Friday, April 27, 2007

Review of an Old Saying, By Johnathan

The saying in question is "Adding insult to injury", which actually is almost always used as part of a larger statement, so maybe this should be entitled 'Review of an Old Sentence Fragment'. Nah, it just doesn't have the same zazz that way.

In any case:

So I know that I've touched on the subject of Saturn Girl's horrible/ridiculous costume change, right? Quick recap - she went from this:

Which is if nothing else a respectable costume that certainly doesn't look at all skanky, to this:

Which is, uh... terribly terrible and oh-so-very Designed By A Dude. But fine, okay, I can deal. I can conjure up the suspension of disbelief necessary to reimagine a highly-trained telepathic futurewoman as the sort of person who would willingly wear a bating suit while fighting sentient planetoids and guys with robotic fish-men and goo-based space tyrants. Heck, every once in a while someone will do an okay job of drawing it -

- and I'll almost think that it looks good (Note however that whoever drew this - James Sherman and Jack Abel - managed to make even Cosmic Boy's horrid costume look good).
Sadly, this doesn't happen all that often. Usually her costume just makes me sad. Sometimes it makes me so sad that I have to write about it on the internet. This is one of those times.

Specifically, I'm sad about two trends that I've noticed regarding Saturn Girl's Atrocious Pink Costume. See if you can spot the first one in this picture:

If you guessed "Is it that Saturn Girl has no neck, you giant nerd?" you were correct! Hurtful, but correct. Yes, it seems that this costume brings out a profound neck-hatred in artists, causing them to portray her as having a head that is mounted directly on her shoulders. It's really creepy and definitely ruins the 'really really sexy' look that they were going for. (Note that Lightning Lad doesn't have one either but that he's obscenely musclebound in this issue so it doesn't look as bad). Honestly, I can't look at this picture for very long without getting uneasy and yet I keep looking at it. I fear the power that it holds over me.

The second trend isn't as eerie but it's there nonetheless. No guessing this time: it's a tendency to render her as if she were an R. Crumb character:



Seriously now. I can almost force myself to believe that she'd wear hot pants, but I know that she'd have gotten the right size hot pants.

The costume (again), the no-neck and the short-shorts are all:

NOT APPROVED.

This is totally the third post about this costume, isn't it? I promise not to do this any more. Really.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Belated Review of the Legion of Super-Heroes Cartoon, By Johnathan

I must have been assuming that this wasn't going to be very good, because I just watched the first episode tonight. Turns out it was terrific - great jazzy theme song, cool character design, excellent use of Triplicate Girl, etc. I won't go on as I'm sure that every nerd and his nerd-dog have already done so, all over the internet. Just wanted to confirm it:

JOHN APPROVED

Monday, April 23, 2007

Review of A Good Pal, By Johnathan

I can't quite bring myself to include this next character (and I do mean 'character') in the 'Superhuman Detritus of the 30th Century' series. See, way back in the day I loved me some comic books, even though I lived way out in the country and had no real way to get a regular fix. I had to content myself with reading the comics available through my local library as well as the few leftover scraps of my uncle's mid-seventies collection (Spider-Man and Nova vs. Some Guy! I loved it!). The real things that got me through until I had a job and a local comic bookshop were Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Superheroes and Encyclopedia of Supervillains. And the Encyclopedia of Monsters, to a lesser extent. They were chock-full of entries on hundreds of super-folk, with exhaustive info on their costumes and equipment and great catty comments afterward.

Even as a youngster, the Legion of Super-Heroes brought out the super-nerd in me, so it was a pretty damn happy day in the McJohnathan household when I learned that Jeff Rovin apparently loved them too - basically every hero that had ever appeared in a legion tale made it into the Encyclopedia, if only as a three-line blurb in Appendix C. I grew up knowing, for example, that a lot of guys with interesting names showed up in "The Super-Stalag of Space" but had no idea of the circumstances behind their appearance, what they looked like or - at the time - what a Stalag was.

Then I grew up, got some cash flow goin' and started reading all of the comics that I'd previously only read *about*. And that, in an extraordinarily roundabout way, brings me to the subject of today's post:

Blockade Boy. Blockade Boy was the friggin' king of the three-liners. He had a great alliterative name, he had a great weird Silver Age power, and he appeared in the oh-so enigmatic "Super-Stalag of Space". Plus, Proty II felt the need to adopt the identity of Blockade Boy 2 in a later story, so that's saying... something. I was totally curious about Blockade Boy for upwards of fifteen years before I actually saw him, and I was not let down.

Blockade Boy was one of many Legionnaires and Weird Future Silver Age Heroes that were rounded up and imprisoned by the evil, red, three-eyed Nardo, presumably to keep them out of his (terrible) hair while he was being nefarious. A big chunk of the two-issue story arc was taken up with various super-heroic escape attempts and the horrible consequences thereof.

Par example:
Matter-Eater Lad chews his way to freedom! Presumably with many bathroom breaks along the way, as that is a damn roomy tunnel. I'd move away from that rear end if I were you, Blockade Boy.

Sadly, the writers weren't about to have Matter-Eater Lad and Blockade Boy succeed where Braniac 5 and Superboy had failed, so the two of them get caught basically as soon as they emerge from the tunnel. However, in ignoble defeat Blockade Boy attained his greatest success.

Obsoive
:
In two panels we have:

a) The first full-length shot of Blockade Boy, showcasing his awesome belt and wristbands, questionable boots and adequate shirt/pants combo. Bonus points for the flattop!

b) Blockade Boy's crazy Silver Age power - he can totally turn into a steel wall! I really, really wish that he had gotten a chance to tell his origin story. I bet it involved falling in a vat of some sort of liquid wall sealant, or possibly being exposed to radiations from an experimental space wall.

c) Heroism! Blockade Boy sacrifices himself to save All Good Persons' Fave Legionnaire, Matter-Eater Lad. If I didn't love him before...
Here's Nardo, acting like a tool. Note the man-breasts and barely-contained gut. Don't worry, Nardo gets his eventually.

So Blockade Boy is JOHN APPROVED.

PS: If you were wondering about Blockade Boy II:


He came about as part of a fight that the Legion of Super-Pets were having with their parent Legion. Proty II and Comet the Super-Horse joined the Legion of Super-Heroes under the names Blockade Boy and Biron the Bowman. Comet pulls a Karate Kid and manages to get in without having any actual powers, while Proty:
Pulls an amazing save! His costume, by the way? I find it creepy - it's more thematic, with it's riveted steel and such, but does it really have to include a giant metal diaper? The answer is no.


The best thing is that after all of this effort, Comet and Proty stayed in the Legion for about two pages.

Blockade Boy II is NOT APPROVED.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review of Urinals, By Johnathan

Urinals are great. They're easy to clean, they don't waste much water and you don't pee on your leg if you suddenly find yourself doing the old 'urinating at right angles' trick. Someday I'm going to have a house – or at least a long-term apartment – and I'm going to install a urinal. I'll be able to say, "I'm heading out for some urinal pucks – you need anything?" It'll be awesome.

JOHN APPROVED

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Review of Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 6, by Johnathan

Just a quick one today, and mostly because I've been thinking about this character for a while - he's one of the inspirations for this series of reviews, along with Storm Boy and Infectious Lass.

His name? Rann Antar.



Rann Antar appeared in Adventure Comics #317, way back in the day, in the same issue that featured the first appearance of Dream Girl. Ol' Rann always stood out in my mind for a few reasons and because I'm too lazy to string them together into a proper paragraph, here they are as a numbered list:

1. Rann Antar is a keener. He showed up with roughly one thousand times the number of feathers required to demonstrate his 'discovery'. I can see his plan now: "I'll throw the feathers up in the air, then spray them with my formula. The Legion will give me a standing ovation as heavy feathers rain down upon them. The boy Legionnaires will go out to plan a parade in my honor while the girls wrestle for the right to kiss me. It will be the best day of my life."

2. Rann Antar was rejected from the Legion in the less soul-crushing of the two methods that were commonly employed during these affairs. Note how Saturn Girl refrains from shouting "What? Your power is useless! You, sir, are ridiculous! Rejected!" (this is the more soul-crushing method) and instead makes up some lame excuse about Star Boy being able to do the same thing, like they'd let him in in a shot if they had no 'heavy feathers' guy.

3. Rann Antar is desperate to join the Legion. Look, you can see it in his eyes and his posture - he just lunged forward with that wok full of feathers and blurted his little speech out in one breathless rush. I'll bet he waited outside all night plucking chickens. Further, I'd wager that that perm is brand new, and that if we could rotate him ninety degrees we'd be able to see an insignia on his shirt, something like a black arrow pointing downward with a feather inside.

