Monday, January 30, 2006

Who Says the 90's Sucked?

Because they obviously haven't read Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. Yeah, I know. Everybody raves about Grant Morrison and the stuff he's done. I'll admit that I've always been in the "hit or miss" camp when it comes to Morrison. But this Doom Patrol stuff? Gold, baby. Gold.

Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol is like focused, concentrated insanity on paper. Every page reverberates with ridiculousness. The Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E.! Red Jack! The Painting That Ate Paris! Flex Mentallo! The Beard Hunter! All these and more are found within the pages of Doom Patrol. It's crazy and it's insane.

But it's not good just because it's a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy). It's good because -- like all good stories -- its core is the characters. And these misfits of the Doom Patrol are really broken people. They've got psychoses and physical disabilities galore. Doom Patrol is about the people who don't fit in. The ones the others cross the street to avoid. And that speaks to me. I think it speaks to all of us at some point in our lives. I think that at some point in our lives we're all a part of the Doom Patrol.

Plus, it's just so much damn fun.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm Sorry

I really am. I know that the meme is getting old. But I saw a few conspicuous absences and I just had to remedy at least one. So, always remember:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

One Year Earlier, Part 3

Well, here were are again. I'm looking at 52 and you're reading what I have to say. Onward!

12. Girls Gone Wild: Down-on-her-luck Montoya will see her bed become a revolving door of lovers -- one of whom will make her mark on the DCU before all is said and done.

This is sad, really. Detective Montoya had a really good stable relationship going for awhile there. Self-destructive behavior doesn't suit her. As for the one who will make a mark on the DCU... I imagine we won't see her until we're in the thick of 52.

13. Man Becomes Superman: A DC hero known for getting the job done without metahuman powers will get their abilities augmented in a major way.

The easy route here would be to say Kyle Rayner -- if you don't count the ring as a metahuman power. We already know that he'll be internalizing some sort of power as Ion (is the Rann/Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special here yet?). But I doubth they're referring to Kyle here. I think that it's someone else entirely.

Despite the "Man Becomes Superman" title, take note of the grammar below it. The article says "their" which is grammatically wrong, but useful for hiding the subject's gender. My guess for the one to be augmented with meta-human powers? Kate Spencer, Manhunter. It's recently been revealed that her grandfather was none other than Al Pratt, the Golden Age Atom. With a lineage like that, how can she not be superpowered?

14. Dynamic Duo: M. I. A.: Batman and Robin won't set foot in Gotham for the entire year. What's keeping them away?

That is the Question, isn't it? Seriously, though -- my guess is that they've got other things to worry about. Something outside of Gotham that requires their undivided attention. It could have something to do with Bludhaven, or it could be something far more sinister. And here's my completely random prediction for said sinister thing: Ra's al Ghul.

I mean, it's about time he came back, isn't it? I know that Death and the Maidens was proffered as "the last Ra's al Ghul story" and that Dan DiDio has said that there will be "no more resurrections." But really, Ra's al Ghul is an expert at not staying dead. And the "Titans Tomorrow" arc in Teen Titans -- an excellent source for hints on the possible future -- indicates that he could be returning to life. Bet on it.

15. The Ultimate Insult: A beloved DCU character no longer among the living will have their grave defaced in a shocking act.

I really hope it's Donna Troy. Please let her die again. But wishful thinking aside, the safe money is on Ted Kord's grave. I assume that by the time we get in the swing of 52 the world will finally be celebrating Ted Kord for the hero he was and he'll actually have a grave. But someone won't like it...

16. Encore: Writer Geoff Johns looks to follow up his work on Infinite Crisis by telling an even bigger story, if you can believe that.

Oh, I certainly can believe it. 52 is going to be huge. I'm more excited for it that I was for Infinite Crisis.

17. The Question: Getting Answers: If you loved him on "Justice League Unlimited," get ready for the Question to return to the DCU in a major way, becoming a lynchpin of 52 and setting himself up as Gotham's new protector.

Hell yes. Hell yes. I've been waiting for this for a long time. The Question needs to be back in the spotlight. And considering the mention of "JLU," they'll be moving him closer to his animated counterpart in style. That's a very good thing. I can't wait for the Question to be in the thick of things in Gotham. Am I the only one who wants to see the Question versus the Joker? Sweeet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We Are Incredibly Silly

Comic fans, I mean. Just think about it. We're as silly as you can get. Take the following phrase:

"Somebody's trying to steal the Shaggy Man!"

How would a normal person react to that? Curiosity? Bemusment? Confusion? Probably a combination of the three. But me? When I hear the phrase

"Somebody's trying to steal the Shaggy Man!"

I immediately think "Holy crap!"

"Somebody's trying to steal the Shaggy Man!"

To my comic addled brain the phrase

"Somebody's trying to steal the Shaggy Man!"

carries a little more weight than it does for normal people.

Thank God I'm not a normal person.

Monday, January 23, 2006

DC's Asian Conspiracy

I can't be the only one who's noticed it. The slow but steady removal from play of DC's Asian characters. It started with when Evil Doctor Light stripped Good Doctor Light of her powers. And it's accelerated since.

Could it be a twisted conspiracy on the part of DC? A return to the Golden Age when Superman and Batman urged us to do battle with evil "japanazis"? Unlikely. It's probably just a sad coincidence. But I still find it troubling. Note the following:

1. In Green Arrow Japanese scientist Kimiyo "Doctor Light" Hoshi is stripped of her powers and brutalized by Arthur "Demented Sicko" Light.

2. In Infinite Crisis Korean-American Linda Park West disappears into the ether with her husband and children.

3. In Infinite Crisis Japanese Titan Bushido is sliced in half by Superboy-Prime's heat vision.

4. In Batgirl Cassandra Cain (probably the most high profile Asian character DC's ever had) is skewered through the chest -- and apparently dies.

That's four. If I were Katana or Grace, I'd be looking over my shoulder right now.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Raven is Really Hot

Why exactly have I never noticed this before? I was rereading Teen Titans #30 and suddenly I was struck, as if by divine revelation. "Huh," I thought. "Raven is kind of hot." I continued to read, and my astonishment grew. "What a minute... Raven is really hot."

In much the same way that Kalinara suddenly discovered that Dick Grayson was hot, I have also discovered that Raven is hot. And I can't explain it. Maybe it's the way Tony Daniel draws her. Maybe it's some sort of dysfunction in my brain chemistry. I've always sort of ignored Raven in the past. It wasn't something intentional -- she just sort of slipped under my radar. It wasn't until this very night that I came to notice her.

Can anyone else explain this sudden fascination? Why I suddenly find Raven so damn hot? Because I sure have no idea myself. It's not like this is my first exposure to the character. Hell, this isn't even the first time I've read this particular issue. But it's the first time that I've noticed how incredibly hot Raven is. I just don't get it...

Friday, January 20, 2006

I Am Not Alone

I never thought about, you see. Not until I read Scipio's latest post did I realize how few characters there are in comics like me.

I am, of course, talking about left-handers.

Yes, I am a member of that maligned group of people who write, eat, and possibly golf with their left hands. But until today I never realized how underrepresented we are. But I felt no rage. Thanks to Scipio the one left-hander I have been made aware of is all we really need:

Yeah, that's right. Alan freaking Scott is left-handed.

How is it that I never noticed this before? How is it that I never noticed the dearth of southpaws in the DC Universe?

Not that it matters now. We have our standard bearer. Alan Scott: JSA Founder, Hero of the Golden Age, and Left-Hander.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Tragedy of Superboy-Prime

Infinite Crisis #4 has come and gone, and we're left with as many questions as answers. But issue number four gave us something very special: one of the most brutal fights I have ever seen in comics. Superboy-Prime versus the Titans, the Doom Patrol and the JSA. It was violent -- and more than a few characters ended up dead or missing. Long lost heroes returned in a desperate effort to even the scales against a mad, nigh unstoppable Kryptonian.

And yet, I found myself feeling somewhat sorry for that "mad Kryptonian." Here is a boy who grew up on a world like our own. Superman was a comic book character -- and he was just the kid people made fun of for having the name "Clark Kent." Then one day he manifested all the powers of Superman. Clark Kent became the Superboy of Earth-Prime. His world changed in that moment, and the possibilities before him seemed endless.

Then the Anti-Monitor came.

The arrival of the Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed Earth-Prime. Everything Superboy-Prime had known was lost. He was thrust into a war against enemies he couldn't comprehend with powers he barely understood. Despite it all he proved himself a hero and went on to what seemed like a heaven.

