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When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrT-bkNCXTI&w=560&h=349]

As far as I know, this book hasn’t been banned. Rather the opposite, so far: it was nominated for a National Book Award, and has won some other, more specific awards. But the week I read it acclaimed graphic-novelist-for-kids Jerry Craft was banned from a Dallas-area school for “critical race theory” [1], so I’m calling it now: the Usual Suspects will be protesting this book

, too, since it makes their little Kaydens and Buddies either “get lib’rul ideas” or whine that their teachers are being mean to them, depending on how stupid and/or indoctrinated any individual Kayden or Buddy is.

That may seem to have nothing to do with the book, but it’s not. Culture wars have no boundaries: they range through all of culture. Culture is what we live in. And the white supremacists are waging a very clear cultural war, with loud “will not replace us” messaging on national TV, aimed at people exactly like the co-author of this book.

When Stars Are Scattered is a book every Kayden and Buddy should read. As young as possible: maybe when they’re about seven, like Omar is at the beginning of this book. They should think about how they would live if they were refugees in a foreign country, with one parent dead and the other possibly lost forever. They should think about other kids: in their classes, in other parts of America, around the world. They should wonder what those kids are going through.

(To quote a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately, “if you think you’re at your limit, just remember what some folks survive .”)

This is a true story, more or less. From the afterwords by Omar Mohamed (who lived it, and shaped it into a story) and Victoria Jamieson (who turned the story into a script and the script into drawn pages), I think some characters are composites or somewhat fictional. But Omar is real. His brother Hassan, who can only say the word “Hooyo,” is real. The refugee camp Dadaab in Kenya, where hundreds of thousands have lived for up to three decades now, is real. And the civil war in Somalia, which is still going on, is real.

Omar was about four and his brother just a baby when they left Somalia. What happened that day isn’t revealed until late in this graphic novel, but I will tell you it opens three years later, with the two boys taking every chance they can get to look at new arrivals, hoping they will see their mother.

Scattered is mostly about life in the camp, and how Omar grows up there. It’s a grinding life: not enough food, very little to do, no clear possible escape. The dream of every refugee is to get out – some, like Omar, dream of going back to their lives before the war, but we get the sense that’s mostly children. Adults know that can never happen. The other dream is to get out: to be allowed to settle in some faraway country, Canada or America or somewhere in Europe. Only a few can get one of those slots: it’s a long process, full of paperwork and interviews, and there’s an element of competition to it.

And is your family situation worse than the others around you? Have you suffered more than them? Are you more worthy of being resettled somewhere overseas because of what you’ve been through?

And what does it do to a person and a society to have to think like that, to tell your story through that lens to UN interviewers?

Omar makes it through that world. This is a book for children; it has a happy ending. Omar is telling us this story, because he did make it out to America, and made the life he wanted. More than that, his adult life is devoted to helping other refugees, both the ones who made it to America and the ones back in Dadaab. It’s a good life, a life worth celebrating and spotlighting. I’m glad he and Jamieson were able to tell his story so cleanly and clearly, to an audience that needs to hear it.

And so, again, I want to see When Stars Are Scattered in every elementary school across the country. Especially the ones without people named “Omar,” or people who look like Omar Mohamed. That’s the way compassion and honesty wins the cultural wars: through true stories of different people, presented to an audience young enough to learn lessons of compassion and honesty.

[1] In case you don’t know, actual CRT is a graduate-level discipline, originated in law schools and also taught at the graduate level, to graduate students, in graduate schools of other kinds. It aims to untangle racial biases in things like historical criminal sentences.

It is in no way identical to “teaching white kids that kids of other races are also real people who you need to respect.” The latter should be base-level standard, but it’s what “conservative” parents are actually protesting, as seen in a telling quote from Connecticut, also this week: “helping kids of color to feel they belong has a negative effect on white, Christian, or conservative kids .”

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

2004 The Batman gets Blu-Ray Treatment

2004 The Batman gets Blu-Ray Treatment

BURBANK, CA (November 16, 2021) –  The early years of the Caped Crusader get a closer examination as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings the fully-remastered The Batman: The Complete Series to Blu-ray for the very first time. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the 65-episode box set will be distributed February 1, 2022 by WBHE on Blu-ray+Digital ($69.99 SRP) in the United States, and a Blu-ray only package ($79.98 SRP) in Canada.

The six-time Emmyâ Award-winning series premiered on September 11, 2004 on Kids’ WB before eventually shifting to Cartoon Network for subsequent seasons. The Batman: The Complete Series follows 20-something-year-old Bruce Wayne’s early adventures as he balances his daytime persona as a bachelor billionaire with his nighttime guise as a caped crimefighter. Along the way, Batman is joined by allies Robin and Batgirl as they combat Gotham City’s Rogues’ Gallery, including updated versions of his familiar foes as well as a bevy of rarely seen villains like Killer Moth and The Everywhere Man. Join one of the most complex and intriguing character in comic book history for action-packed super heroic adventures that test the limits of this legendary character’s extraordinary physical prowess and super-sleuthing skills.

Executive Producer Alan Burnett led an extremely talented team that included producers Glen Murakami, Jeff Matsuda and Linda Steiner, and supervising producers Michael Goguen and Duane Capizzi. Brandon Vietti anchored a group of eight series directors, while the episode writers featured an all-star roster of scribes including Bob Goodman, Paul Dini, Stan Berkowitz, Steven Melching, Greg Weisman, Joseph Kuhr, Michael Jelenic, Jane Espenson, Paul Giacoppo and Len Uhley.

Rino Romano (Spider-Man Unlimited, Curious George) heads the cast as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Romano is joined by Evan Sabara (The Polar Express) as Dick Grayson/Robin, Danielle Judovits (Naruto: Shippûden) as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl

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, Kevin Michael Richardson (The Simpsons, American Dad!) as the Joker, Ming-Na Wen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Book of Boba Fett) as Detective Ellen Yin, Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) as The Penguin, Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Dexter: New Blood) as Mr. Freeze, Alastair Duncan (Batman: The Long Halloween) as Alfred, Gina Gershon (Face/Off, Showgirls) as Catwoman, Jason Marsden (Transformers: Rescue Bots, Young Justice) as Firefly, Steve Harris (The Practice) as Detective Ethan Bennett/Clayface, Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files) as Commissioner James Gordon, and Adam West (Batman) as Mayor Grange.

Stars of cinema and primetime television populate the voice cast, which featured Louis Gossett Jr. (Lucius Fox), Mark Hamill (Tony Zucco), Chris Pratt (Jake), Dana Delany (Lois Lane), Ron Perlman (Killer Croc), George Newbern (Superman), Brooke Shields (Julie), Robert Englund (The Riddler), Brandon Routh (Everywhere Man), Peter MacNicol (Dr. Kirk Langstrom), Frank Gorshin (Hugo Strange), Diedrich Bader (Captain Slash), Patrick Warburton (Cash Tankinson), Jerry O’Connell (Nightwing), Dorian Harewood (Martian Manhunter), Billie Hayes (Georgia), Wallace Langham (Basil Karlo), Gwendoline Yeo (Mercy Graves), Edward James Olmos (Chief Angel Rojas), Christopher Gorham (William Mallery), Xander Berkeley (Paul), James Remar (Black Mask), John Larroquette (Mirror Master), Patton Oswalt (Cosmo Krank), Fred Willard (Instructor), Robert Patrick (Hawkman), Dermot Mulroney (Green Lantern), Keone Young (Hideo Katsu), Ian Abercrombie (Ewan), Dave Foley (Francis Grey), Miguel Ferrer (Sinestro), Henry Gibson (Bagley), Edie McClurg (Mrs. Brown), David Faustino (David), Kevin Grevioux (Solomon Grundy) and Glenn Shadix (Artie Brown).

In addition, the series featured a who’s who of popular actors destined for the voice actor hall of fame, including Phil LaMarr, Hynden Walch, Kevin Conroy, Jeff Bennett, Daran Norris, Lex Lang, Dan Castellaneta, Grey Griffin, Charlie Schlatter, Will Friedle, Townsend Coleman, Kath Soucie, Peter Jessop, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, Jim Meskimen, Jim Cummings, Jennifer Hale, John DiMaggio, Cathy Cavadini, Bumper Robinson, Dee Bradley Baker, Carlos Alazraqui and Patrick Seitz.

The Batman: The Complete SeriesSpecial Features

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  • The Dark Dynasty Continues (New Featurette) – Explore the relationship between The Batman and his allies as he evolves from mysterious vigilante to the World’s Greatest Detective.
  • Joining Forces: The Batman’s Legendary Team-Ups (Featurette) – How the series’ producers adapted the DC “Team-Up-Tales” approach from the comic books to the screen.
  • The Batman Junior Detective Challenge (Quiz) – Alfred tests your detective skills with The Batman: The Complete Series challenge.
  • The Batman Junior Detective Exam: Level 2 (Quiz) – Pass The Batman test of knowledge with the level 2 exam.
  • Building Batman (Featurette) – Detective Ellen Yin investigates The Batman’s true identity.
  • Gotham PD Case Files (Featurette) – Highly confidential profiles of The Batman’s most dastardly foes.
  • New Look, New Direction, New Knight (Featurette) – Go behind the scenes to explore the development of The Batman television series.
  • The Batman: Season 3 Unmasked (Featurette) – Supervising Producer Duane Capizzi talks about the animated series.
  • The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked (Featurette) – A behind the scenes look into the making of Season 4.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, and Moonage Daydreams by Michael Allred, Steve Horton, and Laura Allred

“Rayguns?” That’s important enough to make the title? Stardust, sure, though more in the Ziggy sense than the “we are all” sense. And Moonage Daydreams, why of course. But why rayguns?

If I had been the editor of this book, I would have asked, “Why not “Starmen?” Or maybe “Pretty Things.” Even “Space Oddities,” though that would be a bit on-the-nose.

(Note: I am pretty sure my willingness to ask dumb questions was not instrumental in being cast out of the world of Sfnal Editorial work. Pretty sure. Yeah.)

But that’s the title we have, even though (he said, hitting the tedious point for the last time, he promises) there are no rayguns in this book. Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, and Moonage Daydreams . A biographical graphic novel about the chap born David Jones, but better known under his stage name. Primarily focused on the creation of and tour following the The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars record from 1972.

(And, frankly, I’m pretty sure someone, at some time during the creation of this book, lamented that the perfect title had already been taken, by that album. And maybe someone toyed with the idea of re-using the title.)

It’s drawn by Michael Allred and colored by Laura Allred. The script seems to be, from M. Allred’s afterword, mostly by Steve Horton

, working from an Allred outline and list of important story beats, and then extensively worked over by both of them. (Horton did a lot of work, definitely, even if the art is all Allred and the words are at least somewhat Allred.)

It opens on the last night of the Ziggy tour, in 1973, in London. That’s our frame: it leaps back to show Bowie’s early career up to that point, in at least sketchy form. Unlike a lot of biographical stories, it doesn’t get into childhood at all: there’s a montage of David Jones At Various Youthful Ages on the first page, but that’s literally it. Instead, it’s all career: what he recorded when, who he worked with, who he knew and bounced off in London in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Horton and Allred get a bit name-dropp-y with that, frankly, as they try to show that Bowie was the center of everything and influential on everyone and the best musician of any kind ever. I mean, I get that they love Bowie and especially this period: you don’t spend months or years on a project like this without that level of love. But a bit of context goes a long way, and a bit of idol-worship is more than enough.

It’s also all more than a little compressed: Horton and Allred are huge fans, so they’re trying to get every last moment and idea in that they can, and the book comes across a bit staccato because of that. If you are a huge Bowie fan, that will be great: you don’t need context, and it gives you more recognizable moments and ideas. For those of us who are more vaguely Bowie-positive, it’s a flood of panels, many of which seems to be heading off in different directions to tell us something else.

Allred also drops into phantasmagoria a few times, in what may be meant to be chapter breaks and an extended visual overview of Bowie’s later career at the end. These are wordless pages, crammed with images, most but not quite all of them images of Bowie in various guises and stages of his career. They are gorgeous and impressive and stunning, but not really comics, since they deliberately don’t tell any story.

All in all, this is a book that is better the more of a Bowie fan you are. Not a fan at all: you will be bored and confused. Enjoy his music: it will be pleasant and enjoyable, though maybe a little much. Huge Ziggy-era stan: you will love it, though probably also find things to nitpick, because stans must always stan.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The Law Is A Ass #457: We Play Blind Man’s “Bluff City Law”

The Law Is A Ass #457: We Play Blind Man’s “Bluff City Law”

There’s wrong, there’s really wrong, there’s Cats the motion picture wrong, there’s wanting to release Cats the Butthole Cut wrong. And then there’s the “Pilot” episode of Bluff City Law.

You may not remember Bluff City Law

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, as the legal drama only aired on NBC in the fall of 2019 for all of 10 weeks. It starred Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait, the head of a plaintiff’s law firm in Memphis, Tennessee. (Apparently Memphis is nicknamed Bluff City, I’m guessing more for its geographic location than the Poker playing ability of the river boat gamblers who once trod her streets.) It also starred Caitlin McGee as Elijah’s estranged daughter Sydney. Why were they estranged? Doesn’t matter. Seriously, if people cared why they were estranged, the show would have lasted more than 10 episodes.

What is important is that Elijah and Sydney teamed up to try a lawsuit on behalf of Edward Soriano, a public school groundskeeper who was suing giant chemical consortium Amerifarm for covering up the fact that their weed killer Greencoat caused his cancer. I’m assuming the show ran the standard disclaimers somewhere, but I can assure you that any similarity between this story and the weed killer Roundup were about as coincidental as the similarity between Barack Obama’s presidential portrait and Barack Obama.

