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Sunday Brunch: 6/13/10

I bought a sexy new computer yesterday. I’m writing this on its decade-older cousin, however, because it’s hard to blog when your only available monitor (er, besides this one) is the TV. Doin’ it old school!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I forgot all the good questions I was going to ask. So what’s a question you’d like to answer? I’m open to suggestions.

ITEM! The AV Club has featured another comics-focused article, this one by Noel Murray entitled “Astro City vs. Planetary: Superhero reconstruction vs. deconstruction.” I imagine it will piss less of you off than last week’s link:

Astro City serves as an unintentional counter to Planetary, in that Busiek and Anderson do put the ideas from old comics to good use. Like Planetary, Astro City uses the plots and characters from DC and Marvel’s respective heydays (with the names changed, of course) as set dressing for new stories that are primarily about those old comics and what they mean. The difference is that Busiek is simultaneously trying to write stories that stand up to and even improve on the classics of the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages. There’s a higher degree of difficulty on Busiek’s part, as he’s writing a comic that’s not so challenging for the audience, but is complicated for the author.

ITEM! Colin Smith has written several articles since I last linked to him, and you should go read them all, because they’re awesome. His latest epic article is about Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, and initiation rites. Among other things:

And how cleverly Shazam’s death leaves Billy free of any supervising adult authority beyond Captain Marvel himself. How effectively, if considerably less gracefully than when facing previous problems of design, has Mr Beck hidden the rather gruesome fate of the three thousand year old man. There nearly always needs to be a sacrifice of some sort at the climax of a rite of initiation, a freedom or a foreskin or whatever, but the flattening of a very old man was obviously not a sight that the youthful consumers of “Whiz Comics” needed to be concerned with. Yet, the force of the old magician’s death must have inspired at least a few childhood cogs to start turning, and it lends some small measure of gravitas, some little dread and confusion, to the conclusion of Billy Batson’s initiation. Something of importance and mystery has indeed occurred here, because old men don’t submit to being squashed to death without good cause.

ITEM! By the way, Stan Lee agrees with me on the whole “Donald Glover for Spider-Man” thing.

ITEM! That stuffed little bull is at it again. Can you solve Encyclopedia Bull’s vexing mystery before he does?

Encyclopedia Bull

RANDOM THOUGHT! Marvel has begun its push to put out a buttload (one buttload = one shitload = two dickloads = 1/2 a bushel) of Thor comics. And I’m probably going to buy them all (especially this Langridge/Samnee series). I’m desperate for a Thor fix, but I will probably wait for the trades, though I may spring for the hardcovers of the Fraction/Ferry run, if only because they will be so handsome.

RANDOM THOUGHT! Bruce Campbell, Patrick Stewart, Adam West, James Marsters, and Ernie Hudson were all at WizardWorld Philly this weekend, and I didn’t go! Man, I suck.

ITEM! Justin Zyduck writes about Two-Face and the Riddler, and why they’re cooler in his head than they are in most portrayals:

But not with the coin. Nothing’s ever Harvey’s fault anymore. Caught by Batman? Mob takeover bid ruined? Hey, that’s on the silver dollar, man, not him! Neither luck nor the criminal justice system are perfect or even always fair, but at least the coin gives you a black-and-white answer with no fuss. I like to imagine DA Harvey Dent as a guy on the verge of a nervous breakdown before the incident, and that he doesn’t quite see why everyone calls him crazy for developing this great new therapy he’s found that really does make him feel so much better about everything!

OBLIGATORY CHRIS SIMS DEPT: Chris picks the 18 Best Batman Panels, and yet there isn’t a single one depicting Batman lifting a car battery over his head.

Story continues below

ITEM! Matthew Brady (the other one) shares ten things he didn’t know about Wonder Woman until he read the Wonder Woman Encyclopedia. All of them are awesome.

HEY, LOOK, KATE BEATON, YOU GUYS: Sometimes, you have to draw bawdy comic strips about Ben Franklin being a pimp:

The Benjster

REMAKE/REMODEL this week is Blast! #3. This has next-to-nothing to do with comics, but shut up. The thread is far from over, but my favorites so far are by Art Grafunkel and Felipe Sobreiro:

Blast! offBlast! it all

SPEAKING OF Warren Ellis things, Freakangels has reached its 100th episode. Round of applause time. Okay, round of pints, you’re right.

DOCTOR WHO DEPT: “Vincent and the Doctor” Written by Richard Curtis / “The Lodger” Written by Gareth Roberts

Who van GoghWho van Lodg

Wasn’t able to screencap, so I’ve nicked the images I would’ve used anyway from folks like Rich Johnston and Blogtor Who. Nice chaps. Click for the bigs.

A lot of folks had been saying that this season of Doctor Who was missing the chewy nougat center of emotion it once had under Russell T. Davies, who emphasized emotional and character beats over plot mechanics. These two episodes kindly tell those folks to shut up.

The first, written by Richard Curtis– yes, he of Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually, and all those, the guy who built Hugh Grant in his basement– is a brilliant episode, a modern classic that not only tugs at the heartstrings, but tears them from your heart-harp with bittersweet abandon. The Doctor discovers something sinister in a Vincent van Gogh painting, and so he and Amy travel back to spend some time with the Dutch painter. Tony Curran, a dead ringer for the artist’s self-portraits, puts in an award-worthy guest spot as the bipolar and possibly synaesthetic van Gogh. There’s also a fantastic monster metaphor wrapped up in a pretty realistic take on depression, some cracking dialogue, brilliant direction and art design, and a hell of an ending that left me a blubbering wreck, pinned together with a terrific cameo appearance by the majestic Bill Nighy, who is contractually obligated to appear in all Richard Curtis productions. This is the heartbreaker of the season to date. If you’re reading this– even if you’re accidentally reading this while searching for beef bourguignon recipes in the year 2014– seek this episode out and watch it. And then shed manly, manly tears.

The following episode, written by Who and Sarah Jane regular Gareth Roberts, trends back toward the “domestic approach” that Davies focused on so steadily. The Doctor, separated from his TARDIS, has to solve a mystery while pretending to be a regular bloke and sharing a flat with the dude from Gavin & Stacey. Suddenly, your science-fantasy adventure show, which the week before had been a stirring drama (and the week before that a giant political allegory), becomes a sitcom about flatmates, and again proves that this show can do anything and everything, and do it better than anyone else (as Steven Moffat said, “You don’t need other shows. This one is all of them”). Matt Smith is a walking tour-de-force in this one, given a billion things to do that all play to his strengths (especially the football– I mean, soccer– match). His performance has gotten stronger and more natural over the course of the season, and he now completely embodies the Doctor, in my mind. Sure, it’s all a bit “filler”-y and has a power of love ending, but The Lodger is a great episode filled with excellent moments.

Next week: Somebody, go out there and make some news. It’s getting a bit slow in these Sunday posts.


Yes, Bill, you do suck.

I totally missed the giant political allegory in the recent Dr Who two-parter. I was distracted by Amy Pond’s hotpants.

The question I WANT to answer is “Why is it so hard to find true love?” but I don’t know the answer, so I got nothin really.

Reading Zyduck’s article, I’d like to see the question “What characters don’t you want to write stories about, but you would want others to write about?” That is, who are characters that you know you can’t write or come with good story ideas for, but you think others can do interesting things with.

Two-Face would definitely be on that list for me.

Travis Pelkie

June 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm

You want questions? Ok, Bill, are you in the Philly area? How old are you? (I ask that due to something you said over on Hatcher’s YA post about being young)

And to continue on with things you posted on Hatcher’s post, I cannot get the phrase “rapey death” out of my head. (btw, the Hardy Boys comics are ok enough, but there’s no terrible angst in them)

Wasn’t there an Eddie Campbell book, “The Dance of Rapey Death”? (About 4 people will get that joke.)

I was reminded too of the last issue of Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man, which was after Identity Crisis. Somehow, Sivana has killed Billy Batson, but before the death, he gave Billy to Dr Light “to do what he does now, like it’s his power now or something” I love that line.

But over at comic book legends revealed, I had a revelation.

So the question of the week could be, “what is the noise made during rapey death?”

However, there is only one possible answer to that.


and for more Smurfs “humor”, remember that great Pixies album, “Smurfer Rosa”?

I’d ask if you bothered with Happy Town, and apologize if you did, since there wasn’t enough Amy Acker goodness for me. I realized that I don’t hate the entire series, and even though there are some bad parts (which really waste all the talented actors the show has), I can live with that, but the worst part?

The character Henley.

She’s so f@#$ing stupid! Like I believe I wrote last week, she’s surprised that someone would lock up something that they warned her not to go near. WTF? And this week, the Haplin matriarch told her she can never leave Haplin, right? It takes her WAY too many tries to realize that the woman whose family THE TOWN IS NAMED AFTER really means it, and can make it happen.

She even said to the Haplin lady “did you just take the scenic route to calling me dumb?”

Yes, yes she did. Because you are.

See, I’m just interested enough and have now invested enough time and typing in the show to want to know who the Magic Man is, but I know I’m going to be disappointed.

They posited this week that perhaps one of the “victims” could in fact be the perpetrator (such a cliche: in comics, see Identity Crisis, Batman Hush, and I think, iirc, The Long Halloween), so it must be a double red herring, since there are still 3 eps left.

Oh, and I know ABC doesn’t care about the show any more, but it does ruin the suspense when you end on a character being strangled, then half a minute later in the preview for next week, show that character alive and well. Jeez.

But yeah, the more I think about the show, the angrier I get that I’ve invested this much time watching and thinking about it.


To be fair, Travis, everyone is pretty stupid on Happy Town (and I actually enjoy the silly “seriousness” of the show) – my wife and I thought Tommy was the world’s dumbest sheriff, but then realized he works on the world’s dumbest police force, so it’s not too bad. We think he should have a crossover with Olivia on Fringe, as they could be the world’s dumbest crime-solving team.

As for Henley – there’s only one road out of town? Really? She couldn’t hike through the woods? Six Feet Under lady has a net over the entire town? That’s why she’s dumb – because she gives up so easily!!!!!

Travis Pelkie

June 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I guess I gotta watch Fringe, too then. I likes me some dumb cops.

To be fair, Henley did try to get on a train also, but the station was closed.

I do like the show, in a way, but some of it’s sooooo dumb. Like how Henley was able to copy the boardinghouse lady’s key. Jeez.

I think the creators want to show how Six Feet Under lady DOES have a net over the entire town, but it’s just a dumb way of doing it.

Henley could have hitched a ride on that trailer with the two dumb kids that think they’re in the Magic Man’s trailer. Cuz he doesn’t make sure his TRAILER DOOR IS SHUT BEFORE he leaves!

I love how this has turned into a Happy Town discussion. No, I didn’t catch the Acker-centric episode. Is the show so bad it’s good? I’d say it’s so bad it’s really quite bad, but it’s a great show for rubbernecking. Plus it’s got Fred and Olaf the Troll in it, so I felt compelled to watch, but every single actor in it seems to be phoning it in (or doesn’t even own a phone), and the script feels like it was put together via dart board.

Okay, look, you poisoned me on the show. I thought it was ok with some dumb stuff, but the Magic Man mystery was interesting enough (and Amy Acker, too) to keep watching. But then you had to say “oh it was total crap”, so then I started going, gee maybe it is, I mean, Bill does love that Elongated Man ’92 mini, he knows good so he must know bad.

So now I just see that Happy Town is awful.

But it’s sort of entertaining in its awfulness.

But yeah, Fred and Olaf the Troll (I had forgotten his name there on Buffy, what did I see him on years ago? gotta check imdb[Ohhhhhh, he was on the TV version of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose! Damn, I don’t even remember watching that show that much, but he was on at least 62 eps, it says. How did that last that long?]) are on, and I know he was featured on the preview for next ep. So lemme talk about their better shows. I wonder, when Amy Acker started playing Illyria, did they augment her voice, or was that all her?

You could tell us how old you are, since you said you were “young” over on the YA library post.

See, it’s really your fault for not giving us more to work with. Don’t you know to cater the free entertainment you provide us to our needs? ;)


June 14, 2010 at 5:21 am

Those Two Face/Riddler takes were great!

The Wonder Woman list was awesome, but if that book is trying to make sense of those stories it sounds horrible.

I totally missed the giant political allegory in the recent Dr Who two-parter. I was distracted by Amy Pond’s hotpants.

We had a total nerd engaged to a red head who was well out of his league get erased from history – maybe it was a one more day allegory?

(Rory better be back! Comedy gold).

I didn’t watch the Russel Davies stuff, but I’m loving the show at the moment.

I’m in the earlier half of my twenties, enough to have grown up with Hardy Boys Casefiles side-by-side with the originals, as well as 90s comics. Born in Philly, moving further and further West since, but I stop into the occasional Philly comicon. I see I missed this one, though, which has the best group of nerdlebrities ever.

To be fair, Stan Lee also endorsed One More Day, and i believe many people here at this site weren’t very happy with that story. Not comparing the two things, but just because Lee says he likes it doesn’t necessarily make it right.

Travis Pelkie

June 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

You make me feel old, Bill (you and Chad, actually), cuz I’m about 6 weeks away from turning 31. I live in the Greater Binghamton, NY area, just so you know. But yeah, that Philly show sounded good.

Oh, and Ben Franklin was a total pimp.

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