Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Comics are Awesome!

Hot damn my comics were great this week. Brave and the Bold, Superman, Catwoman, 52, Wonder Woman, The Spirit...all great. I was about a week late reading them due to my vacation. The guest art on Superman was beautiful! Nice job, Peter Vale!

And I can say all of my comics were great because I don't pick up Civil War, which I understand had a pretty weak conclusion. So that's good to keep in mind as I struggle to read the whole damn series. Fortunately, thanks to the stellar and hilarious efforts of hard-working comic bloggers like Christopher Bird and Chris Sims, I don't really have to read it.

Do check them out. Chris Sims gives us Civil War in 30 seconds:

And Christopher Bird gives us all seven issues re-mixed with far more interesting and amusing text:

Monday, February 26, 2007

Postcards from Mavel Super Hero Island

I'm back home now. My superpowers have been fully re-charged from Florida's warm sun and I'm ready to blog like no blogger has ever blogged before. Blog!

I will miss the warm weather, but I'm pleased to have escaped America and it's deadly "orange" terror alert level (running joke: it was only yellow before I got there). Here the terror alert holds steady at...well, nothing. Because we don't colour code our abstract national sentiments here. If I had to guess, I'd say the terror alert is at level "meh" here.

So, Marvel Island. I have actually been there before. Four times before, actually. And EVERY TIME the damn Spider-Man ride BREAKS! You have to fix that shit, Universal Studios! Seriously! Good ride, though. Excellent waiting area, too.

Dr Doom's Fear Fall was one of the few rides I hadn't been on before. Something about that Spider-Man ride breaking repeatedly kinda makes you lose confidence in strapping yourself into a death drop machine. It's fun that a theme park would assume that people would be into a ride that has the supposed purpose of harnessing enough "fear fuel" to destroy the Fantastic Four. I gotta say, Doom, the ride was a little weak. Looked great, kinda scary. Don't know if you got enough fear out of me to destroy your enemies. If you were harnessing confusion, maybe...

The whole island looks great. Lots of fun stuff to look at. I dream of a DC-themed park that puts this amount of effort in. Cause Six Flags ain't cuttin' it.

Hee! Namor: King of the Restrooms!

Oh, and check this out:

Ha! Marvel heroes ride ATVs! I'd like to see Superman ride one of those. Except I WON'T because he would NEVER do that. The saddest thing was when some dude blew an airhorn and all the heroes had to come running and jump on these little vehicles and ride back into their...cage...I presume.

Here's my buddy Steph and her bespectacled pal, Cyclops:

This was kinda puzzling:

The good news is that I did get to meet Captain America. It was magical.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Marvel Thoughts for the Day

As I've already shared, I am on a quest to discover why I have been unable to embrace Marvel, despite a crazy love for little colourful pictures of people in costumes emitting bubbles of text. I feel that documenting my thoughts as I explore the Marvel universe is a good way to get to the root of the problem.

So here's my Marvel thoughts for the day:

How many Marvel heroes are unfortunate vicitims? And what I mean, is, how many of them are more cursed than gifted, and would much prefer being normal? By my count, it's quite a few. The Hulk would be the most obvious. Also, The Thing, Ghost Rider and a whole lot of mutants. I know that the whole point of Marvel is to offer superhero stories that are gritty and real and full of inner conflict...but jeez! Marvel makes it hard for comic readers to do what we like best: fantasize about being superheroes. Every damn character is miserable.

I think I have a crush on Captain America. I look forward to meeting him on the Mythical Marvel Island at Universal Studios on Sunday. I will be getting my nails done first.
Oddly, I might also have a crush on Iron Man. So it makes it hard to "choose sides," as it were. (Actually, Iron Man is clearly the douche in Civil War. It's like choosing between ice cream and cancer).
It's also clear that Captain America and Iron Man have crushes on each other, but that kinda goes without saying. I mean, are we supposed to not think they are in love?

Namor is kinda awesome.

Nicolas Cage seemed to be having a lot of fun playing Ghost Rider. I seriously kinda liked that movie. I mean to me, Ghost Rider looks cool, and that's all he really means to me. So as long as he looked cool in the movie (he did) that's all I care about. Also, I always think that I hate Nicolas Cage, but every time I watch one of his movies I kinda love him. He's so crazy. Was all the stuff in the movie about jelly beans and the Carpenters made up, or was that canon? Delightful!

