Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Some Costumes from Central Canada Comic Con 2010

I'll have more stuff in the days ahead including pics from the always-delayed costume contest. I had a pretty good time although I didn't really do the celeb thing this year because the ones I was interested in seemed to be no-shows, or something. There were clearly some organizational issues but on the other hand, there were lots of good costumes and anyway not paying outrageous amounts for autographs left me more money to fill gaps in the collection with the very bountiful back issue and collectible tables.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boo!perheroes Week, Part 4: Action Comics #415, Superman in "Meet the Metropolis Monster!"

It all begins innocently enough...

I just hate when people hover over me at work! But it turns out Handsome isn't there to wash the windows, he's got another agenda as he bursts into Clark's office and rips open his shirt, and it ain't romance. Soon a no-holds barred superfight is in progress...

Dollface falls back out the window and gets embedded in the ashphalt. I'm going to assume Clark didn't superspeed to rescue him all happened too fast? But anyway, the creature yet lives!

Only it's a comic book. Soon the always copyright-conscious Daily Planet is reporting on events and admitting a similarity of the creature to an established icon.

Later, the monster is seen on a rooftop with an attractive female with him, making like King Kong. Superman uses his super-sniffer to track down the musty smell he caught earlier, except...
Yes, all he finds is a human male lying in an alley next to the title of this blog. The man appears to have a connection to Herman Munster, as he relates that he created the monster and that it has mortally wounded him so he could not stop it. The man dies, even as the monster appears to be rampaging around the city, terrorizing the always self-reliant Metropolis police force. Ah, the days before the SCU.

Superman, meanwhile, has flown the apparent inventor of the monster to his Fortress of Solitude, where he slaps together a Bring People Back To Life Machine, only I think some of the instructions are in Japanese so it might not work. But note the blog title has followed them all the way to the North Pole! I'm everywhere, man!

Supes does some mad scientist stuff, jolting the body back to life, and just then the monster breaks into the Fortress with a CRRAASSSHHHH.

They have another tussle, only now the monster can speak and chastises Superman for allowing the humanoid to escape, because it's the real menace.

At no point is it mentioned that the monster creating a hole in the wall might have helped the
humanoid escape, because now it's flashback time. The waviness around the panel below means flashback, not that you have cataracts. Whew, that's a relief!

You get the gist. It's the old "alternate dimension where monsters are regular people" gag, and this particular monster created an artificial humanoid. In an interesting inversion of the Twilight Zone "Eye of the Beholder" concept, the uggos in that dimension somehow know they are hideous, despite there being no one to compare themselves to...hmm...and so the inventor that Superman has been assuming is a monster on a rampage attempted to create beautiful specimens. He explains that he was unable to explain before, because his vocal cords had not adapted to the earth atmosphere. I have no zinger for that. The logic is sound.

But anyway, somehow due to the way Superman revitalized it, the humanoid is breaking down into giant cells, which are going to multiply and presumably swallow the earth.

But stopping the cell-being is really not too difficult, they're still in the North Pole so all it takes is some freezing. Later, Superman apologizes to the "inventor" for judging him solely based on his appearance (and that he ripped off Clark's clothes upon first meeting him).

Oh, yeah, and the girl the monster had been seen with earlier was actually another of his humanoid creations. I often refer to my friend's wives as their "female humanoid", which may be one reason I don't really have friends. The inventor goes with her back through the dimensional portal, promising he'll create a mate for her. Yeah, that's the first thing I'd do. Well, I think we've all learned an important lesson about tolerance, bringing the dead back to life, and skirting copyright. It's a cool issue, a fun story, and I like the various tributes to the Frankie mythos, even having Superman in the role of mad scientist. It's alive!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Halloween Film Recommendation: The Flesh Eaters (1964)

AMC has been filling the gaps this week showing this, and it's one of several well done sixties horror movies that does more with less. I hear you saying, but Aaron, what does this have to do with comics? Shouldn't this be on the B-movie blog? Well, the comic connection is that it was scripted by none other than Arnold Drake, creator of Doom Patrol as well as Deadman.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Boo!perheroes Week, Pt. 3: Fantastic Four #239, "Wendy's Friends"

Oh we got a scary one for you tonight, kids! The tale begins as a mysterious figure walks into the Baxter Building past the always alert doorman O'Hoolihan.

Faith 'n' begorrah! Who could this be? She makes her way to the reception desk where Johnny is repairing the robo-receptionist. Then the scene shifts to the laboratory of Dr. Reed Richards, and the stubble, as ever, tells us he has just failed in another attempt to turn Ben back into a human.
Johnny brings the mysterious woman in to the workout room, and once she enters we discover it is none other than the legendary...

...whom Ben has referenced frequently throughout the series. Until now she has been like one of those people in sit-coms that are referred to frequently but never seen, but here she is in the flesh.

But that just sets it up for the main story. Aunt Petunia meets the rest of the FF, and relates that she is not there for a social visit. She wants the FF's help back in her town of Benson, where she lives with her husband, Ben's uncle Jake. She says the town is in danger of being frightened death!

They jump in the Fantasticar and soon they are in Benson, Arizona, where an archaeological dig is taking place. They meet famed archaeologist Dame Ruth Efford, who began the dig following the discovery of an arrowhead by a local little girl named Wendy.

That same night, some of Dr. Efford's students go wandering the desert. When suddenly -

The bodies are found, the next day, apparently with expressions of horrific fear on their faces - related to us with a conversation between Johnny and a pre-Nova Frankie Ray. Frankie gives Wendy a ride back to her home, where she discovers the little girl is being abused by her father, and Frankie threatens him if he touches her again.

There is some dialogue over what it could be they are up against. Dr. Richards says it may be something they simply can't fight. We then see Wendy, in despair over her father, go wandering into the desert alone at night. She is seemingly taken up into a maelstrom of sand, and then the scene cuts to the Thing asleep in his bed at the Benson Motel.

I love that picture because it's not often one sees a monster awakened by bizarre creatures in the middle of the night, a bit like if the Frankenstein monster were being abducted by aliens or something. Suddenly these proto-Gremlins critters are everywhere in the hotel, and as the FF runs out, they see Benson is in chaos. The FF do what they can, putting out fires, but in the morning all the townspeople get in cars and leave.

Wendy has turned up with her father, who says the creatures shows him he can change his ways. It is up to Reed Richard to try as best he can to explain what happened.

The ending is a bit odd, as it almost seems as if the FF just leave Wendy there by herself, but I assume that her now-reformed father is somewhere about. She walks to a secret cave only she knows, and we are left with the following chilling tableau.

It's an interesting, mysterious story. I like that the FF doesn't really get to the bottom of things, and don't exactly have anything solid to fight. Not that I'd want every issue to be like that, but it's cool to have a Twilight Zone story in a superhero comic.

The critters in the ish remind me a bit of this little gem -

Sunday, October 24, 2010

WhooOOooO*perheroes Week, Part 2, Adventure Comics #408: Supergirl in "The Face at the Window"

It all begins as Linda and her fellow reporters at K-SFTV are standing around, using hip lingo and making politically incorrect analogies.

After a lengthy introductory sequence, they get in the news van and drive around all day until they finally find the splash page.

Yes, it's another creepy house, and this one is also owned by an old man, as in our last tale of the mighty and the macabre. Exactly why the reporters are going there is not clear. Anyway, the old man's not too keen on reporters snooping around the place, which is obviously a dead giveaway that all is not kosher with the property. The old man supposedly lives alone in the house, but-

Creepy! Let's zoom in on that -

As they say in Pepe le Peau cartoons - le yipe! Well, I've got goosebumps. It's the kid in Three Men and a Baby all over again! Well not really all over again, that movie hadn't been made yet.

As all this is going on, there has been a bit of a sub plot involving Linda's co-worker at the station, Nasthalsia, though more commonly known by the apt name of Nasty, getting up to all sorts of shenanigans to try to prove Linda is Supergirl. What a terrible person, coming up with a crazy story like that! Well, except we know she's actually right, but we don't want her to know that, and we definitely don't want her telling other people about it, and Nasty is a notorious blabber mouth. Who works at a TV station. Yeah, you get the picture.

So anyboo, Supergirl has developed the picture she took at the house, only in the picture there is no face! Don't front like you're not terrified by now, don't even play that!

She goes back to the house determined to prove she was right lest she face the good-natured condescension of her co-workers. Nasty also heads to the house, correctly believing Linda will investigate as Supergirl. Nasty dons a black cat-suit not unlike Diabolik's. Speaking of outfits, it is important to note at this point Supergirl is wearing a suit made for her by the Kandorians, because she is having a problem with her powers going on and off. The suit can duplicate some of her powers, and is also quite fashion-forward.

Supergirl skulks around the house a bit, admonishing herself with various bits of good, if obvious, advice, and just generally narrating her own adventure, as many of us are wont to do.

Linda deals with being creeped out by continuing to address herself in her thoughts, probably for the sense of detachment that it provides.

Yes, Nasty is so nasty she even blames Supergirl for what are clearly her own decisions. She surrenders to the old man, who says he will call the police. Then he hears sounds of someone else, and that someone else is, of course, the Maid of Might.

Fortunately either her invulnerability holds up or else the suit does. Either way, she manages to apprehend the old man, only now the little girl is missing. Supergirl's frantic search for her reveals something interesting.

I personally don't see how superheroes would find anything "impossible to believe" after a couple years on the job. If we didn't know he was evil before, referring to the little girl as "brat" definitely puts him over the top. She seemed like a pretty well-behaved little ghost. For ghost she was, as Linda later revisits the house and-

So it's another story from the early seventies, again with a creepy house, an old man, and a dead child. It is interesting to note in both cases the child had actually died from a disease and was not murdered, probably a requirement of the Comics Code Authority, which is fine with me.

*(that's a ghostly WhooOOooO, in case that's unclear)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BOO!perheroes Week, Pt. 1: Teen Titans #43 "Inherit the Howling Night!"

The Teen Titans are just hanging around outside a creepy house at night. Well, you know how teens like to loiter, perhaps they thought it was a 7-Eleven. So our story begins with the Teen Titans hanging out outside the creepy house witnessing a group of hideous demons involved in a juggling act with a small boy. Those demons appear to be strictly nogoodniks, so our gang of hipsville adolescents is on the case, tigers!

Kid Flash, being the fastest, goes whipping into the house to put the kibosh on this horrific activity, but it looks as if due to some magical interference he's getting nowhere fast!

Clearly some evil vibes are afoot in this crazy place! The rest of the heroic youngsters are similarly thwarted, until mystically mental Lilith waves some mandrake root at the beasties, causing them to disperse...for now.

The old man tells them a story of the curse that had plagued the dump for years, since around the time of the birth of little Davey, when various implements and weapons took on a life of their own and attacked and killed his mother and his father, the son of the old man. Ever since then there have been numerous attacks by demons and the place is just generally a supernatural bummer. So of course the Titans decide this will make a fabulous place to spend the night.

The next morning, Speedy decides to make an udder freeloader of himself.

Don't have a cow! Ouch!

As Donna enters the barn, some proto-Evil Dead hijinks take place.

Not just in the barn, but in the house as well -

Gonna need a lot of pancakes to mop that up!

Robin is getting off pretty light, especially considering he's watching Davey in the house. The demons use some potent flower scents to knock him out and steal the kid. As usual, it's up to Lilith to try to get down to cases, after they spot a ghost on the stairs that the old man, Cyrus, reveals is his departed daughter-in-law Rebecca.

Lilith's powers give her a technicolor, surround sound vision of how Rebecca was left alone in the house with Davey when he was a baby. The child took ill and before she could do something about it, he died, and she swore to the night she would give her soul to have her child alive again. Obviously someone listened, for the baby was seemingly returned, safe and sound. Only later did the various weird things happen that ended the lives of his parents.

The ghost disappears and the flashback disperses, and the demons are outside again playing hot potato with Davey.

Even when confronted with the supernatural, detective skills can come in handy. Robin is one of the world's greatest detectives. I'm not sure if he comes in 2nd or 3rd, bearing Elongated Man in mind...but even the world's 3rd greatest detective still has to be pretty good, right?