But it turned out to be anything but. He was forced to watch the world seemingly go bad after he had sacrificed everything for it. In his eyes, the people of the Earth were squandering what he would have given anything for. Superboy-Prime was like a kid, angry at the world for his lot in life. How simple it would be for a genius like Alex Luthor to manipulate him.

Not that it took much. Superboy-Prime wanted everything that the others had. He believed -- rightly or wrongly -- that he could do better. That he was the true Superboy.

But in the end his powers were too much for him. Superboy-Prime was little more than a child endowed with the abilities of a god. To me, this certainly legitimizes the Post-Crisis removal of Clark Kent as Superboy from continuity. The powers are too much for someone without proper guidance. Without time to grow into their role.

This is seen very clearly in Infinite Crisis #4's battle royale. Superboy-Prime kills. He stares down at his bloody hands in horror as tears fill his eyes. He never wanted to be a monster. It was circumstances beyond his control -- and the influence of Alex Luthor -- that made him one. All Superboy-Prime wanted was to be a hero. All he wanted was to be Superman.

But he could never be Superman. Despite how I may feel for him, in the end he brought it upon himself. Despite his lot in life, he chose to stand with Alex Luthor. He chose to take part in mass murder and genocide. His desire to be a hero wasn't altruistic. It was for his own sake. And that is the antithesis of Superman. Above all else, Superman fights his fight for the sake of others. No matter what the cost, no matter what the sacrifice to himself, Superman will always fight for others.

One Year Earlier, Part 2

Wow, Infinite Crisis #4 sure was one hell of a ride, wasn't it? I don't think my mouth has literally dropped open so many times in one sitting. The path toward 52 continues unabated, so here are with more of my predictions and thoughts regarding that momentous undertaking.

6. Cast of Millions: Forget just the Big Three, the Justice League, or even everybody who appeared in Infinite Crisis -- this series will indeed star the entire DCU.

Not much that can be said about that -- other than that it's a very good thing. With the coming of this most recent Crisis, DC has finally started using their enormous stable of characters to good effect. I hope they keep it up.

7. Back in the Saddle: Keith Giffen returns to DC in a big way to co-plot and do layouts for 52, bringing his grand sense of scope and knack for humor to the table.

Take that everybody who said that DC was out to get Keith Giffen!

8. Weird Science: A shadowy figure is abducting big brains like T. O. Morrow, Will Magnus, and Dr. Sivana with an eye toward altering the world of technology.

Now here's something I can sink my teeth into. Interesting that T. O. Morrow and Will Magnus are the first two mentioned. Both of them are best known for their incredible genius when it comes to robotics and androids. And I'm sure Sivana's no slouch in that department either. I imagine "altering the world of technology" means "building giant scary robots." What fun.

As for the shadowy figure... That's a little trickier. We're given no real hints and nothing to go on. Whoever it is, they've got strength or power in some manner if they can take out genius scientists. My only safe bet is that it's not Luthor. He's up to other things...

9. Renee Montoya: DC's Drunk Detective: Introduced in the 1990's "Batman: The Animated Series," then making the jump to comics as the lead of Gotham Central, Renee Montoya has sunk to her lowest point as an alcoholic detective and must find her way back to respectibility.

I find this very depressing. I've always liked Renee (and "Batman: The Animated Series" is really what got me into comics). Though she hits bottom, I hope that 52 really does chronicle her climb out of that pit of despair. But then, she's really Rucka's baby. He basically created the DCU version (if I'm not mistaken). And he really can write good women. So I'm not too worried.

10. For Freedom!: From the ashes of the original team's gory demise in Infinite Crisis, a new team of Freedom Fighters emerges to take up the fight.

This is exciting. It's hard to say who will be on the team, but Uncle Sam, Damage, and the Ray are good bets. I wouldn't be surprised if we got a new Phantom Lady as well. I imagine that the Freedom Fighters will be tied more closely to the government as a way of distinguising them from other superteams. Because the essence of multiple teams is making certain that they're each distinct.

11. Drawing Blood: Joe Bennett, who showed that he could draw the nastiest fight scenes around during his time on Hawkman, will now have the entire DCU at his disposal as one of the main artists of 52.

Probably the main artist. Man, this guy can draw. His Hawkman stuff was awe inspiring, and he's certainly prolific. You don't see many pencillers who can keep up on two montly books at the same time. But Joe Bennett managed it -- with no loss of quality. I can't wait to see his Question...

