Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From the Dust Bin: Judy of the Jungle

Judy of the Jungle appeared for about two years (between 1947-1949) during the golden age as a feature in Exciting Comics (published by Nedor) where she soon replaced the Black Terror as the lead cover feature. Judy was one of a long line of jungle girls who cavorted throughout Africa encountering all manner of wild beasts and native threats.

Her stories ran in issues #55-69 of Exciting Comics. A cowboy character "booted" her off of the covers for the last couple of issues of her run.

This page is the first part of one of those text pages that comics used to run in order to satisfy postal requirements for magazine rates.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How NOT to do a Superhero Movie: Catwoman (2004)

Halle Berry truly earned a Razzie Award for her turn as something-that-tried-to-pass-itself-off-as-Catwoman; but she failed miserably to achieve that goal.

After assaying the iconic role of Storm in the X-Men films, also to mixed results, the Oscar winning actress seemed more than desperate to channel the Eartha Kitt, version of Catwoman from the campy old Batman television. Apparently nobody thought to clue poor Halle in that the late Ms. Kitt wasn't the best actress to tackle the famed Gotham City vixen. Julie Newmar still owns the role!

Adding insult to injury, Batman doesn't even appear in the film, and I don't recall whether he is even mentioned. I guess I was laughing too hard the only time that I managed to watch this turkey.

Speaking of vixens, the real sad thing about this dumb movie, is that DC Comics had a similar African-American character named "Vixen" who could have served as a nice model for this film, of course then the producers wouldn't have been able to trade on a better known heroic name, but maybe now they are wishing that they had thought outside the "litter" box.

Jo-Jo Congo King vs "The Vulture Birdmen" (Fox Comics; 1948)

[Click to make bigger] Sorry guys, I really had intended to run a Rulah story today, but this particular Jo-Jo tale is far better and more enjoyable than the few remaining Jungle Goddess stories that I have access to. Jo-Jo is cut from the same cloth as the Johnny Weismuller version of Tarzan. He speaks broken English, wears a loin cloth, and rights wrongs throughout the dark continent.

In this exciting story, Jo-Jo's first attempt to take on the winged menace of the title, earns him nothing but scorn and derision from his own tribesmen after his failure to succeed, but he soon gets the hang of flying and then the tables are effectively turned on Sootho (and hey, Jo-Jo gets to canoodle with the luscious Tanee afterwards anyway, so why feel sorry for him?).

Trivia: The "Stan Ford" who is credited at the top of the splash page is nothing but a pseudonym for Jack Kamen, who provides the excellent art on this tale, including several super-nice "good girl" art panels originally published in Fox Comics Jo-Jo Congo King #11 (February 1948). Enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

On the Tube: Virtuality

If you blinked you probably missed Virtuality last night, but this potential series pilot from executive producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar: Galactica) and director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock) aired with stellar reviews from multiple sources and ye Catacombs editor heartily agrees. With Galactica gone and Lost returning in January for its final season, genre fans need all the quality shows that we can get (and we've seen how crappy Heroes has become).

Aboard Earth’s first starship, the Phaeton, a crew of 12 astronauts is on the verge of embarking on an epic 10-year journey crucial to the survival of life on Earth. They have reached the “go” or “no go” point, the critical part of the journey where the crew must commit to traveling to a distant solar system millions of miles away. If they “go,” they cannot turn back.

In order to help the crew endure the long mission, a system of virtual reality modules is installed aboard the starship. These modules allow the crew to assume various identities and enjoy a variety of adventures, until a flaw is discovered in the system.

Each crew member can assume adventurous, avatar-like identities as they explore self-created worlds and scenarios, or simply spend quality down time as themselves in the ultra-life-like simulators. From a war hero to a rock star to secret lovers on an island, these are their psychological lifelines, and each module’s unique setting was chosen by the crew member before departing Earth.

But there is a “bug” in the system.

As crew members go in and out of reality, they realize that a virus has entered their private world. Questions are raised, and suspicions fanned: Is someone on the crew responsible? When the interloper’s intrusions cross a violent and disturbing line, the ship’s commander makes a difficult decision to shut down the modules. But before he can, a tragic event threatens the mission. Is it an accident or a crime? Real or virtual? Whatever the case, it’s too late to turn back, so the group ventures forth into space, fearing that they may be harboring a person or presence determined to derail their vital mission. Meanwhile, tensions are heightened even further as surveillance cameras capture their every move for a reality series back on Earth.


Hopefully the positive word of mouth will help send this thought-provoking show to series, but if not, seek out a copy of it in any way shape or form that it can be found. Its that good!

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Farrah Fawcett (RIP)

Easy pick this week with the sad news of one of the original Angels passing away. Farrah Fawcett (February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009) shot to television immortality in the 1970's on Charlies Angels opposite Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.

She led a storied existence and had numerous ups and downs with her career and personal life, but she held in there and earned her fair share of accolades and awards.

Many condolences go out to her family, friends and fans worldwide.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

From the Dust Bin: Jigsaw (Harvey Comics)

Jigsaw was created by Joe Simon for Harvey Comics short-lived superhero line, Harvey Thriller, but the disconnectable "Man of a Thousand Parts" only survived for two issues published between September and December 1966.

The feature was drawn by Tony Tallarico, with the writing credited to Otto Binder. The series had several backup features like "Super Luck" in issue #1 and "The Man From SRAM" (art by Golden Age veteran Carl Pfeufer) in #2. The first issue also featured a science fiction story drawn by EC Comics great Reed Crandall. It has been speculated that some work for a third issue may have existed when the line was cancelled.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"X" Marks the Spot .... maybe!

I haven't been able to buy any of the X-Men books in so long that it is with great trepidation that I find myself finally picking one up, and even anticipating another.

Veteran writer Chris Claremont, who originally penned the popular teams adventures for 16 years, recently returned as scribe for the merry mutants with June's X-Men Forever #1. Claremont was a guest at this years Heroes Convention, and I happened to be in line while he was verbally jousting (in a nice way) with fans over what happened to Wolverine in the new series first issue, and the relative merits of replacing the adamantium-laced mutant in the X-Men with the villainous Sabretooth. As Mr. Claremont put it, following little effective repartee from the folks gathered in his long line, "Wouldn't you rather read something that you haven't seen before, than just another rehash of the same old thing?" Well, we'll see, Chris!

One other big draw for X-Men Forever is the artwork of Tom Grummett, which gives the book a solid penciller with proven storytelling skills & a pleasant style that appeals to fans of classic Marvel imagery.

July hopefully brings another "X" book with promise, Uncanny X-Men: First Class #1, written by Scott Gray with art by Roger Cruz. This one is supposed to cover the early days of the X-Men’s "Second Genesis" group of Cyclops, Storm, Banshee, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Phoenix; all sporting their classic, original (and sorely missed) superhero costumes!

Each of these comics appeals to ye Catacombs editor because of certain classic elements (like the spandex super suits) which hearken back to the days when comic book professionals weren't embarrassed to be writing superheroes-who looked like superheroes, so if you're like me, keep your fingers crossed and give these books a shot.

The "real" Guardians are here!

I'm still recuperating from Heroes Convention, thinking about Dragoncon and mulling over attending my first Baltimore Con. We'll see!

Here for your amusement is a look at a small portion of the swag that I purchased in Charlotte, NC. I actually found a nice, mint copy of Marvel Presents #3 last year, but I managed to locate a near mint run of Marvel Presents #4-12, so now I have the entire Guardians of the Galaxy series which was published between April 1976 and August 1977. I paid $2.50 apiece for these gems by writer Steve Gerber and artist Al Milgrom.

I will probably post a Rulah story tomorrow, so head back over and check it out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Heroes Convention (Day 3) .... Sunday

Overall, this years Heroes Convention was just as fun, exciting & cool as usual. I picked up the entire run of the original Guardians of the Galaxy series in Marvel Presents and three issues of Ms. Marvel, all from the 1970's - in high grade for cheap (in fact, I believe these books were warehouse copies, since they appear never to have been read). I got them for $2.50 apiece. I also picked up a small stack of other late 70's and early 80's books to plug holes in my collection, for about a buck each.

I scored a few commissions from David Wachter (Scar Tissue, Guns of Shadow Valley), Stephanie Gladden (Cartoon Network Block Party), Joe Staton (Scooby Doo, E-Man) and Guy Davis (BPRD, Nevermen). Arranged a few interviews which will be upcoming in the Catacombs (tease).

Stood in lines from hell to get stuff signed by Ed Brubaker, Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz and spent most of Sunday tracking down all of the eclectic guests who contributed art pieces to the convention program book, so that I could get their autographs. Managed to locate all but three, and they had apparently left early.

I really appreciate those shows where the organizers establish limits on autographed items. Both Claremont and Brubaker showed up long after the con got underway each day of the show, and each time dozens of fans had been patiently waiting for at least a few hours to see these guys AND then these gentlemen blithely signed "everything" that a limited handful of folks brought. I do NOT at all care for the occasional fan who brings a stack of 50 to 100 comics (or more?) to be signed. Let's face it, nobody is that big of a fan and most of those signed items will be going up for sale on eBay. I see no reason to help them out to that extent, particularly when its hot and many other people are patiently waiting. Brubaker seemed particularly oblivious to how long people were waiting. On Friday he had people waiting for 3 to 4 hours as he signed books for TWO people. Each had a stack of no less than 100+ items. Claremont struck me as the kind of guy who likes to hold court, waxing on and off about this subject and that subject to amuse his audience. We weren't amused! I don't mind a pro taking a rest here and there, its hard on the hands signing so many things. I understand that a guy will need to eat, go to the bathroom and visit with old acquaintances, but when people are sweating to death and fading right before your very eyes, shut the hell up and sign stuff, buddy. He at least, apologized for the delays every so often, but he too, signed mile high stacks of comics & books without end for a few miscreants.

Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction and Jeff Smith had lines that were equally as long - or longer than the two mentioned above - but they went above and beyond the call to get their fans through the lines quickly. Bendis even brought cookies to pass out to those people who were waiting. It makes standing in line so much more tolerable, when the guest is mindful of the crowd. Bravo, gentlemen! You each earned my respect.

Some of the photos that I snapped with my cell phone fouled up, the two up top are from the Sunday quick draw contest. One sheet of paper, a pencil and twenty minutes and a chance to win a nice prize. My 10 year old nephew earned third place on the final day of the show in his age division. Congratulations Jackson, you did a good job!

As a consolation for the messed up photos, here are two more snaps from Saturdays art auction (I don't know the artists names, sorry). The Heroes Convention has a history of helping out charities ranging from the local burned children's fund, to assisting comic creators on hard times like the late Sam Grainger, but since most of the major publishers scaled back from underwriting costs of the show, the auction helps earn money to cover the costs of bringing each years massive slate of guests to Charlotte. All of these endeavors are worthy causes and everybody has a great time too.

That's it for this year, hope you all can join us next summer.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heroes Convention (Day 2) .... Saturday

The second day of the show started early (we got onto the convention floor at 9:30 am), and ran late (the annual Charity Art Auction was still in full swing when we bailed at 11:35 pm), for some much needed rest.

This year the bargains were a bit more difficult to find, but they were there (you just had to look harder). Strangely, some of the best deals to be had were on original art. I guess that the economy could be credited with this situation, as several artists were offering their pages for affordable prices. The commissions for name artists still seemed par for the course, but Heroes Convention featured "Indie Island" for the fifth straight year. Indie Island is a mini-pavilion within the larger show that is primarily devoted to small press, self-published and independent comics and books. Original artwork and sketches could really be gotten here for money that wouldn't bust your wallet, and the quality of these pieces was very high indeed.

