Monday, December 26, 2011

Battle of the stretchers: Elongated Man vs. Mr. Fantastic vs. Plastic Man

Googling Elongated Man pics I run into a very interesting one pitting Platic Man and him agains Mr. fantastic. It turns out that some people from the Comic Vine have made a battle contest for artists in which they should portray the two stretchers and the shapeshifter in a 3-way fight. The idea was conceived by J_Evan:
"So, I really wanted to do a battle contest between two rubbery characters but I couldn't limit it to one or the other DC characters, so I'm giving you guys some flexibility (pun intended) with this one. Draw a battle scene between at least two of the following three characters: Mr. Fantastic, Plastic Man and the Elongated Man."
So far, maxicere posted this, which I my favorite:

KEROGA's post reminded me of the Three Stoonges (which are getting a new movie with a great cast, btw):

And finally, Payno decided to leave it between the two stretchers:

Fun to see how in two of those pics Ralph's uniform is the one from Justice League Unlimited and the other, KEROGA's, has the original version (the one from the 80s). Maybe it's because the other one is too similar to Plasti Man's.

KEROGA and Payno took some free license with the stretchers, since they cant really shapeshift (although Ralph became a bit of a molder in the 90s).

Here is the link to the original thread in Comic Vine, The contest started three weeks ago ans is still going on, so you might want to check it out now and then.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have a Merry Christmas, everybody!

Merry Christmas, Jean, Sue, Ralph, Iris, Barry and Ray!
Merry Christmas Julie, Gardner, John, Carmine, Murphy, Joe, Len, Dick, Gerry, Mike, Ty, Keith, John Marc, Bart, Mark and Brad.

Merry Christmas Frank, IndiaInk, Shag, Jay, Michael, Matt, Saranga, Rafael, Aleus, Martin, Busterella, Daniel and the rest of my very appreciated readers.

... and very Elongated holdays!

I tried to find a decent Christmasy picture of the Elongated Man and all I got was a weird Justice League story from the issue #152 of the original run and the one you are seeing, which comes from Earth-51, from Countdown to Final Crisis #19. I guess a better pic of Ralph (or Ralph and Sue) would be in my X-mas wish list, haha. By the way, I'm not sure about Jean, but there's one tiny Jew in that party, so the pic also works for the season holidays in general.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Justice League International: The Movie

Justice League International by Daniel Morpheus.
Brazilian Deviantartist, Daniel "Morpheus", created this Justice League International picture to see what a movie with his ideal cast would look like. Here is his pitch:
"This is a poster that I've made with my cast for a Justice League International Movie.

The cast is:

     Damien Lewis as Elongated Man
     Zooey Deschanel as Sue Dibny
     Zachary Levi as Blue Beetle
     Tom Cruise as Maxwell Lord
     Garrett Hedlund as Booster Gold
     Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Fire
     James Caviezel as Captain Atom
     Hannah Sperritt as Ice

To direct the movie no one better than Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead). I always imagine this movie as a British comedy, with the perfect balance between comedy, drama and action.
I think the cast couldn't be better (how about that Mary Elizabeth Winstead?!! huminahuminahubba!!). I'm really sold on this idea. Very few actreses are charismatic and cute enough to play Sue, but only Zooey has what it takes. Lewis, on the other hand, has an odd face for Ralph, who should rather look like a young Dick van Dike; however, he has the built, the red hair and he can really pull clever. Winstead definitively has the body type (tall, curvy, great shoulders), but I'm not sure she can play a sassy, loud and spicy girl from Brazil. Tom Cruise as Maxwell Lord takes the prize. It's just brilliant; between his "show me the money" and this, Max definitively falls between Cruise's range.

I love how the picture integrates the most memorable members and elevates them as pop cult icons portrayed by contemporary celebrities. I just love that colorful reticule. Not to mention the impressive portrayals and their rendering.

That is a movie I'd like to see. I can even imagine the plot: The entire JLA but the Elongated Man gets lost in a battle against Despero and, after months of absence, Maxwell Lord recruits him for the new JLI, a project in which nobody has faith. Despite their limited competence, after accidentally saving Paris from a Bialyan attack (after the French had a misunderstanding with the Gadaffi-esque Rumaan Harjavti) little by little they gain the public trust. After gaining other battles (which will serve as opportunities for cameos by the Injustice League, Manga Khan, Starro and Mr. Nebula) and, with them, more popularity, they run into an a surviving Batman and the Martian Manhunter, who assign them a mission to rescue the rest of the real League. They accomplish their mission, but end up about to be blasted by Despero. However, the real JLA pulls a last minute deux ex machina. Finally, both leagues are restored, with Batman and the Martian as liaisons. How about that?

Anyway, there's more art where that came from. Daniel is a very gifted artist and is blessing us with a lot of samples of his art at his Deviantart page.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Busterella strikes again!: Pokemon JLI

I found new fan art form favorite of this blog, Busterella, whose Dibny portraits always catch perfectly the true spirit of the couple. It's called "Superbuddies-Pokemon Rangers", check it out:

Top to bottom and left to right: Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Sue and Ralph Dibny, Fire & Ice, Guy Gardner and Maxwell Lord. 
It's the second pic I see from a Deviant artist combining elements of JLI / Super Buddies with Pokemon Rangers (which, I suppose, is a later incarnation of the Pokemon thing). However, there's no actual connection between the the two of them and I'm still trying to find out why is this a thing. According to Busterella, Pokemon crossovers with anything are common. She describes is as "Silly scribble-y crossover tomfoolery".

The other one is even more eclectic, it throws Aladdin and a character from Batman: The Brave and the Bold into the mix (what, no fire?).

Ice, the Dibnys, Guy and Captain America, Flash and his wife, Linda Parker, Aladdin and Jasmine, and the Music Meister.
Art by Clazziquai
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, Busterella has impressive pics done with digital media. She's crazy-talented when it comes to coloring (you hear that, DC?). For more of her fantastic art, go to her Deviantart profile: . She's a talent to watch!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man: Personality Profile

Here's my perception of Ralph's personality:

Self - Confident79%
Self - Sacrificing22%

And here's why...

Like most of the characters in serial fiction, the Elongated Man's personality has suffered changes throughout time. As faithful as some can be, every writer has a different vision of the character. Even his fans have different perceptions of the ductile detective.

In his first six adventures, John Broome portrayed him as a superhero with an odd behavior. There wasn't much to his personality, only that he was a little more easy going that Flash (who was an easy going superhero himself). Neither of them gave the overly dramatic/heroic speeches that Batman or Superman use to give. Additionally, Ralph was eclectic and creative in his decisions. He didn't have a base operations, used his super powers to make a fortune, got married (which wasn't common for superheroes at the time) and gave up his secret identity.

Even though his dialogue is plain in these early appearances, his actions speak plenty for him. His temperament is established as primordially sanguine and secondarily phlegmatic. He's laid back and a great entertainer; he's rarely angered and always open minded and optimistic. His actions are bold and he is a success magnet: first, he arrives to Central City and, as a rookie, he overshadows the fastest man alive in his own game; he still becomes Flash's best friend; then, he becomes a showman and makes a fortune in a sec, retires, marries Sue Dearbon, a beautiful heiress, and starts to travel the World with her on a perpetual honeymoon. This extreme path of success follows them the rest of their adventures, throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, they become intimate friends of the most powerful people in the DCU, he is awarded membership of it's most powerful superteam team (12th member and one of the longest staying) and he did all of that almost effortlessly and while having fun. Not to mention that she becomes a talented hacker, Bureau Chief of the Justice League Europe and a best selling mystery writer. It's a canon fact that Ralph Dibny takes the best in life and is very serious about enjoying every bit of it. However, he's very methodical and diligent.

During this period a mild enthusiasm for mysteries start.

Ralph begins to be portrayed as a detective in Flash #138, his 7th appearance.
After his 7th appearance, writer Gardner Fox took over and made him more eclectic, his enthusiasm for mysteries became love for them. He also became a bit of a laid back joker (nothing extraordinary), a media hound and a spoiling husband. He had a relaxed, "everything will work out" attitude since his first appearance, and it was only reinforced when his solo adventures started. He and his wife were modeled after Nick and Nora Charles, from The Thin Man film series. They would tease each other about their habits, but they respected and indulged each other's mild hedonism and had a drama-free marriage. This portrayal was kept during the 70s, in his Detective Comics and Justice League of America appearances.

Nora and Nick Charles, the main influence on the Dibnys.

The begining or Ralph's clowning.

During the 80s there was some exploration. When Batman retired from the JLA, writer Gerry Conway made Ralph the idea guy of the team; casually stating his deductions and suggesting plans of action. Meanwhile, Mike W. Barr proposed that his sense of humor was a defense mechanism to avoid thinking about the tragedy of the cases he often took. He also defined Ralph as a detective fiction expert, to the point that he was a World authority on Sherlock Holmes literature.

The Elongated Man meets his idol, the Great Detective.

In the late 80s, Gerard Jones, Mark Waid, J. M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen accentuated him as a guy who loves attention, even if it takes slapstick humor and self deprecating jokes to get it. This is the way he remained during the 90s. In the early Justice League Europe stories, Giffen and DeMatteis had him as a witty guy who joked with his wife but also encouraged and appreciated her talent, they also explored his relationship with Wally West, the current Flash and the former sidekick of his best friend; when DeMatteis was replaced with Jones, the character development stopped and when Giffen left, he became an inept clown, by far, the worst and most destruct destructive portrayal of the character. My theory is that it ruined the character for other writers during the rest of the 90s.

Ralph portrayed as a really goofy character.

In 2003, Giffen and DeMatteis took away the slapstick and went back to witty humor with his wife, echoing their Thin Man influences.

His appearances in Justice League Unlimited was very similar to it.

Brad Meltzer made a serious and thoughtful sketch of Ralph as a person and husband in Identity Crisis and then, in 52, after the death of Sue, Mark Waid and Grant Morrison turned him into a more serious and detective. Both stories portrayed him as a really sharp detective, very similar to Sherlock Holmes in his method.

Ralph's portrayal in Identity Crisis #1.

Now, from what I perceive, fans of the Elongated Man share a common vision of the way he should be portrayed. We all seem to agree that, as Barr, Meltzer and Waid portrayed him, he's primordially a detective. I think that he should keep what I consider his two biggest influences Nick Charles and Sherlock Holmes. Since his first Detective Comics story, he became the type of sleuth that can make great deductions from observing details in scenes or people. Identity Crisis indicated that he's able to memorize all those details even under great stress. New stories should focus on this. Check it out, it can be really cool:

Despite his sanguine temperament, he's very methodical and diligent. He does stuff like memorizing details about people and scenes and he's rarely late or stressed by work, all trademarks of phlegmatic people. It wouldn't be a bad idea for the next writer to expand on his habits. I bet he dedicates part of every day to activities like practicing his memory skills, training his body, spending time with Sue, reading the news and, as Barr established, some detective fiction classics. Regarding his physical skills, the brightest observation I have ever heard from another fan is that he is likely to spend time every day on them. Training his body to get the most out of his super stretching: controlling mass, balance, shape, strength. Even his senses must be affected by this. Around the satellite era, he started to shapeshift to change his face, by the JLI era, he was able to create a bulldog head out of his hand.

There is also the matter of the extent of his super power. I has never been said, but the way he often made his hands huge and lifted men with each imply that he has super strength. Bigger hands don't have more mass, just the same mass in a bigger volume, which means less strength. An ability that has been mentioned but is not that famous is the speed of his stretching; some stories mention that he can reach dozens of feet within a fraction of a second, other show him using his knuckles or his chin as projectiles that knock out villains, which indicate an enormous speed and strength. Something that rare writers explore are the possibilities implied by stretching, like tuning his senses so that he could see, hear and smell beyond normal human capabilities. If he can stretch his chest and head cavities, he can basically produce any sound. He's also able to resist and absorb great impacts (he once stopped a truck). He has used his body as a rubber band (even serving as a bow for Green Arrow) and he can become thin as a sheet; in theory, this means that he can project himself into the air and then control his shape to navigate the wind (That's when he's not using his arms to move across the buildings like Spider-man).

When it comes to his sense of humor, consensus seems to indicate that it is a trademark that is should be kept. However, there are certain aspects from it that don't work. Here, Plastic Man is often used as a point of reference. He also became a big joker in the late 80s, only he was even bigger on slapstick; so it's commonly said that Ralph is like Jerry Seinfeld while Plas is more like Jerry Lewis (or Jim Carrey). Personally, given his profession, I think Ralph should have the observational humor of Seinfeld but with the quick wit of David Spade and maybe with the cultural references of Dennis Miller (EM strikes me as the kind of guy that pays a lot of attention to the news). Maybe a bit of Conan O'Brian's playfulnes wouldn't be so far from the Nick Charles mold. He's not the type that would make mean jokes about other people, but I can definitely can see him making "that's a shame" kind of comments about the goofiness of some of his friends.

I believe that a thoughtful portrayal that works expanding the trademarks that Gardner Fox, Mike Barr, Gerry Conway, Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, Brad Meltzer and Mark Waid left would make him a more solid DC character. Writers just need to use Ralph and Sue's rich profiles in classic detective fiction formulas (with the superhero twist, of course). They just need to do with him what TV has already done with characters like Nick Charles, Columbo, Jessica Fletcher, Poirot, Monk, Murdoch, Shawn Spencer or Patrick Jane. Cold open, crime scene investigation, a series of interviews revealing clues to the readers, intercalated comic relief shenanigans, reconstruction of events, climactic chase and epilogue or denuement (usually the regular characters solve their mild conflict of the day).

The Case of the Elongated Thing

...I couldn't resist using that title.

Ross from The Brave and the Bold ...The Lost Issues! Created this interesting photoshop cover.

I think they would make an interesting couple. A title with them opening a detective agency in Manhattan would be a total hit. The Grimm & Dibny Detective Agency, Ralph would be the intelectual, Ben would be the tough street guy and Sue their business manager.

To read from its creator go to The Brave and the Bold... The Lost Issues!: The Thing and Elongated Man. There are plenty of other weird team-up covers to enjoy there.

I like his opinion on Ralph and his spot on the Justice League, the character has been doing terrible after the mid 90s.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mystery of the unidentified Dibny pics (help needed!)

Here are a couple of really great images that I can't track, so any comment with the answer or a tip is appreciated. I've tried everything, but I can't identify their author and origin.

This first one feels like an ID picture. It has his early 80s look, but the coloring looks like something done after 1995. His hairstyle is similar to those of characters drawn by José Luis García López or George Pérez.

This second one is really, really cool. I'm going to be using it a lot. It has the word 'detective' written all over it. It looks modern, I suspect it comes from his appearance in Booster Gold.


Got it! I got the second one. It's Jurgens. Booster Gold #16, page 4, panel 6. I kinda remembered the way the sky looked. The funny thing is that it's a great portrait, one of the greatest, but it's surrounded by so-so art by the same artist. He's also not making such a serious analysis as it would seem. He's only thinking about trusting Booster's sister.

Here's another good one from the next page:

Now I'm only missing the info of the irst pic.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Love and Rockets: New Stories, vol. 1 and 2

Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 cover, by Jaime Hdz., featuring Penny Century in superhero costume.
 I'll start by clarifying that this is my first time reading anything by Los Bros. Hdz., and by confessing that I thought I was buying a trade collecting classic stuff... and that the awesome portrayal of female anatomy was 60% of my reasons to buy it. I had these two trades lost in my "someday" stack of comics, and they were there for almost two years. Three weeks ago I decided it as time to attack the stack, and last week was the turn of Love and Rockets: New Stories, vol. 1 and 2.
My verdict: Pure awesomeness.

"Cover" of Ti-Girls Adventures Number 34.
From left to right: Espectra, Boot Angel, Weeper, Alarma and Golden Girl.
The main and most impressive story is four part story titled "Ti-Girls Adventures Number 34". From what I gather, some of the characters in it have been around for a while, like Maggie and Penny Century; however the story is perfectly self-contained, so no worries there. Background is not needed to enjoy this story, but then, if you still want it, Vanja's Splinter's Reviews provides a good reference. According to him, to his disappointment, this is the first Love and Rockets story focusing on superheroes. I, however, as a new fan of Hdz. Bros., still enjoyed it a lot. Since 90% o what I read is superheroes, it might actually work as a good transition to their indie world.

