Podcast - Episode 96: Wonder Woman

We saw the Wonder Woman movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As usual with these sorts of episodes, spoiler alert is in effect. We spoil the hell out of the movie for the last half hour or so of the episode, so please don't listen to it if you haven't seen the movie yet (unless you don't care...but you SHOULD CARE!).

If you are interested in reading my defense of Wonder Woman from 2009, it can be found here.

This week we rate DC's Ralph Dibny, aka The Elongated Man, as a super hunk. He does as well as you might expect. I have made my thoughts on the disgusting nature of his powers known before here and here. And I mourned his death here. And I write about one of his team-up adventures with Superman and Robin here.

I love both Wonder Woman and Elongated Man, so this was a good week.

Thanks for listening! Review us on iTunes if you have a few seconds to spare!

This Week's Haul: Mommy, why is that man licking Batman's skull?

Blackest Night #1

Ok, so I finish reading this week's Wednesday Comics and I am all smiles about Kyle Baker's Hawkman (that thumbs up and smile?! Seriously!). Then I read Blackest Night and...maybe I didn't read these things in the correct order.

Wednesday Comics fills me with love and happiness when I read it. I love those characters, and you can tell that everyone writing or drawing the comics loves them too. And then Blackest Night was just so...messed up.

SPOLIERZZZZZ!!! If you haven't read Blackest Night yet, and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now.

I have been looking forward to this since it was first announced, and that was like two years ago. I loved The Sinestro Corps War, I love Geoff Johns, I love Ivan Reis and I love Green Lantern comics. I don't want to judge too harshly after one issue, but was very reminiscent of the kind of comics I don't like. It was a lot of over-the-top, nineties-style dark sensationalism. And I know that it's silly to accuse a comic book of being sensationalist, as if they are supposed to be something else, but this just seemed like, y'know, Carnage or Spawn or Knightfall. I felt like it was aimed more at the barbed wire Superman symbol tattoo set, or those who might wear this t-shirt, or this one, than at those of us who love superheroes. I'm not against dark in my comics, or character death. That's not really my problem here. I liked Identity Crisis and Final Crisis, and I am sure that from all the darkness in Blackest Night there will be great moments of heroic triumph in future issues. But isn't there a better way of getting to it than zombie Ralph and Sue Dibny?

Also: skull-licking.

I will doubtlessly be buying and reading the entire series, but for now I am going to say that the beginning was way over-the-top and, for me, disappointing. The whole thing made me want to grab all my Showcase Presents books and hug them.

Wednesday Comics #2

Last week I declared Superman to be the winner, more or less, of the first issue of Wednesday Comics. This week it falls far behind thanks to an abrupt scene change to Superman and Batman engaging in one of their usual rooftop chats about Superman's humanity (or lack of). As much as I love those two hanging out, it was pretty unoriginal. This week I felt the strongest comics were Metamorpho, Supergirl, Hawkman, Batman and Kamandi. The Deadman page was really hot looking, too.

Super Friends #17

DC Kids tries to cash in on the Obama comics craze with a cameo that never really calls the President by name, but you know it's him. Then they go back in time to stop Chronos from turning the nation into the United States of Chronos. Oh, Chronos. It's always something with you.

Hey, the second trade collection of Super Friends came out this week too! Buy it for your kids!

All Select Comics #1

Michael Kupperman does a comic for Marvel! He wrote and drew the back-up in the 70th Anniversary comic that revisits some of Marvel's Golden Age characters. Kupperman does a hilarious short comic about Marvex the Super Robot, which is followed by a couple of Golden Age Marvex reprints (which are no less absurd than Kupperman's parody). Absolutley worth buying for the Kupperman comic alone, All Select also features a pretty neat Blonde Phantom story by Marc Guggenheim that is more like illustrated prose than a comic.

Captain America #601

This was amusingly called a very special issue of Captain America on the cover. It was very special because it is drawn by Gene Colan, but based on these first page panels, I thought it was because Bucky and Nick Fury were finally going to make out:

This issue is sure to be a hit with teen girls because it is jam packed with vampires. Man, as if WWII didn't suck enough, Cap had to fight vampires too?! There must have been times that he wished he didn't volunteer for the experimental super soldier serum.

Rasl #5

I was going to just buy the trades of this, but since the issues are only coming out three times a year I decided I couldn't wait that long. Rasl is awesome. And Jeff Smith seems to getting all of his years of writing PG comics worth of frustrations out by having the characters do it a lot in this series.

Nexus: Space Opera Conclusion

I'd say it's a rare week indeed when we get a new issue of Rasl AND a new issue of Nexus. Sadly, this is the end of the road for Nexus, at least for now. It started with a great first issue a couple of years ago...and then a reprint of Nexus's origin...and then the second issue...and then another reprint of the origin...and then a Manga-sized collection of the first issues of Nexus...and now this double issue that collects the final two issues of what has turned out to be a 4-part mini-series. Oh well. As per usual, this issue of Nexus is beautiful and fun.

Angel: After the Fall vol 4 HC

Aw man. Like it isn't embarassing enough for me to be buying these hardcovers, they go a slap this cover on the newest one. Gross. I could not get it in my shopping bag and away from judging eyes fast enough.

I haven't read this yet, I just want to point out how bad the cover is.

This Week's Haul: Too Many Kryptonians

I tried so hard to post every day this week, but I failed yesterday. I just can't find time to do anything anymore.

I did, however, get First Runner Up in The Coast's Best of Halifax reader's poll for Best Local Blog! So thanks to everyone who voted for me. I didn't even know that was a category this year!

I read a bunch of comics this week. Here's some of them:

Robin #168

The Ressurection of Ra's Al Ghul continues. I don't know why this is "Part 1 of 7" when there were two parts last week. Does that mean there are going to be 7 issues of Robin alone that tie into this thing?

So Damian isn't so into Ra's Al Ghul's plan to use his body as a host. So he hightails it to Wayne Manor to find his dad. Instead he runs into Robin, and Tim isn't happy to see him. They get into it.

Then Damian runs upstairs and finds Alfred, who is awesome. This is actually where I start to feel kinda bad for Damian. Maybe the kid isn't pure evil.

Oh, kid. How many times have I said that?

Tim wakes up after being knocked unconscious, and mistakes Damian helping Alfred up after he trips for Damian trying to kill Alfred. Oops!

Alfred totally tears a strip off of Tim. It's rad:

The comic ends with this exciting page:

Aw, man! Continued in Nightwing? I have to read Nightwing?! Sheesh. That's like "To Be Continued in Trigonometry Class." Boooooo.

Supergirl #23

Yet another creative team for Supergirl. I really like the art. I think the writing is good...but I had no idea what was happening in this issue. I read it twice. No idea.

But I still think the writing is good, because the characterization is good. And it kinda tied into Sinestro Corps, but not enough to put that on the cover.

It started off in Supergirl's apartment, which I thought was cool. She has a mysterious present on her coffee table. It's lead and soundproofed. She finally just decides to open it. This gets her a phone call from Batman.

And here is what Supergirl is good for: calling Batman on his creepy weirdness.

She's right, Batman. Who would actually tie a box up with a big pretty bow?

SG gets the call from Superman and soars into battle.

Overall, I think there's hope for this comic.

The All-New Atom #17

Oh man, this was great! Wonder Woman makes an appearance, giving us a taste of what's to come in Simone's upcoming run on WW. I'm excited.

Especially after this awesome Picoult dig:

Ha! You tell 'im, Diana!

She looks so dope on that motorcycle!

This issue gives us more of the Ryan/Giganta relationship, which, as it turns out, is still happening. Fantastic!

Short Guy/Tall Woman, Super Hero/Villain. I love it.

I also loved this misunderstanding:

What a great comic.

Justice League Unlimited #39

You put Batman and Elongated Man together, and you know you're going to have a good time. Throw Detective Chimp into the mix, and you have a party.

Also, as I've mentioned before, this is the only comic that completely ignores all the depressing continuity and offers month after month of fun stories about dead characters. I love it.

I mean, how can you not love this?

Batman feels the same way about Ralph's gross nose that I do. I'll add it to the list of things we could talk about on our date.

The ending of this comic was solid gold:

Metal Men #4

Another beautiful issue of Metal Men, which should win awards for the covers alone! This is going to make a gorgeous book when it's collected.

Just look at this crazy steam shovel that the Metal Men join together to build:

That's just awesome.

Gold and Lead have exchanged identities, and Lead (now Gold) is trying to cheer his friend up. It's pretty cute.

God, this comic is just so beautiful! I can't stand it!

Superman #670

The Third Kryptonian...again, a very confusing concept, considering there are five Kryptonians on the cover, none of which is the "Third Kryptonian."

I thought this was pretty neat:

Batman has the job of Fortress Keeper. He plays it like John Travolta in Get Shorty:

That is a suit that Superman designed and built. It is constructed to recognize Batman's biometric signature. So in love.

Actually, this comic did come dangerously close to Jeph Loeb-levels of Superman-crushing-on-Batman-through-obsessive-interior-monologues. Superman was thinking of him almost constantly throughout the issue.

So now the Third Kryptonian is gone. We hardly knew ye, What's-her-name!

If An Elongated Man Falls in the Forest...

So it's been, what, over six months since our beloved Ralph Dibny died? And has anyone mentioned him anywhere? Even in passing, like "Hey, have you seen Ralph Dibny?" "Nope."

Does anyone know that he is dead besides, like, Faust? If they do know, then where the hell is his funeral? Why is everyone all "Bart Allen...the greatest hero who ever lived. Ever." and not sending Dibny any love? Did he not die heroically? People are still talking about the tragedy that was the rape and eventual murder of Sue Dibny, but why doesn't Ralph's death matter? Elongated Man is a great character with a long proud history of solving mysteries in the grossest way possible. Didn't he have any friends? Didn't any of his fellow heroes, his Justice League teammates, respect him? Don't any of them wonder where he is? Or do they all assume that he killed himself and just don't want to talk about it. Everyone is out searching for Ray Palmer, the murderer-lover, but no one is even Google searching the whereabouts of Ralph.

So are there any plans for Ralph? Will anyone ever try to find out what happened to him? Will we see a series that has Ralph and Sue as ghosts who solve mysteries? Can Ted Kord be their sidekick? Can Ralph Dibny get a case in the Batcave?

I know that for the next long while everyone is going to be freaking out about the death (?) of Green Arrow (I hope Bart enjoyed his 15 minutes of posthumous fame because they are OVER, my friend). So I am guessing that we're not going to hear anything about Ralph for quite some time, if ever. But I have been waiting for over 6 months for word on my favourite stretchy sleuth and all I've gotten is that panel in a recent issue of Countdown that shows us his corpse, rotting where he fell dead. That's just depressing. [EDIT: Actually, it was an issue of Black Adam].

Oh, the fallen sons of DC. Is it possible for me to manipulate an image in Photoshop that is stirring enough to convey the sorrow I feel?

The answer is YES.

Perhaps some sort of rubber bracelet campaign is in order. It would certainly be fitting. Maybe purple ones that say "Whither Dibny?" on them. Or "He Died As He Lived...Stretched To Disgusting Lengths."

Review of an Heroic Nadir, By Johnathan

Man, do I love the Atom. All five of them, from little 40s tough-guy All Pratt to current Atom Ryan Choi's friend Panda (Atom V as of last week or so). My absolute fave, however, is Ray "Totally Missing" Palmer, the man who forever quashed all cries of "Shrinking is a crappy superpower!" Seriously, read Showcase Presents: The Atom or any incarnation of the Justice League that has the good sense to have ol' Ray - you will see a tiny man kicking ass. Could Batman disarm someone by jumping onto the end of their gun? Well, probably, but it wouldn't be as cool as when Ray does it.

But that was Ray at the height of his coolness. This review is focussed on another time, a dark time. No, not the 'ex-wife is a murderous, insane super-villain' time, as that is just standard hero stuff. Instead, we're looking at the time that comic book writers thought that Ray had absolutely no life.

The preceding page is perhaps the saddest I've ever read. Not in a 'Death of Superman' kind of way or a 'Black Adam murders an entire damned country and by the way why isn't the whole DC Universe out looking for him, seriously, like Mary Marvel didn't even mention that he killed millions of people when they ran into each other. He'd better not ever get redeemed, I mean really - it'd be like having Hitler on the Justice Society' kind of way, but in a 'the writer went a bit too far in making the hero look like a regular Joe' kind of way. Let's break it down:

Okay: Ray Palmer is devoted to his (awful, murderous) wife. I guess I can respect that. She's out of town and he's lonely.

See, now this is where things start to fall apart. Ray's wife (killed Sue Dibny, killed Robin's dad, killed Captain Boomerang) is out of town and he's so bored. He has nothing to do without his wife (slept with the Spectre, tried to sleep with Mary Marvel) around. He certainly doesn't have any friends, and especially not super friends.

Personally, I think that the artist just wanted to draw this shrinky/growy leapy thing and so they had to think up an excuse. I just wish that it could have been a better one than 'Jean's out of town and Batman didn't feel like going out for nachos.' Doesn't the Atom travel through time on a regular basis? instead of hopping around, he could be stealing George Washington's teeth or something.

... that's the saddest thing that I've ever read in a thought balloon. Seriously. It's like something that an elderly shut-in would think. Ray, dude, I'm certain that Green Arrow or someone would like to hang out with you. Or you could watch TV. Just... just don't make me cry on my Action Comics.


Almost forgot: I'm going to try to post something every night this week. Tune in, kids! Watch me fail!

Review of Showcase Presents, By Johnathan

Showcase Presents has lately been presenting some pretty awesome stuff, in the form of 500+ page reprints featuring comics of the 60s and 70s and I've been doing my part by buying a whole lot of them. It's time, I think, to pony up some reviews.

Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man

This was the first of these black-and-white beauties to cross my path and I was pretty glad that it had. It featured Ralph Dibny's start as a rival/partner to the Flash, followed by his marriage to Sue Dearborn and their subsequent travels around the world. Ralph's a very atypical 60s DC hero in that his identity is known to the world (and in that he's married instead of being in an extended engagement or flirtation). He and Sue encounter all manner of mysteries while being socialites, some of which are quite charming. Ralph also hits people with a disturbing array of pliable body parts. These early stories are a great illustration of the fact that even though the Elongated Man may have the same power as Mr. Fantastic or Plastic Man, the way that he uses it is all his own.


Showcase Presents: Superman Volumes 1 and 2

This is some pretty great Silver age ridiculousness right here. You've got Superman obsessing over his secret identity, kryptonite simply everywhere, more mermaids than you can shake a stick at, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Clark Kent looking like Steven Colbert and plenty of aliens. Plus Volume 1 was one of the first of these bad boys out and so only cost $9.99.


Showcase Presents: Superman Family

This reads pretty similarly to just plain Superman, only with more Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy: a) has lots of different jobs. b) foils lots of gangsters. c) occasionally betrays/ is betrayed by Superman for dramatic effect. d) frequently develops superpowers - in one of the coolest stories he uses some of Superman's trophies to put together a super-powered crime fighting suit, then develops a 'best-buddies' relationship with a paper boy (who collects souvenirs of his exploits and summons him via a signal-pen).


Showcase Presents: Green Lantern

Another $9.99 wonder. With this one I got an interesting look at just how different comic book series used to be from one another. The Elongated Man dealt with really intimate little mysteries, while Superman lived in a world that hovered between soft sci-fi and fantasy, genre-wise. Green Lantern was by no means hard sci-fi but it drew from some of its conventions (and of those of the classic space opera) to create a comic that took itself a bit more seriously. Some good, solid, fun comic yarns here.

Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold

Bob Haney writes Batman and guest. This was a terrific read, with lots of Haney lunacy. The guests included Metamorpho (good), Plastic Man (dismal), The Metal Men (terrific - everyone goes to a robot convention) and Deadman (two times!). The best issue involved Batman having Wonder Woman and Batgirl pretend to fall in love with him as part of a plat to catch Copperhead, then when the time came to nab him they really had, such is the power of the Bat-charisma. Copperhead escaped in the kerfuffle, but was nabbed later on. Duh.


Showcase Presents: Justice League of America, Volumes 1 and 2

Good solid Silver Age fun. The JLA whomp some aliens, Starro the Conquerer, more aliens, Dr. Light, and some aliens. Snapper Carr is surprisingly endearing, J'onn J'onzz is surprisingly pudgy. He also tends to use his "Martian Breath" almost to the exclusion of all of his many other powers, possibly to distinguish him from Superman.


Showcase Presents: Teen Titans

Another Bob Haney masterwork, featuring the sidekicks of various Justice League members. The Titans answer calls for help from teenagers across the world and so end up dealing with giant monsters, inter-dimensional invasions and submarine pirates. Also notable is Haney's mastery of contemporary slang (assuming that sixties-teens used 'fab', 'ginchy' and 'gear' in every other sentence) and creative use of nicknames (Kid Flash = 'Twinkletoes', Aqualad = 'Gill Head', Wonder Girl = 'Wonder Chick'). All this and the Mad Mod!


Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes

My thoughts on this topic are already known.


Showcase Presents: Metamorpho the Element Man

Bob Haney strikes again! This time out he's penning the adventures of Rex Mason, whose brush with an ancient meteor/artifact gives him a hideous appearance and the ability to change into any element found in the human body. This one's got great art, as well as my favourite Silver Age supporting cast: Simon Stagg, Rex's boss, famous scientist and so close to being a super-villain that his private security forces dress like Cobra Commander; his daughter Sapphire Stagg, Rex's fiance; Java, a formerly-frozen Neanderthal given a modern brain by Stagg - Java's in love with Sapphire and occasionally tries to bump Metamorpho off but is a colossal coward and so never succeeds; and Urania Blackwell, the Element Girl, Metamorpho's female counterpart. One sad thing: Metamorpho, like Aztek, had his comic canceled before its time and so you'll never learn just who it was that was plotting against the Element Man toward the end of his series.


Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger

I'm still reading this one, but so far it's great. The basic format involves a supernatural setup, followed by the appearance of both the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Thirteen, the Ghost-Breaker to lend a hand. The two squabble over the existence of the supernatural, then tell stories to illustrate their points. Then they solve the mystery. At the end of the story the Phantom Stranger disappears, which really ticks off Dr. Thirteen, and it seems to be cumulative, because in the last story I read he pretty much just punched the Phantom Stranger in the face as soon as he showed up. Also notable: four teenagers keep showing up and their names are Spartacus, Attila, Wild Rose and Mister Square.


Well, that's it for now. I'll almost certainly be getting more of these things and when I do I'll write about it on the Internet. I'm so cool.