Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Permission to come aboard?

When it comes to the work of Will Eisner — whether you're talking about The Spirit, his New York stories or his final masterpiece, The Plot — it's fair to say the comics legend was always trying to pass a little lesson on to his readers.

So what was one of the nuggets of wisdom Eisner shared with his early Sunday strip, Hawks of the Sea?

Just because you're a pirate doesn't mean you can't be polite:

Bahlactus always says "please" and "thank you" (and "stay down").

Following a link? Read more of Great Caesar's Post here!

Panels from Hawks of the Seas Vol. 1
Will Eisner, writer/artist (as Willis B. Rensie)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And worth every sheckel!

Click to giant-size!

So I guess we can assume Stan the Man was writing the ad copy, too. But y'know, if you want to get readers interested in a new line of comics, cramming in Spider-Man, the Human Torch and Dracula is exactly how you do it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Pull List (5-29-08): That's a whole lotta Morrison

Holy crap! Three different books by Grant Morrison coming out in the same week, along with some of my favorite ongoing titles?! Let's just say that if my weekly comic budget was a diet, I'd be stuffing my face with cupcakes and spare ribs ... delicious, delicious spare ribs.

Who else is hungry? To the list!

It's no secret Grant Morrison is one of my favorite writers, so when he's the source of three fairly significant titles coming out at the same time, it's kind of a big deal. Big enough that the only way I can wrap my mind around it is to squeeze All Star Superman #11, Batman #677 and Final Crisis #1 into one big lump of weirdo goodness.

All Star Superman has been a consistently strong title, re-energizing Superman with plenty of Morrison's hyper-modern, out-there concepts while fondly touching on iconic characters, locations and scenarios. There is nothing about AS Superman that doesn't feel as if it's solidly two minutes in the future, but at the same time it is nicely familiar and exceptionally inviting. A lot of the credit for that goes to the characterization of Superman himself, who is portrayed as the ideal hero who, essentially, is just trying to be the best person he can be. I have no idea if Morrison will revisit his version of Superman once this storyline ends with the next issue, but if not, at least I'll be able to reread and enjoy what will be considered a landmark Superman story.

As if that weren't enough, Morrison is also the writer for Batman #677 (part of the Batman R.I.P. story) and Final Crisis #1. Morrison writes an interesting Batman, and more importantly an interesting Bruce Wayne, so I'm curious to see where he takes things. Final Crisis is supposed to be the definitive wrap-up to the whole Infinite Crisis-52-Countdown thing, but really sounds more like it ties into his excellent (and mind-bending) Seven Soldiers "mega-series." Personally, that sounds A-OK to me and makes me care more about a story I might have chosen to ignore instead.

The rest ...

Giant-size Astonishing X-Men #1: The finale to Joss Whedon's big ol' X-Men in Space story.

Blue Beetle #27: Another issue written by pinch-hitters while the title transitions to a new, permanent creative team in July. Also — more Traci Thirteen.

Daredevil #107: Great crime-noir driven stuff every month about Marvel's mopiest superhero. It's the start of a new storyline, so try jumping on if you haven't already.

Immortal Iron Fist #15: Not only has the regular storyline been a fantastic blend of mystic kung-fu, superhero scenery chewing and sinister political machinations (not to mention a super-sumo named Fat Cobra), but the occasional looks at the Iron Fists of the past have been a highlight of this series. It's a clever way at deepening the legend of the Iron Fist and helps give Danny Rand an honest-to-God legacy; it also gives us titles like, "The Story of the Iron Fist Bei Bang-Wen — The Perfect Strategy Mind and his Miraculous Travels to the Dark Continent, and What Mysteries of the World and of the Self that He Learned There (1827-1860)."

Trading up ...
(Titles I either am, or will be, picking up in trade)

Fables #73

Green Lantern #31

Thor #9

Maybe ...

Firebreather #1

Zombie Tales #1

Beyond #1

Recommended ...

Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven (hardcover)

Jack Kirby's OMAC: One Man Army Corps (hardcover)

The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (trade paperback)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stop Talking About Comics or I'll Kill You

Laying in bed this morning, trying to find the will to get up and get ready for work, I was half-listening to the clock-radio when a sudden thought surfaced in my sleepy head:


The local "we play anything" station had just started "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies, a song so crammed with auctioneer-style lyrics that I'd never bothered to learn the words. But I could've sworn the singer said something about Aquaman, and a quick Google check later confirmed the band's Curry name-dropping (Sailor Moon's mentioned, too). And now that I was awake I started wondering; how many songs mention superheroes, anyway?

Off the top of my head (and showing my age), I was able to come up with:

• "Land of Confusion" — Genesis

• "Sunshine Superman" — Donovan

• "Iron Man" — Black Sabbath

• "Kryptonite" — 3 Doors Down

• "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" — Jim Croce

• "Catch Me Now (I'm Falling)" — The Kinks

• "The Ballad of Barry Allen" — Jim's Big Ego

• "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" — Spin Doctors

• "In the Garage" — Weezer

And a bunch of songs by Ookla the Mok including "Arthur Curry," "Theme From Super Skrull" and — of course — "Stop Talking About Comics or I'll Kill You."

I know I'm missing a lot of songs, so I put it to you, Internets: What's your favorite superhero song? I'm a little embarrassed that there aren't any rap songs in my mental checklist, and I'm curious whether there are any country-comic songs out there, so let me know.

But wait — there are rules! I'm looking for songs that explicitly name a hero (or at least alludes so much that there can't be any confusion), cartoon or TV show themes don't count (sorry, Spider-Man theme), and neither do accidental mentions of comic book characters (sorry, "Ghost Riders in the Sky").

Other than that — let's hear it!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Cutting through the red tape

In near-future Japan, military and tactical expertise will be kicking butt on near-Gibsonian levels thanks to nanotechnology, cyborg soldiers and neuro-networked weaponry.

Unfortunately, researchers will still be trying to find a cure for bureaucracy.

Click to upper-management size!

Luckily Major Motoko Kusanagi — the leader of an elite military unit answering directly to the Minister of Internal Affairs — knows a little something about inter-departmental diplomacy:

One ...


Bahlactus has his own idea of "negotiation."

Following a link? Read more Great Caesar's Post here!

Panels from Ghost in the Shell, Vol. 1
Masamune Shirow, writer/artist

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kirby and The New Yorker's familiar Tale

Plagiarism is nothing new in the world of publishing, and we all know that comic creators not getting their due is an original sin as old as the industry itself. But if you're going to rip someone off at least have the smarts not to ape someone as well-known as JACK FREAKIN' KIRBY!

According to the New York Post, a cartoon published in The New Yorker for its Cartoon Caption Contest wasn't meant to be a rip-off, even though it looks like a straight lift from 1962's Tales to Astonish #34. After contacting artist Harry Bliss, the magazine says the image was supposed to be a "tribute" to the original — and iconic — "Monster at My Window" cover by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.

The magazine is trying to fix things by having the Web site credit updated to read, "Drawing by Harry Bliss, after Jack Kirby," and normally this wouldn't bother me all that much — people try their hand at referencing Kirby all the time, with varying degrees of success.

But there are a couple of things that bug me about this episode. First, Bliss' image goes beyond a simple reference or mimicking of style. The monster, the background, practically the same guy in the window — there is nothing original about it. Secondly, this quote from the New Yorker spokesperson jumped out at me:

"Harry did it with all good intentions. He thought it was an overt reference, and not an attempt to plagiarize. He thought it was a tribute," Cassanos said. "To people in the comic world, it's a recognizable image."

Sure, comic book fans and people in the industry would recognize the reference (or at the very least, the style), but what about all the other people who read The New Yorker who aren't comic book fans? The majority of whom, I would guess, are not hardcore comics geeks. It seems a little disingenuous of the magazine to offer up the pretense that the average New Yorker reader would instantly realize the image was based on someone else's original work. Generally speaking, it is an "overt reference," but that doesn't necessarily make it a "recognizable image."

I don't think Bliss composed his cartoon with any malicious intent — but if he's enough of a fan to draw something as an homage to Jack Kirby, he should also have enough respect to give him the credit he deserves.

What do you think?

Panels taken from the New York Post Web site

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WTF Wednesday: ... and let slip the frogs of war!

If someone caught their spouse sucking face with their new "business partner" in their own driveway, most people would either start fightin', start drinkin' or start looking through the Yellow Pages for some good ... um, lawyerin'.

So what does The Atom do? Naturally he goes to the Amazon, saddles up some frogs and becomes the barbarian leader of the Tiniest Rebellion Ever.

Click to bullfrog-size!

This isn't even the craziest thing to happen in this mini-series (that would be Jean); check out The Absorbascon for the whole story!

Panel from Sword of the Atom #4 (of 4)
Jan Strnad, writer; Gil Kane, artist

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cover Up: The Flash #345

I don't know what it is exactly, but I've always loved the cover to The Flash #345.

Click the image — quick!

At the time, seeing something like this on the stands was shocking, especially to a fan of The Flash. I hadn't been collecting comics regularly at the time — I was around 15, perpetually broke and dependent on the diabolical whimsy of the convenience store spinner rack — so I had no idea what was going on. But apparently, The Flash was on trial and someone was unmasking him in court! Holy Hannah!!

The entire storyline spanned 75 issues, and went from the Reverse-Flash murdering Iris (Flash's wife), to Barry Allen's eventual emotional recovery and engagement to Fiona Webb, then to the Flash killing Reverse-Flash in an effort to save Fiona from his late wife's fate! All this was followed up by some lengthy courtroom drama that had all the frothy hallmarks of a soap opera; shadowy figures, a relentless cop out for the truth, plastic surgery, secrets revealed and, of course, dramatic unmaskings.

This cover by Carmine Infantino super-concentrates all of that with a no-frills image, and would be the sort of thing you might see on an old romance comic. The extreme close-up puts your attention right on the drama, which is shared by the people in the background. And while word balloons on covers can really be overdone, this one just helps sell the whole dun-dun-DUNNNN! of the scene. I really like some of the visual cues in this image too, including the flat, brown background that gives the sense of a wood-paneled courtroom, and the wrinkled fabric of The Flash's mask that lets you know you're just seconds away from seeing his secret identity blown. Pretty exciting stuff for such a simple image!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Hope you saved room for seconds

Whether it's a meal out with friends, a romantic dinner shared with that special someone, or even just a relaxed supper at home, it's always nice to have a little music to set the mood.

Personally, I've found one specific kind of music suits even the pickiest palates, something that helps any meal go down the way it should.


(Whether he's dropping rhymes or dropping chumps, we all know Bahlactus is the hardest metal known to man.)

Following a link? Read more Great Caesar's Post here!

Panel from Black Metal Vol. 1
Rick Spears, writer; Chuck BB, artist

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Help! Cooky La Moo's escaped from the movie sign!

I know I've gone on about Gail Simone and the good job she's been doing on Wonder Woman, but I jumped the gun when I said she was the first writer to really make Diana an interesting and accessible character. I completely forgot about the unknown copywriter for Hostess Twinkies and the breakout villain of 1977 — Cooky La Moo!

Funny, I never realized 60 foot-tall, leggy blondes were considered "grotesque." The whole skinny model thing has finally gone too far when giant mockeries of life are considered icky.

Who the hell's Steve Howard? Still, at least three people are shouting out the same complex phrase in unison, and that's awesome.


Heeyyyy, wait a minute! It was actually STEVE who saved the day, him and his ginormous Twinkies! Which is a good thing, because judging by her last bit of dialog Wonder Woman must be completely wasted.

Just like that guy in the corner talking to his Twinkie.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WTF Wednesday: Does that come with an attachment?

The Vision, Avenger and husband to the Scarlet Witch, is a synthozoid, right? An artificial man, an android, a fancy-pants robot? OK, then I have a question about this panel:



Panel from Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1

Bill Mantlo, writer; Rick Leonardi, artist; Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, inkers

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Pull List (5-14-08): You had me at 'Rocket Racoon'

Free time has been scarce the past couple of days, but there sure seem to be plenty of interesting comics hitting the shelves so let's do this quick-and-dirty — to the list!

This week ...

Guardians of the Galaxy #1: This is the book I'm most looking forward to this week. The folks who put the Annihilation storylines together took all the elements of Marvel's trippy history with the cosmic, entertainingly and intelligently wrapped a couple of massive space-opera style adventure stories around it all, and reintroduced characters that readers fell in love with all over again. And blew stuff up. And brought back a beloved, gun-toting, talking space-raccoon. And now it's all together in a regular monthly with the express intent of forming not a peace-keeping force, but "an ass-kicking force?" Sign me up. You go check out the preview.

Booster Gold #9: This slice of time-traveling hoo-hah continues to be fun, even if I get the feeling Ted's not going to be sticking around much longer. Or is it just me? Either way, I'm enjoying the current storyline but will be glad when it drops the revisit to 52 and gets back to Booster hanging out with Jonah Hex and rear-ending Flash in the time-stream. Geez, that still sounds dirty. Hey look, a preview!

Cthulhu Tales #2: The first issue in this new monthly anthology wasn't the strongest debut, but it was interesting enough to bring me back for the second. Plus I've got strong love for the Cthulhu Mythos so I'm willing to give it time to find its rhythm.

North Wind #5 (of 5): Is it me, or did this start feeling a little rushed? I really like the concept — a post-apocalyptic world that includes a frozen Los Angeles and a man riding a white bison — but it smacks of a slam-bang action movie that decided to ignore the middle of the script in favor of getting to the explosions already. The final issue will either redeem this title for me and match the promise of the first few issues, or will really piss me off. Fingers crossed.

Wonder Woman #20: Where do you go after Wonder Woman in Space? I don't know, but as long as Gail Simone is leading, I'll follow. Simone has reinvigorated this title since she took over as writer, and it's gone from a book I managed to ignore for years to one that is something I look forward to each month. Go read the preview and you'll see what I mean.

Zorro #3: I've always loved the Zorro character, and it's nice to see him getting the Matt Wagner treatment, but here's hoping the story picks up a little. It's interesting, and the art is OK, but I'm still not convinced it won't work better in trade. This issue will be the one that decides whether or not it stays on the monthly list.

Trading up ...
(Titles I either am, or will be, picking up in trade)

Casanova #14

Green Lantern Vol. 1: No Fear

Green Lantern Corps #24

Life Sucks (hardcover): First Second is one of my favorite publishers and consistently puts out better-than-average books that I'm always eager to read — the fact they've somehow made me interested in yet another book about vampires should be proof of that. Vampires!

Maybe ...

All-New Iron Manual #1: It's obviously pandering and an attempt to manipulate people excited by the movie ... but I do still love that Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Book of Weapons, Hardware and Paraphernalia ... dammit!

Batman #676: Urgh — Grant Morrison on the one hand, a "comic book event" spinning off into a handful of different titles on the other ... why don't you guys look at the preview and let me know what you think.

Giant-Size Incredible Hulk: A super-sized special highlighting past Hulk stories sounds awesome, but using the plot device of someone writing a book and interviewing "Hulk survivors" sounds a little bit too much like a Front Line thing. Hopefully the interview scenes are used to bridge the older stories, but if they're not then this one will probably be staying on the shelf.

The Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs #1 (of 4): Ha ha ha haaa! No, not really! The art's humdrum, the writing feels forced and it's really just a bald marketing effort to get attention for the sequel to a movie that's taken more than 20 years to make. Tighten up your mullet-perm and download the preview if you've got the strength, but forget vampires — it's nostalgia that's deadly.

Sky Doll #1: I really want to support this comic (and the other comics Marvel is planning to republish from French publisher Soleil), but at twice the cover price of the average comic I think this one might have to wait until it's in trade. This might totally change once I see it in the shop though, 'cause I'm fickle that way.

Recommended ...

Booster Gold Vol. 1: 52 Pick-Up (hardcover)

Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace Vol. 1, 1951-1952

What's on your list this week?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Night Fights: And disaster walked right up and kissed him

Thanks to the musical, the movie and the legions of maniacally plucky young girls belting out "Tomorrow" over the years, it's easy to forget a couple of things about Little Orphan Annie:

1. She's an orphan.

2. She's an orphan from the streets.

What does that mean? It means Annie will hard-knock the life right out of you.

Oh, Annie — you're adorable! (Even Bahlactus would think so!)

Following a link? Read more of Great Caesar's Post here.

Panels from Comic Strip Masterpieces sampler
Harold Gray, writer/artist

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Comics in the Wild: Iron Men Down Through the Ages

Click for full-size metal!

I found this drawing on a dry-erase board outside of the Austin Community College-Northridge student lounge a few days ago, and the more I looked at it the more amazed I was at the detail. The Iron Man designs for 1964 through the present are right on, and it looks like the whole thing was done with just four markers. I can't even make a list on my dry-erase board without it getting smudgey.

Besides, it's just kinda funny, what with the Futurama/IronMan/Ozzy mash-up going on (with a little Spider-Man reference thrown in for good measure). I'd love to give the artist credit but he or she did everything except sign their name, so if anyone in Austin has a line on who drew this, let me know.

OK, now I gotta go crank up the Sabbath!

Edit to add: Whoops! I just noticed you can't read the Spider-Man reference in the photo; in the last frame Bender is singing, "Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an Iron can ..." Of course he's also holding a bottle of booze, which makes sense any way you look at it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

WTF Wednesday: Suddenly, the horse's name makes sense

Watching Gumby on TV when I was a kid, I always thought the whole concept of a little boy made of clay and the surreal world he called home was a little weird. Neat, but weird.

Man, that was NOTHING compared to the comic book.

Sure, the first series of all-ages stories has been getting great reviews, and it even won an Eisner, but that doesn't mean it's not ca-raaaazy. In the Free Comic Book Day issue, Gumby has accidentally infected himself with a computer worm. Luckily his pal Pokey finds an ad in a comic that leads them to a mad scientist. And like all geniuses who live in midtown castles, he has a solution: Chiseling off a chunk of Gumby, which will become a smaller Gumby that Gumby can then swallow so it can find and get rid of the computer worm inside Gumby.


So Little Gumby takes the plunge solo ... or does he?

Gumby should be glad it wasn't Prickle.

Panel from Gumby (Free Comic Book Day issue)
Mike Hersh and Mel Smith, writers/plotters; Lance Borde, artist

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I (heart) Chris Sims

Yes, that's right — I have total novela-style man-love for Sims today, because over at the Invincible Super-Blog he's got the smartest and funniest response to a racist moron you could hope for — que chistoso!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cover Up: Batman: Year 100 #3

I had fun doing this last week, so I'm doing it again! I'm even considering making it a regular feature, so let me know what you think.

Now, Paul Pope has a drawing style that's like a thumb print or Barry White's voice — it's easily recognizable and there's no way it could be mistaken for anyone else. His work is, simply, unique.

In 2006 I was already a fan of Pope's squiggly, sketchy and kinetic work (it reminds me of watching someone hyperactively fidget around a room, occasionally stopping to breathe heavily on the edge of the couch), but I wouldn't have been sure it would be a good fit for something like Batman.

But then Batman: Year 100 came out and it kicked my skepticism right in the ass, starting with the covers for this four-issue mini-series.

Click for larger size!

All them are good, but my favorite is the cover to Batman:Year 100 #3. So dark it almost takes a second to register Batman sitting in the middle of it, the cover blends Pope's near-future cyberpunk aesthetic with the "man in the shadows" imagery we've all come to associate with our favorite Dark Knight. There's some grit to it, and a definite sense of speed and urgency and danger — even though all you see is Batman on his motorcycle, you can tell he's being chased.

I also like the tinge of red on the string of out-of-focus lights in the background, giving the subtle impression of a line of cop cars in the distance (we can thank colorist Jose Villarrubia for that). And the long arcs of electricity streaming off and away from the Bat-cycle also give it an undeniable energy.

This cover says a lot with a little, and that says plenty about Pope's skill with detail and tight, highly focused scenes. (Oh, and one more thing: That logo designed by RINZEN rocks my world. It's wildly stylized and almost looks like a graffiti tag, but also gives a nod to the spread-wing designs of the old Detective Comics and 1960s TV show logos. Pretty cool.)

What do you think?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Can't talk ...

... I'm reading a stack of free comics! And then later I'm going to see Iron Man, so today is like some sort of comic geek's perfect storm.

Austin Books and Comics, my awesome LCS, had a limit of 10 comics per person but the pile's a little bigger than that since my wife went with me and basically picked up whatever I didn't. Here's what I'm working my way through, in no particular order:


Owly and Friends!

Walt Disney's Gyro Gearloose

Archie's Pal Jughead

Hellboy: The Mole


The Moth

Atomic Robo

Graphic Classics

EC Sampler



Dan Dare

Comic Strip Masterpieces

It looks like there's a lot of good stuff this year, and my wife has already laughed her way through Comic Strip Masterpieces. I also grabbed Visionaries: Thor Vol. 1, featuring Walter Simonson, for 50 percent off so I think my weekend is booked.

In case you haven't already, be sure to get to your local shop and take your pick of some free swag (and if you can spare the cash, why not show your LCS a little love while you're there?). And hey, maybe you could bring friends who are new to comics along and use this as a chance to introduce them to the wide variety of comics out there.

OK — back to the stack!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Batman and the sweet science!

Speaking of experiments, let's see what Batman's been cooking up in the lab:

Dr. Batman: Taking suckas to school since 1939!

Bahlactus could split the atom, but he'd rather split some skulls.

Following a link? Read more of Great Caesar's Post here!

Panel from Batman: Black and White #2
Jan Strnad, writer; Richard Corben, artist

Blue Beetle en Español: El gran experimento

As an experiment, the all-Spanish Blue Beetle #26 works.

People are talking about it, which is good for the unfairly struggling title, and the story by Jai Nitz keeps the focus on what's special about Blue Beetle — the character's family and friends. The artwork by Mike Norton is fun and expressive, and I wouldn't have a problem with him doing the book on a permanent basis if regular artist Rafael Albuquerque dropped out for some unholy reason (please don't drop out for some unholy reason, Rafael Albuquerque).

It is a fill-in issue, though, and it feels like it. The story's light, and a lot of stuff is glossed over: What was Parasite, who's normally a Superman foil, doing in El Paso? Did he target the Posse on purpose, or did he just stumble across them?

Regardless, it's not holes in the plot that's got people talking — it's the español.

I've talked about the use of Spanish in Blue Beetle before, but I should be clear about something; my Spanish is what could be called "not so great." Like a lot of second and third generation Latinos in the United States, I learned English as my native language because my parents didn't want me to struggle like they did. (Dad would be beaten for speaking Spanish in school, even in conversation, and that was in the '50s.) Add a grandmother who wanted to practice her English instead of teaching the kids Spanish like she was supposed to, Grandma, and you have a Latino who doesn't speak the language nearly as well as he should.

Still, I was able to read Blue Beetle #26 without much trouble, though there were a few words here and there that threw me off. With that in mind, I called in an expert opinion — my wife. Since she's originally from Mexico City, was raised in Juarez, and has worked professionally in both the Spanish- and English-language media and as an English/Spanish translator, I figured she might know what she was talking about.

And as soon as she picked it up she looked at the cover and said, "'Destrailló?' What's that mean?"

Not a good sign for El Escarabajo Azul.

It turns out Kevin's customer was right; the Spanish isn't very good. Like a lot of media going from English into Spanish, the problem's with the translation. It's technically correct, but as my wife put it, "It's clunky. It's almost a literal translation, like it was done by someone whose native language is English but who also knows some Spanish. You can 'hear' that the phrase was in English first."

In other words, people who speak Spanish wouldn't talk like that. The thing that jumped out at my wife was the scene (page 9, panel 2) where Jaime's abuelita tells him to "make us proud," but the way the line is phrased in Spanish actually comes across as (roughly), "make us prideful." There's a subtle but important difference there. Someone who speaks English and Spanish would probably understand what was meant, but someone who primarily speaks Spanish might be confused by that wording.

For my part, I had a problem with inaccuracies in the text. There are parts here and there that just made me say, "But that's not what he said!" once I read the script provided in English. None of it is really anything that impacts the story, but I don't feel it's fair to readers who don't speak a language to get sloppy with the translation.

For example, when Jaime meets some cousins (I'm guessing) at the family cook-out, this is what they say (5.1):

According to the translation, the first kid asks, "Why don't you have a ride?" But what he actually says is, "Why don't you have a car?" And then the second kid ends his little dig with, "You suck." (Again, according to the translation). But the phrase "te sales" would actually be used to say "you've gone too far" — the closest approximation I can think of in English would be "what's up with that?" If you wanted to say someone sucked you'd call them "sangron," which literally means something along the lines of "bloodsucker" (yeah, Spanish slang is weird) but in this context would basically mean "one who sucks."

Anyway, there are examples like that throughout the issue, and again it's nothing that affects the story, but it does affect the tone of the dialog and the feel of the story itself. I was also sorry that there was almost no slang in this issue, because brother, El Pasoans love them some Spanish slang. No slang? Chale, güey!

One more thing: I was disappointed to see Traci basically pushed off-stage in favor of the by-the-numbers dust-up with Parasite. I would have been a lot more interested in seeing more of Traci interacting with Jaime's family, and how everyone dealt with the language barrier. It would've been nice to see Jaime explain to Traci what it's like living in a border city, too, so I think an opportunity to flesh out Blue Beetle's background was missed.

All this sounds nit-picky and fairly negative, but I still enjoyed this issue and I like the title as much as ever. And I really have to give credit to DC for Blue Beetle #26: It wasn't perfect (what comic is?), but the important thing was that it was done at all. The Spanish-language issue was a low-risk experiment that brought some attention to a book that needs it, and it reaches out to a mostly ignored and untapped U.S. market; hopefully, regular readers will see it as a chance to experience something a little different and have fun with it. Best of all, the issue moved the overall story forward, even if it was just a little.

All in all, I'd call that a success. Even if the cover blurb should have said, "El Parásito Desatado!"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's a red-letter day!

Greetings, running dog lackeys! It's May Day! And don't you think it's time you asked yourself, "While I'm out there saving the world, who is protecting my rights as a super-powered worker? I serve my brothers and sisters in the community, but isn't anyone going to look out for me?"

Wonder no more! Why, just look who has already joined the party!

Incredible! So rise my comrades, rise! (And don't forget to pay your membership dues.)

See you at the next meeting!