Well, Dang

My post for today just completely fell apart on me and I don't have time to work up another, so you're just going to have to content yourself with this image, deemed by myself, and esteemed Batmanologist (the esteeming is also self-generated) to be one of the greatest costumes ever worn in Gotham City. From Batman No. 234:

She only made a one-panel appearance and her only role in the story was to be threatened by a clown while riding around on a hot dog float, but Mustard-Hat Lady has found a place in my heart. I like to envision some fairly unlikely alternate universe in which she defeats the clowns on her own and joins the Batman Family in their never-ending vigilante crusade. I'll bet that Condiment King gets a bit more respect in that universe, too.

Hat Week: The Hats of Romance Comics Explained

Hats and head-wear play an important role in romance comics. By studying the trends of the era, and using hats as signifyers we can gain understanding about social norms and the political climate in romance comics.

In other words, let's look at the crazy crap people put on their heads in the Silver Age.

Head wraps were a popular look that seems to have pretty much died out. I like it. It'd be cool to just wrap a towel around your head after you get out of the shower and not have to worry about blow-drying or flat-ironing or curling your hair.

The head wrap diminished in popularity when girls began to discover that having so much warmth around their heads affected their brains, sometimes turning them violent.

The swim cap is another obsolete head piece you'll see a lot of in romance comics.

I understand the practicality of it: you can go for a swim, but still have your hairdo looking fine when you're relaxing on the beach afterward.

But to me, those swim-hats seem to make a girl look like ol' Cabbage Head.

Men's hats are often a subtle indication of their personalities, or their likes and dislikes.

Most pervasive head-piece of the Silver Age? The headband, hands down. But there are distinct differences between the types of headbands, and the way they're worn.

There's the evening headband:

A girl's got to wear a bow to bed, in case Dennis (or Arthur or Tommy) show up in the middle of the night.

The basic headband, worn across the top of the head, is incredibly common, and indicates an average, demure, chaste girl.

But flip that thing down, and wear it across your forehead, and oh boy. That's the way hippies wear headbands, so a girl rocking that style is in for crazy, European sex parties:

And getting caught up in dangerous revolutionary politics:

Wear a headband across your forehead and you'll undoubtedly find yourself in a situation like this:

Lastly, romance comics have lead me to believe that there was some sort of baldness epidemic in the Silver Age because wig ads are everywhere.

Wigs are the hats of yesteryear. I wish I could find a hat with a built in scalp that looks like skin.

But even wigs could lead a good girl down the bad path of political rabble-rousing.

So if you're having trouble following the complex plot of an issue of Teen Age Love, Sweethearts, or Secrets of Young Brides, take a look at head-wear, and that'll clear everything right up.


John Buys Comics, Puts on Special Reviewing Hat

With special theme-week-appropriate rating system!

First Wave No. 1 (of 6)

Oh, what a rollercoaster ride this has been.

The First Wave special earlier this year, as I recall, was fun and I gave it a tentative pass. A melding of the DCU and a pulp-style setting has a hell of a lot of potential, after all. Then we had two separate waves of Post-It Previews, which are just the sort of thing to poison my mind against a project (“Brian, Just read your background material on the Blackhawks. Loved it but am concerned that it is too awesome and may blow everyone’s minds way too hard. - Dan”), so by the time this actually came out I was primed to loathe it. Hell, I almost didn’t buy it, that’s how grumpy I was about the whole thing. Happily, the quality levels of the marketing and the actual book were not at all comparable. In short: I liked this book, despite all odds.

Okay, that was a falsehood. When you have a book that features the Spirit AND Doc Savage AND a version of Batman who is also kind of the Shadow, you’re kind of starting off with me as your target audience. If you go ahead and write it really well, then you’ve got a good chance at keeping my attention, and so it’s a good thing for Brian Azzarello that he did just that. First Wave doesn’t really read like a pulp novel - a good thing, because I don’t know that it’s a writing style that would translate very well - but like some of the latter day attempts to write adventures in pulp-style worlds. Uh, by which I mean it’s a lot of fun, like most such projects are. Plus you’ve got Rags Morales knocking the art out of the park, plus there’s what I suspect to be a robot with a human brain on page four. So, yeah: four out of five hats:

Sparta: USA No. 1

Man, what is it with Wildstorm lately? Every time something like Mysterius the Unfathomable or North 40 ends, another series that scratches the same sort of itch appears. I’d like it even more if two or three of those sort of series would run at the same time, but I’ll take what I can get (the itch, by the way, is for a series that is well-written, well-drawn, has an interesting mystery at its core and is full of supernatural or science-fictiony weirdness. Hey, The Unwritten is an ongoing that fits that description, isn’t it? I’m so lucky).

The preview for this book last week was the best teaser for a comic book I’ve seen in a long time. It starts out as a description of a small American town and got just weird enough to intrigue: the folks have just a bit too much civic pride. They like football just a bit too much. There’s a hint of menace here and there, where there shouldn’t be, and then at the end there’s mention of a yeti. Five pages and DC had made a sale, though as it was just the first five pages of the comic I guess I should credit David Lapham and Johnny Timmons more than anyone.

This is the sort of comic that I form a deep attachment to on first read - I know that all of the weirdness associated with the town of Sparta will be explained in good time an am pretty sure that the process is going to be joyful. Five hats.

Age of Reptiles: The Journey No. 3 (of 4)

Richard Delgado has a bit at the end of these issue where he talks about falling in love with dinosaurs as a kid, and this issue focuses on how fascinated he was with the dinosaur paintings of Charles R. Knight. That’s precisely right - this series even more than the prior [Age of Reptiles] books feels like a study of a collection of actual animals, just like all of the pictures that I used to pore over in my dino books. The storytelling on the cover alone just sucked me in for a couple of minutes, for heaven’s sake. I’ll be getting a copy of this for my nephew, once I’m sure that he’s past book-destroying age. Five hats.

Nemesis: the Impostors No. 1 (of 4) - Though RUN! was the most viscerally pleasing of the Final Crisis Aftermath series, I reckon that Escape was the best book over all. It did, however, leave a huge number of questions hanging in the air. Will this series clear anything up? Let’s decide in a SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT. In the meantime: three hats, the hat-equivalent of one eyebrow raised expectantly.

Adventure No. 8 - Okay: the first issue of Adventure under a new creative team without crossover bullshit to contend with! How’d they do? Let’s see… Legion of Super-Heroes stuff: good times. Legion Espionage Squad, Mon-El and Superboy stuff: also good times, and the first two parts look like they’ll come together into a Brainiac beat-down in good order. General Sam Lane and Project 7734? HAS TO END. SO BORING. SNORE.

I guess that makes this issue two-thirds good, which I’ll say is three hats.

Astro City: Dark Age Book Four No. 2 - Astro City books get five hats even when I’m not using a hat-based rating system, that’s how much I love them. And this issue features Las Vegas’ super-hero, who is named Mirage and has neon sign powers. I weren’t so lazy I’d make another graphic and give this book six hats.

Sweet Tooth No 7 - Okay, next issue has got to be the one where Sweet Tooth wakes up and he’s still with Mr. Jessup and then Mr. Jessup teaches him to play hockey. And then a kitten. Four tear-stained hats.

*doffs hat* Good night everybody!