Tagged: Lex Luthor

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

There’s a return of an old pestilence upon the comics landscape. Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience is sounding the warning alarms. Reprinted with permission. —CM

Once again there is a speculator-driven comic coming out this week that forces us to limit sales or change our natural way of doing business.

This week it is YEAR OF THE VILLAIN: HELL ARISEN #3.

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

Here’s the thing: unlike last week’s BATMAN, where there were a good number of potential people-who-bought-earlier-issues-from-the-rack, my point-of-sale system shows me that virtually none of you bought copies of #1 or #2 from the shelf — this comic was a massive flop. And so, really, the only reason for most of the phone calls and such we’re getting is because we’ve got a bunch of greedy people trying to buy it from us for $4, and flip it for $40+.

I can’t countenance this as a retailer (seriously folks, we’re not suckers), and so I have to try to deflect you all. This week our plan is this: if you’re not already subbed for YOTV:HA (and you aren’t), THEN IN ORDER TO BUY #3, YOU HAVE TO BUY #1 & 2 ALONG WITH IT. We’re only interested in facilitating the reading of a story.

Let me go one step further: I’ve owned a comic book store since 1989, and I’ve worked comics retail since like ’85. I’ve heard this same record many many times before: In point of fact I’ve personally watched the comic book industry ALMOST BE DESTROYED MULTIPLE TIMES by speculators and greed — through the B&W boom, through the 90s spec crisis, and it’s happening again right now. People trying to “flip” comics are making it so PEOPLE WHO ONLY WANT TO READ THEM CAN’T DO SO.

It’s not right; and it’s certainly nothing I’m willing to participate in.

Please listen: if you are buying comics with the goal of flipping them for a greater price you are HURTING the comics medium, you are HURTING small businesses, you are HURTING creators and publishers….. and, more importantly, I DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY TO DO SO.

Seriously: Fuck the fuck off. Go shop somewhere else. You don’t like comics, you’re not good for comics, and your money is worthless to me because what I, and every other, comic book retailer needs are ONGOING READERS. Your spending $4 today is dwarfed by a regular stable purchaser spending that every single month. On the non-returnable comics that form the backbone of the Direct Market your ONE TIME purchase is genuinely HURTING comics and comics stores who then have a harder time figuring out how to serve their regulars. Your purchases are WEAKENING the market, and so you are not welcome in our doors.

When I opened in 1989, there were 24 comic book stores in San Francisco, and now there are (barely) 8 — that two-thirds went out of business largely because of these bullshit speculator games that hollowed out the actual readers market, despite the local economy BOOMING beyond all rationality in that time.

You suck. You destroy the thing you claim that you value. And Comix Experience simply won’t stand for it (nor have we, consistently, for the last thirty years!)

And more than that…. honestly? You’re an idiot. I sell comics for a living, and I watch these variant flash-in-the-pans and they NEVER (ever) hold their value. There are a small cartel of folks who are using public-facing apps, and trading back and forth between puppet accounts to MAKE IT LOOK like there’s demand for these comics featuring “Punchline”, but as a guy who has been selling this stuff for decades: this moment is 100% false and manufactured. We’ve yet to have a SINGLE reader show the slightest amount of non-fiduciary interest in the character, and any comic that “every knows is going to be worth money” never ever is a month or three after it drops.

Maybe “Punchline” will be an interesting character, with an involving storyline that leads to dynamic story-telling and tales for the ages. I sincerely hope so. But speculeechs driving up the price before anyone has ever read a single page of content is a massive red flag that “Punchline” will end up no better than “The Joker’s Daughter” (which was also white hot for about 45 days in 2013, and now no one would give you a dime for her eponymous comic)

Don’t be a sucker. Don’t help destroy what is left of the periodical comics market (idiot!) And don’t think you’re welcome in our stores. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, and we’ve had it proven again and again and again that you are the stone cold enemy of the Medium of comics.

Right now, you have a LOT of people trying to sucker and shake you down and get you to buy their comics because so many of them see a Hollywood Play, and are willing to use speculators and the worst excesses of the “Collector’s Market” to try and leverage that play. They too, are the enemy. Don’t fall for it! Don’t support them!

If you have any issue with any of this, take it up directly with me. I can always be reached at brian@comixexperience.com. Leave my staff out of it, please — this is a top-down statement.

-B

Brian Hibbs
Head Cheese, Comix Experience
San Francisco

Mindy Newell: Doctor Who, Queen Elizabeth, and Donald Trump

FFN_IMAGE_51880447|FFN_SET_60099314Before I get to the heart of my column today, I just wanted to mention that if you’re jonesing for Matt Smith, may I suggest The Crown, the new Netflix original series, about Queen Elizabeth. No, not the red-headed daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry Tudor (a.k.a. Henry VIII) whose story has been told numerous times on both small and big screens, but Queen Elizabeth II, the current English monarch whose reign is at 62 years and counting.

The erstwhile titular star of Doctor Who plays Prince Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, who married Elizabeth in 1947 after officially giving up his royal relationship to the Greek and Danish royal families and becoming a naturalized British citizen. I have never been a fan of Prince Philip – he has always seemed to me to be the epitome of the “ruling class,” cold, distant, and without empathy or sympathy for us working slobs. In fact, I’ve often wondered just what the hell Elizabeth Windsor ever saw in him. However, as played by Matt – at least so far, I’ve only seen the first two episodes (before King George’s death from cancer, though he is already terminally ill) and concentrating on the young royal couple’s carefree life – the young Philip is sexy, athletic, incredibly handsome, loving, and an all-around great guy. He even takes over the renovating of Clarence House.

And attention Matt Smith fans! He has an adorable butt, as seen in a bedroom scene… and according to the RadioTimes website, more are coming! Quoting from the article:

The British actor – who stars alongside [Claire] Foy in Peter Morgan’s lavish tale of Queen Elizabeth II’s early years – bares his backside in the occasional bedroom scene, but not for the reasons one might expect.

“’A crucial thing is that Philip sleeps naked. That’s a fact. That was something that we found out… They weren’t put in – it’s just the fact that there are bed scenes. And what do you do, put Philip in a pair of [sic] pyjamas? That’s not right for the character.’ Smith joked that the scenes were ‘actually the best bit of acting I did in the whole series. No word of a lie. It was my most truthful moment.’”

As I said, I’ve only seen the first two episodes – the only reason I stopped was that it was getting really late and my eyelids were growing heavy – but so far, so good. (By the way, an added bonus is watching John Lithgow as the once and re-elected Prime Minister Winston Churchill.) So if you needing your Matt Smith fix, or just really missing Downton Abbey – I’ve been rebinging on the Crawley family, and now that I think of it, my guess is that they would all be still alive in 1947. Well, maybe except for the Dowager Countess Violet, but I wouldn’t really be surprised if that redoubtable woman spit in the face of death – go stream The Crown.

•     •     •     •     •

doctor-doom-this-land-is-mineTomorrow is Election Day. As I posted to Mary Mitchell, John Ostrander’s talented and lovely wife <snikt>

We interrupt this column for your columnist to watch the last 1:43 seconds of the Giants-Eagles game. Score is Giants 28, Eagles 23. Both teams are 4-3. Eagles just intercepted, in easy field goal range, but the Eagles are going for it. (They are now on the Giants’ 17-yard line.) Third down and ten. Now fourth and ten. Timeout – clock reset 10 seconds, now 1:28 left. Fourth down conversions for Eagles today is 1 for 3. Eagles quarterback Wentz throw a pass into the end zone to Eagles wide receiver Matthews. No good!!!!!!!! The Giants hang on to win!!!!!! <snikt>

As I was saying…

Tomorrow is Election Day. As I posted to Mary Mitchell, John Ostrander’s talented and lovely wife – I am absolutely terrified that he will win. And I have never been scared of the “other” candidate winning. Sad? Yes. Concerned? Yes. But never terrified.

For the record, while I am a registered Democrat – I became one back in 2008 so I could vote for Obama in the primary here in New Jersey – and while I do believe that the Republican Party has, since the election of Bill Clinton, completed its morphication into the Repugnantican Party, as those who follow me and/or on Facebook know – it might interest you to know that I have voted the Republican ticket before: for Tom Kean and Christie Whitman as New Jersey governors in their respective races, and, most notably, you will all drop dead with surprise now, for George H. W. “Pappy” Bush as President in his (first) 1988 campaign. (Unlike waaaaay too many Americans, I also consider foreign policy when choosing my Presidents, and as Director of the CIA, “Pappy” had the inside track; there’s a reason we didn’t go all the way into Baghdad in the Gulf War, and George H. W. Bush knew it and got it, i.e., the balance of power sometimes makes ugly bedfellows. See Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin in WW II for reference. Or if it’s too much work for you to do a little historical research, just look what’s happened in the Middle East since Bush, Jr. took out Saddam.) Besides, Barbara Bush is pro-choice, and I have always suspected that her husband is, too, even if it has not been politically expedient for him to say so.

So why am I so terrified of a President Trump? Let me put into comic book terms:

I would rather have Lex Luthor as President than Donald Trump. Why? Because Lex Luthor, archenemy of Superman, is smart. Trump is not.

I would vote for Wilson Fisk before I could ever vote for Donald Trump. Why? Because Wilson Fisk, archenemy of Daredevil, loves his woman beyond himself. Trump is a man whose women are only reflections of his own narcissism.

I would vote for Doctor Doom before I could ever vote for Donald Trump. Why? Because Doctor Doom, archenemy of the Fantastic Four, loves his country, Latveria. Trump does not love the United States; he loves Amerika.

Amerika.

Do you want a taste of Trump’s Amerika?

Here is the transcript of what President Obama said to the crowds attending his rally for Hillary Clinton on Friday night in Fayetteville, North Carolina as he was interrupted by a Trump supporter; the crowd was loudly booing and getting riled up:

Hey! Listen up! I told you to be focused, and you’re not focused right now. Listen to what I’m saying. Hold up. Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Everybody sit down, and be quiet for a second… First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech. Second of all, it looks like maybe he might’ve served in our military and we got to respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we got to respect our elders. And fourth of all, don’t boo, vote.”

And here is what Trump told his supporters about the incident at his campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania:

There was a protester and a protester that likes us. And what happened is they wouldn’t put the cameras on him. They kept the cameras on Obama… He was talking to a protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him. By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they would say he became unhinged.”

‘Nuff said.

Michael Davis: If This Be Doom’s Day

President Lex Luthor

Remember when Obama was elected?

For me as a black man, this was one of if not the ultimate “where were you at when such and such occurred” moment.

When O.J. was acquitted, I was in the conference room at Motown. The Rodney King verdict in my office and (this is not a joke) I let all the white people on my staff go home early.

Alex Ross obamaI was in bed with a five-alarm migraine praying for death or sleep, whichever came first. It was sleep and when it came it seemed to last about a second before my phone woke me. I ignored the call but soon it became apparent that was the first of many. My phone played my “wrong nigga to fuck with” ringtone so often I dreamt LAPD had arrested me again.

I picked up determined to destroy whoever it was.

“Prince is dead.”

My heart joined my head in unbearable pain. The same kind of pain I felt while at Xenon a New York club that rivaled the famed Studio 54 for a time where I was when John Lennon was shot.

I’m sure most people can remember where they were when something earth-shattering happened. However; can you remember where you were the day after the earth shook?

I can, for one day.

The day after John Lennon died I was in Barron Storey’s illustration class at Pratt Institute. Baron brought in a small organ then instructed the class to “create something moving” in remembrance of the slain Beatle while he played Beatles tunes.

Yeah, that happened.

On 911 I was in my Los Angeles home. Denys Cowan and I, both transported die hard New Yorkers, watched the news reports all day from separate houses, neither of us capable of hanging up the phone and driving the 10 minutes to the others home.

An Atlanta Hilton was my location when the news came about the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. My wife at the time had taken her class there on a field trip that very day. Somehow I knew when I couldn’t reach her she was there when the bomb exploded.

She was.

