Tagged: Red Skull


Ed Catto’s Person of the Year


It’s that time of year to pause and look back at the best of and the coolest stuff of the year. It’s always fascinating to compare and contrast what you feel was more important with what everyone else feels what was important. It doesn’t really matter what the topic or industry is – there’s bound to be disagreements. I was especially amused when the roundtable on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show was criticizing Time magazine’s choice for Person of the Year. So naturally, I started thinking about who should be the Person of the Year in Geek Culture. And the more I thought about it – the more I was convinced this was the time for one of those high concept pronunciations. So for Geek Culture Person of the Year – I choose The Cosplayer.

The Cosplayer embraces and exemplifies so much of pop culture. Its almost as if cosplayer collectively are playing another role – the proxy hero for Geek Culture.

bombshell-ww-1Convention Growth

Cosplayers, by definition, dress in costumes at comic conventions. Oh, sure, we saw a lot of cosplay during Star Wars’ opening weekend, recently on Back to the Future Day and a slightly different flavor of it all at the various Santa Con pub crawls. But by and large, cosplayers cosplay at comic cons. And that’s where so many of the big stories have been this year. In 2016, there were more comic conventions than ever before. And there were more high quality conventions. And there were more fun small conventions. And more international conventions. Attendance records were routinely shattered and the convention season now stretches to cover the entire calendar from January to December.

But with this growth has also come some growing pains. The mix of attendees, and their reasons for attending conventions, is changing dramatically. Geek Culture at comic conventions now means so many things beyond comics. At some conventions, some dealers of old comics struggle to find their place in the new order. New, often unexpected, exhibitors are always jumping into the fray. Even the traffic patterns of convention aisles is changing, especially as taking photos is now a much bigger part of the experience than it once was.

And the Cosplayers aren’t the only reason for these changes – but they are a big part of it. Their goals at a convention might not include shopping, treasure hunting or snagging artwork from a favorite artist. On the other hand they bring a level of enthusiasm and creativity that’s not seen in any other gathering. So many gatherings of super-passionate fans, everything from the US Open Tennis Championships to the National Dog Show, encourage fans to be there as spectators – not participants.

Diversity and Acceptance

Baked into the idea of today’s cosplay is a wonderful non-judgmentalism. If you cosplay as Superman, you don’t have to be tall and muscular. You don’t have to be a man or white. You’re even applauded for stretching the original character’s concepts into something new and different. And that’s whey we may see a steampunk Superman or a Stormtrooper Superman.

Diversity BCC Cosplay GLC Shazam
So you don’t need a super-physique to cosplay super-characters. Sure, there’s some shallow, judgmental lunkheads out there, but the wonderful overwhelming mindset that cosplay brings is a celebration of all different body types. And in today’s hypercritical social media atmosphere, so often based on passing judgments via “likes”, it’s an important cultural counterbalance.

CA_BatmanOn-Ramp for New Fans

Back in the day, there were always a few blowhard know-it-all-fans (cough, cough) who took great pride in their knowledge of trivia and backstory about certain comic characters. New fans often felt condescension when these fans, the industry’s culture version of Wine Snobs, looked down their noses at the rest of fandom.

But Cosplaying has worked to change that. If someone wants to cosplay as a certain character, but doesn’t know all-there-is-to-know about a character, it’s fine! There have been reports of the old guard shaming new fans when they cosplayed “incorrectly” (i.e., not getting their characters’ details correct.) But lately, it seems that this unfortunate paradigm is flipped on its head, and now cosplayers are applauded for trying new things and celebrating them in the costumes.

Green Arrow New DelhiIt’s a Family Affair

How wonderful it is to see the way that Geek Culture now embraces families. I’m a second-generation comic fan. Both my mom and dad read and traded them back in the way. And my dad would flip through my new comics stack and enjoy the latest Jonah Hex or Master of Kung Fu.
At conventions today, it’s wonderfully common to see families cosplaying together. Usually, it’s a dad who’s introducing the kids to his favorite hobby. But at the recent New Jersey Comic Expo (it was a great show), I was thrilled to see two brilliant cosplayers dressed as Captain America and a female Red Skull bring their parents, portraying a Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers. 

Cosplay Knows No Borders

Like Geek Culture, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. Cosplay is now a part of every major Comic Convention. In fact, this morning I was sent a Buzzfeed link showcasing “27 Cosplayers from Comic Con who are Absolutely Nailing this Costume Thing”.

Mike Gold and Blackhawk Cosplay BCC* * *

So here’s a holiday toast to the creativity and passion of all 2015’s cosplayers. Congratulations on being voted as my “Geek Culture Person of the Year”. Now start planning for next year.

(Note: The Editor is profoundly embarrassed to note that it is he who is standing to our right of Blackhawk, in a photo taken at the ComicMix booth at this year’s Baltimore Comic Con.)

Tweeks: Experience The Marvel Experience

TweeksMEXthumbnailLast week, we went to The Marvel Experience during its stop in San Diego.  Taking place in seven large domes, visitors become S.H.I.E.L.D recruits who undergo training in order to fight alongside the Avengers against Hydra in a final showdown. It reminded us of a Marvel themed amusement park, but is it worth the ticket price (ranging from $24.50 to $34.50) when it comes your city?  Watch our review to find out.


original-300x153-3825655I suppose Marvel decided to call its evil super-corporation Roxxon, because the name sounded like real-life super-corporation Exxon, but not so close that it would get them sued, and because, back in 1974, the Comics Code wouldn’t have let Marvel call it Roxxoff. And now, having gone for the cheap laugh, let’s move on to a discussion of Roxxon and Thor: God of Thunder# 19.

Roxxon’s history is as checkered as a table cloth in an Italian restaurant. And twice as dirty. It’s reputed that back in the day, when it was called Republic Oil, Roxxon had Tony Stark’s parents killed. Its scientific R & D subsidiary, The Brand Corporation, routinely creates super villains to fight for Roxxon’s interests through such socially uplifting tactics as industrial sabotage. It covered up the disaster when a technology it was developing to beam solar power by microwave transmission went out of control and killed all 200 people in Allantown, Iowa. It tried to find alternative energy sources by kidnaping and studying super heroes. It hired the super villain Flag-Smasher to engage in a murder plot at the United Nations. And that’s just what I learned from Wikipedia. Imagine what I could have found out if I’d had the time to read all of Roxxon’s prior appearances in the comic books.

Anyway, Roxxon was clearly not the poster child for the Good Neighbor Policy. Then it was purchased by the Kronas Corporation.

Kronas was a front organization for the Red Skull, when he was inhabiting the body of former KBG general Aleksander Lukin. Its goal was destroying the democratic capitalist system in general and the United States in particular. And it had ties to terrorist organizations that were being investigated by the United States government. I can’t imagine that era in Roxxon’s history did much for its public perception.

But now, as we learned in Thor: God of Thunder # 19, Roxxon was the “all-new” Roxxon Energy Corporation. It was, once again, its own master and not under the control of the Kronas Corporation. According to its new CEO, Dario Agger, Roxxon was trying to establish itself as a new and benevolent super-corporation. After all, “Roxxon is the world’s wealthiest and most powerful super-corporation. If we don’t know what’s best for the people of this planet, then … who does?” I haven’t heard such uplifting words of public conscience since General Bullmoose.

Roxxon’s first step in its program to prove its benevolence to the world was to supply the planet with much needed drinking water by mining icebergs on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, and exporting them back to Earth. Water mined on a moon of Jupiter and shipped back to Earth for human consumption? Assuming the government didn’t immediately quarantine the aqua Eurpoa until it could verify that it didn’t contain lethal alien toxins – assuming Roxxon could actually sell it to the world – well what was that going to cost? That stuff would make Kona Nigari Water look like plain old Evian by comparison.

Now we long-time Marvel readers have learned not to trust Roxxon or its previous CEOs. So it’s understandable that we’re skeptical of Mr. Agger and whatever his agenda for Roxxon truly is. Especially when you consider Agger’s nickname in business school was “The Minotaur” and the cover to the comic shows an actual Minotaur on it. I took English, I studied foreshadowing and that can’t be good.

Moreover, we’re not alone in not trusting Mr. Agger. Neither does Rosalind Solomon, an environmental field agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. Difference being, while we suspect Agger and Roxxon are up to no good – mostly because we haven’t had a chance to read Thor: God of Thunder# 20 yet – Ms. Solomon is quite vocal about her suspicions. “If Roxxon gets caught breaking the law, they simply pay to have the laws changed.”

You know, Roz, Roxxon may be good at being bad, but it’s not that good.

There are many things Roxxon could do with its lots of money to avoid being convicted of the crimes it commits. It could bribe juries to find them not guilty. It could bribe prosecutors or members of the Justice Department not to bring charges. It could bribe judges to rule key evidence was not admissible. It could even become such a super-duper super-corporation that the Justice Department would deem it “Too big to jail.” The one thing it couldn’t do, and hope for any degree of success, would be to bribe lawmakers to change the laws, after they’ve already broken them. Because it doesn’t matter what happens to the laws after you break them.

If you do something that, at the time you did it, was illegal, you broke the law. It doesn’t matter that the law gets changed after you broke it. If it was against the law, you can be prosecuted. If the law got changed after you broke it and what you did is no longer a crime now, you still broke the law. And you can still be prosecuted.

People in Colorado who were convicted of possessing marijuana in October of 2012, didn’t suddenly become non-criminals in November of 2012, when the state voted to decriminalize possession of marijuana. Oh sure, Colorado’s governor might pardon the people who were convicted before the law changed. After all, if Colorado doesn’t deem that behavior to be criminal any longer, pardoning prior offenders would be both a good-will gesture and a way of easing prison overcrowding. But absent something like that, the people convicted before November, 2012 would still be convicted criminals.

In the same way, if Roxxon gets caught breaking some law and pays to have said law changed after it got caught breaking that law, it still broke that law. It can still be prosecuted.

In stating that Roxxon gets away with things, because it pays to have the laws changed after it gets caught breaking those laws, Agent Solomon was showing the same sort of legal acumen demonstrated by the biblical king with whom she shares a name. You know, the guy whose greatest legal triumph was ruling that a baby claimed by two different women should be cut in two because, he assumed, only the false claimant would consent and say, “Yes, I’ll take half a dead baby, please.”

Mike Gold: The Superhero Ideal

Gold Art 130327Why doesn’t Batman use a gun?

Because his parents were shot down? Really? I mean… really?

That’s weak. Even for an obsessive-compulsive who’s borderline psychotic, that’s just silly. He’s got a belt full of lethal weapons, he’s got more in his car, and even more in his cave. And, speaking of OCD, they all have the same first name.

So, why doesn’t Batman use a gun?

Because it’s boring. It’s visually boring, and comics is a visual storytelling medium.

If the Joker comes running at him, he can whip out his Batgun and splatter the walls with green hair. Or he can start off a nifty three-page fight sequence.

Well, he can also whip out his Batarang and separate the crown from the clown, but that’s just one long panel. It might be entertaining if we were in one of those once-every-generation 3-D fads, but those fads never last long.

Let’s try it again.

The Red Skull is out after Captain America. Cap whips around and:

A)  Shoots him, obviously in self-defense and likely saving the lives of dozens if not hundreds of innocents to come, or

B)   Frisbees his mighty shield across the page and leaps upon the evil bastard and pummels the poo out of the guy, who even in defeat, manages to escape.

Yeah. What would Jack Kirby do?

Superheroes are not anti-gun because they are possessed by the liberal media. Superheroes don’t use guns because it’s unexciting storytelling. Gunplay in superhero comics is visually boring.

Police use guns because they are not paid by the panel and they have some concern over what their spouses are making for dinner. Taking the longer view, our military uses guns for much the same reason. In their world, visual excitement will likely get them killed.

You know who else uses guns?

Gun nuts. But that’s only in the real world.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


Mindy Newell: Lord Of The Sith

Newell Art 130318 “The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.”

Bertrand Russell

Why Is It Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism:

1. Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.

2. Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.

3. Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.

4. Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.

5. Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.

6. Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.

7. Bad Boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide “narcissistic supply” to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.

Sandy Hotchkiss & James F. Masterson (2003)

There are a lot of megalomaniacal, narcissistic bad guys in the comics world. Some of the classics are Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin, Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. The Red Skull, Victor Von Doom, a.k.a. Doctor Doom, and Lex Luthor, a.k.a.…well, Lex is so megalomaniacal and narcissistic he doesn’t bother with a codename. They’re the perfect foils for their arch-nemeses – and our heroes – Daredevil, Daredevil, Captain America, Reed Richards (and the rest of the Fantastic Four), and Superman.  And we like them, and sometimes we even root for them, because they reflect our unspoken and unconscious thoughts, desires, and dreams in a healthy, subliminal manner. Meaning that we’re all a bit megalomaniacal and narcissistic; otherwise we’d never get out of our beds to face the world. (Just as our heroes reflect our need to set right what we perceive to be wrong.)

But when pathological megalomania and narcissism invade the real world, we get Scott Peterson. We get Bernie Madoff (and what a perfect name for the guy who redefined the pyramid scheme). We get Jack Abramoff. We get Osama Bin Laden and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

We also get Dick Cheney, or as Jon Stewart calls him, “Darth Cheney.”

I watched The World According To Dick Cheney on Showtime this past Friday night. TWATDC is a quasi-documentary by R. J. Cutler (who is also responsible for The War Room, about Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign), by which I mean that it is basically one long interview with the former Vice-President.

I wasn’t expecting a mea culpa, and there isn’t one, ala Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. (See The Fog Of War: Eleven Lessons From The Life Of Robert McNamara, which won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 1993)

I mean, I always said that Dick Cheney was a scary guy, and that he was the Shadow President running a shadow government during Dubbya’s term of office.

But, holy shit, man, it’s one thing to know it….

And it’s one thing to know it.

Know what I mean?

If you don’t, I suggest you watch The World According To Dick Cheney.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

Newell Art 2 130318

Now you know.

I’ll take my pathological megalomaniacal narcissists in four-colors, please.

Not in the real world.




Mike Gold: Marvel Now and Again

When I first heard that Marvel was launching a new title each week for five months, I thought “What do you mean five months? They’ve been doing that for years!”

My second thought was… “define new.

As I’ve stated before, Marvel doesn’t reboot as much as it evolves: they’ll launch the 74th Captain Marvel while still using the first. Sure, they ignore stuff. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a lot easier than explaining why, in a logical continuity, Aunt May didn’t die long before most of the readers were born. So any comparisons between Marvel Now and DC’s New 52 are strained to say the least. Apples and oranges, as they say in the produce trade.

In looking over the lists of new Marvel Now launches, I see a bunch that seem interesting from a casting standpoint – both in terms of matching creative talent to characters and matching characters to teams. But Marvel’s been up to that for decades. What’s new about it now?

Marvel, and DC and everybody else, has been killing titles and relaunching them with new creative teams and big number ones on the cover ever since the direct sales racket started, so, again, what’s new about it now?

New costumes? This must be Wednesday! Spider-Man hasn’t had a new costume since every fourth page of any recent issue of The Avengers. The Red Skull is back? Damn! It is Wednesday! So, new? (That’s an awesome pun if you know Yiddish.)

No, really. I’m asking. What’s new about Marvel Now, now? What am I missing here? It’s just another huge marketing stunt, but – thankfully – one that doesn’t necessarily involve buying a million different tie-ins, crossovers and sidebar mini-series in order to get a complete road map. I’m sure Marvel’s likely to increase its sales lead over DC a bit. Big deal. Marvel is part of Disney, and increasing its lead over DC in the teensy tiny direct sales market wouldn’t provide sufficient motivation for Disney Chairman Bob Iger to lift his head out of his morning cereal bowl.

Look. I’m fine with all of this. It’s just nothing new. In fact, it’s a big part of why I’ve found the Marvel Universe fun ever since Fantastic Four #26.

No, what bothers me is Newtonian physics. Specifically, the bit about “with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Except that in the 21st Century, I’d rewrite this to read “with every action there is a massive and opposite over-reaction.”

Yes, friends. Beware the New 104!

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil Talks Up San Diego and Sequels



6 a.m. Sunday morning.

What the hell is that noise?

Oh, yeah. The alarm on my cell phone.

It’s reeeeeally lowwwwwwd.

Shit. Five more minutes. Just five more minutes. One eye open, I grapple for the phone. Shit. Goddamn it. There it is. Flip it open. Hit the snooze button.


I snuggle under the covers.

And I’m wide awake.

The Giants are playing the Falcons today in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Kickoff at 1 p.m. Probably there are people already at the stadium, setting up their tailgating parties, firing up the grills, sipping hot coffee or tea (and, sadly, guzzling the first beer of the day.)

Glenn (my brother) is probably on the road already, driving up from the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia. Probably almost all of Philadelphia is rooting for the Falcons to kick the Giants’ collective ass. It’s not easy being a Giants fan down there.

Okay, I’m up. It’s cold. Shit, yesterday it was over 60°. Today, not so much. Good football weather thought. I put on my robe. Go into the kitchen. I squint at the bright light as I flip the switch. Turn on the stove for my cuppa tea. Can’t do anything without my cuppa.

Go into the bedroom. Put my robe on. Shit, it’s really cold. Good football weather, though. ‘Specially for the Giants. The Falcons play indoors. The cold and the crazy winds at Giants Stadium – I refuse to call it Metlife Stadium – will hopefully work against them. I turn on my computer.

The teapot is whistling. I pour my nice cuppa tea. Last night I prepared everything; the steaks are marinating, hot dogs are in aluminum foil, the cooler and the grill are pulled out and ready, utensils, paper plates, everything’s set. Glenn’s bringing the Bloody Marys and the charcoal. Food tastes better without that propane smoke.

Got about an hour, hour-and-a-half ‘till Glenn gets here. All I gotta do is sit down and write my column. Then take a shower and get dressed.

I wonder how Eli is feeling? Where is Victor Cruz right now? Is Justin Tuck already in the locker room? Is Mathias Kiwanuka having tea too? Or coffee?

What’s going through the minds of the Giants? And the Falcons, for that matter?

I wonder about superheroes and their evil doppelgangers. What if their battles were scheduled? What if they watched films of last week’s battle? What if they studied playbooks? Would they be replaying that sack, thinking “if only I’d just stepped to the left?” Would they be thinking about that perfectly thrown right hook that somehow missed? What would they do, what would they think about before going up against each other?

7:30 a.m. The doorbell has rung. This column is now interrupted because Glenn is already at my door and we’re going to the Giants game! Go, big blue!

5:55 p.m. I’m back. Giants won! 24 – 2. (Falcons got a safety due to a bullshit call by the end zone ref who threw a flag 25 seconds after the play was called dead. (I really, really, really hate when the refs do that.) Gotta admit the first quarter sucked (for both teams), and the second quarter wasn’t much either, although the Giants did score a TD to make it 7 – 2 at the half. But the second half rocked!

Okay, where was I?

Right. Got it.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to write a story about the hours before an “epic battle” between the hero and the villain? You never actually see the fight scene – well, maybe the first punch, the way Rocky III ends, y’know? You just build up the tension going on inside the hero, inside the villain. It could start like my morning did, with the alarm clock shattering the deep sleep of Peter Parker and Mary Jane – sorry, but I prefer that “timeline.” And Electro was up all night, couldn’t sleep, thinking about his past battles with Spider-Man and letting his inferiority complex eat at him. Captain America wanders the streets of Washington, D.C., past the Capitol building and the monuments, ending up at Arlington cemetery, while the Red Skull visits Auschwitz, remembering the “glory” of the Third Reich. Doctor Strange spends the night in deep meditation, while the Silver Dagger ponders God and the Catholic Church at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

I could go on – and end up writing a story treatment and then some asshole will read it here, and I’ll get all pissed off, so I’ll stop here.

Before my brain starts playing tricks on me and I get all upset that I’m not actually writing these things anymore because, y’know, Mindy Newell is a has-been and Mindy Newell is a bitch and Mindy Newell never really had any talent, just a great set of gams which she used to get work, and…

You know.

Mind games.

P.S.: Giants Vs. Green Bay Next Week!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis


MIKE GOLD’s Top 10 Comics Of 2011

It’s the end of the year and everybody’s got their Top 10 list, and since I went to journalism school I’m obligated to list mine. I’m looking at titles that were released in 2011 because cover dates are meaningless. I’m not looking at original graphic novels or reprint projects, even though in dollar volume they constitute the majority of my purchases. Besides, original graphic novels are done to very different standards. Finally, some of these titles are done by friends of mine; I refuse to disqualify them because they just might buy me lunch. Having said all that…

#1 – Life With Archie Magazine (Archie)

Top of my list for the second year straight. Two stories – Archie marries Veronica, Archie marries Betty. Parallel worlds which converge, but that’s not why this book is great. There’s very real character development here, layered on personalities that existed for 70 years without it. We watch them grow, not into adults, but as adults. Better still, the most interesting character in both series is Reggie Mantle! Paul Kupperberg writes this, with art from Norm Breyfogle, Fernando Ruiz, Pat and Tim Kennedy and a host of others.

#2 – Tiny Titans (DC)

If you see this as a kid’s comic, that’s great, particularly if you’re a kid. If you see this as a brilliant loving satire of DC Comics and its convoluted universe, that’s great too, particularly if you’re an “adult.” Art Baltazar and Franco are pushing towards 50 issues here, and there ain’t a clunker in the bunch.

#3 – Elric: The Balance Lost (Boom)

Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion has been in the hands of a lot of comics creators and a lot of comics publishers, and the output has been… inconsistent. This latest series is among the very best: all of the various shades of Elric are here, and interweaved through the storyline are very contemporary elements and environs. Good stuff from Chris Roberson and Francesco Biagini.

#4 – Daredevil (Marvel)

Once again, Mark Waid does what he does best: he takes a well-established character that, like all well-established comics characters, has been covered in paint about a dozen too many times and strips it back down to the wall, preserving everything that made the character work while imbuing it with a contemporary environment. On this series, he’s going just that – and he’s doing it better than ever. Penciler Marcos Martin ain’t no slouch, neither. This is a real superhero book.

#5 – Justice League Dark (DC)

This one’s my surprise of the year. While very little of DC’s New 52 answers the question “why bother,” this one takes a bunch of characters of a somewhat mystical nature and thrusts them, Justice League like, into a trauma vastly larger than any one of them… and maybe all of them. Sort of like The Defenders, with all the style and John Constantine’s wit. Peter Milligan’s DC work has been inconsistent for me (I tend to prefer his U.K. work), but I’m glad I checked this one out. Mikel Jann draws the series. Very different… and very good.

#6 – Fly (Zenoscope)

I reviewed Raven Gregory and Eric J’s series about a recreational drug that gives kids the power to fly way back here. I liked it then, I like it now. Of course it’s out in trade paperback, so if you blew me off in August, give it a shot now.

#7 – Red Skull (Marvel)

Retrofitting a backstory onto a well-established character is a gambit that is often ill conceived and, worse, boring. Not this one. Greg Pak and Mirko Colak take us back to the villain’s adolescence where we learn – definitively – where his allegiances truly lie… and why. The fact that it’s got the best covers I’ve seen on a mini-series in a long while doesn’t hurt, either.

#8 – Batgirl (DC)

I don’t have a clue about how this series fits into any continuity, current or past. I’m told it does. What I do know is that this is a series about a young woman who’s trying to reestablish herself as a superhero after enduring traumas that shattered her body and soul. She’s not necessarily great at being a superhero, but she’s giving it all she’s got. This is exactly what I expect out of Gail Simone, and that is a very high standard. Adrian Syaf offers solid and exciting storytelling.

#9 – Action Comics (DC)

I went here because of Rags Morales’ art – I’d buy Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes if Rags drew the box – and I stayed for Grant Morrison’s innovative and engrossing script. This is the all-new young Superman, before he figured out what to wear on the job. It’s set well before the all-new older Superman in his eponymous title. I don’t know how this leads up to that, and I don’t care. This is supposed to hold up on its own, and it does. I’ll get over the slap in history’s face with the numbering (if such lasts); this is the best-produced Superman title in a decade-and-a-half.

#10 – To my friends who didn’t make this list: each of you came in tied for #10. Now go fight it out.

Notice how there aren’t any teevee or movie tie-ins? I never warmed up to that stuff. Not even as a kid. Which means it took me a while to realize Steve Ditko actually drew Hogan’s Heroes.

I have no doubt that within weeks at least two of the above-named will start to suck. Like all commercial media, comic books are subject to the whims of the lords and ladies of irony. But as a professional cynic, these titles and perhaps another half-dozen meet and exceed my bizarrely encrusted standards. Your opinions might differ, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong.

Of course not.

Extra: Happy birthday wishes to fellow columnist Marc Alan Fishman, who turns 30 today and, therefore, is old enough to know better. His son turns 0 in about a month.

Extra-Extra: Thanks to Gatekeeper Glenn for saving my life this year.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

Marvel Adds Three More Season One Books for Summer 2012

Marvel: Season One, a line of all-new graphic novels, just got bigger as Marvel is pleased to add three titles to the highly anticipated line-up with Ant-Man: Season One, Hulk: Season One & Doctor Strange: Season One! These all-new complete stories offer fans a chance to immerse themselves in the Marvel Universe like never before. Journey into the unknown with Ant-Man, learn about the mystic arts with Doctor Strange and find out how Hulk balances humanity and monstrosity as each of these graphic novels offer new revelations for long-time fans and give new readers a fresh introduction to the character. With modern retellings of the world’s greatest super heroes seminal origins by some of the most critically acclaimed creators in the business, no fan can miss this! Each of these graphic novels also include a code to download each book for free, via the Marvel Comics app, making them must haves for every fan.

“As a result of the great response from fans and retailers, we realized we couldn’t just stop with one wave of titles” said David Gabriel, Marvel SVP of Sales. “We’re showing our continued support for this line by insuring that fans have a reason to come back into comic shops month after month to get the next volumes in the Season One line of original graphic novels.”

The complete second wave of Season One graphic novels includes:

  • Ant-Man: Season One by Tom DeFalco (Spider-Girl) and Horacio Domingues (Incorruptible), on-sale in July 2012
  • Hulk: Season One by Fred Van Lente (Alpha Flight, Herc) and Tom Fowler (Venom), on-sale in August 2012
  • Doctor Strange: Season One by Greg Pak (Astonishing X-Men, Red Skull: Incarnate) and Emma Rios (Osborn, Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger), on-sale in September 2012

Whether you’re picking up a comic for the first time, or looking to add more to your comics reading experience, then it’s time to discover the world’s greatest super heroes all over again in Marvel: Season One!