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Sunday Brunch: 10/31/10

Much like a giant bucket of candy provided by a masked stranger, the following post is composed of delicious, empty calories, and will make you sick if you eat the whole thing. Onwards!

QUESTION(S) OF THE WEEK: 1. What’s your favorite subgenre of horror? I’m a sucker for zombies, myself. 2. Has a comic ever scared you? (My answer… under the cut!)

ANSWER OF THE WEEK: Yes, I have been scared by a comic! I was but a wee lad when I read Wonder Woman #55 by George Perez and Jill Thompson, a comic which featured this scene (click to enlarge):

Needless to say, I was utterly terrified, and hid the comic under the bed where no human eyes could see it, until we moved away, at which point it went into my comic files and never came out again– until this very day, almost 20 years after it was published. Looking at the scene with adult eyes, it is still pretty frightening. No wonder I’m so screwed up; this thing traumatized me for life.

BRAVE AND THE BOLD DEPT: “The Criss Cross Conspiracy!” Written by Marsha Griffin

“Well, nobody’s perfect,” says the lovestruck Felix Faust at the end of this episode, a reference to Joe E. Brown’s closing line in Some Like It Hot. The same can be said of episodes of this show, I suppose, as I felt this episode had at least one major problem. For one thing, it comes off as sexist– despite being written by a woman. Here, Batwoman isn’t Kathy Kane, but Katrina Moldoff, a rich heiress crimefighting for kicks. She’s not very good at it, however, and is unmasked by the Riddler, and banned from superheroing. Flash forward to ten years later, when the Riddler escapes from prison and Moldoff decides to seek revenge– by buying a body-swapping spell from the enamored Felix Faust, borrowing Batman’s body, and heading out to kill the Riddler. The moral of the story, as Batman says, is that “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”

Unfortunately, as soon as the bodies get switched, the episode becomes a silly comedy piece in which Katrina-as-Batman, as played by Diedrich Bader, acts like an over-the-top old diva, with overacting body language, a stuck-up valley girl attitude, and other stereotypical behavior. In the above screencap, Batman’s in the midst of asking Nightwing if he looks fat in his costume. Meanwhile, Batman-as-Katrina has trouble moving around in high heels, and falls over because her “center of gravity is higher than usual,” thrown off-balance by her own breasts. Luckily, Batgirl’s added to the plot to provide an example of a competent female superhero, otherwise things would probably look worse. But hey, at least nobody died in this one!

(Also Aquaman comes off as a complete buffoon in the teaser, and there was a reference to Batman Forever.)

RANDOM THOUGHT! Jon Stewart’s closing speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity was the best, most intelligent speech delivered in years and years. It aired on Comedy Central. God bless America.

ITEM! David Brothers continues his “Gamble a Stamp” series pivoting around Flex Mentallo with a piece on the death of superhero comics:

[Dark Knight Returns] is the blaze of glory. It’s a revitalization before death. Watchmen is the autopsy. At the end, there are no secrets. What’s Flex Mentallo? It’s a wake, that time when everyone gets together, gets drunk, and talks about the deceased.

And then some guy named Dylan in the comments comes out with a brilliant line:

While I can definitely agree with the wake analogy, I also think that Flex serves as the moment where, after lamenting the loss of the superhero and remembering all the good times you had together, you go to the tomb and find it empty. They are not dead, they are risen.

I agree with Dylan, in that Flex Mentallo feels like a reconstruction of superhero comics in answer to the deconstruction provided by Watchmen and its ilk. Funny enough, they’re the two best comics ever made.

ITEM! Shaenon K. Garrity does some doomsaying with Ten Things to Know About the Future of Comics:

Monthly comic books are dead. We all know this, right? Again, it’s a format with a lot of good qualities that will be sorely missed (foremost among them the ability to sample a story cheaply before investing in an entire book), but the direct market is a mess and pamphlet-style monthly comic books now barely work even as loss leaders. Among younger readers, “waiting for the trade” is the default position, to the point that most teenage fans seem only foggily aware that the monthly format even exists.

Not all is lost, of course, and she also brings some good, uplifting points.

ITEM! The Webcomics Overlook peeps fire back with Ten Things to Know About the Future of Webcomics:

A regular schedule will become even more important than ever. Many successful webcomics seem to have settled into a twice or thrice a week updates. The once a week update? Just ain’t cutting it. Also, audiences aren’t getting younger. Hence, stretching out a year-long story that could’ve been covered in a month with better pacing just isn’t going to cut it any more. Economic storytelling is the future.

ITEM! Laura Hudson interviews Kate Beaton, awesomeness ensues:

CA: I like that comparison between intense history fans and intense comics fans, because I think that level of investment works a similar way in all sorts of fields.

KB: It also explains why when people who read those Aquaman comics or those Wolverine comics see that joke, they laugh and they love it because they’re in on it. It’s their thing; it’s their guy. And when I write a comic about some character that someone wrote their thesis on in their undergrad, people love it because it’s their thing. It’s the thing they know about the most, and they love it.

Speaking of Kate Beaton, in the spirit of today’s consumerist holiday, she’s got some Dracula comics up on her site:

ITEM! Colin Smith looks at Iron Man II, world is never the same again:

Everyone’s at least something of a villain in “Iron Man II”, except for some of our superhero’s friends and those thoroughly unaccountable Agents Of Shield, and yet one of the very worst of the bad guys is Tony Stark himself.

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A BATMAN: The Mindless Ones turn their lurid yellow eyes on Batman, and discuss whether or not Batman works in outlandish sci-fi situations (short answer: yes).

Grant Morrison, with his love of all things damned and fortean, was always going to excavate the stories hated by Miller worshipers, but as far as this reader’s concerned it’d come steam engine time anyway. Those stories were bound to be reintroduced into bat-canon at some point. Like it or not – there’s no point disliking it really because this is the way it is – we live in a post-modern Internet culture where everything bat-related is available at every single moment, it was only a matter of time before some young turk raised on Grant Morrison comics – arguably the writer who more than anyone else represents the post Miller age – began to reappraise the Batman of Zur en Arrh. But happily enough, praise be to Barbatos!, in the end it turned out to be Grant himself.

RE:COVERED: More goodness over at the Covered! blog. Here are some pieces by Vince Allen, Valerie Fletcher, and Matthew Allison:


ITEM! The fellows what bring us El Gorgo have a special Halloween treat this year in the form of a new six-page story:

AXE COP MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Hi, Axe Cop. I’m Chris Hansen. Why don’t you have a seat over there:

DOCTOR WHO DEPT: Alan Kistler critiques the Doctor’s many fashions over the years at the Newsarama Blog. My vote goes to Jon Pertwee, of course, as the best dressed.

That’s it for the week… or is it?

No, it is.

31 Comments

That Wonder Woman sequence from Perez & Thompson is super-creepy, indeed. Doctor Psycho is one of the greatest villains.

She’s not very good at it, however

I’d debate this. Batwoman as presented is clearly good at beating up goons and seems reasonably clever. Her problem is that she’s incredibly sloppy and doesn’t notice the potential for collateral damage at all.

AotW:
1. Vampires. Or, more to the point, vampire hunting.
2. Well, those Wonder Woman pages are certainly creepy as hell. Otherwise, none that I recall.

TV Dept.:
Batman: The Brave and the Bold was pretty terrible. Batwoman-as-Batman was just awful — a vapid caricature. I’m sure they were shooting for funny, but they missed by a wide margin. And, Batman himself came off as a colossal hypocrite for his treatment of Batwoman in the beginning of the episode. Why wouldn’t he just train her himself?

• Are we in the midst of some kind of Bat-family mini arc? Last week, we had Robin, Bat-Mite, the Joker, and Harley Quinn. This week, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, and the Riddler. And, the next ep features Black Mask, according to Wikipedia.

• This week’s ep might’ve been the last appearance of Ryan Choi. In any medium. Damn.

• Watching Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, I was struck by just how redundant the power sets are on the team. Thor, Hulk, and Pym as Giant-Man have super-strength. Pym and Wasp are both size-changers. Thor, Iron Man, and Wasp all have blasting abilities. Thor and Iron Man can both fly, while Hulk can leap far enough to basically count as flying. Power-wise, it’s pretty boring. How soon until the animated version of Cap’s Kooky Quartet shows up?

• The new Tower Prep wasn’t Paul Dini’s finest hour but was decent on the whole. I was hoping (expecting?) that sock money (as dumb as the sock monkey was) would be filled with pills instead of beads. I guess that would be a little much for a show on Cartoon Network, though.

• Gabe’s roommate looked eerily like President Obama.

• Oh, shit, Gabe is played by Ryan Pinkston, from Punk’d. I knew that kid looked familiar.

• Dini’s writing at least the first four eps. I wonder if Glen Morgan will write any.

Sherlock was, as you mentioned last week, brilliant.

Luthor is solid as well. Russian roulette with a mad man is always a great way to ratchet up the tension.

The Walking Dead tonight. Yes. Will it be AMC’s highest rated series ever? (How could it not be?)

Comics Dept.:
• If the new DC regime can get Flex Mentallo back in print, they’ll be the heroes of the internet. For a day.

• “Ten Things to Know About the Future of Comics” is fairly fascinating. I wouldn’t be too upset if trades became the default release for stories, but I’m sure publishers will be reluctant to ditch the monthly format. Monthlies put more products on the shelves (whether the shelves are physical or digital) than trades would alone. Cutting out the monthly format would mean a rather healthy loss in profits, no?

• “[O]n the Internet, everyone is famous for fifteen people” is a terrific turn of phrase and all too true.

• Batman works in any situation, but does any other character?

• New El Gorgo is always a good thing.

• Has Axe Cop always had a touch of color, and I somehow missed it, or is this a new development?

• Man, I’m so behind on the webcomics I follow. Except Dr. McNinja.

you like John Stewart? How disappointing.

No, my favorite Green Lantern is G’Nort.

Why wouldn’t he just train her himself?

You’re assuming Batwoman would have accepted the offer, or that she was even aware that she needed training.

Monthly comics are one of those things that keep chugging along in spite of the number of people predicting/announcing their death. Kinda like superheroes, actually.

I was seven-ish when I first saw Dave McKean draw the Joker. That scared me like no other comic in history.

Eh, the Jon Stewart speech was pretty forgettable, to me. His points were right on, but I never felt like he phrased anything in any kind of revelatory or profound way. And his pacing was way too slow, so there was no momentum to it.

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I think … you have problems.

Maybe a psychiatrist ?

Is there a Dr. Psycho in the house?

;-)

Dude, it’s a comic in which an evil psychic dwarf convinces a fetus to claw its way out of its mother’s womb, and I read this when I didn’t quite know where babies come from. This totally explains why I still wet the b– uh, never mind.

You like G’Nort? How disappointing.

Kidding.

But that WW sequence is fucking creepy. Was that code approved?

One of the creepiest comics I ever read was in the second part of Gothic by GMozz and special sauce, I mean Klaus Janson. The sequence where Bruce is in the schoolmaster’s office and about to get punished and what he sees and doesn’t see… creepy. I mentioned it on the comments on something on CSBG (about a Wolverine run he did, I think), and Mr Janson himself said he was glad that the creepiness he was going for worked.

Of course, he didn’t seem to mind the fact that he scarred me for life…

If my thinking is right, that issue of LDK and the WW issue were out around the same time (within a year or so). What the hell was going on at DC?

Isn’t the original Batwoman story one where Batman essentially bans Kathy Kane from crimefighting? While the ep sounds a bit sexist, it sounds like it is remaining true to the original Batwoman appearance. Luckily, there have been no developments in society in the intervening 60 years that would necessitate anyone rethinking the story and perhaps updating it.

And why is it when you don’t mention Sims, I was going to? I turned on the local college radio station the other morning and heard an interview with him. He sounded pretty cool. At first I couldn’t remember who he was though. It was like, is he the guy that does the voices on Aqua Teen? Oh, comics blogging, THAT guy.

I wonder how much people would follow, in particular, superhero comics, if the ONLY option was “waiting for the trade”? I don’t know the sales figures, but I assume that if trade waiting is the only option, certain people will eventually (in this attention deficit era) stop remembering about when a certain title will be coming and stop getting it. I know I forgot last year that the new Love and Rockets book was coming out, and this year I didn’t even give it a thought at all. If I only get certain titles at certain intervals, I forget what’s coming. Maybe it’s just me though.

You had me right up to the “Random Thought”. Now I’d never be able to read anything of yours again without it being colored by that comment. So I won’t be back – I’ve had this whole separation of comics blogs and politics thing going for a while now and it’s served me very, very well.

Unlike your political choices.

Heyo!

Now I’d never be able to read anything of yours again without it being colored by that comment.

Why bother to reply, then? Listen, I’m sure even the biggest fundamentalist Republican is capable of a great speech, which is all I said about Jon Stewart; but since his speech was about being kind to your fellow man and not getting too involved in the poisonous 24-hour news cycle, I can only assume you are against your fellow man and only watch FOX News. If so, you’re missing out on a lot of human decency, and a lot of good TV shows.

“Power-wise, it’s pretty boring. How soon until the animated version of Cap’s Kooky Quartet shows up? ”

Three episodes and the mini-eps in, this is clearly Marvel’s best serious team show to date (I love Superhero Squad, but that clearly doesn’t fall in the category of serious). Black Panther, Cap, and Hawkeye are probably on the team by episode 6 (just a guess), so there should be more balance.

And the Brave and the Bold deal with drawing on any villain is awesome. That guys like Mandrill, Red Ghost, Blizzard, Griffin, Man-Ape, Graviton, and Whirlwind have already gotten the time they have on the show to this point makes it worth watching just to see what else they drag up. I only hope we get Count Nefaria and his Ani-men (please show Porcupine Man…we need that).

Given Marvel’s complete past with animated series, this one has the most promise in a long time/

I have the hugest crush on Kate Beaton and that is the only time I will ever say so, because it’s totally weird to have such a crush on someone you’ve never met.

“RANDOM THOUGHT! Jon Stewart’s closing speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity was the best, most intelligent speech delivered in years and years. It aired on Comedy Central. God bless America.”

I’d say America would be more blessed had it been broadcast on every tv station, both cable and network, along w/ every radio station AM & FM, and then also sent as a free mp3 to every computer and laptop to play immediately unstoppably, next time the computer is turned on.
AND ALSO, from the face of every fast food drivethru order speaker, printed also on all the food wrappers, and on the outside of all Starbucks cups.

Basically, what I’m saying is that, as impressive as the speech is, what would be really great is if it actually REACHED THE PEOPLE IT NEEDS TO.

… sorry, I’m a real pessimist.

My political comment is this: I trust Jon Stewart. Even as a comedian/satirist, he’ll tell you straight out what the problems are. Too often, politicians go along partylines even when it is harmful to the country as a whole. Now I not saying that we need something like that Robin Williams movie where he actually became President, but it is growing increasingly hard to accept the word of our leader when they are consistently shown to be bickering little children as the country breaks apart.

My thing about Brave and the Bold this week was, it felt like it undermined all the respectable strides the character of Batwoman made in the last 18 or so months. To me, that felt like an early Flamebird or Booster Gold story than a Batwoman one

Ian you right, it a shame that it might have been the last Ryan Choi story but at least he went out on a funny note. And you have to admit that the Aquaman/Atom interactions are fun

So far I have not heard a single person hate on the Walking Dead episode…. and give it up to Lennie James. He can act in anything I just glad he chooses to do it in action/fantasy/sci-fi/horror shows.

Come on people, how can you hate on this Avengers series especially with some of the dreck Marvel has previously put out just to put it out? Yost, with all of my probs with some of his comic work, can put together a far reaching plot and atmosphere for a universe. He has my Kudos….

Okay, so when is this Avengers show on, and what channel is it? Apparently I’m missing out.

Bill it on Disney XD 8:30pm on Wednesday with repeated re-showings over the weekend…. I know on my Directv it is Channel 292… I don’t know about regular cable though….

” Three episodes and the mini-eps in, this is clearly Marvel’s best serious team show to date (I love Superhero Squad, but that clearly doesn’t fall in the category of serious). Black Panther, Cap, and Hawkeye are probably on the team by episode 6 (just a guess), so there should be more balance. ”

Not to mention that the Hulk left in disgust, and Hank’s Giant-Man form is an extremely crude form of super-strength that he only uses in dire circumstances. ( I like how in this show, Hank sees himself more as Ant-Man, and has more confidence in his quirks. )

And yes, Bill, the show is fuckin’ awesome, and is on Disney XD ( with some episodes on Marvel.com, particularly the micro-episode previews )

While Jon Stewart’s speech was great, the real highlight of the rally for me was the beginning. I totally did not expect to get a forty minute Roots concert.

Scariest comic I’ve ever read. Arkham Asylum. I couldn’t even finish it I was so scared. Though I will admit, I don’t read a lot of scary comics.

I just watched some of the new Avengers cartoon and Iron Man’s voice seems waaaaaay off to me. He’s too young and dude-ish. Also, the theme song is ear-bleedingly terrible.

But those are my only complaints so far. I’m definitely going to watch more episodes.

More random thoughts about politics!

“Sherlock” was only good, not great. The first episode oversimplified “A Study of Scarlet’s” mystery, and not in a good way.

The original Avengers lineup wasn’t a classic lineup. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye is a classic lineup.

@Neil

That they made Hank Pym a more interesting character than I ever got out of the comic is an accomplishment in and of itself (being the voice of reason and a scientist first rather than a hero seems to work well against Thor, Iron Man, and Wasp’s hero mentality; while I know he saw himself as a scientist in the comic, this just seems better done so far).

@Bill

Given how you like the Brave and the Bold, it seems like Marvel has chosen to go with that model, though in a more serious manner (in the first two regular eps, nearly every Avengers villain got at least a cameo). It’s doing a nice mix of modern mythology with the comics and films (story picks up basically after Iron Man 2, so Iron Man, SHIELD and Hulk are established) with the older history of the team (brief nods, like the original 5 forming the team and Wasp naming it; Loki is involved as well). It also has a solid hook for why the team forms so that it doesn’t seem random…there’s a nice, organic, unforced feel to the stories so far, and if this keeps up, it may be the best team show since JL/JLU.

It also plays to my inner comic geek, so that’s a win. My hope is that we get Masters of Evil IV adapted for this since half of that team has been introduced already…followed by a Thunderbolts arc.

Dr. Psycho is one of those few villains that I would immediately murder, no questions asked, if I ever had the misfortune to come across him in real life. One of my favourite moments in superhero comics is when he and the Mad Hatter square off in that “little guy knife fight” in Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation.

I’m glad Batman finally got to the bottom of the Kriss Kross Conspiracy. Never trust anyone who wears their clothes backwards, I always say.

And there is no classic Avengers lineup that doesn’t include Elephant Steve.

Buttler, 100 cool points to you for the Elephant Steve reference. Chris G and Marvel really do need to get that G-Man/MiniMarvels crossover in the works like tomorrow!

@Smokescreen

Interesting that you mention ” Hero Mentality ” for Wasp, because in the original Avengers, she was only in costume to impress Hank ( the part about her father being murdered conveniently forgotten ), while in the new cartoon, she has an active desire to be part of the superhero game. Of course, she still sees it as a game, making her only slightly less irritating and useless than before.

And yes, I tend to hate young characters who want to play hero. If you’re doing it because it’s fun, you shouldn’t be doing it, period.

@Neil

Now that you mention the original Wasp origin, I’m wondering why they shied away from that in this cartoon. They had no issue with showing both Bucky and T’Chaka getting killed, so why they haven’t fully explained her yet is a bit odd.

Enjoyed the Cap episode tonight; it felt a little compressed (Strucker, Zemo, and Zola…that’s a ton), but my only real complaint is that they should be doing more with him getting acclimated to the future, but maybe that will develop over a few more episodes.

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