Have you seen the ads for that singing, dancing Spider-Man doll for toddlers? It's creepy.

My MARVEL-ous Journey

One of my resolutions for 2007 was to gain an appreciation for Marvel. I am trying to discover why I hold undying love for the DC universe, yet am pretty much apathetic toward the Marvel cast of characters.

I am trying to take note of specific things about Marvel that bother me. Here are three I have decided on so far:

1. Marvel takes place in real cities in real America. Really there's nothing wrong with that, but it still bores me for some reason. Maybe I don't want my superheroes referring to 9/11. It's also too restrictive. Fictional cities means endless possibilities, and imaginative architectural artwork. It's also impressive the way that DC has done such a good job creating fictional American cities, that fans can actually be offended if a cityscape doesn't "look like Gotham."

2. Marvel is unbearable quippy and cute. It's not like I mind witty banter between my superheroes. I am a big Keith Giffen fan, for example. But what Marvel is often lacking are clever jokes. A lot of the recent comics that I have read have sounded like bad sitcoms.

3. I think I might hate Spider-Man. He. Won't. Shut. Up. I get that he's supposed to be full of bad jokes and kind of lovably annoying, but I seriously could not be in the same room as that guy for more than a minute. And I, of course, am talking about current Spider-Man. He used to be much cooler.

My journey to discover Marvel has involved the following so far this year:

- Reading Civil War (and all related tie-ins)
- Reading New Avengers in order
- Watching the Fantastic Four movie
- Watching Ghost Rider (seriously...not as bad as I thought it would be)
- Reading the rest of the Grant Morrison run on X-Men (I'd only read the first 10-12 issues or so)
- Reading the Frank Miller run on Daredevil
- Reading any Marvel that anyone lends to me or recommends

And so my quest has lead me here to Florida, where I will head to Marvel Island at Universal Studios in a few short days. I will interact with Marvel characters in their natural habitat and, apparantly, "ride them." I look forward to it, and will be documenting with pictures.

America, by the way, is amazing. They have fake diners instead of real ones.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Batman #663: It's hard to say if it's sad or if it's funny...

I finally got around to reading this thing last night:

It's four things:

1. Weird
2. Ugly
3. Gross
4. Confusing

The writing was...fine...but this was...not...what I like to read. It was lacking...a comic book.

I don't know how you felt about Arkham Asylum, but I did not like it. I guess I only like my Batman stories to be marginally disturbing and dream-like.

The real shame is that this "comic" seems to be chronicling an important event, but we don't get to see any of it. Instead we see this:

Which kind of looks like it's missing something. Like, say, this:

Grant Morrison is a great writer, and there are some good lines and interesting parts of this novella. I'm also impressed that he had time to pump out this much text considering how many books he's writing right now. I'm not against experimentation, but I am against...this. I think it's at least 80% artwork that makes me dislike this. But not entirely because I did find myself repeatedly flipping to see how many pages I had left to read.

Overall...didn't this whole thing just smack of the 90s? Anyone?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Super Valentine for You!

One last Lois Lane post, because it's Valentine's Day. This one is kind of a grab bag.

First, despite the editor's previous assertions that a woman can't keep a secret, there was an imaginary story that had Lois marry Superman, with this very reasonable explanation of what made Superman change his mind:

So there you go. Everybody wins, and the Kents can now start a long and happy marriage in separate beds:

And Lois, of course, is now a full-time housewife. And Superman always takes the time to solve problems on the home front. Like when his wife burns dinner.

That panel where he's telling her to smile if she wants a Super Kiss creeps the hell out of me. Especially since I associate super kissing with memory erasing, thanks to Superman II.

Not everything is super kissing and eye-broiled burgers, though. Sometimes Lois gets jealous. Like when Superman has to give a plaque to a famous actress, and gets a hearty "thank-you."


I love it when they fight. Let's see a few panels of that (from Lois Lane #38):

This next one really cracks me up. I think it's a combination of Superman's pose and expression, the venetian blinds, and the fact that Lois is even trying to keep him out.

Or maybe it's what Superman's saying.

These next panels prove that Lois and Superman's fights are far more interesting than the ones I have with my boyfriend.

Hardly any of our fights include the line "I'm going to take you to that distant small planet and clear myself!" And only one of them ended with me being placed in a plastic bubble and carried into space, arms folded and pouting.

In conclusion, I want to share this random panel that proves that Superman is totally, totally creepy and weird:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Everybody Knows That No Woman Can Keep a Secret

Even more...

All I want to do lately is read old comic book letters pages.

This response is truly amazing:
Give this editor a raise! Clearly he's the right man for the job of overseeing a comic book for girls.

Thank God for girls like Margie Loughran of NYC. She is clearly rad and I would love to hang out with her:

Smoke it, DC. Smoke it hard.

This is for Ethel Guiness, Wherever You Are

Well, this just breaks my heart.

Here we have this clearly awesome young lady writing to DC Comics in 1959 with some adventure ideas for her hero, Lois Lane. She suggests some fun careers (since, y'know, anything goes in the wacky Silver Age).

Then we get this very depressing response:

Reach for the stars, little Ethel!

The worst part is that I'm pretty sure the writers did end up stealing all of Ethel's ideas in later issues.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Let's Get Ready to Tumble!

Er...did, um, "tumble" used to mean something else? In the fifties?

Cause otherwise the Comics Code Authority was a little looser than I thought.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eyes of White

I was checking out the novelization of Infinite Crisis, which is I guess for people who like superheroes but hate looking at them. I would like to offer this passage, which has Superman meeting up with Batman:

A solitary figure waited for him on an elevated walkway at the centre of the ravaged nerve centre. A stark black cloak and cowl were draped over the man's equally black body armour, so that he blended in with the shadows thrown by the faint blue light. Opaque white lenses concealed his eyes.

So, the stand out line here is opaque white lenses concealed his eyes. My thought when reading it was really? Has that been decided, then? The eyes of Batman have always been a subject of debate. There are basically two schools of thought:

1. He wears a mask with white, opaque lenses to conceal and protect his eyes.

2. He wears a mask that does not have lenses, because that would obstruct his vision. His eyes are just whited out in comics for aesthetic reasons.

For the most part, Batman's eyes are white when he wears the cowl. But the same goes for, like, a million billion other superheroes. I doubt Green Arrow has lenses in that little mask. It just looks cool when the eyes are whited out, and it's easier to draw.

In all Batman movies, and in some comics, the eyes are visible (Lee Bermejo and Alex Ross both show the eyes in their art, for example). Batman Begins had some grease paint around the eyes, which I think would be a lot of effort for our hero. They were careful in that movie to never show Batman with the cowl pulled off because the paint around the eyes would look silly.

I have no problem believing that Batman would have the lenses, but the problem is that the cowl never has white eyes when he isn't wearing it.

There is another possibility: retractable lenses. Batman The Animated Series had him changing his lenses to red sometimes so he wouldn't be blinded by his own flash bombs. So maybe the white lenses are also retractable.

So...any thoughts? I think Batman's eyes have always been one of the great mysteries of comic books. I don't like a novelization (of a book) casually removing the ambiguity.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Superman + Robin + Elongated Man = Huh?

DC Comics Presents #58 (Mike W. Barr and Curt Swann). Superman teams up with Robin and the Elongated Man. Should be the best comic ever, right? Well...as surprising as this may sound, it's actually kinda weird and confusing.

I can't possibly explain the villains they are fighting in this story. Some sorta weird film memorabilia collectors who use technology to make suits that make it impossible for anyone to touch them. That's the best I can do. The important thing is that everyone piles onto Superman's back and heads West. And that it looks hilarious:

California, here we come!

Superman is a jackass several times in this story. Here's one example. An unnecessary aerial loop:

Very considerate, Supes.

In the final showdown against the puzzling villains, Superman gets zapped with some kinda gun that sort of damages his eyesight:

Ok, so his vision is a little wonky. What does he do? He hightails it outta there!

Jackass! "You and Elongated Man are on your own!" Superman only operates at 100%. The slightest disability and he makes like a banana.

Superman needs to be introduced to a little someone named Daredevil.

So Superman flies to the Sun (in about 40 seconds...which I just don't think is realistic. I mean, sure. A solar-powered super alien might be fighting a group of untouchable techno thieves alongside a teenage boy and a man who gets stretchy when he drinks concentrated fruit juice, but instant trips to the Sun? I'm sorry...I just don't buy it).

