Saturday, October 21, 2006

What the Sam Scratch is goin' on here?!? #14

Daredevil #318
Daredevil #318, July 1993

Friday, October 20, 2006

The disgusting habits of Miss Karen Page.

Panel from Daredevil #56
"Hmmm, I wonder if that piece of Doublemint I hid under this bench when I was twelve is still h...hey, what do you know!"

Panel from Daredevil #56
Most magnificent Roy Thomas caption yet. But what have we learned from this? That apparently Karen was a Virginia Slims kinda gal.

Panel from Daredevil #56
"Of course not, darling...why, it's not as if you became a heroin addict, starred in adult movies, and sold out the secret identity of a heroic adventurer for a drug hit."

Panels are from...can you guess?...Daredevil #56, September 1969

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let's Ask Hornhead!

Hey DD! What's your favorite Nelly Furtado album?

DD #56 panel
(Joke gleefully borrowed stolen from BeaucoupKevin)

Alternate joke: "Hey DD! What's your favorite Jaime Hernandez graphic novel?"

Panel, as is everything this week, from Daredevil #56, September 1969

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Zippedy-Dare-da, zippedy-ay

A clear sign you're in the pre-Frank Miller Daredevil universe:

Splash page of DD #56
Segment of the splash page to Daredevil #56, September 1969, an issue that's jus' delightin' the heck outta me this week.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Covers that say: "I gotta read that!"

We momentarily interrupt what is shaping up to be Daredevil #56 week for a brief comment about contemporary comics covers.

Comic Book Resources has posted the January DC solicitations, and there's a dandy buncha books comin' up to kick off 2007. Yessiree, it's a great time to be a comic book fan. I know where I will be spending some of my Christmas money! The CBR article has posted cover art to accompany virtually every title, so if you like to look and see what you'll be finding on the shelves in the future, well, take a big steaming gander at the covers! Over at Comics Should Be Good, Boistrous Brian Cronin does his usual excellent full wrap-up of the covers and what he thinks works and doesn't, but I'm gonna focus on just two covers that caught my eye:

Krypto #5 cover
Krypto the Superdog #5, and

Looney Tunes #146 cover
Looney Tunes #146.

Why do these two covers catch my little button eye? Because they're among the very few DC January covers that reflect what's going on inside the book, and they are the only ones that compel yours truly to wonder "Hey, what the Sam Scratch is happening here?...that looks interesting!...what's the story behind this cover?...I gotta read this book!"

Are those dog versions of General Zod, Ursa and Non? Why, that's just...that's just brilliant! Is that entire western town made of gold? How'd that happen? And if there's gold, gold, all around, then why oh why are Daffy and Sam scrambling for a single solitary small gold nugget? Intriguing!

Oh, sure, there are a handful of other DC January books that hint at startling scenes inside in an effort to get you to pick up the comic, but none that caught my interest so fully. Come January, I'll be plunking down my dimes on the counter for 52, Detective, Action Comics Annual, JSA, The Spirit and gosh-knows how many other nifty DC books. But I'll also be buying Looney Tunes and Krypto because even four months in advance, those covers have got me intrigued and compelled to buy the book. My point—and I do have one—is that in many ways with their pin-up or generic covers (really, why must JSA go back to boring painted Alex Ross covers with its second issue?!?), comics have lost that "I gotta read that!" feel. In the Silver Age Julie Schwartz or Mort Weisinger would commission so weird and wacky a cover that you had to find out why Jimmy Olsen was Luthor's butler or Superman was made of limburger cheese, and then write the story around it. I'm not suggesting the industry go back to an age of covers come first, stories after, but if you want to intrigue and hook a new comics reader, you're less likely to do it with a pin-up cover than one that hints at a fun concept and interesting story.

At least it's nice that the artists designing covers for the Johnny DC younger reader's line over at DC seem to get that. The art of drawing the reader in with a compelling comics cover seemingly isn't lost—but somedays, in this age of pin-ups and series uniformity and superstar guest artists, a Compelling Comics Cover™ seems too good an idea to be ghettoized mostly to comics intended for primarily young readers.

I'm a cowboy; on a clear horse I ride.

Y'know, I really don't understand some super-villains.

Not all. Just some. Doctor Doom makes perfect sense to me. He's driven by three motivations: To rule the Earth. To rescue his dead mother from the bowels of hell. To destroy the accursed Richards. You've gotta respect a guy whose supervillainy can be so succinctly boiled down into a three-point "to do" list.

Lex Luthor makes sense to me too. Depending on which era you're readin', he's either got a mad-on for Superman because of his lost hair or his lost superiority over Metropolis. Lex likes being Number One, whether it's as a ruthless businessman, President of the United States, or evil science genius. And he uses his brilliance and keen science know-how to make himself bajillions of big Luthor bucks that he no doubt rolls around in naked every afternoon in between board meetings. You have to respect a man whose policy it is to use his super-intellect to make himself filthy stinkin' rich. (Not so much his Superman-killing policy.)

Which brings me to the definitely-lower level of science villain who's smart and savvy enough to create technology powerful enough to at least temporarily go up against Spider-Man or Superman or Batman or the Flash, but doesn't cash in on it: what's his story, I always wonder? Why has the megalomania gotten in the way of him seeing that he just developed a dandy radioactive-powered ice gun for which world conglomerates would pay millions to lease or buy the technology, and instead decide to use it to rob the Second National Bank of Keystone City? You know, I'm a tiny little stuffed bull who sometimes has trouble reaching the Lucky Charms on the top shelf: I'd gladly pay for a handy home version of extending stilt legs to get at the cookie jar. Let's not even think about the military applications of an army of Stilt-Men. (Actually, let's do: soldiers striding fearlessly across harsh terrain on giant metal extending stilts: cool!) So why use that creative genius to become a second-rate supervillain instead of a world-class rich guy, awash in caviar, Ferarris, and all the leggy supermodels you can wrap your arms around?

Let's take Daredevil villain Death's-Head, for example. This creepy creepster creeps rides around on a glowing, skeletal horse:

Panel from Daredevil #56
All panels in this post are from Daredevil #56, September 1969

Now you may be asking, "Bully! What possible real-world consumer application could a transparent horse have? Sure, it might be humorous to see them race at Aqueduct, but aside from the entertainment value...?" And that's where you're wrong, true believer! As DD later explains:

Panel from Daredevil #56

"Treated so its flesh was transparent and only the bones could be seen." Now, let's leave aside how blind, radar-dependent DD can tell how something is transparent (really, Matt, to you there should be no difference between a white porcelain horse and a clear glass one) and instead focus on the genius of the idea: Death's-Head has created a process through which flesh, muscle, and organs can be rended invisible so the skeletal structure inside can be seen. Improbable, maybe, but hey, we're talking about the Marvel Universe so I'll give that a pass. (The only thing higher than the levels of radioactivity and magic in the Marvel Universe are the suspensions of disbelief.) What's utterly improbable is that Death's-Head is using the genius serum to perform a cut-rate Scooby Doo routine to scare Karen and Ma Page off the old homestead instead of cashing in on the millions to be made using the process as a medical breakthrough. He woulda gotta away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling Page kids and their pesky Devil!

Just think about it: Need to see if a bone is broken or cracked or mishapen? No need for an x-ray; just brush on Miracle Fluid X and take a big steamin' gawk straight at it. You could probably use it for pre-natal examination of a baby, or checking for head trauma, or determining right at the emergency scene if a limb is broken. Modern medicine would pay millions for such a procedure! Again, there's got to be some military application as well: it's near-invisibility, and with some black-ops tweaking could possibly put Sue Storm out of business and make it a heckuva lot easier for Marvel artists to draw the adventures of Nick Fury. Why, what could possibly go wrong with such a medical breakthrough? There are no drawbacks, no shortcomings, no possible or conceivable arguments against using such a process on humans...

Panel from Daredevil #56


Never mind.

Okay, super-villainy it is, then!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Matt Murdock, Smooth Operator

Daredevil #56 panel
(From Daredevil #56, September 1969)

DAREDEVIL: Karen, your father...according to this picture, he had such smooth pores! And a silky, glossy complexion. And such a blank expression and glassy stare!
KAREN: Daredevil, why are you rubbing the glass on my father's framed photo?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bonus Two of a Kind: Just walk away, C.K.

Always an X-Men fan, Kal-El decides to get in on the "she's leaving home, bye bye" act:

Ten of a Kind: How can I miss you when you won't go away?

(More Ten of a Kind here.)