Al Hartley Was a Racist

A column article by: Ray Tate

Welcome to Tate Necessarily So. This week, I look at Avengers Academy, Batwing, Detective Comics, Fear Itself: The Fearless, Honey West, Justice League International and Men of War. I'll also identify the worst crime of Adventure! with the Brothers


Pick of the Brown Bag


Avengers Academy #28

Christos Gage, Karl Moline{p}, Jim Fern{i}, Chris Sotomayor{c}


A quite enjoyable cease fire between the Runaways and the Avengers Academy. Christos Gage finds a peaceful means to bring the kids together and break through the misunderstandings that start so many depressing, tedious superhero bitch slaps.

The Kids Are All Right

The solution to address both team's concerns exemplifies the intelligence that Hank Pym supposedly possesses, and Gage reminds readers what catalyzed Greer Grant Nelson's decision to become the costumed vigilante known as the Cat, later Tigra. The memory softens Tigra's by-the-book police-edge, which directed the actions of Academy, and allows her to accept Hank's beyond the law answer to the problem of guardianship for the Runaways youngest. 

The moment of telepathy/empathy furthermore recalls the sisterhood shared by women during their fight for equal rights in the sixties and early seventies, the era in which the Cat prowled. This period has been on my mind of late since the Conservative Party--for they can no longer be called mere Republicans--work hand in hand with the Catholic Church to now overtly tear asunder the social evolution of women.

In other areas of the story, Julie Powers arranges a date, and we discover Reptil's origin, which is surprisingly enriched in Marvel history. The source of Reptil's power is so interesting that a story could have been built around it rather than the similarities and differences between Avengers Academy and the Runaways.


Oh, and by the way. Tigra's eyes are green, baby. They're green.


Batwing #8

Judd Winnick, Dustin Nguyen{p}, Derek Fridolfs{i}, Brian Reber{c}


The conclusion to the Massacre story arc satisfies with the thrilling culmination of the Batman Family's interference. Nightwing, Robin and Batman aid Batwing in stopping a former hero's high tech armor as seen through Dustin Nguyen aplomb, but more importantly, writer Judd Winnick pays off reader patience with the revelation of Massacre's true identity and that of his puppet-master. Winnick deserves credit for obfuscating the clues enough so that hardened mystery buffs such as myself dismissed certain possibilities. 

Winnick furthermore must be credited by making the mystery fairplay. He presented all the clues and allowed the reader to come to his own conclusions. He pulled no cheats. I have no doubt that this was always his intended outcome, and as a result he produced an engrossing successful puzzle for eight issues starring a brand new hero. That's quite a feat.

Batwing himself is a welcome addition to the Batman Family. His history, based on the tragedies that beset Africa, his courage, his origin and his deductive intellect make him a hero well worth watching. On an aesthetic level, the design of his costume is quite striking and bears the shadow of the bat in an appealing way. Batwing is definitely a must-subscribe book.




Detective Comics #8

Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea{i}, Tomeu Morey{c}


Batman's new lease on life in the New 52 Universe continues with this energetic done-in-one story pitting the Dark Knight against a new criminal attempting to steal the Scarecrow's thunder. Batman follows the trail that leads from Catwoman to the Big Bad. The new dynamism of the Caped Crusader however distinguishes him from a typical gumshoe.


In addition to that scene, Batman bodily plows through a wall to get at a dog-fighting participant and lead. He smacks around Scarecrow clad goons and the so-called Master of Fear himself. Batman furthermore threatens to kill his enemies, something he hasn't done for years. However, he's merciful to his drugged friends even when the clock ticks. In short, a picture of this issue of Detective Comics can be used in the dictionary next to its definition.


Even with the inclusion of a useless backup feature that looks like it was put together on black construction paper and drawn with a piece of chalk.


Honey West #5

Elaine Lee, Ronn Sutton, Ken Wolak{c}


I wish I could say that Honey West's latest caper follows through with a satisfying end for the question of who killed 1950s shlock movie queen Zu-Zu Varga. Unfortunately, I can't. The truth is that the distance between the issues casts the mystery in a fog. I simply cannot remember the details defining the suspects or the vital clues that might have been exposed. That said, it's still a good Honey West story. 

Writer Elaine Lee fuses the television Honey portrayed by Anne Francis with the hard-boiled spicy Honey from the G.G. Fickling novels. Artists Ronn Sutton and Ken Wolak continue to produce appropriate risqué artwork for the bombshell blonde, and their visual narrative though not as sharp as previous issues still adequately relates a detective story, complete with close-ups on red herrings or possible culprits to the crime.

Their treatment of Honey as a zaftig curvy woman that can break the average woman and several men in half is quite welcome, and the film strip flashback is well-executed and poetic given the subject matter.

The Pin and the Platinum Blonde

As I read the issue, I decided to give Honey West a rating of three, but Lee comes up with such a clever means for Honey to suss out the murderer that I decided it eked out a four. This is a low four that could have been higher in range if the issues had simply come out quicker. However, I can understand the lag of time, and I'm glad that the publishers gave the original artists enough leeway to finish their story. I'm assuming the art took longer, not the tale itself. To replace the artists would have been detrimental, and I still recommend Moonstone's Honey West. If collected, this story will probably read more fluidly and demonstrate the attributes of a strong fairplay mystery.



Justice League International #8

Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti{p}, Matt Ryan{i}, Hi-Fi{c}



The worst team book in the history of comics. Even more insipid and irritating than Justice League Detroit.

It doesn't surprise me that the old Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! League is funnier. It shocks me that incarnation of the League was also more effective in fighting the forces of evil.

Booster Gold gets his butt handed to him by an essentially trumped up version of Dr. Light, but that's only after writer Dan Jurgens drops a pair of plot lines describing exactly how the Hall of Justice and the U.N. officers were blown up.

Was it razed by human terrorists as it was suggested two issues ago with "munitions stolen from a Blackhawk facility?" Was it blown up by alien light beings as suggested last issue? Was it blown up by Dr. Heavier-Light and his merry band of Jurgens created reprobates as implied this issue? You decide.

Usually the addition of a new hero swells the ranks and changes the outcomes, but Jurgens makes Batwing as useful as a fruit fly against a charging rhino. It's insulting, and Jurgens' lack of respect doesn't apply to his own creations. Watch as Jurgens revels in his villains, which gruesomely murder with impunity. One such execution indicates Jurgens is yet another writer who has seen Drive, a tremendous film that's too good to be anywhere near such despondent drivel.

And my last issue.


Fear Itself: The Fearless #12

Cullen Bunn, Paul Pelletier & Tom Grummett{p}, Danny Miki & Andy Lanning{i}, Matthew Wilson{c}


If you haven't been reading Fearless, you've been missing out on some jolting moments of Valkyrie kicking the collective ass of a legion of Marvel doom. I can see your reasoning. An extension of a lousy mini-series usually translates into a cash cow being milked by lesser talents. Not so with Fearless.

Cullen Bunn wrote The Deep, the first defacto Defenders book and better than the current Defenders series. You can see my reviews of that highly recommended series here, here and here

As with The Deep, all the characterization in Fearless gels with past history, as opposed to recent tampering. He also undermines the importance of the cursed hammers, turning them into nothing more than glorified McGuffins. Bunn is far more interested in personal dynamics, spunky dialogue and directing the awesome fight scenes, beautifully orchestrated by Paul Pelletier. 

Ohhhhh, Bwun-Hilde, you'we so wovewy….

With The Fearless, Bunn focused on the inner turmoil of Valkyrie as well as her physical strength and martial prowess on the mortal coil. He beefed up this character royally, and let's face it, Marvel needs powerhouse women untainted by the Civil War. Valkyrie meets all the criteria needed to become a major force equal to DC's Wonder Woman. 

While he's at it, Bunn reinforces what we all knew. Odin's a stand-up guy as far as gods go, and his wife Freya is far more than a helpmate. Bunn weaves together the often theorized relationship between she and the Valkyries, logically turning Freya into the warrior women's leader that gives Valkyrie a new purpose and instigating a real change in the ancient traditions. How this will affect Marvel is anybody's guess. Bunn however gives them a catalyst bubbling to be utilized.



Men of War #8

Jeff Lemire, Matt Kidnt{p}, Tom Derenick{i}, Jose Villarubia{c}


The real question is why didn't DC focus this book squarely in the crosshairs of Frankenstein's Monster and his lovely four-armed bride at the onset? The Monster killing Nazis? That's solid gold. If you think that's wrong, go to the home office and turn in your geek membership card.

Father Time (Uncle Sam) of the Grant Morrison-created group S.H.A.D.E. unleashes the Frankenstein Monster against the Third Reich. In short, what we have here is page after page of the Frankenstein Monster dog-fighting Nazis, then deciding his plane's just getting in the way of hand-to-air combat. Dude, takes a sword to the Luftwaffe.

Why I Read Comic Books

Artists Matt Kidnt and Tom Derenick make each swipe and punch count. Meanwhile, Jose Villarubia adds a little green to the Blitzkrieg colors of destruction. The Bride bears a much more natural emerald skin giving her an exotic look that you can easily see enticing the kinky.

The New Mademoiselle Marie

In the second story, Frankenstein's Bride, uses her feminine wiles to lure the Japanese into a brief honey trap that nets her information she passes on to the allies. She's then tasked to extract captured engineer Robert Crane. If that name sounds familiar to you, then you're an old man like me. Robert Crane was the secret identity of the original Robotman. In Men of War, he has yet to transplant his own brain into a metal body, but writer Jeff Lemire finds an absolutely brilliant use for him in the production of another DC fan favorite soldier. You'll only see this twist coming as a glimmer.

Men of War just made me giddy and feel all warm inside.



Adventure! with The Brothers


Pig Litany

Yeah. You know, after reading Adventure! with the Brothers I've decided that it's not bizarre plot twists such as the one above, nor the slide 

whistle moment of drama below that's the worst thing about the series.

The irritating appeals to worship Jebus, nor the typical smug Christian attitude of having all the answers isn't the final nail in the coffin.

Cult vs. Religion, I Never Could Tell the Difference. One of the Many Reasons I choose Atheism.

The very worst thing about this vile series is that a book entitled Adventure! with the Brothers produced in the '70s should look like this:

The Real Adventures With the Brothers

The term "brother" was common enough slang for every man in the '30s and '40s. Doc Savage referred to his crew as brothers. When the '60s rolled around, hippies touting peace and love referred to men being brothers and women being sisters, but during the seventies brothers became specifically a word claimed by people of color. 

Only a black man could refer to another man, white or black, as brother. Not the other way around. Blacks arguably acquired the word as their own to reflect a shared struggle against white America: from slavery to inequality. White people did not use the term brother to describe black man, unless they were being derogatory. Most whites respected the lingual shift. Whites could only use brothers if it was combined with sisters, and even then, the phrase could only be used in the plural.

It is a supreme insult for Christians to attempt to usurp the lingo for their own super white agenda. It's an outright cultural theft, and that is the worst crime committed by Adventure! with the Brothers. Like the Birther movement, it's innate racism with proponents that do not realize that they are racists.



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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