Tagged: Legion of Super-Heroes

REVIEW: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

JLA Adventures in TimeI am sometimes mystified by Warner Animation. Back in January, possibly as a part of their Target deal which rolled out last summer, shopped were able to buy JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time. This stealth release received zero publicity and marketing but clearly the exclusive window has closed with the animated feature now available everywhere.

This is not the Justice League animated characters nor is it the New 52 animated reality; instead, it is some weird hybrid, an all-ages heroes versus villains romp done on the cheap. With the Legion of Super-Heroes’ foe the Time Trapper manipulating events, the Justice League of America — Superman (Peter Jessop), Wonder Woman (Grey DeLisle Griffin), Flash (Jason Spisak), Aquaman (Liam O’Brien), Batman (Diedrich Bader), Robin (Jack DeSena), Cyborg (Avery Kidd Waddell) — take on the Legion of Doom — Lex Luthor (Fred Tatasciore), Solomon Grundy (Kevin Michael Richardson), Black Manta (Richardson), Cheetah (Erica Luttrell), Bizarro (Michael David Donovan), Toyman (Tom Gibis), Captain Cold (Corey Burton), and Gorilla Grodd (Travis Willingham). So, if anything, this owes its pedigree to the defunct Super Friends (complete with wink and you miss it, cameos from Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog) and no other animated series.

Of course, if you use the Time Trapper, you need some Legionnaires so we see Dawnstar (Laura Bailey) and Karate Kid (Dante Basco) in the 31st Century, demonstrating the JLA’s influence through the ages.

It certainly smacks of Saturday morning fare given its brief, 54 minute, running time and the far more limited animation in comparison with the more sophisticated direct-to-home-video fare we’ve become accustomed to. They’ve done a fine job distancing themselves from such franchises as noted by the different, but serviceable vocal cast. The character designs remain top-heavy but at least the angular chins that drive me nuts are more traditionally square-jawed. The costumes are also modified with a dumb-looking utility belt on Batman.

Written by Michael Ryan and produced and directed by Giancarlo Volpe, this provides us with some quirky takes on the characterization but they move things along at a nice clip, even if there’s more action than characterization for my taste.

You get, appropriately, two bonus episodes: The All-New Super Friends Hour “The Mysterious Time Creatures” and Super Friends’ “Elevator to Nowhere”.

Martha Thomases: Comic books make me a better person

I love comic books.  I have since I was five years old.  I even love comic books I don’t like. I love the way the whole of words and pictures is bigger (and better) than the parts.  I love the way that great storytellers can take a blank piece of paper (or  computer screen) and make anything happen.

Comic books make me a better person.

This point was brought home to me this weekend, when I read this amazing story.  In case you don’t read it (and you should because, like I said, amazing), it’s about an autistic young man who found a way to articulate his feelings and communicate with other people through Walt Disney Studios animated films.

Now, I don’t know much about autism,and it is not my intention here to act like I’m any kind of expert.  However, in reading the story, I was reminded how much I learned about people from popular culture.  The kid in the story used Disney cartoons.  I liked them, too.

But it was comics that really taught me empathy.

Any fiction (and quite a bit of non-fiction) can put the reader into the head of another character, will let you see the world through her eyes.  Comics can do this, and also let you see exactly how difference another being’s experience can be.

For example, when I was a kid, I loved the Legion of Super-Heroes.  I started pretty much when the team did, with three members, two boys and a girl, all white as the driven snow.  I liked Saturn Girl, but she was not a lot like me.  I had trouble imagining what it was like to be her.  However, as I read more stories, the team got more members.  Triplicate Girl had brown hair, just like me.  Shrinking Violet was shy, just like me.

And there was Chameleon Boy, with his orange skin and his antenna.  He was funny. and cracked jokes, just like me.  Brainiac 5 had green skin, and he was so smart that sometimes he annoyed the other kids, just like I did.  I learned that I could identify with someone who didn’t look like me, whose body didn’t work the same way mine did, who came from a place way way different from Youngstown, Ohio.

Superhero comics literally taught me how to see the world through the eyes of others.  What I mean is, sometimes the artist would depict the scenes from a character’s point of view, not from the outside.  Along with captions and thought balloons, it was like being in another person’s head.

Later, when I was in Sunday School and learned about Marrano Jews, I already had some understanding of what it meant to have a secret identity.  I’d seen people who had them who were not Jewish (although most, I would later learn, had been created by Jews).  It helped me to understand other kinds of people who might feel they had to hide their differences from the mainstream.

It’s a little bit roundabout that I made the leap to understanding other humans through Durlans, Coluans and Kryptonians.  I felt what it was like to be alien from actual aliens, not from meeting people from other countries.  I felt what it was like to be different inside from the Thing in The Fantastic Four, not from knowing someone of another race or gender identity.

Does that sound condescending?  That’s not my intention.  I’m trying to explain how a five-year old, or an eight year old — and sometimes a 60 year old — needs stories (graphic and otherwise) to see the humanity in other humans.  That’s what artists do.

And I’m grateful.

Marc Alan Fishman: Injustice and the Marvel Continuity Crisis

Fishman Art 140111Over the holidays I purchased for myself the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game. While I freely admit I have little to no real prowess with fighting games, I am invariably drawn to them. Compared to other types of video games, fighters allow users to enjoy a gaming session that’s like a great one-night stand; get in, get your business done, reap the rewards, and leave before it gets complicated.

The game is built on the Elseworlds principle wherein we explore the mighty DCU through the lens of yet-another alternative dimension where a slight change in the continuity results in a completely new world to explore. In Injustice, Superman is duped into killing Lois by the Joker, who adds a delightfully evil icing to his cake of cacophony by nuking Metropolis. Dead girlfriend (carrying his super scion to boot) plus nuked hometown equals Superman deciding he’s done being a reactionary hero. Cue the totalitarian state, and the necessary rebellion lead by Batman. Add in the needed Kryptonian Super Pill to balance the whole “how do you let Green Arrow fight Black Adam and not get pummeled into slime” problem and you have a damned enjoyable fracas.

I made my way through the story mode in a manner of a few nights. It was a fantastic little tale. As you may tell, it got me thinking. Why is it that DC always seems to flourish under the Elseworld concept where Marvel fails?

I assume some of you immediately get what I’m talking about. Others may be cackling at their screens “Show your work, nerdlinger!” Allow me to make my point as clearly as I can, as quickly as I can.

Here we go: At DC, Red Son. Kingdom Come. The Dark Knight Returns. The Nail. The Animated DC “Beyond” Universe.

At Marvel: 1602.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I just stopped my article right there? Well, while I’d like to be that lazy, I shan’t be. DC seemingly lends itself to the remix better than Marvel by more than a handful of examples. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly why. It’s not like Marvel is devoid of DC analogs (and DC to Marvel, etc.). Both companies have employed more than a fair share of amazing talent to boot. But there must be something that makes DC more suited to a change of clothing more than the merry mouse-killers at Marvel.

My knee-jerk reaction is to equate DC characters as being more mythically malleable. Because they have clearly defined backstories, costuming, and personality traits, it’s much easier to simply pick one, change it and let the fun fly. Superman’s rocket lands in Russia? Boom, story changed, and a new universe is easily defined. Because the DCU is so easily reshaped while still being clearly itself, Elseworlds are amazingly easy to form, play in, and move on.

It helps that at the basic origin levels of the main players, DC is much freer to shift. Captain America will always be defined by World War II, the Punisher to Vietnam (though they’ve attempted and failed to retcon that a time or two). the X-men to civil rights. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and their ilk are all tied only to mythologies. Bruce’s parents can get shot at any point from the industrial revolution on. Abin Sur could crash yesterday, if he needed to.

No better argument could be made than through the multitude of mediain which each have dabbled. Marvel has proven that through continuity, they will shine. Their movie-verse has bled into the teevee, and Mickey has never been stronger … or richer. In contrast, DC’s best movies and TV shows have all existed within their own confines, yet somehow continue to reap monetary rewards.

The animated DCU itself was a Bruce Timm / Paul Dini behemoth that somehow existed in one universe, but DC was able to create whole new strains of life in their Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoons without missing a beat. While Marvel spawned a few gems in their own animated right, none hold a candle in comparison. Anyone here watching Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H.? Didn’t think so.

