Welcome back to another Comicscape, where we try not to think about the infinite possibilities that comic books have to offer; we stick to the industry’s bread and butter, baby. All superheroes, all the time. Usually I like to devote my time to one simple topic, but this week I’ve got a lot on my mind and believe it or not, none of it is going to fill an entire column. Normally I can ramble on for what seems like days on end, but sometimes I like to keep it short and sweet.
So this week is gonna be like an old Marvel Two-in-One or an Ace Double for you sci-fi fans. You pay for one but I’m givin’ you more. Four, to be exact! So let’s get down to business and see what’s on my mind…
For years now, detractors of our favorite genre of sequential art have referred to super heroes as people who “wear their underwear on the outside”. And yeah, I guess I can see where that might seem a little odd to some folks. Unless we’re talking about Borderline-era Madonna, most of us do wear our undergarments beneath our clothing. Of course, most of us don’t parade around town in spandex and capes, but that’s beside the point. Most of the time when people criticize superheroes, I just shrug my shoulders and recount that old adage I saw on a Harley Davidson t-shirt “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.” But in the case of wearing underwear over your pants… okay, I see where they’re coming from.
And it seems I’m not the only one. Have you noticed the recent trend in superheroes going sans-underpants these days? Green Lantern, Wolverine, Captain America – they used to wear their Fruit of the Looms on the outside but these days, they’re just wearing pants. Even Robin, who used to not even wear any sort of pants at all, is keeping his briefs under his trousers these days. Could it be that comic book creators are finally realizing that if you can’t beat ‘em, you have got to join them?
Look, it’s one thing to suspend disbelief; I do believe a man can fly. I am willing to believe that someone might wear a cape and fight crime and I can even believe that if I take off my glasses and stand up straighter, people won’t be able to recognize me while I’m doing it. But to believe a man would wear underpants on the outside of said tights? Preposterous!
I believe this trend is simply a sign of the times and another step toward mainstream acceptance. After years of trying to convince people to take us seriously, we’ve finally given up and given in and started wearing our pants overtop of our undies.
What do Hawkeye, Blue Beetle and Martian Manhunter have in common? No one gave a flying fig about them while they were alive but the moment they bit the dust, comicdom rallied behind them and raged against the machine that is mainstream comics. It doesn’t matter how unpopular a character is, the moment they die, fans come out of the woodwork to let the world know just how important they are to the shared universe they inhabited.
I’m exaggerating a bit (obviously, every hero or villain has their loyal fan base and I’m not sure that anyone cared when Martian Manhunter died), but for the most part this seems to hold true. Really? Blue Beetle? Hey, he had a sweet costume and I loved him in the Giffen/DeMatteis-era Justice League, but did his death really call for a public outcry complete with grinding and gnashing of the teeth? Did anyone really care that much?
Could it be that DC is hoping to stage some sort of pre-emptive strike with their new Animal Man series? The title of the book is The Last Days of Animal Man. Perhaps by announcing this C-list character’s death six months ahead of time and actually putting it in the title, DC is hoping to drum up a little interest in old Buddy Baker. “What? They have the audacity to try to kill Animal Man? I’ll have Dan DiDio’s head on a platter!” Next thing you know, a website pops up (FOAM – Fans of Animal Man), letter writing campaigns start and BAM! DC has a top-seller and a rejuvenated hero.
Or maybe I’ve just been listening to too much Art Bell?
There are two kinds of superhero fans out there: The ones who think Aquaman is a loser and the ones who feel that he’s simply a challenge.
The first group likes to point out that Arthur Curry’s only real power is that he talks to fish. That’s really all he does. These people enjoy mocking his orange (chainmail?) shirt and the fact that he rides around on a giant seahorse. Personally, I’ve never understood this as an insult, as I find regular-sized seahorses to be pretty impressive and giant-sized versions to be proportionally more awesome. So in that respect, I find their arguments against Aquaman to be pretty weak.
The other, pro-Aquaman group will always remind you that while there are a million superheroes on the land, there’s only one who protects the ocean and the ocean covers ¾ of the earth. They also like to point out that Aquaman can survive in the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, a fact that proves his strength and all-around mightiness. If he can survive at the bottom of the ocean, he must be really strong, right? Because there’s enough pressure down there to crush a submarine. He’s also a king and a Golden Age character, which apparently makes him doubly special.
As usual, I do my best to see both perspectives and for the most part, I’m in the second camp (though I do like to make fun of Aquaman behind his back). When I wrote a list of New Years’ Resolutions for Dan DiDio, “Make Aquaman cool” was one of them. He’s an icon and a Super Friend and a former leader of the Justice League. He deserves better than being the butt of a million jokes. He deserves respect, dammit!
Folks… let’s just admit it. It’s not going to happen. We can rant all day about how there are no bad characters; they just need the right creative team. It might be true, but it won’t change a thing. We can suggest different writers and we can write all the fanfic we want and a lot of it might be great… but it isn’t going to sell books. Let’s face it: Aquaman is always going to be the guy who gets picked last when the superheroes get together to play kickball. He’s always going to be the guy that Green Arrow makes fun of the minute he leaves the room. It’s over. Aquaman lost. And it’s okay.
But Aquaman can rest easy in the knowledge that Sub Mariner can’t support an ongoing book either, no matter how much cooler he is. And even though Aquaman is never going to be as cool as Sub-Mariner, at least he isn’t running around practically naked. Then again, maybe that’s exactly what makes Namor so sweet? I mean, if you’re willing to fight supervillians, you must be pretty brave – but if you’re willing to do it in nothing more than green underwear and a belt? That takes balls, my friends.
Aquaman, take note: sometimes wearing your underpants on the outside does help.
One last thing before I go, Maniacs. It concerns secret identities and the suspension of disbelief. Like I said earlier, I can believe a man can fly. I can believe that a million tiny high-tech gadgets can fit inside a man’s belt. I’m convinced that a loser who can’t hold down a job can marry a supermodel and then, despite the fact that he’s always stood for being honest and upright, would make a deal with the devil and choose his elderly aunt over that supermodel wife. All of this and more can be accepted using a simple superhero suspension of disbelief technique that I have mastered. But here’s something that’s always seemed a little weird to me:
Superman just puts glasses on and acts dopey and nobody knows he’s Superman, right? That’s acting. It’s actually pretty believable if you’ve ever seen Superman II and/or read Birthright (and I highly recommend you do both). But why is it that no one has ever noticed that a man who exactly matches Green Lantern’s physical description is walking around with a Green Lantern ring on?
Maybe I’m overreacting. I know there’s a lot of people in this world and I know that a lot of crazier things go unnoticed day in and day out. But seriously: guys, put on a HUGE piece of jewelry (maybe a gigantic piece of turquoise) and walk around at the mall for a few hours. I know I’d look at you funny. And it’s not like Green Lantern’s mask really even covers that much of his face. I think he’d be pretty recognizable.
Yeah, yeah… you’re right, I’m overreacting. I’m being nitpicky. But Hal Jordan’s a slacker and one of these days he’s going to be out in public with Barry Allen (wearing his own ring emblazoned with an enormous Flash logo on it) and somebody’s gonna catch on.
I’m an obsessive fan. Here are a few folks who are even more obsessive than me!
Jack Kirby + Wally Wood = Sky Masters!
Black suit Spidey
That’s all for this week, Maniacs! I’ll be back next Wednesday with more news, reviews, rants and raves. Stay tuned for The Spinner Rack and Ben’s 10!
by Ben Johnson and Chad Derdowski, but mostly Ben Johnson
Whatever Happened To The World of Tomorrow HC, $24.95
Ben: Whatever happened to $ .69 tacos?
Femforce #149, $6.95
AMAZE INK/SLAVE LABOR GRAPHICS
Fat Chunk GN Vol 2 Zombie, $12.95
AP How To Draw Transforming Robots Pocket Manga TP Vol 1, $12.95
Demon Cleaner #3 (Of 3), $3.99
Ben: Sulphur enema anyone?
Furrlough Color Special, $5.99
Gold Digger #107, $2.99
Gold Digger Color Remix Mangazine Special, $3.99
Ben: Oh, look how they did that, they took manga and made it cuter.
Gold Digger Tech Manual #4, $3.95
Rod Espinosa Prince Of Heroes Chapter 2 #3, $3.99
Black Coat & Athena Voltaire (One Shot)(Voltaire Cover)(Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $2.00
Scarlet Veronica #4 (of 4), $3.50
Executive Assistant Iris #1 (Joe Benitez Regular Cover), $2.99
Ben: Secretary! She’s a freaking secretary!
Executive Assistant Iris #1 (Eduardo Francisco Regular Cover), $2.99
Executive Assistant Iris #1 (Sana Takeda Regular Cover), $2.99
Executive Assistant Iris #1 (Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald Incentive Variant Cover), AR
Ben: Huh? How’d they make that one happen?
ATOMIC BOOK COMPANY
Fart Party GN Vol 2, $13.95
Simpsons Comics #155, $2.99
Caped #3 (of 4)(Cover A Saumin Patel), $3.99
Caped #3 (of 4)(Cover B Joe Quinones), $3.99
Fall Of Cthulhu Nemesis #3 (of 4)(Cover A Jeffrey Spokes), $3.99
Fall Of Cthulhu Nemesis #3 (of 4)(Cover B Chuck BB), $3.99
Mr Stuffins #2 (of 3)(New Edition)(Cover A David Petersen), $3.99
Ben: Starring Chad and his cell mate.
Mr Stuffins #2 (of 3)(New Edition)(Cover B David Petersen), $3.99
Bride Of The Water God TP Vol 3, $9.95
Ben: This looks like a tentacle title.
Conan The Frazetta Cover Series #3 (of 8), $5.99
Rex Mundi #18 (Dark Horse Edition)('David's Throne'), $2.99
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #42 (Masks Part 1 of 3), $2.99
Action Comics Annual #12, $4.99
Air #10, $2.99
Batman Streets Of Gotham #1 (Dustin Nguyen Regular Cover), $3.99
Ben: I hope we get a bunch more Batman books.
Batman Streets of Gotham #1 (JG Jones Variant Cover), AR
Batman The Black Casebook TP, $17.99
Brave And The Bold #24, $2.99
Cartoon Network Block Party #58, $2.50
Comic Book Cover Portfolio #3 DC Universe By Brian Boland (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $49.99
Dorothea TP Vol 5, $12.99
Ex Machina #43, $2.99
Final Crisis Aftermath Dance #2 (of 6), $2.99
Flat Earth Exchange TP Vol 4, $9.99
Gears Of War Sourcebook, $3.99
Green Arrow Black Canary #21, $2.99
Green Lantern Sinestro Corps War TP Vol 2, $14.99
Green Lantern Corps Through The Ages TP, $4.99
Hellblazer #256, $2.99
Hitman TP Vol 1 A Rage In Arkham (New Printing), $14.99
Jack Of Fables #35, $2.99
JLA Trophy Room Bat Cuffs Prop Replica, $125.00
Ben: I got these for my wife, and I don’t mean as a gift.
Legends Of The Dark Knight Box Set, $49.99
Mysterius The Unfathomable #6 (of 6), $2.99
Outsiders #19 (Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott Regular Cover), $2.99
Outsiders #19 (JG Jones Variant Cover), AR
Power Girl #2 (Amanda Conner Regular Cover), $2.99
Power Girl #2 (Adam Hughes Regular Cover), $2.99
Question The Five Books Of Blood TP, $14.99
Sleeper Season 1 TP, $24.99
Starman Omnibus HC Vol 3, $49.99
Supergirl #42, $2.99
Superman Batman #61, $2.99
Tiny Titans #17, $2.50
Vigilante #7, $2.99
Will Eisners Spirit Archives HC Vol 26, $59.99
World Of Warcraft #20, $2.99
DRAWN & QUARTERLY
Prayer Requested GN (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $15.95
Army Of Darkness TP Vol 8 Home Sweet Hell, $14.99
Boys Herogasm #2 (of 6)(Cover A Darick Robertson), $2.99
Ben: Making The Boys look like a Disney title is quite an accomplishment.
Boys Herogasm #2 (of 6)(Cover B Darick Robertson), $2.99
Complete Just A Pilgrim TP (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $24.99
Complete Just A Pilgrim HC (Signed Edition), $49.99
Jungle Girl Season 2 #4 (Of 5)(Frank Cho Risque Cover)(Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), AR
Man With No Name #11 (Cover A Homs), $3.50
Man With No Name #11 (Cover B Homs), $3.50
Masquerade #4 (Alex Ross Regular Cover), $3.50
Masquerade #4 (Carlos Paul Variant Cover), AR
Masquerade #4 (Alex Ross Negative Art Incentive Cover), AR
Project Superpowers Chapter Two #0 (Cover A Alex Ross Left Side Cover), $1.00
Ben: Just didn’t get into the first volume.
Chad: That’s because it sucked.
Project Superpowers Chapter Two #0 (Cover B Alex Ross Middle Cover), $1.00
Project Superpowers Chapter Two #0 (Cover C Alex Ross Right Side Cover), $1.00
Project Superpowers Chapter Two #0 (Alex Ross Sneak Peak Variant Cover), AR
Project Superpowers Chapter Two #0 (Alex Ross Gray Variant Cover), AR
Red Sonja HC Vol 6 She Devil With A Sword, $24.99
Zorro Year One TP Vol 1 Trail Of The Fox (Mass Market Mike Mayhew Cover)(Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $19.99
Zorro Year One TP Vol 1 Trail Of The Fox (Previews Exclusive Matt Wagner Cover), $19.99
From Wonderland With Love Danish Comics Anthology GN (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $29.99
You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation TP (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $24.99
Ben: Here’s looking at you, mom.
