Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Someone forgot to feed the dinosaur!

Awright, awright -- WHO forgot to feed Folded Soup this morning?!? Huh? Huh?

Honestly, you can't let dinosaurs run around hungry, or things like THIS happen. BAD, Soup! Naughty dinosaurs shouldn't eat super-heroes! BAD!!!!!

Shhhh--! Don't tell DC Comics that a big chunk of their regular meal ticket has just gone 'bye-'bye! Maybe they won't notice!

(Many apologies to Keller at DC Comics 40 Years Ago. I couldn't resist!)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Apparently, my "Inner Super-hero" is VERY confused

There are a WHOLE BUNCH of "Which Super-hero Are You?" tests out there -- tests that supposedly help people recognize their "inner super-hero." At this point, I really DON’T know which hero I would be, at least based on individual tests. SO, I’m gonna take as many of these tests as I can -- and the hero that pops up the most must be, by default, my inner super-hero, right? Well, here goes!

- FIRST -- According TheSuperheroQuiz.com, I’m the FLASH: "Fast, athletic and flirtatious."

Hmmmm ... I guess I can live with that.

- NEXT – According to the Guardian (U.K.), I’m Spider-Man, “a precociously gifted kid-at-heart who’s just trying to lead a normal life. Your chattering friends accept you as part of the gang. Little do they know that you have hidden depths.”

- The test at ChannelOne.com is one of the few that rates you as a man OR a woman. It says I'm Catwoman -- but as a man, I'd be Spider-Man: “THERE'S A DARK SIDE TO YOU, BUT YOU ALWAYS END UP DOING THE RIGHT THING. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREATER RESPONSIBILITY, SO DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE GLITZ AND GET CAUGHT IN A WEB OF EVIL.”

Okay, how are Spider-Man and Catwoman even REMOTELY similar to one another? Oh, well.

- NEXT – According to MatthewBarr.co.uk, I’m Superman:

- THIS test at OKCupid rates you by hero AND villain. I didn't even rate hero status on THIS test. Nope, apparently, I'm MR. SINISTER:

“Super Villain Born in 19th century London, Sinister was one of the most brilliant scientists of his day. He entered a pact with the centuries-old mutant Apocalypse, who granted him immortality, among other powers. Sinister is perhaps the greatest geneticist in the Marvel universe. He is capable of cloning, creating superhuman abilities and enhancing or controlling mutant abilities. Sinister was an overwhelming foe able to launch attacks on the astral plane, fire energy bolts capable of destroying the X-Mansion and create force-fields capable of holding both the X-Men and X-Factor at bay. His power levels appeared to be more than a match for the X-Men who were unable to defeat him. This is one bad-ass Villain.”

Okee dokee, moving on ...

- BrainFall.com says I’m Superman.

- Myyearbook.com says I’m Spider-Man.

- ProProfs.com says I’m Daredevil.

- Quizfarm’s Marvel-only quiz says I’m CYCLOPS:
"As the leader of the X-Men, Cyclops is mature, dedicated, and committed to his cause. A bit stuck-up and arrogant at times, he gets angry when people won't work for the good of the team."

- But QuizFarm’s DC-only test says I’m Green Lantern:
"After Test Pilot Hal Jordan crashed a jet, he stumbled upon a dying Alien that gave him an Oan power ring, which operates on willpower and imagination. He became Green Lantern of sector 2418. Hal is fearless and headstrong. Most heroes are his friends, although Batman seems to despise him because of his lack of fear, Batman's best weapon."

- Quizilla ALSO says I’m Green Lantern.

Now, there are a lot more tests out there, and many are very specific -- for Marvel-only heroes, DC-only heroes, male-only, female-only, etc., etc. ... I could keep taking these %#$*# tests forever.

Heck with this ... I'm gonna follow my inner Mr. Sinister and go be a supervillain.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Encore, Batman! Encore!

Y'know, I really did want to bash Batman this week. But, darnit, I can't. You see, I have a terrible confession to make. Believe it or not, I had NEVER watched the TV series Justice League Unlimited until just last week. NEVER. I became intrigued after the gang at Consortium of Badness posted a few clips a couple of months ago, and I finally broke down last week and acquired the DVDs. Mr. Sea and I have been very happily plowing through them. Good, fun series! I've heartily enjoyed watching it. My absolute favorite scene so far is THIS one:

Oh, Batman! You were my first love, you know -- and whenever I get close to forgetting it, a wonderful thing like this comes along to remind me.

