Posts Tagged ‘link dump’

The Batman got too much spite

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Mark Pellegrini, the guy who runs the TMNT Entity blog, wrote a comparison between the Batman cartoon immediately after the Dini/Timm Batman/Justice League animated cycle and its predecessor, arguing that objective overall superiority of the DC Animated Universe stuff aside and the 1990s series especially, The Batman and its five seasons got short shrift.

now that both the DCAU and The Batman are but memories distanced by years and a multitude of newer cartoons and straight-to-video animated films clogging our DVRs, I think it’d be a good idea to discard the bitterness of the Bat-Embargo and judge The Batman against its holy brethren of the 1990s, Batman: The Animated Series, a bit more objectively.

Okay, so even objectively, Batman: The Animated Series wipes the floor with The Batman; like Hell I’m here to argue that. Instead, I think the safer activity to pursue is determining what aspects of the Caped Crusader’s mythos The Batman actually succeeded over Batman: The Animated Series in adapting and improving upon.

It is disturbing how correct he is. There is much to rip on in the first season of The Batman, including but not limited to how many of the characters’ first appearances involve less profitable crime and more the destruction of the city as facet or totality of the evil act.  There is also at least two episodes early on where Gotham City’s fate hinged on unlikely city planning.  In the episode where Killer Croc intends to flood the city that fate literally hinged on a switch that would “flood” or “not flood” the city.  The initial Mr Freeze episode was predicated on the entire metropolitan area having central heating and air systems.

There was also the far more naked use of concepts designed for toys, the Batwave coming to mind immediately.

The article does not mention any of that and it is absolutely correct to do so.  The article exists to extoll virtues of the program, not pound endlessly on what was wrong, which we in the internet and on our couches have certainly done already, far too much yet completely fairly.

So the article touches upon what The Batman did correctly, especially where The New Batman Adventures failed in a comparative place.

That said, I like these paragraphs:

On one hand, it wants to be a gritty and intelligent look at the psychological aspects of Batman’s adventures with daring plots and grim consequences, but then it also wants to be a fun and lighter take on the character where he eats enchiladas, pilots a giant robot and has kung-fu battles with the Penguin. The Batman wanted to be both kinds of shows and while it did strike that necessary balance from time to time, mostly it was a whole lot of nonsense and Greg Weisman phoning it in while waiting for that Spectacular Spider-Man gig to come along.

Perhaps its greatest hurtle during its initial run, though, was just the fact that it was the successor to the DC Animated Universe and that meant it was going to have a lot of guys in their early twenties who were going to hate it simply for existing. The fact that it ran concurrently with the last season of Justice League Unlimited, resulting in the infamous “Bat-Embargo” surely didn’t help (the Bat-Embargo prevented Batman’s supporting characters and villains from appearing in JLU as The Batman had exclusivity rights to them).

In other words, The Batman performed certain bits better because The Animated Series failed.

DC versus Marvel: Creator Compensation

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Mark Waid states that he is not angry about the nature or function of comic book corporations or that rules are followed coldly by those same corporations when he details a history of work-for-hire and DC Comics compensation.

From the beginnings of American comics in the mid-1930s right up until the early 1980s, comics artists and writers were what we call today “work-for-hire”–they were paid a per-page rate by publishers, nothing else, and had no ownership stake in or claim to their creations. There were exceptions: though Siegel and Shuster were unquestionably undercompensated for Superman, they at least shared heavily in the royalties of his lucrative newspaper strip. Bob Kane cut a hell of a deal with DC on his co-creation Batman in the late 1940s by threatening to throw his weight behind Siegel and Shuster when they sued for Superman ownership unless DC renegotiated with him–consequently earning a hefty gross percentage on all things Batman until he relinquished most of his rights in the late 1960s for a reported million dollars. Simon and Kirby were guaranteed a percentage of Captain America and, when they suspected they’d been cheated, let DC hire them away for a sizeable sum. There were a few other creators in that time who were powerful enough or savvy enough or both to carve out unusual deals, but 95% or more of their peers were paid flat rates, and to some degree, that’s how it works today if you’re working for a comics publisher–you’re paid an agreed-upon rate for each page of material you produce.In the ‘80s, the powers that be at DC and Marvel (at the time, really the only games in town) overhauled their systems and added royalties to the mix. Unless you were working on top-tier characters like Spider-Man or Teen Titans, the thresholds weren’t easy to meet–initially, at DC, books available on the newsstand had to sell 100,000 copies before royalties were paid, 40,000 copies for books sold strictly to comics shops, and not many did, (but you could dream!); at Marvel, sales were higher but royalties were divided differently between writers and artists. Pluses and minuses to both sides, but an upgrade nonetheless. Both companies also revamped their work-for-hire contracts to guarantee payment for reprints, collections and reissues. Moreover, DC (under the guidance of publisher Jenette Kahn and exec Paul Levitz) drew up a creator-equity agreement for the talent, granting a small but significant percentage of all revenue on new characters created by writers and artists. Marvel later followed suit with something similar, and while sales (and royalty thresholds) have moved up and down over the years, that’s pretty much the way the system’s worked ever since.

By way of example, let’s take Impulse, a character I co-created with artist Mike Wieringo. Mike and I signed a contract that grants us a small percentage of all revenue DC might earn off Impulse action figures, merchandise, guest-starring roles on Young Justice or Smallville, what have you. It’s hardly buy-a-boat money; I get maybe a couple hundred bucks off of every action figure (because of the equity deal) and a few cents off every trade paperback collection or digital sale (because of the royalty agreement), but it adds up and I do see something, enough for a nice meal every few months. And that’s the deal I agreed to at the time, and that’s fine. But that’s the limit of DC’s legal, contractual obligation to us.

The confusion about extra-media compensation arises in that Levitz, while he was DC’s publisher, made it a policy to cut respectable bonus checks to writers and artists, regardless of legal obligation, if elements from any of their stories (even work-for-hire ones) made it into outside media adaptations movies or TV shows. Did you like the scene in Batman Begins where young Bruce Wayne climbs a Himalayan mountain holding a blue flower? Christopher Priest got paid for having come up with that. Or the scene where Bruce Wayne picks out a potential Batmobile from among his own holdings? That was lifted from a Chuck Dixon-written comic, and Paul sent Dixon a check to acknowledge that. Same with dozens of similar moments in cartoons, DVDs, and so forth and so on. It wasn’t legally necessary, it was totally at Paul’s discretion and only Paul knows what math he used to determine what he felt would be fair, but it was a goodwill gesture from an exec sympathetic to the creative community.

And most critically, it wasn’t a written policy or guarantee. It was a courtesy.

Once Paul left, that courtesy was deemed no longer necessary by the executives and the policy was rolled back, as was DC’s absolute prerogative. Currently, DC pays bonuses only on material that’s a straight and highly faithful adaptation of existing work; for instance, Frank Miller (rightfully) got a check for the recent DARK KNIGHT RETURNS animated movies, but if the next animated film takes its plot from (say) BATGIRL: YEAR ONE but calls it “BATMAN: BATGIRL BEGINS” and adds anything to the story, Chuck Dixon and Marcos Martin will receive nothing. DC has removed itself from the complicated business of having to evaluate how much certain adapted elements are “worth” and instead simplified the system to “pay” or “don’t pay,” with “don’t pay” the default. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed to learn, for example, that I’d be receiving no compensation for the JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM animated film even though WB was actively billing it as based on my and Howard Porter’s JLA: TOWER OF BABEL, but I couldn’t be angry or resentful and have a leg to stand on. DC or its owners, Warner Bros., were not legally entitled to compensate me for re-use of dialogue or plots or concepts because there was no contract that said they’d have to (and unless things have changed recently, such a contract would never have been an option). Moreover, they have no motive to issue compensation; paying courtesy bonuses don’t benefit the stockholders in any way, nor do they in any way uptick profits or sell more comics.

Would it be nice if the policy were different? Sure, but “nice” is a human behavior, and I say this without one hint of snark or cynicism, simply as fact: corporations are not designed to act based on society’s expectations of ethics or morality. They are designed to generate profit, and a responsible, publicly traded company will by design prioritize profit over all else. “Yeah, but…” No. Corporations aren’t people, my friends. It’s not unfair for us to expect people to base their behavior on a variety of factors–that’s kinda the definition of “society”–but a corporation isn’t built to be “fair” any more than is my coffee table. You may not like that, you may wish it were different, but that’s reality in the here and now. It is not a complaint any more than it is to say that the speed of light is constant. It just is.

A short summary that surprised me a bit is that DC Comics will pay you for when your character is used as merchandise or toys and your trade paperbacks will receive royalties but that when DC Comics paid you for your story concepts being used it was a courtesy and not part of the rules.

I cannot help but admire Mr Waid more than just a bit for not railing at an injustice for the pay structure, knowing that it is what it was when he signed his deals.  That said I’m disappointed that his work basically generated a movie for Warner Bros, Justice League: Doom, and he got nothing more than an acknowledgement on the packaging and in the promotions.

To be honest I suspect the biggest reason he does work-for-hire for DC Comics is simply that he enjoys working on these particular characters and would not have the chance if he created his own stuff and stuck to that exclusively.  I speak from ignorance on that front, of course, and could not say whether he gets paid more or less than for his own creations.

In an interview with The Wrap Len Wein directly compared these rules concerning Marvel Comics’ compensation to DC Comics’ compensation.  Mr Wein co-created Wolverine, whose  fifth movie (as I count the films) just came out last month, and Lucious Fox, who was a prominent character in the Dark Knight Triloy, as well as many other characters.

“When I work for DC, anything I create I get a piece of,” said Wein. “Lucius Fox, for example, who was in the last trilogy of Batman movies played by Morgan Freeman, bought my new house. At Marvel, I did see a check off ‘The Wolverine,’ the current film. But as a rule I don’t any of the ancillary money off of all of the toys and soaps and shampoos and skateboards and God knows what else that features the character.”

Though Wolverine has appeared in six films, Wein was only paid for the latest one because of esoteric rules requiring the film to be named after the character, he said. The rules are strict enough that he wasn’t paid for “X Men Origins: Wolverine.”

“They sent me a not-unreasonable check for the latest one,” he said.

When pressed on the amount, he only that it wouldn’t be enough to pay for another house.

These rules definitely seem twisted to me.  Despite that, Mr Wein, as well as Gerry Conway, did not seem angry.  I like how Mr Conway put it when describing his financial relationship with his co-creation the Punisher.

“To be fair, the companies are at this point trying to find ways to compensate people,” Conway said. “Because of the nature of the way the business was at the time … we knew what we were doing. We didn’t think any of this was going to have any legs. We thought the business was going to collapse, to be honest with you.”

If my opinion meant anything then certainly the respective companies should not act as if they owe the creators anything however the best thing to do would be to extend a very generous set of courtesies, if nothing else to create incentive for more original creations.  The most recently created Marvel Comics character is Deadpool, from the 1990s.  Before that the youngest Marvel characters to receive video games and movies are the Punsher, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine!  Those are Bronze Age 1970s characters!  That basically means that aside from four properties all of Marvel Comics’ multimedia franchises were created in the 1960s by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko!  I am not counting revamps like what happened to the X-Men in the seventies.



John DiMaggio talking about Adventure Time

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

I have no idea what Adventure Time is.


 But the internet will help us here.

Come to think of it I think I saw a fraction of this show while I was in a video rental store looking for a job application.

TMNT Entity, as a blog of note

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

In my ongoing pedantry I’ve been stuck on the idea (since I learned of it, probably from Elliot S. Maggin’s Superman novel Miracle Monday, I think) that the word “fan” meant “fanatic”, which meant there was a distinct difference between “I like this” and “I am a fan”.

So while I’ve certainly watched most of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon shows, and a high percentage of the episodes I can definitely tell you that I am not a fan, as I never watched all of them.  I really really like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It’s a great concept and it sprung from a comic book back in the early 1980s and from there it because three live action films from New Line, a cartoon from Fred Wolf Films that was both UHF syndicated and aired on CBS in later seasons simultaneously, a FOX children’s cartoon show made with non-union voice actors whose primary jobs were dubbing Japanese anime released in this country, a FOX Kids live-action television series made by the producers of the Power Rangers, a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip, a comic book series from Archie Comics spinning off of the 1980s cartoon series, an anime, a comic book series from IDW, a CGI-animated film, a straight-to-television animated film, prose novels for children, a Nickelodeon-owned CGI-animated cartoon series, a ton of action figure sets, each released for a different children’s cartoon series,  and that does not include all of the licensed merchandise like lunch boxes, mugs, t-shirts, tooth brushes, underpants, etc. Knowing that sounds like obsession.  Sadly remembering that information off the top of my head is how my brain works.  It collects and retains knowledge of useless stuff I learned decades ago with amazing retention of detail.  I think it’s a learning disorder because I’ve been meeting people lately and I swear that despite the familiarity they show I don’t even remember their faces (it’s probably less rude to be honest and ask how we last met rather than lie to them even convincingly).

Now because I like TMNT, a lot, but am not an actual honest to goodness fan, I only read TMNT Entity on occasion.  Mark Pellegrini is a fan, as in fanatic, and I will not fault him for it.  (And why should I fault him for it?  I’m a fan of Spider-Man and Batman, and certain eras of Star Wars and Transformers).  The man seems to have taste and his knowledge of the subject seems immense.  He is also extremely well-read in terms of the given material, as well as enough other things that we don’t have to worry about him not knowing if something is based off of something else.

I’m holding back a little, in part because there’s something else of his I want to praise later and give that more time.

As it is while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a franchise is certainly well-known among cable-watching children today, and adults who were children in the eighties and nineties, with a viewing audience that sadly dwarfs the reading audiences of major comic book series, it is all still based on an series of comic books that were published by Mirage Comics. They were created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, at first as a spoof of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and then as an action adventure series with a side of comedy.  The average intended output was six issues a year and whose average actual output was four issues a year.  I’m fairly certain that as it was an independent comic book with that distinct flavor it sold less than Superman and X-Men and perhaps the people that were readers of only the Big Two back in the early eighties did not know it existed.  Or maybe they did.  I was born in 1981, what do I remember?

From the Mirage Comic was licensed a cartoon series and spun from that cartoon series was a comic book series published by Archie Comics, licensed from Mirage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.  So an independent comic with an erratic output beget a daily cartoon show beget a monthly comic book.  I’m fairly certain that the audiences for the two comics were such that it was not an actual competitive product, any more than the Super Friends comic was a competitor of the Justice League of America.

The Mirage Universe version of the Turtles made many many canonical appearances not simply in their own regular comic book (of which there were three volumes, or four depending on who you ask), but in various anthologies and Micro-Series one-shots, as well as numerous back-up stories.  In fact whenever Mirage published a reprinting of one of their issues they made certain that new material was included, usually back-up stories which fit into the overall continuity.

This makes recognizing/establishing a continuity of these characters a formidable task at best.  But the writer of TMNT Entity did it, right here.  Now as fascinating as I find the whole story, both of how the comic was made, how the company worked, and the events of the characters themselves, I still am not a fan of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, or any of the franchise as a whole.

But I liked it a lot.  I watched every episode I could as a kid. I thought the action figures were cool.  And so the TMNT burnt into my brain.

Kevin Feige has faith in a Justice League movie

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Kevin Feige is the madman/genius that made Marvel’s Cinematic Universe/Phase 1/Avengers franchise from the Marvel Comics to the theatrical screens.  He provided his advice to Warner Bros regarding their efforts for a similar/parallel Justice League film series.

“I’m sure they have smart people over there who have a plan and know what they’re doing. Man of Steel looks like it’s going to be awesome and obviously Dark Knight is awesome. I don’t know,” Feige told Collider when asked about Warner Bros.’ troubles with Justice League. “It’s what I say all the time and have said over the years, which is, have confidence in the characters, believe in the source material, don’t be afraid to stay true to all of the elements of the characters no matter how seemingly silly or crazy they are.”… Feige also acknowledged that the idea of bringing preexisting characters together to form a superhero team came from Justice League originally. As he said, “Justice League was first.”

“I think there have been a lot of great DC stories and there are a lot of great DC characters, and if they focus on those things the audience will be interested,” Feige said. “It was a very unique model that we were lucky enough to be able to do — introducing each individual hero before introducing The Avengers. That, to me, is what was always interesting about The Avengers. … The Avengers was cool because they were preexisting characters that teamed up for a big event. I think that’s why Justice League was cool, Justice League was first. That’s what they did first in comic form.”

That all sounds correct.

How do the physicists afford the apartment?

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

From the Facebook page of ComicsPriceGuide.comWaitress Physicist

While the two physicists are smart enough to pay all of their bills on time and not with credit cards, Penny clearly has problems with money and does not pay her bills with the same regularity as Sheldon and Leonard. Her apartment, while in the same building, is not the same at all. It is a single bedroom apartment with one bath, a closet and a living room and kitchen combo. The boys’ apartment is a two bedroom, one bath apartment with at least three closets and a significantly larger living area/kitchen combo. These differences would make Penny’s apartment slightly cheaper then Leonard and Sheldon’s. This coupled with the fact that she clearly can just barely pay for the apartment does lend a fair amount of realism to the idea that they could be neighbors.

David Wagner

Marvel Comics launches robot Avengers title

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I find this concept to be horrifically boring and like one of those old concepts they refuse to acknowledge they did multiple times already.

“Springing out of the increasingly razor-thin crawlspace between the organic and synthetic worlds comes ‘Avengers A.I.’,” said Axel Alonso, Editor In Chief, Marvel Entertainment.  “When one of the Marvel Universe’s preeminent brainiacs, Hank Pym, embarks on a long road to redemption, he must assemble a team unlike any other, a team composed of heroes that will challenge the very definition of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and the way you look at super heroes.”

How many times and under how many different writers has Hank Pym hit a low point and then was redeemed?  Don’t bother counting it will just make you wish they stopped writing new comic books if you try.

I also fail to see how we can get a good robot Avengers team when I don’t see Machine Man (a.k.a. X-51 a.k.a Aaron Stack) or Jocasta, both of whom were in Marvel Zombies.  The last time I saw Machine Man before that was in Warren Ellis’s Nextwave: Agents of Hate comic book.

I’m sure if I think about it I can come up with other robot super-heroes in the Marvel Universe.

Now I looked and here is another release with another description for the book.  I just don’t plain understand this concept.

“The Marvel Universe within the blink of an eye is being colonized by A.I.s who may or may not have positive feelings about the way humanity has been treating them for the past 100 years,” said writer Sam Humphries of his new series. Featuring art by Andre Lima Araujo, the comic sports a line-up of robotic characters: the Vision, Ultron’s son and former Runaway Victor Mancha, a new character named Alexis and a Doombot who has until now been held prisoner by the Avengers. Joining them is Ultron’s father, Hank Pym and Monica Chang, the 616 Universe’s version of Humphries’ “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” S.H.I.E.L.D. commander.

“He comes back after having transformed himself, after upgrading himself, and now that he is in the age of artificial intelligence in the Marvel Universe, he has a new role to play,” Humphries said of the newest incarnation of the Vision, currently seen terrorizing his fellow Avengers in the pages of “Age of Ultron. “He’s not just a bridge between humanity and A.I. but he is a leader. All of a sudden, he’s not just the robot in the room — he’s an A.I. in a world of A.I. and humans.”

The team will face off against a new villain named Dimitirious while facing challenges not typically found in the hero/villain dynamic “”Artificial intelligences are a product of human ingenuity, and although they are going to be going down their new path, they will remain a mirror to humanity,” Humphries said “Understanding that and exploring that in ways that are going to be funny and touching and endearing are definitely going to be parts of this book.”

I don’t care now.  In the blink of an eye we have 100 years of robots?

IDW Transformers stuck in a post-war loop continuity

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

From Enders Non-Spoiler Written Review of RID #15:

I’m a big proponent of having “The War” in my G1 Comics. Personally I think the Cybertronian civil war is at it’s most exciting when it’s more like World War 2 and less like the Middle East “Peace Process”. Seems to me that we’ve been drowned in stories of the beginning of the war, which just keeps moving back,and after the war, which keeps ending over and over, but never seem to really see “THE WAR” which is ostensibly what the Transformers is about.

The biggest difference between TFs and people is really ageless durability. So when you get down to it, what the Transformers fiction is fundamentally about is Endless War.

I can totally understand not wanting to have perpetual Prime/Megs filled oil field raids, but that can be accomplished with out killing/disabling them, or in IDW’s case giving them a series of groan inducing Midlife Crises. You just don’t have them feature in the story when you don’t need them. Ta Da!

As for story, I’d think pan-galactic millenia of war would provide rather nicely. Enough D-Voids and Mythic Relics. Fail to take a hill, get bogged down in the trenches, clear a bunker.

“Ender, didn’t you just give this a good review?” Well, yeah. The writing and art are excellent, the story’s working, it’s well made art. It’s fun to read. I’m not gonna fault it for not being “what I’d ideally like to see”. I’ve said since the beginning of this Barber/Roberts Era, that the tragedy here is how these great writers, who clearly get The Transformers, are bogged down in this lack luster continuity. The G1 Comic franchise is still digging it’s way out of the hole Costa dug it into.

I wish they’d rebooted and let Roberts and Barber rebuild G1 from the ground up. The comics are great right now, thanks to great staff, but this continuity is an untenable mess.

I should also clarify that I don’t think there is NO place for non-action based TF comics, I’m all for some political intrigue. I’ve always wanted to see what happened leading up to and to some extent during the 300 years between G1 and Beast Wars. It seemed clear that the Autobots had come out on top, but clearly there was some complex political situation still. They seemed to have some kind of race-wide scale down. I thought it was interesting to think that by reducing their energy consumption, they had abrogated millions of years of conflict. I suspect one could tell a contemporaneously analogous story there.

I’ve always felt the G1 Cartoon was the most direct ancestor of Beast Wars. I kind of imagined the beginning of the end of that war was Cyclonus, Soundwave, and Razorclaw* meeting Prime, and co. on some asteroid, tossing Galvatron’s head to them and saying “So… We need to talk.”
(*Predacons, see?)

I agree. This is also the exact problem with George Lucas’ STAR WARS Prequel Trilogy.

I more or less completely agree with this sentiment. The details may differ.

the last Irregular Webcomic

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The link to the very last regular installment of Irregular Webcomic, at least as far as the actual strip, is here.

After No. 3182, the 2011-10-13 strip, which pretty much ends or ties up the various narratives to the extent that David Morgan-Mar is willing to do so, comes a slew of guest strips and a final annotation describing the end of the whole thing and to an extent the beginning.

After that the new material comes in two forms, one which was originally intended: just weekly essays where the annotations used to be, and a title graphic where the strip used to be.

A saving grace is that DMM is re-running the original strips now (not part of his original plan) with new annotations.

How massive can a Superman repository be?

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

The Comics Reporter has a page or exhibition for a newspaper strip collection for our Man of Steel:


am unclear which as I have not read it yet.

Megatron versus the Windsor police?

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Despite this being an event in Canada it is indicative about our own country’s legal policies regarding toys realistically resembling firearms.

WINDSOR, Ont. — A 25-year-old Windsor man who allegedly pointed a handgun at his neighbours was arrested on Wednesday after police officers surrounded his west end residence.

The three-hour standoff forced the lockdown of a nearby elementary school, and drew a police response that included tactical officers, body armour, submachine guns, sniper rifles, a police dog and the mobile command centre.

“We treat everything as real,” said Insp. Kirk Mason at the scene after the man had been taken into custody.

“There will be a search of the premises and hopefully we’ll come up with whatever it is that he was waving out the window at his neighbours.”

But the man’s friends accused police of overreacting, and said his supposed handgun was a toy.

“It’s a Transformer,” said William Findley, 24. “It turns into a Luger. It’s an 80s-style Transformer… He’s had a really bad day. People are treating him like crap.”

Findley said his friend had a pellet gun in the house at one point, but it was elsewhere at the time of the incident, and the only thing left resembling a weapon was his “Megatron” toy gun… Mason said the original call to police was that the man had become irate over his apparent eviction, and that he’d begun “screaming and yelling” and pointing what looked like a handgun out the window of his upstairs unit… Emily, who lives next door and didn’t want her last name published, said she also saw the man point a silver-coloured pistol… Mason said charges are pending. “We’re going to be looking at some weapon offences at the very least, but we’ll have to give it some time to get to the bottom of it.”

Mason said the response level was reasonable, and in accordance with procedure. “Everything went very smoothly, as usual,” he said.

Regarding the complaints of some in the neighbourhood, Mason said: “Well, I’ll let the neighbours be the judge. If somebody’s wagging a gun in your face… I would hope that would get police attention.”

Megatron, the toy robot in question, transforms into a Walther P38, actually.

That is beside the point, of course, that the toy in question transforms from a robot to an artifact that resembles a genuine firearm.  It is my understanding that under current American law it is illegal to manufacture and sell toys that realistically resemble real guns.  Necessarily these items could be used to alarm police.  Some would say that this is for safety reasons but the real purpose is to compensate for an overly litigious age that desperately needs tort reform.

It does mean that no replicas of particular toys from my childhood will be reproduced.
I never did understand why a Decepticon Commander converted into a weapon for another individual to hold.

Did you know that Jack Kirby created the comic adapting 2001 A Space Odyssey?

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

I did. I used to own a few issues, specifically the ones featuring “Mister Machine”, later to be brand-identified as Machine Man.

In any case, here are two articles plus some original art:

2001 A Space Odyssey Comic Book, Jack Kirby, Arthur C. Clarke

This stuff was apparently right up the King’s alley. No real surprise that the stuff that appealed to me was the stuff these guys just ignored and supposedly that the King hated. It’s hard to say.

Of course I just love Machine Man and apparently they do not. I hesitate to declare that the King hated Machine Man.

Chris Yost interview right before the Kang release

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Read with fascination Robot 6 interview with Chris Yost. Mr. Yost’s grasp of Marvel lore is quite impressive.
Note how he explains the Hawkeye dynamic.

you generally need one of the big three… (in order for it to be “‘really the Avengers'”) but honestly… In my mind, Hawkeye’s the fourth of the big three. To me, if the team is Black Knight, Sersi, Doctor Druid, Photon and Namor, I’m skeptical – and obviously I love those characters, I mean two of my top five are in there. But you could just as easily call them the Defenders or something. But throw Hawkeye in that mix, and it’s the Avengers again.He’s the guy you or I could be, if we worked hard enough. Iron Man is similar, but his armor is one step past reality. Not Hawkeye. He’s got the attitude…. he’s a normal guy, standing shoulder to shoulder with the gods, and he’ll get right in their faces. He’s the Han Solo of the team.

Mind you that in Hawkeye’s introductory episode he and Black Widow teamed up to knock the Hulk unconscious, so either Jade Jaws is either significantly weaker in this show than in the Marvel Comics (unlikely) or Hawkeye himself has his trick arrows slightly more beyond reality than in the comics.

It is also possible that he is simply name-dropping.  He also talks about the Avengers being “guides” in exploring the Marvel Universe as if this is a Marvel show.  There is also an explanation for why Captain Mavel is blue and not using his most awesome costume.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is dead. Long live Captain Marvel!

The appearance is based on the Ultimate Captain Marvel, which I suppose makes sense to me, especially if at least four of your main characters are already pale-skinned blonde-haired males.

Ultimate Captain Marvel

One more bit of name-dropping but their enthusiasm for the material shows through their comic book series for Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

I really wanted to flesh out the world of the series, do some of the things we couldn’t do in the show for this reason or that, and just to have fun. We’ll have Batroc’s Brigade, Super-Adaptoid, Mad Thinker, the Winter Guard, Elders of the Universe… we just go for it. This is the Marvel Universe, and it’s full of amazingness. And working with Scott Wegener and Patrick Scherberger has been a blast and a half.

This stuff makes me think that the cartoon is in good hands.

One more thing must be mentioned. The upcoming episode features the greatest Avengers villain of them all, Kang the Conqueror. That was inevitable given the time traveler’s position as one of the top villains of the Marvel mythology, even if he is not the most marketable (he did get a Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars action figure in the 80s).

The cool thing is that the title of the episode is “The Man Who Stole Tomorrow”. Its namesake is obscure unless you are a literary fan and as a bibliophile myself I recognized it immediately. The source of the title was a science fiction prose novel that Avengers comic scribe David Michelinie penned for the Pocket books Marvel series. I have owned this book for nearly two decades. It must have been over ten years since I have last read it.

Not only is the book surreal and brilliant simultaneously but most of those prose books are canonical within the Marvel Comics universe! The then-contemporary character relationships were a lot of fun. I still have my favorite line memorized:

George Lucas would puke!

Ah, Hank McCoy….

I bet the Kang episode will more likely resemble a 1960s or 1980s Kang story than the novel’s plot, but you never know.

In any case, you should buy a copy.

After all of this I still have to ask… why does Iron Man have blue nipples?

Which do you think are the most significant Super-Heroes and are the number of the most important only seven?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Adherents has had a website dedicated to exploring the respective religions of various fictional characters for some time now and whenever I wander over there (which is very rarely) I find it fascinating.

One of their side pages is The Significant Seven: History’s Most Important Superheroes.

It is, for the most part, an excerpt from a book by Mike Benton that I never read entitled The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History. So when I dispute adherents’ conclusions, I dispute Mike Benton’s ideas, but considering that at the end the site wants us to contact them if we find what needs correcting, I suppose we should contact them for the one thing I find factually incorrect in Mister Bention’s assertions. The rest is historical speculation, opinion, or genuinely correct.

I notice he limits himself to only comic book super-heroes, of course, as Batman and Superman have slightly limited originality if you count their pulp fiction fore-bearers. There is also only characters that are currently owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Although then the characters were genuinely significant Plastic Man and Captain Marvel were owned by Quality and Fawcett Comics respectively.
The Significant Seven are as follows:

Wonder Woman
Captain America
Captain Marvel
Plastic Man

My questions are not whether these characters are significant for they surely are and certain I can dispute just how much more significant they are than most other characters. Yet I wonder if they really are only seven significant super-heroes in the fashion that the author intended.

Superman is Superman, that which other costumed characters follow. Wonder Woman is the Woman, and regardless of the creator’s intent she is now the female super-archetype in comics for better or for worse (usually for worse). Batman is the peak human being; his presence is the indicator that one need not be superhuman to fight evil. So we have Super-Man, Super-Woman and Man-Man.

What they’re missing is Green Lantern.

For my point any Green lantern will do, from the original to the modern to the one that was simply in print the longest consistently.

Batman is a normal human being with no special powers beyond what a man can gain or obtain with extra-normal amounts of time and ambition. Leaving aside the factor of talent there are professional athletes that could be real life comparisons. Superman’s core attributes when it comes to sheer ability and power are beyond us mere mortals obviously but then comes Green Lantern. He is a mere mortal, a normal human like us, that wields the power of gods through an artifact, a mcguffin. Green Lantern is a man and not a god (although that really could be arguable). Superman would have to be someone else entirely to not be Super; Green Lantern just needs to remove the ring, not recharge the ring, or in the contemporary comics discharge the weapon completely. He possesses abilities but they do not come from him; they are not internalized. His identity like Batman is of a man but his abilities as a super-hero are separate because of his powered artifact, and those capabilities are closer to Superman than a mere mortal.

Green Lantern is the midpoint of Superman and Batman. That is precisely why he is Significant.

I also think the article should have the first hero that only has one power but I cannot say for sure who that is.

the Darker Seid of Life

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

By all means we at Monitor Duty should have written dozens of histories and recaps and essays about DC Comics’ vile Kirby demon, the evil New God Darkseid.  By now there should be hundreds of references and odes of love.  If kicked we might see it happen in the future, but I do not care to do that now.

Recently when I should have been working I googled for Grant Morrison interviews about Darkseid.  To tell you the truth I do not think that Mr. Morrison has anything profound  or unusual to say about the character but I like the way he puts together words and descriptions.   He puts together ideas that are not necessarily new or great in ways that are interesting and entertaining.  Honestly that is a good thing.  It does not matter whether the ideas are his or not.  His 52 co-writers claim that his virtue is not his creativity but his fearlessness.  He will go where his fellows will not and that seems like a strength to me (and a burden to editors and marketing staff).

