Saturday, December 30, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 364: So long, farewell

Panels from Teen Titans/Legion Special one-shot (November 2004), script by Mark Waid and Geoff Johns, pencils by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, inks by Marc Campos, colors by "Sno-cone", letters by Rob Leigh

Friday, December 29, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 363: Although it's been said, many times, many ways

Panels from Star Wars: Rogue One #6 (November 2017), script by Jody Houser, pencils and inks by Emilio Laiso, colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, letters by Clayton Cowles

Thursday, December 28, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 362: Why don't you listen to what The Man said (and Today in Comics History, December 28: Happy birthday, Stan Lee!)

"Stan's Soapbox" from Marvel comics cover-dated December 1968 (top) and October 1978 (bottom)

You'd maybe think that my favorite Stan Lee quote would be "with great power there must come great responsibility" or "'Nuff Said!" or or "Face front, true believer!" But no. My favorite Stan Lee quote is this:

Excelsior, Stan. And happy birthday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 361: I feel it coming

I haven't featured much from this year's big-ass Marvel crossover event Secret Empire, because one, it wasn't about a Marvel super-hero becoming an undercover baseball referee as I'd originally mistook, and B) it was a really tone-deaf idea to even temporarily make Captain America into a fascist, especially this year. But I liked this page.

Panels from Secret Empire #9 (October 2017); script by Nick Spencer; pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett, and Rod Reis; inks by Gerry Alanguilan, Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Pimentel, and Rod Reis; colors by Sunny Gho and Dono Sánchez-Almaral; letters by Travis Lanham

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 360: Oh, Captain America, where are you now? When every thing's gone wrong somehow?

For your post-Christmas enjoyment and inspiration: probably the single most requested sequence since I started this year-long feature. I've been saving it for towards the end, because it is great, and it is powerful, and wouldn't ya know, it's more timely than ever. Just Imagine...(or, y'know, the other one's catchphrase) if Captain America had not been thawed out in 1963 (ahem, lots of clearing of throats) whatever year Avengers #4 took place in! Actually, according to the story, it's really "What If Namor Took the Scenic Route Home from His Amnesiac Years in the Bowery?" No Namor rampage in the frozen north, no slowly melting Capsicle, no discovery by the original Avengers in their Avengersub. And How About™ if the 1950s Commie-Smasher version of Captain America and Bucky were revived by a janitor who was angry at Nixon going to China? (Possibly he also hated ping pong and panda bears, but that's for the fan fiction). And Maybe Then™ Crazy Commiehater Cap convinced America to go all fascist, leading to race riots and a quickly inflicted martial law under the control of Fake Cap himself (naw, no Cap would ever do that!) And Of Course It Would Happen™ that in 1983, year of perhaps the greatest music ever, the All-Original Not-New Really-We-Mean-It Captain America Steve Rogers would be finally thawed out by a U.S. Navy submarine? Okay, you're caught up to date. Now...go!

Panels from What If? (1977 series) #44 (April 1984), script by Peter B. Gillis, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Dave Simons, colors by George Roussos, letters by John Morelli

Instead of coming ashore to an asparagus alien shooting people with his Medusa-ray, Steve hits land for the first time in 38 years to see his beloved New York City run by a thug army of fascist-faced Capballs! That's not gonna sit right with the Star-Spangled Guy, who we can't call the Star-Spangled Avenger because the Avengers broke up not long after not finding Cap. Whoa, there's a nightmare alternate world for you, for sure! I certainly hope somebody else stopped Kang and Ultron along the way.

America under Capcism...well, it's not good. Not good at all. And there's a wall around the undesirable areas of New York. Curse you, Peter B. Gillis, for being so forward-thinking.

Steve is brought to the secret HQ underground rebellion against authoritarian "Captain America" and his Americommandos, where he teams up with insurgents J. Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man, Nick Fury, and urban guerilla leader "Snap" Wilson, known in our world as the Falcon.

Fury points out that they can perhaps put a sizable monkey wrench in the rise of an American Reich by attacking the Party Convention (aw, heck, let's just call it a Nazi rally) of the America First Party, who are intent on tightening restrictions on freedom even further. Let's pause on those words. America First. Now, where have we seen...and Cap would certainly remember...the credo "America First" being used before?

