Monday, October 24, 2011

By Special Request-Planet Wingnuttia

Longtime readers of this blog know Ed Brayton and his Dispatches from the Culture Wars. I don’t think I would have started this blog without his encouragement. Recently he requested that I create a new feature, Planet Wingnuttia, to highlight hypocrisy on the political scene, that we could share on both blogs.  So, for the first issue, we’ve gone with the concept of conservatives that tout traditional marriage while trading in wives as often as some people replace cell phones. It is also pretty unbelievable to me that Newt Gingrich is, at this late date, “running for president”. This “curio from another time” resigned in disgrace from congress and hasn’t held office since the 1990’s; in my opinion he’s only there to promote himself and his books. The most amazing story here, perhaps, is that four different women were actually willing to marry Rush Limbaugh!

Marvel’s Had Some Reboots Too

There’s been a lot of hoopla lately about DC Comic’s recent reboot of its entire universe, erasing over 70 years of continuity. And this isn’t the first time this company has done this, but certainly it’s the highest profile change they’ve mustered over the years.  What less people know about though, is how Marvel Comics also rebooted characters, and Stan Lee took the credit for creating new, original characters. Let me explain.
In May 1942, unknowns Walt Peters and Jake Simms approached Timely, the forerunner of Marvel, with a stable of characters that they called The Amazing Marvels. Timely liked what they saw but were unwilling to fully commit to the concept, so they printed a limited run. They sold every issue they printed but were still cautious so continued only printing limited runs, reasoning that if the characters caught on they could just reprint them. Just to hedge their bets they had the duo include The Angel, an already established character as a member of The Amazing Marvels. They did indeed develop a moderate level of popularity but one thing Timely hadn’t counted on was Peters demanding triple pay for him and his artist, Simms. Timely, of course, would do no such thing, and the result was a lawsuit. The result was, the two took had creative control of their characters, but now had no publisher. They shopped their heroes around, but no company would hire them; no one wanted to risk a lawsuit. Destiny was not kind in this case, a tragic fire in Jake Simms Brooklyn home in 1943 resulted in his death and the destruction of all the original artwork. Walt Peters had no drawing ability, and could find no artist that would work with him, so that signaled the “death” of The Amazing Marvels. It was all a moot point anyway, as Peters died of pneumonia in 1945. None of this escaped the notice of a young Stan Lee, who was working at Timely as a gofer in those days. Eventually Stan, knowing that in essence no one alive owned these characters created his own versions of them, for the modern age, and so far, he’s gotten away with it. And now the story can be told. These two comics are the only surviving issues of The Amazing Marvels privately collected. Marvel, for its part, does their best to pretend these characters never existed, except for The Angel. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Noncandidate of 2012-Chris Christie

To some Republicans, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey can do no wrong. Elected to replace yet another corrupt administration, Christie has had the herculean task of taming the out of control New Jersey state budget. How he did this was extreme budget cuts most notably in social services and in the state Department of Education. One reason he has become such a hero to the current GOP is, he made these cuts in education in order to create tax cuts for those making over one million dollars a year! Those cuts were estimated to have cost the state treasury, by their own estimates, $900 million, which would have covered the $820 million that was cut from the education budget. Christie contends that the millionaire surtax would drive millionaires away from New Jersey, but there is no evidence to support this, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
As we now know, the GOP begged him to run but, to his credit, he decided to stay on as governor, the job he was, after all, elected to do. That makes me wish that every governor had felt that way; they were elected to do a job and they should see that through. Not that I’m referring to anyone we would know, mind you.
I felt this Christiemania needed to be commemorated in comic book form. This is how I saw the situation in my mind’s eye; the GOP, horribly disappointed in their current crop of candidates, reaching out for an alternative. I’ll salute Christie for knowing when to stay out of a dogfight; I just hope he never delves into national politics. 

DC Comics Reboot-Silver Age Sandman

Raymond “Whitey” Sands was a dreamer who had always dreamt of incredible battles, fantastic weapons, and strange vistas. He always felt the dream world seemed more real than reality itself. He dreamed of fighting secret menaces in the Dream Dimension so one day he awoke and crafted a costume and began his career as Sandman, seeking out nightmares come alive. He created his Sand-Blaster, which not only shoots sand, but also sleeping gas. He uses other gimmicks as well, such as grit bombs and instant quicksand. Later it was revealed that he was seeing a distorted version of the original Sandman, Wesley Dodds, and his sidekick Sandy, through the Dream Dimension Mirror. Later he journeyed to Earth-2 where he met and worked with his inspiration. He was a member of the Super-Squad from the beginning, he was the first one Starman recruited. As for his own title, it didn’t last 15 issues. For some reason, this version of Sandman never caught on. Later Sandman was killed by a shadow demon in Crisis on Infinite Earths; most consider it a mercy killing for this unpopular character.