It's not just Batman singing the blues that gets to me. I love Batman, and I love the blues -- but most importantly, I love that song. "Am I Blue" was written in 1929 by Harry Akst and Grant Clarke, and originally performed by the legendary Ethel Waters. I first heard the song the first time I watched the classic Warner Brothers film, To Have and Have Not, starring Humphrey Bogart and featuring Lauren Bacall in her oh-so-famous screen debut ("You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?"). In the movie, Bacall sings the song with legendary HOOSIER songwriter, composer, musician, and jazz artist, Hoagy Carmichael. (Hey, I'm a total sucker for anything with a Hoosier connection.)

Oh, NOW I'll have to pull out my DVD of To Have and Have Not and rewatch it. I love that movie.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AT LAST! Jane Austen with Zombies!

My apologies to the people out there who actually enjoy the works of Jane Austen, but I could never get into them -- they bore me to tears. But there's a new book coming out that MIGHT get me to change my opinion:

Yes, you read that title correctly! Here's the product description:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 20 illustrations in the style of C. E. Brock (the original illustrator of Pride and Prejudice), this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen's classic novel to new legions of fans.

The book is currently due for an April 8 release. Some of you probably recognize Austen's "co-author" here. Seth Grahame-Smith is also the co-author (along with Wes Craven) of How to Survive a Horror Movie. Fun stuff! Click here for this book's Amazon page, if anyone wants more information.

On an entirely different note: Mr. Sea is employed! They called him yesterday and said, "Hey, can you start work tomorrow?" So, he's at his new job RIGHT NOW. Best of all, it's a job he actually WANTED, rather than one he just had to take because he needed a job, any job. We should all be so lucky.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Still another reason why Batman hates Green Lantern

Here's a little snippet from Green Lantern: Blackest Night #0, showing a scene from the Justice League's early days:

Waitaminute -- WHAT did Hal say? Let's see that again in instant replay:

Oh, Hal, Hal, Hal ... As much as Batman probably deserved it, don't forget that without that ring, YOU don't have any superpowers, either!

Well, except maybe from the waist down.

(And, as usual, Aquaman proves that he's smarter than most people give him credit for.)

On that note -- Everyone get out your silliest Batman scans! Sally has announced that this is LET'S BASH BATMAN WEEK! Woo hoo!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Green Lantern vs. Superman (Kryptonian) battle on the horizon?

I don't normally blog about comic publisher solicits, 'cause I figure enough people do that already. However, I couldn't resist calling attention to this one little tale coming up in June, because it appears to involve a topic near and dear to my heart -- the strange, ongoing debate of who would win a REAL Superman vs. Green Lantern fight.

Apparently, in Superman: New World of Krypton #4, Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart go up against those uppity Kryptonians who've had the audacity to establish a new Krypton in space sector 2814. Not only that, they bring along Ion -- Sodam Yat. Ah, HA -- so, is Sodam being given an opportunity for some payback for the pasting he received from Superman Prime? I guess we'll find out.

Of course, I don't anticipate that this will be a REAL, FAIR fight to determine once and for all which is more powerful -- a Green Lantern or a Kryptonian. Writers haven't given us a fair fight yet, and they probably never will. Still, there's always hope. You can bet I'm going to examine this fight VERY carefully.

While I'm on a roll, here's a reminder to everyone to NOT forget that Free Comic Book Day is coming up soon -- Saturday, May 3 -- and there's a brand-new GREEN LANTERN title coming out specifically for that event: Blackest Night #0.

DC has also released a few pages from the book as a teaser for fans. The pages feature Hal Jordan standing in a graveyard.

So, is he standing before the graves of his parents, Martin and Jessica? NOPE!

Hmmmmmmmm ...!

Oh, and one more comment: You know, it's been fun seeing just how Geoff Johns has gone about getting Hal to be inducted (even temporarily) into every single Corps of Light. However, I've been at a loss as to just HOW Johns would get Hal an orange ring. After all, the Orange Lanterns are supposed to be a Corps of Greed (Avarice) -- and Hal has never been a particularly greedy guy. I thought maybe Johns would bypass a detailed account of Hal getting an orange ring and instead fall back on some sort of technicality. Silly me.

