Sunday, April 30, 2023

Marvel Fanfare portfolios #12: Charles Vess (part one)

Charles Vess' fairies were always great, so it's little surprise his Loki and Hela were off the charts.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The boldness of the Jaffee line

The day Al Jaffee passed away recently at the tragically young age of 102, I found one of his books - Al Jaffee's Next Book - at a local second hand store, and had to get it. I'm so glad I did, because it reminded me of the sheer strength of his line art. 

His line was usually softened in his wonderful fold-ins, and any colour work for covers and such were the same. But in the cold black and white of a 50-year-old paperback, it's as thick and bold as ever. Somewhere in the Mad spectrum, Jaffe was between the rushed vitality of an Aragones and the meticulous detail of a Drucker. As confident as anything Don Martin ever produced, but looser and more dynamic, with the absolute possibility that he only needed to do that line once, because he always got it just right first time

I love those fold-ins as much as anybody, and the snappiest answers to the dumbest questions still make me laugh, but when it came to the real strength of Al Jaffee, it was all right there in some simple lines.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Viewmaster horrors: Electra Woman and Dyna Girl in the dark


I can not understate how much Electra Woman and Dyna Girl freaked me the hell out. I never saw any of the TV series, all I had was the Viewmaster reels when I was five years old, and I looked at them hundreds of times and had no goddamn idea what was going on.

One thing I always found weirdly creepy about Viewmaster was the silence of the things, and the way you could only hear your breathing as your vision was fully immersed in the eyepieces. It gave everything an eerie sheen, even the most kid-friendly of reels

I had dozens of them, including an excellent Hulk one (the best part was the change, where one eye saw green and the other saw flesh tones, so you got a weird effect of both), but Electra Women was the freakiest by far.

I didn't know what the TV show was, or who any of these people were and decades later I can still remember my confusion over what Spider Lady had to do with Spider-Man. He was a good guy, and this was obviously a villain, but she had a clear rip-off of the Marvel hero's costume. 

And then there were the weird stages they were prancing around on, and the darkness of the images, the detail of the tarantulas on the boot. I never forgot any of them, and only recently found them on the terrific gray flannel suit blog

Looking at them now, I feel a bit traumatised all over again. Nobody involved in the making of this ridiculously silly TV show could have any idea how much they would still haunt me decades later, but good job all round, gang.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Comic book Frank Castle is the only real Frank Castle

I'm an absolute mark for bright, colourful infographics full of incredibly useful data, so of course I got Tim Leong's wonderful Super Graphic book as soon as it came out, back in 2013.

It's been a good book to dip into, because it's so full of information about comic books that I frequently have to update the brain (especially when there are more holes than I'd care to admit). And every time I dip into it, I find something fascinating that I totally forgot about. That's just the way my head works.

But I never, ever forget my favourite graphic in the whole book, which is the one above comparing the death tolls racked up in the movie versions of the Punisher to the comic book counterpart.

I like it because it shows that on pure body count, the original comic book Frank Castle is the true grim reaper, stacking up tens of thousands more than his cinematic versions. All the blood he spilled in the 80s and 90s, all the massacres Garth Ennis put him through, it all adds up for the Marvel Universe Frank Castle. (Although I can not count the Cosmic Ghost Rider version of the man. I can not sanction such buffoonery.)

And I have to respect the effort it would take to go through every single Punisher comic and make note of a death, just for one slightly absurd infographic. That's funny than a bullet in the face.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

No future in this kind of horror movie

It really did feel like Anthony Hickox was everywhere for a couple of years in the world of low budget horror, directing fluff-tastic fun like the two Waxwork films and Sundown, before making the logical next step to horror franchises that actually played in movie theatres near me, including a Hellraiser and a Warlock in the early 90s.

And I haven't seen a single thing he's done since then. His IMDB is full of ultra-low budget action schlock and episodes of TV shows that nobody remembers, as the mid-range market for the kind of films he made dried up.

It just feels weird to me - he was one of the new faces of horror, just as I was going through my peak horror phase, and his films had a definite charm and some style to them. And then nothing. There is no obvious path for a career as a filmmaker, but it looks like it can all dry up and blow away so fast, like the dust of a Dracula.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The many faces of Maggie

One of the many, many regular pleasures of reading brand new Love and Rockets comics is seeing how Maggie Chascarillo - the central character in Jaime Hernandez's stories - has changed her look, while always remaining 100 percent Maggie.

