Friday, July 13, 2007


Today we come to the last part of this series. And it´s about time. Time really does fly when you´re having fun reliving your youth. But it´s really good to unwind from time to time and take a look back to get a little perspective ( my favorite scene in the JLA / JSA comic by Carlos Pacheco ).

Just take a break to remember past comic greatness. Because no matter what people say not all the best comics where made in the last ten years. There are some fantastic stories and universe spanning sagas that todays readers can´t even imagine. And not all of them are from the mind of Jack Kirby.

But first I want to put a little plug here for BRAD SUCKS. Sometimes I get so busy with all the comics and whatnot that I totally forget to feature people I want to help in getting a wider recognition. Right now I´m sitting at my computer, typing this post and I´m listening to brad sucks on my headphones.

It has taken some years for the music industry to accomodate to the wants and needs of their customers instead of criminalising them ( which they still heavily do ) so that now there are a lot of sources for legal downloads from the internet. And besides what people may tell you there is indeed free music available on the internet that doesn´t force you to resort to illegal downloads. With the global availibility of the internet it has become one of the most important advertisement platforms especially for little known musicians.

A lot of these musicians have put some of their music on the net for all to download, listen to and trade with your friends. But BRAD SUCKS has even gone one step further. He has put all his songs on the net. And you can not only download it you can also remix it. In fact people are encouraged to remix the songs and send them back to him. And he puts the best remixes on his website. So you can download the songs, remix them and if you want to buy a CD you can also do that on the website. I´m not talking about what kind of music he makes because with all the remixes the spectrum is just too big. So here are the links

  • the songs

  • the remixes

  • That was the plug for today and now let´s get to the main course : Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes who appeared in the SUPERBOY comics in Germany. Or like it was called here SUPERMAN PRESENTS : SUPERBOY.

    Maybe they wanted to make sure readers knew that all this was somehow connected to Superman. I guess that they thought as long as the name Superman was on the title it would sell. Because the other comics had the same logo on the cover no matter if it was SUPERMAN PRESENTS : GREEN LANTERN, SUPERMAN PRESENTS : WONDERGIRL ( how Wonder Woman was called in Germany and which they had to change to Wonder Woman again when the REAL Wondergirl started appearing in german DC comics ) or SUPERMAN PRESENTS : THE FLASH.

    Who was called DER ROTE BLITZ in Germany which means THE RED FLASH. I guess that they thought it was unfair that the other heroes had such cool names like Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary or Red Tornado. They feared that poor flash would be so depressed that he would need some serious therapy - and who wants to read that in a superhero comic ( that´s not Dr. Blik Superhero shrink ) ? So they gave him a longer name and called him the Red Flash.

    Now I think that the writers at DC had a reason why they called him just THE FLASH without any mention ot the color. For one while the dominating color of his costume was red there was also yellow. So they would have had to call him the Red and Yellow Flash - what would have been even longer. And a guy who´s as fast as the Flash needs a short name because he´s gone before you even finish saying it. Even the name Flash is too long because he´s gone if you blink. The best thing would be just one letter like F. Or two letters like they later on did with XS a.k.a Jenny Sparks.

    One thing I always liked about the Flash comics ( besides the many covers with word ballons on them ) where what I call " caption hands ". Now when drawing the comic you have to make sure that you tell the reader in which direction the reading flows. And sometimes captions can help with that through their placement. In the pages of the Flash comic they even went a little further and had little hands at the end of the captions that pointed to the action. Like it would show you where the action was. That was totally FUCK YEAH !

    A little less in the veins of " Fuck yeah ! " and more with the likes of " The pain ! " were some of the germans names for the Rogues. Like the german name for Heatwave : HITZEMANN. No, really. To american ears it might sound cool but for me this is the source of endless hours of entertainment. Right now I´m cracking up. It´s just too funny. Hitzemann. Bwahaha.

    But back to the Legion of Super Heroes. I always liked the team books much more than the books about individual heroes because you can shift the focus to the different members and always have different people on the team which provides a constantly changing team dynamic. You can have heroes who mesh perfectly or who are like oil and water. And who in the end have to overcome their individual differences and find where they agree to fulfill their mission. Everything for the team.

    Which was something the stories emphasized : not the individual hero was important but the team. That was always the most important part. Sometimes it was the hero with the most boring and unspectacular powers who saved the day ( and the universe ).

    Teamwork. Man, I loved the book. And still do. There is a current incarnation of the Legion out there that´s really good. The only thing I miss are the german names for the Legionnaires. And while Timber Wolf, Shrinking Violet or Light Lass are their real names they will always be Waldwolf, Winzwanda and Federleicht in my heart. They are just much cooler for me. Sometimes the names were confusing because I never found out why Lightining Lass was called Blitzjunge but Starboy kept his name in the german translation. And Karate Kid was called Karateboy. Which is the reason that it took me years to understand all those " Wax on, Wax off " jokes.

    While I have been writing these posts I have reread a few of the comics ( the ones I still have ) and they still kick ass. There are some strange things like the rule that Legionnaires who lost their powers or control of them had to leave the Legion. Which kind of makes sense since they always resembled a military unit ( be all you can be ) and the non - superpowered characters who accompanied them on missions or helped them out from time to time like Rond Vidar were never official members.

    So it´s no wonder Brainiac 5 put the hynpno - whammy ( no, that´s not the scientific term ) on Shrinking Violet when she was on the verge of losing her powers. Well, Brainy was never the poster child for good manners.

    Another thing that´s unintentionally funny from today´s point of view is the story when Phantomgirl becomes a murder witness and her brother who tries to protect her by piggy - riding Sunboy´s body gets trapped and Sunboy gets turned into a walking eclipse. To subdue him Elemental Lad turns his uniform to - asbestos !

    Now shouldn´t he know that stuff causes cancer being in the future and all ? Or is the life of his teammate more important that his own health ? Wow, that´s what I call taking on for the team. I just hope the little kids didn´t try to imitate that. I´m just waiting till some of the continuity buffs like Mark Waid have that pop up in current issues. They could change his name to CANCER GETTING LAD.

    But the Legion was not the only series that piqued my interest. There was another series that combined elements of science fiction and superheroes. But it also added the elements of hard boiled crime stories and cop movies : Green Lantern.

    Or like it was called in Germany : Grüne Leuchte. Which had a better ring to it than the original translation Grüne Laterne that Williams used when they edited the series. Maybe they thought it sounded to dorky. Or maybe they didn´t want their readers to make the wrong associations because in Germany the prostitutes always waited for their customers under lanterns - red lanterns for that matters. So the term " red lantern " became a part of the german slang and there was even a erotic pulp series called Rote Laterne. So maybe they just wanted to avoid a ton of bad jokes.

    I think I must have started to read the series on a regular basis after the HARDTRAVELLING HEROES run by Neal Adams because the regular artist on my first issues was Mike Grell.

    Who was also the artist on many issues of the Legion. Now I have written before that my fascination with the Legion was heavily influenced by Mike Grell who redesigned the costumes and such but that´s not true. No, sometimes our mind plays tricks on us and we see remember like we want them to be rather than how they really were. Like the comic readers who have convinced themselves that all comics written before 1981 were utterly awful I was totally convinced that it was Mike Grell who had put me on the path to the Legion.

    So you can imagine my surprise when I found out it wasn´t so. A few months ago I was at my emergency comic shop to get a present for my brother and going through the archive editions of the Legion. I was looking for some stories I remembered but when I finally found them I realized that they were not by Mike Grell but by Dave Cockrum. Like on Uncanny X - Men Dave was the genius who redesigned the costumes and gave the whole team a overhaul. And like in Uncanny his contribution had been overshadowed by the fanfavorite artist who followed him.

    And I should have known better since it´s widely known that Mr. Cockrum was a huge Legionfan. He even modeled the Imperial Guard of the Shiiar after them.

    Anyway, at that time you could only get Green Lantern as part of a package deal because he had also Green Arrow as a co - star.

    Well, to say the truth there was also Proty, Hal´s alien monchichi chia pet but I like to ignore that.

    Which then turned the series into the ultimate space cop buddie movie. You had the straight shooter ( no pun intended ) who always tried to obey the rules in Hal Jordan and the trouble maker and political activist in Oliver Queen. For me the decision to turn Ollie from a two - bit Batman ripp - off ( complete with his own arrowcave and arrowplane - well, that last one was brilliant.....aeroplane - arrowplane....get it ? ) to a unique character who always clashed with the rest of the League because he always wore his political heart on his sleeve was one of the best decisions DC ever made.

    Unlike the decision to get rid of the impurity against yellow. Which back in the days was in full effect.

    Humans are flawed. They have strenghts and weaknesses but they really grow as a person and as a human being when they learn to overcome their weaknesses and triumph nevertheless. That´s something that for me is also true for real good storytelling. So the fact that the ring was vulnerable to yellow made the stories better in my opinion. You really were sweating with your hero because you knew he could be harmed.

    When DC changed that with Kyle Rayner they destroyed the Green Lantern mythos. I know, a lantern as inept and useless like Rayner had enough troubles without the impurity. He probably would have gotten himself killed after three days if they hadn´t lifted the impurity. And he probably would have gotten his ring stolen after two days if they hadn´t invented the specification that the ring could only be used by someone who had the same DNA.

    No, I really don´t like Kyle Rayner. So let´s not talk more about him and return to the time when Green Lantern was good......and I was young ( since there were some good runs later on ).

    Joe Stanton was the artist at that time and Green Lantern was going up against guys like the Black Hand and Goldface who were serious villains. Especially Goldface. I mean he was covered in gold from head to toe. And gold is yellow.

    Yellow. The only thing the ring was powerless against. How could Hal possibly win ?

    At first Joe Stanton´s art style seemed a little weird to me but after a few issues it had already grown on me. Now my heart jumps for joy whenever he decides to grace the pages of an issue of Green Lantern. Like in the incomparable GUY GARDNER : REBORN ( THE best Guy Gardner mini series !!! ) or the Guy Gardner solo series that followed.

    Looking back at the covers I have to say that from all the superheroes Green Lantern had the ugliest aliens of them all. The mother of all ugly sumbitches. The mackdaddy of vomit. The pimp of puke. They really put the " Ugh ! " in " ugly ".

    Wow, now that´s a face not even a mother could love ! Maybe that´s the real reason why the Qwardians were so pi$$ed off at the Guardians. Not because they were exiled in their anti matter universe or something but just because they were so......ugly. And the Guardians were just little smurfs with big heads. Like on Jimmy Neutron.

    Hmm, maybe that´s the reason Jimmy´s so intelligent. He´s not really human much rather of Guardian offspring. That would explain a lot.

    But they were not the only ugly aliens. No sir.

    Not by a long shot.

    But Green Lantern was not all about yellow impurities and ugly aliens. There were some rather good looking aliens like Katma Tui or Arisia. There were some cool looking aliens like that crystal guy lantern or that lantern that looked like a tiger or lion. Of course there were some stupid lanterns like the squirrel lantern that got turned into roadkill by a truck.

    No, there were some cool aliens too. And the coolest of them all appeared also on the book for the first time.

    THE OMEGA MEN ! They were like Hal´s little Justice League. His own superteam in the series. They even had their own Superman like guy with a cape and everything. And they fought against the baddest of the bad. Or better the number two since there were guys who were even worse. I remember that the enemies of the Omega Men were some guys called the Citadellians who had kind of an evil empire that tried to rule the universe - what else. And they all had psychic powers because of their hyperevolved brains. They had really big heads. Bigger than the Guardians. We´re talking about Johnny Neutron big.

    Anyway, some of them met their demise at the hand of a group of aliens ( I forgot their name ) who ate brains. I vividly remember the panel where one of them was licking his lips after putting his hand on the head of one of the Citadellians while he was looking at him with gleeful eyes and saying : " My, what a big head you have. "

    I guess the Citadellians don´t watch that many zombie movies. " Brains, brains. "

    If there ever was a superhero team at DC deserving a relaunch it´s the Omega Men. They had a big part in Andy Diggle´s fantastic ADAM STRANGE miniseries Planet Heist but they should get their own series. Oh, wait ! I forgot. They got their own series. Yup, I just was blocking it out because the art gave me a heart attack. No, really. Okay, DC, what I wanted to say is the Omega need their own book....that doesn´t suck. Is it that hard to get a good artist on the book ? I mean.....what´s Joe Stanton doing at the moment ? Maybe he has some free time now and could do a monthly book. He CAN do a monthly book. That would totally rock. I would buy that book.

    Of course you had to have Guy Gardner guest starring from time to time but that goes without saying. And why is it that Guy doesn´t have his own book ? He should have his own book together with Power Girl drawn by some babe artist. I mean you just have to put the two of them on a bench waiting for the bus and you have enough material for a four issue miniseries. Comedy gold. Instant comedy gold I tell you.

    And that ends our little trip to the wonderful world of the german comics of my youth. I hope it´s been at least of a little interest or has brought back some memories ( like it sure did for me )but at least it boosted the regularity of this blog. I mean for four days this blog was daily ! That´s a record. But don´t think that´s going to become the norm here. This weekend I have to finish ( or was it swedish ? - sorry, little inside joke ) the stuff for the tax declaration....which I should have done last week. So next time on this blog - which should be no sooner than Monday - we will return to our normal shinenegans. Maybe even to the comic salon in Barcelona.

    Today´s clips are from BRAD SUCKS only in case you are still undecided. So here are some clips to help you make up your mind. The first one is " Making me nervous ".

    The second one has the title " Dirtbag " and as a tip : check out the " Fear is the Key " remix. From all the remixes this is by far my favorite.

    And the last one is called " Overreacting ". So if you like what you hear check out the website. You can find the links on the top of this post.

    New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

    In finstrer Nacht, am hellsten Tag, entgeht mir keine böse Tat. Wer Unrecht tut der hüte sich - vor Grüner Leuchtes Licht !

    No comments: