Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 21: Bruce Wayne's Got a Gun!

Well hello, "W.T.F." (Wayne Trusts Firearms) Month at DC Comics, where all the cover gatefolds provided a shocking surprise once you opened them! What will the Joker poison Gotham City with? Who is the secret master of the Green Lanterns? Where did Oliver Queen go for lunch? The answer, of course, is Colonel Sanders. For all three.

Here, is the surprise that Bruce Wayne's mortal enemy is not a guy who dresses up like an Antarctic waterfowl or a giant punctuation mark, but his long-time hetero lifemate, Jim Gordon? Or is the shocking twist that Bruce draws a gun so quickly that Jim's jumps out of his hand in suicidal surrender as if it were springloaded? No, it is none of these things. It is that Jim Gordon is a middle-aged man, who, twenty issues later, will be young and buff enough to become Batman himself. Big mistake, guys! Now you have to reboot the entire universe to cover up that mistake. Boy, I sre hope whoever made that blunder got fired for it.

Cover of Batman (2011 series) #19 (June 2013), pencils and inks by Greg Capullo, colors by FCO Plascencia

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 142: Spider-Man Bombs Pearl Harbor!

The strrrrrrrrretching timeline of the Marvel Universe means that pretty much all the events of the MU have taken place in the last, say, 12-15 years. My usual criteria for determining how many years they've been adventuring are the relative ages of Franklin Richards, who was "born" in 1968, and Kitty Pryde, who was 13½ in 1980 and turned 14 in space in Uncanny X-Men #165. And yet Franklin's still at least under 10, and Kitty's old enough (21) to bartend in Mekanix #1 (2002). Which only goes to prove: don't try to apply real-world aging logic to the Marvel Universe.

The real problem happens when stories try to tie events in the Marvel Universe to real-life events or persons. If Captain America got frozen in 1945, then the Avengers unfroze him in Avengers #4 in 1963. That means he's barely eighteen years a man out of time. But if we guesstimate that in today's Marvel Universe, Capsicle got thawed circa 2000 at the earliest — well, he missed a whole a lot more, including the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who, according to canon, got turned into a snake under his watch (Cap #344, 1988). That means that Ben Grimm and Reed Richards, who began their careers described as WWII veterans...ain't. Not anymore.

Which explains how, in 1973, you could actually believe that J. Jonah Jameson had been around the Daily Bugle since the war years, right?

Panels from Sgt. Fury #110 (May 1973), script by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Dick Ayers, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Herb Cooper

There's some other small references elsewhere in the book, which also shows that Nick Fury knows Jameson:

So, it's canon, fanboys: J. Jonah Jameson is functionally immortal because he has taken the Infinity Formula.

Glad I could clear that up for you.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 20: Robot Death Call!

Cover of World's Finest Comics #164 (February 1967), pencils by Curt Swan, inks by George Klein, letters by Ira Schnapp

Look out, Genia, Mistress of Malice, in a story that is not called "The Broken Code" but is instead titled "Brainiac's Super Brain-Child!" Well, I've gotta say, that second one has a little more je ne sais quoi to it, doncha think? In any case...look out, Genia! Superman and Batman are going to shoot you with hair dryers!

Panels from "Brainiac's Super Brain-Child" in World's Finest Comics #164 (February 1967), script by Leo Dorfman, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by George Klein

Aw, cool yer jets, Greyson. It's the Silver Age, where nobody ever dies at the hands of a superhero — not even Hitler in the confusingly titled "Aquaman Kills Hitler" in Adventure Comics Annual #2. Instead, she's been banished by whoever is the quicker draw to the exile of their choice! In the original version of this series Wonder Woman also guest-starred and fired a gun that shot Genia into a very liberal all-girl's school on Paradise Island, but they cut that bit out because they were afraid it would upset readers of a nervous disposition... But not me, I can tell ya.

No, instead Superman sends her, via illegal torrenting, into the bottle city of Kandor, where everyone is always incredibly earnest and also dress like Legion of Superheroes cosplayers. Here they will "re-program" her criminal tendencies by drilling into the skull just below the temple, scooping out...oh wait, I forgot she's actually a robot. Yeah, they're actually re-programming her. Which will make her a valuable ally of Superman the next time she appears!

Genia, of course, never appears again.

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 141: Spider-Man: Hero or Publisher?

Panels from Spider-Man: Christmas In Dallas one-shot (December 1983), script by Jim Salicrup, pencils by Alan Kupperberg, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Marie Severin, letters by Rick Parker

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 19: Deathstroke Double-Dog Dares Dark Knight

Cover of Detective Comics #710 (June 1997), pencils and inks by Lee Weeks, colors by Patrick Martin

Thanks to Deathstroke (The Terminator Who's Not Arnold™), Batman's trapped in the puzzling paradox known as the Spanish Prisoner...or maybe the Greek Interpreter?...would you believe the Russian Tea Room?!? The only way he can stop a deadly criminal is by shooting him! But Batman has sworn to never use guns! (Not even on a floor.)

Panels from Detective Comics #710 (June 1997), script by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Graham Nolan, inks by Bill Sienkiewicz, colors by Gloria Vasquez, letters by John Costanza

Decisions, decisions!

Whoa, he shot the gun right outta the gun's hands! Batman: DEADSHOT. Well, not literally, because that's a whole 'nother character.

So, Batman can shoot a gun, and pretty well. It just makes him feel uncomfortable.

NEXT, IN DETECTIVE COMICS #711: Batman shoots everybody!

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 140: It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap

Panel from Ms. Marvel (1977 series) #1 (January 1977), script by Gerry Conway with Carla Conway, breakdowns by John Buscema, finishes by Joe Sinnott, some background inks by Dave Hunt, colors by Marie Severin, letters by John Costanza

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Comics Predict the Next President with 100% Accuracy!

Say, who's going to be the next President of the United States? Let's apply the universal rules of the board game Mystery Date. Could it be a dud...

Panels from Howard the Duck (2016 series) #1 (January 2016), script by Chip Zdarsky, pencils and colors by Joe Quinones, inks by Joe Rivera, letters by Travis Lanham

...or a...well, I'm not gonna call her a dream, sorry:

Panels from Fantastic Four Annual 2001 (September 2001), plot by Carlos and Rafael Marin, script by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Kevin Maguire, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger, colors by Chris Sotomayor, letters by Richard Starkings

Fact is, neither one of these comic books actually goes out of their way to truly say who will be the 45th President of the United States.

Well, except this one:

Panels from Star Trek (Gold Key/Western 1967 series) #9 (February 1971), script by Len Wein, pencils and inks by Alberto Giolitti

There ya go. Surprise third-party candidate Anton York will win the 2016 election. Also: the Doctor Strange movie is going to influence fashion a lot more than you might expect.

So start reading up on our next POTUS today!

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 18: No, Batman! Don't shoot the reader!

Panels from Batman #438 (Early September 1989), script by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Pat Broderick, inks by John Beatty, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by John Costanza

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 139: Spider-Man vs. J. Jonah Jameson's cigar breath

Panels from Spider-Man vs. Wolverine #1 one-shot (February 1987), script by Christopher Priest, pencils by Mark D. Bright, inks by Al Williamson (!), colors by Petra Scotese, letters by Bill Oakley

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Comics News for May 17, 2016

New DC Logo Sexually Harasses Old DC Logo; Ben Grim Banned from North Carolina Restrooms; Namor Just Giving Away Babies for Some Reason; Yaaaaah
Top to bottom: 2016 and 2012 DC logos; panel portion from Fantastic Four #15 (June 1963), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Paul Reinman; panel from "The Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner Meet" in Marvel Mystery Comics #8 (June 1940), script, pencils, inks, and letters by Bill Everett; panel from Batman #358 I(April 1983), script by Gerry Conway, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Rodin Rodriguez, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by Ben Oda

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 17: To avoid getting your fingerprints on it, always wear gloves when handling a handgun

The first issue of the "New Look" Batman also gives him a new attitude...about firearms!

Panels from "The Mystery of the Menacing Mask!" in Detective Comics #327 (May 1964), script by John Broome, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Joe Giella, letters by Gaspar Saladino

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 138: J. Jonah Jameson invents Internet Comments

Panels from The Sensational Spider-Man (1996 series) #18 (August 1997), script by Todd Dezago, pencils by Jason Armstrong, inks by Ron Boyd, colors by Gregory Wright, letters by Richard Starkings and Kiff Scholl

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 16: Batman's chin is locked and loaded

Panel from "Battyman" in MAD #289 (September 1989), script by Stan Hart, pencils and inks by Mort Drucker

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 137: This is the worst Sbarro's ad I've ever seen

Panels from "I, Robot Master!" in Spider-Man Unlimited (1993 series) #17 (August 1997), script by Glenn Greenberg, pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Joe Pimentel, colors by Christie Scheele, letters by Jack Morelli

Today in Comics History: Just Another Miracle Monday

This is an updated and expanded version of a post I originally wrote on May 15, 2006. Hey, I'm only six years old, how is that even possible?

Happy Miracle Monday, everybody! It's one of the best kind of holidays, falling after Easter and before the Fourth of July, and by its very nature absolutely guaranteed not to conflict with Mother's Day! Miracle Monday Monday always falls on the third Monday of every May (you know, take Free Comic Book Day and add two weeks and two days), and it's a day of celebration and joy in honor of Kal-El. (You might know him better by his alter ego name of Superman!)

Elliot S! Maggin (an' he should know, he's got a "!" in his name!) wrote of this grand holiday in the second of his pair of Superman original novels published in conjunction with 1979's Superman: The Movie. I highly recommend both novels — they're out of print but easily findable in used bookshop and online, sometimes for pennies). And if you look around carefully enough you may find the whole text of the books online, but trust me, I think you're gonna want to have these on your actual, physical, touchable bookshelf.

Of this grand day Mr. ! Maggin wrote
On that day...resort owners on the glaciers of Uranus raise ski-lift tickets for the influx of tourists. Teamsters driving slow-moving cargo transports to Earth from mining operations in the asteroid belt get drunk and silly like sailors crossing the Equator for the first time. In honor of Superman's chosen profession, even journalists can spend the holiday with their families. There are laughter, reflection, public celebration with barbecues and holographic light shows all over the solar system, merriments of all sorts. It's a big holiday.

Another vital primary document for scholars from the future (lookin' at you, Rond Vidar) researching the history of Miracle Monday is Superman #400, which contains Supes stories and pin-ups by literally some of the most famous artists and writers in comics at the time (inhale): Howard Chaykin, Joe Orlando, Brian Bolland, Jack Kirby, Al Williamson, John Byrne, Jack Davis, Frank Miller, Leonard Starr, Walt Simonson, Marshall Rogers, Terry Austin, Bernie Wrightson, Wendy Pini, Will Eisner, Michael Kaluta, Steve Ditko, Mike Grell, Klaus Janson, Moebius, Jim Steranko, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jerry Robinson, and an essay by Ray Bardbury. (exhale) I've often said that if you had to choose only one Superman comic to take to your desert island out of the thousands of 'em, this would be a great pick.

Most of the stories are written by Elliot S! Maggin, and they follow chronologically from our time forward to depict the future legacy of Superman in the universe. My very favorite — and the one I'm showing you here today — is a collaboration with Klaus Janson and a veritable celebration of Miracle Monday, focusing upon a sixtieth-century family sitting down to their traditional feast at which all are welcome to come in and join:

from Superman (1939 series) #400 (October 1984); script by Elliot S! Maggin; pencils, inks, and colors by Klaus Janson; letters by John Costanza

A little like a Passover Seder, a Miracle Monday dinner is solemnified by telling the tale, the very celebration of the art of storytelling that mythology (and comic books) do so well.

A strange visitor from another planet has come to dinner on Miracle Monday: a time-lost (who else but!) Superman.

One of things I love best about the epic mythological tone of the stories in Superman #400 is that it serves as a coda to any age of Superman. Although the Crisis on Infinite Earths was still a couple years away when this was published, it can serve as "The Last Superman Story" for the pre-Crisis age (alongside the well-deserved "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", naturally), for the it-began-with-John-Byrne post-Crisis saga, or even for the "Final Days of Superman" chronicle now unwinding in the pages of the last "New 52" Superman comics.

Long before we were told the "S" stands for hope, before he married Lois or fought Doomsday or battled the Avengers or was recreated without red underwear, Superman promises us he'll always be back. And ya know what? I'm eager to take the Big Guy's word for that.

Throughout whatever DC Universe you prefer, let's all celebrate Miracle Monday and remember the difference that Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman has made in our lives. Won't you set a place for him at your Miracle Monday dinner table today? I know I will! Hope you like chicken-'n'-dumplings, Kal-El!

And you don't have to eat all your peas. I certainly won't tell.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ten of a Kind: The New Amazon Bindle

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 15: Even Adam West

Panels from Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet #11 (digital comic, October 2014), script by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, pencils and inks by Ty Templeton, colors by Tony Aviña, letters by Wes Abbott

Yes, the Batzooka! It looks like this in the live-action Batman '66 universe:

And it looks like this in the regular DC Universe.

Panel from Batman Confidential #14 (April 2008), script by Tony Bedard, pencils by Rags Morales, inks by Mark Farmer, colors by I.L.L., letters by Travis Lanham

Advantage: Batman '66.