Brainiac On Banjo #031: The Joker’s On Us, by Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #031: The Joker’s On Us, by Mike Gold

Alex Ross

This Wednesday, DC Comics will be releasing the landmark 1000th issue of the longest-running comic book published in America, Detective Comics. Yup, if you look the word “landmark” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Alex Ross’s variant cover.

Go ahead. Check it out.

I’m a fan of Alex’s, both his work and his own self. But I really like this cover not only because it is a true tribute to Batman, who (not-coincidentally) turns 80 this week, but because it doesn’t have The Joker on it.

Michael Cho

Now, trust me on this one too: the real reason Detective Comics #1000 is called #1000 is not because of its linear numbering. It’s because there are 1000 different variant covers. Hey, kids! Collect them all!

No. Don’t bother. I’m sure DC will release a hardcover reprinting them. And I’m pretty sure I’ll buy it. But this week I am not ranting about the crisis of infinite variants, but, knowing me I probably will in the future.

Uh-uh. This week I’m ranting about The Joker. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #031: The Joker’s On Us, by Mike Gold”

Brainiac On Banjo #030: Ahoy There, Mr. Christ!

Brainiac On Banjo #030: Ahoy There, Mr. Christ!

If you’ve been to a comic book shop lately or you’ve thumbed through a recent Diamond Distributors catalog, no doubt you’ve noticed there are a hell of a lot of viable-looking, professionally-operated new publishers around who are doing some very interesting projects. You’ve also noticed there are far too many new projects for you to check out. Or, perhaps, you’re tired of hearing your credit card scream every time you go to the comics shop.

Lucky for Ahoy Comics, one of the better new imprints to come down the pike in the past couple years, our friends at DC Comics just gave them one hell of a promotional boost.

DC had this six-issue project called The Second Coming, by Mark Russell and Richard Pace – which, alone, should be enough to get you to check it out. It’s about Jesus Christ, his superhero roommate Sunstar, and his reactions towards contemporary society. As Russell told the New York Times he was telling a story about how we have “fetishized physical violence and force as being the solution to every problem.” OK, that’s a valid pitch for this satirical series which, clearly, was not intended to be the gospel truth, or a replacement or a revision of same.

DC solicited the first couple issues before word got out to the various hate groups such as the Christian Broadcasting Network, Citizen Go, Christian Headlines, and Fox News. Just because you throw around the word “Christian” does not mean you aren’t a hater, and these groups and their fellow travelers quickly organized petitions urging its cancellation and threatening a boycott of DC. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #030: Ahoy There, Mr. Christ!”

Brainiac On Banjo #029: Comic Books? Still?

Brainiac On Banjo #029: Comic Books? Still?

Captain Marvel, the movie, sold nearly one-half billion dollars’ worth of tickets in its first few days worldwide – maybe a week in a few countries – so I’d like to take this opportunity to shout “Screw you, incels!” but that’s not my point this week.

My point is that with billions of dollars being spent making comic book based movies each year and with more comic book based teevee shows than you can count on all available appendages, if you want to enjoy the comic book experience you no longer need to buy a single comic book. Even if you’re selective about the movies and shows you see, even if you have a job, a relationship, kids, take time out to eat and go to the bathroom you do not have time to experience everything you’d like. As you might be aware, comic book publishing is a capitalist enterprise and without enough profitability the money people will start thinking “buggywhips.”

But you might say, without comic books there would be no fodder for comic book-based movies and teevee. If you do, I would say “Yeah? Prove it!” Very, very few such media shows were borne of recent comic book debut, and the rights to most of the established comic book properties – except GrimJack (hi, Ken!) – are well-secured. Disney and AT&T spent about a zillion dollars buying Marvel and DC Comics outright, and they didn’t do a reverse mortgage deal based upon publishing projections. There hasn’t been a real relationship between comic book sales and their media spin-offs for over a half-century.

So why pulp trees and waste oil to print, distribute and digitize comic books? Where’s the money? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #029: Comic Books? Still?”

Brainiac On Banjo #028: Comic Book Economics

Brainiac On Banjo #028: Comic Book Economics

Dan DiDio

Somebody noticed the comic book racks are overcrowded… and that somebody is Dan DiDio, co-publisher, DC Comics. I gather Dan’s deductive skills were sharpened by his decades of comic book collecting.

Well, he’s the right man for the job. Just about each month for the better part of a half-century the Diamond Distributors catalog, the one that terrorizes your friendly neighborhood comic book store owner who must bet the rent on his or her non-returnable orders, has grown like Stumbo on steroids to its present size and weight, rivaling the Manhattan phone book in water displacement. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #028: Comic Book Economics”

Brainiac On Banjo #027: Movie Sign

Brainiac On Banjo #027: Movie Sign

It’s time for another of my nostalgia-drenched-yet-timely essays that fall under the category “Old Man Yells At Cloud.”

The trick to all visual media is to appeal to our sense of wonder. Life, society, and time conspire to rob us of that which is truly our seventh sense. This applies to comic books, movies, television, the stage (or, as its denizens call it, “The Stage”) and even architecture. The proper experience opens our minds to all sorts of phenomena and inspire us to engage in the creative process.

I suspect the past couple generations first encountered this feeling when watching something utterly fantastic on television. For a great many of my braggadocios baby boomers comrades, our initial experiences with the sense of wonder occurred in the opulent movie palaces of yesteryear – particularly those of us who grew up in large urban areas. Every neighborhood had at least one such theater, and some of those venues weren’t simply palaces, they were movie cathedrals: ornate and intricate conflations of terra cotta, red velvet, brass fixtures, Tiffany glass and brilliant lighting. This environment jacked us up for what was to follow well before our butts hit the well-cushioned seats. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #027: Movie Sign”

Brainiac On Banjo #026: Marv Wolfman’s Long, Long Journey

Brainiac On Banjo #026: Marv Wolfman’s Long, Long Journey

What I should have done, were this to be a proper analysis, was reread every comic book story Marv Wolfman ever wrote. Obviously, that’s not possible. He’s written a lot of comics. Marv wrote his initial scripts on papyrus. He’s only four years older than me, but he’s been at it since Jeff met Mutt.

Not that it wouldn’t have been an entertaining way for me to blow off a deadline. He’s written… everything. Every A-list, B-list, and C-list character owned by DC and Marvel, and most of the lower-list characters as well. He’s written some of the most iconic series around: Tomb of Dracula, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Blade, The New Teen Titans. His runs on Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Superman and Batman are the stuff dreams are made of. My personal favorite, Night Force (co-created by his Dracula comrade Gene Colan), is… well… my personal favorite and I’ve read more comic books than Supersnipe.

I strongly expect that at least 95% of the ink Marv gets for his latest mind-stunner, Man and Superman, will start with referencing the second line in his introduction: “(Man and Superman) maybe one of the five best comics I’ve ever written.” That is a ballsy move, my friend. Now every blogger must start there. Is this among Marv’s very, very best? Well, let’s keep in mind it’s also an extraordinary gambit – now everybody is going to ask themselves the same question, and in order to answer it, they’ve got to read it. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #026: Marv Wolfman’s Long, Long Journey”

Brainiac On Banjo #026: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock

Brainiac On Banjo #026: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock

“Embargo.” That sounds like an old person’s muscular issue.

It’s also a word imposed upon us overwrought critics that means “here’s something really cool but you can’t tell anybody about it for a couple weeks.” Most of the people who have access to this stuff want to shout to all those within reading distance, particularly if the material either really impresses us or really pisses us off. But a deal is a deal. The embargo on coverage of the new Doom Patrol series premiering later this week on DC Universe was lifted at 9 AM Pacific this morning, so it’s off to the races for those of us who had been professionally tongue-tied.

I appreciated one of the first lines uttered in the first episode: “More teevee superheroes. Just what the world needs.” I can dig it. But the Doom Patrol wasn’t a typical superhero comic book in any of its various incarnations since its launch by DC Comics in the spring of 1963. And several of its more recent incarnations raised the bar on weird. The question is, how to you port all of that over to the small screen?

Perhaps a better question is “since the DC Universe service really upped the ante with Robin screaming ‘Fuck Batman!’ in the first episode of their Titans series, does The Doom Patrol continue this trend?”

Yup. It sure does. Nudity ­– slightly more than that which Janet Jackson offered us some time ago that blinded hordes of small children forevermore – enters the show a mere five minutes into the first episode. The first fuck (I’m referring to the word used in dialog and not the act) comes in around the 15-minute mark. The tone for the show is set rather dark and very weird.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #026: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock”

Brainiac On Banjo #025: Is It Over Yet? By Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #025: Is It Over Yet? By Mike Gold

I see The CW picked up all its comic book-based teevee shows for their 2019 – 2020 season, and they’re shooting the pilot for their new Batwoman series. This means we’ll be watching them on broadcast channels at least until the next presidential debates.

That’s amusing. The CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has yet to air its 2018 – 2019 season. Then again, ABC renewed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for 2019 – 2020 season without having broadcast this year’s output either. In business terms, those are genuine acts of faith.

Captain Marvel opens in a theater near you in one short month. Yes, this is February and this is a short month. The Brie Larson flick already has broken all advance ticket sales records. Shazam! opens one month later, followed by Hellboy one week after that. The Avengers: Endgame starts pushing popcorn three weeks after that, X-Men Dark Phoenix follows a month after that, Spider-Man Far From Home a couple weeks after, the New Mutants opens the beginning of August (assuming they ever finish the reshoots), and The Joker comes forth Bat-less the beginning of October. 2020’s schedule appears to be just as overloaded. As Lenny Kravitz sang, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Why is this still happening? Shouldn’t it be over by now?  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #025: Is It Over Yet? By Mike Gold”

Brainiac On Banjo #024: Road Runner, Coyote, Ripley & Hubris

Brainiac On Banjo #024: Road Runner, Coyote, Ripley & Hubris

This September, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner will turn 70 years old. I’m telling you this now so you don’t have to wait until the last minute to get them presents – I do not know if there’s an Acme Prime. They were created by director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese as a response to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s Tom and Jerry, which MGM sandwiched in between the trailers and the A-movies at your local neighborhood theater back in a time when there still were local neighborhood theaters.

Both Tom and Jerry and Coyote and Road Runner were quite successful; both received Oscar nominations, although only the cat and mouse copped a statuette. Amusingly, when Bill and Joe discovered the flip book and left MGM to produce vaguely animated cartoons for television, Chuck moved over from Warner Bros’ withering termite terrace to take their places.

O.K. I’m not a big fan of Hanna-Barbera. Sue me. Hang in there; I’ll get back to the Endless Chase in a moment. But first…  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #024: Road Runner, Coyote, Ripley & Hubris”

Brainiac On Banjo #023: How Much Stuf Is Too Much Stuf??? By Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #023: How Much Stuf Is Too Much Stuf??? By Mike Gold

If you need further evidence that the big money people are banking on wide-spread legalization of marijuana, you need not look further than the folks at Mondelēz International, current owners of Nabisco. They manufacture the all-time favorite food of stoners, Oreo cookies. And it seems the folks who make Oreos have a keen eye on the bounding weed market.

A couple days ago my editor texted me about this new product called “MOST Stuf Oreos.” More than Mega Stuf, more than Double Stuf, this stuff has enough Stuf to put your average American into a diabetic coma. She alerted me that it just came out, is a “limited-edition,” and is presently available at places such as Target, Walmart, and Rite-Aid. Well, there’s a Rite-Aid near me, and it is a drug store so it must be healthy, and I inferred my editor was making an assignment.

So the next day I labored out to the drug store where I secured the last package of Most Stuf Oreos they had.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #023: How Much Stuf Is Too Much Stuf??? By Mike Gold”