Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tales of the Black Freighter

Tales of the Black Freighter is a fictional comic series within the graphic novel Watchmen. The comic was read in several issues (issue 3, 5, 8, 10 and 11) of Watchmen by an unnamed youth.
Plot
We only see one story from Tales of the Black Freighter, "Marooned". So, I'm going to talk about the plot of that. "The Sea Captain" and his ship was attacked by the Black Freighter. The Captain was the only survivor. Wanting to warn his hometown, he made a raft out of the bodies of his dead crew. When he got home, he believed the town was taken over by the crew of the Black Freighter. This caused him to kill several innocent people (including his wife, who he mistook for a pirate). Realizing what he did, he fled to the shore. There he discovered the truth: the Black Freighter had come him not the town. He swam out to sea and climbed on the ship.
Logic Behind The Story
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons believed superheroes wouldn't be popular in the Watchmen universe. So, they chose to make it a pirate comic for it's "rich and dark" (Alan Moore) imagery. The comic was inspired by the Threepenny Opera song "Seer√§uberjenny" (which translates to "Pirate Jenny"). The story is suppose to serve as a counterpoint to the world they created.
References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Karma Club

I wanted to do a post on the obscure comic Karma Club. However, all I could find was a Comicvine description of the premise (which sounds like it was copied from the back of a trade paperback). According to Comicvine, the premise is:
"Imagine a future world where teenagers are equals with grown-ups, money is earned by being a good person, and cities are called Megamalls! In the year 222, after Armageddon, this world really exists! It's the home of the KARMA CLUB, a teenage crime-fighting team made up of Kemmy, Shay, Arcus, Phoebe and Karina. The CLUB delivers sushi as a secret cover-up to keep their real superteen identities safe from the TUNNEL, the evil organization behind all the dangerous bad guys the CLUB constantly finds themselves battling. The TUNNEL's goal is to make the world a dangerous and dark place! Since money isn't paper-and-coin currency but instead measured by good deeds, called KARMA, the evil members of the TUNNEL forever plot to reverse all the good KARMA to bad KARMA. If the CLUB ever fails, bad guys will be wealthy and the Megamalls will be totally dangerous hives of crime! Will the CLUB ever find out who's behind all the plans to reverse CLUB? Every day, the KARMA CLUB gets a little closer to erasing evil from the streets and making the world a safer place!"
Let's look at how dumb this solely based on this description.

Teens and grown ups are equals? There is a reason why in real life teens and adults aren't treated the same. Teenagers are immature and will do stupider things than an adult would. By the logic of the comic, a 13-year-old would be allowed to see a R-rated movie, be in the army or drink alcohol.

So, good deeds earn people money. While people have a general sense of good and evil, what about killing a murderer? Is that good? Do you earn more money by doing a deed that is "more" good than others? If so, who decides that? In fact, who decides what deeds are good and how do they know if someone is being good? Are the Megamalls a totalitarian government that always watches its citizen like Big Brother? Wait a minute. If the only way to earn money is by being good, then how do companies like Toys R Us or Wal Mart earn money? Speaking of which, where does the money come from? Does the money come from the national reserves or do they just make more money? If the first is true, then the country is screwed if they need to fund a war. If it is the second, that is a great way to destabilize the economy and throw the Megamalls into an another great depression.

Speaking of which, cities are named "Megamalls". Are Megamalls corporate run city-sized malls where people live in their stores? If not, then why are they called "Megamalls"? Why aren't they just called "Megacities" like from Judge Dredd?

"In the year 222, after Armageddon, this world really exists!" What was "Armageddon"? Did a nuclear war happen? Did aliens attack the Earth? Did a reincarnation of Jesus fight the armies of Satan? I think that Armageddon would important enough to have a off-hand explanation such as "In the year 222, after W.O.P.R. caused thermonuclear war and only small chunks of humanity survived, this world really exists!".

Let's talk about Karma Club. In the description, KARMA CLUB and their enemies, TUNNEL, are always capitalized. Does KARMA CLUB and TUNNEL stand for something? If so, should it be spelt K.A.R.M.A. C.L.U.B. and T.U.N.N.E.L.? If not, why isn't spelt "Karma Club" and "Tunnel"? According the description, "Every day, the KARMA CLUB gets a little closer to erasing evil from the streets and making the world a safer place!". How do you "[erase] evil"? Do you mind wipe people in order to make them be productive members of society like in Squadron Supreme? Well in that comic, the idea of using the mind wipe was shown to be a morally arguable one with just as much evidence to support the side against it as the side for it. Do they kill the criminals? I think would be a bit questionable if the comic's heroes murdered people for their holier-than-thou crusade. Do you they imprison the criminals? That makes the most sense. However for the statement to be correct, they would have to make it so the criminals would never be allowed to leave thus "making the world a safer place".

Tunnel / TUNNEL wants to destroy the system of the good-deed economy. The description says "KARMA" refers to the money that they get for good deeds, but Tunnel want the economy to be based on "bad KARMA". How can there be bad money that you get for good deeds? If it meant "money that you get for bad deeds", why use the same term used to describe the exact opposite? So, they want to "reverse ... the ... KARMA". How do you do that? It's not that easy to completely restructure the economy unless the country is in some form of decline. So Tunnel can only pose a threat if there are ton of the other problems causing the country to collapse. Maybe the Karma Club / KARMA CLUB should focus on those problems to help the country survive long term and not the criminals who will pose no threat when the social / economic structure stabilizes.

References:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySuetopia
http://www.comicvine.com/karma-club-1/4000-273602/

Monday, July 29, 2013

Captain Strong

Ever wonder what Popeye would be like if he was addict? No? Well apparently DC Comics did. So, they created this Popeye-stand in.
History
Horatio Strong was stronger than most people. However, he founded "sauncha" (a strange extraterrestrial form of sea weed). Eating it gave super strength. As such, he decided to use this ability for good. However, it caused him to be irrational and suffer from "withdrawl pains". He rampaged until Superman stopped him. After being thrown in a hospital, he said he would never use the seaweed again. He became Superman and Clark Kent's (not figuring out they were the same person) friend.
References:
http://www.comicvine.com/captain-strong/4005-49291/

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Professor Gamble

The "Captain Ersatz" trope refers to characters that are blatant stand-ins for other characters. Professor Gamble is Marvel Comics' Captain Ersatz for Doctor Who.
History
Professor Justin Alphonse Gamble was a member of Time Variance Authority, but quit the TVA and stole one of their time machines. He battled rogue Time Variance Authority robots called "Incinerators" (Dalek stand-ins). Using the name "Sergius O'Shaughnessy", he penned Day of the Dredlox, a Broadway play that glorified himself (which used his real name in the play). He helped Iron Fist and Luke Cage when they were stuck in the wrong time and being attacked by the Incinerators. Using a mini-Incinerator, the Incinerators broke in, took over his time machine and captured Gamble. They read his mind. Wanting to build a machine that would destory time itself, they went back to the time of Camelot to get the Starstone, which they need to built it. The Anachronauts freed Gamble. Gamble retook control the machine and expelled the Incinerators. Gamble set off to give Merlin the Starstone.
Powers and Abilities
Professor Gamble is genius inventor and thinker. He claims to be 95. If this is true, he would age slower than normal people. His time machine's exterior appearance is altered to make it seem like it is from the time period he is in. It is also bigger on the inside.
References:
http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/jagamble.htm
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CaptainErsatz
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/CaptainErsatz/ComicBooks

Saturday, July 27, 2013

El Hombre

Bravo (left) and El Hombre (right)
El Hombre is an example of a superhero becoming a villain without even knowing it. He is another character from the awesome Astro City comic.
History
Carl Donewicz was the son of  a rich parents. He was fascinated by his uncle's whip techniques and study them. He inherited their own money when they died in a plane crash. Believing the Latinos (which he was among) in his home town needed a role model and wanting to impress Maria Alvarado, he became the superhero El Hombre. Despite originally fighting normal human criminals, he eventually fought villains such as the robot Platinum Blonde, the super fast Getaway and the self-duplicating Los Hermanos. After aiding the Honor Guard, they let him joined. Carl and Maria started to hit it off. Carl began to feel like he was losing his connection to the Latino community. His girlfriend Maria felt in love with the Latino Malcolm X-stand-in Ramon Vega (who is not connected to the real-life individual). Carl adopted an orphan Latino child as his sidekick Bravo. Things in his life started to fall apart when Maria married Vega. He lost his feeling of self-worth when he discover the Honor Guard used his image for merchandise and his merchandise sold the least well. Wanting to improve his rep, he asked the villain Assemblyman to build a robot for him to fight and give him a way to easily stop it. While the Assemblyman made the robot, he made it so the fail safe won't work. As such, the Honor Guard had to stop. Assemblyman, when captured, squealed about El Hombre forcing him to retire. Despite this, Brave continued to be a superhero.
El Hombre is most notable for his role in the "Tarnished Angel" story arch. Steeljack, feeling discouraged about his investigation of the death of minor villains, met Hombre and listened to his life story. Steeljack met up with the new villain Conquistador, a crime lord planning a massive amounts of robberies. Steeljack figured out Conquistador was Hombre. After no one listened him, Steeljack confronted the Conquistador. The Conquistador revealed he is El Hombre. He explained his plan to Steeljack: after getting several villains to commit crimes, he have them met together only to find "El Guerrero" (Carl's new identity) and be murdered by the "hero". Steeljack damaged the armor and caused it to short-circuit thus knocking Carl out. According to Bravo, Carl was thrown into an asylum "for the rest of his life".
Power and Abilities
El Hombre had no power or equipment that gave him superpowers. He seemed to very agile. He used a whip as his weapon of choice.
As Conquistador, he used a suit of high tech armor. While not stated outright, he seemed to have enchanced strength and durability when wearing it. The suit's armor distorted his voice (shown by unusual word balloons). According to Steeljack, he has an oxygen supply in his suit.
References:
Astro City "Tarnished Angel" TPB

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rex-Spolde

History
Rex was part of a poor family. However, his family agreed to a deal where a government agent gave them a luxurious life in exchange for their son Rex. Rex was trained to be a soldier. He also was experimented on to give him superhuman abilities. He performed various missions for the agent until he ran away for unknown reason. After discovering his family had moved on, he helped form the Teen Team. He was first seen helping Invincible and the rest of the Teen Team stop the Mauler Twins. Invincible quickly began to think Rex was a jerk. Rex had relationship Atom Eve, but this ended due to Rex cheating with their teammate Dupli-Kate. After the original Guardians of the Globe were killed, Rex was among the heroes trying out for the second Guardians of the Globe team. Despite fighting with Monster Girl, he was allowed to join. Rex ended his relationship with Kate when she cheated on him with fellow member Immortal. Robot transferred his mind to a clone of Rex. While most of the team was fighting alien called the Sequids, Rex, Kate and Shrinking Ray fought the Lizard League. Rex, despite the fact they ultimately won, lost his arm and had to get it replace by a robotic one. Rex started to become much more mature and serious about being a superhero. Upon hearing Invincible and Atom Eve getting together, Rex (much to Eve's surprise) was okay with it and wished them well. After Invincible stopped working for the government, Rex (with Robot, Monster Girl and Bulletproof) left the Guardians and recreated the Teen Team. Rex blew himself up (thus killing himself) to kill an version of Invincible from another universe in order to save his teammates.
Powers
Rex-Splode's main power is his ability to alter inorganic materials' chemical makeup thus causing them to explode. He also had limited superhuman strength and durability. His robot hand could fire exploding projectiles.
References:
http://www.comicvine.com/rex-splode/4005-41137/

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Secret Wars

Transformers, G. I. Joe and He-Man are all television shows designed mainly to advertise toys. Comics are no strangers to creating comic simply to sell merchandise. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars is an example of this as it is tied to the toy line of the same name.
Plot
The Beyonder was a cosmic entity that observed and was fascinated by the Marvel Comic superhumans. As such, he sent the X-Men (which consists of Professor X, Rogue, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Lockhead), Spider-Man, Magneto, Hulk, the second Spider-Woman, the Fantastic Four minus the Invisible Woman, the Avengers (Captain America, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel II, the Wasp, Iron Man II, Thor and She-Hulk), the Wrecking Crew, Doctor Doom, Absorbing Man, Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Octopus, the Enchantress, Volcana, Klaw, Ultron, the Lizard, Titania, Molecule Man and Galactus to the Battleworld, which is a planet he made. He put alien tech on the planet. Despite the fact the only explanation of the rules being "Slay your enemies and all that you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!", he leaves the various characters to their own devices. The heroes and villains had several fights. Doctor Doom got a chunk of the Beyonder's powers and killed all the heroes. However thanks to Klaw's manipulating him and being as dumb as a brick, Doom brought them back and the villains are defeated. Most of the character (with the exception of the Thing, who decides to stay and explore the galaxy) are sent home. The only really notable things that have any lasting effect is introducing some new minor characters, Colossus ending his relationship with Kitty Pryde and Spider-Man getting the black alien suit.
References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Wars
http://www.toymania.com/archives/secretwars/swc12.shtml
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MerchandiseDriven

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

8-Ball

There are a handful of Marvel Comics characters called 8-Ball. However, this one is the only one with enough history and character to do a post on.
Biography
Jeff Hagees was born in Duluth, Minnesota. Jeff became a defense contractor and was responsible for designing missile propulsion systems. To relieve the stress of his job, he played pool. However, he soon gained large debt due to his gambling. Jeff was fired by his employers, who thought he was going to sell the companies' secrets to pay his debt. Jeff Hagees became the super villain 8-Ball using his engineering skills to help him. 8-Ball went on a crime spree and formed a gang (whose member included goons named "11-Ball", "6-Ball" and "9-Ball"). He fought the alien Sleepwalker, but narrowly escaped being captured. When they met again, 8-Ball attempted to kill Sleepwalker, but SW escaped. In their third encounter, 8-Ball (with the aid of Hobgoblin) attacked Sleepwalker, but stopped he discovered that the mind of another person was in Sleepwalker's body. However, Sleepwalker was dying and 8-Ball abandoned him. 8-Ball was captured at one point. He and several other villain fought the She-Hulk and lost. Later, 8-Ball (aided by Freezer Burn, Humbug and Whirlwind) stole from crime boss Ricadonna. They were unknowingly caught on camera. Ricadonna sent Wrecker to kill 8-Ball. Despite the fact the Wrecker succeeded in killing 8-Ball, Ricadonna was caught and thrown in prison.
Powers and Abilities
Jeff Hagees was a skilled engineer with a degree. He was able to make a pool rack-shaped, four-man hovercraft. He created and used a cue stick-like weapon, which amplified the force the stick hits the object with. This allows him to make normal objects into dangerous weapons. He used fire works, grenades, a floating hovercraft and flying mini-cameras (which are all painted to them look like billiard balls). He was also a skilled expert pool player and gymnast.
References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8-Ball_(comics)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Outsiders

Clockwise: Ronnie (top left), Billy, Mighty Mary, Lizard Johnny, Larry and Doc Scary
I'm going to talk about the DC Comics group the Outsiders. There have been two Outsider teams published by DC Comics: the more popular Batman team and this team.
History
They first appeared in 1st Issue Special issue 10. This version of the Outsiders are a group of deformed super humans. The team was first seen rescuing the mutant Billy from a mob. After they returned to their headquarters, the team directly talked to the reader about themselves. The rest of the comic was just them explaining the origin of Lizard Johnny, Billy and Doc Scary / Doctor Goodie. However, the origins of Amazing Ronnie, Hairy Larry and Mighty Mary are never explained.
Their only other appearance was in Superman issue 692. For some reason, Department M had them there as detainees.
Members
  • Doctor Goodie / Doc Scary- Doctor Goodie was a NASA medical consultant. He was launched into space and crashed on an alien planet. The planet's natives made him into a cyborg in order to save his life. However since the alien never saw a human before, they gave him an inhuman appearance. He somehow returned to Earth and joined the team for unknown reasons. He uses elaborate makeup to hide his appearance to continue being a doctor. This tends to attracted unwanted attention by people that think he is handsome (unaware of his real appearance). He helped build the team's base under a hospital. He has surgical skills enhanced by his cyborg body.
  • Lizard Johnny- He was born as a reptilian humanoid. Johnny was found at sea by the fisherman Ahab Smith. Smith sent Johnny to a hospital. Doctor Goodie saved him and raised Johnny himself. Grown up, Johnny is a bespectacled, lizard-like humanoid with scraggly hair. He has regenerative healing and a poisonous forked tongue. He may or may not be amphibious.
  • Billy- He has a giant-head that is steel-hard and a baby-like face. As such, he uses his head as a battering ram. Billy was hidden in his father's basement. When two bulgars discovered him, they helped a mob try to kill him. The Outsiders saved him from the mob. The comic chronicles his joining the team.
  • Hairy Larry / Wheeler Dealer- Larry is a half-man and half-automobile with the top human half being enclosed in glass. He is a dwarf. He has a shaggy red-mane-like hair and a Quasimodo-like face. He transports himself, the team and their mobile lab (which is similar to a trailer).
  • Mighty Mary- She has orange-scaled arms arms and legs. Her fingers and toes are webbed. She is "normal" from the neck up. She has superhuman strength.
  • Amazing Ronnie- He is a dark-skinned and lumpy-headed creature. Ronnie has one eye and four arms. He has "acrobatic combat skills" (Wikipedia). 
References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsiders_(DC_Comics)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Captain Enviro

Captain Enviro murdering an alien trying to prevent the excitation of his race.
Here is an another PSA that features a near-useless superhero as the lead.
Plot
The natives of Polluto are dying because they need pollution to live, but (for some reason) the planet is becoming too clean. Instead of re-polluting their planet, the Royal Pollutian Filth Force is sent to find and pollute a new planet. They go to Earth and start in Canada. Captain Enviro is teaching kids about how to save the environment when he is called away to fight the aliens. Captain Enviro starts fighting the aliens. When Enviro is dazed, the alien force feeds him a drug that makes him want to pollute the world. As such, he tells the kids to pollute, which they do. After two kids realize something is wrong, a random kid accidentally hit him on the head with a bottle. This somehow negates the effect of the drug (thus making the two kids pointless). Enviro tells the kids to stop polluting (which they do instantly). Captain Enviro murders the aliens with clean water. Afterwards, Enviro preaches about saving the environment.
Titular Character
Captain Enviro is a superhero that wears a green-light green costume, an utility belt (which he doesn't use) and a yellow baseball cap (with a stylized "E" on it). He is obsessed with saving the environment. His only super power is the ability to fly at superhuman speed (shown by him being able to fly from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick in what appears to be minutes or seconds). The lack of origin story leaves the source of this ability a mystery. Oddly, the Captain himself is drawn in a fairly realistic style (compared to other superhero comics), but all the other humans are drawn in a more cartoonish style.
References:
http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics147.html

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mad Mod

Mad Mod (left)
Fans of the Teen Titans cartoon will remember the villain Mad Mod. He was (loosely) based on this characters.
History
Neil Richard was England man born in a slum. Because he was interested in fashion, he became a fashion designer when he grew up. He known to specialize with mod clothing. This job made him rich and famous. His focus of mod fashion earned him the nickname "the Mad Mod". Bored, he decided to smuggle drugs by hiding them in his clothes. However, the Teen Titans and rock star Holley Hip stopped and captured him. He later attempted to steal the royal scepter from the Queen of England. However, the Titans quickly appended him. Unlike last time, Richard gave up his criminal ways and regained his life as a fashion designer. Years later, Loren Jupiter hired Neil to design his Teen Titan group's outfits. While doing this, Mad Mod became very close to the group. He was captured by an insane Haze (an enemy of the Titans), but the original Titans freed him. Mod was at Titans member Isaiah Crockett's funeral.
Powers and Abilities
Mad Mod has no superpowers. As a villain, he used an array of gadgets and traps to neutralize his enemies. He also employed a group of thugs to do his dirty works. After reforming, he still was knowledgeably about technology. Regardless, he is a skilled fashion designer.
References:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy Noodle Boy

Jhonen Vasquez is best known for being the creator of Invader Zim. However, he created several comics. Among these is Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Johnny has several filler strips include today's topic: Happy Noodle Boy.
Overview
Happy Noodle Boy is a fictional comic within the series. It is created by the titular serial killer Johnny. The main readership constits of "homeless insane" people. Happy Noodle Boy himself often is seen the background of the main storyline often in crowd scenes. Pictures of him appear in the spin-off Squee.
The actual comic is an series of one-page strips. The titular character is a stick figure. The strip details his bizarre adventures. Usually, Happy Noodle Boy stands on a box and yells bizarre nonsense at passing pedestrians. He often provokes his own death.
Vasquez's Explanation 
Usually, I don't talk about the real life events that involve comics. However, Vasquez gave an explanation for the creation of HNBoy and thought it was interesting enough to mention here. Vasquez said this during an interview:
"So many years ago, [my little romantical friend in high school] was the unwitting reason Happy Noodle Boy was created. [She] always asked me for comics. But I couldn't draw as fast as she requested. Thus, I tried to create the worst abomination of a comic that I could, so as to make her not want comics anymore. That abomination, my friends, was Happy Noodle Boy".
References:
http://jhonenvasquez.wikia.com/wiki/Happy_Noodle_Boy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Captain Alcohol / Captain Al Cohol

Captain Alcohol (which is how it is spelt in the title) / Captain Al Cohol (which is how it is spelt in the comic) is a 1973 comic. This comic was commissioned by the North West Territories' government to be an anti-alcohol PSA. This was one of the first comics with an alcoholist superheroes... and it shows. Despite the fact there are four issues, I only have information on three issues.
Plot
Issue 1 began with Kirnik, a Inuit man, finding a man frozen in ice. After Kirnik dragged the being to his house, the being broke out of the ice and the house. Kirnik got his hands a medallion that the being was wearing that has "Captain Al Cohol" written on it. Al Cohol (the being) was subdued (due to not fighting back) and taken to the local doctor Flush Fantom. Flush (who looks evil) gave Al some rum. This caused him to go crazy and escape. After fighting a polar bear, Al Cohol returned to the city (Fish Fiord) and revealed his back story. Suddenly, super villains, called the "Ravenmen", attacked.
Issue 2 had two stories. The first one started off with Captain Al and Kirnik getting captured by the "ghoulish" Ravenmen. Despite escaping, they failed to defeat them. An Inuit man got drunk to forget his woes. After Captain Al fought off the guy, Al sobered him up and gave an anti-alcohol speech. The second one introduces the "curvaceous beauty" Lois Lane Alley and Al fell in love with her. However, Billy Vermin (who appeared in the first issue) knocked out Al and kidnapped Lois. Captain Al (dazed) drank some alcohol, which caused him to become drunk. Meanwhile, two Inuit men actually attempt to save Ms. Alley, but were captured.
Issue 3 began when issue 2 left off. Billy's scheme was to hold Lois for a ransom. His henchmen had to prevent Vermin from attacking Lois for rejecting his advances. Billy got drunk and became unconscious. Captain Al became sober and (while fighting a hangover) headed toward the villains. The alcohol sapped his power. As such, the Captain was easily overpowered and was tied to a chair. After Billy tempted Al with alcohol, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Billy. Upset by his failure, he got drunk. After Al told her to go away, Lois got run over by muskoxen. No, I am not making this up. Al went to Inuvik and got even more drunk. When he wakes up, he found himself in a drunk tank and welfare gave him $50. At a transient center, the captain played a card game, got more drunk and lost his cash. The next day, the captain saw a fire and a bearded guy screaming "Burn Baby burn!" Suspicious, Captain Al followed the bearded man. At his house, the bearded man got drunk, which transformed him into the super villain Firey Fritz. Learning about a $1000 reward for Fritz's captured, he captured Firey Fritz, who turned out to be Captain Al's father (who sneaked on to a spaceship and was marooned on Earth). Despite this, Al still gave him up to the authorities.
Titular Character
Captain Al Cohol was born on the planet Barkelda. This planet was an utopia except for the fact the natives never learned to moderate alcohol use. Captain Al (drunk) accidentally caused a fire that killed his family. He volunteered for a space mission in order to take his mind off his woes. The mission's spaceship accidentally crashed on Earth thus trapping Al there. Al claimed to a teetotaller (a person who tries to not drink alcohol). However, he gets drunk at every possible opportunity.
Al Cohol's powers are poorly-defined. He claims to have super strength due to Earth's lighter gravity. However, this ability is inconstantly portrayed. Despite being a superhero, Al Cohol rarely succeeds in doing anything heroic. The only time is succeeds is when there is payment.
References:
http://shrineodreams.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/captain-alcohol/

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jabba the Hutt

Marvel Comics were tasked with making a Star Wars comic based on Star Wars: A New Hope... before the movie came out. Because the comic was based on an early draft of the movie, there were differences between the comic and the final cut of the movie. One of the big difference was Jabba Hutt, who made his first appearance in the comic.
Overview
In the draft that Marvel got, Jabba makes an appearance. The scene was removed from the movie due to budget restraints. However, the scene was restored in several re-edited versions. In the actual comic, Jabba confronted Han Solo for killing Greedo and the debt he owed him. However, Solo managed to talk his way out of it by promising to let Jabba take a chunk of the pay for his next job. Pleased by this, Jabba and his gang left. Oddly, "Hutt" was spelt with only one "t" in this.
Due to delays with Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Marvel Comics were forced to off script for their monthly Star Wars comic and make up their own stories. Jabba appears in these stories. Jabba manged to track down Han and Chewbacca, because they used an old hiding place. Circumstances caused Jabba to remove the Chewbacca and Solo's bounty. This allowed the duo to return to Tatoonie and team up with Luke Skywalker. However, Solo later killed Jabba's employee Crimson Jack (a space pirate), which led Jabba to renew the bounty for Solo. After learning about the reward from a bounty hunter, Solo and Chewy rejoined the rebels. An early scene in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back mentioned the bounty hunter.
Appearance
Jabba the Hutt was a tall humanoid with a walrus-esque face. He wore a bright uniform and a topknot. The reason for the difference in appearance was because the script didn't give a description of how Jabba or his species looked. As such, the creators based Jabba's appearance on an alien that was briefly seen in the Mos Eisley cantina called Mosep Binneed.
References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabba_the_Hutt
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Docking_Bay_94

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Street Fighter (Malibu Comics)

I have rarely talked about comic book adaptions of the other media. So, I will talk the infamous Malibu Comics Street Fighter comics. The series only lasted three issues because Capcom was unhappy with adaption and pulled the plug on series.
Plot
In issue one, Sagat, having joined the criminal organisation Shadaloo, is tormented by Ryu's defeat. M. Bison (the leader of Shadaloo) encourages his hatred of Ryu and tells them to get at Ryu by attacking his friends. Meanwhile, Ryu finds Chun-Li has joined Interpol to get revenge on M. Bison (who killed her father) and Ken has become more obsessed with fame and fortune than training. After Ken shot movie, Balrog (a Shadaloo member) attacks Ken. Ken barely defeats Balrog. Afterwards, Sagat appears and challenges Ken.
In the issue two, Ken and Sagat fight.
In issue 3, Ryu gets Ken's scalp in the mail implying Sagat killed Ken. Other fighters hear about Ken's fate and want to avenge him. Meanwhile, E. Honda (a Japanese sumo wrestler) has a friendly fighting match with the Ferret (a Malibu superhero). Afterwards, he leaves to try to avenge Ken. Bison drives Sagat to become more vicious and tries to prevent him from feeling guilty. Ken and Ryu's old master Sheng Long, who was poisoned, is being cared for by an enigmatic woman named "Nida". The issue end with notes about what the creator would have done with future issue had the series not ended.
References:
http://www.comicvine.com/street-fighter-1-battle-scars/4000-107728/
http://www.comicvine.com/street-fighter-2-clawed-by-the-tiger/4000-109758/
http://www.comicvine.com/street-fighter-3/4000-109759/
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/MalibuComicsStreetFighter

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gladiator

Gladiator is a 1930 novel. It is notable for seemly being a deconstruction of comic book superhero tropes despite the fact it had some of the earliest examples of these tropes.
Story
At the beginning of the 20th century, Professor Abednego Danner experimented on a cat and tadpole thus giving them super strength. After he experiments on fetus on his unborn son, his son, Hugo, is born with super strength, bulletproof skin and super speed. Because he is told not abuse his power, Hugo is bullied and refused to fight back. He played with trees outside the rural area he lives in. Hugo became a football star, but had to quit school and football when accidentally killed another football player. He fought during World War 1 in the French Foreign Legion, but failed to affect the outcome of the war. After the war, he got a job a bank. When someone was trapped in tje vault, Hugo ripped off door (afted everyone else agreed to leave) to free man. However, this is met with suspicion and led the banker think Hugo was a safe cracker planning to rob the bank. As such, he was tortured for how he opened the vault. This proved ineffective and he escaped. Later, he failed to affect politics. Afterwards, he ran into an archaeologist, who (after hearing Hugo's story) offers multiple solutions to his problems. Standing on top a mountain, Danner asked god what to do and is killed by lightning.
Relationship to Superheroes
Because when the novel was made, Hugo Danner never attempts to become a superhero. However, there are some connection to superheroes. Hugo is described as having leaping ability proportionate to a grasshopper and strength proportionate to an ant. These metaphors were used to describe Superman. As mentioned before, this seems like a deconstruction of superhero tropes most notably how Hugo's powers cause nothing but problems despite his good intentions.
References:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/Gladiator
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladiator_(novel)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

711

In my "Brickbat" post, I mentioned the hero 711. So, let me explain who 711 is. This superhero, by the way, is in public domain.
Biography
District Attorney Daniel Dyce had a friend Jacob Horn (who looks like as if he was Dyce's exact twin). Jacob was thrown into prison, but wanted to see the birth of his child. So, Daniel took Jacob's place. However, Jacob was in a car crash and got killed thus causing Daniel to be stuck in prison. Daniel tunnel out of out his cell, but returned. Every night, he escaped prison, fight crime and return before morning. He adopted his prisoner number, # 711, as his superhero name. 711 has no powers and mostly fought gangsters, but also fought the super villain Brickbat.  Two years later, mob boss Oscar Jones killed 711. The superhero Destiny worked to avenge 711's death.
References:
http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/711

Friday, July 12, 2013

Shaloman

Shaloman was a superhero created by Al Wiesner. He did so because felt there weren't a lot of Jewish superheroes that were also role-models. Shaloman hasn't been in print since 2012.
History
Three wise men (not the ones you are thinking of) decided to use magic to give a Shin (a Hebrew letter)-shaped rock the power to become Shaloman. Shaloman's goal is to fight evil. As such, when the innocent call out for help (usually "Ov vey!"), the rock into the superhero Shaloman. He has a sidekick Shalomboy, a boy with bionic limbs. 
Powers
He has super strength, invulnerability and flight. He can survive in the vacuum of space. He is fast enough to create vortexes. He has "sensor vision" (a mix of night and telescopic vision). He has super hearing that is strong enough to hear enough in the world when he is above it. He displayed telepathy, but it only was used / mentioned in a single issue. In one issue, he encountered a substance, called "She-nite", which hasn't been seen since.
References:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jack-in-the-Box

I decided to talk about more Astro City characters. However unlike Leo (who appeared in one issue), Jack-in-the-Box(es) are major characters.
Biography
Jack Johnson was an African American working at a toy company, Whamco, in the 1960s. However, he was a victim of racism. When he discovered that his toys were being used for criminal purposes, Jack protested. His boss fired him and kidnapped his dad. Jack became the superhero, Jack-in-the-Box, to save him. After he defeated Whamco and freed his dad, Jack decided to remain a superhero. He married and had a son, Zachary Johnson. The villain Underlord finally managed to kill Jack when he was caught in an explosion. Underlord was assumed dead, but was actually alive.
Zachary Johnson was the son of the original Jack-in-the-Box. After his mother died, Zachary discovered Jack's superhero identity and stuff when he was looking through their stuff with the intent to sell it. Figuring out Underlord was alive, he became the second Jack-in-the-Box (wearing an identical costume). Despite Zack lying by saying he was the original, the public questioned if this Jack-in-the-Box was the same or a new one. Zack took down the Underlord. He remained a hero and became a toy company owner. Zack married television news personality Tamra Dixon and told her of his alter ego. Zack encountered Box and Jackson, who are his son from two possible futures. Tamra told him they were going to have a child. Wanting to avoid his son becoming Box or Jackson, he decided to train Roscoe James (the Trouble Boy founder) to become Jack-in-the-Box III.
Roscoe James was a founder of the Trouble Boys (a gang that helps Jack-in-the-Box). He became a friend of Jack-in-the-Box II. Zack offered Roscoe a chance to become Jack-in-the-Box. Roscoe was seen defeating Brass Monkey.
Abilities
All the Jack-in-the-Boxes had similar abilities and weapons. They all were extremely acrobatic and agile. They were deductive and inventive with the exception of Roscoe.
They all used the same weapons. They had "handsprings" and "footapaults", boots and gloves that can extend themselves. In the case of the footapaults, this can launch the user into the air or acts a stilts. They have entangling streamers, which act like Spider-Man's web-fluid. They has "electro-noses", which are noses when placed on people shock them until they are unconscious.
Supporting Characters
  • Tamra Dixon- She is an anchorwoman for Channel 3's Morning News. She is also the wife of Jack-in-the-Box II. 
  • Trouble Boys- They are an athletic group that was founded by Roscoe James. They try to help Zack, but also sometimes complicates situations according to Zack. 
  • Jerome Johnson- He is a possible future version of Zach's son. Unlike Box and Jackson, he is stable individual. He is a college professor.
Enemies
  • The Box- He is a version of Zack's son from a possible future. When he discovered his dad (who had died) was a hero, he turned himself into a cyborg with robotic legs and an arm with a killer puppet in order to fight crime. He killed criminals mercilessly. He went back in time to kill Jack for not stopping enough crime in his time, but was by Jack captured via a magent. The effect of time travel wore off and he was sent back.
  • Jackson- He is a version of Zack's son from another possible future. He was raised by a cult called the Brothers of Troubles. He misinterperted his father's wisecracks as domga and thought he was a murderous superhero. Wanting to live up his father's legacy, he mutated to have claws, acid-emitting veins and possibly super agility and became a murderous superhero. He went back in time and tried to kill Jack for not living up to his expections. However, Jack froze him and he was sent back to the future when the time travelling wore off. 
  • Prospero- He is an incarcerated villain.
  • Brass Monkey- He was a normal human. However, his mind was transferred into a metal statue of a monkey. He appears to be super strong and durable. He has henchmen called Gorilla Men.
  • The Deacon- He is the head of crime families in Astro City. However, he avoided actually being convicted for his various crimes.
  • Steeljack- He was a criminal and Terrifying Three member that fought Jack-in-the-Box I. However, he eventually gave up his criminal ways.
  • "Eyes" Eisenstein- He is a small-time crook that accidentally figured out Zack was Jack-in-the-Box. He ultimately fled the city due to his paranoia.
  • Middleman- He is a gunrunner and smuggler. 
  • Human Weasel- He is a villain inspired by the song Pop Goes the Weasel. As his name suggests, his has a weasel-like appearance. He has short stature.
  • Junkman- He is aged villain who lost his job because of his age. The latter being his motive to commit crimes. He used gadgets built out of discarded garbage.  
  • Smokes and Mirrors- He is a villain that has illusion-creating powers. However, he was incarcerated.
  • The Underlord- He was a villain that killed Jack-in-the-Box I, but Jack-in-the-Box II defeated him.
References
Astro City: Family Album TBP
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack-in-the-Box_(Astro_City)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wendy and Marvin

Some readers may remember the Super Friends cartoon. In that cartoon were two tag-a-long kids Wendy and Marvin. While the cartoon revealed very little about them, the comic versions of them revealed much more about them.
Super Friends
Wendy and Marvin first appeared in the Super Friends cartoon and their back story was fleshed out in the comics published at the time. Wendy Harris and Marvin White were two kids that hanged around with the Justice League (the actual team isn't called the Super Friends) because Wendy is the niece of a friend of Batman and Marvin is the son of Diana Prince (a nurse who Wonder Women took her name from). The League tried to teach them how to be superheroes. Marvin and Wendy had a pet, Wonder Dog. Both Marvin and Wonder Dog were portrayed as intelligent, but bumbling. Because The All-New Super Friends Hour (the follow-up to the Super Friends) replaced the duo with the Wonder twin, the comics explained Marvin went to Ivy University (with the superhero Atom being a professor). Wendy went to Paraside Island and attended an Amazon university. However in the comics, they helped the Wonder Twins at least once.
DC Universe
In 2006, Wendy and Marvin were introduce into DC canon. The pair are twins (with the surname "Harris") and caretakers of Titans Towers. They helped repaired Cyborg after he was damaged. "Wonder Dog", a demonic monster in the form of a stray dog, killed Marvin and wounded Wendy. It is revealed the villain Calculator is their father and blamed the Titans for what happened to them. Kid Eternity summoned Marvin's soul, who tells Eternity to not work with the Titans since many of their members died. Later, the Calculator used alien technology to save Wendy, but it left her unable to use her legs. She befriended the similarly-disabled super heroine Oracle and eventually decided to act a junior version of Oracle called "Proxy".
Powers
In Super Friends, Wendy and Marvin have no powers. However, they had rely on resourcefulness and cleverness to make up for their lack of powers. Their pet, Wonder Dog, seemed to possesse human-level intelligence. He was capable of human speak and expressions.
In the DC universe, they are technical geniuses. Ravager claims they have "tenth-level geniuses" (a reference Brainiac and Brainiac 5 who are described as having twelfth-level intelligence). They were able to repair Cyborg and give him new capabilities.
References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_and_Marvin

Monday, July 8, 2013

Soon I Will Be Invincible

Soon I Will Be Invincible is a novel by Austin Grossman. The novel parodies tropes associated with comic book superheroes.
Plot
The world's greatest hero, CoreFire, disappeared. The (New) Champions started investigating and bring in two new heroes Fatale and Lily. The heroes think Doctor Impossible, CoreFire's archenemy, did something to CoreFire despite the fact he was in prison. When two newbie superheroes investigated him, Doctor Impossible escaped and decided to start his 13th attempt to take over the world. The New Champions became convinced Doctor Impossible is responsible (although he isn't). Doctor Impossible went on a quest to find the materials he need for his plans while evading the New Champions. Fatale felt like she was unworthy of replacing CoreFire, but ended up earning her teammate's respect. CoreFire was found dead. During her investigation, Fatale discovered Doctor Impossible was the one who made her a cyborg. Lily had a fallout with team and left. Doctor Impossible enacted his plan: by moving the orbit of the Earth, he will create a new ice age and become the Earth's only source of power. He captured the New Champions and CoreFire (who faked his death). However, Doctor Impossible was defeated by Lily, who freed the team. The book ends with Doctor Impossible planning his next escape plan.
Characters
  • Doctor Impossible- He is one of the narrators. He is a mad scientist that has super strength and durability. He hates CoreFire since the accident that gave CF his power ruined the Doctor's carrier. The novel chronicles his 13th attempt to take over the world. He suffers from "Malign Hypercognition Disorder", which compels him to do evil. He hates magic since it cannot be scientifically explained.
  • CoreFire- He is a founding member of the Champions and current member of the New Champions. Jason was a jock that accidentally exposed to zeta-radiation by future Doctor Impossible. The accident gave him Superman-like powers. He faked his death after the B-list villain Pharaoh nearly killed him. 
  • Lily- She is a member of the New Champions. She use to be Erica Lowenstein (a Lois Lane stand-in Doctor Impossible would kidnapped) until she gained super strength, invulnerability and transparent skin. She claims she is from the future and went back in time to stop an ecological disaster. She isn't.
  • Fatale- She is the other narrator and member of the New Champions. She is a cyborg due to getting implants after a near-death accident. She feels out of place being with the legendary members of the rest of the team. She use to work of the NSA.
  • Damsel- She is the leader of the New Champions and former leader of the Champions. She is a clone of a golden age hero sliced with genes of an alien princess (although most people just assume she is simply their daughter). She has a force field, flight, super strength and micro-vision.
  • Blackwolf- He is a founding member of Champions and members of the New Champions. He is a non-powered superhero that has an athletic-physique. He became a superhero after his parents died. He is also the head of a corporation. He is mildly autistic.
  • Elphin- She is a member of the New Champions and was a member of the Champions. She is the last fairy on Earth. Despite being centuries old, she looks like a teenager with wings. She is super fast, super strong, nature-manipulating powers and a magic spear. She also cannot touch cold iron. 
  • Rainbow Triumph- She is a member of the New Champions. She is a teen girl with bio tech implants that give her several physical powers such as super speed. She has to take special medicine every couple of hours. 
  • Mr. Mystic- He is a member of the New Champions. He dresses like a stage magician. His powers are never defined. He proves completely superficial to the plot.
  • Feral- He is a member of the New Champions and was a member of the Champions. He is a literal cat man. 
Style
The story has 21 chapters. The chapters switches between the super heroine Fatale and super villain Doctor Impossible. While the book uses comic book cliches, the cliches are used in realistic and unusual fashions, For example, the super villains are portrayed as simply being people that reject social norms. The book also deconstructs the superhero genre. For example, the New Champions treat their superhero work as routine and normal everyday occurrences. Each of the chapters are references to cliches or famous superheroes teams such as "Foiled Again" and "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" (the Avengers).
References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soon_I_Will_Be_Invincible
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brick Bat

We have talked a lot of public domain superheroes. Here is a public domain super villain.
Biography
Brick Bat was a nighttime robber. He got his bricks from scientist and killed him to prevent anyone else from getting them. He quickly went on a crime spree and killed anyone that got in his way. For some reason, he decided to wear a Batman cowl and wears a trench coat. He was stopped by the public domain superhero 711.
Abilities
He has special bricks as weapons. When thrown, the bricks turn into a form of poisonous gas. However, this gas leaves no trace after it is used.
Name
"Brickbat" is a term for a piece of brick that is used for a weapon. It can also refer to a criticism or unfavorable remark.
References:
http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/Brick_Bat
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/brickbat

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Loony Leo

Astro City is an amazing comic that explores superhero tropes in unusual fashions. So, whom I am going talk about? A cartoon lion brought to life by a mad scientist.
History
In 1946, Professor Borzoi used his "Belief Ray" to harness the audience's belief in the movie's monster to bring it to life in order to kill the Gentlemen (a Captain Marvel stand-in). However, the ray accidentally turned Leo, who was a character in a cartoon shown prior to the movie, into a real being. Leo helped destroyed the machine, but survived since everyone at the event believed in him enough. He became a friend of the Gentlemen and helped him fight a little crime. The studio that made the cartoons, Fago's Funny Features, sued him claiming he was their property. Realizing the bad PR they would get for enslaving a person that saved lives, they gave Leo his freedom and a film contract in exchange for the rights of his cartoons. Leo became the toast of the town until 1954, when his contract expired. He became a host on a kid show called "Loony Leo's Fun-Time Farm". Leo became entangled in scandal when he found a hooker killed by overdosing on drugs she bought with money Leo gave her. While he was found innocent in court, Leo was fired from his job. He wandered aimlessly for years and longed for death. The villain Zzardo convinced Leo to become the villain Myth-Master and claimed killing the Honor Guard (the Astro City version of the JLA) would drain the psychic energy that made Leo up thus killing him. Ultimately, he decided not to kill the Honor Guard at the last minute and turned in Zzardo to the authorities. The company Omniverse Pictures (who bought out Fago's Funny Features) bailed out Leo, because they wanted to show his cartoons and didn't want him to look bad. They gave him a little money so he wouldn't "turn up in the papers ... as a homeless bum" (Leo). After living in a house in Astro City, Leo met entrepreneurs, who convinced him to open a nostalgia restaurant called Loony Leo's. He hosts the restaurant by introducing the piano player and is a part-time owner. He also apparently lives at the restaurant after hours. We last see him agreeing to do some commercials for Toyota.
Powers and Abilities
He is immortal, but can still feel pain if he doesn't eat or is stuck in the cold. However, he never displayed any other powers associated with cartoon physics.
As the Myth-Master, he could bring to life fictional characters by draining away the psychic energy that made him up. However, Leo claimed this wouldn't kill him like Zzardo say it would. Presumably, this process involved the technology in his base since he didn't display this power before or after he had it.
Inspiration
Many of the characters from Astro City are either based on other superheroes or comic characters. Character-wise, Leo is based on Tawky Tawny, an anthropomorphic tiger that helped out Captain Marvel. Design-wise, he was inspired by Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca.
References:
Astro City: Family Album trade paperback
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawky_Tawny