A Spot of Adventure: The In-Between Age


Most people agree upon the periods of the Golden Age and the Silver Age of Comics, though there’s room for argument as to the Ages that have followed. The Golden Age, from Action 1 to All-Star 57, covers the years 1938 to 1950, whilst the Silver Age starts with Showcase 4 in 1956. That leaves a gap that has never been tagged onto any Age, metallic or otherwise.
For the second instalment of my review of Adventure Comics, I’m calling the period in question the In-Between Age, and I plan to go up to 1958, for two reasons. One is that, although the Barry Allen Flash debuted in 1956, he only made four appearances in three years before finally being unleashed on his own series, in 1959. I’d call that the true beginning of the Silver Age, but before that, in 1958, National would introduce a new idea in the pages of Adventure that was as Silver Age as you could wish. This essay covers the years leading up to then.
We begin with issue 167. The Shining Knight was fallen casualty to the times, leaving Adventure with a line-up, front to back, of Superboy, Aquaman, Johnny Quick and The Green Arrow (still with the definite article). Superboy has the perky, red-headed teenage beauty Lana Lang trying to uncover his secret identity, just as his adult contemporary has Lois Lane, and Lana gets the idea into her pretty head that an ancient helmet brought home by her archaeologist parents gives her Superboy-esque powers. Instead of just taking her for a long, slow ride at the next hayride and enjoying some enthusiastic smooching, Superboy has to pretend the helmet works to keep her from getting the right idea about why a robber’s bullet just bounced off him. Silly boy.
Lana was a seeming fixture for a few issues but then dropped out, which was a shame because she brought an element of personality to Superboy’s strip. It was still a mostly domestic strip, calling for no great effort on the kid’s powers but without the pretty redhead it was empty.
Indeed, going into 1952, the comic as a whole was dull. Aquaman, who was clearly the favourite of the DVD maker who manages to come up with the Sea King’s story even when nothing else of an issue is available, tends to fight pirates, Green Arrow and Speedy can’t even come up with new trick arrows anymore, and only Johnny Quick comes up with an interesting read, mainly because it still hearkens to its Golden Age look instead of the bloodless DC art of the era.
I’ll mention the story in issue 181, which featured Joannie Swift, Queen of Speed. Joannie is a typist who accidentally gains the same powers as Johnnie when a list of equations she reads out duplicates his Magic Formula. Joannie turns out to be brave, resourceful, athletic, intelligent, in short bloody good at being a super-speedster. Johnnie only wants her to go away, at first to save her from injury because, being a girl, she’s bound to be a weakling, but, as soon as he realises she knows her stuff, a rather too revelatory reason comes out: Johnnie doesn’t want to turn out second best to her.
Of course, that fate will never happen because, inevitably, Joannie’s afraid of mice, which causes her to forget the Formula. So, instead of a skilful, brave, worthy foe of crime, using her potential to the fill, Ms Swift is condemned to go back to the steno pool, because she’s a girl. Sometimes this stuff can make you want to barf.

Johnny Quick

Meanwhile, a whole year of the DVD goes by with only two complete issues but with every Aquaman story. These are formulaic, uninspired affairs, six pages of nothing: no wonder DC struggled in the early Fifties. Piracy still turned up, but also silly ideas like Aquaman running an undersea hospital or an undersea fire service.
When full service resumes, for a while, in issue 201, there’s another delightful Lana Lang story, with Superboy thinking he’s blown his secret identity to her Dad, and so relieved to find he’s wrong, he welcomes Lana’s determined pursuit of his secret: just kiss her, you chump, she’d be a great girlfriend.
The American comic book package started off at 64 pages. Thanks to paper restrictions during the Second World war, it was reduced to 56 pages, and then to 48, all at 10c, irrespective of size. But with issue 205, Adventure Comics was reduced to the 32 page size that’s been standard ever since. Johnny Quick missed out, though he returned the following issue at the expense of Green Arrow. But his final appearance was in issue 207, sadly not on the DVD. Henceforth, Adventure had only three features, and if I say that Superboy is the pick of them, you’ll appreciate how dull it is.
There was a landmark story in issue 210, with the initially temporary appearance of Krypto, the Superdog, nearly giving Clark Kent’s other identity away again to guess who? This was the only story for that issue, whereas next time we only had the Aquaman so I can’t say whether it was that or its absent predecessor where Aquaman switched from yellow gauntlets to the green ones we know so well. Either way, he was back to yellow for issue 212, that is, when he was coloured at all in a bizarre approach that saw him monocoloured pale blue in the majority of panels. Nobody seemed to be able to make up their mind as green and yellow alternated. Meanwhile, Krypto returned in issue 214 to prove that stories of the Superdog were likely to be pretty stupid.

