Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Finally I've cranked up Photoshop and created a fab title graphic like I'd meant to from the beginning. Hope it works OK.

Image Hosted by

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The literary oeuvre of Jimmy Olsen

Reporter, photographer, man of action, turtle man, elastic lad, transvestite: Many are the faces of James Bartholomew Olsen of Metropolis. Come with me now as I explore another facet of the Olsen Experience: Best-selling author.

In Jimmy Olsen #29's "The Superman Book That Couldn't Be Finished", a publisher asks Jimmy to write a novel, a fictional adventure with Superman. Jimmy, naturally, figures that after all the real adventures they've shared, this should be a piece of cake*, and eagerly agrees. After securing his pal's permission to use his name and character in the book, Jimmy begins a tense tale of nuclear blackmail in which a stray bolt of lightning accidentally detonates The Bomb. Superman saves Jimmy, but...


"Superman and I would have nothing left to do." And now you know what caused the Great Disaster. Well, Jimmy, maybe Kamandi's up for a rousing game of pinochle.

For his next draft, Jimmy casts himself as the intellectual type: Having taken up science as a hobby, he invents a mind-reading helmet, which (being the good citizen he is) he uses to detect crimes and warn Superman. Until...


He's going to blow Superman's most closely guarded secret for national publication, and the only reason he can think of not to do it is that he doesn't know it. Some pal.

Note the progression of Jimmy's hair. That's how you know things aren't going well for Jimmy: His hair gets mussed.

Matters don't improve. Superman is dying of kryptonite poisoning and needs a blood transfusion...but the doctors can't break his skin. Superman travels to the past and becomes Samson...which can't happen because his hair can't be cut.


What did I tell you about Jimmy's hair?

So, of course, Jimmy shares his problems with Superman, and of course Superman has words of advice for his young pal. Eventually you will remember and write the book, he says with the confidence born of optimism, faith in his friend, and time travel.

I love this caption:


Wait. Wait. "We'll buy a copy and take it back to 1958"? But, causality... changing the past... existing in two places at the same time (or are Superman and Jimmy of 1959 dead?)...

Don't you see? This is the real origin of Infinite Crisis. This book that Jimmy never actually wrote, just retyped from a future edition. This "1959 first printing" that now never existed, because the first printing was a year earlier, in 1958.

Thanks a lot, Superman.

(Story by Otto Binder, art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley. Man, I love that look.)

* And this is only #29. Elastic Lad, King of the Giant Ants, the monster in extra-dimensional horror movies, the Giant Turtle Man--none of that has happened yet. Look at all the great plots they throw away in this story. I love the Silver Age.

Friday, June 09, 2006

An impossible mission

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI don't do reviews primarily because I don't want to commit spoilers, and I don't know how to review them without doing so. That's why most of the books I talk about are decades old and spoiler-proof.

But I must say that the further I got into the new Wonder Woman #1, the bigger my smile got. I won't tell you much about specifics, but I can say that writer Allan Heinberg gets it. This is a perfect #1 issue, which sets up a new status quo, supporting cast and rogue's gallery while discarding nothing from the character's 65-year history.

Wonder Woman doesn't have to live in a world of Greek mythology, but she is mythology personified. Heinberg and the Dodsons give her grace, dignity, and stature. She isn't an outsider in any of her worlds: She's a bridge.

The artwork is... gorgeous. Breathtaking. I wish I could get a high-res scan of the double-page splash, without word balloons, to use as my computer desktop.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bat-Girl Has No Idea

Oh, yes, Kathy. Batman is absolutely the right person to convince Betty Kane not to spend her evenings in a bat-suit. His persuasive reasoning worked so well with that underage tagalong in a bright yellow cape, the extradimensional imp in baggy shorts, and, well, not to put too fine a point on it, you.

(From Batman #139.)

The Super-Teacher from Krypton

Jor-El must have built it, it's got his color scheme

Or, as Robby Reed, creator of Dial B for BLOG, calls it, the Super-Teacher A-hole.

The "adjective-noun-noun" structure sounds like manga gone wrong. If this thing were called "Krypton Genesis Herodotron" it would probably have had its own comic. Would probably still have it.

I mean, is that one ugly robot or what? I guess Jor-El can be forgiven for creating the Edsel of DC robotics, given that he took the time to build it at all in the face of planetary armageddon. And he thoughtfully programmed it to teach the use of super-powers. Apparently, on a planet as advanced as Krypton, it isn't enough for those who "can't do" to teach: They build robots to enhance skills that nobody on the planet has, or can possibly acquire without leaving the planet. Interesting use of resources, given that they didn't have space travel.

You know, it's just possible that they made fun of Jor-El for reasons other than the planet-blowing-up thing.

This story typifies a popular theme in Superboy (and Superman) stories which we may call WWJD (What Would Jor-El Do?). In such stories, we discover that Jor-El apparently had sufficient time between bouts of being humiliated by the Science Council to anticipate every aspect of his son's life on Earth and leave messages for him--mostly encouraging, though not exclusively so. See also The Day Superman Became the Flash, in which it's revealed that Jor-El fastened a video tape to the outside (!) of Kal-El's rocket explaining "Why Earth?".

There's also a healthy dollop of LJSC (Let's Jerk Superboy's Chain), as Superboy's shaky adolescent self-confidence is undermined and his fear that he just isn't smart enough to manage his powers effectively is exploited for cheap entertainment. They returned to this well a year later with the introduction of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who (like Super-A-hole) arranged for Superboy to fail at tests, so they could call him "loser!" just to see how he'd react.

Read the original Super-Teacher and Legion stories.

EDIT: Super-Teacher returns, with appalling implications. Read Robby's summary, and the original story.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Five (plus one) reasons to love Space Cabbie

Space Cabbie's on the cover, but they don't mention it!
So, Devon at Seven Hells says:
Will someone please, please, please explain to me the appeal of Space Cabbie?
Sure. In fact, I'll give you Five (plus one) reasons to love Space Cabbie:

Otto Binder.
Gardner Fox.
Gil Kane.
Bernard Sachs.

Like the Phantom Stranger, he doesn't have a real name. How cool is that? I see 'em hanging out together over coffee and Krispy Kremes between Crises. "Cabbie! Stranger! The doughnuts are hot now!"

In a world of Civil Wars and Kingdoms Come and gods who walk the earth, a "mere" human being can command his own destiny.

How can you not love him?

There's even fanfic about him. I'll bet if he teamed up with Vibe you'd appreciate him.