Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Who Hopes He Never Watches the Watchmen?

I saw this mock Watchmen movie poster online recently, and it reminded me of how much I really, really don't ever want to see a Watchmen movie. I’m baffled by the ongoing struggle to adapt the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel, but Warner Brothers seem to be determined to get one filmed. By now, they have so much money tied up in production something' gonna get made sooner or later, and it's probably gonna suck.

Keep in mind, I’m not especially hard to please; unlike the rest of the internet, I’m usually pretty happy with 90% the superhero films that have been made. I do, however, strongly feel there are some comics that are simply unfilmable, and Watchmen is at the top of the list. There are too many vital story elements that would almost certainly never make it to the final cut of a “tentpole” picture: the Black Freighter sequences, the articles and clippings, the time warping Mars sequences...not to mention that whole bit with Doctor Manhattan's pecker hanging out. I kind of like the TV mini-series idea, but even there, I don't know. Alan Moore's stories and ideas seem to elude Hollywood filmmakers, leading to movies like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and nobody wants that again. I say, best to leave Watchmen unwatched.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tales From the Sickbed: Fighting American

Got hit with the flu big-time this weekend. I'm too sick to blog, but too mentally ill not to blog. What to do? How's about a Fighting American reprint? This is from the Fighting American Archive-style edition Marvel published a few years back. It's fat-packed with Simon and Kirby goodness, and as far as I know, waaay out of print.

Enjoy! I'm just gonna crawl off and die now, 'kay?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Meme Participation: A World's Finest/Wonder Tot Collision!

Memes can be fun. Working with someone else's ground rules frees the busy blogger of the tedious burden of "thinking" and "making sense". Onerous questions like: "What is that supposed to mean? What the hell is wrong with you?!?" can be answered with a simple: "It was his/her idea!" Here at Again With the Comics, we are dedicated to finding new ways to provide pointless, meaningless filler. In that spirit, here's Wonder Tot and her magical chum Mister Genie filling in for Superman and Batman!

Why? Because Bully said so, that's why.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

About the Big Death in Civil War #7...

Edited at 10:00 MST

At some point the rumor got out that there would be a major death in Civil War #7, with everyone from Captain America to Mister Fantastic to Hercules thought to be the fallen son. Well, CW#7 is finally out and the news is... there was no "Big Death" in Civil War #7.

And THANK YOU for that, Marvel.

Well, okay, there was this:
But A:That rocked, and B:"Clor" was a plot device that no one liked anyway. Civil War was more about the death of friendships and a way of life - well, that and teeth-shattering blows to the face and head. We didn't need "The DEATH of YELLOWJACKET" or whatever to sell that.

I'm glad because I've become thoroughly bored by the pointless shock value deaths that have been rampant at both Marvel and DC in the last few years. Death has become such a devalued coin that it's never a matter of if, but when, a dead superhero will return. I'm hard pressed to think of any major character who hasn't "died" and returned, some several times. Death, in short, is a yawn.

DC is just as bad, by the way, with characters dying and returning at a dizzying rate, not to mention every goofball silver age villain resurfacing as a baby-heart-eating serial killer or sexual deviant, and someone dies to prove how hardcore he is now.

I'm not saying this out of misty-eyed longing for the good old days either. A well written, effective death scene can be fantastic, but we see few of those. Death has become toothless, a lazy shortcut to dispose of unwanted cast members, stoke up cheap melodrama, and establish a villains "badass cred" by racking up a body count of C-listers. Most comic book deaths are handled clumsily, and only make it necessary for the next writer to bring that character back in an even clumsier resurrection. It's become a bore and a cliche, so it's time to get more creative.

So thanks, Marvel for not killing Cap, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, or, um, Tagak the Leopard Lord! Maybe this is the beginning of the end of this ridiculous cycle!

(Reads Punisher War Journal #4)

...Er, never @#$%ing mind.

Brian G Hughes: Prince of Jokers

Anyone remember the "Big Book of" series published awhile back from Paradox Press? They were factoid books in graphic novel form, and each volume explored a different, usually lurid topic. There were Big Books for Conspiracies, Freaks, UFOs, Criminals , Death, and more. This is from the Big Book of Hoaxes, and never fails to amuse me:

That's what money should be used for: screwing with people's heads. I'm proud to share the name.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Some thoughts on Batman #663

UPDATED 5/20/07

Well, that was a creepy bit of punk pulp in Batman #663, wasn't it? The all-text approach seems to have met with a generally chilly reception on the Internet, as did the CGI art. I don't mind an occasional experiment, myself, and I imagine that at 663-plus issues, Batman will survive. I enjoyed this not-a-comic, overwrought prose and all, but then, I expect occasional nuttiness from Grant Morrison. Your mileage, etc...

