It's more than a blog; it's my blog.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I Can Whip Any Man in the House, and Ride any Philly in the Place

I was watching the latest offering from DC Animation, the well-acted by ultimately predictable Batman: Under the Red Hood, when I finally got to the good stuff: the DC Showcase-branded Jonah Hex animated short. Now, what really got me in Jonah Hex wasn't the story or the animation, as both are derivative and stylistically similar to the 2008 release, Batman : Gotham Knight, but, rather, the few seconds prior to the film's opening.

The DC Showcase brand of animated shorts feature a sort of "title sequence" which takes viewers through a comic book shop full of DC comics properties before finally settling on a book featuring the character that we're about to see in the presentation proper.

And I fucking love this.

In addition to being a comic book geek, I harbor a passion for stuff: people's stuff, businesses' stuff, all kinds of stuff. I see the mass market, modern culture, and "consumerism" as a fascinating network of systems, inventions, and creativity all interconnected to form our modern lives. What does a person's stuff say about him? Why did he choose to buy this, or why did he have to buy this? We take home products as a given, when really --

Well, I'm getting off topic. My point here is that the opening was far more interesting to me than the Jonah Hex short. SO, I decided to slow it down and try to see exactly which products the fine folks at DC Comics had decided to draw my attention to, and ponder the reasons why.

As we fly through Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash accompanied by some very John-Williamsy-spacey-like-twinkly music, our gaze is directed toward various properties: there's Showcase #4, the issue that ushered in the Silver Age of Comics with Barry Allen way back in 1956; there's an appearance of everyone's favorite BustyAirborne Lass in Showcase #99 featuring Power Girl; followed by more issues of Showcase, natch. There's a few Showcase Presents collections scattered around, including The Elongated Man (hint hint), Ambush Bug, and Booster Gold, and I think I even caught a glimpse of a few collections from "the other guys."

And then I saw this:

May whatever heathen god you pray to bless the production intern who whipped out a copy of Showcase #78 to shove into the hands of COMIC SHOP PATRON #6. Everyone knows that the imagineers here at Blackmarket Pies love, love, love the obscure and the underappreciated, so when I saw a character that I had never heard of before being absorbed with care and attention by a hip twenty-something, I had to jump into the fray.

Showcase #78 features the man known as JONNY DOUBLE, whom wikipedia describes as "a down-beat Don Quixote in a society that frowns on windmills. A once white knight in rusty armor searching for that last dragon to slay. The poor man's Peter Pan."

Hmmm. While very British-invasion-esque for a comic from 1968, it sure doesn't explain a whole lot. Sort of sounds like Nemesis as written by Peter Milligan.

You all know what this means, lads: it's time to dig deeper into the cavernous bowels of the DC Unvierse and discover exactly who Jonny Double is, and why he came to be (hint: Chinatown had been released four years prior, and The Fugivtive had just endd its run). But that'll have to wait until I actually find a copy of Showcase #78. For now, it may be back to the unicorn well...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010


What could it mean?

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Return of the Cap'n

I've written about Captain Canuck before -- check out my entire week of Canadian goodness here -- and I think you get the idea that I'm absolutely enamored with the idea of a National Canadian Superhero, a comic book character who can somehow boil down to essentials what it means to be Canadian. And, like our comic counterparts to the south, this is true -- only backward. Captain Canuck was patterned to represent Canadian values, and now he's used as proof of those values, in some kind of twisted Disneyworld logic: if Captain Canuck is supposed to represent Canada, and Captain Canuck is "A," then Canada must be "A," as well -- even if the initial premise is incorrect. Captain Canuck was first created by Richard Comely in order to bring together the disparate visions of what a Canadian actually was, and the series tried to foist a Canadian mythos onto the popular culture of the Great White North, much as Canadian Nationalist ideas tried to do back in 1967, with the rise of Expo '67 and the ill-fated "Chimo" greeting. In the irony that we often find ourselves faced with today, the significant replaced the signifier; i.e. the symbol gave meaning to what was being symbolized.

But that's a story for another day. Because today, we have a story that couldn't possibly be tied to traditional, or even subversive, Canadian values. Unless, of course, Canadians are big on aliens that look like wads of splooge:

Yes, this is the story of Captain Canuck's unpublished fifteenth issue. Written and drawn before CKR Productions folded under the absurd conditions of the Canadian publishing industry, this issue would have seen the light of day if Comely and Co had succeeded in their scheeme to sell shares of the "Captain Canuck Corporation" to eager northern kids itching for a fix of down-home superheroics. Sadly, Captain Canuck, though wildly popular, could not make enough money to stay afloat, and the story of "The Stygian" -- no relation to the other Stygian -- would be denied to the kids of the 1970/80's.

Written by creator Richard Comely and the last Canuck issue to be illustrated by George Freeman, the story takes place after Tom Evans -- the good Captain's secret identity -- has been stranded in the "present" of the 1980's following an alien encounter in his future of 1993. In the dead of winter in Calgary, Captain Canuck has taken to construction work to support himself as he, presumably, tries to find a way back to his time. A fellow worker discovers a discarded purse, and, Canadian of upstanding character that he is, Mr Evans heads out to return it to its rightful owner.

Discovering that the purse belongs to a missing woman, he acts on a hunch -- literally, as there is nothing in the comic to indicate exactly where he gets the idea to go traipsing about government labs -- and visits the offices of the Stabler Research Group, where he comes face to face with every Canadian's arch nemesis: the locked door.

On the other side of the door are a group of scientists whose names and personalities are of absolutely no consequence. What does matter is what they've inadvertantly created: THE STYGIAN!

Part being of pure energy, part being of melty-cheese, the Stygian must feed off of the energy of people and electronics to survive. Other than this survival imperative, we don't know much about ol' Styg', but you can bet that if he does this to Captain Canuck:

then he's no damn good in my book.

Canukc, knowing nothing about the type science fiction aliens that he's battled for most of his life, inadvertantly lets the creature loose upon an unsuspecting Stampede City, where it's assumed that he passed up the great untapped potential energy of cow pats, instead settling on the lethargic energy of your average Canadian citizen. After a thrilling* chase throughout downtown Alberta, Canuck seems to be on the brink of finishing the creature off with a good whack on the side of the head with a manhole cover:

Unfortunately for the reputations of the boys in blue everywhere, the assault is interrupted by a group of vigilant police officers, who are far too focused on arresting the man in the arresting pajamas, and not the being of limitless power looming over him.

Our story ends with the Stygian getting away, and the poor boys and girls of 2004 (when this story was finally released to fans for the first time) are left on another cliffhanger that has yet to be resolved. But those aren't the only mysteries we're left pondering; I've got a few questions myself: for one, how does a being created from pure energy succumb to being smacked in thr skull with a steel plate? For two, can anyone in Calgary tell me what these terrifying, lanky giants in the background of this panel are supposed to be?

I'm going to assume they're some kind of artwork, and not, say, the Stygian's terrifying compadres.

Well, there it is -- the last, unreleased issue of the original run of Captain Canuck, killed in its prime by the realities of publishing in Canada. It wasn't lack of interest or sales that did Canuck in -- in 1979, the Captain was the highest selling comic book in all of Canada, as related in Captain Canuck #7, and you can tell from the panels I've reproduced here that Freeman's art was pretty great for an independent book in the late 1970's (or hell, for a comic book period). No, Canada's first and greatest superhero was deep-sixed by a government that, while claiming to value Canadian content, actually created conditions that were anathema to the continued existence of a true Canadian hero.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


While there probably aren't too many return visitors these days, I just want to tell that one Google bot out there that I am planning to update this week with -- well, something special. So keep checking back. I haven't forgotten about you, Google bot.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010


Oooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah y'all. Guess what, sports fans?

If this is possible, then, pray, what other wonders might find their way back into my life?

Believe it.


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blackmarket Books: Carter Beats the Devil

I've been on such a kick for the early twentieth century lately. Whether it's the history of the early comics industry, or just the aesthetic of art deco architecture, I've been just eating this shit up. Which brings me to my first post on this humble blog in just about 2 years: my recent fascination with the big, flashy stage magicians of the aforementioend era.

Carter Beats the Devil follows in the tradition of books like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Oddly enough, they were both published in 2001. Carter tells the tale of Charles Carter III as he grows into a world class, headlining illusonist from the humble beginnings of a travelling show performer working alongside such acts as a dramatic monologist and an immigrant couple who use barnyard animals as musical instruments.

Like Kavalier, Carter is firmly embedded into the culture of the era. Gold weaves characters and events from the time -- like Houdini, the Marx Brothers, and the 1904 San Francisco earthquake -- into the life of Carter the Great effortlessly, without making it feel as if he's simply name-dropping.

In fact, I would even rate Carter higher than Kavalier at this point: Chabon seemed to let the plot drive his characters more toward the end. He also handled his characters with kid gloves, allowing them some measure fo power against the publishing giants of the day, in contrast to actual conditions for writers/artists at the time -- the only comic book creator to actually get any respect was, ironically, Bob Kane, because he had the pull necessary to play hardball -- even when he was using ghosts most of the time! Carter, on the other hand, must struggle and suffer through the "minor leagues" of magic before he can get anywhere, and even then, he requires the self-interested assistance of Harry Houdini before he can rise up the ladder.

I'm not quite finished the thing yet, but, so far, everything's looking good. I can only hope that he doesn't flop after the half-way point like Chabon seemed to do with Kavalier.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Giddy Up

A lot of the JLI members complained about their boss riding them all the time...

but clearly, Captain Atom got the worst of it.

(See Max Lord ride bitch on Captain Atom in the Invasion! crossover from 1988, Captain Atom #24.)

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