Wednesday, March 31, 2021

More Fun On Stage

As it happens, Oliver and Roy are directed by Equity to the very Stage Door Canteen that Professor Angel's gargoyles are about to rob.

Ollie's still clinging to that 'black market Equity card' theory, I see.

Fortunately for Professor Angel, his gargoyles (a has-been actor, a trucking expert, and mining engineer) just so happen to know how to handle tommy guns.

"SPEEDY??!  #$*(!, now we're in trouble!"

"Now that I see Green Arrow, I KNOW I don't have to take this seriously!"

Per usual, the Star Citizens in attendance think the whole thing is just part of the show.  

I mean, if you saw Green Arrow, would YOU think he was real?

The Gargoyles beat a hasty retreat, because god forbid two young expert archer crimefighters should be able to capture three denuded middle-aged unwilling amateur crooks.

Ladies and gentlemen: let's hear it for Green Arrow's Rogues Gallery!

Roy, since he lives with Ollie, knows how to deal with stupid people and helps G.A. warn off the Star Citizens.

A nod to how Speedy, a superior sidekick, efficiently accomplishes both klonking a foe on the head with the same actions as giving Ollie the opportunity to warm the crowd.  Roy is the best.

Green Arrow may not be the hero that Star City needs, but he certainly is the hero Star City deserves, since the local goobers fawn all over him:

At least it gives the bowmen an excuse for not being to catch the three feebs they are fighting.

The crooks escaping is a dream for Ollie because it lets him to do the only thing that makes him feel alive:


This decision, happily, leads to the only thing that makes ME feel alive:  watching Ollie's catapult schtick blow up in his face.


This only way this could be funnier would be in the gargoyles were still in their underwear.  Add "coffee pots" (I guess?) to the list of 1001 Ways To Defeat Green Arrow.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

More Fun WITH Green Arrow

In yesterday's episode, Professor Angel and his deformed, blackmailed proteges had used a giant mirror to cause a horrific accident with a truck full of rubber tires, a valuable wartime commodity.  Into this mess roars Green Arrow in that lemon-fresh mobile-home he calls "the Arrowcar":

Pikachumobile needs a new pair of shoes!

This single panel encapsulates everything wrong about Green Arrow (except, you know, the archery thing).  Roy is the sensible adult and Ollie the impetuous child.  Ollie's #white(millioniare)privilege in having a priority rating for his tires and his putting his own desires before the country's needs.  The absurdity of the behemoth Arrowmobile, which weighs so much it probably needs new tires every 10 miles.  Ollie, proving his malfeasance in this regard by driving the car needlessly fast to satisfy his whims, even though that the exact reason he needs new tires.  He's not even waiting for the tire convoy to reach its distribution point; he's driving out to meet it on the road.  I suspect Oliver Queen's middle name is Karen.

If I were in a car with an ejector seat, being driven by Ollie Queen, I probably wouldn't sit down either.

Note the exact timing of events in the next panel, folks.

"You know what to do! I mean... don't you? You always do. Please tell me you know what to do, kid.  I don't need to know what it is; just do it, while I drive and dream about my new tires."

I'm guessing from the context (and the lack of an AAEEEIIIIIGH!) that this is a second or so truck derailed by the mirror, not the first one. But ask yourself what would have happened WITHOUT the mirror there, as Ollie, who we know is driving too fast, careens around the corner in his canary Kampfpanzer.  Odds are the trucks would have driven off the cliff TO AVOID THE ARROWCAR.

Anyway, as always, Roy takes care of the issue, while Ollie gawks like a tourist

Giant Mirror of Destruction is the name of my next quartet.  Always look to Golden Age comics for the name of your next quartet, they never disappoint.

Despite being amateur, first-time criminals, Angel's stooges immediately and intuitive realize that

...the real threat is the red-threaded kid and that only one of them is need to deal with Green Arrow.

