Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Terror Week rolls on and on!

I was bored in a meeting so I drew this absolutely terrifying picture. Beware to the trick-or-treaters who refuse to acknowledge the supremacy of Dr. Doom!

Horror with a heart - Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

I love horror movies, but it’s a sad fact that most of them suck wet ass. With the glut of “torture porn” movies and PG-13 jump-scare flicks targeted at 15-year old girls, it can be tough to find a halfway decent horror movie these days.

I enjoyed 30 Days of Night, although it shared the same flaws that its comic book source material had. (That aerial shot of the vampires running amok was pretty sweet, though, wasn’t it?) I’ve heard good things about the indy slasher movie Hatchet, which looks fun. But it’s rare to find a good scary flick anymore. You can imagine how pleased I was when I found a horror movie that I not only could tolerate, but genuinely loved.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is like a big blood drenched Valentine to all those slasher flicks that scared the shit out of me as a kid. It works as a horror movie, as a cultural satire, and as a comedy. It’s fantastic and you should stop reading this and put it at the top of your Netflix queue right now. I’ll wait.

Back? Good. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Behind the Mask begins as a mockumentary created by college student Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) and her crew that follows the training and planning of Leslie Vernon, an aspiring mass-murderer. In the universe of the film, slashers like Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees are not only real, they are the subject of study and admiration for Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a chipper Prius-driving young man who is truly devoted to mastering his craft – his chosen trade just happens to be stalking and massacring teenagers.

Vernon explains in detail the tricks of the slasher trade and the meaning behind his impending slaughter of a virginal teen and her friends. It’s a clever and very funny deconstruction of the tropes of slasher movies, but you can tell that the filmmakers have a real affection for the source material. This is loving satire, not parody.

Nathan Baesel is pitch-perfect as Leslie Vernon, who carefully constructs a fake local mythology surrounding his slasher and meticulously prepares the haunted house and apple orchard which is the center of the fake folklore and hunting ground for the anticipated partying teenagers. He rigs the lights to a remote control so he can plunge the house into darkness, weakens the branches on trees so the kids can’t escape from the second floor, constructs secret passageways, sabotages a tool shed full of potentially defensive weaponry, nails the windows on the bottom floor shut, etc. – all while he talks about the benefits of cardio and the Jungian/Freudian symbolism of the bond between slasher and the virginal “survivor girl” who is the focus of his twisted attention. Leslie Vernon is hilarious and endearing and, much like the documentary crew, we’re drawn into his world and don’t really want him to stop.

Of course, there comes a point when Taylor and the film crew must decide whether to intervene, step away, or keep filming – and that’s when the mockumentary stops and the movie shifts gears and becomes a full-on horror movie. There’s an unexpected twist that makes complete sense and lots of mayhem, including a great kill where a victim’s heart is removed from his chest with a post-digging tool.

My only complaint about the third act of Behind the Mask is that it’s not scary enough. At this point in my life I may be immune to stuff like this, but I felt like director Scott Glosserman could have pumped up The Scary a little more.

Overall I thought it was fantastic and I think you will, too. The script is clever, the performances are spot-on, the concept is fantastic (and not as similar to the Belgian flick Man Bites Dog as it sounds), and most importantly, Behind the Mask’s heart is in the right place – lying on the ground next to a busted open sternum.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Terror Week: Horrifying Real Ghost Videos!

Do you believe in ghosts?

Ever since my pal and I saw an eerie little girl with a red ball in the woods, I have... not really believed in ghosts. I mean, we thought she was a ghost at the time, but there is probably a rational and totally non-supernatural reason why a little girl with a red ball would be out in the woods by herself early one Sunday morning. The most plausible explanation would likely be the Hunter S. Thompsony activities my pal and I were up to the previous night, if you know what I mean.

My personal explanation for ghosts is sort of a half-baked theory about "psychic" energy and how powerful emotions can leave a lingering after-image in the physical world. It's more fun to think that ghosts are actual dead people, but that opens up a whole theological can o' worms that Agnostic Dave can't wrap his secular mind around.

But this is Terror Week, and for all purposes, ghost are real. I can prove it to you, I have it on video! Video never lies. Let's take a look at the three most horrifying real ghost videos on the Internet - they will make you believe.

Portuguese Hitchiking Phantom

Unless your rental car has ghost collision insurance, do not pick up hitchikers in Portugal. They will fuck your car up real bad.

Here's a looong video about three crazy kids who are driving around in the middle of the night and something terrible happens. Good thing one of them was filming the whole thing! While I appreciate the intent of the film makers in trying to capture the whole raw video cinema verite thing, I think they could have cut this video in half and still achieved the same effect. After five minutes of them driving around you just want the ghost to show up and kill them already!

Wait a second - am I saying this video is fake, as in fictional? Well, yes. Click here - my Portuguese is a little rusty, but the website basically says, "I hope you liked video of ghost that I am made, support donkeys by buying DVD for very green rapist man!" Like I said, my Portuguese is a little shaky.

Pontianak Attack!

Here's another TOTALLY REAL video of some soldiers in Singapore wigging out when they are confronted by a blurry thing that giggles like an anime schoolgirl. Is it a Pontianak, a blood sucking vampire woman? You make the call.

This video never fails to crack me up, because the guy's reaction to the evil female ghost is so heartfelt and profane. Warning: NSFW audio that will make you laugh.

"Welcome the dude who ain't the buyer of mugs."

Finally, a video that probably half of the online world has seen but I will share with you anyway. Be warned: it is TERRORFYING!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brace yourself for an odyssey into TERROR!

Halloween draws nigh, so I welcome you to Terror Week here at Dave's Long Box. Suit up, my friends, because like Donald Pleasance and Racquel Welch you and I are about to embark upon a Fantastic Voyage into the core of your reptilian brain to discover the Source of All Fear! (I'll be Racquel Welch in this metaphor if you don't mind.)

What is the Source of All Fear?

Sabertooth tigers.

Everything boils down to a fear of sabertooth tigers. Since the days when our primitive hominid ancestors tread the Earth, our brains have been hardwired to be afraid of sabertooth tigers, and possibly volcanoes. Everything boils down to that. Scared that the guy tailgating you might be a mass murderer? Your reptile brain really thinks he's a sabertooth tiger. Nervous about walking alone to your car in a big empty parking garage in the middle of the night? The primitive core of your mind thinks there may be tigers of the sabertooth variety about. Afraid of doing that big presentation at work? Actually, that's just you being a pussy.

Anyway, since Halloween is nearly upon us in the States (in Canada they have to wait until mid-November*) I thought it would be a good time to post about Scary Shit of the real and imagined kind.

The other week we had a big Fall windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn't so bad - last year's was way worse - but it was not a good day to be a commuter on the Washington State Ferry system, which I am. Here's a shot of one of the big-ass car ferries plowing through some heavy waves on Puget Sound. See that area that's underwater? That's the auto bay.

I usually walk on the ferries to get to work in Seattle, but occasionally I drive, and when I do I like to hang out in my car and listen to NPR and plot the demise of my foes. I'm just happy I wasn't on that boat at the time - that would have been TERRORFYING! Thanks to my dad for forwarding me that picture, BTW.

Each year I get a little more ambitious with the Halloween decorations around the house. It must run in the family, because my sister decorates the inside and outside of her house big time. Her house has more of a Martha Stewart vibe - lots of tasteful black swag and cornstalks and white pumpkins. Mine is more of a traditional homemade yard haunt, with cobwebs and black lights and a graveyard and spooky portraits - stuff like that.

I still haven't gotten around to creating some of my dream layouts that I've talked about in the past, like the Oprah Encounter yard haunt. However, this year I've created the Doom O' Lantern, the only pumpkin in my 'hood that honors Dr. Doom. Behold, and know fear:

Those who come to my house this Halloween must acknowledge Doom as their master or they don't get shit.

KIDS: Trick or treat!
ME: Oh, look at you guys! Let's see - we got a ninja, black costume Spider-Man, a fairy princess. Wow, you look great. One question before you get candy: is Doctor Doom your lord and master?
KIDS: No. Who's that?
ME: Out. All of you. Leave.
KIDS: Wh-what about candy?
ME: Doom does not reward the foolish and weak with candy. Get off my porch, now.
KIDS: You're mean!
ME: Hey, fuck you pal. Dr. Doom has kicked Spider-Man's ass I don't know how many times. Blow.
KIDS: B-but...
ME: I said "BLOW!"
KIDS: (crying, running)

That's how I roll on Halloween - deal with it.

OK, let's begin Terror Week! Let us do this thing!

Monday, October 22, 2007

SUPERMAN #9 DC Comics, 1987

Look at that cover.

That is a SHOCKER of a comic book cover! Somebody needs to tell Superman that green eye shadow doesn't work with his outfit - I don't care if he's been hit with Joker venom or not, it just doesn't work. And those eyebrows! Damn. Somebody get the Queer Eye guys in here, 'cause Superman needs some manscaping, stat.

I am an unreserved fan of John Byrne's relaunch of the Superman books in the mid-Eighties. Byrne wrote and drew a completely revamped Superman with the ground-breaking mini-series Man of Steel, then followed up with a new Superman comic and a brand new Action Comics team-up title. Times were good for Superman fans.

In this issue, written and pencilled by Byrne with inks by Karl "Under Twelve Parsecs" Kessel, The Joker decides that Gotham isn't challenging enough so he comes to Metropolis to screw with Superman. That's just asking for trouble. But The Joker is crazy and ambitious, so it's understandable if not wise.

The story is short, but longer than you would think a Superman vs Joker match-up would run. I'd say it would last all of three panels under normal circumstances, but John Byrne uses The Riddler Factor to good effect here, postponing the inevitable and lopsided showdown between godlike alien being and skinny clown for as long as possible.

As stated elsewhere, The Riddler Factor is:

"...that combination of luck, moxie, and plot contrivance that allows lame
villains to survive when they are hopelessly outclassed by their superhero
opponents. "

The whole thing begins with a clone of Superman robbing the Metropolis Diamond exchange by getting all Jokery and releasing deadly green gas from his robot ears. Like so:

Turns out the Superman robot has a live thermonuclear bomb in its chest, which Superman takes care of by flying it into space, of course. That sort of begs the question: if The Joker has enough resources to build a nuclear bomb gas-spewing Superbot, why is he using it to rob jewelry stores? Because he's batshit insane, that's why.

Actually, the whole thing is part of a plot to screw with Superman. Because, as The Joker says, "Why not?" Oh, Joker, you so crazy!

One thing I am not crazy about is Byrne's take on the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. If memory serves, Byrne was just carrying over the Joker character design he used for the Legends mini-series. I'm a big fan of Legends, but that doesn't mean I like this look for the Joker. Check him out in this crappy scan which I swear I did not do at work:
The Joker looks creepy, but not in a scary psychopath way. It's more of a funhouse mirror kind of creepy.

Look at him. He's got David Byrne's puffy suit wardrobe, Karen Carpenter's diet plan, Donald Trump's eyebrows, George Washington's teeth, and Alien jaws. What the hell, man? I mean, clearly he's exagerrated for effect, but how does his mouth work? What would the Byrne Joker's skeleton look like, a Whitley Streiber alien? Hey, don't get me wrong, I think The Joker should be grotesque but I also think he should be recognizably human. Just a little nitpicking for you.

Minor quibbles aside, this issue was great. I'm a huge fan of Kessel's inks over Byrne's pencils and I thought this was just a great light-hearted done-in-one story.

This issue also features a fantastic Lex Luthor back-up story that deserves a post all its own.

In the short story, Lex stops his limo at a roadside diner for some bacon & eggs and a little casual, life-wrecking cruelty.

He picks a foxy married waitress named Jenny and offers her one million dollars if she'll jettison her life and come to Metropolis with him for one month. That's one million dollars for thirty days of sex with Luthor. I'd ask for two million. He tells the waitress he'll wait in his limo outside for ten minutes and then his offer will be off the table. Oh, BTW can he have his breakfast in a to-go container? KTHX

It is established that the waitress is married to a bit of a jerk, but the decision is gut-wrenching. Should she dump him and leave her simple life for a month of God-knows-what in Luthor's crib? Oh, what to do?

Of course, Lex drives off before the ten minutes have elapsed. In his limo he gloats, "Jenny Hubbard will never know what her final choice would have been. And that question will torment her for the rest of her meaningless life!" We learn that he does this stuff all the time.

I love that story! It should be called "Lex Luthor: Total Asshole."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From the Department of Corrections: NEWSFLASH - Deathstroke has ONE EYE!

You may have noticed in my last post I talked a little bit about Deathstroke the Terminator, who I claim to be a "big fan" of. One could certainly question the depth of someone's devotion to Deathstroke if they were to write/utter the following statement:

I meant that he purposefully wears his one-eyed hood to handicap himself. Clearly that's not right. I mean, Deathstroke is wearing a frickin' eyepatch in the very issue I was writing about. I scanned the image above of shirtless, nippleless eye-patch wearing Deathstroke from the Turkish Bath scene in New Teen Titans #34. I'm telling you, those comic books had something for everybody.

Anyway, I feel shame so I had to you know, make a correction and shit. I mean, it's like, what was I thinking? Dude, he's Deathstroke - he has one eye. Like Nick Fury, his one eye thing is part of his schtick, his branding. Man, I'm slipping.

I don't know, I feel like an aging gunslinger or David Lee Roth or something. There's always some hot shit kid nipping at your heels, waiting for you to slip... And you always do...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NEW TEEN TITANS #34 DC Comics, 1983

Forget about Trigon, the Wildebeest, and the Team Titans - The Judas Contract is the definitive New Teen Titans plot, the equivalent of the X-Men's Death of Phoenix storyline.

This particular issue, New Teen Titans #34, was the big reveal, the "holy shit!" issue where readers learned the shocking truth about Terra, the annoying buck-toothed heroine with the Prince Valiant haircut who was inducted into the ranks of the Titans - she was Amish! No, wait - she was a traitor, a mole planted on the Titans' by their mortal enemy Deathstroke the Terminator.

I love this storyline because I got to experience it in real time as it unfolded every month. I’ve already extolled the virtues of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s densely packed, more superhero for your buck run on Titans and how the colorful and shiny cast of DC heroes was a perfect counter-balance to all the Marvel books I was getting at the time. I got hooked on the issue where the young heroes battle giant animated Hindu statues in the snow and had to get every issue thereafter.

Terra Markov was a brash heroine with a boulder/chip on her shoulder who could telekinetically manipulate rock and earth – the perfect character for artist George Perez, the master of drawing rubble. For several issues she bitched and whined and tried to worm her way on to the Titans roster, until she finally proves herself in a (staged) battle with Deathstroke in this issue.

I dig Terra's powers - they look great - but I'm not a huge fan of the character herself, and this issue just confirmed that Young Dave was right to not like her! Vindicated!

Anyway, after seemingly vanquishing Deathstroker (that's a dumb pun, not a typo), the rest of the Titans decide to invite Terra to join their special club.

The Titans were perhaps not the most sensitive peer group. Terra’s hard luck story about being raised by terrorists falls on deaf ears among the team, who each have traumatic histories that would put most people in therapy. Here they blow off Terra’s attempts at inducing sympathy:

“Big fucking deal, girl. I got all burnt and exploded and now look at me – I’m a goddamn robot. I’m all hideous and shit.”

“I sympathize, Terra, but my father is a demon lord and I occasionally grow extra eyes on my forehead and try to kill my friends. Beat that.”

“I’m a total fox, but I have like, twenty different origins and I’m in love with a red-haired loser with a beard. A beard.”

“I was a slave for years and I have no pupils. I also trip over my hair all the damn time. Then again, I'm stacked.”

“I have green skin and hair and have to wear this red and white outfit. Plus: no penis."

“Two Face killed my parents and I wear bikini bottoms. And I grew up in a cave full of goddamn bats and a psycho drill sergeant surrogate father who regularly thrust me into combat unarmed against people with guns. Every other night I got knocked out or tied up or strapped to a giant cue ball. So I ain’t trying to hear that shit you're talking.”

“I’m a Republican.”

Nope, not a lot of empathy for the buck-toothed rock girl in Titans Tower.

The other thing that this issue had going for it was Deathstroke the Terminator, one of the coolest villains ever, a man who dresses in blue and orange and somehow makes it work; a man with perfectly good eyesight who covers up one eye because it wouldn't be fair to his opponents if he used two; a man who sports a DC Beard (see Green Arrow, Warlord) when he's not in costume; a man with not one but three kick-ass names (Deathstroke/The Terminator/Slade); a man who uses 90% of his brain at all times because it wouldn't be sporting to use the full 100%. He is perhaps the most bad-ass villain in the DC Universe this side of Kobra - and he knows it.

At this point in the Titans Timeline he is just referred to as The Terminator. I'm not sure where he picked up the "Deathstroke" handle. Prison? Don't judge, man, we all do what we have to in order to survive.

Anyway, it turns out Deathstroke is the chief architect behind the whole Judas Contract plot, which doesn't really pan out in the end, but must have seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm just glad it was Deathstroke and not somebody lame like Clock King. I won't even mention his prison name.

Man, DC was firing on all cylinders in the Eighties. If you'll notice in the barcode box on the cover, they attempted a rebranding. They were "The New DC" and there was "no stopping them now!" I'm glad they settled on that slogan as opposed to some of their other attempts at hip, edgy branding:

Yeah, maybe a little too agressive...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Flip Test

One trick that overworked “readers” in Hollywood use to decide whether a script is worth checking out is the flip test. Goes like this: you start from the back of the script and flip forward, scanning the pages without actually reading the words in order to see if the script has a good balance of action and dialogue. Are there huge chunks of scene direction squatting like monoliths on the pages? Or endless long-winded passages of dialogue that straggle from one page to the next? If the screenplay doesn’t have a nice variety of direction and dialogue, it probably sucks and isn’t worth reading.

Does that seem fair? Maybe not, but if you had to read a million point six screenplays and write coverage reports for your producer bosses, you would probably think otherwise. From what I understand, the flip test is actually a pretty good way of determining whether your boss will want to read the damn thing. Remember, this is Hollywood we’re talking about. They’re interested in making money, not high art.

I’m working on a screenplay right now (one of the reasons I’m not posting a lot these days) and I keep the flip test in mind as I crank out the pages. Bear with me, I’m going somewhere with all this.

My number one job in writing the script is to entertain the person who is going to read it. A big part of that means to make it as easy as possible to read. If I’m writing a big action scene you can bet I’m not going to have huge blocks of unbroken text describing the action – it is death to read. You gotta break that shit up. Similarly, big dialogue scenes will be interspersed with scene direction to add more variety to the page – it just reads better.

I used to work in a comic book store back in The Day, but nowadays I’m just a consumer. I have X amount of time and Y amount of money to spend in a comic book store, and so I’ve started doing my own flip test on comics I think I might like to buy.

Sure, there are some books I will pick up just because certain writers or artists are involved, but lately I’ve been doing the flip test and it’s a surprisingly painless way of making comic buying decisions easy.

(Before you think I’m being callous or flippant, which I kinda am, I would remind you that we all do the flip test when we watch movie previews. In two and a half minutes you make up your mind whether you want to spend money on a flick or pass.)

I love Thor! Let’s check out the Straczynski/Copiel relaunch. Flip, flip, flip… Wait a second, where’s all the head-smashing? Maybe this is just a slow issue, let’s look at another one. Flip, flip, flip… OK, I’m just scanning this from back to front, but I see a lot of talky-talky and not a lot of hammer-to-skull. PASS.

That was easy.

New Avengers! Bendis’ Mamet-y dialogue and Leinil Yu’s vascular artwork. I haven’t picked this up in a while. Flip, flip, flip… Hey, this entire issue takes place during one plane ride? Hmm. What about this issue? Flip, flip, flip… Lots of talking, Wolverine gets shot in the crotch… Sorry, the talking to action ratio seems off. They must want me to wait for the trade. PASS.

OK, let’s give DC a chance. I haven’t picked up that Blue Beetle book yet. Flip, flip, flip… Looks kinda cute, lots of jumping and fighting. Flip, flip, flip… Hmm, there’s some talking and shit, too, so there must be a plot… Flip, flip, flip… Oooh, look, it’s Giganta! SOLD!

This may all seem very glib, but I guess I’m trying to make a point. I don’t want to buy an individual comic book that is really just a chapter in the inevitable trade paperback collection. I want to buy a comic, a 22 page floppy, that stands on its own. The entire industry seems to have drifted from producing comics as an end product towards producing comics that will be repackaged in a couple of months in trade form.

Well, fuck that.

I’m not saying you can’t publish a quiet issue or a ball-busting all-action issue of a certain comic. But if I’m browsing through my local comic shop and have ten minutes and twenty bucks to spend, you had better GRIP MY SHIT. Sorry, if I’ve never seen an issue of Ultimate Spidey before and I pick up 22 pages of Mary Jane and Peter talking on a bed? (I know I’ve used this example before, but Jesus, it still bugs me) I’m never going to buy your comic. I’m a consumer looking for a good comic in a crowded market place, and you blew it.

I don’t want to wait five issues for something exciting to happen in Thor. I don’t want to buy a chapter in your trade paperback. I want a fucking good comic NOW and if you can’t deliver, if your story telling strategy is to “pace for the trade” then you’ve lost me and my measly twenty bucks. Every issue is somebody’s first and somebody’s last, and unless you make EVERY ISSUE entertaining and gripping, forget it. You don’t deserve my cash.

You didn’t pass the flip test.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Off Topic: The Red Baron

One of my pipe dreams was to write the definitive Red Baron screenplay, but dreams are made to be crushed and urinated upon, aren't they?

A German production of The Red Baron has been underway for years now and the film will finally be released in 2008. I'm a little bummed out because I have to put my dream of writing the Red Baron movie on my Shelf of Broken Dreams, right next to "marrying Linda Carter" and "driving a hovercraft to school." However, I must say the movie looks kick ass, if this effects reel is any indication:

I'm not sure why they have the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or whoever doing the music, but that looks pretty bad ass, doesn't it? I'll reserve final judgement because I've been burned before by WWI aviator flicks. I'm looking at you, Flyboys. Anybody see that? I hated that movie. I actually walked out of the theater with ten minutes left to go - me, who will watch and enjoy any old piece of crap movie. That's how insultingly bad Flyboys was.

Anyway, I'm cautiously optimistic and a little melancholy about The Red Baron. Sure, I didn't get to write the damn thing, but if anybody is going to do a good movie about Manfred von Richthofen, it would be German film makers. I'll gladly have my dreams gunned down by their twin Spandaus if they can just deliver and make a movie worthy of the Ace of Aces, the greatest combat flyer the world has ever seen.

Don't let me down, guys.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

B-List Bad Guys From Back in the Day

I like old shit; sue me.

Once it’s had a chance to dehydrate and season a little, old shit is easier to handle than new shit. With new shit you get so hung up on the smell that it’s hard to value the form and texture of the shit itself. Old shit has been sitting there for a while in the grass, waiting patiently for you to come along and appreciate it, or just step in it. Yep, I like old shit and so do folks like Alex Ross, Grant Morrison, and my dog Trixie.

Oh my God, what the fuck am I going on about? Way to stretch a metaphor to the point of breaking, Dave.

I was going somewhere with the old shit analogy. Just be thankful I stopped myself before I stopped talking about nutty old shit. I think my point was, it’s OK to like old stuff, provided nostalgia doesn’t blind you to the fact that new shit can be pretty good, too. Wallowing in old shit is insular and regressive and unsanitary – if you’re just listening to old Freedom Rock all the time you’ll never get exposed to all the awesome new rock out there.

Let’s abruptly segue away from the poo talk and chat about old school villains.

Man, they don’t make villains like they used to, do they? Sure, there are some exceptions – I thought Prometheus from JLA was pretty cool, and Bearded Dude from Brubaker’s Captain America run, and Cassandra Nova from X-Men was creepy as hell – but most of the heavyweight comic book bad guys were created in the last century. Let’s face it – Doom reigns supreme. How you gonna top that? (psst... click on the picture of Doom to find out what his favorite breakfast food is. Thanks to Dave Lartigue for the pic.)

I've always been a sucker for minor villains in pretty much any medium (e.g., my love note to Arnold Vosloo and his character Pik from Hard Target). The arch-villain's henchman in the Bond movies is often more interesting to me than the arch-villain himself. While you could argue that Kobra is not a minor villain, let's face it, he's not on the A-list. Anyway, after this lengthy and feculent preamble, let's look at some bad ass bad guys.

Deadline - In comic books, if you've got a good character design you're half way there. For whatever reason, Deadline really works for me. I dig his armor, his little Mister Miracle hover discs, and his "NO" logo. A super-tech assassin who can phase through walls, Deadline first appeared in the pages of Starman (the purple and yellow version of the character). Talk about the minor leagues, yeeesh. He's appeared in Aquaman and Flash and Suicide Squad, but has never really caught on with the general public. Except me - I think he's neat-o.

Black Manta - What a cool costume. This Aquaman villain has the distinction of being a member of the Legion of Doom on the SuperFriends cartoon, where I think he was just called "Manta." Black Manta has appeared in tons of comics, but never seems to get the respect he deserves - perhaps because his initials are B.M. I described Black Manta's most hilarious and noteworthy appearance right here, which should give you all the reasons you need to love him as much as I do.

Titanium Man - An armored relic of the Cold War, Titanium Man could have been called Iron Man's Whipping Boy with some accuracy. This Russian juggernaut of emerald evil has been around longer than I have, but my favorite incarnation was in the pages of the X-Men/Avengers mini-series, where it was revealed that the green giant was being piloted by the diminutive and encephalitic villain The Gremlin. That's like two awesome villains in one! I particularly dug Marc Silvestri's design of T-Man. As long as you look cool and act like you know what you're doing, people will like you. I will like you. Wolverine is not so sure, however.

Silver Banshee - Come on, give it to John Byrne - that is a fucking awesome character design. I get the impression that this Superman villainess was intended only for one storyline, but artists liked drawing her so much that she keeps popping up. Art Adams drew a particularly busty version of Silver Banshee on one cover, if I recall. She's dreamy, in a Halloween sort of way.

BTW, Rob Zombie wrote the song "Living Dead Girl" about her, no lie.*

Johnny Sorrow - Cool name? Check. Cool design? Check. Cool power? Oh, yeah.

Geoff Johns created a fake Golden Age back story for this JSA villain, whose interdimensional trip to Cthulhuland gave him a creepy power. If he takes off his mask and you see his "face," you totally die. How does he shave?

Oh. Right. No face.

Crossbones - He's the Anti-Cap, a dirty-fighting son of a bitch who can go toe-to-toe with his nemesis Captain America. No, I'm not talking about Batroc.

First introduced during Mark Gruenwald's legendary run on Cap, Crossbones has been used to good effect in recent years by writers who are as fond of the guy as I am. I think Kieron Dwyer came up with Crossbones' distinctive pro-wrestler/pirate aesthetic, which is part of his charm.

Kobra - The budget-rate Dr. Doom of the DC Universe, Kobra is my favorite B-list master villain. I love him so much I actually devoted an entire week to him. Check it out here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here. Here. Here. And here as well. And finally, here. Man, I had a lot to say about Lord Naga Naga. It's because there's so much to love.

OK, let's wrap this up. I think I'm going to have to do another one of these because I didn't even touch on Bolt, Merlyn, Marvel's Jack O'Lantern, or The Bros. Grimm. Next time, I guess. There's a lot of old shit out there...

*This is a lie.