Monday, June 27, 2016

Manic Monday Triple Overtime--Superman's Deadly Overreacton To Scofflaws!

It all starts with some seemingly innocent charity work...



Oh, dear. This isn't going to go well, is it?


Meanwhile, there's a fire, and 38 people are killed or injured trying to escape but tripping over Superman's "lesson."

While Superman was perpetrating this little lesson, 28 people died when a ferry capsized, 10,000 were left homeless in a Chinese earthquake, and Luthor took over the government. But at least Billy learned to be a little more thoughtful...

From The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #71 (1962)

Manic Monday Bonus--Licence To Criticize!

007 is on a mission in Los Angeles. He's just rescued a British operative whose cover has been blown, and after a bit of a gunfight, he's on his way to the airport with her...



Ooohhhh....sick burn.

When James Freakin' Bond starts attacking American gun policy, you know something's askew...

From James Bond #7 (2016)

Manic Monday--The Greatest Moment In Tony Stark History!!

Tony Stark has a little problem with long-time pal/chauffeur Happy Hogan:

See, thanks to a bit of drama that he walked into and misinterpreted, Happy is certain that Tony has been having an affair with Pepper Potts Hogan...


Well...

Oh, man. I've been waiting my whole life for that.

Can we see it again?

YESSSSSSSS.....

Well, OK, just one more time!

Oh, Tony, you've had that coming to you for so long...

From Iron Man #64 (1973)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

10 Ways To Fix The Flash TV Show Before Season 3

NOTE: There will be minor, and maybe even major, spoilers here, so if you haven't watched cwFlash season 2 yet, you might not want to read this. Like you ever want to read my ravings, anyway.

Let's start off by admitting that the title of my title post might be too broad. The Flash is a perfectly cromulent show; I watch it every week, it's been renewed for a 3rd season so someone likes it, and in general it's avoided the cringe-worthy darkness of the DC Cinematic Murderverse. So when I say "to fix" Flash, what I probably should have said is eliminate a lot of the show's tics that really annoy me and keep it from being a better show. But that would have been too long for a post title, so...

Feel free to disagree with me, because I am of course forbidden by national referendum from writing TV shows. But this is what I think...

1) Mirror Master.

Somewhere along the line, thank to Geoff Johns, Captain Cold was promoted to chief Rogue, and as a result he's had what, 6 or 7 episodes so far over two seasons? (I just looked it up--it's eight episodes so far!). Fine. Good on you, Len Snart.

But 46 episodes (plus crossovers) and not a single sign of the Mirror Master? What the hell?

They've shuffled Cold and Heat Miser Heatwave off to another show (they'll be back...). They've sent Grodd to an alternate Earth. They've reformed Pied Piper. They've killed the Turtle. They've killed Girder (twice). They let Captain Boomerang be an Arrow villain. Mark Hamill's probably too busy remaking A New Hope for the 3rd time to do much trickstering.

So there's plenty of room for classic rogues. So why no Mirror Master?

He's been on most of the DC Animated series. He was even on the freakin' 1990 TV series!!

Mirror Master and his relatively low-tech powers seem like a perfect match for the "we can do it cheaper than CBS" CW show.

So where the hell is he?

2) Prune the cast, and let Barry be a scientist again.

Most Berlanti shows are a bit overstuffed in their casts. It's easier to have lots of people stand around talking than actually having stuff happen.

But the Flash really bursts the seams. There are too many cast members!!

And the worst part is, too many of them are scientists. And far better scientists than Barry Allen.

The opening monologue (again, a requirement for any Berlanti show, because the audience is too dim to pick up on the premise of a super-hero show without a weekly reminder of that premise) tells us that Barry is a "scientist."

The problem is, there are always at least three other scientists on the show at all times, and they're ALL smarter than Barry. Apparently, setting the HQ at S*T*A*R Labs means the show is contractually obligated to have at least three scientists in the control room at all times, talking in Barry's ear because he's not smart enough to figure out the tiniest problem without their guidance.

Amongst the brainiacs manning the control room this season were Cisco, Caitlin, Harrison Wells-2, Jesse Wells, Martin Stein, Felicity Smoak, Jay Garrick (well, whom we thought was Jay Garrick, and it is fascinating how a deranged serial killer was suddenly smart enough to be a super-scientist, but hey, comics), Christina McGee...I'm sure I missed a few. Barry even had to time travel back to last season to consult Harrison Wells-1/Eobard Thawne on some science.

And so every time--every single damned episode--scientist Barry Allen is completely baffled by the latest villain's powers/scheme until the brain trust chimes in on his earpiece something he really should have thought of himself. And because we have to service the needs of this immense cast of scientists we've put on the show, one or more of them have to be the one to solve the problem while Barry runs around futilely, and we end up with our star being probably the 5th or 6th smartest character on his own show. He's lost a lot of his agency as a lead character.

Contrast this with Barry's guest spot on Supergirl. There was no one to talk into his earpiece. Suddenly, he was the smartest guy in the room, he was getting to do the scientific lectures and build things and solve problems. He was suddenly brash and confident, things he's not allowed to be on the Flash because then all those actors you've hired would have nothing to do every week.

[It should be noted that the Supergirl show suffers from this, as well. There's really no reason Kara Zor-El should need someone in her ear to talk her through a fight, or need to have a federal SWAT team accompany her on every mission...]

So get rid of S*T*A*R labs (how do they even afford to keep the lights on there, anyway? Do they actually do anything, produce anything, sell anything?). Send a couple of our boffins on extended vacations, or send them off to Star City. Focus more on Barry as forensic scientist. Let him solve problems himself.

Let Barry Allen be Barry Allen.

3) Mirror Master.

Did I mention him already?

4) Enough with the time travel already.

Look, it's a TV show. It's a super-hero TV show. So we know there's going to be some scientific illiteracy and downright foolishness on hand.

But these writers have no idea what they're doing with time travel. They have no idea what their rules are, even from episode to episode. And it's become worse than Christopher Reeve turning the globe backwards because there was a bad outcome, because The Flash does it again. And again. And again.

They keep changing the premise--changing the time line will cause bad things. Except when it won't. But then it does again. Changing his past makes Reverse Flash never have existed--except everything he did and said still happened. Oh, and then it didn't wipe him out of time, anyway. Because.

It's also become a fairly reprehensible deus ex machina, as at least three times in season two, including the climax of the whole season, we've seen characters killed only to be told later that it was a "time remnant," which basically means you let a "younger" version of yourself die in your place while you continue merrily along with no ill effects (and apparently not changing the timeline because...?)

It's lazy, terrible storytelling. And we're stuck with it, because of what happened in the season finale--the season 3 opener is allegedly named "Flashpoint." But for heavens' sake, let that be an end to it.

Also, nothing in the world is more offensive than continually saying that running at Mach 2 is enough to break the time barrier. That's so stupid, even DC Science mocks it as being unbelievable.

5) Abra Kadabra

Despite what I said about time travel above, I'm willing to make an exception for Abra Kadabra. 64th century technology that's indistinguishable from magic? A hackneyed showman determined to prove that he can entertain with his hackneyed tricks? Made for TV. And if they can turn Barry into a puppet...

[Extra bonus points if you can get Penn and/or Teller to play Abra Kadabra]

6) Good lord, enough with the brooding already

It is not at all fair for me to say, "Good god, Barry Allen, get over your dead mother already!!"

But then again, the show itself has done that already, dedicating an entire episode to the Speed Force itself telling Barry that the only way he'll be the best hero he can be is to "let her go."

I'd call that a nice bit of self-aware meta-commentary there. Except just 2 episodes later, Barry gets all melancholy again, and goes back in time (again) to save her (again). Apparently the show's creators don't pay any attention to what they've just written 2 weeks ago...

Obviously, it's a diktat from Geoff Johns (and DiDio, and Jim Lee), that heroes must have tragedy in their history in order to be heroes. And sure, that works fine for Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne. But must every hero be motivated by tragedy? Aren't most real-life heroes motivated by, well, just wanting to do the right thing? Not to Johns, who retconned Flash to have his mother murdered and his father framed for it, and for Hal Jordan to watch his father die in a plane crash. Yay, super-heroes are fun!

Anyway, The Flash show obviously adopted that mantra, to the nth degree. Even Batman doesn't genuflect to his dead parents this much! If Bruce Wayne were to watch this show, he'd say "Jesus, Barry, get over it!" To have Barry this mopey, and continually wallow in his family tragedy, does not make for a better hero or a more entertaining show.

Check out this fact: Nora Allen, as played by Michelle Harrison, has appeared in 11 of the episodes so far. Despite being dead, she's been in nearly 1/4 of the episodes broadcast! Flashbacks, time travel, time travel again, Speed Force ghost, time travel yet again, yada yada.

Even if you buy the necessity for the tragedy of his mother to motivate Barry Allen, he should have other motivations, shouldn't he? And you shouldn't constantly bring it up again and again every week, should you?

Find some other stories to tell.

7) Mirror Master

Hey, let me tell you about this really cool villain...

8) Enough with rival speedsters as the Big Bad

I mean, come on now, guys. Exercise that imagination a little more.

9) Enough with the murdering and incarcerating villains

Last season, Wells-2 straight-up murdered Turtle in cold blood. Turtle was locked in a cell, powerless, and Wells killed him to take a sample from his brain. And the only consequence, literally, was that his daughter was mad at him for awhile. That is seriously f&*^%d up.

That's what happens when you can detain defeated crooks with no due process, locking them in an ersatz prison with no trial, no judge, no jury, no rights. There's nothing to stop these guys from taking the next step to executioner, and obviously some of our cast have no qualms about taking that step. And even worse, our hero apparently doesn't have anything whatsoever to say about the issue, except to shrug--another consequence of not being as smart as his supporting cast, and having little agency.

Build an Iron Heights set, CW. And let's punish murderers, OK?

10) I bet you thought I was going to bring up Mirror Master again, right?

You're right...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Two-Gun Kid's Theme Song!!

Hey, look, it's the Two-Gun Kid, and the jaunty tune he sang in many an issue:

More Marvel heroes need theme songs, methinks.

Oh, and this is not the Two-Gun Kid you're most familiar with. Nope, it's not Matt Hawk, lawyer by day, vigilante the rest of the time, the guy who hung out with Hawkeye and came to live in the 20th century for a time.

[By the way, when the hell do we get a Matt Murdock/Matt Hawk team-up story? Where an Avengers battle with Kang leaves Daredevil stranded in the olde west, and circumstances force him to have to pose as Matt Hawk in court during a big trial. Meanwhile, Matt Hawk in the present must pose as DD to prevent a crime wave, but he has no idea how to use a billy club, so the underworld goes nuts now that Daredevil is carrying guns, and...OK, again we see why I'm not allowed to write comics.]

No, this is the original Two-Gun Kid, Clay Harder, who, starting in 1948, had a 14 year run in Timely/Atlas Western comics. It wasn't until 1962 that Stan and Jack, with absolutely no explanation whatsoever, reinvented the character as the mask-wearing Matt Hawk we know:

But Matt Hawk never had a theme song!

So sing along at home, kiddies, and strike terror into the hearts of owlhoots everywhere!

From Two Gun Kid #41 (1958) as reprinted in Mighty Marvel Western #44 (1976)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Night Filosophy--But What Does "Dead" Mean, Exactly?

From the Ask The Answer Man Column in Karate Kid #13 (1978):

Bob Rozakis just laid a heavy truth bomb on you, folks...

Friday Morning Freak-Out--An Unpopular Opinion!!

As these images blow out your tiny human brains this morning...

...let me be completely clear about one thing.

Many of you will disagree with me...

...and maybe it's just the Marvel fanboy in me speaking...

But Kirby's Eternals was better than the New Gods.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tales From The Quarter Bin--The Shadow of Riverdale?!?

There have been a lot of portrayals of The Shadow over the years...




...but none quite like the Archie Comics version!!

Wha...?

When Archie picked up the licence in 1963, they played it more or less straight for oneissue:

But it didn't take long for them to decide they would rather make it a super-hero comic than a pulp crime series:

And when Jerry Siegel took over as writer, well, all connection to the past sort of vanished, as the book tried harder and harder to look like Marvel comics of the day:


Hey, who needs powers of hypnosis and mind control and a blood-curdling laugh...

...when you can have utility belt gadgets and quips!

Hell, the book even mocked the very idea of the "old" Shadow:

Still, you can't argue with Shiwan Khan's death traps:



Archie's The Shadow ended after 8 issues, leaving a cliffhanger unresolved, and mankind will never know if he ultimately triumphed over the insidious Elasto!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Golden-Age Idol--The Roll-Your-Own Super-Hero!!

When you go spelunking through as many old comic books as I do, you find some weird heroes. I mean some really, really batshit crazy stuff.

But there's nothing as weird as this guy:

Hmmm...OK. Aside from glorifying how many bones he breaks, this guy doesn't seem that weird.

Just wait.

Police detective Nosey McGinness has a real problem:


Cigars are too damn expensive!!

But he has a plan:

Uhhh...

McGinness, that sounds highly poisonous (more so than the tobacco itself!)



Wait a minute...

WHAT THE HELL????!?




WHAAAAAAATTTTTT?!?!

Well, Nosey gets himself caught and beat-up by some crooks he put away once...but fortunately, he's able to trick them into smoking one of his special cigars!





However...




This is sooooo strange...



What. The. Hell. Was. That?

A hero, who is apparently some kind of genie (?), summoned when you smoke a ridiculous roll-your-own (toxic) cigar recipe? Good gravy, try to make that happen in comics (or a movie) today, and you'll be tarred and feathered!!

But it's even weirder than that. Because this is how Nightmare started out:

Back in 1943, pro wrestler Bob White put on a glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume and teamed up with his "kid manager" to fight crime as Nightmare and Sleepy. Because wrasslin'!!

Well, 6 issues later they decided to re-dress our duo in more standard super-hero togs:

Then, between issue #12 & 13, something happened. With not even a hint of a scintilla of an explanation, Nightmare went from being a costumed wrestler crime-fighter to a cigar-summoned genie crime-fighter. It was the same costume...was it the same guy? How could that have happened? Was he somehow cursed to live in terrible cigars?!?!?

And the "genie" version of Nightmare only appeared in one more story, and then was never heard of again. What happened--were the cigars all used up? 

And that's why we need to revive this character--so someone can write a story explaining this to me!!

From Clue Comics #2 (1943), #11 (1946), #13 (1947)