Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For a change, not one of my favorite panels...oh, all right, I kinda like it:
The temptation to include 'DOINGGG!' in that last panel must have been almost overpowering.
Just a personal preference, you understand, but I prefer the Silver Surfer's board to be a physical object, a tangible thing, a blunt instrument. Not a sheet of energy to be created and recreated, not a disposable manifestation of the Surfer's power to be dispersed upon landing, and definitely not a Nerf plaything.

The Surfer's board should be like Thor's hammer or Captain America's shield; inviolate and indestructible. (Except on the rarest of occasions when it's dramatically necessary and/or cool.) It should be an object of power and respect and treated as such, by other characters and writers alike. (Even if the Surfer hits someone over the head with it.) Why I feel strongly about this, I couldn't say, but I feel the same way about this as others felt about Spidey's organic webshooters.

That said, I had a friend that violently hated that last panel there, but I'm pretty sure someone like the Surfer wouldn't just let the Hulk shatter his kneecap trying to break his board. The Surfer would use enough power to let the Hulk bend it; kind of the same way you might humor a little kid acting out.

I'm wondering how the new Fantastic Four movie will have the Silver Surfer's board now. I always thought it looked better with the tailfin, but I confess that might just be me.

From Incredible Hulk #250, written by Bill Mantlo, art by Sal Buscema. Read more!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yeah, this is probably the only place in NYC where Cap and Ms. Marvel can have a smoke. Avengers can't even smoke in their own mansion, they oughta have it declared a sovereign nation again or something...oh, that's their breath, it's cold out. Oops.

I seem to recall once or twice in the Gruenwald Cap run, where he had to repaint his shield: it's indestructible, but the paint is merely impact-resistant. Anyone who's had a shopping cart hit their car is probably wondering what kind of magic/unstable molecule paint Cap is using that doesn't chip under gunfire, death rays, and Hulk-level punches. The shield was allegedly supposed to be a hatch lid for a tank when originally made, which is also kind of dubious: I'm sure lots of tank parts are perfectly balanced for throwing at Nazis...

Hmm. This didn't occur to me until just now, but on the tail end of Mark Waid's second stretch on Cap, Cap's shield was lost in the ocean, salvaged by Jim Rhodes (a helicopter pilot with his own undersea salvage/recovery company? Such misuse of a cool character), subsequently shattered, and finally restored during a fight with Klaw. The last was in Captain America #22, which even the Grand Comics Database has to call "One of the unlikeliest moments in Cap's history; Waid stretches the suspension of disbelief here to the breaking point." (GCD is usually pretty straightforward, so I love when something is so out of hand they have to comment on it.) It occurs to me that I was OK with Cap's shield miraculously reforming through comic psuedo-scientific doubletalk, but it came back in color. "Because it's cool," is the only answer I have there.

From Avengers #194, "Interlude" Written by David Michelinie, pencils by George Perez, inks by Josef Rubinstein.

Out of office today on more overtime, so this post was one I started a while back, hence the Flickr link. I could see myself getting really incoherent as this goes on though.
Read more!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Off-topic: Even Hot Topic would have a hard time selling this one.
Sadly, it's hardly worse than my 'Internet Predator' idea.
I had a larger scan of some of the other horrible, dated, horrible t-shirts of the seventies, but it wouldn't load, which may in fact be somehow proof of a loving god that wants to protect you. You would think these archaic designs would seem charming and quaint and harmless, but some of them besides this one would probably still get you thrown out of school, kids! Like the giant revolver sticking out of a tucked-in belt. Or the 'Chicago' t-shirt, like the band. Oh, all right, that last one will just get you a much deserved beating.

Thankfully, they've been relegated to an increasingly more-forgotten past. Hopefully. Actually, I haven't been to a mall lately, so I guess they could be selling them at Sears or something. Don't tell me if I'm wrong, I don't want to know.

More overtime means less blog today, and of course 24 didn't help that out either. Am I a bad comics fan for watching 24 and taping Heroes? I don't think I've watched last week's episode yet either. At any rate, probably actual comics tomorrow. Barring disaster.

Ad from Marvel Adventures #1, a 1975 Daredevil reprint book.
EDIT: Tried loading it one more time, and no dice! Thank Internet Voodoo or whatever for taking the hit for you there... Read more!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Let's get retarded: That Stupid Gun!
Soon to be #1 in internet searches for 'whamma-bamma-loo.'

Probably my favorite Judge Dredd setup ever, "The Stupid Gun!" Written by T.B. Grover (a pseudonym of John Wagner), art by Ron Smith. Although there's lots of Dredd stories that end with body counts in the triple digits (and occasionally in the several million, as well) this one ends with a couple hundred drooling imbeciles to boot. Surprisingly fun, and while I'd love to have a gun that turned people into morons, but these days who'd notice?

Reprinted in Quality Comics Judge Dredd #18. Read more!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Probably the only explanation for Excalibur that's ever made sense.
Y'know, if these four decided to 'get the band back together,' I think I'd be OK with that.

From What The--?! #4, "Mutant Beach Party! Chapter 2, the Fall on the Mutants." Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Hector Collazo, inks by Kyle Baker.

My wife has a little party tomorrow, and the boy hurt his leg, while the youngest was a little beat from his playdate. So, I spent most of the evening cleaning and minding the youngest, while the kids watched Justice League Unlimited. (Well, the youngest ran around a bit more than he watched.) I didn't reckon I'd have much time to blog, and I was right.

Even though it had long stretches of 'meh' issues, and the last two years are just crap, I really liked the first run of Excalibur, particularly because it gave Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, and Phoenix a home for about ten years. But the above origin makes more sense to me... Read more!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Trust me, you don't want to see Rogue before she 'puts her face on.'
Today we hit Spider-Man Team-Up #3, featuring the Fantastic Four, "the wizards fantastic" Written by Dan Jurgens, art by Bob McLeod. Hoo boy, where to start? This was during the stretch when Ben Reilly was Spider-Man: although he isn't named as such in this story, you can tell by the costume, the webshooters on the outside, etc. The Fantastic Four had just recently returned to its 'classic' lineup, ditching Ant-Man with the return of the thought-dead Reed Richards; which puts this story about twenty minutes before Onslaught and Heroes Reborn. Reed had been stuck somewhere primitive for a year or two's worth of issues, and came back with a beard and Rogue's haircut.

Yeah, this wasn't a highwater mark for mighty Marvel. There's an ad on the back cover for Spider-Man cereal, which at that point I was buying more regularly than his comics. (Plus, I got a Spidey cereal bowl from it...even though I was in college at the time.)

Since it's not mentioned that this story's Spider-Man wasn't the original (and honestly, would you mention it if you didn't have to?), it's easy to miss the incongruity of Spidey acting like the FF are old friends, practically family; yet in continuity he hadn't seen them in several years. You could argue Reilly is just throwing himself into the role of Spider-Man, so no one suspects it's not the same guy; or perhaps Peter coached him or put him up to it. ('Oh, one more thing: every year, I use my webbing to clog every toilet in the Daily Bugle building.' 'Why?' 'Oh, tradition. Get to it!')

That said, the comedy value of this would skyrocket if Johnny either intentionally or unknowingly reversed that, dropping uncomfortable asides to Reilly based on years of friendship they haven't shared. ('You remembered our anniversary! I didn't think you cared!')

The story opens with Spidey in stealth mode, breaking into Four Freedoms Plaza to play a birthday prank on Johnny Storm. Spidey does a fair amount of property damage and malicious mischief getting into what probably is the most secure facility in the Marvel U, but I think Reed's defense system is programmed to recognize Spidey as a friend and not electronically disembowel him. (I think the Trapster got in once disguised as Spider-Man, so maybe not a great idea.) Spidey leaves the Torch a 'birthday bomb,' because isn't that what friends do? Blow up asbestos solution in their faces while they're sleeping? ('Ha-ha, you can't flame on, and you've got lung cancer!')

After the bomb blows, Spidey is caught by the Thing, and the rest of the Four; but not because he set off the alarm: an extradimensional portal has opened up in Johnny's room. No reason, just because. Also, Johnny has baseball and car posters all over his room, meaning:

A. He's a huge fan of baseball and racing.

B. He's functionally retarded.

C. Actually, Johnny only puts those up so he doesn't seem like a huge perv: usually, he has more porn than your average mid-Western university.

Back to the portal, which everyone treats as seriously as you would a loose carpet tack, until a tentacle reaches out and pulls in the Thing. Johnny can't flame on, and Sue's force-field powers are broken (no idea why); so Reed stretches to fish Ben out. Instead of Ben, he pulls out a midget wizard. Yeah.

The wizard had opened the portal, because through his mystic viewing portal, he had seen the awe-inspiring sight of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, C-beams glitterring in the dark near the Tannhauser gate...no, that's Blade Runner. The wizard was watching Johnny's video game console. Circa 1996, that probably would've been the Playstation, unless Reed built Johnny his own console system...he could, but probably wouldn't. (Oddly, for a 1996 comic, all the ads are for kid's products and candy, and no video games except Earthworm Jim VHS tapes mentioning his game. Still, it's a sharp reminder that kids used to read these, isn't it?)

The four piece together what happened, then Sue points out Ben's still missing. Even though he's fallen for about fifteen minutes, things aren't going that badly for him.
Of course Ben checked out the girls, he's not made of stone...I'm so sorry.
When I started on this issue, I was just going to post this page. Between the harem girls and the "Crom's Beard!" epithet, there's a nice old-school Conan feel for just a second. It doesn't last, though, and the Thing's eyes look like ping-pong balls in a lot of panels.

Jesus, Ben, keep that in your pants!
After the locals trip all over themselves attacking and fleeing him, the Thing switches over to his Ben Grimm form. Note I didn't say 'regular,' it's weird for me to see him changing back and forth. I can think of like three different occasions when he's been able to switch, and it always ends with him stuck/back to normal as the Thing full-time again. Ben steals a robe and wanders off to see what's what.

Back in Johnny's room, the wizard is getting an insane amount of enjoyment from a Playstation demo screen; and Reed, Sue, and Spidey are going to lower themselves through the portal to find Ben. Spidey explains his birthday prank:
And if you have to explain the joke...
Spidey acts like a twelve-year old this whole issue, I swear.

Ben decides the FF will come looking for him, so he decides to go back to the tower so he can get a good view for them. The inhabitants of the tower, perhaps understandably, don't take kindly to this; and it escalates into a brawl with dragon-riders by the time Spidey and company get there. Sue clonks the bad wizard in the back of the head with, um, her fist, I guess; but the wizard had already shot a very, very slow magic bolt back at the portal.
Spidey risks a palm-full of Thing-crack here, making him more of a hero than you or I will ever be.
To get the good wizard off his ass, Spidey webs Johnny's Playstation (the portal is inexplicably closer now then when Ben fell through, but it's still at least a fifty-yard web shot) and pulls it through. The good wizard follows it, and Spidey makes him banish the dragon-riders and close the portal in exchange for the game. As the rest of the Fantastic Four gets back, Johnny considers leaving Spidey trapped in the wizard's world, but pulls him through the closing portal.
Wait, didn't we have a kid?
For his punishment, Spidey is forced to serve the FF Johnny's birthday dinner. The wizard gets his system, but without electricity, a TV, AV cables, and Doritos it's not doing him any good. Thus ends a minor footnote in the history of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. Come to think of it, Spider-Man Team-Up pretty much ended up the same way. I'm curious to see if the updated Brave and the Bold from DC can bring back the team-up book, or if that's as hopeless in today's market as quarterly books--again, SMTU. A team-up book that at least pretended to be dramatic might be a start, though... Read more!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

(Mostly) Off-topic: Googum's Workout Plan!

Sorry no blog yesterday. My wife had a rough day, and wanted some company, since she rented Saw III. She has seen a combined 47 minutes of the three Saw movies, since she watches them with her eyes half-covered, or hiding behind the couch. You can compare that to her 23 viewed minutes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (fell asleep on three different theatre viewings), and no minutes of six Star Wars films. The wife's not a genre fan, particularly.

Anyway, I've been up since four, and I had to go to the doctor after work. Toe fungus, a little souvenir from my last gym membership--along with a bitch of a bill. Gym contracts are for chumps, kids! But, even as a chump I shouldn't complain, since that's about the biggest health problem I've had since fifth grade. And the doctor was rather amused at the utter grossness of my toenails, which he had to clip samples of, to grow a culture. (And an aside to my doctor: goggles, sir, goggles. I thought you were going to put your eye out when that nail came flying at you.) Then, we'll see if I get Lamasil or something, which will amuse my son no end; he thinks those ads and "Dad's wooden toe" are funny as hell.

I did get weighed though, which sucked: 217, a good twelve over my usual weight, and 27 above where I'd like to be. Is there a more horrible feeling than to see your weight, know it's too high, all while you're starving? I feel fat, I have the nice deathlike pallor of a computer user that hasn't seen the sun for three months, and I miss biking to work; especially since that probably covered some of the damage done by my sketchy eating habits.

Which brings us to the vaguely comic related portion of my insane ramblings! Lots of other bloggers have pointed out the unrealistic female body images and BMI numbers--basically, your comic book females with huge breasts, tiny waists, and a rough weight of 110 pounds. I saw the link over at When Fangirls Attack! but have no idea on the actual post. Sorry, especially since I think it involved, you know, actual research and hard numbers; but BMI is for girls. There's only one thing I could possibly base my target weight on...
Why did Dane superglue batwings to his helmet? For a cooler silhouette?
Yes, damaging body image isn't just for the ladies! Now, fellas, just by flipping through the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, you too can feel like a lazy slob! Let's take a look at issue two of the original, 1983 series. We've got Captain America, 6'2'', 240 pounds. Yeah, but he's Captain freaking America, and I know you don't carry a twelve pound shield around with you all day. Let's go on...I'm six feet even, and so are Bullseye (pre-adamantium bones) and Black Panther, and they each weigh 185 pounds. Excuse me just a moment.
The odd thing is, I remembered this panel exactly, when I needed it.
Yeah, sorry, I just had to start my new exercise program. It's a strict regiment of squat thrusts and vomiting.

God, I'm trying to tell myself those are 1983 numbers, before twenty-some years of steroid injected hamburger and Flintstones vitamins. I need some pro athlete weights to consider, since now I'm wondering if Mark Mcquire would be beefier than Cap.

I probably should do some research or something, since I have no clue if that's a viable weight for that height and body mass--both the Knight and Bullseye are probably Olympic level athletes--or if they're completely pulled out of the air. I just want to fit in my jeans, be able to run with the dog, and wrestle the kids down without having a stroke.

I'm only half-kidding the exercise program: I was half-watching some anime, girl wrestlers in powered armor...yes, I'm aware of how that sounds, and know that description doesn't exactly narrow it down. The girls are trying to get an old coach to come out of his retirement/drunken stupor to train them, and he tells them until they can do a thousand squat thrusts not to waste his time. Sounds dumb, but I'm serious, I barely got up to a hundred, and that took me a couple weeks to work up to.

Anyway: working out more and blogging shouldn't be mutually exclusive...I think. I doubt I'm gonna get anywhere the Handbook numbers, but we'll see. Anyone have any real-world BMI/weight numbers, or comic workout tips, let me know.

(Black Knight page art by Kerry Gammill, head writer Mark Gruenwald. Blue panel--his name, not his color--from Pirate Corp$! #1, written and drawn by Evan Dorkin.) Read more!

Monday, January 22, 2007

My subconscious needs a script doctor, or I swear I will ankle this imaginary flick.
Usually, I can't notice 'subtext' until it whacks me upside the head, but...
From Ghost Rider #81, "The End of the Ghost Rider!" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Bob Budiansky, inks by Dan Bulanadi and Kevin Dzubin. Reprinted in the Original Ghost Rider Rides Again! #7.

So, I had to get up at four in the morning for work today. It's only an hour earlier than usual for me, and honestly work is about the only thing I can consistently wake up for on time: friends, family, school, exercise; all of those I can blow off and sleep in, but work I can be fired from. (And then there was a system failure, and I only ended up working an hour overtime. Better than nothing, I suppose, and then I was able to help my wife with the kids.)

Anyway, I was dreaming about the Ghost Rider movie. I was unaware of giving it a whole lot of conscious thought, really. I had planned to see it, and figured it would be like Daredevil (from the same director, Mark Steven Johnson): that is, profitable with just enough changes to piss off the fanboys. I'm hard pressed to think of another $100 million grossing film (that's not a Star Wars prequel) that is as maligned as Daredevil was.

For some reason--I'm guessing 'synapse misfire', Nick Cage/Johnny Blaze was sharing a crappy apartment with the Sam Elliott character, and the other guy--Donal Logue, thank you IMDB! Speaking as a guy who's lived in crappy apartments with many roommates, Logue seems like a guy who'll sit around your apartment playing Mario Kart and drinking Coors until 3:00 AM. You are never going to get Sam Elliott as a roommate. Never ever. I don't care how eloquent the ad you put in the free paper is, or if you live in the very epitome of Texas: never.

Later, Cage (date of birth 01-07-64) was trying to work up the nerve to blurt out that he's always loved the Eva Mendes (03-05-74) character, which is only slightly weird since he's ten years older. Mendes was a little distraught, since they were watching a prisoner being moved from jail to state lockup (and that's totally a spectator event, if I'm not mistaken), guards moving him along in chains and shackles and probably but hopefully not one of those Hannibal Lector masks. I don't know the exact motivation, but we can figure said prisoner swore undying revenge, blah blah blah, right? And he is promptly struck by lightning and incinerated, to turn up as Blackheart in the next reel. Great.
Sadly, I think if you shake your monitor while looking at this, that would have higher production values than my dream.
My dream ended up being all setup and no payoff. How Cage becomes Ghost Rider, or even any Ghost Rider scenes at all, was left out by my subconscious, as my alarms went off. Thank you, mind. Glad I didn't pay $7.50 for that.

A very dark panel from Ghost Rider #5 (March 2006 limited), "The Road to Damnation, part five" Written by Garth Ennis, art by Clayton Crain. Read more!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I have no idea what Aquaman has for a hand now: a hook, water, a plunger, what?
I have no idea if cracking your knuckles is really bad for you or not. Sorry.
From Aquaman #14, "Lamentations" Written by Peter David, pencils by Mary Egeland, inks by Howard Shum. A nice character bit that wouldn't have occurred to me there. I've been reading David's stuff in various forms for years, from his Hulk run, Star Trek stuff, and his old and new runs on X-Factor and Spider-Man. In fact, David does so much work, I've long since lost any hope of keeping up with all of it. I probably will pick up his Dark Tower adaptation, but isn't that just begging for the trade? Having a little bit of a hard time seeing the point of singles there.

I'm working overtime the next three days and going to the doctor, so I'm not sure when I'm going to be reading comics, or blogging for that matter. I'll be back to more-or-less daily as soon as possible. (Even though I was snowed in this weekend and still didn't post...) Be back as soon as possible though, so don't set the blogosphere on fire, or whatever, until I get back... Read more!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Defending comics, which shouldn't be harder than standing two dozen super-poseable figures but is.
The pecs look a little off here, but I would definitely live in the Graveyard of Solitude.
Sonuva...When I started roughing this train of thought out, Walmart had the DC Superheroes Brainiac for five bucks, and I missed it. Grr. Then I thought I may have to dig some more, since I knew they had more clearance than that...and then I did find it. Not too bad, not as super-poseable some others, but pretty serviceable for an evil skullfaced robot.

This was a pre-Crisis revamp (as was Lex Luthor's green battlearmor, also in this set of figures) although I think the spaceship shaped like Brainiac's head has made more appearances than this version of Brainy. The redesign is way more toyetic than a bald green guy in short pants, but I can't help thinking it was just done to mess with Legion of Super-Heroes continuity...

But what I was really thinking of, was the comic packaged with Brainiac, which I already have. Not because I had bought it off the comic shop shelves, but because I picked up the Bizarro action figure already, and it came with that toy. For the most recent Superman DCSH, Mattel just packed in the same comics again; which meant Lex Luthor and Brainiac came with comics at best tangentially related to them.

In the same vein, the new Hasbro Marvel Legends do not include a comic, while the ToyBiz versions did. Not to bash Hasbro, but ToyBiz was all about the pack-ins: weapons, the so-called 'Doop stands,' build-a-figure pieces, small vehicles or bases, and/or trading cards were all sometimes, even often included; but always a comic. (Well, some characters got poster books, which sucked. Those were like saying 'this character has a 30+ year history, and we can't find a good single issue featuring him. Here's some covers.') Admittedly, not all of the pack-ins were winners: a lot of the 'Legendary Riders' really, really weren't.

Unwholesome confession: my feet look just like that. Socks too, sadly.
And a lot of people didn't care for the comics. Some didn't like the selections, as it could very well seem an utterly random choice. Others didn't need reprints of books they already had, now stuffed with ads for wrestling toys and MegaMorphs. Some had an issue where the character didn't do much, or appeared in a different costume. Some were edited, removing subplots or unrelated material, others weren't. Many would have a cover, chosen as a more iconic image, attached to a different comic.

Ms. Marvel, for example, came with a Dodson cover circa House of M, but over Avengers Annual #10: excellent Michael Golden art, but Ms. Marvel only appears in costume in flashback. That was the issue where she lost her powers and memories to Rogue, remember? Not a highlight for her character. And those comics probably should have been highlights, right?

Mattel's DCSH followed ToyBiz's lead on the comics, but seems to be phasing them out already. And there's probably a million reasons not to include them: expense, licensing fees (as a branch of Marvel, I'm pretty sure ToyBiz was getting a deal on including the comics, whereas Hasbro may have to pay more), international (non-English) sales, shipping weight, cost of paper.

Then there's even some buyers and parents that prefer not to have a set backstory for a character, because that way they (or God forbid, kids) can make their own. Brainiac would probably work pretty well for that, and I remember a review for Marvel's Deadpool where the reviewer loved the figure so much, he made his own history for him, without ever reading or wanting to read a Deadpool comic. (I had thought that was from OAFE, but I don't entirely recall.) I would say he's missing out, but then again who am I to rain on his fun? I can pretty easily imagine kids having fun with Psylocke or Ms. Marvel figures and being absolutely better off not knowing some of the details of the characters' pasts. ('Now my eyes are ripped out!' 'Now I'm pregnant for no reason!')

So, with so many reasons why not to include comics, I had better come up with a damn compelling one to keep them, right? Right?...yeah, you would think.

I guess my main argument would be, and others probably smarter than I have pointed this out as well and with maybe even figures to back it up, do comics want to be the tail, or the dog? The comics industry could continue to backslide, to cannibalize its fanbase by selling only to the same readers over and over again; while making the real green on movies and toys and merchandising. Or, Marvel and DC could make at least a halfassed attempt to reach new readers by continuing to include comics with their toys. Never mind that (at least in terms of short-term profits) cultivating new and future readers isn't strictly their job. Never mind that a large portion of buyers may already have or not want the comics--and if you don't, I strongly encourage you to give them to someone who does. Give 'em for Halloween. And the expense has got to be fairly manageable as a loss leader-slash-advertising insert. It comes down to, are comics worth reading, or, are they just going to become a cheap way to pitch a prospective movie or game? As my wife called 300 once, are comics just eggs, little movies that haven't been made yet?
Ahem. 'Grr. Argh.'
All right, let's look at Brainiac again. Surprisingly, I didn't see a review for him at OAFE; either for the DC Super Heroes version, or the DC Direct Crisis on Infinite Earths one. Michael Crawford had a review of the DCSH version, which includes a photo of Brainy's braincase that I could not get for the life of me. Here's a link to the DC Direct page, and their 'Robot Brainiac,' who appears to have ball-jointed hips, no hip-pods, brighter eyes, and a slightly larger skull dome, which to me looks like a robot afro. Just for good measure, here's the Wikipedia page for Brainiac, but I noticed it didn't point out the Robot redesign was from George Perez...because it's not, Ed Hannigan is credited as designer. (Perez did the Luthor armor. Duhr.)
Only the pro reviewers are going to have such luxuries as 'backgrounds' and 'focus.'
I counted 21 joints for DCSH Brainiac: neck, 2 shoulders, 2 biceps, 2 elbows, 2 wrists, 1 chest, 1 waist, 2 hips (and the hip pods swivel out as well), 2 mid-thigh, 2 knees, 2 mid-calves, and 2 ankle. Because of the robot-ness of the design, most of the joints don't stick out the way they might on a human character. Still, in playing with him with the Oldest Son and counting the joints, Brainiac's legs got loose. Almost floppy, too many jello shots loose.

Both shoulders and the head have transparent covers over 'wires,' a nice effect even if it seems antiquated now, but it's still a better look than a robot in short pants. The tubes in his back are allegedly detachable; I don't know if I'd try it, but if they come loose during play don't panic. Aside from the comic, Brainiac does get the shaft as far as accessories: no bottle city of Kandor, no shrink ray, no model of his skullhead ship or weird little Koko monkey. Bit of a rip, that; but it is regularly $10 (in this area) against roughly $15-17 for DC Direct, and DC Direct is usually lacking in accessories as well. (DC Direct is a slightly larger scale, however.) For comparison, Toybiz Legends could be had for between $8 and $12; and so far Hasbro Legends are $10.
KHAAAAAANNNN!!!
Anyway. Just a thought, and now that I've gotten that out of my head, now I have to try to remember or look up if Brainiac has appeared like that post-Crisis... Read more!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Comics Day!

I don't usually talk about new comics (which I say every time I do...), but we'll make an exception today, especially since these two are from the opposite ends of Marvel's output, yet still have some similarities.Best parade ever!
First up is Marvel Adventures Avengers #9, "A Not-so Beautiful Mind" Written by Jeff Parker, pencils by Juan Santacruz, inks by Raul Fernandez. Or, as it will be forever known, the MODOK issue. (Since it's an all-ages book, the 'K' for Killing had to be changed to 'C' for Conquest, but you know who it is.)

After attacking AIM's secret base, the Avengers are defeated by MODOC's mind control (interestingly, Iron Man had defenses against it, as he did in his regular Marvel U. book) and put through the same process that made him a giant head with stubby little arms and legs. Unfortunately, the process goes awry; making the M.O.D.Avengers, who continue "fighting crime...in a more conquery sort of way." For example, the hoverchaired heroes not only crush Attuma's invasion of Boston, they then proceed to invade his home.

