Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Brokeback Titanic"

I gotta address Superman/Batman Annual #1 because it's a comic that's ripping the DC fanbase clean in two. Love it or hate it, you have to admit it's odd.

I am of the camp that totally loved it. It was completely silly and over-the-top but...it was also completely silly and over-the-top. More than anything, I am just surprised that they took the joke so far with the big two characters.

The Superman/Batman series has been a bit of a joke since it started. It's not bad by any means. It is certainly a little mushy (who am I kidding? It's practically one long romance novel), and a bit of a playground for the writers (mainly Jeph Loeb) to play around with the biggest icons in comics. For the most part, what happens in Superman/Batman stays in Superman/Batman, and doesn't affect the larger DC universe. DC has referred to Superman/Batman as their "big summer blockbuster." I see it as more of an experimental indie film.

Anway, let's look at Annual #1. Basically, it's a tongue-in-cheek re-telling of the classic comic, Superman #76, the first Superman and Batman team-up, and where they first learned each other's secret identities. Both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne end up on the same cruise ship. For whatever reason, there is a booking error and they have to share a room (sure...a billionaire can't secure a private room...whatever). Then trouble pops up and they both want to change into their hero suits...secretly. Let's roll the clip:

I have to say, that's pretty anti-climatic. I very much like this new version of the same moment (after a couple of panels of both men waiting for the other to leave):


The updated version is what they are calling a "re-imaginary story." It's pretty much a Bizarro comic, in that it's a comedy piece that breaks the fourth wall repeatedly. It also serves as something of an official response to the endless jokes, or endless devout beliefs depending on who you ask, that Batman and Superman are totally in love with each other. This is DC reclaiming its characters and saying "Hey, if they're gonna be hitting on each other, they're doing it on our terms." Actually, to be more correct "If people are going to be implying that they're gay, then we're going to make our own characters do the implying."

I give you these pages, which pretty much sum up the feel of the whole comic. They are also really, really funny.
Yeah...there was no bed-sharing in ol' Superman #76. Nice touch.

I could scan the whole thing and give a 100 item list of things that delighted me about this comic, but I'm trying to stay focussed. What I would really like to get into is how this comic, however ridiculous, is basically spoofing its own series. I could show countless examples of panels that go way over-the-top with the intensity of Superman and Batman's relationship just in the first six issues of Superman/Batman alone. That might have to wait for a later post. And I really do have to think about making some posts related to other heroes.

Even if you took out all the camp and silliness, I just really enjoy a fresh look at the moment that they discovered each other's secret identities. I would like to see more classic comic moments re-visited. Comic book heroes have become so gritty and realistic that it's fun to throw them into a zany golden or silver age adventure.

In this comic, I really like that Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne basically hate each other. Then they find out that they are really Superman and Batman. Then they continue to sort of hate each other.
And, yes. "Brokeback Titanic" is something that is actually said in this comic about Bruce and Clark sharing a room. There's also this:

You know, it kind of takes the fun out of hunting for homoerotic subtext when they just serve it up on a flashing neon platter like that. And maybe that's the point. I'm sure that DC is sick to death of the slashers waiting impatiently for the ultimate hook-up. I sort of see this as a gift to slashers (because, hey, they're paying for comics too). Or perhaps it's the ultimate weapon against them (taking away their fun).

What we learn in the end, though, is that Mxyzptlk is a Superman/Batman slasher because the whole story was one that he made up in an attempt to "spice up" a classic. I always suspected as much.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Justice League Heroes

I beat Justice League Heroes on PS2 yesterday. It only took me about a week on the regular setting. If I had been more dedicated, I could have beaten it in a weekend. I had been looking forward to this game's release for a long time, but I know not to get my hopes up about comicbook-based games.

This game is reasonably fun, but way too easy. There are some hard parts, but they are more tedious and boring than hard. It's a birds-eye dungeon-style game. You get to enhance your team's abilities and make stronger heroes. The good thing is that there is a continuous play feature that allows you to start the game over again using the same team from your completed game. I like this. Now I can get my money's worth. So I am now about a third of the way through the game on difficult mode, and I get to try out some characters I didn't have time to use the first time around.

The characters are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Flash, Martian Manhunter and Zatanna. Then there are some unlockable characters that you can buy: Aquaman, Green Arrow, Huntress(?!), Hawkgirl, Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner. I haven't unlocked the last two yet, but I've heard that there is no difference between them and John Stewart. Apparantly they even use the same voice. That's crap.

The voice acting is mostly good. Superman's voice is great. Batman's sounds a little sleepy and bored. Martian Manhunter's voice is ok, but he says things that make him sound like a robot. That's a Manhunter pet peeve of mine. ("I can't use my powers at this intensity indefinitely"). Like, he's a Martian. He isn't Data. Zatanna's voice is grating. It's very valley girl. And they all repeat annoying catch phrases a million times throughout the game. I had to hit mute a few times to keep myself sane (Although I could listen to Batman say "Just...give me a second to...catch my breath" all day).

You always play with two heroes on every level. Sometimes you get to choose which heroes to play with, but usually it's decided for you. If you get to choose, I recommend having Zatanna as one of them and letting the computer play as her. She has the ability to heal her teammates, and that's useful. She also has a pretty vicious fireball attack that she throws around.

For the most part, Wonder Woman is the best because she's very powerful and she has those awesome wristbands that deflect bullets. You can deflect bullets and lasers in any direction, and that's fun. Her lasso also gives you a lot of long-range attacks. Superman, as you can imagine, is pretty useful too. Basically you can't go wrong if you choose those two for any level. (Though it is annoying that everything hurts Superman. I guess it wouldn't be very challenging otherwise).

Superman says "ass" at one point in the game (as in, he's going to kick some), and I think that's awesome.

I really liked the Batman Begins game. It was both fun and stunning to look at. Considering that games based on movies usually suck, it's especially impressive. This game is not as fun as Batman Begins. There are way too many points in the game where you have to do something boring and repetitive for a really long time to beat an enemy. The whole game leads up to fighting Darkseid. You get to choose 8 team members for this, but use two at a time. As each member dies, they get replaced with another until you beat Darkseid, or kill all 8 heroes. I beat Darkseid with my first two heroes. I didn't even have to dip into the reserves. That just seems way too easy for a final boss.

But, overall, I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon than controlling the Justice League. And this certainly isn't bad as far as superhero-based video games go. I do like that I can keep playing the game over and over again on more difficult settings while building up my team. I didn't even get to use Aquaman or Hawkgirl at all the first time around.

Thumbs up! If you need any advice on how to beat something in this game, lemme know. I got pretty frustrated at a couple of points.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Sometimes you come across a comic so awesome you just have to post the whole thing.

This is a 5-page mini-comic at the end of World's Finest #302 written by David Anthony Kraft and drawn by David Mazzucchelli. It's easily the most romantic Superman/Batman story not written by Jeph Loeb.

I'm just going to let everyone read it uninterrupted. Notes will follow.

Alright. Here we go.

Pg.1: It really doesn't matter what's going on in the sky there. Although it does look like a pretty exciting adventure just wrapped up with an all-star cast. Basically all I want to say about this page is that I like the awkward way that Batman says that he's hungry, thirsty, and wants to chill out in the shade for a bit. (This is alarmingly out-of-character, and if I were Superman, I would be suspicious).

Pg.2: Isn't any restaurant on Earth handy for Superman? There is no reason why they had to go to this dive. I love that Superman wanted to share a table with Safari Guy and Commie Army Guy. Especially since there are only two chairs at that table. He must have known what their reaction would be. Maybe this is how he always gets tables.

Pg.3: There is so much awesome on this page that I have to break it down by panel.

Panel 1: Superman looks adorable leaning back in that chair like that. Batman, on the other hand, has very bad posture. I would expect better from a hard-core yoga guy. I love that they both order milk, and I especially love Batman's flustered "--Ah, uh, Make that two." This is a strange thing to say, and for a second I thought maybe the "ah" was the second part of a word he was trying to say when he was interrupted. But unless he was saying "Firstah," I guess not.
The only other explanation is that Batman is nervous and is trying to work up the nerve to tell Superman something.
Let's look at the patrons of the bar. We have two open-shirted cowboys, a lumberjack, and another safari guy. This looks like an over-the-top gay bar.

Panel 2: Add 'naked guy' to the list of bar patrons. Superman looks right at home here.
This panel begins their charming conversation.

Panel 3: GOD DAMN! BATMAN!! "Even a loner needs a friend sometimes..." My heart just shattered into a million pieces. That's the saddest Batman I've ever seen.

Just in case there are people who are just scanning this entry, and not really reading the comic, let's get a closer look at that panel:


I also like that the background guys think that they are filming Superman IV. Even in this universe, there are Superman movies. I love it!

Panel 4: Neither of them are saying a word. They are just gazing meaningfully at each other while Superman touches Batman's arm. I know it's a colouring error, but I like to think that Batman has rolled up his sleeve to better feel Superman's gentle caress.
Love the cowboy's quote. "Tender." Way to ruin the moment, jackass. They were totally going to kiss!

Panel 5: I like to think that our heroes are still gazing silently at each other.


Panel 1: Superman is totally making a pass here.

Panel 2: "What's holding up our milks?" is the best Batman quote of all time.
I LOVE that the cowboy wants to buy Batman a drink. And that he wants to "put hair" on his "lily-white chest." Says the guy with the snow white chest that looks pretty damn smooth. Pot? Meet Kettle! Sheesh!
Also love that cowboy #2 calls Superman "ma'am."
This panel is really creepy.

Panels 3, 4, 5 & 6: AWESOME!

Pg.5: It is rare and wonderful to find a man whose face goes 'BONK!' when you punch it.
It's just awesome that this ends with our heroes going to Bruce's house for brunch. Perfect. Also, they are assholes for talking Alfred into making them food. If it's morning in South Africa, I can't even imagine what ungodly hour it is in Gotham. Can't either of them fry an egg? Superman wouldn't even need a stove!
I would love to read a My Dinner With Andre-style sequel to this where they just talk about stuff over eggs benedict. Sadly, World's Finest #303 does not deliver.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #1

The second installment in Reviewing Darwyn Cooke's Garbage, in which we randomly read and write about comics which he kindly gave to us.

Trying...so hard...to care about Uncle Sam and...Freedom Fighters.

Agh. I can't do it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wings of Desire

Here is post #1 in a series that I call: Reviewing Darwyn Cooke's Garbage.

Mr Cooke was kind enough to give us boxes of comics he didn't want. Our job is to choose issues at random and write about them.

Hawkman #49

I think maybe it's time I paid more attention to Hawkman. Clearly I have been missing out.

Well, good morning to you, Handsome! Damn!

Hawkman always looks pretty cool, and I have always appreciated his bold shirtless look, but it's just a crime that he's been hiding that pretty face all this time.

And that's some pretty good hair. And nicely-sculpted eyebrows. Normally his face looks like this:

That's a pretty good look, but here's a better one:

Mmmmhmmm...I know I'd like to see it on a regular basis. I love the playfully unfastened pants.

This is the last Hawkman issue before the One Year Later shift. It's post Rann-Thanagar War. Some stuff happens...some fighting...or something...

I just really can't get past this:

What a man! An intense macho warrior who never wears a shirt. And is winged.

This comic gets a thumbs up from me. Just don't ask me what it's about.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Recommended Reading

I just want to make sure that everyone who is following 52 is also reading The Diary of Ralph Dibny blog. Because it's hilarious.

That's all.