As is always the case in shows like this, the case didn’t go well for the Soriano side. As Amerifarm had won sixty-eight Greencoat lawsuits to date, things must have been going wrong for lots of plaintiffs’ attorneys. But we’re only interested in what things went wrong in the Soriano case.

The Straits called three expert cancer witnesses. Amerifarm objected on the grounds that the witnesses might be experts on cancer, but they never studied Greencoat, so couldn’t prove it caused Soriano’s cancer. The judge sustained the objections and none of the experts testified.

For some reason, the Straits never argued their experts would testify about what caused cancer in general, then their next witnesses, who did study Greencoat, and would link up general cancer theory with Greencoat to show it caused Soriano’s cancer. To be fair, I have to confess the reason the Straits didn’t make this argument wasn’t as nonspecific as “for some reason.” There was a very specific reason they didn’t make this argument.

They had no follow up witnesses!

Let me say that again so it can sink in like concrete galoshes in Lake Michigan; the elite plaintiffs’ law firm that was trying to prove a chemical company’s weed killer caused Edger Soriano’s cancer had no expert witnesses who had studied the weed killer so could testify that Greencoat caused cancer. I’d hate to see the firm’s Yelp reviews.

Fortunately the Straits had a TV trope on their side; internet-savvy investigators who didn’t even have time to finish saying, “Let me see if I can hack this site,” before announcing, “I’m in.” The investigators found Dr. Nancy Deemer, a former research chemist for Amerifarm whose tests proved Greencoat was “five hundred times more carcinogenic than cigarettes.”

Amerifarm objected to Dr. Deemer’s testimony because the plaintiffs wanted Dr. Deemer to testify “about the results of tests that there’s no record of. It’s impossible for us to impeach her testimony and it’s prejudicial to the point of farce.” Elijah pointed out that the reason there were no records is that Amerifarm destroyed the records. The judge ruled that Elijah made “a compelling argument. However with no way to support or impeach what Dr. Deemer would say I must side with the defense,” and wouldn’t let Dr. Deemer testify about any tests she had performed.

Funny, I remember law school teaching that everyone had the right to cross-examine witnesses, but I don’t remember any lesson saying everyone had the right to be able to impeach a witness. Sometimes witnesses don’t have anything in their background that allows them to be impeached. That doesn’t mean that the witnesses can’t be called as witnesses, it only means opposing counsel will have a harder time in its cross-examination.

Moreover, if Amerifarm didn’t want anyone to see certain test results so destroyed the very records its attorneys needed to impeach a witness, that kind of violates the centuries-old legal principle that one must have clean hands to come into equity. Arguing that, Dr. Deemer shouldn’t be allowed to testify, because we destroyed the tests we need to impeach her is kind of like Jeffrey Dahmer arguing he shouldn’t be tried for murder, because he couldn’t cross-examine the victims.

Sydney asked Dr. Deemer a simple question, was there anything she wanted to say to Edgar Soriano and his family? Dr. Deemer looked the Sorianos in the eye and said she wanted to tell them she was sorry. Then as the defense objected and the judge sustained the objection and ordered the jury to disregard Dr. Deemer’s testimony, Dr. Deemer continued by saying “This did not have to happen. They knew that this was dangerous. They came to my lab.”

Later, the jury returned its verdict. It found in favor of Edgar Soriano and awarded him 1.4 million dollars in compensatory damages and 45 million dollars in punitive damages.

So, yay! Happy ending.

Except, no. Wouldn’t happen. Not in any court in the land. But you knew that already. Why else would I even be here today, if that verdict weren’t complete garbage?

In the first place, the jury would never even have deliberated in this case. The Straits offered no evidence that proved Greencoat or Amerifarm caused Soriano’s cancer. Literally, no evidence. The court didn’t allow any of their expert witnesses to testify and ordered the jury to disregard Dr. Deemer’s testimony.

In every civil trial, the defense will, as a matter of form, move for something called a directed verdict after the plaintiff has presented its case. When, as in this trial, the plaintiff offered no evidence to prove its case, the judge will grant the directed verdict and direct the jury to return a verdict in favor of the defense. So Soriano would have lost right after the Straits presented his case.

Even if, for some unfathomable reason, the judge allowed a case in which the plaintiffs offered no evidence to go to the jury and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, after the verdict the defense would move for something called a JNOV, from the Latin phrase non obstante verdicto, or Judgment Not Withstanding the Verdict. It’s a motion in which the defense argues that despite the jury’s verdict, it is entitled to a judgment in its favor as a matter of law.

In this case, Amerifarm would again, and correctly, argue that the Straits didn’t offer any evidence linking it or Greencoat to Soriano’s cancer, so the judge would be required to grant the motion, overturn the verdict, and return a verdict in Amerifarm’s favor. So Soriano would have lost again after the jury verdict.

And if for some reason the trial judge didn’t grant the JNOV, Soriano would have lost on appeal. A court of appeals would have reversed that verdict faster than I could figure out how to pronounce non obstante verdicto.

When all was said and done, Amerifarm would have been 69 and 0, because the Straits hadn’t said or done anything. Not only would Amerifarm have won, Sydney might then be brought up on disciplinary charges for her improper question to Dr. Deemer. And then Soriano would have sued the Straits for malpractice.

So I guess there’d be was a happy ending, after all. Because a malpractice suit against the Straits? That case Mr. Soriano would win.

REVIEW: Fantastic Four No. 1: Panel by Panel

REVIEW: Fantastic Four No. 1: Panel by Panel

Fantastic Four No. 1: Panel by Panel

By Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, Mark Evanier, and Tom Brevoort

Abrams ComicsArts, 240 pages, $40

The first title to usher in the Marvel Age of Comics has been previously annotated in other books, most notably one five years ago. But here, designer Chip Kidd does his usual in-depth look with incredible blow-ups of each panel of each page of the story that introduced us to Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm, and Benjamin J. Grimm.

The vast majority of the book is filled with these detailed looks, shot by Geoff Spear from a 1961 copy of the comic. It’s an interesting look, forcing you to examine things in extreme close-up, so much so that some panels lose detail in the spine.

It’s all too much and somewhat overwhelms you visually. And then, when we get to the meat of the book, Tom Brevoort’s analytical breakdown of the comic, we’re given thumbnails whle the text asks us to look at details requiring you to flip back to the specific blown up panel or past the essay to the page by page reproduction of the comic, which bookends the hardcover.

Brevoort has been studying the comic for some time over at his always entertaining blog and has revised those posts here for what should be considered a definitive examination; that is, until the original art is ever located. He notes theories that have been bandied about for decades whether or not the story was intended for one of the anthology titles before publisher Martin Goodman moved it to a new title or if the FF were shoehorned into an existing Mole Man versus mankind story, a hallmark of that Atlas Comics era which stretched through the latter 1950s. He notes where art extensions (credited for the most part to production manager Sol Brodsky) were likely done and where penciller Jack Kirby’s routine layouts were changed, likely by writer/editor Stan Lee.

It all makes for fascinating reading but the page by page analysis really belonged with the page by page reproductions not the thumbnails. This design misfire mars a handsome, albeit expensive, book for what it is.

Brevoort’s notes along with the essay from Mark Evanier, even-handedly examines what Lee and Kirby likely brought to the characters and story. They even seem to definitively identify George Klein as the inker, settling a debate that has raged for decades. Acknowledgement is given to the conflicting claims about which creator did what and I agree with Evanier that credit has to be equally shared since

, after all, none of us were there when they worked on the project.

Finally, there is the short typed outline that Lee first showed Roy Thomas in 1966 and some conjecture is provided as to why Lee wrote it.

All in all the information provided in one place is a fine tribute to the 60th anniversary of this seminal release. As with most Abrams ComicArts releases, the production values are high, the glossy paper thick, and the overall package handsome. Yes, you’ve seen some or all this before but having it all in one place makes for a nice addition to your comics library.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? by Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, and Nathan Fairbairn

I have generally not been in favor of Big Two superhero comics going “realistic.” That’s mostly because what counts as realism in superhero comics looks more like cynicism or nihilism from any other point of view, and because superhero comics are inherently one of the very most artificial artforms ever devised by the hand of man.

So I’m happy to point out that Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? is very artificial, and revels in it. The only other series I’ve seen that has as many introducing-this-character-with-their-fantastic-logo! boxes is Paul Grist’s deeply quirky Jack Staff. But this book does that trick one better: the person being introduced every single time is Mr. James Olsen himself, our hero and main character, in an unending sequence of sillier and sillier locutions about Superman’s wingman.

(I’m pretty sure I remember “Superman’s wingman” somewhere in the middle there. Nearly every way you could think to describe the Olsen boy are already in this book.)

Perhaps I should back up slightly.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen was a famous Silver Age title, from the era where comics were flagrantly artificial and their audiences were assumed to be entirely made up of children who would age out within a year or three. It ran for twenty years, and regularly turns up in random internet “have you ever seen this insane thing?” collections. (Two words: Goody Rickles.)

And Jimmy, as a character, is closely associated with that era. He doesn’t get the full-force opprobrium directed at some kid sidekicks, since he was intermittently depicted as an actual adult (if a juvenile, silly, easily-distracted one) and had an actual job that made sense in the context of the comics. But he was often comic relief in core Superman stories, and his own title was, to use a technical term, regularly batshit crazy (in the best possible way).

