Monthly archives: May, 2006

I love teasers

Batman TeaserNothing ruins comics more than spoilers. Well, I guess that’s sort of obvious by the mere definition of the word “spoiler,” but I think you know what I mean. Spoilers can ruin a great comic story before it has a chance to be told. Take Civil War #1, for example. It was a good story, even though it was mostly set-up. But due to the Marvel Hype Machine, the first seven pages were released months in advance. Leading up to Civil War, we knew Captain America and Iron Man would be on opposing sides. And it was pretty clear that Cap was going to be anti-registration. That’s about all the first issue set up. Imagine how much better Civil War #1 would have been if we hadn’t known all that months before the book came out.

Teasers, on the other hand, are awesome. Teasers are almost the opposite of spoilers, even though the line between teasers and spoilers is so thin you could slice cheese with it. While spoilers make an upcoming story boring and uninteresting, teasers make it even more exciting. They whet your appetite. They make you want it that much more, which makes getting the chance to read that comic or see that episode of Lost that much sweeter.

LOTR TeaserThere’s been many great teasers in recent years. I remember when I saw the Lord of the Rings teaser trailer, which was simply the Fellowship walking over a mountaintop, and decided at that moment that I must see that movie (even though I had never had any desire to read the books). The teaser for Revenge of the Sith was so amazing it somehow managed to overcome my disgust of the previous two Star Wars movies. “What is the Matrix?” may be be one of the greatest teasers ever.

Over the last few weeks, there have been two great teasers in the world of comics, and both just happened to come from DC comics. The first is the page-by-page teaser for Infinite Crisis #7 by Dan Didio that appeared in all the DC books shipping the last week of April. It seemed to reveal so much of the story, but actually managed to not give anything away. The second is the final splash page from Infinite Crisis #7 that set up what we have to look forward to in 52 and One Year Later. Who’s that new Batgirl? Why does the Marvel Family look so different? What’s up with the OMAC? Why is Black Adam flying alongside the heroes? Why is Vixen shown so prominently? If Bart Allen quit as Flash, then who’s that Flash?

Marvel take note: you can tease a story without giving away everything. Please, I’m begging you…try it sometime.

I love The Joker

The Joker is one of, if not the greatest villain in the history of comics. I don’t think any comic fan could dispute that. I could discuss how great Batman: The Killing Joke is, or why Mark Hamill’s portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime in Batman: The Animated Series is the best on the large or small screen, but those aren’t the reasons I’m writing about The Joker today.

JokerInfinite Crisis #7 is. (SPOILERS AHOY!)

After a final showdown with Batman, Alexander Luthor somehow manages to evade death and even evade capture. He’s going to get away with everything, and come back down the road to try it all again. Or so he would have if he wouldn’t have made one major mistake. As Lex Luthor tells the son of his Earth-3 counterpart, “You made a lot of mistakes. You underestimated Superman. Superboy. Me. But the biggest one? You didn’t let The Joker play.” With an acid-spraying flower, an electro-joy-buzzer, and a big friggin’ gun, The Joker puts an end to the greatest threat the DC Universe has ever known. And while he only appeared in a handful of panels in the entire Infinite Crisis, he manages to steal the show at the end.

That’s why I love the Joker.

Where were you?


Now that today’s shipment brings Infinite Crisis to a close, and since the big fun arguably got started with a bullet born of a government conspiracy that left half a head splattered about, let’s take a moment to reflect where we were when we experienced the big moments of Infinite Crisis.

Sure, Maxwell Lord was standing in the Checkmate headquarters, and not on a grassy knoll or a book depository, but the absence of Ted sure led to one heck of a quagmire.

I remember reading the demise of Ted Kord while sitting at my computer. It was the only chair I had in my apartment at the time. Normally, I read my comics lying on the bed or sitting on the toilet. But I knew that Countdown was going to be something worth sitting upright for. When I got to that page, I felt like I needed to sit down even further.

I read the fantastic exposition of IC #3, tying together the various miniseries events that led up to the Crisis, sitting in the back corner booth at the McDonald’s on 48th & R. I read it and re-read it, neglecting the other books in my bag.

Last week, I read Dan Didio’s page-by-page set-the-stage column hyping the last issue while sitting at Lefler Middle School. The middle schoolers do their homework, and I read my comics. In hindsight, I think the column may have given me expectations that were hard to live up to, but it did get me excited for today.

And today, I picked up IC #7 on my way to work. Normally, I wait until afterwards to stop at the comic book store. But rather than scouring the paper for cartoon ideas, I got my Big N Tasty value meal (this time at the McDonald’s on 11th & Cornhusker), sat down in my favorite booth, and read the finale before I even touched my work. I felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

All in all, I was pleased. I’ve read some pretty harsh criticism of the series – not enough big action, no meaningful deaths, etc – but I thought it was an amazingly executed storyline that served fictional and editorial needs very well. I have a few nit-picky things to address, but this is not the time.

I love PvP

Most comic strips suck. To make it into your local newspaper, a strip has to be watered down, non-threatening, non-offensive, and (apparently) non-funny. Half of the time, strips like Cathy and Family Circus don’t even include jokes (unless you consider listing 17 different types of sandals or the word “pasghetti” jokes). For Better or For Worse is only funny if you’re a menopausal fifty-year-old mother. Dilbert is only funny if you work in an office and read it in the middle of Mary Worth and Hi and Lois.

PvPAs funny as comics like She-Hulk, Invincible and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man are, the humor gets bogged down by the very necessary but very unfunny bits like exposition, advancing the story and crossing over with the latest “event” to boost sales. Some times you just want to read a comic and laugh, and that’s it.

So where does someone like me, a guy in his twenties in a go-nowhere job who’s obsessed with comic books and video games, find something like that? Right here.

You can read PvP online for free everyday. You could plunk down a measly $12 for the trade of half a year’s worth of strips. Or you could do what I do, and get it in nice and neat monthly packages from Image. For the same $3 dollars you’d be spending on All-Star Batman and Robin, you could get over 40 strips of PvP.

And PvP is intentionally funny.

I love The Tick

The TickI love The Tick. Ever since I first saw the cartoon on Fox oh so many years ago, I couldn’t get enough of the near-invulnerable blue numbskull. Now, thanks to DVR and Toon Disney, I get to relive those memorable days of my youth. Of course, there’s one big thing that separates The Tick from Thundercats, He-Man, Silverhawks and all the other cartoons I remember from the good old days: The Tick stands the test of time, and is enjoyable as much more than mere nostalgia.

For example, take the last episode I watched: The Tick vs. The Mother of Invention. In the episode, a villain kidnaps history’s greatest inventors by plucking them out of their own time and trapping them in a giant glass box. Along with standards like Ben Franklin and Leonardo Da Vinci, the hostages include George Washington Carver, the man who came up with a hundred different uses for peanuts. At the end of the story, GWC ends up saving the day with a peanut machine gun. Seriously.

At another part of the story, The Tick has to travel back in time to defuse a bomb that’s be sent back to the Renaissance. When he gets there, the art critics of the time assume the bomb is a work of art and discuss what the artist was trying to convey. When The Tick defuses the bomb with a conveniently placed On/Off switch, the critics complain that they never “get” performance art. Wait a minute…this was originally a Saturday morning cartoon aimed at kids, right?

My favorite part throughout the entire series has got to be the complete indifference the residents of The City feel towards the super villiany going on in their town every single day. When a maniacal baker calls to let a shop owner a loaf of bread is about to go off, the owner ignores him and continues to fill Arthur’s grocery order. When a pharmacist is asked to make a 20-pound aspirin to stunt the growth of a dinosaur/paleontologist, he simply replies “Yep, that’s pretty big,” because as it turns out, it’s only the second biggest aspirin he’s ever made.

And now, according to The Tick: Days of Drama #5, the TV series longest over-due for a DVD release is getting one. Only one word can truly sum up my joy at the news: SPOON!