My Comic Book Crisis

A woman of a certain age, a computer, and a love of comics

Christina Ochoa in Blood Drive

Syfy’s got your new guilty pleasure: “Blood Drive,” a dystopian grindhouse tour de force about the “meanest, nastiest, filthiest road race in the world.” It’s filled with over-the-top blood, gore, violence, and sex. Have I got your attention?

In case you haven’t caught the first few episodes, “Blood Drive” makes “Death Race 2000” look like “PeeWee’s Big Adventure.” Like Death Race, it’s set in the dystopian future which, in this case is 1999 Los Angeles. but if you’re expecting “Blade Runner,” “The Matrix,” or even “Gattaca,” don’t. This show has no finesse, a thin plot, and you’ll probably be disgusted with yourself for watching it.  You’ll think, “Why am I watching this?” Then next week you’ll think, “Why am I watching this again?” Trust me, after an episode you’ll want to take a shower, but then you’ll find yourself back next week in front of the TV.

And “Blood Race” knows this: It’s like all the actors are performing with a wink and a nod. Yes, they’re saying, it’s completely over the top, it’s completely appalling – but aren’t you entertained?

In “Blood Drive,” it’s 1999, the world has gone to hell in a hand basket and gas is scarce as hen’s teeth. There’s only one way to strike it rich: win the Blood Drive car rally and walk away with $10 million. The penalty for losing is mind-blowing. Literally.

Did I mention the cars run on human blood? Which is extracted by throwing live humans head-first into a toothy maw that pulverizes them?

That’s the basic premise of “Blood Drive.”

The main characters are the loosely-clad, leggy, lollipop-sucking Grace D’ Argento (Christina Ochoa), who wants to win the race to rescue her sister Karma from a (literally) insane asylum. The do-gooder cop Arthur Bailey, played by Alan Ritchson (Catching Fire, and Aquaman on Smallville), is probably the only truly pure soul on the planet. He’s corn-fed beefcake in a blue uniform and each week I wait for his bulging forearms to just rip through the sleeves of his shirt. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m keeping an eye on it.

Directing the circus is the somewhat revolting – yet strangely charming – Julian Slink played with just the right amount of sinister campiness by Colin Cunningham (Stargate Atlantis, Falling Skies). He’s the steampunk ringmaster who’ll remind you of your creepy uncle, but with a feather neckpiece and filthy top hat.

Colin Cunningham as Julian Slink

Colin Cunningham as Julian Slink

Rounding out the main cast is Thomas Dominique (Undercover, Black Mirror) who plays Arthur’s partner Chris Carpenter, kidnapped by the mysterious Heart Corporation (which rules the country) and a prisoner of the android Aki played by Marama Corlett (Sinbad, Guardians of the Galaxy). Aki is a tiny mistress “of pain and pleasure” wrapped up in a tight dress, but she’s pretty much a nympho badass, if you ask me.

In the background, but central to the plot are hints about the evil Heart Corporation that’s ruling the country after finding some very interesting things in the giant “scar” in the middle of the country. The scar was the result of the “great fracking quakes.” So, it’s an environmental cautionary tale! And, perhaps a nod to Battlestar Galactica?

This show has never heard “don’t go there…” In fact, it’s not afraid to go anywhere. Nothing is off-limits. In one episode, the only thing that will short-circuit the electrocution-y implants on the drivers’ necks is, wait for it… sex! So, as Grace says to Arthur, “Do me or die.” Arthur, being a good guy, is a bit hesitant. But time’s a-wasting and electrocution is nigh:

Grace d’Argento: Get behind me quick. Backdoor entrance, Barbie. One-time offer.
Arthur Bailey: Okay.

Alan Ritchson as Arthur Bailey

Alan Ritchson as Arthur Bailey, just a good guy in a bad place.

And that’s the kind of dialogue you can expect from the show.

In a TVLine interview, show creator James Roland explained one of the limitations of the show:

“Like with most censors in America, there are issues with nipples. Everyone’s ‘scared’ of the female nipple, so we had to do some creative CGI work and stuff. But we got around nudity by doing the black bars.”

