Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bold Fashion Choices--BEST. TUXEDO. EVER.

Go ahead. Try to claim that it isn't--I dare you:

You can't, can you? You're hypnotized by the sheer awesomeness of it.

The sole imperfection is that the bow tie might have been better as green. That white gets lost in the shirt, and doesn't contrast well with the yellow of the cape.

But perfect or not, it IS the best tux ever. And if I ever get married, I vow that THAT is the tux I'm wearing (unless I elope to Vegas, in which case, duh.).

Thank to wedding designer Jim Aparo, on the cover of Batman Family #11 (1977).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Manic Monday--Hip Hip Groove Hooray!!

Sorry, kids--you have homework today!!

(Click to embiggen to maximum radness).

Well, what are you waiting for?? Send in those entries--explain those "super-scientific gadgets", define Miss Mystery's powers, tell us your favorite teen fads!!

This will count for 10% of your final grade, so take it seriously!!

Taken from Harvey Comics Bunny #9 (1969). There will be more on Bunny--much more--later this week.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


In this week's Detective Comics #868, the leader of the impostor Jokerz issued a call for his followers to rob banks and stores and stuff, because it's "Free Money Day."

A ton of wannabes come out, too, because hey, free money, right? And after order is more or less restored:

Batman's response?

Excuse me??

Look, Batman, I know the higher priority in this situation is to stop the violence, and stop the impostor Jokerz and Batmen before more people die. Fair enough.

But couldn't you have just said, "The money's not important now--I gotta catch the bad guys"??

Instead we get, "It'll get spent. A week from now it will be back in the system"??!?!?!

Maybe it's because you're a clueless inherited billionaire, but your grasp on economics is a little bit weak. I'm not sure what "system" you're referring to, but I'm thinking those liquor stores, those gas stations, they might be missing that money a little bit, and won't be satisfied with, "well, the money's back in the system." Not to mention the taxpayers and insurance companies who will be out those bucks.

Let's try a little experiment. Head into your local comic shop, and steal some money from them (editor's note--don't do this). Now take that same money, go back inside, and use it to buy stuff from them. I'm pretty confident that the store will NOT consider that as having broken even, and there won't be a happy ending. And if you went to spend the money at some other comic shop, or 7-11? They'd be even less satisfied.

For that matter, why did you ever bother busting Riddler, Two-Face, or Penguin for robbing banks, or Catwoman for stealing art? It's not like they were going to bury the money in the back yard. They were going to spend it--so it would be "back in the system." Everybody's happy, according to you!!

I know $200,000 is a rounding error when you're balancing your checkbook, Batman. But it's real big money to some of these businesses...and doesn't not punishing criminals sort of violate your mission statement, and just encourage them to, you know, do it again?!?

So, Dick, less with the economic opining, more with the busting head, until you go back to college and finish that Econ 101 class you obviously skipped out on to hang out with Barbara and fight Tigress and Sportsmaster...

[Assuming that is Dick is Batman here, of course. There's absolutely no indication in this story, nothing whatsoever, to tell you who might be under the cowl. That's been the problem with 80% of the post-R.I.P. Dick-as-Batman stories--no real characterization differences twix Bruce and Dick. And I don't think that's what Grant Morrison intended...]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Look, Kids--The Heroic Age!!

When you see a banner like this on the cover:

You know you're going to get amazing acts of heroism like this on the inside:

Yes, at least when Bendis is writing, heroic="cowering inside a deli while Thor does all the work outside." Heroic=arguing about when you met, or "clever quipping" about cliches, while New Yorkers are dying outside.

And I mean--Killraven, for heaven's sake--his raison d'etre is fighting Martians, going up against those awful tripods. And now that he's got some actual super-heroes with him, he's content with "let's hide and shoot the breeze with Spider-Man."


Bendis aside, am I allowed to point out that there hasn't been all that much heroic about The Heroic Age so far?

Obviously, a big part of that is the continuing splintering of Marvel into self-contained Balkanized camps who, outside of spin-off mini-series, never ever seem to even be taking place in the same universe. Quick, name one impact that we've seen in a regular Marvel mag of World War Hulks, or any of the recent X-Men business...just one...

