a Pep Cover or a pamphlet from the Cato Institute? Or, given the Shield's level of kink, from the FFA?

I do, however, like the idea that world-threatening political movements that destroy civilizations and slaughter and torture millions have little logo rings, and logo stamps to put on the bottom of your world-stomping jackboots, and probably other little trinkets, like keychains, and bracelets that say, "What Would Adolf Do?" Now we know where Archie got all his ideas for the Archie Club.

If only the Shield & Co. had recognized the threat of Archie and neutralized it before so many generations of young minds were destroyed. I blame Neville Chamberlain and John Goldwater.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hal Jordan, Action Philosopher!

The first in an on-going series.

Today, Hal demonstrates his own personal philsophy:

Solipsism is the philosophical idea that one's own mind is all that exists. Solipsism is an epistemological or ontological position that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis.

Because it's all about Hal, you know.

Other famous solipsists include A.E. Housman, God, Archie Andrews, and Stan Lee.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy

in my comics this week.

  • "Three weeks from now"? Interesting; I look forward to finding out who's beating the crap out of Batman, and why.
  • Barry's benday fade-out.
  • William Hand's unusual career move.
  • The severe change in Black Canary's origin. I approve.
  • Superman's xenophobia...?
  • Kara's pet problems.
  • So.... I assume Tim Wayne owns Wayne Enterprises now?
  • Two-Face --wisely -- insisting on seeing things from more than one perspective, and the knowledge that gives him.
  • Sean Sonus: classic villain origin!
  • Coast City Googie.
  • Wait are those Parasite-hatchlings or what? Ick.
  • "They resemble nothing less than the mandrillus sphinx monkey of the family cercopithecidae..."
  • Billy loses his Marbles.
  • Batman and Gordon, helpless.
  • Why Dick talks so much.
  • Page two of Green Lantern. Whoa, Blackest Night is going to be very unpleasant, and in the best possible way.
  • "I knew Sapphire's fondness for giant clams would get her into trouble."
  • Anticipation may not be good for him, but I'm sure enjoying it!
  • The Kamandi footer.
  • A ball gown made of Kevlar. Heh.
  • "Cretinous, mouth-breathing, leg breaker." Now that is how the Penguin should sound.
  • The Metal Men's fashion sense.
  • Best. Costume origin. Ever.
  • I bet the Sergeant's mother's maiden name was Jordan.
  • Simon's selchamorphic dirigible.
  • Just like the last time you destroyed the school. Heh.
  • Deadman noir.
  • Heh. We do all remember what the essential message of "Easter" is, don't we?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Haikuesday on Greek Street

The best comic you didn't read this week was Greek Street (and it only cost a buck).

Greek Street is shaping up to be a gripping crime drama, and, since you're not reading it, it's going to become one of those Vertigo classics where you're trying to catch up when the trade comes out, because all the Cool Kids at the playground have been already been sliding sly references to it into their jump-rope songs and smirking at your sidelining ignorance.

It's also a re-telling of many Ancient Greek myths. For example, in the opening story a guy named Eddie takes an unorthodox approach to getting in touch with his birth-mother. And the Greek chorus is a trio of strippers ("chorus girls"). As you imagine, I like this a lot.

Haiku is not a literary form usually associated with Greek myth, but I guess the old stories naturally fall into poetic rhythms. Here, Sandy's brother, disturbed by his sisters manic ravings (which, you know, could not possibly be accurate prophesies, or anything) advocates for her institutionalization:

She shouldn't even
be here. There are places for
people like Sandy.

What haiku can you compose to celebrate Greek Street and this interesting revitalization of the old stories in comic book form?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Pep 26: What Rings Their Bell

Well, finally we see what it takes to make the Hangman, Shield, and Dusty laugh:

the torture of prisoners of war.

And given his stance, I shouldn't be at all surprised if the Shield is planning on giving them a very special shower of ritual humiliation in the near future.

Special note to Dusty. You shouldn't laugh and point at other people. Particularly not in that outfit.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Death of John Jones

Okay, as mentioned, Vol. 2 of the Martian Manhunter Showcase is in some ways even crazier than the first one; but why?

It's clear that the editorial/authorial powers realized they'd painted themselves into an uncomfortable corner. They'd created a nearly infallible character whose powers were a mash-up of Amazo, the Composite Superman, and the Phantom Stranger. His only weakness was the most absurd one any character has ever had. Yellow? Wood? Those at least had some sort of ad hoc logic to them. But the Martian Manhunter's vulnerability to fire defied not just physics, but sociology and common sense. Fire has no radiation-like "emanations"; at a distance, there's no difference between fire and any other heat source. The Martians built a high-tech society without... fire? Maybe they used "Martian vision" to melt metals or just finger-snapped machines out of thin air, like they do ice cream cones?

PLUS, this super-scientific society has no way of rescuing one of its people, even when it's established early on that they know he's on earth? No, it's obvious that the Martian Manhunter was a rather hastily cobbled together character, and a difficult one to write. Despite J'onn's godlike powers he spent most of his time fighting crooks in hats, and laughable losers like the Human Flame, Mr. Moth, and the Human Squirrel. His only substantial challenges would come from other planets like the Venusians or the Martian Mandrills (yes, really). Something had to be done.

The recognition that J'onn's powers were out of literary control led to one early limitation: exposed to a chemical by a Martian bad guy (B'rett, as I recall), the Manhunter could no longer use his powers while he was invisible. Not only did this prevent the obvious question ("Why doesn't he always remain invisible as matter of course during combat?"), it forced him to 'come out' and become a public hero.

In Vol. 2, the Martian Manhunter even started to fly as a pure and simple power, whereas before he always had to suck or blow himself into the sky. And now he even had a superpowered sidekick (more on that subject later) to help him.. Something beyond the 'invisibility limit' was required.

The writers (well... writer, really) came up with an idea: J'onn's 'Martian powers' worked only when he was in his "Martian form" (although this was in direct and stark conflict with every previous Martian Manhunter story). Now, when in any other form, he had only the powers of that other form (and, of course, his power to shape-shift!). This helped a bit at first... JJ kept having to disguise himself as humans, and in so doing became as vulnerable as they are.

Unfortunately, the concept kind of backfired; when face with a superior adversary, the Martian Manhunter could simply assume the form of his opponent... and did.

So they killed him off. Not the Martian Manhunter, but John Jones, his civilian ID. He was "killed" when he and a car were eaten by corrosive cloud being. Things like that happen in Apex City.

Rather than concoct an escape story or one of those Clark Kent-style "Superman saved me when you weren't looking, Lois!" yarns, the Martian Manhunter simply said, "Huh, oh well. So much for my carefully constructed private life, my friends, and my job. What's for lunch?"

But this coincided with a move for MM. He no longer needed his job as a detective because he was no longer in Detective Comics. Now he'd be the back-up in House of Mystery (which was, at that time, a sci-fi title, not a horror title), so his adventures became more mysterious and less detective-y. Enter the Idol Head of Diabolu, a magical Pandora's box that spit out a different, crazy magical threat like clockwork once a month....

to be continued.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Objectifying Hal's Head

I just love the Hal Jordan heroclix figure. Thanks to a wise use of the "special power" mechanic, he slices, he dices, he makes Julienne fries. Best thing? He can take a wallop almost as well as Goofy.

So, in honor of Hal Jordan generally and of his heroclix figure in particular, I've designed some new objects to use when he's in the game.

Objects, by the way, are tokens used in the game to represent, well, objects. There are two basic kinds of objects: light (marked by a yellow border) and heavy (marked by a red border). Three of each are placed on the map at the beginning of each game. Light and heavy, by the way, are relative terms; a gumball machine is a "light" object, for example. That's why only figures with the Superstrength power can pick up regular objects on a heroclix map. A light object adds one to the damage dealt by a character attacking an adjacent foe, and a heavy object adds two. You can also throw them at opponents, which is fun but usually a waste of a good object. Once used in an attack (successfully or not), the object is "destroyed" and removed from the board.

There are also "special objects" (marked by a blue border), each of which has its own special rules. Most of the "official" special objects are tedious techno-crap that must appeal to Marvel Heroclix players: Structural Integrity Field Generators, Kinetic Absorbers and Accelerators, Dynamostats. I know what a gumball machine is; what the hell is a dynamostat?

ever. I'm from DC; where are the objects we need? Giant typewriters. Manhole covers. Stuffed bear heads. You know.... the stuff we actually see in our stories. Not only do we deserve more DCish objects, certain DC characters cry out for peculiar objects of their own. And no character says "peculiar object" more than Hal Jordan & His Amazing Head.

We've already created tokens for two of the greatest object-foes of Hal's head, the Yellow Ceiling Tile and the Heavy Yellow Lamp. But Hal deserves more.

Stalactites (Heavy Object) Face it, a good 17 percent of all the action in DC comics takes place in a cave somewhere. For pity's sake, DC has had spelunkers as cover headliners.

An Oscar (Light object)
Who needs Billy Crystal? Let Hal host the Academy Awards every year and just wait to see who klonks him on the head with Oscar, how, and why. You know you'd watch.
Mjolnir (Heavy object)
Only Superstrength is required to wield it; after all, this is DC, where everyone is worthy.
Underwater-rifle Butt (Light object)
Must be placed initially on water terrain.
The Toy Airplane (Special object)
Hal's head, like any great character, has both range and variety. One of the particular glories of Hal Jordan's head is that it can survive a blow by Thor's hammer, but can still be felled by the likes of a deliciously embarrassing toy airplane. Like Hal's head, the Toy Airplane comes with its own special rules!
  • May be wielded by any thematically appropriate villain (such as Toyman, Trickster, or the Joker);
  • may be thrown up to the villain's full range;
  • ignores all powers and abilities of Hal Jordan;
  • clear line of fire to Hal Jordan is not required,
  • does no damage but Incapacitates Hal.

