Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Night Fights--Albino Gorilla Style!!

A madman has transplanted his mind into the body of an albino gorilla, and is on a murder spree in Gotham City. What do you think is gonna happen?

Leave my monkey aloneNow, despite what you long-time nerds are thinking, this is NOT the Ultra-Humanite that Batman is fighting. No, this is the other DC villain to transplant his mind into an albino gorilla, Xavier Simon. You've never heard of him? Hey, don't ask Jim Starlin questions when he's on a roll!!

How to beat the gorilla? First, Batman needs an equalizer.

Batman pulls Excalibur from the stone...Then, let the beat down begin:

Batman spanking the monkey...And yet, somehow, Batman doesn't finish him?

...the monkey spanking BatmanNope. So how does the Caped Crusader get out of this one?

Well, he doesn't, really. A private security guard shoots Simon in the back, creating some great sound effects, and a terse thanks from the Dark Knight.

Wait...Batman didn't win?Hmmm, that's not the way we usually end things here for a Friday Night Fights. Kind of a downer, huh? Batman doesn't even beat the bad guy. Whatever shall we do?

Now that's more like itThank you, Batgirl!!

'Twas Bahlactus that killed the Beast, or the albino gorilla, or whatever...

Batman's colossal failure (as well as Batgirl's triumph) is shown in Detective Comics Starring the Batman Family #482. Now if only we could get Batman one on one with the Ultra-Humanite...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bold Fashion Choices--Lois Lane Edition

Those of you who are sensitive, or easily put into comas or seizures, might want to avert your eyes from what comes next. Because, man, we are dipping back into the '70s for this monstrosity:

The cover that inspired What Not To WearI did warn you. Let's go to the close-up, Monstrobot:

I don't think Woodward or Bernstein dressed like this...Man. I mean, like, wow. Uh, Lois...did you ever think that the reason Superman is running away from you just might have something to do with that outfit you're wearing?? I mean, good wonder they want to kill you!!

In fairness, the outfit Lois wears inside the actual story isn't quite so hideous (not that that is saying much):

One would think chloroform wouldn't work, since that dress could wake the deadDon't let your guard down, troops: Lois has many more fashion flops that we'll be covering in future days. But this...this has got to be the worst, right?

Your bonus Superman panel of the day:

Apparently, 'hombre' cannot be translated into EnglishSuperman with an eyepatch...there;s a concept I can get behind.

Lois' outfit, which resulted the addition of several articles to the Geneva Convention in order to ban torture by mod outfit, is from Lois Lane #120, 1972.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's About Time Somebody Said It

Thank you, Warren Worthington III.

Panels of someone finally speaking the truth to naive super-brat Amadeus Cho appears in Incredible Hulk #111. Now if someone can explain to "Mastermind Excello" that you can't forcibly evacuate the biggest city in the country and destroy half of it without somebody dying, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Krusty Defense

From a letter in Superboy #183, 1972:

Rule: anything you dom't like? It's our predecessor's faultTalk about your great moments in buck passing!

Somehow, though, I suspect we're going to be hearing this an awful lot from DC writers/editors in a couple of years...

Hey, stop ripping off my material!!As Krusty said back in Season 1: "Don't blame me--I didn't do it!!"

Monday, November 26, 2007

Things That Make Me Smile--Karkan!!

I know that I've been a little bit cranky around here lately, so let's chill things out with some classic Silver Age silliness, shall we?

The most perfect cover EVERI mean, look at it--we've got Superbaby AND gorillas...this is like all my favorite DC hobbyhorses wrapped up into a big nerdgasm!!

Sadly, though, as per usual, the cover lies to us. Superbaby is NOT in this story, and at no point does he fight monkeys. Sigh. I demand my 20¢ back--with 35 years compound interest, of course.

