Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friday Night Fights! O.P.P! Breadbasket Batman!

According to the infinite talent of Dave Mazzuchelli, and a pre-crazy Frank Miller during the classic BATMAN: YEAR ONE, Batman apparently ended this uppercut about twelve inches past that cop's broken sternum. Considering Batman trains by splintering large oak trees on his property, it's easy to see how insubstantial the human body can be when encountering his fist. knows the limits of the human body, and says there's no way you can survive the damage.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Night Fights! O.P.P.! You're Standin' Where I'm Walkin'!

"Ronnie" was the Muscle of the Beach. As awesomely relayed by Sal Buscema and Gerry Talaoc, in INCREDIBLE HULK 298 back in the 1980s, "Ronnie" gets the pain of the day. says don't even think about kicking sand in anyone's face.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pulp Hero: Lobster Johnson!

Not long ago, we got our first mini-series starring a "historical" figure within the Hellboy Universe, created by Mike Mignola.
Lobster Johnson appeared, drawn by the able Jason Armstrong, and was one of the best things from the year. Needless to say, a comic about Lobster Johnson serving justice in the 1930s against Nazis and demonic wizards and floating bodiless brains and giant Gorilla Men was made just for me, lovingly.
Not much is known about Lobster Johnson, save what we've seen in his few (memorable) appearances over the years. It turns out the Claw enjoys what many justice-servers enjoyed, such as the Shadow and the Spider: namely, opening up on criminals with his double .45s and then burning his Claw insignia into their foreheads after they are dead, as a warning to others.
Lobster Johnson takes other inspiration from the Pulps, having his own team of secret operatives who assist him in his work. They are all hardened men, all as unknown as the Lobster, except for their shared obsession to rid the world of evil.

There's nothing not to love about Lobster Johnson. He wears awesome goggles all of the time, which look like the bulbous eyes of the sea creature he's named after. He seems to have only his purpose for characterization. He's uncompromisingly vicious, but not inhuman. He's not superhuman, either, as he's often injured and, according to Mignola's history, he's deader than sh*t. He does pop up as a ghost quite often, doing something nutty like shooting phantom bullets into a comatose woman before dissipating. The woman soon awoke from her trance, but how the Claw serves within that world, officially, is anyone's guess.
What's important is that readers seem rightfully entranced by Lobster Johnson, and his mystery, which I hope Mignola never spoils. I don't really want to know who Lobster Johnson was, or what he did. Certainly hints and allusions are welcome, but I prefer the mystery. Really, the purpose of Lobster Johnson is to hammer the anvil of justice. We are compelled to follow his thirst for justice, as if he was starving before our eyes. We want him to have justice, then, to survive and enthrall us more. Hopefully we will be seeing more of the Claw very, very soon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Characters I Want to Write: MR. ELEMENT!

There's a real dirth of information on Mr. Element.

I mean, Dr. Alchemy (who is Albert Desmond, who is also Mr. Element) sure. But unless you've read the original Fox/Infantino THE FLASH, you will find it hard to find stuff online about Mr. Element.

Not that that's gonna stop me from being in love with the character and wanting to write him.

I think the one cool aspect of Mr. Element is that he's a "Science Villain" for a "Science Hero" in the The Flash. Both characters operate under physical laws, but those laws found in comic books. Which isn't to say the physics aren't accurate, but someone far more intelligent can and probably has argued the point.

Albert Desmond was a chemist (like Barry Allen aka the Flash) who suffers a split personality.
His dark half becomes the criminal Mr. Element, who develops technology to use elements as a weapon. He's an enemy of the Flash for a while, and then he finds DC Comics' version of "the Philosopher's Stone." This is a supernatural stone which can transmute alchemically. Thus, does the Science Villain become the Druid of Crime, Dr. Alchemy. This, in fact, turns out to be Al Desmond's third persona. So much so that using the Philosopher's Stone, the mad Desmond creates an identical twin of himself to carry on as Dr. Alchemy, named "Alvin."

After that, Albert becomes Mr. Element to combat "himself," as Dr. Alchemy. The two are obviously natural enemies. Soon, the "second" Desmond is destroyed, and Albert once again became Dr. Alchemy. Or something like that.

Mr. Element, proper, is a pro heist man who uses the elements to pull off crimes and make his getaways. I'd love a shot to turn Mr. Element into the "Parker" of the DC Universe, a hardcore and dangerous criminal with his own moral barometer. An anti-hero with a very strict and vicious code, uncompromising and all business.

And Albert Desmond himself? Well, Al surrendered to the Mr. Element persona completely. But Dr. Alchemy is still out there, still muddying the waters with his "magician's tricks" as Mr. Element would put it. So who is this Dr. Alchemy? Is that the construct from the Philosopher's Stone? Or is it Albert himself, still playing both sides?

Well, dig it, I don't know where this could all play out, but I know you readers would appreciate it. Just imagine the man-bro crush between Metamorpho the Element Man and Mr. Element! There's two guys with a lot to talk about.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Night Fights! Love Tap!

What you have here pretty much happens to a lot of us dudes, in "the moment."

Not technically a fight, but Spider-Woman Jessica Drew has a pretty shocking "physical" encounter here, in ish 18 of her 1979 series, by Mark Gruenwald and Carmine Infantino. never has an issue with control. It's all slow and easy for him.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


When last we saw the Soldier, he had been wounded and captured, leaving him at the mercy of Lt. Rico Strada, the young man with the serious vendetta, due to the Soldier being responsible for the death of Strada's "only family," a priest named Memmoli way back in ish 187. Also, the Soldier's wounding of Strada left him with only one arm. And on the end of that arm is his Luger.

Lt. Strada gloats how he will be turning over the "mask-making" kit to the Gestapo, once the Soldier is dead. He has sent away everyone except himself and the Soldier, isolating them in the countryside so Strada can enjoy his kill.

The Soldier, hands chained in front of him, kicks dirt into Strada's face and flees. Strada however is confident that the Soldier must face him eventually, to retrieve the mask kit. Should it fall into Nazi hands, the Soldier knows he will have committed a treasonous act resulting in irrepairable damage to the Allied cause. The Soldier breaks his chain using a boulder. Lt. Strada waits with the leather attache, knowing the Soldier must come for it.

As night falls, the Soldier begins to stalk Strada, hoping to get close enough to avoid Strada's pistol. He soon discovers a pack of wolves are hunting him. A savage battle begins as the Soldier begins killing wolves with his bare hands. Worn down during the fight, the Soldier is nearly overwhelmed when bullets scare off the animals.

Lt. Strada steps forward, Luger trained, while the Soldier again tries to reason with him, that Father Memmoli's death could not be laid at the Soldier's feet. Strada refuses to listen. The Soldier manages to throw a stone at a broken tree branch above Strada as he fires. The branch falls, disarming Strada, who leaps for the pistol. However, he is on the edge of a cliff and topples over. Catching a protruding branch with his one arm, Strada hangs there, the mask kit slung over his shoulder.

The Soldier attempts to reach him, prompting Strada to question why. Even when the Soldier explains Strada still has the make-up kit, Strada points out the attache will be destroyed when he falls. What is the point? The Soldier responds that Strada is wrong about him, about the circumstances behind Father Memmoli's death. Understanding at last, Strada is too ashamed to allow himself to be saved. He has been used by the Nazis, all he had remaining as a symbol of his worth. Strada releases the branch, falling to his death. The Soldier walks away into the night.

Another good issue, summing up the Monte Grande storyline from Michelinie's earlier issues. The Soldier's knockdown-drag out with the wolf pack is the highlight, with Gerry Talaoc shining. Strada seems hesitant to actually murder the Soldier, despite having the drop on him twice in this story. Strada's hesitation, something the Soldier does not share, hollows out his vendetta. Without true passion, Strada's desire is murder only, and thus he is unable to accomplish his goals. The Soldier has no qualms about letting any man die who impedes his missions, but makes the attempt to save Strada...even though he had not given his word to Father Memmoli, still the Soldier had compassion for the younger man. He'd already spared him once at Monte Grande and again, here, to save Strada from his own intellectual folly.

Out of Five 3D Men

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Characters I Want to Write: THE 3D MAN! Obviously!

There's a fascinating allure to the 3D Man that I simply cannot ignore.

Readers in general don't seem to get what the deal is, how Roy Thomas managed to get such a concept published. Well, Roy Thomas was a pretty influential guy at Marvel Comics and a huge Golden Age Hero fan. Melding his love of movies from the 1950s with this conceit, Thomas created a character who is still kicking today, albeit in an altered form. Kurt Busiek got rid of the original version of the 3D Man for his own, and there's probably good reasons for that.

However, I'm proposing to return to the conceit which truly entrances me about the 3D Man. Namely, he's not just one dude, he's three.

Now, originally the 3D Man was two brothers, one a tough guy pilot type named Chuck Chandler, the other Hal, who is crippled. During the 1950s, an evil alien race called the Skrulls invaded Earth, to conquer it. Chuck was abducted by the Skrulls during a test flight, perhaps to be replaced by one of them, via the Skrull's natural shape-shifting ability. The panel above shows Chuck being confronted by three Skrulls. This is interesting to me as a plot point.

Chuck is a man's man, and manages to break free. His battle with the Skrulls inside their spaceship causes the whole thing to explode. As he's escaping in the experimental NASA rocket, Chuck becomes erradiated by the explosion. By the time he crashes the rocket, and nearly reaches his brother Hal waiting for him, his body explodes before Hal's eyes.

Chuck is dead, but Hal discovers the last image of his brother has been blasted onto his glasses, in red and green.

Goofy? Sure. Pure comic book delight. Absolutely.

So Hal is sitting around thinking hard about his brother Chuck when he slips into a trance and the 3D Man leaps out of Chuck's eyeglasses!
Now, the thing to remember here is Hal and Chuck shared their fusion. Hal lived vicariously through Chuck's superior physicality, and their fusion gave them a physical Third Man. Thus, the speed, strength, stamina and healing ability of three men in one. Chuck's mind, as the 3D Man, controlled the "body." Hal's mind sort of "rode along."
I was first exposed to the 3D Man via Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, in the issue cited above, in the story "Whatever Happened to the 3D Man?" Mantlo wasn't the most original or versatile writer who ever worked, but he loved these second bananas. He dug the 3D Man enough to throw him up against the Incredible Hulk. A mismatch of massive properties, in which Hal Chandler, middle-aged in the "1980s" of comics, had long retired with his wife and children from any adventuring "as" the 3D Man. Living in suburbia, Hal encounters a half-naked unfortunate who needs a helping hand. This kind man is learned and appreciative of Hal's family, and during the night Hal calls the cops. There's no flies on Hal, and he knows the stranger is Bruce Banner, aka the Incredible Hulk. Like everyone else, Hal thinks the Hulk is a killer, and dangerous. Hal calls up the 3D Man for the first time in decades, to presumably hold Banner until the authorities arrive.

As you can see, that turns out to be mere folly!

