Overthinking the Bad Guys

January 15th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

It’s interesting when you look back at some of Marvel and DC’s big villains from over the years. Having characters written by a hundred different writers over several decades and style eras lead to a ton of contrasts in character definition. It’s hard to see the humbled Magneto living in the ruins of Genosha as being the same dude who would go to a gas station just to brag about his awesome gasless car. Or that the Joker would go from fighting Batman and Robin on a giant piano to cannibalism for the sake of his own sense of grim hilarity.

I don’t know about you, but when you read enough stories with these villains, you get an idea of what you think they are really all about. You can’t just say that they’re simply evil. That’s lazy. You have to have an idea of what makes them tick. Why are they evil assholes?

I’m not saying I’m right on these or anything like that. This is just me making sense out of fictional characters based on stories and key moments.

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Morrison’s Batman vs Miller’s Batman

December 2nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Once again, Geoff Klock’s blog is the place to be, as there’s a great discussion of Morrison’s Batman vs Frank Miller’s Batman.

I really liked this comment, in fact:Voice of the Eagle said:

Gonna go out a limb and saw it off:

Between this and DKR, Miller not only has the definite Batman, but the definte Joker.Yeah, better than Moore’s.

It occurs to me that he switches the traditional readings of these two characers even as early as DKR- Batman is the laughing lunatic and Joker is the grim, “sane” one.

I can’t go into detail on it now, but I’ve got a foolproof way to make Misty Knight a Marvel heavy-hitter ala Luke Cage or Daredevil. I’ll save that for another post. I’m going to give those in the know a big hint on how I’d approach it, though.

Who want to battle the Don?
I’m James Bond in the Octagon with two razors
Bet y’all didn’t know I had a fake arm
I lost it, wild and raw before rap, I was gettin’ it on

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Harley Quinn

August 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Sometimes DC gets it right:

Written by Karl Kesel
Art and cover by Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
The Joker’s lovable partner in crime takes the spotlight in this new hardcover volume collecting HARLEY QUINN #1-7, written by Karl Kesel (SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL) with art by the fan-favorite team of Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson (WONDER WOMAN)! Don’t miss these beautifully illustrated tales of lunacy!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 16 • 192 pg, FC, $24.99 US

I wanted to toss in a “sometimes DC gets it wrong,” but I’m up against the wall of like three heinous deadlines.

More from Rock of Ages– Batman slipping a roofie to a (new) god.

jla_14_pg10.jpg jla_14_pg12.jpg jla_14_pg13.jpg

I’m listed on Amazon.ca, which I’m kind of inordinately proud of
My unofficial namesake died June 25, 2007
-I’m never going to find time to play Bioshock and Madden NFL 08 at this rate
-I’m spending way too much money lately and need to cut way back
-I’m rereading Y the Last Man (better a second time through, though some of Vaughan’s quirks are mad obvious) and starting Narcoleptic Sunday, a pretty cool OGN out of Oni. More on that later.
-I need to do reviews for Calavera Comics and another comics company that sent me PDFs. Cripes.
-There are not enough hours in the day.
-I went out and got a Twitter, because I just don’t write enough during the day.

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An Update on Lack of Updates

June 2nd, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Wow, I haven’t written crap in the last two weeks. To be fair, I have been writing. I just haven’t been posting. Work’s been giving me hours that aren’t writing friendly and a lot of my time off has been spent either sleeping, going to Chikara shows or proctoring the SATs. The last of which is the easiest money ever and if you can find someone who can give you that gig, go for it.

I do have something fairly big set for this Sunday, so definitely tune in for that.

In the meantime, and I don’t want to sound like a corporate shill on this, but Barnes and Noble has an annual sale around this time that kicks a certain amount of ass. For the month of June, all their DVDs are “buy two, get one free”. All of them. This means I’ll be picking up the Wrestlemania I-V boxset, the Wrestlemania VI-X boxset, with the Rocky I-V boxset tossed in for free.

More importantly, and getting back to the whole comics thing, it means I’m finally done collecting my Diniverse DVDs. Four Batman sets, three Superman sets, three Batman Beyond sets, four Justice League sets, Mask of the Phantasm, Sub-Zero and Return of the Joker: Awesome Version. Technically, the collection isn’t complete, since I’m missing Mystery of the Batwoman, Brainiac Attacks and Return of the Joker: Pussified Version. Maybe I’ll end up picking up Batwoman, since it wasn’t all that bad, but the latter two can rot in a dumpster for all I care. Off-screen electrocution my ass.

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On Nightwing Annual #2

April 21st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Okay, so the last thing Devin Grayson did on Nightwing was have Dick Grayson propose to Barbara Gordon. I think that was a neat twist and kinda cool. Should they be together? I don’t know, but I am curious!

Then OYL hit and the plot was dropped entirely.

Nightwing Annual #2 hit this week and explained why they aren’t together, in addition to showing some scenes from their past. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Dick Grayson showing up six months after Joker shoots Babs, sleeping with her, and then hitting her with an engangement announcement for his wedding to Starfire the very next morning.
2. Babs going to Dick’s college dorm with flowers shortly after he declares his love for her, only to be meet with Starfire answering his door in panties, a t-shirt, and what I assume is Dick’s letterman’s jacket. They speak, Barb leaves in tears and Kory doesn’t think to tell Dick that one of his best friends just dropped by. PS this is followed by the revelation that Kory was Dick’s first sex partner, as revealed by an insufferably smug Babs Gordon who knows Dick Grayson just that well apparently. Barfo!
3. Babs and Dick being stuck in a safe together by Crazy Quilt of all people, leading to a scene where Dick is trying to hide his bat-erection from Batman.
4. Barbara making the executive decision to cancel her engagement to Dick, despite their twoo wuv (he swears to come back to her and she wears the engagement ring on a necklace) because a) he needs to go off with Batman somewhere and b) she feels that he defines himself by his relationship to others and he needs to find himself before he marries her.
5. Barbara Gordon being a thoroughly unlikeable and heartless person.
6. Dick Grayson being a thoroughly unlikeable and heartless person.
7. Some really awkward dialogue, lovey-dovey and otherwise.

Seriously, this was a bad comic. It was competently written, and I actually really dig the art, but it was bad in a “What were you thinking?” sort of way. Sins Past was bad, and artifically aged Gwen & Norman twins are bad, but this is beyond even that. Every single person comes off as horrible or unlikeable or both. Why should I care about these people?

I don’t even really like Nightwing. I read it because I was interested in that plot about the marriage.

This was like if someone asked me “Hey, what’re some things you don’t particularly care to ever see in a comic?” and then put everything I listed in that comic. It’s gross and not good. I mean, cool, heroes have/should have/do have sex and relationships but for some reason Babs talking to Dick Grayson about losing his virginity to Starfire just comes off mad creepy in that weird nerdy sort of way that comics do so well. I’m not even a prude, man. I own the Bomb Queen trade, I am all about some gratuitous nudity and graphic violence. This, though? This is yuck.

The worst thing is that Nightwing Annual #2, like the similarly useless World War III, feels so editorially mandated that you can picture Dan Didio sitting on your shoulder going “This patches that weird sequence from Tales of Nightwing #209, and this bit means that the guy from Adventures of Superman #132 isn’t in continuity any more, and this close-up shows that there was no penetration in Batman #133 so Robin technically didn’t have sex with his girlfriend…”

Seriously DC, stop with Continuity Patch Comix(TM). They aren’t good. We learned that in the ’90s. I almost wish this story had remained untold, because the reason the two didn’t get married is stupid and now both of them look like jerks because of the reason and the dumb-dumb flashbacks.

And if I never read a book with a Bat-erection in it again, it’ll be too soon.

I’ll talk about some good comics tomorrow. Ones that aren’t gross.

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Ruining the Moment: Volume 3

April 11th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I should be finishing up my next installment of the WCW debacle, but it’s taking longer than I thought. Admittedly, it’s the least exciting of the three articles and it covers the most issues. Expect it up within the next few days. Honest.

In the meantime, how’s about we pass the time with more of these? For instance, in Annihilation, it was pretty badass when the Silver Surfer returned to Galactus’ thrall as herald. But I know the real reason Galactus was smiling.

Cassandra Cain Batgirl has been out of it for the past few months, acting like a villain and murdering people. I think I have an explanation.

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Real Talk: Supreme Power’s Nighthawk

February 17th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Let me tell you a story.

This had to have been back when I was in the fifth grade, in Mrs Washington’s class. There’s this program called DARE, Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Basically, they explain to you that you should narc on your friends if you catch them with drugs and that if you try weed just one time you’ll immediately find yourself toothless, hooked on crack, in prison, insane, and stupid.

From Wikipedia:

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in 2003 that the DARE program is ineffective and now prohibits its funds from being used to support it.[5] The U.S. Surgeon General’s office, the National Academy of Sciences,[5] and the Government Accounting Office also concluded that the program is sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduate from DARE later having higher rates of drug use. Studies by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum [6], and by the California Legislative Analyst’s office [7] found that DARE graduates were more likely than others to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and use illegal drugs.

Sorry, the mean-spiritedness is just deafening sometimes. I’ll do better, I promise.

Anyway, our DARE officer was a cop we called Officer Wood. At some point during the class, I ended up asking him a question about the Black Panthers. I wasn’t quite as “conscious” back then as I am now, but I knew a little bit about a little something. I even used to have one of those leather Africa medallions. I know that some of you folks know what I’m talking about. I was curious as to what Wood would say.

“The Black Panthers were worse than the Klan,” he told me.

That’s stuck with me in the years since then. He’s practically taken on bogeyman status in my head. I realized that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should keep your mouth shut. Arguing from a position of ignorance makes you an idiot, and no one likes idiots. If you want to speak, you’d better know first.

Other than that, though, I realized how perception informs things. I doubt that Officer Wood knew what he was saying. The Panthers, like Malcolm X, have been villainized in the years since they were active. They weren’t about killing white people, or even hating them. They were “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense” and were an anti-police brutality group. They weren’t angels, granted, but they weren’t the frigging Klan, either. To Officer Wood, though, they were.

This brings me to Nighthawk, from J Michael Stracyzinski’s Supreme Power. Supreme Power sometimes feels like kind of a retread of JMS’s other series, Rising Stars, at times, but it remains one of his better works.

Nighthawk, though. Hm. Problematic.
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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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Ruining the Moment: Volume 2

February 3rd, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Hal Jordan watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s his dream. That’s his nightmare.

Hey, now. Looks like it’s time for another installment of Ruining the Moment! Let’s roll.

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It’s a Major Disaster area, baby.

January 30th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

This is going to sound weird coming on the heels of my “Ollie Queen is a jerk!” post, but hear me out.

I love character turns, be it heroes gone bad (Zoom, Batgirl, Eradicator) or villains gone good. It’s always interesting to see that breaking point that makes someone change. This post is about a villain who went good.

Paul Booker was a crap villain. He called himself Major Disaster, wore a disaster of a costume, and had a disaster of a career. To be quite honest, I haven’t read a lot of his early work just because it looked so awful. He’s got on pink gogo boots, a blue body suit, and a lighter blue hood. It’s a costume on par with some of Scarlet Witch and The Wasp’s worst excesses, but not quite as bad as Susan Richards’s negative-space 4 costume from the ’90s.

Booker joined the JLA at Batman’s request. Yes, the same Batman who gave Huntress the old heave-ho. The JLA were MIA and he had a Substitute League lined up in case of emergencies. Booker so liked the respect that he stuck around on the team and ended up proving his worth. He even made it onto the JLElite, before finally retiring.

Booker’s face turn for JLA was more of an “Okay I’m good now guys” rather than a gradual shift, but it feels right. Here is a guy that, in another world, could’ve been a true hero. He could theoretically prevent disasters, or come up with new ways to research them. The problem is, he’s selfish. He decided to look out for number one first and foremost, and ended up crap villain. He’s had tastes of the good life during his stints in the Suicide Squad and Justice League Antarctica, but he never hit the big times until the JLA accepted him.

He brings an interesting dynamic to the team for a couple reasons. One, he’s a reformed villain. As he says at the beginning of the Rules of Engagement arc, “Vote from the reformed criminal type! If more capes hunted down more bad guys, we’d have a lot less crime!” He doesn’t look at things like the other heroes do. He’s a very to-the-point, man-of-action type. If there is an easy solution that solves the problem well, do it! Why not?

Second, Booker is a big, dumb lug in the Bibbo Bibbowski/Lobo vein. He doesn’t say exactly what’s on his mind because he doesn’t really think. His brain isn’t just not connected to his mouth, it’s not connected, full stop.

hurr.jpg Case in point. When the Elite gets together, they’re masterminded by Naif al-Sheikh, who can best be described as an Arab, male, and chainsmoking version of Amanda Waller. He’s got crazy black-ops and intelligence clout, so much so that the JLE gets approval based on his word alone. al-Sheikh sees these men and women as “demons playing in the robes of angels.” They terrify him, and that cannot be. He wants them to share a secret so that they can begin to build a trust. He wants them to explain why they fight for the light from the shadows. Booker’s response? “I, umm… this is really gay. Can’t we just go kick the @&#% out of some bad guys, “sir?”

This man is “Hurrrr!” incarnate! Another example. Booker’s been talking about Kasumi, an assassin on the team with something to hide. This scene follows:


Yes, Booker. You got zapped because it’s that time of the month. That is it exactly.
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