That's it for this round. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Women in Comics

Yes indeed. The topic of this post might be what you think it is. But then again, it might not. I was more than a little fearful of delving into anything that related to this topic in any way. But someone told me to do it and I have to do what she tells me. So.

Lots of talk about the portrayal of women in comics recently (full disclosure: I am not a woman). Probably the most straightforward thing I can say about women in comics is that I freakin' love them. Of course, I love some more than others, and that's what I'm going to talk about here. The women in the DCU that I love and why I love them. Below are my two favorite characters in the entire DCU.

Supergirl: Stop. Before you read any further you must know that I am not referring to the most recent Loeb creation. I am also not referring to the Pre-Crisis Supergirl. I am of course referring to Linda Danvers, the black sheep of the "Supergirl Family."

Why do I like Linda? Sometimes I don't even know. She's perfect in a lot of ways, but in a lot of other ways she's not. There are a lot of women in comics that seem so damn perfect. Powers, looks, the whole lot. Handed to them on a silver platter (some of you know who I'm referencing here). Linda ended up with her powers after she tried to kill herself. She wasn't a good person, but she took the powers that she'd been given and worked to make herself into a good person. And watching someone build themself up from the bottom is inspiring.

That's really a big part of it, I think. Linda seems so much more like a real girl than most of DC's heroines. Wonder Woman is fantastic and all, but she's got this regalness that's kind of scary. And I know Donna Troy is supposed to be this nurturing figure and all, but she seems so cold to me. I wouldn't want to be around her.

But Linda Danvers -- despite her superpowers -- seems real. She bungles things and cracks silly jokes. She smiles, laughs, and sometimes makes a fool out of herself. And that's real. Because I do those sorts of things all the time. Everyone does. For some reason, that makes me love her. I really can't say why.

Batgirl: Yes, yes. We all loves Barbara Gordon. But that's not who I'm talking about here. As before, my deep and abiding love is for the lesser liked of the various iterations of Batgirl. Cassandra Cain is another character that I absolutely love. She's tiny and cute and could drop me like a bad habit before I even blinked. And how can you not love a girl who can kick your ass?

Cassandra Cain is like Linda Danvers in a lot of ways. She's got these abilities that she didn't ask for. Her father is a monster and her life is a tragedy. But she takes all that -- all the pain and anguish -- and turns it around and fights on the side of right.

Cassandra's a lot stronger than she lets on, too -- and I don't mean physically. It's shocking that she possess such a strong moral compass -- especially when you consider her shattered upbringing. But she seems to have an innate sense of right and wrong. I think that was what caught Batman's eye when he recruited her. And it's one of the things that caught my eye, too. She doesn't fight because she likes to. She fights because she feels she has to. Because it's the right thing to do.

Yeah, I know. My long meandering post hasn't made very clear the reasons why I love these characters. Maybe it's because I was made to right post. Or maybe it's because it's just not easy to explain. It's like someone wise once said: "Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and has characteristics that are a part of what it is." I love Linda because she's Linda. And I love Cassandra for the same reason. Nobody ever said love was rational.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

One Year Earlier, Part 1

DC's One Year Later stunt is a masterstroke. By jumping forward in time a year, DC can introduce new creative teams, get fresh starts, and give characters vacations (without interrupting series or resorting to Azrael-like replacements). But I think that the biggest and most important thing to come out of One Year Later is the year that comes before. Even with all the new books and Crisis implications, 52 is going to be the biggest event of 2006.

I'm not going to talk about the potential for lateness or the unbelievable talent attached. What I am going to delve into is Wizard's 52 article (which is filled with tidbits galore) to speculate a bit on what all the teases might mean. So... Fifty-two reasons to read; fifty-two nagging questions.

1. Luthor's JLA: With the JLA disbanded, the bald baddie forms his own Justice League, comprised of entirely new characters plus one familiar face.

Well, point number one already leaves us full of tantalizing questions. Admittedly, things like this are hard to speculate on. But my guess is that Luthor somehow manages to return himself to a modicum of respectability. And he's smart enough to have learned that calling yourself the "Injustice Gang" isn't exactly a good way to win cred with the public. If nobody else is using the initials JLA, why can't Luthor?

As for the familiar face, my guess is that it's Booster Gold. He's one of the six players of 52 and -- as we'll get to later -- he's sold himself out to corporate interests. And nobody says "corporate" like Lex Luthor...

2. Wholesale Destruction: An entire country within the DC Universe will be leveled by a known power player, killing every man, woman, and child within.

For me, this is an easy one. Black Adam is one of the six players and the only guy in the DCU with his own country. Good-bye Kandhaq.

The question of the culprit isn't all that difficult, either. The quiz from awhile back gave us the clue: I'll stake my reputation that Brainiac is the afore mentioned "power player."

3. Batwoman Begins: A new female crimefighter takes to the streets of Gotham, but who's behind the mask? Here's a hint: it's not who you think.

Ouch, this one stings. As a huge fan of the Cassandra Cain Batgirl, her apparent removal from the stage is pretty painful. That being said, I don't think this Batwoman is anyone. So it certainly can't be who I don't think it is.

But how's this for an out of left field idea: Batwoman is Wonder Woman. Bear with me for a moment. I'm guessing we'll only see this Batwoman for the duration of 52 (despite rumors of an ongoing). It's also rumored (from a more reputable source) that Diana will lose her powers. But that doesn't mean she loses her fighting skills. This is about as unlikely as anything I'll say here, but it's certainly something to think about...

4. Steel: The Conscience of the DCU: John Henry Irons steps back into the Steel armor and steps up his game to cover for the absence of several heroes following Infinite Crisis, ruffling some feathers with his philosophy that true heroes do their job without accolades.

I'm glad to see that Steel is returning to the forefront. He's been out of sight in the DCU for far too long. As for his philosophy, there's only one person that that would piss off: Booster Gold. Clearly there needs to be some conflict among the six players. And how can there not be conflict between a hero who needs no accolades and one that loves the spotlight?

5. Star Wars: A new villain will be introduced in the outer reaches of space. Early word is that this new tyrant is giving Darkseid a run for his money!

Not much that can be said about a tease like that. But I will say that more cosmic villains is always a good thing. Of course, the only one out of the six players with the power to go up against someone Darkseid's level is Black Adam...

That's the first five... The next forty-seven are yet to come.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Do It Now

Those who know me know that -- among many things -- I am a sappy, romantic fool. Which is why there is one thing that must come to the DC Universe. Above all other things:

Yes, that's right. The relationship between Huntress and the Question must be pulled from the Justice League Unlimited animated series and enshrined into the hallowed continuity of the DC Universe.

They are one of the finest couples I have ever seen. Their onscreen chemistry makes that of real actors pale in comparison. Crossbow wielding psycho + headcase conspiracy nut = The Greatest Romance in History.

52* is the perfect opportunity. The Question will return to the forefront -- after being ever so slightly made more like his animated counterpart -- and then hook up with Huntress while in Gotham City. It must be done!

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Comics are a passion of mine. Though I'd imagine that's obvious. It should be noted that my love of the medium extends beyond mere print comics. I also enjoy any number of webcomics. Sometimes they can do things that print comics can't. Like what, you ask?

How about The Adventures of Dr. McNinja?

No, you're not reading that wrong. You really should go read it. It's five kinds of awesome.

No, no. Let me amend that. It's seven kinds of awesome. Go now.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Crises on Various Earths

I have only recently discovered the delighful terror that is the Pre-Crisis JLA/JSA Team-Ups. I thought I might share my thoughts on some of the more... Interesting ones. So, without further ado I present to you the horror that is 1974's Justice League of America #113: "The Creature in the Velvet Cage!"

Our story begins -- as stories often do -- with Hal Jordan using his ring on something yellow.

Following their stunning victory over the "Horned Owl Gang" the JLA and JSA decide to go get coffee. And yes, it was Elongated Man's idea. But before they can arrive at a convenient coffee shop, trouble strikes! A mysterious alarm goes off and Sandman reacts with... Terror! Leaping into his sweet red convertible (shockingly enough called the "Sand-Car") Wesley Dodds speeds to his plush townhouse.

The JLA and JSA follow. Once they arrive at the townhouse, they enter the hidden stairs behind the giant freakin' hourglass that Sandman keeps in his living room. There, the teams discover... Chaos! It seems that Wesley Dodds has kept a terrifying secret for years. Sandy the Golden Boy hadn't left New York -- he'd simply been transformed! (ironically enough, into a sand monster)

His young sidekick transformed, Sandman did the only logical thing: he drugged Sandy, locked him up, and then had himself hypnotized so that he would forget it ever happened.

I'm not joking.

The teams decide to overlook Sandman's callous actions and help the "Grainy Gladiator" recapture his missing ward.

They track Sandy to a wedding being held in nearby "Gladstone Park." The heroes soon engage the monster. Here, the readers are treated to one of the greatest panels in the history of comics:

Yes, Superman is saved from a terrible fate thanks to an irate bride with a pie.

But the battle is far from over. Though the creature escapes, the teams redouble their efforts to capture him. Since they don't wish to harm Sandy, Batman -- that most brilliant of thinkers and planners -- stumbles upon an ideal solution:

Unfortunately, it doesn't work out quite as well as Batman might have hoped:

Nice going, Batman.

The Flash finally succeeds in driving Sandy away. The transformed Golden Boy then flees to the "famed Machisimo Beach, where virile young athletes flaunt their accomplishments to the delighted squeals of their lovely companions."

I swear, you can't make this stuff up.

The JLA and JSA are nowhere to be seen... So the afore mentioned "virile young athletes" take it upon themselves to stop the monster!

That works about as well as can be expected.

The JLA and JSA quickly arrive for their final showdown with Sandy the Sand Monster. Hal quickly attempts to subdue the creature with his trademark "wit" and "ability to always freakin' forget that his ring doesn't work on yellow." (though the editor makes sure he reminds us!)

Sandy proceeds to beat the snot out of Hal, at which point Wesley Dodds finally decides to take some responsibility for his actions. He steps in and distracts the monster while Hourman takes him out.

But the trouble isn't over! An earthquake strikes, opening up a gaping chasm in the middle of the famous "Machisimo Beach"! But is Superman concerned? Of course not. This is Pre-Crisis Superman. He simply borrows Wonder Woman's lasso and goes to work with his Super Sewing powers:

With that, the crisis is averted... Or is it? To the shock of all, Sandy speaks! Wesley Dodds is horrified to learn that Sandy has been conscious and aware of his conditon all these years. Thus the Pre-Crisis Sandman is revealed to be a total jerk.

With that, "The Creature in the Velvet Cage!" comes to a close. But that's not the end of the story. In time, Sandy the Golden Boy will be restored to his human form -- no thanks to Wesley Dodds.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The What Age?

I've heard a lot of chatter recently about "Silver Age" versus "Modern Age." Despite the fact that I don't think it's quite that simple to divide comics into such clear cut categories, it seems inevitable. So I'll ask: are we still in the "Modern Age"?

Comics in just the past three or four years (my entire time reading comics, I'll admit) seem radically diffrent from those done from the end of Crisis, through the 90's, and up to the turn of the century. Have we reached another dividing line? Obviously it's not as clear cut as "The First Appearance of Barry Allen" or whatever people use to mark the beginning of the Silver Age. But if we are in a new age of comics, what event/character/issue/series would you say marks its advent?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


God bless Geoff Johns. Really. He took one of the coolest concepts in comics and resurrected it. It's good to have you back, kid.

By the way; what's your name again?

Damn straight it is!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I Don't Like Sandman

I like Wesley Dodds, but I don't like Neil Gaiman's Sandman. To be fair, I've just started reading it. But I'm just not getting whatever it is is that has made it this end all be all in the comics world. People who don't normally read comics try to impress my by saying they've read Sandman. That's fine. But I just don't get it.

And don't go all "he's a supehero snob!" accusatory on me either. Sure, I love superheroes but I'm perfectly willing to look into other avenues as well. I used to be worse about that, of course. I stayed away from Fables for the longest time because it wasn't superheroes. That was a mistake. But Sandman? It just doesn't seem to be any fun. Comics should be fun.

So, fans of Neil Gaiman's Sandman. I ask you: what is it that you love about this series so much? Why has it been elevated to such a godlike position in comics?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Deadman is Cool

Why don't we never see Deadman nowadays? I know he's not the most popular of heroes, but Deadman is cool. I recently got ahold of some older stories with him in them (in my effort to explore more of DC's Pre-Crisis history). And I've got to say that I have new respect for Deadman. Here are five reasons why Deadman is cool:

1. Deadman's power makes him cool. Sure, Deadman's "power" is being dead -- but that doesn't make it any less useful. He's one of the few superheroes who can make villains foil themselves. How great is it to see a pimp/drug dealer/extortionist with the gall to call himself "Stallion" tackle his own thugs? And then toss incrimnating evidence to a guy on his way to the cops? Thanks Deadman!

