Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Night Fights--Si-Fan Style!!

Last week I brought you a kangaroo fighting Nazis.

So how can I top that for this week's Friday Night Fights? How about Shang-Chi fighting 1970s South American Nazis AND Fu Manchu's death cult?

Yeah, that happened. The two factions are fighting over possession of a stolen nuclear warhead, and Shang & his MI-6 buddies are trying to thwart them both.

Shang-Chi has disguised himself as a Si-Fan, but oops...

SPOILER ALERT: The goods guys get the nuke.

Spacebooger hates South American Nazis almost as much as he hates Illinois Nazis.

Credits from Master Of Kung Fu #24 (1975) are a mess . Doug Moench wrote it, but the pencils are credited as "Milgrom, Starlin, Weiss & Simonson." I'm not gonna try to untangle that mess. Inks were by Sal Trapani.

Now is the time for you to go and vote for my fight. Why? Because you want Shang-Chi on your side when the Fifth Reich rises in, oh, I don't know, Madagascar. So vote, and he'll protect you.

Why Comics Are Great, Reason #2,447

A sneak preview of today's Friday Night Fights:

Yes, we've got Fu Manchu's Si-Fan hordes fighting Fourth Reich Nazis in South America over possession of a stolen nuclear warhead.

Goddamn, comics are great.

From Master Of Kung Fu #24 (1975)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bendis, The Avengers And The Illusion Of Change

At the end of Bendis' record-setting Avengers run, we should acknowledge the many lasting changes he brought to the team (and we also should acknowledge that, as lynchpin of the Marvel Universe and the focus of many "events," other hands also deserve a share of responsibility/blame here).

The Scarlet Witch went mad, and killed several Avengers. Then she went madder and eliminated most of the worlds' mutants. Oops, never mind, she's better now, and the mutants are back.

Scott Lang was killed. Oops, never mind, he's alive again.

Hawkeye died. Oops, never mind, he's alive now.

The Vision was destroyed. Oops, never mind, he's all fixed.

The Wasp died. Oops, never mind, she's all better now.

Wonder Man went nuts, and decided to destroy the Avengers. Oops, never mind, he just sorta snapped back to normal with no explanation. All better now.

Doctor Strange lost the title of Sorcerer Supreme, and in a very overlong story, it went to Brother Voodoo. Oops, never mind, Voodoo died, and the title went back to Strange.

Avengers Mansion and/or Tower was destroyed at least three times (four? five?), and each time Tony Stark declared he was too broke to fix it. Oops, never mind, somehow it got fixed each time.

Bendis had the Scarlet Witch turn public opinion against the Avengers. And then Tony Stark turned public opinion against (some of) the Avengers. And then Norman Osborn. And then Wonder Man. And then Norman Osborn again. Silly villains--that trick never works!

And let us not forget the massive contributions of new members such as Echo, Quake, Storm, and the Protector! The Avengers would never be the same after their legendary tenures!

Yeah, I'm being a dickweed here. The time for a real retrospective will come later. And it has to be acknowledged that, during his tenure, the Avengers grew larger as a brand than it had ever been, rivaling the weight of Marvel's X-Titles.

But for now, let's just note that Bendis basically undid every single change he had made to the Avengers as he exited. Maybe that's just being polite--putting all the toys back in the toybox so the next kid can start fresh. Or maybe that's just an acknowledgement that nothing really happened during those 9 years.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Old Character, New Premise? Proposal #13

If you thought that you knew how skeptical Terrence Thirteen was, well, you really don't. Check this out:

Dr. 13 is, of course, busting a "ghost"...

Well, he fails to save the guy, but it still counts as a ghost busted:

And our explanation?

You mean you don't believe in The Flash?!? That's hard-core skepticism, brother, since you live in the DC Universe.

Now, I know it wasn't Thirteen who actually uttered that line; and I know you could easily interpret "that character in the comic books" as an odd turn of phrase, and it doesn't necessarily mean you don't believe in a founding member of the JLA. (For the record, this story was meant to appear in 1973, but got bumped to Phantom Stranger #34 (1975), so it's not like the world wasn't very familiar the Flash)

But you know what? That strikes me as a viable course for the new nu52 Dr 13.

In the old universe, he was the "I don't believe in no ghosts no matter what evidence you show me" skeptic.

Now? He's a hard-core believer. He has the Phantom Stranger on speed dial--literally! He's "spent a lifetime tracking and cataloging every supernatural and mystic incident across the globe. I know the actions and locations of every known and unknown entity." (Quote from Phantom Stranger # 2 (2012)).

So he's gone from being Scully to being Mulder. Now he's the Oracle of the mystic world.


So here's my proposal--13's most memorable character trait was skepticism. So don't throw that out--keep it! Just reshape it a bit!!

Now, instead of doubting the supernatural, he doubts super-heroes!! 

He doesn't believe a man could come to Earth from Krypton--he must be a demon. He refuses to believe a man could run at the speed of light--it must be magical trickery. A nuclear man? Pshaw--only fools would believe than humbuggery--Firestorm is clearly a minion from Trigon! Green Lantern and will power? Phooey, spell-power!!

Not only would this be a great set-up for the character (and justify a new back-up series in Phantom Stranger?); not only would that be a great way to tour some of the yet-unexplored corners of the nu52; but it would also be the set-up for the greatest twist of all time:

Because despite the evidence, Thirteen will never believe that the DC heroes aren't magical in nature, hiding behind fake science explanations. But in one case, he'll turn out to be correct, and we'll reveal that...

Well, that's why I'm not allowed to write comic books...

Worst Thing About The nu52 #13

 Not that I needed any more reasons to be cranky, of course, but a couple of weeks ago we saw this:

That's right..."Last of your family line." Which means...

No Traci Thirteen in the nu52. She not only hasn't appeared...she hasn't even been born.

Which is odd...

...because pre-Flushpoint, DC seemed to be building up to bigger things for Traci--Blue Beetle's girlfriend, a back-up series in Teen Titans, etc. And she had her own mini-series during Flushpoint, as "the most important girl in the world." Heck, she was even created by Co-Uber-Poobah Geoff Johns, which you would think would guarantee the character's continued existence, if not prominence.

Not so much, it would seem. Apparently Johns doesn't have Jim Lee's pull, and it was more important to inject Voodoo in the DC Universe.

I suppose we can hope that the Haunted Highwayman is a sexist dick who only counts male descendants as the "family line."

Probably not, though. Traci was, of course, a legacy hero, and unless you're one of the Robins, that's verboten in the nu52.

So farewell, Traci. It was nice knowing you.

Panel from Phantom Stranger #2 (2012). Cover from Flashpoint: The World Of Flashpoint #1 (2011).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Who The Hell Is Wayne Thunder?!?

I've never read this Belgian comic--I'd never even heard about it until I stumbled upon it on GCD...

...but that's a pretty cool cover, as is the second (and apparently last) issue:

Damn,it seems like Belgium rocks a little harder than I thought. Maybe I'll have to seek them out (and teach myself to read Belgian...)

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Match...

File this one under How Things Have Changed:

For those distressed by DC's ham-fisted match-making of Superman and Wonder Woman, you might be interested in this.

Back in Wonder Woman #253 (1979), the editors revealed that they had been planning to romantically pair up Diana with a fellow member of the Justice League, but a fan had written in suggesting the very same pairing, so they put a kibosh on the idea (more on that peculiar reasoning in a bit).

They didn't reveal whom the super-beau was supposed to be, which led to plenty of comment/speculation is the letters column of #259 (1979):

Oh, the things to note!!

**The list of married heroes? In the nu52, Atom, Flash and Hawkman are no longer on that list, and Elongated Man doesn't exist as far as we know. Apparently, in 1979, marriage was considered much cooler by DC than it is in 2012. But hey, at least they let Aquaman stay married!!

**Green Arrow "can't" because of Black Canary? Yeah, like Ollie ever kept it in his pants. Of course, in the nu52, I don't believe that Arrow and Canary have even met. (I should also note that it doesn't even occur to Anthony Mizzi to pair Diana with Dinah...but hey, it was 1979)

**"Superman can't because of Lois Lane" How about that? It was inconceivable that Superman could be interested in someone besides Lois Lane, the very idea dismissed out of hand. Such an idea was viewed as simply a non-starter. Oh, the golden years...

**"Red Tornado can't because he's an android"?? The Vision had been macking on hotties for over a decade by this point, and had been married for 4 years. I guess DC just wasn't as culturally advanced as Marvel in 1979...

