Sunday, October 30, 2011

Flashpoint #1 (July, 2011)

"There's only one thing I know about life I know some things happen by chance. And some things happen because we make them happen. Barry Allen was once haunted by the past. But when he became the Flash, he left the ghosts behind. He found love. A family. And for the first time ever... Friends. Barry thought yesterday was finally behind him... but somebody wouldn't let him escape it. When Barry came to me for help, I turned him away. I'm not the hero of this story. I'm a man who's been corrupted by his own unbearable pain. I'm a man who has too much blood on his hands to be called good. I'm a man who had nothing left to live for-- until the day I met the Flash."
-Thomas Wayne, A.K.A. the Batman

After a two page spread with most of the major DC heroes in their current forms, Barry Allen awoke to a heavily altered and more thoroughly corrupted world. Sure his mom, who we only learned a few years ago had been murdered in his youth, was now alive and well. That didn't make up for the hundred million dead "when Atlantis sank Western Europe into the ocean. Before that, thirty-two million were slaughtered when the Amazons claimed the United Kingdom as New Themyscira." Aquaman and Wonder Woman were at war and out to rule the world. Looking at another two page spread of the "heroes" assembled to stop them, it didn't look like a world much worth saving. Few of the heroes from the earlier spread were represented, and those present were pretty heinously reworked.

Once Batman said "no" to pitching in, the alliance fell apart, which goes to show what a bunch of weasels this lot were. Meanwhile, Barry Allen was heroic enough not to pitch the world into Hell for the sake of visiting with his mom, and instead drove his car to trespass in Wayne Manor. The Batman slapped him around some, before Barry deduced that this was actual Thomas Wayne, who had survived that night in Crime Alley.

"Flashpoint Chapter One" was by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert with Sandra Hope. It looks like a Hollywood production with plenty of money but no soul behind it, so I was more bored reading it than anything. Sure it's offensive, but the impoliteness is felt in the abstract, with many miles of detachment on my part. It's funny though, because I think this is the beginning of the end for Didio Comics, for I foresee a DC Implosion coming that will really shake up the comic book industry. Poor Barry Allen seems like he'll go from a sainted super-hero to the bad penny turning up to bookend the Post-Crisis DC Universe. Your mileage may vary, but for me, I think I'm going to use this as something of a stopping point for my reading. I'll keep up with this or that, but my allegiance to the line is pretty much dead, and had been on life support for most of the decade anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thunderbolts' Customs Captain Atom & Nightshade Action Figures

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Dig these Mego-style customs of Captain Atom in his early gold & red costume, along with Eve Eden in her first Darling of Darkness outfit!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Atomic acCount for January, 2012

Cover #21 by MIKE S. MILLER
In a misguided attempt to save the Earth, Batman launches a chemical attack on an alien race. Will Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps arrive in time to stop the genocide? And in issue #22, the final battle begins! Under the leadership of Batman and Lex Luthor, the heroes launch an all-out assault on Brainiac – but the elusive Super Villain still has one more trick up his sleeve!
#21 on sale JANUARY 11
#22 on sale JANUARY 25
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Is the Atom still in this? Does it matter?

Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale JANUARY 11
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
When Checkmate fails to bring the rogue metahuman O.M.A.C. under control, they call in S.H.A.D.E.’s best agent, Frankenstein! It’s all-out monster mayhem as O.M.A.C. and Frank battle in the streets of Metropolis. But what is Brother Eye’s real goal? It’s up to Father Time and Ray Palmer to find out! Continued from this month’s O.M.A.C. #5!

O.M.A.C. #5
On sale JANUARY 4
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Max Lord and Sarge Steel decide that in order to capture O.M.A.C., sacrifices will have to be made. They go back to the location of O.M.A.C.’s first appearance and target the workers on Kevin Kho’s floor, including Kevin and all his friends. Meanwhile, since O.M.A.C. is still on the loose, S.H.A.D.E. decides to send in their top agent, Frankenstein, to succeed where Checkmate has failed. This epic storyline continues in this month’s FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #5!

On sale FEBRUARY 29
176 pg, FC, $14.99 US
Deathstroke and The Titans must escape the island paradise known as Drago in a game of life and death in this title collecting issues #33-39 and TITANS ANNUAL 2011. Plus, Osiris and Isis must come to terms with one another as they attempt to reclaim their thrones in Kahndaq.
That whole avenging Ryan Choi thing never really happened, did it?

Captain Atom
Written by J.T. KRUL
On sale JANUARY 18
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Captain Atom likes to think of himself as a hero, but he can’t shake visions of another fate that could be far more monstrous. And maybe there’s more truth to this nightmare than he’d like to believe as he finally comes face-to-face with the bizarre creature that’s been lurking in the shadows.
A cover like this makes me feel better about skipping the book. Nekkid pinhead vs. Chinese dragon? Pass.

Written by JUDD WINICK
On sale FEBRUARY 1
320 pg, FC, $29.99 US
Mind-controlling mastermind Maxwell Lord is targeting the members of the defunct Justice League International in this paperback collecting the first 12 issues of the twice-monthly series tying into BRIGHTEST DAY.
I totally need to read this story about how the guy who was dead came back and did stuff that was immediately wiped from continuity, including his dying in the first plus, and there may not have even been a Ted Kord for him to kill anymore. Magog's still dead, I guess? Say, they couldn't use one of those Maguire variant covers here? Turds.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

1995/96 Nightshade and the Question animation concept art by Bruce Timm

Superman: The Animated Series ran on The WB network from 1996-2000. According to a 1998 interview with producer Bruce Timm in Wizard's JLA Special magazine, while that show was in development, a JLA team-up format was considered. That prospect only lasted about a week, but the production team worked up a bunch of character sketches for the proposal. "I sat down and did designs for a bunch of characters, even some that had never even been in the JLA, like The Question. We tried to put in as weird a mix of characters as we could so it wasn't just Superman, Aquaman, Hawkman. So that's how that came about, but it never went further than that." Aside from the aforementioned characters, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Vixen, Nightshade, Black Lightning, Green Lantern John Stewart and Doctor Fate were also proposed. Jenette Kahn put the kibosh on the idea, believing Superman deserved his own show and the chance to be reintroduced into animation by himself. However, the talks led to Zatanna's appearances on Batman: The Animated Series and a slew of guest spots for other heroes on Superman, including the New Gods and Supergirl.

While the Question made a splash when he finally made it into animation on Timm's Justice League Unlimited, Nightshade has yet to mount a significant dent in animation (aside from a cameo in the direct-to-DVD Superman/Batman: Public Enemies .) Curiously, the Atom had co-starred in a Superman show back in the '60s, didn't make the cut in these preliminaries, but did have several notable appearance on JLU.

Bruce Timm Bits

Saturday, October 8, 2011

DC Retroactive: JLA - The '70s #1 (September, 2011)

22,300 miles above the Earth, the Justice League Satellite carried Hawkman, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and the Flash. Long range sensors detected a Zeta Beam carrying both Adam Strange and the alien despot Kanjar Ro toward Earth. The unstable beam split in two, before one continued and the other vanished entirely. Hawkman contacted the source planet of the beam, Rann, and learned from Sardath and Alanna that Kanjar Ro had stolen files allowing him to "hack" into Adam's teleportational beam.

Flash launched into a flurry of motion, and Red Tornado explained that "He's cross-analyzing the phase-ratios of the second splinter beam with the vibrational frequencies of all contiguous dimensions. The Scarlet Speedster and the Scarlet Android determined Adam's signal had sent him to Earth-Prime, an alternate Earth that almost exactly replicates the mundane one of most comic book readers. The Flash had been to that sad, drab world before, and at Red Tornado's suggestion, selected his own extraction team for a return visit.

Meanwhile, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Hawkman pursued Kanjar Ro to the Rock Mountains of their own Earth-One. With his body having been transformed into "a living receptacle of Zeta-Beam energy," Kanjar Ro easily flattened them both. Thankfully, the away team had returned with Adam Strange from Earth-Prime, and despite a pressing time limit, Adam's brain was always up to the challenge. Kanjar Ro had to be stopped within a few hours, or else he would absorb even more power from an incoming Zeta Beam. Red Tornado provided Strange a replacement uniform and jet pack for the one he had lost previously.

In Peru, the heroic collective confronted Kanjar Ro, whose new telekinesis caused them to fire on themselves. For instance, Hawkman was left tangled in his own mace, while Red Tornado was caught in a vortex more powerful than he could ever produce. All that power on display came at a price, tapping out Kanjar Ro's reserves while Green Lantern had used his Power Ring to refract the expected Zeta Beam. Left restored to normal, Kanjar Ro was knocked out by a simple punch of Adam Strange's.

"Enter Justice League Prime" was by Cary Bates, Andy Smith, Gordon Purcell, and Jose Marzan Jr.

DC Retroactive

Friday, October 7, 2011

Demographics of the Atom

Page Views To Date:
According to Statcounter- 17,474
According to Google- 22,377

The Top posts to date are...

5) Post-Pointal Discussion: The Atoms and the Justice League Satellites: 335 Pageviews

4) The search for Ray Palmer... blogging.: 398 Pageviews

3) Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1 (July, 2010) : 479 Pageviews

2) Crisis On Earth-Blog: The DC Challenge: 713 Pageviews

1) DC Comics 75th Anniversary Golden Age Atom Variant Cover Suggestions: 745 Pageviews

Thanks go to referring blogs The Idol-Head of Diabolu, Being Carter Hall and Firestorm Fan!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Brave and the Bold #152 (July, 1979)

Playboy tycoon Bruce Wayne was nearly killed while piloting a personal jet because the airport tower equipment failed to detect another plane heading toward him. Other such digital abnormalities plagued the region, including "computerized" jail cells opening up, traffic jams, and unregulated electricity ruining an experiment of Ray Palmer's at Ivy University. As the Dark Knight Detective was delayed rounding up escaped criminals, Palmer managed to drive to the Gotham City offices of Amalgamated Technics and happen to bump into Batman as both arrived to question the responsible party. Both men were assured that the glitch was being taken care of by Howard Trask, "computer designer extraordinaire."

Bruce Wayne soon learned that all Wayne Enterprises bank accounts had not only been emptied, but their five million dollar deficit had been reported to the authorities. Similarly, Ray Palmer was arrested in Ivy Town based on evidence that he had transferred the physics department's funds to Switzerland. Unable to pursue the matter from a jail cell, the world's smallest hero would have to sneak out to clear his name. Aware of their mutual concerns, the Atom headed to the Batcave, and joined the Caped Crusader in another visit to Amalgamated Technics. The Atom somehow managed to determine their computers were not corrupted by jogging on a circuit board while the device made "beep-de-beep" sounds.

Meanwhile, Batman discovered that there was no record of Trask's existence prior to five years earlier. Trask took off his shirt to reveal a tattoo of an anvil that was only visible under an ultra-violet pen light Trask happened to carry with him, signifying that he was part of "America's top secret federal investigation unit?!!" To confirm that Trask was legit as a co-investigator on this case, Batman checked him out with the JLA's official government liaison.

The Caped Crusader and the Tiny Titan followed the money from a closed South American account to a bank in Zurich that refused to cooperate with Bruce Wayne. Further, a helicopter with an electromagnet on a cable caught Wayne's car and dropped it off a cliff. The Mighty Mite somehow altered his density to push Wayne from behind so that he could survive a fall into the waters below. I'll admit that Ray's the physicist, but I don't think his field works like that.

The Atom picked the lock at the bank, and Batman found the pair's lost gold (?!?) They were then attacked by a gang of men in lederhosen and Tracht hats, whom they trounced before returning to the United States. Once there, Batman visited Trask at work, who clubbed the Dark Knight Detective with a wrench and dropped him on a conveyor belt spanning maybe a dozen feet that led to a shredder. Trask then left without seeing Batman die to return to his apartment. There, the Atom had found a computer reel hidden behind a fake electrical outlet, but dove into a trash can when Trask returned. Trask happened to dump the trash into the incinerator, from which the Tiny Titan barely escapes alive. The Mighty Mite then pursued Trask outside the building to a car where the thief tried to play the tape, learning that it was instead a recording of the national anthem. The Atom recognized the beeps from the Amalgamated Technics computer at the Swiss bank, which led him to switch the reels and capture Trask. Then, the Atom went back to Trask's lab to save Batman, inches from being shredded. Batman learned that Trask had blackmailed the JLA liaison into vouching for him, while Ray decided to eat a plate of Swiss cheese like a mouse.

Bob Haney and Jim Aparo were responsible for "Death Has A Golden Grab!" I often enjoy Haney for his lunatic cavalier plotting that makes Grant Morrison look like Ron Howard. Here, he just heaps stupidity on top of inanity in a series of nonsensical, ill-informed events that does disservice to everyone involved. I won't even touch the magical omnipotent reel-to-reel computer technology, since nobody in pop culture knew how those things worked in 1979. I'll even give Wayne and Palmer specifically (exclusively?) being implicated in the heist. Still, nothing "technical" in this book is remotely plausible, from the banking to the laws of Newton to the basic plot machinations. Why do the heroes take Amalgamated Technics at their word initially, and how nuts is it for costumed Batman and plainclothes Ray Palmer to show up together in the first place? Lederhosen?!?! Of course Trask is the culprit, because there's no alternative introduced! Once Ray found the computer reel, why didn't he just kick Trask's ass? How did Batman survive all that time on the conveyor belt? Why is Batman such an incompetent wuss? Did anybody understand that stuff about the computer noises? Why does the Atom act like a mouse, and who is impressed by a hero nearly killed via trash chute on accident?

Even Aparo is off his game, with loose art and a complete lack of understanding of how to render Atom adventures. He just keeps drawing the Atom as a full figure taking up minimal space in panels. Instead of a dynamic hero in an over-sized world, he's a glorified color stick figure battling household appliances. A debacle, I tell you!

The Bronze Age