So Mr. Jimmy Olson comes with some baggage. And the 2019 series about him – by writer Matt Fraction, artist Steve Lieber, and colorist Nathan Fairbairn; collected as Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olson: Who Killed  Jimmy Olsen?  – leans heavily into the silliness, providing not just a goofy Jimmy, but a very weird take on Batman, an extended Olsen family with shocking connections to Lex Luthor (who also gets an extended family), the aforementioned massive number of story-introducing boxes, and a lot of just plain goofiness.

For example: the book opens with a story from some piece of product entitled Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1, which I gather from context was some kind of crossover event thingy. (“Crossover event thingy” is a technical term in corporate comics.) In that story, Olson wakes up in Gorilla City, surprisingly married to an interdimensional jewel thief after a long night of drinking gorilla-strength champagne, and ends up in the possession of a cat that vomits astoundingly large and sustained streams of blood. Complications quickly ensue.

This all seems like random goofiness. Nearly all of it will become very important to the overall plot of Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? Note: I am not saying any of it becomes any less goofy.

The actual plot of the main story takes a while to coalesce, and is told out of chronological order. My sense is the playing-with-time stuff isn’t to be daring or stylistically inventive; it’s just another way to be randomly goofy and confusing. I liked and appreciated all of it; those who like more straightforward superhero stories may be annoyed or bored.

So we get Jimmy causing trouble, having to flee Metropolis for Gotham City, having his Life Model Decoy (named something slightly different I don’t want to dig through all the pages to find) “murdered,” and hiding out as an oddball “modern” version of himself (Timmy Olson, cringe YouTube sensation!). We also see Jimmy’s fabulously wealthy family (stuck-up brother, boho playwright sister), Jimmy’s deep family history (return to the frontier days of New Obsterstad with the feud of the Olsson and Alexander families!), Lex Luthor lurking around the edges of the story doing that I-am-such-a-villain hand-wringing gesture, Jimmy’s landlord/lawyer, a very silly very minor villain, an interdimensional would-be conqueror, and a rapidly-increasing death count of people close to Jimmy.

Again, we don’t get any of that in order: we get bits and pieces of all of it, smash-cutting from one Jimmy Olson story intro to another, and it all coalesces about halfway through this twelve-issue miniseries.

To my mind, if you’re going to do a superhero story, or even a story set in a superhero world (this is more of the latter; Jimmy is always central, and most of the important characters don’t have powers), you need to be at least halfway lighthearted. We all know every ending will be happy, all deaths are temporary, and all drama is momentary. And Who Killed gets that tone right: it doesn’t make fun of its own story too much, but it doesn’t try to pretend this is about the fate of the world, either.

To my mind, this is what good comics in a superhero milieu looks like: fun, with consequences to actions but not overly invested in them, full of random oddities and an overall sense of possibility.

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Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Part I by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, (and in smaller letters) Dave Stewart and Todd Klein

Hey! Shit actually happens in this book! And those things largely validate my “get off the pot and actually say XYZ” grumblings from the previous books, which also makes me happy. [1] Once again, I’m not claiming any great powers of reasoning or insight: this is a pastiche superhero comic, and the plot beats are thuddingly obvious. They were just massively delayed for reasons that I tend to believe owed more to “I want to tell some only vaguely related stories first” than “this Other Stuff is actually important.”

This book follows the first two Black Hammer books (one and two ) and the very much sidebar (and baroquely-titled) books about Sherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star Doctor Andromeda (my post will go live in three days as I type this; let’s see if I remember to add the link!). And it leads pretty directly, I expect – with the caveat this this series has been all about the fakeouts leading to extensive unrelated flashbacks up to this point – into the next volume, which is titled Age of Doom, Part II.

(There’s no third volume of Age of Doom, which could be ominous, but there are seven more volumes after that. They could all be flashbacks – Black Hammer ’45 pretty obviously is, for one – but I choose to believe that even this series will move forward in time once it exhausts all other options.)

Anyway, this is called Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Part I  but, as I just pointed out in tedious detail, it’s not actually “Part 1” of anything. It’s either part three (of the linear story) or part five (of all previous volumes). Like the rest of the main series to this point, it’s written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Dean Ormston, assisted by colorist Dave Stewart and letterer Todd Klein.

And it’s still stuck on the moment at the end of the first volume, when the new spunky female Black Hammer arrived on “The Farm” from Spiral City, discovering the five or six superheroes living there (do we count Talky Walky? I do) after The Event and we the audience saw one of those supposed heroes, the witchy Madame Dragonfly, immediately steal Hammer’s memories for what we have to assume are nefarious purposes.

(Note that we get a different flashback version of that scene in this volume, following the big “everything you know is wrong” moment, and the new version means that the old version could not have possibly happened that way…which is really annoyingly lazy storytelling.)

So we open  this book with another return to the moment where Hammer announcing she’s remembered everything and is going to have a reckoning, and she of course immediately disappears. (Gotta keep the tension up somehow!) From there, we get a couple issues of Hammer in various weird worlds (first a transparent ripoff of the bar between worlds from the end of Sandman, then not-DC Hell and a couple of other mystical places, just in case any of the slower readers aren’t convinced Dragonfly is behind it), while the main cast decide to figure this out and get sidetracked by their various inamorata deciding that, yeah, OK, we can have sex now.

Again, Lemire is making it clear, even to the slower kids in the back, that the two reality-warping characters are…what’s that again? oh, yeah, warping reality.

Eventually, in time for the last of the five issues collected here, we finally get to see Everything We Know Is Wrong. (Well, Everything We Know about the Farm. I bet we know some wrong things about the death of the previous Hammer, and maybe the Anti-God, too.) And we get a big cliffhanger moment on the very last page, as we must when a Part I is going to lead directly to a Part II.

As before, I can appreciate the storytelling and character work – both Lemire and Ormston do good panel-by-panel and page-by-page work here, making engaging people, moving them around convincingly, and making them all interesting – while still finding the overall structure silly and ungainly and massively derivative and entirely airless. I still think Black Hammer is a very well-done version of a thing I would be hard-pressed to say is worth doing.

[1] Trust me, this is me happy. At least as happy as I get about manipulative third-hand superhero tales.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

All-Star Cast Celebrates Ed Asner’s Life

All-Star Cast Celebrates Ed Asner’s Life

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., (November 2, 2021) – In Partnership with Turner Classic Movies and sponsored by MeTV, relive the classic holiday tale of It’s a Wonderful Life with a star studded cast including Jason Sudeikis, Rosario Dawson, Mark Hamill, Martin Sheen, Mandy Patinkin, George Wendt, Lou Diamond Phillips, Phil Lamarr, Ben Mankiewicz, Ron Funches, Ed Harris, and more. Real life uncle/nephew pair Wendt and Sudeikis are slated to play the roles of George Bailey and Uncle Billy for this year’s broadcast. For one-night-only, this live virtual table read takes place Sunday, December 5, 2021, 5:00 PM PST. Hosted by Tom Bergeron, the 2021 Virtual Gala will be a tribute to the wonderful life of Ed Asner and benefit The Ed Asner Family Center(TEAFC), which promotes mental health and enrichment programs to children with special needs and their families.

“My father’s passing has left an indescribable hole in my heart.  For our annual fundraising gala this year, I want to honor my father’s legacy as both a legendary actor and a staunch advocate for people of all abilities. I would like to thank Turner Classic Movies for partnering to support our effort to raise much needed funds for special needs families and I am eternally grateful for the support shown by our amazing cast. I would also like to thank MeTV for their generous sponsorship of this event,” says Matt Asner, son of Ed Asner & Co-Founder of The Ed Asner Family Center.

For a minimum donation of $25, your entire household can enjoy this exclusive experience. Commemorative holiday gift collections will also be available to purchase, including custom artwork and a limited edition T-shirt, all created specifically for this event. In addition, the collection will include The Official Bailey Family Cookbook with recipes inspired by “It’s A Wonderful Life” and a 75th Anniversary Blu-ray of the film. The event will feature an incredible silent auction with items perfect for the holiday season and a spectacular musical intermission.

Tickets will be available at: http://teafc.org/wonderful.

In addition to the Ed Asner tribute, the event will honor Mike Darnell, President of Unscripted and Alternative Television at Warner Brothers, along with his family. The cast will include Mike’s daughter and Social Director of TEAFC, Chelsea Darnell, autistic actors Spencer Harte and Domonique Brown (TV’s Atypical) along with neurodivergent TEAFC members Ryan Booth and Lucas Salusky. Victor Nelli (TV’s Superstore, Brooklyn Nine Nine) will return to direct.

“As the parents of autistic children, Matt and I saw a desperate need to create a safe and welcoming community for Special Needs families

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,” explains Navah Asner, Co-Founder, The Ed Asner Family Center. “The Center provides arts and vocational enrichment and critical mental health services to these individuals and their families, creating a unique space to learn, interact and thrive.  My dear friends, the Darnell Family, are an extremely important part of our overall community and the Center. We are thrilled to be honoring them this year for their commitment and advocacy.”

