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.