Saturday, April 30, 2005


Presenting a new feature here at the Klubhaus...

Since I'm forced to spend so much time home alone these days, I've been spending a lot more time on Usenet, the last bastion of seriously hardcore geek discussions, on hard-hitting topics as (for the umpteentillionth time) why Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't recognize Artoo and Threepio on Tatooine.

Most of the time, it's fun, just a chance to get one's geek on in relative anonymity. But that selfsame anonymity can, and frequently does, lead to newsgroups becoming a forum for people whose points of view make David Koresh seem like a harmless eccentric.

Therefore, I proudly present the inaugural edition of a new feature here at Das Klaun's Klubhaus...


There have been several strong candidates in the past year or so that I've been on Usenet. There was the poster in rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe who was shocked, SHOCKED to learn that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were--get this!--Jewish, and how terrible, apparently, that was for the comics industry. We didn't have the heart to tell him about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

More recently, in, there was the fella who insisted that the hit TV show Lost was "clearly" anti-Christian, Jewish-supremacy propaganda, based on his interpretation of the Matthew Fox's Jack character as a "manly hooknosed Jew," bossing around the weak, blond-haired white characters. Yes, anti-Semitism is a common thread on Usenet.

Leaving aside the Jew-bashers for now, there was a discussion recently in rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, about whether the Empire was truly evil. The poster's take was that the only overtly "evil" thing we saw the Empire do was destroy Alderaan, which he claimed was justified, because they were harboring Rebels. He went on to argue that destroying the Death Star was the true act of evil, since it meant the death of all the cooks, cleaners, and other civilian staff. This lead to lots of increasingly angry debates about things like destroying a school on the suspicion that an Iraqi terrorist MIGHT be hiding inside, before it degenerated into obscene name-calling. I withdrew at that point, claiming a moral victory, though I understand the poster and his supporters continued gleefully dragging my name through the mud.

So those are some recent candidates. The current winner of USENET KOOK OF THE WEEK comes to us from rec.arts.comics.dc.universe, where a poster named "Rotwang" offers his opinions on comic-book movies in general, in a post headlined "Wonder Woman, betterified movie?"

2) "I look like a slut, but feel good about it = female empowerment" : In
Hollwoodspeak : a strong woman is a woman who likes to show everything and
let it all hang out.
invented to betterify the character. Everybody loves gimmicks, except that
every movie is full of them.
10) "This property is solid gold, let's change it completely !!!" ...allows people to feel creative and artistic because they
invented words like "re-imagined", especially if it means putting their mark
on a property made by somebody else.

I could excerpt more of this typically paranoid rant, but there was one response I thought summed it up best:

But betterifying the property embiggens box office..."Re-imagined" is a perfectly cromulent word

Thank you for joining us for USENET KOOK OF THE WEEK. By no means should you expect the word "week" in the title to imply that this will be a weekly feature, as I fully expect this feature to wither on the vine as soon as I'm employed again. Cue ending theme music. Bow.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Friday, April 29, 2005


Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie

Where the hell was this when I first entered my current period of extended unemployability?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


This was my view for most of the show: blocked by either the mission truck, or the curtains, or by various cast members watching from the wings. Posted by Hello


My high-tech crew chief workstation. As much as I tried, I couldn't get the cast to go "hellooooooo, Cheiftain!" as they came off stage. Posted by Hello


Jovana as...well, you can see. Since the show takes place on Broadway, y'see, they thought it would be fun to include cameos by Annie and Daddy Warbucks, and Jet (or possibly a Shark, I dunno, I can't stand West Side Story.)

Shelly's going to hit me when she sees this one. Posted by Hello


The sewer backdrop: six flats, each one fourteen feet high, which had to be fitted flush together and then mounted to the flyrail to be lifted in and out. For one scene. 

