Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Still Working Out the Super-Kinks Friday!

More from World's Finest v1 #15:

Okay, did everyone get that? Superman knows the serial numbers of the tires on his car. That, my friends, is some Super-Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at work there. Not even Daredevil pays attention to that kind of minutia.

But here's another little-known power Supes had:

Superman, Superman, does whatever a spider can!

Somehow it looks cooler when Spider-Man does it. It's like when I try to speak hip-hop to teenagers. Even if you do it right, you still can't pull it off without making everyone uncomfortable.

And didja know????

They used to have something that made milk taste like Tootsie Rolls!

I could never get my mom to buy white bread or presweetened cereal, but I guarantee you I could have sold her on this. Don't ask me how. I just knew where the limits were, and while milk poured on sugar would have been forbidden, sugar poured in milk would have been okay. Consistency and logic were not the cornerstone of my mother's parenting technique. I can't believe they don't make this any more.

See you tomorrow!

Johnny Everyman Thursday!

From World's Finest v1 #15:

Not that I was noticing what Peters or Carter look like from behind. I'm just saying. You know, sometimes you can't help but notice what a fella looks like when he's walking away. What? What? Why are you looking at me like that?

In that same issue, we were introduced to a new kind of hero: The wussy kind:

Can you believe this didn't catch on? Any comic that is produced in cooperation with any social services agency always signals good readin' to your average child. Nothing more fun than comics with a thinly-veiled agenda!

Actually, I'm being a little hard on Johnny. I'm one of those folks that thinks they should go back to teaching citizenship in school.

Ah, socially-conscious World's Finest #15, how I love to kick off the new year with thee. Love Thy Neighbor, won'tcha? Until we get to the Batman story, where we learn how to properly introduce adolescents to the death penalty:

You have to admire a comic that will offend liberals and conservatives alike.


I'm not sure who did the art on the Green Arrow story, but it was actually pretty good. Until we get to the last panel:

Look at the expressions on everyone's faces. It's like they were drawn by a guy in Tijuana who normally paints on velvet. Especially that policeman. Is he goosing Speedy? And why are we huddling like that? Are we supposed to hug or something?

See you tomorrow!

2008 End of the Year Craptacular!

Hey, hey! It's the end of 2008, and you know what that means! It's time to reflect on things I read and saw in the past 12 months.

Disclaimer: I know I may be a little off as to whether something was released in 2008 or late 2007, so the only rule I follow is whether or not I experienced it in the last 12 months.

So, let's look at the best:

Single Comic of the Year: The Boys #21

I'm not as enthusiastic about The Boys as much as other folks are. I think the concept is great, but it moves a little slow for me. For those of you who haven't read it, this is a very dark, very graphic account of a world where there are super-heroes, but they're all narcissistic jerks whose deeds may benefit the greater good, but they don't worry about innocents who get caught in the crossfire.

If you never pick up this title, issue 21 is a great read by itself. We basically have a 911 hijacking interrupted by "the good guys" with disastrous results. The suspense and despair as the passengers fall victim to the colossal egos at work makes this one impossible to put down.

Again, The Boys may not be something you'd want a steady diet of, but this issue was a masterpiece.

Best Ongoing: Project Superpower

I know, I'm usually a fan of Marvel and DC, but Dynamite Comics (who also puts out The Boys) has really impressed me. This series (which will go from one mini-series to the next a la television's Heroes) revives fourth-string characters from the Golden Age that only hardcore fans would recognize. These characters are far from perfect, neither in powers nor in intelligence, but they have a humanity that makes this title a gentle giant.

Best Movie: The Dark Knight

I know, me and everyone else. Still, we've got a Napoleon Dynamite syndrome here, where it may be so popular you want to discount its greatness, but you can't deny the virtues of the film itself. Brilliant, disturbing, and (FINALLY) true to the characters as they have been written. We comic nerds have known for years what would make the perfect Batman movie. This was it.

Which is kind of a shame, because Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were both awesome in their own right. Any other year, and either film could have taken the top spot. Also, be sure to pick up Prince Caspian on DVD if you don't have it yet.

