Tagged: Mark Millar

REVIEW: Wolverine: Weapon X – Tomorrow Dies Today

MKWolvXCover300dpiThere have been so many titles featuring Wolverine and so many stories told about him that writers find themselves forced time and again to dip into parallel realities or alternate futures to find fresh sources of conflict. There was the well-received Old Man Logan by Mark Millar a little while back and before that, there was Jason Aaron’s Wolverine:” Weapon X storyline “Tomorrow Dies Today”. The latter has been adapted as part of the Marvel Knights line of motion comics, released on DVD this week from Shout! Factory.

Marvel_Knights_Animation_Wolverine_Weapon_X_Tomorrow_Dies_Today_still_7The story is adapted from Wolverine: Weapon X #11-15 and predominantly features Captain America with cameos from a variety of X-Men. The primary antagonist is Deathlok, who has been around since 1974 and is only now become well-known thanks to his appearances on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With Wolverine in X-Men Days of Future Past next week and Agents having its season finale tomorrow, the release is incredibly well-timed.
A major fault in this particular adaptation is that it makes tons of references to previous events in the Marvel Universe comic book continuity without explanation to the non-comic fan. We open with Logan and Steve Rogers going out drinking to celebrate Cap’s return from the dead in the wake of the Civil War storyline. Cap talks about Logan’s role with the Avengers and so on but mass audiences expected to watch this have no clue what is being discussed. More context from the screenwriters would have been nice.
Marvel_Knights_Animation_Wolverine_Weapon_X_Tomorrow_Dies_Today_still_13While they’re out drinking, a host of Deathloks has been sent back in time to eliminate targeted people who will either give birth to or grow up to become super-villains that will ruin life as we know it. Roxxon, the ever-present evil corporation whenever Oscorp isn’t available, has been responsible for this and one by one, Marvel’s mightiest heroes have fallen except Wolverine, who still wants to fight despite the loss of his hands. Linking the two eras is Miranda Bayer who has been receiving psychic warnings from her future self.
There’s a lot of fighting and things blow up. We see various heroes come to Wolverine’s aid and all sorts of Deathloks appear indestructible. And of course, the story reaches its climax, another potential future threat is resolved and life goes on as usual.  A key problem with these stories is that we have seen so many alternate futures for the mutants, starting with Days and continuing for the last 30 years is that they have lost their sense of urgency. Solve this future and some other dark, deadly future will be presented whenever the writers get stuck for an idea.

Marvel_Knights_Animation_Wolverine_Weapon_X_Tomorrow_Dies_Today_still_11Aaron does a fine job in the comics making this work and his pacing is fine. On the other hand, the 64-minute motion adaptation leaves out sub-text, characterization, and just feels written by the numbers. The story arc was illustrated by Ron Garney and was transformed into a motion story by Canada’s Atomic Cartoons. Maybe they were rushed or the budget was cut but the work here is choppier and more static than earlier offerings. Additionally, the same action is shown for several seconds as characters talk to one another, the worst sin even 2-D animation can commit.

The vocal cast is also limited meaning people have to perform multiple roles and it shows, further weakening the storytelling.

The story is accompanied by a bonus feature, 14 minutes of Ron Garney talking about his work on the storyline and seeing it adapted and opening his eyes to the possibilities of motion comics. Interestingly, he admits to talking 5-6 weeks to draw a story which finally explains his inability to remain on a monthly for long. His extolling the virtues of a motion comic also sounds like a testimonial and doesn’t sound entirely convincing.

Jen Krueger: Finite Possibilities

Krueger Art 131231With the bustle of the holiday season and the craziness that inevitably accompanies the end of the year, it wasn’t until this week that I was able to get to the final installment of Locke & Key. Joe Hill has been penning this amazing comic since 2008, but I didn’t start reading until 2012, so by the time I came to it there were only seven issues left to be published. For a lot of people, this would be disheartening. For me, it was thrilling.

Comics can be daunting. Spider-Man has been around since 1962, Batman made his debut in 1939, and Superman had them both beat by first hitting the scene in 1933. For a completionist like me, picking up one of these comic book staples would mean starting at the very beginning, and that seems downright impossible. Superman had 716 issues before a relaunch in 2011 brought another #1 around, and this doesn’t even take into account other titles in which Superman appears. Assure me all you want that there are acceptable jumping in points for long-running comics that don’t require me starting from day one, but I’ll never be able to shake the sneaking suspicion I’d understand them better, and therefore like them more, if I did indeed start at issue #1 and work my way forward.

Superman: Red Son, on the other hand? Love it. Mark Millar’s three-issue mini-series exploring what Superman’s life would have been like if he’d landed in the Soviet Union is well written, unique, and managed to get me to crack its cover despite the fact that its titular hero has decades of history behind him because in this particular volume, he actually doesn’t. By standing completely on its own, Superman: Red Son was accessible to me in a way no other Superman comic ever has been. And yes, I realize there are other stand-alone volumes out there, but even with something self-contained like Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, I find myself held at arm’s length because there’s still an assumption that I know more about Superman when I start than I actually do.

Yet the years of backstory aren’t the only reason long-running comics feel impenetrable to me. The fact that they’re continuing their adventures into the future with no end in sight is equally discouraging, if not more so. How formidable can a villain be when I know there’s always another waiting in the wings? How high can tension run toward a climax when it’s understood there’s always another around the bend? And most importantly, how can a hero truly best his inner demons when his story is expected to carry on indefinitely?

Locke & Key is the best comic I have ever read. A large part of what makes it so amazing is not the fact that there’s a whole world in its pages, but that its pages contain its whole world. Whether or not Hill had the entire saga in mind when he wrote the first series, Welcome to Lovecraft, by the last frame of Alpha there is no stone left unturned. I came in knowing nothing of the story or characters, and that was perfect because I didn’t need to know anything of them.

The sole thing I knew from the outset was that I’d only have 39 issues to spend with the Locke family, and because of this, I appreciated each moment with them more than I could have without their end in sight. The characters travel an arc that is more moving in its fixed breadth than it could ever be were that arc just part of a larger ebb and flow. Their story is exactly complete, and so too is my enjoyment of it.





Michael Davis: The Fire Next Time


davis-artwork-131022-87x225-3044434“I think it would be tricky to have one member of the Storm family black and one white. Is he adopted? I don’t know how you would play that.”

– Mark Millar


“ This speech is my recital, I think it’s very vitalTo rock (a rhyme), that’s right (on time)

It’s Tricky is the title, here we go…”



“Tyrone Cash should be named Super Nigga.”

– Michael Davis

Mark Millar is talking about the possibility the next Fantastic Four will feature a African American in the role of the Human Touch. RUN-DMC is what I think is a pretty clever answer to Mr. Millar’s assumption, namely that it would be tricky but – I think it would be right on time.

Damn – I is clever.

My quote? That’s just another dig at what I think is one of the most stereotypical backwards thinking black characters ever created in comics and it plays into (really) what I’m about to write here.

People are losing their minds over long running rumor that Michael B. Jordan is in the running to play the Human Torch in the Josh Trank Fantastic Four reboot.

I’d like to think that most of the comic book fans are losing their minds because it’s just not true to the source materials. I’m sure if Lee and Kirby sat down and created the Jackson 5 instead of the Fantastic Four there would be some people a wee bit upset if Justin Timberlake played Michael in the movie.

Hell, Timberlake tried to be Michael in real life…err, no.

Like I said. I’d like to think most of the fan outrage is because a Black Torch is not true to the comic.

The sad reality is we all know some of this is racist. There are plenty of racist dicks out there that have or will lose their racist minds at the thought of the Human Torch being played by a black person. But those racists are barking up the wrong tree.

It’s not the Human Torch that they should be afraid of being black. It’s Johnny Storm.

The Human Torch is like any other superhero. When they are in superhero mode it’s about two things: find the bad guy, and beat the bad guy.


It’s the alter ego that defines the character and the Torch’s alter ego is none other than Marvel comic’s original pussy chaser himself, Johnny Storm.

Johnny Storm is all about that ass.

Johnny Storm is like any other male star when they have that kind celebrity. It’s also about two things, find that ass and tap that ass.


It’s not “flame on” the racists should be afraid of, it’s ”where the white women at.”

I assume that most black people are OK with the possibility of a Black Human Torch. I wouldn’t know for sure because contrary to what a lot of white people think we all don’t know each other and on that note the next mofo that rolls up to me and asks if I know Ray Ray is going to get pimp sla…wait sec…I do know Ray Ray.


Some people are getting slick with the way they protest that possibility of Johnny Storm being portrayed by a black guy. And a “possibility” is all it is now, as my boy David Walker says, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Someone posed this question on Facebook, what if a white guy played The Black Panther or Luke Cage?

Good point?


Not really.

Experiencing being black (Cage in America, Panther as an African king) to a large degree defines who those characters are.  How they relate to the world and how the world relates to them is at least partially driven by their color, fair or not.

The dynamic totally changes if they aren’t black, while the Torch, like Perry White in Man of Steel or Kingpin in Daredevil isn’t impacted by the race of the actor, because the race of those characters doesn’t really play a part in defining the character.

That said, when Will Smith was cast as James West in Wild Wild West, I was against that because I had trouble buying a black man as a top level secret agent in the 1860s, because once again, race impacts that character and there was no way at that point in time that the US government was ready to see a black man rolling like that, no matter how charming Will Smith might be. Bottom line, I just want to see a good comic book movie that respects spirit of the source material and the intelligence of the audience.

– Mike Stradford

I could not have said it better myself.

Mike, unlike me, is cool as ice when he breaks down someone’s argument. Just once I wish my boy would add a little Davis to his damn near perfect logic.

Like this at the end of his response he writes the following:

B L A M!

That’s the sound of me dropping the mike son!


Now back to Mr. Millar’s quote:

“I think it would be tricky to have one member of the Storm family black and one white. Is he adopted? I don’t know how you would play that.”

There’s a couple of ways to play that Mark, ol’ buddy. One way is that instead of white people adopting a black child thus saving him from becoming a drug dealer like, oh, I don’t know, Tyrone Cash.

You remember Tyrone Cash? You should you, created him. He was the black scientist that gains the power of the Hulk, retains his intellect and decides to become a drug dealer.

Oh yeah, that Tyrone Cash – who I’m sure knows Ray Ray, BTW.

Anywho, instead of him being adopted, get this!!! Ready? Both Johnny and Sue are black!

Didn’t think of that, eh?

Hell, let’s go with that one. Both he and Sue are Black and their father is…wait for it…wait for it…




Victor Von Doom!

He’s no longer Dr. Doom, he’s a MD. But that stands for Mac Daddy Doom and he’s a… drug dealer!

That’s all I have, not great but it’s all I could come up with, I ran out of crack so my brain stopped working. Luckily I know Ray Ray and he knows Tyrone Cash so I’m good to go.




Martha Thomases Loves Mark Millar

Thomases Art 130816Kick-Ass 2 opened and I’m very psyched. Loved the comics. Loved the first movie. Even liked the Wanted movie, although it isn’t as sharp and funny as the book.

You see, I’m a big fan of Mark Millar. I’ve followed him ever since he wrote Swamp Thing with Grant Morrison, and, as DC’s Publicity Manager, I had to explain to people who he was. And while I haven’t read absolutely everything he’s written, nor have I loved absolutely everything I’ve read, he always engages me with his characters, entertains me and, in places, makes me laugh.

So it surprised me when I read this.

To be sure, I’m not surprised that there is a backlash against someone who is commercially successful in a popular art form. There are always those people, desperate to be cool, who affect disdain for anything popular. There is a subset of this group, who claim to have liked the person/band/actor/director’s work before, when they were unknown. I, myself, am capable of rambling on pretentiously about the first time I saw Talking Heads, when they were a trio.

That’s not what I’m talking about here. Instead, a (reasonably) well-respected magazine, The New Republic, did an overview of Mark’s work and didn’t like what they saw. They spoke with some people who defended Millar, and with some who criticized him. Mostly, the article focused on sex, violence and rape.

Of which there is a lot in Millar’s work. To quote from the article:

“Laura Hudson, the former editor-in-chief of the popular blog Comics Alliance and a senior editor at Wired, thought that scene was deplorable, but typical of Millar. ‘There’s one and only one reason that happens, and it’s to piss off the male character,” she said. “It’s using a trauma you don’t understand in a way whose implications you can’t understand, and then talking about it as though you’re doing the same thing as having someone’s head explode. You’re not. Those two things are not equivalent, and if you don’t understand, you shouldn’t be writing rape scenes.’”

Laura Hudson is someone I admire and respect. When I say I disagree with her, it is not my intention to dismiss her point of view (and I’m aware it can sound like that in print, when you can’t hear my tone of voice or see my evocative hand gestures). Having said that, I suspect we’re having a similar problem when we read the stories. I don’t pick up a tone in the work that celebrates actual violence or rape. I see those actions being used to define characters. Unlike Laura, I don’t think women in the stories are raped solely to motivate men. I think rape is used to show how awful the person is who commits it.

Is this a comic book problem? John Irving writes books that are full of raped characters and the men who love them. Most contemporary critics consider him to be a feminist, or at least an ally to feminists.

(And this will probably be the only time anyone ever discusses Mark Millar and John Irving in the same article.)

Writing about something – even illustrating something – is not the same as endorsing it. I’ve been involved in the non-violent movement for social justice for more than 45 years, yet I enjoyed these comics a lot. I’m tickled by the cartoon violence, in no small part because I know that no actual humans are involved. This may be because of the tone I infer from the stories, or because, as Scott McCloud describes, we each supply our own interpretation of what happens between the panels.

We bring our lives to comics in a way that’s different from other popular art forms. Maybe this is why we can differ so profoundly in our reactions to what we read. In my version, Mark Millar is sort of kind of related to Chuck Jones by way of Francis Ford Coppola.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Michael Davis: The Rise Of The Super Nigga

Davis 130813This year, the San Diego Comic Con celebrated 20 years of my company. Milestone Media. There was standing room only for the 20th Anniversary panel, the Milestone party was off the chain and to top off one of the best times of my life, Derek Dingle, Denys Cowan and I received Inkpot awards!

The biggest and the best pop culture event in the world thought enough of our work to honor us during the convention. That work focuses largely on Milestone’s mission to include more people of color in the media arts.

We’ve been very successful doing so in comics and television and there is more to come.

So, I’m feeling pretty damn good when I get back to my humble abode.

So good in fact I had a brainstorm, and I’m going to share that brainstorm here at ComicMix.

The Rise Of The Super Nigga

Based on a true story until the end.

Michael at 10 years old wanted to be an artist.

A cartoonist, to be exact. That was the good news; the bad news was Michael lived in what is now as was then one of the worst housing projects in New York City.

The years were tough but Michael somehow survived. Two members of his immediate family were murdered, as were two cousins. Michael survived being stabbed twice and having a gun placed to his forehead. The assailant pulled the trigger, the gun jammed.

Michael attended prestigious universities and became a professional artist. Then he co-founded a company that changed the way comic books are published. Then he became President & CEO of three entertainment companies, TV creator, mentor, writer, power broker, deal maker, all around very successful.

How successful? The Gordon Parks Academy named its auditorium after him.

That successful.

One day Michael was thinking: “I’m a very formidable person with far reaching influence. What should I do now that I have all this power?”

All day Michael pondered that thought. Finally he drifted off to sleep…


Michael awoke with a start. What was that that? Silently he headed to the source of the disturbance. There on his floor was not just the cause of the commotion but the answer this intelligent, successful, influential black man had sort.


Somehow a bag of crack was tossed trough his window. Michael picked up the bag held it up and pronounced as loud as he could. “I will become a drug dealer!!”

“I am no longer Michael Davis PhD!” I am now Super Nigga!!!

Yeah, I know, that’s just stupid. Surviving the hood becoming a success then deciding out of the blue to become a drug dealer.

Besides a character named Super Nigga would never see print…unless you changed the name to Tyrone Cash and a hotshot writer named Mark Millar creates it.

Thenit’s all-good.

Tyrone Cash was a brilliant black scientist who gets the power of the Hulk yet retains his intellect. I’ll say that again – retains – his intellect. So what does this brilliant black man do with his new power?

He becomes a drug dealer.

A brilliant black scientist gets the power of the Hulk yet retains his intellect and then decides to become a goddamn drug dealer???

In my opinion that would be the textbook definition of a Super Nigga.

“Oh, no Michael! You don’t want to call out Mark Millar! He’s got to much clout!” That was the response from a concerned fan when I mentioned I was thinking of writing this article.

What the fuck can Mark Millar do to me? The streets are littered with the crushed dreams of motherfuckers who tried to fuck with me. You know why that is? Because I don’t give a fuck what bridge I burn, what’s right is right.

Here’s the kicker, I love this guys work. He’s written some of my favorite comics and Kick Ass is just brilliant, so that makes this even worst. When a talented guy with a HUGE fan base creates some shit like Tyrone Cash it has to be addressed or it becomes OK to do so.

All in all this makes me sad. Sad because Millar’s star is so bright, and rightfully so, sad because if just one black kid thinks Tyrone Cash is cool that that helps no one and if just one white kid thinks Tyrone Cash is accurate that hurts many.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Gets Real Small

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil and The Seven Basic Plots


Martha Thomases: Man of Steel, Man of Skulls

Thomases Art 130628Forgive me, but I have to write about Man of Steel some more. Or, more specifically, the current marketing of Superman.

Last week, I wrote about how disappointed I was in the apparent shame felt by comics fans and Warner Bros. about Superman’s optimism.

But it’s not just that this kind of grim’n’gritty Superman is disturbing. There is also the character’s complete disregard for the welfare of the people of Earth. As a New Yorker who lives within a mile of the World Trade Center, I tend to get upset by such images of destruction. I don’t expect filmmakers to contort themselves to my memories. In fact, I can appreciate the opportunity for catharsis.

However, I would like to see some acknowledgement that there were humans living in a city that is ravaged by superhuman destruction, and these humans were affected by the smashing skyscrapers. Joss Whedon managed to do this very well in The Avengers. I am disappointed that we don’t see at least as much in Man of Steel.

New this week is DC choosing to emphasize the worst aspects of the Man of Steel Superman with this San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, a sculpture of Kal-El standing on top of a pile of skulls.

This image exists in the movie, in a nightmare. That’s the most I can say for it.

If you don’t like hopeful characters, then Superman is not for you. Don’t try to mutate Superman into something he is not, just to fit the fashion.

I’m not the only person who thought so, as you can see here and here. Even movie stars are questioning certain entertainment choices (although, for the record, I really enjoy Kick-Ass in all its iterations, and most of what Mark Millar does. YMMV).

Believe me, I understand. There is a time in the lives of most of us, usually when we are around 12 or so, when we understand that there is more to life than toys and candy, that death and destruction exist, and we strive to be mature adults who embrace reality. For me, this state lasted through college. Then, when I lived on my own and began to experience my personal share of tragedy, I grasped the value of balancing realism with optimism. I loved Jonathan Richman not only for his talent and charm, but for his fierce defense of joy.

So, if I needed to have a ceramic expression of my own aesthetic, I’d buy this instead of a Superman on skulls. There has been enough death in my life . It needs more joy.

Joy is worth fighting for. That’s why I love Superman.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Michael Davis: Marvel’s Black Avengers

Davis Art 130611From the moment the Black Avengers was announced I’ve been asked over and over again what I think.

I think a few things…

I think anytime there is a serious attempt to bring not just African American but any minority characters to the forefront is a good thing. I pitched a project a year ago and was told a black super team would never sell in Hollywood, so what’s the point in even doing the comic book?

I think I’d better not tell you what I wrote and then discarded about the person who said that. Give that a thought – me thinking I’d better not say something.

I think (well, I know) I really like Axel Alonzo and what he’s doing with Marvel. Let’s face it, a young black child who see a Marvel logo on a black superhero book is going to lose his or her little mind.

After the Black Avengers, can the Malcolm X-Men be far behind?

I think it almost makes up for Mark Millar’s black character, Tyrone Cash. A black scientist who, when he gains superpowers decides to give up the whole scientist thing and become a drug-dealing thug.

Yeah, I was pretty rough on Mark last week and again this week but that’s nothing compared to what I have in store at my annual standing room only Black Panel at the San Diego Comic Con.

I think what’s sure to be a hot topic on the web especially among black creators is rather or not just black creators should be the teams on the project.

No. I don’t think just black creators should do the Black Avengers.

However, if Mark Millar writes a story arc and Tyrone Cash shows up that would be the quickest way to destroy what looks like a noble undertaking on Marvel’s part. The smart play would be to have Mark write a story arc and deal with that horrible black scientist who gains superpowers and becomes a thug drug dealer.

No, I’m not kidding.

Yes, there are black thug drug dealers in the world (there is one due at my house in an hour… heh) but a scientist who gain superpowers and becomes a fucking drug dealing thug?

That kind of characterization would kill all the good Marvel’s doing with this project.

Lastly, Marvel said they wanted to do something like Dwayne McDuffie would do. Would do? Dwayne, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and myself did do it. In fact, the San Diego Comic Con is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of us doing it.

Yo, Marvel, you better recognize.

Wednesday: Mike Gold

Thursday: Dennis O’Neil


Michael Davis: Don McGregor And Why Black People Love Him

Davis Art 130604I like Nick Barrucci.

Always have.

Right now Nick is dealing with an issue that involves my dear friend Don McGregor. I can think of a lot worse people to deal with than Nick who has always been cool with me. I have high hopes that Nick and Don get on the same page and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

However, I will say a bit more about Don. As readers of ComicMix have no doubt noticed I have some recurring themes in my articles among them African Americans in the industry, the High School Of Art and Design and Asian Women.

Even I know that sometimes returning too often to a theme can get a little tiresome. Except for the many Asian women mentions, I realize that the constant mentioning of my high school (the greatest high school on the planet) and black people (the darkest people on the planet) can just get tedious. Yes, mentioning Asian women can certainly get monotonous also, especially to black women, but I really could care less.

Black Women! That Was A Joke! I Love my sisters…long time.

There is a recurring theme I wish I revisited often and I don’t think my readers would object too and that’s my love letters to creators I’ve had the pleasure to meet and often become friends with. Every so often I meet and befriend a creator and it’s always cool.


Not as often I meet and befriend a creator who I idolized beforehand and that creator becomes like family to me, Don McGregor is one of those creators. I do so love me some Don McGregor and yes I’m going to write about black people but in a first for me I’m combining two recurring themes: black people in the industry and a love letter to a creator!

Don McGregor is just a great and I mean great guy. He also just happens to be one of the best writers to ever write for comic books.


When I met him I stammered like a little bitch I was so in awe of this man. THIS from a man who hangs out with academy award and Grammy winners and whose annual San Diego Comic Con party has a guest list that reads like a Barbara Walters after Oscar special. I’m not saying any of this to impress you I’m saying it to underscore how freaking jazzed I was to meet Don McGregor.

One of the reasons I started the Black Panel, a forum to discuss African Americans in the entertainment business, and why I return to the black theme so often in my articles is because the African American experience is a complicated one.

I’m just trying to give some insight into that experience from a black perspective. I’ll let you in on a little secret; black creators seldom think white boys write good black characters. Don’t get me wrong-some of the greatest black comic book characters were created by white boys.

The Black Panther, the Black Racer, Storm…err…. the Black Panther, the Black Racer…Storm.

Look, I’m sure there are others in fact I know there are others but the misses have been so massive that all my brain can come up with are the three I’ve listed. How massively awful are some of the misses?

This massively awful, Marvel some time ago introduced a new Bucky. He was a black man who stood six foot three inches.

Give that a sec; a 6’3” black man named Bucky.

Yes, that was long years ago, but in 2010 Mark Millar created a black superhero, Tyrone Cash, a.k.a. Leonard Williams. His story? Well, he was a scientist, I’ll say that again, he was a scientist named Leonard Williams THEN he subjected himself to one of his super soldier serums and gained the power of the Hulk.

What’s the problem, you ask?

He gained Hulk like powers yet he retained his intellect.

What’s the problem with that you ask?

Well after he got his Hulk like powers this scientist decides to become a fucking thug and start dealing drugs. So let’s recap: he retains his scientist intellect and becomes a thug drug dealer.

Look, I think Mark Millar is a good writer but a character gaining Hulk like powers while maintaining a scientist intellect becomes a thug and a drug dealer? How the fuck is that not some thoughtless stereotyping?

What’s next, Mark? A black member of Mensa gets the powers of Superman and becomes a pimp? BTW, I hear you’re English and I’d like your take on a graphic novel I’m writing. It’s about how Princess Diana gets the power of Wonder Woman and becomes a two-dollar whore.


I’ve got a lot more examples of screwed up black characters created by some white writers but that’s an entire book in and of itself so I’ll just let the two examples I used stand. Not that I give a shit what people think but let me say this, there are some incredible white writers who write great black characters and on the flip side of that there are some great black writers who write horrible white characters. Oh and Mark before I forget, when I received my PhD the first thing I thought about was robbing a liquor store. Nah, I’m just kidding, but as soon as I get Hulk like powers…

But as usual (sorry, Peter) I digress. Don McGregor body of work and original creations are simply awe-inspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad Don McGregor story. I know I’ve never encountered a bad Don McGregor original superhero. One of the reasons I was such a little pussy when I met Don is he writes the best black characters. Hell, I wish I could write black characters as well as Don does.

Sabre is one of Don’s creations is one of the best comics I’ve ever read. Sabre is a black character, in case you were born yesterday. Why didn’t I mention it above with the other great black characters created by white writers?

Because Sabre is in a class of its own.

Just like Don McGregor.




Mindy Newell: Star Child

Newell Art 130603I’m writing this while listening to John Williams’ magnificent score for Superman – the one and only Superman, starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder.


Well, this morning (Sunday, June 2, 2013) I was doing my usual routine, sipping tea at the breakfast table, working on the New York Times Sunday crossword and listening to NPR. (Yeah, I’m a media multi-tasker.) NPR’s Studio 360 series “American Icons” was about to start. It turned to be a rebroadcast of a program that originally aired on July 6, 2007.

And today’s icon was…


I didn’t remember hearing the original broadcast, and I’m guessing the station chose to rerun it because Man Of Steel is about to be released. At any rate, being a comic geek, I was delighted. Commentators included Margot Kidder, Jack Lawson, Bryan Singer, Michael Chabon, Jules Feifer, and Art Spiegelman. It touched on many areas – of course Siegel and Schuster and the shitty way they were treated by DC (NPR never reins in its guests, which is why I love it!), the relation of Superman to Jewish mythology and the immigrant experience, the history of Superman in the media, from the comics to radio to the dynamic Fleisher Studios animated movie shorts to television to the big screen – although there was no conversation about Man Of Steel, since it was a rebroadcast from just before Superman Returns was released.

Even though it is an old program, the content was still relevant – proving their point that Superman is an American icon. And the producers did their homework. A section that I especially liked was the discussion of Superman: Red Sun (by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, and Killian Plunkett. The prestige format mini-series, which hit the bookshelves in 2003 and was later collected and released as a graphic novel, was published under DC’s Elseworlds imprint, and explored this particular “what if?” scenario: What if Kal-El’s rocket from Krypton had landed in the Ukrainian farmlands during the Cold War? What if Superman wasn’t raised to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, but – as Millar wrote – “the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact?”

This led to a really cool conversation on totalitarianism, fascism, World War II and the Nazis, and the use of Superman during that time as a propaganda tool by the American government to promote American ideals and values. As fellow columnist Robert Greenberger wrote here at ComicMix on December 7, 2009 , “a special edition of Superman…was produced for the U.S. Army. The Army had a problem at the time – they were drafting thousands of men a year, but many of them had no education to speak of, with large swaths of them functionally illiterate, and they were expected to operate complex machinery pretty quickly. They had to learn how to read, and fast. The troops also needed cheap and portable entertainment, something that could be carried through the battlefields of Europe and Asia. So with the cooperation of National Periodical Publications, the forerunner to DC Comics, this edition was produced by the War Department with simplified dialogue and word balloons. Hundreds of thousands of copies were distributed to GIs, and it helped them learn to read and to pass the time. And of course, copies of the comics were handed out to kids in faraway lands, as gestures of goodwill.”

The guests also discussed Superman and his role as the ultimate superhero, someone who has the power to do either enormous good or enormous evil. Either way, isn’t his decision to act at all, to interfere in the lives of the mortals beneath him, that of Nietzsche’s “übermench,” who will decide the fate of society?

IM-always-Not-So-Ho, Studio 360 did a great job dissecting what it is about the Kryptonian that makes him an American icon, and I totally recommend going to the NPR website and either streaming it or downloading it for podcast for your listening pleasure.


Williams’ score is still playing.

What really strikes me as I sit here, scenes from the movie replaying in my head – the oh-so-cool opening with the kid reading a comic and the camera zooming in on the Daily Planet as it transitions from comic page to “reality,” Superman rescuing the cat from the tree, of course Superman’s first rescue of Lois (“You’ve got me? Who’s got you?!”), the finale with Superman flying in orbit around the Earth and Christopher Reeve looking at us and smiling as he zooms off camera – is the impressive way that Williams leads the music from a grand, baroque science-fiction scenario (Krypton) to the down-to-earth gentleness of the Kent’s farm to the majestic sweep of the Kansas prairies as Clark follows his destiny to the romantic, impossible reality of Superman in Metropolis.

This is the Superman I love.

This is Superman. An American icon.




Mindy Newell: Ruminations, Ramblings and Rumblings

So what’s in Mindy’s head today?

I haven’t been to a convention in a long, long time, but reading about some of the ComicMix crew’s sojourn to Baltimore (here and here) lit up my temporal lobe – that’s the part of the brain responsible for memory, for you non-biology majors out there. James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Captain, the engines canna take it” Scott of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701) in the “green room” at ICON spilling his coffee all over my new outfit and his gentlemanly response as he went to wipe my chest and then blushed, stopping himself just in time. London in 1986 – walking through London with Archie Goodwin, Mark Gruenwald, Louise and Walter Simonson. Meeting Neil Gaiman and John Wagner. Forgetting that I met John Higgins and then marrying him 17 years later. The British Museum. The Tower of London. Breakfast with Mike Grell and Tom DeFalco. Toronto: sitting on a panel with Chris Claremont. Chicago: Meeting Kim Yale and John Ostrander and Joyce Brabner and Harvey Pekar. Michael Davis in the audience lending support and trying to fluster me (“Number Nine. Number Nine.”) during the Women In Comics panel. Hanging out at the pool with a bunch of comics pros and getting such a great tan that my coworkers back home thought I had gone to the Caribbean for the weekend. Sitting next to Julie Schwartz at the DC booth. Being followed into the bathroom by a fan wanting an autograph.

Over at The League Of Women Bloggers on Facebook, I found out about a troll who has been sexually harassing and threatening women pros and their families on the net. As I said there, “I would like to know why it took Ron Marz and Mark Millar (and kudos to them for doing so) to take the asshole on. Having never been subjected to the troll’s attacks, I was ignorant until I read about it here. However, I will say that if I had been attacked like this, I would not have stayed quiet. (Anyone who knows me should not be surprised.) I would have taken him on, language for language, and if it had continued, I would have contacted the authorities. So, girlfriends, I do have to say…why didn’t anyone who was being attacked by this asshole not take him on? My graduate paper for school was ‘Horizontal, Lateral and Vertical Violence in Nursing.’ It’s a worldwide phenomenon in the field. What this trolling ogre has been doing is the same thing (and it occurs on the net in nursing, too.) And every peer review paper I read, every person I interviewed, said the same thing – those who are attacked in this manner must come forward. It’s the only way to stop it.”        

Reading comics as a kid taught me the meaning of “invulnerable” and that the sun is 93,000, 000 miles from Earth. (Thanks for the editor’s notes, Julie!) It opened my mind to the infinite possibilities of “life out there” and the wonders of the universe. It taught me that guns are bad and life is precious. It taught me to love reading. I mentioned this to daughter Alix’s husband, Jeff, who is a professor in the City University of New York system and teaches remedial English, suggesting that he use comics as part of his syllabus. He’s looking into it.  If he can get into his office. The key the administration doesn’t open the door. Ah, CUNY.

Conspiracy moment: It might be my writer’s brain, but can’t help having a suspicion that the release of The Innocence Of Muslims (the video that launched horrific demonstrations against the U.S., Israel, and the Western world all over the Middle East, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and resulted in the deaths of our Libyan ambassador and three others) was an act of Al Quada, especially as it occurred on September 11, and especially as Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over as head of the terrorist organization, released a message on the net calling for an uprising. Laugh if you must, scoff if you will, but I won’t be surprised if the New York Times reports that a link was found by our intelligence agencies.

The Giants lost their opening game. They deserved to lose. They looked horrible. Their offensive line is non-existent. For this I missed Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Convention?

Martha Thomases’ fashion police column last week made me want to see a spread featuring the very fashion-forward women of comics. Hey! New York Times! How ‘bout it?

La Shonah Tova, everybody! That’s a big Happy New Year to all of you!