They flee but leave behind a clue:

"That's it, Speedy! Their REAL racket is blackmarket Equity cards and this attack on the tire convoy is just a diversion! To the Arrowcave!"

Boy, the crooks (and writers) sure do make it easy on Ollie, don't they?  At this stage, Batman (an actual detective) was doing stuff like tracking down criminals from scraps of material from the clothing.  But Green Arrow writers know they need to literally hand Oliver a piece of paper with the criminal's name on it if he's to stand any chance (N.B., Roy is the one who found the clue, 'natch).

The next encounter is, literally, a Bright idea:  to rob a benefit at a Stage Door Canteen in New York.  

"We'll go in as instrumentalists; that way, no one will notice that we are hideously deformed."

As it happens, pre-internet Oliver and Roy are ALSO headed to New York City to visit Equity Headquarters in hopes of finding Richard Bright...

Monday, March 29, 2021

More Fun (without Green Arrow)

 Our story begins as all the best Green Arrow stories do: without Green Arrow.

And yet people are still booing.

Actor Richard Bright thinks people don't like him any more because his looks have faded, when the more obvious conclusion is that he was always a crappy actor who used to get by on looks.

Certainly not the kind of thing that would ever happen to Green Arrow.

So, instead of honing his craft and developing a second-stage career as a character actor, the inappropriately named Bright decides to go with the Sensational Cure-All of 1942: plastic surgery.

Paul Sloane would like a word with you, Richard, about keeping things in perspective.

Fortunately for Richard, Professor Angel, director of the world-famed Angel Hospital, is eager to help.

"Meanwhile, may I offer you some refreshments? Perhaps some Microscope Under Glass...?"

Unfortunately for Richard, Professor Angel's services are a total scam.

Professor Angel's chipper tsk-tsk smells like a signature saying.  Do we have a recurring GA foe in the making...?!

There's often a point early on in Golden Age stories where all common logic must be thrown out the window in order for the reader to proceed.  As in, what kind of crime can be more profitable than actually running a legitimate plastic surgery business?

"NOW I'm going to get RICH. I have a has-been pretty-boy actor at my disposal!"

So, these imprisoned saps in backless hospital gowns agree to their captor's demands to come up with some half-assed, cobbled-together crimes to make him richer than the owner of a plastic surgery clinic.

What better help could a criminal mastermind want than three random disfigured civilians with zero experience in doing crimes? It's foolproof, I tell you!

The first guy uses his expertise in trucking to help them hijack a rubber tire shipment.

It's the FRAME that really makes the mirror hilarious, like they borrowed it from Apache Chief's bathroom.  How much do you think that whole set-up cost? Less than a truckload of tires...?

Ah, the preferred target of Golden Age heists: SHIPMENTS. If you can't snap a payroll, go after a shipment (actually payrolls ARE shipments... of cash).  Golden Agers weren't lazy like you modern criminals, with your cryptocurrencies and micro-transactions.  They robbed big SHIPMENTS of STUFF, like rubber tires, to sell on the black market. 

Never forget that Two-Face was not above stealing shipments of chewing gum.

Shipments of random products were the cryptocurrency of the day.  And this particular day was during World War II where rubber was in high demand and short supply (what with the Japanazis having taken over most of the rubber-producing countries of the Pacific and the war effort requiring so much rubber for military vehicles and the like).  So, as ridiculous as stealing a truckful of tires sounds to us now, it make more sense at the time. Certainly more sense than chewing gum.

So, obviously the plan is to use the mirror to make the truck drivers think another truck is coming toward them, causing them to slam on the brakes; thus stopped, the truck drivers can be forced to disembark at gunpoint, with the thieves making off with a truckful of valuable tires.  All very tidy, and with no bloodshed!

Oh. Or that instead.

Oh, right; what was I thinking? This is the Golden Age, and body count MATTERS.  

Gotta say; that's an AWESOME scream. Poor Wilhelm!

"This is horrible!" says the guy whose idea it was to lower a giant mirror in front of an oncoming truck on a curvy cliffside roadway.  Some trucking expert he turned out to be; now, I guess, they'll just CARRY a ton of tires away by hand. What a haul!

Gotta admire Professor Angel's sang-froid about (indirectly) causing such a hideous accident and their potential booty lying in a flaming blood-covered heap of twisted metal at the bottom of a cliff; this guy definitely has the makings of a good long-term Green Arrow foe.–

As you may have already guessed, Professor Angel has three stooges to set up the standard Golden/Silver Age tripartite structure of encounters (1. Villain successfully steals and gets away; 2. Villain's theft is foiled but he still gets away; 3. Hero foils theft and captures villain).    This is the first encounter, but, this being a Green Arrow story, he's nowhere to be found and is probably lounging on his sofa watching--

Oh, gods help me...

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Let's Have Some More Fun

Let's have some more fun; specifically, More Fun #85.  

A lot of things happen in this comic: Dr. Fate takes a page off to go to medical school and become a doctor, Aquaman throws a polar bear at some seal poachers, the Spectre and Percival Popp teach us a lesson about something wholesome but overcomplex and murky, and Johnny Quick-- well, really, who cares what Jonny Quick did. 

But our focus is of course, the STAR of the issue: Green Arrow!

And by "Green Arrow" I actually mean Speedy. You know; the competent one.

Honestly points for the editor, who admits that Ollie and Roy will be getting high in this story.  And Mort Weisinger needs all the honesty points he can get.

I always find Golden Age stories more entertaining when I read the placards out loud. Try it! It's More Fun:

But I can't get through the title without breaking character.

The Man Who Reclaimed His Face
is, I'll own, a rather intriguing title. If you are not accustomed to reading ancient comic book placards, I shall translate (for I have a degree in such things): "an evil person disguised as a good person will use plastic surgery to ruin three guys' faces so as to blackmail them into doing crimes for him."  It's all very Golden Age; in those days crooks were always enacting expensive byzantine blackmailing schemes to force solid citizens to knock over hotdog stands (the economics of the Golden Age remain unclear to modern scholars).  The Golden Age also LOVED plastic surgery.  Remember when Killer Moth had plastic surgery to look like Bruce Wayne? Remember Dr. Ekhart, who fixed Harvey Dent's face?  Remember Sonny Blandish?!  Heck, this very issue has a Spectre story called The Man Who Changed Faces, whose plot also hinges on plastic surgery.

As many Golden Age stories as I read, and I'm still amazed by what I call their "PowerPoint" style. They start by giving you an overview of what will happen; then throughout the story, the captions tell you what is happening; and at the end, the hero recaps the story and tells you what happened.  On the one hand, it seems like overkill; on the other hand, I can read many a modern comic and have no damned idea at the end what happened.  I guess nowadays they figure that the solicits and internet post-commentary will take care of it.

Mostly what I get out of this splash page, though, is that this will be yet another story where Ollie saves Roy by shooting his shaft through his legs while Roy is bound hand and foot (just as he did in the Gayland story).  Arrow's gotta Arrow, after all.

Fortunately, they practice this a lot. In the Arrowcave.

The real mystery is: who are Cliff and Steve, who carved their names on the tower from which Roy is being defenestrated?

And what about... Naomi?!

Okay, fine, it's no mystery; it's penciller Cliff Young and inker Steve Brodie.  Unlike Green Arrow writers, Green Arrow artists aren't embarrassed to sign their work.

Although sometimes they should be.

Tomorrow, we start the story proper, but first, a secret message for you:

Hint: it's going to be oomphy!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Wonder Warrior

 Wonder Woman kills.

I am referring immediately to her actions in Zack Snyder's Justice League.  Really, it's more like Terminating With Extreme Prejudice.  

It's not the first time Wonder Woman has killed; I'm sure many of you will remember in comics when she killed Maxwell Lord (the Neck-Snap Heard Round the World).  

Someone is NOT a Keith Giffen fan.

Set aside Elseworlds stories and the like; and give her a pass on monsters, demons, and anything from mythology.  She's a Greek hero and killing monsters is just sort of what they do.

But ever since the neck-snap (retconned or not), there has been a 180 on depicting Wonder Woman (who can "make a hawk a dove" and "stop a war with love", you'll remember).  In the Golden Age, Wonder Woman was all about reformation of her foes.

Resemblance to Marlene Dietrich causes SO much war crime.

Naturally, that focus on reformation was all in the service of the "loving submission" of her strange creator's DISC theory. You can't prove that bondage is the key to happiness if you go around killing everyone.  But still, Wonder Woman was about doing things the hard way: trying to defeat your enemies philosophically rather than just doing away with them.  

Guess whose side Wonder Woman was supposed to be on.

Zeus knows I have made fun of Wonder Woman's strange creator, William Marston enough.

Okay, perhaps not "enough". Let's just say "a lot".

But, although a bit naive, his thesis (that war is mostly caused by men, and if they submitted their aggressive tendencies to someone more benevolent--women, in Marston's estimation--that would alleviate a lot of the world's violence) is non-absurd.  

Honi soit qui mal y pense.

He created the Amazon bracelets as reminders of the evil that happens when women submit to men and Diana's lasso as a symbol of the need for women to dominate men to control their aggressiveness.

Never forget that what is now usually called 'the lasso of truth' is in fact...

... the lasso of OBEDIENCE.

Marston's Wonder Woman certainly didn't hesitate to DOMINATE others, she did so not aggressively but responsibly. Mostly.  Nowadays, however, Wonder Woman doesn't have time to dominate you, and it's not politically palatable. So, now, she'll just kill you.  It's the Xena-fication of Wonder Woman, by which she has become a "warrior princess".  

Instead of the foe of War, Wonder Woman has become his heir.

It's not incomprehensible.  Unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman is rooted in World War II; she was fighting a war.  

Although she took frequent vacations.

And, in war, we understand that warriors kill and, for society's sanity, we don't hold them individually accountable for that.  Unless they are on the losing side, of course.  When we do see Wonder Woman kill its often in a warlike context, such as fighting off alien invaders.

Or, um, natty terrorists. Whom I am pretty sure Superman or Batman or Flash would have managed not to kill.

Also, for what it's worth, it DOES distinguish her from Batman and Superman (although probably not in a way her strange creator would approve of). It's no accident in ZSJL that Aquaman and Wonder Woman are teed up to deal the killing blow(s) to Steppenwolf, because it avoids having Superman or Batman do any killing.  Nor is this unique to Synder's vision; in comics Wonder Woman and Aquaman get away with a lot more bloodshed than their fellow leaguers.  

Do we excuse them because they are royalty?  Is killing a royal prerogative and if so what does that say about us?  It's notable that in James Wan's Aquaman, Arthur pointed choose NOT to kill his half-brother when, by all right and custom, he is not only entitled to but supposed to.  His choice makes the point that, well, that's part of why Atlantis sucks and he's here to change it.  

Sure kills me, though.

But as a result have we now entered a world where in the public consciousness, Wonder Woman is more likely to kill than Aquaman?  And is that a world we are comfortable living in?

Friday, March 19, 2021

I Was Wrong and I Apologize

I was wrong and I apologize.

Those are not easy words for me (or any man) to say; they are, perhaps, the HARDEST ones. But say them I must and as publicly as possible.

Now, I have been wrong before.  I was wrong when I thought that Americans would never voted bad actor Ronald Reagan into office as president.  I was wrong during Freshman Week when I thought that mug was made of heavy glass, rather than light plastic, and got a face full of milk as a result.   I was wrong 

But this time, I was wrong about a comic book something: specifically, "Zack Snyder's Justice League".

