Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Comics! The Doctor is in!


A slim week for Pepito's stolen comics this week ... although not slim enough to prevent him from sniffing out at least SOME crap! He picked out this new J. Michael Straczynski hack-job 'Bullet Points,' after all ...

.... Still, some of the crap he picked out didn't LOOK like crap on the surface. This is certainly true of the latest 52, which was boring, hyperventilated, and completely unsatisfying.

I've noticed this about '52' - some of the issues (like the last one) work perfectly, managing to deliver an enjoyable comic book while at the same time being part of a much larger storyline. And some of them both don't do that and also suck. This was such an issue.

There's a lot of shouting in it - poor, bereaved Elongated Man gets the vengeance-inflicting powers of the Spectre just long enough to make the soul of his wife's murderer suffer for all e-teerrrrrnity, and Eclipso comes in for a bit, dunno why ...

But the issue wasn't a total loss: it had a wonderful backup feature detailing the origin of Black Canary, with rip-snorting good pencils by the mighty Howard Chaykin. Which made me wistful! Chaykin seems to be 'back' - willing and able to do mainstream comic work ... so why not a mini-series about the original Black Canary, the mother of the current one? That would be Canar-ific!

And even Pepito, with his crap-sense tingling, couldn't pass up the second issue of the great new Doctor Strange mini-series 'The Oath.'

The thing I love about this title is that its writer, Brian Vaughan, is smart enough not to re-invent the wheel. His Stephen Strange is looser and funnier than any previous incarnation (hands-down favorite line of comic book dialogue in 2006 happens in this issue: when confronted with a cadre of killer robots, the good doctor says "By the hoary #%*-ing hosts!" Hee), but he's still the same character Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created decades ago, and for good reason: that character works.

So, no 'he's really an alien' or 'secondary mutations' or any of that nonsense. This is still the man who was a brilliant but arrogant surgeon, who lost the skill of his hands in a car accident, and he learned the mystic arts from the Ancient One. In fact, this issue's best sequence is a flashback showing us just how big a jerk the pre-accident Stephen Strange was.

(and post-accident, as when the recovering Strange says he feels 'like suing whoever made seatbelts too damned uncomfortable for any reasonable man to wear')

Two things are certain about this mini-series: first, it will be collected in a nice trade paperback (so Pepito really shouldn't be buying it, but let's not tell him that)(he won't read it here, since this site has nothing to do with Menudo), and second, it will certainly re-launch a monthly Doctor Strange comic - let's hope the creators of the mini-series stay on board!

Let's finish up with some Doctor Strange trivia, to keep my little marmosets on their toes:

1. The presence of the Night Nurse in this issue raises the question: how many super-heroes have also been practicing members of the medical community? A full list, from memory!

2. In addition to his vast mystic abilities (learned from the Ancient One) and his considerable martial arts abilities (learned from who knows who - there's a great mini-series to be mined from the time when Strange and Mordo were students), Doctor Strange also has one other rather unusual superhero-trait. From memory, no peeking - what is it?

3. The good doctor knows at least one real-world literary giant - who can tell me who it is?

OK ... by the Vapors of Valtorr, by the hosts of Hoggoth, and by the Belches of Beepy, that's all for now!

12 comments:

Jeff E. said...

Since I can only think of about 25 superheroes off the top of my head, I'm just going to hazard a weak guess as to one who was a member of the medical community. I don't know what Bruce Banner was trying to develop when he made the hulk serum, but it leads me to believe he's a medical scientist.

steve said...

beginner! Much distance you have to go, before you a comic geek are!

Kevin Caron said...

1. Let's see - members of the medical community...

Well, there's Thor, of course (as Dr. Don Blake). Uh...

Wait - Jeff didn't just say 'Hulk Serum', did he? No, concentrate, CONCENTRATE!

Okay, there's "Antibody" (Dr. Randy O'Brien, of DP7 fame...) Some X-men character named "Dr. Celia Reyes" - (I don't know if she ended up with a codename or not)... Was the Negative Man from Doom Patrol a medical doctor? I can't remember... Dr. Pym clearly has his doctorate, but he's not a medical doctor, is he? Seems like more of a chemist. I'm assuming Moira McTaggert doesn't count, as she isn't really a superhero... Drawin' a big ol' blank, beyond that (surely I'm forgetting a TON of DC characters...) I think it was implied that Kent Shakespeare (V4 Legion) was a doctor, and Brainiac 5 is a medical doctor, among a million other scientific pursuits...

2. Man - I never even knew he was supposed to be some kind of martial arts master - I mean, he can project his astral form, and do some neat tricks with the Eye of Agamato, but I can't think of anything non-mystical he can do...

3. Oh, jeeze - Should I even guess? Wait, maybe I do remember something - it had to have involved time travel - Mark Twain, maybe?

Dang. I did terrible on those (though I did resist the urge to cheat!) and I've clearly been a poor superhero-lore mentor to Jeffy. This was supposed to make me feel like a smarty pants! Oh well. I guess I'll have to wait for some Beatles trivia.

Kevin Caron said...

Crap. Looks like I was thinking of Ben Franklin - and it wasn't even him, was it? It turned out to be 'Stygyro'. Well, I now know the correct answer, anyway.

And Larry Trainor was, of course, a test pilot - why the heck did I think he was a doctor?

Oh well.

steve said...

A) Jeff, you certainly DON'T know the correct answer, since it hasn't yet been offered on this site

and

B) yes, you read correctly: Jeff did indeed mention a 'hulk serum.' I, too, find it hard to concentrate on anything else, having read that. We must remind ourselves that he's at least deserving of our pity...

steve said...

that having been said, you, Jeff, did indeed make a horrid hash of this latest comics quiz (although your insistence on not cheating does you credit)!

How about if I GIVE you one answer? The famous author in question isn't Ben Franklin (strictly speaking, it's only Clea who, er, MEETS him), it's Tom Wolfe ...

But as for the rest - surely if you rack your brains?

For instance, Thor doesn't count, since I made no allowance for alter-egos, but ... surely SOME other figures come to mind?

What about if I widen the margins to include psychiatrists? Surely that'll suggest two Marvel characters right off the bat?

Jeff E. said...

Ok, after all that razzing I had to see what you were up in arms about. So I see Banner was NOT a medical scientist in the comic books . . . but didn't he inject himself with something during the opening montage of the TV show?

Kevin Caron said...

Pssst - the TV show origin doesn't count! I'll give you a hint - you don't have to be a rocket scientist to turn into the Hulk, but it helps...

If we're broadening the field, we can add Doc Sampson, duh. And, uh, aw, forget it. Too early in the morning.

Jeff E. said...

Well, I looked it up so I know what he was in the comics now. I was hoping someone would confirm that self-injection was the cause on the TV show 'cuz I can't find that on the web. I have this vague memory of watching the show when I was young, seeing him get the injections, and thinking, "Well, there's your problem right there."

Kevin Caron said...

He is called a "physician" in the opening credits, and though he is clearly experimenting on himself (in sort of a demented dentist's chair) in order to "unlock the hidden strengths that all humans have", he never injects anything - it's an accidental over-exposure to gamma radiation that does the trick (which is similar to the comics, just not from a bomb). It's strange to me that neither the TV show or the movie uses the Gamma Bomb in his origin - it'd be a great visual, for one thing (the bomb goes off, shooting a wave of gamma radiation thru banner, while Betty watches in horror through a viewing window in the bunker) - what, are we afraid to offend those who are pro-bomb?

locke said...

[Wait - Jeff didn't just say 'Hulk Serum', did he? No, concentrate, CONCENTRATE!]

this made me laugh the most of anything I've ever read on this site...

steve said...

And dear, determined Jeff didn't just say 'Hulk serum' ONCE - he's KEPT AT IT! Did Stan and Jack labor IN VAIN???