Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bronze Beauties #11: Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane

Inside the Superman Fanboy Dilemma Part 5 is up on mtv.com, the final installment of my supremely geeky gushing over the Man of Steel. So, here's our final Bronze Beauties Superman installment (for now).

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane was a pretty silly comic book, a strange amalgam of superhero, romance and comedy (Note the separation of the words "Girl" and "Friend," giving Kal-El a bit of space. "Hey, she's a girl and she's my friend, she's not my girlfriend!"). From its start in 1958 through the mid-60s, it was an endless stream of tales about the girl reporter either trying to lure the Man of Steel into marriage or replace him with some other unattainable man (a millionaire, an alien, Satan, or worse, some other superhero!!!). In the late ‘60s, Lois got a bit more liberated, socially conscious (as in the classic 1970 tale, “I Am Curious (Black)!”) and independent, although she never really quit trying to bag the last son of Krypton. Guess she never thought of getting knocked up by him....(or did she?)!

Here are two great 70s covers to Lois Lane even though they both defy Super-logic. #127 (Oct. 1972) features a bikini clad Lois about to be, uh, eaten by a great white shark, and Superman can't find her? LOOK DOWN, SUPES! #129 (Feb., 1973) has a serpentine twist on the old bondage cover theme, although it really seems as if Superman WOULD have time to save both women. Art by one of the great underrated cartoonists of all time, Bob Oksner.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


With Superman Returns now just two weeks away, I’m in trouble. My “cautious optimism” has given way to being geeked like I’m twelve years old again. Early reviews have been mostly glowing and I’ve yet to see one clip that made me wince. The atrocious X-Men: The Last Stand only hammered home how great a director Bryan Singer is, and I’ve even come to not mind the costume so much.

Part of that has to do with seeing it “in person.” Yesterday, Lysa and I made a trek (okay, a pilgrimage) to the Times Square Toys-R-Us to check out their massive Superman Returns display, featuring actual movie props including some kryptonite, one of Jor-El’s crystals (covered with fingerprints, incidentally) and mostly, one of Brandon Routh’s Superman costumes.

The red looks brighter, the texture works and the shortie shorts don’t seem so Speedo-ey. We took a bunch of pictures, did some toy shoppin’ and then headed uptown to see Poseidon in IMAX, primarily to scope out the Superman Returns trailer in that enormous format. I was disappointed that it was the teaser trailer, but it did look fairly amazing (Poseidon blew, but that’s beside the point).

As of now, there’s a group of ten of us going to see Superman Returns on June 28th. I decided that for this gathering, a regular theater might be preferable to the almost overwhelming IMAX, mostly because the odds that all ten of us will be able to get optimum seating together are not good. I mean, with the ability to pre-buy tickets, there’s no need to line up hours early to ensure entrance, but I’d still like to get there early enough to not be in the first, or, worst, LAST row.

I know, I know, this is all rather silly. I’m a 41 year old man getting all excited about going to see a superhero movie with his friends. Whattyagonnado.

Meanwhile, my new kitty, General Zod (just edging out Herbert H. Heebert for the winning appelation) is almost too good to be true. He and Monkey get along tremendously. There was exactly ONE hiss (from Monkey) before they started playing together. Zod (already nicknamed “GeeZee” since I find pet names work best with two syllables) found the litter box right away. He slept curled up next to me on the third night. When I had some people over Sunday night, he didn’t hide at all. ui======
And, as witness above, he types.

Oh, sure, he is a kitten, meaning he’s scratching on the couch and playing with loud rolly things at 4am and chewing on electrical wires and getting stuck in tiny spaces, but these things shall pass. He even got drunk by lapping out of a glass of wine the other day (I didn’t see him until he’d had some swigs), making him truly a cat of mine.

I know, I know, I’m a total honking hypocrite, being one of those annoying fucks who talks about his "baby" as if you care. But c’mon.... cats rule. People suck.

Well, most of us. A few of you are pretty swell.

Bronze Beauties #10: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen

Inside the Superman Fanboy Dilemma Part 4 is up on mtv.com, focusing on collectibles. I wanted to title the piece “To MOC or Not to MOC,” but they thought it was too obscure and went with “Cum On Feel the Toyz.” Sigh.

Anyway, beginning in 1954, SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN was the first comic book to star a non-super powered sidekick (Batman’s butler Alfred did have some solo adventures, but never got his own book). Although Jimmy did sometimes gain elasticity ala Plastic Man and fight crime as Elastic Lad (in a dull costume that actually spelled out his name on the chest), and sometimes teamed with Superman in the Batman and Robin-esque duo of Nightwing and Flamebirdin the bottle city of Kandor. Oh, and he was once Giant Turtle Boy.

...You know what? Never mind.

Here are two swell Jimmy covers from very different interpretations in the 1970s. JIMMY OLSEN #141 (Sept., 1971) came during Jack Kirby’s run on the book, a time when the King was bringing some mind-blowing psychedelic concepts to traditionally stodgy DC. Jimmy’s adventures were integrated into Kirby’s so-called “Fourth World,” series surrounding the battle between Darkseid’s Apokolips and the New Gods’ world of New Genesis. Kirby’s twisted imagination was given mostly free reign (even if DC had more traditional house-styled artists like Curt Swan “fix” his Superman faces and S-shields), which included using Don Rickles as a guest star. The cover features pencils by Kirby and inks by Neal Adams, the comic book equivalent of a collaboration between Van Gogh and Gauguin.

When Kirby left the book, it reverted to more standard fare, transforming Jimmy into “Mr. Action,” a hip, scrappy investigative reporter who still usually needed Supes to haul his butt out of the fire. JO #160 (Oct., 1973) sports a cover by Nick Cardy, an artist I didn’t fully appreciate as a child, but have grown to worship.

©DC Comics

Friday, June 09, 2006

Babies, Kittens, Younglings

Okay.... there’s a lot of poop going on right now. More horror in the Middle East, this fuggin’ ridiculous waste of time in Congress and what are people talking about? Shiloh Jolie Pitt, or, as Miss Tanya pointed out, Pile o’ Shit Jolie .... WHY the Ef do people care what celebrities’ babies look like? Why, for that matter, do they care what ANYONE’s baby looks like? Unless it’s yours, babies all look alike and they smell and are just gonna grow up to be jerks like you and me anyway, so who cares?

Speaking of babies, I got a kitten yesterday. Lysa with a Y and I went to the Bergen County Animal Shelter and each got a new cat. Lysa was cool enough to get an adult cat while I went cute and got a kitten. On the way home, my kitten shat kittie diarrhea in its box and promptly got it all over himself (ooh, the Liberty smells good).

So, the first thing I had to do when I got this poor little black and white cat home was dunk him in the sink and get him soaking wet (hardly the best welcome to his new home). The weirdest thing is, he didn’t meow once. I got him clean, dried him off as best I could and let him explore. And then, he promptly vanished. I searched for over an hour and couldn’t find him.

Today, he’s much better. He’s playing behind my steamer trunk and Monkey is staring at him with a mixture (presumably) of confusion and jealousy. I’m not sure the kitten knows how to use the litter box yet (I guess I’ll find out, won’t I?) and he still hasn’t meowed. And I... still have no idea of a name. Geisel was the main contender, but it sounds a bit too.... Tolkeinish.       It’ll come to me.

One thing I WON’T be naming him is Darth Vader. I finally saw Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on HBO last weekend and as much as I presumed it would be pooey, I had NO IDEA how much it blooooo. This late in the game, I won’t get into my many, many complaints except for one.

The whole point of this convoluted, overblown trilogy was to set up one of the most beloved (although not by me) films of all time. So, the last ten minutes of the film, which tie up all the loose ends and set the stage for the beginning of Episode IV should’ve been the geek money shots, yes? Senator Organa adopts Leia. Yoda takes off for Dagoba. Obi-Wan takes Luke to Tatooine and gives him to Owen & Beru. The droids are given to that guy whose name escapes me (oh, and Threepio’s memory is wiped... so that it makes sense that he has no idea who any of the characters in the next film are). And James Earl Jones gets his old job back.

So, of all these elements, which is the most dramatic? It’s a no-brainer. Anakin has now fully and completely gone to the dark side and the Empire has a firm grip on the galaxy. Nobody disputes that Darth Vader is the star of the show. So how come the movie ends with a shot of Luke’s new family holding the baby Hamill and looking at the sunset on Tatooine? With no dialogue whatsoever?!??!

Why the fuck didn’t the movie end with Vader and the Emperor watching the Death Star being constructed, making some ominous comments about the newly formed Empire’s reign over the universe and gloating over the defeat of the Jedi? Mwah ha ha ha ha!!! We’d all know better, and there’s yer fanboy payoff.

As it was, I sat there alone in my living room shouting “Are you fucking kidding me?!?!” at nobody in particular. But I tend to do that a lot.

Oh, and “younglings.” I cracked up every time someone said the word, “younglings.”

Postscript: As I was writing this, new kitten used the litter box. Phew.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Irony-Free Used Baby Clothes

This weekend marked the second anniversary of the start of my anonymous hate mail, so I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all of my detractors and say hope you had a happy, judgment free weekend! Now let’s roll!

Yes, I did return to Lancaster PA for the Memorial Day festivities, including the annual Landisville / Salunga flea marketing / used baby clothes liquidation (no photos this year, sorry). I didn’t get much stuff (I rarely do)... a few old Archie comics, a weird Peter Parker / Spidey Sense fast food figure (for a dime!) and an old Bugs Bunny 78rpm record. But it’s always more about the ritual and the tradition than acquisitions.

As always, however, there were moments that made me feel like my conservative little hometown was buried in the Ozarks.
I heard people intone “Git ‘er done” three times, followed by huge, snack-stuffed belly-guffawing. Four times, if you count the guy who overheard me tell Gary about it and chimed in with “Yeah! Git ‘er done! Ha ha ha ha!” For those of you who are happily uninitiated, “Git ‘er done” is the catch phrase of Larry the Cable Guy, the aughts version of Ernest P. Worrell... only less funny.

Additionally, I did hear one guy manning a table full of crap say to a customer, “Deal... or no deal?” and everyone around him laughed heartily. Thankfully, that was the only time I heard that ode to a stupid game show that doesn’t even ask questions, but I’m certain it was said many times by many folks.

It’s always initially refreshing to return to a largely irony-free zone. But then I reach a point where I desperately need to hear some stranger make fun of something, anything, even if it’s me! But the unquestioning apathy of the consumer is so ingrained that even a table full of really ugly T-shirts with inspirational sayings hand-painted on them passes muster.

I mean, one man’s trash is another’s treasure and all that, but come on. There’s absolutely no reason anyone should stick a price tag on a decade old 10k modem, an unused bottle of salad dressing from 2004 or a McDonalds Smurf glass with a crack in it.

I’ve been so busy I barely have time to eat these days, so I’m just gonna gloss over some other stuff. X-Men: The Last Stand lacks any of the style, substance or emotional resonance of the prior two films. It’s just LOUD. Brett Ratner truly does suck. • As every year, I’m already sick of the heat, two days in. • This week, I bought a pair of Converse All-Stars for the first time in over a decade. • VICE Magazine’s Comics Issue proves without a doubt that most alternative cartoonists suck just as much as most mainstream ones. An almost endless gallery of unfunny strips about poo and pussy. Only works by Dave Cooper (also toiling in that genre, but with his usual panache), Steven Weissman and John Kershbaum elicit any appreciation. Features on cartoonists’ tools and collector geeks are more entertaining than anything else in this ish of the snide hipster mag. • And, finally, I miss all of my programs.

Bronze Beauties #9: World's Finest

Inside the Superman Fanboy Dilemma Part 3 is up at mtv.com, so here’s my third installment of Supes-themed Bronze Beauties.

World’s Finest started in the 1940s as a Superman / Batman comic book with separate adventures of both heroes. In the 1950s, it became a team-up book with the Man of Steel and the Gotham Guardian fighting crime together (usually abetted by Robin and sometimes Jimmy Olsen, too). In 1970, the comic ditched Batman and teamed Superman with a different DC hero in every issue. The stories in WF rarely lived up to the dynamic covers, however. Here’s the covers to World’s Finest #200 (Feb. 1971) and #203 (June 1971) both by Neal Adams (my first favorite artist).

©DC Comics