Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review of Genetic Predispositions, By Johnathan

Okay: this post is about something I noticed while reading Detective Comics No. 90 the other day, but I can't just up and tell you what that thing was. I have to lay out a sequence of events for you - trust me, it's the only logical way.

The plot revolves around the riverboat Mississippi Mermaid and its 'celebrated water carnival'. Seems every time the durned thing comes to town, thugs clean out the whole place. Thugs that all buy their suits at the same place, I might add.

When the sheriff (note the purple vest and hat, the bushy white mustache) comes to check out the suspicious boat-people, he is foiled by their air-tight, witness-laden alibis. Since I'm not really paying attention to the mystery aspect of this story I'll tell you now that the whole scheme's dependent on a clock that speeds up and slows down to make the show's intermission seem shorter than it actually is or something like that - evidently this clock is so awesome to tell time with that none of the party-goers bother to look at their watches during the whole production.

Reading of the robbery in Carver Town, Dick and Bruce head for the next stop on the river...

Dalestown! Noted for its opulent hotel lobbies and abundant supply of nogoodniks in matching suits.

Batman gets trounced, wakes up, rounds up the sheriff, and heads boat-ward.

Wha? May I say, Mister Sheriff, that I have seen your like before? Well, I suppose that perhaps Dalestown and Carver Town are small and close enough to share asingle, purple-clad law-enforcement gent, right? Sure, it's totally possible.

Anyway, the Dynamic Duo keep on following the ship, and one week later (so: one week's travel down what is presumably the Mississippi River), in the scenic town of Andre's Bend (snicker), the bandits strike again. Once more, the law gets involved:

The purple-vested, white-mustached, Colonel Sanders tie-wearing law, who seems not to know Batman from Adam.

So: Possibly two but probably three identical sheriffs in three river towns along the Mississippi. My theory is that the American South contains a nomadic clan of law-enforcement types. As they walk the land they provide sheriffs and other forms of lawmen to towns in need of regulation - these three happened to be long lost triplets from that very tribe. That or the artist liked drawing sheriffs like this - this guy actually shows up all over the place in Detective Comics of the time.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Review of Music, By Johnathan

This here's from the Phantom Zone miniseries back in the day:

I kind of really like the idea of a super-hero-inspired musical subgenre - sometimes it seems like the people in comic-book universes live in this state of disinterest re: superstuff. Unless, say, Booster Gold punches his way through their front door for some reason, they have no real day-to-day thoughts on the issue of the heavily-muscled spandex models flying through their towns. Except for a whole lot of exceptions that I just thought of of course. Culturally, though, it's this and that one arc in Legend of the Dark Knight where there was a fad for bat-clothes.

The lyrics seem to be about a hundred times better than is usual for comic-rock. Possibly because there are so few of them. And because they aren't composed entirely of 'baby', 'hey' and 'yeah' (see all music featured in, say, Showcase Presents: The Teen Titans).

Oh, Bizarro-music. Everyone born after 1961 is an imperfect duplicate. Why isn't this all over current continuity?



Well? Which side won?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Review of Something Very Perplexing, By Johnathan

So I was just reading an issue of Groo the Wanderer from 1986 and I came across this ad:

And I just don't know what to say. Except for the fact that Cap looks pretty damned jolly right there. And that it's a bit of a hoot that they were doing their casting through Groo. Although I guess that there could be worse comics in which to advertise for a 10-14 year-old female triple threat.

Wait... when has Captain America ever had anything to do with 10-14 year-old girls? do you suppose that they were trying to pull a Peter Pan with Bucky?

Where can I find the script for this thing?

Even though it never aired, it's JOHN APPROVED.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Review of the Nineteen-Nineties, By Johnathan

I have found the definitive example of why the 90s were a very bad time for the readers of so-called 'comic books.' Not that the era has legions of defenders or anything, but just in case some poor kid had been deluded into thinking that Superman looked kind of cool with a mullet or that every character on the cover of an issue should be either screaming or gritting their teeth in order to ensure sufficient levels of grittiness, I shall present my evidence.

