TUNDRANAUTICA

Bringing Home the Freshest Kill

Posts in the comic books category

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Pal Ricky recently visited town, and that means I was able to get my hands on some issues of his latest comic book, Senator Surprise.

It’s good. It’s funny. It’s good fun.

Some images here:

Senator Surprise No

Senator Surprise

(more…)

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Tim Tebow OPENSports.com

  • Daniel Kalder: “Rider Publishing, an imprint of Ebury at Random House, acquired rights to Crossing the Border, a memoir by Jang Jin-sung – former ‘court poet’ to Kim Jong-il, and will publish next spring…Jang was so trusted that he met Kim Jong-il twice. The first time, Jang explained in an interview with the BBC last January, ‘I was overwhelmed and full of emotion. But at the same time I thought the image I had received of him – through brainwashing – was very different to how he appeared in person.’ Kim gave the poet an gold Rolex worth $11,000 (£7,000) and granted him the ‘sacred immunity’ that only the microscopic minority who spent 20 minutes in the presence of the god-dictator received. Now Jang could not be prosecuted without special permission from on high. At the second meeting, ‘We sat at a performance together, and he kept on crying while he watched it. I felt his tears represented his yearning to become a human being, to become an ordinary person.'”
  • UrbDezine San Diego: “Purge the term NIMBY from your language and your thinking. It stultifies any further understanding of community concerns, or how to reach a compromise. Every criticism or opposition to a high density project is now labeled as NIMBYism, with little further discussion of community concerns. Community stakeholders typically have great knowledge of their neighborhoods though they may not use formal planning terms.”
  • Yahoo Sports:  “If [Tim Tebow] wants to make it in the NFL, he needs to change. He needs to learn the game. He needs to become a backup at some team that has an established quarterback, like New Orleans or New England. He also needs to stop being a media presence. Tebow is a wonderful human being: polite, gentle, compassionate and giving. But he also never met a camera he didn’t like. He wants to be a public figure so that he can spread the gospel he believes in. That’s fine and it’s even OK that he has used football to do it. However, he is now at a point where being in the public eye detracts from his ability to make it as a football player. Teams don’t like the sideshow Tebow brings. The Jets tried to trade him this offseason and found no takers.”

 

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On a Saturday night.

Tundranautica

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I’ve been reading comic books since I was a wee sprite. So I’ve been following the medium long enough to spot weird patterns and trends.

Here’s one that continues to trouble me:

The barely believable moral code of supervillains.

Ever notice that — whenever a villain has a chance to kill his super-hero nemesis — the villain declines, offering such questionable logic as “I cannot kill Super Guy this way. It would be too clean, too easy. There would be no honor.”

Sure. Whatever.

I think we can all translate the proper meaning here. “The publisher cannot afford to kill this top merchandising brand right now, or ever.”

Exhibit A.

In this panel (a flashback to a previous issue), notorious crime lord Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, a longtime foe of Spider-Man, saves Spider-Man from certain death at the hands of the Hobgoblin, another storied nemesis of the web-slinger. Why? It’s “simply good business” says Fisk.

Really, Kingy? Suddenly, you decide that keeping Spider-Man alive is “good business“? What about all those times you plotted to kill him, hired someone to kill him, or fought him yourself in hand-to-hand combat? All those memories are just erased to ensure that the publisher’s title and current story arc trudge onward? I am not a fool, Marvel. Take this back to the chef. (I love the John Romita Jr. artwork though.)

Exhibit B.

Another implausible scenario. Dr. Doom has the Fantastic Four — his greatest enemies — trapped inside his kingdom, Latveria. He even has an “inhibitor ray” on them to mute their powers. So what does he do? He lets them go. Naturally.

Now, perhaps I’m being too cynical. As my pal Ricky points out, Doom is a notoriously sentimental supervillain. He cried after 9-11, for instance. And he was college buddies with the Fantastic Four’s leader, Reed Richards. (Below is the 9-11 panel in question).

Exhibit C.

Ricky found this stellar example. It’s from Captain America No. 133. The villain in question is MODOK, a levitating guinea pig.

The strangeness of MODOK, particularly his female permutations, deserves a post all its own. But that’s a story for another day.

One last example of supervillains’ contradictory and/or esoteric moral codes is the super-group Masters of Evil. Great name, right? How’d you think of that one, guys? Sat around a conference table and threw suggestions into a hat?

Anyway, look at this pic. It has more diversity than a United Colors of Benetton ad.

You have Thunderball, an African American, on the far upper right. You have Baron Zemo, a Nazi, addressing the group. You have Mr. Hyde, a mentally challenged villain, kneeling. You have Tiger Shark, who’s basically a fish. You have three (count ’em, 3!) women.

And we fans are to believe that these individuals, from such diverse and even divergent social groups, all gather for the sake of…what, exactly? Evil?

In essence, supervillainy trumps petty social differences. Or supervillains are incredibly tolerant people, behind the curtain of evilness. We are asked to suspend disbelief and follow this logic.

OK, fair enough. I’ve read prisoners’ accounts of their time in the Big House, and one recurring theme is that the skinheads and black prisoners “get along” fairly well — mostly because they are so upfront about their group solidarity. There is no moral ambiguity, no grey area — if push came to shove, each would slit the other’s throat, and neither makes an attempt to conceal this. Therefore a strange sort of respect emerges.

It’s more plausible than Dr. Doom saying “Leave my kingdom, Fantastic Four! I don’t feel like killing you right now. There would be no sport in it.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for a more challenging and complex interplay between supervillain and super-hero psychologies, I recommend Daredevil No. 180, in which Daredevil forges through the sewers of New York to find the Kingpin’s long-lost wife, Vanessa.

It’s one my all-time faves. At one point, Daredevil, hobbling around on a crutch, gives the crutch to a damned, legless soul, who proceeds to mock him for his generosity.

When I was busy reading that at age 10, I’m sure my parents thought I was knee-deep in innocuous “Whap! Bam! Pow!” mindlessness.

If only!

P.S. Here is a good analysis of the Batman/Joker psychological interchange by Erik Henriksen at the Portland Mercury.

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Sometimes the Pit Sends Something Back

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Self portrait of Steve Ditko asleep at drawing...

Self portrait of Steve Ditko asleep at drawing board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Daniel Kalder: “Stan Lee went to Hollywood where he spent three decades failing to score any big movie deals; Jack Kirby died embittered at his treatment by the firm; and Steve Ditko turned to publishing bizarre Randian tracts in tiny print runs. By the 1990s, Marvel was fuelling a weird spectator boom with multiple covers on new first issues of comics that they printed by the million and which were obviously never going to be worth anything. A couple of disastrous business decisions later and they went bust, only to be bought over by Ike Perlmutter, an Israeli toy manufacturer who had begun his business career in America in the late 1960s, when he was paid to recite Hebrew prayers at Jewish funerals.”
  • More Kalder: “Just before Christmas I read Happy Moscow, an unfinished novel from the 1930s, set in the soviet capital just as the city was assuming its modern form. As with all of Platonov’s novels the prose is weirdly alienating but also intimate, and the book teems with tropes from the “Golden Age of Stalinism” if you will permit me to use such a phrase. Moscow Chestnova, the titular heroine, is a beautiful girl who becomes a parachutist; she goes to work in the metro but loses a leg; then she moves in with a bizarre, shiftless character who has more or less given up on life.”
  • The Soviet space dogs entry on Wikipedia: “Bars (Барс (pron. “Barss” not “Barz”; “Snow leopard”) and Lisichka (Лисичка, “Little Fox”) were also on a mission to orbit as a part of the Vostok programme, but died after their rocket exploded 28.5 seconds into the launch on July 28, 1960. Bars was also known as Chayka (“Seagull”).Other dogs that flew on sub-orbital flights include Dymka (Дымка, “Smoky”), Modnitsa (Модница, “Fashionable”) and Kozyavka (Козявка, “Little Gnat”).”
  • Also — Wikipedia’s monkeys in space entry
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To wit.

BatCat

Harvey DentCat

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Marvel Comics used to produce a comic book series called “What If…?

The basic premise: The book’s narrator, Uatu, a member of a race of lifeforms called Watchers, speculated on how the Marvel Universe might be different if certain key events were played out in alternate fashion, e.g., “What if Captain America Had Been Elected President?” and “What if the Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Superpowers?”‘

Cover of "What If? Classic Vol. 1 (Marvel...

Wikipedia has the entire list of “What If…?” titles here, and many beg the question “What Was Uatu Smoking?

All that aside, I’d like to apply the “What If…?” methodology to the NFL, specifically,

“What if the World’s Great Philosophers and Thinkers Played Professional Football?”

Here is what NFL scouts are saying about the pool of talent available in philosophy and literature.

Immanuel Kant will be the best cornerback in next year’s draft and it’s not even close. Kid can run a Copernican Revolution in reverse….He ‘Tebowed‘ after riffing on the epistemology of Transcendental Idealism. I just thought that demonstrated a lot of chutzpah. Good kid. He’ll be in the running for the Heisenberg, even though he’s a defensive player.

 

Slavoj Zizek? Doesn’t look like much in his underwear, but the kid can flat-out play. He’s like loose silk in the open field.

If you ask me, Friedrich Nietzsche is an overrated piece of [expletive]. I don’t need grim meditations on eternal recurrence. I just need consistent play in the Red Zone.

There are no Jimmy Grahams in this year’s pool of tight end prospects, but I like Camus. He needs to grow up though. This is the NFL, it’s not the [expletive] Universitaire d’Alger. Still, the potential is there for big things.

If your O-line needs interior players, you could do worse than Søren Kierkegaard. I’ve warmed up to the kid but you’re gonna need a leap of faith to take him any earlier than the second round.

Other than Kant, I also like David Hume in this year’s batch of corners. Interesting kid — Scottish. He advocates a compatibilist theory of free will pretty nicely.

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At this rate, [Jean-Paul] Sarte is condemned to be free. Too bad, because he functions more efficiently in a ball-control, grind-it-out-offense. He’s a game manager, not a franchise QB.

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This kid Eratosthenes is a real mauler. Bookish guy but the cerebral part of him translates well to the game.  He didn’t look good late in the year though. Pass-blocking was horse [expletive]. Him and that whole part of the line were a sieve.

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