Friday, November 20, 2015

The Greatest Superman Story Ever Told!

Dear Ones, I will be taking a staycation next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, so I'll see you again on Monday, November 30th.  But fret not, because the comic we're looking at today will fill your little bellies all the way through next week and then some.  I give you:

And yes, it's every bit as awesome as the cover would lead you to believe.

It's yet another imaginary tale, but that's perfectly okay when the story is this awesome.  Superman and Lois get married and the greatness ensues:

Am I the only one thinking Seth MacFarlane read this comic when he came up with Stewie Griffin?

First, the expression on Superman's face is hilarious.

Second... I could read about this kid complaining all day.

And then this happens:

Love this kid.  Love him.

Seriously, I would buy two copies a month if this kid got his own series.

Actually, Lois... it's kind of a big deal that Superman almost destroyed the Earth.  He should probably remember that if he's ever in a similar situation.  I appreciate that you're trying to be supportive, but let's not spare Superman's feelings at the expense of the entire planet, what say?

Anyway, the baby goes on a crime spree and Superman resolves the issue the only way that a loving, caring father could:

Yes... by giving his only son a super-lobotomy.

Super-Baby is going in to the CMNS Character Hall of Fame (tm!) for sure.

Have a great week ahead, folks!  I'll miss ya, but we'll have more comic book shenanigans on November 30th!  See you then!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Clark Kent is Dead Dead Dead! POW POW POW!

Well, I guess we'll stop talking about Jason Todd.  The next issue after today's post was the "A Death in the Family" storyline, which was the death of Jason Todd.  So, to review: Jason gets rebooted in Crisis on Infinite Earths as a tough hooligan, he then reverts to a "gee whillikers" sidekick straight out of the 1940's, then a swing in the completely opposite direction where he's basically the Punisher in short green pants, then killed off.  What a mess.  Anyway, he's dead.  Until Superboy Prime literally punches him back into existence, something I refuse to dignify with space in this blog.

Back to Superman, starting with issue #210:

That had to be cathartic for Superman.  It certainly was for me.

The next issue had a very ballsy story about crooked art schools:

Is there something wrong with me that I don't think the art is all that bad?  I mean, it's a story of an ape with super powers so maybe that's coloring my view.

Anyway, more to the point:

Considering how many times I've seen "draw a turtle or a pirate" inside comic covers over the years, that was a pretty bold plotline.  I don't know if those companies advertised in comics after this story (or, more likely, had already stopped), but even if the companies that advertised in comics were legit (and I have no reason to think they weren't), I can't imagine any art schools would have been excited with DC.

Here's some Fun with Out of Context Dialogue (tm!) from Superman #220, courtesy of contributor Robert Gillis:

Dear Penthouse Forum, I never thought this would happen to me...

Moving on to....

Well, trying to perform for three women at once is a lot to ask of any man.

Hey, I was talking about performing heroic acts, I don't know where your filthy little mind went.

This is the club he couldn't get into:

First?  "We've decided to admit our first male member" is hilarious.  That's classic Fun with Out of Context Dialogue (tm!) right there.

Second, this group is awful.  They have a stupid name, their individual names are even worse (I've forgotten them already) and their powers are just recycled Superman powers.  Yeah, there's a reason for that, but I lost interest from the beginning.

Until I saw that Superman's initiation test was this:

Yeah!  A little payback for all that Unnecessary Animal Abuse (tm!) we've seen from Superman over the years!  Awesome!

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Does a Badass Really Wear Short Pants and Pointy Green Shoes?

So, I'm reading through the Jason Todd era of Batman.  For several issues, the approach seemed to be minimizing Robin's involvement.  For example, during the mulit-issue "Ten Nights of the Beast" storyline, Robin did naught but take down one suicidal bomber lackey.  And those issues, written by Jim Starlin, were actually pretty decent.

