Friday, March 30, 2012

Direct Currents: Friday, March 30, 2012

I forgot to remember to forget

How much DC lore does one really need? Is all that history just dead weight? Should continuity have an expiration date, or at least a statute of limitations?

'Wonder Woman vs. Xena'Email Beau Smith by Beau Smith

Most of you regular Knuckleheads know that about 5 years ago I was hired to write a crossover book between Wonder Woman at DC Comics and Xena, then at Dark Horse. It was to be a 48-page prestige book with my amigo Eduardo Barreto (Cobb) doing the artwork. I’ve mentioned this project here before in passing...

that’s just the way it is.

This Trayvon Martin thing has crawled all the way under my skin...

How To Fix the Problems in Batman's New 52 Costume


Vote Villain: Political Art That Commands You to Elect the Bad Guy


Catwoman, Death and the Riddler Swing Into the '60s with Gene Gonzales [Art]


WonderCon 2012 Cosplay Gallery


Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 03.20.12


Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 03.26.12


Best Art Ever (This Week) - 03.22.12



The Absorbascon

Amazon Princess
The Aquaman Shrine
Armagideon Time presents "Saturdays with Streaky"

Atomic Surgery
The Joker's Utility Belt (Dick Sprang, 1940)  

Brian Bolland's Blog
Unused '80s Superman cover rough
Unused cover rough for Wonder Woman #95  
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
2010 Trends International Justice League Wonder Woman Stickers
2011 Rejected DCnÜ Wonder Girl Concept Art by Jim Lee  

digital femme
Wonderful. Terrific. Fine.  

Diversions of the Groovy Kind

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
So why is Green Arrow called "Green Arrow" anyway...?

Firestorm Fan's TEAM WEEK (Ronnie Raymond Edition)
  1. How Ronnie Joined the JLA – 1980  
  2. How Ronnie was Fired from the JLA by Aquaman – 1984 
  3. How Ronnie Joined Extreme Justice – 1995 
  4. How Ronnie Left Extreme Justice – 1996 
  5. How Ronnie Joined Justice League Europe – 1998  
  6. How Ronnie Re-Joined the JLA – 2002  
  7. How Ronnie Joined and Quit The Power Company – 2003  

Girls Gone Geek
Lois Lane by Des Taylor  

The Idol-Head of Diabolu

Justice League Detroit
2010 Zatanna by Gilbert Monsanto
Aquaman #6 (April, 2012)

 Power of the Atom
2011 “The All Live Atom #1” by Michael “mic?” Magtanong  

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Review: Superboy #7
Review: Legion Lost #7
Walt Simonson Commission
Tiny Titans #50 & Superman Family Adventures Preview
Review: Supergirl #7  

Twist Street
Just kill Wonder Woman

Review Section


Comic shop comics by J. Caleb Mozzocco
Comic Judgment by Girls Gone Geek
Comics Of The Weak by Tucker Stone
Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: March, 1984

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

In March of 1984, I bought the digest Best of DC #49 from my most reliable source for new comics, the neighborhood 7-11. I can't explain why I would do that. I've never been big on the cutesy animal genre, and the dated humor did not tickle my funnybone. I think I just liked the cover by Jim Engel, and was roped in by the unfulfilled promise of a good time. At least when Stanley and His Monster showed up in Kevin Smith's Green Arrow, I had a legitimate frame of reference (whereas he probably had a copy of Who's Who.)

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #91, why did I buy you? The appearance of the Black Cat? Black costume Spider-Man? Misplaced allegiance to Al Milgrom? How could any of that trump the horror of heroes trapped in the flesh folds of a nearly nude and thoroughly rotund Blob? Maybe it was the melodrama of the seeming demise of Unus the Untouchable, a victim of his own powers, who otherwise meant nothing at all to me? For some reason, the Blob sobbing wide runny tears at the end stuck in my mind.

Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #3 was a bit too true to its name. The first I'd heard of the series was when I eavesdropped on some older kids talking about it at a flea market booth. I guess reading 0-2 new comics a month wasn't keeping me in the loop. I asked the dealer about it (probably my first conversation with a "specialist," as opposed to someone with a stack of well read comics to sell for a couple of bits each in the corner with the other children's stuff.) He pointed to a bagged and boarded copy of #1 up on a wall for $12.00. Dear Lord, how could any comic be worth such a fantastic amount of money? This must be the next "Dark Phoenix!" I could only swing the cover-priced third issue, which itself reflected a painful fifteen cent cost increase across the Marvel line. It was an okay story, with Spider-Man punking the X-Men. I didn't understand why heroes were at such odds with one another, but it was neat to see them all in one place with nice art. I decided to try to collect the rest of the series, and for the most part, I did (a first!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Who's Dat: Mister Big

Real Name:
Other Aliases:
Occupation: Super-Rich
Group Affiliation:
Base of Operations: Electric City, The World To Come
Height/Build: Approximately 6'0", thin
Eyes: Blue
Hair: White
First Appearance: OMAC #2 (November-December 1974)

Mister Big was among the "Super-Rich" of The World To Come, but lusted for greater power. To this end, he rented the entirety of Electric City for one night under the guise of hosting a street party for his invited friends. The true purpose was to locate Professor Myron Forest and destroy Project: OMAC. Agents of Mister Big escorted OMAC into the city, then followed him to the lab of Professor Forest, whom they assassinated in a hail of bullets. OMAC himself was eventually believed shot and killed, with his body brought to Mister Big's personal physician for inspection. OMAC's death was a ruse facilitated by the satellite Brother Eye, which remained an unknown factor in Project: OMAC to Mister Big. The Mayor of Electric City had been working with the Global Peace Agency to ensnare Mister Big, who was taken into custody by Peace Agents.

Mister Big had his own private security force armed with conventional weapons who wore militaristic green uniforms. Big also had special agents prone to disguises who sometimes wore costumes wired to deliver electrical shocks on contact. They had access to hovering aircraft that could carry about three men.

"Hmmmm-- I can't help thinking about those rumors-- that Project OMAC included something else, besides this one-man army--- there was something else, I tell you!"

Created by: Jack Kirby

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: January/February, 1984

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

In January of 1984, a huge deal for me came in the form of Phoenix: The Untold Story #1. At $2.00, it cost nearly four times as much as a normal comic, but was at least twice the size. It had a rigid glossy cover and heavy stock interior paper that was brighter and more colorful than anything on the stands. Only Marvel Fanfare had higher quality printing, but I always found it terribly garish, since colorists seemed to have difficulty adapting to the subtler palette requirements. The art by John Byrne and Terry Austin was glorious, rendering a variety of environments in an epic space battle. Chris Claremont's story was all about scope and gravitas. No wonder this Dark Phoenix Sage was so revered. I read it in a recliner (a rare luxury) at the apartment of a friend of the family, and even though Thunderbirds Are Go was playing on cable television (woooo) in the background, them marionettes couldn't hold a candle to this. There was a lengthy interview at the back of the book explaining how the project came to be, its impact on the industry and X-Men narrative. I lapped it all up. I probably haven't read the story since. I just toss through the book and relish the nostalgia for the feeling it gave me as a child. My spotty following of Classic X-Men years later made it clear to me that there was no way the printed book could equal my childhood perception of it, so why taint the memory?

Perhaps not as monumental, but surely of great inspiration, was The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #15. It had everyone worth knowing on a cover by (surprise) John Byrne, most importantly the excellent renditions of Captain America and Wolverine. This was the one with the schematics of all the weapons and vehicles. I doubt I read many entries, but I sure stared at those designs. I believe there was an official S.H.I.E.L.D. membership card on the inside back cover, or maybe the Avengers (or both?) Whichever way it went, I dutifully cut out the card and filled it out with my vitals.

In February, I didn't actually buy Iron Man #182 off the spinner rack at Gemco. I wonder what effect it would have had if I did? It had this stark (no pun intended) cover of writing on an alley wall. "In the morning, Tony Stark will be sober... or dead." It looked like an interesting if depressing story, but I ended up not buying anything that month. I never really did get into Iron Man, outside of the movies, and even then it's more out of loyalty to Robert Downey Jr. This book might have made a difference.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Direct Currents: Sunday, March 18, 2012

DC Comics Solicitations for June, 2012

'Batwoman' Artists Amy Reeder and J.H. Williams III Comment on Creative Changes

Ann Nocenti Does Sexy Villains Right In 'Green Arrow' #7

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 03.12.12

Awesome Art Picks: Batman, Daredevil, Supergirl and More

Awesome Art Picks: Batman, Spider-Man, Black Widow and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 03.16.12


The Absorbascon
Politics Make Strange Bedfellows
Read "Night Force"

The Aquaman Shrine
JLA Belt Buckle
The Argyle Sweater - 3/4/12
Teen Titans #29 - Oct. 1970
The Others Assembled!
Amazing Heroes Swimsuit Pin-Up

Armagideon Time
Nobody Else’s Favorites: Swing Sisson

Comics Bronze Age
The worst cover-coloring error in the history of comics?

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
Superman Annual #11 (1985)

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
Yes, "mud"...

The Factual Opinion
WASTELAND: The John Ostrander Interview

Firestorm Fan
Random Panel of the Day

Girls Gone Geek
Nightwing by Stanley "Artgerm" Lau
The Joker by Francis Tsai

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
2011 Martian Manhunter OYL art by Gerard de la Costa
CSBG's "The Other Greatest Martian Manhunter Stories Ever Told"
The Fire, Water, Burn Manhunter Burn Podcast

Indigo Tribe
Red Lanterns #7

Justice League Detroit
2010 Trends International Justice League Detroit Stickers

Power of the Atom
Green Lantern: Circle of Fire (2000)

The Quality Companion Companion
Stormy Foster in Lost Art from The Shade
The Barker 2000? Who Knew?

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man
The Doomsday Book!
Rafa Rivas takes Twitter

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Black Orchid cosplay: really hot, and the costume is nice too
Amanda Waller's evolution in animated TV media
El Diablo on "A Stairway to Heaven" with Task Force X?
Suicide Squad #6 review: Harley's origin, eaten but not dead & the lies beneath the lies!

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Argo City - Modern Age
Review: Action Comics #7
Argo City - DCnU
Review: Action Comics #7 Steel Back-Up

Review Section

Comic shop comics by J. Caleb Mozzocco

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 DCU Movie Fan Casting: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Plastic Man

Ever since the brilliant Brick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has steadily become one of my favorite actors. The kid has range and emotional depth, as demonstrated relatively recently in 50/50. He was in the running for my fan cast of Ray Palmer, because the guy is clearly intelligent, but he's quite simply too cool to fit the part of the Atom. I've been waiting for just the right role, and finally made the perfect connection-- Plastic Man!

Those who were first exposed to the character by Grant Morrison's JLA might take issue with that, as the character was treated there as broadly obnoxious "comic relief" in the mold of Jim Carrey's "Ace Venture." Frankly, DC Comics have yet to get the character remotely right, from forgetting they owned him in the '50s (see: Elongated Man) through to his terrible attempts to cash in on media trends in the '60s-'70s, and his descent into irrelevance in the '80s & '90s.

The fact is, Jack Cole's Plastic Man was a sharp detective and all around nifty gent dealing with a mad world and his own legitimately funny bumbling hustler sidekick Woozy Winks. The classic Plas stories of the '40s & '50s are among the finest produced in the Golden Age, and if DC had any sense, we'd have seen Gail Simone in full Birds of Prey/Secret Six nasty mode paired with Ethan Van Sciver on the Pliable Paladin instead of Firestorm.

Years ago, the Wachowskis tried to do a movie with Keanu Reeves in the role, and while that's closer to the mark than we've seen in years, I think you need someone with a lot more charisma. Gordon-Levitt can be funny, cunning, sexy, and charming in the right portions for Eel O'Brian. Given his boyishness and slight frame, there aren't many proper super-hero roles suited for Gordon-Levitt, so I really do think this is the best marriage for the property and the actor, should he ever want to take a turn in spandex.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Direct Currents: Thursday, March 8, 2012

Art and Superheroines: Getting Sex and Cape Comics Right

There are plenty of chaste kisses, followed by a fade-to-black, but when actual sex is the subject, superheroes come up short. These scenes tend to come across either exploitative or too inept to be anything approaching believable. Why is that?

'Masters of Comic Book Art' Documentary Reemerges from the VHS Ether [Video]

From 1987: Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Jean Giraud aka Moebius, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Frank Miller and Bernie Wrightson

Golden Age Comic Book Artist Sheldon Moldoff, R.I.P.

Bryan Hitch on 'Superman: The Movie', the Film That Introduced Him to Superheroes

Superman Shills for Corn Flakes and Peanut Butter in Old Commercials [Video]

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 02.27.12

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 03.05.12

Best Sexah Art Ever (This Week) - 02.24.12

Awesome Art Picks: Carnage, Batman, Nightcrawler and More

Awesome Art Picks: X-Babies, Captain America, Batman and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 01.02.12


The Absorbascon
52 new New52 Questions
The Inevitability of Vibe

The Aquaman Shrine
Memories of Mera: Steve Skeates
Three Faces of Mera
Memories of Mera: Sirena Irwin
Teen Titans Ad - 1966
Justice League Ovaltine Ad and T-Shirt - 1967
Teen Titans #28 - Aug. 1970
Argentinian Super Powers Album

Armagideon Time
Nobody’s Favorites: Lords of the Ultra-Realm
Nobody’s Favorites: Tyroc

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
The Flash: Rebirth #2 (July, 2009)
1966 Wonder Woman "The Return of Brunhilde" Audio Play

Firestorm Fan
Nick Cardy Interview – Episode 13 of FIRE & WATER PODCAST
Can I Play With Nuclear Madness? Iron Maiden’s Eddie as Firestorm
Firestorm Died in DC Universe Online Legends #23
Firestorm found in Justice League stickers
Firestorm in Green Lantern: Circle of Fire
JLA #228-230 – Episode 14 of FIRE & WATER PODCAST
100 Tiny Characters including Firestorm

Fortress of Baileytude

Girls Gone Geek
Wonder Women! Gives Heroines Their Due
MegaCon 2012 Photo Album
Catwoman by Benjamin Anders
Project Starfire

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
2011 Martian Manhunter OYL art by Neil Tavares
2011 Martian Manhunter art by by Ken House
1999 Hasbro JLA Justice League of America Martian Manhunter 9" Doll
The Vile Menagerie: DEVIL MEN OF PLUTO
Post-Pointal Depression: Chronic Case of DCnÜ
The Guard Belt

Indigo Tribe: Circle of Fire Week
Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1
Green Lantern and Adam Strange
Green Lantern and the Atom
Green Lantern and Green Lantern
Green Lantern and Firestorm
Green Lantern and Power Girl
Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #2

Justice League Detroit
Action Comics #530 (April, 1982)
1999 Hasbro DC Super Heroes Silver Age Collection Aquaman

Power of the Atom
Justice League America #64 (July, 1992)
Justice League America #65 (August, 1992)
Justice League America #66 (September, 1992)

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Shrine: Flamebird Figure
Review: Superman #6
Back Issue Box: Adventures of Superman #502
Review: Supergirl #2
Argo City - Silver Age
Argo City - Silver Age Part 2

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: December, 1983

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

December was something of a turning point month for me as a collector. See, I remember wanting to buy G.I. Joe a Real American Hero #21, since Snake-Eyes was the shizzle, but I didn't because a friend was already collecting that book. However, I don't think he ever bought that issue. He did get Uncanny X-Men #179, where my girlfriend Kitty Pryde was being forced to wed a hideous Morlock, but I only got to toss through his copy. I would eventually own all three issues of Marvel's The A-Team mini-series, which were as terrible as they sound, but not for some months (thanks to a dollar store handmade three-pack.) This was not nearly as rewarding as owning the G.I. Joe or X-Men issues would have been.

I bought Hercules, Prince of Power #1, probably due to some misplaced loyalty after having seen the badly dubbed Lou Ferrigno/Sybil Danning Italian film at the theater earlier that year. The comic was probably better than the movie, and I did enjoy that crisp Bob Layton art, but I was not prepared from the "hilarious" gender confusion related to Herc romancing a disguised male Skrull masquerading as a beautiful woman. Also, it was a sequel to an earlier mini-series, so I was annoyed by cornball supporting characters like Recorder and the inexplicable future setting. In fact, subsequent reading in comics and myth made me come to really dislike Hercules in every way, so much that I enjoy Wonder Woman kicking his sorry ass more than is probably appropriate.

Speaking of which, I got Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #88, on whose cover Mr. Hyde prepared to tear Black Cat in two. I swear to you, I never tortured animals are set things on fire, so I cannot explain my fixation with evil done to Felicia Hardy. Today I'd just chalk it up to an irrational hatred of analogues, which would also get me off the hook on the battery of Mockingbird. All this is to say I never cared much for Hyde or his unlikely partner Cobra, so the contents of the actual issue escape me. Not enough cleavage and bloodletting, clearly.

I'm going to let Nathaniel Dusk, Private Investigator #1 in as a squeaker, if only to represent for DC. I bought a water damaged copy of this off a spinner rack at a flea market in the mid-eighties. That bends the rules of this project, but I feel there are enough essential key words in that last sentence to allow for it. This was a moody period number by Don McGregor and Gene Colan, harmed by the funky coloring as DC worked out the process for their upscale printing. I doubt it was revelatory to anyone familiar with Mickey Spillane, but its casual domestic violence was jarring to a kid, and I still feel a little regret over never seeking out the entire mini-series (though I did score #2 out of a quarter box circa 1989.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who's Dat: Madam Fatal

Real Name: Richard "Dick" Stanton
Occupation: Retired stage actor turned altruistic social crusader.
Marital Status: Widower
Known Relatives: Unnamed wife (deceased) and daughter.
Group Affiliation: Sure-Fire Detective Agency
Hair: Blond
First Appearance: Crack Comics #1 (May, 1940)

On April 30, 1930, Richard Stanton, famous character actor and master of makeup played the last role of his long and successful career. Mr. Stanton portrayed an old woman in a performance that thrilled and amazed his audience. A millionaire through the stock market, Stanton had married and produced an heir, only to have his daughter kidnapped just a year after retiring. The culprit was crimelord John Carver, who waited two years from the day the woman he loved married Stanton to make off with their child. Knowing her shady past was responsible for the crime and unable to touch Carver, Stanton kept silent from police, though his bride died of a broken heart. For nine years, Stanton perfected a new identity, recreating his role as an elderly woman to perfection. He then spent the next eight years pursuing Carver before a break in the case led the pair to meet. Stanton revealed his long simmering plot, as he'd worked to help others and develop his skills for this final confrontation. Carver attacked, but shot himself in the chest when Stanton literally pulled the rug out from under him. With his dying words, Carver assured Stanton his daughter was still alive. Stanton decided to continue to employ the Madam Fatal disguise in pursuit of justice in general and his missing daughter specifically.

Stanton had many more rollicking encounters in the Madam Fatal disguise, doing the same duty as most heroes while managing in a skirt and heels. There were clear benefits to opponents assuming Stanton was an elderly woman, and the actor proved plenty capable of holding his own when the charade was revealed. One suspects he took some special pleasure in the role, since he generally passed on any other. Madam Fatal's foes often veered toward the "queer" as well, such as a cross-dressing thief who caught Stanton's eye because he so resembled Fatal; or Dwarf Rogan, a famous gang leader of slight stature but rough disposition who literally stole the wife of a friend of Stanton's before being left to die at sea.

Madam Fatal eventually gained a fame all "her" own, becoming a Miss Marple type in interactions with police. To my knowledge, the only people ever made aware of the Madam's little secret were a medical team that tended to a Fatal bullet wound, though the doctor chose not to reveal the truth to Stanton's cohorts.

A good many online resources have deigned to correct the author and refer to the character as "Madame," but the strip title remained "Madam" through to the end, by which point Stanton was teamed with a pair of bumbling dicks from the makeshift Sure-Fire Detective Agency: Tubby White, condemned with Ed Grimley hair and Fatty Arbuckle girth; and Scrappy Nelson, a gap-toothed and mangy redheaded child. Also, the internet suggests that Stanton eventually rescued his daughter, but if that's so, it doesn't seem the child ever came up again.

Dick Stanton was an accomplished actor, expert swimmer, pugilist and acrobat. He carried a walking cane and a convincing disguise.

Created by: Art Pinajian