Thursday, March 31, 2005

Lame villain #1: The Vulture

Heads up, true believers! Flyin' old guy, coming through!

The Vulture is one of those villains that is so hopelessly outclassed by the hero that you wonder why they bother. The Vulture's powers are flight and baldness - that's it. I'll bet Spider-Man is psyched every time he gets to fight The Vulture; he can just kick the guy's ass and call it an early night, maybe go watch some TV or something.


In a nutshell: Blue Beetle dies and Max Lord is the bad guy.


Hmm, maybe in the future I should place the spoiler alert in front of the actual spoiler. Something to remember for next time.

Okay, let’s start off the blog with a review of a recent comic book. I know, you were probably hoping for a review of Spectacular Spider-Man #116 or something, and I pull this contemporary shit on you. Sorry. But hey, if I bought it, it’s part of my collection, and thus eligible for review and or/mockery.

Countdown is a comic book loss-leader, an 80-page comic that costs a buck. It’s the opening salvo in this summer’s Crossover Wars, and the prelude to a metric assload of crossovers that DC has on tap. (Look, I used a triple-mixed metaphor.) Designed to entice the reader into purchasing the Infinite Crisis books that will follow, Countdown functions as an overview of the current post-Identity Crisis DC Universe, as well as a teaser for a mega-storyline featuring a suddenly evil Max Lord, Checkmate, a new version of O.M.A.C., and a sulking Batman.

A doomed Blue Beetle serves as sort of our tour-guide through the DCU as he draws closer to uncovering the plans of a shadowy government agency, whose xenophobic leader wants to eradicate superhumans with the help of some dangerous advanced technology. I was half expecting a bunch of Sentinels to show up. As I cruelly already mentioned, the mastermind of this DC version of Project: Wideawake is none other than Maxwell Lord, former financier of the Justice League. Previously Max has been portrayed as a smooth-talking, ethically challenged grifter who, deep down, is an okay guy. Here he shoots Blue Beetle in the head. I guess that’s what you call character arc.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually kind of like Countdown. It was only a buck, for God’s sakes. How can I complain? I always kind of liked Blue Beetle, but how bent out of shape should I get because they killed him off? It’s not like when they KILLED HAWKEYE FOR NO GOOD REASON!!! DAMN YOU BENNNDIIIS!!! Anyway, I can handle him getting killed, though it does perpetuate this disturbing trend of killing off characters in “event” comics. Like Hawkeye. Bendisss…

There is one really funny bit in the book: Beetle calls in a bunch of heroes to help him investigate a break-in at one of his company’s warehouses. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why you’d want Nightwing or Cyborg or Dr. Fate to look for clues, but what are all these other people doing there? It’s a hilariously contrived way of jamming as many heroes into the book as possible. What is Green Arrow going to do, fire a microscope arrow? There’s a great panel of all the heroes at the crime scene just sort of standing around contaminating any evidence that might be there. Power Girl is looking in a dumpster for God’s sake. Do you really need to call in Power Girl to check what’s inside the dumpster?

Countdown to Infinite Crisis gets extra points from me for including this line:

“It’s war with Thanagar!”


The costumed superhero, like jazz, is a uniquely American contribution to the global culture. Superman, the father of superheroes, is an enduring and iconic figure around the world – except for those poor brainwashed bastards in North Korea.

This blog modestly attempts to provide the reader with an overview of the American superhero comic, using examples culled from my vast but myopic comic book collection. Is this an exhaustive work? No. Is it exhausting? Certainly. A scholar of comics history would laugh at the glaring omissions in this volume. No Shazam? What about Will Eisner’s seminal comic The Spirit? I would then punch the scholar of comics history in his fat belly. As I said, the examples used in this work come from my own collection, and as I don’t have a $400 copy of Tales To Astonish #1 or a number of other important works, there will be some big holes. Sue me.

Here’s how it works: I pull comics from my collection and comment on them. Each commentary may have some sort of information about the comic, its creators, or why I like it or hate it. I will often swear or make derogatory comments about the comic examples. I'm assuming the reader knows very little about the subject at hand, so don't get offended if my overview of say, Iron Man seems simplistic and patronizing. Please note that the examples given are NOT the best American superhero comics, they exist only to give the reader a greater understanding of the subject. There are a few truly awful comics in here.

I hope that you enjoy your foray with me into the world of American superhero comics. And please take care of the comics -- I want them back. They may suck, they may be goofy, they may be offensive, but they’re comics and I love them. I hope you will too.

Say no more!

-David Campbell