Tagged: Punisher

Bob Ingersoll: Daredevil, Punisher and Where To Get A Fair Trial


The Law Is A Ass #395

daredevil_punisher_seventh_circle_infinite_comic_vol_1_1There’s an old joke I’m not going to repeat. It’s long; not very good; and, worst of all for a joke, not particularly funny. I bring it up because it’s punchline, “You can’t get there from here,” has a great bearing on the comic we’ll be discussing today.

What comic? My pun-ishing headline indicates, it’s a comic featuring Daredevil, Matt Murdock, and a change of venue in a trial. And that means it’s Daredevil/Punisher: Seventh Circle.

We learned in the first issue of this mini-series that there’s this gangster named Sergey Antonov, see, and he’s a bad man, see. How bad? Well, he didn’t shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die, but he poisoned a rival gang’s boss’s Christmas turkey just to get him out of the way. Unfortunately, the rival boss’s whole family was eating that turkey. Four generations – most of them innocents – died because of Antonov’s actions. That’s how bad.

Well, Antonov has been captured and is going to stand trial for his crimes. However, because “too many people hate [him]” in New York City, the District Attorney’s office feared it couldn’t get an impartial jury in New York City. So Assistant District Attorney Matt Murdock, moved for a change of venue. To Texas.

Which leads us to several points of discussion. First: what’s venue? To answer that I have to take us back to the time when we weren’t the United States but thirteen colonies under the British Empire. (Okay, I don’t have to, but I’m going to. How else can I show off all this historical knowledge I picked up in law school?) Back then, King George III had people who committed crimes in the colonies transported back to England for trial. The colonies didn’t like this. They even included it as one of their grievances with the Crown in the Declaration of Independence.

In order to prevent that from happening in the United States of America, the Founding Fathers put a clause in Article III of the United States Constitution requiring all criminal trials must be held within the state in which the crime was committed. But the Founding Fathers didn’t stop there. They also included a Vicinage Clause in the Sixth Amendment’s trial by jury provision dictating that the jury be composed of people who live within the state and district where the crime occurred. That district where the trial can be held, that’s the venue.

Killing four generations of one family with a Swift Botulismball Turkey would be a felony. Actually, it would be a lot of felonies; four generations worth of felonies. Felonies are tried in county courts in most states – Louisiana and Alaska have parishes and boroughs instead of counties – so for a felony trial in New York, the proper venue would be the county where the crime occurred. As Matt Murdock, who works for the District Attorney in Manhattan, is prosecuting the case, we’ll assume Antonov’s crimes occurred in the county that contains Manhattan; New York County.

Matt successfully moved to change the venue of Antonov’s upcoming trial, bringing up our second point of discussion: what’s a change of venue? Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes a case is so highly publicized that it’s difficult to find people who haven’t heard about the case or formed an opinion about it before the trial started and the proper venue can’t assemble an unbiased jury. When that happens, the defense may seek a change of venue, so that the case can be tried in a different venue; one where the jury hasn’t heard about the case and isn’t biased.

In most states only the defendant can move for a change of venue. It is, after all, the defendant’s constitutional right to have the case tried in the venue where the crime occurred. And usually only the defendant may waive that right and seek to have the trial in a different venue. But NY Criminal Procedure Law § 231.20 specifically says that either the defendant or “the people,” i.e. the DA’s office, may move for a change of venue. So, having Matt Murdock ask for the change of venue wasn’t incorrect.

Having Matt Murdock request a change of venue to Texas, on the other hand…

And, yes, that is our third point of discussion.

Remember what I said earlier about Article III, dictating that a trial must be held within the state wherein the crime occurred. That means the only state that has jurisdiction to try a criminal case is the state where the crime occurred. Texas would have no subject matter jurisdiction over a crime committed in New York and a DA’s office could not ask that a New York criminal trial be transferred to Texas. The Constitution would permit changing the venue to some other county in New York. It would not permit changing the venue to some other state, like Texas.

There’s also no reason to move the trial to Texas. I’m a reasonably educated and well-read person but I’m up in Cleveland and I really couldn’t tell you much about the criminal goings on down in Cincinnati; except for this one noted case of vandalism involving a radio station and Thanksgiving turkeys. I don’t care how infamous Antonov’s crimes were in Manhattan, I can’t believe knowledge of his crimes was so wide-spread or pervasive that you couldn’t find twelve jurors in, say, Chautauqua County New York who hadn’t heard about or formed an opinion about the case.

