Tag Archives: Comics

A Super Hero driving a Tow Truck?


‘Adventures of the American Towman,’ in which a heroic driver rescues people in peril, comes from a media empire that churns out towing magazines, ballads, even a TV show; ‘Got a Bump, Call Lump’

A frame from an 'Adventures of the American Towman' comic.
A frame from an ‘Adventures of the American Towman’ comic. PHOTO: AMERICAN TOWMAN MEDIA

In a recent episode of the comic strip “Adventures of the American Towman,” an angry mob gathers outside the house of “Pops” Armada and his son, A.T., accusing them of hauling cars illegally. Someone throws a rock, hitting Pops in the head.

Meanwhile, several blocks away, a mysterious mustachioed tower hauls away the car of a distraught mother of a sick child, leaving behind an Armada Towing business card.

Bill Tomlinson, a retired Wisconsin tower, is eager to find out who is framing Pops and his son. “I call it the Agatha Christie of tow-truck mysteries,” says the 76-year-old Mr. Tomlinson, who has read all 143 episodes of the comic strip, which appears in the monthly magazine American Towman.

The comic strip was conceived by Steve Calitri, president of American Towman Media, a small media conglomerate devoted to people who own and operate tow trucks. Along with the magazine, which has a monthly circulation of 38,000 to 40,000, there is an online newspaper, a weekly towman TV news program, three trade shows and two CDs with ballads about towers, including “The Road Calls,” penned by Mr. Calitri….


DC Comics changes up Superman a bit….

image…DC Comics…

The man of steel gets a bit human in Superman  #41……

It’s a time for reinvention for DC Comics, which kickstarted a new comic book universe earlier this month. That means new takes on beloved superheroes, new series and an overall new creative direction.

It also means big changes for the grandaddy of all superheroes, Superman.

Don’t fret too much, purists. The Man of Steel still sports his trademark blue, red and yellow uniform, with slight alterations, and he still has mild-mannered Clark Kent reporter as his alter ego. But he now has a new superpower — the ability to generate solar flares, an outgrowth of his heat vision — that also saps him of power and renders him human for a short while. This, in turn, creates opportunities to enjoy things he never really could before, such as getting drunk — he really can’t hold his liquor too well — and scarfing down junk food. There are drawbacks, though.

To explore these ideas, which were developed by DC creative chief Geoff Johns, the company has enlisted acclaimed graphic-novel writer Gene Luen Yang, a two-time National Book Award nominee. Yang’s run on the title starts with Superman No. 41, which goes on sale June 24.

“He’s not Batman. He’s not somebody who’s used to operating without super powers,” said Yang,  who added that “14-year-old me would pee in his pants” if he found out that he would eventually write for Superman. “To go from one of the most powerful beings on Earth to someone who’s a little bit more humanized is going to make him vulnerable….


The 10 best superhero comics of 2013 from Salon…..


The 10 best superhero comics of 2013
“Batman Incorporated” (Credit: DC Comics/Salon)

Superheroes keep muscling their way into more TV and movies. “Arrow” and “Agents of SHIELD” will soon be joined by “The Flash” and “Gotham,” plus Netflix shows for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Not a day goes by without breathless news from the set of “Superman vs. Batman,” like the casting of Wonder Woman or the state of Ben Affleck’s growl. If you saw “Thor: The Dark World,” you may have seen previews for “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which are both based on classic comic book stories of the same names.

Comic books?

Yes, once upon a time, in the days of yore, before international corporate synergy, superheroes were mainly creatures of comic books. Believe it or not, superhero comics continue to be made. Sure, many of these comics are retreads of the past or BIG IMPORTANT CROSSOVER EVENTS with 50 tie-ins: the comic book equivalent of a Ponzi scheme. However, there are also plenty of spandex-centric comics that are fresh, moving, original and fun. In fact, after too much of what fans call “grimdark” — pseudo-serious downer stories that mimic one crayon in Frank Miller’s box — fun seems to be making a comeback in the funny pages. For a good time, please read all of the following.


The adventures of Hawkeye on his days off from the Avengers have been like a beautiful love child of traditional superhero comics and independent comics like Chris Ware’s. Writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja also produced what is probably the best single issue of the year: Hawkeye #11, the Pizza Dog issue, which is told entirely through the point of view of Hawkeye’s dog. That comic — analyzed by Rachel Edidin here — should be read by every lover of dogs or art. It’s a total validation of comics as art form…..


Women In Comics: A Look at DC’s New 52

by TheSolipsisticMeFollow @Daily Kos….

September is over, and all 52 titles of the DC relaunch have been released. Given the furor surrounding the lack of women writers and the lack of visible female characters before the comics were available, how do things actually stack up? The answer is: not very differently than in the old DC universe. After reading 32 of the new titles (including all the titles with female leads) and reading multiple reviews of the remaining 20, the simple truth is that the balance of women in DC’s titles is pretty close to what it was.

While holding the status quo is better than a reduction, DC has really missed an opportunity. One stated purpose behind the New 52 was to make the comics more accessible and appealing to new readers. Given the fact that, despite stereotypes, there are plenty of women and girls who read comics, this was a perfect time to broaden the appeal of DC’s offerings. Instead, they opted to hold steady and, in some ways, reinforce the stereotype of mainstream comics as a boy’s world. Let’s take a look.

First, by the numbers:

  • 29 titles are solo male characters or male duos and groups
  • 11 titles are groups with mixed membership, most of which are predominantly male
  • 7 titles are female leads (including the team book Birds of Prey)
  • 5 are something else altogether, usually supernatural titles

A few of the ostensibly male-dominated comics have pleasant surprises in the supporting cast. Animal Man may feature Buddy Baker as its lead, but his wife, Ellen, is an important character in the story and is actually more thoroughly developed than many of the women who are leads in their own titles. Superboy also features a strong co-lead in the unfortunately unnamed woman who is the scientist overseeing the lab where he is being supervised (he’s a recently grown clone). Mr. Terrific, a mediocre relaunch of one of my favorite DC characters, also features Karen (Power Girl) Starr in a strong supporting turn.

In the team books, it’s a very mixed bag.

  • Justice League and Stormwatch are very male-dominated. The first issue of JL doesn’t even include the one female character (Wonder Woman). The Stormwatch cast is (so far) mostly men and the visible female characters are poorly developed. Green Lantern and the New Guardians has a slightly better ratio at this point, but the final makeup of the team is unclear; the writing is also distressingly macho, with a number of “scream like a girl” lines.
  • Justice League International, Teen Titans, Hawk & Dove, and Justice League Dark are much better balanced. The Wonder Girl in TT is a complex, promising character and Dove is a much more interesting counterpoint to Hawk than the previous version (although she has grown mysteriously more buxom). JLD features a number of strong women, including the very powerful villain and one of my favorites, Zatanna.
  • My longstanding favorite, the Legion of Super-Heroes, has two titles, the latest Legion of Super-Heroes title and Legion Lost. Of the 42 (really!) pre-relaunch Legionnaires,  13 were women. Eleven of the 27 members in the two books so far are women, including an impressive four out of five new members.
  • Suicide Squad and Red Hood & the Outlaws are moderately balanced, but feature some truly bad plot and character decisions that I’ll look at shortly.

And how are those seven books that feature women characters as leads?

  • Batgirl and Batwoman, both reviewed on TSM earlier, are outstanding. They are complex stories, well told, with strong characters.
  • Birds of Prey continues in its original vein, with strong female leads and promising plot points. Even without the wonderful Gail Simone writing the book, it is one of the more interesting books of the relaunch.
  • Supergirl and Wonder Woman are very interesting new interpretations of very longstanding characters. Supergirl is scripted as a very convincing teenager cast into a confusing situation. Wonder Woman’s world is creepy and mysterious, featuring the Greek deities who populated her previous incarnations; it’s also one of the most strikingly drawn books in the relaunch.
  • Voodoo, a character with whom I was unfamiliar, is an interesting mess. The lead character turns out to be a violent alien (who may not even be female?) and the plot is a bit sluggish. Interestingly, although the bulk of the story takes place in a strip club, the female supporting cast is well written and reasonable free of stereotypes and pointless titillation.
  • Last, but by no means least, there’s Catwoman. In many regards, this title is much like the two Bat-ladies. Selina Kyle is a complex, interesting, powerful woman. The overall story is interesting and well-paced. Unfortunately, the last several pages have become quickly infamous. Batman appears in Catwoman’s room and the two engage in a pointlessly drawn-out sex scene. While the clarification of the love-hate relationship between the two as a physical relationship is fine, the presentation is frankly bizarre. The best overall analysis of this gratuitous plot point is brilliantly provided by Savage Critic.

Catwoman’s soft-core porn (with costumes remaining on) is one of the major disappointments in the treatment of women in the New 52. Another is the treatment of the two female leads in Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn’s jester costume is replaced with a pointless bustier-dominated costume and the character is reduced from intriguing obsessive to stereotypical psychopath. Far more disturbing is the redesign of Amanda Waller. Originally a short, heavyset, African-American woman, Waller has long been a fan favorite for her strength of character, her guile, and her indomitable will. The fact that she did not have a typical super-hero hourglass figure made her an outstanding exception in DC’s cast. Sadly, the new Amanda Waller looks like a busty Halle Berry. What kind of message does that send?

An unfortunate trend in the new books is a superfluity of nude and lingerie scenes. At least six titles feature women in various states of undress. While there are reasonable circumstances (arising from sleep, changing clothes, being strippers) in each case, it is interesting to note that the male characters do not experience the same level of on-panel undress. (Two notable exceptions are Hawkman, who is discretely nude for several panels and Superboy, who spends much of his debut issue floating in a tank wearing a pair of bike shorts.)

Even when not in various states of undress, the female characters also tend to have much skimpier costumes than their male counterparts. In a world where all four of the Robin characters are allowed to wear long pants, it’s curious that the shorts and tank tops are so predominantly female. (Void-Star.net postulated a revised Superboy costume some time ago which underscores this point nicely.) There is nothing wrong with presenting the human body in a comic book (and it can be handled tastefully like the costume changing scene in Batwoman), but the imbalance smacks of objectification at best.SuperboyCostume

That leads us to the very worst moment for female characters in the relaunch. Frankly, it’s one of the worst-written characterizations I have ever seen in a comic. Starfire, a long-standing member of the Teen Titans, has always been a sensual woman comfortable with her body and sexuality. As originally written, however, she was independent, strong-willed, and though a bit naïve (she is from another planet, after all), intelligent and engaging. The new Starfire is nothing more than an animated toy for the male characters. Unable to distinguish between Earthlings and devoid of long-term memory, she pursues sex partners wantonly and without any apparent pleasure. A buxom, energetic, no strings attached sexpot, she is the worst stereotype of a straight teenage boy’s dream character. Readers (even those not long-term fans of the character) are justifiably outraged at this misogyny. Let’s hope the editorial team can find a way to write themselves out of this mess quickly.

The whole relaunch is a mix of the traditional, the unexpected, the sad misstep, and the pleasant surprise. The male-dominated books that I read featured some blunders not unlike those described in this post. The tragic difference is that a handful of badly-written male characters get lost in the very masculine mix. The exploitation and shallow characterization of a significant percentage of the limited female characters, on the other hand, sends a bad message to all readers, both male and female. Let’s hope that as the New DC progresses, the writers will take a lesson from Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, and Supergirl and find ways to present strong, varied, interesting female characters. After all, art is supposed to imitate life, isn’t it?



Superman Renounces His American Citizenship…The Oligarch Kings…

From Comics Alliance

Its official – DC comics have sold out.  Not simply the entire run of Action Comics 900 which is set to reprint due to exceptional demand but if you believe the pundits in America’s media and politics, the entire nation.

What on earth has caused such a furore?

Well it seems that the latest line in the long running comic book saga has Superman renounce his American Citizenship.  And this has fairly hit the fan in America.  The New York Times no less has felt moved to comment, and was followed in no particular order by an unseemly scramble from Huffington Post, The Drudge Report, Boing Boing, and thence out into the mainstream through Fox TV and “The O’Reilly Factor” .  Even Mike Huckabee, never a man to wear his underpants over his trousers, had a say –  though strangely I can never remember anything he says.

American’s take their comics seriously.  Very seriously, and they make their characters national models of virtue or evil.  They are marketed not just for kids, or spotty lonely adolescents with no friends and an onanism habit, but as main stream entertainment for adults.  A huge film industry has pumped out entire franchises of Spidermen, X-Men and Fantastical Fours.

In America there are any number of these comics, all competing in a huge industry.  This is not the land of “The Beano” or “The Dandy”.
A simply visit to the web site Comics Alliance will show the sheer variety of subject matter and skill of the artists.

But Superman – the Man of Steel- (does anyone else see Stalinist overtones here?) saying he is no longer willing to be seen as a
spokesman for the American Way has fairly got establishment knickers in a twist……


X-Men Comic Book Takes On Terry Richardson……..

This is from Jezebel

The guy sounds like a real lowlife…

If he is …..

He deserves to get punched out…..

In the story……..

X-Men Comic Book Takes On Terry Richardson

We can’t be the only ones who think the pervy artist “Barry Richardman” in Uncanny X-Men #528 bears a striking resemblance to a certain Uncle Terry

The San Francisco Art Museum is on fire. The culprits? Nekra Sinclair-Nekra (“Rage transformed into super-strength. Very very angry right now”) and “super-strong, super-tough, super-mad” Joanna Cargill-Frenzy.

“Girls, girls, girls,” says Northstar, an avenging hero, patronizingly, “It may be bad art, but that doesn’t mean you get to blow up the museum and set it on fire.” Adds his female coworker, “I thought you two were smarter than this.”

But Nekra and Joanna are mad as hell. “Barry Richardman’s so-called art is cheap, exploitative porn,” says one, and “what he does to models is borderline assault and unquestionably cruel,” adds Joanna……..


Terry Richardson and President Obama….