Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century: Review of Absorbancy Boy, By Johnathan

Due to file corruption, you will never get to read the totally neato review that I wrote yesterday. Instead, a totally neato review that I'm writing today!

So: Absorbancy Boy, the villain of the hour over in Action Comics right now. Who'd have thought? Definitely not me or I'd have reviewed him by now, instead of spelling his name wrong while writing about Infectious Lass.

Here's our first look at the future Earth Man, fresh from a character-building dose of soul-crushing disappointment:

I have to say: I kind of like that costume, even if it looks a bit like something an evil version of Animal Man would wear (alternate versions of that comment: like something that Earth-3 Animal Man would wear; even though it makes him look like Anne Rice's Animal Man).

I kind of like him looking grumpy over top of that explanatory caption - it's as if he got a job as a continuity editor, like Affable Al and friends back in the day, but he wasn't really very happy about it. Curmudgeonly Kirt?

Putting aside the fact that I know that the guy turned out to be a complete ass and later a super-villain, at this point in the tale my sympathies are with A-Boy. As I understand it, having his power (absorbing and utilizing residual superhuman energies) on hand would allow the Legion to basically double up on any power that they need, as well as having someone on hand who could use a super-powered enemy's abilities agin 'em. Too limited, Legion? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, actually.

My personal theory is that Absorbancy Boy was pre-rejected based on his name. After years of crazy applicants the Legionnaires were probably terrified that some guy in a bright yellow costume was going to come trundling in towing a big tub of water, which he would then proceed to empty using the super-porous tissues of his ass cheeks. If he'd only named himself after his most impressive features, then Muttonchop Lad or perhaps Sideburn Squire would be running around with the Legion to this day.

Meanwhile (and this is relevant to the review) Tyroc is being inducted into the Legion, but before he can even begin to enjoy the state-of-the-art Dungeons and Dragons arcade, the building is attacked by Zoraz, an "old foe" of the superteens who lurks in the ductwork and craves revenge for something or other. Supposedly, he has managed to steal the Legionnaires' genetic information from their central storage area (though I wouldn't think that it would be hard to collect genetic material in a building full of teenagers. From all of the laundry that they'd leave everywhere, I mean). From this he has worked out exactly how to counter each Legionnaire's powers, information that he seems a bit too eager to use, honestly. Causing Star Boy to make himself heavy enough to sink into the floor is one thing, but taking out Dream Girl by beaming nightmares into her skull? That seems like overkill, really. Don't get me wrong, Dream Girl's a great Legionnaire, just not one renowned for her incredible combat skills. A good sock to the jaw would probably be as effective as any three green faces that you could cause her to think about.

Anyway, Zoraz is eventually revealed to be a fake villain designed as a final test for incoming recruits. Tyroc actually seems pretty ticked off when he learns this, which is understandable given the number of hoops that he had to jump through in order to get in, while schmucks like Matter-Eater Lad and Dynamo-Boy just walked in off of the street.

Here's Zoraz's poorly-clad backside:

And the front:

But wait! That's not Sun Boy at all, it's Kid Cheek-Pelt! Our old friend from the first three panels has come back to prove himself worthy of the Legion. Heck, it worked for Wildfire - maybe it'll do all right by Absorbancy Boy.

Although a good first step in proving your worth, Absorbancy Boy, would have been keeping mum about how you've been hiding in the very first place that someone searching for Zoraz would have looked. I mean, jeez.

Oops. I was with you up to this point man, but really: beating up the guy who got into the Legion instead of you is not the way to get into the group. Just ask Phantom Lad - the last I heard he was working as an "Uncle Ghosty the Clown" mascot at one of a galaxy-wide chain of Bgtzl Fried Kangobronc restaurants.

Someone really should take that second panel out of context someday.

Fight scene!

Not bad, A-Boy. You've definitely got some serious chops. If only you'd gone about this in a more reasonable and thought-out manner instead of stomping in and being a total dick. Talk about things instead of hitting Superboy and maybe people will listen to you.

Battle of the spread-legged joes! This is where Tyroc really underlines just how great, if pantsless, he is:

Two-panel takedown! BONK! indeed, mister Tyroc. You truly have demonstrated that you are worthy to wear those extreme collars. You know, Tyroc himself has fairly impressive facial hair - had this little scrap lasted longer it could've been classed as a Heavyweight Muttonchop Rumble. Tickets could've been sold! I'm sorry. That was terrible but, hey, it's past my bedtime. Things are only going to go downhill from here.

Absorbancy Boy, though your muttonchops are JOHN APPROVED, you yourself are a total oaf. The best thing that can be said about you is that you are an efficient way for the muttonchops to get from place to place and spread the joy that is their gift to the world. For your thoughtless violence and for eventually becoming a full-fledged xenophobic semi-tyrannical super-villain you are


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Review of disappointment, By Johnathan

Aw, hell. I wrote a review of Absorbancy Boy at work today and somehow it disappeared from my memory stick on the way home. I shall wow you with it tomorrow night, I'm afraid.


This picture of Brainiac 5 looks about as bad as I feel about this.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Review of Future Current Events, By Johnathan


Holy shit! I've been picking up the recent issues of Action Comics, first because of Bizarro and then keeping it up because of the LSH story that has been rocking the proverbial house. It's been neat to read what is essentially a retro Legion story and a well-told one at that, so this week I cracked open Action Comics No. 859 with all expectation of enjoyment and I'm all like "Neat! the Batcave!" and then this happens:

!!! Holy shit again! This issue was written especially for me! It's the Legion of Super-Human Detritus! Honestly, Golden Boy? Storm Boy? this is fantastic! Wait... check this:

A handy picture guide. Compare and contrast character designs!

The appearance of Absorbancy Boy/Earth-Man really threw me for a loop. A-Boy originally showed up in Superboy No. 218. He got rejected from the Legion - despite his glorious muttonchops and ability to absorb and utilize residual superhuman energies - and stood by and glowered whilst Quake Kid tried to score with Infectious Lass. He then weaseled his way back into the clubhouse to try to interfere with Tyroc's induction into the Legion, only to be beaten down by the Mauler from Marzal himself. How much do I want Tyroc to show up at the end of this story for a rematch? Very, very much.

I see that The Tusker and Golden Boy have been toughened up a bit for this appearance - I shall refrain from making a joke about Golden Boy turning himself into gold by masturbating (no I won't).

Wait, if the Tusker has unbreakable bones then what happened to his tooth?

And so on. My thoughts on these characters have been logged on the Internets for all to read. I love them all, even as I love to mock them. I'm just super glad that the Legion of Throwaway Characters is getting their time in the sun. Sure hope that The Mess shows up before this is all through (Alternate version of this joke that I forgot to use: I sure hope that Lester Spiffany is behind all of this).

Thoroughly, totally JOHN APPROVED

Friday, November 16, 2007

Johnathan Presents: Another Review of Showcase Presents, By Johnathan

A while back I did a mass-review of all of the Showcase Presents books that I had purchased. Well, I just keep on buying those things - due to my overpowering weakness for the Silver Age - and so it's time for more of that.

Showcase Presents: Adam Strange

All of the old stories about Adam Strange getting zapped to Rann via Zeta Beam so that he can kick alien ass and score with alien ladies (well, lady). I'm pretty fond of the little pre-adventure that Adam always gets into whilst getting his ass to the site of the incoming beam. Also fun: the sheer amount of trouble that the Rannians get themselves into ("Adam Strange! In the month that you were away we were conquered by robots! Again!"). Finally, a true statement: Adam Strange has the best helmet in comics.


Showcase Presents: The Atom

Good fun. Ray Palmer gets into all sorts of scraps as a tiny man. Like Green Lantern, this comic made an attempt to pass itself off as hard science fiction, with plenty of super-scientific explanations for stuff like shrinking physicists, but readily flew off on crazy tangential plotlines to keep things interesting. The three basic plots of a Silver Age Atom story: 1) Ray Palmer shrinks in order to help his main squeeze Jean "will be evil someday" Loring solve a case so that she can become a successful lawyer and prove herself and then quit the law and marry Ray. 2) Ray Palmer encounters something weird whilst going about his daily business; shrinks. 3) Ray Palmer shrinks and travels into the past via his scientist pal's Time Hole. While in the past he fights injustice with a passion that makes lovers of causality cringe. Take that, historical figures! Take that, history!


Showcase Presents: Batman, Volume 2

Rachelle gave me this one for my birthday, whilst simultaneously foiling my plot to borrow Volume 1 from her by lending it to every other person in Halifax (this is a lie. It was just lent to Tiina [the Tea Devil]). I don't know if the first volume was a great as this, but I hope so. Featured were both the first appearance of the original Blockbuster, with his hatred for Batman yet love for Bruce Wayne, and the crazy-great saga of the Outsider. The Outsider, for those of you who have avoided 30 or 40 years of spoilers, was actually Batman's butler Alfred, who everyone thought was dead but who was only mostly dead and who was turned into a lumpy psychic monster by a well-meaning scientist. Ever since I read about this fantastic mishmash in Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Supervillains I wanted very much to read it, what with Robin getting turned into a coffin and all, so thanks again, Rachelle!


Showcase Presents: The Flash

Good solid Silver Age tomfoolery. Nothing other that the extremely unlikely origin of Kid Flash really sticks out in my memory, but rest assured that it's full of crazy crimes and stupid plots and all of the rest of the good stuff. I grew up with Wally West as the Flash, but i gotta say that Barry Allen was a helluva character.


Showcase Presents: Green Arrow

A lot of the comics that are collected in this one are actually from the late 50s, so they have a really neat feel to them, like the Batman comics of the same era. You can almost see the Comics Code symbol hovering over every character's shoulder, watching; judging. Anyway, Green Arrow and Speedy fight the crime and drive around in a great car (it launches them with catapults!) and meet at least two clowns who use wacky clown arrows to make folks laugh and then to fight crime in a crazy clown fashion. Plus, remember the Batmen of All Nations? Green Arrow has some too! Dudes from all over the world show up for a convention in his honour and bring their lava arrows and so forth - it's a hoot!


Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter

Haven't finished this one yet, but I'll tell you what my favourite thing about it is: that J'onn J'onzz isn't really a super-hero in his first batch of adventures, he's just a detective who happens to be an alien and have all kinds of crazy powers. I really wish that someone nowadays would write some comics focusing on that aspect of the Manhunter's personality. It seems like all of the J'onzz character development lately has had the effect of making him really alienated (ha!) from humanity, while in those early stories he had a whole lot of charm. I don't know. I just want a comic about a hard-boiled private eye who can turn invisible and is scared of fire and sometimes has a hound dog to hang out with. Oh! Also, his brother T'omm J'onzz shows up at one point!


Showcase Presents: Shazam!

This one's a lot of fun. They got C.C. Beck, the original artist for the character, to draw the DC comics revival, so everything looks fantastic. The stories are a bit child-oriented and entirely insane - my favourite character was Sunny Sparkle, the Nicest Kid in the World, who has it really tough because everyone loves him so much at first sight that they give him ridiculous and extravagant presents (and apparently name ponies after him). He just keeps donating the stuff to charity and declaring that he'll become a hermit when he grows up. I think that Sunny Sparkle Come Down Off the Mountain, with a tangled beard and a crazed look in his eyes and hordes of glassy-eyed, gift-bearing acolytes, is number 3 on my list of "characters that I wish would make an appearance in DC continuity", right after Carbon Monoxide Gangster and Parade Hater Horace. As for Shazam!, it's pretty great but it peters out at the end as the series hits hard times, but not before Dr Sivana goes on a crazy crime-spree road trip and Billy Batson and Uncle Dudley have to hop in their camper van and chase him all over the country. Whee!


Showcase Presents: World's Finest

I just got this one today, so I haven't read much of it, but what I have taken in is fantastic. Silver Age Batman and his pal Superman were each at least as concerned with keeping their secret identities safe as they were with, say, fighting crime, so when they got together all bets were off. Rachelle did a pretty great post about one of the messed-up adventures that resulted from this here. It's all Batman dressing up like Superman and then pretending to be Clark Kent while Superman's dressed up like Batman and also being Clark Kent and all to mess with Lois Lane's head... it's almost Shakespearian at times. Plus Superman and Batman are one of the most fun BFF pairs in comics, even without considering the subtextual homoeroticism - that's the icing on the cake!


I totally asked for many more of these things for Christmas, so there's certainly going to be more of these reviews, yay.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

High-Tech Tomorrow: Review of the Planetary Chance Machine, By Johnathan

A quick one:

This is from Adventure Comics No. 319, in which the Legion has a very dangerous mission against what turns out to be a couple of very old men. Before they can get the ageism train a-chuggin' off to Beat-the-Elderly Town, they have to be divided into teams for some reason - possibly because of drama.

This being the Thirtieth Century, those crazy kids don't just go 'eeny-meeny, etc' to choose folk, nor do they (god forbid) make logical team choices based on the skills, powers and personalities of various Legionnaires. No, they turn to the Planetary Chance Machine, because if the Legion has an unofficial motto, it's "Over-complicating everything through technology."

I'd just like to note that the Legion is attacking a planet. An eighth person on your team isn't going to make you much more noticeable, Sun Boy.

And that's the Planetary Chance Machine: better than, say, pulling names out of a hat because there's no way that the hat is going to pick a team consisting of Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Proty II, Bouncing Boy's chair, two walls of the Legion Clubhouse and Brainiac 5 again.

The really sad part is that this was the simplest thing that they could come up with. I happen to know that by the Thirtieth Century Paper, Rock, Scissors has become a months-long strategy game involving thousands of tiny robots that are made out of the game's three elements, while the 'straws' involved in drawing straws are carbon nanotubes, each a light-second long, that must be drawn with a small space-tug and subjected to microscopic analysis to determine which is the shortest. Hot Potato is still pretty fast but humans aren't allowed to play it any more due to a poorly-worded treaty with the Dominion.

The Planetary Chance Machine made one more appearance in the Legion of Substitute Heroes special:

Did anyone else think that Fire Lad looked creepy in this one?

Poor Subbies. The don't get no breaks.

Planetary Chance Machine, for disrespectin' the Substitute Heroes you are:


Not actually from the future, but still high-tech and from Dev-Em's appearance in Adventure Comics No. 320. Presenting Krypton's favourite game, Interplanetary Scramble!

I seriously wish that Earth had cannon-based party games - maybe then alien races would give us props like they do the Kryptonians, who didn't even know the difference between Interplanetary and Intraplanetary, for Rao's sake (and, uh, who didn't listen to their top scientist when he said the planet was going to blow up and then got blown up)! I bet it would bring families together like no-one's business, plus every once in a while someone's brother would get mad at them and they'd have to come to school with a bunch of Cyrillic characters printed across their forehead.

Intraplanetary Scramble is completely JOHN APPROVED.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Review of Interlac, By Johnathan

Interlac: it's one of those things that you have to put up with if you're a Legion of Super-Heroes fan, just like how you have to put up with Jason if you're a fan of the Argonauts. Interlac is the language of the future, but also kind of the language of today. That is, it's what everyone on Earth speaks a thousand years from now but also apparently what basically everyone else in the galaxy speaks in the present-day DC Universe, which is how, say, Aquaman can have a meaningful conversation with, say, Kanjar Ro.

Now, I don't exactly know what Interlac sounds like and I don't know the fake history of this fake language (Okay, I just looked it up and there really doesn't seem to be one. Wikipedia claims that it's just a future language, but I don't believe it) so I'm going to be dealing with it on a purely aesthetic/utilitarian level.

First off, here's the Interlac alphabet and number system:

This character map is a bit more comprehensive than the one I used to use, which had only one symbol per letter. Until I saw the vertical-line-as-capitalization innovation I had assumed that the future was a place where everyone wrote all in caps, all the time, i.e., a place where I would be angry all the time. Instead, looking at some nearby Legion comics, it seems that most of humanity never ever capitalizes, which is both more tolerable and more understandable, as that looks like a pain in the ass.

Speaking of ass-pain, take a look at those letters. I figure that there has to be a simplified written version of this alphabet, because otherwise, these already-too-complex characters would take for-freakin'-ever to write, what with all of the little notches and cutouts and so forth. Until I remembered that Interlac wasn't just an Earthian future-language I had figured that it was the result of font-design gone berserk. I mean, look at that 'o' - what's the point of the little notch? I'll tell you the point: to look all futuristic. Can't you just picture some dude in California circa 2345 putting all this together in an attempt to make the place look more like the future? Now I'm forced to believe instead that the race that originally came up with these letters had some sort of collective physical or psychological tic that left them unable to draw a proper circle.

I really can't get over the unnecessary complexity of these letters. Let's try an experiment: I'll write my name in a few different alphabets. ready?

Ignore the slantiness, please. I gotta say: it was a hell of a lot easier to write my name in ancient runes than in Interlac. It doesn't look quite as pretty as usual there, does it? Maybe all the people of the future write with fat markers or giant calligraphy pens or something.

In any case, Interlac is completely


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Not a Review (Plus a Bonus Review of Not a Review), By Johnathan

Gosh darn it I suck - rest assured, however, that I have big update plans. I'm just Slacky McSlackenstein over here.

(Posting a non-review on a site dedicated [however flimsily] to reviewing? NOT APPROVED)