Tagged: Bruce Wayne

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Just Kill Kyle Rayner

Typing that title hurt. A lot. It’s been stated here time and again: I am a Kyle Rayner fan. Here I sit, sarcasm sitting in its glass jar next to me, legitimately about to make the argument that my favorite character in comics be given a dirt nap… and I don’t mean the Steve Rogers–Bruce Wayne dirt nap kiddos. I mean the Gwen Stacy sleep of the pulpy gods. But why, you ask, would I suggest such a fate to the character that inspired this bearded bloke to make comics himself? I paraphrase Dr. Denis Leary:

“Elvis Presley should have been shot in the head back in 1957. Somebody should’ve walked up behind Elvis in ‘57 with a 44 magnum, put the barrel of the gun right up to his brainstem and just pulled the trigger, so you can remember Elvis in a nice way. Wouldn’t it be nice to remember Elvis thin, with a big head of hair? Maybe that gold lame suit. Wouldn’t that be nice? Because how do you remember Elvis? You know how you remember Elvis. He was found in the toilet with his pants around his ankles and his big fat hairy sweaty king of rock and roll ass exposed to the world and his final piece of kingly evidence floating in the toilet behind him!”

And as I look on the career of Kyle, since 2005, I see a fat Elvis, crapping on the pot.

Kyle Rayner was brought into the fold of DC Comics in January of 1994. After they wrote off Hal Jordon as a villain-turned-martyr, they introduced new blood into the comic. Kyle represented everything Hal didn’t. He was timid, indecisive, and anything but fearless. All he was, was a kid with an amazing imagination. A kid given the ultimate toy, and a universe to save. For lack of a better M.O., Kyle Rayner was DC’s Spider-Man. An everykid being shown that with great power rings comes great responsibility. It was a bold move. And over ten years he was given free reign to learn, and grow. I grew with him. Kyle joined the Justice League (during the fantastic Morrison run), and became the POV character we could get behind. While Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were the serious heroes, Kyle was the kid who could still yell “cool!” Simply put, with Kyle Rayner, DC had the bold and inventive reboot they’re so desperate to have now.

In 2005, Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns decided that the comic book world had enjoyed too much of this “modern” era and declared the silver age be reborn! Hal Jordan was resurrected, and with it took every last ounce of thunder Kyle had mustered in his 10 year tenure as the torch bearer. This is the moment folks, where, had I the will power, I would politely take Rayner’s ring and hurl it into the sun. Ever since “Rebirth” Rayner has floundered, flopped, and died a slow and pitiful character death. Ask ole’ Geoff or Dan, and I’m sure they’d feed you a brilliant line on how he’s still “relevant and as awesome as ever!”… Let’s go to the tape!

Since 2005, Kyle Rayner has… uh… got chummy with Guy Gardner… and… became Ion until they gave that to another alien we’ve since forgotten about… and … uh… got taken into Parallax for an issue… put on a blue lantern ring for a day… oh! And at some point his mom died, and he lost 17 girlfriends. Some died. Some blew up. Others turned out to have daddy issues. Ain’t it riveting?

Simply put, with Hal as the lead green meanie, Kyle fails to matter in the great scheme of things. As Barry Allen came back put Wally West out of a job, so too, does Kyle remain a waste of ink. The whole concept of legacy is so strong at DC (far more than Marvel…), but with the reboot, and continual Geoff Johning of the multiverse… legacy is fast becoming nothing more than an MMO title.

And so, this September, DC rebooted its entire universe. With Hal continuing to be the star of the flagship series (mainly because he was the star in a wonderful flop of a film this summer…), and John Stewart (affirmative action at it’s best!) and Guy Gardner (because we all love angry Irish guys, right?) over on GL Corpse (pun intended), what was Kyle given to do? Well, with GL: New Guardians… He’s the top banana in an adventure that will undoubtedly:

1. Have him shack up with a random space chick. And then she’ll die.

2. Have him wear a plethora of rings, resulting in him changing costumes 10 more times.

3. Remove any semblance of his character, and have him shout various generically heroic things as he saves the day.

4. At some point, he’ll mention all the good things he’s done as a Green Lantern, reminding us Raynernauts that he mattered there, for a while.

