web stats

CSBG Archive

Sunday Brunch: 4/11/10

This week, I share some links to cool comic things and ramble on for far too long about Doctor Who. So, you know, an average Sunday.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What emotion-that-is-not-really-an-emotion should become a power ring next, and what color would it be?

BRAVE AND THE BOLD DEPT: “Chill of the Night!” Written by Paul Dini

Paul Dini’s name brings up a certain set of expectations, especially when it’s a Batman cartoon. Naturally, the teaser involves Zatanna, because, well, it’s Dini. More than that, however, the episode evokes the tone and atmosphere of the Dini-and-Timm-led Batman animated series from the 90s. The plot involves the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre making a wager over Batman’s soul, as to whether he will serve justice or vengeance. To figure it out, they transport him back in time to meet his parents and solve their murder. As you can imagine, this episode gets pretty dark at times (and retcons that terrifying Christmas episode, I think), with Batman crossing over into full-on “I am vengeance, I am the night” mode, contrary to the general Silver Age appearance of the show, as seen in the climax, with the gathering of gloriously retro-looking bad guys. Dini even pays homage to that ages-old story of Joe Chill bragging about creating Batman and paying the price for it. In the end, of course, Batman (unmasked for the first time in this series) throws his lot in with justice. He’s a level-headed dude, that Batman.

The cast for this episode is the real draw, however; it’s like old home week! Kevin Conroy returns to voice the Phantom Stranger, and this time he’s joined by Adam West and Julie Newmar as Thomas and Martha Wayne, and Richard Moll (Two-Face in the 90s show), not only reprising his role for a Two-Face line, but also playing the mob boss that sets the pivotal murders into motion. Here in Dini’s story, three generations of Batman combine to further the current portrayal, and it makes for a great episode.

ITEM! I don’t usually link to things on the CBR frontpage, because I like to assume everyone reading this blog is a CBR regular, but apparently that’s not true. Even if it was, I would link to this recap of WonderCon’s Darwyn Cooke panel anyway. Cooke refuses to compromise his creative vision, something I wish more comic creators could get away with:

When [Batman: Ego] was finally released in 2000, DC’s editor Mark Chiarello asked for a proposal for a follow-up, which eventually became 2003′s award-winning “DC: The New Frontier,” a project that Cooke almost walked away from when Dan Didio suggested updating the setting to the modern day (“It should be easy to do,” Cooke paraphrased Didio as saying, “Space capsule, space shuttle…”). To a somewhat surprised audience, Cooke said that he told Didio that he’d rather walk away from the project altogether than update it. Two days after walking away from the project, Didio relented on the period setting, and Cooke began work. “There’s nothing heroic about it,” he said. “I was just old enough to know I was going to get hosed if I let these guys drive my bus.”

ITEM! Shaun Huston at PopMatters writes a fun article on comics in libraries, and I, about a month away from my Master’s degree in Library Science, find this interesting. Comics in libraries is one of my missions! Hell, a special library with nothing but comics is a wet dream. Er, anyway:

One issue that librarians addressed was fear: fear of patron reaction to a growing collection of comics at their library. Everything bad that people think about comics—that they expose kids to sex and violence and freaks, that they keep kids from learning to reading ‘real’ books, that they are junk food for the brain—becomes a potential protest to their inclusion on the shelves. Not only do librarians need to be prepared to answer such objections, but those who see a place for comics in the library need to address the fears held by some of their colleagues.

ITEM! Looks like it’s Batman week over at DC’s Source blog, with an in-depth behind-the-scenes on the current Batman & Robin series, with notes from Grant Morrison and loads of sketches from Morrison and Quitely. Here are parts one, two, three, and four:

B&R sketch

In his notes for the cover of issue 3, Morrison says:

In a wonderfully Beatles-esque moment, this cover became the subject of frenzied conspiracy theory and fan interpretation when a reader, for unimaginable reasons of his own – perhaps goaded by Professor Pyg’s obsession with upside-down-ness – rotated it through 180° only to find an eerie ghost of this famous image, as drawn by Brian Bolland in his and Alan Moore’s graphic novel BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE.

I’m sad to say that none of this was planned, but the undeniable apparition of a faceless face – a mask and a personality made of vertiginous space and scraps of meaning, all spiraling down into the ineluctable singularity of a Batman right hook – was so absolutely emblematic of the Joker that it surely had to be the work of some Cosmic Trickster.

There’s your Comic Book Legend, sorted.

ITEM! Tom Brevoort digs a twenty-year-old Young Avengers pitch out of his drawers (er, his desk, not his trousers). The creative team– I hope you’re sitting down for this– is none other than Jim Valentino and Rob Liefeld.

ITEM! Over at ComicsAlliance, Chris Sims recaps Blackest Night in 60 seconds, with his astonishing crayon skills:

BN60

ITEM! Hey, here’s something I haven’t mentioned yet in the post– Batman! Johnny Bacardi points us to some groovy pages from a recent Batman: Brave and the Bold comic that top anything the TV show has brought us. That’s right– Super-Hip and Brother Power, the Geek versus the Mad Mod! Sholly Fisch, you win the internet.

Brave and the Batusi

ITEM! Project Rooftop raged against the dying of the light by launching a Batwoman Week in the face of Greg Rucka removing himself from the project. Here’s Evan Shaner’s version:

Shaner's Batwoman

REMAKE/REMODEL/REMIX: Warren Ellis’ Whitechapel challenge this week involved transporting the X-Men into Ellis’ own Freakangels universe. This one seemed particularly challenging to the regular gallery of artists, but Felipe Sobreiro and Alberto Silva knocked theirs out of the park (click to enlarge):

Freax 1Freax 2

Extra cool points (remember those?) for use of Doop.

DOCTOR WHO DEPT: “The Beast Below” Written by Steven Moffat

Who Smiler

Doctor Who has been around for a little over 46 years now, and in that way, we could suitably compare its run to, say, comic books! It’s a run comparable to the Marvel Universe (although it’s not like Marvel stopped publishing Spider-Man for 16 years, but let’s gloss over that), and has built up a thick barrier reef of continuity over the years, as well as a hardcore fan base. Ah, yes; fans, the best and worst of any piece of popular culture. Put two fans of anything in a room, and in five minutes they’ll either become the best of friends, or they’ll turn feral and rip each other’s throats out. Doctor Who fandom, like that of comics, is filled with people who are never happy, trapped in some bizarre loveless marriage with a television show they used to adore, but now cannot escape from. Like certain comics readers, these fans yearn for the day when Doctor Who was good, and by “good,” they mean “when I was ten,” or whichever age they were when they first discovered and fell in love with the thing. If we do the math, well, the percentages surely indicate that Tom Baker is the proper Doctor, and the more Tom Baker-y something is, the better.

Back in the days of old-school Who, the show didn’t have a terrific budget; many fans will gleefully tell you of wobbly sets and monsters made out of tinfoil and bubble-wrap. Yes, those things happened on occasion, but it wasn’t that bad. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and suddenly Doctor Who was one of the most expensive shows on British television (I’m totally assuming this, but let’s be honest; what, aside from maybe Top Gear, could possibly cost more?). However, the new season has suffered some budget cuts, so we’re told, and it no longer looks as glamorous. I don’t want to say it looks cheap, because I’m certain it isn’t. Maybe it’s the lighting, or the cinematography– it looks more like the last season of Sarah Jane Adventures (with some Twilight thrown in) than the last season of Doctor Who (for the record, I quite like the Sarah Jane Adventures).  In fact, it all looks a bit Tom Baker. I’m sure the fans are happy (that is a lie. I am sure they’re pissed off about something).

Baker is certainly an eccentric, and brought all of that to the fore whilst playing the Doctor. Matt Smith seems to do the same, though I am uncertain how much eccentricity is acting, and how much derives from the man himself (fans are comparing this episode with Baker’s second story, “The Ark in Space”). Someone in the comments section of i09 this week said that from certain angles, Matt Smith looks handsome, and from others, he looks like a brick in a wig. Certainly, he seems to look different depending on how the camera’s pointing at him, and this, combined with his bizarre mannerisms, make him an inspired casting choice for the Doctor. His is a Doctor who (see what I did there?) thinks so fast that even he can’t keep up with himself, who looks at the universe like a dizzy, wide-eyed tourist, but who is far, far more than the sum of his parts. I’m going to enjoy watching his Doctor develop.

Right, then. The episode. Typical Who business: it’s the future, the United Kingdom is now floating in space, and the Doctor discovers a dark secret, involving the titular beast, the monarchy, and the dreaded Smilers– that’s one in the picture there– who are unfortunately underdeveloped. Moffat maintains his fairy-tale-crossed-with-sci-fi direction; in his scripts, children are immensely important, because Moffat strongly believes in the show as a children’s show. This year, it feels more like a kids’ show than it has since it returned in 2005, though Moffat makes sure to write for very smart children, as well as the children living in the bodies of adults.

Last week, Andrew Hickey complained that modern Who had lost all the morality of old Who. This week, the Doctor is faced with a hefty moral choice, and chooses what he feels is the least worst option. I maintain that “choice” is one of the three major themes of Doctor Who (what are the other two? Tune in next week, maybe!), and the entire thematic underpinning of this episode relies on that choice, and, specifically, the morality of the choices the characters make. There’s a strong political tone, as well, dealing with bad things done by the government, and the complacency of the populace. So that’s interesting.

NOT COMICS DEPT: I about peed my pants with pure joy when a friend sent me the link to… 8-Bit Doctor Horrible! This is a work of genius, and the MIDI musicality is perfect:

8 Bit Horrible

Next week: I try to keep my off-topic review of my pet TV show to two paragraphs. Also, links, and art, and the like. See you then.

43 Comments

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

April 11, 2010 at 9:16 am

Obviously, you have to go outside the seven rainbow colors. (Six, really, but Newton had a fetishg for the number 7, so he split blue into blue and indigo.)

The visible spectrum lanterns embody emotions, so the nonvisible spectrum versions will embody unconscious drives.

The introductory arc for the Ultraviolet Lanterns, entitled “Sex Sells,” will run in Green Lantern Corps for two issues in May, and will feature Green Lantern characters Arisia and Boodika the Alpha-Lantern, as well as the recently-resurrected Ice.

In the main Green Lantern book, the Infrared Lantern Corps, representing hunger, will also be featured in the four-part “Onion Ring” arc.

What emotion-that-is-not-really-an-emotion should become a power ring next, and what color would it be?

Irony.

It would be plaid.

beta ray steve

April 11, 2010 at 9:21 am

Taupe, the color of indifference.

Boredom: Either gray or beige.

Douchey: Light pink. All Corps members must wear polo shirts with collars popped.

The Brown Lanterns should represent the “emotion” of comfortable…they can only create lounge chairs, sofas and hammocks with their rings.

RE: Chill of the Night-
You missed a voice credit (don’t feel bad, I initially missed it too). As counterpoint to Conroy’s Phantom Stranger, Mark Hamil voiced the Joker.

The episode was great, and the voice casting alone was made of win.

argh, correction – I mean Mark Hamil voiced the SPECTRE, not the Joker (that was Jeff Bennett). My bad.

I felt like the Spectre had to be somebody, but I couldn’t clock that it was Mark Hamill! Damn, that guy’s a good voice artist.

“Hell, a special library with nothing but comics is a wet dream.”

I know of an online comic library.

Yeah, it sounds sketchy but it’s NOT a download site and is designed to prevent such. Has been active since late ’08. Creator of the site has stated Marvel’s legal has OK’d the content of theirs, at least.

(I don’t want it to seem like I’m plugging the site or breaking any rules here, so I won’t be linking it unless Mr. Reed or any of the CSBG crew inquires further. Just throwing it out there that such a place exists)

The proto-DickBat costume is really good. I wish they’d gone with that instead of the vaguely off-model version they settled on.

The X-Freakangels, however, are just brilliant.

The All-Smelling Nose of Agamotto

April 11, 2010 at 10:30 am

Pink power rings — for those who feel like they’re turning gay.

Beige power rings — for those who are turning into interior decorators.

Brown power rings — for those who are full of sh

[...] Comics Should be Good: Sunday Brunch 4/11/10 [...]

Ha! Pink=Gay

How original!

Persimmon, the color of being full, but still craving just a little bit more pie because it looks so good!

I’d go with Turquoise for the Craving for Chocolate!

Nauseated: lime green with bits of yellow and brown.

I’m surprised you didn’t notice Hamill as the Spectre, given that there was a definite Emperor Palpatine-vibe to his performance.

Ha! Pink=Gay

How original!

It is unoriginal and stereotypical, but that’s exactly what makes it a good answer.

This is basically a storyline that said “black” is the ultimate villainy and invasion while
white” is the ultimate good and savior. Hiow much worse would pink=gay/feminine be at that point. Why start being original now?

Willie Everstop

April 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Puzzle at my Puce Power Ring of Confusion you logical fiends!

Gotta agree with T on the whole obvious and unoriginal thing. And speaking of obvious and unoriginal:

Like certain comics readers, these fans yearn for the day when Doctor Who was good, and by “good,” they mean “when I was ten,” or whichever age they were when they first discovered and fell in love with the thing.

