Election 2018 – Please Join Me

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a political curmudgeon. I’m usually outspoken supporting underdog candidates—like Gary Johnson in the 2016 Presidential election. My underdog streak goes way back. I was a John Anderson supporter in 1980, three years before I could vote. That might give some of you the idea that I only support lost causes. Not this time. 

This Thursday, I voted in the mid-term election. (If you live where I do, you have three days of early voting opportunities left. Do it. It’s convenient.) I voted for, in alphabetical order, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and Republicans. I voted for incumbents who have done a solid job, for mavericks who probably won’t win, but who deserve a showing for their valiant efforts, and for newcomers who stand a good chance, and who I think will accomplish great things in office. 

I voted for people, not politics. 

I’d like to ask you to do the same. 

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$666 – An Ill Omen

Damien!!!!!

I admit it, I love the original version of The Omen. I loved the sequel as well–Damien: Omen II. From the moment Damien appears, seen walking with fire before him, until Lee Grant shrieks his name devotedly as she dies at his hand, the story of the literal son of Satan hooks me.

But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about a Kickstarter I’m running that’s stuck at the number of the beast, the number of a man, the number Damien has tatooed on his scalp…

Six-Hundred and Sixty Six dollars.

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If You Force Me to Choose Sides, You May Not Like the Side I Choose

A few years ago, it was rumored that an unpopular President had called the Constitution of the United States, “just a goddamned piece of paper!” And those who even considered the possibility that he had actually said the words were outraged. The very idea that our Chief Executive would express disrespect for the document which defines our government! Now a retired Supreme Court Justice is calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, one of ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. I am, again, outraged. Only my outrage will be permanent. This is not a rumor. Justice Stevens called for it on the Op Ed page of the New York Times.

While, it’s true that I actively despise Hillary Clinton, I do not consider myself a conservative, nor, in spirit, a Republican. Yet if the anti-gun lobby decides to follow his lead, they will have accomplished something that Hillary never could during Election 2016. They will have forced me to choose sides. And in this silly battle of false dichotomies, I shall choose to stand with the Bill of Rights, and with the party that can successfully oppose its dissection.

Justice Stevens’s words are not a call for common sense or school safety. They are a call to take a knife to a set of principles which have protected our freedom for more than two centuries. Democratic party be warned: if you go down this path, you’re not only losing the middle ground, you’re actively pissing all over those of us who are standing on it.

The Colonel’s Plan – We’re Pretty Strange

October 10th, 2017

Dear Daddy—

I’ve had a hard time finding time to write lately. We’ve done a lot of work in the house over the weekend, and, even though it was a long weekend, and I’ve actually taken this week off, life fills to fit the available free time. You knew how that was, I know. But, in and around work, doctor’s appointments and shuttling Christian to and from school, we are making progress with the house. I spent what time I could today building the shelf to hold the sinks. I decided to tile the countertop (it turned out to be a very small space, once the holes for the sinks were cut yesterday!) using the mosaic tile you had bought for the floor.

I brought a section of it out (photo) to show Renee and Mother and ask their opinion. Mother exclaimed, “Oh, Steven, that’s pretty! Now, where does it go?”

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Mordru the Merciless” Part Two (Adventure Comics #369, June, 1968)

Last week, as you recall, (okay, it was yesterday) four Legionnaires were hiding out in 1950s Smallville, the unstoppable sorcerer Mordru hunting them relentlessly…

The kids settle into their secret identities. With whiteface makeup applied, Shady becomes Betsy Norcross, an exchange student. She never says when she’s an exchange student from. And it’s a bit odd that an exchange student would go door to door, asking for a place to live, but that’s just what Shady does at Lana Lang’s house. These things are usually set up by the school, but Mrs. Lang takes her right in. One wonders what “Betsy’s” accent sounded like. Was she passing off as European? Australian? Asian? We saw in the last issue that Curt Swan did not draw Asians looking very Asian. They just had black hair and the same skin tone white people had. I guess that’s refreshing, given how badly stereotyped some comic artists had been in their depictions, only a few years earlier.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Mutiny of the Super-Heroines” (Adventure Comics #368, May, 1968)

Wrapped in the exciting packaging of Shooter and Swan in 1968 comes a derivative plot from four years previous. “Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires” also concerned a matriarchal, alien world trying to control the female Legionnaires to their own devious ends. Only that time they just tried to lure the boys into romance so they could bring them down, one by one. This time out, the girls gain greatly enhanced powers and attempt to show the world how useless their male comrades are.

It all begins when a spaceship carrying an ambassador falls from orbit. The Legion races to the scene, only to discover that the ambassador has saved herself, using super-strength to move the wreckage. Star Boy is a little too surprised that the ambassador is a woman in this 30th Century supposedly committed to sexual equality. Ambassador Thora is introduced to President Boltax, although she admits that, coming from a matriarchy, it’s hard for her to deal with men being in charge.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Black Day for the Legion” (Adventure Comics #363, December, 1967)

It takes a while for Part Two of the Mantis Morlo story to start. After the splash page, there’s a page of recap of the last issue, then the first actual page of news story just repeats the story elements already shown on the splash page. The Legionnaires, were left in battle with the Chemoids at the end of last issue, and they weren’t doing well.

Now they trade Chemoids, and their powers work well when used against a Chemoid who was adapted for one of their teammates. That suggests that the Chemoids are not as versatile as Morlo claimed, or maybe they just don’t adapt quickly enough to handle multiple opponents. Superboy takes out the smog generator that was endangering Orando. The mission is accomplished, but Morlo escapes, jumping off a flying platform and vanishing utterly.

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The Legionnaire Who Stole an Identity! (Or, Superboy’s Forgotten Bromance)

“The Five Legion Orphans” was only 12 pages long. To fill the rest of the book, one would expect that perhaps a new Superboy adventure would have been commissioned. Perhaps another outing by Otto Binder, who had given us “The Six-Legged Legionnaire” last issue. What we got, instead, was the closest Silver Age readers were going to get to an explanation of why Star Boy first appeared with powers identical to Superboy, and, when he showed up again after missing 19 Legion adventures, was suddenly equipped only to make things super heavy.

The explanation comes in a text box added to the last panel of 356’s reprint of “Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes,” a story written by the aforementioned Otto Binder.

A note on the Grand Comics Database entry for this reprint says that Star Boy was “partially refried from Adventure #195.” Partially refried? Like the beans?

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Six-Legged Legionnaire” (Adventure Comics #355, April, 1967)

Rounding out an issue left short by an abrupt end to the Adult Legion saga, Otto Binder contributes his last Legion story, bringing one of his favorite characters, Lana Lang, to the clubhouse to apply for membership.

In 20th-Century Smallville, Lana catches Superboy changing clothes in a phone booth, but resists the urge to learn his secret identity, giving him his privacy instead. She knows that, if his identity were revealed, he’d have to give it up, and that would be sad. It seemingly doesn’t occur to her that knowing his identity might also expose her to personal danger. The women in Clark Kent’s life seem oblivious to the idea of danger.

As a reward, Superboy takes Lana to a Legion meeting. The meeting itself is a secret, so he leaves her to explore future Metropolis. It occurs to me here that Superboy must place a high level of trust in Lana, if he’s willing to let her wander unescorted 1,000 years in the future. Even a future city is still a city, but he probably figures that Metropolis is inherently safe and Lana doesn’t have the worst judgment in the world.

Lana has brought her Insect Queen costume and ring, and she uses them to get an aerial view. Along the way, she encounters and endangered space liner, and uses her powers to extinguish a fire in the engine compartment and save the passengers and crew. One of the passengers is Dream Girl, who tells Lana she handled the crisis as well as any Legionnaire would have, and also that she owes Lana a favor.

This puts an idea in Lana’s head—and, minutes later, she shows up at the Legion clubhouse as an applicant for membership. The application process is back to its old form, with no pre-tests to rule our Lana’s artificial powers, and no evident vote by the members. Invisible Kid lets her go through her whole dog-and-pony show before telling her she’s not qualified. At least he’s nice about it!

As she goes to sit with the rejects (ouch!), a distress call comes in from Ice City at the South Pole. Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet are dispatched. Lana, still hoping to prove herself, cashes in her favor with Dream Girl and asks for a prophecy. Dream Girl reveals that the Legion team is in danger, but that Lana must not turn into a moth today—that will lead to tragedy.

Superboy flies Lana to Antarctica and shows off Ice City—a metropolis carved from solid ice. The residents avoid freezing to death by wearing special parkas, and Superboy gets one for Lana. Strangely, the fully human Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet never put on parkas. I suppose it’s possible the Chameleon Boy can adapt to extreme cold, but the question is never addressed.

Sure enough, the Legionnaires are in danger from an escaped criminal named Oggar-Kon, who plans to use fantastic technology to either melt Ice City, blow it away, or shake it apart. Nearly defeated, Oggar-Kon flings Green K dust all over Superboy. As expected, the only way Lana can think to save the love of her young life is to change into a moth-girl. She saves Superboy, but loses her bio-ring. She’s trapped in moth-form… forever. Well, it seems like forever. It’s until Light Lass demonstrates her amazing control over her power—she can make an object light, even if she doesn’t know where it is, and without making the other objects around it light. She causes the ring to float upward—from its place inside the secret pocket on Superboy’s cape.

Lana demonstrates real bravery in this story, and earns a place as a reserve Legionnaire. We won’t get to see her in action too many times, but there’s no denying she’s one hell of a Legionnaire. One wonders if Insect Queen would have run more issues than Superwoman did.

Roll Call:Superboy, Dream Girl, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet,

Firsts: Insect Queen as an honorary member

 

Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Doomed Legionnaire!” (Adventure Comics #353, )

SPOILERS!

Yeah, Ferro Lad’s been dead almost as long as I’ve been alive, so I don’t think I’m blowing any secrets here. The last time a Legionnaire died, there was no fanfare, no announcement on the cover, and almost no emotion shown. Of course, Lightning Lad came back not long after his “death.” But Ferro Lad stayed dead. (Yes, he returned as a ghost, as his twin brother, as a clone (twice!) and as a character in a reboot Legion. But this Andrew Nolan died in Adventure 353, and is still dead in current continuity, such as it is.)

It sounds like Jim Shooter always planned to kill Ferro Lad. He told Roger Stern that he didn’t think he’d be allowed to kill any existing Legionnaires, so he created some “extras” in his first story. Since no regular character in a comic like this had been permanently killed before, he thought it should be tried. (14 years later, he tried to apply similar logic to the idea of turning a long-standing character permanently evil, but Jean Grey just came back to life as a hero again, so I don’t think that idea stuck. It’s a shame, but it begs the question—would we remember Ferro Lad so fondly if he had lived?

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