Friday, September 23, 2011

Legion of Subpar Villains: The Living Eraser!

"Dead ball!"

I've always had a place in my heart for the loser super-villain: that lower-class workingman tier of bad guy who has the moxie to strap some electrified springs to his feet or dress himself as a giant walking haystack and go out to steal himself a piece of the American dream, only to recieve an immediate and humiliating beatdown by Daredevil or Iron Man. Many are so pathetic, they are never seen again, cast aside for flashier, sleeker models of evil. There are always plenty of accolades for the Doctor Dooms, the Jokers and the Darkseids of comics, but what about those guys and gals for whom just showing their face in public is an act of courage? Only Again With the Comics has the guts to speak for the the once-hit wonders, the forgotten failures, and the goofy, reject remnants of supervillans past.

Only here do we honor...The Legion of Subpar Villains.

For example, take the Living Eraser...please!

Reknowned in his other-dimensional home for his spot-on Richard Nixon impersonation atomic-eraser gloves, this alien invader was sent to Earth to collect Atomic scientists for an invasion plan. The hungry little feller also grabbed up some delicious hot dogs while he was in the neighborhood:

Mmmm... hot dogs. So anyway, he erases some atomic eggheads (not to be confused with Egghead) and goes after Hank (Giant Man) Pym, who followed him to Dimension Z and easily dismantled the attack plans. The Living Eraser went on to fight the Thing and (ugh) Morbius, the Living Vampire, before disappearing into obscurity and an issue of She-Hulk that I never read.

Consider that his only power is basically to attack superheroes and bring them to his own house, and you'll see why the Living Eraser is a fitting candidate for the Legion of Subpar Villains.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Optic Nerve #12

Panels from "Amber Sweet"
Riding on the tidal wave of DC New 52 first issues and Marvel's Spider Island related comics this week, there was one little easily-overlooked alternative title that is well worth your time and money. Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly, $5.95) was released with little fanfare, but was easily the best comic of the week. Tomine has been producing Optic Nerve for 20 years to much acclaim, and the latest release is an affordable introduction to his work.

I was a huge fan of, and dearly miss, the independent humour/autobio comix of the 90's, and apparently Tomine is, as well. The last two pages of Optic Nerve #12 include a "throwaway" autobio strip in which Tomine is mocked by his peers for sticking with the "floppy format.

A fragment of a two-page strip from Optic Nerve #12

The issue contains two lead stories: "Hortisculpture", in which a gardener tries to combine his work with a dubious form of art, creating friction in his family life, and "Amber Sweet", wherein a young college student must contend with her striking resemblance to an online porn model.

Excerpt from "Hortisculpture"

"Hortisculpture" is presented as a series of daily newspaper comic strips, in black and white for six days with a color Sunday strip. It has a very "Peanuts" vibe to it, if Peanuts were about an overweight, depressive, middle-aged would-be entrepreneur, rather than schoolchildren. "Amber Sweet" is a more traditional, full color narrative. Both small human dramas are told with economy and elegance, complete in this issue. Both are excellent.

Skip Deathstroke and Suicide Squad (both are terrible, nihilistic trash) and treat yourself to Optic Nerve #12 instead!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Rebooty Call

Like everyone else, I read the last issue of Flashpoint and the first issue of Justice League to see what the brand spanking new DC Universe was going to have in store for us, and the first thing I noticed, as Barry Allen went running through the timestream to clean up his mess was, OH MY GOD, are you kidding me, they're already setting up the next "big event"?!

Some mystery woman shows up, mumbling about how the "history of heroes" was shattered to make way for "their impending arrival" and he has to bring the timelines together again, or everyone's boned for sure this time.
So Barry knits together the fancy new DCU, and we head straight into the first Justice League adventure, where Aquaman is alerted to an approaching Giant Space Starfish, by his loyal pal Peter the Pufferfish. He assembles his comrades in the Justice League of America, each of whom take turns battling Starro for several pages, before they figure out how to immobilize him with quicklime, thus saving the day!  Batman argues with Green Lantern, they fail to stop a monster from blowing up the sewer, then, Superman! To be continued! That'll be $4.00, please!

Today's comics could use more helpful exposition-spouting fish to speed things along.

I was hoping to see a move away from decompression, and back toward done-in-one stories, but it looks like we won't be getting that from Justice League. So you can probably figure that by the time the 6-part origin wraps up, it will be about time to kick this "mysterious lady" crisis into full gear, which ought to take up a good year or so. And I already don't care. Business as usual then.
Since I never learn, I did sign up for a few of the new titles, but probably fewer than I was buying before the change. I'll be getting Action, Superman, Firestorm, Legion of Super Heroes, that Robotman comic, Justice League Dark (hate the title), OMAC, Stormwatch, and maybe sample a few others.
It sounds like this has been a pretty successful relaunch so far for DC, and that's great - I certainly wish them the best. But for my part, I wish I saw less same ol' same ol', and more of the truly surprising. Maybe in the weeks to come...