The Sun Will Come Out. Tomorrow.

March 13th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

To wedge myself out of the pit of mild crankiness I’ve been in regarding comics, I have started looking ahead to things that I look forward to.

Thank you, The Brave and the Bold, for seemingly being an impossible title to bog down in misery, no matter what medium you are in.  Here we have a female team-up book, a happy-seeming story, and complete indifference to current continuity.  It has everything I’m looking for in a book.

Moreover, it has Barbara Gordon as  part of it all.  This is the kicker for me.  She’s a sentimental favorite, and while I think her role as Oracle is great character development, I can’t get over the fun she had as Batgirl.  I’m always willing to see more of that.  This and Wonder-Con, another reason to look forward to April.

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Neither Brave Nor Bold: Just Stupid.

October 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

“Tune your ear to the frequency of despair, and cross reference by the longitude and latitude of a heart in agony.


Gav threw in a brief mention of it on Sunday, but I wanted to come back around and reiterate exactly how unbelievably stupid Brave and Bold 28 was last week. Uzumeri hit ’em up earlier this week, so consider this “Bomb 1st,” a second reply.

In brief, the comic is about the time the Flash took a trip back to the Battle of the Bulge and hung out with the Blackhawks. There’s some typical comic book science tomfoolery to make it happen (involving light that travels slower than light speed), of course, and that’s dumb, but not as dumb as the main story. Barry Allen, Flash, is torn. He’s in a war zone, he has a plot device injury that keeps him from running at full speed (though he is clearly still faster than everyone else), and the Blackhawks want him to shoot up some Nazis. So he thinks, mopes, and then takes a uniform out of a supply box and shoots up some Nazis. Why is it okay to do this? “Because Barry Allen, American, can do those things in the uniform of his country, which is at war.”

Brave and the Bold: Comics That Insult Your Intelligence!

This story is really and truly the most offensively bad piece of crap I’ve read in ages. In pursuit of trying to make a point about “The Greatest Generation” and when it is okay to kill, JMS wrote the kind of story that mixes black and white morals/moralization, superheroic problem solving (hit it til it’s dead, leave a smug moral on its corpse), and a complete and utter lack of perspective.

I have a number of problems with the story, not the least of which is the lunacy of mixing superheroes and real world disasters. However, for the purposes of this post, number one is that Barry Allen steals a uniform and firearm from a box of supplies and pretends to be in the army for “weeks.” Impersonating a soldier is a crime. Impersonating a soldier and killing people is undoubtedly several orders of magnitude more illegal than just impersonating a soldier. Even dumber is Blackhawk insisting that this is war, and people kill or get killed during war, so start killing or get killed. Guess what Blackhawk: prisoners of war exist for a reason.

Soldiers aren’t just some guy who put on a uniform and decided to go shoot some patriotic bullets at infidels. They are specifically trained in a variety of disciplines, from combat to communication to inter-army relations. There are rules and regulations that they must follow, both in the UCMJ and wartime law. Those rules protect soldiers. However, soldiers are not civilians. Barry Allen is a civilian. Civilians who attempt to fight during wartime are unlawful, and should be arrested, tried, and possibly drawn up on war crimes, depending on what they’ve done. Barry Allen using his superhuman powers against normal humans while pretending to be something he’s not? I’d call that a war crime.

Basically, war isn’t a game of pickup basketball at the park. You don’t get to play shirts vs skins just because you take your top off and tighten your high tops. You get to sit on the sidelines, shut your fat yap, and hope for the best.

Second is the central conceit of the book, the question of “when is it okay to kill?”, is ridiculous. Pro-tip: we’re not children. Reducing a problem to an either/or situation works for children, because they don’t have the capacity to understand that the world is made of shades of grey. For kids, there are good guys and there are bad guys. For adults, it is never that simple. “When is it okay to kill?” is dumber when you consider that Barry Allen is a police officer in his civilian life. If anyone should have an opinion on that, it should be Barry. And it shouldn’t be an opinion as turgid and hamfisted as “Because Barry Allen, American, can do those things in the uniform of his country, which is at war.”

There are a number of very valid positions to take on the question. I’m sure we all have opinions on when, or if, it is okay. But, hey, Barry’s a superhero, so there must be a black or white answer. And that answer is “It is okay to kill when you jump through an unnecessary hoop to justify it to yourself in the name of specious logic and self-righteousness.”

After more garbage that you’ve seen in every time travel story ever (“Do we win? In the future, is it worth it?”), a bit more pontificating (“But the country is still the country. It has its flaws, and it isn’t always right, but it’s still intact. And I guess that’s all that matters,” he says, as he looks off into the distance), we’re left with the money shot of all World War II stories: a character looking off into a graveyard and re-affirming that “they were the extraordinary ones.”

My rawest, most honest reaction to this scene was “blow me.” You have a character who can move at superspeed, if not run during the story. He throws a thousand bricks and incapacitates a German unit in a matter of seconds. By the end of the book, he can move at light speed again and goes home, safe and sound. And he’s looking at the graves of the eighty thousand people, people who not thirty seconds ago were within arm’s reach, and thinking about how extraordinary they were?

That’s stupid. I’m stupid for reading it, JMS is stupid for writing it, and DC is stupid for publishing it. It’s not just stupid, it’s insulting. This is why superheroes have no business in World War II tales. There was nothing stopping the Flash from saving those lives. If he can put on a stolen uniform and shoot Germans willy-nilly, any idea of a temporal paradox is out the window. Not using his powers at the Battle of the Bulge is as stupid and patronizing as Superman insisting that he shouldn’t do anything more than beat up giant monsters. Because Flash could have saved them, but didn’t, their lives are on his head.

Keep superheroes out of World War II, and keep JMS out of my comics. Whatever goodwill he had from when he did Spider-Man with JRjr is burnt out and chased out. He’s terrible. I can’t think of the last comic I hated like I hate every single solitary inch of this one.

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This Week in Panels: Week 5

October 25th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

To make up for last week’s lackluster batch, we’ve returned with more substance this time.

Amazing Spider-Man #609
Marc Guggenheim, Marco Checchetto and Luke Ross

Azrael #1
Fabian Nicieza and Ramon Bachs

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Batman: The Brave And The Bold – An Educational Experience

June 25th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

There’s really something to be said for educational comics.

Not genuinely educational ones (perish the thought), but ones that guide the inexperienced reader through the labyrinth of nuttiness that was the golden and silver ages of DC comics. 

Batman: The Brave and the Bold, is a comic aimed at kids, just like many comics were during the forties through the seventies.  This makes it a particularly good place to unearth all of those silly, funny, and imaginative characters that populated the comics world back when the medium was light-hearted, episodic, and frankly ridiculous.

The series also serves as a guide for those of us who are new to comics, and looking for something other than wikipedia to introduce us to older characters.  Each team-up is a fun, fast way to learn about some ancient character from a source that doesn’t expect any knowledge of the reader.  So you get an explanation of each character’s backstory, motivation, and abilities.

It’s a fun way to catch up on tone and continuity of long-lost characters, and I recommend it to anyone who isn’t willing to page through forty years worth of comics to find out what they might have missed in the old days.

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Down Time

June 2nd, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I’ve noticed that occasionally almost all superhero comics have an occasional issue that shows the characters in it just, hanging out, having fun, doing non-superhero things.  Of course these issues generally throw in a fight or two, but most of the plot is the characters having some down time and talking.

These issues often get a great reaction from fans.  A lot of what’s driving that reaction, of course, is the rarity of such issues.  They’re a break from what we’re used to, and that always gets people talking.

It’s tempting to declare that more of such issues would boost sales.  I enjoy them when they come out, and even look forward to them.  But if they were coming out every month, would I still like them as much?  Would anyone?

Tough to say.  Still, I think I would enjoy seeing day-to-day lives of superheroes or teams, or even minor characters.  Perhaps a book that chose different characters each month, like The Brave and the Bold.  If you had to choose, which character from superhero comics would you like to follow around when they’re out of costume?

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The Brave and the Bold #1

January 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Well, the way they draw Luthor creeps me out, but in general I liked the comic.  It has the same zany energy as the show.  The pace is fast and action-oriented.  Seriously action-oriented.  Of twenty-two pages, fifteen of them show something being smashed.  That kind of action-oriented.

This comic also has the sort of kitschy villains and monsters that enlivened the old Batman TV Show, and that you can’t really get away with in today’s gritty, more realistic comics.  The result is the triumph of imagination; fun, creative, outrageous and interesting.

The one main weakness of the comic is the same weakness of the show.  There seems to be a Very Special Lesson to be learned in each comic, and no subtlety in the teaching of it.  I realize that this comic is meant for children, but it frustrates me a little, knowing that if a character talks about their love of strength in the first five minutes, they’ll lose all their strength in the next five minutes.  What is most irksome about it is the show lays the groundwork for each Special Lesson well enough that it never has to be said out loud.  With the deletion of a few lines, each Lesson could be a character trait, each predictable reversal a fresh plot twist.

Still, the energy, the creativity and the joy that is shown all make this comic shine.  If you’re thinking about giving a young child a good education in all the DC characters, and, incidentally, entertaining them, this is a great comic to pick up.

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Beetle for the Cowl

January 18th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

You ever read the Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz run of Booster Gold? It was pretty good stuff. The majority of it dealt with Booster’s personal quest to use time travel to save the life of the 2nd Blue Beetle and Booster’s 1st best friend, Ted Kord. Rip Hunter kept insisting to Booster that this was an impossibility and that it would mess up time something fierce. Booster didn’t listen and with the help of Dan Garrett, Jaime Reyes and the mysterious Black Beetle, saved Ted’s life.

