Sunday, December 16, 2007

Aliens and Their Schemes: Review of Adventure Comics No. 337, Part 2

*I accidentally published this before it was even started and I'm far too lazy to upload all of these pictures to another post, so enjoy what I've written so far. I'll be hitting 'Publish Post' periodically as I write.

Update: busy week! Christmas parties and other such social engagements, oh my! Plus I seem to have managed to start dating a girl. Never fear, though: it'll be done before Christmas.

Other update: One last push! damn tiredness! Damn crankyness! Do it, Johnathan! Do it for all those kids out there that won't have a proper Christmas unless they know how the middle part of this comic ends and what your thoughts on that are! Get in there and review!

Fourth update: I am a broken man with a full social calender. Looks like this might have to wait another day or so to be finished. Sorry, forks.

Updated update: bah. time to try something new. See the end of the post.

Here I am, back again to discuss the middle portion of Adventure Comics No. 337. As you may recall, when we left the Legion they were agitated over the threat of a possible invasion of the Earth by sickly-looking aliens. Meanwhile, romance was in bloom at Legion HQ and Brainiac 5 wasn't too happy about it. Awright, let's get back to the action! Er, I mean, the adventure!

So, the aliens are all worked up about a secret 'Plan-R' that the Legion claims is a foolproof fail-safe in the event of a war of the worlds or what have you. Since they have all superpowers, the three orange-clad chaps figure that the simplest way to find out what Plan-R is is to grab a Legionnaire and extract the info.

I've got to say: without the yellow skin these guys look a lot like older versions of Eddie Munster. Maybe their planet is like one of those worlds on Star Trek where the whole society is based around a spy novel or gangster films - maybe these guy come from the Munster Planet and the Eddies are the military branch of their society. They should totally be wearing his short-pants getup instead of orange jumpsuits, though.

And that's why Saturn Girl is the Legionnaire not to ambush. She's always able to call for backup - come on, Eddies, do a little research before you set out to kidnap a lady. Didn't Grandpa teach you anything?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I'm ever knocked out I sincerely hope that I'll have to presence of mind to mutter something about how I'm losing consciousness before I go under. Especially if it's something unlikely, as the more information that you manage to squeeze out before going down for the count, the more points that you get. Xaxan there managed an Analysis of What Hit Me followed by a Double Status Report, which is pretty good if this is his first time.

This panel isn't terribly funny but it's kind of important to the plot, so here it is. Yup. Everyone's looking pretty sharp here - classic costumes, real big forehead on Superboy...

Moving on:

One thing about that old rocket-shaped headquarters: it wasn't very big. You were practically guaranteed a crowd for any important announcements you wanted to make, even if it was mostly male Legionnaires with nothing better to do. Take note: it's not explicit here but that old Legion bylaw about married members getting chucked out on their ears is cropping up. Because there's no room for partnerships in a team, right?

That's actually a really lovely drawing of Phantom Girl. Just sayin' is all.

Legion wedding preparations:

Girls' side first: I think that what Saturn Girl is saying that her crazy, mixed-up planet/moon Titan has the way-out, super-alien tradition of... an official of some sort conducting the ceremony. Uh, wow... that's super crazy and futuristic, Titan. Way to try. I mean, you could have went the same way as the Bismollians and had some sort of talking dog do the deed, but you stuck to your guns. Your incredibly boring, individually-numbered, matte gray guns.

Looking forward to seeing Phantom Girl's dress, though. I hear that it's beautiful.

Boy's side: Jewel Painting, meh. Giant pearls (or possibly giant pears), meh. Wait a second...




So all kinds of planets sent wedding presents to Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, eh? Jewel paintings and giant pearls/pears and, uh, golf trophies, possibly. And then Mon-El shows up on planet Kavoom with his arms full of the jewel├ęd treasures of the galaxy and - and I'm just guessing here - they collectively go "Oh crap, we knew there was something that we had to do today. Uh, hold on." And then they collectively grab the first thing that they can get their collective hands on, toss it in a sack and send Mon-El packing as quickly as possible.

I don't like the looks of this thing, frankly. It's got creepy ears. It's got to be the Kavoomian equivalent of a sewer rat or something, that or Kavoomites are freaky-ass people. Look at the way it's sizing Lightning Lad up. It's getting ready to either eat him or rob him. No, the House Pet From Planet Kavoom (incidentally, the title of a long-running series of holo-horror films on Kavoom's nearest planetary neighbour) is completely



Now, the first time that I read this I missed the comment that Saturn Girl made about wedding wands earlier and I thought that the little action-figures-on-sticks thing was some sort of doofy Legion tradition. Not that that didn't make sense, though, what with the Legion's habit of making new statues of themselves at the drop of a hat. In fact, speaking of hats, I am more than a little surprised that there's not a Silver Age tale in which Superboy shows up in the future only to find all of his pals walking around wearing hats that look like themselves for some Holiday of Tomorrow.

Phantom Girl's dress, by the way? Stunning. It's amazing the effect a veil can have on the outfit that you wear every day. Sheesh. Was she afraid that Ultra Boy wouldn't recognize her without a big 'P' on her chest? Actually... it is Ultra Boy we're talking about here. And the official? Didn't disappoint. Dull as powdered fruit punch.

When I get married/if I ever get married I'm going to try my damnedest to have all of my groomsmen carry a little action figure of themselves on a stick and then present them to me at the end of the reception. This will have two effects: firstly, having a wedding tradition that can be traced to a single issue of a 1960s comic book will firmly cement my position as King of All the Nerds. Secondly, the question of what exactly to do with five or six action figures on sticks with no practical use but high sentimental value will be a recurring theme in my marriage, coming up at least as often as we move or rearrange the furniture. Heck, it might come up in the divorce proceedings.

Here's where we get into the original reason for this interminable review. Switching to Super-Human Detritus mode... now!

So, following the double wedding (and double honeymoon? Scandal!) and subsequent resignation of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy, the Legion finds itself short-handed and sets up a try-out (hooray!)!

This is my favourite thing in the whole comic: that the idea of whole planets dressing in exactly the same clothing had become so accepted in Legion of Super-Heroes comics that the Eddie Munster Squad figured that by turning into three white guys with different hair and clothes no one would ever think to connect them with each other. I bet that there were all kinds of crazy ceremonies and ritual punishments associated with wearing the costume of another world, like how Canadians give a formal spanking to anyone from another country that they catch wearing a toque.

The failing applicants at this try-out are all members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. My thoughts on this stalwart bunch are detailed elsewhere, so I've omitted most of 'em. As an example, however, I present the panel featuring the love of my life (were I 2-dimensional and nine hundred and some-odd years into the Silver Age DC Universe's future and not in competition with a human magnet and not dating a lovely Nordic lass), Night Girl!

You're a fool, Brainiac 5! A fool!


Moving on yet again:

The aliens-in-disguise show up to show off. First up is Size Lad, who can change the size of things. Hmmm. Um... well, it's a super-power, I guess. Really, though, this guy should be the proud new owner of a Legion Consolation Flight Belt. If my dear Night Girl can't get in, there's no reason that this schmuck should. In what situation (and keep in mind that I will disregard all reasonable suggestions) will this power prove useful to the Legion? Perhaps they will go to the beach and wish to show a little more skin and so ask Size Lad to shrink their bathing suits down for them? Perhaps they'll get an unusually small sandwich at the Food-o-mart? Bah.

Even though he's got an impressive profile, Size Lad is


Well, I can't very well object to Blackout Boy's powers, seeing as how I like Shadow Lass so much. I can, however get all snotty about the fact that after admitting this guy no one from the Legion thought to run out and grab Night Girl. Someone who's super-powers only work in the dark plus someone who makes darkness? Those are what's known as complimentary powers, kids. Grr grr grr. A very spiteful


From what I understand of Magnetic Kid's powers, he's got a pretty limited palatte of solutions to choose from in the event of a problem. Is it time to break up a bar fight? Well, they can't keep fighting if they're in a big pile on top of Magnetic Kid! Fatal Five attacking? Not from on top of Magnetic Kid, they're aren't! Got to stop a giant robot? Don't look at Magnetic Kid, sorry. "Pulling people toward me" really doesn't seem like a Legion-worthy super-power, unless of course they expect to be having a lot of tugs-of-war in the near future.

I do like how he messed with Brainiac 5 there, though. So:


Well, this isn't working. Much as I hate to bite Blockade Boy's style, the only way that I'm going to finish is by working on a panel or two at a time. Fun!

My behavior: NOT APPROVED

Adventure Comics No. 337: REVIEW DEFERRED

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Review of Adventure Comics No. 337, part 1, By Johnathan

This was merely going to be a plain old ‘Super-Human Detritus’ review of three nutty Legion applicants, but upon rereading the issue of Adventure Comics that they made their shameful appearance in I discovered that it was an almost quintessential Legion story, jam-packed with far-future hijinks! And so I present to you a review of the whole damn comic, including all manner of interesting asides.

(Later) It was also going to be one long review, with maybe thirty images and so forth, but it turns out that I'm still recovering from the weekend. Prepare for installments!

The tale opens with an exciting, action-packed board meeting! Today’s topic: the weekly invasion of the Earth. First, though, we need to decide who’s bringing what to the Klordny Day potluck. Sun Boy, are you still bringing the condiments and napkins? Terrific.

Man, I wish that this wasn’t just a colouring error and that Brainiac 5 really did turn grayish-purple when he got angry. It would lend a whole new dimension to his super-logical behavior of later years. “Brainiac, are you sure that you’re not mad about how we ate all of the jelly doughnuts while you were in the bathroom? Because you’re starting to look like a week-old eggplant again.”

But seriously, Brainiac, do you honestly expect to have a long strategy-oriented meeting involving twenty or so teenagers of various genders and maintain the room’s full attention the whole time? My friends are all in their mid- to late twenties and I have a hard time getting them organized to do something that they want to do, let alone listen to me give a long speech about threats to our security (not that that stops me from giving such speeches). You’re just lucky that Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl aren’t furtively groping each other under the table whilst Sun Boy and Superboy ignore you in favour of a detailed conversation about how their moustaches are coming in.

I’m assuming that these two panels are just here for exposition purposes and not to show that Brainiac 5 went around after the meeting delivering his speech to every Legionnaire individually. Plus that’s an awkward sentence being spewed forth by Superboy in the second one. Although, come to think of it, it might be fun to do, say at work (“I, the editor, will use my Bachelor of English to search for extraneous punctuation.”) or at the comic bookshop (I, the giant nerd, will use my Blogger account to bitch about Countdown.”). It could clear up a lot of ambiguity about people’s upcoming goals and the means by which they will achieve them!

I love the old standby of making something alien by making it super big, like that wedding ring. But honestly: who sets up an exhibit on marriage customs in a museum for use by a group of people who aren’t allowed to get married? If I could think up any super-villains who were also museum curators I would certainly be suspicious (Composite Superman? Dammit, no. He was a museum janitor). Well, it was someone with a mean streak, anyway.

Also, Lightning Lad is an idiot. Robot arms make you way more loveable, man. It’s like, a million times more extreme than that lip ring/soul patch combo you were thinking about.

Oh, how I love the Phantom Girl/ Ultra Boy duo. Look at him: that’s possibly the goofiest, most lovestruck expression I’ve ever seen in a comic book. That big dumb ox is just so darned endearing.

You know, I’d think that Brainiac 5 might be more interested in harnessing the crazy energy that everyone was giving off in that first panel, instead of being all snarky. I mean, necking teenagers as a power source? The implications are mind-blowing!

I like these aliens because they mostly just look like someone kept messing with a drawing of a regular guy until he looked slightly inhuman. “Let’s see… give ‘em big ears, an overbite, a widow’s peak, heavy brows… aaaaand… jaundice. Yeah, that’s pretty otherworldly.”

Huh. Turns out that the first third of this story's mostly setup. Well, I assure you that there will be action aplenty in our next installment, along with even more nitpicking and taking things out of context!

Adventure Comics No. 337, you'll get your judgement when I get some more plot.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Review of the Reviewers, By Johnathan

It occurs to me that now that I've lured Paul back to the reviewing I should take a moment to explain just what's going on here. Paul's a programmer and computer nerd, while I'm an editor and comic book nerd. "But wait," you shout, "this blog is filled with typos and misplaced punctuation. What the hell kind of editor are you?" Answer: the kind that doesn't really feel like editing after a long day of editing, that's what kind.

The site's based on an old idea that we had in high school about how we'd become famous consumer advocates or something like that and stamp products with JOHN APPROVED or PAUL APPROVED for money because our opinion was so valued. Come to think of it, I'd still like to do that. Anyone want cheap endorsements?

Anyway, now you know the crazy, unknown story.

JOHN APPROVED (narcissism!)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


A long time ago I did some research about the amount of virtual deaths that occur per minute in just one counter-strike server... on average (conservative estimate) 10 per minute.


In Eve Online these sorts of stats are available in real time.* Ships destroyed in the last Hour? Escape pods destroyed in last hour?

When you don't want to get busted up by some higher upper guy you tend to stray away from systems where the death stats are climbing. In counter-strike, on most servers, the bodies stay on the ground until the round is over so you can count them. In eve online the bodies float around in space so you can collect them. Each body is labeled so you will always be able to get a reference to they guy that died... who has been reborn again in some clone vat somewhere.

Of course i got as many as I could of course. Many people ask what eve online is all about. I always tell them wait and see. What ever it is will be happening sometime. That time is approaching.

When I play, no matter what I always end up on local giving away money. Its sort of like committing suicide as the only thing with any real value is game currency as it what you use to buy your extra lives. The idea of surprising people while devaluing the only thing of value got me thinking.

In game, I am ctrlcctrlvctrlx. A mean looking black man from the future with a name that no one can pronounce or even parse for that matter. They call me ctrl. Ok thats enough of that.

It started like this:

someguyonlocal: Hey guys how do i tell the difference between the NPC and Player driven economy?
ctrlcctrlvctrlx: *snicker* its easy.
ctrlcctrlvctrlx: the people are the ones who want something for nothing.

Its true.

There was certainly a lot of in game market manipulation going on. All the economy geeks were there doing their imaginary trading talking like real brokers on vent and what ever.


There is one item in the eve item world which is not tracked by the eve market: Frozen Corpses. Its the one thing I could produce alone and potentially turn a profit. If you disconnect yourself form the potential loss of skills(omg my skills!) and just go with it the corpse economy just flows. Clone yourself. Kill yourself. Get your old corpse. Sell your corpse. $.

It seemed so simple. But no one wanted my product. What the corpse economy was missing was: Demand. I had to supply the demand.

On local I started offering people game currency for corpses. My starting price was 250 thousand game currency. I quickly escalated my offers to 500 thousand. 2 for a million. In stead of insurance, I sold them assurance that their body was worth something to me.


Some people actually traded their dead to me for game currency. This I expected. I wanted to get the attention of the economy geeks who watch the market. I wanted them to start talking about me on vent. But then the strangest viral intuition spread through their minds. They suddenly found reason to keep their bodies around. They were afraid that the were worth something. That perhaps something could be harvested from them... something. But you can make as many copies as you want! People are the mode of production in the corpse economy. You can have copies of me. I can have copies of you. We'll be rich!

It was ... sort of working but it was more like everyone suddenly found out they had some sort of secret economic weapon.
I dunno. I stopped generating corpses.

To this day the Eve Online game economy refuses to track the value of the FROZEN CORPSE.

The great thing about eve is that you don't have to play to play. But you do have to pay to not play. Dumb.

* Actually that wasn't the first thing I noticed.
This was the first thing that I noticed:

Customer (paul pettipas) - 11/02/2005 05:06 AM
I am having a great deal of difficulty imagining how it is exactly that my space ship is slowing down. Space is broken. And what I mean is that ...its fundamental emptiness has been compromised and I can tell you that what ever is out there is quite dense.

Despite that I have been able to pass through large objects with little to no resistance. This I also find odd. Although...this ability is quite advantageous and I don't really want to tell the other space travelers about it as it might compromise what could eventually prove a significant tactical advantage.



Super-Human Detritus of the Thirtieth Century: Review of Double-Header, by Johnathan

Bah. I had meant to do a somewhat meatier review tonight, but I'm tired and drinking beer and won't be good for much pretty soon, so it's Double-Header for you. Bah again. Later this week I'll tackle the somewhat weightier likes of Size Lad, Magnetic Kid and Blackout Boy, as I feel a strange compulsion to get as many Super-Human Detritus-related posts done as I can before the next issue of Action Comics comes out. I mean, what if Jungle King's there and I haven't spoken of him yet?

Anyway, Double-Header. One of those failed Legion applicants who I've been meaning to get around to for quite a while now. Thanks to the exceedingly thorough Jeff Rovin and his Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes I've both known of Double-Header and wondered why he/they ever bothered trying out for the LSH for much longer than I've known what he/they looked like. Here, take a look (ignore Spider Girl's crushed spirit and hot pants):

Note that not only does he/do they have tow grotesque heads but they kind of have two super-hero logos, too, if a couple of check marks count as a logo. That panel is really the clincher on Double-Header's claim to being the most throwaway Legion applicant of all time, really. I mean, usually a failed tryer-outer has one panel to declare how awesome they are ("I can shoot miniature suns from my nose!") before the one or two panels required to showcase the negative side to their powers or to demonstrate what a screwup they are ("I fuel my power with the hearts of Andorran Love-Puppies!", "Oops! I accidentally repeatedly kicked Sun Boy in the genitals!"). Double-Header lost the second he showed up. I mean, what does he really have to offer? "I can shout as loud as two guys, though I am one." That's all I can really think of, aside from "I can make you extra uncomfortable if I ask you out on a date."

The two extra panels really just add insult to injury:

Not only does Double-Header have two extra-ugly heads, but they hate each other. Jeez...

Whenever I find mention of Double-Header on the Internet there's some mention of how he's got two heads because he's very slowly splitting into two identical guys. I've never found any mention of this in the comics themselves, so I'm guessing that that little tidbit of information originated in a letters page or an interview or something, possibly as a result of his/their appearance in DC Comics Presents No. 59:

The separated head is a marked improvement, I must say, though:

It does manage to gross out the Ambush Bug.

The heads also seem to be getting along better in this appearance, which is nice. I hope that I can be pals with any heads that might sprout from me in the future. Further, I hope that the 'splitting in two' thing is kept up in any future appearances of the character and that he/they show up as basically two guys, joined at the extremities, so that they look like a couple of people holding hands while participating in a three-legged race.

In anticipation of this, Double-Header is JOHN APPROVED.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Review of Gordon by Paul

John is right I do have a cat and he is called Gordon. He is Gordon because there are way too many Daves already. His name is not a reference. Gordon is Gordon recursively.

I have been taking note of his various Gordony assumptions and ideas.

Looking at the door makes it open
I can get behind the stove
I can climb that guys leg
I can eat from that guys bowl
I am going to take a nap
I can detect the right density of clumps to usable litter
I can get inside this thing
I can knock this thing over
I can chase the string
The toilet has water too
That guy will never catch me
This thing fits in my mouth
That thing has its own motive force
I can catch that bright red dot
Humans give me food
This spot is warm
The red dot is coming back soon


It would be interesting to try and break down all of the possible ideas Gordon has and predict the possible combinations. I have deduced most of his discoveries but I am sure there are more. Gordonous!

Although I do not approve of all of his ideas
I approve of Gordon.


Review of Personal Effort, By Johnathan

Introducing: a happenin' new title image! I'm pretty happy with the way this thing turned out - now if I can just get the various font colours and such to look as nice...

PS: If it looks like the banner was made furtively using office supplies, that's because it was (note to anyone from work who might read this: no it wasn't).


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Shame Review, By Johnathan

In an effort to shame Paul into posting more than once per year, I'm going to review his new kitten, Gordon.

Gordon is a completely awesome kitten with ADHD. He can change directions so quickly that watching him run around is like watching a Scooby-Doo chase scene - no matter where you just saw him go you have no idea where he's going to reemerge. He scales people like ladders. Last night Gordon jumped off my shoulder, got distracted by a laser halfway down and crash-landed on the couch.

Gordon, you are unreservedly JOHN APPROVED