Monday, December 30, 2013

One the seventh day of Newton: role-playing (and a birthday!)

So, another pal has a birthday today (don't we call these late-year births deduction babies?) and this gives me the perfect excuse to post this great Wonder Woman panel that I got from who knows where (but here's a random citation) because she (my pal, not WW) has one of the best analytical minds that I know and is smart about gender and identity politics and has played house in any number of ways herself and I thought she'd appreciate it:

Anyway, happy birthday, Wheylona!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

On the sixth day of Newton: crystal mash (and a birthday!)

So, it's a pal's birthday today, and he deserves some special recognition for this particular trip around the sun, during which he acquitted himself admirably under especially trying circumstances.
What better way to celebrate than a mash-up of the classic comic-book Twinkie ads with Walter White and that lovable scamp, Jesse Pinkman.

Best Birthday, Buddy! May 2014 be Breaking Beautiful!

Friday, December 27, 2013

On the fourth day of Newton: Geek Girls! (and guys)

So,  because it was such a Busy Quarter™, I didn't post (or make) my annual Geek Girl Con video this year. But I did indeed go to Geek Girl Con 3 back in October, keeping intact my record of having attended every one that has been held. Here are some photos, mostly of the cosplay:

My buddy Margaret came to the con with me, since Wonder Wife begged off from the crowds/noise/overstimulation/&c. Margaret was Bilbo the first day and Kaylee the second day, with stuff she just happened to have around. (She actually dresses pretty much like a hobbit most of the time anyway....)

Okay, I neglected to write down this girl's name, and she wasn't a cosplayer, but she played with us in a role-playing game whose mechanic was not dice-based but rather jenga-based. And she was like a jenga superhero - I mean, she must have had mutant jenga abilities or something. She kicked ass. I don't know how you could use that ability to fight crime, but she was a good gamer and a sweet kid. Margaret will remember her name.

Lots of crossplay:  here's a Doctor and a Link.

This awesome Skyrim lady was also very patient with me as I tried to capture her spooky lit-up eyes.

I met one of my former students at the Con - she's the Snow White with her friend, another Link.

This Gears of War/Hello Kitty mashup guy was telling me in the restroom about designing costumes to make sure he could, uh, use the restroom easily.

Awesome Robin I had to snap for Super Sissy.

GGC has a place for folks to sit quietly, read, rest, and recharge (not talking). I texted this pic to Wonder Wife and it made her decide that she would come next year after all!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On the third day of Newton: secret identity

So, last time here I showed you how I enjoy the holidays. Here's how Wonder Wife does it:

The holidays can both enrich and exasperate, especially for someone who is more introverted in the first place.  (Wife considered this recently on her own grown-up blog.) I don't get it totally, but I do try to understand and work with it. As long as I can get Chocos, I'll be happy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On the first day of Newton: Holiday cookies!

So, the Twelve Days of Christmas are traditionally those festive days between Christmas and the feast if the Epiphany. In a new tradition, we're going to up the ante, with the Thirteen Days Of Newton, comprising those festive days between the eve of Isaac Newton's Birthday (which coincidentally falls on December 25th) and my wedding anniversary (which coincidentally falls on Epiphany). Let's kick it off!

This is how I celebrate the holidays:

My affection for the Martian Manhunter is well known, but I am not sure I have ever commented on how much I liked the period of Justice League when J'onn J'onzz displayed the quirk of being a big fan of Oreos - called Chocos on the comics (for legal reasons, I guess). And it wasn't just that this trait humanized the often flat characterization given to the character.

You see, when I was younger and had a higher metabolism, I would eat Oreos like they were going out of style. I'd pile 'em on a plate or paper towel and toss 'em in my mouth like potato chips. I could get through most of a package in one sitting. As I got older, I started rationing my Oreo intake, and then stopped buying them altogether, not so much because I outgrew the taste but rather because I was starting to eat better generally. So I could totally get J'onn's obsession.

The exception to my Oreo moratorium is the holiday season. I like to end the year with a little indulgence, and for me, that means unconditional Oreo consumption, at least for a week or so.

So bring on the little chocolate wafers with the white creamy filling: I am ready.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nick Cardy. R.I.P.

Just a couple of favorites from Nick Cardy, who has just passed away.

Cardy was the only artist who drew Aqualad as a compact, even stocky, muscular young man instead of the waifish figure most often seen. I liked that.

I used this image way early in my blogging days to highlight J'onn J'onzz's awesomeness. It is still a perfect example of distilled Bronze Age goodness.

Thank you, Mr. Cardy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Surface thoughts

So, Wonder Wife and I are currently watching Surface, an unsuccessful 2005 science-fiction series pulled after one season. We operate at the whim of Netflix streaming and have found a surprising number of shortrun sci-fi series that we wish had had more episodes - Alphas, OutcastsThe Dresden Files, Nova, and Flash Forward among them - but this is not about the serendipity of tripping over a cancelled series that you like.

Surface centers on the interaction between a few people - a California oceanographer, a Lousiana good ol' boy, and North Carolina teen - and a new underwater species: some sort of large vertebrate with an electrical charge and an active lifestyle that involves eating dogs, sharks, whales, boats, and so on. With a bit of a Close Encounters vibe, these civilians come into conflict with shadowy government agents who have their own agenda regarding these creatures.

We're only halfway through the show's fifteen episodes, but we've been having a rollicking good time. There's technobabble science, high-seas adventure, conspiracy espionage, and interpersonal drama in pretty equal measure, with decent pacing and appealing characters. It's not a great show, but it certainly is solid entertainment.

What's noteworthy is that for me it puts lie to the idea that Aquaman is a hard character to write for.

This show is all about something coming up from the depths of the ocean; the core of the show is  a sea-monster, for cryin' out loud. And is sure has a lot of watery set pieces: among them, we've had a research submarine expedition, the carrier Ronald Reagan and a military sub in the Arctic, spear-fishers under an offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico, a pickup-creature chase along a river, and a jerry-rigged bathysphere being lowered from an outlaw salvage ship. And those are just the scenes with the main cast: the sea-monster teasers have taken us all over the world.

And yet, much of the show plays out like any television thriller: scientists work in labs, senators meet in conference rooms, agents drive SUVs, children get dropped of with ex-spouses, cell phone calls are made and answered, pins are placed on large maps in cluttered situation rooms, and characters share beers while assessing their chances. While the plot is ocean-driven and the show ocean-centric, nothing ever feels ocean-bound.

So why is Aquaman seen to be so limited? Just because he is an ocean-based hero, that doesn't mean he can't ever function on land. Almost half the world's population lives within 100 miles of the ocean, and if you add the navigable rivers there's even more. Think about how many world-class cities are ports: New York, Boston, San Francisco, London,  Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Tokyo, and on and on. Granted, Aquaman's probably not going to be crossing the Sahara or parachuting into Siberia, but there's a lot of world that is still reasonably open to him from a plot perspective, and he doesn't have to stay submerged to be effective.

Aquaman is a marine mammal, not a fish - he can come up on shore, look for information, contact sources, visit an old friend, and yes, even engage the enemy on their own turf. The major action scenes in an Aquaman story, as in Surface, should certainly be on the water - getaway speedboats, island hideaways, cruisers remaining in international waters, and so forth - but nothing keeps Arthur Curry from being a force to be reckoned with on dry land. He still packs a punch like a ramming whale, right?

I gotta check Netflix again. Are we sure he didn't have a show for even one season?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Knights of old

So, way back at the turn of the century, in the summer 2000, a D&D club at a community college in southwestern Washington wanted to go to Dragonflight, the Seattle area gaming convention, but their club advisor was unable to make to trip. Since the outing would have to be cancelled if there were no faculty/staff advisor to go along, the student activities director scoured the campus for a volunteer, and eventually made the campus security director an honorary, temporary student club advisor.

That's how I attended Dragonflight and got my first real exposure to the gaming community. The story of that trip has several details of note, but the one I am reminded of now is how I was present for the birth of what eventually evolved into the HeroClix phenomenon.

As I wandered around the convention, my charges nowhere to be found -- they were all involved in nonstop tabletop RPG sessions beginning literally within minutes of our arrival -- my attention was drawn by a fellow who was hawking figurines that had little dials on the bottom. I chatted with him a while, and he explained how you could use the dial to keep track of the condition of the character represented by the figure as you played the game. Gathering together my then-limited understanding of tabletop gaming, I ventured "So it's like D&D, except instead of keeping track on a character sheet, you keep track with the dial itself?"

"Exactly!" he said.

In fact, it was close to the wording they used on the first box set to explain this new invention:

But I get ahead of myself: I didn't get a box set at that time; I did get a free promotional figure, which was one of the first combat dial system miniatures ever produced. I gave it to a pal who was a big Warhammer player back that then. I wonder if  he still has it; he could probably make a dime or two on eBay.

I also got a promotional comic book from the guy:

It was an odd, small size, with decent printing and Rob-Liefield-esque art and the bare bones of a story that gave a background to the MageKnight game world. That world included the usual RPG human and elven and orcish types, with sorcerers and a clerics and such, but with a new element. While magic was a core concept, this time in three schools...

... the plot hook was that the invention of gunpowder had upset the balance of power and given non-magic-users a chance to wrest control from the various mages. It was a neat twist on old tropes, and appealed very much to me, since I was never much of a Tolkien purist or (later) a D&D traditionalist anyway. And it sure looked cool to see a troll and a human drawing down on an Atlantean magic robot with a  crossbow and musket.

I never did follow up with actually playing MageKnight or any of the superhero-based HeroClix games that followed it. I did pick up one of the dungeon-crawl sets at a thrift store years later, and it seemed the gunpowder element had  fallen out out the storyline, at least for that series. I later found an original "Rebellion" set at a hobby shop that had apparently not rotated any stock in about twenty years; that allowed me to replace the comic book (which I think I gave to the Warhammer guy) but I just repurposed the figures for D&D.

No matter what, though, I can say I was there at the start. That and $3.26 will get me a grande latte in Seattle.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fig Deal

So, I dropped in at a D&D Encounters session in one of the local comic/game stores last Wednesday. As we were setting and digging through the small case of miniatures, I remarked to the DM that he had a lot of figures that I didn't have and some that I had never seen. I thought it odd that our collections should overlap so little, since I have a considerable number of figs, about 500.

Then he told me that he had 3800.

You know that feeling you get when you take a yellow light a little too late, and you're feelng guilty, but then you look in the rearview mirror and see that a guy four car lengths back has also taken it? Your head quickly moves from "man, that was a little crazy of me" to "that guy is frickin' nuts!"

That was the same sort of feeling I had confronted with this DM. He made some jokes about not being able to control his addiction and being glad they ended the series he had been collecting so he didn't have to buy any more figs, but all I could think was that for every buck I had spent on this stuff, this guy has spent seven or eight - or perhaps more, depending on his collection. I have bought 95% of my stuff used, some even at thrift stores, and many are re-purposed off-brands. I have no idea what the makeup of his collection was, but it had no doubt set him back a few thousand dollars, at least.

Whatevs, I guess. Is it crazier to spend two grand on a pile of miniatures or on one bike? Is it nuts to spend $150 to go see a pop star sing or $5 for a cup of coffee and sugar syrup? Floating boats and all that, I imagine.

In any case, I wanted remain in the big leagues of DMing, so after that encounter I tried to make sure my ranks were filled out. I took out the last of the MageKnight miniatures I have accumulated and got them ready to re-purpose, and pulled out all the damaged items to repair. He's the injured reserve list:

This Warhammer (?) dude lost his base and is going to get a 5¢ replacement.

This nasty guy needs a blade for his sword so it doesn't look like a defective lightsaber.

Likewise, this Skeleton Lord needs a blade for his axe so it's not a broomstick.

 Mialee, one of the stars of D&D 3.5 Player Handbook, apparently had weak ankles.

This drider-guy lost his head.


MageKnight ogre snapped off his base.

And Giant Eagle off hers.

One trip to Bartell's and some Superglue later, the troops are ready for an encounter.

Except for eagle, who is still in ICU.

Oh, and one last note - in the middle of the Encounter, Mr. 3800-figs DM put down a shaggy beast-man figure and said "This is really a demon guy with claws. I had a better miniature but I forgot it."


Thursday, August 29, 2013


So, over on Talent Not Guaranteed, I just unleashed unveiled the new project that will take a year or so to complete: a panel-for-panel re-do of Justice League of America #200, similar in spirit to Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's Psycho, but maybe closer in skill and execution to the legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation.

This project is actually an off-shoot of a thought experiment I have had for some time; it focused on JLA #200, but only because that was the comic I had to hand when the idea came. Regardless of the source material, I think it would be an interesting exercise.

The first step is to take a comic book story and have a third party write a (DC-stye as opposed to Marvel-stye) full script -- sort of reverse-engineering the script from the finished product. This in itself would be a useful exercise in exploring the conventions of comic scriptwriting and the nature of the collaboration between writer and artist. The next step is to take the finished script and give it to a new artist, one who has never seen the source material. That artist then illustrates the story according the full script, interpreting the writer's words and direction and actualizing them. Finally, we compare the second version with the original version, examine the differences, and try to see where the influence of the writer and that of the artist can identified.

I'm not sure that this experiment isn't already being done somewhere, although perhaps it has more appeal to critics than creators - adaptation is often a useful lens for literary analysis, but maybe the talent is less interested in this than the audience.

In any event, it is that thought experiment that inspired my latest exercise. We'll see how it goes as I slog through. Probably something like this.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Five by Five: Dalgoda

From 1984 to 1986, Fantagraphics published Dalgoda, a science-fiction series about the adventures of an interstellar visitor to Earth in a future that had quite a few disturbing similarities to our own time. I recently backfilled the wholes in in my eight-issue run and re-read the whole story. Here's the 5 x 5:

1. Jan Strnad and Dennis Fujitake are two of my favorite creators. Strnad wrote the fantastic ERB-Wodehouse mashup Dinosaur Rex (illustrated by Henry Mayo) and Fukitake illustrated the back-up story in that book, what is perhaps my all-time favorite comic book story, Dragons of Summer (written by William Messner-Loebs). In Dalgoda, we get these two great talents working together, and that alone is the price of admission.

2. Strnad gives us the titular canine alien and plays with his dogginess without ever making it trite or predictable. All of the cast members (except maybe one villainy-villain) are complex and multi-faceted: the human hero/partner has some less-admirable qualities, the government agents are not faceless drones, the lawyers are not amoral caricatures - even "The Girl" is not at all stereotypical. Heck, Gunner is more "The Sidekick" and screw the gender roles.

3. Fujitake's detailed art is a great accompaniment to Strnad's layered writing. His action scenes are dynamic and clear, but where he shines is in revealing character - the expressions and body languages of the main characters, the supporting characters, and even the extras all convey mood, emotion, information, and even plot cogently and beautifully. I have never encountered a more real world in a comic book than one Fujitake has created.

4. Dalgoda is, of course, a sci-fi epic, and the series gives us a fully realized world, with consistent explanations for its inconsistent technology, a logical premise about interstellar travel that pays attention to both Einsteinian physics and quantum mechanics, and a plot with stakes high enough to make us care about the mission, the maguffin(s), and the heroes.

5. What was ultimately disappointing about this re-read is that the story leaves us in media res; not exactly at a cliffhanger, but with no resolution as of yet. There was a follow-up Dalgoda series, Flesh and Bones; I did not read that at the time and will have to seek it out now. I don't think there's a collected Dalgoda of any sort, but if you ever get a chance to read these, jump at it.

PS: There was some kind of fantasy back-up feature in some of the issues but I ignored it then and now...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Size matters

So, I was walking through my bedroom slash office getting something, and my eye happened upon some books, and I saw what I thought was an interesting juxtaposition. As usual, I over-thought it, and gathered more samples, and anyway, herewith are the results:

The two tallest books in my bookcases:

The two thickest books in my bookcases:

The two smallest books (by surface area of cover) in my bookcases:

I'm not sure what meaning I can glean, but there it is.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Big Box

So, as I said elsewhere, I recently purchased some comic books from Mile High Comics, and I'm really not shilling for them, but I am going to to talk about them again. They included some propaganda in with the shipment, of course; adverts for special editions and some sort of custom variant cover stuff, but one of the comic-sized flyers had a three-panel photograph of one of the firm's retail stores. I wanted to scan it, but it's way too big, so here's a different way to show what it looked liked:

Man, that's a big comics shop. The flyer says it's the world's largest at 45,000 square feet. What gets me is that there doesn't seem to be any stock besides comics - I can't see any action figures or gaming supplies or whatnot. Holy moly.

All right, enough of them. If Mike Sterling will send me some pictures of Ralph's, I'll post those.

And if anyone has pictures of the Passaic Book Center, where I bought back issues in the 1970s, I'd love to see them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Completist, not elitist

So, I had a need (yes, a deep need) for a copy of JLA #200 and although I own it I could not find it, so I decided to buy a(nother) copy. I couldn't find it at a local comic shop, so I went to the ready stand-by on the internet, Mile High Comics.

Since buying the one comic would have incurred exorbitant shipping costs, but spending more money got free shipping, it seemed only logical to buy more comics. In that spirit, I took the opportunity to fill in a few series.

I sort of felt like this:

(That's right, I couldn't find the actual Doonesbury strip that illustrated how I felt, so I posted a picture of someone describing it.)

I remember when obtaining back issues meant multiple trips to used book stores, tracking down the few specialty comic shops that were in existence, or going to a convention. Now, I can just log on, click my mouse, and the desired copies are winging my way forthwith. It takes some of the adventure out of it, sure. But it does fill the shortbox! Here are the series that I filled out:

Great Lakes Avengers: I had gotten 1 through 3 (of 4) from a quarter bin, just for Squirrel Girl... now I have the conclusion.

Mage: I had all 15 of these but 1, 2, and 4 -- it was one of my favorite series back in the day and I wonder if it still holds up. It certainly deserves another read-through.

Amethyst: I found 1 through 12 of the original mini-series in a less-than-a-quarter bin at the thrift store, except for 8 - I think that one cost as much as all the rest combined. Anyway, this is a series deserving of a close read.

Dalgoda: One of the best science-fiction stories in comics -- for some reason, I only had sort of every other issue. I think the story will flow much better now.

It wasn't just the completist impulse that led to this extravagance: I have always wanted to explore these series as complete stories (well, three of them, anyway), and this will give me the chance to do that. Keep watching this space for the dissection reports!

Oh, and of course I screwed up. I forgot that the Fujitake-Strnad Retief series for Mad Dog went to six issues. I have the first three, so I didn't see a gap, but I need to complete this one soon, too -- it really needs to be celebrated,

Of course, that just means Ill have to find some other stuff to buy in order to get the free shipping...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mash kicking

So, some time ago, I was readying some observations about the state of mash-ups. Examples of this internet idiom are ubiquitous - you can't go to Tumblr or any pop culture aggregator site without running across one pretty quickly; sometimes two or three pieces in a row will be about mash-ups. The one that kicked off my rumination was this one - "Charlie Brownson" it's called:

I don't get it. After the initial shock of the juxtaposition, what's there? Does this tell me anything? I mean, some mash-ups illuminate one thing by mashing it against another - if I insert the crew of Serenity into the Breakfast Club poster, I am (hopefully) letting you know something about how to see each of the characters. Turning the Justice League into a D&D party says something about the creator's understanding of both superheroes and tabletop RPGs. Turning Calvin & Hobbes into Lex Luthor and the Joker was actually a work of small genius, explicating all four characters.

But this? Charlie Brown's chronic depression will lead him to soul-killing violence? What? What?

As I said, I was readying these observations in the hopes of producing a short essay, but it seems that the watershed has already been reached and all hope is lost. Check this out:

It's masterful, I'll give the guy that. There's about 200 movies beautifully edited together there - that must have taken a lot of work. And his choices were almost all OMG-epic. But to what end? There is no consistency of visual tone or sensibility, much less any sort of narrative energy, even implied. I see that the guy who made this is a trailer editor by trade, and I imagine this functions as part of his portfolio, but I swear it is so po-mo that it makes my ears bleed.

Has it come to this? Do we just want the cool bits of everything thrown in a blender to enjoy without intent, or meaning, or message?

Man, it's enough to make someone want to read a book.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

More than meets the why

On a trip to Spokane this weekend to visit some friends, we were treated to a demonstration of a pal's snazzy Volkswagen Eos convertible... and it was just geeky enough to make this blog instead of the other one. Here, take a look:

Full disclosure - shown at 150% speed to match the music.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


So, Wonder Wife and I just finished watching the entire Freaks and Geeks oeuvre - not a Herculean task, since there were only ever eighteen episodes. The discussion of how a brilliant series can come and go so quickly (cf. Firefly) is for another time; right now, I want to focus on just one aspect of the final episode of this series about burnouts and nerds, the yin-yang misfits of high school.

Daniel Desario, one of the freaks (James Franco in a surprisingly textured performance), is going through a rough patch; he decides to play Dungeons and Dragons with the geeks. Here's a scene compilation:

While almost none of the game mechanics are elaborated, the show gets across the essence and appeal of the game perfectly, I think. "We sit around and crack jokes and eat junk food all night while we're fighting dragons and saving princesses and stuff." It's the community, the shared experience, and the story that matter; the dice rolling is just there to help things along.

There have been a couple of other shows that have used portrayals of Dungeons and Dragons to good ends. 

Community featured a D&D episode that didn't just avoid or ignore the game mechanics, it presented them totally incorrectly: only the DM ever rolled the 20-sided die. The session played by the motley collection of community college study group members was, however, completely accurate in its portrayal of the kind of psychodrama that can bleed into roleplaying when adults play D&D and are concerned with more complex issues than "saving princesses and stuff."

Another show lovingly mocked the difference between D&D geeks and civilians. Britain's The IT Crowd featured the company computer nerds entertaining some visiting VIPs with a rousing session of tabletop roleplaying.

After a slow start, the bros (what's the British equivalent of "bro"?) are swept away into roleplaying and have a great time. Hey, I've seen it happen.

There was an episode (or two, I imagine) of the The Bing Bang Theory that focused on D&D, but have never seen those in situ, so I'll pass on commenting.

Any more? Four major references in ten years or so seems too few even for a fringe activity like D&D.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


So,  I hope y'all are already dialed into The Doubleclicks. This geekcore sister act has been pulling some buzz lately for the wonderful Nothing to Prove video, the in-your-face response to the "fake geek girl" issue. But as the hipsters say, I was into them way before they were popular. Their latest album, Laser and Feelings, was on my get-list as soon as it was announced - and it did not disappoint. As well as continuing to wave the geek flag high with clever and enjoyable songs, Angela and Aubrey are both demonstrating growth and development as musicians.

I bought the super-fun-size album package (or something), so in addition to the digital download, I got a physical CD -- and the cool Special Prize. Here it is in action:


(Oh, and if you're wondering about the velociraptor - check this out and all will be made clear.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Holy synthesis, Batman!

So, I saw this thing today, from Mashable via Geeks are Sexy:

It was coincidental, in that I had been thinking of a few things recently and this pulled them all together.

There's been all this buzz about the next Superman movie being a Superman & Batman movie and that its vibe is going to be the Superman vs Batman deal from Dark Knight Returns.

There's been buzz and gossip about the Wonder Woman movie, which I guess has been put on "pause" once again, because nobody in Hollywood can figure out how to make a movie about such a "tricky" character. (Lots of good chatter about this on Twitter.)

This stuff got me to thinking about Matt Wagner's Trinity, and how much I liked it, and how cool it would be to see a movie version of it. (Oh, and if anyone needs to know how to make the invisible jet awesome, just read this.)

And Trinity always puts me in mind of Calamity Jon's model for these three Ur-superheroes: that the characters are as iconic as they are because each one represents a different tradition of adventure that fed into the superhero genre: Wonder Woman from myth and fantasy, Superman from science fiction, and Batman from swashbucklers and the pulps.

What Jon's model makes obvious is that while myth and sci-fi both routinely present heroes and/or villains with (innate or manufactured) powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, pulp heroes were exciting precisely because of their vulnerability and more realistic power levels. Which meant that Batman's idiom, while as strong of pedigree as the other two, did not give him the raw power to stand next to Superman or Wonder Woman in most adventures or conflicts. So while he captured the same level of popularity, combining the narrative streams was problematical.

This didn't stop World's Finest from pairing Superman and Batman for many years, or Justice League of America showing all three heroes together. But in these stories, Batman was more detective and escape artist than powerhouse, and his contribution in most stories came from his wits and his will. It was his savvy, his cleverness, and his resolute badassery that gave him the right to stand alongside aliens and demigods.

But somewhere along the line, the current that gave us that awesome curbside beatdown in DKR starting building strength. It was no longer enough for Batman just to be smart and tough; he had to be the master strategist and perfect warrior, with a plan for every contingency and a device for every situation. He had to be unbeatable, not just by thugs and gangsters and deranged clowns, but by anyone, super-powered or not. And this current swept us along as we watched bat-gear, which had already proliferated in numerous goofy ways, become more and more militarized and weaponized and science-fictional, and saw Bruce Wayne transform from the orphaned son of a moderately wealthy physician into the heir to a vast industrial empire and a fortune that made him one of the world's richest men, in order to explain how he can afford all of that gear.

At some point, Batman left his domain as the avatar of the pulp adventurer in the prime superhero trinity and edged over into same sci-fi circle as Superman. An article I read recently[wish I had the citation] asserted that contrary to popular belief, Batman does indeed have a superpower: that superpower is money. Money for vehicles, money for exoskeletons, money for bodysuits, money for less-than-lethal firearms, money for all the stuff that can make him the guy who can take down anyone.

Until we get to where we are now, when half the time Batman seems like a stealth Iron Man rather than a caped crusader. Don't think so? Just look at the 2013 half of the image above and tell me it ain't the truth.

As all of this was swirling in my head, the classic yellow-oval Batman on the "1939" side of the image put me in mind of an exchange I had with Marc Burkhardt some time back, as we were marveling at a story in which Batman improvised his way out of a combat situation by throwing a car battery at the bad guy. We both expressed a desire to see a stripped-down Batman, a smart detective and tenacious fighter, a shadowy street-level hero.

I dunno. I imagine I'm going to have to wait quite a while.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Didn't make the cut

So, as I was pawing through my comics looking for JLA #200, which I never found, I decided to take the opportunity to organize a bit and weed out some stuff that I didn't want. Here's what's headed for the half-price bookstore (and you'll see some of them came form there):

I love me some Paul Chadwick but this was a little too weird for me.

I liked the concept of this but thought the execution was pretty pedestrian.

This never grabbed me at all, and I gave it three tries.

Extremely disappointing.

Okay, but I can;t imagine re-reading it.

This came on a good recommendation, and there is much to love about it. In the end, it was a little too self-conscious, and I quickly grew tired of the OMG-he-is-so-cool Shade.

Still holding on to Lady Cop.