Joker artlapse

Cool little video of artist Ming Doyle drawing the Joker:

Her website has some random cool pieces.  I recommend a peruse.

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The HAMMER Comes Down

Here’s something that appeals only to fanboys: what the hell does HAMMER stand for?  Ever since SHIELD died a horrible death in the wake of Secret Invasion, we’ve been hearing about Norman Osborn’s newer, eviller organization: HAMMER.  But the acronym was left unexplained.  For a while, at least:

HAMMER means nothing

So Norman Osborn admits what some had guessed: HAMMER means nothing at all.  It was picked simply because it sounds cool.

Not that SHIELD was always 100% certain what it stood for.  In the days of Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury series, it stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division. In recent days, we had Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage Logistics Directorate.  And, in the movies, we have the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division (Personally, I prefer the original one).

Clearly, the lesson for Norman Osborn is this: if you want your shadowy, sinister death squad to last, pick the name early.  You’ve got the pin those letters down, and never waver. We’ll probably get something like this:

Homeland Armed Military Management, Enforcement, & Reconaissance

There are clearly better options.  My faithful friend Mr. Chew suggests, rather adroitly:

Hackneyed Acronym Made at Marvel Executive Retreat

I don’t think that one can be beat.  But please, all readers, feel free to try.

Note: I know acronyms should have periods between each word, but I’m too lazy to type them all in.

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Filed under bendis, chew, marvel, nick fury

Sneaky peeky

New Frontier is one of my favourite superhero comics ever, so I’m excited to see how they adapt it for a direct-to-video venture.  I think it will translate pretty well, especially considering the storyboard style that Cooke used for his layouts.

Assuming this round of DC animated projects are successful, another one can’t be far behind.  I’m imagining Kingdom Come, Batman: Year One, and Hitman.

One can dream.

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Filed under animation, darwyn cooke, DC, JLA, new frontier

The Kinduwhuhuh?

In the aforementioned Batman #669, I found an ad for Justice Society of America #10. My scanner just flat out refuses to work, so you’ll have to use your imaginations. It’s an Alex Ross painting, to start. You got your Kingdom Come Superman with his red and black S, lit dramatically from above, creating dark pools of shadow around his eyes. His head is tilted forward, as if he has been captured in a moment of deep and solemn thought. Behind him are the assembled members of the DCU JSA, looking as if Kal El just filled his diaper.

What’s odd about the ad is the line at the top, where it reads “The Sequel to KINGDOM COME Begins!”

Whuzzuh? I’m sorry, but didn’t we already have a sequel to Kingdom Come? I recognize that Mark Waid’s The Kingdom was four or five pretty good stories bookended by two of the most abysmal pieces of American superhero comics ever published, but is that really reason to ignore it altogether? Well, maybe it is, but that’s really giving the short shrift to Ol’ Marky Mark, dontcha think?

thekingdomtpb.jpg(Spoiler Alert, if you plan to read an eight-year old miniseries in the near future) The Kingdom, to my recollection, started with KCU Wonder Woman popping out KCU Superman’s baby, who is of course immediately kidnapped by the supervillian Gog, who has (rather imaginatively, I think) been travelling slowly backwards through time, killing Superman every day. For some reason, KCU Batman, Superman and WW are offered a chance to travel to the DCU dimension (or maybe back in time, I’m not sure) by the Phantom Stranger. And this, everyone believes, will destroy the KCU, or their timeline. I don’t know. It seemed like bullshit to me when I read it, too.

What it did was setup four stories about minor characters from the Kingdom Come series proper, facing an apocalyptic scenario. You’ve got Offspring, illustrated by the always-entertaining Frank Quietly, featuring the son of Plastic Man bouncing around with his old super hero gang when really he should just be dealing with his daddy issues and his mildly oppressive wife. Then there’s Son of the Bat, which features the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul (Damian? What?) attempts to do his dad one better by manipulating Lex Luthor, Braniac, and the resurrected body of his grandfather in one last ditch attempt to save their timestream, before dealing with his granddaddy issues in rather final manner. Nightstar follows the daughter of Dick Grayson and Starfire as she tries to stop an old friend of hers (who happens to be a crazy mutant cow creature) from blowing up Green Lantern’s space station. Also, Robin shows up and they work out some daddy issues. Finally, in Kid Flash, Wally West’s daughter races around Keystone while fighting with her slacker brother and working out some serious daddy issues.

Are you detecting a theme here?

There was also a story that dealt with a waitress at Booster Gold’s crazy Planet Krypton restaurant, which, shockingly, dealt with no daddy issues whatsoever.

In the end, the Kingdom Come Big Three teamed up with Team Daddy Didn’t Love Me Enough, and the DCU Big Three, to stomp Gog’s ass in a Planet Krypton restaurant where the cheesy retro devices all over the place turn out to be cheesy retro devices that can be used to stomp Gog’s ass. And it turns out it wasn’t the Phantom Stranger that helped them, but Superman and WW’s son from the future, where he has white hair, can travel through time, and dresses just like the Phantom Stranger. Or maybe they were trying to say that the Phantom Stranger is the son of Superman and WW… In any event, it was a terribly lame ending that tried, in a ham-fisted way, to connect the superlative Kingdom Come miniseries to the contemporary DC Universe. But at least you got to read a lot about daddy issues, and anything that brings more of Frank Quietly’s work into the world can’t be a bad thing (trust me, as someone who owns a copy of the otherwise pointless Batman: The Scottish Connection, I can attest to this point). It also introduced Hypertime, which DC pimped hard for a couple of years, and then pissed all over in the Infinite Crisis finale, before resurrecting it as some kind of bizarre, not-quite-as-useful version of itself in the 52 finale.

So what’s all this been in aid of, then? Well, nothing really. I just wondered how The Kingdom came to be forgotten by the good folks at DC’s marketing department. I know Alex Ross and Mark Waid had some sort of nasty falling out (Daddy issues? What?) so maybe that’s had something to do with it. But Mark’s still at DC, churning out 22 kickass pages of Brave and the Bold script every month, and hard at work on the Flash relaunch. So surely they haven’t forgotten him, just to please The God That Paints.

I dunno. I don’t even read JSA. Do you?

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Filed under alex ross, JSA, kingdom come, mark waid

Matters of economy, revisited

What with the Canadian dollar reaching dizzying heights over the past week, I’m more than a little bit annoyed to find that my comics still cost me just as much as they used to.  My copy of Batman #669 has a Canadian cover price of $3.65, with a US cover price of $2.99.  Now that our dollar is actually, for the first time in over thirty years, worth more than the greenback, and considering the comic itself is printed in Canada, I find this baffling.

Luckily for me, the manager of my local shop is a pretty damn fine human being, and has begun adjusting his prices to reflect the rising dollar.  That, coupled with my oh-so-generous discount, leaves me with a more than reasonable bill for my weekly stack.  In other words, I shouldn’t really be complaining.  It will all even out when the tumbling US econmy drags the planet into a crippling recession, in any event.

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This has nothing to do with comics

I was in a bookstore today, and was heading upstairs.  I walked towards the escalators, noticing that they were out of order.  I took a step, and almost fell on my face.  This process was repated for the next two steps before my brain realized the stairs weren’t moving themselves.

This whole episode enfuriated me, not because the escalator was broken, but because my fucking chimp brain couldn’t figure out that the stairs would not be moving when I stepped on them.  It wasn;t a surprise: I saw that they were stationary from a mile away.  But thousands and thousands of years of human evolution could not defeat the expectation that the stairs would move.  I felt unworthy to be human.

Twenty minutes later, I did it again on the down escalator.

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Great Caesar’s Ass!

I watched Superman: Doomsday yesterday, in a fog induced by the worst cold I’ve had in a while.  So my impressions of the movie are definitely clouded by headache, earache, eyeache, neckache, and faceache.  I should also mention that I took a three-hour nap in the middle of the Superman/Doomsday battle. All that notwithstanding, I liked it.

It was a little jarring seeing the classic Timm animation models voiced by such radically different actors, but the new crew does a pretty good job.  I have to say that as much as I love Adam Baldwin, he sounds a bit gruff for Big Blue.  Minor complaint, though.

I was also a bit surprised by the PG-13ness of the whole production.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I suppose years of conditioning by the strictly PG Batman/Superman/Justice League series had prepared me for non-lethal violence and sugar-coated dialogue.  Not so.  Doomsday kills people.  No injuries here.  He flat out kills people.  And Perry White gets to say “ass”.  Twice!  Not once does he mention the spectral form of long-dead Roman leaders!  It a particularly creepy scene (sorta spoiler – well, yeah, it is a spoiler) Lex Luthor beats furiously on Superman with Kryptonite gloves in a red solar radiation room, finally murmuring “Who’s your Daddy?.  And not-so-oblique references to (another spoiler, sort of…) Superman and Lois Lane having sex are sprinkled throughout.

The story is a rather radical departure from the comic its based on, which, if you’ve ever read the comics, isn’t really that bad of a thing.  Death of Superman was pretty good (and the first trade paperback I ever owned.  Thanks Dad!) but World Without got kinda boring and Return of was weak.  Needless to say, Capizzi and Timm make up their own plot, borrowing some vague elements of the original.  At times I felt like I’d seen the story before, in one or another of the Superman Animated episodes, but that was probably my drug-addled brain.

All in all, I enjoyed it.  If nothing else, it will get you really geared up for the New Frontier adaptation due in February.

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Filed under at the racks, DC, superman