Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Politcal Debate, 1950s Style

Fom Captain America #77 (1954), as reprinted in Captain America: Theater of War: America First!! Scripter unknown, art by John Romita.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Please, Frank Miller, Don't Hurt 'Em

You seen my pal Vanilla?Well, we've all heard the quote from Frank Miller, about when he was offered The Spirit movie, and he realized that "Nobody else can touch this."

And why, exactly, did MC Miller declare to all other filmmakers "U Can't Touch This?" Break it down:

  • No one else would have ever thought to give the Spirit super powers.
  • No one else would have seen the brilliance of making the Octopus an insane genius scientist who discovered the secret to immortality, and who has the exact same super powers as the Spirit
  • No other writer would have thought to change the Spirit's background from a criminologist and private detective to a rookie cop --because only MC Miller had the depth of understanding to realize rookie cops make much better detectives and crime fighters than those with actual experience and learning. MC Miller gets bonus points for giving the Spirit a new origin (rookie cop mysteriously gunned down) and then not devoting a single syllable afterward to wonder who gunned him down, or why.
  • Only MC Miller grokked that the Golden Fleece (yes, that Golden Fleece) was actually an impenetrable shield protecting the wearer from all harm, a fact that even escaped the notice of the ancient Greeks.
  • Only MC Miller could see that Sand Saref would be a much better character if you ignored her international espionage background and reduced her to a thief with "a thing for bling."
  • Giving Denny Colt an intimate physical relationship with Death? Nobody else could touch that (OK, maybe Jim Starlin...)

U got to pray just to make it thru this movieSo thank you, MC Miller, for saving us from those other writers and directors, who never would have thought of introducing any of these "innovations" to the Spirit movie. Hell, such pedestrian filmmakers might have actually made a movie that was tangentially connected to what the Spirit comics were about, and we certainly couldn't have that!!

And on that note...STOP!! Miller time!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Manic Monday Bonus--25 Years Later

Presented for your consideration:

House ad appeared in Action Comics #568 (1985)

Manic Monday--You CAN Judge The Quality Of A Hero By His Villains

I take back everything I ever said about Superman having the lamest rogues' gallery:

Specialization is the key to supervillainry
No resemblance at all to Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, and...uhhh...Big Purple Claw Guy
Future career opportunity for Michael Phelps
The Liquidator?? Must be pretty busy on Wall Street these days...Okay, I admit, it was unfair not to show the Black Manta and Ocean Master boxes. Then again, would they really have helped much? And those were the only other two shown in the feature...

Still, they're better than GAARD!!!!!!

Heeeeee's back!!Aquaman's (chortle) rogues' gallery is depicted in "Diabolical Demons of the Depths" in DC Super-Stars #7 (1976)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stupidity Is Contagious At Marvel This Month

Today it's Jeph Loeb's turn.

Yesterday, we saw how Bendis deftly ignored stories that he had written just 5 minutes ago just to get the the story points he needed to get to.

But that's nothing. Jeph Loeb just ignored 35 years of Marvel history to get to one (supposedly) cool moment that last about 2 pages.

Let's review that history, shall we? First, Incredible Hulk #162 (1973), by Englehart and Trimpe:

And Incredible Hulk #180 (1974) by Wein & Trimpe:

And Uncanny X-Men #139 (1980) by Claremont and Byrne (and narrated by Wolverine):

And Incredible Hulk #272 (1982) by Mantlo and Sal Buscema:

I could go on. In Marvel Fanfare #2-3, Michael Fleet became Wendigo after turning to cannibalism. In Wolverine #129, Andre became a Wendigo after eating his own fingers. And on and on. (I'm thinking there's an awful lot of canniablism up north of the border, eh? Maybe Canada needed a few more Mickey D's...)

The is one universal constant: You become a Wendigo by a curse, when you consume human flesh in the forests of Canada. The curse can be cured, or transferred to another, by magics. But you don't get the curse except by eating human flesh in the north woods.

So what does Loeb (and Art Adams) give us in the green Hulk section of Red Hulk #9?

Yup...apparently, Jeph Loeb thinks that you become a Wendigo just by being bitten by a Wendigo. In Las Vegas. Without having eaten any Flesh McMuffins. Unless, of course, the Hulk has been munching on people fritters without telling us...

Jeph, you galoot, Wendigo werewolf. You'd think the guy would have actually read at least one Wendigo story being bringing in a hole herd of them. But maybe he did, and just decided that doing it right would have just gotten in the way of the "cool" Wendihulk bit he wanted to do (and then throw away 2 pages later). 35 years of Marvel history, flushed away for one ridiculously stupid moment.

Of course, such attention to detail from Loeb probably explains an awful lot about what's happened to Heroes the past couple of years...

Check out the best appearance of Wendigo EVER here:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Absent-Minded Reed Richards


I mean, damn.

Every time I think Bendis can't get...OK, how do I want to phrase this? I don't want to say "stupider," because he's not a stupid man. He's written comic books I love (Powers) and comics a lot of other people speak very highly of that I've never read (Ultimate Spider-Man).

But when it comes to the Avengers mags and the Skrullapalooza stuff, he does some very stupid things.

OK, so Marvel won't give him Alias to write again, or a Luke Cage title, and therefore he's converted New Avengers into the All Cage/Jessica Jones Soap Opera Hour. Fine. He needed some justification to keep the mag going now that Purple Reign has reordered things, fine.

But Bendis is the worst goddamn plotter in the universe, because as long as he gets from point A to point B he's satisfied, regardless of whether or not that completely contradicts something he himself wrote 5 minutes ago.

What am I going on about? How about Reed Richards "Skrull detector?" As we saw in Skrullapalooza #5, Mr. Fantastic (in about 30 seconds) whooped together a device that would force Skrulls--even the new undetectable Skrulls--back into their green ugly form. In the Savage Land, it takes the fake "returned heroes"--who didn't even know they were Skrulls--and turns 'em back:

Do you feel lucky, Skrull? Well? Do ya?
Turns the green ones green!!

The very next issue, Reeds device works on a whole, vast battlefield, apparently covering all of Central Park and hundreds (thousand?) of Skrulls, "reverting them to their natural forms."

Reed will forget this very soon Well, that's a handy thing to have, and in the aftermath of the invasion, you'd think that Richards would whip up bunches of those to Homeland Security and the'd think that for months you couldn't go anywhere without being subjected to a Skrull detector. If you accept the premises of Skrullapalooza and Purple Reign, there's no way that couldn't happen, right?!?

Ah, but you see, that's where Bendis had written himself into a corner. Because if you have a powerful and easy to use method of detecting Skrulls, than you don't need to spend gosh knows how many issues hunting down Skrull Jarvis, you don't have to have Cage sell out to Norman Osborn, you don't have any reason for this grouping of heroes.

So how does Bendis get around this?? We see in New Avengers #48. By cheating

Geez, Richards, at least put some clothes onAgain, in close-up:

Yes, because the city would have no interest in hunting down Skrull infiltrators...Well, that's a load of balderdash. We saw in the Bendis-written Skrullapalooza that Reed's device could detect and revert Skrulls who weren't shape-shifting. His device overcame their "undetectable by our standards and measurements" abilities!!!! That was the whole point!!! It worked on the Antarctica Skrulls, who WEREN'T shape shifting and were brainwashed to not know that they were even aliens! Has this wondrous device vanished?!? Does it no longer function the way it did? If it could bathe all of Central Park in its ultra-effectiveness, how long would it take to run it all over New York City?

So is Bendis unable to remember what he wrote a couple of months ago? (It wouldn't be the first time he's had Reed forgetting exactly what he already knew about the new Skrulls...) Does he not care that he's contradicting his own basic premise? Does he hold the audience in that much contempt that he thinks that we won't notice

Or is he just a lazy writer who doesn't care what he puts down on the page, as long as it gets him from point A to his desired point B?

Bendis, please please please--less Avengers, more Powers. OK??

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Someone's Been Tapping Into My Christmas Dreams

I guess now he'll really know who's naughty and nice:

Santa Claus vs. The Illuminati by Brian Reed and Val Semeiks is free until December 31st and Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Questions For A Week When Nobody's Reading

A) Now that Geoff Johns has announced that he's leaving JSA--and DC has yet to announce the new team--what do you think the over/under is on the number of months until cancellation??

I'm certainly not rooting for that. But given the inability of almost anyone else to ever make the title sell, and the inability of DC to provide stable creative teams for almost any book not helmed by Johns, I'm not optimistic. So I'm guessing 7 post-Johns issues...and then another re-launch at some point.

B) Why can't I have a hedge maze for Christmas? Seriously, give me one good reason...

C) Is it just me, or is "Doctor Hurt" just Hush with a more respected creative pedigree??

D) Given the tremendous complications that it could produce for the ongoing Purple Reign story line, what is the likelihood that we ever get any answer to the question of exactly what Spider-Man's and the Green Goblin's history is post-Brand New Day?

Seriously, given the fact that Bendis has spent literally years building up to the moment where Norman Osborn takes over the world, did Quesada ever bother to let him now that they were going to frell up Osborn's memories and/or timeline?!? (Of course, Bendis could pull a little bit of plot jiu jitsu and say that Norman's so nuts because of Mephisto's machinations...)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Manic Monday--The Birth Of Computo

And to think I ever made fun of the time the TRS-80 whooped Superman's butt:

Yes, but is it Mac or PC??Hmmm, I like the idea of training it to do my bidding...

Yes, but is it as hot as Madame Xanadu?Oh, so that's how Batman outsmarted the Riddler every time--with a $4.99 "electronic brain."

Why, yes, son, you can have my ATM passwordYes, I'm sure Dad would love to give you access to his bank account, kids...and I'm doubly sure he'd love to have you correcting his math...

Plot global thermo-nuclear destruction!!Yes, amaze your friends, as they turn you in to the NSA for having classified information!! Satellite re-entry?? Missile countdown?? Man, we'd better keep this thing out of al-Qaeda's hands!!

Technology that I will soon use to RULE THE WORLD is from an ad in Silver Surfer #3 (1968).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jingle Bells

My friend Robert has been upset because he gave me a present about a month ago, and I haven't blogged about it yet.

Well, for obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until closer to Christmas:

So why doesn't Diana get to carry anything? Is she just eye candy??You know, as Grant Morrison continues in his quest top make every Batman story "count," I sincerely hope he doesn't forget this:

The most frightening thing I've seen this yearOur story?

As opposed to a non-ominous singing telegram?Rudolph the Red-Nosed Hitman?!? Yeah, that sounds like a good children's Christmas tale--"Hey, kids, all of your Xmas icons are really murderous gangsters!!"

And exactly how does one send a singing telegram to Batman? Does Western Union have the Batcave's address? (Well, everyone else in Gotham seems to, so...) Do you send it to Commissioner Gordon's office, and have the singer just wait around until Batman shows up?

Meanwhile, there's the Wonder Woman story:

You'd have thought that Santa would have better securityA Nazi submarine kidnaps Santa?!?!?!? I've got to find someone with a turntable now...

Special bonus picture: Another Neal Adams-drawn Peter Pan album cover:

AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!The Chipmunk Song, as performed by The Grasshoppers?!? Would that even be audible to the human ear?!?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bold Fashion Choices--Lois (Again!)

Lois, Lois, Lois...what is it about you and your wardrobe? Especially in the early 70s??

With that outfit she's wearing, no jury would convict SupermanI's bad enough that Superman is trying to kill you (SPOILER ALERT: he really isn't).

But what the hell are you wearing?!?!?!?! What is that?

Compare and contrast with one of Lois' other bold fashion choices, a mere 15 issues earlier:

make your own comments about the dartsHmmm...somebody at DC really seemed to have a fetish for to see Lois splayed out while wearing some ridiculous hot pants get-up. For the record, these issues had different cover artists, different editors...yet still, Lois was similarly trussed up to show off her odd, odd outfits.

For the record, here's what Lois really wore in that scene: you really think you deserve to wear white?Channelling the non-powered Diana Prince from the same era, are we, Lois?!?

Lois's red mod outfit is from Lois Lane #135 (1973)...cover art by Bob Oksner..her blue monstrosity was from #120 (1972)...cover art by Dick Giordano. What future horrors can be awaiting from Lois' closet?!?!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Night Fights--America's Pasttime Style!!

How to cheer ourselves up in the middle of a pre-winter blizzard? Baseball!!

Steve Rogers has taken his best gal Diamondback to a ballgame for a day of much needed bonding and relaxation. When, of course, some scumbags decide to hold the crowd hostage for dough. Captain America leaps into action and easily routs the crooks, only to find out that their leader is...

Emmenez-moi à la balle de jeuAh, Batroc...

Can you imagine being at that game???You've had your shots, Cap can bring the heat...

Seriously--Cap is a Mets fan?!?!Strike One!!

Shield slap!!Strike Two!!

Insert your own French retreat joke hereUh-oh, runner's going...

BTANGG!!!That's strike 3!!

Dude, with that many pouches on his belt, you'd swear it was the 90s!!Lesson--don't interrupt a man's baseball game.

The other lesson--Spacebooger don't want no sissy games!!

Fight far more entertaining than any Mets game presented by Robert Kirkman and Scot Eaton in Captain America #30 (2004).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On The One Hand...

A pretty fair description of how my day has gone:

Nothing's worse than an uncooperative disembowleeHmmm...demon hand, red've got to wonder when we're going to get the Claw/Hellboy team-up that America has been clamoring for...

snell's bad day captured by Michelinie and Giffen in Claw The Unconquered #10 (1978)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Re-Asking The Answer Man--1/9/1978

Back in the funky Seventies, DC had a promo page called The Daily Planet Extra which appeared each week in their titles, promoting the books that were out that week without being as relentlessly self-congratulatory as Dan DiDio's DC Nation columns.

A regular feature on these pages was Ask The Answer Man, in which DC editor and writer Bob Rozakis answered fans questions about DC. In an amazingly tiny amount of space, Rozakis banged off 3 or 4 answers per week, about who was from which Earth, what's up with this character, where's X going to appear next. It may not seem like much, but back in the pre-internet days, and with no authoritative reference books available, for a lot of people this was the only source for such official pronouncements.

(I'm obliged to note that, as memory serves me, in the latter days the questions became dominated by kids who were too lazy to go find a Comic Book Price Guide and wrote into the Answer Man such stunning questions as "How much is Flash #172 worth?" Man, I always found that's like going to the Oracle at Delphi and asking a question like "How much should I spend on a muffler?" Drove me crazy, I tell you...)

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to occasionally look back at one of the Answer Man columns, to see how well the answers hold up 30 odd years later. This is not to pick on Rozakis, let me assure you; as far as I know, he was always accurate at the time. But I think "re-asking" the questions can shed a little light about the state of the DC Universe three decades later.

So, presenting, the column from Daily Planet Extra for the week of January 9, 1978:

First up, we have this:

Oy. Could we have started with one more complex, more convoluted, more frakked up than this one? Let's just say that Donna's history has undergone more revisions and patches than Microsoft Vista. First they made her one of the Titans of Myth, than they made her a magical clone of Diana who actually created from a portion of Wonder Woman's soul. Then they decided that it was all true, and Donna was "the real sum of every Donna Troy that existed on every Earth, a living key to the lost Multiverse." I think that's where it stands now.

Remember how the first Crisis was supposed to clean up continuity? In Donna's case, not so much--it just opened the floodgates so every writer decided he could inflict his own clever origin on her. Wikinuity...


Hmmm...Isis is clearly on New Earth, or Earth-1, these days. But in the new multiverse, Earth-5 is essentially Earth-S, so maybe she's there, too.


Well, the Titans have reformed, and broken up and reformed and broken up ad infinitum since then. Hell, now we even have 3 Titans teams running around, so there's room for more members.

Power Girl is still a member of the Justice Society, but the Star Spangled Kid is dead. There's been a couple more since then, of course.

If Jimmy isn't a teen anymore, does that mean Elastic Lad was kicked out of the Legion of Super-Heroes?!?


Oooh, not quite, Bob. It was another full decade before we got to see the Secret Six again, as a regular feature in Action Comics Weekly in 1988!! (Sadly, this was after Bridwell had passed away...) Marty Pasko and Dan Spiegle revealed that Mockingbird was indeed one of the Six, Durant. But all of the original Six, including Durant, were killed in the second issue!! Don't fret...they were replaced by another Secret Six, and a new Mockingbird...who died...

It only took 17 more years for the new Secret Six, a ragtag bunch of villains, to be formed during Infinite Crisis. And Luthor was the new Mockingbird...oh, my head...

So what's our lesson? Bob Rozakis, be glad you gave up the Answer man gig, because despite the best intentions, everything became much, much, much more complicated after the various Crises.