I think that I should set the scene: it's Extreme Justice No. 8, and our heroes are having supper and discussing their administrative problems. Captain Atom, douchebag leader of this worst of Justice-teams (and blatant mullet-enthusiast) says this:

Which is fine. I have nothing bad to say about the dialogue. What I do have a problem with is the oh-so-nineties way in which this dialogue is presented. To whit:

Speed lines! Dramatic lighting! Grimacing! THOOM!

Evidently, while Captain Atom was calmly discussing his budget he happened to notice that his table had transformed into some sort of awful, flat-topped creature and was forced to deal it a swift death-blow. Or possibly the artist didn't realize that even though he was drawing a comic book there was no need to enforce a strict punch-a-page policy.

Or it might have just been the Nineties.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Review of Air Wave, by Johnathan

This is going to be another mini-review, as I continue to work late. Not that my job is especially hard or anything, mind you. I just don't like being there longer than I have to so I get all lazy when I get home. Fascinating, I know.

Today we're having another look at Air Wave II, he of the hot socks. Son of the original Air Wave, who I've never actually seen in a comic book, this guy never really measured up. He had some sort of electromagnetic powers and a reasonably snazzy costume, but what really made him stand out back in the day was his status as perhaps the first (though probably not) of the DC 'legacy heroes', the second- or third- generation superhumans that reap the benefits of using someone else's name and costume when establishing themselves. Air Wave had it super-easy, actually, because not only was his (dead) father Air Wave but his cousin was Hal 'Green Lantern' Jordan, so he was constantly getting super-advice from Green Arrow or The Atom or whoever. Despite all this, however, the kid still managed to be a complete yutz.

Okay, here we see Air Wave as he rejoins his girl after pulling the old 'run off to save the day routine' on her:

A couple of things: first, I totally forgot to mention that Air Wave is also named Hal Jordan for some ungodly reason.
Secondly, that is a terrible excuse. "When I looked up at the sniper I saw that the sun was out and so I just had to run off and get a hat." Really, if you wanted plausible you should have told her that you were hiding from the sniper instead of murderer-watching like an idiot.
Thirdly, she figured out that he was Air Wave about three months ago. Seriously, she sewed him a new costume and he didn't notice until about halfway through the fight with the sniper.

I do like that the little bits of advice that flash through his head have symbols next to them to indicate who said what. I'm not sure but I think that Green Arrow's represented by a little hat.

Oh, Hal. She so did not 'buy it.'


(this isn't the best review ever, but I don't care)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Review of Burial Customs, By Johnathan

Here we go, here we go, here we go now. Today we're taking a look at what happens when a Legionnaire kicks the bucket. In Adventure Comics No. 341, the awesome yellow robot Computo seemingly vaporised Triplicate Girl (but really only 1/3 of her, so it was okay). The Legion, mildly wracked with grief, was moved to honour her thusly:

By signing their names. That's right, the Legion of Super-Heroes treats the death of a close friend in the same way that they do the approach of an eight-year-old clutching a duotang with 'Delia + Ultra Boy' and 'Mrs. Delia Nah' scrawled all over it. Luckily, the other 2/3 of Triplicate Girl don't show up until after the funerary rocket has left, so she doesn't have to see that Sun Boy absent-mindedly scrawled 'have a bitchin' summer - S.B.' across her engraved face.

Lame tributes aside, it is pretty cool that they shoot what little Triplicate Girl that they could scrape up into space. Not only that, but the charred hero-bits have a destination!

Shanghalla! Asteroid resting place of the galaxy's heroes! Number one destination for clone-happy mad scientists! Surprisingly small!

Shanghalla's another one of those things that got built up in my mind by the little entries at the back of Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes. It's a neat idea, if little-used. I kind of wish that there were an issue of Secret Origins or something dedicated to it, but what are you going to do? Me, I'm gonna check out some tombstones!