Robin figures out there is something significant where the demons are go-go dancing every night, and has Kid Flash zip out there and uncover it, and what the it is turns out to be a small trunk containing...

...this is years before Beast Boy will change his name to Changeling, by the way. Somehow, Cyrus figures out that what he must do is slay the unclean thing that has been posing as his grandson.

...and so ended the last Titans adventure of their original run. They would be on hiatus after #43 for several years. When they did return, the groovy age was over and the disco age had begun.

Teen Titans seemed like a good place to start BOO!perheroes week, a look at horror in superheroes stories. It's interesting to read the original series and see it evolve from superhero adventure into a horror series. It provides a microcosmic look at how it was that only a few years after the peace and love era, suddenly fascination with the supernatural and monsters was everywhere. In issue #25, in a famous story, the Titans were indirectly responsible for the killing of a peace activist named Dr. Swenson. Bob Haney, as writer, then seemed to have a hard time coming up with solid menaces for the kids to face. After all, if they were fighting crooks and villains, wasn't that really not very peaceful? But as the series started getting further into the seventies, the problem seemed to be resolved by having the Titans fighting ghosts and demons, as you just saw. Even pacifists can't object to fighting monsters, can they? And so we might see how the peace and love era eventually gave way to a new age of horror in entertainment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Horror-a Monsters!

Kickin' off the countdown to Halloween with a kickin' comic ad from 1969. Boo! (Scary boo, not disapproval boo.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some of My Weirder Superman Stuff Pt. 2

This doesn't come with the building back drop. It does come with an iron-on Superman symbol, and as far as I'm concerned history ended with invention of iron-on technology. There's really no way to improve on that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Batman: Brave and the Bold Marathon

Here's the view from my official cartoon-viewing sleeping bag in my bedroom. As I reported yesterday the last couple days I've been doing a B&B marathon, rewatching the early episodes with Season One Volume One DVD I just bought which contains the first thirteen episodes. I love the light Diedrich Bader-voiced Batman and also the often offbeat guest characters. Sometimes they are more beloved of me than at other times, but I always respect the show's producers for digging for less well known characters. I also love the teaser beginnings where we join Bats and a friend in the middle of an adventure, a bit like the opening of a Bond film. My favourite episode of this group might be "The Eyes of Despero" which features a great beginning with Dr. Fate, and then goes into a Green Lantern Corp adventure with Guy Gardner, G'Nort, and a slightly different version of the origin of Sinestro - though the fact that Hal Jordan, who does appear, is absent for most of the origin of his own archenemy does seem a bit strange. In the B&B-verse, Sin seems like more of an archenemy for Guy. Be that as it may, we also get an alternate version of the famous "One punch!" scene. Oh, and of course, Despero is the villain, and the show's designers went with his slightly less aerodynamic original side-to-side head-fin style, in one of many tributes to the Silver Age. And speaking of fins, I enjoy the hail-fellow-well-met, bon vivant, Prince Vultan-esque version of Aquaman, and the "Evil Under the Sea" episode is another favourite. I can sort of take or leave the new Blue Beetle, though I really like the first episode with Kanjar Ro and the awesome gamma gong.

The first episode of the show that I ever caught was "Terror on Dinosaur Island", and I was hooked. They had me at talking gorillas riding giant pterodactyls as steeds.

The Bat-blog has just reported on these neato B&B cars.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Probably Bootleg Superman Shirt

I like to show you some of the stuff in my collection, not in the interest of, "Hey everybody, look at the stuff I've got!" but because I rarely encounter people in real life who appreciate some of the things, so I figure who but comic blog readers can I share it with? Otherwise it's just me which seems like kind of a waste.

Anyway, I am proud of this beauty, which I bought when I was sixteen which means the shirt is now legal to drink in most states. I got it at a store called Records on Wheels in the unfortunately-named city of Regina. It jumped out at me when I was just beginning to admit my lingering love of Superman to myself and everyone around me. I'd gone through a bit of a phase of Superman denial for approximately ages 12-15, when suddenly X-Men was the taste du jour and all else pretty much was considered too far fetched, or something. Not that I really stopped liking Supes. My sister and I watched the Reeve movies about every weekend, it's just that I didn't start getting public about liking Superman until around this time, a phase which has lasted right until the present day.

I guess I chose to begin the era of Superman glasnost by buying an undoubtedly unlicenced shirt, but I definitely thought and still think it's pretty groovy-looking. Over the years it's gotten pretty worn and delicate, so if I wore it around I'd have to be wary of random muscle flexes and stray breezes, but hopefully I'll find some good permanent way to display it.

While the graphic, at first glance, might seem to be Kal contemplating the explosion of Krypton, perhaps in memory, a closer look reveals the continents of the planet Earth, and so this is more like some jaded punk rock thing about how there is no hope, or something. I dunno. I like it cuz it has Superman on it, what can I tell ya?

I apologize for the sporadic post schedule this past week but I've had to put in extra hours at my day job. Mind you, I've also managed to squeeze in watching a lot of Brave and the Bold episodes, having purchased the DVD of Season One, Part One - and oh I hope I do not get burned by not finding a part two and instead having to purchase the entire season if I want to watch the rest. Though I guess it would serve me right for buying bootleg shirts. I do rationalize the occasional bootleg purchase with my certainty of having put thousands of dollars in DC coffers over the years, but who am I kidding? The guilt's killing me.

By the way a school chum once told me that there was a version of this shirt where Supes is saying "Oh $#it". Except with the actual word, but this was a guy who had a tendency to be full of same. Anyway I prefer this one.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Some Stray Thoughts on the 200th Episode of Smallville

- * Possible spoilers.
- I really really enjoyed it.
- Okay, I like that James Marsters is Brainiac Five. Not green, I don't think, though they had kind of an interesting glow on him.
- In fact, the lighting for Smallville in general and this episode in particular is always skilled and interesting.
- Some of Tom's and Erica's best acting as their respective characters.
- So glad to see Clark confront the death of his earthly father in a way that seemed to touch on every previous version of it.
- Also glad Clark may be out of this self-bashing mode.
- Seeing future Clark was way wicked, wicked awesome.
- Also liked the reference to Daily Planet staffer Ron Troupe. Can't remember if they've had him but I don't think so.
- Who else wants a Smallville version of Steve Lombard?
- Ollie needs Clark...awwww.
- Disco ball in a barn, yes!
- Chloe...alive? I hope.
- I caught a spoiler on next week's episode and am pretty excited.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kamandi on 2nd Page Following

This week's selection is another Kamandi panel - now bigger and with more motorcycles! From Kamandi #13. Yes, I've been rereading, almost obsessing over, this crazy title which can be addictive. I am way on the Kirby bandwagon, and especially for the seventies DC stuff - I think what I like is that he had this unfettered, energetic, enthusiastic imagination that was like a kid playing and coming up with the craziest stuff he can think of, coupled with the storytelling skills of a mature and accomplished artist. That's just a very rare combo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Judge Dredd Pinball

I went on a one-man road trip yesterday (Canadian Thanksgiving) to the resort town where my family has a cottage. It was a suprisingly warm day. One of the things I love about the town is the arcades where they have all manner of old video games and pinball. Thought I'd post this pic I took since Judge Dredd is a comic character.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Fantastic Four #110 "Variant"

...and speaking of FF, a while back I went and traded some of my reject comics in to help fill some gaps in collections I'm sticking with. I decided a while back that I was going to start my collection of Fantastic Four where Essentials #5 leaves off, at #110, and fill my collection of originals up to about #400 or so (I collected from the late 200's up as they were coming out). Trouble is, as I was trading I got mixed up and took #110 thinking I had to start there, and the one I took was the one pictured above. Everyone's face looks weird, but I actually thought that was because the witchy woman Agatha Harkness was working some of her magic. Remember the phrase "eldritch glow" that was always in scary comics? That's what I thought was responsible, but after looking on cover browser, I realized the colours of that issue are actually supposed to be natural. Looking into just what it was I had, it is apparently an "initial" print where the colour plates were mixed up, that somehow got released to the unwashed masses. So I'm kinda glad I got mixed up and took this issue, it's neat-looking.

Another FF by-the-by: Did anyone else ever find Franklin Richards scary when his eyes glowed? That just kind of freaked me out as a kid.