Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Action Comics #530 (April, 1982)

Ray Palmer had some vacation time coming, so he and wife Jean set sail for CuraƧao. Not on a luxury liner, but a small sailboat... which would circle the same area for three days... because Ray hadn't mentioned that he'd volunteered to Green Lantern that he'd watch out for the anticipated return of Aquaman via teleportation from an alien world. Even though Ray explained beforehand that "this trip would combine a bit of 'Atom' business and lots of pleasure," Jean was understandably miffed. After all, Jean was the one in a tube top expecting exotic locales, while Ray seemed contentedly set on some Captain & Tennille roleplay.

A purple beam landing in the water signaled Ray to dive in fully clothed. Ray even commented on the salt water doing a number on his eyes and his powers being useless under the circumstances, as if none of this was foreseeable. When Ray finally found Aquaman, he was comatose dead weight. Ray came up with the idea of shrinking and growing rapidly and repeatedly to displace the water around Aquaman, pushing him to the surface. I'm not sure that's how physics work, but anyway, it got the Sea King to the surface in this comic book. You know, the surface where Aquaman dies after an hour, because breathing underwater is normal for him? Why not just check his pulse and let him float on, or use his JLA communicator to call in someone better geared to help than a lawyer and a physicist? Because the only other person sharing a rotating back-up feature in Action Comics was Air Wave, and who needs that?

Ray and Jean somehow got Aquaman on the boat, where he regained consciousness and started talking about vibrus-blasts and getting energized. Wait a minute-- wasn't Aquaman separated at this point? Was this that "pleasure" Ray was talking about? Sadly no, as the Atom made a joke about Aquaman suing the alien that had caused him injury, and Jean popped him with her finger. Perhaps recognizing that the '70s were indeed over, or having a nose for cold fish, Aquaman bailed overboard. Ray was left to have "fun, fun, fun" with Jean. Yeah, just keep telling yourself that, pal.

"Home ... Home on the Waves!" was by Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Frank Chiaramonte. This comic was a fine example of the inclusiveness of Bronze Age DC Comics. The whitest of people taking spontaneous South American vacations in their sailboats while their even whiter friend teams up with octopus aliens to fight spider aliens on a lark. No wonder you couldn't give these things away...

The Bronze Age

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Breach #6 (August, 2005)

Tobias Underwood excitedly worked on his book, the culmination of all his years working with the cigarette smoking woman. "And having met your-- your-- friends-- makes finishing the book even more paramount. If only... so many people didn't have to die."

"Operating under the Extra-Dimensional Entity Contact Protocol," Captain Yoshiba had a suited up strike force inspecting a waterfall at the urging of Major Timothy Zanetti. Tim levitated in a fugue state, until his serotonin production spiked and he saw a vision projected by the Herdsman of the entire patrol massacred in a most brutal fashion. Captain Yoshiba was already irritated enough with Tim to ask Dr. Campbell Chambers "Isn't there some pill we can give him to handle these mood swings?" He was outright furious when Zanetti lied about being mistaken with regard to his claim of having sensed breach entities in the area. The troop bugged out back to base, while the Herdsman looked on from his hidey-hole. "Ahh! He heard my thought-call. And saw my thoughts with clarity and precision. Truly, he is a most mighty kinsman. Soon, the next test begins... and if he survives, oh, what a wondrous thing that will be! Do you not agree, brother Sebastion?" A hiss was the only reply.

Captain Yoshiba was still seething back at base, calling into question Zanetti's credibility, usefulness, and sanity. Dr. Campbell Chambers had questions of her own, which kept her up in bed past three in the morning. While her husband Paul slept, Campbell dressed and paid Zanetti a visit. "The Herdsman was there. At the falls... wasn't he?" Tim confessed to his vision of the massacre. "I saw that-- in my head-- in glorious living color. He made me see it. It doesn't leave much hope for the Meyers Family... not that there was much to begin with, I guess." Campbell thought the JLA should have listened to Tim.

At the Meyers home, reporter Clark Kent got information out of a loose lipped plainclothes officer watching over the active crime scene. Kent scanned the area with X-Ray Vision, and connected this tragedy with Zanetti's words of warning during their scuffle in South Africa. "Yeah. I think this is a very big story."

Tim continued to discuss his vision with Campbell. "What I saw and felt was-- horrific. He's-- it's got a hatred and joy in killing that was overwhelming... Funny, in a way I'm glad. Now I know clearly what I'm up against. No more vague feelings or intuitions." No one else could stop the Herdsman, and Tim couldn't try to do it without setting off every alarm in the complex. "That's where you come in, Doctor."

At the McClellan home, Helen asked Mac about the metahuman who saved Tate's life. She wanted to thank him personally, and hoped her husband could arrange it. Helen saw the fatigue that had plagued Mac for weeks, but he fobbed it off on congress scrutinizing military expenditures. "I swear, sometimes they make the military feel like the enemy." Mac promised to see what he could do. Once Helen was off, he pulled a revolver out of his desk drawer. The cigarette smoking woman asked, "Now, now, General-- is that any way to greet an old friend?"

Tobias Underwood relaxed at his secluded home, looking over his printed work. The Herdsman snuck up on him. "Come, weak thing. You have been summoned. It is time for you to be reunited with comrades you've not seen... in a very long time."

Dr. Chambers set the sensors on an internal diagnostic cycle to give Tim a thirty second head start, then he knocked her out to make it look like an escape. "I'm trying to hold onto my memories... as long as I can... but I'm a soldier with a job to do. Even if I'm technically disobeying orders." Tim opened a wormhole to the Herdsman...

Mac asked the cigarette smoking woman why she had involved his stepson with Zanetti, and she replied that it was a test of Tim's metamorphic memory loss. She offered Mac a cigarette, and he refused, having quit years earlier. "How current of you! I hold on to my old habits, even the unhealthy ones. I find the consistency somewhat soothing." She explained that humanity was about to be snuffed out like a bad habit. "The bargain is broken, General. The Rifters will have their revenge. The war has begun." Mac threatened her again, with his gun and his world's ability to defend itself. She retorted that Mac never had much faith in the "Zanetti option," which was well considered. Events had progressed rapidly since Tim's awakening. "When your friend was offered up in the name of global survival-- you handed the Rifters their greatest opportunity. His destiny is theirs, General. Their beacon of hope. Their ultimate weapon of vengeance. They want you to know that."

Tim's self-perception was that of a Picasso painting as he fell through a formless white void into the home office of General Mac McClellan. Also present was Professor Ward from Project Otherside, though Tobias Underwood claimed no knowledge of his former identity. The Herdsman had brought Tim to meet more of his kin, including Sebastian, who ripped through Zanetti's head with his claws.

"Threads" was by Bob Harras, Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez. This issue is probably where the series should have been a couple or three issues back. Sales figures must have come in, and the verdict seemed to be that a mini-series pacing would better reflect the book's longevity. A lot of disparate players and plotlines were suddenly and somewhat arbitrarily coming together, although still welcome after the creeping in the first half of the run.

Brave New World

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Breach Movie Fan Casting: Dave Franco as Major Tim Zanetti

Keeping up with a theme of casting famous movie stars' younger brothers in POTA-related roles, here's Dave Franco. Breach isn't remotely a major character, and I've only liked reading his series okay so far. I have to admit that I didn't exactly rack my brains for weeks over this one. Still, I had a few actors and qualities in mind when it came to the role. Tim Zanetti is supposed to be this really laid back, good natured guy. Its only after becoming infected Otherside that he becomes an erratic rageaholic. After the breach, Tim spends a lot of time being duped, caged up, bossed around, and treated like a lunatic. This meant he needed an actor who could be sweet, then vulnerable, then go nuts in a believable way. Dave Franco has many of the right qualities, and while I haven't seen a lot of his work, it's Breach. What do you want? Dude's got a good build, amazing eyebrows, and should be fine with even half of brother James' acting range.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me go choose between Frank Stallone, Don Swayze, and Ben Savage for the part of Captain Atom...

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Top 20 Atom Covers of the 1960s

This was easily one of the toughest decade countdowns I've done, because how do you choose between three dozen Gil Kane covers, a half dozen Joe Kuberts, and that's just on his main title. This was the Tiny Titan's greatest decade, so I hope you enjoy the eye candy!

Honorary Mentions:
The Atom #1 (June-July, 1962)
The Brave and The Bold #53 (May, 1964)
The Atom #24 (April-May, 1966)
The Atom #35 (February-March, 1968)

20) The Atom #34 (January, 1968)

Outstanding image to look at, but that perspective is wretched if you think about it, and who fires a gun at their own palm?

19) The Atom #17 (March, 1965)

They came up with some pretty creative perils for the Mighty Mite, but probably too many for his own good. It's tough to get excited about a hero vs. Goodyear match-up.

18) Justice League of America #69 (February, 1969)

How low have you sank when a fellow hero at the approximate size and location of your penis is condemning you with a thumb's down? No wonder Ollie developed a complex.

17) The Atom #18 (May, 1965)

The hero leaps out of the safe to bludgeon the bad guy! It's novel, see. Because he's small. And the hood has a domino mask, so you know he's not just some random schmuck. Right?

16) The Atom and Hawkman #45 (October-November, 1969)

This one loses points because Ray's at normal scale and Jean wasn't yet his ex-wife. Fool actually married her after this.

15) Justice League of America #15 (November, 1962)

Probably the first "shrinking hero fired on an arrowhead" cover, but not the best, I'm afraid.

14) The Atom and Hawkman #39 (October-November, 1968)

It isn't bad enough to be riding the bobcat that's attacking his crime-fighting partner-- Ray's got to clock him in the puss with a stone eagle ornament besides! Never stop being a SONOFABITCH, Ray!

13) Showcase #34 (October, 1961)

Sometimes, you've just got to play it safe and go with the classic. A debut appearance under Gil Kane's pen never hurts, but aside from the pop bottle and grass, where does size come into play. Little + little = the same, and in fact the proportions on the villain are kind of outta whack.

12) The Atom #31 (July, 1967)

Not as cool as a bow shaft, but much better drawn, plus Hawkman looks a little sissified in his slingshot stance. Shouldn't he have a David-style strap-sling instead?

11) Justice League of America #14 (September, 1962)

"The Menace Of The Atom Bomb!" The Tiny Titan's induction into the JLA, but first he'll bowl them over like pins!

10) The Atom #32 (September, 1967)

When a hero has an established m.o., it's always fun to flip to the opposite extreme, especially when it's this well rendered.

9) The Brave and The Bold #77 (May, 1968)

No matter how much you love the Atom, you still kind of want to see what happens when that cannon fires. Will his little appendages still dangle off the sides, do you think?

8) Showcase #36 (February, 1962)

I only did a top ten Aquaman cover list for the 1960s, because I only had the stomach to see him play the dude in distress so many times. The Atom is more of a natural in that type of role, and he likely played it as often, but he always seemed to have more fight in him.

7) The Atom #29 (February-March, 1967)

The first of two fantastic Golden Age Atom beat down team-ups on this list. Talk as much trash as you want about the Thinker, but using one hero's body to bludgeon another's is hard core.

6) The Atom and Hawkman #40 (January, 1969)

Gil Kane was bound to dominate this list, but if you need a runner-up legend, Joe Kubert's probably your man. The Winged Wonder may be the star of this piece, and the weight of the left hand is surely lighter than the right, but the Atom helps make this a powerfully affective image.

5) The Atom #36 (May, 1968)

Six inches of Ray Palmer is more man than six five feet of Al Pratt! How powerful is that punch when it knocks a guy clear through the friggin' comic?

4) The Atom #10 (January, 1964)

One mark of a great cover is when only the titular hero could carry the concept, and that's entirely the case here.

3) Showcase #35 (December, 1961)

A boy firing a super-hero from his slingshot into a hail of fire. Once again, if you're going to do a miniature hero, this is the way. Even under the circumstances, check Ray's regal bearing. That's what separates the Tiny Titans from the Ant-Men.

2) The Atom #28 (January, 1967)

Probably the most imitated Atom cover. Chronos laughing maniacally as a saw bears down on our hero is the sort of greatness only comics can deliver effectively. There's even go-go checks and a corner box icon!

1) The Atom #20 (August/September, 1965)

The tie pin pimp slap! I love this! The acrobatics of a Daredevil, but on a scale only a Mighty Mite could manage. This was a tough decision and likely bucks convention, but this image to me sums up much of the appeal of the character. He's too small to catch or shoot, but agile and tough enough to take on men ten times his size. The spirit of adventure and daring-do is here, without any crap size-specific menaces like a house cat or wild bird.

Top Character Covers Countdown

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Atomic acCount for November, 2011

Cover #17 by DOUG MAHNKE
#17 On sale NOVEMBER 16
#18 On sale NOVEMBER 30
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Hal Jordan is seriously conflicted as he and the Green Lantern Corps arrive at Korugar to “contain” the war between Sinestro’s Yellow Lanterns and Brainiac – but can they save the planet of innocents caught in the crossfire? And how desperate could things possibly get that would see Hal team up with Sinestro for one final battle?!
Then, in issue #18, following the cataclysmic events on Earth and Korugar, the Justice League regroups and begins an exploration of Brainiac’s abandoned scout ship...will it finally reveal answers or will it be the final stroke of Brainiac’s plan in conquering Earth? And how far will Luthor go to clear his name and save the planet?
Favorites Wonder Woman and (an) Atom (a blue eyed Ryan Choi or Ray in the wrong outfit?) are cover featured, and I still ask when is this thing going to end already?

Captain Atom

Written by J.T. KRUL
On sale NOVEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Captain Atom is taking his powers to new heights – saving people all across the world in the blink of an eye. But he’s not the only one who can move at super speed. Enter: The Flash! And when their paths cross, don’t expect them to share the secret hero’s handshake – because Captain Atom may be a bigger threat than any villain.
The more I see, the less I like. Even the Artgerm covers are losing their appeal. So blah.

Art and cover by CHRISTOPHER JONES
On sale NOVEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Captain Atom’s cold-case assignment is definitely heating up: The true killer has resurfaced to target anyone who might expose the truth about the murder of General Lemar back in 1968 – and that includes each and every member of the Team!
The Cambodian?!? Hah!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 The Atom Movie Fan Casting: Casey Affleck as Ray Palmer

The great thing about doing an Atom fan casting is a) there will never be an Atom movie to ruin the fantasy and b) there won't even be another Atom movie fan casting to dispute my selections. I will of course have to update this in about ten years, but otherwise it should hold up pretty well for a while.

So yeah, I chose Casey Affleck as Ray Palmer. I wanted someone who was kind of handsome and heroic, but also offbeat and believable as a physicist turned shrinking super-hero. At 5'9", I don't see the smaller Affleck brother getting another hero gig, but he's got a decent build and the right kind of personality to be both low key and suitably stoic as needed. I looked at some younger guys and some British guys, but Affleck just felt right. Most of my other selections were bigger and more charismatic, but part of what I like about Affleck is that he's reserved and genuine. I can buy him as a brain, but I can also see him stabbing little yellow different barbarians with a broadsword if it should come to that. Finally, I think you would root for Affleck, even if he swaggered and had a bit of arrogance like I think Palmer should, but without it being ostentatious like brother Ben. Yeah, Casey Affleck. Works for me.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2010 Teen Titans Zero Hour in color art by Bill Walko

Click To Enlarge

Clockwise from upper left: Supergirl (Linda Danvers,) Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Darkstar Donna Troy, Damage, Impulse (Bart Allen,) Rose Wilson, Terra (Tara Markov,) Arsenal (Roy Harper,) Mirage (Miriam Delgado,) Jarras Minion.

You know who I haven't brought up in a while? Damage. Poor little bastard. Between Breach, my needing to finish posting on Captain Atom: Armageddon (which has been in the can for months BTW, but I want to do delayed tie-in with other blogs,) and the imperative to get some Tiny Titan material back in the pipeline, Grant Emerson's gonna chill for a while yet. Best to kick it with fond memories of better days (so long as you weren't reading the actual New Titans series, which was garbage by that point.) More cuteness at the Walko's deviantART gallery

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Breach #5 (July, 2005)

Tate turned up in Washington, D.C. to meet his mother, Senator McClellan, who was fielding reporters' questions about illegal high-technology weapons trading. They embraced, and although Tate was still out of it, planned his birthday celebration. Of course, ever since his father died, April 17th had been a weird date for the pair.

Major Timothy Zanetti was encased in a small levitating cube, and not talking to anyone. That date, April 17th, seemed to set him off again. Dr. Campbell Chambers thought the use of his powers was having "a direct psychological and physiological impact" on his well being. Captain Yoshiba, a smirk dragged along the pock-marked right side of his face, was flippant to the point of rudeness about the Major. It didn't help that the Captain had sent a recon team to where Tim had sensed the Herdsman. "Do you want to get them killed!?" Punching a crack in his tiny prison, Zanetti had to be gassed.

The investigative unit, including Dr. Paul Chambers, arrived at the house of the family from last issue. Damage on the scene was consistent with a breech event. From the ceiling, a fleshy blob of abstract insectoid and humanoid parts nearly fell on top of the troop. Shots were fired into the abomination, which still had a face off to one side. As "she" died, it said "help... me... they took my famileee-- my childr--"

General McClellan called the wife to say that he'd be late for the birthday party, then met with the revived Tim Zanetti.

Tate couldn't stop thinking about the night his father died, and asked his mom if she'd ever imagined their life had he lived. She was just grateful for her son's safety, and for the help her current husband had provided to her investigation of Kobra, which she feared prompted Tate's near murder. Tate was curious about the super-powered prisoner he'd briefly met, and his mom promised to look into it. "Mac should be able to open some doors. It pays to have a Joint Chief of Staff in the family..."

Tim burst his cage with excitement at seeing his old buddy Mac, but proximity alerts warned him not to make physical contact. "Wow. Mac, you got old." McClellan explained how badly Zanetti was needed in the "very dangerous, insidious war" to come. Mac discussed Tim's status as sole survivor of Project: Otherside. "The accident opened the door to a race we call 'Rifters.' They're extremely dangerous, incredibly hostile creatures. Due to your physiological changes, you apparently can sense them-- which makes you a vital tool in this war." To insure that tool remained in his shed, Mac told Tim that Helen and Tate had died in the project's catastrophic wake. Tim blew up, and had to be restrained again.

Tobias Underwood was ecstatic over how gloriously his novel was turning out-- "my best work ever!" The cigarette smoking woman congratulated him, and asked if some friends of hers could stay at his place for a while. They included the Herdsman, and a small family of like creatures...

Mac returned home late, to a saved piece of cake and a note from Helen.

Tim had calmed down again, as he spoke with Campbell about not really remembering his son anymore, "as if that part of my memory was wiped clean." Zanetti never could remember the significance of the date, and seemed less concerned about Helen, as well. Campbell reached out to Tim, but a proximity alarm sounded, as both Tim's and her containment suits were compromised. "Tsk, tsk Doc-- forgot your helmet. It's the little things that get you... isn't it?"

"Lies" was by Bob Harras, Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez. This would have been a solid first issue in a theoretical second trade paperback collection, or a good jumping on point for new readers after a crossover. No trades ever existed, and a fifth issue would have landed in a first collection, and the tie-ins start next issue, so this story was instead a spinner of wheels wasting precious time. After all, we're about halfway through its truncated run...

Brave New World