Friday, July 24, 2009

Coal to Diamond, Marvel does good, Jake Lloyd, Facebook

Can Superman Make Diamonds from Coal?

Thanks to JimD who sent this along:

Legendary question-answer man, Cecil, takes on the old Superman trick of using Super-strength to squeeze coal with so much pressure, it becomes a diamond.

The Straight Dope

While its understandable why one would want to find ways to make diamonds to impress Annette O'Toole (the trick was employed in the Pryor-rich Superman III), this was also done in the comics in the Silver Age. But Superman also used to fly so fast he would travel through time, and regularly destroy landmarks (and super-rebuild them) just to mess with Lois's head. So, you know...

Marvel Does Some Geek Good

Well, this is blowing my mind. In the 1980's, there was a comic on the stands called, alternately, "Marvelman" and "Miracle Man". The character may have the most complicated publishing history in comics, and I highly recommend you read the Wikipedia entry, as its quite fascinating. A knock-off of Captain Marvel for England (as Captain marvel had been a knock-off of Superman from a Mid-Western publisher), the character became caught up in some pretty serious legal disputes in the late 1990's or so, and has been in limbo ever since. This has meant no reprints, and odd stabs from different creators who've claimed they owned bits and pieces of Marvelman to put out product.

Creators with names like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore have not just made their mark, but had ownership privileges, and its all led to Marvelman gaining a reputation as the best comic many comic readers haven't just never read, but which was impossible to obtain. To actually buy the back issues to read the series is prohibitively expensive.

Or was.

Apparently, Marvel just decided to cut checks to all involved and has purchased the rights to Marvelman.


This most likely means reprints and new material and a bunch of comic nerds in their early 30's and 20's who are now waiting for announcements about the reprints.

Well done, Marvel! I've only been waiting since about 1995 to read these stories.

Here's Jake Lloyd, the guy who played Anakin Skywalker in "The Phantom Menace"

He turned into a bitter nerd kid. Awesome.


By the way, if you aren't a fan yet on Facebook, I'm actually using the thing. There's a bit of what I'd call Bonus Content. Plus, you get comments, etc... from folks who are coming in by way of Facebook.

Anyhow, use that box over there on the left and join up! Facebook is free and mostly not-scary.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maintenance Thursday

Not-Attending Comic-Con (again)

I have a hard time envisioning a future in which I will ever get around to attending the San Diego Comic-Con. This year I sort of thought about it, but the tickets for the full-event sold out before I ever realized they were on sale. And forget about a hotel room...

It looks like folks are having fun out there. DC already had their Superman panel, which is always sort of odd, because the idea is to get people excited about upcoming Superman comics, but without giving away the store.

At least nobody is asking if "Superman is really Superman or Clark Kent" anymore. I think that's sort of been resolved. The answer: That's not been relevant in twenty years.

The League's own JackBart is out there at the Boom! Studios booth promoting his comic, "Poe", and reportedly already landed me a signed copy of Irredeemable and The Muppets.

Jack is signing copies of Poe for me when he gets back.

I guess I'd like to go at some point, just for the spectacle, to say I've had that fan experience, so-on-and-so-forth. But, jeez... that's a lot of money. Not just travel, hotel, etc... but the point of Comic-Con is to also find those items that might not make it to your local shop, discover new material, etc... In short: to spend dough.

It all seems a little counter-productive, in an odd way. Of course, my local comic shop is pretty darn well stocked, so, I'm spoiled. In a lot of ways, I should have done it when we lived in Phoenix and I could have just driven in for a day or two.

But then you also see that DC has, for reasons I care not to think about, approved this statue in their line of "Anime Inspired" takes on their characters, and debuted it at the Con.

Actually, the WW statue might almost be okay in a "300"-meets-Grrl-Power, but the rest of the line looks more like this (that'd be WW's teen counter-part, Wonder Girl, who actually does own pants. Not just underwear and chaps).

Given how long this line has survived, someone is buying it, which means there's going to be quite a bit of this stuff from a lot more folks than DC at the Con. And if it is you who is filling your Ikea shelving with this stuff, know that I am making fun of you. My house is littered with seemingly nerdy stuff, and even I think its ridiculous. Get a girlfriend.

I am sorry

Jamie, i am sorry about the sandwich thing. I just don't really like curry. It's nobody's fault.

Is it any wonder...?

...why I never get bored?

Google + DCU = The League approves

I am assuming that, in honor of the San Diego Comic-Con, Google's theme today has been a DC Comics-based theme.

from left: Batman, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, Robin, Green Lantern (and yet more Plastic Man)

They've also introduced several comics related themes for iGoogle. I have selected "Superman: New Krypton"

if you are surprised that I giddy, then you don't know me at all

Click here for comic themes!

thanks to: Doug, Randy and NTT for links!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good-Bye to McDonald's

So, today went oddly. Work just sort of blew up, but let's not dwell upon that. But let us agree that at the conclusion of the day's labors, I felt I deserved a break. Today.

Part of my day included the fact that I had not been able to get lunch, and so swung through a McDonald's on I-35 as I departed Waco around 4:00.

I don't get a lot of fast food, but I've had reason to hit Taco Bell of late, and I think I went to McDonald's about a month ago for some reason (I really can't guess why). Anyway, there's this new thing that fast food places are doing, that the voice one hears upon arriving at the drive-thru that welcomes you to the restaurant and offers you their current special (ie: "welcome to McDonald's, would you like to try our McDeathwhich today?"), is NOT the same person who then takes your order. But I strongly, strongly suspect that the day's offering/ promotion is pre-recorded, and there's now an odd layer of "what is happening here?" to the proceedings.

I don't know if there's some team action occuring, if its pre-recorded, if there's someone at McDonald's Central monitoring my order or what... but it's sort of freaky. And I decided today that the McDonald's coffees are sort of a travesty. Just FYI.

But did McDonald's really need to find a way to somehow de-personalize the experience at their restaurants even more? To just jettison the whole illusion of anyone working there giving a damn? That's a bold step, and I almost salute the cold efficiency of the move. Its just one more step before we all bow down before the Robo-Kaiser.

And, in case you were wondering, there is no sight sadder than watching your McLatte being made by a drive-through agent at a McDonald's. You realize how much this task is messing with their day. There's just no real passion in it when they add the three-inch high tower or Redi-Whip you didn't realize was going to adorn your coffee.

Alas, the day wasn't really complete until I was back in town.

As mentioned, I had been on the road, returning from that day-trip to Waco, and just before picking up my Wednesday haul at Ye Olde Comick Shoppe, I stopped at a McDonald's to, ahem, TCB (too much coffee) so as not to be distracted while looking at funny books.

I tell you, Leaguers... I'm a polite guy. When I stop at a gas station or McDonald's to use their facilities, I usually try to buy something so that I'm a paying customer. Even if I just bought a McCafe somewhere up the road. However...

No sooner had I entered the bathroom than I heard someone retching in the stall. For some reason, this McDonald's has a smaller door, so I could see the person standing over the toilet, at which point he hurled. Twice.

I stood there, time slowing to a crawl. I'm not a religious man, but I prayed in that moment:

Dear God, please... he's seen me in here. Please make this guy wash his hands and get cleaned up. I do not want to touch the doorhandle after this fellow.


The gentleman then proceeded to open the stall, walk briskly past me (without washing his hands), and wander out the door into the restaurant without washing hands, face, etc...

He was in his official McDonald's uniform.*

I stood there in slack-jawed shock for the better part of a minute.

Not sure of what else to do, The League completed his business, washed his hands, found a way to open the door with his shoe, jam hands in pockets and speed out of the store without touching anything. That was one Diet Coke not sold today, I guess.

And that, Leaguers, marks my final visit to McDonald's.


Sometimes we have to look at why a particular prayer goes unanswered, and in this case, I do not believe YHWH's actions were exactly mysterious.

Way to go, McDonald's. It wasn't the deadly food, crippling effect on the American Food Industry, plague of Childhood Obesity or seeming utter lack of respect for the item formerly known as the Hamburger that did it. It was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that one instruction you seemed to leave out of the employee handbook.

"Thou Shalt, Upon Vomiting Before a Customer, Make a Big Show of Cleaning Up, And NOT Returning To The Kitchen."

or something along those lines. At least that's how my employee handbook wold read.

Indeed, McDonald's, you finally broke me. Our love/hate, on-again/ off-again relationship is done. No tears. I'll be strong enough for both of us.

*To be completely truthful, I can neither confirm nor deny that Johnny Yak went back to work. But I strongly suspect he at least had been working.

So, Final Crisis: Legion of 3-Worlds #5




Ohhhh.... mercy!

Man. Geoff Johns. That was great. That's going to go down as one of my favorite comics/ uses of medium/ use of the DCU/ weird-good/ character returns/ whatever-the-hell-that-was in quite a while.

I heart you, DCU.

Bonus Comic Stuff:

Green Lantern and Tales of the Corps... both good reads this week.

I don't really get the faux-exasperated comments I've seen online about people can't believe that there's, basically, bad stuff happening that our heroes will have to problem-solve.

Getting bent out of shape about the budget-busting spin-offs? Sure. Accusations of Zombie-ism? Okay (maybe. I mean, its obvious, right?). And, yeah, there's some nasty, bad stuff... but they are inhuman-alien-space-fascists bent on the annihilation of living things. So... you know. I don't expect them to just rob banks or make giant robots to stomp through town.

So far so good on Blackest Night.

Anyhow, I'm thinking about how this project was managed, versus how other events have been handled, and it sort of hurts one's brain to ponder Countdown as a lead in to Final Crisis as event and how badly mismanaged that one was.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Small Post Tuesday

An Important Excursion, Part 2

Jamie took most of the pictures, so if you want to see the trip in some quick snapshots, here's the link to Jamie's write-up.

Poe Comic Out

I neglected to mention it, but the Poe comic, written by Austin's own J. Barton Mitchell was released last week. JackBart (that's what we J. Barton here at The League) has told me repeatedly that "the first issue is a little slow". So, while I didn't find it to be so, the author did.

If only someone could have fixed that! But WHO?

I kid of course. I think it's a "slow boil" sort of thing, so do with that what you will.

Anyhow, go to your local comic retailer (when in Austin, try Austin Books) and ask for it by name! Poe! (It's about Edgar Allen Poe, not pop rock sensation, "Poe". Just FYI.)

Here's a preview at CBR.

JackBart if off to San Diego to do signings at the Boom! Studio booth, where he has promised to get me a signed copy of Irredeemable from Mr. Waid. Which would be nifty.

Dune Report

I'm actually reading Dune and enjoying it. So I'm off to go read more of it. That and comics.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter and The Teenagers Making The League Uncomfortable

I keed, I keed.

But, there certainly was a lot of teen romance in that movie, wasn't there? And to see it played out by humans who, despite magical powers and soft lighting, slightly resemble actual teens versus what one sees on television was sort of... I dunno. It sort of made me not really feel like I should be there.

To put things in perspective, I saw inexplicable pop phenomena "Twilight" at Doug and Kristen's in Berkeley, and that movie downright made me sad. It's like wish-fulfillment-crack for adolescent girls. Something that I have learned, no woman in my immediate circle seems to truly be immune from at any age (reportedly, The Karebear has even read the entire series). That's a movie that I certainly knew wasn't just NOT aimed at me, but openly challenged me to stand up and tell 13 year old girls that when your paramour admits to wanting to kill, that shouldn't be a huge turn on. I'm just saying.

But, yes, Harry Potter was, indeed, a Harry Potter movie. And I confess that with this 6th installment, my frustration with the limited point of view of the Harry Potter universe increased exponentially. At some point, one begins to wonder "Where the hell are the adults in this, and why do they repeatedly lean on some kid over and over?" At some point, one gets over the formula Rowling painted herself into with focusing on Hogwarts, and wishes to see what the adults, who've already SEEN Voldemort on a rampage, are doing about his attempts at a return. The hints one gets make the supposedly powerful wizarding community seem like the worst sort of surrender monkeys. That, in fact, not a one of them deserves to be saved.

The biggest issue the 6th installment has is that its also a bridging chapter between what came before, and what's going to be the big sham-wow in the 7th book/ 7th and 8th movies. Like, say, Empire Strikes Back, this movie has no real denouement, but sets things up so that, one assumes, we're seeing Harry and Co. go on the offensive (which one suspects adults should be managing, but whatever).

Many of the cuter trappings of earlier films are gone in this installment. No more endless-flavor jellybeans. No more talking paintings or moving staircases. We're much more down to brass tacks. But still find time for the required allowance of Quidditch and completely believable distraction of who is "snogging" with whom and "Butter Beer".

It's not necessarily a bad movie. The acting is very good from most of the young cast. Its beautifully shot, has nifty FX and the pacing is mostly good, considering there's no overarching plot that isn't dragged in from a prior movie. And, in fact, one suspects the movie's structure is entirely necessary, but something about the whole thing just felt oddly perfunctory. One is left with questions that don't need to be left, such as "now, what... Half-Blood Prince... what?" And "now... why weren't Malfoy and Harry both bounced out of school after their altercation?" It can be a bit maddening, and I can only guess what wound up on the cutting room floor to keep the running time at 2.5 hours. But without that information...

I guess at installment 6, I sort of was hoping for a bit more. Such as "The Half-Blood Prince" to mean a damn thing in the context of the film.

On the other hand, it was light-years less creepy and dumb than "Twilight". Which has a sequel coming soon, whose trailer was met with howls of laughter in our theater.

Pop Music

Tip o' the hat to Jason C. on this one.

Just a reminder: No matter how rockin' you want to be, it's all @#$%ing Pop Music.

Also here, for those on facebook.

Moonlanding - 40th Anniversary

Firstly, its mind-boggling to me that the moon-landing has become a pet conspiracy of people who cannot fathom achievement. Your belief that "we didn't have the technology in the 1960's" does not, in fact, make it so. NASA sent brave men into space, just as they do today. We might as well have said the same about any explorer who ever stepped out of your personal view.

Secondly, far be it from me to wish for another Cold War, but I cannot imagine an America today in which our citizenry has the will or which would be willing to fund the effort it took to get us to the moon. Not when we firmly believe that every tax dollar spent is wasted if its not spent on us, somehow.

That said, I am of a belief that we'd be better off leaving Earth's orbit for altruistic, and/ or scientific purposes, and not for corporate or commercial purposes. Though I suspect the minute that someone figures out how to exploit the rings of Saturn to build a sharper television, that will be what gets us past the moon and out into the rest of the Solar System. Maybe Bradbury's Martian Chronicles (aka: "The Silver Locusts") had too much of an effect upon me as a youth, and maybe I've had The Prime Directive beat into my head entirely too much over the years, but until our imagination reaches beyond exploitation, I'm not sure we're ready as a species to break free from El Sol's pull and join whatever else is out there, moving between stars.

That said, its the spirit of competition which saw Apollo 8 ring around the Moon, and Apollo 11 touchdown on cosmic dust. I'd like to see that exploratory spirit, free of commercial enterprise, guiding us outward, so that when we can look back at our blue marble, we appreciate what we've got here all the more.

Today, The League salutes not just Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong, but the entire flight crew of Apollo 11, and the armies of nameless engineers, scientists, ground crew, and everyone who made Apollo 11 possible. We've had a unique opportunity as a generation born after Apollo 11, to grow up believing, utterly and completely, that with imagination, determination, intellect and will, humanity has no limitations. And I dream of seeing that again in my lifetime.

And, dammit, if its isn't a little sad Cronkite died so very close to the anniversary of the day he guided us through.

Whip It Trailer Now Online

Hey, here's a trailer for Shauna C.'s flick, "Whip It"

Thanks to, I think, Jeff Shoemaker, for sending me the link

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The League Returns From An Important Excursion (Part 1)


I think Jamie is planning to do a post summing up the trip to The Bay Area/ aka: San Francisco/ Berkeley/ Oakland. I can say that we had a phenomenal time with Doug and Kristen, saw some sights, ate some foods, and generally packed a lot of good times into a very few days.

Jamie is the princess of Berkeley

Ten highlights:

1) Samurai exhibit at Asian culture museum near San Francisco City Hall.
2) Hanging off a trolley and enjoying industrial-age mass transit
3) A too-brief trip to Oakland's farmer's market
4) Finally seeing the 'tween movie sensation "Twilight", with Rifftrax and lots of wine
5) Thai food and "Krazy Thai Koffee" (the secret ingredient is love. And vodka.)
6) Comic Relief in Berkeley
7) King Tut exhibit
8) Mr. Mopps toystore
9) Taking the 1.75 hours you have to kill and getting to meet comic scribe Geoff Johns, one of my three or four favorite comic writers (I have no ranking systems) at Isotope comics
10) Reasonable temperatures

Leaguers may know that when we have an opportunity, The League likes to see comic shops in other towns. Sure, we'll always return to Austin Books, but its also a lot of fun to see what other shops are up to. Berkeley's Comic Relief is known a bit outside of the Bay Area, and Isotope has a great reputation out there in the world.

And, apparently, its a reputation richly reserved. Isotope may not have the square footage of Austin Books, but its a beautiful shop, and the staff was certainly in top form for the Geoff Johns visit. Owner James Sime is a bit of a comic celebrity, a rarity for a retailer, but he's managed a column/ blog or two in his time and made a name with customer service and high profile signings. Isotope has also received a lot of credit for its welcoming interior, which features some dangerously comfortable furniture.

We had tried to get in to see items from King Tut's tomb (but not the sarcophagus itself), around 12:30, but tickets were sold out until 5:30. We bought tickets, toured some terrific galleries at the De Young museum, and while eating hotdogs in the park, pondered our next move.

I had known Geoff Johns was at Isotope, but did not wish to, Sinestro-like, impose my will upon everyone else, and so didn't push on the subject, but we DID have a few hours in there, so...

We arrived just ahead of time, and I lurked a bit, eventually winding up in line with some really nice folks, just 8th in a line that went to the door. The guy in front of me had library-bound his entire Flash run (I had heard of this practice, but never seen it), and the as most folks in line were NOT from out of town, had brought significant items to have signed.

Johns took as much time with each fanboy as they wanted and was happy to chat.

Leaguers, I wish it were not the case, but when faced with Johns, I totally froze. It's not that surprising. I did the same when I met Tina Weymouth and Captain America at Universal Studios, Florida. Johns was gracious and was willing to talk less about Blackest Night and more about Legion and Superman, but I blanked in asking about Adventure Comics and a thousand other things I would have happily asked him about had I not totally clammed up. I did get out a question or two about the upcoming "Secret Origin" series.

I had mentioned, while in line, that I was from Austin. While Johns was signing my purchases, James suddenly presented me with a copy of the Blackest Night #1 variant cover edition for Johns to sign. For free.

That, non-comic nerds, is about the awesomest fanboy moment you're likely to have, short of Green Lantern himself showing up and recruiting you for the Corps.

I did plug Austin Books to Johns, and implored him to come to Austin. I know we'd treat the guy right. And I didn't throw up, which is something entirely likely to happen when I get that excited.

Anyway, thanks to Jamie and Doug for schlepping all the way across the city with me to Isotope. Thanks to Kristen for picking us up. And thanks to Isotope, James and Johns for adding a classic fanboy moment to what was already an outstanding trip.