Wouldn’t you know it, everything went wrong. This was all some kind of scheme by Mr. Mind and the present was reduced to Max Lord and his OMACs laying waste to almost all the superheroes. Ted saw that his death had a role in the grand scheme of things and seemingly killed himself in some kind of time travel clusterfuck with the use of Black Beetle’s scarab. Booster was broken up about it, but got over his failings with the help of Batman’s compassion.

Despite Ted’s redeath, we were given a happy ending. But wait… what’s this?

Hey! Ted’s alive after all! Johns himself said so. Good for Ted.

Not all good. What’s he going to do now? Ted Kord is supposed to be dead. Blue Beetle is supposed to be dead. He can’t go back to the blue and lighter blue. Even if you ignore there already being a Blue Beetle around (in a sadly cancelled series), an arc in Manhunter shows that Ted being alive would ruin Wonder Woman’s defense for killing Max Lord. It would make her look even worse in the public eye.

It’s a shame. A young guy like himself given a second chance. He’s rich, he’s brilliant, he’s a gadget wiz, he’s got his own secret hideout and you know he’s just raring to go back to fighting crime. Blame it on the economy, but sometimes a talented guy just can’t find a job.

Wait a minute… Wasn’t there a job opening this week?

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DC Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

July 26th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Months back, a picture was released of the upcoming animated series Batman: The Brave and The Bold. The image showed Batman in a more 1950’s style, appearing in front of a clean-shaven Green Arrow and the current version of Blue Beetle. While I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it, it at least interested me more than The Batman. Even disregarding the “fuck the fanboys” interview that preceded that series, I just couldn’t get into it.

But Brave and the Bold already had two things going for it. One, it had a good concept. One of the things that made Justice League Unlimited so cool was the idea of a random superhero you may have never heard of showing up in an episode alongside someone you have heard of. Hell, that’s how I was ultimately introduced to Booster Gold. Here, it’s simplified with the original JL roster being replaced with just Batman, holding the series together in a looser continuity, while teaming up with a different guy in each episode. It’s not so much a Batman cartoon as it’s another DC Universe cartoon. That’s cool. I can get into that.

The other thing that it has going for it is Blue Beetle. I’m not just saying this as a fan of Jaime Reyes. There are two things I ultimately felt were missing from Justice League Unlimited: Plastic Man and Blue Beetle. For some reason they didn’t have the broadcasting rights to either character over the course of the show and the most we got was Elongated Man bitching about Plastic Man without us ever seeing him. Granted, it isn’t Ted Kord in this series, but I’ll take what I can get.

Say, I just noticed that Ted Kord is sort of Spider-Man-like while his successor Jaime is Venom-like. Huh.

I forgot about this series, until the recent release of the trailer. Gentlemen! Behold!

That’s… pretty awesome. Plastic Man’s there too! There’s another thing going for it! Yeah! I wonder if Tom Kenny will be voicing him again. For those out of the loop, he played Plas in a failed cartoon pilot a year or so ago.

According to Wiki, Booster Gold and Skeets will get their own episode too. This thing just keeps getting better and better. Not to mention Green Lantern Corps and Red Tornado. And on the villain side, not only do they have Gentleman Ghost, but they have Black Manta in there… and they’re allowed to call him Black Manta this time!

Consider me stoked. I’m in the mood for a lighter Batman right about now.

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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Cab to Cat

February 6th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to the fifth installment. Took me longer than expected, but a lot of these guys are big names. If you reach the end of the article, Batman will reward you with his greatest quote ever.


New Mutants #87 (1990)

Originally, Cable appears in Uncanny X-Men #201 (1986) as a baby, but I figure it would probably make more sense to show his real introduction. The story begins with a terrorist act by a team of Stryfe’s henchmen in some facility. The only one I actually recognize is Four-Arm. After they leave, a new figure enters through a hole in the wall.

Cable tracks Stryfe’s team on their next mission, where they plan to kidnap a couple kids out of a government facility. He takes the battle to the enemies, but their numbers eventually overwhelm him. He’s left to die and the mutants get away. The issue ends with Cable in military captivity, thinking about how he went at this the wrong way. He’s going to need help.

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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: A to At

November 28th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

I’m still waiting on a couple artists for the What If finale, so I figured I’d start this. The idea originally came from a thread at Superdickery back when I hung around there, and I later reprised it at BSS. Sure, we all know about Action Comics #1 and Amazing Fantasy #15, but there are so many great comic characters and a lot of them have changed since their debuts in ways that would surprise you. So let’s take a look at the heroes and villains before they were stars. Back when Lobo wore spandex and Wolverine had whiskers.

I figure I’ll do one of these every two weeks or so. It’s fun and educational!

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