Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Comic Quotes Should Be Good for the 2/1 Comic Week

On the side of this blog are a lot of fine blogs where folks talk about comic books. Each week I pick out ten cool quotes about comics from those blogs during the past comic week. I cannot promise that my picks will be thorough, or even the best quotes. They are just quotes that made me laugh or smile or say, "Good line." Please note that the folks who write on this here blog (Comics Should Be Good) are excluded, as it strikes me as a bit too self-serving to quote any of them here. But be assured that I think they are all quite good!

Let's begin!

David Welsh revisits a comic that I previously quoted him on,
This isn’t quite a retraction, per se, because I stand by what I said about Nothing Better #1. But I’m very, very happy to see that Tyler Page is focusing more on incisive observations of college life than highly charged confrontations between members of his cast of students.

Having read the second and third issues of Nothing Better online, I’m delighted to find a sharp, thoughtful, character-driven comic that explores spiritual themes from a variety of perspectives. As much fun as the occasional histrionics of the first issue were, those moments pale in comparison to the smart, detailed character work of the subsequent installments.

And characters move to the forefront in issues two and three, with Jane and Katt navigating around their initial misunderstandings and trying to handle the big and small issues that come with living on your own for the first time. Part-time jobs, the cost of books, what happens when you die – all are addressed in ways that are frank, subtle, and specific to the people involved. (Page even manages to do credible, engaging renderings of the act of teaching, which is right up there with journalism in terms of professions that have been mangled by comics.)

I can’t say I’ll ever be crazy about reading comics online. I like to be able to see each page as a whole and to hold it in my hands. But I’m very glad that Page has made the books available in this way, because it lets me follow his cast as it evolves and matures.
Jog once again picks me up by doing a good review on a comic I really, really should have reviewed here, Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #3,
There’s a lot of bits of commentary in this issue - Morrison depicts the convention scene as basically a wasteland of misplaced superstar posturing, vapid exchanges of information, and undisguised sexploitation (the somewhat sparse turnout for the ‘Sweethearts and Supervixens’ panel was a nice touch, as was Thumbelina’s costume design). And just in case anyone happened to forget the ongoing industry critique of this project, Morrison has Mind Grabber Man pretty much spell it out:

“I’m a damn good guy and I want to be recognized for that before all my potential just… just turns sour with neglect. Instead I’m caught up in a nostalgia freakshow that never ends. Look at us. Selling our precious memories for bed and board, reliving the times when our hopes reached the high water mark… and then just receded… I’m not like any of those losers!”

Surely the intent behind this project’s extended delving into the revamping of old superheroes can’t be more explicitly put than that! It’s not just ‘the industry convention as metaphor for the industry itself,’ though there’s some of that too, it’s also another summation of the project’s aims, which exist on both within and without the confines of the story itself (in that it’s both about the act of revamping superhero properties and the actual transformations that characters themselves undergo). It’s probably too blunt here for my tastes, actually, but at least it arises through some genuine character motivation and development - and besides, Bulleteer also seems to be the place for Morrison’s little confessions and times for sounding off, what with last issue’s apparent acknowledgement of the project not really working as a series of miniseries anymore.

Ironically enough, Bulleteer is working a bit better than average as its own thing, as evaluated from a strict ‘plot points’ perspective. The bits with Vigilante constitute a really big plot twist for the overall plot, though his participation in Bulleteer itself is fairly consistent, and nicely set up from last issue to this. It’s maybe the kind of moment that makes you a bit mad, as you catch a glimpse of the project’s plots suddenly working on several structural levels at once, though I hasten to add that every series does retain their own individual mood and themes, if not anything in the way of a conclusive ending. More and more I wonder if Morrison has been forced to hedge his bets - a nice, 30-issue maxiseries for those who desire sealed-off endings and thorough A-to-B-to-C resolutions, and individual (more open-ended) spins on motivation and other character work for each miniseries. This necessarily sacrifices the pleasure of those who desire closed-off plot resolutions for the individual miniseries, and I suppose it’d have been nice if Morrison had been able to pull that off too. But following Seven Soldiers in serialization is partially a study in careful compromises, apportioning strengths where they need to go when it’s discovered that they can’t cover everything.
Scott (not the Polite one) takes a look at the Essential Defenders Volume 1,
I was given the Essential Defenders for Christmas and I was thrilled to dig into it, since I haven't read any of the earliest issues and I knew that some interesting writers and artists worked on the title. When I was a young comic book reader, the Defenders always got a bad rap simply because they weren't the JLA or the Avengers. My comic book peers didn't seem to realize how it was interesting to see how a group of second-tier heroes interacted and dealt with threats to Earth. I have very fond memories of reading and re-reading the 100th anniversary issue, which made me a fan of the Silver Surfer for life.

I have to admit that I have to give this Volume 1 a fairly mixed reviews, as it comes across (like so many post-1970 Marvel titles) as extremely schizophrenic. Here goes nothing:

The Good

1. The introduction of Valkyrie really added a lot to the team and the title. Making her a permanent fixture in the Marvel Universe (from her initial temporary existence from Avengers #83) was handled well and was very creative.
2. The issues featuring the Squadron Sinister (and the Extreme Makeover of Nighthawk) was great, and far superior to the Avengers issues.
3. The art is consistently good (which is rare for a Marvel book in the 70s). Nice stuff from the Andru/Everett team and just about any of the inkers seems to be a good fit for Sal Buscema's pencils.

The Bad

1. Part of it is personal, as two of the key members (Dr. Strange and Sub-Mariner) were never my favourite Marvel heroes.
2. Another aspect of the book (especially the earliest issues), is that they are too full of the mysticism that seemed to be all the rage in Bronze Age Marvel books. All of the interdimensional demon stuff has never been my cup of tea (that's probably why I've never really connected with Dr. Strange.
3. I could have lived without the pre-Marvel Feature issues. While I realize they explain how the 3 core characters first hooked up - they felt disjointed and really suffered from what I mentioned in #2 above.
4. After all of the great things I've heard, the Avenger/Defenders war was quite a let down.

The Ugly

1. The production quality is variable, some of the reprinted pages are quite murky and one of the cover reprints barely fit onto the page. The binding on this volume does, however, hold together better than some of the other Essential books (hello Iron Fist).
Jon Cormier tries some movie comparisons with Local and Nextwave,
Local, like Nextwave, are two books where I find myself actually liking the art more than the story being told. For me, good comics are a combination. One needs to work with the other, however, I tend to forgive a lot if the plot, characters and other bits where the writer has more sway are stronger than the art. That’s just where I come from and what I bring to the medium. I’ve got too many English degrees not be drawn towards that aspect of comics. I can forgive artists a lot because I don’t feel overly qualified to critique them too much.

So yeah, Nextwave. If Local is the experimental indy film, Nextwave is the slapstick comedy. Again I think a lot of what made Nextwave funny simply works better in film or other hot media. Whereas in Local I was drawn out by reading the same dialogue repeatedly, in Nextwave I think a lot of the humour involved would be funnier if delivered by live actors. Again, not that it isn’t funny or that comics can’t be funny – but the humour seemed to be based around character acting. I simply think it’s best if the characters aren’t static. Yes I think the art is dynamic and awesomely so, but even dynamic characters can’t deliver a line the way an actor can. It’s left to the reader to interpret too much. So while I think the art is dynamic, it still can't help but remain static on the page.

I do think that Nextwave is like the ultimate comic insider comedy. I just don’t feel like enough of an insider yet to get it all. So while a few of you will now call for me to be expelled from comic blogdom, that’s my bit. I hope it gives a balance to the overwhelming love these books have been given. I felt like a leper or a communist for not liking them as much as what I’ve read out there. But hey, I like All-Star Superman. I don’t completely suck.
Jake at Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge, takes an amusing look at Fantastic Four Annual #4, the first appearance of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man,
Jamie is excited to see someone else who is "different." Thing, unfortunately, is in no mood to play ambassador and when Madrox doesn't get off the track, Ben Grimm decides to settle things with his fists.

Thing weighs about 500 pounds, can lift more than 80 tons, and is covered in a rock-like hide, yet his first punch bounces off Madrox. A second punch causes Madrox to multiply and the two lay Thing out in one punch.Thing tries to fight the Multiple Man, but every hit just adds new opponents. The Madroxes toss around the man who's held his own against the Hulk on many occassions as though he were a malnourished second grader fighting a yeti.

