Tagged: Teen Titans

The Return of the DC 100-PAGE GIANT!

If you’re of a certain generation, you remember the big summertime issues that your parents picked up for you on the way to whatever you were doing that required a long car ride to get there– comics that gave you new stories combined with older fare that brought you into a richer shared universe.

This summer, Walmart shoppers will get a chance to do that again as DC Entertainment announced today that a series of “giant” monthly comics will be sold exclusively in more than 3,000 participating Walmart stores around the country.

Available for $4.99, each 100-page anthology features all-new stories written exclusively for these books by some of DC’s top creative talents, including Tom King (BATMAN, MISTER MIRACLE, HEROES IN CRISIS), Dan Jurgens (ACTION COMICS, BATMAN BEYOND), Brian Michael Bendis (SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, THE MAN OF STEEL), Andy Kubert (NEW CHALLENGERS) and others. Each title will also include additional story arcs drawn from fan-favorite DC eras such as the New 52, Rebirth and the New Age of DC Heroes.

Each of the four titles – SUPERMAN GIANT, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT, BATMAN GIANT and TEEN TITANS GIANT – will arrive in stores by July 1. Beginning in August, the Superman and Justice League of America titles will arrive in week one of each month, with the second pair, Batman and Teen Titans, arriving approximately two weeks later.

“We are extraordinarily excited about working with Walmart to expand the reach of our books,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio.  “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series. It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”

The debut title lineup includes:

SUPERMAN GIANT #1

SUPERMAN GIANT #1 features chapter one of the two-part “Endurance,” an original story written by Jimmy Palmiotti (HARLEY QUINN, ACTION COMICS) with art by Tom Derenick (HARLEY QUINN, CYBORG, BATMAN/SUPERMAN). TheDaily Planet sends Clark Kent to Tornado Alley to do a story on the area, but when the storm hits, it turns out that this mild-mannered reporter is more helpful as Superman.

The issue also includes:

THE TERRIFICS #1­ (2018) – From this year’s New Age of Heroes and born of the events of DC’s hit series DARK NIGHTS: METAL. Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl are a team of heroes bound together by fate and united by the spirit of exploration and discovery. Together these heroes plumb the depths of the fantastic to learn what it means to become family.

GREEN LANTERN #1 (2005) – Written by best-selling writer Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver and Carlos Pacheco, this first chapter launches the fan-favorite three-part story “No Fear,” in which Hal Jordan makes his return to the DC Universe as the Green Lantern, casting the light of justice on the darkest corners of Space Sector 2814.

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #1 (2003) – The iconic fan-favorite story arc, “Public Enemies,” returns, courtesy of writer Jeph Loeb, with artists Ed McGuinness and Tim Sale. Batman and Superman unite when President Lex Luthor accuses the Man of Steel of a crime against humanity and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in by any means necessary.

September’s SUPERMAN GIANT #3 features Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King’s first return to the Man of Steel since his poignant and heartfelt tribute story, “For Tomorrow,” in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1000. Together with DC Master Class artist Andy Kubert, this powerhouse team will take readers on a new 12-part adventure titled “Up in the Sky!” When a little girl is kidnapped and taken from Earth, Superman embarks on a galaxy-spanning mission to find the perpetrators…but has to decide what lengths he will go to in order to save one life!

TEEN TITANS GIANT #1

In this original six-part Teen Titans story by Dan Jurgens with art by Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Jim Charalampidis, the Teen Titans’ pizza dinner is interrupted by the introduction of a new villain, the Disruptor. Teaming up with the Fearsome Five and working as an agent of H.I.V.E., he had one mission: kill the Teen Titans! The battle spills onto the streets of San Francisco, putting its citizens at risk, while H.I.V.E. uses this distraction to begin their plan for world conquest!

Additional issue #1 stories include:

SUPER SONS #1 (2017) – From DC’s smash-hit Rebirth event, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez reintroduce the sons of Superman and Batman, Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, in part one of “When I Grow Up.” As Robin, Damian’s more than ready to take his place at the heroes’ table and has zero plans to wait his turn. And he’s dragging Superman’s son along for the trip, whether Jon likes it or not!

SIDEWAYS #1 (2018) – Also from the New Age of Heroes, this story written by Dan DiDio with art by Kenneth Rocafort introduces fans to high schooler Derek James who, during the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, has acquired powers from the Dark Multiverse and stepped into the role of superhero! But when cracks begin to appear in the space-time continuum, he soon learns that with that much power comes even greater liability!

TEEN TITANS #1 (2003) – Written by best-selling author Geoff Johns with art by Mike McKone. Cyborg, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy welcome in a new roster of young heroes to train to defend humanity—Wonder Girl, Impulse and a Superboy who’s been cloned from Superman’s DNA!

BATMAN GIANT #1

Batman is on the case of a missing girl in “One More Chance,” an all-new story by writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Patrick “Patch” Zircher. Batman is the world’s greatest detective, but what happens when the trail in his newest case leads him back to a place from his past that he never expected to revisit?

BATMAN GIANT #1 also includes:

BATMAN #608 (2002) – Written by Jeph Loeb with art by comics icon Jim Lee, issue #608 kicks off “Batman: Hush,” one of the most popular storylines in the Dark Knight’s fabled history. When Batman sets out to unmask the mystery character wreaking havoc in his life, he teams up with an unexpected ally (Catwoman) and finds himself facing off against not only his deadliest foes, but some of the toughest characters in the DC Universe, including Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and even Superman!

NIGHTWING #1 (2011) – From DC’s New 52, this story by writer Kyle Higgins and artist Eddy Barrows debuted a new look for Dick Grayson as he dives into a tale of murder, mystery and superhuman evil against the backdrop of Haley’s Circus, the place that started him on his path from acrobat to orphan to sidekick and ultimately superhero!

HARLEY QUINN #1 (2011) – Also from the New 52, writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Amanda Conner break Harley Quinn out of The Joker’s shadow with all the force of a giant mallet!

Beginning with BATMAN GIANT #3 in September, superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis makes his DC debut on the Dark Knight with a 12-part story, “Universe.” Batman’s run-in with the Riddler leads the Caped Crusader into a mystery that spans the globe!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT #1

Justice League member Wonder Woman is spotlighted in “The Conversion,” an all-new story from NIGHTWING writer Tim Seeley and artists Rick Leonardi and Steve Buccellato. In this single-issue story, Wonder Woman comes face to face with Ares, god of war—who sees her as a promising new recruit!

JUSTICE LEAGUE GIANT #1 also includes:

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (2011) – From the incomparable team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee comes this version of the League from the New 52. In this alternative spin on the union of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, superheroes are a strange and new phenomenon. The mysterious Batman discovers a dark evil that requires him to unite these reluctant heroes to protect Earth from a cosmic-level threat!

THE FLASH #1 (2011) – In this New 52 version of the Fastest Man Alive, writer Brian Buccellato and artist Francis Manapul introduce Barry Allen to a villain who not only can be everywhere at once, but is also a close friend of the Scarlet Speedster!

AQUAMAN #1 (2011) – Award-winning writer Geoff Johns and dynamic artist Ivan Reis team up on this story from the New 52! Aquaman has given up the throne of Atlantis, but the sea still has plans for Arthur Curry as a broken race of undersea creatures, the Trench, emerges from the ocean depths, bent on destroying the surface world!

In issue #2, Seeley teams up with artists Felipe Watanabe and Chris Sotomayor on “Mother’s Day,” a stand-alone story where Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island for the first time since her exile, only to find that the Amazons – and Queen Hippolyta – have been abducted by Echidna, the mythological Mother of Monsters, with a brood of unstoppable beasts as children!

Issue #3 begins another original 12-part Wonder Woman story by HARLEY QUINN co-writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti called “Come Back to Me.” When Steve Trevor’s plane crashes on an island outside of time itself, it’s up to Wonder Woman to rescue him from this mysterious land, full of monsters, dinosaurs and some very surprising citizens.

Joe Corallo is Late To The Party

As I’m writing this column on Monday the 27th, it’s my grandpa’s birthday. He’s turning 80 and a lot of the family is flying down to Florida later this week to see him. In the mean, I’ve been working closely with some of the ComicMix team to get Mine! out the door which is in Previews as well as on BackerKit for pre-order. I’ve also been reading some comics I’ve been way behind on!

I got to finish the first volume of Black over the weekend. The team of Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, and Sarah Litt over at Black Mask Studios put together a book that takes on racial tensions with a superhero backdrop and absolutely no chill. Over the course of six issues we follow a young black man, Kareem, as he discovers not only does he have super powers, but so do many other black people. And that only black people have super powers.

For me, it takes until about halfway through issue two before the story really picks up a steam. Once the story gets moving though, the pacing gets very consistent and from issue four to the end you’re not going to want to put it down. Jamal Igle’s art in grayscale is absolutely gorgeous and helps make a few otherwise slow paced scenes of people sitting in a cell or an office very engaging. While the story is more likely to preach to the choir than to get some bigot to reexamine their backwards way of thinking, it’s still a great read and since the comic has been optioned you’ll wanna read it before the movie hits so you can be one of the cool kids.

Another series I finally got to crack into was Super Sons over at DC. Now, I was a little late to the party when Peter Tomasi was tackling Damian Wayne with the New 52’s Batman and Robin with Patrick Gleason. Peter’s work on Damian is honestly the best portrayal of the character I’ve read, and I say this as a huge Grant Morrison fan. The first arch of that Batman and Robin run had me sold and I kept up with that title for quite a while after, so seeing Peter back on Damian in Super Sons put this book on my radar right away.

Joined by the incredible artist Jorge Jimenez, Peter Tomasi tells us of the adventures of young Jon Kent a.k.a. Superboy and Damian Wayne aka Robin as they try to prove themselves to be just as capable as their super parents. As excited as I was to finally read this comic, it honestly surpassed my expectations.

Jon Kent is the perfect foil to Damian Wayne. The way the two interact with each other in their playful rivalry creates a fun dynamic that I wish I saw in more comics. Jon’s youth, height, and natural abilities get under Damian’s skin, but handles it better than the less mature Jon who wears his heart on his sleeve. As the two try to a nefarious plot, we watch as the two rib on each other. Jon has taken it personally that he wasn’t asked to be in the Teen Titans despite being a ten years old. One of my favorite moments is when Jon points out a mistake that Damian has made and he responds by saying he learns from his mistakes better than anyone.

Between the fantastic story and the gorgeous, fluid artwork, I can’t possibly recommend Super Sons enough. If you’ve been loving DC’s Rebirth and haven’t picked this title up yet, get on it. If you don’t read DC Comics, you seriously should consider picking this up too. And while there is some violence, it’s definitely more appropriate for some younger readers than a lot of other Big 2 comics out there.

Look, I know I was late to the party here. Luckily with trade paperbacks and comiXology you can never be too late to the party when it comes to comics.

John Ostrander: Sidekicking Around

Holmes and Watson. Lone Ranger and Tonto. Batman and Robin. Lucy and Ethel. Hamlet and Laertes. The list of heroes and their BFFs is long and overall an honorable one… and usually necessary.

A sidekick, at base, is a supporting character and a supporting character’s main function is to bring out aspects of the protagonist. In most cases, the sidekick is there so that the protagonist isn’t constantly monologuing. Granted, Hamlet is a champion monologuist but when Laertes is there he can be engaged in a dialogue. Holmes needs Watson so the reader can see how brilliant the Great Detective is. Whatever his other character traits may be, Watson’s prime one is to be surprised and amazed by Holmes and, in that, Watson represents us, the readers.

There are many different ways of interpreting a sidekick. Watson, for example, can be Nigel Bruce’s bumbling Colonel Blimp character or Jude Law’s testy and acerbic put-upon friend or Martin Freeman’s occasionally explosive but loyal best man. In the Harry Potter films, Ron Weasley, in the first film, is at one point both brave and self-sacrificing. In later films, however, he becomes cowardly and mostly comic relief, very like Nigel’s Bruce’s Watson.

Robin falls into a strange category of the child or teen sidekick. He was originally introduced to lighten up the Dark Knight Detective and, again, to give Batman someone to talk to rather than himself. Robin humanized the Bat. His popularity gave rise to a whole slew of child/teen associates such as Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad. Later, these five went from supporting characters to central ones when they formed their own super-team, the Teen Titans (later, just the Titans when they all outgrew their teenage years).

The original Robin, Dick Grayson, later grew out of his shorts and tights to become a full-fledged hero of his own, first as Nightwing and then later, briefly, actually taking Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman before reverting back to Nightwing. There have been other Robins since then, including one – Jason Todd – who was killed by the Joker. Don’t worry; he got better. The role is currently being filled by Bruce’s son, Damian. I believe he died as well at one point but is also now feeling better.

Moral and ethical questions have been raised about the whole idea of the adult hero having child/teen sidekicks. The lifestyle, after all, is inherently violent and rather dangerous. Frederic Wertham, in his suspect 1954 treatise Seduction of the Innocent, postulated Batman and Robin were gay which, given those times, was thought to be profoundly deviant. Wertham was blowing it out his ass but the damage was done at the time. Still, one can see that it was a dangerous life style to include the kids in. The questions remain.

For me, I’ve sometimes identified more with the sidekick than the protagonist. I love Holmes but I’ve always identified more with Watson (except for Nigel Bruce). Batman (and Bruce Wayne) is difficult to like but Dick Grayson (especially in his adult incarnations) is someone with whom I can more easily relate. I think sidekicks are designed that way. They put more human into super-human.

Martha Thomases: Change

Green ArrowThe drugstore on my corner, Avignon Pharmacy, went out of business over the weekend. We should have known the writing was on the wall when the pharmacy was sold a couple of years ago and the store just sold skin-care, shampoo, bandages and stuff like that. Still, the place had been in business, serving the neighborhood, since 1837. They were the place that could get that hard-to-find lotion, or the medicine the insurance company didn’t know existed. I’m going to miss them.

Change is hard.

Change isn’t just hard for old people like me. It’s hard for all of us. As the link says:

“The problem is that change involves ‘letting go of what we know to be the current reality, and embracing new thought,’ said Jaynelle F. Stichler, professor emeritus at San Diego State University’s School of Nursing. ‘Even something as seemingly mundane as changing the brand of toilet paper can cause a reaction.’”

Superhero comic book fans can be especially traumatized by change. A lot of us (by which I mean, of course, me) fell in love with comics as children, and any change in continuity seems like an assault on our sense of reality. Which is kind of ridiculous, given that superhero comics have hardly anything to do with reality.

I’ve been reading superhero comics since at least 1958. The Silver Age heroes are my touchstones. I loved the original Supergirl because she tried so hard to be helpful and good, just as I did when I was seven and eight years old. I also like the sillier of the trick arrows in Green Arrow’s quiver.

This isn’t to say that I’m against all change. I immediately preferred Barbara Gordon as Batgirl over Betty Kane. I loved the vision of Batman created by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. I liked the Wolfman/Pérez Teen Titans more than the original. The Vertigo Doom Patrol was, I thought, much better than the earlier versions.

Maybe because I’ve liked some changes, reboots and continuity lapses don’t upset me. If a story has a plot that moves and character development along with an engagement with thematic issues that appeal to me, I’ll like it. If I don’t like it, I’ll complain, probably, but I’ll also go look for something else to like. Maybe I’ll check back in a year or so to see if I like it again.

See, here’s the thing I learned when I worked in marketing at DC: every title is someone’s favorite. Books (and characters) I loathed were loved by others, and vice versa. Since I am, generally, in favor of more pleasure, I thought all kinds of people should have the books they wanted.

Giving everyone something different to read might be good for readers, but it doesn’t necessarily work for publishers. Traditionally, corporations make a lot more money from one title that sells 100,000 copies than they do from ten titles that each sell 10,000 copies, especially when these books are only on sale for a few weeks. However, the marketplace has changed enough now, with the growth of trade paperbacks and digital distribution, so that a title that starts slowly can build to sustain a committed and profitable fan base.

The advantage to these smaller audiences is that, taken together, they grow the size of the market so that everyone profits. And by growing the market incrementally, publishers can be much more experimental than they can with big blockbusters.

The movie business has shown us, recently, that putting all one’s creative eggs in the blockbuster basket can ultimately shrink the marketplace. For decades, Hollywood went after the young adult male market as if there was no one else on the planet who wanted to go to the movies. And that worked very well for a while.

Until it didn’t.

The top three grossing movies of the year so far have female leads. A movie aimed squarely at the over-50 market, trounced all the other movies that opened against it.

Blowing things up and super-powers are no longer enough to make a movie a hit. While I enjoy this kind of movie personally, I rejoice at more choices.

The conventional wisdom, that women won’t go to see action movies, especially if they feature female leads, has been convincingly proven wrong, as the conventional wisdom so often is. It turns out that girls and women enjoy watching a woman face a challenge, especially if it involves more than simply romance. It may take a few years to convince the men who run Hollywood, but I’m pretty sure they’ll come around.

Because if there is one thing that doesn’t change, it’s the media industry’s love of money.

 

Michael Davis: A Comic Book Tale – The Director’s Cut

Fair warning: this one is long and a bit sappy. I would, however consider it a personal favor if you would give it a read and send me a hug.

I need one.

OK, another version of this article will be appearing on Bleeding Cool but this is the Mike Gold special edition, chock full of what’s not in the BC article.

A week or so ago I was writing the fuck you article to beat all fuck you articles. You would think with the year I’m having, I’d be ranting away all the time but somehow that’s not been my aspiration. Nope. Some how I’ve avoided ranting anywhere but on Facebook. I don’t have a lot of Facebook friends as I choose to police my page like Ferguson P.D. so anyone I don’t know, I shoot down their friend request like a unarmed black kid.

Even there, I’m not as rant crazy as I was once. Lately I’ve just been sad, very sad and no one wants to read that so my articles have been, well, tame. I’ve been tame where I write and sad where I live.

Then I read the comedy stylings of Kevin Maher and it was on. Man, I’m writing what I think will be my rant masterpiece. I’m so pissed at this guy’s Esquire article I could scream. Except, I don’t really feel like screaming.

What, in the world of fuck, is wrong with me?

All, it seems, of my fire and brimstone, righteous, (or not even) indignation and could give a flying fuck attitude are gone. The Facebook rants? Those are like an exhibition game; as such, they don’t count.

As I did with my Spider-Woman – Milo Manara drew her ass is up in the air, so Marvel thinks girls are sluts – article I was going to wait to put both feet in the ass of Mr. Maher after everyone else had their moment. I wait because the comics industry still does not get it. This guy blasts the industry and what does the industry do?

They agree and tweets about it.

In case you’ve not aware, he thinks comics are just the lowest form of shit and Hollywood should treat them as such. He didn’t say that exactly but it was real close.

That was the start of the article. I went to town. Then Mike Gold sent me an email, just asking how I was. Out of the blue he did the one thing I needed at the exact time I needed it.

That’s when I needed to stop what I was writing and write this…

A True Story

My mother threw out a very good-condition copy of Superman #1.

She did not throw out the copy of John Byrne’s Superman #1; I did that after I met John. He turned out to be a dick. I kid! I joke! John has always been nice to me, although each time I see him I have to explain to him I’m not Denys Cowan.

It wasn’t John’s Superman or any of the who-knows-how-many #1’s and reboots the Man Of Steel has had. This was the granddaddy of the Superman #1’s. My mother threw out Superman #1 from 1939.

This, as it says above, I assure you, is an absolutely true story.

My mother Jean Davis, the inspiration for Static’s mom Jean Hawkins, was an incredible woman.

Raising my sister Sharon and me in what is considered one of the worst housing projects in New York City would have been a superhuman task for a full-time stay-at-home mom, even with support from a father.

A father? In the projects? You’d have more luck finding a black, gay ex-marine pastor at the Westboro Baptist Church. There was no father in my house. I knew one family with a dad, they were the Harrison’s – they were strange.

By herself, my mother was working seven days and two jobs to get us out of there.

She and the other single mothers in the hood were bona fide Superwomen. They knew well the one rule that may keep your kids alive in a crime-infested community: keep them off the streets.

One thing above all kept me off the streets: comic books.

“I don’t think so.”

That, in my most grown-up serious way, was what I said to my then-best friend Julian Butler. That was the very day I became a playa in the comic book world.

Julian wanted me to trade him my favorite comic book ever, Fantastic Four #73, guest-starring Thor, Spider-Man, and Daredevil, for a Batman comic that featured Batgirl.

This was a big deal because Batgirl was on the Batman TV show and this book was something everyone coveted. No way anybody would have traded that book except for something so cool you couldn’t resist.

That was Fantastic Four #73. The same FF #73 I almost broke a bully named Ronnie Williams’ back for. That’s another absolutely true story I wrote about some time ago. That should tell you how important that comic was to me.

Nowadays, characters show up in each other’s books so often you forget which book you’re reading. Not so back in my day – one guest star was a big deal, so imagine three, and the book was drawn by Jack Kirby. I was 10 years old and a huge comic book fan, and it’s all I thought I’d ever want in life.

Julian asked for FF#73 because he knew how badly I wanted that Batman comic. I did, but that wasn’t my real objective. My real objective was Fighting American, a another comic he had. This book was not put out by Marvel, but it was drawn by Jack Kirby in what looked like a new style. How could that be? All my comic book trading buddies could not believe weak-ass Harvey Comics was able to get Jack Kirby away from Marvel.

They didn’t. The book was a reprint of Fighting American stories drawn in the 50s by the King. But for all we knew, it was a new comic and new Kirby style. I wanted that book bad, and was willing to do what it took to get it.

And I got it, and I have my mother to thank for it.

“I’ll trade you FF#73 for Batman and Fighting American,” I said to Julian.

Fighting American was Julian’s favorite, Fantastic Four #73 was mine, and we both knew it. This deal was our AOL buys Time Warner, Disney buys Marvel – this was a deal no one ever thought would get done among my comic book pals. These two books were Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, and they weren’t going anywhere.

But, in a trade heard around the world (that world being P.S.105), we did it.

Julian traded me Fighting American and the Batman for FF#73.

That was the moment, even at 10 years old, I knew I would always get what I wanted in a comic book trade, all thanks to Jean. Yes, I called my mother Jean, it’s a black thing. That trade made me the Donald Trump of comics, at last claiming the best-trader title from my hated archenemy, Karl McKenzie.

From now on Karl would never stand a chance against me. He would fall just as Julian did because my mother told me the meaning of “ace in the hole.”

Earlier that day, my mother brought me home another copy of Fantastic Four #73 along with some other comics someone left at her nursing home job. I was going to give my copy to Julian, but she told me to trade it and not tell anyone about having two copies.

That brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, woman.

She knew how important my comic book collecting and trading were to me, and she helped with building my comic book empire. She became very interested in my hobby a few before, when she watched a news report about the comic she threw away, Superman #1.

The day I returned from spending the summer in Alabama, I made a beeline to my room looking for my prized possessions: Golden Age comics I had paid a cousin one dollar for. They included Captain Marvel, All-Flash, Superman, Daredevil, and a Justice Society.

I loved those books.

I looked everywhere for those comics only to discover my mother had thrown them out “because they were old.”

“Because they were old.”

I was devastated. Those books were irreplaceable, and at 10 I knew that. No 10-year-old should know what irreplaceable means. Knowing something you love is irreplaceable at 10 years old is a terrible cross to bear. My mother never really understood what those books meant to me. To her, they were just… old.

For months I was miserable and mad at my mother. One day we were watching the news when, during the broadcast, a report on how much Superman #1 sold for prompted my mother to ask me “How come you don’t have a comic like that?”

I said, “I did a comic like that, I had that comic.” My mother turned from the TV as quick as I’d ever seen anyone move. “What? You did? What happened to it??”

“You threw it away.”

She didn’t.

Superman #1 was not one of the Golden Age comics thrown away by my mother. I lied and didn’t feel one tiny weeny bit guilty. Over the years that became my get-out-of-jail free card for anything and everything. Anytime I needed some emotional ammo, I’d pull out the ol’ Superman #1 guilt.

I had every intention of telling her that it wasn’t Superman #1, but time ran out for me to do so when she died June 21st of last year. For three weeks my mom hung in there after having both her legs amputated due to a leg aneurysm, and I told her everything I could to keep her spirits up, saving the Superman story for when I really thought I would need it.

My mother Jean Davis was the real life inspiration for Jean Hawkins. Static’s mom had a great sense of humor and would have gotten a kick out of an almost 40-year old joke.

Joke’s on me. I waited too long.

The night before my mother died, she called me and left me a message telling me that I should let her go. She clearly knew I wanted her here. If I had not been asleep when she called, I’m sure I would have pulled out the Superman #1 guilt as a reason she couldn’t leave me. My mom would have gotten the irony and maybe stayed a while longer. When I got the phone call telling me she passed, I flashed back to packing up her apartment during the three weeks she tried, I’m absolutely sure for my sake, to stay on earth. The plan was to take her back to L.A. to live with me.

That was the plan, and as we all know, the best laid plans…

While going through a closet my childhood, which I thought I’d lost, hit me in the face. There, where I’d left and forgotten it 30 years ago, was my trunk. My trunk was a real WW II army footlocker given to me by my Uncle Red. I kept all my important possessions in there. I thought I’d lost it forever when a New York storage company sold the contents of my storage unit, in error.

I must have been a real asshole in my last life because karma is kicking my ass: I’ve lost the possessions I valued most three times. The things I own that I value most have no value to me monetarily, even if it’s a copy of Superman #2, which is the actual comic my mom threw away and must be worth, although I never checked, a great deal of money.

The value I assign to material things is always memories. Three times those things which preserved my strongest memories were lost to me.

The first time I’d felt that heartbreaking loss and despair was when my Golden Age books were thrown away. The second was when my complete Silver Age collection of Marvel and almost complete DC were, among other things, sold from that storage company. Sold because my credit card info was credited to another account. I found this out when I got a check from the storage for $123.00, which was what was leftover from the sale.

My collection was appraised in the high six figures. Because of a mistake, a near complete Marvel Silver age collection was gone, just like that. Most of the important books from DC’s silver age, including complete runs of the original Teen Titans, Doom Patrol and AGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Let’s just say some great shit was in there. That was in 2001, and that was the last time I set foot in the dealers’ room at the San Diego Comic Con. I can’t bring myself to see my remembrances hanging from a dealers wall.

I could care less about the monetary value – gone was most of my childhood and a great deal of my teenage and young adult years. My comics, school records, most of my artwork from when I was a kid, thru the High School Of Art & Design and Pratt Institute as well as tons of books, toys, and a great deal of my personal written history.

But with the discovery of my trunk, maybe some of my childhood could be salvaged.

It was.

Inside were about one hundred silver age books, including both Fighting American and Fantastic Four #73. How incredibly cool and just wonderful was this?

I forgot about the trunk again while planning my mother’s funeral. After the service I went back to L.A. I was in NYC for a month and there was nothing left for me to do until probate was done. I couldn’t go back to the apartment until I could prove I was legally able to remove my mother’s belongings.

Months passed and with each month I dreaded going back to Rochdale Village where my mother lived for 40 years. When the courts finally declared me her sole heir, NYC was hit by a blizzard and there was no way to get there, so I was unable to clear her apartment then. My second attempt was met with similar weather.

When I was ready for my third attempt, I’d managed to talk myself into a fairly decent place. After all, my mother was gone, but she left me a massive amount of love and would want me to try and be happy. Then, as if confirmation that she wanted me to try and be happy, I remembered waiting for me was a big slice of my childhood, secure in my trunk.

But it wasn’t waiting.

Once again the joke’s on me, and yet again everything thing I valued was gone.

Somehow Rochdale managed to evict my mother, treating her belongings as trash.

Seven months earlier, and every month since, management was made aware she was dead, I was her son and I gave them all manner of how to contact me.

They never contacted me, although I’d been in touch with them the entire time regarding the apartment. They were informed in writing, and I spoke to the management confirming my arrival each time in addition to the email.

Why?

Because I’m just fucking anal, nothing beats a paper trail, and just in case the other guy is an idiot. They evicted a dead woman, the other guy was.

Last year, my entire home flooded. State Farm, who I’ve paid for 20 years, filing only two small claims, one which was rejected, at first balked at my claim. Treating me as if it was my fault or my idea to flood my fucking home. After a month I got all up in their asses, then they paid.

Then they canceled my policy.

That was pretty bad but just the beginning of a series of unfortunate events that got worse from there. 2014 was the worst year of my life on a personal level – on the business side, could not have been better and that stopped exactly zero tears.

I start 2015 off with high hopes for a great year! This is the year a number of my long term projects will finally see the light of day.

So far in 2015, the agony that was Milestone 2.0, the end to a friendship I thought would never end, a betrayal of unimaginable scope, impending surgery and now my mother’s belongings thrown away like she meant nothing, have killed that high.

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger? Who comes up with this shit??

This is now the longest article I’ve ever written and damn if I don’t feel a little better after having written it. Writing this comics tale has kept me off the street and kept alive, albeit bittersweet, memories of a good friend, good times, and a mother who outsmarted her smart ass kid every single time, save one, but I needed Superman’s help that one time.

Speaking of Superman, I know I said this was a true story and except, Superman #1 was actually #2 it was true.

Please forgive me if put off by my fib, I’ve had a rough year. ;)

Thanks Mike.

 

 

 

Mindy Newell’s Year-End Bests And Worsts

So here we are at the end of 2014, which is the time for media folk to opine about the best and the worst of the year in all the different areas of our overcrowded, put-upon lives. So though I rarely think of myself as part of the media folk crowd, I’ll include me in that description for this column, since all of you have so kindly considered my words, thoughts, judgments, attitudes, and so forth important enough to peruse over the last twelve months.

So here we go, in no particular order, and not divided into “best” and “worst”…

I applaud Marvel Comics’ writer G. Willow Wilson (great name, by the way, so alliterative!) and artist Adrian Alphona for introducing the comics world to Kamala Khan, an American Muslim teenager from Jersey City, New Jersey. Kamala’s parents and family are traditional, observant Muslims (for the most part), but Kamala just wants to be what every teenage girl wants to be – not different from her peers. But she is. Not just because she’s Muslim. It’s because she’s also Ms. Marvel.

In a time when bigotry is rampant in these United States – our President is a Muslim Kenyan socialist dictator terrorist determined to destroy America, and, oh, by the way, he’s *gasp* B-L-A-C-K – I just absolutely love that the House of Ideas has embraced the opposite of the disease named xenophobia. There is no better cure.

Just a few weeks ago at my daughter’s birthday dinner, we got into a discussion of the state of music these days. I said that I think there is nothing out there that can compare to the music produced during the ‘60s, certainly nothing like the great concept albums of the Beatles, the Stones, and so forth. Not for the mass public, anyway. It’s all manufactured pop crap. Certainly nothing that is going to hold up to the test of time. Said brother Glenn, “So where do you think great popular art is being produced?”

“Television,” I said instantly. “We in a new ‘Golden Age.”

“When she’s right, she’s right,” said Glenn.

There’s been a lot of really fantastic television these days. Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Transparent, Outlander, and certainly comics are rocking our personal screens with The Flash, Arrow, Gotham, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. But my vote for the best TV show of 2014 – as if regular readers can’t guess before I type out the letters – is Homeland.

Homeland not only made everyone forget – well, sort of – Brody (for more see my earlier column on the series here), but it amped up the tension to equal the heyday of 24 – and beat Jack Bauer at his own game by never forgetting that it is also a study of the emotional, and psychological scars borne by those who serve their patriotism in the coldest of wars.

Best taking on of a role already inhabited by fan favorites: Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord in Doctor Who. David Tennant and Matt Smith made indelible marks on the saga of the Gallifreyan, between them raising the Doctor into the realms of a worldwide phenomenon shared by only two modern myths – Star Trek and Star Wars. I can well imagine the trepidation with which Mr. Capaldi must have felt when he was given the keys to the TARDIS, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t slept the night before the his debut premiered. But he made it his own; an original interpretation in which, im-not-so-ho, the Doctor had to figure out if, of if not, he’s a good man. “I don’t know,” said Clara. And I’m still not sure if the Doctor can accept that maybe he is, even if he did, at long last, salute Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

Politics and World Affairs 101. (Hey, you know me – I wasn’t going to let this topic slip away.) This year was definitely one that went way beyond any introductory college course. The most “do-nothing” Congress in the history of this country, all based – again, im-not-so-ho, on the biases held against our President. (Reference first sentence in fourth paragraph of this column, please.) ISIS, jihadist Crusaders determined to raise the Ottoman Empire from the dust of history using beheadings with modern-day scimitars and social media propaganda, is the biggest threat to any type of peace in the Middle East – and the world – since Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party. And yes, that is really how I feel.

Meanwhile Vladimir Putin seems determined to lead a new Soviet Union – and for those who may point out that the Russian economy is in freefall…well, countries have gone to war because of failed domestic policies. And homosexuals in Russia are the new scapegoat, replacing Jews.

Best (and worst) on the domestic front this year. It seems to me that the American people have finally woken up and are marching in protest again against our own “black boots” (not to reference Nazis again, but…) who – shades of the pre-Civil Rights Act era – seem to feel they have a right to kill black men and anyone else who doesn’t “salute” them fast enough. I only hope the protests continue to the level of the social activism in which I grew up during the ‘60’s, and now dwindle away like the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Worst “Oh, God, I knew this was going to happen” moment: “The Mystery of Malaysian Flight 370” was televised on CNN. Just waiting for it to show up as an episode of “Ancient Aliens” sometime in 2015.

Dumbest comics controversy of 2014 (though I can understand the uproar) was that cover. Yeah, you know the one I mean. Jessica Jones as Spider-Woman with her ass up in the air.

The other dumb comics controversy – the stupidest, I mean – was DC’s decision not to allow Batwoman to marry her long-time love, civil rights lawyer Maggie Sawyer. Not only does it reek of bigotry and ignorance, not only does it go against the biggest non-issue in recent American history, i.e., gay marriage, but it’s based on an edict that “no DC superhero is allowed to be married” as “heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives” because it would make for “less dramatic stories.” As if marriage is always a state of bliss. Um…no. And kudos to J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman for walking away from such ignoramity.

Most exposed comic character: Starfire. Once upon a time, back in the Wolfman-Pérez days of New Teen Titans, she was a nuanced character. Now she’s just…exposed.

Speaking of DC and stupidest. How about their contest concerning Harley Quinn? the company asked for tyro artists to draw a scene from Harley Quinn #0 which specifically asked for: “Harley sitting in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances, all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before her inevitable death. Her expression is one of, ‘Oh, well, I guess that’s it for me,’ and she has resigned herself to the moment is going to happen.”

Announced just before National Suicide Prevention Week.

Oh, wait, a lot of that happened in 2013.

Well, it’s still “worst of” bad news.

So what kind of stupidest stuff has DC done in 2014?

Turned Wonder Woman into a caricature of a feminist icon – whiney, spoiled, and bitchy.

Batgirl featured a literal “cartoon” of transgender characterization in the imposter Batgirl, who was actually a dangerous, deranged man. Um, btw, that’s not transgender. That’s cross-dressing. Either way, it was incredibly insulting to too many individuals. (The creative team of Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr apologized…and meant it.).

Merchandizing sexualized and insulting t-shirts with Superman “scoring” with Wonder Woman, and mottos like “Training To Be Batman’s Wife.”

Releasing a book for toddlers and early readers called “Superheroes Opposites” in which “Wonder Woman pushes a swing” with a little girl on it, while Superman, on the opposing page, “pulls the machine,” which looks like some combination of a Deere tractor and deep-sea oilrig. Anyway, it’s enormous and definitely very heavy. Yeah, I’ll be buying that book for my 15-month-old grandson soon.

DC sure isn’t Jenette Khan’s company anymore!

But DC didn’t just become the leading anti-feminist comics company in 2014. I found this at www.Whatculture.com:

2014 also saw DC leaning on some wonderfully old-school gimmicks to try and boost sales, including falling back into the nineties speculator boom trope of providing shiny covers to try and entice people into buying flagging books. They planned to provide 3D variant covers for climactic final issues of their year-long crossover event Future’s End, a process which apparently requires certain special chemicals.

One of which is called microcystin, and is highly toxic. Exactly the sort of thing you wouldn’t want to, say, get into a municipal water supply.” Woops, that’s exactly what happened though! Some sort of spill at the printing plant where the books were being published caused the deadly toxin to end up in Lake Eerie, which provides the water supply of eleven million coastal inhabitants in Northwestern Ohio.

Yes, DC poisoned the water supply of eleven million people. Lex Luthor would be proud.”

Okay, I’m sure DC comics weren’t the only books being published at the printing plant. But I just have three things to say:

How come stuff like this doesn’t happen at Marvel?

And, at least based on this list of “worsts,” I don’t think I’ll be working for DC anytime soon.

And, based on this list of “worsts,” I’m not sure I would want to.

 

Mindy Newell: Baby Mine

Baby mine, don’t you cry. / Baby mine, dry your eyes. / Rest your head close to my heart, never to part, / Baby of mine. • From Walt Disney’s “Dumbo”(1941), Words and Lyrics by Frank Churchill and Ned Washington

So Donna Troy is coming back.

Only this isn’t the vibrant, intelligent, powerful, and oh-so-very human – with all the foibles and strengths inherent in homo sapiens – young woman that I came to know and love back in the day when Marv Wolfman and George Pérez created and collaborated on The New Teen Titans.

This is a Donna created through the teamwork of Meredith and David Finch, who has been granted life through the dark arts, through black magic, and as she rises naked from the brewing miasma of a black cauldron, and so we react with fear and horror, our intrinsic fear of human sacrifice, blood ritual, and “unnatural” life causing us to recoil in horror and to whisper a psalm of David, to cross ourselves in supplication to God, to ward off this, this thing with shaking hands making patterns in the air, signs and symbols as ancient and as useless as our dead forefathers who huddled in fear on the plains of Africa as the light left the world and the darkness arose.

This thing is something forged in fire and brimstone. This thing is evil personified. This thing is wickedness beyond redemption.

This thing is sin come to life.

Yet once there was a woman, whose soul was dying from longing. Yet once there was a woman whose arms reached to hold nothing but empty air. Yet once there was a woman whose life was desolate with the silence of her home. And so this woman prayed to her gods for relief from this sorrowful existence, begged them to release her from her solitary misery.

She fasted in repentance; she washed only enough to ward off evil odor; and she put off wearing colors and smooth satins and silk, and dressed herself in haircloth and solemn hues. She ate sparingly, only enough to keep her alive, and took the bounties of her kitchen to the sick and needy among her sisters. And yet, for so long that Queen Hippolyta of Themiscrya lost track of the days, months, and years of her travail, the gods were silent.

And her Amazons whispered behind her back, and some thought that she must be overthrown, for she was mad, they said, and death will come to us all in following her, as surely as it did to the daughters of King Cecrops of Athens, who threw themselves from the Acropolis, or into the sea. But others calmed them, saying that the melancholia in their queen’s heart would find respite in their loyalty.

Then, one night the queen had a dream. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, came to her and whispered instructions into her ear. “Do not speak of this to anyone,” the winged herald said. “For if you do the gods will turn away from you and your life, such as it is, will continue in solitude as you watch your sisters and this paradise come to enmity and fall into entropy and chaos.

That morning the queen bathed once again in the milk of heifers, and had her attendants clothe her in the magnificence that was her due. She perfumed herself with the musk of roses and broke her fast with jellied eels and warm bread, and once again slaked her thirst with the waters of the Pool of Life. Her attendants asked her many questions, but, remembering the words of Hermes, she silenced them and sent them away.

Alone now, Hippolyta made her way to the shores of Paradise Island, where in a hidden cove she stripped herself of her finery. Naked, the queen made absolution to the gods, smearing her face with the mud of the ocean, and also over her womb and breasts. She knelt in the wet sand, and from that same mud formed the figure of a newborn babe.

And she prayed, repeating the words that Hermes had whispered in her dream.

The sky darkened and night fell upon Themiscrya, though it was noon. A cold wind blew and Hippolyta shivered as it battered her naked body. She looked up into the sky and saw that Selene, the goddess of the moon, had eclipsed Helios, the god of the sun, for this was the time of woman.

She looked back down upon the clay figure, and as she did so, she felt her breasts suddenly grow heavy and milk leaked from her nipples. A great pain spasmed through her loins and up into her uterus, and the queen lay down, crying out in a moment of fear as her legs drew up over her stomach and something moved within her body. For what seemed a lifetime Hippolyta lay there on the beach, wracked with pain, unable to stir afraid, sure that she was being punished for her arrogance in not accepting the fate woven for her by the Morai.

“Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, forgive me,” she groaned. “Forgive my presumption. Allow me to live to serve you and my Amazons.”

There was no answer.

And then there was a light, such a bright golden radiance, so that Hippolyta closed her eyes against it. And there were two voices.

“Do not be afraid, daughter,” said Leto, the goddess of motherhood.

“I am with you, as I am with all women at their time,” said Eileithya, the goddess of childhood.

Hippolyta opened her eyes. The goddesses, bathed in a glow that had no earthly source, stood before her.

“We have heard your prayers,” said Leto.

“And they are answered,” said Eilethya.

Suddenly the queen felt as if a great chariot lay at the doorway of her secret place, that place where no man had touched in so long. She felt, rather than saw, the two goddesses kneel on either side of her, then one was behind her and pushing her up into a sitting position, but taking the weight of Hippolyta upon herself. Opening her eyes, Hippolyta saw the other – was it Eilethya? – crouch before her, a blanket of silver cotton in her hands. “You must push now,” said the goddess. “Lean again Leto. She will be your rock.”

Hippolyta felt as though she was falling off a great cliff. From high above her, she heard the goddesses speak. Their brightness was as a pinprick in the darkness starting to envelop her.

“She will be the greatest of the Amazons, a gift not only to yourself, but to the world, for it is to the world she will belong.”

“A great warrior against the darkness, yet her soul and heart will be full of love,” said Eilethya. “All the glories and gifts of all the gods and goddesses of Olympus will be hers.”

“Her name will be Diana,” said Leto.

Warm salt water was in her nose and her mouth, and Hippolyta sat up with a start. The sun was warm on her hair and shoulders; it was noon, judging from the position of the sun; she was still in the cove, with only the sound of the surf and the cry of seagulls for company. Why had she come here? She had a memory of covering her face and parts of her body with mud, but reaching up to her cheek, there was nothing there except for a few wet grains of sand. She lifted her gown, which was soggy with ocean water. Her body was clean except for a few stray pieces of seaweed on her belly.

The queen shuddered. Had there truly been an eclipse? Had she dreamed it all? Or was she, as she knew many whispered, truly mad?

No.

That wasn’t the sound of seagulls.

A baby was crying somewhere.

But there had been no babies born in Themiscrya for millennia, not since the last children were born to those Amazons who had been raped by the men of Greece and Sparta in that terrible final war. A war which had led Queen Hippolyta – she herself raped by Hercules, though no child had resulted – to lead those surviving sisters who were willing to turn their back on what came to be known as “Man’s World” to Paradise. The immortal island.

The baby – if that was what it was–was still crying. Hippolyta followed the sound with her eyes.

There. Just where the surf met the sand. Something was lying there. Shakily, Hippolyta rose to her feet.

As she did so, she felt a warm gush of liquid spurt from her breasts, staining her gown. And a trickle of blood slid down her inner thigh. As if….

She stared down at the baby. It had black hair, black like the waters of the River Styx, and eyes were a strange green-blue, reflecting the color of the Aegean Sea where it met the Mesogeios.

The queen picked up the infant, who was wrapped in a blanket of very fine and very soft silver.

“Diana,” Hippolyta whispered.

The baby found the mother’s nipple, and nursed.

 

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #335: THE TEEN TITANS FLUNK CIVICS

Teen-Titans-2-415x280Once upon a time, there was a very bad man who got caught committing armed robbery. Caught red handed. But the very bad man was never brought to trial. Never convicted. Never even arrested. In fact, the bad man got away scott-free.

And no one lived happily ever after.

Except for the very bad man.

I wish this were only a fairy tale. It isn’t. (Isn’t, that is, if we pretend the adventures of the Teen Titans are real and not, in themselves, fairy tales. But if you grant me that little wish, then this story, unlike those stories where wishes are actually granted, isn’t a fairy tale.)

It was all there in cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and white  in Teen Titans v 5, # 3Beast Boy and Bunker were walking around New York’s Battery Park (which is a park in lower Manhattan and not the answer to that age-old question, where do you park your batteries). They were minding their own business when the very bad man pointed a gun at them, and demanded they empty their pockets.

As I doubt this was the preamble to a street magic act and the very bad man wasn’t about to produce a piece of paper inside a sealed envelope on which he had previously written the exact contents of Beast Boy’s and Bunker’s pockets, I must assume the very bad man was about to commit armed robbery. That’s what made him a very bad man.

Neither Beast Boy nor Bunker were inclined to give the very bad man the contents of their pockets, especially as they were both in costume so didn’t have any pockets. So instead, Bunker formed a massive psionic brick fist and punched the very bad man somewhere into the next panel. Bunker then said, in a rather self-congratulatory tone, “Far as I see it, I was doing my civic duty!” Bunker called the police on the cell phone he got from somewhere, but not his pockets as he didn’t have any, and told them, “A man tried to mug us in Battery Park. Oh no, he’s caught. No he won’t be going anywhere.” Then Beast Boy and Bunker calmly walked away from the scene of the crime, leaving the battered very bad man lying on the ground behind them, while Bunker said, with no small amount of pride, “See? One less criminal loose in New York. Already the streets feel safer!”

Bunker may have thought he was doing his civic duty, but his civic duty apparently included flunking middle-school Civics class. Let us, then, examine Bunker doing his civic duty from the perspective of a middle school civics class. Who can tell me what Bunker and Beast Boy did wrong?

Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

That’s right, Beast Boy and Bunker walked away from the scene of the crime before the police arrived. When the police got there, they found the very bad man lying battered on the ground and no one else around to give them a statement. At which point, the police helped the very bad man to his feet, asked him whether he was all right, inquired whether he wanted to press assault charges against whoever hit him, and then let the very bad man go on his merry way.

The police don’t know who called them to report the mugging. They didn’t know who to seek out for a statement about the incident. They didn’t know who the victim of the alleged mugging was. They didn’t have anyone to call as a witness in the very bad man’s trial.

Without any witnesses to call and testify about what happened, the police and the prosecution had no evidence to prove that the very bad man tried to rob anyone. Without any evidence, the police and prosecution couldn’t possibly get a conviction. There wouldn’t have been any point in bringing the very bad man to trial. In fact, without anyone around to give a statement, the police didn’t even have anyone to press charges, so they couldn’t even arrest the very bad man.

And, no, the police couldn’t testify that they received a phone call reporting a mugging and found the very bad man at the site of the reported mugging with a gun lying next to him. Not without violating the Sixth Amendment, they couldn’t have.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees all defendants in criminal trials the right to confront the witnesses against them. That means they get to cross-examine the people who accused them of whatever it was they were accused of doing. In the case of our very bad man, it would mean he would get to cross-examine the people who accused him of mugging them.

If the police tried to testify about the anonymous phone call that reported a mugging, the defense attorney, even a bad defense attorney – you know, the kind who airs low-budget commercials with doggerel rhyming slogan in between late-night infomercials – would know to object to the testimony as hearsay. The police would be testifying about someone who wasn’t in court and told them that the very bad man tried to mug them in order to prove the very bad man did, indeed, try to mug someone. That’s the very definition of hearsay, an out of court statement made by someone other than the witness in order to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

At least, that’s what I said the definition of hearsay was three columns ago, and I don’t think it’s changed in the past three weeks. Let me check…

Nope, it hasn’t. So the police wouldn’t be able to testify about the anonymous phone call and there would still be no evidence to prove the very bad man guilty of anything.

Tony Isabella once told me he always had his obligatory fight scenes take place in front of lots of people other than the masked super heroes for just this reason. So there would be lots of witnesses who could testify as to what the very bad men in his stories did and the very bad men would go to trial and would be convicted.

So, once upon a time, there was a very bad man who committed armed robberies only against people who flunked middle school civics. The very bad man enjoyed a long and prosperous career. And he lived happily ever after.

The end.

Martha Thomases: Criticizing Criticism

Thomases Art 140418This isn’t what I wanted to write about. I would much prefer to tell you about some hidden gem in the world of comics. Instead, once again, we’re going to slog through the mud.

A while ago, a writer, Janelle Asselin, wrote a critique of a Teen Titans cover for Comic Book Resources. The cover is an incoherent piece of art, and she described her problems with it. Her comments included art criticism (mostly centering on the lack of anatomical reality of the depiction of Wonder Girl, a teenager), sociopolitical criticism and observations on marketing. She suggested that sexualizing characters who are supposed to be minors was more than a little bit creepy. She pointed out is that Teen Titans is a book that has a great deal of potential to reach outside of the typical comics market because it was a popular cartoon series, one with a lot of female fans, and, from a marketing perspective, there was a lot of money to be made by doing a comic that might draw in some of that audience.

So, of course, all hell broke loose.

I didn’t read all 40 windows of comments. Life is too short. After I read a few screens, I got the drift. For one thing, many people don’t understand the difference between marketing and editorial. More to the point, guys don’t like it when you notice they’re being creepy. Especially when they’ve been bragging about the creepiness up until this point.

Example? Here’s a comment from someone code-named Rakzo: “It seems like we can’t enjoy sexy superheroes anymore.” Did you see what he did there? He said that because Asselin criticized the (unnatural and/or surgically enhanced) depiction of a teenage girl, somehow this became an authoritarian edict that was actively prohibiting him from doing something.

Now, there are a lot of things that people do sexually that aren’t my thing. If they announce this in a public forum, I will, if asked, admit to the occasional icks. Obviously, this varies with the fetish. Shoes? Not my thing, but have fun. Scat? Not my thing, please don’t tell me about it and clean up after yourself. Your list may be different from mine. That’s what makes being humans interesting.

Being sexually aroused by under-age girls? Please stop talking before I wonder if you’re a registered sex offender.

A few other commentators called Ravko on this, and replied, “Maybe, but that’s not my point, it seems like the comic community has become a place where being a prude is considered ‘cool’.” Because there is no one more oppressed than the poor pedophile.

While this was happening on CBR, there was a parallel nightmare on Twitter. In her Tumblr. Asselin describes how she was ridiculed and hassled. Her professionalism was called into question. So was her safety. She not only was dismissed as a “disgruntled former employee,” but she was also threatened with rape.

Yeah, that’s right. The proper response, when someone has a different opinion about a work of comic book cover art is to threaten that person with physical violence.

My pal Heidi MacDonald wrote a wonderful piece on her blog, in which she wonders why more men don’t speak out against this kind of hate speech. She’s not asking for censorship, just peer pressure. When a man demeans a woman in our profession simply because she is a woman, other men should call him out. That’s not radical. That’s good manners.

On a related note, I’m going to Awesome Con this weekend, an event I’ve never attended before. (Stop by and say hello!) In keeping with my obsession, I’ve noted that, of the 52 guests announced in the comics and literary field, only eight are women. This is a better percentage than lots of other shows, but still woefully non-representative of the number of women actually working in our industry.

And when I went to see what kind of programming they had, including the number of panels that included women as experts, I was struck by this one: “Part Time Writer, Full Time World. The panelists are all women (Lindsay Smith, Jean Marie Ward, and Janine K. Spendlove). The subject: “How do you balance a full time job, parenting, writing, and *perish the thought* actually having some hobbies or perhaps even a social life? Everyone handles it differently; come to find out tips and advice as to how.”

Gee, I wonder why there are no men on that panel. Obviously, they’ve got the full-time job/parenting/writing/hobby balance worked out. It would be really swell if they’d enlighten us ignorant women about how they do it.

Nick Cardy: 1920-2013

Nick CardyNick Cardy (October 16, 1920-November 23, 2013) died today after an illness. He was placed in hospice care over the weekend and leaves behind an enduring legacy of memorable artwork.

Born Nicholas Viscardi in New York City, he was raised on the Lower East Side and was already dabbling with art by the time he was six years old. He was painting and having his work published during his early teen years, taking free classes at the Boys Club of America.  Raised in an era of gorgeous magazine illustration, he found inspiration in the works of Charles Dana Gibson, Arthur Petty, Al Dorne, and John Gannon among others. He continued his studies at the School of Industrial Art where he met and befriended Al Plastino.

In 1937, he went to work for an ad agency but two years later joined the Eisner/Iger Studio and drew stories for a variety of publications, notably Quality Comics. Among his regular assignments were Sheena, Queen of the Jungle and Quicksilver. He saw Eisner as a mentor and later joined his solo studio, writing and drawing the Lady Luck feature for the back of The Spirit.

1968_showcase_76After leaving Eisner over a financial dispute, he joined Fiction House producing work for Fight Comics and Jungle Comics among others. Soon after, he served in World War from 1943-46, getting wounded and earning two purple hearts. He was assigned to the 66th Infantry Division, driving a tank in the armored cavalry. After his discharge, he met and married Ruth Houghby and they remained married until 1969. They had one son in 1955, Peter, who died in 2001.

Cardy returned to comic art, sharing studio space with Plastino and Jack Sparling, returning to Fiction House but adding in magazine work. He also took on illustrating the Casey Ruggles comic strip. In 1949, Burne Hogarth invited Cardy to take over drawing the Tarzan daily strip. He continued his work for multiple publishers, including National Comics in 1948. There, he began working for Murray Boltinoff on Gang Busters quickly adding other features.

As the 1950s dawned, he increasingly worked for National, also known as DC Comics. He took over as the main artist on Tomahawk and Congo Bill. During the early 1950s, he anglicized his name to Cardy after prejudice against his Italian heritage cost him assignments.

In 1960, Aquaman was given a tryout in Showcase with the hope he could sustain a title of his own. Ramona Fradon withdrew from the feature to raise her daughter so Cardy took over and became synonymous with the Sea King through the 1960s. And when the Teen Titans proved an enduring idea, he replaced Bruno Permiani as its artist as the group also gained their own title. During the decade his work grew more distinctive and his brilliant design sense made his covers true standouts. When Aquaman was optioned by Filmation for a Saturday morning series, he produced the character sheets for the animators.

ncardyc3When Dick Giordano was hired as an editor, Cardy lost Aquaman to Jim Aparo, although he remained on the covers for continuity. His free time was taken with the critically acclaimed Bat Lash. Cardy continued his experimenting with color and design, adding a cartoony approach that helped make the western distinctive. He also replaced Teen Titans with a long stretch on The Brave and the Bold, proving adept at not only Batman but the remainder of the DC Universe.

TeenTitans_14Under Editorial Director Carmine Infantino, Cardy grew in value to the company. Through the early 1970s Cardy became the line’s premier cover artist, giving the line a unified house style that was highly commercial.
Cardy was growing increasing discontented with comics and DC in particular so by 1975 he was ready to move on. Before leaving though, he did a series of paintings and illustrations for Marvel’s line of black and white magazines.

Modifying his name to Cardi, he reinvented himself as a commercial artist doing advertising work, largely in the film field. When he began doing convention appearances, he was rediscovered and became a popular guest at shows around the country. He excelled at commission work and remained good humored with fans. In July 2005, Cardy was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

His legacy as an illustrator and stylist has thankfully been collected in various DC Archives and Showcase Presents volumes letting modern day fans see one of the finest illustrators grow, evolve and get better through the years.

Our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and legions of fans.