Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Comics I Need To See In My Lifetime

GREEN LANTERN'S BLACK HAND MEETS...



GIANT SIZE MAN-THING!



Can you think of any others? Remember...style counts!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Batman On...Mindwiping!


Taken from Batman: The Movie (1966)

Batman to Robin after he suggestion that they alter the minds of U.N. officials following their dehydration at the hands of "United Underworld." (The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman):

"No, Robin. No. It's not for mortals like us to tamper with the laws of nature."

Batman On...Personal Responsibility


Batman to Robin after his botching of the re-hydration by mixing up of the native tongue of each U.N. official:

"Who knows, Robin? This strange mixing of minds may be the greatest single service ever performed for humanity! Let's go, but, inconspicuously, through the window. We'll use our Batropes. Our job is finished."

Hell, yeah!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Yeah...

I took the little "Which Legionnaire Are You?" test and yeah, I'll accept the result...

...but will I still be allowed to keep my tallywhacker?

Lest We Forget...John Ostrander (Updated)


In the late 80's and early 90's, DC's characters were learnin' a li'l sumthin called "angst." While learning "The Angst," they also found the time to learn dying, getting their backs broken, going crazy, creating Green Lantern Corpses, losing their mantles in combat to teeth-gnashing redheads and getting their hands gnawed off by pirahna.

During all of this one writer kept a level head and kept creating. That man was John Ostrander. During this time period, this man quietly but surely, created and wrote some of the best comics DC was putting out at the time. Suicide Squad and The Spectre. For those that don't know, The Suicide Squad was team comprised of some of the meanest and nastiest villains The DCU had to offer...

No. They weren't. In truth, they sucked but under the words of Ostrander they became viable threats to humanity. The Squad were villains who the government had in their employ and should they succeed in whatever suicide mission they were sent on, inched just that much closer to release. Simply put, in order to live, they had to be willing to die. I was fascinated. The members of The Suicide Squad suddenly developed personalities past the ones allowed for in their previous status as "fodder of the month."

Captain Boomerang, a Flash villain, became a character not even a rogue could trust. Coincidentally, Boomerang was the villain that, arguably, set off the chain reaction reverberating throughout DC Comics' united villainy in his killing of Robin's father, Jack Drake. Boomerang's son is poised to become an even bigger, more dangerous threat. Deadshot, a Batman villain, became a man apart. One with one thing to live for and in the Deadshot" mini-series, STILL one of the most disturbing and dramatic comics I've ever read, it was violently taken away from him.

Ostrander also created the head of The Squad, Amanda "The Wall" Waller. A woman whose fierceness within is rivaled only by Batman and Lex Luthor within The DC Universe.

Believe it or not, this isn't Ostrander's greatest contribution to The DC Universe. When The Squad needed information they turned to a new, unseen information broker, The Oracle. Oracle was created within Suicide Squad. Ostrander, working with his wife, the late Kim Yale, took the crippling of Babara Gordon, a tragic plot device from the pages of Batman: The Killing Joke and turned her into a character that mattered, one with her own identity and motivations.

In the pages of The Spectre, Spectre's alter ego, Jim Corrigan finally dealt with the crushing weight of being tethered to the right hand of God, The Spectre. The results, more often than not, were fascinating. Also during his definitive Spectre run, Ostrander created the current "Man Of A Thousand Talents," Michael Holt, Mr. Terrific. Did I mention that Mr. Terrific is the current leader of The JSA?

When you think of DC Comics, John Ostrander's name may not immediately come to mind but when it's all said and done, no one's done as much for "post-Crisis" DC Comics.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Stolen Art!


To the person who stole this two-page spread from Dexter Vines' table at The Baltimore Comicon:

Give it back. It's not yours.

If anyone sees someone showing of these pages, know that they are stolen.

Really, what are you going to do with it? Re-sell it? Any true comics fan worth a damn WILL NOT buy stolen art.

Secondly, Vines was a guest at the convention. It's one of the few chances fans get to interact with the pros and Marc Nathan, the con's organizer, created it as a love letter to the industry. Fans and pros alike have responded to it in impressive numbers. Now, your greed has gone and threatened to mess it up for everyone.

If you're truly a fan of the comics medium, you know that fair play counts for something in just about everything. Remember why you came to the con in the first place, the love of the medium and return the art. The artwork can be returned, no questions asked to:

699 Ponce De Leon Ave #208 Atlanta GA 30308

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Baltimore Comicon 2005


I feel good. I feel good about comics. I feel good about the industry. I feel good about the creators in the industry. There's alot of energy out there right now. Marc Nathan's Baltimore Comicon is nothing but a showcase for this energy. Especially as they treated us to a early showing of the movie "Serenity."

I will gush later.

I won't get into everything that I saw and heard but man, DC's 2006 looks to be just as good if not better than 2004 and '05, combined.

Why? Can't tell you, been sworn to secrecy but Hawkman fans, take note:

Two comics LEGENDS will be taking a crack at the book. Legends IS NOT hyperbole.

What I saw:

DC Comics employees asking Mike Wieringo when he was going to come and do some work again for them. Wieringo saying he absolutely LOVE to do some work for them.

What you didn't want see:

Me damned near weeping when he told them he had a few more years left on his Marvel contract.

Mike Wieringo, if you didn't know, is one class act. If you've read his blog (See "Links" section), you know that his back has been preventing him from sketching at convention. Those con tables weren't necessarily designed for sketching. On day two, anyway, he gutted it out, doing sketches for donations to ACTOR. He also brought alot of pre-drawn sketches for sale to the con. I bought two gorgeous Wonder Woman pieces. Money well-spent. (I had one inked by Superman/Batman's Dexter Vines. If you'd like you'd see it check for it on Mike Wieringo's Blog which can be found in my "Links" section.)

If you ever find yourself in Baltimore during the convention: go. It's that simple. The atmosphere is relaxed. The creators are relaxed and first-rate. Baltimore Comicon is simply designed for "feel good."

Friday, September 16, 2005

The World's Finest


I love how simple fiction can make your reality better.

On the way home from work last night, the streets of D.C. were being protected. Not by The Metropolitan Police Dept. Not by The National Guard but by The World's Finest team of Superman, Batman and Robin.

Or...

I'm not sure but COULD have been three 5-year olds playing dress-up in superhero costumes.

What I do know is that for awhile, the city felt just a bit safer and definitely a lot cuter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Character Donations #97-103


We put to a vote and the people have spoken! The Power Company, a team that makes Marvel's The Champions of Los Angeles look like...well...champions, have been voted off the island and look...

Is that "Seven Hells'!" first "donation," Firestorm, The Nuclear Man preparing to spirit off his former associates on a journey to The Marvel Universe?

Wait a minute! On second thought, the look on his face says he may actually be laughing AND simultaneously distancing himself from them! Damn, it's pretty sad when Ronnie Raymond rejects you...twice.

Damn, we're going to have to start making donations to Valiant Comics...

The Return Of The King


"Aquaman's a hero!" said Chris Rock.

In the 90's, at the height of my comics buying, the characters seemed to be an afterthought. Writers and artists' egos would be assigned to the comics of The 90's. In the 90's, I bought nearly every issue of Peter David's run on Aquaman. I liked it then. Today? Well... today, I can only view it as "Peter David's Aquaman."

To quote Rage Against The Machine, "Anger is a gift." Displaced anger is a waste. David's Aquaman is full of displaced anger. What I once perceived as character development, I now see as caricature. Aquaman seemed to be going through one big tantrum. This wasn't the Aqauaman that I knew. Anger and outrage are things to be used in times of crisis. No one handles a crisis better than Aquaman. No one. In the 80's, when the founding members of The Justice League of America all but abandoned the team who called them to the carpet, disbanding the team? Who rebuilt it after finding members who would pledge their allegiance to the original mission statement of The Justice League? That was the Aquaman I knew. A born leader.

One need look no further for that Aquaman than writer Will Pfeifer's brilliant yet under-appreciated run on Aquaman. When an earthquake rocks San Diego, dumping parts of it into the ocean, The King of The Seven Seas is the first of the superhero set to respond to the tragedy. In the space of two issues, he returns Aquaman to his former glory. He brings back Aquaman's familiar orange and green costume. While politicians play games and give speeches, Pfeifer has Aquaman survey the devastation, looking for survivors. Upon finding them, he alerts The Red Cross to the needs of these special survivors, doing this alongside his new sidekick, Lorena, The Aquagirl. After walking amongst the living who've seen the dead bodies lying in the streets of "Sub Diego," he knows that in order for these people to survive, they need leadership. Strong leadership. He will be there to provide that and whatever else they need.

That is someone I want to read about. A hero.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!
.....................................................



.....................................................
Please read this week's JLA #118. Please.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bill Finger, The Tesla Of Comics




Have you ever heard of Bill Finger? If you haven't, you will.

Open any Batman comic and you'll find a little, usually yellow box somewhere on the first page. This box will always contain the words, "Batman Created by Bob Kane." The words are always there and why should it ever be disputed? They mean exactly what they say, right? "Batman, Created by Bob Kane?" That sounded about right to me.

With age comes sensibility, responsibility. I'd always wondered how one man could possibly have come up with such immortal characters: The Batman. Robin. Catwoman. Alfred. The Joker. Bruce Wayne.

Brilliant concepts and designs: Gotham City, the look of Batman. With age comes sensibility, responsibility. I'd heard stories. Stories I'd heard as a teenager, whispered and shot down about how someone else other than Bob Kane had created Batman. Why should I have listened to the stories? It said it right there in the comics.

"Batman Created By Bob Kane."

Numerous events in my life have turned me into a good listener. I'll never forget the day that it all unfolded before me. The day I learned one of my idols, Bob Kane, hadn't truly created Batman, at all. With age comes sensibility, responsibility. It always hurt me that Bob Kane never quite realized this and left Bill Finger behind.

DC Comics, steeping in the success of their newly launched superhero, Superman, wanted more superheroes. For that they turned to Bob Kane. Kane delivered "Birdman." Frequent Kane collaborator, Bill Finger suggested they take out the red sections of the costume, replacing the Robin-like domino mask with a cowl, replaced Birdman's wings with a scalloped cape and finally in a stroke of genius renaming him: The Batman.


Needless to say, The Batman was a hit. When DC felt Batman, the comic and as a character, were becoming too dark, they suggested a teen sidekick. Enter Finger again with the character, Robin. Finger went on to give names to things Kane hadn't bothered to name. The Batmobile. Bruce Wayne. The contextualizing city, Gotham. He envisioned Batman and Robin leaping across giant props such as typewriters. He named The Batcave where Batman and Robin would reside alongside a giant penny.

Why hadn't I ever heard of this man, this genius, Bill Finger? I'd heard of Kane. Somehow, Nikola Tesla came to mind and then it all made sense. Where Finger was something of a genius, Tesla was genius, inventing alternating current, the radio, inventions we use to this day. Tesla's work was often overshadowed and decried and often stolen by the inventor and self-publicist, Thomas Edison. I now know the savvy create their own histories.

Finger, initially, was happy being an idea man. Kane, all too happily, signed a contract that would continuously draw him money and a mandatory notation as the "creator" of Batman. Finger received nothing but his work-for-hire paychecks. Bill Finger was, I'm sure, one of many in the comic book world to have been "Finger-ed." That is why today, whenever I see that little lying yellow box, it barely registers. I now know the truth. With age comes sensibility, responsibility. The truth is all that matters to me. Bob Kane DID NOT create The Batman and Bill Finger died without the credits he deserved. He died not knowing he was an inspiration to many. It is a shame he was never given the chance to know.

Monday, September 12, 2005

DC Comics, 1943...

Wouldn't a comic featuring a Norseman with an enchanted weapon...

THE VIKING COMMANDO




...a shield-slingin' superhero...

THE GUARDIAN



....a genius housed within a robotic body...

ROBOTMAN



...a shrinking woman...

DOLL GIRL



...a man who "talks" to insects...

THE RED BEE



...and a super-strong, hulking monster, dressed in tatters...

SOLOMON GRUNDY




... have made for some pretty interesting reading?

In The DC Universe, a team like this probably wouldn't "register." Elsewhere, though...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

If You Build It, They Will Run.

