Friday, November 30, 2007

The Super-Sons in "World Without Men!"

Arriving in comic stores next week from DC is the trade paperback collection Superman/Batman: The Saga of the Super-Sons, which reprints a load of Bob Haney-written stories from the 1970s where Superman and Batman's sons team-up in adventures that were supposed to be "in continuity." I can guarantee that this collection will meet your FDA-endorsed dietary requirement for craziness.

As a preview, I thought I'd share with you today the amazing Super-Sons story from World's Finest 233, "World Without Men!" (Not to be confused with "It's a Woman's World!".)

As was popular in the 70s, especially in DC Comics stories, Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. have hit the road to find America, and this adventure seems to have taken them into Gator McClusky's neighborhood.

When given a choice between the civilized, relatively safe, but unnamed "State Capital" and the potentially dangerous ghost town of Belton, the junior heroes obviously decide to reject the warnings of the local color and head toward danger.

The Super-Sons make their way to Belton, where they find a rundown old blacksmith shop that appears to have some activity inside. Expecting to see "some muscle-bound ghostly geezer pounding away" (and who wouldn't want to walk in on that scene?), they are instead pleasantly surprised by the local smithy.

Note to readers: Shouting out "Yeeow! A chick?! A gorgeous girl!?" when you first enter a place of business is not recommended.

The boys soon find that the local blacksmith is not the only gender oddity--the whole town is entirely populated by women, or, to use Bruce Jr.'s words, "beautiful chicks!"

Bruce automatically assumes they've hit the 70s free hippie love jackpot in Belton, but that proves not to be the case, as the local policewoman--or, as Bruce calls her, "police chick"--quickly gives them a parking ticket with a fine of $500. Bruce then appeals their case directly to the mayor, Sister Sara, who just happens to be walking by.

I think refering to a mayor as "doll" and "baby" is a jailable offense in every American city.

Anyway, Mayor Sister Sara provides some exposition here, explaining that the women of Belton are led by Big Sister Sybil, who is trying to inspire revolutionary change in gender equality through isolationist means.

Soon, the limits of such an ideology are put to the test, as a female carpenter, working on a nearby roof, suddenly falls and manages to cling to a fragile gutter. Clark and Bruce attempt to come to her rescue, but they are stopped when the police officer draws her gun in order to enforce the local "no male touching" law. Unfortunately, the carpenter falls to her death before the female rescue team can arrive.

Bruce becomes incensed and threatens to "slap some sense" into all the women, which results in the boys getting scooped up and dropped into the local jail's night deposit box.

The heroes find several other men in jail as well, all imprisoned for trumped up charges and phony traffic tickets. As night falls, Clark Jr. uses his superstrength to break out, and the boys don their costumes to investigate the funeral of Sister Jane, the dead carpenter.

In this panel, we see the true educational value that comics provided young readers in the 70s: the caption box explains that the word "pirogue" means "swamp boat" ... and why God why is Superman Jr. lifting Batman Jr. by the taint?!

The trail through the swamp leads to the ceremonial altar of Big Sister Sybil, which looks like what we'd get if the Illuminati had done the production design for Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Big Sister takes the occasion to reprimand Sisters Sara and Diana, who have been having second thoughts about the Big Sister's plans. Big Sister also orders the execution of all the jailed men, so the Super-Sons choose this moment to act and confront the monocular obelisk. This does not go well, and Superman Jr. must enact a quick escape.

The duo hide out in a try while the women begin to form a search party. For no logical reason, the Super-Sons choose this moment to switch costumes in order to confuse the dogs. Bruce, in Superman Jr.'s costume, spies Sisters Sara and Diana being absorbed into the obelisk, and he decides to follow suit. He ends up getting trapped in quicksand while the two women are transformed into hideous alligator creatures--one of those amazing twists that really should come as no surprise in a Bob Haney story.

Clark, in Batman Jr's costume, comes back to rescue Bruce, and as they switch back into their normal costumes, they are confronted by Big Sister Sybil in her real form, which turns out to be the hideous cycloptic creature from the cover.

Both Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. attempt to sway Sybil with reasoned arguments about gender equality, and then Supes decides it's just easier to pick up the nearest large phallic object and beat the shit out of her with it.

That just seems to make the point so much better.

So, the dangerous, divisive creature is defeated. The Super-Sons return to Belton in order to discuss how Sybil, despite her evil intentions, taught them an important lesson about the value of feminism and the ultimate destructiveness of the patriarchal order or any system in which one group forces its will on another ...

