I’ll take “Potpourri” for $1000, Alex.
BRAVE AND THE BOLD DEPT:
“Cry Freedom Fighters!” Written by Thomas Pugsley
1. Batman votes in-costume. Also, the DC Universe gives constitutional rights to superhero fistfights.
2. All the classic Quality Comics characters get together in this one, as Plastic Man finds himself allied with Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters in a strange alien land battling the red menace– that is, the red-skinned, Communist-substitute menace of the Qwardians. Only by rallying the oppressed people of Qward with a misinformed, but tremendously rousing speech about liberty and patriotism can Plastic Man resurrect the fallen Uncle Sam and save the day. He even gets a commendation from Barack Obama. It’s terrifically well-done and a whole bunch of fun, held together by Tom Kenny’s turn as Plastic Man.
3. I’ve always thought Uncle Sam was a corny character, and here he remains that– but it works. Peter Renaday aces every patriotic pun, imbuing Uncle Sam with an indomitable charm that makes the character immensely likable.
4. Batman, transformed by the power of Uncle Sam into the Liberty Bat, mimics some famous action poses of Captain America– and even throws a mighty shield– in his climactic fight scene. Just because it’s not DC doesn’t mean the folks behind this show don’t love and respect it.
“The Knights of Tomorrow!” Written by Todd Casey and Jake Black
1. This episode takes place in a future where mustachioed Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have fathered Damian Wayne, who is less of a little bastard than his comic book counterpart, and therefore, less fun. When Bruce and Selina are crushed by rubble in a fight with Joker 2.0, Damian must take up the legacy and become Robin to Dick Grayson’s Batman. The moral of the story: don’t be your own man.
2. I did enjoy all the cameos at the end from the villains Grant Morrison has created for the Batman title. Professor Pyg shows up! For three seconds, but it counts.
3. The whole thing turns out to be a novel Alfred’s working on in the present day. It unnerves me that Alfred wiles away his free time writing Batman fanfiction in which his employer dies over and over again, and young boys are thrust into the dangerous world of vigilantism. Watch your ass, Bruce.
HUMAN TARGET DEPT: This show is back on the airwaves, and in a healthier time slot. Anyone still watching? It remains a solid B-actioner, like Burn Notice but with less Bruce Campbell. Much less.
ITEM! Sean Witzke and Matt Seneca team up to talk about Steranko!, the only man who demands an exclamation point:
I feel like for all the Steranko put-ons we see in modern comics, few have ever really engaged with that supercold, futurist feel his work has, the total alien disregard for story, the deliberate sacrifice of sensicality and plot dynamics for pictorially based experimentation. People only want to emulate those eminently quotable “things he did”, the silent pages, the sly lettering, the psychedelia. Steranko’s biggest (only?) precept was expand the page, and the modern comics we can see him in aren’t always doing that, they’re usually just copying the same old ‘60s motifs and innovations he brought to the form. That’s what I mean by saying that his influence is disappearing: we don’t have any Marshall Rogerses anymore, nobody (except maybe JH Williams) using his ideas and broader aesthetic goals, though no end of guys want to copy that one picture of “Hulk” he drew. Maybe comics have moved on. I don’t know. But there’s more to be gotten from Steranko, things that no one since has taken up.
ITEM! Colin Smith’s latest four part critical epic puts Morrison and Quitely’s All Star Superman up against Straczynski and Davis’ Superman: Earth One. It’s a veritable literary thunderdome. Two books enter. One book leaves (guess which one):
And we’re never shown Clark abandoning one group for another because he’s seeking a more kind and ethical life. There’s no moral learning going on during Clark’s time on-stage in “Earth-One” that might indicate that, for example, he’s grasped that it’s wrong to be abusing the game of football and putting its players at risk all in the name of his own personal glory and financial gain. Clark doesn’t give up football because he’s hurt somebody, or because he himself has been in some way wounded and forced to step towards maturity. He’s not been shown through experience or reflection that it’s meaningless to win acclaim at a game where every other player lacks super-powers. Instead, he simply moves on from one success to another earned solely through his own innate abilities. He’s driven by nothing more profound than a desire to have more fun, and he shifts around in search of a place that fulfills his desires rather than one which helps diminish anyone else’s suffering. In truth, he gets whatever he wants without having to frame his own existence in any moral terms because, well, he’s Superman, isn’t he?
ITEM! Nate Cosby derives the formula for effective solicitations and posits it as the straw that’s slowly crumpling the camel’s back.
ITEM! The Beat speaks with retailers on how and why Thor: The Mighty Avenger didn’t sell.
REMAKE/REMODEL was a popular one this week, with The Bat-Man, a steampunked hero of silent cinema. (The secret ingredient is mustaches.) Enjoy samples by Neil Struthers, Felipe Sobreiro, and Fernando Lucas:
Aaaand that’s all, folks. Light week.