2. Deadman's origin makes him cool. Deadman was a circus aerialist murdered by an assassin. But that's not the best part about his origin. He was granted the to power to stick around the mortal plane by Rama Kushna, the "peaceful death goddess of a minor Eastern religion." How many superheroes work for mysterious death godesses?

3. Deadman's costume makes him cool. Just look at it. Pale white face juxtaposed with dark red. And the collar! I don't think I need to say anything more.

4. Deadman's name makes him cool. And I'm not talking about "Deadman." (though that's a great superhero name) Deadman's real name is Boston Brand. Boston Brand just has a quality that rolls off your tongue. Go ahead. Say it aloud. "Boston Brand." You know it's cool.

5. Deadman makes Deadman cool. I couldn't think of a fifth reason, but that doesn't make the above four any less valid. Deadman is cool.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Vengeance Implications

It's been repeated several times that the mastermind of Infinite Crisis is responsible for all the events of the Countdown minis. The OMAC Project, Villains United, and Rann-Thanagar War are all pretty straightforward. But what about Day of Vengeance? It seems to be the odd one out. What use is there in crippling magic and removing powerful sorcerors from play? I think I've figured it out, and it makes the consequences of Day of Vengeance far more terrifying than anything the others might indicate.

First, the necessary background information. As most everyone knows, Superman has two weaknesses: Kryptonite and magic. This has been a given throughout most of the Post-Crisis era. However, Infinite Crisis #3 goes out of its way to show us that Kryptonite from the existing Earth has no effect on Earth-2 Superman. From this, we can logically assume that Kryptonite has no effect on any alternate Supermen. So what would someone do if faced with a dangerous, unhinged Kryptonian? Their only recourse would be magic. And as Day of Vengeance shows, that's no longer a viable option.

Thanks to the Spectre, there is nothing in the universe that can really harm Earth-2 Superman. But that's not where I'm going with this. The more important repercussion is that there is nothing in existence that can harm Superboy-Prime.

It would be bad enough if we merely had a powerful, villainous Superman running around. But it's far worse than that. Superboy-Prime is not a normal Superman. Take note of what Dan DiDio teased in the most recent edition of Crisis Counseling:
Q: Is the E-2 Superman still as strong as he used to be, that is, he can move planets?

DD: Not E-2 Superman, but...
The implications of this are pretty clear. This idea is further supported by several scenes in Infinite Crisis #3. We have Superboy-Prime ominously soaking up the rays of the yellow sun. Then we see him destroy an Apokoliptian battlesuit specifically designed to fight Superman. And he destroys it with ease. Then there's the clincher -- Superboy-Prime's own words:
"Let me go find him. Let me get out of here. You know what I can do when I'm in that yellow sun.
So let's review: evil Superboy-Prime. No weaknesses. The power to move planets with his bare hands.

If you're not scared, you should be.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yet More

Today I went shopping and tried again with the Batman trading arts. Some sort of Japanese luck god must have been with me, as I got both of the figures that I've been pining for. Here's the excellent Batgirl figure:

A delightful figure, but not nearly as good as the Azrael one (which I'll showcase at a later date). For those interested, here a couple more views of the Batgirl figure:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Samurai: Heaven & Earth

I don't usually post about comics other than DC. That's mostly because I don't read much else. But when I heard about Samurai: Heaven & Earth by Ron Marz and Luke Ross, I knew I had to check it out. I just finished it, and it's far better than I could have imagined.

Ron Marz really seem to get the samurai. It's very rare to find a samurai in Western movies, television, or comics that is more than simply a stereotype. And as someone with a degree in Japanese History from an accredited university, I think I'm at least moderately qualified to say that Ron Marz gets it.

Oh, the sense of honor is there. When most people outside of Japan think of samurai, they think of honor. But more than the honor there is the sense of duty. Duty to one's lord or duty to one's love. And it's the latter that Marz plays with in Samurai. And it works beautifully. Fish out of water stories are always excellent; taking someone from their normal setting and dropping them into another world can create delightful results.

So what exactly happens when a man crosses what to him is the known world to find the woman he loves? What happens when a Japanese samurai finds himself in the middle of Louis XIV's France?

Honestly, all hell breaks loose. And Marz plays it right. He makes very clear that this man -- this samurai -- doesn't understand the world he's in. Even more importantly, he doesn't care. When he's asked to kill someone important to gain his freedom he'll do it without as second thought. Because all that really matters to him is his duty. And that's the heart of the samurai ethic.