Television Show of the Year: Burn Notice

If you aren't watching this show, what are you waiting for? Check out the web site and get caught up, because new episodes start Jan. 22nd. USA is also showing previous seasons even as we speak, so check your listings.

Worst of 2008:

Comic: Checkmate v2 - you have to be much smarter than I am to follow this, and it's really a bummer because I enjoyed the first run so much. Besides, I'm still not over the death of the Blue Beetle.

Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Aliens? Are you yanking my chain? This was dang stupid, and Harrison Ford looked as bored as I felt. And where is my sequel to The Incredibles?

Television: As with every year since the invention of tv, there was a lot to skip over. My biggest disappointment was Life on Mars, which could have been great and instead just kind of sits there. My other biggest disappointment was the cancellation of the brilliant Pushing Daisies, which none of you watched but should have.

That's it for me! Have a safe New Year and let me know what your highlights and lowlights were!

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Super Life-Coachin' Tuesday!

From All-Star Comics #53-54!

So the recession has hit and you've been downsized? Time to call on:

This is actually decent advice if you're young enough to use it. My problem is that I'm only good at one thing..... and you're reading it right now.

Hey, kids! Fancy a quick game of President?

I'm the first to say I don't pick up new games very quickly. I'm not like Nephew Sam, who can pop one of his vidya games in the machine and start playing away with barely a glance at the manual and impatiently clicking his way through the tutorials. Me, I need to practically take a night course just to get the basics down.

But this is, bar none, one of the most confusing games I've ever seen in my life.

I love how they're all thinking the same thing. No one has any stray thoughts of where they're going for lunch, whether they left the stove on, or the last time they fed their cat. That, my friends, is some dang fine concentration.

Oh, my. That's.... quite a belt there. Colorful and whatnot.

Am I the only one thinking about the Village People right now? I am? Okay.

So, what does your name mean?

Now, see, if I were to have guessed, I would have thought that Eunice meant "Pesters random strangers on the street for their autographs."

Who is Clark Taylor? Is he the platter waddy whose records are selling like sixty?

No, wait... that's Jimmy Wakely.

Okay, I give up.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mind-Blowin' Special Effectin' Monday!

And we're back! It was great see everyone over the holidays, but there are comics to discuss!

From Legion of Super-Heroes v2, #14:

Maybe the slang has lost its meaning by the 30th Century, but if someone suggests you "take a twirl on his thumb," that generally ain't the kind of thing you want to hastily accept. I'd be surprised if Power Boy got the second call to audition.

From Avengers v1 #88:

Before House and CSI, you took what you could get in the special effects department:

Get it? You're seeing the world through Psyklop's compound eye. They're blowin' my freakin' mind!

Okay, not so much. But comics were only 12 cents, so you have to weigh these things.

Know what I'm glad I didn't get for Christmas? This:

Stickers of dials, switches, and gauges. We sure knew how to have fun back in the day, didn't we? Careful not to show off your stickers of dials, switches, and gauges, Billy! You want to be sure people like you for who you are, not because you have stickers of dials, switches and gauges!

You just know there's some engineer who thought this would sell like Black Tar Heroin and can't figure out why there are reams of those unsold stickers in a warehouse in Milwaukee.

Hope everyone had a great holiday! See you tomorrow!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stuff You Didn't Really Need to Know Friday!

Where did Adam go? Well, until December 29th, I'm going straight home and lounging about. Like Thanksgiving, this gives me 9 days off while using only three days of vacation time, so I'm going to decompress from the occupation for a bit. I'll also get to see Childhood Pal Scotty and his awesome family, so it'll be a fun change of pace.

But I can't just take off without giving you a little somethin'-somethin', can I? I think not.

Remember when I showed you the Squadron Sinister, a thinly disguised Justice League for the Avengers to fight while Marvel and DC's legal departments sat around scratching their noggins? Well, these were the rest of them. Sort of. These guys, along with Hyperion, Nighthawk, Dr. Spectrum, and the unfortunately-named Whizzer were actually the Squadron Supreme. Turns out the Squadron Sinister was just some bad guys from our world, while the Squadron Supreme were champions of their own parallel Earth. Got it? No? It's not really that important.

