Super-Man: Jonathan Kent

July 8th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Yo, I can’t fully become my mother’s guiding light
’til my dad returns to tell me what the other side is like
I keep the things you taught trapped in mind
I know you cared…
Even though you weren’t here half the time
But who am I to blame?
I’d probably do the same in your shoes

–Copywrite, “June”

Fathers are an important element of a lot of comics characters origins, and I haven’t really seen a lot of attention aimed in that direction. This is odd, because the three biggest comics characters (Super/Spider-/Batman) are orphans with surrogate parents. Superman has Jonathan and Martha Kent, Batman has Alfred, and Spider-Man has Aunt May and Uncle Ben. I’m going to talk about Jonathan Kent, and Ben Parker to a lesser extent, in specific here, I think.

(For what it is worth, Martha, Martha, and May [their supergroup is named 3M and May is lead singer] provided the compassion that fuels all three heroes in their daily interactions with the citizenry. In each case, both parents are vital and equal components of the hero’s heroic persona. That should probably be another post, however.)

I could probably do an essay apiece on these guys, so I’ll take it slow and focus specifically on the treatment of Jonathan Kent in All-Star Superman #6, “Funeral in Smallville.” I find the regular DCU Jonathan interesting, too, especially in light of Adventures of Superman #500, but I’ll get to that later.

Ben’s influence on Peter Parker is two-fold. First, he’s the source of Peter’s superheroic morality. “With great power comes great responsibility” is basically the reason that Spider-Man became a hero, instead of a celebrity. The other angle is that he’s a source of grief and guilt for Peter, providing a secondary reason for him to keep heroing. Ben Parker is, essentially, Peter Parker’s first failure. Gwen and Captain Stacy are two further failures.

Jonathan Kent, in light of this issue, is essentially Ben Parker. In this updated story about Clark Kent’s past, Jonathan is already elderly at this point, and has heart troubles. Three mysterious Supermen appear and attempt to prevent Clark from fighting a Chronovore. Instead, Clark presses on into battle and loses three minutes of his life. In those three minutes, his father suffers a fatal heart attack and dies.

Before this, Clark was essentially invincible. There was nothing he could not do. There was nothing he could fail at. However, his first failure was harsh enough to instill in him a resolution (I’d hesitate to call it a fear) to never fail again.

The scene where Jonathan dies is cut into the fight against the Chronovore, including a rough scene where Clark is flying so fast that his hair ignites while he screams that he can “save everybody.” The scene directly after that is the funeral, which explains the moral fiber that Jonathan instilled in his son.

“Jonathan Kent taught me that the strong have to stand up for the weak and that bullies don’t like being bullied back. […] He taught me about life and death.”

This page is about as good a summary of Superman’s modus operandi as you’re going to get. He’s there to work toward a better world, to protect those weaker than him, and to live up to his father’s example. In a very real way, Superman’s hero, the person he looks up to the most and attempts to emulate, is a normal man.

This adds an interesting wrinkle to the All-Star Superman. He’s already experienced the worst feeling in the world and it became a vital part of his character. He took the loss, adjusted, and now he’s there to try and live up to his father’s memory. It isn’t guilt, exactly– it’s more of a respect thing.

The twist in the issue is that one of the Supermen is actually our Superman, who has traveled back in time. He’s there for one last chance to be with his father. He knows that he can’t save him, and that sometimes bad things happen, but that you’ve got to take joy where you can get it. If that means talking with your father about your future just before he dies… so be it. It’s an experience to be treasured, yeah?

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No Solicitors

March 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Have you guys read the new Marvel and DC solicits? I love comics, but those things are a bore and a half. It’s like they don’t even want you to read their books.

It’s cool, though. Here are the ones that are new and good and interesting. Jumping-on points only here, with one exception, perhaps. My pithy and vitally important commentary is in italics.

DC Comics is first since Marvel is better!

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by J.H. Williams III
The Batmen of All Nations reunite for a weekend of fine food and nostalgia, but an unexpected visitor has other plans for the gathering. Batman, Robin, and the rest of the Club of Heroes find themselves trapped and at the mercy of a dangerous madman on the Island of Mister Mayhew!
This is why I read Grant Morrison. Mad ideas that sound completely goofy. He’s Silver Age with a Modern Age sensibility. Plus, I hope the sweet Knight and Squire from JLA Classified 1-3 shows up.

ROBIN #163
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by Patrick Gleason & Wayne Faucher
It’s Tim Drake’s first Father’s Day as Bruce Wayne’s adopted son, and he wants everything to be just right. Unfortunately, the justice-crazed supervillains known as The Jury pick that very day to go on a murder spree in Gotham City!
This is a great idea for a story. The “family” part of Bat-family doesn’t get looked at often enough. “The Jury,” though, conjures up images of a certain ’90s anti-Venom team.

Written by Paul Dini and Judd Winick
Art by Bruce Timm, Joe Chiodo and others
Cover by Timm
Paul Dini and Bruce Timm -two of the masterminds behind Batman: The Animated Series – join forces in this volume collecting the miniseries BATMAN: HARLEY AND IVY! Also included is the special: HARLEY AND IVY: LOVE ON THE LAM by Judd Winick and Joe Chiodo, plus a newly-colored story rom BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE VOL. 2!
It’s Harley Quinn, so shut up and buy it.
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Lobo’s back’s back.

August 30th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Just a few quick bullets on what I’m thinking about in the world of comics right about now.

– This week’s 52 was good. Lobo’s reintroduction was great, and his origin, completely with pompadour, was a good look, too.

– I have a new issue of Kabuki to read. I’m positively giddy. I may wait until tomorrow to read the latest issue of the best non-monthly series ever.

– All-Star Superman, by The King of All-Comics and Frank Quitely, delivered. Lex Luthor’s eyebrow and sheer arrogance come through perfectly and hilariously.

– Mike Carey’s first issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four? Way better than Millar’s entire year, of which I read approximately the first three months. It’s that good.

– Black Panther’s World Tour has started up, and it’s going to be a doozy. Doom gets what’s coming two different ways. Next month is the Inhumans, I cannot wait for that.

– The Boys 02 is the second issue in a row to feature, er, doggy-style. Pun possibly intended. This is one of the most mean-spirited books I’ve read, but we get some good character insights in Billy Butcher and friends. I’m definitely interested, and Robertson’s art? It’s great.

x-men 190 Have you guys seen Chris Bachalo’s cover to X-Men 190? It’s incredible. The scene it depicts happens a little different in the comics, but that’s water under the bridge. There’s precious little Rogue in this book, but her old costume is lovely and her new assertiveness fits a character who’s been a mainline X-Man for years now. She isn’t just “Sugah sugah mope mope mope.” She’s a fighter. Carey is doing a bang-up job on this series. This guy is remarkably good in the Marvel U. His Hellblazer was good, but Lucifer never grabbed me. His Marvel stuff, though… too good. Loving it.

Mythos HulkMythos: Hulk by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera is a four dollar bundle of joy. The Mythos series (right now just Hulk and X-Men) is a retelling of Marvel origins. They are updated for the modern era and boiled down to their essences. Rick Jones isn’t dared by friends to go onto the testing site, he’s an intern who isn’t paying attention. That sort of thing. They’re good stuff, and Rivera’s art is a treat. Highly recommended, and I hope they collect all of them into a handsome hardcover down the line.

– I read Wonder Woman 02. I’m done with the series. I realized that the moment I saw Wonder Woman start to do that stupid spinning thing from the TV show. No sir I do not like it. The Dodson’s art is great, as always, but Heinberg leaves me flat. Not quite Young Avengers flat, but flat. It wasn’t just the spinning what done it, either. It’s a book that seems to be trying very hard to get me to care, but does a poor job of closing the deal. Giganta is smart and tall… okay? Donna Troy is Wonder Woman and sucks at her job… okay? Wonder Woman is sneaking around and hiding… why bother? It’s weird. My favorite portrayals of Wonder Woman have been in the Morrison/Waid/Kelly JLA era. Doug Mahnke drew the absolute best WW ever. The wet hair look was way better than the usual comic book poofy hair. He drew her lean, but powerful, and his Angry Wonder Woman was something to behold. So, uh, now that I own the first 90 or so issues of JLA in trade form, I guess I’ll go read those when I want to read about Wondy.

Titans – Someone explain this image to me. Is this from the new issue of Teen Titans? I found it linked off SomethingAwful’s BSS forum and it… bleh. Johns, what are you doing, man? That first row, save for Aquagirl and Speedy is worthless, and I like Speedy despite Judd Winick’s handling of her. The second row has Beast Boy and Offspring and they’re cool, but the rest of that row is worthless, too. I realize I’m prejudging here, but Little Barda is too much. DC just needs to leave the Fourth World alone. Give it to Morrison and a good artist and just keep it out of anyone else’s hands. It’s cool to see Mas y Menos and Captain Marvel Jr, but again, the rest of the characters? Bleh. On the bottom row, I think that the two Daughters are interesting ideas, if pushing the gimmick a bit, and I like Ravager, and that leaves Osiris. If Osiris turns out to be Isis’s brother, he’s got the most poorly thought-out code name ever. It takes a lot for me to read Titans. Introducing a bunch of no-names and go-nowheres isn’t really drawing me in. The series hasn’t really grabbed me since Titans Tomorrow, to be quite honest. Maybe it’ll pick up, but I basically have read Teen Titans for two years of my life. I can do without it. It’s turned into the JSA, in that it’s a book about a team full of characters who should be guest-stars at best.

– To be quite fair, Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men is boring me, too. Ha ha, Wolverine, yes, but the rest of the book is cute references up the wazoo and SHOCK REVEALS. It’s very pretty, but I’m not even remotely interested in the story. It feels like it’s treading water, with Neat Callback Scene (Kitty Pryde in the sewer last issue made me roll my eyes hard) to Neat Action scene with no meat inbetween.

– Just to complete the custom combo, I found Serenity boring and Firefly decent to middling at best.

– Cameron Stewart is awesome. You all know this, yes? His upcoming book about Vietnam looks like the bee’s knees. However! He and his Royal Academy of Illustration and Design cronies are having a draw-off, and Harley Quinn was the pick for today. Harl is probably my favorite bat-villain, so go check it out. I kind of like Cam’s, since it’s classic Bruce Timm style, but all of them are good. Go look!

– Oh man, I’m totally going to pitch DC Joker Loves Harley Quinn and do it in the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane style, but with more mayhem. Yes.

– Here’s an interview with Georges Jeanty, artist of The American Way. He’s a great talent, and TAW is totally a sleeper hit. It gets better and better. It’s telling a great tale of superheroics in the 1960s and actually deals realistically with race. I’m loving it, and 4l member Thomas Wilde likes it, too. He doesn’t like anything but Barb Wire, Vampirella, and other bad comics, so him liking a good book is astonishing. I’m kidding! He doesn’t actually like any of those books. However, if he doesn’t write for the blog, I’ll tell everyone that he does and then kill him while he sits in shame.

– I’ve gotten a buttload of trades over the past couple weeks. X-Men: The Coming of Bishop, Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student, Starman: Sins of the Father, X-Men: Golgotha, some JLA v3 trades, Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts of Darkness, Spider-Man: The Assasin Nation Plot, The Punisher/Wolverine: African Saga (Carl Potts and Jim Lee! Whatever happened to Carl Potts?), and Monster volumes 3 and 4. Also Absolute Kingdom Come, though I don’t like Alex Ross’s art very much at all, but I love extra content in hardcover comics. I sometimes fear that I have bad taste in comics, but I love them too much to quit.

– So, summing up: Comics are great right now, Wonder Woman’s series is blah, Teen Titans is blah, but comics are still great, the internet is awesome, and I’ve got bad taste in comics. This ended up a lot longer than expected. It was supposed to be a short post!

– Peace!

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All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder: How Cool is That?

June 22nd, 2006 Posted by david brothers

(This is a rewritten message board post from Something Awful’s Batman’s Shameful Secret. It was good, so I dragged it from the depths and rewrote it.)

“Why I Like All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder”
by little david brothers, age 22

Both All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder are takes on classic heroes that feature full creative freedom. It’s a chance for these guys to tell the Bats/Supes story they wanted to tell and how they wanted.

The Miller/Lee Batman is different from the Loeb/Sale, Loeb/Lee, Azzarello/Risso, Brubaker/McDaniel, Dixon/Grummett Batman, but it is still recognizably Batman. It’s Batman spun for self-conscious comedy. It’s a guy in a batsuit who isn’t crazy, I don’t think, but would like for people to think that he’s crazy, so he acts crazy. “I ate rats BY CHOICE SO HE BETTER EAT RATS TOO!” That’s hilarious. He’s trying so hard to be a hardcase that everyone around him, or at least Alfred (who’s known him for years and is probably tired of his self-important crap) to Dick Grayson (who has known him for maybe six hours and sees right through his self-important crap) knows that he’s putting on a show. Grayson mentions the fact that he can tell that Bats is putting on an Eastwood. Batman is a ridiculous concept when you think too hard about it, but it’s also an awesome one that much of America (even the non-comics reading folks) have loved since childhood, and that’s what I get from this book. “Batman is a crazy idea, pure empowerment fantasy… but doesn’t it rock?”

(“how cool is that?”)

Plus, you know, giant robot dinosaurs, and I am certain that Bruce Wayne also has a giant robot saddle when he has to hop on and ride around Gotham. “C’MON, CRIMINALS! SIC SEMPER TYRANNOSAURUS YOU COWARDS!” (Robin only gets a robot velociraptor on a leash.)

All-Star Supes is just as “stupid.” Superman overdoses on solar radiation, so he’s dying, but he’s also gifted with tremendous strength at the same time. Modern day interpretation? It’s about the fear of death and what makes a man human. However, it’s also every stupid Silver Age story in one. it’s got Superman robots, chess pieces shaped like Superman’s friends, the Fortress of Solitude with the intergalactic zoo, Superman making dresses, future Supermen, keys that probably weigh enough to punch right through the Earth and out the other side, technobabble, journeys to the center of the Earth to visit the Dino-czar, Cat grant eyeing up people’s crotches, Lois Lane with powers… it’s the same thing as All-Star Bats. “Here are all these crazy impossible ideas… robo-dinosaurs, journeys to the center of the Earth… aren’t they wonderful?!”

Then again, this may just be me. I read these books and it’s like I’m reading comics back when I was ten years old and Jim Lee was the biggest guy in comics. The All-Star books are big, stupid, and loud. I’ve enjoyed every issue of both All-Star books greatly, not in the least because Miller, Lee, Morrison, and Quitely are four of my most favorite creators. They’re fun titles that I enjoy reading, and would like to see them collected in extremely handsome hardcovers five years from now when they finally put out issue 12 of both series.

I also like Dark Knight Strikes Again. Once I find time (that’s a ha-ha, good buddy) I may do a few entries on some of my favorite Miller work that’s not DKR (DKSA, 300, The Big Fat Kill). It’s all a matter of time.

Here’s another angle by one Geoff Klock, wherein the author uses fancy words like “grotesque.”

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Dead Man’s Party: The Resident Evil Comics

January 7th, 2006 Posted by Wanderer

Ha Ha I Am Blogging About Bad Comic Books

Let’s talk for a moment, you and me, about things I hate.

I hate Venom, for example. I’ve never been able to stand that schmuck, ever since the Spider-Man books turned into the Venom Show back in the ’90s. I hate Howard Mackie for being the embryonic stage of Chuck Austen… and I hate Chuck Austen, because all right-thinking people do. I hate Scott Lobdell, Frank Quitely’s pudgy Play-Doh people, and any book that Ashley Wood drew…

…but most of all, I hate licensed comics that’re written by somebody who hasn’t even touched the source material. I really hate it when I’m familiar–or in this case, scarily familiar–with that source material.

That means I hate the Resident Evil comic books.

Call the neighbors and lock up the kids, folks. It’s time for a bunch of pointless fanboy bitching.

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