While not as good as that cover...well, hell, there's no way that it was going to be, was there? It's still old-school comics fun, that manages to squeeze in a couple more super-villains for good measure. It's only weakness is usually Marvel Adventures strength: single issue stories. Seven new M.O.D.O.C.'s should've been worth a two-parter. (And that's the only time I'm typing all those periods for that.)
Y'know, I think Maureen here is the first Marvel character to announce having an orgasm. Bravo, Maureen, it's about time.
On the other end of the scale, we have Wisdom #2, "The Rudiments of Wisdom, part two: The Village that Walked like a Woman" Written by Paul Cornell, pencils by Trevor Hairsine, inks by Paul Neary. (Brief aside: I believe Paul Neary has inked various comics for over twenty years, since I recall his work back on Captain America in the 80's. Thank you Paul!)
A MAX limited series, featuring British super-intelligence agency MI-13, and featuring Pete Wisdom, former Warren Ellis mouthpiece in Excalibur when it was good. (Currently, Wisdom's also in the new Chris Claremont Excalibur as well, and I haven't read it; so I won't harsh on it.)

The storyline, which does take fun little sidebars into deeply obscure Marvel continuity and Beatles jokes, also has a very adult feel. Maybe not grown up, but old enough to have seen a few things. Cornell has some plot points that seem like he wants to get them out of his head before they spoil the budget--he's a writer for the new Dr. Who, which I sadly haven't seen yet. One of said points may have been used elsewhere before (a Clive Barker story and an Authority origin come to mind) but it's still well done.

The problem is, this is issue two, and while still moving the larger storyline forward, crams in a lot. Some things could probably have stood to be expanded upon, while John the Skrull's dream sequence is too long, but funny. Also, according to the solicits, Hairsine won't be finishing out the series; and vile speculation posits he's either way behind, or Marvel realized he should be on a more high-profile book. A little disappointing, since the art's been great--bit of a Bryan Hitch influence? Well, just have to see how the new guy does.

One more thing both books have in common: sales are dicey on both. I, of course, encourage you to give them a shot; but I wouldn't be surprised to see Wisdom do very well as a trade, and the Avengers' story will probably be reprinted in a number of ways. However you do it, read 'em. I'm a little disappointed to only pick up two comics today, but two comics that I enjoyed this much should be good enough. Read more!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yeah, I kinda feel like that.
Actually, no matter how bad I feel, I'm still glad I'm not Manchester Black.
Bother. I'm working on a couple of longer posts, but today I had to deal with some real world issues; meaning problems that couldn't be punched, Superboy-reality-punched, or defeated by the proper combination of mutant powers. Ah, the real world sucks.

The Youngest is two years old, but doesn't talk; and so is going to need a batch of speech and occupational therapy. Right now, I don't think he has any major problems like autism, but he isn't as developed as he should be in some areas. The Wife and I are kicking ourselves a bit, because we felt he would talk and whatnot when he was ready, and he needed the help earlier. Also, and I'm probably worse on this, Youngest hasn't had a lot of motivation to learn words, when squawking to dad gets him his sippy-cup lickety-quick.

I'm sure that kid is going to be fine, after a lot of work; but it is scary. All this week he'll be in tests and sessions: when I came home today, he was just getting up after a longer nap, worn out from being examined. The Wife, the Boy, and myself have been talking to him, asking him questions, trying to get him to point things out and make words. I'm scared even though I'm positive he's fine. But hell, I had some speech therapy in grade school, and me words good now use. (Actually, I think I couldn't say my 'L' sounds, if I remember correctly.)

So, I didn't get a real comics post done today. Yet, anyway, although I don't know if I'm going to keep hacking away at it or go to bed. Also, the drafts I'm finishing up seem a little gloomier than usual, looking at the current state of my comics buying today, and wondering if that's reflective of a trend. Also, I'm not noting credits for today's panel, since I'll be coming back to this comic; which, if you're a toy purchaser, you may recognize. More later, and until then, stay well. Read more!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Comics don't usually make me miss cable, but..
Would someone who bandages up their neck have a chance in a vampire beauty contest?  Oh, ask Anita Blake or something.
From Painkiller Jane/Hellboy #1, "Ancient Laughter" Written by Brian Augustyn (with Mike Mignola as 'dialogue coach and plot inspiration'), pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Jane's co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti. How did Jane get top billing?

Anyway, with both Jane and Hellboy having new movies coming--animated Hellboy and Jane on Sci-Fi, I think--I stumbled back across this issue. Jane is working security and Hellboy consulting as archeologists open (against both's warnings) a prehistoric cask, releasing an ancient devil-god. Hilarity ensues.

I'm underselling it with the description, and by admitting the only other Painkiller Jane comic I've read was her crossover with the Punisher, where she was portrayed as a bit more of a nutjob. So my only feelings toward her, is that she can work in more than one setting. Still, I like this crossover more than I liked the Batman/Starman/Hellboy one, and that had Mignola art. May have to re-read that and the Ghost crossover, though.

For the Hellboy animated movie, I hope they keep the 'world's most famous paranormal investigator' angle--in the live-action version, he was kept secret and was known only as an urban legend. I like the idea of this big red lug having the same kind of fame as, say, Stephen Hawkings or Jacque Cousteau: a celebrity, but not one you'd see in People Magazine or Hollywood Squares.

Unfortunately, I probably will have to wait until I can rent or buy both features on DVD; but sometimes that seems like a small price to pay to keep Fox News, the Nashville Network, the home shopping shows, and E! out of my house...
I would love to be able to put 'squasher of' anything on my resume. Read more!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Well, after that much buildup, of course it's going to disappoint, which is why I usually show up late.

Sometimes, in the course of several months of comics, a villain can be built up into what seems like an insurmountable obstacle for a hero; all to make it that much more dramatic and satisfying when the hero finally wins. Fair enough. But sometimes, the story builds up so much, and the hero's victory is then so decisive, it's hard to picture that villain as a credible threat ever again.
This scene is after the two rocks Sinestro hired to kill Hal Jordan deliver his body.  Yeah, I know, but at least they didn't kill him by hitting him in the head.
(The converse to the long-term villain would be someone like Sinestro, who showed up for his routine ass-kicking time and again; in this sequence, about to be beaten like a rug off-panel. Sinestro was dead for a long time in DC continuity, because he had become a creampuff.)

For me, it's the Mandarin: the first appearance of his that I read, and probably my first Iron Man comic, features Iron Man defeating him so one-sidedly, by the end all the Mandarin can do is stand and watch as his castle is destroyed. I swear, you really think Mandarin is about to cry there by the end.
Any comic that starts with this, recap is just gravy by this point.
Iron Man #100, "Ten Rings to Rule the World!" Written by Bill Mantlo, art by George Tuska and Mike Esposito. Great Jim Starlin cover too. Like I said, I'm pretty sure this was my first Iron Man comic, although I had probably seen him in the Marvel house ads. This issue would be the big finish of a plotline that had been building for a while: I've picked up a few of the prior issues since, but I'm not sure exactly how long this had gone on.
I guess repulsoring it's face off is one way to see if its alive or not.
Like so many of the comics I really love, it starts with a bang: years later I would read #99, and see Tony Stark, in an older Iron Man armor, rescue Michael O'Brien as mentioned above. The caption in #100 doesn't mention, though, that O'Brien had been wearing the newer model, and Tony reveals his secret identity to him, trades armors, and then boot-jets into action, starting with the skull-faced samurais of the Mandarin's Death Squad!
3
As O'Brien laments his suckitude, Iron Man enters the Mandarin's castle, and confronts him. They fight for a bit, with a break when Mandy's ice ring freezes Shellhead up and Mandy can recap his evil master plan: frame Tony Stark for treason, check. Stark's missile defenses about to be shut down, check. Missile launch to trigger global holocaust...how did the Mandarin plan on surviving that, anyway?
That smoke effect shows up later too.  Nowadays its probably all Photoshopped...and I'm ok with that, really.
Mandy glosses over that to instead explain how he survived bitchslapping "an explosively-charged robot Yellow Claw in IM #70--Arch." (Editor Archie Goodwin, who also wrote Marvel's Star Wars up to Empire, and was generally awesome.)

First, what a great demise. Second, Mandarin's inevitable resurrection is also more interesting than the usual 'healing factor' or 'escaped at the last second': The Yellow Claw leaves a flunkie to dispose of the Mandarin's charred corpse, but the flunkie helps himself to the Mandarin's ten rings of power. Good idea, bad idea: before the flunkie can become the new Mandarin, the original takes over his mind from the rings, moves into his body, and remakes it to look like his old carcass. Technically, the flunkie may have gotten his wish...
I don't usually do full-page scans, but there's so much going on in these two.
(And, I don't have my copy of Marvel Universenext to me right now, so I don't remember all ten. Or do I? Let's see: black light, white light, vortex beam, disintegrator, mind-controller, electricity, poison gas, ice beam...has to be heat beam and magnety, right? I kept thinking one defeats DVD region-coding, a snarky comment from Iron Man in a modern issue that I mentioned the other day. Crap, the one I thought was poison gas was the matter rearranger, of course. And the impact beam! Damn, it's been too long since I've seen the Mandarin, but god forbid Iron Man fight a goddamn villain anymore.)
In the background on the last panel, I always think that looks like the Mandarin's samurai skullface teddy bear.
While the Mandarin goes on about body-jacking, Iron Man has finally, dramatically...reached a knob to turn up the heat and break out of the ice. Yes, I know that's not very 'futurist,' but it was functional, all right? Iron Man starts to rally, then magnetically pulls the rings off of Mandy's fingers. He uses "a palm-magnet (to) electronically neutralize their power!" Yeah, that didn't take: the rings are alien technology or magic or something, Tony; not your old Styx tape. Still, by this point Tony is pretty much murdering Mandy, and he slaps him into...his big missile control console. Nice.
I know it's a trap, but is the tear gas strictly necessary? Meanwhile, in Washington, sort of: the Mandarin turns on his secret spy camera, to watch his agent name Tony Stark as a traitor, in front of two senators and a news crew. By this point, Mandy's master plan is looking a little threadbare, but maybe he could pull it out if Stark's missile defenses were turned off. Really though? That's your plan? I mean, if Bill Gates was discredited or framed or ate a puppy or something, would everyone just quit using Windows like that? Mac users, look into that, please.

The agent, who had been posing as Senator Hawk's assistant, dramatically proclaims that the evidence in this briefcase proved Tony Stark had sold the U.S. defective missile defenses, and sold foreign powers Iron Man armor. He pops open the case, which instead releases tear gas, then melts. Senator Hawk and Stark had left the briefcase as a trap, set to open once before arming; to let the traitor incriminate himself. Furious that Stark wouldn't be discredited, and that his missile defenses would still be in place, Mandarin kills his agent by remote control. This was probably the conclusion of a subplot that may have been going for a while, but just coming into this issue, the agent's murder seems more hardcore, if a bit arbitrary.
Ooh, those cops are going to have a hard time explaining that one. Probably should've stopped Mandy pressing buttons a few minutes ago, huh? Fed up, Iron Man proceeds to use his repulsor rays on the Mandarin's console, missiles, and castle; levelling the place while lecturing Mandy on why he doesn't kill. The lecture is probably punishment enough. Without his rings and infrastructure, Mandy is reduced to an older Asian guy in a Ming the Merciless costume. (And pointy ears. Why does he have pointy ears?) Much later, he would try different looks like samurai-style armor or a three-piece suit, or long silk robes. But the Mandarin would never seem like a credible threat to me again, which may not be saying much for a guy with two fistfuls of costume jewelry.
Stay strong, Mandy: Don't let him see you cry... Green Lantern and Sinestro panels from, of all places, Action Comics #444, "Beware the Hero-Killers!" Written by Cary Bates, art by Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell. Read more!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I'm...I'm just going to sit down for a moment.
No one knew Tony was unconscious in there; they all thought he was tying his shoe or praying or something.

No real entry today, sorry: spent the day with the kids at home, until the older one went to his grandparents. Unlike a lot of the country, no unseasonable warmth here: it was maybe one degree today, and I didn't feel like dragging myself and the boys out in it. And yet, I still didn't get to read any comics today. And tomorrow's 24...

From Iron Man vol. 3, #69, "Manhunt, part five" Written by Robin Laws, pencilled by Michael Ryan, inked by Sean Parsons and Rich Perrotta; with an assist from outgoing writer Mike Grell. More tomorrow. Maybe. Read more!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Now's no time for sarcasm, Tony.'Ow.  If only there was something easier than fighting villains.  But what?'
You ever try and think of something, and all you can remember is a sarcastic answer that doesn't help at all? I was trying to remember all ten of the Mandarin's rings yesterday--which I freely admit isn't the most productive use of my day, but let that go--and I lost two. Why was I trying to remember? Well, partially to try to stave off my impending senility, but mostly because we'll be looking at the old Mandarin, and Iron Man a little more later.

In the above panel, Iron Man's lost a pint and change worth of blood, while the new, Mandarin Jr. (Oh, boy, if he was a DC character they totally would've made him 'Mandarin Jr.' Undeniably.) is minty fresh and sporting chi powers like...I don't know, Akuma on Street Fighter. I think this was the last appearance to date of Temugin, the Mandarin's monastery-raised and trained illegitimate kid. I'm not sure Iron Man ever beat Temugin either; instead, he usually had to use the new Mandarin's sense of honor against him.

From Iron Man vol. 3, #69, "Manhunt, part five" Written by Robin Laws, pencilled by Michael Ryan, inked by Sean Parsons and Rich Perrotta; with an assist from outgoing writer Mike Grell. Read more!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Batman's fighting it, but Thorn is getting her team-up one way or another.
OMG, I've totally done that!  Graveyard ditching is awesome!
As we saw last time, Batman leaves Thorn in the cemetary, to get home in the Thornmobile or something; while he investigates the only lead, Phillips' car, as it's pulled from the bay. One of the bodies is wearing Philips' death's head ring--do a lot of hospital orderlies wear skull jewelry? Maybe.
What is Batman's cape doing there?  Oh, that's not even the weirdest thing here.
Stymied, Batman decides to dive and investigate the bay for clues, taking only the little rebreather mouthpiece from his utility belt, instead of full scuba gear. And swimming in his cape. Batman doesn't have to look long, before finding a plastic sealed snapshot: two men, one older, one a boy, giving Hitler the Nazi salute. Hitler, in person. Must've have been Photo Day for the SS or something. Getting your picture on Hitler's lap was extra.

As Batman checks out the photo, underwater, he's attacked by frogmen and knifed in the arm. Thorn arrives in the nick again to save Batman, taking out the frogmen, who disappear. That could be disappear as in 'flee,' or disappear as in 'watery grave.' Batman doesn't kill, but Thorn doesn't seem to mind a lot, and it's a pretty good trick to blow up a scuba tank without killing the attached diver. Thorn bandages up Batman, and this time Batman gives her a ride back to Gotham. (How did she get there?)
A loner with a Justice League signal device, Superman's home phone number, two sidekicks...
Thorn takes a nap in the Batmobile, and Batman again sees the taped message from Rose Forrest, pleading for the return of her father's body. Batman goes to the hospital, but not to be checked out as Thorn insists, but to ditch her again!

Having no leads again, Bats switches to Bruce Wayne, to attend a speech by "famed Nazi hunter Leon Weiner" on the Holocaust. Afterwards, he approaches Weiner in a diner, to see if he can identify the Nazi in the photograph, which he does: "Gauleiter Martin Bormann! The most powerful Nazi after Hitler!" If he's so powerful, how come he doesn't have a mask glued to his head? Bormann was an expert on chemical warfare, and supposedly was hiding out in the jungles of South America.

The next day, as Bruce Wayne boards a flight to Rio de Janeiro, he notices a woman in black having a coffin loaded on board. As the stewardess informs Bruce that Carnival is about to start, as it always is in comics and movies; we see the woman was Rose. Batman had to see that clue, which is why he's flying commercial again, instead of taking the old Batplane. I miss the 70's, pointy Batplane, which looked like a rocket or hypodermic needle with batwings sticking out of it.
Batman is dead serious about enforcing his copyright.
That night, as parade floats pass the reviewing stand, Bruce sees a Batmobile float, which stalls in front of the president and ambassador. Well, Bruce sees it: in a bit of a gaffe, there's not a good establishing shot of the Batmobile float. The fake Batmen on the float are there to assassinate 'el presidente and the yankee ambassador!" but Batman beats the hell out of them, which seems like a really good way to get accidentally shot.
Yeah, that's not conspicuous or anything.
This was probably an easier way for Batman to get in touch with, and a favor from, the American ambassador than just, you know, calling or something. Ah, I've never dealt with the State Department, so yeah, maybe. Batman asks for help finding Bormann, and the ambassador says there's no extradition, so ask for something else. Batman asks for a plane to find Bormann his damn self. He searches the jungle, until he spots a "Luftwaffe Heinkle!" I know it's a big jungle, but if you're in hiding, maybe you don't want Nazi planes patrolling, with German markings still on them? Although, if you shoot down anyone who sees them, I suppose it's not an issue: as Batman follows the Heinkle to Bormann's base/Nazi theme park, he's ambushed by a Messerschmitt and shot down, crashing on the Nazi runway.

Bormann isn't too worried about the captured (and somewhat dazed) Batman, and first greets his son, who had arrived in the Heinkle...was that waiting for them at the airport in Rio? I mean, no extradition is one thing, but that seems a bit much. Rose protests she's kept her part of the bargain, but is brushed off. Bormann and son connect the dots for us: the cannister of Inferno A was brought in the coffin. American neo-Nazi's killed the younger Bormann's "stupid girl friend" and a double, but she had stolen the Bormann's Hitler photo to try to leave a clue behind. The frogmen were sent to recover it (how did they know it was in the bay?), and the authorities were left in the dark when the Nazi's wrecked up several cemetaries, to cover the discovery of the hidden cannister.

(The younger Bormann has a kind of evil you don't often see in comics: someone willing to play the long game. He had to get a job as an orderly at the hospital the Nazi that hid the cannister was at, work there six years cleaning up puke and worse and be a model employee, and have a girlfriend that was probably window dressing for his cover from the start. Admittedly, this is closer to reality than the Joker's gang or R'as al Ghul's huge organization; and that may be why it's creepy.)
In a Garth Ennis comic, this scene would be shorthand for, 'guy that will be disemboweled by a train shortly.'
Rose, who previously had been freaking out over the theft of her father's body, didn't know any of this: she had only agreed to bring the coffin here to get the body back. The younger Bormann slaps her and tells her he had dumped it in the river. Rose runs away crying into the jungle, where they figure she'll die in short order. Finally, Bormann decides it's time to kill Batman, but Thorn appears to save Batman's ass, for the third time, and mess some Nazis up, blowing up three planes, the Bormanns, and probably a good chunk of jungle in short order.
Again, Batman has a code against killing, but no problem with Thorn blowing up a jungle full of Nazis.  You shouldn't either.
Batman recovers the cannister (explaining that neither fire or explosions would destroy it) and he and Thorn escape into the river. The piranha-filled river. Thorn covers Batman with an exploding thorn, but is knocked out. Batman drops the cannister, figuring it would be safe enough guarded by the fish, (even though there's any number of people in the DCU that could fish it out, right?) and saves Thorn for once. They surface to see the Nazi base blow up real good, and start the long walk back, but first Batman wants to hypnotize Thorn. Yes, in the middle of the rainforest with no supplies, no water, and a possibly concussed woman; Batman wants to find out her secret identity.
Well...hold that thought for just a minute Thorn.  After I hypnotize you, I mean.
What the hell does Batman have there, a Hansen's Hypno-Coin? Again, in Brave and the Bold, Batman can do anything. Still kind of wondering how the trip out of the jungle went, though...

I liked Thorn a lot in this one, and Aparo does some nice work on her: I like how her face seems serious and determined, except when she interacts with Batman, and it becomes more friendly. Batman doesn't seem as sure as he should be about Rose being Thorn, which should be annoying (if Ralph Dibney can figure out who Supernova is, Batman should be able to see this at a glance) but I kind of like it: Batman seems to almost like Thorn, and it would be fun if he had a relationship with her, but a complete blindspot as to her identity.

The new Rose and Thorn series was recently reviewed here, in a link from When Fangirls Attack! I was kind of considering looking for that one, since Gail Simone's usually pretty solid, but it's a new Rose and Thorn? The hell? Looking it up here, it appears the original Thorn, a Flash villain, killed herself, and Rose and Thorn have just been retconned a little. If I find it, I'll let you know. Read more!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

She's no Nancy Pelosi, but Barbara Gordon isn't without her charms.
Batman either did no followup whatsoever, or Commissioner Gordon has no idea what his daughter's up to.
Ah, the Seventies. Here's where we see DC's first (or latest) attempts at shaking up their flagship characters, like Superman leaving the Daily Planet to do the news at GBS, or Batman moving to the Wayne Foundation building in Gotham, or Batgirl becoming a Congresswoman...

You know, I can remember reading other comics, probably Batman Family or Detective Comics, with Batgirl stories, but I'm pretty sure her Congresswoman job was just another secret identity, not unlike reporter or test pilot or millionaire; something for the hero to do for a couple pages before the villain showed up. I don't recall it being delved into that deeply, but it's not like 70's Batgirl comics were going to become Ex Machina either. Hell, I don't even know if it was ever specified whether Barbara was a Senator or Representative, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. (Yes I do: Representative from whatever state Gotham City's in, Democrat, liberal on social issues, fiscal conservative. Pretty obvious, duh.)

This one's from Superman #268, "Wild Weekend in Washington!" From October 1973, written by Elliot S. Maggin, art by Curt Swan and Bob Oksner. The story starts with Batgirl arriving to see three men looming over Clark Kent, after he's given up "the nation's greatest secret!" I should have a snarky answer, except I don't know what the nation's greatest secret circa 1973 would be...I was two, so cut me some slack.

Once we get past the splash page tease, we see Superman and Batman at the Fortress of Solitude after a "run-in with Effron the Sorcerer!" that probably wasn't in the previous issue. As a trophy, they've kept evidence/the hypnotic Golden Eye, and Batman mentions since he rarely uses the Batcave anymore, they may as well keep it there. Batman also 'accidentally' hypnotizes Batman on the second panel. No spoiler warning, it couldn't be more obvious if he had made Superman cluck like a chicken.

Leaving the Fortress, Batman convinces Superman, as Clark Kent, to ask out Barbara Gordon. At the time, neither one knew Barbara was Batgirl, and Batman seems to just be going off her father Commissioner Gordon's impression of her as a lonely, bored Congresswoman. Which is highly suspect. Still, Batman thinks Babs would loosen Clark up; but while he agrees to call her, he thinks it's a complication he doesn't need. Especially since he still has a brunette, a redhead, and probably a mermaid still fighting over him back in Metropolis.
I don't know if I'm more surprised that Barbara would date a lobbyist, or that there's a dateable lobbyist.
Well, more accurately, Superman has women fighting over him. This was back in the day when Clark had to be chaste, boring, and generally as lame as possible: Superman was the real person, and Clark had about as much depth and personality as a cardboard mask from the back of a cereal box. (Of course, Byrne would go way too far the other way, making the post-Crisis Clark almost a playboy.) Clark only manages to get a date with Barbara on the strength of Bruce Wayne's name: she wrongly assumes one of Bruce's friends has to be a "live one." Like the teenage acrobat.

By the way, I just can't bring myself to call Barbara, 'Babs.' It just reminds me of that semester of college I killed watching Tiny Toon Adventures.

Clark woodenly dogs his way through a reception, noting "Babs is about as lonely here as a kitty in a catnip factory!" That metaphor doesn't quite work, does it? Seeking an out, Babs introduces Clark to Senator Cleary, and Clark promptly quizzes him on a top-secret government nuclear disintegrator project. Oh, excuse me, that was a solar disintegrator, with a cobalt trigger. Much better environmentally. He had worked on the project as Superman, because just as Clark was a total wuss back then, Supes worked on all sorts of weapons projects for the U.S. government: missiles, lasers, A-bombs, this. Babs hustles Clark away from the senator, wondering what kind of source he had on that.

Later, after getting Barbara home and sparing her the embarrassment of an awkward attempt of a kiss good-night, Clark is about to try to figure out why he would blurt out top-secret info, when he's gassed and abducted. Playing possum, Clark lets himself be taken to a secret underground hideout...hey, wasn't Washington build on drained swamplands? Wouldn't it be even harder to build said hideout there, then it would just about anywhere else? I'm honestly curious on this one.

Aw, eavesdropping makes Batgirl sad.
Clark is declared missing before dawn by the Daily Planet, in a banner headline comic-newspapers love and real-newspapers couldn't use if the Pope shot Brad Pitt. The feds question Barbara on the disappearance the next day, but also say she's above suspicion. Yes, a representative of Congress would never do anything like that...

As Batgirl, she starts investigating, tracing the car seen the night of the abduction to a garage: not quite the Oracle-level work she is known for today, but she does the FBI's job for them, and quick.

Meanwhile, the spy-ring that captured Clark continues to try to shake information out of him; but since Clark=wuss, he just 'passes out' every so often, and thus hadn't had to give anything up. Supes had been trying to either overhear where the ring's main headquarters was, or the leader; but was finally about to bust the place up when Batgirl arrives.

For her part, Batgirl had gotten in OK, but was about to be death-ray'ed when Superman dramatically enters.

Or Don Rickles, or Shelly Winters, or any other dated, dated reference.
I can't decide if Superman is being chivalrous or patronizing next, as he wraps Batgirl up in his indestructible cape (aw, now I miss the indestructible cape!) and lets the bad guys shoot at them, blowing holes in their own building. Superman even shows off a bit, letting them shoot their 'plutonium bazookas' at him so he can punch the blasts away. Even though I'm pretty sure even a little plutonium shot out of a bazooka would be incredibly toxic, and probably kill at least everyone in the facility in moments. This is really the sort of thing I should look up...

Batgirl captures some of the head spies, then tells Superman that Clark Kent is being held prisoner there. She goes to let the poor reporter out, and Superman knocks out the mastermind, tunnels into the cell, and passes the unconscious suit off as 'Clark.' Batgirl really didn't put a lot of effort into remembering Clark on that date, so it works. Supes tells Batgirl to call the feds while he flies 'Clark' to a hospital; while he really takes the spy into custody, then loiters in front of the hospital for an hour as Clark Kent. Barbara meets him there, giving him the always-important secret identity alibi.

Later, back at the Fortress, Superman wants Batman to destroy the Golden Eye, since he figures it hypnotized him into revealing state secrets. But, Batman discovers the Eye has already been stolen. Cue creepy end-music stinger...

So, what have we learned from this issue? Well, don't dick around with hypnotic gems, unless you're going to make your friends do something a little more entertaining than treason. Batgirl's little moped/minicycle probably gets 80 miles a gallon and folds into less space than an ironing board, but isn't super intimidating. And your average Congresswoman: total player. If you get offered a blind date with one, by God you take it, and you'd better make it good. Read more!