Archive for April, 2007

The Sensational Character Find of the 2007

You know, there’s always parts of my life that are difficult to explain to people. One of these parts is the fact that I have a superhero alter-ego. Really, how do you break this down for someone?

“Yeah, me and a bunch of my friends formed a League and fought crime. But it was mostly just jaywalking… and it was mostly just fighting each other.”

This actually comes up surprisingly often. Dani once challenged me to get an article of clothing with my superhero name on it, and I responded by having it embroidered on my High School Graduating Class sweater. Now I can’t wear it without fielding questions about where I got my “nickname”, and it all turns awkward (for the record, Dani still hasn’t lived up her end of the bargain by getting something proclaiming her alter-ego. I’m definitely winning here).

And ever since I joined the Excellence League, I’ve had to (i.e. volunteered to) explain that this is actually the second league I’ve been a part of, and the first has a much less literary bent.

So, for the sake of everyone who reads my blog (which basically consists of people who already know the story), I will now retell the epic origin story of….

The story actually begins with the birth of Amherst’s first hero, Abyss Man. For some reason now lost to the depths of history, Stephen one day proclaimed himself a protector of justice, and a non-existent Ford Pinto to be his “Abyss-Mobile”. Soon enough he gained himself a teen sidekick, Abyss Lad, and thus reached one of the great milestones in a hero’s career. Now it was time to move onto the next great adventure; Abyss Man would need to form a League, and for that Amherst would need new heroes.

Like many a hero, I actually started my career under an entirely different name; Captain Britain, Defender of Justice (the way I speak is commonly mistaken for a British accent). This was during the nebulous period after Abyss Lad came onto the scene, but before the League officially formed. When Abyss Lad graduated to being a hero in his own right, Captain Obvious, and Dani formed her own alter-ego, we knew it was time. Time to strike fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere. Time to fight for justice. Time to form…. the League.

When the time came to pick a name, we debated long and hard. Eventually, I exclaimed that no matter what, we had to be the League of something, dammit.

Of course, the name stuck.

Over time we had a number of adventures, which included inventing new superpowers for ourselves (Captain Obvious, for example, was able to blend into his surroundings so long as they looked exactly like him), testing to see if we combined to form a giant fighting robot (we didn’t), and of course crime-fighting. As previously mentioned, this consisted almost entirely of walking halfway across the street, shouting “Jaywalkers! Get them!”, and turning on each other. Thank god it was a low-traffic town; we would certainly have been run down otherwise.

After deciding we had too many people named “Captain” on the team, and learning that “Captain Britain” was a registered trademark of Marvel Comics, I changed by name to the equally-British “Cricket”, which led to a bizarre running gag that I’m pretty sure only I perpetuate. For the record, the antenna are radio receivers.

Though I’ve since moved far away, the concept of the League persists. Or at least, I like to think it does. For my part, I’ve kept it alive by continually explaining it to new and bewildered friends, as well as spending an inordinate amount of time formulating a “League-Verse” surrounding our exploits. Stephen has assured me that he one day intends to write an issue of “Abyss Man”, and Dani has listened patiently to my many League-Verse rants and added all kinds of ideas of her own. Who knows what the hell Jon is doing (other than, you know, going to Business School. What’s up with that?)

*****

And that, my friends, is the tale of The League of Something Dammit, and my place in it was the faux-Britain’s #1 hero, Cricket. From here, the whole thing gets depressing.

What does the future hold for the League? Who the hell knows. To be perfectly honest, I’ve probably convinced myself it was something it never was. Outside of my head, it’s hard to say to what extent the League still ‘exists’ at all. I don’t talk to Stephen or Jon nearly enough, from what I hear Dani doesn’t hang out with them at all, and of course I live thousands of kilometers away from all of them. Maybe that’s where it all ends, drifting apart and fading away.

To get a little melancholy for a minute, I really miss those times. I have a slightly weird nostalgia for the League era, but I can’t really go back and have it be like it used to be. Life goes on, whether you want it to or not. It’s the same problem I had with leaving the castle just a few weeks ago; sometimes the world has a way of taking you away from where you really want to be, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve gone back to visit, sure (and it was great when I have), but it’ll never really be more than a visit, and this year not even that.

I’m sorry I can’t make it to home, guys. I miss you all more than I could ever put into words.

This is Cricket, signing off.

Editor’s Note: It’s been over a year since this article was published. Since then I’ve been talking to Stephen and Jon more, and apparently Dani has started hanging out with them again. But then again, now Stephen is busy with a social life and getting ready to join the Navy. Some things get better, some things get worse. That’s life.

April 28, 2007 at 10:45 pm 2 comments

A Random Assortment of Things

Turns out my time at the Call Center last night wasn’t all that bad. What do you know.

In any case, it’s time for an update on running. Some nights I come back feeling great, and some nights I come back feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck and struck by a terrible flu at the same time. Tonight was definitely that latter of the two. It’s getting a lot warmer out here, and it’s making it harder to run. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get into June.

Finally, a story:

It has been suggested by some that if one were to get a blood transfusion from Spider-Man, they would come to gain his superpowers; his blood is, after all, infused with the radiation that gave him the proportional strength and skills of a spider. In reality, a much more terrible fate would occur.

You see, it is a central tenant of the Spider-Man comics that his life must always suck. This is demonstrated early in the series (VERY early, way back in the 60’s) when Peter’s Aunt May becomes ill and needs a blood transfusion. He gladly donates his blood, being the loving and self-sacrificing nephew he is. Though gravely ill, doctors assure Peter that his donation will bring his Aunt back to full health.

Then Aunt May comes down with radiation poisoning.

How do you even deal with that? What do you tell the doctor when he asks why an already ill patient has mysteriously become irradiated? How do you explain to your loved ones that you are solely responsible for their continued pain and misery?

Does it, perhaps, go something like this?


How can you hold a grudge against a face like that?

And that’s not even to speak of the strains it puts on his secret identity.

Thanks to Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog for that awesome picture of Spider-Man. It’s even better in context. Plus, it’s a pretty awesome blog; much better than the shit I post here.

Editor’s Note: And these are the types of posts where I just put a bunch of random stuff in. It happens sometimes. Let’s just move on.

April 27, 2007 at 3:39 am Leave a comment

Dead on the Inside

No post tonight. I’m going to be spending my evening serving a dark master and an old foe; American Idol.

You wouldn’t believe how much it pains me to even talk about this.

Basically, American Idol is collecting donations for a charity, and the Call Center I used to work at got the contract to handle it. So I have to go in and work until midnight taking donations. I worked a donation line exactly once in my life, for four hours; it was supposed to be a full-time job, but it was so horrible I never went back. It literally made me sick to work there.

Expect me to emerge from the ordeal tonight a broken and empty shell of a man. Apparently my dignity is only worth $75 a night.

Editor’s Note: Surprisingly, this turned out to be the easiest job I ever did. For the first two hours we didn’t get any calls at all, and when we finally did it was all people telling us how awesome we were and what great things we were doing while giving us their money. Thanks, people! That was an easy $75 right there.

April 26, 2007 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

An Unexpected Twist

So, I’ve been sort of quietly preparing for the end lately. Galactus’ approach ever hastens, and it won’t be long until we’re all nothing but food for a Cosmic God. I’m trying to get my affairs in order, say my last goodbyes, maybe-

HOLY SHIT!

We are safe forever!

Editor’s Note: We’ll, we sure dodged a bullet there. It’s a good thing my fears from this post were unfounded.

April 25, 2007 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

The Fastest Man Alive

A follow-up to last night’s Flash post, in which I illustrate just how awesome Wally West can be. This is from an e-mail I sent Dani some time back.

*****

Dani;

This is just a message to let you know I’m constantly amazed by how goddamn awesome The Flash is.

Here’s the latest example I discovered: Early on in Grant Morrison’s (you remember him, right?) “Justice League” run, the Earth is ‘invaded’ by a group of superpowered aliens called the Hyperclan. They establish themselves as heroes to gain the trust of Earth, then take out the Justice League. Each of these aliens has the strength and speed of Superman.

Of course, they also want to capture The Flash, so they send one of their guys to chase him down. What follows is an INCREDIBLY high-speed chase around the world, during which they pick up rocks and bricks along the way and throw them at each other at high speeds and all sorts of other crazy things. Eventually The Flash realizes how good the other guy is, and decides he has to kick it up a notch. So he laps him.

AROUND THE ENTIRE EARTH.

They’re already running at superspeed, the Hyperclan guy running as fast as he can, when The Flash decides to kick it up to lightspeed and circle the planet before the other guy can blink. It’s insane.

But that’s not the coolest part.

The coolest part is when he comes up beside the guy, still moving at near-light speed, and before the guy knows what’s happening, The Flash PUNCHES HIM INTO ORBIT. Using the miracle of relativity The Flash just hits the guy so hard that he reaches escape velocity and starts circling the planet. When he finally comes back down, he lands in Africa.

The Flash punched a man so hard he went into space, and landed in another continent.

Oh god. I love The Flash.

Needless to say, the¬†Justice League¬†(particularly Batman) defeated the entire Hyperclan and saved the day. I’m of the opinion any problem can be solved with the proper application of Batman/The Flash/Green Lantern. All the other members of the Justice League are really redundant.

I am such a huge geek.

~Jacob

Editor’s Note: An account of the same event, but with pictures and more awesome, can be found at the (now defunct) Dave’s Long Box. Let it be known, now and forever, that The Flash is a badass of epic proportions.

April 23, 2007 at 6:22 am Leave a comment

For Those Who Ride on Lightning

I was sitting here tonight, trying to decide what to blog about, when suddenly I realized I’ve barely talked about the important things in life. All humanity’s striving, all their hopes and dreams and efforts, everything that’s ever mattered… what have I really said about it?

More importantly, what have I said about the man that embodies all these things?

What have I said about The Flash?

Now, as always, I exaggerate because I love.

To be perfectly serious, I think The Flash is awesome. All of them. For you see, there’s not just one Flash; over the decades there have been many of them. It’s a long story. Let me explain.


Jay Garrick: The Golden Age Flash

Back in 1940 superhero comics were still in their infancy. Superman had only been introduced in 1938, and most of the characters that followed him were cheap knockoffs. Jay Garrick, the first man to bear the title of The Flash, was different. He ran fast.

It seems like a small difference, but it was actually quite huge; Jay Garrick was one of the first characters to have only one superpower, rather than a Superman-esque plethora of abilities. It set him apart from other characters, made him special. The origins of this power are somewhat dubious; he inhaled “hard water vapours” and was endowed with incredible speed. But hey, it was the ’40s. Standards of accuracy weren’t quite so high then.

Another thing that was different about The Flash was his motive for fighting crime. Unlike Batman, who was inspired by personal tragedy, or Superman, who was raised to an impossible moral standard, Jay Garrick used his powers to fight crime because it seemed like a nice thing to do. No real overarching motivation; he was just a good guy. He also used his powers to win football games.


Is that a kicking costume or what?

In addition to being one of the first superheroes, Jay was a founding member of the first superhero team; the Justice Society of America. They had a number of adventures over the ’40s, but by the end of the decade sales were down and most characters (save Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) saw their books canceled. The Flash was nearly consigned to the dustbin of history.

And then the Silver Age happened.


Barry Allen: The Silver Age Flash

What is the Silver Age? One might as well as what Barry Allen is; for all intents and purposes, the two are one and the same.

In 1956, DC Comics became interested in reviving their superhero line. Editor Julius Schwartz had writers Gardner Fox and Bob Kanigher and penciler Carmine Infantino create a new Flash. Where Jay Garrick had been a university student, Barry was a police scientist. His creation struck comics like a human thunderbolt; so successful was he that now EVERYONE wanted to do superhero comics. It revived DC’s characters, led to the creation of Marvel, and basically revived the entire industry. It was a new glory era for comics, The Silver Age.

Besides that, Barry Allen was ridiculously awesome.

Basically, it was this period that established what The Flash is today. Struck by lightning and doused with electrified chemicals from his lab, Barry gained incredible powers of speed. Taking a cue from Jay Garrick, Barry’s motivation was simple; he was just a nice guy who wanted to help people however he could. Of course, considering he could outrun light, catch bullets out of the air, vibrate through walls, and perform dozens of other tricks, “however he could” consisted of a lot. Barry also accumulated a Rogue’s Gallery on the level of Batman or Spider-Man; vivid, iconic villains that just seemed to fit.

The classic Flash villains, such as Captain Cold or Mirror Master, just seemed to have this funny sort of innocence to them. Like The Flash, they didn’t have any deep, hidden motives and schemes behind what they did. They didn’t want to conquer the world; they just wanted to rob a bank, have a good time off the proceeds, and do the whole thing again next weekend. They weren’t particularly bad guys, they just did bad things. And of course, The Flash got in their way. What can they expect to do against a man who moves faster than light?


Really, Captain Cold doesn’t stand a chance

The other revolutionary thing Barry did? Not long into his run, Barry traveled across universe to meet Jay Garrick, the original Flash. The teamed-up, became friends, and eventually started a cross-universe alliance between the Justice League and the Justice Society. The creation of this Multiverse, ushered in by The Flash, literally defined DC Comics until 1985.

What happened in 1985? Crisis on Infinite Earths. Decided that their continuity had become too complicated, editors at DC decided to simplify things by destroying every universe except for one. This was done by introducing a villain called “The Anti-Monitor”, who sought to destroy all reality and reshape it in his own image. A key pillar in his plan was to kidnap Barry Allen, who could otherwise travel through universes at will to marshall a defense. A nigh-omnipotent villain, and of all the people in all the possible universes who could stand against him, he’s worried about The Flash. Seriously, that is respect.

In issue eight of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen escapes. Things get bad from there.


I really love this cover. It just looks awesome

The Anti-Monitor has created a weapon capable of destroying the last five universe. Barry Allen is the only person who can stand against him. The Flash does what he does best, runs fast, and saves all of existence, at the cost of his own life.

It was at this point The Flash stopped just being a comic character, and became a legend. Sure, Batman has saved the world, Superman has saved Gotham. But Barry Allen gave his life to save everything. It’s a classic heroic sacrifice on an impossibly grand scale. People have actually taken to calling him the Patron Saint of the DC Universe. No matter what any Flash does from now on, it will always be measured against Barry.

And of course, there would be another Flash. Throughout the ’60s and beyond Barry was aided by his nephew Wally West, who took the role of sidekick as Kid Flash. When you think about it, the idea of any sidekick is that they’ll one day succeed the hero; why else train a kid to follow in your footsteps? And yet, Wally West was the first to do it.


Wally West: Flash and Kid Flash
(That’s a Pretty Ugly Picture)

Basically, Wally West’s time as The Flash was one of the most consistently well-written runs on a comic ever. When it started out he was slow and unsure, trying to honour Barry’s memory without overshadowing it. Quiet unusually, Wally didn’t have a secret identity at this time; he just let everyone know he was The Flash (that was later retconned out). As the series continues he fights Barry’s old enemies, grows into his role, and comes to accept his place in The Flash dynasty.

What was great about this period is that it solidified the idea of a Flash Family. Jay Garrick took on a sort of grandfatherly role to Wally, and Barry was constantly referenced. It wasn’t a matter of them being a bunch of people who wore the same costume and had the same name, as with a few other comic lineages; there was a real sense of closeness between everyone that made the concept of The Flash seem all that more special. Probably one of the best things writer Mark Waid did with his run here was establish the concept of The Flash as something important, something that bound all these speedster characters together.

One of Waid’s best story-arcs during this time was “The Return of Barry Allen” (comic book characters have a hard time staying dead, no?). Barry quite unexpectedly returned to Wally’s life, and for awhile there were two Flashes running around. Wally, still uncomfortable and not wanting to upstage Barry, fell back into the role of sidekick; that is, until Barry nearly killed him and left him for dead. In the kind of plot-twist only acceptable in comic books, “Barry” turned out to actually be Barry’s old enemy The Reverse-Flash, who wanted to take over Barry’s role as hero and saw Wally as unworthy of the role. Wally, faced with someone actually intent on upstaging Barry, was forced to put aside his mental insecurities and operate at full capacity, not only defeating the Reverse-Flash but finally accepting his role as Barry’s successor. If this all sounds corny to you, you need to read more comics.

Wally’s run as The Flash actually came to an end not too long ago, as a result of the crossover event “Infinite Crisis” (Crisis’ are something Flash’s seem to have trouble with). Replacing him is Barry’s grandson from the future (long story) Bart Allen, who first appeared as the hero Impulse and later went on to become the second Kid Flash. The new series with Bart got off to a rocky start, but it’s starting to find it’s feet now. It’s still too early to say how it will pan out, but there’s really no doubt that The Flash will continue in some form or another.



Bart Allen: Impulse, Kid Flash and Flash

Flash Feats:
– One of the First Major Superheroes
– Founding Member of the First Superhero Team (Justice Society)
– Ushered in the Silver Age of Comics
– Responsible for the Creation of DC Multiverse
– Founding Member of the Justice League
– Saved all of Existence with Death in Crisis on Infinite Earths
– Critically Acclaimed 200-Issue Run on “The Flash: Vol. 2” (the Wally West series)
– Is Totally Awesome

Editor’s Note: Occassionally I try to do earnest, informative posts. They usually end up pretty embarrassing. This is one of those times. Perhaps it’s best to just move on?

April 22, 2007 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Seriously, I’m Just Filling Space

Ran my requisite three miles today. Two minutes slower than average, but I have been off practice for a week and a half (what with end of term and looking for a job) and it’s my first time running this route.

Also, I may have found a job. The downside is that it’s at another call center. Fuck. I seriously need to find a decent paying job that doesn’t involve me harassing people over the phone.

Also in the midst of reading Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original run on the Ninja Turtles. Expect a full, epic review shortly.

I guess that’s about all that’s going on with me lately.

Yeah…

Editor’s Note: I never did get around to writing that Ninja Turtle’s review. Shit.

April 20, 2007 at 4:51 am Leave a comment

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