Sunday, December 30, 2007

At the End of the Day

Spoiler warning for... oh, forget it. This is the worst-kept secret since...well, ever.

Spider-Man is dead.

Wait a minute, you say. No, he isn't. I read Amazing Spider-Man #545. That isn't what happened.

Well, maybe you misread it. Peter Parker gave up. He surrendered to the Marvel universe's Ultimate Evil and gave him permission to rewrite his life retroactively, potentially remove him from existence completely (Mephisto hinted he could do that), counting on the Ultimate Liar to be telling the truth just this once, that in return for doing so Aunt May would live.

It would be just like Mephisto if Pete returned to the old homestead and found Aunt May alive as a disembodied brain in a jar on the mantel.

See ya later, Joe. Or not.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Somewhere at the intersection of four parallel earths

You know, it isn't that the story is badly told.

I've always thought Straczynski was a good storyteller. And for all that Joe Quesada is as slow as Christmas, he draws pretty good. I could wish that the alternate-Peter Parkers looked a little more like Peter Parker, but that's a quibble.

(Oh, dear, did I spoil anything? That's hard to believe, given the level of buzz this storyline seems to have generated. Too bad.)

But the core of the story just seems wrong. Spider-Man is a street-level superhero, and shouldn't be dealing with Mephisto at all. Maybe "Mephisto" is a Skrull. Hell, maybe Peter is a Skrull.

Do I seem too desperate? Is it optimistic or pessimistic to hope that this story goes almost anywhere other than where the accepted rumor says it will go?

Maybe I'm expecting too much. I'm expecting this story to fit neatly into established character patterns, if not necessarily perfectly into continuity. (Don't expect miracles. Not after "Sins Past.")

The logical way, the consistent way to end this is for Peter to spit in Mephisto's eye.

And then, "tomorrow", when Aunt May does, finally, die -- she's revealed as a Skrull. How long has she been a Skrull? Maybe... always? Wouldn't that be a kick in the head.

Maybe what this is is a full-stop discontinuity. Maybe this is their version of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel?" They're bidding farewell to the character as he has been and clearing the slate for the character as they now want him to be. And I should stop worrying about what happens to these people next, because it isn't going to logically follow from whatever happens to them in this story, and was never intended to.

Addendum 12/6: Hello and welcome, all you Newsarama fans.

One thing you have to admit, "One More Day" has to be counted as a tremendous success because people are talking about Spider-Man. The publishing delay has even, one might argue, worked in Marvel's favor because it has taken a one-month buzz and pumped it up to five.

One might almost suspect that was the plan all along.

Another thing that should be noted: The glee with which fans are jumping and pointing and saying "See, even JMS thinks this is a bad idea" is misplaced, or at the very least premature. Read it again: That's not what the man said. He said, "There’s a lot that I don’t agree with", but he was very careful not to say what that was.

And goodness knows there are several strong candidates.

C'mon, people: Pete wouldn't cut a deal with Iron Man (he didn't offer Tony any kind of deal, he just demanded help) and he's going to get cozy with the Big Bad, Satan?

What was the "Loki owes thee a boon, mortal" card for, if not this?

Given JMS' time-travel tale in Babylon 5, it feels conspicuous to me that we haven't seen the other side of the encounter with the alternate-costume Spider-Man in that cemetery. If not now, when?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Somewhere on another parallel earth

That makes 51. Or does it?

"Paging Booster Gold and 'Rip Hunter'... Cleanup on aisle 15... Cleanup on aisle 15..."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Somewhere on a parallel Earth...

...the "One More Day" arc featuring the Amazing Spider-Man was published, as originally scheduled, in weekly installments throughout the month of August 2007.

On that same earth, Allan Heinberg's "Who is Wonder Woman" and Kurt Busiek's "Camelot Falls" similarly achieved unbroken regular serialization.

On the other hand, Newsweek will have skipped its third week in a row, Time has missed more weeks than it has hit in 2007, and People and Us are in the midst of a month-long crossover. They sell in the tens of thousands, and they are only available at small shops called "news-stands". But I digress.

Unfortunately, I don't live on that earth. I have to buy comics on this one, where Marvel disguises a $1 price hike by hiding it in plain sight, in a "Still 395 cents" bullet-burst. Where the Marvel hype machine, with tongue in cheek, insists that "if you only read one comic this decade," it should be part two of a four-issue arc.

Where Joe Quesada can allow the flagship title of the Marvel Comics Group to drift so far off-schedule that these four "weekly" August issues are now "monthly" issues, barely expected to conclude the arc before the end of the year.

Assuming no additional delays.

I wonder how this story, on its completion (assuming it ever is completed, and with Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine on a year-plus delay, surely it is permissible to question it), will compare to the Spider-Man epic by Lee and Ditko that concluded in Spider-Man #33.

That only cost twelve cents.

That only took one issue to tell.

That was published on schedule.

That didn't bring in a deus-ex-machina new character, or have Peter threaten to sell his soul, to tie everything together neatly.

That also saw Spider-Man facing a lethal threat to both himself and Aunt May, one that was clearly far beyond his ability to overcome, yet overcome it he did, when all else failed him, with raw determination.

Boy, I tell you, they don't make comics like that anymore.

Except, maybe, on that parallel earth.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shirtless Saturday - Johnny Storm

Today's entry is the classic cliffhanger from Fantastic Four #512, by the sorely missed Mark Wieringo.

What's worse, that Johnny Storm has managed to lose his pants, or that he's screaming about it at the top of his lungs while sitting in the kiddie pool?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shirtless Saturday - Conner & Cassie

Conner "the Clone of Steel" Kent and Cassie "Wonder Girl" Sandsmark play "what if this were the end of the world" in the barn in Teen Titans Annual #1. Of course, this being an "Infinite Crisis" tie-in, it doesn't end well, as after a good farm-cooked breakfast, Conner flies off to be killed by the villain now known simply as "Prime".

But at least he died... a Man. I guess.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Getting out from under

Has it struck anyone else as odd that the colorful star-spangled early-Silver Age Wonder Woman is being reprinted in the black-and-white Showcase format, where the Sekowsky-era "powerless" Diana Prince (best remembered in her signature white jumpsuit) gets a full color trade?

On the other hand, I just bought Showcase Presents Adam Strange because I'd given up on DC ever bringing out Adam Strange Archives Vol 3, and guess what they just solicited for March?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Shirtless Saturday - Kara Zor-El

To initiate this feature, I chose the DC universe's favorite strumpet, Kara Zor-El, showing off her considerable underage charms to a Kandorian tattoo artist. From Supergirl #6.

In all seriousness, though, I do have two questions about this. Not "What were they thinking?" since I think we've established that they weren't thinking.

One: Does she still have it, or were the events of "Candor" retconned away in a flurry of alternate earths and timelines?

Two: Can someone with a better grasp of Kryptonian tell me what it said?


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Puzzle of the Fleshless Corpse

Has Faust been... eating Ralph Dibny?

(Does he taste rubbery?)

I haven't been following Black Adam, so I had no idea poor Ralph put in an appearance (sort-of) until Rachelle mentioned it over at Living Between Wednesdays. Neron apparently found a loophole in Ralph's dying binding spell (see 52), but Felix Faust is stuck in Doctor Fate's tower until he dies, or unless a God lets him out. (I wonder if Granny Goodness could do it.)

I suppose nobody knows Ralph is dead but Faust, Neron, and Adam. And who would they tell? The situation is likely to stay that way until a sufficiently high-level magic user tries to find him. You'd think someone would miss him.

If I was a betting man, I'd look for Ralph (and Sue) wherever Doctor Thirteen next appears. Of course, being a skeptic, he wouldn't be able to see them -- but I'll bet Tracy Thirteen could.

Maybe Ralph and Sue could partner with Boston Brand and open a detective agency in the Oblivion Bar.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


If I were Say It Backwards, I'd put this image in my blog header.

Occasional Superheroine presents some Hot Comic Book Action. I see "Smallville" is going back to the basics: Women without pants. I take it this Kara isn't supposed to be underage.

Then OS talks about Weddingus Interruptus with Dead Arrow. Who, come on, you know he isn't dead. He's getting a "Year One"! And I must be the only reader who isn't that fond of Amanda Conner's art. I mean, it's OK, but everybody else is raving about the wonderfully emotive faces, but to me, everybody just looks drunk. Which, I guess, is appropriate at a wedding reception, but Power Girl looked drunk in her mini, too.

Dave Ex Machina presents clothing for the discerning geek. I could have sworn I saw these shirts at DragonCon.

Rachelle at Living Between Wednesdays wants to hear some cheery stories about people for whom their mutual love of comic books helped them bond. I don't have one, so if you do, you know what to do.

HarperCollins to reprint Scott McCloud's ZOT! for July 2008. If I'm reading this right, it's not complete: It's collecting only the material first published in black and white.

Major Spoilers presents an iconic image from All-Star The Goddamn Batman.

Devon at Seven Hells takes this opportunity to re-examine major DC events of the past twenty years and see how the new characters introduced in these events are doing. He's a lot kinder than I would be.
  • Pariah - dead
  • Lady Quark - dead? (Hey, maybe her Earth is back!)
  • Harbinger - dead
  • Question - dead
  • Blue Beetle - dead
  • Captain Atom - retconned beyond all recognition
  • Nightshade - I thought you said "major characters"? Well, retconned beyond recognition anyway.
  • Peacemaker - retconned beyond recognition
  • Son of Vulcan - who?
  • Wildcat II - dead
  • Flash III (Wally West) - still doing OK, I guess... (does he really count as a creation of "Legends"?)
  • Vril Dox and L.E.G.I.O.N. - yawn
  • Monarch I - dead
  • All of the "Bloodlines" characters - yawn, with the possible exception of Hitman
  • Starman (Jack Knight) - dead?
  • Stargirl - so far, so good
  • Neron - yawn
  • Hourman 1,000,000 - dead
I have to say DC's character creation skills don't look good here. When Firestorm looks like an elder statesman, something is wrong.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On the Streets of Blogopolis

Living Between Wednesdays found this panel of Lois Lane in her natural state, being made a fool of by Superman (who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild- mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, must have a good laugh at her expense almost every hour of the day).

Dragon*Con Podcasting - Podcasting in the Classroom: This panel featured three educators who are creating educational podcasts, and my wife who is skeptical that the thing can have any applications for, how shall I say it, neighborhoods that are less affluent.

Yes, I know it has nothing to do with comic books. So?

Occasional Superheroine has a positive review of The Justice League of America Wedding Special. I really wanted to like this book, and I generally enjoy Dwayne McDuffie's writing (having seen a lot of it on the television JLU). But unlike the Wedding Planner, which actually was about planning the wedding, the Wedding Special is all about setting up this version of the Legion of Doom. I probably shouldn't blame McDuffie for that, since most DC titles seem primarily motivated by editorial mandate these days.

OS isn't crazy about the cover, and I actually agree. Although, given that Ed Benes is drawing it, it's not much of a surprise, is it? The spectacle of Superman bursting out of the cake at the bachelorette party is overcome by the fact that he's the most modestly-dressed person in attendance. Wonder Woman's star-spangled panties are approaching thongness. Any issue now there won't be room for any stars at all.

Progressive Ruin is speculating that Joe Quesada is incessantly repeating "people hate married Spider-Man" in order to make it so. Perhaps Marvel already has the "Because you demanded it!" blurb ready (the smart money seems to say this will happen in "One More Day").
Based on talking to customers in his comic shop (you know, people who actually buy comic books and, like, read them), Mike is unable to identify any groundswell of resentment that Pete and MJ are married. I'm thinking that, in the Marvel offices, the E-I-C and the writers he selects must really think that marriage is a dead end, which is a bigger tragedy than anything they put the characters through.

Seven Hells celebrates the return of the splash page. I think he's missing the point. A splash page is a single-panel summary of the story you're about to read, in tone and personality if not in literal representation of events actually contained in the story. These days, splash pages are places for the artist to show off (not that I mind that: some of my favorite images are the "pin-up pages" of days gone by). The intent is to actually slow down the story, to postpone the introduction of elements the reader might not want to be spoiled by, in full awareness that the first four or five pages of any given issue are likely to be released days, weeks or months in advance of publication, as a preview.

That said, this is still a dandy image, and the one aspect of it that I do see as a Good Sign is that Cassie's costume does not contain a camel-toe crotch seam. If I were looking for one trend to ban from 21st-century comics, that would be a strong contender.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On the Streets of Blogopolis

Progressive Ruin: I need to amend the store's dress code. He's got a hot redhead in his comic book shop, and he's complaining because she's dressed as Ginny Weasley. Can't he just be thankful she's there at all?

postmodernbarney: And Then There Was That Time Betty Got Kidnapped By Hillbillies. Or, Deliverance II starring Archie.

Occasional Superheroine: Schoolgirl Witchblade. Reserve a place on your knocker knick-knack shelf now, right beside your McFarlane Twisted X-mas Mrs Claus.

Batfatty: presenting Roberta the Girl Wonder. I really want to see the rest of this story. In fact, I'd like to see all of the stories from this era that featured one-shot female knock-offs of the male hero. I've seen the Aquaman, Green Arrow and Superboy stories. The original Batwoman was arguably one of the lot, except that she sort-of caught on. (The first Bat-Girl stole Roberta's color scheme.) So would have been the Super-Girl that Jimmy Olsen wished into existence. I suppose any of the several occasions when Lois Lane became "Super-Woman" might also qualify. I'd include the "Super-Sister" story, in which young Clark Kent became a girl. Are there enough of these for a trade collection? What would you call it?

Living Between Wednesdays: Snuggles in Disguise. Awwww.

Stephen DiStefano: The difference between Brutus and Bluto

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What, again?

Image Hosted by

I know, I know.

Thank goodness for Sleestak.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Around Blogopolis

A dated but still interesting biography of William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman. And an overview of the character from the Comic Book Periodic Table.

In a sweeping example of what passes for feminism in comics, the Big Three Superteams of DC Comics (Justice League, Justice Society, and Legion) are all being led by women. Even though nothing in any of these characters' backstories has indicated that they actually qualify for the position. Black Canary, in particular, just left the Birds of Prey with the stated purpose of spending more time mothering her newly adopted daughter Sin, and now here she is allegedly bossing Batman around. At least over in the Marvel universe, where Janet van Dyne leads the Mighty Avengers, it doesn't seem quite so much like they pulled her name out of a hat.

Over in Lady, That's My Skull, Sleestak offers what should be the final word on the Showcase Presents Batgirl cover controversy.

According to Occasional Superheroine, DC is facing a Countdown to Change that may mean the end of the Didio era. At Journalista, Dirk Deppey writes an overall favorable mention of the post that ignites a feminist firestorm with one ill-conceived, largely misunderstood joke.

(Look: I find Occasional Superheroine to be a thoughtful, sometimes moving blog, well worth the read from the first post in the archive. But at the same time, in this particular post she does repeatedly use the word "c**k-up", complete with self-aware, self-censoring asterisks. It might be insulting to suggest even jokingly, as Deppey does, that she suffers from "fear of c**k". But what if he meant fear of the word? Isn't that what censoring it implies?)

(See also Pretty Fizzy Paradise and the Comics Reporter.)

Just to lighten the mood a little, Devon at Seven Hells presents Subtext Follies featuring Wonder Woman.

What Were They Thinking asks, what kind of student sends a photo like this to their old teacher?

And Jimmy Olsen's Blues presents a review of the recent death of Bart Allen and return of Wally West, by... Bart Allen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Men are from Krypton, Women are from Themiscyra

Pretty Fizzy Paradise: I get asked sometimes why I care so much about something as "minor" as feminist issues in comics. Why does it matter? Why don't you find something else? It's designed for guys! ... I've realized, and this is not intended to be an insult, that most men have no idea what it's like to be a woman.

(Read that first.)

Comparing Linda Park to Lois Lane isn't quite apples vs apples. Ms Park is a television reporter, and there may be no environment on the planet where What You Look Like is perceived to matter more than on television. Ms Lane is a newspaper reporter: I won't pretend appearance is irrelevant, but what really matters is who you know and what you know.

Hm. If anyone at DC is listening, I'd love to see a Linda Park / Lana Lang encounter. I'd think they'd have a lot to talk about. I'm guessing "beauty tips" wouldn't be very high on the list. But that's really a tangental issue.

I could argue that if women want men to "get over" caring what women look like, that this expectation is unrealistic. It's hardcoded in us. But it certainly is realistic to expect us to keep our damn' mouths shut about things that are none of our business. Under most circumstances, things that are none of our business include how much makeup is enough, whether we think your boobs hang straight, how much you weigh, or whether the rug matches the curtains.

Women are human beings, and that should be reflected in the way they are spoken to, spoken of, and depicted. That doesn't seem too much to ask.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Under the Green Sun

By the era of the stories collected in Showcase Presents Superman #3, the new approach was beginning to become a rut of its own. Superman went from being the sole survivor of Krypton to being the custodian of a lilliputian city full of them, plus he had a teenaged cousin to keep an eye on. Every story explored the mythology: the easy availability of kryptonite of various colors, the ongoing threat to his secret identity and/or bachelor status posed by the workday presence of Lois Lane and Lana Lang, the revolving-door escapees from the newly-discovered Phantom Zone. It was getting harder and harder to present the Man of Steel with any real threat.

Which is why it fascinates me that, in the midst of all this, came this gem from Bill Finger and Wayne Boring. Finger was better known (when known at all, in these days before story credits) as a strong contributor to the Batman legacy, while Boring is the artist (following Schuster himself, and preceding Curt Swan) who defined for a generation of readers what Superman is supposed to look like.

This story owes more to the pulp magazines that inspired early comics than to the comics that immediately preceded it. John Carter wouldn't have been out of place in this story. Superman just happens to be cruising through interstellar space (because he can, I guess) when he happens upon a monster threatening a group of people (the human form being the default form of intelligent life) who don't notice it's there because they're blind.

If I attempt to summarize what happens in this sixteen-page story, it'll look like I'm trying to make fun of it, and I'm not. Despite -- or, perhaps, because of -- the absence of Lois, Jimmy, kryptonite, or any familiar element of the mythos, Finger and Boring prove that they still know what makes Superman tick. This may be my favorite Superman story ever.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I haven't been around lately

The better part of ten days of my life were consumed preparing for, en route to and from, or attending the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial celebration in Kansas City. (No, smart@$$, he wasn't there.) This process was made more awkward by being under doctor's orders not to lift anything heavier than ten pounds, due to having recently undergone the implantation of an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator.

Oh, fine, thanks. I plan to talk more about this on my LiveJournal page; I just thought you should know.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Backwards and in high heels

To his credit, the first thing [name recused to prevent spoilers, even though after the announcements of the past week it's not much of a secret any more] does when he appears in the new Justice League of America #10 is make sure that these three are all right. That rings true, touchingly so.

But after that moment, nobody speaks to or of them at all. The redheads are never even named. * (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy continuity porn as much as the next geek, but damn if I don't miss all that Weisinger-era exposition. These days the readers are left to put the pieces together as best they can, and if the creators don't think it's working, they say "Well, we never actually said that's who they are" and rewrite history again.)

I mean, if they are who they appear to be (and [name recused's] comments make it clear that they are), they've experienced everything [name recused] has in the last year, and should be just as disoriented and in need of hugs-all-around as he appears to be, ** not squeezed into the corner of the panel smiling beatifically. *** (Did they swap sainthood tips with Barry or Gwen while they were gone?)

"Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels."

* Which brings up another question. Howcome Bart had to borrow a suit to come back (leaving Saint Bartholomew the Elder streaking through the Speed Force, I presume) but Linda and the MacGuffin Twins got to hang with the same mid-thirtieth century future-pasterrific tailors the *ahem* real Legion use?

** I'm in for the next chapter, but if [name recused] does the "I think I was in heaven" Buffy-thing he looks to be heading toward, I'm going to be awfully disappointed.

*** I hate it when supporting characters know they're only supporting characters in someone else's life. Don't buy a refrigerator, Linda! It'll only lead to tragedy!

LATER: Okay, I surrender. I am apparently unable to make one particular point understood. I'm just sayin', if I get a choice between these twins...

...and those twins...

...well, I know which ones I'd want to hit with the ol' Omega Effect, you know? I mean, I like Iris' take on the Kid Flash uniform, but everything else in the Kingdom universe can go.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

That sound you hear is...

  1. Earth-616's Cosmic Reset Button being pressed.
  2. 50,000 Marvel readers saying "WTF" simultaneously.
  3. The Internet splitting in half. Again.
The picture above is from New Avengers #31, and is the dead body of the entity who, up until this moment, was believed to be Elektra. What does it mean, the characters ask, and the most likely answer is that anyone who has acted in an inconsistent, out-of-character way at any time since the beginning of the current heroic age could be a Skrull.

I've lost count of the number of times Everything We Know has been revealed to be Wrong lately. When you do that too often, and you never establish what Everything Really Is before you move on to the next revelation, you arrive at Nothing Really Matters. You run the very real risk of retconning away everything the readers liked about the characters.

I have visions of a super-team -- let's call 'em Avengers, there are so many groups of Avengers running around that the odds favor it -- discovering that nobody in the room is who they appear to be. Wong is the Chameleon, Dr Strange is Loki, Luke Cage is Brother Voodoo, Spider-Man is actually the Space Phantom, Clint Barton is another Skrull (but had forgotten that he was a Skrull), Iron Fist is really Daredevil, Spider-Woman is the Other, Echo is Mystique, the Ninjas are all Jamie Madrox, and Wolverine is actually Willie Lumpkin gone postal.

If there's anybody left that I've forgotten to account for, they're probably one of Shield's Life Model Decoys.

This week's Big Question

In light of Sleez having once forced Superman and Barda to perform in a pornographic film, what exactly is Jimmy talking about here?

And am I wrong to wonder?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Avengers vs Avengers

Strangely, in both Mighty Avengers and Marvel Adventures Avengers, one member of the team has been turned against the rest. Well, I suppose it isn't all that strange, since it's one of the time-tested tropes of the Marvel universe. Nor, with all the shape-shifters wandering around, is it all that unusual to discover that everything is not what it seems. Everything old, as they say, is new again.

But I'll bet that the average reader who hasn't been following the Avengers (difficult as that is, since there are three, or is it four, different groups traveling under that name) would never guess that the person on the cover of Mighty Avengers #2 is actually Tony Stark.

There's something that hasn't been done before.

Well, it's actually the latest iteration of Ultron, an artificial intelligence created by Hank Pym, which has taken over the body and armor of Iron Man and, through unknown / buzzword means, has transformed the organic and electronic source material into a shape of its choosing -- and since it "loves" Hank, the shape it has chosen is that of a stark (so to speak) naked Janet van Dyne. I wonder what its reaction will be when it discovers that, literally at this very same moment, Hank is in bed with Tigra the Were-Woman.

Whatever "at this same moment" means in an arc that has stretched across three issues so far with no real time having passed and no sign of a conclusion on the horizon.

But then, I guess the point of the book is to provide an excuse for Frank Cho to do what he does best: Draw women as close to naked as the market will allow. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

(Kind of makes you wonder why he's not drawing Marvel's version of "Birds of Prey", Heroes for Hire, doesn't it?)

At least, in Marvel Adventures Avengers 13, I know what's going on. In this all-ages continuity, Janet is Giant-Girl, whose costume Hank designed to make it possible to communicate with ants. (She can shrink to ant-size as well, she just doesn't, because she doesn't see any point in being ant-sized.) This facility also makes it possible for the insectoid PsyClops to exploit a flaw in the suit's operating system and take mental control of her.

Hence, the Attack of the 50-Foot Superhero scene on the cover, which actually does occur in the book.

I have to say that, in my advancing age, what I want in a comic book is (a) a story, that has (b) a beginning, (c) a middle, and (d) an end. The mainstream Marvel universe (see above) is an infinite middle. The "Marvel Adventures" universe consists of mostly self-contained stories. I like that.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I think Earth-Miller and Earth-Haney must be the same place. Possibly Earth-Kanigher too.

This book is so confusing, I don't even know: Is it still the same night the Flying Graysons were killed? What happened to Vicki Vale and her underwear? Was that really Black Canary, or just a waitress dressed as her?

Will All-Star Batman meet the all-new Batwoman?

"I love being the goddamned Batman"? I'm so glad Mom and Dad were killed, now I get to spend their money on all these wonderful toys. Now if only my looney brother would show up, my life would be complete. No, wait, maybe I am the looney brother!

This is like a Batman book written by Bat-Mite.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Many Moods of Heroes for Hire

Well, having come late to the Mary Jane wears pearls to do the laundry party, I may as well sound off on the other thing that's got everyone's attention. The comic itself won't be on sale until August 27, so I guess it's early yet.

Of course, I'm in real trouble here, because I don't know what the context of this image is. In fact, I'm not sure I can name everyone on it. There appears to be an extra breast and arm at extreme right. Maybe somebody just figured that if six breasts are good, seven is better.

Now, not having recently fallen off the comic-book delivery truck, I have seen the occasional "tentacle rape" scene. I suspect everyone reading these words knows what that phrase means. In fact, apparently, there is only one person in the English-speaking comics-reading world who does not know what it means. And as incredible as it may seem, that person is Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief of one of the largest English-language comics publishers in the world, and the man ultimately responsible for the solicitation (and, presumably, upcoming publication) of the image in question. Of this image, and the attention it has drawn, and most especially the attention it has drawn from female comics readers, Joe said:
First, I think people are reading way too much into that cover than was ever intended. I heard terms such as “tentacle rape” being thrown around when that in no way is what’s happening, nor does it happen in the book. Those tentacles are the arms of the Brood who appears in the issue and is a major story point, the Brood have tentacles, sorry about that.
True, but in the twenty-five years of the characters' presence in the Marvel Universe, every previous depiction has concentrated on their insect-like nature. Previously their tentacles were used as strangling weapons, not mammary palpators. One must also remember that what the Brood want humans for is reproduction (a process fatal to the human egg host), so "rape" is not an inappropriate word for the process.
Secondly, the concept for that cover, soup to nuts came from a female artist.
Whom you've just thrown under the bus, in the process of hiding behind her. What exactly do you do at Marvel, if cover approval isn't it?
Also, HFH is a book that features two strong, lead female protagonist who kick major ass; somehow folks have forgotten to focus on that.
Does anyone on this cover look like they've ever kicked anybody's ass? No. They look like fruit waiting to be plucked from the tree. Out here in the real world (or as real as it gets when middle-aged men read comic books), we call that out of character.

On the left is Sana Takeda's original art. On the right is a "remix" done by Lea Hernandez (a thoughtful and talented creator in her own right) for her own blog, Dangerous Beauty. At this scale, the alterations are trivial, but they support three basic changes:
  1. Misty Knight is supposed to be a black woman.
  2. Costumes now match how they're drawn inside the book.
  3. Misty, Colleen and Felicia are now directly looking at the threat they face.
The situation still isn't appealing, but it's the difference between a PG and R rating, and Heroes for Hire is supposed to be PG (or, as Marvel calls it, T+).

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It was too many years ago today





Friday, May 25, 2007

Meme + Meme = Meme²

Let's see, what would do justice to Schaffenberger's image of Superboy's butt?

I know. Chaykin's Galactic Space Vagina!

I don't know, something is still missing. What do you think, Batman?

Never mind. ("Alfred? Better head down to the cave and intervene. Bruce is getting sweaty again. I mean, in a bad way. What? Who am I? ...A friend.")

(Thanks to Dorian, Devon and Brandon.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Holy Moley, Mary, what are you wearing?

2007 is clearly, among other things, the year of Mary Marvel. Old farts like me, though, are wondering if this is a good thing.

Ah, for the good old days of ten cent comics. The Mary Marvel I know would never willingly swing over to the dark side...

Boy. If you thought Wonder Woman had a history of bondage, you should check out the Marvel Family.

Well, she would definitely never wear a skirt short enough to display her firm young gluteus maximus...

And she would always leave the rough stuff to the boys...

She would... She... Huh.

Black vinyl, eh?

(All panels from Marvel Family Adventures #89, art by Kurt Shaffenberger.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Face it, tiger, you're doing your own laundry."

The pendulum set in motion by the infamous Mary Jane maquette is swinging back towards thoughtful, intelligent commentary. Imagine that.

"To argue that cheesecake imagery is harmful to women is to argue that male desire itself is harmful to women."
--Dirk Deppey, Journalista

"Male desire is not inherently harmful, the male gaze is not inherently pernicious, and to think otherwise is to set yourself up for a lot of frustration and misunderstanding."
--Laura Hudson, Myriad Issues

Fanboys pay $125 a pop for this thing, buying out the production run months before it actually ships, and women feel exploited. I don't get it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"Cold water wash, right?"

Well, since every red-blooded blogger has had something to say about this (available soon at a comic shop near you, except that they've apparently already sold out their production run, so if you haven't already pre-ordered it, it may be too late), I will too. Here's what I have to say:

If anyone is looking for an overly-expensive birthday present for me, this is it. And no, the Justice League Unlimited Locker Room figures are not an acceptable substitute.

Thank you.

LATER: Note to Sideshow Collectibles: Consider a 6" version. This dang thing is 14" tall! That's huge! Even Barbie is only 12" tall, and that's standing up straight.

I wonder if it's worth pointing out that most artists suck at faces. Most characters, in most books, the only reason we know who they are is by the costumes they wear or the props they carry. There are exceptions, of course, and this MJ statue is so clearly MJ that she doesn't have to be holding a Spider-Man costume for us to know who she is. Part of that is attitude (the pose that has attracted so much criticism is classic hey-look-at-me MJ), but part of it is that the face is right.

Has anyone even looked at the face?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"Join me in a little disintegration?"

Originally uploaded by dtaylor404.
When Bob Haney creates characters, man, they stay created. Until, that is, their whole premise for existence is turned inside-out by the next writer on the book, in this case Dennis O'Neil.

But that's what it takes to undo what Haney does.

Dorian at PostModernBarney has the details.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Realistic superheroes is an oxymoron

Let me approach the fracas du jour from another direction:

This is the cover of the comic that introduced Steel (later Commander Steel, now Citizen Steel, not to be confused with John Henry Irons) to the DCU. Can anyone explain to me how this costume could possibly be drawn, or the character posed, such that it does not draw attention straight to Steel's crotch?

That said...

...what's the difference? Why does it matter now, when it never has before?

In that light, it seems perfectly reasonable that if you're going to make people look there, you might as well put something there worth the trouble.

I've been saying that comics are over-rendered for years now, ever since Neal Adams gave Batman chest hair. This is what it took to get any kind of agreement from the comics community?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hey, I like Kirby 'n' all...

I realize that now that Jack is safely dead, the major comics publishers have come to a new appreciation of his work and influence, but Devil Dinosaur Omnibus?

Friday, April 13, 2007

And a thousand fanboys and fangirls cry, "Yes!"

Hints dropped left and right by Gail Simone and DC editorial were confirmed yesterday: Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, The All-New Atom) will be the regular, ongoing writer of Wonder Woman starting right after the "Amazons Attack" event, with issue #13.

The title has been floundering lately, with a high-profile, chronically late writer (something about that TV show he's also writing for, Grey's Anatomy) and a coming new high-profile writer who, it was announced going in, will only be staying for six issues.

The thing about having a character do something really dramatic (like, say, killing a long-time supporting character, as Wonder Woman did to Maxwell Lord) is that the editors have to have some kind of plan for where the character goes next. I don't think they had one.

So, if Simone is writing it, who's drawing it? She's said "a dream art team," and she's said "if the readers all made a list of who the best possible Wonder Woman art team would be, I bet this would be the number one choice. It’s that good."

I'm thinking one of two things must have happened: Either Didio looked around and thought, "Why am I asking Adam Hughes to draw an All Star Wonder Woman title when the real Wonder Woman title is in so much trouble"; or else he remembered that it wasn't the artists who made the first five issues of the restart late, and realized that he can't do any better than Terry and Rachel Dodson. I'll take either option, but I'm hoping for the Dodsons.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Heroic Dynasties and Legacies

Given: The DCU is too white-male-centric.
Given: There are only so many good names/costumes/raisons d'etre.
Obvious Solution: Any property from second-tier on down is subject to being killed off and rebooted as a non-white/woman/both.

Okay, I get that. I like that blacks and women can be superheroes without being "Black This-or-That" or "She-Something".

Corollary Solution: Any property -- any property -- is subject to acquiring a partner/kid sidekick.

I even get that. I have to admit I wondered what kind of powder is in the sugar bowls in the DC breakroom when I saw Miss Martian, but dang it, she grows on me. (If only her breasts didn't grow and shrink from page to page, but then she IS a shape-changer.)

Here's what I don't get.

Did nobody at DC actually read Kingdom Come before they decided to make it happen? It was a dystopia. It was a nightmare. I always interpreted it as a commentary on Marvel Earth as well, since Stan Lee really wrote (heh) the book on leaving the villains out of the story completely and having alleged heroes whomp on each other for whole issues at a time. (Maybe Civil War was inevitable, at that.)

Specifically, it was hell on earth for non-metas, who appear to be drifting out of comics, even as supporting characters.

Things that made Scipio happy

Over on The Absorbascon, Scipio has been keeping a running list of "Things that made me happy" in the week's comics. Taken as a group, they are proof that the rumors are true, and the DC comics universe is getting brighter. Even Bruce Wayne, the poster child for abandonment issues, is learning (in Superman/Batman #33) that it's OK not to be an a**hole all the time.