Thursday, August 28, 2014

Batman’s Marvelous Team-Ups!

One of the questions I heard at the Avengers premiere was…”Where’s Batman?”.

Now, most comic fans know that Spider-Man lives in the Marvel Universe as published by Marvel Comics, and Batman in the DC Universe published by DC Comics.

Now, with this past week’s column, we showed the movie split as to why the Amazing Spider-Man wouldn’t be in Avengers’ movies, and yes, Batman won’t be in any of them, either.

Still, wouldn’t Batman teaming up with any of the modern Marvel movie stars be an incredible, amazing thing?

But, that doesn’t mean these two recent movie stars haven’t crossed paths….as evidenced by these comics!  Starting off with a couple of meetings with Spider-Man…

Swinging With Spidey

Spider-Man and Batman had their first meeting in Spider-Man and Batman #1, in September, 1995, by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Bagley.

In this issue, they faced off against two of their crazier foes with “Disordered Minds”, Carnage for Spider-Man, and Joker for the Batman.  A nice little team-up, but a little lacking in real substance, as Carnage was just a little too new of a character to match up well with the Joker (though they matched well by both being crazy!  In fact, it was attempting to cure the Joker and Carnage that got them to team-up.  I don’t think it is a spoiler to say it didn’t work out so well…).

Still, the next time the Dark Knight and Amazing Webslinger met up was in Batman & Spider-Man #1 (October 1997), it was with some older and weightier foes…specifically, the master of the League of Assassins, Ra’s Al Ghul, and king of crime, the Kingpin.

This story was also written by J.M. DeMatteis, with artist Graham Nolan.  Kingpin and Ra’s Al Ghul are the drivers of the plot here, both manipulating as only they can, and even involve the women in their life, Kingpin’s ever-ailing wife, Vanessa and Ra’s daughter and sometime co-conspirator (as well as romantic distraction for the Detective), Talia.

All of this led to a stronger team-up, and they end up as allies to save the world from one of Ra’s plans to end it all with a “New Age Dawning”!  All this, and a little more Batman/Spider-Man interaction as well.

But, the battle isn’t over for the the dark knight detective…no, he has more marvelous journeys to follow…

Meeting The Man Without Fear

After meeting with the wall-crawler the first time, Batman also met with another creature of the night…Daredevil, the Man Without Fear!

Batman met up with Spider-Man’s fellow New Yorker, Daredevil for a few team-ups as well.  First time around was in Daredevil and Batman #1 (January 1997) in a story by D. G. Chichester, and art by Scott McDaniel.

Batman chases his foe, Two-Face, and DD’s foe, Mr. Hyde, to New York…and of course, the two crimefighters face off as well.  Most annoying thing…is that Two-Face is upset to be in the first meeting of these two urban crimefighters, so upset, he wants “An Eye For An Eye”!  Seems more than Batman’s life hangs by the flip of a coin…

Still, the second time around was a little more involved (and familiar as well!).  In December, 2000′s Batman Daredevil: King of New York #1 (by Alan Grant and Eduardo Barreto), the two heroes face off against Batman foe, the Scarecrow and Daredevil’s foe, Kingpin (who seems to like working the DC side of the street, it appears!  Seems Mr. Fisk might prefer Gotham City to New York City…or, maybe not).

Kingpin seemed to learn a little about manipulation from Ra’s Al Ghul, as he also used the feline Catwoman to distract Batman.  And, how would the Man Without Fear fare against fear gas?  Hey, it means Daredevil will get a trip to Batman’s Batcave, at least!  And, the second team-up, Batman and Daredevil interact a little more on a personal level…

Not only did Batman meet Spider-Man and Daredevil, but he encountered a slightly more violent villain, the Punisher as well.

Killing Time

In Batman/Punisher: Lake of Fire #1  (cover dated June 1994, by Denny O’Neil and Barry Kitson),  it’s Jean-Paul Valley, not Bruce Wayne, as the Batman (Jean-Paul was a substitute for Bruce, who had been injured by Bane…yes, the villain in the current Batman film), versus Batman foe, the Joker and Punisher’s main menace, the Jigsaw.

This was the first DC/Marvel team-up since they stopped after the Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans team-up of 1982 due to difficulties that had arisen between Marvel Comics and DC Comics while working on the original Justice League of America and Avengers first meeting (that only took place decades later…).  And, the title characters battled first, before working together against their common foes.

This worked so well that it had a follow up within the same year, with the Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights #1 (cover dated October 1994, with regular Detective Comics and Robin writer at the time of Chuck Dixon and the amazing John Romita Jr. was doing the art).

No new villains, as it was still a battle against the Joker and Jigsaw (why mess with a good team, right?  Still, new villains usually spice up the mix a little), but it was the more familiar Batman at this point, dealing with the ultra-violent, gun-toting Frank Castle as the Punisher.

And, the more by-the-book Batman had more trouble with the Punisher and his use of guns on criminals as well….

After all that grief, dealing with a hero who acts more like a villain, Batman got a break, working with the star-spangled Avenger, Captain America.

War With The Star-Spangled Avenger

With the release of Batman and Captain America #1 in December 1996 by John Byrne, this would be a more light-hearted team-up (and one that took more advantage of a possible shared DC and Marvel Universe, where familiar storyline would play out over generations, as this Batman & Robin met Captain America & Bucky and battled the Joker and Red Skull in World War II!  This was also considered an “Elseworlds” tale by DC Comics (where things happen that wouldn’t normally happen in a DC Comics, such as Batman being around during World War II, kind of like Marvel’s “What If?”, which is their version of odd stories playing out).

Things played out for Captain America at the end of the war as they have before…but, slightly differently! 

A sequel to this would have been very appreciated, but it was not to be.

Still, one of the best team-ups Batman had with a Marvel character, was his very first, and that happened when Bruce Wayne’s alter ego crossed paths with a certain gamma-irradiated scientist, the Hulk.

Don't Make Me Angry

In DC Special Series #27, (September 1981, by writer Len Wein who had worked on both Batman and the Hulk’s titles in the past) and incredible DC artist Jose Luis Garcia Lopez), Bruce Banner ends up looking for a cure for the Hulk at Waynetech, which insures a run in with Batman.  Of course, the Joker steps in to steal the device needed (as the Hulk’s foe, the Shaper of the Worlds needs it to survive, and Joker made a deal with the Shaper if the Joker could deliver the device, which the Joker did…and, in return, the Shaper grants the Joker the ability to reshape reality!  Would that that new reality had more team-ups with Batman and Marvel’s characters in it!).  The last of the oversized DC/Marvel team-ups, and certainly one of Batman’s best!

And, of course, Batman fought the whole Marvel Universe (which, as you can see also included the X-Men, as well as a few of Batman’s more regular Justice League and Titans friends) in DC Vs. Marvel #1-4, which led to a few more DC/Marvel all-inclusive team-ups as well with Access, the Marvel and DC character that would allow DC and Marvel characters to meet at any time as that was his power!  All these characters meeting…it’s like Mego time for Batman and Spider-Man!

But that’s a tale for another time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Hero, the Warrior and the Doctor

Last week, the heroes were time travelers on screen (TV and the movies), and here...'s  time to look at a few of the time travels of Superman, Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek and the Doctor of Doctor Who in the comics!

It's quite the wild ride, as characters met themselves over the years, crossing over generations...

...and it might even be as interesting as the cover mock-up of Super-Team Family provided!

Boy meets Man of Steel

Superboy met his future self, (the Man of Steel, Superman) in Superboy #47 (March, 1956), in a little story by Otto Binder, drawn by Curt Swan

Superboy accidently landed in the future, met Lois Lane and his future self (because, these early adventures of Superboy weren't those of a clone, they were of Superman, when he was a boy).  The two were stuck in one time, and had to put their heads together (sorry for the pun) to figure out how to separate themselves. 

This story was also reprinted in Super-Team Family #5 of 1976 (which had a slightly different cover in the day) and in Superman Annual #4 of 1961, which also featured a few Superman time-travel tales! 

There were even Superman meetings over in Smallville, where Tom Welling (as Clark Kent) met previous actors who played Superman (Christopher Reeve as Dr. Virgil Swann, and Dean Cain as Dr. Curtis Knox), so the Supermen didn't quite meet each other as Superman (at least in the "real world"), but close....

...oh, so close.

Star Trek Generations meet

Before Kirk and Picard met in the 7th Star Trek movie, Captain Kirk came across his younger self in a 20th Anniversary Star Trek tale from Star Trek #33 (December, 1986) by writer Len Wein and artist Tom Sutton (and a stunning cover by Jerry Bingham) for the story "Vicious Circle".

This story had the crew of the Enterprise-A (between Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home) meet with the TV series crew from Star Trek's first season (including Yeoman Rand and Nurse Chapel, and not Pavel Chekov, who wasn't added to the crew until the TV shows second season).  It also showed the value in getting the complete Star Trek franchise (as the 18 issues of the original Marvel Star Trek run only had rights to likenesses and concepts of Star Trek: The Motion Picture).

A fun little story, and a chance to see how the Star Trek franchise had grown in 20 years (and this before Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise...

...and even the most recent two Star Trek movies that rebooted Kirk, Spock and the rest of his loyal crew!). 

Later comics had the various crews meet, and they even branched out and met other licensed one of the most frequent time travelers of them all!

Doctor, Doctor

Still, it took quite some time for the Doctor of Doctor Who to make it to American comics...and even then, they were reprints of issues from British comics from Marvel UK's Doctor Who Weekly featuring the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) least to start in 4 issues of Marvel Premiere (#57-60, 1980-1981), and then 23 issues starting in 1984 (that featured reprints of Marvel UK stories with the 4th and 5th Doctor, Peter Davison....).

Still, IDW finally took advantage of the unlimited access comics provide to time and space with a 12 issue mini-series entitled Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time!

Over the course of these twelve issues, the Doctor's companions were disappearing (as seen starting with the first Doctor in issue #1, the second Doctor in issue #2, and so on), until all 11 Doctors gathered to solve the problem and find which companion was behind this in the 12th issue, as each Doctor appeared once a month all over 2013, all written by Scott and David Tipton and a variety of artists!

The story has been collected in 3 volume tradepaperbacks (the first four Doctors in Volume 1, the second four in Volume 2, and the ninth through the eleventh and resolution in Volume 3), or get it all in one large oversized hardback all from IDW!

A chance to see all the Doctors in action once again (from the 1st - William Hartnell, 2nd - Patrick Troughton, 3rd - Jon Pertwee, 10th - David Tennant, 11th - Matt Smith, 4th - Tom Baker, 9th - Christopher Eccleston, 5th - Peter Davison, 8th - Paul McGann, 7th - Sylvester McCoy and 6th - Colin Baker), all in one story, helping to celebrate Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary in a story the Silence couldn't even make you forget! 

Still, here we are with the newest Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and I bet he's feeling left out after his renewal...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A New Look For an Old Green Lantern Cover

Comics changed with the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams’ incredible work on Green Lantern #76 (April, 1970),  and that story has been reprinted more than a few times, as this series made comics more real and dealt with various social issues of the day as well.

But, there has also been a few variants on that classic cover!

Here's a little of the story behind those, and they are there full glory!

The New Guys

One of the earliest was in the 1990s, with the Green Lantern issue #76 (Late July, 1996) of that time, with Kyle Rayner meeting with Connor Hawke (the Green Lantern/Green Arrow of the time) and taking their own travels throughout America (with this cover by Paul Pelletier).

The journey wasn’t quite as long, but it did go back and forth from Green Lantern title to Green Arrow title (not an option back in the day, as Green Arrow didn’t have his own title back then, which is why he was in Green Lantern's title!).

The story ran from Green Lantern #76-77 and Green Arrow #110-111 as the Hard Traveling Heroes: The Next Generation!

An Alternate Cover

The Fox TV show Fringe provided what could be one of the oddest variants on the GL cover, as it created an alternate universe look at a few classic comics, substituting characters for each other on iconic covers.   

Green Lantern and Green Arrow had a rainbow shift, and were turned red instead.  One has to wonder a few things about this doppler shift…like, what color is Hal‘s Red Lantern ring now vulnerable to?

Would Speedy grow up to become “Green Arrow” instead of “Red Arrow“?

What color would Black Canary have been?

Back in Black

Here, in Green Arrow #30 (April, 2010, with cover by Greg Horn), the reanimated dead got into the act, as evil entity Nekron had turned a few of Earth’s heroes (including Green Arrow) into zombies with Black Power Rings in an attempt to end all life in the universe with the Blackest Night.

Green Arrow was forced to confront some of the things he had done wrong, with the help of his old buddy, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and pretty bird Black Canary.

A slightly darker look at how Green Arrow had fallen hard (and a slight reversal, as it was Green Lantern back in the day who had been the hero who had the ego in need of adjustment, and the hotheaded Green Arrow instead became the man in need of change)!

More Coverage

Neal Adams himself provided his own variant recently, as seen on the cover of Back Issue #45, which contains an overview of the classic issues from Green Lantern #76-89 and Flash #217-219 with an article by noted comic historian John Wells.

Read the issues yourself (as they have been collected many times, the entire run in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #1-7, Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection Vol. 1-2 TPB, the Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection HC and the original Green Lantern #76 was reprinted in Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told HCDC Silver Age Classics Green Lantern 76 (#6), and Millennium Edition: Green Lantern 76 (#5)) and then, find out the history of these stories with Back Issue!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Alien, the Captain and the Doctor

Many people have tried time travel (at least in the fictional worlds of TV and movies), and here's a few of the amateurs who have done it before, bending time to their will, or losing it all in the blink of an eye... well as a true time lord, who seems to have done it all himself at one time or another!

Look...Up in the Sky!

Yes, in his very first color action movie of 1978, you'll not only believe a man can fly, but that Christopher Reeve was truly super in Superman...the Movie

Clark really did love much so that he was willing to change the course of time for her (yes, it was a bit odd, and a bit confusing, and they even joked about it in the 100th episode of Smallville, but...take the symbolism that Superman was a hero willing to do anything to save the lady he loved....and let it stand as the expression of Clark's heartache at losing someone and being willing to do anything to get her back).

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Meanwhile, in the 23rd Century...or was it the 1930s? 

Dr. McCoy gets lost in the Depression Era thanks to an accidental overdose and beaming down to the planet with the Guardian of Forever, and makes a change in history that changes everything in the Star Trek universe in the episode "The City On The Edge of Forever" from April 6, 1967 (written by Harlan Ellison).  Kirk and Spock go to set things right...and learn that "Edith Keeler Must Die!".  Sadder still, is that Captain James T. Kirk has fallen in love with her....  Not all time travel stories have a happy ending, but this is always considered one of Star Trek's greatest episodes (and one of the best hours of TV).

Trust Me, I'm The Doctor

Seems these time travel rookies like Superman and James T. Kirk need some lessons from a time lord....someone like the Doctor! 

After all, with 50 years of TV episodes of Doctor Who, 11 lifetimes and countless companions, the Doctor is someone who knows what he's doing right?

Well, not so much.

His time travel device, the TARDIS (for Time and Relative Dimension In Space) is broken (stuck looking like a blue Police Box), and the Doctor has had his heart broken as well.

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) was unable to prevent his companion (and one might say lady love) the lovely Rose Tyler from being trapped in an alternate dimension (away from him) in the episode "Doomsday" from December 22, 2006).  This sort of worked out later, but it was still a heartbreaker for the Doctor (lucky he has two hearts as a member of the alien race of Time Lords from Gallifrey, but this was sad enough to nearly break them both!).

The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) had his own mystery to deal with...that of an "impossible girl".  The Doctor met Oswin (but didn't see the girl) while fighting his immortal enemy, the Daleks, in the "Asylum of the Daleks" of September 1, 2012.  The Doctor couldn't save her, but met her again in "the Snowmen" (on December 25, 2012) in London of 1892...and failed to save Clara again (who he realizes she is Oswin as well). 

The Doctor grows deeply depressed at losing this girl twice, until he gets a phone call from her (oddly enough, in his "mobile phone", a surprisingly accurate description of his TARDIS) in "the Bells of Saint John" (March 30, 2013).  As the season progresses, the audience finds out more of the mystery of Clara, and how great a companion to the Doctor she truly is (and was).

Clara will be truly tested, as she has a new Doctor (the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi) to deal with.  The question Clara might have to answer is..."is the Doctor a good man?". 

One would hope so, though, with the price one might pay because of time travel, one never knows...not just because he's alien, or because he's in charge, but because unlike Superman or Kirk, one never really knows what the Doctor will do...


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peace and Love, Brother Power

It all started with a couple of hippies, trying to get dry in  a clothing store…and what a long, strange trip it has been!

Well…a long time anyway.  Brother Power, the Geek first manifested in Brother Power, the Geek #1 (September-October 1968) by Joe Simon and (the uncredited artist) Al Bare.  This mannequin came to life after being clothed in bloody clothes from one of the flower children (Nick Cranston and Paul Cymbalist) who had sought shelter in the store and being struck by lightning.  He then got facial features from Cindy, a groovy chick they met along the way, escaped the evil biker gang Hound Dog and his Mongrels and tried to find their way in the world (including a run for Congress!).

In his second issue, Brother Power tried to find a job, and ran up against problems in the capitalist world, specifically the Lord Sliderule, but still made everything run more efficiently.

Still, Brother Power was launched into space in his second issue (November-December 1968) by the governor of California (not mentioned, but definitely Ronald Reagan)….and, that third issue, though supposedly completed by Joe Simon, never saw the light of day (by Joe’s design, sadly, as he refused to discuss the character in later days).

Still, all was not lost…as that satellite eventually came down, in Swamp Thing Annual #5 (1989), where writer Neil Gaiman and artists Richard Piers Rayner, Mike Hoffman and Kim DeMulder brought this icon of the 1960s crashing into modern times.

This story revealed that Brother Power was a failed attempt at an Earth Elemental, and the story featured Batman, Firestorm (himself revealed to be a Fire Elemental…that was the trend of the 1980s/1990s), and Abby Arcane (Swamp Thing’s girlfriend), who, along with sixties reject Chester and his girlfriend, Liz Tremayne, tried to help Brother Power adjust to a time not his own (a possible throwback to Joe Simon’s Captain America…himself a reminder of World War II, asked to wake up in the “modern day”).

Things got worse for Brother Power, having to endure the corruption of the innocent in Vertigo Visions: The Geek #1 (June 1993) by Rachel Pollack and Michael Allred…with more battles against the powers that be, and a not particularly pleasing reintroduction to Cindy, who had fallen on hard times from the days of free love.

Still, the mannequin survived and continued to fight on…even briefly appearing in the meeting of all the Vertigo characters of the time, like Swamp Thing, John Constantine, the Doom Patrol, Black Orchid, Animal Man and Shade the Changing Man, in Totems (February 2000) by Tom Peyer, Duncan Fegredo and Richard Case.

Brother Power made one last appearance, this time in Gotham City.  With Brave and the Bold #29 (January, 2010), J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz brought the master of flower power into a meeting with the dark knight of the city, slightly changing the origins of the mobile mannequin by basing him in Gotham instead of the west coast, and bringing Cindy out here to work at a clinic, helping people.  The two heroes  eventually worked together, and Brother Power ended the issue wandering off in the sewers…with Batman hoping he’ll find his way closer to home.

(And, in his next comic appearance, in the animated Brave & the Bold #15 (May, 2010, by Sholly Fisch and Robert Pope), he was treated a little better…though this appearance was tied more to the animated TV series than the comic continuity, and he didn’t appear on the cover).

Still, with the New 52, you never know when you could see the “Thing That Lives And Fights For It’s Soul!”.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flash Facts Legacy

The 2014 Flash CW TV series with Grant Gustin as the Flash isn't the first series to have Flash as a hero...there was also the 1990 CBS series with John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen...aka the Flash.

In the comics, there were four men who held the title role of the Flash as the leads of their respective comics....and here's a few Flash Facts!

Jay Flash

Real Name: Jason Peter "Jay" Garrick

First Appearance: Flash Comics #1 (January, 1940)

Created By: Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert

Origin: A lab accident with "hard water", wherein he inhaled fumes, and eventually awoke with super-speed.

Significant Other: Joan Williams

Team Membership: Justice Society of America (charter member), All-Star Squadron

Speedster Foe: Rival (Dr. Edward Clariss)

Main titles: Flash Comics (104 issues starting in 1940), All-Flash Quarterly (first 5, later just All-Flash, 32 issues starting in 1941), DC Special Series (1 issue, 1977), Flash Special (1 issues, 1990), Speed Force (1 issue, starting in 1997), DC First: Flash/Superman (1 issue, starting in 2002)

Barry Flash

Real Name: Bartholomew Henry "Barry" Allen

First Appearance: Showcase #4 (Sept-Oct, 1956)

Created By: Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino 

Origin: A lightning bolt hit a batch of chemicals in his lab, causing him to wander off and discover his super-speed.

Significant Other: Iris West

Team Membership: Justice League of America (charter member)

Speedster Foe: Reverse Flash (also known as Professor Zoom, Eobard Thawne)

Main titles: Showcase (4 issues starting in 1956), Flash (246 issues, starting in 1959), Flash Annual (1 issue, starting in 1963), DC Special Series (3 issues, 1977), Flash Special (1 issues, 1990), The Life Story of the Flash (1997), Speed Force (1 issue, starting in 1997), Blackest Night: Flash (3 issues, starting in 2010), Flash: Rebirth (6 issues, starting in 2009), The Flash (12 issues, starting in 2010), Flash Secret Files and Origins (1 issue, starting in 2010), DC Retroactive: Flash - the '70s (1 issue, starting in 2011)

Wally Flash

Real Name: Wallace Rudolph "Wally" West

First Appearance: Flash #110 (December-January, 1959-1960, as Kid Flash), Crisis On Infinite Earths #12 (March, 1986, as Flash)

Created By: John Broome and Carmine Infantino
Origin: Barry was showing young Flash fan, Wally, his lab, when lightning struck again.  Then, Wally took over for Barry when Barry "died".

Significant Other:  Linda Park

Team Membership: Teen Titans (charter member), Justice League (joined in Justice League International #24, February, 1989)

Speedster Foe: Zoom (Hunter Zolomon)

Main titles: DC Special Series (1 issue, 1977), Flash (249 issues starting in 1987), Flash Annual (13 issues, starting in 1987), Flash Special (1 issues, 1990), Flash Secret Files (3 issues, starting in 1997), Speed Force (1 issue, starting in 1997), Flash Plus (1 issue, starting in 1997), Flash 80-Page Giant (2 issues, starting in 1998), Sins of Youth: Kid Flash/Impulse (1 issue, starting in 2000), Flash: Iron Heights (1 issue, starting in 2001), All-Flash (1 issue, starting in 2007), DC Retroactive: Flash - the '80s (1 issue, starting in 2011), DC Retroactive: Flash - the '90s (1 issue, starting in 2011)

Bart Flash 

Real Name: Bartholomew Henry "Bart" Allen

First Appearance: Flash #91 (June, 1994 as Impulse), Teen Titans #4 (December, 2003 as Kid Flash), Infinite Crisis #7 (June, 2006 as Flash)

Created By: Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo
Origin: The grandson of Barry and Iris Allen, Iris brought him back from the 30th Century to be trained in the use of the speed that was killing him by Wally Flash!

Significant Other: Carol Bucklen

Team Membership: Titans (joined in New Titans #0, October, 1994), Young Justice (charter member)

Speedster Foe: Inertia (later known as Kid Zoom, Thaddeus Thawne)

Main titles: Impulse (90 issues, starting in 1995), Impulse Annual (2 issues, starting in 1996), Impulse Plus (1 issue, starting in 1997), Speed Force (1 issue, starting in 1997), Impulse/Atom Double-Shot (1 issue, 1998), Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe (1 issue, starting in 1999), Sins of Youth: Kid Flash/Impulse (1 issue, starting in 2000), Flash: The Fastest Man Alive (13 issues, starting in 2006)

Then, Flash (Barry Allen) was instrumental in restarting the whole DC Universe with Flashpoint, starting in 2011, and giving us the New 52!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams was an incredibly talented man.  He was a gifted actor and an improvisational genius.   His best work came playing funny characters, but there was always a warmth to them as well.

Some of his best roles were in light but serious comedies Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Cadillac Man, the Bicentennial Man, Night at the Museum, and very serious roles in The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting and Awakenings (a very serious movie, showing off Robin's best ability...that of caring, with Robert DeNiro, and directed by Penny Marshall).

But, one of his earliest roles was that of Mork from Ork in Mork & Mindy.  Spinning off from Happy Days (after a battle with the Fonz, and a second episode where he dated Laverne of Laverne and Shirley)...

...Robin Williams spent 4 seasons from 1978 to 1982 as the lovable alien sent to observe Earth (and he had nearly free reign to be as crazy as he could be).

The show was quite popular, inspiring much merchandising like lunchboxes, action figures, and many issues of Cracked magazine....

While on Earth, Mork reported back to his boss, Orson, and told him of the lessons he learned while he was here.  Strangely, it was also one of the best roles suited to an alien, he showed he was the most human of all.

One of the exchanges seems a little ironic now, from "In Mork We Trust" from 1979.

Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.

Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?

Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn't help very much because then he can hear paint dry.

Orson: Does bed rest help?

Mork: No because I've heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.

Orson: Do you have any idea why?

Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they're told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they're told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they're very old, they're told not to talk to themselves, who's left?

Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely? 

Mork: No sir I'm saying just the opposite. They make themeslves lonely, they're so busy looking out for number one that there's not enough room for two. 

Orson: It's too bad everybody down there can't get together and find a cure.

Mork: Here's the paradox sir because if they did get together, they wouldn't need one. Isn't that zenlack?

Nanu nanu, Robin...signing off.