Tag: Bill Jemas

Brainiac On Banjo: All-In The Sand Traps of Continuity

Brainiac On Banjo: All-In The Sand Traps of Continuity


“The simple things you see are all complicated. I look pretty young, but I’m just backdated.” From Substitute, written by Pete Townshend.

Do you remember F-keys? They’ve still got ‘em on most computer keyboards. I initially encountered them in the early days at First Comics when I could program my Olympia electric typewriter to bonk out phrases like “Jon Sable, Freelance” with one stroke.

Evidently, DC Comics still gives their F-keys quite a workout. I have no doubt the phrase “will change the DC universe forever!” became one of their first such shortcuts. “DC Comics! The Line of the Super-Stars! Where Everything You Knew is Wrong! AGAIN!”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Marvel Comics launched its Ultimate Comics line back in 2000. It lasted about 16 years until it got crushed under the weight of too many titles and way too many mini-series. It also had lost its soothsayers, Bill Jemas and Brian Bendis, the gifted Johnny Appleseed of revisionist superheroedom. They brought it back last year in a terrific relaunch that, on the face of it, has nothing to do with the original doppelgängers, at least not yet. This relaunch has spread like Topsy as well, and before long they’ll have to hire unemployed Elvis impersonators to staff it. Mainstream comic book publishing always dance to the tune of “monkey see, monkey do,” and long ago they managed to put the lie to the phrase “everything is better with a monkey.”

So after an infinite number of Crises On Infinite Sales Charts, DC finally has managed to figure out a way to have their stale cake and eat it too. They copied Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and — this is the most creative part — they named it after a popular brand of vodka. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: All-In The Sand Traps of Continuity”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Ultimate Reprise?

Brainiac On Banjo: The Ultimate Reprise?

Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood. Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead. Hey, there goes the Spider-Man! “Spider-Man” written by Bob Harris and Paul Francis Webster.

As is our want, my dear friend and editor Bob Harrison asked me if I had read this year’s version of Ultimate Spider-Man #1. I said I hadn’t, and I felt the last thing this particular Earth needs is still another Spider-Man book. Bob is a family man without sufficient time to debate me on this; he knows my position on this sort of thing because it’s his job to read my stuff here at Pop Culture Squad, so his simply said “Well, you should. It’s very good, and Jonathan Hickman wrote it.”

Bob’s never steered me wrong and, yes, I really like Hickman’s stuff. I haven’t read all that much of it lately as I haven’t followed the sundry X-Mens since they became, much like Russian nesting dolls, the first comic book franchise to spawn its own massively incestuous comic book franchise. That was around 1983. Had I been more observant, I might have had a similar reaction to The Killing Joke.

Like the word “unique,” the word “ultimate” is an absolute. One thing cannot be more ultimate than another. Ultimate is the top of the peak, and grammatically speaking there isn’t room up there for another. Yet we’ve had more Ultimate Spider-Man #1s in the past few years than we’ve had Doctor Strange #1s in the past few weeks. Is this new Ultimate even Ultimater? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Ultimate Reprise?”