Tag: Green Arrow

Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona

Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona

I’ve heard you say many times that you’re better than no one and no one is better than you. If you really believe that you know you have nothing to win and nothing to lose, from fixtures and forces and friends your sorrow does stem that hype you and type you, making you feel that you gotta be just like them. “To Ramona,” written by Bob Dylan

Back in the post-WWII days when 10 cent comics cost a mere 10 cents, there were but a handful of ongoing superheroes, all of them were published by DC Comics, and each had a very distinctive look. Not the razor-sharp nearly photogenic linework of artists like Curt Swan and Carmine Infantino, but highly stylized and not quite real-world: Wayne Boring’s Superman, Dick Sprang’s Batman and Robin, Russ Andru’s Wonder Woman, George Papp (and, briefly, Jack Kirby’s) Green Arrow, and Ramona Fradon’s Aquaman. They maintained and advanced the standard for comics’ most enduring characters.

Of course, this was seven decades ago. Time seems to move on and, now, the last of these famous artists has left the building. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Birds of Clay

Brainiac On Banjo: The Birds of Clay

A pretty little raven at the bird bandstand taught him how to do the bop and it was grand. They started goin’ steady and bless my soul, he out-bopped the buzzard and the oriole! — Rockin’ Robin, written by Leon René.

Proliferate: increase rapidly in numbers; multiply: the science fiction magazines that proliferated in the 1920s. (Apple Dictionary)

Make Room, Make Room: Harry Harrison’s 1966 novel about the overpopulation of Earth so massive that people had to live in stairwells. The story was set in 1999. The book was made into a movie titled “Soylent Green” after the artificial food substance manufactured to feed the teaming masses. Spoiler Alert: “Soylent Green is people.”

If you chart the growth of Robins in the DC universe, it won’t be long before there are more of those obnoxious little buggers than there are Elvis impersonators. Indeed, the way things have been going lately there will be more Robins on Earth than there are Green Lanterns in the universe.

This is not a good thing.

Mind you, even as a kid long, long ago, I disliked Robin. He was, at best, unnecessary. The idea of a child that young being trained as a superhero was not a good example of child-rearing. I mean, sure, take a kid whose mind and body was not nearly developed, put him barelegged in tight shorts and a yellow cape and toss him into action against The Joker. Hell, at that time I was barely allowed to cross the street. Even Bruce Wayne’s megabucks wouldn’t protect him from Child Protective Services. It barely protected Batman and Robin from Dr. Frederic Wertham. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Birds of Clay”

R.I.P. Comics Legend Neal Adams 1941 – 2022

R.I.P. Comics Legend Neal Adams 1941 – 2022

Photo by Gage Skidmore at 2019 Phoenix Fan Fusion

The comic book industry has lost another giant. Neal Adams passed away yesterday on April 28. 2022. He was 80 years old and passed after complications from sepsis. Adams’s work as a penciller and storyteller left a massive impact on the medium, and his efforts in creator rights advocacy led to policies that have benefited untold numbers of creators that followed him.

Adams worked in commercial advertising art at the beginning of his career and also worked for Archie Comics in the early 1960’s. He later worked for both Marvel and DC Comics, but his work on Batman and Green Lantern / Green Arrow in the 1970’s is where he began to leave his lasting legacy. The work he did with Denny O’Neil on those books was transformative in comic book storytelling. He also published creator-owned independent works with Pacific Comics and Continuity Comics among others.

He was also an activist for creator rights and is credited with helping to push for the credit for creating Superman that Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster were long denied. The practice of returning original art to creators is another innovation that he fought for along with various attempts to create creative community collective bargaining units. In his later years, he lent his art to several projects intended to highlight resistance to Nazi aggression during the Holocaust.

Neal Adams was a legend in his time. He was inducted into every Hall of Fame in the comics industry that you can think of and was responsible for helping to nurture the career of young creators. His legacy is immeasurable, and he will be missed.

Brainiac On Banjo #090: Powers Roughly Equivalent of God’s

Brainiac On Banjo #090: Powers Roughly Equivalent of God’s

Deep in the dark / I don’t need the light / There’s a ghost inside me / It all belongs to the other side / We live, we love, we lie – “The Spectre” written by Gunnar Greve, Jesper Borgen, Tommy Laverdi, Marcus Arnbekk, Anders Froen, Alan Olav Walker, and Lars Kristian Rosness, 2018

The comment expressed in our headline above was made by the fabled Jules Feiffer in his groundbreaking 1965 book The Great Comic Book Heroes. It was groundbreaking because Feiffer was the first to take the history and craft of comic books seriously — so seriously, in fact, that it was excerpted in Playboy.

The Spectre was created by Jerry Siegel, and if truth be told it’s probably my favorite of his creations — including the Big Red S. Feiffer was right: it’s a bitch to write a series where the lead isn’t really a “hero” and yet has, as Jules noted, powers roughly equivalent of God’s. And we’re not talking about the New Testament’s cosmic muffin — this is the Old Testament’s hoary thunderer, and The Spectre is his personal instrument of vengeance. Yup, the after-life might not be as sweet as you’d hoped.

I don’t know if the kids who were reading comics at the every end of 1939 were ready for that. Within two years the series was lightened up by a bumbling guardian angel called “Percival Popp, the Super Cop.” Think Frank Capra, but stupid. The Spectre became a founding member of the Justice Society, but when World War II ended he was out of the group, out of More Fun, and living off of Officer Popp’s police pension.

Still, the character made an impression and when Julie Schwartz was looking for another golden age character to revive after The Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom, and Hawkman, he chose The Spectre. That was odd, but with the arguable exception of Zatanna (or, really, her dad Zatara), The Spectre was the first character he brought back that Julie hadn’t edited during the Golden Age. Despite some decent scripts from Gardner Fox and artwork from the always amazing Murphy Anderson, it just didn’t click. The series was handed over to a relative newcomer named Neal Adams, who did some truly wonderful artwork, but it also did not find success.

But the guy still remained in the hearts of DC’s creative community. Editor Joe Orlando needed a new lead for Adventure Comics, so he brought in Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo and let them go nuts. The Spectre took this “vengeance of God” thing to a fundamentalist level, and he would kill the bad guys with such creative cruelty that they might have made EC artist “Ghastly” Graham Ingles genuflect at his porcelain throne. It was great. And it lasted 10 issues.

Since then The Spectre has been floating around the DC Universe in all its forms, incarnations, and mistakes. Lots — and I mean lots — of A-listers handled his adventures, including my buddies John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. They enjoyed one of the longest runs.

So it was with absolutely no surprise whatsoever that I stumbled across a DC Digital First thing called Ghosts. At first I thought that odd — thus far they hadn’t done resurrections of their mystery anthologies in their new digital line. Then I saw “Ghosts” was just another way of saying “The Spectre” and then I noted it was written by Dan Jurgens.

I really like Dan’s work, both as an artist and a writer. We worked together on Green Arrow for a long time, and instead of just leaving the series to do something new, he told me he was making a play to do Superman and, if he got it, he’d be moving on. As much as I liked Dan’s stuff — he and Mike Grell made a great team — he certainly earned the right to take a shot at the Man of Steel. I successfully fought back my overwhelming desire to mindfuck him into staying, although I did think about it. Dan did some remarkable work with the brightest of DC’s corporate jewels. Right now he’s writing Nightwing, and is damn good.

Dan, along with artists Scott Eaton and Wayne Faucher, did a fine job on the story. I don’t know if Ghosts is a one-shot or a play to resurrect The Spectre again, this time without having to resort to paper and staples. They were somewhat restrained in their story… if you compare it to the Fleisher / Aparo run. Then again, a head-on collision between two 10-car passenger trains would seem equally restrained.

DC has done a number of very entertaining stories in their almost-daily Digital First line, unburdened by a continuity that mutates as often as amoebas commit mitosis. Seeing The Spectre pop up in this format evoked a response characters rarely have when they cross his path: I was pleasantly surprised.

Brainiac On Banjo #053: Crisis On Infinite Heroes?

Brainiac On Banjo #053: Crisis On Infinite Heroes?

I got no time for a dozen / Six of you gotta go – Tuli Kupferberg, “My Bed Is Getting Crowded”

I enjoy the annual “Arrowverse” crossovers on the CW, where most of the DC characters who star in those sundry shows all get together to hop timelines and dimensions to fight, as Chickenman used to chirp, “crime and/or evil.” This year’s crossover certainly will be the biggest ever, and, if we’re just a bit lucky, the best.

Of course, by best I mean more fun. Coincidentally, Green Arrow, for whom the Arrowverse has been named, made his debut in DC’s More Fun Comics, but I digress. I’m not expecting Gone With The Wind here; I based upon the previous crossovers I’m expecting to have a good time.

This one is cleverly titled Crisis On Infinite Earths, borrowing the name, concept and logo design of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s game-changing miniseries. It was a brilliant and gutsy story that established the standard in all-inclusive event comics… even though the publisher completely pulled the rug out from under it by immediately rebooting Superman and Wonder Woman while the ink on the final issue of Crisis was still wet.

But I’m not here to continue my 34-year old rant about rebooting like monkeys on speed. I’m not going to get over it, but the comics’ DCU is not the Arrowverse. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #053: Crisis On Infinite Heroes?”

With Further Ado #60: On Target with Green Arrow

With Further Ado #60: On Target with Green Arrow

I was excited to read the announcement that DC is creating another oversize book to challenge the stamina of bookcases everywhere. The Green Arrow by Mike Grell Omnibus Volume #1 will be published next year. This collects a series that was a real favorite of mine.

It was the late ’80s, which somehow quickly turned into the early ’90s, and this series was such a breath of fresh air. The ever-brilliant Mike Gold (You are most certainly reading his columns here on Pop Culture Squad) was the editor who famously teased writer/artist Mike Grell with a pitch consisting of two words: “Urban Hunter”.  Gold knew that a more modern approach to the character would appeal to Grell.  For many years, the Green Arrow had been strange sort of a hero that mixed the best parts of Batman with Robin Hood. But those silly days were long gone.  Grell signed onboard, intrigued by Mike Gold’s vision, and the rest is history.

This series started with Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, a mini-series with story and art by Grell.   Fans barely had time to catch their collective breath when Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen’s story continued in the regular comic. Mike Grell was still the writer, and supplied many memorable covers, but the art chores were initially handled by Ed HanniganDick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin impressively inked it. Continue reading “With Further Ado #60: On Target with Green Arrow”