What we do have, though, is what would have been sold to us as an Elseworlds story, had it come up 20 years later (now, of course, it's Earth-17.5). It's an imaginary story, wherein Kal-El spacecraft crashes in deepest Africa instead of Kansas. Whereupon Kal-El is raised by gorillas as one of their own. Yup, they're ripping off Tarzan, Krypton-style. Mommy ape names him Karkan, which was apparently just far enough away from Tarzan to avoid legal action by the Burroughs estate. We pick up the action when teenage Karkan discovers"hairless ones."

I won't go into great detail on this comic--if you've read or seen ANY version of Tarzan EVER, than you can write this story in your sleep, up to and including where Karkan fights wicked hunters and is eventually lured to join human civilization by the pretty white girl. Yawn...where's Bo Derek when you really need her??

Still, the issue is chock full of wondrous editorial notes, such as:

A different font would be used to indicate, say, babbon language.. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you just witnessed the invention of ape font. Still, I would have declared this the greatest comic of all time if they had had the cajones to actually do the whole story in ape language...Also:

We would call it maize...See-far power?? It's a good thing he never describes his super-breath! Sigh...where's Grodd when you need him?

Anyway, I suppose I should just share the big payoff with you:

The 'To be or not to be' of the Tarzan world

Just wait until he gets a load of Cinemax!!

Twas beauty tamed the Kryptonian

Mmmm, taste that derivative goodness. I warned you--not a shred of original thinking went into this issue. Still...Gorillas!! Superbaby!!! I'll probably get cranky again tomorrow, but for today, all is well in my world. Because Superbaby am king of the apes!!

Wasted potential to be the greatest story ever from Superboy #183, 1972. If only...If only...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Me Am Smart

Don't try this at home

Well, this surprises me....we'd better dumb this down real quick, huh?

Thanks to Dr. K for the tip.

Be Careful of Who Your Friends Are...

A word of warning to She-Hulk:

Scene depicted does not necessarily appear in comic
Jen, in the tenor of today's Marvel Universe (at least Bendis' portion of it), maybe, just maybe, you might want to be careful of who your bounty hunting partner is...or at least what species:

Oh, and I'm helping to destroy your society from within...I hope you don't mindI can't imagine this would go over too well right now with your superhero buddies, given what's going on in New Avengers (but apparently nowhere else...)

Then again, in the Bendis books, they would spend 5 issues sitting around wondering whom they could trust, and never get around to actually doing anything to check if she was a Skrull, so you'd probably be all right.

And can I get some blogger help here? "Secret Invasion" is the stupidest title for a mega-crossover event ever. I move that whenever we refer to it (as we will have to), we all refer to instead as Skrullapalooza. All in favor?

Cover and panel from She-Hulk #23, where apparently World War Hulk hasn't happened yet, or happened awhile ago, and where Secret Invasion I mean Skrullapalooza isn't on the radar. Do Marvel writers even talk to each other anymore?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Night Fights--Bibbo Style!!

My holiday gift to you, the readers: Bibbo, Superman's biggest fan, beating the snot out of the Joker:

Where's you comedy now, Joker?What, you don't believe it? Well, let me follow it up with something even more awesome: Bibbo knocking the tar outta Doomsday:

Doomsday's the one who'll be needing a funeral after this!!Oh, man, you guys are sooo cynical.

Bahlactus punches out arch-villains EVERY DAY. In his sleep, fools.

Bibbo's...uhhh...hypothetical adventures are recounted in Showcase '96 #10.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mystery of the Week

Comic fun times...Why is it that Flash and family, as scripted by Mark Waid and appearing in The Brave and the Bold #8...

...comic snooze timesis soooo much better than Flash and family, as scripted by Mark Waid, in ANY issue of his latest run on Flash??

Just askin'...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

DC's Latest Sales Ploy??

Look, BubIs it just me, or does this cover of Ra's resemble Wolverine just a tad to much for comfort? I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Lunatics In Charge of the Asylum...

...or, the murdering bastards becoming the superheroes.

According to Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column at CBR, well, I'd just better let him say it:
I can now tell you that the new Batman will be designed by Alex Ross and will see Jason Todd under the cowl.

Poor Dick Grayson. Don't you hate it when someone junior to you is promoted above your head?

This is all part of a cross-continuity, longform story by Grant Morrison andin terms of structure bears similarity to his “New X-Men,” buton a far wider scale. It sounds rather good.

Now, assuming that's Rich's info is correct (and none of it has been officially confirmed yet, to my knowledge), it's unlikely that Bruce Wayne would remain "dead" for long, anymore than Superman or Captain America. It's going to be a sales-boosting publicity ploy, if it happens, and any quality of story that follows is purely coincidental.

No, the objectionable part--and it's taking all of my restraint not to vomit all over my keyboard as I write this--is that there is no way Jason Todd can become Batman. None.

Why? Let me be as succinct and rational on this issue as I am able:


Sorry, but I feel pretty strongly about this issue.

Now, yes, Jason had a hard knock life, was revived in a nauseatingly stupid manner, and felt upset and revengeful. But I'm sorry, that doesn't excuse his acts post-Resurrection. For example:

Fit to be Batman?Now, even assuming the driver was a bona fide crook and not some patsy, killing someone for driving a truck? Or this:

Fit to be BATMAN?!?!No, they didn't survive those 1,001 bullets. And:

Suited to be Hannibal Lecter, perhaps...Strung up like butchered cattle, the blood draining out. And all those were from just 1 issue, from only 2 pages. Jason Todd is a murdering, savage beast, no better than the Joker.

Fortunately, Bruce Wayne caught him and brought him to justice...oh, wait, he didn't. Never. Instead, he just ran off for his year-long-post-Infinite-Crisis sabbatical, and then never lifted one gloved finger to bring justice to the man who murdered dozens of people in Gotham City.

But after Infinite Crisis and One Year Later, Jason Todd at least came to his senses, reformed, and repented, right?

Yes, I so want to read a book about this manUhh...not so much.

So, after I post that under Dan DiDio, Bruce Wayne has completely disappeared from the Bat titles, we get news that Bruce will die and be replaced, and Batman will now be AN UNREPENTANT MASS MURDERER. Irony is a bitch.

I'm sorry, I shouldn't overreact like this. And there's a lot of information we don't have yet. But if this happens, if a PSYCHOTIC KILLER becomes Batman, I have to say I'll stop reading all the Bat titles.

It's your choice, DiDio. You can have heroes wear the masks, or just indulge your whims and give the jobs to your childhood "heroes," regardless of their fitness. You can take a stand and say that people have to pay a price for murder, or you can just give Jason the Cowl and pretend all the murders never happened.

You can say it doesn't matter, but it does matter to me and a lot of others, Dan DiDio. And if you make Batman into the Punisher, you show you have no conception of the character, and no business running a major comic book company. It's your choice.

Panels of Dan DiDio's choice to be Batman and represent justice come from Batman #646 and Nightwing #118. Less than two years ago, he was a murderer. Anyone at DC remember? Anyone?!?

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Butler Without Discretion??

We all are in agreement, I think, that everyone in the DC Universe is far, far too casual with their secret identities these days.

It occurs to me that, in part, this is somewhat a natural blowback against the Silver and Bronze Ages at DC, when fully 78.9% of all stories revolved around someone trying to discover the hero's identity, or the extraordinary lengths the hero would go to in order to protect that identity. Note this example, for instance, which was typical of the era. So today's crop of creators, who grew up reading that type of story, and no doubt ridiculing it, are loathe to go in that direction.

But they've gone too far in the opposite direction. Oracle actually has, on a networked computer, a file with the names and addresses of every superhero in the world (Tony Stark ought to hire her!!)! Every hero seems to know every other hero's street identity, and yet somehow, the villains never think to hire a telepath to surreptitiously rip that information out of some Teen Titan's head while they're distracted. And under current DC management, we've seen a distressing trend of heroes identifying each other by civilian name, while in costume and patrolling their cities, or at bachelor parties or whatever. Again, bad idea, because all we need is some mook with a telescopic microphone, and everyones name is all over the internet tomorrow.

But we can always depend on Alfred Pennysworth, the very model of discretion and service, not to make such an error, right?

Alfred Pennysworth--Ninja Fighter and ButlerSigh...

All right, it was probably fair for Alfred to assume that all those ninjas came from either Talia or Ra's Al Ghul, both of whom already know the Bat identites. BUT there were others on the grounds, whose agenda and knowledge weren't clear. AND it's always possible that the ninjas were sent by someone else, as they were pursuing Damien, not going after Robin or Batman. So blurting out "Master Dick" while in public, while he's in costume, is a pretty big faux pas.

But, Alfred was undoubtedly in a state of shock, having just been thrown out a window by a thousand ninjas and all. We'll chalk it up to a momentary flub, and we're sure it will never happen again.

D'oh!Oh, Alfred!!!

Alfred's attempt to get Nightwing's identity broadcast all over YouTube by noon tomorrow occurred in Nightwing #138. But, hey, it's a Ra's Al Ghul story, so 90% of it will get tossed out of continuity 5 seconds after Morrison leaves the title, so what the hey, right?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This One Is For The Ladies

Lick it up, ladiesAs a public service announcement, I present to you a portion of an interview Gene Simmons, founding member of KISS, had today in the Washington Post (musta been a slow news day...).

The interview deals largely with Simmons' love of comics books, and Superman specifically. The interviewer is asking what Simmons' wife, Shannon Tweed, thinks of Superman:
Q:I'm wondering what she thinks of Superman.
A:Oh, women don't have a clue. They never did. It's biological. Our aspiration to be heroes, to physical greatness and ruling the world is something totally foreign to them.
So there you have it ladies: you're not cut out for this superhero stuff. And if you don't appreciate things like this...

You see, you need a Y chromosome to get this...well, it's all biological. Let us men aspire to rule the world while you go blog about Little Lulu or something.

Gene Simmons, whose deep understanding of women's "biology" include authoring the songs Burn Bitch Burn, Love 'Em and Leave 'Em, Christine Sixteen, and Plaster Caster. Gene Simmons, who is so radical he let A& freakin' E do a reality show about his life. You go, Gene, you outlaw, you.

Gene launching KISS perfume...Full text on Simmons' enlightenment can be read here.

Monstrobot's previous encounter with Simmons' comic books can be found here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Final Crisis Preview--Free Bruce Wayne!!

I started this post just to mock a silly story, but doing so made me realize something very important: I miss Bruce Wayne. Even when he is being silly.

We all have an awful lot of fun around here laughing at Silver Age silliness, but sometimes we neglect giving the Bronze Age it's proper due.

Case in point: Gotham's Great Kangaroo Race:

So where, exactly, does Gotham City get all of these Kangaroos?Now, this story wasn't published in the '50s. It wasn't published in the '60s. And it was barely published in the '70s: April/May 1979, to be specific.

This was a period of great flux for DC. Reeling from having followed "DC Explosion" almost immediately with the fabled DC Implosion, DC was still trying to find formats that would work artistically and financially. After cancelling 30 books, DC had a lot of material to use and a lot of creators to find work for. So, in one experiment, they opted to go "big" with Detective Comics. They made it bi-monthly; they made it 68 pages, with no ads; they made it a $1 cover price (versus the 40¢ smaller DC's and Marvel were charging); and the repurposed it as "Detective Comics starring the Batman Family." With 6 stories per issue, this allowed them to showcase some of the characters who had lost the series in the Implosion. Of course, one might ask why The Demon was seen as part of the Batman Family, but hey, let's not be picky.

But since this was a Batman book, and particularly since this issue was Detective Comics 40th anniversary issue, we had to have a second Batman story. And that story, by Denny O'Neil no less, involved kangaroo racing. Observe:

This caused the birth of ESPN, you know...You know, this story made me realize one thing: I miss Bruce Wayne. Seriously, when was the last time we saw Bruce, even in a Batman book? I honestly can't remember, can you? I don't mean Bruce in costume with his hood off sitting in front of the computer in the Batcave. I mean an actual Bruce Wayne sighting. Maybe in the current grim and gritty DC universe, we don't have room for a frivolous playboy billionaire. But I say that's 100% wrong. Even if frivolous, this story (while silly), shows there's some usefulness in having Bruce Wayne around.

