Thursday, November 04, 2010

Vulcan Doomed -- Film at Eleven

OKLAHOMA CITY (Disassociated Press) -- Once a fine polystyrene character from Ben Cooper, a once-proud Mr Spock mask disappeared into the garbage with bruised dignity this past Halloween 2010.

Once a proud celebrant of diversity and jigsaw-puzzle belt buckles, Spock mask took his final retirement with dignity and resignation.

"It is regrettable that my owner did not perform sufficient preservatory skills," were the final telepathic thoughts from the mask as it disappeared down the street in the garbage truck.

Still, we will always have this memory of the masks's final moments:

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Essential Superman Encyclopedia

This is a fine book with some rough edges.

It’s modeled on Michael Fleischer’s The Great Superman Book, first published in 1978. Here we have a cavalcade of entries, from J Wilbur Wolfingham and X-Plam to Adoria and Bizarro.

While in the introductions, authors Greenberger and Pasko apologize for not being 100% inclusive of EVERY super-fact, believe me this tome is exhaustive enough for most purposes.

The authors delight in giving references for every listing of things like suburbs of Metropolis or banks in Smallville, and other brain-bending facts. Of course, that’s the way we like it!

My main negative observation about the book is simply an inelegant writing style in some entries. Dozens of times – and I do mean DOZENS of times -- the phrase “wound up” is used to, er, “wind up” a description of a character. My most un-favorite example is somebody who “wound up shot.” That’s all; they just “wound up shot.”

I only came across one FACTUAL error. There may be more, but the only one this fanboy noticed is that the entry for Streaky the Supercat gets HIS gender wrong.

I don’t know if it is a case of not reading the sources or what, but as you can read and see, the book calls Streaky both “her” and “him” in the same entry. As you can further see from this comic panel (that I just scanned) from Action 261, Streaky is a tomcat, not a Thomasina.

The book has plenty of B&W illustrations and two color insert sections. My opinion on the color sections is simply that more of the art should have been from the first 30 or 40 years of Superman’s existence. And why does he look like a girly man on the cover?

The artists should have been credited, within the text, whenever possible. A simple numeric code or initials would have been great. Instead, there is simply a listing of the name of every artist whose work appears in the book.

Of course, there is neither any listing of the WRITERS of any of the stories that make up “the texts” or “the accounts” that the entries are based on. You wouldn’t really expect such a thing either, I suppose.

But – I was thrilled – indeed, laughed with joy, when I read the entry for Kurtiswana! I had forgotten this one. Other writers and artists may have been memorialized in the Superman canon by having streets or businesses named for them, but only my favorite Super-Artist, Curt Swan, had a COUNTRY named after him!

One sad attribute of this book is how hard it was for Greenberger & Pasko to even try to “tell the story” of some of these characters, given so many retro-continuity tangles and hand-wavings and ignoring of characters’ attributes in earlier appearances that have happened in comic books.

The authors have done a fine job, given the scrambled histories of characters such as Power Girl, and things like Pocket Universes, and the like.

So, if you care about the Man of Steel, get this book. Of course, I don’t know how many of you would simply sit down and read it, cover-to-cover, as I did. But it belongs on any Super-bookshelf.

After you’ve bought and read Fleischer’s book FIRST.

Monday, November 01, 2010

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© by Mark Alfred