The Pants of Paradise Island

So from what I see and hear, this is the new Wonder Woman costume.

Inevitably, it is causing some controversy among the people who care about such things. I'm sure it is equally inevitable that the original swimsuity number will return at some point. But this is the deal for now, and I'm sure that if we ever do see a Wonder Woman movie come out of Hollywood, this (or something inspired by this) is what she'll end up wearing. Hell, I'd be shocked if that wasn't the impetus for the change in the first place. But you know, whatever the reason, I actually kinda like it.

Of course, I also kinda like these oft-maligned super-togs, too:




so maybe don't go by me.

Lazy Late Night You Tube Music Video Blogging: The Tra-La-La Song

I haven't thought about Liz Phair in a while. He she is going to town with Material Issue on the theme song to The Banana Splits from the "Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits" album and home video.

(BTW, this version is missing the interruptions by Drew Barrymore and her friends from the home video version. Even if you never saw that, you'll be thankful.)

My favorite part of "Vincent and the Doctor," a very good episode of Doctor Who (spoiler free).

There was a lot to enjoy about "Vincent and the Doctor," but this part made me smile. The way it was shot, the intent and emotions of our three main characters... just brilliant.

(Yes, I know, I'm weeks behind, but I'm watching it on BBC America. So don't spoil any upcoming bits for me, please and thank you.

Pretty Sketchy: Lando and Nien Nunb

It's the stars of the greatest Star Wars-based buddy comedy never made, Lando Calrissian and Nien Nunb (seriously, George, where's their spin off?), as rendered in tiny watercolor form by Katie Cook at Comic Geek Speak Super Show 2010 (where I also should've picked up the awesome Godzilla Vs. Mothra mini-painting she had sitting on her table, too, which I've been kicking myself for passing up ever since!).

Katie is awesome and friendly, so give her your monies if you ever meet her at a con, and be sure to check out her adorable webcomic Gronk: A Monster's Story.

He hunts the biggest of all game, set dressers who hang signs incorrectly!


So the trailer for the new Green Hornet movie hit the inter-ma-web the other day, and I have to say it made me cautiously optimistic about the film. I still have no idea why this movie needs to be in 3D, and the January release date seems like a vote of no confidence from the studio, but still, I hope it'll be fun.

I've watched the trailer a few times since it was released, and the same thing jumps out at me in the beginning EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Is it a flub? Is it explained in the movie? This is definitely the least important thing in the world, and yet it vexes me so, getting me way down deep in the place where I try (and often fail) to keep my grammar pedantry hidden (not the same thing, I realize, but it feels related somehow). It's like the Stormtrooper bumping his head in Star Wars... once I saw it, I couldn't not see it, you know?

Maybe this is just my own private First World Nerd Problem.

How's Who #7: The Time Meddler

TARDIS Crew: The first Doctor (William Hartnell), Vicki Pallister (Maureen O'Brien), and Steven Taylor (Peter Purves)

The Plot: The Doctor and Vicki find themselves traveling alone, Ian and Barbara having found a way to get home at the end of the previous story, "The Chase," when they discover that Steven, a marooned astronaut they met during that story has stowed away on the TARDIS. Though grateful to be rescued, he refuses to believe the Doctor's claims that the TARDIS is a time machine, a belief he feels is strengthened by his discovery of a 20th century wristwatch in 1066 England. Turns out there are a lot of anachronisms in 1066, including but not limited to a gramophone, a toaster, an unscheduled Viking invasion, an atomic cannon, and a man disguised as a monk who has a TARDIS of his own and wants to change the course of the Battle of Hastings, preventing the Norman conquest.

The Thoughts: Lots of firsts in The Time Meddler: the first time we see the Doctor traveling without any of his original three companions, the first time sci-fi and historical elements were combined in the plot of the same story (commonplace from the Troughton era onward, of course, but back in the day, stories were either one or the other), and of course, with the introduction of the Monk, the first time we meet another Time Lord, renegade or otherwise. And the Monk makes a very interesting foil for the Doctor; most of the other renegades we eventually meet are downright ruthless, but the Monk has it in his head that he's actually helping the history of Earth by trying to change it. And so we see the Doctor, himself a renegade of sorts and obviously the original free spirit, take on a role we see him take more and more over the years, especially in the new series: the authoritarian preserver of The Rules. And, of course, William Hartnell is perfect in this regard.

But at the same time, we see that another facet of Hartnell's Doctor has emerged since the series beginning: he can still be gruff, and he does not suffer fools gladly (or at all), but he is also now totally the Grandfather. He's happy that Ian and Barbara have finally found a way home, but is clearly sad that they're gone, and considering how often he talked about abandoning them (or actually tried to do so!) in the early episodes, is quite a change. He's all warm and cuddly with Vicki, inviting to Steven... yeah, this is a changed Time Lord to be certain.

As for Vicki and Steven... yup, they're the Doctor's companions, alright, and that's pretty much all you can say. She's the spunky, intelligent, capable, cute girl who's also a good screamer when the scene calls for it, he's the guy who gets all the action scenes Hartnell can't handle, and they both ask "What do we do now, Doctor?" with the proper amount of conviction. They're likable enough, sure, but fairly generic. But I tend to think that of most of the early companions, anyway - for my money, the first one with any real personality is Jamie McCrimmon, and only once they start actually writing for him, rather than just giving him some of Ben Jackson's extra lines.


Finally, the best thing The Time Meddler has going for it? It's short! So many Hartnell stories (Troughton's, too, for that matter) just go on and on, padding just a few episodes' worth of story out to 6 or 8 or more installments, and I always found them so boring. In fact, I prefer the first Peter Cushing Dalek movie to the original Who story it's based on specifically because the movie is considerably shorter! But this story's 4 episode running time is just about perfect. It moves at just the right pace, and very little extraneous-to-the-story material makes it to the screen. I do loves me some economical storytelling in early Who... it's a shockingly rare occurrence.

And to think, for years I thought I didn't like William Hartnell's version of the Doctor. Turns out my real problem was with the script editor.

Overall: There's a lot to like in The Time Meddler. Not only is it historically important to the series, it's also a lot of fun and mercifully short for the era. I somehow missed this one in the PBS rotation a couple of times as a kid (admittedly because I'd always reach a point where I wished they'd just get to the three Troughton stories they had), but now it's my favorite Hartnell story of all. Trust me, it's the William Hartnell story for people who think they hate William Hartnell stories.

"With Love, From the Muppets."

Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Don Sahlin, and Jerry Juhl decorated these steampipes in a dressing room closet at 30 Rockefeller Plaza while killing time before an appearance on The Jack Paar Program in 1964. They've been forgotten about and rediscovered a couple of times through the years, but now they've been preserved and have been made a stop on the NBC Experience tour, thanks in part to Jimmy Fallon. The story on MetaFilter basically quotes from the Muppet wiki, but it links to YouTube clips of the moments mentioned in the article, so check them both out for the full story. (via Tegan)

Happy Father's Day

Here's Groucho Marx, from an episode of The Dick Cavett Show, expressing appropriate sentiments for the day in a song written by his friend Harry Ruby:



I actually have to work today, so Father's Day was celebrated early here at Trusty Plinko Stick World Headquarters - and it brought with it Chinese food and a Doctor Who action figure (the "Real Time" blue outfitted version of Colin Baker), so no matter when it occurred, it was a good day - but to the rest of the dads out there, enjoy!

Friday Favorites: Rerun Van Pelt

Even when you consider that little kids talking like grown-ups was always one of the hallmarks of Peanuts, it was still pretty ironic that the youngest regular cast member had some of the most adult problems of all. Rerun, as you may remember, was a frustrated artist (his kindergarten teacher wanted him to draw flowers; he wanted to be an underground cartoonist). And he was suspended for harassment when he wanted to run off to Paris with the little girl who sat next to him in class. And he also managed to get the one victory for Charlie Brown's baseball team overturned when it was revealed he bet on the game.

Of course, if you were to ask Rerun himself, he'd probably say his biggest problems were that his mom was a terrible bicycle driver, that he couldn't reach the basketball hoop, and, of course, that no one would buy him a dog.

But all that aside, Rerun led a pretty charmed life. He came up with some pretty creative solutions to his problems (my favorite: a dog on his mom's bicycle route kept taking his shoes, so he started bringing a bag full of shoes to throw at the dog), he somehow managed to bring out the nice side of Lucy (as nice as she can be, anyway), and he pretty much took over the strip most weeks in the last 5 years or so. But most of all, he proved to me that as shaky as Charles Schulz's linework may have gotten toward the end, his mind and sense of humor were sharp as ever.

Pretty Sketchy: The Dark (and Shiny) Knight

Batwoman as rendered by Celina Hernandez of Chibi Comics, an artist I discovered through the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast forums. One of the last scans I attempted with my scanner before it died, so the colors aren't as vibrant here as they are in real life, but you get the idea. I was really impressed by how she was able to convey the shininess of Ms. Kane's costume in marker.

You can see more of Celina's artwork here and here.

Easy on the Eyes: Alex Robinson's Sequential Mix Tape

So Alex Robinson's excellent graphic novel Tricked has a new cover (designed by Matt Kindt):

and I am blown away by the simple awesomeness of it. Not that there's anything wrong with Robinson's original cover, but damn, that'll look good on a shelf.

I'm sure a lot of you have read this already - and if you haven't, by all means, do - but if you don't have a copy of your own, maybe you should now consider fixing that particular oversight.

And maybe let me take a peek if you do. My copy of the original version is signed and has a lovely sketch of Caprice on the inside, and I have no intention of getting rid of it, but I'd sure like to see the new edition just the same.

Annie got Poochied!

In case you missed it (I know I did), here's the final Little Orphan Annie strip from Sunday, June 13th:

It can be argued that she's long past the point of relevance, but it's sad to see a character with the history, significance, and general pop culture gravitas of Annie get the Poochie treatment.



(And if you're looking for a little more background on this, Comics Alliance has you covered.)

R.I.P. Al Williamson

I woke up this morning to hear Al Williamson died. I had been a fan of the man's work for a while as a kid, without ever really knowing who he was, thanks to various EC and Flash Gordon reprints, but I first became aware of who he was thanks to seeing his inks over Curt Swan's pencils on DC Comics Presents #87, the Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-in issue that introduced the Superboy of Earth-Prime. He had a slightly heavier line than did Swan's usual collaborator, Murphy Anderson, but the difference was most noticeable on the women... they had a certain voluptuousness that you didn't often find in a Swan book. A little research showed this was something of a trend in Williamson's work. And seeing as I was maybe 12 or 13 when I made this discovery, well, how could I not become a fan?

So long, Mr. Williamson. I only wish I could have met you in person to shake your hand for being one of my all-time favorite illustrators of adventure, science-fiction, and yes, beautiful women.

(For a nice look back on Williamson from someone clearly inspired by the man, check out the first post from Athena Voltaire artist/co-creator Steve Bryant in this Comic Geek Speak forum thread.)

Not Leaving Well Enough Alone

Experimenting with Blogger template options. So if things look even more inconsistent than usual, that's why.

Better Late Than Never Reviews: 6/10/10 edition

Quickie reviews/reactions to recently read (though not always recently published) comics. Maybe some SPOILERS. So yeah, you know.


Young Allies #1
- With its mix of new and experienced young superheroes, this is sort of New Warriors Redux, but that's not a bad thing. Good cast (Firestar is always welcome, and it's nice to see Sean McKeever writing both Gravity and Nomad again), interesting villains (Ignored super-villain offspring band together as the Bastards of Evil? Genius.), and some terrific art from David Baldeon. Maybe doesn't get as big a start as it should, but it has potential, and I hope it finds enough of an audience to buy the time to reach that potential.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 - I'm glad we have a Legion book again, I'm glad it picks up the threads of Geoff Johns' Superman & the LSH and Legion of Three Worlds stories (two Johns works I really like a lot... who knew?) so effortlessly, and I'm especially glad to see both the return of Paul Levitz as Legion scribe and the arrival of Yildiray Cinar on the art. But, if I'm being honest, this didn't wow me out of the gate, and I really wanted to be. Expected to be, even. Lots of good ideas being set into motion, though, so I'm hopeful it'll build to something exciting, but not the immediate WOW I was looking for, and that let me down a bit.

GI Joe #155 1/2 - Continuing the theme of The Returning Writer, Larry Hama picks up here from the end of the original Marvel G.I. Joe book. And it certainly feels like the Marvel G.I. Joe book, but I've found in recent years that that series didn't age as well as I would have hoped. But I was only ever a casual fan of the comics, anyway - with G.I. Joe, you either liked the comics better than the cartoon or vice versa, and I definitely preferred the cartoon - so I'm probably going into this with the wrong mindset in the first place.

Mystery Society #1 - Steve Niles' new mini-series about a team of paranormal adventurers led by couple that ooze sex appeal and charm, very much a modern-day Nick and Nora Charles but without Asta the dog. And while the whole idea of paranormal adventure team thing seems sadly commonplace in our post-X-Files, post-Hellboy world, this has a fun vibe that I think will set it apart nicely. I'm interested to see where it goes, anyway. Fantastic art by Fiona Staples, too; I wish that they had used her cover (seen below) as the regular version, and saved that scratchy Ashley Wood image for the variant.

Brave and the Bold #34 - I occasionally take issue with J. Michael Straczynski's comics work, but what I've read of his Brave and the Bold has been fun, and this was no exception, providing exactly the sort of bizarre team-up shenanigans I was hoping for when I saw that this issue featured the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Doom Patrol. The resolution came a bit quickly, almost as if he knew he had to write this story in order to get to the one he maybe really wanted to do - next issue's teaming of The Legion of Substitute Heroes and the Inferior Five - but on the whole very enjoyable, and proof positive that you can still play in the DC Silver Age sandbox without needless deconstruction, recontextualization, and out-of-nowhere "adult" themes.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #16 - Don't know what else I can say besides that this is still the most fun, and possibly best-looking, book DC is currently putting out, and that the way Art and Franco are handling Freddy Freeman as Black Adam's increasingly reluctant protege a whole lot better (and in a way that makes far more sense) than anyone handled the whole Black Mary thing over in the regular DC Universe a couple years ago. So there, I guess I had some new praise after all. Get on this one, folks.

Attack of the Monstrology - Ape Entertainment anthology based around the theme of B-movie monsters. Not always as clever as it wants to be, or as on-topic as it should be, but there are some fun moments (the real reason behind city destroying kaiju battle, an increasingly ridiculous moon mission failure told as a series of newsreel entries) that make it worth a quick read.

Pretty Sketchy: The Seventh Doctor by Andy Jewett

Sylvester McCoy's incarnation of the Doctor, as drawn for me by Andy Jewett at Comic Geek Speak Super Show 2010. For someone who said he was unfamiliar with Doctor Who, I think Andy did a hell of a job. Go check out his site, and if you should see him at a con, pick up some of his comics, especially In This Corner and Sicko. He's a nice guy and worthy of your comic book dollars.

Cyclical.

So this one time DC decided that Batgirl was too kitschy to work well within the context of the grim world of Batman, so they had the Joker shoot her, strip her naked, and take pictures of her naked, crippled body with which he'd later torture Commissioner Gordon.

And Jason Todd, the second Robin, wasn't working out, so they set up a 1-900 number poll to see if he'd live or die. He got blowed up real good.

Green Arrow tossed aside his Robin Hood hat and trick arrows and started using lethal regular arrows, occasionally to kill when he deemed it necessary, when his girlfriend got kidnapped, tortured, and possibly raped (depending who you ask). Oh, and she lost her powers for a while as a result, too, though that never seemed as important to anyone.

Adam Strange? Found a way to stay on Rann, so he was no longer a man of two worlds, only to find he'd been lied to for years by his father-in-law. Then his wife dies, and the Rann is torn apart by war.

Etc.

All this is my way of reminding everyone that, ironic name aside, Brightest Day and it's associated goings on (and really, many of the major storytelling decisions DC has made since at least Identity Crisis) aren't anything we haven't seen before. I liked all of those things back then, though, at least at first.

Of course, I was 12, and I thought that going around proclaiming to everyone how adult you were actually was mature. Now, not so much.

(And with this, I'm hopefully done with dwelling on the four-color unpleasantness of the Super Friends for a while. I want to focus on, and especially read, comics that actually make me happy.)

My Five

Like Tegan, I missed my chance to participate in last week's Five for Friday at The Comics Reporter, which was Name Five Past or Present Comics Titles You Think Should Always Be Published, Just Because It Would Please You To See Them On The Stands (I was on vacation with the family... going for a bloggyverse participation merit badge just wasn't on the agenda at the time). Tegan posted her after-the-fact list, so I figured I'd post mine, too, since I wanted to play also, even if it isn't in the same sandbox.

1. The Incredible Hercules - There's something appealing about the heroic quest done as a smart, quirky buddy comedy.

2. Johnny Hiro - Probably my favorite comic book of the last decade, truth be told. Fred Chao's story of a young couple in love trying to make a better life for themselves in the midst of a world that routinely involves monster attacks, random Alton Brown cameos, an appearance in night court with the cast of Night Court, and hip hop artists that just come by to hang out is brilliant and unlike anything else out there (that's probably obvious).

3. Brave and the Bold / Marvel Team-Up - Basically, some sort of continuity-light superhero team-up book that takes the characters we love (known and obscure) and pairs them off to deal with wild situations that you're not going to see in the regular books. The most recent iterations of both of these titles mostly do / did this well. I want more.

4. Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam - Everything a Captain Marvel book needs to be: approachable for all ages without pandering down to anyone, full of adventure and heart, and most of all, fun. Keep Art Baltazar, Franco, and Mike Norton on this for as long as they want.

5. The Maze Agency - Monthly done-in-one fair play mysteries with fun, flirty leads in the Nick & Nora tradition. Give me back my favorite detective show-in-print, comics industry!

Honorable mentions:

Ruse - Holmesian mystery on a Victorian-styled world with just the right amounts of mystical and steampunk elements? Yes. Definitely. And get Mark Waid back in the driver's seat.

Leave it to Chance - Monsters, mysteries, and a spunky, young, dragon-owning heroine who drives a flying version of the car from Monopoly? Yeah, there's always room for that.

Thoughts? Or better yet, your own suggestions?

KC Carlson drops the science, son.

KC Carlson, a former DC Comics editor and current columnist for the Westfield Comics website (as well as husband of Comics Worth Reading's Joanna Draper Carlson), put into words exactly what I've been feeling about DC lately in his most recent Previews recommendations column for the Westfield site:

What, No DC Recommendations? Nope. I’m giving DC a big time-out this month for bad behavior – the publication of Justice League: Cry For Justice, Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal (especially #3), and Titans: Villains for Hire Special. These are three prime examples of the new DC, where death, maiming, children in peril (and ultimately murdered), queasy sexual undertones, sadistic torture, heroes who cold-bloodedly kill, on-screen use of hard drugs, and the general increase of torture-porn elements in its mainstream superhero titles (none of which have any kind of mature reader warnings) has caused this reviewer to stop pre-recommending DC Universe product before I see what it actually is. (That is, I no longer believe what is being fed to us in the DC solicitations.) The general darkness and hopelessness of most of the ongoing DC Universe books, including publishing a series of relentlessly grim comics under the banner of “Brightest Day” (ever hear of Truth in Advertising laws?) has now made me leery of the entire line. As a former DC editor, I am very familiar with the need for conflict to tell powerful and effective stories. However, this current trend of shock storytelling has finally crossed a line. It’s astounding to me that a company with DC’s rich history has now resorted to publishing the comic book equivalent of snuff films to regain lost market share and internet buzz.

Enough. DC – go stand in the corner until you’ve thought about what you’ve done.

And by the way, this is just me saying this – not anybody else at Westfield. So no retaliation against them. You know where I live. Westfield is still carrying the entire DC line. We’re not telling anybody not to buy their product. I’m still buying some of it. I just can’t recommend any of it in advance given the risk it might be horrible or outrageously offensive.


Pretty much the same sentiment expressed in Ambush Bug: Year None, but without the vitriol. That makes a big difference. And I think he's 100% correct. Were I certain sort of nerd, I'd say "So say we all" in my best Edward James Olmos impression (also, it'd probably help to have some sort of audio component to the post to actually get that across).

What I learned from (finally) reading Ambush Bug: Year None

Keith Giffen will still cash DC's checks, but he's definitely not happy with the overall storytelling direction the company has taken (and, based on what I've seen from the increasingly inaptly named "Brightest Day," continues to take). And while I agree with him on that point, the ire that filled this book made it hard to read at times. The various Ambush Bug mini-series and specials over the years always laughed the follies and foibles of DC's publishing history, but you could tell that was done out of love and appreciation, like a Friars' Club roast on paper. Year None, though, it just seemed like a long series of complaints. If the original Bug books inspired the "Hey, look at that! Silver Age DC Comics were insane!" outlook that inspired the comics blogosphere in the beginning, Year None is the "comics were better when I was a kid" sort of outlook that it has now.

(Not that there weren't enjoyable parts of the series, and this does nothing to make me dislike Ambush Bug as a character - hell, the two times I've been coerced into play fantasy baseball, I've called my team the Ambush Bugs - but on the whole, this one just felt... unpleasant.)

(Also, it's a damn shame they didn't just use the above Darwyn Cooke cover, originally planned for the abandoned issue 6, for issue 7 instead.)

Better Late Than Never Reviews - Post Vacation Lightning Round


Quicker than quick (stronger than strong, ready to fight for right against wrong) reactions to recently read (though not always recently published) comic bookery. Still fighting through the to-read pile, and I've been on vacation besides, so these'll be super short.

Atomic Robo Vol. 2: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War - While I liked that the first series jumped around in time to show the scope of Robo's life and adventures, having this one focus on a specific timeframe and set of characters grounded the story in a way that another string of episodic adventures wouldn't have. Plus, it's always fun to see Nazi robots get smashed.

Empowered Vol. 2 - Just as sexy, smart, and sweetly endearing as the first volume, with the added bonus of Emp having to go undercover as a hot librarian to help her team capture a fetish-based villain (hey, there's a reason I led off the adjective cavalcade with "sexy"). Yeah, maybe Empowered is a little bit smutty, but it's literate smut with a whole lot of heart.

Power Girl: A New Beginning - They should just rename this book The Amanda Connor Show. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray write good stories with Power Girl, injecting her with more personality and charm than pretty much anyone ever, but in the end, it's still pretty standard superhero fare. Connor's artwork amps it up to the next level, though - she can say in a single facial expression what some creators can't get across without pages of dialogue and exposition. Thanks to her, an otherwise good, if unspectacular, book is elevated to greatness.

Proof Book 1: Goatsucker - I know this has its fans, but honestly, to me it's just another Hellboy homage. Not that Atomic Robo, which I love, isn't, but at least Robo is funny. And about a robot. Proof's story takes itself a bit too seriously, and the scratchiness/muddiness of the art impedes the storytelling a bit too much. A good effort, but not my cuppa.

Aquaman: Time and Tide - An enjoyable retelling/retconning of Aquaman's origin (bits of it, anyway), but the out-of-sequence storytelling made for a disjointed read. Also, after reading the beginning of the Peter David Aquaman series made it seem like the story really began here, but this leaves me thinking it really, really begins in The Atlantis Chronicles. How far back does all this go? And finally, it could've used more Mera. Mera is awesome. But still, a fun read.