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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 9 November 2011

“We took unremarkable men: usual bankers, run-of-the-mill priests, ordinary soldiers and statesmen and wives – and sacramentalized their mediocrity. We smoothed their noons with strings divisi! We pierced their nights with chittarini! We gave them processions for their strutting – serenades for their rutting – high horns for their hunting, and drums for their wars! Trumpets sounded when they entered the world, and trombones groaned when they left it! The savour of their days remains behind because of us, our music still remembered while their politics are long forgotten. Tell me, before you call us servants, who served whom? And who, I wonder, in your generation, will immortalize you?” (Antonio Salieri, from “Amadeus” by Peter Shaffer)

It's a Robin-palooza! The word bubbles really make the cover for me You think they're overselling the sexy a little? European comics FTW! I'm not sure if Amanda Conner's art really fits the tone of this book Geof Darrow is pretty awesome, I must say '... I really think so'

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13 (“Batman Dies at Dawn!”) by Sholly Fisch (writer), Rick Burchett (penciller), Dan Davis (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Carlos M. Mangual (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Usually, the issues of Batman: The Brave and the Bold are far better and tighter than your usual DC comic, and this is no exception, although it’s not quite as good as some others. The problem is that Fisch spends a lot of time with the set-up of this issue, so the resolution is kind of quick and lacking in drama. However, that doesn’t make it a bad issue, because the set-up is so excellent. Batman is shot while stopping a crime in Crime Alley that is very similar to the crime that turned him into Batman, and the Phantom Stranger places him in stasis so his condition doesn’t deteriorate. He calls together Robins from all time periods to get Batman to a Lazarus Pit so that he can be revived. He’s kind of vague why all these Robins can save Batman when he could call that Big Blue Boy Scout in Metropolis, who could get him in the Pit a lot easier, but who cares? This just means that Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, Stephanie Brown, AND Carrie Kelley get to leap into battle, and yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds, from no one understanding Carrie’s patois to Damian realizing that the League of Assassins doesn’t know who he is because it’s before his time (it seems like this is when Jason was Robin, but perhaps not). It’s a clever issue with a lot of good characterization, and although it’s resolved a little too easily, that’s fine because the idea is so keen. Plus, the final page is pretty awesome, too.

As usual, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a fun comic. Why can’t more DC comics be like this? Beats me!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Damian - you're incorrigible!

Batwoman #3 (“Hydrology Part 3: Gaining Stream”) by J. H. Williams III (writer/artist), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I love when Batwoman’s and Kate’s worlds mix, because we get the two different styles of artwork – the painted, smoother look of Batwoman, and the harder lines and brighter colors of Kate’s world. When Batwoman staggers back from her dunking and confrontation with the police and sees Bette, it’s a nice contrast not only in how the conversation plays out, but how Williams slowly turns Batwoman back into Kate. He does this really well, and it’s one of those things that not many artists even notice. The idea of superheroes having two separate identities isn’t new, of course, but the way Williams shows it visually is really nice.

The writing is getting stronger, too. Kate is definitely not portrayed like a perfect person, and the fact that she lashes out at Bette in this issue seems irrational, but that’s kind of the point. She’s unsure how to act and how to be a mentor and even how to be a hero, and Williams and Blackman are doing a good job with that. Yes, she might act horribly at times, but her outburst at Bette feels more real than many other instances of heroes snapping at their sidekicks, because it feels rawer and deeper and might not work out the way these things always do. I didn’t love the fact that Kate just cries a bit and Maggie lets her off the hook and they begin making out, but that just might be because I have a cold, black heart. It’s a cheap effect of fiction that the creators are allowed to make cuts wherever they want – in real life, the kiss would end at some point, and would Maggie then say, “Yes, that was nice and all, but you still need to tell me what’s going on”? I’m sure Williams and Blackman won’t drop this, but if the next time we see Kate and Maggie it’s post-coitus, I’m going to be disappointed. Still, the actual characterization of the two in that scene is well done, and that’s what I’m talking about with regard to the writing.

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I hope that people aren’t getting bored with Williams’s magnificent layouts and pencil work. Yes, he does it every issue, but when you consider that he’s the only one doing stuff like this in mainstream comics (and most independent comics don’t look like this, either), it would be a shame if people became inured to it. It’s so amazing that even when I don’t mention it, it’s still superb.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:


Loose Ends #3 (of 4) by Jason Latour (writer), Chris Brunner (artist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, 12-Gauge Comics.

Chris Brunner’s actual linework on Loose Ends is very good, but several pages in this are confusing because of the storytelling. Latour lets Brunner tell the story, and it’s clear that it’s basically Sonny and his girl (whose name escapes me) spending the day in Miami, but it’s still hard to get through. There’s a cameo by the Noid, of all things (really? the Noid?); there’s a homeless guy that seems to be a focus of attention but never appears again; there are flashbacks to issue #1 with no context; there’s a full-page drawing that’s almost completely black and shows Sonny and his girl embracing, and while the tone is sad because it’s clear that they’re remembering the incident from issue #1, it’s hard to even see what’s going on so the impact is lessened. Each drawing is well done and the layouts of the page are even interesting, but it’s still a bit confusing. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. I imagine the time between issues is making this more confusing than it really is. The art is still very good, and Brunner’s pencils and Renzi’s colors make this a gorgeous comic to look at, and I’m looking forward to the next issue.

Part of the problem is that Latour is taking his time with the story, which is a good idea but makes reading chapters somewhat frustrating. Add that to the delays between issues, and I’m having difficulty remembering what the plot of the book actually is, and there’s only one issue left! Obviously, that’s my problem, but I think Latour is being deliberately circuitous in telling the story, and while I think that will work when the entire series is done (if he sticks the landing, that is), it makes reading chunks of it frustrating. It’s like watching Memento 15 minutes at a time. How annoying would that be?

I hope the final issue comes out soon. This is an ambitious and fascinating comic, and I’m very keen to read the end of it. I’m sure it will all come together!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I always thought that head-butting would hurt you as much as the person you head-butt, wouldn't it?

Operation: Broken Wings, 1936 #1 (of 3) by Herik Hanna (writer), Trevor Hairsine (artist), Sébastien Lamirand (colorist), Edward Gauvin (translator), and Deron Bennett (letterer). $3.99, 19 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

For the second week in a row, it’s a European reprint from Boom! Studios, which is nice. This is a nifty little comic, as Hanna gives us a story about a German soldier in 1936 who is, apparently, somehow conspiring against the Nazi regime. This issue offers only a few hints about what he’s up to, but it’s clear that he has decided to change sides or perhaps simply leave the Nazi side. He kills an old German soldier and that soldier’s son at the beginning of the book, but Hanna does an interesting job not telling us that the victim was a long-time soldier until later in the issue. So we think that the major (he doesn’t get a name) is on a mission from his superiors, but then we aren’t sure, and it’s a good way to go. Hanna also flashes back to the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, where it appears that the protagonist saves Hitler’s life (it’s unclear), adding another interesting layer to the issue. Unfortunately, it’s only 19 pages, but it feels longer because there’s a lot going on.

Part of the reason I got this is because I’ve always liked Hairsine’s art, and he does a nice job. I don’t think he’s a great artist, but he has a nice style and I enjoy reading the comics he draws. He still has that scratchy, slightly rushed looking art, and Lamirand does a good job giving us muted colors that help make the Nazi regime seem oppressive because the brightness is leached out of the world. Hairsine is, I think, a good choice on the art, because his style makes things look sloppier and shows the Nazi regime as a seedy place, which isn’t a bad way to go. Hanna even gives Hairsine an excuse for the major’s shaggy hair and unshaven look, which seems out of place in 1936. So there’s that.

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Operation: Broken Wings is a nice little comic. If you’re waiting for the trade, I can’t blame you, but it’s an entertaining and intriguing first issue.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Now that's some aim!

Pigs #3 (“Rocky”) by Nate Cosby (writer), Ben McCool (writer), Breno Tamura (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

We learn a bit more about Felix’s past and how he was forged into a weapon, and I assume at some point Cosby and McCool will get around to why Felix chose to break from his upbringing. The plot continues to move along, as the team finds a senator in Colorado from whom they need to get a code. Of course, the senator is heavily protected by a security team and, of course, he’s banging some hot young thang, but that won’t stop the team! The one question I have about the plot is that Felix gets weapons and, apparently, kills the clerk at the gun store. Okay. But then, we find out that he’s loaded the weapons with tranquilizers so that the team doesn’t kill the security team. Did Felix kill the clerk? If so, why? If he did, why did he want to spare the security team? It seems like Cosby and McCool are showing that Felix is the “nice” guy who doesn’t want to be a killer, and that’s fine. So what happened in the gun store? Beats me. It’s an odd dichotomy within the issue itself – it’s not like one event happened a few issues ago and Cosby and McCool forgot about it. Or are we supposed to believe that Felix didn’t load the weapons? Oh, my head is spinning! Okay, there, it stopped.

Still, Pigs is on a nice track. I’m not completely sold on it, but it’s working so far!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, those stupid Commies!

Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths by John Layman (writer/letterer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), and Jay Fotos (colorist). $19.99, 127 pgs, FC, IDW.

Whenever anything comes out that has monsters and Japan in it, I think “What would this have looked like if Seth Fisher had drawn it?” This looks quite good, actually – Ponticelli does a nice job – but I think about what some of the double-page spreads would have looked like if Fisher drew it. And, given that it’s Layman writing, I imagine the script is pretty nuts (I haven’t read it yet), which would fit Fisher’s sensibilities. Man. People dying sucks.

Mangaman by Barry Lyga (writer), Colleen Doran (artist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), and Lois Buhalis (letterer). $19.99, 126 pgs, BW, Houghton Mifflin.

Manga characters in the real world. It looks pretty terrific.


As some of you may know, I’m a Penn State alumnus, so this past week has been fairly yucky. I was writing about politics last week and the fact that everything happens so fast, and that’s what happened in this instance. I think Joe Paterno should have retired a few years ago, and I’m not that bugged by the fact that he was fired, but I am angry about the fact that the sanctimonious thundering from the media pulpit was basically what got him fired in the way he was. If you don’t know the facts of the case, I’m not going into it now (the .pdf of the grand jury’s report can be found here, in case you’re interested), but the fact that the media is focusing on the most famous person involved instead of the person who has been indicted for the crimes is ridiculous. One of the writers for the Penn State blog I read tweeted that Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with all these crimes, was working out at a gym on Wednesday morning, yet no member of the media was camped out there to bug him. As usual, the 24-hour news cycle needs talking heads, the more controversial the better, and so everyone rushes to judgment (this isn’t a new phenomenon, of course – just ask the Spanish in 1898). There’s a lot of blame to go around, and if it comes out that Paterno knew more than he’s telling, then I agree that he should be fired. But the self-righteousness of the media blowhards and their utter lack of knowledge about the legal process is awful. ESPN is the worst, but they’re not alone. Almost everyone at ESPN can go fuck themselves. I doubt very much if their on-air talent would remember that kids were raped if someone didn’t slip them a note occasionally.

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In good news, Russell Pearce was shockingly voted out of office here in Arizona in a recall election. If you don’t know who Russell Pearce is, you may have heard of his baby, Senate Bill 1070, the anti-immigrant law which caused everyone to shit their shorts around the country a few years ago. SB 1070 still hasn’t been implemented, but it still proved that everyone in Arizona was a racist, knuckle-dragging mouth-breather who jerks off to pictures of Hitler, right? Is anyone going to point out that a lot of Arizonans don’t like Pearce and his xenophobic rhetoric and the fact that he’s been almost the de facto governor for the past few years because he threatened to withhold support for the actual governor unless she danced to his tune, and those Arizonans acted accordingly and got rid of him? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Calling an entire group of people something derogatory is a lot easier than saying that maybe some people have different ideas about complex issues. The guy who beat Pearce is a fairly conservative Republican who doesn’t think SB 1070 is a horrible idea, but at least he understands that maybe, just maybe, it’s not a good idea to piss off a huge section of your constituency if you want to stay in office. I don’t care if Lewis (the winner) wants to work on immigration reform, but maybe he’ll realize that you can’t really go too far with it. I don’t know much about Lewis, but I do know that Pearce is a tool. So I’m glad he lost.

Moving on, let’s take a look at The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “I Want It All”Queen (1989) “Just give me what I know is mine; people do you hear me just give me the sign”
2. “Memories Can’t Wait”Living Colour (1988) “There’s a party in my mind and I hope it never stops”
3. “The Golden Age”Beck (2002) “You gotta drive all night just to feel like you’re okay”
4. “S.I.M.P. (Squirrels In My Pants)” – 2 Guys N the Parque (2008) “How can I qualify for government grants?”
5. “Hey, Hey Helen”ABBA (1975) “So you’re free, at last, and beginning to forget the past”
6. “River To My Soul” – Janet Speaks French (1994) “The world is flesh, and I am steel”
7. “Values”Hamell on Trial (2006) “If you can’t make sense no more, take off your diaper, take a shit on the floor”
8. “Do You Recall”Journey (1979) “You told me that you were leavin’, ’cause we can’t go on this way”
9. “Bridge”Queensrÿche (1994) “Time has made you finally realize your
loneliness and your guilt inside”

10. “Hearts”Yes (1983) “As we flow down life’s river, I see the stars glow one by one”

Finally, here is a Totally Random Movie Quote!

“What are you doing here?”
“Take it easy. I’m just a messenger. I brought you a drink.”
“I don’t want your drink. Why are you following me?”
“I’m not following you, I’m looking for you. There’s a big difference.”

Spooooooky!!!!! Anyway, have a nice day, everyone. I apologize for not buying more comics. It’s not that I don’t like them any more, it’s just that I really am trying to wait for the trades on things (like the Godzilla book!), so my weekly single issue purchases are going down. We’ll see where that leads us! For now, it means fewer books per week. Oh well!


Ed (A Different One)

November 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm

With you on the PSU mess. It’s been a hard week. There’s a lot of fault to go around, much of it on Paterno’s shoulders (I agree with the firing), but the way the press reacted you would have thought he was the one perpetrating the crimes.

There’s nothing good about what happened, yet I can’t help but feel that there’s more than a little ‘glee’ that is masquerading as righteous indignation among media members. There’s one particular pundit out there on the west coast with a nationwide audience who I’m convinced has been waking up with a hangover he seems to be getting so “high” over this story.

One should never forget what happened, but it’s nice to take a break in the sweet embrace of comics. Just turned out that none of my purchases this week matched up with yours . . .

The skull is thickest around the forehead/hairline area, so if you use that part of the head to hit someone in a different part of the head, the headbutt should do more damage to the victim.

Greg, Don’t defend Paterno or the school. You should want to burn down the place. He and others allowed this predator to prey on the children., by his own admission.

Joe and others will be prosecuted, (if the DA does his job) followed by civil suits. Sickening display by the PSU students last night.

I hadn’t thought about that regarding J.H. Williams’ art: he’s so consistently amazing that you actually can start taking him for granted. I just hope that he’s a lot of issues ahead art-wise. I can’t even imagine how long it takes him to draw just one of those pages.

The excerpts at the beginning of the post are always good, but I really liked this one. Did you see the play, or you took it from the movie adaptation?

Ed: I think you’re talking about Bill Plaschke, and yeah, he seems a bit giddy. And completely uninformed. A dangerous combination!

Trey: I will defend Paterno. I’ll go even further and defend Sandusky, because we don’t live in a dictatorship and he’s innocent until proven guilty. Now, the indictment is pretty damning, and it certainly seems like he’s guilty (and very monstrous, of course), but he still has to be convicted. Why would Paterno be prosecuted when he did what he was supposed to do? I don’t have all the facts, and neither do you. That’s my entire point – this idea that everyone needs to jump to conclusions based on some of the facts and a whole lot of speculation. More than that, as I pointed out, the self-righteousness of the media is disgusting. Everyone is saying “I would have done ____” if they had seen the crime or if someone had told them about the crime. It’s easy to think of yourself as the hero in your own story, but I would bet that far more than half of the population would have done exactly what these people did or even less. Maybe that makes me cynical, but there it is. As I pointed out, I don’t really have a problem with Paterno getting fired. It’s unfortunate, but oh well. What I have a problem with is everyone making up their minds before they know even a large percentage of the facts. If it comes out that Paterno knew more and didn’t do anything, of course I won’t defend him. But right now? Sure I will.

Scott: Thanks. Obviously, I’ve never head-butted anyone, or I’d know!

Pedro: I think Williams is still only doing the first arc and then Reeder is taking over for an arc. As far as I know, that’s still the plan. But yeah, I do hope people don’t take him for granted!

I have never seen the play live, unfortunately, just the movie. But that quote is taken from the play, because I own the text of the play!

Now I’m really curious to see how gangsta Godzilla really is in that comic. It gives me visions that might rival his basketball showdown with Charles Barkley.

Greg, Paterno did not “do what he was supposed to do” — he did what the University said he had to do. Unfortunately for him, membership in our society means that what he “had to do” was call the cops.

I am currently attending Penn State, and I support Paterno. Along with roughly 95% of the student population. The mainstream press is appallingly yellow, so anyone outside of campus is getting a very incomplete picture of the case. Joe Paterno DID contact the police by going to Gary Schultz. Schultz is the head of University Police, and they have just as much jurisdiction here as the state police do.

Sorry, campus rent-a-cops, no matter what jurisdiction they have on campus, are irrelevant in the case of serious criminal activity.

Ed (A Different One)

November 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

@Roger Klorese:

“Sorry, campus rent-a-cops, no matter what jurisdiction they have on campus, are irrelevant in the case of serious criminal activity.”

Sorry, incorrect. As someone who works with the State Police in a professional capacity, I know that the PSU campus police are a full, legally empowered police force, they are not campus rent-a-cops. The State Police shares what’s called “concurrent jurisdiction” with them (as they do with all other police forces in the State), but defer jurisdiction to them as a matter of policy unless specifically requested by that police force to intervene or assist. The PSU police have as much legal authority (and responsibility) to investigate criminal activites and make arrests as the State Police do. The fact that Schultz did not direct them to do so is a failing on Schultz’s part, but not an indicator that the PSU cops are anything other than a fully empowered police force.

Whatever you think of Paterno’s actions in this matter are an opinion you are entitled to have (and I may not even argue it with you), but the characterization the PSU police force as mere “campus rent-a-cops” is simply inaccurate.

I don’t think that I can change your mind about the “rent-a-cops,” so let’s just say that everything that has happened so far has been tragic. I am seriously sorry for the victims of Jerry Sandusky, but I am also sympathetic toward Paterno.

Oh, and Batwoman was stunning.

I’ve only ever headbutted someone once. It hurt, but not as much as it might have if I hadn’t been drunk, and the next day my forehead swelled up and turned blue. On the other hand the guy I hit rolled around on the floor and got helped out by his friends. And it impressed the girl I was with. Now you know!

(In retrospect I might have done it wrong ’cause you see martial artists headbutt stuff all the time and the probably practice that shit but you never see them with icepack headbands looking like hungover raccoons so…)

That Dude: Anything that impresses the ladies it all right with me!

Roger: We can argue about the way this played out and what could have been done, but every lawyer I’ve heard or read about this case says that Paterno did exactly what he was legally required to do and should not – should not – have done anything else. He didn’t witness anything, so what he heard was hearsay. All corporations have protocol for when an employee has a problem with someone else, and calling the cops is not part of it. We still don’t know what Paterno said or did after her reported it to his superiors or what he was told about the case. Once it becomes a legal issue, anything he says could be prejudicial and get the case thrown out, which would allow Sandusky to walk. Even if Paterno says that in hindsight he should have done more, that’s meaningless – in hindsight, everyone would have done more. This is why we have legal processes in this country – so cases aren’t tainted by people spouting off and later getting sued for libel or costing the DA a victory. We can argue about how Paterno should have followed up – that’s fine. But right now, we have no idea what he did to follow up. Again, if it comes out that he broke the law or even witnessed something himself and did nothing, I’m all for putting him in jail. But right now, all we know is that he did exactly what he was supposed to do when he heard something that he didn’t witness. I’m very sympathetic to the kids – I have two daughters, after all, and I used to teach a lot of at-risk kids and know how damaged they could be – but I also recognize that our legal process is so good because it tries to remove emotion from the equation and get it right. Again, I don’t think the media got it right in this case, and that makes me angry. Not as angry as I am at Sandusky, but still.

Very surprised that Pierce didn’t win. I don’t think it’ll change the tide or tactics so much of the conservative side unfortunately. Events like this tend to make the opposition more entrenched and strident.

Market Share Flash

November 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Completely agree with you about the Penn St. issue. Nice beginning quote too, makes you think. I wish you would break your trade vow and read Demon Knights(That shit aint coming out till JUNE MAN!or July, or October, whatever)The headbutt works great, nobody expects it.

For once, I’m completely in agreement with Greg.

The only thing Paterno could have accomplished be going over the heads of the president & campus PD would be to get any future case dismissed due to it being hearsay, and Paterno using his position to try to make the police do anything. It would have also left the school and him wide open for a lawsuit from Sandusky, EVEN IF HE LOST OTHER ABUSE CASES.

The then-grad-assistant coach that saw the event he related to his father and to Paterno, had issues as well. Does he interrupt, and possibly have the school believe the culprit over him? Does he attack to break it up, potentially resulting in assault or even murder charges (it was in a SHOWER – getting the cops and bringing them back, the evidence would be long gone – hell, he might have even been accused of being the rapist, and Sandusky the one that tried to stop it, depending on how deep the hooks were that he had in the kid). There’s no good answer (personally, I’d have tried to permanently sideline Sandusky, if you get my meaning)

The only way that event COULD have been something for Paterno to report further, is if the kid involved actually came forward THEN. Last I heard, the child in that incident wasn’t one of the ones part of the case so far, though I’ve not had a chance to go through the PDF.

Who really needs to go? Let’s start with any of the Trustees that were on the Board when the earlier events happened, when they hired an investigator, and then decided there wasn’t enough evidence to go further, and ALLOWED SANDUSKY TO CONTINUE USING PSU FACILITIES. Firing Paterno for not acting when he couldn’t, while they didn’t act when they could have at least taken steps to disassociate from him, is the ultimate act of Hypocrisy for them.

Mike & Mike, PTI and the others should be given the boot as well, for completely misrepresenting how Paterno and others were effectively handcuffed from acting as they “think” he should have acted, by such minor things as State and Federal laws…. This, the MNF/Hank fiasco, and other recent things have made even some of my liberal friends start to question other actions by ESPN, to the point of even starting to doubt some of the things said about Limbaugh (where they tried to maintain it was stuff he said off-camera, more than his criticism of McNabb’s press cheerleaders (not actually McNabb), that led to his dismissal. Personally, I think McNabb’s mystique came from playing in a major market, and his record had more to do with the quality of his targets and the need to constantly pass because his team’s rushing game and defense sucked, than McNabb being the greatest black QB of all time as many ESPN analysts liked to claim (McNabb isn’t worth a pimple on the backside of Warren Moon, who had much shorter seasons for most of his career and even worse teams to work with, not to mention significant injuries, and STILL managed to come up with combined NFL/CFL numbers that will be hard for anyone to reach)). ESPN’s commentary branch has gone from being impartial coverage of Sports news, to being the sports embodiment of the type of News-gone-wrong described in Henley’s “Dirty Laundry”.

Basara, apparently you have little to no idea what “hearsay” is. Hearsay — that is, something you heard from another reporting it to you, in this case — is a perfectly valid reason for Paterno to have made a police report and for police to have investigated. What it is *not* — in most cases, anyway — is valid evidence to be presented in court. Guess what? — that’s the whole point of a police investigation: to turn reports into evidence.

JRC: Yeah, I don’t think Pearce’s loss will change anything TOO much, but at least Lewis believes in working with the federal government to deal with illegal immigration, rather than going rogue about it!

Greg said: I’ll go even further and defend Sandusky, because we don’t live in a dictatorship and he’s innocent until proven guilty. Now, the indictment is pretty damning, and it certainly seems like he’s guilty (and very monstrous, of course) […]

So I’m going to assume that the angry poster above simply didn’t read Greg’s post very closely.

That said, I think, Greg, that where several of us disagree with you is in the premise that the moral outrage directed against Joe Paterno is entirely misplaced. The one major fact that has come out, that no one involved has denied, is that Paterno himself directed McQueary to the athletic director rather than to the police with his information. Additionally, Paterno spoke only to the athletic director. The athletic director, Tim Curley, and the university finance director and a VP, Gary Schultz, did not report the information to the police. No action was taken, and Sandusky was allowed to continue on, and later granted continued access to facilities at Penn even following his retirement. But they did order Sandusky to stop brining children to the football facility, and order that Graham Spanier, Penn’s President, was also in on.

Legally, Paterno did the bare minimum; the questions people have are about what seems to be his decision to prioritize the university’s interests. Once the higher-ups barred Sandusky from bringing children to the football facilities, Paterno would have known that the accusation had not been dismissed. And given that he worked closely with Sandusky — his defensive coordinator in a major football program — he’d also certainly have known that the police never became involved in any substantive way. And yet Paterno never felt moved to contact the police himself, to direct McQueary to do so. And yes, hindsight and all, that almost certainly helped Sandusky stay with Second Mile, and discouraged others from coming forward.

The defenses of Paterno seem to come down to two basic principles: 1) that he had no direct knowledge of the abuse itself; and 2) that it was his bosses, not him, who chose to cover the information up. The second of these amounts to little more than a “just following orders” sort of defense. The first is much more compelling, perhaps, but I still feel it fails to excuse Paterno and, moreso, McQueary.

But I think what weakens both defenses for me is that Paterno, not McQueary, was in a position of public authority, even something a bit like moral authority. Head coaches at major college athletic programs are, as we’re seeing with the reactions to Paterno’s firing, figures of considerable community and charismatic authority. And I feel that this should create considerable moral obligations. Joe Paterno, through talent and drive and discipline, attained a perhaps enviable, and certainly widely-admired role at Penn State.

And that community role was what, in the end, I think Paterno betrayed. One of his subordinates reported that another had done something unconscionable. And Paterno’s response was to defer authority, to pass on responsibility, despite his own standing in the community, and despite the seriousness of what he’d been told. (Whether McQueary said he saw a rape or merely a questionable action, as Paterno claims, strikes me as not mattering that much given the obvious implications for Sandusky’s own access to children through the Second Mile program.)

It doesn’t help that Paterno’s public statements since have reflected a similar sort of moral minimalism, and a somewhat self-serving one at that: ““It’s hard for me to tell you how much this means to me,” he said. “You guys have lived for this place. I’ve lived for this place. I’ve lived for people like you guys and girls. I’m just so happy to see that you feel so strongly about us and about our school. And as I said, I don’t know if you heard me nor not, is, you know, the kids who were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. It’s a tough life when people do certain things to you. But anyway, you’ve been great. You’ve been really great.”

I realize Paterno is perhaps watching out for his own liability, and assuming innocence until proof of guilt is presented. But I think, with regards to the first of those things, the position he held demanded much more. Paterno understood that elsewhere: he’s rightly revered for following NCAA rules and for getting out ahead on issues like freshmen play and head injuries. But he appears to have a had a real blind spot for hierarchy and cronyism in the athletic and campus administration, and I think *that’s* what’s so hard to forgive. It speaks to so many of the institutional problems of universities and university athletics programs, and with Sandusky’s apparent conduct, we now have a consequence of those problems worse than even many strident critics had imagined.

The moral outrage against Paterno is in part outrage against a problematic system whose beneficiary and whose face — at Penn State — he spent most of his life trying to be and being.

Omar: I actually don’t disagree with you at all – we can argue some niceties about legalities, but as I’m not a lawyer, I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I don’t think the moral outrage directed at Paterno is misplaced (I’m not really one for moral outrage, but I understand it), but I think it’s far too focused on him. That, again, is where the media comes into this. I also don’t like the sermonizing by members of the media, which is all in hindsight. I very much doubt most of us have ever been in a position like McQueary or Paterno has been, so to say what you would have done (and most of it has been the commentator acting like a hero and stopping the abuse) is meaningless, because you have never been in that situation, so you have no idea what you actually would have done as opposed to making up a scenario in your mind where you get to play the hero. Again, maybe I’m a cynical bastard, but I doubt many people would have done differently than what McQueary or Paterno would have done. Maybe they would.

I don’t have a problem with the moral outrage directed at Paterno, but I wonder where the rest of it is. I’ve been reading some stuff this morning about the case, and apparently so many people (including Paterno) dropped the ball on this, and he’s the only one who was fired over it. Maybe the Board gave him a chance to retire immediately and he said he wanted to finish the season, so their hand was forced, but the fact remains that he’s been the only one fired. I even read that one of the mothers suspected abuse because her son told her he’d been showering with Sandusky, and SHE didn’t call the police. Where’s the moral outrage over that? So it’s not really that Paterno is being criticized, but that the ENTIRE focus has been on him. Now that he’s gone, maybe the media will get off their asses and actually report on the story in its entirety. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I believe Paterno was the only one who was fired because Paterno was the only one not willing to resign immediately, like Schultz and Spanier both did (Curley had already gone on “leave”). Their decision to fire him only followed his announcement that he would resign after the season finished.

The whole Penn State fiasco is incredibly sad. More than anything, though, I’m disgusted by the behavior of the student body there and their response to Paterno’s saccing. All I can say is that they’re trying real hard to reinforce the view that, as far as Penn State goes, football comes first, everything else is a secondary concern. And that gets to the real heart of the case against Paterno and the institution itself. As far as I’m concerned, the program and Paterno are getting what’s coming to them, but the real tragedy is that instead of any real questioning of the culture, the fuax-victimhood exibited by the student body and Paterno’s own comments is reinforcing it.

Speaking of faux-victimhood… You know, somebody elected Peirce. And that electorate gave him enough power to enact his racist agenda. It’s not like it’s an isolated incident, either, Arizonans have been electing budget-gutting ultra conservatives for decades regardless of all the empirical evidence that they’re killing the state not just culturally (we don’t need no MLK Day?), but economically as well. No matter how much they cut the state services and budget and enact supposedly “business friendly” rules and legislation (our office down there isn’t even required to give employees a break. I’m proud that my company still offers one to our employees regardless), the economy still stinks. I feel sorry for people down there that don’t agree with their local government’s policies, but that isn’t going to stop me from being critical of the electorate and their elected officials.


I’m totally with you on Living Colour’s version of Memories Can’t Wait – that song is ace!


Brian: Sure, no doubt. I don’t know if they said “You need to retire now, not at the end of the season, and if you don’t, we’ll fire you,” but I wonder if his defiance by announcing he’d retire at the end of the season was enough. However, Curley is on administrative leave, not fired, and McQueary hasn’t been fired yet. So there’s that.

Christopher: Far be it from me to defend Arizonans, because I don’t really like it here, but a lot of states are electing conservatives who want to gut the budget. You can be critical of the electorate and the elected officials all you want, but again, to characterize everyone in Arizona as a racist conservative is ridiculous and wrong.

I guess we don’t disagree much, really. My anger is almost entirely at Sandusky, really, with some reserved for Paterno, Curley, McQueary, and Spanier…and the students who decided rioting was in any way an appropriate response to Paterno’s firing.

Right now, I think the focus has to be on determining the truth of the matter, getting justice for the children and parents who were (it seems almost certain) Sandusky’s victims over the years, and doing whatever can be or needs to be done to prevent lapses like those that occurred at Penn State from occurring again. Part of that third step probably does need to be a rapid, clean sweep of those involves. I understand that firing Paterno may also benefit the trustees, who deserve some blame for poor oversight at the very least, for unrelated reasons…but it’s hard for me to feel that possibility is terrible important at the moment.

Paterno is probably getting an unfair share of the media attention, I’ll grant you, but then, who can name any of the folks in the dogfighting ring scandal of a few years ago other than Michael Vick? Paterno is suffering in the media because he’s the fellow the world has heard of…and because, being the face of Penn State football, he was always in the position of being held publicly (if not criminally or civilly) responsible for what Penn State football personnel do. That’s part of the job, the price that goes with the rewards stemming from the position’s publicity and cultural (if not political or administrative) authority.

I think this was a comics review column, too :) Thanks for turning people on to a really great issue of The Batman Strikes this week, and for reviewing Operation Broken Wings. That’s the sort of thing I wish I heard about more at other comics sites.

On reflection, that last line should have read “comics I wish I heard about more often.” On reflection, the only comics reviews I follow are here and at House to Astonish.

Thanks, Omar. You know me – I always try to find stuff that isn’t just from DC or Marvel. It’s unfortunate that since the reboot, DC has really taken over some review sites. I mean, I get it, but they’re not the only ones publishing comics!

Spider Jerusalem

November 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

The Conversation is an amazing movie, and that’s a terrific exchange.

I’ve lived here in Arizona four years now, and guys like Pearce and Sheriff Joe “Second Coming of Bull Connor” Arpaio make me feel like I took the Time Warp back to 1963 Dixieland. I’m happy that Pearce has been sent packing – maybe it’s a sign that the insanity Republicans have been dishing out recently will come back to bite them in the ass come 2012.

Or the Mayans will be right.

Either way, it’s win-win.


November 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Batman: B&B was my most anticipated book of the week. I had a big grin whilst reading it.
It did feel a bit light in it’s resolution, and having some aliens or each others enemies mixed around, for each of the Robins to fight might have made it cooler, I liked it. I guess it had to stay a Batman book as much as I wanted more of the Robins.

Something that confuses me: I didn’t read the book but if in Brave and the Bold the Robins are from different time periods rather than different timelines or alternate earths, why would Damian not believe a girl could be a Robin? After all, wouldn’t he have been one of her successors and already have been aware of her existence?

You’re thinking too much, T.! Fisch doesn’t explain that, so you’re right to question it. Maybe Damian didn’t know that Stephanie was already Robin? Beats me. Good point, though, because the Stranger doesn’t say he took them from alternate earths, but different times. So Damian would definitely be from a time after Stephanie was Robin.


November 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

With compressed timelines, Steph was probably only Robin for a day and a half, so no one mentioned it to Damian?
Maybe he thought she went from Spoiler to Batgirl with no inbetween?
Except then you have to ask yourself why he wouldn’t know her as they were buddies of sorts, and then it becomes clear why trying to work stories based on a cartoon into a constricting comic book continuity isn’t the best way to spend one’s time.

FGJ, I’m assuming Fisch is trying to combine the cartoon continuity with the old post-Crisis 10-year-plus DC comic continuity rather than with the current compressed DCnU continuity. Especially since in the DCnU we still don’t know the status of Stephanie Brown or her history.

Actually, maybe it’s a sly commentary on how Steph was treated when she was Robin — like she didn’t count, and then (iirc) there wasn’t any memorial to her in the Batcave.

Although it’s probably likely that even if Damian WAS told about Steph as Robin, he forgot about it.

Given that his mom is/was head of the League of Assassins, I’m not sure why Damian would have a “no girls allowed” attitude anyway…

That struck me as something he’d say even in “real” continuity, just because he’s such a little jerk. In the two stories I’ve read where they’ve interacted, he’s been dismissive of her. In Batman: the Return, he glosses over her part in Batman Inc. by basically saying “Let’s talk about the important people now!” Which struck me as being hilariously dickish. I’ve missed their not hating each other by not reading much of the last Batgirl series, apparently.

Like Scott said, headbutting is very effective if the correct part of the forehead is used. Practice also helps, gradually making the front of the skull more dense. It’s what the guys who break stuff do. I’ve used the headbutt many times and it works very well.

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