Monday, June 26, 2006


Hmmm. Like how I just sort of cut out there for no apparent reason? The Hurting doesn't need no hiatus week. We just sort of stop showing up for a while.

The reasons for this absence were not very complicated. I went to work last Sunday just like I usually do and was told that I didn't need to be there, that I had in fact signed up for a week of vacation and was off the schedule. Which I had forgot, because I write down all the important things in my life on little pieces of paper which are extremely easy to lose. And I moved since then, so who the fuck knows where said paper is?

So i had a surprise vacation. Which was reason enough for me to do nothing - absolutely nothing. Seriously, I had the motivation of a methadone-addled tree sloth. That's what a week off of work does to you.

Not having my desktop is really starting to get on my nerves. It's been months since the problems began and I'm still waiting for parts to get here. The last motherboard I bought was faulty, the bios didn't even start right. While my Mac laptop is enough to take care of all my internet needs. all the applications I usually took for granted are closed off to me. No Photoshop means no silly comic book covers. And the worst part is that right before my computer died I stockpiled, like, three If I Ran The Comics Industry entries. And they've been sitting on my hard-drive, unable to be used, for over three months. Just think of all the fun you're missing!

Hey I just thought of something. The new Aquaman revamp is called Sword of Atlantis, right? How is that possible? You can do a lot of things underwater but effectively use a sword is not one of them. And how do Atlanteans even create steel underwater?

Dwayne McDuffie is one of my all-time favorite superhero writers. I know he's flown under the radar for most of his career, but he seems to be getting more attention now, and that's a good thing. He's one of those rare writers whose actually capable of writing mainstream superhero books that seem fresh and new -- and not just retreads of the same old, same old. Obviously his tenure on the Justice League series has raised his profile -- which is a shame, considering the fact that he never really went away. But few people paid attention to Milestone or even the Static Shock series, which is a shame -- I don't think it has as much to do as any implicit racism on the part of comics fans so much as the fact that (if you discount Image), very few new superhero characters have successfully launched in the past, oh, decade and a half. And almost no successful new franchises have survived, which haven't been attached to already existing franchises.

But McDuffie's been back for a while now, and he's doing some work for Marvel. And I have to say, I got kind of happy when I was browsing through the recent Marvel solicits and saw this image:

McDuffie's Deathlok revamp from the early 90s is one of my all-time favorite series. It's not one I ever see mentioned anymore. I don't think a lot of people read it when it first came out: it premiered big but seemed to fall off the radar almost immediately afterwards, to judge by the almost incessant flood of crossovers and guest appearances throughout the title's history. If there was a hot character who could conceivably boost sales, he showed up in McDuffie's Deathlok.

Which is a shame, but the book didn't really suffer for it. The appeal of the book for a reader like myself was almost certainly the reason why it didn't do well. People picking up a book called Deathlok almost certainly wanted ultra-violent sci-fi action featuring lots of shit blowing up. What they got was the story of a man named Michael Collins, a lifelong pacifist and family man whose brain has been put into the body of the ultimate killing machine. Considering that the shelves were packed with anti-heroes who had no compunctions about racking up astronomical body counts, the idea of someone built to be a murderer who actually makes the conscious decision to try and find non-violent solutions to conflict must have seemed positively obscene.

The backbone of the book was the conflict between Collins and the computer mind inside Deathlok's body. Early on Collins instituted a "No Killing" parameter that mandated that under no circumstances could Deathlok ever take a life. Every time he got into hot water the computer would pipe up, asking if it could relax the "No Killing Parameter", and of course Collins always said no. But I remember being seriously skeeved out at the time by the ongoing drama in the letters page -- every month it seemed like someone would write in requesting that the "No Killing" rule be abandoned, so that the character could "properly" kick-ass. Which just seemed rather... creepy.

So it would seem that McDuffie is using the upcoming Beyond book to resurrect Deathlok. I don't know, just looking at the cover, if it's the Michael Collins Deathlok or Luther Manning, but I'd say that odds were good that since it's McDuffie writing the book it'll be Collins. Which is cool -- might just prompt me to pick the series up.

Why is Wolverine's neck so damn big? Looks like he's got a tumor or something. And although I'm happy to see the return of Damage Control (another of McDuffie's creations), I am not so happy at the idea of sinister doings being associated with the concept. Why bring the concept out of limbo if you're just going to soil it?

But man, that's a freaky neck.

Do I even need to say that the thought of an ESSENTIAL TALES OF THE ZOMBIE makes me happy? Wasn't I asking about this not too long ago? I mean, zombies are enjoying something of a renaissance now. I see they're even bringing back ol' Simon Garth. But still -- I think you'd have to look pretty far to find a more obscure candidate for revival. If we have lived to see the day when ESSENTIAL TALES OF THE ZOMBIE would grace our bookshalves, then can an ESSENTIAL WOODGOD be far behind???

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