Monthly Archives: December 2010

Review: World’s Finest #244

(Story: Bob Haney, Art: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez & Murphy Anderson. DC Comics, 1977.)

Some observations on World’s Finest #244:

In what few World’s Finest comics I’ve read — which always featured Superman and Batman team-ups — Superman usually got incapacitated by Kryptonite or something.

And the only thing I know about Bob Haney — the writer of this story — is that he’s the guy who wrote that legendary “Batman digs this day” line, and apparently all his stories were nuts. Notably in this comic, Superman and Batman are always wound-up jerks.

Vinnie Barbarino as Superman. Thanks, Neal.

Page 1: “Three killings — three human snakes who deserved to die!” Apparently the reader is assumed to be on different moral ground than Batman and Superman then.

Page 2: People in this comic speak almost exclusively IN SLANG.

 

Okay, so three criminals die mysteriously. Batman offers to buy the coroner a weird stethoscope.

Say what?!

 

The underworld thinks it was rival gangs that did the killings but Superman and Batman know otherwise and have to stop a gang war, so Batman crashes a meeting of the bosses.

They have to rationalize shooting him all at once.

 

Page 7: I like the way Superman has to always lug Batman around in these comics.

 

Watching videos of the three murders, Superman is discovered to be at the scene of all of them. So he agrees to be thrown in jail in “honor custody” when word breaks out to the media about his possible involvement in the crimes. It’s hard to believe the Silver Age DC public would turn on Superman so easily, but anyway he breaks out, replacing himself with a Superman robot, and making me wonder what the point of agreeing to the honor custody was in the first place. Note that his rational is that subbing in the robot doesn’t constitute breaking his honor code which is completely morally fucked up.

Also, in the crime boss scene, Superman was able to catch all the criminals bullets without being noticed. Surely he could have subbed in the Superman robot the same way and avoided having to destroy city property?

 

What exactly is sulking super-style…?

 

A weirdo shows up at Wayne Enterprises looking to make a major alloy purchase and Superman steals his watch. At this point, I’m thinking, “Why NOT put Superman in jail?”

 

Even Batman agrees.

They follow the guy who travels through another dimension to reach… Arizona!! Important: Superman is able to recognize on sight when something “fades into another time dimension.”

It turns out this guy is from the future, which explains his miraculous death ray. He has no qualms about killing criminals, but he had to STEAL 20th century money to use back here.

But the main thing is: in the future the environment is destroyed and everyone lives under totalitarian rule. Since mankind is so miserable, Barton aka Robespierre Two, has been sent back in time to create a full size death ray to mercifully wipe out humanity before it reaches that stage.

 

He impersonated Superman in the videos so he’d get locked up and be out of his way. And he placed the big order with Bruce Wayne to keep Batman occupied. My question is: If he’s going to kill everyone on Earth anyway, why not just KILL Batman with his invisible death ray in the first place?! 

Somehow, Superman knows that by coming back in time, Barton has changed the future. Considering the amount of time travel Superman used to do in this era without consequence, I find it hard to believe he’d think that. And how does he know Barton hasn’t made the future even worse by coming back in time?

 

And when Superman and Batman defeat Barton and he returns to the future, the old Terminator question comes up: Why not just keep sending him back over and over again?

KS

P.S. This story is readable in full here: http://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/2010/01/grooves-faves-worlds-finest-comics-244.html

Something I recently discovered…

… as I finally work my way through Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica, was this:

That is an inordinate number of Canadian actors for an American TV show, even if it is shot on a spaceship in Vancouver. (And I might have even missed some.)

Now, why would Battlestar Galactica, of all shows, have so many Canadian actors in key ro–

Ohhh, wait —

But OF COURSE!!!

KS

Review: X-Women

(by Chris Claremont and Milo Manara. Marvel Comics, 2010.)

Okay, I have no idea where to begin writing a clever introduction to reviewing this head-case of a comic, so let’s just dispense with the beginning, middle, and end business, and I’ll lay out the review in bullet points. These are copied from the notes I made when I first read the book, so some may seem random and nonsensical, like the comic itself.

* The comic is, of course, drawn by famed Italian sex comic artist Milo Manara. It is, to the best of my limited knowledge, the first time he has done original comic art for a mainstream American comic company, or any American comic company that I know of.

* Who the hell is the audience for this book? I think regular X-Men fans prefer their X-Women with more bombastic tits and asses rather than Manara’s waifish mannequin types.  And Manara fans would want nudity and the women actually fucking people (or things). Both camps are doomed to disappointment.

What Marvel fans really want (I think)

 

* What a hilariously ironic title.

* The plot involves some X-Women losing their powers and then become slaves of some South American dictator or something, blah, blah. I don’t even really remember it, except somehow it reminded me of Mad Max 2.

* I’ve heard people say that, even if you put aside the sex, Manara is a great sequential artist. All the evidence here points to the contrary. He seems very average to poor (i.e. distracted), and once or twice I even noticed characters bounce from place to place in a room without rhyme or reason except to make sure they are posed facing the camera with the right pout.

How did Rogue get next to Storm? And what’s Storm looking at anyway?

* For my money, Paolo Serpieri is the better artist by far. But, that said, I’ve never actually made it to the end of a Serpieri comic, because I tend to get, uh, distracted by Druuna’s ass.

Manara vs Serpieri? NO CONTEST.

* Why didn’t they just get John Severin to draw this thing?

* There is at least one reference to Diff’rent Strokes (?!?!). Oh, no, wait — is this supposed to lead us to think of “stroking it,” a complex association like that reference to the yellow leaves in James Joyce’s “Araby”?

* I haven’t read an X-Men or Chris Claremont comic in a long time, and early on I had trouble following what was going on. Despite the fact that this is Claremont writing, it’s missing his good ol’ standby: “My name is Rogue. I shoot rays out of my ears and can transmute metals into fly paper” every other page. Would have been helpful, you know, of all the times to break with old habits. Throw a brother a bone, would ya, Claremont?

* In my notes, I wrote the words “Down Syndrome” on two separate occasions, not realizing I was repeating myself. So, as you can guess, the impression was frequent and in-your-face. I mean, just look at that cover.

* Manara’s goal is to make every single panel “sexy.” Manara will invent fetishes where they don’t actually exist for every conceivable human activity. Storm feeds the pigs? SEXY. Rogue does the laundry? SEXY. X-Women fall off a cliff? SEXY. Etc.

Do you have a pig feeding fetish?

* As I was reading it, my wife looked over and said, “What is THAT?”

Me: Well, it’s an X-Men comic drawn by this famous Italian sex comic artist who doesn’t normally do this kind of thing.

Wife: Yeah, I was about to say that! Haha!

Me: It’s weird. He’s always posing them in these crazy fetish poses no matter what they’re doing.

Wife: Oh, they’re just having  a bit of fun.

… And, well, that was a point I couldn’t argue with. Despite all my above complaints about the craft or intent of the thing, Manara and Claremont are just having a good time here. In fact, I would go even further and suggest that quite cleverly Manara is actually satirizing Claremont’s writing with his art (exposing the sexualized depiction of every activity that X-Women are always made to perform), and Claremont is satirizing Manara (writing mundane situations which he knows Manara will automatically sexualize). In that respect, this comic is comparable only to the Peter Bagge drawn issue of Alan Moore’s Tom Strong which achieved the same remarkable feat.

So, I can’t recommend it, but I recommend it.

KS

Click to “enlarge” — ha! Get it?