A typical Aquaman plot

The Superboy story in issue 216 had the Lad of Steel meeting Superman without time travel, but its twist was that the adult version was really archaeologist Professor Olsen. Rescuing him endeared Superboy to Olsen’s young son, Jimmy… And speaking of costume changes, Green Arrow started wearing a red cap as opposed to his usual green one in the occasional story.
Frustratingly, Superboy’s real parents, Jor-El and Lara turned up in issue 217, having escaped Krypton after all, preparing to take their son to their new off-world home. It’s a trick alright, from Superboy’s callous ignoring of the Kents to the con on death row who pieces together his identity as Clark Kent, even down to how the Els are only seen flying when Superboy is holding their arms, but this was a very rare two-part story and we only have Aquaman for issue 218.
One of the interesting aspects of reading Adventure during this period (it’s more fun than the two back-ups) are the in-house ads for DC titles of the In-Between Age. Lists and covers of all manner of titles unwanted and forgotten, a publishing era lost permanently. But the cusp of change is approaching. Issue 22 carries an ad for yet another new title, starring Fireman Farrell. He never set the world alight, and we know that the ad is full of lies when it describes the new comic as a response to all those reader letters requesting different subjects, requiring a new kind of comic to fit them all in. We know that the real reason was to try to control the losses, both in money and reputation, from the way nothing new was catching on. Fireman Farrell was the first subject, the star of Showcase 1. In six months time…
In fact, the Showcase ads are fascinating. No-one ever cares about the first three, overshadowed utterly by no 4. The second issue featured Kings of the Wild, three outdoor adventures. These adverts are a history lesson in themselves.
So they stop printing inhouse ads at all, and I don’t get to see 3, or 4, come to that. Has nobody any sense of responsibility to future generations?
Meanwhile, the Aquaman and Green Arrow strips are growing dumber. Aquaman no longer has to pursue pirates, not when his time can be taken up with nonsensical ‘stories’ about how he schools his finny friends to obey his instructions or how he apparently turns into an egomaniac except it’s all a secret scheme, whilst the Battling Bowmen go trading places with other archers or else emulate their own trading cards. Truly this was an age of inanity.
Superboy’s own series continued to be both silly and sententious, but the occasional nice moment came along. Taking advantage of the fact that a leaking special gas would give everybody amnesia for an hour, the Boy of Steel decided to reveal he was really Clark Kent to test if a secret identity was more of a burden than a benefit which, this being DC Comics in 1957 it self-evidently was a benefit. But there was a touching moment when Lana, the teenage pest so set on proving Clark and Superboy were one and the same, began to cry at the proof – because Clark was a dear friend and she would never see him again.
I had a surprise in issue 239, which saw Krypto’s return, for I had read this story before, a very long time ago. Not in Adventure but in a British Superboy hardback annual, reprinting this in black and white. The first in well over a hundred Superboy stories that I had previously seen.
And harking back to Lana’s genuine distress at the thought of losing her dear friend Clark, how does the Boy of Steel repay her in issue 240? By becoming as big a Superdick as his adult self and humiliating her in front of all of Smallville to conceal his secret identity. What did I say about this stuff making you want to barf?
Obviously Lana got over it by the next issue, in which Green Arrow and Speedy were joined by Queen Arrow, aka Diana Dare (any relation to Dan?), who temporarily hypnotised herself into acting out her deepest desire, namely to be told by her heroes that what they do is too dangerous for a girl. Once he joined the Justice League, did Ollie ever try that line on Wonder Woman?

Some superheroes, huh?

Issue 243 is the last complete comic for this section, the next three issues represented by one story only, two of them the simultaneously tedious and ridiculous Aquaman. The last of these is cover-dated March 1958, making its actual publication most likely January of that year. Two issues of Showcase thus far have featured The new Flash. Two more would appear this year. The Silver Age was cranking up for the off. The next issue of Adventure would see a change that I’ll explore in the third essay in this series.

Uncollected Thoughts: Batwoman s01 e01


She doesn’t look like this this week…

This year, it’s going to be an odd Autumn. Or I should call it Fall, since that’s the American word for it. Usually I’m gearing up for the new series but not now. The Big Bang Theory has ended and the DC ‘Arrowverse’ shows have finally bored me out of watching them. The Flash‘s sententiousness, Legends of Tomorrow‘s sink into farce, I really can’t be arsed any more.

But there’s a new show in town and that’s Batwoman, starring Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, cousin to Bruce Wayne, spinning out of her appearance in last year’s Crisis on Earth-X  crossover.

It’s taken a while to get here and I’m intrigued enough to give it the Four Episode Test, and this is the first.

The set-up is that three years ago, Batman disappeared. So too did BruceWayne but nobody connected the two. Gotham is now defended by Crowe Security, a private firm created by Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott): very professional, very Hi-Tech. But into Gotham erupts the mad girl, Alice (Rachel Skarsen, once of the short-lived Birds of Prey series) with her Wonderland Gang, kidnapping Crowe operative, Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy).

This draws back Kane’s daughter Kate, who’s been honing her combat/survival skills in order to join the operation. Kate, the only living relative of Bruce Wayne, is an intense, independent woman and openly lesbian. In military training, she and Sophie were in love, against the rules (Kate doesn’t like rules…), only Sophie signed the form when they were busted and stayed on whilst Kate was expelled.

Kate’s back to track down Sophie. She’s haunted by her own family tragedy: a murderous attack on the family car, Kate escaped, Batman abandoned them, her mother and her sister Beth left to drown. But that’s not the truth: something went wrong, the tragedy haunted Batman/Bruce.

All this is discovered when Kate breaks into the now shut-down Wayne Enterprises building, all this still functioning Hi-Tech guarded by one ineffectual security guard, Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson, doing a modified version of Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt on Arrow). Kate discovers cousin Bruce’s secret and has his suit adapted to fit her much smaller, lithe frame, to save Sophie from Alice.

So that sets up Batwoman in her quest to track down and neutralise Alice, who she suddenly realises, in one of those flash-of-inspiration moments, is her long-thought dead sister Beth.

I’m going to mark that last bit down as too-cliched-for-words. I’m also reserving judgement on Kate’s ‘don’t like rules’ schtick, because the maverick who does things their own way borders too closely onto the asshole who wants their own way all the time, no matter what damage they cause. Otherwise, the set-up is cool, slick and, insofar as anything like this can be, realistic. Let’s see where it goes.

A Spot of Adventure: The Golden Age


This third post about a Golden Age comic featuring characters who were members of the Justice Society of America will sadly be different to those I wrote about Flash Comics and All-American Comics. It’s nothing to do with Adventure Comics being published by Detective Comics Inc., rather than All-American Publications, and therefore falling under Harry Donenfeld’s purview instead of Charley Gaines. Rather it’s a fundamental difference in both the comic and the DVD.
This time, I’m not working from a complete run: Adventure was not cancelled nor turned into a Western title. Instead, it continued uninterrupted through the Fifties and well beyond, to 1983 before its first cancellation after 490 issues. The period I’m seriously interested in is the Golden Age era of characters like The Sandman, Hourman and Starman, beginning with issue 40 and continuing to issue 102, after which there was a radical change of content, with Adventure becoming a vehicle for Superboy, at first as a solo star and from 1959 as part of the Legion of Superheroes.
The DVD starts with issue 40 and its run over those sixty two issues is far from complete, neither in numbers nor complete issues. I confess to little interest in the post 1946 Superboy era. But I’ll run my eye over it and comment.
As a prelude to the first issue on the DVD, and cribbing shamelessly from Wikipedia, I’ll quickly summarise the pre-history. The comic started as New Comics in 1938, a humour comic. It was re-named New Adventure Comics with issue 12, before adopting Adventure from issue 32 onwards. It evolved into an adventure series, including stories about futuristic scientist-detective Jor-L, a year before Superman debuted, and arrived at a superhero series with the introduction of The Sandman in issue 40.
Which is where I come in.
The Sandman went straight onto the cover of Adventure 40, the pulp detective figure in business suit, cape and gasmask, exactly as we know him now… except that the suit is orange, not green, and the fedora green, not orange. The story, which I’ve seen before in reprint, is credited to Larry Dean but it’s actually by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman. Apart from a surprisingly slow and atmospheric sequence where Wesley Dodd (not Dodds) mooches round his house and leaves a doll in his bed before cracking open the secret tunnel to The Sandman’s lab, it’s not a good story, naïve simple, uninterestingly drawn. It’s just a start.
The rest of the issue is undistinguished. Tiny is a one-page cartoon about a tough-talking, tough-acting bulldog, Barry O’Neill an ongoing serial about some kind of crime buster and Federal Men an FBI story about G-Man Steve Carson that’s interesting only for being by Siegel and Shuster. These are all in full colour, but Jack Woods, a cowboy serial, offered two pages of monocolour, all red shades, like Victor and Hornet used to, before dropping to B&W, and Captain Deesmo, an aviator series, was B&W throughout. Don Coyote, a cartoon two-pager set in some vague and implausible Sixteenth Century Britain that looks like Camelot, was full colour, and dreadfully silly, but it was back to B&W for Bulldog Martin, a broad-shouldered amateur troubleshooter, and Socko Strong, a boxer. Back to colour for Skip Schuyler, Government Agent, and the rather more Terry and the Pirates-esque Rusty and his Pals, which was credited to Bob Kane. Last up was Anchors Aweigh!, starring Don and Red, two Navy adventurers.
In short, the line-up, as might be expected, was a bunch of adventurers in various genres, with art and stories crudely ripped off from newspaper strips. Nothing stands out as more than enthusiastic, or crudely energetic and, The Sandman aside, nothing is interesting except to see the likes of Siegel and Shuster and Kane on series that didn’t make them famous. Adventure 40 was cover dated July 1939, making it contemporaneous with Action 14, and two months after Batman’s debut in Detective 27. The next complete issue available is Adventure 70: long before then, I’m pretty sure neither Federal Men nor Rusty continued.

Next available issue, no. 48 is represented only by the six-page debut of Hour-Man, and not even from Adventure but its reprint in a 1974 Giant-Size Justice League of America comic I once had. Issue 51 is represented only by the ten-page Sandman adventure, by which time art is by Craig Fleishman and it’s all running, jumping and leaping. And issue 57 offers only an eight-page Hour-Man adventure, featuring his buddies the Minute-Men of America and introducing his recurring enemy, Dr Togg.
From Adventure 61 onwards, the DVD offers a solid run of consecutive issues, but these are no more complete. This issue was Starman’s debut, catapulted onto the cover to displace The Sandman, and of course expected to be Detective Comics’ next break-out star, to stand alongside Superman and Batman. Jack Burnley’s art distinguished the feature, being by one of the best Golden Age artists there was. The run consists of no more than the Starman series, not of itself a hardship, until issue 70.
Unfortunately, apart from all these Sandman and Hour-Man adventures we’re missing, the debut of The Shining Knight in issue 67 also goes by offstage.
From various reprints down the years, I was already familiar with a couple of the stories in this initial eight-issue run, so this was my first chance to really see Starman in solo action. The highlight is Jack Burnley’s art, intelligent, well-rounded and anatomically superior to everyone else around him. It’s too simplistic overall to be termed photorealism but it goes closer to that than any other comics artist of the era in its avoidance of exaggeration. The stories? I can be quite as enthusiastic about them. As short adventures, they’re usually competent at worst, and Starman’s wise-cracking is a foretaste of the likes of Spider-Man.
On the other hand, Ted Knight’s self-portrayal as a hypochondriac weakling is laid on with a fourteen foot trowel. That’s not so bad in itself, but it begs the question why his fiancee, Doris Lee, an attractive, forthright, intelligent young woman, puts up with him for more than one story, given that most people faced with such a weak wuss, convinced he’s got every malady under the sun whilst actually being physically hale, would have concluded that the only thing wrong with him was the absence of a spine and given him the very elegant pointed-toe sandal in the unmentionables.
Either that or concluded that he’s a hopeless addict forever racing off for his fix.
In contrast, issue 70 is a complete comic, with The Shining Knight appearing next after Starman. It’s my first solo story with the Knight, and interesting for that, but it’s a slapdash effort with a bits and pieces story, and I found it weird that Justin, museum assistant, talks natural American English when he’s in street clobber but slips back into ‘Forsooth’ language the moment he gets his armour on, and comments on it!

Though he’d been bounced out of the Justice Society by Starman, Tick-Tock Tyler is still around as The Hour Man, minus the hyphen. Bernard Bailey’s art is a bit more sophisticated when it comes to faces, and he’s drawing Hour Man’s hood as a tight-fitting cowl and eye-mask, which I’ve certainly never seen before, but the story’s a joke, with the villain a dwarf on a flying carpet who looks like a visitor from outer space, though he’s not. Maybe I’m not missing much?
The Adventurer theme of issue 40 hasn’t been abandoned completely, as the next strip is Steve Conrad, Adventurer, an ocean diver hired to find buried treasure who’s up against modern pirates. This was the last episode of a story, if not the story, I don’t know. It’s all very early Terry and The Pirates wannabe (as an irrelevant aside, has there ever been a more exciting title for an adventure strip?)
After a brief prose story with a twist ending, next up was… ok, I was wrong… Federal Men, though judged on its art, it certainly wasn’t Joe Schuster any more. And judged by the way the story didn’t throb with frenetic energy, it wasn’t Jerry Siegel either. It certainly wasn’t good.
I was surprised to see Paul Kirk – Manhunter as the next strip, especially as it’s nothing like the series as I have always known it. I discovered Manhunter as that classic back-up story by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson in Detective way back in 1974 – I had the privilege of reading it month-by-month – and later in a handful of Simon-Kirby reprints of the costumed hero original, but this Paul Kirk is by Ed Moore who, if he’s the artist, was the worst so far in this issue. Who and what Kirk is is never explained but he never gets out of street clothes and comes over as more of a private detective than anything else, certainly not a big-game Hunter.
Bringing up the back of the book is, thankfully, still the Sandman, but this is that brief period between the adoption of the yellow and purple costume, plus Sandy the Golden Boy, both accoutred with capes, and the arrival of Simon and Kirby. The dream theme is absent, the art crude and ill-proportioned – this guy can’t get legs right – and the story nondescript, lacking the manic energy of the business-suited Sandman stories.
It was interesting to see a complete issue, but the next eight issues on the DVD, not all consecutive, were back to single stories, Starman once more.
Interestingly, Manhunter replaced Starman for the cover of issue 73 (though we only get to see Starman’s story) and this is the costumed Manhunter, and what’s more it’s Simon and Kirby at their excellent best. And they cover feature again next issue before Sandman and Sandy take back the cover on a full-time basis, from which I take it that the determined push to build Starman into a Superman/Batman level star was already showing itself to be doomed.
Issue 78 switched things up with a Manhunter story, though it was taken from a reprint edition, not Adventure itself. This was vintage Simon/Kirby, all-out action, distorted figures, a truly ugly villain and a pretty girl. I’m not sure I’d want to read too many Manhunter stories all at once, but it was good fun.
It was back to Starman for issue 81, the last of the single story issues, and a change of artists with the story, a reprint from the Seventies, credited to Mort Morton Jr and Jerry Roussos. Given that it features a blind boy getting shot in the head and discovering he can now see, the new firm are clearly not an improvement.
There’s a gap next to issue 87, but that represented a sea change, as from hereon, with only a couple of exceptions, we get complete issues. Sandman kicked off the issue with a story I’d already seen in reprint, but next up was the oddball and little-considered Genius Jones, by Stan Kaye. It’s a crackpot cartoon about a boy genius who knows everything and gives answers at a dime a time. This was my first known exposure to the original and it had me goggling, unable to tell if it were genius or madness.