But you know how sometimes you find yourself doing something you know you shouldn't because you get away from the situation just long enough to convince yourself it wasn't as bad as you thought?  That's what happens here.  A little Jason Todd was an okay thing, but as human beings go, we just can't help but test the waters and see if we can't make things work if we just give it another go.

And there's nothing wrong with that kind of determination.  It's how we landed on the moon and perfected the seedless watermelon.  But there comes a time where we should let go of this notion of "never give up."  If I never gave up on some of my less-viable options, my life would not be nearly what is now.  I'd still be pursuing my high school crush and trying to make it as a rock musician.  But I let go of both of those things and I'm much better off for it.

But hubris is what it is, so they try and bring Jason Todd back to the forefront in Batman 422.  How?  Thusly:

Yes.  Jason Todd beats up an abusive pimp.  And if you complain about it, you must be an abusive pimp sympathizer.

Okay, that was totally Fun with Out-of-Context Dialogue (tm!), but that's not the point.  Unable to simply give us a tolerable Jason Todd, they have to give us a tormented, ticked-off, extreme Jason Todd.  Because everything back then had to be EXTREME!  Or if was really extreme, it was XTREME!

I'm not the World's Greatest Detective, but I think it's pretty obvious that Jason Todd has gone back to being all grumpy.

And then it gets dumber.  In Batman #424, we have the ultimate frustration plot device: A sadistic killer who is untouchable because of diplomatic immunity:

So what does Jason Todd do about it?

I'm not sure what they were thinking, but this is the problem: Robin is meant to bring a little light into Batman, not vice versa.  We have Batman, who is a combination of Zorro and Dracula, with a partner wearing a festive red vest and bright yellow cape.  Robin is supposed to reflect the wonder and optimism of youth.  But as such, readers were totally turned off by him.

And if he did murder Felipe, that's a line from which you don't return.  In the pages of X-Men, the character of Phoenix was killed off because the Powers that Be rightly decided that heroes don't murder folks.  So, even though Jason doesn't admit it and you certainly couldn't convict him on this evidence, did anyone think the readers wanted a Robin who we would even suspect might cross that line?  But at the time, Jason Todd was thought to be the permanent Robin so no one thought they were burning any bridges.

But, as we'll see in the days to come, them bridges be burned.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Batman and Nightwing Have a Moment While Jason Todd Trains in the Use of High Caliber Firearms

Let's take things a little out of order and jump ahead to Batman #416.  There was some shifting in the creative team, and after a couple of issues that were clearly "fill-ins," the title seemed ready to try and salvage something out of all this.

The first order of business was to explain why Dick Grayson was fired as Robin:

I KNOW, RIGHT?  I said the same thing.

Yeah.  He's not getting away with that one.  And that doesn't even make sense.  So, you have someone that is a fully trained partner and you give him unemployment for a graduation gift?  Where I work, we tend to try and hang on to people after we've shown them the ropes.  Shenanigans.

After some hemming and hawing... because you rarely get a straight answer out of Batman, we get this:

Hmmmmph.  I guess I'll accept that answer if I have to.  I mean, it's still nonsense because I think Dick would have worked with Bruce to the bitter end so he was really only a phone call away.  But that would have required Bruce to actually admit he made a mistake, and we sure aren't going to see that happen.  And, of course, it explains why Bruce took on Jason but it still gives no satisfactory answer as to why he severed ties with Dick and kept them severed.

But we had to clean things up, so here's Dick giving Jason Todd his costume yet again:

To be fair, this is the start of an upswing in overall quality for the book.  But as we'll see, you just can't have a Jason Todd Robin and not have it self-destruct on you sooner or later.  And what was the deal with Nightwing's collar?

For instance, one issue earlier:

Remember that whole no guns rule for Batman?  It doesn't seem to apply these days.

And just in case you think this is something Jason Todd came up with on his own:

Yup.  Batman is teaching children to use shotguns.  It was an interesting time.  Not a particularly good time.  Just an interesting time.

See you tomorrow!