Saturday, September 02, 2006

What the Sam Scratch is goin' on here?!? #8

Marvel Premiere #52

The Klan? Vile, despicable racists. The perfect villains for the Black Panther to fight. You'll cheer when he bangs their bigoted heads together. I'm not questioning the appropriateness or story potential of that.

On the other hoof, who the Sam Scratch at Marvel thought it was a good idea to appropriate the logo design of the world's greatest band for that of the Klan?

Kiss logo

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Many Fashions of Miss Lois Lane seen in tiny, tiny sidebar illustrations from covers of Superman Family:

The "Vivienne Westwood"

The "Daisy Duke"

The "Mary Richards"

The "Rhoda Morgenstern"

The "Lion Tamer"

The "R. Crumb"

The "Jim Fixx"

(Incidentally, the "Jim Fixx" look is totally sweeping Metropolis...)

The "Rorschach"

The "Eskimo Nell"

The "Sally Struthers's Would You Like to Make More Money Learning Computer Programming At Home? Sure We All Do"

The "Salu Digby"

The "Jimmy Olsen"

(By the way, Lois, why are you taking so many photos of Jimmy's crotch?)

The "Taxi!"

The "Oh #@$!, I Stepped in Krypto Poop!"

The "Lois Waves Goodbye After Her Fashion Humiliations"

Yes, truly, these were The Greatest Lois Lane Stories Ever.

Dedicated with respect for the King of Superhero Fashion Blogging, Blockade Boy

Thursday, August 31, 2006

In which a blind man walks straight into the fourth wall.

From Daredevil King-Size Special #1 (1967):

From DD Annual #1

KAREN: Um, Matt, we're behind you...
FOGGY: Shhhh!

From DD Annual #1

Thus proving Foggy and Karen are more rock stupid than Lois and Jimmy.

From DD Annual #1

Remember when Daredevil used to be this fancy-free and jubilant? Yeah, me neither.

From DD Annual #1

Look out! He's headed straight for the fourth wall! Look out, Matt! Save us, Grant Morrison!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Twelve of Nine.

This past Sunday I took my lucky readers on a journey across the solar system through comic book covers. Hope your luggage didn't get lost on the trip! Some worlds and planet references were easier to find than others: Mars, f'r instance, is wonderfully overrepresented in the comics world with red planets, barbarians, green superheroes and plenty of wars of worlds to choose from. There were rather less options open with, say, Uranus, and though my choice was obscure, as least I didn't have to resort to a cover of Ant bending over (think about or, or better yet, please don't).

My choice for the just-ousted, don’t-come-’round-here-no-more ninth planet, Pluto, the Rodney Dangerfield of the Solar System, was an obvious one, but the always-ten-steps-ahead Fortress Keeper showed a little more ingenuity when he unearthed a doozy of a Pluto cover that makes me green and gassy with envy. Now there's a Pluto who ain’t takin’ no guff, pallie!

And because we here at "Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun" believe in givin' you more bang for your internet buck, here's the Criterion DVD-style extra outtakes of three covers I was oh-so-sorely tempted to use, but they didn't quite make the cut—and they're all from the wonderfully wacky Strange Adventures. First, for Saturn, I loves me the Jemm, Son of Saturn series something fierce, so I couldn't resist using one of Genial Gene Colan's covers to rep the ringed giant, but this one was an exceptionally close second:
Strange Adventures #156

Here's a runner-up for the Earth entry that just got squeaked out by one of my favorite Legion covers, but this one has a goofy charm all its own. Hey, how much freaking bigger is that moon harpoon than the one he's about to shoot at the Earth?
Strange Adventures #103

Which makes me pause and think: since the comic book world is chock-full o' crossovers and team-ups, what do you think would happen if the stars of those two comics decided to band together in an issue of Planet Team-Up comics? Why, I think it would go something like this:
Strange Adventures #103

(All images are from the indispensible Grand Comic Book Database, a comic book cover-obsessed little stuffed bull's best pal. Bookmark it today!)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Civil War: The Original Series

Civil War: TOS
And now: a little Civil War pageant written by Bully, starring Bully (me!) and my kid sister Marshall:

Scene: The White House, September, 1862. President ABRAHAM LINCOLN (Bully) is working at his desk. Enter General ULYSSES S. GRANT (Marshall)

LINCOLN (Bully): Hi hi hi Sam!
GRANT (Marshall): Hi hi hi hi hi Mister President!
LINCOLN: How goes this terrible, costly war of ours? We'll still win the war by Christmastime, right?
GRANT: Well, that's kinda what I wanted to talk to you about. We're a little behind schedule.
LINCOLN: Behind schedule? How is that possible? Didn't we plan all this out?
GRANT: Well, some battles are running a little late, so we had to reschedule the whole bunch of them.
LINCOLN: Isn't that a kick in the pants! Isn't there anything you can do?
GRANT: Not unless you can change the course of time and the laws of physics, Mister President.
LINCOLN: What about that thing where I sent all my other generals the same whiskey you were drinking? Didn't that work?
GRANT: I act'lly think that's part of the problem in the first place, Mister President.
LINCOLN: Did you tell them that a house divided against itself cannot stand?
GRANT: Yes, but everybody was kinda confused by that House of L thing. Does General Lee still have all his powers after it or what? Even I'm not sure from month to month.
LINCOLN: Well. That's not good news. What kind of delay are we looking at? January? March?
GRANT: April, at least, sir.
LINCOLN: Well then, by next Spring, we'll...
GRANT: April '64, Mister President.
LINCOLN: Golly. That's a big delay.
GRANT: At least by '64. Maybe later.
LINCOLN: Can't we just do a fill-in battle or something?
GRANT: That won't be very popular, sir. We'll get skewered in the telegraphosphere by all the War buffs.
LINCOLN: Well, there's not much to be done, then, is there? If we can't do it fast, we can at least do it right. It's the least we owe the fans.
GRANT: And the soldiers, sir.
LINCOLN: Well, duh.
OFFSTAGE VOICE: Mister Frederick Douglass is here to see you, President Lincoln.
LINCOLN: Send him in. Ah, my good friend Douglass! How are you?
DOUGLASS (Samuel L. Jackson): Abe! What's this I hear about the mother****ing War running late?
(ALL turn to audience and bow. Everyone APPLAUDS. Exeunt.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Shatner knows.

I've spent a happy afternoon reading William Shatner's new Star Trek novel, Captain's Glory—one of the few Trek books I've enjoyed in several years, and this is from a bull who used to buy every single one of 'em every month on the dot.

Consider the fact that the book was released a couple weeks ago, and of course would have been finished and sent to the printer several months ago when you read this prophetic section (page 91, for those of you playing along at home—bold type is mine for emphasis):
Earth and her solar system had been tamed generations ago. Each planet, moon, and major asteroid mapped to resolutions that banished all mysteries. The domed cities of the moon allowed families to picnic by Earthlight. Mars had green fields and blue oceans, fresh clean air, skiing at the poles, and soon, according to the environmental engineers, burgeoning rain forests would arise in the equitorial lowlands. Even the vast, underground data repositories and museums of Pluto had stripped the romance from that distant world, still considered a planet by tradition, if not by astronomers.

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, even months ahead of time, Shatner knows. Shatner knows.

Captain Kirk

Two bits of bullish clarification:
1. Yeah, I know the discussion about whether or not Pluto would be considered a planet has actually been underway in the astronomical community for a couple years now. Still, you can't deny the fact that Shatner knows.
2. Okay, I know it's highly unlikely that William Shatner actually put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in writing this novel. But it's not half as exciting to say "Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens know" as it is to declare to the universe that Shatner knows.

The DC Answer Bull

One week ago I discussed the totally awesome Batman Family comics, and the ubiquitous (thank you, Word-of-the-Day Calendar!) Anonymous correctly pointed out that despite my joke at the expense of Kryptonians, there was indeed a Superman Family comic book, which for many of its issues featured a cool cover design: small individual panels on the cover teasing each separate short story in the book, playing up its diversity and fun at the same time reassuring you with that seventies DC style that you were getting much, much more than a single story in the comic, oh yea, buy it now, buster!

Some of my favorite Superman Family covers take that "must buy" tease one step further and challenge you to find out the answers to dramatically-posed questions within the covers of the book. That's a long-gone art, isn't it? Done well, with compelling art and intriguing questions, stuff like that ratchets a comic book up from "Yawn...another Superman issue" to "I must read this comic book!" F'r instance, here's the question-heavy cover of Superman Family #210:
Superman Family #210

See what I mean? I betcha you're dying to find out the answers to all those thrilling questions, right? (I know I am!) But since I don't have a copy of Superman Family #210 in front of me, well, I'll just have to get out my Batman Junior Detection Kit and focus all the energy of my little stuffed grey cells on the matter at hand to answer the questions on the cover of Superman Family #210 for you, okay?

Let's take a look at the questions up close:

Q: Which villain wears the magical mask that has trapped Mr. & Mrs. Superman?
A: Golly. I'm no Ralph Dibny an' my nose doesn't twitch when I smell a mystery, but take a look at that green button-down shirt and those sensible brown dockers. That's Luthor, I bet. Check out the all-too-Luthor-esque (Luthorish? Luthoran?) stance, too. And you'd think Mr. Superman would know that, unless the mask is lined with lead. That's an easy one. But what about:

Q: Who are Jimmy Olsen's doubles?
A: That's a tougher one. Knowing Jimmy, Man of Action, the way we do, that could be clones, time-travelling duplicates, imposters with rubber masks, or maybe even robots programmed to destroy Superman, disrupt the Daily Planet, and double-date Lucy Lane. But check out the suits on Jimmy-2 and Jimmy-3: sensible dark jackets (well, okay, one looks purple) that no doubt came from the Men's Warehouse or maybe even J. C. Penney instead of Jimmy's usual green plaid jacket that he picked up at Bibbo's garage sale. That's why I choose to believe these guys are actually Jimmy of Earth-Q—refugees from an Earth where the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy quintet have worked over Superman's Pal to give him a sense of style and pride that you can't get from a green plaid jacket. Yes, totally Earth-Q.

Either that or Robin and Speedy in rubber masks playing a practical joke to teach Jimmy a hilarious lesson. Either one.

Q: How can Clark Kent write the news before it happens?
A: Easy one. He cheats. He's a big stinkin' journalistic cheatypants. Turn in that Pulitzer,'s tainted with the tears of Great Caesar's Ghost. Next question?

Q: What gives Supergirl that sinking feeling?
A: Uh, I dunno...could it be the knowledge that in twenty-five years she's going to look like a taffy-stretched teen harlot Lolita who could really use a sandwich, a pair of underpants and maybe some of her ribcage back?:

Q: Why does this dog mean trouble for Lois Lane?
A: Because that's Ms. Lion, Lois! Ms. Lion!
Step away from the Ms. Lion, Lois! If you know what's good for you, please, please put down the Ms. Lion!

Finally, this one isn't posed on the cover, but it seems an obvious enough question to me: Q: How can one comic fit so much actiony goodness between two covers for a mere dollar?

A: Because that's DC of the early eighties for ya: they knew how to give you plenty of fun and great value for your money!

Happy Birthday, Jack!

What If? #11

To me, you're still a hero as mighty as Ben Grimm, Jack. Happy birthday, King.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Alive from snout to tail."

And...we're back.

Max Weinberg, folks. Max Weinberg. Isn't he great?

Oh, wait...I'm channeling the wrong "we're back."

We're back from Chicago, the Windy City, City of Big Shoulders, Hog Petter to the World. Much deep dish pizza and many Portillo's hot dogs were consumed, and although there were no Oprah sightings, I'm pretty sure I spotted Stedman riding on the Pink Line with me. I took in the Art Institute and stood in awe for a long, long time before my favorite painting. Then I went to the gift shop and bought a lotta pencils. And it's not a perfect Chicago day if it doesn't end with a box of hot, sweet Garrett Popcorn Shop carmelcorn. It's worth the long wait in line, believe me, and if you get sticky hooves while eating it, why, just do what I do: lick 'em off!

One thing I didn't get to do was head to one of the finest comic book shops in the country, Chicago Comics. The busy sales conference schedule and rainy days kept me from wandering anywhere far off the Miracle Mile. But as a great man once said, "Wednesdays are Wednesdays wherever you are," so I did trot down to the pleasant and well-stocked Graham Crackers Comics on Madison Street. It's a fun shop with a lot of foot traffic and has an excellent selection of back issues as well as the current stuff. It's definitely a different beast than Chicago Comics, but Bully gives it two hooves up.

Comics this week therefore receive, in addition to my patented fun/sorta fun/not fun grading system, an additional Chicagonometer of comic book funness: each book will also be graded on something you find in Chicago that is fun, sorta fun, or not fun. Will I be tougher on comics from Chicago than from New York? Well, as Fred Allen once said: "Things are so tough in Chicago that at Easter time, for bunnies the little kids use porcupines."

JLA #1JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1: This comic is not fun. Why, it's as not fun as the Eisenhower Expressway at rush hour: it's slow, confusing, and doesn't really get you where you want to be. Believe me, I had high hopes for the new JLA: the last couple reinventions of DC's flagship team title have been classics and I'm very fond of them. I'm willing to forgive last month's teaser comic Justice League of America #0: it had no true plot but I don't consider a zero issue part of the real series. But a number one not only carries the weight of all my expectations for a comic but, while it doesn't necessarily have to hit the ground running at full speed, at least has to have a forward-moving plot that's compelling, clear and makes you want to read #2. JLA #1 had none of that: a lot of talking heads (more accurately, headless talking heads with colored speech captions), a long and involved Red Tornado B-plot that feels stilted and dragging to me, too many tears and oh-so-precious dialogue by Brad "Read my book!" Meltzer. Where's Starro? Where's the White Martians? Where's any sort of solid action and energy? It isn't here, I'm sorry to say. JLA #1 is too self-absorbed in its playing with the yarn of leftover Infinite Crisis threads, and this reminds me too much of Identity Crisis in look and feel for it to be fun for me. For the moment, here's my League comic book. This was my Pick Up One New Comic Title I Haven't Been Reading book for the week, but I wasn't charmed. I may check in again with JLA when a new storyline or creators start.

52 Week 1652 WEEK 16: This comic is sorta sorta fun as that giant Picasso statue you see in downtown Chicago—you know you're s'posed to appreciate it but you don't necessarily understand it, and while you might get a kick out of seeing it it's not the best thing there is to sightsee in Chicago. Weddings are usually fun, especially if there is plenty of yummy, yummy wedding cake, and it's nice to see a wedding follow after last week's 52 death. As much as I'm been enjoying the Black Adam/Isis storyline, however, this week is riddled with so many holes you can drive the Question-Mobile through 'em: Montoya makes so many leaps in detective logic to get to the conclusion she does that Batman ought to step up to her and smack her upside the head. Unless the bomb was either planned by Adam or Isis, or is a diversion for something else that's happening behind the scenes, it was a fairly scattershot and risky plan for the normally quite-organized Intergang, don't you think? I'm also confused: is Billy Batson still crazy now, or what? Does that explain why he thinks highly of Adam? He certainly didn't have that opinion in JSA, and I can't believe Captain Marvel condones some of Adam's public actions. And since the rat poison was present two weeks ago, and it's only this week that Adam popped the, if you'll pardon the expression, Question, how did Intergang know to...oh, my little stuffed brain hurts. (And does the reading line on the front of the cover for the Animal Man/Starfire/Adam Strange subplot really say "Far Out Space Nuts"?) But even with all that, 52 is a fun and rollicking ride most weeks—this week it's just a little off. And I'm not saying that just because I didn't catch the bouquet!

Bart Simpson #31BART SIMPSON #31: This comic is sorta fun. I think most regular readers of my reviews know I'm a sucker for Bongo Comics: they're the most reliably fun entire publishing line as far as this little stuffed reader is concerned. Some Bongo ishs are excellent, others are good if not great comics: like this week's Bart Simpson #31. Two short stories (Bart wins a toy store shopping spree, and Maggie and Moe solve a mystery) and a pair of two-page comedy fillers give you a lot of yucks for your three bucks, but it's definitely not up to the caliber of the TV show or the best of this series. Like the giant Picasso statue, you'll appreciate the skill in making it but you probably won't visit it twice in one trip.

Heroes for Hire #1HEROES FOR HIRE #1: This comic is fun. How much fun? Why, as fun as a big piping-hot Chicago deep dish pizza, that's how much fun! In the words of the fearless Fortress Keeper last week in a comment to one of my reviews, "That's the strange—and frustrating—thing about Marvel these days. They can totally mess up their flagship characters, yet print a totally awesome comic starring Venus and Gorilla Man." I'll say the same thing about the cast members of Heroes for Hire: while I wasn't a huge fan of the back-archin', hip-thrustin' posing of the Daughters of the Dragon series, I still enjoyed the over-the-top adventure aspect of it, and I gotta give props to two of my fave seventies characters, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, reinvented for the twenty-first century. It's good solid action, funny dialogue, interesting new characters mixing with classic old ones (Shang-Chi is always welcome in my book, and hey, who doesn't love Orka?), and it's got a Defenders-vibe goin' on where lots of Marvel characters can drop in to be part of the team for a short arc and then bop away again. The riffs on Misty as Marvel's version of Power Girl are likely to get old real fast, though, so watch that, guys. (And who wears a top with arrows pointing to their breasts like that?!) But it's nice to have a Colleen that looks Asian for once, and you gotta love a comic with so many cute girls kicking ass. I even like the new Tarantula and her pointy chus! This sort of comic demands a light touch, so we'll see if the fun continues. I'm not quite certain kicking off the series with a Civil War tie-in cover is the best way to attract buyer attention on the comic book store shelves, however.

Wonder Woman #2WONDER WOMAN #2: This comic is not fun. Cute girls kicking ass? You'd think this book would be full of that, wouldn't you? I liked issue #1 a lot but the combination of the wait for this one and a less-than-spectacular issue #2 might drop this from my list faster than the sandals of Hermes. Sure, Emma Peel Diane Prince is here, and crazy, crazy Cassie Sandsmark pops in, but the one thing missing from Wonder Woman is, uh, Wonder Woman: the only real Wonder Woman action comes in two pages of flashback at the beginning. I've got zero problem with Donna, um, donning the tiara and bracelets, but she spends this entire issue as a Wonder Pendant to Giganta, which is a dandy visual but a lot less Wondy action that I hoped to see. There's some great ideas at work here and the artwork is just fine, but this was a big-time disappointment to me and I'll be only cautiously checking out issue #3 in September October or later to see if there's any pick-up. Coz #2 ought to be ramping up the action, but so far it's as devoid of a real Wonder Woman as Eisenhower Expressway at rush hour. Unless, of course, you're carpooling with Lynda Carter, which I highly recommend to anyone.

Eternals #3ETERNALS #3: This comic is sorta fun. Eternals #3 suffers a bit from mid story-line slowdown but I'm still enjoying it: I loves me some Gaiman, although this is by far nowhere near Neil's top work by any means. Still, a slightly pedestrian comic by Neil Gaiman still has a lot going for it. His riff on Jack Kirby's cosmic heroes is a much quieter, mysterious and deliberate comic than Jack would have done, and I'm all for that—and I think maybe Jack would appreciated that aspect of this Eternals: there's always been an excess of creators trying to do Jack's characters in the Kirby manner, and it's always a breath of fresh air when someone puts a new and differently-toned twist on them (I felt much the same about Grant Morrison's version of Mister Miracle). Where this comic loses points for me is in its Civil War-centric plotline: too much emphasis on a storyline likely to be forgotten or brushed under the cosmic carpet in a few years lessens, not strengthens, this series for me. Gaiman is an expert at pulling rabbits out of hats, but I can't imagine there's going to be a twist that will explain why this series must be a Civil War tie-in in the final issue. (If there is, and I like it, I'll eat my little cowboy hat, 'kay Mister Gaiman?) In the end it's fun but probably a story that would best be read all together or in the trade, but as I'm halfway there I'll keep buying the reg'lar issues and pass up the paperback. Like that giant Picasso statue, it's not the greatest of works by a great artist, but you've gotta admire the mastery even if you don't understand every element of it.

Batman #656BATMAN #656: This comic is fun. Two issues in a row Grant Morrison's Batman has captured the coveted Bully most fun comic of the week award. Is it because of ninja man-bats? Gorgeous and dynamic Andy Kubert art? Batman actually acting like a smart fighter for the first time in a long time? My favorite goofball element of the story, pop art acting as commentary for the action? The return of Talia (although watch the outfit, Andy: as I often tell Greg Horn, fabric don't stretch like that's been sewn specially to separately)? Is it The Best Line of the Week: "Father. I imagined you taller."? Well, it's all those things and more: just the basic fact that Batman is good solid back-to-the-basics Batfun, and even when you make a quibble (Bruce Wayne's in London, so's Batman, so why does nobody put two and two together?) it's a call-back to a simpler, more dynamic time when ultra-realism concerning secret identities is maybe less important than an action-filled story. And, may I repeat: ninja man-bats! That's why this comic is the equivalent of the most fun person in Chicago, the grand master of oral history and a fine fellow whose observational skills rival Batman: the great Studs Terkel. I've met Studs (you can't even think of him as Mister Terkel) several times in conjunction with both publishing-world work and just plain-running-into-him-on-the-sidewalks-of-the-Loop serendipity, and a more genuine and intelligent yet enthusiastically friendly guy I've yet to meet. This bull salutes you, Studs, and when I compare you to Batman, that's my highest praise, old chum!

Ten of a Kind: So, my very educated mother...

(More Ten of a Kind here.)