For the record, I choose Chautauqua County because – check a map  – it’s about as far away from Manhattan geographically as you can get and still be in New York state, not because I think it’s provincial. I doubt they’re all that familiar with Manhattan’s crimes in, say, Jamestown or Celoron. Besides they’ve been a little preoccupied there with that “Scary Lucy” statue.

So why did the judge grant Matt’s unconstitutional request to move Antonov’s trail to Texas? I have no idea. We didn’t see the change of venue hearing or meet the judge, so I have no way of knowing why the judge did what the judge did. There could be a few reasons. Hell, considering Matt’s history of unethical behavior, we can’t even eliminate bribery.

Why did Matt Murdock choose the unconstitutional venue of Texas instead of the constitutional venue of Chautauqua County? That’s another story.

Literally. We found out why Matt chose Texas in Daredevil/Punisher: Seventh Circle # 4. And that’s another story. (Okay, it’s a later chapter in the same story but for the purposes of the joke that’s as good as another story.) And because it’s another story, it will also be another column.

Or, in the immortal tradition of comic books everywhere, to be law-tinued.

The Point Radio: Why DAREDEVIL Is Even More Binge Worthy Than Ever

No joke – we are back and we’re stopped binging on DAREDEVIL long enough to talk about the show with ol’ Horn Head himself. Charlie Cox shares what it was like putting this season together and how he thinks fans will feel when they finish. Plus ROGUE is back for a new season. Cole Hauser and new cast member Ashley Greene talk how this series is changing yet again.

Follow us here on Instagram or on Twitter here.

Michael Davis: Re-Enter Deathlok

Two weeks ago was my birthday. What can you give the Master Of The Universe?


Well, Salma Hayek, but lacking that?

Because I have everything I desire. On my birthday I gave ComicMix readers and others  was an exclusive-to-ComicMix look at my conversation with Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Mike Peterson, a.k.a. Deathlok.

If by chance you missed part one because you were celebrating my birthday, like the national holiday it should be (and is, in many a lovely ladies’…err…heart) here’s the link to it. Please read part one before this marvelous (get it?) narrative becomes as maddening as a racist realizing Johnny Storm/The Human Torch is a fictional character, but Barack Obama is indeed real.

Or don’t read it. The following non-sequitur is all yours then…

Then my phone, which was sitting on the table, rang. The caller ID said “Denys Cowan.” “That’s Denys Cowan? The Denys Cowan, Denys Cowan?” he said, clearly forgetting the east coast rule to not to be up in someone else’s business. The last two people to forget that rule were Tupac and Biggie, and stuff like that really vexes me. But I let it go. Then he said something I could not let go.

“I’m planning on doing as many comic book conventions as I can. I’d love to meet Denys and get his take on Deathlok.” He said that just as I picked up the call. So not only is this guy eyeing my phone, he’s clearly looking for me to hook him up with Denys.


When did I become part of his “team”?  He went there on me, so I went here: “Charlie Gunn was cool as shit, but he was no Deathlok. What makes you think you are?”

“I see myself as more Hardware than Deathlok.”

This guy was either brilliant or looking to throw down. He was either giving me a compliment or insulting me. I co-created Hardware, and depending on what he meant, it was one or the other. Either way he had given me a great quote.

Great for me, but for him? Not so much.

There was no way in hell, Disney, or Marvel would be happy about that little tidbit. In my mind’s eye I saw Mickey Mouse on the phone to the Punisher the moment that headline was splashed all over TMZ.

Yes, TMZ. They pay better. Regardless of what he meant, I had him.

Or I thought I did. I had nothing because he said nothing.

“I see myself as more Hardware than Deathlok” was actually said by Denys attempting to be funny. I had forgotten just that quickly that I had answered the phone, and the Bluetooth I wore did the rest.


Tonight is the season finale of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m going to watch it. I went back and watched the entire season so I could be fair with this piece. Despite what many at Bleeding Cool may think, I’m not a dick. I’ll wait until the season ends to finish what he and I started.

