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Sunday Brunch: 11/21/10

I’ll take “Potpourri” for $1000, Alex.

BRAVE AND THE BOLD DEPT:

“Cry Freedom Fighters!” Written by Thomas Pugsley

1. Batman votes in-costume. Also, the DC Universe gives constitutional rights to superhero fistfights.

2. All the classic Quality Comics characters get together in this one, as Plastic Man finds himself allied with Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters in a strange alien land battling the red menace– that is, the red-skinned, Communist-substitute menace of the Qwardians. Only by rallying the oppressed people of Qward with a misinformed, but tremendously rousing speech about liberty and patriotism can Plastic Man resurrect the fallen Uncle Sam and save the day. He even gets a commendation from Barack Obama. It’s terrifically well-done and a whole bunch of fun, held together by Tom Kenny’s turn as Plastic Man.

3. I’ve always thought Uncle Sam was a corny character, and here he remains that– but it works. Peter Renaday aces every patriotic pun, imbuing Uncle Sam with an indomitable charm that makes the character immensely likable.

4. Batman, transformed by the power of Uncle Sam into the Liberty Bat, mimics some famous action poses of Captain America– and even throws a mighty shield– in his climactic fight scene. Just because it’s not DC doesn’t mean the folks behind this show don’t love and respect it.

“The Knights of Tomorrow!” Written by Todd Casey and Jake Black

1. This episode takes place in a future where mustachioed Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have fathered Damian Wayne, who is less of a little bastard than his comic book counterpart, and therefore, less fun. When Bruce and Selina are crushed by rubble in a fight with Joker 2.0, Damian must take up the legacy and become Robin to Dick Grayson’s Batman. The moral of the story: don’t be your own man.

2. I did enjoy all the cameos at the end from the villains Grant Morrison has created for the Batman title. Professor Pyg shows up! For three seconds, but it counts.

3. The whole thing turns out to be a novel Alfred’s working on in the present day. It unnerves me that Alfred wiles away his free time writing Batman fanfiction in which his employer dies over and over again, and young boys are thrust into the dangerous world of vigilantism. Watch your ass, Bruce.

HUMAN TARGET DEPT: This show is back on the airwaves, and in a healthier time slot. Anyone still watching? It remains a solid B-actioner, like Burn Notice but with less Bruce Campbell. Much less.

ITEM! Sean Witzke and Matt Seneca team up to talk about Steranko!, the only man who demands an exclamation point:

I feel like for all the Steranko put-ons we see in modern comics, few have ever really engaged with that supercold, futurist feel his work has, the total alien disregard for story, the deliberate sacrifice of sensicality and plot dynamics for pictorially based experimentation.  People only want to emulate those eminently quotable “things he did”, the silent pages, the sly lettering, the psychedelia.  Steranko’s biggest (only?) precept was expand the page, and the modern comics we can see him in aren’t always doing that, they’re usually just copying the same old ‘60s motifs and innovations he brought to the form.  That’s what I mean by saying that his influence is disappearing: we don’t have any Marshall Rogerses anymore, nobody (except maybe JH Williams) using his ideas and broader aesthetic goals, though no end of guys want to copy that one picture of “Hulk” he drew.  Maybe comics have moved on.  I don’t know.  But there’s more to be gotten from Steranko, things that no one since has taken up.

ITEM! Colin Smith’s latest four part critical epic puts Morrison and Quitely’s All Star Superman up against Straczynski and Davis’ Superman: Earth One. It’s a veritable literary thunderdome. Two books enter. One book leaves (guess which one):

And we’re never shown Clark abandoning one group for another because he’s seeking a more kind and ethical life. There’s no moral learning going on during Clark’s time on-stage in “Earth-One” that might indicate that, for example, he’s grasped that it’s wrong to be abusing the game of football and putting its players at risk all in the name of his own personal glory and financial gain. Clark doesn’t give up football because he’s hurt somebody, or because he himself has been in some way wounded and forced to step towards maturity. He’s not been shown through experience or reflection that it’s meaningless to win acclaim at a game where every other player lacks super-powers. Instead, he simply moves on from one success to another earned solely through his own innate abilities. He’s driven by nothing more profound than a desire to have more fun, and he shifts around in search of a place that fulfills his desires rather than one which helps diminish anyone else’s suffering. In truth, he gets whatever he wants without having to frame his own existence in any moral terms because, well, he’s Superman, isn’t he?

ITEM! Nate Cosby derives the formula for effective solicitations and posits it as the straw that’s slowly crumpling the camel’s back.

ITEM! The Beat speaks with retailers on how and why Thor: The Mighty Avenger didn’t sell.

REMAKE/REMODEL was a popular one this week, with The Bat-Man, a steampunked hero of silent cinema. (The secret ingredient is mustaches.) Enjoy samples by Neil Struthers, Felipe Sobreiro, and Fernando Lucas:

Aaaand that’s all, folks. Light week.

16 Comments

Omar Karindu, from another computer

November 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

I disagree with the idea that Steranko’s work is “cold” and “futuristic.” Nick Fury’s inner monologues in issues like ST #159 are, if anything, examples of an old soldier’s sense of nostalgia and elements of warm, human characterization.

“Sean Witzke and Matt Seneca team up to talk about Steranko!, the only man who demands an exclamation point:”

I believe that Elliot S! Maggin would beg to differ.

J.

Shit. I knew I was forgetting someone but I sent in my top ten anyway. Steranko drew so little that he slipped my mind, but definitely deserved the recognition I accidentally gave to Neal Adams, since Adams was a successor of style to Steranko.

• I didn’t enjoy the Freedom Fighters ep as much as you did, but Tom Kenny’s Plas is always delightful. He was made for that role.

• The Flamingo also cameoed at the end of “The Knights of Tomorrow!” Maybe for the first and last time. Eating faces won’t fly with network censors.

• Was that supposed to be an homage to Carrie Kelly at the end? As Damian’s kid?

• The Human Target premiere was action-packed fun. If it were Burn Notice, it’d take all season to find the kidnapped Winston, and that would just lead to another conspiracy, which would lead to another, which would lead to another, which would make the show’s mythology as convoluted as possible. I’m glad they went the other way.

• I’ve grown increasingly tired of Burn Notice, in case that wasn’t clear. Madeline’s scenes were the only decent ones in the last ep.

• Guerrero sure does enjoy destroying fingers, dude.

Human Target gets a mid-season, post-American Idol slot. That’ll be good for ratings.

• Unless the new American Idol tanks without Simon Cowell.

The Good Guys ends December 10th. It would’ve been an ideal fit for USA, but I suppose there’s a sliver of a chance FOX will renew it for the summer. Depends how invested they are in the year-round programming idea.

• The upside of JMS moving to graphic novels only is there will be a lot fewer comics with his name on them to ignore.

• I imagine Superman and Wonder Woman will dip back down to their pre-JMS numbers in a hurry. If they haven’t already.

• Solicitations could be whittled down to Title, Writer, Illustrator, Cover Artist, Price Point, Page Count, Star, and Guest Star, and sales would probably remain the same. Toss in a “[Whatever Event] Tie-In” tag where applicable, and you’re set.

• I feel like an ass for never picking up an issue of Thor: TMA. I’m part of the problem.

• Samnee should make the Top 100 Artists List, by the way, as his understanding of light and shadow is absolutely masterful.

• This week’s Avengers: EMH was sorely lacking Thor, incidentally. He — and Hawkeye! — will be back for this week’s two-part ep, though. Which seems to be some mash-up of World War Hulk and Hulked Out Heroes.

• Steampunk Batman yielded page after page of fantastic results, but mustaches are a must.

Sheesh, that silent cinema Batman thread is one big dose of awe.

• Huh. As part of Friday’s 13 hour(!) Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes marathon, Disney XD’s combining the prequel webisodes into five half-hour eps: “Iron Man Is Born,” “Thor the Mighty,” “Hulk Versus the World,” “Meet Captain America,” and “The Man in the Ant Hill.”

• If I hadn’t finished watching those at 2 a.m., I’d definitely record the eps. Hell, maybe I will anyway.

As I said last week, I was disappointed the writers of B:BatB weren’t able to fit the Red Bee into Cry Freedom Fighters.

Also, you didn’t mention the two opening scenes which mostly didn’t feature Batman (we got some more question) but also seem to be setting up Darkseid as the potential Big Bad for the second half of season two.

Wow, I didn’t really wanna read Superman: Earth One because of the art, but after reading that 4 part essay on it… Now I don’t want to read it because it seems contemptible.

I think Scott Shaw! also demands an exclamation point.

I didn’t watch the Human Target premiere, but I did tape it. There are a few eps from the first season I haven’t watched, or didn’t get on tape.

Good Guys is ending? Wah! I actually haven’t been watching that either but taping it. That Friday time slot coupled with losing the Human Target lead-in probably did it in.

Is it just me, or do Sean Witzke and Matt Seneca wind up making exactly the opposite point that they think that they are making?

Steranko certainly did not have the visual influence of Neal Adams, but his story-telling style is everywhere. Glib nihilism, flashy visual sequences that do not always cohere into a larger story, out of contexts references for their own sake and under-cooked females are pretty much the hallmarks of modern comic scripting.

For a show that many people wrote off as a “kid show” when it was first announced, The Brave and the Bold certainly turned into something special. It’s like a celebration of all corners and eras of the DC Universe. We get something like this freedom fighters episode, we got an episode starring the Outsiders, we got an homage to Batman punching out Guy Gardner. All sorts of characters and eras are being referenced on this show. We also shouldn’t forget the crazy amount of lesser known heroes we saw back on Justice League Unlimited, either.

While I really enjoy The Good Guys, I guess I can sort of understand it not finding an audience. But with all the copy-cat procedural cop shows on, I hoped people would be willing to watch a light cop show that parodies some of the older classic cop movies.

I am very disappointed in my fellow geeks, that they are not making the Human Target and Fringe hits. The Human Target is just a lot of fun, and Fringe is honest-to-goodness science fiction on a real life network. And its sci-fi that doesn’t rely on superheroes, robots or spaceships. C’mon, geeks, what’s the problem??

Much as I love Steranko, he was clearly making it up as he went along, cramming in as much glitzy hoo-hah as he could. His Nick Fury comics were great because of the things he did with the pages, not the stories they told or the characters they contained. I can see why a traditionalist like Kurt Busiek wouldn’t love his work. I can see why someone looking for a comic-book reading experience more in line with mainstream super-hero stuff wouldn’t get him. His work might be all surface, but, man! What a surface!

The Witzke/ Seneca piece was absorbing, and made me want to open a Steranko SHIELD comic. I find it odd, however, that they push Neal Adams into the camp of conservative artists. While Steranko was wilder, Adams did a lot with unusual layouts and perspectives. His “realism” was startling in and of itself at the time, but he did more to push what could be accomplished on a comics page. From the film-strip like page of the Beast falling to his scenes of Rama Kushna (sp?) in Deadman, Adams’ work wasn’t as dry as they made it sound. Imitation, repetition, changing tastes, and Adams’ decline in subsequent years might serve to mask his innovations, and make the comparison between the two artists incomplete.

That Indira Varma’s one sexy fox! ;-)

I’ll definitely watch the Human Target this season.

Ian – thanks for the heads up on the Avengers marathon. I haven’t checked out the show yet, and this will be the perfect chance.

And don’t worry, Dalarsco, Steranko! made my Top 10 list, and fairly high up there too.

@Ian A.

I think that Robin at the end of “Knights of Tomorrow” was supposed to be the Robin in “Robin 3000″ or the Robin in JLA #8 in Batman’s dream induced by the Key. My guess would be the latter since the episode was so Morrison reference heavy.

Good night for fans of the animated worlds (I’ll be vague here). More Avengers:EMH, please. Loved the Gamma World 2 parter tonight. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with “Young Justice”; thought it was a strong opening hour, and the ties to the JLA should increase story potential there.

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