Somebody make this team-up happen for real.

"Yes, Davros, Daleks... hellllloooooo. You know, usually I enjoy our little chats, but I think this time I'll let my good friend Lucas here do most of the talking."

Merry Christmas from the Skaro Offices of Trusty Plinko Stick, Inc.

It is off-center and shoddily made, but the sentiment is sincere, and inspired in a roundabout way by this:

Merry Christmas, if that's your thing! To everyone else, enjoy your Chinese food.

That's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me.

For no other reason than because I feel like it, here's my favorite scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Scrooge starring Albert Finney, Alec Guinness, and at least in this scene, Anton Rodgers.

Sure, it's morbid and mean-spirited, but it's a real toe-tapper, and it gets re-staged in a more upbeat, holiday appropriate manner in the end, so there's that. Plus, Rodgers is just all kinds of awesome. He was one of the better #2s on The Prisoner (in the episode "The Schizoid Man"), and he was terrific as an older, Perry Mason-fixated lawyer falling in love with a young teacher in the British sitcom May to December.


Short, maybe SPOILERY reactions to recently read (though not necessarily recently published) comics. Haven't had a lot of time to type about the funny books since I started grad school, but I'm still finding the time to read 'em.

Batman & Robin #s 17 & 18 - Paul Cornell steps in to bridge the gap between Morrison and... well, I forget, but the person slated to take over after Morrison, and does an admirable job in the first two parts of this three part story. Dick-as-Batman, now in the groove and with a lot of the pressure off now that Bruce is back reminds me of the Batman I remember when I first started reading comics, serious but not beyond humor, and Damian is such an entertaining little shit as Robin that he's fun to read. Cornell handles them both well, and in The Absence creates a creeeeeepy villain who fits in well in the book that earlier gave us Professor Pyg and The Flamingo. Scott McDaniels' art is inconsistent at best, and sometimes just wrong for the story, though.

Batman Incorporated #1 - Wasn't planning on getting this, but it had good word of mouth, and now I think I'm onboard for the series for a while. Turns out I really, really missed International Man of Mystery Batman... who knew? I also hope Catwoman is kept as at least a semi-regular member of this book's cast, because she works quite well in the globe hopping crimefighter setting. Plus, Morrison gives her the best gag of the book, paid off in a climactic punchline I should've seen coming but didn't. And Yanick Paquette's artwork... yeah, that's the stuff. Detailed without looking slavishly copied from photo sources. I think I'm gonna dig this.

Batwoman #0 - Loved the hardcover collection of the Greg Rucka/J.H. Williams III stories from Detective Comics, so I figured I had to give this a shot (even without Rucka). And while I liked it, I wasn't thrilled that we're seeing and hearing everything about Kate Kane in this story from Bruce's perspective, so I'm still not sure how Williams handles Kate's voice. Gorgeous art, though, from both Williams and Amy Reeder, whose work I was only kinda-sorta familiar with before, and now I see I need to correct that shortcoming ASAP, because her stuff was outstanding here.

Stan Lee's The Traveler #1 - Coming off of the Lee/Paul Cornell Soldier Zero, I had high hopes for this one, written by Mark Waid, but it fell pretty flat for me, largely due to the dialog, and that really surprised me. Waid is usually great in that department, but what was supposed to sound zippy and clever just came off as too glib for my tastes. At first I thought he was trying to channel his inner Stan too much, but then I remembered that he wrote one of my favorite runs of Fantastic Four - and what's more Stan than FF? - and never had that problem. I don't know.

Tiny Titans / Little Archie #s 1 & 2 - So you know how a familiarity with the regular Teen Titans helps bring an additional depth to Tiny Titans? Familiarity with both Bob Bolling's Little Archie stories and the greater Archie world in general helps here, too. It's all very fun and very, very cute, but if you don't know who Pureheart the Powerful or Mad Doctor Doom (no, not that one) & Chester are, you might be scratching your head a little. The goodest, cleanest fun in funny books, though, no question about it. Read 'em and pass 'em on to some lucky kid in your life.