Um...for ordinary humans going to the sun would cause death. I think we're way past the effects of staring at the sun, here.

Yup, well, Superman is right. It works like eye-drops. Then he returns (way too quickly) to Hollywood to finish the fight against the confusing villains. I'll give Robin and Elongated Man credit. They pretty much had this thing wrapped up on their own. There was just one small detail left for Superman to take care of: the bad guy was still conscious.

Ha! "No! Don't touch my belt buckle!"

I like how Elongated Man calls Robin "Robbie." And I like that he is telling NO ONE that his nose stopped twitching. If there were one more panel after this, I think it would be Superman turning around and saying "Your nose? What? Oh. Right. Twitches when it smells a mystery. Whatever."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Destroying Music...The Marvel Way!

If you need a Valentine's Day gift idea, might I suggest having your loved one's name inserted into a terrible song about Marvel heroes? Or perhaps...a whole CD of Marvel-based songs?

A multitude of delightful phoned-in songs that are vaguely creepy and factually incorrect. But you don't have to take my word for it...

Please click on this link and listen to the song samples. All of them. You won't regret it.

I would especially recommend the Wolverine Rap. The trilogy of Superwish, Fly With Me and Show and Tell is also incredible.

I would love to give this gift to a friend with a five-syllable name. See them work that in there.

Wouldn't this be awesome if they had Stan Lee record your kids name, and his crazy voice interrupted every song several times? "Let's set a trap for Doctor Octopus AARON."

And I thought Spider-Man Rocks! was lame.

All I'm saying is...DC doesn't do this shit.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Grant Morrison 1, Jeph Loeb 0

I really didn't want to dis Jeph Loeb again so soon. But seriously, this is me going easy on Wolverine #50.

What does Jeph Loeb have against Canada? We only have one good Canadian hero, and he wants to make him act all American. Sure some mysterious Canadian bad guys did some terrible things to Logan, but terrible things are done to all heroes, usually by Americans. They don't hate America because of it. One Canadian dig is fine. Sure. On a cold day I might casually renounce my citizenship too. But page after page after page?!

Grant Morrison rules. He does Canada proud with his Wolverine:

Yeah, that's right. Correcting the asshole. A little patriotism before a fight? Not bad.

Or maybe the Canadian government sits around thinking up stupid things for Wolverine to say in battle (??!!), as suggested by this (agonizingly cute) Loeb page:

Oh, chill, Wolverine. I would argue that you were saying things that were far more ridiculous in the first half of this very comic book. But you looked pretty while you said them, thanks to Simone Bianchi's snazzy artwork.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

You Can Do It, Put Your Ass Into It

There is a right way and a wrong way to fight crime.


Dirty pool, Elongated Man. Dirty, disgusting pool.

World's Grossest Detective

I have a hard time reading Elongated Man comics because every couple of panels or so I see something that makes me want to throw up.

Also, Elongated Man, just because you can stretch, doesn't mean that's always the right solution.

Here he is hiding out underwater and spying on a nearby boat. He STRETCHES his EYES above the water and kind of INFLATES THEM and oh god I'm going to be sick...

Grossssss! The pupils protruding a little! And, seriously, that is a lot more noticeable to the dude you're spying on than just, say, sticking your head above the water. And I guess his eyes are invulnerable to salt water. Ow.

He loves this trick. Here it is again:

But how can he breathe underwater? By stretching his nose above the waves, of course. Disgusting!

Then he lends an ear:

Ok. They are TOTALLY going to see that ear. And throw up.

He's also gross on land. Check this move out:

Noose Nose! No! He just lassoed that guy with his NOSE and then reeled him in by tugging on his NOSE. Then in that last panel you can see his nose slithering limply on the ground. Oh, why did I eat turkey bacon this morning? The GLOOOP sound coming out of the crook doesn't help.

I have to wrap this up because I am positively green now, but I'll leave you with this puzzling elongated forehead move:

That guy who is crumpled on the ground behind the stretchy sleuth is an embodiment of how I feel right now. Owooo. And yeah, Elongated Man is sneezing as he does this. So I guess that guy is just lucky that he's not lassoing him with his nose. Because Elongated Man would do that. Because he is disgusting.