As you may have noticed, these series of articles are more conversations and story, not a traditional interview by any means. But I know there are some that want that Q & A format.

Fine, but I’m not going to do that. You will.

Whatever questions you have for J. August Richards, send them to ComicMix or to the comments section here, and Richards himself has agreed to answer them. Yes, that was agreed to before he and I met. I’d say get your questions in no later than Thursday May 15 if you want a chance to see them answered next week.

I know, I know. You’re welcome.


Marc Alan Fishman: Things Do Not Change; We Change

Thank you, Thoreau. The winds of change are ah-blowin’ kiddos. Turn that dial (and yeah I know kids… that term makes no sense to you) to NBC late night, and suddenly the land of Leno is now the field of Fallon. And where Jimmy once sat, now sits Seth. As internet pundits are quick to judge, I’ve been tickled pink at the complex barrage of arbitration that’s befallen the SNL alum already. Some good, some bad. But in nearly all cases? Passionate. Me personally? I’ll give them both the benefit of time. In his stint on ‘Late Night’, I thought Jimmy Fallon really came into his own. Taking that show to the “big leagues” has drawn itself plenty of criticism, and it brings me to my rant-n-rave this week: the outcries of the old who actively hate the new. (more…)

John Ostrander: Improving On The Legends

39583There’s a constant desire these days, it appears, to try to improve on existing works. That’s not a bad idea except when it is a bad idea. A good character, a good concept, that’s been around for a while needs to have the barnacles taken off every so often to make it fresh and work better. Movies adapted from comics have to take a good look at the source material and then tweak and change it to make it work for the big/small screen.

For me, the problem comes when the concept is changed willy-nilly until you can no longer recognize it. When J.J. Abrams re-booted the Star Trek franchise a few years back, I was dubious but I genuinely enjoyed the result (as of this writing, I haven’t seen the sequel). I can understand many hardcore Trek fans not sharing my enthusiasm. For them, Abrams wandered too far from the zeitgeist of Star Trek. I think it was nephew Bill who said to me, “I love Star Wars. But if I wanted to watch Star Wars, I’d watch Star Wars. This is Star Trek.” (He’ll get his opportunity to see an Abrams Star Wars film in the future, if he’s so inclined.)

We see it all the time in comics. Characters are re-imagined on a constant basis. The only constant is change, it would seem. Change for the sake of change, however, is not always a good plan.

I’ve been as guilty of it as the next writer. Years ago, Marvel approached me with coming up with a new pitch for The Punisher. The fans had gotten burned out with the multitude of Punisher titles and the concept was moribund.

I’ll be honest; I wasn’t much of a Punisher fan. I felt he was one-dimensional and Frank Castle had wiped out enough Mafiosi over the years to populate a small city. I told them I’d try to come up with something and what I came up with was – Castle joins a Mafia family. I thought they’d never go for it, but they did.

Different? You bet. Wrong? Yup. Did the readers buy it? Nope. It wasn’t The Punisher. I had wandered off the essential concept.

I wasn’t on the book all that long (18 issues) and, late in the run, the concept of Castle switching sides was dropped and we played a different game – Castle, as a result of an explosion, had lost his memory. He didn’t know he was the Punisher, he couldn’t remember his family being killed, but he still had the same skills, the same instincts. Frank Castle was still The Punisher although he didn’t know it. This worked better but the series was cancelled before we could get too far; in fact, we wound it up in Heroes For Hire that I was scripting at the time. Perhaps if we had gone with the amnesia angle from the start, it might have worked better.

A revamp or a remake works if you can define what makes a given character to be that character. You want to get down to the basics, not ignore them. For example, we’ve seen in recent years three different versions of Sherlock Holmes, two set in modern times. They all work more or less because they all keep key elements of the concept.

Sometimes a revamp can be quite radical. Late in my run on GrimJack, I booted the character down his own timeline and into a new body, a new persona and a whole new supporting cast. His soul was the same but it gave me, and the reader, a chance to look at the character with fresh eyes. To my mind, it stayed true to the concept of the character and the location.

My rule of thumb: if you look at a character after a revamp and you could simply give the character another name, then you’ve wandered off the concept. So long as you remain true to the basic ideas that makes a given character unique until him/herself, then it doesn’t matter how radical their evolution. First, they have to be true to themselves.




Mike Baron’s Helmet Head of Horror

Our pal and (very) occasional ComicMix contributor. high-energy comics writer Mike Baron (Nexus, Badger, Punisher, Deadman), has written us a novel and has taken it into the ether.

Helmet Head has been published as an Amazon e-book, available via the Kindle app on all computers, smartphones and tablets. It costs $4.99, which is pretty good for a full-length novel. Helmet Head is a horror piece that started out as a movie concept developed for movie director Ian Fischer about a monstrous motorcyclist who rides around the Little Egypt area in central America lobbing off the heads of other bikers and, one supposes, the occasional saluki, all expressed with the subtlety and sensitivity we have come to expect from the talented Mr. Baron.

For example, Mike refers to Helmet Head as containing “scenes of graphic violence that would gag a dog off a gut wagon.” It’s got plenty of bikers, high-holy-horror and senses-shattering action that certainly will thrill his many fans. Clearly, this is a date-night kinda novel.

Baron’s tome is the first of a trilogy – Whack Job comes out later this month and Banshees winds up this arc after the first of the year. And can a comic book adaptation be far behind?

Did I mention there’s Nazis in the story? There’s Nazis in the story. How can you go wrong?

You can gawk at Helmet Head’s interior or actually purchase the book by merely clicking on this link.

Marc Alan Fishman: Marvel Now and Later

Sorry for my absence last week, loyal readers. It would seem something had to break in my fragile world, and this was the first thing closest to the exit ramp. Luckily for me you all had more important things to do on a Saturday morning than read my rants and raves. Right? You didn’t? You mean to tell me you’ve been sitting there, at your desk, for a whole week… awaiting my article? Jeez. I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you. Let’s start off with something really inflammatory to get back into the thick of it, shall we?

Marvel Now is what I’d wished DC would have done with their New 52.

Marvel comes right out of the gate with the smartest roll-out plan I’ve seen in a while: A sensible one or two new books out every week, over the course of a few months. DC’s “throw everything at the fan, and watch the sales spike and recede” did exactly that. Marvel Now (boy, that’s gonna get annoying) sidesteps the idea that fans are willing to try everything all at once, in lieu of a doing it a few at a time. I’m a marketing man by trade. This screams of “listening to the target audience” and “lowering the barrier to entry” for those less willing to hop aboard. In human-speak? Someone at Marvel realized fans aren’t made of money. They are more willing to start a new series at #1, and toss it into their weekly rotation a little at a time, rather than dump their entire paychecks out for the opportunity to “catch up” to a continuity that wasn’t quite rebooted, wasn’t quite reset, and wasn’t quite defined in the slightest.

Marvel also has taken it upon themselves to shake up some major players on major books, after successful long-term runs had been accomplished. Where DC has been quick to play musical chairs before some writers grew their sea-legs for a particular title, the House of Mouse once again played it cool. Let Bendis play in the Avengers sandbox until he’s run out of awesome things to do. Then let Fraction do the same with Iron Man. Then put Waid (who is still rocket hot after relaunching Daredevil back into our hearts) onto a book, The “Insert-Adjective-Here” Hulk, that frankly I’m sure no one has cared about since Jeph Loeb murdered it in the early aughts.

In the art department, fan favorite John Cassaday gets to give The Avengers a nod, which I hope is as good or better than his work on the Astonishing X-Men. The always tried-and-true Mark Bagely will lend his hand at Fantastic Four, which should loosen the book up from its present look and feel. And over in the Four’s sister (or really… daughter?) book, FF, none other than Mike Alred is slated to put pencil to page. The last time I believe he was around MarvelLand, we got X-Statics, which was X-cellent. Sorry, had to go there.

And how about the overall plan? Axel “Not Danny D” Alonso made it pretty clear that the books that are working well now will have no plan for resets. This means fans of Daredevil, the Punisher, X-Factor and the like won’t have to fear an immediate exit strategy and creative retreat from their favorite books. This is of course (to me, at least) a direct wink and a butt slap to the boys with the new oddly shaped logo.

DC was glad to let its entire line of books stink up the joint for the last three months they were around prior to the New 52 debut. Never in my 20+ years reading comics had I felt more books “phoning it in” then at that time. As a 20+ DC book subscriber? It rubbed me the wrong way. Hard. Here, Marvel seems to realize the old adage holds true; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Generally we know this is the point where I play devil’s advocate. And I see by the folding chair in your outstretched arms, ready to strike me where I type, I’d better get on with the “Howevers…” or else. Now, Marvel Now is just an on-paper-plan at this point. Even with that said, it’s hard not to notice a few things that reek of desperation. I love Brian Posehn. I do. But does anyone here honestly wish to place a wager on how long his run on Deadpool will last?

And just how many Avengers titles are they releasing? 20? 30? We get it, the movie made a kajillion-billion Disney dollars… but someone somewhere had to wave a white flag. As it stands I still contend that the over saturation of books with the popular characters just clutters up racks with an ultimately less-than-the-best product. All this, and somehow, the X-books still all sound ludicrously horrendous, Bendis or not. The idea that “silver age” X-kids land in the present, and get to play the “Oooh-how-the-world-changed-card” to me is choking hard on the gimmick bone. Be sure to take a shot every time NewOld Jean Grey asks “what’s an iPod?”

See? I’m not just shilling for Marvel, unless they wanna send me a check. In that case, I’ll make myself “AR” compatible in a heartbeat. In the mean time, my opinion stands: Marvel Now appears to be better thought-out, with a smarter release schedule, and an ideology that holds on to the notion that quality beats quantity every single time. Mark my words, kiddos. Marvel Now is gonna pants DC, and in the scramble expect DC to fire back with 17 epic all-title consuming crossovers.

Did you mark that down? Good.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Sunday Cinema: Thomas Jane returns as the Punisher in “Dirty Laundry”

The Punisher: Frank CastleWhat’s the difference between justice and punishment? The answer is in this short film starring Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, and directed by Phil Joanou. (I’m loath to call this a Punisher fan film, even though it obviously is a labor of love unsanctioned by Marvel— because, really, you don’t get A-list directors and actors reprising their roles from major motion picture releases in any old fan film.)


Quoth Thomas Jane:

“I wanted to make a fan film for a character I’ve always loved and believed in – a love letter to Frank Castle & his fans. It was an incredible experience with everyone on the project throwing in their time just for the fun of it. It’s been a blast to be a part of from start to finish — we hope the friends of Frank enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.”

Follow the creators on Twitter:



A Mike Baron Short Story: Bat Fan v. Fat Ban

This was it. Ragnarok, Armageddon, and Doomsday rolled into one. This was the premier of Batman: The Killer Croc’s Revenge, the latest installment in the greatest movie franchise of all time. Christian Bale as Batman. Gary Oldman as Chief Gordon. Lindsay Lohan as Rachel Dawes. And Sean Penn as Killer Croc.

Wayne Callard stood in line with 1500 other Bat Fans waiting for the Cinegrande Cineplex to open its doors. Wayne had been waiting in line for nineteen hours. He’d camped out on the sidewalk the previous night, swathing his bulk in two double-sized down-filled sleeping bags on a foam mattress. Wayne was five feet seven and weighed 350 lbs. He’d been born Cicero Wayne Callard.

“Man,” said Manny Ramirez standing next to Wayne and blowing on his hands, “I hope they open the doors soon! I could use a tube steak!” Manny wore Bat sneakers and a Batpack.

“Haven’t you heard?” Wayne said. “They pulled all the hot dogs. The fat content was too high.”

Manny regarded Wayne dubiously. “You’re shittin’ me.”

“No sir. The mayor signed the executive order yesterday. He doubled the food tax on all fast food items and mandated the removal of such items as hot dogs, French fries, jalapeno poppers, and deep fried cheese curds.”

“You gotta be shittin’ me!” Manny wailed. “What kind of dumb fuck would do that?”

“An overreaching municipal, state, and federal government that seeks to control all aspects of our lives and treat us like children.”

“I been thinkin’ about that hot dog all night! It’s the only thing that kept me going!”

“Hang, bro,” Wayne said. “I got you covered.”

A shout. A huzzah rose up the line. They had opened the doors. It was ten-thirty in the morning. Excitement was palpable among the faithful, overwhelmingly comprised of adolescent boys with a few sullen adults shepherding their cubs and hapless girlfriends in tow.

Two security guards met them at the door. “Please deposit all liquids, foods, and recording devices here. Sir, would you mind opening your coat?”

Wayne dutifully spread wide his bulky pea coat revealing a round mound covered with a nicely pilled argyle sweater that had belonged to his grandfather. The guard looked away and waved him through.

“Sir, would you mind opening your backpack?” the guard said to Manny.

Manny slipped it off and flipped open the lid. “It’s a Batpack.”

Tickets were nine dollars for the eleven o’clock matinee, twelve dollars for shows after noon. Wayne got his ticket and waited for Manny in the lobby where the snack counter was doing a brisk business in popcorn made with sunflower oil and available with virgin olive oil, tofu on a stick, and fruit smoothies.

Manny entered the lobby. “Ahmina get a Coke and some buttered popcorn, okay?”

“There is no buttered popcorn. It’s available with sunflower oil and olive oil.”

Manny’s jaw crushed a toe. He looked toward the refreshment counters which resembled festival seating at a Who concert. He resigned himself to water. Wayne took off at flank speed. It was imperative to get your seats first and fish for food second. By the time Wayne and Manny gained the theater, the plum rows eight through twelve were taken with sniveling, squirming, texting, snarfing boys and men in a state of perpetual shiftiness emitting a low rumble of conversation punctuated by invective.

Wayne took the third seat in the 13th row except it was labeled the 14th to avoid the onus of superstition. Manny sat on the aisle. The big screen showed a ruddy, cheerful Santa Claus in coitus with a reindeer, guzzling Coke and shouting, “Shake, it Prancer, you hot bitch!” It was a Very Special Christmas.

During the trailer for Punisher IV – Marvel 0, a flat top and his date, who looked like Betty from Betty & Veronica, entered the aisle causing Manny to swing his legs to the side. Wayne had to stand and even then it was like squeezing by a mattress stuck in the doorway.

“Do you smell McDonald’s?” Betty whispered to her date.

“Shhh!” Wayne shushed. Dude gave him the stink eye but Wayne ignored him. The troublesome couple sat three seats away. They watched a trailer for Zits, the new Will Ferrell comedy in which he plays a child/man forced to grow up when he takes over the family summer camp. They watched a trailer for Grits, the new Adam Sandler comedy in which he plays a child/man forced to grow up when he takes over the family plantation. They watched a trailer for Pits, the new Ben Stiller comedy about black holes. 

Finally, after ads for plastic surgery and whole grain crust chicken and sun-dried tomato pizza, the lights lowered and the feature began. Manny stared at the screen in fascination until the smell of a Big Mac got his attention. Wayne nudged him and passed over a Big Mac.

“What? How?” Manny said, pleased and delighted.

Wayne reached down and pulled a portion of his belly away from himself like a lid. “Prosthetic belly,” he whispered. “Costume store. Got the Big Macs last night in Jersey. Kept ‘em warm with body heat.”

“Shhhh!” Betty shushed harshly.

I know what you’re thinkin’, Wayne thought to himself. In all the confusion, did he pull out two burgers, or three? The question you’ve got to ask yourself, lady, is do you feel lucky?

Batman had a utility belt. Wayne had a prosthetic belly.

Wayne and Manny ate their burgers. Dude immediately in front of Wayne turned in his seat. He had a buzz cut and a ring in one ear and through his nose. “Dude, like that burger you’re eating is totally horrendous. Take it outside, why don’tcha?”

Other young men swiveled to see the object of wrath. Wayne deftly tucked the rest of the Big Mac into his cavernous maw, chewed and swallowed. Reaching into an inside pocket of his pea coat he withdrew a canned Coke, popped the lid and drank copiously. He belched like the Mother of All Bullfrogs. He rolled it out like a black furry carpet. It just kept on rolling. The belch caromed off the ceiling frieze and tumbled ‘round the room.

Onscreen, Batman foiled an attempt by the Punisher to crash his movie.

Buzz Cut jabbed a finger at Wayne. “Why don’t you get up off your fat ass and go sit somewhere else?”

“Yeah!” said his sidekick, Li’l BC.

