Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is My Favorite Panel From Neil Gaiman's MiracleMan

When or if you'll ever see the full context of this scene remains to be seen, but I assure you, Miracleman is NOT about a geriatric Nightwing being endlessly harangued by a morbidly obese Starfire, as much as I may wish otherwise. I've got some thoughts on Marvel's purchase of Marvelman coming soon, but first, I had to share this panel from Miracleman #22. Gaiman's first arc, with Mark Buckingham, got a bit surreal, as you can see. More on Miracleman and Marvelman soon, chums!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Matter Eater Legends: Tenzil For the Defense!

Now that Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds has finally wrapped, it looks like almost all Legion of Super-Heroes stories still “happened” somewhere in continuity, albeit maybe not in the timeline we thought they did. The original Legion that debuted in Adventure Comics #247 has been restored to its rightful place in the Earth-1/New Earth/Earth-Wherever-the-Hell-It-Is-That-All-the-Main-DC-Books-Take-Place timeline with most of their history intact, the exception being pretty much everything that happened after Crisis on Infinite Earths and the attendant erasure of Superboy from the Legion's timeline...

...You know, there's no way to write some of this stuff without sounding like a complete, gibbering loon.

Unfortunately, that means that the entire “Five years Later” Legion was wiped from the slate in favor of whatever new path the adult Legion forges from here on out. I can live with that, I guess, but it also wipes out the awesome and hilarious solo adventures of Tenzil Kem, a.k.a. Matter-Eater Lad, including “Tenzil For the Defense”.

Matter-Eater Lad was the longtime Legion member whose power was to basically eat anything. He became emblematic of the goofy nature of the early Legion of Super-Heroes era, but was hardly the goofiest thing they had going, or even the goofiest individual member. Nonetheless, his return to the 5YL Legion saw him played for laughs, and Tenzil was much needed comedy relief in the otherwise somber proceedings at the time. In his own blog, Writer Tom Bierbaum described how he wrote Tenzil as a Peter Venkman type of irreverent hero, a move that ended up being a truly inspired choice. This way, at least we're laughing with, and not at Matter-Eater Lad for a change. We first saw “the new Tenzil” in LoSH vol 4, #10 trying to get through space customs with an unorthodox form of currency:

Matter-Eater Lad had been out of the Legion picture for a long time, having eaten the reality-warping Miracle Machine in Superboy and The Legion of Super-Heroes #251, and subsequently being driven insane by its strange, cosmic energies. He recovered, but was drafted back into his home planet’s screwy compulsory political system, where he was an overwhelmingly beloved Senator. He returned to his unwanted political duties with a sense of freewheeling abandon, actively trying to get thrown out of the Bismollian senate by blowing taxpayer money on several increasingly-popular documentary shows, including the fact-ignoring and sanity-defying “Wild Archaeology”:

Of course, the shows are so popular that he ends up bringing in more money to his constituency than he could ever effectively piss away, therefore the people love him, and the government hates him. After awhile, interest wanes, and Wild Archaeology is canceled to make way for a courtroom drama: Tenzil for the Defense! Tenzil is only half-interested until he finds that his first case involves former Legion leader Polar Boy, arrested for inciting dissension at a pizza parlor. Remember that Earthgov was shadow-backed by Dominators at this time, so Tenzil knows that there is no way that Polar Boy is going to get a fair trial. Tenzil throws himself into Brek’s defense the only way he knows how; unapologetic, madcap stalling antics, and one of the funniest courtroom scenes I’ve read in comics:

Tenzil wins the case but wisely hauls ass off Earth with Polar-Boy in tow, still wearing his Braino costume, before anyone has too much time to think about it. This was a classic issue, with some truly hilarious moments. It also led to another couple of epic Tenzil/Polar Boy adventures, but those will have to wait for another day. As of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #5, Matter-Eater Lad is among a few still-missing characters that the Legion needs to locate, so let’s hope he eats his way back into the spotlight soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blackest Night Thoughts

Blackest Night has been years in the making, and looks like it might actually pay off. Issue #1 was good, creepy stuff. The panel where Green Lantern rings up all of the DC Universe dead, shown below really points out how casual DC's disposal of their superheroes has been over the last 25 years or so. That's not even counting what I'm sure is easily three times as many villains, and countless supporting cast. The ending was quite distressing, but effectively so. I wasn't really expecting much from this, but the first issue was a good start.

