Thursday, December 20, 2007


So, I sez to the hair-cutting lady, I sez, "Please don't put any gel or hairspray in my hair."

The hair-cutting lady sez, "Okee dokee!" Then she proceeds to put both gel AND hairspray in my hair.

My hair looks awful right now -- even worse than it did before. And I won't be able to wash this stuff outta my hair until this evening. Oh, well -- at least I don't look like Neanderthal Hal Jordan here:

I think I'll go put on a hat.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Origin of the Worst Hairstyle in Comics

Okay, okay, there's no question that the mullet is a truly awful hairstyle. And, unfortunately, it has also been worn by a great many superheroes at one time or another, from Superman to Susan Storm Richards (though I would argue that the worst comic book mullet belonged to Dick Grayson).

HOWEVER, in my opinion, there is a far worse hairstyle that has regularly appeared in comics. It's THIS one:

I don't know the proper name for this particular hairstyle -- assuming it has a name. I usually call it "Wolverine hair," simply because Wolverine is the best-known character who has it. But it definitely has my vote as the worst superhero hairstyle of all time.

Now, I have heard a lot of other comic book readers complain about Wolverine hair over the years. Some try to blame either Marvel Comics or DC Comics for creating the style ("MARVEL did it first!" "No, no, DC did it first!") Others single out specific superhero artists for starting the unfortunate trend.

MY argument is that the style did NOT originate with a comic book company. It also didn't originate with a particular superhero artist. Nope, the person responsible for creating this hideous hairstyle was none other than Charles Schultz:

See? CHARLES SCHULTZ! It's all HIS fault!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Worst Long-Term (but Temporary) Superhero Hairstyles

And we can all be grateful that these hairstyles WERE temporary! Sure, maybe other superheroes have had worse temporary hairstyles, but these are the ones that stand out for me:

Superman with a mullet:

Storm with a mohawk:

Peter Parker with a perm:

(Maybe the thing that "still isn't right" is your hair, Petey!)

Power Girl with Eighties Hair (with headband!):

(Personally, I don't think Power Girl's hair looks that bad, but Mr. Sea has an issue with it and insisted that I post it.)

Black Canary with BIG Eighties Hair (with headband!):

Guy Gardner with a bowl cut (no, Guy Gardner did NOT start off with a bowl cut, and he does NOT have one now!):

Now, now, Guy -- no need to get upset.

Hal Jordan with Reed Richards hair:

Vixen with Wolverine hair:

(Note to DC heroes: DO NOT look to Marvel heroes for hairstyle ideas! It's always a BAD idea!)

Dick Grayson with a mullet, which he also wore in a pony tail and in a sort-of-braided-rat-tail thing:

Actually, Dick Grayson has a very long history of bad hair. I mean, he spent his entire childhood with THIS hair:

I mean, what IS that? But then, what else should be expected from a teenager in green shorts and pixie boots? But ya gotta give him props for being brave enough (or stupid enough) to go out in public like that.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Bad Hair Week!

Sea needs a haircut! But Sea may not be able to get a haircut until the end of the week. SO, Sea's gonna take her frustrations out on superheroes, starting with the biggest pretty-boy in the history of the Marvel Universe -- The Mighty THOR -- er -- SORE! Courtesy of What The-?!#6 (1990):

Aaaaaaaah, ha, ha, ha, ha, haaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Green Lantern #25 (2007): Total Gushing Fangirl Rave-Rant

It’s certainly no secret to regular readers of this blog that I am a longtime Green Lantern fan (despite my tendency to poke fun at Green Lantern). And, yes, Hal Jordan is my favorite Green Lantern, and has been my favorite Green Lantern my entire life, though I’m also very fond of Guy, John, Kyle, Alan, Natu, Kilowog, Arisia ... Aw, heck, I like ALL Green Lanterns.

I’m also not prone to gushing about new-release comic book issues on this blog, but I just HAVE to gush about Green Lantern #25. Reason? For me, the entire Sinestro Corps War has been the single best thing to appear in a regular-mainstream-ongoing comic title since Chris Claremont and John Byrne unleashed the original Phoenix Saga in The Uncanny X-Men years and years and years ago. I also think it’s the best Green Lantern/Corps story I’ve ever read, and I’ve read just about all of them, including all those going way back to 1959. Green Lantern #25 is one of those rare comics in which an epic storyline is wrapped up and ISN'T a huge disappointment.

I’m not going to launch into a tremendously detailed review essay of Green Lantern #25, but anyone who doesn’t want to encounter spoilers should quit reading right now because I’m gonna list things, big and small, that I noted and liked about the issue (and about the current Green Lantern run in general). And please note that these are just my opinions and observations. No one is expected to agree with me!

- Guy Gardner's reply to Hal Jordan's "Good luck" was completely appropriate: "We're Lanterns, Jordan. We NEVER have good luck." It's funny 'cause it's true.

- Those lousy Guardians of the Universe. I never know whether to love ‘em or hate ‘em -– and I’m sure Green Lantern Corps officers feel the same way. One minute the Guardians are being petty and treating their corps members like dirt, and the next minute they’re sacrificing themselves to fight the Anti-Monitor and blow up Superman Prime. Well, they may be petty and make remarkably dumb mistakes for such ancient and wise beings, but GEEZ the Guardians are bold little suckers.

- Speaking of the Guardians, I am more than a little honked off at Ganthet and Sayd: “Well, there’s this big nasty prophecy, and here are all the details. Now, you Earth boys have fun saving the universe -– we’re outta here. 'Bye!” Yeah, real helpful there. Thanks bunches. Your Blue Lanterns better be worth all this!

- Michigan wolverines! Literal wolverines! Green ones! With Michigan logos! Now, how many times has THAT sight ever been seen in a comic book? Not even the X-men take advantage of THAT gag. It's even funnier that Guy produced them while quoting from the movie Red Dawn. I appreciated that touch of humor very much. And to think I thought it was funny enough when Guy had a Michigan sticker on his power battery.

- John and Guy using WarWorld as a big ‘ol “grenade”--! Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT!

- Coast City displaying total solidarity and trust in Hal--! Sure, maybe the inhabitants should’ve had a greater sense of self-preservation, but that’s not the point behind trust. It was a total popcorn moment for Hal Jordan fans, and I was a total sucker for it. Beautiful, beautiful moment.

- “Kick their butts, Uncle Hal!” That was so cute! (So, why do I think a little girl yelling something like that is cute? Hell, I dunno ...)

- John Stewart clocking Bizarro Hal with a green sledgehammer was priceless. I was so hoping Bizarro Hal would put in an appearance. For anyone unfamiliar with Bizarro Hal, check out Action Comics #855 through #857 and have a laugh.

- So, the Sinestro sentient virus Despotellis was taken out by a Green Lantern that just happened to be a superintelligent smallpox virus ...? Granted, Leezle-Pon has been around for a while, but ... A virus doesn't seem like ideal Green Lantern material to me, but whatta I know? Sure, it wiped out Despotellis and subsequently saved Guy, but ... It's a SMALLPOX virus, for crying out loud, one of the nastiest diseases in existence. How odd.

- As much as I hate Superman(Superbrat) Prime (and that just goes to show that writer Geoff Johns has done a superb job of painting the character as a villain), I loved it when he hauled off the Anti-Monitor and chucked him across the cosmos. And, after all, that’s one of the perils that major villains face when they team up with each other -- They never seem to anticipate when one of them is going to go turncoat.

- Hey, Kyle's "crab mask" actually looked -- I dunno -- right for a change! Like it fit him properly or something. How strange.

- Much as I loved the huge epic battles between the heroes and villains all through the story, for me, nothing quite beat the fight involving Hal, Kyle and Sinestro -- without superpowers. Great brawl! And Hal's final insult-to-injury was the icing on the cake: "You're under arrest." Hee, hee, hee! Yeah, Sinestro can think his little scheme succeeded all he wants. Hal still managed to one-up him.

- I loved the moments with Jim Jordan's family. Good family moments are still, sadly, very rare in superhero comics, but Hal Jordan is one of the few superheroes who has always had a strong and extensive family background. It was so nice to see his surviving family members being handled well throughout the story. Jim and Susan have been in the comics almost as long as Hal has, and I'm always glad to see 'em.

- Interesting moment -- John Stewart, ever the sensible one, points out quite rightly that power rings with lethal force make the Lanterns no different from other cops or soldiers. Interesting, interesting ...

- Darn it, I actually feel sorry for Hank Henshaw. He certainly didn't make any real friends when he, er, befriended the Manhunters.

- Black Lanterns! That symbol on their rings looks suspiciously like the symbol for the Black Hand. Looks like when first the Spectre and then those little Kroloteans (Gremlin aliens) messed around with Black Hand during Rebirth and GL #4 through #6, respectively, they opened up a WHOLE can of worms. Hmmmmmmm ...

- THINGS TO COME: Undead Lanterns! Now wait just a minute ... That seems awfully familiar. Granted, writer Geoff Johns has been borrowing heavily from the entire library of Green Lantern lore, including those old stories by Alan Moore, but the Green Lanterns have faced issues of cosmic destruction before -- and they’ve certainly faced “undead” Lanterns before. For those who don’t already know this, way back in 1981 (and here I am showing my age again), there was a three-issue Tales of the Green Lantern Corps storyline in which the entire corps was up against a truly nasty critter known as Nekron, Lord of the Unliving. Now, in that battle, all manner of dead beings were resurrected to fight the Green Lanterns and the Guardians ("Everyone who has ever lived is mine now to command!"). Ultimately, Nekron was stopped due to many factors, the most significant being that dead Green Lanterns turned against him. And there are a LOT of dead Green Lanterns. This upcoming Blackest Night story seems similar -- except, of course, for the involvement of SEVEN different corps rather than just the Green Lanterns. Can't wait to see how that pans out.

- On this blog, I certainly haven’t held back the fact that I absolutely love Ivan Reis’s artwork, and I’ve loved it ever since he began illustrating Green Lantern. However, I think he really outdid himself on Green Lantern #25. Many “fair-weather” Green Lantern fans have made a big deal of Ethan Van Sciver’s artwork ever since Green Lantern: Rebirth –- and don’t get me wrong, because I love Van Sciver’s work, too -– but for me Ivan Reis’s work is easily on par with Van Sciver’s, if not better. Readers of GL #25 are even treated to side-by-side comparisons between these two superb artists. Hopefully readers who haven’t been keeping up with the current GL stories will now explore the issues leading up to Sinestro Corps War and see for themselves just how good Ivan Reis is, and has been all through his work on this title.

- Speaking of Reis’s art versus Van Sciver’s art -– and this is just a picky and totally self-indulgent fangirl thing (and read into this whatever you want, especially given my previous statement), but -- I like Reis’s drawings of Hal better than I like Van Sciver’s. Hal is supposed to be a very attractive man, and I just think Reis’s Hal is much more handsome than Van Sciver’s Hal. I also love the way Reis draws Batman and all of the machine components on Cyborg Superman -– and how he draws machinery in general.

Anyway, that's enough of my raves and rants for now. One more thing, though: THANK YOU, Geoff Johns & Co.! And thank you, DC! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have Green Lantern written by someone who I’m convinced loves the character(s) as much as I do. Thank you ever so much for this thrill ride -– for however long it lasts!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two more (okay, three) Indiana movie references

Well, whaddaya know! This weekend, while watching Turner Classic Movies, I encountered two more film references to my beloved, weird state of Indiana. I was previously unaware of these references:

- In the 1935 musical Roberta, the characters played by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are both from Indiana. Fred, in fact, plays the bandleader for a band called the Wabash Indianans. (Gee, they must be from Wabash, Indiana.) At one point during the movie, which is set in Paris, France, Fred mockingly proclaims, "I am the Marquis de Indiana!"

- In the musical High Society (1956), Frank Sinatra's character is from South Bend, Indiana. Of course, Sinatra sounds absolutely nothing like a Hoosier. Wrong accent, folks!

I love Turner Classic Movies.

And yes, YES, I know that a large portion of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) is set in Indiana. My brother, George, keeps insisting that I mention Close Encounters, even though it's never been my intention to cover ALL movies set in Indiana. Happy now, George?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Green Comic Book Heroes: More Than Most People Know!

In comic books, starting with the Golden Age era in the 1930s and 1940s, many characters have had colors tagged to their names. Oftentimes, for creative purposes, a character couldn't be called just "the Avenger," for example -– he had to be "the CRIMSON Avenger," or something similar. It made the character sound more interesting, it gave the creators a color scheme to work with, and it made it easier for the publisher to establish rights to the character.

Though often dismissed by '30s and '40s book and magazine printers as a “cheap” color (particularly for political ads), the color green wasn't exempt from the character-name color trend. Green was used for the names, appearances, and even weaponry of heroes and villains alike. To this day, it has held up as a very popular and durable color choice for many characters.

When it comes to comic book characters, particulary super-heroes, most readers know of at least one or two “Green” heroes. Most readers have heard of Green Arrow, for example, or Green Lantern. However, the list of Green heroes is much more extensive than that. Ever heard of the Green Ghost? How about the Green Turtle? Or the Green Lama? Following is a mostly-chronological listing of Green heroes that have appeared in comics over the decades.

Green Hornet

First among the Green heroes was the Green Hornet. The Green Hornet first debuted as a radio serial hero in 1936, but was adapted for comic books by the 1940s. A descendant of the Lone Ranger, newspaper publisher Britt Reid continued his family’s crimefighting legacy as the Green Hornet. However, instead of the Lone Ranger's six-shooter, the Hornet carried a knockout-gas gun, and also a Taser-like gun. He also had a big, intimidating black sedan called Black Beauty instead of a white horse named Silver.

Where the Lone Ranger had Tonto as a sidekick, the Hornet had Kato, an expert in martial arts and also a gifted mechanic and chemist. Kato was originally depicted as Japanese, but depending on which country the United States was at war with at the time, Kato’s ancestry changed over the years to Filipino and then Korean before eventually returning to his original Japanese origin.

The Green Hornet and Kato are perhaps best known today via the 1960s Green Hornet television show starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, but the characters continue to have a complex comic book history. In at least one series of comics, the roles of Green Hornet and Kato were handed down through generations of the Reid and Kato families, and the role of Kato was once filled, briefly, by a woman.

Green Mask

Debuting in Mystery Men Comics #1 in 1939, the original Green Mask was the alter-ego of private investigator Michael Shelby. Initially a gun-toting crimefighter similar to the Green Hornet, the Green Mask eventually acquired super-strength, invulnerability, and the power of flight after being exposed to “vita-rays.” He also had a teen sidekick, Domino the Miracle Boy. His last appearance was in 1942.

The second Green Mask, who debuted in 1944, was Johnny Green. He was said to be the son of (and looked very much like) the original Green Mask. Johnny Green was sort of like a strange combination of Captain Marvel (Shazam!) and the Hulk in that he was a teenager who, upon becoming angry, transformed into an adult crimefighter.

Green Lama

The first Buddhist superhero, the Green Lama first appeared in Double Detective #5 in the spring of 1940. In addition to comic books and pulp stories, Green Lama was also the subject of a brief radio program in the 1940s. The Lama's alter ego was rich American college student Jethro Dumont, who traveled to Tibet to study Buddhism. After spending years in meditation, Dumont returned to the U.S. as the mystical superhero Green Lama, often helping the armed forces fight Nazis and other bad guys.

By reciting the Jewel Lotus Mantra (“Om Mani Padme Hum”), the Green Lama gained strength, invulnerability, and the power to fly. The Lama also could deliver electric shocks by drinking a potion, had the power to summon ghosts, and sometimes wore a red scarf that he used alternately as a whip and a garotte.

Recently, the Green Lama was revived as a major character in Dynamite Entertainment's comic book series Project Superpowers.

Green Lantern

In the DC Comics universe, there are literally thousands of Green Lanterns from thousands of worlds. Every Green Lantern wears a green ring that enables the bearer to do pretty much anything that the bearer can imagine, including fly, travel through space, walk through walls, read minds, and generate (usually green) solid constructs. Most Lanterns are officers of the Green Lantern Corps, and the real names of a few dozen Lanterns are known to readers.

The first Green Lantern to appear in comics, Alan Scott, was not a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Alan Scott debuted in All-American Comics #16 in the summer of 1940, as a young engineer who survived a terrible accident with the help of a mystical green lantern. Alan Scott carved a ring from the lantern and became the superhero known as Green Lantern. The powers of the first Green Lantern were primarily magical in nature, but readers would eventually be introduced to a Green Lantern with an entirely different background.

In 1959, DC Comics overhauled the Green Lantern concept to take advantage of then-popular science fiction trends, and a new Green Lantern was introduced. Test pilot Hal Jordan first appeared in Showcase #22, becoming Green Lantern after receiving a ring from dying alien Abin Sur. Over time, readers were introduced to the Green Lantern Corps, a sort-of intergalactic police force made up of 3600 officers and their respective space sectors (Hal Jordan was the Green Lantern for space sector 2814).

The comics have introduced other Green Lanterns from Earth through the years, notably Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner. However, Hal Jordan has remained the key Green Lantern of Earth, on and off, for over 40 years now.

Over the decades, DC Comics has tried numerous times to replace old Green Lantern characters with newer ones, or do away with the Green Lantern Corps altogether. Ultimately, every attempt has resulted in not only the return of older characters but an increase in the overall Green Lantern population. At this writing, even Alan Scott is still active, as a member of the updated Justice Society of America, and the current population of the Green Lantern Corps is 7200 officers.

Green Ghost

The first Green Ghost, originally known merely as the Ghost (and not to be confused with a pulp hero of the same name from the early 1930s), debuted in Thrilling Comics #3 in 1940. The Ghost was really magician and occult investigator George Chance, who put his skills to use fighting crime, aided by his wife, Betty. The Green Ghost’s initial run ended with issue #52 in 1946, but the character was revived by Alan Moore in 2001. Most recently, Green Ghost appeared as a member of the America’s Best Comics superhero team S.M.A.S.H. (Society of Modern American Science Heroes).

The second Green Ghost (along with his female partner, Lotus) was a main character in Evolution Comics’ short-lived New Frontiers comic in the late 1980s.

Green Giant

Long before the Jolly Green Giant (symbol of the Green Giant food company) there was Green Giant, who appeared in –- and only in -- Green Giant Comics #1, in 1940. Green Giant (real name: Brent Wood) was 15 feet tall, super-strong, and invulnerable. He was a precursor to later giant-sized comic book heroes like Giant-Man, Goliath, and Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol.

Green Arrow

Green Arrow first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941 and remains a very popular comic book hero. Based on Robin Hood, Green Arrow (alias Oliver Queen) uses archery to fight crime.

Initially, Green Arrow bore more than a passing resemblance to Batman. Like Batman's alter-ego Bruce Wayne (but also like many comic book heroes that debuted in the 1940s), Oliver Queen was a wealthy man with tremendous resources at his disposal. Like Batman, Green Arrow also used gadgets (mainly trick arrows) for fighting crime. He even had an Arrow Cave, an Arrow Car, an Arrow Plane, and a teenage sidekick (in his case, Speedy).

In the late 1960s, Green Arrow was drastically redesigned as a bewhiskered battler of social injustices, and has been that way (and has been a much more popular character) ever since. Much grittier now than during his Golden-Age days, Green Arrow usually operates as a sort-of liberal counterpoint to some of the more conservative heroes of the DC Comics universe.

Oliver Queen's son, Conner Hawke, also fights crime as Green Arrow.

Green Knight

Comic book history is full of adaptations of the Green Knight of Arthurian legend (from the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). Unrelated to those, in December 1941, a super-hero called the Green Knight made his debute in Dynamic Comics #2. The Green Knight was wealthy American sportsman Denis Knight, who, inspired by tales of the knights of old, decided to use his archery skills to fight crime. He was very similar to Green Arrow, and he also had a kid sidekick, named Lance. The Green Knight and Lance appeared in only two issues of Dynamic Comics before fading into obscurity.

Green Turtle

First appearing in Blazing Comics #1 in 1944, Green Turtle was a Chinese crimefighter who battled the Japanese in occupied China during World War II, aided by his heavily armed Turtle Plane and a teen sidekick called Burma Boy. The Green Turtle was often accompanied by a large “turtle shadow” that seemed to function as a sort of Greek chorus for the hero.

Green Fury - Green Flame - Fire

Brazilian super-hero Beatriz Bonilla Da(Corvalho)Costa made her debute in the original Superfriends comic book (issue #25, 1979), at a time when DC Comics was seemingly eager to add as many international super-heroes to its roster as possible. Originally called the Green Fury, Bea’s powers primarily revolved around the presence and manipulation of a mystical green flame. Over the years, her powers evolved and changed to include flight (at one point, somewhat embarrasingly, by breathing flames through her nose), fire blasts, the ability to case illusions, and the ability to completely engulf herself in flames (which often resulted in her burning off all of her clothing).

Only a few years after her debute, Bea underwent an origin change in DC Comics Presents #46, 1982, and her powers became science-based rather than magic-based. Her super-hero name also changed, from Green Fury to Green Flame, before she finally settled upon Fire when she joined the Justice League along with her friend Tora (Ice) Olafsdotter. Fire’s other team affilitions within the DC Comics universe have included the Global Guardians, Checkmate, and the Super Buddies.

If anyone out there has any detailed information about other comic book heroes with “green” names (and, please, I’m interested in cataloging heroes, not villains), I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Unfortunate headbutt placement (or is that butthead?)

Gut checks in comic books never quite look right. All too often they end up looking more like crotch shots, as in the following case with Evil Star vs. Green Lantern:

No, no, no, Evil Star -– you got it all wrong. If you wanna take Hal Jordan out of commission, ya gotta hit him in the HEAD. The HEAD!

Oh, well. I guess this sort of thing should be expected from a guy who “bangs backward,” anyway.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

First cars: Beulah the Blonde Bombe

Almost since automotive history began, it’s been true that most people acquire their first cars as teenagers, and they rarely have a say in what cars they end up with. Teenagers usually dream of having cars that are glamorous or prestigious in some way, but their options are often limited due to things like cost, insurance, and paranoid parents.

For example, there are the teenagers who end up with oversized automotive monstrosities (also affectionately known as “boats”) because their parents are on a mission to keep their teens “safe.” Sure, the teens might be safer in boats than in other types of cars, but woe betide any other cars on the road when the teens are struggling to keep their boats under control -– and within traffic lanes.

Then there are the teenagers who end up with worn-out, broken-down vehicles because they're affordable (and most parents would rather have their teens wreck heaps than take the risk on nicer cars). Such cars usually make teens want to do nothing more than go into hiding so none of their friends (and enemies) can see them driving heaps (never mind that most of the friends and enemies are also driving heaps –- or boats).

Oh, how I wish I’d ended up with a boat.

When I was in college, Mom ventured out one summer to find me a car, which I thought was a very nice and generous thing for her to do. I was away working as a camp counselor at the time, so I wasn’t involved in the selection or purchase of the car. However, I wasn’t worried. My family had a long history of owning cool cars. After all, my very first car ride had been in my mom’s 1965 Plymouth Barracuda. Other family cars had included a 1966 Mustang and a 1972 Gran Torino. So, why worry? My first car was gonna be cool. I just knew it.

I was dead wrong.

When my stint as a camp counselor was over for the summer, my friends drove me home, and the first thing I saw was a strange car in the driveway. Well, I thought it was a car. It was strange, no doubt about it. It was a tan-colored 1969 Volkswagon Beetle Deluxe with so many holes rusted through the body that, from a distance, the car looked like a dirty Dalmatian -- or a really ugly ladybug. About the only thing “Deluxe” about the car, as far as I could tell, was the extra chrome on the rear vents (rusted) -– oh, and the sunroof, which had to be opened via a hand crank with a broken handle.

Surely this had to be someone else’s car, I thought. My mom couldn’t possibly have purchased this sad little machine for me!

At that moment, Mom stepped out of the house to welcome me home and give me a big hug. “So, whaddaya think?” she asked, grinning broadly and pointing at the car.

My friends, still in their immaculate 1979 Honda Prelude, yelled a hasty “WELL-G'BYE-SEE-YA!" They drove off, laughing. My heart sank.

“What do I think of what?” I blurted to my mom.

“The car!” she said. “It’s yours!”

“It ... needs a little work, doesn’t it?” I managed to squeak out. Mom started getting defensive.

“It’s a Herbie!” she insisted. “I got it for you because you always loved Herbie!” She was referring to the cute little VW Beetle from Disney’s Herbie the Love Bug film series.

“Mom,” I said very patiently, “I was five years old.”

No amount protesting was going to help, however. The car was mine whether I liked it or not. It was also the only vehicle available to me. My parents made it clear that the other family cars -– the cool cars -– were off limits to me from that moment onward. The Volkswagon was my car, and my responsibility.