So, no nipples, but sex, blood, cannibalism, violence, an orgy, a boatload of killing, incest, and involuntary medical procedures are OK – and that’s just in the first five episodes.

From what I’ve seen from watching Syfy, the network seems to be doing some sort of rebranding, but not along the lines of the innocent “Eureka,” stately “Battlestar Galactic” or the eerie “Haven.” “Blood Drive” is an over-the-top blood-, sex-, and violence-soaked carnival ride of pointless exploitation that makes you feel awful for kind of enjoying it.

But don’t worry, “Blood Drive” has a complaint hotline for you if you find the show objectionable. Just dial 325-400-DGAF. I’m not kidding. If you get put on hold, you can always download the coloring book.

Page from Blood Drive coloring book

A page from the Blood Drive coloring book. So cute!

If you aren’t squeamish, check out the (NSFW) trailer:

Cover of Manifest Destiny 1

The purpose of Lewis & Clark’s expedition, IRL, was to find a route across the unchartered western US and to undertake a study of flora, fauna and geography. The expedition led by Cpt. Meriwether Lewis and his Second-in-Command, William Clark, was also tasked with establishing trade with the local tribes.

skeleton flowerIt’s a pretty well-known slice of history, but imagine if Lewis & Clark were tasked not only with everything above, but also were directed to destroy “monsters” they encounter along the way. That’s the premise of “Manifest Destiny.”

Flora & Fauna

The story starts with Clark writing in his journal and we meet the crew made up of officers, soldiers, and a few unsavory convicts and mercenaries. Clark’s a bit put out that they have yet to come across any exotic flora or fauna – or any monsters for that matter.

The lesson here is, be careful what you wish for or you just might get it in the form of a gigantic buffalo/man/buffalo man, creature like this:

Manifest Destiny creature

What the hell?

When I wander into the wilderness that most I have to worry about is getting bit by a tick. Or perhaps being accosted by a rabid raccoon. Don’t laugh: those adorable little trash pandas aren’t so adorable when they’re foaming at the mouth. And yes, here in Northern New England, they have been known to attack.

Still, I don’t have to worry about a super-sized sulky adolescent satyr from hell.

Enter Sacagawea

But I guess that’s to be expected in a place where flowers look like creepy skulls and there’s a – SPOILER ALERT – band of meat-eating vegetation zombies. They’re kind of like the live undead. Hard to imagine, but I guess things were different in the days of the American frontier.

Meanwhile the crew is getting spooked and things look dire. But just in time Sacagawea arrives with her trader husband Toussaint Charbonneau. And this is one larger-than-life Sacagawea, who, even though she’s sidelined by the expedition, still manages to kick ass in an epic way.


What chance, indeed?

Volume I of the trade was a Mother’s Day gift from my son, who always gives me great comic book and comic-related presents. My son is a lover of history, and a comic book enthusiast: I can see why he liked Manifest Destiny – it’s a great mix of fact and fiction, real and unreal, and history and fantasy. Kind of like my life.

At a Glance:


This is one of my recent flea market finds. I couldn’t pass it up. The Marvel Swimsuit Special was so kitschy, so awful and so over the top that nobody should be subjected to it in all of its ridiculousness.

So I just had to share it with all of you. Behold:

Marvel Swimsuit Special

A Marvel swimsuit edition? Really? What the hell were they thinking? It’s just so very  wrong  that it’s … almost right.

I guess what’s really wrong is that the Swimsuit Special theme was popular enough that it ran for five years (1991-1995). How is that possible?

The issue I found was from 1992 and was filled with superheros frolicking on the beaches of Wakanda (“Take a Wakanda the wild side,” was the title of the issue. Ack.) in all their semi-nude glory. But you know how it goes: It’s all fun and games until the skrulls show up.

Center spread from Marvel Swimsuit Special

Which X-Man is that in the little Speedo-y thingy? Looks like he fell asleep on his beach blanket or was stuck in some boiling water with a little salt, later to be served with drawn butter. And those prankish X-Women … it’s just fun in the sun here on wacky Wakanda.

Captain America

“Cap cools off with a quick splash in the clear, refreshing waters of Black Warrior Creek” Black Warrior Creek? Really? Is that the best they could come up with?


