I recently read through the original Stan Lee – Jack Kirby (and later, all Jim Steranko all the time) run of Strange Tales: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, which first introduced the cigar-chompin’ one-eyed Nick-Fury-as-Super-Spy to the Marvel Universe. I’ll be honest, I don’t always love older comics because their hokey nature and heavy exposition, but these were some pretty awesome spy stories. And even better they were filled with some of the most unabashedly ridiculous spy gadgets imaginable. Everything was so over-the-top and psychedelic, and with absolute no regret or embarrassment about it. And so I shared a list of my Top 10 SHIELD toys over on Tor Dot Com, mostly hoping that Joss Whedon’s now SHIELD TV series will feature every single one of them.
I have a new superhero identity.
I’m not really sure what my powers are, or if they’d be any use in a fight, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve now experienced the quintessential Spider-Man-esque (RIP) traumatic formative moment, and there is no turning back.
Today on Five By Five Hundred, I reveal my deep secret, the true origin story of my new superheroic identity: Regular Wednesday Comic Book Buyer Guy. A true hero for the modern age.
Read ahead, if you can handle it.
Is there anyone alive who doesn’t agree that Batman is totally awesome? No? That’s what I thought.
It’s also well documented by anyone who’s ever met me that I have a serious fascination with comic book writer / chaos magician / Scotsman / rockstar / occasional fictional character Grant Morrison, who, by sheer coincidence, has been guiding the adventures of the Dark Knight for the past 7 years or so as the man behind the pen. The good folks at Tor.com were kind of enough to let me indulge my Morrison obsession and love for clever poetic puzzles, and I re-read his entire story (so far) to provide a critical analysis of what appears to be his deconstruction of the identity of Batman — both as a symbol or piece of mythology, and as the man himself behind the mask, Bruce Wayne.
This undertaking proved to be much more epic than I had originally anticipated, but I’m still quite pleased with the end results. So check it out, even if you haven’t read all of Morrison’s Bat-epic (but really, you should probably do that).
This has often been on my mind, but the specific inspiration for this piece goes back to the preview screening of THE AVENGERS that I attended. Naturally, there were a lot of people in the audience wearing comic book t-shirts. Because it was a preview screening for an epic comic book movie, and comic book fans (unsurprisingly) enjoy comic book movies (although I suppose “enjoy” can be argued…) and are also the type of people who would seek out passes for a preview screening and stand in line for 2 hours just for a chance to see the movie 3 days before its release.
You know. People like me.
But in any large gathering of comic book fans (more than most other subcultures), I tend to notice a lot of awkward compliments. Kid in the Fantastic Four t-shirt sees kid in the Spider-Man t-shirt while we’re all waiting in line to go to the bathroom, and of course, he has to go up to him and say “Hey. Cool shirt,” as if he’s somehow surprised to see that someone else here likes comic books (or that somehow, someone else besides him has heard of the Amazing Spider-Man!). I don’t mean to be a miserable cynic — I’m glad that people can find those social connections, because it is both comforting, and important — I just find it odd. It’s like going up to someone wearing a Red Sox t-shirt at a Red Sox game and saying “Oh hey man, you like Red Sox, too? I love the Red Sox!” Well yes of course you’re at a fucking Red Sox game.
But I digress.
Here’s a new article I wrote for Tor.com about how Superman is either the most boringest superhero ever or the most powerful example of a modern folkhero — or possibly both. Join the debate! Them be fightin’ words, right?