With a sigh Wayne heaved himself to his feet and motioned for Manny to do likewise. He had not come to rumble with Nazis. He had come to see the movie. He and Manny moved further upslope until they found two seats in the narrow aisle next to the wall.

Onscreen, terrorists had taken over Gotham Tower and were jamming all radio, Internet, and short wave transmissions. In the theater, a gang of twenty-something boys sitting behind Wayne and Manny had seized control of the 18th row and jammed transmissions from the screen by hooting, making noises, and throwing Junior Mints.

A Junior Mint bounced off the back of Wayne’s basketball-sized head. Wayne slowly swiveled with a steely glare. The obstreperous ones studiously watched the screen on which Bruce Wayne was fending off Poison Ivy’s attentions.

Another Junior Mint sailed past. Giggles emanated from the 18th row. Wayne didn’t bother to turn and look. With a sigh of resignation, he gripped his arm rests and heaved himself from his seat. My city bleeds, he thought. He ponderously made his way up the aisle toward the 18th row.

“Oh oh,” they joked. “Look out now, here he comes!”

“Beware the Fat Fury!”

Wayne wondered if the benighted ones were even familiar with Herbie Popnecker. Without looking at them Wayne reached the 19th row and turned in. He sat behind what he took to be the ringleader, a dude in an Oakland hoodie, pants down his ass and BKs on the back of the seats in front of him as if he weren’t the issue of wealthy white mandarins on the Upper West Side.

“You smell something?” the White Negro said.

“Yeah,” said one of his minions. “Something stinks.”

The White Negro turned to confront Wayne, whose knees were up against the back of the seat. “Whassup, you fat faggot? Why don’tcha move your bulk somewhere else, know what I’m sayin’?”

Wayne reached into his belly prosthetic and brought forth a halogen flashlight and a water pistol filled with dog urine. “Please turn around and enjoy the movie for which you paid nine dollars.”

Onscreen, Batman confronted a crazed Killer Croc in the act of planting a bomb.

Offscreen, the White Negro said, “Or what? You gonna make me?”

Wayne turned the flashlight on the White Negro’s face. He squirted dog urine on the White Negro’s shirt.

“There,” Wayne said. “Now you have a smell to complain about.”

The White Negro heaved himself over the back of his seat and attacked Wayne with both hands, delivering blow after blow to Wayne’s prosthetic belly. The White Negro’s fist penetrated several of the twelve thumbtacks Wayne and pushed through the front of his sweater. Stinking of dog urine, the White Negro stared in horror at his bleeding fists.

The manager, a pale young man with a ponytail, came up the stairs with his own flashlight which he shined on the whole sorry scene. He sniffed. “Okay, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you all to leave. Your ticket money will be refunded out front in the lobby. Let’s go.”

The White Negro turned on him in wounded innocence. “But we didn’t do anything! This fat fuck started messing with us!”

Wayne remained seated. “They threw Junior Mints at the back of my head. I’m sure a police search will reveal the Mints.”

“What’s that smell?” the manager said.

“Smells like dog piss,” one of the minions said. He had the makings of a fine detective.

“All right, that’s it,” said the manager with newly found authority. “Out of here right now or I’ll stop the film, turn up the lights and call the cops.”

There was some grumbling but when two more ushers appeared with flashlights on the landing below the White Negro resignedly got to his feet and led his minions out the door. “It sucks anyway.”

The manager turned his flashlight on Wayne. Wayne turned his flashlight on the manager. “You too,” the manager said.

Moi?” Wayne said. “I have troubled no one. I have thrown Junior Mints at no one. I merely seek to watch the movie which is ruined for me now, ruined I say because of incessant interruptions and the obstreperous and contumacious nature of your clientele.”

“Let’s go,” the manager said. “You can get a refund in the lobby.”

Wayne rose with dignity. “Fine,” he said and waddled down the stairs, pausing only to glance at Manny, who dutifully joined him. The two lads soon found themselves nine dollars richer individually and out on the street.

“Now what do we do?” Manny said.

Gazing at a poster for The Bourne Natural Killers, Wayne deduced their next move. “Come on. We’ll make our own movie. We’ll shoot it on my phone.”

©2012 Mike Baron. All Rights Reserved


MINDY NEWELL: Who’s Dead As A Doornail?

MINDY NEWELL: Who’s Dead As A Doornail?

Death aims only once, but never misses.

(Maxims: Political, Philosophical, and Moral, by Edward Counsel)

Except in comics.

I was doing a search for quotes about death when I found this one, which is so apropos. I never heard of Edward Counsel; did a Google search, but couldn’t find him?? Found a reproduction of his book on Amazon; the original was published before 1923. All I can gather is that he was an Australian who was born before 1900. Anyone who has more info is welcome to let me know in the comments section.

The reason I was looking for a quote about death – of which there seems to be milllllllllions – is because all us comic fans are buzzing about the YouTube video The Death and Return of Superman, by Max Landis (son of John Landis), who stars in The Chronicle. I was going to post it here, but Martha (Thomases) beat me to it three days ago – which amazingly points out that DC actually thought Tim Drake’s/Robin’s new costume was more of a P.R. event than Supe’s kicking of the bucket – so I won’t do that. All I can say is that, if by any chance you haven’t seen it, do so at once. You have my permission to stop reading this column, go watch it (it’s about 16:00 long) and then come back. It is bitingly hilarious, and exceptionally on the mark!!!! (Major kudos to Landis and his fellow actors btw!)

SPOILER ALERT!: Okay, I’m going to assume that you have either already seen the video or have taken the 16:00 to watch it before returning here, because I’m going to give away the ending here.

Landis concludes his short film by stating that Superman’s death and return opened the floodgates for other comic characters to die and then resurrect. In other words, said resurrection cheapened the dramatic impact of said death, and ended the ability of readers to mourn the loss of the character, because the reader knew the character would eventually return. Cynics like me will always point out that the death of a character in the comic book world is always due to (1) marketing; and (2) the dictates of Hollywood – as Martha ably points out in her column concerning Lois And Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

As a comics writer, a editor, and a reader, the “make-believe” of death in comics really pisses me off.

I’d like to point out that the ability of fiction (any fiction, from comics to television to movies) to help children understand and cope with finality of death is incredibly important. J. M. Barrie understood this, as he has Peter Pan say “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” And of course, J.K. Rowling did not flinch from the meaning of death in the Harry Potter And The novels; it was one of the themes of her “magnus opus” – beginning with the main character. Need I remind you that Harry was an orphan?

Okay, young readers of comics are scarce these days. We all know that. But they are still out there; my eleven-year old niece Isabel being one of them. And children are curious about death. About six months after my husband left me, the family was out to dinner. Right in the middle of the laughter and the eating, Isabel, six years old at the time, said to me, “Is John dead?” (That was a conversation stopper, let me tell you.) Of course her parents had explained what had happened. But obviously Isabel couldn’t grasp the concept of marital separation and divorce, so all she knew was that John was gone, which in her thoughts equaled death… because, as her mom told me later, she had just seen a movie – I don’t remember which one, it might have been one of the Harry Potter’s – in which one of the characters died. And she was trying to wrap her young mind around “death.”

Which I think is good; our society tends to put death into a dark, dusty corner where it molders and mildews and mutates into something unbearably monstrous. Remember the uproar over Terry Schiavo? How about the Republican bullshit of equating Obama’s healthcare bill with death panels? And as a registered nurse in the operating room, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen terminally ill or extremely aged patients subjected to the stress of unneeded or useless surgery or treatment because the family insists on it because they can’t deal with the impending death of their loved one.

Death can be welcomed as an end to unending pain and torment. Death can be aggressively fought against with all the tools of modern medicine. Death can be sudden, or it can be stretched out into nanoseconds.

But death is real.

I’m still reeling from the death of Kara Zor-El – Supergirl – in Crisis On Infinite Earth.  Don’t talk to me about the reboots.

The Very Short List of Comic Book Superheroes Who Have Died And Returned: Alfred Pennyworth, Aquaman, Aunt May, Big Barda, Bucky, Captain America, The Doctor, Elektra, Fahrenheit, The Flash, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, The Human Torch, Jean Grey, Moon Knight, Negative Man, Punisher, Robin, Supergirl, Superman, The Thing, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (many if not all), Wonder Man, Wonder Woman, Yellowjacket.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis. Sponsored by the Bacon Council.