Podcast - Episode 73: The Image Revolution

Dave and I have decided to not do a Best of 2016 episode this year because those things are BORING.

Instead, we have taken a trip back to a simpler time by watching the 2014 documentary, THE IMAGE REVOLUTION, about the creation of Image Comics in the 1990s.

The documentary features clips from the 1991 series, The Comic Book Greats, which was hosted by Stan Lee. You can see full episodes of Stan the Man talking to "greats" like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld on YouTube:

I didn't really read superhero comics that much in the 90s because they were so ugly and confusing and just didn't appeal to me at all. Besides the occasional Jim Lee X-Man comic, I mostly ignored them. Most of my 90s superhero intake was in animated form.

As a result, comic books in the 90s have always just baffled me. It's a bizarre island where no attention was paid to storytelling or art or character development. And yet it was the most successful the comic book industry has ever been.

But, like all things that are all flash and no substance, the bottom fell out hard. Fortunately, Image was able to continue on, and even flourish, and today is a place where some of the top talent in the industry have the ability to tell their stories the way they want to tell them. As much as we roll our eyes at the comics Image was putting out in the 90s, the idea of Image as a publishing house for creator-owned properties was important and is responsible for some of the best comics on the stands today.

Enjoy! We'll be back next week to talk about Rogue One!

Podcast - Episode 51: Kingdom Come

It's the first week of the Living Between Wednesdays Summer Book Club!

We're kicking things off with the 1996 DC Elseworlds event, Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. It's pretty! It's dark! It has everyone! It inspired Jay-Z to return to hip hop (don't tell me I'm wrong about this, I don't want to know)!

Before we get to all that, we cover a few news items.

We talk a bit about the tragic and very sudden passing on Anton Yelchin. Man, what a devastating thing. It's going to make it really hard to watch that new Star Trek movie.

I mention that Yelchin had a memorable role on ER as a child. Here's a screengrab of that:


If you want to read about the unending hell that was the Suicide Squad set, io9 has a pretty good list here.

Here is the Key and Peele sketch about Ray Parker Jr. It cracks me up every time. Especially when 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' scrolls up the screen.

I would post a link to some stuff about the Justice League set visit, but, nah.

We talk a bit about race in comics, and the lack of available comics by Black creators in particular. Also, the weird kinda racist depiction of Black super heroes in many comics. There is a really good piece about Black representation in comics and the death of James Rhodes by Thaddeus Howze here.

I don't even think we got into how messed up it is that Rhodes was killed (another Civil War starting with the death of a Black super hero), or the fact that almost no one is talking about it (the death of a Black hero is not as interesting as a white hero being a fake Nazi, I guess). We mostly talk about the weird racist meeting of all the Black heroes in Sam Wilson Captain America last week.

You can't watch Arty, the film that Dave is in, online yet, but you CAN watch the brand new documentary short, Monster Man, also directed by Nathan Boone, right here:

I'm not going to link to the Captain America porn, but here's a promo image to give you an idea:

I forgot to mention that Bucky does not have a metal arm in this porn. That's weird, right? I expect better attention to detail to be paid in my pornographic entertainment.

And if you want some softcore, here is a legit video of Sebastian Stan working out recently, posted by his friend (and trainer, I think?). Or, rather, here is a version that a fan edited so it's just Sebastian moments:

And if you want more Sebastian Stan (yes), here is the Q&A he did in GQ Style.

And if you want to see some super awesome Stucky art by J.Bone, check this out:

For real this time #stucky #captainamerica #wintersoldier #winterschildren #jbone

A photo posted by J.Bone (@originaljbone) on

Shriek!!!! I can't believe I didn't post this sooner!

J's Rocketeer comic comes out today, and I have it on good authority (his) that Steve and Bucky are hiding in the background somewhere.

Alright, let's get to Kingdom Come!

It's my boys! And my girl!

It was fun revisiting this book this week. I hadn't read it in awhile. And I am always here for silver fox Bruce Wayne:

And, um, shirtless farmer Superman:

Dave asked why people refer to this book as fanfic, and I don't think I explained it very well when we recorded. Basically, although, yes, all fiction written about characters that you didn't create and don't own is technically fanfic, this particular book contains more tropes of traditional fanfic than most (really, most of the Elseworlds did). This is what you might call a canon-divergent dark fic. Besides the premise, and the fact that, as I say, every character ever is worked in there somewhere, there is also the whole Alex Ross's-dad-as-original-character thing, the Superman/Wonder Woman thing, the pregnancy super happy ending thing...frankly that entire scene at the Planet Krypton restaurant read like fanfic. I'm saying this as someone who has read a lot of fanfic and a lot of comics. Some just seem more similar than others.

This would be the archive details for Kingdom Come, were it published online as fanfic:

Rating: T

Archive Warning: Major character death, 

Category: M/F

Fandoms: DC Comics (All), Superman (comics), Batman (comics), Wonder Woman (comics), Justice League of America (comics), Captain Marvel (DC)

Relationships: Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman & Batman, Batman & Wonder Woman, OC (male) & Spectre

Characters: Superman (Clark Kent), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), Captain Marvel (Billy Batson), Spectre, OC (male), Lex Luthor, The Flash (Wally West), Aquaman (Arthur Curry), Blue Beatle (Ted Kord), Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Power Woman, various OCs

Additional Tags: Future fic, dark future, retired Superman, religion, Superman needs a hug, Batman is a bamf, Wonder Woman is a bamf, brainwashing, pregnancy, mortality, first kiss, major character death, eventual happy ending

Summary: OMG, idk. This was suppose to be a super short scene and it totally got away from me! Can't shut the muses up LOL! Set in the future, Superman has retired and the Justice League has been replaced by younger, more violent heroes. Lots of angst but a happy ending! I just really wanted to see Superman and Wonder Woman kiss! *hides* Possible prequel coming!

OK, and I looked into it. There have been a couple of female writers of Batman and Detective Comics, but very few issues written by them. As far as I could find, Devin Grayson wrote two issues of Batman and two issues of Detective Comics, and at least part of one Batman Annual. Louise Simonson wrote three issues of Detective Comics and at least part of one Detective Comics Annual. And I think...that's...it. At least for Batman and Detective Comics proper. Becky Cloonan was indeed the first woman to draw an issue of Batman. IN 2012!!!!! And...I don't think there has been one since? Correct me if I'm wrong?

So when I say it's challenging to find a lot of classic mainstream super hero comics by female creators, I mean it's VERY challenging. I'm glad to see that changing finally.

Sadly, there is no video feed or any information at all to confirm the rumours of the physical altercation between Waid and Ross at ComicCon but please please PLEASE be real. Dave thinks it would look a lot like the fighting you see in this trailer:

Alright, next week we are talking about Gerry Conway and Ross Andru's Spider-Man: The Original Clone Saga. It's a long one! Get reading, everyone! I still haven't unlocked Spider-Man in my Avengers Academy game!

So I Was Reading Fate No. 3 the Other Day…

And I do declare that in a book absolutely [[filled with 90s character archetypes (Fate himself, for example), this lady:

… is the best example of the breed that I have encountered in a long time. Bathing suit with shoulder pads, gigantic armoured boots, crazy weapons, incredibly bombastic speech patterns? Checkity-check check check.

Oh, damn. I just realized exactly how 90s her origin is, too. See, she’s the last member of a race of ladies (?) with incredible magical powers, only when they were all wiped out by evil types(natch) she was the only one who hadn’t yet learned how to use those powers. So she made pacts with crazy creatures to get herself a house and train for, like, ever to make herself a complete martial badass. She has at least two unnecessary layers in her origin! Astonishing.


This Week's Haul...In 1990!

As much as I would love to indulge in reading and writing about 90s comics all night, I'm afraid I'm going to have to make this quick. I am jetting off to New York City tomorrow!

But first, let's see what treasures November 1990 had to offer.

Danny MF Ketch in the house!

I suggest clicking on that cover to look at the larger image, because it is pretty awesome.

In this issue Danny fights the Scarecrow, goes on a date in Brooklyn, seeks to avenge a baby murderer, and attends his own sister's funeral! And I think this may have been mostly on the same day.

It was written by Howard Mackie and drawn by Mark Texeira and it is a pretty solid Ghost Rider story.

This issue also features the best reaction to Ghost Rider that I have ever read:

I don't know if I have ever read an issue of Spider-Man drawn by Erik Larsen. It looks really, really weird.

Spider-Man voluntarily gives up his powers to become a normal guy, because it suddenly starts bothering him that Aunt May is possibly in danger as long as he's a superhero.

Everyone looks very late-80s, early-90s in this issue, especially Flash Thompson:


Captain America has to fight the most fearsome foe of the 1990s in this issue: affirmative action! Rage shows up at the new Avengers HQ and demands to be allowed to join the team. He does so in the most stereotypical way possible:

This issue also features Captain America wearing a construction helmet, which pretty much made my life:

Aw...he's workin' hard.

Ok, this was really a weird comic. In a recent Avengers issue, Tigra was apparently transformed into being a more cat-like creature, and was shrunk to the size of a house cat with Pym Particles. So she's basically a cat with a head of long hair and a human-ish shape. And she gets eaten by a pit bull, which is disturbing (except to the pit bull's owner, who is LOVING IT!). She gets taken to the vet by a kindly old woman with poor vision who does not notice that this cat looks really, really bizarre.

I don't know what this comic is, but it seemed like a bit of a fetish rag. There was something about Tigra-as-a-small-cat that I just could not handle.

Also of note is that every issue I read in this pile featured this Splatterhouse ad. Man, that game used to scare the crap out of me. And is it any wonder?


90s Week: Back to the Drawing Board with Bruce Wayne

In 1995 a team of "archaeologists" at DC discovered Bruce Wayne's long lost collection of concept sketches for his costume. These sketches were released in the form of an Elseworld entitled Batman: Knight Gallery, and let me tell you, it has not aged well.

From these historic drawings we learn that:

a) Bruce Wayne was ahead of his time in terms of costume design;
b) Bruce Wayne has terrible ideas, and
c) Bruce Wayne draws a lot like some of the top artistic talent at DC circa 1995 (and also Jim Balent)

By the way, I hope you like pointy shoulders, because you are going to be seeing a lot of them.

My favourite thing about the above design is that the Bat-emblem is a brooch. My least-favourite thing is everything else. But as you will soon see, this is probably the best costume design of the lot.

The answers to his shoulder questions are yes, yes, and yes. Also: they look ridiculous. And I would have to think that his cape being feathered that way on the bottom would make gliding difficult. And it has an ugly belt and it's Not dark enough.

Well this gives "sharp dresser" a whole new meaning.

Ears better - more fierce & intimidating. Also, can make shish kabobs on them.

Some vision and snag concern re shoulder hooks & gauntlet projections. SOME?! SOME?! Nothing could be within a foot and a half of him without getting stabbed.

"Robin, you head that way and I'll...oh shit, sorry Robin."

And what are the shoulder spikes good for? Does he have a problem with seagulls landing on him? (Also, this one was designed by James "Jim" Balent, who I am sure needs no introduction).

Bruce is worried that this look is "too fancy." I am more concerned by the fact that it is "too stupid," "too ugly," and looks "too much like Batman is being sucked down the drain."

I don't really see how this design would hinder agility more than the pointy ones.

We have the hilarious bat-emblam-as-brooch look going on again here, and we have a right shoulder adornment that I cannot figure out at all. I am also not sure how he puts the boots on.

Oh, I don't know if it sacrifices all of the fear factor. I would be pretty scared if I saw anyone wearing this. Because they would look crazy. I am picturing this entire suit being made out of crushed velvet in royal blue and shiny grey.

Bruce Wayne and I clearly have different definitions of "good."

This is...I just...

And you know if 1995 dudes were looking at this page and saying "Oh man, that is so wicked!"

And in case you were wondering what it might look like in red:

How would he even fit in the Batmobile with those things on his shoulders?

But wait, it gets worse:

It certainly is memorable, but I don't know about striking. Confusing is a better adjective. Why would he need hooks all the way up his thighs?

I am trying to picture Batman, whenever this was supposed to be (the past), sketching this thing. And being ok with it. Considering it.

I think I am actually going to keep this page in a drawer somewhere so when my future children ask me what the 90s were like I'll just show them that. And they will cry.

I would say it is more than "verging" on the bizarre. It has kicked bizarre in the nuts and just kept running. As for not being terrifying, well...I wouldn't feel comfortable if I was cornered at a party by someone wearing it.

But how about the Donnie Darko rabbit look?:

It also looks very uncomfortable. And I doubt it breathes well.

Y'know, even if you did as he suggests and combine the best elements of each of these designs, you would still have a truly hideous costume.

There were also some Robin costume concepts, which were...not great...

So there are a bunch of reasons why the 1990s was an ugly and regrettable decade for superhero comics.To DC's credit, at least they just put out this Elseworld book of crazy 90s costumes instead of actually changing Batman's costume to one of these. At least until Azrael showed up.

90s X-Men Animated Series Now Collected in Easy-to Dispose DVD Format

Here's the thing: I really loved the old X-Men animated series from the 90s. Not the one where Wolverine had an Australian accent. The other one. I watched every episode several times. In university I watched it again when it was shown on Teletoon. I loved it then, and that was only like eight years ago. The good news for those who loved the show is that it's now available on DVD as of last week (or at least the first 33 episodes are). The bad news is that it really doesn't hold up very well.

Last night Johnathan and I got together for what should have been a perfect evening of beer, ribs and the X-Men DVDs. It took about 30 seconds to realize that no amount of beer and mapley sweet ribs would negate the fact that we were watching a terrible show.

The opening credits are great. Great music, great clips, great fonts. But after that the show pretty much falls apart every episode. Even the episodes I remembered as being good were pretty bad. The end credits were astonishingly bad.

The real problem with this show is that it is extremely loyal to an era of X-Men comics that was extremely flawed. Everyone is ugly with crazy eyebrows, terrible hair, and horrible outfits. Cable is covered in armbands, all of which are way too tight. It must take him five hours to get dressed. The stories are largely based on Claremont comics, but with all the intelligence taken out. Even the Len Wein-penned Alpha Flight episode fell flat.

The animation is lazy. The voice acting is terrible. Everyone's accents are insane. Xavier darts around in his floating wheelchair at an alarming speed in small spaces. Footage is recycled at a ridiculous rate. The characters are all flat and boring. No wonder I loved Gambit so much...he's the only one with a shred of personality. And every time Bishop is on screen we hear blues harmonica for some reason.

My favourite line was probably when Storm was buried under a pile of boulders and Cyclops's reaction was to yell "Help! Storm suffers from claustrophobia!" I think the bigger problem was that Storm was suffering from being buried under a pile of boulders.

Now keep this in mind: this series was airing at the same time as the damn near perfect Batman: The Animated Series!

So what I am saying is that I really wanted to like this. I wanted to watch it and be able to say "You know, this is a pretty solid series" because surely I did not waste hours of my life watching something really crappy. Right? I did. The world is right and I was wrong. This is not a good show. And the fact that there are no special features on the DVDs means there is no reason to buy it. But, y'know, people really like watching the old G.I. Joe cartoon too, and that thing sucks (sorry, nerds. It sucks).

I mean, I guess if you want to get stoned with your friends and redub the audio with your own jokes and post it on YouTube, this is a must-buy. But other than that, I can't really recommend it. It's best left forgotten and replaced in our collective memory by the excellent new series, Wolverine and the X-Men.