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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Three: Basebomb

Yesterday, the evil-doer behind "Death Loads the Bases" was introduced: the Black Toad. He's the guy Marvel Central Casting sends out only when Matador, Leap-Frog, the Owl, the Orb, and Mister Fish are all busy elsewhere in other comics. And that's not often.

Naturally, Cap and Bucky locate him almost immediately. After all, he's right there in the park (though he doesn't need be), wearing an absurdly vespertilionine costume (particularly for some named the Black Toad), and peering at the game with glowing raccoon eyes (at least, that's what the caption said). Why not just sit in the stands in a business suit, like everyone else?

Anyway, like most of the kids reading this comic in 1941, Bucky can't take this Black Toad seriously as villain.

Whoa. Bucky took the full brunt of a baseball bat at the apex of a 270 degree swing by Toad's hired muscle. No wonder they said Bucky would never come back from the dead. Obviously, Bucky's skull is cracked like an eggshell and his brains are now splattered all over the place like Black Hand's at Easter dinner. Somebody get that understudy girl, Betsy Whatsername, into costuming pronto; the show must go on!

WHAT TH--?!?!! Who is this kid, the Hal Jordan of Earth-616?! Your head shouldn't feel like balloon, kid; it should feel like oatmeal. And not to you; to the coroner. A half-hour nap is what you need to recover from, say, a pomegranate cosmo (um..l mean... that's what they tell me). Getting bashed in the head with a baseball bat requires at least 24 hours of surgery by a rotating team of 9 brain surgeons, 3 months in ICU, and another 2 years in an institution learning to feed yourself again.

Whatever; this is Marvel, after all, where characters eat tragedy for breakfast and shit drama for the rest of the day. Cap and Bucky not only shake it off, but volunteer to take the places of the stricken (dead, really) ballplayers. Because, yeah, the game is still going to go on, because, yeah, ESPN's lawyers are that good.

But Cap will play only on one condition:

"I want Bucky for my catcher."
I am so sure, Mary.

This kind of child abuse is almost beyond the morals of even a baseball team owner. But the owner capitulates, particularly, since, ya know, Bucky's really into it:

Kids. Where do they get the energy? Sigh.

Anyway, all this is followed by what feels like 47 pages of Cap and Bucky being Really Good At Baseball, which I prefer to think of as 47 pages of Cap looking Really Ridiculous in a Baseball Uniform.

Once Cap and Bucky have duly impressed the kiddies with their baseballetic prowess, the Black Toad, who's still lurking around the stadium despite almost getting captured by a 15 year old boy, makes his move:

Wait... what? How on earth (even Earth-616) could Cap discern that a baseball is actually a bomb...?!

Oh. Um. Okay, then.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Two: The Raccoon of Doom!

When we left Captain America in "Death Loads the Bases", Badgers' star player Diraggio had just keeled over DEAD at Home Plate, so naturally the game is called on account of dead people.


WHAT TH--??!?!?! Someone DIED on the field, and the game goes on? Who the heck's running this joint... Fay Vincent?!

Well, maybe there's a rule for when someone dies that says whether the game should continue and under what circumstances. This being baseball, there probably is such a rule. Baseball has a rule for everything, including mid-game universal re-boots. You should see the stats for the DCU's 1986 and 1994 World Series.

I guess it's okay. Just because Diraggio dropped dead for no apparent reason, it's not like anyone else is in danger. Play ball!

Well, at least Adams got to second base.
Call a replacement victim from the bench!

Gods, how many people are going to die in this game? It's like watching the Teen Titans play baseball against Geoff Johns. Anyway, note that baseball players are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Nowadays, we'd be more likely to suspect a terrorist sarin attack than "t-t-the t-thirteen jinx".

But it's neither. It's...

Two mad glowing eyes, peering out of the darkness? It's a raccoon...?

No, it's ...

The Black Toad!

Ye gods, he's all black, with pointy ears, a triangle nose,almond eyes, sharp fangs, and a winglike cape...


Monday, August 10, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Two: Death Loads the Bases

So this Captain America story (which is called "Death Loads the Bases", by the way), is a Scooby-Doo style mystery about a spooky character trying to spoil victory for the Badgers baseball team which is on a twelve-game winning streak.

Here's the bad guy, which should come as no surprise, since he's vaguely threatening the team's owner with injury to his star players:

The bad guys, they just love the purple and the orange.

I just thought I'd spoil that for you. Since you never find out who this man is or why he's threatening the team owner until the big reveal at the end, you have no reasonable way of deducing who the villain is or what his motive is. Apparently Brad Meltzer originally wrote for Timely.

And, per Brad's usual style, here's the red herring, Pop Grimes:

Yeah. Sure. This guy has 'criminal mastermind' written all over him, Daphne!

Dude; you have a job with the team, when, in fact, you shouldn't be anywhere near the stadium; shut up. In my day, people who are barred from baseball become announcers on ESPN8, covering the World Extreme Ironing Championships in Denmark. So count yer lucky stars and get me some fresh towels, grampa.

In the stands for Game Thirteen in the Badgers' streak sit Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, Steve's, um, friend. Really really young friend. In dress uniforms. They are enlisted men. Even though Bucky is, what, 14? Did the Army just pick up truckloads of pubescent A1s from the state orphanage to use as cannon fodder? I don't ... well, I'm not going to think about, because it's giving me a headache. I'll just accept it as is.

Sure enough, Buck's hunch is roughly correct: this will be an unlucky thirteenth for the Badgers. For some more than others:

"He was tagged out by the Grim Reaper himself!"
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the world's most inappropriately poetic shortstop.