Monday, April 30, 2012

Pre-New 52 review: Superman: Return of Doomsday and Superman: Reign of Doomsday

When DC relaunched their entire line of superhero comics last September with 52 all-new #1 issues, they also rebooted their continuity, excising decades worth of storylines and details from their heroes' fictional histories and biographies.

It likely annoyed a lot of fans, as the huge tapestry of cumulative stories is one of the main selling points of the DC Universe brand of comics, while simultaneously making their line look more attractive to new and lapsed readers of their comics.

The move probably won't do anything to sour a lot of their back catalog of trade paperbacks. Evergreen classics like Batman: Year One or The Killing Joke, for example, or anything in a Chronicles or Archives of Showcase Presents volume, stand alone works from long ago that are usually meant to be enjoyed as distinct experiences instead of part of a month-in, month-out soap opera.

The books that suffer the very most, I think, will be the ones that DC was publishing just prior to The New 52, the ones readers were reading (and creators were apparently creating) without any indication that it would be the last Justice League story before Crisis On Infinite Earths style reboot, the last Superman story in which the hero was married to Lois Lane, the last JSA story set on the same planet as the rest of the DC heroes and so on.

Many of those comics are still coming out in collected form, or have just recently come out in collected form, and I've got to say, even as someone who was eagerly awaiting some of those trades, the reboot all but extinguished my desire to read them. I wonder how anyone who waited for, say, Brightest Day, the bi-weekly series that set-up new futures for a dozen characters who were brought back to life, would feel reading it for the first time, knowing that most of "didn't really happen," and little if any of it will be followed up on in the future. That book, in retrospect, looks a lot like a very, very long pilot episode for a television series that never got made.

When visiting a new library a few weeks ago, I found a handful of trades collecting some stories from just prior to the relaunch, and wanted to devote a week or so to reviewing them here, both in terms of how they are as comic book stories as per usual, and in terms of how they read in light of the fact that the publisher has declared they don't really matter anymore, that, in effect, they would have rather not done them.

Many of the events and plotlines that occurred in these books, and the new directions suggested for possible continuation have simply evaporated. Some of the creators have too, while others were radically repurposed to work on The New 52.

I'm going to start with two related books tonight, and then do one a piece the rest of the week...hopefully in addition to regular features like Wednesday night's "Comic Shop Comics" and Thursday afternoon's "Meanwhile..." link post.



Superman: Return of Doomsday is a trade paperback collection of five different comic books, none of which were originally sold as part of a cohesive whole.

These five are a one-shot special, an annual of a monthly ongoing series, and single issues issues of three different monthly ongoing series.

As such, the stories it collects are from four different writers and five different artists, and are therefore as dischordant and uneven as one might imagine, with each artist working in a radically different style, and sub-plots from Justice League of America, The Outsiders and Superboy appearing and disappearing at what feels like random upon reading in this collection.

Some of these, like a few scenes of Outsiders and Superboy that don’t involve the Doomsday vs. Superman Family characters conflict that binds the books together, don’t even seem to belong in the collection; they read like weeds that should have been pruned, but then, that’s because the Doomsday story was intruding into those already in-progress stories when they were published serially. The act of collecting these five comics between a single set of covers then reverses the feeling of intrusion. Now it feels like those comics’ ongoing plots are intruding in the crossover, distracting from the story and dragging the book as a whole down.

Super-comics are a weird business, really.

There’s not a whole lot to the individual stories. They are merely the prologue for a future storyline, "Reign of Doomsday", which ran in five issues of Action Comics (written and drawn by entirely different people than those responsible for this) and it is collected as the much more coherent Superman: Reign of Doomsday.

In each chapter of Return, Doomsday, the silent, mind-less, Hulk-like monster that killed Superman in the 1992 “Death of Superman” storyline, attacks a different character with an S-Sheild on his or her chest, subdues and captures them.

In each istance, Doomsday displays new powers that reflect those of his adversary, as well as increased intelligence.

In the first chapter, Steve Lyons and Ed Benes’ Steel #1, Doomsday beats up Steel, who tries to hold him off until the JLA shows up, but, for unexplained reasons, no one ever shows up to help out. This is told in first-person, through Steel’s point-of-view, and drawn in Benes’ version of 21st century DC house style.

Then we move to Dan DiDio and Philip Tan’s Outsiders #37, where Geo-Force and four colleagues are arguing over whether or not they should let The Eradicator join the team, when Doomsday appears to beat the bejesus out of everyone. This is told in an omniscent point-of-view, with just a few narration boxes. The layouts and art-style seem to have been imported from 1992, but Tan’s rendering is a grotesque application of effects-heavy coloring atop pencils.
Next is Justice League of America #55, written by James Robinson and drawn by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund (the latter inking the former, in the only instance in this collection of a penciler/inker team). Robinson checks in with two or three different ongoing plots, only one of which has anything to do with the Doomsday conflict this collection is organized around, and the issue is presented in the everyone-narrates-their-own-scenes style Brad Meltzer established when he launched this volume of the Justice League comic. Booth and Rapmund’s style more closely resembles that of Benes’, so the art style is see-sawing back to where the book began at this, the halfway point.

Supergirl, now called Dark Supergirl because she’s wearing a black version of her costume, was on the Justice League at this point, and Doomsday attacks her and various other characters in this issue, but his real target is revealed to be The Cyborg Superman.

This issue is followed immediately by Superman/Batman Annual #5, which is also written by Robinson, and continues the Justice League vs. Doomsday conflict, although to better adhere to the title of the book it appears in, Justice Leaguers Dark Supergirl and Batman Dick Grayson take center stage, trying to stop Doomsday and Cyborg Superman from destroying them and the JLA satellite they’re fighting on during their battle.

Because the writer remains the same, the writing doesn’t shift again, but the art style does rather radically, and amusingly/depressingly, the small-c continuity wasn’t policed very closely: Batman is wearing a red and black cape-less space-suit throughout the Justice League issue, but that transforms into his traditional costume during this issue.

This particular Doomsday vs. Supergirl and Cyborg Superman conflict gets the most attention, too, as it encompasses sixty-seven of the book’s pages, while the other Doomsday battles get the standard 22 pages apiece.

Finally, the book ends with Superboy #6, by Jeff Lemire and Marco Rudy. Formally, it’s the most accomplished of the chapters. It opens with two pages of 12-panel grids, and, on the third page, the page is laid-out with the same grid, but the bottom hal fof the page features Doomsday smashing through the panels, stretching them like a net, and colliding with Superboy. From there, the layout transforms into one of horizontal panels, and fewer per page, the panels getting bigger and bigger as the battle rages, until Doomsday KOs Superboy with a two-page spread splash-blow, and the book resumes the layout it opened with as Doomsday gathers up his unconscious prey and escapes with him.
This one is narrated by Superboy, and Rudy’s art is much more realistic and textured than any that came before; it resembles Sepulvda’s more than anyone’s, but the storytelling is stronger, and the human hand of the artist much more evident.

The entire book tells a story that could have been summed up in a half-dozen pages once "Reign of Doomsday" began, but then, that’s superhero comics in the second decade of the 21st century: Even when the individual issues aren’t decompressed, their meaning is decompressed by their ultimate meaninglessness (Maybe Robinson recognized the existential crisis of these comics while writing the scripts for his portions of the book, and that’s why he entitled one of them “No Exit”…?). The wasted space is filled with a ton of action and fisticuffs, but none of it is terribly smart, interesting or exciting, or even well-drawn. It’s just ugly brutality, for the most part conveyed through terribly ugly art.

It’ll run you $15.

That collection then leads into Superman: Reign of Doomsday, a book which continues the story from Return of Doomsday AND the story from writer Paul Cornell’s "The Black Ring" story arc from Action Comics. That is, the first of the five comics collected in this issue is both the climax of Cornell’s "Black Ring" (collected in Superman: The Black Ring Vol. 1 and Superman: The Black Ring Vol. 2) and it’s the start of the title story featuring the Superman Family vs. Doomsday.

It’s also a pretty strange read, although it’s at least all from the same writer, and thus much more focused.

After a few pages in which we check in with Steel and the gang on a mysterious labyrinthine spaceship which is seemingly impossible to escape from, the prison Doomsday was hauling them all of to between chapters of the previous collection, we join “The Black Ring,” already in progress.

I haven’t read that story yet, although I heard bits about it—that was the storyline starring Lex Luthor that took place during JMS’s abandoned Superman Walks Around story arc, the one that guest-starred Death of The Endless from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics—and I didn’t have much trouble following it.

By exploiting a powerful alien creature, Lex Luthor has attained godlike powers, and come as close to omnipotency as one can get in the DC Universe. His powers finally dwarf Superman’s, but there’s a catch: In order to hang on to his powers, he can only do good with them, and thus while he’s technically more powerful than Superman, one of the few things he can’t do is destroy Superman.

It’s a great set-up that leads to a great scene, and it has the makings of one of the all-time great Superman vs. Luthor moments, akin to the “I hate you” moment in the Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek written “Up, Up and Away!” story and the climax of Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, wherein Luthor gains Superman's powers and can't help but become more Superman-like than he would want to be because of it.

The Doomsday plot is little more than a distraction to this story, and Cornell isn’t able to disguise it as much more than that. It’s essentially a back-up plan of Luthor’s, and why he needs a back-up plan if the end result was him achieving godhood seems kind of…off. I mean sure, he’s super-smart, but what kind of megalomaniac plans for his own defeat so thoroughly?

Throughout the Superman/Luthor scenes, we check in on the other Supers who are trapped in the spaceship with Doomsday, and the book ends with Superman joining them and a twist/reveal that will probably be pretty obvious if you made it through the Return trade.

The art’s on the messy side, as Pete Woods and Jesus Merino trade off, with the former handling the Luthor plotline and the latter the Doomsday one, but because this happened to fall in an anniversary issue (Action Comics #900, to be exact), other Superman artists also appear to draw bits of the story, and so Dan Jurgens, Rags Morales, Ardian Syaf and Gary Frank also pencil portions, giving the issue a jam book feel instead of a "Holy shit this book is late! Quick, start calling inkers!" feel.

Fifty-one pages later, the title story begins in earnest. Artist Kenneth Rocafort joins Cornell as the primary artist for the story, and it’s a pretty good one. Superman, his allies Steel, Supergirl and Superboy and his frenemies The Eradicator and Cyborg Superman are trapped on a spaceship with four souped-up clones of Doomsday and a mysterious adversary more powerful than any of them. The ship is hurtling at Earth at such a speed that it will destroy the planet on contact. The good guys have to figure out how to stop the bad guys, escape the ship and stop it in order to save the day. Impossible task after impossible task after impossible task, with a tight time limit.

They succeed, obviously, but it’s still fun to watch them do it. Cornell has a great handle on all of the characters and, more importantly, their relationships, and gives each something unique and specific to do within the story. There may be an element of “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if all the Super-guys teamed up to fight a bunch of Doomsdays,” but that’s Cornell’s starting point, not the extent of his plotting.

It reminded me a lot of the Jurgens Era Superman story “Panic in the Sky,” in the way it was a very Superman-specific story that threatened the whole world in such a way that the rest of the DC Universe shows up in some capacity to help out, generally by following Superman’s lead.

It seems weird to feel honest-to-goodness nostalgia for an era of DC Comics that isn’t even a whole year old yet, but that’s kind of what I felt while reading this.

As with that Kyle Higgins and Scott Snyder Batman: Gates of Gotham story, it was refreshing to find a writer who seemed to have such a strong handle on such a big and, in other hands, unwieldly cast, a writer who is able to find a place for them all, to write them all well and make them all work together.

If anything, Cornell’s writing on Action Comics seems to indicate that the Superman franchise was hardly broken, which makes DC’s decision to “fix” it along with most of their universe last fall with The New 52 seem not just wrong-headed, but baffling.