There's a high school that's doing a production of Guys and Dolls in a couple of weeks; they bought this and several other set pieces from us.Posted by Hello


The Guys with "Crapshooter Ballet." I wish the pic wasn't so blurry, because these guys seriously rocked the house. And unlike the Dolls, there was only one "real* dancer among them. Posted by Hello


Just for you, Jack: The Hot Box Girls, with "I Love You A Bushel And A Peck." Posted by Hello


Cast and crew. That's a lot of people. Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 23, 2005

And just like that, here we are.

Despite a cold that hangs on with the tenacity of a psycho ex, I'm enjoying my stint as Crew Chief for G+D. Mainly I've just had to sit at the podium in the wings and listen on the headset for the scene changes. Of course, I already know all those cues, having been set monkey for several weeks. And then, with the constant game of crew roulette, we're frequently left one or two people short, which means that once again, I've been having to jump in and do the scene changes myself.

You know the old theater rule that a shitty dress rehearsal means a great opening night? If there's any sort of corollary for closing night, then tonight will be spectacular, because the penultimate show last night was a ragged success, an amazing disgrace that managed to fly despite the best efforts of everyone involved.

First, we started twenty minutes late. We're all used to holding the curtain if there's still a line outside, but at eight o'clock there were about sixty people outside, one person manning the box office, and more people still showing up. Hey, people, don't show up at eight o'clock for an eight o'clock show! Even if it is at the Metro! Oh, and if you DO feel the need to show up late, at least have the decency to laugh and applaud at the proper junctures, ya stingy bastards.

Anyway, once we finally got this party started, it seemed that at every turn something was trying to scuttle the ship; there was a surprise improv by Nathan Detroit (trying desperately to wring a laugh out of a line that no one EVER realizes is a joke), some verses switched in "Adelaide's Lament" (but, trooper that she is, she covered with nary a hitch). While moving a truck, I clocked one of the Hot Box Girls who was standing too close behind a curtain, then, in a fine example of instant karma, I got clocked by the exact same truck when I wasn't looking where I was going.

Plus, illness is eating through the cast like Washington's men at Valley Forge. I've been dealing with this cold for over a week now, so I've learned to guzzle OJ, suck on cough drops, and time my coughing fits so they're covered by applause. But the dressing rooms are sounding more and more like an asthmatics ward. Plus, they tell me that that smell backstage was Sky Masterson farting, but personally I think he may have died. Living people don't make that kind of stink.

Let me tell you a little story that's made this whole experience worth it:

There's a song called "More I Cannot Wish You," sung by Brother Abernathy to Sarah Brown after she thinks she's been suckered by Sky. Brother Abernathy is a fun supporting role; he's Sarah's surrogate father figure at the mission where she works, and is the only male character in the show who's not playing an angle--he's just a nice old fella, singing to Sarah how he wishes nothing more for her than to find someone who will treat her right. It's a nice, quiet moment amid all the big musical moments. And you couldn't ask for a better young ingenue than Laura, who plays Sarah; just turned 20, she has an amazing soprano voice, and that you-ripped-my-heart-out stare that girls that age pull off so convincingly.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to Rodney, who plays Abernathy. Five years ago he played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Laura, then only 14, was the understudy for Hodel. They clicked, and in the last few years they've kept in touch, and done several more shows together. He's watched her grow up in theater, and he told me he feels like an uncle to her. When he sings "More I Cannot Wish You," it's not Arvide Abernathy singing to Sarah Brown, it's Rodney singing to Laura.

You can't manufacture moments like that. You can only hope to be lucky enough to be there when they happen.

I'm gonna miss this cast.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Friday, April 15, 2005

To every season, turn turn turn, or something like that. I ain't good with metaphors.

Important news #1: by this time next week, I'll be a real boy. Next thursday morning, I have my interview with Canadian Immigration which, barring some random final hoop they make me jump through, will FINALLY grant me my Permanent Resident status. I'll finally be able to get a job in Canada, which, I'm told, means I should apply at the Blockbuster Video across the street.

Important news #2: Just when I was settled in to being set-monkey for Guys and Dolls, the whole thing has been whacked in the rump with a stick. The big kind.