5. He’ll grow a bitchin’ half-beard.

I’ve been through the first two issues of the series. I’ve yet to be impressed. It’s like a cattle call for all the last two years worth of Lantern D-listers, all brought together for yet-another-unforeseen-prophetic-battle. Rayner will end up working with Bleez (the slutty Red Lantern), Arkillo (the tongue-less Kilowog of the Sinestro Corps), the Orange jelly-bean thing from Larfleeze’s lantern, Fatality (the only character in the DCU to have even less to do since Kyle Rayner’s original run on GL), an Indigo Lantern (who we still know nothing about, nor care about at this point) and Saint Walker (all will be well, and have some milk!).

Two issues in and nothing has happened. Seriously. 40 pages of content that has seemingly set up a single final splashpage of him in some kind of White-Lantern getup. As if we haven’t seen that before?

Ultimately, if DC wanted to ‘shake things up’ with their reboot, it was the perfect time to shed some dead weight. Since the love affair with all things Silver Age is still in full swing, the world simply doesn’t need a Kyle Rayner. And as one of his biggest fans, I’d much rather have seen him retire his ring for a desk job… instead of continuing to not-matter in the grand scheme of things. He could take a seat next to Wally, and they could simply wait until the next crisis. Or until someone recalls why he mattered in the first place.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

If I rebooted Flash, Atom, and Green Arrow

On the list of simple comic book truths: Superhero comics need major female superheroes. I like the idea that the Flash should be a woman. A speedster called Jesse Quick briefly took over the role:


It’d be great if The Fastest Man On Earth was a woman, but DC is conservative with the characters it considers its most valuable properties, so I doubt they would go with a female Flash, even though that’s the best way to get a second woman into DC’s Big Five of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash.

That argument doesn’t apply to the Atom and Green Arrow.


MINDY NEWELL: Chest Hair Or No Chest Hair

Walking home from food shopping, thinking about this week’s column. Thinking about all the “news that’s fit to print” (and some not) about the portrayal of women in comics. And I thought, has anyone written about the portrayal of men in comics? I’m talking down and dirty, hot stuff, glistening muscle, chest hair or no chest hair?, blue brown or green eyes, skin-tight costume, hunky super-duper M-E-N.

Distaff geeks unite!

I’ll start. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order:

  • Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine. Chest hair. Goddamn, he’s sexy.
  • Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin in New Teen Titans written by Marv Wolman and drawn by George Pérez. He looked like a guy I had a crush on in high school… and for years afterwards.
  • Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, drawn by Curt Swan, Jerry Ordway, John Byrne, and many others, up to and including Rags Morales and Jesus Marino.
  • Hal Jordan, a.k.a. Green Lantern. Just read recently that Julie Schwartz wanted him to look like Paul Newman. Explains a lot.
  • Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops. Who’s behind those Foster Grants?
  • Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. It was Revenge of the Nerds, thanks to J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita, Jr!
  • Adam Strange. Why can’t a Zeta-beam land him in my bedroom?

Now for the “live-action”:

  • Christian Bale makes delicious eye candy and engenders dirty thoughts as Bruce Wayne/Batman. But isn’t it odd that the comic version doesn’t make my “off-the-of-my-head” list?
  • Of course the true superhero, Christopher Reeve. “Easy, miss. I’ve got you.”
  • And I have always, always, always had a thing for Robert Downey Jr. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Iron Man. Even sat through Iron Man more than twice just to look at him. Special mention for Sherlock Holmes.
  • Not so much for the blondes, generally. Though there is Chris Hemsworth as Thor. And Robert Redford (“See ya, Hubble”) in The Way We Were. And Jason Lewis as Jared Smith on Sex And The City – the scene where he shaves his signature long, blonde, thick hair in solidarity with Samantha as she loses her hair due to the chemotherapy, well, every man who has ever questioned why his girlfriend or wife left him should be chained to a chair ala Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch that scene over and over and over until he screams Igetitigetitigetitigetit!

uh, sorry ‘bout that. where was i? she said sheepishly.

  • John Wesley Shipp as The Flash on the too-soon cancelled TV series.

No quibbling allowed on the next four. I am the columnist. I am allowed my all things Buffy. Anyway, maybe they started out as live-action characters, but they all appear in comics now. And don’t give me any lip about any of them not technically being superheroes. I don’t see you fighting demons and vampires and saving the world over and over again.

  • David Boreanaz as Angel, first on Buffy and then on the eponymous TV series. Broody, morose, dark and tragic. A vampire Hamlet.
  • Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I envy Alyson Hannigan.
  • James Marsters as Spike, a.k.a. William the Bloody. Just for the record, I’m one of those who believe in Spike and Buffy 4 Ever. S.W.A.K.
  • J. August Richards as Charles Gunn. He almost didn’t make the list, ‘cause his selfish actions led to the death of Fred, but I can’t deny that bod’!
  • Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles. Loved him ever since the Folger commercials. ‘Sides, I’m a sucker for British accents. Ask John Higgins.

What’cha think of my choices, fellow geek women? Who are yours? Martha, y’ wanna start?

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

“Southland” star Ben McKenzie takes justice into his own hands during “Batman: Year One”

Ben McKenzie plays a wealthy young man on a personal quest for justice in TNT’s hit series Southland. Now the actor heads to the streets of Gotham City as the voice of another rich young adult with a need for righteousness in [[[Batman: Year One]]], the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies.

McKenzie makes his maiden voyage into animation voiceovers as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the title character of comics legend Frank Miller’s classic retelling of the Dark Knight’s gritty, formative days.

Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated Batman: Year One arrives today, 2011 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. Batman: Year One is also be available in a special download-for-purchase through iTunes, Xbox Live, Zune, VUDU HD Movies and Video Unlimited on the PlayStation Network & Sony Entertainment Network. (more…)


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

CEOs in Comics: Villains Earn, Heroes Inherit

CEOs in Comics: Villains Earn, Heroes Inherit

Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle. Art by Dick Giordano.

Image via Wikipedia

How did we never make this connection before?

While the ruthless corporate CEO as villain is pretty much a stock character in modern pop culture, superhero comics have always conspicuously placed successful businessmen on both sides of the hero/villain divide. Yet an interesting, and perhaps counterintuitive, pattern recently occurred to me. Just off the top of my head, here are some of the most prominent superhero characters who have, for some significant chunk of their histories, been portrayed as CEOs of large corporations:

Bruce Wayne (Batman)
Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Ted Kord (Blue Beetle)

Here are the first four CEO supervillains who spring to mind:

Lex Luthor
Wilson Fisk (Kingpin)
Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias)
Norman Osborn (Green Goblin)

Ok, comics geeks, pop quiz: What do the four heroes and the four villains each have in common?

The answer is that none of the four heroes founded the corporations that bear their family names: Each of them inherited their wealth.

Adding to the list of inheritors: Charles Xavier, Garfield Logan (from stepdad Steve Dayton who was a self made billionaire and for a while, a bad guy). Who else can we add to the lists– and who are the exceptions that prove the rule? And where do we put Scrooge McDuck?

via CEOs in Comics: Villains Earn, Heroes Inherit.

Monday Mix-Up: Wayne Manor For Rent

In Lone Justice, we presented the story of a superhero whose millionaire secret identity fell on hard times during what is politely termed an economic downturn. Well, according to this vacation rental listing on Trip Advisor, Lone Justice isn’t the only fellow having problems:

Situated in the grand expanse of the Thomas and Martha Wayne estate on the outskirts of Gotham City, Wayne Manor welcomes guests with centuries-old charm combined with the very latest technological amenities to ensure your stay is as memorable as the day your parents died.

Relax in the misty gray sunshine on the spacious greens for a damp stroll in the afternoon, or in the event of clear skies enjoy a cocktail at your choice of either Olympic-sized swimming pools. In the evening, retire from your day of sun or drizzle into the renown Wayne Library, its towering walls lined with original printings ranging from classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the latest reflections upon Jungian psychological individualization theory. Please note that vistors traveling with busts of family members should be advised not to leave them on display near any large windows, as such statuettes have been known to attract some of the more aggressive–however stately and noble!–nocturnal wildlife of the manor grounds.

Our one-man hospitality staff allows Wayne Manor to remain affordable for any guest budget; there’s no need to be world-travelling celebrity photojournalist or the daughter of an Arabian mystic to enjoy a luxurious weekend with us!

And at only $2000 a week, it’s within almost anybody’s price range. We know where we’re spending the High Holy Days…

MARTHA THOMASES: Of Soap and Comic Books

The big news in pop culture this week is not comics (although I’m excited about seeing Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman), but on television. Specifically, today is the last episode of the long-running soap opera, All My Children.

How long-running is it? The show started in January of 1970. Since then, it’s run for an hour a day, five days a week, except for holidays. Soap operas don’t do re-runs in the summer. They need new stories and they need them now.

I had always sneered at soaps before I watched AMC. I’d tried to watch General Hospital when Elizabeth Taylor was on, just to see what all the fuss was about, and I couldn’t get into it. A friend of mine got a few days’ work on AMC, though, and out of loyalty, I tuned in.

It was hilarious. My friend, a fashion model in real life, was cast as a nemesis of Erica Kane, a fictional fashion model. My friend was six feet tall. Lucci might be more than five, but that’s in heels. They had their skirmishes on staircases so Lucci could look her in the eye.

Still, the absurdities didn’t prevent me from developing an attachment to the characters. I liked Tad the Cad and his lovely sister, Jenny. Their mom, Opal, was a hoot. It didn’t bother me when characters would marry the same person two or three times. Even with a 15-year gap, I could still catch up with the show when I started to watch it again in the late 1990s.

Soap operas are a form of mass-market entertainment aimed primarily at women. They get their name because, traditionally, they’re packed with ads for soap – laundry soap, dishwater detergent, shampoo and bath products. To attract this audience, they tell women-centric stories, where love and family are fought for, and there are very few fist-fights, on staircases or otherwise. On soap operas, before they have sex, men light dozens of candles and scatter rose petals on the bubble bath they just drew.

Soaps started to lose their audience when middle-class American women entered the workforce in large numbers. Today, the networks can’t justify the expense to cater hire large casts for scripted dramas that run in the daytime.

However, while soaps lost audiences in the afternoons, they gained influence on prime-time television. Not just shows like Dynasty and Dallas, but most dramas have developed the kind of intricate, long-form serial stories you find on soaps. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Homicide: Life on the Street and Mad Men are just a few critically acclaimed and award-winning shows that show their foamy influence.

What does this have to do with comics? Mainstream comics also show soap influence. When I started to read comics, every issue was self-contained, and most stories were about the fights and the powers. Now the characters have more developed emotional lives, and readers are as caught up with the personalities as they are with determining who would win in a fight.

The audience for pamphlet comics is shrinking more quickly than the audience for daytime soaps, and it was never as large to begin with. At the same time, comics’ influence is everywhere. Not only are comics optioned for the movies and television, but the kind of story-telling techniques developed for comics has been as influential to the current generation of filmmakers as the French New Wave was to my generation.

So maybe there aren’t that many people who want to go to a direct market store, but there are a lot of people who might want to read graphic stories. The growth in bookstore sales of graphic novels proves this, and we’ll see if digital delivery grows the audience as much as we’d hope.

When DC was preparing to launch the line of science fiction comics that eventually became Helix, I remember having a conversation with editor Stuart Moore. It seemed to me that he had an interesting line that would appeal to fans of the genre, but I wasn’t sure how they would find the books if they didn’t already go to comic book stores. There were critics who might consider reviewing the Moorcock series, but they’d want to see the entire storyline. Why can’t we publish graphic novels first? I wondered.

The answer, unfortunately, was a combination of inertia (this is the way we’ve always done it) and a market model that wasn’t about to change for the chance of success with a few titles. The only hit to survive the line was Transmetropolitan, and I’m willing to bet it has sold more copies in collected form than it did as a monthly title.

It’s been bittersweet watching the last few episodes of AMC. The writers are taking ridiculous chances (returning characters from the dead) and giving most of the long-running characters some happiness. I felt the same kind of affectionate sadness at the last month of the DCU titles. Maybe it was sentimental, but I liked it when Bruce Wayne got a note from his long-dead father (then alive in an alternate universe), in which Thomas told his son how proud he was of him.

That was the kind of thing that could happen in the Valley.

Dominoed Daredoll Martha Thomases will have to find something else to watch as her treat for getting work done.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

If I rebooted Batman and Robin

If I rebooted Batman and Robin

This is a light modification of a panel in  Legends of the DCU: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. I could go either way on making Batman’s costume black and gray or blue and gray, but for a creature of the night, the yellow belt made no sense, and the panties were just too 1940s.

My Batman’s personality is inspired by the 1960s “New Look” Batman: he’s a detective who has mostly made peace with the fact that he can’t bring his parents back from the dead. He doesn’t like putting Robin in danger, so Robin is a supporting character, someone who goes undercover in places where Batman can’t and who usually has adventures on his own or with the Titans. Their styles are so different that they shouldn’t team up often: Batman’s inspiration is the creature of the night; Robin’s inspiration is the people’s hero, Robin Hood. The only reason Batman trains Robin is because he realizes that the kid will fight crime no matter what Batman does, so he might as well do what he can as mentor and friend.

The Bruce Wayne playboy is not a “cover”. Batman thinks of himself as a soldier or a spy who works hard and parties hard. He knows he needs R&R to keep doing his duty, and he wants fun that won’t result in anyone becoming too fond of him. He’s an adrenaline junkie, and sometimes, late at night, he wonders if he has a bit of a death wish. If so, so long as it helps him do his job, he’s fine with that.

The capes can become rigid and serve as gliders. Otherwise, why are acrobats wearing capes? Other than they look cool? Which, I grant, in a comic book is never automatically the wrong answer. The trick to making the original Robin cape work is to use the collar. George Perez understood that.

But I would be tempted to make Robin’s cape green.

As for the Batmobile, its time has passed. Batman and Robin should patrol from a Batplane that can hover in place.

Will Shetterly is the creator of [[[Captain Confederacy]]], the author of [[[Dogland]]], and the co-creator of [[[Liavek]]] with his wife, Emma Bull.

Batmobile Raider

Batmobile Inspires British Tank Design

Batmobile RaiderIn the movies, Batman fights crime with a collection of, to quote Jack Nicholson, wonderful toys. Hisham Awad, project leader of defense company BAE System’s future protected vehicles group, liked some of those ideas so much he used them to build an assault vehicle:

While Awad was showing one of his team’s concept vehicles, the unmanned skirmisher known as Raider, another of the assembled journalists gave a low whistle.

‘I like that,’ he said. ‘Looks like the Batmobile.’

‘Ah!’ Awad replied, with a grin. ‘Glad you said that. That’s what we based it on.’


‘Yes, we liked the look of that, so we designed something similar.’

What, the Batmobile in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight?

‘Yes, that one. You see, it turns like a motorbike and it has the same wheel configuration.’

Yes, yes, but you’re basing a future fighting vehicle on something you saw in a film?

‘Well, why not?’ Awad replied. ‘In all seriousness, we decided that we didn’t have a monopoly on inspiration, and if we saw something in a film that we thought might be a good idea, why not take a look at it and see if there’s something practical we can develop?’

Looks like Mr. Earle didn’t push sales hard enough. No wonder Bruce Wayne replaced him with Lucius Fox.

Hat tip (I can’t believe I’m saying this): FoxNews.com.