Welcome to an edition featuring a bunch of stuff that should have come out before Thanksgiving 2001! Had the target date meant something - like even the vainest hope of meeting it with something - we might here enjoy a "Double-Sized Udo Kier for the Holidays Edition," or something equally cheerful. Sometimes it takes a bit of thought to come up with just the right occasion to attach to an edition of the Quarter Bin, particularly these weeks-and-weeks late ones. Hence previous gems like the "Deferred Gratification" edition celebrate the pathetic inability (at least a few times a year) to come anywhere near the target delivery date for these columns, to the particular chagrin of chronic visitors and loyal followers. Avoiding such snide first-try notions as "Blood out of a Turnip" edition and "Death through Overwork" edition, it came to me to turn to the undervalued wisdom of Adam West for a central theme, and, in a well-modulated voice, a Batmaniphany came - hence, the first "Some Days You Just Can't Get Rid of a Bomb" edition.
The extremely well-informed of visitors to the Quarter Bin might recall a precious moment from the Batman movie of the 1960s in which the ironic protagonist spent cut after cut running from obstacle to obstacle with a bomb in his hands, encountering nuns here, children there, and, elsewhere, baby ducks, until quipping exasperatedly "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." At any point previously, our caped stalwart might have flung away that deadly explosive device, but a desire to follow the principle An it harm no one, get rid of the bomb caught him on the hooks of the deadly first clause. Perhaps sufficient sophistry, deftly applied, could liken the inability here to get these columns up - but, regardless of contrived self-justifications, and certainly in honor of the obstacles to completion on some of this swarm of columns, consider this edition dedicated to that scene and the lesser scenes which echo it in the real world. In this "Some Days You Can't Get Rid of a Bomb" edition, we tip our hats to the various demands on time that show they mean what they say. Let us honor an opponent that, if unable to derail us altogether, nonetheless put up an incredible fight and beat respect into us.
Nonetheless, a paragraph here, a scanned image there, somehow another set of columns slouched toward the Internet and came to term. Under Opinions, we continue to explore the notion of a more empirical method to judge whether a comic proceeds from a sound concept. Under Profiles, we complete the "If Not Superheroes, What?" series and proceed forward into another entitled "Comics Formulas That Work." Also look to Recycle Bin, Boneyard, and Public Square for new entries. And, even if the Quarter Bin missed its target of 300 by 2002 - an excruciating seven or eight columns short - at least, with some gratitude, we may observe that Batman and Your Humble Scribe both managed to get rid of the bomb before it destroyed them.
Guest Voices 02: The JSA That Came Too Soon - Lady Obie (Sep 2001)
Sometimes timing, as well as the support of a publisher, makes all the difference for a concept, as the passing of the early-1990s Justice Society of America demonstrated.
Guest Voices 01: Rehabilitating Obsidian - Lady Obie (May 2001)
Lady Obie considers the prospect of rehabilitating her namesake Obsidian, a character sorely wounded by storytelling choices more like an organized plot than an organized plotline.
Boneyard 07 - The Late, Great "Calvin and Hobbes" (Dec 2001)
The occasional work justifies its context, providing coattails for poorly-esteemed material like newspaper comics; and, during its lifespan, Watterson's 'Calvin and Hobbes' made opening a comics page worth the trouble.
Boneyard 06 - The Martyrdom of EC Comics (Dec 2001)
Even after entering the ash heap of failed comics publishing concerns, five decades later EC Comics has something to show talent and publishers who think they know how to make comics.
Boneyard 05 - The Shameful Demise of Avengers: United They Stand (Sep 2001)
Simple malice, as much as mismanagement and market forces, drove Avengers: United They Stand to an early demise.
Boneyard 04 - Sockless and Stalwart: Eisner's Spirit (Sep 2001)
Sometimes a classic concept becomes a classic because creators understand when to stop, a fate which befell Will Eisner's minimalist hero the Spirit.
Boneyard 03 - (The End of the) Fourth World (Sep 2001)
When accountants decide the quality of art, tragedies such as the euthanizing of Kirby's Fourth World books follow.
Opinions 62 - Comics Reality Checks IV: The Action Figure Test (Nov 2001)
Could we find the essence of a solid comics concept in its ability to condense into an interpretation via plastic action figure?
Opinions 61 - Comics Reality Checks 3: The Index Card Test (Oct 2001)
Perhaps we should measure comics concepts by a brevity and focus that mean essential concepts can fit into few words - in essence, an Index Card Test.
Opinions 60 - Comics Reality Checks II: The Bouncing Boy Test (Sep 2001)
Should comics that have no place for Bouncing Boy and his like have a place in your reading?
Opinions 59 - Comics Reality Checks I: The Three Trashmen Tests (Jun 2001)
The Trashmen Tests provide more than a gauge for measuring music - these three criteria also provide an plausible benchmark for comics.
Opinions 58 - Bad Hair in the Comics (Jun 2001)
Comics provides another element of the larger-than-life in creating a kind of natural refuge for weird, impossible, and ugly hairstyles.
Profiles 51 - The Popeye Formula (Dec 2001)
Somehow, from an obscure role as a supporting character in 'Thimble Theater,' Popeye came to take over the feature and become a popular-culture icon.
Profiles 50 - The Nick Fury Formula (Dec 2001)
Comics frequently succeed or fail, both aesthetically and commercially, on the merits of the formula by which they define a concept; and the Nick Fury formula worked on a combination of technology, superheroic intrigue, and Kirby-era loudness.
Profiles 49 - Comics beyond Genre (Dec 2001)
Not all that matters in comics occurs within the borders of established genre definitions; for as comics mature, rules provide a starting place rather than a destination.
Profiles 48 - Educational Comics (Dec 2001)
We might consider as one of the tragedies of the form the lack of aesthetic credibility that attends the educational comic, an approach to comics that potentially could address the significant weaknesses of the remainder of the medium.
Profiles 47 - Adventure Comics (Dec 2001)
The adventure strip once provided the face of comics to the greater culture, and still resonates in places in the modern comic book.
Public Square 19 - Confusion in Relevance-Town (Nov 2001)
Sometimes the befuddled delivery of a moral, ethical or political work betrays a conceptual confusion that precludes letting the reader weigh ideas by their merits because he can't even find them.
Public Square 18 - JLA: Superpower and the Notion of Hubris (Nov 2001)
The ethical message that defined much of Classical tragedy - particularly its injunctions against destructive pride - can inform superhero comics, as demonstrated in JLA: Superpower.
Public Square 17 - The Moral Compass of Watchmen (Oct 2001)
Watchmen provides a rare piece of work in its presentation of contending moral philosophies, their connection to character, and the consequences of each.
Public Square 16 - The Vision of 'Hard-Traveling Heroes' (Oct 2001)
The humane vision of the canonical O'Neil / Adams run in Green Lantern/Green Arrow could provide a model for explorations of self-criticism of a people.
Public Square 15 - The Harsh Way of the Hero (Oct 2001)
The rise of the vigilante hero in the 1970s represented not a return to an older theory of crimefighting, but a new reactive strain against perceived loss of control of the streets.
Recycling Bin 57 - Superhero Comics and the Divided Man (Dec 2001)
Superhero comics keep returning to the notion of the man pulled alternately to polar extremes of human nature or split along aspects of personality, guided by a model set down by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Recycling Bin 56 - FF1234 and the Book of Job (Dec 2001)
Grant Morrison, ever eager to bring ideas into superhero comics, has recast the conflicts of the Fantastic Four in a form familiar to students of the Old Testament.
Recycling Bin 55 - Echoes of Wally Wood in Tom Strong (Sep 2001)
A tribute can serve its central purpose just by reminding you of talent lost to the world, as does Hilary Barta's tribute to Wally Wood's humor work in a recent Tom Strong.
Recycling Bin 54 - Evoking the Pinocchio Theme (Sep 2001)
Comic-book robot characters act out the fundamental sentient quest for self-worth in their own pursuit of humanity, playing out the Pinocchio Theme.
Recycling Bin 53 - Double Duty for Two-Face (Sep 2001)
In a neat inversion of the normal flow of material, the Dick Tracy seems to have reached backwards into old Batman material for the prototype for the Tracy villain Haf-n-Haf.
Revolving Door of Death 15 - The Rules of Death (Oct 2001)
While death in superhero comics gleefully ignores the rules of the real world, certain principles of storytelling, marketing, and caprice do shape how it works.
Revolving Door of Death 14 - The Confusing Return of Hawkman (Jun 2001)
The return of Hawkman in Johns' JSA represents a gamble that talent and dedication can overcome the burdens of mangled continuity and inept retconning.
Revolving Door of Death 13 - The Peculiar Resurrection of Nighthawk (Feb 2001)
The ease with which Nighthawk returned from the dead - though by no means as trivial as the circumstances of the return of his Defenders teammate Hellcat - nonetheless helps dumb down the notion of death in comics to a transient, disposible inconvenience.
Revolving Door of Death 12 - Fat Freddy (Feb 2001)
Though superhero comics make the most frequent use of death as a dismissible gimmick, the dying-and-resurrected character evel appears occasionally in unexpected places, such as underground comics.
Revolving Door of Death 11 - Professor X (Sep 2000)
Different standards, including a much less casual attitude toward the deaths of heroes, defined the death and return of Professor X of the X-Men at the dawn of the 1970s.
Talent Pool 25 - Jim Aparo (Jun 2001)
Significant figures of the Silver Age set standards and defined the tone of memorable works and did so in the short and long term, as demonstrated by the decades of excellent work Jim Aparo created for DC Comics.
Talent Pool 24 - Murphy Anderson (Jun 2001)
Back in a Silver Age when DC Comics prided itself on its differences from the upstart Marvel, Murphy Anderson provided a much-appreciated visual polish to an art that did much to breach the gap between the Golden and Silver Ages.
Talent Pool 23 - Mort Weisinger (Dec 2000)
Mort Weisinger, in his day, would do more to shape the Superman franchise since any person since Siegel and Shuster created him; and, in spite of attempts to streamline the character of his influence, Weisinger-era elements continue to resurface even today, thirty years after his retirement.
Talent Pool 22 - Julius Schwartz (Sep 2000)
Julius Schwartz provided an influence on the comics of the Silver Age that remains, to this day, as one of its distinguishing characteristics: the infusion of massive doses of science fiction and science fantasy into four-color superhero tales.
Talent Pool 21 - Jim Shooter (June 2000)
Jim Shooter has worn the hat of comics writer, editor, and entrepreneur; but does he also have a dark side justifies labelling him the Nixon of Comics?
Truly Awful Comics 10 - New Guardians #1 (Apr 2001)
Unpromising source material, hollow characterization, atrocious dialogue, lame plotting, and uncompelling obsession with sex and white supremacism somehow fail to come together as a winning combination in New Guardians #1.
Truly Awful Comics 09 - The Kingdom #2: Bad Comics as Opportunities Lost (Mar 2001)
The Kingdom #2, in attempting to build on a revered piece like Kingdom Come, mainly manages to make a fellow casualty out of the source material when, through a bait-and-switch ending, it crashes and burns.
Truly Awful Comics 08 - Judging a Book by Its Cover (Mar 2001)
While a cover alone can't earn a comic a place in the rosters of the Truly Awful, it can provide valuable clues to guide a reader away from books he might ultimately regret buying.
Truly Awful Comics 07 - Treading the Well-Beaten Path in X-Mutants #1 Special Edition (Mar 2001)
The occasional gem of bad comics earns its place in the roster of the Truly Awful by relentlessly bombarding the reader with a savage storm of cliches.
Truly Awful Comics 06 - That "Why Did I Read This?" Feeling (Mar 2001)
Some comics reveal their awfulness less through specific offenses against the senses and more through the creation of a feeling of regret for the time lost reading them./P>
Links page to a variety of other comics stuff! Updates occur rather infrequently here, so allow me preemptively to beg pardon if you find old, old links here.
Email the author at