Thursday, July 30, 2009

I thought this was easy, but my answers are probably wrong

Kurt Busiek asks:

How many Legionnaires can you name who had letters on their costume?

Naturally, the 'L' on the flight ring doesn't count.

I got five — or eight, depending on how technical you want to get.

Mark Waid got the same five, but agreed that those other three shouldn't count.

Paul Levitz got four, with the same caveat.

James Robinson got five.

Tom Galloway came up with a sixth, but then, as I understand it, he was at the Challenge last year, so he's had much more time to think about it. And I spurn his sixth name as a technicality anyway, while Mark grumbled that yeah, it's a technicality but he should have gotten it anyway.

I can think of five, plus the "three who shouldn't count" -- but again, I am not really a Legion scholar, so I'm probably missing something:

1. Superboy
2. Supergirl
3. Phantom Girl
4. Element Lad
5. Ferro Lad

... and the "honorable mentions" would be Cosmic Boy, Lightning Boy, and Saturn Girl, whose codenames were written out on their costumes in their very first appearance.

Now off to's forum to check my work!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

New comics 7/22/09

This week's podcast features Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2, Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds #5, Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #3, Gotham City Sirens #2, Green Lantern #44, Madame Xanadu #s 11-12, The Spirit #31, Power Girl #3, Supergirl #43, and Wednesday Comics #3.

Sorry in advance about some lingering sound-quality issues. This is also the second week in a row in which I use the phrase "boy band."

Once again, Olivia contributes from the peanut gallery, and R.E.M. supplies the music. Download it here, or visit the podcast homepage here.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So, does he grow up to be an architect?

I'm not that far into Essential Nova Vol. 1, but ... it's like it's trying to be bad.

Naturally I remember Nova from its original run. I bought the issue with Spider-Man on the cover -- probably because it had Spider-Man on the cover -- and I remember being haunted by the Nova-in-deathtrap cliffhanger which closed out the issue. [Caution: memories may not be accurate to particular issues.] Other than that, though, it didn't leave much of an impression. I sure didn't remember Marv Wolfman writing it.

Actually, I'm not sure Marv would have wanted people remembering he wrote Nova. The character might be described as "what if Peter Parker were Green Lantern?" but that's not really fair to Peter Parker. Richard Rider, the 17-year-old who gets zapped with the powers of the Nova Prime Centurion, is a paragon of mediocrity. He makes average grades, he has a genius younger brother, his nerd friends are each funnier than he is, and -- and this is clearly meant to be Marv's crowning achievement in the field of characterization -- the school bully who picks on him is not only the head jock, he's better off academically too. After a few issues we learn that the bully picks on Richard as an outlet for the pressures of high expectations, so right there our hero's chief antagonist becomes more interesting, if not more sympathetic. This is not the same Marv Wolfman who wrote Tomb of Dracula, Fantastic Four, or even those goofy late-'60s Teen Titans. He's trying so hard to craft the ultimate teen superhero -- right in Spider-Man's back yard, mind you -- that Richard comes across like George Costanza's intern.

To be fair, the "Marvel manner" of superheroics centered around characters who were outcasts of one sort or another, and/or whose powers got in the way of their having regular lives. Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Thing, and even more traditionally-positioned heroes like Captain America and Doctor Strange were each alienated from society to a certain degree. Also, when Richard is zipping around as Nova, he's much easier to take (although his dialogue still makes Marv's Beast Boy/Changeling sound like Noel Coward). Still, there is an air of frustrated greatness around each of Marvel's classic characters, like their superheroic careers are making up for ... well, probably for the accidents which facilitated their superheroic careers. I'm waiting for the issue which explains in detail why Richard, and not one of his friends or enemies, was zapped with the Nova bolt. As it stands now, Marv seems to be equating "completely average" with "relatable," and I'm just not seeing it.

Oh well. At least Marv is starting to spell "cannot" as one word. When I was reading Tomb of Dracula, that particular habit got real old real fast....
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

However, if she starts rollerskating, we may have a problem

Well, that was easy: the Madame Xanadu paperback (written by Matt Wagner, pencilled by Amy Reeder Hadley, inked by Hadley and Richard Friend) sold me on the regular series. I found it to be an energetic, engaging story and a fun travelogue through the magical history of the DC universe.

However, it makes me wonder why this book is assigned to Vertigo and not the main DC superhero line. It guest-stars the Phantom Stranger, who by the way is orders of magnitude more interesting here than he's ever been. It features tons of references to, and guest-shots by, DC superhero characters like Morgaine le Fay, the Demon, Doctor Fate, the Spectre, the Zatara family, and even Green Lantern. To be honest, it is the kind of appeal to the main-line DC fan which I haven't seen since the early issues of Sandman. (And that reminds me -- that series is referenced pretty heavily here too.)

Maybe that's the answer. The wonky "border restrictions" between DCU and Vertigo probably would have prohibited the Endless from appearing in a main-line DC book, but that may only go one way, such that DC superheroes can appear in Vertigo comics.

Now I have to decide if House of Mystery would be better-read in paperback form....
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

New comics 7/15/09

In this week's podcast: Action Comics #879, Agents Of Atlas #8, Batman: Streets Of Gotham #2, Blackest Night #1, Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1, Brave and the Bold #25, Captain America #601, JSA Vs. Kobra #2, Rasl #5, Titans #15, Wednesday Comics #2, and Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38.

I hope I have fixed some of the lingering technical issues (which I further hope no one minded in the last episode), and of course I am still working on my elocution. Early on, Olivia even offered her own comments in the background. (The music, once again, is by R.E.M.)

Download it here, or visit the podcast homepage here. Thanks for listening!
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's my 5-year blogoversary -- in stereo!

Can you believe that it's been five years since this humble blog was launched? Heck, it seems like five years since the last post....

Accordingly, as a way to get back into the weekly new-comics grind, I am trying the exciting world of podcasts! Yes, give me thirty minutes and I'll give you somnolent commentary on the usual batch of new purchases! This week it's Wednesday Comics #1, The Unwritten #3, House Of Mystery #15, Superman: World Of New Krypton #5, Green Lantern #43, Batman #688, Green Arrow/Black Canary #22, Booster Gold #22, and The Warlord #4. (Music is by R.E.M.)

Right-click here to download the episode. You can also visit the podcast homepage here.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have new installments up on weekends (or Fridays if I'm lucky), so keep an eye out!
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