Eventually things went back to normal. The 3D Man realized the Hulk wasn't going to really hurt anybody unless provoked, and the Hulk hated everyone and jumped out of the story.
My idea is to have a 3D Man which incorporates the idea of three men in one. Each of their personalities will actually take part in creating this 3D Man, who is neither yin nor yank.
Reader disparage having "triple powers" in a world of superheroes. Pfft. I'll take triple powers any day. In my scenario however, the 3D Man is a bit more tragic. See, he doesn't exist without those other personalities, and neither of the primary personalities can do what they can as the 3D Man. Meaning, have powers, and be able to do real good in the world.
Which of course means smacking supervillains around and kicking the hell out of punks robbing old people on the streets.
Aside from darkening the colors a bit, to avoid the "hey, he has Christmas colors!" schtick, the 3D Man costume remains the same. What I liked about the original version is that the "costume" isn't a costume but part of the 3D Man. He's one with it. The goggles are his freakin' eyes, man.
I mean, that's my speculation. The 3D Man is, like, a ghost who can speed punch you right in the groin.
As far as the humans who make up 3D Man in this fusion, I've always been intrigued by the idea of the two men in love with the same woman. Only, neither have a chance with her. And she's enarmored with the 3D Man. Takes all kinds, right?

Friday, February 6, 2009

What's a Friday Night Without Friday Night Fights?

Comic books are about passion. Not the sexy kind, necessarily. The heart kind.

With that in mind, and in respect to a week off from the Sweet Science, it's all about the Good Times this Friday night. We've had our fill of darkness and blood-vomiting and unnecessary character death and terrible art in comics. We get it: the world's a piece of sh*t.

Time for change! Comics can incorporate the Good Times, the Fun Times, just as well!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Characters I Want to Write: WILDCAT!

Yeh, I know what the world needs. Maybe not as much as the world needs our current Commander-in-Chief, but it wouldn't hurt: a Wildcat comic book. Starring Ted Grant, the Wildcat. All about Wildcat. Fists by Wildcat. Love-makin' by Wildcat. And, shocks galore, most of it wouldn't happen inside a boxing ring.

See, Ted Grant was the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Now, most everyone will point out he was Champ during the 1960s, which is fine. For my purposes, and bringing a healthy, middle-aged Ted Grant to comicdom, we go with the old "timeless times" of comics. What that means, comics used to not be confined to their "era." They obviously reflected their times, especially in the 1940s and 1970s, but to specify that Captain America shucked the Flag and Shield for his Nomad costume "in the 1970s" is to "date" the characters. Then some OCD writer guy comes along and decides Ted Grant, the Wildcat, is too old to play superhero games. He's a geriatric and needs to be "replaced" via his "legacy" being passed down, name and all.

I'm looking at you, Geoff Johns.

What you get with Ted Grant is a chance to tell two-fisted stories with a non-PC, non-affiliated, non-commercialized Pulp derived hero. In the 1970s he rode around on a Cat-O-Cycle. If you can't appreciate the Cat-O-Cycle, you just don't have it in you to love Wildcat.

I love me some Wildcat. Not many people can write a great Wildcat. Beau Smith (see "Busted Knuckles" webspace) can write the hell out of some Wildcat. I won't pretend to have Beau Smith's hand at it. But Wildcat reflects everything I love in a good two-fisted hero: he doesn't back down, he's uncompromising, he loves to fight.
The writers today can't let go of his boxing background. It's all fine and good, Ted Grant is a boxer with a hell of a left hook. But you gotta leave the boxing stuff alone. The character does represent the Sweet Science only marginally, actually. Say, if Matt Murdock's dad hadn't been killed by those gangsters, he could've become Wildcat. Ted Grant doesn't need an excuse for what he is. Punch first, ask questions later.
A lot of writers think a guy like Wildcat, who is just a man, with a man's courage (Queen's "Flash Gordon" of course) is somehow limited to his default "environment." Well, false on that. Wildcat should be as rootless as a boxer, long trained to not have a home, "performing" much like a carnival act. Ted loves to show off his physicality, it's his Bach, his Jack Kirby. Ted doesn't want to be adored for being a former Champion, he wants to knock you out to prove he's better than you.
So, psychology aside, Wildcat should be roaming everywhere getting into crazy sh*t with wicked villains super or not and monsters and dames who dig his love handles and his beefy thighs. That's Ted Grant, and that's what I propose.