Superman’s Rash Solution

The Bottled City of Kandor

Today, in honor of Superman’s 75th anniversary, I’d like to share a story…

Not many people are aware of the fact that the Bottled City of Kandor actually uses kryponite-run nuclear reactors for power, and there is a (relatively) huge mass of the element beneath the city. Naturally, mining the ore can be very dangerous for those of Kryptonian descent, and early on even the best protective measures proved insufficient, as miners continued to develop terrible rashes even when wearing highly shielded suits. Superman ultimately solved the problem, of course, by developing a special cream which completely eradicated the rash and even had a mild pleasant scent. This salve is now sold in pharmacies in Kandor under the name “Kal-El Mine Lotion.”

Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week…

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CHASE ME (A Charming Animated Short)

Chase Me

This is for Nydia…

A lovely animated short from the creators of the classic Batman animated series, silent movie style, all elegant art and sleek action, with a great musical score.

Enjoy.

The Mother Fucking Space Marines

SPACE MARINES

So corporate bully boys Games Workshop are now insisting they own a trademark on the term “space marine,” which first appeared back in 1932 in the story “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” by Bob Olsen. They had a book by writer M.C.A Hogarth kicked off of Amazon for her use of this common, stock, standard, downright cliché science fiction trope.

From her blog:

Today I got an email from Amazon telling me they have stopped selling Spots the Space Marine because Games Workshop has accused me of infringement on their trademark of the word ‘space marine’.

If you go to the Trademarks Database and look up the word “space marine” you’ll find the Games Workshop owns a trademark on the term “space marine,” but it only covers the follow goods and services: IC 028. US 022. G & S: board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith.

Fiction isn’t included in that list, which means Games Workshop has no grounds on which to accuse me of trademark infringement.

I didn’t get my use of that term from Games Workshop. I got it from Robert Heinlein. Apparently the first use of the term was in 1932. E.E. Smith used it, among others. Also there are other novels on Amazon being sold that have “space marine” in the title. I don’t know why Games Workshop decided to complain about Spots in particular, but my guess is because the Kickstarter made it a little higher-profile than the average indie offering.

This is as bad as Marvel and DC Comics conspiring to share a trademark on the term “superhero,” barring all others from using it. It’s pointless and ridiculous and downright unfriendly to the creative community at large.

As for Games Workshop? Fuck those guys.

(Note: Like that cool pulpy cover I posted up there? You can make your own with the Pulp-O-Mizer at Bradley Schenck’s Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual website, which is a very cool place to visit…)

I’m Reading DC’s “New 52″ Comics (Part 2)

Thousands of readers haven’t battered me with messages asking what happened to my reviews of DC Comics’s “New 52” which I launched here. For those thousands, and the millions who also didn’t mention it, I figured an update was the least I could do.

Frankly, I burned out quickly. Writing even capsule reviews of all these comics proved a more tedious task than anticipated, especially as I started trying to read some of the bad ones. The first I read that I didn’t even remotely enjoy was Men of War, which was half a pound of machismo in a hundred pound box of don’t-know-what-manhood-is. It also tried to embrace the heroism of the military at the same time as it told us the best soldiers aren’t soldiers at all but bold individuals who ignore orders and thus always save the day. Crap.

But it wasn’t until I tried to read Legion Lost that I couldn’t even finish one of the comics. It wasn’t really bad, it was just there. Nothing about the thing, neither story nor art, was remotely compelling. It was basic, serviceable superhero fare, and I described it to a friend as “what people who have no respect for comics expect comics to be at their best.”

I lack the fortitude to force my way through all these books and bother saying anything about them. If you’re interested in reviews, though, the net is full of ’em. I’ve been enjoying Erik Mona’s thoughtful reviews which put my paltry earlier offerings to shame (even though he enjoyed the war comic). You can find them at his blog.

Now don’t get me wrong, the New 52 isn’t a failure, either creatively or financially (as a publicity stunt, it boosted DC’s sales a great deal). There are a lot of problems with it, from really shaky chronological consistency to some really egregious institutionalized misogyny. Also, Rob Liefeld.

But there are some good ideas too, and I particularly enjoyed the treatment of the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Each of their titles starts off strong, and I’ll be staying with those and a few others in the months ahead.

I’m Reading DC’s “New 52” Comics (Part 1)

As you may or may not know, this month DC Comics relaunched its entire line of superhero titles with a batch of 52 comics all starting at issue #1.

They’re doing this in a bid to increase their readership and market share in a time when comic sales are declining. They’re also fully embracing the digital market for the first time (something neither they nor Marvel have done previously), with every title available digitally on the day of release.

Creatively, they’ve decided to reset the timeline of the stories. The characters are (mostly) younger now, operating earlier in their careers. Some of the previous canon of events are still considered to have occurred (Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon was shot by the Joker, paralyzing her; Superman died and came back in that ludicrous Doomsday storyline used in a previous desperate bid for publicity), some did not (Superman hasn’t married Lois Lane). The mish-mash of what officially happened and didn’t happen, and when, is implicitly perilous to the goal of solid continuity for the DC universe, and could easily spin out of control as everything is juggled by the many creators involved.

The first batch of titles is out, and I’ve read them. Here are my impressions: Continue reading