At the end of the day (on our Earth, at least), DC summarily allows itself infinite worlds with which to create its identity. Because of this, jaunts like Injustice become instant classics by allowing creators to riff on a theme without being locked into the ramifications of exhaustive continuity. For whatever the reasons are, Marvel forever will have a harder time to match their doppelgänger with this ease. While they cry into their pile of movie money, I think they’ll land on their feet. In the mean time, I’ll enjoy the next Earth to splinter off… in hopes that it will be finally be the one that makes me forget the New52.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell



Mike Gold: Superman’s Real Family

Gold Art 131204There was a time when the world could not get enough of The Man of Steel. In the 1950s National Periodical Publications, the name DC Comics went under back then, published seven different Superman titles, five of them every six weeks and two every month. In those days, that was a lot.

Today, of course, Wolverine wouldn’t lift his head out of his own puke for such paltry exposure. But back then, that workload was astonishing – and it wasn’t uncommon to see sales figures on certain of these titles reaching seven figures. Action Comics was shipped at the end of the month and that very issue was re-shipped two weeks later.

Superman had more than just that going for him. In the 40s he had one of the most popular and long-lasting radio shows around. In the early 50s, a time when most cities were lucky to have two television stations and it was common for one of those channels to pick from the offerings of two of the three networks, Superman was offered up in first-run syndication and he captured the awe and wonder of the entire baby boomer generation. We were all glued to the boob tube; it was our crack. And there were a hell of a lot of us, too.

The Big Guy had something else going for him: he was in the newspapers daily and Sunday all across America, including Hearst’s New York Mirror, which sported the largest circulation of any U.S. newspaper at the time. His newspaper circulation made the comics work appear downright skinny.

All this exposure required the efforts of an astonishing amount of talent. By and large, there were three primary Superman artists: Wayne Boring and Curt Swan, who did the newspaper strip as well as Action Comics and Superman, and Al Plastino, who did… well… everything.

To be fair, there were other great talents in this group, legends all. Kurt Schaffenberger, whose work dominated the Lois Lane stories, Win Mortimer, George Papp and John Sikela, perhaps best known for their Superboy efforts (as was Curt Swan), and Dick Sprang on the Superman-Batman feature in World’s Finest.

Gee, no wonder Big Blue was so popular. And, yes, I’m leaving at least a half-dozen artists out.

Last week the last of these awesomely talented people died. Al Plastino, the medium’s best utility infielder, died at 91. He was an artist, a writer, an editor, a letterer and a colorist. He co-created the Legion of Super-Heroes, Supergirl and Brainiac. He drew the Batman newspaper strip in the 1960s, and he ghosted the Superman strip in its latter years.plastino-hap-hopper-2-02-44-150x167-5037260

Al was the go-to man at the United Feature Syndicate, creating a couple of minor features in the 1940s (Hap Hopper, from 1944, is pictured to the right) and doing Ferd’nand for its last 20 years, retiring in 1989. He also stepped in to do the Sunday Nancy page for a while after Ernie Bushmiller died. And there was some work on Peanuts, but there’s a whole story in that one that should be reserved for a later date.

Oh, and he inked Captain America in the early part of both their careers.

Al Plastino was an editor’s dream. A wonderful artist and a fine storyteller, he could do anything and do it on time. His legend as a comics creator alone makes him a permanent part of comics history.

Al, thank you for making my childhood all the more amazing.


THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Return of The Tweaks

Martha Thomases: Not For Kids Anymore

Thomases Art 130329As Blondie says, “Dreaming is free.”

Which is lucky for me, because I have a rather frantic week, and not a lot of original ideas for a column. Sure, I could write about the John Stewart scandal (or non-scandal, depending on which rumor you believe,), but I am late to that party. I could write about some obscure book that deserves more attention, but I am behind in my reading.

My sub-conscious came through for me.

Last night, I had one of my recurring dreams in which I still work for DC. Sometimes in these dreams I no longer work for DC, but sneak into an office and pretend I do. And sometimes, I even wear clothes. I can’t remember which of these scenarios was at play this time, but I remember getting a memo from Jenette Kahn about some new publishing initiative.

In my dream, I ran to my son, the genius writer, about the opportunity this afforded us. We had two ideas worth pursuing.

The first, and more interesting, was a graphic novel about an upper-middle-class teenage white girl in Georgia in the 1980s who is, unbeknownst to her or anyone else, the reincarnation of Mohammed Ali. I don’t think we should let the fact that Ali is still alive get in the way of the fact that this would be awesome.

However, since my subconscious apparently has no literary taste, in my dream I urged we concentrate our attention on an on-going series, The Legion of Jimmy Olsen. It would be like the Legion of Super-Heroes, but set in the present, not the future, and feature all the different characters Jimmy has morphed into over the years. You would have your Turtle Boy, your giant, your caveman Beatle, even your girl.

All at the same time.

I would buy that series in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t you?

The New 52 doesn’t have a lot of Jimmy in it. There isn’t even much Lois Lane. They show up to take pictures or report on some Superman exploit or another, but that’s about it. Grant Morrison had Jimmy doing a bit more, as a friend to Clark.

Even Grant couldn’t work in any Turtle Boy.

As the comics audience has aged, publishers have tried to respond with more mature offerings. They don’t think their readers need a character like Jimmy with whom to identify. Today’s superhero reader, they think, needs stories where the universe is at stake every single issue.

This is a shame, because we could use somewhat less constant cosmic apocalypse, and a bit more whimsy.

And gorillas.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Mindy Newell: Four-Color Valentines

Newell Art 130211DC released Young Romance this week, using the title of one of the overlooked and (imho) underappreciated gems of comics history, the seminal romance comic that was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and was published from 1947 to 1975. I’m old enough to remember many of the stories contained within those pages; they were attuned to the morals of the times, and regularly told tales of unrequited love, of compromised love, and of love triumphant.

The characters were easily identifiable: there was the bad girl, the bad boy, the good girl, and the good boy.

The bad girl (think Betty Rizzo in Grease) smoke and/or drank, wore too much makeup and perfume, wore incredibly slinky dress that didn’t leave much to the imagination, preyed on other women’s men, and was quite free with her, uh, favors. Not that anything was ever shown except for kisses, but somehow Simon and Kirby – especially Kirby with his magnificent art – definitely got the message across of what followed that forbidden kiss off-panel, even to a young and innocent girl like me.

I always rooted for the bad girl.

The bad boy (think Johnny Strabler in The Wild One) smoke and/or drank, rode a Harley or drove a wicked muscle car with fins, wore a leather jacket with a one-size-too-small undershirts and jeans, had a ducktail and a comb, dropped out of high school and worked at the gas station, and was always hot for the good girl.

I always wanted the bad boy.

The good girl was a secretary or a librarian or a nurse or a high school senior or a college freshman. She wore modest clothes and flats, pink lipstick, no jewelry except for her grandmother’s pearls, and never smoked or drank.

She was so boring.

The good boy was a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer or the BMOC (big man on campus) or the high school football team’s star quarterback. He wore a suit and tie or chinos and a windbreaker, never showed body hair, and always obeyed the speed limit in a Chevrolet or Oldsmobile – definitely your father’s car – and above all respected the good girl and would safely see her to the door after a date and say good night with a chaste kiss, saving “the act” for the marriage bed.

No thanks.

My preference for the “little bit of naughty” also made me veer towards those characters in the superhero world, caped and non-, that I imagined had some, uh, good times, when not saving the world.

I think Adam Strange’s relationship with Alanna moved quite quickly into intimacy, even before they were married. After all, Adam could not control when the Zeta-beam would either take him to the planet Rann or return him to Earth, so there was no time like the present, right? Though I do hope that that damn Zeta-beam didn’t snatch Adam away right at wrong time, if you know what I mean, for Alanna’s sake.

Certainly Sun Boy, a.k.a. Dirk Morgana, was an out-and-out roué: check out a little story called Triangle in Legion Of Super-Heroes #320, February 1985, a tale I dialogued over Paul Levitz’s plot, with artwork by penciler Dan Jurgens, inker Karl Kessel, letterer Adam Kubert, and colorist Shelly Eiber. But I always had a thing for Rokk Krin, a.k.a. Cosmic Boy. Maybe it was the black hair and the blue eyes, but there was just something about Rokk – I knew he was not above stopping by the 30th century’s version of the Bada Bing or hitting on the boss’s wife. And succeeding.

