Stop me if you've heard this one before... so there's this planet Krypton, right?

More DC title shake-up hoo-ha hit the intermanet while I was engrossed in my Thanksgiving Break Wii Marathon... Superman will be moving out of Action Comics (certainly temporarily, I'm sure), as will the creative team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. In the meantime, Johns and Frank will be doing a six-issue mini-series called Superman: Secret Origin, which will iron out the kinks of Superman's backstory post Identity/Infinite/Final Crisis and be considered the "definitive" Superman origin until, of course, it's not anymore.

As Barenaked Ladies once sang, It's All Been Done Before. Woo hoo hoo.

And yes, I realize that they're not going to be changing the basics, just fiddling with the in-between details the way comic book creators are wont to do from time to time, I still have to wonder how many more times you can strip mine that particular story - easily the most recognizable superhero origin ever, and probably more famous than the story Siegel and Shuster clearly borrowed from, that of Moses - without boring everyone. And I say this as the sort of person that's actually glad to see them restoring Superboy to the Legion of Super-Heroes... I don't need a whole story about it, just say "okay, that happened again, let's move on."

Come next year, I'll have seen Superman's origin officially "redefined" three times in my lifetime - Man of Steel, Birthright, and this thing. And considering the original version of the story went largely untouched from 1938 to 1986, that seems a bit much to me. Even if you don't read comic books, you know this story, or at least the basics. Hell, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely were able to sum it up in 8 words and 4 panels:

Do you really need any more than that?

This, more than anything, is what's bugging me about corporate comics these days. Stop dwelling on the old and give me something new.

Pretty Sketchy: Scuba Frog

Scuba Frog, Agent of T.O.A.D., by Ben Wiede. Scuba Frog appears as a back-up in Zack Kruse's book The Contingent, and this sketch was a DCBS incentive to try out the first issue.

Some things I'm thankful for.

The wife and the kiddo.

The rest of my family and friends.

Safe, reliable childcare.

A roof over my head and food on the table.

The kiddo's pre-school experience, which has led him to just about explode with awesomeness quicker and more completely than I could have ever dreamed.

30 Rock.

Spike's Junkyard Dogs.

Mario Kart Wii.

Late 80s / Early 90s Boston-area alt-rock.

Restaurants that serve breakfast all day.

Lukewarm Chinese take-out.



Those damned funnybooks.

...I could go on all day, but there's pie to be eaten. Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Stuff and nonsense on the comics internet

So all the big comic book news last week? I can't be bothered to care that much.

Sure, I'm bummed that DC is canceling my favorite super-hero book, but considering that the first two and a half years or so were pretty excellent, and that I have all those in convenient trade paperbacks that I can take off the shelf and re-read any time I like, well, I can't get too worked up about it. For one thing, as others have pointed out, it lasted longer than some other great series have through the years, so I'm thankful I got that much good story out of it. And I guess I'd rather have it go out sort of still on top (in my head, anyway), then see it begin the long descent into mediocre shelf-filler that so many of these things inevitably become. So there's that.

And the rest of the DC kills/reshuffles don't really have much effect on me, either, since I don't read any of those books in the first place. Well, Legion of Super-Heroes, but like the Legion ever really disappears for good, and it's already been more or less confirmed that they'll be part of the new Adventure Comics. So there's that. At this point, my only real complaint with The Powers That Be at DC is that they steadfastly refuse to give me the Sugar & Spike collections I so richly deserve. And yeah, dick move, but hardly reason to call for Dan DiDio's head upon a pike.

(I do have to wonder, though, how Joe Quesada feels about all the usual fan entitlement outrage being directed at DiDio and therefore, for the moment, away from him. Relieved? Jealous?)

And as for the steady march to $3.99 comic books... well, I've been on the way to reading my Marvel and DC books in trade only for a while now. Four dollar funny books will be the thing that officially pushes me that direction across the board. I don't know a lot about business, but even I know four clams for 5-15 minutes of reading is a crap return on investment.

And yes, I do realize that has floppy prices increase, so will the prices of the inevitable trade paperback and/or hardcover collections, due to both general inflation and the need to recoup losses from the drop in periodical sales as more people switch formats. But even so, a collected Marvel or DC story gives you more bang for the buck than the monthlies these days, so that's my format of choice.

All that being said, I can still see buying periodical comics from the smaller publishers, though. Indy books have always been pricier, but thanks to economies of scale and all that, their production costs are going to be higher, and they need to charge a little more to make any of that money back. But so long as the product is good, I don't mind paying a little extra for the little guys, the same way I don't mind paying a buck or two more for a CD at a local record store or for tomatoes from a farmer's market.

Mmm... farmer's market tomatoes.

Even Lazier Sunday YouTube Blogging: Prime Time TV, Sesame Street style

Has it really been a week since I posted anything? Yikes. Sorry, America. Well here's something. It's just another YouTube video, but still... something.

30 Rocks:

Law & Order: Special Letters Unit (chung chung!)

Maybe the voices aren't spot on, but they certainly nail the look and feel! Still more proof that the best jokes on Sesame Street are intended for the parents.

Lazy Sunday YouTube Blogging: Docteur Qui

Bill Bailey ponders the Doctor Who theme and Belgian jazz:

The Dig List - The Quarter Box Edition

I bought some books from a quarter bin sale at a local shop last week, and by gum, you're gonna read what I thought about 'em. You know, if you like.

Claw the Unconquered #1 - I've never been a big fan of barbarian/sword & sorcery comics, since far too many of them read like someone's high school D&D campaign. And storywise, this isn't too different from any of those. The art though... wow, Ernie Chua/Chan just drew the living hell out of this. Dark, moody, a little bit of sex, and a little bit of gore... handled with equally gorgeous aplomb. I may pick up the rest of the series for art alone.

Star Brand #1 - This is, to my knowledge, the first of Marvel's New Universe books that I've ever read. And... I really didn't miss much. Maybe it gets better, but I liked "average shmoe becomes kinda/sorta Green Lantern" better back when it was called Nova. Fantastic artwork by John Romita, Jr., though, in the final years before his figures all became super-blocky.

Marvel Age Annual #3 - Okay, I didn't really need coming attractions for Marvel's 1987/1988 comics, but I've always had a soft spot for the Marvel Age Annuals and the 1-2 page preview strips the various creative teams would do for their books. This one had a couple of really fun ones, including a Hulk/X-Factor story summary drawn by Todd McFarlane and a quick review of the previous year's Thor storylines as told to Asgardian children by Volstagg in the form of an inappropriate bedtime story. Plus, the whole thing is presented in a special Fred Hembeck Show framing sequence (spoiler alert: Wolvering sings). Worth a quarter for the nostalgia factor alone.

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #1 - Spidey, Hulk, and Iron Man, hanging out together for no real reason other than that they all had movies in the past 2 years and Marvel wanted to capitalize, get hoodwinked into dogsitting for Hercules, and the dogs end up being Cerberus and Orthus, guard dogs of the Underworld. Sitcommy antics ensue. Probably not everyone's cuppa, being sort of like The Monkees with super powers, but I really enjoyed it. After all the darkness in superhero comics the past few years, it's refreshing to read something so unashamedly goofy with these characters. Paul Tobin continues to do no wrong in my eyes.

Criminal Macabre: Feat of Clay - Horror comics aren't usually my thing, but there's enough dark - often downright twisted - humor in here to keep things interesting, and I enjoy that it's as much a P.I. story as a scary one. Still a little more gruesome than I tend to prefer, but I could be persuaded to check out more.

Battle Classics #1 - Johnny Cloud, The Haunted Tank, Sgt. Rock, and Mlle. Marie all team up in a story written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Joe Kubert. So why the hell is this so painfully boring? At least the art's nice, I guess.

Love and Rockets #s 29 & 30 - Even though I already have the giant Locas book, like I'm gonna pass up classic L&R for a quarter apiece? As I expected, I liked the Jaime stories in these issues more than the Beto ones. Checking in on Maggie, Hopey, and their assorted hangers-on is always like dropping in on a long-running TV drama that you always enjoy, even if you don't always follow it closely. Familiar, but still interesting. The Palomar stuff, though... while I certainly enjoy Beto's work from a technical standpoint, his stories are usually much too grim for me.

Alas, poor Jaime.

Among other bits of wisdom information we learn in this interview with DC executive editor Dan DiDio comes the news that Blue Beetle, my favorite mainline DC Universe title of the past few years, is getting the ax.

Yes, just days before the character is set to make his animated debut on Cartoon Network's new Batman: The Brave and the Bold series.

I get that sales numbers are way, way, way down past the point of probably no return, but still, seems like shit timing to me.

Oh well. It was a great book while it lasted - better under John Rogers than anyone else, but still - and I'll be sad to see it go, but with the end of this and Legion of Super-Heroes (killed during the team's 50th anniversary year, I remind you), that about wraps it up for the remaining DC monthly books I buy. So I suppose I could thank them for hastening me into the land of Waiting for the Trade, though I doubt I will.

I just hope the current creative team knew they'd be out of a job before they read the interview. Because if not... awkward.

Finally, something about pirates that's actually kinda cool.

I've never understood the fanatical infatuation people have had for all things piratey the past few years (I mean, yeah, I like a good "naval battles & swordfights" movie as much as the next guy, but Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't really good enough to spawn an entire annoying lifestyle choice, was it?), but this animated short is pretty awesome... or I suppose that'd be l'awesome, seeing as this is from France.

(Reasonably safe for work, but there's some violence, and the lady pirate, though covered throughout, does tend to jiggle, so judge accordingly.)

Didja catch the Wilhelm scream in there?

Sadly, the single greatest free-form Lego creation I have made in over 32 years of life.

It's not much, but I'm proud of it.

Of course, now that Liam seems to be obsessed with Lego, I suppose I have no choice but to get better now, huh?

Happy Veterans Day

If you have served - or currently serve - in the military, thank you.

Pretty Sketchy - Supergirl by Alex Robinson

Haven't done a Pretty Sketchy post in awhile, mostly because I had to go back and fix the images on all of the old ones. But I finally found the chance to go back and make with the maintenance, so now we can press ahead.

Anyway, I may have actually posted this here at some point in the distant past, but I'm way too lazy to look, and it's not like it would've been an official part of this series, anyway. So, risk of repetition be damned, this is Supergirl by Alex "Box Office Posion, Tricked, Too Cool To Be Forgotten" Robinson, and was acquired as a "thank you" premium for joining the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund while Alex and his wife were at the CBLDF table at the first and only Wizard World Boston show back in '05. He was taking requests, but had a few others that he'd finished in advance, and this one really caught my eye. It's just so atypical of the usual depictions of Supergirl you see, and I really dug that. Still do, in fact.

The Dig List - 11/9/08

You know the drill - brief(ish) reactions to stuff I've read and at least marginally enjoyed lately.

Madame Mirage #s 1-6 - I appreciate how Top Cow continues to turn itself around and actually include some story with their cheesecake. A quick glance of the artwork here might lead you to believe it's yet another Boob War (tm David Campbell) book, but what you really get is a tale of revenge and redemption a la Kill Bill with superpowers. The story by Batman: The Animated Series producer Paul Dini doesn't tread much new ground, and I predicted the title character's true identity pretty early on, but there's a swerve in there I didn't see, so the "how" of the situation sorta made up for any predictability in the "who" and "why." And let's be honest, it's the art of Kenneth Rocafort that's the real star here. The man can draw himself some purty pictures, that's for sure (though his storytelling could use a bit more work). Overall, I might not have been blown away by the story in Madame Mirage, but it was enjoyable enough, especially considering I paid about 50 cents an issue, so I definitely got my money's worth. And as "turning the writer's wife into a superhero" stories go, this is probably one of the better ones you'll read.

Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty and Half a Life - I've been racking my brain to say something about this that everyone hasn't already, and I come up blank. It's honestly as good as everyone as said, and even just two storylines in, I think it's a damn shame this series didn't last longer, since the idea of a doing a 10 p.m. police drama series in comic book form, set in the Batman mythos, was a brilliant idea. But what I considered one of the book's greatest strengths - the limited interactions with the Bat himself, keeping him a presence but never going so far as to make him a full character - was probably the major drawback for people who wanted more Batman in it. Too bad, because if you like really well-written cop shows and are at least partially amenable to the idea of Batman, there's a lot here to enjoy.

Grant Morrison's Doctor Who #1 - Much as I love watching Doctor Who on television, I've never really warmed up to the comics. The bad ones that I've read just seemed hastily scrapped together for a buck, and the (few) good ones I've read don't seem to really matter one way or another, all sort of ending on a "well, that happened" kind of note. These 6th and 7th Doctor stories by His Almighty Morrisonness fall in that latter category... good, but inessential. But on the plus side, the 6th Doctor story features Frobisher, the shape-shifting companion who mostly spends his time as a penguin, who I've always had an odd fondness for (mostly because of the penguin thing), and Peri is a lot more tolerable when you don't have to listen to the ever-shifting accent of Nicola Bryant. The most Morrison-y story here is the 7th Doctor story, featuring his interactions with a race based in the bloodstream of a sick animal. Short, but interesting. So yeah, by Doctor Who comic standards, these are pretty top notch, but that's sadly not a lot to brag about.

The Age of the Sentry #2 - So here's the thing: the Sentry may very well be my least favorite Marvel character ever. He's a Superman pastiche crippled by his own fears and dementias that he's almost unable to do anything, and proof of why a Supermanesque character can't work well within the confines of the (regular) Marvel Universe. Alright. I get it. Even as the endgame of World War Hulk, I just can't ever buy into him. But use the Sentry as the main character in Silver Age Superman homage/parody stories, though, and it's a whole new ballgame. The Age of the Sentry is a fantastic book, easily the most fun comic Marvel has put out since maybe Nextwave, and I sincerely hope Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin are made kings of something - anything - as a result. I mean, c'mon... a super-powered Russian bear in a tutu! Truman Capote writing for the Daily Bugle! Heroes being standoffish to each other! Honestly, humanity, what's not to love?

Sunday Morning YouTubing - Catchy Songs My Son is Obsessed With

A little something upbeat to kick off your Sunday. First, here's "Friends of P." by the Rentals:

Next, here's a video from a live radio station performance of "Fort Hood" by Mike Doughty. The actual music video is available on YouTube, too, but can't be embedded. So settle for this, and if your curious, go check out the official version.

And no, we're not related. Always kinda wish we were, though... I bet he'd be interesting to talk to at Thanksgiving. But the man pronounces his name "Doe-tee," not "Dow-tee" like my family does. Must be sad for him, walking through his whole life mispronouncing his own name like that.

It's... wait, let me check... late afternoon in America.

I woke up this morning feeling optimistic about my country. It was a cautious optimism - guarded, even - but optimism all the same. After 8 years of daily, bile-driven cynicism, I really wasn't used to that, but it felt nice.

Now, I'm not one of those people who think that the fortunes of the U.S. of A. are going to suddenly turn on a dime and it'll be all puppy dogs, rainbows, and unlimited pudding for the foreseeable future. I mean, honestly, now is when the hard part begins. A change was needed, desperately at that, and come January, I sincerely hope Mr. Obama and his staff hit the ground running, because it's going to take a whole hell of a lot of work to achieve even sporadic pudding, folks.

But congratulations on your victory, Barack Obama. Bask in the afterglow of the moment, but quickly turn your gaze to maybe bringing about even a tenth of the Awesome you promised, okay?

And to John McCain... you know, dude, I really liked the you of 8 years ago. If that guy showed up for this election, I'd have probably voted for him. Lord knows I wanted to back then. But still, congratulations on your attempt, sir, thank you for your service to our country both in the military and in Congress, and enjoy whatever comes next.


And now a message from Deee-Lite all the way from 1992 via the magic of time travel (and YouTube):

I'm not gonna tell you who or what I think you should vote for (unless you live in California, in which case you really need to vote No on Proposition 8, because that shit's just hateful), but just make sure you get out to the polls Tuesday, okay? Don't let Lady Miss Kier from 16 years ago down, okay?

(And Florida, if you mess this one up again - and I don't mean by voting for the wrong candidate, I mean truly misunderstanding the basic mechanics of voting itself - I'm gonna drive down there, saw you off at the border like Bugs Bunny did that time, and kick your whole state off to sea. Just see if I don't!)