Monday, November 30, 2009

Manic Monday--What Did I Do That My Parents Hated Me So?

Really, what did I ever do to justify my parents denying me this??

Sigh...(click to ultra-embiggen).

At least I can resign myself to the fact that it probably wasn't all that big, right?

OK, OK, but there's no way that it could be as insanely cool as it seems, is there?

Yeah, yeah, but it's got to have the worst instrument panel ever, right??


The worst part--$4.98? Plus a whoppin' 63¢ postage? Yes, it was 1954, but that still comes to only $45.08 in 2009 dollars!! 45 bucks!!

My parents hated me.

Ad from Charlton's Danger And Adventure #27 (1954).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Golden Age Idol--Swing Sisson!!!!

There are certain genres of action hero who have been lost to the murky depths of time, once superheroes began to dominate the landscape.

And isn't it high time we revived them? Because, frankly, what comic books need today is a swinging bandleader who always manages to find time to bust up crime gangs:

That's right--Swing Sisson, Ace Of The Bandstand, was the Tommy Dorsey of the Quality universe...except this bandleader wouldn't have punked out when the Godfather made him an offer he couldn't refused--he'd have busted up Vito Corleone's gang and been back in time for the evening set!!

You see, in almost every issue of Feature Comics, Swing and the band would just be getting the joint jumping, when:

So, he'd go out and defeat the bad guys:

...and make it back to dedicate a new song to the hoods he's just busted:

How delightful.

Now, you may mock Swing Sisson. After all, who wants to read the continuing adventures of a swingin' crime-fightin' bandleader? Well, apparently Golden Age comics readers, that's who. Swing's run lasted nearly 100 issues in Feature Comics, ending only when that mag folded. He never made the cover, but he outlasted every other feature, including Doll Man!!

Now, the more skeptical amongst you may be asking, how in the heck do you keep the adventures of a crime-fighting jazz band leader interesting for nearly a decade? The answer: occasionally, you get really weird:

Yeah, that's right:

You see, we start with Swing buying some "antique" musical instruments from a really poor auctioneer:

But at the same auction, some low level hoods buy a very special sword:

Yes, in the view of the Golden Age, ancient wizards were really brilliant scientists (whose science somehow got lost in the intervening years, because they forgot to publish or something). And hoods were very touchy whenever their underlings questioned that fact. Ahh, the Golden Age...

Well, it turns out that the sword can cut through anything, so the hoods use it for a crime wave. But Swing's new horn? Baby, it's the Horn of Roland, whose blast can defeat armies by making them drop any iron or steel weapons!! So, when the unstoppable object meets the unopposable force, it goes a little something like this:

And after a round of exposition...

...the "special science" weapons are sent off to languish in the warehouse next to the Ark...

And that was the last Swing Sisson story ever. Which is pretty sad and terrible, because that hep cat could rock both the 1940's night club scene AND the 1940's criminal scene. Swing was king, and I have to believe that there's room in today's comics world for a bopping band leader who is also the scourge of the underworld.

Presumably, DC owns Swing these days (along with all of the other Quality characters). Then again, as far as I can tell, he hasn't even been mentioned in a comic for 50 years, so he very well could be public domain. So anybody out there--start printing Swing Sisson stories now!!

I mean, think about it--a jumping jive band leader, who fights crime every night, and had access to a magic special scientific trumpet that can defeat any modern weapon...that fits right into The Core Marvel Universe...

Swing Swisson panels are from Feature Comics #50 (1941) and #144 (1950).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why Kieron Gillen Should Immediately Be Made Writer On Doctor Strange. NOW!!

Ares, when one of his soldiers is complaining that some Olympian magical doings "don't make sense":

"It needs to make more than sense."

"Magic is naught but symbolism, weaponized."

Man, that is brilliant. Seriously. Plus, it happened while they're fighting zombie Hydra agents.

Nothing against Rick Remander or Mark Waid, but give Kieron Gillen the Sorceror Supreme to write. Right now.

From Dork Avengers: Ares #2, art by Manuel Garcia and Stephano Gaudiano.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Connor Hawke Style!!

Poor Connor Hawke.

He used to be the Green Arrow. He was a member of the Justice League.

Ah, but current DC leadership is stuck worshiping the comics they grew up reading, so any change is verboten.

So the original Green Arrow came back to life; Speedy/Arsenal changed his moniker to Red Arrow and took the JLA spot (although now that James Robinson has continued his dismemberment fetish, that may change...).

Not only had Connor fallen behind even Speedy II in the Green Arrow pecking order; hell, thanks to an assassination and having his "DNA spliced with Plastic Man's" (don't ask), Connor can't even use a bow and arrow anymore. (Note to DC: incredible healing factor and pain threshhold and martial arts? C'mon, do you seriously think you can make Connor Hawke into Wolverine??)

Anyway, it's high time we had a reminder that Connor Hawke rocked. He's getting hassled by some rednecks at a local diner. How's he handle that?

Ah, but this is Feet of Fury!! What kicks you got, Hawke??

Three with one kick? Not bad. Any last action?


Connor Hawke: victim of overly-nostalgic DC writers, but still a badass.

Spacebooger, fortunately, has not yet been replaced by the pre-Crisis version. But he'd better look out if Geoff Johns starts sniffin' around.

Connor's power lunch from Showcase '95 #4, by Chuck Dixon, Chris Renaud and Ray McCarthy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bold Fashion Choices--Thorn!!

I'm sure she gets this all the time:

Thorn, dearie, you really do need a new costume...

From Showcase '95 #4.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exclusive Blackest Night #5 Preview!!

This isn't the kind of thing we usually do here, but this is too big an opportunity for us to pass up!!

Please don't ask me how I got this--I'd hate for anybody to lose their job over this--but here at Slay Monstrobot we have obtained some exclusive, never before seen panels from the upcoming Blackest Night #5!! Enjoy:

It's all there. Green Lantern? Check. Dead heroes rising from the grave? Check. Said dead folks resorting to the incredibly effective tactic of adolescent taunting of our heroes? Check. Heroes acting stunningly helpless in the face of such fierce taunting? Check.

So, there you go. We've been thrilled to bring you an exclusive scoop of--

Wait a minute. You say that's not Hal Jordan, Green Lantern, but Alan Scott, Sentinel? And there are no black rings flying around saying "FLSH!" or power countdowns??

Let me look...Hey, hold on here!! This is a 15-year old comic!!

You mean to tell me that so far it's taken DC 4 extra-size issues and four tie-in mini-series and countless crossovers to cover exactly the same ground that R.A. Jones and Gene Gonzales and Wade von Grawbadger finished up in only 10 pages in Showcase '95 #1 (and cover it again and again and again...)??

Maybe that explains why I didn't even get one of those incredibly-sought-after chintzy colored-plastic rings with this issue (because heaven knows, I'm willing to spend $3.99 on a book I wouldn't ordinarily buy just to get a 25¢ novelty!).

Gee, I guess that's my mistake then. Sorry, guys. Never mind.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Manic Monday Bonus--Don't Tell PETA

I've already had my (waaay too overlong) say on Star Trek XI: No Subtitle.

But with the film out on video now, I just had to note one more thing.

In this movie, Scotty admits to murdering a dog as part of a unauthorized scientific experiment. And everybody in the audience laughs.

Now that's screenwriting. Michael Vick should have had Kurtzman and Orci on his defense team...

Manic Monday--"This Is Not A Spineless Offer!"

Just to prove that middle-aged music executives weren't always clueless gumbies who didn't know how to communicate with the day's youth, here's a beauty of an ad from Deathlok #16 (1992):

You can click to embiggen (and see by crappy cut and paste job I did to scan a double page spread). But let me hit you with the gist.

Every month Warner Music would send you something called a "VHS video cassette" via the "U.S. Postal Service" containing 10 of something called "rock videos." And they'd only charge you $2.98 each (plus shipping and handling...shhh).

Plus, "up to 6 times a year," you'd receive "special video tapes" containing "cutting edge artists" in "your preferred musical interest." Also for just $2.98 each (plus inconsequential shipping and handling...shhh).

In other words, you'd be paying 54 bucks annually (plus shipping and handling, which would ad what, another 30-40 smackers onto the bill?) for VHS tapes of music videos you could watch for free on MTV (who, believe it or not, still showed some videos in those days...), and even tape for yourself if you were so inclined.

But really, they're not trying to con the youth market: look at all the ridiculously inappropriate use of adjectives:

How rad!! That's EXACTLY how kids talked then!! There's nothing at all phony or condescending about that!! It's all about faux-attitude!! Rock on!!

Well, at least they got one thing right:

Damn way I'm cutting up my Deathlok!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What If JMS Had Written Batman All Along?

Picture, if you will, Detective Comics #33 (1939), as scripted by J. Michael Straczynski:

Amended dialogue borrowed from Brave And The Bold #29, featuring Batman and Brother Power The Geek.

You know, if there's any DC comic that should be fun with a capital F, it's B&TB. And if there's any DC mag that's been less fun since JMS took over, I'm at a loss as to what it could be. Ambitious, perhaps...but also plodding, moralizing, depressing and the apotheosis of what a team-up mag featuring DC characters shouldn't be.

Here a quote from DC's The Source blog, where JMS was describing what he intended this issue:

And I’ll tell you this much: after this issue, nobody’s going to wonder why on earth I’d use the Geek in a story with Batman. And a lot of those who laughed at the notion, won’t be laughing by the end of the issue.

Well, sir, many of us weren't laughing in derision, we were laughing in delight at some of the story possibilities. But you're 100% right, Mr. Straczynski: we definitely weren't laughing by the end of the issue.

Note: I must acknowledge that Caleb did a much better job of picking on the dialogue than I did, and does a better job of picking out reasons why the JMS run on B&TB is so annoying...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Ghost In The Machine Style!!

The 1990s wasn't just the time of Marvel's loudest, suckiest era...although it was that.

It was also the time of cyberpunk. And cyber wars. And Cybermen (oh, wait, that was 30 years per usual, Doctor Who was ahead of its time, albeit in a creaky, low-budget way).

Thanks to William Gibson and Neuromancer, anything even vaguely sounding like it involved mind and machine had such a cachet of cultural coolness that of course the comic companies leapt at any chance to be on that bandwagon. That's why some of the major story arcs in the early 90s Deathlok run had titles like "Soul Of The Cyberfolk" and "Cyberwar" and "Cyberstrike."

So, when Deathlok #19 (1993) came along, it's no surprise that, along with an unnecessary chromium cover, we had a fight in...wait for it...cyberspace!!

When Michael Collins/Deathlok uses his "cybertek" to "jack into" the "mainframe" of the "cyborg supersoldier" Siege, he is confronted in "cyberspace" by the "artificial intelligence" program that is all that remains of John Kelly, the previous inhabitant of the Deathlok body.

But, despite all the "cyber" talk, this is still a comic book, so it's all just an excuse for a good old fight:

Damn, even in cyberspace, a face-kick is a face kick...

I fear Spacebooger is living in my computer, waiting to wallop me...

Deathlok #19 (1993) comes to us via Gregory Wright, Walter McDaniel and Kim DeMulder.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Fourth Member--Et Tu, Brute?

Well, after yesterday's thrill ride, can the Frightful Four possibly fail?

Hee hee...of course they can, they're the Frightful Four. I mean, duh.

We leap forward to Fantastic Four #178:

I'm a big FAN of this drawing...get it? GET IT?The Reed Richards from Counter-Earth has turned evil and joined the Frightful Four as the villainous Brute! Thundra and Tigra tried to help out, but were captured!! George Perez draws great giant propeller/cage thingies!! The ultimate triumph of evil!!

The big question is, how did Reed 2 turn evil, and get to Earth? Well, you see, a few issues back the FF were on Counter-Earth, helping the High Evolutionary fight off Galactus. All this action revealed the existence of the High Guy's fake asteroid lab, and C-E authorities sent their Reed Richards to investigate.

COunter-Earth gets jetpacks...we get bupkissThere, he finds the ship the FF used to get there, and while exploring...

Nothing is quite as disquieting as nearly-naked-while-puffing-on-a-pipe-evil-Redd-RichardsOh, dear, we've gone all Gilligan's Island. C'mon, Roy Thomas--you pull off a master coup of nerdishness by making Reed 2 your big reveal and fourth member...and then you cheese it all away with the old "blow to the head turned me evil" chestnut?? Really??

So, after stowing away to Earth, Reed/Brute saw the ad in the Daily Bugle (because after coming to a new planet, obviously the first thing you do is check the classifieds!!), and joined up with our fearsome foursome in time to save the day for evil.

Now, however, he proves he doesn't really belong, because he displays enough common sense to want to kill the FF immediately. The frightful ones, however, disagree:

Random Perez carnageBut the Wizard halts the rampage by revealing their true plan:

The Brute cannot comprehend the stupidity of his new allies
Ah, J. Jonah Jameson, aider and abettor of super-criminals and their schemesYes, they're going to hold the FF for a billion dollar ransom from New York City. Despite the fact that, at the time, NYC was notoriously broke. And even though the Wizard has perfected anti-gravity, and could be a billionaire from the patents. And even though Trapster has invented the world's toughest paste, AND a solvent that can dissolve any adhesive...again a patent worth a lot of dough. And even though their newest member is an evil Reed Richards, who probably craps a billion dollars worth of patents before breakfast and would be unfettered by morals about selling weapons, etc. Seriously, WHY are these peoples criminals?!?!? Why do they need to ransom the FF???

Meanwhile, prepare for a dose of "political satire," as New York mayor Abe Beame calls various presidential candidates asking for help in raising the billion:

What? No Ted Kennedy jokes? Too soon?Ho ho, ho ho.

So it looks like the ransom is not going to be paid, and the National Guard is camped outside the Baxter Building...

Better than many possible deployments
...and why weren't they there when the Wizard publicly advertised a gathering of super-villains??

Now the Wizard reveals exactly what he plans to do with that billion dollars:

This makes the least sense of any plan ever
We won't kill the FF when we have them...instead we'll use that help us kill the FF?!? Man, some super-villains shouldn't be allowed to play with normal scissors, if you know what I'm saying...

So, when the money's not there, Wizard is ready to throw the switch...

Oddest Wizard face EVERWhen...

OK, crazy deus ex machina time. Back in FF #177, at the start of this little mess, the Impossible Man was hanging with the FF. But early in the battle, he got a little...distracted:

Noooooo---not mid-70s ABC shows!! AAAGGHHHH!And he's been watching TV THE ENTIRE TIME!! Remember snell's Third Law Of Comic Writing: The more powerful your character, the stupider the excuse you need to keep him from wrapping up the whole issue in one panel. It's therefore a measure of how powerful the Impossible Man is, when the best thing they could figure was: have him watch TV all day and night.

Then, by a ridiculous coincidence, the 3am deadline for the ransom is exactly the same time as:

What, no George Foreman grill? No Oxyclean?That's right, children, TV stations didn't always broadcast all 24 hours of the day, or fill the dead time with infomercials. They actually stopped broadcasting, just putting up a "test pattern." Weird, I know. Anyway, Impy decides the problem must be a lack of power to the television, and coincidentally the precise moment the Wizard flips the switch:

Any comment I make to this would be far, far too ribaldYes, Wizard, it means that:

And then some idiot turned out the lights
Remember--you could have just shot them...but noooooIn the ensuing melee, the Brute threatens Sue:

Brute, at least this one's not in a coma......which leads to the shocking development:

Have you tried Viagra, Reed?That's right...Reed loses his power to stretch at precisely the moment another Reed who can't stretch is hanging around. You can see what's coming, can't you? Man, Roy was really leaning on the old coincidence machine this issue...

So, just because Perez demanded more panels of the Thing punching people:

Another one I should have saved for Friday Night FightsAnd Tigra proves that, even wrapped up in paste and floating around, she's still tougher than the Wizard...

Wizard: coward and a loser...well, for the Wizard, it's always about gender, isn't it?!?

You wish, wishWhatta putz.

As the battle wraps up, Brute/Reed grabs our Reed for a little one-on-one killin':

OK, we're getting into weird territory here...he just wants to be alone with himself?!?The rest of the frightful ones end up the way they usually do:

Perhaps next time, the Frightful Four should just start at this point, and save everyone a lot of workAnd by the time everyone manages to find Reed:

Again, waaay too much nearly naked ReedAh, so the good Reed managed to put the bad Reed in the Negative Zone...or did he?!?

The evil sneer should have been a giveawayMan, that was the fastest clothing switch ever. And, unless Reed had already been wearing green trunks, involves some uncomfortable imagery...and nobody in the FF thinks to maybe be suspicious, or ask questions (like how a powerless Reed beat the Brute), or at all consider that maybe they've got the wrong Reed.

So, for the next several issues, our Reed was trapped in the Negative Zone, while the FF were led by the Brute. And how was this all resolved? In FF #183, by Bill Mantlo & Sal Buscema (and plotted by essentially the whole Marvel Bullpen...):

Head injuries are like magic!!Yes, if there's anything lamer than the "blow to the head made me evil," it's got to be the ultra-convenient "the concussion that made me evil has worn off." Sigh...

So...fourth member who ultimately turns good? Check. Have the FF at your mercy but refuse to kill them for some half-baked reason? Check. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory? Check. Still 500 time losers? Check. Still the Frightful Four we know and pity...