Saturday, March 31, 2007

Review of the Forbidden Loves of Superman, By Johnathan

In reading tales concerning the life and times of the good ol' Man of Steel I've noticed something: Superman's love life is often pretty creepy. Now I'm not referring to the eternal distance that he maintains between himself and Lois Lane/ Lana Lang - that's just perplexing - and I'm not talking about the one time that he was willing to settle down being with a mermaid. I'm talking about how he keeps trying to make time with his relatives.

Now, I can kind of almost see the reasoning behind this tendency, from a writing standpoint. Pre-1985, Superman is ridiculously powerful - easily the strongest, most invulnerable dude in the DC Universe. For him to have anything approaching an equal relationship, power-wise, he'd pretty much have to date inside his family. This, however, does not make the concept any less creepy.

To show you precisely what i mean, here's some picture evidence.

Action Comics No. 289 is a real gem. It's given me material before and it will again. And why not? It's got a perfect Silver Age ridiculous plot:

Supergirl saw a movie about a sorrowful bachelor, which naturally gets her thinking about her cousin Kal-El - what if he never gets married? Basically, civilization as we know it would crumble. Supergirl decides to find a suitable dame for Superman, resulting in not a few hijinks - she tries Helen of Troy first, but Helen turns out to be something of a colossal wench, and so she's out. Then she tries to get him together with Saturn Woman of the grown-up Legion of Super-Heroes, but she turns out to have gotten married, so that plan is also out the window.

Finally, Supergirl confesses her worries to the big guy, which triggers possibly the most uncomfortable moment in comics history:

Sheesh! Aw, Superman... that's just, um... incredibly wrong. Look at how he's got her chin, and how close he's standing... he completely *wants* his fifteen-year old cousin. Not only that, but Supergirl can tell - check out the expression on her face - she's freaking out, probably because she remembers this incident.

So the justifiably-freaked-out Supergirl rushes off and finds somebody to take the bullet for her - her super-powered doppelganger on the planet Staryl.

Superman takes the bait, thereby making Luma Lynai Creepy Object of Desire No. 2: Someone who you're only after because they look just like an adult version of your teenaged cousin (who is Creepy Object of Desire No. 1). Despite this, they seem to get on well:

But it all ends in tears, in the good ole DC manner - Supes doesn't even think about staying on her planet (or visiting occasionally for some super-nookie, or trying to solve her problem, or anything else) , he goes home to hug Supergirl some more, and everything goes back to normal, except that the Man of Steel now creeps everyone out.

Not that he gives up, as seen in the very brief appearance of Creepy Object of Desire No. 3: Your cousin, just from another dimension.

See? He's totally folding under the mild flirtations handed out by his extra-dimensional cousin. Don't do it, man! Check the DNA!

No resistance to kryptonite, magic, or gettin' some. "Trophy room" my eye.

The No. 4 Creepy Object of Desire isn't really his fault, but it's still telling when a scene plays out like this:

A young man who has come to the future meets an attractive young lady who is wearing next to nothing...

He tries to impress her with a show of strength, they talk for a while. He's starting to feel pretty confident...

Wait for it...

And she's his descendant. Which probably messed up his libido for a while - maybe that's why he grew up to be the kind of guy who hits on fifteen-year olds that he's related to.

All in all: Bad form, Superman. Bad form.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Review of Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 4a, by Johnathan

It occurs to me that the JOHN APPROVED on that last post was directed at the Legion of Super-Villains. I should probably weigh in on Dynamo-Boy, for my own peace of mind if nothing else.

So: Dynamo-Boy. Well, he totally schooled the Legion, but was in turn schooled by the other Legion (one of the other Legions, at least - I can count five without even trying), so no points there.

Plus he's ugly, has a bad costume and suffers from a bad case of 'committing crimes using technology which, if sold, would net one enough money never to have to worry about anything ever again." But... I like this kid. He's got chutzpah.


Now quiet. It's time to watch Dynamo-Boy's despair!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Review of Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 4, by Johnathan

This time around, we're taking a look at Dynamo-Boy, a greasy little elf who manages to highlight many of the Legion's delightful absurdities in his two issues of fame (Adventure 330 and 331, for the curious). Dynamo-Boy's not the first villain to join the Legion, but he is a personal favourite of mine. Let's take a look at the little scamp, shall we?

That's him looking all cunning (and greasy) up front. This is a great frontspiece for this issue - Mon-El is getting kicked out on a technicality and can't get anyone to believe that he was framed. Meanwhile Dynamo-Boy couldn't look more triumphantly villainous if he was cackling and touching himself. It's a terrific illustration of how thoroughly oblivious the Legion is to his shenanigans and machinations.

So Dynamo Boy is actually Vorm, a youngster from a planet full of criminals. He's a go-getter and no mistake. Just look at him volunteer! (Ridiculous Legion Thing No. 1: The tendency of bad guys in the old days to refer to the Legion as a 'club'. Always makes me picture the Fatal Five battling a local chapter of the 4H)

Vorm and Pargg are given some pretty nice belts. This is where Vorm really distinguishes himself for the first time. By wearing an orange tunic that could only really look less than ridiculous with a belt, yet leaving his belt at home, Vorm puts on his super-belt and *boom!* he looks like a million bucks! At this point the crowd is totally on his side, despite Pargg's good looks and pirate hat.

Oops! It's a fight to the death! Vorm's still ahead - his banter is much more ominous than Pargg's.

Again, Vorm comes out on top. Not only does Pargg slip up and call the Legion of Super-Heroes the "Super-Legion", but Vorm drops a Jimmy Olsen reference! Since Elastic Lad had at this point been active in the Thirtieth Century for about, say, an hour, this is a clear indication that Vorm has Done His Homework. Were this a battle for dominance of the local comic bookshop, Pargg would be dead of shame by now.

But instead of shame, he dies of Atom-Blast Vision. Take note: Vorm has kicked ass thoroughly enough that he has had time to think up names for his powers before using them. The guy shouting "Bye-bye Pargg... we hate losers!" is, by the way, one of my favourite background characters of all time.

Okay, so having killed off Pargg, Vorm heads to Earth and suckers Star Boy into inviting him to the ever-popular Legion tryouts. He tells the above tale to explain his powers, which I guess is good enough that the Legion never thinks to question why he's constantly pushing buttons on his giant mechanical belt.

This brings us to Ridiculous Legion Thing No. 2, Tryouts. Even though I love them, I gotta admit:

Eye-ful Ethel is just silly. (Review-Within-A-Review: Silly, but kind of hot. JOHN APPROVED)

Also Appearing: The Mess! (Review-Within-A-Review: I like The Mess because he kind of looks like Alfred E. Neuman. I hope that Cosmic Boy hired him as Legion janitor or something afterward. JOHN APPROVED)

Dynamo-Boy gets into the Super-Legion Club by showing that it's okay to blast old men with radiation. Old men wearing long-sleeved leotards and vests with flared shoulders, that is. Also: why does this man have a crutch? Shouldn't 30th century technology have solved all crutch-worthy ailments by now? Or at the very least developed the Rocket- or perhaps Robo-Crutch?

There follows a period of time where Dynamo-Boy is a member of the Legion and is devoting all of his time to having everyone else kicked out. I have no images of this, but rest assured, it all happened due to Ridiculous Legion Thing No. 3: Bylaws. The Legion charter's full of all kinds of ridiculous rules, and every time someone runs afoul of them and gets kicked out for getting married or failing to salute the Legion flag everyone acts helpless, like it's the US Constitution, rather than a set of rules laid out by three 14-year olds on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

In any case, Dynamo-Boy is eventually the last person in the Legion, and so, in a rare treat, Legion tryouts are held two issues in a row:

