Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crisis On Earth-Blog: The DC Challenge

I swear to God, Blogspot ate my entry here. I had it all set up, and was just updating the linklist when my finger slipped in the exact wrong fashion. It broke me inside. A lot of great people put hard work into this event, but aspects of it just fell to pieces, and that's my fault.

Anyway, there was some great material developed for this particular story with Lissbirds, and I plan to rework it into a small event in the near future. Sorry for screwing things up here. Carry on.

The Anti-DiDio League
The Continuity Blog
The Aquaman Shrine
The Atom: Tiny Titan
Being Carter Hall
Comics Make Me Happy
Crimson Lightning
Dispatches from the Arrow Cave
El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker
Firestorm Fan
Girls Gone Geek
I Am The Phantom Stranger
The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Justice League Detroit
Once Upon a Geek
Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
random picture day
Reilly2040's Blog
Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
when is evil cool?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Whatever Happened To... The Crimson Avenger?" (10/1981)

Admitted to City Community Hospital, Lee Travis had a new, inoperable, incurable condition. He also had an estimated week to live, and as a man of action, Travis just didn't think it was fair that he should pass with a whimper. First, as the Daily Globe-Leader's crusading young publisher, then as "the midnight manstalker called the Crimson Avenger," Travis relentlessly pursued justice in the 1930s & 40s. However, Travis vanished for decades, lost in time alongside his fellow members of The Seven Soldiers of Victory. Though still a fit man of reasonable age after being brought to the present day with the help of the Justice League of America, culture shock and the power levels of that caliber of super-hero sent the merely human Crimson Avenger into retirement.

Using wealth from his newspaper, Travis became a world traveler, until he was diagnosed as terminal while in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Now, it isn't the dying, but the injustice of dying meekly that irked him. Good thing Travis spied that tanker ship blinking "SOS" in code with its lights from his hospital room window. Suiting up one final time as the Crimson Avenger, Travis dove out his window, making his way via flagpoles and such.

On the south side of town, a muy caliente mami complained about the price of food in her apartment, as her niño toddler Umberto slipped and fell over the ledge. Her "single soul-chilling scream" was stifled by the Crimson Avenger's catching the kid in mid-death plunge. "Gracias dios, señor!" This hero would be in her grateful prayers that night as he swung away, explaining that before she was born, he was "el Vengadore Rojo."

Hopping an unauthorized ride on a commuter shuttle-copter's landing gear, the Crimson Avenger finally reached the tanker. Well-armed mercenaries had taken the vessel for its experimental, unstable, highly volatile chemical cargo. Though machine guns blazed, they fared poorly at finding a target through the red fog bombs dropped by our hero. A grenade was far more effective, as it set off a chain reaction with the chemicals, deemed so dangerous they had been scheduled for a mid-Atlantic deep-sixing. Learning that the whole shebang was about to take out the city like a hydrogen bomb, the Crimson Avenger had the crew and crooks hauled into lifeboats. Then, he navigated the tanker as far from the city as possible.

Reaching a safe distance, Lee Travis began to smile. He knew he'd saved the city, even as he'd doomed himself. "At least this way my death counts for something... at least this way the Crimson Avenger will be remembered! I'm just happy I got one last chance to wear this good old uniform... For the first time in years I feel truly alive--!"


Police pulled the survivors from the water at the docks. The captain wanted all the credit to go to their savior, except "the smoke was too thick to see him clearly... and he never mentioned his name!"

The legend of the Crimson Avenger seemed as dead as the namesake, but then again, there's that senorita to remember. "When you are old enough, Umberto, I will tell you how a brave man saved your life today... and then someday you will tell your children so they can tell their children! We must never forget el Vengadore Rojo... the Crimson Avenger!"

This back-up story from DC Comics Presents #38 was crafted by Len Wein, Alex Saviuk & Dennis Jensen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Try to contact Captain Comet with the Venusian device

The year is 1960, and Captain Comet flies his Cometeer rocket ship through the blackest reaches of space. The Man of Destiny hasn't been back to his home world of Earth in years, as he sojourns to find new life, and perhaps, his true place in the universe.

