Saturday, February 25, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 56: The Seeds of Rebellion


No, no, I said Metalorn. It's a mining planet in the Star Wars universe circa 2 ABY (Tuesday, just after tea-time). Metalorn is squished under the oppressive molded plastic heel of the Galactic Empire, providing the Emperor and Admirals and the Moffs and the rest with vital-to-the-war-effort starwarstainium!

Panels from Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #30 (December 1979), script by Archie Goodwin, breakdowns by Carmine Infantino, finishes by Gene Day, colors by Petra Goldberg, letters by Joe Rosen

Starwarstainium! Or, whatever, it doesn't really matter. It could be rich delicious fudge being mined up from the planet's creamy, nougaty core; it just isn't that important to the story. What they do have on Metalorn is a single biome (gee, in the Star Wars Universe?) that is wasted, drained, and poisonous. So, pretty much Flint, Michigan. I imagine that's why they all have to wear those perpetual body condoms. Anyway, Tammi, your mom told you once: nothing grows on Metalorn except galactic intrigue and metaphors.

Meanwhile a group of freedom fighters led by LUKE SKYWALKER has established a new secret base on the remote ice world

Meanwhile, Princess Leia has tracked the villainous Imperial stooge Baron Tagge down to Metaluna and has infiltrated their society by slipping on one of those nifty rubber suits everybody wears. She makes her escape through the cunning use of kicking a table, and Tagge bellows the usual commands to GET CHRISTIE LEIA!

Where do these two storylines collide? Well, right, where little girl Tammi heps hide Leia from her pursuing stormtroopers. They only have a few seconds to talk, but as we all know, Leia is especially inspirational. See, for example, any one of her scenes, except for singing the Star Wars Theme at the end of the Holiday Special.


I meant her hair.

Ahem. Anyway, Leia gets to have an especially inspirational speech about resistance, rebellion, and hey, it's a word we almost automatically connect with her, even though it's decades before we see her talk about it at the tail end of Rogue One.

Because that's the stuff that defiance and resistance is made up of, after all, not just blasters and Death Stars and Home One. It's created by all living things, it surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together...hope.

Today in Comics History, February 25, 1991: Lt. Slim Shady stands up and debriefs his C.O.

from A-Team: War Stories: Face one-shot (IDW, April 2010), script by Chuck Dixon and Erik Burnham, pencils and inks by Alberto Muriel, colors by Gerry Kissell, letters by Neil Uyetake

Friday, February 24, 2017

Today in Comics History, February 24, 1989: Comics story is given such a bad pun for a name you'll be surprised it isn't written by Peter David

from "Freedom of Depress" in Justice #31 (Marvel/New Universe, May 1989), script by Fabian Nicieza, pencils and inks by Mike Gustovich, colors by Marc Siry, letters by Rick Parker

Today in Comics History, February 24, 1976: Pinocchio is imprisoned in Lubyanka for crimes against crickets

from Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor #3 (WildStorm, July 2008); script by Mike Costa; pencils, inks, and colors by Fiona Staples; letters by Rob Leigh

365 Days of Defiance, Day 55: Super-Resistance

Panel from DC: The New Frontier #5 (September 2004); script, pencils, and inks by Darwyn Cooke; colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Jared K. Fletcher

Thursday, February 23, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 54: Melting Pot

We're pretty much all from somewhere else.

Panels from "Reflection" in Doctor Fate (2015 series) #14 (September 2016), script by Paul Levitz, pencils and inks by Breno Tamura, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Saida Temofonte

...and in a just world, your ancestors will remind you of that.

This history lesson has been brought to you courtesy of Doctor Fate. "When you're a bigoted racist with no sense of geneology, generously apply Doctor Fate."

Today in Comics History, February 23, 1989: Pancakes are prepared pantlessly

from D.P. 7 #32 (Marvel/New Universe, June 1989), script by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Paul Ryan, inks by Danny Bulanadi, colors by Paul Becton, letters by Janice Chiang

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 53: What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a Nazi?

Undercover, Bucky infiltrates a group of Nazis masquerading as street beggars!

Panels from "The Unholy Legion" in Captain America Comics (Marvel/Timely 1941 series) #4 (June 1941), script by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Al Avison and Al Gabriele

There's a lotta orrible stuff in between involving torture, throat-slitting, and branding a swastika on the chest of an Allied spy, but let's skip to the good part: Nazi-punchin'! And goosing Nazis with a red-hot branding iron!

Remember: Cap and Bucky were punching Nazis before it became fashionable in December 1941! The moral of this story is, of course: Don't wait for the crowd...punch a Nazi today!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 52: Democracy Dies in Darkness

I couldn't write this blog (and you couldn't read it, not even with very very good spectacles) if we didn't have, defend, and fight for the First Amendment, which we probably take pretty much for granted, right? I mean, you'd never read me making jokes about how Vince Colletta erased more of the Marvel Universe than Jack Kirby created without the First Amendment. About now I'm imagining you're saying "Well, Bully, if you love the First Amendment so much, why don't you marry it?" And I believe you're correct. I will marry it. Hey, you may think the First Amendment is shabby and old-fashioned and out of touch with the kids of today and their Trapper-Keepers and magnetic tops and disdain for the original Battlestar Galactica, but I bet you can purely hypothetically, imagine what an organized attack from some high-level force upon the voices of freedom in the press might possibly look like, can't you? I think you might be able to possibly imagine that in these times, no matter how weak your belief in gnomes is.

With that in mind, here's a true (for once, we think) comic book story of defiance, a short history the woman known as "Madame Ruse" who risked torture and death under the Nazi occupation of Belgium to produce La Libre Belgique, a newspaper of the Free Belgian Underground. You can read just a little bit more about the underground newspaper (and see a page from it) here. But it's a history any college professor or Wikipedia editor would hand back to you stamped "citation needed," because I can't find very much supporting evidence that "Madame Ruse" actually existed except for this comic book and a single story in a 1944 issue of the Long Beach Independent. So I present "Freedom's Press" to you with the caveat that this comic book story might be fictional. (Aren't they all?) But legend or truth, it's a fascinating if truncated story of truth under oppression, and a cautionary tale for the future of our age of accusations of "fake news".

"Freedom's Press" from Calling All Girls #40 (June-July 1945), scripter and artist unknown

Monday, February 20, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 51: The Last Temptation of Prez Rickard

As William Howard Taft, one of our belovedest and roly-polyest Presidents would say: "Hey hey hey, It's Presidents' Day!" And it is*! You can't sneak much past President Taft, not even a bathtub.

That's why we're gathered here today to salute America's Greatest President (sit down, James K. Polk): Prez Rickard!

Panels from Sandman (1989 series) #54 (October 1993), script by Neil Gaiman, pencils and inks by Michael Allred, colors by Daniel Vozzo, letters by Todd Klein

The religious allegories are pretty obvious even in the DC Universe where Superman has been known to stretch out his arms when hovering and Mxyzptlk frequently turns lemonade into Grapefruit Kryptonite. Prez is brought out to the wasteland and tempted, not with the usual comic-book rewards of fame and power...oh, wait, I've made another one of my silly mistakes. He's tempted with exactly fame and power.

And in a dream...or maybe something more like true waking...he conversates with the Little President Who Thought He Could, Richard M. Nixon, trying to convince our pajamaless protagonist that the best creed you can folliow in the White House is every man for himself. (SHAMELESS CROSS-WEBSITE PROMOTIONAL PLUG: Don't forget to check out my article on 13th Dimension for a rundown of the 13 faces of Richard Nixon in Comics! Don't worry, we'll wipe the tapes after you've been there.)

But that's not the way Prez rolls. (Prez Rolls, available at your local supermarket on the specialty breads shelf, new from Staff Bread!) Mind you, it's not that hard to resist Slimy Temptation by Tricky Dick, but I think even you and I might be seduced by the mouthwatering promise of being that one guy who could go to China. No, Prez is in this game we call politics for exactly one thing: everybody else in the United States of America.

And yes, it's truly a better world, pretty close to ours but only a slight vibratory dimension and one good man away. Look, he even saved John Belushi! (Celebrity in a Comic Book, folks!)

And his reward for it all? Well, in the end he gets exactly what we all get: he gets a lifetime.

Wait! One last act of defiance against the expectations of a President. When he discovers his temptor Boss Smiley is in charge "upstairs," Prez (with a little help from that crazy candy-colored clown called the Sandman) chooses another place, another path. Or, to paraphrase General John Stark (no relation to Tony) of New Hampshire: Die free, and live.

'Coz all Prez ever wanted to do was fix things so they ran right.

May we all make the same choice. May our Presidents and Prime Ministers and Premiers and Kings and leaders around the world and throughout the future ever strive to fix things. For all of us. For the dream.

* Offer not valid if you're reading this on not Presidents' Day, or indeed, if I forget to post it on President's Day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 50: You are worth fighting for.

Panels from Martian Manhunter (2015 series) #8 (March 2016), script by Rob Williams, pencils by Eddy Barrows, inks by Eber Ferreira, colors by Gabe Eltaeb, letters by Tom Napolitano

You. Yes, you. You are worth fighting for.