1. It was totally awesome and everyone should read it.
2. Two of the Continuiteens, who are comic shop employees, look exactly like my comic shop co-workers/pals, Dave and Tiina. Check it:
So we can't decide if the creative team of X-Men First Class are watching us at all times, or if Dave and Tiina just look exactly like comic shop employee stereotypes. Either way, we all felt uncomfortable at the shop yesterday.
I had totally planned a triumphant return to reviewing weekly comics this week, but frankly the complete and utter confusion I felt after reading the last issue of Countdown and the last issue of The Death of the New Gods left me exhausted. It took me three tries to get through the New Gods because I kept getting sleepy and bored.
But there were very good comics this week. I highly recommend, besides X-Men First Class, The Hulk vs Hercules one-shot dealie, Wolverine First Class, The Spirit, and Birds of Prey. Sadly, it's the last McKeever issue of Birds of Prey, but Tony Bedard will also be good.
I've been cranky about comics lately because they are canceling some of my favourites (Catwoman, The All-New Atom) but will no doubt be putting out endless Final Crisis tie-ins or Countdown aftermath whatnots that are total nonsense and completely boring. I'm sure a lot of it will be great, but there will definitely be a lot of stuff that does not hold a candle to even the least good issues of Catwoman or The Atom. Blah. When I am able to get my thoughts together I'm sure I will have a whole long post about all the reasons why it sucks that Catwoman is canceled.
Hooray!It's the end of the Supplement to the Addendum to the Review of the Legion of Super-Heroes! Let's do it!
As might be becoming apparent, I quite liked these late additions to the Legion. They represented a conscious effort on various writer's parts to inject some new life into a group that had become fairly static, member-wise, at about the time Jim Shooter stopped writing stories. I mean, this is a team that had 24 members within its first ten years and then admitted 13 more in the next two decades or so - and four of those new members (White Witch, Timber Wolf, Chemical King, Polar Boy) had appeared in that first decade, while a fifth - Invisible Kid - was basically a sequel to one of the original 24. Tellus and Quislet were pretty much the only non-humanoids in the first iteration of the Legion. I mean, Tellus is still pretty humanoid, but at least he has a fish face and a tail and little stunted legs instead of being a Klingon-style "guy with some sort of extra crap on his head" alien. I always figured that he was based on this one ocean-dwelling telepathic mutant that teamed up with the Legion to fight excessively Mod aliens this one time, which is nice because I liked that story.
Sadly for people like me who like the new members, they've suffered significant attrition as a result of 'New Writer's Syndrome' which is a condition that I made up to describe the tendency of someone taking over the writing chores on a comic book to gleefully slaughter any members of the supporting cast that were introduced by the old writer (this is why I am so concerned for the Head now that Gail Simone has left The All-New Atom), whether for cheap dramatic effect or because the new writer just doesn't like 'em. The Legion is especially vulnerable on this front, for a couple of reasons: firstly, because that 'original 24' I mentioned has been established as the canon Legion and are basically there to stay (barring the occasional dramatic event), and secondly because in a team book - especially one in which the team members don't have solo super-careers - everyone is supporting cast. In essence, this means that everyone who joined the Legion after Princess Projectra and Karate Kid (non-inclusive, I guess) is fair game for ignoble death, mutilation and non-inclusion in reboots. I haven't read the Legion comic in which Tellus was killed off - heck, I don't know for sure that he does die - but I'm not holding my breath.
Anyway, aside from making the Legion seem less like a Humans and Humanoids Only Club, Tellus filled much the same role as Blok: philosophical outsider who didn't quite "get" what was up with those crazy humans. Nothing new, really, though Tellus has the added element of attracting a fairly incessant stream of racist commentary from Wildfire on the subject of Tellus being a useless fish-asshole. The Legion does not, it seems, have much concern for cultural or species-related sensitivity, or perhaps were reluctant to embark on the logistically nightmarish task of trying to throw a guy made of antimatter out of a building. Tellus' powers (not shown, boo) of sub-Saturn Girl-level telepathy and telekinesis were useful, plus it was always fun to see him zoom through the air with is little legs trailing behind him. I also liked the fact that his given name (Ganglios) would be a great moniker for a brain-based super-villain (as opposed to fish-based super-hero) to sport, though this name-related joy is dampened by the fact that his super-hero name is one letter away from being shared by a most irritating telephone company.
Bah. Over all, I like Tellus, but for me he's kind of become symbolic of misused Legion characters, and so I get grumpy when I think about him too much.
The White Witch is a venerable character - she first appeared way back in (issue), during that whole escapade with Evillo and his mythic crew. She was there as the Hag, a cackly old witch of the Hansel and Grethel sort, and eventually her dear sister Dream Girl arranged to change her back. Subsequently, she turned up now and then when the Legion had some sort of magical trouble and Brainiac 5 was going into a Batman-as-willful-idiot fugue state ("Nope, I categorically deny the existence of magic. It's completely impossible that it exists. Laughable, really, why... hold on, Zauriel, I have the Spectre on the other line."). Eventually, she got mixed in with the whole Mordru/Sorcerer's World shebaz and I think that it was as a result of one of the LSH's interminable battles with The Poorly-Dressed Sorcerer that Mysa finally joined up, some twenty-odd years after her introduction. She was originally a sultry redhead, but I'm pretty fond of the pale n' wispy redesign, shown here, and especially of the eyelash-antennae, which are tied in to this neat theme of magic in Legion continuity - the better you are at it, the weirder-looking you get. There are all these wizards and witches on Sorcerer's world made of water and plants and such, Mysa's all pale and antennaed and Mordru's outfit is magically awful (seriously, I think that there are flashbacks to when he was less evil/powerful in which his helmet isn't as gaudy and the wings are smaller).
The White Witch was a fun addition to a team of bickering egoists, which was kind of what the Legion was at the time. She was thoughtful and spiritual rather than argumentative and moody, plus she palled around with Blok a lot. She also added a lot of power and versatility to the team: though her magic operated under D&D rules (lots of studying, only so many spells in her head at one time, once a spell is cast it's gone) she was pretty good at improvising with what she had on hand spell-wise to keep her more hapless teammates alive.
As for the picture: it's a very good rendering of the White Witch costume, though I don't know what the hell she's doing. This is further evidence, though, that Polar Boy should be making a snowflake in his picture - together with Element Lad and the White Witch, they'd have a theme going!
(and just because she's not a comic nerd and thus it's noteworthy, she's also JOHN'S GIRLFRIEND ANN APPROVED)
Once again, these reviews are ridiculously late. I have my stupid financial accounting exam tomorrow night, and then I'm free until January 7th! Sweeeeet!
Countdown Week 21
Trickster is still dead and Piper is still sad. So am I.
And the Lord sayeth to Monarch "Build an arena 300 cubits by 300 cubits, and bring into the arena three of every superhero. Preferably you will choose the most ridiculous of each superhero. And make them fight to the death, for I am bored."
This, folks, is the definition of entertainment for the lowest common denominator.
It's just generally not fun or interesting. And it's full of really awkward jokes.
I actually totally adored this issue. I loved every panel. Like this one:
But please don't let The Head be dead!
Everyone is talking about Skrulls over in The New Avengers, but in The Initiative we're seeing some honest-to-God Skrulls. And some great back stories for all the main characters.
The most awesome thing about this comic is the Mini Marvels comic at the back.
Please note Daredevil in the upper right corner of this panel:
It was really awesome, though. And the art was fantastic!
Totally Evil Guy: "I can bring your loved ones back from the dead, all you have to do is whatever crazy thing I say!"
Noble Hero: "Really?"
Totally Evil Guy: "Yup. For reals."
Usually Very Intelligent Hero: "Well...alright then."
Other Hero(es) Present: "You probably shouldn't listen to that guy. He's evil."
Disappointing Hero: "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! WHY SHOULD I BE ALLOWED TO LIVE WHEN MY PARENTS/SISTER/GIRLFRIEND/SIDEKICK/BROTHER/BEST FRIEND/UNCLE BEN IS DEAD?!"
Other Hero(es): "Yeah, that sucks...but the thing is, you're probably just going to die, and then the evil guy won't actually bring back your loved ones. I mean, why would he?"
Dumb Hero: "Screw you! I'm doing it!"
Comic: TO BE CONTINUED!
A while back I did a mass-review of all of the Showcase Presents books that I had purchased. Well, I just keep on buying those things - due to my overpowering weakness for the Silver Age - and so it's time for more of that.
Showcase Presents: Adam Strange
All of the old stories about Adam Strange getting zapped to Rann via Zeta Beam so that he can kick alien ass and score with alien ladies (well, lady). I'm pretty fond of the little pre-adventure that Adam always gets into whilst getting his ass to the site of the incoming beam. Also fun: the sheer amount of trouble that the Rannians get themselves into ("Adam Strange! In the month that you were away we were conquered by robots! Again!"). Finally, a true statement: Adam Strange has the best helmet in comics.
Showcase Presents: The Atom
Good fun. Ray Palmer gets into all sorts of scraps as a tiny man. Like Green Lantern, this comic made an attempt to pass itself off as hard science fiction, with plenty of super-scientific explanations for stuff like shrinking physicists, but readily flew off on crazy tangential plotlines to keep things interesting. The three basic plots of a Silver Age Atom story: 1) Ray Palmer shrinks in order to help his main squeeze Jean "will be evil someday" Loring solve a case so that she can become a successful lawyer and prove herself and then quit the law and marry Ray. 2) Ray Palmer encounters something weird whilst going about his daily business; shrinks. 3) Ray Palmer shrinks and travels into the past via his scientist pal's Time Hole. While in the past he fights injustice with a passion that makes lovers of causality cringe. Take that, historical figures! Take that, history!
Showcase Presents: Batman, Volume 2
Rachelle gave me this one for my birthday, whilst simultaneously foiling my plot to borrow Volume 1 from her by lending it to every other person in Halifax (this is a lie. It was just lent to Tiina [the Tea Devil]). I don't know if the first volume was a great as this, but I hope so. Featured were both the first appearance of the original Blockbuster, with his hatred for Batman yet love for Bruce Wayne, and the crazy-great saga of the Outsider. The Outsider, for those of you who have avoided 30 or 40 years of spoilers, was actually Batman's butler Alfred, who everyone thought was dead but who was only mostly dead and who was turned into a lumpy psychic monster by a well-meaning scientist. Ever since I read about this fantastic mishmash in Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Supervillains I wanted very much to read it, what with Robin getting turned into a coffin and all, so thanks again, Rachelle!
Showcase Presents: The Flash
Good solid Silver Age tomfoolery. Nothing other that the extremely unlikely origin of Kid Flash really sticks out in my memory, but rest assured that it's full of crazy crimes and stupid plots and all of the rest of the good stuff. I grew up with Wally West as the Flash, but i gotta say that Barry Allen was a helluva character.
Showcase Presents: Green Arrow
A lot of the comics that are collected in this one are actually from the late 50s, so they have a really neat feel to them, like the Batman comics of the same era. You can almost see the Comics Code symbol hovering over every character's shoulder, watching; judging. Anyway, Green Arrow and Speedy fight the crime and drive around in a great car (it launches them with catapults!) and meet at least two clowns who use wacky clown arrows to make folks laugh and then to fight crime in a crazy clown fashion. Plus, remember the Batmen of All Nations? Green Arrow has some too! Dudes from all over the world show up for a convention in his honour and bring their lava arrows and so forth - it's a hoot!
Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter
Haven't finished this one yet, but I'll tell you what my favourite thing about it is: that J'onn J'onzz isn't really a super-hero in his first batch of adventures, he's just a detective who happens to be an alien and have all kinds of crazy powers. I really wish that someone nowadays would write some comics focusing on that aspect of the Manhunter's personality. It seems like all of the J'onzz character development lately has had the effect of making him really alienated (ha!) from humanity, while in those early stories he had a whole lot of charm. I don't know. I just want a comic about a hard-boiled private eye who can turn invisible and is scared of fire and sometimes has a hound dog to hang out with. Oh! Also, his brother T'omm J'onzz shows up at one point!
Showcase Presents: Shazam!
This one's a lot of fun. They got C.C. Beck, the original artist for the character, to draw the DC comics revival, so everything looks fantastic. The stories are a bit child-oriented and entirely insane - my favourite character was Sunny Sparkle, the Nicest Kid in the World, who has it really tough because everyone loves him so much at first sight that they give him ridiculous and extravagant presents (and apparently name ponies after him). He just keeps donating the stuff to charity and declaring that he'll become a hermit when he grows up. I think that Sunny Sparkle Come Down Off the Mountain, with a tangled beard and a crazed look in his eyes and hordes of glassy-eyed, gift-bearing acolytes, is number 3 on my list of "characters that I wish would make an appearance in DC continuity", right after Carbon Monoxide Gangster and Parade Hater Horace. As for Shazam!, it's pretty great but it peters out at the end as the series hits hard times, but not before Dr Sivana goes on a crazy crime-spree road trip and Billy Batson and Uncle Dudley have to hop in their camper van and chase him all over the country. Whee!
Showcase Presents: World's Finest
I just got this one today, so I haven't read much of it, but what I have taken in is fantastic. Silver Age Batman and his pal Superman were each at least as concerned with keeping their secret identities safe as they were with, say, fighting crime, so when they got together all bets were off. Rachelle did a pretty great post about one of the messed-up adventures that resulted from this here. It's all Batman dressing up like Superman and then pretending to be Clark Kent while Superman's dressed up like Batman and also being Clark Kent and all to mess with Lois Lane's head... it's almost Shakespearian at times. Plus Superman and Batman are one of the most fun BFF pairs in comics, even without considering the subtextual homoeroticism - that's the icing on the cake!
I totally asked for many more of these things for Christmas, so there's certainly going to be more of these reviews, yay.