Your photo glimpses into Day 2 of the show offers talented costumers as members of the Green Lantern Corps, Zatanna of the JLA and the Scarlet Witch, and if my hands hadn't been shaking so bad when I snapped these pics of "Z" and Wanda, you would have been better able to appreciate just how smoking hot these gals were. Long legs, curvy figures and bodacious bosoms were the order of the day. There were about a dozen really cute young women decked out as genre characters throughout the show (and somebody else, preferably female, can blog elsewhere about the guys in costume). At least I've shown one photo to represent them, too.!

The last couple of photos were taken at the art auction, with one showing a portion of the dozens of art pieces that were done live at the show by artists like Cully Hamner, Marcus Hamilton & Allison Sohn, or donated by the guests. The highest bid was earned by Frank Cho's incredible illustration of Medusa (au naturel) of the Inhumans. It fetched a whopping $4750.00. I will touch on the art auction more tomorrow when I will be back with a final photo wrap-up of the last day of the show and some of my personal thoughts of Heroes Convention 2009!

Heroes Convention (Day 1) ... Friday

The Heroes Convention kicked off in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday, June 19, 2009 and for those of us who've been to more than a few of them over the last 26 years, the organizers brought back an old perk - letting the advanced ticket holders in a half hour before the general public.

Despite the rush to take in all that the event had to offer, I managed to snap a few photos as I strolled around the floor of the Charlotte Convention Center on day one.

The first shot is a generic view of the floor, followed by the DC Comics booth, the table for Amelia Rules creator Jimmy Gownley, and two of the big guests Frank Cho & Chris Claremont.

I am not the photographer that many of you are, and my focus was a bit split, so be glad that you at least get these quick glimpses into Heroes Con's inaugural day.

I will be back with a few photos for Saturday shortly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Gal" Friday (Double Feature)! Lucy & Michelle

Lucy Pinder and Michelle Marsh are two of my favorite British pin-up queens. While the lovely blond Michelle got the drop on her frequent pictorial partner, in the full Monty department, thankfully both goddesses pretty much show off the "goodies".

I've featured both chicks in past posts, but since these "Gal's" are going up a bit early (due to Heroes Con), I thought that it would be a good time for a return visit.


(And ladies I really do LOVE you both, don't be so shy next time!)

Rise of the Black Lanterns!

Newsarama had a post which linked to the above image, teasing certain elements of DC Comics upcoming Blackest Night mini-series event. I wish that I could say that this promo excited me, but the overall impression that I was left with after viewing it was sadness.

This brought my karma down quite a bit.

The characters that are pictured as likely "Black Lanterns" are as follows: Aquagirl, the golden age Atom, Sue Dibny, the original Firestorm, Captain Boomerang, Blue Beetle, Max Lord, Black Condor, Phantom Lady, the Human Bomb, Psycho-Pirate, the Question, the Elongated Man, Jean Loring, Doctor Light and the Martian Manhunter.

Terrific supporting characters, classic villains and big name super heroic icons who've all perished over the course of recent story lines or over the last several years. And there are even more mentioned in the far left panel, plus others spoiled elsewhere such as Aquaman.

I felt like screaming libel or slander or infamy after seeing it and I do know that lots of folks are happily anticipating this event. The artwork that is shown is topnotch, but to me these great characters are being dragged through the mud. I don't know if I will have the stomach to check this book out or not.

If I thought for one minute that this was going to be the mechanism for reviving a big chunk of them, I could get on board, but I don't think that will be the case at all.

Thankfully, there isn't too much time remaining before this Blackest Night thing all plays itself out. [I am open to spoilers if anyone has the inside track.]

It's Here - Heroes Convention - Tomorrow!

I am packing even as we speak, and preparing to head for Charlotte on the morrow for three days of comics hijinks's. I may not get into any trouble while I'm there, but one never knows.

Posting will likely take a backseat to the convention festivities, so there may not be anything new from me until late Sunday. "Gal" Friday will be added later tonight, so don't fret boys!

Let me also take the time to thank my growing coalition of "Followers". I appreciate your patronage and the comments that you make from time-to-time. I hope to continue making it worth stopping by. Upcoming in the Catacombs, will be more "How NOT to do a Superhero Movie", the kick-off of my 1980's Flashbacks, a few interviews that I'm planning on lining up in Charlotte, the return of Rulah Jungle Goddess, and lots and lots of naked women.

Nah, just kidding about that last one (but as you can see I'm either already under the influence of alcohol or simply giddy from the impending "fun" of the show).

Have a great weekend, wish me luck and smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How NOT to Do a Superhero Movie: Steel (1997)

Steel was a 1997 film starring basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal and future X-Files star Annabeth Gish. It was based on the DC Comics character John Henry Irons, but the film was considered a huge flop both critically and financially when it was released. Steel was produced for an estimated $16 million, but barely grossed $1 million in the U.S., including a mere $900,000 in its opening weekend.

The film was intended to be a spin-off from a new Superman film that used the Death of Superman storyline (which originally introduced the character in the comics). However the project languished in development hell for so long that the spin-off moved forward without the film it was to be attached to and due to an insufficient budget, most of the props (especially Steel's suit) were taken from the Los Angeles junkyard.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Heroes Convention Pre-Commission (Done)!

I've gotta admit that my anticipation for this weeks Heroes Convention mounts with each passing day. Three full days of pure comics bliss, comfort food, booze and loose women. I've just gotta tell ya' that it can't be beaten!

I also took advantage of an offer made by indie artist David Wachter (Scar Tissue, Guns of Shadow Valley) to commission a sketch prior to the show. I like to check as many of the links that some of the guests allow as I can before the blessed day rolls around, and doing so allows me to familiarize myself with the work of folks that I am not familiar with. (Funny how that works out, right?) I will be picking up the original art of this nice drawing once I hit Charlotte on Friday morning, but for those of you who will be unable to attend, here's a nice little glimpse of pre-convention goodness: The Black Terror.


Monday, June 15, 2009

True Blood (2nd Season Premiere): "Nothing but the Blood"

The second season of True Blood premiered on HBO last night, and while I didn’t follow the show beyond a casual glimpse last season, after hearing that star Anna Paquin (who played Rogue in the X-Men film trilogy) was going to get quite naked in the episode – I just couldn’t resist.

She did, and it was well worth my time. Yummy! It has also been widely reported that Ms. Paquin has become romantically involved in "real" life with her costar Stephen Moyer, and I appreciate the chemistry that the two have onscreen. After drooling over young Anna’s "goodies", I definitely envy the guy for all of the non-vampiric noshing that he must be enjoying off camera.

True Blood may not be for everyone’s tastes, but if you don’t mind a little graphic violence, sexuality and mature themes, give it a try. Of course, there are also redneck vampires, shapeshifting dogboys, black magic women, etc. Maybe we’ll get to see even more of Anna Paquin/"Sookie" Stackhouse’s naughty bits on subsequent episodes, and hey, they’ve also got the uber-sexy Michelle Forbes (Ro Laren on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Admiral Cain on Battlestar: Galactica) on the show too. I really wouldn’t mind seeing her doff her duds for the camera once in a while.

Although I've never read any of the Charlaine Harris novels upon which this series is based, if they ever need to cast a king of the Dixie vampires, I think Christopher Walken would fit right in with this crowd.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Microheroes for fun, not profit!

My pal, Wayne has just done a brief post on micro heroes, which he has apparently discovered recently, so I thought I would put up a few of my own - which I did just for fun (and props to the creative souls whose work I may have adopted, adapted or scavenged in order to get my own version to look the way that I wanted it too).

Wikipedia says that micro heroes are basic pixel representations of comic book characters, that are drawn in a very specific cartoon style and displayed all over the web. That about sums them up!
Above (left-to-right) are three micros of "Big Bang" Universe characters: Galahad, Badge and Sphinx.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How NOT to do a Superhero Movie: The Fantastic Four (1994)

The Fantastic Four was produced by low-budget specialist Roger Corman in 1994 to secure copyright to the property. Although the director, actors, and other participants were led to believe otherwise, the producers never intended it for release. Based on the long-running Marvel comic book, this version like its more recent cinematic counterpart also featured the origin of the Fantastic Four and their first battle with the evil Doctor Doom. There was also a mysterious Mole Man-like creature that was referred to as The Jeweler.

The cast and crew did the film for low salaries after being told that if it did not get released to theaters, it would be used as the pilot for a potential television series. Among the duped were Alex Hyde-White as Mr. Fantastic, Jay Underwood as the Human Torch, Rebecca Staab as the Invisible Girl and Michael Bailey Smith as Ben Grimm (another actor wore the rubber suit to portray the Thing).

Filming lasted a month and ended in January 1993, after which post-production began. The erstwhile cast gave numerous press interviews and attended comic book conventions in good faith, however in late 1993; the studio announced that the film would not be released. If you are curious, seek it out in the bootleg bins of any comic book convention in North America.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Miss Atom 2009

Russian Ploy to Make Nuclear Scientists Out of its Women! [If so, count me in, comrade!]

Miss Atom is a beauty contest that is open to working women in Russia's nuclear industry, or female students who are studying nuclear-related subjects. The aim of the competition, which has been run annually since 2004, is to promote the nuclear industry among Russian girls as a popular career choice. General director Ilya Platonov of the company Nuclear.Ru, which has run the competition since 2004, told ABC News, "We wanted to show the general public that the nuclear industry is an industry like any other, and that ordinary people work in it, including young attractive women." Miss Atom 2009 was won by Jekaterina Bulhakowa (pictured; right).

There Is Only One Week Remaining Until Heroes Convention

In one week, from today, the annual Heroes Convention kicks off in the Queen City of the Carolina's - Charlotte, North Carolina.

With a guest list numbering close to two hundred amateur and professional comic book industry faves, there is bound to be something for everyone. I've mentioned the marquee names in an earlier post, and you can also expect to see Nick Cardy, Gary Friedrich, Ethan Van Sciver, Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Jusko, Herb Trimpe, Dick Giordano, Irwin Hasen, Stephanie Gladden, Don Rosa, Colleen Doran, Don Sherwood, Jim Scancarelli, Mark Waid, Budd Root and Roy Thomas, but even these fine talents represent just a portion of yet another stellar line-up that Heroes offers up on a yearly basis. It's become part of the industry lexicon that the Heroes Convention enjoys one of the most loyal rebound effects among its great guest list, with numerous top talents returning again and again over it's more than a quarter century in existence.

The show even shifted to a bigger hall within the excellent Charlotte Convention Center once DC and Marvel Comics opted to return to the show as exhibitors, picking up an additional 20,000 square feet of space. Among other exhibitors of note are Adhouse Books, Boom Studios, Top Shelf and S.C.A.D. (The Savannah College of Art and Design).

The Catacombs simply loves the Heroes Convention, and that includes the main "Heroes" man himself, Shelton Drum (pictured above; left). Shelton has become a pal over the years since I first started going to his mini-cons, when I was in high school, and the events have only gotten bigger & better over the years. I have had the great good fortune to meet so many of my favorite comic book writers and artists, without having to travel very far afield, thanks to his efforts. Now before I get too teary-eyed to continue, let me encourage all of you to pack a bag, empty out your bank account and head for Charlotte. You'll be glad that you did and if not, that just leaves more "fun" for the rest of us!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This guy should play Plastic Man!

Jeremy Howard has appeared in films such as Galaxy Quest, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Men in Black II, The Haunted Mansion, Lady in the Water, Sydney White and Hotel for Dogs. He has also appeared in television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Entourage, Malcolm in the Middle, Undeclared and Scrubs.

If you pay close attention to the new 2009 Wendy's commercial, you will catch a glimpse of him as "Time for Coffee Break Guy", where he looks like he could seriously pass for golden age hero, Plastic Man.

I just thought that I would throw that out there and see if it would stick for any potential film studio that may want to develop the former Quality Comics (and current owner, DC Comics) property.

No need for multi-millions to sign this guy, AND he has demonstrated the comedic chops to pull off the role of "Eel" O'Brien aka Plas.

Now, who could we get to play Woozy Winks?

How NOT to do a Superhero Movie: Justice League of America (1997)

Back in the mid-to-late 1980's, writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis headed up a popular Justice League comic book series for DC that was rebooted after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In 1997, the CBS television network ordered a pilot for a proposed weekly series, based upon the JLA from the Giffen/DeMatteis era. Justice League of America centered on a female meteorologist who gained superpowers and her subsequent induction into the Justice League, while the city of New Metro is held to ransom by a terrorist armed with a "weather control device." Justice League of America never aired in the United States (although it was shown in a few non-US markets). A bootlegged version of the film can usually be found at comic book conventions.

Reviews of the film have been mixed at best, with common complaints of serious plot holes, poor special effects, bad costuming and that the league members deviated heavily from their established source characters. The kindest criticisms have compared the movie to, "Friends" with superpowers!

Comic book writer Mark Waid has described it this way, "80 minutes of my life I'll never get back."

The cast included David Ogden Stiers (Mash) as the Martian Manhunter, John Kassir (Tales From the Crypt) as the Atom, Miguel Ferrer as the villain Dr. Eno/Weatherman and David Krumholtz (Numbers) in a supporting role. Other DC heroes who were featured included, Fire & Ice, Green Lantern and the Flash, but those roles were filled by largely unknown actors (who have thankfully remained that way).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Editorial Diatribe from the Catacombs

In case you didn’t know, the Battle for the Cowl is over and the original Boy Wonder has now succeeded his former mentor in the role of the Dark Knight. Sadly for every old-schooler out here, with the exception of Newsarama voters who overwhelmingly favor the rebooted "Batman and Robin" title, yet another irritating brat has adopted the mantle of Robin. Didn’t we do this all before with Jason Todd? And we’ve all seen where that ultimately led. (Hint: think "Hush", or since DC quickly changed the identity of that more recently revealed villain, I guess not!)

Firestorm, the Atom, the Question and the Spectre (among others) have had their classic, heroic roles ceded over to more politically-correct, ethnic versions who’ve co-opted their names through editorial fiat and happy hordes of non-Caucasians have purchased those series in such vast amounts that sales across the line have been bolstered to much success. Oops! I spoke too soon, that hasn’t actually happened, but at least fans of the original "models" can take heart in reading all of their old adventures. Yeah! That’s a bunch of bullshit too.

Lest we forget, characters are also coming out of the closet left and right, so we’ve been treated to a round of male and female heroes coming to terms with their own sexuality, often in the guises of established identities that were apparently ripe for the plucking.

Now, I’m not going to smear any of these efforts, that is, beyond the implication that as a reader (of, let’s say at least a few decades) I am just not "pleased".

It’s really not as if comics couldn’t stand to introduce such characters, and reach out to every demographic. Hey, it’s been done before. Don’t believe me?

Let me throw a few names at you: Black Panther, John Stewart, Luke Cage, Falcon, Storm, Vixen, and Shang Chi, uh let’s see, maybe …. Northstar. So it can be "effectively" done if the intent is there, and you know, none of these terrific characters stepped on the toes of any hero who preceded them. Now, it IS interesting that it has taken the latest generation of editors, writers & artists to finally strip away the conceit that us old-timers didn’t quite understand that the former Hero for Hire’s original yellow & blue costume was actually the pussy-whipped version, and imply that a shaved head, goatee and regular street threads were all that was necessary to "validate" and "redeem" Luke Cage as a truly heroic character. Sweet Christmas, I’m so damn glad that they cleared that up for us (and let’s not even mention the silver tiara). Okay?

I suppose readers can take heart that Wonder Woman, and some of the other established super ladies of comics, haven’t yet succumbed to graphic rape and other forms of sexual coercion while in the line of duty. No. That fate fell to poor Sue Dibny, but as much as I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, it is bound to happen sooner or late.

Before I close out today’s rant, let me clear up one point that some of you may be curious about: What’s the point of all this?

Nothing, really! I’m just saying, what was the point of all of that jockeying of characterization over the last several years. Well-established heroes were tossed onto the compost heap, just so the same gang of idiots could "say" that they were the "guys" who did this, or did that. I mean just how special is it to be the writer or artist of the fourth, eighth, or twelfth Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or X-Men title each and every month?

Back when each of those properties were featured in only a single title (or two), the "events" happened within the pages of their monthly adventures. Now marketing gurus have stripped all of that away, and given us an unending assortment of crossovers that lead nowhere, except to the next crossover. No wonder today’s creators write story "arcs" for the "trades"; it’s the only way to get noticed within the vast miasma of the comics industry’s massive pile of publishing pabulum.

I am actually not in a bad mood as I pen this ramble. I am gearing up for next weeks Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC. and I know that for the same $3 and $4 dollars that typical comics currently sell for per issue, I can walk in with a minimal amount of cash money and walk out with a stack of 1970’s stuff in highly collectable condition that is FUN to read, beautiful to look at and that feels like it belongs to the same fictional universe that it is supposed to be a part of.

Today, at Marvel for instance, I wouldn’t know where to begin; their regular line of books (if they even still have such), their Ultimate line, and Marvel Adventures stuff. I don’t even know where to begin, and just when I do opt to purchase something that they publish, it has to be something like "The Twelve" and we all know what happened with that top-selling, unfinished series.
Random art above; left by the late Art Saaf.

Monday, June 8, 2009

From the Dust Bin: The Inferior 5

The Inferior Five (or I5) was a DC Comics series that originally premiered in Showcase #62 (1966). It was created by E. Nelson Bridwell, Joe Orlando and Mike Esposito, the group was intended as a parody of all the superhero teams whose members had such great powers that they could have solved any of the crimes put before them singlehandedly, but the I5 had to work together since none of them could have effectively fought crime on their own.

The premise was that the characters were sons or daughters of members of a superhero team called the Freedom Brigade (a parody of the Justice League of America) and most of the I5 were takeoffs of other popular DC characters, although Merryman's appearance was specifically modeled on comedian Woody Allen.

After appearing in Showcase #62, 63, and 65 (1966), they received their own book which lasted twelve issues. The first ten featured all-new material published between 1967 and 1968. In one memorable adventure, they met a group of superheroes who looked deceptively similar to certain Marvel Comics superheroes, but slightly changed to avoid copyright problems, and the I5 fought alongside them to repel an invasion of aliens with hypnotic eyes (and garlic breath). Yuck!

Issues #11 and 12 were published in 1972, and were all reprints, except for new covers. Thereafter they have only appeared sporadically, most notably in Showcase #100, one or two panels in Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Oz-Wonderland War #3 (March 1986), in a superhero Limbo in Animal Man.

The Inferior Five were comprised of: Merryman, the son of The Patriot and Lady Liberty. He is a weakling in a jester outfit and the chosen leader of the group. Awkwardman, son of Mr. Might and the Mermaid. He is super-strong and able to live underwater, but is also very clumsy. The Blimp, the overweight son of Captain Swift, who could fly like his father but, as he lacked his father's speed powers, could only fly at super slow speeds — with a tail wind. White Feather, son of The Bowman. He was a superb archer when he didn't think anyone was watching; people made him nervous (as did just about everything else) and Dumb Bunny, the stupid but super-strong daughter of Princess Power.