Actually, I don't know if I can say I "enjoyed" it, but it definitely had my attention.

The Joker has undergone extensive reconstructive surgery after being shot in the face by a Batman impostor. The bandages come off at midnight, at which point the Joker plans to reinvent himself yet again. He comes out looking, well, cheerful, at least:

Okay, that's freaky. Batman #663, by the way, falls under the category of Batman Comics to Be Kept Away From the Boy. My son loves him some Batman, but I don't think he needs to see that nightmare fodder.

Apparently, Joker's trademark grin is now permanent, with his mutilated mouth now fixed in a scarred rictus grin. From this panel, I thought his nose had been chopped back to a snout, but the next page shows it intact:

Okay, so he's got this fixed grin now, and no eyebrows, which is eerie in itself, and he's even crazier and stabbier than ever before, I get that...

But here's the part that threw me:
So, what, the Joker can't talk now?!? How's that gonna work? "Joking" is kind of his whole thing, yes? I'm not really panicked at all, mind. I know there are all sorts of ways these changes can be undone, and I'm sure they will be, one day. Even in the story, Morrison states that this is just the latest of many Jokers. The colors red and black are also a recurring motif in the story, suggesting that the Joker may abandon his purple and green motif for those hues. We may end up with a red-and-black clad, mutilated and mute Joker. Weird, but that's Grant Morrison for ya. Whatever he's up to, I trust he has a weird and mind-bending plan for Joker Nouveau.

UPDATE: In this case, the comic may have been paving the way for the same scarred grin Joker in the Dark Knight. If this is a real pcture from the new Batman Movie. I'm not crazy about this look, but nobody asked me, did they?

Monday, February 19, 2007

SSSHHHHH..... Odin's Sleeping!

AAaaawwww...! Will you look at that l'il cutie? Little guy's all tuckered out! They look so innocent when they're asleep. It almost makes you forget what terrors they are during the day...
Click image to Allfather-Size

I scored a copy of Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor from Journey Into Mystery (#111-120 & Annual #1) for a mere 15 bones, and I'm currently immersed in Thor Lore. I never read much Thor as a kid, so much this is new Lee/Kirby material to me. Kirby was so great he could even make a picture of a sleeping senior citizen look exciting and majestic.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Final Question

Let's all take a moment to say goodbye to Victor Sage, a.k.a. Charles Victor Szasz, a.k.a. The Question, who died recently in DC's 52, succumbing to cancer after grooming Renee Montoya to take his place. I’m sure Vic will be back, someday, of course, either as an Elseworlds or as part of the next multiversal shakeup, but for now, this is about as permanent as comic book deaths get. At least we still have the awesome animated Justice League Unlimited version, so there’s always the possibility of him showing up in the DC Animated Universe. Voiced by Jeffery Combs, JLU's Question was a cool kind of conspiracy theorist with a fast car and an equally crazy girlfriend in the Huntress:

Created in 1967 by Steve Ditko, Question initially reflected the artist's objectivist beliefs, handling conflicts in the starkest of black and white terms:

DC purchased a whole raft of Charlton properties, and thus Vic Sage made his return in a 1987 series. Writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Denys Cowan had a very different take from Ditko's, but after 36 monthly issues and a short-lived Question Quarterly title, the duo made the character their own:

Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards took a Stab at 'ol no-face in 2005, recasting him as a sort of urban shaman. It was an ambitious and clever take on the character, but it didn't sell very well:

Now, longtime Batman supporting character Renee Montoya will don the featureless mask. I have mixed feelings about this, though I have nothing against Montoya.I think Charlie/Vic was an unusually complex and multifaceted character, and it’s a shame to see him go. Will Renee make her (question) mark? Only time can answer that Question.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Green Lantern on a Hot Tin Roof

Who knew that idiot Green Lantern sidekick Doiby Dickles had a whole freakish family? I’ve never read All-American Comics #46, but that cover says it all: INBREEDING, INBREEDING, INBREEDING, baby!

Our cast of characters:

Colonel Dickles: Patriarch, tycoon, and tyrant, the Colonel is in denial about the changing South, his own imminent death from terminal cancer, and his disintegrating family home. Wants nothing more than to see niece Vara carry on the family name, inbreeding style!

Vara Dickles: The only man she ever loved is long gone, lynched by the Colonel’s men years ago. Now she must choose between cousins Doiby, Rafe, and Beefy. Who will give her a child? Who will keep the Dickles bloodline alive? Where are my GOD-DAMN twinkies?

Beefy Dickles: Constantly smells like hot dogs. Likes pixy sticks and kitty kats. Once he tried to make a baby with a lady, but he broke the lady and daddy had to put her in the ground and she went bye bye.