But even within the titles bearing The Heroic Age banner...has their been anything particularly heroic going on? The New Avengers and the Adjectiveless Avengers are both still in the midst of their initial and ridiculously padded storylines where they're merely responding to being attacked. The Fantastic Four is pretty much doing the same stuff they did under Hickman before the banner was slapped on their cover. Avengers Academy isn't much different than the stories we had with Avengers: Initiative. The short stories we've had in The Age Of Heroes mini, while entertaining, haven't been anything to make you sit up and go, "Wow, that was heroic!!" It feels more like leftovers from inventory stories that were just laying around.

Not that I object to Marvel not having a particular theme going for the first time in half a decade...but if you're going to throw that banner on your covers, shouldn't it actually mean something? Because so far we haven't seen anything that resonates as particularly heroic.

I can imagine how the conversations went at the Marvel offices:

JQ: Well, after Civil War, The Initiative, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and The Siege, what's next?

BMB: Well, we don't particularly have anything, boss.

JQ: Well, we have to have something!

FVL: Why?

JQ: How can we get the suckers readers to buy these books without a brand slapped on 'em? How can we market the trade paperbacks--"come read a bunch of unrelated stories?!?" No, we need a theme, a brand.

TB: Everyone's kind of burned out on events, boss.

JQ: I don't care if it's an actual event...we just need a marketing name so people think it's an event.

BMB: Will that work??

JQ: Works for Spider-Man...we're still calling it "Brand New Day" two years later, right?

GP: Hey, I know...let's call it "The Heroic Age."

BMB: Great, that means I have to make my characters act all heroic and stuff, right?

GP: No, that's the beauty part--we're already publishing magazines about heroes. We don't have to do anything--by definition, it's already "Heroic!"

JQ: An event where nothing different actually goes on...just a banner with literally no meaning, but still an obvious sales incentive to saps retailers and customers--I LOVE IT!!

JP: Hey, could we re-launch my pet book with that banner on it?? I just know that will save Agents of Atlas!!

JQ: Sure kid, whatever you say. Keep on dreaming....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Fights--Old Man Logan Style!!

It's Friday Night Fights time, Slay Cadets, and that means fun!!

Now, usually I stick the "please vote message" at the end of the fight. But numbers have been dwindling on Friday Night Fights of late, and we really, really want to get those numbers back of there. So Spacebooger is having a side-contest to help attract new participants.

And yeah, there's a gift certificate involved, but man, it's not about the money. It's about the fun. One of the reasons I started this blog is because I wanted to participate in the Fights every week. It's fun to show off your love for comics, and for audacious fight sequences.

So when you go to vote for the winner each week, don't just vote--leave a comment in the forum discussing the why of your vote. If you participate all 12 weeks of voting, you're entered into a contest to win 20 bucks.

And don't be shy--if you're a regular here, you've probably got some comic books, and maybe have access to a scanner. Do your own Fight, and join in the the fun!!

On with the Fight!!

You know, there are some characters so ridiculously popular, who are popular because they're total badasses...except we never, ever get to see the actual consequences of said badassery. Except this time.

Scene: while being attacked by a trio of lame and forgettable villains, the Human Torch accidentally lost control and unleashed his "nova" heat, destroying a good portion of the ESU campus. Oops.

Now he's in hiding. And for reasons that are never clear (except to set up a new series(!)), Doctor Strange decides to get involved, summoning the "Secret Defenders" to track down the Torch and capture him. And these "defenders" just happen to be the same folks who made up the infamous "New Fantastic Four" for a few issues a couple of years earlier: Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider.

So the Double Secret Probation Defenders confront Johnny...

And that's exactly when the real FF, along with "Ms. Marvel" Sharon Ventura, show up:

And the fracas is on.

But for our purposes, tonight we're going to focus on feisty old Logan, Wolverine, everybody's favorite uncontrollable ball of rage. Spoiler alert: Wolverine's going to be having a bad day.

First Reed Richards teaches him a thing or two:

Then the Invisible Woman knocks him around:

And then Ben Grimm steps in:

Uh...wait...Wolverine just mauled a good guy? I mean, actually severely injured him? Yup. The consequences?

BOOM! Bye, bye, Logan.

I've been critical of Tom DeFalco's run on Fantastic Four before. So it's only fair that I give him some props here.

