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Back in February, I expressed my enjoyment of NBC's Powerless and said that it probably wouldn't make it past May.
The show was officially canceled last week by NBC, which had pulled it off the air last month with two episodes still unaired. What a shame, too. The show was just starting to find its footing as it dug deeper into DC's toy box, introducing live action versions of the Olympian, Jack O'Lantern, and Green Fury, all members of the criminally underappreciated Global Guardians.
What other wonders did the show have up its sleeve? Would future episodes have brought us founding Global Guardian member Godiva, the woman with prehensile hair? Or Owlwoman, a Native American with the powers and abilities of an owl? Or the immortal African king Doctor Mist? The world will never know.
So long, Powerless. I'll see you in the funny pages.
From the Nail in the Coffin Department:
February 23, 1942. The day the Bee died. A story so powerful, it wasn't told until 1984!
Having followed Uncle Sam and other heroes to Earth-X, the Red Bee immediately found himself in battle versus the Japanese military . . . in sunny Santa Barbara, California. Because Japs are bastards.
Each of the heroes had something to contribute to the fight: Uncle Sam's strength, the Ray's speed, Human Bomb's explosions, Black Condor's racism, Phantom Lady's tits, Dollman's, er, dolls? And, of course, Red Bee's bees.
All-Star Squadron #33, May 1984
The team decided to take the fight to the Japanese fleet offshore. Things went sideways pretty fast once the enemy rolled out their secret weapon: the armored super-soldier Baron Blitzkrieg. To no one's great surprise, the super-strong Nazi was more than a match for an entire swarm of bees.
All-Star Squadron #34, June 1984
After being tossed overboard by an errant explosion (thanks for nothing, Human Bomb), the Red Bee died at sea.
I did tell you this was his last appearance, right?
Ok, fine. He didn't drown. He was just biding his time for the perfect moment to make his triumphant return.
All-Star Squadron #35, July 1984
Maybe "triumphant" is too strong a word.
Inspired by the Red Bee's noble death,
Darth Vader Hourman freed his fellow captives and won the day. So in his own way, the Red Bee won World War II. Except that on this alternate Earth, World War II never ended, and the Allies and Axis are still fighting well into the 21st century. Way to make it count, Uncle Sam.
And thus ends the tale of the Red Bee. If there's any lesson here, it's that training a bee to sting people doesn't make you a super hero. Being beaten to death by Nazis does.
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From the One Foot in the Grave Department:
Today is a sorrowful occasion. It marks the anniversary of the next-to-last day in the life of the Red Bee.
When we last saw our hero, he was fighting drug thieves. As a reward for his efforts, he was invited to the inaugural meeting of the All-Star Squadron!
All-Star Squadron #31, March 1984
That's him there, drinking coffee between the Human Bomb and Smilin' Batman™! They were just some of the many, many heroes who attended, including Sandman and his sidekick Sandy, Sargon the Sorcerer, Spectre, Speedy, Star-Spangled Kid, Starman, Stripesy, and Superman, just to name the "S"s. (Shining Knight was invited but couldn't make it. I'm not kidding.)
Seating for the event wasn't alphabetical; it was arranged by gimmick. Red Bee was given a seat beside Black Condor, because they are both color/animals. Or maybe because no one else wanted to sit beside the guy in the see-through blouse or the guy in the blue dickie. (Something tells me those guys wore a lot of perfume.)
The agenda for the meeting — set by none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself! — was to discuss how the heroes could help the War Effort. That topic was sidetracked pretty fast when the living embodiment of the American spirit, Uncle Sam, crashed the party and asked for help on an alternate Earth where the Nazis were doing even better than they were here. Which, frankly, was pretty good.
This being a comic book, several of the heroes felt it was their duty to go save an alternate Earth. That seems like a pretty strange decision to make just two months after Pearl Harbor, but sometimes you've just got to drop everything to go punch Nazis.
All-Star Squadron #32, April 1984
Obviously, Red Bee, champion of the poor and trainer of bees, chose to follow his Uncle Sam to war. He always was braver than he was smart. Given that I already told you that today was his next-to-last day alive, you can probably guess what's coming next.
Tune in tomorrow for the Red Bee's last stand!
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Powerless is DC Comics' latest television show on NBC. Unlike the teen soap-opera dramas crowding the CW lineup, this one's a situation comedy, a cynical workplace lampoon similar to Fred Savage's late-90s Working. Fresh-faced Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) is the newly hired straight woman setting up punchlines for by a fantastic cast of comedians led by Alan Tudyk (Suburgatory), Danny Pudi (Community), and Ron Funches (Undatable), among others.
The series (at least the pilot episode) was tooled to long-time DC Comics fans like me. Many fan reviews online claim the show is a DC version of Marvel's Damage Control comics, but that's not quite fair. For decades, one of the biggest differences between the Marvel and DC comic universes was the way the general public responded to super heroes. Marvel citizens lived in distrust and fear, while DC citizens tended to embrace their supermen (at least until DC saw how much money they were losing at the box office to Marvel movies and made their wolds much, much darker places to live). The characters in this sitcom are definitely old school DC denizens, the sort who would be employed by Hero Hotline.
If you're the sort of person who has heard of Damage Control and Hero Hotline, this show is aimed squarely at you. Since the series takes place inside a four-color comic book world, characters are bright, and reminders of DC's enormous cast of heroes and villains are dropped early and often. A heavy emphasis is placed on the trappings of Batman comics — which only makes sense given that Batman has been DC's best seller for going on thirty years. But that's not really the good stuff. This is the good stuff:
Look! It's Starro the Star Conqueror, the first Justice League villain, making a throwaway cameo appearance! Starro is essentially a giant purple space starfish who mind-controls heroes to do his bidding by putting tiny clones of himself on their faces. That's the Silver Age of comics in a nutshell, a generation better suited to comedy than dour Zack Snyder action films (which, frankly, aren't suitable for anything).
The Powerless pilot also references such minor DC characters as the Global Guardians' Jack O'Lantern and Justice League Europe's Crimson Fox, neither of which is exactly a household name even among people who consider themselves DC Comics fans. Most of these references are used as setups for punchlines, but its still a pretty niche market.
Unfortunately, Powerless dedication to aging comic book fans may mean it's not long for broadcast television. The pilot only attracted about a million viewers. That's not a good start. TV By The Numbers gives the show a 50/50 chance of making it past May, which is a shame. Even Working got three seasons.
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As if having a professional clown for a president wasn't bad enough, it has recently been reported that Donald Trump might raise the price of comic books.
For years, DC Comics has been using Canadian companies to print their comics. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, US companies were able to import those comics duty free. Given the quality of most mainstream comics today, this has effectively become the equivalent of the US taking in Canada's toxic waste for free, so you can see why Trump would want to stop this in order to make America great again.
Trump's protectionist objectives call for rolling back NAFTA and raising tariffs of up to 10% on all imports, including presumably comic books. Because if there's anything that helps stimulate the economy, it's stifling imports.
Assuming DC continues their current practice of printing in Canada, they'd pay more to get them to consumers. Something tells me they'd just pass that cost increase on to us. In 2016, new comics already averaged $3.89 per issue. By 2018, a single book could cost more than a Big Mac. If Americans are forced to choose between comics and Big Macs, we might be looking at the end of an industry. Should that happen, we can be sure that Trump won't notice. He doesn't read.
But I guess I shouldn't complain. Who needs comic books when your president is a living caricature?
Footnotes follow (because in Trump's America everyone has to justify his own alternative facts):
1. Pruitt, Bill. "Exclusive: A Former Apprentice Producer Responds to Donald Trump Being Elected President" Vanityfair.com
2. Marston, George. "Could TRUMP's Trade Policy Plans Affect Comic Book Prices?" Newsarama.com
3. I just looked inside comics I have that are 10 years old, so it's been going on for at least a decade.
4. "North American Free Trade Agreement" wikipedia.org
5. Quicksilver, Chris. "10 Most Harmful Trends In Comics Today" whatculture.com
6. Walker, Kristen. "Trump to Sign Executive Order on Plan to Renegotiate NAFTA With Mexico, Canada" cnbc.com
7. King, Jon and Diamond, Jeremy. "Trump team floats a 10% tariff on imports" cnn.com
8. Murphy, John G. "Would a Tariff Wall Really Protect U.S. Jobs?" uschamber.com
9. Jacobson, Louis. "Donald Trump has floated big tariffs. What could the impact be?" politifact.com
10. Miller, John Jackson. "Average comic book ordered in 2016 cost $3.85, down 11 cents" comichron.com
11. Currently $4.15 in Georgia. fastfoodmenuprices.com
12. Saria Lauren. "Want to Know How Many Big Macs Are Sold in the U.S. Every Second? (Hint: It's More Than a Dozen)" phoenixnewtimes.com
13. Fisher, Marc. "Donald Trump doesn’t read much. Being president probably wouldn’t change that." washingtonpost.com
14. Giedre. "15+ Cartoonists Around The World Illustrate How They Feel About Trump Becoming President" boredpanda.com
15. Waldman, Katy. "Lies, Damned Lies, and Amazing New Euphemisms for Lying" boredpanda.com
I just got my hands on BATMAN 1 BATMAN DAY SPECIAL EDITION: DIRECT MARKET EDITION. Yes, that is its actual title (a reprint of June's BATMAN #1), and it's every bit as stupid as the comic itself.
The entire issue, all 20 pages of it, is devoted to Batman's attempt to save a 747 from crashing into Gotham City. That's not what's stupid. That's noble, and writer Tom King is trying to demonstrate Batman's heroic nature in the struggle. What's stupid is that Batman tries to save this plane by riding it like a cowboy.
To sum up, Batman sees a plane get hit by a missile, then plots a course to intercept using the Batmobile's ejector seat. (The Batmobile is destroyed in the process, not because of the ejector seat, but because Batman drives it off a bridge before ejecting.) In midair, Batman removes the rockets from the ejector seat so that when he lands on the plane, he can attach them to the underside of the wings. (Because Batman can stick to planes.) Batman then has his trusty butler Alfred remotely control the power to the thrusters to provide lift for the plane. (Ignore that there's no explanation for how these Batmobile ejector seat thrusters have enough fuel or power to lift a 747 despite needing Batman to put the Batmobile in the ocean to get him to the plane.) Meanwhile, Batman rides on top of hte plane with a rope... for no apparent reason.
Proud to be stupid.
No, seriously. Why is Batman committing suicide by riding the top of the plane, Dr. Strangelove-style? Batman isn't steering, Alfred is. Via remote control! Batman is just standing there giving Alfred hyper-specific commands ("Give me eighty-two percent starboard, seventeen port."), something he definitely doesn't have to be doing from the top of the plane.
Mr. King, if the point is to demonstrate Batman doing something self-sacrificingly heroic, have him try to stop a runaway train or take a bullet meant for an innocent. Don't go out of your way to showcase how rich and resourceful Batman is only to have him die doing something completely pointless. That's stupid.
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Welcome to the 11th Annual Batman and Football Month at Wriphe.com!
I'm not the only one who feels these two great tastes go together. Check out these custom Fantasy Football trophies.
Pic found on imgur.com
Pic also found on imgur.com
If Batman did play football, he'd win. Which would mean that he'd need his own trophy. I wonder what it would look like?
Yes, of course it would.
Here's a little something I whipped up sometime around 1982.
Mom found this on a Smurf sketch pad she had cluttering her office closset. I can totally understand why she kept it. You don't throw away ideas this awesome.
For the record, the Batplane wasn't called the Bat Wing until 1989, so I was ahead the curve with the Cat Wing. Because, you know, cats don't have wings.
Before you ask, no, Hurrican doesn't need a plane. He can fly. Duh.
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Ahem. From a press release by the University of Leicester:
Seven years of student-led research into superheroes between 2009-2016 suggests Superman could be the best-equipped superhero of all, with a number of abilities including the 'Super Flare' attack and possession of high density muscle tissue
It took seven years to determine that the Man of Tomorrow is the most powerful of all super heroes? Damn. The University of Leicester has a pretty good reputation as a research university, but seven years to figure out that an invulnerable man with the powers of flight, heat vision, x-ray vision, telescopic vision, microscopic vision, super hearing, freeze breath, super intelligence, and a perfect moral compass makes him better equipped than all other super heroes? I figured that out in one afternoon in a comic book shop.
To be fair, this wasn't really a study. The press release goes on to point out that the conclusions presented were the result of seven years of essays written as part of a class teaching students to follow the scientific method and develop critical thinking skills. (The press release itself is a bit of marketing aimed squarely at kids who might consider enrolling in the university. Come and study super heroes!) Taken from that angle, I can wholeheartedly endorse this project, especially when it provides conclusions like this:
Though his cape proves to be a vital utility when gliding in comic and media depictions, the student-led research suggests that when gliding Batman reaches velocities of around 80km/hr — which could be fatal upon landing.
Any research that supports The Incredibles ("No capes!"), now that's some research I can get behind.
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Today in Superman's library we see a demonstration of Superman's least known power: super-alphabetization. Let's see what's under the letter "n":
DC Comics Presents #18 (1980)
I appreciate that a good crime fighter has to keep informed of the criminal mind, but what is Superman doing with a copy of the Necronomicon in his Fortress of Solitude library?
No, Superman. Just no.
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