Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Vanishing Breed

Paul Dini will be writing the new Batman: Streets of Gotham ongoing that will be starting in June.
Dini said that he’s still breaking down what will be in the books, saying that Streets will take place all over Gotham City and involve a lot of people – from cops to citizens to other super heroes and villains, anyone who has a connection to Batman, but don’t know who Batman is. Their perceptions will offer a different view of the character than has been seen.
"(A)nyone who has a connection to Batman, but don’t know who Batman is?" What, that's maybe 12 people in all of Gotham by now?

Seriously, between everybody involved in Batman R.I.P. knowing, and approximately 1,007 of Ra's Al Ghul's ninjas knowing, and Dick Grayson blurting it out to every villain with a stupid trick, and every member of the Justice League and their spouses knowing, and 75% of Bruce's ex-love interests knowing, and...I'm just sayin' there's not much secret left in that secret identity...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Destroyer Style!!

One panel to portray, worth a thousand words....

The Fantastic Four have been summoned to Counter-Earth by The High Evolutionary, because Galactus has come a-callin' (his pledge to not eat Earth not applying to Counter-Earth, you see...sheesh, that guy has wiggled out his pledge more ways Gaius Baltar avoiding his deserved fate).

Galactus' current herald is the Destroyer. Yes, the Detroyer from Asgard, the Odin-created unstoppable killing machine. Thor, you see, loaned the Destroyer to Galactus in order to free Firelord from servitude as the Big G's herald. (And people say comic back stories are too complicated today).

So anyway, it's time to sum up the battle of the century in a single panel, as exo-skeletoned Benjamin J. Grimm jousts with the Destroyer on an airless artificial asteroid:

In space, you CAN still have sound effects, apparentlyNow THAT'S Clobberin' Time!! Of course, Spacebooger wouldn't have needed an exo-skeleton, would he??

SHTOOM courtesy of Roy Thomas and George Perez in Fantastic Four #172 (1976).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Battle For The Cowell Preview--Welcome Back, Babs

Well, this pretty much confirms it. Here's an interview with Dan DiDio at Newsarama yesterday, discussing "getting back to the most iconic representations of the characters":

DD: This is the next phase. It just happens to involve the return of characters who were there at an earlier stage in the history of the DC Universe, and they’re coming back. That’s all. It’s all part of the ongoing story and the ongoing history.

The characters that they’ve replaced are still there and accessible, and now they are still part of the next generation of the heroes of the DC Universe who will be carrying the stories into 2009 and beyond.

11. So there’s still a role for the second generation characters who took the role while their mentors were not in it?

DD: There will be an enormous role for them moving forward. There’s a big role for them now – Kyle is in Green Lantern Corps, so he’s never been marginalized; Wally and Connor, and even Cassandra Cain will be appearing throughout the year, and will be seen in roles where they really have a chance to shine.

That pretty much clinches it, doesn't it?

Barbara Gordon, during the Battle For The Cowell, will be in a three issue mini-series titled "Oracle: The Cure." That probably doesn't mean Barbara will be sitting around listening to her goth-rock CDs.

DiDio has lumped Cassandra Cain in with Kyle Rayner and Wally West and Connor Hawke, heroes recently (or soon to be) put on the back burner for the original, "iconic" Silver Age versions. (And just for the record--while some folks have suggested that the current DC regime has displayed an active hatred for the Giffen/DeMatteis era of the Justice League, can I point out that the above list shows we've now had 3 members of Grant Morrison's JLA replaced by "more iconic" representations?)

There's not a ton of other credible candidates to take up the Batgirl mantle. Spoiler? Huntress? Not likely.

Nope, unless DiDio is deliberately playing us, Barbara Gordon is going to get the use of her legs back (and why not? Bruce Wayne did, right?) and resume her duties as the titian-tressed crusader (with a remarkable short rehab period, it seems...).

Now, I'm not big on DC's sudden obsession with chucking out everything from the past 20 years (is it just me, or does "returning DC heroes to their most iconic representation" sound pretty much like a slow-motion Brand New Day, except with much better PR???).

