Saturday, April 05, 2008

Or is this the best video ever?

From who else? Bjork.


Of course, this is a pretty typical day for Jamie, anyway, so she'll be wondering "what's the big whoop?"

Friday, April 04, 2008

New Batman cartoon

Looks like there's a new Batman cartoon coming in the next year or so, intended to replace the now canceled "The Batman" series. Which had more or less turned into a team-up series in the past year, anyway. I wasn't crazy about "The Batman". The first year or two, the creators changed things, more or less just to change them, not because it added anything to the show.

I was also never 100% sold on their character designs. And they just never really seemed to really dig in and build a world the way Bruce Timm had done. Moreover, their takes on the rest of the Justice League was a far cry from the excellence of JLU.

I have no idea what the new Batman series will be like or about, but I like two things here:

1) The Dick Sprang styling on Batman. Looks very kid friendly. I'm hoping for a fun take.
2) Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle!

I am a huge fan of the current Blue Beetle series and character. One of the best titles out there right now, and the character is really well thought out, as are all of the details of the book.

I think Jaime Reyes is a natural for a kids cartoon show, so I just hope they don't screw it up.


Anyway, the series looks pretty straightforward. Batman teams up with someone new from the DCU every week and, I guess, saves the day. Anyhow, I'll tune in.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Best Video Ever?

You may have your opinion about what was the best music video ever, but I am here to tell you, you are wrong.

The best music video ever? Van Halen's peaen to school boy crushes on their teachers.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Hot For Teacher

Things you often love as a kid usually wind up a lot more complicated than you gave them thought for at the time. Truly, I don't think you could get away with this video again for about six or seven very legitimate reasons. Probably the number one being the utter objectification of the authority figure parading herself in front of a room full of children. Somehow I don't think that would fly. Sexist comes to mind. Possibly even misogyny (but I think that's unfair. I think the word is objectification).

Really, the video is hilariously awful. But wasn't that always the point of Van Halen's videos with David Lee Roth? They weren't exactly out there trying to uplift the intellect of mankind, unless you think Alex's drumming on "Hot for Teacher" is a breakthrough for humanity. In which case, you'd be right.

And, seriously, back in the 80's on MTV, this wasn't even close to some of the worst stuff you'd see when it came to ladies in bikinis. This was just the silliest. As immortalized in the classic "Tapeheads", in video music making, that's considered "production value". And if you don't believe me, watch any yound ingenue's video these days.

I think you have to give the director credit for the many pieces of the video which work so well together: the Harms-like Waldo character, the library table guitar solo, the Van Halen dance sequence, the young Van Halen equivalents, the ultimate destinies of each spelled out... Man. That's about five minutes of solid music video.

Sure, the video seems a bit as if it were cooked up by eighth graders, but that's appropriate to the subject material.

The video also gave us the phrase "Siddown, Wall-do!", which I think I need to start using around the office.

Anyway, its much better than the video for Sussudio (which I spelled correctly on my first try, thank you).

What was your favorite?

Superman at LakeCreek Alamo April 27th

Hey Leaguers,

Not much time for the blogging this evening, but...

Superman: The Movie will be showing at the Alamo Drafthouse up at LakeCreek on April 27th. Yup, up in Ye Olde Land of Wherefore The League Grew Up, up there kinda near Westwood High School. There are two shows, but we're going to the 1:00 show since its a Sunday, blah blah blah...

This showing is actually celebrating the 70th anniversary of Action Comics #1, which means just about absolutely nothing to the average Leaguer, but, hey... I get my little thrills where I can.

Superman wonders why The League has spent more time watching this movie than Reeve spent making it

While I saw Superman at the Paramount about a year ago with Jamie, Julia, Steven and Lauren, I'm kinda looking forward to watching it while eating a pizza. Which, in all likelihood, I've done before at home, but hell... this will be at a THEATER WITH PIZZA (we like to mix it up).

Justin is going to be there, and he's promised to wear his Brainiac costume. I assure you, you have not lived until you've seen Justin in his tiny, pink shorts with his legs painted green.

We've already bought our tickets, so we hope you'll show up.

And, forwarded by Randy (click to see full-size):

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

bookshelves, zen, Johnny Clambake's

Hey Leaguers. Not much to report. As Steanso might say, its been an uneventful week.

Over the weekend Jamie and I began my long-dreamt-of plan to get shelving up in the hallway/ open area at the top of the stairs. The League is actually very excited about this turn of events as it means: organization. Based on evidence of my life, ages 12-18, KareBear would probably not believe I actually really, really like self-imposed organization. I like knowing exactly where things are, and setting up organizational systems. In a way, what i really wanted to do was build my own "built-in" bookshelves, but if I wanted to do that, it would take weeks, and I couldn't guarantee the shelves would be, oh... flush to the wall and all sit level. I am no carpenter.

So we've Ikea'd it. We're putting in shelves from the Billy system. The system which is going to look much better with books on it, than sitting empty.

We also sort of screwed up, and I neglected to pick up the "corner hardware" which would actually make the whole "corner" bookshelf thing work. There's also an additional, small bookshelf I think i need to make it work, but... anyway.

Tonight I intended to continue on with the great bookshelf build, but we wound up going to Austin Asian-style-food-bistro, "Zen". Which has good food, but it's claims to being "Japanese" are pretty dubious. The reality is, if the food is okay, I could care less about its authenticity or pedigree.

What struck me was how utterly unrelaxing "Zen" is as an environment. There are TV screens with 3D animations flying around, they aren't shy with the volume of music, and the art design, while interesting, is sort of aggressive. Not exactly like a stone garden.

But, again, the food is good and priced reasonably.

Speaking of reastaurants, it's been almost a year, so I thought I'd repost the Johnny Clambake's post from last year, with names removed to protect the innocent.

Johnny Clambake's 1

Johnny Clambake's 2

Johnny Clambake's 3

Johnny Clambake's 4

And Steanso's raging response to me pulling down the post.

For those of you who weren't around this time last year, the Johnny Clambake's incident was the oddest, most controversial escapade of all the escapades at League of Melbotis. Not only was I contacted at home by a business owner, some Loyal Leaguers felt my deicison to remove my post was highly questionable. Just check out the comments sections for the free-for-all that ensues.

I guess The League had strayed too far from its punk-rock roots, but hell, I was a little sensitive to unemployment issues at the time, and I stand by those crazy kids and their meatball manufacturing ways. And, hey, Johnny Clambake's has wound up making a go of it in spite of anything I thought. Bully for them.

In the end, the woner of the place extended an olive branch. Heck, a whole olive tree, but I was too tired of dealing with the issue to take him up on his offer.
Thus, we never did claim that free meal. Nor have I been back, pretty sure that I would be taken out back by guys named "Tiny" and "Chuckles" who would see how far backward my knees would bend.

Honestly, it was a pretty unhappy event for me at the time. But if you can't look back and laugh, well, hell... you shouldn't be writing inflammatory restaurant reviews or keeping a blog at all.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

DITMTLOD: Like a virus

In a single 24 hour period, two bloggers of note have picked up the banner of discussing their celebrity crushes of yesteryear.

Over at, Steven G. Harms has finally made good on his promise to produce a list of Dames in the Media he Once Dug. You can check it out here.

Steven's list in quite comprehensive, going so far as to include one entirely fictional persona. And I think he does a great job of identifying ladies of considerable interest of the 1990's, including the cartoon character.

Completely unrelated to The League, over at comic blog "Occasional Superheroine", Valerie has listed a chronological accounting of her celeb crushes. I'm fairly certain Valerie has never stumbled upon, nor read LoM, so its interesting to see the concept materialize on other blogs, especially in list format. It must be in the zeitgeist.

Somehow its more telling when you see the list rather than individual DITMTLOD, I think.

So I challenge all Leaguers to either publish your own list, or send me yours. Make it specific. Ladies of the 90's? Dudes of Glam Rock? I don't care. Send 'em in.

Comic Book Make League Cry

I know it doesn't really matter if I beg or plead with my good Leaguers... You're unlikely to pick up a comics just becasue I say so.

But if the League may recommend: All-Star Superman #10

The League is not made of stone, and every once in a while we're also particularly tired and/ or not feeling well. And in those moments, well, we confess a tear or two might creep to the edges of our otherwise manly, manly eye.

Things in comics that made me cry:

-The death of Hippolyta in Wonder Woman. Poor, poor Diana. For the love of God, comic nerds, be good to your mother. You never know when an evil space tyrant is going to take her away.

-We3. Pretty much every panel of every page of We3 had me sort of teary. It's partially due to something about how Frank Quitely draws, and partly because I'm a sucker for animal stories.

-Lois's face when she sees Superman again at the end of New Frontier. Sometimes someone actually understands Lois and Superman, and Cooke knocked it out of the park. Sadly, the movie didn't really capture the moment in quite the same way.

-Promethea. When Promethea turns to the reader and speaks to them in the penultimate issue of the series. This series was so underrated and under-appreciated in its time, its a crime. Moore truly succeeded with pushing the boundaries of reality on this one, and his collaboration with JH Williams is one of the finest examples of art and words mixing as they can only in comics that I've had the privilege to see. What Buddy Baker began with his "I can see you" business reaches a new apex.

Also, maybe one day Jamie will let me hang my two Promethea prints.

Amazing Spider-Man #36
- It's tough to imagine with a few years of separation, but in the wake of 9-11, Marvel Comics interrupted the storyline of the Spider-Man comics to tell a story devoid of cynicism, and which captured some small aspect of the tragedy of 9-11. And just as it uses the eyes of Spider-Man to capture the helplessness of the day, we also see the determination of the real heroes of 9-11 reflected in the story.

Had this story been printed now, it would seem odd, manipulative, and in questionable taste to use the very real tragedy of 9-11 as a backdrop for a tale of the wall-crawler. But at the time... And even today as the tragedy of 9-11 fades from view with the passage of time, it will be a time capsule of how we reacted in the days, weeks and months following. No doubt some readers will feel it absurd, even insulting that Marvel would have dared to tell a Spider-Man story, but that is now. This was then.

There are also stories of how quickly this comic was produced, hitting the shelves by November, 2001. Indeed, you can feel the urgency of the story, and the raw feelings of a true moment in history and how Marvel tried to come to grips with what was the only thing on everyone's mind.

Laika - Is there anything more likely to make you cry than shooting a puppy into space with no plans to bring it back? Reall, you could probably get my lower lip trembling just asking me to tell you what our Russian friends did to get something alive into space before the US of A.

This is, also, a great comic. I highly recommend.

First in Space - America's inability to treat its own non-human astronauts with John Glen-like-respect gets its own treatment in this true story of the US's first chimp in space, Ham. Suffice it to say, The League's feelings regarding poor treatment of chimps, especially when its a true story, are perhaps stronger than we care to admit.


All-Star Superman #10 managed to fall somewhere in there. And for Superman fans, Morrison and All-Star Superman have been nothing less than a gift. Each panel reflects more understanding of who Superman is and what that should mean rather than the mere caped do-gooder too many writers have fallen back on. The essence of what fans find in the character is omnipresent in each of Quitely's perfectly composed pages.

As with We3, and parts of new X-Men, Morrison and Quitely seem to have a synergy few other writer/ artist teams seem able to capture. Quitely manages to convey the quiet magic of Superman's world in a manner that seems to have been lost since the days of Curt Swan, with broad expanses necessary to contain the Man of Steel. His renderings of each character's expressions rival Kevin MacGuire for internal monologue.

The ideas and understanding of what a Superman would mean to the world, and what responsibilities that Superman would feel pervade the issue. But to tell it is to give the moments away.

Perhaps when the series is completed and collected, I can recommend the trade collection. In the meantime, you're missing out on one of the best comics on the stands. If we get a little misty when reading All-Star Superman, we hope you'll forgive us. The same thing happens whenever I watch Superman and they do that pan over the Kryptonian landscape.

The League doesn't mind shedding a few tears now and then. We're sensitive like that.

As much as I love getting a good laugh out of a Jimmy Olsen comic, every once in a while, its nice to know comics can be a powerful enough medium to involve us enough in the characters, in their worlds, to maybe do a bit more than tell another tale of fisticuffs and heat vision.

Monday, March 31, 2008

My Favorite Force for Evil: Part 1

I won't bother to get into the context of why we were talking about it, but I was asked Sunday evening: I don't think there's any question regarding your favorite hero, but who is your favorite villain?

I'm going to assume that what was meant was Comic Book Villain.

If you believe movie critics, superheroes are only as good as their villains. Now, anyone who actually reads superhero comics knows that statement is suspect, and should really read: a superhero is only as interesting as the challenge put to them. And in the movies, superheroes tend to run into their more colorful villains, usually pared down for a 2-hour action adventure, and cast with colorful actors who get to have fun with it.

Because the DCU and Marvel U are somewhat unending, and villains recur, its not the same, neat package one gets in a movie. Believe it or not, the occasional story doesn't even feature a villain (it's true!). So my criteria may be a bit different from what one sees in the movies.

It's also worth noting that superhero comics are respectively full of a multitude of villains for every hero (after all, Batman can't fight the Joker every issue, and Superman can't try to arrest Luthor every issue). Some appear once or twice, and then disappear. Others appear as an afterthought, and through the magic of re-use and popularity with fans, they can become as central to a company's entire line of comics as any superhero (ex: Lex Luthor).

So... yeah.

There are various criteria one can use for a good villain. Costume. Motivation. General characterization. Initial vision for the the villain. How that vision has expanded over the years. And some may like villains for their somehow noble nature, such as Magneto or the occasional turn by Dr. Doom.

DC is littered with great villains, and I think the past two decades have seen DC really embrace and understand how to turn a villain from a cardboard cut-out to a three-dimensional character, all on their own. In a lot of ways, Marvel has been ahead of DC in this area since their inception. But, lately... Perhaps its pop-psychology, but villains now have rich pasts, goals, etc... just like their heroic counterparts. Hell, I'm a big fan of Geoff Johns' Flash thanks to his treatment of some of DC's second-string villains.

As classic as his heroes have become, I'm also a huge fan of several of Kirby's villains (which include several Marvel staples, from Mole-Man to Galactus. From Magneto to Doom). There's vision there from Kirby, and while it may not have always shone as brightly at DC as at marvel when it came to establishing a line of villains, he did some amazing work.

At the end of the day, my favorite villain (often copied, but never equaled) is Kirby's creation, Darkseid.

You might actually remember Darkseid from the 1980's version of Superfriends, "Galactic Guardians", which took an interdimensional/ interplanetary despot and made him safe for the kids. I assure you, he's not all about trying to make Wonder Woman his ladyfriend.

Darkseid's single desire: attain The Anti-Life Equation, which, once mastered, would give Darkseid complete dominion over all life.

If that doesn't give you a pretty good challenge for your resident heroes, I don't know what will.

Already without the Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid is massively powerful, perhaps more so than Superman, with whom he has gone toe-to-toe. He's obtained the power of the Omega Force (which he stole from his brother, seemingly killing him). He poisoned his own mother to become master of the planet Apokolips. He keeps several fiefdoms of power, constantly struggling for his favor, and the citizens of his planet are known as The Hunger Dogs, and are treated as nothing more than expendable slave labor to tend the fire pits of Apokolips, which fuel his engines of destruction.

With all that going for him, Green Goblin doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

Darkseid's intervention on Earth began in, of all places, the pages of Jimmy Olsen, when Kirby took over the title in the 1970's. It was part of Kirby's four-sided storyline of the Fourth World, featuring a pantheon of celestial beings who had brought their conflict to our backyard. From shadowy figure to fully realized despot, Darkseid would repaint the landscape of the DCU and provide the villain of villains, the final threat which Earth would always have to keep in the back of its mind.

Wonder Woman and Superman are two of his least favorite Earthlings, and there's significant history with other heroes as well. This is not to mention the ongoing feud with the peaceful counterpart to Apokolips, New Genesis, where his son, Orion, was raised and turned into a weapon against Apokolips. In fact, a treaty with new Genesis (mutually beneficial, lest the two planets destroy one another), is kept intact only if Darkseid never shows outward aggression toward Earth.

Darkseid, by the way, believes that portions and/ or all of the Anti-Life Equation exists within the human genome. And he's tried to harvest many times before.

Darkseid is infrequently hands-on, and prefers to allow his various minions, from Kanto the Assassin, to Granny Goodness, do his bidding. He also has a sychophant sidekick in the malicious DeSaad, who takes pleasure in pain (Darkseid is simply unmoved by suffering). When Darkseid finally does get involved, the earth tends to shake, walls crumble, etc...

In addition to the comics and Superfriends, Darkseid has appeared in the Superman and Justice League cartoons. Rumors also circle as to whether Lucas drew some of his inspiration for Darth Vader and the Death Star from Darkseid and Apokolips. That's a judgment call, but there are certainly similarities.

What Darkseid would actually do with the Anti-Life Equation is unknown. Unlike Mongul, his cheese-colored counterpart, Darkseid is not about suffering. He's far more about control, and would likely squeeze free will from every last being within his reach.

As a "god" (little "g"), Darkseid has time on his hands, and so he's as much a schemer and planner as anything. He plays games for power with beings like Eclipso and Brainiac, and thinks little of forming alliances with Earth heroes when the occasion calls for it (Our Worlds at War).

In short, he's a big, spooky dude. Who can also atomize you with the red Omega Beams which fire from his eyes. You can't distract him to save yourself, as he is single minded about the Anti-Life Equation. You can't offer him anything he doesn't have as ruler of a planet, but the knowledge of the Anti-Life Equation and what might lie beyond the Source Wall. While not containing the flawed nobility of a Magneto, Darkseid is almost difficult to label as twisted and bent like so many other heroes. Instead, he's a single-minded force of destruction, like a force of nature in the DCU.

In many ways, of all the villains in the DCU, none has carved out their own mythology to such a degree without relying on a co-dependent relationship with a superhero to define them. That's a respect the writers and artists seem willing to give Darkseid, recognizing the place in the DC pantheon which Kirby created for him. And I've always found that more fascinating than, say... Sportsmaster.

And, yes, Thanos is interesting, but he's sort of the poor man's Darkseid.

Hope that answers your question.

I'm going to spotlight a few more villains over the next few weeks. This has been kind of fun.