The Most Useful Ideas In Discussing Comics (the conclusion)
By Park Cooper
Terra: A girl known for two things: (1) betraying the Titans from within. This worked because the readers had such utter faith that someone who showed up on her respective team at the same time as Kitty Pryde couldn't REALLY be evil, just misunderstood. (2) They brought her back from the dead and didn't explain it. Or her evilness. Ever. To this very day.
30th Century: DC superheroes 1000 years in the future. They could come back and visit Superboy or Supergirl and not spoil continuity, because they were far enough in the future that all Superman or whatever conflicts didn't matter to them-- in fact, they might not know how things happened, say, how Batman died, because it was so long ago maybe the historical documents had been lost or whatever. Of course, Alan Moore used it well in the opposite way in "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" The best use of the 30th century was when, on the run from Computo, the Legionnaires holed up in the Batcave. Genius. Batman Beyond tried to use this sort of brilliance and blew it completely. What a failure.
Thought Captions: The best use of thought captions, ever, is Hellblazer, but now they're going out of style (and yet the Silver Age is coming back). I suppose that in this Era of Big Art we don't really care what the characters are thinking. Unfortunately, the current trend is not about showing the action, as in Noir (cross-reference with Noir), but about showing the poses, which often means showing the boobs. (Or the big green fin on one's head. Or both.)
Time Travel: Aren't we all sick of time travel? Doesn't it just make your little head hurt? Don't you just wish it would DIE? Bad examples of time travel usage include: Hypertime, punching a hole through time, Chronos, the Legion trapped in the 20th century for a year or so, The Time Trapper, The Lord of Time, the start of Age of Apocalypse, Cobalt Blue, the Other Tim Hunters. I'd list some good uses of Time Travel but I recently asked Tom Peyer what his favorite time travel story was and I don't want to put ideas in his head.
Transmetropolitan: It's actually worth the trouble. This, THIS should be Warren's argument that we don't need to rely on superheroes anymore, not Strange Kiss or what have you. Of course, you need to be evil and nasty and enjoy comics blasphemy like what happened to that poor dog and those dolphins and so on and so on ad infinitem. A semester of med school studying all the most disgusting things that can happen to the human body would help you understand some of the words, terms, and events that show up in this comic. But it is, so far, Warren's best work.
Turk County: From Starman. I find this to be an excellent concept for explaining why it's creepy to go into rural areas where anything could happen.
T******t: I can't tell you about this one. You'll have to go figure it out for yourself. It was never published. It was written by Alan Moore. You can (still) find it online without too much trouble. But one must never say its name out loud for fear that THEY might hear you. I can say no more.
Usagi Yojimbo, Akiko, Amy Unbounded, Forty Winks: My new tetrad of titles that are technically all-ages but are well-written enough that anyone can enjoy them. Seriously, I could give any of these to my mother and she would be able to get it. That's my new concept for testing what comics titles might survive outside fandom: my mom. I gave her 6 issues of Pam Bliss' Sparky The Black-Ass Dog to look at and she loved them. If only someone had given my mom a preview of Kingdom Come she could have explained why it was not going to be a big breakout for superhero comics into the mass American public readership. I wouldn't want to put her through such an experience, but I can imagine it: "Who is this guy in the green cape? Should I know who this is? What's with this religious stuff?" The answer to number one is The Spectre. Question two: Good Question and Not Really. Question Three: Another Good Question and It's Complicated and You Can Stop Reading Now, Thanks For Participating In Our Experiment.
Vampirella: Someone from the UK once explained it to me: when the government imposed stricter porn regulations in the early 80s or whenever it was, brit boys could still traipse down to the newsagents and look at Vampi. Why not just tell me that in the first place? It all made so much more sense once I understood that part. It's not GOOD, but I understand it totally now.
WB Adventures: They took the style of the Fleischer studio Superman cartoons and made the two greatest and most successful reboots in the history of rebooting. Two-Face's origin is brilliant. Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman. Laura Ingalls as an intelligent, believable Batgirl. Ra's Al Ghul is definitive. The Mad Hatter is perfect. Jonah Hex appears in a flashback tale talking to a waitress who is voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery in what I believe must be her final performance before her death. Clayface makes sense. Mark Hamill is the freakin' Joker. It gave us Harley Quinn. It gave us the Creeper, voiced by the guy from Freakazoid. It gave Barbara Lien one of her favorite appearances ever of Zatanna. It's Gotham as Art-Deco-Noir, and for almost 3 years, the Batman Adventures comic was just about as good. IT WORKED. And then there was Superman. I watched Last Son of Krypton with Barbara in Lubbock, where they didn't show the show the first season, on video. It was the best movie we watched that year. Lois is smart and wisecracking. The Legion showed up. The New Gods showed up. Roz Doyle did a guest voice. It gave us the gift of Mxyzptlk again and taught us how to PRONOUNCE him. Bizarro. Flash. Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer gave us Titano and a new Supergirl that isn't a freakin cosmic angel or nuthin. Wow.
Who's Who: An indispensable tool for the DCU. Everyone should have a set.
John Woo: Director of the movies Hard Boiled, The Killer, and others. Cross-reference with Garth Ennis immediately.
Xombi, Mosaic, Kid Eternity: My holy trinity of incredibly intelligent titles that were horribly, painfully cancelled. As time goes on, I've come to grips with Kid Eternity. How could I or anyone have expected this to last even as long as it did? It was too cultural, too intellectual, too Ann Nocenti for the planet, with her dialogue style that sounds like a cross between Claremont and Kirby with a touch of Morrison. But god, what a title. She put Madame Blavatsky and Neal Cassidy into a comic. As, for a while, RECURRING CHARACTERS. But Mosaic? Noooooo don't cancel my Mosaic! And Xombi! How could you destroy the worthy successor to Grant's Doom Patrol? You vicious bastards in black hoods with giant axes. Hate you.
Year One: It's better than Dark Knight, frankly. Except that it made Catwoman into a prostitute some MORE. At least she looked neat--and anatomically plausible.
Zero Hour: What a bad thing. Uh... what else can one say? Yeah, it gave us Starman and Impulse... and look at them now. Ouch.
Ziggy Stardust: My wife reminded me not to overlook the influence in Grant Morrison's Zenith, and perhaps a little in Mark Millar's Saviour, in that it focuses on the pop icon as messiah, save that in Savior's case it's actually a messiah with evil designs...
Archie: Today I saw a little Laugh Digest in the supermarket checkout line. Its cost: $2.19. By my quick calculations, I figgered there were at least 60 pages of comic in there. Why can't we bring back the digest format? Just have each company publish like 3 digests a month of characters they want to highlight? Different ones each month? Just reprint 8 or so stories a month in digest form. I go to Giant Eagle or Wal-Mart or H.E.B. and I'm in the checkout line and to shut up my son or daughter for 5 minutes I buy DC Digest. For 2.50 it reprints this month's Superman and this month's Flash. My child is intrigued and wishes to buy more exploits of these characters in the near future. Someone explain to me again why this is impossible.
Clones: No more clones NO! NYET clones. Bad clones bad bad naughty bad mustn't. This is the other thing besides mind control that allows us to have heroes fighting each other without just the typical misunderstandings. Spider-Man NO! Superboy's evil twin BAD! Remember when they were dead if you found the body? It was like when photographs were admissible as evidence in that way that existed before people learned to tamper with them. The body, like the photo, was reality. It was DNA, it was a recording of light on paper. It couldn't lie. Clones! Clones! X-Files! Clones! Bad! No! Never! No more! Stop!