Thursday, January 17, 2008

Six Things

1.) Meanwhile in Las Vegas…: This week’s Las Vegas Weekly comics review is of the better late than never Teen Titans Lost Annual, which I totally loved.

It wasn’t just the sight of a Dick Sprang-y looking Robin hanging out with a Jay Stephens-y looking JFK, in brilliant all-Allred ink and color (above), although, let’s face it, that is awesome.

It was the happy ending Haney and company gave our most tragic president:

(And, after a week of thinking on it, I wonder if that had anything to do with DC’s decision to release this…the thought that saying Kennedy survived his assassination and it was an alien doppelganger that died in his stead—complete with a drawing of the iconic image of his mourning son at the funeral—crossed some kind of line of good taste?)

The Stepens/Allred/Allred team is seriously great. Their Wonder Girl is probably the best damn Wonder Girl I’ve ever seen. Here she is in flight:

And here she is receiving foot-worship from an alien hippie:

Good stuff!

I know it’s kind of a tired, unimaginative cliché to say things like, “Wow this Bob Haney/Gardner Fox/Grant Morrison comic is so crazy…they must have totally been on drugs while writing it, for how else could the human imagination ever conceive of such wild ideas?", but, well, surely it must have occurred to Stephens that the alien race of hippies he was drawing were totally flying around on giant pipes, right?

And not giant Dr. Will Magnus pipes, but giant hide ‘em when you get pulled over pipes.

I know future Haney “Year One” Titans stories are out of the question, but I do hope to see some more from the Allreds at some point. If only because I think a lot of folks won’t read this story simply because it’s not in a trade. And where could you collect it in a trade?

Maybe a trade full of Allred Teen Titans stories? So far we’ve got the Lost Annual, and this gem

“Doom Patrol Vs. Teen Titans” from Solo #7.

But that’s still not enough to fill a whole trade. So People In Charge of Assigning Awesome Projects at DC, please see that Mike Allred gets at least one more project featuring the Year One Titans at some point soon, okay?

2.) Careful! Comics blogging can make you so used to bitter nitpicking you’ll find yourself dissecting and criticizing the most innocent and innocuous stuff: While at my local library the other day, I saw a rowdy group of little boys leaving the children’s area with their moms. I would guess they were around four years old or so.

They were all excitedly shouting, “I spin the web! I spin a web!” and I soon realized they were playing Spider-Man.

The boy closest to me made a fist and held his arm out straight in front of him, making a spittle-fueld “Foosh!” sound and saying, “I spin a web!” again.

And I thought to myself how he was holding his hand wrong. Spider-Man only shoots webs from his fist while wearing his black costume. Otherwise using his web-shooter requires him to tap the palm of his hand with his middle two fingers and make that Ditko sign.

And the sounnd of his web-shooters is clearly “Thwip!” and not “Foosh!”

And then I realized I was nitpicking a four-year-old’s imaginary play in the back of my head, and hated myself.

I heard the mother telling the boys to calm down as I passed them, and the one who went foosh protested, “But we were just spinning the web to save the day.”

3.) On second thought, let’s stick with complaining about “One More Day” for a while longer: Sorry gang, but I just can’t muster even an iota of outrage over the fact that there’s a quasi-famous naked lady painted as Wonder Woman on the cover of some issue of Playboy. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it at all.

As a standalone image, there isn’t really much difference between that cover image and your average Adam Hughes Wonder Woman cover, beyond the difference in media.

In fact, I think DC hyper-sexualizing their flagship superheroine in their comics is a lot more offensive than Playboy doing it in a shrink-rapped softcore porn and men’s interest magazine.

The little kids who see Wonder Woman on the Justice League Unlimited cartoons and in their toy aisles can go into a comic shop and pick up an issue of Justice League of America and see Ed Benes drawings of Wonder Woman’s body straining to escape her tiny costume—including that one issue where Lex Luthor seems to be alluding to sexually torturing her, or that one where her pants completely disappear. These hypothetical little kids hypothetically reading JLoA would see the “real” Wonder Woman in a constant state of undress being treated as a sex object by the villain (if they’re not sophisticated enough to realize it’s actually the artist responsible).

The same little kids won’t be able to buy an issue of Playboy and see what’s inside it because, well, they don’t sell issues of Playboy to little kids. And if kids were to somehow get their hands on a copy—maybe finding it under their dad’s bed or in his closet—it should be clear to them that it’s not the “real” Wonder Woman they’re looking at. First clue? She’s clearly wearing paint, not a costume. And she’s in a magazine, not a comic book or cartoon.

So, what we have here is what I gather is a professional celebrity (she’s from reality TV, right?) getting paid a good deal of money to take her clothes off in a magazine for adults who want to look at pictures of ladies not wearing any clothes, one who happens to be painted up like Wonder Woman—a sort of naughty superheroine look instead of, oh, a naughty nurse or naughty school girl or naughty librarian or whatever.

(Do nurses associations get upset every time they see a scantily clad lady in a tiny white dress with the zipper halfway down clenching a stethoscope in her teeth?)

For other examples of characters dressed as naughty superheroes and superheroines, please see Justice League of America Wedding Special #1, in which Green Lantern hires a bunch of strippers dressed like Marvel heroines for Green Arrow’s bachelor party, and the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special #1, in which Black Canary’s bachelorette party is at a male strip club called “The Meat Locker” wherein the strippers are all wearing scanty versions of DC’s male superhero costumes.

4.) Which of my favorite Justice Leaguers will die next?: I do hope this item from this week’s Lying in the Gutters column is misinformation Rich Johnston was purposely fed by DC (it’s marked with a “caution” light in Johnston’s system of accuracy): “If Warner won’t let DC Comics kill off Batman in “Final Crisis," who can DC get away with introducing to the Grim Reaper? I mean it has to be decent names, but it also has to be someone that a major franchise license isn’t totally resting on… the two names marked for karking I’ve been given by a DC source are Martian Manhunter and Aquaman.”

I thought both of them were supposed to be involved in some capacity in the upcoming Justice League movie (which I kinda hope never actually gets made…oh hey, good news on that front!), so I would assume Warner Brothers wouldn’t be enthusiastic about either of them dying either.

But regardless, Aquaman is already dead. He’s been dead for months now. When his last series ended, it was revealed that part of his spirit went into Arthur “Aquaman II” Curry and the rest of it mutated into The Dweller of the Deep, who then died and turned to water. So he’s, like, dead, but it’s a death so stupid that he should be pretty easy to bring back. But if they’re going to re-kill him in Final Crisis, they better hurry up and bring him back to life soon.

It’s worth noting that a lot of DC creators and editors don’t seem to even know this. There was Brad Meltzer writing Aquaman II as if he was Aquaman I in his last issue of JLoA, and I saw this panel from Green Arrow/Black Canary in Rachelle Goguen’s reviews of last week’s comics:

So I don’t know, unless they, um, kark Aquaman II in Final Crisis, that just leaves Martian Manhunter. He’s not currently appearing regularly in JLoA or any other title, and DC seems to have a hard time figuring out what to do with him when he’s not in a Justice League comic.

On the other hand, his whole “last of his race” angle makes killing him seem kind of drastic, and the peculiar nature of his shape-changing physiology pretty much makes him impossible to kill-kill anyway.

On the other other hand, unlike Superman, Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman's mom, Hawkman, Aquaman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Green Lantern Guy Gardener, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Donna Troy and Ice, he hasn’t died for longer than a few minutes and come back to life yet*, so I guess that killing him off temporarily might seem like a fresh idea.

5.) Elsewhere on CBR this week, there’s an interview with both writer Tom Peyer and pencil artist Rags Morales about one of my favorite DC comics of all time, Hourman. If you missed the not-in-trade book, you might want to give the interview a read and see if you can find it for cheap somewhere.

It’s interesting to consider the creative success (if not the financial success) of this particular brilliant but cancelled series today, in part because it was the result of a creative team taking a character recreated by Grant Morrison and running with it, and it resulted in some pretty great comics.

More recently, we’ve seen Gail Simone and a small army of artists try to run with Morrison’s ideas for a revamped Atom and Ivy Town in The All-New Atom, “Graymiotti” and a couple of artists try to turn Morrison’s ideas for a revamped Freedom Fighters into a couple of miniseries, and Duncan Rouleau try to turn Morrison’s ideas for a revamped Metal Men into a miniseries.

Of the three, none of them seem to come anywhere near the quality of Hourman (It may have helped that Peyer seemed to genuinely be on Morrison’s wavelength—having edited his work and having been part of the foursome who were notoriously forbidden from taking over the Superman titles—while having a writing style that was quite different).

I like Rouleau’s Metal Men okay, although it can be so narratively jam-packed it can get awfully confusing at times (particularly in the earlier issues), and I tried both ANA and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, and both failed to click for me.

Apparently turning Morrison’s ideas into comics gold is a very difficult challenge. Maybe they should give Peyer a call next time they decide to release a new series “based on concepts and ideas by Grant Morrison.”

6.) Trade-waiting this series was probably a terrible idea: I am worried that I won’t be able to avoid hearing about the end of Y: The Last Man online before I get around to actually reading it.

*Unless you count “Obsidian Age,” during which he and the rest of the League all died only to be reanimated as unkillable zombies and then brought all the way back to life via magic.


mordicai said...

Holy crap that ankle shot is WOAH.

Patrick C said...

Who were the four writers notoriously forbidden from doing Superman? That story must not have been on my radar at the time.

Owen said...

I knew that it would be tough to not hear about the ending of Y, so I decided to read the last story in issues. I'm quite pleased with my decision.

Caleb said...


Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer made a pitch back in the late '90s to take over the four Superman books, and the Super-editors were very resistant to the idea. I beleive Morrison was told he would NEVER write Superman.

Apparently, some of Morrison's ideas ended up in All-Star Superman, and Millar at least did the Adventures title.

Anonymous said...

Martian Manhunter currently appears in Salvation Run. You really shouldn't say that a character isn't appearing anywhere unless you read every single book and know that to be true.