Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One Hulk, Two Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk

(With apologies to Dr. Seuss. ...and the Hulk, I guess. BH)




From there to here,
from here to there,
Incredible Hulks
are everywhere.






One Hulk






Two Hulk






Red Hulk





Blue Hulk






Green Hulk







Blue Hulk





Old Hulk





New Hulk





This one has a little scar.





This one turns into a car.



Say! What a lot
of Hulks there are.






Every day,
from here to there,
Incredible Hulks are everywhere.





Sunday, May 25, 2008

DCU Decisions: A Looming Trainwreck?


I haven't seen much written about DCU Decisions since it was announced. Maybe because it sounds like an epic train wreck in the making? Apparently, when a fictional DCU politician survives an assassination attempt, various DC superheroes will mobilize on the red or blue side of things. In other words, in this series written by Bill Willingham and Judd Winick, DC plans to make clear the political affiliation of many of their characters.

They won't be using the actual candidates, by the way, but fictional stand-ins. I wonder if they're allowed to use the terms Democrat and Republican?

I'm mostly worried that the Doom Patrol's Robotman is apparently going to be part of this. Winick doesn't inspire confidence, and I can take or leave Bill Willingham's writing, so I'm concerned they'll put Cliff Steele in the Republican camp, old fashioned, American-made tough-guy that he is. Winick tends to characterize with a broad, sloppy brush, so I'm not sure how aware he is of the twists and turns Vertigo and Grant Morrison put him through. Cliff Steele has lived an ongoing "alternate lifestyle" since his brain's installation into a robot body, and his main story arc has been his transformation from a handsome but cruel, shallow jerk of a man to a wiser, kinder better person after his loss of humanity. His last two romantic interests have been a multiple personality and a transsexual all while his best pal was turning into a radioactive hermaphrodite for cryin' out loud, so Cliff oughtta be moderate, at least.

I'm equally unsold on these writer's abilities to sell me on Batman's politics, or, God help us, Superman's. There are a number of reasons Superman may be a Democrat and several other reasons he could be a Republican, but I think I'd rather not have it spelled out explicitly. On the other hand, morbid curiosity may win out. Whadda You think?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Spirit by Alan Moore


The Spirit: the New Adventures had a short run from Kitchen Sink Press back in 1997, shortly before that venerable underground publisher went out of business. The series presented new Eisner-blessed Spirit stories by name creators, lasted eight issues, and should have done better but for poor timing. Alan Moore wrote and Dave Gibbons drew the first issue, retelling Denny Colt's seeming death and rebirth as the Spirit. In the origin, Colt ran afoul of Doctor Cobra and was drenched in the madman's immortality serum and left for dead, only to return later as the Spirit. In issue #3, Moore returned to look at a much older, yet eternally youthful Denny Colt in "Last Night I Dreamed of Dr. Cobra...":













That's some lovely art by Daniel Torres there, too. Torres deftly illuminated the gracefully crumbling logotechture of Central City and the loneliness of an ancient Spirit in a strange future world where his life is but a tourist attraction. The First issue and this one provide Alan More's take on Will Eisner's classic character as well as bookends to the Spirit's career.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ambush Bug Returns Again!

For all that's coming up from DC, I'm most looking forward to Ambush Bug: Year None, coming soon. I've already talked about the Bug, and I've been waiting to see Keith Giffen get back to penciling comics, so I expect this to be good. Year None is supposed to leave no stone in recent DC history unturned, mocking Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, and alla them other Crises to boot. It also promises to show what exactly drove Jean Loring over the edge:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Countdown to Redundancy



So I wrote this article about Countdown to Final Crisis like, a month ago, and I never could do much with it that didn't sound exactly like 52 other online whiners, so I dropped it. Still, I purchased and read, then re-read the whole miserable thing, then wrote up a bunch of half-assed, half-focused "witty" observations. Never let it be said I let anything go to waste. Here then, are my unfocused, rambling half-thoughts about a subject everyone else has long since left behind.

The whole Monitor thread confused me beyond belief, especially with fifty-two of the fuckers running around, all looking alike, especially when part of the story hinges on their gradually differing appearances. The art varied from issue to issue, veering crazily between style and quality, until it became impossible to recognize any of the human characters let alone aliens who are supposed to look alike but sort of don't, and that's important to the plot. Were Bob and Solomon the same guy? I know there was the one guy who wanted to aggressively pursue and terminate reality-jumpers, and there was the other guy who opposed him, but eventually the Monitors all joined the violent crazy guy, and the other guy took off. Which one was Bob? There was a third Monitor, wasn't there? Mojo Nixon, or Nix Uotan or somethin'?

Ray Palmer gets further tortured, only to end up renouncing his ties to Earth and teamed with Donna Troy, which is actually a sort of torture in itself. All this would be much more impressive if coming attractions didn't show Donna with the Titans, Kyle with the Green Lanterns, and Ray Palmer with the new proactive, James Robinson written Justice League. So much for that team.

Lion Head Superman! It's all coming true !! Weisinger was Right !!!



Count me among the camp that sees no point in "darkening" Mary Marvel. But then , I've never been sold on the Marvel family in the DC Universe anyway. Jerry Ordway's Power of Shazam! was probably the best, and I followed it for most of its run, but even then it was an uncomfortable fit with the larger DCU. Mary's appointment and journey to evil did not engage, and felt like padding. And an excuse to have this young girl running around in a leather micro- miniskirt.

The Holly/Harley stuff seemed equally surplus. Their appearance seems to have been pointless. If nothing else, they should have kept the powers that the gods bestowed them, but instead they take a bus back to gotham. With Jason Todd, who also reverted to (stereo) type.

Then there was that whole Superman Prime/ Monarch /Super Army deal. That all came to a head when Superman Prime pulled open Monarch's armor, but what was the point? Apparently, and I had to get this from an online interview, that explosion blew up the one "perfect world" Earth that the armies tore apart, and made way for "the Great Disaster" Earth. The inclusion of Monarch, the Extremists, and Monarch's Countdown: Arena army was just carnage and filler, since DC apparently has no further plans for any of them.

Packed with pointless deaths, Countdown rarely satisfies!



Then, lest we forget, we had poor,poor Karate Kid, killed yet again to give birth to the Kamandi / OMAC universe. For awhile there, I thought that all these divergent paths were going to lead to Jimmy, Donna, Mary, et al to become the New New Gods, somehow, but I didn't expect nothing to happen. For the most part, these guys are headed back to their status quo, whatever that may be.

Top all this off with an out-of-left-field ending, and its one of the sloppiest reads I've seen. I can't really blame anyone but myself for buying this. It had Donna Troy in it, for God's sake; how much of a fucking sign post did I need? Like the rest of the marks, I'm bitching after DC got my $155 for this padded fiasco, so they totally win.

The Best Part.



We're still in the early days of comics-by-committee, but this second attempt suggested that maybe comics written by six guys and drawn by thirty may not be the best way to effectively deliver complex and nuanced storytelling. Who knew?


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Awful, Awful Iron Man Villains



I finally saw Iron Man, and yeah, it was great. I have nothing new to add to the rave reviews I've been seeing, but it was a high point in superhero film, fo' shizzle. Having seen the film, I assume that we'll get the Mandarin as the villain for the second installmen and..an...ZZZZzzzzzz....


Whuh! Sorry! I tend to doze off when discussing the Mandarin. Commentor "MrCanacorn" wants to see MODOK in the sequel, and brother, who doesn't? Maybe we'll get MODOK in the third installment, or in another Marvel movie. Anyway, we got several other great suggestions in the comments section of this post for awful Iron Man villains to appear (we hope not) in sequels. Think of them as Iron Man 7 villains, when Robert Downey Junior is long gone and we've got Ryan Seacrest as Iron Man. For example, the FREAK, SLASHER and FANGOR were also suggested:







Fangor was a stone demon summoned by a cranky old sorcerer named Mister Rasputin. The Freak was Tony Stark's friend Happy Hogan turned into a giant bald radioactive goober, and was part of a tradition of very generic Iron Man villains, as when Shellhead clashed with bald n' bland behemoths THE CRUSHER and QUASAR in issues 6 and 79. Slasher and his dalmatian spotted pal Demetrius are best left to Blockade Boy, who recently devoted an alarming amount of time to dissecting the Slasher/Demtrius "saga" panel by panel.

But that’s just the tip of the crappy villain iceberg. For all his longevity, Iron Man has a truly atrocious rogue’s gallery. His number one villain is the sleep-inducing Mandarin, followed by what, Spymaster? Crimson Dynamo maybe? Here are a few more low-lights from the Golden Avenger’s stupefyingly mediocre collection of foes:



No, this isn’t “Grraynne, the Silo That Walked Like a Man!”, but rather the DEMOLISHER, created by rival scientist Edwin Cord to improve on Iron Man. As an engineer, I feel obligated to point out that "improve" means to "make better". Not so much luck with that, then.



The UNICORN was pretty formidable, until unicorns became primarily associated with six-year-old girls. He hasn’t been seen in decades, and presumably has retired to bitter exile in a mushroom cottage in Rainbow Princess land, with his pony, Butterscotch.



That buzz-saw is actually the shape-shifting baboon member of the Super-Apes, attacking Iron Man while the super-strong gorilla and the magnetic orangutan hold him down. Is there anything about that sentence hat isn't awesome? The RED GHOST and his SUPER APES followed the Fantastic Four into space, passing through the same cosmic rays that mutated the FF. They later turned up to bedevil Iron Man, by which time Ivan Kragoff was in the full throes of Disco Fever, with his funky chest-baring silk shirt, studded belt, and outrageous golden disco medallion.

I could go on, but you get the point, I'm sure. Even Iron Man villains I like, like the Melter, the Beetle and Blizzard are generally just lightweight thugs and disgruntled inventors. I pray for MODOK leading a gang of those guys in a Marvel film, but I'm not holding my breath. They'll have to figure something out, because it looks like Iron Man will be around the theater for some time to come.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Iron Man 2 Villain Suggestions


FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER

Marvel’s monster comics were winding down when Iron Man #101 was published, and the last thing Shellhead needed after a big hundredth issue showdown with the Mandarin was a confrontation with Frankenstein. They fought at first, in the Mighty Marvel manner, and then teamed up to fight the Dreadknight, who had kidnapped Baroness Frankenstein and taken over her castle. I am honestly not making this up. At least if they did use the big guy in Iron Man 2, he’d share a common foe with Abbott and Costello. What other Marvel movie hero can boast that?






BLACK LAMA

The Black Lama was actually Prince Jerald of Earth-7511, who had taken over leadership of the kingdom of Grand Rapids after the previous leader had been exiled for unspecified indiscretions. The pressures of leadership were such that he retreated to the Marvel Universe for a break, where he promptly went insane and started pitting super villains against each other in an attempt to find a worthy successor to his throne. Prince Jerald was essentially Gerald Ford of Earth-7511, an alternate world where America was called the Kingdom of Grand Rapids, and the exiled king was Richard Nixon, and Baron Rockler, who later showed up to war with Jerald, was Nelson Rockefeller. To be fair, if the real Watergate scandal had involved magic powers, super villains, and flying robot dragons, it would have been a lot more entertaining.





COMMANDER KRAKEN

Avast, me hearties, if pirates be popular now, think how much more popular they’ll be two years from now! If there’s any movie that couldn’t be improved by the addition of a jet propelled buccaneer, I haven’t seen it. Think how much better The Hours or House Party 3 would have been if there’d been a villainous techno-pirate threatening the cast. Marvel’s never been afraid to exploit a trend long after the general public has lost interest, so why should their movies be any different?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Things You Won't Be Seeing In IRON MAN: The Iron Mullet!


Tony Stark donned the Silver Centurion armor in Iron Man #200 ostensibly to upgrade before reclaiming Stark Enterprises from Obadiah Stane, the Iron Monger. I think he was just making room for his luxuriant comeback mullet:




"Wouldn't want to cage in a magnificent pelt like that, would we?" spits hateful old gray n' baldy. Here's another view of Stark's flowing raven locks:


He went around looking like this for quite a while, but I can't see Robert Downey Jr going along with a mullet. God, I hope not.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Things You Won't Be Seeing In IRON MAN: the Iron Nose


Another thing we probably won’t be seeing in any Iron Man movie is the infamous 70’s nose armor. Iron Man #68 saw Iron Man in pitched underwater battle with the Unicorn (who was actually the Mandarin, mind-switched with the Unicorn) when a blast shattered his plexiglass eye shields and he had to flee the battle, vowing to return! While supplementing his armor with new tricks and better waterproofing, he decided to add…a nose?!? Per Stark in that issue: “I'll finish the armor's changes with a slightly modified appearance…to allow a bit more expression to show, and so perhaps increase the fearsome aspects of my character to those who oppose me!" He then charged off to the next issue, and a showdown with the restored Mandarin.


The behind the scenes reasons for the change may have been pretty simple: Rumor has it that Stan Lee had recently asked Roy Thomas why Iron Man didn’t have a nose, and the editor sent down the order to give Iron Man a nose. It later developed that Stan had merely been commenting that the artist was drawing the mask in such a way that there was no room for a nose, and was suggesting that the panels be redrawn to show more helmet space at the nose area. I don’t know if that’s true, but I dearly hope so. The “Nasal Armor” widely reviled, lasted a few years, actually. Will it ever return? Who nose?

Things You Won't Be Seeing In IRON MAN: Obadiah Stane's "Costume"



I'm not sure how Jeff Bridges is going to play evil industrialist Obadiah Stane in the Iron Man movie, (though a veteran Marvel movie watcher suspects that Stane will be a father-figure to Tony Stark) but it’s a cinch he won’t be bare-chested, purple-caped, or have a gold, gem-encrusted belt. As of Iron Man #163 (1982), a shadowy man of mystery had been closing in on Iron Man and Tony Stark, attacking the Golden Avenger with the Chessmen while Stark was under seige financially and succumbing once again to the siren call of sweet, sweet liquor. DiscObadiah first showed his flamboyant, fabulous face in Iron Man #166, dressed like a typical 1980's corporate raider type:


Obadiah Stane: snappy dresser, or the snappiest dresser?


When he first appeared, Stane was leading a group of Scotsmen and dwarves dressed as chess pieces in an all-out chess-themed assault on Stark Enterprises. He did finally wrest control of Stark Enterprises from Tony, and started dressing normally from then until he donned the Iron Monger Armor in Ion Man #200. Stane also committed suicide in that issue, 25 years ago. This once obscure character has been elevated in importance for Iron Man's cinematic debut, but hopes for the DiscObadiah of old are dim.