Suddenly, a message came over the communications relay. It was from J'onn J'onzz, a Martian turned defender of Earth, yet strangely, the message was in Venusian. The potent mind of Captain Comet is of course fluent in Venusian, and he acts without delay to comply with J'onzz's request.

Oh, I suppose you don't speak Venusian yourself? Luckily, we have a copy of Mr. Mind's Venusian Decoder Card handy to help you out. Decipher the message, and follow its directions!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Strange Adventures #17: "Beware the Synthetic Men!" (February 1952)

In Washington, D.C., a suspicious vagrant was brought to a police station. He'd been caught outside the Acme Chemical Plant, and when questioned, he wriggled free and escaped. The police were astonished by his green skin and bulletproof skin. Soon, it was all over the papers, with reporters wondering if these were perhaps aliens from Mars. To calm public anxiety, the nation's science-defense chief Dr. Stanton appeared on television to dispel the myth of the green men.

Renowned physicist Professor Zackro and his guest Captain Comet (sitting in full costume) watched the broadcast, and the Man of Destiny detected Stanton was concealing something. "His thought waves-- which are electrical in nature-- are being broadcast simultaneously with his words! If I can tune into them, I'll soon learn if my suspicions are correct!" Employing all of his telepathic power to pick up the mental signal, Comet exclaimed "great galaxy" upon learning the truth about the green men.

A year early, Dr. Stanton had convinced the Army Chief of Staff General Dalton to fund development of synthetic men from his invention neoplasm, "a chemical that lives and moves." A month late, from his bricks of green tofu, Stanton created his first synthetic man, possessed of all senses and the name Alpha. Five men total were animated, and named from the Greek alphabet. They were immune to poison, acids-- and strong enough to bend iron bars, allowing their escape. Captain Comet would have to join the top secret manhunt! Dismissing research, the Man of Destiny knew from memory the only locations in the United States where calcium nitrate, the Synthetic Men's food supply, could be found.

The Cometeer rocket made its way to the town of Calnit, near Great Salt Lake. Meanwhile, the deathless Synthetic Men had cut off all communications out of the town and herded its citizens into a warehouse. The Cometeer landed, and the townsfolk declared, "Captain Comet! He'll save us!" A green man fired a pistol at the Man of Destiny, whose unique mind-over-matter ability halted the bullet's flight. "He must be a superhuman!"

"In turn, Captain Comet sends a super-energetic wave of mental force at the green men," but their synthetic bodies were immune to his telekinesis. Although Comet's strength was greater than the synthetics', he allowed himself to be captured in order to gather more information.

That night, the Man of the Future watched as the Synthetic Men began to replicate the process by which Dr. Stanton had create them. Captain Comet could read their minds, and learned they planned to produce an army of synthetics to overtake the planet. While all five green men were isolated in one room, the Man of Destiny sealed off the door with his telekinesis. Captain Comet then ordered the townspeople to push whatever objects they could find against the door. "Hustle, everybody-- do what Captain Comet says!"

Dashing to his Cometeer, the Man of the Future returned with an emergency oxygen cylinder. Releasing its contents through a crack above the door of the tiny supply room, Comet soon found the Synthetic Men immobilized. Though still "alive" the green men were now rigid as stone. Captain Comet had deduced from their food source that the Synthetic Men breathed the nitrogen in the air, rather than oxygen. "Just as humans would perish in air of pure nitrogen-- so the Synthetics couldn't survive in pure oxygen! It combined with the calcium in their bodies to form calcium carbonate-- which is the formula for marble!"

The Synthetic Men were left in the town square as a monument, with the sign, "The five living statures placed here in honor of Captain Comet who conquered them-- and a warning to any others who plan a war against humanity!"

"Beware the Synthetic Men!" by John Broome (writing as Edgar Ray Merritt,) Murphy Anderson & Joe Giella.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Captain Comet Bantam-Blog

If Superman had been created in the 1950s instead of the 30s, he might have ended up a lot like Captain Comet. Adam Blake agonized over why he never quite felt like he fit in with the human race, displaying mental and physical powers far beyond those of ordinary men. Seeking the help of physicist Emery Zackro led to a series of tests and the hypothesis that Blake was a mutant fluke. "You've heard, I'm sure, of human throwbacks-- men born today with the minds and bodies of the cavemen of 100,000 years ago! Well, think of the opposite of that... Scientifically, there's no reason why the opposite-- an accidental specimen of future man-- should not happen!" Aware of the dangers should Blake's abilities become public knowledge, the pair decided to keep them a secret. Still, Blake would act to benefit mankind under the guise of Captain Comet, naming himself for the mysterious celestial visitor that appeared in the sky the night of his birth.

From the June 1951 cover-dated Strange Adventures #9 until October 1954's 49th issue, Captain Comet starred (usually on the cover) in stories where he protected the Earth from one science fiction menace after another. Created after the super-hero fad that died in the late 40s and before its revival in the mid-50s, Captain Comet was a curious hybrid whose modest success turned into over twenty years out of the public eye, save for odd reprints. Blake finally returned in 1976's Secret Society of Super-Villains #2, as an ongoing foil. Having left Earth to explore space and "find himself" in his Cometeer spaceship, Blake returned to a very different time, adding a further layer to his disconnection to his own people. Aside from guest appearances, Captain Comet sat out another decade-and-a-half before becoming a member of L.E.G.I.O.N., an interstellar security outfit. Once again, once that book went the way of the dodo, Captain Comet vanished until the mid-aughts. Today, Comet has become one of DC's more visible sci-fi heroes, through a series of mini-series grouping him with more same. Having been murdered and moving his consciousness into a new body, Blake isn't as powerful as he used to be, trading out for a more youthful form.

While not the most exceptionally written character, Captain Comet fascinates me as a creation fluttering around the edges of the mainstream, a man out of sync with his proper space and time. Where Captain America clearly longs for the years he lost after World War II, he happily embraced a new life in the modern era. Captain Comet from birth was surrounded by upright monkeys evolutionarily beneath himself, sought understanding in the stars, but has yet to find a permanent place anywhere. Returning to an America left in the McCarthy era and found in the "Me Generation," Blake seemed to take our radical social upheaval in stride, a trifling thing by his standards. In an era largely without super-heroes, Captain Comet was one of the few we had, and carries with him a unique historical relevance and perspective. He remains bursting with untapped potential and deserving of more attention, if only from a Bantam-Blog...

1985 Who's Who Vol.IV: Captain Comet (6/85)
1991 Who's Who in the DC Universe Update #8 Captain Comet Profile

Strange Adventures #9: "The Origin of Captain Comet!" (June 1951)
Strange Adventures #10: "The Air Bandits From Space!" (July 1951)
Strange Adventures #17: "Beware the Synthetic Men!" (February 1952)
Secret Origins Annual #1: "The Secret Origin of Captain Comet" (1987)
DC Challenge #5 (2/1986)
DC Challenge #6 (April, 1986)

Secret Origins Annual #1: "The Secret Origin of Captain Comet" (1987)
The Comic Book Heroes: The Return of the Heroes

Captain Comet Postcard by George Pérez
1990 Steve Lightle Captain Comet Sketch

Fan Fiction/Internet Adventures
John Jones in "Last Stand of the Lizard-Men"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Diabolu Frank Challenges All DC Bloggers!

Tonight I'll be taking a break from my regular blogging to offer up a proposal. If you or someone you know runs a blog featuring DC Comics inclusive comic book related content, I'd like to extend an invitation to take part in a relatively large scale crossover. Here's an edited version of my original pitch, first sent out to folks the week before Thanksgiving...

Greetings fellow blogger! I'm Frank Diabolu, and you may know me from such information superhighway personal interweb electronic log journals as Justice League Detroit: The Blog, ...nurgh..., and The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a blog for J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars! What you may not know is that you and I are not the only isolated, obsessive-compulsive comic book enthusiasts with virtual presences, but merely part of a sort of virtual community of same. In fact, emulating actual comic book universes, some such bloggers occasionally have themed "events," a perfect opportunity to exploit the desire for still-mostly-introverted camaraderie and hijack the readership of others. I can speak to its virtues through my personal experiences with canny promotions enriching experiences like Crisis on Earth-Blog and Crisis On Earth-Blog: Super Powers Collection 25th Anniversary! It's splendtafulous!

Alright, enough with the Troy McClure shtick. I personally haven't run one of these shindigs before, but I thought it might be nice to give it a try. Most people receiving this email have already participated, and have at least one DC-centric blog. I'm going to try to expand our circle some more though, and there are enough characters to go around that non-specific blogs can "adopt" to join in. There will also be different MPAA-style "rated" blogs (my Idol-Head is pretty PG, while ...nurgh... is a soft "R,") but I can work to make sure all-ages blogs aren't contaminated with more mature links. My take is to be a bit more interactive by running a "scavenger hunt" where readers can bounce from blog to blog, advancing by answering trivia questions or solving other puzzles, usually related to the DC Comics character your blog would represent. Right answers would bring readers closer to "lush scans from two obscure pin-ups featuring every major character involved in this event," hosted by a site I don't run TBA. For the longest time, I considered giving away stuff, like a complete set of the DC Challenge mini-series, but realized too much trouble and personal information trafficking would be involved. Instead, we'll keep it neat, fun, and coast on the high end of our average daily hit counts.

I'll be happy to provide all the necessary art, text and html, making this a free "day off" for the daily blogger. Folks can contribute as much as they'd like, though, preferably at least the questions and correct answers, and as difficult as you want.

I ask that everyone try to post around the same time, but there should be enough participants that the only problem would be if the "winner" site failed to publish. As I said, everyone will receive a 400 pixel wide detail from the piece, and everyone would be free to post the full image (which I'll host on Photobucket) on their blog after observing a respectable waiting period for the sake of the "winning" blog.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far, and I hope you consider joining in.

I didn't appreciate how complex my own premise was, so the initial early December date slipped, then mid-month, and I finally decided to declare a hiatus for the holidays. I've begun contacting the authors of the sixteen or so blogs that confirmed they'd like to participate this week. However, some are easier to reach and more enthusiastic than others, and since I doubt I'll ever run such a crossover again, I'd like this to be as convoluted and insane as possible. That's why I'm flinging the doors open with an open call to whoever has an interest in joining the fun.

Here's more details I sent out to those blogs...

I don't want to suffocate anyone here with a specific structure. We all have our own styles, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to do their own thing. To that end, if you would prefer to use anagrams, crossword puzzles, Java-enabled hangman, madlibs, dirty limericks-- whatever challenge you want to present to your readers, so long as you do your own work and link out to everyone else, is alright with me. In fact, if challenges aren't your style, and you just want to ramble about how you hate every character in this event, roll how you want. Take the picture I give you, post the links, and make the rest your own.

Interested parties are urged to contact me directly at . The event is scheduled for February 1, 2010, and is enough of a pain that I actually built a new blog just to offer participants a tutorial/FAQ to help them along. Consider that fair warning of what you'd be getting into. Also, most of the better DC Universe characters are already taken, so you'd better have sincere love in your heart for C and D-listers...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Secret Origins Annual #1: "The Secret Origin of Captain Comet" (1987)

Cover detail by John Byrne

Golden Age comics weren't nearly as sanitary as most folks seem to think, but writer/historians like Roy Thomas managed to regurgitate their tales through the filter of bland Silver Age Comics Code Approved drivel throughout the 70s and 80s, spoiling these greats for a generation or two.

While DC celebrated its 50th anniversary with character deaths and revision/deconstruction, sometimes documented in the front of Secret Origins, the back was devoted to dry recitation of yellowed tales about characters dismissed as too inherently dated to rate an update. Instead of the most dynamic and lush artists of the Golden Age drawing these heroes, Secret Origins had bottom feeders whose clinical, impersonal styles had fallen out of favor at DC after twenty years as an anchor around the company's neck.

For instance, there's Captain Comet, appearing in a tale by Thomas and Ron Harris with poorly meshing inks by the usually swell Bruce D. Patterson. Following a revised Doom Patrol origin by Paul Kupperberg and John Byrne in his prime, Comet couldn't have been more offputting and pedestrian.

The retelling opens in 1951, with a grim, more detailed description of the onslaught of the giant tops that were originally set-up at the end of Strange Adventures #9: "The Origin of Captain Comet!" (June 1951). Captain Comet then makes a more visually dramatic debut, crashing through a police barricade at super speed. At a sprawling Midwestern university, Professor Emery Zackro heard the news on the radio, and launched into a fairly faithful flashback to Comet's first story (which was told in chronological order.) Now, the first version was drawn by Carmine Infantino, and though not as expressive as he would be in later years on The Flash or Adam Strange in Mystery In Space, was still a beaut'. Harris' take could only have been more bland if he didn't have Patterson's embellishment, and his mustache on Zackro is so long and straight it breaks panel borders. Running the same number of pages as Comet's two-part debut, this version still seems drawn out and slow moving. There's greater detail being imparted, but it proves unnecessary baggage. Also, the gangster's bullet bounces off Adam Blake's brow instead of his chest, all the better to fit it in long, skinny panels. Though quite faithful to the original's plot, the storytelling here lacks the bounce.

Another important distinction is that the seeming subtext of Broome's seminal story is dialed down to a barely audible hum. Look at Broome's opening captions and Blake's emotionally troubled reaction to his mutation separating him from all of humanity. However evolved Blake may be, he's clearly lost something essential to modern man that plagues him. Whether he was gay, had a micropenis or hid a skirt under his spacesuit is unknown to me, but at least by 1951 standards, there has got to be something "wrong" with Blake for him to whine at a Stan Lee reading level. I lean toward closeted homosexuality, myself. For instance, Blake saves a hot blond from a dangerous fall with his telekinesis, and then proceeds to not score with the chick, who never appeared again. What red-blooded hetro would allow such a bird to escape? But no, Blake runs to Prof. Zackro, an apparently unmarried older fop with dandy Victorian facial hair. Zackro helps instill in Blake a fear of ever revealing his terrible "secret," and how the media attention it would cause would ruin his life.

Combining a belt with suspenders wouldn't be the choice of a queer eye, but his asymmetrical winged buckle was to die for! That belt sure doesn't get in the way of Blake's casually disrobing in front of Prof. Zackro, with whom he soon comes to live. Yep, just two straight guys, living together, teacher and student, sharing a "secret" they mustn't share, and all with no women in sight. Sure. Move over Northstar, because the granddaddy of metaGLBT wants to finally out himself, right?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Aquaman WB series fan intro and Dr. Katz skit

I'm a guy who stopped swimming for the most part in my early teens, hate the beach, and typically stick with showers-- but likes Aquaman. Well, I liked to swim as a kid, and I'd spend hours in the tub with my action figures, so maybe if I could get my He-Man groove on again... Anyway, Aquaman's like the patron super-hero of unfulfilled potential/inadequacy-- a character everyone knows of but few give enough of a shit about to ridicule. If you've read the comics, you might know he's also manic-depressive, passive-aggressive, and has lived one of the worst lives possible for a crime fighter. Not only was his WB pilot not picked up, but it wasn't even called "Aquaman." Available on ITunes for $2, "Mercy Reef" was named for the place where Aquaman's family left him to die as an infant because his blonde hair was seen as a curse. See, queen mom had an adulterous affair with an ancient sorcerer, and Aquaman survived to be raised by dolphins-- look, it's complicated. Point being, I like Aquaman, and it sucks to be him, so today's Aquaman appreciation day. Sure, the first video is of Dave Chapelle ripping on him, and the second is an unauthorized fan generated opening sequence for the nonexistant TV series, but its all done with love.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Strange Adventures #10: "The Air Bandits From Space!" (July 1951)

People on Earth were dying from lack of air! Mysterious machines had landed-- invulnerable to attack-- that were drawing away the world's precious atmosphere! But in the fearful crisis, Earth found its champion-- the extraordinary and heroic Captain Comet-- who alone of all humans possessed unique futuristic abilities that enabled The Man of Destiny to seek out and defy an incredible enemy that none could withstand...
by John Broome (writing as Edgar Ray Merritt,) Carmine Infantino & Bernard Sachs.

As reported previously, and repeated here by a haggard reporter out of "Las Negas," six giant spinning tops would siphon all the planet's air within a day, emitted radiation that put approaching humans down, and shrugged off a-bombs. Humanities only hope was Captain Comet, who had just visited the city to combat this threat.

Back in an unidentified Midwest city, Professor Emery Zackro listened to the report over the radio. He recalled giving Adam Blake three times the amount of poison to kill a normal man, but left the future Captain Comet unaffected. "It must be that my futuristic body is immune is immune to this acid!" This had been yet another test of Blake's abilities, which were proven again when lethal radiation from the top left Captain Comet with only a slight tingle as he raced toward against its desert trek. Comet ripped the otherwise impervious metal skin of the top with his bear hands, making his own entrance into its belly. Captain Comet determined there was nothing inside but machinery, as it was being remote controlled.

Exiting the top, Captain Comet used a blackened piece of glass and his own incredible vision to see the radiomagnetic waves controlling the top came from near the moon! Swiftly returning to Zackro's lab, Comet constructed a spaceship with 200,000 horsepower. In minutes, this "Cometeer" craft sped its master to the dark side of the moon, where the Captain found an alien vessel larger than a terrestrial ocean liner! Maneuvering through an open hatch, the Cometeer landed inside, where the Man of Destiny found hundreds of humanoid aliens in suspended animation! The craft seemed to be running on auto-pilot, but one alien awoke. "Ana dok? Who's there?"

Making instant telepathic contact, Blake learned this was "Harun... leader of the Astur race... This creature has a brain almost equal to mine in power!" The Astur were a peaceful lot from an airless world, until a passing star caused "landquakes," forcing scientist-leader Harun to evacuate the population. Over a thousand years later, the ship's auto-pilot found Earth an acceptable replacement world-- once all that air was removed! Captain Comet girded himself for fisticuffs, but that option was dismissed by Harun. Instead, they would play a game of Echek, in which the first person to pick a white pellet blindly from a vase containing 100,000 black pellets makes the other their slave. Harun could detect the difference in weight from black to white pellet, and picked a winner in his fourth try. However, Captain Comet's fingertips were so sensitive, they could detect differences in color, and pullet a white pellet on the first try.

A poor sport, Harun whelched on the bet and fled the room. Captain Comet killed the tops' remote control, then pursued. Harun tried to revive his people to kill Blake, but the Man of Destiny had already determined they were all dead, their corpses perfectly preserved for a century! Horrified, Harun committed suicide by throwing himself out an airlock. Blake tried to save him, but even he wasn't fast enough to beat the ravages of outer space. While in his Cometeer, the alien craft's auto-pilot reset, carrying a ship of the dead in search of a more hospitable world. "What irony!"

Blake returned to Zackro's lab to strip off his uniform and secretly enjoy the global acclaim lavished on Captain Comet!

This two part origin was a fun story with nice art, and is available in full here...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Frank Review of "200 Cigarettes" (1999)

The Short Version? New Year's Eve of the first MTV generation.
What Is It? Comedy.
Who Is In It? TNTL.
Should I See It? Yes.

I love New Year's Eve as a romantic ideal, but the reality of spending most of my adult life single with engaged friends was far removed from it. This involves drinking alone, dancing in a corner like a sad bar chick, eating convenience store burritos at 3 a.m., having homeless prostitutes demand to know whether you're trying to trick on their corner, and walking off a buzz through constructions yards and dangerous slums before driving home to masturbate. It's sitting on the steps of the local techno/goth club, a might too enthusiastic to see that Hives video for the first time, just as a break from the boredom and ever-present stench of cigarettes, booze, and sweat. This might explain why this year, me and my girl stayed home, karaoke'd that Hives song on Singstar, watched fireworks while stone sober in our robes from the balcony, and watched 200 Cigarettes. To my mind, the movie perfectly captures the desperation New Year's generally instills in the unattached heart, and makes you glad to just stay home.

On NYE 1981, a whole shitload of famous faces play New Yorkers looking for love. Martha Plimpton is the Dickensian embodiment of the ghost of holiday anxiety, as she tries to gather friends for her party. Paul Rudd hadn't perfected his miserable asshole routine yet, and is too handsome for his part, but is the closest thing to a star in this ensemble piece. Courtney Love is surprisingly sympathetic as his train wreck gal pal. Jay Mohr might have been more believable in the Paul Rudd role, and vice versa, but instead plays another iteration of his usual narcissistic asshole routine. Christina Ricci provides the precocious jailbait, her specialty at the time, in this instance with a heavy Long Island accent. Brian McCardie also has accent to spare, as an Irish painter with a sexual problem. Ben Affleck works as a douchebag bartender who can't quite get it together. Casey Affleck and Guillermo Díaz are cute punks on the prowl. Janeane Garofalo cameos as, what else, a ballbusting ex.

Throughout the night, these characters and more tell tales that weave in and out of one another (*ahem*) before drawing to an only slightly directed close. Dave Chappelle helps tie it all together as the wizened cab driver, though MTV likely lost their balls and forced him to narrate all the ambiguity out of the closing moments. Kate Hudson is also here in an early role as the most out of place, forced zany character of the bunch. Otherwise, everyone acquits themselves well in this somewhat broad and ribald, but also perceptive comedy. Adding value is a choice selection of hits of the 80s, less novel after a decade of constant nostalgia airplay, but still a joy in context.

Extras? No.

Strange Adventures #9: "The Origin of Captain Comet!" (June 1951)

He was a mystery to himself! Why-- young Adam Blake wanted to know-- was he so different from other people? How did it happen that there was no one else like him in the whole wide world? Where did he really come from? Who was he? All these questions which might have unsettled an ordinary mind-- only served to whet the brain and steel the mettle of the extraordinary youth who, without knowing it, was fated to fulfill a grand and awe-inspiring destiny on Earth-- as Captain Comet-- First Man of the Future! Read now the starling story of...
by John Broome (writing as Edgar Ray Merritt,) Carmine Infantino & Bernard Sachs.

Two decades ago (about 1931,) a comet appeared over a Midwestern town as Adam Blake was born "in a small city amid humble surroundings." Named after his grandfather, Adam's dad expected great things with the comet as a good sign, but his mother admonished "Oh, John! Don't talk that way! All I want is for him to be just like everyone else!"

This was not to be, as Adam "just knew" things, like the location of missing objects, by age four. At eight, he could memorize whole textbooks in minutes. By high school, he could pick up a musical instrument, and figure out how to play it expertly in no time without any instruction. In college, no one could tackle him on the football field, as though he knew in advance where his opponents were headed.
But despite his successes, Adam was a lonely young man...

"I'm not like everyone else! I-- I try to be, but I'm not! And people sense it-- and avoid me!" Blake was capable of doing anything he set his mind to, almost effortlessly. Saving a beautiful classmate named Betty from a potentially deadly fall, Blake discoverd he could catch her telekinetically from yards away "by mental force!" Yet, he questioned why a person should have a power like that, and went to the wisest man he knew for help, physicist Professor Emery Zackro. The brilliant old fellow ran a battery of tests to determine Blake possessed powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, mind over matter, and a tireless, superhuman physique.

Zackro concluded, "You've heard, I'm sure, of human throwbacks-- men born today with the minds and bodies of the cavemen of 100,000 years ago! Well, think of the opposite of that... Scientifically, there's no reason why the opposite-- an accidental specimen of future man-- should not happen! It just never has, Adam-- till now! ...You are a mutant-- born by chance..."

Blake wasn't sure what to do with his gifts, though he hoped to benefit mankind. Zackro urged him to keep them under wraps for the present, until a considered decision could be made. In the meantime, Blake used his high intellect to correct errors in Zackro's "solar-reducer," a machine that could extract gold particles from sunlight. Randomly, Blake's breakthrough was made in earshot of gangsters who had been charting Zackro's development, and sought to kidnap this new kid genius. Fearless and possessed of exceptional ability, Blake fought off the men with his incredible strength and martial prowess. This led to gunfire, but Blake telekinetically slowed a bullet in midair, allowing it to bounce harmlessly off his chest. Blake finished the fisticuffs, and turned the three hoods over to police.

Later, Zackro bemoaned the foolishness, as his $10,000 machine would take over a year to collect $100 worth of gold. However, a lesson was learned-- that Blake's revealing his powers would only bring unscrupulous opportunists out of the woodwork. For safety, Zackro urged Blake to maintain his secret, and if he must employ his powers for good, to do so in a "new secret identity."

Meanwhile, giant tops began appearing around the globe, wrecking everything in their path, and shrugging off A-bombs without a scratch. This motivated Blake to don a colorful uniform and, inspired by the unknown comet that appeared at his birth, assume the name "Captain Comet." How he would fare against the tops would remain a mystery until the next episode...

A Frank Review of "Milk" (2008)

The Short Version? Gay hero worship.
What Is It? Docu-drama.
Who Is In It? Jeff Spicoli, Harry Osborn, Jonah Hex
Should I See It? Yes indeed.

Honestly, if you watch the trailer, and think you'll enjoy this movie, you're probably right. It represents a film about Harvey Milk's move from New York and closeted life to San Francisco and open campaigning for the better of the lives of his fellow homosexuals in the 1970s. It charts his struggle to gain elected office, his intimacies and trials with a pair of lovers, his clashes with notorious bigots, and his tragic end. It seems to be very authentic and fair minded, at least from the queer supporting faction, drawing from a variety of sources for an accurate, warts-and-all depiction. Sean Penn is convincing, James Franco and Emile Hirsch are adorable and supportive, while Josh Brolin continues to prove he's grown into one of the finest actors of his generation. Diego Luna is a bit taxing in a supporting role, but that's intentional. In fact, there really are no weak links in the cast, and the screenplay transcends the usual bio-pic motions. Director Gus Van Sant is typically sensitive, thoughtful, and artistic in his presentation, though literal operatic turns toward the end of the film are downright hoary. Regardless, the film is admirable, and must watching for the liberal minded.


  • Deleted Scenes A very brief look at some reasonable but unnecessary scenes. Far less gratuitous than these things usually are. 
  • Remembering Harvey...
  • Hollywood Comes To San Francisco...
  • Marching For Equality... equals three short featurettes that should have probably been edited together into one behind-the-scenes/interview piece. The real gay leaders depicted in the film sing Milk's and Milk's praises. Considering you've got the men who created the AIDS quilt and rainbow gay pride flag calling Milk the Martin Luther King of LGBT rights, I figure he rates your consideration. All are recommended.


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