Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm a Bee-liever

I just learned something:

The Red Bee is in the public domain.

This character:

Opened fire with WHAT?  It looks like a martial aid.  Must be a sex pistol.

believe it or not, belongs to all of us, belongs to the WORLD.

And yet there is no Red Bee film in development.  No Red Bee The Animated Series.  No Red Bee comics.  In fact, I can't even find Red Bee fan fic.  Meanwhile, there's a Ant-Man movie being planned.  

This shows what happens when you don't have an agent (or anyone who owns you as intellectual property).  All those of you so ardent for preventing copyright law extensions on such characters, let the fate of the Red Bee warn you all!

Thus, the legacy of the Red Bee languishes.  Truly, the state of the Red Bee is a tragedy much like global warming, is which something for which everyone is responsible is something for which no one feels sufficient responsibility.  

As do your descendants, Rick.  I mean your spiritual descendants, of course.

What would you do to bring back the Rick Raleigh version of the Red Bee? Would you give mutant bee-controlling powers, like Yellowjacket?  Would you include his much-maligned, but incomprehensibly well-trained, sidekick, Michael?  With his outrĂ© couture and poofy diaphanous sleeves would he be a would-be fashion designer out for justice? Given the fact that, in 24 issues, he was hit on the head and knocked-unconscious 14 times, would you make him a sidekick for Hal Jordan (truly, the Red Bee put the "hit' in Hit Comics)?  Or for Green Arrow, considering how ridiculous he is?  Would you sign your masterpiece "B.H. (for Bee hive, one assumes) Apiary", out of shame?  Is he really any more ridiculous than, say, the Green Hornet? Would you have him fight all the sort of crime Golden Age heroes used to tackle that's no longer on the radar of big-time Justice Leaguers, such as milk racketeering, jilted lovers, and medical supply-jackers?

I believe something wonderful can be done with this character (again).  I'm a Red Bee-liever.

Prove me right!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


The only thing happened  when I watched Gotham that I wasn't really expecting.

I REALLY liked it.

Was it subtle? No.  But then again.... that's never been what comics books have been about, has it?

Ben McKenzie's quiet charisma is enormous.  The moral dilemmas, while a bit conveniently stark, are real and sophisticated. Once I find myself understanding--agreeing with--Carmine Falcome, I"m impressed.

Pictured: quiet charisma.

Sure, they took too many liberties in tying together closely all manner of terribly disparate and unrelated pieces of the Gothamverse.  Selina Kyle witnesses the murder of the Waynes, for which Poison Ivy's dad is framed (contrary to evidence found by forensic expert Edward Nigma) by the boss of the Penguin who is crippled for betrayal possibly in front of the Joker?  Really, was Harvey Dent sick that day?

But that kind of need to "tie everything altogether" is very typical of the small screen where they don't have the luxury of 70 years of monthly issues to spin our thousands of various yarns.  They need it all wrapped up in tidy tee-vee-sized ball.  And, as myth-making goes, the pilot does a good job, particularly with an actual, interesting origin for the Penguin.

It will probably become too crowded too fast, and, like Smallville, will become too penned in by the 'real myth. But for now, I am definitely on board.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"That's just AWESOME!"

You know what the most fun comic book you're not reading now is?

I do, and I know why.  It's "The Awesomes" and you're not reading it because no one is writing or publishing it.

For those not already familiar with it, The Awesomes is a Hulu animated television series that's a comedic take on superhero teams.  That description make its sound like rather a played out concept, and that was my first impression before I finally broke down and watched a few episodes, which amused and entertained me greatly.  My fondness for the show has only grown as I have started sharing it with others (many of whom, like me, were at first skeptical).  

The show oozes with comedic talent; it is almost completely performed by alums of SNL (like Seth Meyers) or MadTV (like Ike Barinholtz), even the bit parts, walk-ons, and one-liners.  The unctuous villain Dr Malocchio, as played by Bill Hader, is a treat in every frame he's in.  

Unlike many such parodies, The Awesomes isn't derisive or demeaning toward the superhero/villain concept.  It's clearly affectionate and informed joking and most of the characters are very likeable (even the villains are -- to some degree-- likeable or at least, we understand why they do what they do even if we don't approve). 

That's not to say the show's not without bite. There's some wicked satire going on, and the show's by no means G-rated. But at its core, it's warm-hearted, respectful of the heroic ideal, and has a great mix of lively characters, whose interactions are comedy gold.  My favorite is Gadget Girl (an expy of Merry the Girl of a 1000 Gimmicks), who's a rejuvenated sassy-talking 1940s hero with a zest for adventure and a lack of delicacy that enlivens any scene she's in:

Not even halfway into its second season, The Awesomes has generated enough characters and throwaway concepts to fuel a comic book for years.  I hope that Hulu and Seth Meyers, the brain behind it all (and the voice of the Awesomes' leader, the perennially injured supergenius Jeremy "Prock" Awesome), takes the step of licensing it out, but I would read the CRAP of an Awesomes comic book.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Let's catch up with the Shield

As much as I love the Shield and Dusty....

there are some things that even I don't want to think about.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where's Cecille when you need her?

And then there was the time Green Arrow was turned into a fly and had to fight off a giant spider.

Let me tell you, kids; however bad you THINK your comics are now...

just be glad you're not in the Bronze Age.

P.S. Add "turn him into a fly" to the list of 1001 Ways to Defeat Green Arrow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Rise of Skartaris?

If you're anything like me, you've given next to zero thought as to Skartaris.

Even as you read this, I can hear your brain scrambling.  "That's ... a planet?  A... Supergirl foe?  An ... evil island nation?"

Skartaris, for (all) those of you who've forgotten, is the subterranean mystical 'Lost World' that was the setting of the adventures of WARLORD (or Travis Morgan, as his mom calls him). Mike Grell, master of minimalist couture and extremity in stance, invented it in 1975.  It had all the regular stuff and then some: dinosaurs and names stolen from the collective cultural conscience,  like 'Shamballah", and... well, it's easier to show you:

It's outer world is as a divorced mom and a secretary at a state government office in Nebraska;
it holds all this inside it, all day.  "Ms Skartaris, are you listening to me...?"

"Warlord" has been seen for, oh, several universal reboots by now, and I certainly haven't missed seeing it.

Although I certainly HAVE missed seeing Travis Morgan.  Sigh.

The only thing that brought it to my mind was some research I've been doing into ... Villainy Inc.

Now, SURELY, some of you remember "Villainy Inc.', if only because of the hilarious name that you'd be proud to see in your stock portfolio.  

They invested heavily in animal print, polka-dot skirts, and metal cone bras.

It's the 'super-group' of female foes of Wonder Woman who kept her so busy in 1948.

In fact, they kept her... all tied up.

Since then, they've only had only other big arc, during the Jimenez run on Wonder Woman.  You know, the one with hunky dreadlocked diplomat Trevor Barnes.  This modern Villainy Inc tried to take over ...Skartaris. For reasons.  They were led by Queen Clea, ruler of a lost Atlantean colony (as mentioned in my previous post on "Rise of the Seven Seas").  I'm skimming this story, mostly looking at the visual redesigns of the Villainy Inc members when THIS catches my eye:

Sentient Ancient Atlantean computer viruses? Right, whatever. I'd still marry you in heartbeat, Phil.  Particularly if you were dressed like Travis Morgan.  Sigh.

Well, well, well. I'd completely forgotten that Skarataris is, in fact, supposed to be a lost Atlantean colony.

Could Skartaris be one of the Seven Seas?   Could Geoff Johns be bringing Skartaris back into the DCU this way?  What do you think?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Daily Planet

I've been inspired by Superman lately.  As more and more of DC Entertainment's movie plans become public, it's clear they're going to build a universe of cinematic heroes around Superman.  

The character has been struggling to find a new resonant characterization in the DCU's new continuity,   but in only a few issues, Geoff Johns has, as is his speciality, returned to the character to its roots in a way that still feels fresh and comes as a natural outgrowth of previous story elements.  

I also watched some of the Fleischer Superman cartoons,  which are still astonishing today in their beautiful technique and their efficient storytelling; hard to imagine the impact their had on their contemporary public.

In fact, I was inspired to make the following two Heroclix maps for him.

The Daily Planet Newsroom

Lovely balconies; such a sunny place, Metropolis.

The Daily Planet Rooftop

Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel.

If you'll look carefully, you see that the two maps are correlated.  You can play by themselves, or you play them together at the same time, with the Rooftop being "above" the Newsroom. You can even have Clark change to Superman in a storeroom and fly out the window to appear on the map above!

Other innovations in these two maps are doors (which block line of fire but not movement) and flying terrain, which only flyers can occupy and which allows them to ignore the elevation of other characters.  Flying figures, however, are not required for playing on either map; but without them there will be a merry chase around that giant globe, I'll wager.

"Two-tier" map combos like the Daily Planet Newsroom/Rooftop are my new schtick in map-making,  facilitated by the fact that I have a two-tied glass coffee table that's PERFECT for playing them on.

What other vertically stacked maps could I do this way? What do you think of:

  • Wayne Manor/the Batcave?
  • Commercial Street/Sewer Below?
  • Innocent looking shop below/villain's lair above?
  • Spooky house/ second floor?
  • Church graveyard/catacombs?
  • A boat on the ocean/the sea floor beneath it?
  • The jungle floor/ the treetops above?
  • STAR labs public area below/ private labs above?
  • Wayne Tower lobby/executive suite?
  • Lexcorp lobby/executive suite?
  • Antique shop/ mystical lair?
  • Something independent, such as the Phantom Zone, the Fifth Dimension, or the Mirror World, that could be laid "over" any map?
  • Something I"m not thinking of that you will...?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Face Value

Ordinarily, I only post here on comics I enjoy (or enjoy disliking).  Seldom do I post on 'comics I think people should read or be aware of because it's important".

But today I will, for the sake of Face Value Comics, which is publishing the first comic book with an autistic audience in mind.

It's your basic YA steampunk setting, but the protagonist has autism and the book is written AND drawn with an autistic audience in mind.  

It not only entertains but helps young people with autism better understand their situation and the situations they find themselves in with other people.  It's not a throwaway PSA-comic from a big publisher; it's a labor of love by a creator with autism that's published in my own hometown of York, PA.  

I learned about it at the beginning of the year when I read about it in my hometown newspaper.  Its print run has been small and physical copies were sold in only a handful of stores around York.  But that obscurity changed overnight when the book and its creator were featured recently on NBC News.   Diamond is now distributing the book, so you can ask for your local comic shop to carry it. Or you can buy a digital version online and keep up with the new printings at the publisher's site.

Do you need to read it? Maybe not.   But I do think it's important that you be aware of it, in case you have personal or professional connections to people who do need to read it.