That’s become the most rote and automatic response to people complaining they used to like something but feel it’s lost whatever qualities they liked about it. Does that never actually happen? Is it so inconceivable that something could have been done well at an earlier point and became less good later? Has there never ever been a musician, say, who did great work at the start of his or her career only to lose the plot in subsequent releases? Has there never been, for instance, a great film that suffered a disappointing sequel because the followup was done by an entirely different creative team who didn’t know what they were doing?

I thought for a while that Duty is Ultraviolet, since the power that Guy used as part of the Green Lantern Corps(e) looked like UV.

” That’s become the most rote and automatic response to people complaining they used to like something but feel it’s lost whatever qualities they liked about it. Does that never actually happen? Is it so inconceivable that something could have been done well at an earlier point and became less good later? Has there never ever been a musician, say, who did great work at the start of his or her career only to lose the plot in subsequent releases? Has there never been, for instance, a great film that suffered a disappointing sequel because the followup was done by an entirely different creative team who didn’t know what they were doing? ”

As a calm, rational assessment of the technical qualities of the creator’s works, yes. The problem is that fandom as a whole isn’t calm and rational in the way they criticize things, and if a fan can’t control their emotions when talking about the progress of their favorite series, their opinions shouldn’t count.

Mauve, the color of interior design. The Scarlet Skier would be given a ring and Mr. Nebula would be the avatar thingy, becoming the battery after a particularly taxing re-deco (almost did a fanfic short story about this when the whole Blackest Night thing started because the Blackest Night concept of rainbow rings itself is flawed but neglected to see it through).

I’m still waiting for an explanation of will power as an emotion, and love/compassion is such a fine line depending on how you write it (can’t mercy killings be done out of love? Whatever)…

Is it so inconceivable that something could have been done well at an earlier point and became less good later?

No. Exhibit A: The Simpsons.

When one’s reasoning boils down to “Why can’t it be just like it was in 1976?” one’s argument is automatically invalidated.

“As a calm, rational assessment of the technical qualities of the creator’s works, yes. The problem is that fandom as a whole isn’t calm and rational in the way they criticize things, and if a fan can’t control their emotions when talking about the progress of their favorite series, their opinions shouldn’t count.”

Which is the current problem I have with DC moves in terms of bringing characters back while automatically dumping/minimizing what was done elsewhere to update those characters; the moves to bring back Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are symptomatic of “it was better then”, and Didio/Johns have even intimated as much. So if the writers/creators can’t “rationally” assess what they are charged with writing, then where does that leave us?

“It is unoriginal and stereotypical, but that’s exactly what makes it a good answer.

This is basically a storyline that said “black” is the ultimate villainy and invasion while
white” is the ultimate good and savior. Hiow much worse would pink=gay/feminine be at that point. Why start being original now?”

Congratulations! You just defended an idiot!

Congratulations! You just defended an idiot!

Congratulations, you totally missed the point.

Burnt Sienna, the color of uselessness. Really, did anyone use that crayon for anything? Burnt Sienna Lanterns just take up space.

I always liked burnt sienna. If I remember correctly, it’s useful for wood. And poo.

Burnt sienna is great for wood.

I think the emotion should be drunk and horny, represented by one of those colours that only exist on Barsoom, perhaps the anti-gravity one.

Weltschmerz. (my new favorite word) – Sepia colored.

” Which is the current problem I have with DC moves in terms of bringing characters back while automatically dumping/minimizing what was done elsewhere to update those characters; the moves to bring back Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are symptomatic of “it was better then”, and Didio/Johns have even intimated as much. So if the writers/creators can’t “rationally” assess what they are charged with writing, then where does that leave us? ”

While it may be an annoying anachronism to see Barry Allen and Hal Jordan returning to prominence, the DC writers are still bringing them back in order to tell stories with them, and are thus doing something inherently constructive. They may be running on nostalgia, but they’re rationally assessing their work in the sense that they’re producing something meant to hypothetically be enjoyed– as opposed to fandom who just tear down.

Even if you didn’t think Hal Jordan’s return was a good idea, the resurgence Green Lantern has enjoyed since Johns took on the title can’t be ignored. And at the end of the day, which would you prefer to focus on, a status quo change you might not agree with, or a story that’s entertaining?

Gotta give it to Cpl_Otter with Weltschmerz being sepia toned. Excellent!

Ok, haven’t read Blackest Night yet, but they resurrected Ice? So that amazing page from JLA Classified, (the second arc of Formerly the Justice League by Giffen, Dematteis, and Maguire) where the group is leaving hell, and Fire and Guy Gardner pull an Orpheus, lose Ice to hell, and collapse in tears is just completely invalidated? Well, not unexpected, I guess.

Did they at least bring back Elongated Man and Sue Dibny?

@Travis Pelkie — nope, no Ralph and Sue, which is specifically remarked upon. Also still gone — Gehenna, the other half of the new Firestorm.

Ice was ressurected before Blackest Night; she was briefly a Black Lantern, and then unBlackLanterned.

Brown Lanterns….deliver packages across the universe. But nobody wants to get too close to them because of the other side effect of the Brown Ring.

Paisley Lanterns….listen to nothing but Grateful Dead and spend their entire lives in a state of stoned confusion, eating nothing but cold pizza and sunflower seeds. Prone to saying “Maaaan” a lot and forgetting to bathe. Cause Indigo Lanterns to sigh a lot.

“Even if you didn’t think Hal Jordan’s return was a good idea, the resurgence Green Lantern has enjoyed since Johns took on the title can’t be ignored. And at the end of the day, which would you prefer to focus on, a status quo change you might not agree with, or a story that’s entertaining?”

Oh, at the end of the day it’s all about the Benjamins, so yeah, it’s worked from a commercial standpoint. No arguments there.

Creatively, though, it’s devoid, and that’s my real problem (it’s much deeper than “I think Kyle or Guy or Wally or John” is the better character). Let’s look at the major arcs. I’ve argued elsewhere that Johns’ GL isn’t really about any of the GL’s at all; it’s really about Sinestro. Sinestro Corps. War, Rage of the Red Lanterns, Blackest Night…none of this has anything really to do with Hal other than he’s the main guy with the ring who happens to be there. Sinestro constantly upstaged him in Blackest Night. And who knows what he’ll be doing in Brightest Day, but he is “supposed to be the greatest GL of all again” unless that was a useless teaser.

Heck, I have yet to see exactly how Hal has changed at all as a character under Johns. He’s more confident? He seemed fairly confident in previous GL stuff as the defacto leader of the corps and the number one GL, a position that hasn’t changed. What, he wasn’t in a relationship with a girlfriend not named Carol Ferris, and said relationship/jilted feelings towards Carol didn’t result in Carol becoming a Star Sapphire? When has Hal not been a jerk to women? He isn’t the GL the rest look to for inspiration in a crisis?

In short, what’s changed? If you’re going to bring back the character, do something with it other than just keep the status quo (and there’s a ton that could be done that doesn’t require ultra-violence to get a reaction). It’s the same old character with a larger supporting cast, some of which are far more interesting than the main character himself (which is probably why the writers focus so little directly on Hal save to involve him in the heroing…and if anyone says that Blackest Night was something original, you need to go back and look at the 1992 Eclipso annuals…there are a lot of very, very direct similarities that I ran through and posted elsewhere; this is re-tread ground all around).

To clarify, threw Wally in there for the Flash connection…I know he’s not a GL…

FTH? didn’t I already post this?

Mauve, the intergalactic emotion for danger. You set ‘em up, I knock ‘em down.

Funk rings. What color is funk? Baby, if you have to ask…

lol I can see Jason Rusch now being the next ex-hero going evil to further the black = bad scenario…To me he had the most HUMAN reaction to all of this in Blackest Night 8….To be the hero, he has to combine with the dude that, at least in part, was responsible for the death of his fiancee…

Has anyone actually compiled a death list for this event yet?

Chris Sims hit the point squarely on the head with his BN in 60 Seconds.

Grey for indifference….or polka dot for schizophrenia…..

Those steampunk X-Men pics are full of win! Makes me wish I was more talented artistically…

The Brave and the Bold episode was well done….but once Bats revealed his identity to Chill, we knew it wasn’t going to end well….

Doctor Who begins for me in 6 days…I can’t wait…..

How about off-white, such as eggshell, or cream, or polo mallet white? Could represent inability to make a decision, such as those people I see at Home Depot filing over the 700 variations of white.

@Ed:
All those off-white colors form one corps, representing indecision. Whenever they order a pizza they call the company and then sit on the phone with the employee for over 15 minutes asking what toppings they have, what deals they have, and “what’s good?”

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives