Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Continuing my appreciation of Akira Kurasawa's work, I've lined up the Hidden Fortress... which apparently was a major influence on George Lucas' Star Wars. I had to throw in a few other things first though, so I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Got Kurasawa's 1954 "The Seven Samuari" on Netflix the other day. It's no wonder it's such an influential film! If you haven't seen it, do.
Jill and I spent a week in Key West, including celebrating New Years' Eve with the dropping of the pirate wench from the mast of a tall ship at the Schooner Wharf bar. We camped out for free on Wisteria island for the week, taking advantage of the 5$ water taxi to shuttle us back and forth from the Key and to our friend Rob's sailboat. We enjoyed the hospitality of a good number of wonderful folks, including Hanrow, who let us crash at his secluded vacation house and threw a big cookout for us and our friends, Jill and Mike, who waved 7 of us on board their charter catamaran to the Dry Tortugas without asking us to pay the usual 110$+ per head fee, and Gavin a sociable local who met us each morning at the island with a steady supply of freshly caught and cleaned fish and daily breakfast joints.

We got in some snorkelling, spent a day sailing, drank our weight in rumrunners, smoked cigars rolled in front of us by expat cuban master cigar makers, marvelled at the tree roosters and banyans, had a delicious dinner of grilled yellowtail and curried carrot soup at a nice outdoor restaurant where Earnest Hemmingway used to host boxing matches when there weren't any cock fights scheduled. We also enjoyed the Key West Aquarium (which Gavin got us into for free), the Mel Fisher Atocha museum, and a menagere of escape artists, fire eaters, jugglers, and street performers including an insane frenchman with a "flying housecat" acrobatic show.

We weren't very disappointed to learn that an accident on the interkey highway would make us miss our flight home and have to stay for a couple of extra days while y'all enjoyed the snowstorm. :)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Gnome Droppings
Funnybook Facts

Hooo boyee! bat-fans rejoice. Frank Miller is returning to Batman with Jim "Insert Angelic Choir Here" Lee!!!


January 6th, 2005 -

Superstar artist Jim Lee will be joined by legendary writer and Batman visionary Frank Miller on DC's upcoming ALL-STAR: BATMAN AND ROBIN. The series, scheduled to make its debut later this year, marks Miller's first work on the Dark Knight since 2001's acclaimed THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN, and Lee's return to Batman following 2002's best-selling "Hush" storyline in BATMAN.

"If there was one creator I wanted to work with when I was a fan, it would have been Frank Miller," says Lee, "so after this project, I think I'm going to be ready to retire! Seriously, it will be the pinnacle of my career so far, and I can't wait to get started. Frank and I have had a couple of meetings about the story, and it's going to rock!"

Copy from DC Dot Com

Check out the link for the full story!!! (Source)

Also check out this article from the Washington Post Dot Com. The next Comics Gnome article deals with the "Human Condition" in funnybooks. With the "Crisis to Crisis" article available, I thought this piece would be welcome. There are no spoilers to ruin your good time with the "I.D. Crisis" but the Journalist, Jabari Asim is moved by the funnybook. The funnybook "did it's job" so to speak as the Comics Gnome would say.

Comic Books and the Human Condition

By Jabari Asim
Monday, January 3, 2005; 10:52 AM

WASHINGTON -- I'd like to think that Susan Sontag would have sympathy for my preoccupation with comic books.

Sontag's death on Dec. 28 occasioned a flurry of obituaries and appreciations, most of which included provocative quotes from her many published works. My favorite comes from her essay "Notes on 'Camp"': "The man who insists on high and serious pleasures is depriving himself of pleasure; he continually restricts what he can enjoy; in the constant exercise of his good taste he will eventually price himself out of the market, so to speak."

How I wish I could have summoned similar eloquence when Miss Enright, my eighth-grade English teacher, launched into an ear-splitting denunciation of my love of comics. "That trash will just rot your brain," she bellowed. She believed the mind was uniquely suited for the absorption of "real" literature. Miss Enright was not chastising me for failing to keep up with the reading list, mind you. She was objecting to my reading comic books even on my own time. I had no notion of Sontag then, or any interest in investigating the relationship between so-called high culture and low. Mark Twain and Jack London were cool with me, but so was the Legion of Superheroes.

Sontag, who managed to defend the excesses of modern culture while not owning a television, was celebrated -- and occasionally vilified -- for her efforts to synthesize seemingly disparate art forms. "When I go to a Patti Smith concert," she once famously asserted, "I enjoy, participate, appreciate and am tuned in better because I've read Nietzsche."

I can't lay claim to such potent qualifications, although by now I'm savvy enough to make the appropriate noises. "Comic books provide valuable insight into the human condition," I've been known to proclaim. It was in search of such insight that I curled up last week with the hotly anticipated conclusion of a DC Comics series called "Identity Crisis."

DC Comics published the final issue in mid-December, wrapping up a complicated mystery in which the loved ones of superheroes appear to be targeted for death. It was written by Brad Meltzer, best known as an author of legal thrillers. Meltzer uses multiple narrators to tell his story, a decidedly unromantic, behind-the-masks look at the Justice League -- a crime-fighting team whose best-known members include Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. But he focuses on that trio's supporting cast, less-popular figures such as Green Arrow, Flash and the Atom. As the team struggles to identify and capture a slippery opponent, they are seen grieving, feuding and lying to each other just like ordinary mortals.

In the course of their efforts, a debate emerges between those in favor of striking first against their enemies with overwhelming force -- a shock-and-awe kind of thing -- and those more comfortable with a cautious, coalition-building approach. Green Arrow, who favors the first option, portrays the conflict as a war on terror: "They'd love nothing more than to know where our wives are ... where our children sleep. If they knew where your mother lived, they'd slice her throat, then go out for a beer." Flash, on the other hand, argues for kinder, gentler crime-fighting techniques.

A gifted synthesist like Sontag would know how to draw a profound connection between the mysteries confronted in a comic-book series and the massive, unpredictable mysteries of the real world. As for myself, I can only put down my reading and wonder: One day, 100,000 people are going about their daily tasks. The next day they are gone.

Between the covers of a comic book, such mysteries are easily solved, or even prevented. Earthquake? Sounds like a job for Superman, the most powerful man on the planet. In the comic-book universe, that's what superpowers are for.

In the world of flesh and blood, where disasters are horrifyingly real, the superheroes are relief workers. Ordinary human beings with extraordinary courage and compassion, they are showing up in South Asia to do the dirty work of digging through the rubble and coaxing life from tumultuous ruin.

And what are real-life superpowers for? In our world, there's only the United States, which so far has pledged $350 million to earthquake relief efforts. In real life, the most powerful man on the planet continued to vacation amid initial reports of death and destruction because, an official said, "He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about `We feel your pain."'

Now why does that sound to me like exactly what he should have done? Too many comic books, you think?

Bolded Copy from Washington Post

The Comics Gnome turns his head away so we don't see him cry (as Clint Eastwood did in Bridges of Madison County)

On January 3rd, funnybook legend Will Eisner passed away at the age of 87. The Onion's AV Club reprinted their 2000 interview with Will.

Onion AV Club: What is it like seeing the early-1940s Spirit stories back in print again?

Will Eisner: Well, I love the package. I think the package is marvelous. I try to avoid looking at the artwork because it makes my toes curl. [Laughs.] I want to grab a pencil and redo it. "Oh, my God, did I get away with this junk?"

When Will Eisner co-founded the first "comic art shop" in the late 1930s, he took one of the first steps in an epic career that would significantly change the face of comics in America. Eisner's studio—which employed Bob Kane, Lou Fine, and Jack Kirby, among others—was one of the first to produce original comic books in an era when "comics" meant newspaper funny strips. But the company was only a few years old when Eisner left to launch the groundbreaking weekly series The Spirit, a standalone newspaper insert that gave Eisner freedom to experiment with his visual style and begin the creation of a new form of communication. After ending the series in 1952, Eisner spent 20 years pioneering the use of comics in education, from military instruction magazines to elementary-school visual aids. In the early 1970s, he returned to fiction with A Contract With God, the first in a series of ambitious, influential graphic novels that told real-world stories in expressive, innovative ways. Today, at 83, Eisner is far from retired. This year alone, Dark Horse Comics published his new anthology Last Day In Vietnam, NBM Publishing released The Last Knight (based on Don Quixote), and DC Comics began republishing his classic works, including the first installment in a projected 25-book library of Spirit treasuries. Eisner recently spoke to The Onion A.V. Club about his new projects, his old projects, and the future of his chosen medium.
Copy from Onion AV Interview

Link to full article

Lockout Edition

Check it out. Bank of America, who recently bought out Fleet bank, has decided not to name the arena formerly known as "New Boston Garden/Shawmut Center" which currently goes by the "FleetCenter" after themselves and the "Vault" will be getting a new name soon.


And if you thought about there being a shortened season...

NHL board of governors meeting is canceled

By IRA PODELL, AP Sports Writer
January 7, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) -- After labor negotiations broke down last month, there was nothing left for the NHL and the players' association to talk about.

Now the league doesn't even have any news to share with its board of governors.

A meeting scheduled for next week between commissioner Gary Bettman and executives from all 30 teams was called off Thursday because the planned update session proved to be pointless.


NHL Lockout Log

January 9, 2005
The following is a daily log of the NHL lockout, which began September 16 (games canceled include 45 days in advance):




LAST WORK STOPPAGE: 1994 (103 days)

Heya Everybody! ^_^

Happy New Year to everyone. Leah, I hope Chris and you are doing well. Anything to report? Mario, tell Jaime I said hello. Matt, same goes for you and Jill; set the date yet? Pete & Eliza. James & Laura (and Katia due in April). Aimee, Jeff & Gracie. Lisa, Chris and Kai. Keith and his hand...wha wah wah...^_~

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Lockout Edition

NHL Lockout Log
January 4, 2005

The following is a daily log of the NHL lockout, which began September 16 (games canceled include 45 days in advance):




LAST WORK STOPPAGE: 1994 (103 days)

NEWS OF THE DAY: With the world junior championships coming to a close, the NHL lockout is showing no signs of ending anytime soon.

The NHL board of governors is to meet Jan. 14 in New York. The league rejected a union proposal and its own counteroffer was turned down during a session Dec. 14. No new talks are scheduled.

-Yahoo! News copy


I was listening to one of the ESPN morning shows showcasing a Hockey player on Dec. 15 after the last rejected offer and he said that if there was no agreement by Jan. 15, then the season's a wash. He said it was an unofficial but realistic cut-off date we all know that once it passes, it would be pretty hard to salvage the season. I for one see no salvaging the season and wish they would just call it quits for the year instead of 1.) leading the fans on with promises & hope and 2.) even suggesting an inferior quality product such as a shortened season like 1994.
Love hockey, hate the drama.
Reviewed On NetFlix!!!

Sex & The City Season 6, Part 2 (on 2 discs)

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) get together for one last hurrah in their sixth season. These final eight episodes of HBO's Emmy-winning series find the foursome balancing romance, laughter and heartbreak as Carrie keeps searching for true love, Miranda finally ties the knot with Steve, Charlotte longs for a baby and Samantha battles breast cancer.
-NetFlix Description copy

The Mary Tyler Moore Muses and their Swan Song gets 5 well-deserved stars from Rev. Sully. A great wrap-up to a magnificent show. “Choosing Wisely” and “Reconciling Happiness” closes out S&TC: S6, Part 2 thematically. Happiness is “what” we make of life but also the “why”, “how” and “whom” we choose to live it with... in addition “when” & “where”, further pirating Carrie’s journalistic approach. It’s not about moving on and closing up shop by tying up loose threads but more about accepting love and change as being intertwined. Love & happiness are parts luck, timing, chemistry, spark, attraction and work but throw “change” in the mix and features such as life & subsequently love can get complicated. Each “Muse” has her own rocky “Way” to walk but at the same time, they’re holding hands. “Choosing Wisely” is important too because after six seasons, these gals have gained great Wisdom regarding what love really is, what their lives are and how to use that power following their years of televised travails. It was a wonderful way to end this amazing, sinfully mature, deftly scribed & provocative series. The entire show was a great look at the urban jungle gym of being single, being hitched, being drunk, being well dressed, being occasionally lousy, being there for your friends as unconventional family and ultimately being human. ‘Namaste and ENJOY!
Movies Reviewed on NetFlix!


When director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) attended Southern Illinois University, he became Stevie Fielding's Advocate Big Brother. Stevie was a demanding, hyperactive child living a heartbreaking life. When James relocated to Chicago to begin a film career in 1985, he ended his formal duties to Stevie. Ten years later, James again visits Stevie (now in his mid-twenties) and finds out what happened to him in the interim. Not a pretty story.
-NetFlix description copy

Documentaries: The Original Reality Show! Rev. Sully gives 3 Stars. It was a little long running at 145 minutes but the movie itself was OK. This is going to sound a bit Mad Cap but “Stevie” will make a great double feature with the comedy “Run Ronnie Run” for similarities regarding the “Documentary Film Maker/Beloved Red Neck Subject” relationship. Contiguous viewing of both movies might test your patience but the joke is there for you regardless. “Stevie” spun its wheels in several places nevertheless it was a competent and reflective motion picture. The film project takes on a life of its own as the filmmaker returns to visit his troubled “Little Brother” 10 years later and further, finding a human drama/tragedy waiting to be reported. It ruminates on personal responsibility versus relying upon a “failing” System and it illuminates apathetic horror with a legacy of abuse. There is no sympathy for Stevie or the dysfunction surrounding him, no pandering for cries of reform that another Lost Soul “fell through the Cracks”. Instead is a decent piece of filmmaking reminiscent of “Hearts of Darkness”, the documentary about production on the Francis Ford Coppola movie “Apocalypse Now”, where the subject took on a life of its own there too. “Stevie” was a little tough to watch but will be even tougher to forget. It also makes the viewer value good dental hygiene. ‘Namaste.
Happy New Year all!!! Got on the 'Net somehow...


I miss you all.
The Comics Gnome's Road Traveled

Aka "Winding Julie's Wristwatch"

"An era can said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted”
-Arthur Miller
(quoted in DC’s Identity Crisis, Chapter 7, February 2005)

One afternoon in the waning daze of the year in the Common Era Two-Thousand and Four, I found myself out to lunch, musing about Time and Spelling It Out. “Out To Lunch” can be used as a way to describe someone who’s got a few screws loose or acting the Mad Cap. But this was a real lunch. Not the Imagined Mythical Patrick “Fuzzy” Spencer Memorial Roast & Luncheon Buffet with Keynote Speech & Rush cover band. This was lunch with an old friend; the Comics Gnome and at a trendy theme restaurant to boot. It was kinda like the Hard Rock Café or the TV themed one, Reruns. However, this refectory was Superhero themed called “Planet Café” or “Planet Krypton” complete with Relics & Memorabilia to gawk at and Tee Shirts and Key Fobs to purchase. I think the Blue Plate Special in this odd place was “Eip Sannataz Tae” of all things. Although in a weird world where Super Strings pull our marionettes by the Angel or Demon’s Hands with gravitons and dimensional vibrations heard about half-understood from PBS’ Nova, it’s still not hard to over hear a conversation at another table even if you are dutifully paying heed to one of your own puppeteering. I was talking to the Gnome about “Julie’s Wristwatch” but I stopped after I received the “Look of Bobo” from him. “Bobo”: that’s the look a child gets after hour number 9 of television and the Mountain Dew no longer works. As I noticed this mouth-breathing, slack-jawed, vacant-eyed stare, I caught sight of yonder table across the aisle from us... and there THEY were having a similar conversation! What are the chances! Was my chair built of Actual Pieces of the Holy Cosmic Treadmill??? Was I about to break out of a panel and end up in some “5-D” paper folded origami time machine suit that is kept in the “gutters” while conversing with my Scribe? I had to eavesdrop on that other conversation with THEM. I couldn’t help it. You’d do the same thing if you knew who they were. OK...OK. Actually, I did make that part up about The Gnome and myself having lunch at the Cafeteria of the ÜberVolk. I never entered a Superhero themed restaurant, sitting across from three DC heroes kibitzing over sammiches the Shop Talk of Olympus Mount. Even so I was happy to be a fly-on-the-wall in the Flash #134. Now this is a random and odd thing just to pull out on anyone but it all fits. The Flash #134, written by Grant Morrison with Mark Millar published in February of 1998 featured a candid lunch scene involving old friends and the subject was “Eras and Heroic Ages”. Morrison is a legendary DC scribe and a complete & utter fan of the DCU, it was great to hear this come from his hands and mind. Who were THEY? The Dramatic Personae: The current Flash Wally West (also the Silver Age Kid Flash), The Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick and Nightwing Dick Grayson. Nightwing is the adult (also Golden but here strictly the Silver Age) Robin of Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. The conversation turned to the nature of Eras and how they are defined, (and this is abridged paraphrasing at best, please):

Dick Grayson: “How often do you think things change?”

Jay Garrick: “The music industry every 11 years, politics every 15 years...Wally, what do you think about Heroic Ages?”

Wally West: “Every 20 years according to ‘Jones & Jacobs’.
The Golden Age ended in 1955,
the Silver Age ended in 1975,
the Dark Age ended in 1995
and this new age is too early to name...”

-The Flash, Issue #134, pgs. 9, 10. G. Morrison, M. Millar, et al., DC, February 1998.

As cited in the Arthur Miller quote above used in DC’s mega popular and significant “Identity Crisis” event of 2004, eras end when their illusions are spent. The illusion that the “Super Friends” Heyday of the Silver Age was not as innocent as we thought it was. This post-Dark Age look at what we thought was a more innocent day actually had more humanity than originally scripted through the point-of-view from this new, unnamed Current Era.

At the end of the “Dark Age”, DCU (the DC Universe) had a “Reboot Event” and its entire sense of continuity was once again streamlined and retooled for DC’s 60th Anniversary, this time offering six issues of one Over-Title, crossovers in every issue and restart of each major title with an “Issue #0”. It was named “Zero Hour: Crisis in Time” and it was meant to shake up the DCU and make everything new and a jump-on spot all over again.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time TPB

This previous DCU “Reboot”, 1994’s “Zero Hour”, has the verisimilitude of ending the “Dark Age” of Comics for the DC Continuity. At that time, MARVEL was up to its cowls in X-Titles, Spidey-Clones and in-house mutiny. In contrast never forget that Dark Horse was the lighthouse in those Stormy Seas, producing quality entertainment with originals and adaptations. Scott McCloud, modern Comics answer to Stephen Hawking in regards to looks and theories, calls that era the “Diamond Age” due to the multi-facets of all things “Comix” today are a result of that explosion/implosion (See: "Maus" ). Not all comics are Men In Tights is what “Diamond Age” implies. But for the inescapable and permeating Superhero Genre, the “Dark Age on the Morrison Scale” is what it truly was. The Consolidation of the Mighty & Culling of the Useless in 1985’s “Crisis”, the Watchmen, DK1, Ronin, Swamp Thing, Sandman, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Hellblazer and later on VERTIGO not to mention the flood of acme Batman stories surrounding the release of the Burton movie: DC did a great job being mainstream and making it all “happen”. 1994’s “Zero Hour” was a multi-use tool in addition to hitting “CTL+Alt+DEL” on the Continuity. One-part marketing gimmick, one part fix-it to the myriad problems 1985’s “Crisis” brought about, “Zero Hour” was a sign of the times and its readers; that we took something like Continuity too seriously, especially since the first “Crisis”. Well, things had to make sense and stories have to be written in which to make the sense happen. I admit to using the DC Universe as a playground of imagination. I do have a GL ring. Kevin Smith was legended to have leapt roof top to roof top (albeit only a few feet difference in drop) while blindfolded in order to get in touch with his senses in order to scribe Marvel Knights “Daredevil: Guardian Devil”. Well-designed, or even over-engineered but pretty playgrounds usually don’t matter although they are good-looking and relatively new. What matters most for a playground is that it be clean and free of clutter & debris. That there be no broken glass on the ground and no razor blades stuck to the slides with chewing gum. Say what you will but there is nothing more heartrending than a decrepit playground that kids cannot enjoy without hazard but I digress...

Using the “Morrison Scale”, the Silver Age DCU was a more innocent place reflecting culture and funnybooks at the time (and the O’Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow to juxtapose for some “street cred” against the “Great Heras!”, “Holy Hannahs!”, and “Great Scotts!”). “Zero Hour” was designed to inspire sales and fix bugs brought up by “Crisis”. The years of taking the stories too seriously and “Times Arrow vs. Un-Aging Super Heroes” created the need for Marv Wolfman’s 1985 “Crisis”. His own 1998 introduction to the TPB is enlightening and entertaining. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was a celebration of DC’s 50th Anniversary and its centerpiece. Series artist & superstar George Perez’ cover is legendary and full of almost every character. “Zero Hour” celebrated the New Direction for the 60th Anniversary. Change is the Nature of the Cosmos and Change is what you get from the Grocer. Funny, innit? ^_~ But what wasn’t funny was the sheer obligation that “Zero Hour” encompassed. 26 issues #0 followed retooling established characters. Batman once again was an Urban Myth with no photographic evidence even existing. Captain Marvel was given another reset and 12-year old Billy Batson and Marvel Family (Golden Age SHAZAM! was originally a Fawcett Comics character and later was bought by DC) was again available for “cleaner cut” audiences (as “ZH” editor KC Carlton espouses in the Afterword to the ZH TPB...ugggh). Also what wasn’t funny was the fact “Zero Hour” wasn’t very good story wise. It was all about sales and reboot, new characters & directions with little to no substance, far from 1985’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and 2004’s “Identity Crisis”. Akin to a tube of BBQ Chipolte Pringles and as satisfying nutritionally, “Zero Hour” was a bit empty & hollow. Although comparable to many school texts that are required reading, “ZH” ultimately is needed to grok the current DCU in fullness but only with the precedents it sets.

”Plus la meme change, plus la meme chose...”
-French cliché

Leçon L’Histoire:
It started simple enough, you know. Julius Schwartz’ nascent DCU with retooled existing characters in the late 1950’s. Why not team the old squad up with the new; namesakes and united causes. But how to justify it? Easy! The Editors and Writers brew a story up. And back then it was adventure, excitement! Something “phantasmagorical”. It’s fiction and fantasy. Treat it as such. They were funnybooks and it was cute that there were two worlds to cross over. Julie Schwartz’ job was to sell funnybooks. Seeing the JLA team up with the JSA was sure to be a hit. So what do you have to do? Make a back story and spin a yarn.

The integral word in these Event titles is “Crisis”. “Crisis” is a buzzword used in the old Silver Age JLA given to us by the likes of Julie Schwartz and Gardener Fox, that meant the different worlds or Universes were crossing over. “Crisis” became to be known as a Major Comics Cataclysm when used in the DCU. While before 1985, any JLA title saying “Crisis on...” you could be sure some Universe swapping would be going on.

It all started in the Flash, #123 in “A Flash of Two Worlds”, Sept. 1961

Silver Age Flash #123

The Flash Barry Allen was able to use his super speed to vibrate his molecules through solid objects. He also got the idea of his Superhero motif and name through his favorite funnybook character, Jay Garrick the Golden Age Flash (Flash Comics #1, 1940)

Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick comic, what Barry Allen might have read as a kid

Member of WWII’s the Justice Society of America.

All-Star Comics #3

However, decades before modern Super String theory suggested higher dimensions and alternate realities could be just a vibration away, the scientist Barry Allen figured out that if he could change the vibration of his atoms as the Flash then he could visit parallel universes. This opened the door to future Flash/Flash team-ups and the Silver Age JLA finally teaming up with the Golden Age JSA.

Silver Age JLA #21
First JLA/JSA Crossover “Crisis on Earth-One”

Why “Julie’s Wristwatch”? Editor Julie Schwartz who invigorated declining sales by updating the heroes and making them contemporary and appealing all over again revamped the original “Universe” in 1959/1960. Julie kept the Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman who still existed from their earlier days but who also were not aged. The JSA’s Flash and Green Lantern were adapted into heroes of the Space Age; a moral and upstanding yet blindingly intelligent Police Forensic scientist and a handsome, fearless test pilot chock full of the “Right Stuff” respectively. Aquaman (More Fun Comics #73, Nov. 1941), Green Arrow (More Fun Comics #73, Nov. 1941) and Martian Manhunter (Detective Comics #225, 1955) were not aged either and made new again for life in comics after the Comics Code.

The word itself is now coined as “Retcon”:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Retroactive continuity – commonly contracted to the portmanteau word retcon – refers to the act of changing previously established details of a fictional setting, often without providing an explanation for the changes within the context of that setting.

10 years before DC’s “Zero Hour: Crisis in Time”, for their major 50th anniversary they offered the first major “retcon” of a funny book.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths”:

1985’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” TBP Cover

Supplemental Crisis Links:
Everything you Wanted to Know About “Crisis on Infinite Earths” But Were Afraid To ask (and surprisingly, a deft description in great, accessible layman’s terms via Wikipedia)
The Annotated “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Page. Comprehensive and has a great breakdown of George Perez’ famous cover!

What was the result of Marv Wolfman’s Neutron Star dense but subsequently entertaining ’85 “Crisis oIE”? From what once were many universes was consolidated into a single Continuity. The “JSA of Earth-Two” ceased to be a 1940’s dimensional counterpart and comic book of the “JLA Earth-One” world but instead the JSA became the predecessors to the JLA and everything was editorially justified. The Crime Syndicate of Amerika, the “CSA of Earth-Three” (the Reverse-Universe with the Evil Justice League) were destroyed in the opening pages of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” making Silver Age JLA #’s 29 and 30 “Crisis on Earth-Three” moot in a “retcon” sense. Things such as Supergirl, Hawkman and Wonder Woman’s places would take great leaps of faith, time and readings to understand, all the same it took “Zero Hour” to fix and set an Absolute Standard 10 years later.

Silver Age Justice League of America #’s 29 & 30
“Crisis on Earth-Three”
1964 First appearance of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika.

Buddy ‘Animal Man’ Baker: “Where are we going?”

Grant Morrison: “Nowhere. Just walking. I don’t suppose you ever notice how easy it is to travel just by cutting from one panel to the next. Maybe that’s why superhero’s never grow old — they save up all their time by cutting from one place to another”

-Animal Man, Issue #26, “Deus Ex Machina”, pg. 9; DC, August 1990. Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, Mark Farmer.

Grant Morrison resurrected the “Crime Syndicate of Amerika” by doing what he does best: pulling Marionettes on those Super Strings, writing profound & clever stories and playing deranged demiurge inspired by Syphilitic Muses. The CSA first have a brief appearance in his 26-issue run on Animal Man finishing in 1990 (great summary here at this link of Morrison’s “Fourth Wall/Deconstruction” work on Animal Man) . Grant Morrison could quite possibly be funnybook’s version of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s “Babel Fish” but that is a story all together for another day. In a weird scene emulating Dante’s Divine Comedy, Buddy “Animal Man” Baker is lead through Limbo, there are found all the characters that are no longer used in DC funnybooks until by some miraculous means, someone remembers them and uses them in a story. This can be found in the Animal Man “Deus Ex Machina” TPB and is seriously good mature superhero stories in the peak of the deconstructionist “Dark Age”. Morrison’s eloquence in the funnies of working high concept into understandable terms has drawn me to his work as a bear to an open camp garbage. Dig this. The Silver Age Earth-3 CSA’s Power Ring, Johnny Quick and Ultraman of the CSA escape from Limbo (Green Lantern, Flash and Superman’s evil doppelgangers) as do other odd alternates such as Earth-?’s Magic Lantern, Speed Freak and Sunshine Superman of the Love Syndicate of Dreamworld. Tula the Aquagirl and Sargon the Sorcerer both killed during “Crisis on Infinite Earths” appear (Animal Man #23, May 1990, DC) in this “Second Crisis” Animal Man must prevent.

Animal Man #24 cover

In Animal Man, Issue #24, June 1990, Morrison-created character Dr. John Highwater has seen beyond the veil of Reality (along with “Crisis oIE”s primo henchman of Evil, Psycho Pirate) and finds him involved in resolving this breakdown of planes of an Apocalyptical proportion. After breaking the “Fourth Wall” and seeing beyond, Highwater holds aloft to the escaped inhabitants of Limbo some actual Comic Books and states:

“This is the shape of Space/Time! LOOK!”

Wherein the CSA’s Power Ring, who knows himself, Ultraman and the rest of the CSA perished in the “Crisis” spits, “It’s not true. It’s not true”.

The CSA, LSD and Crisis Victims, as do all the “Limbo Players” have a funny and well-deserved spot playing Greek Chorus in Animal Man’s tragedy, “Deus Ex Machina” in the chapters expanding on a Superhero’s Existential Quagmire. Morrison actually has a few things to say about the aging habits of superheroes and expanding on the superhero’s place in fiction with direct dialog in the company of the main character. Being advertised as a recommended item of entertainment by the Cool and Hip available from purveyors of the Odd, Weird & Wickid Pissah VERTIGO/DC Comics Imprint, “Deus Ex Machina” is funnybook’s answer to Albert Camus’ “L’Etranger” (The Stranger). That the absurdity that comes with life in a cowl & codename is like the absurdity of man looking into the Absolute as Grant’s Buddy Baker becomes a bit like Camus’ Monsieur Mersault. In the Year of the Common Era, Two-Thousand (formerly known as “Anno Domini” in an actual “retcon” of Political Correctness), Morrison, who also restarted the post-“Zero Hour” JLA direction in 1997 at issue #1 (through #41, May 2000) and current “JLA: Classified” #’s 1-3, wrote the Graphic Novel “JLA: Earth 2” (with breath-taking art from his “New X-Men” sometime battery partner, Frank Quietly). “JLA: Earth 2” “retcons” the CSA with a current “history”. Where they come from now (no longer does an ‘Earth-Three’ exist in DCU) has taken further “Editorial Justification” that is still being ironed out in the JLA monthly title. No primer knowledge is needed for “JLA: Earth 2” though besides a hunger for illustrated entertainment and to see the modern-day “Super Friends” square off against their Reverse-Universe Analogs!!! It’s a great old stand-by in fiction. Remember such ‘Reverse-Universe in Fiction’s’ Greatest Hits such as...Reverse-Universe Spock with the Goatee.

Kinder & gentler Reverse-Universe "Evil Cartman" with the Goatee.

Reverse-Universe doppelganger Vampire Willow and Vampire Xander from the “Buffy-less Sunnydale Alternate Reality” (not to be confused with the “Buffy Shrimp-less Alternate Reality” ^_~).

In “Deus Ex Machina”, Morrison takes the “suggestion of fans” who want to see more action, in turn Grant creates an ideological opposite to Animal Man called “Slaughterhouse” who lives on burgers, wears tanned hides, and hunts for fun. Well “Slaughterhouse” lasted for about 8 panels in 1 chapter but you get the picture (I hope ^_~). What happens when the JLA fight Evil Opposites of themselves? Will they cancel each other out? Check out “JLA: Earth 2” for a great read and see what happens. Check out “Deus Ex Machina” at your own risk of Mental Health. Next thing you know you’ll be asking the good Reverend to make sense of “Seaguy” and “The Filth”.

JLA: Earth 2 GN

At this time an 8-part “JLA vs. CSA” story is ongoing in the JLA monthly title, bringing that Counter-JLA back into the story with the Morrison look and “history”. They were too interesting for even the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to eliminate.

Ch. 3, JLA Vs. CSA, JLA issue #109, Feb 2005

“The Sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older...”
-Pink Floyd

“Zero Hour”, although schlockey, hokey and trite, has its place and its “raison d’etre” and that is the easy to define and Established Illustrated Time Line at the end of the TPB. 1994, at the print time of the “ZH” TPB, 1985’s “Crisis” was a DCU timeline event that took place “4 years ago”. That “10 years ago”, the New Heroic Age began with the appearance of Superman and the formation of the JLA (with Black Canary II substituted for the “yet to enter the new DCU timeline at that point” Wonder Woman; see Waid & Kitson’s 1999 “JLA: Year One” –eo’s). “ZH” did its job and nuked & rebuilt the DCU timeline. For comparison, printed in 2004 was the Green Lantern TPB “Passing the Torch” which also includes a “Green Lantern” timeline counting the important Events that mark the new DCU’s “Annular Rings” giving us an almost archeological feel to examining “Julie’s Wristwatch”. In the ten years between “Crises” (1994 to 2004), the characters have “quasi-aged”* about 2-3 years, to say close to “about 4 years” would be a bit too much although there could be argument there as well. In the GL TPB “Passing The Torch”, the “Crisis” was “6 Years Ago”, the “Zero Hour” event was “3 Years Ago” and the JLA were formed “12 Years Ago”. This is the pliable art of chronomancy** that I refer to as “Winding Julie’s Wristwatch”.

Usage Notes:
1. *I almost dread pulling that word “quasi-aged” out but they don’t age, they are funnybook characters whose ages are always creatively readjusted. You can say Superman’s about 37 but he’s not 38, that WAY too old. Nevertheless “the Old Boy Scout” is older than 35; based on the “Zero Hour” Timeline saying that Kal-El’s Lifepod crashed in Smallville “33 years Ago” and in the GL Passing the Torch TPB, a GL incident “37 Years Ago” in Earth’s atmosphere created the blizzard the Kents were snowed in giving them credence to pass baby Kal-El off as their own child. That’s “about 4 years”, right?
2. **Chronomancy: it’s a word years back I made up in a mental argument between an imaginary Bible-thumping Creationist and me, defending the poetics of Genesis versus literal interpretation thinking the Earth is less than 6,000 years old. “Who are we to presume God’s sense of ‘chronomancy’” is a liner note from an old Composition Book.

The completion of 2004’s “Identity Crisis” signifies a sea change in the DCU, another defining line in the strata of this “rock”. It’ll be alongside “Green Lantern: Rebirth” as a new turning point in the “Story”, the “Big Story” of the never-ending battle between good & evil. The “Dark Age” is a memory now with a slight moral “retcon” of the Silver Age. On the Morrison Scale, it took a good ten years for this newer & better-run DCU to get its legs and running properly to come to the point achieved in “I.D. Crisis”. The past decade was a Renaissance Era in Comics with an emphasis on story & art over volume, collectibles and over producing & over selling bad product. Oh, it’s still there trying to get every dollar it can but the product is better these days. The Men In Tights survived the humiliation of the Great Implosion and regained credibility. The Super Hero Genre, admittedly juvenile and although a bit chagrined, scoffed & mocked by those with “Diamond” hard Comix POV’s, now proves to be an endless source of entertainment even evident with Hollywood racing to churn out the “next” big comics adaptation. “Identity Crisis” was a great story and exemplary storytelling. McGuffins, murder, suspects, secret identities, evil cabals, love, responsibility and grief. Great fiction and entertainment for a group that wears more tights than your average Shakespeare Troupe. Moody panels, captivating multitude of narrative caption that shift “color of voice” for speaker that begs for questions about the iconography of certain colors patterns (all props to “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art”, Ch. 8, pg. 188, Scott McCloud, Paradox Press, 1993, for this thought). “Identity Crisis” will not mystically, accidentally or editorially de-age or re-age the DCU characters but it will indeed weather them all a bit.

2004's Identity Crisis #7 (of 7) cover

“Identity Crisis” “retconned” a very innocent age. It’s as if you found out your parents were human after all. In its own way it shook up the past continuity as did the previous 2 “Crises”, it put the present into a new light and it makes tomorrow all that more interesting with possibility and fills me with anticipation on how it’ll eventually pan out. All together in an amateur guess at a mass-marketing campaign, there were 7 issues of “I.D. Crisis”, 5 semi-obligatory tie-ins during 7 months over 4 different titles (2 Flash, 1 Firestorm, 1 Manhunter and 1 JSA) and the relaunch of “Manhunter”’s title, a new take on an older cape... versus a year of the first “Crisis” with cross-overs on every title in at least one issue and “Zero Hour’s” half-year with obligatory cross-overs, new titles & characters and the issues #0. “I.D. Crisis” never felt like sales driven fealty. It was about story and presence. There were “McGuffins” all about leaving the reader wondering how, where, when and IF they’ll resolve. But it was a very human tale in the tights and leaves me with a Sully Brand Koan; show me the gain in loss. We are shown in this instance of adolescent, illustrated, Super Hero fiction. I’ve always been a big fan of the sense of Chronomancy in the DCU. Its esoteric fabric, the gnosis it takes to wind “Julie’s Wristwatch” and the stories that make it happen. The next “Crisis” should be scheduled for some pre-ordained Wednesday in the year of the Common Era Two-Thousand and Fourteen when we get to again play “Pin the Name on the Era Definition”. Let’s see how they get themselves out of the next “Chrono-nightmare” in which “the Powers That Be” write themselves into a corner. I’d love to know if they’ve thought that far ahead already.


Rev. Sully

Monday, January 03, 2005

Hey Everyone,

Felice Anno Nuovo!! & Ciao from Naples, Italy. I am over here on operational support to my Navy Reserve command for a little while.

Best Wishes to Everyone for 2005