Charlatan GN Vol 1 Preludes (resolicited)(Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $14.95
Roger Dean Magnetic Storm HC, $29.99
Warriors Tigerstar & Sasha GN Vol 3 Return To The Clans (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $6.99
Angel #22 (Angel: Aftermath)(Cover A), $3.99
Angel #22 (Angel: Aftermath)(Cover B), $3.99
Angel #22 (Angel: Aftermath)(Gabriel Rodriguez Sketch Variant Cover), AR
Angel #22 (Angel: Aftermath)(Nick Runge Virgin Cover), AR
Barack Obama The Road To The White House #1 (One Shot), $3.99
Ben: Millions of copies will be sold… again.
Captain Canuck HC Vol 1, $24.99
GI Joe Cobra #4 (Cover A Howard Chaykin), $3.99
Chad: The best Joe book on the stands. Buy it!
GI Joe Cobra #4 (Cover B Antonio Fuso), $3.99
GI Joe Cobra #4 (Howard Chaykin Virgin Cover), AR
Groom Lake #3 (Cover A), $3.99
Groom Lake #3 (Cover B), $3.99
Robot Galaxy #1 Brotherhood Returns, $3.99
Robot Galaxy #2 Battle Begins, $3.99
Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan #2 (of 3)(Cover A Chee Yang Ong), $3.99
Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan #2 (of 3)(Cover B Photo), $3.99
Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan #2 (of 3)(David Deitrick Variant Cover), AR
Transformers Premiere Edition HC Vol 2, $100.00
Transformers Spotlight Cliffjumper (Don Figueroa Regular Cover), $3.99
Chad: Wow, really? Cliffjumper was the first Transformer I ever got! That almost makes me want to buy this.
Transformers Spotlight Cliffjumper (Robbie Musso Regular Cover), $3.99
Transformers Spotlight Cliffjumper (Casey Coller Variant Cover), AR
Amber Atoms #4, $3.50
Body Bags TP Vol 1 Fathers Day, $14.99
Bomb Queen Presents All Girl Comics (One Shot), $3.50
Ben: I really hate this title.
Dead At 17 Afterbirth #1 (of 4), $2.99
Elephantmen #20 (Marian Churchland Regular Cover)(resolicited), $3.50
Elephantmen #20 (Jose Ladronn & Boo Cook Variant Cover)(resolicited), AR
Invincible #63, $2.99
Madman Atomic Comics #16 (resolicited), $3.50
Mice Templar TP Vol 1, $17.99
Mixtape HC Vol 3 Jim Mahfood Art (Signed & Numbered Limited Edition)(Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $49.99
Olympus #2 (Image Edition)(Christian Ward Regular Cover), $3.50
Olympus #2 (Image Edition)(Frank Quitely Variant Cover), AR
Phonogram 2 Singles Club #3 (of 7), $3.50
Red Mass For Mars #3 (resolicited), $3.50
T Runt HC, $12.99
1939 Daily Bugle, AR
All New Savage She-Hulk #3 (of 4)(Paul Renaud Regular Cover)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $3.99
All New Savage She-Hulk #3 (of 4)(Juan Doe 90s Decade Variant)(Dark Reign Tie-In), AR
Amazing Spider-Girl TP Vol 5 Maybreak, $16.99
Amazing Spider-Man Family #7, $4.99
Cable #15 (Ariel Olivetti Regular Cover)(X-Men Messiah War Tie-In)(Messiah War Part 6), $2.99
Cable #15 (Kaare Andrews Regular Cover)(X-Men Messiah War Tie-In)(Messiah War Part 6), $2.99
Captain America #600 (Available in some stores 06/15/09)(Alex Ross Regular Cover), $4.99
Captain America #600 (Available in some stores 06/15/09)(Steve Epting Regular Cover), $4.99
Captain America Man With No Face Premiere HC, $19.99
Captain Britain And MI 13 #14, $2.99
Dark Reign Fantastic Four #4 (of 5)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $2.99
Ben: Good use of the FF in this mini.
Dark Reign Hawkeye #3 (of 5)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $3.99
Dark Reign Mister Negative #1 (of 3)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $3.99
Ben: Oh look, Spider-Man books are trying to matter.
Dark Reign Young Avengers #2 (of 5)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $3.99
Dark Tower The Fall Of Gilead #2 (of 6)(Richard Isanove Regular Cover), $3.99
Dark Tower the Fall of Gilead #2 (of 6)(Tommy Lee Edwards Variant Cover), AR
Dark Tower the Fall of Gilead #2 (of 6)(Richard Isanove Sketch Variant Cover), AR
Destroyer #3 (of 5), $3.99
Fantastic Force #3 (of 5), $2.99
Incognito #4, $3.50
Ben: Totally badass superhero noir.
Invincible Iron Man #14 (Salvador Larroca Regular Cover)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $2.99
Invincible Iron Man #14 (Marc Silvestri Variant Cover)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $2.99
Irredeemable Ant-Man TP, $34.99
Ben: One of the best humor books of the last few years.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 (of 4)(Ig Guara Second Printing Variant Cover), $2.99
Marvel Adventures Avengers #37, $2.99
Marvel Adventures Avengers TP Vol 9 The Times They Are A-Changin' Digest, $9.99
Marvel Pets Handbook, $3.99
Marvel Triple Action #3, $5.99
Marvel Zombies 4 #3 (of 4)(Greg Land Regular Cover), $3.99
Ben: Talk about beating a living-dead horse.
Marvel Zombies 4 #3 (of 4)(Mike Perkins 80s Decade Variant Cover), AR
Mighty Avengers #26 (Dark Reign Tie-In), $2.99
Ms Marvel TP Vol 6 Ascension, $14.99
Power Pack Classic TP Vol 1, $29.99
Punisher #6 (Dark Reign Tie-In), $3.99
Punisher Year One TP, $12.99
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Season 2 TP Sophomore Jinx, $14.99
Ben: WTH? Why would they do this to us?
Spider-Man New Ways To Die TP, $19.99
Thor Trial Of Thor (One Shot), $3.99
Ultimate Origins TP, $19.99
Ultimatum Spider-Man Requiem #1 (of 2), $3.99
War Machine #7 (Francesco “Matt” Mattina Regular Cover), $2.99
War Machine #7 (Mike Choi 90s Decade Variant Cover), AR
War Of Kings Ascension #3 (of 4), $3.99
Wolverine #73 (Adam Kubert Second Printing Variant Cover), $2.99
Wolverine Origins #37 (Dark Reign Tie-In), $2.99
Wonderful Wizard Of Oz #7 (of 8), $3.99
X-Infernus HC, $24.99
X-Men Legacy #225 (Daniel Acuna Regular Cover), $2.99
X-Men Legacy #225 (Adriana Melo 90s Decade Variant Cover), AR
X-Men Origins Gambit #1 (One Shot), $3.99
X-Men Premiere HC Phoenix Rising (Book Market Edition), $19.99
X-Men Premiere HC Phoenix Rising (Direct Market Edition Vol 25), $19.99
Young Allies Comics #1 (70th Anniversary Special)(Paolo Rivera Regular Cover), $3.99
Young Allies Comics #1 (70th Anniversary Special)(Marcos Martin Variant Cover), AR
Ythaq Premiere HC Forsaken World, $24.99
Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #59, $3.25
Wasteland TP Book 4 Dog Tribe, $11.95
Ben: Never read any of these. Are they any good?
Wonton Soup GN Vol 2, $11.95
RUDE DUDE PRODUCTIONS
Nexus As It Happened TP Vol 1, $9.99
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 26 (Regular Cover), $12.95
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Venus Versus Virus GN Vol 6, $9.99
Ben: No one beats the herps.
Booty SC Pirate Queens (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $14.95
Ben: Does ‘SC’ stand for soft-core?
Classic Dan Dare HC Vol 11 Phantom Fleet, $22.95
Salems Daughter #1 (Joe Benitez Regular Cover), $2.99
Salems Daughter #1 (Al Rio Variant Cover), AR
Tales From Wonderland Cheshire Cat (One Shot)(Cover A Angel Medina), $3.99
Tales From Wonderland Cheshire Cat (One Shot)(Cover B Eric 'E-Bas' Basaldua), $3.99
Tales From Wonderland Cheshire Cat (One Shot)(Cover C Eric 'E-Bas' Basaldua Varint Chase), $3.99
Very Marvel heavy this week.
10) Young Allies Comics #1 – Bucky, Toro and friends rise again
9) Salems Daughter #1 – Zenescope has been a fave for awile.
8) Cable #15 – Enjoying this story.
7) Destroyer #3 – This one as well.
6) Invincible #63
5) Ultimatum Spider-Man Requiem #1 – Very curious how this is going to go.
4) Punisher #6 – Love this book.
3) Mighty Avengers #26
2) Invincible Iron Man #14
1) Captain America #600 – When Brubaker says nothing will ever be the same I believe him.