So, what does Hal have to be greedy about? Attention? Approval? Women? Cockpits? All of the above? It'll be interesting to see what Johns does with this.

Y'know, after this whole Blackest Night storyline is done, Hal is going to need a really, REALLY good therapist.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Most Mind-Boggling CRISIS Event of ALL!!

FIRST, you wrung your hands over Crisis of Infinite Earths!
THEN, you foamed at the mouth over Zero Hour!
You tore your hair over Identity Crisis!
You rolled your eyes at Infinite Crisis!
And you scratched your head over Final Crisis!

NOW, the DCU faces the most stunning Crisis Event of ALL TIME! Witness heroes AND villains battle against the most horrific event of their lives! DC Comics presents ... ECONOMIC CRISIS!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Other Hal Jordan

Just what is it with kid sidekicks in comics? Blame it on Batman -- he started the whole thing -- and kid sidekicks have been around ever since. Some people would have you believe a hero isn't worth the page he or she is printed on unless there's been a kid sidekick somewhere down the line. However, not every hero has had a kid sidekick -- and not all attempts at having a kid sidekick have worked out. Hence the subject of this article.

Throughout Green Lantern comic book history, the closest that Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan ever came to having a kid sidekick was when he teamed up (briefly) with Air Wave in the late 1970s. Well, a version of Air Wave, anyway.

Originally, Air Wave was a Golden Age super-hero who used a radio system to listen in on police reports and hunt down bad guys. He also traveled by (I’m not kidding) roller skating on telephone lines. After the original Air Wave died protecting his family from a bad guy, his wife briefly donned the costume to bring his killer to justice. Then, once her son reached the age of 16, he became the new Air Wave. Sonny-boy, however, had an advantage in the super-hero arena that his father didn’t have -– he could transmute himself into energy and travel along the actual air waves. No more roller skates!

In addition to having a pretty interesting family history already, young Air Wave also turned out to be a member of one of the most extended of extended families in super-hero comics –- that being the Jordan family, of Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan fame.

In fact, Green Lantern is young Air Wave's cousin -- though when the two first meet (in Green Lantern-Green Arrow #100, 1978), they don't know it. In fact, their first meeting doesn't go at all well. As with most personal introductions to Green Lantern, it starts off like this:

After Green Lantern and Air Wave finish pounding the heck out of each other, Air Wave admits that he's very new to the super-hero game and desperately needs pointers. Green Lantern offers to help him out a bit, and Air Wave succeeds in helping GL defeat that victim of 1970s fashion, the villain Master-Tek.

Hal decides that, awwww, he kinda likes Air Wave, and wants to take him under his wing. Besides, it turns out that Air Wave gets along well with another attempt of Hal's at having a sidekick, the alien Itty. But there are surprises galore in store for Green Lantern. Not only does Air Wave figure out that GL is Hal Jordan ...

Heck no, elder Hal doesn't mind. In fact, he thinks it's GREAT to have two super-heroes with the same real name (as long as it's HIS name, mind you). So, it at first appears that the team-up of elder Hal and younger Hal is destined for great things.

However, younger Hal DOES have some self-confidence issues -- not exactly something that the supremely self-confident elder Hal is well-equipped to handle. Not only that, instead of taking young Hal with him on missions, elder Hal usually just leaves him behind to babysit for Itty:

As for training Air Wave in the finer points of being a super-hero, Green Lantern leaves all that to Green Arrow. Ollie is more than happy to oblige -- but given his poor track record with Roy (Speedy) Harper, is leaving Air Wave with him really a good idea?

At long last, Air Wave gets an opportunity to go out and play super-hero for real. However, things go terribly wrong, and he ends up getting trapped, and rendered invisible, in his energy form:

Oh, but not to fear -- the older heroes notice he's missing and do everything they can to find him, right? Well ...

That's right -- no need to worry about the kid. He'll turn up eventually. In the meantime, let's party at Carol Ferris's mansion! Woo hoo!

Eventually (an issue later, in fact), elder Hal gets to thinking that, gee, his younger cousin has been gone an AWFULLY long time, and maybe he'd better try to look for him:

However, situations involving Sonar and Itty interrupt Hal's search, and Air Wave ends up having to get free all by himself. Once he does, he finds out that the Hard-Traveling Heroes are ALL in trouble. When he attempts to help them, though, they blow him off:

Things finally DO get straightened out, and all is well again. However, young Hal Jordan decides it's time to move in with elder Hal's much-more-stable older brother, Jack.

So, what becomes of Hal (Air Wave) Jordan after this? Well, for a while, he stars on-and-off in a backup feature in Action Comics, and a story about his dad appears in DC Comics Presents #40, 1981. He also has a couple of team affiliations, first with the Captains of Industry (where he briefly goes by the code-name Maser), and then as a Justice Society reservist. (Why he was never made a Teen Titan is beyond me.)

The last time anyone sees Air Wave is during Infinite Crisis, in which he seemingly vanishes:

Currently, Air Wave is missing, presumed dead. Ah, but Air Wave has been trapped in energy form before, and survived. So, who's to say he won't reappear some day, perhaps even in a Green Lantern story?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Red Lanterns have a kitty cat, right? Well ...

... who's to say the GREEN Lanterns can't have a kitty cat as well?

Many thanks to Bryon for steering me toward cartoonist Adam Koford's site Hobotopia. Everyone is encouraged to check it out!

On a cartoon-related note: Mr. Sea asked me to extend his apology for the drop-off in his "My Pal Itty" comic strips, particularly this week. Y'see, he's actually been getting job interviews! Have no fear, though -- job or no job, Mr. Sea still plans to keep going with "My Pal Itty." The strip is in no danger of dying out anytime soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

COMING SOON to a riot near YOU: One creepy, real-world robot

As a general rule, I’ve always loved robots –- I’ve always thought they’re fascinating, and downright cool. Granted, most of that love springs from robots as depicted in fiction (yay, Asimov!), but I’ve also, always been fascinated by advancements in real-world robotics.

However, occasionally I run across something that really makes me pause in declaring my universal love of robots.

Apparently, the U.S. military is currently looking for designs and bids on robots that can be used to chase down "uncooperative human subjects," and also perform crowd control. One company, Boston Dynamics, has stepped up to the challenge and is working to produce a robot that fits the bill. Their current prototype is called BigDog, and so far it appears to be a rather likely entry. It’s also downright ... well ... CREEPY. It isn't something from Robocop, or THX-1138, or Magnus Robot Fighter. It's something far less anthropomorphic, and yet it's not something that automatically screams, "Hey, I'm just a machine!"

BigDog is a hydraulic quadruped robot that can carry up to 340 lbs. It’s also capable of recovering its balance from sliding on ice or snow, or from attempts to knock it over. It’s also very noisy –- it sounds like a high-powered chainsaw (or a giant fly). Here is company video of the thing:

Some of the footage is actually kinda funny, but ... Sure, I like robots, but I think if I found myself suddenly being chased down by this creepy thing, I’d panic -- and I don’t think I’d be alone in reacting that way. If the military is looking for robots to perform crowd control, they might want to look into investing in something far less creepy. Crowd panic does not equal crowd control.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The new Wonder Woman animated movie, and a general Wonder Woman-related quibble

I finally had a chance to watch the new Wonder Woman animated movie the other night. I must say, I enjoyed it very much! Mr. Sea and I both thought it was highly entertaining (“A keeper,” per Mr. Sea). Yes, yes, the plot was essentially yet another super-hero origin tale, but the presentation was such that I didn’t really mind. The film is also gorgeous to look at. The art and animation team really did a superb job with this one.

The thing that surprised me the most about this movie was that it's much more humorous than I expected it to be. In fact, it's actually laugh-out-loud funny at times. Much of the humor is at the expense of Steve Trevor, and I can’t help thinking that the movie’s version of him is like a strange cross between Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. Steve has Hal’s remarkable, impossible piloting skills and his ways with the ladies, but with Guy Gardner’s, er, social skills (and also, sadly, with really bad hair). Two running gags in the film involve Steve’s favorite curse word (“Crap!”), and his encounters with Diana’s magical lasso, which of course compels him to tell the truth (“...nice rack!”) when he really doesn’t want to (“WHY am I telling you these things?!”). Steve is treated like the comic relief to Wonder Woman’s more serious nature, which actually works rather well.

It’s important to note that this movie DEFINITELY deserves its PG-13 rating. Wonder Woman is definitely depicted, at last, as a warrior, as she should be. However, I can’t remember the last time I saw this many decapitations in a single film. There are battles galore, and they are very violent. There are also monsters galore (including zombies) of various types, including at least two that look suspiciously like drawn versions of some classic Ray Harryhausen monsters(!).

(I was more than a little alarmed to see this movie included in the children’s section in a local Target store. There’s no way I’m letting Mighty Mite watch this movie until she’s at least close to her teens. When is the public-at-large going to learn that just because a movie is animated, it doesn’t mean it’s for children? “Hey, let’s go watch some old Ralph Bakshi movies, kids!”)

Wonder Woman isn’t a perfect movie by any means. Other reviewers have taken issue with how Etta Candy is depicted, and I must say I agree –- it’s a sad treatment of this long- established character. There’s also a scene that I swear is stolen straight from the first Hellboy movie. Still, for me, the movie's strong points far outweigh the weak ones.

However, the movie also reminds me why, though I am fond of Wonder Woman, I’ve never been a fan of her comic book solo stories.

Throughout my history of reading comic books, I’ve ALWAYS encountered people who assume that, just because I’m a woman, Wonder Woman must be one of my favorite characters. Well, no, she isn’t (I’ve always been more of a Black Canary fan), but my grievances with Wonder Woman really don’t have anything to do with the character herself. Rather, it has to do with the Wonder Woman version(s) of classical mythology.

Now, this is really just MY problem, and I don’t really expect anyone to agree with me, but my biggest issue with Wonder Woman stories is that I really, really hate how they depict the Greek gods, and Greco-Roman culture(s) in general. In Wonder Woman stories, the writers almost always rework the myths to make them more culturally Judeo-Christian than Ancient Greek, which really bugs the heck out of me. I can't help thinking that if Wonder Woman's mythological background was fine-tuned to more accurately reflect the original myths and ancient Greek culture, I would probably like her solo stuff much, much better than I do. Otherwise, for me, the character of Wonder Woman really, only consistently works as yet another member of the Justice League.

Just for example, here are a couple of quibbles I have with details from the movie:

(1) Ares and Hades are NOT EVIL!!! Or at least they certainly aren’t supposed to be. True, they reflect some unsavory aspects of human existence, but they are NOT EVIL. And since when is Hades like Bacchus/Silenus? Grrrrrrrr …

(2) The Underworld is NOT HELL. This always bugs the heck out of me. In ancient Greek culture, the idea of the Underworld sprang from the notion that when people die, they return to Gaia (the Earth). Sure, in the myths, the souls of some people do undergo punishment in the Underworld, but the Greek notion of HEAVEN also exists in the Underworld. (With a few minor exceptions, people didn’t go to Olympus when they died, folks! Olympus WASN’T Heaven –- it was just where the gods lived!). The Underworld is just where people go when they die, period. Depicting it like Hell is grossly inaccurate. The true Underworld, as it appears in the actual myths, is much more complex than that, and far more interesting.

Okay, okay, SORRY, sorry ...! Off m'soapbox, off m'soapbox ...!

I still liked the movie! I really, really did!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

And now for a LOT of Green Lantern artwork

Back in 1996, DC Comics produced a curious little publication called the Green Lantern Gallery: Being An Illustrative Chronology Of The Career Of Hal Jordan. Essentially, the publication was a comic book consisting entirely of splash pages drawn by various artists illustrating scenes from then-Green Lantern history. Some of the scenes were straight out of specific Green Lantern stories; others were character portraits; and still others were iconic scenes from no particular story. Here are a few examples of the artwork from this comic:

Front cover, Hal Jordan drawn by his designer, Gil Kane:

Hal Jordan and Abin Sur, by Brent Anderson:

Hal in space, by Jim Starlin:

Hal and the Guardians, by Alan Davis:

Hal fighting a winged monster, by Bernie Wrightson:

Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, by Dave Johnson:

Phil Jimenez's famous two-page spread of the entire Green Lantern Corps, pre-Parallax:

George Freeman's illustration of one of my favorite Black Hand moments, where Hand literally splits Hal up the middle:

Hal vs. Sonar (with poor Air Wave having problems in the background), by Oscar Jimenez. (I really should write an article about Air Wave sometime ...)

Star Sapphire, by Walt Simonson:

Hal vs. Mongul, by Claudio Castellini:

George Perez's famous drawing of Zero Hour:

Back cover, with Kyle Rayner by Darryl Banks, and Alan Scott by Mart Nodell: