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Action Comics #900 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Booking Through Thursday: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You


btt buttonIf you could see one book turned into the perfect movie–one that would capture everything you love, the characters, the look, the feel, the story–what book would you choose?

deweyThis one’s easy for me: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. Perhaps with some material from the followup Dewey’s Nine Lives.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Maybe it’s odd that I’d want to see a non-fiction autobiographical piece turned into a movie. But see? They already did a movie of Marley & Me…and this is in–to me–the exact same vein, and so totally plausible. Except, of course, that filming a cat would be so much different than filming a dog. And kittens! You’d probably have to give someone an award for successfully filming kittens doing what you want (as not every random kitten would be like Dewey–they’re all so unique!)

Thing is…I never got to meet the real Dewey, the cat these books are about. I’ve never even been to Iowa.

deweyninelivesBut I remember seeing some blurb about the book coming out, and while I recall thinking along the lines of “Oh…interesting. A book about a cat in a library, and his name is Dewey.” Out of sight, out of mind, nothing deep.

But then I lost my cat, Christy. Dewey came out 5 days later. I bought it 3 days after it was out, and read it cover to cover in roughly 20 hours. It was cathartic–reading about another’s cat. What the cat meant to them, to so many people. Maybe Dewey didn’t touch my life during his own life…but he sure impacted mine by his story being told!

christyonchairThen I found the audiobook, and while I dislike the abridgement (whole other topic for some other post, abridgements) of it, the audio still fascinates me and I will randomly activate that playlist in iTunes to have something playing in the background…or when I’m finding myself particularly wistful for my cats.

kaylawithcomicsAfter I lost Kayla last May, I found myself using the audiobook again, seeking some of that catharsis. Of course, I did this at work, and when THAT scene came up, I had to leave the room to recollect myself.

I mean, such is the necessity in a way…whatever joy there is, sharing that story of a beloved animal, beloved pet, that special member of the family…

But as someone who spent 2 1/2 years in library school, who has family ties to libraries, who has always been someone who has had a library as part of his life…I never thought of having a cat live there. Until Dewey.

And ever since I found out they were making a movie of Marley and Me…I’ve been waiting for the movie of Dewey.

Maybe it’ll “just” be “made for tv.” I’d absolutely go see a theatrical release. But if I can count something like Tuesdays With Morrie as one of my all-time favorite films, and it was made for tv…so, too, I’d “settle” for a made-for-tv film for Dewey.

Kayla (age 13) in mirror

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes…now on DVD! (for the first time of probably several)

AEMHvol1OK, so…the first DVD package of Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is out/out soon.

And of course, it looks like it’s going to be your average $15-ish purchase, with a handful of episodes from the first season.

Thing is…are these actually a merging of all those little “shorts” that were put out just before the series itself officially started last year? Or part of the “main” season itself? I can’t tell that from the package…which is certainly not going to sell me on BUYING this thing.

Also, of course…in a day and age where most tv shows seem to be put out on DVD…seems to ME the vast majority are put out as…FULL SEASONS. You air a season on tv, do whatever with advertising and web streaming and all that…and then when the show’s season is available on DVD, you have the full, entire season.

Yet for some reason, it seems like more and more lately, I’m noticing shows doing PARTIAL seasons. Even a HALF season–if it’s rushed out as the show goes on a mid-season hiatus–makes sense. But just taking a handful of episodes like this, billing the first DVD with content as “volume 1” actually turns ME off to the thing. (I think I know just enough to be stupid regarding this, and don’t know enough to have the “full picture.”)

I recall seeing periodic releases of DVDs for Wolverine and the X-Men a couple years back. But then late last year…the entire season/series was put on one DVD set. I wasn’t going to pay $15 for 3-5 episodes ($3-5/episode), but when 20ish episodes were released for roughly $25 (around $1/episode), I was all over that, and I think I probably watched the whole thing in about a week and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Huge trouble I’ve noticed, though, for the DisneyXD stuff–and it was part of the problem I had with Wolverine and the X-Men that led to me ignoring it on regular TV after a handful of episodes.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a SCHEDULE. There’ll be a couple new episodes, then reruns, then maybe a new episode, then a slew of reruns. Plus, the show re-airs stuff at various time-slots, and it winds up becoming this huge mess to try to keep track of.

And then people wonder why I decide that I’ll “wait for the DVD.” And in this case–I’m not JUST waiting for the DVD–I’m waiting for the better-value edition that better reflects the series as a “season set” instead of some bimonthly allowance of episodes.

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #12 – JC Comics and Cards


JC Comics in Cuyahoga Falls, OH should not be confused with JC’s Comic Stop in Toldeo, OH. I find it’s quite a small world, though, that I’ve experienced two totally unrelated comic shops with virtually the same name.

JC is mainly a "backup" shop for me–if something’s not on my pull list at Kenmore and they’re out, I’ll stop by JC to see if he has the issue. Occasionally I’ll stop in to check out the bargain bin stock–I’ve acquired some decent issues from that, and a couple good runs–most of my Archer & Armstrong run came from JC’s bargain bins.

The shop has a decent selection of back issues, though I’ve never really had occasion to poke through it much. Recent issues make up a large portion of the store, with a section for the current week’s issues, and then a wall of recent weeks’ issues, grouped by Vertigo, Misc, Kids, Marvel, and DC…with a few superhero stuff from other publishers mixed in between DC and Marvel’s fare. There’s also an X-Men section.

They have a double-shelf row of collected volumes above the recent issues, with quite a good selection. I’ve found a couple classic Captain America TPBs there for cover price that would run $40+ via Amazon or other internet sellers.

The shop has for the last couple years been a GREAT location for Free Comic Day, attracting a solid crowd. The owner dressed as the Joker for 2010, and Batman showed up at one point.

The shop is a good one, though generally sells through on new stuff very quickly–the last several times I’ve been in, there are more "holes" than not on the current week’s releases, and this the day OF release.

All in all, I like the shop…just that it’s not a "primary" or "home" for me. Never have had bad service, and it’s well worth stopping by to check out the bargain bins, at least.

The Man in the [Man of Steel] Mask: Clark Kent vs. Superman as "Real"


While going through some old stuff I recently uncovered, I found this old essay I wrote for a class in my undergrad days…probably 2002 or so. Figured I’d share it on this blog, as it’s at least some “new” content, and I’ve obviously not been posting much lately.

A lot has changed in the intervening years since this was written–including the fact that the Superman in the comics today is NOT the same Superman referenced throughout this essay (as of 2006 and the end of Infinite Crisis).

As I formatted this to post, I spotted a bunch of glaring errors and issues…but left ’em in here, to maintain the integrity of the original document. And…this could become a monster of a project if I were to play editor to my 8-9-years-younger self. 

In Superman comics since 1986, Superman’s identity has been changed—most notably in the portrayal of the Clark Kent portion as “true” while Superman is portrayed as a “mask.” Despite nearly sixteen years since the change, this portrayal of the character has had little impact on the way he is seen. Many people—fans, scholars, and the general public—see Superman as the “real” character while Clark is the fiction. “Superman differs from his predecessors in science fiction by being able to exist within society by disguising himself as the self-deprecating and mild-mannered Clark Kent. It is the Kent alter ego that is supposedly a fiction, while the Superman personality is taken as real.” (Thomas Andrae “From Menace to Messiah” 1987.) Using the Superman comics themselves, I will show Clark Kent as the primary character while Superman is the mask.

In the essay “The Good, the Bad, and the Oedipal” (1987), Lester Roebuck suggests that “The Man of Steel’s heroic stature depends on his ability to keep the Clark Kent portion of his psyche carefully segregated.” I believe that it is actually the maintaining of his Clark Kent psyche that allows for the heroic stature of Superman. Raised as Clark Kent from birth by adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, and instilled with a sense of American values inherited from them, Superman as a hero is merely Clark Kent in a costume. In The Death of Superman (1993), this is explicitly stated: “The raised him to be a hero…to know the value of sacrifice. To know the value of life.” In World Without a Superman (1993), the reader is shown a flashback to Jonathan talking with a young Clark, and Clark explains “You’re the one who taught me how to care!” Additionally, in 1986’s Man of Steel, after revealing to Clark the rocket that brought him to earth, Jonathan tells him “Whatever this thing really is, wherever you came from, you’re our son now. You’re an American citizen–and that means you’ve got responsibilities.” When Clark prepares to leave Smallville, he shows acceptance of parental guidance when he tells Martha “After all the times you and he have talked to me over the years . . . You told me all those times that I should never use my special abilities to make myself better than other people–to make other people feel useless . . . It’s time for me to face my responsibilities.” With that, Clark began several years of secretly helping others, before he was discovered. He worked in secret, seeking no glory or fame for himself, simply wanting to help his fellow man, as his parents had taught him to do.

After the world’s discovery of this super-man, Clark returned to his parents for advice. Explaining his concern:

“They were all over me! Like wild animals. Like maggots. Clawing. Pulling. Screaming at me. And it was all demands! Everybody had something they wanted me to do, to say, to sell! It was as if my first public appearance had unleashed the worst, the greediest, the most covetous part of everyone . . . They’d taken everything you’ve ever taught me and ripped it apart . . . I know I still have to use my powers to help people who really need me…but now they’re going to be looking for me. Expecting me. And I just don’t know how to deal with it!” (Man of Steel)

Working with his parents, the costume and identity of Superman is created. Years later, Jonathan reflects to Martha “I had the idea . . . The costume. The secret identity.” (World Without a Superman). After the costume is created, Clark proclaims “The whole thing works just fine! It’s got exactly the symbolic look I wanted. So, from now on, whenever there are people who need my very special kind of help, it won’t be a job for plain, ordinary Clark Kent…It’ll be a job for Superman!” (Man of Steel). This illustrates that Superman is intended as a “mask” to be worn in public. As Clark tells Lois in The Death of Clark Kent (1997): “I’m Clark Kent first and Superman second! Superman is the mask I’ve worn all along to have a private life!”

Continue reading

Booking Through Thursday: Cover


btt button

CAN you judge a book by its cover?


I think this is a very contextual question. Can you judge a book by its cover?

Certainly. And people do, all the time. It’s natural. It’s that first, initial thought. Whether it’s in the logo/design of the cover, recognizing the author’s name or not, the image (or lack thereof) on the cover, etc.

But often, perhaps it’s not so much JUDGING the book as it is EVALUATING the book, by whatever natural criteria one uses, or any specific criteria at the time.

When I’m in–say, Borders–and looking for Dragonlance books…I’m going to be extremely dismissive of any book whose cover does not reference dragons or Dragonlance itself. At the same time, if a book has a similar design to the edition of the book I’m looking for, or the name(s) Margaret Weis and/or Tracy Hickman jump out at me, I may pause and give other books a chance. At the same time, because I’m a Dragonlance fan, if I’m walking through an aisle and an image that makes me think of Dragonlance, puts me in mind of (a) character(s) from Dragonlance, it may be enough for me to stop and see what this book is, whether it turns out to actually be some Dragonlance book I’m unfamiliar with or something else entirely.

I’ve noticed with some types of books, the title of the book will be the prominent feature–when you’re looking for that title or that series, it may be the series’ name alone that “sells” you on giving the book a chance.

Other times, the author’s name is the prominent feature, and one will check the book out or even purchase it unpreviewed simply on the author’s name alone. Right now, I’m like that with John Grisham–if Grisham puts out a new book, I’m going to pick it up. Doesn’t matter if it’s about an appeal, an associate, or the importance of some confession. Grisham’s books could simply be titled “The Book Published in Late 2010” and I’d buy it.

buffytalesAdditionally, particularly with hardcovers that have dust jackets…that becomes another thing entirely as you’re dealing with two covers. The direct, permanent cover of the actual book itself…and the (often much more colorful, detailed, and visually-appealing/senses-stimulating) dustjacket. The dust jacket may grab one’s attention in the store…but when I’m actually reading such a book–and thus, “presenting” it to those around me–all they have to go on is the physical cover as I take the dust jacket off so it’s not damaged in my carrying the book all over. (And then covers any damage the physical cover sustains…)

buffytales2Right now I’m toting around Buffy: Tales…a hardcover graphic novel collection of a bunch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. The cover is solid black, with the title on the spine, and simply that stylized “B” from the Buffy logo on the cover. If one knows that B…it’ll jump out; otherwise, it’s simply a stylized letter B.

Comics become another thing. Perhaps because most of them are published so frequently–12 or more times per year–often the cover IS how you judge ’em until you read them. Whether it’s for the image–is it a familiar character? Perhaps you’ve never even heard of Wookey the Wombat, but…there’s Wolverine on the cover, so you might check it out for his presence.

Similarly, for a series or “event” or crossover, the covers may take on a different style to resemble one another such that even without reading any words or character names on the cover, it’s obvious that the issue has something to do with Civil War or Fear Itself or whatever.

Then there are the comics–and I point the finger primarily at Marvel in the early 2000s–with generic “iconic” covers that don’t have anything to do with the story itself, really, but just simply showcase the title character. Right now I couldn’t even BEGIN to–other than 3-4 issues–differentiate early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man without seeing the number itself on the cover, and I don’t associate most iconic images of Spidey from that run with any particular issue. I’m also noticing that some on my current journey beginning through the Brand New Day stuff.

None of this rambling addresses CONTENT, really, though.

Content-wise…I find that often the cover for non-comics books rarely REALLY give much idea of what’s inside…at least not enough to really judge the book or truly evaluate what the story itself will be. The image might–AFTER having read the book–provide some nice symbolism or summary of the contents…but just because you see a closeup of a “Scales of Justice” there’s no way of knowing if that’s a literal or metaphorical reference, or what its meaning actually is in context of the story within the book.

Other books’ covers may be nothing but text with some sort of background. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is nothing but text…the title itself, the subtitle, and the author’s name (Max Brooks). In that, I’d suggest that one’s judging it more on the strength of the title and/or author’s name than the cover in and of itself. (Another like this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Nothing but text and a background…standing solely on its title/premise.)

All of this could really get pretty deep, and I’d be shocked if there are not major academic studies out there that somehow address this topic–such as the psychology of a book’s/cover’s design on a person’s likelihood of picking it up.

Constantine DCU-bound?

constantinebooksRegarding the Bleeding Cool post on the topic…This could be interesting…though I’d wonder if perhaps it’d be similar to how Marvel’s had the “Marvel MAX” Punisher as its own continuity separate from their mainline “Marvel Universe” Punisher character.

I do recall about a decade ago when I was introduced to Constantine, feeling sure I’d seen the character in the Day of Judgment series (he HAD to have been there…or so I thought. I was wrong.)

Personally…I see little reason this couldn’t or shouldn’t happen. Keep his own title to what it is/has been, in its own continuity…and otherwise let the character back into the DCU as what he is, but keep him to more of a guest-starring role; he doesn’t need to have a second title within the DCU. Similar to how the Phantom Stranger shows up now and then, or how Marvel’s Watcher shows up here ‘n there.

Might even be enough to convince me to pick up some DCU books I’m otherwise pretty much ignoring for present.

Rich Johnston’s original post:

I don’t know where. I don’t know when. I don’t know how.

But I am reliably informed from a certain Brazilian in the know that John Constantine will be appearing as a major character in upcoming DC Universe titles, post Flashpoint.

Created in the then-DC Universe title Swamp Thing, by John Totleben, Steve Bissette and Alan Moore, this street-level occultist span off his own comic series, John Constantine: Hellblazer and, with Sandman and Swamp Thing, spearheaded the Vertigo line of mature readers comic books, including the much derided Keanu Reeves vehicle, Constantine.

Rare in comics, Hellblazer takes place in real time with the sixty something supernatural opportunist currently married to the twenty something cultural rebel Epiphany, and continues his adventures as an occult adventurist, detective and saviour, scarred by the ages. Even his shock of blonde hair has been considerably receding of late.

But now I understand that Constantine will soon be appearing in DC Universe titles. There’s a possible appearance in Flashpoint:Lois Lane looking at the cover, but what I’m being told is a longlasting return to DC Universe continuity.

If nothing else, it might be good for his hairline.

via John Constantine To Return To The DC Universe Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors.

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