Summerslam for Comic Fans

August 15th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Tonight we have what I guess would be considered the WWE’s third most important show of the year, Summerslam. I mean, on paper, it’s supposed to be the secondary Wrestlemania, but everyone and their imaginary friend loves Royal Rumble more. I look forward to the show despite the roadblocks it sets up. There are only six matches signed. One of these matches is a throwaway Divas match I couldn’t care less about. One of the championship matches is Rey Mysterio vs. Kane and while I love Kane and don’t mind Mysterio, I don’t need to be reminded of their abysmal, “Is he alive or is he dead?” feud.

So why am I so jazzed about the show? Team WWE vs. the Nexus in an elimination tag match. The Nexus has been one of the better wrestling storylines in past years, despite its own set of roadblocks (Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson being fired, Wade Barrett’s visa problems, Ricky Steamboat’s injury). I can only hope the storyline doesn’t get killed as of the end of Summerslam, yet at the same time, I don’t want them to last long enough to get destroyed by a returning Triple H. God, I really don’t want to see Triple H involved with this in any way.

For those new to the big main event, here it is laid out DC Comics style.

(click for bigger version)

Let’s see who we got on here…

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Alfred, No!

December 18th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell


Yes, he did. 

No, not like that.

Of course.

This panel is from a story in the Batman 80-Page Giant issue that came out on Wednesday.  In  it, Alfred picks up a hooker who looks to be in her late teens or early twenties.  He takes her out to a fancy party, while she’s still in her street wear.  People talk, Alfred makes a scene defending her, and they get kicked out.  He suggests they go up to a room.

There’s a panel in which the girl is in the bathroom, freshly showered and in a towel.  She’s looking at herself in the mirror saying, “You can do this,” while Alfred, visible through the open door but turned away from her, sits on the bed in the main bedroom.

Then she comes out in full snow gear (boots, pants, sweater, gloves, had, scarf), and he tells her she looks wonderful.  They go to the bus station, he tells her that he has had her criminal record erased and puts her on a bus headed for home.

The story should work, but it doesn’t.  Not quite.  And the reason it doesn’t is in that first panel.  There are plenty of comics that make it look like something morally questionable is happening, only to reveal the character’s noble intentions, but by leaning too hard on the double meanings, this story buries its own point.

The point is that Alfred is trying to do right by this girl.  He’s insisting that people treat her with respect and give her a chance to shed her past.  But that’s not really happening in the story. 

A respectful person doesn’t take a woman to a party when he knows that she’ll be ridiculed there.  Alfred can afford a dress for this girl, and has clearly shopped for her.  Still, instead of letting her wear something appropriate, he exposes her to ridicule.  Fighting for the girl’s honor doesn’t ring true after her deliberately brought her somewhere she’d feel self-conscious in inappropriate dress.

Then there’s the matter of Alfred sitting on a bed with the door open while a girl showers in the next room.  I can count on one hand the number of times Alfred has sat down in a chair on panel.  And I can’t imagine he wouldn’t close the door when a girl was changing in the next room.  But they need to make it look like something might happen, so they make him do something out of character.

Then there’s the last scene, in which Alfred announces that he spent the night with a prostitute.  This is a page after he told the girl that she didn’t have to worry about her old life catching up with her and she could have a ‘fresh start.’ 

The story follows the letter and not the spirit of this character’s code of conduct.  In going out of its way to portray Alfred as gentlemanly, it keeps him from being a gentleman.

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Fourcast! 19: Adam Warlock vs Alfred Beagle

October 5th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental provides a prelude to our latest Continuity Off: Adam Warlock vs Alfred. As in, Batman’s Alfred versus the Golden Messiah.

I break Warlock down from Kirby/Lee to Jim Starlin to the current incarnation, a feat which takes forever, and Esther explains how Alfred a) is 90 years old and b) was in love with a woman who could be his great grand-daughter and was also just a little older than Tim Drake. Whooo!

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Something Jumped Out At Me From The Battle For The Cowl Promo Image.

February 7th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell


Obviously, the winner, as previously suggested on this site, should be Ted Kord, who I am assuming is not in the picture in order to preserve the element of surprise.

But if it ends up being Alfred?  In that uniform?  It’s all been worth it.

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The Dark Knight: The Deleted Scenes

August 1st, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Usually, whenever a big comic book movie comes out, I’m there with a little article about comparing the film to the novelization. After all, the novelizations are based on earlier scripts of the movie and shed some light on what was taken out. Sometimes things are for the better. Sometimes they’re for the worse.

There’s a reason I’m so late with the Dennis O’Neil adaptation of Dark Knight. While the books for Marvel movies come out about a month or so before release, it was decided, for spoiler purposes likely, that Dark Knight would be released as a strict-on-sale title. It came out the same day as the movie, but my Barnes and Noble didn’t receive it until days later. As a fun aside, O’Neil himself came to the store, wondering if we had it yet.

At first I wasn’t even going to bother. Reading the book after seeing the movie didn’t sound like as much fun. That decision changed after seeing what I have to call the best movie of the summer. I picked up a copy and spent the next week or so reading it.

I should point out that this is going to be spoiler-heavy, but this is a comic site and you are a person reading a comic site. If you haven’t seen Dark Knight by now and haven’t at least been spoiled about the scene where David Allen Grier appears as Oswald Cobblepot, then there’s probably something wrong with you.

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July 11th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Basically, my interpretation of Batman is this: Batman loves his job. There’s more to it, of course, but that’s the most important bit.

Part of Batman enjoying his job means that the “Bruce Wayne is the mask” interpretation is both true and false. In the sense that Bruce Wayne is overall expendable and exists solely to provide income for Batman, it is definitely untrue. As Jon Bernhardt says in this piece for Funnybook Babylon, Bruce Wayne as Mask is a drastic misreading of Dark Knight Returns, and antithetical to the idea of Batman.

In essence, Batman wears two masks. One is the Batman mask– it’s an urban Zorro. The other is Playboy Bruce Wayne, and that one is an exercise in theatrical distraction. Playboy Bruce Wayne provides the perfect alibi. Who’d believe that this flighty guy could ever do anything worthwhile? This is part of the reason that Bruce Wayne hasn’t had a lasting relationship. The Playboy role is a barrier against that.

The Batman mask, though, is the interesting one. Bruce Wayne is, at heart, damaged goods. When his parents were murdered in front of his eyes, Bruce Wayne immediately went from innocent to lost. He can’t make the same emotional connections that other people do. Look at his best friends– all costumes. Does Bruce Wayne have non-costumed, or non-costume related, friends? Lucius Fox, perhaps.

Bruce is incapable of sustaining a regular relationship. He connects best with the other people who wear costumes, or run in those same circles. Look at his long-term on-again/off-again relationship with Catwoman. Look at Zatanna and Wonder Woman. Maybe it’s just a side effect of the job and shared experiences, but he tends to hang with super-women.

Anyway, going from innocent to lost doesn’t mean that you stop being a kid inside. The Batman mask and persona, if you think about it, are the reaction of a kid who had his childhood stolen from him. He puts on a mask and a cape, emulating his favorite hero, and fights the thing that hurt him when he was a child. He goes out at night and plays at being a hero. Look at Batman’s conduct. He puts on a gruff voice and uses parlor tricks to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, who are “a superstitious and cowardly lot.” He’s acting like something he thinks criminals would be afraid of.

Though, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love his job. Being Batman is what Bruce Wayne uses as an outlet for his aggression. One thing Frank Miller does in All-Star Batman that I love is that he writes a Bruce Wayne who has a childlike glee at being Batman. Everything from the dialogue to the inner monologue speaks to a man who is a) acting (he’s deciding which persona to put on before he strikes), b) acting poorly (Dick Grayson sees through him immediately), and c) loves doing it anyway (“Every inch of me is alive“). He strikes with a laugh, rather, “the laugh” because he knows it scares criminals. He makes it a point to use theatrics when he fights. It gives him an advantage in the fight and it lets him playact.

I mean, for real, though. That giant t-rex and all those other trophies were in the cave before Robin got there. That’s Brucie at work.

Batman is a dark, serious, brooding, and violent knight, but he’s also someone who has to enjoy what he does. He likes getting out there, acting gruff, and breaking bones. He likes being able to make people safe and striking terror into the heart of criminals. In DKSA, this is best shown by the scene where he’s relaxing and leaning back in his Batplane, hands behind his head and feet up on the console. “Striking terror. Best part of the job.”

Batman is also that guy who is scarily competent at everything. It isn’t that he’s a genius. He’s just a person of maybe slightly above-average intelligence who applies himself. He studies and practices and trains with a fervor most people don’t ever employ. He can place the origins of accents by simply hearing them, give you the etymology of certain words and which poems they were used in and why, and even track a wolf eighteen miles through the underbrush. Why? Because he thought it’d be a good idea to know all these things.

He’s the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. In hindsight, he essentially spent the remainder of his childhood studying to become the Batman. He travelled the world, studied martial arts, science, and who knows what else solely so that he could be the best at his job. He turned himself into a detective of incredible skill just in case he needed it later. He’s an obsessive amongst obsessives, if that makes sense. Capo di tutti capi.

Finally, Batman has to have Robin. Robin is the perfect foil for Batman. Where Batman is the guy who lost his childhood, but never really left it behind, Robin is the child that came close to losing his, but managed to find it again. Batman isn’t so much a father figure to Robin as a big brother. They go and hang out together and play all the same games.

Robin existing gives both of them a chance to win back some lost humanity. They can use each other for moral support, since they are so similar in origin, and when that doesn’t work, they can go out and bust heads together. For Bruce, Robin is in danger of going down the same path he did. He’s lost his parents in a tragedy, just like Bruce did, but being Robin gives him a chance to cope. It gives him an outlet for his grief.

Alfred keeps Bruce honest. When he sometimes slips a little too deep into the Batman persona and starts to walk his talk, Alfred is there to call him out on it. His constantly sarcastic wit reminds Bruce that he is still a human being, and an adult at that.

The somber, super serious, depressed, hates-to-live Batman that was popularized a few years back is a mistake. Batman gives Bruce Wayne a reason to live and enjoy life. He likes being Batman. He feels that it’s right. Robin provides a balance to his darkness, and Alfred keeps him honest.

That’s the way it should work, anyway.

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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Bl to Bu

January 12th, 2007 Posted by Gavok


Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)

“They call me… Blade! Blade the Black Agent X!”

Times change, don’t they? The story that introduces Blade doesn’t so much go into his background, other than his hobby of offing vampires. He takes care of some of Dracula’s henchmen early on and then fights the big bad on a cruise ship. When Dracula has things won, one of his mind-controlled lady victims comes to jump his bones. This distracts Dracula enough that Blade can get back up. Dracula makes the decision to leave, though the boat will explode in moments. Blade tosses everyone off the boat and makes it to safety himself, knowing that he and Dracula will fight again one day.


Uncanny X-Men #317 (1994)

Before Blink was well-known for her role in Age of Apocalypse and Exiles, she showed up in regular 616 continuity as part of the Phalanx Covenant. Along with members of Generation X, she finds herself captured by the Phalanx.

When attacked by a being named Harvest, Blink uses her power to teleport him away while tearing him apart. Other than that, she follows the others as they attempt to escape, knowing that the Phalanx was unable to find a way to dampen their powers.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 13

September 22nd, 2006 Posted by Gavok

I mourn this image, not for the loss of Timothy Leary, but for the loss of Vaudeville Silver Surfer. You’d think that with Keith Giffen writing Annihilation, we’d see him make a comeback.


Issue: Volume 2, #87
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Frank Teran
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Sabretooth was, for a time, a captive in the X-Mansion with Xavier hoping he could mentally fix what’s wrong with him. One time, when most of the team was out on a mission, a power failure in the mansion allowed Sabretooth to escape. He didn’t get too far, though. When he went after Jubilee, Bishop went up against him and knocked him out with a powerful blast. Our story here begins with Jubilee crying over the shredded-up body of Bishop. Uh oh.

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Cool Comics Love-In

August 1st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

If I’m posting on this here comics blahblahblog, I try to ensure that we’re working with snark-free waters. Not these Snark Free Waters, but similar in spirit nonetheless. Personally, I feel that comics are too awesome to waste sniping at each other and the creators. If I have a grievance, I’ll air it out professionally, courteously, and in a coherent manner. If I can at all help it, you’ll never hear the words “(author) is a hack” come out of my mouth. 99% of the time that word is thrown around, it’s completely untrue, and there’s really a better way to say “I don’t like this guy’s work.”

So, in the spirit of the idea that comics are freaking awesome and we’re all freaking awesome for reading them, even you in the back with the bad haircut, I’m going to present to you a Cool Comics Love-In. It’s a snapshot of what I like in comics right now, be they single issues, series, or other, and you better like it, too, or else I’ll and hopefully you’ll dig it as well. Let’s see if I can do these three or four at a time, once or twice a week okay?
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On Ninja Girls, Dames, and War Games

August 1st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

“What people often forget, of course, is that Magneto, unlike the lovely Sir Ian McKellen, is a mad old terrorist twat. No matter how he justifies his stupid, brutal behaviour, or how anyone else tries to justify it, in the end he’s just an old bastard with daft, old ideas based on violence and coercion. I really wanted to make that clear at this time.”
–Grant Morrison

I’m not usually one to complain about comics companies “destroying” characters. In fact, I think it’s kind the kind of stupid invective that gives comic fans such a negative fanboy image. “Destroying” is a loaded term, and there’s much, much better ways to express your feelings on the matter. This may be my attempt at that, or my attempt at putting my foot in my mouth. U DECIDE.

I do think, however, that comics companies can make/allow some fairly terrible narrative choices. Turning Xorn into some kind of Jerry Springer-esque twin brother was one. Actually, every time Xorn has been mentioned outside of Morrison’s New X-Men has been a mistake, I think. Identity Crisis left a bad taste in my mouth, despite Rags Morales’s excellent art. I liked the scene where Batman and Robin are trying to get to Tim Drake’s house before his dad dies. That was powerful, but the death of Jack Drake? Bleh. He was a cool dude. Mark Millar turning the New Warriors into patsies? Bah, Doom says.

So basically what I’m saying is, not everything comics companies do is great. Big surprise, huh? I once read a comment Keith Giffen made about the death of Blue Beetle. He said he wasn’t mad about it, and that his only feelings on the matter were “I would’ve done it differently.” I think that’s all any fan can really say. “I would’ve done it differently.” Mark Waid once said something like “Comics is the only industry where 90% of your audience thinks that they can do it better than you.” It’s true.

Long, rambling introductions aside, DC screwed the pooch on the Batbooks when they made the main man overly angry, right? Well, what about the satellite titles? Catwoman went from a must-read book to “Peace out, homey!” all in the space of one issue for me. Batgirl has renounced her title and is pretty much a villain now.

I am okay with one of these things, but I do not like the other. Let us begin, then.
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