Over the 40+ years of Locas stories, Maggie has slowly grown older, while constantly changing her look and style, just like we all do over time. She gets different hair cuts, her weight goes up and down, she carries herself in different ways. Always different, always Maggie, down through the years. The fact that she has always been absolutely and instantly recognisable as the same character is a testament to Hernandez's vast skills.  

The next generation of Tonta doesn't change that much, but she has lots of time. Hopey also obviously changes, and because we don't see her as often as we used to, it's always a little surprising to see how much sharper and more wiry she's getting every time. But only a little bit surprising.

The latest issue of the most excellent comic in the world just came out last week, and because she's going through a transitional period - (it wouldn't be shocking if the planned marriage never quite manages to happen) - Maggie is changing her look again. While her hair cut isn't short enough to start any new revolutions, she looks more confident and outgoing when she changes from a comfortable long dress to hiking gear. Even if she can't get up the pole.

You can't judge a book by its cover and you can't judge a Maggie by the way she dresses, but to see a comic character change and grow over many, many years - like most of us manage to do - is always an absolute delight.

(Also a delight: Beto's tale of the fate of Rex in the new issue. Just the best comic, man.)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Shook by a seventh issue

There will always be a part of me that sincerely believes that the absolute best way of consuming comic books is in big chunky reprint issues published on the highest quality baxter paper in the early 1980s. It's the only real way to read superheroes.

That's how I collected all the Green Lantern/Green Arrow reprints of the seminal O'Neill/Adams run in the 90s, with all that social justice and thundering punches really popping on the nicer paper. I got all six of them at second hand bookstores in the 90s - nearly 30 years ago now - and have read and enjoyed these adventures many, many times since. Arrow and his goatee was never groovier, and Lantern's space punches were never more powerful.

And for nearly 30 years I thought I had all the comics in that series until I went to the latest kilo show at the local comic store and in bteween all the other cheap and funky old comics, I found #7 of something I always assumed was a six-issue series. 

I was so convinced I had every issue DC had published back in the last century, and somehow I never, ever stumbled across any evidence of a seventh. And if I missed that, what else have I missed?

I read old Amazing Heroes for fun, and have haunted comic shops all over the world, and somehow still managed to miss this ever existed. So how many other blind spots are out there? Is there a 13th issue of Watchmen? Was there an Ambush Bug special that slipped by?

I don't have a lot of real man skills, but I wish I could put my knowledge of the dopiest fucking comics in the world on my CV, because that shit is world class. I'll argue the merits of those fucking Badger comics by Mike Baron; or how no food will ever taste as goo as the boars in Asterix looked; or the exact moment Cam Kennedy stripped his art style back and stylized up. (It's the Sunday Night Fever story in Judge Dredd, if you're wondering.)

I can say all this nonsense with such complete confidence, but I had just as much confidence that there were only six issues of Green Lantern comic before last week, and I didn't know what the fuck I was talking about.

I'm not saying a lifetime of reading comic books means you need to have a big 'what does it all mean?' meltdown when you find an issue at the fucking kilo sale. But I need to have one, all the same.

(Apart from this, the kilo sale was fucking great, as always. I got a tonne of Superman comics published immediately after I stopped getting them regularly in the mid 90s; way too much GI Joe from the 1980s, including several issues I think I've owned three times now; a couple of issues of Jimmy's Bastards, which I got because I always like Ennis' dumb comedy stuff, don't even get me started on A Train Called Love; some of the excellent Gray/Palmiotti Jonah Hex; a Mr X comic by Seth; Ditko doing Captain Universe and all sorts of other random shit. I might be missing some knowledge, so there's always room for more. More!)

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Marvel Fanfare portfolios #11: Mark Badger

Many of the artists who drew for Marvel in 1980s were distinctive talents, but Mark Badger was on a whole other level. His work rejected the clean storytelling of artists like Buscema and Romita that many other were going for, and producing blocky, almost abstract takes on superheroics. Amazing work.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

When you're at the centre of the universe

I've semi-accidentally watched a bunch of documentaries recently about different youth movements from the 80s and 90s, where they're centred in one place and one time, and where they kids involved are convinced they were at the centre of the whole universe

Dogtown and Z-Boys is the alpha dog in this small subgenre, portraying some broke-ass kids who somehow manage to create an entire subculture that proves to be massive influential.

