Monday, July 24, 2017

The Bronze Age Shift

So, we just spent a week looking at the Comic That Ended The Silver Age: JLA #77 "Snapper Carr -- Super-Traitor".

It leads to the question: what OTHER differences did the Bronze Age bring? Why is it considered a different age from the Silver Age, if there was no break in continuity?  Fair question.  The inability of modern readers to distinguish between the Silver and Bronze Ages because there was no break in continuity is one of my pet peeves.  The wiki article linked above gives you some of the grander meta-view of the shift; here are some specifics in the DCU.

Superman.  Superman went from being a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper 

to a hapless anchorman for television broadcasting company. 

Some of his foes become noticeably nastier.  After years of being a fat guy in a brown suit or prison greys, Luthor gets a gym membership and a new suit.

And that's terrible!

Batman.  Robin left for college.  

Batman closed down Wayne Manor and moved into a swinging bachelor penthouse in the city. 

Who builds a MOAT around a PENTHOUSE?!

Batman foes were reintroduced as scarier and more disturbed. 

No more John Dough.

Warmed over Fu Manchu knockoff Ra's Al Ghul is introduced as ALREADY having figured out Batman's secret identity and not caring.  

I think Dick still uses that picture on Tinder.

Batman stories become generally spookier ...

and Batman becomes MUCH stupider.

Wonder Woman. Diana loses her supporting cast.  

Diana also loses her powers, 

learns martial arts from an old blind Chinese guy, 

opens a mod dress shop

That's because minis are IN, oh, god, Diana you're just HOPELESS.

fights lesbian slavers

borrows a machine gun.

Flash.  Barry Allen finally marries Iris West, 

I think we can ALL agree with that, Flash.

who figures out he's Flash because he talks in his sleep (as highly disturbed people do).  

That's a LIE. Everything Flash says is a lie.

She's murdered by Reverse-Flash 

This would make an AWESOME mural, by they way.

and Barry moves on FAST.

Barry's a player.

Green Lantern.  Slips on soap on in the shower banging his head, giving us our first black Green Lantern, John Stewart.  

You thought I made that up, didn't you?

Despite having a power ring that can take him across the galaxy, spends an inordinate amount of time with Ollie Queen on purposeless roadtrip of the US.  

Dumb and Dumber: The Bronze Age

Becomes a toy salesman and a truck driver and can't keep a job generally

Do NOT ask about the starfish.  I'm still trying to process the phrase "a thoughtful Hal Jordan".

Unable to sustain his own title, he's forced to buddy up with Green Arrow, of all people.

From your mouth to god's ears, Ollie.

Green Arrow/Black Canary. Black Canary immigrates from Earth-2, gains a super-power, and replaces Wonder Woman in the Justice League.  

Larry was such a good-for-nothing, loudmouth, sexist jackass that Dinah had to come to Earth-2 to find a suitable replacement.

Green Arrow loses all his money, suddenly hates rich people now that he isn't one, grows that stupid goatee, becomes a loudmouthed liberal,

Picking on Hal for being clueless is like kicking a puppy.
Except when I do it.

blows off his sidekick who has become a junkie.  

Ollie's a dick.

GA and BC start (what I will politely call) dating, even though he's the reason her husband died.

Martian Manhunter. Who?  Martian Manhunter was sent away on a space-bus (notice his absence already in the Snapper Carr Super-Traitor story). He completely missed the Bronze Age and the Satellite Era of the Justice League. 

"And don't let the door hit you on the way out...!"

Justice League. In addition to the above changes, the JLA become less a supergroup of all DC's icons than a mechanism for trying to make lesser characters more iconic. Hence the inclusion of 


"Someone has violated my mind!" Well... that would explain the new costume, alright.


Whoa; that's ... limber.
I wouldn't let him in the satellite
but my bedroom is another story.

Hawkgirl (-woman, eventually)

No joke pic; Hawkgirl's awesome.

the incompetent whiny villain-created android Red Tornado, 

When the man who married Jean Loring thinks your trouble, you are.

and the goddammed ELONGATED MAN, a goofy self-aggrandizing wannabe gold-digger left over from some Flash stories.

GOD, I hate that guy.

Not the Justice League.  Superheroes lose market share to other genres like Western, Fantasy, and Horror, which is why the Bronze Age gives us ...

Swamp Thing, 

Back luck for Terry Thomas.

Jonah Hex, 

Bad luck for Santa.


Now THAT's the Demon's Head.


 the Phantom Stranger.  

There's more, but you get the idea.  Frankly, the DCU changed more between the Silver Age and the Bronze than it has in ANY subsequent reboot.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Heroclix Custom of the Week: Snapper Carr

This is latest in my ongoing series featuring custom figures I use in the tabletop miniatures game, Heroclix.  In the last entry, I shared my custom for Apex City's GIANT ROBOT BEAR.  It's not easy to match that for absurdity, unless of course today's figure is...


The more you think about the fact that Justice League gave Snapper Carr a flying jalopy,
the more reasonable Lex Luthor seems.

For Snapper Carr I chose a dial that's short (so he can die really quickly) but still annoying (Snapper's defining characteristic).  It's the one-slot dial of some silly concept from Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D., an A.I. monkey named "HENRY".  I'm sure that's an acronym, because Marvel, but I don't care of what (also because Marvel).

This dials gives Snapper 'teleportation', a power he developed after his Justice League days during the "Invasion" crossover.  He has 'super senses', which makes some sense because his hypersensitive observational skills were part of what brought him to the JLA's attention.  

These panels show both his teleportation and his keen awareness of his surroundings <Batman eyeroll>.

The special damage power gives him both 'Empower' and 'Enhancement'; GREAT advantages in any sidekick, that let him help others attack without making him a good attacker himself.

I didn't have enough time to find a panel of Snapper actually being helpful.
But this is a great representation of not-being-a-good-attacker.

He's got the 'Tiny" size symbol which requires some special interpretation, since for all his faults, Snapper is NOT tiny.  

That's a pretty safe assumption.

Since the main effects of "Tiny" size are being harder to hit from afar and being able to be carried by normal size figures, I just re-interpreted those effects with some special traits:

If you are wondering why Green Arrow isn't in that list there are two reasons:
1. Green Arrow isn't an original member of the Justice League and wasn't there when they 'adopted' Snapper; and
2.  Green Arrow pretty consistently couldn't stand Snapper.

And here's his actual sculpt (a repainted Rick Jones):

I thought the fluorescent base might make him an easier target.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Comic That Ended the Silver Age #4: Gettin' Real

And now the shocking conclusion to "Snapper Carr -- Super-Traitor"

Batman (who is the world's greatest detective, after all) has deduced John Dough's ugly secret (as if what we know of him already isn't ugly enough!).  He has also deduced that John Dough will be hiding out in the the JLA's own Secret Sanctuary (the location of and access to he got from dopey dupe Snapper Carr).

"And you know why? Because I'm BATMAN!"

However, the JLA isn't well prepared for the encounter with John Dough.  Using some weapons of the type the JLA stupidly ALWAYS has lying around their HQ, John Dough kayoes Superman and Green Lantern and Flash.

If you'd kept Martian Manhunter around this sort of shit wouldn't happen.  He would have phased in and twirled or exhaled or snapped his fingers or conjured up an ice cream from the atoms of the void, and that would have been that.

With the super-people out of the way, Dough gets ready to simply shoot the 'normal' human members of the League. With a normal gun. Not a zappy gun. A gun gun. A Joe Chill gun.

And he was about to get away with it, apparently. Until Black Canary turned out to be... not so ordinary.  Ironically, Dough is relying on the fact that Black Canary (who, remember, is an unknown because she has only recently immigrated from Earth-2) is a normal person.  But, having acquired a super-power as a side-effect of immigrating, she's got a unique talent she can use to defeat "Mr. Normal".

Most of you won't know or remember that her sonic attack WASN'T something she created with her voice; she generated it with her MIND.  

Yes, this is the first time Black Canary uses her 'canary cry' against a villain.  

And that villain turns out to be...not so ordinary.

Well, at least it explains the green suit.

The clues were there from the beginning.  The seduction of the innocent.  The laughing gas from a bouquet of flowers. Ignoring the Atom in favor of kidnapping Batman.  Keep Batman alive in the world's slowest death-trap so that he can watch society turn against his friends.  The 'trump' satellite (as in playing card trump). 

But even without clues the irony is so so painful.  The Joker, of all people, as the champion of THE NORMAL.  Turning the fact that the JLA accepted a 'normal' person, Snapper Carr, into their ranks against them.  Making Batman suffer for his pretensions of hanging out with the super-crowd.  

Sure, the story is written with Denny O'Neil's heavy hand. But in a way that makes the irony that much more painful.  His Joker isn't just stealing a ruby or shooting a librarian; he's winning the war of ideas, he's perverting the acceptance of diversity at the heart of civilization, and turning people against the heroes trying to protect them.  

Truly, what Denny O'Neil did in this story was shockingly subversive.  There was no fake-out in the title (as was so common in the Silver Age): Snapper Carr DID betray the Justice League.  The JLA's HQ is compromised.  The fragility of their position as 'heroes' is revealed.  

And, Denny, using the brick-wielding writing that I have been making fun of, makes darned sure that you KNOW it...

He gives you the throwaway Silver Age "all's well" ending that you have come to expect:

....only to have his authorial mouthpiece, Green Arrow, clearly call BS on it:

The end, indeed. The end of the Silver Age as we all knew it.  And Denny O'Neil used his painfully heavy style to make darned sure that everyone knew it.  Once Snapper Carr has betrayed the League, we are in new age: the Bronze Age, and nothing will every be the same again.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Comic That Ended the Silver Age #3: Gettin' Crazy

When last we left Snapper Carr and his back-up group, the Justice League of America, 

Batman had inexplicably extricated himself from the death-trap that populist demagogue John Dough had placed him, forgiven Dough and Snapper, and brought invitations to the JLAers to a public debate over abnormal superheroes versus ordinary people.

Do ordinary, average people have death-traps lying around? I guess they do in the DCU.  Probably part of the real estate listings: "good school system, nearby public transportation, with two-person death-trap."

What does it all mean?!?!?

My GOD, John Dough is actually ETHAN HUNT!

Don't believe everything you see on television because that's FAKE NEWS!  That 'Batman' is really John Dough in DISGUISE!  Fortunately Batman is in the slowest-acting death-trap ever, because it's still going on (presumably) hours later when thousands show up for the anti-JLA debate at Golden Stadium.

It's never clear in what city anything is happening in a JLA story, but if that's in Gotham City, I guaranteed the stadium is ACTUALLY made of gold.  And that at some point, the Icicle stole it before the JSA made him put it back.

Just to make sure that crowd is on edge and ready to rumble, John Dough has rented a portable Psycho-Pirate machine to screw with their heads:

That is why you left him with a teevee in the slowest death-trap ever, right, John?

This is where it gets NASTY. Dough has Snapper make the case against the JLA, which is a viciously embarrassing tactic by Dough. If notorious nationally-known super-suck-up Snapper Carr can recognize the danger inherent in the JLA, then, why, shouldn't everyone?!  

Man, dig that damning declamatory discourse!

Then it starts to get skeevy in the stands as palookas enviously ogle Black Canary in the closest late '60s comics can get to portraying sexual harassment:

Is it blaming the victim to note that she IS wearing a cigarette girl outfit and a leather jacket to a public debate?

Black Canary being Black Canary, however, simply beats the snot of out of them in a distinctly unlady-like manner.

"Jeez, lady, all we said was 'you're in great shape'!"

This starts a riot, which the JLA can't stop because Dough's mind-whammy machine rendered them confused and incompetent.

Or, in some cases, MORE confused and incompetent.

The JLA is forced to retreat, police have to stop the unrest, and the Senate calls for hearings on Dough's accusations that the JLA caused the riot.  Phew! A populist demagogue posing as the champion of ordinary people whips up a stadium full of his judgement-impaired followers to the point of violence!  Thank god I live on Earth-Prime where such a thing could never happen. Except during presidential elections.


No wonder Dough got rid of Batman; this is what happens to the JLA when Batman's not around to keep them from stepping on rakes.  

Speaking of Batman, shouldn't he be dead by now? No, of course not; he's had about 127 hours to macguyver his way out of Dough's makeshift deathtrap, which he finally does:

Trump. THERE's a shock.
I guess we now know who build the Golden Stadium.
What better way to broadcast fake news?

Batman goes RIGHT to the Senate hearings (because shit happens FAST in the DCU) and unmasks Joe Dough as an impostor. Dough creates a dangerous diversion so he can escape, which Green Lantern handles in the easiest way possible:  putting the Senate into suspended animation.

In the immortal words of Dorothy Parker: how can you tell?

After Dough has escaped and order is restored, the JLA confronts Snapper and his lame excuses.

If only Snapper had started talking like a normal person WITHOUT having to betray the JLA first.

And then Green Arrow -- dirty stinking pinko commy hippy dumb-ass Green Arrow -- lets fly with the piercing Truth Arrow.

Ollie Queen for Mayor started RIGHT HERE, people.

Tomorrow, Batman and the League confront Dough at the JLA's secret sanctuary, where there are revelations and reckonings.