Saturday, July 23, 2005
Here's the cover image from Life with Archie #128 (Dec 1972):
Let's take a closer look at the guy in the lower left corner:
Now the guys from the motorcycle gang in the upper right look like your typical Archie Comics house style ruffians. But that other fella...that's a man that's seen things. Terrible things. And he seems remarkably out of tune with the standard Archie style. There's something almost Rat Fink-ian about that face. It's about as out of place as the occasional walk-on appearances of the lady sophisticates of Riverdale.
Friday, July 22, 2005
I've tested your patience this week with a couple big posts in a row, so let me just point out a couple things that have amused me recently:
1. Beaucoupkevin found inspiration, where others found confusion and consternation, in my post from yesterday.
2. Harry Potter fan fiction writers are annoyed that events in the new novel have played havoc with their own stories. (via pal Metaphorge) Okay, not a comics link, you got me.
3. A "SNIKT!" card from Marvel Comics Monopoly:
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I've read some complaints here and there about how in All Star Batman and Robin, Batman grabbing the recently-orphaned Dick Grayson and informing him that he's "been drafted...into a war" seemed to be a little on the abrupt side. So the kid's parents are killed, and Batman just up and decides to make him his sidekick, just like that? Well, it's not too far off from the original Robin origin way back in 1940's Detective Comics #38.
First, Dick's parents fall victim to tampered-with trapeze wires:
Following the "accident," Dick overhears the miscreants responsible, but before he can act:
Bruce Wayne, who was in the audience that evening and witnessed the murder, shows up as the Batman and dissuades young Mr. Grayson from contacting the authorities:
He immediately shanghais the kid from the circus in the Batmobile, away from all the authorities that probably would have some small amount of concern about a recently-orphaned child:
After about a panel or two's worth of convincing on Dick's part, Batman decides to make the child his partner in crime-fighting, making him swear an oath that very evening:
...and then the training regimen begins ("As far as swinging ropes go, you can probably teach me a trick or two," says Batman to the young trapeze artist), and by the end of the page, Dick's in his Robin costume, ready to strike fear in the hearts of people easily startled by boys in chainmail shorts.
So, basically, Miller's take on the origin, at least as it seems in that first All Star issue, is more or less on par with the original. Well, maybe with a few more shots of gals in underwear, but some advances in storytelling must be allowed for, surely.
Which reminds me...it's a comic by Frank Miller and Jim Lee, and people are surprised by the presence of scantily-clad women?
I noticed this blurb on the cover of the new Invincible Ultimate Collection hardcover yesterday:
Oh, c'mon, what's with this "probably" crap? Fake humility ain't gonna get you anywhere! Stan slapped "The World's Greatest Comics Magazine" across the top of Fantastic Four, right? Go ahead and put "the best superhero comic book in the universe" on the cover without qualifiers...that's fine with me. Or even "screw you, Superman! Our comic rules, your comic drools." Whatever. Why be shy?
One of the most linked articles on this site is this one about the story explaining how Superman's glasses and his power of super-hypnosis protect his secret identity. Well, here's an interesting discussion that spins off from that post, in which it's postulated that such extreme means probably aren't necessary in protecting his secret.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Boy, I haven't reviewed comics on this here site for a while. Part of the reason is that I'm terrible at reviewing...I'd much rather be smart-alecky or put up a link to something weird, since reviewing involves "effort" and "work." Plus, some of you out there put up some great reviews, and I find myself a little imposed by them. For example, Focused Totality's look at Desolation Jones #2, or pal Tom's rave over Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. And, not to mention, I'm just a wee bit embarrassed that the majority of my purchases from the last couple of weeks have been predominantly superhero funnybooks. I do like comics from other genres, I swear...just nothing I've wanted has come out lately. Honest. Would I lie to you?
Anyway, let's have a brief glance at a few goodies from days gone by:
All Star Batman and Robin #1 - woo boy, this book got some folks a bit riled, didn't it? Several pages of Vicki Vale walking around in her delicate underthings is not what some of you were expecting in a Batman book, it appears. But, you know, this is a completely unabashedly trashy comic book and is a hoot because of it. Pal Ian notes, quite rightly, that there's a conflict between Jim Lee's straightfaced approach to the art and the seeming smirk in Frank Miller's writing. I was trying to figure out just what it was about this book that bothered me, and thank you to Ian for putting your finger right on it. However, it's not a fatal flaw, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Miller does next in this title, regardless of the artist.
The Comics Journal #269 - yes, it's the issue that has quotes from me, me! Don't let that dissuade you from picking up this issue, focusing on shoujo manga. I have little interest in shoujo manga, but it's a testament to the magazine that it's got me interested in articles on the subject. Don't miss Dirk Deppey's editorial on how American comic publishers have lost the young female market to the manga publishers. The conclusion he reaches is similar to pal Dorian's usual reminder that kids want comics...they just don't want the comics pop and grandpa used to read.
Mad Magazine #456 - nice gag in the Revenge of the Sith parody: "Our sensors indicate that this opening battle is the best scene in the movie...and we still have two hours to go!" Sergio Aragones' contribution, "A Mad Look at Summer Jobs," is top-notch, as usual, and Johnny Ryan and Greg Leitman's "The Fantastic Four has A Crap-Tastic Two Weeks!" is a shamelessly crude, and amusing, spoof on the FF that thankfully doesn't depend on a knowledge of the movie (though that may be the only way most of Mad's fan base knows the characters). It's no comedy masterpiece, to be sure, but it made me laugh, and that's good enough. And, since I started reading Mad again over a year ago, I have yet to read a "Monroe" strip all the way through.
Villains United #3 - bad people doing bad things to each other for 32 pages, and it's really a lot of fun. Gail Simone has a light, witty touch to her writing that makes it a pleasure to read. This is probably my favorite of the Infinite Crisis spin-offs (though Day of Vengeance is a close second, what with Detective Chimp and all).
Desolation Jones #2 - I don't know what I can add that this fine review hasn't already said, other to express my admiration for a series that appeared at first to be a detective series with a nasty sense of dark humor ("Hitler porn?") and, as of this issue, has become an exploration at how damaged people act, alone or with each other.
DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy #2 - it's pretty.
Incredible Hulk #83 - apparently Peter David is leaving this title soon, which is a shame. This current issue is tying into that crossover series that nobody seems to like (no, not that one, the other one), but David manages to give us a good alternate-universe story in which Banner and Hulk try to find peace with a tribe of Aborigines, only to find him/themselves defending said tribe. If David were staying on the book, I'd imagine that events in this alternate-universe story might have some kind of lasting impact on the title's regular continuity, but since David is leaving...ah, well.
Fables #39 - Now, I know full well that The Jungle Book is hardly a Disney creation, but there's still a little voice in my head that tells me "that's not what Mowgli and Baloo look like." That's what Disney's control over my young brain has done to me. It's still fun to see new takes on characters that, due to popular perception, are usually imagined solely in their Disney incarnations. (Like Pinocchio, from previous issues.) And while I do love Fables, I'm not sure we need a second ongoing series.
Batman: Dark Detective #5 - maybe you can't quite go home again, as this new series by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin doesn't have quite the same polish as their initial 1970s teaming. I'd still take this over the usual grim-n-gritty Batman we normally get. Okay, the Two-Face clone was pushing it a little, but this series is so -- amiable? unpretentious? --that it's easy to overlook the occasional excesses.
JSA #75 - okay, I'm not the biggest Alex Ross fan in the world, but I do love his version of the Spectre.
In other news, we had some DC solicitations:
Now, the solicitation copy says that this is the 16th ("16th?") anniversary edition of Arkham Asylum, though it looks like the cover says "15th."
This new Elongated Man figure creeps me the hell out. Those arms, those arms. It's like something out of Urotsukidoji.
I'm sorta ambivalent about Joey Cavalieri taking over writing chores on The Flash. Nothing against the man, but I remember his writing on Firestorm and Atari Force back in the day, and his dialogue work was, well, a bit on the awkward side. It's been 15 or 20 years, so maybe he's improved since then. I'm fairly certain he wrote at least the first issue of The Huntress series, which I read and, as I recall, wasn't completely appalled by, but then again, I didn't keep reading the series either.
One of my favorite Jim Aparo covers (totally stolen from the Grand Comic Book Database, since I can't get to my copy right now):
The man gave us Swamp Thing as Christ-figure. Fan-tastic.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Chris "Lefty" Brown posts a rare picture of pal Dorian and yours truly in a sweaty man-embrace...not to mention pictures of Darth Tater. Can you tell the difference?
Fred Hembeck reports (under July 19th) that Jim Aparo has passed away.
My condolences to his friends and loved ones.
"At Comic-Con, Nerd Mentality Rules the Day"
"...Fans are pure and real and sort of sweet in their innocence. But you better not disappoint them, lest you get a little taste of the flame on. These people -- mostly adults, by the way -- are some of the friendliest conventioneers this side of a Omaha Shriners' gathering. Very mellow, very polite. Just don't them started on how the Incredible Hulk was done wrong by Ang Lee."
"Comic-Con is Geek Heaven"
"Comic-Con is the world's largest annual pow-wow (or, in comic book parlance, 'POW! WOW!') for everybody who's anybody in the worlds of comics...."
"The Nerd Mecca"
"All types of males can be found in the convention hall, but females tend to skew toward one of two extremes. Either the lady is a total nerd, or she has gigantic breasts and is being paid by the hour to flaunt them."
Monday, July 18, 2005
At last, some worthwhile news out of San Diego:
A Marvel Select Watcher figure!
I mean, just look at it. That totally rules.
(found via Chris Karath)
Zatanna - the Wikipedia entry.
Some reviews of Seven Soldiers: Zatanna: Comic Book Galaxy (as part of a Seven Soldiers overview), Comic Readers, Sequential Tart, the Pickytarian, and Unqualified Offerings.
Ryan Sook convention sketch.
A synopsis of her Batman: The Animated Series appearance, and another synopsis from Justice League Unlimited.
Jeff Moy commissioned sketch.
Norma's Zatanna costume! Zatanna with Darth Vader! Zatanna with Buddy Christ!
Zatanna as created by the Hero Machine.
Synopses of early appearances, plus a checklist of later ones.
Customized figure in the "animated style," featuring her George Perez-designed costume.
The Zatanna of Earth-349 fan-fiction - based on the transgendered superheroes that appeared in Superman #349.
Phil Noto sketch.
You can find a custom Mego action figure of Zatanna on this page (plus a custom Two-Face, custom Star Sapphire....).
Um...Zatanna in bondage. And lots of other female superheroes in various states of restraint (and undress). Hokey smokes. (Probably not safe for work.)
A nice painting by Raine Szramski.
These LiveJournal folk like Zatanna.
Dr. Strange versus Dr. Fate, Scarlet Witch, and Zatanna - a roundtable discussion. (Pop-ups)
A possible Zatanna movie?
The inevitable Heroclix figure.
Skins for The Sims, classic style and Perez-style.
Fred Hembeck unleashes a Flash/Zatanna team-up onto an unsuspecting world. (Not to mention Zatanna with the Flash's arch-nemesis!)
The official DC Direct action figure.
Zatanna stats for the Champions RPG.
Another custom figure, including a white tiger.
A shot of the Zatanna mini-bust, and of the animated-style statue.
...and a full page of Zatanna Micro-heroes, like the one at the top of this post.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
First, let me join Mr. Bacardi in reassuring James Kochalka, Superstar in that I, too, am another weblogger that loved Super F*ckers. It's a great darn comic, and I've been recommending it to likely suspects at our shop.
Second, I haven't been paying much attention to the news coming out of San Diego (beyond following what the evil Dr. Brill and the Fleshy-headed Mutant have had to say). However, pal Dorian pointed out that Joe Quesada appears to be implying that Stephen King may be working on a Marvel comic. Okay, granted, the teaser slide just says "KING," so it could be Spider-Man and the Hulk reenacting Martin Luther King's speeches, but, no, my money's on Steve. Now whether it will be actual full scripting, or just "based on concepts by Stephen King," well, I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Third, something else pal Dorian and I were discussing...did people really hate DC Countdown to the point of practically having nervous breakdowns about it? I can understand if you didn't like it, but, geez, get a grip.