Daily Planet updates

Thanks to my recent trip to Portland, I managed to pick up most of the DC Dollar Comics, including most of the World's Finests which included the Daily Planet updates.  For those who are too young to remember, DC used to make a mock-up front page simulation of the Daily Planet which it used to advertise the books that were coming out the following week (later, when the pages were only being published twice a month, that timeframe changed to the following two weeks).  Toward the end, it would appear alternately in Superman Family and World's Finest, and I'm now only missing a couple issues of SF.  I also posted an early issue of the DP, and another Justice For All Includes Children, a single page public service comic that featured kids doing something wrong and Superman telling them off and setting them right.  Both of these are avaliable under the DC Features link on the left.


Samsung Omnia problems

Recently I upgraded my old Motorola phone that I'd had for five or so years and finally got the Samsung Omnia that I had had my eye on. Verizon had it for a great price and I'd read nothing but good reviews of it. I've had the phone for nearly three months now, and I think I've experienced the good and the bad. I'm a bit annoyed that Verizon released the Droid literally days after I ordered the Omnia, but such is the way of things.

I've discovered that the Omnia doesn't have one feature that every modern smartphone should have. You can't voice-dial with a headset. In this age of laws requiring hands-free calling, for a phone to force one to look at it while dialing is inexcusable. In Washington, where I live, and in Oregon, where I was last weekend, one must use headsets while driving. Admittedly, once you've made the call, the phone switches seamlessly to the headset, but dialing while driving is illegal.

Other annoyances with the phone include the "standard" interface provided by Samsung. Many people love it. It provides a vertical bar containing many widgets that can be dragged out onto the desktop. There are a couple of problems with this bar however, not the least of which is how much it drags while scrolling. Scrolling the bar to a new icon will cause one to wonder whether you actually scrolled the bar at all. In addition, one is extremely limited as to what can be added to the bar. Install a new program? Good luck adding it to the bar.

It's hard not to compare the phone to Apple's iPhone. I have an iPod Touch, so I'm familiar with its interface, and the Omnia's keyboard can't compare. Somehow, even though the on-screen keyboard is roughly the same size, the Omnia has managed to make its keys feel much more cramped. The iPhone also does some interesting things with predictive typing, such as changing a double-space into a period and a space.

All in all, while I could live with the Omnia, I think I'm going to call Verizon to see if I'm still in my returnability time-frame and see if I can't get the Droid instead. I've heard nothing but good things about it. I'm going to have to find out about controlling it by the headset first, though.

Edit: I discovered that i'm not any smarter than my phone. Apparently I need to hold down the call button on the headset in order to make a voice call. I was just tapping the button, which is how one answers a call.

I left my money (and my sanity) in Portland, Oregon

The comic shop I frequent in Portland, Excalibur Comics, had one of their twice-yearly 50% off sales this weekend.  Even though it takes me two and a half hours to get there, it's well worth it because of how much I end up getting there.  I always spend the night before getting my want list prepared, massaging it so that my main list shows the books that I'm most wanting to find, and that my secondary list shows the books I want if I can't find the "first priority" ones.

I decided this time that I was going to go in looking for the "Dollar Comics" that DC put out around 1978.  I chose the Dollar Comics because I knew that, at least toward the end, the Daily Planet pages that served as a DC house ad at the time were usually printed in those books.  There are still a few of those that I need to complete the collection here on my site (which you can see under the Features link to the left), and I was hoping to get that much closer.

Coincidentally, while I was digging for the Dollar Comics, I also came across a couple of the DC Salutes the Bicentennial covers that DC put on its July 1976 books.  I'm getting closer and closer to having a complete set of those.  I probably have about half of those now.  There's nothing in them that even refers to the Bicentennial, outside of the covers, but I was always fascinated by them as a kid.  I always wanted to collect the whole set, even though I wouldn't be able to send away for the Superman belt buckle.  I wonder if I could find one of those buckles now?

At any rate, I found nearly all of the Dollar books.  As far as they go, I found the last three I needed to complete the Adventure Comics books, including the one that started the JSA's run in the book.  I picked up four of the Detective Comics; I still need eleven of them, since they weren't a priority this time. I am missing 35 G.I. Combats (which isn't bad since there are 81 of those), six Superman Familys, two Unexpecteds, seven issues of World's Finest Comics, and the small but complete run of House of Mystery.  There are also a variety of special and anniversary issues that I still need, but I came alot closer to completing this set after my trip yesterday.

In addition I came very close to completing both my Catwoman and my Hellblazer runs.  Right before I got married, I decided that I needed to stop collecting comics in order to pay for the wedding.  I've since been picking up the books I missed at sales like this one.  I am still missing quite a few over all, but Hellblazer was the last major series of which I was still missing a chunk.  I'm down to mostly single issues left on any one title.  Oh, except for Nightwing, Birds of Prey and Lobo.  Yeah, I know, it's an odd mix.  Nightwing and Birds of Prey have just been hard to find, and I'm not really motivated to pick up those last Lobos, since the series just didn't grab me that much.

The other thing I did while I was in Portland was to use the Ikea gift card my wife got me to purchase some cool enclosed glass shelving for the mini-busts I've been buying to display in my comic room.  Now, I've never been to Ikea before.  Having been there, I will probably never go again.  It's not a place that was designed with a shopper like me in mind.  I like to go in, find what I want, and get out again.  However, Ikea have designed their stores to reward browsers.  The place has one path that you have to walk to get through the store.  The aisles are narrow, so you can't get by the people who don't know what they want and have to see everything in the place in order to decide, and you are forced to see every item in the place regardless of whether you know what you want or not.  Once I found my item, you have to write down where it is in their warehouse, continue the maze to the warehouse, and then try to find your item there.  Then it's a bit of a maze to get from the warehouse to the check stands, where they've once again designed things to prevent people from moving along on their way.  But I did finally get the cabinets I wanted, and I plan to construct them tonight or tomorrow and fill them with my statues, finally.


Yes, it has been a while.  The holidays have been particularly busy, what with my new job.  I ended up having to work a number of Sundays, which cut into my already small reading time.  My spare time hasn't been helped by a new project I have going on also.

My wife and I volunteer at a local historic theater, and in particular I'm part of the movie committee, helping to decide what we will show, and to manage the costs and the volunteers and other minutiae.  At the end of the last season, we found out that a local hotel owner was hoping that, once he got his hotel remodelled, we might want to work with him to run a special series that the hotel would sponsor.  After batting around a number of ideas, I ended up volunteering to run a series of classic movies.  I've spent quite a bit of time deciding the first year's worth of movies and learning what all goes on with getting the rights to show the movies.

Because of this new project, I've been watching quite a few older movies.  Amazon had quite a number of box sets in which I was interested for more than half off, so those were impossible to resist, especially as they were movies I planned to show this year (Shadow of a Doubt and My Little Chickadee).  And for Christmas we also bought ourselves a Bluray player, along with a bunch of movies (most of which we already own on DVD, we are such suckers).

So in the past few weeks, I've watched all the movies that the Marx Brothers did for Paramount (Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup), Gaslight, a couple of movies by W. C. Fields (The International House and The Bank Dick), and The Princess Bride and Amadeus on Bluray.  I have another 8 movies by W. C. Fields, 10 Alfred Hitchcock movies for Universal, and 7 or so Blurays to go.

This all means I'm consistently about two weeks behind on my comics now, because of all these other hobbies I have.  With the lull that most television shows are going through right now, I might actually be able to catch up, but this weekend I will putting myself even further behind, since the comic shop I go to down in Portland is having their semi-annual 50% off sale. I always end up buying about 200 books on these weekends.

On the plus side, Larry Marder recently released the newest work in his Tales of the Beanworld series.  I intend to review it, but I've wanted my first reading of it to simmer a bit.  This one book encompasses about half as much material as he had previously published in the regular series, so having that much new stuff makes reviewing it a bit overwhelming, especially without a second reading to pick up on things I might have missed on the first, excited, breakneck read-through.  I hope to get to that in the next couple of days.

At any rate, I hope your holidays have been festive, and that the new year brings you everything you deserve, and thanks for reading!

Crisis on Infinite Earths: the Novel

coie novel

In 1986, DC Comics decided that readers no longer enjoyed the variety provided by its "Multiverse" concept and, in fact, found it confusing.  To remedy the situation, it called upon Marv Wolfman to write the story that would combine five continuities/histories into one coherent timeline.  The comic book series was a stunning success, becoming the first of many summer-time events, which was certainly helped by the George Perez art. Recently, I picked up this 2005 novel (I hesitate to call it a novelization, as there are many differences) and gave it a read.  While it does follow the same general path as the comic series, there are numerous differences.  Mostly narrated by a dead Barry Allen, aka the Flash, his point of view is used to move from scene to scene.  He often provides behind the scenes help that wasn't present or apparant in the comic series.

Also, some characters that were created in the comic series were given little to no time in the novel, such as the female Doctor Light, whose origin involved the main antagonist in the comic series but who is seen or mentioned on no more than a handful of pages in the novel.

Wolfman also works in mentions of the Justice Alliance of Earth-D, characters he created well after the original series, who represented a racially integrated team of characters.  Supposedly, their story was one that he had wanted to tell, but he cut it due to the length of the series.

One last major difference is what happens to certain major characters at the end of the story. In the original, Alexander Luthor takes the Superman and Lois Lane of Earth 2 and the Superboy of Earth Prime into himself where he's created a virtual paradise for them. Superboy of Earth Prime isn't even mentioned (he was probably too hard to explain using the narrative style of the book) and Superman and Lois Lane have a different destiny in the novel.

While these differences are intruiging, and help to attract a reader to the story, readers who have probably read the original story at least one if not multiple times, the style of the narrative made the book a struggle to finish.  While the use of Barry Allen as a narrator was probably as good an idea as any, he spends many pages pining for his lost wife, Iris.  Having been dragged from his life to help to defeat the bad guys, he was unable to return to her before his death.

Wolfman also made a strange choice to have chapters that were no more than three or so pages long.  While it means that you could read the book easily and entirely in bathroom trips, it felt very jarring to have such frequent changes of scene. It also meant that not much time was spent with any given situation or character, with the exception of the Flash.

Lastly, the thing that drew me out of the book most were the large number of editorial mistakes.  There were many missing letters that should have been caught by the editor during a simple read-through of the manuscript.  In addition, for as researched as the story had to have been, Wolfman made many mistakes on fairly simple things.  For example, he continually referred to the Psycho Pirate as being from Earth 1 (he's originally from Earth 2), and he continually misspelled Obsidian's name.

All in all, the positives in the form of the changes to the story were offset by the negatives of the writing style and editorial mistakes to make the book both mediocre and disappointing.  Read it if you are a completist, such as I am, but only the most serious fan would want to in the first place.

Editorfail award of the week

Okay, this is actually for last week, but I'm behind on my comics (which I get late anyway thanks to my buying them online). Outsiders #23 wins it for that week.  I counted no less than three simple mistakes that should have been caught by a semi-competent editor with a minimal amount of research.

Outsiders 23 Error 1

Error #1: Katana's sword is not Soulcatcher. Its name is Soultaker.

Outsiders 23 Error 2 part 1
Outsiders 23 error 2 part 2

Error #2: Halo claims to have taken down Croc using heat beams that dried him out.  However, her green aura gives away the fact that she must have used her stasis aura. Her heat aura is red.

Outsiders 23 Error 3

Error #3: Owlman, did you really see eye movememt? Shouldn't there be an n in there somewhere?

So writer Peter J. Tomasi, colorist Brian Reber and editors Michael Siglain and Harvey Richards really went out of their ways to do nothing at all, and it earned them the award for the week.

The Sarah Jane Adventures S03E05 & 06, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith


Suspecting that she's been lying to them, the kids use Mr. Smith to track where Sarah Jane is spending her time.  They discover that she's been dating, and she wants him to meet Luke, but doesn't want Peter, her boyfriend to know anything about their work. To help protect Sarah Jane from discovery, Rani takes a box to her house, a box which contains a slug-like alien.  The alien escapes while Sarah Jane, Peter and Luke are at dinner, but Mr. Smith transmits the alien back to his homeworld.

A couple days later, while digging around on the internet, Clyde discovers that the house in which Peter claims to live is closed up and listed for sale. Clyde and Rani go to explore the house, while at lunch Peter proposes to Sarah Jane, who accepts. Clyde and Rani fill in Sarah Jane, but the ring which Peter gave her flashes and Sarah Jane seems to come up with a perfect explanation.  The ring then forces Sarah Jane to shut down Mr. Smith just as he detects a problem with it.

Two weeks later, it's the big day. But noticeably absent is the Doctor, the sound of whose TARDIS has been heard repeatedly thoughout the events. As the the wedding vows are read, the Doctor runs in, demanding that the wedding stop.  A wind kicks up, and the Trickster (from last series' The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith) appears and steals away Peter and Sarah Jane.

The kids awaken from the Trickster's appearance and disappearance to discover that the entire church has been pulled out of time and that they and the Doctor are the only ones who can save everyone. They run out to to get into the TARDIS only to discover that it's been left behind like everyone else and it can't break through the temporal barrier the Trickster has thrown up.

Meanwhile, Sarah Jane awakens to discover her situation and realizes that the ring is to blame.  The Doctor and the kids, in another "version" of the church, try to find her.  The Doctor realizes that they are trapped in separate ticks of the clock. Elsewhen, Peter tells Sarah Jane how the Trickster saved his life and extracted a promise to help trap her, and she fills him in on her life. She calls the Trickster out, and he explains to her that all he wanted was for her to settle down with Peter, so that she would give up her life of intervening in the Trickster's plans. Trickster tells her that the only way to save the Doctor and the kids is to marry Peter.

The Doctor attempts to connect to Sarah Jane's clock-tick, which attracts the Trickster's attention.  After a battle of words with the Doctor, the Trickster fades again, but the Doctor has his plan all figured out.  The TARDIS manages to materialize the doorway, and the Doctor enters but Clyde gets caught in its temporal field.  Clyde discovers he is charged with temporal energy, and K-9 explains that the energy could be used to fight the Trickster.

Clyde calls out the Trickster, and manages to hit him with that energy.  While Clyde is distracting the Trickster, the Doctor manages to bring the TARDIS to Sarah Jane, who has to decide whether to marry Peter and condemn the world to the Trickster's power, or to say no and be forced to stay in the rift.  Before making the decision, Clyde's energy runs out, and the Doctor is forced away.  Sarah Jane convinces Peter to rescind his agreement with the Trickster, which means giving up his own life for hers. Everything returns to normal, with all the guests questioning where the groom has disappeared to, and Sarah Jane has to cancel the wedding.  Later, at Sarah Jane's house, the Doctor reappears. After showing the kids around, the Doctor and Sarah Jane say their final goodbyes.


I love this show, both because it's well-written, but also because it is simple without being simplistic.   Yes, the plot points are pretty obvious, and you always know where the story is going to go, except for those times you don't, and those times are wonderfully done. Yes, I have a particular fondness for Sarah Jane, since she was the first companion I watched. Yes, it's supposedly a childrens' show, but don't let that stop you.  It is a spin-off of Doctor Who, but you don't need to know anything about that show in order to enjoy this one. It's great that we got to see the Doctor again; his specials are too separated right now. An enjoyable story all around and a highly recommended series.

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds HC

The Legion of Super-Heroes was the first book I bought with my own money.  Was it because the dentist had the first appearance of the Composite Superman (who gained the powers of the Legion when lightning hit their statues while he was standing nearby)? Nope.  It was because my local grocery store had two consecutive issues.  Yes, it's that silly a reason.

I've been their fan ever since.  Through the good times (Paul Levitz is still my favorite Legion writer) to the bad (I can't believe they allowed fan-fiction writers to take the reins), I've been there. My Legion collection is complete back into the early 1970s and through reprints I've read most, if not all, of the books in which they've appeared.

Recently, the Legion has fallen on hard times.  They began their third incarnation, which bears almost no resemblance to the previous two, and even the usually masterful Mark Waid couldn't keep interest in this version.  And then Geoff Johns used the Legion for a crossover with Superman (which will be reviewed later).  The catch: the Legion he used appeared to be the one from my youth.

And Johns' story was a revelation.  I've liked, and even loved, his work but this story took me back to my youth.  While the story made it clear this wasn't exactly the same Legion, it was close enough.  The Legion I thought had been lost in the first re-start was back (mostly).  It also seemed that they were the same up to the bad times, up to the point where my least favorite Legion writers took over.  With excellent art by Gary Frank, this story was a love letter to older Legion fans and, for me, I thought it was the best a fan like me was going to get.

Until Final Crisis.  As part of DC's summer event, the powers-that-be gave Johns the go-ahead to write another Legion story. Using elements he had set up previously, Johns weaves a story of Superboy-Prime and the Time Trapper, and their attempts to destroy the LSH.  With glorious art by George Perez, there's something in this story for any Legion fan, with appearances by every character who has ever been a member, and appearances by most of the various costumes that they've worn.  All three Legions are represented, including the Five-Year Gap Legion whose history I thought removed in Johns "retroboot".

In the story, Superboy-Prime is unknowningly thrown into the 31st century, where he sees that Superman is still revered, but he is nearly unknown.  Being the egocentric character that he is, he takes his anger out on the Superman Museum and its patrons before learning of the Legion of Super-Heroes and their counterparts, the Legion of Super-Villains.  Determined to destroy Superman's legacy, including the LSH, he attempts to take over the LSV and begins attacking Metropolis.  To counter him, the retroboot Legion hatches a plan of their own, calling in their counterparts from other universes, the reboot and threeboot Legions (from after Zero Hour and Mark Waid's Legion, respectively).

After gaining Superman's help, the Legions determine that the best way to stop Superboy-Prime is to bring back the heroes who defeated him before: Kid Flash (Bart Allen) and Superboy (Conner Kent).  In doing so, the Time Trapper captures the retroboot version of the Legion founders (Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and Cosmic Boy) along with Superman and brings them to the end of time, where he reveals that he is, in fact, Superboy-Prime all grown up.  He tells them a story of how he won't be defeated, that his being there now was proof.  All that goes up in smoke when damage Superboy-Prime took in the past appears on the Time Trapper, proving that history can be changed.

The Legions hatch a plan to bring Time Trapper back to the present, where Superboy-Prime becomes enraged at the thought of becoming the Trapper, and attacks him.  As soon as they touch, Superboy-Prime is returned to his original Earth, which had been recreated in the events of Infinite Crisis, and the Time Trapper disappears.  The threeboot Legion turns out to be the Legion of Earth-Prime, while the reboot Legion become wanderers in the Multi-verse.

I read these as they were coming out, late books and all, and reread the hard cover that just came out. While the HC doesn't have anything in the way of extras, it's still worth the money for the excellent story and art.  This story is a fan's dream, given that it contains every major and most every minor character who has been in a Legion story, and it reintroduces the original Legion to the DC universe in a way that makes sense with the new status quo.  It's a must-read for a Legion fan, but it's an excellent story even for those who have only a passing familiarity with this part of DC's history.