The question remains; Will they use this as an excuse to resurrect a bunch of characters? Any of these guys? All of them?

An important point: These zombies aren't zombies. Zombies have a whole set of rules that Black Lantern Ralph and Sue Dibny weren't following. These Black Ring entities are possessing the bodies, manipulating the bodies, and mimicking the former occupants, all the better to be evil, but they aren't zombies.

It's okay, kids, that's not Golden Age Superman ripping out Krypto's heart, that's some...
thing using Golden Age Superman's body like a sock puppet!

For awhile there, Neil Gaiman's Death was the personification of Death in the DCU, but that hasn't been the case in some time. I think they've also tried to suggest that the Black Racer "was" Death, but that never really stuck either, and regardless, he's off the table now too. The fact that there's really nobody to usher the dead into the afterlife these days may play a part thematically in Blackest Night.

I will be very disappointed without an appearance by
Driq of Criq. Driq was the (ahem) short-lived zombie Green Lantern introduced in Green Lantern #217. Driq was great, by the way, a Green Lantern so learned and valuable that his ring wouldn't let him go after he died.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What's With the Ambush Bug Delay?

"This is DC backing Ambush Bug completely. Other times when we've done Ambush Bug, it was kind of like guerrilla warfare."

So what’s going on with Ambush Bug: Year None #6? Issue #5 came out months ago, but the sixth and final issue remains a no-show. The series was edited by Jann Jones, and in an apparent effort to duplicate earlier Ambush Bug series’ inclusion of Julius Schwartz, Keith Giffen depicted Jones as a character in the series, a sidekick of sorts to DC Editor-In-Chief Dan DiDio.

That whole aspect of the series fell flat, in my opinion, as Dan DiDio has hardly earned the beloved figurehead status of a Julius Schwartz. Jann Jones has since left DC Comics for personal reasons. Maybe she was written into issue #6 and needed to be removed, but if so surely that's an afternoon's work for Keith Giffen? It shouldn't be that big of a deal to get the book partially redrawn, but much of the creative team is in the dark. We've all heard the rumours. If there was some sort of…irregularity…in the editorial relationships that led one party to leave DC’s employ, surely holding up this book for over six months seems like a good way to keep drawing attention to the (hypothetical, of course) situation. Apparently, Jones had to lobby DiDio to get Ambush Bug: Year None on the schedule in the first place, so perhaps there’s a whiff of spite here, as well.

"16. When will we see the last issue of the Ambush Bug series?
DD: It is being completed as we speak – the last issue is on my desk. It’s one book that I can say quite honestly that hit the editor’s desk and got stuck there. We’re just making a couple of revisions to the story, and I felt the likenesses were a little too complimentary, so I had to make them a little worse."

Yeah, we keep hearing that same flip "explanation". To the extent that its become a running joke at Newsarama. Is he waiting for the pages to sprout wings and fly themselves to the printer? I just want my fucking Ambush Bug comic, really. I'm sure the bowdlerized version that does emerge is gonna be awesome. Who knew wacky comedy could be so dramatic, eh?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not Aunt Petunia!

I wasn't very impressed with this Marquis of Death/Master of Doom character when he spent the last few issues merrily slaughtering a host of alternate Fantastic Fours. I yawned when he casually tossed Doctor Doom himself back to the dawn of time, feeding him to prehistoric sharks. I briefly slipped into a coma when he blew up Latveria with a snap of his finger. But now that he's effortlessly skeletonized The Thing's Aunt Petunia, I'm convinced he's a stone-cold badass. Feh. I've been underwhelmed with Millar and Hitch's FF anyway, and now they cap it off by killing poor harmless Aunt Petunia. Well, maybe there will be some sort of cheesy cosmic reset switch at the end and we can forget this ever happened. As usual, there's some reason that Millar and Hitch can't quite finish on time, so the final issue of their "revolutionary" run will be handled by others. In the case of the art, by Stuart Immomen, so that's a step up, at least. Still, they have one issue to wrap all this up and marry off the Thing, assuming they're still going through with that. Again, Feh.