Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Legion Lost

A few thoughts on the upcoming cancellation of The Legion of Super-Heroes, cause I loves me some Legion.

Adios, guys...First, poor Jim Shooter. Now, I was no huge fan of his current run. It was slow, repetitive, and occasionally turgid. And who starts off their run with a 16-issue mega arc?

But I still think DC treated him badly. After months of rumors that he was being canned from Legion, and months of speculation that Legion of 3 Worlds meant that Geoff Johns' version of the Legion was taking over, DC made only the most terse and non-committal of public denials. And now the other shoe drops--he's not being replaced, Legion is being canceled. Before Shooter's storyline is fully finished. Just coincidentally immediately after LO3W finishes.

Yeah, but this is Jim Shooter, right? Surely DC would have him do something else, right? Nope.

"I might be doing some stuff for Dark Horse, and I've been talking to the Valiant Entertainment people, who want me to do some things," Shooter said. "So I have no shortage of stuff to do. It's just that I was really enjoying this. I was hoping it would press on."
So. After all the fanfare about hiring him, it's buh-bye. Go peddle your wares elsewhere. DC used Shooter as stunt casting, and then tossed him aside. Whether it's because the sales were too low, or because Geoff Johns cleared his throat, Shooter deserved better.

Secondly, we should note that the while Legion has been on "hiatus" before, the was usually an intervening mini-series, such as Legion Lost or Legion Worlds. DC may already have something planned, and is just playing this pretty close to the vest until they're ready to announce. But if they don't, this "hiatus" will mean that, for the first time in almost half a century, DC won't be publishing any Legion of Super-Heroes. Happy 50th, Legion!!

Finally, Johns has said in about a dozen interviews that LO3W would define the Legion, would be "building the characters back up." Of course, one couldn't help but notice that only his version of the Legion actually appeared in LO3W #1 (which should have been titled Legion Of One World Sits Around And Talks All Issue While We Toss The Fans Of The Other Legions A Perez Spread Of The Other Legions As A Bone And Hope They're Satisfied). And now that there will be no stories of the other Legions being published...well, you've seen what's happened to Kyle Rayner and Wally West...do the math.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Manic Monday--Supergroup of the 1970's??

From Stan Lee's Soapbox, November 1975:

All that's missing is Muppets...Wait a minute...a project involving Stan, Terry Gilliam, and David Bowie??

Cue sitar musicExcuse me...my mind just exploded.

Too bad this (apparently) never happened. But what if, man...what if??

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Night Fights--I'm Too Busy To Do A Big One Style!!

A quickie:


OK with you, Bahlactus?

Catwoman taking down punks from Catwoman #12 (2002) by Brubaker and Stewart

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Child Abuse

Ego, the Living Planet, keeps on getting larger:

Don't bend them, Franklin!!What? Once again, please...

So, Franklin Richards reads Kick Ass and Wanted?? Really?? And Reed and Sue are cool with the beheadings and rape and dismemberment etc etc etc?

Mark Millar, ladies and gentlemen--so desperate to plug his own books he'll show scenes with little children reading them. Next up--passing out copies of War Heroes to kindergartners, and unrated DVDs of Wanted to Girl Scouts.

Meanwhile, the rest of this is a SPOILER ALERT for Fantastic Four #560, so if you don't want to know the ridiculous plan the "New Defenders" have been working up to, tune out now.

Really, I'm going to SPOIL here...

So, in the future these guys build a time machine, but don't have enough power to run it. So they kick Galactus' ass, and use him to power it. But...and this is a big but...even then they only have enough power to send a few of them back...they'll establish a base in the past, and build a bigger time machine, get more power, and bring all 8 billion people from 2509 back to 2008.

This begs a few questions:

A) Dr. Doom built a time machine, which required nowhere near the power of Galactus to power (not to mention Kang, etc). Is that technology lost 500 years in the future?

B) If the "New Defenders" were powerful enough to subdue Galactus, don't you think they would have had enough power between them to power the time machine anyway? It's not like they just punched him, is it?

C) The power of Galactus is insufficient to bring back 8 billion people...but "the combined energies contained in (the Human Torch), Doom and Galactus" are enough?!? Really--do Johnny and Doom come up to more than the tiniest infinitesimal fraction of the power of Galactus? Is it reasonable to suppose that they'd be enough to tip the balance??

D) Nitpicky here, I'll admit, but "the Earth was dying and flashing like a beacon.It was only a matter of time before (Galactus) showed up." ?? Uhh, Galactus is usually attracted to vibrant worlds full of energy, not dying, resource stripped worlds as Earth 2590 is presented as...I'm just sayin'.

E) Hulk Jr, dismissing the notion that his "big machine" might be a spaceship: "...there's nowhere suitable for a million miles." Obviously, Bruce II is as deficient at astronomy as he is at time travel technology.

Special bonus points go to the Thing and She-Hulk, for not even noticing that the Baxter Building is on lockdown, including all the lighting having gone red. Perceptive, they're not...Maybe they're color blind?!?

No, Jen, it's just mood lighting...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thank You For Making Us Love Again

Oh, Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming, thank you from the bottom of my heart:

Paging Joe Quesada...If more comics were this perceptive and funny and nasty, I could give up this blog and take up my true calling: watching Power Rangers 24 hours a day.

The beauty part: this wasn't nearly the nastiest dig in the Ambush Bug Year None #3. Not by a long shot. Hee hee.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brain And Brain--What Is Brain?!?!?!

Guess how I spent last night?!?

Will I be able to play the piano??My best friend had emergency brain surgery. And surprisingly enough, it's not as fun as Star Trek made it look...and no Eymorgs around at all.

Seriously, he's fine. But lack of sleep and sudden obligations have hit hard, so please, reader, I crave your pardon if I miss a day or three over the next couple of weeks. Real life and all, you know.

Now, if only the gave him Hitler's Brain...

A big upgrade

Monday, September 22, 2008

Manic Monday Bonus--Most Misleading Cover Ever

From 1997:

Cardassians are dire wraiths??Yes!! A ROM-Star Trek crossover!!!

When do we want ROM?Damn!!

I was expecting this:

I am Iron ROMOh, well, at least the children still love ROM:

Chris Sims' cosplayLive action ROM pic pilfered from Plaid Stallions...it's a way cool site you should all check out immediately. Because the 1970's rocked...

Manic Monday--#$%^ Christmas!!

Hey, look!!!

#$%^, true believers!!You can write a post-Secret War comic where Luke Cage doesn't swear like a $%^&&* sailor every other @%%$^ page.

Thank you, Cary Bates (who was writing comics before Bendis was born) and True Believers #3

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Coolest Thing In The History Of Comic Books

OK, John Constantine has a seriously magical badass after him, so he needs to whip up some pretty heinous magical mojo for himself. And it's December.

So what does he do? He goes to Italy, and breaks into the crypt of Saint Nicholas.

He steals some of his bones. Because it's the holiday season, everyone's belief has imbued them with awesome power. He grinds the bones into powder, and he...well, he...he...

I saw Johnny snorting Santa Claus...Yes, John Constantine snorts the bones of Santa Claus.

Wrong on so many levels, but so right for Constantine.

White Christmas brought to you by Andy Diggle and Leonardo Manco in Hellblazer #247.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Living Planet?

After the latest round of relentless self-promotion, here's our up to the minute standings:

Keep on keepin' on, Mark....

Friday Night Fights--Daddy Long Legs Style

There was a time, in the misty past, when Jessica Drew was not really the Queen of the Skrulls. When she wasn't a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was really a Hydra agent who was really working for Nick Fury against both groups as an whiny triple agent (or was it quadruple??). An era before she was a New Avenger, or a Mighty Avenger.

She was just Spider-Woman, private investigator, reluctant quasi-superhero, and someone who ran into the most macabre collection of oddballs in Marvel history. Under separate runs by Mark Greunwald and Michael Fleischer, Jessica came up against nutbars like the Needle, Gypsy Moth, the Brothers Grimm, Waxman, and the Cult of Kali (well before Temple of Doom, thank you), not to mention obscure Marvel characters as the Enforcer, Nekra, Werewolf by Night, and the Shroud. It was a fun book.

But a lot of people forget about the last-gasp, post-Chris Claremont run of Ann Nocenti and Brian Postman. Take, for an example, Daddy Longlegs. Ramsey Kole, a dancer, goes to visit Bill Foster (before he was killed just so Marvel could claim Civil War was "edgy" and "dangerous"). Ramsey, it turns out, has a real need for Foster's re-tooled growth formula:

Man, dance is all about the politics!Ahh, yes, the dance world is a jungle. Kole won't take "no" for an answer, and takes down Foster almost as fast as clone Thor did:

Wasn't that a Steve Martin album?Well, Kole soon learns, you shouldn't mix and match untested biochemical formulas, should you?

You took a Goliath formula, and are surprised you got big??Just how big is he??

Mr Dangerfield, just how big is the president??EEK!!

Anyway, Kole decides to use his new long-leggediness to break into the performance of an overrated pop dance troupe and show the public what a real dancer can do. Check out the creepy art (and the creepier cultural elitism):

Anything people like=badLong story short: Spider-Woman get involved, he refuses to be reasoned with, and fisticuffs result. But, to her chagrin, his gangliness and dancer's reflexes make him impossible to hit:

STEEEE-rike One!But he makes the mistake of getting in too close, so she delivers the Chris Sims Special...

They always fall for the face kick......followed by a full body venom blast...

Even in L.A., this is weird...and a full page put down:

Using your adhesive powers to crawl up people could have interesting applications in the budoir...As far as I know, Daddy Longlegs made only one other cameo appearance 3 issues later, and was cured in an Iron Man annual some years later. Too bad, because he was kind of cool.

Not as cool as Bahlactus, of course...

Jessica Drew before Bendis got his hands on her in Spider-Woman #47 (1982)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Supergirl Amuck

A strained analogy here...bear with me.

You remember the all-time classic Looney Tune "Duck Amuck?" Where Daffy keeps getting jerked about by a demented animator? That no matter what story Daffy's supposed to be in, the crazy dude with the pencil and paintbrush warps things to his own choosing, usually humiliating Daffy?

Well, Daffy is Supergirl...and the demented animator is Geoff Johns.

OK, I said it was strained. But take a look at two comics out this week.

I'm not defending this as a great story...Exhibit A is The Brave and the Bold #17, starring Supergirl and Raven. Written by Marv Wolfman, the story sure seems to be set in current continuity, as Raven is in her little goth girl goes to high school setting from the recent Raven mini-series. And Marv has Supergirl's origin the same as Jeph Loeb had it in the beginning of her current series: Kara's father was Jor-El's brother Zor-El. It turns out that Zor-El was an evil bastard, hated his brother, and sent Kara to Earth to kill Kal-El. In fact, that's what this whole story is about--Supergirl seeks out Raven's help because she can't deal with the memories.

Unfortunately, Marv apparently didn't get the memo: nothing counts in DC wikinuity unless Geoff Johns says it does.

This cover is relevant to the story how??Because exhibit B is Action Comics #869. In which Geoff Johns not only gives Supergirl the 4th different origin she's had since her latest debut in 2004. Yes, 4th--pathetic, isn't it?

But Johns also completely ignores/contradicts what Wolfman is doing, and what's been done in Supergirl's own mag. Think about this: if we accept John's version of Supergirl's origin, then virtually every single story from the first Supergirl's current run cannot have happened (not that that's a bad thing, necessarily, but still...). But the Black Kryptonite story? Wiped out. One Year Later in Kandor? Gone. The Phantom Zone story? Never happened.

Just like Daffy thinking he's going to be in one type of cartoon, but being thrust by a mischievous creator into something else, Wolfman had the rug completely pulled out from under his story. What, doesn't DC have editors, to warn writers that characters they're about to use have had their origins changed? Two stories in the same week with contradictory origins? Welcome back to DC, Marv...

And then there's Johns. Just how powerful is the guy, anyway? "I don't care what the origin in your own magazine is--it's now what I say it is!!" He's the demented animator. DC reality is what he says it is--he can change it on a whim! It's wikinuity.

Sure we could find some ways around this contradiction. The Zor-El in Action could be a fake, or a liar; Kara's memories could turn out to be fakes (planted by Darkseid??). But such concerns are pointless, because Johns doesn't care about contradictions. The DC Universe is his canvas, other artists' work be damned. So don't get used to the back story in any DC comic you enjoy. Because at some point, Johns will simply make those stories vanish.

See, we never needed Superboy-Prime to punch the universe. We don't need Darkseid's death to "cause continuity ripples throughout the DC Universe." We just need Geoff Johns to say, "Because I said so."

Ain't he a stinker?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

False Advertising Department

So bland we must concoct non-existent scenes on the cover to make it look interesting
That cover there, for Age of the Sentry#1, provides the most egregious case of false advertising since the movie The Neverending Story. Specifically:

No monkey for snell...At no point in this issue does the Sentry fight a monkey. No monkey even appears!! I want my money back, Marvel.

Of course, it's my own damn fault for spending yet more money on the lastest attempt to salvage the colossal wank-off excuse of a character, the Sentry.

No disrespect to the efforts of Jeff Parker or Paul Tobin here, but forcing a brand new character into already-existing past continuity via the "everyone forgot" retcon just doesn't work. It didn't work in 1994 when DC tried to pull it off with Triumph, "founder" of the Justice League who supposedly got eaten by limbo on their first mission and everybody forgot him. Hell, even Grant Morrison couldn't make him work. And it didn't work in 2000 when Marvel tried the same stunt (albeit more creatively) with the Sentry.

Despite the hammered repetition of "the power of a million exploding suns" and "a golden guardian of good," the Silver Age pastiche doesn't work. First, he's a terrifically lame character in present day, which negates our desire to see his "past" adventures. And nothing anyone has done, either earlier on or in this issue, provides him one lick of character, one interesting personality trait, one reason to care. He's a couple of I-wish-I-were-as-good-as-Stan-Lee slogans with nothing to back them up. He's an idea searching for a character and a story, and they still haven't found it. You could replace Sentry with Captain Everything from normalman in this issue and not have to change one line of dialogue.

Secondly, since we know his adventures aren't "real," we lose the suspension of disbelief necessary to make us enjoy these stories. Instead, they keep calling attention to the artiface, constantly referring to other Marvel characters, encouraging us to look for seams and continuity. They're afraid to tell an all-original Sentry Silver Age story without constantly name-checking actual Marvel characters, reinforcing the idea that Sentry is not a strong enough idea to stand on his own.

Finally, this type of Silver Age pastiche has been done much better before, from Alan Moore's 1963 and his run on Supreme to normalman to All-Star Superman to Mark Waid's Silver Age...when treading this ground, Marvel needs to bring something new to the game to justify $2.99...and they fail. Aside from the Mad Thinker dressed as a beatnik, this comic is a pretty bland affair. Go big or go home guys.

Admit it, Marvel...The Sentry was fine as a one-off who was forgotten again at the end of the mini-series. As an ongoing character, or as a basis for 1960's nostalgia, he just doesn't work. Ship him off to the Ultimate Universe, or the Squadron Supreme, or have him hang with the Exiles. Just get him out of my Marvel Universe, please.

And if you promise me a monkey on the cover, you'd damn well better give me a monkey on the inside!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Manic Monday--Son Of Still More Crap My Parents Never Bought Me

Deprived, I tell you, I was deprived:

Build your own ROM??Oh, c'mon, Mom, it's only $1!!

Great moments in ad copy: is there anything more thrilling than the simple statement "You'll be thrilled."?? No exclamation point, no bold face, no different font...just drone it out. Did Ben Stein write this??

My plans for potential world domination were thwarted because my parents wouldn't respond to an ad in Gold Key's Star Trek #27 (1974). I bet Dr. Doom had one of these growing up...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Now He Tells Us

From the December solicit for Final Crisis: Secret Files #1, written by Grant Morrison and Peter Tomasi:
Finally, the secrets of this year’s most talked about event can be revealed! Witness how Darkseid's death shattered the Multiverse, creating continuity ripples throughout the DC Universe!
Because, of course, you wouldn't want to put stuff like that into the actual story, would you...?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

All the Subtlety of Banshee

Wow, I didn't know Chris Claremont wrote Star Trek comics back then:

Even as a stereotype, it makes no sense...From Gold Key's Star Trek #27 (1974)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night Fights--Mannequin Style!!

It's Ladies' Night again, so let's take a look at a story from before you were born, 1958...

Let's join the one, the only Wonder Woman as she has to protect the hyper-wimpy Steve Trevor from some robbers:

Hurled so fast the red on the star vanishes...
Steve Trevor--grinning idiot!!
Ditko fingers!!Well played, Princess. But that's one of only four (yes, 4) times that she has to rescue the man she for some reason loves in this story. But the most significant rescue is this, the reason that I chose this story, something that always guarantees a place in Friday Night Fights:


And he just sits there watching...Oh, and that wager you see Steve referring to? He had gotten Diana to promise that if he needed her to rescue him three times during the next 24 hours, she would have to marry him. I know, I know...

This story was drawn by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Now, I'm a huge fan of Ross Andru--he was drawing Spider-Man when I got into comics, so he's always got a corner in my heart. But man, in 1958, he couldn't draw Wonder Woman's face to save his life (I would say any woman's face, but Princess Diana is the only woman in this story...). A few examples:

Plasticine, vacant, never the same structure twice...yuccchh. Unless, of course, he was silently commenting on Wonder Woman's origin as an animated lump of clay, essentially the first mannequin ever. Which makes me think I should finally get around to finish my epic Wonder Woman/Mannequin crossover fanfic. Oh, Kim Catrall, where are you??

Even Bahlactus couldn't make Steve Trevor into a real man...

Diana emasculates Steve Trevor many times in Wonder Woman #101 (1958), as reprinted in Four Star Spectacular #3 (1976).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Thank you, Greg Rucka, for using issue #2 of Final Crisis: Revelations to remind us that Grant Morrison actually told us, back in the Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle mini-series, what the Anti-Life Equation was.

That's right, the mystical MacGuffin that Darkseid spent centuries looking for goes:

loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth ÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding x guilt x shame x failure x judgment n=y where y=hope and n=folly, love=lies, life=death, self=dark side

Yup, after all the decades of hullabaloo, after all those comics where Darkseid just couldn't ferret out the intricacies of the Anti-Life Equation, it turns out to be just some lyrics from a Morrissey album, or a word salad from a depressed 7th grader's journal (probably accompanied by drawing of heavy metal skateboarders fighting tanks, or some such).

Some writers need to be reminded that they're really not doing Jack Kirby's work any favors with lame attempts to take mystery out of what was meant to be inherently undefined and, well, mysterious. Next thing you know, they'll try to destroy whatever subtlety was left from his Fourth World by doing something stupid like, oh, I don't know, renaming Darkseid "Dark Side" or something.

Oh, wait...

This Sounds Like A Job For Chris Sims

GIT needs Betty & Veronica #265.

Heaven knows, I don't have any Archie's in my collection...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nerd Alert

Too busy to do a real post today, because I'm wallowing in Star Trek comics.

Yup, the GitCorp DVD-ROM with EVERY STAR TREK COMIC EVER showed up today (OK, they don't have the X-Men Star Trek crossover. Trust me...you're better off). And when you combine Star Trek with comics, well, it's nerdvana. Check out the table of contents.

That's a lotta Trek...And just to prove they have everything:

Dammit, now I have to hunt down the recordToo bad the soundtrack isn't included. But inside, a moment that makes my skin tingle:

Did you just call me stupid?John Buscema draws Kirk, Conan, and Gandalf...(there are no credits, and all I can find online is that the "writers" are Cary Bates and Neal Adams, and Neal obviously did the cover...but that's gotta be Johhny B on the artwork, right?

One odd moment:

And you guys thought Vixen had it bad...Uhura, you've become white and blond! (If it helps, they made Sulu black...) And what is up with those tights??

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Surprise Ending to Secret Invasion--Revealed

OK, I'm serious this time. Unlike my goof on the "true" secret ending of Batman R.I.P., I think that I've really tumbled onto the actual ending of Marvel's interminable Skrullapalooza.

Yesterday at the Diamond/Alliance Retailer Summit in Las Vegas (why does everyone have a better life than I do??), Bendis unveiled the next Marvel line-wide blockbuster, "Dark Reign." His description:

"The Initiative was kind of like the Cold War," the SECRET INVASION scribe explains, comparing this new push to Initiative branding that followed 2006's Civil War. "There's a war, and then there's a cold war. This was an invasion, and from the invasion, certain people take the hit, certain people rise up as the heroes who you wouldn't expect, and from that comes a new power status in the Marvel Universe that some would consider a dark reign and some would consider heaven. One man's dark reign is another man's 'Finally!'"
So, aside from new books (like Dark Avengers....sigh), what could this mean??

Well, I think maybe Marvel may have let the cat slip out of the bag. Maybe. Check out the November solicit for New Warriors #18:
The future isn’t so bright. Not when Iron Man has taken the Superhuman Registration Act to new heights and imposed his rule over a good chunk of the free world. Super heroes have been outlawed and any hope of resistance has been crushed. And while the New Warriors try to escape this world gone wrong, Night Thrasher takes it upon himself to be the one who just might set things right...
Now, the phrasing could be interpreted to make it sound like the Warriors are doing a Days of Future Past bit, visiting an alternate future. But with this latest news about Dark Reign, I'm not so sure.

What if that New Warrior's story isn't an alternate future, but really the end result of Skrullapalooza? Iron Man decides more power is the best way to prevent Skrull shenanigans, and takes over, completing his transition to Fascist Man? Outlaw superheros, so Skrulls can't pose as them...use S.H.I.E.L.D. and Extremis to extend his power over "a good chunk of the free world?"

That would certainly result in shake-ups of the Avengers teams, including requiring some to be "Dark Avengers." It would certainly be a "new power status in the Marvel Universe that some would consider a dark reign and some would consider heaven."

Wow. If I'm right...if that's the end result of the not-so-Secret Invasion...color me impressed...maybe.

Mismatch of the Millennium II

Several months ago I presented what I termed the Mismatch of the Millennium--Thor vs. Stilt-man. Yes, that Thor and that Stilt-Man. Admittedly, I was a little too harsh on what was basically a just a silly late 1970's story (as Walt Simonson himself pointed out to me in a very nice email).

Of course, there have been other terrible mismatches in Marvel history. Today it's time to look at one of those. So I'll be much more polite about this Mismatch of the Millennium: Iron Man vs. Kraven the Hunter.

Now, this was 1964, when Iron Man wasn't the effectively omnipotent Extremis-wielding manipulator of governments that he is today. No, in 1964 he was still dependent upon his chest plate for survival (and still whining about it every chance he got). He was constantly worrying about running low on power, because his foes had a nasty habit of jumping him right after he'd done something strenuous and right before he'd had a chance to recharge. When powered up, he was tough...but he wasn't able to maintain his charge even as long as my sucky wireless mouse, which needs new batteries every 5 minutes. So, unlike today, back then Kraven vs. Iron Man wasn't necessarily an automatic laugher.

So, how will 1964 Iron Man fare against Kraven the Hunter??

Ah, munitions...those were the days...
So pathetic, he didn't even deserve an on-panel punch
And so the primitive Iron Man drags off his mate...Uhh...that long. 3 whole panels (plus the drag off). Considerably less time than a man on stilts lasted against the God of Thunder (6 pages?!?!).

Of course, that was part of the fun of early 60's Marvel--Stan could have anybody show up in anybody else's book and they'd have fun with it (that whole bit with Kraven was just the set-up for a "Chameleon tricks Iron Man into fighting Captain America for a whole issue" story). Back then, we didn't need no stinkin' "Acts of Vengeance" to have one hero's foes fight some other hero...they just showed up!! Sometimes a cameo, sometimes a full issue...anything could happen. Remember the buzz when Nick Fury showed up at the end of the Iron Man movie? Well, that kinda stuff was happening EVERY MONTH back then. A wild and woolly place, that early 60's Marvel...

Kraven's sad attempt to join the big leagues took place in Tales of Suspense #58 (1964). Of course, that fight wasn't exactly suspenseful, so maybe the mag should have been re-titled Tales of Ass-Whoopin'.