Re: iPad comics?

Ignoring the iPad specifically for a moment, there are circumstances when a tablet is actually more appropriate than a laptop/notebook.

A few years ago, a friend of mine had a job inspecting buildings to see whether they complied with building codes. She carried around a tablet, not a notebook, because when you’re wandering around a building, it’s easy to check something off with a stylus or touchscreen while you carry the device, but a pain to have to stop, look for a place to set down a notebook, open it up, and then find the right spot with the touchpad or keyboard.

More recently, I read an article by someone who spent a business trip sick in bed, and found that it was a lot easier to use his new iPad in bed than to cross the room and sit at the desk to use his laptop.

Yeah, the iPad has problems (foremost, IMO, the fact that Apple has veto power over what you can and can’t install on it — which is part of why I own an Android phone and not an iPhone), but let’s not get caught up in the “I don’t have a use for it, therefore nobody does” mentality.

Cosplayer Coincidence

Wayne Lippa wrote:

So, I was looking at a few of your other pictures, Kelson, and just out of curiosity, what was the story behind the photo of you and Misty Lee?

Early last year I followed Mark Evanier’s blog for a while, and in one of his posts he recommended a magic show in the Los Angeles area. It was a one-weekend show with one act of Misty Lee and one act of Sylvester the Jester. I got tickets and went. I think it was around March, or maybe May.

So during the 2006 Comic-Con, I was walking around and saw someone who, at first glance, seemed to be wearing a very good Zatanna-style costume. I asked her if she’d pose for a picture (which unfortunately turned out to be out-of-focus, so I didn’t post it). As I lowered the camera, I recognized her as Misty Lee.

I told her I’d been to her show in Burbank, she said something about “I hope it wasn’t ___ night, that one was terrible!” I couldn’t remember which day of the weekend I had gone, and she offered to pose with me for another photo. She also offered me tickets the next time she did a show in the area. She seemed very happy to be recognized as Misty Lee, magician, rather than as random attractive woman in hot costume. I handed my camera to the man she was walking with, and glanced at his name badge: he was her husband, Paul Dini.

So I got my picture taken with Misty Lee, by Paul Dini! (It’s too bad I look terrible in that photo — I’m 5-10 pounds heavier than I am now, only half-smiling, and starting to blink.)

Crisis and Retconning

There’s an easy way to keep things simple: Either build on earlier stories without changing them (or change only the obscure stuff), or start over.

Retcons are like epicycles, the sort of secondary orbits that astronomers invented to explain discrepancies in planets’ motions when they thought the planets all had circular orbits and revolved around the Earth. The epicycles got more and more complicated until enough people noticed that you could get rid of most of them if you assumed the planets revolved around the Sun. Then they realized that you could get rid of the rest if you assumed the orbits were elliptical instead of circular.

If you *totally* reboot a series, like Wonder Woman after COIE or Legion of Super-Heroes after Zero Hour and again last year, things are simple. It’s just like launching the Justice League cartoon — it’s a totally separate continuity from the previous version, so contradictions aren’t a problem.

When you revise *parts* of history, things get complicated. Wonder Woman herself might have had a simple reboot, but the Justice League and Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) were still around, and their histories had to be revised. Donna has gone through *how* many origins since then? Origin-wise, she’s hardly recognizable. They actually did a better job with Power Girl by saying “Forget all the retcons, she really is the cousin of Earth-2’s Superman”

Sorry about the rant…

Re: Starship Troopers

On its own merits, Starship Troopers was a passable, somewhat cheesy action/war movie. Nothing fantastic, but not a complete waste of two hours either.

As an adaptation, though, it was terrible. It was as if someone read the back cover, wrote a script, then skimmed through the book to add in salient details in hopes that people who had read it would be happier. (Hey, it says here that the main character comes from Buenos Aires. Let’s add that in!)

A movie *can* be both a good film and a good adaptation. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a good example. It didn’t stick to the books 100%, but most of what it changed made sense, given the difference between the written word and the moving image. And because it stayed true to the books where it counted most, people who have read them tend to like the movies as much as people who haven’t.

An interesting side note about Starship Troopers: I was actually an extra in the opening scene with the hybrid football/basketball game. They needed spectators, and it was filming nearby (California State University at Long Beach, usually referred to as Cal State Long Beach). It was actually
extremely boring — I assume it’s typical that you spend more time setting up a shot than actually filming it. I spent two days waiting for them to set things up, then cheering or booing for 30 seconds while the cameras rolled, then waiting again. In the end I got: (1) a cast/crew T-Shirt (2) lots of reading time (3) conversations with some interesting people and (4) a girl’s phone number. So it wasn’t a *total* waste of time!

Bart/Impulse/Kid Flash

Paul Ewert wrote:

What does the list think of Bart assuming the “mantle” of Kid Flash over in the TEEN TITANS book?

I’m actually kind of disappointed by it, although it makes sense under the circumstances – especially given that (a) Wally’s disappeared, and (b) Bart’s probably spent the entire issue trying to remember Wally’s name and face.

As Impulse, Bart had his own identity. Yes, he was yet-another-speedster – but he wasn’t a sidekick, he wasn’t the second or third Kid Flash – he was Impulse.

What’s bugging me is that they’ve taken someone who, despite his youth and naivete, really was his own hero, with an original name and costume, and turned him into a sidekick – and a sidekick with a hand-me-down name and costume.

BTW, has anyone else noticed that Geoff Johns now has control of *all* DC’s speedsters:
Jay – JSA
Wally – Flash
Bart – Teen Titans
Jesse – JSA
Max – possessed by the Rival, Jay’s enemy, and as such a JSA villain.

Mike Koehler wrote:

Didn’t bart remember Linda when everyone else forgot her, what keeps him from doing this here?

That’s why I said “probably” – at this moment, we don’t really know who *does* remember. In fact, I’d expect Bart and Iris remember at least Barry’s career, if not Wally’s.

I’m assuming the JLA, JSA, classic Titans, etc. are all affected, or someone would have showed up at Wally’s front door in the past 2 months and said “Hey, Keystone is falling apart – put that costume on and *do* something about it!”

If Bart’s forgotten, then the switch to Kid Flash makes even more sense, especially if the Flash has been out of action for two months.

On the other hand, it’s not clear how much time has passed since the “I’m not sure if I believe in him” scene (which IIRC took place after Wally defeated Zoom, but before Hal and Barry showed up). This whole storyline appears to take place over the course of a single weekend, which would place it 2 months *before* Ignition begins. In that case, it’s only been a couple of days, and might even take place before the mass-amnesia hit.


Trying to explain the Chain Lightning finale in terms of Hypertime

here goes:

First, an explanation in line with the basic many-worlds approach to time: When Wally changed the past, he could only go forward again in the timeline he had just created. This makes perfect sense when Wally’s the one making the changes, but it doesn’t explain why Cobalt Blue killing Barry changed history around Wally. (Similar problems apply to stories like Bart Saves the Universe.)

So, a Hypertime-based explanation: The Kingdom #2 described Hypertime as branching off of a “central timeline” or “main timeline,” i.e. the mainstream DCU. Given that DC has a long, well, history of stories in which time travelers change history, perhaps what’s going on is a realignment of which timeline is the “main” timeline.

It’s not totally consistent, but then neither is any other explanation. Personally, I think the DCU is too big and too complicated to ever hope for 100% consistency. With 60 years of stories (some of which have been officially removed from canon), hundreds or thousands of writers, artists, and editors, it’s sometimes amazing it’s as consistent as it is.

Re: The latest Titans comic

I’ve almost dropped the current series three times, twice holding on because I’d heard a new writer was starting soon. Now the only reason I’m still getting it is that there may only be 4 issues left.

I hope I don’t sound too curmudgeonly over this, but I don’t think the team ever recovered from “Titans Hunt” – the Wolfman/Grummett one, not the Dan Jurgens one. A decade ago.

There was just enough good stuff in there (early Team Titans, for instance) to keep me going through the Dark Raven saga, the kick-the-crap-out-of-Cyborg saga, and the let’s-break-up-Nightwing-and-Starfire-because-we-want-to saga.
I didn’t even bother with the Dan Jurgens series, though I did pick up the 4-parter with (most of) the originals.

JLA/Titans showed promise, and I really liked the Arsenal mini, but once the series actually started, it was just kind of bland. It looked like it was going to pick up for a while when Jay Faerber started working with Devin Grayson, and they turned out some good stuff, but then once he started writing on his own, it turned to crap. The only good thing to come out of his time working the book solo was resolving the Donna Troy mess, and she’s been practically ignored since. (I’d include making Cyborg human again, but that was co-plotted with Grayson.) And then the stupid DEO kids, Epsilon, and that damn Jesse Quick story.

I was ready to drop it, when I heard Tom Peyer was going to take over. So I thought, he’s done some good stuff, and if Faerber shares some of the blame with his editor, Peyer has more clout and should be able to put up more of a fight against crappy ideas.

But the last few issues have just been boring. Last week, I was seriously thinking of just not picking it up when I went to the comic store. Even though it was in the middle of a story, I just didn’t care anymore.

I realize that I’m comparing it to a “golden age” than can never come back – the (surviving) characters have all changed too much since then – but is it too much to ask that the main story be more interesting than the one-page
Starfire guest spot?

Right now I’m only picking up the next few issues because they’re supposedly the *last* few issues – and I’m not sure I should even do that.

So no, I won’t “lay da smack down” on anyone for dissing Titans. Not when I’ve thought the same (and possibly worse) myself.

Re: Smallville vs. The Flash

I think it would be quite possible to keep the sense of history, and yet keep it simple enough that people can just tune in and understand what’s going on. Now, the example I’m going to give may have the advantage of working with a more well-known character than the Flash, but bear with me:

The Mask of Zorro.

In this movie, Antonio Banderas’ character becomes the new Zorro, taking over for Anthony Hopkins. By the end of the movie, Catherine Zeta-Jones is getting into the mask-and-sword act. Sure, people knew who Zorro was going into the film: a swordsman who wears a mask and fights injustice and oppression. The important details (his family and estates being taken from him, the vendetta against the man who took them, etc.) were (I believe) specific to this film, and were able to fit into a normal-length movie and still leave room for a plot.

So I can see a 2-hour pilot that sets up Barry Allen having been the Flash for however many years, and during the course of the story his nephew Wally West (in his late teens or early 20s), one of the few people to know his secret identity, is struck by lightning and gains similar powers. Barry starts training him, and by the end of the pilot he sacrifices his life to save the world (or at least some huge number of people) and Wally decides to carry on his mentor’s legacy.

If they wanted to, they could tie it into the previous series. It’s been about 10 years, they could get John Wesley Shipp to reprise his role as Barry for an episode, and state that Iris came back sometime after the end of the series. Or if they wanted to link Barry and Tina (there was some speculation), her original name could also have been West.

So it’s at least possible. Whether someone will be willing to try it remains to be seen.

Re: Issues of Continuity

Crisis wasn’t focused to much on fixing inconsistencies as it was on reducing complexity by reducing the myriad dimensions of the multiverse to a single universe. I suspect they planned to fix problems at the same time, but they’re still cleaning up the inconsistencies *created* by the Crisis.

Let’s look at the Titans (since I’ve been reading them since 1984). Since Wonder Woman hadn’t appeared yet in the post-Crisis universe, Wonder Girl couldn’t be her adopted sister, so she needed a new origin. A few months before the Crisis, they had finally revealed the origin of an early Titans character, Lilith, in a story involving the mythical Greek Titans. The new origin they came up with for Wonder Girl *contradicted* the origin they had just written for Lilith! Not only that, but the Lilith origin had introduced a group of villains called the Children of the Sun, so *they* needed a new origin too! And this is just one writer (Marv Wolfman co-wrote Crisis and wrote Titans from about 1980-1994).

Probably the most infamous contradictions were the result of erasing Superboy despite his key position in Legion of Superheroes history. They were trying to fix that one for years with one patch after another until they started over with Zero Hour.

Now Zero Hour, despite being (in my opinion) the far inferior story of the two, was definitely intended to clean up inconsistencies. It didn’t (at least, not much). Except for the Legion, I don’t think much of anything *really* changed as a result of Zero Hour.

I guess that’s part of why Waid and Morrison came up with the overlapping part of Hypertime: to acknowledge that inconsistencies exist.

And I hate to say this, because I really like the way Geoff Johns has been handling the Flash, but glaring inconsistencies keep popping up (Goldface shouldn’t be that old, and since he’s a cop killer he shouldn’t be out yet and the cops should hate his guts, Iris couldn’t have been around when Julie was pregnant unless she was time travelling more than we know, Chillblaine wasn’t “found” dead, Polaris flat-out killed him, etc. – although that last bit I need to check up on to see if I remember it correctly).

Anyway, there’s an interesting story on how long it took for the changes made in the Crisis to really stick in the introduction to “Legend of the Green Flame,” Neil Gaiman’s Superman/Green Lantern story which didn’t get printed for a decade. Apparently there was major disagreement among the editors as to just what had changed or was going to change. As whoever was writing the intro put it: (and I’m paraphrasing here) “on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Green Lantern knew Superman was Clark Kent. Neil’s story was written on a Wednesday, but turned in on a Thursday.” Since it hinged on there being a friendship between Supes and GL, they axed the story.

Re: JSA news/spoiler for Starman #72

To be blunt, as long as the Golden Age is tied to World War II, most of the original JSA members are guaranteed to die within the next couple of decades. In twenty years, it’ll be hard to accept a 100-year-old running around fighting crime. The only ways to keep them around are to make them immortal or to change continuity and given them a 60-year timeline the way the Silver Age has been given a 12-year timeline.

And we all know how popular *that* would be!

Re: Hawk and Dove

Captain Arsala of the Washington, DC Special Crimes Unit. Went after Dove, Dawn was trying to work out the whole secret identity thing and get him to date her as Dawn instead, eventually he figured out they were the same person. He and Dawn were camping when Monarch found them, blasted Sal into oblivion, and grabbed Dove.

Funny thing about Armageddon 2001 #2 is that you can see that they got halfway through the story before they decided to change Monarch’s identity. It’s supposed to look like a major red herring, but it’s way too choppy, plus if you take into account things like the following Justice League Europe issue in which Catherine Cobert has a nightmare about an evil Captain Atom, it strongly implies that CA was originally supposed to be Monarch.

Linda’s Race

Hector Guerra asks when Linda changed from being white with green eyes to Asian

Better question: Why did she ever have green eyes?

Linda’s been asian since her first appearance back in #28, when William Messner-Loebs was writing the series, identified as Korean within a few issues (either right after that appearance or during the Celestial Enlightenment storyline, either way before issue #40).

Somewhere during the time Wieringo was doing the art, the colorists seem to have forgotten that asians tend to have brown eyes, and they went green for a while (maybe spillover from constantly correcting Wally’s eye color?), though they do fairly consistently color Linda’s skin a shade darker than Wally’s. Looking back at Terminal Velocity, I can see a definite change when Salvador Larocca started (though at the time, since I knew she was asian, I just interpreted any differences as variations in style, like comparing Wieringo’s Wally to Jackson Guice’s or George Perez’ Wally – although it’s not really fair to compare anyone to George Perez (except perhaps for Phil Jimenez)).

As far as the shape of her face goes, I’d chalk it up to varying art styles, but once you throw in the eye color, it makes me wonder if some bonehead editor wanted to downplay the interracial aspect of their relationship.

Re: Flash Paradox

Actually, it’s not a paradox *yet,* just a loop. Confusing, but internally consistent. The main thing about a paradox is that it *isn’t* consistent – the old thing about going back in time to kill your grandfather, so you’d never be born to go back in time and kill him, so he’d still be alive, and so would you, and you’d go back in time…

Now a *real* paradox would be if, for some reason, John Fox *hadn’t* saved Iris… then Wally never would have gone to Central City and met the Flash, and you have either the Flash line ending with Barry or being picked up by someone else… who might have found a different solution to Mota (50th Anniversary Special) that wouldn’t have left him slowly turning into Radioactive Man over 700 years to reappear in John Fox’s time and lead to his gaining super-speed.

Hmmm… if that happened, then he wouldn’t even have the *chance* to help rescue Iris, and that future would remain intact. So I guess it technically wouldn’t be a paradox either. Aargh!

No wonder Wally gets a headache whenever he deals with time travel!

Re: Flash#164 jay garrick

In my opinion, to be considered a “Hypertime story,” it would have to make use of some facet of Hypertime that cannot already be explained by traditional understanding of time travel. Even if what’s really going when you change the past is the splitting off of a new hypertimeline, you can still interpret it as an alteration of a single timeline. After all, under most circumstances the time traveler has no way of breaking out of the timeline he creates – as far as he can tell, there *is* only one timeline.

One of my favorite quotes about scientific paradigms is “You can’t build a bridge with Relativity.” Gravity is a relativistic effect (or a quantum effect), but if you try to use relativity or quantum mechanical equations to design a bridge, you’ll never accomplish anything. You build a bridge with Newtonian physics, even though the underlying causes of the stresses that you’re trying to distribute are relativistic or quantum in origin. You can argue that a bridge is not a quantum object, because it doesn’t matter whether the electrons in its molecules are in clouds, orbitals, or tiny cardboard boxes.

So if a story confines itself to the main DCU timeline and could be told without knowledge or existence of Hypertime (just as we’ve been building bridges for centuries without knowledge of relativity, quantum physics, or whatever the next paradigm is that will come along), I think it can safely be considered “not a Hypertime story” in the same way that a bridge doesn’t involve relativity.

It’s possible to interpret any time travel story within the realm of Hypertime – I went to a great deal of trouble to figure out how Chronos, Team Titans, Armageddon 2001, Zero Hour, Bart Saves the Universe, Crisis and other stories could fit within Hypertime – but I would argue that none of these stories were Hypertime stories, because they could all be told within a traditional time-travel or multiverse framework. (I even had someone complain of this when I originally posted the Hypertime article on my site, which was why it was quickly retitled “Time and Hypertime.”).

If “Wonderland” turns out to use classical time travel without
branching, crossing, or mingling timelines, then it doesn’t use anything that is uniquely Hypertime. If it does, we can call the writer on it. Otherwise, it’s like calling “The Fugitive” a story about DNA. Yes, both pursuer and pursued have it, but it’s irrelevant to the actual story, which could just as easily be told about humanoid silicon-based lifeforms or sentient robots with only a few changes in dialog and none to the plot or setting.

That’s the whole point. As an engineer, you don’t need to know all the hardcore physics details. When you build a bridge, it’s an engineering process, and all you need to deal with are things like gravity, wind, strength and elasticity of the material, etc. All that other stuff, even though it’s going on at subatomic level, is irrelevant to the bridge. In the same way, I see the underlying structure of Hypertime as being irrelevant to a plain time travel story, unless it involves something that can only be explained with Hypertime.

Re: The Flash #163: or about how can REALLY anyone beat The Flash

I like the idea of Wally’s attention span – even at super-speed (I think someone once said he isn’t actually impatient, it’s just that things happen more slowly for us than they do for him) – as a limiting factor. As Ex-Speed McGee (or was it Mason?) once said, super-speed doesn’t help if you don’t see it coming.

Re: Hypertime again or not?

The way I look at the overlapping aspect is to think of hypertime as a network of rivers. They all flow in the same direction, but sometimes they diverge and reconnect (such as when there’s an island in the middle of the river). A particular timeline is the path each water molecule takes as it goes from one part of the river to another. Many of these paths will cross each other and overlap, and the molecules themselves will knock into each other, influencing the paths they take.

It’s the idea of the “timestream” taken a step further.

Why I don’t want to see Savitar again…

I noticed a lot of you seem to want Savitar to come back. I don’t. Not because he wasn’t a great villain, but because he *was* – and because bringing him back from the dead would cheapen that death and the sacrifice Wally almost made. Likewise, bringing back Barry or Zoom permanently would cheapen Barry’s sacrifice and the tragedy of Zoom’s death (and all the grief Barry went through during his trial). I don’t know how many of you read The Titans currently, but I remember an issue where Starfire is showing Damage and Argent around their HQ and shows them the gallery of fallen Titans – Jericho, Kole, Golden Eagle, etc. “They all came back, right?” one of them (prob. Argent) asks. “I mean they *were* Titans…” And Starfire says, “You *do* know that when people die, they usually don’t come back, right?”

When someone comes back within one story, it makes sense. Terminal Velocity was like that. As someone said on another board, you start with the warning that “no one has ever gone into the Cave of Death and come back alive!” and you know instantly the story has to be about the one person who does come back. It ends up being like Orpheus’ descent into the underworld and his return. Or to pick a more modern example, Sheridan’s death on Z’ha’dum in Babylon 5. But Orpheus only went to the Underworld once, and Sheridan never returned to Z’ha’dum. Wally’s been “lost in the speed force” 3 times so far, and he’s come back every time. He even dove into it to rescue Linda during the Black Flash story. The threat’s gone. I didn’t even take it seriously this last time, at the end of Chain Lightning.

To go back to the Titans for a bit, they were formed to battle Trigon the Terrible, the demonic conqueror of another dimension who had set his sights on ours and who was Raven’s father. They barely defeated him once, and then in the second storyline he was “destroyed forever” by the spirits of the Azarathians. Great story, great conclusion, and we move on. 80 issues later, they do the Dark Raven storyline, and by the end of the series, Trigon is back just long enough to be “destroyed forever” AGAIN. How many times can you destroy someone forever? It makes the original victory hollow.

Resurrection only works for a limited pool of characters (Resurrection Man, Ras al Ghul, maybe a few others), and even then it has to have serious consequences (such as the death of Morpheus the Sandman and his replacement with Daniel – another facet of Dream, but a different persona from the one we’d come to know.)

Re: Why do you like THE FLASH?

The first comic I really collected was the New Teen Titans, and the first storyline I read was the second Trigon story (at the beginning of the deluxe series). So I’d read about Wally as Kid Flash (he had a prominent role in that story) there and in Crisis, so I thought I’d pick up the Flash. What I liked the most, especially early on, is that you have here an ordinary guy who’s a super-hero. He’s not billionaire Bruce Wayne, he’s not from another planet, he’s this regular guy who has powers, but has to deal with everyday problems like his parents, his girlfriend(s), his rent, etc. After that it was watching him slowly come out of Barry’s shadow, and in the last few years the core of the book has been his relationship with Linda – again, not a storybook one, but a real one, where they disagree, they argue, and they have to deal with how they differ just as much as with how they’re similar. The other key this series has is its focus on the Flash legacy. There are very few series where the hero’s predecessors are as important as Jay, Barry, and even Max and Johnny are with Flash – there’s the two present holders (Wally and Jesse) and the future in Bart and, to some degree, in Iris West II (whether she’s part of the “main” timeline or not)

That said, I do miss a lot of the older supporting characters. Mason, Tina and Jerry, even Chunk and Argus.

Re: Impulse Cancellation

I’m not sure if it applies here as well, but in campaigns to keep TV shows on the air they always have some recommendations:

  • letters on paper are always given more weight than email. 100 emails could come from one person with a mail bot, but chances are that 100 letters were sent by 100 different people (since you’d have to spend $33 on stamps – and never mind international postage)
  • If you can write legibly, it’s better to write it by hand in blue pen. That way they know for sure it’s not a photocopied form letter.
  • Keep it short and to the point. Maybe two paragraphs, and start out by telling them that you like Impulse and don’t want to see it cancelled. You can go on to say why you like the series, but don’t go on for pages extolling its philosophical implications. They probably won’t read anything that long.
  • Don’t send it to the Impulse lettercol – if it was their decision, the series wouldn’t be in danger. You want to send your “please don’t cancel the series” to the higher-ups at DC. The lettercol is the place for your philosophical treatise.

Anyone want to organize a letter-writing campaign? I don’t have the time to run it myself, but if someone else wants to run it, I’d be happy to put up a link to the info if you want to put it on your own site, or you can send me a page and I’ll put it on my own server. I get enough hits on my site that it’ll be a good gateway to get people to notice it.