Saturday, July 30, 2011

For Science!

Looks like the last time I mentioned Gen Con Indy on this blog was back in 2008, which is almost a shame. After all, I post more here, I have more readers here, and the folks over here are more likely to head out to a gaming convention for its stated purpose.

So here's the scoop: At that trip in 2008, my group went to a panel put on by some Indiana Ghost Hunters. Being of a scientific, skeptical mindset, we figured "hey, we can do that," and put on a panel of our own the next year (which I was only peripherally involved with, owing to the fact that I triple-booked that weekend with weddings). Last year, I returned to Gen Con as part of the Skeptical Gamers, and we put on a pretty successful series of talks about science and skepticism. We also raised $800 for the Indiana Vaccination Coalition, doing some real, tangible good for a state that needs it (not that all states don't need better vaccination rates). I wrote all about it here if you want more detail.

This year, the Skeptical Gamers are back, and while there have been some unfortunate snafus, we're hoping to have just as much fun and success this year. I'll be speaking in various panels over the weekend on Conspiracy Theories, Cargo Cult Science, Cryptozoology, and General Skepticism, and I'm pretty proud of the presentations I've helped put together for the first and last of those. If you're anywhere near Indianapolis next weekend, I highly recommend stopping by and saying hello.

Oh, and the schedule of panels and talks is right here. Hope to see you there!

Read More

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's a Derp!

So that "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman" musical soundtrack I posted about yesterday? I opened it up this morning to rip the tracks so I could listen to it on my iPhone. There was just one problem: it didn't fit onto the little CD-holder spinny bit in my laptop's disc tray.

Looking at the CD, it appeared that the hole was just too small, that there was a little semi-cut circle around that center hole, which was supposed to have been punched out, but wasn't. "Okay," I said, contacting my inner Tim Taylor. "I can fix this. I just need to cut out that center plastic."

So I sat down with a cutting board and a bright lamp and an X-Acto knife, and I went to work. I did pretty well with my CD surgery, cutting out a little chunk of the plastic, figuring I could work on the rest from there. At about that time, I broke the tip off my X-Acto knife and decided to take a break.

I approached my wife, ever the voice of reason, to pitch the next phase of my plan at her (of course, I have more than one X-Acto knife). "I think I know a way to make this go faster, but it will also be more dangerous. I could heat up the blade."

She responded by telling me that this was a bad idea, and that I should just buy a new CD.

I was somewhat dismayed by this turn of affairs, but happy that I had permission to just replace the semi-mutilated disc. Whereupon we went to lunch and ran some errands.

My mind mulled over this problem in the background over the course of the early afternoon, and hit upon something I should have noticed earlier (but in my zeal to do some manly tool-work-cutting, I missed): if the hole in the center was too small, how would it fit on the little plastic CD-holding-bit in the jewel case?

Returning home, I decided to test this new notion, and tried the CD in the disc tray again. It fit. I was just apparently uncoordinated and stupid before.

So now I have a slightly-mutilated Superman musical soundtrack CD, and it's a good thing that I don't listen to the actual physical discs very often anymore. And I feel like precisely the idiot that I am. But at least it ripped!


If yesterday was Mark Waid day, then today was Superman day. The rest of my online Borders order arrived, including things that I wasn't aware had shipped yet. So now I have Superman Chronicles Vol. 5 and 6 on my shelf, as well as Michael Eury's "The Krypton Companion" and the Neal Adams/Denny O'Neil "Superman vs. Muhammad Ali" hardcover reprint, which I've never actually read. So that's exciting.

And as long as today is Superman Day, I might as well mention something I've been meaning to talk about in the last couple of posts. I'm reading Elliot S! Maggin's second Superman novel, "Miracle Monday," and it's quite enjoyable, but one bit has really stuck out. Kristin Wells, the time-traveling historian who would later become Superwoman, writes a journal entry about halfway through the book, shortly after she'd been possessed or otherwise influenced by the book's villain, the demonic C.W. Saturn. It's some of the best subtle, psychological horror I've read in a superhero story. I feel like it's damning with faint praise to say it reminded me of Stephen King's short story "1408," but it's the same kind of slow-burn madness evidenced by things just being slightly off, and it's accomplished in a fairly small space. You can read it here, though I suspect it won't have the same impact if you haven't read the rest of the book up to it. So you could start here then.

Laura Hudson wrote essay on female creators at DC, why it's important, and why Dan Didio's dismissive, defensive answers to the problem are a problem. It's worth reading if you haven't, and I agree with it on pretty much every count.

Read More

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Miscellany

I just read the new original story in "DC Retroactive: JLA - The '70s," and it stands out as one of the best straight-up old-school comic stories I've read in awhile. I know the pendulum has swung and the media has progressed, but I really would like to see more of this kind of thing. Which is part of why I'm glad I asked my shop to pull all the Retro-Active specials, painful though it may be to my wallet. It also makes me really excited to sit down and read the Superman one later tonight, in all likelihood.


Apparently today was Mark Waid day, because another trip to the sadly terminal Borders saw me walking out with the latest two volumes of "Irredeemable" and "Captain America: Man Out Of Time." After seeing the film of the latter, I've been in the mood for some more good Cap stories (and if I'd been paid anytime recently, I would have picked up Brubaker's "Red Menace" trade too), and I've never heard a bad word associated with Mark Waid's Captain America. I've got an "Operation: Rebirth" trade around here someplace that I've never managed to read, so there's a good chance I'll be hitting that soon as well.

My other attempts to locate good Captain America stories have been somewhat mixed. I picked up the first (or 620th) issue of "Captain America & Bucky," and enjoyed it well enough. It's WWII-era, which I like to see, but I would have liked a little more Captain America and Bucky in it. I'll stick around for the first arc or so, but I'm not sure after that. I've liked every bit of Brubaker's Cap comics that I've read, but I've never gone the extra step of continuing with the series. It's partially the way Marvel organizes their trades without a clear progression from one to the next; I understand the reasons for doing that, and I saw in "Red Menace" today that there was a handy guide on the inside cover, but it does make things slightly less impulse-buy-friendly for the story continuity-minded among us. It's also part of why I've bought so little in the way of Brand New Day-era Spider-Man trades; a lack of numbers and a plethora of trades makes it unclear where I should go next without additional research that I'd rather not do.

Which, I suppose, makes me lazy. Or cheap. Or searching for an excuse. I can handle all that, I guess.

I tried to find "The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty" at my local shop, since I'd heard good things about it and since I'm always up for Kevin Maguire art, but there seems to be no trade, and my LCS only had the first issue. It works out okay for me; I didn't really have the money for it anyway, but it's definitely something I'll be looking into down the line.

Back to Mark Waid, it occurs to me that, when people talk about deconstructionist writers in the superhero genre, Mark Waid doesn't get mentioned often enough. Aside from turning out solid, straightforward superhero comics in a variety of places and styles, he's done quite a bit of work in the deconstruction mode. "Kingdom Come" is an allegory about approaches to superhero storytelling, "Empire" is about what happens when the villain wins, and "Irredeemable" and "Incorruptible" are all about taking common tropes--the ultimate hero, the dastardly villain, the fall from grace, the heel face turn--and applying them in fairly original, extreme ways. It's not his only approach, like it might be for someone like Alan Moore, and I think that's why he might not be as closely identified with the process, but I think he deserves the same kind of consideration.

So, I have this now:
Surely not as big a disaster as the Spider-Man musical.

So, yeah. Don't be surprised if I end up talking about it soon.

Read More

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some thoughts on recent comics-related stuff

I finally caught up on Green Lantern, which meant reading 2/3 of "War of the Green Lanterns" (I didn't subscribe to "Emerald Warriors"). Not entirely surprisingly, I was able to follow the story just fine. Overall, I thought it was pretty decent, and as crossovers go I'd much prefer these small, relatively confined ones (see also: "Reign of Doomsday(s)") than sweeping universe-wide ones.

As to the status quo changes for the GLs, it was nice to see some acknowledgement of John Stewart's architecture background (brief though it may have been) and generally compassionate nature (even if the cover was completely at odds with that). I'm curious to see how this all shakes out in September, but I can't say I'm terribly interested in Sinestro-as-GL, especially since the solicits say that he's the GL for sector 2814, which makes no sense, and Geoff Johns' chapters in the crossover were generally the weakest (largely because his response to decreased page count has apparently been to increase the number of unnecessary two-page spreads). "Green Lantern" is one of those on-the-cusp titles for me, and since I'm quite happy only buying two GL comics each month, it's entirely possible that the flagship book will be the one to get the axe in October.


Speaking of crossovers, how about "Flashpoint"? Issue #3 was the first one that felt like anything happened in, and that might just be because of my well-known Superman bias. I'm kind of disappointed that Johns didn't decide to go in the more interesting direction I speculated after issue two, with Batman working to re-create a better world that he never knew and would never see, but I can't say I was surprised that Geoff Johns did something conventional and cliché.

And I hate saying that, because Johns used to be one of my favorite writers in comics, but I think a combination of being stretched-too-thin and having no one to check and/or balance him has turned him into a bucket of clichés.

In short, I generally agree with what Chris Sims had to say about things. Flashpoint has been largely pointless, and where it has had any point or plot, it's been exactly what you'd expect, and nothing that you haven't seen before.

That "more interesting direction" keeps popping into my head, and it really has me interested in writing that series. We've all seen the alternate timeline stories where one lone hero knows the way the world is supposed to be and will stop at nothing to set things right. In a lot of those stories, the characters of the alternate universe just go along with the protagonist, either because her world sounds so much better than the current one, or because she just seems so sincere.

And yet, I have to imagine that if someone came to me and said the world was all wrong, and he needed to set things right so that the world as I knew it never actually happened...I'd think that person was nuts. If I were a superhero, I might hear that person out (weirder things happen in superheroes' lives, after all), but it seems like skepticism would be awfully warranted. Moreover, what's to say that this hero isn't actually a villain in disguise, trying to create--or recreate--a world where he's in charge?

It makes me think that there'd be a lot of traction in a decent "Triumph" series. Triumph's whole schtick was that he was lost in time after a time-altering event that wiped him from his rightful place in the timestream, but as far as I know, he didn't do a whole lot of the "I must set things right" plot, more the "I must adapt to this strange new world" plot. A series where he was working to put things "right," but the other heroes either saw him as a self-aggrandizing egotist who can't stand to be out of the spotlight, or a giant kook with enough power to make him dangerous, would be worth a read, I think.

I am however enjoying some of the miniseries, which is not entirely surprising. "Batman: Knight of Vengeance" and "Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown" are the best of the bunch, also not entirely surprising. I generally like that they aren't tied too closely to the main plot of Flashpoint, but are instead exploring the rest of the alternate universe--which is really what alternate timeline stories are good for anyway.

The other tie-ins I'm buying are "Kid Flash Lost," "Lois Lane and the Resistance," "Project Superman," "Wonder Woman and the Furies," and "Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager." The latter two started mostly as impulse buys--Abnett and Lanning are good enough for me to check out regardless, and Deathstroke as a pirate was a crazy enough high concept for me to check it out. They're all decent enough, but I suspect one or two of them might end up on eBay in September.

The last time I subscribed to a "Daredevil" comic, he was wearing armor and calling himself "Jack Batlin." It's not that I don't like Daredevil, I just let the subscription lapse (as this was in those olden days when I was getting my regular comics through the mail). I've obviously heard good things about "Daredevil" comics since then, but I've never really gotten around to checking them out. But last week I decided to give Mark Waid's new, lighter-toned Daredevil a shot, and it was fantastic. The buzz the book has been getting is totally deserved, and it made a Daredevil subscriber out of me for the first time since 1993. Check it out

You know what I enjoyed? That Joe Johnston-directed superhero movie set in the WWII era, where the Nazi-fighting protagonist is outfitted with advanced technology by a billionaire pilot-slash-inventor named Howard.

Seriously, though, I watched both "Rocketeer" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" in the last few days, and quite enjoyed them both. I hadn't seen the former since at least the era of VHS, and while the story and action is the sort of excellent swashbuckling action-adventure fun that I've been craving lately, it would probably benefit from some more modern special effects. "Captain America" was great through and through, except with the opposite problem that there was just a little too much obvious CGI in the "Cap and the Howling Commandos bust up a bunch of Hydra bases" montage sequence.

One of the things I most appreciated about the film was the color palette. They did a good job with soft beiges and sepia tones in the training and bunker scenes, but once Cap was really on the scene, it started looking more and more like technicolor. The colors really popped, something I noticed especially when the Red Skull was standing in front of his flying-wing airplane. It was a very welcome change from the teal and orange palette of so many modern movies.

I would love to see more "Captain America"-style superhero movies, and I hope that "Man of Steel" is that good.

That'll do for now. Keeps the blog from getting too dusty. More to come later. Hurm.

Read More

Friday, July 22, 2011

Walking with Superman: Finale

That's it.

I'm probably just as surprised as you are that I managed to get through the whole series. Sure, there were three or four times when I forgot to finish the post before midnight, and Blogger's issues with scheduling posts meant that, more often than not, they didn't go up at 12:00--though that's an arbitrary time I set later in the run anyway. But aside from the occasional snafu, I got everything written and reasonably on-time. Even over my wedding and honeymoon.

Three hundred and sixty-five Superman story pitches. And there were even ideas I didn't get to use, like Superman visiting Vanity City to get involved with the selection/training of the new Aztek, or facing corrupt politics in Chicago, or teaming up with Klarion in Salem. I'm particularly kicking myself over that last one, frankly.

I also never dipped into my back-pocket pitches, because there's still a part of me that would love to write Superman for reals down the line, and I wouldn't want to give away everything. So that's 365 story ideas on top of the arcs I've been planning and plotting and refining for years.

I'll admit, some plans fell through. Obviously there was the first contest, and I was hoping to do a "guest week" somewhere in there, but never got the time to put it together. After the three-page script I did for Day 100, I wanted to do longer scripts for 200 and 300, with a full issue for #365, but that turned out to be insane, at least with my current schedule.

I'm not quite done with the "Walking with Superman" tag. I'll have a wrap-up version of the by the numbers post, and a little post about my process through this whole thing. I find it interesting, anyway. Eventually, I'll have the list of links and titles up as well. It'll all be trickling out over the next week or two.

I want to thank all the people who commented, who entered the contest, who read along and offered kind words throughout this process. I know it's just fanfic, but it's nice to know that people were reading and enjoying it at least as much as I was enjoying putting it all together. I want to give specific shout-outs to Steve Younis of the Superman Homepage and Rebel Rikki and Davin Loh of Nerdy Nothings for promoting the project and giving me my first podcasting experience.

As to the future: at the request of my wife, I'm done with the self-imposed daily blogging obligation. I'm not done blogging, but I suspect things will be a little lighter here for a little while. After that? Well, it's been an awfully long time since I did a Superman Sunday post...

Read More

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mope, mope, mope

ComicsAlliance has a couple of preview pages from September's "Superman" (vol. 3) #1, specifically dealing with Lois Lane's new non-Clark relationship. I'm just going to tackle the pros and cons, really, because there are both:

  • Pro: New digs for the Daily Planet, and what appears (briefly) to be a fleshed-out supporting cast there.
  • Con: We're only getting a piece of the story here, and it looks like it's after the action, so it's hard to tell exactly what's going on. Looks like the old Planet building might have burned down, maybe?
  • Pro: The art looks great. Simply fantastic.
  • Con: De-aging Perry seems to have also given him black hair. He looks like Sarge Steel.
  • Pro: Morgan Edge is involved. Lois appears to be a TV reporter, which is a nice flip-flop from the way things were in the late '70s-early '80s, where Clark was the WGBS anchorman and Lois still wrote for the Planet. These are good shake-ups that could reasonably cause interesting drama.
  • Con: As David Brothers pointed out on Twitter, "that lois lane's new boyfriend thing is written like the worst, laziest sitcom drama i've ever seen in my entire life." Moreover, it's more of the '90s-style thinking (Look up Jeb Friedman, the informant and union organizer who fell for Lois and acted as a foil during their engagement and brief breakup) that's going into this relaunch. This reads like a scene out of "Lois and Clark," and even as a fan of "Lois and Clark," it smacks of the same kind of sitcom cliché.
  • Pro: Jonathan Carroll's name reminds Clark of his (now-deceased) father. It's not exactly subtle, but it's at least a nice bit of characterization.
  • Con: Jonathan Carroll seems like either a himbo or a jerk, which is really the easy way out. Criticize "Superman Returns" all you want, but one of the things it did really well was make Lois's new love interest (James Marsden's Richard White) a nice, likable, decent guy. Having a rounded character--and a good person--in the "love triangle foil" position may be difficult for the writer, but it allows for a lot more nuanced conflict within the readers, who want (based on the circumstances) to dislike the character, but can't find anything wrong with him beyond "he's not the protagonist." It also went a long way toward showing that Lois's type was "kind, caring, compassionate, and moral," not "big muscly beefcake."
  • Pro: I was thinking that they could be daring and introduce some progressive details into the story by having Lois date someone who wasn't caucasian. I then realized that the racial politics of such a story would be "Lois is dating a non-caucasian man, but she's supposed to be with the protagonist, who looks like the paragon of caucasian manhood." It would be, at the very least, uncomfortable in the same way that Ray Palmer and Ronnie Raymond taking over their respective superhero roles from non-caucasian successors (with the subtext that they're the "true" versions of those characters) was. So it's good that they avoided that.
  • Con: Clark Kent is mopey. His powers make him hear things that make him more mopey. Mopey mope mope. I am so tired of mopey Clark Kent, and yet, that appears to be the entire point of this new status quo.
  • Con: Which is, of course, exactly what I expected. Lois is with the wrong guy. She has to be with the wrong guy because it explains why she isn't with the right guy. Because we know that Clark is the right guy, the dramatic tension is all around when Lois will leave the wrong guy and get with the right guy. Casting Jonathan Carroll as (it appears) a one-note beefcake only underscores his status as the wrong guy and gives us no tension or conflict toward that assessment. If Lois were with someone who was a nice person and made her happy without putting her in danger or leaving frequently, then the readers--and Clark!--would be forced to wonder if maybe she wasn't better off not being Superman's girlfriend. That might be a source of some mopey drama, but it would at least be a more interesting sort of drama than this "Three's Company" BS.
Thoughts?

Read More

Walking with Superman: Day 365

Superman's year-long journey has come to an end on the outskirts of Metropolis, DE. They say you can't go home again--and in this case, they're right! Metropolis is closed off to its hometown hero, with a force-field designed specifically to keep Kryptonians out. Superman may have taken a year-long sabbatical, but Lex Luthor was hard at work back home, and once Superman breaks through the shield, he'll find that every inch of the Big Apricot has been turned into an anti-Superman deathtrap! If that weren't enough, Luthor has scoured the globe to form a new Superman Revenge Squad, a veritable vanguard of vengeful villains who would stop at nothing to slay Superman! The Man of Tomorrow calls out to his allies from across the United States, and together they'll fight to save Metropolis from this army of supervillains! But for all the heroes and villains, eventually it'll come down to Superman and Lex Luthor...and only one will walk away!

Read More

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 364

"The story of Clark Kent is by now well-known, though my access to his psychological records give me perhaps greater insight than the newspaper stories might allow. Mr. Kent has spent the better part of the last year bouncing around the country from facility to facility, but I have high hopes that San Haven Asylum will be the end of his journey. The relative remoteness (Dunseith, ND, is the closest town, still some miles away) is why I requested his transfer to this facility. Isolating Kent from the subjects of his delusions and his enablers may be the change he needs to finally cure this disorder.

"Even with his case files, the genesis of Mr. Kent's psychosis is unclear. He is certainly a paranoid schizophrenic, but the narrative that underscores his delusions developed in his childhood, well before any likely onset of schizophrenia. Then again, if one listens to Mr. Kent, he is a very unlikely individual.

"The core of his personal narrative is a grandiose delusion, specifically that he possesses special powers and abilities beyond those of mere mortals, that he is an exalted character called "Super-Man." This originated in Kent's childhood, first with stories about feats of strength or speed that his parents dismissed as normal pretend play. Some of Kent's previous therapists would put the onset of hallucinations in the same period; Kent's parents recall that he claimed to be able to hear voices and sounds with "super-hearing" and see through solid objects with "X-Ray Vision." It was not long afterward that he began telling stories about imaginary friends (again, initially dismissed as normal play by his parents), children from the "future" who also had special abilities and thought of young Kent as a great hero.

"Sometime in late adolescence or early adulthood, Kent's grandiose delusion grew more detailed, and other symptoms began to develop. Not only was he a veritable god among men and a predestined hero, but he was the sole survivor of an advanced alien race, secretly adopted by his "foster" parents, to protect him from the government and from alien "man-hunters" who would have exploited or dissected him. This seems to be the earliest of Kent's persecutory delusions. The details here are clearly less developed than other aspects of the narrative: sometimes he came to Earth as an infant, other times as an embryo in a technological womb; sometimes his alien parents chose Earth intentionally, other times his survival was a lucky shot in the dark. The inconsistencies suggest that this is a later part of the delusion, one that he has not thoroughly considered.

"It is at this time that Mr. Kent began to incorporate real-world figures into his delusion, claiming at various points that he knew and befriended billionaire Lex Luthor. This relationship eventually soured in some way (another inconsistency in Kent's stories), leading Luthor to become Kent's--or rather, "Super-Man's"--"arch-enemy." This remains Kent's strongest and most prominent persecutory delusion, but he would incorporate other figures into the narrative in various ways, usually by suggesting that they lead double-lives. For instance, he claims that wealthy philanthropists Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen (along with scores of others, from police officers to test pilots) are actually costumed vigilantes.

"Kent moved to Metropolis sometime after graduating high school; though his delusions were well-developed by this point, his paranoid tendency toward secrecy prevented them from impacting his social skills too severely. The move away from home, however, seems to have been the breaking point. Kent's delusions consumed more and more of his life, driving him into solitude--with one exception. In Metropolis, Kent became aware of Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, who became the subject of his primary erotomanic delusion. Kent stalked Lane, going so far as to put her in dangerous situations so that he could "rescue" her. This is what led to his infamy, as Lane published the entire debacle in her column.

"And that, of course, was what finally led to Kent's institutionalization. But his unique needs, his refusal to take medication, and his penchant for violent outbursts and escape attempts led to his frequent transfers.

But San Haven will be his last stop; I will see to that much. If I can't break Clark Kent of his dangerous delusions, then I will make sure that he remains locked up here for the rest of his life."

--From the notes of Hugo Strange, MD.

Read More

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 363

Superman's in Plano, IL, but he'd never know that just by looking. Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make Plano look exactly like Smallville, even to Superman's super-senses! What could possibly be gained by making a rural Illinois town into a replica of a rural Kansas town? And why are the actual, genuine-article Martha Kent, Lana Lang, and Pete Ross tied up in the fake Smallville High? Superman fears that he's up against an enemy he thought long dead, against the archnemesis of Clark Kent! Be careful Superman, because you might not survive--the return of Conduit!

Read More

Monday, July 18, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 362

When Superman visited the site of the world's largest time capsule in Seward, Nebraska, he expected to admire the monuments and the kitschy accomplishment--he wasn't even going to peek with his X-Ray vision! So the last thing he anticipated was waking up in 2025, trapped inside the time capsule as it's finally opened! How did the Man of Steel end up inside a monument to the Polyester Age--and how has the world changed in the decade-plus since he disappeared? Finally, and most importantly, is there any way for him to get back, or will Superman's long walk have lasted fourteen years longer than it was supposed to?

Read More

Wow, Nothing About This Sounds Good

The news has broken on post-Flashpoint Superman's status quo, and it's really taking a toll on my positivity. Let's just go point by point:
Clark Kent and Lois Lane [...] were never married in the first place: Okay, I saw this coming. It's a terrible idea, because that's a (wedding) bell you really only get to ring once. For fifty-eight years, their relationship was based around the "will they/won't they" question--a question that gets really frigging old quite quickly (see also: Scrubs, Bones, and every other show that has ever done it)--but once the knot was tied, any future untying puts them into the even less tenable "when will they" situation. There's a reason that the Spider-Man comics of late have basically written MJ out of Peter's life (again), and it's because her presence forces the question of when they will get back together. Once you've established two characters as true-love-meant-for-each-other, you really can't un-establish that in the minds of the audience.

Its presence post-Flashpoint underscores the other problem with this kind of retcon. We've seen stories over and over where [HERO] loses [TRUE LOVE] and moves Heaven and Earth to get [TRUE LOVE] back. It's what heroes do, from Orpheus to Dante to Wally West. "Flashpoint" as a series is exactly the same kind of story, where the world has gone wrong and Barry Allen is moving Heaven and Earth to put it back. So when those kinds of stories are used to rewrite history, we're left with the dangling question of why no one tries to set things exactly right, why the heroes are satisfied with "good enough." At least "One More Day" forced the hero to make an impossible decision; the post-Flashpoint DCU requires the heroes to not act. It's almost hilarious that the brunt of that inaction will be felt by the star of Action Comics.

But at least I understand the (superficial and wrong) reasoning behind this decision: Splitting up Clark and Lois allows for new stories to be told, new conflicts to be had, and removes the restraint of the marriage. It bothers the ever-living hell out of me that comic relationships still revolve around romantic fantasy notions of true love, but seem to abhor marriage. It's like there's no one in comics who's happily married and sees that marriage is a source of new conflicts and story opportunities.

Lois will have a new boyfriend, one whose identity is yet to be revealed but is said to be a Daily Planet colleague: Oh good, "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" is going to be canon.

Actually, it's more likely to be someone like Steve Lombard or Ron Troupe or Lex Luthor or something. That's not really a concern, just a distraction.

Superman's alien origins will be emphasized in a big way, with the character described as "more Kal-El from the planet Krypton than Clark Kent from Kansas": Because there aren't any other semi-detached aliens who are the last survivors of their homeworlds in the DCU. I know that this is basically the sticking point around which all debates about Superman's character hinge, and I hope that it's mostly just a clumsy statement of the "Superman 2000"/"All-Star Superman" notion of a Superman whose powers just put him beyond human comprehension.

Superman's deep connection to his Kryptonian heritage also explains his new costume, as seen on the cover of Superman #1. It's "ceremonial armor" from his home planet, with the traditional red trunks abandoned: Because Superman needs armor. Hopefully its "ceremonial" nature allows for its eventual shelving, much like Wonder Woman's "Kingdom Come" armor.

Jonathan and Martha Kent are both dead in DC's post-Flashpoint continuity: Ugh. What is it with DC and living parents? What is it with DC and happy, normal human relationships? What is it with DC and the past?

Action Comics, which focuses on Superman's early superhero career, depicts a "younger, more brooding" Man of Steel: Yay! More brooding Superman! It's good to see that DC is listening to the critics and fans, because we haven't seen nearly enough of Superman brooding in recent years!

His powers are still in development at this point, as he "can leap tall buildings but can't fly in space": At least they're undoing the power-creep, the steady pushing-back of Superman's power development since 1986. Of course, this also means that "Superman: Secret Origin" is largely, if not wholly, undone. Is 13 months a new record for "shortest canonical Superman origin story"?

Kal-El's present will be told in Superman, with a "new status quo at the Daily Planet" and a new gig at the paper for Lois Lane: I sincerely hope this means that the Daily Planet is no longer (just) a newspaper. Print media is having some serious troubles, and it'd be nice to see the Daily Planet get a 21st-century upgrade. Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing Clark back as anchor of WGBS news.

I've heard rumors that Lois's new "gig" is Editor-in-Chief, which would be a very interesting change and source of conflict. It would give her a whole new interest into Clark's sudden disappearances and dodgy ethics, and would make her appear like less of a stalker for trying to investigate those concerns.

The series [...] will show that "there's a price to pay for being Superman": Why? I mean, I hope this is a conceptual/philosophical "I can't get close to people or they'll be in danger" thing, not a "Superman's powers have brand new drawbacks" forced-drama idiocy.

Debut a brand-new villain, one said to be more powerful than the Man of Steel: New villains = good. Superman needs an expanded Rogue's Gallery, and if they're going "One More Day"/"Brand New Day" in some part, then I'd really like to see them take this lesson from Slott & Co. Retire the old rogues for awhile, until you can do new and fresh things with them. Let Lex scheme behind the scenes and play master orchestrator. Leave the Phantom Zone alone.

As for "more powerful than the Man of Steel," well, that's solicit braggadocio.

Finally: I'm not a fan of the new cover. With this historic relaunch, you'd think DC would put more effort into making these covers--particularly Action and Detective--more iconic, the sorts of things that people might look to imitate in the future. The first Rags Morales teaser had a lot more of that than this one does.

I'll be interested in seeing how this all shakes out in September (and, in all likelihood, later today), but boy, this first volley of news is depressing.

Read More

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 361

Hill City, South Dakota, has strong ties to the past. Not only is it the oldest remaining city in the area, but human history in the region goes back over nine thousand years, and high-profile fossil discoveries nearby speak to even more ancient times--and that long history is suddenly becoming a lot more tangible! The first sign of trouble came a few days ago, when the bandits in a wild west reenactment show injured tourists by firing live rounds from their six-shooters instead of blanks! Today, as Superman comes into town, he finds that the effect is spreading. Those actor bandits have become a real gang of rustlers, terrorizing the citizenry, and even some of the buildings and technology have transformed into a more 19th-century state. What could be causing this Rushmore State rewind--and will the Man of Steel be able to fix it before it affects him as well?

Read More

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 360

While passing through Little Axe, OK, Superman meets Katie Idlewild, a unique young girl with a unique problem--someone has stolen her time machine! The middle schooler built the incredible device (her father helped with some of the power tools) in her basement, but generally left it in the front yard, since she was the only one able to enter and operate it--or so she thought. Now the teenage genius needs Superman's help to find the device before it's used for some nefarious scheme, and the Man of Steel's long walk will take a sudden detour throughout time and space!

Read More

Friday, July 15, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 359

The final installment of a popular fantasy film series is in theaters today, and the Museum in Shelburne, VT, is helping fans celebrate in style. Timothy Hunter and the Ruby of Life: Part 2 closes out the saga of the teenage wizard, and visitors to the museum's special Tim Hunter exhibit are leaving with toy wands and glass jewels for their wizarding costumes. There's just one small problem: when the excited moviegoers leave the theater, they find that their fake artifacts actually work! Now, hundreds of area kids and teenagers are armed with a host of magic spells and powerful relics, and Superman's left to handle the chaos! But any fan of the Timothy Hunter films can tell you about the power of teamwork, so the Man of Steel has called a pair of sorcerers to help. Enter Princess Amethyst and Sargon the Sorcerer, who will hopefully be able to unravel these strange circumstances!

Read More

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 358

When electronic traffic signs around Danville, VT, began broadcasting complaints about the traffic and warnings of zombie invasion, authorities chalk it up to harmless-but-annoying vandals. When random text messages with similarly irreverent and strange content go out to random area residents, the police blamed it on pranksters. But when every electronic device in the area, from car GPS units to 911 dispatch computers, starts displaying nonsense messages instead of information, residents rightly begin worrying! Superman puts his skills to the task of tracking down the heinous hackers, but the truth will shock even him!

Read More

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Because Sometimes You Just Need to See Curt Swan Draw Richard Pryor

That's quite the afro, Richard.

From The Superman Movie Special #1, 1983.

I love Curt Swan and all, but I've always noticed a certain...Steve Dillon quality to his faces. Not all the images of Gus Gorman are quite this...off-model in the book, but there's really only one that looks accurate. Kind of a far cry from, say, Bryan Hitch or the other photorealists of today, where actors often "play" characters in the art.

Read More

Walking with Superman: Day 357

A tragic death during a routine National Guard parachuting exercise was the first indication that something was wrong at Montana's Fort Harrison. By the time Superman arrives, there's no chance that such an accident could happen again, because none of the planes can get off the ground. In fact, nothing can get off the ground! The local gravitational pull has become unbearable, and it'll soon become unbearable for the rest of the planet if Superman can't find a way to stop it! But while the Man of Steel evacuates the soldiers and staff, gravity bends sunlight, dilates time, and strains Superman's mighty muscles more and more. If Superman doesn't hurry, then this will soon become his most crushing defeat!

Read More

Just when I thought I was out...

Today's newly-released solicitation for Stormwatch #2:

STORMWATCH #2
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA and AL BARRIONUEVO
Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA
On sale OCTOBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
The moon is alive! Following the events of SUPERMAN #1 where [TEXT REDACTED], the covert team of sci-fi Super Heroes known as Stormwatch must not only battle the Earth’s moon, but find a way to hide its monstrous metamorphosis from the rest of the Earth! How? Uh, they’re working on it. Meanwhile, the recruitment of Midnighter goes poorly, and we learn why the Martian Manhunter is a member of the team. Written by Paul Cornell (Doctor Who)!
Superheroes battling the moon because it's going through a monstrous metamorphosis? That is crazy. Like, precisely the kind of crazy that I want to read about.

Okay DC, you got me on this one. "Stormwatch" it is.



In other news, the second issue of the Red Hood book shows that it was possible to design a costume skimpier than Star Sapphire's. Meanwhile, Jason Todd joins Citizen Steel and that guy from "All-New Atom" in having his spandex-clad junk apparently displayed on a cover. Somehow I imagine this image will change before October. Because obviously that, and not Starfire's impossible costume, is the offensive and unacceptably sexual part of the image.



The announcements of miniseries for Huntress and the Penguin, and a maxi-series for the Shade, demonstrates that DC's going beyond the New 52 in coming months, which gives me hope for some characters (and perhaps more importantly, creators) that we haven't seen yet. Still no more women in the writing or art credits, though.

I want to spend another minute on that "Penguin: Pain and Prejudice" miniseries. It purports to be an origin story for the Penguin, which seems kind of odd. Why would they be releasing this now? I can't help but see parallels to the Scarecrow, Ra's al-Ghul, Joker, and Two-Face miniseries and trades and specials that cropped up before "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" respectively, and the timing (the fifth issue of the mini, if on-time, would ship in February, meaning a trade could be out by May, easily in time for "The Dark Knight Rises") seems right. Is the Penguin an as-yet-unannounced villain (or just supporting character) in the next Batman film? I'll be interested to find out.

Read More

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 356

As the exiled Menehune and the reawakened god-child Keiki Makua'ole make their way southward through the Pacific Ocean, Superman races ahead to ready Hawai'i for their assault! Speeding into the heart of Kilauea, Superman warns Pele of the vengeful visitors, and the fiery goddess calls out to her defenders. The Menehune's timeless nemesis, the owl-god Paupueo, awakens from his diurnal slumber! Kekona and the other still-loyal Menehune stand ready to defend the isles from their disgraced bretheren! The displaced Nawao giants return to Hawai'i's shores to fight the forces that drove them away! But while a divine war brews, Superman races around the archipelago to ensure that it won't be destroyed in the crossfire!

Read More

Monday, July 11, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 355

The Menehune are an ancient race of builders, descended from the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele--so what are they doing in Alaska's Aleutian Islands? Superman last encountered a member of the diminutive construction crew during his Hawaiian honeymoon, so he's as surprised as anyone to find a tribe of them working their way through a lava vent into the Akutan volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the region. The Man of Steel drops down to learn what's brought them so far from home, but he doesn't receive the most welcoming response. Turns out these Menehune have been exiled from their homeland, and so they seek Keiki Makua'ole, the lost scion of Pele, who has been imprisoned in Akutan since time immemorial! With the power of Keiki Makua'ole, they will have their revenge on the goddess who spurned them--and Superman may be powerless to stop them!

Read More

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Power Fantasies

So, superhero comics are often characterized as stemming from adolescent male power fantasies. At the bottom, it's the average, powerless person actually (and secretly) having the power to do the things they dream of doing. I suspect Spider-Man is probably the most purely distilled version of this--a bullied, powerless geek is secretly the hero that his bully idolizes.

So, I'm curious: what's an example of an adolescent female power fantasy? If it's basically the same, then why do we gender the characterization?

I think the example that gets thrown around most is similar in the "secret princess" archetype, the "I'm not who I appear to be, I'm actually someone famous/powerful/magical" story that underlies "Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld" and other stories.

But is that it? Is that even accurate? It seems like there's considerable overlap there...like, "Matilda" fits the male power fantasy model, but "Harry Potter" falls into the female one, suggesting more to do with the author's gender than the protagonist's, which makes sense.

I'll probably do some additional looking around on this, but it's been awhile since I wrote something literary here, and I figured I'd put the call out for input.

Read More

Walking with Superman: Day 354

Pocantico Correctional Center, located just north of Middletown, DE, used to be one of the most overworked prison facilities in the nation. This was mostly due to the proximity of Metropolis--just sixty miles southward--and in particular, the early crimes of one Lex Luthor. But the construction of Stryker's Island Penitentiary in Metropolis Bay, with its state-of-the-art supercriminal and metahuman detention technologies, has eased Pocantico's workload considerably. Although, as the high mental health insurance premiums for a host of former guards, wardens, and other staff members can attest, the greatest criminal mind of our age still has an impact on the prison--especially today, when an unsuspecting inmate stumbles upon one of the hidden devices that Luthor left behind! When Superman arrives to avert the inevitable mayhem, he triggers a chain reaction of failsafes, booby traps, and doomsday devices, all designed to give Superman the death penalty!

Read More

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 353

Superman, Batgirl, and Robin have been captured by the sinister forces of Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins, and where the League goes, the Demon's Head is never far behind! The trio has been taken to the League's compound near Thermopolis, Wyoming. Rā's al Ghūl has commandeered a hot spring, which the League's pludered chemicals will transform into a new Lazarus Pit. But as long as he has access to his grandson and a healthy young Kryptonian, the ageless eco-terrorist has a plan to extend his lifespan--and his power--even more. As Rā's conducts his foul experiment, it falls to Batgirl to escape her bonds and save the day--but can Stephanie succeed where Superman failed?

Read More

Friday, July 08, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 352

A series of thefts at major chemical companies have led Superman to hold a stakeout at the Sunderland Chemical Company's headquarters in Wilmington, DE. The Man of Steel isn't the only one following felonies in the First State tonight--Batgirl and Robin are on the case as well! But while the Bat and Boy Wonder are bickering, a team of ninja burglars works their way toward the building's secret vault! Can Superman rally the discordant duo before the thieves complete their caper--and will this titanic trio triumph over the martial arts mastery of Lady Shiva?

Read More

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 351

The police in Lincoln, NE, are at their wit's end. There's been a gruesome death in a locked motel room, and they are completely at a loss to explain it--so they've brought Superman in to hopefully succeed where a team of expert crime scene investigators have failed. The Man of Steel is shocked and sickened by the sight of the room's walls and floor, covered in blood and shreds of fabric like someone exploded right in the center of it! Was it a murder, a terrible accident, or something far stranger? It's up to Superman to find out--before it happens again!

Read More

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Women in Elevators

I've got feet in two big online communities. Obviously, there are the comic fans, but I'm also pretty active in the science/skepticism blogohedron. Recently, there was a flare-up--one of a series, frankly--that exposed some ugly misogyny, some unfortunately unrecognized privilege, and what the hay, touched on everyone's favorite third rail, the issue of "tone"--or, "I don't disagree with anything you said, but did you have to say it that way?"

The inciting incident was a facepalmingly common one--some dude at a conference played the creep. More specifically, awesome Skepchick Rebecca Watson announced her decision to go to bed at 4 AM, and was followed into the elevator by some guy, who proceeded to proposition her. Bottom line, it was creepy, and that's about the extent of Rebecca's initial comment on the subject, which set the whole blogosphere a-gnashin' about feminism and privilege and misogyny and so forth.

On the whole, I think the conversation has been worthwhile. There have been some truly clueless comments by some otherwise intelligent people, and I hear the comment threads are just brimming with misogyny, but it seems like several good things have come out of this incident: first, a line in the sand has been drawn, saying that prominent women in the community will no longer take this sort of treatment silently. A sizable and vocal block of feminist skeptics has formed, slamming their collective staff on the stone ground and telling the Balrog of misogyny that it shall no longer pass. Second, it's shown that no one is necessarily above privilege, and thus no one is above criticism. Finally, and most importantly, I think there's been a lot done in this situation to educate some of the thicker people who might not have gotten it any of the other times this has gone around (and I count myself somewhat among those thick-headed people). Richard Dawkins aside, I think we can all recall times when confronted with creepy people engaging in behaviors that most folks would recognize as socially unacceptable. Not all such situations have such connotations of sex and rape and objectification, but I would hope that we all know what it's like to meet someone who's a total creeper, and to apply that awkward pressure on them in hopes that they will be less creepy.

If you haven't had such experiences, then I suspect that people around you might have.

I think that's easier for most men to understand. Men might not get why women don't like being ogled and cat-called--even my brain clicks to "gee, it'd be nice if someone ogled me once in a while"1--but they get what it's like for someone to stand too close to you in the elevator, to take the urinal next to yours when there's one open on the other side of the restroom, to strike up a conversation from the next stall over...to violate any of a bajillion understood-but-unspoken rules of social conduct and trigger that weirded-out feeling.

I realize, of course, that there's a lot more to it for women, but men have fur, and I think this is something that gets through it a little. Which is why I think that this is a great example: most people see why it's a skeevy thing to do, regardless of their privilege, and not just in the intellectual, detached, "women don't necessarily like being hit on" way that's the case with most of these situations. And that's why I think this incident might actually make a difference to the (thick-headed men in the) community in a way that previous incidents haven't.

Boy, I'm rambling here. So, why am I rambling on this blog instead of the other one that would generally be more suited to this sort of thing? Mainly because I really would like to see that kind of difference happen in the nerd community at large. Ragnell linked to this post describing a strangely similar incident from a comic convention several years back. There were notable differences--Karen Healey wasn't directly propositioned, she was wearing a costume, there were multiple men--but the situation is remarkably similar: woman in an elevator receives unwanted and unwarranted advances from strange men. Strange men who apparently saw no problem with making advances toward a strange woman in an elevator.

Karen mentioned in passing another strange situation in that post:

This and like incidents have happened to me, like many women, time and time again: strange men telling me to “smile!”; strange men shouting “Show us your tits!” as they drive past; strange men groping my breasts and ass in crowded train carriages.
It's disturbing, for two reasons. One, it resonates with another such incident I encountered on the skeptical side of the blogosphere. Two, it lays bear the assumption (I think) that's going on here: women's bodies are public. Remember the open source boob project? It's the same kind of thing, but without even the token advances toward consent. A man can expect to have a bubble of personal space, violation of which results in, at the very least, that "weirded out" feeling. Women can expect the same, but must also expect to have that space violated by others (read: men) who view women's bodies as some sort of public resource, subject to public oversight.

I realize that this is a larger problem than the geek community, and my conversation with Ragnell and MadMarvelGirl on Twitter suggests that geek conventions may be better than my experience would suggest. All I know is that at GenCon or Wizard World or C2E2, I encountered my fair share of people with no apparent capacity for self-awareness or self-assessment, people ignorant of basic social mores and courtesies, people with no regard for personal space--you know, creepers. Moreover, I think geek culture shields creepy people, and largely justifies, defends, or validates creepy, socially-awkward behavior.

Yes, I realize that people are different, and I'm not one to say that all social rules, standards, or mores are good or justified or reasonable. I also realize that there are actual conditions (like Asperger's) that may impact someone's social intelligence. That's really beside the point, which is that the important social rules--the ones whose violation will set people off as "creepy" and elicit that weirded-out (or threatened) feeling--exist as a result of people's basic social expectations. Violating someone's personal space or ogling them in an elevator violates the basic social contract, the basic principle that people deserve to be treated as individual persons whose desires should be respected and taken into account.

The point, to reiterate, is that people--regardless of gender or dress or attractiveness or whatever--deserve to be treated like people at all times, deserve to have their wishes taken into account at all times. Cornering someone in an elevator when they're trying to go to bed, and asking them to have sex with you, is a violation of that principle. Telling someone that they should be smiling, as if you own stock in their face, is a violation of that principle.

And people should be able to bring this kind of subject up on comic blogs and forums without being shouted down by misogynists and the clueless-and-defensive.



1. My brother likes to eat Ramen noodles. He makes enough money that eating Ramen noodles is one option out of many. I suspect, if he had no choice but to eat Ramen noodles all the time, he'd like it a lot less. There's a difference between wanting a thing, and that thing happening whether you want it to or not.

Read More

Walking with Superman: Day 350

Superman attends a science fiction convention in Mobile, AL, where he's been asked to join a panel discussion about aliens living on Earth. After the presentation, he mingles with some of the other convention guests, including an author and science enthusiast who once wrote some candidly humorous, if somewhat embarrassing, speculation about Superman's intimate life and the relative improbability of a natural Kryptonian-human hybrid. But just as the Man of Steel draws the writer into a conversation, the convention hall roof splits open, and a race of asymmetrical aliens have come for Superman's new companion! Now, Superman must rescue the abducted author--and he's going to need the help of the Omega Men to do it!

Read More

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 349

Superman finds himself in the Seven Banners: New Orleans Amusement Park, which has been closed and abandoned since sustaining heavy damage in Hurricane Katrina. But as the Man of Steel walks the desolate avenues between moldy, vandalized buildings, his keen super-senses reveal that he's not alone! Creeping along the shadows, foraging in the debris, are strange figures with matted fur and faded, tattered clothing. The mascots--anthropomorphic animals and fantastic fictional people--continue to eke out a strange living in the dank solitude of the dead park. But are these sad creatures people left behind, still wearing the costumes they inhabited when the waters rose, or are they something far more bizarre?

Read More

Monday, July 04, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 348

It's Independence Day, and Superman's celebrating with a quiet tour of George Washington's home Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, VA. But all along the tour, the Man of Steel can't help but notice that certain things seem off, and little flickering changes keep happening around the edges of his vision--up until the whole estate vanishes around him! It doesn't take long for Superman to realize that someone is tampering with history, and he soon discovers that a group of Congressional Representatives are plucking the Founding Fathers from the timeline to use for their own political gain--regardless of the consequences to the timestream! Can the Man of Tomorrow set right these changes to our collective yesterdays, or will the only fireworks tonight be the death-throes of time itself?

Read More

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Scroll Call

So, some time ago, I bought this truly awesome Superman wall scroll at Tim's Corner in Rock Island, IL. It hung happily above my desk in various places for years, until disappearing sometime around when I moved out of my Grad School apartment. Now, I'm not exactly hurting for Superman art to hang on my walls--in addition to the movie posters for "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman Returns" and the huge Pérez/Ross Crisis on Infinite Earths poster, I've got three other Superman movie posters and a print, all waiting for display. But it's a sweet piece of art, and Ed McGuinness is one of the best of the modern Superman artists.

So my point: if you happen to see this wall scroll on sale someplace, and you don't plan on picking it up for yourself, maybe give me a heads up? I've searched around the Internet once or twice for it, but it seems most places that might have had it have long since sold out. Doesn't mean it won't pop up in some storeroom someplace.

Thanks!

Read More

An Editorial Mistake I Can Forgive

I've been catching up on "Booster Gold" for the last couple of days, it being one of several comic series that I buy but haven't actually read in months, and along the way I came across an interesting editorial error to add to the list. No, it wasn't how Booster cryptically referred to the Perforated Man as "PF" in one word bubble, suggesting an abbreviation in the script that should have been changed for the finished page (or a typo, though when he later calls the guy "P.M.," it seems like it would have been a hell of a typo), it was this bit of signage:

Mind the seeds.

From the context and the following panels, it's clear that this is meant to be the 30th Century version of Sundollar, DC's clever ersatz Starbucks. But if you're the sort of sad, strange person who can kind of, sort of read Interlac (like me), you might notice something strange about this sign. You might have the sneaking suspicion that "sundollar" would be rendered thusly:
Yes I have the Interlac font. Shut up.

Assuming, of course, that we ignore the differences between capital and lowercase letters. Either way, if the bottom image correctly renders "sundollar," then what does the top image say?

"Sunflower." Which means, I suspect, that letterer John J. Hill could have the nerdiest entry to Damn You, Auto Correct ever.

On one hand, this is forgivable. It's a small error in a made-up foreign language with almost no bearing on the plot or issue. On the other hand, I would hope that the foreign language bits are the places where editors are keeping the closest watch, since they would make it easy for all manner of errors, slurs, and blue placeholder text, to slip through.

The backwards cover preview on the letters page--which would be totally unnoticable if not for the moderately recognizable S-shield on the left--is less forgivable.

Read More

Just this once, everybody wins!

Okay, I know, it's been a month. And a half. But it's been a busy month (and a half), full of excuses. Either way, it's time to (finally) announce the winners of the Walking with Superman Contest! You might recall that I set up prizes for the top two places, and what do you know: two people entered! So everyone's a winner.

And isn't that how Superman would have wanted it? I think it is.

First, our runner-up, who will be receiving a not-too-shabby-if-I-do-say-so-myself care package of Action Comics #775 (shut up, it is not overrated), the sadly and strangely as-yet-uncollected Dark Knight Over Metropolis three-parter, Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 (one of last year's best comics), and the two-volume Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby set, David Lawrence, who turned in this excellent-and-hilarious take on Walking with Superman: Day 91, one of my personal favorites.

The Were-World is seriously my favorite of the WwS originals.

No lie: I would write Superman and Frankenstein solving mysteries Scooby-Doo style in a heartbeat.

And without further ado (there's been forty-odd too many days of ado already), our winner--of Freakazoid Season 1 and Look! Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman on DVD, The Physics of Superheroes, 2nd Edition, and of course, The Walking Dead Vol. 1 and All-Star Superman Volumes 1 & 2 in TPB form!--it's Maestro Drake's cover to Walking with Superman: Day 155.
Such snazzy suits!

His description:
Skyman and the Squadron are dressed in Secret Service attire walking through downtown while an interloper ensues.
It appears Lois Lane is after the President but she may have a different motive.

Okay, that's finally over. Now I just have to send out the care packages, which I can't do until I have some physical addresses. So gentlemen, if you will, send 'em along to doubtingtom83 [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll get those in the mail. And I promise it won't take me a month.

Oh, and one more thing...it's not an entry, but I feel I ought to spotlight this fun Paint-ing by my good friend Jess:
I will spread the gospel of Freak, and it will be good.

Sadly, I don't think that'll happen before August. But come August...

Read More

Walking with Superman: Day 347

Over the years, Superman has been the subject of various documentaries and films, re-enacting various aspects of his life and adventures. The humble Man of Steel isn't exactly thrilled with this state of affairs, but he has gotten used to it, and it helps that use of his likeness requires a portion of proceeds be donated to worthwhile charities. A side-effect of all this is that he is occasionally interviewed or shadowed by actors, looking to portray him with some degree of verisimilitude. One such actor was Brandon Routh, a young man from Norwalk, IA, who portrayed Superman in a film chronicling his self-imposed exile from Earth and subsequent return, some years ago. So when the real Superman heard that his celluloid doppelganger had returned to his hometown to rally his community for a day of service and charity, he decided to lend an indestructible hand--after all, two Supermen are better than one!

Read More

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 346

Lois Lane is accompanying her hard-traveling husband as they walk along the Enchanted Highway, north of Regent, North Dakota. The attraction is home to a unique collection of scrap-metal structures, said to be the largest in the world, depicting everything from nature scenes to former President Teddy Roosevelt. And about halfway down the road, between some enormous pheasants and the original Rough Rider, stood an eccentric little shop. The Kents stop inside, browsing its dusty collection of knick-knacks and tchotchkes and chatting with the friendly (if ancient) clerk, while Clark tries to shake the funny tingling sensation and buzzing in his head that seemed to start when he stepped inside. But when the curious curios begin to change the couple--and reality around them--in bizarre ways, it becomes clear that this is no normal shop, and the shopkeeper's smile may hide a more insidious intent!

Read More

Friday, July 01, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 345

Clark Kent visits the Berman Museum of World History in Anniston, AL, famous for its collection of rare World War II memorabilia and its assortment of strange and unconventional spy weaponry. While Clark isn't thrilled to see the array of death-dealing devices, his super-scientific mind can't help but admire some of the ingenuity and creativity that went into their design and construction. But it seems that the Museum's latest acquisition has drawn some attention from the cloak-and-dagger set, and suddenly Clark Kent finds himself caught in a web of espionage and intrigue between Nemesis, King Faraday, and Katarina Armstrong, the Spy Smasher! But why are they all after the same device...and who got to it first?

Read More