Sunday, February 27, 2011

Guy Gardner sketch by Marcio Takara

I think this will make Sally happy.

How about a sketch evoking the good ol' JLI days?

Here you go!
Here's what the artist says about this piece:

Guy is awesome! JLI was what got me into reading comics! Maguire is one of my gods!

I couldn't agree more.  Check out Marcio Takara's DeviantArt account for more comics goodness!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

So Brightest Day is almost over...

...that went kinda fast, didn't it?

Here's the description of the final issue:
A long shadow is cast across the world in a a finale that will have everyone talking! Twelve heroes and villains were resurrected, but that doesn't mean it will remain that way as the new champion of Earth is chosen!

Hmm.  So who is this New Champion of Earth going to be?  The obvious choice seems Deadman.  It would make sense to kill him off and make him be...well, Deadman again.  But then I thought: that's just way too obvious.

I don't think it's going to be any of the villains, so I'm ruling them out.  Fans seem to have taken to Aquaman too much for him to be in any role other than King of the Seas, plus he's got that new Aqualad to contend with.  There's a lot of story material there to cover a solo series.

Jade kind of went missing--I lost track of her, so I don't think she's high-profile enough in the writers' eyes.  The Hawks are a couple, so I don't think they'll be split up.  That leaves ones of the Firestorms and Martian Manhunter.  Hmm.  It's quite possible that either Ronnie or Jason might be sacrificed to become Earth's protector.  Then I started thinking about that one issue where J'onn sees an alternate future and he's a Green Lantern.  Add to that the fact that Martian Manhunter is low-profile enough that changing his role in the DCU won't ruffle too many fan feathers and he hasn't had anything significant done with his character since the Morrison JLA days in the 90's.  He could easily be transitioned into a new role.

Sooooo....J'onn J'onzz, White Lantern?

What do you all think?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Young Justice: First Impressions

I finally got around to watching the episodes of Young Justice I had saved on my DVR.  Has anyone had a chance to watch this show?

While it's a shame Batman: The Brave and the Bold had to go away to make room for Young Justice, I find myself enjoying it nonetheless.  And that's even in spite of tweaks to character and continuity, too.  So, here's some random impressions:

Overall: It's a quality show, and the voice acting is quite good.  I'm liking the realistic style of the charcters, too.  Seeing some normally-proportioned bodies makes me realize how tiring the giant shoulder/tiny legs Bruce Timm JLU character designs were getting.

Care was taken to make sure each of the characters is unique, which is always refreshing.  Superboy is the brooding, tempermental outsider.  Robin is a plucky technie nerd.  Aqualad is very different from his Brightest Day incarnation: he's regal, exotic, and calm under pressure.  I guess he's like a future version of the Brightest Day Aqualad?  Kid Flash (Wally West) steals the show and is pretty much like non-kid Flash Wally West from the JLU days: impulsive, funny, and a tad arrogant.  Why Wally is Kid Flash and Bart isn't I don't know...becuase Barry is Wally's uncle?

I've got mixed feelings about Miss Martian.  She's cute and sweet but kind of clueless and talks to herself in the third person.  Judging by the number of Miss Martian-hating anti-tribute videos on YouTube ranting that J'onn should disown her, a lot of people don't like her, which makes me want to root for her a little more even though I'm not a big fan of the character in the comics.  I like how she's a more innocent female superheroine, albeit a bit ditzy, which I guess rubs some people the wrong way.  God forbid a female character isn't bad ass, I guess.  Apparently her dress is a point of contention, but I don't think these anti-fans realize it's pretty similar to a Japanese school uniform you would see on an anime series.

It's too bad that the writers had to take liberties with Miss Martian's continuity.  She's J'onn's niece and apparently she has ten brothers and sisters.  So that means she's a.) a Green Martian and b.) Mars isn't dead.  Which is going to be confusing to fans of the show who decide to pick up a few comics about her.  The other huge change?  She has telekinesis and she can move things with her mind.  So between reading minds and moving objects she's ridiculously powerful.  Oh, they kept the "fire" weakness but they changed it to "extreme heat."  And she can't ghost through solid objects like J'onn can.

What I do really like about Miss Martian is (I can't believe I'm saying this) is her clothing.  Like her ship, it's intuitive, so it changes shape with her.  Meaning that she doesn't have to manifest part of her body into a cape, which makes a lot of sense to me.  Wouldn't rendering part of your anatomy into cloth take a lot of concentration?  It was always something that bothered me a little.  Why I hate to admit it: the idea came from the Ostrander Martian Manhunter series, which I dislike greatly.  Except that Miss Martian's clothing isn't alive, nor is it called "Zo'ok" (or was it "Z'ook?") so I'm allowing myself to like that idea.

Oh, and Martian bonus points: I like the way they pronounce "J'onn" on the show.  It's not "Jean" like he's from Paris, nor is it "Juh-onn."  I can't really describe it.

Lastly: Artemis.  I can't stand this girl.  From her poofy early 90's pony tail to her impractical belly-exposing outfit with ugly mask with hair window* that makes her forehead look huge and a chest symbol that she stole from Jade, to her snotty I'm-better-than-you attitude.  Is this character in the comics?  Is she always this mean?  I'm a little rusty when it comes to the Arrow family.

A lot of the show is "teenagery" with who's got a crush on whom and all that, a lot of which is played for laughs.  Kid Flash is head-over-heels for Miss Martian, who's completely oblivious to Wally and who only has eyes for Superboy.  And Artemis likes Superboy, too.  Everybody likes Superboy, except Superman.  Yes, really.  He's quite mean to him.

So far the funniest bits have been Kid Flash freaking out over seeing Miss Martian grow extra arms to swat away robotic monkeys, and when Miss Martian telepathically links everyone up and Kid Flash forgets that everyone can hear him think.  Which is probably something I would do.  Thank God other drivers at least can't hear me when someone cuts me off, is all I have to say about that.

All in all, a good show.  I'm sad Brave and the Bold had to go away, but I'm enjoying Young Justice for now.

*Only Booster Gold is cool enough for a hair window.  Oh, and Animal Man.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy President's Day!

Celebrate like only Superman can!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oh, Mr. J'onzz....

John Carter called.

He wants his red cabochon Mars-symbol-thingy back.

Seriously, though, isn't that cover art up there for Warlord of Mars #7 by Joe Jusko pretty awesome?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wonder Woman's identity revealed

Did anyone hear?

They cast Wonder Woman for the new TV show.

Adrianne Palicki is a 5'11" actress who has appeared regularly on Friday Night Lights, Smallville, and the never-aired Aquaman pilot.

Well, she looks the part, at least in this picture.  I haven't seen anything she's in, so I can't really comment.

Here's the official description of the Wonder Woman show, which has its share of red flags as far as I'm concerned:

The series pilot is a reinvention of the iconic DC Comics title in which Wonder Woman – a.k.a. Diana Prince – is a vigilante crime fighter in Los Angeles but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life. Kelley and Bill D’Elia (“Boston Legal,” “The Practice”) are the executive producers. The pilot was written by Kelley and will be directed by Jeffrey Reiner (NBC’s “The Event”). “Wonder Woman” is from David E. Kelley Productions and Warner Bros. Television.
I'm a little wary of the words "corporate executive" and "modern woman trying to balance all the elements..."  All I can picture is a soccer mom in a power suit on her way to a board meeting with a latte in one hand and a cell phone in the other.  Meh.  Then again, I am a cynic and this could all turn out fine.

What do you all think?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Look at the prety pictures

I'm too tired and fighting off a cold to come up with the blog post I was intending to write.

So in the meantime, enjoy the view of Amy Reeder Hadley's art from Madame Xanadu #21 and some dialogue by Matt Wagner.  Madame Xanadu is having some apartment problems, it would seem, and J'onn still has that trademark dry sense of humor.  Good stuff!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Silver Age John Jones Week, Day 4

Becuase in my universe, a week is ten days, and we're somehow on Day 4.  And it's countdown item #3.  Anywho...

3.  Silver Age J'onn J'onzz had a purpose.

This is something that seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years.  (Or perhaps just in the wake of the Crisis.)  In some 90's stories you'll hear J'onn refer to himself as a "manhunter," which is some sort of Martian peacekeeper kind of role.  But back in the day, "manhunter" was just slang for a cop, and J'onn J'onzz chose to become Slueth from Outer Space.

The gimmick of J'onn's character was that he was a detective who used his powers to solve the crimes that regular humans couldn't.  He's now gotten away from his detective work altogether and many a DC writer doesn't know what to do with him besides make him confront the ghosts of Martian past when flying solo, or acting as the fall guy for Superman in ensemble stories.

Capture the criminal...or go back home?

If you bring J'onn J'onzz back to his detective roots, he'll have some purpose again.  (Another way to give his character some meaning: shepherding a group of immature heroes.  Hey, it worked once before.)  Either way, J'onn needs to DO something to participate in society.  Right now, J'onn isn't serving man or any higher purpose other than the vaguest of superhero motivations.  The more he goes off and is forced to confront rebuilding Mars, the less relevant his is to Earth and the less identifiable he becomes.

Give him a personal mission that forces him to make a few tough decisions, a mission that we can relate to, and it will only improve the quality of his character.

Making the difficult choice: what a hero is supposed to do.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Only Madame Xanadu....

...can smack the Phantom Stranger around.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Silver Age John Jones Week, Day 3

2.  The John Jones noir dynamic.

I recently had the pleasure of reading all three of the available trades of Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley's Madame Xanadu.  What a treat.  More on that series later, but for now, let's just say I was overwhelmingly surprised to see a Silver Age John Johns running around solving mysteries.

Now, I'll take a John Jones cameo.  He showed up for a panel or two in DC Universe Legacies and that made me happy.  Well, to see the character actually understood and used as he should be by Matt Wager was downright mind-blowing.  "Mr. Jones" shows up during the 1950's to help Madame Xanadu to solve a case they are both working on.  He came off so mysterious and full of intrigue that Madame Xanadu at first mistook him for the Phantom Stranger.  Though never revealed his true identity, several hints were laid down in just the right spots.  The end effect was that of an implacable character closely guarding his own secrets and though rent down to his core by his vulnerabilities, still saw to the needs of others over his own safety.

And if it were Popeye helping her?  "I yam as I yam!"  Geez, that was bad.  Even for me.

What I just described up there could easily be a noir protagonist.  While the mystery is generated here becuase Jones is seen from an outside perspective, in the right hands, the same dynamic could be translated to a story seen from J'onn's point-of-view.  It's the setting, really, that makes this all work.

All that needs to be done to achieve this dynamic is bring J'onn back to the 50's and surround him with humans.  Having a secret = instant tension.  Tension = suspense = a good story.  While death is treated as a joke in the comics world, having one's secret identity revealed is a real game changer.  And when a character has to act despite the risk of losing something, well, that makes the story even better.  It's just one more vulnerability for a character defined by his weaknesses.  If everyone around you could potentially blow your cover and cause you to lose your job or your good standing in society, everyday life would be like venturing out into a mine field.  It makes J'onn's current "plight" in Brightest Day about as exciting as reading about someone walking through the park.

See?  That tension showed actually up in the Silver Age, too.

Me, I'll take a mine field over the park any day when it comes to fiction.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hey! I resemble that remark!!

I was so happy to see the letters column come back to DC.  I didn't care about losing the few pages to keep DC's price to 2.99, and the letters column was an added bonus.  "Wow!" thought I, "the return of the letters column is a symbolic gesture that DC wants to get in touch with their fans!!"

But did anyone take note of this particular letter?

So I guess becuase I'm a typical message board, twitter, or chat people-type person (Carl failed to mention blogs, but I'm assuming guilt by association here) that a.) I don't work b.) I don't enjoy reading comics.  Ooookay.  I don't know about you, but I definitely sit around the house all day eating a bag of Oreos whilst recklessly downloading illegal comics by the gigabyte.  And then I don't read them NOR do I enjoy them.  Then, for good measure, I kick a puppy.  No wonder DC can't trust my opinions.  They're the opinions of a puppy-kicking, lazy, unhappy, unproductive, misguided miscreant.  Gee, I never realized that about myself but now it all makes sense.  No wonder I'm a failure at life!

Thanks, DC for keeping my hopes up about your perception of me!

What next, is my dream of a flying car going to be dashed, too??

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Silver Age John Jones Week, Day 2

1.  Why John Jones is here.

We all know how J'onn J'onzz came to be: he was accidentally brought to Earth by a teleportation machine created by Dr. Erdel, and after Erdel's subsequent death, was unable to return home.  A few details were tweaked a bit post-Crisis, but the main idea is the same.

So, stranded on Earth, what options did J'onn J'onzz have?  What was he to do with himself?  Well, he took in a few of the local Earth sights and noticed that our planet is a little bit behind his:

It was then that J'onn J'onzz decided to dedicate himself to his main task.  This is his "bat through the window"* moment:

And he decided to wear a hat.  There was much rejoicing.

So now we know J'onn's reason for being: J'onn chose to fight crime on Earth in the hopes that one day it will be obsolete.  Pretty much like Batman, he used an active decision to turn a setback into a raison d'ĂȘtre, and for both characters the choice easily could've been to indulge in more self-serving activities.

To look at his origin from behind the curtain, the character of John Jones, the Manhunter from Mars was created as a detective who used his Martian powers to solve crime.  He was a detective who happens to be an alien, not the other way around.

*Just in case anyone doesn't know to what I'm referring: a bat flew through Bruce Wayne's window, thus inspiring him to use a bat for his symbol.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Silver Age John Jones Week, Day 1

I'm on a John Jones kick again.  So I figured, why don't I make an event out of it?  Hopefully the week will culminate with something special, when it arrives in the mail.  (Squee!)

So, what do most of us know about Silver Age Martian Manhunter?  Well, it's not all ocean gold-mining and ice cream conjuring.  Yes, there definitely is a hefty dose of goofiness, but like to think of J'onn's original source material in the same way as I think of Richard Donner's original cut of Superman II before Richard Lester came along and added in the cheese: somewhere in there is a serious story waiting to come out.

I think it's only fair to take things at face value (with maybe a few side trips into out-of-context jokes), and I feel that J'onn's early days haven't seen their serious side represented enough on the internet.  (I'm guessing this is probably the case for most Silver Age characters.)  Hopefully I can straighten out some misconceptions, find a clearer focus of who the Silver Age J'onn J'onzz was and why he was created, and dig out some stories that a "modern" audience might appreciate.  If taken seriously, Silver Age John Jones has the potential to be a rich and meaningful character.  It's just that very few writers see him this way.

Maybe I'll need to expand this to two weeks.

For the sake of brevity, here's one panel to get things started.  If you thought my post from the other day about John Jones being a jerk was an anomaly, it's not.  Silver Age J'onn really liked to scare the crap out of people:

Tough love for criminals or just getting his kicks scaring the living daylights out of people?  You be the judge.