Thursday, August 31, 2023

Ten Things I'm Sick Of

 1. "Bat" & "Cat". It's a stupid, childish attempt to Sound Cool.

Zdarksy. Of course.  Who else would think imitating Tom King is a way to sound cool?

2 & 3.  Japanese Manga's weird fetish/obsession for nymphettes in sailor costumes and Corgis/Shiba Inus.
It's creepy in its relentlessness. Why can't they fixate on circus boys in swimming trunks, like normal Americans?

4. The continued Wink&Nod sexualization of Catwoman.

"Uncovered"; oh, it's not naughty ambiguity, it's a genuine exploration of her as feminist anti-hero icon, blah blah blah.  At least in the Golden Age when she wore a split-skirt and plunging neckline, they were more honest about it.

5. Yaoi.
Look, I suppose we gay people have a right to creepy trash as much as anyone, but I don't have to like it.  If this stuff is even FOR gay people, rather than just female readers who get off on watching male characters treat other male characters as badly as female characters are usually treated.

6 & 7. G'nort. And "swimsuit issues".
Who is this FOR?! People who fetishize grown-up circus boys in swimming trunks?

You know, the Fat Funny Friends of the Golden Age may be mostly gone, but don't convince yourself that the contemporary equivalent, the Lore-Riffing Parody Meta-Character (I'm looking at you, Dr. Quinzel) is any way more sophisticated (OR funny).

8. Oh So Clever Parodies/Satires/Homages that try to excuse themselves by lampshading that that's what they are.

Although ever time you DON"T lampshade it, some fool who missed the joke will inevitably start to take it seriously (e.g., Lobo, Sentry, the Extremists, the Watchmen), and, inevitably, that will include not just readers but writers.

9 & 10.  Chip Zdarsky and The League of Overused XXXtreme Batman Tropes.

"Batman descends on Gotham City, full of rage and force, more driven than ever to save his home. But the new landscape has turned friends into foes. Can anyone stop his reign of terror? Should they? The Gotham War continues in this second chapter!"

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Not Today

 I am not a big fan of Wally West (although I have nothing against him).

But I AM a FAN of Mark Waid, who actually made Wally WITTY, not just a goofball.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Blue Beetle: La Pellícula

 I saw Blue Beetle today, and enjoyed it.

Some of the beats were a bit worn for me. "!FAMILIA!" is nearly inevitable for a film with Jaime Reyes at the center, but has "FAMILY IS EVERYTHING!" beaten to death as a pop culture message in the last 15 years, or what?

Pictured: The Supreme Importance of Family

Even WITHOUT "The Fast & Furious" films. Really, you can't have followed any longer-form pop culture saga without this theme having been anviled on your head incessantly.  Gods help you if you don't Have Family, because It's The Only Thing That Matters, and so most popular narrative is designed to make you feel like you have NOTHING.

When you love your family so much,
you have to marry them.
BTW, only two of three people in this picture survive the ceremony.

It's convenient for long-form narrative, because it lets writers define their cast of characters As A Family and then justify anything around that.

And you don't abandon family,
even if they aren't perfect.

This is why it is so overused.  BUT it's a theme that actually DOES belong in Blue Beetle, where it is handled, well, not subtly, certainly, but solidly.  

As for the rest of the film, 

The CGI was good and believable, which is impressive given how difficult the Blue Beetle III concept is to visually represent.  The film also has the coolest set of stairs since The Exorcist.

Which are quite vertiginous, btw.

Jaime and the other characters were likable and (broadly) believable (except for the villains, who were neither).  

Having a likable and believable hero as your protagonist should not be taken for granted.

The characters are pleasant enough, if a bit stock-y: the Saintly Supportive Father, the Weepy Attentive Mother, the Perky Nana, the Sassy Sister. I missed Paco Testas and Brenda Del Vecchio, who I (and even CBR) think of as Jaime's real supporting cast.

They were sacrificed in favor of family, because family is all.

The plot was pretty tight (if vague: the Scarab doesn't seem to me like something Whose Code You Can Download, but many hands were waved in the making of this film) and proceeded at a good clip; I never felt the movie dragging at any point.  Except in the Afterlife, but you know how leisurely people in the Afterlife are.

Blue Beetle history fans have every reason to be pleased, given how accurately and respectfully Dan Garret (Blue Beetle I) and Ted Kord (Blue Beetle II) are incorporated into the plot.  

I mean: Ted Kord foe CARAPAX? Who expected THAT?!

Delightfully, even though Ted doesn't appear, his tech DOES and it is very satisfying, because it represents him perfectly. It's goofy, amazing, impressive, and not always reliable.  As one of the characters says, "He was like Batman, but with a sense of humor."  Ted Kord doesn't cast a shadow on the movie, he shines a light on it.  This is perhaps the film's most impressive feat.

Fans of broader Ted Kord lore should pay very close attention to where his daughter is from.  True fans will understand the significance of it.

It's pretty sweet.

The film even climaxes on Pago Island.  I didn't expect that amount of comics-accurate respect.

That one; in the DCU.
Not Pago Pago; that's in Samoa.

Mercifully, while the film includes much Blue Beetle history, it spares us any mention of The Reach or The Bleed, which have always been tedious with their Invader Zim bit. The Scarab is "alien combat tech", period.

There are plenty of familiar (and familial) aspects of Latin culture (even more specifically, Mexican) that those in the know will be tickled by (I was slain when the film embraced The Red Grasshopper).  It also does a good job of reminding us that the old people in your life have entire decades of living underlying them that you just know nothing about.  

At the cinema I saw the film at

The Alamo Drafthouse, which has really made Going To The Movies a special treat again.

a trailer interview with Blue Beetle's director (Angel Manuel Soto, famed chronicler of Menudo) ran before the film that was elucidating.  What struck me most was his understanding that shifting the setting from El Paso (where Jaime originally was in comics) to a fictionalized version of that city ("Palmera City") is a "promotion" for Blue Beetle, because tentpole heroes in the DCU have Their Own Cities and lesser ones generally do not.  It's one of the most clear reinforcements of one of my favorite concepts, the idea that The Fictionopolis matters and it's one of the DCU's advantages over the Marvelverse.

Palmera City was created FOR the film, but appeared in comics at least half a year earlier, because comic books not written by Frank Miller come out faster than movies do.

P.S. Because sometimes The Fat Funny Friend is FAMILY, the film has George Lopez in it. Prominently. But I still recommend that you see it, which is high praise, indeed.

Tragically, his character survives.  
Truly, a failed promise.

How To Dress Like Speed Saunders: The Basics

 First and foremost you need the puce Glenurquhart Estate Check suit (or at least the jacket).

God bless Calvin Klein

Since no one would be caught dead wearing a tieless cutaway collar, let alone one in Cubicle Blue, I can only assume this is a mannequin, rather than a corpse.

Don't wear the jacket with TAN pants like this, not even if you are dead. Pair with solid black slacks; the inker will thank you for it.

If you want to go the whole nine yards, wear the whole suit. This should be reserved for full-body scenes like standing outside a building.

Sure it costs more, but it's worth it just for the Summoning Authority Figure scenes.

OBVIOUSLY, a pocket square is required. It must be white, in a two-point fold. Do not accouter it with a flat-line pocket square, as this unshaven fool has. There as many possible errors in this regard as there are pocket folds.

ONLY ONE of these is permissible. 

Remember, Speed Saunders is stylish, but not a DANDY.  He employs only the classic double-peak fold, distinguishing himself the single-peak-wearing clod (such as your Slam Bradley types) and the triple-peaked clowns (like Bentley of Scotland Yard).

Bentley, who wears white socks and brown shoes
with an undeserved blue double-breasted. Ugh.

A THREE-PIECE double-breasted.
Ugh; Bentley. Why hasn't anyone arrested YOU?!

No, the only choice for a Speed Saunders outfit is the two-point, thus:

I include this diagram for those of you who did not manage to acquire this knowledge at the orphanage or Reform School for Boys.

Wear these with any WHITE point-collar (and ONLY a point-collar) dress shirt.

Men's Dress Shirt Collar Types | The Various Styles Explained – Nimble Made
Remember, if you wear it with a button-down collar, the authorities have orders to shoot you on sight.

Off-setting the expense of the jacket/suit is the reverse-barbershop (black and red) tie, which can be gotten for a song.

Note that they could not even find a corpse or mannequin that would monstrously wear this knot with a spread collar thus. *shudder*

N.B. This tie MUST be Bendy Sinister.  If it is BENDY, rather than Bendy Sinister, children will point and mock, ladies avert their gaze, gentlemen shake their heads, and all members of the Speed Saunders Aficionados Club will deny you food, water, shelter, and witty conversation, and you will be subject to their pitiless Faces of Judgement. Furthermore, Metropolitan Libraries will be within their rights to forbid you entry.

Finally, the hat, which, always remember is to be one WHENEVER one is outside or soon to be outside. Do not remove your hat if you have to just tesseract inside for one or two panels to question someone.  It wastes too much time.

You will need TWO hats; a summer-weight orange trilby and a winter-weight orange trilby (if you don't already have them).

I am embarrassed for the sellers who were driven to nonsensically call it a "trilby fedora" because their customers are Americans or philistines.

NOT a fedora; a trilby.  We are Ace Investigators, not the Crimson Avenger. 