I just got done reading New Avengers. Probably for the last time. For nearly 25 years, I've been a long time Avengers fan. The Avengers could almost always be counted on for a good read. Why? Usually, because of its' roster. Most times, the writer would have the good sense to have The Avengers become a showcase on how to elevate a character to greater heights.

Firstly, I read it mostly because of how hard new members would try and live up and become a part of The Avengers ideal. In the storyline, "Avengers: Under Siege," with a roster comprised of founding Avengers, Thor, Captain America and The Wasp along with D-listers, Doctor Druid and The Black Knight, managed through tenacity, to fight off 17 of Marvel's villains in taking back Avengers Mansion. I feel no shame in telling you that this is my favorite "team" story of all-time. Yes, a Marvel comic, one written nearly 20 years ago.

Secondly, I read Avengers to get away from Spider-Man and Wolverine. I DO like these characters. I do. Before anything is said about overexposure, salt and pepper are naturally occuring seasonings. Superman and Batman are salt and pepper. In proper amounts, they combine to add taste and to spice things up. Spider-Man and Wolverine just by their singular origins and natures as wincing loners are destined to come off leaving bitter chemical tastes, overtaking whatever it is in. That being said, I've had this book become tainted for me.

Leaving a hole in my collection. One I hope to fill again.

Someday.

U Decide 2005! (Updated)



(Voting ends Tuesday, noon, Eastern Time)

Let's be honest with each other: Some of DC's super-team books are just plain bad. For every Justice League, there's a Primal Force. For every Primal Force, a Power Company.

In regards to The Power Company, the philosopher, B. Simpson sums up my feelings with these words: "I didn't think it was physically possible, but [it] both sucks and blows. "

Over the past two months, I've been, in co-operation with "The Absorbacon," "donating" DC characters to where we think they'll fit just that much better. Marvel "Entertainment." As I was preparing to spirit The Power Company off to Marvel, I felt a slight tugging on my cape. It was Hong Kong stuntman and Power Company member Striker Z, asking, no, pleading with me to let him stay. This is him, in his own words, describing the honor of being a DCU resident as opposed to a Marvel-ite: "I'd rather be a pegboy on Captain Compass' ship than be a captain on a garbage barge." Striker Z, you moved me.

Regardless, I'm not sparing you all that easily.

Who are The Power Company? Why are their heads on the chopping block? Look at the characters and find out why:


WITCHFIRE: Britney Spears-wannabe/witch.

STRIKER Z: A living battery. Put him next to Vibe and well...Scip starts writing fan-fic.

SKYROCKET: She wears a harness...an energy harness...and not even a sexy energy harness, at that.

MANHUNTER: A clone of a previous Manhunter who was recently killed off in the pages of "Manhunter."

SAPPHIRE: Has the power to form a "gem coating" all over her body. Translation: The ability to save her own ass.

BORK: A super-strong man/monster. I like Marvel's Thing, I don't like this THING.

They're led by corporate attorney, Josiah Power. Get it? The POWER Company? (tee-hee)


You want to stay? Not my choice anymore, homey. I'm leaving it to the blogosphere. To the readers of "Seven Hells!" The question is simple: The Power Company? "Yay!" or "Nay!"

Readers? Do your thing!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Why Aren't These Characters In Play?!?



Give me a new version of ALL-OUT WAR featuring The Viking Commando. I don't care how. Just make it happen. It could be a frickin' teen romance comic featuring him, G.I. Robot and The Haunted Tank for all I care. I just want a comic with The Viking Commando in it. Dammit, he's got an ax! Probably a grenade, too. Let's add some atom bombs, as well. I wanna see a Viking going ALL-OUT with an ax, a grenade and an atom bomb. ALL-OUT, b***h!!!! Saying things like, "You know how we do!"

Then, I wanna see a Nazi wet his pants.

Is Garth Ennis still Marvel exclusive?

I wanna see the adventures of a Viking set in World War II, dammit. I've never read a single issue of "All-Out War" but dammit, it's called "All-Out War" and features a Viking Commando. Anything called "All-Out War" should be subtitled "THE COMIC THAT F***S YOUR S**T UP, MONTHLY!"

I wanna go ALL-OUT, son!

I wanna read that damned book!