Every hero interred in (on?) Shanghalla has his or her own little rocket ship, complete with a character synopsis and picture on the side. Uh... here they are:

Mog Yagor: Mog Yagor is a neat name, but recently I've been thinking that it sound a bit too much like something out of H.P. Lovecraft to be a coincidence. My current theory/hope is that Mog Yagor is the green thing up above and that the 'space beast' was a hostile astronaut. Because nothing brings greater joy to my solitary existence than reading way too much into the single-panel appearance of a dead character forty-odd years ago.


Hate Face: Oh, man. Hate Face. Possibly one of my favourite super-hero names ever. I was absurdly excited when some random character was referred to as Hate Face in a bar during the run of (I think) L.E.G.I.O.N. in the 90s. And he's so tragic! I mean, how many other people are ugly enough that their epitaph bears the phrase 'revolting visage'? My guess? Not too many. Someday Hate Face. Someday, someone will tell your story.


Beast Boy: Eh. Beast Boy is the only one of this corpsey crew that had appeared pre-mortem. He was similar to the other Beast Boy (the green one) in that he could change into animals, but dissimilar in that he was a complete wuss. He got all upset and quit his super-team and declared war on humanity or something because people sometimes found it disconcerting when he turned into a huge alien bear or whatever. Then he got killed saving a child, so everything was alright. Booooring.


Nimbok of Vaalor: I gotta say: the people of Vaalor need a good editor. First off, they really shouldn't refer to themselves as 'his alien race' on the tomb of their planet's champion. Secondly, they need to clear something up a bit more: was the sorcerer disguised as his best friend or did Nimbok (great name) think that the sorcerer himself was his buddy when really he wasn't?

Thirdly, nobody should end an epitaph with an exclamation point.


Leeta 87: Another great name; another horrible tomb-rocket. Is it possible that the best picture that anyone had of Leeta 87 was the one in which she is about to crack her skull open? Is there a connection to the fact that her rocket is shaped like a cocktail shaker? Was Leeta 87 a drunk? Does 'innumerable enemies' really mean 'innumerable martinis'?


Still awful.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Review of an Oath, by Johnathan

Ugh. I had to work late today, so I'm beat. Just a wee little review for y'all.

I think that 'Hot socks!' is possibly the best exclamation ever. It beat 'Holy cats!' and 'Leaping Lizards!' hands down. The fact that he said this almost makes up for the fact that Air Wave II was a total lamazoid.


Monday, October 01, 2007

High-Tech Tomorrow: Review of 3-D TV, By Johnathan

Action Comics No. 287: The Legion of Super-Heroes put on a show for the folks at home, who're watching on their fabulous 3-D TVs.

Now, the first thing that I have to say about this is that the 3-D TV isn't that great. For one thing, it's huge. I mean, we could probably make a 3-D TV smaller than that right now, let alone a thousand years from now. TV technology is advancing faster than, say research into anti-Alzheimer's treatments, so we can reasonably expect that our 50-times great-grandchildren won't be watching their stories on something the size of a Baby Grand piano. Also, and this is assuming that a fad for hyper-minimalism doesn't set in around 2962, there should be a background or something. I mean, come on. Little men in a box do not entertainment make. Unless they're leprechauns.

Beyond this, though, is something much more troubling. Judging by this family, the people of the future have lost all trace of our current media-savvy, hyper-aware jadedness. Look at them, drooling and believing what they see - it almost turns your stomach, doesn't it? How can they be so content with such a meager plot? How can they offer up such non-irony-laden TV-related conversation? It just ain't natural. I can just hear them on the commercial break:

Futureman: I say, Mother. It seems that Pepsi is the drink of a new generation.

Futurewife: It's been said that it's the right one, baby.

Futurechild: Uh-huh!

These people are going to get taken to the cleaners.