It didn’t help when a friend of mine dubbed the car Beulah the Blonde Bombe. The car suddenly had a name, and it stuck. That made it part of the family. That meant that, as long as the car or I lived, I could never get rid of it. Family policy.

So, I drove Beulah because I had no choice, and I soon learned that the car had more in common with Mom’s “Herbie” tag than I'd initially thought. The car definitely had a mind of its own. Beulah ran when Beulah felt like running, and Beulah broke down when and where it felt like breaking down. Within three months, Beulah and I had been towed home from nearly every street within a 60 mile radius of my Indianapolis neighborhood. Mechanics that looked at the car scratched their heads and muttered that they couldn’t figure out why it ran so inconsistently. I went broke from paying towing and garage fees.

Then there was the problem of Beulah’s rusty floorboards. Beulah had so many gaping holes in the floor that whoever sold the car to Mom had covered the holes with strips of lumber. The lumber wasn’t attached to anything. During long drives (when Beulah felt like running), my feet often accidently shoved a board aside to reveal a large hole leading to bare, rushing pavement. My car, in effect, was a Flintstone-mobile. I was terrified I was going to fall through the floor of the car one day -– or one of my feet would fall through, and then good-bye foot.

The holes in the floor, and additional holes in the wheel wells, also made driving in the rain VERY interesting. Depending on how much rain there was, and how fast I was driving, Beulah’s interior could get flooded with up to an inch of water before the car came to a stop and the water leaked back out. During the rainy season, my feet were never dry. I really could have used a boat -– a REAL boat -– at that point.

Finally, the day came when Beulah refused to run ever again. The car gave up the ghost right in the middle of the driveway, and it had to be towed just one more time – this time to the local scrap yard. Without complaint, I took the meager $100 that the scrap guys offered me for Beulah.

I bummed rides from my friends for a while, until I could scrape together enough cash and credit to buy a car on my own, a car that I KNEW would run when needed. I ended up buying a Toyota Tercel. I know, I know ... Not a cool car. But it didn’t leak, and it ran.

My current car? It’s an old 1994 Saturn SC1 that I love very much. Is it cool? Not really. But it RUNS.

Monday, December 3, 2007

And now for a little artwork: More Ivan Reis

From Green Lantern #21 (2007), Part 2 of the Sinestro Corps War, comes this page depicting a moment of personal struggle for Hal Jordan. Prior to this scene, Hal, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner were kidnapped by being sucked into the main power battery on Oa and brought to Qward. On Qward, Hal is then subjected to an illusion of his greatest fear -– the very real probability that his father died in terror:

I like this page because it tells a lot about Hal without him having to say very much. He's on his knees in fear, one hand covering his face while the other hand tenses, showing his internal struggle to not give in to his fear. Then he draws his hand away from his face and, without opening his eyes to look at the figure walking up behind him, indicates that he KNOWS who's there. He doesn't need to open his eyes to know that it's Parallax.

It's not visible in this scan, but drawn in blue pencil over the kneeling figure of Hal is another rendering of him, presumably Ivan Reis's original depiction of the scene. In blue pencil, Hal's head is tilted back and he appears to be screaming. I think Mr. Reis made the right decision in how he ultimately chose to depict the kneeling Hal Jordan. Screaming would have been a bit out of character for Hal in this instance. He's not a character prone to giving in to fear if he can help it.

Here's the finished page:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The real reason Batman dislikes Hal Jordan

Batman has just never forgiven Hal Jordan for the time Hal passed gas inside that ring-generated bubble:

Hal: “It wasn't me, Bats -- it was the Guardian. Honest!”
Bruce: “You've been eating Green Arrow's chili again, haven't you!”
Guardian: “While learning your Earth customs, I have heard that an appropriate response in situations like this is, 'The one who smelled it ...'”

Wow. Doing that in front of Batman, and in an enclosed environment, is proof that Hal has no fear. Not only that, how horrible it must be to be stuck with a static air supply! I hope Hal included an air filtration system on that thing.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Unfortunate hand placement

Is this one reason why Barry (the Flash) Allen spent a lot of time with Green Lantern?

Barry is getting a real, er, charge out of Hal, isn't he? Those bad, bad boys. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. The Guardians probably don't approve of using battery energy for that sort of thing.

