Friday, December 19, 2014

Poem, "Apocalypse"

10        Dust blowing over the empty cities
10        Hard as stone the forest of withered trees
10        Mountains of chalk crumbling, the rocks slide free

12        A yellow sky with twisting clouds of poison, sick
12        Clouds that shimmer with the colors of an oil slick

4          The oceans grey
4          The soil ash
7          The breath of life has left them

6          The sun’s color changes
5          The star grows, explodes
5          A world is consumed

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Poem, "Most Issues"

13        Existence defined by toil in eras previous
13        Broken, scattered, lost, in an age of convenience

10        A fear of the tide of modernity,
10        Old traditions lost out to new reason

10        Fear of uncertainty, an undertow
10        To take them far from a familiar shore

10        Of the new, of knowledge they make a foe,
10        They denounce with cries of, "corrupting lore"

10        So many childish and pedantic
10        Gnashing teeth, the animals are cornered

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's make some Justice Leagues, part 8

(Continued from part 7)

            When it comes to superhero work there are many opportunities to interact with dangerous technology.  Shrink rays, robots, hacking computer terminals because people think that hacking involves a lot of fast typing rather than just looking up a person's facebook profile and using their personal information to brute force password possibilities in hopes that one of them sticks... I digress.
            The point is you need and want someone on the team who knows technology, not in the goofy weird science sort of way (Atom) and not in the vaguely believable sort of way (Batman), but it a very shiny tech kind of way.  Unfortunately there seems to be some sort of trend I have noticed in DC comics and I feel the need to point it out cause I find it to be a strange coincidence.

7) The Tech Savvy
            I do not know how this became a thing, but it is a thing.  Cyborg, Steel, and Mr. Terrific, three of the most prominent black characters in DC (mostly thru their involvement with the "Justice League Unlimited" and "Teen Titans" cartoons) are all very technology oriented, and all in very different ways.  They are not the only black characters, I have pointed out Jon Stewart and Icon in these blogs, but they are (to my knowledge) the 3 most prominent black characters in the current New 52 DC universe, and they are all based around very slick chrome technology that is actually a rather distinct appearance.
            I haven't seen any other superheroes with that sort of distinct look (maybe the Rocket Reds, Russian super cops who use power armor that looks deliberately cheesy, and while Adam Strange deals with alien technology, he's an archaeologist and is not tech savvy at all).  And when I went look for alternative characters to fill the more tech oriented roll for the group I only came across Hardware an obscure hero from the 90's publisher Milestone, invented by one of my favorite creators, Dwayne McDuffie... Hardware is a black man with a distinctly chrome technology appearance.  So this will be the first category I put in whose entire pool of candidates is African American... I guess that just stands out to me because all the prior categories I felt like I had to stretch a bit to not just have a bunch of white guys.
            The first candidate is Cyborg, or as he used to be known, Victor Stone.  Victor was harmed in an accident and his father used strange technology as a prosthesis to save Victor's life.  Cyborg is a genius in his own right who previously liked playing football, now he focuses on becoming the ultimate living machine and helping other heroes who use technology like his to become more powerful and effective.


            Steel, or John Henry Irons uses power armor.  Designed to emulate the powers of Superman so that he could follow in that heroic tradition after Superman had ostensibly been killed in the 90's (Superman was once dead, and that was considered a big deal) Steel is one of the most stalwart and heroic figures in comics, actually standing in contrast to Iron Man his closest counterpoint in Marvel.
            I also love him because of his involvement in my favorite "52" in which he fights off a plan by Lex Luthor to create an army of superheroes who suck at being superheroes and keep getting killed in action.  There is actually another Steel, John's niece, Natasha Irons who is a more headstrong and youthful character.  She is also a tech genius but more rash and impulsive, she tends to take on the mantel of Steel when John is too busy working on his company.

John Henry was a Steel driving man.
Unfortunately Nat has some notoriously bad power armor designs.  This is the best.

            Mr. Terrific, aka Michael Holt is a super genius who uses gadgets and his wealth to be more Batman than Batman.  His family died in a car accident and overcome with grief he nearly committed suicide before discovering and taking on the legacy of the original Mr. Terrific (a white guy with no gadgets).  He actually had his own title at the launch of the New 52 and it quickly tanked, but I still love the character because he was the thinker/leader of the Justice Society of America comic from the late 90's and early 2000's that I really got into.

He also got one of the worst costumes of the New 52.  Put him on the League for no other reason than he can get a new suit.

            Hardware I think should also be considered, though I do not think he should get the seat at the table, mostly because he has not appeared in a cartoon or other media for the last 20 years.  Curtis Metcalf was a child prodigy who grew up to use his fantastic intelligence and the backing of a business icon to fight against organized crime... Only to find out the person running organized crime was his financier.  While I do think that he is an interesting character, he does not have the presence to be on a Justice League, I would hope that they would give him his own series to try and grab some audience and if he proves to be well liked then have him join a team, but as of right now he is so obscure that even I had to look him up.

His costume is part of 90's comics commitment to pure insanity and his modern look is still rather silly.

            Mr. Terrific, Cyborg, and either Natasha or John would be great additions to a Justice League.  They are all are fun, interesting, and flawed in their own ways and are far more than their race, even though their inclusion in much of the work they appear in always itched me as a form of tokenism (for instance, in the early 2000's when Steel decided to leave the League, Plastic Man out-n-out states, "the one black guy can't quit", which bothered me then and it bothers me now even though it was a joke).  I would really like to include each of them because I like all of them and want them to continue to be cool characters beyond the demographic appeal.

(Continued in part 9)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let's make some Justice Leagues, part 7

(Continued from part 6)

            The Justice League also tends to showcase lesser known heroes with zany powers/premises because that strangeness adds many options to adventuring possibilities.  You want someone whose whole deal is to make people go, "Wait, they do what?"

 6) Goofy Mad "Science"
            This is where the Flash comes in for the typical team, Barry "CSI" Allen is the one in circulation currently (even though he died in 1985... Geoff Johns can't let anyone stay dead and keeps using fanboy necromancy to bring them back).  Barry is also the star of the current FlashTV show and is present for most of the sheer madness that the Flash is known for, like a time traveling treadmill.  He is a boring nice guy who is also boring, a strange combination, at least Wally West (the Flash that followed Barry) was not as smart but much funnier.

Gotta Go Fast.  Gotta Go Fast.  Gotta Go Faster.  Faster.  Faster.  Faster, Faster, Faster!
Wait, I am thinking of someone else.
            Flash is paired off with Vibe on the current Canadian Justice League.  And I have no trouble with Vibe taking the second slot.  Vibe started out in the 80's as an attempt to make the DC universe more diverse, he was mostly known for break dancing and talking in a hilariously racist accent.  The way they altered Vibe's persona and abilities is pretty cool, originally he could just create vibrations to cause earthquakes, now he vibrates in strange frequencies that lets him disrupt electrical equipment or attack, and rather than being a racial stereotype who is arrogant but not competent, instead he is a cool rookie character, eager to learn and proud to be a part of the team.  Geoff Johns took a stupid racial character that bordered on minstrel show and turned him into a cool guy with unique powers... one of the few wins I will give to the New-52 universe.

Baby I'm just gonna Shake, Shake, Shake... Shake it off!
No, wait, wrong person again.
            BUT, who is number 3?  There are some potential candidates easily filling the role of the Flash... or there would have been in the old DC, New 52 though... Not so much.  No Jesse Quick, no Wally West, and no Max Mercury.

            So now (as the inclusion of Vibe indicates) this role is more about having weird powers that are sort of super science-ish?  And maybe just emphasize how different they are.  Not all leagues will have their own guy with super speed to work with, but each will have a bit of a wild card, in this instance I think it should be The Atom, Ryan Choi.  His powers are about size changing.  Choi was killed unceremoniously in the old DC continuity, and undoing that was another big win for the New 52, being an Asian character that has nothing to do with kung fu already puts him into a unique position in the universe, and he is a legacy character (carrying on the role of Atom from Ray Palmer) in the New 52, legacy characters have become much rarer because they regressed the universe, so Ryan is set apart.

Particle Man.  Parti--  Wait, that song if definitely unrelated.
            Vibe is about vibrations, Flash is about speed, and Atom is about being really tiny.  They all have there own thing that fits into zany powers derived from mad "science".

(Continued in part 8)