Showing 1 - 10 of 236 posts found matching keyword: comic books

Lessons comics taught me:

Someone is making money teaching this technique on the Internet
Wonder Woman #178 (1968)

How *not* to pick up women.

Hashtag Woke

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Batman Day was this past Saturday. It should not be confused with Batman's birthday. According to the 1976 DC Comics Calendar, Bruce Wayne was born on February 19. Or April 7, depending on whether we're talking about the Earth-1 or Earth-2 version. (Don't even get me started on Earth-3.)

If you missed the date, don't blame yourself. Batman Day crawls blindly around the calendar like its namesake. In the past five years since it was created, it has never been held on the same date twice: July 23 (2014), September 15 (2018), September 17 (2016), September 23 (2017), September 26 (2015). If you can find a pattern in those dates, congratulations! You can be the super villain who crashes Batman Day 2020. You can call yourself "The Sequencer" and wear a costume covered in brilliantly colored, shiny sequins. Trust me; that's how comic book villains work.

In celebration of the "holiday," 10 cities across the globe gave promoters permission to shine the Bat-signal on their skylines despite it not being a Bat-emergency. Fans in Barcelona, Berlin, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Rome, Sao Paulo, and Tokyo. That's a lot of cities for one hero to visit in a day. Batman's a billionaire, not Santa Claus.

The event advertised participation in 13 cities, but Los Angeles denied permits and Paris had an infestation of anti-government rioters (a situation that sounds more like a job for Superman). Meanwhile, Montreal's celebration was interrupted by a nutcase with a megaphone, which if you ask me, is about as Batman as it gets.

This town needs an enema!

Hrm. He needs more sequins.

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Friend Chad recently asked me if I had any interest in the upcoming Joker movie. You know the one. It just won the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. My answer, in short, was no. In long, it was *hell* no.

As a longtime reader of comics, I have a well-established mental image of what I expect from Batman and his rogues gallery. As a general rule, I don't enjoy films about gangsters (which Joker was in the 40s) or films about serial killers (which Joker has been since the 80s). I've seen both Bonnie and Clyde and Natural Born Killers exactly once, and that's each one time too many.

My biggest problem with the film is that the Joker is unequivocally a villain. Pure capital-E Evil. However, a story's protagonist has to be relatable to its audience. Just as the short-lived Joker comic series of the mid-70s focused on its eponymous star's zany antics (and minimized the collateral damage), to put the character at the center of a film it becomes necessary to humanize him, to turn him from villain to anti-hero. No, thank you.

Call me a prude, but I don't see any reason to make a film exploring how someone becomes a narcissistic, mass-murdering sociopath on the scale of the Joker. In fiction, the Joker has beaten a child to death with a crowbar, slaughtered an entire talk show audience on camera, and gassed the United Nations General Assembly. All for giggles. If such a monster existed in the real world — an Osama bin Laden-squared — would you pay to see that person's biography on the big screen?

Joker works best in comics as a larger-than-life malevolent force of nature, the personification of the chaos that Batman strives to eliminate from the world. That's exactly how "Why so serious" Heath Ledger played him (and "This town needs an enema" Jack Nicholson before that). If you insist on reinventing the character, I'd say making him mortal is the wrong direction to go. Forget realism for a character that is inherently unreal. Give us a film about how Cesar Romero's wacky Joker earned his place as Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime with a painted-over mustache (the anti-Groucho Marx!). Or choose to elaborate on any random Joker entry from silly The Super Dictionary.

Joker is a liar! Beets are NOT good to eat.

But don't try to remake Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy with a super-villain behind the greasepaint. Once was enough for that one, too.

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I don't think this means what you think it means

The Super Dictionary has a well-deserved reputation for, shall we say, unusual definitions of words, but the above is not really a page in the Super Dictionary. It's a poster by artist Marco D'Alfonso currently for sale on m7781.storeenvy.com.

I still have my original Super Dictionary on the shelf right in front of me, and I'm sure that its actual definition for "happy" is much less warped.

I don't think this means what you think it means either

Never mind. Super Dictionary, you win again!

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From "The Tower of Prey", The House of Mystery #203, (1972), art by Nelson Redondo:

Ever wonder what kind of person would model their life on the villain of a comic book horror story?

Some people need to overcompensate for their... shortcomings

The bomb, wind, bullet, and airplane-proof building at the center of the story appears to be based on the then in-development World Trade Center. The angry woman who blames the greedy developer who "stole" her property has much in common with the landowners who sued the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey over their ability to use eminent domain to seize land from reluctant landlords. Lawsuits lead to the Supreme Court.

You probably know who won in real life. In the comic, it's the landlady's raven-claw curse that carries the day. What a happy ending!

Wish fulfillment

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I don't mean to tell the King of the Sea his business, but he's doing it wrong.

Left to loosen, son!
Aquaman #1 (Jan-Feb 1962)

Yes, I am willing to accept the premise that Aquaman and Aqualad have been magically reduced to three inches in height by a water sprite (named Quisp!) in an attempt to save them from rampaging Inner Earth fire trolls.

And every DC fan knows that Atlanteans can only survive out of the water — salty or otherwise — for one hour, so obviously they need to get into this Army Jeep's radiator to stay alive. (Antifreeze poisoning? Never heard of it.)

Yet I just can't get past the fact that Aquaman doesn't know how to open a radiator cap.

My suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

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Want to know why I love Superman? Read this:

It's so obvious, why didn't I figure it out sooner?
Action Comics #322, March 1965

Unless you are steeped in Superman mythology, this panel probably doesn't make any sense to you. Don't worry, that makes you a perfectly normal human being.

Comic-book knowledge is a special kind of knowledge gained only after hours / months / years of immersion in stories about a self-contained universe with its own, unique set of rules. These rules are rarely logical though they are generally consistent. There's no connection between flying fast and traveling back in time, but it works for Superman every time.

Better yet, this knowledge is a badge shared only between the initiated. Once you understand how Superman hides his "Clark Kent clothes" while wearing his primary-colored union suit*, you enter a club of other enthusiasts. Understanding Superman is its own secret handshake!

*He super compresses them with his super strength and hides them in a special pocket in his cape. Congratulations, now you're a member, too!

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Not everyone loves Superman month, especially not that fickle Lois Lane.

(By the way, in case you were unaware, Tom Peyer is the writer and editor-in-chief of Ahoy Comics, and has been making some great comics lately. I whole-heartedly recommend The Wrong Earth to anyone who enjoyed Adam West's Batman.)

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Anyone reading this is likely familiar with the fact that although the character his creators called Superman has been published continually for 81 years, it hasn't always been the same Superman. The vigilante social justice warrior of the 1930s bears little resemblance to the omnipotent policeman seen in comics today.

In reality, those changes over time have often been dictated by publishing trends and a series of lawsuits by Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, about just what rights they had given DC Comics to profit from their intellectual property. But in comics, those eras have always had hard boundaries, each contained in its own dimension, or "alternate Earth." Until now.

Last month, DC published a story explaining that all of those alternate realities are really the same one, each the natural universe's response to a god-like creature, Doctor Manhattan, changing some of the seemingly random, fundamental forces that drove the creation of each environment. In other words, all those Supermen are aspects of the same being, all of them owned by DC Comics, who finally prevailed against Siegel and Shuster's heirs earlier this decade.

The irony in this situation is that Doctor Manhattan's behind-the-scenes history is just as complicated as Superman's. Manhattan was created in the 1980s by Alan Moore under a contract stipulating he would gain ownership rights of his characters should Manhattan's original appearance ever go out of print for a single year, a condition DC has studiously avoided for three decades and counting.

So Superman's contentious publishing history is being justified through the use of a character with an equally contentious history by a publisher with a contentious history. Forget truth and justice; bald-faced greed is the American Way.

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Today marks the start of the 13th annual Wriphe.com Superman Month!

Is this the year I finally make it to the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois? Probably not. It's next weekend, and I already have other plans.

Their guests of honor will include original Supergirl, Helen Slater, and Erica Durance, Smallville's Lois Lane. Their lists of guest artists, however, leaves something to be desired compared to past years. I guess they do have to save something for next year.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Greater Metropolis Convention & Visitors Bureau website to see what else there might be to do in town between autograph sessions underneath the Superman Statue. Metropolis isn't a big town, and the Visitors Bureau only lists 15 total "sights and attractions." Of course the big draw is the Harrah's Casino (which I haven't visited) and the Super Museum & Gift Shop (which I have and highly recommend). They also have a bowling alley, gym, state park, and microbrewery. I guess the town isn't big enough to support a full sized brewery.

Their most unusual non-Superman offering might be the Mermet Springs "full service dive site" inside an abandoned stone quarry that includes "the jet airplane from the movie U.S. Marshals." That short sells what they offer, as the Mermet Springs website lists 2 additional planes and 10 other man made objects to swim around. Not counting Jimmy Olsen.

I find it easier to believe that Jimmy Olsen can hold his breath for three hours than that he can win at checkers

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To be continued...

 

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