Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Today (the 23rd,) was actually Festivus, so I hope you all aired your grievances and competed in Feats of Strength.

Now that you've pinned your relatives and won glory by climbing the Festivus Pole, it's time to usher in Christmastime.  Justice League Style.

Here's a nice little bit of Christmas cheer courtesy of the Justice League and featuring CMMH! favorite, the Martian Manhunter.  Sit back and grab a cup of hot chocolate and relax.

Anyone else slightly amused that no one cares that Batman spends Christmas alone?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Custom Green Lantern iPad by Jim Lee

Despite being a diehard Apple fan since before the days of Macintosh, I really can't see the point in owning an iPad.

But this particular iPad would be awesome to own!

How'd you like Hal Jordan on the back of your iPad?  Wow, that sounded somehow not right.  Jim Lee did a series of iPads (including some Batman ones) which were given away to lucky fans at New York Comic-Con.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just a few reviews

Okay, so I'm a little behind in my comics-reading.  There doesn't seem to be anything really exiting me lately in the comics world.

I did have a chance to read Booster Gold #39 on the weekend.  When Giffen and DeMatteis took over from Dan Jurgens, I was a little thrown off by the change in tone.  Jurgens did a nice job continuing the groundwork laid down by Geoff Johns, and G&D took a few steps back.  The stories got ridiculously silly and even violated a few of the intricate time travel "rules."  Being a fan of the JLI years, it hurts to not like something written by Giffen and DeMatteis 100%.  But this month's issue jettisoned the silliness for the serious side of the Booster Gold/Blue Beetle dynamic.  I'm hoping they continue along the lines.  The downside is, that this month's story seemed like an effort to hammer the final nail in Ted Kord's possibly-but-never-to-be-resurrected coffin.

That, and I read the Batman Annual.  I must have subscribed to it a year ago, and forgot to drop my subscription, so finding it in the mail was a bit of a surprise.  And what, may I ask, is going on in the Bat-universe?  I finally dropped my last tie to the Bat-world, Streets of Gotham, a few months ago, and now I have no idea what's going on.  I had a vague notion about Batman Incorporated, but apparently the government of France has signed a deal with them.  And not only that, but Bruce Wayne himself approaches the French prime minister and acts like...well, Batman.  What happened to playing the foppish playboy to derail any theories identifying him at the Batman?  If Bruce Wayne swoops into your country, finances Batman, Inc., and throws all sorts of technical jargon around and acts and speaks like the World's Greatest Detective, isn't that all a little too obvious?  *sigh*

Ah, well, I'm hoping some good comics will come my way soon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes Fire Character Card front


That week went by fast!  I've been preoccupied with non-comicsy things lately, and kind of got out of my little comic blogging routine, and before I knew it, the week was over.

Anyway, I know Chanukah and Mayfairstivus are over, but the menorah is still lit in the town center (last time I drove past anyway), so I'm using that as my excuse to post what cards I have left.  (Or maybe I should save them for next year?)

Here's Beatriz DaCosta's card:

Bea looks like she's feeling a combination of boredom and annoyance, so I can only guess she's on monitor duty and Guy Gardner said something idiotic to her at the same time.  It looks like G'nort grabbed a bottle of blonde dye at the A&P instead of green by mistake, so that's why we're not seeing Bea in her usual acid green tresses.  She also decided to mix things up with an orange cami under her jacket.  I guess even superheroines get tired of wearing the same thing every day.  (Just ask Wonder Woman!)

Let's look at Bea's stats:

Being a second- (or maybe even third) stringer, Bea's stats are expectedly on the lower side.  What will be fun to do is compare her stats to her friend Ice, becuase I always assumed their powers were more or less equal in intensity.  I don't know if that's how it really is in "real" life, but I'd like to think that best friends have an equal chance to save each other in battle.  It just seems right to me.

Let it also be noted that Bea is one of the chosen few heroes (along with Booster Gold and John Constantine) to be listed as attractive.  Mayfair is pretty selective with who they consider attractive.

Well, sorry to fall off the face of the Earth for a week.  It was a nice trip in orbit, though.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Harley Quinn Pencils by Loston Wallace

I love how word gets around so quickly on the internet!  Over the weekend, Loston Wallace, who drew the sketch I featured the other day, sent me a note of thanks along with some hi-res scans of his Harley Quinn art.

I love seeing art before it's been finished, either inked or pencilled, becuase I feel as though it's a window to the artist's process.  Stare as I might at pencilled or inked comic art, though, and I think maybe I'll learn through osmosis how to draw like that.

Loston says he used a B pencil on Bristol board (a thicker, smoother kind of paper) to draw this sketch, which was later finished and colored in Photoshop.  I love how clean the lines are.  I'm a sucker for some nice line weights, what can I say?  If you'd like to see more of Loston's art, you can check out his website or his DeviantArt page.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Since this blog isn't character-centric, I thought I'd list the characters you'll see appearing on this blog.  Just so you have a little heads up.  Also, I needed another tab up there besides my Pull List, and I'm having fun with Blogger's tab feature.

So here's my favorite characters, in no particular order:
  • Martian Manhunter
  • Two-Face
  • Booster Gold
  • Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)
  • Adam Strange
  • Hal Jordan and other Green Lanterns (yes, even Guy Gardner)
  • Batman
  • Harley Quinn
  • The Phantom Stranger
  • Fire and Ice
  • Just about any other Justice League International character
  • The Atom
  • Just about any Bat-villain
  • Rip Hunter
  • The Flash (Barry Allen)
  • Huntress
  • The Metal Men and Dr. Magnus
  • The Rocketeer (okay, I know, not DC, but still)
  • Vril Dox
  • Magnus, Robot Fighter (also not DC)
  • The Spirit
Okay, I lied.  They're definitely in some kind of order.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1989 Mayfair RPG Game Card: Batman

I was poking fun at Batman in my post from last night, and Frank took that as a sign that Batman was destined to be covered on this blog.  I am a pretty big Bat-fan, after all.

First off, a shoutout needs to go to Tom Hartley, who sold Frank his Mayfair RPG card set for a very fair price, I'm told.  I didn't get to thank either of them yesterday for their part in this.  So thanks, guys!

Now let's take a look at the Batman card:

Batman looks pretty spiffy in his blue-and-gray Batsuit.  I hadn't realized until recently that Golden Age Batman wore gray and black and that the blue was (correct me if I'm wrong, folks) a Silver Age addition.  Though modern Batman runs around in gray and black today, kids Batman still sports the blue and gray.  I guess gray is too boring to children.  (Can you tell I'm looking through toy catalogs for my nephews?)

Let's take a look at Bruce's stats, shall we?

Never one to miss a stray detail, DC made sure Bruce's stats reflect even his most eccentric hobbies, like his stint in Gotham Community Theater when he once danced Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.  You don't get an Actor stat of 8 without a little greasepaint.  The folks at Mayfair also made sure to factor in Bruce's time spent as a juvenile deliquent immediately following the death of his parents by giving him a Thief stat of 10.  Yes, he swore to avenge them, but not without keying a few Studebakers, hassling a few soda jerks and knocking off a Walgreen's here and there.  What, you think a rich, privaleged, well-balanced guy like Bruce Wayne doesn't commit crimes and act like a jerk in his spare time?  Oh, the evidence is here, my friends, and it is hilarious.

Let it also be noted that the Bat Rope (TM) is only the length of 4 A&P stores put end-to-end, and that could be a drawback when chasing Man Bat up Wayne Towers, which is about 6 A&P's in height.  I guess that's where an Advantage like having Superman (TM) as your personal peon comes in handy.

And, like I predicted yesterday, Bruce Wayne's Wealth stat is indeed 5,000,000.  That means he'll win any battle, becuase money always trumps intelligence, brawn, and sheer brute strength in any fight.  Don't you remember that part in Final Crisis where Batman dropped a couple hundred Ben Franklins in front of Darkseid and said, "Dance big man, dance!" and then Darkseid sent Bruce on a lovely little vacation back in time to show his appreciation?

That's also the reason why Darkseid is such a pimp.

Want more Mayfairstivus coverage?  Want to air your grievances?  Go ahead and shout at random people on the street, and then check out these sites:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1989 Mayfair RPG Game Card: The Question

Welcome to Comics Make Me Happy!'s small and meek contribution to the Mayfairstivus, the blogosphere/RPG card enthusiast/comic book fan's answer to Festivus.  I shall now perform Feats of Strength, and then Air My Grievances.  Wait, I do that last one enough as it is.

I am in no way qualified to comment on this RPG game, as I've only played an RPG game once in my entire life.  I have pretty fond memories of sitting down during my best friend's weekend-long high school graudation celebration and playing a Star Wars Episode I Phantom Menace RPG card game with her boyfriend, and any attempts to play RPG games since have ended with myself or one other person swearing at a game manual and yelling at each other.  Really, it doesn't work for me unless there's an experienced player around who can explain the rules.  But I did like making the little spaceships that went along with a recent Star Wars trading card/miniatures game.


Let's file this RPG game under the category of "Awesome Things I Missed Out On When They Came Out," along with The Goonies and The Breakfast Club.

The front of the card shows the original Question, Vic Sage, looking pretty spiffy and all 80's, fresh from his Denny O'Neil run.  Too bad you're dead, Vic, or you'd be happy to know shoulder pads are making a comeback.  I'm not really sure if those awesome elevated shoes would be a success today or not, though.

The back of the card shows his stats.  Having non-powered humans characters in a game with somebody like Darkseid always makes me smirk.  It's pretty indulgent to think even Batman could take on, oh, I don't know, Sinestro.  I don't know what Batman's stats are, but here are Vic's:

These stats are chock-full of suprises.  Like Nike (TM), Hub City (TM) has become a valuable intellectual property, along with Charles Victor Szasz (TM), and I had to pay DC fifty cents just to write this sentence.  Vic ranks a 9 in willpower, and I'm assuming that's a scale of 10, so that means Vic would make an awesome Green Lantern.  Green Lantern Question: oh yeah.  Someone please draw me that fan art for me, will you?

I also never knew having a Secret Identity could be a drawback.  I kind of thought that would be an advantage, but what the heck do I know?  Vic is lacking some initiative, which I'm sure the nuns at the orphanage told him on a daily basis, and apparently all those martial art sparring sessions with Lady Shiva didn't do a bit of good, becuase that Strength stat is still suck at 4.  Too bad whoever came up with these stats didn't count all the Zen teaching and Eastern philosophy towards the Spirit, Mind, and Aura stats, otherwise Vic would be off the charts.

He's also got a Wealth rating of 5.  I'd like to know how wealth plays a part in this game.  Can you buy off Doomsday if you have enough in your bank account?

Check out other blogs participating in the Mayfair RPG Festivus Crossover:

The Anti-Didio League of America
The Aquaman Shrine
Booster Gold: BOO$TERRIFIC
The Continuity Blog
DC Bloodlines
Diana Prince as The New Wonder Woman
Doom Patrol: My Greatest Adventure #80
Firestorm Fan
Flash: Speed Force
Girls Gone Geek
Green Lantern Corps: The Indigo Tribe
Hawkman: Being Carter Hall 
Justice League Detroit
Martian Manhunter vs. The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Once Upon A Geek
Power of the Atom
Subject: Suicide Squad [Task Force X]
Supergirl Comic Box Commentary 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

JLA Overload Wallpaper

For those of you who don't mind your desktop a little busy...

Someone had a lot of fun Photoshopping various pieces of Alex Ross art together to make this.  (Which can be downloaded here, in case you're interested.)  I think it's really cool, but my brain would hurt if I had to find desktop icons on top of it.

It would look pretty cool on a wall, too...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harley Quinn Sketch by Loston Wallace

November is just a crazy, and kind of bleak month, and I can't get my act together, and Frank from the Idol-Head of Diabolu was nice enough to call this to my attention.  So here's just a little something.

Though I'm pretty sure it's digital, I like the brush rendering used for the coloring, which makes it actually look like a sketch and not a scene from a comic.  A nice choice, I think.  And Harley's smile is a nice blend of crazy and sweet.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Picasso Superhero Portraits

From the "Okay That's Kinda Cool But I'd Never Want to Spend $65 For One" files, I give you:

Picasso Batman.

And Picasso Superman.

And Picasso Green Lantern.

You'll now have some really bizarre dreams.  You're welcome!

If you really do want to buy any of these prints, you can do so here.  And see some Marvel ones here.  Oh, Etsy.  Will your wonders ever cease?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Impel DC Cosmic Cards #112--Adam Strange

Coming to the comics world only recently, I wasn't aware that there were superhero trading cards.  I honestly don't remember seeing any comics cards at all the card shows I went to in my teenaged years, but then again, I always made a beeline to the baseball card booths.  (Though I did see hockey cards once.)

Here's an Impel DC Cosmic trading card featuring CMMH! favorite Adam Strange:

I'm not sure if the "Heroes From Beyond" label applied to a certain set of superheroes, i.e. sci-fi superheroes like Adam Strange or Captain Comet, or all DC heroes, but it would interesting to know.

While the obverse of the card is all Silver Age silliness, the reverse hints at the Bronze Age changes which Adam underwent during the Man of Two Worlds story arc:

Hooray for calling it a rocket pack and not jet pack!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Comics Go Historical?

It's funny how legitimate conversations can veer into the world of comics.  This past week one of the history teachers at work brought up how there might be an error in the AP History textbook regarding Aaron Burr.  While she was doing research online, her conversation consisted mostly of, "Did anyone know that [fill in random Aaron Burr fact here]?" about three times and me replying, "Yes, I did."  I'm not really a history buff, but I was a little obsessive about the Federalist era there for a while.  Let's just say that Alexander Hamilton was the Hal Jordan of his day, and that entertains me.

So, while on our respective lunch breaks, we were all trying to figure out whether Aaron Burr held a position in Jefferson's cabinet, and being the Paragon of Information of my workplace, I went immediately to Wikipedia, and of course this jumped out at me:

Leave it to comics to make history more awesome than it already is.  And thank you, Wikipedia.

Are you as surprised as I am that Hal actually knew what year Aaron Burr died?

How often to you see something historical in a comic book today?  Comics today seem to exist in a cultural bubble: I'm not sure what world the characters live in.  I know they live in the U.S., becuase pop culture references get dropped every now and then.  Because I'm just one of those people that likes to learn random things, I kind of miss the "educational" value that comics had in the Silver Age.  Even if they got the science wrong in a Flash comic, at least they were trying.  And there were those little articles in between the stories that were somehow related to the stories: an article about astronomy in Mystery in Space, for example.  I think reading a comic would be a little richer if some knowledge was added to the mix, and if those little informational columns came back, they could be an incentive to buy single issues, assuming they aren't printed in trades.

Well, if you consider going on a power trip and prompting the aliens' western territories to secede from the Union, well, then sure, I guess he succeeded.

While I don't need an overtly-historical story like this one to make me happy, I'd like a little mention of something I could use to win Jeopardy someday.  Maybe the Flash rogues were the ones really responsible for stealing The Scream, for example?

My favorite panel.  Too bad this didn't happen in real life.  In the sequel to this story, Hamilton shows up and is all awesome and finishes what the monster started.  Okay, not really, but that would be cool.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No comics this week!

Saturday is usually the day when my comics arrive, but Brightest Day #13 was the only comic on my pull list, and it wasn't worth the extra shipping cost to have it sent to me, so I figured I'd wait till next week.

It feels like I haven't read a good comic in a looooong time!  Espeically back issues.  Every older story that I'm currently interested in reading, like the original L.E.G.I.O.N. run, isn't available in trade paperback format, and I don't feel like hunting down single issues.

Oh, and there always this:

My sweet, wonderful Adam Strange comic that I've been waiting for since August looks like it will never see the light of day at this rate!  I need my rocket packs and ray guns fix, darnit!!

In other news, you probably won't be seeing much of me this month.  Like kalinara over at Pretty Fizzy Paradise, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo, for short) for my fourth year in a row.  As you can imagine, writing 50,000 words in 30 days is kinda a time drain.

Some good comics are coming out next week, so I can't wait until then!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why do *you* read comics?

During my weekly existential crisis I was wondering: what's the main reason people read comics?  I haven't even come to an answers as to why I read them other than they're a fast read, and that can't be a good reason.  I like the pretty pictures, too, but that doesn't seem like a valid reason to like a medium, either.

There's just something inherently cool about comic book characters that I can't quite put my finger on.  Yet at the same time, I really don't think of too many stories or comic book plots as memorable or meaningful.  With a few exceptions, I can't think of any great quotes from comic books that I find particularly memorable like I do from movies (both comic-based and not) and TV shows.  I mean, I sit there and say the lines along with the actors every time I watch Seinfeld, but there aren't too many comics that I'll re-read to that point.