Almost as baffling as the fact that Cornell wasn’t writing either of the Superman books when they relaunched. DC gave Action Comics to Grant Morrison, a decision few would dare second-guess given Morrison's direct market popularity coupled with the quality of his All-Star Superman run, but they gave Superman to George Perez as writer/artist, and it quickly changed hands in almost comical fashion (Perez wrote and broke-down the first two issues while Merino finished the art. Perez wrote #3, while Nicola Scott penciled and Trevor Scott inked. Merino was back for #4, Scott and Scott for #5 and #6. Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen took over writing with #7, while Perez is off to...draw parts of Worlds Finest, I think...? )

I liked seeing so much of the old DC Universe, like two Batmen in a panel, for example,
or Alan Scott’s crazy-looking old new costume
which looks a lot cooler than his new new costume, from what I can tell from the only image DC has released of it so far.
I also liked the bit where Superman refers to Muhammad Ali without naming him, just calling him "an old friend,” and the ending, in which Clark Kent goes out to dinner with his wife Lois Lane, a scene that is a hell of a compelling argument for a married Clark and Lois
Which ends with a nice little “Fuck you, J. Michael Straczynski”:
(The “Fuck you, J. Michael Straczynski,” it should be noted, is implied).

Action Comics #900 included a bunch of little back-up stories from big-name “celebrity” talent, like a stories from writers Damon Lindelof (who created that show people used to like before they got sick of it, for sucking), Paul Dini, David S. Goyer and Richard Donner, plus a bunch of other folks best known for their comics work.

They’re all pretty terrible, although I kind of liked Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s four-page “Friday Night in the 21st Century” story, in which Clark and Lois host a get together with his Legion of Super-Heroes friends. There’s nothing to it, really, but I like the goofy expressions Frank draws on the various Legionnaires as they eat pizza or look into a refrigerator, and I find Franks’ semi-creepy Christopher Reeve-as-Clark and scantily-clad Lois Lane as Naughty Secretary Halloween costume designs appealing.

Finally, Brian Stelfreeze contributed a two-page “The Evolution of The Man of Tomorrow” image, which shows Superman’s evolving costumes through the ages, climaxing in the one he wears today…only today is, of course, yesterday, so Superman is wearing a Superman costume instead of…whatever he’s wearing now.

The structure of the overall package is pretty clumsy, but I’d recommend Regin as a nice, fun, action-oriented Superman story, while it’s lead-in Return of is best avoided.

I’m eager to read Cornell’s “Black Ring” story in its entirety now, based on its climax, and I do plan to check out his “New 52” books Stormwatch and Demon Knights when they’re available in trade.

I did like this Kenneth Rocafort character’s art too, I wouldn’t mind checking out some of his future work. What was his next assignment from DC...?

Oh, right.


Sunday, April 29, 2012


I recently stumbled across the AlphaBeasts! art blog, and was excited enough about it that I wanted to share it with ComicsAlliance readers. And, of course, you. When you have some time, check out AlphaBeasts!, find a favorite contributor and read their alphabet of beasts. I particularly enjoyed Joey Weiser's all-kaiju gallery, and Ben Towle's all-Dungeons & Dragons gallery. The above image is Sam Wolk's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. His gallery includes monsters from unlikely pop culture sources, like South Park, for example.

If you like AlphaBeasts!, be warned that AlphaBooks! is coming soon.


I’ve always rather liked Nicola Scott’s art work, but can she, in fact, draw circles around her boss Jim Lee…?

This image she’s penciled for Earth 2 featuring Parademons attacking, a subject that Lee himself devoted many, many pages to during his first six-issues on the new Justice League book, has me thinking that yes, yes Nicola Scott can indeed draw circles around her boss Jim Lee.


Speaking of Jim Lee: What?

He wishes writer Chris Roberson would have talked to him about Roberson’s concerns with the ethical component of DC and Warner Bros’ decision-making processes, particularly regarding Before Watchmen and the protracted legal battle between the publisher and the families of the guys who created Superman for them?

Is Lee really saying that the only reason they are doing Before Watchmen is that no one (except, of course, for Alan Moore) ever asked them not to? And that the only reason they’re in court with the Siegels and Shusters is because none of the freelance creators Lee’s company solicits work from ever sat him down and told him that DC should probably settle generously out of court, instead of fighting the kids of the guys they screwed over to found the publishing empire he now draws his checks from…?

I find that hard to believe, myself. Lee’s co-publisher Dan DiDio sounds a lot more gruff and blunt, but at least he doesn’t also sound like he’s lying.

