Saturday, May 31, 2008


Jim Salicrup wrote the introduction to The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus. From the little bio paragraph at the end of the intoduction:

Jim Salicrup gets a bio, and Stan Lee doesn't?Wait a minute...let's look at one sentence again:

"...known for editing the best-selling Spider-Man #1."


Because when people talk about the sales frenzy surrounding Spider-Man #1, the first thing they mention is Salicrup's editing

Salicrup edited THE HELL out of this comicBilly: Dude, I just got a copy of Spider-Man #1!!
Jimmy: Winnage! Isn't that the one that was edited by Jim Salicrup??
Billy: You know it is!! I've almost completed my collection of Salicrup-edited comics!
Jimmy: Hey, didn't somebody famous write or draw that, or somethin'?
Billy: Oh, who cares about that...just check out this editing!!
Jimmy: Whoa!!

Apologies to Jim Salicrup...I just felt like being a dick today, I guess. But you've got to admit, it's a silly line in the bio...

Hoarded Treasure

Despite all the Grant Morrison, despite the Starman omnibus, this was the best new release this week:

Keen eye, funny drawings...who needs more??Ahhh, big-city-phone-book-sized goodness...

But, despite the 900-page size, this book is correctly titled, and it is only "nearly complete." Missing is all the work he did for Marvel and DC. The Marvel Age pieces, the Daily Planet strips, Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe, Fred Hembeck Sells the Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four Roast, etc.

Now, look, Marvel and DC. This long-unseen material isn't making you any money just sitting around in your vaults. So now, while the Hembeck iron is hot, why not republish this stuff, in trade or omnibus or essential or whatever? You could make some money, and please some fans at the same time.

Or better yet, what about commissioning some NEW work from Hembeck?!? Because, heaven knows, the DC & Marvel universes could certainly use some levity these days. An ability to laugh at themselves has been missing from these companies for awhile (Eliopoulos and Sumerak's Franklin Richards strips being an obvious exception).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Night Fights--Man's Best Friend Style!!

In Metropolis, when dog bites man, it's still a story. At least with this dog, and this man.

Clark and Lois are out walking Krypto, when who decides to show up in Metropolis, but big, bad Mongul. But Krypto is having none of that!!

Clearly, Mongul knows little of the Legion of Super-Pets
Dogs with heat vision=troubel for cats
Yes, Lois, Mongul's biggest crime is that he's a jerk who hits dogsWell, Superman and Mongul tussle for a bit, when Kal-El decides to play fetch with Krypto:

Really, this clown is going to take on the whole Green Lantern Corps??
Kids--don't try this at home with your pets
Nice shot of Mongul's butt, Dale Keown
No, you're supposed to piddle on trees, not destroy them, Krypto!
Mongul objects to that treatment:

My, what big teeth you have, Mongul
My, what a tiny waist you have, LoisUh-oh (better hide your eyes if you're the sensitive type):

Garfield's nightmare
OuchWho let the dogs out? Bahlactus let the dogs out...

The reason why no veterinarian would dare to neuter Krypto is from Superman #170 (2001).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You Call Him "Doctor" No, Doll-face!

Elsewhere in the Monstrobot empire...

My Bond-movie-a-week blogging really hits its stride today over at I Expect You To Die!!, with a waaaay-overlong analysis of the first James Bond moive, Dr. No.


Sometimes you pass from obsessive to anal to something else entirely:

Next...Batman obsessively checking to make sure he locked the batmobileThe questions this raises:
  • Batman had to "insist" on making the table level? What, was one of the JLA planning on making it not level? Why? This was an issue for some reason?

  • Superman says that Batman "already knows" the table is "perfectly level." I can just see him taking out his Bat-laser-level before every Justice League meeting, double checking that no nefarious no-goodnick has put the table one micron out of balance.

  • Really, Batman, what difference would it make if the table weren't perfectly level? JLA headquarters are destroyed every 3 months, anyway...
Maybe it shouldn't be Batman should be Batman OCD.

Batman tells us too much about his mental state in JLA 80-Page Giant #3, 2000. And if you enjoyed laughing at Batman's hangups, try watching Monk on USA...where it's OK to laugh at mental disease!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Who's Not There?

Yesterday my pal Siskoid, as part of his Encyclopedia Week, took a look at JLA Secret Files and Origins #1 (1997).

Just by coincidence, I had read this exact comic on Sunday, having recently purchased it out of the quarter bin. He posted before I got to say what I wanted...but I promise I'm not ripping him off or riding his coattails.

He showed you Phil Jimenez's two-page spread of all of the official Justice Leaguers over the years. Me, I wanted to show you the spread with all the villains:

That's a heapin' helpin' of evilAnd, because I love you guys, here's the legend (click for readable size):

I really didn't have any huge point to make here. I just wanted to point out that, here at the height of the Grant Morrison/Mark Millar run on JLA, we have a huge spread featuring pretty much anyone the Justice League has ever fought...Irwin Teasdale? Seriously? Uberbot?!?!

Yet despite that, no trace of Libra in there.

Again, no point, I just found that interesting...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Abandon Floppies?

Last week, there was a fascinating back and forth on Occasional Superheroine between Valerie and Brian Wood, over the future of single issues versus just releasing brand new stories in trades. To violently summarize, Brian Wood on his LiveJournal asks

Note: this is purely, 110% hypothetical, not based on anything real or actual. But the idea is floated constantly by readers, so I thought I would ask to see what answers I get: Let's suppose a book like DMZ stopped coming out monthly and instead you got a 150-page original graphic novel every seven months or so, same production values as the trades, same everything as the trades. But obviously the cover price would have to go up...So how much would you pay for it? What's the highest that price tag could be before you decide it's too expensive to buy it?

To which Val responds in part:

Of course, this is the model that Vertigo should be doing. At the very most, have 2-3 strong-selling monthly floppies (if any), and everything else would be in graphic novel form right off the bat. Be easier to sell, get them right in the bookstores, easier to market, easier to promote.6 issues for $20. Squarebound, decent paper, suitable for viewing upon your bookshelf.This is indeed the wave of the future.

There are lots of good thoughts from each in the comments, plus lots of thoughtful responses from others, so take a look to get the full thrust of the arguments.

I thought I'd add a few thoughts of my own. Let me preface by saying I know absolutely nothing about the sales figures or economics involved, so if there's anybody who actually knows something, please listen to them instead of me.

I'll also confess that some of my skepticism on this issue stems from the small-c conservative in me, who wants things to remain the way they always were, and doesn't relish change in the way I've purchased my comics for 32+ years. I've done my best to filter that insipid bias out, but you should know where I'm coming from.

My first thought is, this seems like it might be bad for innovation, for new stories and new comic creators.

In the long-term, going straight to graphic novel form might make more economic sense, for titles and creators that people are already familiar with.

But what about new things? Would enough readers who are willing to risk $2.99 to try out a first issue of something new be just as willing to pony up $20? Especially if it's an odd concept or an unknown creative team?

It's easy enough to say, sure, everybody would have been willing to make that investment in Watchmen. But how much of that is hindsight? If a brand new graphic novel about unknown characters just turned up on the shelf, would you be willing to risk $20 on something you might not even end up liking?

And if you say, "I'd buy anything by Alan Moore," well, doesn't that just show that this system might make it very difficult for new talents to get their work published? Would you be equally willing to risk $20 on something by John Smith and John Doe, whom you've never heard of before?

If, instead of a $2.99 issue #1, Y the Last Man had just turned up on the shelf one day in a five-issue length trade for $14, would it have sold as well? Would as many people have tried it?

Again, try not to look at it with hindsight, already knowing that you liked these comics. A more mainstream example is DC's Booster Gold comic, which was not expected to be very good, but surprised people and has gotten generally pretty favorable reviews. Well, if it arrived instead in a 6-issue brick for $20, how many of us would have just skipped it? I'm thinking a lot.

So I'm concerned that this idea, if not properly executed, could stifle some projects before they're ever published. Vertigo might be reluctant to give a graphic novel to someone who wasn't already a name, and some worthy projects might not be picked up by readers unwilling to plunk down that much change.

How to properly execute? I'm going to say don't entirely kill the floppy...release a "first issue" simultaneously with the graphic novel, comprising the first chapter, at a cheap price. Also, DC/Vertigo would have to be pretty generous with review copies, to "mainstream" critics and bloggers, to get word of mouth out, to encourage people that the trade is worth the price. They should also heartily embrace digital previews, and not just 4 or 5 pages, but again whole chapters available so folks can see what the book is about. Finally, they would have to radically revamp the solicit/preview system, because a one-sentence blurb that ends with a question mark is not going to be enough to convince some people to make a big investment.

So color me skeptical...but if you get full commitment to the steps above, AND find way to ensure that new talent and new concepts aren't getting locked out, hey, maybe it will work.

A second, brief point: when Val says "get them right in the bookstores," I've got to wonder how much better her bookstores are than the ones I've got around here. In my local Barnes & Noble and Waldenbooks, the graphic novel section is a black hole. It's large but completely unorganized and impossible to find anything; maddeningly incomplete, if you're trying to collect runs of things; infuriatingly random selections; and it seems like nothing ever sells, because 90% of the titles, complete with the same bind splits and creased corners, have been on the shelf for years. If you're lucky enough to be one of the books that gets an endcap display, you might sell...but that seems determined more by what titles have gotten lots of media attention than by any any rational system (ie, lots and lots of Civil War and Death of Captain America and whatever ties into current movies, little Hernandez Brothers or Y the Last Man).

If book stores truly are going to be the savior of the industry, someone might want to tell the bookstores. Because right now they treat graphic novels like shit.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Manic Monday--Brian's Decision

From the inside cover of Spider-Man, Storm and Power Man #1, the stellar joint Marvel/American Cancer Society publication:

Brian has to deal with peer pressure.

Observe the mental calculus:

Marvel let's you make the call:

Some of my suggestions:

Make your own!! How do you deal with peer pressure, fellow smart asses?!?!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tales From the Quarter Bin--This Is A Public Service Announcement

Someday, DC and Marvel have to put together Showcase/Essential editions to collect all the wonderful free comic books they published as Public Service Announcements over the years.

Case in point: Spider-Man, Storm and Power Man #1 (1982):

Was this a Spidey Super Stories cover?This joint, done in cooperation with the American Cancer Society, was a freebie that sought to discourage the tykes from smoking. While it's a commendable goal, quality-wise, well, it's pretty craptacular. You'd think that just because it's free comic, they assigned it to any old interns sitting around the Bullpen.

We start at a track meet:

When Powerman tells you to hustle...YOU DAMN WELL HUSTLE!!So, just like the Daily Planet, the Daily Bugle doesn't have any actual news to cover. "Parker, forget the Spider-Man pictures--go get me shots of that teen track team!! That'll sell papers!!"

Ah, but there's a human interest angle...and, of course, the overselling of the dangers of cigarettes:

Trouble in River City...So kids, if you start smoking, you'll make strange friends, keep late hours, and skip classes. That's science, you see.

Sadly, there's a flaw in Cage's plan to track down these nefarious tempters:

Spidey is such a name-dropperOK, so who would be less conspicuous than Cage?

Who the hell is Spidey waving at?Oh, yeah...white-haired statuesque African Goddess Ororo won't attract any attention at all...

After a couple of pages of a health class lecture on all the physical harms of tobacco, they again have to go for the overkill:

In the marvel universe, every super-hero has access to your permanent recordYup, smoking makes your grades drop!! More science!!

Hey, what is our bad guys' purpose, anyway? Well, their nefarious plot is:

We stand to win dozens of dollars!!So given that, in the Marvel PSA Universe, high school track meets attract big time illegal gambling, it's only logical that evil peeps would try to rig those track meets by hooking star athletes on cigarettes. Perfectly sensible. Brilliant plan.

Meanwhile, Storm's mission isn't going so hot:

Storm failed her stealthy surveillence lessons from WolverineAnd what major villain took down Storm with no discernible effort?

Hmmm...ripe for a comeback??Oh, dear. Memo to Marvel: Please don't have villains with "SS" on their chests, unless they're Nazis. Especially in PSA comics for kids. Thank you.

Well, after many pointless pages and nagging lectures, our heroes of course triumph, after some typical Luke Cage battle dialogue:

Luke Cage, legal scholar for hire!
We'll keep the money for ourselves...I mean 'return it to the rightful owners'Wait a minute: the money was returned to its "rightful owners?" This was an illegal gambling operation--the cops wouldn't give the bettors their money back!!

Anyway, our athlete learns his lesson, spends the next 48 hours getting back in shape, manages to finish second, but everybody respects him now and welcomes him back to "the winning team."

The problem with this PSA effort--like many others--is that it piles on too hard. Not content to point out the vile physical effects of tobacco, Marvel and the ACS feel obliged to attribute every other vice and ill in the Western hemisphere to tobacco, too: illegal gambling and sports fixing, hooliganism, poor grades, rejecting old friends, a big ego, pool halls (seriously)...I'm surprised they didn't blame hurricanes and nuclear proliferation on cigarettes, too. And of course, such wild overstatements trigger the bullshit alarms in the heads of their target audience, somewhat mooting any effectiveness of their message.

Here's something interesting, from 1998:

Ah, the foul stench of 90s Marvel artI don't have this one, I just found it on GCD. So is it just the same old story reprinted, with a new title (to reflect Luke's re-branding) and a disturbingly 90s cover? On the cover Smokescreen looks completely different. Did they re-do the entire issue?? Man, this is going to keep me up all night...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thanking Heaven For Small Favors

After this and this, Bendis gives us another gem in this week's Mighty Avengers:

'Den?' 'DEN?'!?
Out of all the 'th' words, Ben only pronounces one oddly...that's what passes for characterization in Bendis' Mighty AvengersGiven his mastery of Dr. Doom's dialogue, and the random "dey" and "den" from Ben Grimm, I'm thanking my lucky stars that Bendis isn't writing Fantastic Four. Dat's the truth...

Bond--Beta Version

If you're bored, take a look at newest post on my companion blog, I Expect You To Die!, as we examine the very first attempt to put James Bond on the screen. Believe it or not, they made Bond into an American, named Jimmy Bond!! James Bond--before they knew what the hell they were doing!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Night Fights--Stone Cold Style

You gotta know your enemy's weaknesses--and his strengths, too.

He pronounces his name in foppish font!When bashful Benjamin Grimm is fighting the Grey Gargoyle, well, the fight is all-Ben, as one might expect:

mmmm...mashed potatoes
Somebody stop the fight!
You'd think Ben would more sensitive about using 'Doom' as a sound effect......But watch out for his hands:

Vulcan mind meld
Everybody MUST get stonedD'oh!

(of course, he's just changed from orange rock to grey rock, and it's kinda hard to tell in B& just gotta trust me on this one)

That just goes to show you, never let your guard down. Unless you're Bahlactus...because then Gargoyle doesn't get within touching distance before he's toast!!

Petrifying action from Fantastic Four #38 (2001)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The 300...Licence To Kill

Well, this is the big 3-0-0, and sadly, I don't have anything really special planned.

Oh, wait, yes I do:

Keeping the British end upThat's right, it's Stage 2 in the Monstrobot plan to conquer the internet: my new James Bond movie blog, I Expect You To Die!

I'm a HUGE Bond fan, and I wanted to celebrate the countdown to Bond 22, Quantum of Solace. But I didn't want to bore you peeps who aren't into 007. So, I decided to keep Slay Monstrobot purely comic book (mostly), while spinning off a second piece of the empire.

I Expect You To Die! is going to be weekly or semi-weekly, and it won't interfere with my (mostly) daily posts hereabouts. So if you're at all interested in glory that is James Bond in action, head on over and check it out.

Meanwhile, let's take a quick retrospective of some of this blog's greatest hits:

*Judge Dredd vs. Stan Lee (really)
*Superman vs. a TRS-80 (really)...and Superman loses!
*Underdog comics are the best place to find sex toys
*Bob Haney, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Gorillas
*So very close to being the BEST--COMIC--EVER!!
*The single most unjustified use of Jimmy Olsen's signal watch EVER!

All right, that's enough. Tune in every day for more of the same old same old. Peace out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Maybe This Explain's Carrot Top's Success

From Charlton Bullseye #4, 1981:

Amazingly, none of the people who read this comic in 1981 found money or power or love
Reading the thoughts of others??
Best Wheel of Fortune response?
Click for a completely honest FAQTry not to keep your loved ones up with the chanting...

Meanwhile, tune in tomorrow (Thursday) for my epic 300th post, and the most momentous announcement in Slay Monstrobot history!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"What Is Your Favorite Color?"

Really, was that so hard?

From last week's Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1. Let's set the scene. A Skrull, posing as Susan Richards, has forced open the Negative Zone portal, sending part of the Baxter Building there. She's trying to convince Johnny Storm that it's really Ben Grimm who's the Skrull. Let's watch, shall we?

This couldn't possibly work... can actually unmask Skrulls without Spider-senses or magic or scent?? Don't tell Bendis...So, after 95 months of "Are you a Skrull? No, but you're Skrully! Oh, there's no way we can detect these Skrulls!!", we finally get someone who's smart enough to actually try to figure out--by logic and questioning-- whether someone actually IS a Skrull. And it's not Reed Richards or Tony Stark or Nick Fury. Nope, it's Johnny Freakin' Storm.

I mean, look at it...these Skrulls are supposed to be the ultimate infiltrators, perfect duplicates who are completely undetectable. And yet they can't handle a simple frakkin' question. "What's your favorite movie?!?!?!?!" Seriously, how can these clowns infiltrate anything?? They apparently couldn't even win the Newlywed Game, let alone pose as people's loved ones.

This example is ESPECIALLY egregious, because it turns out that the Skrull posing as Sue is Lyja. Lyja, who was MARRIED to Johnny Storm, and a de facto member of the Fantastic Four for awhile. Lyja, who in theory would be the Skrull who knew the FF better than any other Skrull, and thus the one best able to pull off the infiltration. Lyja, who couldn't remember even the most basic information from Sue's Facebook page, and so was revealed.

So that's the big threat from Skrullapalooza: morons who didn't even do their basic homework on their subjects, who can be revealed with the simplest of questions? You think Bendis and Marvel have maybe been overselling this a little bit? A mean, based on what we've seen here, this guy could stop the whole invasion by himself:

Now if only everyone else in the Marvel Universe were as smart as the Human Torch, this thing would be wrapped up next issue, and we could go back to focusing our hate on DC...