For years, Marvel writers tried to have it both ways with Wolverine: he's a mean, mean dude who's prone to "uncontrollable beserker rages" and is constantly getting into fracases with friends and allies. Yet no one ever really got hurt, and he was still portrayed as cute and cuddly and he said "Bub" and he was considered a good role model for Kitty Pryde and other children.

But for this one story, DeFalco called out that hypocrisy--if you're going to have a psycho who has trouble controlling himself and is, at the same time, an incredibly dangerous weapon, someone IS going to get hurt, badly. It's inevitable.

After 20 years of people unrealistically walking away from "scuffles" without so much as a scratch from those razor-sharp adamantium claws, someone finally got hurt--badly--and this time it was one of Marvel's first and greatest heroes. And he wasn't under mind-control, or possessed by the Brood Queen, or one of a million other excuses. He just lost it during a skirmish, and people got hurt.

How badly was Benjy mauled?

And after getting his face even more pummeled in a subsequent battle, the Thing decided to go with a helmet for the next year or so:

So, praises to Tom DeFalco, Paul Ryan, and Danny Bulandi in Fantastic Four #374 (1993)(the last two panels are from the following issue, #375). For one brief moment, someone at Marvel actually dared to say, "Hey, maybe Wolverine isn't so cute and cuddly after all...maybe he's actually more dangerous to his friends than their enemies." For once, someone actually looked and realized that, given the characterization of Wolverine, it was inevitable that someone that someone would get seriously injured.

So the Illuminati got together and decided Logan was too dangerous and blasted him into space...no, of course not. Wolverine sold too many X-Comics for them to do that. All was forgiven and forgotten. Now, of course, he and Ben are members of the New Avengers together, and all is happy joviality. And Wolverine is such a total cash cow, he'll never hurt a good guy again, ever.

But for one brief moment, somebody actually dared to say, "maybe hanging around with an uncontrollable killing machine isn't a good idea." Imagine that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Great Moments In Product Placement

For reason we shan't go into here, Superman owes an awful lot of of money.

So he hauls this abandoned French Foreign Legion fort in Africa (!) to an elephant's graveyard (!), and...

Unfortunately, this is one of those stories where everything goes wrong for the Man Of Steel. So:

So that's how Superman is going to make his bucks--shilling for Proctor & Gamble!! Ivory Soap is better than ivory tusks, indeed!! (FYI, "It floats!" was Ivory's first slogan, back in 1891!)

Alas, poor Kal-El is not happy with his merchandising check:

And why, exactly, did Superman need a billion dollars? That's a story for another day...

Surely DC's motives were 99 44/100% pure for mentioning Ivory soap and it's slogan in Superman #148 (1961), as reprinted in Superman #284 (1975).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

S For Science!! (Or, Himmler Has Need Of Your Brain!!)

Warning: this post will frequently mention the phrase "Himmler has need of your brain." Please try not to be too frightened.

Yesterday, we spent a lot of time dealing with DC Comics Presents #69 (1984), wherein Perry White and the Blackhawks (and that ought to be the name of a band!) stopped Hitler's plan to stage and win a secret Nazi Olympics, but Perry got captured and the Nazis used the Klingon mind-sifter machine to erase his memory of the incident.

Man, the History Channel must have been too busy making shows about Ice Road Truckers to get around to covering this one, eh?

Superman had journeyed back in time to 1940 (or 1941--the story is very confused...) to see all of this. But he was missing in action through most of the White/Blackhawks business. So what was he busy doing?

Well, still in his civvies, he gets captured in the outskirts of Berlin:

And he gets a most curious cellmate:

Wait for it...

WTF?? How did Albert freakin' Einstein end up a prisoner in 1940 (or 1941) Germany? Let's listen...

Plot a course for England, land in Germany?? That's some "confused with directions," Albert!!

By the way, "Himmler has need of your brain" is perhaps the most perfect thing ever said in a comic, and if my blog weren't already named Slay Monstrobot Of The Deep, that dang well might be my title. Himmler Has Need Of Your Brain!!

Of course, the reason that Himmler has need of Albert's brain is that he has none of his own:

So, just to be clear--you have Albert Einstein in your grasp, and you put him to work...making a hypothetical super-soldier serum?? This is Professor Einstein, not Professor Reinstein!! Wouldn't you think you'd put Einstein to work on, you know, Germany's nuclear program?!? Oh, Himmler, no wonder you dopes lost the war...

Clark decides that it's time to escape, so he pulls a fake-Barry-Allen:

But how will Superman explain his costume??

Acccck. S for Science?!? Really?? And Einstein bought it??

Of course, the deeper question is, since Kal-El's strength really is a "birthright," a result of his Kryptonian biology...does that mean that Einstein would not approve of Superman??? Food for thought, Mark Evanier. Hmmm...

Well, Einstein and Superman escape:

But how will Superman keep this quiet??

Let's take a closer look at Julie's footnote:

I can just hear the U.S. brass: "Albert Einstein claims that he's invented a super-super soldier formula that would help us win the war. But he's just a dyslexic daydreamer, so we'd best ignore him."

Apparently, this story took place on Earth-Stupid...

But, Himmler has need of your brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And Then There Was That Other Time That Perry White Had Amnesia

A couple of weeks ago, we dealt with the time that Perry White had amnesia, and Superman cured him by tricking him into saying "Great Caesar's Ghost!!"

Gosh, I love comic books.

Still, given the long history--and extreme silliness--of DC comic stories, that can't be the only time Perry's had amnesia, can it??

Oh, heavens, no.

It's 1984, and the Metropolis Foreign Press Association is cleaning out their closets. They find an award for Perry from 1940 (although at one point Superman says that June 11th of that year is "six months before Pearl Harbor," so there was some crack editing going on here) that he never picked up, and they send it to him. The problem?

He has no memory of it!

Well, as always, it's a slow news day in Metropolis, and obviously there's no crime anywhere, so instead of walking downstairs to the newspaper archives, or checking a library, or looking it up on Nexis (or even the Bat-computer), Superman decides to fly to 1940 (or 1941) to solve the mystery. There, he finds Perry White assigned to report from London. Suddenly, big news!!

Yes, the Blackhawks! Did I mention that this was DC Comics Presents? No? Sorry about that.

Anyway, the Blackhawks rout the Nazis, and it turns out the attack on the royal family was just a feint to distract attention from their real plan. Which was??

And why kidnap a planeload of touring athletes?? Let's let Himmler and Hitler explain:

Steroid-inflated goons beating up normal humans = big propaganda victory. Right. Man, Hitler is such a DC villain...

Fortunately for the free world, after a ridiculous amount of shenanigans, and foolishly letting Perry tag along, the Blackhawks free the prisoners:

But, oh, Perry White...


So Himmler decides to make lemonade out of the lemons:

Double uh-oh.

So Bart Hawk is going to have to face Mark McGwire:

And it doesn't go well at all:

But that's when Superman finally shows up. (Where was he the rest of this time? Tune in tomorrow to find out, campers!!)

So Kal-El put's on Blackhawk's uniform, and, well, you can guess the rest:

So--steroid goons defeated, propaganda victory averted...Hey wait a minute...wouldn't the Nazis still have had that steroid formula? Couldn't they still have made a bazillion super-fighters? Shhh...

And what does ANY of this have to do with Perry White having amnesia? Well, for reasons defying reason, Perry gives Olaf (!) his story to mail into the paper, and decides to stick around Berlin to do some snooping.

Which inevitably results in:

Which, of course, leads to:

Wait just one moment (again). The Nazis had this kind of mind control technology? Really? And super-hero making steroids?? Really?? And never used it again? No wonder they lost the war...

So anyway, that's the story of how Perry got amnesia during WWII. And as silly and unlikely as it all is, it's probably a better way to lose your memory than being conked on the noggin while posing as a hobo.

Then again, the premise of this means that nobody--not his newspaper, not fellow reporters, nobody--had so much as mentioned this prize-winning story to perry for over four decades.

Gosh, I love comics books!!

But where the heck was Superman during most of this adventure?? You really won't believe it...so come back tomorrow for the saga of "S for Science!"
Perry White, the Blackhawks, and the secret Nazi fake Olympics took place in DC Comics Presents #69 (1984), by Mark Evanier, Irv Novick and Dennis Jensen. And Evanier and/or Julius Schwartz (or Bob Rozakis) apparently thought Pearl Harbor took place in 1940...unless you believe that Superman didn't know.