Sara and Greg, I may have mentioned, work for Princess Cruises. They spend about three-quarters of the year running shows on cruise ships. Then they get their annual extended vacation, and what do they do? They go to work on Guys and Dolls at the Metro. Now THOSE are people who love their work. And they're damn good at it, too. I've learned more about the crew end of things in the three weeks I've been working with them than I did in five-odd years in Tacoma and Seattle. Plus they're a lot of fun to work with.

Unfortunately, this vacation has been cut short; they got called on wednesday to fly to England today to start building the next round of cruise ship shows.

I can't fault them at all for leaving. This is their job, after all, and they get paid a metric buttload for it. On the other hand...*sob* don't leave! *whimper*

The one upshot of all this: Sara was crew chief. I've worked closely with her through the whole run, and I'm the only person who's been there for every show.

Wednesday afternoon it was "so, Rich, I guess you'll be doing Sara's job."

Wednesday night it was "Rich, I guess you'll be de facto crew chief."

Thursday afternoon it was "Rich, I guess you're acting crew chief."

Thursday night: Meet the new official Crew Chief.

Can I go back to set-monkey?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I know many of you have been entertained over the years with the wierd shit my brain dredges up while I'm in REM sleep, so I'll share this tidbit from a dream I had while napping on the couch the other day.

My dog Coco showed up (this is not unusual; the emotional scarring I suffered from his death in 1991 gives me one or two Coco dreams a year). I was happy to see him back from the dead, so I picked him up and was scratching his belly (he loved that) and asking him if he had been having fun in doggy-heaven with Shanny, his mother.

He put his paw on my hand like a drag queen about to say something catty, and he said to me, "all she does is talk about the war."

Good night. Snuffy Smith, y'all.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Speaking of sick and twisted images from DC...

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Friday, April 08, 2005


Declining Comics

(Despite popular demand, I am presenting the sub-rant that goes into more detail about DC's post-Crisis missteps. If it seems awkward, it's because I wrote this big whack of text, then decided to cut it, then went ahead and brought it to a close to post here. Please direct all complaints to my anus)

The Flash—Barry Allen, that is—was killed in the Crisis, leaving Wally West, formerly Kid Flash, to take up the mantle. Green Arrow—Oliver Queen—left the fictional Star City for Seattle, abandoned all his fun trick arrows (no boxing glove or handcuff arrows in the new DCU, thankyewvermuch), and eventually died.

We’re all well aware of the atrocities committed against Superman. Some of what John Byrne did with his retcon I can get behind; Superboy (“The Adventures Of Superman—When He Was A Boy!) was never more than a sales gimmick, and I love that he left Ma and Pa Kent alive. I like the idea that Superman—the ultimate Nitschean symbol—can go back to the farm for pie and parental advice.

But Byrne couldn’t stop there. Stories and ideas that used to come fast and furious in the gold and silver ages were now tangled in jumbled and convoluted plot threads spread over multiple titles. Brainiac was no longer just a superintelligent android from outer space, now there was some cruff about a telepathic circus performer possessed by an alien superintelligent consciousness, who eventually split off into a new body and became the leader of a cosmic police force. Or something. This was years ago, and I can’t be arsed to go look it up because frankly it’s not worth the effort.

Even worse, Byrne felt the need to “justify” Superman’s code against killing, by having him suffer crippling guilt after executing three Phantom Zone villains who had murdered a world (thus depriving the post-Crisis DCU the pleasure of Kneeling Before Zod). The Superman I grew up with didn’t kill—say it with me, Buffy fans—because it’s wrong. And if Superman can’t figure that out for himself, what hope does anyone else have?

But for many, the worst artistic atrocities were committed against Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern.

Since his first Silver Age appearance (leaving aside the golden age Lantern, Alan Scott), Jordan, a fearless Air Force test pilot, was a member of the Green Lantern Corps, who patrolled sector 2814 (AKA Earth and environs) with his Power Ring, which actualized his will. A simple, creative premise, with endless possibilities. One issue Hal could be on earth, the next he could be having far-flung adventures in space with other Green Lanterns.

