Friday, June 12, 2020
I am terribly, terribly sorry to report that Dennis "Denny" O'Neil has passed. I am often genuinely saddened when I see someone has gone on to their reward, but sometimes it hits harder.
It is difficult to measure the impact O'Neil had on comics, popular culture and culture writ-large. And I doubt many people outside us comics nerds (and possibly only comics nerds of a certain age) know his name. O'Neil was one of the giants, someone I "liked" as a kid when I'd read his stuff, but as an adult and went back through the history of DC and saw all he'd accomplished?
O'Neil is one of the creators largely responsible for the version of Batman you know and love. He revitalized and solidified Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), making them relevant as sounding boards for the issues of the day. He updated Superman and took on the challenge of turning Wonder Woman into a secret agent (with mixed results). You may know the long runs on Batman that wound up informing Batman: The Animated Series, or the famous "Hard Travelling Heroes" period of Green Lantern/ Green Arrow. His run on Superman is actually pretty well written, if unsustainable. The run on Wonder Woman is flat out wild and strange, and - issues though it may have - it's a fascinating attempt to try to update (and maybe a good cautionary tale for every time the internet tells DC to update Wonder Woman).
I first learned his name, I believe, on the cover of The Question (along with Denys Cowan), and soon I looked for his name in association with a certain level of storytelling I thought surpassed most of what was on the rack.
O'Neil didn't just tell stories that took DC heroes on new journeys and challenged them in new ways, he invented a large number of characters for DC and more. Those characters were a huge part of comics of my youth from O'Neil and others, and wound up in cartoons, movies and more. Scroll down this page to see a list of his contributions.
It's odd to see the passing of someone who was part of the second generation to enter comics, the folks who were handing off the torch as I was showing up as a reader. But O'Neil in particular is going to be missed. But us comics folk aren't the type to forget a person's contribution or what they did to advance the narratives that inspire and entertain us. And inspired others to create more on the foundations they built.
We'll miss you, Denny.
Monday, May 25, 2020
Viewing: Unknown. A lot.
Director: Richards Lester and Donner
For more ways to listen.
Everyone loves "Superman II", or at least that's how they remember it. Listen in as two guys who have seen this movie way, way too many times, read too much about it and - frankly - thought more about it than an adult person probably should set about discussing the follow-up to the super-tastic "Superman: The Movie". This one has the big bad-guy fight! But also, weird powers, a shiny disco bed, and will the real Gene Hackman please stand up?
Can You Read My Mind? - Maureen McGovern
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Viewing: oh, you kidders
Director: Richard Donner
Ryan is joined by fellow Superman super-fan, StuartW, as they take on the 1978 superhero film that made the world believe a man can fly. It's a discussion of how lightning was caught in a bottle and set a template that the better superhero films still emulate. It's a geek-out fan-fest as Stuart and Ryan fly high into the movie that maybe both of them have seen way, way too many times.
More ways to listen
Music: - All Songs from Superman: The Movie, OST, composed by John Williams
- Prelude and Main Title March
- The Planet Krypton
- Lois and Clark
- The Flying Sequence/ Can You Read My Mind?
- Finale and End Title March
Ryan's Random Playlist
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Action 252 is the first appearance of the second time DC floated a super girl,* but it brought Kara Zor-El to Earth, not from a dimensional wormhole or anything like we get in fancy, modern stories, but from a loose chunk of Krypton that was just hurling through space with a city and an atmosphere.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
It's Superman's birthday!
Back in the day the editors of Superman comics decided to be cheeky and said the reason Superman didn't seem to age was that his birthday was on Leap Day. So, now, we only get to celebrate Superman's birthday every four years, so you gotta take advantage. Go out there and eat a pint of ice cream or a whole cake in honor of Superman's b-day. It's only every four years.
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Friday afternoon, I saw news that Dan Didio, former writer, promoted to Executive Editor, then promoted to Publisher at DC Comics, was no longer with the company. No circumstances regarding his departure have been reported from DC or Didio, so at this time, it's safe to say Didio's exit was possibly due to a difference of direction from WB and/ or the head of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences - Pam Lifford, who took over DC leadership when Diane Nelson resigned and the structure of DC Entertainment was folded back into WB. There are also rumors about the perceived impact of the coming "5G" event and reshaping of DC Continuity, which, frankly... sounded exhausting as a reader. Other possibilities included workplace issues and the good old fashioned lay-off as ATT goes about restructuring WB.
A lot of artists and writers took to twitter to talk about how Didio had done good by them, with a few popping off here and there. Honestly, some of what I saw about how Didio is a great guy just sounded like basic human decency or Management 101, which really makes me wonder what the heck it's like actually working in comics when "he said he'd take responsibility for the thing he is responsible for" is the bar for a great humanitarian in comics. But, still, the expressions seemed sincere, and while I'm aware there's a tendency in creative fields to not burn bridges and overly laud anyone exiting, I'll take these creators at their word.
Longtime readers will know - I am not a fan of Dan Didio.
Monday, February 17, 2020
Today marks the 100th birthday of the late, great Curt Swan. For those taking any kind of deep dive into Superman as a long-running comic book character, it doesn't take long before you start producing your list of giants associated with the character's creation and adventures - and Curt Swan is top of the list.
Siegel and Shuster created Superman, but eventually many of the art duties fell to first Wayne Boring, and then as we transitioned into the mid-Silver and Bronze Age, Swan became the primary pencil behind Superman. For about three decades Swan drew covers and interiors of Adventure Comics, Superman and Action Comics, and saw the end of his reign with the new era that began post COIE. In his tenure he created such characters as Supergirl, Titano, Lucy Lane and many more.
I became familiar with his work through a mish-mash of back-issues and collections of Silver Age comics, and he's very much locked in my mind as one of the best of the best. It's astounding to see the care put into every panel of his art and how his own style evolved to meet (and often exceed) the times.
More about Curt Swan from Comic Vine and Wikipedia.
Sunday, February 16, 2020
The Supergirl TV show has run for five seasons on, first, the CBS network and now The CW. That's roughly 22 episodes (plus) per season with a cast that has shifted, story elements come and gone, and now survived a Crisis on Infinite Earths. It's a bit messy to explain how the events of Season 1 line up with what's happening now on the show, but one can if they're willing to experience nose bleeds and dizziness.
It's one of the shows I am probably watching now more out of habit than anything, but I don't *dislike* the show. Every season has an arc and gives the characters arcs of their own to work through.
DC Comics released their solicitations for May comic releases, and announced that issue 42 will be the final issue of this run of the Supergirl comic book series.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Superman #18Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
DC wasn't coy about the coming storyline for Superman comics. Issue 18 of the current comic entitled Superman (this is, I think, the 5th volume of an American comic to carry that name), delivered. And rather than make Superman's reveal/ confession to the world a surprise, or play it as a trick or cliff-hanger or any of the other usual stunts I'm used to from many-a-comics-creator or editorial mandate, they simply did the thing.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Format: HBO Streaming on Amazon
We launch our Kryptonian Thought-Beast series with an (exhausted) examination of our fishy friend's blockbuster cinematic success! And we ask "Why? Why did people like this movie? For it is not a good movie." Join Jamie and I as we discuss the dude-bro who would be king of 3/4ths of the Earth.
Aquaman Theme - Power Records, Sounds and Stories about the Justice League of America
Kryptonian Thought Beast PodCast Series
Sunday, June 9, 2019
I really didn't know what to expect when DC announced their second show in their DC Universe app exclusive line-up would be Doom Patrol. From the pictures shared, the comics would be roughly based on the late 1980's/ early-90's-era Grant Morrison-penned (with art by Richard Case, Doug Braithwaite, Scott Hanna, John Nyberg, Carlos Garzon) comics. But with a slightly different line-up, what with Rita Farr there front and center.
My initial exposure to Doom Patrol as a team was via issue #1 of this series - Morrison had come on in the mid-30's - written by Paul Kupperberg. Frankly, I'd been completely enamored with the first couple of issues (long since disappeared from my collection, even before The Purge). It was so weird and dark and uncomfortable - starting at a point where people were assembling, talking about a team that had preceded them had died. Badly. Somehow it felt more adult and frank than the way X-Men never seemed to quite exit high school.
Friday, May 24, 2019
At the end of last season, I'd kind of given up on the CW superhero shows. Maybe there was some residual guilt - after all, I no longer have that mania for all things comics I once did, and whenever I realize I no longer care about something comics-related, it makes me... kind of sad? That said - these days, there's so much superhero content out there, I long ago let go of watching *everything*, and now I'm lucky if I watch much of anything.*
I find a lot of network TV a chore - 22 episodes or so per year is a lot to watch in sheer time allotted. But, more than that, unless you're talking 30 minute sitcom or a show that's more episodic in nature, keeping the thread over twenty-two 45-minute chapters is a lot of narrative to keep track of. Frankly, it feels like it's too much for the writers a lot of the time on these shows, and by the time we'd get to the season finale, speaking especially of those CW superhero shows, it can feel like a tortured mess that you just want to see end more than you care about the events of the finale.
Anyway - after watching both The Flash and Supergirl for a few seasons, at the end of last year, Jamie and I decided to hang it up.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Aside from Justice League Action and Young Justice, I have a hard time getting excited for the DC animation films or shows. While a country mile better than Marvel's cartoons and their paceless plotting (but kudos as their animation has finally caught up), with the end of Brave and the Bold and the hard pivot with Flashpoint, DC decided the only thing to do was aim squarely at 22 year olds and everyone else could go @#$% themselves.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
Honestly, if you'd told me 20 years ago that in 2018 there would be so much superhero stuff on TV and at the movies I wouldn't blink to miss a Teen Titans tv show, let alone a movie (and, indeed, that Teen Titans would be a household word), I think you would have blown my 1998 mind.
So, I don't watch Teen Titans Go! 95% because I only have so many hours in a day. When the film of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) came out, I was busy and just didn't see it, but everyone was telling me it was great, so I picked it up "on-sale" via Amazon Streaming (thanks for the tip, Stuart).
Yeah! It's weird, super fun stuff. Kid safe, but wonderfully absurd for the adults - it's just amazing how the movie works on two different levels in virtually every scene and with every line. When the kids who saw it now return to it in a few years, I think they'll be genuinely surprised at what WB and DC signed off on here - it all feels like one long in-joke for comics fans, paired with the absurdities of comics AND the superhero movie boom, playing as a moral lesson the movie explicitly does not care about (giving us the best/ most honest ending I've seen in a kiddie cartoon in a while).
Anyway - I totally dug it. And cannot believe this gem exists.
Kudos to the Teen Titans Go! voice cast - that is some A+work. And to the celebrity voices who dropped in, like Nic Cage as Superman.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
When I saw the first trailers for Shazam!(2019), I sort of died a little inside. The notion of a superhero who doesn't know how to superhero getting tips from a geek he doesn't really want to know on how to superhero as they go to the mall, pose for cameras, enjoy the fame but are still a selfish jerk despite the powers... it all seemed like something a 90's kids movie would do. Were it any character but Captain Marvel/ Shazam, it would have been the stuff of a TV movie of the week from the 1980's, upgraded to a $30 million film with JTT in 1996.
I'm not sure this movie isn't exactly that movie in 2019 terms, but if you're going to do it, this one is at least charming, and - for a superhero movie from DC - shockingly upbeat throughout. While the stakes are high, the scale of the movie remains contained, and I was surprised how much I missed a superhero movie that wasn't immediately going to end in genocide if the lead character failed in their duty.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Format: DC Universe Streaming
This week is becoming Steel-tastic as we return to a version of the Steel origin source material.
In 1992, DC Comics famously killed and resurrected Superman in a triptych of narrative arcs, , first downing him with Doomsday, then keeping Superman dead for a few months before bringing him back to save the day/ Earth.
It's a very 90's-tastic comic series, and your mileage will vary as you read it now.
Reign of the Supermen (2019) kinda sorta retells the story of the second two arcs post-Death of Superman as four new beings arrive on the global scene, all claiming some bit of Superman's legacy. From back in Ye Olden Comicks Days, this is where we got Steel, Superboy (Conner Kent), Cyborg Superman and The Eradicator. Surprisingly, over the years, these characters have endured unlike near any others spinning out of a major event, which is a testament to the solid core concepts each character embodied and how they fit into the DCU like puzzle pieces.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Format: Warner Archive BluRay
Decade: 1990's (oh, so 1990's)
Steel (1997) is not a good movie, but it's not exactly as terrible as memory of watching it on VHS at some point in the distant past had led me to believe. It's also a reminder of how *bad* many of the DC movies have been since this period, from Catwoman to Green Lantern, to Batman v Superman. This movie was filmed on a low budget with no faith in it, no major stars, and based on a C-List character who, really, is a carbon copy of Iron Man. And, still, beat for beat, this movie makes more sense and flows better than Aquaman.
Friday, December 28, 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
The Invisible Mafia - Part 3
Script - Brian Michael Bendis
Art - Yanick Paquette
Colors - Nathan Fairbank
Letters - Josh Reed
Cover (main) - Patrick Gleason & Brad Anderson/ Cover (variant) - Francis Manapul
Associate Editor - Jessica Chen
Editor - Michael Cotton
Group Editor - Brian Cunningham
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
|variant cover by Amanda Conner, w/ colors by Paul Mounts|
The Killers of Krypton - Part Two
Script: Marc Andreyko
Pencils: Kevin Maguire
Inks: Sean Parsons
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: (main) Terry and Rachel Dodson/ (variant) Amanda Conner w/ Paul Mounts (colors)
Editor: Jessica Chen
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham