Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grifter #1 (November, 2011)

One look at "Mr. Argent" could tell you something was off. His suit was ill-fitting, and his twee eyeglasses did not go with his mutton chops or greasy slicked back hair. Still, Mr. Valdez knew going in that Argent was a con man, and was clearly involved in nefarious business of his own. Valdez paid Argent in counterfeit bills, and Argent gave him a suitcase weighted down with decks of playing cards. Somehow, Argent came out ahead on the deal, and left behind his brilliant disguise of spectacles while trying to catch the redeye of New Orleans.

On his way to the airport, an otherworldly being dragged the grifter into an alley. Grifter woke up strapped to a table next to a tank in which a translucent extraterrestrial floated. Grifter burst his bonds, but was disoriented and hearing voices in his mind. Grifter grabbed a pipe and searched for an exit. He ran into a bald man in a suit, who psychically alerted "Brothers, one has escaped the transfer--" Grifter beat the man silent, if not to death.

Hitting the street, Grifter realized he'd lost seventeen minutes to this misadventure, and raced to the airport. He heard another voice in his mind. "The host body... escaped. Find it. Stop it. Do not... risk exposure..." The voices continued to plague Grifter on the plane, and his discomfort and distraction attracted unwanted attention. A woman who seemed to initially want to comfort the man instead produced a knitting needle from her flesh. Grifter heard her murderous thought, and stabbed her through the eye with her own weapon.

Using a miniature bottle of alcohol, Grifter pretended to hold a bomb detonator, and demanded to exit the slowly ascending plane. A steward turned out to be another killer alien, and both parties ended up free-falling into the ocean. Grifter had snapped his assailant's neck on the way down.

Two hours later, Grifter called his con artist partner Gretchen, who was supposed to meet him in San Juan. As it turned out, Grifter had lost seventeen minutes and seventeen days. Gretchen had connected Grifter to the terrorist on the plane, and figured he'd already screwed her on the Valdez con, so she dumped him. Gretchen was seen approaching a New Orleans police precinct.

"Christopher Argent" was a wanted man, but that was only an alias. At the Pentagon, they knew he was really Cole Cash, a former officer of Delta Special Operations. It was bad enough he'd turned into a grifter, but his former commanding officer would not allow the national embarrassment of his being linked to terrorism. To this end, Master Sergeant Max Cash was enlisted to take his brother out of the public eye by any means necessary.

Cole Cash, friendless and alone, was hiding in a cemetery. He wanted these "demons" voices out of his head, as they discussed pressured timelines and the need to tear Grifter apart. Donning an orange and black mask, Grifter was intent on confronting his "demons," and dared them to find him first...

"Grifter: 17 Minutes" was by Nathan Edmonson, Cafu, and Jason Gorder. I vaguely remember reading the original Grifter #1 back in the '90s, which had the misfortune of being a side story in a crossover event. That book failed to impress, as did this one, for somewhat similar reasons. The issue opens on an airplane, with Grifter hearing voices, being attacked, and falling into the clear blue sky. It might have worked to start in the middle of the action in a movie, but it fails miserably as a comic. Since the reader likely knows Grifter is the hero of the story, there's no confusion about his role. His attackers are also obviously evil and something other than human. The scene therefore does not misdirect or surprise the viewer, and as a comic does not need to immediately hook the reader on an action beat (especially a lackluster one,) so all it does is confuse and disengage.

Then the flashback starts, including an extension of the title sequence, which grinds the breakneck pace to a whiplash halt. It's this nighttime office building rendezvous game of nitwits-- con artistry on the level of putting your thumb between your fingers and claiming to have another person's nose. At least Grifter is finally owning the meaning behind his kewl Image name, if nearly twenty years and a whole bunch of John Cusack movies too late. Tension and reveals have to be built up, all to return to the opening sequence of the book, on which a full page of recap is wasted. Worse, the resolution of the "cliffhanger" lasts exactly one panel, and if Grifter has super-powers that would allow him to survive a midair dive from an airplane, that might ought to be spelled out. The grinding gears of shoddy pacing strip the story of traction. What when laid out sequentially seems like a decent introductory episode feels slight as disarranged modules.

The last few pages are spent dumping exposition that a better writer could have worked into the story, including the completely unbelievable notion that the protagonist's military background would lead a Pentagon official to send his brother after him with extreme prejudice. Let's not get a highly capable but personally disinterested agent to track down Grifter, but instead send a blood relative. No massive, obvious conflict there. Old readers will shrug and say "this again?" New readers will just shrug. This is one of those comics written by someone whose knowledge of the world comes from other comics and video games. Part and parcel, it helps to read other "Edge" line books like Voodoo to fully appreciate the extent of the hand-me-down, been there/done that experience.

Given all my complaints about the story, I want to make sure to point out that the book's grace is in the art. I liked Cafu's work on Vixen: Return of the Lion, but it was soft and stiff. His work with Jason Gorder flows better, with tight inks that lend mood and weight. There's a strong resemblance to early Gary Frank, without the excessive detailing that mars his art today. I understand the miserable Scott Clark takes over art chores in a few issues, so hopefully that means the present team move on to a book that could better utilize their talents.

New 52's Day

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011 Nightwing Color Commission by Mike McKone

Click To Enlarge

DCnU! These scans are enormous, so be sure to check them out in their full glory!

Mike McKone's TwitPics

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Direct Currents: Turkey Day, November 24, 2011

SyFy Orders 'Booster Gold' TV Pilot Script

A pilot script for a hour long series has been comissioned, with Greg Berlanti (No Ordinary Family, Green Lantern) as exec producer and Andrew Kreisberg (Fringe) writing, with an exec producer credit for DC.

Letting my black-girl-geek flag fly

It was a long time before I let my nerd flag fly proudly, though in retrospect, my status couldn’t have been more obvious.

Marc Andreyko, on Manhunter and Being Out

It was the little comic that could, DC’s equivalent of Spider-Girl, coming back multiple times when cancellation came calling. Manhunter had the critical acclaim and the brilliant characterization that everyone says that they want, but ultimately it would not be enough.

Bizarro Back Issues: Batman in The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

Wonder Woman as a stunning Renaissance superhero

Presented without comment.

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 11.21.11

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 11.18.11


The Absorbascon
Green Lantern Filmation!
Green Lantern Filmation 2: SIRENA!
Green Lantern Filmation 3: Angry Birds!

Amazon Princess
Happy Birthday Darwyn Cooke

The Aquaman Shrine
DC vs. Marvel #1 - 1996
DC vs. Marvel #2 - 1996
DC vs. Marvel #3 - 1996
DC vs. Marvel #4 - 1996
Super Friends Promo Art - 1979
Young Justice #8 - Nov. 2011

Armagideon Time
Occupy Fawcett City

Being Carter Hall
Savage Hawkman #2 Sales Figures

Brian Bolland's Blog
Here's a detail from a Batman story I drew in the 80s

Comics Make Me Happy!
Just a random list of things I miss...

DC Fifty-TOO!
CATWOMAN #1 by Dustin Darnault
HAWK AND DOVE #1 by Rich Bernatovech
JONAH HEX #1 by Alexis Ziritt
JONAH HEX #1 Variant Edition by Alexis Ziritt
LOIS LANE #1 Variant Edition by Anthony Vukojevich
WONDER GIRL #1 by Lee Leslie

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Anthony Castrillo

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
El Diablo in "Satan with Spurs!" from All-Star Western #4 (November 1970)
If You Blinked You Missed...Iron Wolf
Captain Fear's remaining adventures from Adventure Comics #'s 429, 432-433 (June 1973, December 1973, and February 1974)

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
This week's links.

Firestorm Fan
Yildiray Cinar Early Firestorm Try-out
Mystery of the Vanishing Temples
Satan in Firestorm? No, it’s just the Satin Satan…
Remember Captain X on Veterans Day
The Fire and Water Podcast: Episode 7

Girls Gone Geek
Jade by David Mack
Wonder Woman by Terry Blas

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
The Vandal Savage Exhibit
2011 Justice League: Doom Trailer
The B'rett Exhibit
Menagerie Viewing: An Art Gallery of Martian Manhunter Rogues
Stormwatch #43 (December, 1996)
Stormwatch #44 (January, 1997)
Stormwatch #45 (February, 1997)

Four-Color Shadows
The Mouthpiece-Fred Guardineer-1942
Starman-Emil Gershwin-1945
Mister Terrific-Stan Aschmeier-1944
The Super Cook of Space-Mike Sekowsky-1959
Johnny Thunder-Stan Aschmeier-1945
Oscar the Gumshoe-Bob Kane-1939

Jim Shooter
Rude Dude
Superman Syndicated Strips
Comic Book Distribution- Part 3

Justice League Detroit
2010 "Behind the Mystique of Vixen" watercolor by Shelton Bryant
2007 "Aquaman Theme Song" by Odd Man Out Films

Kevin Nowlan
Metal Men page 1 pencils
Elongated Man origin: Page one
Batman Confidential #26: a half-inked panel
Elongated Man origin: page two

Mars Will Send No More
Complete Jack Kirby Portfolio from 1971!
“Mon-El’s One Man War” from Superboy #236, 1978

Once Upon A Geek
Support ACE KILROY the webcomic!

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
The Face in the Atom Bomb Cloud! from Strange Adventures #143, 1962

Power of the Atom
2011 THE ATOM: Original Art by Shelton Bryant

The Quality Companion Companion
Lady Blackhawks
Toonopedia: Quality Stuff

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man
The Dibnys and the new Crisis-Free DC Universe!
Ranking the stuff that makes me love comics!
The best of the new 52: October 2011

Silver Age Comics
My Greatest Adventure #73

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Review: Superboy #3
Review: Supergirl #3
Review: Legion Lost #3
Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #3

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Legion: Secret Origin #1 (December, 2011)

"Beyond the borders of the United Planets in the 31st Century: For 327 years, the U.P. has been peacefully reconnecting Earth with its former colonies, with planets 'seeded' by humanity, and even truly alien worlds like Colu and Durla... Then our starcruiser arrived on Anotrom, a world thought to be living a self-sufficient, even bucolic existence, according to the gossip on the starwinds... and we realized that Pax Galactica wasn't complete. Whoever- or whatever- had visited Anotrom ahead of us hadn't signed the treaty." U.P. soldiers, who hadn't seen true warfare in human lifetimes, were unprepared for the carnage visited on the planet.

Captain Dajone had found a small device amidst the bodies, and Admiral Allon sent it out for study. His man accidentally blew himself up investigating. Thankfully, in an unusual move, Colu was willing to offer their 12th level super-intelligence "Querl Dox, Brainiac Five" for the task.

The U.P. Council allows three sentients incomparable access to information requiring intuition beyond the abilities of even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence. The Security Directorate consists of the Coluan Zarl Jax, the Naltorian Anisa, and the Earthling Mycroft. These three were the first to become aware of the importance of a trio of teenagers on an interplanetary flight. Imra Ardeen of Titan, Rokk Krinn of Braal and Garth Ranzz of Winath uncovered and foiled an assassination plot against a fellow passenger, wealthy philanthropist R.J. Brande. Both the Directorate and Brande took a keen interest in the kids and the plot, with Brande and Mycroft meeting to discuss the matter face-to-face. Mycroft wanted more control over the kids' course, but Brande cut him out, and Mycroft seemed to have an ulterior interest.

The U.P. soldier M'tobo tried to steer Querl Dox away from danger as they revisited Anotrom, but Brainiac 5 was smug and dismissive. Dox set off another explosion, but was protected by a personal force shield of such protective power as to be unheard of, even in the 31st Century. "Family secret."

Ardeen, Krinn and Ranzz were introduced to the media by their code names Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad. With their abilities of telepathy, magnetism manipulation and electrical generation/discharge, these three would serve as the founding members of a projected Legion of Super-Heroes.

On Anotrom, Brainiac 5 was scared stupid by the sudden unannounced appearance of Tinya Wazzo of Bgtzl, who could past immaterially through matter like a phantom. "If you're finished having an anxiety attack, I'd like to explain why I came through that wormhole from Bgztl... and the terrible danger I think your 'United Planets' is going to be in."

The Security Directorate observed all, and were concerned. They also noted Luornu Durgo of Cargg, a Triplicate Girl, being sworn in as the first addition to the Legionnaires...

"From The Wreckage" was by Paul Levitz, Chris Batista and Marc Deering. I've had a lifelong interest in the Legion, beginning with the fantastic art and character designs seen in DC Comics house ads for books that never reached the newsstands in my neck of the woods. Years later, I read some occasional Legion back issues, but the property is notoriously convoluted, so those tastes were not enough to help me wade into a continuity that served as the basis for the X-Men soap opera. I finally jumped on in 1994, when the entire franchise was rebooted in the wake of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time. Mark Waid wrote a strong introductory #0 issue, and writers like Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw kept me buying the book for the rest of the series' run. I also dove into back issues, reading nice fat chunks of the esteemed Paul Levitz and controversial Keith Giffen runs.

Beginning in 2000, DC launched a series of renumbering schemes intended to introducing new readers to the Legion. In eleven years, there have been two volumes of Legion Lost, one of Legion Worlds, one of Adventure Comics and three volumes of Legion of Super-Heroes (one top-billing Supergirl,) plus the animation tie-in The Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century. I spent six years happily collecting at least two Legion series a month, and have sampled every single offering since for various durations, but have yet to buy more than thirteen consecutive issues.

Legion: Secret Origin will not change my mind. I already gave the 21st Century Paul Levitz a chance on Adventure, which I thought was terrible. This book was just mediocre, but as a jumping-on point for new readers, it's the pits. There's nothing but soldiers, bureaucrats, and scientists talking for seventeen of twenty pages. Much of what is said is vague or of no great importance, and the only characters truly introduced were Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl, but not in such a way as to inspire anyone to want to read more. The Legion origin adventure takes place off-panel, and we're instead stuck with a boring contrivance tacked on to the already burdensome Legion continuity. The only good thing I can say about this book is that it's some of the slickest, smoothest work I've seen from Batista, which may be the influence of his inker. In truth, the only reason I ordered this book was to get a free Legion flight ring, and my supplier didn't send me mine, so I got nothing I wanted out of this purchase.

New 52's Day

Friday, November 18, 2011

Direct Currents: Friday, November 18, 2011

Putting Frank Miller’s Words Into Batman’s Mouth

A scene from Batman Year One, rescripted…

The Geoff Johns Literalism Method: A Primer

What is it that Geoff Johns does so well when it comes to revitalizing characters? It's very simple: reduce the character or team into a single core idea and rebuild every aspect of the mythology around that idea. I've termed this "Johnsian Literalism," and it's an approach that's becoming more widely used.

Superman Trolls the Golden Age Flash in Kerry Callen's New 'Super Antics'

Nuno Plati Tears it Up With Elektra, Green Lantern, Iron First and More [Art]

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 11.14.11

Awesome Art Picks: Robin, Emma Frost, Captain America and More


The Absorbascon
Veteran's Day
The Secret Sanctuary

Amazon Princess
Tom Bancroft

The Aquaman Shrine
Aquaman Meets Ace Kilroy!
Brave and the Bold: "Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!"
Black Manta and The Octopus Army
The Aqua-Family by Luke Daab
Young Justice - "Homefront"
AquaSketch by Jason Ho
South Park Aquaman

Armagideon Time
Nobody’s Favorites: Arion, Lord of Atlantis

Being Carter Hall
The Savage Hawkman #6 Advanced Solicit!

Brian Bolland's Blog
Here's a cover I did for Lobo.

DC Fifty-TOO!
GEN13 #1 by Jim Rugg
JUSTICE RIDERS #1 by Dennis Culver
LEX LUTHOR #1 by Mark Stockbridge
LIBERTY BELLE #2 by Joel Priddy
OMAC #1 by James Edward Clark
WORLD'S FINEST #1 by Ron Salas

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 (September, 2009)
Justice League: Cry for Justice #5 (January, 2010)
Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 (March, 2010)
Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (April, 2010)

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
"Horoscope Phenomenon or Witch Queen of Ancient Sumeria?" from Weird Mystery Tales #1 (April 1972)
"Don't Look Now!" from House of Secrets #153 (June 1978)
Man-Bat in Detective Comics #'s 458-459 (January-February 1976)
The Top 5 Marvel/DC Should-Have-Beens of the Groovy Age
The Batman in "Murder in the Night" from Detective Comics/Batman Family #481
The Batman in "Night of the Body Snatcher!" from Detective Comics/Batman Family #482 (November 1978)

Firestorm Fan
Firestorm and The Hero Initiative JLA Covers
John Ostrander’s farewell letter from FIRESTORM #100
October Comic Sales Figures

Girls Gone Geek
Big Barda by Reilly Brown
Poison Ivy (and Batman) by Sergio Quijada

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
The Brave and the Bold #152 letter column poll (July, 1979)
2009 Miss Martian & Krypto art by Chou-Roninx
The Vile Corpus: Maxwell Lord
Return to the Rogues of Wikipedia
Reviews of Diabolu: Stormwatch #2
What is The Vile Menagerie?
The Vile Menagerie Redux

Jim Shooter
Comic Book Distribution
Comic Book Distribution - Part 2

Justice League Detroit
2007 The Vixen art by Rocky Howard
2011 Aquaman Watercolor by Shelton Bryant

Kevin Nowlan
Pencils for the Legends of the Dark Knight #101 cover
Death Gallery sketches: 1994

Once Upon A Geek
Where The Heck Has Shag Been?!?!

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
"George Washington's Drum" from Superboy #2, 1949
"The Mark of X," from House Of Mystery #2, 1952
Hawkman in The Brave and the Bold #44, 1962
Veteran's Day 11/11/11

Power of the Atom
2011 The Atom negative charge Watercolor by Shelton Bryant

The Quality Companion Companion
The Blackhawks of Earth-One

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man
Surviviors of the Golden Age!
Top 10 grounded DC characters.
The best of the new 52

Silver Age Comics
The Iron Giant

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Mahmud Asrar's NYCC Commissions
Review: Action Comics #3
Review: Hawk And Dove #3
HERO Initiative JLA #50 Covers
Back Issue Box: Daring New Adventures Of Supergirl #1
Dan Brereton Commission

Review Section

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2007 The Huntress/The Question: Conquest '52 Fan Music Video

I discovered Patti Page's 1952 hit "Conquest" in a collection back in 2006, and wanted to share it, but I couldn't find an actual video. The line about "the huntress" also ate at the comic geek in me, so I finally caved and decided to make my first fan video(s.) I've liked the Huntress since the first time I read her as a back-up in an issue of Wonder Woman, and I've dug the Question since the Denny O'Neil series. I thought it was great when the Justice League Unlimited cartoon made them a couple, and that's the focus of this video. However, I had so much material left over, I decided to make a more action-packed video for the White Stripes' cover of "Conquest." This also doesn't count my first attempt, which was much different (and sadly, better timed overall, but lacking pizzazz.) I hope you'll check out and enjoy both. This was a real learning experience for me in working with old programs in new ways, so if these go over, I'd like to try making more (and better, and please God faster!)

This is a non-profit fan production that is in no way intended to infringe on the various copyright holders for video, characters, and music. Please don't hurt me Warner Brothers/DC Comics!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Direct Currents: Friday, Eleven-Eleven-Eleven


Ward Sutton unmasks the candidates as comic ‘superheroes’

Australia to Offer Official DC Comics Vehicle License Plates

Already high on the list of "if I could move to anywhere" places for its beautiful landscapes, excellent weather, and exotic wildlife, Australia has given superhero fans another reason to emigrate: official DC Comics license plates. Click after the cut to check out the options for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Supergirl, all of which will only enhance the beauty of Australia.

Zatanna And Emma Frost Come To Superhero Parody Porn XXX. In 3D.

Superheroine 3D featuring Alexis Texas playing Emma Frost and Chanel Preston as Zatanna...

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 11.11.11 (<----OMG)

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 11.07.11


The Absorbascon
Cool and Unusual

Amazon Princess
The Donnas

The Aquaman Shrine
Brave and the Bold: "Powerless!"
Justice League #2 - Nov. 2011
Young Justice #7 - Oct. 2011
Aquaman Shrine Interview with Geoff Johns
DC Super Heroes - "Prisoner of the Stars"
The Fire and Water Podcast: Episode 6
Aquaman (Vol.8) #2 - Dec. 2011

Atomic Surgery
The Lady In Black! by Nick Cardy (1958)

Being Carter Hall
Hawkman by Joe Jusko

Brian Bolland's Blog
Yet another detail from Camelot 3000.

Bronze Tiger
Harley Ouinn: Crazy Sexy Cool

Comics Make Me Happy!
Adam Strange by Ardian Syaf

DC Fifty-TOO!
ALL-OUT WAR #1 by Aaron Gillespie
BAT LASH #1 by Daniel Schneider
INFERIOR FIVE #1 by Bruce McCorkindale
PLASTIC MAN #1 by Jon Morris and Stephen DeStefano
ZATANNA #1 by Eric Bonhomme

DC Women Kicking Ass
The shoes inspired by DC Comics that NEED to come to the states

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
10 WONDER WOMAN Stories Worth Checking Out
2009 "The Wonder Woman" Watercolor by Shelton Bryant

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
Green Arrow in "Nothing but a Man" from World's Finest #255 (November 1978)
"Death's Bridegroom!" from Ghosts #1 (1971)
Neal Adams' Elongated Man in "Secret of the Waiting Graves" from Detective Comics #395 (October 1969)
Starfire #1 (1976)
"Battleground: Oa!" from Green Lantern #127 (January 1980)

Firestorm Fan
Firestorm and The Hero Initiative JLA Covers
Firestorm Icons for Your Desktop
Big Bang Theory – Sheldon Wears Firestorm
Firestorm RPG Stats from DC ADVENTURES by Green Ronin
Yildiray Cinar sketch from NYCC for FIRESTORM FAN
Eddie Earhart – The Man Who Created Firestorm
Happy Halloween from FIRESTORM FAN!

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
2011 Spitballin' Comics Miss Martian Week
2011 Pleasure Chests - Martian Manhunter ACEO Sketch Card
The Top 20 Martian Manhunter Covers of the 1960s
2011 Teen Titans #100 Pin-Up by Amy Reeder
The Vile Menagerie: RIO FERDINAND
4th Year of Diabolu
Stormwatch Sourcebook #1 (January, 1994)

Justice League Detroit
2010 The Vixen art by Rajinder Kaur Randhawa

Kevin Nowlan
Remembering Bob Oksner...
1986 Outsiders Annual cover art

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
The Phantom Lady and the Blue Beetle (1947)
Kubert's Newsboy Legion in Star Spangled Comics #50, 1945
Ibis the Invincible #1, from 1942
Captain Marvel in "World Of Your Tomorrow" from America's Greatest Comics #7

Power of the Atom
Thunderbolts' Customs Captain Atom & Nightshade Action Figures

The Quality Companion Companion
1983 Interview with Will Eisner about Blackhawk
The Spirit Quality Index

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man
The Elongated Man and the Silver Age Timeline!, pt. I: Pre-Classic
The Elongated Man and the Silver Age Timeline!, pt. II: Classic
The Elongated Man and the Silver Age Timeline!, pt. III: Post-Classic
The Elongated Man and the Bronze Age Timeline!

Silver Age Comics
Silly Panel Saturday

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Suicide Squad #3 review

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Review: Superboy #2
Review: Legion Lost #2
Review: Supergirl #2
Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #2
Review: Superman #2
Polly Pocket Supergirl For Halloween
Adventure Comics #408

The Thought Experiment
Daily Batman: the Long Halloween

Review Section

Comic shop comics by J. Caleb Mozzocco
"The Phantom Stranger don't shiv!" (Nov. 10th's comic shop comics)

Comic Judgment by Girls Gone Geek
Stream of Comicsness – Week of 11.02.2011

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank
#125: Leftovers

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2002 Unused TV Guide Birds of Prey Cover Art by Joe Jusko

Click To Enlarge

Painted art of Ashley Scott as the Huntress for the short-lived TV show, which was cancelled before the cover could be used.

"Birds of Prey" TV Guide Cover Sketch "A"
"Birds of Prey" TV Guide Cover Sketch "B"

Joe Jusko Thursday

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Whatever Happened To Dr. Mid-Nite?" in DC Comics Presents #29 (January, 1981)

Dr. Mid-Nite was wrestling with would-be narcotics dealer Alvin Miller in Memorial Hospital's medical supply room, even though his infra-red goggles now did little to help his fading eyesight. Applying a blackout bomb to a situation that once would have been a cakewalk, Mid-Nite found "It's far worse than I feared! I'm becoming totally blind-- even in the dark!" Dr. Mid-Nite had to rely on his experience and hearing to knock Miller out, right before the cops showed. "Luckily, I know the layout of this hospital well enough to get back [to his office] without revealing Dr. Mid-Nite can't see! Having a blind super-hero and a blind doctor would be too much of a coincidence!"

Dr. Charles McNider contacted his old friend and ophthalmologist Dr. Gordon Ogilvy in hopes of saving his super-hero career. Ogilvy had developed glasses that worked like sonar, and was testing them a young man named Tim when McNider rang his telephone. Gordy explained to an insistent Tim the glasses still needed work, but told McNider over the phone they were coming along great. Tim beat Ogilvy to death with his cane, leading Dr. Mid-Nite to rush to the scene. Mid-Nite's vision returned intermittently, so he combined it with his detective skill in search of Tim. Luckily, two toughs on the seedier side of town just happened to discuss a $1,000 bet that blind Timmy couldn't swipe one of Senator B.J. Potter's collection of sculptures in McNider's earshot.

Dr. Mid-Nite caught up with Tim inside the senator's mansion, but the former's night-sight was again fading fast, so the latter slugged him easily. "A blackout bomb will blind him-- What am I thinking about?! This guy is able to see in the dark-- better than I can!" Worse, Mid-Nite's night-vision finally conked out!

Mid-Nite's only advantage was that he knew Tim's glasses only drew shapes through movement. The Doctor hugged a wall, leading Tim on. The murderous thief decided "this time I'm doublin' up my fist-power" and punched a statue draped with Mid-Nite's cape with both his now broken hands. The big ball of stupidity wrapped with the senator investigating via lit candelabra, as though the story took place during the late 19th century.

Alvin Miller, dude raiding the hospital supply room, was provided a surname for two pages of work. Tim should be so lucky, as he was sent up, and his victim put in the ground. Millions lost out because of a "foolish wager," though Mid-Nite hoped to adapt Ogilvy's glasses for his own problem. "Combined with my infra-red goggles, Gordy's seeing-eye-glasses will enable Dr. Mid-Nite to continue his fight for justice!"

This silly back-up story from DC Comics Presents #29 was bungled by Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Joe Giella.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Direct Currents: Saturday, November 5, 2011

The 10 Best Episodes of 'Batman: The Animated Series'

With over a hundred episodes produced from 1992 to 1998, Batman: The Animated Series is commonly regarded as not just one of the greatest cartoons ever made, but one of the best depictions of Batman in any medium in the character's 70-year history.

DC Comics Smashes Marvel Marketshare In October, Takes 51% Of Sales

Derek Fridolfs And Dustin Nguyen On Unnamed Batbook?

DC Pays 75% Of Occupy Metropolis Press Ad

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 10.31.11

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 11.03.11


The Absorbascon
Sword of the Atom map!

The Aquaman Shrine
The Trench Character Designs by Ivan Reis!
The All-New Super Friends Hour: Episode 12
The Super Friends by Phil Noto
Young Justice - "Terrors"
The Fire and Water Podcast: Episode 5
AquaSketch by Joe Prado
AquaSketch by Rod Reis

Being Carter Hall
Read: Hawkman v.4:no.21
Read: The Savage Hawkman #2

Brian Bolland's Blog
Detail of the day. More Camelot pencils
Another detail from Camelot 3000.

Bronze Tiger
Two for the Money: 2nd CHAMBER

Comics Make Me Happy!
Martian Manhunter by Dave Perillo

Flynn Nichols corners SWAMP THING

DC Fifty-TOO!
ATARI FORCE #1 by Zack Soto
BROTHER POWER THE GEEK #1 by Brendan Tobin
HER NAME IS DEATH #1 by Steve Rolston
NIGHTWING #1 by Corey Lewis

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
The Huntress #1 (December, 2011)
The Warner Bros. Studio Store Wonder Woman Lithograph by Brian Bolland
2006 Wonder Woman on Paradise Island sketch by Mike Wieringo

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
"The Slayer" from Claw the Unconquered #12 (May 1978)
"The Collector" from House of Mystery #251 (December 1977)
"The World Within" from Korak #46 (February 1972)
Batman in "Killer's Roulette" from Detective Comics #426 (April 1972)
"The Poster Plague!" from House of Mystery #202 (March 1972)
The Rose and the Thorn in "The Ghost with Two Faces!" from Lois Lane #117 (October 1971)

Firestorm Fan
More Firestorm Cubees
Firestorm’s New Symbol
Geoff Johns on Gehenna’s Death in “Blackest Night”
September Comic Sales Figures – DC on Top!
Fury of Firestorm #1 – Did you notice…
German Blackest Night with Firestorm Variant Cover
Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #1 Alternate Cover

Girls Gone Geek
Stream of Comicsness – Week of 10.26.2011
Blue Beetle by Roger Robinson
Comic Judgment: Surprises and Comeback Kids

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
1999 Fanzing Interview With John Ostrander
DCnÜ Domino Dancing: Bloodwynd
2011 San Diego Comic-Con International Miss Martian and Artemis Cosplay
2011 Bel Juz Commission by Brian Denham
The Vile Menagerie: CAY'AN
Gypsy: Her Best Covers
Post-Pointal Discussion: The Cover To Stormwatch #1 Revealed

Jim Shooter
The Startling Conclusion of the Submissions Saga
Three Comic Book Weddings, or Holy Matrimony!
Forget Paris and More Items of Interest
DC Comics the New 52 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
New 52 General Conclusions and the Secret Origin of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Justice League Detroit
Aquaman #1 (November, 2011)
2010 The Vixen color art by Georgel McAwesome

Kevin Nowlan
The Inferior Five
Batman, Batgirl and Robin

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
The Boy Commandos in "When Hitler Came Back," from Detective Comics #125, 1947
"Secret of the Ages" from Mystery In Space #2, 1951
"My Brother Is A Robot" from 1960's My Greatest Adventure #42 & "Bang! Bang! You're Dead!" from Tales Of the Unexpected #102, 1967

Power of the Atom
2011 Ryan Choi Atom art by Andrew Willis
Dragon*Con 2011 Damage Cosplay

Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
My Problem with the New DCU:
A Rant About Something I Haven't Read...
A Long, Confused Ramble About the Wall

The Quality Companion Companion
QC Bibliography: Online Resources

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man
New Dibnys pics by Busterella and Perpetual Insomniac
The Pied Piper's Double Doom!

Silver Age Comics
The Luckiest Character Ever?
Tracers: The Ape Cover Limit

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Mahmud Asrar's Steampunk Supergirl And More
The Rest Of My DCnU Week Four Purchases
Review: Action Comics #2
Back Issue Box: Action Comics #677
Mahmud Asrar Interview
Review: Hawk And Dove #2
Hero-Clix Bizarro Girl

The Thought Experiment
Daily Batman: Ink-blots
Daily Batman: Cthulu edition
Daily Batman: Hanging out
Daily Batman: A salt is no joke
Daily Batman: O.G. wisdom

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: DC Comics Presents #29

Anj: Hello to everyone. It’s Anj from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary. And welcome to DC Bloodlines, a blog that looks at some of the dustier corners of the DCU and a place I occasionally post my non-Super-related comic thoughts. Bloodlines is the brainchild of Diabolu Frank who runs this site as well as the fantastic Idol Head of Diabolu, the pre-eminent Martian Manhunter blog. And today Frank and I are going to tag team review DC Comics Presents #29, the last part of a three part story which had Superman guest starring first with J’Onn J’Onzz, then Supergirl, and finally the Spectre. The first two parts are reviewed here and here.

Frank: You’re too modest, Anj. You contribute great material around here on a fairly regular basis, and I always appreciate your slumming with me. It’s nice to just chime in on a post with my random opinions, instead of all that laborious synopsizing and scanning you put in. Anyway, elements of this story arc stick in my craw, but I’d say it was overall pretty darned good, even with the weird turn in chapter three.

Anj: As for me, this is a great ending to a pretty important story, one which brought the Martian Manhunter back, introduced Mongul and Warworld to the DCU, and explored what it means to be Superman with his level of power and confidence.

But while the first two issues are more straight forward action comics, this last chapter is a bit more cerebral and trippy. Writer Len Wein and artist Jim Starlin have Superman learn some hard lessons from the Spectre and a very special Guest star. As always, Starlin shines here in this cosmic psychedelic landscape.

Frank: This story definitely contributed to the Martian Manhunter’s comeback. Readers often wrote letters to editors asking “whatever happened to” characters, and guest appearances often followed. J’onn J’onzz had a banner year in 1977, with a short run solo strip in Adventure Comics crossing into World’s Finest Comics intended to turn ongoing, until the DC Implosion wiped out all such plans. J’onn had a minor guest appearance earlier in 1980, but I think his major brawl with Superman is what really raised his profile. Team-up titles like The Brave and the Bold and DCCP were great about reminding people of awesome if forgotten heroes.

Anj: I completely agree. I loved the team-up books growing up because it allowed me to meet some characters I otherwise wouldn’t encounter. DCCP and B&B introduced me to Dr. Fate, The Unknown Soldier, Firestorm, Mister Miracle … the list goes on and on. I especially loved when characters I did know and loved teamed up with Supes or Batman like the Legion and Supergirl issues. On to the issue!

Anj: The issues is aptly titled ‘Where no Superman has gone before’ and picks up right where last issue left off. Superman and Supergirl have destroyed Warworld. But Supergirl, who basically shot herself through the planet like a bullet, was left unconscious for her efforts and careened undeterred and at high speed through space.

I liked this opening panel as a determined Superman vows to find his cousin. I liked the visible representation of Supergirl in his thoughts here, transparent and looming over him.

Frank: Where the first part of the story was thrown together by a whole studio of guest inkers, the two chapters involving Supergirl were quite pretty, thanks to the heavy embellishment of Romeo Tanghal. Starlin is one of my all-time favorite artists, but I think his cosmic cavemen were best tempered here, allowing for a classically handsome Superman, fair Maid of Might, and a general softness that better conveyed the familiar concern at the heart of the journey. I did miss the big alien thuggery of Martian Manhunter and Mongul though, who each in turn dropped completely out of the story with little explanation.

Anj: I never quite understood why J’onn wasn’t part of the ongoing mission. He had defeated Mongul in the past, Warworld was his responsibility, and certainly he could help Superman and Supergirl. But he was out. I think the next time I saw him was in Justice League of America #200.

Anj: After a nice panel of Superman doing some complicated super-geometry and calculus in his head, he determines Supergirl’s trajectory and begins to follow her. But given her head start, Superman has to pour on the speed, breaking every barrier there is to break until he shatterd the ‘bonds of Eternity’. That top panel is wonderfully composed, with the cosmos trapped in infinity, a sparse white environment around him. It nicely and simply conveys that this is more than deep space, this is an otherworldly landscape.

Luckily, Superman’s math was right because Supergirl is flying a short distance ahead of him.

Frank: It’s such a simple thing, but that panel combining a bit of geometry and pathos reminded me of how super Superman was at the time. It’s so much cooler than tossing off a word balloon as he flies through space. What follows is another example in this story arc of using panel progression for maximum effectiveness in a way that only comic books can. The artist controls the readers’ perception of time and space as Superman shatters both dimensions in pursuit of Supergirl.

Anj: I should have scanned that math panel. It worked for me too. I’d rather be shown than told. When words and art work together to tell the story, comics are special. Such a small panel in this issue, but it clicked.

Anj: Before he can reach her however, Superman slams into a giant Spectre, landing roughly on a nearby planetoid.

It was great to read this story now, reminding me that at one point the Spectre was the top dog of the DCU, unbeatable and unstoppable. This was 6 years before he fell to the ‘giant black thumb’ in Alan Moore’s SwampThing #50. Back then if the Spectre lost a battle it meant something. Now anyone seems to be able to defeat him.

I also got the sense that this Spectre carried some of the characterization he had in the famous Fleisher/Aparo issues of Adventure Comics.

Frank: The Spectre’s power levels were “Marvelized” Post-Crisis, wimping him out to make him more “relatable,” which of course utterly misses the point. At his best, the Spectre should be as scary as any villainous threat, because the guy is an agent of an unfathomable and often merciless deity most readers themselves worship. Fleisher and Aparo introduced that “Wrath of God” fearsomeness, and I think Ostrander &; Mandrake did a fine job restoring it in the ‘90s.

Anj: It’s almost comical how the Spectre has deteriorated. When he got crushed in Swamp Thing, as a reader, I knew this ‘anti-light’ was something unworldly. Now the Red Lantern avatar can beat him. I never read Ostrander’s take. I might have to hunt some issues down.

Anj: The Spectre tells Superman that he was approaching a place that no mortal eye can see. That the Man of Steel simply shall not pass. Supergirl is safe, and is she is unconscious is not witnessing what she must not.
One of the themes of this three-parter has been Superman’s overconfidence. Despite the Spectre’s warnings, Superman is going to continue onward. But this is the Spectre. Superman’s efforts of strength and of speed to get around the Spectre are ineffective against the Spirit of Vengeance.

I did like that Superman’s love of his cousin is so paramount that he doesn’t want to pause to discuss things with the Spectre.

Frank: I didn’t take it that way, at least in part. Since the first chapter, Superman’s supposed motivation was his concern for imperiled loved ones, but that mostly came across as ego excusing id. While the Martian Manhunter may have thrown the first punch, Superman closed off all other options with his callous disregard for the entire universe outside his close personal friends, not to mention his supreme overconfidence.

Superman then treats Supergirl as a tag-a-long and tells her a highly subjective version of the previous issue’s events, when she ended up being instrumental in halting the threat of Warworld. Here, Superman’s arrogant willfulness sees him spit in the eye of God Almighty. The irrationality inherent in Supergirl’s plight aside, how could he think a battle with the Spectre could be wrapped up in time to be of help? I can’t think of a single story arc that better exemplifies the concept of “Superdickery.”

