Saturday, March 28, 2009

Short Hiatus

And lo, it did pass that the Allblogger's day job didst task him mightily, and yea, his labours didst take him to most unseemly climes where e'en Frost Giants dost fear to venture, let alone broadband signals. Thus it came to be that Again With the Comics shall fall into Odinsleep until April 13th, at the earliest. Weep not, for verily, yon archives are fat-packed with amusement for thee, and yon blogroll doth contain a veritable pantheon of worthy bards. Hie thee thence, whilst thou await the triumphant return of Again With the Comics!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Funny Frankenstein Versus Scary Frankenstein!

I've -ahem- briefly discussed Dick Briefer's Frankenstein before, mentioning that it was an excellent if uneven series that suffered from a lack of thematic consistency, veering wildly between two very divergent tones of humor and horror. I've recently had a chance to explore it further, thanks to Golden Age Comic Downloads. I thought it might be interesting to compare a scary Frankenstein story with a funny Frankenstein story and see which holds up better. Here then, are two stories, both by mister Briefer, from the first and thirty-second issues of Frankenstein respectively.

First, from Frankenstein #1, "Frankenstein and the Mananimals" a look at the light, wacky side of Frankenstein:

A few years later, Frankie is singin' a different tune, and the feature has taken a grimmer tone as Briefer took Frankenstein back to his horror roots in a series of gruesome terror yarns. "The Beautiful Dead" was originally published in Frankenstein #32:

Gruesome, isn't it? Interesting how the same creator came up with two so very different spins on the same character, eh? And as far as I can tell, these take place in the same "continuity", with the monster simply being in different moods at different points in his life. I think I prefer merry, whimsical Frankenstein, but what do you think, readers? Discuss in the comments!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Red Ghost and His Marvel Apes

Man, I haven't seen the Red Ghost and His Super Apes in forever, and here they show up in Marvel Apes: Speedball #1, of all places. In hindsight, its only obvious. Actually, I've been enjoying the various Marvel Apes comics as much as anything from the house of depressing ideas these days. The original Marvel Apes series had washed-up Spider-Man villain the Gibbon visit an alternate Marvel Earth populated by Ape versions of the human Marvel Super-Heroes, with a surprising, primal difference, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I'm a bit of an alternate history buff, and I appreciated Karl Kesel's thoughtful world-building, even in a tongue-in-cheek apeworld. Marvel Apes: Speedball finds the chimpanzee version of Speedball stranded on our Earth, cast out by the apes of his Earth, when he runs afoul of the Red Ghost and his Super Apes. Later, the Red Ghost phases himself and Speedball, and they shift dimensionally to get a glimpse into the Marvel Apes world. Now, as if Magnetic Miklho, the super strong gorilla, Igor, the shape-shifting baboon. and magnetic orangutan Peotor weren't enough, Ivan Kragoff has his eyes on a whole world of super apes!

Back to Speedball; I once predicted Marvel would bring in an alternate world speedball, but who would have thought it would be from the even better everyone's-an-ape alternate world? Yes, Speedball is back, in chimpanzee form.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Watchmen: Not Enough Sugar Cubes.

So I saw that Watchmen movie. It was okay. Overall I was impressed with how close it was to the source material, albeit to the shallowest possible reading of that material. The whole thing held together well, and aside from a few nitpicks, and I think it would make sense to someone who was unfamiliar with the story. The problem is, I can't really say I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't read the book. I think anyone's first exposure to Watchmen ought to be the book.

Movie good. Book much better.

They probably should have just put a speedo on ol' Doc Manhattan. Ive heard that the movie isn't doing so well because a squeamish America can't deal with that blue wanger all up in their grill for 2.5 hours. Show Americans gore, show them tits, show them torture and death, but for God's sake, Zack Snyder, what were you thinking showing them two and a half hours of blue IMAX pecker?

I disliked the alley fight scene, because it badly undercut the idea that Laurie and Dan's hands were cleaner than Rorschach's. As they whirled through the group of knottops, casually stabbing one guy in the neck here, shattering another muggers arm to gory splinters there, using a third as a human shield, Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre were just as frightening and seemingly as merciless. I know the two didn't have a "code against killing" as such, but their ruthlessness was part of the amped-up aspect of this film that jarred against the subtler tone of the original story.

For that matter, why did all the Watchmen seem to have super powers? A major point of the original story was that only Doctor Manhattan had superhuman powers with the rest of the cast falling firmly into the "costumed adventurer" camp of superheroes. At different points in the film, the Comedian, Silk Spectre and Nite-Owl all perform in action scenes well beyond human norms, despite part of the point of the story being that they are all retired, old and schlubby. They all took punishment that seemed to devastate other, normal human bodies within the same story, they all moved with superhuman speed and skill, striking enemies with bone shattering force after years of retirement. As an action film, I 'm sure Watchmen felt obligated to deliver high octane fight scenes, and I understand action movies and action movie rules, but they kinda clash directly with one of the major themes of the story.

This scene is much funnier when they just think Rorschach is going to the bathroom.

The once-shocking violence of the graphic novel is updated with the genteel touch of the man who brought you the breezy comic opera "300". It obviously had its effect on the Saw crowd , as I heard a few ecstatic sighs and whispered "sweet!"s as Rorschach's meat cleaver came down on the child murderer's head. Again, this was extreme Watchmen, and the volume was cranked to eleven.

I could happily go the rest of my life without another "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" death scene.

I don't see how the new ending was any big improvement over the original (also flawed) ending. It sure seems like if Doctor Manhattan did go rogue, the U.S. would get and perhaps deserve most of the blame, not be embraced by the brotherhood of man. But then I find any ending that finds mankind uniting under a banner of unity and brotherhood to be a pretty unlikely prospect ever, regardless the circumstances. Certainly not for more than a week, tops.

Mixed feelings aside, but there was bound to be a big Hollywood adaptation of Watchmen sooner or later. If there had to be a sped-up, superficially-read Hollywood version of Watchmen, thank Kirby it was this one.

Always remember, it could have been much, much worse.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Whoa! Is THAT the Time?

Can we speed this thing up, Father? I've got some serious boning to do!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Madame Fatal: The Golden Age Transvestite Superhero!

MADAM FATAL: Such a dear sweet little old granny lady. Surely her inclusion in the action packed pages of 1940’s Crack Comics #1 was some sort of mistake? After all, such a harmless looking old girl couldn’t be expected to do anything much more thrilling than crochet a sweater for a tow-headed, apple-cheeked grandchild or tackle any challenge tougher than the Sunday crossword puzzle right? Wrong!

That old lady was more than “she’ appeared to be. Madame Fatal was a MAN, man! Comics’ first cross-dressing superhero made his dubious debut disguised as that thing least likely to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers: an elderly matron with a Shakespeare-quoting pet parrot! In times of trouble, retired actor/female impersonator Richard Stanton would spring into action using his wits, physical strength, athletic skills, and a full complement of women's un undergarments to foil crime as the tranny tornado, MADAM FATAL:

His/Her origin story begins as a white-haired old woman comes to the aid of a neighbor who is being shaken down by a thug from the John Carver gang. Showing surprising strength, Madam Fatal sends the goons running, then returns home, reporting delightedly to her pet parrot that she's finally caught up with John Carver. The next day, she arranges a false traffic accident with Carver, when she confronts him with HIS true identity:

But then he never finds the daughter, and he decides to keep up the old lady disguise, even after he tips his hand to the crook that kidnapped her. He says something about his wife dying of heartbreak after the daughter was kidnapped, but embarrassment could have played a part, too.

Whatever the case, Richard Stanton seems to have one and only one solution to most problems:

As crime fighting methods go, dressing up like gradma is at the bottom of a very deep barrel, but Madam Fatal actually lasted for 22 whole issues of 64-page Crack Comics. It was not to last; astoundingly, kids didn’t line up to read about a crimebuster who looked like the old lady down the road with all the cats. Madame Fatal was purchased by DC comics in a bulk buy of all of Quality’s characters, but Grant Morrison hasn’t gotten around to introducing a modern version of this bizarre character yet. Madame Fatal did make a cameo in The Golden Age Elseworlds series, being courted by the Gambler and the Fiddler.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Warner Announces Young Watchmen: The Animated Adventures*

The world is a very different place in the year 2085, but teen-agers still have to grow up, and the bad guys still need to be taken down!

Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Warner Premiere announced today a way for young viewers to connect with one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time. “Young Watchmen: The Animated Adventures” draws inspiration from the source material to bring a visually engaging experience to life through the timeless medium of children’s animation!

Young Watchmen returns viewers to the world of the critically acclaimed DC Comics and Hugo award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons…100 years later! When not attending classes at Veidt High, OWLBOY, KID RORSCHACH, SPECTRA, JOHNNY COMEDY, and MANHA-TEEN have banded together to protect the world that their ancestors saved! With the help of OZZY, the World’s Smartest Lynx, they learn to work together, cruise the cyber-malls, and hang out at the nearest Gunga Diner…that is, when they’re not battling Alien Invaders, Supervillains, or the evil hordes of M.O.L.O.C.H.! These young descendants of the original Watchmen have vowed to carry on their legacy and protect the world at all costs. Who watches The Young Watchmen? YOU WILL!

*Not really. I totally made this up. But just give them time….

This is a repost. Originally posted July 24, 2008

Friday, March 06, 2009


Its just like Frost/Nixon, but ten million times better! Marty Weil interviewed yours truly for his swell Ephemera blog! Go check it out, complete with fab sexy glamour photo!

Marty got hip to the Again With the Comics groove thanks to I'm Learning to Share! who kindly Awarded both of us with the Dardos Award for, and I quote:
"recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

As my way of showing mad props to the bloggers I most enjoy and friends of Again With the Comics, I did a major update to that musty old blogroll, adding several that I've been following for awhile and deleting a few that had gone dormant and even a few that had moved homepages. Fine, fine productions all! Check 'em out!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Dare You Meet the Icy Gaze of Purring Pete?

The Space Canine Patrol Agents might seem silly until you realize the sheer volume of villainy they were up against in their area of the galaxy. In addition to he Canine Caper Gang, the heroic hounds had an entire Mutt and Meow gallery of canine crooks and feline felons to deal with!

FIDO FELON: Notorious leader of the Hydrant Hold-up Gang!
KID KITTY: The cat burglar who made off with the famous Litter Box Gems!
PLUNDER POOCH: Never met a chew toy he didn't steal!
GAT CAT: The Galaxy's Biggest Ball of Twine isn't there any more, thanks to Gat Cat!
HOLD-UP HOUND: This mongrel mugger loves to play fetch...with your wallet!
PURRING PETE: Vicious serial killer who toys with his victims for hours, purring all the while!

As if these, er, "solid" citizens weren't bad enough, the Agents also have to deal with PHANTY CATS, the pet cats of Phantom Zone criminals who were exiled with them in the Phantom Zone! There are no Phanty Dogs since apparently evil people don't own dogs. One can't help but wonder if there were also Phanty Hamsters, Phanty Bunnies, and Phanty Ant Farms as well.

Yes, there was a lot of crime in this canine and feline dominated space sector, a sector that was later meant to be assigned it's own Green Lantern... an assignment that didn't work out so well: