THAT CREEPY SCENE IN SUPERMAN RETURNS
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THAT CREEPY SCENE IN SUPERMAN RETURNS
Jones, by the way, was one of the uncredited art assistants who helped Bernie Wrightson beat the deadline on that original Swamp Thing story in House of Secrets #92. You can read more about that in this interview with Wrightson.
In other news:
- New Adam Warrock EP, “This Man…This Emcee” available for purchase! Only $5! Listen to the sample track “Marvel Vs. DC” at that link! Exclamation point!
- The first storyline of The Line (by Kevin Church and Paul Salvi) just wrapped up, and if you’re coming to the strip late, you can start right here.
- Pal Dorian reminds us of that Dan DeCarlo story from Penthouse Comix. Betty, no! (Link slightly NSFW.)
- It’s been going around the nerdinet again lately, though the actual process of posting all the pages was, according to the site, completed in 2009 (on my birthday, in fact!). But it’s always worth noting that every single page of the Elfquest comic book series is online for free reading. However, as of a couple of days ago, a PayPal “Donate” button was recently added, so, if you enjoy the Elfquest, drop ’em a buck or three at least to thank Wendy and Richard Pini for their generosity.
By the way, the wolf howl on the intro page startled the hell out of me.
- So there’s an unpublished Donald Duck story by Don Rosa that had been laid out but never completed, and Comics Alliance, in association with Boom! Studios, is presenting all the pages right here. (You can get a print version in the recently-releaed Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Vol. 1.)
So you had more questions in response to my answers to your previous questions, and I’ll get to that in a moment, but first…
…hey, there are preview pages for the first issue of Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing in the back of this week’s DC Comics! It’s only three pages, and Swamp Thing himself doesn’t appear (or directly appear) in them. Mostly it’s John Constantine, wondering what the deal was with Swamp Thing killing all those industrialists at the end of Brightest Day #24 and clearly something isn’t right with that (you see, I told you). Also, there’s a specific reference to a Vertigo-era storyline, so the DCU Swamp Thing and the Vertigo Swamp Thing seem to be sharing the same continuity, at least to some extent (as opposed to the Marvel Universe and Max Punishers, which are mostly distinct). I was wondering how DC was going to address that.
Anyway, what little I’ve seen of this comic looks okay…though, admittedly, I’m not the most unbiased person when it comes to Swamp Thing comics, since that is my specific fanboy trigger. Tim O’Neil once asked me on the Twitter “which is better – no new Swamp Thing comics or new and mediocre Swamp Thing comics?” and I honestly don’t know the answer. I mean, I’m not a complete chowderhead…I know the difference between a good Swamp Thing comic and a bad Swamp Thing comic, and the difference between a good Swamp Thing movie and a…okay, there’s no such thing as a bad Swamp Thing movie, but you get the idea. But I can apparently wring enjoyment even out of the lesser Swamp Thing comics while still appreciating the heights of the really good Swamp Thing comics, simply because I am such a fan of the character. I endure the lows, enjoy the highs, just to follow the ongoing saga.
Of course, I don’t think I’ve ever read a really, really bad Swamp Thing comic, one where I couldn’t enjoy it in the slightest…even the comic I linked above as a “bad” example was still interesting, if disappointing. Again, however, that’s probably my own bias talking. Even the last two issues of the original series, the generally reviled “superhero” issues, hold a fascination for me, a combination of interest in the publishing decisions made to keep a faltering property going, along with a simple nostalgic pleasure of reading this strange new twist in the Swamp Thing storyline.
That doesn’t really answer O’Neil’s question, aside from demonstrating the pattern that I will happily read any Swamp Thing comic, regardless of quality. On the other hand, I think the brief publishing break for the character was a good idea, as the multiple Vertigo series attempted to out-Vertigo each other and it seemed like that particular “mature audiences” version of Swamp Thing had pretty much played itself out. Bringing Swamp Thing back to the DC Universe may very well result in mediocre stories, but the simple novelty of having the character interacting with superheroes again is enough to keep my attention, even if only to see what publishing decisions are made to keep a faltering property going.
[FANBOY MODE ON] Plus I totally get to see Swamp Thing do stuff and fight guys! [FANBOY MODE OFF]
At long last…to your questions!
“Will next week’s Green Arrow #12 feature Swamp Thing’s third Brightest Day appearance, after B.D. #23-24?”
I haven’t the foggiest. I’m guessing “no,” if only because it looks like there’s a straight line from the storyline hints dropped in Brightest Day #24 to the Search for Swamp Thing #1, and a detour for Swampy into Green Arrow would likely require addressing certain plot points that belong in the Search series. But who knows?
“And how can you talk about Video Comics and not bring up Space Cabbie, Ultra, Space Ranger and Cryll, and the Three Mouseketeers?”
I almost mentioned the Three Mouseketeers, but couldn’t entirely remember if they had been on there. And now that you mention it, I do remember most of the rest…particular Ultra the Multi-Alien, as that was where I was introduced to that character, too!
“Do you have the awesome 90s cartoon swamp playset? I frequently ‘tubbed’ with it as a lad.”
Sadly, I did not get the ’90s Swamp Thing cartoon playsets, which is totally stupid because I remember seeing them on the shelves at closeout prices and thinking “should I buy those…? Nah, I don’t really have the room, and I’m sure all those blog readers I’ll have twenty years from now will understand.”
I want them now, though. Stupid 20-years-ago me! I hate that guy!
Pal Casie, the swell gal who gifted me with this awesome Swampy ornament, asks
“Do you have a Swamp Thing shrine area, or is it just sprinkled around your whole house? I’d like to imagine both.”
No, not really a shrine as such. We have a toy room, of sorts, which…okay, frankly, we’re still kind of working on it, but the girlfriend has her ten thousand Spider-Man toys to eventually be put on display, and I have some of my Swamp Thing figures up in there too, plus miscellaneous other toys and action figures that will someday be unpacked from the moving boxes shoved into the closet way back when and we never seem to get around to reopening.
And we have a big ol’ wood ‘n’ glass cabinet in the dining room area, which is where my two Swamp Thing statues and my Uncle Scrooge McDuck statue live.
Somewhere, hopefully, either in my parents’ garage, or perhaps in some cranny somewhere in my own home, there is a large cardboard “SWAMP THING TOY HEADQUARTERS” sign given to me by a customer who once worked for a retail toy chain, and was produced by the manufacturer of the ’90s Swamp Thing toy line for display in one of those freestanding metal frame poster-sign thingies. No idea what happened to it, and I’m half-afraid it got lost in a move, but I still hold out hope it’ll turn up someday. Because if it does, it’s totally getting nailed to the front door.
Not a whole lot to tell, really. I didn’t discover Swamp Thing until a few years after the original run of the series wrapped up in ’76, but a bit before the relaunch in ’82. And I didn’t encounter Swamp Thing through comic books, but rather by television! I’ve mentioned it before, but my initial encounter with my favorite swamp monster came via a television show called Video Comics, which aired on the Nickelodeon cable channel during the very early years of its existence (late 1970s/early 1980s).
The show would open with video of kids riding bicycles through the city streets, while Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” played over the scenes, ending with…well, I don’t specifically remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure it’s something like the kids ending up at a store and excitedly pulling comics off a rack. And then the actual show would begin, presenting various comic book stories one static panel at a time onscreen, with the dialogue and narration being read by actors. Among the comics featured on the show were Green Lantern, the Flash, Adam Strange, and, yes, Swamp Thing. (Also featured were Sugar & Spike, another favorite series of mine introduced to me by this show.)
I couldn’t tell you for sure which issues of Swamp Thing I specifically saw on Video Comics, but I think it was issue #9 (the one with the alien), and almost certainly the first issue, with the origin.
As for the actual comic books themselves…at about the time I was discovering Swamp Thing on TV, my dad and I were in the habit of frequenting local used book stores, and one of these stores had boxes of old comics. It was there that I bought my first two issues of Swamp Thing: issue #16 (the zombie issue), and issue #23, the issue where they started to make Swampy into a superhero.
I’ve been asked before here on the site “why Swamp Thing?” and…I don’t know that I ever really articulated a reasonable answer. Part of it is the quality of the art and writing…especially the art, since Berni(e) Wrightson’s work really was something else. So detailed you could lose yourself in it. And I think part of it was the tragic tone to the Swamp Thing character, giving him a little more dramatic weight than his cape-clad associates in the superhero books. And part of it was that I’ve always enjoyed the horror and sci-fi genres, probably due to having a childhood that took place during the 1970s, where horror and sci-fi pretty much permeated the entertainment menu.
Hopefully that clarifies my Swamp Thing fandom a bit.
There’s another question in yesterday’s comments, from reader Alex, who is curious about my reference to two Swamp Thing statues. Yes, there is that full-sized 12-inch Swamp Thing statue based on the Michael Zulli painting, with flowers in his hands (or as his hands, rather)…which was also the basis for the first DC Direct Swamp Thing action figure. But there was indeed a second statue, a 6-inch version of the 12-inch statue, released when DC started doing “mini” versions of some of their out-of-print statues. Yes, I do have both statues, the big ol’ Swamp Thing and his pal Mini-Me.
I also have the DC Direct figure. And its glow-in-the-dark variant. And all the Swamp Thing figures from the 1990 cartoon line. Including the glow-in-the-dark figure from that series.
I have two different glow-in-the-dark Swamp Thing action figures. This is what happens when you live your life properly.
So the new DC Comics solicitations are out and the only important comic worth mentioning is, of course, Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #3:
Seeing Deadman on the cover there brings to mind those old Challengers of the Unknown issues where the Swampy/Deadman team first got its start. A good omen!
The solicit reads:
“The search ends here as John Constantine finally finds out Swamp Thing’s dark motives – and what they have to do with him!”
…so it sounds like this mini-series is addressing the whole “murderous Swamp Thing” coda from the end of Brightest Day #24, as I figured. Also, there’s a variant cover for this issue, too, but I don’t know what it is yet. But I’m sure I’ll buy it.
Speaking of being a huge sucker, I’ll probably be grabbing one of these as well:
HEROES OF THE DC UNIVERSE SERIES 2: SWAMP THING BUST
DESIGNED BY GARY FRANK
SCULPTED BY JEAN ST. JEAN
Guardian of the Green!
Swamp Thing rises again, as seen in the unforgettable final issue of BRIGHTEST DAY!
Summoner of life, this Elemental possesses super strength and can manipulate all forms of plant life – even those alien to earth.
The cold-cast porcelain bust measures approximately 5.75” high x 3.5” wide x 5.75” deep and is packaged in a 4-color box.
I don’t know why the description of Swamp Thing’s abilities makes me laugh, since, well, that’s pretty accurate, I suppose. Just seems funny seeing it all laid out there like that. I never really think of Swamp Thing as possessing “super strength,” but, yeah, I guess he does at that. Dude pulled a helicopter out of the air in Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, after all.
But of course, this will be my third Swamp Thing statue. As I said on the Twitter the other day: “The upside to Swamp Thing coming back: more Swamp Thing crap to buy. The downside: more Swamp Thing crap to buy.”
But here’s something that’s entirely free. FREEEEEEEEE. Drawn and sent to me by reader Thomas, the most spectacular mash-up of them all…that muck-encrusted mockery of a ruffian, SLUGGO THING:
Oh man, that nose.
(Minor SPOILERS for Thor follow.)
So I saw Thor this past week, and I thought it wasn’t too bad. A lot better than I expected a Thor movie was likely to be, all things considered. Certainly better than the Thor that appeared in The Incredible Hulk Returns TV movie, but still undecided if it was better than Thor from Adventures in Babysitting.
Some of the early action scenes suffered a bit from jerky-cam close-ups where you couldn’t tell what was going on, and too much of the film was people in shadows fighting dark blue-skinned creatures at night, so that was a bit rough. But overall, the film was nicely cast, the general tone was light and fun, and it was quickly and excitingly paced. Not deep, but enjoyable.
One question: I may need to watch the film again once it hits home video to pin down the timeline. How long is Thor on Earth? A couple of days, maybe? It’s possible I’m forgetting a line of dialogue indicating “SUDDENLY, TWO MONTHS LATER” or something, but I’m pretty sure the whole “Thor learns an important lesson about arrogance and sacrifice” only takes about 48 hours to play out, which means Odin’s reparative Odinsleep is basically an eight-hour good night’s rest. Not quite the godly and epic storytelling events Lee ‘n’ Kirby prepped us for.
But that’s just me being a fanboy nitpicker, really. The compressed timeline is fine for story purposes here, and, as I noted, it’s possible I’m forgetting something re: the fugiting of tempus here.
The Jack Kirby-ness of Asgard came through fairly well, I think. The armor, the buildings, the Rainbow Bridge, the big ol’ teleportation machine at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, the Destroyer: all very nicely Kirby. I had my doubts about how Loki’s horned helmet was going to play in live action, but even that worked out okay. Heimdall was good ‘n’ badass, making all those folks griping about the fact he was being played by (gasp) a black man look even more like chumps than they did already. And man, Fandral of the Warriors Three looked like he just popped off the comics page, didn’t he?
So overall…yeah, Thor was an entertaining time at the moving pictures. Not a classic or a gamechanger or anything, but a pleasant enough action flick, and sometimes that’s all you need.
“Hi! I’m wearing a costume!”
I was going to open this post by saying “man, it’s hard to believe it’s really been ten years since this show started,” but then I realize, no, I’m pretty sure I felt the slow passage of all ten seasons of this “no tights” (except for all the other superheroes) “no flights” (except for all the other flying superheroes) series about Clark Kent’s meandering journey into Supermanishness.
But it’s finally over…a show that, despite its awkwardness, and its goofy plotting, and its overreliance on head injuries, and that whole season about magical tattoos (don’t ask), and its weird vacillating between coyness about being too comic-booky and straight-up giving us Hawkman, still managed to keep me tuning in week after week, partially due to an appealing cast but primarily due to the possibility that Annette O’Toole might pop up on screen at any moment.
As for the finale itself:
- I did really like the moment Clark finally, finally acquired the power of flight via Jor-El’s “flashback vision” review of Clark’s super-abilities. A bit corny, perhaps, but Superman is always best served with a little corn worked in.
- Speaking of that scene, Zombie-Lionel-Possessed-by-Darkseid was good ‘n’ creepy. Yeah, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have full-on Darkseid as Darkseid fighting Clark, but 1) hey, it’s Smallville, why would they start giving people what they want now? – and 2) there’s now precedence for the Fourth World characters moving in our world via avatars (thanks to Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle and Final Crisis), but I think we can thank the show’s budget for that decision.
- Okay, the show’s premise, as originally stated, was “no tights, no flights.” We weren’t going to get Clark in costume because, hey, he’s not Superman yet, and we weren’t going to see him flying, because…it was too superhero-y, I guess? So way back when I figured, when the show finally ended, the final scene would be Luthor about to do something nefarious, when, suddenly, he turns to see behind him (and we see at the side of the screen) a flutter of red cape, and perhaps a boot, and then THE END.
Now, had the show only run three or four years, that might have been fine. But the show kept stringin’ folks along for ten years, and during that time we discovered “no tights, no flights” only applied to Clark, as we started seeing more and more superheroes and supervillains pop up who violated both rules. (And even Clark himself took a flight once in a while, kinda sorta.) And I figured, okay, after all this time, surely the last episode will just be full-on Superman action, as a reward for all the folks who stuck around for all this time.
Well, no, not exactly.
I’m not complaining, as such…it’s not as if there’s any shortage of Superman movies or TV shows already, so it’s not as if the world is suffering a loss in potential Superman action. But after ten seasons, I was kind of hoping for more than just…a fluttering cape, and extreme close-ups of Clark’s face while he’s wearing the costume (as shown above), and bits of CGI that were hardly more than what we saw in this flash-forward. But I understand the decision: this is a show, at least as originally imagined, about Clark, not Superman. I still would have liked at least one shot of Clark in the full outfit just as a final payoff, though. And it’s not like they didn’t have Clark in other superhero suits prior to the red ‘n’ blues…giving us a good look at Clark as Superman would have been a nice counterpoint to those other outfits we’ve been having to put up with over the last couple of years. At least we did get him ripping the shirt open to reveal the “S” at the end of the show.
- So did anyone else think that the Ghost of Jonathan Kent was some kind of projection sent by Jor-El? Especially when he started telling Clark “hey, you need to go back to Jor-El and have him help you out?” I mean, it seems like all the clues are there.
- Also, I may need to rewatch the series (NOTE: I’m not actually going to rewatch the series) to figure out when Jor-El made the transition from “enemy of humanity” to “tough-love computer dad prepping his son for superheroing.” Wasn’t there a whole subplot about Clark possibly being sent to Earth to conquer it on behalf of Jor-El? How did that get resolved…it’s been so long, I don’t even remember.
- I also don’t recall the exact point in the series when Lex finally turned from “put-upon friend who knows there’s something up with Clark” to “evil arch-nemesis.”
- Okay, back to the finale: offing Tess seemed like an awfully dark way to go with that character, but I guess we needed to reestablish that Lex was a bad dude, or something?
And speaking of Lex…I was sure they were going to allow Lex to retain his knowledge of Clark’s powers. The conversation in the burnt-out Luthor mansion felt like it went a long way to establishing an adversarial relationship that would be just between them, and while it was never explicitly stated Lex would keep the secret, it sort of felt implied. Or maybe I was just reading too much into it. But it’s a moot point anyway.
- The resolution of the “Apokolips drawn to Earth by people infected with the Omega symbol” plot went a different way than I expected as well. Given that Clark can dispel the Omega symbol simply with the powers of Concerned Onlooking and Being Inspirational, as he did with Ollie during this episode, I figured they were leading up to having Clark finally show up in the Superman outfit, inspire the people of Earth with hope in the face of destruction, and thus all the Omega infection would pfffft disappear. Okay, he does say that he can’t do for the entire planet what he did for Ollie, but I thought maybe he was just being modest.
Instead, of course, he just flies up and pushes Apokolips away, which doesn’t appear to be any big deal, and all the Omega symbols vanish. Another Smallville-style simple resolution!
- So I wonder when I’m going to get my first request at the shop for this Smallville comic that appears in the episode:
Maybe I can direct them to these.
And frankly, that comic’s very existence within the Smallville milieu raises more questions than it answers.
So anyway, Smallville…probably overstayed its welcome by a season or five, but I think I’m going to miss it now that it’s gone. …Well, there is that one episode I missed, where Lex marries Lana, which originally aired in the middle of a bunch of weeks of reruns, so I’m not quite done yet. …Is there no escape?
COMIC STRIP CONNOISSEUR
from Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #18 (May 1965) by Stan Lee, Dick Ayers & Chic Stone
That face in the second panel looks very familiar to me, for some reason. No, no, not because I used to hang with guy…I’m just suspecting there was some photo-referencing going on.
Anyway, thank you for enjoying Charlton Comics week…sort of an unannounced Low Content Mode for the site, I realize, but I needed a brief bit of time off. Back to normal next week…I hope!
from Ghostly Tales #162 (August 1983)
…because it sure wasn’t the cover design. Frankly, though, “the mutant descendents of da Vinci” does seem like it would pretty much sell itself.