Thursday, February 28, 2008

If You're Not Reading The Blue Beetle...

Then you're part of the problem. I mean it. You're a mean, mean person who doesn't want to see good comic books, and probably kills pixies in his spare time.

Now, I don't really care about your Pixie Genocide, as pixies have nothing to do with my hobbies. But good comic books? Yeah, I care about that. And the Blue Beetle is seriously a good comic book. I can understand, Jaime Reyes is easy to miss. His name isn't "Superman" "Batman" or "Wonder Woman"... and he doesn't have a power ring... but right at this moment, if I was called upon to name my favorite super-hero, it would be Jaime Reyes.

In the current Blue Beetle, DC has taken a young, genuinely earnest kid who doesn't really know what he's doing, and over the course of 24 issues has turned him into a hero. And the current story arc is using almost everything that the series has turned out to date. I haven't seen Metron or Lonar yet, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if they show up in the next issue. And the issue that hit shelves today (or yesterday, as it's 2:25 am) pays tribute to Dan Garrett as well as Ted Kord. There's more raw excitement in this book than any comic I've read for weeks, and that includes Grant Morrison's Batman, and Ed Brubaker's Captain America. (I'd add Daredevil to the list, but I haven't read that yet and I don't want to cheat.)

Seriously, you owe it to yourself to look into this series. It got off to a slow start on the introductory story arc, but it has been a phenomonally consistent, knock it out of the park book. I can't praise it enough. If you haven't been following it... pick up a few back issues, and catch up because I get the feeling #25's going to knock it out of the park.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons and Comics

As a child of the late 70's/early 80's I tend to think that I was treated to some of the best, most interesting Saturday Morning Cartoons in existence. I grew up enthralled by the Super-Friends, Scooby Doo, Dungeons and Dragons, and even Pac-Man. But one of the cartoons that stuck with me the longest (ironically, the one that I almost never managed to watch because at the weighty age of five, you don't really understand the concept of a 'schedule') was Thundarr the Barbarian.

For the uninitiated, Thundarr was an attempt to steal some of the popularity of Conan the Barbarian, mixing it with a little bit of post-apocalyptic road-warrior and a dash of Star Wars. Set two thousand years after the fall of man, we're introduced to a savage world full of super-science and sorcery. The titular Thundarr was Conan-lite with what amounts to a lightsaber. He had two sidekicks... Ariel the token woman and sorceress, and Ookla the comic relief/wookiee-wannabe.

After watching an episode recorded via DVR last night, I stumbled across a familiar name in the credits.

Jack Kirby

While he didn't design the main characters according to the Wikipedia article, it sounds like he designed almost everything else. Until I gained a real love of comics (about 7 years ago or so) I'd never heard of Kirby, despite the fact that I knew precisely who Stan Lee was, and could recognize him on sight. Now I find myself wondering is there anything that Jack Kirby hasn't influenced? The fact that he was involved with Thundarr doesn't surprise me a lick in hindsight, but it was a surprise to see his name there.

Edit 2/12/08

In what seems to be a badly timed case of foot-in-mouth, the creator of Thundarr the Barbarian (among many other characters in the fields of both comics and animation), a giant by the name of Steve Gerber, just passed away. I started seeing the news last night beore going to bed. Here's Mark Evanier's posting about it, as he knows far more about this pioneer of the imagination than I do.

From what little I've read about him last night and this morning, the world is a sadder, grayer place without him.