Clockwise from the left, we have Lady Lark, Hawkeye, Tom Thumb and American Eagle, who were homages to the Justice League's Black Canary, Green Arrow, the Atom and Hawkman. They got a bit more creative with the new guys, making the Atom's counterpart a mechanical genius who had a tremendous arsenal of weaponry (while the Atom was but a scientist who shrank really tiny) and Hawkman's doppelganger was a zealot against Communism who would have made Joe McCarthy proud (as opposed to Hawkman, who wasn't even from Earth).

There would be some changes of names, and as the Justice League added Firestorm to their ranks, the Squadron would add their own nuclear-powered guy named Nuke. He was pretty lame, while Firestorm was largely awesome.

Believe it or not, the Squadron Supreme is still used today, and not as comic relief.

More obscure stuff from All-Select Comics #1:

Turns out there was a Black Widow long before the one that we think of today. You know, the one who really doesn't do anything but still gets asked to join the Avengers over and over again?

Well, the original version was actually Satan's agent. Yup. Turns out Satan gets a little impatient at collecting souls and if you are a bad enough person, he'll send the Black Widow after you to personally drag you to Hell. And she'll gladly facilitate this.

Now, that, my friends, is an awesome premise. Kind of like DC's Ragman, whose patchwork costume is made up of the souls of the departed damned. Only where Ragman actually gives those souls a shot at redemption, the Black Widow just took you straight down. The fast way. That's good stuff.

Of course, I certainly would never want to get what's coming to me. I readily acknowledge my hypocrisy, which makes it a little more tolerable, don't you think?

There was one funny moment in the story, though:

You got a new leg while you were sleeping, Pepito? Was it a third leg, perhaps?

And no, ladies, I'm not gonna explain that joke.

Whee! I need a vacation!

And for one last "What The-?" moment, here's Namor taking orders. From our government.

I have no words. I kept waiting for him to snap that guy's neck for looking him directly in the eye, and he's all "Yesser, yesser, whatever you say, sir! I'll guard your government's treasures with my life!"


I'm one of the surface-dwellers Namor wants to wipe out, and I'm offended for him. Did Namor do some time at Guantanamo Bay I never heard about?

Well, that's it for me! I'll see you on December 29th! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Hope you have a great one! Stay safe!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Melody Lane Thursday!

We're reaching the end of the Golden Age All-Star Comics run, and it ain't pretty.

Here's a few barely noteworthy tidbits from All-Star Comics #51!:

We've got to bzzzz bzzzz bzzzz? What, are we speaking in bee language now? I could barely handle it when Hawkman taught all the JSA people to talk to birds like they were Dr. Freakin' Doolittle, who the heck knew bee language?

I know, I know.... but it's not funny if you just look at it as lazy writing. If you imagine Alan literally saying "bzzzzz bzzzzz bzzzzz," it's loads more entertaining. Trust me on that one.

Hey, ten year old boys! Here's a cool new comic for ya!

Yeah, we know you're getting bored with super-heroes, so here's Melody Lane!

Now, I tried to see if Melody Lane was a real person, and all I found was a performer in Branson and a writer of erotic fiction. If they are one and the same, I will be extremely amused.... possibly to the point of hospitalization.

That Jimmy Wakely comic is looking pretty good to me right now.

Hey, kids! It's time for Fun with Out of Context Dialogue! (tm!)

Comics rule.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Things We Say When We Just Don't Care Anymore Wednesday!

Can you believe we've gone through 50 issues of All-Star Comics? I can't either, but here it is!

We are but one finger away from making this the best cover ever. You know there's a version of this cover on the cutting room floor of DC Comics where the giant disembodied hand is flipping the bird to everyone.

No, Al! Don't ask for details! ... aw, crap.

I'm sure Al is very popular with nursing home residents, but when someone is about to segue into what will no doubt be a long, drawn-out story, you say, "I'd love to hear about it sometime," which means, "Don't tell me this story, ever."