But unlike Barry or Hal, they're not raising Barbara Gordon from the dead, just healing her. And as I noted above, what's good for the Bruce, is good for the Babs. And I must confess, I've always had a soft spot for Barbara as Batgirl.

So, believe it or not, I think Simon is going to approve this one.

Yup, I was right!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Loves Me A Good Homage...

...especially when it's a good one. Because when I see this:

I can't help but be reminded of this:

So kudos to Ed McGuinness, for capturing the feel of a classic cover without merely slavishly aping it.

And bonus kudos for homaging a cover from before he was born (probably), and not one of the classic icons.

And bonus bonus kudos for doing a tribute to John Buscema, whom you just don't hear enough about these days.

And quadruple kudos for not putting zombies or skrulls or apes orwhatever Marvel's get-rich-quick-alternate-cover-scheme is these days.

Now if only Marvel hadn't frakked it up by charging $3.99 for each cover, meaning you had to pay 8 bucks for the diptych...

Covers from Red Hulk #10 and Avengers Annual #2 (1968)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Fourth Member--A Prologue

One of my earliest and fondest memories of my comics life is the end of Fantastic Four #176 (1976).

I had hopped on board with #170. In the brief half-year of my addiction, I had seen Luke Cage serve as an emergency fill-in member of the FF; Ben Grimm in an exo-skeleton; the Puppet Master striking; a trip to Counter-Earth, featuring a battle between the High Evolutionary and Galactus; and the return of the Impossible Man. Wow, what a nutty and fun-filled 6 months.

And #176 brought them back to Earth, and Roy Thomas and George Perez had a grand old time having the FF chase a rampaging Impossible Man through the Marvel offices. Plus, a Kirby cover!!

But the high point of the issue, for me was this: the FF discover that, while they were gallivanting around the solar system, their foes the Frightful Four had taken over the Baxter Building. The Four rush home, and waiting for them they find this:

Does the Sandman have Norman Osborn hair??I can't exactly explain why, but that panel still sends chills up my back every time I see it. The poses, the facial expressions, the tilted camera, the teasing next issue blurb...if I hadn't already been hooked, this one would dragged me in anyway.

My next-door neighbor and I spent literally every single day for the next four weeks speculating who the mysterious fourth member might be. I was still pretty new to Marvel Zombie-hood, and he was more of a DC guy. But we would put together lists of every bad guy we could think of; we scoured our limited back issue collections, and letters pages, and Bullpen Bulletins, for any ideas. That's how compelling we found that single panel, that simple question of who would be the "final and most fearsome member."

(For the record, all of our guesses would turn out to be very, very wrong...we'll get to that several posts from now.)

What we didn't ask ourselves back then, though, was why such a supposedly awesome group of evil would need to find a new fourth member. In fact, from the page before, look at this:

Craig's List, 1976 styleYes, the Frightful Four, supposedly an arch nemesis of the Fantastic Four, had to put out a classified ad to find a fourth member. Not so Frightful, eh??

Of course, my limited Marvel experience had me in the dark about the sad fact that the Frightful Four had always had trouble filling that fourth slot. The Frightful Four, rather than being the evil doppelganger of the FF, had always been a trio of second-banana villains trying to step up to the big time, and were always--always--groping to find that fourth member who would put them over the top, and into the big time. And always failing, disastrously.

So over the next few weeks, I'll be taking the wayback machine to study the Frightful Four's fumbling attempts to find that fourth member, and examine why they always came up short. Why they never, ever quite made it to the top. And why that 4th slot was such a revolving door. Join me, won't you?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Manic Monday--Love Lite!!

As long as we're already in a groovy mood this week... Combining pyschadelia and commerce? Now that's trippy!! So what, exactly, is it??

And what uses can I put it to?

Oh my gosh?? Invite BOYS!?!?! And I don't think I want to know about the "come together Jam Session."

Still, I was hoping to learn at least one new word today...

Psycho-delicious?!? I'm using that in Scrabble today!!

Insanely mixed messages advertising comes from Incredible Hulk #136 (1970).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

House Of Ideas

From Marvel's May solicits, courtesy of Newsarama:

Written by ZEB WELLS
They’re back together again! Cannonball, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Sunspot, Magma and Magik have been gathered once more, but can they stand against one of the most powerful X-Villains of all time? Legion is back, and the villain that thrust us into the Age of Apocalypse is scarier than ever. But what does he want with the New Mutants?

Wow. Their long separated teen hero team from the 80's now reunited as adults. Where have I heard that before??

Will Marvel drop the 'New' and just call them 'The Mutants'?Oh. Yeah. That.

Marvel's sincerest form of flattery is really gaining speed. Let's see, Marvel waited 20 years to...borrow...substantial portions of DC's Millennium for Skrullapalooza...9 years to "follow" JLAPE with Marvel Apes...8 years to have their heroes bumfuzzled because an evil villain is now running the country, which in no way resembles President Luthor...and now they're down to less than a year for just coincidentally having the exact same idea as DC.

At this rate, Marvel's Battle For The Cowl will be starting next week...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Absolute Proof Of Entropy

Somebody please tell me this is just an early April Fool's Day joke.

Then again, if it can bring Dirk Benedict back...

This one's for the could we resist??

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Steroid Style!!

Spacebooger, in his infinite wisdom, has commanded that this latest bout in Friday Night Fights is O.P.P.--One Panel of Pain!!

But as those who've been following Slay Monstrobot for awhile know, I like to show the whole fight, to expound upon the whole story when I'm presenting my entries for FNF.

Can I do it? Can I overcome my naturally expansive proclivities and break a fight down to one panel of pain?!?

No, Jack, I said 'FOOM'Yeah, I guess I am down with O.P.P...

Lee/Kirby, in Tales Of Suspense (1965), are also down with O.P.P.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bold Fashion Choices--The Devil Wears Ro-Bert

If you loved The Devil Wears Prada...if you're addicted to Project Runway...then you've probably spent some small portion of your gray matter wondering: What was the New York high fashion business like in 1950??

Well, before Audrey Hepburn came along and ruined everything, apparently the chic place to buy fashion was from comic books:

The Devil Wears Gaberdine??Yes, reknowned New York City fashion house Ro-Bert was able to offer sophistication and high fashion for a low low price. Don't believe it? Look:

So sophisticated, we advertise in a children's medium!
For the price of a 2009 Marvel comic book!!Now, I know what you're thinking: This is just some American fool named Robert who put a hyphen in his name so it would sound French, just so he can sell cheap clothing to naive young women. Well, fie on that thought!! First, check out the "latest colors:"

Gray is SOOO glamorousWho else but a true fashion trailblazer would have those? And then check out this description:

Bust line, waist line--who knew women had so many lines?Rayon, people--RAYON!!!!

And Chez Ro-Bert wasn't the only outfit who thought that comic books were a great venue to sell high-fashion:

If her waist were any thinner, she'd be two-dimensional!!!Hmmm...and why does Wilco Fashions (also from New York City!!) get to demand $7.98 for their outfit, when Ro-bert only commands $3.99?

Edith Head is taking notes...Because they score a perfect 100% on the "fashion highpoints" checklist, that's why!!

So here's another way to revive the comics industry, and help keep the price of my comics down--bring the big fashion houses back on board to advertise!!!

Mr. Blackwell obviously missed Campus Loves #4 (1950)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Comics I Wish I Had--Bewitched #13 (1966?)

If there are young children reading this, you might to make sure they're not in the room when you check out this entry...because you're about to experience---

A GROOVE ATTACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see, back in the 1960's, even the most staid of media franchises sometimes just went plain nuts, acting like someone had laced their Wheaties with a couple of tabs of acid, in a vain attempt to seem hip and groovy to the increasingly powerful youth market.

And of course, in the 1960's virtually every TV show had a comic book spun off from it. Seriously, for just about every show that survived more than one season, Dell or someone would rush in with some licensing money to do a comics version.

Combine those two trends, and you get--

A GROOVE ATTACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, with that in mind, brace yourself...because you can never be ready for this:

Lizzie Borden/played her axe...GROOVE ATTACK!!!!!

My local comic shoppe has this available for 20 bucks. I'm sorely tempted, except a) you know the story itself has gotta suck, b) you know the story itself likely has no relation to the cover, and c) I can't justify the 20 bucks right now.

But the guitar...the tights...the crazed look on Elizabeth Montgomery's face...the insanely bare cover design...the "Wacky Way-out World of Witches!!"

Man, maybe I will head back to the shoppe this weekend...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scenes From A-Rod's Press Conference

Steve Rogers "sullying the record books" and "setting a bad example for the children" from Tales Of Suspense #63 (1965)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Manic Monday--Everyone Loves Chachi!!

OK, so we were pretty hard up for celebrities in 1980:

Ahh, Teen Beat!!But how do I know the starts will really get my letters?!?

You mean both Andy Gibb AND Richard Hatch??But where can I find out about my favorite stars' turbulent love lives?

Well, not such a secret anymore, I guessYes, but where can I get maximum Chachi?!?

Dude, he's like Fonzie's cousin!!Who else can I write to??

One of these names/is not like the other...BONUS: Posters!!

Oh, how i miss C.H.I.P.S
Oh, Bionic Woman, we won't even call you out by your actress' name--that's how hot the character is!!I did say we were hard up for celebrities...

Ads from Charlton Classics Presents Hercules #2 (1980)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Racist Bears Of Alaska

You know, we really don't spend enough time here looking at WWII:

Not a symbolic scene!!Ah, yes, I warned you this was coming.

I've avoided most of the fiendishly insensitive racial components of this story, but be advised there's a couple of rough things in here. Nothing as offensive as Gran Torino, but still...

So Uncle Sam and his young buddy...uh, Buddy...are watching a parade, which gives Uncle Sam an idea:

You don't know how hard it was to avoid a Of course, some of Uncle Sam's ideas are pretty freakin' weird:

I like Sam's version of nature better than the Discovery Channel'sBut it turn out Sarah Palin was right: Alaska IS key to our defenses:

Yes, US Military headquarters for all of Alaska is a yellow log cabinAnyway, Uncle Sam goes out to find some bears...and apparently has confused kodiak bears with polar bears:

Hat-poppin' funWhat follows is the greatest fight in Golden Age history:

Uncle Sam--the fourth Stooge
Bears can be taught by whoppin' 'em
...and again!The art here is by George Tuska (really? Yeah, that's what GCD says). I just wanted to point that out, because this next panel is maybe my favorite panel of all time (at least for this week):

Gotta love that sweat bead...on a bear!!Fortunately, mercenary bears work cheap:

They could have caught their own fish, Sam...that's what they do!So, Uncle Sam, now that you've tamed these fighting bears, how do you train the to fight for you?

Oh, dearThat's right...turn them into racist bears.


Anyway, who knew that George Tuska could draw such great bear faces?

That's one happy racist bear!Well, surprisingly enough, the Japanese do attack Alaska, so Sam lets out a mighty, patriotic whistle:

Bears Assemble!!And the bears do their job, pawing their way through the odd "fragile" Japanese invading craft:

Aquaman wishes he were that tough...The result? Well, let's just say that Chewbacca is very, very jealous:

30 years later, I STILL want to know why the wookie didn't get a medal...But wait,you ask...what about the mechanical penguins? Friends, trust me, you don't want to know (for those who do want to know--Buddy makes some exploding mechanical penguins that take out some highly offensive caricatures of Japanese soldiers rowing into shore...I just ain't going there).

You know, since DC owns this stuff now, how about a story where some of these bears are still alive...still filled with Uncle Sam's hate-the-Japanese training...and now it's up to the Freedom Fighters to stop them? I'd buy that.

The Golden Age Racist Bears of Alaska are from Uncle Sam Quarterly #4 (1942).