No, seriously…

The Shining Knight was still running, though his art was disappointingly poor. Starman was back as fourth feature, with only three pages to his name. Manhunter got a full share but with terrible art that was trying desperately to ape Jack Kirby with none of the weight of line or detail.
A terribly unfunny one-page cartoon, Jack Potts, gave way to Mike Gibbs, Guerilla, an all-purpose freedom fighter in Nazi-occupied Europe and the one last story to represent the pre-superhero Adventure. Apart from the independent female French resistance Agent, Captain Hwarti (what kind of French name is that?), turning up in Holland, the episode was little better than mediocre and of course it featured a dyke being breached, why would you think it wouldn’t?
Four issues later, paper rationing was cutting a bit deeper. Adventure was down to a bi-monthly status, plus a cut in pages, the cut being Mike Gibbs. The next issue available was no. 100, cover dated October/November 1945, making its actual publication date somewhere round the end of the War in the Pacific. Guerilla was back, in a story with a powerful anti-racism message all the stronger for being set in a War context, but Manhunter was gone now. I wish there were more issues to track these changes more accurately.
At least issue 101 was available, with a dreadful Sandman cover. The previous issue looked like Jack Kirby but wasn’t credited as such, but this story was just plug-ugly, an attempt to copy Kirby by someone with no capability whatsoever. Starman’s story suffered from weak art and dumb writing. We were a long way from the days of Woodley Allen, Doris Lee and Ted Knight’s hypochondria, leaving the stories perfunctory in the extreme and full of incidents like Starman escaping noticing by standing against a poster and ‘blending into’ a background composed of completely different colours from his costume.

Superboy as drawn then

And then, with a jump to issue 109, everything had changed, and I mean everything. In fact, it had happened with issue 103: Sandman and Starman cancelled, Genius Jones shipped out to Detective’s More Fun Comics and a complete line-up switched from that title to take over Adventure. It’s still the Golden Age, for a few years yet, but this is not the stuff I wanted the DVD for.
Because Adventure had become the home of Superboy, from now until 1969. Coming with the Boy of Steel were Aquaman (technically, the Earth-2 version, as would later be defined, with the yellow gauntlets), Johnny Quick, the formula-reciting super-speedster (also featuring in Action Comics) and the Green Arrow (who was also appearing in World’s Finest). The Shining Knight was the only surviving feature. Johnny’s adventure had a bit of vigour to it, but the new watchword was bland.
Frankly, Superboy doesn’t interest me at all, especially knowing how Jerry Siegel wanted to write the character, as a prank-player. The first few stories feature Clark and his schoolfriends, in little do-good stories, and young Kent is nothing like the klutz we expect. But I have to credit the Xmas story in issue 113 (cover-dated February!) as a touching little tale, involving neither crime nor villain, just the response of a community to the terrible misfortunes of a man who, for 32 years, has played a secret Santa to the town’s kids, and who needs the good offices of a Santa himself. It managed to be sweet without being sentimental: just a small-town America story that rang true.

Yellow gauntlets

Twenty issues or so onwards, not all of them available, enables me to give a bit of a reasoned assessment of Adventure in this form. Superboy’s series is definitely not what I expected from my exposure to the character in the early Sixties. There’s no Ma and Pa Kent, no Smallville and precious little villains. Instead, Superboy uses his powers to help his friends, sometimes in the face of rich boy cheating from Orville Orville, or just genuinely to help against misfortune. There’s not even any melodramatic disasters going on. It’s decidedly low-key and, except as a change of pace, undramatic.
The Green Arrow is just bland. He’s definitely The Green Arrow at this point, and as far as Oliver Queen is concerned, there’s a near total absence. Neither Oliver nor Roy have any personality, and we practically only see them out of costume when they’re just about to change into it. And the era of the trick arrow hasn’t started yet: there’s the occasional use of the boomerang arrow and little else. You really couldn’t imagine this guy becoming the Ollie Queen we’ve know since 1969.
Aquaman is similarly drab, but what do you expect from two characters created by Mort Weisinger to be knock-offs. Again, though the blond stiff is described as the Monarch of the Sea, we’ve a decade to wait for the introduction of Atlantis, and this Aquaman just fights sea-style menaces, most often the pirate Black Jack. Between them, Aquaman and The Green Arrow don’t have enough personality to fill a thimble. Oh for the relative depth of the All-American characters.

The Green Arrow: never on Adventure’s cover

Johnny Quick, however, is head and shoulders above the rest, though his slot at the back of the comic suggests he wasn’t as popular as he deserved to be. The very idea of speed automatically makes the series more vigorous, even if some of the science is more than dodgy, and the stories are jam-packed with incidents. And to that some Kubert-influenced art from Mort Meskin and Johnny Quick makes continued reading worthwhile.
Though the Shining Knight would go on until issue 166, he disappeared from Adventure after issue132 due to a profusion of ad pages, which even started appearing in the middle of stories as opposed to between the various features. I hate to say it, but a lot of those ad pages featured art better than Sir Justin was getting! The chivalrous hero was back in 137, after two missing issues, with his occasional sidekick, the Bronx boy, Sir Butch of Beeler’s Alley. And by issue 143, he was enjoying the best art of his career, though not yet from the young Frank Frazetta, but rather Ruben Moreira.
To be honest, the is-he-or-isn’t-he? of whether there’ll be a Shining Knight story is the most interesting thing in this phase of the title, no disrespect to the still-entertaining Johnny Q. For instance, in issue 149, he’s bumped for a five-page tale of the life of author Jack London.
Adventure hit issue 150 with a cover date of March 1950 and no fanfare or special features, although I couldn’t help but be amused to discover Johnny Quick’s villain – a man who hypnotised people into believing that he could walk through walls – being named The Spectre. Nah, buddy. And Frank Frazetta made his debut (?) on The Shining Knight: nice art, and the first to make a flying horse’s wings look realistic.

The Shining Knight’s last adventure in Adventure would be in issue 166 but that’s yet another issue that isn’t included on the DVD. Since I bought it for the Golden Age issues, for those up to and including 102, and since issue 164, the nearest to that point, is cover-dated May 1951, three months after All Star 57, the generally acknowledged end of the Golden Age, I’m treating this as the terminus point for this post. It’s same as ever, no Shining Knight to go out on, Superboy, Johnny Quick, Aquaman, The Green Arrow.
There’s the best part of 330 other issues on the rest of the DVD, extending to the final issue of the run in the early Eighties. When I get round to those, it’ll be a whole other story.

Doomsday Clock 11


I have no enthusiasm left for reading this series. Not the enthusiasm of finding out how the story ends, not the enthusiasm of seeing how many of my predictions are accurate, not even the enthusiasm for a good and savage kicking of the whole thing’s manifold failings. At the moment, my only motive for buying this and the final issue is to have a saleable item on eBay after the latter: I’m not going to get rid of a 10-issue incomplete package, am I?

We have gone through the whole of months June, July and August since the last issue finally appeared, and on the current schdule, which is the only foreseeable one, the hardback collection of the entire series will appear before Doomsday Clock 12 is published.

This is one of the biggest disasters of comic book publishing there has every been, and I do not need any hyperbolic similes to convey that.

Whilst I was waiting, a month ago, I thought I’d try re-reading what we had so far, just as a refresher. I ran into a problem. I couldn’t re-read it. It was nothing to do with the ripping on Watchmen. I have nothing further to say about that. It had everything to do with the story being incomprehensible shite. It’s an out-of-control mess that’s opted for throwing in all sorts of bits and pieces from all over the place to create an apparently multi-level story, the unravelling of which will clearly take far longer than the actual series itself, with no concern for the hah-hah, you should laugh, story .

I have a problem with Geoff Johns’ writing that goes back to his JSA series. As far as I’m concerned, he cannot write stories. He cannot write beginings, middles and ends, only ongoing middles that set-up the next story without actually resolving the one he is writing. Doomsday Clock is this stylistic tic writ awfully large. Johns has introduced stuff from everywhere that he has no intention of wrapping up. Not if they gave him another twelve issues could he draw together what he has thrown in, because he never intended to in the first place.

I found it physically impossible to complete re-reading as far as issue 10. And now I’m supposed to comment on how issue 11 ‘develops’ this shapeless mess to its ‘climax’. That’s next to impossible. There is very little one can say about this comic but I have to try.

To begin with, Johns strives very noticeably and very ineffectually to be apocalyptic. DCEarth is going downhill until it’s just like WatchmenEarth when we left that; Batman destroys the nuclear trigger but is dragged down by the US Army, Metropolis has turned into Gotham, Putin’s given America until midnight to hand over Superman or he’ll invade with his superheroes, people have gotten sceptical about superheroes all over, so you know it’s really going all Pete Tong.

And none of it arouses any response greater than indifference. It’s as cliched as it can be, but without the sense of involvement you can still get with cliches. It’s just unconvincing crap, and it’s honestly not even strong enough to be called uninteresting fucking crap.

There are essentially two expository scenes. Lex Luthor takes Lois Lane inside his deepest, darkest, most double-secret bunker to show her the most horrifying and invidious secret evidence he’s collected, which is that everywhere Jon (Doctor Manhattan) Osterman appears, he leaves behind him, oh my God, the horror! an exact duplicate of the tatty photo of him and Janey Slater from Watchmen 4. And, what’s even more terrifying is, he doesn’t seem to know he’s doing it. Are you rattled? Are you intrigued? Are you asking yourself, what the fuck? I waited over three months for this? If it’s the last one, you’re definitely me.

Oh, and before we get this game-changing revelation, Johns has Lex tell Lois about Ozymandias and his Big Lie plan in Watchmen, just so that he can shit on Watchmen again by having Lois call Ozy ‘more of a madman’ than Luthor (when your series is based in ripping off Watchmen down to the tiniest little detail, Johns, you might want to think twice about showing such fucking ingratitude).

The rest of the isue is mainly about Adrian Veidt explaining his masterplan to Saturn Girl, gloating over his own cleverness at how he manipulated everybody in so many psychologically deep ways. In contrast to Veidt’s plan in Watchmen, which had at it’s core a very simple idea, this is ridiculous. Johns has mistaken convolution for cleverness. He’s also converted Veidt from the manipulative yet earnest figure of Moore and Gibbons’ creation into a smug bastard, contemptuous of others because they’re not as smart as him, instead of because he sees their aims and intentions as harmful. In fact, in Johns’ hands, Ozymandias is every bit the Republic Serials Villain he wasn’t in Watchmen: I still remember the visceral shock of that simple line: “I did it thirty-five minutes ago”.

Which apart from anything else, was a damned sight better penultimate cliffhanger than Johns produces here, which is Superman and Dr Manhattan meeting each other, just before the big pointless punch-up.

Well, what do you know, seems like I could still whip up some decent sized anger of this rubbish, not even half-baked but practically raw ingredients.

It’s now 5 September 20189, which means there are 117 days left before Doomsday Clock extends into a fourth year. Get a bleeding move on with issue 12, will you, I want to get this turkey onto eBay before Xmas.

Heroes in Crisis 8


This, as the Stone Roses once memorably put it, is the One. The Revelation. The scene in the Library without the Library and without the villain being amongst the listeners because, to reference Agatha Christie for a moment longer, this is the Roger Ackroyd moment. The narrator dunnit. And, as has been forecast with increasing confidence over the past few months, the Sanctuary Killer is Wally West.

I don’t like it. That has nothing to do with critical responses and everything to do with Wally being my Flash, the one I used to buy, month-in, month-out, during Mark Waid’s tenure, with and without Brian Augustyn. I can’t like Wally West as the madman killer, nor the cold, calculating plotter, nor the suicide he already is in a time paradox that undermines the credibility of the time paradox.

I’ve never liked Heroes in Crisis. To me, it hasn’t for one moment or one panel lived up to the potential I imagined for it when first I learned of the series. Wally’s soliloquy here, taking up the entire issue, explaining every twist and turn, detail and deliberation, also undermines the entire concept of Sanctuary in the first place. It failed on Wally, and by extension, when you remember all those hero’s concerns, expressed in dozens of Watchmen pages, it failed all of them. All we ever saw were deep-rooted traumas, traumas specific to the conditions of a superhero universe, but we never saw any cures. We saw problems but not solutions. These were problems that had no solutions, but we didn’t even see healings, neither permanent nor sticking plaster.

The story is that wally has been committed to Sanctuary because he’s failing to cope with the simultaneous issue of having lost the woman who meant everything to him and the children they had together, in short everything that made his life what he wanted it to be, and being seen as the symbol of Hope, since it was his re-emergence three years ago, in DC Universe Rebirth that kick-started DC’s current phase (the one that will never end because it will all be explained in Doomsday Clock and that will never finish).

Wally comes to the delusion that Sanctuary has been set up for him alone, that nobody else is undergoing pain equivalent to him but that they’re saying so to humour him. So if all the data is being destroyed by being broken down into billions of scattered bytes, the Fastest Man Alive can re-assemble them in seconds. And seeing everybody else’s traumas broke Wally mentally, set off alarms and caused him to lose control of the Speed Force momentarily, killing everyone at Sanctuary, except Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, because they were a bit slow coming outside (seriously?)

So far, so disappointing. A man suffering from PTSD goes crazy and becomes a mass-murderer? Lovely message, so positive and life-affirming, people suffering from any kind of mental health issue will empathise immediately. I know I do (no, I’m lying). But it’s the aftermath that drops a leaden weight onto the scales and sends the pan for Absolute Fucking Disaster crashing to the ground, because Wally West, the bright spark, the kid who did it all, the sidekick who grew up to become the man himself, who’s just caused deaths in a second of lost control… starts plotting a superspeed cover-up that puts the frame on two completely innocent people, not to mention re-programmes the entire place, re-sites ALL the bodies and creates all manner of clues, red herrings and mindfucks just to fool his CSI Uncle and The Batman. No. Not in a million years can this be accepted. Not just because it’s Wally West and I have a soft spot for him. Not just because there isn’t a hair of continuity between any version of Wally West that ever existed before and who the hell this person is, and not even because it’s a kick in the face for all the readers who bought into Wally’s return at the beginning of Rebirth. Because it’s bullshit. Because it’s crude. Because it’s lame.

And it falls apart. You see, Wally, this Wally who’s been relating this confession, has also gone into the future, by five days, and found his five days in the future self, all to buy himself the time to do something good to make up for this doing bad. Wally-Now catches up with Wally +5, in the company of some green-skinned woman I can’t recognise, and after Wally +5 gives him the last piece, the rose in the river, Wally-Now kills him, by strangling him. Kills himself. Suicide. So Wally’s now dead for real.

Or is he? I’ve already read one theory that everything, the whole story, is actually a fantastically sophisticated VR construct by Sanctuary, curing Wally. It’s elegant, I grant you, and there is still one issue to go, and go it shall, but from this point, any attempt to undercut this, to explain it away as a Hoax, a Dream or an Imaginary Story, will be twice as hollow as this episode.

But there were rumours in 2018, before Heroes in Crisis first appeared, that Brian Azzarello would be launching a new Suicide Squad series, with Wally West as a lead character, not that anything has been confirmed. Other rumours current at the same time have come to fruition, not that that proves anything.

It doesn’t really matter. To be honest, no matter how Emerald Twilight this gets, I have never been able to believe in the story, and once the final issue is out and I’ve said about that what demands to be said about it, not only will I be selling theseries on eBay, as I’ve threatened, but I will be deleting it from my personal version of DC Universe Continuity. Should Never Have Happened will become simply Never Happened, as far as I’m concerned.

 

Uncollected Thoughts: Shazam!


I still haven’t seen Aquaman, and I’m no more likely to watch the first Henry Cavill Superman film than I am to sit through a rewatch of Batman vs Superman (hey, I just realised, if I am ever captured by a supervillain who wants to torture me for the information I have, I have soooo given away what he needs to do to make me spill like a baby), but I’m confident that I have now seen the best DC movie to date.

Outside, it’s still Good Friday afternoon, and it’s sunny, but instead I chose to go indoors at The Light. I was in Screen 3, which is the nearest to the door I’ve been yet, and I was in row C, which is the nearest to the front I’ve sat yet (and which did not do much to improve this series of headaches I’ve been getting for days.

And once again the trailers were ALL superhero movies, one of them for Avengers: Endgame, which caused me to close my eyes to avoid seeing and at least blur hearing any of it.

Last time out, I went to see Captain Marvel. This time I was here for Caprain Marvel, that is, the original Big Red Cheese, the guy created at Fawcett Comics by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, the guy that National Comics sued for ripping off Superman (he didn’t, you only have to read the comics to see that, but he did outsell Superman, so…) He’s also the guy who couldn’t appear in any comics under his name after DC picked him up because it the interim, Marvel had registered a trademark on Captain Marvel. Now, DC either can’t or won’t call him by his real name inside his comics, so now he’s Shazam (which means that he can’t call himself by his own name). It was a niggle, just a niggle, but a niggle nonetheless.

But it was really my only niggle. The movie took the Captain Marvel story, twisted it a little to branch Dr Sivana into the Shazam legend instead of him just being an evil scientist, but otherwise played that side of things straight. Since Sivana, a wonderfully composed, steel-faced performance by Mark Strong, takes the Seven Sins into him, after being passed over as a potential Captain/Shazam back in 1974, there’s some real darkness: you can just feel Zack Snyder turning up his very slow motion camera.

And that’s what makes the film work. It is serious, it is real, but it doesn’t feel like it. And I’m not talking Marvel-style banter. Sivana is 100% serious throughout. The comedy comes directly from (ah, hell) Shazam himself. Billy Batson (Asher Angel, who’s is a fourteen year old boy. True, he’s a very adult fourteen year old boy in some respects, having become separated from his mother at age 4, with her never coming looking for him, making Billy a determinedly independent kid, a serial rejecter of foster homes, a serial rejecter of any families or relationships, hellbent on finding his mother himself. But he’s a fourteen year old boy.

He gets placed with the impressively loving and concerned Victor and Rosa Vasquez and their existing group of foster kids, Darla, Eugene, Pedro and, most importantly, the crippled Freddy Freeman and the oldest of all, Mary Broomfield (Grace Fulton). This all comes directly from the rebooted Shazam Family but I am constitutionally incapable of seeing the latter two as anything by Captain Marvel Junior, and Mary Marvel, aka Billy’slong-lost twin sister.

Billy won’t get involved. Indeed, he’s running away again whenhe is zapped to the Rock of Eternity by the near-dead Wizard Shazam, and has the powerof being Captain Marvel (dammit, Shazam) vested in him.

And he turns into Zachary Levi, having a ball of fun as this big, beefy guy in a red and gold suit, but still basically beeing Billy Batson, misanthropic and self-centred fourteen year old.

Angel and Levi can’t help being funny, whichever one of them is there at the time, which is what makes this film so good. You believe every second of it as being what a fourteen year old would think and do, from good to bad, and how helpless the Shazam version is when Sivana finds him and starts beating the crap out of him. Shazam can only escape by shouting ‘Shazam’ and turning into Billy.

Who’s all set to run away again once the other kids discover his secret, like Freddy and Darla have, because Eugene’s found him his real mother, who abandoned him because she was just a young single mother and random strangers could take better care of him than she could. But that’s the catalyst for the heart-warming moment (I didn’t say the film was perfect, did I?) when Billy decides who are his real family.

This cues us up for the long, actually slightly overlong fight scene that rounds the film out, which gets particularly daffy when Shazam gets everyone to grab the Wizard’s staff (which has a very large knob on the end) and shout his name. ‘Billy!’ they all cry, naturally, but second time round they all transform into Shazams, in different coloured costumes (in a neat tip to the once and former Mary Marvel, Mary gets red alongside Billy).

And there’s not a moment of slow-motion to be seen, just good honest CGI whirling around until the day is saved.

There was the expected mid-credits scene to set up the sequel, which I’m alredy looking forward to, and that had me laughing tthe hardest at he fact they’re going to be so nuts as to use Captain Marvel’s other archenemy: no, not Black Adam, I’m not counting him, but Mr Mind. Yes, the four inch tall, taking intergalactic worm. I love that they have the nerve to pull Mr Mind off in the 2020s.

I was leaving when someone told me there was a post-credits scene, so I stayed. It was basically a diss on Aquaman and hardly essential, but it summed up the irreverence that made this film such fun to watch. A plague on your Man of Steels, a murrain on your Dawn of Justices! This is what we’ve been waiting for all along.

How I’m *Really* Falling Out With Superhero TV


I’ve just finished watching a series of superhero TV – DC, naturally – and the course of it has reignited my increasing doubts about the modern predeliction for superhero TV series that I’ve been watching, with decreasing avidity, throughout this decade.

Although I did watch Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD for a number of seasons, until I abruptly lost all interest in it at the very start of season 5, my long heritage as a DC Comics fans attuned me to their TV shows from the beginning of Arrow.

But it’s a long time since I’ve watched Arrow itself (except for its contributions to the annual crossover), and that’s now been put under notice of cancellation. And The Flash was wonderful fun when it first appeared, full of excitement and the sense of joy attendant upon the power of speed, though it’s been losing itself in angst for ages now.

Supergirl looked well worth it just on the strength of Melissa Benoist in a micro-skirt and thigh-length boots, but I struggled to survive to the end of season 2 because, well, you know, the stories were crap and when you start claiming that Supergirl is stronger than Superman, my suspension of disbelief vanishes in a puff of smoke.

On the other hand, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was great fun, with an appealing sense of its own clunkiness, a refreshing willingness to not take itself seriously, and the freedom with which it would continually throw a constant variety of minor characters I would never ever have expected to have seen in live action. But season 4 has been an utter disaster.

Black Lightning? Never watched it. It was just one too many, literally: making time to write is far more important.

A couple of months ago, I watched the first couple of episodes of Doom Patrol, DC’s second Netflix original series. I was very impressed: being off mainstrean TV allowed (a) full(er) reign to be given to the inherent weirdness in all versions of that team (well, maybe not John Byrne’s version. Or Paul Kupperberg’s before him). I mentioned it to a mate at work who watches the same kind of series I do. Hearing that I’d never watched the first DC Netflix series, Titans, he loaded it all up for on an external hard drive.

Robin

This is the series I’ve finished this morning. It’s been a struggle.

The TV Titans is based heavily in the early issues of the New Teen Titans series from Marv Wolfman and George Perez that started in 1980 and which became a landmark series. Over the course of its eleven episodes, five of the original Teen Titans have appeared, all except Kid Flash, plus Hawk and Dove, the Jason Todd Robin and the afore-mentioned Doom Patrol. It’s dark, on all levels, from the language upwards, which gave me my first problem: the Teen Titans series I was most familiar with, that the season-long storyline has echoed at every step, was the opposite of dark. It was light, upbeat, fresh, fast-paced, drawn with delight and openness. It was dynamic, and it was a light in the post-Implosion darkness at DC that changed the company’s future.

Titans is nothing of the sort. In fact, it’s completely cynical, which is largely why it’s taken me so long to complete it, because, especially since episode 7, I’ve had to force myself to watch.

Raven

What was so bad about episode 7? Up to that point, the episodes had been slow. Not merely deliberate of pace, or in a manner that ratcheted up tension. Just slow, funereally so, as if adopting a pace opposite to the speed and directness of a Marvel Film conferred seriousness on the show by that fact alone. Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) was moody and brooding and violent, Kori’ander (Anna Diop) was flambuoyant in dress and appearance but wholly plastic, Rachel – Raven – Roth (Teagan Croft) was a boring little Goth girl and lord knows they’re only of interest to other Goths, and Garfield Logan (Ryan Potter) was supposed to be light-hearted and a counterbalance but didn’t stand an earthly against the prevailing angst even before they started dumping on him too.

But episode 7 managed to combine not merely a deathly slow pace, dragging twenty minutes of decent story out over forty-five minutes, but also cliched stupidity and dumb plotting. Essentially, Rachel has just discovered that her birth mother Angela (Rachel Nichols, still looking surprisingly attractive) is alive and held in a psychiatric hospital. She’s desperate to see her. Hold on, says Dick, we need to check this out first, make sure it’s not a trap (I mean, there’s only been sinister forces after Rachel since minute one, ok?).

So Rachel sneaks out, with Gar, and guess what? It’s a trap! OF COURSE IT WAS A FUCKING TRAP, IT WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE A TRAP, YOU STUPID **** and the two youngsters are captured, not that you could see the cliche coming from the other side of the Crab Nebula. So Dick and Kory survey the place and find it’s chock-full of armed guards and electronic surveillance by the mile, only they can get in unnoticed, and they can free Rach and Gar, and they can stand around talking, and walk kilometres down dank, dark, ill-lit corridors, without the slightest sign of any of these hoardes of guards or anyone spotting them on the CCTV, and I am bored out of my crust because the episode has all the tension of cold rice pudding and it’s expecting me to swallow the likelihood of this as if I were stupid.

Beast Boy

That left four episodes before the end of the season. Two of these introduced and included Conor Leslie as Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy, who I’d never heard of before but who immediately became almost worth the interminable dullness by being both seriously gorgeous but also almost exactly like the Wonder Girl of the New Teen Titans. The other two were, to put it politely, diversions. One devoted itself to the back-story of Hawk (Alan Ritchison) and Dove (Minka Kelly), told in flashback from Dove’s hospital room, she having been in a coma since episode 3, which was reasonably interesting.

The other was a flashforward/fantasia of Dick, living in California, married to Dawn (Dove) Grainger with a young son and a second bun just short of coming out of the oven, being called back to a deteriorating Gotham to try to save Batman: The Joker has killed Commissioner Gordon, Batman’s sworn to kill the Joker (and does) so Dick betrays Bruce Wayne to the cops, leads a raid on the Manor that sees Batman beat and kill everybody, including Agent Kory Anders, so Dick kills him, giving way to the darkness inside him (oh, snooooore).

Starfire

Which might have been interesting but for one thing: this was all but the last ninety seconds of the last episode. I get that it’s intended to be a cliffhanger ending, but it was the most inept handling of such a thing I’ve ever seen. It contributed nothing, literally, to the developing story, coming over as a complete abnegation of the obligation to deal with your commitment to the audience to advance the story and set up your conclusion.

Add to that some ridiculously shallow and cliched lines over the last two episodes that sounded as if they’d be written in the writer’s sleep and I’ve no hesitation in calling this a piece of ripe and mouldering shit. I shall politely refuse a loan of season 2.

Hawk & Dove

But this isn’t just about venting my feelings on Titans. It ties into the wider picture of the other superhero series I still watch.

The Flash has fallen to pieces. Grant Gustin was excellent as Barry Allen to begin with, alive to possibility and the blast of his powers. But as early as season 2, the creators started to Oliver Queen him. Ollie’s always been the grim, gloomy, driven one, the responsibility-magnet, assuming everything bad that happens is because of him only. Barry’s gone a long way down that path until the pair are barely distinguishable. The show drags.

It’s also, paradoxically, got too much comic relief. Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny is an endearing idea but the reality is that of a clownish sleazeball, where the original is supposed to be a detectivesecond only to Batman. The idea of having Ton Cavanagh as a different Harrison Wells each season was amusing but, even before this year’s ‘Sherloque’ Wells, was struggling to survive the stupid personalities.

And adding Jessica Parker Kennedy this year as Barry and Iris’s daughter Nora from the future was good in conception but lousy in execution: Kennedy just isn’t a good enough actress, and ever since it was revealed that her character is working with the Reverse-Flash, it’s been a case of wondering just how dumb everyone else is that they can’t see she’s clumsily hiding something. Five more episodes to get to the end of the series and I’m out, no matter how stupendous the teaser for season 6.

Wonder Girl

Which leaves me with Legends of Tomorrow. Up until the end of season 3, I was thoroughly enjoying myself, and the idea that things should take a turn for the magical this season was intriguing. Instead, it’s been a bust. Gone are the funny and awesome cameos. Instead, the series has decided to turn up the comedy knob, to painful effect.

It’s like the Helfer/Giffen/deMatteis Justice League International comic, which was superhero as sitcom, going goofy. The problem then, and the problem now is that there’s only so far you can go down goofy before the requirement to top yourself, to get even goofier becomes insurmountable, and from there it’s a short step – or fall – into inanity.

The first half of the series, until Xmas, was bad enough in that respect, but the show then took a break until April and it’s return has landed with a completely dull thud. Ray (The Atom) Palmer and Mick (Heatwave) Rory have ossified into caricatures whose performances can be, and are being phoned through: lord knows, there’s nothing for either actor to actually do. Gary of the Time Bureau is an inept idiot that not even MacDonalds would employ, let alone a serious intellignce agency. And Mona (Ramona Young) has been played as Little Miss Bubblewit.

I’m sorry but, no matter what he does, I look at Mat Ryan as John Contantine and think, you’re having a laugh, mate, and for ******’s sake lose the fucking tie if you have to have the ‘knot’ a permanent seven point six five inches from your shirt collar. And much as I like the sight of Tala Ashe, the ‘character’ is nothing but a monotonous sarcasm and that’s not good enough.

At this moment, I’ve downloaded the newest episode but I’m not full of enthusiasm about actually watching it, since I already know so much, sight unseen, of what will be in it.

The problem would seem to be simple. Too many shows, too few ideas. Since the CGI budget is limited, and the characters on Legends appear to be completely averse to wearing their costumes, the stories are having to be wound around minimising any kind of superhuman activity, which misses the point. And once you take the superhero stuff out, what’s left is limited.

There’s an irony to the fact that I have managed to read superhero comics for nigh on sixty years and remain interested, but I can’t even go near ten years with the stuff on TV. That said, the forthcoming Batwoman series starring Ruby Rose looks interesting, or at least likely to satisfy the more shallow side of me. It might be the only thing left then.