Month: May 2016

Justice League: New Frontier (2008)

Comic Book historians divide the history of superhero comics into “ages”. The Golden Age lasted from the late thirties to the end of the second world war. It began with the creation of Superman and saw the births of Batman, Wonder Woman, Captains America and Marvel, the original incarnations of the Green Lantern and the Flash as well as a host of others. Owing to the ongoing unpleasantness at the time, many of these characters were patriotic, Japanazi fighting do-gooders like the greatest superhero for all time, the Original Human Torch.
“Mouse, stop showing that panel of the Original Human torch calling Hitler a liar while burning him a…” “NEVER!”

“Mouse, stop showing that panel of the Original Human torch calling Hitler a liar while burning him a…”

Also, owing to the fact that this was a brand new genre and folks were still figuring out the rules these comics tended to be absolutely batshit insane.
In the forties we had a superhero who was a giant flying eyeball. How’s that for diversity?

In the forties we had a superhero who was a giant flying eyeball. How’s that for diversity?

And then, with the war over, the superhero fad died about as quickly as it had ignited and superheroes pretty much vanished from the shelves with the exception of a few stubborn holdouts like Superman.
Now, I want you to imagine that you wake up tomorrow and everyone is playing POGs. Like, POGS are suddenly huge again. Kids are playing POGs, college students are playing POGs,  journalists are writing long earnest think pieces about the cultural ramifications of the POGsurgance instead of doing actual work. This weird fad from fifteen or twenty years back suddenly comes roaring to prominence again and never leaves and before you know it movie studios are making massive-budget spectacle movies with inter-connected continuity and people are lining down the street to watch Pog versus Pog: Dawn of Pog.  That’s kind of what happened with the dawn of the Silver Age of comics in the late fifties/early sixties. So what happened?
“Two words. Sput! Nik!”

“Two words. Sput! Nik!”

With the dawn of the space race, America became obsessed with science and its wild, stoner little sister science fiction. Whereas Golden Age heroes tended to have magical or mythical based powers, the new crop of superheroes belonged firmly in the realm of science fiction. Instead of getting his powers from an old magic lantern, the new Green Lantern was a space cop gifted with fabulous technology by a race of all powerful aliens. The new Flash was police scientist Barry Allen who eschewed the Roman mythology inspired look of his predecessor, Jay Garrick. Even the few surviving Golden Age heroes adapted to the times; I mean look at what poor Batman had to deal with for chrissakes:


Over at Marvel, the hottest new properties were Spider-man, a science student turned superhero, and the Fantastic Four, a quartet of astronauts who literally got their powers as a result of the space race.
Much like “the sixties” doesn’t simply mean the years between 1960 and 1969 but refers to an entire cultural…thing, “silver age” has come to represent a specific attitude and aesthetic in comics. The comics of this period tended to be bright, optimistic, occasionally goofy as hell and suffused with a spirit of Moon Shot era can-do. New Frontier, Darwyn Cooke’s classic  2004 love letter to that whole era, simultaneously interrogates the period in which those stories were written while simultaneously celebrating what made them great. In 2008, Cooke teamed up with his old partner Bruce Timm (Batman the Animated Series) to adapt this story as part of Warner’s line of direct to to DVD animations. Did Cooke’s work make the transition unscathed? Let’s take a look.
Blucatt ad


A Tale of Two Republics

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Donald Trump where I called him mean names and mocked the size of his tiny, tiny hands. It was fun. We all laughed. Good times.

He’s now the nominee of the Republican party.

Shit just got real

Also, around a month ago I wrote a post on the results of the most recent Irish general election and how it was going to be damn near impossible to form a government. Let’s tie those two together almost as if that was my plan all along. *tents fingers*

Trump. What? FUCK.

Trump What FUCK indeed, amigo. There’s a whole squirming nest-of-naked-baby-rats mess of factors that have brought us to this point and account for the appeal of Donald Trump.

Like racism?

 Well duh

This is a big part of it, no question. Some of it is just the general home-grown racial tension that’s been apiece with the American cultural landscape since…oh, Columbus. But more specifically to this moment in history is the fact that vast swathes of white America is in full on demographic panic. Current US immigration policies have led to a huge shift in the size of the Hispanic population relative to non-Hispanic whites, something encouraged by both main parties. The Democrats, obviously, because Hispanics form a core part of their coalition, but the Republicans too because, while they make political hay from coded racist appeals to white voters, having more low skilled workers than there are low skilled jobs helps keep wages depressed which is good news for the Koch brothers and other corporate Republican donors. Throw in lingering post 9/11 Islamophobia and a candidate who promises to deal with all of the above in short order, and presto, you have a Trump rally.

So Americans are just racist and we can all go home?

No, and here’s where I think it gets scary. Because I think the rise of Trump means that we’re seeing the final days of American democracy as we know it.

To counterbalance the grimness of that last sentence, here is a picture of a kitten wearing a jaunty little hat.


Now, I don’t mean that Trump is going to win (he probably won’t) or that once he won he’d abolish democratic institutions and declare himself dictator*. Any president who tried that (particularly one whose support in his own party is as tenuous as Trump’s) would very quickly find himself impeached, arrested or shot in no particular order.

No, the problem is built into how America actually votes. Sooner or later, Trump was going to happen.


Darwyn Cooke: 1962-2016

Man, 2016 can eat a big one.

News has broken today that Darwyn Cooke, probably one of the most skilled and distinctive comic book artists of his generation lost his battle with cancer in the early hours of this morning.

He was 53.

