Los Angeles pays tribute to Adam West in the best possible way.

Adam West sadly died recently. His Batman is for me, the only Batman as he wasn’t a psychopath like Michael Keaton’s, or a sociopath like Christian Bale, or a murdering lunatic like Ben Affleck’s. No, West was good, cheerful, honest and decent and although his Batman looks archaic it is still Batman.

So the people of Los Angeles marked West’s death in the best, and most glorious, way possible. Have a look..

 

What I thought of The Flash #22

It all ends and begins here! The DC Rebirth/Watchmen clustefuck hits a new level as the four-part ”The Button” storyline comes to a close with a cover featuring Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash promising the return of everything the New 52 cleaned out, but before we get there there’s a bit of matey banter between The Flash and Reverse-Flash, not to mention some prime product placement.

During all this Barry Allen mentions Hypertime, the Grant Morrison/Mark Waid idea that DC dabbled with in the 90’s to try to explain all the inconsistencies of their superhero universe.

Eventually the Reverse-Flash encounters the mysterious figure behind all of this (It’s Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen which we know anyhow), gets horribly killed and the Flash and Batman end up adrift in time and space heading towards an unknown voice.

That’ll be the Golden Age Flash.

However Barry and Bruce have no idea who Jay is because of that evil Dr. Manhattan chap and his big blue willy.

After Jay vanishes back into the ether, Barry and Bruce wrap things up while leaving things dangling, and talking about dangling, here comes Dr. Manhattan.

Which leads to the issue plugging November’s Doomsday Clock in which Superman and Dr. Manhattan will punch each other and ensure, once and for all, that nobody working at DC from Dan Didio to Geoff Johns actually read and understood Watchmen. As a roll of the creative dice this is a massive blank, but in terms of sales (and I speak now as someone diving back into the world of comics retail) this will sell books. They won’t be very good books but such is the power of Watchmen that it’ll propel DC along for a few years and then the novelty will have worn off.

See, Watchmen will continue to sell. It’s a classic book. Every time I read it I find something new in it. You will never, ever say that with Doomsday Clock. But hey, it’ll sell and in 2020 when this has all died down DC will try to work out what to do next and realise they’ve nothing left in their tank and creatively, they’ve worn out the bottom of the barrel but certain people will have kept their jobs which ultimately is what all this has been about…

What I thought of Batman #22

The saga of DC incorporating Watchmen into the mainstream DC Universe continues with Batman #22 which follows the last issue of The Flash.

The Flash and Batman are stuck in the Flashpoint universe, which shouldn’t exist but it does mean Bruce Wayne can have a conversation with his father, Thomas Wayne who happens to be the Batman of the Flashpoint universe. Confused? Of course you are. I don’t even think DC know exactly what’s going on.

Essentially this issue is about Bruce and his father talking while all of Thomas’s enemies mass to end his life. Of course they have The Flash with them who could fight all of them at once but he’s busy rebuilding the Cosmic Treadmill.

As the army of Amazons descend upon the Batcave, there’s a fight (of course) and eventually The Flash repairs the Cosmic Treadmill but not before Thomas and Bruce share a tender moment.

However the Flashpoint universe is collapsing.

As Barry and Bruce enter into the timestream they end up entering it before the Reverse-Flash was killed so they meet him holding his Watchmen badge.

Thawne is running to his doom though he says he knows who is behind this all. As for the issue it’s a bit of a mess as regular writer Tom King has Joshua Williamson help with the plot, and with Williamson dealing with the script too the entire thing feels like an undercooked stew.

Still, next issue of The Flash sees this story come to a close as DC ramps up the integration of Watchmen so that Comedian versus Batman series some fans have been drooling about is nearly here..

What I thought of Batman #21

The ongoing car-crash that is DC’s Rebirth (DC’s attempt to integrate Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen into the mainstream DC Universe and blame it for everything ‘dark’) continues with Batman #21, a comic that makes the Watchmen link very, very obvious from the off.

That’s Saturn Girl of the Legion of Superheroes who has been locked up in Arkham Asylum since the Rebirth reboot started.She’s a telepath from the future so has knowledge of the 21st century and can read minds, so she knows (we think) what’s coming. As for the reader what’s coming is a bloody unsubtle reminder of what DC are doing with Watchmen.

Yeah, that isn’t subtle. Neither are the pages on 9-panel grids as Batman watches the same hockey game Saturn Girl was, which also adds as a meta-commentary on the nature and voyeurism of violence in comics. Of course Watchmen had very little violence in it, though what their was was either repulsive or there to make a point about the nature of violence in comics was never reflective of the nature of violence in reality. Here the point seems to be muddled, not to mention blaming Watchmen for the violence in comics after its publication.

A brush with the Psycho Pirate’s mask sees Bruce Wayne encounter his father, the Batman of Flashpoint.

Bringing the Flashpoint Batman back for a glimpse reminds us of The New 52,one of  DC’s previous attempt to reboot its universe in a ‘gritty’ way. it’s also blamed for generally poor sales and the company struggling before leading to Rebirth last year.Anyhow, after contacting The Flash, Batman ends up in a fight with the Reverse-Flash as it’s hinted that a ‘power’ (Dr. Manhattan?) brought him back from the dead.

So we get a few pages of Thawne beating up Batman (MORE VIOLENCE!!) before Thawne finally wins thanks to The Flash being late. Picking up the Comedian’s badge does this to Thawne…

That does look like a Dr. Manhattan style ”BZZT’ there. Unfortunately for Thawne he comes back a tad worse for wear.

The story picks up in The Flash #21 due out next week but it’s clear DC are pushing on with the integration of Moore and Gibbons work into the DC Universe even if its clear they don’t seem to really have got or understood Watchmen, or what Moore and Giibbons were doing with their work. I don’t blame writer Tom King as he actually does a pretty good job in working with a shitty stick to create a pretty reasonable superhero tale, but the entire idea seems seedy.

I don’t think the higher-ups of DC get how integrating Watchmen changes the meaning of it, but they are counting the praise for that work rubs off on titles like this. It’s a bit like the Fearless Girl statue in New York and the controversy around that. This is just simply another example of late capitalism of course, but as a sales tactic it’ll work as already on Ebay issues of Batman #21 are being advertised at stupidly high prices.

So I’ll take a hit for the team and carry on to the next part in The Flash to see what happens next…

Batman Day is consumerism repackaged as celebration

batman241Today is something called ”Batman Day”. Which is described on the website of DC Comics as

The annual celebration of the Dark Knight is back when Batman Day hits on September 17th! Join in on the fun with Batman Day events around the country and internationally, great discount deals and more! Check out this page for more details, as well as essential Batman graphic novels and news about Gotham City’s favorite hero.

HEY!! ENJOY BATMAN BY SPENDING MONEY! LOTS OF YOUR LOVELY MONEY! LOOK! BATMAN! is essentially the blatantly consumerist message being vomited forth from DC Comics.

It is essentially this:

I’ve nothing against the love of a character, but I’m willing to bet DC won’t be promoting a Blue Beetle day at any point in the future, or indeed, any character that isn’t universally recognised like Batman is. Which leaves us with a grubby marketing grab designed to part people’s money from their wallets for the benefit of DC and their parent company Warner Brothers, because multinational corporations that earn billions want to earn more so their executives can buy the most expensive cocaine and prostitutes money can buy.

Alan Moore is retiring from comics and fanboys are angry

Alan Moore is retiring from comics. Well, not quite, he’s still got work to come out and things he’d like to do so at some point he’ll run out of comics to do and move onto the other mediums he’s working in these days. Of course there’s a headline to be made from lazy editors though I supposed it helps publicise his forthcoming book Jerusalem. There’s even a nice New York Times interview which is quite amazing that any writer of comics is famous or important enough to grab such a thing.

Yet for some people, mainly corporate superhero fans, are angry. They’re angry at Moore. They’re glad to see him gone.

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That’s mild to some of the stuff out there in the wilds of the internet on forums and social media fans are using this to yet again wheel out the tired cliches of Moore as a ‘crazy old man’, or as someone ‘who hates comics’ and on and on.

Of course the funny thing is Moore will never see these comments, he doesn’t use the internet, and of course there’s nothing wrong with being critical, but this is yet another case of people getting annoyed because Moore’s used an interview to have a pop at corporate superheroes like Batman, and Batman fans can be thin skinned it seems. Fans of corporations have even thinner skin, because we’re in 2016 and people are just as likely to cheer on companies like Warners or Disney and turn a blind eye to their dreadful records on creator rights if it means they keep supplying them with their fixes every month.

It says much that someone who hasn’t played with the big corporate superheroes in over 25 years still causes so much anger with people who in some cases weren’t even born when he last wrote a Batman or Superman story. It’s a shame as if many of them actually listened they’d realise Moore’s making a good point in regards a lack of originality (and I’m not buying the ‘modern myth’ line) in an industry often bereft of originality or talent. Pay and treat creators right and they’ll do better work for you.  That isn’t a shocking or horrible thing to say yet for some it seems it is.

So if this time Moore’s serious in that he’s done and hasn’t anything to say in comics anymore, fair play to him. He’s going to leave an amazing body of work people can go back to, but we still await the Next Alan Moore, the next writer to transcend mainstream comics in the way Moore did.

The horror of Aurora model kits

A few weeks back when attending the Bristol Comics Expo, myself and a couple of friends were talking about the old Aurora monster model kits of the 1960’s and 1970’s being a bunch of old bastards.I though this would be a brilliant thing to blog about, especially as there was some controversy over some of the kits being marketed to poor wee kids like me.

Then a few days later the website Mental Floss went and published this, which was roughly what I was going to write myself.  Bastards.

So a change of approach was needed, but first a quick potted history of the Aurora monster model kit for those of you unable to click on the link in the first paragraph.Aurora started making monster kits in 1961 with the Karloff Frankenstein Monster kit being their first, and indeed, when I was a wee child in the 70’s it was my first kit too.

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They then went to release 13 kits in total, including my favourites, Godzilla, the Creature From the Black Lagoon and the Forgotten Prisoner.

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They then diverged into other horror related kits as well as science fiction and comics related kits. I had the Batman one and the Superboy one.

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I loved Krypto, Superboy’s dog, squaring up to the alien dragon thing he and Superboy were posing in front of.

Anyhow, in 1975 Aurora released another wave of movie monsters, and a few years later they died off as kids looked to finding out what to do with girls, and have fun with these new fangled video games things which really would never catch on…

It then dawned on me there’s no point retelling the story of the naughty, almost pervy kits, as anyhow, that’d been done by those mind-reading wankers at Mental Floss, so if you haven’t noticed so far I’m telling the story of what these kits meant to me, not to mention the thousands of mainly men now encroaching upon middle age wishing they still had them instead of losing, selling, breaking them over the decades.

As I’ve said, the first one I had is that lovely Frankenstein Monster kit, it is a thing of beauty, but that set me off as a child I was mental on the old Universal Monsters even though at this point I hadn’t  seen the 1930’s film until the BBC frequent summer horror film double bill seasons broadcast them, however it was seeing the Aurora ads in DC Comics of the early 1970’s that got me, a wee DC fanboy, hooked.

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In the early 1970’s the monster kits were easy to find in Glasgow where I grew up. I even used to buy two with my meagre pocket money, one to make up with the glow-in-the-dark parts, and one without. Unfortunately the superhero kits were a nightmare, but a wee stall in the Barras sold some of them.  I managed to pick up the Superboy and Batman, but couldn’t get the rest, though the same stall did sell loads of old Mego dolls which led me to having a full set of their DC, Marvel and Star Trek dolls but that’s another blog for another time.

What was an issue was getting the naughtier kits like Vampirella who my parents decided was a bit much for me at an age where pubic hair was still something to look forward to. The idea was to build up all this wave of kit into a playscene you could swap around to your demented wee hearts delight.

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Someone thought that kids would love these gruesome scenes of torture and of course they were entirely right. This was the heroin of the Aurora model kit to the movie monsters crack for kids because once you started collecting these kits you couldn’t stop, they were immensely addictive. They may not be safe or sanitised, but to be honest, there was their joy.

Then you grow up.

You put these kits away in cupboards, or they get broken or when you move they’re left behind but it isn’t til later that you realise that they were essential, if pervy in some cases, parts of your childhood. That’s not to say that when I was older I didn’t try to get them back, especially when after leaving Glasgow and on a trip back in 1994 I was taking my then girlfriend round a tour of where I was brought up and I saw a shop on Maryhill Road had loads of these kits in their window. Sadly I didn’t have the case, or the space to return with a load, plus a confused looking girlfriend wanting a bevvy back in the West End took priority.

Ah well.

The kits today go for eye-watering sums of money, and the pictures I’ve used in this blog are liberally nicked from the internet as my own kits probably sit near the bottom of a landfill site somewhere in the country, but these kits were a wonderful bit of growing up for me. Brilliantly designed, wonderful looking and fun to make not to mention collect. There’s not an awful lot I’d have back from my childhood given a chance, but I’d have these, plus should I ever win the lottery I’d make a lot of sellers on E-Bay have an amazing day.

And the moral is that even if a major site like Mental Floss rips your idea off days after you’ve thought it up, there’s always another angle to tell a wee story of your own…