Here's a sign Barry probably spent too much time around Hal. For anyone who thinks Barry never experienced a Hal Jordan-like moment of head-bashing clumsiness:

Hal's just a bad influence on everyone.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Flash's other, little-known super power

Apparently, in addition to having super speed, Barry (the Flash) Allen had a super power that no other Flash has exhibited. Check this out:

Yes, it seems that Barry Allen -- without the aid of any devices or equipment -- could talk underwater. He could really talk up a storm, in fact. Take into consideration this underwater battle with the Maugites (fancy name for Fish People):

Blah, blah, blah, blah ...

Monologue, monologue, monologue ...

Yak, yak, yak, yak ...

Now, GET THIS: After Barry finishes beating up the fish people, he climbs out of the water and THINKS to himself how nice it is to be able to breathe again:

Wow. Underwater, Barry Allen could talk while holding his breath. Not even Aquaman can do that. Barry must've really wowed 'em at Justice League parties by drinking glasses of water while talking at the same time. I am in awe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Barry Allen's gorilla complex

In those old Silver Age stories, just what is it with Barry Allen and gorillas? Sure, Gorilla Grodd is an arch-enemy of Barry's, but just mention gorillas around Barry and he practically loses his head over it. Case in point:

Great Scott, Barry! Do you think it could be a ... a ... gorilla?!

He's gonna be really disappointed if it turns out to be just a chimpanzee.

Love the hat, by the way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Barry, what's wrong with your head?"

Hal Jordan, otherwise known as Green Lantern officer 2814.1, has been around since the Silver Age era of comic books. Everyone loves Hal Jordan:

Well, okay ... Everyone loves picking on Hal Jordan. Admit it.

In Silver Age stories, one of Hal’s best friends is Barry Allen, the Flash. In addition to being very fast, Barry is smart and talented:

He also cooks a mean souffle, folks. Honest.

Usually, Barry and Hal together are an effective and efficient super-hero team. Usually:

Friends though they are, Hal and Barry are very different characters. However, they do have one very strange thing in common:

Both are regularly subjected to convenient plot devices (which have long since become running gags) tailored for each of them by writers wanting to give bad guys a chance to stop ‘em fairly easily without having to rely ONLY on excuses like, “Oh, the power ring doesn’t work on anything YELLOW,” and other such Kryptonite-like absurdities.

Whew. Okay. For example...

In order for Hal Jordan to use his super-power (his power ring), he has to be able to concentrate. Now, how do you wreck a super-hero’s concentration? Why, you whack him in the head, of course:

There. That’s easy. No need for the bad guys to look around for anything yellow in order to take Green Lantern out of commission. It makes the writer’s job a whole lot easier, and it lets the (often suspiciously gleeful) artist find creative ways to whack an arrogant super-hero in the head.

What if you aren’t in a good position to whack Hal Jordan in the head? No problem, because writers have found a way around it: You can just wait for Hal to run into something. Don’t worry –- you won't have to wait long. Sure, his ring might glow, but Hal himself isn’t too bright sometimes:

(Ever get the feeling that Hal Jordan must be related to George of the Jungle? “Hey, HAL! Watch out for that--! Oh, never mind ...”)

Now, let’s look at Barry Allen. Taking out the Flash is a bit trickier than taking out Green Lantern, but there’s a common plot device for doing so. Consider this: How do you stop a super-speed runner? Simple -- just prevent him from running. The real question is, what’s the best way to do that? There are many ways to stop the Flash from running, but writers have come up with two particularly popular approaches:

Approach #1: Find a way to get the Flash to gain a ridiculous amount of weight. It doesn’t matter how you do it. You can either fatten him up ...

... or you can go with more efficient (and potentially less messy) methods, like this one:

Or this one:

Now, here's popular Approach #2 to stopping the Flash from running, and it's a very weird approach indeed: Make his head huge. We can all blame Hal Jordan for establishing this trend, because he did it first:

Um, couldn't you have just tied Barry's feet together or something, Hal? Been hanging around with Hector Hammond a little too much? Oh, well. Once Hal started the giant-headed-Barry trend, EVERYONE wanted to try it:

It's even happened to Wally West once or twice:

Poor Barry. Poor Wally. Poor Flashes. Why, oh why, oh WHY did you have to start this abominable trend, Hal? Were ya just jealous that Barry never got hit in the head? Huh? Were ya? Huh?

Oh, never mind ...