Green Lantern: Secret Origin TPB - I've been trying to give both Geoff Johns and Hal Jordan another chance, so I grabbed this from the local library, basically expecting Hal's origin story tweaked and retrofitted to fit in with the whole Blackest Night event I knew it lead into, and that's exactly what I got. I mean, it was decent, and points to Johns for granting Hal the self-awareness to know he was an egotistical asshat of a character, but still, it hits all the beats you'd expect it to, and once you swap out Legion for Atrocitus and daddy issues expressed through carelessness rather than daddy issues expressed through alcoholism, it isn't all that different from Emerald Dawn. So I enjoyed it well enough, sure, but it didn't really bring a whole lotta new to the party.

Green Hornet (Now Comics) Vol. 1 #s 1 & 2 - Thanks to the movie trailers and the giant 35 cent sale DCBS had on various Dynamite Comics GH series last month (in which I bought 20 comics for $7... hard to pass up a deal like that, and way cheaper than the 3 or 4 trades that would collect this stuff), I've had Hornet on the brain and decided to revisit the Now Comics series I read sporadically and enjoyed as a kid. Though I never read the first two issues, as they were expensive back issue gets once upon a time ago, so finding them now as dollar bin fodder was outstanding. And the story by Ron Fortier was great, too, setting up the legend of the Green Hornet legacy all Starman style, incorporating both the radio and TV iterations of the character and laying the groundwork for the third Hornet, Paul Reid, who would come a bit later in the issues I was familiar with. And points to Fortier for a few sneaky "we don't have the rights but, you know, *wink*" references to the Lone Ranger, the Reid family member who started the whole masked avenger thing back in the 1800s. Fun reading, well worth checking out if you find 'em, and #1 has a Jim Steranko cover to boot.

Sunday Morning Cartoons: Batman in "The Cool Cruel Christmas Caper"

From the 1968 Filmation Batman series, which enjoyed using the phrase "Cool Cruel" in relation to Mr. Freeze a whole lot. Enjoy!

Well, I'll be superamalgamated*: The Amalgam Age of Comics

So The Amalgam Age of Comics is one of my new favorite blogs. Based on the DC/Marvel Amalgam Comics events (the DC vs. Marvel mini, two different slates of one-shots featuring DC/Marvel mashup characters, and the DC/Marvel: All Access mini), blogger Paul C. mixes up Amalgamations we never saw, but should have, using that most ancient of softwares, The Shoppe of Photos. His creations range from the "so sensible why didn't the people actually making the comics think of this?" type:

to the truly sublime:

That one needs to be a thing I can own for real. You, over there, with the dimension hopper... go get me one of those!

He has also created some non-amalgamated fantasy team-ups that should also be real things, like this one:

(and while you're picking up the B'wana Ray Bill book, grab this one, too, okay?)

and this, which combines the worlds of both myself and my wife in a way I never thought possible.
So, truly, Paul is doing the Lord's work. Or at least the Mozz's work. Either way, that's a good thing.

*William Harper Littlejohn has a posse.

I'm certifiable certified!

I sent word of the new Darwyn Cooke designed Free Comic Book Day t-shirt featuring an appearance by Aquaman (and other DC characters) to Rob over at The Aquaman Shrine, and I have now been deemed an official member of F.O.A.M. (Friends of Aquaman) for life.

I'm more excited about this than I probably should be, but look, certificate and everything! That makes it official, chief. Plus, remember that I was a kid in the late 70s and 80s. Certificates mean you participated. Participating means Mom doesn't harp on you quite as often to "go outside" and "do things." The rewards of certificates are many and varied.

Thanks, Rob!

Hot. Rod. Linkin'

A few links for your Wednesday morn.

Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando on playing together, considering an album, and, in Dando's case, conspiracy theory and somehow not being dead (okay, I'm exaggerating the last part, but not by much).

Dave Ex Machina celebrates Christmas with two of the best things possible: Star Wars and Lego. He built similar scenes the past two years as well.

Marvel Super Heroes as dinosaurs. It has come to this. And about time, too!

The DC Women Kicking Ass blog kinda tears Paul Levitz a new one (deservedly so in this case, I think).

Five nerded up, sadly not real children's books.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: the first trailer

This is either going to be really awesome or really not.

Obviously I'm hoping for the former. I wonder if they'll be able to crib as much from "Shada" as Adams did in the book?

How's Who #9: Revenge of the Cybermen

TARDIS Crew: Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter).

The Plot: Having just not prevented the Daleks from ever being created (whoops), the Doctor, Harry, and Sarah find themselves on what is basically a space lighthouse established to keep passing spaceships from crashing into a recently discovered asteroid. Well, the asteroid is actually the remains of Voga, the fabled planet of gold, and the plague that has stricken down most of the space station crew is actually poison spread by Cybermats, the weird metal caterpillary pets of the Cybermen, who want Voga destroyed once and for all because gold is basically their Kryptonite (or, more accurately, their peanuts, assuming they have a peanut allergy in this particular metaphor). There's a guy on the station who seems to be selling out the humans to the Cybermen, but he's really working for the Vogans, or at least a faction of them, because there's a minor civil war erupting down there and... oh, there's just a lot of running around and people getting shot at like every other "base under siege" story. Basically, what's most important here is that Harry Sullivan is an imbecile.

The Thoughts: In The Discontinuity Guide, Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping have a bit of a field day with this one, pointing out the many, many logical fallacies and just plain ridiculous plot holes - the biggest one, of course, being that the Cybermen are easily taken out by just a handful of gold dust, but somehow they are able to walk around inside a planet made of pure gold without any problems whatsoever. But while deep in my heart I know they're right, and that this is a ridiculous, stupid story, I still love it, and I cannot view it objectively at all. this was the very first Doctor Who story I ever watched (rented the early VHS version of it from the video section at Dunnett's Appliance Store in Bangor, ME, when I was maybe 8 or 9), and I thought it was cool enough to give watching it regularly on PBS, where I quickly became hooked, and my Saturday dinner-time TV plans were settled for the next several years.

Watching it now on DVD, the first time I've seen it in many years, I can see the problems Cornell and co. point out, but I thought it was still too much fun for any of that to bother me. I just can't bring myself to be bothered by the Vogan make-up that muffles every spoken word, Cybermen decked out in accordions and vacuum clearner hoses, recycled NASA stock footage, or Harry Sullivan's ascotted incompetence.

And oh, Harry Sullivan. A relic of an older time on Doctor Who, a period when the Doctor was an older guy who couldn't run around all the time, and so they had to bring in a younger guy to handle the action scenes. Ian Chesterton, Steven Taylor, Ben Jackson, Jamie McCrimmon... Harry was supposed to be the heir to their tradition. But Jon Pertwee never needed anyone to handle his action (in fact, he was probably the most hands-on Doctor of all), and Baker, being even younger, didn't either. But I've read that the producers originally did consider some older actors at first, and invented Harry as a response, albeit one that became obsolete the second Baker arrived, scarf-in-hand. So poor old Surgeon-Lieutenant Sullivan was just kind of... there, a fact they even worked into the scripts; the Doctor and Sarah seem to like him well enough most of the time, but they make it very clear he's cramping their style. Harry Sullivan... the Mickey Smith of the 70s in many ways. Sorry there, old chap. Stiff upper lip and all.

(Incidentally, Ian Marter, the actor who played Harry, did play the part well, and he was a decent writer, to boot, penning a few of the series novelizations for Target Books and a Harry-centric novel from their short-lived "Companions of Doctor Who" series, and I was very sad to hear about his death in the 1980s, so don't think I'm speaking ill of the man himself.)

As for the Cybermen themselves, well... this isn't a high point for them. There's only 3 or 4 of them, they're written as wildly out of character based on everything we know from other stories (way too emotional), and they look silly as hell, especially with the forehead-mounted guns. The script addresses this a bit, letting us know that these are the Cybermen on the ropes, having been nearly obliterated in war several centuries prior, and are now scraping to get by and gain their titular revenge on humanity and the Vogans, but even amidst all that, they come off as cheap and weak here. It wouldn't be until Earthshock several years later that they would become the menace they once were back in the Troughton era.

But it's still a damn sight better than Attack of the Cybermen. Even if I had hated it this time around, Revenge would still have that going for it at the very least.

Overall: Revenge of the Cybermen has plenty of problems, and plot holes you could guide an elephant parade through, but if you can let your inner 9 year old take over your mind for four episodes, you'll probably think it's pretty fun.

One Final Question: Why is everything on Voga plastered with the Seal of Rassilon, symbol of the Time Lords' High Council? Someone has to have explained that in a spin-off novel by now, official or otherwise, right?

Pretty Sketchy: B'wana Beast!

This sketch, obviously depicting the last thing B'wana Beast's opponent of the moment sees before being knocked into unconsciousness, was drawn for me by Michael Schwartz, creator of the undersea action & adventure web strip Oceanverse. Mike also drew this Aquaman for me a while back (which still gets hits regularly thanks to links from Tegan and The Aquaman Shrine), so apparently I'm having him draw characters that the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon has made cool again*. That wasn't a conscious decision, but clearly it seems to be working, because he keeps knocking these out of the part. Thanks, Mike! And everyone else, go read Oceanverse!

*Well, I don't know if BB here was ever cool, but I think he's pretty awesome.

Intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism (the lost Craig Ferguson/Doctor Who cold open dance at last)

A little slow on the draw there, internet, but at least it finally came out. And as is typical for Craig Ferguson, there's an awful lot of heart and intelligence mixed into the silliness mix.

You need to see this: PULP's Common People by Jamie Hewlett

This made the rounds a few weeks ago, I think, but in case you missed it, here's PULP's "Common People," one of the greatest songs ever, as translated into comics by Tank Girl/Gorillaz creator Jamie Hewlett.

It's good that this exists. Go cast your eyes upon it. And here's the song itself if you need something for comparison's sake, or just want to listen along.

R.I.P. Irvin Kershner

Irvin Kershner had a long and varied career as a film and TV director, but let's be honest here, we all remember him for directing The Empire Strikes Back, which is generally the best-loved entry of the entire Star Wars saga. And while I do think it's the best of the bunch (though the original Star Wars is still my favorite... and yes, I think there is a distinction to be made there), it's important to me for another reason in that Empire was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater as a kid, going with my older sister, her boyfriend at the time, and our next door neighbor. And maybe more amazing still (to me, anyway), Kersh was the first movie director I ever knew by name - yes, before even George Lucas himself - thanks to the copious amounts of Topps ESB trading cards I accumulated as a kid.

I was already a Star Wars goner before seeing The Empire Strikes Back (despite having to wait another year or two to see the original when it finally came to HBO), but Kersh helped ensure it would become a lifelong thing, and for that I'm grateful.

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen had a long, distinguished career in the entertainment business, playing a variety of roles. Like most people my age, though, I'm mostly familiar with the second act of that career, in which his serious demeanor was put to effective use in comedy, thanks to David & Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrams in the movie Airplane!, the Police Squad! TV series, and its later spin-off Naked Gun films. I prefer early-funny Nielsen, with his deadpan reactions to (and eventual acceptance of) the zaniness going on around him, rather than participating in the mugging for the camera that would come in some of his later comedic material, but Nielsen was always a fun presence, and based on all I've heard, a classy guy, to boot. He palled around with Robby the Robot and married Dorothy Zbornak, but no one ever actually called him Shirley. Thanks for everything, Mr. Nielsen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the greatest single episodes in television history, and one that several longtime radio industry people have assured me is based on actual events, abridged for your busy lifestyles:

Happy Thanksgiving, America. Have a decent Thursday, rest of the world.

You know you want to hear Don Pardo say "And your host, Cooooooookie MonSTER!!!"

I'm generally annoyed by the attempts to replicate the success of the "Betty White hosts SNL" campaign, but I'm really thinking we need to make this one happen, America.

We should also be thankful they're not attempting this campaign with Elmo or Abby Cadabby instead.

So this one time a kid in a Carnage Halloween costume wandered onto the set of the Spider-Man musical during a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz.

That's what I assume happened, anyway. I mean, there's no way this is from a set of legitimate - though all equally bad - promotional photos for Vogue in a desperate (and failing) attempt to persuade people that the upcoming, disaster-plagued musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" isn't the unholy abomination of The Producers' "Springtime for Hitler" and Stayin' Alive's "Satan's Alley" made screamingly, horribly real, right?


Readin' (All Collected Editions Edition)

Some spoilers ahead. Read with caution.

Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia – I’m continuing to enjoy reading Matt Fraction’s run on Uncanny in trade. What I’m not enjoying is Marvel filling these books extraneous material to pump up the page counts and the prices. They did it with Manifest Destiny, they did it with this, and I can expect with Nation X and beyond, I’m sure. Anyway, Fraction’s story from Uncanny and Dark Avengers was good, and I legitimately like the idea of the X-Men getting so fed up with the “hated and feared” malarkey that they take their ball and go home to an entirely new country formed from the wreckage of Asteroid M. That is some mad, rad comic bookery right there. The X-Men: Legacy issues weren’t bad, but, you know… Gambit. All set there. And the rest was just filler. Send the filler off to its own book, Marvel, and just give me the story.

Superman: Brainiac I’m so very, very happy that after all these years, they’ve finally found a way to make the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Brainiac a threat again (though it looked like they had it back in the early 90s with the Panic in the Sky story, but they got away from that eventually, too), and even though the death of Jonathan Kent seemed forced in order to make the comics more Richard Donner-y, it did have a decent impact (especially the silent funeral sequence, with Bruce Wayne and Alfred standing in the back obscured by shadow). If anything, though, the story felt too short, like they were in a rush to get to the New Krypton stuff.

Showcase Presents: Bat Lash – Now this was fun. Pretty much all of the Bronze Age DC Western material I’ve read is Jonah Hex, which is great, but pretty depressing, especially when read in chunks. Bat Lash, on the other hand, is generally more fun and light-hearted, though writers Sergio Aragones and Denny O’Neill handle the serious stuff well, too. Lash is a study in contrasts – he’s a killer, but he can’t resist helping a kid or a pretty woman; he abhors violence but is really good at it; he never has much money (or when he does, not for long), but appreciates the finer things in life – and is a great character as a result, but there are a lot of other things to enjoy here, too. My favorites were the recurring Laurel & Hardy-esque undertakers and the fact that Aragones himself ends up cast as two different villains throughout the run. And then, of course, there’s the artwork of Nick Cardy, who draws shoot’ em up action and beautiful women equally well. And as one of the smaller Showcase volumes, you still get a pretty decent read at a cheaper price. Highly recommended.

Pretty Sketchy: Long live the Legion! And squiggly knees!

Mon-El, the Legionnaire who, despite being nearly killed by Superboy in his first appearance and then was condemned to 1,000 years in a non-corporeal hell with some of the worst criminals in the history of the universe while Clark utterly failed to help him, managed to remain surprisingly upbeat, as rendered in curly-cued glory on a sketch card by Fred Hembeck. Thanks, Fred!

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

Maybe you've already seen this music video featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson autotuned into sci-pop perfection, but if you have, I'm sure you could stand to watch it again, and if you haven't, you're in for a treat.

Some quick observations:

1. Bill Nye is the best hype man since Flava Flav.

2. I want to invite Neil deGrasse Tyson over for an astronomy lecture barbecue. What sort of beer do you like, Dr. Tyson?

3. To hell with Talk Like a Pirate Day... I move we add International Talk Like Carl Sagan Day to the nerd calendar! Milly-uns and milly-uns of us walking around in floppy hair and turtlenecks, talking about the cozmoss, and generally looking sagely at stuff. It would be glorious.

Finally, something with zombies in it that I can enjoy.

Too late for Halloween, sure, but hey, I'm behind on my Craig Ferguson, and this was fun, so I'm sharing it now anyway:

Puppets, dancing bikini zombies, catchy song, and a robot skeleton? Yeah, this has it all.

Uncanny Valley Squares?

Saw this today, the official Wii version of Hollywood Squares. The modern Tom Bergeron-hosted version, mind you, but still.

And yes, there is actual celebrity involvement in this, as Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor, Kathy Griffin, and Martin Mull have all licensed their likenesses (and, presumably, recorded dialog) for the game. I'm not sure who they put into the other five spots on the board, but Bergeron version or not, if the center square isn't Paul Lynde, I'm calling foul on the whole thing.

Here's a close up view of the cast. The likenesses get the point across, I suppose, but they all look a little off-model. Especially Jeffrey Tambor.

They did a pretty good job on Martin Mull, though. His mustache may even be more transfixing here than in real life. Look.






Anyway, weird as this whole exercise seems, I'm weirdly glad it exists and curious as hell to play it. I mean, come on... video game Martin Mull. If only they could add Fred Willard...

then we'd be one step closer to a Fernwood 2 Night video game, and that, my friends, would be the best of all possible worlds.

Come on, you know you'd play it. Or I'm sure you'd at least give "Rock Band: Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers" a shot.

I mean, really, you'd kind of have to, I'd think.

Friday Favorites: A little Wakka-Cha-Wakka with your web-slinging.

Okay, yeah, the 1970s Spider-Man TV series starring Nicholas Hammond had its issues, but friends, the theme song wasn't one of 'em':

Oh man, the bass line on that thing. And when the saxophone kicks in... damn, that's some good crime fighting tunesmithing right there. It's like the best possible offspring of music from a cop show and an adult film.

And whether the show was good or bad, I still have a lot of affection for it from watching the movies strung together from reruns as a kid. I really wish they'd release this on DVD one of these days.

Readin' - Supplemental

Action Comics #894 - Just go and buy this. Seriously. Right now. You'll be glad you did.


Some quick reactions to recently read comics. Maybe some SPOILERS, so read with caution.

Action Comics #s 890-893 - I was disappointed that Superman was going to be sent on walkabout and therefore unable to be used by Paul Cornell for this run, but now I'm actually kind of glad, because this storyline about Lex Luthor's world tour (of EVIL!) in search of Black Lantern rings might be the best thing DC has going right now. Brilliant, even Maggin-esque characterization of Lex, a great supporting cast (especially his surprising for so many reasons right-hand woman), and some truly interesting clashes with some of the DCU's best baddies (I thought it would be hard to top Mr. Mind, but Gorilla Grodd and his battle spoon takes the cake). And this Jimmy Olsen back-up running right now... very much looking forward to seeing where that goes, and I already hope they really do plan on giving it a proper ending somehow, somewhere when the co-features go bye bye in January.

Thor the Mighty Avenger #s 1-5 - As much of a mythology junkie as I was when I was a kid, I never really warmed up to Thor that much. I liked individual stories here and there, sure, especially during the Simonson run, but I never liked the series or the character enough to follow along regularly. This book, though, is fantastic, and significantly more charming that I was prepared for. Roger Langridge writes a Thor story that seems, you know, Vikingy enough for the traditionalists, but fills it with a lot more heart than I'm used to seeing in the character and his universe, too, and it's all the better for it. I'm loving his takes on other Marvel characters, too, particularly Giant-Man, Wasp, and Captain Britain. And as for the art of Chris Samnee, man... I know he has his share of fans now, but if this guy isn't positively HUGE in a few years time, than there's no justice in the comic book industry. He is a major, major talent. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man: Amazing tpb/digest - I've said it before, I'll say it again: Paul Tobin writes what is probably my favorite Spider-Man ever. Fun stories, compelling ongoing plotline, and a terrific supporting cast - it's everything you've always loved about Spider-Man, while still enough of its own thing to feel like it's not just revisiting well-tred territory. Also, Sophia "Chat" Sanduval, the mutant who can talk to animals, is my favorite Parker love-interest of all time. Gwen who? Mary Jane what now? Fun comics as you like 'em.

The grass doesn't grow on the places where we stop and stand... RIVERBOTTOM NIGHTMARE BAND!

Couldn't find the original on YouTube, sadly, but just hearing the song certainly scratched the itch it needed to.

I need to pick up the Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas DVD this year. It's been far too long.

Same Bat-Time, New Bat-Channel

So there's that new network co-owned by Discovery and Hasbro called The Hub, set up to replace Discovery Kids. Most of the programming is either learny-type edutainment of the sort that Discovery Kids aired (Tutenstein, Kenny the Shark), stuff based on Hasbro properties (GI Joe, Transformers, various board games incorporated into a game show called Family Game Night), or family friendly 80s reruns (Family Ties, Doogie Howser, Wonder Years) but none of that matters.

11:30 pm weeknights and, IIRC, rerunning 5:30 am? That's when you want to watch and/or DVR. Because that's when the one, true Batman is on.

If the Powers That Be are going to continue to stand in the way of this show coming out on DVD, then the least someone can do is make sure it's always on the air somewhere. Thank you, The Hub. You've just justified your entire existence to me.

Pretty Sketchy: Such a Sub.

It's Night Girl, one of the few members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes to actually have a pretty useful power (she was super strong in the dark... decades later, someone finally had the sense to team her up with Shadow Lass), as rendered, I think appropriately enough, in greyscale by Stephanie Gabborin of Angry Gnome Comics. Thanks, Stephanie!

Some "Hey, I'm Still Alive Over Here" Link Blogging

Because it never hurts to remind people, you know? Anyhoo...

(Batman) Beginning Again

I've recently had the opportunity to rewatch both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. My first time through both movies, they left me rather cold. Technically sound, certainly, and each movie had its share of scenes and performances I enjoyed - for instance, I can't imagine a better Jim Gordon than Gary Oldman, and while I've never been a big Joker fan, let's face it, Heath Ledger pretty much redefined that character forever - but I just didn't see The Big Deal. And for A Certain Type of Fan (a very large, vocal number of the Certain Type of Fan Brigade, actually), these movies were very much the Biggest of Big Deals. The Christopher Nolan Bat-movies were more than just Really Good Batman Movies, they claimed, but masterpieces of modern filmmaking, the sort of films that revolutionized the art of cinema, cured cancer, ended hunger, and kicked a whole lot of ass.

Those are some lofty expectations for any movies to live up to, especially when you don't see them on DVD. See, Batman Begins was released the day before my son was born, and seeing as the wife was so very, very pregnant at the time, we weren't really willing to risk the trip to the theater in case labor kicked in partway through the movie (hey, those tickets are expensive). And The Dark Knight, well, we found the time to get to the movies maybe twice that summer, neither of those times at a point when the movie was actually playing, and because of that, it just never became a priority. So both movies had to wait until several months later when the Netflix stork left the red envelope in our mailbox. And by that time, of course, the movies had so much hype surrounding them that there's no way they could hope to live up to it.

I suppose I could've ignored the hype, but for one, I'm not really wired that way, and also, I think even the Amish knew about all the hubbub surrounding these movies, so there was no real way of escaping it. And hype leads to expectations, and expectations are where everything falls apart. A friend of mine refuses to listen to recommendations of any kind for just this reason. He wants to approach everything fresh, and the second someone recommends something, he expects too much, and the product is inevitably ruined. I should really take a page from his book, because in so many cases - these movies being big ones - the product doesn't live up to the expectation.

So cut to a few years later, the hype as receded to manageable levels, and I'm willing to get over my expectations (and anger at Nerd-dom Collected for ruining the films for me before I could even see them) and give them another shot. And this time around, I had to admit, they were pretty damn good. The film genre wasn't changed forever, cancer certainly wasn't cured, but they were, indeed, great Batman movies. Not perfect, they still had their share of problems. The Dark Knight could use two or three fewer subplots, I think, and while I see why they pushed Two-Face in the film, I still wish they'd have held him off for movie #3. Bale's Batman voice is, of course, too silly to take seriously. But mostly, I don't like that they seem to have forgotten the detective aspect of the character. They nailed the whole urban ninja thing, but I really dislike that the bulk of the intellectual heavy lifting is handled by Lucius Fox and Alfred. All kinds of heroes kick ass, but one of the big things that separates Batman from, say, Wolverine, is that detective skill. Maybe this will play a bigger role in the third movie, since we're still very much seeing a Batman in training.

I'm looking forward to seeing that third movie now. A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to say that. But in the end, I still prefer a Batman of another variety.

Now we are six. The number, not Blossom's best friend. That's an important distinction.

Trusty Plinko Stick turns six blog years old today (a blog year is like a regular year, but snarkier). How many is six?

If you've been reading along for any length of time - even (and especially) through the current grad school-inspired low content mode - I thank you sincerely and wholeheartedly.


Most of the reading I've been doing lately is on the topic of library and/or information science, but you probably don't want to hear about that. Here are short reactions to a few comics I've been able to fit in lately, though. Maybe some SPOILERS.

Batgirl 14 - I'm a sucker for "superheroes hanging out" stories, especially when they deal with something really bizarre. Batgirl and Supergirl wandering around the Gotham University campus hunting 24 Draculas who've stepped straight out of a movie screen? Yeah, that'll do nicely. Lots of great dialogue here. Maybe I need to check this out more often. It and Red Robin were certain a lot more fun than I ever would've thought.

Batman & Robin Vol. 1: Batman Reborn - Typically I've found that Grant Morrison Batman collections start off strong, but when the artist drawing the first arc leaves, the quality of the story drops off dramatically since the second artist can't keep up as well as the first, who is usually one of Morrison's better collaborators, anyway. But when Frank Quitely (arguably Morrison's best partner in story) gives way to Philip Tan, the drop isn't as hard to take this time. I don't think the Red Hood/Scarlet/Flamingo story is as good as the initial Dr. Pyg three-parter, but the transition flows well enough. I really enjoy reading Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin, enough so that I'm kind of sad Bruce Wayne is back in the current issues.

All Star Superman Vols. 1 & 2 - Finally picked up the trades and re-read the entire run in about two sittings. Yeah, it all still holds up as some of the best Superman storytelling ever. Reading it all in succession, though, does show that there's a bit of a drop in story quality as the first half of the second volume begins, with the Bizarro two-parter and the story with the other Kryptonians. Those are still decent, but coming between the two best issues of the series, Superman's return to Smallville in #6 and the "day in the life / last will and testament" story in #10, well, those are hard to match, qualitywise. If you haven't read All Star Superman yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

F**k you, box - I generally don't like cats or cat-related humor, but this mini-comic by Katie Cook is pretty damn funny. This cat is surly, malicious, and incredibly profane. So, you know, typical cat. And to see it all coming out of the cutest of cute drawings makes it funnier still. Check this out if you get the chance.

Thanks, But No Thanks: Hostess Glo-Balls

While this Hal Jordan product tie-in is sickly appropriate, it leads me to conclude that the people at Hostess either didn't think this through enough, or else they knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

"Dalektable" t-shirt from Ript Apparel

Want this design on a t-shirt? Well, as I type this (10:41 pm EST on Thursday, Sept. 16th, 2010), you still have a little over two hours to order one of your own over at Ript Apparel's site. They only offer they're designs for 24 hours, apparently. So, you know, get cracking.

Pretty Sketchy: I got Kitty Pryde (no Nightcrawler yet, though)*

Kitty Pryde sketch card by True Story Swear to God's Tom Beland. I requested this from him via Facebook, where he frequently posts card-sized and full-sized sketches for sale, as well as taking requests. Check 'em out, they're all great stuff. For more on Tom and TSSTG, check out his site, and also check out this illustration he did for me inside the first TSSTG collection.

*NOTE TO TOM: The title is me paraphrasing lyrics from a Weezer song. You didn't forget to send me a Nightcrawler sketch!

It's really important that she remembers where she parked the plane.

Finally got around to watching the Wonder Woman animated movie the other night. I remember reading a lot of complaints about it when it first came out, and apparently it has been one of the lower sellers in the line ever since it debuted, leading to the decision to pretty much only focus on Batman or Superman-related releases. I don't really understand any of that, though, because I thought it was really good, ranking right up there near the two Justice League movies (New Frontier and Crisis on Two Earths), and a hell of a lot better than Green Lantern, Superman: Doomsday, and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, all of which bored the hell out of me. Still haven't seen the two Batman ones yet, Gotham Knight or Under the Red Hood, so I don't know how those stack up.

My very favorite part of Wonder Woman? They make no attempt whatsoever to explain the invisible jet.

It just shows up out of nowhere when it's time to fly Diana and Steve Trevor back to the U.S. from Themyscira. Now, they could have tried to come up with some magical and/or divine explanation - lord knows they have in the comics before - but honestly, why bother? It's a premise that's just as well-known and accepted as her magic lasso or her bracelets, so rather than bog everything down with the hows and whys of it, the writers just take the plane as given and roll with it. It's goofy, sure - not as goofy as the flying car that punch a guy, but still pretty goofy - but trying to explain or even justify it will just call attention to it and make everything worse. Magic invisible plane - that's all you need to know.

Not that that's the only thing I enjoyed - decent animation, great voice casting (if we can't get Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan, Steve Trevor has to be the next best thing), and a story that makes use of the PG-13 rating and doesn't shy away from the Amazons' status as powerful, capable warriors. And bonus points for a quick explanation as to why Diana's outfit is all stars & stripes. If you haven't seen it and like Wonder Woman even just a little bit, check it out.

Blog business: why there is less, but will still be more (just less more).

What does this shmoe...

have in common with these folks?

Well, it's what I will have in common, eventually. I've started grad school to get my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. I'm very, very happy to finally get this underway, as it's been a major life goal of mine for some time now. But, of course, balancing grad school, even part time, with family stuff and a full-time job means that there's a lot less time to be spent on things like this here blog.

Trusty Plinko Stick isn't going anywhere, it just means posting will be less frequent. Of course, posting has been less frequent for a while now, so maybe on your end things won't look any different at all. But if it does, that's why.