Grant Morrison successfully delivers upon the marketing and communication of old ideas mixed together in way that editors would not let less experienced writers attempt.  That is the only reason I bother looking for his interviews.  I like his words; Ienjoy good poetry.  I do not care to give him credit for new meanings or new ideas.

Here is a quick Darkseid link dump.  It might be nice if, in the future, Monitor Duty has the greatest and most authoritative Darkseid link directory.  Let us leave that for the future.

  • Marc Singer, who is not the Beastmaster, writes a defense of Darkseid against the Howling Curmudgeon, in that he declares why the character is a good one, but insists the biggest injury upon the character is its overuse.  They agree on the character’s three best stories but alos there are moe good stories with the character.  The most profound note is that the character is used best in stories where he seems to die a permanent death.  I think that the character is not made better by having no inner conflict, but to have the character have an inner conflict is to write him out of character.  Most good characters have inner struggles; to an extent it easier to see the super-villain in this case as a plot device.  In this light most villains are plot devices more than characters.  I can think of exceptions like Lex Luthor (depending on the writer, of course) and Doctor Doom, both of whom are self-realized as Darkseid is.  Yet Luthor (again depending on the writer) has a character arc involving his own jealousy, need for attention, his place in the world, and possibly friendship with Superman.  Doom struggles with vanity above all.  Darkseid has not issues.  He merely is.  He will never grow and he will never learn.  He will simply act, conquer, enslave, and at the end of the story arc in question he will die.  Occasionally he gets trapped in the Source Wall or something.
  • A lot of this comes from a September calling for Darkseid essays.  Who has the time?  The point is that Darkseid “is a person” and I cannot say it is wrong because I sadly have read less Kirby New Gods material than I should, due to cost constraints.  As it is, what I declared in the point above is that recently Darkseid is a more a plot device, an abstract menace (as Galactus has almost always been) because while he may have been a person with a personality most writers simply treat him as an abstract personification of a dark ethos.
  • The best response is this: by Keith Giffen in his Ambush Bug mini-series.
  • Andrew Hickey insists that Darkseid’s desire to seize control of all life, the universe, and the entirety of creation and existence is borne out of fear of death.  Mr. Miracle is the logical counterpoint and the arch-enemy of Darkseid because as an escapological archetype he is positioned outside of the constraints of control.  Yet Scott Free himself is still not a direct and successful contrast because Darkseid name him and set his purpose.  That is Mr. Hickey’s point anyway and I am not certain I buy into it.  This plays all into ideas of “degrees of freedom” but as a Liberal Democrat (in the UK political sense) Mr Hickey’s views about what is acceptable as a definition or execution, application of freedom is suspect.
  • The first Darkseid story I ever read was not the entire story but the final chapter of a JLA/JSA team-up story.  As was the the fashion at the time the occasional/formal meeting between the League and the Society finds it self linked to a third super-team, in this instance the New Gods.  I remember Justice League of American #184 (and here is the cover) because the New Gods were not only definitely super-heroes in this incarnation (and there is nothing wrong with that) but Darkseid has a personality, he is a villain with motivations and relationships.  In point of fact the bulk of the story is about relationships as well as a rise to power.  Upon his return from his most recent death in the New Gods strip from Adventure Comics, Darkseid punishes the Injustice Society for accosting his son Orion, clearly with a view of propreitry and seeing Orion as a creature, a prince, someone whose fate is more tied to Darkseid’s whim than mere encounters with bad guys.  Orion’s group consists of a Leaguer and a Society member.  All the split-groups  (I love how they follow the Gardner Fox tradition) consist of such a configuration.  For isntance Batman’s group has Mr. Miracle and the Huntress because both are versions of him in the different worlds of the different teams.  At this point each team resides in a different dimension of the DC Comics storytelling.   Because Darkseid has his relationship with the New Gods he seeks to teleport Apokolips to the spot where Earth-2 resides, destroying Earth-2 and thus landing his domain inside a universe where there would be no heroes, and no heroic New Gods.
  • OAFE assesses/contrasts two Darkseid action figures making his size and sculpt major emphasis.  The Mattel version, which is the one really looked at, comes with a Mother Box as his accessory, and despite being smaller than the DC Direct Darkseid figure, is apparently just better.  Of course there is a brief history asserting that Darkseid only recently became a Superman villain despite that his first appearance was in a Superman comic.  He also discusses Grant Morrison’s formulation of the Anti-Life Equation.

I think there is something to be said that properly written the villain is a character but this applies to every character.  It is also important to note that the ending of the story as well as how often the character appears has serious impact for story quality.

Everything is better with lightsabers

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Chuck Norris with lightsaber