Or, perhaps you need "America First" used as a modern example? Here it is in scary contemporary context. Aw, you know who I'm reluctantly gonna quote here, right?

Ick. Get that crap outta my world and my comic books, you racist, fascist, dumbass pig.

As you might guess, this is a situation and an enemy with whom Steve Rogers will not put up. He'll not put up with them and he'll do it with his words and his fists. I'm gonna shut up and show you probably more of the comic book than is fair use, but y'all need to read this sequence, especially if you never have. The Cap of Earth-616 (and for that matter, the Cap of our world, Chris Evans) would be so proud of this Earth's real Steve here. I am too.

Monday, December 25, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 359: Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

A very Merry Christmas to you all, and here's your Christmas present: an ultimately successful act of defiance, even tho' it took thirty-five issues (and however many of those "Five Years Later" preceded the series) to evolve from an underground rebellion to all-out war. Let's check in on the defeat and surrender of the Dominator forces occupying and, well, dominating Earth in the year 2525 2997. Let's check in and see what the MSMoTTC (Mainsteam Media of the Thirtieth Century) has to say about that. And in a moment, a shocking rebuttal from Don-Al 71-Bot, who is clearly on the side of megas. That's "Make Earth Great Again*" *by selling it out to the creepy yellow aliens with big pointy teeth).

Panels from Legion of Super-Heroes (1989 "Five Year Later" series) #35 (Early November 1992); script by Keith Giffen, Tom Bierbaum, anf Mary Bierbaum; breakdowns by Keith Giffen; pencils by Jason Pearson; inks by Karl Story; colors by Tom McCraw; letters by John Workman

Slowly but surely Rokk Krinn and Reep Daggle have been re-forming the Legion of Super-Heroes, and against a resurrected Legion the Dominators can't stand for long. Heck, one or two of 'em ought to do a lot of the heavy lifting. We may not have Superboy in this continuity, but we've got the next best thing: Mon-El Valor Lar Gand, last son of Daxam! He'll get the lead out!

Luckily for Earth, they've got not one but two Legions fighting for their rights in spandex tights: the slightly older and wiser original, and the shiny classic Batch SW-6 clones — look, it's a long story, just go with it. The Legion is here, and they're bringing civil disobedience and giant shoulder pads back! (I just dig those middle panels, don't you?) Here's the Young Colossal Boy and Kid Ultra Boy to the rescue!

At last, the futuristic tide is turned, and the Dominator forces surrender under fire. This war and the occupation before it has taken a huge toll of lives (see center panel), but it's happened. Defiance, rebellion, revolt and revolution have won the battle. War is over, if you want it.

Imagine a joy and relief so huge that you shout and dance and cry and gasp. We've felt the pressure over three years of Legion stories bringing us back from a dismal future. We lost many (R.I.P., Blok, Dirk Morgna, and young Princess Projectra, Karate Kid, and Chameleon Boy) and we mourn them, but now is the time for celebration. (Let's not talk about what happens four months from now, okay?)

Now. I'd planned this sequence to be my Christmas post since earlier in the year, because I figured that by December, things would maybe not be much better than they were in early 2017, and we might be in need of some inspiration. The post was originally going to end with the panel above: the exuberance of successful defiance. But pal Matthew Elmslie (thanks again so much!), who runs the I'm-gonna-recommend-it-yet-again blog Legion Abstract, a celebration of all things Legionny, suggested this sequence with the addition of one more page (below) that puts the whole Earth/Dominator War in perspective, focuses upon our reasons for hope, and why, at least in the comics, the good guys win. May it be so in our world, too. Keep defying.

As always, there's a Jane Wiedlin song to express it all.

"Euphoria" by Jane Wiedlin (EMI-Manhattan, 1990), written by Jane Wiedlin and Paul Gordon

We want a better life
We won't get caught between
A world that suffers
And a world we dream of
You cannot quiet us
We just keep getting stronger
And all the walls you build
Won't hold much longer

So don't stop dancing in the fire
Our voices lifting higher

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 358: Squirrel Girl also reminds you it's okay to punch Nazis.

Panels from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2016 series) #16 (March 2017), script by Ryan North, pencils and inks by Erica Henderson, colors by Rico Renzi, letters by Travis Lanham