Also, Lee’s never met Roberson? DC’s co-publisher never ever met the guy who was writing Superman for him? That strikes me as pretty weird. I'm not saying I don't believe him, I'm just saying it seems strange that the publisher wouldn't have dealt personally with Roberson at any point, given the fact that he was called in rather last minute to salvage the high-profile disaster of J. Michael Straczynski abandoning his heavily-promoted run on Superman when JMS lost interest. And given the fact that DC just launched 52 new series—they didn't ask Roberson to pitch them one? He was one of the relatively few newer voices DC has—er, had—working for them at the time, and given how well fans took to the work of Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder, Vertigo writers interested in superhero work should have been a promising looking source for new voices.


I don’t know much about nor care much for sports, so I many not be following DiDio’s reasoning here, but is he saying that Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan and the gang are some of DC’s best characters…?

You know, I’m beginning to think that DiDio may not actually know DC Comics all that well…


Heidi MacDonald responded to those very same links on The Beat here. The comments thread beneath the post is full of smart commentary from Kurt Busiek, and other prose like Ed Brubaker and Matthew Southworth show up as well. But if someone were to be made The Boss of Comic Books, and that someone couldn’t be a little stuffed bull, I’d nominate Kurt Busiek.


“Hey Marvel and DC—it sure would be great to enjoy your products without feeling like an asshole.”

Rob Bricken, Topless Robot

That’s a hell of a quote, really. Is reading superhero comics in 2012 an antisocial activity? Like, is it an act of active nihilistic, misanthropy to give Corporation A or Corporation B the price of a comic book or movie ticket while the surviving old men who created those now-valuable “IPs” are forced to rely on charity to meet medical bills, and their family have to go to court to see any of the money their dads should have earned?

I honestly worry that the fact that reading superhero comics now makes me feel like a bad person so often that it’s souring the experience for me, and it may someday pus me out of comics—or at least those comics—altogether. Maybe once I’ve read all the Showcases and Essentials…? (Because I’m working my way through Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1, and it is a blast).


NPR interviewed Mo Willems at some length on the occasion of the release of his new pigeon book, The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! (I just read it at work last week, and it’s pretty good).

Willems talks a bit about where the pigeon came from, his philosophy of gearing stories towards kids and adults and the most existential of his Elephant & Piggie books, We Are in a Book!, which Slate wrote about a while back.


When asked if Jack Kirby’s name should appear in the credits of the upcoming The Avengers movie, Stan Lee asked in reply, “In what way would it appear?”

Well, I think “Based on the comic series by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby,” or, alternately, “Based on the comics created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.” Hell, you could even modify the word “comics” with the word “Marvel,” and make them happy, too.

Remember, Kirby wasn’t just the artist on The Avengers comic book series, he also co-created Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Nick Fury, Iron Man and Loki.


Later in the week, MacDonald returned to some of the issues regarding creators and their relationships with their corporate-owned publishers, with a much more sharply-written and focused piece discussing the history of Alan Moore’s troubled relationship with DC.

Here’s where I’d differ with MacDonald.

She wrote:

I’ve spoken to quite a few of the people working on the Before Watchmen books. And they are all proud of their work. I’m not going to gainsay their pride. And I’m not going to call them sellouts or other names. I’ve said a few things here and elsewhere but I will no longer question their motives. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Well, I’ll call ‘em sellouts! I’ll question their motives! Regarding playa hatin’, at least in this particular context (which is a little different than the context form which that terms came from, but whatever), you can’t have a game to hate if its players refused to play it.

I don’t see anything wrong with calling Darwyn Cooke and the other Before Watchmen creators sellouts. They are sellouts. Doing something unsavory, unethical, immoral or otherwise negative with one's time, energy and talent simply in exchange for money is the text book definition of selling out, isn’t it?

DC can only publish Before Watchmen if they have writers willing to write it and artists willing to draw it, and these are the folks that stepped up and said, “Yes, I will take that assignment and the paycheck that accompanies it!”

And yeah (yeah, yeah, yeah) if Darwyn Cooke and Brian Azzarello and Amanda Conner and the rest of these guys said no, then someone else probably would have said yes, but then it would be that someone else complicit in Before Watchmen, and Cooke and company would get a Get Out Of Scorn Free Card, like, I don’t know, Kevin Smith, who apparently turned the project down (Holy shit you guys, Kevin Smith is making you look like greedy douchebag sell-outs!) and Grant Morrison and (I assume) Geoff Johns and the other A-Listers DC must have asked first before getting around to JMS and Len Wein.

I’m vegetarian. When I was still pretty young, I would occasionally have someone (usually a child or teenager) say something along the lines of “The cow is already dead,” or “If you don’t eat that, you know someone else is going to eat it anyway.”

Obviously that kind of argument didn’t persuade me to renounce vegetarianism and resume eating animal flesh again.


As I said before, a few people involved with Before Watchmen are excused (by me, anyway) from scorn (from me, anyway).

Joe Kubert, by virtue of his longevity, by building up an incredible and successful career decades before Watchmen even came into existence and by simply being someone who also worked on comics during the Golden Age and put up with more than enough shit already, gets a pass.

Joe Kubert deserve a magical skeleton key that allows him to enter the homes of any comics readers and eat whatever he wants out of their kitchens, as far as I’m concerned.

Len Wein is excused for editing the original. I still think it’s funny that Len Wein is one of the guys writing a Watchmen add-on (His previous projects for DC included a weekly adapation of their MMORPG video game that was soooo hard to read it hurt my eyes, and the Legacies miniseries which DC rebooted the instant the final issue saw print). Wein should have excused himself from the project, of course, but he and John Higgins have at least earned their presence there by working on the original, even if they weren’t either of the creators doing the heavy lifting.


I’m gonna link to The Comics Journal’s interview with Chris Roberson.


Holy smokes, Frank Quitely is a great artist.


What’s cool about this article “6 Old Timey Comics Straight Out of a (Bad) Acid Trip" is that you could pick almost any six comics from that era and, more likely than not, the results will be just about as insane.

It does seem a little like cheating to use such a well-vetted insane comic as Fantomah, though…


This week’s Grumpy Old Fan column from Tom Bondurant wanders in three different directions before bringing it all together, and one of those directions concerns a Justice League of America movie, and how unlikely such a thing might be.

I don’t think Warner Brothers needs to do it the way Marvel did their Avengers movie, introducing a handful of characters in a handful of different movies before bringing them all together in a single movie, since the JLA heroes are so universally well-known compared to guys like Hawkeye or even Iron Man.

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman—everyone knows the basics of each of ‘em. Flash and Aquaman might not be fresh in your mom or dad’s minds, but they are good superheroes in that their names, appearances and powers all sort of relate. How many split-seconds does it really take to “get” The Flash, you know?

The hardest characters to “explain” would probably be Green Lantern, although his movie and merchandising probably served to suggest the basics to most folks, whether they sat through the film or not, and Martian Manhunter, who might not even make it into a movie at this point, given the way DC’s all-but benched him in the post-Identity Crisis DCU.

That said, I do think a Justice League movie is rather unlikely simply because each of the characters are so powerful, and have their own unique, spectacular powers that would require showing-off.

I’m thinking of the Big Seven here, but even if you switch out a few of them for the likes of The Atom or Hawkman or Firestorm or Cyborg or Vixen or whoever, the point remains.

You’ve gotta do a couple of scenes where Superman and Wonder Woman show off super-strengthe, where he shoots eyebeams and she deflects bullets with her bracelets, where The Flash does some super-speed shit, and so on.

I personally found it rather striking that the movie Avengers line-up isn’t terrible super. In fact, Thor and The Hulk are the only real superheroes on the team.

Hawkeye is a regular guy who shoots a bow and arrow, Black Widow and Nick Fury are regular people who shoot guns, Iron Man is a regular guy in a suit, Captain America is a regular guy who throws a shield (Yeah, yeah, I know—super-soldier serum, enhanced strength and reflexes, et cetera. What it boils down to, in cinematic terms, is that he’s a guy who wins all his fistfights, which makes him as superhuman as the lead character in any action movie).

They chose not to use the characters who shrink and grow and/or control insects, or the magic lady or the super-speedster or the android who walks through walls, and I think they did so for a reason beyond realism—the less amazing super-powers on your super-team, the easier it is to make a movie about your super-team.

You could de-super a Justice League line-up, of course, but once you start taking out characters like The Flash or Green Lantern or Wonder Woman and replacing them with Green Arrow and Black Canary and Bronze Tiger, your Justice League isn’t really the Justice League people would want to see a movie about anymore, you know?


I have a love/hate relationship with Grant Morrison interviews. I often love the things he says in those interviews, but I just as often hate some of the things he says.

David Brothers caught an especially egregious quote where Morrison calls the people who created superheroes “freaks,” which sounds awful.

Brothers segues into something dumb written on IGN, that suggested “sex-starved geeks” created the lovely ladies of comics, and he then goes on to list various creators who are responsible for a lot of those ladies to knock that suggestion down.

“Freaks” is especially offensive—and one should note that Morrison talks about his hatred of the term “geek” in his Supergods book because of its connotations to circus performers—given that the Golden Age comic book field that created superheroes was dominated by people who weren’t white Anglo-Saxons precisely because they were banished from the "respectable" art jobs. The guys who were creating superheroes were there doing so, at least in part, because they were Jewish or black or women or immigrants or whatever.

I think the argument could be made that superheroes were ultimately re-embraced in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and each decade after by outsiders, misfits and readers who might self-describe as freaks (or be referred to as such by others), but their creators—occasionally in touch with their own troubled inner-adolescent or not—were fairly typical Greatest Generation guys with wives, kids and houses, concerned more with paying the bills that grand artistic statements. They fought in World War II and they tried keeping up with the Jones.

The statements they did make through their work tended to be as mainstream as possible: Nazis and their Axis allies are bad, America is good, good is better than evil, love is preferable to war, with great power comes great responsibility, crime does not pay, etc.

(I don’t want to follow this tangent, but it’s worth noting that there was a point in the late ‘40s and 1950s where there were a lot of folks in mainstream American culture who thought the people who made comic books were freaks; these were the Frederic Werthams of the world though, the bad guys accusing the first generation of professionally comic book-makers of deviance and, I thought we had all long since agreed, they were wrong)

And by the time Grant Morrison was coming of age, people pretty much stopped creating new superheroes, didn’t they? Morrison has created tons of characters, but he's most famous and successful at re-creating other people's superheroes, and most of the heroes he created tend to be in the orbit of other creators' characters, created to reflect or react to them. (Are The Invisibles superheroes? I don't really think of them as superhero characters, or that as as superhero genre book. I guess there's Seaguy, but he's more of a commentary character than a standalone one; that is, he's like an elephant in a political cartoon, meaning something in that context, but you wouldn't read about that elephant's inner life or adventures in a different context, because that elephant is just there to stand in for something else and make the author's point about something).

Brothers goes on to discuss Morrison's view of the superhero as a positive vision of the future to contrast with the typical pop culture view of a negative future, but I just wanted to take a moment to shake my head at something Morrison blurted out in an interview. That guy is one smart dude, but he sure makes me cringe when he talks about the pre-Morrison American comic book industry sometimes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Caleb's 100% Effective Baldness Cure

Are you bald? Do you find the ladies ignoring you in favor of romantic rivals with thick, lustrous heads of hair? Do you suffer from a sunburned scalp in the summer time? Do you feel ashamed when the glare off your head causes passersby to squint? Are you tired of people rubbing your head for luck, or greeting you with a "What's up, Brian Michael Bendis?"

If you answered yes to any of the above, then chances are you've also spent time wishing there was a cure for your condition. Well, wish no more, because there is! And it's CALEB'S 100% EFFECTIVE BALDNESS CURE!


—A beard

—Scissors, clippers or any other hair-cutting implement of your choice



(Be sure to collect it as it is removed from your face, and then set it aside. You will need this later)



Congratulations! Your baldness is now cured!
You now have a fabulous head of 100% real, natural hair grown from your own head!

And it looks great from all angles!
And no one will be able to tell it's not your original hair!

Now go get 'em, tiger!

(Please note: Your new head of hair will last only until your next shower, or until you are caught in a sudden rainstorm. So be sure to wear a shower cap when washing, and bring and umbrella when leaving your house. Once your new head of hair is washed away, simply begin the process all over again)