And that's it! So simple! You are now ready for your Speed Saunders cos-play.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Glass of Poison, Part Six; ALMOST too late, I guess!

We left Speed and Saunders-Girl yesterdayin a Lacquer Lake cabin, at the mercy of "Big Shot" Bettini, unproved murderer of author Philippa Rowen. Ever-polite Bettini makes a oddly highlighted offer to Speed...

In all the zillions of comics I have read, this is literally the ONLY time I have ever seen text in a word balloon highlighted in this fashion.  Whatever innovation you imagine, it was probably done first in a Golden Age comic you just haven't seen it yet.


Suspicious of the highlighting, Speed, realizing that time is of the essence and determined not to be Too Late again, takes the liberty of SKIPPING VOWELS to get to the point.


NOW Speed has all the evidence he needs, so all HECK breaks loose!

Speeds distracts the villains by trapping them inside an enforced choreographic reproduction of Pablo Picasso's recently painted Guernica, NOW IN COLOR!

Bettini is the Bull; I think Speed is the Horse.
Red-stripe guy is the Floaty Face.

In the scuffle, Speeds takes advantage of his superior knowledge of contemporary art (gleaned no doubt from book in the Metropolitan Library or under the tutelage of his cousin, Slow Saunders, Ace Art Restorationist), to (somehow) regain his pistol and control of the situation...

just in time for the arrival of FRANK, the Safety Patrolman whom he earlier engaged as backup.

"You are worthless, Frank.  If it weren't for my weird fetish for burly strong-jawed mustachioed authority figures in leather sashes, I'd shoot you right now on the spot."

Speed remands the villains into Hank's strong, if tardy, hands, and prepares to be asked for: THE SPEEDSPLANATION!

Betty knows she has ONE job in this strip. It's STUPID, but she's going to do it.


makes sense. Like, completely.  

I mean, it's still unclear just how Bettini casually visited Phillippa Rowen and convinced the woman poised to destroy his reputation utterly to have a drink and a cigarette with him, but... it's 1938.  People didn't do ANYTHING without having a drink and a cigarette.  

But for a Speed Saunders plot it makes a SHOCKING amount of sense.  And we were actually given all the clues we needed to figure it out.  Lipstick on the body but not on the glass; Speed insisting that the glass be siphoned not poured (lest the LACK of lip marks be obscured by pouring). Sure, it would have been fairer if you'd seen an ashtray (not the used cigarette, which Bettini surely took with him) with the body, but, again, it's 1938; there's an ashtray EVERYWHERE.

Speed fooled us all by giving us a pretty fair chance of solving the mystery. Speed always wins.

Monday, August 21, 2023

The Glass of Poison, Part Five: Speed Arrives Too Late and Just In Time

As we anticipated, Speeds arrives too late (as in tardy) to save Betty Palmer, confidant of Speed's late (as in dead) downstairs neighbor, author Phillippa Rowen, from being kidnapped by gangster "Big Shot" Bettini.

That panel belongs in a gallery. If Roy Lichenstein had ever encountered a Speed Saunders comic, we would live in a very different world indeed.

With characteristic Golden Age respect for saving shoe leather, we smash-cut right to Speed speeding away in the Speedmobile, which he somehow recovered after taking a subway and a taxi to Betty's place.

"I do wish Cousin Slow had gotten around to putting the top back on the car, for it is often cold there by Lacquer Lake!"

Why does Speed know that Bettini has a cabin on Lacquer Lake? Because it saves time, of course. Once he arrives at Lacquer Lake via swift traveling, he uses one of his special powers: conjuring a mustachioed mono-syllabically-named Safety Patrol officer as back up.

I envision this scene as performance utterance.  It isn't that Hank is there which causes Speed to speak. It is Speed's speaking that happens first, causing Hank to be there. It's how Speed creates the world; before his promotion to Ace Investigator, he was
 יהוה .

Speeds deduces (decides, really) that Betty is in Bettini's cabin because the lights are on. 

But, Speed, what if the lights are on but nobody's home? That would be pretty on point for a Speed Saunders' foe.

Just in time to save Betty from the old Injury To The Eye Motif, Speed arrives at the cabin... 

ot bad, Speed. "Up with 'em, Bettini" ALMOST sounds like English.

where Bettini is playing "poke her" with some friends and hoping Betty folds rather than call his bluff. Then Speed closes the case by arresting Bettini for murder against the background of the world's largest piece of red velvet cake.

Have you deduced yet why Speed had Phillippa's champagne glass SIPHONED empty of its contents, rather than poured out? There's still time.

Oops! Speed's arrest is cut short when one of Big Shot Bettini's goon gets the drop on him with a Tommy gun.

"And don't try none of that fancy Face o' Judgement crap on me, neither. Keep yer mug right where it is."

Bettini 'oh-ho-ho's condescendingly at Speed, still affecting a gentlemanly air that contrasts with his pug-ugly puss.

You can tell he's a bad guy because he's smoking a cigarette.  Good guys only smoke teeny pipes.

 Tomorrow: Speed is tommy-gunned to death and the torture of Betty resumes. Perhaps.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Glass of Poison, Part 4: Unwarranted Danger

When last we left Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator, he was rummaging around in a(n alleged) gangster's mansion to look for some evidence tied to the poisoning death of exposé author Phillippa Rowen, while his latest sidekick Saunders-Girl (a.k.a. "Betty") holds a gun on said gangster.  It's a bit extreme, but all things are permissible in the Saundersverse in the interest of time and it's not like Speed really needs a warrant.  As the old Ace Investigator saying goes, "A Whim is as good as a Warrant."

Does he find something? Of course he does; he's Speed Saunders and doesn't have time NOT to find something.  And where? The same place he usually does: IN A BOOK.

Well. Isn't that convenient.

Pro tip for murderers manqués; don't underline your murder methodologies as if you're studying for your Social Studies final.  It just MIGHT seem suspicious.

What WOULD Speed do without BOOKS?  They contain all information, all clues, all answers.  I suppose nowadays Speed would spot a "bookmark" on a computer, labelled "prussic acid" and linking to a page on  

Does Speed reveal the info he has discovered? Of course not; Speed always keeps info to himself until the last panel, when it all spills out in the info-dump of the Speed-splanation.  

"Thank you, Shoeshine Boy; you're humble and loveable."

Yes, thank you, Speed Saunders. For breaking into my home, accusing me of murder, and holding me at gunpoint while you ransacked my house for evidence against me.  Please, sir; may I have another.  Bettini is clearly bucking for admission into the Golden Age Gentlemen Gangsters Hall of Fame, along with Broadway Bates and Hapsu.

You'll notice, over time, that the moon is ALWAYS full in a Speed Saunders story, which implies that Speed only solves one crime a month and only has 24 hours to do so.  It explains a lot.

Then Speed, moving fast as is his wont, asks Saunders-Girl to stay the to-night.

"That way, you'll have to come and get ME."
Speed Saunders makes James Bond look like an arthritic tortoise.

A lot happens between panels in a Speed Saunders story, that's all I'm gonna say here.

What the--?!

There's a lot to unpack from this panel.  

First, Speed really DOES have only one (non-skiing) outfit: a puce Glenurquhart Estate Check, that Reverse-Barberpole tie, and an orange trilby.  

Second, Speed has an "office" somewhere, which I don't believe for a minute.  My theory is that Speed ALREADY, between panels, accompanied Saunders-Girl ("Betty") back her place from his and he is now RETURNING to his office (which is within his apartment).  Why is he taking the subway, which is highly uncharacteristic of Speed Saunders, you ask? Because he drove her home in the Speedmobile and then ABANDONED IT, which is highly characteristic of Speed Saunders.  Probably left it with his adoptive cousin, Slow Saunders, Ace Auto-restorationist, to have the top of the car re-attached.  

Third, something really bad is about to happen. How do I know this? Because Speed is on public transportation and the only narrative reason for that is: TO SLOW SPEED DOWN.  He's about to be "too late (or just in time) to stop something" and the only way make someone who can shadow-travel and tesseract "too late" for anything is to impede them with obstacles; it's just like in a Flash story.  

Hm. So I guess Phillilpa Rowen was a NOVELIST rather than an exposé writer and to write a .. crime novel (?) she gathered ...  incriminating intel about real-life gangsters (?), who, um, were going to be portrayed in her novel with character expies, and... yeah, I give up.  That's ... just not what novelists do.  That's more like what exposé reporters do and we know they exist in the Saundersverse because Speed's reading one of the right now. 

How on earth a news-writer knows that Rowen had intel on Bettini and that Betty The Secretery (sic) also had access to it -- that I do not know.  This is literally the day after Rowen was murdered, so the news-writer didn't Find This Out, they already knew it.  Maybe.... Rowen was planning on giving the info to the exposé writer, but didn't get to do so because she was murdered? That's really the best I can do with this.

Speed likes apostrophes.  Even unwarranted ones.  Or maybe he just likes unwarranted things, like all his searches of other people's property.

Speed HATES death warrants, because Speed hates ALL warrants, so he has to put a stop to this!

Speed commandeers a uniformed person's vehicle, which is one of his hobbies.  That, Oriental lore, and goldfish.

Saunders speeds to rescue Saunders-Girl! WILL HE BE TOO LATE?!

Tomorrow: Speed is Too Late.