Of course, I didn't enjoy it for just academic reasons. I enjoyed it because it's one hell of a trip. Marz manages to hit every mark spot on, and his dialogue is clever and often brilliant ("All these clothes they make their women wear... Stupid.") And the fights are quite honestly awesome. You've all probably seen the ridiculous mock battles to be found on the internet (Ninja vs. Pirate, anyone?). But here we have the Three Musketeers vs. a Samurai. And it works.

Of course, the fights wouldn't work if they weren't properly drawn. And in this comic every gorgeous fight scene is perfectly rendered thanks to the glorious art of Luke Ross (current artist of DC's Jonah Hex series). His art is perfect for this series. And Jason Keith's colors hit all the right marks, too.

I think I can honestly say that Samurai: Heaven & Earth is perfect in every way. Here's hoping that the teased 2006 sequel makes it to the stands.

More Trading Arts

More Batman trading arts for your amusement. I bought two more yesterday, but fate was not with me: I ended up with a second Nightwing and another Batmobile. But such is life. I do have some older ones, though. Here's Mr. Freeze:

As you can see, he is suspended in the air by his little blast of ice. This seems to be the costume that he got after Underworld Unleashed; it's considerably bulkier than his current costume. Here are two additional views:

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Best and the Worst

Well, I finally got my most recent batch of comics. Some of it worked -- brilliantly -- and some of it was a terrifying trainwreck. And not the kind covered in delicious chocolate. Just a warning for those unfamilar with the ways of the world: spoilers.

The Best: Batman #648

I know that a lot of people hate Judd Winick's work. Even those who don't hate it tend to call it "hit or miss." But for me, Winick's work has been consistently solid. And his Batman is some of the best Batman I've ever read.

He really seems to "get" a lot about what makes Batman tick. Combine that with spot on portrayals of Dick, Alfred (Alfred!) and the mysterious return of Jason Todd, you have the makings of something phenomenal.

This issue continues the streak with issue 648. Most of the issue is a confontation between perennial baddie Black Mask and the Red Hood. It's a brutal one, but it's the ending that's the real shocker: Jason Todd is dead, again. But clearly all is not as it seems. I know I'll be waiting for the next issue.

The Worst: Superman/Batman #23

Jeph Loeb, Jeph Loeb. *shakes head* I heard that you were a good writer. I even enjoyed Hush. *sighs* What happened?

Superman/Batman #23 is one of the worst comics I can recall in a long time. Which is a shame, because Loeb's first arc was absolutely fantastic. But this issue? Maybe it's been the incredible delay. Maybe it's the fact that there're too many characters. Whatever it is, this issue reads like a bad fan-fic that somehow managed to slip into Ed McGuinness's work pile.

It's already been definitely proven that the new "Supergirl" is a "Mary Sue" of the worst sort. I will accept no argument against that. Why else would she show up in this issue clad only in a towel for reasons that I cannot elucidate? But then Jeph Loeb destroys all the brilliant work that Greg Rucka has done with Mr. Mxyzptlk. Then the Joker shows up. For some reason. And let's not forget the weird Kryptonite Man, Bizarro and "Batzarro," Superwoman and Batwoman, Metron, Darkseid, Red Son Superman, and Batman Beyond. Somebody tell me: why?


I often find myself at a loss as to what to post here. Though I do enjoy myself a great deal -- whether or not anyone else reads it. It's really for me, more than anything. A way to get out my thoughts about comics and the things that I love about them.

Ah, but you ask: what do you love about them? I love the fact that anything can happen. I love the fact that things that seem utterly ridiculous to people outside the fandom seem perfectly normal to all of us. I love the fact that in the comics the villains are as evil as evil can be -- and the fact the the heroes are brighter than anything. I just love comics.

I guess it should be no surprise that like many comic fans, I want to make my own comics. Of course, I should think that my goals are a little more realistic than some. I have no real desire to see anything I make published. And I really can't see myself writing full-scale superheroics. Mostly I want to make comics because I love comics -- and there are stories that I want to tell. And if others could enjoy what's in my head as much as I do, then that would make me incredibly happy.

I'll make no claims to being a master. My art is incredibly flawed (though I would deny that it's better than a lot of people). And I honestly don't know where to begin when it comes to making a script. But I'm determined to do it. Because I have stories I want to tell. And I'm going to tell them, someday.