As a Jonah Hex fan, this ticks me off

This scene makes my fanboy-sense tingle and I have to call BS on this panel from Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3 (Nov 2006).

According to Palmiotti, who by now should have some passing familiarity with the character, Jonah Hex participated in the terrible Long Walk of Native Americans?

I don’t think so.

And maybe my retcon-avoiding memory is faulty, but didn’t Jonah receive his facial scars after his time in the military?

After nearly a year of work on the Hex title portraying Jonah as the Vengeful Hand of God you’d think Palmiotti and Gray wouldn’t be showing Jonah oppressing native peoples and condoning through inaction, if not deed, their massacre.

I guess he or Gray maybe couldn’t resist a little cross-promotion to boost the sales of the other book they are swiftly marching towards cancellation.

Update: Dwayne the Perma-Link Hater at Matching Dragoons says that according to Gray, it was an art error. Jonah was actually leading the Navajo to freedom intead of to a death camp. Okay. Either way, a nonsense cameo for no reason story wise.


I’m the godamm butler!

I suspect that eventually it will be revealed that the person who is ultimately behind all the problems and shenanigans in the DCU will be Batman’s faithful manservant, Alfred Pennyworth.

There has to be some person or group responsible for the attacks on the super heroes and villains. Every time a question is answered or a problem solved there is another one behind it. One of these days I suspect Batman will figure it out as all the clues finally click and point to one man. If it wasn’t for his emotional ties to Alfred he probably would have figured it out long before.

Alfred knows every body’s secret, was once a spy and was possessed by The Outsider. How else does everybody get access to Batman’s secret files again and again? I see Alfred as a master manipulator, working behind the scenes with good intentions that can have disastrous results. He may think he’s doing good but is in fact performing acts of evil. Alfred didn’t plan on becoming an evil mastermind, he probably thought that by guiding a traumatized Bruce Wayne he could do some good with the Wayne fortune. It was just happenstance that Bruce became a super hero with ties to a group that could reshape the world. What started as a noble endeavor to guide the super-community along the “right” paths was corrupted and changed to a force beyond control.

In recap:

Strangeus Interruptus

There are two times I’ve felt completely ripped-off by a comic book. And by ripped-off I mean the publisher deliberately treated an audience with contempt. One was in the New Universe line when the year long story line in Justice, expanded upon with much coolness by Kieth Giffen was revealed to be a dream. The other is Doctor Strange #41. Perhaps not too strangely, both books were by Marvel.

There are lots of comic book events with sucky endings. In the old days before every story became THE BIG COMIC BOOK EVENT that we couldn’t miss there was usually a long build-up, foreshadowing, hints and clues and then the great big fight, which often appeared in that book’s annual or a special, double-sized issue.

While not a huge comic event the story in Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #41 (June 1980) was one of the those issues where you ask yourself what the hell happened at the end of the story.

Written by Chris Claremont (first clue) with art by Gene Colan, issue #41 was the finale to an multi-issue epic featuring an insane Baron Mordo, who was trying to destroy all of creation. It was a story that had a cross-over into Man-Thing’s own title and had sub-plots reaching back nearly a year.

Mordo had kidnapped friends of Dr. Strange and was feeding them to a demon that would open the Gates of Uncreation. This grisly scene of a girlfriend of Doc’s getting her flesh stripped off is courtesy of Gene Colan.

Strange is then motivated by the death of his lover to do something (he sorta stood around while all the other people were eaten by the demon), screams NO! and he beats up on Mordo. Enraged, the Doc is about to kill Mordo in revenge when Claremont resorts to Comic Book Cliche #1, that of Situational Moral Superiority.
“If I killed you, I’d be no better than you.” Spoken at least once by Superman, Spider-Man, Hulk, Lois Lane and just about every other comic book character you can think of.

Then just as the the universe is about to be unmade, Dr. Strange is simultaneously weaving spells to save creation while anchoring the Man-Thing with the mind of Ted Sallis to reality and Baron Mordo is creeping up behind the Doc to dash him in the head with a rock…this happens:

The climax of the story is a text panel? A FREAKING TEXT PANEL? Talk about a let down!

What went on here? Was production rushed? Did everyone just give up? Is it Claremont or the Editor? If no one cared enough about the story to give it the ending it deserved then they should have been creative enough to handle it like Warren Ellis did when he took over Strange for a time. In discarding the Vishanti War storyline that had been promised for several years Ellis simply wrote the Doc cleaning himself up in the bathroom after returning from another dimension, musing to himself “Well, that didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” Awesome.

Claremont then makes sure that after we fans are treated as if we were something unpleasant found on a shoe that we get a happy, sugar-coated ending and a return to the status quo.

Everybody is a-okay! Talk about a lucky break! Except for Ted Sallis, who gets magically lobotomized by Strange because a man trapped in a monster’s body is a concept not worth exploring in the Marvel Universe. You know, another writer would have had all those people remain dead or, reveal later in another multi-issue epic that they were really animated corpses and slaves of the Chaos Demon putting its Plan B into motion for a return to Earth.

There was a joke back when Chris was writing for Marvel on all cylinders that everything he wrote sold well except for Spider-Woman. I think it was around 1980 and this issue of Doc Strange that I started looking at his work with a more critical eye and not just a fanboy consumer, even though i still enjoyed most of what he wrote. I still consumed comics by the longbox, buying titles because they were fun. It wasn’t until the 90’s that I really felt like I was throwing money in the street buying comics and except for the occasional favorite character pretty much stopped all purchases.

So this is what I think was the real climax to the story in Doctor Strange #41.


I don’t get it

Recreating the film Star Wars in animated Lego makes no sense. Lucas did a pretty good job on the story already so beyond a two-minute novelty cartoon what is the point? A few more licensing dollars? It seems like a waste of time. Just looking at the box art nearly makes me comatose so I can’t imagine a child watching an hour of it. I can just imagine the animators sitting in their cubicles dealing with the thought of another day animating goddamn Lego’s by punching the walls of their cubicles until their hands bleed.

Lego? May as well recreate a famous scene from The Empire Strikes Back using spare change on a kitchen counter.

“Luke, I am your father.”


Legal tender is better than Lego.


T2: Special Sleestak Edition

As annoyed as I am by the hyper-sexualization of female comic book characters, I am also irritated by the myth that the world would be a better place if run by women. This is a fairly recent and erroneous idea in culture because if anyone bothered to study history then they would realize that matriarchal societies are no different in practice than patriarchal. Cleopatra, anyone? Writer Brian K. Vaughn explores that very conceit in his DC Vertigo comic book series Y – The Last Man, the story of the last man on earth in a world of females. Here’s a heads-up for anyone who wants to read the series…a female-led world isn’t the fanboy’s paradise you might think it is.

In commercials for household products men are often portrayed as bumbling clowns who don’t know what toilet paper is. This is because those ads are aimed primarily at a woman who is presumed to be a homemaker. There is a reason why catch phrases such as Choosy Mothers Choose Jif or Mother Tested, Kid Approved are mom-centric. Traditionally, the media sees the woman in a household as the wise, responsible decision-maker (at least when it comes to food and cleaning supplies) even though there certainly are men who do all the shopping. Oddly, in a sort of reverse sexism, advertising routinely portrays men that are smart enough to have a career that earns enough cash for a house, a couple of SUV’s and lots of nice things, who nonetheless are helpless at home and require a woman to show them how to make their whites bright and clean.

Like in advertising, there is also some sort of a perverse arrogance seen in drama and action films. Often the female character is shown to be a logical mediator and spiritual force of good, someone that has a special connection with the universe because they can bear children and because of it have a unique insight (This not the positive message some may think it is because it portrays women in a way that grants them value only if treated as breeding creches).

When chaos and conflict erupt it is often given to the woman to scold the warring males, shaming them with harsh yet kind words of tough-love as if she were, somehow, transformed in that moment from flawed human being to faultless Saint! I call this the Sarah Connor Syndrome.

A good example of the woman-as-creative-force conceit was in an awkward scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. After failing to ambush and murder a scientist in front of his family, paranoid urban-guerrilla Sarah Connor (and the audience) misses the irony and denounces the world of men by shoving her uterus in the faces of everyone present. She decries what men accomplish, sermonizing that all of man’s work is nothing in comparison to giving birth.

As much as I enjoyed T2 for it’s kickassery and awesome special effects that scene rang hollow and bothered me when I first saw it years ago in the theatre. It still annoys me enough that even now when watching T2 on DVD I use the fast forward button to skip through the offending scene.

So today when I watched T2 for the hundredth time I decided it was time to show the world how the Sarah Connor scene should have actually played out. Originally, Sarah Connor nags everyone and her son asks her to be quiet.

If I had directed T2 instead of James Cameron, it would have played something like this:

“Men like you…built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you…thought it up. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something. To create a life, to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is DEATH!”

“What about crack babies?”


“Babies. Born addicted to crack and suffering permanent disabilities because their mothers were abusing drugs while pregnant.”


“Women who supposedly have this unique perspective and empathy about life yet who willfully harms their unborn, developing baby by repeatedly smoking meth doesn’t seem very ‘creative’ to me.”


“Damn. That bitch is crazy.”

See? Entirely free of any feminazi propaganda the scene is more realistic and even-handed. The movie would have been all the better for my version.


Tiny Livestock

One of the drawbacks to the sudden, overnight departure of the 13+ illegal aliens that lived in the apartment upstairs is that the colony of roaches with which they cohabited are now in desperate need of food. No longer having the steady resource of garbage available that they used to rely on the colony has spread out into other residences in search of sustenance.

Namely, my place.

We don’t live in a ghetto*, but the complex is priced for young couples and young people don’t clean up after themselves because they are not used to mommy not doing it for them. A common tactic from some renters about apartments in this price range is that a legitimate person will rent a place and sub-let it out to others who need a place or those who have a reason not to be in the system. In the case of several of my neighbors that means undocumented immigrants. When the management finds out what is going on they terminate the leases and evict the occupants. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which apartment has such residences. In each case closet doors are removed and stored on the balcony (to make that much more room for another mattress) and a curtain hangs the width of the living room (so the blinds on the balcony can be open for light and air while preventing anyone from seeing how many people are actually in the residence). The extra folks upstairs not on the lease were already kicked out once before but after a few weeks a group moved back in. I’ve counted no less than 18 mattresses piled by the dumpster each time the residents are kicked out of the 2 room apartments.

I don’t care about their legal status because they are human beings who need a place to live and a job to work, but they could have kept the noise down. You’d think a herd of disco-loving dancing elephants lived in the place from the noise they made at all hours. Additionally, my wife didn’t appreciate the bags full of garbage and piles of empty beer cans dripping their contents down onto our space from the balcony above.


In the last few weeks I’ve sprayed enough poison to surely lower the family’s IQ by several points and cause us all genetic damage that will undoubtedly manifest in interesting ways in generations to come but the bug problem is getting under control again thanks to a few carpet bombings and attention by the property management. For a while it was very annoying. I couldn’t even cook a meal. Put a spoon down on the counter while cooking to get something from the refrigerator and when turned back there would be a bug on the spoon. This was unacceptable. I haven’t lived in a place with roaches since I was in Texas 20 years ago** and I wasn’t about to now.

I set up glue traps around the apartment (which also has variant of Trashvertising) to snare the few bugs that survived the gassing.

The packaging of the traps was alarming. I don’t know where the majority of this product is sold but I don’t want to live anywhere a freaking anaconda is considered a “common household pest”.

* It’s many hundreds of dollars less expensive than where I last lived and has 1/3 more space. We had to move to a less costly (and what I call transitional) place due to the dysfunctional payroll system of my employer and the incompetence of career managers who
were unable to resolve what was originally a simple small pay error in less than 3 months and who comically compounded the error to surreal levels, causing serious deleterious effects to my finances.

** The definition of a luxury home in Texas is vermin infested hell-hole.


Dreadstar and the Power of Positive Thinking

Greg Burgas over at Comics Should Be Good waxes positive about Jim Starlin’s unfinished opus featuring his archetype hero Vanth Dreadstar. Along with Gerrold’s War Against the Ch’torr and Harman’s Refederacy Trilogy, the Metamorphosis Odyssey is the unfinished story I am most looking forward to being continued or completed.

While Starlin could for once have a hero that doesn’t leave a sparkle trail like a magic pink unicorn when he flies I enjoyed the underlying concept that Vanth is a tool of greater forces, just a trigger on a great big gun pointed indiscriminately at the universe. The first part of his story ended when he facilitated a galaxy being euthanized to save it from destruction. Crazy, man.

This is one of my favorite scenes from Dreadstar from Epic Illustrated #15 (Dec 1982). It is also the story in which Willow is introduced. This is also the first and only time she was portrayed as a helpless victim.

“Nothing is impossible! No, wait!”

I like how Starlin had Vanth assert one thing only to have the actual situation become clear a moment later in the form of a giant rock poised to fall and crush everyone. Now that’s symbolism! In this one page Jim Starlin shows us the difference between what we believe to be true and reality.

This would make a great poster to be hung on the wall of any reality-based thinker.