Tagged: Lois Lane

Emily S. Whitten: Superman and Man of Steel

Whitten Art 130618As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been a Superman fan pretty much forever. Superman was my first encounter with superheroes, beginning with watching the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie when I was very small. Through the years, Superman has remained one of my favorite superheroes. Sure, I love Deadpool (obviously!), and I’ve always been a big X-Men fan… and Batman… and Spider-Man… and I could go on and on from there – but Superman, the most unequivocal and steadfast symbol of hope and ethical humanity in the whole collection, has always been there in the background, informing my appreciation of the rest of the bunch.

Some people say that Superman is a boring character. He’s too perfect. He’s incredibly powerful and can do almost anything, way beyond what most of us can fathom, and he’s constantly doing the “right” or noble thing. How interesting can someone like that be?

Very interesting, I think. It’s Superman’s decision about how to use his power; his nobility; and his steadfast idealism in the way he decides to live his life for humanity and constantly be striving to do that right thing that have made him a multi-generational symbol and inspiration. At the same time, it is also his choice to live for humanity that drives him to live amongst humanity, and thus empathize with their plights, and, eventually, fall in love with one of them – Lois Lane.

Lois is the other half of what makes Superman so interesting. She’s a strong character in her own right, as she has to be to match up to someone as powerful as Superman. But she’s also only human, with human difficulties. Lois humanizes Superman, she pulls him back to Earth from the skies in which he might otherwise constantly float above us all. Sure, as a child, Superman is in touch with humanity, anchored by his parents and their desire to raise him with a strict moral code that respects and teaches responsibility for humanity. But once Clark seriously takes on the Superman persona and is living far from his parents as an adult in a strange city, someone else’s influence is needed. Enter Lois.

In most iterations of Superman, Lois does not, for at least a significant period of time, know that Superman and Clark Kent are the same man. Various reasons for this remaining the status quo of their relationship exist, from the potential danger to Lois if she knows Superman’s secret identity to Clark’s insecurity about her feelings for him as Clark, or his desire for her to, essentially, “like him for him,” and not for being some kind of alien demigod. This dynamic not only serves to anchor Clark, but also to drive the story – as a lot of the drama, humor, and interest of the Superman story stems from Clark’s attempts to live a double life and somehow still win over the woman he loves and attain a very human kind of happiness.

Superman’s power and nobility, combined with Clark’s very human relationship with Lois Lane, are what make him such an interesting character, and what make me throw up my hands in disbelief when someone says that Superman is boring. Because how could an interaction of our human struggles with our human desire to be heroic be boring? How could it be just another story? Well, if people make it that way, I suppose. If people stray from what makes Clark-and-Superman great, and try to instead fit him into the box of every other superhero out there.

Now, let’s talk about Man of Steel.


On a strictly is-it-an-enjoyably-watchable -movie level, I liked Man of Steel. Except for the overly long fight scenes (of which there were several), the pacing is pretty good. The cinematography is good. The story is fairly cohesive and easy to follow (despite some odd plot holes/questions, like how Superman’s costume was just hanging around on a ship that had been buried in Earth’s icy caverns thousands of years before the destruction of Krypton). Henry Cavill is delicious, and also shirtless in pretty much his very first scene. Shirtless and on fire. And it’s hot (all puns intended). Amy Adams is also adorable. Overall the acting is pretty top-notch. And there are many recognizable genre, TV, and mainstream actors to clap about (including at least two Battlestar: Galactica dudes, Tahmoh Penikett and Alessandro Juliani). There is also some blatant product placement…that works (Clark’s childhood friend Pete Ross works at an IHOP. After watching the movie, my friend and fellow journalist Alicia and I were forced, forced I tell you, to go to IHOP because we suddenly had IHOP cravings. But it was delicious, so that’s okay).

On a Superman mythos level, things get a lot shakier. One thing I did enjoy was the minor Superman character name-drops. Pete Ross, as mentioned, shows up in both Clark’s flashbacks and present day. Dr. Emil Hamilton is there as a military scientist or consultant. Steve Lombard is working at The Daily Planet. And there’s a wee Lana Lang on the flashback bus when it goes into the river. I also actually really enjoyed the first part of the movie, from Krypton through about the first two or so flashbacks. This is one film I’ve seen that actually world-built Krypton to a realistic extent and then spent some time there. Sure, there are echoes of what’s been developed before, and the combination of technology and organic, mythical-looking creatures was a bit weird at first, but I loved details like the floating silver orbs that are a combination of personal assistants and bodyguards, and also allow for a sort of 3-D video communication (or for a 3-D ultrasound!). And I liked the extent to which they managed to make the look of Kryptonian attire realistically tie in with Superman’s costumed appearance.

After Krypton, the first few scenes establish a Clark who’s wandering the world, interspersed with some growing-up time. These scenes are very enjoyable. The current scenes show a Clark that, like a well-developed Krypton, we don’t usually get to see much on screen. Clark’s soul-searching and wanderings as a young man are referenced in several versions of the Superman story, but we don’t often actually see them. And each of the early flashbacks shows a young Clark who is learning about his powers, and about his responsibilities, in a way that is organic and not heavy-handed.

Once the movie has spent some time on this, however, it moves more firmly into the present day origin story, with just a few more flashbacks here and there. These are of an older Clark and, while I get that teens are difficult and superteens perhaps even more difficult, these scenes are devoid of the familial love and warmth that marks the earlier scenes. They also include a scene in which Clark literally stands fifty feet away from his dad and watches him get swept away by a tornado. While the movie tries to make this into a character development point, it’s such a wrong note for Superman that I just couldn’t get behind it. Keeping his powers a secret or not, no Superman I’m interested in would be that selfish, even if his dad was telling him not to save him. It’s around this point that the movie also moves firmly into being, essentially, an alien disaster movie that happens to feature Superman.

Given the trailers we’d been seeing, and the fact that both Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan were signed on, I feared that we were going to get a very grimdark Superman in Man of Steel. And although the first several scenes were all fairly serious, since they cut back and forth it relieved the grimness somewhat, and I thought maybe my fears were going to be unfounded. Well, not so much. After the first few cuts back and forth, things turn continuously grim and grimmer in Man of Steel. Death and destruction (on a global scale) begin to appear everywhere and only increase for the rest of the story; and boy, is it exhausting to watch. It’s also not what I wanted to see in a Superman movie.

During Man of Steel, we are told by Jor-El that the S on Superman’s chest means “hope” to Kryptonians. And that’s exactly what Superman is supposed to be for us – a symbol of hope. He is our hope that there are people like him out there, and that it’s okay to believe they exist – which is important, because if they do exist, and succeed at existing, then maybe it’s not so unrealistic for us to try to be a little bit like them. Maybe we can be heroes too, at least now and again. In a way, Superman is the first part of that iconic last line of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current…” Superman reflects the best of human idealism, and the struggle to move forward, despite obstacles, and to continue moving forward. Superman is a symbol of hope…but this is not a hopeful movie.

There are a lot of dark superhero movies out there. The recent movies of Superman’s sometimes-partner Batman, for instance, are dark; and that works for him. I loved The Dark Knight, but I don’t need a hundred Dark Knights. The world is depressing enough right now, and I don’t need to constantly see destruction and death on the big screen; because we see it every day. What I need right now, what I crave, is a movie that shows me a hero who strives and succeeds at being better than that. At being better than all of the “reality” we are facing both in reality and in our current media. At actually “saving the world,” and not being beaten down by it in the end. At being a steadfast constant who won’t break under the pressure. And what I really want to know, after seeing Man of Steel, which could have been the perfect vehicle for this, is: why couldn’t this movie’s producers have been “the brave and the bold” movie team who dared to actually celebrate an ideal and a hopeful future in which disaster is not an inevitable and acceptable norm? In which there is somebody who can actually stop the world from being destroyed before half of it is gone?

Instead, they opted for a Superman whose introductory film features a final body count that at least equals if not exceeds that of the villain, General Zod (and that includes General Zod, since Superman, albeit reluctantly, straight-up snaps Zod’s neck in the end). As someone on Twitter said, “There is no Man of Steel criticism more stark than the fact that Earth would have been better off had Kal-El died on Krypton.” And as writer Brian Reed snarks, a conversation between Zod and Superman that would easily fit in this movie could be: “I’ll kill all of these humans you love.” “I punched you through 30 buildings. I’ve probably killed more of them than you at this point.” That…is a sad state of affairs.

Along with all of the death, the film also features a metric ton of property (and Earth) destruction, and Superman and the Kryptonians constantly whaling on each other to the point where my soul was craving even a smidge of character development, and welcomed Perry White and Steve Lombard’s struggle to free some random Daily Planet intern from rubble. You know your Superman movie is in trouble when a watcher is more interested in that than in Superman. Maybe because your Superman movie tries but fails to show the complexity or nuances of being both Superman and Clark Kent? Because it’s too busy showing things blowing up and the whole world falling apart? Yeah, maybe that.

One way in which the movie does try to humanize the adult Clark is via the introduction of Lois, and his interactions with her. But in my view, this is another great failure of the movie. Lois, as a character in Man of Steel, is great. She’s smart and upbeat and determined and fearless and loyal and successful and kind and has a strong sense of what’s right. She goes after the story, and gets the story, and has earned the respect of her editor and fellow reporters, and she is all around the sort of Lois I want to see. Lois and Superman, in their interactions, are also very strong.

But do you notice what’s missing about the previous sentence? Any mention of Clark. The meeting of Lois and Superman in this movie is just that – a meeting in which Lois knows him as Superman from the get-go. Yes, his name might be Clark, and she knows that too, but that’s incidental to all of their interactions. And while that may not greatly affect the dynamic of this particular movie as a movie, what does it do to the Superman mythos and to any potential sequels? Well, it strips out the human factor, the fun, the heart, and the drama that all come from the original Lois and Clark dynamic. It strips out a large part of what makes that story great.

As mentioned, when Superman is forced to be Clark around the woman he loves, and to wonder if she’ll ever love him for himself, rather than just for his powers as Superman, it brings him down to Earth, and to humanity, and gives him a reason to strive to be a better human, as well as a better superhero. It also makes the story a lot more fun; even if eventually, Lois does discover the truth. The story leading up to the reveal makes the reveal that much better, and also makes the relationship that much deeper. But here, it’s like they decided to skip right to the third season of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – when those first two seasons were what makes anything after them work at all.

To catastrophically misunderstand this dynamic to such an extent was so unbelievable to me that, even though it’s a weak storytelling element and has been done before, in Man of Steel I kept waiting and hoping for amnesia. I seriously thought that when Superman saved Lois from the burning Kryptonian escape pod and she said, “I’m sorry…” the sentence was going to end with, “…but I don’t remember how I got here.” I couldn’t believe that they’d seriously set up the entire relationship to be Lois and Superman-who-also-happens-to-masquerade-as-Clark-to-other-people. And yet, they did. What a disappointment. Sure, maybe they can make it work if they do another movie, or a Justice League movie, or whatever; but it won’t be the Superman I know anymore, or the Superman I love.

In our post-mortem discussion of this movie, my friend Alicia said that Henry Cavill, while very good, would never be her Superman. And while I love Henry Cavill, and think he acquitted himself as well as the script would allow, I agree with her with a bit of a rephrase (because really, Henry Cavill isn’t the problem). Man of Steel will never be my Superman. And while I realize that heroes can be re-made for modern times, and sometimes should be to keep things fresh, Superman is one of those rare few where messing with his core story too much just flat out ruins who he is.

Superman is known as the Big Blue Boy Scout for a reason. Sure, the nickname is affectionately snarky; but it’s also a great compliment – a nickname for a hero who always does the right thing and acts to help others, and who is always prepared to solve the world’s problems and deal with its disasters. The goal of making a movie about Superman should be to maintain the bright ideal he has always been when at his best, without making him unrelatable or cheesy. I don’t know what Man of Steel set out to do, but in the end, it certainly didn’t feel like that. If I don’t leave a movie about Superman feeling like there’s some hope in the world, then that movie is not about the Superman I love. And Man of Steel didn’t leave me with much hope.

Well, that’s about all the movie analysis I can manage for one day, but until next time, Servo Lectio!




Mindy Newell: Life…

Newell Art 130408Last week’s column didn’t happen because I received a phone call at about 10 A.M. last Sunday from my mom. My dad was having another “episode,” his third. Meaning his brain was short-circuiting once more. It’s called “complex partial seizure disorder,” for the medically less-literate out there.

No one really knows why this is happening to him; before this started last Christmas Eve, he was in remarkable health for a man of 90. The only drug he took on a regular basis was one of the statins –anti-cholesterol drugs – and that was on a preventative basis. His blood pressure runs about 110/70, his heart rate about 65; his only major medical problem has been the deterioration of his eyesight because of macular degeneration and he was responding remarkably well to the treatment. Yes, he had had prostate cancer, but that was 30 years ago, and when his Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level rose, he started the androgen deprivation therapy and it dropped to 0.003 or something, i.e., normal.

So this week once again my dad lay in a bed in the ICU at Cooper University Hospital – big kudos to the staff there!!! – only this time he was intubated because the ambulance didn’t take my mom with them and I was driving like a bat out of hell down the NJ Turnpike and my brother (an MD at “the Coop”) was vacationing on Puerto Rico so there was no one to tell the trauma team that my dad is DNR and the protocol when a patient comes in having seizures is to intubate to ensure a patent airway.

Yesterday, exactly one week later, Dad woke up again. He was extubated this morning. He’s very weak, but he knew where he was, and he knew all of us. He also ate ice chips, a cup of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, Jello, and a ¾ of a bowl of chicken broth. The plan is to get him out of bed tomorrow. We’re going to take it from there.

So driving home I thought about my dad and this column and I thought about the portrayal of infirmity and illness in the super hero world. I had plenty of time because I again got stuck driving north on the Turnpike between Exit 7 and Exit 8A – a stretch of about 21 miles – in bumper-to-bumper, crawling traffic. It’s a section of the iconic NJ Turnpike that has been undergoing reconstruction for the last three years or so, which makes it prone for Delays Ahead: Be Prepared To Stop alerts, and I swear I think people slam on their brakes just to read the signs. What is it about one fender-bender that causes miles and miles of back-up?


The first picture in my mind was of Silver Age Superman gasping and choking and weakened as the radiation from Kryptonite, usually held or manipulated by Lex Luthor – poisoned him, finally turning him as green as the Wicked Witch of the West, indicating that death was near, just in a few panels. Kryptonite worked fast, unlike what happens to ordinary humans when exposed to radiation. Ordinary humans, exposed to radiation, don’t even feel it at first. The amount of time between exposure and the first signs and symptoms depends on the amount of radiation that has been absorbed. The first thing that usually happens is nausea and vomiting; headache and fever can also occur. After that, an individual with radiation sickness can have a period of remission, in which there is no apparent illness and the individual feels fine. Then the more serious problems start: hair loss, weakness, dizziness, bloody stools and vomit, weight loss, low blood pressure, fucked-up blood counts, cancer….a slow, painful, and debilitating death.

I guess Superman puking and having bloody diarrhea and going bald, getting infections and cancer and dying a slow, painful, and debilitating death wouldn’t have gotten past the Comic Code Authority back in the day.

Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, shot by the Joker in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke (1988), was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair – but through the talents of ComicMix’s own John Ostrander and his late, wonderful wife, Kim Yale, we watched Barbara go forward with her life: although initially (and realistically) portrayed with a reactive depression, Barbara comes to see that her life is not over. Gifted with a genius level IQ, a photographic memory, and possessing expert computer skills (including hacking) along with graduate training in library sciences, Barbara transforms herself in Oracle, an “information broker” to law enforcement agencies and the super-hero community. She also hires Richard Dragon (co-created by ComicMix’s own Denny O’Neil), a martial artist, to teach her combat and self-defense skills.

Gail Simone took the ball that John and Kim handed her and ran with it in Birds Of Prey…until, after DC’s 52 reboot, Oracle never existed and Barbara was mysteriously back on her feet. This – rightfully, im-not-so-ho – pissed off a lot of fans, because Barbara Gordon as Oracle was the preeminent role model for those living with disabilities. However, Gail has done a magnificent job with the post-Oracle Batgirl, allowing the character to go through PTSD secondary to her disability and recovery – although, as we all know, DC seemed to have a problem with that a few months ago. Luckily, DC recovered from that particular illness.

And now Power Girl, a.k.a. Kara Zor-L, a.k.a. Karen Starr, has breast cancer. Although I’m sure the intentions of the creative team are good and positive and totally above-board (and I do hope none of the creative team has had any kind of personal experience with breast cancer), somehow the cynic in me is smirking. Maybe because Power Girl has always been drawn with gi-normous bubble boobs that burst out of her costume like Mt. St. Helens blowing their tops? It’s like Sharon Tate’s character in The Valley Of The Dolls getting breast cancer. (Google or read the book or stream/rent the movie to get the reference.) It’s saying that the one thing that lifts (pun intended) Power Girl out of the crowd of super heroines are her mammary glands, so let’s mess with those.

It would have been more interesting to me if Sue Storm got breast cancer, or Lois Lane (isn’t she dead?), or even Wonder Woman.

Or what if Reed Richards, or Johnny Storm, or Bruce Wayne, or Hal Jordan, got breast cancer? Men get breast cancer, too, you know. More and more frequently, by the way.

I just hope the creative team does it research. And not just solve the problem of “how do we treat a woman who has breast cancer if she’s indestructible?”

That’s just so comic-bookey.

Breast cancer is real. People can end up in the ICU, hoping to get better, fighting to get better.

Just like my dad.




Superman Silver Announced

Superman SilverIn the run-up to Man of Steel, the most eagerly-anticipated super-hero film of the year, DC Comics just can’t seem to keep its new Superman initiatives secret for very long. ComicMix has learned that, in the wake of unprecedentedly strong orders for the print version of Batman ’66, DC has started work on Superman Silver. Like the Jeff Parker-Jonathan Case series, Superman Silver will exploit Boomer nostalgia for an earlier incarnation of one of its two biggest super stars. Obviously, “going retro” to appeal to an aging readership has paid off big-time for the publisher, since it’s decided to commission this series even before having metrics on Batman ’66.

Work on the new seven-week series, edited by Bobbie Chase and scheduled to begin in June, is only just beginning, but a few details have been leaked to ComicMix. Each issue will recreate the style, look, and tone of a Mort Weisinger-edited “Superman Family” title of the Silver Age, with several issues offering three 8-page stories.

While DC is still finalizing the lineup, we’ve learned that the series will kick off with Superman Silver: Superman, featuring a book- length Imaginary Story, “The Death of Van-Zee and Sylvia” by Howard Mackie and Alex Saviuk. This will be followed by Superman Silver: Action presenting a Superman lead, “When Superman Became Congorilla!” by Ralph Macchio and Terry Dodson, and a Supergirl back-up story, “Jeff Malverne, Super-Horse – Comet’s Rival for Supergirl’s Heart!” by Ann Nocenti and Patrick Olliffe. Week Three brings Superman Silver: Jimmy Olsen, whose cover story, “The Bedbug Boy of Metropolis,” is by Roger Stern and Javier Salteris.

To date, no creative team has yet been assigned to Superman Silver: Adventure, whose book-length story will feature the Bizarro Legion of Super-Heroes. Artists are still being sought for the remaining titles, Superman Silver: Lois Lane, Superman Silver: Superboy, and Superman Silver: World’s Finest, all of which will be written by Tom DeFalco.

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


Emily S. Whitten: Dress for Success, Superheroine Style

Whitten Art 130212Remember that time when Lois Lane dressed up as one of the most ridiculously named superheroines I’ve ever heard of on Smallville? And that superheroine was named “Stiletto” because at the time when she beat up a dude who was mugging Chloe, she happened to be wearing stilettos? And then she needed to find a way to draw out “the Blur,” (a.k.a. the non-Superman Superman of Smallville) so she used that incident to create a superheroine persona that wore a leather bustier and super-high stiletto boots, and then almost got her ass handed to her (despite being, really, pretty kick-ass for a normal gal). Yeah, that was a pretty silly episode. (And on a related note, I swear it’s just happenstance that I’ve started my last two columns by reminiscing about Superman shows. Next week, I promise I’ll reminisce about a different show. Or something.)

Anyway, despite being silly, I got to thinking about it recently, after some discussion about how female superheroines are dressed in comics. Let’s say I lived in a comic-book world, where I was, e.g., a lawyer by day and a superheroine by night. What would that be like? Well, first, I’d be really good friends with Matt Murdock and Jennifer Walters, because of course. (Man, we would have the most awesome happy hours ever.) Second, I’d have to pick a costume. And really, I feel like that wouldn’t be an easy task. I mean, in part it would depend on what kind of superheroine I was, e.g. what powers I had; but let’s say for the sake of general thought that at the very least my style of superheroine fighting would require athletic moves, as most do. What would I wear? And in comparison with what we see in comics, would it, or even could it, look “sexy,” as most supeheroines do, while still being practical? Let’s “give it a think,” as Winnie the Pooh would say.

Undergarments: Yes, I’m going to start with this, and here’s why: 1) Well, obviously, we’re talking about all the practicalities of superheroine-ing, and that includes everything from the inside out; and 2) I’ve seen so many comics in which a superheroine is fighting and there’s a lot more wear-and-tear than you’d expect from just a physical fight, and then, voila! Clothes are ripped and we can see, omg! their unmentionables! (Or, you know, sometimes they just go out to fight crime with one boob hanging out. Sure, why not?)

Well; if I was going to be running around trying to karate-kick (or whatever kick) thugs and stuff, I’d definitely wear something comfortable underneath. And it is possible to wear comfortable underwear that’s still pretty or cute; but for any of those superheroines out there who I’ve seen drawn wearing even somewhat skimpy panties under their costumes – well, all I can say is, those ladies’ superpowers must include the power to fight wedgies. At the very least I’d be wearing underpants that cover and stay on my butt; and in all likelihood, as a superheroine my new favorite thing would end up being boyshorts. Also, for any artists out there who are drawing superheroines wearing thongs? AHAHAHAHA. *snort* Right.

Likewise, if I had plans to be backflipping all over, or hanging upside-down, or elbowing baddies, or pretty much anything involving gymnastics or a physical fight, the last thing you’d be seeing is my cleavage. I mean, who can spare the concentration to worry about flashing the world when you’re trying to save it? Also, low-cut shirts are an easy thing for someone to catch onto or snag during a fight – yikes! Despite her other hilarious costume choices, Ms. Marvel has it right when it comes to the practicalities of how much cleavage I’d want to worry about while I was fighting. (Power Girl! You were so close to having a practical top! What happened?? Oh yeah. Dudes.)

I’d also want to wear something very breathable, unless one of my superpowers was not sweating. So that means goodbye to all of the heavily padded “Wonderbra” type things that would boost cleavage to the level seen on most superheroines (and if that’s all natural, then whoo-boy, the back problems those ladies must have!). One of my friends who grew up in Florida once compared those bras to “wearing two warm wet sponges” when it’s hot outside, and she’s not wrong. Maybe I’d opt for a little padding so the world wouldn’t take notice every time it’s cold outside, but probably the very “sexiest” thing I’d try out as a fighting superheroine is a sports bra like this, which is what you get when you cross a “sexy” lingerie store with an attempt to be practical. And even that has underwire, which is not super-comfortable in athletic situations, so my likely favorite would be something like this. (P.S. Sports bras don’t usually have lace on them. Sorry, dudes.)

Pants and Top: I actually think in most fight situations, a tightly tailored costume would be beneficial. It means less clothing to get caught on stuff; easy movement; and comfort, particularly if you’re wearing a breathable material, e.g. cotton spandex instead of something like bathing-suit material (though that probably holds up better and shows perspiration less). Spandex isn’t super-durable, though. If I had something like Supergirl’s physical invincibility, which supposedly extends to at least form-fitting clothes, then sure, the protection of spandex might be all I’d need; but if I was less-than-invulnerable, I’d probably want at least a few layers, and/or some padding around the joints; or maybe some leather, like motorcycle riders wear, if I could make it flexible enough. If I was less of a gymnast and more of a heavy fighter, I might even go for some sort of flexible body armor, like Batman.

I’d say there would be a range of decent choices for design here, as long as it: 1) covered and provided some protection for all exposed skin, unless invulnerable; or 2) If invulnerable, was still comfortable to fight in, so no unitards (wedgie problems again, as well as the worry about flashing everyone, for reals). The closest I’d go is spandex shorts to, like, mid-thigh. Or, if I absolutely had to wear a unitard, I’d at least wear tights or hose underneath. Also, let’s be frank, us ladies don’t shave our legs every single day ever, and crime waits for no beauty regimen. So even as Supergirl I might prefer something that covers my legs.

Oh, and I might opt for a belt of some sort, both a) to stave off butt cleavage; and b) for pouches, because seriously, as much as we make fun of comic book characters with myriad pouches sometimes, where else would I keep my weapons, grappling hook (because of course I’d have a grappling hook), communication and/or time-telling devices, and other necessaries (deodorant might be welcome, if I’m constantly fighting)? I might even go for a leg sheath too, if I were a guns-and-knife-y sort of gal. (Ooh – or maybe boots with leg knife sheathes! Rad.) If no pouches, or maybe in addition to them, I’d probably have zip-pockets sewn in all over the place, pants and shirt.

In the tops department, I’d go for full coverage unless I was invulnerable; and if I was, again, Ms. Marvel had the right idea for necklines. Oh, and I’d never, ever, ever wear a corset or bustier of any sort, unless my super-powers were being able to not breathe while exerting myself, and winning fights without bending too much in the middle. I’d also never, ever wear a cape, no matter how cool it might look if I could fly, because hello – how seriously easy is it to get tangled up in something like that, not to mention baddies literally yanking you around? (The exception being, I guess, Batman-types, who actually use the capes to fly, and even then I’d want it to, like, retract into a pouch or something.) I’d probably also opt for some good short, tight leather fingerless gloves with velcro wrist-adjusters and grip on the palms, especially if I was a climber or gymnast-y type fighter.

Shoes: No heels, no way. Hell no. Or, to be more precise – up to maybe 3/4 to 1 inch of a sneaker-style heel could be acceptable, but there would be no stiletto or spike heels, no square heels, no narrow-heeled wedge heels, etc. A short wedge that was wide and actually designed for stuff like fighting and running could be acceptable, I guess (it’d have to be tested). A low platform also might work. (Although of course, both of those options would be solely for the vanity/fashion desires of the superheroine, since I can’t see either of them being a fighting advantage). But again, short and low means like, 0.75 to maybe 1.25 inches, which is a lot lower in appearance than most comics artists realize. Even flying superheroines wouldn’t really be exempt from this, because they don’t do all of their fighting in the air, and they’d still need to keep their balance and speed while kicking someone or running on the ground.

If I was a superheroine that ran a lot or fought like a martial artist, I might actually want something closer to racing flats, Puma Speed Cats, or the like (racing flats are so nice to run in). I’d also want rubber soles with excellent grip (and maybe hidden knives in the heels if I did have thick soles, because knives in the heels. So cool. As far as a question of boots or sneakers, I actually might prefer boots with a soft but flexible leg – for more ankle support, as well as more leg and ankle protection. And I’d definitely get some good breathable athletic socks that stayed up and had arch support.

Accessories: Along with the aforementioned pouches, I’d definitely have my hair either very short, just long enough to stay in a short ponytail (a cut at about shoulder-length, maybe?), or in a bun at all times. As someone who’s done sports with hair that’s not super-short but too short to really tie back, and hair that was long enough to sit on, I know how annoying hair in your face/mouth/eye can be; and that doesn’t even consider it being a really convenient thing for people to grab in fights. No no, my superheroine hair would not be flying everywhere. A neat bun, perfect short ponytail, or super short ‘do is the only way to go. Barring or on top of that, I might opt for a skullcap, or similar tight hat, or a bandana like Elektra wears (but with all of my hair actually inside, and no flowing ribbons to catch on things).

If I was the sort to need to hide my face and keep my secret identity, I actually like the style of Black Canary on Smallville, where she paints a mask of elaborate makeup on as opposed to wearing a mask. She also has short hair and wears a wig in regular life, which is quite practical. Well done there, Smallville. Makeup is super time-consuming, though, so I might also have a fitted demi-mask to throw on as needed. Or, seriously, a ski mask-style thing. keeps the hair and identity under wraps!

And with that, I’d be (hopefully, somewhat) practically fitted out to go fight crime! And now we are back to the question, how “sexy” would I be? Well, I’d have low-to-no heels, and no cleavage or skin flashing. I’d also be lacking the flowing hair worn by so many superheroines, and maybe be wearing a cap or even a ski mask (and those things are ugly). Pretty much, I’d be Batman. I would, however, probably be wearing tight clothes. So I guess that’s, like, one sexy point in favor of practical costuming? But more importantly than any of that, I’d be comfortable, incognito, and giving myself the best advantages for winning the day and staying alive; and I have to think for most superheroines, those would be the most important considerations.

Looking at how superheroines dress in comics today, I occasionally see evidence that character and costume designers have at least thought of some practicalities; but I also see many egregious examples of “this would never happen in real life, wow.” And I see an imbalance in the practicality of design for male vs. female heroes. I’m not an idiot, or an unreasonable person – I know comics are for looking at, and people want to look at nice things; and superheroines having at least some prettiness or sex appeal is (almost always) inevitable. And that can be okay; I like looking at nice things, too. I also understand that for some heroines, invulnerability or other powers change the costume metric. But I do think it’s great when I see at least some thought being put into what it would really be like to be a superheroine, rather than just “what I want to look at.” And since male professional creators in comics still greatly outweigh female creators and can’t know what it’s like to actually live in female bodies and wear women’s’ clothes…maybe my little foray into musing about practical superheroine-ing will actually be helpful to someone. And if not…well, if I create a superheroine, now at least I know what she’ll be wearing!

Until next time, dress for success and Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Does The Sgt. Pepper Rag

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and The Nerddom Intelligentsia


Mike Gold: Stupid Decisions

Gold Art 130206Last week my colleague Ms. Thomases and I were sharing a movie experience at a Manhattan multi-mega-complex. Running the gauntlet of promotional material we passed the familiar poster advertising the franchise-saving event, Man of Steel. Once we were settled in the theater and the obnoxiously repulsive commercials started playing – most were for television shows – I mentioned to Martha that the new management of Warner Bros. hasn’t truly green-lit the Justice League movie. “They’re waiting to see how Man of Steel works out.”

Her Oh-Oh Sense flared up. While both of us were hoping for a killer Superman flick, nothing we have seen thus far has promoted any sense of confidence. Do we need another origin story filled with the Els and the Kents? Most of us have cable teevee or DVDs or streaming video or all three, and there’s plenty of filmed presentations of that origin story. My favorite remains the one from the 1950s teevee series where Our Miss Brooks’ Phillip Boynton played Jor-El while wearing Buster Crabbe’s tunic from the Flash Gordon serials… but that’s just me and a few other decrepit baby-boomers. The rest of you probably never heard of Professor Boynton, and some of you haven’t seen the Flash Gordon serials. You should fix that.

I’m certainly willing to give it a shot and I’ll enter the theater with all the optimism I can muster. It has a good cast, and Michael Shannon certainly has the gravitas to be a great General Zod. But there’s one problem that I’m unlikely to get past.

That damn costume.

OK. I’m sure somebody in Hollywood said “That guy wears his underpants outside his leotard! It’s stupid! We’ve must fix that!” Actually, it’s an old joke. But Superman is a genuine American icon, right up there with the flag, apple pie and third-world health care. Whereas we can fix the latter (but won’t in my lifetime) and the second is fattening, you do not change the flag. You do not change the Coca-Cola bottle, even if they’re reduced to printing a silhouette of it on their cans. You do not give Donald Duck Prozac, you do not copy Johnny Carson’s golf swing on your teevee show.

I’m not suggesting things cannot change. But there’s a reason why certain things reach iconic status. It’s like granting historical status to New York’s Grand Central Terminal (100 years old last week) or Chicago’s Rookery (Daniel Burnham rocks!). Society has deemed Superman’s trunks appropriate, dating back to the time Joe Shuster employed the imagery of the 1930s circus strongman for the Man of Steel’s costume. We may not have very many circus sideshows these days, but we do have Superman.

Besides, if there’s one stupid element in the big guy’s costume, it’s that cape. One of Clark Kent’s undisclosed superpowers must be a psionic ability to keep that thing from flapping over his face while in flight, or doing an Isadora Duncan on Lois Lane when they fly out to the Fortress of Solitude for a weekend of melting the crystals.

But I would not drop that cape, just like I wouldn’t gawk at our flag and ask “gee, do we need all that red?”

Because Warner Bros. is the dog and its DC Entertainment is the tail, Supe’s trunkless costume debuted in the ever-changing yet never-evolving New 52. I get this: a lot more money is riding on the movie franchise than on the comic books. However, there’s a reason why Superman has lasted 75 years – Man of Steel comes out pretty damn close to the actual 75th anniversary date – while other characters from that era that were more popular at the time (The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, Buck Rogers) have fallen out of favor. And that reason is wrapped in a red cape and red trunks.

When I see Man of Steel, I’ll have a hard time looking at the Big Guy and not thinking “Jeez, these morons got it wrong!”

Sometimes, fixing a stupid idea… is a stupid idea.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


John Ostrander’s Unsolicited Advice

I think we can all agree at this point that the DC New 52 gambit has been a success. Whether you like or dislike some, all, or none of the offerings, you have to agree that commercially and financially it’s worked which, from DC and Warner’s viewpoint, is what they wanted.

I haven’t been keen on all the changes. For example, I think Superman not having the red trunks looks weird. Superman hooked up with Wonder Woman and not Lois is just wrong, in my book. Thing is, these are not my books and aren’t meant to be. I’m in my sixties; DC’s demographic has to be for those younger than me and more diverse than an old white guy.

In the same mode, the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, has opened to great reviews (and I really want to see this one) and, by all accounts, has paid tribute to the past while paving the way for the future. That’s smart. You keep faith with old fans while reinvigorating the franchise.

Which brings me to the recent elections. As we all know, the Republicans lost the race to the White House as well as a few House seats and didn’t get control of the Senate, which they expected to do. They were certain they were going to unseat President Obama. They’ve taken to whining about the results and some of their spokespeople, like the noted political thinker Ted Nugent, claim their guy lost because of the “takers.” (I’m hearing that often enough to make me think it’s now an official GOP talking point.) Guys, this echoes back to Romney’s comments about the 47% in that clip that probably went a long way towards losing him the election. Do you really want to hit that nail on the head again?

The idea of my giving unsolicited advice to the GOP may seem a little odd. After all, I’m a well-known liberal commie pinko who was solidly and loudly behind Obama in this race and Democrats in general. However, I was raised Republican and have several Republican politicians in my pantheon of politicians I like, such as one time Illinois senator Everett McKinley Dirksen and former Illinois governor Richard Ogilvie. I even voted for some Republicans on the local level in the last election – on purpose. I think the Republic is served better by having functioning Republican and Democratic parties. I don’t think the GOP, if it continues down the road its on, will be a major functioning political party in about a decade. Maybe less.

The GOP used to have a lot of moderate members but, since becoming in thrall to the Far Right and the Tea Party, the moderates were purged and continue to be purged. It used to be that Republicans, while having their own beliefs and philosophy, could concede here and there in the interests of getting something done. Not anymore. Now it’s all ideology and how “true” they are to Conservative Principles as defined by Fox News, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, and Grover Norquist.

Mitt Romney defined what it meant to be Republican. In a time of recession and economic hardships and Occupy Wall Street, they made their standard bearer a member of the 1% and a venture (“vulture”) capitalist. At a time when the fastest growing demographic bases are minorities, they nominate the whitest white man they could find. When women are an increasingly important part of the electorate, they make a stand against abortion a part of the party platform with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

The GOP might consider the examples of both DC and the latest Bond movie to see how they can reinvent and reinvigorate their brand. Yes, they might alienate some of their base but that’s always a problem when you make changes. A basic truism for comic book companies – every time you change an artistic team on a book, especially one that has been long established, you know you’re going to lose some readers. The trick is to bring in more readers with the change than you lose. The same is true politically. These days, a GOP presidential candidate has to cater to the Far Right in order to get nominated. But to get elected they have to appeal to the center which is more moderate and that’s tricky to make work without losing your base. Ask Romney. But, as DC and the Bond franchise have both shown, it can be done and, in fact, should be done every so often.

The GOP started as a radical party full of abolitionist lefties before getting co-opted by Big Business. Under Teddy Roosevelt, they were “progressives,” which is now a dirty word among Republicans. Embrace what is best from your past, welcome those who are not just old white males, and re-invent yourselves.

If James Bond can do it, why not you?

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


Mindy Newell: Not Superman’s Girlfriend!

Last week I wrote about Lois Lane (here) for the first time since 1986 and my mini-series “When It Rains, God Is Crying,” which was edited by ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger. It got me to thinking about Lois.

First, a little history on the mini-series, which was published in 1986.

1986 was the year that John Byrne took over Superman. As the final ink was drying on the (secret) contract, I approached Dick Giordano about writing a Lois Lane mini-series. Or maybe it was Dick who called me into his office and asked if I wanted to write a “final” Lois Lane story as part of the “Superman Silver Age Farewell Tour, which included Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ For The Man Who Has Everything and Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and George Perez’s Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? I’m pretty sure it was the former, though I could be wrong, thanks to my menopausal memory.

There are two reasons I believe it was the former: (1) I didn’t know Byrne was being given carte blanche to reboot the entire Superman mythos and family, and that, as part of the deal, no one would be allowed to touch any of the characters without John’s permission; and (2) I distinctly remember saying to Dick that, if the first series was successful, I wanted to continue to write stories about Lois as her own person, as a reporter covering stories – not as Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. Of course Dick was non-committal, but I thought it was because he – naturally – didn’t want to put the horse before the cart, not because of the Byrne deal that was about to be announced to the press and public.

At any rate, and to my delight, Dick green-lit the project, which would feature Lois as a reporter doing a story on missing and abused children, and in which Superman would not appear – although Clark Kent would. And Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and even Lois’s sister, Lucy. The story would be character-driven, and it would be about Lois. Robert Greenberger, then working as an editor at DC – and with whom I had worked on the V comic – was given the assignment, and he brought in the remarkable Gray Morrow, known for his realistic and individualistic portrayal of women characters. We were all immensely enthusiastic about the project, and the series came together incredibly easy because of that enthusiasm. It remains something Robert and I are immensely proud to have created. (Gray Morrow, who always expressed his love of the series to me, passed away in 2001.)

The best part of the project, for me, was having the chance to write Lois as an individual.

I grew up on the Silver Age Lois in comics, she of the 1950s white veiled cloche and matching gloves, a lady-like suite, nylons, and pumps. I didn’t like that she was always mooning over Superman and that her main raison d’être was to prove that Superman was Clark Kent. I didn’t like that Superman always managed to pull the wool over her eyes. It made her foolish. It was insulting. It was dumb. I liked Lana Lang; she was spunky, she was Insect Queen, she was a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, and she just seemed smarter and not so constantly obsessed with Superman’s secret identity.

I couldn’t stand Noel Neill as Lois Lane, either. She was too – I don’t know, what’s the word? – genteel to be a star reporter on a “great metropolitan newspaper.” Too much like the Lois Lane of the comics.

But Phyllis Coates! Now she was a tough broad. You could imagine her Lois working her way up the glass ladder – and even breaking though that glass ceiling – in a time when “ladies” stayed home and emulated Betty Crocker. Coates’ Lois could not only replace Perry White as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, but she would keep a bottle of Scotch in her bottom drawer just as Lou Grant did on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Phyllis Coates’s Lois was the chick that Sinatra sang about in The Lady Is A Tramp. Phyllis Coates’s Lois was Katherine Graham of the Washington Post.

I believe that Coates’ portrayal of Lois was based on how she first appeared in Action Comics #1. That Lois was snarky, resourceful, sarcastic, brave, contemptuous of Clark Kent, and didn’t moon over Superman; it is said that Siegel and Shuster based her personality and character on Rosalind Russell in His Gal Friday. She smelled a story and went after it. Yeah, Superman saved her – but she was thankful, not all googly-eyed and mushy because of it. (This was the Lois who also appeared in the Fleisher animated shorts, which can easily be found on the web.)

Bottom line, Lois is the most underappreciated, and in my humble opinion, most badly written character in comics. Currently she is a producer on a television news-entertainment show; sorry, no way, José. Lois is Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, or Christine Amanpour on CNN. Lois is Candy Crowley at the Presidential debate, fact-checking Romney’s statements about Obama. Lois is Helen Thomas in her prime, with her own seat in the front row at Presidential news conferences. Lois is Diane Sawyer, or Andrea Mitchell, or Soledad O’Brian.

Damn, if I could get my hands on her…

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten Talks Arrow, Talks Halloween



Mindy Newell: Trust Me, This Is About Comics. Really.

There’s a lot of hogwash being said by Republicans these days concerning women. Legitimate rape. (What the hell is that?) A woman has the ability to shut down her ovaries if she doesn’t want to get pregnant. (Gee, I wish I had known that.) Contraception should not be covered by health insurance. (But Viagra and other anti-erectile dysfunction drugs are.) A mother’s life is no longer at risk when pregnant, so an abortion to save her life is not necessary. (Placental abruption, preeclampsia, eclampsia, peripartum cardiomyopathy and other cardiac problems, thromboembolytic disease, diabetes, seizures, bleeding disorder, genetic disorders.) A woman has no right to equal pay for equal work. (She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Invisible Woman, have you checked your paychecks lately?) Women in binders. (Nobody puts Baby in a binder.)

I personally cannot understand any woman voting the Republican ticket right now. Which got me to wondering…

What side of the aisle do some of the women of comics sit on?

Lois Lane: Journalistic integrity is her middle name. I imagine Lois being a frequent guest on MSNBC, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, as well as having guest-hosted SNL more than once. She’s also friends with Joan Walsh of Salon.com, Maureen Down and Gail Collins of the New York Times, Candy Crowley and Christine Amanpour of CNN, not to mention Andrea Mitchell, Katie Couric, and Rachel Maddow. Voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008, proud of Hillary’s work as Secretary of State, and a strong supporter of Barak Obama. Decision: Registered Democrat.

Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel): Hmm, this is a tough one. Given her Air Force brat upbringing and her own service in the United States Air Force, the natural inclination is that Carol is a staunch Republican, as the Republicans have long been believed to be the stronger party on defense. However, Carol’s heroes are Amelia Earheart, Jacqueline Cochrane, Geraldlyn Cobb, Sally Ride and now Colonel Jeannie Flynn Leavitt, the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, and I can’t see her being behind the Republicans these days because of their stance on women and women’s rights when it comes to equal pay for equal work. And I’m positive she doesn’t want anyone sticking an ultrasound probe up her vagina if it’s not medically necessary. Still, I’m sure she’s voted Republican in the past. But I think she also admires Obama’s tough stance on terrorism and his ability to quietly and efficiently green-light the hunt for Bin Laden, which resulted in his (good riddance!) death; and although I think she’s confused about what happened in Libya (just like the rest of us), she knows that fuck-ups happen. Decision: Independent.

Susan Storm Richards (Invisible Woman): I’m sure Susan, along with her husband, is heavily invested in technology in the market, and I’m betting the Richards (not to mention the entire Fantastic Four team) lost mucho dineros in 2008 when the market crashed. Still, I bet her hubby sits on the boards of some of the major defense contractor industries, such as General Electric, JPL, and Boeing. Still, while her husband may be strongly pro-Wall Street and a staunch Republican, I’m thinking they have a marriage like James Carville and Mary Matalin, only in reverse, with Susan, with her strong feelings about women’s rights, especially equal pay for equal work and pro-choice advocacy, working behind the scenes for Obama, throwing fundraisers and donating money. Decision: Democrat.

Wonder Woman: This one is easy for me, since I believe Wonder Woman is firmly against abortion. Not that she can vote, since she’s only got a green card (I presume.) Decision: Republican.

Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk): Jennifer is a lawyer. She’s probably met Elena Kagan and Sandra Day O’Conner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she knows Gloria Allred, Judge Judy, and Nancy Grace. I’m thinking she believes in the idea of the Constitution as a living document, able to mature and grow, so she’s s definitely not a fan of Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, or Robert Bork. Chief Justice Roberts’s decision on the Affordable Health Care Act as constitutional probably surprised her as well as everybody else, knowing his legal record. I’m thinking that she believes Roe vs. Wade is now the de facto law of the land, so she would never work for a client who wants to overturn it, though I’m not sure if she’s pro-choice. I think she hates the way the Tea Party, which has been absorbed into the Republican Party, quotes the intents of the Founding Fathers as if they were there. She thinks Sarah Palin is a joke and feels sorry for John McCain, who ruined his long and honorable career by picking her as a running mate. (She would have voted for him otherwise.) Has voted Republican in the past, but leans Democrat these days. Decision: Registered Independent.

In closing, there’s terrific video over at Jezebel.com that I recommend every woman reading this to watch – and pull up a chair for the man (or men) in your life. It’ll make you laugh…

And think.

Oh, and for the record, I’m a registered Democrat.

As if you couldn’t guess.

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten Watches Green Arrow

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis… We hope.


Why Does Michael Davis Still Read Comics?

I started reading comics in the fifth grade. I still have the very first comic book I ever brought: The Avengers #43. I won’t bore you with the heartwarming story of how I pretty much learned to read with comics. I’ve told that story a billion times and I’m sure (although I can’t remember) I’ve written about it on ComicMix so just assume I clued you in, dry your eyes and say a silent “thank you for the heartwarming story Michael Davis shared with me” and move on.

Oh, if you find the article I’m pretty sure the issue number of the Avengers is wrong. When I looked at the issue I was surprised it was issue 43. All this time I was thinking it was later…

I was a serious comic book collector in grade school and by the time I got into high school I had over 100,000 comic books, including the complete silver age of Marvel and almost a complete silver age DC Comics collection. DC was (and is) my favorite universe but I couldn’t bring myself to go all out for copies of Bob Hope, Lois Lane and some of the other DC comics, which in my 10-year-old wisdom I considered kid stuf’.

I was a lucky so and so when it came to my comic book collection. Not once, not twice but three times I was the lucky benefactor of someone else’s collection. Three times when I was a kid someone in my life gave me his or her comic book collection. I got one collection from a cousin who had grown out of it. I got another from an 8th grade friend named Karl McKenzie. Karl was moving and his father refused to take those ghetto trash books to his new home.

It occurred to me later that Karl’s dad was moving from the hood to a nicer (white people lived on the block) place and no son of his was going to be reading that ghetto trash among white people who read Look and Life magazines.

The funny thing about that was I saw Karl about a year later and he told me one of his new friends on the block was a huge comic book fan as was the kid’s dad. Karl told me that his dad now thought that comics were cool.

Clearly this was an attempt on Karl’s part to get me to return his collection.

Nope. The chances of that happening was, lets see… zero.

I think the word back then was “Indian giver.” I may or may not have called Karl that; I don’t remember. I do remember regardless how I thought Karl was going about it, he was not getting back book one. If his grandmother was dying and the only thing that would have saved her was a couple of books from the collection it surely would have been bye, bye, Grandma.

The third comic book collection I inherited was from a then girlfriend’s mom whose husband collected comics but one day the mom decided she didn’t want them in the house anymore. Guess who volunteered to lift that heavy burden from her shoulders?

My comic book collection was so badass that a local newspaper ran a story on me when I was about 14.

I loved comics and collected like an addict up until my first year at Pratt Institute.

My first year at Pratt pretty much killed my desire to read comics.  I had attended the High School of Art & Design (A&D) before Pratt and when asked what I wanted to major in I had to choose between comics and illustration. My cousin, William T. Williams, had a long talk with me about my major would be at A&D. He said to me at the end of our talk the following; “If you choose comics as a major you will stave and die.”

My cousin was my mentor and the only real father figure I’ve ever had in my life so I listened to him. I kid him about the success of Milestone and all the other comic related things I’ve done but I’ve never ever regretted that decision to major in illustration and not comics.

FYI, my cousin is not just a relative who gave me good advice, he’s also one of the premier artists on this planet and one of his paintings cost more than my house and I have a nice house… in a white neighborhood!!

That is not a joke.

So with little fanfare I left my comic collection and my desire to become a comic book artist behind. I still collected a bit in high school but by the time I got to Pratt, I was completely comic book free.

For four years of undergraduate at Pratt and two years of graduate work at another school I didn’t pick up nor was I interested in comic books. That’s six years without giving a thought to what was going on in comics and even less thought about what was going on in the industry.

Then one day like a sign from above I was back…

End of part one!

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Attacks Mars Attacks! Still!