I was wrong for criticizing fans for misplaced enthusiasm, for holding on to an obvious fantasy that there was A Perfect Justice League Movie that they never got to see.  I was wrong for telling them, in my head, to shut their yaps, get over themselves, be glad they got anything, and move one.

I was wrong for thinking, "eh, that wasn't great, but it was okay," and that was all I should expect from a Justice League movie.

I was wrong to dismiss Ray Fisher's whining about his story and part being cut out of the movie.  I was wrong to think that no version of the film could possibly give each character their full due.

I was wrong to assume that Steppenwolf was inevitably underwhelming, wrong to be grateful that none of the rest of Kirby's Fourth World was involved.  

I was wrong to blame Ezra Miller for the overly-goofy interpretation of Barry Allen. I was wrong to blame Jason Momoa for an underdeveloped and inconsistent Aquaman.  I was wrong to think that Superman's resurrection was unavoidably incomprehensible.  

I was wrong not to understand that part of Wonder Woman's contribution was that, yeah, she will TOTALLY kill someone if need be.  

I was wrong to think there was no coherent underlying myth or message to the film. I was wrong to think a four-hour version of the firm would be tedious, undisciplined, and overindulgent.  I was wrong when I literally said to a friend last week, "If I hear one more word about the Snyder Cut, I am going to shoot someone in the face."

I was GLORIOUSLY wrong. And I learned this last night watching "Zack Snyder's Justice League", which I strongly encourage you to do as well. This WAS the film we and, more importantly, the Justice League deserved.  

[However, I was RIGHT to think that Joss Whedon sucks and his immature, too-clever-by-half highschooler writing is painfully embarrassing to watch.]

Sure, there were a few things I could have done without in ZSJL, such as some of the sappy musical choices and the pointless and awkward inclusion of Jared Leto's pathetic performance as the Joker in Snyder's ham-handed dream sequences designed to tee up films that will never be made.  But there was so much delight from the good additional material that that was easy to overlook. 

Such as:

  • the inclusion of the myth of Darkseid's original invasion of Earth, the gathering of forces that repelled him, the Anti-Life Equation, and how this history becomes a metaphor for the need to form the Justice League;
  • the much beefier and useful parts for the "sidekicks" (Alfred, Lois Lane, and Silas Stone; PARTICULARLY Silas Stone);
  • a host of on-camera explanations for things that simply had no context or logic in the Whedon version (such as Batman's energy-absorbing gauntlets);
  • much better consistency of tone, both for the characters and the story as a whole;
  • the joint character arc of the Leaguers as they must learn to trust and rely on one another;
  • how that arc is echoed in each of their individual arcs (Flash learning to trust himself, Aquaman learning that no man is an island, Batman the rational loner needing to build a team and to have faith, Cyborg coming to believe through interaction with others that he is not broken);
  • reminders that, unlike the others, Wonder Woman is a warrior and ("stop a war with love" notwithstanding) will totally and unhesitatingly KILL your ass if the situation calls for it;
  • a sensible explanation of WHY the Mother Boxes are where they are;
  • the Martian Manhunter, Ryan Choi, and Yalan Gur (of all people) being in and actually BELONGING in the movie (or, at least, in the world of the movie);
  • how the film balances making the League seem both achingly human and mind-bogglingly god-like (this is particularly true for Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg);
  • Mera being bad-ass;
  • Clark's butterfly and Barry's puppies;
  • MARTHA!;
  • Barry rescuing Iris (because of course it's Iris), which was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes;
  • the fact that the climax of the film allowed EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Leaguers to 'save the day' (because I was keeping score);
  • that one freeze frame, which was JUST enough not to raise the hairs on this comic book reader's arms without making me roll my eyes;
  • a non-cringeworthy version of Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor (who still manages, charmingly, to evoke Gene Hackman's version ... and fashion sense!).

There is more to tell, of course, but it would take too much time to context or be to spoilery, and I want you to experience it all for yourself, as soon as possible.

I was wrong and I apologize.

But I'm glad.