Boy, Green Lantern is the worst guy in the world to keep a secret. You want information about Jay Garrick? Well, let me introduce you to a guy who looks and sounds exactly like Jay Garrick and wears no real disguise whatsoever! Make sure you get a good look at him, because when you meet Jay Garrick, you'll be certain he's the Flash, whom you are about to meet! It'll be uncanny!

Tantalize us with the promise of a long story? Man, Black Canary, what kind of grandparent issues do you and the Atom have, anyway?

Nothing can save this story.... unless its Wonder Woman dancing for no reason:

Ah, there we go.

Little-Known Super-Power Hall of Fame:

Dr. Mid-Nite and the Black Canary can apparently communicate with each other telepathically under water. Who knew?

More than one hero seemed to develop that power whenever it was convenient. Maybe Aquaman isn't as useless as we think. No, he totally is.

You know what they don't give kids enough of these days? Free weaponry.

This is the greatest marketing idea ever:

So, these people will pester your parents for you if you send in their info.

Say, Billy, two large men came over this afternoon and told me they'd kill our whole family if I didn't get you a bike for Christmas. Do you know anything about that?

Gee willikers, Dad. I'm sorry, but I really wanted that bike!

Oh, I can't stay mad at you, ya little rascal! God bless us, every one!


Little-Known Super Power Hall of Fame:

Wow two entries from one comic! I'm prepared to guess the editors knew comics were about to take a dive and were too busy updating their resumes to care about the details here, but when did the Atom and the Flash gain the power of flight?

I've never understood Wonder Woman's ability to fly, but she has done it before and since, so I'm only going to call a technical foul for the Atom and the Flash here.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Platter Waddy Tuesday!!!

I have no idea who Jimmy Wakely is, but he had one heck of a marketing department:

He's selling like sixty! Like sixty, I tells ya!

I have no idea who this guy is, but it reminds me of the time Litefoot was in town promoting The Indian in the Cupboard. It was a great movie, but he was seated at a little card table at the entrance of a grocery store and no one noticed him. It made us very sad.

Not that I'm comparing him to "the Radio Wrangler" Jimmy Wakely, the Platter Waddy whose selling plasma like 23 skidoo or whatever the heck they're saying.

A fun little treat from the Flash:

I find that judicious use of vibrations can indeed startle friends and strangers without much difficulty. It can also land you in court defending a protective order. Not that I'm speaking from experience. But she was totally leading me on.


Looks like Alan Ladd wants to challenge Jimmy Wakely as to who the top platter waddy is! Easy there, guys! Let's get the women and children to safety before they get hurt by your sheer badassery!

How does Alan Ladd appear "in person" in a comic book? Was he just a drawing in real life?

A little fun science here:

And I'm pretty sure it's not only fun science, but it's incorrect science. Since a pound is a unit of measurement, a pound of feathers would weigh exactly as much as a pound of gold (or in this case, a pound of bullpoop).

Hey! It's time for Fun with Out of Context Dialogue!(tm!):

Chicks love a man who's good with his hands. Thanks World's Finest v1 #11!

And if you'll indulge me a serious moment, today is the 7th anniversary of the tragic death of Stuart Adamson, an incredibly talented and gifted musician who had a one-hit in the 80's with his band Big Country. What many folks don't know this side of the Atlantic was that Big County had many excellent albums since their self-titled debut. He was an amazing artist and by all accounts, a very nice guy:

I miss ya, Stuart.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 15, 2008

We Must Stop the Speedy Guy! Monday!

Super-speed is probably the third most-used power, right behind flight and super-strength. I have nothing to back this up, really, but I'll bet I'm right.

The problem with being a super-fast guy is that everyone wants to slow you down. Like thus:

Or even thusly, going as far back as WWII:

There are all kinds of logistical problems with being a speedster. The most obvious one is how friction keeps from burning your clothes clean off. I suppose Marvel can blame "unstable molecules," which they also use to explain how other character's clothes stretch, shrink, expand, turn invisible, or don't burn even though the wearer is consumed by self-generated flames.

Only problem is: (1) Reed Richards supposedly invented the "unstable molecules," which means that any Golden Age hero should have been running around naked half the time (which would have been perfectly fine in the case of the Phantom Lady, but you see where I'm coming from) and (2) it really doesn't help non-Marvel characters. Sure, Superman has an indestructible costume from Krypton and I suppose your magic types have got things well in hand, but what about the Golden Age Flash, Johnny Quick, the original Human Torch or Plastic Man? Who is supplying these people with these miracle fabrics?

Another thing about being a speedster that bugs me:

I am no physicist, but I challenge that you are impervious to harm just because you run into something quick enough. It seems to me like the quicker you run into something, the more likely you are to break some bones. This whole "pinball" stunt gets used a lot, and I'm just not sure that moving really fast has anything to do with how much of an impact you can withstand. I mean, if I run as fast as I can into a wall, someone better call the paramedics.

One thing I never understood about Goliath:

This is the "Hawkeye decides to toss his arrows for no reason and starts using Hank Pym's growth formula" Goliath, not the one you normally think of. And, I'm telling ya, the guy stayed huge as much as possible, even when inconvenient or unnecessary, like you see here. It seems dang inconsiderate to make people go out and find tremendously over-sized teacups, not to mention requiring them to serve you from your crotch region. With or without arrows, Hawkeye was something of a douche.

Enough over-analyzing! Cue the Law-Enforcement Produced Anti-Drug PSA!:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Giant Kangaroo Friday!

In the 1950's, super-hero comics were losing their steam. They would disappear by and large (with the exception of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) until the 1960's, to be replaced largely with horror, Western and War comics. I started reading comics in 1974, when super-hero comics were well back in style, so it seemed unfathomable to me at the time that super-hero comics had ever all but disappeared from the racks.

But then you read All-Star Comics #48, and you start to see why.

See, they used to fight Hitler and Nazis. Now, they were fighting kangaroos. It just wasn't quite the same. Note the Magic Sphere, so called because the people who built it labelled it "Magic Sphere."

Shall we tug at the heart strings? We shall!:

I positively love how they called the kid a "bother" when they talked about him. If you're the kid, you really can't win at that point because either the JSA blows you off because you're a pain in the neck, or they're making a huge sacrifice to visit you on your deathbed when there are other things they'd clearly rather be doing.

Of course, once there's a public hoo-hah like that, you pretty much have to visit the kid whether you want to or not, so there they go:

Now if I were a kid and a bunch of adults showed up at the foot of my bed in costumes talking about "putting on a private show," I'd be shouting "Stranger Danger!", but this was clearly a more innocent time.

Keep in mind this kid is about to go through surgery. I'm sure the hospital's legal department is tickled pink that there are grown people wrestling and tossing around smoke bombs in the kid's room before they cut him open.

So, blah blah blah life is worth living blah blah blah everyone is important.... blah blah blah today is a precious gift blah blah blah... the children are our future blah blah blah

And then the entire JSA gets taken down by one lone guy with a hose:

Okay, I have a couple of problems here: (A) Is there a single member of the JSA that couldn't, by themselves, make this guy eat that hose, much less the whole group and (2) shouldn't that guy also be unconscious since he's waving enough gas around to take out a group of super-heroes yet isn't wearing a gas mask himself?

For once, though, everyone is involved in the big battle at the end, even the womenfolk!:

Yay, Black Canary! Way to.... wheel off the unconscious bad guy!

And I have to ask, where exactly is she going to tote them off to? Is she going to drown them in wet concrete? Because that would be twisted, but in an awesome sort of way. That'll teach them to ruin sick little Edmund's big day!

See? I should be responsible for all retroactive continuity matters in comics. Black Canary typically carted bad guys away from the field of battle where she would silently kill each one, regardless of the nature of their particular crime. DC and Marvel couldn't print enough copies to meet the demand, I tells ya!

Yeah, Wonder Woman! Your contribution to the struggle by... catching another unconscious bad guy has shown us that your talents had previously been sorely wasted as our secretary!

Eeeeesh. Time for Fun with Out of Context Dialogue!(tm!)

That one was almost too easy.

See you Monday!