Rafe Dickles: Southern dandy, bon vivant, and “confirmed bachelor” Rafe wanders Dickles Manor saying things like “My laws it’s hot! This flower is wiltin’!” and “Honey, y’all have positively ruined my alcohol!” Not much help there for the bloodline situation.

Doiby Dickles: He can lie to daddy about his love for the Green Lantern, but he can’t lie to himself.

Green Lantern: Saddened at the decay of the old south, the deceit and underlying tension at Dickles manor, and his own lost dreams, Alan Scott plunges further into an abyss of alcoholism and melancholy. While drunk, Vera tries to seduce him, but to no avail. In his drunken despair he howls: “DOIBY! DDDOOOIIIIBBBBYYYYY!!!” Then he punches some guys.

Hop Harrigan: Is not in this story. He stands above it all, smiling the smile of a man who has not one drop of Dickles blood in his veins!

Plus, there’s a GHOST with a GUN. What’s his deal, anyway??

I don’t think I ever want to read this story–the one I’ve created in my head is so much better!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Superman Begins Again

Back in 1985, there was a Crisis on Infinite Earths followed by John Byrne's Man of Steel Superman revamp. Man of Steel purged many longtime elements of Superman's past in the interest of streamlining his history. Gone were any other survivors of Krypton, gone was Superman's early career as Superboy, as well as his membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes. Today, with the rebirth of multiple Earths in Infinite Crisis as well as other reality-twisting events in 52 and other DC titles, Superman's history has been tweaked once again. Action Comics Annual #10 gave us a good look at the new Superman landscape, and a welcome return of some long-lost favorites.

It looks like we have Superboy back in the picture, albeit in a more subdued light. It now seems that Clark operated in Smallville as a non-costumed "urban legend" superboy. While all Silver Age Superboy stories were invalidated by Byrne's revamp, this new development allows for any number of those stories to have "happened", including the introduction of Mon-El:

I'm also happy to see Lex Luthor returned to full blown mad scientist status. The "legitimate businessman" angle was great, but it was pretty much played out by the time Luthor became president. Luthor's days as a businessman and owner of most of Metropolis may be behind him, but he still has the funds and the brains to cause Superman no end of grief:
Brainiac seems to be back to his classic form, as well. Brainiac never really gelled in Byrne's revamp, recast as a circus mentalist possessed by an outer space presence. DC spent years trying to bring him more in line with the true threat Brainiac should pose, but the character always seemed half formed and for years, lacked a consistent look or personality.

The Superman movies are referenced as well. In recent years, with the "no other Kryptonians" edict, no one was allowed to use the Phantom Zone criminals, and Zod was a red armored Superman clone raised by Russians. The new continuity brings back the Phantom Zone as well as a decidedly movie-inspired trio of Zod, Ursa, and Non. This time, they are more political agitators than outright criminals, as they were sentenced for trying to speak out about Krypton's doom:

We also see in this issue that the Bizarro World still exists out there somewhere, apparently independent of Bizarro #1 :

Finally, Superman's fortress is back, integrating elements from his storied past:

I notice that Superman's interplanetary zoo is back, and holding a Kryptonian thought beast, among other familiar creatures. It looks like Superman/boy was once again a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The bottle city of Kandor retains it's reworked origins as a shrunken city of aliens named after Krypton's Kandor. It also looks like the original (Earth-2) Superman is remembered and memorialized by today's Superman. Finally, Superman is once again guarding the Phantom Zone projector, another plot device that had seen little use recently.

When Byrne originally performed the Superman restart, the character had become something of a joke, weighed down by years of absurd continuity and gimmickry. A new beginning was just what the franchise needed. Now, twenty-plus years later, it's a good time to go back and reintegrate some of that old magic. With this latest "soft reboot", DC is able to cherry pick the best elements of Superman's past and polish them off for a new age, while ignoring the truly goofy stuff. So far, I like what I see.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Behold, fools! Fear the day when I GROW SEVEN MONSTERS! Seven GIANT monsters, in full glowing color!! All those who e'er have wronged me are a mere $1.25 and weeks from their HORRIFIC DEMISE at the claws and fangs of SEVEN GIANT MONSTERS!

Run if you must, puny fools! You only delay the inevitable. Soon, my Seven Giant Monsters shall arrive, soon shall they begin their unholy growth! Soon shall they grow fantastic plant "hair" alive before my very eyes! Thrills and chills await you when you see seven amazing plant creatures come to life!!

Then, the harrowing. As my Seven Giant Monsters destroy city after city, as crowds are crushed 'neath their horned heels, you dogs shall all know who is the Master. It shall make for an incredible "science project" indeed!

Pathetic worms! Quaver in unthinking terror, knowing that your days are numbered! Know that soon I will GROW SEVEN MONSTERS!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

An Early Look at World War Hulk

With all of Marvel's heroes at each other's throats during Civil War, they're going to be caught completely flatfooted when the Incredible Hulk shows up with his invading outer space barbarian army in World War Hulk. Hulk's been off in space winning a world, a wife, and a whole army of alien bad-asses. Now he's ready to come back to settle some scores and finish some business. The Illuminati exiled him to Sakaar in the first place, so I'm sure they're at the top of his hit list, with ass-kickings to be administered down the line as needed.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Lilliputian Logjam

I know that Marvel and DC don’t coordinate their publishing schedules with one another, but maybe they should. Isn’t it kind of odd that The All New Atom and The Irredeemable Ant-Man both come out on the same day every month? With no superstar artists or TV writers in the mix, both books have been coming out reliably, and both are scheduled to ship in the same week, so some of us get a double dose of itty-bitty action each month. While both books are about size-changing replacements for older heroes, the personalities of the two and the tone of their respective stories couldn’t be more different. Of the two, I prefer the Atom, but Ant-Man has been interesting, as we rarely see such an unlikable protagonist in a superhero story. Sales on both titles are pretty low, so it probably won’t be long until both are cancelled, but in the meantime, the Atom/Ant combo might benefit from some breathing room.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Again With the Links: Killer Gilligan and Archie Eras

Welcome to a new feature: my personal picks from the whirling, churning vortex of insanity that is the Magical Internet Wish Box. Again With the Links will be as much a repository for things I'm going to want to revisit as it is entertainment for you.

From Scans Daily, a quick comparison of Archie in two different eras. Scroll down for the inappropriately re-lettered Archie Covers:

Do you like Gilligan's Island? Do you like manga? Do you like horror? How about all three mixed? Gaze upon the heady beauty that is GILLIGAN'S ISLAND HORROR MANGA:

Now I've seen everything. Later for more HARD DRINKIN' LINKIN'.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Bad Case of Ms. PMS

I found this little piece of blog-bait in the quarter bin and, well, how could I resist? Ms. PMS was published in 1992, with all the quality art and writing that the time of publication implies:

AAAAHH!!!! Comics” was obviously going for that coveted “Front of the back of Previews” slot - if only “AAA Aardvark” hadn’t already been taken, they might have been a force to reckon with. Or not.

This ugly, ugly comic centers on the baffling and incomprehensible origin of Ms. PMS, but first, we open with some ANGST:

That business about the emotions of others? That’s because she’s a CHICK on the RAG…get it? The humor’s so subtle as to be nonexistent in this thing. Surprisingly, there’s not much made of the whole PMS angle – I guess the guy didn’t know much about PMS, and thought that the name alone would be high-larious enough that it would buffer the paper thin plot and execrable prose. There's no question who wrote and drew it though:

There are several more full pages of text like this in this thing, including the prior page, a cutesy "self-deprecating” credits page presented in a marquee style font like this one, another page in the book that simply promises “more action to come”, and a page that just says "Ms. PMS" in 72-point font. That's the indy comic equivalent of a fourth grader reporting: "The Odyssey was a very very very very very very very very very good book that took place a very very very very very very very very long time ago". Fluff and filler spotlighting a complete lack of content - it’s like the comic version of this blog!

The rest of Ms. PMS mostly consists of full page splashes of Ms. PMS squatting, leaping, snarling, and lunging with her improbably long fingernails outstretched. There's also an agonizing origin sequence that tries to be "hardcore" but succeeds only in being laughable. Ms. PMS starts out as a language expert brought in by secret government scientists to decipher a captured spaceship. As soon as she shows up, the ship goes crazy, and some weird robot called P.A.N.T.Y. SHIELD forms and starts killing all the scientists, transforming the woman into Ms. PMS in the process:

I honestly have no idea what's happening here, but dear God is it beautiful in it's insanity:

Eventually, she hops aboard that Star-Trek-insignia-looking thing and flies away, destroying the base behind her. Now she’s all geared up to battle…something…for…some reason! She’s going to need all her super PMS to fight off the lingering menace of P.A.N.T.Y. SHIELD, who seems to have it's hands full spontaneously exploding for no particular reason:

I guess we’ll never know what happened next, because Ms. PMS never saw a second issue.

Despite the awfulness of this comic, it has one unique quality that sets it apart from the pack. If nothing else, I can honestly say that Ms. PMS is the best menstruation-powered superheroine in comics…PERIOD*.

* forgive me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wonder Woman vs. 3- Point Perspective

"Okay, Axes, here we come!"

It was World War 2; while the troops fought fascism overseas and her fellow superheroes fought racketeers and saboteurs at home, Wonder Woman fought a lonely one-woman war against scale and proportion: