Tagged: Batwoman


Whenever my old employer, DC Comics, reprints some of my ancient work, it’s gratifying, particularly if what’s reprinted is one of the “socially relevant” stories Neal Adams and I did in the early 70s, but it can be a little disheartening, too.

The problem is, the stories are for the most part still relevant, and what does that say about the state of the nation? Environmental upset? Yep, still got it. Racism? The folks down in Florida could tell you about that. Addiction? That lovely singer is no longer with us. Overpopulation? Hasn’t improved. American Indians? Some of the nation’s worst poverty is found on reservations that don’t house casinos.

As one of Bill Maher’s guests said on his show last week, it seems unbelievable that birth control could be a factor in presidential politics in the in the twenty first century. I mean…birth control?

But occasionally a glimmer of light shows through the gloom. So let us smile and extend a salute to Batwoman.

Digression: Batwoman and I go way, way back. Fact is, I killed her 40-something years ago. Why? Don’t remember, exactly. Her demise was almost certainly a plot point in the days when comics stories were largely plot-driven, and she must have seemed to be good cannon fodder: a character who, although she was in the continuity, hadn’t done much in a long time and if we needed a snuffee, and I guess we did, she was a good candidate. I do regret ending her offstage; she probably deserved a death scene at the very least.

End of digression: Batwoman is back. Wait – make that a Batwoman, who has the same name(s) as the original, but a different lifestyle. She’s a redhead and…oh yeah, a lesbian. Big deal? In our world, it kind of is since, from the beginning of mass-marketed comics, redheads were forbidden.

Just kidding: it’s gay people who could not grace our little sagas and in this we were one with most other media. In television and most movies, sex of any kind was antiseptic – all those cardboard kisses! – and gay sex was way outside the limits. And if gayness was an element in a story, as in some of Tennessee Williams’ film material, it was no more than hinted at and its practitioners were going to suffer plenty before the last reel.

In comics? Well, one of the characters John Byrne created for his series Alpha Flight was gay, but not too obviously; John’s editor knew of Northstar’s orientation, but I’m not sure anyone else in the editorial department did, not at first. (I’m informed that later creative teams pulled Northstar further out of the closet.) And a couple of years back, Marvel let us know that the ol’ rannie from the western titles, the Rawhide Kid, was gay, news that managed not to shake any foundations. But on the whole, the Kid and Northstar and a few others, including the revamped Question, in private did icky stuff that wasn’t mentioned, except, maybe, in he gutters.

Now, Batwoman. Last week she received a media award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and nobody’s making any secret of the recognition.

Call it one of those glimmers I mentioned earlier. And be grateful for it.

RECOMMENDED READING: Free Will, by Sam Harris.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


“Shelly” Moldoff: 1920 – 2012

One of the last of the Golden Age greats, artist Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff, died today at the age of 91.

Best known for his work on the Batman titles between 1953 and 1967, Shelly first visualized such canonical characters as the original Batwoman, the original Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, Clayface (Matt Hagen), Poison Ivy, and Ace the Bat Hound.

Shelly was a major contributor the DC / AA Comics lines, starting with the sports cartoon “Odds ‘N Ends” published in Action Comics #1. He took over Hawkman shortly after its creation. He also drew Blackhawk, the Black Pirate, Space Ranger, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Batman and Robin team-ups in World’s Finest, an occasional Superman story, Gang Busters, a multitude of Jack Schiff’s public service pages during the 1950s, and the covers for the first appearances of The Flash (Flash Comics #1) and Green Lantern (All-American Comics #16).

During his long and bountiful career, Shelly also drew Kid Eternity for Quality Comics, Big Boy and many other commercial comics, and was one of the earliest contributors to EC Comics.

On a personal note, I had the privilege of hosting Shelly on many comics convention panels and always found him to be an affable, well-informed contributor. He honored my late wife on her 44th birthday with a beautiful recreation of the All-American #16 cover, which featured Linda’s favorite character.

Funeral services will be Tuesday at Kraeer funeral home, 1655 University Drive, Coral Springs Florida.


MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Why I Don’t Like The New 52

For those following along with all of the columnists here at ComicMix, no doubt you checked out Michael Davis’ article “Why I Like The New 52”and Michael made some great points. DC’s reboot of their entire line of superhero comic books was, as he so eloquently put it, ballsy. Oh, but the self-proclaimed Master of the Universe sadly is mistaken. To have completely rebooted 60+ years of continuity would take serious juevos. The fact is, DC hasn’t done anything close to that. It’s a point I’ve been jumping up and down on now for months… and who am I to disregard my own nerd rage over the issue. Let me get my soapbox, megaphone, and crazy pants. It’s rant-time, kiddos.

DC didn’t reboot much. In fact, they merely slapped #1’s on all their issues, and placed a gigantic asterisk besides nearly every single one. To call this the “New 52” is akin to calling Gus Van Sant’s Psycho completely original. You see, DC may have changed the numbering, but they haven’t reset their backstories. That is to say, they did – to a point.

Nearly every book they’ve put out has carefully chosen to pick events, mannerisms, and relationships established over the last half a century… and take us into their continuity mid-stream. You know David Copperfield didn’t actually make the Statue of Liberty disappear, he used a sly game of bait and switch. DC did the same thing. Whenever the fans asked the powers-that-be if a major event from continuity occurred in this new DCU or not… they waved their hands, misdirected us, and said “just keep reading.”

As Michael said, that takes serious balls.

Break it down. The New 52 reset a handful of the major players. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman were all spit-shined and given a thorough makeover. And their books are better for it. Superman’s series had been crushed under event after event. From his “death” to the his “electric blue and red” days, to the rise of New Krypton to its eventual fall, casual fans could hardly hit the shelf and feel like they could relate. Wonder Woman’s title was bounced from several amazing writers, who all tried in their own ways to add depth, class, and angst to Diana’s stories. But aside from murdering Maxwell Lord, what kid on the street could tell you what she did since?

And Aquaman? Where do I begin? Water-hand, squid-head, Sub-Diego. I rest my case. Putting a #1 on those books and forgetting the last 10-15 years, isn’t such a bad idea when your parent company starts clamoring for more widespread appeal, is it?

And other books? Still confusingly convoluted beyond reproach. In the Batman corner of the DCnU, there’s Bruce’s bastard son-turned-Boy-Wonder, Nightwing, Tim Drake, a Black Batman, Batman Inc., a Joker with a misplaced face, Batwoman, and Babs “Miracle on 34th Street” Batgirl. You can put all the #1’s you want on those books, but find me a kid who bought them who didn’t immediately take a stroll down Wikipedia lane to make sense of the countless callbacks to continuity which is now unconstructed. In Batgirl alone, all we know for sure is there was an accident, she lost the ability to walk, she got it back. Did the Joker shoot her? Well, all DC says is “keep reading.”

In Green Lantern’s sector, we have no less than four active Earth Men wearing the emerald ring. For those who picked up their shiny #1’s of GL, GL: Corps, and GL: Emerald Knights were treated to the following backstory: At some point there was this thing called Blackest Night… maybe. Hal Jordon killed a Guardian of the Universe, who had a Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet power set… maybe. Kyle Rayner was the last GL… at some point? Sinestro now has a Green Ring. Again, these plot points were all in their respective #1’s. If you had no knowledge of these characters before starting these books, how would you approach getting your bearings on all this backstory? Ask DC, and they’ll gladly tell you “keep reading.”

Now, let me be clear and fair here. I read a ton of DC books. I love many of them. Of the New 52, Action Comics, Batman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Animal Man, and Justice League Dark barely make it home before they’re read with near rabid fervor. As a fan of all of these characters, I have a great understanding of their mannerisms, backstories, and relationships to fill in the gaps that their respective books have yet to cover. Because modern comics are written more cinematically, their creative teams bank on the fact that their fan base isn’t coming into their books completely cold. In the case of newer characters, or transplants from Wildstorm, these books aren’t fairing so well. With 3 issues in, November’s top sellers were Justice League, Batman, Action, and Green Lantern. Blue Beetle, Omac, and Voodoo? 89. 104. 105. Without the allure of “read and see what continuity we kept, and which we threw out with the bathwater…” fans weren’t as kind.

Before the books all came out, we fans debated hotly how much of our continuity would be thrown into this potluck reset. DC cleverly keeps moving the target on the answers. The truth of the matter is this: The allure of a universal restart in comics is a pipe dream at best. At the end of the day, comic books are a business first. The DCnU was a stunt that paid off in spades.

To end 60+ years of backstory, and start all over simply will never happen. The industry thrives on the soap-opera format; keep what works, and forget the rest. If you pay close enough attention you’ll just go mad. I started this out as a rant on Michael Davis’ kudos to the DC’s testicular fortitude, but in looking at the stack of their books, and my dwindling bank account? It tells me Michael was right all along.

DC, you made me madder than hell, and took more of my money than you ever did before… all so I could make a grand sweeping point. And now, after I’m done shouting from the rafters, I realize that’s all you ever wanted me to do in the first place. Good for you. That took serious balls.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander



I’ve been in a grumpy mood all weekend. I don’t know why exactly… and I made it worse today because, being in a grumpy mood yesterday, I didn’t work on my paper for school – the topic being An Ethical Analysis of a Current Domestic or Global Issue, and normally I love to talk ethics and issues with a capital “I,” but I just was so grumpy, I couldn’t get my interest going – which of course I should have, but I blew it off.

Which meant that I had to do it all today, which led to me missing the Giants game against the Seahawks. Which they lost 36 – 25. And yesterday was Yom Kippur, but I was grumpy, so I blew off going to temple, too, which made me feel terribly guilty, but I grumpily chose to feel guilty rather than do the right thing and go to temple with my parents. Who are really getting up there in age and who knows if we’ll all be here next year, and would it really have been so horrible to go to temple for a few hours and make them happy?

Although I did fast. Sort of. Meaning I drank a lot of Diet Pepsi and smoked a pack of cigarettes while being grumpy and watching The Dick Van Dyke Show on TV Land. So I’m feeling guilty and grumpy about not going to temple yesterday, even though my parents were totally cool with it, and anyway, I haven’t gone to temple since 9/11, when I just decided that all organized religions totally suck.

And I’m grumpy because I’m not all that happy with my paper, which is called “There’s Something Happening Here” and is about the Occupy Wall Street Protests and the unethical practices of Wall Street (which of course is enough to make anyone grumpy) and the bullshit crap about Occupy Wall Street that’s coming out of the mouths of people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and John Boehner (which should make everybody grumpy, but it doesn’t, which makes me even more grumpy), and there’s so much to say, but I had a word limit, which I went over, which makes me grumpy, and with my luck my professor is a member of the Tea Party, which will really make me grumpy if it’s true.

But this column’s supposed to be about comics.

So what did I read this weekend? Well, I wanted to critique Catwoman #1 of DC’s New 52, because I have a special interest in Selena, having written the first Catwoman mini-series, and it’s been making me grumpy that in that series I wanted Selena to deliberately throw the bad guy who had raped her sister off the catwalk, but the powers-that-be at DC at the time wouldn’t let me ‘cause “Selena a cold-blooded killer? Nonononono, bad, Mindy, bad,” but apparently now it’s okay to show Selena and Bruce doing the dirty on a roof in total Photoshopped glorious color. But my comic book shop guy screwed up the order for the second week in a row now, which has also made me grumpy.

But I did pick up Batgirl #1 by my gal friend Gail Simone and artists Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes along with Wonder Woman #1 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, and Action Comics #2 by Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, Brent Anderson and Rick Bryant. Plus Green Lantern, Batwoman and Voodoo. But it’s making me grumpy that I’m behind the eight ball and it feels like everybody else has already put their two cents in.

Gail does her usually superb job writing Barbara Gordon, and I’m trusting her to answer why Barbara remembers being shot by the Joker and being in a wheelchair for three years if none of the characters are supposed to remember their previous incarnations. Or is it that she just doesn’t remember her time as Oracle? But I really like that the emotional and psychological reverberations of the Joker’s attack are still there. It would make no sense if Barbara was just “la-di-di-dah.” I’m trusting Gail to follow through with this for quite a while. No instant fixes, please, girlfriend! The artwork made me a little grumpy though.

Wonder Woman is always her best, imho, when her Hellenic background plays a strong part in her book. Which is why I loved Wonder Woman! I especially liked the cape worn by unidentified bad guy who pulls a “Godfather” on the horse in the stable. (The bad guy is only unidentified if you’ve never read any Greek mythology and so don’t get the significance of that particular cape.) Brian Azzarello does his usual brilliant job at dialogue, dropping hints and making the characters come alive. The artwork definitely did not make me feel grumpy.

Action Comics #2 is sucking me in but good! Special highlight for me was the “exclusive peek behind the scenes” at the development of the characters and artwork. Especially the artwork. As a writer who can’t draw beyond a stick figure, I love seeing (or reading) how an artist makes the magic.

I wasn’t feeling grumpy there for a few minutes, but now I’m grumpy again because I didn’t have time to read the rest of my haul, which puts me even further into the backfield. But I’ve run out of room anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t be grumpy.

Except that I’m running really, really late on this column (again!) and that’s making me grumpy.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

ComicMix Six: Stories We Thought Were April Fool’s Jokes But Weren’t

Another April Fool’s Day has come and gone, leaving in its wake a trail of confusion as comics news sites posted fake news article after fake news article in an attempt to hoax their audiences into believing things that couldn’t possibly be true.

Naturally, ComicMix condemns all such shenanigans as juvenile and unworthy.

All the same, now that we’ve had a day or two to process, there have been six recent happenings in the comics world that stood out as so weird, so unlikely, that we were completely floored when they turned out to be true. But don’t take our word for it, take a look below.

Stan Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger are teaming up for The Governator, a comic and TV show detailing the adventures of the ex-Governor of California, ex-King of Aquilonia as he teams up with a precocious pre-teen hacker to fight crime. This is a thing that’s going to happen. Not a joke. We couldn’t believe it either. You’d think after Peter Paul and the Clintons Stan would stay clear of politicians.

ComicMix QuickPicks – January 13, 2009

ComicMix QuickPicks – January 13, 2009

Today’s installment of comic-related news items that wouldn’t generate a post of their own, but may be of interest…

* Even Batman can’t save everybody at Warner Brothers from a lousy economy. Reuters reports the studio is considering ways to cut its budget by 10 percent, saving tens of millions of dollars via layoffs or other steps. "No decisions have been made," said a Warner Bros spokesman regarding the cost cuts, which are widely expected to result in an unspecified number of layoffs at the studio. Warner Bros is owned by Time Warner Inc, which last week projected a loss for the year, compared with a previous forecast of earnings of $1.04 to $1.07 per share.

Hey… isn’t DC Comics owned by Warner Brothers? Watch your backs, folks.

* Hexed #1. Free. Downloadable. CBZ file, even. Enjoy. I did.

* ICV2: "Titan Books has announced the expansion of its publishing agreement with Golden Age comics pioneer Joe Simon, the co-creator of Captain America.  This summer Titan will launch The Official Simon and Kirby Library, which will now include full color hardcover volumes collecting Simon & Kirby’s horror, detective, and romance comics." I detect the fine hand of Steve Saffel in this; way to go, Steve.

* According to a recent study, forty-six per cent of Canadians can’t name a single Canadian writer. Here, let me give you two. Ty Templeton. Robert J. Sawyer. You’re welcome.

* Laurel Maury reviews Jonathan Lethem’s Omega The Unknown for NPR. (Come back to the Malibu, Laurel, we miss you!)

* Friday night’s airing of the start of season 4.5 of Battlestar Galactica will run 3.5 minutes long according to information released by SciFi. Dish Network has already adjusted the run time but you should double check any PVR’s you may have set up. You’ve been warned.

* An interview with Dean Mullaney.

* Why I dislike Batwoman too.

Anything else? Consider this an open thread.

Comic du jour from Hugh MacLeod, the creator of Mr. Hell.