Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R.I.P. - Legends of the Dark Knight

I feel like something should be said about the final issue of Legends of the Dark Knight hitting stores today. I celebrated this monumental occasion by forgetting to buy it, as usual.

LotDK was always hit-or-miss. When it was good, it was very good (Matt Wagner's Faces, Grant Morrison's Gothic, the recent Bruce Jones run). Usually it was just weird, but it was at least imaginative and reasonably fun to read. And if nothing else, it was extra Batman reading, which I certainly don't have a problem with. The series, which was supposed to be stories from Batman's early years but often strayed from that theme, is being replaced by the currently horrid Batman Confidential. As far as I'm concerned it's been replaced by Matt Wagner's awesome Monster Men/Mad Monk series. I hope they continue forever. That's some fun early years adventure reading.

I was going to post a bunch of my favourite LotDK moments, but I keep thinking about last month's issue (#213) and how I really wanted to post something about it as soon as I read it.

Did y'all read this thing? It's bizarre. Basically it involves Batman having to track down a criminal who is a total foaming-at-the-mouth superhero nerd/collector. I'm always amused when a comic book makes a villain out of its readers. Not that I am as nerdy as this guy. No way.

Batman has to follow this guy, who has stolen one of Batman's cape and cowl combos from a black market dealer, to Japan. This dude is into cosplay, which, according to Batman, is "Costume play. Dressup as a hobby or kink." (Did I ever want Batman to explain cosplay to me? No I did not).

Here's what I don't like: when a writer forces their own interests on an established character, no matter how ridiculous. I would even call that lazy when we're talking about fanfiction, nevermind an actual canon comicbook. It's like if I got to write a Batman comic and I had him lead the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. Fun for me, confusing for everyone else.

So Bruce Wayne goes to Tokyo to hunt this geek down, and in the process we get to learn all about manga and cosplay subculture. Because Bruce knows all about it.


To me, the best part of the book is that Bruce has to go undercover at a cosplay party, and chooses to dress as Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner specifically, it looks like). But look at the geekiness he has to put up with (remember, Bruce is the guy in the Lantern costume):

*shudder* I know Batman doesn't get scared very often, but I would not blame him for being effing terrified.

Anyway, the whole thing is just weird. And it ends with this conversation between Alfred and Bruce which is kinda funny, but also really wrong.

Now let's look at a good issue of LotDK, just to wash the taste of manga out of our mouths.

#125 was a No Man's Land tie-in written by Greg Rucka. So we're already off to a good start.

I really like this comic a lot. The entire thing is an awkward conversation between Batman and James Gordon in Gordon's backyard. They are trying to restore their friendship after a tough year, but they have some trust issues to work out first. Maybe it's just satisfying to see these two have a conversation that lasts so long. Especially one that is so fun to read. I especially love that pages of silence between them before Batman breaks the ice with a gardening compliment.

Gordon gets in some good digs during the argument.

Awesome! You tell him, Jim! And what does Batman have to say for himself?

Awww. Who needs a hug?

Batman is so moved by his friend's anger that he decides to show him the ultimate gesture of respect and trust by removing his mask. Only Gordon isn't interested.

I love it! This whole argument was just so manly and a great representation of their relationship.

So there it is. Legends of the Dark Knight: awesome conversations between Batman and Jim Gordon, or Batman dressing up like Green Lantern at a Japanese sex party. Something for everyone!

I'd love to hear some of your favourite or least-favourite Legends issues.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Secret of 52 Is That The Multiverse Still Exists

Just when I was finally confident in my knowledge and understanding of the current DC universe, they decide they gotta go and multiply it by 52. I can just see all of the DC big shots sitting around the table.

"What about fifteen universes?"
"Fifteen, Dan!"
"Not fifteen? Then what about...fifty-two?!"

(I'm sorry, but you have to be Canadian to get that reference).

After cracking Dan Didio's cryptic message (and awesome, by the way, putting a coded message in a comic that I actually had to break out a pen and notepad for. Old timey fun!), I decided it was time to re-read Crisis on Infinite Earths. I have two things to say about this book:

1. The artwork is totally awesome, and
2. I am really glad that all of the characters were just as confused as I was.

And also, I love this cover:

Because I love this:

Everyone in that panel is wearing an expression of sheer terror except Batman. He's all "Did I remember to rewind Teen Wolf before returning it?"

I just want to announce that I'm ready for the multiverse. Bring it on, I say! Just 52? How about 5,200?! What are you, scared, DC? I think the world is ready for no less than 75,000 new characters. And at least one Earth where Superman, Batman, Predator and Alien all just get along.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Prop Comedy Stylings of Superman!

My blog has been so negative lately, mostly due to the shitty month I'm having. So today I decided to turn to the one thing that will always cheer me up: Silver Age Superman.

Appropriately enough, there is a story in Superman #136 called "The Super-Clown of Metropolis" which has the Man of Steel trying to cheer a sad old guy up. Though he fails at this task, he certainly helped me crack a smile.

Our story begins at the Daily Planet. Clark does some terrible lying and then, seemingly unaware that he doesn't actually get paid for his super-deeds, excitedly decides that business is picking up.

You already were, Superman. Or have you forgotten your old pal Bruce Wayne?

"Sad Sam" is a dying billionaire who has one wish: to laugh. Because he never has. He has a depressing and insane proposition for Superman:

Woah. That is messed up. Sad Sam does not deserve to laugh. He deserves to die.

The insanity of Sad Sam's ultimatum doesn't faze our hero. Instead, he goes to the Fortress of Solitude to gather up a box of comedy props. You really won't believe what he puts in that box. Then he returns to the old guy's house and busts out his A-material. He opens with a hilarious television joke:

Oh groan, Superman. That is terrible. Since this joke doesn't work, Supes pulls out the big guns: a midget.

So awful. Even worse is the fact that Superman transported this midget from the Fortress in that crate of props. So he keeps a midget in the Arctic, where he practices comedy routines with him. (I know we could believe that the midget is a robot...but for comedy's sake, let's not).

Ok, so a midget won't make Sam laugh (so Sam does have a shred of decency...unlike some Supermen). But what about...a midget and a giant pie?!

Sam's right, Superman. It isn't funny.

After this, Superman just gets desperate:

Is Sam made of STONE?! That is HYSTERICAL! Also, this:

But the punchline...not so much:

That quote from Sam in the second panel is fantastic. I want that on a t-shirt. Also, I love that Superman, as usual, is thinking about what he's doing as he's doing it "It's my own flying power, rather than the bubble, that's making me rise!" No shit, Superman. But that is a pretty impressive bubble.

Things get even weirder, if you can believe it. Nothing leaves 'em rolling in the aisles like an "I'm dying!" gag.

So...did he also have that small child in the prop crate? I hope so. That kid really steals the show. Excellent line delivery.

Then things get really confusing:

HAMBONE! Oh, Superman. Please marry me. We will live in your Arctic fortress together, building robots and naming them. We'll have one for everything!

So with this comic we have solid proof that Superman is:

a) Not funny, and
b) Insane

I know you're dying to learn what happens at the end of the story. Well, Superman, surprisingly enough, fails to make Sad Sam laugh. So no money for the orphans. Then he returns as Clark Kent (far too quickly) to write an article about Superman's failure. Sam catches Clark changing into Superman and believes it to be a joke. A HILARIOUS joke:

Yup, that's a good one, alright. So good that Sam donates his money to the orphanage after all and...

And I can't stop laughing every time I think of Superman saying "Lookee me! I'm a boid!" with his tongue sticking out. Thank-you, Superman. Now they call me "Happy Rachelle." My spirits are raised, my health has improved and I'm working on my second blog post. What a mad finish to my zany month.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Open Letter in Response to DC Nation #45

Dear Eddie Berganza:

Where do I even start?

No. I will not give Supergirl a shot. I already gave her a shot, and I am still trying to get over the nausea.

You want to make her a "normal teenager"? Then cover her the fuck up. Go check out a comic called Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Those are teenagers. Supergirl looks like an anorexic blow-up doll with a torso that's longer than her legs (which are also very long) and eyes that are bigger than her waist.

Y'know, you could almost convince me to give her a shot with the promise that you are re-inventing her, except for the part where you said "the incomparable Michael Turner." Incomparable? Incomparably shitty, maybe. After all, didn't his art inspire my favourite action figure?

The amazing Elongated Super-Girl! Now with bed-head and stripper eyes! Crotch that's lower than her skirt? You bet! (Jesus...just how long is her torso anyway? Seriously!)

Also, wow. You invited one real live woman to your conference call to discuss the future of the character. And she "was pivitol in giving us a woman's point of view on the character." Her suggestion: Kara needs to gain some weight. Well, agreed, but she needs a lot more than that. Let's have a look:

Well, let's just consider ourselves lucky that she has no real crotch area and that her legs go right into her stomach (or lack of). Because otherwise Nightwing would be unable to concentrate. (Alternate joke: It's so rare that you get to see Dick and snatch on the same cover).
The cape is nice. The sleeves are nice. I like the pointy cuffs. But that shirt has to come down a few inches. Or all the way to the waist. Or the skirt needs to be more than a curtain tie. The porn face is also a problem.

But enough about my problems with Supergirl, Eddie. Let's talk about my problems with you.

Shut up, Eddie. I'm not reading Supergirl for the same reason I don't read the new Flash comics, Batman Confidential, or the Martian Manhunter series: they suck ass. I don't care that this comic is MADE for ladies so therefore I SHOULD like it. I don't. It doesn't interest me and I am busy spending money on and reading the comics that you actually bother to put good writers and artists on. Because, and maybe I shouldn't speak for all women here because I don't know, I think that we appreciate...quality. You know, good stories, good art, good characters, and costumes that don't make you throw up in your mouth.

You know what I would like? I would like you to invite the "ladies" to come out and give The Brave and the Bold a shot. Because that's what I'm really looking forward to. Or The Spirit. Or Jonah Hex. Or The Justice Society. You know. Good comics.

Maybe you could just slap some pink covers on them so girls can understand them. Or make them out of chocolate. It doesn't really matter because we just use them to blow our noses on when watching The Notebook anyway.

You horrible douchebag.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ugly Ads

Oh man there are a couple of ads that are frequently appearing in comics these days that bother the shit out of me. I'm sure you'll all agree.

1. The Wii Ad.

This ad bothers me so much it makes me not even want to play with a Wii. The comic format for ads is annoying, but this one is especially grating because it fools me every time. I always read the first panel before I'm like ...wait a minute, I know this kid...It's that damn Wii kid! Aw man! Usually comic ads don't blend quite so well with the actual comics.

If the comic ad doesn't feature members of the Justice League or the Archies preaching the greatness of Hostess snack cakes, I don't want to see it.

2. The Family Guy video game ad.

It's big, it's loud, it's annoying. It tries too hard to be funny but fails anyway. It's...JUST LIKE THE SHOW! And it's often right on the inside front cover, serving as a jarring contrast to the often spectacular first page of a story. I think the best example is from The Authority #1:

Arrrgh!! Gross! I hate you, Family Guy! I hate you so much!

3. That HeroQuest ad, which I am not going to scan for the very same reason that makes me hate it: It's freaking gigantic. Pages and pages of boring, nerdy nonsense that tricks me into believing that the comic I am picking up is going to be extra-long and packed with awesomeness Nope. It's packed with HeroQuest.

Go to hell, ugly ads. Stop uglying up my comic books.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Shut Up, Jeph Loeb (#1)

For the record, I don't hate Jeph Loeb. He's written things that I've enjoyed quite a bit. Things that many comic readers did not enjoy. Say what you want about Hush, but it is hands-down the best superhero comic book to lend to someone who doesn't read superhero comic books. This is because of three key Loeb traits that are more than present in Hush, and pretty much everything else the guy writes:

1. Heavy-handed, repetitive, soul-searching in the form of interior monologues, usually serving as narration.
2. A veritable all-star game of every hero and villain he can think of, each with a clear introduction, regardless of how well the characters actually fit into the story.
3. Cuteness.

Loeb's stories often go nowhere, but at least there are lots of clear roadsigns along the way. And the artwork is always nice because he gets superstar artists. What I'm saying is, his comics are easy to read, and this might explain his popularity among the casual comic fan (read: people who read comics to feel closer to Brandon Routh).

Like I said, I don't hate the man's writing, and I can see that he has enormous love for the characters and so forth. But pretty much every time I read one of his stories I hit a moment where all I can think is...

I guess I should give an example. many to choose from...

Alright, here's a good one. From Superman/Batman #4. These are probably the only two pages of these books that don't explicitly indicate that Superman and Batman are totally in love with each other. Because that's another Loeb trait: all superheroes love each other as much as Loeb loves them.

Anyway, in these panels we have S & B fighting it up against a grab bag of DC superheroes. Here's a chunk of what they're thinking:

Did I mention that Loeb likes to have his characters over-explain things? He does.

"S. Castling."?! Why don't you just say "switch"? It's not like that's code for anything. Any idiot would know what you're planning. But just in case the readers are morons, Superman explains it to us. And adds something cute about Bruce loving chess. And then Batman makes a cute remark about it. No, wait...Batman thinks a cute remark about it.

So within these two pages we see examples of all three signs that you're reading a Loeb story: overly spelled-out narration in the form of interior monologues, loads of random characters, and unbearable cuteness.

Frankly I'd be ok with all of that if the story would just go somewhere satisfying for once. Always with the convoluted craziness! Like this story, for example, started by being about Metallo and the possibility that he murdered Thomas and Martha Wayne back when he was merely John Corben. But it ended by being about...Captain Atom zapping Superman with a Kryptonite ring so that he could be the one to pilot a giant composite Superman/Batman-shaped spacecraft and destroy a Kryptonite meteor headed for Earth while Batman and a recovered Superman battle Lex Luthor. And even to get into the larger story of Superman being framed by Luthor for wanting to destroy the Earth, we have to accept the fact that the entire world and all Justice League and Justice Soceity superheroes would agree that a Kryptonite meteor is evidence enough that Superman is out to destroy them all. *sigh*

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Crazy In Love: The Saga of the Super-Sons

This may be hard to believe, but sometimes the comic book big shots have some really bad ideas for story lines. And sometimes they will even drag these bad stories out way too long. Something what should have been contained in a single issue, or perhaps even a single panel...or to a single piece of fanfiction...or not at all. Something like...The Saga of the Super-Sons. This is something that DC pulled out of their asses in the early 70s. These two losers showed up in several World's Finest comics, ruining them for everyone.

First of all, for the record, only one son is "super." The other is "bat." World's Finest Sons would make more sense, but would be a gross misstatement.

There are only two ways to enjoy these characters. One, because in costume they look exactly like their fathers, you can pretend that the ridiculous things they say are actually being said by Superman and Batman. Two, you can focus on how totally and completely in love these two boys are.

Oh, Bruce Junior. Such a hippy. Where did Bruce Sr. go wrong?

Not that Junior doesn't have the astounding detective skills of his dad, as demonstrated here:

Keen eye, kiddo!

Of course, being the egomaniacs that they are, Superman and Batman have named their sons after themselves. Because that's a really good way to cover the ol' secret identity. Especially since Bruce and Clark jrs are pretty open about complaining about their superhero fathers. And the dads aren't so good at keeping the secret either:

Heh. "Big Daddy."

I'd like to point out that they are in the vicinity of some criminals that Batman just beat up. And while beating up these criminals, Batman exclaimed upon seeing his son, and I quote "Bruce...? My boy...Bruce?"

Like I was saying, in costume the sons look just like their dads. So let's pretend that this is really Batman talking in these panels:

Man I wish Batman would say "bomberoo" more often.

Superman Jr is also an idiot. But you don't have to take my word for it:

I don't like the hint of smile on Supe Jr's face one bit. They just watched a man get mowed down with a machine gun and he's cracking wise. *shudder*

Oh, and here's what he decides to do rather and stop a train full of toxic gas:


These boys also have a strange pre-occupation with paddling tail (which, if you ask me, is exactly what a certain couple of super dads need to do to their useless sons):

I can't really find any way to segue into this panel, but would you check out Superman Jr's bizarre caught-in-an-explosion pose here:

Oh, MY GOD is right, Bat-Son ('re in a garbage can).

Ok, things get really weird in the 1974 World's Finest 100 Page Super Spectacular. The sons are getting along so poorly with their dads that all four of them end up at some weird all-man hippy retreat to heal their relationships. Thus we get a bone-chilling panel that I will never be able to erase from my memory:

"Men...Dancing Together?" Oh, come on, Clark. Like you don't love that idea. Plus, it's your SON, doofus! No one is going to think you're gay. This might raise some eyebrows, though: not how Batman and Superman fly together...I'm pretty sure...usually...

Anyway, the sons decide to trade dads for a bit at this retreat. Then we get these hilarious panels:

"Straight, eh? That's what he called me, hmm? Well, we'll just see about that!"

Let's see what wholesome activity Clark Jr is engaging in with Bruce Wayne:

Yeah...ok. Willing pupil, eh? Wait! Switching dads permanently?! That's not how life works! This story is so bizarre.

These characters suck. Death would be too kind for these guys. But they were part of one of the best comic covers of all time:


In conclusion...PILLOW FIGHT!!!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I was re-reading the JLA: Crisis of Conscience trade because I like it, but sometimes little things can really get you down.

I mean, I don't want to nit-pick because I love a good Batman/Catwoman scene, and I can appreciate how awesome it is that Selina is bringing tea for two down to the Batcave wearing nothing but Bruce's monogrammed bathrobe. HOWEVER...

I dunno. Call me crazy, but I just think that Bruce Wayne's housecoat shouldn't be too small for Selina Kyle.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

HOT Action Comics

The mid-80s was a time of boundary-pushing in the comic industry. Stories were trying hard to be gritty and dark and "real." Even with that in mind, I still don't know how this one got past the censors. Not so much because of it's mature subject matter, but because it's Superman.

First of all, big thanks to Dave for lending me these issues (Action Comics #592 & 593 by John Byrne).

Ok, so Big Barda is hanging out in Metropolis's notorious Suicide Slum when she runs into this guy:
His name is Sleez, and he is so gross that, get this, he was kicked out of Apokoplips. Yeah, you have to suck a lot for that to happen. Since Sleez is his game, as well as his name, he uses the power of the mega rod that he steals from Barda to make her dance for him in a skimpy outfit:

I love Sleez's jambox. What song do you think is playing? It looks like something from Jesus Christ Superstar, maybe. Or Hair.

Seriously, though, Barda's capture is pretty disturbing. We don't actually see her being forced to perform sexual favours, but panels like this one kind of imply that it's happening:

Yay! Superman! Except, no, wait. Superman is a douchebag:

That's, uh, real sensitive, Superman. Is that what you say to all rape victims? "Sorry, miss. I don't recognize you because you look like a WHORE." I mean, what if it was Wonder Woman under all that "glop"? Also, is Wonder Woman the only dark-haired woman that Superman knows? Because I can think of at least one other he might be familiar with...

So anyway, Sleez ends up trapping both Barda and Superman, and putting them both under his mind-control spell. Oh yes, you can see where this is going.

As it turns out, Sleez has been making money by pimping Barda out to a porno movie producer. He's already made at least one movie with her, and now he's offering Superman to the producer as well. Yup. That's what I said. Check it out:

Ok, wait. Rewind.

WOAH! WOAH! First of all, I think there just might be a market for THAT solo act, Mr Porno. And also...SOLO ACT?! SUPERMAN?! Just take a moment to consider what exactly they are talking about here. And then the line "any co-star's gonna wind up looking like my desk"!! This is so dirty and wrong!

Meanwhile, Darkseid has shown Mr Miracle some recent video footage of his wife "performing." Here are the excellent reaction shots of both Mr Miracle and Oberon:

So he runs off to find and rescue Barda.

This is really the money shot of the comic, as it were:

Ha! Superman sucks at porn! This is really as far as things get because Mr Miracle arrives to break up the party:

I wouldn't necessarily say that things were about to go too far, Mr M. I mean, they just started kissing finally. It's barely first base. (Alternately: Mr Miracle does not consider his wife kissing another man to be "going too far").

Afterwards, there is this awkward conversation between Superman and Barda:

"I mean, we...sort of kissed a little. Fully clothed..."

No one seems concerned enough that Barda was trapped for what must have been days, being forced to make porno movies. That's pretty awful.

And what became of Sleez? He blew himself up by igniting sewer gases. The result is one of the greatest Superman-explosion-aftermath panels I've ever seen:

"...Great... ...Scott...!!" It's a pretty good explosion panel, too.

So there you have it. Superman was once forced to do porn in an actual DC-published comic. So don't think that your fanfiction is original.