Oh wait, that's not what happens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kanye-Knievel Peace Accord Achieved

Kanye West and Evel Knievel have settled the lawsuit Knievel brought over alleged trademark infringement in Kanye's video for "Touch the Sky."

I just love this picture, courtesy of USA Today.

Man, this needs to be a buddy cop movie.

Note added 11-30-2007: Sad news today that Evel Knievel passed away at the age of 69. As a kid, growing up in the 70s, I was a fan of Evel Knievel, and my brother and I had a bunch of his toys. He certainly did his part to make the world a more awesome place.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Annals of Authenticity, Vol. 2: Gang of Four

I probably have a longer essay in me for some future time about my admiration for Gang of Four, but suffice it to say that I can't think of another band that better navigated the Scylla and Charibdis of popular success and political credibility. Even their recent reunion album, Return the Gift, which consisted of the band doing new versions of their greatest hits, should have been a cynical money grab from any other band turned out to be well worth owning even if one had the originals (the bonus remix CD that came with the deluxe edition of that album, however, is another story. The only gem there was Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs joining the band for "I Love a Man in Uniform." The rest ranged from forgettable to outright disappointing.).

Though the band did implode in the mid-80s, they managed to put out three fantastic albums, including the essential Entertainment! (1979). And while it's safe to describe the band as infusing punk with dance beats, I often find it difficult to compare them to any of their contemporaries. They were experimental in ways similar to the Velvet Underground, and their extreme leftist politics made their lyrics intellectually thrilling for me in ways that no other band has ever achieved.

It may come as no surprise, then, that the reunited Gang of Four is planning to forego traditional distribution methods for their new work. Bassist Dave Allen has a blog, where he muses on the current state of the industry and the progress on the band's latest music. This recent list is particularly instructive, and seems to form a manifesto for the band's future:

01. We need to make a cheap quick recording of no more than 6 songs. The days of spending forever in a studio are over.
02. It can’t be called an album, that format is over - case in point - after downloading the Radiohead In Rainbows album I found various remixes of songs from that album and so I deleted the originals as the new mixes were preferable to me. I then built my own running order. Goodbye to having an album formatted in advance.
03. As we write and record in rehearsal we should post the demos, as rough as they are, to our website and also to Amiestreet so that fans can download them. Comments would be offered and that way we could gauge response. Also word of mouth will get the message far and wide that these demos are available and that we are working on the new recordings - no PR required.
04. Understanding the data which will then help us understand our fans’ behaviour.
05. It’s imperative that we give away MP3s.
06. Enroll our most rabid fans to help us market and promote the band.
07. We must partner only with an indie label for any physical good that we release.
08. We must take meetings with people like Kevin Arnold at IODA and Shane Tobin at iMeem whose companies offer very distinct ways to reach music fans.

You can read more of the entry here (and consider the blog entry you are currently reading to be an attempt to contribute to 06). In general, Allen is joining in the chorus that's touting the death of the album, and I especially like his comments about Radiohead's In Rainbows and the audience's power to create their own "album" out of remixes.

I'm also particularly excited about 03--the idea of posting MP3s of their current demos. You can get access to all three (so far) here. Even as demos, the three songs sound great, and they've really got me excited for new product from this group.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

No novel has ever made me as grateful for the way in which I spent the 38 years of my life as much as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. Diaz's eponymous character, an overweight young man whose real name is Oscar de Leon, grows up with his Dominican family in Paterson, New Jersey, and immerses himself in comics, sci-fi, and pop culture in general as a means of escaping from a real world that doesn't treat him very well. The novel is filled with comic and sci-fi references, most of which go unexplained (along with a lot of untranslated Spanish and Dominican slang). However, that's not to say that the novel is not heavily annotated: Diaz also makes frequent references to the 20th century history of the Dominican Republic, especially the long reign of the dictator Trujillo, and the author thankfully provides copious notes to explain that history.

In fact, the novel's title is a bit misleading. While much of it does indeed follow Oscar's brief and wondrous life, more than half covers his mother's and grandparents' experiences in Trujillo's Dominican Republic from 1944-1962, in order to detail the family curse, or fuku, that continues to haunt Oscar's generation. Even then, however, the narrator, who we later find out is Oscar's college roommate, Yunior, keeps the comic references flowing. Oscar's mother, for example is described in her adolescence as having "the Breasts of Luba," with the assumption that the reader understands this reference to the main character of Gilbert Hernandez's "Palomar" stories from Love and Rockets. In fact, Love and Rockets serves as a significant cultural touchstone for the entire novel.

Other comic references also appear frequently. For example, the narrator often refers to himself as "The Watcher," though he is far from the dispassionate observer that this reference implies. Trujillo's political power is compared to Darkseid's "Omega Effect," raising images of eye-beams that curve around obstacles to reach their targets. Oscar's roommate, Yunior, tries to give Oscar some dating advice--"don't bring up the Beyonder any more than necessary"--but Yunior then laments, "Trying to talk sense to Oscar about girls was like trying to throw rocks at Unus the Untouchable."

The references, however, are not merely arbitrary winks at a knowing audience. The narrator attempts to explain Oscar's immersion in this particular aspect of pop culture:

Maybe it was just the zeitgeist (were not the early seventies the dawn of the Nerd Age?) or the fact that for most of his childhood he had absolutely no friends? Or was it something deeper, something ancestral? ... You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart bookish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto.

Oscar's outsider status, compounded by his weight, is both satiated and perpetuated by his interests in comics and sci-fi, and to some degree, most "fanboys" can probably associate with Oscar here, whether the racial element is relevant or not.

I'm also quite partial to this description of the 1970s as "the dawn of the Nerd Age." Oscar appears to have been born around the same time as I was, so he was 8 or 9 when Star Wars came out, he got to watch original early Scooby-Doo episodes in their first run, he watches afternoon Ultraman imports from Japan on WPIX, and he matures into Love and Rockets and Watchmen in the mid- to late 1980s.

Incidentally, Watchmen serves as another important cultural touchstone. In order to demonstrate Oscar's despondency over a girl that rejected him, the narrator asks a series of rhetorical questions: "Did he stop reading his Andre Norton books and even lose interest in the final issues of Watchmen, which were unfolding in the illest way? Yes." The trade paperback of Watchmen also makes significant appearances later in the novel.

As someone who spent the first 8 years of his life living in Elizabeth, New Jersey, I also appreciate the frequent shout-outs my birth city gets in the novel. As Oscar and a female friend drive down the New Jersey Turnpike:

They reached the Elizabeth exit, which is what New Jersey is really known for, industrial wastes on both sides of the turnpike. He had started holding his breath against those horrible fumes when Ana let loose a scream that threw him into his passenger door. Elizabeth! she shrieked. Close your fucking legs!

Later, Oscar's sister, Lola, holds a wig over a hot stove, and the burning artifical hair is described as smelling "like Elizabeth." Anyone who ever experienced that smell, especially during the pollution heyday of the 70s and 80s, will appreciate Diaz's descriptions here.

At one point in the novel, a character is getting a severe beating from two Dominican cops nicknamed "Solomon Grundy" and "Gorilla Grod" (which the fanboy in me requires that I mention that this name is spelled incorrectly, missing a second "d"), and the narrator describes the violent seen as, "It was like one of those nightmare eight-a.m. MLA panels: endless." So, in order to unpack this scene, one needs not only to recognize the names of two DC Comics villains, but also to understand just how excruciating 8:00 a.m. panels at the Modern Language Association convention are (especially if you are delivering a paper at them, as no one in their right minds shows up for a panel at that time unless they have a pressing need).

Who, then, is the ideal audience for this novel? Dominican men in their late 30s who grew up in New Jersey in the 1970s and 80s, read a lot of comics and sci-fi, watched a lot of sci-fi movies, majored in English, attained some fluency in Spanish, and pursued employment as a college English professor. Though I'm not Dominican, nor do I know much Spanish, I feel that I hit that target audience pretty well--not quite a bullseye, but certainly within the outer bull. Diaz spends a lot of time, especially early in the novel, explaining the history of the Dominican Republic under Trujillo, so that a reader unfamiliar with that history will not be lost. Otherwise, the novel rewards readers for being as much like Oscar as possible, which results in an interesting degree of empathy for the main character.

And the appeal of the novel goes far beyond it's heavy referentiality. Oscar's story, and those of his mother, grandparents, and sister, is fascinating and compelling, as is the unique narrative voice that Diaz creates for this novel. Amazon, which unapologetically yet unforgiveably jumped the gun by putting out their top 10 lists in early November, ranked this novel in the second position, which also shows that this novel probably has an appeal that exceeds the narrow audience that might get all of its references.

What Is This Blog's Reading Level?

cash advance

This is definitely going to change soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great Moments in Thanksgiving

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we're throwing a bit of a shindig here at Casa de K. We've got a big 20 lb. bird, Yukon Gold potatoes for mashing, other fixin's, and a chocolate cake for dessert. Most of tonight and tomorrow will be spent cooking and cleaning.

In recent years, we've been curious about trying the "Turducken," that magical creature made up of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. We haven't tried it yet, mainly because I'm kind of set on getting a free-range turducken, and I have not yet been successful getting the duck to eat the chicken. I don't know how I'm going to get the turkey to eat the duck and chicken.

I think the food industry has really dropped the ball on the whole "animal inside another animal" concept. I'm personally trying to market an "Allchickler," which is a rattlesnake stuffed inside a chicken that's been eaten by an alligator. I got the idea from something I passed on the side of the road the other day.

Also, one of these years I plan on stuffing an eagle inside a lion in order to make "griffin."

Here is one of my favorite moments in Thanksgiving history: the "Turkey Drop" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. This whole sequence builds up to a beautiful punchline.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Black Dossier; or, Why I Haven't Been Posting So Much Lately

Note to Alan Moore: Please stop getting your prose all over my comic book! I get enough of the stuff during my day job.

Seriously, though, I spent much of the weekend reading through the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, The Black Dossier, and I have to say, it sent me back to the bookshelves and the videos on many occasions.

As far as a review goes, I pretty much agree with everything Kevin Church says here. As Kevin also addresses, I feel the same frustrations reading this as I did reading Moore's Promethea, in that the plot is subsumed by the information overload. And the long prose passages in imitation of other authors and genres, while occasionally impressive as acts of ventriloquism, become difficult to slog through. For example, I barely got through Jack Kerouac's On the Road the first time I read it. Moore's imitation of Kerouac, called "The Crazy Wide Forever," takes everything I can't stand about Kerouac's style and exaggerates it.

On the positive side, I love the spy stuff, especially the depiction of James Bond here and his team-up with Emma Peel and Bulldog Drummond. Kevin O'Neill draws Bond to suit the description Ian Fleming once gave of the secret agent as a cruel-looking Hoagy Carmichael, with a scar down the right side of his face.

I also especially like the inclusion of Drummond in this book, and his depiction as a racist thug. Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond was a World War I vet who starred in a series of hard-boiled detective novels by "Sapper," and his adventures reflect the less-than-politically correct nature of the time in which they were written. But, for what they are, the books are a lot of fun. Drummond was also featured in a long running movie series as well, with Ronald Colman doing a great job as the hero in the first two, and he was later played by such notable actors as Ray Milland and Ralph Richardson. I'm also a fan of the late-60s attempt to turn Drummond into a James Bond knock-off in the wonderfully titled films, Deadlier than the Male (1966) and Some Girls Do (1969). Richard Johnson, an early contender to play Bond, stars in these two films, and they both stand out as some of the better attempts to tap into the Bond craze. The first film also features an exciting climactic fight amongst life-sized, mechanical chess pieces.

As with all the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books, Jess Nevins is producing some exhaustive annotations. He's also been nice enough to include a couple of my suggestions, one of which is probably way off base.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Night Fights: Parobeck Style!

Here are a couple of pages of onomatopoeic awesomeness from Batman Adventures 14 (1993), drawn by the incomparable Mike Parobeck.

It's another Friday night: time to check in with Bahlactus.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Everything Is Going to Be All Right

In one fell swoop, Gail Simone makes everything all right:

From Wonder Woman 14, art by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

There are a lot of great moments in comics this week, what with the new Scott Pilgrim and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books, but I wanted make sure this great moment didn't get lost in the mix.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More on Pushing Daisies

On tonight's episode of Pushing Daisies, wonderfully titled "Bitches," Emerson Cod has a dream that leads him to a significant clue in the mystery of the polygamous dog breeder. The dream is a brilliantly done, near-shot-for-shot remake of this scene, from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo:

Also, I haven't seen anyone else mention it about this series, but I love it when Sy Richardson shows up as the Coroner, who is now developing a business relationship with Emerson. In the annals of awesomeness, of course, Sy Richardson is probably best known as the repo man Lite in Alex Cox's Repo Man. Richardson was a mainstay in most of Cox's best films, especially Straight to Hell (he also has a quick but memorable cameo in Sid and Nancy, where he hands the lovely couple some methadone at a clinic).

The verdict: Pushing Daisies still continues to be great.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dr. K's Annals of Authenticity, Vol. 1: The 'Mats on SNL

I remember very clearly the evening of January 18, 1986, when the Replacements performed on Saturday Night Live. It was the day after my 17th birthday, for one thing. I was going to high school in North Dakota, but lived close enough to the Minnesota border that I felt I could authentically claim the Replacements as a "local band," and I eagerly anticipated their appearance on SNL.

It's difficult to overstate the significance of the Replacements at that time and place in my life. I was just starting to date, and a song like "Kiss Me on the Bus" gave me an idealized notion of being romantic. And as I was developing certain anti-establishment tendencies at the time, the Replacements' video for "Bastards of Young," featuring a single-take shot of a stereo playing the song and somebody smoking, gave the finger to MTV and its recent dominance, which I was convinced would destroy the music industry. (I still think it's the greatest music video ever made.) For their next album, Pleased to Meet Me, the band put out a video for their song "The Ledge," which was banned from MTV. Though the song is about a young man contemplating suicide, the video featured the band eating lunch and smoking. This was further evidence that MTV sucked.

But, at the most, the Replacements represented authenticity to me--specifically, an uncompromising purity in their rock 'n' roll ethos--and that video is just one example. I was obsessed with authenticity at the time probably because of Catcher in the Rye: as a kind of flip side to Holden Caulfield's objections to "phonies." Further evidence of their authenticity was demonstrated in their SNL appearance. The band was pretty wasted, as is immediately evident in the first song, "Bastards of Young," and Paul Westerberg forgets to sing huge chunks of the lyrics, including the best line, "We've got no war to name us." He also says "fuck" when he drops that line, which, for me at 17, was the epitome of cool. The second song, "Kiss Me on the Bus," goes a little better, until Bob Stinson (who was kicked out of the band during this tour because of his drug problems and later died of an overdose in 1995) drops his guitar on the stage at the end. While "being wasted" was not a necessary criterion in my conception of rock 'n' roll authenticity, being wasted and still outperforming any other band in music history can help to make a strong case.

So, at 17, this performance fascinated me. Though I was never a really rebellious kid, I respected the impulse to rebellion a lot, and I admired anyone who could follow through on it. Of course, one could argue that the Replacements would have had much more longevity as a band if they'd played the game better, but then we wouldn't have had moments like this.

And I still think that "Bastards of Young" should be the anthem of anyone who grew up in the 80s.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Updates on Some Recent Posts

  • DCBService, the company from which I order my comics every month, is replacing all the comics that were damaged in the recent shipment. So, A+ for them!

  • I never heard from the guy whose laptop I returned, as discussed here.

  • Jon Sable, Freelance started over at ComicMix. Mike Grell's art hasn't missed a step in the years since I've seen any new work from him. This isn't the most original Sable story so far, but it is a nice return to form. As I've said before, Jon Sable, Freelance is one of my all-time favorite comic series, so it's great to see it back. One recommendation: read the chapters in two-page mode, because Grell uses a couple of double-page spreads that are confusing in single-page mode. The site is also supposed to have an unpublished issue of Mike Grell's Shaman's Tears, but I can't seem to get that one to load. I never got into that series when it was originally published, despite the fact that it was from Grell.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The 100-Page Super Spectacular Celebrates Veterans Day

In celebration of Veterans Day, here are some favorite covers from Dr. K's war comics collection.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dr. K's 100-Page Super Spectacular Presents: The Greatest Comic Book of All Time!

In honor of this blog's 100th post, I present to you the single greatest comic book of all time. It may not be any comic you could guess, but, pound for pound, this tops them all.

Detective Comics 440 (Apr.-May 1974)

Exhibit A: Awesome Jim Aparo cover (one which, I would add, collectors of a certain persuasion might refer to as a "bondage cover." It also features a demonic bear.).

As the title of my blog indicates, I love the DC era when the company put out these 100-Page Super Spectaculars. Not only was it the best value in comics, but it was also a crash course in comics history. In this issue, for example, you not only get two original tales, but also three Golden Age and two Silver Age stories. Here are the contents:

1. Batman in "Ghost Mountain Midnight!" by Archie Goodwin, Sal Amendola, and Dick Giordano
2. The Golden Age Manhunter in "Cobras of the Deep" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (from Adventure Comics 79, 1942: Manhunter fights Nazis on a sub--Awesome!)
3. The Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl in "The Fear that Haunted Hawkman" by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson (from Hawkman 3, 1964)
4. Doll Man in "A Million Dollar Corpse" with art by the criminally underrated Al Bryant,whose style reminds me of a cross between Golden Age greats Paul Gustafson and Jack Cole (from Feature Comics 123, 1948)
5. The Golden Age Green Lantern in "Too Many Suspects" with art by Alex Toth and Frank Giacoia (from Green Lantern 37, 1949)
6. Batman and Robin in "Inside Story of the Outsider" by Gardner Fox, Bob Kane, and Joe Giella (from Detective Comics 356, 1966)
7. Chapter 4 of the Manhunter serial by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, one of the greatest stories in comics history

By virtue of the art, this comic is a gold mine: Simon and Kirby, Murphy Anderson, Alex Toth, some artist whose work Bob Kane signed (actually, from the looks of the story, it may really be Kane's art), and Walt Simonson. I challenge anyone to find a comic with a line-up better than that.

The main story alone is all kinds of awesome, too. Just to give you a sense of its awesomeness: It begins with two hillbillies breaking in to the Gotham City version of the Playboy Club in order to kidnap a waitress, and it ends with Batman fighting a bear.

Every single work of literature in the history of mankind pales in comparison to that description.

The story opens with the aforementioned kidnapping at the "Playhour Club," and, as one would have guessed, Bruce Wayne is in attendance.

I love this depiction of Bruce Wayne as the effete playboy who is so spoiled and disconnected from normal human behavior that he would complain to a manager that a crime commited in the restaurant ruined his tornadoes flambe.

Bruce then slinks off to change into Batman and pursue the kidnappers. Fighting on the snowy Gotham streets, Batman gets coldcocked by one of the hillbillies, and just before he goes down, he learns that these men are the waitress's brothers, and they come from some place called "Ghost Mountain."

In the days before Google and the internets, Batman has Alfred find this Ghost Mountain on something called "microfilm." The loyal butler informs the Caped Crusader that Ghost Mountain is in Appalachia, and Batman decides it's time for a road trip to hillbilly country.

There, he pays a call on the local sheriff, who conforms to the stereotype of the crooked Southern lawman so popular in the 70s (see also, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, Sheriff Lobo, et al.). And, like several of those sheriffs, this one also seems obsessed with moonshine and revenuers.

I find this binary distinction between city and country to be interesting, and I didn't realize until now that "inferring" was limited only to urban environments.

I also find it interesting that the sheriff apparently has shit all over his shoes.

Meanwhile, the waitress who was kidnapped is now with her family, who are planning to sacrifice her to the curse of Ghost Mountain. This should stand as a lesson to anyone who leaves the country to seek out an education in the big city: if you refuse to fulfill your purpose as the sacrifice to a family curse, then someone else is going to die.

It turns out that the curse of Ghost Mountain is just a very angry bear, and Batman, with his extensive experience in bear fighting, takes care of business in one of the greatest single pages ever produced.

We've all seen Batman punch bears and other animals so often that it's become a cliche. But here, he kicks it up a notch by 1) beating the bear with chains, and 2) lighting the bear on fire and then riding him off a cliff. When you think of all the options Batman had for bringing this bear down, I think we can all agree that he chose the most aesthetically satisfying route.

After dispatching "Smokey," Batman comes across the source of the bear's anger: his cave houses the still that the sheriff alluded to earlier. Also, Batman finds a clue here that leads him back to the sheriff, and punching ensues.

Man, that is one satisfying denouement.

Bonus Content:

Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson's Manhunter story is easily in my top 5 favorite comic stories, and chapter 4, serialized in this issue, contains some of my favorite Walt Simonson art. Here are my two favorite pages.

True fact: when I read this page for the first time, at the age of 5, I uttered the response "Fuck, yes." Interestingly, I had never heard the f-word before that.

Seriously, though, that sequence of images where Manhunter slides under the car, cuts the gas tank, and lights the gas on fire is simply awesome storytelling.

And here is a great fight sequence, leading to a beautiful long panel that perfectly captures the sense of motion on the page. Few artists have that skill to animate the page in this way.

So, on the occasion of my 100th post, I would just like to thank everyone who has come by, read, and commented so far. It's been a blast, and I'm looking forward to digging further into my comics and movie collections.