Anj: Interesting take and one I probably missed because of my Supergirl slant. I always want to see the best in Superman when he interacts with Supergirl since so many of his stories with her involve him either exiling, disparaging, or fighting her.

His extreme chest-thumping in this story is a consistent theme here and this scene really is no different.

Anj: When Superman simply won’t listen to the Spectre, the Agent of the Voice decides that it is time for some old-fashioned education. Effortlessly he grabs Superman and sends him into a warped world where those hard lessons will be taught.

And I thought the lessons were classic Spectre, a hint of ‘let the punishment fit the crime’ irony here much like in those Fleisher issues. In those issues villains pay the ultimate price for their crimes … a murderous barber is cut in half by giant scissors, a woman obsessed with beauty is aged until she becomes dust, etc.

Frank: For its time, that material was as twisted as anything out there. Harlan Ellison said as much, calling Michael Fleisher a madman in an interview, and inviting an equally insane lawsuit from the writer. Comics are a crazy place.

Anj: And so Superman has to be taught about the limits of power.

First, he is set before a small Krypton, about to explode. Despite all his power, Superman cannot even stop this Krypton from exploding.

Frank: Symbolism aside, you can’t “hug it out” with an exploding world. His moobs alone would take out the Northern Hemisphere of Krypton.

Anj: (laughing)

Anj: And next, he can’t stop Death from mowing down Pa Kent again. I have to say when I read this issue as a kid, this scene creeped me out to no end. It was a simpler time.

But I thought these were great scabs for the Spectre to pick at, probably the two biggest failures of the Silver Age Superman (although admittedly, I never liked the ‘Superman tries to save Krypton’ stories). This is psychological warfare, the cruelest lessons that can be taught.

Frank: I didn’t read this story until the late ‘90s, so I was much too polluted to appreciate the effect. I do wonder why no one ever played the mommy card on him. It was always “My Two Dads” with Superman. No wonder he has so many issues with women.

Anj: But there is one more lesson. Superman is forced to face his dark self, a being of immense power with a capacity for violence, a machine of anger. Of course, it would take but a nudge to push the real Superman into becoming this thing. After all, just a few pages before he lashed out at the Spectre without thinking.

Superman ends up losing this fight before realizing that this is the final exam. There is something important to be learned here. Power is important yes, but power with intelligence and compassion. Once he realizes that is what the Spectre is trying to teach him, the dark Superman dissipates.

Frank: Folks must have really liked this story arc. That scene totally anticipates his material identity struggle in Superman III, and John Byrne’s 1986 revamp is largely predicated on veering as far from this outsized conception of Superman as possible toward the more serene, accessible benevolence of the Donner interpretation.

Anj: You’re right that the ‘evil Superman’ here looks like the Kryptonite-fueled jerk from Superman III. Even now, stories like Grounded look at what it would mean if Superman was out of control or if people feared him going out of control.

Anj: And with the lesson learned, Superman calms down. The Spectre reveals that Superman was travelling so fast he was about to enter heaven!

And then the top secret Guest star shows up. God talks to Superman, calling him a good and faithful son. God talks to Superman!


Well I suppose if I reviewed Beowulf cutting off Satan’s ear here, Superman can talk to God personally.

Frank: I loved the simplicity of representing the divine as a light blue calligraphic font bathed in white light without the borders of a dialogue balloon. What was it about the ‘70s and holy rolling in comics?

Anj: Superman takes it all in stride, amazingly.

He finally simply asks the Spectre for help in finding Supergirl. It turns out all Superman needed to was ask. Supergirl materializes in Superman’s arms.

Frank: Well, if anyone was going to be comfortable talking directly to God after trying to punch His Divine Agent in the solar plexus, it’s the guy who has spent the last three issues telling everyone how fabulous and infallible he is.

Anj: Superman admits to the Spectre that he has been taught a great lesson … "With Great Power Comes Great Respon" …. oops. Umm .. that is ... power for power’s sake is worthless, it must be tempered with a conscience. Thank goodness he finally learned it. After all, in this story alone Superman has battered an old friend, endangered the universe by giving a villain access to an all-powerful weapon, and tried to break into heaven and beat up an angel.

Supergirl awakens and the two cousins fly home.

Frank: Again with the anticipation. Superman cradling a Supergirl literally at death’s door. All they need now is copious amounts of blood and a sweatband.

Congratulations to Len Wein for crafting a variation on Job that makes practical sense and involves a Death Star. It’s a vast improvement, by my impious reckoning, even with the thinly veiled Yellow Peril revival a generation removed from Sax Romer and the war in the Pacific.

Anj: I have to say I liked this issue and this story a lot. This was my first experience with J'Onn and the Spectre. I thought Wein did a good job capturing just who the Spectre was at this stage of the DCU. The hallucination scenes were appropriately scary and thought provoking. And like the best comics, there is some moral at the end of the fable. The story as a whole had some longstanding impact on the DCU both then and now. And it really was a nice story of the super-cousins acting together to save the universe.

I am giving both the issue and the arc an ‘A’ grade.

Frank: This is the scale and emotional impact all team-up books and crossovers should have, but so rarely do. Nobody died, no one switched to an all-black costume, continuity wasn’t massively reworked, and yet this story is more memorable than most any Crisis to come down the pike in the thirty years since. Speaking of sense, I don’t think this story has ever been collected in the States, but the British turned it into a hardcover annual a couple of years later with a Brian Bolland cover. Imagination and heart go a long way, but it best not conflict with the latest printing of Prelude to Infinite Crisis...

Anj: This was a blast Frank. Glad we got to do this together as this story really meshed both our comic foci.