The Space Owl (Special object)
Truly, Hal getting hit in the head by the Space Owl is one of comic book television's 113 Greatest Moments (which also includes the first appearance of Huntress's breasts in live action, the Joker versus Scooby Doo, and Alan Ritchson in wet angry bondage). Some evenings I just curl up on the sofa with my lapdog and my laptop and put the "Magno-beam-guided Space Owl Hits Hal on Head" sequence on infinite loop and nod off to the soothing sound of a space owl hitting Hal's head again and again and again like waves on the shore... . Usually, that's after a finite loop of Alan Ritchson in wet angry bondage, but that's another story. Ahem, anyway, the Space Owl comes with same rules as the Toy Airplane.
"The Sign" (Heavy Object/Special object)
This object can be wielded just like a regular heavy object. But it's more fun to leave it in place because of its special rules: Hal may not destroy "The Sign" with a standard attack, but as long as Hal can make an action and is not within range to attack any opposing figure, Hal must fly headfirst to "The Sign", destroying it, if it is in within range of his speed value. Just have Dr. Polaris or Sinestro park their car within shooting distance of the sign and wait for Hal to show up!
Porcupine Bladders from Space (Light Object)
Um, yeah, those pretty much throw me for a complete loss, too, Hal. But we've got to have them, mostly because I just like saying "porcupine bladders from space".

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Lesbian Desert

I'm been a big fan of the new Batwoman since her introduction. I've been delighted that she was going to headline Detective Comics and that Renee "The Question" Montoya would be her back-up. I've been thrilled with the actual product; I keep re-reading this month's issue of Tec, simply because it's darned beautiful.

The story worked for me, too. I was no fan of the whole "Church of Crime" routine that was part of the 52 muddle, but it makes a good and logical focus for Batwoman. Plus, the creative team has immediately given it exactly what it needed: a costumed wacko. I mean, this is Gotham, after all.

I appreciated greatly the Question seems to focus on "small" crimes and mysteries (if a person being kidnapped and sold into bondage can be considered "small"). The Question shouldn't be fighting Dr. Polaris or even the Penguin; helping one person at a time is perfect. And if she happens to break up a slavery ring that's been funding drug smuggling from Santa Prisca that's part of the Penguin's deal with Kobra, well, that works, too. Because cracking down on "small" crimes can have an impact on the larger level in the real world, too. You don't lead to shoot laser beams out of your eyes to make a difference.

That said...

As a gay man, I am disappointed. Lesbians are everywhere in comics nowadays. Lesbians are falling from the trees. At Big Monkey, we have a "Fortnightly Fave" display, where every two weeks we feature some literature based on a common character or theme ("the Flash", or "vampires", or "space"). We could pretty easily to do a "Fortnightly Fave" display on "Lesbians" (Grace from the Outsiders, Scandal Savage from Secret Six, Maggie Sawyer who used to be in Superman and used to be in Batman, Detective with two starring lesbians, Strangers in Paradise, I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space)

But... as Kathy Griffin would say, "Where are my gays at?"

Lesbians and gay men aren't interchangeable and (outside of political necessities for unified action) don't consider themselves a group. Lesbian characters don't satisfy a gay male reader's need to see characters easy to identify with any more than male characters satisfy a female reader's desire for female role models in comics.

I realize that a gay reader complaining that there are no gay characters isn't exactly original. Heck, reader of Type Z complaining that there are no characters of Type Z is a basic bitch-blogging formula. But the increasing prevalence of lesbians is making the absence of male gay characters even more glaring.

DC has, what, Obsidian? Obsidian, who is often portrayed as mentally unstable, when anyone (other than Marc Andreyko) bothers to portray him at all? The deranged Pied Piper? The *snort* Tasmanian Devil, who was intended as (and remains) basically a joke character and gets a cameo every three years or so?

Jeez, DC... Marvel is outdoing you. Wiccan, Hulkling, and Northstar do stink of overwrought romance comics, but, hey, that's just Marvel being Marvel. Unless I'm wrong... have they all been killed off already?

Is DC worried about readers disliking gays in comic books? Are lesbians okay, because, you know, "at least they're hot for the fanboys"? Is DC worried to offend gays with a poor portrayal and so is just steering clear of doing so altogether?

Here it is, DC: I no longer care what the reason is. It's reached a point whether I'd rather have Estrano back (yeah, you heard me; I went there!), than to have Obsidian as the one small gay male oasis in a desert of lesbians.

It's probably too late, but here's your chance:

if Inferno is not gay, I'm calling you out as homophobes, DC Comics.