Six hours later, he wakes up in the Baxter Building, conveniently, just as Jamie Madrox is approaching. For some reason, Madrox has been walking from Queens into Manhattan, attracted to the Baxter Building "as a moth is drawn to a flame." As he walks, every electrical anything behind him goes dead.So far, he's beaten the Thing within an inch of his life and killed every electrical appliance in New York City. He also inexplicably makes it to the roof of the Baxter Building... somehow, where he meets Johnny Storm and needs all of one punch to take the Torch out of the fight.The punch so discombobulates Human Torch that he loses his flame and plummets from the roof toward certain death if not for the quick thinking and long reach of Mr. Fantastic.

Seeing as his two teammates have had their asses handed to them, Reed decides to go for the trifecta, using his stretchy powers to bind Madrox. To his credit, Mardox doesn't take him out with one punch and he does last longer than either Thing or Torch, but the end result is still the same.For the record, he smacks around Medusa (who was the replacement to Sue at the time) later as well. In the midst of the fight, Professor X shows up in a helicopter and tells us some of Jamie's biographical information. Madrox politely waits in the wings for the exposition to finish before unleashing his rage and a horrific smackdown upon the guys who made Galactus turn around and leave.

When Jamie was born, his powers were immediately apparent when the doctor slapped him on the butt and his turned into two babies. Jamie's dad, one of the nation's top scientists, abandonned his work on projects like solving world hunger to move to the middle of Kansas, far from anyone else, and raise his son in issolation. This was, we learn later, at the suggestion of Professor X. He invented for Jamie a suit that dampened the impacts that caused him to multiply.

When Jamie was fifteen, a tornado killed both his parents. He continued to live alone for six more years until electrical appliances started blowing up around him for no reason. At that point, he decided to walk from Kansas to New York, during which time no one noticed him until he stepped on the subway tracks in Queens.

Xavier figures out the suit is malfunctioning because no one has maintained it since Jamie's dad died. Raising several more questions than it answered.Where to begin? If some of the circuits are blown, removing them won't fix the problem. They'd need to be replaced. If the bulb in a lamp blows out, you don't light up the room just by unscrewing it. Second, Jamie's suit is designed to prevent his multiplying, disconnecting it won't prevent him duplicating again. Third, his suit, again, dampens impacts and prevents duplication. It doesn't give him superstrength nor invulnerability to fire. When the malfunction first occurs, it causes him great pain as the suit soaks up all the power of a TV and a blender. Shouldn't all the electricity of at least two boroughs have killed him? The explanation is given that somehow the power is fueling him, making him super strong and--I guess--giving him some kind of force field.

It's a stupid explanation.

Anyway, the team that regularly faces off with Dr. Doom every other Tuesday and consistantly kicks his ass steels its courage and hopes against hope it can hold its own against another onslaught from Madrox. Reed Richards wrestles the original and fixes his suit while the rest of the FF pray their deaths with be quick and with honor. Fortunately, they have Professor X's power to elongate his head on their side. I forgot until I read this a second time that not everyone knew Professor X was a mutant at this time, so his pulling out the telepathy was a big deal.

The Professor thanks the Fantastic Four for their help and takes the unconscious Jamie Madrox for deprogramming.

Today, Madrox is a private detective who uses his duplicates to gather information for him, making it hard to believe he once was just one telepathic "Sleep, Jamie. Sleep." suggestion away from stomping a mudhole in the Beyonder.
Dave Ferraro takes an interesting look at Secret Comics Japan, an anthology of "underground” or “secret” manga,
Fortunately, after these first two entries, the book improves dramatically, as all of the remaining pieces are good to excellent. Yoshitomo Yoshimoto’s “Jr.” presents a very silly premise (Jr. is a 32-year old elementary school student…it is never explained why), which is interrupted by moments of shocking violence and pornography. Very well drawn, with characters you come to care about despite the brevity of the tale and the absurdity of the premise. Kiriko Nananan’s two short stories, “Heartless Bitch” and “Painful Love” are too brief to prove really satisfying in and of themselves, but do work well as samples from an obviously talented cartoonist. Shintaro Kago’s “Punctures” seems to be a story the artist made up as he went along, utilizing grotesque horror images to great effect. Benkyo Tamaoki’s “Editor Woman” is a funny and well crafted example of pornographic manga, which Shiratori suggests may be the last true “underground” manga in Japan. The sex is explicit and no doubt “useful,” but there is a surprising amount of interaction between the characters while fully clothed, and it’s clear that Tamaoki cares about his characters, and wants his readers to care about them, as well.

One of the best pieces in the book was Makoto Aida’s “Mutant Hanako.” A fine artist who wished to become a manga artist, Aida originally created “Mutant Hanako” as an addendum to one of his art exhibits, printed on ultra cheap newsprint and limited to 300 bound copies. The story is drawn in unlinked, crude pencils, and is at once a critique and a celebration of manga. The outrageous story involves Hanako, a young girl (she is nude throughout much of the story) and her battle against the Americans (depicted as demons) during World War II, as they attempt to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. She is unsuccessful in her attempt, and ends up strapped, naked, to the bomb as it is dropped on the city. The explosion (described by one of the Americans as a “big cock of smoke!”) and its aftermath are depicted in all of their gory detail, with one particularly disgusting scene of a girl’s slow disintegration from radiation poisoning. Miraculously, Hanoko survives, reborn as the super powered Mutant Hanako, and she joins together with a young boy to once again battle the Americans. The story doesn’t end there, and goes on to involve a good deal more outrageous violence and sex (between the two apparently adolescent protagonists), all gleefully depicted in lurid detail. Clearly, Aida does not intend this work to be taken seriously, which is exactly the point. As a fine artist, Aida admires the freedom manga artists have to indulge their more prurient interests, but is critical of them as well. The story’s treatment of the atomic bomb points out Aida’s feelings that examining serious themes through an inherently juvenile medium is ridiculous at best and offensive at worst. I’m not sure I agree with this idea (in fact, I’m fairly certain that I don’t), but I admire Aida’s creative way of examining the issue.
Mark Singer begins his slow descent into Grant Morrison madness with his second Morrisonarama,
Here's where I make some very belated contributions to conversations that began while I was otherwise occupied...

...Happily, even though it features a tour and a mystery inside the Fortress of Solitude All-Star Superman #2 doesn't retell "The Super-Key to Fort Superman," one of the most grossly over-homaged stories of the Silver Age. No, Morrison does an end run around comics entirely and retells the legend of Bluebeard instead. An inquisitive woman (who contemplates her future as Superman's wife), a forbidden room, intimations of a horrifying fate... is this what Morrison meant when he talked about "science fiction folk tales" and a mythology for the modern age?

...Mister Miracle seems to be the least popular of the Seven Soldiers miniseries, but Shilo Norman's torments in the third issue have struck a chord with some readers, redeeming the earlier issues at least partially. Unfortunately, I had just the opposite reaction.

It all gets off to a swell start as Shilo loses his career to an imitator, his friends to an emotionally numbing fad, and, temporarily, his sense of self-worth to the Anti-Life Equation, cutely rendered as a meme so horrific that Dark Side's word balloon can't even represent it lest we go mad. This triggers a wonderfully-executed three-page sequence that carries Shilo through the dark nights of the soul experienced by his fellow male New Yorker Soldiers in their third issues. As Jog ably comments (at the above link), the scene works as an overt psychologization of Kirby's concerns in the original Fourth World comics and as a kind of magnification or explication of the story formula that all the other Seven Soldiers series follow. So far so good.

The problems begin when Metron shows up to inspire Shilo with some words of confidence and a simple display of human kindness. This is very much in the tradition of Kirby's Fourth World, where the most fondly regarded issues built up to charged, apocalyptic epiphanies: Scott Free's insistence on his own independence in "Himon," the pacifist son's final battle and transformation in "The Glory Boat," or--perhaps my favorite scene in the Kirby canon--Izaya's renunciation of Darkseid's methods and his search for a better way in "The Pact."

But Kirby allowed those transformative scenes to sprawl for pages, serving as the climaxes for their entire chapters, whereas Morrison tosses Shilo's torment and resistance out in a single page; Shilo is saved by two word balloons and a single panel reminding him that Dark Side's equations don't account for everything in the human condition. There may be single panels capable of conveying such a stirring renunciation of despotism and depression, but the cloying picture of two nice gentlemen helping ladies don their coats in the rain isn't one of them. (I do like the background detail of the Manhattan Superhero Museum, a reminder of all the qualities Morrison loves about superheroes--their selflessness, for example--that refute Dark Side's equations. But the weight of Metron's counterargument and Shilo's resistance have to rest on something more substantial, and the two courteous gentlemen just don't cut it.) Morrison follows it up with yet another round of torment, this time more physical, and a visit from Dark Side and another visit from the fallen gods of New Genesis, which promises a last chance I'd rather not see advertised at this cliffhanger point in the miniseries.

I don't necessarily mind the placement of Shilo's redemptive epiphany so far in advance of the series' climax--Peter Hesnel observes that Mister Miracle is following the basic plotline of the Jesus myth and so this third issue, the dark night of transformation in Jog's formula, is a Kirbyesque take on the temptation in the desert/garden. The big finish and the real moment of redemption will no doubt reserved for next issue, when Shilo Norman puts his modern spin on the most famous escape trick of all time--The Empty Tomb! But the pacing of this third issue is too rushed to do justice to the Kirby epiphanies it so clearly wants to echo. I never thought Grant Morrison would have me longing for the days of narrative decompression, but there you go.
Ragnell takes an interesting look at the major death in Rann Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special,


Jade, however, had survived a Lantern-wide purge and a cursed boyfriend through the grace of her family ties.

I always had problems with that aspect of her concept. Jade was guaranteed a certain amount of panel-time due to comic-book nepotism. She inherited, if not in-character, butmetatextuallyy, a certain amount of status from her father. She was a princess, present in stories because of her royal connections. The plotlines were dependent on her father, her brother, or her boyfriend. She was defined by them, she was "the Good Daughter" "The Strong Sister" and "The Supportive Lover/Helper" -- she was teacher, mother, daughter, sister, nuturer to the men of the Green Lantern books. She was always defined as reliable and skilled in dialogue. Nightwing called her a "veteran," Kyle called her "the better hero" and Kilowog described her as a "True Lantern" -- she's never had any actions to cement these definitions, but this is how the males around her define her. Mostly, she offered sympathy, a helping hand (but not too much of one) and a supportive shoulder. She tied generations and legacies together as a romantic tie.

No wonder her character became so reviled for the "Cheating plotline." She violated the sacred trust, the sacred contract. She was Guinevere, a princess with an inheritance, tearing the kingdom asunder for passion (and, before you side with her -- passion for a man who did not respect her enough to be faithful to her!). One of her 3 chief bonds, the relationships that defined her character was severed by her thoughtless actions. Her concept as a supportive woman was destroyed.

This wasn't just a mistake. This was a characterization catastrophe. At the core of her very concept wasfamilyl and unity -- bringing generations together, and here she was shutting the door on the latest generation of Lanterndom. This woman who was built on family was becoming a divisive presence in the family.

And so, for the anti-feminist basis on which her concept was built (a womandependentt on males for definition, a female fundamentally less powerful than similar males) in addition to a complete lack of anything of interest in her personality, I always figured it was best that she die. There was an entire Corps of Alien Lanterns out there. We had nuturers in the form of Kilowog and Guy, rough and tough and manly but still supportive caretakers at heart. Our alien females had been young students (Arisia), nuturers (Brik,sherifff Mardin), warriors (Boodika, Laira) and sharp thinkers (Katma and now Soranik). Better to get rid of Jade and her nepotism now, and give some others some screentime, maybe a resurrection or two.

I feel bad now. I was hoping for a noble end to a much maligned character. I figured she'd get a nice swansong, with a good show of power, the chance to save the life of Alan (beloved father), Kyle (spurned lover), or, to really make her selfless, Donna (traditional rival). I mean, Blue Beetle got a decent farewell.

No such luck.

Jennie's quiet and demur, and clearly missed Kyle and regrets the split. She's the sweet young lady from Infinity Inc again. Kyle and her are a comfortable pair of old lovers who've been apart long enough to forget why they were apart in the first place.

She acts to boost his confidence. She tells him he's the creative one (sadly true), how much this feels like old times, and of course, warns him that the enemy will betargetingg him, as he is the bigger threat (which, yes, he is. Jade's always portrayed as a lesser Lantern than a member of the Corps). This used to be her vital role in Kyle's life, but he no longer needs someone to do that.

She is there to help and protect, but she does not die doing so. She's behind him when lightning strikes her.

It was disappointed.

A mediocre end for a mediocre Lantern.

Perhaps the most suitable one, however.

Remember Power of Ion? Jennie had lost her personal power, but was given power in the form of a ring by Kyle. During this storyline, he "awakens" her personal power again, because she cannot do it alone (I was uneasy with this one when I first read it). I don't think Kyle was lying. I think he's very good at deluding himself. It's revealed at Jennie's death that in truth the power she had was his gift all along. He protests, but she insists on returning it.

Perhaps this is a good feminist parable. A truth to illustrate what happens when you draw not on your own personal strength, but on power allotted by the men in your life.
Tim O'Neil writes a nice letter to Marvel comics, which might get him on that A&E show, Intervention,
Dear Marvel Comics,

First, thanks for publishing so many Essential volumes, and for publishing artist-specific hardcover tributes which - even if I can't afford to buy them all - are still something we'll probably never see from DC. So I appreciate that.

But more importantly - and the reason I am writing you today - I want to ask what the hell you're thinking re: this whole new costume for Spider-Man thing. I'm not asking this as a fan - because I don't buy any Spider-Man comic books anymore, and I haven't in a long time. I'm merely asking this as someone concerned for the mental health and well-being of everyone responsible.

There's an old saying that goes something along the lines of "insanity consists of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different resutls each time". I've heard this attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but the provenance is possibly older. It's a recurring idea in addiction literature, particular the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous: if drinking leads to negative, self-destructive and injurious consequences, why do so many alcoholics rationalize their backsliding behavior with the old "one drink won't hurt me" shtick? They've seen, time and again, that one drink leads to two drinks leads to losing your wife and children and job, but somehow, if they've got a little bit of sobriety under their belt, they think that just one beer will be enough to tide them over . . .

Now, imagine a comic book company as an alcoholic. It's easy to understand why certain negative behaviors are repeated year in and year out - because the negative repurcussions are so far removed from the original incident that it's easy for an institution to forget. People don't seem to have a memory for these types of things that goes back longer than a few months, let alone years or decades, so the same mistakes get made over and over again. No one wants to remember that certain behaviors have negative consequences because it's easy to lose track when the short-term results are so gratifying. But some negative consequences are more immediate.

If you will allow me to mix my metaphors: if the comic book company is a recovering alcoholic / drug addict, the different sales gimmicks and strategies represent differing levels of drug abuse. Something like a line-wide crossover is so ubiquitous and accepted that it's essentially the equivalent of chain-smoking cigarettes. The short term gains are small but the long term negative consequences are such that it's easy to pretend that they don't exist - until you've been smoking for thirty years and your doctor tells you that you have six months to live. You probably know, in your head that you should quit, but it's just so easy to smoke one more pack . . .

Something like buying your own distributor and trying to leverage a dwindling retailer base with strong-arm tactics . . . that's more like smoking heroin out of the skull of an iguana after downing half a bottle of 151 while careening down the LA Freeway at 90 miles an hour. If you live at all, the hazy memory of your brush with death will probably keep you on the straight-and-narrow for a good long while.

But changing Spider-Man's costume, that's like crack cocaine: a cheap, nasty high that lasts just a few minutes and results in long-term health problems. Everyone knows its a short-term thing. No one even pretends that any new Spider-Man costume is ever going to stick around. It's going to be a punchline in six months, if it isn't already. There really is no excuse: you can't even say it's about merchandising anymore, because really, there's not exactly a huge market for Scarlet Spider or Web-Armor Spider-Man action figures. No - the only gains to be had are an extremely short term blip in sales that results from morbid curiosity, and then the long, long hangover that results in having chipped away at a little more of the dignity that Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita originally gave the character.

It's a joke. Everyone seems to know it's a joke but the people actually responsible. Why is this? They don't seem to be particularly unintelligent. They are, each of them, perfectly capable of producing good work. And yet - somehow, they are pooling their resources with the stated goal of doing something that has already been done half a dozen times, doesn't work, has never worked, and only gets worse as the years go by. I wonder - I really, really do - how these decisions are made.

You may be asking yourself - what about the first time? The black costume was pretty cool. To which I will answer: yes, despite it's somewhat shifty origins in Secret Wars, the black costume was pretty cool. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it improved on the original (surely an impossible task), but it was damn striking, a minimal design meant for maximum visual impact. It was just plain cool. And then what? They turned the costume into Venom, which is the comics equivalent of using heroin with a dirty needle and contracting Hep-C. Your liver is scarred forever and your life expectancy is significantly shortened. Sucks, don't it?

So, yeah, it's just not a good idea. It's not too late, Marvel, you can still put down the pipe and retain some of your dignity. It's not as if I'm personally invested in the decision, but it makes me wonder why certain people are inexplicably drawn to jackass behavior, despite every rational impulse that should be popping into their heads. Listen to the voice of reason. Do it for the children.

Thank you.
Chris Sims buys himself another week of living by explaining to us just how creepy Terry Long was,
Ah, romance! Yes, friends, it's Febrary, the Month of Love. And what better way to celebrate the lead-up to Valentine's Day here on the ISB by pouring all of my bitterness into a few of the Worst Comics Relationships of All Time. And what better way to kick things off than with the creepeist Significant Other in the history of comics:

Terry Long

Terry, for those of you who don't know, managed to hook up with--and eventually marry--foxy young Amazon Donna Troy despite being a complete and utter creepy loser.

Sound a bit harsh? Let's take a look at the facts. According to his Who's Who entry, Terry is a divorced ex-college professor who was unable to gain tenure due to severe writer's block. As of November of 1988, he was working in a bookstore with plans to write a book on mythology.

Total. Loser.

Failed marriage, fired from his job for slacking off, and working retail with vague plans to become a writer. You know this guy. He shops at my store, and he's totally into Spawn. And yet, allow me to stress this one more time, he marries Donna Troy.

Apparently, the DC Universe has absolutely no concept of being "out of one's league."

Even more than that, though, the guy's just a creep. Every single comic I've read where he appears, he ends up awkwardly hitting on Starfire with a quiet "just puttin' it out there" sort of desperation, often while Donna's in the room. Stuff like: "Hey, Kory, you sure do fill out that swimsuit! Maybe the three of us could head out to the hot tub and start making out with each other--HA-HA, I'm just kidding (but not really)."

Three panels of that guy, and you'll never feel truly clean again. It's probably just his afro and porn-star beard, but throw in his sweaty come-ons to Starfire and he starts giving off a vibe that makes him seem like a pedophile. I'm sure it just comes from the fact that he's trying to fit in with Donna's cool friends, but the fact that he's a former professor and she appears in a book called Teen Titans sure doesn't help matters much.

And apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. The Who's Who Update in which Terry's creepy ass appears, features a wraparound cover by Ty Templeton depicting Ma and Pa Kent throwing a barbeque for all the DCU supporting characters. And who should be enjoying a hamburger out back but creepy-ass Terry himself. Have a look:

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Even Maxwell Lord, who shot Blue Beetle in the head and made Superman hallucinate the murder of his own wife, is totally creeped out. That's a pose that says "Get the fuck away from me, you creepy little man." An appropriate and understandable reaction, considering that he's wearing a blue and yellow polka-dotted speedo and a longsleeve green polo shirt.

No wonder General Eiling looks like he's about to beat his ass on general principle.

Tug's pet theory about this little slice-of-life is that Max was so disturbed by this encounter that once he was the head of Checkmate, he arranged Terry's fatal "accident."

Donna Troy, what the hell were you thinking?
Thanks, folks, for providing me with so many great quotes! See you next week!

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Blogger joncormier said...

Finally, I get a place in these hallowed halls. That was my new year's resolution. Glad that didn't take too long. Now, to get some positive stuff quoted.

2/08/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

All due respect, I like this feature but sometimes think it might work better with shorter quotes. It's rather draining to read the whole thing, and when you reach the point that you're excerpting whole posts from other blogs I think you might be going too far.

Not trying to be overcritical or anything. It's just a thought.

2/08/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Nah, you're probably right, Patrick, but I keep finding that when I put up excerpts, the quotes lose a lot of context.

And a good deal of the above posts ARE excerpts (which is freaky, as they are so BIG!).

That being said, I do agree with you. I thought this week was too long, as well. I'll try to keep the quotes shorter in the future (context be damned!!)

2/08/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Well, I've been recognized. Now I can retire from comic blogging while I'm on top.

2/08/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

I like 'em longer. More to read.

Damn, that Terry Long bit was good.

2/09/2006 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

That Tim O'Neil letter to marvel was bloody hilarious. And right on, of course.

2/09/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog . I don't really know a lot about Human Anatomy study or art, but that's just my 2 cents. Really great job though, Krudman! Keep up the good work!

7/24/2008 12:53:00 AM  
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