Tuesday, June 5, 2012
NO BEACH PARTIES FOR AQUAMAN
Mera, who would marry the Sea King a few years later. Looking at
this Nick Cardy cover nearly half a century after it showed up on
newsstands in the summer of 1963, this occurred to me:
Beach vacations have been a staple of American life since we’ve had
appreciable leisure time. Yet Aquaman, a character uniquely suited
to such activities, never had a cover in this first series of his
in which he interacted with beachgoers. Such a cover/story might
have made him more familiar to the kids buying comic books in 1963.
Instead, almost all his 1960s adventures put distance between him
and his readers. The only “beach” cover I can recall has Aquaman
lying seemingly dead on a beach circa 1969.
Jack Miller’s “The Doom From Dimension Aqua” (25 pages) was drawn
by Nick Cardy. I don’t recall buying or reading this issue in my
youth. That doesn’t surprise me. Aquaman wasn’t a “must have” for
me back then. I didn’t start buying the title regularly until #31
[January-February 1967] when my earnings began to keep pace with my
This issue was edited by George Kashdan. In addition to the cover
story, there was a single-page “Homer Goes Skin Diving” gag by the
prolific Henry Boltinoff and “The Fantastic Frogmen,” a single-page
text article. In 1963, comics readers would get some serious bang
for their twelve cents.
I’m slowly reading one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read
and it’s not by Stephen King. This book is so scary I can’t read
more than a few pages at a time...and it’s so scary because it is,
incredibly, sadly true.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander [The New Press; $19.95] exposes our country’s
“Get Tough on Crime” and “War on Drugs” policies for what they are:
monstrous unconstitutional attacks on black and minority Americans
to create a new “undercaste” among our citizens.
The events described in this book will infuriate you. I certainly
didn’t need new reasons to hate Nixon, Reagan and other right-wing
scumbags, but I found those reasons here. I also found reasons to
hate Bill Clinton and every other Democratic Party officeholder -
including President Obama - who have played key roles in enabling
and funding the ongoing attacks on simple fairness and basic civil
rights. On justice itself.
I got the book from my local library system. I’ll be buying my own
copy. As a writer, it offers me many inspirations for stories. As
an American citizen, it convinces me that this issues needs to be
brought front and center in this election and in every election to
follow until the injustice is ended. It is, simply put, a powerful
book that every American needs to read.
I managed to watch some movies this past week/weekend. The best of
the trio was one recommended by a reader of this blog. I do read
your comments, my friends, and follow your suggestions on frequent
Larry Crowne (2011) was the movie recommend to me by “Leviathan.”
Written by star and director Tom Hanks with Nia Vardalos, the film
is about a man who, after two decades in the Navy and several years
of excellent service to a big-box store, is fired because it’s been
decided by the suits that his lack of a college education means he
has no chance to advance in the company. So, for the first time in
his life, Larry goes to college where his professors include Julia
Roberts and George Takei.
The movie is a delightful romantic comedy, but it’s also a terrific
examination of character and characters. Leviathan thought I’d get
a kick out of Cedric the Entertainer as a neighbor of Larry’s who
runs a perpetual garage sale. I did...because Cedric made the role
much more than a running joke. There are other great characters in
this movie and several great performances. Particular shout-outs
must go to Holmes Osborne as the college dean, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as
a free spirit fellow student and Wilmer Valderrama as Mbatha-Raw’s
boyfriend and leader of a scooter gang.
Larry Crowne is one of those movies I’m recommending to my friends,
which group also includes my legion of bloggy thing readers. Set
aside an evening to watch this little treasure.
While I wouldn’t rate it as high as Larry Crowne, I was very much
delighted and entertained by The Muppets (2011). Written by star
Jason Segel with Nicholas Stoller and directed by James Bobin, the
film revolves around a number of triangles. There’s the romance of
Segel and the wonderful Amy Adams with a lovable third wheel in the
form of Segel’s Muppet kid brother. There’s Kermit, Piggy and the
frog’s dedication to the Muppets. There’s the Muppets, eager for
a comeback, Chris Cooper’s nasty-ass oil magnate who wants to tear
down the legendary Muppet Theatre and drill for oil, and the vile
Moopets tribute band who want to replace the originals.
The Muppets has amusing songs and dancing, as well as heart-warming
moments of personal courage and growth. It’s wild and wacky where
it needs to be, inspiring where it must be. Not to mention the fun
of spotting the many cameo appearances. If you’ve ever been a fan
of the Muppets, you’ll love this film.
Though it’s one of countless “mockbusters” rushed to market by The
Asylum, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (2010) was mildly
entertaining in a Saturday-night-at-home-alone manner. As some of
you may know, I’m fascinated by the Asylum and it’s knock-them-out
quick style of filmmaking.
This one stars Ben Syder as a not-particularly-interesting Sherlock
Holmes, but makes up for that with Gareth David-Lloyd of Torchwood
fame as Dr. Watson, Elizabeth Arends as the mysterious Anesidora
Ivory, accomplice to Holmes’ villainous brother Thorpe, and Dominic
Keating as that brother. You may know Keating from his recurring
roles on Heroes and Star Trek Enterprise. So, for one thing, this
movie has some decent acting.
What sold me on the movies were the dinosaurs. Sherlock Holmes vs.
dinosaurs? I’m there, though I was disappointed the movie has no
mention of Professor Challenger, Sir Conan Doyle’s other terrific
creation. Still...dinosaurs in London. Yes!
Paul Bales wrote the movie. Among his other writing credits: Nazis
at the Center of the Earth and 2010: Moby Dick. As a producer, he
has worked on 2-Headed Shark Attack, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, Mega
Shark vs. Crocosaurus, Mega Piranha, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
and Supercroc. There’s no reason for me to name all those movies
except that their titles make me giggle.
This is not a movie to put too much thinking into. Just grab the
beverage of your choice and some popcorn, then sit back and pretend
you’re a kid again. There are far worse ways to spend an hour-and-
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella