Friday, July 25, 2008

This makes me so happy.

I admit I was a little leery of the new Batman: The Brave and The Bold series.

Then I saw this on Anticipating the worst, I clicked on the flash player.

And all was forgiven as my eyes lit up with purest geeker joy.

Glee. . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Dark and Stormy Knight.

A couple of things, mostly in relation to The Dark Knight and it's release.

Firstly, in regards to Christian Bale and his recent domestic dispute with his family. The celebrity cult culture seems determined to railroad everything into a 'Dark Knight Curse' or the like, with shades of the Crow all over this production. Personally I think it was a guy trying to deal with the emotional strain of losing a friend so suddenly and senselessly having a moment of human weakness, but of course we'll drag it out and dissect it from all angles and try to slap a convenient label on it. 'Cause that's what we do.

Was also reading reviews online of the film on the CBC website and it seems that the consensus from the Eloi seems to be that the film lacks a certain innocence about it, that it's sacrificed it's comicbook roots for a more 'serious' tone that drains the fun out of things. Check out the review here, and a despairing look at the characterization of the Joker here. I think if one digs beneath the layers of bemused condescension one can find a desire on the part of each reviewer to have 'their' version of Batman on the screen, the one that appealed to them. Ms. Onstad seems to favor the Burton version whilst Mr. Lishinski seems to favor the era of Caesar Romero and the bam, zap, pow! of the 1960s Batman television series. Neither point of view is without merit, as each successive vision of Batman has always had an appeal and a charm.

But the point seems to be that in trying to create a film that took it's subject matter seriously(or at least as seriously as you can take deformed killer clowns and people dressing as giant bats anyway), Nolan and his crew somehow took away some of the 'magic' inherent in the Batman mythos. Which to me reads that they dared to take something so declasse as a comic book and made it a challenging piece of entertainment. No, worse than that--they dared to make it approach art(pop art maybe, but still art). And comics are trash after all, a disposable medium meant solely for children. I mean, everyone knows that right? How dare those comicbook fans get notions of leaving their ghetto and be accepted by the mainstream? Gives them ideas, doncha know.

Meh, I could just be in a cranky mood. All I do know for certain is that The Dark Knight was as perfect a film as I've seen this year, and from all indicators the next adaptation to watch for is Zack Snyder's take on Alan Moore's Watchmen. It's a good time to be a fan of genre, and an even better time to be one of comics. Here's hoping for glories to come.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A brief but neccessary pause.

Sorry guys, got an article in the works but for right now it's going to have to take a backseat to. . .y'know.


We'll be back on Friday Wednesday, promise.


Ps. Sorry about that, but jeez was The Dark Knight frickin' rad. . .I needed some time to decompress. Mea culpa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hero Tune-Up: Wonder Man

'Martyrdom. . .the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.'

-George Bernard Shaw

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this one. I woke today with a lingering sense of mailaise, and have been doing my ample best to delay or postpone the work without outright throwing in the towel. I don't know if that says a whole lot in the favor of Simon Williams, but I made a promise and dammit, I'm a guy who does what he can to keep his promises, so let's go. May the wind be at our backs.

Wonder Man is a placeholder character, really. Created to put dibs on what on paper sounds like a cool name, Simon Williams has always maintained a solid C-listing in the cape and tights set of the Marvel Universe. He's somebody who'll end up on the Avengers roster because he's a character that's free to use because let's face it, nobody will. Which is a bit unfair because on the face of it, he seems to have a lot going for him. Superhumanly strong, able to fly, nearly invulnerable, and he's been back from the dead at least two or three times. He's rubbed shoulders with Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. His best pal is a former Avenger and current X-Man the Beast. Certainly there's a great deal of interesting background to Simon's character. So why doesn't he work on his own? I mean, when you come back from the dead to find an android copy in your place and the android copy is more popular than you are. . .what does that say? I think it says that Wonder Man is a cipher with the potential to become a character. He just needs that little bit of push that will accentuate his unique qualities and bring them to the fore. Those qualities we'll call Identity, Celebrity, and Immortality.

Identity: Consider the nature of Simon Williams; a young man thrust into a position of corporate authority who made a dumb move and allied himself with a supervillain, made into a godling, sacrificed his life rather than betray the Avengers, then died, only to come back from the dead to become a superhero and struggling actor. He had no head for business, got killed as a (albeit reluctanct) supervillain, was somewhat inept as a superhero, and is trying to be an actor when he has the ability to juggle tanks and Tony Stark on speed dial. Why? Why be an actor when the Avengers can give you a sweet stipend and you only have to worry about beating the crap out of the Absorbing Man every once in a while to earn your pay?

Maybe there's a bit more to it. Maybe his need to be an actor, to portray different characters on stage or screen. . .maybe that's an indication of his own need for identity, or maybe a need to escape his own. Maybe the guilt over his betrayal runs a bit deeper than he thought and he feels uncomfortable in a role he feels he hasn't really earned, so he attempts to earn acclaim and respect in another medium altogether. Of course, being an actor in Hollywood leads to another sort of recognition altogether, which leads to our second quality.

Celebrity: If celebrities are the new gods (apologies to Kirby), then what of a celebrity who has the raw power of a god? Simon certainly qualifies, and as the resident superhero of the L.A. scene he'd make for an interesting contrast between the heroic fame (the efforts of firefighters saving lives on the local news for instance) versus celebrity fame(TMZ's gawd-awful, gleefully evil razzing of anyone famous at any moment of vulnerability, to say nothing of the Entertainment Tonight/Barbera Walters 'celebrities as jus' folks sort of approach). Imagine what it must be like to have to deal with at once trying to be a committed actor and artist in an industry that wants to use you up and spit you out. Now imagine being the guy who has to protect that city and it's bloodsucking mass of neuroses and machievellian intrigue from the Wizard's latest rampage because they thought his script about his heroic efforts against that arrogant fool Reed Richard's was crap, or Dragon Man's latest rampage. The potential for stories here would run the gamut, from the hardcore superheroing of the merry Marvel manner to a bizarre mix of superheroics and Bruce Campbell's If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor. In fact, I think Campbell would be a good model to base Williams off of; heroic looking, matinee-idol looking, certainly a talented actor. . .but he keeps getting shunted into one odd project after another, never really getting that critically acclaimed mega-blockbuster.

Immortality: Simon has been dead on more than one occasion. He got better. What's that got to be like? Especially now, as a being of pure energy that just looks human? Peter David did a fun series starring Wonder Man entitled My Fair Superhero, wherein it's revealed that Simon will live for hundreds if not thousands of years. What kind of effect does that have on a guy, knowing that he's the man who can never die?

Well, as always I feel that if you're going to crib notes you should swipe from the most talented guy you can find, so I'll just snag a few thoughts and ideas from Russell T. Davies from his character of Captain Jack Harkness. A man who can't die might be a bit of a melancholy figure, at least to start with, living beyond friends and family into an increasingly uncertain future. But there might be some positive aspects too. Becoming a bit more forward thinking, a bit more patient, a bit more willing to sit down and learn because you have the time. It's a blessing and a curse, and while it'd be easy to get overly maudlin with the latter the former should have it's place too. I think tales of 'Future Simon' and his exploits would be quite fun. If nothing else, a crossover between Wonder Man and Hercules: Prince of Power would be hilarious. Two rambuncitous Avengers in the far flung future, and easily the most hedonistic pair of the bunch to boot? Get Bob Layton on the phone.

Also, there's the notion of what life means when it can't end. This could be a great oppurtunity to bring Simon's brother Eric, the villainous and undead Grim Reaper, to the fore. Would there ever be a chance for the bridges to be mended, even after thousands of battles across countless years? Brothers forgive, after all.

So there you go. Perhaps not enough to sustain an ongoing series, but certainly enough to cast the character in a slightly better light and provide for the occasional enjoyable one shot or mini-series to while away a summer's afternoon, preferrably on the patio with a coke slurpee. It's not reinventing the genre, but it is making it fun, which was kinda the point.

Huh. That wasn't such a chore, now was it?


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chris Sims is going to kill me.

Tomorrow's subject for Hero-Tune up?

This guy:

Buckle up kids, it's gonna be a bumpy ride. . .


Hero Tune-Up: The Sentry.

'Know thyself.'

'Everything you know is wrong.'
-The Firesign Theatre

Pity Robert Reynolds, the Golden Guardian of Good, charged with the power of a Million Exploding Suns granted him by his downing of an experimental formula that made a geeky and shy young teenager into a superhuman powerhouse, the Sentry! The Sentry was created by writer Paul Jenkins in one of the most enjoyable fakeouts in recent comics history; passing off the idea of a lost Stan Lee creation during the early days of Marvel Comics. The initial series was an intriguing examination of power and consequences, inner demons and true heroism. Had it been left as a simple 'What If?' sort of mini-series I think it'd stand as a really interesting and entertaining story.

Unfortunately, the Sentry was brought out of limbo by necessity; the Avengers were being restructured and there was a need to fill the caped flying brick slot left empty by the departure of the mighty Thor, so Rob Reynolds was tapped, rocking a mullett and seemingly back in action as one of the cape and tights set. The Sentry: Reborn told a story of Rob's inner struggle to both find a place in a world that had remembered him as its greatest hero, forgotten him, and then kinda remembered him again, his wife Lindy's potential infidelity, and the fact that he might very well be insane, as his id made manifest--the shadowy figure known as the Void--was seemingly on the loose again, causing mayhem and destruction in its wake. By the end of that series the new status quo was established, wherein the Void was seemingly destroyed, Rob regaining some semblance of a normal life, but with the knowledge that the Void would return to balance the scales, performing acts of atrocity to counter the Sentry's acts of heroism.

So what we have is a potential oppurtunity to explore the Marvel universe from the height of the Silver Age to the modern day via the medium of a Superman archetype, something that universe has never truly had before(though cases could be made for characters like Hyperion from the original Squadron Supreme or the Gladiator, but they're either from other dimensions or too far from Earth to really count). It's a goldmine of potential stories. You have Rob dealing with being an struggling writer as well as the mightiest human being on the planet, his wife Lindy trying to find her place in a world she'd only remembered as half a dream, at once in love with the man she marrried and pining for the god he can become, his headquarters the Watchtower, home to the world's most powerful man as well as the fellow heroes he serves with, even a superpowered (robotic) corgi known as the Watchdog. Add to it the potential to travel from the Silver to Iron Age and back again in flashback format and you can see how The Sentry could not only be a book about one man's struggle against the forces of evil from without and within but a commentary on comicbook superheroes from the beginning of the Marvel Age through to the present, and perhaps beyond.

Unfortunately, it's potential that so far has been unexplored. Not out of any sort of malice or anything I believe, but simply because of the needs of plot. Sentry is a member of the Mighty Avengers, the Government-sanctioned 'official' team that comprises Earth's Mightiest Heroes after the divisive fracas of Marvel's Civil War crossover, but he's been a member since the retooling of the team into the 'New' Avengers some years back. To say his utilization has been less than spectacular borders on understatement. Indeed, it seems that the Sentry is handled in much the same way as the animated version of Superman in the early seasons of the Justice League cartoon; have him attack the Threat of the Week and promptly have his head handed to him, to illustrated that the TotW was indeed serious business. 'Gasp and Choke! It dropped Superman/Sentry!' Of late he's been formidable enough, unless someone waves a picture of the Void at him, or impersonates the same. Then off he goes, yipe-yipe-yiping in the best Warner Bros. manner. As a result what could be one of the coolest characters created by Marvel in recent years is basically handled as the equivalent of a redshirt in Star Trek.

So needless to say, it's a tall order for today's tune-up, as the character seems pretty much totalled: a joke on most messages boards and pretty reviled in fan circles. So how do we fix the Golden Guardian, make him the best character he can possibly be? We explore what makes him work, find those aspects that intrigue the reader, and then bring those elements to the fore. For the Sentry, I'd say those aspects are Power, Duallism, and Consequence. So let's break it down:

Power: The Sentry is the result of a refinement of the super-soldier serum that created Captain America, a forumla so powerful it made Robert at once both a god and a demon. As a result, he has Superman-levels of power as a base. What he's capable of he hasn't really explored, but he could easily be the strongest non-deity on the planet save the Hulk, and the most powerful mind on the planet, right up there with Charles Xavier. Given the fact that the Void has a tactile existence outside of Rob/The Sentry, he may also be able to make his thoughts a physical reality. Given the somewhat fracturous state of Rob's mind that may not necessarily be a good thing. But the Sentry has power, scores of power, reams of it. There's the old Marvel chestnut that 'With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility', and we've seen how Peter Parker handles it. But what about godlike power? What happens when you find out you're easily the most powerful being on the planet? What would you do with it? More importantly, what couldn't you do? Throw in the fact that Rob in fact stole the formula as a young punk to get high. He wasn't special or important; anyone could have drank that formula and become their highest aspiration and their lowest depravity all at once. That's the glory and the tragedy of it; that maybe someday humanity will ascend to that level of power, but also to the depths as well.

Being one of the heaviest hitters in the Marvel Universe opens up doors for the character. Yes he can thwart the occasional bank robbery or get the odd kitten out of the tree in the best blue boy scout tradition, but equally he should be called in to deal with problems regular superheroes (hell, regular teams of superheroes) can't handle. He should be the representative of Earth to a lot of these powerful, eldritch entities. It'd be very interesting to see the Senty cross paths with Galactus I think, to say nothing of other cosmic level entities and powers. He shouldn't lose his connections with humanity, but he should be seen as the exemplar of humanity; all that it could be, for good or evil, and all the potential it could meet in time. The Sentry as a flawed example of what we could evolve into, a forerunner of humanity's potential destiny. And that flaw leads us into the second aspect.

Duallism: Imagine you down a serum that grants you incredible amounts of power. Power that could change the world, more power than maybe any one person should have. It makes you a god, with all the promise for good or evil that entails. Maybe your Clark Kents or Peter Parkers could handle that, maybe even your Billy Batsons or Mike Morans. But Robert Reynolds was a messed up kid, a schizophrenic, and when that formula interacted with his body and mind it made manifest both sides of his persona. All the Apollonian ideals went into the form of the godling Sentry, and all the Dionysian impulses went into the living shadow of the Void. In essences, the Sentry quite literally is his own worst enemy. There are unconscionable crimes on his conscience, tinted with the knowledge that this is the one enemy he may never be able to permanently defeat. After all, you can imprison most psychopaths, lock them away, even execute them if there's no other option. But if that mass murderer lives in the corners of your own head, what then? Here lies the difference that makes the Sentry so very different than his kryptonian template, than even his occasional sidekick the Incredible Hulk; the Sentry knows for certainty that the good he's done in this world has been balanced by equal acts of evil by the Void and despite the fact that he's been 'destroyed' by being tossed into the sun that avatar was only a construct. The Void can never be fully gotten rid of, because the Void is as much a part of Robert Reynolds as the Senty is. How do you come to grips with something like that? Clearly it has to be dealt with, a resolution met. The idea of a hero looking over his shoulder constantly would eventually wear thin, though the notion of the Void still being there, still offering his potential running commentary a la the god Khonshu in the current Moon Knight series is tempting. But eventually Rob would have to confront his inner angels and demons, which could lead to something entirely new. . .but that's a post for another time. For now, that conflict, that knowledge that he is at once everything he could ever hope to be and everything he fears he could be makes Rob a helluva interesting character, at least from where I'm sitting.

Consequence: The notion of consequences is something seldom explored in superhero comicbooks, and it's pretty clear why; the average superhuman battle would destroy portions of large cities and leave an atrocious bodycount, to say nothing of how different the world would look under the influence of super-science; if you have Reed Richards and Tony Stark in your world how are you not on fusion power and flying cars by now? But the fact that this take would distance the world of the ficton from the everyday world outside our door stays the hand of the editorial teams of the Big Two.

But imagine you're a guy who for a long, long time wasn't a hero. Just an ordinary guy, or so you thought. You had bills to pay, a mortgage, a wife that you loved madly (and sometimes drove you mad). Your life was wonderfully, blissfully mundane. And then you find out it's all a lie and in fact you're the mightiest superhero on the planet living in a fortress in the heart of New York city with a sentient computer and a robotic superdog, fighting guadily clad villains and oh yes, you also might be the ever so slightest bit insane, with a serial killer living somewhere in the depths of your brain. A serial killer who could--and this is the thing that keeps you up long into the night--in fact be the 'real' you. Think about the consequences of a revelation that huge. Think about how it affects you, the people around you. Your wife, your friends in 'The Life', the friends you had when you were just Rob Reynolds, aspiring writer. Your psychiatrist, their family, the whole of the world around you. With the Sentry you can explore what it is to have that insanely huge comicbook reality just dropped into the lap of an ordinary person, with all the glory and horror that it entails. You can explore what it is to actually be a superhuman being, and one that tries it's ample best to fit it's square-peg, complicated self into the round holes his contemporaries seem to handle so easily. The potential is vast indeed.

So there we go. An examination of a potential breakout character who's been handled a little shabbily (c'mon, you have to admit it just a little), and what could be done with him. If you haven't read The Sentry or The Sentry: Reborn I encourage you to do so. If you have, I'd love to hear what you thought, and what you think could be brought to the table.

'The way of a superior man is three-fold:
virtuous, he is free from anxieties,
wise, he is free from perplexities,
bold, he is free from fear.'


Monday, July 14, 2008

Hero Tune-Up: Martian Manhunter.

Final Crisis has already claimed it's first victim in the name of sales, and while I have no doubt that Grant Morrison has plans and schemes that may eventually see the return of the Manunter from Mars, I'm writing this from the perspective that the character is in fact deceased(at least until the next paradigm shift in DC Comics that leads to his inevitable return).

So why does J'onn J'onzz draw the short straw and become the sacrificial lamb of the extended Justic League family? Well the short answer would be because he's not a name character, hasn't had a title in years (save for a brief mini-series after Infinite Crisis), and is just recognizable enough to longtime fans to carry a sting while at the same time obscure enough not to explode the Internet (imagine if it'd been Batman who'd been the one with a fiery spear driven through his chest. It'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the offices of DC that day. ' A week before the release of our mega-movie featuring this guy and you kill the character off?!').

Look at his power suite; super-strength, flight, near-invulnerability, super-speed, 'martian' vision, telepathy, shapeshifting, invisibility and intangibility. He's also a detective, having been an officer of the law on his homeworld, the Red Planet of ages long since past. He's a Superman/Batman hybrid via Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian Epics, who's easily got the coolest abilities on the block. So why aren't copies of MM comics flying off the shelves?

I think it breaks down to the three As: Appearance, Accessibility, and the Alien. Let's explore these beat by beat:

Appearance: He's green, and his classic outfit just looks. . .well, it looks wrong in a modern context. I will admit the suit he had been placed in for his mini-series did indeed look cool, though the colors should be a tad brighter. To my mind J'onn isn't the Grim Avenger. He's not one for rain-slicked streets at midnight. He's one of the last creations of the Silver Age of comics, and while he shouldn't be wearing some weird bathing-suit/suspenders combo with Captain America booties, he should be rocking something a bit more traditionally superheroic.

As to the famous allegations of Morrison, that people can't get past his green skin, nah. One of the most popular movies out there right now features a shapeshifting superstrong protagonist who happens to be green, so I think the concept could be sound. It just needs a hefty injection of the second element

Accessibility: Having a superintelligent shapeshifting alien as your lead character can be a bit detrimental if you're hoping to gain your reader's emotional involvement and sustain it over a long period of time. Consider Spider-Man. He's easily one of the most popular superheroes around, because we can relate to him. Peter Parker may be a bouncing, swinging, dashing young demigod in his red and blue tights, but he's also a guy who has to make his rent, has relationship problems, and deals with a boss who is a total and complete asshat. J'onn J'onzz is a martian who masquerades as human beings, but isn't really one of them. Unlike Superman, he's seen the end of his world firsthand and remembers it's culture, painfully so at times. He enjoys his human friends and cherishes them, but recognizes that he's always going to be a little apart. Hence, the distance and seeming Olympian detachment can work as a detriment to any serious exploration of the character.

So how do we fix this? As always in times of doubt in the best use of genre archetypes and tropes I turn to Doctor Who. The Doctor is an alien, the last of his kind, and incredibly intelligent and clever. He walks among us, looking like us, but isn't really a human being. Over the years we've had the odd story where he's on his own, but most often he's accompanied by a number of human companions. These serve two functions; to provide the audience a vicarious place to put our expectations and observations serving as someone we can relate to, and to also ground the character of the Doctor a bit further into human concerns. I think J'onn needs that in order to be a more successful character. He can look human, makes himself look more human in his 'superhero' appearance, but he needs a human element. He needs someone perfectly normal to ground him, to help the audience see him as less this stern sentinel at the gate and more of a man from far away who wants to help, but isn't all that sure how to relate to us. If we feel we know someone and their point of view, it helps us to become more comfortable with them, to pull for them and understand their problems. A human secondary character (be it a person he meets in his guise as Detective John Jones or someone he saves as the Martian Manhunter he strikes up an unlikely friendship with) would be just what we need to make the character just a bit more human.

But bear in mind we only want a bit more humanity. For by and large the real appeal of the Martian Manhunter lies in the third element.

The Alien: The character of the Martian Manhunter was created during the 1950s, the heady period when the thought of life on other planets was at once thrilling and terrifying. While thrillers like Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers were scaring the bajaysus out of teens in theaters everywhere, Jack Miller and Joe Certa created a hero who'd survived his world's destruction, saw the good in humanity, and wanted to stay and help them meet their potential. With powers and abilities beyond mortal men. . .well, you get how familiar this idea is. And it is painfully easy to see J'onn as a knockoff of Superman(because, y'know, he is exactly that) but the key differences to J'onn's character make him a potential gold mine for storytelling:

1) He doesn't have any dim memories of the cataclysm that destroyed Mars; he was there on the ground when it happened. Only a freak accident, a one-in-a-million-trillion quirk of fate spared him from dying with his people. He remembers his world's science, it's art and culture, it's people with a painful vividness(being of a telepathic people must mean everything new is shared and disseminated across the entire mass consciousness of a people, with maybe the option to pick and choose, a reassuring background noise inside the mind. Now it's just silence). Unlike Clark Kent, J'onn wasn't raised by humans, he arrived on their world as a refugee, a survivor who had to learn to acclimate to his new environment. That he enjoys Earth and likes its people is beside the point. He's not from here and he knows it.

2) That said, he does have the unique vantage point of being Earth's protector, as well as an immigrant who's come to this planet and become quite comfortable with it. He's a booster for humanity as well as a stalwart guardian. With his abilities he's experienced human existence from just about every point of view and enjoys their culture and art with the enthusiasm of an older brother figure. He gets frustrated with the depths humanity can sink to (militarism and humankind's genius for war strikes him very, very White Martian), but at the same time it's tinted with the knowledge that one day humanity will (with luck) inherit the stars the way his people once did. Simply put, in my opinion he's often cast as sort of DC's take on the Silver Surfer, and that isn't the best fit. He's more Doctor than Surfer in my opinion.

3) He's an alien, but he's also a hero. That heroism comes from a desire to see justice done (the Manhunters were an investigatory body on Mars) and to protect the innocent. J'onn should take that duty seriously, but also recognizing as a telepath a fundemental universal truth: doing good deeds feels good. It's giving of yourself for another, creating bonds of camaraderie and friendship. On Mars that feeling must have been even more intense, and by doing his best to help others on Earth, he's keeping the last embers of his heroic life on mars(pardon the pun) alive, while at the same time showing that he's there to help.

So there we go, some problems addressed and potential solutions suggested. Of course, as with anything, your mileage may vary, but I think we can see that the character of the Martian Manhunter has storytelling potential, and could easily carry a series(or at least a series of mini-series). What do you think?

Until next time.


Check one two, can you hear what I'm sayin'. . .

Well. Here we are now. I'd always initially resisted the idea of creating a blog, as I'd felt some sort of residual loyalty to livejournal (I know, I know) as the place I'd first set up shop to post my important thoughts, notions (and let's face it, angst) out into the ethereal public forum that is the Internet. I'd originally intended my LJ account to be a kind of catch-all place where I could discuss popular culture and my life and how the two interacted. Unfortunately, as great as it is a place where I can talk to friends and share some of my notions, livejournal sometimes feels a bit too intimate at times. It is after all meant to be something of a journal or diary, and as such you tend to be a bit more lax with it. I mean, it's yours after all. If you miss a day or two nobody's really going to castigate you or call you out on the carpet.

But after peeking my head out of the lj warren I saw the totality of very hip blogs out on Blogger and elsewhere and decided that I should expand. Not really one giant leap, but a small hop in the hopes that a slightly more public forum will encourage me to write more and keep the scribbler fires stoked.

So, you ask, what will TCD have to say that I can't find in like a zillion other comics blogs? Well, apart from an erudite, charming, and--let's face it--dead sexy host I think you'll find a personable sort of guy that likes to talk comics, pop culture, and writing and is pretty enthusiastic about storytelling in all it's varied shapes. I hope to have reviews of books I'm reading, comicbooks I think you should check out, and my own little bits and pieces of creative errata I'll throw your way. It's kind of my hope to be a bit of a booster, bringing some enthusiasm and accentuating what we all can enjoy. If it runs a bit too close to being an extended episode of The Chris Farley Show I trust you'll pull me back from the ledge, but I also don't want to become ComicBook Guy either. We'll try to walk that tightrope together.

Simply put, this is a place of enjoyment. It's a diversion from the everyday world that I hope you enjoy. Think of it kind of like a tastefully appointed reading room, one that every reader secretly yearns and hopes to have, with those rich leather armchairs, the bookshelves with those wonderful rolling ladders stretching up and up, the crackling fire keeping the chill of the mundane world at bay. We sit around in silence, reading and enjoying our various entertainments, but unlike the Diogenes Club we can look up and talk things over, share what we enjoyed about what we've experienced in a respectful, friendly atmosphere. If that appeals to you, then welcome aboard.

I'll wrap things up by giving you a teaser of what I hope to do this week. Starting Monday I'm going to be looking at some 2nd or 3rd tier comicbook heroes that I feel may deserve a second look, be they long time creations or newer ideas that haven't gotten the attention I feel they deserve. Each day of the week will have it's own alliteratively appropriate character. Who will we be starting with later today?

J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, the latest casualty of the Crossover Craze(see what I mean? Tightrope). Tomorrow we'll discuss why this character hasn't worked in the past, and why he could well be a potential goldmine in disguise. Until then.