Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stan Needed To Recharge His Thesaurus!

For 3 consecutive issues in 1970...



Spider-villains did an awful lot of coming.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Perverse Discipline Of Professor Lang!

Lana Lang is working hard on her project to prove that Clark Kent is Superboy...apparently with charts and graphs and Powerpoint. (If she were a certain hack "explanatory journalism" site, she would bellow "40 Maps That Explain Why Superboy Really IS Clark Kent!")

Her father, the normally mellow and somewhat befuddled Professor Lang, isn't impressed:




It is interesting that his first reaction is to think of underworld figures ransacking the bedrooms of teenage girls, looking for their diaries or such...

Ah, but his delightfully disproportionate reaction?

Geez louise!?!

Phew indeed. Still, my scan of that panel will end being posted on many a special-interest tumblr, I'd wager...

But Professor Lang has other punishments at his disposal...



D'oh!!

(Note to modern readers: read as "I'm taking away your MP3 collection.")

OK, no dates and no records. That will teach her good.

(Note to modern readers: read as "I'm taking away your iPad.")

Fine. Surely she's punished enough now, right?

Great--you're going to starve her. Overreact much?

Man, I can't wait to see how he punished when she did something that was actually, you know, bad. It's a wonder Lana survived to her teenage years...

From Superboy #93 (1961)

If A Venusian Rock Decides Not To Float, Has It Still Made A Choice?

Superboy raises deep theological questions:

Wait a minute--rocks have free will?

A thousand graduate philosophy theses have just been launched...

From Superboy #93 (1961)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Best Covers That haven't Been Published Yet!

Check out the cover to November's All-New Invaders #12:

That cover is by Michael Komark. The story?

"In 1917, what brought together UNION JACK, IRON FIST, and FREEDOM’S FIVE? Would you believe…invading MARTIANS?!"

Yeah, I'm all over that. FYI, if you're curious about Freedom's Five, here's their bio. That's why I love what James Robinson is doing on this book...he's taking a one-panel throwaway idea by Roy Thomas and blowing it up into it's own thing---which is exactly the same thing that Roy Thomas himself did to other throw-away long-forgotten characters/concepts.

And then there's this:

That's the cover of Constantine #19, by Juan Ferreyra. The solicit, sadly, seems to have little to do with this image--the story is something about him going to Earth-2, because I guess pulling John Constantine from Vertigo means you embroil him in stupid crossovers.

Still, that's one heck of a bitching cover!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Manic Monday Triple Overtime--Rank Is Important!

As Cap and Sharon are escaping from a country nothing at all like North Korea...



You tell him, Sharon.

From Captain America #454 (1996)

Manic Monday Bonus--Someone Have Nate Silver Analyze This Poll...

In the letters page of Avengers #396 (1996), they printed the results of a poll of everyone's favorite Avengers:

Please note:

A) Hank Pym probably gets a somewhat unfair boost because of his multiple identities. Because, really, Hank Pym as the second favorite Avenger? I don't think I want to live in that world...

B) Clearly, the Vision IS radder than you think!!

C) How in the hell can you not have the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Beast on this list?!? How?!?! What is the matter with you, America? Oh, my stars and garters!

D) Given that the Hulk hadn't been an active Avenger for 23 years, #16-20 should be pretty embarrassed by their performance.

E) Wonder Man doesn't even make the top 20? Ouch, babe.

F) Quicksilver at #7? Really? I mean, there are Quicksilver fans out there? Who like him better than any other Avenger? What a strange world this is...

G) I see The Forgotten One lived up to his name...

H) I would have expected Janet to finish higher...

Manic Monday--How Many Times Can One Comic Book Misinform The Youth Of America?!

Where the hell to start with this story?

Superboy has been sent on a sort of super-scavenger hunt by a dying hunter who has threatened to blow up Smallville, so following the clues he ends up...

Well, see now, that is completely false, Kal-El. The etymology of the words "news" is fairly well known, and has nothing to do with compass directions. What are they teaching you at Smallville High?

Anyway, on the island:


Wait--that's not how it works, goofball!! Heating up the egg with super-vision doesn't make the embryo grow days more quickly!! Seriously, Clark Kent, what are your grades in biology?

Awwwwwwww....

But...

HOLD ON!!