Drunk.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Johns-ification: Wonder Woman, Part Two

Simply put, she is one of the most amazing of characters but honestly, what she's lacking is a Rogues Gallery worthy of her iconic status.

Without further ado-do, I think I have put together a pretty damned good Gallery worthy of comics' greatest heroine. First up?

KILLER FROST II.



Quite possibly, the best thing ever to come from the Firestorm, The Nuclear Man comic. Possessing the ability to project waves of intense cold, Killer Frost is also, in effect, a thermal vampire. One with the need to absorb heat from all available sources. Her favorite of sources?

The human body.

Dr. Louise Lincoln, the current Killer Frost was formerly the best friend of the now-deceased, original Killer Frost, Dr. Crystal Frost. Frost believed males had kept her from becoming all she should have been. Before she died, she passed on her powers onto her former friend, Louise. Could she have passed on some of this personality, as well?


ANIMA



This forgotten DC hero had her own title in the early 90's. This young teen runaway's body contained The Animus, the embodiment of mankind's rage and masculine drive. Yes, she may have started out as a hero but let's face it: A young girl with the power to channel masculine rage begs for a semi-villainous makeover. Let it happen within the pages of Wonder Woman.


BARON BLITZKRIEG



Blitzkrieg is a Nazi, a former concentration camp commandant during World War II and currently, a leader of a terrorist group. Needless to say, he's pretty evil. Wanna place bets on whether or not he bumped heads with Diana's mom, Hippolyta, during The Great War? Think he'd still be carrying a mad-on for whomever's occupies the mantle of Wonder Woman? He's evil. That's what a Nazi a-hole would do. This subjugator of man and womankind would make a perfect foe for The Amazing Amazon.


FELIX FAUST



I always felt that Wonder Woman needed a timeless villain. The cartoon series Justice League Unlimited got it right in choosing Felix Faust to stand against Wonder Woman. Magic is the one thing that fells each of The Big Three. If you want to rebuild Faust's rep as one of The DCU's pre-eminent bad-asses, start it all in the pages of Wonder Woman. Have Faust take Wonder Woman to the limit in a knock-down/drag-out and trust me, The DCU will have to definitely take notice and finally...

What do Superman and Batman have that Wonder Woman doesn't? (No, not that, pervert.)

Any hero worth their salt needs a FIFTH DIMENSIONAL IMP! Superman has Mxyzptlk! Batman has Bat-Mite! Wonder Woman should have...

GSPTLSNZ!



Yes, that is GSPTLSNZ, Mxyzptlk's girlfriend from Superman: The Animated Series. Have any other characters created for DC's animated universe made it big? Harley Quinn, anyone? You've got to respect any imp who gets the goat of the imp who gets Superman's goat. Imagine the hilarity that could ensue with Wonder Woman trying to train Athena's wisdom on a fifth dimensional imp. WHOOOO! I'm there! In Wonder Woman, have GSPTLSNZ fill the role Mxyzptlk fills every 90 days in Adventures of Superman: troublemaker and harbinger of bad things to come. Since her name's pretty unpronouncable, we'll just consider her Wonder Woman's tri-monthly visitor...

So there you have it: One Rogues Gallery made-to-order. See? I told you The DCU was a great place to visit!

So, gentle reader, am I on the right track? Am I on that sh*t again? Let me know! Feel free to add additions to the list, comments are a good thing.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Johns-ification: Wonder Woman, Part One


Of The Big Three (SUPERMAN, BATMAN & WONDER WOMAN), only Batman can lay claim to having a Rogue's Gallery worthy of their character concept. Sure, Superman has Lex Luthor but on the downside he suffers The Terra-Man, a botany-cowboy who rides a Pegasus. There will be no action figures made for Terra-Man.

If you wanna look at a solid Rogue's Gallery, look no further than The Flash's.

Gorilla Grodd. The Mirror Master. The Top. Captain Boomerang. Heat Wave. The Weather Wizard. The Trickster. Captain Cold. Professor Zoom.

Now, THAT is a Rogue's Gallery done right if I've ever seen one. During Geoff Johns Flash run, he built up each individual into a force to be reckoned with, imbuing each Rogue with motivations, pathos, turning them individually into someone to be reckoned with. In The 70's, they were rendered virtually ineffectual by writers and editors whose first idiotic notion was to have them all team-up, only to have them be soundly defeated in the space of one issue. That, my friends, is shortsighted nonsense.

In wrestling, you have what you call a "booker." The booker is the guy who decides which "heels" (villains) and "faces" will wrestle on the "card" (show). In order to make the card work, you have to build a monster. Now say you have two young guys full of promise and individually, they have nothing to do. You could turn them into a sucessful tag-team by having them win a win a few well-paced matches. If you've done your job as booker well, the fans will believe to be a force to be reckoned with. The fans will practically beg to see them get a shot at the title. If booked properly, you SHOULD have a monster tag-team on your hands, a team anyone would conceive as a viable threat to the champions. Not so if, early too in the game, you feed them to the monster. You have to build the monster, people.

Wonder Woman doesn't have many monsters.

Let's look at her Rogues Gallery, shall we?

Aside from The Cheetah and Doctor Psycho, there really ain't many viable threats to work with.

Silver Swan? The White Magician? Giganta? Cyborgirl?

I don't think so. Good villains for Young Justice, not an armor wearing, battle-axe weilding Amazing Amazon. So, which DC Universe villains are worthy of a Wonder Woman?

(Sinister laughter arising from my throat.)

Find out later this week in Part Two of "Johns-ification: Wonder Woman!"

Another Typical Day, Unfortunately.


As told to me Friday morning by Kevin, my assistant manager:

Customer (Picking up a flier): Oh, wow! You're having a Labor Day Weekend Sale?

Kevin: Yeah, you should come through this weekend.

Customer: Aw, man. I can't. I'm going to be out of town.

Kevin: That's too bad. Well, pass the flier on to a friend.

Customer: Yeah, sure. (Long pause)

Customer: You think I can get the discounts today since I'll be out of town this weekend?

Kevin: (Long pause)

Kevin: Sorry, man. It's a LABOR DAY WEEKEND SALE.

Customer: Oh. So, no sales tonight?

Kevin: No. It's Thursday.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Cease Fire!


Let's just get it over with. For nearly five months, the blogosphere has been waging a war. A war no one seems to fight any longer.

THE RANN/THANAGAR WAR.

How in the world could a comic featuring The freakin' Green Lantern Corps, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Hawkwoman, Captain Comet and the Canadian, Adam Strange leave me so cold? The book's all premise. Initial premise, anyway. Once you get past the novelty of space team-ups, there really ain't much going on so far. Hell, I think a guest appearance by Space Cabby would be in order simply to liven things up a bit.

With that being said, "Seven Hells!" would like to OFFICIALLY call a truce due a to lack of interest and accumulated ambivalence in the comics saga, THE RANN/THANAGAR WAR.

When comics are poorly written, everybody loses.

Now let's get back to talking about what TRULY matters. Power Girl's BOOBS.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Johns-ification

In the world of wrestling there are "stables." Stables are usually comprised of singles wrestlers who, for one reason or another, can't make it on their own. So what do you do when you have talent you believe in? "Stable-ize" them.

"You! The wiley veteran wrestler in the corner who just may be past his prime! Act as these young boys' mouthpiece."

"You! The young energetic guy. You have no mic skills but you can "go" in the ring."

"You! What do you do? You're seven feet tall? You're going to be the young guy's tag-team partner. He'll cover up your weaknesses and when things look bad for him, he'll tag you in and make you look like a hero."

These groupings have been going on for years and with great deals of success. The Rock benefitted immeasurably from "stabile-ization." Look at how well it worked for him.

So, just imagine if you took someone like Jason Blood (The Demon) and made some kind of connection with Brother Blood in an effort to make them stronger characters. Geoff Johns did this when he ingeniously had JSA member Doctor Mid-Nite break up one of underutilized Batman villain, The Crime Doctor's illegal "crime" hospitals.

"Seven Hells!" in association with The Absorbascon (See "Links" section.), will be doing that, as well. Over the next several weeks, we'll be sort of "seeing how that couch would look over there," so to speak. The DC Universe is a vast, wonderful place. We intend to prove it.