I know the newest couple in comicdom is Kal-El of Krypton and Diana of Themiscrya, but the pairing of these two, the classic “good boy” and “good girl” of DC, just doesn’t float my boat, y’know. Now Diana’s mother, Hippolyta… that’s a woman whom I suspect walked a bit on the wicked side in her youth. She just too worldly just knows life, with all its ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, too well. It’s in the way she holds herself, the way she talks, the way she rules.

Lana Lang may have started as a “good girl” in Smallville, but I think once she left home she had some fun. Getting over Superman throwing her over for Lois, she let the “bad girl” come out in college, cutting classes, never missing a beer bash, smoking the ganja, and saying yes to whoever asked. As an adult she may be the “sadder-but-wiser-girl,” but damn, the woman knew how to party.

And of course there’s Selena Kyle, who brings home the bacon and fries it up in a pan. Hey, the lady knows what she wants. I’d like to see her paired up with Wolverine, the “bad boy” of comics. Hard-drinkin’, hard smokin’ Logan hooking up with Catwoman.

Oh, yeah





Marc Alan Fishman: It Was Good While It Lasted…

Marc Alan Fishman: It Was Good While It Lasted…

Last year I wrote an article about the wave of amazing comic-book related cartooning that was going on. Well, here we are now and I’m sitting on the stoop with an Old English tipped towards the curb. Ounce after putrid smelling ounce of malt liquor spatters on the pavement. The yeasty brew gurgles and slushes into an adjacent drain.

Why am I pouring out a forty? Well, it seems Cartoon Network has given the axe to both Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. And kiddos? I’m depressed.

Both Young Justice and Green Lantern have slowly grown into their skin, delivering stories that are equally entertaining and sophisticated without losing any action beats for those just looking for the boom-boom-pow. Both series combined with a pair of schizophrenically wonderful animated shorts, have grown into the only block of programming I go out of my way to DVR and watch commercial free, every week. And much like a few other DC shows that came and went before their time (Batman Beyond, Legion of Super Heroes, and Teen Titans – to an extent), I yearn for what could have been.

To its credit, Green Lantern won me over. The pilot wasn’t much to write home about. Much of the first season had to spend time universe-building. But to their credit, once this was done, the show really took off. And contrary to every gripe and groan I’ve ever sputtered in my columns, GL:TAS did something I truly thought was impossible; it made me like Hal Jordan. It was as if the writers realized that a plucky cocksure pilot with a strong moral compass was cool enough as-is to place as a POV character amidst a crazy universe! Add in a strong sidekick in Kilowog, and the non-comic-originating Razor and Aya… and you end up with a great main cast with enough personal drive (beyond the major season-long arcs) to carry the series for a good long while. At the end of season one, the series had properly introduced us to Mogo, Red and Blue lanterns, the Star Sapphires, and a handful of solid DC cosmic villains.

Come to the second season, and I’ve been truly blown away at the trajectory the stories were moving towards. I honestly figured we’d have continual expansion on the Red Lanterns and maybe an attempt to ignite a yellow or orange corps story. But nay. They unearthed the Anti-Monitor. And with him has come a season that has upped the drama without becoming mopey. Ring-slinging, internal conflict with the Guardians (who aren’t the silly one-dimensional mustache twirlers Geoff Johns wants you to hate…), cameos by Guy Gardner, Sinestro, Tomar Re, and even Ch’p… simply put: GL:TAS was properly creating the mythos that real GL fans has yearned for since the teasers were announced.

Young Justice, much like Green Lantern, started very slow for me. A series built on the angtsy teenage trope wasn’t high on my “new dad” radar. But over time, I realized what the show was doing. Rather than retread old storylines, the first season was all about pushing the idea that this elseworldsesque universe was a smart and slick dressing down of the bloated DCnU. And much like GL:TAS, the second season turned everything on its ear.

The series jumped five years into the future, smeared the Justice League and introduced no less than four major cosmic alien races to the show. In addition, the roster of YJ soon grew to an unlimited level, allowing for each episode to really explore old and new faces. This shot in the arm forced the angsty characters of season one to mature, and with it came a sophisticated serialized structure that dare I say… is smarter and better pulled off than any comic book DC is putting out right now.

As I’m sure you’ve all read Mike’s article this week, you know that in place of these two series will be new DC Nation fodder: a new take on Batman, and Teen Titans: Go! When these series were first announced, I admit I’d built up a fan-boner for the potential two-hour block of DC programming. Alas, what we are left with feels… safe. And I hate safe.

