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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Greatest Super-hero Story Ever Told, Part 1

I am not a Marvel Comics reader. In my tender youth in the early nineties, I enjoyed Spider-man, and even Ghost Rider, but I liked Batman better than either of them. In fact, just about the only Marvel creations I can stand these days are the Great Lakes Avengers/X-Men/Champions, an admission that will surely result in the revocation of my geek license.

Part of the reason for my Marvel antipathy has to do with Civil War, and how it made villains of heroes, while suggesting that there are only two courses in life: anarchy or government control. But since I was never a Marvel reader before Civil War, I can't blame the story-line alone for my avoidance of the Marvel Method. No, I am a DC man, through and through - Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Batman, Metal Men, and even the detritus at the bottom of the DCU lake, Crime Bible, are my literature of choice when I head on down to the trusty neighbourhoode comick shoppe. And I think that's because DC has adopted the editorial philosophy of asking the big questions about what the consequences of super-heroes would be in real life, with titles like Watchmen. Although Marvel was the first to put their heroes into the "real world," their method was to give them problems and angst - to make them people. DC took the characters and made them into gods. DC asked "what would be the impact of super-heroes on the world at large? What would need to be different to make super-heroes a possibility?" I don't know how much of this paragraph makes sense, but my point is that DC made super-heroes philosophically fascinating, rather than topically relevant.

I must concede, however, and honor Marvel Comics with the award for the Greatest Super-hero Story Ever Published. That story is the second tale in December 2007's What If: Civil War.

If you're unfamiliar with the mechanics of the What If series, let me break it down for you: What If is published approximately "whenever the hell Joe Quesada needs to reassert his power to make his whims reality," and revisits crucial, and often cataclysmic, events in the history of the Marvel Universe. These events are re-imagined with different initial circumstances, occurrences, or outcomes, and the result is usually explored. Some of them don't turn out so well. This one turned out half-well.

What If: Civil War contains two stories, as shown to Tony Stark by the mysterious Stranger. The first is rather inconsequential, and includes artwork of this caliber:

So you'll understand why I think it's best if we just skipped ahead to the good bits: the aforementioned Greatest Super-hero Story Ever Told.

Written by Christos Gage (who, in an unpublished post for this blog, concerning Union Jack: London Falling, I mistakenly berated for being the creative genius behind the script for Teenage Caveman), and featuring art by Harvey "thank-god-it's-not-the-same-guy-who-did-the-first-story" Talibao, "What If Iron Man Lost the Civil War?" doesn't really deal with Iron Man losing so much as it... well, you'll see.

Our story begins at a critical impasse - Captain America faces a choice: does he attack Tony Stark as his enemy, or does he listen to what Stark has to say? In this possible future, Tony Stark sincerely asks Cap for his help, and that's enough to convince Steve Rogers to call a temporary truce.

And then some trigger-happy bureaucrat notices the concealed weapon that Captain America's packing, and prematurely releases the Thor clone.

In the ensuing battle, Tony Stark proves his sincerity by coming between Faux-Thor and a lightning bolt meant for Goliath. Captain America and Iron Man realize that they're both fighting the same thing - not just a giant, blond-haired, dreamy he-man, but also the universe's many threats to humanity's safety.

Iron Man knows that superheroes need to be held responsible for the damage that they inadvertently cause. In this universe, he's able to articulate this reasonable, and clearly - not like the dick that exists in our current universe. And Captain America understands where he's coming from - after all, it was this collateral damage that motivated Captain America to surrender in the real Marvel Universe. Super-humans are motivated to go around fighting criminals, but the power to do something doesn't make one qualified to do something. And it is here that history is forever changed - or, er, it would be if this was the real universe.

Iron Man and Captain America join forces to create the Avengers' equivalent of the ESRB! An industry standard for superheroes, overseen by Captain America!

Iron Man is a hero again! Captain America isn't dead!

But the best line? This one:

Young superhumans were trained by their elders; taught both tactics and responsibility; serving only by choice, their identities protected.
The government is not a quasi-fascistic slave-driver, drafting the extraordinary to fight against their will! Free will and individual rights are once again championed within the pages of a comic book! I'm so excited, I've worn out my exclamation-mark key!

So, why is this the best super-hero story ever written? Well, that's a question I'm going to have to answer tomorrow night, because things may get heady. Things may get philosophical. And things need to be mulled over to make sure they're clear. Stay tuned, true believers!

Oooh! And I almost forgot: BUY THIS BOOK, EVERYBODY. Show the Mighty Marvel Bean-Counters that this is how super-heroes settle their disagreements; show Mr. Quesada that super-heroes don't have to be stupid louts punching each other to get the job done, but that freedom, and the individual spirit, and the qualities of Captain America can be present in all heroes. Show them that you want Cap and Iron Man to be buddies again - and alive, too, I guess.
And tell them to give Christos Gage a raise. And an assistant.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Messiah Complex

Russell T. Davies might need a doctor...

of psychiatry.

(source: "Voyage of the Damned." Doctor Who. BBC One. 25 Dec. 2007.)

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Monday, December 24, 2007


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Boosterin' the TARDIS

Deedle-dee-dum deedle-dee-dum deedle-dee-dum dum dum dada dum...WOOWEEWOOOOOOOO...

If you'll forgive the brief musical interlude, I have something... fantastic to show you.

I was perusing the old episodes of Justice League Unlimited this morning, killing time and fulfilling my Booster Gold craving until #6 comes out by re-watching the Booster Gold episode (The Greatest Story Never Told), when I noticed a familiar shape making an appearance - a cameo that would rival the epic partnership of chocolate and peanut butter.

Gentlemen, BEHOLD:

Hey, haven't we seen that blue box somewhere before? And I think I may remember seeing it heading into that kind of swirly, vortex-like effect before, too... but where?

(photo unrepentantly swiped from )

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Curious...

...that you can spend a good chunk of your life trying to write the novel, or the movie script, and get absolutely nothing out of it, but you can write one six-word sentence (or paragraph, whatever) and get into print.

And what's even more maddening, perhaps it can even be ordained as the most frustrating thing in the world, is when you don't even remember what the hell you actually wrote.

I should explain further, dear readers: SMITH magazine has a new book out in February called Not Quite What I Was Planning. It's a collection of six-word "memoirs" that they've collected from the famous, the infamous, and the obscure alike, along the lines of Ernest Hemingway's famous "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

And, apparently, I'm in it. (I must be under the "obscure" heading.)

Maddening, like I said - unless they're lying to me, but I don't see how it could be to their advantage, as they are now obligated to send me a contributor's copy. It's true; they sent me an email and everything. My six lonely words are good enough to be published, and I'm in the horrible position of not being able to remember what I had written. Crap.

To be honest, the email almost went into my junk folder when I saw it - after all, I don't know any Rachels, and I've been dealing with so many Nigerian millionaires for so long that good news of any kind is immediately considered trash to me. It's a good thing, I guess, that I tend to read the subject lines of my mail, even if it's only for a good laugh.

Here are a few links to information about the project and the forthcoming book - I don't like to toot my own horn, but you should probably be buying that one.

Buy it at Amazon: Not Quite What I Was Planning

Article from the National Post:

Blog entry from SMITH:

And six more words from me: The cake is still a lie.


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Affinity for the Dead

Howdy, folks - I apologize for the lack of any substantial posts in the last little while, I've had an avalanche of new projects, Christmassy-things, and - fine, I admit it - apathy, all hit since the beginning of December.

Let's begin today's post with a hypothetical question, a question of philosophy, if you will. If you were to encounter this :

Your reaction would be most similar to:

A - Jesus-fuck, it's a demon.
B - Hey! I saw him wrestle in Memphis back in the eighties.
C - Mom?

or D -

D - I'd hit that.

What are you guys, Tim Burton? She has a skull for a face. Also, her tights appear to be burning with an ethereal flame. You do not "hey, baby" that, you run from it. This is why the DC universe needs superheroes - everybody else would have gone extinct if it were otherwise.

Plus, I mean, come on - she's obviously out of your league.

(source: Action Comics #595, reprinted for your convenience in Superman in the Eighties. Superman dies in this one! Not a hoax!* Not an imaginary story!)

(*totally a hoax.)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What it Takes to Write For the Toronto Star

Attention, Internet! Prepare your Curriculum Vitae, because The Toronto Star has lowered its standards to your level! No longer do you need to be unable to compare, contrast, and judge to join the staff of Canada's top-selling newspaper, you must simply posses all of the subtle humor of a sixth grader:

The penis was erected by first-year student Grayson Lee, 18, during Toronto's first snowfall last month.

(source: "Party's over at U of T residence," by Bill Taylor)

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Concise Comics Reviews: Countdown Arena #2

DC's latest Countdown to Final Crisis tie-in...

is really, really, fucking bright.

(Countdown: Arena will be available in a trade in mid-2008, just in time for your eyes to have fully healed.)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Desperately Avoiding Harlan Ellison

I posted previously about the walking embarrassment to writers everywhere that Harlan Ellison is, but even an asshole deserves to have the truth about him spoken. Turns out the Guardian of Forever is not in the latest Star Trek movie, but if you click that link, you will have to listen to the old crank speak, so I would advise you to just take my word for it.

And I do agree with what the old bastard has to say, even if I disagree with the way he handles himself. I posted my thoughts about the WGA strike here.

That's gonna be all for now, folks.


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Monday, December 10, 2007

Cap's Got a Gun

Apparently, a lot of folks were a little perturbed that old Cap'n America would be packing heat when he makes his return in January of 2008 (not the original Captain, but his replacement). I don't have any problem with a gun-wielding superhero, but then again, I don't have any deep nostalgic connection to Captain America like some comic-readers might.

I do, however, have just such a connection to my main man Mario, of the Mario Bros. And seeing him with a heater is just a little too much for me to handle.

(image from
(I'd also like to point out how much that cover looks like the one for First Blood, right down to the bandana. 'course, Rambo wasn't nearly so fond of peaches.)

This wonderful bit of nightmare-fuel was provided to us from the ever-enigmatic nation of Japan, just as Mario's popularity was at its height. In 1989, on the crest of buzz following the release of Super Mario Bros. 3, some bright spark figured that what Japanese children would enjoy more than anything else would be to see Mario, the Princess, and big-bad Bowser re-enact their own versions of fairy tales.

The resulting animated masterpieces took several liberties on the original stories, but we aren't talking "the Little Mermaid doesn't die," Disney-type liberties here. We're talking about such changes that not only include everyone's favorite plumber going postal, but also such scintillating concepts as Bowser in drag.

One of these videos is based on a Japanese tale called "Momotaro," or "Peach Boy." In the original story, an old Japanese couple find a giant peach floating down the river. Wasting no time in devouring every bit of questionable food that comes their way, they crack open the peach only to discover a boy inside, who explains that his fruit-vessel is a gift from heaven, and that he is to be their son. He grows up, and as teenagers are wont to do, heads to the lair of a demon-king with his talking animal friends and defeats the evil horde pretty handedly.

So, when put into the role of alien peach-boy (which shines new and very comfortable light on his relationship towards Princess Peach), how does our boy Mario come to exercise his god-given right to bear arms? Turns out that before the magical peach fell into their laps, the old couple had a grand-daughter, Princess Peach. Princess Peach is kidnapped by the demon king, played wonderfully here by the King of the Koopas, Bowser. This provides the motivation for Mario, who is less a Peach-Boy and more a Peach-Guy-With-a-Mustache, to abandon his new home with the old folks and throw down with the giant, fire-breathing dinosaur.

Before he can set off on his grand five-minute adventure, though, the old woman gives him what is sure to be handy: lunch. Also helpful: the enchanted family heirloom, that just happens to be an assault rifle. One would think that the ancient geezers (who, for the record, appear courtesy of performances by the slender Sledge Bros.) shouldn't have had any problems with kidnappings if they had a freakin' Uzi stored away in their cottage. See? Gun-locks do cause more harm than they prevent.

Somehow, epic journeys and little Italian heroes seem less interesting when their problems are solved by pointing a gun at the bad guy. When Mario finally makes it to Bowser's lair, he just points the gun at him, and that's it: game over.

I can finally see why people are upset when they learned that Captain America would be returning armed with a pistol. Fights just aren't as interesting with a gun as they are when the combatants are armed with swords, or only the ability to jump on the other guy's head.

The good guy's not supposed to have the power of a gun - he doesn't need it. Mario should inspire you based on his courage and pluck alone. Dude doesn't even wear a cup under his overalls. A gun is a far more sensible weapon, especially given that is opponents can breath fire and whatnot, but this is fiction; good is supposed to triumph over evil regardless of the power differential. Any idiot villain can use the brute force of a gun to get what he wants - a real hero uses his brains.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

What a long, strange week it's been...

It's been a hell of a week over in my life, as multiple migraines and an odd bout of spyware have kept me away from both the blog and anything that was the least bit productive. I finally got around to downloading the update to Firefox 2.somethingsomething thanks to having to reformat and re-install Windows. I'd been avoiding the upgrade because of the paranoia I have regarding the possible loss of my hundreds of bookmarks, many of which I never actually re-visit. I'm glad I did finally do it, though, because I'm digging the spell-checker, and that neat little feature that re-loads your tabs when Firefox inevitably crashes on you. That might be an old feature that I had disabled in the past, but nevertheless, it was new to me. I wuv you, Firefox.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

The X-Entertainment X-Mas Advent Calender is back, and it's even more engrossing than last year's, introducing the concept of parallel universes populated by rabbits and feudal-era-themed calenders. Is it an insult to this year's TV writers and producers or a compliment to Matt's creative acumen for me to say that I'm finding the Advent Calender to be a must-see event this year, while I hold no such views toward any of the TV shows that returned or premiered this fall?

Elsewhere, I think somebody should tell Worf that whatever the hell this is, it doesn't look like it's for sitting:
You should never need a lift to get into a chair.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Things That Make My Day, Volume 1

A new post on Craigslist, a post of the "ignore me, because I am so not familiar with the industry" variety, has elicited a response that warmed the cockles of my thoroughly-desiccated heart. Here's the original post:

Date: 2007-12-05, 12:33PM EST


BLACKBOOK PRESS, Toronto's NEWEST publishing house, is now accepting submissions from LOCAL FEMALE WRITERS ONLY.


-- Novels only (250-400 pages)
-- Hardcopy only (8/11 typed, double spaced, single-side, bound)
-- Mystery/Thriller -- must include some measure or erotic elements
-- Include SASE envelop if you wish your manuscript returned.
-- Must have contact information and photo of the author.
*** We encourage submitters to include a number they can be TEXTED at. **

We are primarily and most-eagerly seeking PULPCULTURE-style writing as seen in the dime-store novel era with a blend of ominous sex/violence, private-detectives femme-fatale, engenue et al. Supernatural elements are welcome as long as they are not the driving force behind the work. Please avoid the derivative, pedantic, cliche, plagiarism. We are also looking for writing that goes BEYOND the typical market (reading level generally grade 7-9 reading level).

This is a FEMALE WRITERS market only. Please no male submissions or they will be considered the property of the press, or destroyed. No decoys, ghost-writing.

COMPENSATION: Negotiable based on the length, quality and prospects of the work and the author themselves. First rights reserved, royalty, commission.

Anxious to find someone profilific/semi-prolific rather than one-trick ponies, someone we can market ongoingly and help build a market for.



SUITE 2201
M4H 1L7

And here's one user's answer:

Date: 2007-12-05, 1:24PM EST

How typical, how Canadian -- a start-up publishing venture that excludes a full half of the male population and doesn't have a clue about the commercial realities of the market, one that exists for the egotistical vision of some dilettante. Shall we guess? Barring men is a requirement of the government grant, which is the only thing that will keep you afloat, or your own biases? An amateur operation nonetheless, because your ad is full of spelling and grammar mistakes. Plus you insult would-be authors by suggesting some could be "one trick ponies." Nice of you to insult readers, too, with that myth about a grade 7 to 9 reading level.

Oh, and by the way, this nonsense over the male fool who does submit to you...? You'll claim the work as your "property"??? Really? So are we to infer you'll publish it and keep the profits, even though you have no legal right to do so? Please go ahead. Hopefully, you'll get sued. Can't wait to see you crash and burn when you discover the real challenges of publishing.

Good times.

Funny Pictures
moar funny pictures

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