Post-Crisis, however, Jordan took rather a beating.

It began with the sickening “Death Of Superman” storyline in 1992. Remember that? All the news stories breathlessly reporting that “Superman’s gonna die!” as if death was ever a permanent thing in comics, with wannabe-with-it feature writers trying to prove their comics cred by whipping up fake obituaries stating that Supes was survived by “his son Superboy” or that the coffin was carried by “his friend Spider-Man.”

In the aftermath of the death (meaning, the time until he was resurrected), there was a long, confusing saga involving four supposed “replacement” supermen (note lack of capitalization), that’s too convoluted to get into. Anyway, at the climax of this “Reign Of The Supermen,” Green Lantern’s homebase of Coast City was blown up, vaporizing seven million people.

Popular entertainment, folks. Pre-9/11, at least.

This drove Jordan rather over the deep end; he became obsessed with restoring Coast City with his Power Ring. When his own ring proved insufficient, he went on the rampage, murdering other Green Lanterns and stealing their rings, and eventually killing the Oans, the aliens who formed the GL Corps, and trying to use their Power Battery, still to no avail.

It was about this time, around 1994, that the cracks from the Crisis were starting to show. Changes to history were causing confusing gaps in continuity; if there was no longer a Superboy to time-travel to the 30th century, does that mean those Legion Of Super-Heroes stories never happened? Which of the thirty-nine origins of Hawkman was true? So they created Zero Hour, (yet) another (goddamn) company-wide crossover to try to fix the fix.

In Zero Hour, time is fluctuating, yadda yadda, and Hal Jordan is now the villain Parallax, who is trying to recreate the universe from the beginning of time to retroactively prevent tragedies like Coast City.

Jordan appeared to have been killed (by his old friend Green Arrow), but I guess he survived, because in the miniseries Final Night, the sun was extinguished (or so I’m told—I didn’t read it) and Jordan, in a last-ditch bid for some goodwill by DC, sacrificed himself to reignite it and save the world.

DC continued to try to make Hal a going concern by making him the human consciousness (or something) for the supernatural character The Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance. Meanwhile the DCU proper is left without a Green Lantern Corps, effectively sealing themselves off from the unlimited story possibilities they offered.

I haven’t even mentioned other non-event events like Invasion! (alien invasion results in “meta-gene” bomb, giving superpowers to ordinary people with a latent genetic mutation—an attempt to explain things like why getting hit by lightning gave Barry Allen superspeed instead of, y’know, frying him), or Hypertime, an attempt to gloss over continuity glitches by describing time as a river, with tributaries flowing in and out of the main stream(how could the Blackhawks have fought with the JLA, when they were killed in the 1950s? Hypertime! Why is Elongated Man wearing this costume in this flashback, when he didn’t start wearing this costume until years later? HYPERTIME! It’s the DCU equivalent of “a wizard did it). All this does is give the sense that the DCU, the actual physical universe that the characters live in, is like a rickety house with lots of leaks that’s going to collapse any day.

Hey, could that be the Infinite Crisis?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Disturbing Comics, Part 2

With the 20th anniversary of Crisis On Infinite Earths approaching, it’s only natural that DC would revisit the event. And with the entire comics industry in decline, it seems only natural that they would start considering a return to something approximating their fun old, multiversal salad days.

The groundwork was laid in the excellent Superman/Batman, an update of the old World’s Finest. Superman/Batman is actually a very cool series. It’s been a continuation of DC’s return to form, because who doesn’t recall all those great old crossover stories, with Batman dressing up as Superman to fool Lois Lane, or Luthor and the Joker teaming up? Back in the day Big Blue and Ol’ Batty (okay, they never called each other that, but dammit, they should have) were the best of friends. Post-crisis, the differences in their respective crimefighting methods always seemed to lead to tension, if not outright hostility. Superman/Batman gives us the best of both approaches, with two men who respect and trust each other, even when they differ in their methods.

In the first S/B arc (in these days of decompressed storytelling, if you don’t do a six-issue arc that can be collected as a trade paperback, you might as well be making cave paintings, amirite?), President Lex Luthor (long story) attempted to discredit, then kill Superman with the Government’s Kryptonite stockpile, forcing Superman to seek help from Batman. At the end of the arc, Luthor had been disgraced and fled the white house, once more a common criminal. We last saw him donning that kickass green-and-purple battle armor he used to wear in the 80s, and declaring “there will be a reckoning…a crisis…”

Yeah, that word. You say the word “crisis” in, or about, the DCU, it takes on a certain ominous significance. Hence Luthor’s vow. Hence Identity Crisis. And hence…Countdown.

Countdown was announced a couple of months ago, with the Alex Ross cover image quickly circulating across the net. Who, everybody wondered, was the lifeless figure Batman was holding? Nightwing? Martian Manhunter? Christ, did he lose another Robin?

More details began to emerge. Countdown would be a $1, 80-page one-shot, “spinning out of the events of Identity Crisis!” It would lead to five separate miniseries, each one, ahem, “spinning out of the events of Identity Crisis!” It would be written by such DC bigshots as Geoff Johns (the one who’s been doing such great stories with the Flash), Greg Rucka (a crime novelist who’s currently writing Batman) and, I’m sorry to say, Judd Winick.

Winick, you may recall, was the schlubby cartoonist from The Real World San Francisco. Over the last few years, Winick has wormed his way into comics, making his bones with Pedro and Me, a graphic novel about his friendship with HIV-positive Real World castmate Pedro Zamora. Basically the plot was this: Pedro had AIDS, I knew him, therefore I am interesting.

That’s my take, at least. The fact is, Winick is a middling creator, the type who, if he didn’t have the TV credit, would be lucky to work on a copyright-maintaining Speedball miniseries for Marvel. But because he was on TV with a guy with AIDS, he’s somehow tricked the comics industry into thinking he’s actually talented. He’s currently writing Green Arrow, in which Mia Dearden (a character introduced by Kevin Smith during his run) contracts HIV. But at least Winick’s not a one-gimmick writer.

Countdown was released this past Wednesday. And the first surprise was the full title: Countdown…To Infinite Crisis.

Once again, it’s not a bad story, on the surface. Like Identity Crisis, it does a nice job of illustrating the pecking order of the DCU, the way even seasoned veterans can feel like n00bs in the presence of a heavy-hitter like Superman, or how a third-stringer like Booster Gold is considered beneath Batman’s notice. In the story, Blue Beetle (yes, an 80-page special focusing on Blue Beetle. At least it’s only a buck) discovers that someone has been embezzling from his company, Kord Industries. Yadda yadda yadda, the trail leads him to Maxwell Lord, the corporate bigshot and former leader of Beetle and Booster’s Justice League of Bwahaha. Lord, it seems, has been quietly consolidating his power, collecting inside information on the heroes, and setting himself up as a big-time supervillain. Naturally, he can’t let Blue Beetle leave alive.

Naturally, this has been a blow to the remaining fans of the 80s League; the characters had, in fact, recently been making a comeback, in the miniseries Formerly Known As The Justice League, and the sequel, I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League, both by the original creative team of Giffen, DeMatteis, and original artist Kevin Maguire. Just when they get their beloved characters back, Max Lord turns evil, Blue Beetle gets shot in the head, and Booster Gold gets blowed up real good.