The thing is they're usually right about being at the heart of the universe. Whatever youth scene you interact with is the centre of your universe when you're growing up, and some just spread out further.  They're almost always clustered in one geographical space, amongst a small bubble of a dedicated crew, and luckily there's always one nerd who likes getting in there with the photography and videography, and could document these things, producing little capsules of time

God bless all these kids, in whatever culture they fell into. For one perfect summer, for one moment of innocence before the real world comes crashing in ,they rule the fucking planet, even if they don't get out of southern California.

Me and my mates didn't rule the world when we were 17, not when we were stuck on the arse end of the world. But we tried. 

We all try. That's what being 17 is all about.

Friday, April 21, 2023

The one movie I couldn't finish

I watch a lot of shit movies and somehow power through them. Even when it's immediately obvious how terrible it is, there's always some faint hope that things will turn out okay, or that there might be one line, or one shot, that makes the time investment worthwhile.

But there was one time I just couldn't do it. It was an innocuous spy comedy starring three incredibly charming and handsome actors, and I couldn't finish it because it was just repulsive to look at, with those actors all glowing like unearthly children.

When This Means War came out in 2011, the overindulgence of color grading had reached some kind of zenith. It had only been a decade since the Coens gave Oh Brother Where Art Thou an old-timey sepia tone, but the entire blockbuster industry was going crazy for it.

With everyone suddenly watching things on def TV everyone could suddenly, the quest was to get colours that popped and shined on these giant new screens, and filmmakers took the whole orange /blue thing to ridiculous degrees.

Everyone was getting in on it, and it's little surprise that Michael Bay really went for it, but the Transformers films were visually incomprehensible anyway, so who cares? But with a film like This Means War - whose wafer-thin plot had two superspies vie for the affections of a civilian woman - there was no Bayhem to distract from what they were doing with the color.

Because it seared my fucking eyeballs when I saw it. You can see traces of it in the trailer, where they tone it down a bit, but the full film was full of people with skin tones that exist nowhere outside the digital realm. They radiated fake heat, while looking more plastic than Barbie.

Even with the ridiculous name, I always liked the director McG - the Charlie's Angels films were actually well judged for what they were: cartoonish popcorn bullshit. (They got very silly very fast, but at least they had more life than the most recent version.) But this attempt at a stylised palette was just too much.

They had Tom Hardy. That should have been enough. They didn't need to make him orange.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Always take it easy with the backing out


When people talk about movies influencing behaviour, it's because they're trying to find an easy excuse for something that has happened in the real world - somebody is only a killer because he watched Childs Play 3 and that is a far easier thing to blame than the whole big mess that is modern society. 

But it can also influence behaviour in tiny ways that don't really mean anything, except they stop you from doing stupid hit. They can make you think about something you do every day, and consider how it could all go horribly wrong.

So I've only see Adaptation a couple of times, but I think about that car crash when Chris Cooper backs out of his driveway every time I reverse the car away from our own house. I always take it super slow until I'm absolutely sure we're clear, and then we move. 

Because every single time I'm thinking about that crash from the movie - that suddenness, that horror that comes from casually chatting with family only to cut to the awful silence afterwards.

Even before I started ferrying our young children around on a daily basis, I was taking it slow. And I'll take it slow every time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Ace Trucking Co: The colour out in space

 Massimo Belardinelli's artwork for the ridiculous Ace Trucking Co strip - published in 2000ad in the early 80s - was genuinely amazing. Belardinelli's humans were always stiff as hell - his people in profile were flat from neck to ankles - but when he was given the opportunity to create dozens and dozens of the most insane aliens ever drawn, he stepped the sneck up.

The comic's jokes and jargon from writers John Wagner and Alan Grant were always pleasantly ridiculous, but the art was sublime, and none more so than in the 1986 annual where you got to see it in glorious colour.

It's legitimately one  of my favourite colouring jobs of all time. The 1986 book was one of the few annuals that actually showed up in my local bookstores when I was a kid, and I can still remember the rush of cracking open that hardback sucker and seeing the book open with Ace looking shinier than ever, with glowing golds and shimmering blue highlights on thicker, richer paper stock. 

It did the impossible and made Beladinelli's work look even more other-worldly than it already did. Even the cold and dark space-ways could be full of colour sometimes. Along with some ridiculous call signs.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Nerds always love their secret codes and leadership votes

I've really lost track of what is happening with the X-Men these days. I try to keep up with the books as they come into the library, but there are so many titles, constantly rebooting, that I can feel so much of it slipping by. I only just caught up on the Judgment Day stuff this past weekend, and have never been to a Hellfire Gala.

This isn't a big deal, because I'm not 15 and the X-Men aren't the most important thing in my life anymore. Besides, so many of my favourite x-characters are acting like fucking creepozoids every time I check in, and I am constantly feeling disgruntled by how they keep doing the dirty to my boy Beast.

But one of the things I have really liked about this whole Krakoa era is that for all its talk of the new evolutions and such, it has been tapping into some of the oldest and most successful ways to engage a nerd audience, and it's almost comforting to see there is some value in the lessons of how they sold the the Legion of bloody Super Heroes.

DC don't really bother with Legion of Super-Heroes comics anymore, but they once had one of the most dedicated fan bases in all of comics. Committed and passionate readers brought in over decades of Legion lore, all digging on the massive cast, the vast array of powers, the cute girls and the absolutely bonkers science fiction concepts.

The audience also got into it because they had some skin in the game. There was interaction between the comic and readers, who got to have their say in how it all went down, and even had a secret language to speak.

Jonathan Hickman is a very serious writer who writes very serious superheroes, and has an obvious affection for the Legion, with homages and pastiches creeping into his work. And there is a definite line between the new Krakoan language and the 30th centure Interlac that kids in the 1960s spent ages avidly transcribing.

Not only that, but you could vote for the Legion's leader, just like the X-books have let readers have their say on the roster for the big team. This shit still works.

The Krakoa thing is stretching out far longer than it really should, and with the hundreds of comics already published under the new status quo, it's all feeling a bit thin. And while I can't fully engage with it - (I'm also pissed about Moira turning bad. Seriously, what is Marvel's issues with smart people being intrinsically susceptible to corruption?) - some things are universal, whether you're on a living island, or far in the future.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Outside The Wall

I spent hours at the local record store, looking at the back cover of The Wall LP, reading the scrawled lyrics on the cover, until I got told to piss off by the surly owner. That store hired out some old video tapes and sold some music, and the only thing I ever remember actually buying from them was the Batman soundtrack by Prince. It smelled weird, a bit dusty, a bit musty, a bit sweaty and a lot dopey. That's the smell of the Wall for me.

There's a moment, very early on in the transition from childhood to being an adult, where music suddenly becomes very, very important. It's something to do with hormones and brain development and all that, but we all go through it, and can only hope our first great musical love won't embarrass us forever. 

My first love was The Wall. The album, the movie, the live show - the whole damn thing. Every brick of it.

When I was 12, my mate Stephen Albert taped his brother's copy of Momentary Lapse of Reason onto a blank casette for me, and that was the first music that was ever mine. It was booming and hollow in all the best 80s ways, but when Stephen followed that up with The Wall a week later, I was absolutely besotted. 

Like all good schoolkids, I knew all about Another Brick in the Wall (part two), and it's rage against the confines of formal education. And like This Is Spinal Tap, the time I had ever anything about The Wall was a poster at a strange cinema in Dunedin, with Gerald Scarfe's beautiful screaming monstrosity giving me all sorts of wonderful new nightmares.

I fell hard for the heavy riffs, the acoustic picking and the awesomely pretentious vision for the whole thing. Underneath it all, I connected with a rock star's plaintive pleading for love and connection, even if he couldn't get out of that fucking hotel room.

And more than that, it was just so weird, and felt so otherwordly. Fuck Narnia and Middle Earth, this was real fantasy just outside the door, where old dead soldiers file past and hammers stalk across the street.

A copy of the movie was the first video tape I ever bought tha twasn't a blank tape I used to record star Wars on. It cost me $35 from the video shop in the Stafford Mall in 1988 money and I literally watched it to death.

By my late teens, I was already a bit embarrassed about my love for the Floyd - it wasn't the kind of thing young punks were meant to listen to - and it took me another decade before I realised that shit didn't mater, and you could like what you like

And when I came back to it, I still knew all the lyrics that had been burned into my brain by those furtive glances in that stinky old store. You never forget your first love.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Marvel Fanfare portfolios #10: Adams, Blevins, Windsor-Smith, Byrne, Chaykin, Ross, Miller, Pratt and Golden

Art by Art Adams

Art by Art Adams

Art by Bret Blevins

Art by Barry Windsor-Smith

Art by John Byrne and Terry Austin

Art by Howard Chaykin

Art by David Ross

Art by Frank Miller

Art by Frank Miller

Art by George Pratt

Art by Michael Golden

Look at this stuff! What a time to be alive! They should have sent a poet.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Iron Maiden's Powerslave: Why can't I live on?

I've put a lot of thought into this and remain conflicted. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son has the sentimental vote - at one point in my life it was a huge metaphor for the new worlds that open up as you get older - and The Number of the Beast might have the single most legitimate headbangers. But after all due consideration, I have to say with a full and wicked heart that Powerslave is Iron Maiden's greatest album.

It's the heavy metal flow of the album that makes it shine above the rest. The powerhouse hits of Aces High and 2 Minutes To Midnight open up proceedings, before several standard Maiden chuggers that could go on any album. 

And then, side two kicks in and it starts to pick up with the rolling thunder of Back in the Village, before the masterpiece that is Powerslave, arguably the band's finest moment, with a thundering riff and a desperate, last gasp chorus about spitting into the abyss that gets even chunkier.

And to follow that up wit their version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is just the most perfect meld of boneheaded lunkery, foppish yearning and genuinely creepy imagery that has been ever committed to vinyl.

It's Iron Maiden at their peak. They did a lot of great stuff before this, and a lot afterwards, but I swear by Eddie's dead gaze that this is their finest moment.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Out the back door of the cinema

So there was a period in my life when I went to the cinema a lot, and then exited through one of the weird side doors. I don't know why I did it, it was just some kind of weird compulsion, but as soon as the credits rolled, I was out the side-exit. 

It was a fucking stupid idea, because sometimes I'd get trapped in some weird cage/staircase; or would end up in the back hallways of shopping malls, where you're really not supposed to be. Very occasionally, you might get tossed straight out into the carpark where you needed to go, but this was rare.

But I always like the way I would end up in some strange places, and see the back facades of buildings. It's the same feeling I get when I go riding in trains when I'm in a strange country, because you get see the real backside of the city, and see what it's really all about. See all thew rubbish, see how the people live.

I don't do that kind of thing anymore, because I'm too fucking old to be climbing fences, and far too dignified to explain to 22-year-old shop managers how I ended up their storeroom. But I still look at the exit every time, and I can't stop wondering what's on the other side.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Mr Robot and Person of Interest: Getting there, eventually

It used to be so easy to keep track of all the interesting TV shows. There were only two channels in our house until I was 18, so it was easy to follow everything that looked the tiniest bit interesting. But now there is literally access to everything all of the time, and it can take some time to catch up with genuinely great stuff.

Sure, we'll watch Squid Game, probably next year sometime. And we'll see if Severance nails the landing before even committing to anything. (Sometimes this works really well, and we'll wait on something like the first season of Heroes, and everybody said not to bother after that, so that was that.) And sometimes I'll just be totally ignorant of pop culture behemoths like Stranger Things.

But I get there in the end with some shows, even if it does take years. It's surprising how easy it is to avoid twists when you have no skin in the game, and when you do get there, you can still be as shocked by all the plot turns as the people who got into it at the start.

So we just started watching Mr Robot, which is loads of fun and already weirdly dated, and I carved my way through every season of Person of Interest just last year. (Couldn't give a shit about the AI shenanigans, but loved the fighting, loved the terseness of its very serious characters, loved Detective bloody Fosco, and adored the way you could watch everybody working around Jim Cavezial and barely disguising their loathing of the man. Excellent work all round.)

It takes you out of the cultural conversation, but sometimes that's a pleasant silence - I have absolutely no interest in reading any think-pieces about Succession ever, because 99% of the writing about Succession is dumb as fuck. And outside the hype, it's easier to get a clearer view of the merits and defects on anything. 

It just takes some patience, and a willingness to led the flood of new stories flow over you and away. It's so easy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Whatever happened to Big Jim?

There was a time in my life when Big Jim was bigger than Elvis, Evel Knievel and Muhammad Ali in my mind. I was only four years old, but I knew how the world worked.

Big Jim was everywhere - in my comics and in the toy stores and out on the playground - but nobody ever talks about him anymore. When are we getting the Big Jim cinematic universe, with Big Jack, Big Josh and Big Jeff facing off against the noble but villainous Dr Steel?

His main gimmick was that he could do karate chops. They've made movies out of less.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The novels of John Darnielle: This back road doesn't go where you think it's going

I'm still doing this weird one-person book club thing,  and it's still paying off to a breathtaking degree. I took a few months off, but kicked into it again earlier this year with the excellent Space Invaders by Nona Fern├índez, and I've just finished Alice Ash's Paradise Block, a terrifically eerie set of kitchen sink surrealism shorts.

I had some strict rules about this thing, but rules are made to be broken. I'm supposed to be concentrating on novels - I find most short story collections to be really tiring, because having to learn a whole new world and bunch of character every 20 bloody pages - but the connective tissue of Ash's book makes it so much easier to digest.

And I just did my first repeat author, coming back for more from the same voice. And I'm a little embarrassed about it, because this whole thing has been about get out of my comfort zone, and reading more books by women and non-English writers, and the first one I come back to is a white cis guy from an indie rock band.

But John Darnielle's Universal Harvester was so good, and the premise for his Devil House novel sounded so interesting, and different from the rest of the books on offer. (Browsing through the back covers every month mean you notice a lot of trends creeping in, there were months where every second book was about someone going home for a parent's funeral, and now the shelves are awash with women suffering ,which is starting to feel a little pervy, to be honest.)

It did turn out to be something different. Like the earlier novel, Devil House really is not what it looks like, because you think it's going to be something about the satanic panic of the 1980s, and there are a cast of young people ready to be railroaded into injustice, and the way these stories are reported and repeated and change over time.

And then it's not about that at all, it's about the weird artistic thrill that everyone goes through when they transition from school life to the adult world. And then it's about something else, and then it's something else again and I still don't know what it means, but I like that sensation so much, and will always love a story that leaves me a bit baffled.

(I can't give any more details about the specifics, because the less you know, the more you enjoy it.)

As much as broadening my horizons, that was another reason for the book club - to have stories that linger and are worth thinking about, and take you down back roads you didn't know existed. Who fucking knows where you might end up?

Monday, April 10, 2023

I just thought his wriggling nose was neat

They always used to say that Superman and Batman were eternally 29 years old, and always in their absolute prime. Old enough to have some experience in life, and the small wisdoms that come with it, but still capable of the most outstanding physical feats.

It's still probably just a coincidence that I really started to sour on superhero comics at the same age. I didn't really go off them just because I was older than Bruce Wayne now. It was because Identity Crisis came out when I was 29. 

I had been a full-time American superhero nerd for more than two decades at that point, and was deeply invested in all the lore. While the sheer amount of stuff being produced meant I was slowly falling behind on the various continuities, I still loved all that goofy and soaring super-shit.

Even in the late nineties, it felt like there were some real possibilities for the long-running superhero sagas. Marvel and DC had both crashed hard from the amphetamine highs of the early 90s, and were almost totally wrecked, which is where you start to get all the interesting stuff. 

At Marvel, there was an unlikely hero in Joe Quesada, who proved to be a better businessman than penciller - and he was a fucking great penciller! - and was about to take things to the next level as editor in chief, with the mind-blowing notion of letting great creators go crazy on these characters before they got stale.

At DC, they were flailing around for a new direction - I still think there were three main choices between Waid, Morrison and Johns, and they went with the Johns, which always tasted a bit too mean for my liking, with the naked sentimentality mixing uneasily with the limb-shredding super carnage. If you're going to be nasty, be nasty, don't try to mix it with the hopeless optimism of the superhero.

So it wasn't really a surprise when Identity Crisis came along, and did a 'Everything You Know About Those Goofy Fucking Justice League Comics Is Wrong, Because There Was Loads Of Rape and Mind-Wiping Going On Between The Fights Against The Fucking Shaggy Man', and in righteous hindsight, I have to say that soured things forever.

It wasn't just that they were trying to put the grossest shit on characters that were really not built for it, or because it had all the worst kinds of revisionist tendencies, shitting on the innocent original series and tainting them with that stink forever more, without really saying anything new.

It was because DC were so goddamn enthusiastic about it, and so pleased with it, and that this was the sort of thing they would be doing for years to come. Ham-fisted mining of childhood delights, instead of forging into the new. And fuck you, if you liked it when Elongated Man wriggled his nose.

I have no idea what the real status of the DC universe is any more, or if Identity Crisis still counts, I think there have been at least five reboots since then, so who knows? I do like stories that are ultra grim and serious and intense and all that, but that isn't what I want from superhero comics. took me three decades to get there, but I got there.

Also, when I turned 29 I got a proper career that I still deeply love, and a beautiful wife who has given me all the greatest things in my life, and with all that going on, who really has time to worry about super heroes crying in the rain?

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Marvel Fanfare portfolios #9: Bob Mcleod

Old-school New Mutants by Bob McLeod is the only true school.