Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Static Shock Joins the DC Universe

We're all Static Shock fans in this house. My son, wife, and I all watched the Static Shock cartoons when Cartoon Network was running them a few years back, and I was previously read many of the Milestone comics. She's never had enough time for comics, but she really enjoys the various DC animated programs, Static included. Now Static is returning, along with the rest of the Milestone characters to DC Comics, this time as part of the DCU proper. Milestone was yet another sub-imprint of the DC line in the mid-90's, which started up at about the same time !MPACT Comics was coughing up blood. Like !MPACT, the Milestone Universe was its own thing, set in a separate universe, and like the Archie heroes, the Milestone characters will return within the modern DCU. Presumably, the never-before-mentioned city of Dakota in the DCU will soon experience its own big bang, and we're off to the races. I've also gotten the impression that Dwayne McDuffie wasn't interested in giving up creative control over the Milestone characters, so his involvement is probably a given. I do wish Virgil Hawkins weren't getting dragged into the Teen Titans, a book I normally avoid, but overall, I applaud the move and look forward to seeing STATIC, ICON, HARDWARE, and (to a lesser degree) the SHADOW CABINET back in action.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Mighty Crusaders Head to the DC Universe

Archie Comics' perennial low rent superheroes, the Mighty Crusaders are about to get a new lease on life, courtesy once again of DC Comics. DC have already had a try and a miss at these guys with the 90's !MPACT comics line, a short-lived reboot/revamp of the Shield, the Fly, The Comet, and the Web. The Archie heroes had their origins in the 1940's, and have been a perpetually mediocre performer for the teen-humor publisher after the initial boom, so I'm not surprised they just sold the lot. Buyouts are nothing new to DC, who have built their universe on acquired properties. What is new is that they haven't done this since they picked up the Charlton characters way back when. Unlike the !MPACT line, the next versions of the characters will retain their classic looks and will be fully integrated into the DC universe via team-ups with Batman in the pages of The Brave and the Bold. I'm not sure if they'll be brand new, or shoehorned into old stories, but I'm intrigued enough to check it out.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Giant Man's Night Job

Legends notwithstanding, the so-called "Golden" and "Silver" Age of comics were built on the backs of many an underpaid comic book character. Sure, the headliners like Batman and Spider-Man were well-compensated for their efforts, but for every power player in the comics biz, there are 500 guys like Giant Man, underpaid by and under contract to Marvel or DC comics. First as Ant-Man, then as Giant Man, Pym had never been a big earner, and was often heard to bitterly complain about his salary. Working-class heroes would sometimes do jobs for other publishers under assumed names, but Pym was unfortunate enough to be first superhero to be fired from his feature for crossing company lines. A one-time gig for Archie comics as "Giantguy" would have netted him a much-needed $200, had the Archie proofreader not corrected the "error" before press time. Marvel publisher Martin Goodman was outraged to see his poorly-disguised employee on a rival publisher's cover, and fired Giant Man immediately, replacing his feature in Tales to Astonish with the Sub-Mariner. Stan Lee quickly rehired Pym (at reduced pay and stripped of dental benefits) and relegated him to the background of the Avengers where he remained until that one time he went upside the Wasp's head.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Alan Moore, Peter Bagge and Kool-Aid Man

During my recent coverage of Peter Bagge's HATE, I came across this rare collaboration between Alan Moore and Peter Bagge, starring Kool-Aid Man, of all things. Alan Moore is in the (reluctant) spotlight lately, with the Watchmen movie on the way, against his wishes. I must admit, that Watchmen trailer was pretty damn impressive, though. So with that in mind, why not spotlight another one of the bearded one's more obscure stories? Without further Ado:

"The Hasty Smear of My Smile..."
Originally printed in HATE #30, 1998
Script: Alan Moore
Art: Peter Bagge

Monday, July 14, 2008

Red Hulk Versus Green Hulk

If traffic is any indication, people seem to dig the Red Hulk. Never let it be said Again With the Comics is above pandering to the masses, thus this clash of crimson and emerald Hulks. First the Red Hulk battled A-Bomb, now he throws down with the original Incredible Hulk. The result? Pure PULSE-POUNDING PANDEMONIUM, my perspiring, pasty, panelologist pals! My son is actually the Hulk customer in our household, making The HULK, in fact, the first comic in his own l'il "pull box" at Bargain Comics. I'm so proud.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Who Can Replace the Martian Manhunter?

In Final Crisis #1 the Martian Manhunter was executed by Libra as a message to the superhero community that the recently returned villain was a serious threat. So, for the sake of argument, let's assume that the Manhunter really is dead forever*. The loss robs the Justice League of one of their most powerful members as well as the instant communication provided by his telepathy.

Who could possibly replace him? I nominate SWAMP THING.

In appearance and demeanor, not to mention powers, Swamp thing could serve as a perfect substitute for tall, green, alien J'onn. He's got fantastic powers coming out the wazoo, like the Manhunter, and then some. He isn't telepathic, but if Leaguers carried seeds on their persons at all times, they'd be set. All of the Justice Leaguers would only be one bobbly little swamp thing head at the end of a vine snaking from their trousers away from the latest Justice League alerts and information.

Granted, Swamp Thing doesn't at first seem like JLA material, but given that they've let everybody else in, why not? He is DC's iconic horror character, so it's not unthinkable to include him on their iconic team. It wouldn't be the first time a super-team admitted a questionable recruit in order to keep a better eye on them, either. Batman and Superman have both worked with the big guy, so who better to monitor his return to public life, for whatever reason. Heck, he even led his own wacky superhero team once.

Of course, this is all a pipe-dream as long as Vertigo keeps their clutches on the big guy. Swamp Thing as a dark horror franchise needs a good long rest, as it's been run on diminishing returns since Alan Moore left twenty-some years ago. Vertigo haven't been able to gain traction with a Swamp Thing series in years, as far as I can tell, so why not share?

Or maybe I've finally snapped. Whadda you think?

* He is not.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Custom Action Figures (Part 3)

Some of the Custom action figures I've been blathering on and on about didn't do so good in storage, I'm sad to say. I painted a Bane to make Atom Smasher all those years ago, but the paint never did dry correctly, so he's still tacky to the touch, and has all kinds of crap stuck to him now. Giant Man came out alright, but his antennae are history. Captain Atom, made from an Action Mullet Superman, is just there to show how big the other two are.

Hawkgirl never did stand right, and she probably never will again, after five years in storage:

I think this was some sort of Stargate figure before becoming a Golden Age Flash:

Nightwing was a Kyle Rayner Green Lantern:

Plastic Man was made from a Generation X "Skin", a Nightcrawler head, and lots of sculpey:

Power Ring rounds out the only three members of the Crime Syndicate I got around to customizing:

Supergirl was Dagger in another life:

Aaaand...that's it. I'd like to get back to doing these, but superhero action figures have gotten much, much better, and much more plentiful in the intervening years. There just aren't many characters that haven't been made by now, and nearly all of these customs have been "officially" produced, often in several different forms. This series has been a nice trip down memory lane for me, but I'm kind of a crap photographer, and I sense eyes glazing over, so we'll get back to the comics next week.