Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review Review Review, A passel of excuses, by Johnathan

Actually, no excuses here. I just got really lazy after doing all of those holiday-style posts. The next post, though, is my Two Hundredth! Rest assured that I will either do something special or nothing special. We shall see. In the meantime, check out Superboy's giant head!

That is one enormous cranium, SB.


Uptade: was going to write a super-cool review tonight but fell deleriously sick. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. You people are too good to e.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Twelve, By Johnathan

Holy Hannah. I did it!

I mean *ahem* of course I did. And look: I planned things out ahead of time. After starting on the Legion Christmas tale in Adventure Comics No. 289 we wrap up with the Legion yarn from the Super-Star Holiday Special, which is very likely to make an appearance here next year as well.

The setup: Superboy is visiting the future yet again and it's Christmastime. He's oddly upset that the world of the one thousand years in the future is not full of familiar 1950s (or 1940s, or 60s or whenever Superboy was from at that point) holiday traditions. Saturn Girl tries to cheer him up with some old-fashioned invasion of privacy:

"To be shared only by close friends and whoever happens to be spying on them from the Clubhouse."

Karate Kid's tree isn't as nice as that one from the Adventure story. It's still cool and all, but there's just something about concentric rings...

Also, who here thinks that Sun Boy invited himself along to this thing? I for one would not take my main squeeze home for a "private tea ceremony" and also bring along my womanizing pal. Unless there's more to the KK/PP relationship than we were told... or less, I suppose.

Fireworks trees! Terrific, improbable, hazardous!

Forcing your friend to work because he doesn't celebrate the holiday that you're all taking off? Not cool.

I think that this might be the first time that we learn that Colossal Boy is Jewish, which was always a nice touch, especially as all of the black characters kept getting shuffled off to other dimensions or weren't black at all and then were killed. Colossal Boy is the face of Legion diversity, folks!

Not sure if it's necessary for him to be so big, though, even if the Allons do have a gigantic dining room. My brother is in the army, and we discourage him from showing up at dinnertime in full camouflage and armed. This seems similar to me - "Look everyone! I'm a super-hero!"

Here's something for you to think about, Superboy: you flew to the future under your own power. You could very easily jaunt off to Smallville for Christmas, or go back to watch the invention of the first piece of tinsel (and then take the inventor Hans Tinsel to the moon to fight 17th Century Dominators or something). The future is, after all, another country - you're acting like someone who goes to France and complains about the lack of English and Coors.

Now just calm down and...

... go completely over the top. Say one thing about Superboy, folks: he doesn't mess around. No candlelight service for him, no sir. No going to Bethlehem to check out possible manger sites or trying to summon the ghosts of the Wise Men or feeding Tenzil gold, frankincense and myrrh until he pukes Christmas spirit. No, it's time to fly to the Christmas star. Basically the only way to top that would be to travel back to watch Mary giving birth, but that's too obvious.

The rest of the story is concerned with the legion haring off on Superboy's mad quest and helping a planet full of fairly dumb aliens ("The ocean's freezing, huh? Well, I guess I'll just sit here and die.") It's okay, but the real attraction is the sheer scale that Superboy thinks on. And his super-demented facial expression.


All together now!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve beasts of lightning,
Eleven Tyrocs shouting,
Ten Stone Boys standing,
Nine Police sciencing,
Eight Trappers timing,
Seven boys a-bouncing,
Six Tenzils snacking,


Four head-shaped worlds,
Three Luornus,
Two Turtle Boys,
And a Brainy, out of his tree.

A retroactive happy whatever if you choose to celebrate something at this time of year, a good time anyway if you don't and may your smugness be extra satisfying if you're one of those types.

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Eleven, By Johnathan

Two of the many things that I'm a sucker for: a well-executed wordless comic story and Christmas sentiment.

This series of posts is basically turning into a guidebook on how to tug at my heartstrings, isn't it? Look at that! Bruce cares but he's too much of a (Bat)manly (Bat)man to tell Alfred to his face! Alfred is surprised and touched! I might have to go hug a puppy here!


This is from the DC Universe Holiday Bash. It and the Infinite Holiday Special are heartily recommended Christmas reading - the latter contains possibly the greatest Elseworlds yarn ever. I haven't gotten a chance to pick up this years holiday special yet (there was one, right?) but given DC's prior track record with anthology comics it should be great (tangent: and how great was it that there was a Tales From the Beanworld comic on the shelf this year? I've had Volume 1 sitting on my shelf for about a decade. Hearing that they're going t be reprinting these things was one of my many Christmas miracles this year).

"two Turtle Boys,"

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Ten, By Johnathan

DC Comics Presents No. 67! Superman and Santa Claus vs. the Toyman!

The story is nothing extraordinary (read: I couldn't find anything especially worth making fun of) - basically, Toyman starts hypnotizing children to steal from street corner Santas and the like and the real Santa Claus ends up getting in on the act. The part that got me (because I'm a sentimental fool, see?) is when Superman gets home, thinking that it was all just a dream or possibly an imaginary story, and ends up finding his beloved childhood toy in his cape pocket.

I'm tearing up!

I do like that it wasn't a toy wooden thought-beast or anything. No, Kryptonian children wouldn't play with anything so primitive. They get thought-powered illusion machines which sounds fun until you remember some of the things that you imagined as a child. man, I was fairly convinced that there were horrible creatures (wizened, gnomish creatures) literally around every corner for a while. I probably would have had a tiny heart attack if I'd have been able to see them.

Still, JOHN APPROVED. Nice one, Santa.

"three Luornus,"

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Nine, By Johnathan

One last panel from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special:

Included here because I read it two or three times before I realized that Batman was handing the present to that little girl. I kind of thought that he was just standing there glaring at her for calling him an angel. After all, six year-olds are a cowardly, superstitious lot. And Batman is real grumpy.


"Four head-shaped planets,"

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Eight, By Johnathan

This one's from 1997's DC Universe Holiday Bash, back when there were still New Gods:

Now I know that I've already declared the title of Best Santa Ever, but I think that Highfather definitely comes in at a strong number two. Also, "moth-eaten hippie Abe Lincoln."

The story: a mall manager or owner or something sees Highfather and Orion wandering around and thinks that they're his Santa crew, based on ambient beard-magnificence, I guess. Highfather being, like, eight feet tall doesn't seem to be a problem for the guy until the costume doesn't fit.

Don't worry, though - Christmas isn't ruined. Tallpop uses his amazing power to make everything portentous and:

... ends up looking pretty cool! Not to be outdone, Orion puts his mind/Mother Box to things and becomes...

Actually, he becomes a pretty terrifying elf.

The rest of the story plays out kind of like that scene in Hogfather (by Terry Pratchett, natch) where Death is doing the mall Santa thing, though just the heartwarming stuff - no pig urine jokes. Check this out:


Dude, Highsanta is huge.

Such a great Christmas story. Right up there with the Justice League where Plastic Man claims that Santa has heat vision (that one's for next year, I'm afraid).



Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Seven, By Johnathan

Ag! It's the Twelfth Day of Christmas, kids! And the last day of my vacation! Do I have the discipline and mental fortitude necessary to finish these posts within my own Very Important Time Limit, or will you be reading this stuff until Groundhog Day? Stay tuned!

Today's lesson, from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special:

If ever you find yourself a grim avenger of the night with a semi-pathological fear of women and also a billionaire playboy with "eligible bachelor" status, Christmastime is a time for looking up.

Also, that lady with the blue hair is doing a great job of foiling two of her rivals.

Also also, the rest of this story features Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy on a shopping spree on Bruce's dime. It's well worth a read. In fact, it's JOHN APPROVED.

"six Tenzils snacking,"

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Six, By Johnathan

I don't touch on Hellboy a lot on this blog, because I mostly like writing about things that I like but that are also demonstrably flawed in some way (not a bad thing, I swear) and to me at least Mike Mignola's extended Hellboy family of books is just pure fun. But it's the Twelve Days of Christmas Special, for heaven's sake! So here's something from "A Christmas Underground", collected in The Chained Coffin and Others:

Hellboy's on a case to help an old lady - No more details for you! Buy the book! - at Christmastime. But who does she think he is, other than a giant red detective?

That's a super panel-to-panel change. I really should have left them side by side but it would have spoiled the suspense (the incredible suspense!).

There's some stuff in the middle (still not going to tell you, nyah) and then Hellboy offers up some Christmas sentiment:

Man, I love that - the guy has great dialogue out the wazoo. This is one of my favourite short Hellboy yarns, not the least because of that little postscript. In a very weird way, this is one of the more heartwarming Christmas comics I know.


"seven boys a-bouncing,"

Friday, January 02, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Five, By Johnathan

From the DCU Infinite Holiday Special:

It's always a hoot to see the ol' Phantom Stranger step out of character for a bit, possibly because it's easy to believe that he has a sense of humour and the absurd in him somewhere. Unlike, say, the Batman of the last 10-15 years. This ranks up there with him showing up with groceries in Seven Soldiers for my favourite Stranger moments.


Happy New Year, folks! So far, 2009 is highly JOHN APPROVED!

"eight Trappers timing,"