Sunday, January 30, 2011

1984 Superman Postcard by George Pérez

The Man of Steel, the last son of Krypton! He started it all, and he's still the best.

That line pretty much says it all, but perhaps not in the manner intended. These DC postcards from 1984 usually offered a very brief take on the featured hero, offering a bit of origin, motivation, and/or powers. Nothing of that sort here, because Superman is a gateway super-hero; one of those characters you know before you know virtually anything about anything. I probably had Superman's origin memorized before I could write my own name. One of my earliest coloring books starred Superman and featured art by José Luis García-López and perhaps, if memory serves, Jerry Ordway. I remember seeing Superman: The Motion Picture with my mother in 1979, and again on our crumby little black and white television when ABC ran the network broadcast premiere (for which I stayed awake past the helicopter rescue.) I used to watch George Reeves in The Adventures of Superman, and I bought my share of comics.

Therein lay the beginning of the problem. Action Comics and Superman got poor distribution in Houston, so the Superman comic I bought the most was DC Comics Presents. I loved The Brave and the Bold because of its jazzy Bob Haney scripts and snazzy Jim Aparo art, plus Batman was pared off with cool, obscure heroes. DC Comics Presents featured art by whoever needed a paycheck that month, and no more dedication on the scripts. The team-up characters didn't seem to have much pop, either. You'd think I could find solace in World's Finest Comics, but even as a kid I found Superman and Batman unpalatable as partners, and the stories seemed even worse than DC Comics Presents. I couldn't even catch a break on cartoons, as Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends absolutely shamed any of the Superman animated shows. Hell, even The Incredible Hulk, a cartoon I'd just as soon skip, was still superior.

My last major hurrah as a Superman fan was during the big John Byrne revamp of the late '80s. I came on around the twelfth issue of the new Superman, also pulled the team-up version of Action Comics monthly, and even got pissed at Maury Povich for making a sarcastic comment about my shortly-revisited favorite hero on an episode of A Current Affair. That all ended sometime around the 18th issue, which featured a cover of some Otto Octavius looking mad scientist controlling a robot to attack Superman. I realized in all the months I'd read the book, the only villain I had liked was the Silver Banshee. Action Comics #600 was only interesting because of Wonder Woman, and truth to tell, I couldn't figure out what I had really dug about the books beyond the art of John Byrne.

For several years, I had no interest in reading Superman comics. He never got his Dark Knight Returns, and while the quality had improved from my early days, Superman seemed to just tread water every month. I jumped back on the bandwagon for Reign of the Supermen, because the resurrection of an all-new, modernized Superman or four for the 1990s was too intriguing a notion to pass up. I came to really like John Henry Irons, and hate the rest. I hung in for six months or so after the end of the story arc revealed the sum total of Superman's bold new direction to be a particularly ridiculous mullet and some terrible new villains. They could have at least had the decency to finally get rid of those stupid red trunks.

I read various Superman comics throughout the decade as an extension of my fixation on following the DC Universe as a whole. It was during this time I was taught to hate Superman. The same tired creative team across four monthly books and a quarterly seemed like tent evangelicals preaching the superiority of Superman by way of making other super-heroes look bad in his presence and offering no villains who could pose a consistent threat. Superman was clearly the most powerful and unsinkable hero in all of comics, killing any drama and undermining any realistic characterization. Superman may have been everybody's first super-hero, just as everybody loves their family when they're children, but at some point you grow up and realize the flaws you were too young to understand. With parents, you see a reflection of your own frailties, and they turn from idols to friends. Superman was like the overbearing parent who still tries to push you around when you have a family of your own, never turning a critical eye inward.

"He's still the best" like the Fantastic Four was "the world's greatest comic magazine," because a publisher dogmatically tries to will it so with mere words. The truth is that Superman is a developmentally stunted man-child and his creative teams are at best stifled, at worst muzzled. Superman is to super-heroes what those moral majority types are to politics: anachronistic throwbacks to the illusion of a simpler time defined by its injustice against all but a lucky few.

It makes me mad, because a still have most of a thoroughly read and seriously battered 1970s treasury edition of Superman #1 where the Man of Steel was an idealized social crusader for the common man and the most universal Judeo-Christian values. I remember the good-natured guardian Superman of the '50s TV show and a couple of good movies. I see in the fans of Smallville people with middling taste but the best intentions when it comes to super-heroics on the small screen. I miss having the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by Superman. It seems he's so busy being the best, he forgot how to be worth a damn.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Direct Currents: Saturday, January 29, 2011

DC Releases The Names Of 14 Flashpoint Mini-Series, But What Is The Mystery Of The 15th Title?

It’s Flashpoint Friday in the world of DC news, and that means another dose of info about the major upcoming event in the massively multicreator DCU. Speaking of, there’s been much discussion recently regarding just how far-reaching this thing is going to be, and today’s information dump is sure to fan the flames of that.

Will McG Make Diana Prince A DC Woman Kicking Ass… on TV?

The on again, off again, on again Wonder Woman television saga takes another interesting twist today with Deadline’s assertion that the Charlie’s Angels director and producer of nerd-savvy tv such as Chuck and Human Target is the front-runner for the directing gig on NBC’s Wonder Woman.

'Green Lantern' Movie Guardians Debut on Official T-Shirt

The official Green Lantern trailer gives fans a quick look at the home planet of the Central Power Battery, Oa, but what of the grumpy old men who run the joint? Usually it's up to action figure press materials or leaked concept art to break character design news, but today Comic Book Movie spotted a licensed GL t-shirt from Urban Collector sporting the cinematic likeness of at least three Guardians of the Universe.

The Comics Code Authority - DEFUNCT Since 2009?

Not only does the Comics Code Authority no longer appear to have any power, but it's questionable what the organization has been doing for the last year — even though publishers like DC and Archie were still using its approval stamp on their comic book covers.

Kim Jong Il Is Batman

From the Onion News Network, Kim Jong Il’s suggestion that he would disarm nuclear weapons if he can star in the next Batman movie. Beautifully observed.

Hot Buttons: What Happened to SOCIAL COMMENTARY in Comics?

Denny O'Neil, Judd Winick and Greg Rucka discuss the intersection of comics and social commentary in this latest "Hot Buttons" installment.

Joe Prado’s Blackest Night Character Designs. Around A Hundred Of Them.

Joe Prado designed many Black Lantern versions of DC Universe characetrs for the Blackest Night mega-crossover. And now he’s selling them on his website, along with other original art. You can buy them here…

Steve Rude Gallery

Op/Ed: WIZARD Magazine: A Eulogy to Days Good and Bad

Wizard and ToyFare are dead. We're certain you've heard. Now, Zack Smith looks back on the glories and failings of the magazine that once defined comics.

Piles of Heroes Make Out and Watch Wonder Woman Get Born [Art]

If you happen to find a shortage of hugs and kisses in your comic book stack this week, look no further than the group portraits of deviantART user Pe-u to fill in the gaps. Brazilians are well known across the world for embracing love and affection, and Pe-u lives up to that reputation with some manga-infused pieces inspired by Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the X-Men and the Teen Titans.

The Many Lives of Selina Kyle

With the casting of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," SPINOFF ONLINE takes a look at the on-screen history of the sexiest cat burglar to prowl through Gotham City.

Best Art 1/21

Friday Flashback: 1984 - Kenner DC SUPER POWERS

This week's flashback goes to 1984 and the Kenner DC Super Powers Line. Can Superman make you remember these toys? U DECIDE!

Artweek 1.28

Comic Book Legends Revealed #297

In this week's edition of CBLR, you'll learn the unlikely origin of the use of the term "grim and gritty" in connection with Batman! Also, discover what story famed TV writer Greg Weisman had to wait over two decades to tell!


The Absorbascon
The Attack of Jean Loring's Brain Week Part 5
The Attack of Jean Loring's Brain Week Part 6
The Attack of Jean Loring's Brain Week Part 7

The Aquaman Shrine
Aquaman Shrine Interview with John Ostrander - 2011
Aquaman (Vol.7) #14 - March 2004
Bootleg Aquaman Figure
JLA Can Cooler - 2010
JLA: Liberty and Justice Preview - 2003

Armagideon Time
Nobody’s Favorites: The New Guardians

Being Carter Hall
Hawkman Head Sketch by Michael Turner

Comics Make Me Happy!
When John Jones was younger...
Harley Quinn art by John Smith
Booster Gold sketch by Mike Wieringo
Booster Gold cast for Smallville

Evan "Doc" Shaner corners THE FLASH
Evan Keeling corners THE BATMAN FAMILY

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
2011 The Toons talk Wonder Woman by Fictionskin

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
Man-Bat #2's (November 1975) "Fugitive from Blind Justice"
"PLOPular Poetry" From issues 18-24 (August 1975-August 1976) of DC's "Magazine of Weird Humor" PLOP!

El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker
Giving Something Back

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
Let's check in with our friends Batman and Tony Daniel

Firestorm Fan
John Ostrander: Exclusive Interview with FIRESTORM FAN
Custom Firestorm Plush
Firehawk by Garrett Blair

Girls Gone Geek
A Word About Diversity

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Middletown Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot"
1998 DC Direct Martian Manhunter Poster by Christopher Moeller
2010 "Manhunter" by Ajay Naran
2010 "Manhunter from Mars" by ~joseph
2011 Superman's Dark Secret: An Unaired Episode of Super Friends

Justice League Detroit
2005 The Vixen "Hey Baby, What's Thong?" art by Darren "Roadkill" Taylor

Kevin Nowlan
Bat Lash TPB cover inks over Nick Cardy
2009 Batman & Batgirl

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
"Spores From Space" from Mystery In Space #1, 1951

Power of the Atom
Wizard: The Comics Magazine #136: Ultimate DC Atom (January, 2003)

Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
Sexuality and Story: When Relevance Is Arbitrary

Silver Age Comics
A Modest Defense of Death

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Howie Long as Rick Flag, what say you folks?

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Interview With Sterling Gates And Jamal Igle, Part One
Interview With Sterling Gates And Jamal Igle, Part Two
Review: Action Comics #897
Back Issue Box: 'Dark Supergirl' in Supergirl #4
New Kotobukiya Supergirl Statue
Review: Justice League of America #53

The Thought Experiment
Daily Batman: Year of the Anne Hathaway Catwoman

Weekend Review Section 12/31/10

Wednesday Is A Long Day, Yet I Don't Care #94

The Buy Pile by Hannibal Tabu: JANUARY 26TH, 2011

AICN Comic Reviews for Release Date: 1/19/11
More AICN Comic Reviews for Release Date: 1/19/11

Newsarama's Best Shots Comic Reviews:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wizard: The Comics Magazine #136: Ultimate DC (January, 2003)

Click To Enlarge

I felt bad about leaving out characters that didn't fit onto my other Ultimate DC blog posts, so aside from the John Stewart spotlight, I'd like to reference them here.

Ultimate Superman was designed by Ken Lashley. The Wizard Staff only offers "After Smallville" as their take on a newly active Man of Steel. He's even still dating Lana Lang long distance while setting up in Metropolis, which the TV show moved past a year or two after this.

Ultimate Flash was also drawn by Lashley. The Wizard Staff brought back Barry Allen as C.S.I. in Los Angeles, mentored by homicide Detective Jay Garrick and aided by District Attorney Iris West. Like Tower Comics' and Deluxe Comics' Lightning, this Flash is prematurely aging because of his powers, and he's on the hunt for a serial killer (Murmur.) The twist is that there's a Black Flash around... the Wally West of the future! Ouch. Whimper.

Finally, there's our Ultimate Green Lantern, dishonorably discharged Delta Force operative turned social activist John Stewart. Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington switch roles in "Training Day," with the black rookie uncovering the corruption of his superior officer in the GL Corps, Sinestro. As it turns out, Sinestro murdered all the Guardians, and has been secretly giving unworthy parties Green Lantern rings until he can kill them as well. Then, with his Manhunter robot army, he can conquer the galaxy! I swear Ken Lashley didn't draw all of these, but he covered each of the ones here.

Ultimate DC Day continues here...
Ultimate Atom @ Power of the Atom
Ultimate Batman and Aquaman
Ultimate Wonder Woman @ Diana Prince
Ultimate JLA @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who's Dat : The Crab

Alter Ego: Bunk Norton
Occupation: Crooked Entrepreneur
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Norton Amusement Pier
First Appearance: Police Comics #63 (February, 1947)

Bunk Norton ran scams before being sent to prison by Plastic Man (disguised as a red setter with yellow and black stripes.) Norton stewed in the pen through the best years of his life, learning never to smile and to imagine himself with a protective shell around him. Norton came to appreciate crabs for their toughness, defense mechanisms, and slow but calculated movements. Norton was himself apple-bodied with long lean appendages, a bald head, and jagged teeth. Combined with his fascination with crustaceans, Norton picked up the nickname “The Crab.”

After his release from prison, the Norton Amusement Pier went into full swing, without much attempt to conceal the criminal activities within. Folks might win a hundred grand at the Casino Faro, but there was sure to be a blackguard waiting to rob anyone who got too lucky, and turn the loot over to the Crab. Anyone who complained wouldn’t get further than one of Norton’s other goons in the company offices, too wound up in tossing through girlie magazines to take notice.

One night, Plastic Man decided to investigate the pier, and ran into his sidekick Woozy Winks. Woozy had parlayed his pool skills into winnings enough to have an attractive girl in each arm and cash sticking out of every pocket. Plastic Man looked on discretely as the girls helped distract Woozy from pickpockets, and silently observed another fellow robbed at gunpoint. Plas took note of the victims’ names and losses so that their money could be returned once his investigation was completed.

While concealed as a bust on an office mantle, Plastic Man observed the Crab hold a hireling named Lefty’s hands together behind his back as he lifted Lefty’s arms well over his head, and ground his feet into the man’s back. This torture technique was used when Lefty tried to hold back money, and after it was retrieved, he was tossed out a door opening directly on the water. Plastic Man rushed to save Lefty, who couldn’t swim, but the fellow died of a heart attack induced by fear at the site of crabs in the water.

Almost immediately, all the lights and rides on the pier were shut down, and all of the patrons were shuffled off. Woozy Winks stayed behind to complain that he had been robbed, and wound up diving in the river, trying to retrieve a quarter. Plastic Man dove in after him, and both discovered that the Crab had a secret underwater headquarters. Woozy wanted to continue after his money, but Plastic Man sent him to dry out so that he could address Norton’s more serious crimes.

Norton was with the two women that had helped to bilk Woozy, and slapped one for failing to notify him that she had seen Plastic Man earlier that evening. The other lady hoped to changed the subject to avoid being hit herself by pointing out the large red fish watching them from a porthole. The Crab noticed the fish’s yellow and black stripes, and used the suction from the opening of an antechamber to draw Plastic Man into a trap. As it turned out, Norton enjoyed starving crabs until he could make them eat anything, even an India rubber man.

Woozy Winks had been searching Norton’s offices for his money, and stumbled upon a secret elevator. Woozy accidentally locked himself inside, but also Norton without. The Crab stopped laughing in the face of Plastic Man’s pain to try forcing his way through his elevator’s gates. Meanwhile, the Pliable Paladin stretched to open a hatch to the water outside, flooding the secret headquarters. Plas then worked his way out of his cage and on into the elevator, then managed to open the gate’s lock. While the heroes escorted the ladies to safety before water fouled the elevator’s cables, Norton was left to be eaten alive by his pet crabs. The Crab’s smut loving henchman Rick soon agreed to help Plastic Man retrieve Norton’s ill-gotten gains and see them back to their proper owners.

The Crab was quite tall and exceptionally strong, but did not appear to possess any superhuman powers. His teeth were all sharpened, making him resemble a piranha.

I don’t consider it an insult to be called a crab… I admire crabs! They’re smart! They move slowly, but they get what they’re after! And did you ever see a crab eat a victim once he got him?”

Created by: Jack Cole

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DC Was Still Doing Wonder Woman Bondage Covers in 1977, Three Decades After the Death of Dr. Marston. Aren't You Glad I Told You That?

Justice #9 (February, 2007)

Previously in Justice...

The Legion of Doom found "It's time to wake up. They are all having the same dream. Over and over again. Every one of them. All so humanity will survive these creatures of tomorrow."

The super-villain's plot to destroy the super friends unfolded...

The news media was all over it...

Bizarro burst through the ceiling of Clark Kent's apartment, and pulled Superman out to fight in the steets of Metropolis...

In no time, the Power of Shazam was at Superman's disposal.

John Stewart was searching for Hal Jordan

Once again, the Wisdom of Solomon trumped any thoughts in Superman's head.

In an Arabian desert, the Flash broke up Captain Cold's mini-harem.

"With a word, I become the world's mightiest mortal. With a whisper, the thunders call my name. I am Captain Marvel. And in the infinity of possible retaliations against Brainiac and Luthor and their cohorts that we could make this day, there is only one that is perfect. Only one that is just.

All words are magic. That is the beginning of wisdom. Secret words open and close doors. They are like keys. That's how our names and identities have been used to endanger those we love the most. That's why a promise to heal has ensnared the world."

Not a bad bit of monologue, but this comic is basically as dumb as Metamorpho, so it won't pan out. "I don't understand. But then, I usually don't." Well Metamorpho, the world has been taken over by good deeds done with bad intentions, in no small part helped by mind-controlling synthetic worms getting into people's brains. As Captain Marvel noted, the villains "could never naturally form this sort of alliance. They are criminals because of their inability to sustain any sort of community." Also, Hal Jordan wasn't killed by Sinestro because his power ring would have just gone to John Stewart, so better to stick him someplace out of the way. "I'm still working on my G.E.D. What is he saying?" Oh, Metamorpho.

Captain Marvel was magically transported to a battle against Gorilla Grodd where he was supposed to be protected from infection by Green Lantern's power ring. However, Black Adam was also on the scene, and lured the Big Red Cheese away by threatening the life of his sister. Of course, Mary Marvel was only playing possum, as she and Captain Marvel Junior were both in thrall to the worms. "You're so stupid, Billy. Where's your wisdom now? You left your friends." While Black Adam and Junior held Captain Marvel aloft, Mary Marvel returned the power of Shazam, and began falling to her inevitable death. Adam wanted Captain Marvel to "Say the magic word." With tears in his eyes, Marvel asked, "...please..." Adam sneered, "That's not it."

The World's Mightiest Mortal broke free with the strength of Hercules, then flew after Mary with the speed of Mercury. Mary again called down the thunder, striking Captain Marvel. The champion of Shazam landed with a thud, as he could no longer hear the gods whispering their powers to him, for he was now worm food.

Under the direction of Batman, the Atom and Doc Magnus, the Flash constructed suits of armor for the Justice League to wear as protection from the worms. That hadn't done Captain Marvel any good, as he began slamming into the outer walls of the Fortress of Solitude. Asking why would require a wisdom he now clearly lacked. Even Captain Marvel couldn't take on all the collected heroes on his own, so why not front an army of super-villains, if they knew where the League was located? Why knock, when Marvel should be strong enough to pick up Superman's key? If not, how about if Black Adam and the Marvel Family had been in tow? No, we would instead have another one-on-one fight with an (unprotected) Superman, until Captain Marvel was captured by Green Lantern, and his worms removed. Useless tangent? Deux ex machina? You be the judge.

Hal Jordan and Captain Marvel were sent by Batman to Arkham Asylum, where they found that Dr. Sivana, inventor of the worms, had been locked up by Brainiac. Why? Stop--using--wisdom--readers!

Most of the Justice League donned their armors, including Green Arrow and Plastic Man, but not the absent Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, Metamorpho managed to defeat Gorilla Grodd by becoming a gas and choking the Super-Gorilla before he even knew the Element Man was present... and Rex even managed to steal a yellow power ring. Who's wise now?

"Chapter Nine" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Plastic Man Postcard by Ethan Van Sciver

Looking back on my childhood memories, I do believe Plastic Man was the first super-hero I actually hated. In fact, I wasn't even 100% sure he was a "real" super-hero at first. You see, I loved almost all the super-hero cartoons featuring Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Superman and so forth. Those guys were very much in the comic book mode, especially the '60s Marvel ones where they literally cut up and barely animated actual comic book art. Then there were all those tongue-in-cheek pretenders the cartoon studios trotted out, like the Blue Falcon, Atom Ant and the rest of those big fakers who were still riffing on Batmania over a decade after it died. I made allowances for the ones who took the work seriously, like Space Ghost and Birdman, even though I knew they weren't proper comic book adaptations. Like Jules Feiffer, I resented super-heroes that got too cheeky, as though they were mocking myself and the other kid viewers who wanted legit super-hero action, and Plastic Man was the biggest traitor of the bunch.

You see, even though it would be years before I read a Plastic Man comic book story, the cartoon made it clear that he was in fact a DC Comics character, and it also made it plain that he sucked. Like a one man Impossibles, Plas could basically become anything, was never in physical danger, and generally employed wimpy non-violent methods of fighting crime. While regular super-heroes had a decent supporting cast, Plastic Man had that klutzy idiot Hula-Hula that was never not annoying. His girlfriend Penny's primary charm was lost of a prepubescent, not that she would be my type even now, and boys only have so much tolerance for incessantly distressed damsels. Plastic Man had the worst villains, and then they went and added Baby Plas, because kids love watching shows about new fathers and the trouble their super-powered infants get up to.

The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show was an anthology like Space Stars, and while I was never a huge fan of The Herculoids or the Galaxy Trio, they were still alright. Not only was the Plastic Man cartoon itself terrible, but it was "supported" by absolute crap like Rickety Rocket, Fangface and Mighty Man & Yukk. However, even taking all that into consideration, the very worst aspect of the show was the live-action inserts in which a smirking, smarmy, terribly unfunny actor played Plastic Man as the show's "host." That guy made the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man look like the George Reeves Superman.

Probably the first Plastic Man stories I read were in Adventure Comics, and they weren't much better than the show. Plas would turn up here and there over the years, but I think it says something that even when Justice League was desperate for name characters in its post-Legends relaunch, nobody bothered with Plas. There have been numerous attempts at "funny" Plastic Man specials, mini-series and even an ongoing, and speaking as a guy who loved Ambush Bug and Blue Devil, I just couldn't see the appeal. Those books were all bland sitcoms masquerading as comics, like adapting the tired television super-hero parodies back into the books themselves.

I did buy a Plastic Man Super Powers Collection action figure, but only because it was so cheap for so long in the discount bin, I finally took pity on it. He was useful when other toys needed someone to beat up. I was always losing action figures to thieving kids in my neighborhood, but no one ever stole Plas. He was still in my collection until my brother lost every single one of my figures at some camp for juvenile delinquents he went to. I bet some pre-teen kleptomaniac looked at that Plastic Man and realized he must have a serious problem if it had come to this.

In the late '90s, someone finally decided the character was historically significant, and then Grant Morrison went and added him as the "trickster god" in his vision of a pantheistic JLA that pretty much marked the point where his run started limping. Morrison thought it would be brilliant to recast Plas in the Jim Carrey mold, problem because he was really high during an Ace Ventura: Pet Detective/The Mask double feature. Plas became the gratingly obnoxious ass intended to offer "comic relief," which was usually related to ancient Warner Brothers sight gags and the sexual harassment of super-heroines. In searching the internet for art to go with this piece, I came across no shortage of both, and I feel the twenty-fifth image of a partially disrobed Wonder Woman choking a perverted Plas really drove home how pathetic the character has become.

My history with Plastic Man was toxic, and one punishing comic appearances after another stoked that earliest childhood hatred across three decades. A funny thing happened in 2001, though. I was convinced by solicitation copy to read Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits by Art Spiegelman. The book was part biography of the creator, part history of the character, plus classic reprints and a look at cultural impact/artifacts, all of it presented through the graphic design artistry of Chip Kidd. The whole production was outstanding, and completely changed my perspective on Plastic Man. I followed that up by reading old school essays on Plas by guys familiar with the original material, and then made sure to sample Jack Cole's work myself, and realized why it's considered one of the high points of the Golden Age.

I now realize that Plastic Man is one of the truly under-appreciated gems among super-heroes, with classic stories potent enough to outlive most of his '40s contemporaries, making it a month into the Silver Age before his publisher sold out to DC (who in turn sold out the character.) I don't hate the Plastic Man, only DC's inability to write the character remotely correct. You see, Plastic Man is not an all-ages goofy character. He's the straight man with a kinky body meant to navigate a thoroughly crooked world. The old comics are filled with dark humor and dirty deeds committed by delightfully wicked n'er-do-wells. Plas is himself an ex-crook who still pals around with the opportunistic Woozy Winks and busts gun-runners, sweatshops run on child labor, diabolical entities, and so forth. Plastic Man is relevant, sexy, and cool in hindsight, and it's only the minds of his writers that got small.

There's a reasonable amount of decent art of cartoony Plastic Man on the internet, both geared for kids and arrested development cases. However, I went to the trouble of coloring and otherwise enhancing an Ethan Van Sciver convention sketch for this "postcard" because he seems to be the only illustrator out there who "gets" the character. Plas may be malleable, but there's handsome heroic features and an underlying anatomy in Van Sciver's interpretation. The Pliable Paladin needs someone who can bring back the serio-comic elements of Cole's awesome comics. I can't think of any writer better than Gail Simone to join Van Sciver in playing up the contrast between the necessary humor of Plastic Man with the darkness and complexity of his world, the latter having been completely forgotten over the years. Rumors have placed both creators on a prospective project in some dim future, and if there's any justice in this industry, it'll be Plastic Man.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2010 Power Girl by ~joseph

Click To Enlarge

I like the thought that went into this piece, with a seemingly self-conscious Kara sizing herself up in a changing room, the specter of her origins dangling from a retail outlet hanger of Damocles. I would argue that the artist's calling Power Girl a misandrist is painting with much too broad a brush, and is likely derived from her terrible characterization during the Justice League Europe years. To read more, click the link.

~joseph also offers an insightful look at Martian Manhunter, so check it out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Direct Currents: Friday, January 21, 2011

DC Comics Solicitations for April, 2011

DC Comics has released solicitation information and images for new comics and products shipping in April 2011, including the latest from "War of the Green Lanterns," "Brightest Day" and much more

"Batwoman" Delayed?

DC Comics will delay the debut of the eagerly-anticipated "Batwoman" until April. The series, by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, and Amy Reeder, was set to launch in February. Williams explains...

Flashpoint To Retitle And Renumber All Manner Of DC Books

So what will we get? Inaction Comics? Jonah Hex And The Outsiders? Batman And Robin Hood?

The Secret Seven – Flashpoint Renames The Secret Six, And Brings On George Perez

Anne Hathaway Is Selina Kyle In "Dark Knight Rises"

The star of such films as "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Brokeback Mountain" will join Christian Bale for the next installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise as the eventual Catwoman along with Tom Hardy's Bane.

DC Ditches Comics Code Authority, Installs New Ratings System

After nearly sixty years, DC Comics has decided that none of its publications need carry the Seal of Approval of the controversial Comics Code Authority. The announcement was made in a communique to direct market retailers, which also included the news that DC will employ a new ratings system of its own design. Deployment of DC's new ratings system will begin in April.

Jimenez Enrolls in the Legion Academy

New DC exclusive artist Phil Jimenez spoke with CBR News about his upcoming work on "Adventure Comics" and the start of the "Legion Academy" arc that introduces the future to the possible Legionnaires of tomorrow.

Writer Hopes New DC STATIC Ongoing Series Clings

Writer Felicia D. Henderson talks about the launch of DC Comics' new STATIC ongoing series later this year.

About Oracle’s Chair

Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone is seeking realistic design recommendations for Oracle’s wheelchair...

"The Exile at the Edge of Eternity" from Superman #400

The last completed Jim Steranko graphic story in full.

Catch Up: Everything You Need to Know About 'Hellblazer' Before The Wednesday Wedding!

With 275 issues published since 1988, Hellblazer is not only Vertigo's longest-running series, but one of the longest running series currently being published by DC, period. Its only competition are books featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Every new writer tends to put their own stamp on the series, and two years into Peter Milligan's run on Hellblazer he's ringing in the anniversary with a special occasion: the marriage of John Constantine to Epiphany Greaves. After the jump, we've got everything you need to know to get onboard with this week's Hellblazer #275.

The Latest DC Converse Range Goes Classic

Converse has been running DC branded footwear for the last few months, this new line seems to be a little more classic-facing in its approach, eschewing the Jim Lee for something closer to the middle of the twentieth century…

What if Superheroes Were Animated Hipsters? [Video]

Tanner and the fine folks at CollegeHumor have taken the novel superhero hipster concept to its next logical step: animation.

Francos Pagnolo's Justice League Gets Edgy and Colorful

Pagnolo lists his attempt at capturing DC'a heroes as an exercise in personal style and coloring on his blog at He definitely succeeded in injecting a look that's not been seen in their normal monthly books, and the Peter Pan and Indiana Jones art there shows that he's open to a range of other body shapes.

Kanye + Comics Mixes Kanye West Lyrics and Superheroes

Whatever you think about Kanye West as a human being, you have to admit the man has a way with words. It's not necessarily a good way, but it is a memorable way and a way that has no doubt inspired some great discussion/debate/mockery sessions between friends...

The Batman Nightclub 'Wayne Manor' Revealed in 1966 'Life' Magazine Article

I've seen the cover featuring Adam West in what I can only describe as a full-on frolic before, but it wasn't until today that Andrew Weiss sent me the actual content of the article, which focuses on the Batmania that was sweeping the nation after the TV show became a hit. The article also features the musicals inspired by both Superman and MAD Magazine, but far more interesting is its focus on how the public reacted to the show.

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 01.17.11

We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists and/or specific bodies of work, but there's just so much great work to see that we've initiated Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the virtually countless pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our travels across the digital media landscape. Some of it's new, some of it's old, some of it's created by working professionals, some of it's created by talented fans, and some of it's endearingly stupid. All of it's awesome.


The Absorbascon
The Attack of Jean Loring's Brain Week Part 4

Amazon Princess
Travis Charest

The Aquaman Shrine
Aquaman (Vol.3) #1 - June 1989
Aquaman (Vol.3) #2 - July 1989
Aquaman (Vol.3) #3 - Aug. 1989
Aquaman (Vol.3) #4 - Sept. 1989
Aquaman (Vol.3) #5 - Oct. 1989

Armagideon Time
Look, up in the rafters!

Being Carter Hall
Hawkgirl's Day Off

Comics Make Me Happy!
Hangin' around and falling behind

Uriel A. Duran corners THE JOKER

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
JLA #83 (September, 2003)
2010 Wonder Woman #272 Notebook and Twin Pocket Folder Style #3008DC

El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker
JLA #54 Variant Featuring Eclipso!

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
Action Comics Weekly #608: The one where Hal Jordan goes on Oprah
Justice League: Cry For Justice

Firestorm Fan
Green Lantern Corps #57 Variant Cover

Gone & Forgotten
The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse

Kevin Nowlan
2007 Bizarro Commission

Girls Gone Geek
WTF? Wednesday: You Better Work, Jimmy!
2010 Memorable Moment: Frau Finds Love

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
CW to continue 'Smallville' in spinoff 'Middletown' series
Bill Smith
Lego Minifig Custom Martian Manhunter by pjcustombricks
The Transconscious Articulator

Justice League Detroit
Vixen: Return of the Lion #1 (December, 2008)

Kingdom Kane
"Secret of the Golden Maharajah!" from The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog No. 38, March - April 1958

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
The origin story of the Black Condor from Crack Comics #1, 1940

Power of the Atom
DC Sampler #2 (September, 1984)

Silver Age Comics
Superman and Lois

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Erica Durance: Maybe a better Plastique then Lois Lane?

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
News From Blog Friends
Review: Supergirl #60
Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #24
Review: Superman #707
Bullet Review: Red Robin #19

The Thought Experiment
Liberated Negative Space: Bat’s outta the bag edition

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who's Dat: Weapons

Real Name: Unknown
Occupation: Weapons development and trafficking
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
First Appearance: PLASTIC MAN #5 (Autumn, 1946)


Weapons was a "merciless wizard who created tools of death for a murder-mad underworld!" Initially working with the Grub Street Gang, Weapons made "an amazing improvement in automatic firing" which seemed to bridge the classic Thompson submachine gun of the prohibition era with later full automatics. The advanced firearm came to the attention of Plastic Man when it was used against federal officers as they attempted to raid the gang's lair. Unable to silence a gunman while entering the hideout through a window, Plastic Man saw the fellow gunned down by his compatriots, distracting them long enough for G-men to storm in and wipe out the gang.

The mobster Jimalong was impressed with Weapons' gear, but wanted improvements, and the addition of a high-powered grenade launcher seemed to do the trick. However, Jimalong never arranged an exclusivity agreement, so Weapons sought out his rival Hoopsnake and began profiting from arming both gangs. However, Plastic Man was allowed to examine one of the Grub Street Gang's confiscated rifles, and after breaking it down, found it required a specific type of spring specially made by a single known vendor. Unfortunately, that lead never bore fruit.

Gang warfare broke out in the streets, and Plastic Man was able to partially interrogate a participant before the gangster was shot in the back with a grenade. Weapons was also on the scene to observe his creations in action, and began spying on his pursuer. The Ductile Detective swiftly eliminated several possible work spaces for the arms' production, and zeroing in on a correct location, was the subject of an attempted assassination by Weapons. Failing that, Weapons returned to his lair, Plastic Man and his sidekick Woozy Winks close behind. While the pair were forced to overcome a gauntlet of traps within Weapons' house, Plastic Man eventually caught his man. However, Weapons chose death over confinement, and killed himself by smoking an explosive cigar.

Besides his grenade launching machine gun, Weapons thoroughly fortified his home with devices acquired and of his own invention. These included a trap door leading to a nearby waterfall, a photo-electric cell triggered machine gun battery secreted behind wall panels, bombs, a swinging guillotine, a "multiple knife thrower," a rifle with a barrel designed to shoot around corners, a battle axe, and a disintegrator ray. Weapons ended his life with a cigar that would fire a bullet into the smoker's mouth five minutes after being lit.

"I don't like that chap! He's too selective-- too critical! If he sees many more wrong answers, he'll find the right one!"

Created by: Jack Cole

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Captain Marvel Temporary Tattoo

I've only seen clips of B:TB&TB online, but I look forward to buying the DVD set sight largely unseen at some point in my future. I'm a somewhat atypical fan of DC cartoons, in that I prefer the goofy rewatchable nostalgia of Super Friends to the more adult Justice League. It's like how Batman: The Animated Series was far superior in execution to the Superman one, but because the Batman stories were more complex and involving, I find I only want to see an episode once or twice. Superman was more action oriented and peppered with guest stars from the greater DC Universe, so I find I revisit those episodes more readily. In the case of Justice League, my interest hinges on who the featured player is and the merits of individual stories. B:TB&TB strikes me as so jam-packed with obscure characters and novel asides, every episode would have something worth the watch.

It seems to me that Captain Marvel is almost too perfect for such a show. The world according to Fawcett was so cartoon friendly, Batman's presumably snarky presence would probably aggravate me, or I'd be frustrated not to see the possibilities of a proper Marvel Family show played out in full. The Big Red Cheese thrives in isolation, and with the exception of stories like "Clash" that are designed to contrast sensibilities, "Shazam" sounds like "Superman" on a budget .

The Irredeemable Shag of Once Upon a Geek facilitated this post with scans of his temporary tattoos. Besides his swell comprehensive post at Firestorm Fan, he allowed me a few character spotlight tats, and I threw in myself with a sticker set. Check them out at the links below...

Firestorm & Company Temporary Tattoos @Firestorm Fan
The Atom (Ryan Choi) @Power of the Atom
Despero @The Idol-Head of Diabolu
2009 Sandylion Batman: The Brave and the Bold Sticker Bits @Justice League Detroit

Cinema Blend's 2011 "Superhero Movies By The Numbers" Infographic

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1984 The Elongated Man Postcard by George Pérez

Deriving his powers from the elixir of Gingold, he's the Stretchable Sleuth. When there's a mystery afoot, Ralph Didney, with his famous twitching nose, and his socialite wife, Sue, make an unbeatable team.

I believe one of the first times I ever saw the Elongated Man, not to mention the whole of the Justice League (as opposed to "Super Friends,") was on George Pérez's magnificent cover to 1983's Justice League of America #217. I noticed this stretchy guy flinging his neck about in the background, and my response was, "oh, another one." Like most people, I never particularly liked super-heroes with that particular power, and am never pleased when Martian Manhunter shows similar plying inclinations. What respect I have for Mr. Fantastic comes from his superior intellect. I've had to make a conscious effort to unlearn decades of Plastic Man hate based on his cartoon show and lousy modern comic appearances. Turns out the Jack Cole originals are some of the best comics of the Golden Age.

Leading the discussion back to Elongated Man, I'm already fighting the urge for another tangent. Ralph Dibny was an okay guy, and I liked Sue quite a bit. That doesn't change the fact that as far as I'm concerned, the only interesting thing Elongated Man did in 2 1/2 years of Detroit League service was to pown Vibe in his final outing. His time with Justice League Europe was similarly misspent-- the hero most obviously suited to be in a "funny" League that never pulled any laughs. When your non-powered, unadventurous wife outshines you simply by providing decent supporting work to other characters, you should have your hero card revoked. The only time Elongated Man ever worked for me was as a straight detective, but he was rarely shown in that light, and that was Plastic Man's original territory to boot!

Poor Elongated Man. So little love for you. Many heroes gain a soul with their passing, but even in death, Sue Dibny upstaged him...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Superman: The Man of Steel #24 (August, 1993)

"This is Neil Watts, live for WLEX Coast City. The WLEX news chopper is circling the impact crater in the Coast City Mall parking lot. Whatever made it came hard and fast! Holy smoke! Inside the crater are two of the Superman... the Man of Steel and the visored one who calls himself the Last Son of Krypton! Minutes ago they were brawling in Metropolis! Like thousands of viewers I'm asking myself... what are they doing in California? And what is this fight all about?"

A process server had tried to deliver cease and desist papers to both men, as someone seemed to be legally shoring up the Superman name for themselves. When the Last Son of Krypton tried to fry the worker for the slight, Steel came to the defense. The Kryptonian took Steel into outer space, and the pair crash landed on the other side of the country. Steel then began to pound the Last Son, repeatedly pointing out all the things he had done that Superman would never do. While the art clearly showed Steel battering the pseudo-Superman senseless, (editorially mandated?) thought balloons had the Kryptonian insisting Steel's display was foolish for one whose power he so clearly dwarfed.

The Last Son of Krypton came to the realization that he lacked the human compassion the Man of Steel had in abundance, and that "there must be more to Superman than power!" When police arrived, the Kryptonian bid Steel return to Metropolis, as he answered cries for help there in Coast City.

Team Luthor raided a toastmaker factory in Metropolis. Gangbangers with BG-80s penetrated some troopers' body armor, but the thugs had no defense against a gas attack. The White Rabbit looked on from an office, putting off her pudgy nerdlinger aid Graham to hear "what little Lexie Jr. wants with me!"

Luthor II heard the word on the Rabbit, and while obfuscating the facts from his girlfriend Supergirl (Matrix), also had Steel offered a plane ride home. "If I can't own you, Man of Steel, I want you out of the picture. Permanently!"

Lois Lane was still coming to terms with Clark Kent's "death," as his apartment would soon be up for grabs, and his job at the Daily Planet was already given to Ron Troupe. Her friend Jeb Friedman was still around to console Lois, and he thought to himself "if the only way I can have you is on the rebound... I'll take what I can get."

Lex Luthor, still keeping up his Aussie shtick while prancing around in a cloned body, negotiated to have the White Rabbit and her gang ambush the Man of Steel upon arrival at Metropolis International Airport. When Toastmakers and "Dr. Bunny's" enforcer Digit couldn't stop Steel, the White Rabbit finally unleashed Graham. The portly poindexter ripped out of his glasses and already undersized striped shirt to become a blob so rotund he looked to have eaten a few Frederick J. Dukes. However, Steel's boot jets worked to singe Graham's belly, allowing the hero to catch his Rabbit and fly her away for questioning.

The BG-80s were being produced at the old abandoned Ordster plant, at least in part, but the White Rabbit was willing to sacrifice the digs if she could snare Steel in a trap. A bomb destroyed the plant, but the Man of Steel managed to escape, wondering about why the missing White Rabbit would reference "giving me to Luthor for a present? He's supposed to be one of the good guys."

Luthor II thought it a shame such an attractive woman had appeared to perish, but he had access to her henchmen, a BG-80 he could replicate, and the secret identity of John Henry Irons he could manipulate.

"Impact!" was by Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove & Dennis Janke.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Direct Currents: Friday, January 14, 2011

Okay, seriously. I have a problem. Stop me before I kill time again.

Sequel To Wednesday Comics From DC Coming. Steve Rude Contributing New Gods Story

Hypergeek noticed a Facebook response from Steve Rude’s wife Gino that stated this was an upcoming project by Steve for DC Comics...

Jesus Saiz will be joining BIRDS OF PREY as the regular ongoing artist.

“It’s not a small order…it has to be someone who can draw action, humor, suspense, love, hate, beauty, villainy. It has to be someone who can draw beautiful women who can also kick your rear end. It’s a special book, we think, and it needs a special artist..."

The DC Comics Reading List of the DC Universe Online Team Revealed

The long-anticipated DC Universe Online launches today, an MMORPG that will doubtlessly bring the characters and mythology of the DC Comics universe to an audience much broader than its devoted fanbase. We've played the Beta, and while we can affirm that it's very easy to pick up without preexisting knowledge of DC Comics, there are mountains of references and nods to DCU goodness that may leave a lot of gamers wanting to know more.

Hester on Villainy, Inc

Writer Phil Hester has big plans for Wonder Woman in 2011, which includes digging into dark corners of Diana’s past and deep into her rogues gallery.

An Oral History of CAPTAIN MARVEL Epilogue: The Future

In this epilogue to the 12 part oral history of SHAZAM/Captain Marvel, creators ponder the future of the character.

Bob Haney Interviewed by Michael Catron Part One

Bob had created or co-created Sgt. Rock, Doom Patrol, Eclipso, Teen Titans, B’wana Beast, the modern Green Arrow, the Super-Sons, and others, and had also written the Silver Age Aquaman, Viking Prince, Sea Devils, and Cave Carson, to name a few. And war stories. Lots of war stories. At that time, Bob was writing Unknown Soldier and the Batman team-ups in The Brave and the Bold (another series he’d created)...

Bob Haney Interviewed by Michael Catron Part Two

"Murray never had the balls to do anything on his own, anyway. He just sort of held me at arm’s length. It must have been a full year later at least, in ’54, that I walked in again, that I gave them another try. They were forcing Kanigher to take on a writer. Because he wrote everything himself."

Bob Haney Interviewed by Michael Catron Part Three

"Weisinger, all of a sudden, he invites me to write for him... I didn’t know him or like him..."

Bob Haney Interviewed by Michael Catron Part Four

"Young Devlin, Art’s son [Dean Devlin], who is the producer of that movie, grew up on comics. Spielberg used to come to the DC office. I don’t know if anybody remembers that..."

Bob Haney Interviewed by Michael Catron Part Five (of Five)

"Len Wein thought I was an old, used-up guy. He as much as told me that. I remember one day I was working with him and he didn’t like my stuff and I didn’t like him, particularly. I thought he was an egomaniac and overrated as a writer."

DC Heroes Get Youthful Manga-Style Reimaginings [Art]

Batman's gone manga before, but he and Hal Jordan look young and sprightly in the hands of a deviantART user who goes by the name of Karama-Wari. No matter how youthful Ryan Reynolds makes Green Lantern look in his film this year, her group shot of Hal with Kilowog and Arisia Rrab looks like a promo poster for the greatest GL anime that's never aired on Adult Swim.

2011's Hot Buttons p.3: ROBINSON on DC's Gay JLA'ers

Vaneta Rogers' series on Hot Button topics of 2011 continues with James Robinson on gay Justice Leaguers

That Wonder Woman Make Up Line In Full

Here is the full Wonder Woman cosmetic line from MAC, courtesy of Bella Sugar. Expect to see it in stores from March. And some lovely Michael Allred art to help promote it too.

2011's Hot Buttons p.4: SUPERHERO DIVERSITY

Vaneta Rogers take another look at diversity in the major superhero comic book universes in her latest hot button topic.

Grumpy Old Fan | Ten from the old year, ten for the new: 2010-11 edition

ROBOT 6's Tom Bondurant looks back a year ago to his own analysis of some of DC Comics' big moves for 2010, noting what did and didn't pan out, then he does the same for 2011!

Ted Naifeh Draws Batman and 'Beyond' [Art]

If you've had the pleasure of reading any of Ted Naifeh's work, like Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things or his original graphic novel How Loathsome, you've seen some pretty strange places. His new fixation with Batman, however, contains some very familiar imagery, and even if it turns out that he really isn't going to be a fill-in artist on Batman Beyond, the Bat-art that he's recently produced could make for an enticing audition.

The 'Gotham High' Animated Series that Never Was

Just a day after we reported on the failure-to-launch of David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman television series comes word of another DC Comics-based TV show that is never to be. Gotham High is an animated series concept created by artist Jeffrey Thomas and writer Celeste Green that re-imagines Batman and his cast of rogues as high school students. The project was apparently "lost in the shuffle" at DC Entertainment, but Green and Thomas have released some fully realized character designs and looks for the series, which you can check out after the jump.

Wolverine Sips Some Tea and More In the Art of Mike Maihack

Remember that one time when MRVLCATS stormed the Internet and demanded to be loved for their bottomless pit of cuteness? Well, Mike Maihack contributed to that movement, and his felines got us looking around at a few other super-powered scenes that he's made, like Wolverine pouring a spot of tea or enjoying a brief flight over a Sentinel. A little bit Chris Giarusso and a smidge Dean Trippe with pinch of Alvin and the Chipmunks (the cartoon series, not the film featuring the voice of Jason Lee), Maihack opts for adorable faces over big guns and long thighs in his artwork, but his sketch library is full of lethal and lovely comics ladies like Vampirella, Black Widow and Power Girl.

Sean Hartter's Superhero Movie Posters from Alternate Universes

Graphic artist Sean Hartter has taken the Web trend of re-designing movie posters a few steps further by creating a huge series of posters for geek-based films starring some of history's greatest film stars, all in an authentic period style. Among Hartter's inspired designs are The Punisher starring Jack Palance; Daredevil starring William Shatner; The Maxx starring Sylvester Stallone; Batman: The Joker's Five-Way Revenge with John Barrymore and Lon Chaney; and Watchmen with Peter Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, Max von Sydow, Paul Newman, Lenny Bruce and Anthony Perkins (directed by John Frankenheimer!). Surely, Grant Morrison and time travel photographer Steven Cook would be proud.

Bill Sandefur's Action Figure Comic - Marvel/DC Crossover Part 1

We invite our Marvelous News to check out Bill Sandefur's Online Action Figure Comic featuring a crossover event of Plastic proportions.

Bill Sandefur's Action Figure Comic - Marvel/DC Crossover Part 2

We invite our Marvelous News to check out Bill Sandefur's Online Action Figure Comic featuring a crossover event of Plastic proportions.

Bill Sandefur's Action Figure Comic - Marvel/DC Crossover Part 3

We invite our Marvelous News to check out Bill Sandefur's Online Action Figure Comic featuring a crossover event of Plastic proportions.

Comic Book Legends Revealed #295

In honor of his new movie, all of this week's legends involving the Green Hornet! How did he become the GREEN Hornet? Was he always related to the Lone Ranger? And did J. Edgar Hoover force the show to change its opening?


The Absorbascon
The Attack of Jean Loring's Brain Week Parts 1, 2, 3

Amazon Princess
Wonder Woman blog round-up

The Aquaman Shrine
Mother Goose and Grimm - 12/26/10
AquaSketch by Dan O'Connor - 2009
DC Super Pets: Heroes of the High Seas

Armagideon Time
Nobody’s Favorites: Prince Ra-Man
Sacred Cow Tipping: Watchmen

Being Carter Hall
Image: Angel-Hawk?

Comics Make Me Happy!
A statue of "Ajax"

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
2010 Funny or Die Video: A Date with Diana (NSFW)

Firestorm Fan
Killer Frost Cosplay
Brightest Day #17 Post-Game Report

Girls Gone Geek
2010 Memorable Moment: Daddy and Zee
2010 Memorable Moment: Iron Owl
2010 Memorable Moment: Cat Got Yo’ Face!
Exclusive BatWondy by Celina Hernandez

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
The Golden Pyramid
2010 Minimal Martian Manhunter art by Jonah Block
2010 The Justice League Of Pint Glasses by Heather Young

Justice League Detroit
Back Issue #40 (May, 2010): “Foxy Lady: The Vixen”
2010 Minimal Aquaman art by Jonah Block

Kevin Nowlan
2004 Green Lantern vs Sinestro Upper Deck "VS" Card
"Daniel" Sandman bust design

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
"Sivana's Sound Plague" from Captain Marvel Adventures #118, 1951

Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
Thoughts about a Steph-Cass teamup.

Silver Age Comics
Detective #288

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Straight out of the pages of Play Boy magazine here comes Nightshade!

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Back Issue Box: 'Dark Supergirl' In Superman #365
Review: Superboy #3
Review: Secret Six #29
Back Issue Box Musings From A Snowed In Day

The Thought Experiment
Daily Batman: Bi-knock-ulars
Meanwhile, upstairs …

Weekend Review Section 12/31/10

The Buy Pile by Hannibal Tabu: JANUARY 12TH, 2011

Comic shop comics: Dec. 29-Jan. 5 by J. Caleb Mozzocco

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #93 by Diabolu


Newsarama's Best Shots Comic Reviews:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Freight Train -- The Lost Bloodline

Hey folks. Luke here, author of Being Carter Hall and El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker. I am also known in some circles as "That weird guy who likes The Outsiders," up to and including the current title by Dan DiDio and Philip Tan.

Freight Train, the muscle- and attitude-laden hired gun of Simon Stagg, had lead the fugitive Outsiders Black Lightning, Owlman, and Metamorpho into a trap in British Columbia. Stagg intended on using Black Lightning's powers to resurrect his deceased daughter Sapphire. After securing Owlman and Metamorpho, Stagg asked "Cecil" to join him in the laboratory where Black Lightning and Sapphire waited. When Freight Train refused to be part of Stagg's procedure, Stagg ordered his manservant Java to subdue him -- by changing into the new Shaggy Man. The ensuing brawl gave Freight Train a chance to recount his origin for the benefit of the reader.

I really like that editorial note. Very apropos.

Freight Train would continue to lay a beating on the Shaggy Java while Owlman and Metamorpho escaped their bonds. The procedure seemed to spin out of control, and Sapphire Stagg regain a semblance of life just long enough to drift away again, this time in her beloved Rex Mason's arms. Shaggy Java had lost consciousness and reverted to his regular self, Black Lightning was barely alive, supported by Owlman, and Stagg had broken down beside his daughter's body. Surveying the carnage, Freight Train quipped, "I don't get it. What's there to be sorry about? We won, right?"

Outsiders #35 was scripted by Dan Didio and drawn by Philip Tan, with both men sharing in the plotting duties. Released with a cover date of February 2011, Freight Train no doubt holds the distinction of the longest unheard from Bloodlines character. At least, until another one comes about...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment (unknown) Trading Card #89

As I've mentioned many times before, the card backs for this set all had commentary text in the voice of a malignant figure. The first card in the set was simply titled DC VILLAINS, with the art incorporating the words "Dark Judgment." The back of that first card read:

I treasure the villain! To my mind, all the so-called heroes would be nothing without him... or her. Countless are the malcontents and outcasts whom the self-righteous would call villains. Some are merely misunderstood, others truly evil. Any or all of them might be of use to me. Who am I? See if you can guess...

Before the checklist, a final card was devoted to (unknown), a silhouetted figure in a tailored trench coat commanding unnatural flames around himself. That card text read...

Now, I must ask... have you guessed my name? Do you know what I have planned? You should, you know... The clues are there... It's all been spelled out for you. Still in the dark? Then know this... My plan will be revealed in the days and weeks to come... and my influence will be felt by villain and hero alike!

You'll note the enlarged first letters in each block of text. Taken from each card and with punctuation added, the cards spell out...

I... There are many names by which I am known, and I shall shake the universe to its very foundations. Call me NERON.

Pretty neat lead-in to Underworld Unleashed, don't you think? The text was written by Roger Stern, and the featured card art by Joe Devito.

Relishing New Year's Evil this week? Find more malicious pin-up fun at the following blogs:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DC Owns?

A few months back, I was inspired by the appearance of Peter Cannon in DCU: Legacies #5 to look at what characters DC has assumed ownership of over the years, as well as to consider the tendency for the company to treat their acquisitions as red-headed stepchildren (which recalls their dalliances with Archie's super-heroes, actually.)

Until the 1970s, DC Comics was technically known as National Periodical Publications, derived from the Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's offering New Fun Comics under the banner of National Allied Publications. Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz, the guys who would really end up running National, came into the picture with Detective Comics. Wheeler-Nicholson was forced out after a bankruptcy, and the core DC super-hero universe began with Superman, Batman and Robin, plus lesser lights like Dr. Occult, Crimson Avenger, the Sandman, the Spectre, Hourman, and Dr. Fate.

Meanwhile, Donenfeld set up a side company with Charlie Gaines called All-American Publications in 1939. This was the birthing place of Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and most of the rest of the Justice Society of America (including the team itself.) This represents the first schism in the DC Universe, because history bears out that their "World's Finest" was long the trio of Superman, Batman and Robin, leaving Wonder Woman and company as the other guys. In fact, for a brief period in 1945, All-American had its own separate "AA" cover logo, but when Gaines sold his stake later in the year, the line was folded into National. Think about this: While latecomer National back-up players like Aquaman and Green Arrow managed to stay in print throughout the Silver Age, the headlining stars of the All-American line were out of print by 1951. The one exception was Wonder Woman, but it didn't help that her co-creator William Moulton Marston and his estate retained certain rights to that character long after his death.

National bought the Quality Comics stable in 1956, and couldn't even be bothered to maintain their copyrights afterward, allowing scores of characters to enter the public domain. Plastic Man was one of the few super-heroes to survive the Golden Age, but National blew off continuing his title and buried him so deep in their portfolio that one of their own editors created a rip-off in 1960 without knowing he could have resurrected the original. National finally brought Plastic Man back for the first of many underwhelming revivals in 1966, not a single one lasting even two years. The other super-heroes pop up now and again, usually under the Freedom Fighters banner. National did continue publishing some of Quality's war titles, the most prominent star being Blackhawk, whom they spent most of the '60s updating and revising to the point of farce, until finally killing the book before decade's end.

After incessant lawsuits levied by National kept the best-selling Marvel Family of titles from being fully exploited through merchandising and media, plus the downturn in the super-hero industry after World War II, Fawcett Comics finally settled and closed down its comic line in 1953. Twenty years later, National began licensing their characters as add-ons to the DC Universe. In the interim, National had hired Captain Marvel's creators to largely recast Superman in the image of Shazam, building his own family and borrowing the lighter tone. By 1973, not only was Captain Marvel out of step with the times, but much of what had made his family unique was now associated with the Man of Steel. Plus, honestly, National couldn't have ever worked out a deal to buy the Captain Marvel trademark from Marvel Comics if it really mattered to them? I think not. DC didn't even acquire all the rights to the Fawcett properties until 1991, about the time they launched the most successful revival of Captain Marvel to date, four years worth of the mediocre The Power of Shazam!

In 1983, DC bought a batch of Charlton Comics "Action Heroes" at fire sale prices. Probably because a former Charlton editor was in senior management at DC, the short-lived and unsuccessful characters were treated with more respect than most once at DC. It probably didn't hurt that Charlton was never a serious competitor of DC's, and that the company had a much greater leeway to reinterpret the characters for modern times. Captain Atom had a healthier run in his solo series than Captain Marvel at DC, and the Question showed more staying power than Plastic Man. It's important to not that DC did not buy the Charlton name nor all of its assets. Aside from the aforementioned heroes, DC also has Blue Beetle, Nightshade, Peacemaker, Judomaster, Sarge Steel and their associated supporting casts/villains. DC only held the rights to Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt until 1993. Thunderbolt's creator, Pete Morisi, had asserted that he owned the character, not Charlton, and an agreement saw the rights revert back to him after a last failed attempt at a solo series. Morisi passed away in 2003, and one would expect DC to trumpet the reacquisition of the character from his estate, had they done so. Therefore, it's safe to assume Peter Cannon's appearance in a 2010 title was either an oversight or a single usage deal.

In 1991, DC Comics licensed the MLJ/Red Circle super-heroes once published by Archie Comics. The !mpact line that followed was a commercial dud that folded within two years. In 2008, a second, smaller scale licensing revival was attempted under the Red Circle banner, this time incorporating the Archie super-heroes into the DC Universe. This also folded within two years, and DC does not own the rights to any of the Archie heroes.

Milestone Media was created in 1993 as a partnership with DC Comics. However, DC does not own any of the Milestone characters. Instead, they have what amounts to an exclusive licensing agreement to publish Milestone characters, while Milestone Media retains all copyrights and creative control.

WildStorm Productions launched in 1992, and sold out to DC in 1999. The line featured cutting edge writers and artists who were then pillaged by other companies or alienated by the heavy-handed management at DC. Their core books were rebooted as a severely mishandled new universe in 2006, and finally folded entirely in 2010.

In 2009, DC announced that they had bought the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from John Carbonaro before he passed away that same year. However, the rights to those characters were disputed in court throughout the 1980s. There was a longstanding argument that the failure of publisher Tower Comics to secure copyright on their characters in their first issue meant they were in the public domain. Carbonaro was a tenacious plaintiff though, and fought for years to shore up his exclusive ownership of the properties. Funnily enough, Archie Comics licensed the characters during one of their super-hero line revivals, and Carbonaro danced with a great many publishers before establishing a (sometimes rocky) relationship with DC in recent years.

Hopefully, this piece helps to clear up lingering questions of who owns what. I think it also makes a case for how the company tends to segregate its acquisitions and show greatly preferential treatment to its in-house creations.