Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Review of Peanuts vol. 3

A few days back I checked out from the library the third volume of The Complete Peanuts. I read the first two a bit back; "the complete Peanuts" should be three words that gladden the heart of any true fan of comic art.

Volume three features every daily strip from January 1, 1955 to December 31, 1956, and has an introduction from Matt Groening.

I would not call this era Peanuts' peak by any stretch, which is a good thing, because that means we have many years worth of quality Schulz work to look forward to. However, the strip's once inchoate characters are really starting to gel here. Lucy is a bossy fussbudget, Linus starts to talk and show supreme skill in every childish task, and (to the delight of many) Snoopy begins to demonstrate his active fantasy life, becoming an alligator, kangaroo, snake, and Mickey Mouse, as well as debuting that terrific two-foot Snoopy dance. Oh, and a kite or two gets stuck in a tree.

To attempt to pick out favorite strips would be a foolhardy task, as I for one would probably end up transcribing about half of the book. Nearly every strip is a gem of cynical, poignant philosophy, the plaint of the insecure in a world that often seems crabby and cruel. Though all the characters are recognizable as real-world types, there's probably a little more Charlie Brown in all of us than we care to admit, and it's ol' round-head who provides most of the sobering chuckles. A brief smattering of punchlines demonstrates.

* Lucy marvelling that "Fun is good enjoyment!"
* Linus' rebuttal to the mundane dictates of life: "Five hundred years from now, who'll know the difference?"
* Charlie Brown: "The way the population is rising, I'm getting more unpopular every day!"
"I'm not even living... I'm just existing."
"I should have told her off! Oooo, how I should have told her off! I knew I was right, too! I just knew it! ...Yet, I wasn't quite sure..."

But Peanuts is not a treatise, it's a comic strip. The perfect, sad observations of Charlie Brown, Linus and company are nothing without Schulz' correspondingly perfect, clean line drawings. Humor is omnipresent, even if the words don't seem funny. With a twisted line, a wide eye, or an open mouth, Schulz somehow imbues his little cartoons with all the righteous anger, spirit-crushing resignation, and gleeful schadenfreude you could hope to find in any "adult" soap opera. The characters open their mouths impossibly wide and shout defiance or encouragement, literally bowling over their interlocutors. Snoopy's satisified, vaguely evil face after pretending, as a boa contrictor, to choke Charlie Brown, is priceless, but it's only one of thousands of similarly rich expressions. How Schulz manages to put so much glee into Snoopy's dancing with just a few motion lines and a goofy, wide grin is beyond me, but it's clear he was one of the real masters of hand drawing.

The bottom line is that there is more real, raw human drama in this year's worth of comics about "children" than in any year of those tired old "serious" serial strips like Mary Worth. There's more art --- honest to goodness, real creative endeavor --- in a single panel of Schulz' Peanuts than you could find in a decade of some soulless assembly-line fluff like Garfield. (And Schulz wrote and drew every strip, for as long as he lived, with his own hand.) And there's more genuine humor --- gentle, sympathetic mocking, gleeful, life-affirming whimsy, and crazy visuals --- in one strip than in a lifetime of empty, repetitive dreck like Marmaduke or Hagar the Horrible.

No, as you can tell, I am no fan of newspaper comics. Boring! But these Peanuts collections can stand proudly on any shelf.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TV Review: "Justice League: The Brave & the Bold"

And now for something completely different, but still way nerdy.

Because all you bloggers kept talking and talking about the show "Justice League Unlimited," I started watching it pretty recently. Say, it's fairly good! But then, boasting writers like Warren Ellis and Gail Simone, of course it is. Thanks for the tip, bloggers.

(By the way, up there in that last paragraph, a good blogger would have put links on both "talking"s to other bloggers talking about "JLU," but as we all know, I am not a good blogger. No links for you! Find your own!)

Anyhoo. So, encouraged by such TV goodness, I begin to use my Netflix account to order "Justice League" DVDs. I see then that this is a different show altogether. It's not "Justice League Unlimited." Ah, the difference a word makes!

See, it turns out that the show "Justice League," without the last word there, is pretty bad. Not total and complete crap, but still pretty bad. I feel some trepidation in reviewing a children's show from my quasi-adult mindset, but I'm going to. It's what you bloggers have driven me to with your carping on about some lame ass cartoon.

This DVD has four episodes, a couple of two-parters.

The first is "The Brave and the Bold." Green Lantern and Flash team up to defeat Gorilla Grodd, who is bent on using mind control to destroy his hometown, Gorilla City.

I liked the characterization (GL is the moody, serious one, Flash the impulsive, not so bright one), and the dialogue was okay. I enjoyed the homage to the various transformations Barry Allen went through in his Silver Age title, viewed as an extended nightmare sequence after Wally West is knocked out. I also liked that the Flash pointed out that the DCU is a place of wonders after GL expressed doubts that Flash had seen a talking gorilla. (Sidenote. If there's ever a place to suspend disbelief, it's the DCU. I roll my eyes every time someone in a comic says something along the lines of, "I can't believe it! The bullets bounce right off him!" Actually, that would be fairly well-known. Superman's invulnerable. Don't shoot at him. Gee, look there, that guy's flying. Say, the guy with the ring is conjuring glowing energy contructs. The DCU's denizens have been seeing this stuff for at least fifty years. There's no reason to disbelieve it!) Finally, I liked Flash's defeat of Grodd at the end. Handled nicely, with some degree of imagination.

Here's what was crap: the writer is lazy, and that laziness is best expressed by his pathological, burning hatred of J'onn J'onzz (one of my favorite characters). Exhibit the one: Gorilla City is protected by some kind of technologically-constructed force field that also prevents its detection. During the show, Central City is covered with a similar field. J'onn can't phase through it. There is no mention of his telepathic powers, so it's unknown whether the field blocks him from being able to sense the inhabitants inside. Yet we're expected to believe that somehow Batman (snort) has some kind of, heh, technology-analyzing device? Yep, ol' Bats knows just what that advanced technology no one's ever seen before is. That's stupid. Exhibit the two: later, the Justice League is captured in Gorilla City. The manacles holding them resist J'onn's attempts to break them or phase through them. Man, those gorillas have some incredible technology! See, I'd accept that, except that then Batman breaks out of the manacles with some kind of fuckin' bent wire hidden in his glove. That's stupid. Exhibit the three: J'onn is punched around by a gorilla. What the hey --- J'onn's stronger than some stinking ape. That's stupid. Exhbit the four: when Wonder Woman is buried under some debris, the writer apparently forgot again that J'onn is telepathic, because he acts as if she's dead. What, he can't just scan under there? And even if you do think she's dead, how about the super-strong guy lifts a few of the bigger chunks of debris, just to be on the safe side, or hell, at least to recover the damn body, instead of just watching ol' Bats sit in the crater and chunk tiny bits of rock around? That's pretty stupid.

Green Lantern is also written by someone who, it seems, is puzzled by the character. Can he shoot "rays" or do other stuff? How much does the ring protect him? It's unclear. He's a badly defined character. It's a pretty bad use of the ring when you start missing Hal Jordan's giant green hands --- at least they provided humorous effect. (In a climactic scene here, this GL disarms missiles by wrenching some wires out with, uh, his bare hand.) On the whole, this two-part episode gets a C- for lazy writing.

Whew. All that hysterical ranting tires a geek out.

The next two episodes where called, I think, "Injustice For All." Luthor, discovering he's dying of kryptonite cancer (it turns out it has a deleterious effect on humans as well as Superman --- and by the way, why does it weaken Superman?), assembles a bunch of criminals to help him destroy the JL once and for all. Unfortunately, despite his giant brain, Luthor pulls together a bunch of stupid losers. Cheetah and Copperhead and Solomon Grundy? A lame lineup of weak characters, but that's okay, because in this animated universe, everyone is weaker than they are in the comics, except Batman, who is King God of All. Superman is knocked around by Solomon Grundy, for pete's sake, and yes, once again J'onn J'onzz is spat upon. He fails to recognize a trap despite his telepathy, he acts like a fool by rushing in without taking stock first, and for some goddam reason the Anti-Humanite zaps him with some stick while he's phasing (unless I saw it wrong and he wasn't phasing, but if he wasn't, why wasn't he?). Very bad use of J'onn again --- why not scope out the scene invisible, approach the Humanite disguised as Luthor, etc. etc. The writers of this show, it seems, simply do not know how to use this powerful character with diverse abilities. It's not just J'onn, though; there was too much mindless punching from Superman and Wonder Woman. They're more than just strong fliers. They too have a wide array of abilities. Where is the imagination? Where is the strategy? Not on this show. Even Green Lantern's ring is used boringly.

But these two episodes were better than the first two, though. Despite my anti-Batman stance, I did enjoy how he dealt with being held captive by seven deadly criminals. There was no stupid-ass Batfu or Bat-Houdini magic. He just used some Criminal Psychology and Fast Talk and Divide And Conquer. Now that's a dangerous man!

I grade the Injustice episode a B-.

I saw some other episodes, too, but I forgot them already.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Vocabulaire: baratiner

baratiner - to spin a yarn, shoot one's mouth off, be full of hot air
Ce vendeur cabochard me baratine toujours alors que je n'ai jamais rien acheté !

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Captain Universe Vs. Cosmic Boy

Who is the true Master of the Universe? Galactus? Jesus? He-Man? Grant Morrison? Today, we aim to find out in a COC fight that transcends mere planets and solar systems.

Representing the planet Braal, stalwart youth Rokk Krinn (seriously. Worst. Name. Ever), founding member of the Legion Of Super-Heroes known as Cosmic Boy, faces off against his opponent. The power at his command? "Super-magnetism." It's telekinesis that only works on magnetic metals. For this he's called Cosmic Boy?

Representing the Microverse but fighting out of his adopted home of the planet Earth is the non-entity known as Captain Universe. Actually not a person but a "Uni-Power," this force settles on Earthling hosts and grants them cosmic powers for a short period of time. What are these cosmic powers, I hear you cry? Easy. He's got a watch with a minute hand, millenium hand and an eon hand. And when they meet, it's a happy land. Just kidding. A little They Might Be Giants for you quirky pop fans out there.

Seriously, his powers. Well, they're sure not as cut and dry as "super-magnetism." As with the Silver Surfer and other "cosmic" entities, comic book writers have often confused high levels of power with the license to have a character do pretty much anything as needed. So the good Captain can fly, has amplified strength, molecular transformation and manipulation, energy manipulation and expulsion, and "Uni-Vision," which appellation, again, is a pretty big window for the writer seeking a quick way to get to the action: the Uni-Force grants hypnotism, telescopic vision, X-ray vision, microscopic vision, and for all I know visual prognostication --- whatever the writer needs to get Captain to the crime on time.

You'll agree, I'm sure, unless you're a real grouch, that this Captain Universe thing is a pretty grand idea. Consider: "at all times somewhere on Earth there is a Captain Universe." At all times! Twenty-four hours a day, someone on Earth has immense, almost god-like power, if not enough to reshape the world, then at least to make some pretty big changes. Think of the story possibilities! Theink of the grand, sweeping story arcs! Think of the delightfully ludicrous deus ex machina endings such an extant characteristic of the Marvel Universe could provide! (The Avengers, the Fantastic Four --- all incapacitated! The Masters of Evil are running amok! They're killing hostages! They're manhandling heroes' wives! They're stuffing mothers in refrigerators! No --- wait --- one of those elderly mothers suddenly is Captain Universe! Take that, Radioactive Man! Take that refrigerator up your ass!) And what do they do with this guy? They slap him onto Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, and Doctor Stephen Strange. Three guys who, you'll admit, don't really need or want any more weirdness in their lives.

Anyway. Captain Universe rules. I guess he (or she) could turn Cosmic Boy into mint jelly, or make the air around him for a ten-foot diameter solid rock. Or liquid gold. Or he could just rip Rokk's head clean off. Or hypnotize him into magnetizing a bunch of sharp, heavy metal things onto his own head. Whatever. Powerful man, Universe Man. They have a fight, Universe wins.

The Champ. Good night, Captain Universe, wherever you are. Posted by Hello

Next: The iridescent tourney

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Green Arrow Vs. Hawkeye

Ah, archery. The sport of kings. Unless that's horse racing. Or poker.

Whatever, today's contest is between two titans of the bow. Created by rival comic companies, they are probably the two most famous archers in comics.

The first is a self-righteous left-winger with a goatee, a veritable amalgam of Noam Chomsky and Robin Hood: he's wealthy playboy Oliver Queen, known to the denizens of Star City as Green Arrow.

The second is another hothead who often rails against authority (and what is it with archers being such firebrands in comics?), Clint Barton, the other guy besides Alan Alda known as Hawkeye.

These purple- and green-clad warriors are absolute masters of their chosen weapon. With hours of grueling practice daily, and intensive combat experience under their quivers, each man can retrieve and notch an arrow faster than a sharpshooter can draw a gun; they can both plant their sturdy shafts (hee hee) at will into targets the size of quarters at distances of 200 feet and more without breaking a sweat. Each one will topple the quintain 99 times out of 100, and even that one percent of the time, they'll only miss by a hairsbreadth. Their hand speed and reflexes are also past Olympic-level; both Hawkeye and Green Arrow have deflected oncoming missiles with their own arrows in midflight. In terms of skill with the bow, these are two truly evenly matched heroes. In terms of strategy, Hawkeye may have a slight edge, since he's been the leader of a team, but it's a very slim advantage; indeed, GA's long stretches of solo adventuring would be more likely to serve him here, in a one-on-one bowfight.

What types of arrows await their disposal? Both heroes use an extensive array of trick arrows. Gas arrows, TNT arrows, net arrows, electric arrows, magnetic arrows, bolo arrows, boomerang arrows, even (ugh) boxing-glove arrows have been drawn and fired by these intrepid bowmen. (It's all a bit goofy, but hey, that's comics for ya.) How could anyone reasonably judge a contest between the two? Surely it would come down to a moment's blind luck --- one missed step, the glint of the sun in one combatant's eyes, that one dud glue arrow that fails to activate. (Isn't it always the way? You prime the glue arrows, you practice with the glue arrows, and when you most need them, they fail to spew glue all over your opponent.)

There's no way to write a fair, balanced account of an encounter between these two athletes. Admiring both men's dedication, strength, willpower and sheer four-color creativity, one might make COC history and call it a tie. Or, one could make snarky comments about Hawkeye's ludicrous costume changes over the years.

The purple mainstay outfit is bad enough (the pointy eye/ear things on his cowl aren't the best idea for an archer --- don't they obstruct his vision?), but look at what sartorial travesties he's unleashed on his fellow Avengers during his career. Wasp's got nothing on him. What leaps to the offended eye immediately is that midriff-baring gay-stripper ensemble from his Goliath phase. Note there's just one "tough-guy" wristband, on the right wrist --- is that the superhero equivalent of a handkerchief in a certain pocket, some sort of signal of what he will and won't do in bed? What would two wristbands on the right mean? And I don't get the rationale behind the "cover your shoulders, but leave the arms and torso bare," unless it's for sheer titillation. Which is always good when your life depends partly on your ability to intimidate. Oh Lord, and then there's the distastrous Age-Of-Aquarius-meets-an-extra-from-Troy experiment, with the shirt open to the navel, as if leading the viewer's unbelieving eye down a seductive silk road to the all-too-brief "tunic" (which seems actually to be a skirt of some kind) below. That must have been a real nadir in Clint's life.

Is this a man who can take down the Green Arrow? I say thee nay!

No one is champ when your ward's a junkie. Posted by Hello

Next: Cosmic, man.

Captain America Vs. Captain Britain

We fight today to relive the Fourth of July!

Representing the U.S. of A. is the quondam 98-pound weakling Steve Rodgers, a.k.a. Captain America. You all know who he is. Super-soldier serum, vibranium-alloy shield, yadda yadda.

Representing the British Empire is Brian Braddock, under the startlingly original nom de heroisme Captain Britain. This guy has a little more of a convoluted origin and history. Seems he started as a normal human-level athlete, then wore a costume that increased his strength (he can lift two tons) and allowed him to fly at top speeds, then (possibly briefly) was granted (by Merlin) those powers sans accouterments. Finally, he was given a mystical amulet and what seems to be the original Excalibur, weapon of Arthur ap Uther the Pendragon. And oh yeah --- there's something about his powers decreasing the further away he gets from the white shores of old Albion. Perhaps, though, that no longer applies now that he has the mystical weaponry, or maybe it applies even more, since the weapons are so very British in provenenance. Whatever --- let's go with the flight and lifting two tons, and to perdition with the details, eh?

[Uatu the Watcher says: Spoilers of a recent issue of a certain comic follow.]

Now, in a recent issue of Captain America And Falcon, writer Priest has Cap getting shot by a twitchy junkie who was actually aiming at the Falcon. Some fans are up in arms about this, because Captain America is so super-great and all, that he could never be cut down by a stray bullet, and Priest is just a mean old jerk for even suggesting such a thing.

Priest has Cap dead in the last panel, but that's by the way: everyone knows that comic book deaths (except Bucky's, because no one remembers or cares about him by this point) are only for show, and if Cap really is actually dead here and not just trying to play some sick, twisted prank on his ol' buddy the Falcon, he'll pop back up good as new before the ink can dry on the Tribute to Captain America Special Black-Foil-Embossed Collector's Issue. No, I don't care about the "death" part, it's the actual hitting with a bullet that's the talking point here. How could the infallible Captain America get hit by a bullet from some frightened little junkie who wasn't even trying to hit him? How could Priest even imagine such a thing?

Well, folks, easy: people do get hit by stray bullets in gunfights. And since one of the main premises of Captain America is that he is a human, only a human in the most perfect, prime condition a human can be (and to be revered for being able to rise to such heights despite being only a human)... well, then, such a tragic accident could happen to him. What's the point of making such a goddam hoo-hah about him being a regular, non-superhuman trained athlete if he never gets wounded? Priest is right to explore the vulnerability and risks that non-powered superheroes take. You figure, hey, even Captain America gets sloppy, he gets used to having Iron Man and Thor watch his back all the time, turns a corner in a hallway one day, and blam! A few nine millimeter holes in the pretty blue chainmail. Makes you think, doesn't it?

And while we're (I mean I'm! Dammit! Why do I keep doing that?) discussing Captain America, could he please shut the hell up about the Nazis? I mean, to keep comparing the foes he fights to the Nazis --- it's a little old. "You're not so special! Try fighting the Wehrmacht, mister --- it gives you focus!" Little writing tip? In the Marvel Universe, the Nazis are the ones who should be deemed nothing special. Here is a world has been invaded by aliens more times than I can count, been threatened with gastro-intestinal annihilation at the hands of Galactus on at least a dozen occasions, and been shaken to its foundations by battles between gods, giants, and cosmic forces beyond our real-world mundane experiences. A bunch of racist nutters goosestepping around in thighboots in the '40s? Who gives a crap? There's an immense purple guy in a helmet that looks like a European electric plug threatening to eat the world! A little sense of perspective, Marvel denizens, please.

Oops, looks like I just went off on a demented rant. ...Oh, right, the fight. If there's anyone left still reading this, Captain Britain kicked Captain America's ass six ways to Sunday, shouting "That's for making Tony Blair Bush's lapdog!" Steve Rogers is only human, after all.

The Champ. "Did I really have to make him eat the shield? Oh well." Posted by Hello

Next: Bullseye!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Deadman Vs. Dr. Thirteen

This COC bout is inspired by this post from the always interesting Comic Treadmill. Thanks, guys!

Over here, who might be this... creature, chalk-white and blank of visage, floating in the air, as if the good life-giving earth itself repels him, harrowing all with fear and wonder? His mein is so sickly and ghoulish as to cause each particular hair on the observer's head to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine. Or something. Anyway, the bright red acrobat uniform is a dead (har!) giveaway: it's the late Boston Brand, the aptly-named Deadman. Maybe he's not quite as friendly a ghost as Casper, but he's got a heart of ethereal gold underneath that garish exterior. He's invisible, inaudible and intangible to the living, but he helps out when he can, like our very own dead, bitter guardian angel.

And over there, who's the ass in the trench coat? Why, it's Doctor Terrence Thirteen, a.k.a. Dr. 13, the self-styled "Ghost-Breaker." As his profile inidcates, he's an avowed skeptic. That might strike one as a bit odd, considering he lives in the DC Universe. Here in the real world, we need genial skeptics like Penn and Teller to burst the general public's bubble of credulity and deflate the claims of fraudsters and hoaxers. In the pages of the comics, where it's a generally accepted fact that gods, goddesses and ghosts, magicians, Martians and manes walk the earth, to take the position that there's a mundane, natural explanation for all occult activity is being contrarian to the point of absurdity. Yes, there's a reasonable explanation for that ghost sighting, Doctor Moron --- it was a ghost! Sheesh!

On the plus side, his name is Terrence Thirteen. That's pretty cool.

So, there's Dr. 13, standing around in his trench coat, disavowing all aspects of the supernatural to anyone who will listen.

Deadman inhabits the body of the infuriatingly intractable investigator and punches himself in the nose.

Dr 13 (upon being released from Deadman's control): "What the---? My nose is bleeding! Oh! I probably had a quick stroke, blacked out, fell and hit my nose on the floor, and then got to my feet before regaining my facukties! Yes, that's how it happened!"

Deadman inhabits his body and writes a big sign for him to read.

D13: "What the---? Oh, I see. I had another little strokelet and wrote myself this big sign while blacked out. It says 'Ghosts exist, and one made you write this. Signed, Deadman.' I wonder why I signed it 'Deadman'? How bizarre. And yet, not beyond the realm of the perfectly natural."

Deadman inhabits Thirteen's body and bashes his head against the wall until he dies.

Doctor Thirteen's ghost: "Wow, there's my body lying in a bloody heap on the floor. And I seem to be some kind of holographic image of myself looking down at it. Well, that's easily explainable. Obviously, I've fallen into some sort of narcoleptic state. I can't rule out some kind of technologically-induced mind control, I suppose, but a deep dreaming state is als---"

Deadman: "The logical explanation is that you are dead, you fatuous fraud! Dead! Dee Ee Ay Dee! Compos mortis! Passed! No longer among us! You cashed in your chips, snuffed it, and bought the farm! You are living impaired! You have expired! Shed the mortal coil! Sleeping the big sleep!"

Dr. 13 takes no notice of Deadman's rant, but instead peers around and above Deadman's head and shoulders, a puzzled look on his idiot face.

Deadman: "What are you doing?"

Dr. 13: "Looking for the wires holding you up. It's a neat acrobatic trick, I admit, but you're obviously being held by---"

Deadman lunges at him, knocking him to the floor. He starts throttling the "doctor."

Dr. 13: "As I --- gakkk --- suspected! You're as solid as I am! You're no ghost! (Ghaakkkk!)"

Deadman punches Thirteen around for a while, then gets bored and flies off, leaving Terrence to stand around denying the obvious for the foreseeable future, kind of like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense.

The Champ, sort of. There's no cure for fanaticism. Posted by Hello

Next: God save our gracious amber waves of grain

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wolverine Vs. _________

As always, we (by which I mean me, so why the hell did I write "we"?) here at COC are dedicated to trying new things. Last post's threesome, a battle in Socratic dialogue, lame setups that aren't funny at all... Yes, all of these cheap ploys have been essayed. Today's cheap ploy is another novelty. Instead of a pitched battle of two specific champions, we will examine a series of brief encounters, all starring everyone's favorite mutant, Wolverine. The feral furry fellow will fight a variety of opponents picked out using my very own Super Secret Random Hero Generator (tm). What? No, you can't see it.

So why Wolverine? Because --- and this blog's three faithful readers will begin to sense a pattern here --- COC is all about rectifying fanboy adulation gone awry. You see, as created, Wolverine is not a truly formidable being, relative to some of the truly souped-up denizens of the Marvel Universe. His stats reveal a character who is only slightly more powerful than a human: for example, he can lift only 800 pounds. So why, then is he always going toe-to-toe with guys who should be, by all rights, wayyyy out of his league? No, not because he's a tough mofo who does what he does best. Because when he's in a comic, fame is his power. Fanboy-driven fame. (I have the same beef with how Captain America and Batman are portrayed --- if a big selling point for the character is that he's just a human, albeit a human honed to the point of perfection, he still shouldn't be tussling with the Hulk or Amazo, no matter how big a woody fanboys get just reading about him. Maybe more on Cap later, as I do have some more to say on that subject.)

So anyway, here are a few matchups for Wolvie to delight in, only they'll be objective. Gads, I'm an iconoclast!

* The Hulk. Wolverine is always tussling with the Jade Giant. And somehow living through the experiences. Why? How? The man can only press 800 pounds! The Hulk is... how shall I put this? Oh yeah --- the strongest one there is. How do you justify the Hulk trading slugs with Thor in one book, yet in another having trouble with a relatively quick 5'3" guy who has knives in his wrists? I don't care if he has admantium guns that shoot admantium lasers comings out of his frickin' eyeballs, the little furball doesn't stand a goddam chance! You tell how it goes down, Hulkie: "Claw-man leap around, shouting 'Bub' like he does which only make Hulk angrier. So Hulk clap like this, BOOM, and claw-man fall down. Hulk grab claw-man and squeeze real tight. Hulk can crush tanks like grapes, so claw-man's skin mush up real good. Hulk leap a mile up and punch claw-man lots of times all the way up. Claw-man will scratch at Hulk like he does, but Hulk can take a few scrapes, and they heal in a few minutes anyways. On way down, Hulk make sure claw-man land first and Hulk on top. Hulk eat claw-man's face." Hulk by KO in 2, maybe 3.

* Captain America. Now this is a more even match. Capt. Rogers is as strong as Logan; the mutant may have the edge in speed. Logan's fiercer, but Cap's cool head in combat means that ferocity is no edge. Wolvie's claws are probably negated by Cap's dextrous shield-weilding skills. Wolverine has decades of combat experince, but so does Cap! In the end, I think that Cap's keen sense of battle stategy could carry the day, while Wolverine's fury could only work against him and make him sloppy. Still, with the healing factor and all, Wolvie's a hard guy to put down. Captain America on points.

* The Beast. Logan's fellow X-Man makes another reasonable contest. Dr. McCoy is much stronger (he can lift about a ton), more agile, and probably just as fast, but lacks that taste for blood that, in this case, might spell victory for Logan. He also lacks a healing factor, which means the good doc will, I'm afraid, be losing a war of attrition. Wolverine by KO in 5.

* Superman. No contest. Wolvie would cut this guy to ribbons posthaste! Just kidding. I put him in here to see if you were still paying attention. Superman by KO in 2, but only because he spends all of round one trying to calm Wolverine down so he won't hurt himself hurling his body against Superman's torso.

* The Black Panther. In the Avenger Who Lurks, we find another reasonable foe for the contumacious Canadian. This would be a battle royale that I, for one, would pay money to see. T'Challa's vibranium suit, energy knives and combat skills would give Wolvie a run for his money, or at the very least, work hard for a victory. There are a couple of variables here that I can't account for --- would Wolvie's claws be able to pierce the Panther's bullet-stopping vibranium suit, and would the Panther's own "anti-metal" have any deleterious effect on Wolverine's admantium? All the weaponry aside, I think this fight would be decided by speed, agility and combat smarts, and while the King of the Wakandians is no slouch, Wolverine has the edge in all three. If the fight were held in the jungle, or some other place (like an old ruined fort) where T'Challa's acrobatic skills and stealth could come into play, the Panther could probably manage to drop Wolverine. Even that is iffy, though, given the greater amount of damage Wolverine can absorb. In open ground, T'Challa wouldn't have much of a chance. I'd have to say Wolverine by TKO in 8 or 9.

* The Human Torch. With this fight, we suddenly perceive something about combat that comic book universes rarely address. To wit: characters who can fly and have long-range attacks are much, much, much more likely to win fights. What's Wolverine going to do, throw stuff at Johnny? He'd only melt it anyway. "Hey! What's that weird, orange, glowing skeleton with claws doing in that crater?" "Oh, that's where Wolverine lost his fight with the Torch. Don't touch it. It's still hot." The Torch by KO in 4.

* The Punisher. I think Wolverine's "fought" this guy before (aside from Ennis' humorous Punisher run, which doesn't count). What the hell? Wolverine can take a machine gun hit. Frank can't take a set of claws right through his Kevlar-covered belly. End of story. Wolverine by KO in 2.

Well, that was fun. I only wish comic writers would approach their own battle scenes as blissfully stripped of any fanboy worship.

So who is the Champ?

Why, us! The comic-book buying public. Posted by Hello

Next: Oooooh, spooky

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Amazo Vs. Batman and Nightwing

[NB: this scathing bit of truth in journalism was first posted in April, 2005]

Greetings. This post marks COC history --- Batman is the first character to be featured twice. Just thought I'd mention that for posterity.

Anyways. In Batman #637, Bruce ("Batman") Wayne and Dick ("I'm Not Robin") Grayson are confronted with, and defeat, the dreaded (albeit silly-named) android Amazo.

Amazo, in case you're not a 9th-level nerd like me, is a synthetic being who, somehow, has the powers of the original seven members of the Justice League of America. (And later, more, but let's just stick with the original members for now.) Post-Crisis, it's pretty hard to keep track of who exactly constitutes that group (that knowledge is the purview of 10th-level nerds), but I'm pretty sure it included Superman, Flash, Wonderwoman, Green Lantern and possibly the Martian Manhunter. Wow. And yet two humans in spandex whupped him with a hunk of plastique and some snazzy acrobatics. How can that be, I hear you clamor?

Well, the answer, to inappropriately quote William S. Burroughs, is so simple. Sheer, depraved fan-boy lust. Only a slavering Batbuddy fan-boy would think it was acceptable to set Batman and Nightwing against a foe of Amazo's caliber without some serious planning beforehand (which they had not --- they were surprised). Let alone to have them win. Yes, Batman is the Dark Knight, the Most Dangerous Man On Earth, looks stylish in a tuxedo, and for sheer battle stategy, could outflank Patton, Napoleon, Rommel and Alexander put together. But hand to hand, with no super-powered help from his buddies in the JLA, against Amazo? No chance. This is a creature of almost godlike power. To be fair, this Amazo was apparently an early model, with no magic lasso, power ring or bow and arrow. But even so, even with Superman and the Flash's powers --- hell, even with half of that power level --- Amazo wins. Having Batman beat Amazo is just wankery, and only weakens the image of Batman as the human at the peak of his ability. It's an error.

Much in the spirit of the [orignally] March 12th entry of this very blog, this entry will rectify that fanboy-inspired outcome. Here is how such a fight would really go:

Batman and Nightwing sight Amazo. At the same moment, Amazo sees them.

Batman: "It's Amazo!"

With Olympic-level athleticism and daring beyond most mortals' ken, Nightwing leaps up to higher ground, while with the speed born of endless hours of training honed by combat, Batman reaches for the bombs at his belt.

Before Nighwing's feet can touch the railings above or Bats' fingers can touch the bombs, Amazo rushes over in a blur of speed, grabs them both by the neck and squeezes, killing them instantly.

The end.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

No genitalia. No girl.

Next: All the way down Route Snikkety-Snikt, bub!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Black Goliath Vs. Goliath

[NB: As is obvious, this post was written in April '05]

It's April! This being the cruellest month, let's have a couple of fictional characters pummel the snot out of one another for cheap larfs.

In the blue corner is one Dr. Bill Foster, a.k.a. Black Goliath, probably occasionally a.k.a. one of the many Goliaths and Giant-Mans out there in comicdom, but let's face it, Black Goliath is the name that will stick, even it is slightly offensive, blatant and obvious, and even if it does kinda sound like a porn star's name. On the other hand, check out this neato customized action figure.

In the red corner is Goliath, a.k.a. nothin', 'cause that's his real and only name. He's big, he's bad, he's 3000 years old --- the Original original, the Biblical Goliath. Oh, sure, there are lots of Goliaths from comics and cartoons I could have featured in this match-up, but I went with the Fearsome Philistine because he's the baddest of all. Why, you ask? Simple. He's... uh... a warrior... Oh, all right, I only did this to satisfy a whim I had to find out how big Goliath is in modern terms, okay? Are you happy now?

So then, how big is Goliath? I'm glad you asked. Let's turn to the Bible. Everyone got your KJVs out? Good. Now, turn to Goliath's first appearance, in the Book of David, chapter 4, verse 1. Found it?

April fool! There is no Book of David, you ignorant Philistines! Anyhoo. In 1 Samuel we find that Goliath's height "was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him." Whew!

A quick bit of research reveals the helpful nuggets that a cubit was about 18 inches, and a span half that length, while a shekel was roughly equivalent to half an ounce in today's weight. Armed with this crucial info, all we need do now is calculate. Lessee... Carry the one... Divide by the sixteen ozzes that are in a lib... Reciprocate the renumerator... Gads, I'm glad I took all those helpful maths courses.

Basically, we find that Goliath Numero Uno was nine feet, nine inches tall, his coat weighed about 155 pounds, and his spearhead was about 20 pounds. All of which leads us to the important question of why he didn't carry his own damn shield, if he was so tough. Anyway, the good doctor can grow much bigger than nine feet. I'm not too sure on the specifics, as poor Black Goliath is a neglected character not only on the pages of comics themselves, but on the Web as well, but I'm fairly sure that he can grow at least twenty feet. Seems to me that even without a slingshot and a push from the hand of God, Dr. Foster could hand the relative titch Goliath a sound whuppin' in short order. Short order! Har! I made a pun!

The party's over, punks. The Champ's in town. Posted by Hello

Next: Holy androids, Batman!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Captain Carrot Vs. Hoppy the Marvel Bunny

[NB: this post originally written in March '05]

Happy Easter! May peace be your watchword this season.

In honor of the holiday, today's COC fight pits two super-powered rabbits against one another. The first is a rabbit named Hoppy, who, upon uttering the magic syllables "Shazam," becomes the Marvel Bunny (sometimes called the Captain Marvel Bunny). [Later, due to legal restrictions, he'd say "Alizam," get a blue costume, and be known as the Magic Bunny --- but legal, schmegal, he'll always be the Marvel Bunny to me.]

The leaping leporid that Hoppy must face in honorable combat is, in his daily life, a shy cartoonist by the name of Roger Rabbit. No, not the one from the movie, but a different, bespectacled DC character, who, when he eats a certain powered-up carrot, is transformed into --- what else? --- Captain Carrot, fearless leader of the Zoo Crew, one member of which team has already been featured here.

Well, now, these are both marvelous characters, in my opinion. That DC lets guys like this fall into comic book limbo is probably based on solid financial guesswork, but it's a shame nonetheless. I think little kids today would dig seeing funny animal superhero stories, but who knows? Maybe they're all too jaded these days with their Pokeymans and Digiridoos and sullen ol' Batman Beyond and whatnot. What's wrong with a little goofy fun, I ask you?

And speaking of goofy fun, let's get back to the fight. If either one of these rabbits were caught off guard --- Hoppy jumped before he could say "Shazalizam," or the good Captain snared before he could munch down his extraterrestrial root --- well, obviously it would be over before it began. So in the interests of fairness, both rabbits begin powered up.

Even so, it won't be much of a pitched battle, for now we discern one important power difference between the two anthropomorphized lagomorphs. While Captain Carrot has increased power, strength, and stamina (and perhaps extra-good eyesight?), Gnu York's most famous rabbit, alas, cannot fly. He can only hop for miles and miles like a tiny, long-eared Hulk. Leapin' lettuce! On the other hand, since Hoppy has all the powers of Billy Batson's alter ego, he can fly. Along with the other traits given to him by Shazam --- the speed, wisdom, power, etc. of, presumably, whatever Dread Elder Rabbit Gods exist on his plane --- this makes him quite the furry little powerhouse indeed.

Is Hoppy as strong as the human Captain Marvel, or is he only super-rabbitly strong? In the end, it won't make much difference. It's been established that Captain Carrot is weaker and slower than Superman (they've met), and lacks Supes' other powers like heat vision. Not only that, the Captain's no slouch in the strategery department, but he's probably used to having the Zoo Crew watch his back; he's a little soft on the mano-a-mano, or lepo-a-lepo, battles. So there's not much hope for ol' Roger, as Hoppy can fly circles around him, and pick and choose his attacks with swiftness and acuity. I'm not saying it'd be a carrot-cakewalk, but Hoppy would soon gain the upper paw.

The Champ, if only by a hare. Har! Posted by Hello

Next: Tall, dark and handsome

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Martian Manhunter Vs. Vision

For a change, today's COC fight is presented, in the grand old philosophical tradition, as a dialogue. Between Socrates and The Comic Book Guy.

S: What a admirable being is J'onn J'onzz, known by some as The Martian Manhunter! The last of his kind, he overcomes his grief at losing all he has ever known through acts of extreme nobility. Possessed of immense power, he chooses to help others, not only through force of arms, but through that most powerful of virtues, his boundless wisdom. Do you agree?

CBG: Pfft. No. Your speech only reveals your ignorance, my long-dead friend. In this contest, as in the Highlander, there can be only one victor. And that victor is one who is made by man, but who surpasses man's tawdry limitations. I speak not of the formidable Lieutenant Commander Data, but one even more stalwart than he: behold, the awe-inspiring Vision! Need I remind you that this android, in addition to possessing a supreme intellect, can fly, has super strength, can change his density, and emit destructive beams of radiation from that weird little dot between his eyes?

S: So you feel that a vast array of powers could decide this battle.

CBG: I do, Socrates.

S: Then perhaps we could renumerate some of the Martian's abilites. In addition to the flight, density changing, and super strength you speak of, J'onn J'onzz is a telepath, with all the accompanying psionic pwers; can turn invisible; has enhanced vision; can emit deadly energy beams from his eyes; and transform into any shape. These abilities I have just adumbrated do pertain to the Martian, do they not?

CBG: [Heavy sigh] They do, Socrates.

S: And this is a longer and wider list of powers than the Vision's, is it not?

CBG: It is, Socrates.

S: So we have proven, then, that on the scale you mentioned earlier, at least, the Martian wins.

CBG: [Mutters darkly]

S: What was that? I didn't quite catch it.

CBG: Nothing, nothing.

S: Now, another measure of a hero is how he he lives his life. I will not speak here of the Vision's pseudo-life as an android, for whatever one's definition of "life," it is certain that virtue, the good life, is what is to be chiefly valued. Man, machine, or Martian, actions count more than one's corporal makeup. True?

CBG: This is not quite what I had in mind when I agreed to have this little discuss---

S: I am glad we are once again in agreement. So, virtue is what we rate now. Let us start with J'onn. The Martian's friends regard him as one of the most trustworthy heroes on Earth. He has been a member of (as I believe) every single Justice League incarnation since its inception. Often, he is chosen as a leader, and a respected one at that. Even the paranoid Batman respects and trusts his green-skinned friend. All this does much to commend the Martian's skillful mind, not to speak of that highest of virtues, his wisdom, by the way. And again, in terms of raw power, he is unequalled; even such a godlike one as Superman has expressed doubts about beating J'onn in battle. Yet does the Martian use his powers in haste, or at the bidding of fickle emotion?

CBG: ...No?

S: No, he does not. The opposite, in fact, holds true. In contrast, your synthetic man has often fallen under the sway of what in man would be called emotion. In fact, he was originally a pawn of the maniacal robotic supervillain Ultron, correct?

CBG: Aha! I knew you would bring that up! He was, but he reformed, and saved---

S: He saved the Avengers, yes. But can one stray so far from one's true origin? Indeed, in the mid-eighties, the Vision used the other Avengers' absence during the Secret Wars as an opportunity to try to...?

CBG: [Weakly] ...Take over the whole world.

S: Yes. Now, our Martian has never done anything so base, has he?

CBG: No.

S: On the contrary, despite his power, he maintains a stoic distance from others weaker than he, interfering in their lives only to save them. Now tell me, Lipos, is it more honorable to openly live as what one claims to be, or to shamefully hide one's true nature in always reaching for new identities --- in the Vision's case, supervillain, human, husband, benign dictator, and oddly colorless android?

CBG: Well, that question is a bit circular, isn't it? Wait--- who do you mean, Lipos?

S: Oh, I just like to make up little Greek nicknames for my students, like Plato. In sum, Lipos, do you not feel now that J'onn J'onzz is altogether more powerful, more wise, more virtuous and more worthy of our admiration than the Vision?

CBG: If it will only make you stop talking, yes.

S: Then our session is over. Thank you for opening my mind to your point of view so that I may systematically break it down to the base untruth it was.

CBG: Worst. Dialogue. Ever.

The Champ. His girl perished in a fire. Sad. Posted by Hello

Next: Hoppy Easter

Friday, November 18, 2005

Doc Samson Vs. Samson

[NB: this silliness originally posted March '05]

Just in time to miss St. Patrick's Day (Erin Go Bragh!), we have a match-up with a green-haired feller. Course, this guy ain't Irish (evidence suggests he's Jewish). It's Dr. Leonard Samson, a.k.a. Doc Samson. What a goddam brilliant nom de superhero! A brawny man with a ponytail and often (when drawn by John Byrne) sporting one of the most ludicrous costumes this side of Kraven the Hunter, but still a guy not to be messed with. Today he faces a man who may be the first super-hero ever. A mere mortal with specific godlike power, an orgin, a common and specific weakness, and a femme fatale arch-nemesis, he was put onto parchment around 1000 BC. All he lacked was a secret identity. It's the Doc's namesake, that Israelite Bloodthirsty Brawler of the Bible, son of Manoah, the original Samson.

I'm probably the only person in the world to ever admit this, but I'm a Doc Samson fan. He's been written badly, and used poorly, but I think the idea is a great one: a man of words and intellect, trapped in a way in an imposing, super-powered body, that almost mandates that he resolve conflict with his fists, however reluctantly, rather than with reason. (I like the equally reluctant super-hero Black Goliath for the same reasons.) In the right hands, he makes a superb foil for the Hulk for all Banner's many fragmented psyches. He may use his power as a last resort, but he's got plenty of it and the smarts to use it well.

Samson, on the other hand --- and I know he was a vessel for God's power, and, truly, I'm not questioning my Lord here --- was about as smart as a dead catfish. Look at Judges 16. Delilah tries to weasel the secret of his strength out of Samson, and each time he lies, she betrays him. You'd think he'd have sussed her out by the fourth time she does this; she doesn't exactly have his best interest at heart, right? No, the lunkhead eventually tells her the truth. So he gets captured, blinded and mocked. Did he think she was kidding when the Philistines rushed in the other three times? Way to think with the little head, Samson.

So, based on that evidence, I'd say the Jade Giant --- well, the jade-haired big guy, anyway ---would find a way to hand Samson his ass in due course. 'Course, there's no accounting for where or when the Spirit of the Lord might show up, but I'd say that applies in everything else, as well. So all things being equal...

The Champ, and what an ass he looks, too, eh? Posted by Hello

Next: "Martian vision"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Northstar Vs. Wolverine

Hello, fellows.

Today we have two Canadian mutants slugging it out. One is a brash, impudent, arrogant, and might I add, if that weren't enough, a French-speaking and homosexual speedster, Jean-Paul Baubier, Northstar. The other is a short, hairy, macho-to-the-point-of-savage, English-speaking Canadian. You know him, even if you don't read comics. "I got claws, I can use 'em! Bub!" He looks great for a guy about a hundred years old, his real name ain't Logan, and he'll gut ya as soon as look at ya. Bub. Yes, it's that regenerating rodent... Wolverine!

(Actually, Wolverines are actually of the order Carnivora, not Rodentia. But dammit, the poet in me will sacrifice scienterrific accuracy for aurally aesthetic alliteration everytime.)

This is a timely COC fight. Why? Because in a recent [NB: this post was originally written in March '05] issue of one of the approximately 75 titles in the X-Men family, a writer called Mark Millar has Wolverine kill Northstar. This riles my hackles, or something. First off, I think Millar killed Northstar because he's a gay character, and thus he thought it would be edgy or controversial or something. I'm not going to wax political here --- that ain't my self-appointed job --- so I'll let this guy do it.

Second, it's not true to the characters' profiles. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to retell the fight as it should have happened, if comics fans and writers weren't such slavering fanboys with hard-ons for "bad" mofos like Wolverine. This fight will go according to the fictional perameters of the scene.

Picture it: first passing harmlessly through a phased Kitty Pryde, a crazed Wolverine leaps, claws extended, at Northstar, whose back is against a tree. Northstar is, of course, a speedster. Noticing a crazed, hairy, short mutant leaping at him with the relative agilty which you or I might note in a toddler advancing toward us, Jean-Paul takes to the air and lingers there, a few feet over Wolvie's head, as the tree is pierced to its poor arboreal heart by Wolvie's admantium claws.

At being so foiled, the Canucklehead explodes into an beserker rage no less impotent for all its fury, shredding the tree to scraps of bark and kindling while screaming up at Northstar something like "Damn faggot gonna ride the Claw Train all the way to Death City on Route Snikkety-Snikt!" With a few "bubs" and "that's what I do bests" thrown in, of course. [Apologies to Garth Ennis, whose Wolverine speech pattern I have appropriated and abused.]

Northstar takes off toward the nearest town and appropriates from various houses and sheds about half a dozen implements such as axes, tire irons, crowbars and the like.

He returns to find Wolverine in mid-leap, mid-swing and mid-epithet, trying to reach where Northstar was: "---ggot!"

Jean-Paul proceeds to ruin every implement he brought by beating Wolverine with them. Hitting the soft, fleshy parts (ear, throat, nose, eyes) at a hundred strikes a second, he soon has Wolveringe bloody, blind and baffled, if not broken and beaten. Easily avoiding the shorter mutant's wide haymakers (even a man as quick as Logan may as well be swimming in Jell-O compared to Northstar), he lifts Logan up, far up into the air, in the space of less than a second --- then drops him.

Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

Result? One Wolverine, if not mangled, then at least one in no shape to be doing anything he does best.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And remember, the Champ always gets the girl. Or guy. Or killed.

Next: An ass with a jawbone

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Punisher Vs. The Shadow

In this corner, we see bitter widower Frank Castle, the original scourge of the underworld, the guy who can pull off the skull T-shirt garb and not look like a huge dork, The Punisher. In the other corner, a more mysterious figure in a red scarf, floppy hat, and black cloak: playboy Lamont Cranston, a.k.a. Kent Allard, a.k.a. The Shadow. And remember, The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Now, both these fellows hate crime with a passion, and share a fondness for spreading fear and general mayhem among the criminal element with big loud guns. Normally, I'm sure they'd love to meet one another, and spend hours over a couple of beers (or possibly ginger ale, to keep sharp --- is Frank a straight-edge?) swapping war stories, shooting the breeze, and just generally talking shop. They'd share such tips as how best to hamstring a thug, or where exactly to knife a mobster for maximum bleed time. Yes, under normal circumstances they'd get along like a cathouse on fire.

However, this is a fight, not some ladies' social club, so less chat, more splat. Assuming neither party has the advantage of an ambush, each of these two would, at first, have a pretty even chance of taking the other out with a single bullet. And both are fair shots with a firearm.

Now, Frank's seen a lot of combat, but the Shadow has been fighting the good fight for going on five decades, as some writers have it. He may in fact be ageless. And the Shadow is not only a more experienced and nuanced strategist than Frank, he has been known to turn invisible (save only his shadow... spooky), and has the power to "cloud men's minds." He's got an extremely strong, mass hypnosis-inducing power, to be precise. It wouldn't be long before he was counseling poor, post-traumatic stress disorder-sufferin' Frank to eat his own gun --- and Frank would be happily complying.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

Next: You just opened up a whole snikt-pack of trouble!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Black Panther Vs. Wildcat

Today's fight pits T'Challa, the African Avenger, the deadly Black Panther, against the venerable Ted Grant, Justice League of America founding member, Wildcat. Yessir, Wildcat. (I figure two so-so links are as good as one well-executed one.)

Well now. When I first decided to feature today's match-up, I thought it would be a rock 'em, sock 'em battle between two fairly evenly matched, human-level warriors. The fact that they both have dark costumes and feline names only sweetened the deal!

However, upon doing a little light reading (Google, a few issues of T'Challa's title by Priest) I realized that it would be a rather one-sided affair. The Black Panther has a suit made out of vibranium, a fabric which, as I understand it, deadens sound, absorbs impacts from damaging blows, and breathes like cotton. Not only that, but it turns out that the Black Panther, clearly a dope-fiend from way back, gobbles some kind of herb to increase his strength and stamina! What a cheat! Oh yeah, and apparently he uses some kind of energy-knife now. An energy knife! He's the Tony Stark of Wakanda!

In contrast, Ted Grant is just an aged ex-heavyweight (who, by the way, at 170 pounds, would be considered a light heavyweight today, which is not one but two weight classes under heavyweight. Just saying is all, he's not that large a guy. Lennox Lewis, let alone the Klitschkos, would dwarf him). His costume? Made out of an unidentified but very mundane fabric. And it is, in fact, rather silly-looking. I mean, why did he include the little puff balls cats have under their noses? Even his name, when you think about it, is less than awe-inspiring. Here is a wild cat. Not too dangerous to human types. Which would you rather meet in the jungle --- one of them, or a black panther? I believe it was Mirror Master who once sneered, "Think I'm scared by ye? An old man dressed like a kitty?"

I rest my case.

In sum, Ted's decades of experience wouldn't help him much against a foe of T'Challa's caliber. The Black Panther beats Ted's ass down in double time. (Now, if they fought to the death, old T'Challa would get quite a shock when Wildcat poppped back up again after being killed and caught the Panther a hard one on the chin --- but T'Challa wouldn't go that far, so he'd get the win.)

The Champ.Posted by Hello

Next: Bang! BANG BANG BANG rattatatatatatat pow pow pow banggitybang bang bang

Monday, November 14, 2005

Colossus Vs. Pig-Iron

Bonjour! C'est tres beau aujourd'hui!

Welcome to another COC fight. This one is a heavy metal smackdown! And I ain't talking about loud, repetitive music, either, so step back, Manowar and Motorhead! I mean guys literally made of heavy metal!

In the red (dirty Commie!) corner, the large, oafish-looking fellow you see looming over there is Piotr, styled "Peter," Rasputin, the one and only, or possibly just the best-known of many, Colossus. In the blue corner, you see another metal-skinned giant, the most beloved super-powered pig in comics. No, not Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham. It's Peter Porkchops, that lovable lug(nut), the most massive member of the Zoo Crew, Pig-Iron!

These two beings of iron will and even harder skins would no doubt spend but brief time sizing one another up. They're both powerhouses, and each noting that the other was a moving metallic being, they would no doubt feel free to move quickly into the fisticuffs portion of the programme. Like hammer and tongs! Har!

Colossus no doubt has experience that Pig-Iron lacks (combat experience, that is; he also knows far better than Pig-Iron what it's like to die of AIDS the Legacy virus and then get better, but that's beside the point). However, in my estimation Pig-Iron is larger than Piotr. I make these two out to be fairly evenly matched, assuming no one has the drop on his opponent. They would fight until both were tired.

At this point, Pig-Iron tries to reach Colossus with reason. "We're kinda goin' nowhere fast with this pounding each other routine, Silverskin. What say we give this thing a rest for a sec?"

"Da, tovarisch," gasps Piotr, employing that foreign-word-studded style of speech so popular in Chris Claremont-penned comics, and so rare amongst actual foreign people speaking English, "Da. You are right, my purple droog. Why do we fight? Is it because I look strange to you, and you to me? Are all sentient beings doomed to mistrust that which is different? When will we learn to judge one another as individ---"

"Sucker!" shouts the porcine paladin palladium of Piggsburgh, and catches Colossus square on his steel nose with a perfect roundhouse, flattening the Roosky without giving him time for so much as a "Boszhe moi." Leaving Peter R. as the chump and Peter P. as the champ --- because pigs fight dirty!

The only picture I could find of The Champ. Posted by Hello

Next: Catfight! (No, not that kind, but I really ought to get around to having a female match-up.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Green Lantern Vs. Iron Man

Hola! Es muy bueno hoy!

Today's donnybrook features two powerhouses: bazillionaire industrialist Tony Stark, yclept "Invincible," Iron Man; and his opponent, the man in black and green, Kyle Rayner, wielder of the most powerful weapon in the universe, Green Lantern. Now, in this fight...

["Whoa! Whoa! Hold the phone," some people may be shrieking hysterically, fanboy spittle flying from their feverish lips. "Yeah, it's your blog and all, but Kyle Rayner? By Oa, where's the real Green Lantern?!!"

Oh, yeah, Alan Scott. Yeah, he's great. I'll probably feature him in the f---

"No, not him! HAL JORDAN!!"

Oh. Yeah. Him. Well, see, the thing about that is, see...

Fuck Hal Jordan. I don't give a shit about Hal Jordan. I wish he'd stayed dead. People, the guy's weakness was the color yellow! Yellow. It's Green Lantern! Quick, pelt him with twinkies and lemons! I mean come on. And his ring could be taken from him and used against him. What, the guardians of Oa couldn't be bothered to put some kind of Jordan imprint on the ring? Any Joe Schlub could pick it up and start creating green fantasies of his own? Not that Joe Schlub off the street would do a worse job with the ring than Hal Jordan. All he knew how to do was make big green hands, spheres and boxing gloves. The guy had a weapon that made his thoughts become reality, and what did he do? He made big green hands grab people. Great, Hal. Nice imagination there. Oh, and finally: what's this no fear crap? I don't admire people who are too stupid to know when they're in danger. Keep your head down, wait for the right moment, then make your move --- seems like pretty sound advice. But Hal's the kind of jerk who, finding himself in the trenches in WWI, would charge across no man's land at Verdun and be riddled by German machine guns before he'd have time to figure out why he was out there in the first place. "Too bad about Private Jordan, he was a stand-up guy." "Yeah, but too dumb to wear his helmet. Said he wasn't scared of taking a bullet." "Gee, that is kinda dumb, Sergeant Rayner."

Well.... anyway. So that's what I think about slavish Hal devotion.]

Where was I? Oh yeah, this was supposed to be a fight, right? Well, let's see... The most powerful weapon in the universe against a mustachioed alcoholic in a souped-up bodysuit.

I'd say Kyle will have peeled Tony out of that suit with a big green can-opener in about .75 seconds.

(Good thing it wasn't Hal fighting; he'd have been stymied by Iron Man's yellow armor and yellow repulsor beams.)

The Champ. Posted by Hello

Next: Heavy metal thunder

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Slam Bradley Vs. The Spirit

Today's COC fight features two non-super-human crime-fighting gents from 1937 and 1940, respectively --- Slam Bradley and Denny Colt, The Spirit.

("Huh?" You may well be saying to yourself. "The Spirit I know, but who's this Slam guy?" Good question, since he's relatively obscure, or at least was until the fine writer Ed Brubaker brought him back as an aged but still tough guy in Catwoman. You can read more about Slam, the man, the legend, the human sound effect, here and here, courtesy of the good folks at Scans Daily.)

So. Off they go, these two macho hunks of men, with nary a utility belt, Legion flight ring, or even a Kevlar vest between the two of them. Just muscle against muscle, bone on bone.

Whoops, this is starting to sound like slash.

Anyway. Who has the edge. Well, let's see. Snappy dresser? The Spirit is in spades; Slam, not so much. A clever strategist? The Spirit is; Slam's idea of a cunning plan is very much akin to Baldrick's in Blackadder. ("I shall pretend to be bellhop! A hulking, uncouth bellhop with a granite jaw!") A cool hand with the ladies, whether they be innocent ingenue or sultry femme fatale? The Spirit, more or less; Slam vehemently prefers to punch out a Chinaman than kiss a gal. Created by a genius? The Spirit was the brainchild of the late, truly great Will Eisner, the Picasso of comics; Slam was created by Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, who also gave the world an oddly-attired fellow name of Superman --- so yes, they've got some comics cred, but nobody beats out Eisner. Racist overtones? The Spirit's sidekick Ebony was construed as a stereotype, and maybe he was, but Eisner tried to rectify that; Slam liked to beat the snot out of Chinamen.

Some of the above may have relevance to a fistfight; some may not. But it's my blog, and I say the Spirit's got the stuff of a champion: determined, fearless, persistent and tough. Slam thought and talked with his fists. Denny Colt would wipe the floor with the palooka.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And remember, the champ always gets the girl. Or, as you can see from some of these pictures, she gets him. Oh well.

Next: In darkest night, in brightest armor...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Animal Man Vs. Beast Boy

I admit it: today's COC fight is not exactly the Battle of the Century; indeed, it's a rather one-sided affair. It's just that the names involved make it seem like a cool match-up on paper --- I mean, Animal Man Vs. Beast Boy. Come on! It was meant to be.

Ahem. So, here we have family man Buddy Baker, a.k.a. Animal Man (representin' the big bad Justice League! Well, a Justice League, of sorts, anyway). And over there, we have the guy whose name I thought was Garth until I looked it up, comics' other Logan, Gar Logan, the hero formerly known as Changeling, Beast Boy (representin' the Teen Titans, baby! Take that!).

So. Beast Boy can turn into any animal, except his color stays green for some goddam reason. (You'd think if he had enough molecular control to change his form and mass, he'd have enough to change his pigment, but apparently no. Actually, this brings up an interesting point: what if he turns into an octopus or chameleon? Can he change color then? Oh, all right, it's not interesting). While, on the other hand, Buddy can mimic the powers of any animal on earth, though his form does not (usually) change.

This will be a real shellacking. Buddy is not limited to the use of one animal power at a time, while Gar, by virtue of shapechanging, perforce is. Buddy can fly; he can wield the strength of whales or elephants or even dinosaurs; he can shoot out clouds of ink or poison or numbing sprays; he can regenerate lost limbs. He can strike with the speed of a swift, the power of a bull and the reflexes of a fly all at once. Hell, if he so desires, he can make multiple copies of himself, as he once did in his own title, and take Gar down the dirty way. So basically, Beast Boy's gonna be a little furry green splotch on the ground soon.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And remember, the champ's brutally murdered wife and children is always resurrected for him by a benign creator. Uh... well, something like that.

Next: Pow! Bang! SLAM!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Hulk Vs. The Thing

Today, one one side we have Dr. Bruce Banner's super alter-ego (or, more correctly, super alter-Id --- Har! a little Freudian humor there), the Jade Giant, the Strongest One There Is, You Wouldn't Wanna Make Him Angry 'Cause You Wouldn't Like Him When He's Angry, The Incredible Hulk. On the other side, everyone's favorite member of the Fantastic Four, the bashful Ben Grimm, the terror of Yancy Street, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing.

Today's battle is thought by many to be iconic, a veritable Battle of the Century, a comic fan's favorite. Just look at the recent miniseries. But it's not iconic. Actually, it's ironic. Do you know why? No, not because it's like a fly in your Chardonnay. It's because (a) in order to give a rat's ass about the "outcome" of this battle of fictional comic characters, you must be a comic reader; but (b) if you are a comic reader, you should know that fight would actually be no drawn-out, edge-of-your-seat battle royale, but a no-brainer.

(Hey! Who call Hulk a no-brainer?) Not you, Hulk; sit down, please.

Consider: the Hulk regenerates almost instantly. The Hulk's strength grows as he gets angrier. There is no known limit to the Hulk's strength; it seems to simply increase as he needs it. His leg muscles are so strong, the guy can leap three miles. For Pete's sake, he can knock a crowd of people on their collective asses just by clapping his hands! On the other hand, the Thing, while certainly no creampuff, is simply a very strong guy.

There is just no contest here. Even considering that sometimes the Hulk isn't exactly a Mensa candidate (Hey! Who call Hulk...), Ben's street smarts aren't going to save him from the strongest mortal in the Marvel Universe. Even savage, the Hulk has always demonstrated enough animal cunning to best foes much smarter than he. Face it: in a real battle with the Hulk as he's meant to be depicted, the Thing will soon be orange powder.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And remember, the Champ usually gets the girl, but when he has severe personality problems like the Hulk, he also drives 'em away.

Next: Goin' at it tooth and claw

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

John Constantine Vs. Dr. Strange

In this match-up, we see one ultra-cool, hard-drinking, back-stabbing John Constantine, known in some circles (of Hell! Har!) as "Hellblazer," up against the Mastic of Myster arts, one Dr. Stephen Strange.

Let battle commence!

DS: By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, none such as you shall---
JC: The hairy hoardes of what? And look --- not to be rude or anything, mate, but what have you got on?
DS: (Looks down at his attire: the cape with the upswept collar, the black leg tights, the flared gloves, etc.) What?
JC: Jesus, it's wanks like you that give this profession a bad name. You look like a frigging ringmaster for a particularly poncey sort of carnival, don't you?
DS: Well, not as such... I mean, it's a sort of presence thing---
JC: Hate to hand it to you, mate, but that oaf with the tongue out of KISS has presence. What you've got is... well, for starters, a cape with a collar shooting up eight inches over your head! I mean, what's the bleeding point of that?
DS: Well--- (Shakes himself as if from a trance) By the Moons of Munipoor! I will not be---
JC: (Sympathetically) I've a hunch you've looked even sillier than that at times, eh?
DS: (Nods dumbly)
JC: Well, never mind. Let's pop off round the corner for a quick one, shall we?
DS: Your... your will is strong, John Constantine, but I... (Adapts a martial arts pose) I can fight with my body as well!
JC: Oh bloody hell, look, if it's knocking heads you're after, there'll be plenty of yobboes down at the pub. Some of them could stand for a good arse-kicking. Now come on!
DS: All... all right.
JC: Just buy us a packet of silk cuts as well, will you? Er... you have got money stored somewhere in those ballet tights, haven't you?
DS: I am Doctor Stephen Strange! I can conjure unlimited amounts of money!
JC: This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, mate.
DS: Really?
JC: No.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And, in this case, the champ doesn't get the girl, really, because they're always leaving him or dying or getting dragged down to Hell as a result of John's awful behavior.

Next: Hard Knocks

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cyclops Vs. Polyphemus

In our third COC fight, we have the wiry mutant leader of the X-Men, Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, up against the original Cyclops, the one-eyed Greek giant named Polyphemus.

At first glance, Polyphemus seems to outmatch the relatively tiny X-Man. Appearing in Book Nine of The Odyssey (I heartily recommend Robert Fagles' translation for your reading pleasure), Polyphemus is indeed a giant. Homer does not give us specific measurements as to his height or strength level, but notes that Polyphemus can easily lift a a massive boulder that twenty-two four-wheeled wagons could not pull. He also picks up two brawny warriors and dashes them against a rock, killing them instantly. Clearly, Polyphemus is no physical slouch.

However, this brings us to the nub: he is lacking in the brains department. He fell for Odysseus' wordplay and allowed himself to be plied with wine; he's not much the strategist. In contrast, Scott Summers has been leading the X-Men since he was a very young man, and knows one or two things about bringing down a more physically formidable opponent. He'd just keep his distance and pound Polyphemus with his laser blasts until the one-eyed monster falls. (Sounds a bit rude, doesn't it?)

The best thing about this fight is, it means Polyphemus can relive the humiliation he suffered under Odyssesus, when the hero told the oafish giant that his name was Nobody and confusion ensued:

(Cyclops kicks Polyphemus' ass and leaves. The other Cylopes, hearing his groans of pain, come rushing over.)
Other Cyclopes: What is it, Polyphemus? Who hurt you?
Polyphemus: Cyclops!
OC: A Cyclops?
P: Cyclops!
OC: Was it one of us?
P: No!
OC: Well, if it was a Cyclops, and it wasn't one of us, then you must have done it to yourself. Serves you right, you insufferable bastard.
(They leave. Polyphemus groans in pain.)

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And remember, the champ always gets the girl... until she turns into some kind of cosmic fiery entity that's bent on destroying the universe or something.

Next: Strange ould world, innit?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Captain Marvel Vs., Uh... Captain Marvel

In this corner, Billy Batson's alter-ego, the original Captain Marvel, often (erroneously) referred to as "Shazam!" In the other corner, we have another Captain Marvel, often (correctly) referred to as Captain Mar-Vell.

Lessee here... they can both fly, and have superhuman strength. They also both have nifty red constumes with shiny yellow emblems on their chests, but I guess that's not too relevant. Marvel (the comic company, not either of the two characters) is more specific than DC in detailing its characters' powers; they say Mar-Vell can lift ten tons, with something called "nega-bands" that augment his strength. DC tells us that the original Captain Marvel has the strength of Hercules --- a more vague appraisal, you'll agree. However, I'd say that the Greek god of strength can lift more than ten tons. Also, Batson has the edge in skills, considering he has the wisdom of Solomon, power of Zeus and speed of Mercury.

With this wisdom, Billy boy would soon realize that Mar-Vell's wristbands were the source of some of his power and destroy them. After that, the now only slightly superhuman Mar-Vell would be very easy to send back to whatever loathesome Hell the Kree go to when they die.

End result? Marvel beats Mar-Vell.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

In this case, apparently, the champ doesn't get the girl, because he's really just some dorky kid.

Next: Keep your eye out for this fight!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Batman Vs. Captain America

Back before the Ex abandoned me and my life was cast into an interminable pit of self-loathing and despair, I was a light-hearted fellow. Under another pseudonym, I maintained a blog wherein I'd occasionally pit comic book characters against one another for comedic effect. It was called Contest of Champions (and the entries, COC fights).

In lieu of writing about the bathos of the Job, or the banality of State School, or my pathetic pining after a gorgeous girl who spends a lot of time with me but doesn't want to date me, I will reprint these old blog entries here. (This first one is kind of lame, but they get better.) Enjoy!


In the first ever COC fight, it's Batman against that bastion of American values, Captain Apple Pie --- I mean, Captain America.

Well, Cap's got the edge physically. Bats has honed himself to be the perfect, Olympic level athlete, but Cap has the super-soldier serum, which gives him that extra scintilla of power and endurance he'd need against a foe of Bats' caliber. I'm afraid Cap is also ahead in the experience department; in comic time, Cap has years of WWII experience fighting Nazis and Japs [that's what he called them then; don't blame me] hand to hand, plus his modern, post-thaw stints in the Marvel Universe. So I'd say that if this fight were to take place in an open field, or some kind of UFC-style octagon-shaped cage, Caps would get the upper hand. But, the fight would more likely take place in the streets, rooftops and alleys. And that, I'm afraid, is Bats' demesne. Bats has the edge in gadgets --- he has access to any number of acid capsules, smoke bombs, ropes, taser, etc etc in his utility belt, and, coupled with his superior street smarts, that makes Mr. Bruce Wayne the winner.

The Champ. Posted by Hello

And remember, the Champ always gets the girl.

Next: A marvelous match-up

Cute cute! Little baby!

The Friar and I went to the hospital to see 74 and Zaftig's baby. In all honesty, I have never seen a cuter newborn. This girl is one day old, and she's not red or wrinkly, but already has that baby cuteness most newborns don't. Zaftig looked in great spirits, and 74, Friar and I made a lot of very crude jokes about life, death and racial relations.

A bright moment in a day of bleak despair. The Maddening Angel plagues my thoughts.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Life goes on

My good high school friend 74 and his wife Zaftig had a baby girl today. All my friends are married and now they're having kids. (T-Bone's got two of his own already, but he's only tangentially adjecent to my circle.)

The Maddening Angel fucks and runs. The Ex has nothing to do with me and has clearly made the right choice for her; she's happy.

I feel alone and bitter and sad.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Vocabulaire: poisseux

poisseux - sticky, gummy
L'enfant porte une bavette quand il mange de la pastèque, mais son visage devient poisseux quand même.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Vocabulaire: une raclée

une raclée - a beating, thrashing, hiding
Pourquoi Dieu me donne-t-il toutes ces raclées ? Je suis un homme anéanti.