So anyway, Bruce is being eccentric and running kangaroo races in Gotham, with a $125,000 prize. Woo hoo!! Why? Well, in Batcave II (beneath the Wayne Foundation Building!!), Alfred tells Bruce that a big illegal firearm purchase is going down tomorrow night, for a price of $125,000!! Quite a coincidence--OR IS IT??

So let's get to the racing:

Ben Hur has nothing on this!So, Harcourt Bane breaks the back of the competition (sorry), and collects the money. Is this part of Bruce's master plan?

This is a...well, it's a plan. Sort of.Ahhhh...huh?

$125 grand to prevent each potential act of violence = Wayne fortune used up quicklyAhhhh....wha?!?

So let's see if I understand this. Bruce knows an Australian dude is coming to Gotham to buy weapons. (Aside--given that Batman is the scourge of crime, why oh why do idiot criminals insist on continuing to do deals in Gotham City? Why not Boston, or Miami, or some city without crime-fighters running around? Just asking.) So Bruce, knowing Ginty/Bane had experience working with kangaroos, staged kangaroo races to entice him. And he makes the prize money EXACTLY the amount Ginty needed to buy the weapons.

Which means that Ginty came to Gotham WITHOUT THE MONEY to buy the weapons. He was relying on being able to find it, or steal it, or win it in a kangaroo race. Smart criminal, that Ginty.

Of course, Bruce's plan was 100% dependent on Ginty a) knowing about the kangaroo race b) deciding to enter it, and 3) winning it. What, he slipped a flier under his hotel room door? And if Ginty happened to lose, Bruce would have to give the money away to someone else, and we're back at square one, with Ginty needing to obtain it "with violence."

Anyhoo, Bruce's plan works, there's a tracer in the briefcase, and Batman finally appears on page 7 of an 8-page story to bust the bad guys. After punching out the supplier, Batman turns to Ginty:

Denny O'Neil presents an authentic Australian accent. Oi!Hmmm, it seems he wasn't all that likely to turn to violence now, was he? This does damage to Australia's tough self-image, methinks...

So, yeah, late Bronze Age stories could be really silly, too. But more important, look at what the story does give us:
  • Bruce Wayne as a Gotham citizen, and how other Gothamites perceive him.

  • Bruce Wayne using his $ to help fight crime, in a way besides buying lots of bat-toys

  • Showing us Bruce Wayne as an actual character, not just a cipher wearing the cowl.
We don't need to give Bruce his own title (but would it hurt?). And the stories can be of better quality than, well, kangaroo races.

But think about it: we've seen more of Dick Grayson's personal life in recent years than Bruce Wayne. We've seen more of Tim Drake's personal life than Bruce Wayne's. And this is after Bruce ditched Gotham City for a year to "find himself." The saddest statement of all: in the past few years we've seen more of Matches Malone than of Bruce Wayne.

So please, DC, whatever the result of your Final Crisis, please free Bruce Wayne. I miss him.

SPECIAL BONUS PANEL: Steve Ditko drawing The Demon

looks nothing like his Doctor Strange work...
Long lost Bruce Wayne is temporarily found in Detective Comics #483. Or, rather, Detective Comics Starring the Batman Family #483. With a title that long, it must be a Countdown tie-in!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Night Fights--Dynamite Duo Style!!

What's a nice way to spend a romantic Friday evening? Let's ask Dick and Babs:

The name Batgirl is too long? He has to abbreviate it B-G?
I believe this is page 372 in the Kama Sutra
Hey, Chris Sims--does that count as a face kick??And what to do after the fight? Presenting, via the next panel, Dick Grayson, Ladies' Man:

Dick Grayson has a sick violence fetish--call Dr. Wertham!!Oooh, sounds like cold shower time for Dick!!

Fortunately, I know someone who never needs a cold shower, because LL Cool B: Ladies love Cool Bahlactus!!

Acrobatic romance courtesy of Batman Family #5, 1976.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We Will Fight Them on the Beaches, We Will Fight Them on the Moon...?

There are many questions that have vexed historians throughout the years: What caused the fall of the Roman Empire? Why did the Black Plague end when it did? How would the world have been different if Napoleon had won at Waterloo?

There is one question, however, that has NEVER been adequately addressed, except once:

Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing???In case your brain didn't explode, let me blow that up for you a little bit:

I just blew your minds, didn't I?Oh, my sweet heavens. This must be what it feels like to be a victim in Scanners. What, exactly, was Marvel thinking?

What, no love for Buck Rogers?Oh, OK then, that explains it.

But it can't really explain anything, can it? How in the world do you justify this as a What If? Well, let's listen in as Uatu casually breaks his oath in order to entertain comic book readers:

oops, no time for the Mona Lisa!!
No, I'm Goose, you're Iceman...
What if Napoleon had a B-52??
The Wright Brothers would never get laid in this universe
Well, that's sorta plausible, but...I think there's a difference between a What If and an Elseworlds. An Elseworlds is (or rather was, until most of them were swept in the 52 multiverse...sigh) a fictional construct placing known characters in unknown environments. Hey, what if Bruce Wayne were born in the 1800's and fought Dracula? A What If is supposed to be an actual alternate universe, that differs in one key action from "our" universe: Spider-Man did join the Fantastic Four, or Rick Jones was exposed to the Gamma bomb and became the Hulk. It's still our universe, just changed in one specific event.

So how does having Sgt. Fury fighting WWII in outer space violate this? Because if Leonardo had changed the world so much, Sgt. Fury et al would never have been born!! Think about it: we're talking about a profound change in the history of the planet, centuries ago. Vastly increased travel and trade. People who wouldn't have met did, and people who did meet wouldn't. And even if, 400+ years later, somehow through all the ripples someone's parents, grandparents, great granparents, yada yada, still did meet, unless they...uhhh...expressed their love at the exact same time, different egg meets different sperm which equals different kid.

It's the same thing with the Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror. Man, I love the episode and Spock's goatee, don't get me wrong. But any change profound enough to create an empire based on aggression and assassination operating for centuries would virtually ensure that none of crew were ever born. But to insist that they were born, AND all managed to survive long enough to end up serving on the same starship, AND that they would somehow manage to be at the exact same planet at the exact same time and send down exactly the same four crew members as our universe...that's not an alternate universe, that's a writers' conceit writ large. Which is fine, for an Elseworlds...but not a What If.

And who, pray tell, are Sarge Fury and the Howling Commandos (editors note: in space, no one can hear you howl) fighting in World War II in Outer Space? Why, the Betans, of course!:

Betans in no way resemble the Japanese. None. Not at all.Who? Well, apparently, this alternate universe, in addition to the different history of Earth itself, also is curiously lacking in Kree, Skrulls, Badoon, or other alien races we know about. Just humans and Betans. But of course, you know they're not the real villains:

With a name like Strucker, he has to be evilSee, you can't have World War II without Nazis, even if it is in space!

All this work setting up an alternate universe, just to lapse into fights with Nazis at the first opportunitySo even with a vastly altered Earth history:

  • We still have Germany and America

  • We still have the "great cause of Nazism," which was forged by a very specific set of historical circumstances

  • We still have the same German ranks of nobility and the same people holding them

  • Despite several centuries of advanced science, Strucker still has a scar and a monocle (not to mention Fury smoking...)
Oh, Gary Friedrich and Don Glut, what have you wrought? I won't even mention that they gave Fury an amusing robot sidekick...


And we wonder why SHIELD went straight to hell...Oh, Dugan, you're always a dum dum, no matter what the rest of the universe is like!!