Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Quiet, You Blithering Boob!

Ah, the American depiction of Britain . . .

Back in 1983, in the pages of Justice League Of America #210, the bad guys came a'calling to the shores of dear old Blighty bringing with them threats of death and destruction and some truly, truly terrible dialogue.

The story itself was not one of Gerry Conway's best: The Atom discovers Earth is running out of Element X which will cause untold disaster across the planet as fires won't light, rain won't fall, and the world will, as you can see from the cover, die screaming. Ready to take advantage of all this are a band of aliens called the Treasurers who, being the scheming capitalists that they are, offer to replenish the supply of Element X for a small fee.

And what better way of announcing your arrival than by crashing a bloody great space ship into Big Ben, years before Dr Who did it?

Actually, the Treasurers seem spoiled for choice as there appear to be not one but two Big Bens in that picture.

As dreadful as the story is, I couldn't help but laugh at the even worse dialogue that Conway places in the mouths of the Londoners.

First, for some reason only known to Conway, he has the character of Andy Capp appear in an issue of Justice League! Andy Capp! and not once, but twice as he's on the next page as well, accompanied by his long suffering wife Flo.

The bowler hatted gent - because everyone in London wears a bowler - comes out with "This is hardly cricket!" and then mentions that "the Yanks" have "dropped one on the moon" This is 1983! Fourteen years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon! Surely the surprise of that event must have worn off by now?!

Once the ship opens its doors and the Treasurers come out, someone in the crowd exclaims that they're riding "some sort of flashlight beam!"

Gerry, they're called torches over here, not flashlights, okay?

Somehow the bank clerk overheard the conversation in the street asking the Treasurers "if you aren't Yanks - then who are you?" proving that 1980's Londoners, in the grip of Yuppie fever, may not have had worthy dialogue but they could hear like nothing else!

As if building to some sort of cliche crescendo, Conway's next lines just get better and better. First another clerk warns the first that it "Won't do to lose the old stiff, upper lip, what?"

But that's not the best - this second clerk is hushed with the immortal line, "Quiet, you blithering boob!"

Marvelous, simply marvelous. I intend to use the phrase as often as I possible can from now on.

Friday, 21 March 2008

More Notes Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Just finished, and published, notes on Countdown issues #51 to #27 inclusive on The Annotated Final Crisis site.

With a bit of luck and an uninterrupted weekend, I hope to get notes on Countdown To Final Crisis issues #26 to this week's, #6, done as well.

And then there's the other Countdown tie-ins that need to be noted before Final Crisis #1 comes out in less than two months . . .

Why did I leave it so late, can anyone tell me?

** Edit ** Didn't see much point in a whole new post just to say that I've managed to get the notes up to and including Countdown To Final Crisis #6 out as well.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Martian Heat Ray

For once I had another post already planned - images scanned in and ready to go, rapier wit style observations (kinda) primed and waiting, poking gentle fun at the quirky little scenes I had found in an old copy of Justice League of America (I promise I'll start looking at other titles any time soon) when something else turned up in my feed reader.

I've mentioned before that I enjoy Salvation Run and last week's issue #5 was no different. All different kinds of crap hit the fan as the bad guys started battling each other in earnest and the League's favourite Martian Manhunter was caught in the middle of it. Having posed as Blockbuster in order to gain intelligence about what was happening to the villains, J'onn J'onnz has his cover blown by the self serving Catwoman. It's no surprise that the bad guys stop beating each other up and instead beat the crap out of J'onn.

What I obviously missed, though, was J'onn killing Metallo! In the heat of battle, I just figured he'd caused him some nasty damage but no, it's confirmed here on Matthew Sturges's blog. Check out the note for page 15.
Ouch, that's gotta hurt.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #17

I had a hard time choosing this week's Cocktail post (which I'm endeavouring to make a little more regular than they have been of late.)

Green Lantern Corps #22 seemed little more than a vague attempt to give Boodikka a background; Countdown To Final Crisis #7 was confusing to say the least, and not just because the heroes ended up on an Earth other than their own; Green Arrow And Black Canary #6 sported the gorgeous artwork of Cliff Chiang which, if I'm honest, is fast becoming the only reason I'm reading it; and JLA Classified #54 brought the series to a somewhat limping end.

Meanwhile, Countdown To Mystery #6, Lord Havok And The Extremists #5 and Salvation Run #5 were all in the running for the post and Booster Gold #7 almost pipped it but it was Suicide Squad #7 that really nailed it for me this week.

As I mentioned before, John Ostrander's writing on this series - once the somewhat laboured return of Rick Flag was out of the way - has been spot on and with the Squad in action and with just a single issue left, this is easily one of the best mini-series out there.

It's the turn of the bad guys again to steal the spot light as The General betrays the rest of the Squad with his fellow traitors at his command.

Not only can this issue be seen as a lesson in how to become a turncoat after laying some very careful plans, but it also reveals the sound someone's head makes when it is literally squeezed off their shoulders.

General Eiling's plans don't all go according to plan, though, as Plastique rejects his call to betray the Squad and instead informs Bronze Tiger of his intentions, just as another of Eiling's lackeys - Cliff Carmichael - takes control of Chemo, resulting in the death of Windfall. Carmichael himself, though, is quickly dispatched, leaving Chemo running wild.

With the Squad divided, it isn't long before the two sides are pitched against each other, fighting in the rubble as they wait to find out whether Flag and Deadshot have managed to find and kill the board.

That, in itself, may not be the easiest thing due to Deadshot having been partially blinded in one eye and having to deal with Marauder who, under Eiling's orders, is protecting the board.

Unlike some of the more recent events in - among other series - Countdown To Final Crisis - the deaths that take place in Suicide Squad seem much more believable. Ostrander isn't killing characters for the sake of it or to make a point or to try and create an event. These characters are dying because the story demands they do, and while it's a shame to see even the bad guys die, I can at least accept those deaths within the context of the story.

There's only one more issue to go and it's looking to be a corker but please, DC, give John Ostrander a monthly title again.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The League That Never Was

While hunting through my old copies of Who's Who, trying to track down the identity of a character in the hardback edition of Infinite Crisis, I came across this picture of the Justice League in Who's Who Update '87 #3.
With the relaunch of the title - after the less than brilliant Legends crossover - most of the old guard were swept away, not to mention the new guard that had recently replaced them in the first place.

By the time this issue saw print (cover date is Oct '87) most of the characters shown weren't even members of the League any more; hell, Captain Atom and the Creeper weren't even members at the time, Steel was literally in pieces and comatose and Vibe and the Flash were dead!

Given the lead in time on comics, I can't help wondering if this was put together almost as a wish list. Maybe it was drawn (by the excellent Kevin Maguire and Terry Austin) before the League's membership had been finalised . . . ?

In all likelihood, this was done simply for the two page spread in Who Who's Update '87 #3 and nothing more which is a shame. I for one would loved to have seen Vibe and Captain Marvel on the same team.


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