Despite his phenomenal talent, Cooke had a hard time breaking into the comics industry. He submitted work to the major publishing houses in the early nineties because his work was simple, elegant and utterly beautiful and that’s just not what the nineties were about.

He did however, work as a storyboard artist on Batman The Animated Series, Superman the Animated series and Batman Beyond, animating the main title of the latter. He finally found success in comics in the early 21st century, with a notable run on Catwoman, creating a new visual look for the character that was instantly iconic.  He is probably most famous for New Frontier, a story featuring most of the DC comics stable set in the late fifties/early sixties which ranks with Watchmen and Kingdom Come as one of the all-time great superhero stories.

He was also, from what I hear from my friends in the comics industry, a thoroughly wonderful bloke.

I was originally planning to review The Avengers  on the 26th. However, in light of today’s news I have decided to review a movie that I’ve been meaning to for quite some time. To commemorate the life of this remarkable artist, I will be reviewing the 2008 animated adaptation of New Frontier.

Ar dheis Dé a anam. RIP, Mr Cooke.

Unshaved Mouseketeers Assemble!

Hey guys, so you know how everyone is always saying how women in Saudi Arabia have it so easy? Yeah, they don’t say that, and there’s a reason. Longtime readers of the blog already know my friend Sahar and her blog Saharcasm.

"Good title."

“Good title.”

Sahar has just been shortlisted for the Philadelphia Creativity for a Cause contest. As well as making sweet, sweet, delicious cheese, Philadelphia is offering to fund a business idea to improve the lives of people in the middle east.  So what’s Sahar got in mind? I’ll let her explain it in her own words:

“If I win, (when I win – let’s stay positive!) I will get the mentorship and support to put my business idea to life. I want to focus on an English club for ladies in the Middle East. After living in KSA for 17 months, working as an English teacher, I have realised that it can be very difficult for women to survive. THERE IS NOTHING TO DO.

There were days where I almost went mad with boredom and I’m seeing a lot of the same from various online communities. I want to offer ladies English lessons, new mommy classes, book clubs, public speaking courses, microsoft word/excel/powerpoint course, halaqa, art & crafts, and so much more. The education system in KSA for the most part does not include any extra curricular activities so for some ladies it will be the first time they ever did anything like this. We don’t have a service like this in KSA, and anything even a little bit similar doesn’t cater specifically to the needs of the women involved. (Nurses struggling to keep up in an English speaking environment? Unemployed women without a college education who want to enter the work force?) They’re all just thrown together and given a standard course – it just doesn’t work!

I want to bring this service to the women in Saudi Arabia that really need it. I will be fighting constraints that hindered their education in the past such as – transport, childcare, timing, commitment, and cost so anyone can avail of the service. I’ve met these women, I know what they need, and they are some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life. There’s so much potential, it’s time to tap into it…”

 This is a fantastic cause and I really want to help Sahar pull this off, so if you’ve got a second, please click on this link log in with your Facebook account and give her a vote. Thanks guys.

Guest Reviews with Paper Alchemist: The Snow Queen (1995)

Hey, everyone!

And see ya later, arachnophobes!

It’s your favourite Antipodean arachnid alchemist here. Mouse is off recovering from his holiday in the Big Apple, so I’m filling his wee little shoes this week.


As Australia is home to the Big Pineapple, the Big Prawn and the Big Banana, I was very disappointed to discover that there is no Big Apple in the Big Apple.

It’s late autumn where I live at the moment. Despite the very loveliest April we’ve ever had, the Season of Mud has now begun, and I can’t feel my extremities. You might have a mental image of me lurking in some rusty outback shack, where it’s hot enough to fry bacon and eggs on the driveway, but I’m from the temperate zone in the south. And believe me, it gets cold down here. Once, in my town, it actually snowed for a couple of minutes!

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe



‘She’s dead serious, Europe! Everyone thinks I’m all about beaches and red dirt, but Antarctica’s just across the ditch from me. Sometimes people in Victoria and Tassie have to put on bloody trackie-dacks!’

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe

‘Is that some kind of anti-shark armour, or…?’


‘Nah, ya dag. Tracksuit pants.’

Long trousers!

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe



‘It’s true! Poor buggers have to cover their legs right down to the ankle.’

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe

‘Sorry. You’re – you’re fine. It’s cute. Don’t let me stop either of you.’

Right now, most of you are probably cuddling little lambies, and dancing around Maypoles with flowers in your hair (I know you don’t have swooping magpies or termite swarms, so I have adjusted my mental image of spring in the Northern Hemisphere accordingly). You guys are just coming into summer right now, so it may strike you as odd that I’m reviewing such a wintry film. But for me, today’s movie is seasonally appropriate.

Which is probably the nicest thing I can say about it.


Thoughts on New York

The lift in the hotel goes so fast and so high your ears pop.

There is a constant rumble in the background. The sound of millions of living human beings. It sounds like thunder about to break but it’s also oddly soothing.

It costs how much?

No, I don’t want to buy your CD.

The bus tour costs over $150 and is worth every damn cent.

The hotel is near a fire station, and the wail of the sirens ricochets off the sides of the skyscrapers. It sounds like wolves tearing around the tower, trying to get in.

Times Square feels like reality is breaking down around you in a bleed of colour, light and noise. If someone walked up to you and said “This is a dream. You are about to wake up.” you’d believe them.

It costs how much?

The fancy food is great. The fast food is AMAZING.

For such a large city the people are really friendly.

“Hey, what part of the UK you guys from?” “Ah ha ha. Bravely spoken.”