I was unable to book a flight home and spent one of the longest days of my life terrified. At 2 a.m. she called and explained how everyone had to shelter in place until they were escorted out.

All those events remain etched in my memory. Except the first WTC bombing, none nearly etched as deep as when Barak Obama won the Presidency.

Once again I was with Denys Cowan, but this time at his home. We were overjoyed, to say the least. As it turned out, so was the comic book industry.

To say the industry was supportive would be a massive understatement. There were special editions from Marvel, Image, Devil’s Due and Fantagraphics to name a few among the many. Hell, Alex Ross did a tee-shirt many of Hollywood’s A-list wore and damn for a time that shirt was as big as the ‘Hope’ image.

The comics industry embraced Obama with a passion.

Almost eight years, two terms and 96 months of crazy shit later it’s possible the polar opposite of Obama may be elected.

One of the traits shared by politics and comics are evil opposites.

There is always an evil counterpart to great heroes. It’s not hard to spot them they tell you who they are.

“It all fits somehow, his coming here to Metropolis. And at this particular time. There’s a kind of cruel justice about it. I mean, to commit the crime of the century, a man naturally wants to face the challenge of the century. – Lex Luthor

Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they’re friends, like you and me! I should’ve known way back when… You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass. – Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass

Two other great comic book foils, the Reverse Flash and Bizarro, were thorns in the side to their counterparts Flash and Superman. The Reverse flash is straight up evil I have no idea if he’s still around in whatever universe DC is entering or was around in the last universe or the universe before that. I know back in the day when Barry Allen was the Flash, the Reverse Flash was a great character and genuine evil bastard.

Bizarro isn’t evil, but he certainly plays a hazardous role.

Superman JFKDonald Trump is a bigger than life character. He’s great television I’ll say that. He may not be evil but he certainly is dangerous, and that’s not just my opinion it’s a lot of the globe’s as well.

The world, for the most part, was happy Obama became President of the United States. If the Donald becomes the next President?

Not so much.

From the New York Times, May 22. 2016:“Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, said about a possible Trump victory; “I don’t want to see that kind of United States.”

Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister and a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, gave a lengthy list of what he characterized as Mr. Trump’s misstatements. “I don’t think there are any Trump supporters present here.”

The industry was so pro-Obama eight years ago, so I’m wondering if his opposite enters the White House race what if anything will the industry do?

It just seems if the comic book industry and frankly a lot of the entertainment world went SO buck wild over Barack Obama we should go “oh hell no!” at the thought of a Donald Trump Presidency.

Will we?

Will unique issues be published showing Trump as evil?

Will Trump be featured with a wicked giant smiling grinning face on the cover of Spider-Man?

Will the Savage Dragon pimp slap the Donald?

Will he be depicted as more dangerous than Galactus? Will the Silver Surfer become his Herald sent to Mexico and the Middle East to make way for the Donald and his Ultimate Nullifier?

In Mexico, will he use the Ultimate Nullifier to make them build a wall to imprison themselves and pay for it with their pesos? Have to admit if Trump can make a country build a wall to keep their citizens in place that would be some awesome shit.

And if Mexico pays for what would be a standing insult and demeaning barrier?

If that happens, Donald Trump would be the ultimate pimp alas Trump fans. It will never happen. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “it will never happen” is what most (including me) said about Trump’s road to the Republican nomination. Well, I was wrong, and it did happen.

The only real way one country can make another do its bidding is at the point of a gun. You think Trump is crazy enough to go to war so he can get that wall built? I do, but the American people won’t stand for it.

Then again, if he’s elected President talking the crazy shit, he’s talking now maybe they will.

But I digress. Peter David! Howthehellareyou?

What will the comic book industry do? Barack Obama may not be universally loved but people he’s a comic fan. That makes him one of us.

Will we do nothing?

There’s a saying: The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.

I am not naïve. I’m fully aware some see Donald Trump as a savior. Some see him as a confident business person and the future of America. I don’t see him that way. I see him as a very shrewd thoroughly convincing to some, egomaniac. Although I respect, everybody’s right to do what they want. As a person of color, I can’t under any circumstances support a homophobic, women hating, race baiting, KKK denying, violence inciting man who goes before the entire world and talks about his dick.

THIS IS A CNN SPECIAL REPORT:

AMERICA AT WAR!

The nightmare we thought would never occur has come to pass. America has dropped a nuclear bomb on Mexico. International reaction has been quick. The world has condemned our action. The United States of America has been kicked out of Nato as well as the United Nations. Forces are building against us, and all US citizens have been…wait a moment…we now take you to The Trump House where President Trump will address the nation.

“My fellow Americans, you know who you are. I love real Americans. Look no reason to be scared, there’s no way anyone will mess with us. Those reports of missiles heading towards us is as real as Obama’s birth certificate. The President of Spic Land, ya like that? I called it Spic land.

The President left me no choice in the matter when he insulted the United States of America. He told Anderson Cooper “Anyone who talks about how big his home is how much money he has and how big his penis is must be compensating for something.”

I hear from many many people he said his cock was bigger than mine. I told him to prove it, “Whip that tamale on out signor wetback and let’s see. If you don’t, you’ll regret it.”

He didn’t so I had to drop the big one on him. I only meant to get him but, well these things happen.

Far-fetched?

Donald Trump has used some of the very same tactics as Hitler. There are many, but I’ll just cite one, he blames a particular group of immigrants for our problems.

Most stood by and watched as Hitler proceeded to try to destroy several particular groups. Will it happen here? Can it? That, I admit is far-fetched.

On the other hand, is saying the first black President, vetted by the FBI, CIA, NSA is a Muslim born in Africa, but some guy found out on the internet that’s a lie.

Millions of people believed that bullshit.

Millions still do.

Box Office Democracy: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It’s easy to kick a studio while they’re down, and a little of that seems to be happening with the reactions to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros. has struggled mightily in bringing their heroes to the screen in recent years (recent decades if we don’t count Christopher Nolan’s work) and there’s an attempt to pile on. If Batman v Superman were a Marvel Studios film I suspect it would be getting more positive coverage as people dug to find the good things and used them to redeem the things that don’t work; instead people are endlessly picking at the numerous mistakes. Don’t get confused, Batman v Superman is an awful movie and Zack Snyder should be stopped at all costs but in the hands of literally any other director I could believe there was a salvageable property here and there’s time to right this ship.

Superman as depicted in Batman v Superman isn’t fun to watch, nor does he feel faithful to the character. I’ll be honest: I stopped reading comics on a weekly basis in the winter of 2012 and I haven’t been keeping up since then, so maybe Superman has become an extremely violent, petulant baby in that time— but I sort of doubt it. The Superman in this film is terrifying to consider. He’s quick to anger and never particularly nice to anyone that isn’t Lois Lane; more like Miracleman than Superman. The only never ending battle on display in this film is the one Warner Bros. fights for Superman to appear cool, but they’ve succeeded in creating a character that would only seem cool to an edgy teenager or the 90s comics industry. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be rooting for Batman or Superman when they come to blows, but I’m almost certainly not supposed to be thinking Lex Luthor is right about everything— and yet that’s just where I was for 80% of this movie.

The non-Superman characters were mostly pretty good. Ben Affleck should release a video where he makes it very clear he’s addressing all the people who doubted he could be a credible Batman, drop the mic, and then walk away. He’s a great Batman; I’m ready to put him in the upper echelon with Bale and Keaton (and Kilmer but let’s not get sidetracked) after seeing this movie. He’s believable physically, and he captures that kind of arrogant paranoia that I think Batman should embody. The scenes with Wonder Woman in costume are a giddy rush, and they represent her so well in the fight scenes without any clunky exposition or holding anybody’s hand. We all know who Wonder Woman is, we’ve been alive in the world. The scenes before she puts on the costume are less good; they kind of play her like an off-brand Selina Kyle, but they might have been going for an air of mystery and were betrayed by the PR team. Jesse Eisenberg has the most off-beat take of any established character, and while there isn’t a strong comic book foundation to what he’s doing, it does feel like what a billionaire megalomaniacal industrialist would look like in the modern start-up culture and he’s so unsettlingly creepy that I’m going to give him a pass.

I generally find Zack Snyder’s work to be unappealing visually, and Batman v Superman is no exception. Things are too slick, slow motion is used too much, only a handful of scenes take place in daylight. Gotham City and Metropolis look the same because there’s no room for points of contrast. I suppose Gotham’s abandoned docks are supposed to feel seedy and give the city a dilapidated edge but Metropolis has a crashed alien ship taking up a huge part of their downtown so there’s no contrast there. The contrast between Superman and Batman should be reflected in every part of their environment and instead everything takes place on the same dreary streets and rooftops.

The common refrain after seeing a movie like this is that it “destroys their childhood” of the viewer, and that’s always nonsense. No one from Warner is going to break down my door and set any of my trade paperbacks on fire or draw a bunch of bloodstains in the margins or anything like that. However, superhero movies are trading on nostalgia. If they can’t get a dyed in the wool DC Comics person like me to feel a connection to this film (and if you go back and read paragraph three of this review I desperately want to feel this connection) then I can’t imagine who does. They’ve made a misanthropic film, an ugly film, and worst of all they made a Zack Snyder film.

The Point Radio: Michael And Sara Make IMPASTOR Magic

After his long run on SMALLVILLE, Michael Rosenbaum is back on series television with the new TV Land project, IMPASTOR. He, and adorable co-star Sara Rue, talk about the show and show off the amazing chemistry that makes it work. Plus we begin our look at JUSTICE LEAGUE GODS AND MONSTERS, DC’s daringly different new DVD.

More in a few days with more on JUSTICE LEAGUE GODS AND MONSTERS. Be sure and follow us on Twitter now here.

Mindy Newell: Gaiman, Luthor and Trump, Oh My!

lex luthor trump

 “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again. Because I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money. I’m not using lobbyists, I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

Who said that?

This being ComicMix, and you being a comics fan, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said it was Superman’s arch-enemy, Lex Luthor.

This being ComicMix, and you being a comics reader, I wouldn’t be surprised if you picked up on the interesting concept of life imitating art as you witnessed Barak Obama’s arch-enemy, Donald Trump, announce his candidacy for the office of the President of the United States on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

Yesterday, out for a stroll with Alix, Jeff, and little Meyer, we browsed an outdoor celebration of Jersey City’s multi-cultural milieu, which included a terrific, mesmerizing, head-nodding, toe-tapping “Bollywood” dance performance by a professional Indian theatre group. What would “the Donald” say about that? Oh, wait, they weren’t Mexicans, so I guess they’re okay.

Anyway, continuing our stroll, we went to Jersey City’s greatest (and only) independent bookstore, The Word. While browsing the shelves, I picked up Neil Gaiman’s – and please don’t tell me that I have to remind you who Neil Gaiman is, this being ComicMix and you being a comics reader – new collection of short stories, Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions and Disturbances. Here’s some of what the New York Times had to say about it (and about Neil):

One of the most enjoyable pieces of writing in Trigger Warning, which assembles a range of previously published material from the past seven or eight years, along with a new story that revisits the world of Gaiman’s best-selling novel American Gods, is the author’s introduction, delivered in the chatty, generous and digressive style familiar to readers of his blog. He supplies contextual anecdotes for every story or poem in the book, apologizes (unnecessarily) for its inherent shagginess and lack of thematic clarity, and expends rather too much effort explicating his title, a puckish reference to the Internet-spawned notion that all potentially provocative material should be flagged in advance, lest it engage latent trauma in its audience.

“I wonder, are fictions safe places?Gaiman writes. “And then I ask myself, should they be safe places?” He means to suggest that his fiction may indeed prove disturbing and that we’re on our own, but that last part isn’t quite true. We have a guide. In practice, Gaiman’s writing answers the introduction’s questions both in the negative and in the affirmative. In his fictional worlds, reality is frequently subject to disturbing or hilarious slippage: A moonlight stroll in search of a defunct local attraction shifts without warning into a Shirley Jackson-style murderous ritual (“A Lunar Labyrinth”); a talkative woman in a small-town pub turns out to be a spectral jilted lover with a gruesome secret to reveal (in ‘Black Dog,’ a new adventure of Shadow Moon, the hero of American Gods); a teenage girl’s addiction to tanning lotion may result in the creation of a shimmering orange entity known as ‘Her Immanence,’ or to her sister as ‘the Great Oompa-Loompa.’ (That story, ‘Orange,’ is skillfully constructed as a litany of unsatisfying answers to official questions.)