As anyone who ever heard of Love and Rockets  or the Hdz. Bros.  might expect, it might be a superhero story, but its not mainstream at all. Firstly, it's all female, often Chicano women, and secondly, it feels like a combination of retro silver age stuff (like DC: The New Frontier, The Spirit (2006), Batman: The Animated Series, The Golden Age, or The Silver Age) with really grounded, down to earth indie stuff (Clerks, Ghost World). It's almost a treaty of what the female role could have been in the male dominated world of the silver age comics. Love and Rockets is written and drawn by Jaime Hernandez, a male author, and it features hot females with incredible bodies, but it has a strong female sensitivity. I suspect that Love and Rockets is, in general, very appealing to female market.

Boot Angel

"Ti-Girls Adventures Number 34" is the surreal story of three or four generations of all-female superteams trying to fix the mess left by the capricious Penny Century, a woman who finally gets the superpowers he had wanted her entire life. The lead character is Boot Angel, a short, stocky latina trying to establish herself as a superhero, and she's a sort of introduction device for the audience, like Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Her idol is Alarma, a prestigious superheroine that goes through what seems a parody of the angry 90s revamps; she contrasts with the more experienced, grounded and mature Espectra, a Ti-Girl watching over Boot Angel and her as they try to save/defeat Penny Century and her daughters. Alarma belongs to a very notorious team know as the Fenomenons and Espectra to the generations-old Ti-Girls. The stories of both all-female superhero teams, along with a third one composed of really young girls are tied through a common back-story. There are a lot of themes and at least 3 overlapping storylines.

The art is a character on its own. It celebrates pop culture and female beauty just like Roy Lichtenstein's stuff, the closest instance of which I can think.  For a comic book geek Jaime Hernandez sure knows a lot of female anatomy; each character has her own body and face type and they are all gorgeous- in their way, even the chubby or old ones. The Fenomenons, and Alarma specially, look like Barbie dolls; Penny Century looks like a pin up girl, and Boot Angel looks like a chubby, yet well proportioned, common girl. I've always thought that, unlike male supervillains, comic book superheroes often lack this type of body diversity (Bruce Timm does a great job fixing it, though). I also enjoyed the prodigious character design. The whole thing looks like silver age material, only the silver age never looked this good. The composition of every panel is great, specially considering Jaime only uses black and white without shades; however, there page composition might be slightly lacking. I still like the way he used around 7 panels every page, though.
To me, those were $30 USD well spent. Those two books are among the first things I'd give to someone wanting an introduction to comics and superheroes. And I were Dan DiDio, I'd beg Jaime to do something for DC. Maybe Wonder Woman. I'd love to see what he could do with Sue Dibny's wardrobe or Ralph's stretching body.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Art for Absolute Identity Crisis: BOO-YAH!!

Front center, a great place for the World-famous Elongated Man.
This page was created for the cover art of Absolute Identity Crisis released October 12th, 2011. This has to be the greated thing DC has done for the Elongated Man this year.
Artists often forget how tall is Ralph supposed to be, but that's clearly not the case here.

And now, for something really special...

The same whining, but in Spanish.

Like any decent geek with self respect, I love to waste time googling useless trivia. If that's not glamouros enough, you can picture me laying in my sloppy bed wearing boxers and a sweat shirt and balancing a bottle of mayo and breadsticks in my belly before my lap. You can add some 20 kg to my belly to make it more dramatic. (Just kidding).
Anyway, in my case, the useless trivia I love to google is the possibility of Ralph and Sue's return. Which is sort of becoming a thing in some circles. The DC Message Boards has at least a couple of threads (that I didn't start), CBR has The Elongated Man: Where is he in the new DC?  , and among the bloggers, The Fellowship of the Geeks has For What It's Worth: Dear DC, Please Bring Back Elongated Man , DC Comics Fan Blog had The Elongated Man, Pendragon's Post made and erased a couple of post that generated an official facebook reply from Mattel's people.  Among the toy collectors upset that the Ralphster doesn't seem to be getting a figure for the DC Universe Classics collection, The Fwoosh has Elongated Man Support Thread, and Bleeding Cool made an article about the controversy. To my surprise, the whole "where's Ralph" thing has crossed the language barrier, now being noticed by Spanish speaking fans. "El Hijo de Chuck Norris", from Multiverseros, asks "Dónde está Ralph Dibny?":
"En 2004, una miniserie escrita por Brad Meltzer quiso demostrar que los héroes de DC también son humanos (al menos los que lo son), pero destruyó la hermosa pareja formada por Ralph y Sue Dibny. Con tantos relanzamientos, ¿no sería hora de arreglarlo?"
"In 2004, a miniseries written by Brad Meltzer wanted to demonstrate that the heroes of DC are also humans (at least those who are), but it destroyed the beautiful couple formed by Ralph and Sue Dibny. With so many relaunches, wouldn't it be good to fix that?"
To read more on the topic, well, you can read the stack of articles I've done on the matter; but if you also want to see if some Spanish sticks with you for a change, read Chucky Jr.'s full article, "Donde está Ralph Dibny?".

I wonder if there are articles in French. Maybe DC will listen when the complains start being written in German. Every thing sounds tougher in German.


Wo ist die Längliche Mann?!!
Nein, Nein, Nein!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ralph Dibny, the World yadda, yadda blog on The Fire and Water Podcast

The Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man Blog (that's right, I talk about it in third person - how professional is that!?) was mentioned in the episode 7 of the FIRESTORM FAN and AQUAMAN SHRINE Podcast! , the talk show of Rob Kelly, from Aquaman Shrine, and The Irredeemabie Shag, from Once Upon a Geek and Firestorm Fan.

You can skip the bull and go straight to min 85:54, to hear the good bit about the coolest superhero blog. OK, I'm just kidding, the rest is even better. The first half is a review of Justice League of America #207 - 209, Crisis on Earth Prime, which is quite the event, featuring the JLA, the JSA, the All-Star Squadron, Per Degaton, the Crime Syndicate and even He-Man and the Masters of the Universe --Only He-man in a backup feature (got your eyes crossed, didn't I?). The second half is about blogs about DC Comics characters. They start with the blogs of, friend of this blog, Diabolu Frank, who is so productive, he's practically a human-franchise. Then, they go on with the rest of us, mortals. They made a crack about the lenght of my url, which kinda goes with the blog's topic, but yeah, I'm sure that a number of Ralph enthusiasts often think "sure, I'll see what's new with the Elongated Man Blog. Let's see, it was www.theworldfamous... no, www.theelongatedmanworld-famo-- no, www.ralphd-- meh,!" The great thing is that fans of odd characters now have odd blogs to follow, where loons like myself are going to make sure they get the basics and any update. A cool thing about many of them is that they sometimes do crossovers, which makes them like a "league of bloggers about Justice Leaguers"; and the really cool thing is that this is the second time this blog is considered for one of those crossovers! Which practically mirrors the way the way the Elongated Man himself was invited to become part of the JLA:

*Green Lantern: Dude, you know who would be cool to have in the league?
*Superman (playing with a rubik's): Huh?
*GL: That stretchy dude who is always hanging out with the Flash.
*Superman: Oh, yeah, that Plastic Man guy.
*GL:  No, the other guy.
*Superman: ...
*GL: The ginger guy that just stretches... ?
*Superman (scratches his head looking at the Rubik): Jimmy?
*Batman (popping up out of nowhere): He means Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man.
*Superman (freaked out): Dude!--... Jes's...
*Batman: I'm Batman.
-Batman gives the Rubik's a couple of twists and solves it. Superman looks at him with a confussed expression on his face.
*Batman: I'm Batman.
*Superman (makes back off sign with his hand): ... wait, you mean that we should invite a guy that just stretches and has no secret identity? What, are we getting our members from a circus, now?
*GL: Well he was with a circus.
*Superman: Oh, brother.
*GL: No, but hear me out, he's actually an uncanny detective.
*Batman: Teamed up with him a couple of times. Prodigious detective, great improviser... And unlike most of us, he's easy going and no drama queen -- Yes, that's f**n' right, I'm looking at you, Carter.
-Hawkman storms out offended.
*GL (looks Hawkman storming out of the room and then turn to Superman): Yep, Lord knows we need normal people.
*Superman: It might be so, but without Diana--
*Batman (with daydreaming expression): Diana... <sight>
*GL: What a broad.
*Superman: Yeah... Anyway, without Diana, this is becoming a total sausage fest. So I'm going with Black Canary.
*GL: Booyah!
*Batman: Agreed, sausage fest sucks.
*GL: Maybe she'll convince Hawkman to put a shirt on. I'm sick of man nipples.
*Batman: Forget it, not even his wife can do that.
*GL: Is it me, or is Hawkman's costume kind of. What's the word?
*Superman: Drag?
*GL: Thank you. --Not that there's anything wrong with that (...) but we need some chicks around.
And that's how the Elongated Man's membership was delayed for another 30 issues.
Anyway, it's good to know that talented and hardcore bloggers consider this blog to be fun and relevant enough to participate in their crossovers. And when I say, talented I mean it; I admire the hell out of people who can produce and host radio or podcast shows. These guys can casually talk about some of my favorite topics for over an our and a half and make it really entertaining. Maybe that's a cultural thing, Anglo-Americans and English people tend to be really comfortable in front of broadcasting media. Latin Americans are shy even in front of recording machines. If I made a podcast, I'd sound like a Donald Duck with a Spanish accent.

Btw, another awesome thing about the Fire and Water Podcast is their soundtrack, a Remix of the classic Super Friends theme. Few remixes feel like a true homage to the original material (like the Knightrider one). I was almost a bit sad when it faded so that the show starts; however a very quick googling lead me to the author, Michael Kohler. The title of the remix is That Time Is Now, and  you can watch the video here:

For more of Bob and Shag's show, go to . Additionally Firestorm Fan features a number of audio interviews with Firestorm's key creatives, including Gerry Conway, Al Milgrom and John Ostrander among others. I have to say they are a very creative and resourceful couple of bloggers. So, go follow them. Now!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Darwyn Cooke's Spirit

I have taken a well deserved break from the DCnU and decided to read some awesome comic books instead. Some old, some new, some are old but I never read them. I have to strongly recommend , Gaiman's "Sandman: Worlds' End", Ennis' "Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits", and specially, Bryan Talbot's "The Tale of One Bad Rat". That last one is an utterly profound masterpiece. However, I want to talk about one that is more closely tied to this blog: Darwyn Cooke's run on The Spirit.
Although I have read some trades and books by Will Eisner, I never actually read any of the original Spirit stuff, just the bits that appear in those other books. I'm still not even sure where to start (any tips?). However, I got a great almost first impression of the character from the 2007 Cooke run. Aside from the bits that appear in Comics & Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative, the first proper Spirit comic I read was Batman / The Spirit, which was drawn by Cooke, but written by Jeph Loeb. It was somewhat campy and serious at the same time. The premise, a crime convention featuring the rogues gallery of both heroes, which happens at the same time and place of a Law Enforcement convention to which Commissioners Gordon and Dolan are assisting; is the type of stuff that you would expect from a Bewitched / I Dream of Jeannie, a Flintstones / Jetsons or a The Munsters / Adams Family crossover. However, it works in the sense that it celebrates the colorful worlds of Batman and the Spirit instead of trying to make them look grim. Remember that during most of their existance, they were not dark and bitter franchises.
 Cooke's run goes on a slightly different direction. There's certain humor, folklore and lightheartedness, but this Spirit is more contemporary and relevant and less nostalgic, as I'm sure Eisner intended. While a XIX Century Cossack might look cartoonish in the XXI Century, a Russian mob boss that resembles one looks really cool. Like Batman: The Animated Series, the setting has a timeless aspect (mostly due to his drawing style), however, Darwin made sure we identify aspects of our world in it: brutal Middle Eastern dictators, terrorism, news media polarization (I loved the Colbert parody), American eating disorder and Mexican immigration problems.

The new Cossack and Mr. Carrion.
The art alone is enough reason to buy this run. The composition and color are masterpieces that would make papa Eisner proud.

All the characters take a prominent position in this run. We get to see the Central City world not only from the Spirit's point of view, but from those of Ebony, Ellen, Commissioner Dolan, P'Gell and Silk. I enjoyed how Denny (the Spirit), is already in a committed relationship with Ellen. I'm not a fan of romantic Ross-and-Rachel type of dramas; I prefer the cases to be the center of the crises.
Ebony White
Ebony White was tastefully retooled for new audiences in a way that he can keep stealing scenes. The untastefulness of the way he was physically portrayed made him quite notorious, Cooke made him notorious because he's now a street-wise kid with the mind of a clever adult.
Madame P'Gell
P'Gell reminded me way too much of Catwoman. There are a lot of differences, but ultimately, they are hedonistic femme fatales who look alike. P'Gell seems a bit more cold-blooded; however, Cooke did a great job humanising her in the second issue.
Ginger Coffee.
There were also additions to the supporting cast. Ginger Coffee is the Summer Gleeson of Central City, only he likes to get involved. Hussein Hussein was a lovable scumbag and trouble magnet (too bad they didn't keep him). There isn't much about Crime Boss Amos Weinstock yet, but he's quite a creep. El Morte was cleverly attached to the Spirit's origin. The way I see it, he is survivor's guilt incarnated. 
 The format is brilliant. There is a story arc, but every issue you get your money's worth with full, meaningful, stand alone stories. It is impressive how much you can get out of 22 pages when the writer actually cares. You buy the next issue because the quality is awesome, not because you got an incomplete pretext of a story and you need to know how it ends. Although Cooke only did the cover, the 7th issue takes this to an extreme: Three great stories of 8 pages each (Jordi Bernet would also be a great penciller for this title!). After Cooke left, they repeated that formula with issue #13 (Ty Templeton would also be a great penciller for this title!).
The bullet point in every cover does a great job describing the genre: "Action, mystery, adventure". Along with humor and noir, there's a bit of all of them without sticking to any. It's an eclectic mix, but more importantly, it's entertaining.

(No, this doesn't have much to do with the Elongated Man, but it's the type of approach that is needed to bring back classics like him).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Elongated Art: The Elongated Man Vs. Darkseid!

Missed him, Fartseid!

Believe it or not, somebody thought it would be a good idea to portray the Elongated Man fighting Darkseid (the ultimate and most powerful villain of the DC Universe) for the Justice League Unlimited promotional art. If that wasn't odd enough, Ralph seems to have the upper hand, and we could only assume that if he decided to attack the most powerful being is because he his brilliant detective mind determined that he has the advantage.

This odd match never actually happened in the comics. There are few degrees between them: The Elongated Man inspired Mr. Fastastic, who was created by Jack Kirby, who also created Darkseid. Even shorter, Darkseid is enemy of the Justice League, of which the Elongated Man is a member. However, they never met and Kirby never even drew the Elongated Man.

I might be wrong, but I don't believe that kind of promotional art comes from Bruce Timm (creator of Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited , and the rest of the series in that continuity), the quality does not match his pin ups. At least I don't think he does more than rough sketches, completed by other people. However, this is still a pretty good pic. Darkseid's body looks odd, but Ralph looks awesome. It's rare to find great poses for him, but they just hit the right spot with this one.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Elongated Man and Wife: Embargoed?!

As I mentioned before, the Dibnys had a brief period of hype from 2003 to 2004; however, since 2007 they have been making less and less appearances. I'm talking comics, animation and action figures. For a while, I have been suspecting that the respectable DC powers that be were avoiding him, and now I just learned something that seems to back that. Brian "Pendragon" Isaacs posted this at his blog:
"I got a chance to talk to Scott [Neitlich, AKA Toy Guru, from Mattel] at New York Comic Con about when, we the fans will be seeing Ralph in action figure form. If DC Comics has anything to say about it, it’ll be never.
"For those who don’t know, or can’t tell, Scott himself is a comic fan, and a big fan of the JLA Satellite Era. He went to bat for us collectors and got shot down. Mattel’s hands are tied, as this is a license they have to pay for.
"DC Comic’s reasoning…They don’t feel Ralph is a significant character, not deserving of an action figure, and don’t want to invest any more money into him."
(Read the full article at his blog).

Why indeed. Their importance is being recognized both by Flash and Geoff Johns, but what's the point to this scene? Why leaving the Dibnys out of this scene if there were not going to be part of another story? 
I once managed to get a direct confirmation from Dan DiDio that there are no plans for the Dibnys; however, according to Brian, this has nothing to do with him or Jim Lee, this one comes from upstairs.

Brian's proposal is to have a respectful letter writing campaign, asking to make the Dibnys part of the DCnU and Mattel's DC Universe Classics collection (I'll add DC Universe Online and Young Justice). So please spend $.44 on a stamp and send your letters to:

Diane Nelson
DC Comics
1700 Broadway # 7
New York, NY 10019-5905

It's also important to spread the word and figure out other strategies to get Ralph back. Remember that we should avoid pointing fingers; disrespect won't get us anywhere.

