Category Archives: superheroes

WCO.243: Parallax


Back in the 80’s, I was a nerdy preteen who got heavily into computer programming.  None of this complex JavaScript, C++, or assembly language stuff.  Just BASIC, which is basically computer programming for babies.  Eventually I’d get good enough at it that I’d create my own simple Super Mario-inspired platformer.

One of the earliest games I’d programmed, though, was some code available in a library book.  It was a text based adventure game.  I’ve never played Zork, but through cultural osmosis I can tell you it’s something like that.  You could type things like “Go West” and get stunning replies like “You can’t go west.”  I suppose I have no one to blame for these geographical limitations since I’m the guy who technically programmed them in.

Anyway, this particular game went something like this.  Your Uncle Simon has just passed away.  One day, you receive a mysterious letter in the mail.  After doing some fetch-quest things, you end up activating a portal to another, fantastical world.

Mysterious packages seem de rigeur im adventure settings.  It’s a somewhat humble way to receive a ticket to adventure without necessarily having the ambition to follow the hero’s path.  Greatness is basically thrust upon you wrapped neatly in brown paper.  It’s a gift that drives the hero of Falke’s webcomic, the superhero adventure Parallax.

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WCO#237: Redd


In hero fiction, losing an appendage is never the end of the world. In fact, it is an opportunity for more adventure. A missing hand, for example, and be replaced by some sort of robot prothetics, like a claw that can crush through solid metal or a pop-up sword. As a child, who among us didn’t pretend to retract their hands into their long sweater sleeve, then pretend that what came out was a massive Gatling gun, poised to mow down the enemy forces that exist only in a child’s brutal imagination? PVC tubing or bendy straws may have been involved.

Hence, you have a host of super tough dudes who have amazing prosthetics. You’ve got Cable, a beefy mountain of a man who has one metal arm. Surprisingly, he doesn’t tip over or develop back pains. You’ve got Robocop, who’s sort of a jumble of replacement limbs, including a leg that awesomely contains a gun holster. Awesome robo-appendages can also be found on the ladies, such as Kimiko Ross from the webcomic Dresden Codak.

However, all those assume that the characters were born with functional arms and/or legs. What about characters who never had such a luxury? Maybe flippers hands or … perhaps … not even having arms at all? Where is the superhero for the handicapped… or rather, the handi-capable?

What’s that? Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a … plane that seems to be missing its wings! It’s Redd!


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Random Quickies: Jean & Scott


Since we all grew up in the 90’s, all of us will probably… wait. Some of you weren’t around in the 90’s?


Well, feel free to sit this one out, then. I’ll have something more universal later this week. The ones who were around in the 90’s can stick around after the ellipsis.

OK since we all grew up in the 90’s, all of us will probably remember the Jim Lee/Chris Claremont version of the X-Men. It was the costumes and roster prominently featured in the cartoon, and one of the most unlikely sources of 90’s nostalgia. Max Wittert certainly remembers, and he illustrates the domestic troubles of Jean Grey and Scott Summers on his Tumblr-based webcomic Jean & Scott. Cyclops is uptight, which is pretty consistent with his established portrayal. Jean Grey, though, has been driven to terminal laziness due to the convenience of her powers. THRILL as Jean Grey struggles to hold her cream soda! CHILL as Cyclops wonders aloud why Jean has to use Cerebro and not a cellphone like most normal couples! I cannot wait for the episode when Jean finally meets Scott’s space-pirate dad.

Digital Comic Overlook #5: Batman ’66 #1-9


So, kids, once upon a time there was this TV show in 1966. It featured a somewhat pudgy guy in a Batman outfit and a teen sidekick in short pants. He was such a great detective that one time he foiled a sea crime, and deduced that because it took place in the “sea”, it was a clue to the letter “C”, which means one of the culprits was “Catwoman.” Giant letters like “POW!” and “BAM!” would show up on the screen during fights, there was a catchy as hell theme song, and Gotham was sunny Santa Barbara, California, for some reason.

I am talking, of course, about Electro Woman and Dyna Girl.

No… wait! I mean Batman. Despite repeated attempts over the last three decades to turn the Dynamic Duo into a grim Dark Knight, and despite the show not being available on DVD due to entangled rights issues, no one has ever been able to fully erase the goofy fun and colorful campiness of the megapopular 1960’s TV show. I wasn’t around back then, obviously. Guys, I’m old… just not that old. However, I did catch whole runs of the show back when it was on FX. (This back in the day when that channel was promoting itself as an upscale lifestyle network and not a gritty drama network. It’s… a weird fit either way.) In my opinion, the show got a lot right. It had the best ever live-action depictions of both the Riddler and the Penguin, and it captured the wacky Silver Age feel that comic creators are desperate to recreate these days.

The show’s spirit shows up every so often, partly because a lot of comic professionals are secretly in love with it. From time to time, characters created for the show, such as King Tut, reappear in the comics. (In fact, the Riddler would haved been a forgotten minor character if not for his prominence on the show.) Batman: Brave and the Bold was essentially an animated sequel to the show. And now there’s this: Batman ’66, an digital comic on the DC2 imprint featuring the new adventures of the Dynamic Duo.


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Digital Comic Overlook #4: Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite #1-4


Click, click, click.

This is the sound of the future of digital comics, as the pundits say. Though, in my case, it was swipe, swipe, swipe.

There’s been some talk about how the “powerpoint” style of comics is going to become the next big thing for digital comics in the future. Now, I know we’ve heard the talk before, and a lot of us are plenty skeptical. The reality, though, is that the big boys, Marvel and DC, are both rarin’ to try it out. Over in their corner, Marvel’s been trying the technique out in their newly launched “Infinite” brand, which is digital only and available on the Marvel app; most are not currently on the Comixology app.

Aside: the awkwardly titled Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite IS available on Comixology for free. I would suggest not getting that one. It’s … pretty horrible. I know, it’s aimed for kids, but man, even if I was part of the intended age bracket I’d feel cheated by such a lightweight story with parts where Spider-Man goes super-deformed for some reason. Seriously, the Spidey Super Stories were less pandering. Also, for a title that includes “Ultimate” in it, it’s a comic about Peter Parker, and not Miles Morales, the current Spider-Man in the Ultimate titles. In fact, pretty much none of it, save maybe the Sam Jackson Nick Fury, seems to be set in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. (And even then, the Sam Jackson Fury is the current one in the baseline series.) Why even use “Ultimate”? Why? Why do you have to make things so hard, Marvel?!?!?!

So anyway, back to Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite #1-4, which are currently free to download on the Marvel app.


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Digital Comic Overlook #3: Ame-comi Girls #1-6


Jimmy Palmiotti has done many things. He is probably best known for his highly acclaimed run on the Jonah Hex title. He once formed a publishing company with Joe Quesada, the former Editor In Chief of Marvel Comics. He co-created Painkiller Jane, which became a show on the Sci-Fi Network.

He also writes DC’s Digital First comic,Ame-Comi Girls.


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Digital Comic Overlook #1: Adventures of Superman #1-3


All it took for me was one drawing by Chris Samnee.

Not too long ago, Chris Arrant at Robot 6 wrote a piece entitled “DC Digital: Best Kept Secret or Worst Covered Gem?” While all the press has been on the New 52’s same-day-digital initiative, the DC Digital brand has silently be cultivating some interesting titles. It started when they launched Smallville Season 11, the follow up to the popular TV show. (Some fans attest it’s better than the mainline Superman titles. I’ve only read one Smallville issue, but from what I’ve seen of the New 52 Superman, I don’t find it hard to believe.) While New 52 remain controversial, dropping and adding titles on a regular basis, the DC Digital titles have been steadily building up. Batman Beyond Unlimited. Legends of the Dark Knight. Arrow. And, um … Ame-Comi Girls. (Which is… written by Jonah Hex‘s Jimmy Palmiotti. Oh, Jimmy.)


But let’s get back to that Chris Samnee image! That’s all I needed to download the first three issues of Adventures of Superman. Look at that glorious thing. Is there any current artist out there who’s perfect for illustrating Superman than Chris Samnee? Before the New 52, I mean? I mean, he can just draw him and I’m all, “Yes. YES. That is Superman… not some impostor running around wearing red and blue tights.” Here is a man that makes you want to go “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!” every time you lay your eyes on him.

Well, it turns out only the first issue is illustrated by Mr. Samnee. (And it’s written by Jeff Parker.) Adventures of Superman is an anthology series… a bunch of short, low impact stories. Superman tries to talk a guy down from causing mayhem, two kids play around in the yard, and Superman deals with Bizarro.

Very few punches are thrown.

If you want to read about Darkseid’s ongoing plan to rule the world, this is probably not the comic for you. But you see… I love those stories. One of the best things about Superman from the Silver Age was how it was more focused on character relationships and wonder at the world than, say, Superman punching out the latest supervillain. It’s something that the previous incarnation of Superman really got wrong. Throughout the 80’s and the 90’s, it was about Superman beating up on villain after another. (Culminating in the best selling issue where he dies after being punched to death by Doomsday.)

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One Punch Reviews #69: Blue Yonder

For some reason, comic book superheroes don’t seem to fight supervillains anymore. Rather, they seem content fighting each other. Last year, DC’s New 52 kicked off with Flashpoint, where heroes became murderous villains living in an alternate timeline. This year’s big event is Marvel’s Avengers Vs. X-Men, where the merry mutants square off with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. (And before that: Civil War, where Captain America and Iron Man took opposite sides on superhero registration.)

Is it because the average age of the comic reader is a decade or two older than the original intended audience. Do we now find standard black-and-white morality to be childish, to the point where comic book villains look no worse than the morally stodgy heroes? Perhaps it’s our general distrust of authority? Or, in a genre rooted in rebellion, are we compelled to take sides against fatherly ultrahuman types? Maybe there are just more storytelling opportunitiies when Batman and Superman aren’t friends? These thoughts and more flit through my mind when I read Blue Yonder, a webcomic written by Luke Perks and Richard Pulfer and illustrated by Diego Diaz. Here, the villains are, for the most part, laughable… and the greatest threat to the heroes are themselves.

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