The Ed Asner Family Center is also proud to announce their 2021 Gala Sponsors: A&E Network, ABC 7, Abigail Disney, Apploff Entertainment, Arthur Smith Co., Carmen & Tonia Finestra, Center for Autism, Disney, Disney+ and Disney General Entertainment Content, Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi, Extra TV, Ireland Family Foundation, Jean Trebec, MeTV, Netflix, Peter Roth, Plush Beds, Robert & Renee Kelly Foundation, Seacrest Productions, Sony, Team Greenbean, Tito’s Vodka, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Brothers, and WME. For more information on becoming a sponsor, please visit: http://teafc.org/wonderful.

Win a Candyman Digital Code

Win a Candyman Digital Code

The successful Candyman remake is coming to streaming and home video this week. Our friends at Universal Home Entertainment have provided us with two digital codes which we’re offering to our readers.

In order to win, tell us the scariest memory from your Halloween experiences. Provide good, creative details and have your entry submitted no later than 11:59 p.m., Monday, November 8. The decision of the ComicMix judges will be final.

Universal City, California, October 26, 2021 – Dare to say his name. Oscar® winner Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods, Disney’s upcoming film The Marvels) expand on the infamous Candyman legacy with “a new horror classic” (FOX TV) that is “smart, stylish, and scary as hell” (Danielle Ryan, /FILM). Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 84%, Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s (MGM) CANDYMAN is back and yours to own on Digital November 2, 2021 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM and DVD November 16, 2021 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. All versions come packed with over an hour of bonus features including a never-before-seen alternate ending, deleted and extended scenes as well as special featurettes taking viewers behind-the-scenes of the film and deeper into this complex and deeply resonant contemporary take on the bone-chilling urban legend.

For decades, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green were terrorized by a ghost story about a supernatural, hook-handed killer. In present day, a visual artist (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; HBO’s Watchmen,”Us, forthcoming Matrix Resurrections) begins to explore the macabre history of Candyman, not knowing it would unravel his sanity and unleash a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II leads an incredible buzz-worthy cast in CANDYMAN, which also stars Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk, Wandavision, forthcoming The Marvels), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Generation, Misfits) and Colman Domingo (HBO’s Euphoria, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Assassination Nation). A bold, expansive take on the tragic and terrifying urban legend, CANDYMAN is produced and co-written by Academy Award® winner Jordan Peele and directed by rising filmmaker Nia DaCosta, the first Black woman to helm a #1 film at the box office!

EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES ON 4K UHD, BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL:

  • ALTERNATE ENDING
  • DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES
  • SAY MY NAME: Filmmakers and cast discuss how the horror at the center of Candyman is both timely and timeless, which is a tragedy in and of itself.
  • BODY HORROR: We explore director Nia DaCosta’s influences in the subgenre of body horror, and what Anthony’s physical transformation means to the story.
  • THE FILMMAKER’S EYE: NIA DACOSTA: Take a closer look at director Nia DaCosta, and how her singular voice and perspective were perfect to tell this story.
  • PAINTING CHAOS: Filmmakers reveal how Anthony’s artwork evolves throughout the film and how they strived for authenticity in recreating Chicago’s vibrant art scene.
  • THE ART OF ROBERT AIKI AUBREY LOWE: Composer Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe reveals some of the unconventional methodology he used to create the unique and haunting soundscapes sounds of the film.
  • TERROR IN THE SHADOWS: A behind-the-scenes look at how the analogue shadow puppetry scenes were created and an unpacking of why this ancient artistic medium was the most conceptually relevant for depicting the legends’ cycle of violence.
  • CANDYMAN: THE IMPACT OF BLACK HORROR: A roundtable discussion moderated by Colman Domingo about the nuanced relationship Black Americans have with Candyman , the horror genre and the overall idea of monsters and victims.

CANDYMAN will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

  • 4K Ultra HD delivers the ultimate movie watching experience. Featuring the combination of 4K resolution, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) and HDR10+, which delivers incredible brightness and contrast for each scene and immersive audio for a multidimensional sound experience. 
  • Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly buy or rent.
  • The Movies Anywhere Digital App simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-ray™ and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere.  Movies Anywhere is available only in the United States.
Shang-Chi Steelbooks from Best Buy, Target

Shang-Chi Steelbooks from Best Buy, Target

Best Buy

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must face the past he thought he left behind and confront his father, leader of the dangerous Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, and Florian Munteanu, with Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan and Tony Leung as Xu Wenwu.

Beginning November 12, “one of Marvel’s best origin stories” (Sean Mulvihill, Fanboy Nation), Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings will be available to all Disney+ subscribers. The film also arrives on all digital stores such as Apple TV

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, Prime Video and Vudu with exclusive bonus features.

Target

In addition to the traditional disc releases, the studio announces Steelbook exclusives coming from Best Buy and Target.