One of the things I love about Neil is that he embraces his own fan sensibility and geekhood; Trigger Warning not only includes the afore-mentioned Oompa-Loopa, but also stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

I was also amused – well, I’m not sure if “amused” is the right word, unless it’s used in the ironic sense – to find G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Aphona’s Ms. Marvel series in the “Graphic Novels/Comics” section of the bookstore. I couldn’t help wondering if Kamala Khan, who lives in Jersey City, sometimes comes into The Word. (Um, that’s the “ironically amused” part.)

And I also couldn’t help wondering if “the Donald” would be okay with her. But she’s not a Mexican, so I guess he would be.

Wait a minute, she’s Muslim!

Just like President Barak Obama. Right, Donny?

 

Mike Gold: Lex Luthor, Fiend or Foe?

Lex Luthor

Batman’s got The Joker. Spider-Man has Doctor Octopus. The Flash has an entire rogue’s gallery. The Fantastic Four used to have Doctor Doom, but now that Marvel’s banished the Fox-Four from their universe Doom’s annoying everybody, without priority.

Superman has a bald businessman/scientist with a severe ego problem.

I never thought Lex Luthor was much of a villain. In fact, when I was in my teens I was pretty certain I could take him. Evidently, from time to time the folks at DC must have felt the same way. He’s been put into super-power-bestowing armor, he’s been given super-powers and he’s hired or co-opted powered super-villains to do his dirty work.

Lex has been an evil scientist, an evil businessman, an evil president, an outer-world hero, and a domestic hero. He’s been a picker, a grinner, a lover and a sinner.

But Lex Luthor is just a guy. He might be smarter than your average bear, but Lex is a lightweight compared to Michael Holt, Ray Palmer, Will Magnus, Rip Hunter, Ted Kord, Professor Ivo, probably Doctor Sivana… and most likely Bruce Wayne, if Bruce wasn’t burdened with the worst case of OCD in comics history. From time to time we’re told he’s the smartest guy around, but there’s very little evidence to support this claim. If I had to choose my Family Feud team, Lex wouldn’t make it.

At the very least you’d think that if Luthor was so damn smart, he’d have a better reason for hating Superman. Jealousy is not much of a reason. A smart person would realize its limits. But even a stupid person would realize that, after taking on Superman a zillion times and ultimately losing each time, further confrontation would be without purpose. Taking on and losing to the Man of Steel for three-quarters of a century is the very definition of insanity.

Curiously, his sundry movie and television appearances have been more threatening. The one thing that Lex Luthor has in common with Gene Hackman, Michael Rosenbaum, Kevin Spacey, John Shea, and Lyle Talbot is that all of them are human beings (more or less) who, clearly, all love playing evil villains. But the fact is, on the 1950’s Adventures of Superman teevee show, where the budget was lower than a temperature gauge at the South Pole, they never used the character. Superman editor Mort Weisinger was the story editor of the show; he knew all about the guy. Put him in a suit or a lab coat and you’ve got yourself an evildoer that doesn’t stretch the budget. Lex just isn’t worthy.

I have always felt Superman deserved a better arch-enemy. And he has them. Brainiac, Zod, the Parasite, and Darkseid – particularly Darkseid – are quite capable of being worthy of our most famous costumed superhero.

As a villain, Luthor would serve better as a behind-the-scenes manipulator, pulling the strings and making advantageous things happen. It should take Superman years to discover his presence and find him.

Lex Luthor should be the DC Universe’s answer to Sheldon Adelson.

 

Dennis O’Neil: Television Is Sacred

Well, I predicted it.

Mari and I sat in the living room until about nine, and then she turned out a front light and we returned to our sacred duty, watching television.

Before we continue… You’re vexed by that last statement? Teevee watching a sacred duty? Eh? Okay, consider: Almost beyond doubt there is a television in every home in our village. And almost beyond doubt, each of those television sets gets turned on and heeded each and every day except for those belonging to our townsfolk who may occasionally leave screens dark for religious reasons. Now, there is nothing else that is in every – every! – domicile. Mezuzahs, bibles, Boy Scout oaths, crucifixes, copies of the Declaration of Independence, scientology tracts, Buddhist sutras, the collected works of Ayn Rand – sure, you’ll see those here and there, but not everywhere. But we all own televisions and we all watch them once in a while, or oftener, and anything that’s done by everyone must be important and – correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t it a short step from “done by everyone” to “sacred”?

Glad we got that settled.

And no, I don’t know what we watched. Like that matters!

The faithful among you may remember that last week I attributed our lack of Halloween trick-or-treaters to the difficulty of trudging to the top of our hill, especially if you’re afoot and coming from the center of town, and the few dwellings on our particular block, and the utter absence of businesses.

I may have been mistaken.

Tomorrow, as I write this, is the day we good citizens vote. My lefty/hippie politics are no secret and so it’s reasonable to suppose that my Political Enemies (for surely they exist) decided to nullify whatever polling place influence I might have by diverting such costumed visitors who were bound for my front porch.

“Hey kid,” they might have hissed at some fledgling goblin (and don’t these types always hiss!), “those people at the top of the hill have sprayed their lawn with Ebola and are brewing up cyanide lemonade in their kitchen.”

The youngster would flee and Mari and I would be alone on our couch as the hours ticked by which, as a matter of fact, is what happened. Then, my Political Enemies might suppose, I would become so despondent at my being ignored that I would climb into the attic, hunker down between stacks of comic books, put my thumb in my mouth, and moan until well past voting day.

Not going to happen. (At least I don’t think it will happen, though voting day isn’t until tomorrow and who can predict the future? But no – I’ll probably steer clear of the attic.)

And what about you? Did you avoid the attic? Did you do your duty and vote?

I certainly hope so.

Unless you’re a Political Enemy.

Mindy Newell: Who Are You?

“Whooooooooo are you? Who? Who? Who, Who?”

WHO ARE YOU
Composed by Pete Townsend
The Who, 1978

Picking up from last week

All our super-powered mythic creations, whether hero or villain, man or woman, are avatars—whether we realize it or not.

Superman, of course, is the Big Kahuna avatar of comics. Every corrupt politician that Superman put in jail, each mobster who pulled a gun and watched the bullets bounce off Superman’s chest, every misogynistic wise-ass jerk who insulted a woman and was punished by Superman was really being punished by these two bookish, nebbishy, and schlemiel-y kids from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, who weren’t able to fight the anti-Semites or win the gorgeous goyishe blonde.  I doubt very much either of them were consciously aware of the psycho-sociological underpinnings of their alien hero who would capture the world’s imagination, but it’s all there, as many critics and writers, including Danny Fingeroth, Jules Feiffer, Grant Morrison, Scott Bakutman of Stanford University, and A. C. Grayling of The Spectator have noted.  Grayling’s article, “The Philosophy of Superman: A Short Course”, discusses the need for a Superman over the decades since his creation in the 1930’s, including the early 21st century and events post-9/11, stating that:

…caught between the terrifying George W. Bush and the terrorist Osama bin Laden, America is in earnest need of a Saviour for everything from the minor inconveniences to the major horrors of world catastrophe. And here he is, the down-home clean-cut boy in the blue tights and red cape.

Others more erudite than I am may have used more polysyllabic pronouncements when analyzing the characterization of the Man of Steel, but I will say that he is a fugue, an escape, an exodus into a world in which, simply put, the good guys win.

Depending on your definition of “the good guys,” of course.

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Weekend Window Closing Wrap-Up: February 9th, 2014

Closing them on my browser so you can open them on yours, a list of various things that I haven’t had time to write full posts about. Here we go again…

What else is out there? Consider this an open thread.