And this is the crux of DC’s own identity crisis. On the one hand, they’re recognizing the Crisis as the moment things turned ugly for them, and they’re making a real effort to get back to that era. Bringing back Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen, restoring Kara of Krypton as Supergirl, putting their biggest heroes against their biggest villains in the most epic adventures. They’ve even announced their “All-Stars” line, putting top creators like Grant Morrison and Frank Miller on their top characters, in what they describe as “Continuity-Free” stories, designed to appeal to the casual comics reader who’s not steeped in DC lore. In other words, Dick Grayson is Robin, Lois doesn’t know Clark is Superman, Luthor is a mad scientist. This is good. On the other hand, in the DCU proper, they seem to be going about this return to form in a hamhanded way, putting beloved characters through the wringer for little more than cheap drama and sales stunts.

We still don’t know what this “Infinite Crisis” actually will be; following countdown, we get four miniseries, the only one of which that interests me is The Rann-Thanagar War, pitting Hawkman’s people against Adam Strange’s adopted homeworld (and let me just say now that the recent Adam Strange miniseries was a fine return to sci-fi form for DC—can we hope for an Atari Force revival? Probably not). Besides that, you’ve got Day Of Vengeance, with the Spectre looking for a new human host now that Hal Jordan is back to Green Lanterning, Villains United, with Luthor’s new super-villain coalition, and the OMAC Project, which…I dunno, all DC says is that it “unravels the world of our heroes.”

All this, apparently, will lead into the aforementioned Infinite Crisis. Internet speculation is that all this doom and gloom is a red-herring, and that IC will be a big CTRL-Z for the DCU, returning it more or less to a pre-1986 state. This, of course, would present a whole new set of problems, since they’d still be wiping out twenty years worth of storylines. As a lifelong DC junkie, I’ll be there, just like I’ve always been. But watch out, DC; as Marvel learned during the 90s, short-term sales stunts (companywide crossovers, endless variant editions) combined with bad stories (dear god, that Spider-Man clone saga) will break the patience of even the most ardent loyalist.

And while we’re on the subject, is it too much to ask for a Swamp Thing series that doesn’t suck ass?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Disturbing Comics

So what the hell’s up with DC Comics these days?

First, I think it’s time to come right out and say something: ever since Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1986, most of DC’s output has been crap. Leaving aside the confusing and contradictory retconned origins of major characters (leaving us with about sixteen differing backstories for Hawkman), a great deal of their output, even though it’s been by some reasonably talented creators, has been confusing, depressing, or insulting.

The fun, freewheeling old DCU disappeared. There used to be epic, star-spanning tales of adventure, that span by so quick that you didn’t have time to ponder the gaps in logic. But post-crisis, everything became a mess of tangled continuity and creators fucking with beloved characters for no apparent reason. Green Arrow died, for no readily apparent reason. Instead of the superintelligent android Brainiac, we get a circus performer possessed by an alien telepath (or something—it’s not really worth it to look it up). We have to settle for Kyle Raynor as an earthbound Green Lantern, since Hal Jordan—a great character, in a clever premise with limitless possibilities—turned evil and nearly destroyed the universe trying to restore his destroyed hometown.

(I’ve cut a long passage here, that went into further detail about some of DC’s missteps during this time. It’s of little interest to those of us not marinated in DC continuity—you lucky bastards—but if you have any interest I may post it as sort of a sub-rant)

By the mid-90s, the “grim n’ gritty” phase that Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns had ushered in was finally ending; rather than endlessly deconstructing superheroes simply for the shock of turning benevolent mentors into Nazi sex demons, comics like Astro City and Supreme were starting to sincerely reexamine the history of the genre, and what exactly made it fun in the first place. Supreme, in fact, was the work of Alan Moore himself, as if doing penance for the damage his influence had on comics.

The turnaround for DC began, if I may offer an opinion, when they put Grant Morrison on Justice League.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the version of the Justice League that had been around through the late 80s and early 90s was certainly enjoyable, with writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis turning out a sort of running superhero sitcom (‘BWAHAHAHA!”). But, I’m sorry, when your highest profile character is Blue Beetle, you shouldn’t be calling yourself the Justice League.

No, the Justice League is supposed to be DC’s big guns, your Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Greens Lantern and Arrow, and a revolving slate of DC staples, in stories that shake universes. And that’s what Morrison gave us. Infant universes growing in petri dishes. Luthor and the Joker starting a new Injustice Gang. An alternate future where Darkseid rules the Earth, where the Atom kills him by frying his brain from the inside. THAT’s what I want from DC; you can leave the jumbled continuity and angsty pseudodrama to Marvel, thanks.

For a lot of people, the DCU has been feeling reenergized, with writers like Geoff Johns reinvigorating the Flash’s rogues gallery (he always had some of the best villains), and Kevin Smith (yay!) resurrecting Green Arrow in a way that managed to be entertaining and logical, while still positively dripping with DCU-goodness. And they’re currently in the process of restoring Hal Jordan as the “one, true” Green Lantern (as long as you don’t count Alan Scott, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Gnort, or…geez, never mind).

There seems to be a genuine effort by DC to get back to a reasonable facsimile of their pre-Crisis identity. While this is a good thing in theory, some of their efforts are starting to make a lot of people rather nervous.

The trouble began with last summer’s miniseries Identity Crisis. Yes, the choice of words in the title was intentional.

The plot kicked off with the murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man (not to be confused with Plastic Man, Elastic Lad, Mr. Fantastic, or either version of Elasti-Girl). It was a classic “locked-room” murder mystery, and was proving unsolvable, despite the fact that it was being investigated by the world’s greatest detective, a man with x-ray vision, a man who could shrink to the size of an atom, and at least one bona fide god.

Through the investigation we learned, with more yadda yadda, that several years ago, certain members of the Justice League had telepathically altered several villains. Dr. Light getting to be too much of a threat? Neuter him and let the Teen Titans have their way with him. Worse, when Batman found out…they futzed with his brain too.

The good part of the story was the way it depicted the DCU as a community, where all the heroes knew (and had opinions) of each other. It showed the pecking order (Superman, Batman, and everyone else), the shared history, and some great interactions between the characters.

The bad part was the actual story, beginning with Sue’s brutal murder, flashing back to her attempted rape by Dr. Light (leading to his mindfuck), and ending with a lame explanation that Jean Loring, the ex-wife of the Atom, dunnit, in hopes of forcing a reconciliation. To sum up: rape, murder, mindfucks, and a long-beloved supporting character going kill-crazy. Did we learn nothing from the fall of Hal Jordan?

NEXT: Once again, it’s all Judd Winick’s fault.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Week 2 of Guys and Dolls proceeds apace (at least I assume it does, since I'm not quite sure what exactly "apace" means). Did you know that Marlon Brando starred in the movie version? I can't see that at all. But Sinatra played Nathan Detroit, and that I can get behind. I also didn't know the song "I Love You A Bushel And A Peck" was from this show; I always thought it was some old kiddie song. And Shelswick confirms that it was covered by Sharon Lois and Bram (or maybe Raffi, or Tim Noah, but really, what's the fucking difference?), so I'm not TOTALLY assbraining.

We're well into our ongoing game of Crew Roulette now. To wit: Mario from the stage right crew is busy this week, so Greg from stage left has gone over to the other side. He spent a night training Seamus Finn, who looks and talks just like you'd imagine a Seamus Finn to look and talk. But Seamus was apparently only there for one night, leaving Greg and Janos alone the rest of this week. Mario is back next week, but Janos is gone.

On stage left, Greg's defection has somehow left me as the "experienced, knowledgeable" one, so it was down to me to lead Jen, Greg's temporary replacement. Fortunately, Jen has done this before, and has picked things up quickly. Plus she's been coming up with dirty lyrics to the songs, and she looks like Michelle Trachtenberg, so stage left has been a fun place to be this week. Naturally, she's only there this week, so last night we started training her replacement. His name is also Greg, which gives us two Gregs, a Rich and a Richard, a Sara in the crew as well as a character named Sarah, and roughly eighteen Andrews, at my last count.

I relate all this because I know it is of utmost importance to you all. Message ends.


Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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