Two comics that pop into my mind when I think about them as an actual story in the "graphic novel" sense are The Long Halloween and Martian Manhunter: American Secrets.  Both made me invest in the plot and left me wanting to find out what happens, and both had characters whom I found had a depth to them and that might stand to lose something.  The other story that pops into my head in terms of character is any Justice League International story.  The plots of those JLI stories were entertaining, but it was the characters and how they related to each that I really enjoy.  And thinking about Silver Age stories, which are often lacking any sort of depth (or sense), they are just so imaginative that they become entertaining.

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why I buy certain ongoing titles today.  Most stories are lacking meaningful characters whom I can relate to, and the plots are pretty formulaic.  So what's the point of reading them?  I've been reading R.E.B.E.L.S. since last summer for the sheer purpose of hoping to find a panel showing Adam Strange standing in the background.  For me, it's character that interests me and keeps me coming back, even if it's a cameo appearance.  I've since kept R.E.B.E.L.S. in the pull list becuase I find Vril Dox entertaining, and now I'll read it without an Adam Strange appearance.

What are your reasons for reading comics?

Monday, November 1, 2010

What I imagine DC writer's meetings are like

Scene: Swanky DC Boardroom

Random DC Editor Unqualified to Do His Job: So, Winnick, we've got this Brightest Day thing going on. We've got to figure out some new angle to sell books now that Giffen left.

Judd Winnick:  Heh.  I'm glad that old geezer left.  Now I've got the book all to myself and I can do whatever I want!  Muahahahahaha!!!

Random Editor Who Knows Less About DC Characters Than Fans Do:  So, Juddmeister, you got any ideas?

Judd Winnick:  Well, sort of.  You remember that--what was it called--really stupid version of the Justice League that was in the 80's?  You know--what's it called?


IT Guy Who Happens to Be In The Room Fixing Ethernet Cables: The Justice League International?

Judd Winnick:  Yeah!  That's it!  Wait, who are you again?  Can you like get me a coffee or something?  So we've got Maxwell Lord being evil and all that.  But come on, guys, been there done, that.  Lame-o.  Let's really blow the socks off these readers.  It'll be awesome!!

Random DC Editor Unqualified to Do His Job: What do you have in mind?

Judd Winnick:  Well, you've these two girls, right?  Fire and Ice.  And Ice is all boring and no one ever liked her.  So how about this: we make her BADASS.

Random Editor Who Knows Less About DC Characters Than Fans Do:  Hmm...badass might not be enough to sell books.

Judd Winnick:  Oh, wait till you hear what I have in mind!!  Not only are Fire and Ice gonna fight each other--it's gonna be so hawt!!--Ice is gonna turn all ice-elemental-monstery, and look all unhuman and stuff.

Artist-guy Who Draws Generation Lost But Whose Name I'm Too Lazy to Google:  Dude, we've got to do something about Ice's costume.  I mean, like, she's always got this stupid half-sweatshirt thing covering up her boobs.  We've got to get rid of that.  She's like the only heroine not showing cleavage.

Judd Winnick:  Hell yeah!!  When Fire and Ice have this big fight--and it's so going to be in character, don't worry editor-guys, she's gonna turn all icey and go whoosh and her clothes are going to burn off so we can lose that stupid boob-cover.

IT Guy Who Happens to Be In The Room Fixing Ethernet Cables:  Don't you mean "freeze" off and not "burn off?"

Random Editor Who Knows Less About DC Characters Than Fans Do:  Still, this has been done before.  I can't think of any specific examples, but I know heroes have fought each other.  Hey, look!  A pigeon!

Judd Winick:  Well, get this!!  We'll make it completely character-driven!  We'll go back and explain to the unknowing audience all about Icemaiden's tragic origins and how she killed her father and all this stuff...

Artist-guy Who Draws Generation Lost But Whose Name I'm Too Lazy to Google:  Can I draw her in a midriff even though she lives in Norway?

Judd Winick:  DUDE, that makes TOTAL sense.  Why didn't I think of that?  Because all hot girls should always dress in midriffs, even if it's twenty below zero.  I mean, that's like a comic book RULE.

All three bow their heads before a portrait of Dan DiDio and recite the Oath of Comic Book Writing:  "We shall always portray our heroes as badasses.  Our characters will only be motivated to become heroes after a tragic childhood.  Decent characters will be killed off for no reason other than to sell books.  All women will wear thongs and wear bras as tops and be angry all the time to show how strong they are.  Our crossovers will never be bound by the laws of logic, lest they actually make sense.  Batman is the bestest character ever.  In the name of the Mighty Morrison, we pledge our allegiance.  Amen."

Judd Winick:  Ohh!  Oh!!!  I just thought of something!!  I'm going to make Ice swear like a trucker!  I mean, if a character doesn't swear, they're a total wimp, right?

IT Guy Who Happens to Be In The Room Fixing Ethernet Cables:  How much do you people make for this?

Random Editor Who Knows Less About DC Characters Than Fans Do:  Okay, that all sounds great.  Let's make comics, people!  Now, who wants a donut?

* * *

Thus ends the worst blog post I've ever written.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wearing a costume and running around fighting crime/causing crime is the most impractical thing EVER

Okay, after days of swearing at pieces of fabric and stabbing my fingers with pins, and spending half a day in a mask and headpiece, I've come to the conclusion that there is no practical value whatsoever in dressing up to fight crime or perpetrate villainy.  I couldn't blink with the mask on, I couldn't grab anything with gloves (let alone type), my little wrist cuffs kept on falling off, my sleeves rode up, the pants twisted around, and the headpiece got really, really annoying, and the white "face paint" (jerry-rigged white concealer stick, really), got on everything, so I couldn't even touch my face.  And even though I wasn't running around, I was wearing heels.  Argh!  Cosplay is not fun!  I can just imagine the joys of dressing up as Wonder Woman.

So that got me thinking who has the most practical costume?

The best I could come up with was The Question.  Just a man in a suit.  That's pretty easy to run around in, though maybe not the best for actual hand-to-hand combat.  The hat might fall off, too, but no big deal.

Any Green Lantern can generate his or her costume from their ring, so that's carte blanche to have whatever kind of costume your heart desires.  So Green Lantern costumes = practical.

Shapeshifters get a pass, too, considering that their clothes are a part of their body.  (I think.  No one's ever answered that question to my satisfaction.)

So, hooray for these guys.

Anyone want to add to the list?

Oh, here's a picture of Vril Dox.  His outfit is pretty practical because it's a military uniform.  And he's got jodphurs.  I like jodphurs.  And Vril Dox.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can Mars just go away now?

Okay, my comics finally came and I got a chance to read Brightest Day #12.  Of all the stories, I'm liking the one revolving around the Martian Manhunter one the least.

Since the Martian Manhunter is one of my favorite characters, I had really high hopes for his story arc.  I thought Brightest Day would be an opportunity to take the character back to his roots, or maybe back to his roots with a little twist of noir.

Instead, the J'onn's antagonist is basically a female version of Malefic.  *sigh*  (For the record, I really don't like Malefic, J'onn's evil twin brother, for those of you who don't know who he is.)  Coupled with that is an origin retcon, which always bug me to no end.

But all of that out of the way, here's what I think really needs to happen to bring the charcater of the Martian Manhunter to new heights:

Get rid of Mars.

Get rid of it!  I don't mean obliterate the planet Death Star-style, but just let it stay in the background, not the forefront.  Here's why:

1.  Mars is so poorly defined.  Is it a war-like culture reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs?  Is it a planet/nation of philosophers and poets?  Honestly, I can't keep track of what Martian culture was like.

2.  And while we're at it, can we cut out the whole "the entire planet has the same culture/government/language bit?  As much as I love Star Wars, the fact that Tatooine is entirely desert makes no sense.  (Okay, "Galaxy far, far away," so I guess it has different rules.)  Yes, I know there were White Martians, which to me, are a mess to begin with anyway.  There were Pole Dwellers, but they got retconned out, I tink.  But take a look at these speech bubbles from Brightest Day #12:

The Martian Symbols of Love and Hate?  Slip "Earth" into that sentence and it makes no sense.  Can you think of the Earth symbol for danger?  The Earth symbol for love?  If someone dropped you off a country with a completely different language and culture, would you even know what a stop sign looked like?!  ARGH!  A whole planet can't have the same culture!

I think somewhere in the DC universe it was explained that Earth has a variety cultures.  To me, that's just an excuse to have a lack of imagination.  That's why whenever I see a female alien creature with hardly any similarity to humans yet is still drawn with bosoms to identify her as female, I start wanting to throw things across the room.  It makes no sense and it's just lazy.  Heck, even abs shouldn't be the same.  Which brings me to point 3.

3.  The Green Lantern universe handles aliens and alien cultures much better than any incarnation of Mars ever could.  So you know what?  Let's just forget everything about Martian culture, leave it as some sort of vague understanding that it was slightly different than Earth culture, and let J'onn J'onzz move on to superheroing and detectiving, and leave the aliens to the mythos that does it well.  Stop trying to define Mars, becuase the whole Mars history has gotten so convoluted, that there's just no way you can define it with any modicum of logic short of another history-changing Crisis.

4.  Every story centered around Mars, by default, makes the story about J'onn J'onzz being an alien, not about what he does as a superhero.  There is no forward motion in a story that basically boils down into a character trying to figure out his destiny when he already chose it decades ago.  In any recent story that I can think of, J'onn J'onzz doesn't DO anything other than try figure out who J'onn J'onzz is.  He's become the Odo of the DC Universe, for those who have seen Deep Space Nine: he is only defined by his race and how different/similar he is to them.  Sure, Odo was the security guy who bantered with Quark, but he was the "good Dominion guy," too.  There's more to J'onn than just being the de facto "good" alien of the JLA.

5.  Quick: name three things Superman stands for.  Okay, try that with J'onn J'onzz.  It's nowhere near as easy, is it.  Why?  Because any major Post-Crisis story involving J'onn J'onzz--except American Secrets and DC: The New Frontier--boils down to "Should I like Mars more or Earth more?"  The more Mars is in the foreground, the less J'onn J'onzz's core values are.  And I don't mean core values as in "Earth is more important to me than Mars," which is a passive value.  I mean it in the sense of what a hero considers is worth fighting for and acting upon, like "Truth, Justice, and the American Way."

6.  Get rid of Mars, get rid of the Superman parallels.  The less J'onn is torn between two worlds, the less he is like Superman, and the more he can do other things to make him different.  You know, like be a detective.  Kind of how he started out.

Okay, rant is finished.  Anyone got any counter-arguments?  Or some Maalox?

Talking Comics With the Uninitiated, Part 2

So a while back I had a conversation with my mother about Wonder Woman's new costume and how much she hated it.
I'm starting to get my Halloween costume together.  Two years ago I made a promise to someone (who's going as the Joker) that I'd be Harley Quinn, which left me kind of at a loss as to how to pull off a work-safe (a.k.a. not super-tight) Harley Quinn costume.  Lo and behold, I managed to pull it off by finding a jester costume to modify.  I have no sewing machine skills, so this is where my mother comes in.  She has no idea who Harley Quinn is.
I had been showing her various pictures of Harley to give her an idea of what she looked like, but I never explained to her who she was exactly.  Actually, I did, but she wasn't listening at the time.
Apparently my mother thought the costume was a part of her body or her skin something, and not like an actual suit.  I don't know what goes on in the heads of non-comics readers...
Mom:  Well, I don't know what all these superpowers do to people!
Me:  She doesn't have superpowers, Mom.  She's just a girl in a suit.
Mom:  Oh.  But what about the horns?
Me:  They're part of her costume!  She's got pigtails and stuff.
Mom:  Okay.  You still have to make the glasses yet, right?
Me:  They're not glasses!  That's a mask!
Mom:  Oh.
Me:  And she doesn't have superpowers.  She's just crazy.
Mom:  What?
Me:  She's nuts.  She's the Joker's sidekick.
Mom:  She's a villain?!  Wait, I thought she was a hero!
Me: *facepalm*
Mom:  So she's a devil or something?
Me:  No!  She's cute!!!  See?  She's all like clingy and the Joker's all like, "Get off of me!"  It's funny!
Mom:  Okay, I guess she's kind of cute.
I then started asking my mother if she could take the headpiece apart and re-sew it back together because the black and red were on the wrong sides and she's like, "Does it REALLY matter?"  And of course I'm like, "YES."  Never offer to make anything for someone with OCD.  She is going to switch the sleeves around because they don't match at all, but I conceded the headpiece and the tunic, so it will be backwards, so I'll just have to pretend I'm Bizzarro-Harley or Left-Handed Harley or something.
You can just imagine how entertaining it will be when I take her to see the Green Lantern movie next summer.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Are All Characters Sacred?

The two part "Starro the Conqueror" episode of Batman: the Brave and the Bold which featured B'wana Beast had me thinking deep thoughts the other day about minor characters.

It seems as though that both the comics industry and comics fandom operate under the premise that any character, no matter how small, out-of-fashion, ridiculous, or poorly thought out, is sacred.  For the former, it is because they are intellectual property that might garner profits, for the latter, it is out of emotional attachment and identification.

Is this a valid premise, however, for a creative industry?  Should all characters be above censure, even if hardly anyone likes them?  Is it okay to admit a mistake, forget a character was created, and move on?

I offer this up as an open-ended question, because I have not come to a conclusion myself.  I can offer points on both sides of the argument: there are some characters I just don't like, and at the same time, I applaud the efforts of writers who can take an obscure character and bring him or her to new heights.  That being said, I don't like to see legacy characters trotted out in low-quality stories just for the sake of selling books.
But I teared up a little at the end of a cartoon about B'wana Beast, so that's got to count for something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Adam Strange by Alex Saviuk

Part of my love for Adam Strange stems from how many cool flying poses the guy can assume.  Carmine Infantino always managed to draw so many awesome poses for Adam in his Silver Age stories that communicated a realistic sense of motion through the air.  I also love it when superheroes have their own flying styles, or even fighting styles, that pushes them into the realm of iconic and original.

So whenever I see a contemporary artist find a cool pose for Adam Strange, I'm very happy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 49

49.  Justice is served, Harvey Dent style (Batman: Shadow of the Bat #62-63, 1997.)  (***Potential Spoilers!***

I know hardly anything about The Punisher, but the more I think about it, the more I think I'd like him.  Sometimes I need a break from the peaceful-warrior style of Justice served by heroes like The Martian Manhuner, and I need a Machiavellian approach to satisfy those darker yearnings for  (Did I mention I'm half-Sicilian?)

Fun Fact: My Mom's dog is a Chow Chow!

There's a book I have called Batman and Philosophy in which one of the essays examines whether Batman's decision to not kill the Joker is causing more lives to be lost.  Depending on the mood I'm in, I'll waver between, "Don't sacrifice your morals and break your one rule!" to "Oh, just kill him already and be done with it!"  But Bruce Wayne won't ever pull a trigger, even in the name of Justice.

But guess who will?

All Batman villians must laugh when shooting their henchmen.  It's just tradition at this point.

Yeah, that's right, Batman: Harvey Dent will get your dirty work done.  Good thing about leaving things to the Fate of a coin toss: it's really good at absolving guilt.  The good portion of Harvey's psyche decices to emerge and punish criminals under the mantle of "Janus."  He's pretty darn close to being a superhero, too: he dons a mask of the Greek god Janus and some black robes and starts punishing criminals and righting wrongs, and even twarts Two-Face's plans to destroy the city, becoming his own nemesis.  I could get used to this.

Plus, as an added bonus, we get to see Harvey Dent in a naval uniform and speak all piratey and shoot people with a gun that makes really cool sound effects:

C'mon, say it out loud, you know you want to: SHFF!!

Oh, and slap people around, too.

If anyone at DC is looking for a "new" angle to take Harvey Dent in, instead of the hoodie-wearing-betrayed-by-his-own-gang incarnation, you could always revisit this.

Just don't forget the military uniform, okay?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Monday!

It's Monday.  Yay.

We all need a little pick-me-up, so how's this?

A lovely picture of Ice, a.k.a. Tora Olafsdotter, looking all cute and adorable and holding an even cuter and adorable-er baby seal.  Awww.  Look at the cute little expression on his face!  And his cute little flippers!  And Tora's holding him so gently so he's not all scared.  Wouldn't it be nice if comics had more scenes like this in them?  Who doesn't love cute little furry animals being held by sweet, nice superheroines?  (Judd Winick, I guess.  And maybe Satan.)

You know, this is much better than scenes like in last week's Generation Lost where Ice's outer self freezes off revealing her deep-down-off-the-chain ice elemental/bad girl center.  Let the Freudian analysis commence on that one.

Actually, forget the analysis and just look at Tora holding a baby seal.  It's a lot more relaxing this way.

Hooray for denial!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

DC Universe Classics Jemm Figure

For all fans of Mars and Saturn, the DC Universe Classics line has recently released both a Jemm, Son of Saturn figure, and two variations of the Martian Manhunter.  The guys who run just posted some pics of Jemm, so if you're curious, check them (all) out, because I think Jemm looks pretty cool.  (I would post a pic here, but the creators of the site don't want things reposted, even though I found an easy way around their don't-take-photos-from-our-site-coding.)  If you don't feel like clicking links to see his picture, I can try to describe Jemm to you:

He's got ears that are pointier than Spock's yet not quite as substnatial as Lord of the Rings elf-proportions, he's got E.T. fingers and mustard yellow eyes.

Kinda sounds like lyrics from a Beatles song when I put it that way...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Rannt for Weakness

I have to start out by saying that this idea is all Scipio's fault.  Again.  That guy really gets my brain working.

If you don't know, Scipio, in his blog The Absorbascon, has a peculiar dislike for the people of Rann and their appointed defender, Adam Strange.  Being an Adam Strange fan, this always irked me, even if I did find myself laughing at the majority of his posts skewering "those filthy stinking Rannians."

Scipio's point of contention against Rann is that it is a planet populated by weaklings who have fallen into a level of idol worship so pathetic that its citizens are inspired to build life-size dolls of Adam Strange and have trapped in him a codependent relationship because Adam Strange seeks out those who need him to fulfill his sense of self-worth.  (He even had a whole label devoted to Why We Hate Adam Strange And Those Stinking Rannies.)

Everyone's entitled to like or dislike whomever he or she desires and lots of fun can be had through satire, but too many people climbed on the "I hate Adam Strange" bandwagon for me to find much fun in it.  The crux of the hatred hinges on the fact that Rann, as a planet, is weak.

To which I say, "So what?"

Rann was a peaceful country, which had developed all sorts of technological wonders.  A weak planet is nothing more than a story-telling device to show how an ordinary Earthman can become a hero under the right circumstances, just like Gotham is so ridiculously corrupt to highlight Batman's endeavors.  Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars was not peaceful by any means, but they certainly had trouble with leadership.  That is, until Earthman John Carter came along and fixed everything.

The second part of the argument is that Adam Strange is a direct ripoff of Flash Gordon.  Well, I'm not historian, but I'm pretty sure Flash Gordon ripped off John Carter of Mars.  Shakespeare ripped off a few things from Greek mythology (and possibly Philip Marlowe), too, so I guess we can throw him under the bus while we're at it, too.

Which brings me to the second point of my whole rant: is weakness in comics ever justified, especially for the female gender?

I work in a place that constantly promotes "strong, independent women."  I hear that so much I think my employer may have trademarked that phrase.  But this is exactly what we want in real life: strong, independent women capable of making a difference in the world.  But in fiction, especially a story about superheroes, does it make any sense for every single character to be strong and capable of saving themselves?

I'm pretty sure Lois Lane has been criticized for having to be saved by Superman.  Sure, she can take care of herself in lots of situations, but if Darkseid shows up in Metropolis, I'm pretty sure she'd be helpless.  What's a superhero if he can't save his girl?

Or vice versa?

Expecting everyone to be strong and capable deprives comics of one of its essential facets: saving those dear to you.  Yes, historically, many of those needing saving were women, but those women in need of saving were balanced out by the existence of female superheroes.  Let's have a variety of personalities and a variety of strengths: for any woman in need of rescuing, we have a female superhero.  For every woman shown who cannot stand up to a thug in an alley, set aside a quick panel or two and show her expressing a different kind of strength (psychological, emotional, willpower, etc.) in another aspect of her life.  I feel that comic writers are operating under the fear of portraying women in a stereotypical fashion, when all they need to do is think realistically.  Show a few men who need saving as well.  Honestly, who among us wouldn't run screaming if Despero landed on our front doorstep?  It's only human.

And the human element is what I like to read about most in my comics.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adam Strange pinup by MachSabre

Thanks to Frank from the Idol-Head of Diabolu for pointing out a sketch of one of my favorites, Adam Strange.

MachSabre looks like he's completing a superhero alphabet, which is such a cool idea for an art project.  If I could draw people with even a modicum of skill, I'd try a superhero alphabet.  Because not only would Adam Strange be first, Ted Kord would be second.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Make Your Own Hawkgirl Mask...In Only An Hour!!

I was cruising the aisles of Joann Fabrics with the maternal unit today getting my Halloween plans in order.  I happened to see one of the little free project sheets sticking out from one of racks while looking at the in miscellaneous aisle in the back of the store:

Forget Bruce Wayne going back in time and being Cave Batman.  How about a Neolithic Hawkgirl?

And of course, when I saw this, I immediately flipped out and took one.  Incredulously, the instructions say "one hour" for the crafting time, which I find highly dubious.  I find it even more dubious that anyone would want to make this in the first place, even if it is cool-looking.  But I did find it interesting to know that you can sculpt leather just by soaking it in water and letting it dry.  You learn something new every day I guess, right?

Rivets?  Does anyone know how hard it is to rivet leather with hand tools?

So who's going to go make a Hawkgirl/man mask?  Come know you want to!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Real Life Heroes: Electron Boy

I just happened to hear about this story via a commenter in Shag's blog, Once Upon A Geek.  Did anyone hear that Seattle was saved by Electron Boy from the clutches of Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy?

Electron Boy's alter ego is Erik Martin, a thirteen-year-old boy living with liver cancer.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted him his wish to be a superhero for a day, which involved training with Spiderman, riding through the city in a DeLorean, and saving the Seattle Sounders soccer team, several civilians, and a city worker, ending in a dramatic showdown at the Space Needle.

You can read about the amazing efforts of the city of Seattle, including its citizens, police force, and city council, as well as the heroics of Electron Boy and the Make-A-Wish Foundation here, and here.  It might make you tear up a little, though.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I got nothin'

It seems like a pretty slow week, comics-wise, with nothing too major out on the shelves.  My Adam Strange Brave and the Bold is STILL running late, so I don't know when it'll be shipped to me.  Other than that, I have nothing new and exciting to report.  I envy bloggers who can riff about all sorts of topics under the sun and are gifted with a wellspring of inspiration which drives them to produce interesting posts day after day.  I, myself, on the other hand, just kinda sit there and look at the blank new post window hoping for something interesting to pop into my head.  I never was any good with coming up with original ideas.  I figure there's only so many analyses or "interesting" observations I can make about the comics world before I run out of the few ideas I already have.

So, I throw the ball to you, dear reader: is there any topic you'd like to see me talk about?  Or would you like my opinion on a certain topic?  Or just want to ask me anything?  Carte blanche.

I think I just spelled that wrong.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 50

50.  J'onn J'onzz goes back to John Jones (JLA #104, 2004, collected in JLA: Pain of the Gods.)

I'm a big fan of small moments in comics.  Some belittle those, and the reviews on Amazon for the trade reflects that.  (I think someone called this trade the "Pain of the Reader.")  Okay, some of the stories seem a little forced, and even the Martian Manhunter one isn't stellar all around, but I see it as a nice break from fighting interstellar armies and sorceresses and Darkseid all that.  It's all about variety for me.

Anyway, for whatever reason, the JLA are in the mood for getting some heavy duty feelings off their chests.  While John Stewart is talking about that whole Xanshi debacle, J'onn decides he needs to be "elsewhere."

And that elsewhere is as a temp worker at a detective agency in his guise of "John Jones" (complete with hat.  Who-hoo!), where he manages to creep out his bosses despite being a stellar employee.  So one of his superiors decides to send "Loony Linda" to follow him around to make sure "there are no bodies in his refrigerator--and if there are..."

Linda and J'onn find themselves having dinner and during their conversation, J'onn just picks up and leaves.  The next night, J'onn is getting all Batman on an abusive husband, and Linda accidentally sees that John Jones isn't human.

Linda shows up on John Jones's door shortly thereafter and tells him she saw him.

John Stewart then shows up and congratulates Linda on figuring out what's really driving J'onn to act the way he is, and that Mr. Stewart had had it backwards the whole time.  J'onn wasn't feeling uncomfortable fitting in.

I know some long-time readers thought J'onn had regressed socially, but I read this early on in my comics reading career, so I came in with a fresh mind.  It was nice to see J'onn in his secret identity doing some detective work and helping regular folks down on the street.  I really miss that.  Who says only Batman has a monopoly on the "little" crimes?

Besides, artist Ron Garney and colorist David Baron did a fine job of evoking the John Johns aesthetic from the 1950's, with a few touches of Darwyn Cooke's work in DC: The New Frontier, and that's a combination I'd definitely like to see more of.  I mean, look at J'onn's little New Frontier-inspired apartment, complete with Oreos and chair right in front of the TV:

Apparently they don't have mothers on Mars that tell you not to sit too close to the set.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Harley Quinn, Feminist

I know, that title probably doesn't seem right to you. But bear with me for a while, and maybe I can illuminate you about my line of thought. Who's up for a good old fashioned thesis?

Thesis: Harley Quinn is a feminist character.

I hate to go all feminist rant, because that just isn't me.  But here's the one feminist argument that I can make, which is a little different from most.  To me, sexism is the stereotyping of female characters to represent a certain role or set of behaviors, based on society's expectations of what a "woman" is.

Taking a broad view of Wonder Woman, for example, I see a serious-minded woman who promotes peace, and who is somewhat of a mother figure.  So, Woman = mature, responsible, serious, motherly. can that possibly be a bad thing?

Have a look at this ad:

So Woman exists only to tame her man, make him grow up and settle down, deny him all sorts of fun stuff, and generally just suck all the fun out of his life.  Oh, and to buy her diamonds or whatever girls supposedly want.  (Don't get me started on jewelry ads.)  Geez, marriage sounds like hell.

That's a really hit-you-on-the-head example, but ironically, I had forgotten about it.  It was this commercial that stuck out in my mind:

While the guy is listening to the end of his favorite eight-minute song, the girl sits there on the pavement, rolling her eyes, waiting for him to be finished with his juvenile antics.

Because girls never do anything eccentric or silly.  Only boys are allowed to "be boys."

Why does this commercial bug me?  Because way back in high school, my friend and I did pretty much the exact same thing.  Driving her home, her favorite song came on the radio, so she made me drive through an empty parking lot (at 2 a.m., no less) and circle the lot until it was over.  Ahh, the indiscretions of youth.

I totally shot my thesis in the foot by drawing on personal experience, but so what, it's my blog and I can make or break the rules of logic here.

So who is Harley Quinn?  She is fun, she's childish, she's eccentric, she's free-wheeling.  She is the opposite of every stereotyped responsible mother sacrificing her time to drive the kids to soccer practice, and who points to a meticulously-balanced checkbook when her husband pleads for a new Dodge Charger.  She's liberated herself from the stereotypical female domestic roles of responsibility, maturity, and seriousness.  If it were up to Harley, she'd sit around in her PJ's eating cereal and watching cartoons and playing in her room full of toys all day.  Not only would she buy her man a Chevy Charger, she'd buy him a machine gun as well, and shred the checkbook, too.  Harley took one look at society's expectations of her and said, "Heck with this.  I'm buying a pair of hyenas for pets."

Counter-argument: Harley Quinn is a "battered woman" and is not way an empowered female character.

Counter-counter-argument: Did I mention she has a whole room full of toys?