Saturday, February 11, 2012

Same Story, Different Cover: Bad Wolf

L: Doctor Who Weekly #30 (UK, May 7, 1980), pencils and inks by Dave Gibbons
R: Doctor Who #3 (US, December 1984), pencils and inks by Dave Gibbons, colors by George Roussos
(Click picture to The Doctor's scarf-size)

Doctor Who #3 reprinted parts 1-4 of "The Dogs of War," which were originally printed in Doctor Who Weekly #30 (above) and Doctor Who Weekly #27-29 (below).

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 42

Panels from Batman: Castle of the Bat (1994), script by Jack C. Harris,
painted art by Bo Hampton, letters by Tracy Hampton-Munsey

Friday, February 10, 2012

Today in Comics History: Well, she's no Lori Lemaris...

Today in comics history, on February 10 of the sixteenth year after a Kryptonite rocket crashed and ruined about four hundred linear yards of prime Kansas farmland as sure as if the earth had been burned and salted, a parable, or fable, or perhaps Suparable, is about to take place in the very classrooms of Smallville High, home of the undefeated football team the Fighting Luthors. While Young Joker chortles in the foreground (seriously, purple and green?), Young Crystal of the Inhumans lets a worried teen Clark Kent in on a practical joke they're about to play on one of their teachers.

Panels from "The Old Maid of Smallville!" in Superboy v.1 #83 (September 1960), script by Jerry Siegel, pencils and inks by Al Plastino

Why, those little rapscallions...making fun of their elders. As Clark says, "don't make fun at someone who isn't beautiful, because Superboy will crush you into tiny cubes." Or something like that. Anyway, we've all known kids like this, who give the word bully a bad name, and they're about to learn a lesson. A...Super-Lesson.

So what is Clark about to do? Take these two punks around the world to show that the myriad views and perceptions of human beauty? Take them forward to the 30th Century and show them that in the world of the Legion of Super-Heroes, no one judges another by their physical looks anymore (which explains how Chuck Taine got married to two hotties at once)? Take them to an abandoned cave outside Smallville and seal them inside a cave until they have to resort to cannibalism? Lead them down Crime Alley ten minutes before Zorro gets out? No, actually...none of these. Superboy chooses to make his teacher more conventionally "beautiful" rather than teach his classmates to have more acceptance and less cruelty to those not like them. Nice going, Clarkie. You should be ashamed of yourself. And for that time you set Lex's hair on fire. His beautiful, luxurious hair! No wonder your real parents sent you away, you Kryptonian jerk.

Anyway: Superboy's first step in turning a "dud" into a dream is to force her into an unwanted wet-tee-shirt contest.

Didn't Ma Kent warn Superboy against reading the clothing tags on women's' outfits? It's only polite, and more to the point, it's the sort of thing you don't do in Kansas. I think it's actually on their state flag.

So her clothes shrink and as everyone knows today, smaller clothing = more attractive. If you read the minutes of the Justice League of America members' meetings (held 22,300 miles above the earth), you can actually see Hawkman having a problem trying to put down on paper the actual sound of Wonder Woman punching Superman when she found out about this story.

Then, it's time to muss up her hair! Because, of course, they are no more hairpins left in Smallville so this dramatic change could never be reversed. This is probably the reason why Jonathan Kent eventually gave up farming and opened a general store in town: the county-wide demand for hairpins, not to mention the Kryptonite-spawned monsters that periodically tore up his land and ate his cows. With relish.

Superboy then finds it necessary to go to the moon—bwah-ha-ha-ha—to get crystal to make—heh ehh haw haw haw!—contact lenses in her exact prescription BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Then he breaks her glasses. Well that certainly is dedication to truth, justice, the American Way and vandalism, Kal. Why don't you just fly back in time and prevent her parents from having such an "ugly" child? I mean, nothing went the least bit wrong when you tried to prevent the birth of Hitler, right? Remember that? (see SUPERMAN AND THE HIDEOUS NAZI-EARTH FUTURE HISTORY GONE WRONG #1-12.)

Thus Superboy invents the contact lens, conveniently forgetting they were first invented by Leonardo da Vinci and made practical by scientists in 1801 and 1887. I bet he had this sort of discussion with Lois all the time when they were married. "Look, Clark, Perry gave us this beautiful Waring blender for our wedding. Say, did you know bandleader Fred Waring invented this?" "No, Lois, I did." Looks like the only things Superboy actually invented were hair loss and being a butthead.

"Oh, Superboy, I can get those repaired at Clem Hayseed's Opticians in Smallville..." "Nope! I've burned them away into dust! Done the same thing with your old-fashioned support undergarments, too!"

Then, something happens with a robot or an alien or somebody; I dunno, at this point I'm just waiting for the end where Pa Kent paddles Clark with an iron bar for being such a super-jerk. Needless to say, an electrocution death is waiting for someone. Later, the young son of this robot or alien will take a solemn vow to fight crime after a giant pocket calculator crashes through his window. "That's it," he vows grimly. "I shall become...a Brainiac!"

Later, Superboy sets up his teacher on a blind date with Saxton Hale, manliest man of all time...who is, for some reason, cosplaying as...well, Jimmy Olsen, I guess. Look, I didn't write the thing, I just read it, okay?

So, let's all celebrate February 10, the day that Superboy was a complete jerk. Well, February 10th: one of the three-hundred sixty-five days of the year he was, at least.

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 41

Panels from Batman & Robin Adventures #13 (December 1996), script by Ty Templeton, pencils by Brandon Kruse, inks by Rick Burchett, colors by Linda Medley, letters by Tim Harkins

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Zen of Batman: Blackmail

From Batman: "Barbecued Batman?" (September 22, 1966), written by Francis Cockrell and Marian Cockrell; directed by Murray Golden

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 40

Page from Batman Secret Files one-shot (October 1997), text by Scott Beatty, pencils and inks by Lee Weeks, colors by Tom McCraw,

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Series of advertisements for Kraft Caramels that ran in Dell Comics in 1960-1961 (from top to bottom, in Andy Panda #50 and #54, Adventures of Mighty Mouse #151, and Gunsmoke #25

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 39

Panels from "Batman: Black & White: Broken Nose" in Batman: Gotham Knights #3 (May 2000), script, pencils and inks by Paul Pope; letters by John Workman

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

What the Dickens

I oughta know when to keep my little stuffed mouth shut! Today I noticed via the magical medium of Google

that it's the 200th birthday of the man who invented Christmas and urban poverty, Charles Dickens. Happy birthday, Chuck! Where I made my mistake was in running to tell my pal John, who suggested that since I was studying English Literature in my homeschooling, that I should write a report about the life of Dickens. You know, John, some things you just wanna celebrate, not turn into homework.

So I ran down to the hermetically sealed and climate-controlled Bully Big Vault o' Comics, hopped into my little electric cart and drove a few minutes to aisle C, section 17, where I pulled out one of my copies of Classics Illustrated and brought this page back to John:

Text page from Classics Illustrated #6 [A Tale of Two Cities] (September 1948)

Wow, what a downer of an ending. I think it would be a good idea to add onto that, like, he came back from the dead to fight zombies with the aid of a combination giant steampunk robot and time machine. Anyway, John said I had to write my own report. (Spoilsport.) So I took the express elevator back down to the vault and here's what I came up with.

Charles Dickens
My Report
by Bully (age 6) (me)

Charles Dickens is a very very very famous author who is famous for writing many comic books.

Throughout his career he created many exciting action characters, most of whom will be familiar to all you comic book readers.

(Left to right: Thrash-Guy and his son, Bat-Man and Bat-Girl plus Magpie the Wonder Cat, Old Skulky, Capt. & Mrs. Crunch, Napoleon Bonaparte, The Dancing Duet, Punchinello the Clown, Spider-Rider, Two Old Ladies with an Umbrella and a Bottle of Gin, Flag-Head, Falling-Over Guy, The Ghost Kids, Helicopter Lad, The Guy Who Says Talk-to-the-Hand, Miss Floaty and Daughter, Raven-Man, The Fighting Irish, Cylinder-Head, and Mister Inkwell.)

Charles Dickens is often remembered for having met The Spectre at a Christmas party, where they exchanged really clever Secret Santa gifts.

Panels from The Spectre v.4 #12 (February 2002), script by J. M. DeMatteis, pencils and inks by Ryan Sook, colors by Guy Major, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Later, he taught writing and advanced beatnikism to Patsy Walker, the runner-up winner in the Sweetheart of Earth-616 Competition (just behind Millie the Model).

Panels from Patsy & Hedy #75 (April 1961), script by Stan Lee, pencils and inks by Al Hartley

During the tumultuous nineties, he moonlighted as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.*:

Panel from Ultimate Spider-Man v.2 #9 (June 2010), script by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils and inks by David Lafuente, colors by Justin Ponsor, letters by Cory Petit

Later he met his untimely violent death at the hands of The Joker! We'll miss you, Charles Dickens.

Panel from Detective Comics v.1 #85 (March 1944), script by Bill Finger, layouts by Ed Kressy, finishes and letters by Dick Sprang

As we have seen, Charles Dickens was a great man. But did he ever get his picture on a trading card?

Why, yes. Yes he did. Twice!

So, in conclusion, Charles Dickens was such a great man that they published his biography in yet another issue of Classics Illustrated.

Text page from Classics Illustrated #48 [A Christmas Carol] (June 1948)

*Surely He's Inscribing Elegantly Like Dickens

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 38

Panels from Batman Forever: The Official Comic Adaptation of the Warner Bros. Motion Picture (July 1995), script by Dennis O'Neil, pencils by Michal Dutkiewicz, inks by Scott Hanna, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by Albert DeGuzman

Monday, February 06, 2012

Like a clone, smartly dressed in your pressed uniform

Well, I for one didn't think that Madonna's outfit at the Super Bowl was all that bad. In fact, I kinda liked the Asgardian influence. Get Jack Kirby in there to add a few more epaulets and shoulder pads and it's pretty much something you'd expect Sif's kid sister (Tiff) to wear during one of those big-ass Norse god parties they're always having, with Odin at the head of the table, Loki skulking behind the arras, and the mashed potatoes never even getting past Volstagg.

You couldn't even say it's the worst outfit ever, because I think that award has to go to Miss Katherine Juno Pryde of Deerfield, Illinois for her infamous entry "Colorblind Disco Zap Girl."

Panel from Uncanny X-Men #149 (September 1981), script by Chris Claremont, loose breakdowns by Dave Cockrum, finishes by Joe Rubinstein, colors by Don Warfield, letters by Janice Chiang

Yep, this crime against optic nature debuted in Uncanny X-Men #149 and lasted through the following issue, where Magneto took such pity on her fashion sense that he spared the X-Men from their untimely deaths by magnets. You can try to claim it's not canon because it wasn't lettered by Tom Orzechowski (which, come to think of it, is a really good way to determine your personal X-Canon), but it happened. As Cyclops is fond of saying: "AIEEEEEEE MY EYES!"

This krazy kreation by Kitty is also an occasion for another "Professor X Is a Jerk" entry:

Chuck is really critical of Kitty's "costume" (note that word), even though, hey, Charley: pot, meet kettle:

Panels from Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985), script by Chris Claremont, breakdowns by John Romita, Jr., finishes by Dan Green, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Tom Orzechowski

So I wouldn't be that critical, Professor. Well, at least it coulda been could have been Thor's outfit from Thor #498:

Panel portion from Thor #498 (May 1996), scriot by William Messner-Loebs, pencils by Pino Rinaldi, inks by Andy Lanning, colors by Marie Javins, letters by Jonathan Babcock

Anyway, my point (you know the rest of that phrase) is that this infamous Kitty Pryde/Sprite/Ariel/Shadowcat/Li'l Intangible outfit is seen again, years later, in Wolverine: First Class #12, a continuity implant tale that takes place immediatel following X-Men #150. Say goodbye to Kitty Pryde, the Disco Era.

Panels from Wolverine: First Class #12 (April 2009), script by Fred Van Lente, pencils and inks by Scott Koblish, colors by Ulises Arreola, letters by Joe Caramagna

Pull up your seats, students: Professor Logan is about to tell us the official term to refer to one of those skintight unstable-molecule outfits all our favorite superheroes (except Lockjaw) wear.

Naturally, not everybody agrees on this terminology.

By the end of the comic, and keeping with the universal truth that Cyclops is a putz, Kitty makes her choice of not only what she wants to call that yellow and black outfit, but also who she wants to be her tutor in learning how to protect a world that is sworn to hate and destroy them.

So, as we have now learned, Wolverine calls the blue/yellow and/or brown/black outfit he wears a uniform. He never, never, ever calls it a "costume."

Panels from Wolverine: First Class #15 (July 2009; three months later), script by Peter David, pencils and inks by Scott Koblish, colors by Ulises Arreola, letters by Joe Caramagna

Oh for crying out loud.

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 37

Panels from Batgirl v.1 #3 (June 2000), co-plot by Scott Peterson, co-plot and script by Kelley Puckett, pencils by Damion Scott,, inks by Robert Campanella, colors by Jason Wright, letters by John Costanza

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ten of a Kind: Are you experienced?

(More Ten of a Kind here.)