Saturday, November 15, 2008
Hey, kids! Comics!
from the 1970s Dynapubs Flashback reprint of Special Comics #1 (1941)
Friday, November 14, 2008
Yes, I told our customers that all of his scripts had allegedly been turned in ahead of time.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
"Hey, where's Misfits of Science post number two?" - pal Kurt
Well, it was just a joke, really, making fun of my bit of recent overkill discussing the Smallville TV show. But good gravy it started some discussion, which I really wasn't expecting.
I'd like to contribute to the discussion, somehow, except I really don't remember much about Misfits of Science. I know I watched an episode or three, and seem to have some vague memories of it. I remember the ice-powered guy, who, according to the Wikipedia article, vanished after the pilot episode due to objections by Marvel Comics over similarities with its X-Men character.
Aside from that, I remember suggesting this show to a former customer of mine who worked for a DVD company that specializes in producing cult/special interest TV DVD boxed sets. I think I suggested they could capitalize on the publicity over the Courteney Cox TV show Dirt, which was on the verge of starting at the time and being advertised incessantly. Marketing a old TV show featuring Courteney Cox could...well, not drive sales into the stratosphere, but at least grab an extra pair o'eyes or two. Well, that's what I thought.
Didn't happen...I also suggested Run Joe Run, and The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty, with mostly equal results. (Waldo Kitty, apparently, did get an episode or two onto some boxed DVD set.) Ah, well.
So, sadly, I have only two posts about Misfits of Science (including this one) in me, rather than twelve. Sorry about that, but feel free to talk about it in the comments section.
And someday I'll talk about comics again. You know, just for a change of pace.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Sluggo ponders the fundamental question of existence.
from Dell Giant #34 (September 1960)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
...the first of twelve consecutive posts about Misfits of Science:
This is the last Smallville post, honest.
Oh, sure, you could settle for reading some lesser comic site, with useless junk like "reviews" and "current news" and "interesting content." But only I -- I -- have the courage to dare bring you a third post discussing Smallville. Can your heart handle the excitement?
"During seasons 2 and three I kept wishing that one of the pay-offs for watching all the way through might be that Chloe gets put in witness protection or something and takes the name Lois Lane."
I think a number of people thought sort of along the same lines...including me, half-jokingly suggesting that eventually she'd have to take a "pen name" or something (perhaps to separate herself from her tabloid-esque reporting) for the Planet. You know, "Chloe Sullivan" -- "Chloe S." -- "Chloes" -- "Chlois" -- "Lois" -- well, that works better speaking it than writing it, but maybe she would have compressed her real name like that, then grabbed "Lane" from, I don't know, a street sign or something, and vee-ola, "Lois Lane."
I have a rich fantasy life.
Michael-Sensei is in Japan, and he says he's a few seasons behind over there (where he just endured the witchcraft episodes, the poor guy). But he also says (and if the the kanji in his comment does strange things to your browser, I apologize)
"...The series is called 'ヤング・スーパーマン' or 'Young Superman' over here. I wonder if DC's lawyers thought of that to get around the Superboy thing."
Maybe that's part of it (someone more familiar with the ins and outs of what DC does and does not want to do with Superboy can chime in here, if they wish), but I seem to remember hearing that there was some concern whether folks would "get" that this was about a pre-Superman Clark Kent. (A couple of the titles in other countries use the name "Superman" as well). I really don't know. I do like the name "Young Superman," though perhaps it promises a bit more than the show itself actually delivers.
Anonymous cracks wise about Superman's secret identity in the show
"And if all else fails, there's time-travel, or the Super-Kiss he used on Lois. Can't wait to see him use it on Lex in the series finale!"
You know, they've got to break that sexual tension between Lex and Clark somehow.
Old Bull Lee puts in a third appearance (he's a trooper!) to explain
"I might be wrong, but I thought Clark went to college for a few months (including a short stint on the football team), then dropped out because decided he needed to help out back on the farm."
That sounds right. I don't go back to rewatch the show, and...I don't recall every single detail. But I'm sure it was something like that. Which reminds me...now that Clark is working at the Planet, who's running the farm? Is Clark just doing all the chores at super-speed before leaving for Metropolis in the morning, and not worrying about "keeping up appearances," leaving the neighbors to wonder how the work's getting done on the Kent farm?
Pal Nat gets in a joke, then says he
"...Stopped watching the show after about season 3"
You know, I think that's about as far along as I got into Lois and Clark before it just got too dumb. Just thought I'd mention that.
Mr. Allison Blaire is awesome
"I think 'Smallville' Clark should start wearing the glasses and fedora in his everyday guise, like the old school Siegel and Shuster version, when he's making the transition to full fledged Superman. Or maybe he can gel his hair back like Dean Cain"
Oh, God, Clark in a fedora. I'm not going to be happy now until I see this regularly happen on the show. And since Dean Cain's been brought up...I always thought Cain as Clark and as Superman looked reasonably different enough to make the dual identity thing work. 'Course, plenty of time in the make-up chair helps, but still....
Ah, Laura clears it up for us
"To answer your college question, Clark dropped out after his dad died. That was season 5.
Ah, okay. Thanks, Laura!
Former employee Josh chimes in
"I'm not sure if you covered this, but any hints that he's using his super mass hypnosis?"
No, not yet, but I suspect hypnosis of some kind will be part of whatever likely Jor-El-caused "whammy" is going to make the Clark/Superman ID probable, as I mentioned a couple of posts back...assuming this ID thing is even going to be given closure on the show.
Suedenim has some good things to say, including
"Better [revealing your secret to your friends], IMO, than have everyone think you're this secretive and unreliable weirdo who *clearly* has *some* deep dark secret, but won't confide in anyone."
Quite a whole lot of Clark's problems stem from not being honest about who he is...he has good reason, certainly, but had he owned up to Lex early on, it seems to me Lex might not have gone down his eventual villainous path. The secret-keeping just seemed to feed Lex's continued obsession, so Clark had a hand in creating his own arch-nemesis...which is in line with the comics (well, the Silver Age version) to a certain extent.
Your (my?) Obedient Serpent corrects me on Clark's actual position at the Planet (copy boy), and also says
"Aaron Ashmore was BORN to play Jimmy Olsen."
Come to think of it...physically I think he comes closest in appearance to the classic version of the character. I think Ashmore's version of the character is a little more together than the one from the comics, however.
Pj Perez sez
"OK, I try usually to avoid reading about any "new" Smallville developments, as I am watching the series fresh on DVD and just now have gotten to season 4, but I enjoyed these comments and your replies nonetheless"
Thanks, Pj! I worried about going on about this as long as I did, but, hey, people seem to be interested in talking about it, and others are finding it good readin' as well. (But I think this'll be the last part, anyway...no need to push my luck!)
Pj also notes, from personal experience, that a college degree isn't necessarily required to enter a career in journalism, re: my concern over all the folks on the show who didn't appear to finish college but went on to successful jobs anyway. So I guess Clark and Lois' positions on the Planet are at least plausible.
"I think that's the most Supes we're going to get in our Smallville for the near future - this show is all about infinitely approaching Superman. It's a surface tension which they can't always maintain and still make the show worth watching."
Yeah...despite my wish for more fun superhero action on the show, actually putting Clark into the suit would violate the spirit of Smallville. It's not about Clark fighting crime as Superman...it's about Clark learning how to become Superman. Though I still think as the ultimate payoff for the series, we need to see at least a little Superman in Action...er, action, if only just for part of the last episode.
Tomy, he of the first comment for these Smallville posts, notes
"...I'm more of a fan of silver age Superboy/Legion era, where he picked it all up as a kid and then was suddenly superman. i guess that's why this transitional phase the show is stuck on grates me a little."
That's one of the things that sort of bothers me a little, though I realize the realities of having to fill so many hours of TV each season. I sit there watching the show, and thinking to myself, "boy, they're making Superman's origin so unnecessarily convoluted," with all the crystals and conspiracies and Indian cave paintings(!) and is Jor-El evil or not, and how'd Lex's father get involved in this, and wait, Green Arrow is a cast member now?
Okay, moving on to one last comments section, from yesterday's post...I'm only going to note a couple of the remarks, to show you all some mercy.
Suedenim returns with some more info re: the "Smallville" nickname
"The question comes up periodically, and the last time I saw it, it was conclusively shown to have shown up first on the animated show."
Okay, I Googled it, and over at The Fortress of Soliloquy, there's this comment going over the history of the name, and agreeing with Suedenim's note. I could have sworn it appeared in the mid-'80s revamp, but looking through my issues of the Man of Steel miniseries (which kicked off the revamp) I didn't spot it. Lois did repeatedly call Clark "Kent," which felt a bit on the harsh side.
But I really do like the nickname "Smallville" for Clark. It's dismissive in a goofy but not terribly insulting way, and plays into the perceived differences between Clark and Superman.
Patrick C asks
"Would it be worth it to netflix the old seasons and catch up?"
Ooh, I don't know. Maybe you can pick 'n' choose, just watching the ones that look interesting to you. KryptonSite has an extensive episode guide you can check out. Overall I like this show, for all its problems...it's mindless action entertainment with an attractive cast and only occasionally dips to offensively stupid levels (as opposed to its usual level of inoffensively stupid). Your mileage may vary, as they say. If you do decide to watch all the episodes, at least skip the vampire one. Woo boy.
Okay, and for the sake of my sanity and yours, that's the last post on the show for a while. At least until they decide to end it, at which point I may do a final wrap-up. So thanks for reading all that, and thanks for your interesting comments and questions and such.
So, aside from Smallville...what'd I miss? Say, I hear that Bat-Manga book is somethin' else...anyone talking about it out there?
Monday, November 10, 2008
Go help out Scott Saavedra.
Cartoonist and swell cat (and one of the inspirations for this very site) Scott Saavedra recently revealed some serious health issues he's facing. If you folks could go to his site and buy something through his Amazon links or even just donate a few bucks through PayPal, I'm sure Mr. Saavedra would appreciate it.
I'm sure you'll join me in sending Scott our very best wishes.
More Smallville talk, Part II in a series.
Okay, as threatened, here's part II of "Mike Goes On and On re: Smallville and Watches His Web Site's Traffic Plummet." But, what the hell, I used to talk about each new episode of Smallville on this site, but fell out of the habit. I guess this is me making up for lost time.
And awaaaaay we go:
"...The final nail for me was when Lois was insisting calling Clark 'Smallville'... in Smallville! I'm more than sure I'm not the first that's noticed that."
Yeah, that does seem a little peculiar...mostly it just grates a bit that Lois is...well, not that she's in the show at all, but that she's in the town of Smallville as much as she is. In the comics, Lana was the quintessential "small town girl" in Clark's life, whereas Lois was the "Big City Gal," and the show sort of maintains this. But with Lois being in Smallville so much feels like crossing the streams a bit.
Also, the whole Lois calling Clark "Smallville" thing...that came out of the mid-80s comics revamp, I'm pretty sure.
David Z kids
"Never tried watching Smallville. I never watched the Birds of Prey show, either. Was that any good?"
And yes, as he said, he was joking. But I did want to take the opportunity to repeat my belief that had Birds of Prey received a second season, I think it might have improved a bit. There was potential there...an attractive cast, an interesting premise...but it was just a bit too rough around the edges, a bit too dopey, which was too bad.
Longtime Customer Jo had a lot to say in defense of the show...I'm not going to quote it all, but she pretty well sums up, I think, why people seem to be enjoying this new season a lot more than the last three or four dozen seasons. In short, it feels a lot more superhero-y, and it's a relief to finally be moving in that direction after years of just sort of running in place.
Jonathan Miller supposes
"Supposedly, this is the 'last' season, which would make sense. Which means it'll get strung out another few years anyway."
Eight years feels like an enormously long time for this type of show, and I don't know that this story (and Clark's putting off "his destiny") can realistically go on yet another year without driving us all crazy. I'm guessing without spending the fifteen seconds it would take to Google this up that the show's ratings are still strong, so it's still making money, so there's incentive to keep the show on the air.
Pal Tom barks out
"I understand Lana and Lex are gone now. What's the point of even keeping it going? Please tell me it's ending this year."
It should end this year, yes, but I suspect we're getting one more year. But Lana leaving was probably necessary, as Clark makes the transition from young man in Smallville to adult in Metropolis. And Lex...we needed a break from Lex, and the show hasn't suffered much with his absence. But it feels like the show is building to a big return to the character, and I suspect that the actor not wanting to shave his head for a guest appearance may put the kibosh on that.
Poor Mojo reveals
"I want Clark to man up and develop the morals, intelligence and conviction of character we expect of him."
It feels like that this is the end goal of this season...we're taking some small steps in that direction so far, which will accelerate as we approach the end of the season...and hopefully will pay off if this turns out to be the end of the series.
"I like the Remy Zero 'Save Me' theme song. And then it's on to Survivor."
I like the theme song, too. Which reminds me, we haven't had as much blatant WB musical product placement this season. I suppose there's a reason for this which I missed and someone will bring up in my comments section eventually.
Speaking of the comments section (as if I haven't been), "Anonymous" nags off-topically
"I just found out there's a "Swamp Thing" still appearing in Ambush Bug!
You've posted about a half-dozen of these comments nagging me about this, regardless of whatever the post is about that you're commenting on. It's a bit annoying, and I don't want to ban your IP from the comments section...so please stop it.
Back on topic, Sarah sez
"I know two people who have watched Smallville from day freaking one, and are still watching it. I am kind of in awe of those people. I hit the eject button somewhere in season five. I stand by the sweetness, sense of wonder, and nods to the epic of the early years, despite the clunky writing, but even I can only take so much."
I am one of those people who watched it from Day One, and...yeah, I probably could have skipped a couple of those dire middle seasons. The novelty of the premise, while causing some consternation at first ("A Superman TV show? Without Superman in costume? WHA--??"), certainly carried the show early on as we saw, as Sarah says, "nods to the epic." But one can't help but think "oh, for God's sake, move on already! Fly! Catch planes!" after a few years of enduring the show.
Brian Smith notes
'I follow the comics, he follows the show and he sends me a lot of "Did this happen in the comics like it happened in the show?' e-mails."
My girlfriend and I sort of go through this, too. She'll ask me if something in the show happened in the comic, and I'll go on and on in excruciating detail with issue numbers an' all and she immediately regrets asking.
Well, I'm not quite that bad, honest. I've mostly weaned myself from the "ooh, you're asking me about comics! Here comes the info dump!" urge. Except here on the site.
Adam Horovitz observes
"Some of [the show's actors] look older than me, though."
I think it was Peter David who noted that he was okay with a Clark Kent that looked older and was a foot taller than his high school classmates, because it's freakin' Superman. But really, Clark's gettin' a bit long in the tooth by this point....
Adam also says
"I'm told season 8 is better, but I'm still not quite recovered from season 7."
Well, Adam...it's still kinda dumb, but the overhaul of the cast and the show's direction does freshen up the program a bit. It's a bit more light, and seems to be headed in a specific, if distant, direction.
Old Bull Lee returns to say
"...But another thing great about this season is they've been largely staying away from the magic crystal/Jor-Ex Machina stories."
The Krypton stuff is necessary, I think, but yeah, they've had a bit of an overkill with it in the series. Plus, it's a little too much "here's more stuff and people from that dead planet you came from so let's chase after them for most of the season." It's like an endless series of MacGuffins to string along Clark and keep him occupied for several episodes. It's a map, a crystal, a "key," etc.
"I drop in on 'Smallville' occasionally for some of the 'Justice League' episodes. Not interested in a show about Clark Kent getting all Peter-Parkery. I am probably being unfair, but I prefer my Superman punching meteors and fighting volcanoes with his bare hands."
Yeah, it's as if the creators of the show almost did their job too well. Smallville was built around the idea of a youthful Clark Kent learning the superhero ropes, perhaps attracting viewers that otherwise wouldn't be interested in a standard Superman TV show. But I suspect we're at the point that the fans have had enough build-up, now they want the payoff: i.e. full-on superheroic action.
"Season six is where I think I'd had enough. I just couldn't take the formulaic meteor freak of the week, the constant pain of any man's relationship with Lana, and the limitations of certain cast members' talent. Seven I sampled the season opener and couldn't even finish it. This year? Whoa. I am still watching and no one's more amazed than me."
Again, I think that's indicative of the show's retooling with its Metropolis-heavy setting and reshuffled cast. It feels like a lighter, more fun show, no longer weighed down by subplots and character relationships from seasons past.
Mike Loughlin gives up
"I was ready to give up a couple seasons ago, but they brought in Green Arrow, then Martian Manhunter, my 2 favorite DC characters. With all the crap they flung at the screen, I think the writers actually did a good job with those two. They kept Ollie's origin the same! And Martian Manhunter is now Detective John Jones, and mentoring Clark on occasion! And there's a Justice League! And Clark's starting to be a hero!"
The fanboy in me wishes for the apparently non-existent possibility of Batman and Wonder Woman guest-appearances, but that ain't happenin'. But I do like that Clark doesn't exist in a vacuum, that the show is acknowledging a wide DC Universe is out there. So my fanboy side isn't entirely disappointed.
I am kind of wondering if we'll ever see the Martian Manhunter in his actual Martian appearance. I mean, we did get a blurry glimpse of his cape a season or two back, but perhaps a big green man walking around Smallville may be pushing the envelope just a little too much.
Hoo boy. There's gonna be a part III to this, I think. I'm very, very sorry.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
In which Mike only responds to the first few Smallville comments, because it's late and he needs to go to bed.
Okay, I just got started on responding to the comments on this post in regards to Smallville, but I got in late, I'm dead tired, the dog ate my computer, etc., so this is Part I. Part I.
Yes, really. Sorry about that.
Tomy makes me feel old by saying
"sadly, no smallville. not for a while, not since 9th or 10th grade. but i read on io9 that geoff johns is doing a legion story soon. i love legion, i love smallville, ergo, i love geoff johns doing legion on smallville."
I've mentioned the Legion in reference to Smallville on this site before, mostly in the context of 1) there was a story involving, kinda sorta, time travel, thus opening up the possibility, and 2) most of the Legion's powers would not be out of place in this series' milieu. I am looking forward to it myself, as I've mostly enjoyed Smallville's reimaginings of many of DC's venerable properties that have put in guest appearances.
"What's this whammy you speak off? A species-wide mind wipe so everybody and his granny forgets what Clark looks like? Is the writing really THAT bad?"
I'm beginning to think that is what it's going to take to get people not to recognize Clark in the Superman outfit. Though, as pal Dorian noted to me in the past when we've had this discussion...it's not really this show's problem, since the focus is on Clark building up to his career as Superman, and not actually about his career as Superman.
But let's be honest...how many of you folks still sticking with the series would be disappointed if we don't get at least SOME costumed Superman adventure to end up the series? Dramatically speaking, it would seem to be the logical payoff of everything that's happened in the series so far. To close off the series without that final bit of closure on the character's evolution...well, it'd be a drag, at least.
Nimbus asks, with good reason
"The things you said about people recognizing Clark also apply to the comic book Superman (and, similarly, the reasons/excuses that people have come up with to explain why people don't recognize him could equally apply to Smallville as well).
Yeah, I know how it sounds. But for whatever reason, I'm having a harder time suspending my disbelief with Smallville, since Clark's been toolin' around for eight seasons sans glasses. I think we just take as a given with the Superman comics that the glasses work as a disguise, with only the occasional in-story questioning of the mechanics involved. Without the glasses being set up in Smallville (save for one episode a couple of years back),that forces the viewer to ask "well, how does Clark eventually protect his identity?"
I should note, that with this season's focus on getting Clark to be a bit more proactive with his abilities, the topic of concealing his identity while still going public has been addressed once or twice.
And I should also note the sage advice of the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 theme song: "just repeat to yourself, 'It's just a show, I should really just relax.'"
Old Bull Lee horns in
"I also wondered how a college drop-out got that reporter job."
That bugs me way out of proportion to its actual importance. Given that we know these characters went to college, as we saw them in that setting (that's where Clark first encountered Brainiac, for example), it seems like the college thing went by the wayside awfully quickly. I'm figuring the characters did attend college, but just mostly offscreen.
Though...did Clark actually drop out, or did they just stop showing him going to class? I don't recall.
He whom men dare call Aqualad Knox sez
"At this point I don't think they can possibly end up with the classic Superman setup with the cape and secret ID. Better to view it as Ultimate Superboy or Elseworlds or something."
Yeah, it's definitely an alternate take on the character, though at this point it's virtually a Superman show in all but costume. I still suspect the ultimate goal is the classic Superman cape/secret identity/etc., which is why I think there may be one last "reset button"/whammy/magical wish/whatever that puts all the pieces in place for that to happen. Just a feeling, is all.
Jake Saint blessed me with
"It was amusing for awhile to watch Allison Mack carry every other actor on the show, but that only goes so far."
I think by and large the actors have done reasonably well with the material they've been given, with (ironically) Welling being perhaps the weakest of the bunch...but as I said in the original post, too much of the "acting" has been characters staring meaningfully at each other with big watery eyes. Plus, John Glover was always a hoot to watch on the show, and I kinda miss having John Schneider's perennially pissed-off Jonathan Kent around.
I do agree that Allison Mack is probably the strongest of the younger performers on the show...she really made the character of Chloe a vital part of Superman's ongoing development. It made me interested in seeing how they were going to fit that character into the comics, as they promised once or twice before, but it hasn't happened yet!
"I watched the first few episodes of Smallville, grew quickly bored on the Kryptonite Monster of the Week, for some reason really got into the third season, then quickly got out of it again when the fourth rolled around. (Witchcraft, Lois Lane...no thanks.)"
I know that many people, not just in my comments but almost since the show began, have complained about the Kryptonite Monster of the Week syndrome. The creators of the show defended it, saying that they needed to establish the show's concept for the casual viewer who wouldn't necessarily watch it every week. It admittedly did get to be a bit of a drag for those of us who did watch it. In later seasons the formula was mixed up some...still had Kryptonite monsters, but a lot more Lex-as-antagonist...maybe too much, frankly, which is why I'm glad Lex is off the show (though I hope he comes back for the eventual end of the series).
And yeah, that "witchcraft" storyline...good gravy, that was hard going. Dear Smallville: never do that again.
Okay...more replies tomorrow, hopefully.