4. Rann Antar is ridiculous. For some ungodly reason he's JOHN APPROVED.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review of the Super-Human Detritus of the Thirtieth Century, Part 5, By Johnathan

Today we're going to look at three more Legion rejects, rejects with one thing in common (other than being Legion rejects, of course). See if you can guess what!

First up is Radiation Roy, whose first big mistake was his choice of names. Radiation Boy, Radiation Lad, Radiation Rajah... all would have given him a bit more pull down at the ol' yellow spaceship than the unfortunate name + descriptor moniker.

In an effort to rely a bit less on pictures (not much less, but less) we'll skip straight to Roy's origin story:
Okay, not bad. The Super-Hero Legion Club is pretty cool. I can see where someone might spend an inheritance to hire some shmucks to blast them with radiation in order to get in. Note that Roy is wearing his costume before he has gotten his powers - this is actually pretty common in early Legion origins and is a symptom of either a) lazy artists (not bothering to think up civilian garb for the characters) or b) lazy super-heroes (not bothering to change before going out to fight space-crime). I favour b) - if Legion were around today they'd totally all be wearing hoodies and track pants.

So Roy's got his crappy name, his laundry-day clothes and his hand-picked power of being radioactive. He's a shoo-in, right?

Aw. I guess he shouldn't have spent all of his money to become radioactive.

...

Radioactive.
Sheesh.

Radiation Roy, for your many, many bad decisions you are declared NOT APPROVED.
Coming up next is Ronn Kar, who can make himself flat.

Ronn doesn't get in of course, but you have to admire his optimism - this is kind of like a toy poodle applying for membership in the local wolf pack or the Boy Scouts of America declaring war on France. We don't get to see Ronn's origin (though I'm guessing that it has something to do with the fact that he grew up on a gas giant), but it seems to me like he might have made more of an effort than Roy in the costume department, since he's rockin' the 'underwear outside of the pants' look reserved for the super-heroic.

JOHN APPROVED

Following the dictates of the order known as 'alphabetical', the next reject is named Spider Girl.

Those of you guessing that the common thread is 'widow's peaks' are officially foiled.

Spider Girl also has no origin story, but at least she didn't show up wearing the Thirtieth Century equivalent of a sweatsuit. Her clothing is thematic (and ugly)!

She also has what must be the most stressful audition of all time, as the entire damn Legion appears to be looking on - they even shipped in Pete Ross and Jimmy Olsen, for heaven's sake.

Still, she looks pretty confident - maybe she can pull this off.

Aw. Negative points for choking Legionnaires. Even your hot pants can't save you now, Spider Girl. Still, I like that you didn't call yourself Hair Lass or Follicle Femme, so: JOHN APPROVED.

Ignore Double-Header. We'll speak of him (them?) another day.

"But wait!" you cry, "You still haven't told us what these pathetic souls have in common! Please elaborate!"

Well, I suppose, if you insist.

In Adventure Comics #373, Colossal Boy gets mixed up with the Legion of Super-Villains, so various Legionnaires infiltrate that organization to see what's going on/down. While getting the grand tour, they discover something shocking:

SpiderGirl and Radiation Roy! Not screwing up! Was the Legion wrong to reject them based purely on one bad tryout? What of the moral and ethical considerations? Were they predisposed toward crime all along or were the Legion's harsh standards and harsher rejection to blame? Were Legion tryouts a potential super-villain factory? Questions!

Oh, and Ronn Kar was there too - I bet he'd have been happy to know that they remembered him.

Eventually, a fight erupts (Note: fight scenes taken from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes # 308, because that issue was more entertaining).

During the course of any fight involving Spider Girl and Radiation Roy it is made very clear:

Spider Girl and Radiation Roy's fighting skills may have improved, but only when they are fighting each other. Seriously, even if I were using panels from the right fight scene they'd still be getting their asses handed to them. Suddenly moral and ethical considerations don't seem so important - who loses out when you inspire only the most bumbling and ineffective to become super-villains? Not the Legion - for every screw-up they turn away they get another easy victory to impress the ladies (or gents) with.

Anyway:

Subsequent to the traditional 'piling of the super-villains' we have one of my favourite afterthought panels of all time:

The dramatic capture of Ronn Kar. So optimistic! "The Legion will totally believe that I'm cool enough to be painted on some random wall... I'm from Neptune!"

Keep on dreaming, Ronn!

JOHN APPROVED