Panel of the Week 5

Maybe I chose this panel because I still have dinosaurs on the mind, but, oh lord, there’s so much to like about Seaguy. In this panel from Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye , Professor Silvan Niltoid, a supergenius and ex-supervillain, shows Seaguy artifacts from the past he has reconstructed. The remains were dug out of the deepest, hardest gum layers. The creature on the left was a cyclosaurus. The one on the right was an autoraptor; it was a fierce dweller in the chewy deserts of the plasticine until the oil it ate to survive ran out. This reconstruction is part of a general trend in both Seaguy volumes of reimagining the past as rather more wondrous and strange than it actually was.

While I’m at it, as is my wont, I’ll throw in another few panels from issue 3. There’s probably ten panels I could have chosen, but I’ll leave it at this. Doc Hero has been infantilized and abused throughout Seaguy volumes 1 and 2. In fact, his abuse at the end of Seaguy volume 1 was one of the saddest parts of the book. In volume 2, his famed helmet – the helmet of Agamemnon, in fact – was earlier taken from him, and he’s become a sad joke. But here, at the end of volume 2, a bunch of average folks have taken shelter in some rides at the Mickey Eye Park before an explosion. When average folks are in danger and counting on him, when some of them are even doubting him, their last chance at survival, he pulls through and saves them. He picks up the rides themselves, looks up, and finally, for the first time since being brainwashed by Mickey Eye, takes to the sky. . .

Death knows he’s lost here. And, even if he no longer has the helmet of Agamemnon, Doc Hero is a hero.

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Weirdness from Yesteryear 3

The weirdness from yesteryear that I’ve looked at to date has all hailed from the Silver Age. This time, we’ll look at a story from the Golden Age: a short featuring the Vision from Marvel Mystery Comics #16. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the author and artist are known, but it’s reprinted beautifully in Mystic Comics # 1, which also features a new story written and drawn by David Lapham. Lapham’s story is in some ways weirder – and, shockingly, in some ways not. This story was untitled, so I’ll name it “VISION VERSUS THE DINOMONSTERS!”

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“I’m just some weird lookin’ thing dat shouldn’t even exist”: Seaguy Volume 1

It begins with cheating Death (at chess); it ends with a wink. It’s Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart’s Seaguy volume 1 – the first part of a trilogy Morrison has called his Watchmen .

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This Week in Comics on the Internet. . .

I’ve never understood Wonder Woman, and I sometimes wonder if anyone does. The Absorbascon looks at dimensions of Wonder Woman’s character using his concept of “persona-cycles.”

Joe Mcculloch takes a long (and impressive) look at Steve Ditko’s most recent work .

I haven’t read a Valiant book in years, and I’m not sure I will any time soon. Colin Smith’s review of the Unity Saga doesn’t really make me want to go dig up my Valiant book, but dinosaur dung as a plot device almost makes me want to.

Hardly new, but I discovered the Gorilla Age of Comics this week; this cover or this cover is my favorite. The page also introduced me to the cross over of the millennium, . How in the world did I miss it? The image above comes from the cover of Wonder Woman Annual 8 – part five in the nine part JLApe saga!

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Panel of the Week 4

My mind has been drifting back to Final Crisis lately, and, in turn, Superman Beyond . In many ways, Superman Beyond is a simpler, bolder, better book that encapsulates the most important part about Final Crisis . Superman and a team of Superman analogs travel to limbo; then, Superman transcends into the reality of the Monitors. He discovers that they are a race of story vampires that feed on fiction – the realities that our superheroes inhabit – and he confronts the worst and most dangerous of them, Mandrakk (the villain on the right), who’s trying to suck fiction dry and end it forever. Superman thinks, “I’m inside a self-assembling Hyper Story! And it’s trying its best to destroy me.” It’s Superman versus a dark, vampire god, a celestial parasite that’s ruining story telling – it’s Superman versus the darker impulses of DC editorial, comic authors, and comic readers who want to pare down the realities, maintain a single continuity, and hobble the imagination; it’s Superman versus us . And he defeats Mandrakk and redeems us.

There’s a lot to like in this book otherwise: Morrison’s audacity in making Captain Adam (clearly Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen) into one of the Superman analogs, and, for that matter, making Captain Marvel into a Superman analog, too. His portrayal of Billy Batson in particular is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and, like Morrison’s Jimmy Olsen, Billy is a brave young man full of gumption and an interesting character in his own right.

The stand the denizens of limbo – who were last seen in Morrison’s closing issues of Animal Man – take against the destructive forces of the Monitors in their attempt to erase fiction is wonderful too, and, by the very act of rising up and being interesting characters, they make a case for their continued existence. Finally, the last page has long stuck with me; maybe it should have been the panel of the week instead. During his fight with Mandrakk in the world above, Mandrakk asks him what he wants written on his tombstone. After Superman triumphs and is about to leave that world, he leaves an inscription on a tombstone as a parting message to the Monitors. He tells them, “There’s something about stories. . .that you should know. . .”

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Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law: The Kingdom

I hated The Kingdom when I first bought and read the trade all those years ago. It’s really not a bad comic; it’s just very different from its predecessor, Kingdom Come . Kingdom Come was, along with Marvels , Supreme , and a few others of that period, a book that tried to look back to an earlier age and recapture something about our superheroes. With The Kingdom , Mark Waid has similar interests, but he goes about them differently. The Kingdom functions less as a coherent story and more as a polemic about our heroes, about continuity, and, yes, about that great and misunderstood beast, Hypertime – the law of do as thou wilt.

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Olly Moss comes up with a Wolverine/Batmen hybrid on a way to a meeting with Marvel executives; he does not show it to them.

Chris Sims reviews David E. Kelley’s script for the pilot of the Wonder Woman television show. A pilot is a poor indicator of how a show will turn out, and the script of a yet-to-be produced pilot is an even worse indicator. But it sounds craaaaaaazy .

John Lewis, congressman and civil rights activist, will be the first sitting member of congress to write a graphic novel ; details are sketchy, but it will apparently be based on his activism during the 60′s.

Karen Healey and Terry Johnson calculate the BMI of twenty-five male and twenty-five female superheroes. As it turns out, heroes of each gender are not portrayed with equally ridiculous body types; the BMI of the males’ proves more varied and more healthy than that of the females, showing that their bodies are even more absurd than their colleagues’. While the paper was written years ago, I only encountered it this week.

Ryan K. Lindsay comments on Marvel’s new policy of killing a main character every quarter to raise sales; while this causes a brief spike in readership, the increase is not sustained. He discusses other factors that improve sales and suggests an alternative.

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In this entry, we take a look at another weird comic from the Silver Age. It’s from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane vol. 1 #13, scripted by Robert Bernstein and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger, and it tells the story of THE SHOCKING SECRET OF LOIS LANE!

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I don’t much like Geoff Johns. He’s not particularly bad; in fact, he can be very competent. But he’s no Grant Morrison, and even if I had the fortune it would take, I wouldn’t go out and read everything he’s written. I didn’t like Blackest Night enough to finish reading, and I’m sure not going to read Brightest Day – except for Green Lantern 55, which has this character: Dex Starr, the feline Red Lantern. I guess he first appears in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns , but here we get both his origin and his best panel. As his origin explains, he was a regular kitten, adopted from a litter by a loving cat mother.

But a burglar broke into their apartment and killed her! Left on the street, he was found by some jack-ass kids who decided to stuff him in a sack and drop him in a river. But felicitously, a red ring finds him before drowning – the RING OF RAGE! – and he’s reborn as Dex-Starr. He’s the Batman of cats.

God, kitty rage chokes me up.

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Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker know how to tell a good story, but Gotham Central’s real genius is in its premise: it’s a police procedural set in Gotham City. It follows the detectives of the Gotham police department’s major crimes unit, who are the only honest cops in Gotham. Like any procedural, the characters are somewhat interchangeable and the story is sometimes formulaic or predictable, but the real pleasure for me, at least, often doesn’t come from the mystery or story itself. It’s from seeing what living and working in Gotham City is like for good, honest detectives. And from the arcs I’ve read so far, Batman doesn’t often appear, but he casts a long, dark shadow over everything.

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