Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Have A Bad Dream...

So, let me get this straight: Glenn Beck hosted a rally on the site of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, which happened to be the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech given at the same location 37 years ago. You remember Martin Luthor King? A black man who spoke out against white supremacy and egged his followers to greater non-violence?

I can't help but ask:

Who the hell approved Beck's permit, Bizarro Superman?

Also, what exactly are we "Restoring Honor" from?

Show, Don't Tell: Superman/Batman #75


On a last-second impulse during my weekly comic run last Wednesday, I bought Superman/Batman#75. In addition to a beautiful Frank Quitely cover, it featured one long story by Paul Levitz and Jerry Ordway followed by a series of smaller 2-page features.

The Levitz/Ordway piece involved Superman and Batman (Bruce Wayne) working with the Legion of Super Heroes to prevent an uber-powerful Kryptonite-irradiated Lex Luthor clone from killing Superman in the past.

The rest of the issued featured the following: Jill Thompson pin-ups of Catwoman and Lois Lane doing what they do best (B&E and raking muck, respectively). Steve Seagle attempting to write a Superman/ Batman story. Two kids role-playing as the World's Finest Team at a Comic Con. Superboy and Red Robin seeking advice from Supes and Bats (Dick Grayson) on a mutual issue. "Joker and Lex", a Brian Azzarello/Lee Bermejo story done in the style of Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes" strip. An Adam Hughes retrospective of Supergirl's and Barbara Gordon's histories. A point-by-point comparison between Krypto the Superdog and Ace the Bat-Hound. Future versions of Conner Kent and Damian Wayne getting together to pay tribute to their long-departed predecessors. A thirtysomething father and his young son reminiscing about their "adventures" playing "Superman and Batman".

As individual pieces, all of the issue's stories were well-crafted. It's how they came together that presented this issue's big problem.

The 2-page back-up stories had a common theme: How the heroic feats of the Superman/Batman team (Clark & Bruce) inspire heroes, villains, and ordinary people alike. Now contrast that theme with the events in the lead story.

How many heroic feats did the combined team of Clark and Bruce achieve in the lead story?


How many villains did they directly defeat together? None.

How many other people did they save together? None.

Even individually, Clark and Bruce barely did anything. All Superman did was get attacked and beaten up by the Luthor clone (mostly off-panel, no less) and then spent the rest of the story lying ill in the Batcave. For his part, the most significant thing Batman did in the whole story was break into a Lexcorp lab to obtain a sample, and he didn't even have to fight Lexcorp security. Other than that, the most action we saw from Batman was a few panels of him stitching his arm. All the heavy heroic lifting was done by the Legion, particularly Brainiac Five.

To his credit, Levitz at least provided perfectly logical reasons (considering the operating time-travel theory in this story) for sidelining Supes and Bats, instead of just doing it for the sake of "clever" schtick (I'm looking at you, Mr. Bendis). But the fact remains: Instead of a Superman/Batman story guest-starring the Legion, this was essentially a Legion story with cameos by Superman and Batman. Clark and Bruce were, in effect, guest-stars in their own book.

This may have even been fine in any other Superman/Batman issue as a change of pace. But for a special anniversary issue specifically dedicated to celebrating the heroic deeds of the Superman/Batman team, the least DC could have done was include, well, some heroic deeds of the Superman/Batman team.

In other words, DC spent the entire issue telling us how great the World's Finest Team was.

But they never showed us.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Fights: Free For All - Round 2: Green On Green

Welcome back to another round of Friday Night Fights: Free For All, and as the title of this bout suggests, anything goes this time around. And if you have a blog of your own, you're welcome to post your own fight entry as well. To participate in this round, all you need to do is click here for details.

Tonight's free-for-all is from Justice League America#33 "Nitwits, Knuckleheads & Poozers", written by the zany team of Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Adam Hughes and Art Nichols. Tonight is also a special "Green On Green" round in which two Green Lanterns are pitted against each other. To mark this occasion, tonight's fight music will be "Green Light" by John Legend (with an assist from Andre 3000).

Synopsis: Guy Gardner is bored.

Kilowog is also bored.

Which is the perfect storm for....


Guy gets subjected to the indignity of...

And on it goes, until finally....

Now that's what I call "reconnecting".

To see more special "connections", click here. And, as always, don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Payin' It Forward

Yesterday, on her Pai blog, Saranga recommended a post I finished Friday. Now, I'd like to "pay it forward" by recommending a post I read this weekend. Snell, a semi-regular commenter on this blog and a fellow Friday Night Fights competitor, wrote a post on his Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep blog detailing how he would approach Barry Allen's current Flash series if he were its writer. It's called "Barry And Iris", and I highly recommend it. Without giving away too much, it's an extremely insightful look at how a key supporting character in the Flash mythos is being underused and underappreciated. As a longtime fan of the Slay blog, I can honestly say it's one of his best.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Helpful Racial Etiquette Tip

For anyone asking the question "If black people can use the word 'n___er', why can't white people use it?", here's my answer:

Because when they do, they usually sound like complete fucking idiots.

Exhibit A: John Mayer.

Exhibit B: Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

I remember when I first heard her radio show back in the early 90's. I drew some amusement on the very first day I heard her because she reminded me of the "Man Of The People" episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". You may remember how that was the episode where Counselor Troi turned evil and, at one point, was listening to a crew member confide her problems and responded by telling said crew member to stop her whining. Well, Dr. Laura's show was essentially the same thing in real life, except she dished out this advice virtually every day to virtually every caller, no matter what the caller's issue was. Once the unintentional hilarity wore off, it was simple to see that Dr. Laura and her show were completely useless. Amazingly enough, her radio show has lasted 30 years.

Last week, an African-American female caller named Jade asked Schlessinger's advice about her white husband's friends and family making racist comments and her husband ignoring them. In classic Dr. Laura fashion, not only did she provide no help whatsoever to the caller, but she began by suggesting the caller may be hypersensitive before she'd even heard her out.

And then she really went off the rails. In addition to providing a lame "white men can't jump" analogy, she made this dig out of nowhere: "Without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply because he was half black. Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office. It was a black thing." Yeah, Doc, and absolutely no whites voted for McCain purely due to his race, right?

When Jade mentioned "the n-word", Schlesinger responded with "Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****, n*****, n*****. I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing. But when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing."

The reason she finds that so confusing is that she appears to have a poor grasp of history. She seems to forget about the long tradition of people "without enough melanin" using that word when tormenting, bullying, beating, enslaving, discriminating against, and even killing others they deemed to have "too much melanin". Using that logic, the swastika symbol is just another cool design, too.

Also, I've heard and read about several African-Americans, particularly those over 30, who find it anything but "affectionate" when other black people say the "n-word".

And was she actually equating not being able to openly say "n___er" with the discrimination African-Americans and other minorities face? Is she actually feeling oppressed by this? As a fellow white person, all I can say is "This is the world's smallest violin." If that's the worst racial double-standard we as white people have to put up with, our race has gotten the better part of the deal.

The pathetic part is that her utterance of "n___er" 11 times was actually the least racially offensive part of her rant.

Here was another "gem" from that same segment:

"We've got a black man as president and we've got more complaining about racism than ever. I think that's hilarious."

Really? Racism magically disappeared after Obama was elected? If anything, it's gotten more overt. Look at all those angry Tea Partiers. Many of them sat silently or even cheered on as Bush and Cheney trampled all over the Constitution for 8 years, but as soon as a black man took office, they were up in arms screaming "I want my country back!!" as loud as they could. And do you remember any signs with Clinton or the two Bushes being portrayed as witch doctors? I didn't think so.

I've always hated what I felt was an unfair stereotype that most white people think racism has been completely eliminated. But hearing Dr. Laura and her ilk discuss the subject reminds me that some stereotypes contain a few kernels of fact.

And here was my personal fave:

"If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry outside of your race."

Personal disclosure time: I'm full-on Caucasian and my wife is half Mexican. She has a great sense of humor, and sometimes even pokes fun at some aspects of Mexican culture. And while I'm not exactly the most confrontational person on the planet, if someone made derogatory remarks about my wife's nationality, especially in her presence, you can bet your ass they'd hear about it from me. Also, you'll notice on this post how I leave the word "fucking" as is, but block out parts of "n___er". That's not an accident; that's how I regard the words in terms of relative offensiveness. Trust me, Jade wasn't hypersensitive at all.

Which is more than I can say for Dr. Laura. This week on Larry King she announced that she's quitting her talk show when her contract expires in December. The reason, in her own words:

“I made the decision not to do radio anymore,” Schlessinger said on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” “I want to regain my first amendment rights. I want to be able to say what is on my mind, in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry.”

Here's the deal, Doc: You can't regain your first amendment rights because you never lost them in the first place. In fact, you currently have more of a forum for saying what's on your mind and in your heart than most Americans do, even if it's only helpful and useful in your own mind. But if you want to say inflammatory comments in public without anybody getting angry, might I suggest another venue?

How about Fantasyland?

Friday Night Fights: Free For All - Round 1: Fallen Idol!

Welcome to the first round of Friday Night Fights: Free For All. Tonight's metallic melee comes from the Metal Men story "A Day In the Life" in Doom Patrol#1, written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Kevin Maguire. Our fight begins in Brazil:

How did the Metal Men get into this fix? Let Mercury and Lead provide some quick exposition:

Tina and Gold have a plan to bring down Zummazumma....

..which... doesn't work.

After that setback, the team regroups...

.... and uses some different strategies....

.... including Lead and Mercury's version of the "Fastball Special":

And how does that work out for them?

Quite well, actually!

Well, for the most part, anyway.

Metal Men 1, Giant Idol 0.

Tonight's fight music is "Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride)" by Don Felder. To see more fighters test their "metal", click here and vote for a fighter. Better yet, post an entry of your own in the coming rounds. It's easy and fun to do. If you don't have a scanner, it's a simple matter to check Scans Daily or use your search engine to find suitable fights. The more, the merrier!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Confessions Of A Comic-Con Virgin

The biggest exposure I've ever had to any comic book convention was an episode of the TV show "Entourage". But that changes this upcoming Saturday, when I attend the Chicago Comic Con 2010 Wizard World Convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

I've never attended one of these Comic Cons before, despite being a big fan of the genre.

So why am I attending this year? Here's why:


In addition to Shatner, the Con will also have Adam West, James Marsters, John "Q" de Lancie, Ethan Van Sciver, Michael "Patience Is A Virue" Golden, and "Iron" Mike Grell in attendance.

The Con will have one more key guest: Linda Hamilton.

Why do I call her a key guest? Because her appearance sealed the deal with my wife. Mrs. NITF, it turns out, is a major "Beauty And The Beast" fan.

I have no idea what to expect on Saturday, so if anyone who has attended other comic conventions can give me some insights, I would be extremely grateful.

I'll be the one wearing the Green Lantern t-shirt underneath a button shirt. I actually look a little bit like Hal in height and hair color. Hal, however, has a much better rear end.

Monday, August 09, 2010

True Story: Why I Bought Wonder Woman#601

There's a saying that success is one part inspiration and nine parts perspiration. Well, sometimes buying comics can be at least one part perspiration. At least, it was for me.

Let me tell you the story of why I bought Wonder Woman#601.

I was browsing through titles at my local comic shop. I grabbed the ones I definitely was going to purchase right off the bat, like both Green Lantern books and JLA: Generation Lost. Then I saw Wonder Woman#601.

I skimmed through the pages to see if I saw anything interesting enough to make me purchase it. There were some interesting things about it. I've enjoyed Don Kramer's artwork on the JSA, Detective Comics, and Nightwing books, and WW#601 was no exception.

As for the rest? It wasn't awful by any means. We learned a little more about the revised timeline. The highlight was Diana's mother Hippolyta literally going out in a blaze of glory, and we learned more about the fate of the Amazons. And we saw a mysterious new villain.

Plus, there was this page...

But still, there was a bit of a disconnect. The above positives notwithstanding, this chapter still didn't seem to hook my interest as much as these types of stories normally do. I think I was still having a hard time connecting to this "revised" Diana. So I was about to put it back on the rack.

But then I heard a small noise...


I looked down and saw that I had sweated on one of the interior pages.


Lousy, stinking sweat glands!

After wiping off the comic I had two choices: buy it or slip it back on the rack. The comic was printed on high quality glossy paper. Had it been on standard newsprint it would have caused actual damage to the page. Also, the clerk had not seen me sweat on it. If I had simply put the comic back, she would not have known.

But I would have known. So I shelled out the $2.99.

Lousy, stinking morals!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Superdickery Vs. Spider-Man

Last week I posted a scene from the Superman Vs. Spider-Man company crossover detailing their big fight. I couldn't help but notice something about how that fight concluded...

I'll guess: Is it the red sun radiation ray that temporarily made Spidey as strong as Big Blue?


(Insert dirty joke here.)

Ok, judging by the way he's been just standing there in the last few panels, I'd say Superman has figured out that Spidey's not nearly as strong as he was a few minutes ago. But does he warn Spidey? Does he try to gently stop Spidey's fists with his hands? Does he even try to duck or get out of the way?


Instead, he just steels himself and lets Spidey keep battering his fists against his invulnerable body again....

...and again....

....and AGAIN......

...until finally.....

But is Supes satisfied there? Nope, he's got to get in one last shot while they're "making up".

Keep in mind that Superman mastered how to shake hands with non-powered Earthlings when he was a kid, which would mean that he'd been shaking hands with normal humans for over 20 years.

Make no mistake: Superman is a dick!