Nothing Says Terror Like Mascara

A column article by: Ray Tate

Welcome to Tate Necessarily So. This week I'll be focusing on the current issue of Justice League and catching up with Superboy and I Vampire. I also have another critique of that wretched '70s Christian series The Adventures of the Brothers. Elsewhere on this site, keep an eye out for my contribution to the Batman Beyond Unlimited slugfest


The Pick of the Brown Bag


I Vampire #5 and #6

Joshua Hale Fialkov; Andrea Sorrentino, Marcello Maiolo {c}


Rueful vampire, Andrew Bennett and Batman met before in a memorable issue of Brave and Bold during the pre-Crisis era.

Brave and Bold #195

This new meeting between Bat and Bennett had much to live up to. Did it reach the plateau? Simply put, no. However, my problems weren't so much with meeting itself but in regards to the vampire mythology abandoned.

Bat Meets Bennett

Comparing and contrasting comics from two different eras is always dicey. This comparison is no different. I'm rather fond of the gaunt, old-timey Andrew Bennet; he with the Regency fashion statement and long, white streaked black hair coiffed in a ponytail. And you know what, despite that description fitting a fop, Bennett was freaking creepy and damn dangerous.

Badass Bloodsucker

The updating of his look in the New 52 is a little too Twilight for me. At least he doesn't sparkle.

J.C. Crew Bennett

In Kolchak the Nightstalker, Janos Skorzeny wore a suit and tie to prey in then modern Las Vegas, but he was a ground breaker. He tried to stay hidden from the authorities and possessed none of the traditional and more outlandish metamorphic powers of the vampire.


Bennett is trying to be a hero, and he should have a presence. Even Nick Knight, Angel and Spike have signature looks. Certainly, Vampirella.

I Vampire furthermore suffers from the idea that more is better. It's just not all that interesting or believable that Batman and Bennett fight an army of vampires. Vampires never aggregated like that. Most of the vampires through literature and cinema are loners, turning just a few individuals to serve as brides or a pack. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer saved legions of primitive vampires for its final season and only after the numbers were evened out by "every girl who might be Slayer" becoming a Slayer. 

These postmodern vampire armies are too much like zombies. Vampires traditionally are cunning monsters that prey by stealth or seduction. One vampire is capable of wrecking an astounding level of damage, laying waste to scores of people, but an army of vampires isn't like an army of zombies. Zombies are unthinking, shambling things -- at least they were. An army of vampires, without an army of Slayers, is certain destruction. I'm sorry, as much as I love Batman, he would be overwhelmed. This is a job for the entire Justice League teaming up with Bennett, as a vampire consultant.

The new I Vampire isn't a total wash however. Falkov does reinforce some of the vampire lore -- the shape-shifting, the undoing of a victim's curse -- although he extends the time limit from twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Ultimately though, the characterization and the interaction between Bennett and Batman of the New 52 Universe are the most winning elements in the two issues.



Justice League #6

Geoff Johns; Jim Lee, Various {i,c}


I expected nothing more from Justice League than the heroes spectacularly whipping Darkseid's ass this issue. I received more. First though, the spectacular ass-whipping.


Darkdseid fires deadly Omega Beams. Kill the beams. How does the League accomplish such a feat? Brutally. It's not that the League have totally abandoned their no kill policy, but overall, the heroes of the New 52 Universe are less delicate with the opposition. It's about time. The League treat Darkseid as their bitch, and that's perfectly fine by me. He counts as a monster. Monsters that prey on the innocent have no rights in this cosmos. They are killable.

Stealth Fighter

While the League proceed to whip Darkseid's stony ass, Batman skulks into the inner chambers of Apokolips to rescue Superman. Here's where Justice League exceeds my humble expectations. Events happen fast. The maxi-series storyarc, a nicety to describe pages of padding with a few panels of story, appears to be quite dead. Good riddance.

In Justice League we get a plot to exploit Superman by the bad guys, the rescue, the protection of innocent humans, a novel rationale for Darkseid's attack in addition to the massive ass-whipping everybody wanted to see. 

The ass-whipping spreads across plenty of splash pages as well as wider panels to highlight Jim Lee's larger-than-life artwork.


Believe me. I'm not a big fan of Lee's style. I tried to avoid it in the '90s, but he's the type of artist you want when the world's at risk and only the League can save the earth. You want the League to soar off the pages, and Lee accomplishes just that.

This issue of Justice League also includes a back up short which combines fan favorite of any universe the Phantom Stranger, and new to the 52, but hardly a new character, Pandora. 

Pandora confirms what we already new, this universe is stronger than the mish-mash that was, but more intriguing, the Phantom Stranger knows what happened. That makes sense since celestial types tend to be attuned to reality warping events even if they're part of the reality reshaped. The Spectre is also mentioned. So, we know that he exists in the New 52.

Johns indicates that the Stranger hides a secret that Pandora knows. I'm guessing it's slightly more damaging than his being the Wandering Jew, which would honestly only upset Fox News. Given Darkseid's statement I'd be surprised if Pandora didn't turn out to be the mcguffin he seeks. Carlos D'Anda and Gabe Eltaeb contribute the illustration, and it's one beautiful duel between Stranger and strange girl.



Superboy #6

Scott Lobdell & Tom DeFalco; R.B. Silva, Rob Lean {i}, Richard and Tanya Horrie {c}


I picked up last week's Superboy since Superman's editorial mentioned Supergirl's guest-appearance. I only cared about the clone kid way back in his early days when he wore the leather jacket and based himself in Hawaii; his title and Young Justice were bright spots in a dour chaos. The whole Kon-El thing was more of a shoulder shrug. Superboy's premiere in the New 52 was very talky, and I didn't like the idea of his being a superweapon. The sixth issue offers an improvement.

Writers Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco thankfully decrease the word count, and they make Superboy more likable. He begins to question his takedown of the Titans and imagines an ulterior motive behind his mission, leading to an impressive display of power.


While contemplating his recent actions, Superboy encounters Supergirl, who became curious when she heard about his wearing the S.

Kara, Kid, Kid, Kara

As you can see R.B. Silva and Rob Lean enhance the story with some slick artwork that the Horries beautify in gorges shades of blue and red.

The plotting of Supergirl's and Superboy's first meeting starts quiet, with Kara and the Kid trying to communicate with each other; Kara only speaks Kryptonese.

When Kara makes physical contact with Superboy, a telepathic link forms. The Kid learns of Krypton's demise as seen horrendously from Supergirl's perspective, and Kara discovers Superboy is a clone. This sets her off. Rather than base the fight on a misunderstanding, the writers use knowledge and history as the trigger.

The clone wars of Krypton, which John Byrne introduced in World of Krypton, resurfaces in the New 52, and again, continuity arrives at an odd destination. You would think that such a reveal would occur in a Superman title or Supergirl, but actually, I'm kind of glad that it doesn't. 

The inclusion of Kryptonian history indicates that DC is 100% behind all their books. They really wanted for example Mr. Terrific to succeed. It apparently did not live up to their expectations. So, any book in the DCU just might divulge vital clues to the whereabouts of characters or the history of this new universe because all of these titles are on equal footing as far as The Powers That Be are concerned.

With the revelation, we discover a new application of Kon-El, the Kryptonian name Superman gave to Superboy in the previous universe, it's an insult designating Superboy as a clone. Supergirl predicts Superboy's future based on her understanding of the Clone Wars of Krypton, and it's not pretty. That still doesn't stop her from protecting him. 

The Girl Can't Help It




Adventure! With the Brothers

Last time in Adventure! With the Brothers….

Get Bent

So, Pete and Tom are off to save the fool Christians that joined this cult on the other island. How can two Brothers accomplish a Batmanesque feat? First things first. Let's whip out something from our asses.

One man subs are so common nowadays, and in the '70s, no, wait a minute…They weren't common at all. Somehow though, the Brothers got their hands on an expensive, typically exploratory vehicle and learned out to operate it.

At least in the Gamera film, the explanation as to how the little kids managed to acquire a sub made sense. The Japanese kid's dad was an oceanographer. He designed the bloody thing. The Brothers' father is a surgeon turned missionary. I guess that they could have bought the sub, but that just seems like an un-Christian like thing to do.

Pete and Tom plan to pull the old hide-a-brother. One will join the cult to destroy it from within. The other hides in the sub, ready in case the other brother needs help. As plans go, if you accept they have a one man sub, it's not a bad strategy. Of course, if your opponents are at a piss-poor level…

Nothing Says Terror Like Mascara, an Ascot and an Absolutely Darling Little Hat

The plan goes well. Pete gets himself locked away, and Tom frees him so they can conduct their mischief. They first discover a cache of gold bouillon.

Where did that come from anyway?

He Loves Goooooooooold

Next week, the dubious answer and more inanity with Al Hartley's Adventure! With the Brothers.



Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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