TIME OUT!!!!!!

A flying penguin? A flying baby penguin? Any bird flying just after hatching?!?!?

Well, I would accuse this story of being aggressively anti-facts, but I guess seeing is believing:

Fly, baby penguin, fly!!

And then...

Look, I have no problem with making up fictional places for a comic book story. But really--a city "where everybody earns his living by making clocks"?? I doubt that's even economically feasible!

"Honey, let's go out to eat!" "Sorry, there are no restaurants--everyone here makes clocks, nothing else!"

No one collects garbage? No police, no medical care, no grocery stores?

OK, I'm being a jerk on this one.  But still...

No street cleaners? No newspaper? No schools?

Still, it makes more sense than flying baby penguins...

From Superboy #93 (1961)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spoiler Sunday--Unoriginal Sin

Look, we really have to talk about the abominable and head-shakingly awful Original Sin.

But to do so, I've got to spoil some major revelations from Original Sin #5 from last month, as well as this week's Original Sins #5.

So if you haven't read them yet, or are waiting for the trade, you'll probably want to come back later.

Spoiler-filled rant commences after the pictures of 5 original sins that are all better than Marvel's event...




SPOILERS commencing...now!

So the whole Original Sin debacle is supposedly about the death of The Watcher, and the theft of his eyes. Those eyes keep "exploding," releasing many of the deep, dark secrets Uatu has seen over the years. Blah, blah.

But what the series is really about is figuring out what to do with Nick Fury.

Not the new, younger, let's-cash-in-on-Sam-Jackson-as-Fury-even-though-he's-always-wearing-a-spandex-thing-that-Sam-Jackson-would-never-be-caught-dead-wearing guy. No, the problem Marvel has is, now that young Fury is around, and Maria Hill is entrenched as leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., what the hell do you do with the "old" Nick Fury?

The obvious answer is, you turn him into a genocidal villain.

Original Sin has Identity Crisis-envy so badly, I'm surprised that they haven't had Batroc violate Aunt May. The entire series is about deep, dark revelations of "sins" that make us reevaluate our heroes. Because who wants nice heroes when we can have folks who have violated our trust and their own morals? Besides, it's more fun to shit on characters...

So for older Fury, they've gone and rewritten/refocused history, like this:

In 1958, Fury and his Defense Intelligence squad stumble upon an alien invasion:

His guys are wiped out, but Fury (and Earth) are saved by the appearance of a mysterious flying, gun-toting dude:

Our savior dies in the fight, but not before he sends a bomb through the portal that destroys the entire alien world on the other side. The entire world:


Well, Howard Stark shows up, and expositions us. The dead hero was Woodrow McCord, the "man on the wall." (Don't bother looking it up--you've never heard of him before, and you will never hear of him again) You see, Stark and others have been scavenging lost alien technology for years (a la Torchwood...ahem) so they can protect Earth from the alien threats that they know are out there. And there is always one man--answerable to no one, who uses all the goodies to do whatever is necessary to save us all:


And since McCord is dead, we need a new "man on the wall," and Stark recruits Fury to be that man.

Q: Well, if the job is so important, why only have one man on the wall? Why not two, or three? A whole squad?
A: Don't ask sensible questions about nonsensical retcons!

Fury takes the job, moves operations to a super-secret stealth satellite, and begins to protect Earth.

How?

By assassinating alien leaders who lust after our planet:


By wiping out threats before they become so big that super-heroes might become involved:

By going all Guantanamo on captured aliens:

And, yeah, eliminating entire planets. Yes, ELIMINATING ENTIRE PLANETS:

Now, Fury did this while still working for the CIA, and then S.H.I.E.L.D., basically pulling a Peter Parker/Clark Kent and finding an excuse to run off whenever a cosmic-level threat reared its head. Seriously, we're shown him ditching an important briefing when he "forgot it was...my Aunt Matilda's birthday."

Eventually, though, Fury got himself a corp of LMD's who could cover for him when he was extincting entire species.

Also, the Infinity Formula in his blood stopped working, so he's ridiculously old now.

So any recent interactions with a Nick Fury who looks like he always have have most likely been with a Doombot LMD. This has the benefit of conveniently (and lazily) hand-waving away any difficult continuity questins that might arise from this silliness.

Of course, there are other questions:

Q: So where was the "man on the wall" during The Invasion? Why did he let the Skrulls invade?
A: Uhhh...

Q: Where was all-powerful Nick Fury during the Kree-Skrull War?
A: Uhhh....

Q: Hey, how come Nick Fury and his Howling Weapons Of Mass Destruction didn't stop Thanos' alien fleet during Infinity?
A: Uhhh...

Q: Hey, speaking of Thanos, the bastard has attacked Earth and thereabouts any number of times. He's precisely the type of thing Nick took the position to stop. And pro-active Nick has weapons capable of killing a Watcher--why didn't he just put a bullet in the Titan's head at any time, like he did to other alien threats?
A: Look, you're not playing fair by asking logical questions that we never thought about!

So, in other words, Uber-Fury saved Earth from countless cosmic threats--except the ones he didn't.

Now look, I understand that Jason Aaron is trying to give us a "subtle" critique of the American "neo-cons," and of many of the things the Bush administration did post-9/11.

All well and good (if not exactly timely). But why the hell do you have to shit all over Nick Fury to make that happen? I've read my fair share of Nick Fury comics, and I never got the sense that he was the type who would endorse, for example, killing every man, woman and child in Germany in order to stop the Nazis. Which is essentially what he's doing here, with his "watch entire races die screaming before they can attack us" protocol.

There are other characters in the Marvel Universe who might fit better into this role, if you insist on having it. Tony Stark is a fine example of an asshole I can see rationalizing all of this as OK. There are others. But why the hell spoil Fury? Why make him into a ruthless, evil version of Captain Jack Harkness? Only because you're trying to get rid of him in favor of the new younger guy.

Oh, but wait, there's more.

In this week's Original Sins #5--a tie-in series which tells shorts stories about folks dealing with the "sins" they learn about from the Watcher's eyes--we have a story which doesn't do that at all. Instead, they decide to ruin another favorite character!

In this one, Dum Dum Dugan offers to give Fury a transfusion of his blood, in order to "kickstart" the Infinity Formula in Fury's system. Hey, it's worked before with the Super-Soldier Serum, and, as Dugan points out:

Oh, dear. Nicky has to break some bad news to Dugan:


It turns out that Dum Dum died back in 1966--yes, nearly 50 years ago--after catching a random bullet in a raid on a Hydra complex.

Wait--then how have we been seeing Dugan in so many stories since then?



Ah. So every appearance of Dugan in the modern Marvel Universe--heading up S.H.I.E.L.D. squads, chasing Godzilla for two years, everything--has just been a LMD that thinks he's Dugan.

Fuck you, Marvel.

Anyway, this information causes "Dugan" to read Fury the riot act, and call him on all of his "I'm the only man who can do this so rules and morality don't apply to me" bullshit. Finally:


Once again, fuck you, Marvel.

We've twisted continuity past any reasonably breaking point, and pooped upon the legacy of two of Marvel's oldest characters. Why? All because you want to replace one of them with a guy who more closely resembles a movie actor.

You know, Marvel, if that's what you wanted, you just could have had elder Nick die, oh, I don't know, a heroic death. You didn't have to turn him into a self-justifying/deluding genocidal maniac and symbol for a decade-old political debate, while rendering decades of stories into so much unrecognizable sewage. Except, of course, you wanted to capture some of that Identity Crisis magic.

It is possible that, in the final issue of Original Sin, that they will reveal that "bastard Fury" is himself just another LMD, and the "real" Nick Fury will be found, or revealed to be long dead, or in some way not responsible for any of this. I don't believe in a minute that will happen, but hey, it's not out yet, so who knows?

Still, the damage has been done. The reader can now never take any previous appearance of Fury at face value--was it really him? An LMD? Following his secret bastard agenda? And if he somehow survives, well, we're in Doombot territory now--no one, reader or character, will ever believe it's the real article again. Ditto for Dugan.

Marvel has effectively taken every single story of two long-term characters and coated it with a slimy, cynical coat of "ha, you thought you were reading about heroes, but we know better, because we're more 'adult' and 'edgy,' you were fooled all those years hahaha" revisionism.

As much as I love comics, there are some days when I really hate comics. I think I'd better go read some Bandette....