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THE LAW IS A ASS for 01/04/2000
"The Law is a Ass" Installment # 25
Originally written as installment # 18 and published in Comics Buyer's Guide issue # 541, March 30, 1984 issue
Are you still here?
Well, it looks like--apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenarios and predictions notwithstanding--no one was Y2KOed, which is a bit disconcerting. What's the point of having some good, old-fashioned, doom-and-gloom, Armageddon predictions, if nothing more serious than the computer equivalent of a hangnail happens? Hell, after all the Christmas presents I charged, the least Y2K could have done was zero out my Visa balance. But noooooooo. We got a bust bug.
Okay, truth be told, I did have a Y2K crisis here at my house. I had to reset the clocks on both of my kids' computers from 1980 to 2000. And that's five minutes of my life I'll never get back.
Imagine the inconvenience: I had to wait for Windows 95 to boot. Twice!
But enough of the Y2K Bug stuff, we have law stuff to do.
During the early days of the "The Law is a Ass" (and remember, when you're reading my comments about manga, that this was written sixteen years ago) I constantly looked for new and experimental ways to do the column. Ways I hoped would keep both my interest and that of my readers high. The experiment for this week's column--writing a review column like an episode of a famous TV movie-review show--seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.
Of course, at the time, so did the Cleveland Indians' "Nickle Beer Night."
Which only goes to show you, there's a reason some experiments don't get repeated.
"The Law is a Ass"
Installment # 25
I'm sorry, I can't write a column today. My favorite TV show is about to come on. You watch, too.
FIST: "Anyway, I can't let it end like this. I've got to go after Cannon--alone."
CAGE: "I hear ya, man! You got your pride, right?"
FIST: "It isn't that! There was a battle, and that battle was interrupted before its proper conclusion. It--offends my sense of--order."
"That was Iron Fist talking about his new found philosophy on heroism in Power Man and Iron Fist # 106, '...And an Ill Wind Shall Come!' one of four new comics we'll be reviewing this week on The Law Review, the law in media review show.
"Across the aisle from me is Mean Sizzle, law critic for Movie Collector's World.
"And across the aisle from me is Rajah Q*bert, law critic for The Comics Buyer's Guide.
"In addition to Power Man and Iron Fist # 106, we'll also be reviewing Blue Ribbon Comics # 8 and Flash # 334. But first Rajah has an interesting product from Japan."
"That's right, Mean. But before I start I just want to clarify who we are for those of you who can't distinguish us by our disquietingly similar snide comments alone. I'm the fat one with glasses, and Mean's the skinny, bald one.
"Star Blazers is an experiment from Japan. According to the excellent book, Manga! Manga! the comic book industry in Japan is a multi-billion dollar a year concern, with sales on individual weekly titles exceeding three million copies. Comic creators in Japan are regarded with the same awe as professional athletes are here, up to and including being frequent spokesmen for products in commercials.
"And yet to now Japanese comics have appeared with regrettable infrequency in the United States. Part of the problem is that Japanese is read from right to left not left to right as English is, thus all Japanese comics would have to be printed in reverse in order for the panel placement to be correct, a costly proposition.
"Star Blazers attempts to get around that problem by printing stills from the animated cartoon adaptation of the original comic book serial, instead of printing the original comic. This is easier, because the stills don't have to be reversed, they only have to have word balloons and captions added.
"The story of Star Blazers takes place in the year 2199, when the Earth is filled with underground cities built to escape the radiation, which resulted from the constant attacks of the planet Gamilon. Now, however, the radiation is seeping into the ground and threatening the cities. The Planet Iscandar radios Earth and offers it some Cosmo DNA, which will remove the radiation. The only problem is Iscandar is 148,000 light years away. So the Space Cruiser Yamato, an old World War II battleship converted into a spaceship and outfitted with wave motion engines capable of warping space, is dispatched to Iscandar. The trials of the Yamato, as it fights the Gamilons en route to Iscandar will make up the rest of what will be a multi-part space epic. I thought Star Blazers was fun and had an interesting premise. I give it a 'Thumbs up.' "
"I liked it too, Rajah. But I was troubled by one thing. Japanese movies always to have bad dubbing. This comic-book version of a Japanese cartoon had the comic-book version of bad dubbing. There were several instances where the word balloon placement was so confusing, you couldn't really tell who was saying what or when when."
"I had trouble with that, too, Mean. I also wanted to explain why Star Blazers is on this program, seeing as how it had nothing to do with the law in it. Review programs always have one foreign product on them, which the reviewers praise, because simply it is foreign."
"Okay, Rajah, our next comic is Power Man and Iron Fist # 106, which I included, because it contains what I think is an interesting display of the new philosophy among super-heroes. The book centers around two fights between Iron Fist and Dave Cannon, the Whirlwind. The first fight ends inconclusively, because someone knocked out Iron Fist, before he could defeat Whirlwind, Later Iron Fist goes after Cannon, because their inconclusive first fight offended his 'sense of order.'
"I was troubled by this. Iron Fist has no real reason to go after Whirlwind. Whirlwind was captured the last time he appeared in Avengers # 222. Presumably he was tried, convicted, served his time and was released. Or he was acquitted. Either way, he was not a fugitive or an escaped felon, who had to be hunted down and arrested. He was a free and innocent man, that Iron Fist had no legal right to apprehend. Instead Iron Fist has to ambush him, just to satisfy his sense of order."
"I can't believe you're saying that, Mean. Whirlwind had broken a law, He attacked Iron Fist in the dance. That's some sort of assault, which he committed, So Iron Fist had a proper motive in pursing him, to arrest him for this new crime.
"And as for Iron Fist's 'ambushing' Whirlwind, by jumping through a window and knocking Whirlwind out before Whirlwind could fight back, frankly I thought it made good sense. Why should any hero square off against a super villain openly, when he can surprise him and avoid a prolonged fight as well as the concomitant bruises and injuries?"
"Rajah, I think you've missed my point. Maybe Iron Fist had a legal reason to arrest Whirlwind, but rather than voice it, he gave some nonsensical pseudo-Charles Bronson speech about offending his 'sense of order,' which is hardly a legal reason for attacking someone."
"So you want every super-hero to conform to the same boring mold as say, Superman?"
"No. But if they are to serve as role models, then I think they should give proper and legal reasons for their actions, not fight, because order demands a definite winner exist."
"Well, I don't agree with you, Mean."
"Right, like I'm worried about the opinion of someone who uses the Poppin' Fresh as a personal trainer You haven't had been right about anything since you voted 'Thumbs up' on Robot Monster."
"Moving on, our next comic is Flash # 334, another interminable chapter in the interminable Flash murder trial story line. This issue, like every chapter before it, asks us to believe that the Flash, formerly a decisive hero, would react to being on trial for manslaughter by whining about every little thing that happens. Flash # 334 has our hero reacting to the news that Mayor Pinchot vetoed funds to refurbish the Flash Museum by browbeating his attorney then running out on her, when they were supposed to discuss strategies for his trial, Hardly the reaction of a decisive super-hero. I haven't seen such whining since Hal Jordan went on his knees to the Guardians and cried about being homesick.
"In addition the comic asks us to believe that a city council overwhelmingly opposed to the mayor's veto can only fulminate about the decision, helpless to do anything. Apparently Central City Council doesn't have the veto overriding power that is a cornerstone of the American government and which every other legislative body in the country has. That, anyway, is what the comic wants us to believe. Personally, I'd rather believe that Flash got his powers from that Mopee character everyone is pretending didn't exist.
"Finally, the issue again makes an oft-repeated mistake in this storyline, by having Flash do an apparently bad but in front of a witness, who can exonerate him. When the Flash first killed Reverse-Flash, he did so in front of so many witnesses who could have told to the grand jury that he acted in self-defense, that there should never have been an indictment. Now Flash is tricked into destroying a local news show's set by a phony phone call alerting him that there was a bomb in the set. So, when the Flash tore up the set looking for the non-existent bomb, he further sullied his reputation. The problem is that a police officer was with the Flash when the phone call came in and also knows about the bomb threat. This officer can--and should--explain, why Flash ripped up the set. The upshot should be that no one will criticize the Flash for what happened. But you can be sure, next issue people in Central City will slam him like a WWF wrestlers and the Flash will have something new to whine about."
"Rajah, I think I liked Flash # 334 even less than you did."
"That's not possible, you Mexican Hairless, but go ahead and try."
"I find it ironic that the fastest man alive should be saddled with a labored, snail-paced story. I understand the original plan was to have this story go on as long as a real arrest and trial would, but with the way the story's playing out, the only thing being tried is the reader's patience."
"I agree, Mean. Personally I wish the Flash would be given his self-respect back, and that the story would move faster, like as fast as you're losing your hair. If it's dragged out much longer, the whole book could be arrested for a non-moving violation."
"Our last comic is Blue Ribbon Comics # 8, Mr. Plumps When You Cook 'Em, but it probably should have been called Black Hood # 1, as this comic tells how policeman Kip Burland became the Black Hood. Unfortunately, it tells its story, after the Black Hood had a three-issue run in his own title.
"The stories aren't anything special, although the art work is nice. What is interesting is that Kip Burland is yet another former member of the legal profession, here a policeman, who has grown tired of the law being hamstrung by technicalities which get the guilty off, so dons a black mask and resorts to vigilante justice. This comic is another in the recent trend of costumed heroes, who believe in vigilantism, a trend which reflects the popular notion that the American criminal justice system is too laden with procedural deadweight for its own good. What makes Black Hood almost interesting, is that he does his fighting with a minimum of philosophizing, so the cliches are a little faster moving."
"Mean, I think it's also interesting that the Black Hood wears a black mask, rides a special motorcycle, and uses a gun, which can shoot sleep darts or bullets. All this makes him very similar to DC's Vigilante, yet he predates the Vigilante by almost ten years."
"That's true, Rajah. These Black Hood stories were originally prepared for the Red Circle comics line of 1975. They were even printed before in the Archie's Super Hero Comics Digest Magazine # 2 in 1979."
"One other difference between The Black Hood and the Vigilante, Mean, the Black Hood wasn't trained in the desert for six months by the Ghosts of Victims Past."
"Look, Rajah, it's Tommy the Talented Turkey here to pick out the 'Gobblers of the Week,' the week's worst comics."
"My Gobbler is Superman # 396, Mean, an incredibly stupid story about the old cliche of a man who steals brains to run a computer. Intellex, the Brain Bandit--whose name sounds more like an Atari game than a super villain--wants to steal Superman's brain. But Superman gets help from the Mystery Masquerader, a super hero who can fly, has super speed, super strength, super intelligence, invulnerability, and uses Supermanesque vocabulary like, 'nanosecond.' The story has the gall to challenge the reader to guess who the Mystery Masquerader is.
"Mean, my twenty-month daughter stood up in her crib and said, 'Mommy, Superman.' "
"My Gobbler is Flash # 334, Rajah."
"You can't do that, Mean. That was one of the comics we reviewed. You can't make it your Gobbler, too."
"Why can't I? At least my Gobbler had something to do with the law. Not like yours, you. myopic butterball!"
"This from the only man blackballed from the Hair Club for Men!"
Oops. Looks like they're going to argue through the end of the show again, Oh well. Maybe now I'll have time to write a column.
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