Dusting off the Titans isn’t such a bad idea – their series became damn near brilliant towards the end of its run – but giving over a half hour series to a comedy-tinged romp of SD Titans just oozes “Hey Ultimate Spider-Man, we can be funny too!” Never mind the fact that Ultimate-Spider Man really stinks (and before you flame me, go watch Sensation Spider-Man and shut your mouth).

And I’ll leave well-enough alone: Mike hit the nail on the head with Batman.

Well, it looks like my last drops of booze are bounding towards oblivion. I’ll enjoy the remaining episodes of Young Justice and Green Lantern as I have with all other quality DC animated shows. A tear in my eye, a pile of less-than-stellar comics at my feet, and a finger hovering over an Amazon cart page, awaiting the eventual release of the DVDs. While I hold very little hope for the next wave of DC toons… if nothing else can be learned from my ranting above… a good show (cartoons included) take time to find sea legs. Unlucky for all of us… the second these shows find them? The powers-that-be cap them off at the knee.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander Types!


Martha Thomases Plays With Toys

Thomases Art 130201 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:11

Uh uh.

Leaving aside the gender issues that run rampant through our so-called holy books, I find myself about to enter my seventh decade with a computer full of rock’n’roll songs, shelves full of toys, and a plastic figure of Howdy Doody watching over my bed as I sleep. I revel in childish things.

So when I saw a story about Mattel’s latest attempt to revive the Max Steel line of action figures, I was curious. And then a little bit horrified. And then fascinated again.

When I was a kid, I loved team-up comics. The Legion, the Justice League, the Teen Titans – they were great because I could imagine myself as different characters depending on my mood. If I had friends who were also into comics, there were enough characters that we could each play our favorite. It was fun. We didn’t need any accouterments except maybe towels tied around our necks as capes.

In the 1980s, when my son was a boy, the ways corporations marketed to kids had changed a lot. My husband and I were real opinionated about it, and we had bunches of rules. We didn’t allow him to watch any cartoons that were created just to sell toys. No He-Man. No G.I. Joe. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were okay, because they were based on a comic book that was a satire of Frank Miller’s Ronin. The rules relaxed as he got older and better able to understand how marketing worked. Also, at four years old, he could tell the difference between a Tex Avery cartoon and a Chuck Jones cartoon.

Here’s what I noticed as a mom. Favorite characters came and went. Ghostbusters. Dick Tracy. Batman. Turtles. Whatever was in vogue, the kids would run around the playground, pretending to shoot (or send rays out of their hands, or wave swords). The names of the characters would change, but the game was always the same.

Back then, kids didn’t have computers. There was only television and, if the family budget allowed it, books and comics. Kids knew the story lines of their characters, but there was still a lot of room for running and fighting evil.

Maybe I’m wrong, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here. According to the article I cite, Mattel is creating a rather ornate web site with lots of information about the various characters and what they can do, even before the toys are available or the cartoon goes on television. “The intent of the wide distribution is to create viral marketing on social networks,” said Bob Higgins, the executive vice president for children’s and family programming at Fremantle. “Around the world, kids will start hearing about this,” he said. “Kids want to do what their friends do. If they are watching Max Steel, they want to be a part of that party.”

Before I buy my kid a toy, I want to know that he will actually play with it. Not hold onto it while he sits in front of the computer, but play. I want it to engage his imagination so he makes up his own stories, or thinks of ways the characters could participate in his own life.

Toys are media. They are how children learn about the world and how they fit into it. I don’t want my kids to learn that their place is in front of a screen, absorbing content.

Capes. I want capes.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Martha Thomases: The Future Is All Right

Martha Thomases: The Future Is All Right

The electricity, heat, hot water, Internet and phone service all work today. Even my elevator works. Doing without is last week’s news.

This week’s news is the election. As I write this, people are voting. We won’t have results until tonight at the earliest. Since I’ve voted already, I’m going to try to ignore the media until the polls close. There’s nothing more I can do, and that is frustrating. I want to do everything, and I can’t. If you are a spiritual person, pray for me.

For the last few years, my Republican brother-in-law has been telling me that the problem with the economy (and Obama’s presidency) is “uncertainty.” Because job-creators don’t know what Obama will do, they hesitate to expand, to hire more people, because what if they make the wrong choice? As someone who started a business (albeit in 1979), I can report that I never knew what was going to happen, nor did I expect to. It was my responsibility to make things happen.

According to Aaron Ross Sorkin in The New York Times, the election won’t make any difference in solving this problem, even if things go my brother-in-law’s way.

What will the future bring? We don’t know. When I was a kid, I thought the future meant I’d have a jetpack, or a flying (electric) car, and my clothes would have those pads on the shoulders like everyone wore on Krypton and the Legion of Super-Heroes. My apartment would clean itself. I thought we’d get our meals in pill form. I thought we’d wear Dick Tracy two-way radios.

Instead, we’re still dependent on fossil fuels. That’s bad. We don’t have pills for dinner. That’s good. I couldn’t have predicted the local food movement, but I’m really happy because now I can tell the difference among 15 different kinds of apples.

Then there are the things I didn’t even think about to form a prediction. Gay marriage became legal instead of marriage fading away as an institution. Instead of working a George Jetson three-hour work week, we expect employees to put in 50 hours or more. I don’t have a robot maid, but I could have a robot vacuum cleaner if I wanted. I could have a robot dog. I carry around more computing power in my pocket than there was on the entire Star Ship Enterprise. That’s dazzling, even if I use a lot of it to send photos of my cat.

We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. That’s what makes life interesting.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Mindy Newell: The Right Stuff

There is a wonderful thing happening for me and other girls and women who read comics.

A new hero has appeared.

As frequent readers of this column should remember, Kara Zor-el, Supergirl, was the character and hero that rocked my pre-adolescent world. She was smart, brave, and not only did she have the same powers as Superman but she was his secret weapon, which is a powerful message to little girls. And yes, she was pretty, which I don’t think is a sexist thing to say. Everybody wants to be “pretty” when they grow up. Okay, little boys generally don’t want to be pretty when they grow up, but I don’t think they want to look like Quasimodo either.

Not that little girls and women have been without heroes since Kara first popped out of her rocket in Action Comics #252 in May, 1959. Wonder Woman, Princess Diana of Themiscrya, has been with us since All-Star Comics in December 1941.   Jean Grey debuted as Marvel Girl in X-Men #1 in September 1963, and Storm – Ororo Munro – was created in Giant Size X-Men #1 in May 1975. Kitty Pryde – she of the 1,001 names–joined the Uncanny X-Men as Sprite in January 1980. The introduction of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics #242 in April 1958, included Saturn Girl, a.k.a. Imra Ardeen.

And then there was Carol Danvers.

Major Carol Danvers of the United States Air Force first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 in March 1968. In 1977, Carol was empowered by the fusion of her body with Kree genes, and became Ms. Marvel, appearing in the eponymously titled Ms. Marvel #1 in January 1977. She has also been known as Binary and Warbird.

And then, in July 2012, Carol Danvers accepted the mantle of Captain Marvel

Kelly Sue DeConnick, as writer of the series, has taken the ball and run with it. In fighter jock parlance, DeConnick – and through her, Carol Danvers – is pushing the envelope of what it means to be a woman and a hero. To quote DeConnick from her interview with Corrina Lawson in Lawson’s Geek Mom column for Wired magazine, “My pitch was Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager.”

As the daughter of P-51 fighter jock, I get it. Completely.

Carol’s not looking for medals. She’s not looking for accolades. Yeah, she’s chasing those demons that live beyond the sound barrier. Yeah, she’s out there every day pushing the envelope, punching holes in the sky. But she’s just doing what she’s gotta do. Doing it ‘cause, well…’cause she’s doing it.

Knocking out Absorbing Man by smothering his air supply with impermeable sash.

Comparing the hurt she’s gonna feel knocking out a gi-normous alien eyeball to the pain of a mascara wand in her own eyeball.

Girls and women get that.

We’re out there every day, not looking for accolades, not looking for medals. Just doing our jobs. Juggling family and work and relationships and life and just doing it.

‘Cause that’s what we do.

‘Cause that’s what Carol Danvers does. And if we said to her, “Man, Carol, you surely are our hero.”?

I think she’d just shrug her shrug her shoulders and say, “Whatever.”

‘Cause that’s what a hero does.

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