Tag: The Joker

Brainiac On Banjo #095: Fair Play Is Terrific

Brainiac On Banjo #095: Fair Play Is Terrific

Middle fingaz in the air / We gonn make it multiplayer / If the game ain’t fair / Better play it multiplayer — Khontkar and Bixi Blake, Multiplayer, 2017

The first golden age comic book I ever purchased was Sensation Comics #7, 1942. It cover-featured Wonder WomanH.G. Peter and William Marston, of course — and it co-starred features of which I had never heard. I thought Irwin Hasen and Bill Finger’s Wildcat was a great character, and I still do. Shelly Moldoff and Gardner Fox’s Black Pirate was adequate but dramatically drawn. A remarkably bad series from Jon L. Blummer and Bill Finger called Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys lived up to the ambiance of its name, and that is a name you do not want to say too quickly. There was some filler material about stamps and things… and, oh yeah, there was a costumed superhero by Hal Sharp and Charles Reizenstein dubbed Mr. Terrific.

That was not exactly the best-named superhero on the block. “Mr. Terrific” smacked of desperation and lazy thinking, as if showrunners Shelly Meyer and Max Gaines said “Oh, screw it, let’s just call him ‘Mr. Terrific’ and hope for the best.” His abilities were negligible, and to draw attention to that his stomach was emblazoned with the legend “Fair Play.” This hardly was “Truth, Justice and the American Way” or “The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit.” This was just a wee bit better than “Sockamagee.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #095: Fair Play Is Terrific”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind  #95: Gee, They Were So Young

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #95: Gee, They Were So Young

Whatever gets you through your life ‘salright, ‘salright / Do it wrong or do it right ‘salright, ‘salright / Don’t need a watch to waste your time oh no, oh no — “Whatever Gets You Through The Night,” written by John Lennon, 1974.

When it comes to sorting Americans into tribes based upon political beliefs — and we are so desperate to divide up into tribes — if you are thinking along the lines of “well, those [whatever] usually tend to be [whichever tribe you like, such as young conservatives, young progressives, young Libertarians, or jocks]…, you are most certainly full of two things, one of which is yourself.

We hear a lot about Gen-Z being very politically active and very progressive. Of course that’s not completely so. Like all previous generations, the largest subgroup are those who just don’t give a damn. These kids are much more politically active than the previous two, but they seem to be motivated not as much by some old fart’s progressive agenda as they are by the philosophy “You are destroying my planet, and I’m the one who is supposed to live here in the future. Not you.” And… that’s fair.

The younger you are the more cynical you might be, but I am living proof that cynicism is most likely to be a permanent lifestyle. For one thing, it’s more fun. This is a good thing: it’s easier to fight the good fights if you allow yourself to appreciate your victories, keep a sense of humor about absolutely everything, and never think about Sisyphus. It’s good to remember the words of some Joker: “Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face!”

So it came as no surprise that when I watched Donald Trump’s two pep rallies earlier this week, I saw a whole lot of kids. Almost entirely White kids, but there always are a few non-White people are there, some of whom were hired just like the large group of cheering fans at Trump Tower when the Donald floated down his escalator-from-heaven back in 2015.

Granted, the second of these sessions was held at a college, so it’s not a great an indication of teen-age lack of death-perception as the first. But both had this in common with our recruitment policies for our military: the younger you are, the less likely you are to be aware and protective of your longevity. By and large, if you were, say, a 45-year-old carrying a bayonet, and you were ordered to assault that well-protected Hill 59, you might hesitate. Then your problem becomes getting out of the way of the 19-year-olds who are much less concerned about maintaining their personal franchise.

It is at the core of military training: your master says jump and do not think, you jump without a thought as to your own mortality. 19-year-olds, by and large, have yet to fully develop that sense. I did all kinds of dangerous shit back when I was 19. And 18, and 20. I look back and smile, but I’m not smiling about those stupid risks. I smile because I’m still around to look back at all that dangerous shit. My actions were, and still are, quite serious. My cause is quite serious. My attitude is more “Why so serious.” Whatever gets you through the night.

So we’ve got several thousand southwestern young’uns shoulder-to-shoulder, in weather-appropriate dress (the southwest in late June demands less clothing), jumping up and down and shouting and screaming and cheering and carrying on, maskless, as though they were at the Titanic of high school pep rallies. As the Jefferson Airplane said back in my day, “bless their pointed little heads.”

Many of them think Covid-19 does not affect them because they are not old. Well, dig this kids: when all this plague stuff started, some Black people believed they couldn’t get it either. It was a big deal — a very big deal, until some of them folks started dying. Well, die and learn. Now we know that younger people are merely less likely to come down with Covid-19 than us old people who have little to lose but our memories.

Well, that’s America for you. This nation of ours is your go-to place if you want to age out of your own tribe.

Besides, our planet was overcrowded about five billion live-births ago. Soylent Green does not have to be made out of old dead bodies. I’ll bet the young dead bodies taste better.

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #070: Words of Wisdom, Words of Strife

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #070: Words of Wisdom, Words of Strife

“Words are trouble, words are subtle / Words of anger, words of hate / Words over here, words out there / In the air and everywhere / Words of wisdom, words of strife / Words that write the book I like.” – Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Steven Stanley, Wordy Rappinghood

“Gestapo? You asshole, I’m the mailman!” – Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce

Ayn Rand, Dick Gregory, and Pol Pot walk into a bar…

Yeah, I know. Too soon. But, damn, what ever happened to our sense of humor? It seems the more we care about something, the less perspective we have about the subject. Humor is key to establishing and expanding one’s perspective.

Irwin Corey

Laughter opens doors. Satire opens minds. Al Capone did not say “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone,” but he could have. In fact, this observation was given to us by Professor Irwin Corey, a Broadway actor, an incisive comedian, a far-left activist, and a hero of mine. And the good professor certainly made Capone’s point for him – we take this misattributed quote as an axiom. It makes the point succinctly, and it gets that point across the plate.

We are so concerned about not hurting somebody’s feelings that we forget that some feelings deserve to be hurt. That’s part of bringing about change. You don’t have to take malicious pride in doing so if you don’t want to, but you can get much farther with a funny word than by breeding mopery. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #070: Words of Wisdom, Words of Strife”

Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?

Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?

‘Tis the season, so if Adam Sandler is making a new list and, you know, checking it twice, he can add the name Oswald Cobblepot.

Well, it does explain that hat.

I’ve carped a bit about how The Joker is the most overexposed character on Earth, apart from Donald Trump. We can argue that Harley Quinn is in competition for that title, but, as a rule, I try not to get in the middle of a fight between a person and his or her ex. Besides, this Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey movie has hit trailer status, so inundation comes with the job. When the DC Universe steamer launched its new animated and X-rated (no, it’s for language, you pervert!) Harley Quinn series, which starts with the enthralled shrink dumping her dangerously insane boyfriend, they managed to ring the overexposure bell with her mallet. But… it works. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?”

Brainiac On Banjo #060: Crisis? Make Room! Make Room!

Brainiac On Banjo #060: Crisis? Make Room! Make Room!

Too many people going underground / Too many reaching for a piece of cake / Too many people pulled and pushed around / Too many waiting for that lucky break – Paul McCartney, “Too Many People”

OK, superhero television fans. Take your gloves and socks off, there’s math on this test.

Which project has more superheroes – Avengers: Endgame or next month’s Crisis on Infinite Earths?

Sorry; I’m being a prick. That was a trick question. We won’t know for a bit because the Crisis announcements are still barreling down the pike. It appears that some or maybe all the cast members of the Titans program on the DC Universe streamer will be deployed in the big caped clusterfuck. And, hey, go figure, the second season of Doom Patrol starts filming this week. It’s alleged they will be doing a fly-by as well. Yow! I wonder if Stargirl will be getting some love here.

Hell, this might be the first major DC event in decades that doesn’t include the Joker – or at least a Joker; it’s so hard tell them apart. Is it time for Mark Hamill to match his face with his voice? I’m not excluding the possibility. Maybe Harley will drop by. One of them, at least. Maybe all of them, who knows?

And will John Diggle become the next Green Lantern? That show goes up on the new HBO streamer next year or so. Or maybe John is the Green Lantern of Earth-90. This was teased before, when The Flash of that Earth, played (of course) by John Wesley Shipp, said to Diggle “Hello, John. You’re not wearing your ring… Things must be different here.”

Crisis On Infinite Earths – The TV Event certainly is shaping up to be quite a mammoth production… but, of course, not all “events” are worth following. We shall see, and I strongly suspect a whole lot of us will see. I also suspect this will be an all-or-nothing thing: it will either be very good and characters will not be tripping over one another (think Avengers: Endgame), or it will be one 270 minute mess with a bunch of long, mournful death scenes. Having actually met “people,” I strongly believe some will love it, some will hate it, and those who worked on it will simply be glad it’s over.

If Crisis With Infinite Costumes is as successful as DC-WB-CW wants it to be, history tells us there will be many more such “Crisises” to come. In addition to resurrecting one or two of the corpses from this one, who could they add to surprise us next time around? Space Ghost? Jonny Quest? Norville Rogers? That’s technically possible, you know. Keith Giffen could work that one out with ease.

Or maybe the Big Bad will be Mister Mxyzptlk. If he’s not too busy writing the thing.

The author would like to thank noted writer/artist Harry Harrison for the title to this here column. And maybe Edward G. Robinson as well.

Brainiac On Banjo #035: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!

Brainiac On Banjo #035: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!

Avengers: Endgame passed the $2,100,000,000 mark ten days after release, so in honor of that momentous event, here is a photo of my all-time favorite superhero team-up, even though it has yet to happen on-screen.

Now that the Avengers movies have made about as much money as your average Wall Street cocaine dealer, I think we can say the “women heroes don’t sell movies” bullshit is behind us. It’s time to do the A-Force movie.

Seriously. It’s well past time, but before this weekend the banks might not have financed such a film. I think an A-Force movie will inspire more young girls than a woman president, though that is not an either/or proposition. And the prospect of women getting their boyfriends to take them to a big super-hero movie epic is the very meaning of “turnabout is fair play.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #035: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!”

Brainiac On Banjo #030: The Joker’s On Us

Brainiac On Banjo #030: The Joker’s On Us

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 #030: The Joker’s On Us”

Brainiac On Banjo #023: Is It Over Yet?

Brainiac On Banjo #023: Is It Over Yet?

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 #023: Is It Over Yet?”

Brainiac On Banjo #013: This Joke’s On Us

Brainiac On Banjo #013: This Joke’s On Us

Perhaps the most often-asked question by superhero movie fans is “Why do most of the DC movies suck?”

The “most” part is about the one truly great DCU movie made during the past decade, Wonder Woman. Thus, every time I reference the DCU movies I’m excluding Wonder Woman. Oh, and the Lego Batman Movie, which, in my opinion, is the best Batman movie ever.

These movies have been very disappointing for DC fans. After all, Marvel Studios keeps on knocking them out and knocking them out of the park. My enthusiasm for their upcoming Captain Marvel movie is quite strong. My enthusiasm for DC’s upcoming Aquaman movie is hidden behind a humongous growth in my cynicism gland.

Don’t get me wrong. Every time Warner Bros. is about to release a new DC movie (and, for the record, I am not referring to their direct-to-home video features) I hope for the best. And, with a few significant exceptions I am almost always disappointed. For example (WARNING: NAME-DROPPING ALERT!), at the World Premiere of Suicide Squad I sat between John Ostrander and Jim Lee. John created the version of the Squad that was seen on the screen, is a Pop Culture Squad columnist, and remains my oldest living friend. Jim is among the very best artists around. He was elevated to the position of DC’s co-publisher and chief operating officer. I’m a big fan of his – at one point much earlier in his career, DC’s e-i-c Dick Giordano and I (at the time, First Comics’ e-i-c) were discussing the idea of a Batman / Jon Sable crossover written by Mike Grell and drawn by Jim Lee. That project remains very, very high on my lengthy “I’m still pissed that these projects never happened” list.

At the end of the Squad flick, Jim asked me what I thought. My response: “I liked it a lot, compared with Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice.” Talk about damning with faint praise. I mentioned several scenes I really liked – and still do. I enjoyed about half of the movie, maybe a bit more. But, jeez louise, I’d still put nearly all of the Marvel Studios movies ahead of it, were I destined to be washed-up on that fabled desert island that somehow has electricity.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #013: This Joke’s On Us”

Brainiac On Banjo #001: Back In The Saddle Again!

Brainiac On Banjo #001: Back In The Saddle Again!

For those who came in late: Well, hello there! After a nice half-year nap, I’ve gone back to the magic keyboard to unleash my innermost thoughts onto a weary public, now, here on this fabulous new site Pop Culture Squad! I have some concept of what’s likely to happen at PCS – we’re in “soft launch” mode right now and lots of weird and synapse-melting things are coming down the pike, particularly in the realm of multimedia.

If you’re new to my sundry waxings, you’ll catch on pretty quick. Brainiac On Banjo is a line the late great Vivian Stanshall uttered in the song “The Intro and the Outro” on the very first Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band album, and that’s the same record that gave Death Cab For Cutie its name.

As one might infer, Brainiac On Banjo is about the ever-broadening world of comic books and related media. I’ve had some experience laboring in those fields forever and ever – if we haven’t already, I’ll probably have something of a bio up on PCS soon, as in “after I’m told to write one.” I’m also involved in lotsa other shit, like the Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind radio show (see below), and I’ll indulging in my most offensive political fantasies right here on Pop Culture Squad starting this Thursday.

Be warned. It’s been quiet out there.

Too quiet.

I’m going to kick off the return of Brainiac On Banjo by doing something that might confuse or even startle long-time readers: I’m going to praise a DC Comics production without once writing about their unrequited passion for slapping the reboot button like a monkey in a crack experiment. Nope, not even once. Really.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #001: Back In The Saddle Again!”