**"Green Lantern was the one..." Hahahaha...Hal Jordan and Diana romantically involved?!?!? Seriously?!?!? Hal Jordan?!?!?! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!! No, really're not kidding?!?

**I'm really not sure of the logic Jack C. Harris is presenting here. You drop your plans because some reader also suggested it? I can sort of half understand it, in a "preventing someone for suing us for stealing their ideas" way. Although that makes no sense, given the thousands of letters DC receieved every months--did they seriously go through all their letters and and make sure that none of the storylines they were planning were ever suggested by readers? Hell, why have letters pagers, then?!? You're just inviting trouble. Seems more like "we changed our mind, but decided to blame the fans..."

Still, the "we changed because a reader suggested it" explains the Monarch/Captain Atom/Hawk debacle, so maybe that really was how DC operated...

**OK, so one fan suggests something they already planned, so they drop it...but if "enough of you write" they'll go through with it? That blows the whole reasoning out of the water. WTF?!?

**I know that DC in those days could be quite rigid and hierarchic in their editorial houses over who got to do what with whose character. But the fact that the editor of Green Lantern was no longer the writer of Wonder Woman means you can't do the idea? Really? It doesn't seem that too many "logisitics" would be involved--they're going out, so once in awhile GL appears for a couple of panels in WW, and vice versa. Really, why is that so hard to contemplate??

**Hal Jordan and Wonder Woman?!?!?!?! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manic Monday--Why Is This Not A Comic Book?!?

The other day I was whining because there are currently no James Bond comics being published. Which strikes me as something of a crime, because A) I'm a huge James Bond fan, B) James Bond seems particularly adaptable to comics, and C) James Bond is plenty popular, so it seems like it would sell.

Well, naturally, that put me in mind of some other franchises who should have comic book versions, but don't.

Let's note that I haven't researched the rights issues on these in the least. In some cases, it may be  because the rights holder doesn't want comic book versions, I'm sure. In some cases the rights fees being asked might be too damn much. In some cases, there are doubtless complex situations and intense litigation involved, so making comic books are definitely on the back burner. Or, perhaps, in some mega-corporate takeover situation, the owner doesn't even know they have the rights, or not realize what a goldmine they might be sitting on (hello, ROM).

So, with the acknowledgement that these all might be unlikely, or even impossible, allow me to present one man's opinions of the entertainment franchises that most need to get comics.


Discounting collections of British newspaper strips and Topps' 1996 adaptation of Goldeneye, America has been without 007 comics for nearly two decades. Eclipse and Dark Horse gave us some original James Bond Prestige series' back in the late 80s and early 90s, but after that...zilch.

Which strikes me as insane, given the obviously popularity of James Bond right now; the 50th anniversary of the film franchise, which seems like the perfect hot iron to strike; and the artistic success of the super-spy genre in comics.

 So somebody should really be getting their act together right now, because they're leaving serious money on the table.


Dell/Gold Key had a brief MI comic book in the 60s, but that was only because literally EVERY television series of the era had its own comic (or so it seemed). And, in 1996, when Paramount and Marvel were being all buddy-buddy, this little chestnut appeared:

You're welcome.

Other than that, nil. Zilch.

For many of the reasons cited with Bond, MI would make pretty good comic fodder, I think. Plus the possibility to do stories that cross eras, with Ethan Hunt having to set right something that went wrong on one of Jim Phelps' missions (goddamn, that's a good idea...and we can conveniently retcon away the nonsense of the first movie making Phelps a traitor...).

BONUS: Include AR on the cover, so when you point your smart phone at it, it plays out the mission briefing!! Double bonus if it makes your phone self-destruct in 5 seconds...


This one seems so obvious that I can only surmise that J.K. Rowling simply isn't interested. Which is a shame, since a) the obvious appeal to young readers and b) the wonderful opportunity to flesh out the Harry Potter universe seems like an "everybody wins" situation for fans, for comics shoppes, and for Rowling's pocket book.


This one surprised me. But other than a 3-issue prestige series adaptation of the Hobbit from Eclipse in 1989, as near as I can tell there hasn't been a single other comic book version of either Hobbit or Lord Of The Rings...ever. Anywhere. (OK, there was a Dork Tower: Lord Of The Rings Special, but that hardly counts).

Am I missing something? Given the 15 trillion ersatz LOTR knock-offs that get comics, it's pretty clear that the original would be popular beyond belief. So what's the problem?

FACT: There have been at least a couple of dozen Tolkien-based video games, and only one comic book. That is wrong on a lot of levels.


OK, this is an oddball thing, I'll admit. And comedy comic books can be difficult to pull off.

But then again, these cats have been doing actual books for years, so the lack of moving pictures and audio can't really be said to be a barrier. And of course, the opportunities for offbeat visuals in comics more than make up for those lacks.

So whether it's adaptations (and who wouldn't kill for a well-done comic version of Holy Grail?), or original material (hopefully with substantial contributions from the surviving members), don't we need a Monty Python comic book?


All right, you already know I am totally this series' bitch.

But the success of other P.I./noir comics, including those featuring female heroes, shows there could be room for this on the market. Plus, if Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas are serious about convincing whomever owns the rights to let them make a movie, getting them to approve a comic might be a good first baby-step.

And the thought of Ed Brubaker writing a Veronica Mars comic just gave me the shivers...


OK, this is another idiosyncratic choice of mine, especially as only about 5 people in the U.S. have actually seen the series.

But given the current popularity of Doctor Who on screen and comics (soon to be followed, no doubt, by the "it's not as good as it used to be when only I liked it" backlash), it's a surprise that no one has glommed  onto this Terry Nation-created "Dirty Dozen in space," about a rag tag group of revolutionaries & criminals accidentally out to take down the evil Federation (whilst enriching themselves at the same time). Heck, BBC America is so desperate for anything remotely British sci-fi, it's stunning they haven't just started airing the old episodes, or commissioned a new one. SyFy, too, but they'd just turn it into some crappy reality series...

Anyway, good choice for comic book fodder. Which hopefully would convince the BBC to release it on U.S.-viewable DVDs...


If Bill & Ted can get multiple bites at the apple, if Beavis & Butthead can have more than one comic, than why oh why can Wayne and Garth not have their moment of four-color glory?


I'm telling you right now...put Grant Morrison on this title, and we'll be tripping some serious balls. Comics may actually be better suited than TV or movies for the insane visuals, complex (or convoluted) mysteries, and nutsoid characters of Twin Peaks.

OK, that's my personal list. I've no doubt forgotten/neglected some of your what other media franchises need comic book representation?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's A Wonderful Life, Riverdale!

Poor Archie has had a rough day, and...

D'oh!! Haven't decades of movies and television shows taught us that we never, ever casually express a life-changing wish like that aloud?

So, the next morning...

Oh, Archie...

Oh, Archie...

So, wait...parents were completely unable to teach their children to talk correctly? You can't correct your own child's grammar? Without school teachers, we're only one generation from the loss of the English language and the decay of civilization? Really??

But it's not just Archie:

And the ladies, too:

But even without schoolin', the kids have a "let's put on a show" spirit:

Just so we're clear, our messages are:
*Your high school years are the best years of you're life, so don't you dare question that, lest ironic punishments are heaped upon you.
*The worst part of not having school is...boredom. Because, apparently, movies, amusement parks, sports, Pops' Soda Shoppe, television, games, dating, dancing, cars, and other amusements were also wiped out of existence.

But despite never having gone to school, they still know each other, and all dress the same as they did before, and...

So support your local schools, people, lest hordes of bored, ill-speaking teens fester in your town.

From Archie At Riverdale High #17 (1974)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bold Fashion Choices--PUT ON SOME CLOTHES!!

We're here today to discuss the phenomenon that is plaguing comics: artists showing characters in ridiculously skimpy outfits--nearly naked, really--just to titillate their audience.

Take, for example, Atlas The Mighty:

Well, I didn't say plaguing comics today...

But back to our near-naked hero. Not only is Atlas "dressed" in a way that no male would ever actually dress in public, but our artist could resist no opportunity to deliberately give us ass-shots:

And in the very same issue, we're given:

I like the little cravat/mini-cape thing around his if that make him any less uncomfortably-nearly-naked.

But they give us LOTS of Fire-Eater, barely dressed, in anatomically-unlikely poses, just treating him like an object:

And of course...

You can't pass up the opportunity to have our hero, basically in his birthday suit, pulling a couple of massive fire hoses...Oh, Frederic Wertham, you were right all along...

So my message for the Golden Age? PUT ON SOME DAMN CLOTHES!!!

All panels from Choice Comics #1 (1941). Just be glad I didn't include any scenes from the Zomba Jungle Fighter story...