Here are some reasons to restore Ralph and Sue:
  • He was a member of the 3 first incarnations of the Justice League and was one of the longest staying member (about 20 years). At one point around the mid 90s, he was the member with the longest mileage. Not even Lois belongs to the JL, Sue became bureau chief (this means control outside the field, like Max).
  • They are a silver age legacy. Their most important stories were handled directly by Julius Schwartz, John Broome, Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. Len Wein put Ralph in the League, Keith Giffen in JLI, Mike W. Barr created the modern version and Mark Waid and Grant Morrison gave him his ultimate mystery.  
  • They are both basic to the Flash (Barry) mythos, which is not that rich without the Gallery. During the first decade of Barry, only Iris and Wally were more recurring than Ralph (Mirror Master matched him when he got his 'tec feature). Barry's supporting cast are basically Iris, Wally, the Allens, Dexter Myles, Hal, Fiona and the Dibnys. They were on his last thoughts before he "died" and on his first thoughts after Brightest Day. 
  • The Elongated Man is a Detective Comics classic. He had the most recurring feature after Slam and the Martian Manhunter. 
  • The Dibnys belong to DC's top social circle. They knew the secret identity of anybody who's somebody (Bruce, Clark, Diana) and double dated with the Allens, the Halls, the Palmers, the Stranges, Ollie and Dinah.
  • Ralph offers diversity to the DC pantheon. He's the only hero that truly represents the classic detective genre (which TV still capitalizes in series like House, Monk, the Mentalist, the Murdock Mysteries, etc.). He's one o the few heroes that never lost the lighthearted spirit of the Silver Age. Just read the first 5 issues of his 'tec run, no DC couple has ever been as charming as the Dibnys. They are like Mad About You, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Columbo rolled into one.
  • They are not obscure yet, much less with their notoriety from Identity Crisis, Formerly Known as the Justice League and 52
  •  If Morrison pulled a series lead by Animal Man, a detective superhero modeled after Nick Charles and Sherlock Holmes writes itself. Just get DeMatteis, Barr, Dixon, Giffen, Morrison or Waid on it, I know as a fact that all of them love those characters.
  • If the Japanese managed to make a franchise out of a stretchable pirate who gets his powers from a fruit (Luffy D. Monkey from One Piece), I think a ductile detective superhero set in the DC Universe has great chances.
  • Ralph makes crowd scenes look pretty cool.
And that's right, Timm and McDuffie thought he's awesome enough to go against DC's toughest villain! 

Update - 10 / 24 / 11

Scott Neitlich released the following statement on his Facebook page:
"Okay. 100% not true. I must have made a statement (as has always been the case) reconfirming that, yes, it is still true that DC and Warner Bros has final say on our character selection, but in no way have they ever bared us from doing a character like Elongated Man! "In fact just the opposite; DC and Warner Bros. have been amazing partners, always helping us to push the limit on character selection like Lobo in JLU and Swamp Thing in DCUC!
"Ralph is in no way off limits. In fact we have already done him several times. We even did an Elongated Man figure in JLU in an outfit he didn’t even wear on the show. That is how cool he is. There always seems to be one figure “we haven’t gotten to yet” that fans have thoughts was off limits or wasn’t going to happen. Be it Martian Manhunter, Flash 1 or now Elongated Man. The answer is always; just because your favorite figure is not out yet does not mean he or she won’t be in the line one day, keep your suggestions coming!
If any websites reported a quote from me stating the opposite, I did not give any sit down interviews at NYCC, so this “quote” may have been strung together from different things orally overheard in the booth to different people. No statement of this type was officially announced or provided by Mattel or given to any site as a quote or interview. It sounds like it is a misinterpretation of a few things overheard in passing and then attributed (falsely) to me as a direct quote.
"Hope this clears this one up! Ralph is not banned in the least and we are really excited to get to him one day!"
The whole thing was the top trending topic on Sunday at Bleeding Cool, its own Mark Seifert said:
"The Elongated Man too obscure to have a new action figure? I don’t think so.  First, there’s an excellent case to be made that there are no insignificant characters in post-internet comic book fandom — I mean, Geoff Johns could turn him into one of the stars of the New 52 by ground hog day, if he wanted to.  And second, he’s not an obscure character at all.  A classic of the Silver Age and beyond.

I hope that's true. Ralph and Sue's absence in the DCnU, DC Universe Online, Young Justice's Justice League and even in the DC Universe Classics still makes me glad I wrote that letter and I hope other Elogated Man fans do the same. Ralph is still absent without a reason.

For more information, go read the  "The Mattel - DCUC - Elongated Man quagmire" at Comics-X-aminer, or read the Toy Guru's original facebook note.

Update - 10 / 26 / 11
Friend of this blog, Frank Diabolu, from the Justice League Detroit blog (among other awesome blogs, like The Idol-Head of Diabolu) noticed that the Elongated Man pic from the Bleeding Cool post about the embargo is the same that he modified from a Kevin Nowan image from 52, week 13 for his blog and that I kind of stole for this blog:
Which makes it very possible that Rich Johnston, author of that post, was tipped by this very blog before reading the original and now deleted post from Pendragon. So, if I'm right, Rich, you're welcomed, ha, ha.

Update - 10 / 26 / 11

It turns out that the outcries for Ralph and Sue's return started a bit earlier, and that the clamor is not only for action figures. Roughly at the same time, while Brian "Pendragon" Isaacs was encouraging people to demand the Elongated Man action figure, Robert Eddleman, from Panels on Pages, wrote a column asking DC to use the Reboot possibilities in favor or the Dibnys, restoring them among the living. In his words Retcon This! The Deaths of Ralph & Sue Dibny, a thought that I couldn't support more.  

Update - Nov 21, 2011

According to John Babos, DC Comics Co-Publisher, Dan DiDio conirmed on Facebook that there are no plans for Ralph Dibny, Ted Kord and Garth (Aqualad). 
A while ago I managed to get the same confirmation from him.
This is doesn't mean that they are gone forever, but at leat that, for the time being, DC's Co-Publisher claims (he could be misleading people) that there are no plans for them. He didn't say that they are gone forever.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An ear -- In the Fireplace!: Reviewing "Ten Miles to Nowhere!"

Title: "Ten Miles To Nowhere"
Issue: Detective Comics No. 327
Date: May 1964
Format: 10-page backup feature.
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Writer: Gardner Fox
Penciller and inker: Carmine Infantino
Main character: Elongated Man (8th appearance, last seen in The Flash #138)
Supporting Characters: Sue Dibny (4th appearance, last seen in The Flash #138)
Cameos: The Flash, Kid Flash, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Captain Boomerang
Villains: Al and other thieves (first and only appearance for all).

Setting: Lake Champlain, Montreal (flashback), Central City (flashback).
Stolen item: 2 million dollars (60s dollars) in diamonds.
Mystery: Who drove the Dibny's car for 10 miles while they were sleeping and why?
Method: Tracking and spying. 
This is the first:
  • Elongated Man solo story (before this, he only appeared as a guest star in The Flash).
  • Elongated Man appearance in Detective Comics.
  • Elongated Man backup feature, which starts a series in Detective Comics.
  • Time Ralph is called "the Ductile Detective".
  • Time Ralph doesn't wear a mask as the Elongated Man.
  • Time Ralph gets obsessive about his fame.
Before this issue we say Ralph's interest in mysteries in Space Boomerang-Trap! (Flash #124) and Kid Flash Meets the Elongated Man! (Flash #130) and do some clever detecting in The Pied Piper's Double Doom! (Flash #138). This story has a stronger focus on him as a detective.

The feature starts with a recap of the Elongated Man. The teaser indicates that he used to be a Flash character, then, we have a cool indication of how his powers work.
The Dr. Jekyll comparison is a bit too much (Ralph changes his physiology with Gingold extract, but he's mind is pretty much the same), however, it is pretty cool and a great pretext for Infantino to go wild. It's also great to know that Jekyll exists in the DC Universe.  
Then the story starts. The Dibnys are returning from eastern Canada and they are stopped at customs in the frontier. The officer explains that there was a robbery of two million dollars in diamonds in Montreal. Gardner goes almost straight to the comic relief aspects of the story:
This sets the tone of the rest of the story and the rest of the series. There is mystery, but there's also humor and the tone is very lighthearted (even more than The Thin Man). 
Right after that, Ralph gets involved in a mystery:
It is important to notice that the third page, which features the last 6 panel that I have shown, define a lot about Ralph; he's a bit of a goof and a very methodical man. He's constantly watching for things out of place, which makes him notice that somebody has been using his car. This, of course, gets him obsessed.
This is the pattern that will be followed by 99% of the rest of the series, just as sending Sue to do some shopping while he investigates. By now, we also got a sense of the kind of woman that Sue is: easy going, witty, and a bit hedonistic and frivolous.
In this story we see one of the most commons methods that Ralph uses to find the culprit, tracking and spying, which is only logic, given the nature of his super powers.

Oddly enough, he arrives just in time to hear the villains recap their crime (this happens a lot in his stories). Which results in one of the most memorable lines of the silver age.

That has to be one of the most surreal panels of the 60s, and it lead to the first of many weird fights that the Elongated Man had with lots of nameless thugs. "An ear -- In the fireplace!" Ha, ha, ha. The first time I read it, it flew under my radar, but I instantly recognized it when I read it as the title of the blogs of a couple of other Elongated Man fans. Great superhero movies tend to make a big deal out of the simplest uses of superpowers. They don't take them for granted. Think of Superbaby lifting Pa Kent's vehicle. Even dodging a punch from local high school bully, Flash Thomson, can be awesome if properly told. I think that, before any of those flicks, this is what Fox and Infantino captured in this panel. We have those thieves, talking about the secret details of their last hit, and they see a freaking ear hanging from the fireplace! Next thing they know, something that seems like a person comes out of it and start throwing punches from everywhere, like some sort of super fast rubber octopus.
With the case solved and the villains out of the picture, the story goes back to Ralph's silly obsession.

This first issue is great for Ralph in that Schwartz finally let him shine. There is a lot of focus on his abilities, the kind that was never seen while he was second fiddle to the Flash.
I also feel that Carmine Infantino was also let shine with this story. He didn't pull that kind of dynamism with Flash. I think it also features the prettiest pics of Sue.

To me, this is one of the greatest Elongated Man stories. Yes, it has some silly, far too coincidental aspects, but there's a lot of great characterization. I believe that Ralph was one of the earliest heroes to develop a personality (back then, heroes used to be distinguished just by uniform, hair color and powers).

It's a shame that current comic writers think they need to open every mystery with a very graphic and grotesque murder scene. Being the greatest detective doesn't require to solve the darkest mysteries. Sherlock, himself, had some pretty silly cases (look it up). I have nothing against murder cases for detective superheroes, but there's a lot of potential in thefts too; The Pink Panther was all about them.
One of the highlights of the Elongated Man is how entertaining his fights were. Only stretchers can pull that kind of stuff, and it's not like there's many of them.