One of the best things about being a superhero model, rather than a mere supermodel, is that you don’t need to worry about the laws of physics as Rogue demonstrates here with a dive off Warrior Falls, hair — and bikini top — intact. Take that Elle MacPherson.

Another example is below with Silver Sable’s gravity defying dive prep in this pic from the 1993 issue. Check out the hand grenade.

Silver Sable

Look at these next two images — I dare you. These kind of makes you want to rip your own retinas out, don’t they? Some things just should never, ever be viewed by the eyes of  mere mortals.

Nick Fury Tony Stark

Eww. That’s all I have to say.

That was from my 1992 issue. But even more frightening is this from the 1995 issue:


OMG. I know Scallop shells usually have a jewel inside, but not the family jewels. That’s not even a very big scallop shell. The only explanation I can think of is Seinfeld-like shrinkage due to the cool waters. Although I never imagined the waters of Madripoor, the fictional comic book island located in Southeast Asia, would be quite that cool. Poor substandard Sub-Mariner.

Meanwhile, back in Wakanda …

I know the caption says Bishop, Cyclops and Gambit are taking an early-morning jog on Panther Island, but it looks more  like the trio just found out Bette Midler tickets went on sale and they want to be sure to be first in line. If you get my drift. If not, let’s just say Bishop, Cyclops and Gambit are taking an early-morning jog on Panther Island and leave it at that.

Bishop, Cyclops and Gambit

And here’s one of my favorites, which appeared in the 1993 issue.  Ghost Rider wearing nothing but a smile.

Ghost Rider

Had enough? No? Well, here are a few more examples of the Swimsuit Special through the ages— or at least 1991 — 1995.

After that, let’s never speak of this again.

Captain America and Diamondbacl




Thor and Thunderstrike


The Wasp


Dr. Strange swimsuit

1995? I couldn’t find the exact issue this ran in, but I thought it might be ’95, since it says “95” at the bottom. Who cares? Whatever the year, It just begged to be included. Dr. Strange, indeed.

Ben Grimm aka Thing

I had a birthday recently, and as you might imagine at a time like this, I’ve got a lot on my mind as another year has gone by.

I wonder, for instance, will I ever be able to retire? Will there be peace in my lifetime? Will I ever lose that Freshman 15? (Granted, it’s been 30 years since I was a freshman, but I remain hopeful.)

Also weighing heavily on my mind is Ben Grimm.

Ian went to DragonCon a few months ago and, nice guy that he is, brought me Ultimate Fantastic Four #1back a copy of Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. I. I wasn’t that up on the FF, but I loved the story and learning about their origins. Just one thing continues to nag at me and that’s Ben Grimm.

OK, just consider this: Reed, Sue and Johnny are playing with some serious physics stuff  — the kind you don’t learn in public high school — when Grimm comes to visit his old pal Reed. Through no fault of his, the whole project goes to hell and he ends up as Thing.

And that’s it. He’s Thing. Have you everFantastic Four 129 stopped to consider the injustice? Reed gets all elastic-like, but when he’s not a human piece of gum, he a relatively normal-looking guy. Johnny gets to go up in flames at will, but when he’s not a hottie of a whole different kind, he’s gets to be the good-looking rogue. And Sue gets to be invisible. Then, when she’s not invisible, she’s the nauseatingly cute-as-a-button girl next door.

Grimm gets superpowers too. And when he’s not a big, powerful, hulking pile of rocks, he’s … a big, powerful, hulking pile of rocks. He never gets to look like a normal guy again. It’s just so frustratingly unfair. And it has been bothering me ever since I finished that FF trade.

It kind of reminds me of the Charlie Brown episode from Halloween. You know the one:

“Hey, I got three cookies!”

“I got a pack of gum!”

“I got a rock.”

Ben Grimm aka ThingSo what do I take from all of this? Ben Grimm is the Charlie Brown of the superhero world. He’s the one who gets the rock. I’m just waiting for the issue when Sue invites him to kick a football.

Charlie BrownAnd I, having a soft spot for the underdog, feel bad for Grimm, just as I do for Charlie Brown. Let’s face it. Charlie Brown is a downer as far as comics go.

Recently my LCS had 75 percent off back issues, so I bought a bunch of old, really cool, collectible Fantastic Fours at an excellent price. Really, it’s the least I could do for old Grimm.


I’VE BEEN THINKING a lot about driving lately. That’s mostly because my 16-year-old son recently got his license, which was preceded by the 40 hours of practice with a parent the state requires, the many weeks of drivers ed and the first few terrifying days of letting him out in the car on his own.

You can understand why driving – and the zombie apocalypse – has been front and center in my brain lately. So it made sense that a couple of weeks ago “Driver for the Dead,” caught my attention. It was all that driving – and the fact that Scott at my comic store had it as his weekly pick.

Driver for the Dead - Mom and Dad

What is up with this woman?

I had “Driver for the Dead” in my hand and was debating whether to buy it when I saw it was one of Scott’s picks for the week. Scott’s kind of like my Roger Ebert of comics – I almost always agree with Ebert on movies, and I almost always agree with Scott’s picks. (So, OK, I’m totally not on board with his choice of “True Blood.” But then I didn’t agree with Ebert on … OK, I can’t ever remember disagreeing with Ebert. On the other hand, Scott also likes “The Boys,” the raunchy Ennis and Robertson series that I love, even if I hate myself for it.)

“Driver for the Dead” is published by Radical Publishing, described by Radical Publishing as “committed to creating quality published works featuring character-driven storylines that truly reflect the creators’ vision.” Or, more succinctly, comics that cost $4.99. But they’re big comics – well over 50 pages, so I really can’t complain. Or I could, but I won’t.

“Driver for the Dead” is sort of a horror noir story about Alabaster Graves who drives the dead – and sometimes the undead – to their final resting places. He also happens to be totally ripped, the better to fight monsters with, I assume.

The story starts with a family who has a problem with their child – don’t we all? Mine won’t clean his room. Theirs is possessed. Dad and mom – who looks kind of like Martha Stewart in knee socks – call on

Driver for the Dead

“Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf—ing snakes on this motherf—ing plane!

Mose Freeman – looking suspiciously like Morgan Freeman – for help with their problem child who is doing the darndest things like spewing snakes out of his mouth. That’s actually kind of funny since the story was written by John Heffernan, screenwriter of the brilliant “Snakes on a Plane” movie. By brilliant, I mean so bad, it’s good. And come to think of it, I think Ebert hated it.

Freeman runs into a small problem – of the deadly kind – and in his dying words, asks the family to call Graves to fetch his body and drive it back to the family crypt.

Add Freeman’s great-grandaughter Marissa, and that’s the set up. With a good story and fabulous illustrations, “Driver for the Dead” issue 1 has me eagerly awaiting issue 2. In the meantime, I’m off the to comic book store. The new American Vampire, Daytripper #10 and The Calling are all out this week and they’re calling my name. All is right in the world.

Except for the possibility of a zombie apocalypse – I just hope it waits until after issue 2 of “Driver for the Dead” is out.

Comic books are a great source of intentional and unintentional humor. Here are a few of my favorite recent finds from the flea market:

Avengers 239 with David Letterman

And now for Stupid Superhero Tricks …

What if 14 Sgt. Fury

I know I’VE always wondered about this. Haven’t we all?

Superboy 177

Remember: Research shows that key areas of the teenager’s brain aren’t fully mature until their third decade.

Flash 271

Doesn’t he look sharp?

Avengers 201

Boy, does his job suck.

Group of superheroes - Blackest Night

So many superheroes, so little time

So I stopped at CVS on my way home, and there near the checkout was a tabloid with the headline, “Nostradamus knows your future.”

It really freaked me out. I mean, how does he know that I’m going home to make macaroni and cheese, because my husband’s not home and he does all the cooking? When he’s not here, I usually fall back on the path of least resistance when it comes to food, which usually means mac and cheese. And a glass of wine, which requires no prep whatsoever.

Why would Nostradamus know that and more importantly, why would he care?

It made no sense, but it did get me to thinking about my future. Specifically what my future would be like had I married a superhero instead of my husband.

Then I thought, wait a minute, maybe I don’t want to marry a superhero, I mean, I’ve been reading comics for less than a year and maybe I’m just not ready to commit. Maybe right now I should just settle for dating a superhero.

OK, that seems reasonable, but who to date? So many superheroes, so little time. What’s a girl to do?

I did what any modern girl who’s not ready for online dating would do: I checked out Eight-minute Dating. Eight-minute Superhero Dating. Here’s how it works. You spend eight minutes talking with each candidate, then at the end of the night you let the organizers know which one(s) interest you and leave your number for them. If they’re interested in you, they let the organizers know that and you swap numbers. So I spent eight minutes reading up on each of a handful of superheroes in the quest to find the most datable one. Here’s what I found:

Wally West as the Flash

Fast times with Wally

Wally West AKA Flash

So he first thing the guy tells me is “My name is Wally West. I’m the fastest man alive. I’m the Flash.” What does that mean? Fast like a speeding bullet? Or fast like sex on the first date? The guy doesn’t stop moving and I’m getting dizzy and I don’t even think it’s the wine I’m drinking. Which, trust me, I need because the guy is stressing me out. Unlike the original Flash, Barry Allen, who runs the speed of light, Wally (may I call him Wally?) runs the speed of sound, so I can’t hear a word he’s saying, and he’s saying it all really fast. I do catch, however, that in addition to being really, really fast, he’s able to control the speed at which his body vibrates (uh-uh, no way, I’m not touching that one. Come up with your own joke.) He can vibrate at speeds so fast that he’s unable to be seen with the naked eye. I’d never know what this guy was up to. Plus, he’s lived with a lot of women — check the DC database — which is rarely a good sign.

I think I’ll pass on this one.

Clark Kent AKA Superman

OK, even with his buff bod, as Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent is a dork with a capital “D”. This is the kind of guy who still wears a Members Only jacket and listens to Wham! He’s the kind of guy you love, just “not in that way.” He’s the kind of guy who’s just too nice.

Clark Kent

What should I wear to ComiCon?

On the bright side, he’d probably go to ComiCon with me — and dress up as a superhero.

As Superman, he’s more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings, bend steel in his bare hands, yadda yadda. And oh, yeah, there’s that X-Ray vision thing. He’d never use that cheap pickup line “I can guess what color underwear you’re wearing,” although he actually could. And that kind of creeps me out.

Anyways, there’s one other little problem: Clark Kent/Superman has been in this country for 72 years. Anyone ever seen his green card? I have enough problems without waking up to ICE at my front door.

Yo Clark, don’t wake me up before you go go, if you get my drift.

Bruce Wayne AKA Batman

Bruce Wayne reading the paper

All work and no play…

Sure, he’s handsome; sure he’s rich; but will he be there when I need him? If it’s at night, fuggedaboutit. Picture an idyllic night at the opera. La Traviata is onstage, there are roses, champagne, then suddenly Bruce is gone. Again. It’s another ride home with Alfred while Bruce goes out to fight crime as the Caped Crusader – with that young boy Robin he spends an awful lot of time with.

Face it, the guy’s a workaholic. Every night he’s out and when he’s home, he’s either sleeping, coming up with new gadgets or talking about his job. He’s all “Joker, this, Riddler that.” What about my needs? I can expect a lonely existence. A rich one, but a lonely one. Hm. Wonder what Tony Stark’s doing tonight …

Tony Stark

Cocktail hour in Stark land

Tony Stark AKA Iron Man

Rich, brilliant and handsome, he works, but he plays too. Maybe a little too much, but still …he knows how to treat a woman. Not seeing a downside here.

I’ll leave my number – along with ever other woman in the room.

Kyle Rayner AKA Green Lantern

Another guy who can pull off a one-piece bodysuit, Kyle Rayner’s got some good attributes, but he carries a bit of baggage. His girlfriend was murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator, giving new meaning to the term “cold shoulder.” It’s just not the kind of thing a guy gets over real quick, even one with a ring that allows him to conjure up almost anything through sheer force of will.

The Green Lantern Kyle Rayner

Lord of the Ring

I had to stifle a giggle when he recited his oath:

“In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power … Green Lantern’s light!”

So I finished it for him:

“Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colours from our sight
Red is gray and yellow white
But we decide which is right

And which is an illusion…”

Sorry, I got a little bit confused there. That last part is actually from “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. Kyle is not amused.

The new Atom

Small change

Ryan Choi AKA Atom

A professor at Ivy University, Ryan Choi discovers his mentor’s “bio-belt,” which allows him to manipulate size and density — of himself. First thing he does is shrink down to a size so small, that were I to put him in my purse, he’s be lost among the Tic-Tacs, lipsticks, Blackest Night rings and supermarket receipts. Who wants a guy who can get hurt and/or lost so easily? I mean, he’s so small. And gentlemen, if you take only one thing away from this today, take this: No matter what you’ve been told, it does matter.

Cover of The Dark Night Returns

Well this certainly didn’t go as planned – I was supposed to do a weekly blog item on comics, based on a different letter each week. By now I should be up to about ‘I’ or ‘J’ but instead I’m at ‘B.’

I guess Batman was a no-brainer, although it required Ian to suggest it because I was frozen with indecision.

So he lent me his copy of “The Dark Knight Returns,” which was really quite nice of him, and, although it’s been two months since he loaned it to me, hasn’t asked for it back yet. Then again, he’s been holding my Issue 1 of “American Vampire” and my hardcover copy of “Kickass” as ransom. Well played, Mr. Clark. Well played.

“The Dark Knight Returns” takes place sometime in the future, yet at the 80s at the same time. There is a Ronald Reagan-esque president, Robin is dead and Batman has retired, is 55 years old and facing his own mortality. And things aren’t going so well in Gotham: There are Mutants running amok, Two-Face is on the loose and the Joker is up to his usual pranks.

Panel from The Dark Knight Returns

Gotham needs a hero, so Bruce Wayne returns to crime-fighting — some guys buy a sports car when they hit mid-life; Batman goes back to battling the bad guys. But he’s not quite in the shape he used to be. It’s like “Take that mutant! Oy, my hip.” What do you expect, the guy IS 55 after all. My husband is 55 and I’m trying to picture him in a cape and cowl fighting crime on the mean streets. I’m having a little trouble with that. But he does grill a mean steak and makes a killer Margarita, and really, that’s a pretty good talent that makes the world a better place, too.

Fortunately for the Batman, help is at hand in the person of Carrie Kelly, a 13-year-old who wants to be Batman’s sidekick although I don’t know why she’s so eager to get the job. Seems to me it’s a job that doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of job security. But she’s definitely up for it — she buys a Robin costume (oh the irony!), leaps a few buildings for practice and saves Batman’s life. Holy Halloween, Batman! She’s the new Robin – albeit with a with a wicked pompadour and funky Bono glasses.

The bad guys are all pretty over the top, which is a Batman hallmark. There are the Mutants, a group of retro-futuristic bad guys that look like something out of the “Road Warrior,” which, by the way, I saw for the first time while in London in the early 80s at a bar on Queensway. The bartender loved it and seemed to have it on an endless loop.Page from The Dark Night Returns

That really has nothing to do with anything but it is kind of a nice memory.

Meanwhile, Harvey Dent/Two-Face has returned to a life of crime and while Batman defeats him, all the TV talking heads start debating the merits of vigilantism and pretty much don’t shut up for the rest of the story. Then the Joker wakes up from a catatonic state and wrangles his way out of Arkham Asylum only to start driving people crazy with a weird lipstick that obviously wasn’t approved by the FDA. The Joker gives Batman a run for his money, but as the caped crusader closes in, he breaks his own neck. You gotta give props to someone who can break their own neck. He does it so people will think Batman did it, the police will arrest him and the populace turn on him. But Batman gets away.

“The Dark Knight” returns doesn’t have the lush artwork of some comics and it’s densely written – meaning there’s a whole lot of writing – so it’s a bit meatier than some of your everyday comics. It’s a dark, gritty novel that I’m told, like “Watchmen”, changed the comic landscape — it was named among Time magazines 10 best English language graphic novels ever written. Although not everyone agreed with that assessment. Mordecai Richler, in his 1987 review in the New York Times, wrote: “If this book is meant for kids, I doubt that they will be pleased. If it is aimed at adults, they are not the sort I want to drink with.”

Critics. What do they know? There aren’t that many people I’d want to drink with anyways.

Being something of a geek mom means I get pretty non-traditional gifts from my family.  At Christmas, among other things, I got a Green Lantern ornament from my husband and a glow-in-the-dark Green Lantern T-shirt from my son. For my anniversary, my husband gave me gift certificates to the comic book store.

Mothers Day was no different. Last night we all went to see Iron Man 2 in IMAX to celebrate, and yesterday, on our weekly trip to the comic book store, my son bought Brightest Day and gave me the white power ring for my collection. Nothing says “Mom” quite like a power ring, no?

But my big gift was something my husband and son saw at an auction and knew would be perfect for Mothers Day. Here it is in all its awesomeness:

Headlights Batman wall sculpture

Holy light-up effigy, Batman!

Does my family love me, or what?

It is a numbered Headlights Wall Sculpture from 1992 and I think it’s the coolest thing ever. Now I just have to decide where to put it. I’m thinking it would look perfect in my new office, but maybe that’s a little over the top. What do you think?

Invincible Iron Man 127


I’ve been reading a little vintage Iron Man this week — in this case, issues #127-130 of The Invincible Iron Man from 1979.

First of all, this 1979 Tony Stark is no Robert Downey Jr.

Tony Stark and Robert Goulet

Tony Stark, meet Robert Goulet.

He looks a lot more like Robert Goulet – so much so that I kept expecting him to break out in a comic book version of “Those Were the Days.” He didn’t, but I kept an eye on him.

In issue #127, Tony Stark is a very wealthy industrialist who lives in a fabulous house, designs high-tech stuff, woos women and drinks. This guy is the Barbie of superheroes. He has everything.

Invincible Iron Man #128 cover


Occasionally he shucks his leisure suit and dons an armored suit and cruises the world as Iron Man. In this one, Iron Man fights off a whole super army (a woman villain named Man-Killer? Really?) , clears himself of a murder charge, stands up his bodyguard girlfriend Bethany and sinks into a deep depression realizing that, despite the good he does as Iron Man, without the suit he’s just a rich, drunken cad who brings trouble on himself.

By issue #128, Tony Stark is deep into the bottle and he’s in trouble. You think you’ve got problems? Tony Stark’s butler quits on him. Now that’s a real problem. It’s hard to find good help. Especially when you’re drunk.

Invincible Iron Man #129 cover


The guy’s a wreck, but still, he puts on his costume. Then he crashes through the window and “helps” at a train wreck where he drops the car that happens to be filled with deadly chlorine gas (he forgot to check the car’s weight ratio with his sensors) and causes an evacuation. No one is amused. Fortunately Bethany comes to the rescue and gets him to dry out, but by the end of the comic, he’s lost control of Stark Industries.

Invincible Iron Man 130


In the next two issues, he gets his company back and battles Dreadnought, goes to Hong Kong and defeats a supernatural/high-tech “demon” and once again, saves the world. Tony Stark’s a busy guy.

For some reason, nobody seems to notice that every time Tony Stark disappears from the scene, Iron Man shows up. Luckily he keeps his suit in a briefcase and he can change in a flash. I just don’t understand how he can fit that suit in there with all the stuff it has. It’s kind of like all those clowns they jam into the little Shriner cars; there’s no way they can all fit in there, but they just keep coming out.

Check this out:

Three Iron Man panels

Repulsor rays, sensor scan and plexiglass shields …

Three panels from Iron Man

… built-in foam ducts and image projector

You’d think having all the money in the world PLUS an adamantium, electric-powered, refractory-coated armor suit that has repulsion rays, sensor scanners, super strength, an image projector and reverse magnetism (to name a few) would make Tony Stark a happy man, but it doesn’t. Like many good superheroes, he’s conflicted – much like Bruce Wayne, but with a sense of humor.