First up is Golden Boy, who both crashes and burns. (Review-Within-A-Review: Though Golden Boy does have Economy Destabilizing Action, I like his snappy outfit. Plus, he's so sure that he's going to get in. I can't help but say: JOHN APPROVED)

Next up: Polecat, another reject. (Review-Within-A-Review: While Polecat does share Golden Boy's optimistic outlook, and while I am pretty fond of the expressions that all of the wannabe heroes in the second panel are making [Especially Dynamo-Boy, who's not so much holding his nose as gently caressing it] I'm filled with maddening question marks over the reasons behind giving the guy stinky horns. Was the thought of excessive body odour considered risque by the Comics Code Authority? Are the horns meant to be the literal 'poles' of the Polecat? So perplexed! So NOT APPROVED)

Animal Lad turns someone into a bear! Luckily, the concept of suing over 'mental anguish' was abolished in the 2500s, or he'd be... uh... Frying Up Animals Lad... At McDonalds. Because He's Poor. Because Of The Lawsuit. (Review-Within-A-Review: I don't think that Vorn's thought this through enough. Animal Lad's lame. NOT APPROVED)

Lame but upright, apparently, so he's out the door! That's okay, though, because once he's gone it's time for the best of the bunch:

The Tusker! Observe his fangs closely:

Comic gold! (Review-Within-A-Review: The Tusker is great. Not just because of his ferocious assault on that tree or how much it impressed all of the losers that were hanging around the woods that day, and not just due to the fact that he got stuck and ruined the tryouts for everyone, but because of this:

The Tusker can dance. JOHN APPROVED)

So Dynamo-Boy's out of luck re: recruiting new Legionnaires. Out of luck, that is, until he finds and inducts the perfect underlings:

The Legion of Super Villains! Oh boy! This oughta be good!

And it is! The poor Legion of Substitute Heroes get the tar whomped out of them, which is fine. But then:

Betrayal! In an impossible-to-anticipate occurrence, the Legion of Super Villains screw someone over! Really, Dynamo-Boy, you greasy little elf-monkey, did you not see that coming? If nothing else, your belt should have had an Irony-Sensor on it somewhere, ticking away like mad. Ah, well. How bad can it be?

Oh... bad.

"Ha, ha! The Timescope screen reveals Dynamo-Boy's despair!" Now that's villainy.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Review of Procreation, By Johnathan

So I was walking along with a couple of my cohorts (Purple and Gold.) today, when we came upon two pigeons engaging in pigeon love. One pigeon laid down and the second did a little hop, a little flutter, and that was that. Talk about conservation of energy - we didn't even have to slow down to see the whole thing.

So... keep it up, pigeons.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Review of some unknown PS3 game by Paul

The good thing about cars is that they have thousands of little pieces that they burst into when they explode. I discovered this one evening in an isle of the future shop. While there I did not find the future, but the store does not promise the future.

Hanging above the droves of consumers was a free version of a car racing game I will call "When cars explode"; and they do. Cars explode a lot. While inside the game, where I allow myself to drift, I note that it is mostly my car that does the exploding and when it does, the world slows down to embrace the moment and so do I. A cloud of bolts, car doors, tires and other recognizable bits burst out as if held by the thinnest skin. Their cheap frames shimmy and tear dance and bounce like fish* of water(except they are bolts out of cars! not even close). All of this fades away as the remains of my car twist in the air helplessly. Some additional laws of physics had been added where previously missing.

My car is never safe. Other cars and an ever flickering clock force me back into motion. What they don't seem to realize is that the world is circular. I relive the explosion again and again. Nature decorates the world around the race track and crushes all that collides with it.

Nature is safe for the most part. All of the damage is transferred to the car. Obviously this is a punishment. The laws of nature won't tolerate car damage. Not in that world.

I always knew that cars had tonns of little bits holding them together and I found it very exciting to see them all at once.


*I refuse to use the word fishes. :P

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Review of Facebook by Paul

Facebook the friend comfirmation book!

I used to cringe everytime someone pulled out a family album. Let it be known that I am not a sentimental person. I like change. I like meeting new people. I like dropping a profession or a degree program like its nothing. Take a risk. Everywhere I go I always meet good people. It doesn't matter. I always find something to write about something that makes me feel alive.

Facebook. Imagine yourself walking around the city with a stack of blank paper and a photo album. The paper is filled with blank lines but there is a complete one that you have pinned on your chest so people can take a glance at it and know what to write. They fill out the paper work and hand it back. On the way home they stop at staples and grab a blank stack of paper and a photo album.

"Here is some paper work for you to fill out"

Imagine that everyone you have ever met is suspended around you. People you have never met but want to know you. They can all send you messages and hope that you will respond. Before you know it you find yourself trying to please everyone.

Whats worse is that people have already placed some importance in Facebook. I'm sure the people who have been trying to contact me are going to be confused when they see that I have deactivated my account.

Facebook. Facebook is a warning of things to come. Its funny because I am a programmer so I don't expect to see all kinds of people who aren't programmers while i'm actually trying to do some work. Its just a database people - come on. No magic here. You know what its the winter time we all do things we regret in the winter time. We sleep with people we shouldn't sleep with. I know. Its cold. We all saw the fancy web 2.o curves(don't even get me fucken started). It was terrifying! Some of the people I used to know are now insane! We all do things we regret in the winter time. Its the confinement.

It got into my head so fast and how could it not. The problem with the program is that it displays all of your friends to your friends of your friends. I like games. I could win facebook if I wanted to. I could write pr0grams to help me to automate the process. Then I could give the programs to others. If I had my back against the wall i would do it. But, in the end, I would be connected to a bunch of people that have nothing to do with me. I might spend hours in my day keeping tabs on them. Meanwhile the world would be passing me by. The world is passing me by. Still.

It wont be long before we all have RFIDs and when we sign up for a social network everyone will be able to see where I'm standing. When that day comes I'll just keep walking in random directions.

For all the irony fans out there: Facebook makes me feel dead.

I don't like facebook.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Review of the Green Hornet, By Johnathan

I've been listening to a lot of Old Time Radio (as it is now known) at work lately - mostly old radio plays: the Shadow, the Clock, Dimension X, etc. All are pretty delightful, especially when they have arrived on my computer with the ads intact - that's how I learned that Blue Coal was America's finest anthracite, after all. Most recently, I've been on a big Green Hornet kick and am loving it.

Here's the skinny on the Green Hornet for you poor saps who don't make a habit of listening to 1950s radio programs. Real name: Britt Reid, dashing young newspaper publisher. Britt's got a gas gun, a fancy car called the Black Beauty and a Filipino valet (pronounced vallit) named Kato. He brings crooks to justice as the Hornet and then has folks write about them in his paper, The Sentinel.

The first thing that I love about the Green Hornet is the fact that - despite the fancy car and the gas gun - his most useful superpower (equivalent) is that he's a wanted criminal, and not in a Spider-Man kind of way. The police legitimately think that he's killed a guy, as well as that he's involved in basically every major crime that pops up in the city. Britt's most effective tactics are either to show up somewhere as the Hornet to attract police attention to where it is needed or to rile up crooks into doing something stupid by pretending to muscle in on their rackets. I swear, he gets most of his crime-fighting done just by showing up places.

The second thing that I love is the cast. Specifically, I love the fact that most of them are Irish. There's always a couple of scenes that take place at the police station, where all of the cops are Irish. Lower-class women are almost always Irish. Axeworthy (possibly Axeford), one of Britt's top reporters, is a former cop and thus is Irish. And Gunnigan, one of the two other major newspaper characters, is also for some reason Irish. The total effect is pretty great, if occasionally confusing. Britt occasionally seems like a token American in an Irish radio program.

On top of all that, the villains are nice and evil, even though most of them are white-collar con menwho are trying to score fat civic contracts and such. Oh, and the theme music is 'Flight of the Bumble-Bee.' Whee!