The New Adventures of “Robin Hood”

Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) joins the ranks of DC characters with their own titles, such as Plastic Man, Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter), Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick), The Flash (John W. Shipp), Steel (Shaquille O’Neal), and Static

As I’m preparing to watch the second episode of the brand new CW series, Arrow, I find myself bristling with excitement about it. Is it because it’s another highly anticipated presentation of the superhero world? Eh, not really. I have SyFy’s Alphas for that. I’d have to say it’s because this is a bit of new ground for DC. After all, it is VERY rare that they depart from anything involving Batman or Superman – especially when it comes to live action. When compared to Marvel, who has premiered series and movies which star various characters from within their lineup including the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Blade, Captain America, the Punisher, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Men in Black, and of course, Marvel’s flagships – Spider-Man, & the X-Men. And with the exception of Black Panther,  they’ve all been revived or redone in some manner. However, when you look at DC, only 7 heroes have had their own titles and (at least, initially) have had no ties to DC’s Superman/Batman breadwinners – Plastic Man, Captain Marvel (in Shazam), Wonder Woman, the Flash, Static (in Static Shock), Green Lantern, and now Green Arrow (in Arrow). And out of them, only Wonder Woman & Green Lantern have had a second chance beyond cameos (although the Green Lantern animated series premiered around the same time as the movie).

For the record, DC has had other series & movies that don’t involve Superman and/or Batman, but they’ve all been spin-offs in some matter – Supergirl is Superman’s cousin. Steel was a character who donned his uniform in homage to Superman (during the “Death of Superman” comic arc). Birds of Prey is a comic series based on a Gotham without Batman and stars the original Batgirl & Batman’s daughter. Krypto the Superdog, despite not having Superman, is about Superman’s dog. Teen Titans & Young Justice are both groups led by Batman’s protege, Robin. Not only was the Legion of Superheroes a [comic] spin-off of Superboy, but the animated series starred a young Superman as well. Even the recent Aquaman pilot was a spin-off of the recent Superman-based series, Smallville. So all in all, this is a pretty big step for DC since Green Arrow so far has only had  brief cameos in animated series like Justice League Unlimited and was a supporting character on Smallville for two seasons.

(FYI: The next paragraph is merely presumption. I am not a DC\WB\CW insider.)

I personally believe that this series was an answer to the highly requested Smallville-like take on Batman by Smallville fans, whether it was a Batman cameo or his own series. However, considering the fact that Christopher Nolan had just finished a Batman movie series, it made little sense to create a brand new series around the same concept. BUT, producers must have liked the idea of a new Smallville-ish Batman-like series, so why not use the other powerless hero from a similar background (except with a Robin Hood-esque twist)…you know…despite the fact that he was already a regular character on Smallville. The main benefit of using this character is that it would allow the producers & writers to get dark with the series as the last few seasons of Smallville attempted to do.

Clockwise from top-left: Comic Green Arrow, Green Arrow in Justice League Unlimited, Stephen Amell in Arrow, and Justin Hartley in Smallville

For those who aren’t familiar with Green Arrow/Oliver Queen and haven’t seen Arrow or Smallville, Oliver Queen is more or less a modern day Robin Hood. While Robin Hood was purported to be a Crusade PoW of English nobility, Oliver Queen is the heir of an affluent family who gets marooned on a small island in the Pacific for 5 years. During that time, he hones his body to its optimum peak, mainly specializing in archery. Initially, he was a Batman clone, but was later developed into a champion of the poor & downtrodden in the 60’s.

As I stated before, I am fairly excited to see this new series. For one thing, unlike the early seasons of Smallville (and as Birds of Prey attempted to do), this series seems to be fairly dark. The first episode was somewhat vague as to where it was going, but the same could be said for many series. And as I said, it’s rare to see DC stray away from a Batman or Superman-based series. The television character so far seems somewhat thin with him being a spoiled rich playboy as he lands on the island, yet becoming a solid fighter of corruption upon his return. In the first episode, it almost seemed as though he does it for the adrenaline rush, but time will tell as the series goes on.


Once Upon a Time, There Was a Grimm Fable

Snow White riding Bigby Wolf in his wolf form

How many of you are familiar with fairy tales? I mean REALLY familiar –  not just seen the Disney movies or read the sugarcoated stories retold in picture books. “What’s the difference,” you may ask? “How can they be any different from the versions I saw in those classic Disney movies?” Well, Grimm wasn’t just the name of the brothers who collected many of these tales – “grim” also describes the overall nature of the stories. Tales like The Little Mermaid and The Little Match Girl were often very graphic and many times, had a depressing ending. Even in the original Cinderella story, the stepsisters went as far as cutting their feet in order to fit the glass slippers. In Little Red Riding Hood, the woodsman cut open the wolf to find Red and her grandmother whole and replaced their spot inside the wolf with stones. Indeed, in that day & age, children’s stories were much, much different than their modern counterparts.

In 2002, a former artist for TSR (the company behind Dungeons & Dragons) began penning a comic series about the fairy tale characters of old and how they became stuck in our reality. This series, he called, Fables.  Fables mostly takes place in an area of New York City appropriately called, Fabletown, which is where the majority of the human characters (or those who could change their shape to human) live. Old King Cole is the mayor of Fabletown, with Snow White as his right-hand (she actually runs the town) and Bigby Wolf as the sheriff. Other notable residents of Fabletown include Jack Horner (of every Jack-based fairy tale), Prince Charming (a broke, but charming con artist playboy), Bluebeard, Pinocchio (now a real, albeit permanent, boy), and Beauty and the Beast. Fabletown also has a separate entity known as the Farm, which is where many non-humanoids are encouraged to live so that they don’t attract attention from who they call, “Mundys” (us). Some of those include the three bears as well as the three little pigs. According to the story, some centuries ago, the Fables were chased into our universe from theirs by a mysterious character know only as “the Adversary.” The Adversary waged war, conquering just about everyplace his army landed with the intention of enslaving the Fables. For whatever reason, once the Fables crossed into our universe, they became more or less immortal and for that reason, it was generally decided that they would try to stay away from Mundy affairs.

Due to the popularity of the series as well as the critical acclaim, executives rushed to cash in on the marketability of the comics by developing them into a television series. The first was NBC, who purchased the rights in 2005, but could not seem to get a script off the ground. Then in 2008,  ABC purchased the rights to create their own television series based on the comics. However, their script writers also seemed to not be able to make anything of it. Despite this, two series based on the premise of fairy tales becoming reality premiered this past fall: Once Upon a Time and Grimm.

Once Upon a Time

If you’re like me and saw the promos for this series on ABC, you were saying to yourself, “OMG, IT’S FABLES ON TV!!” And this isn’t too far off. Out of the two fairy tale themed tv series of this past season, Once Upon a Time, is clearly the most similar to the original source material. OUT, like Fables, is about the exile of notable fairy tale characters from their lands. But unlike Fables, this exile is imposed by the evil queen from Snow White & the Seven Dwarves (Lana Parilla) in order to prevent the prophecy of Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter usurping her reign. Fortunately, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and the Prince (Josh Dallas) were privy to the prophecy and were able to enter a complicated deal with Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) to ensure her safety just before they were transported from their world. As an adult (Jennifer Morrison), she is talked into coming to Storybrooke by her son whom she gave up for adoption 10 years prior and has been adopted by the Evil Queen. He tells her that all the residents of Storybrooke are from fairy tales, they don’t remember who they are (save himself, Rumplestiltskin, & the Queen), and they are unable to leave the town.

“Wait a second – that doesn’t really sound like Fables at all,” is what some may be saying, and yes, that is true. Beyond the surface resemblance of fairy tale characters being trapped in the real world and their near-immortality (Time stands still in Storybrooke while Fables’ popularity keeps them alive), there isn’t really much in common between the two titles. Fables not only remember the stories that made them popular, but are able to leave Fabletown at will (although it isn’t recommended). The one major benefit that OUT has over Fables is the fact that it is aired on a Disney-owned network, which means that popular characters who had only been named in Disney movies (such as Pinocchio‘s Jiminy Cricket and Sleeping Beauty‘s Maleficent) were able to make appearances in episodes. It is an interesting series, but due to the oversaturation of good Sunday night TV, I couldn’t justify watching it over series like Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, or The Walking Dead.


Grimm, on the other hand, is pretty much nothing at all like its inspiration, which is probably a good thing. Unlike Once Upon a TimeGrimm is made up of a cast of relative nobodies, the most recognizable of which most likely being Russell Hornsby (former star of the ABC Family series Lincoln Heights) and Silas Weir Mitchell (most remembered from his recurring role as criminally insane Charles “Haywire” Patoshik of Prison Break). Grimm takes the old Grimm brothers tales and assumes that they were all based on reality. The Grimm brothers were apparently a part of a line of monster hunters known as “Grimms,” which extends down to Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) who suddenly begins to notice people changing into odd creatures. His dying aunt is unable to give him much information about his new predicament before being hospitalized, but she leaves him her old trailer full of weapons and notes on the wesen (or creatures) he is to face. Russell Hornsby plays his partner, Hank, who does not know about Nick’s new task. However, on his first case as a Grimm, he meets Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a reformed Blutbad, or “Big Bad Wolf.” Nick mistakenly attacks him on his first encounter, but grows to rely on him for knowledge of the wesen world when he realizes Monroe is indeed as harmless as he claims.

The main reason I love Grimm so much is because as a fairy tale fanatic, I know that they were originally very dark stories, and Grimm keeps that in mind. While it’s nowhere near as gory or dark as Supernatural, for the major  four network channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, & FOX), it is a pretty dark series. There are vicious attacks, blades and claws being slashed, and plenty of skulking about at night. And with the level of backstory and mystery going on in its world, Grimm makes me want to not miss a single episode in case a minute detail may be missed.

Maj’s Top 5 Favorite Live Action Adaptations

It’s a good time to be a nerd and/or geek. That is something which absolutely cannot be argued. I never thought I’d live to see the day when many of the biggest blockbuster movies would be based on comic books and video games. Not only that, but video games are now a massive industry and rather than one incredibly great game being released annually, great games are now being released monthly. In addition to this, a new wave of people now call themselves nerds and/or geeks. And I am NOT going to get into whether or not only fringe interests (comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, etc) count as being geeky. One of my favorite things to daydream about is being able to go into the past and bring a geek into present day so I can show them trailers for movies & video games. In fact, I usually like to imagine it’s Eric Forman (from That 70’s Show) if only to put a face to the geek. We’d watch trailers like the original Spider-Man trailer with the World Trade CenterBatman Begins, the Smallville openings, the Avengers trailers, and many others. Kind of like a geeky version of the “It Gets Better” campaign, if you will. Anyway, now with fantastic geeky movies on the horizon, such as James Cameron’s Battle Angel (a film adaptation of Battle Angel Alita) and Legendary Films’s Mass Effect as well as the releases of live action movies Rurouni KenshinAce AttorneyThe AvengersThe Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises just around the corner, things are looking especially bright. However, as fun as all of them look and sound, I cannot guarantee that any of them will be great. For every Men in Black, A History of Violence, or Ghost World, there’s at least 5 stinkers like The King of Fighters, Super Mario Bros., and  Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.  This is why I am going to look back at my 5 favorite live action adaptations.

Note: I am limiting these adaptations to visual media, like anime, cartoons, comics, manga, and video games. I am also limiting my favorites to those titles in which I’m familiar with both the original source AND the adaptation.

Captain America: The First Avenger

For a long time, I didn’t get the appeal of Captain America. He was a goody two-shoes who (compared to the most of the Avengers) didn’t really really seem to be all that special. Then I started playing as him in Marvel vs Capcom (teamed up with Captain Commando), and my appreciation for him increased exponentially. Soon after, I picked up Marvel’s Earth X series (which stars him) and liked him even more. Admittedly, I haven’t read every comic about him, but I do understand a enough about him to know if he’s getting treated fairly, and this movie definitely did him justice without being overly cheesy. I like to think one of the main reasons is because unlike past films, both his origin and return to present day weren’t squeezed into the same storyline. His campaign in the Army encompassed multiple years and ignoring them doesn’t do his story justice. Not only does this film take that into context, but it also accounts for the Army’s being overprotective of him because 1) he originally wasn’t extensively skilled in combat and 2) he was the only super soldier created. Not to mention that some of the comic’s favorites were included, even if they weren’t really explained, such as Bucky (who was given a different origin for the movie) and Dum Dum Dugan.

Initial D

This is yet another title that I didn’t initially take to (pun not intended). I remember hearing about it when I was in college, but despite being a big racing fan, I had no interest in seeing  or reading it. I can only assume that it’s because I thought it was about professional racing, rather than street racing. Anyway, I didn’t actually get into this until a few years ago, when I decided to pick up the manga at the library. Unfortunately, I’m only at volume 10, but that’s only because it’s VERY difficult to find the complete series of this in one place. If you’re not familiar with Initial D (which is legendary in Japan), imagine The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, except the main character is a master at drifting, and it takes place in the mountains instead of Tokyo. As for the movie, like most live action adaptations, there are some differences between the it and the original manga & anime series. However, everything that matters plotwise was kept intact, and that’s what’s important.

The Dark Knight series

There have been many interpretations of the Batman series, but it’s Christopher Nolan’s versions which seem to come the closest to what Batman is actually like in the comics. I know many people are probably saying, but what about the old Adam West series or Tim Burton’s takes? Well, while accurate for its time (thanks, Comics Code!), the Adam West series is nowhere near how dark Batman was supposed to be. Despite portraying Batman as the skilled detective he is, it is done in a laughable manner – almost to the point of spoofing him. As for the Tim Burton movies, while Batman is definitely feared, he also racks up a massive body count, which it has been generally established that Batman does not do. He [mentally] tortures and breaks bones like twigs, but he simply does not kill. Christopher Nolan’s interpretations, on the other hand, combine both of these essential elements without the excessive cheese factor.


As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Smallville, and part of that is because it introduced me to comic books. If you missed that post, Smallville was a show on the WB and CW which was essentially an updated version of the Superboy of old (the original Superboy was Superman as a teen, while the current Superboy is a clone of Superman & Lex Luthor). While it is definitely its own story, there are a lot of hints towards Clark’s future as Superman. As the series goes on, more an more references from the comics are woven into the plot. I consider it tied with the old Superman movie in that there are many elements which suggest that Smallville is heavily inspired by the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Also add in the fact that some of the main cast from those era films have guest spots (many recurring) including Terrence Stamp (Zod in Superman II, Jor-El in Smallville), Annette O’Toole (Lana Lang in Superman III, Martha Kent in Smallville), Margo Kidder (Lois Lane in Superman, Ms. Crosby in Smallville), Helen Slater (Supergirl in Supergirl, and Lara-El in Smallville), and last, but certainly not least, Christopher Reeve (Superman in Superman, and Dr. Swann in Smallville).

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

I have been fascinated by the concept of Tomb Raider since it first arrived on PSX in the mid-90s. Unfortunately, the only reason I wasn’t a big fan right away was because I didn’t own a Playstation. However, that changed a few years later when I received Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III for PC. I quickly fell in love with the games despite the fact that I never finished either of them. Even though they come off as action-adventure games, the original Tomb Raider trilogy are much closer to puzzle games. In fact, most levels rarely feature any sort of combat. This is one of the main reasons I consider Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as one of the most accurate video game to film adaptations out there. The film follows the fairly simplistic formula from the first three games: Lara travels to various [seemly] unrelated destinations to find an artifact, Lara dodges traps in the process, Lara trains in her mansion, and most importantly, Lara has huge boobs. While I have heard people complain about the movie, I’ve never actually heard any reasons why they considered it bad. Until I hear a decent reason why, I will continue to think of it as one of the most faithful video game adaptations ever created.

<Note: Because of the sheer number of adaptations available, I honestly can’t just keep it to 5 – on the other hand, for certain reasons which I will explain, I cannot justify having them on my top 5.>

American Splendor

American Splendor is actually one of my favorite comics ever. It’s about a guy named Harvey Pekar and his life as a middle-of-the-road hardworking American in Cleveland, Ohio. In fact, the movie to me perfectly captured the tone of the comics. So if I’ve read all of it, and I saw the movie as well as enjoyed it, why don’t I have it in my top 5? Because American Splendor is an autobiographical comic series. That’s right – Harvey Pekar is a 100% real person…er…was. He actually died in 2010. But I would imagine having it on the list would be a cheap shot since the comic that the live action movie is based on comes from the most ultimate live action there is: real life.


Blade is most likely my favorite live action adaptation of a comic. At the time of its release (this was BEFORE Marvel began adding their name to the credits), I remember being one of the few who recognized the character as being a Marvel character. As this was well before I was regularly reading comics, I had remembered him from his guest arc on FOX’s Spider-Man cartoon series. Unfortunately, despite the success of the trilogy, the Blade comics are still fairly difficult to come by and because of this, I’ve only read one trade paperback of his.


Kick-Ass was an AWESOME comic & film. I actually got a chance to read the comic just before the movie was released and was thoroughly pleased with it. It was a gritty, VERY realistic take on what being a real-life superhero (like Batman, the Green Arrow, or Spoiler) would be like if they devoted themselves to taking down criminals & kingpins. And then I saw the movie. While the first half was more or less parallel to the comic (except we didn’t know who Red Mist was until his betrayal), the second half was absolute movie insanity. I simply couldn’t understand why the endings were so wildly different…until I found out that the comic series didn’t end until AFTER filming had ended.

Space Battleship Yamato

About four years before the original Battlestar Galactica aired in the US, there was single-season animated series that ran in Japan about a lone warship dispatched to a planet light-years away from Earth in search of a machine which could remove radiation from the planet. The single-season series was called Space Battleship Yamato. It even managed to make its way to the US under the title, Star Blazers. The movie was absolutely great (even though the middle was a bit slow). Unfortunately, I’ve never seen any of the original anime series or movies.

Speed Racer

Speed Racer is another movie that ranks as one of my favorite adaptations ever. It was also one of the few movies that I could watch over & over again without being tired of it. It has action, racing, a decent plotline, and it seems to be relatively accurate. On the other hand, what would I know about the accuracy since I haven’t seen the original anime series. I do happen to notice that it generally falls within one of three categories: 1) You saw it and LOVED it.  2) You saw it and didn’t really care for it. 3) You didn’t really care enough to see it. Unfortunately, most of the populace seems to fall under column 3.

Hating on Love (of Cosplay)

Kristen Bell & Jay Baruchel cosplaying Slave Leia & Obi-Wan Kenobi in the movie "Fanboys."

I’m sure you’ve seen a movie or tv show featuring a geek and at some point, there’s a time where somebody (whether it’s a main character or background) shows up in some sort of costume. FanboysGalaxy QuestPsychRace to Witch Mountain, CommunityCSI, and of course, The Big Bang Theory are all examples of media where this might have been seen. When people dress in these costumes, THAT is called cosplaying. Cosplay is mostly seen at conventions, though people may also cosplay to movie/book premieres and at [pre-planned] public gatherings. Based on that information, it would seem like this is an activity that centers around having fun, right? What’s that? “Yes,” you say? Then that would be one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard in my life. Everyone who heard that is now dumber for having listened to you, you are awarded no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. No, that’s not me saying that, but it seems that there are people who actually believe this.

(Clockwise from top) An unknown cosplayer, HentaiGirl82, and Blikku cosplaying as Kanu Unchou, Ryomou Shimei, and Hakufu Sonsaku from "Ikki Tousen."

You see, as you might have seen on Community and its timeslot rival, The Big Bang Theory, whites aren’t the only cosplayers out there. Now apparently, this is a problem for some people – especially in anime fandom. I’ve heard many stories of snide comments made online and at conventions. It is supposedly because of the fact that most anime and video game characters are of a fair complexion that many people seem to think that people of color are unfit to cosplay anything but characters of color. While there are a good number of characters of color available and this site has a comprehensive list of many of them, though there are more that aren’t listed there, like:

  • Balrog/M.Bison from Street Fighter II
  • Barrett from Final Fantasy VII
  • Dudley from Street Fighter III
  • Elena from Street Fighter III
  • Jadakins from Tokyo Tribe 2
  • Kai Deguchi from Tokyo Tribe 2
  • Kaolla Su from Love Hina
  • Kevin Kotaro Abe from Whistle!
  • Mera from Tokyo Tribe 2
  • Octave from Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
  • Takenori Akagi from Slam Dunk

My buddy, J Ryoga, as Tidus from "Final Fantasy X."

There are a few more, but I can’t remember the names. However, out of a few thousand anime titles, that still amounts to just under 200 names. Not only is it completely unreasonable to expect every darker-skinned person to stick to such a [relatively] short list of characters, but it’s absolutely ridiculous. Especially in a community where cross-playing is considered perfectly acceptable (Cross-playing is when a person of one sex cosplays as a character of the opposite sex). I should mention that I have absolutely no issue with cross-players, whether it’s a male cross-playing a female character or a female cross-playing a male character – just do it to the best of your ability. Cosplay is supposed to be about having fun and celebrating your favorite characters and/or series. If someone wears a good or bad cosplay, it shouldn’t matter if they’re black, white, fat, thin, male, or female. What matters is how the viewer likes the outfit. If you do, feel free to get a picture. If not, ignore it. If they’re not the same physical type as the character and they look amazing, praise them for doing so.

Any straight guys try to hit on this cosplayer, they're in for a shock - deviantArt's Manolo-kun crossplaying Utena Tenjou of "Revolutionary Girl Utena."

I find this whole behavior odd for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if you want to be technical about this whole issue, then outside of obvious European/non-Japanese characters like the Amestrans (eg: the Elrics, Roy Mustang, the Armstrong siblings, etc) of FullMetal Alchemist, Emma of Emma – A Victorian Romance, and Roger Smith of The Big O, there aren’t many “white” characters, either. Yes, there are far more than their darker-skinned counterparts, but the vast majority of fair-skinned characters in anime and manga are 100% Japanese born and raised. Even the majority of the characters who come to Japan from a foreign nation are of Japanese descent as well, but have simply returned to their home country (Minako Aino of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and Kanako Ohno of Genshiken are perfect examples of this). Therefore, according to their theories, they should not be cosplaying many of the characters they do.

The second reason I find this odd (and most importantly), is because if you’re involved in this activity, you’re more or less an outcast. Hopefully not literally in that you don’t have any friends at all, but an outcast in the fact that you don’t really have anywhere else to release this type of creativity. Perhaps you saw someone doing this in a movie or show and thought to yourself that this particular activity looked fun. Or maybe you’re a fan who was watching or reading a series and wanted to dress up as a particular character on Halloween, but just one day a year wasn’t enough. Point is, we’re all in this together. And when I say, “we’re all in this together,” I mean we’re all in this together.

(Clockwise from top) 'Chef' McElroy from "South Park," 'Might Suit' Naruto Uzumaki from "Naruto," 'Hunky no Jutsu' Temari from "Naruto," Kai Deguchi from "Tokyo Tribe 2" (Center) Eikichi Onizuka from "GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka"

Comics: A Retrospective or How Smallville Made Me a Comic Fan

Horus exists. Oh boy, does it exist.

This past Saturday, on a whim, I decided to rewatch the pilot episode of the WB/CW’s super-hero series Smallville. I have actually seen it once before a couple of years back. I had downloaded it from Playstation Network because I remembered at some point that I had missed the first half of it when it originally aired in 2001. No matter what the haters will say about it, I will always appreciate Smallville since it’s the reason I officially started reading comics. I mean, I’d read comics before and I was semi-familiar with characters and storylines based on the movies and cartoons that I’d seen, but I’d never actually been to a comic store before. Despite that setback, I did actually have a few comics while growing up. I believe the count is at around 8 including an issue of Web of Spider-Man, a couple of issues of Horus: Son of Osiris, the comic adaptation of RoboCop 2, and about 4 issues of Fantastic Four. So why hadn’t I ever been to a comic store at that time? Well, to be honest, I didn’t know of any comic stores. Even though I’ve been a super geek all of my life, up until my sophomore year in high school, I was the only geek I knew. When you’re the only geek you know it could be INCREDIBLY difficult to meet other geeks, especially back in the Dark Ages of dial-up internet.

You see, for you young folks out there, in the dial-up era, being on the internet busied up the phone lines which means that to spend a lot of time on the internet, you had to either be a recluse (which I was, but my parents weren’t), or have a separate phone line (which was relatively expensive). Not only that, but we had to pay in minutes for internet time. Yes, this was at home.

A still from the aforementioned scene

Getting back on track, there are very few major events I can remember which inspire me, but this I remember. A good chunk of the first 4 seasons of Smallville love to do wink, wink, nudge, nudges towards Clark Kent’s future as Superman. In a specific first season episode of Smallville, an elderly woman is reading characters’ futures and at the very end of the episode, young Lex Luthor catches up to her and asks her to read his future. We’re instantly brought into her vision as she sees Lex Luthor casually browsing his Oval Office and creates a field of death with his Kryptonite hand. If you’re like me at the time & haven’t read any of DC’s comics or for whatever reason (I didn’t have cable) didn’t see Justice League Unlimited, you’re probably saying to yourself something along the lines of, “LEX LUTHOR AS PRESIDENT?! NONSENSE! WHAT AD WIZARD WOULD ELECT THAT MAD MAN PRESIDENT?!” So I did research. And much like Smallville‘s (as well as Justice League Unlimited and Lois & Clark‘s, in fact) portrayal of him, the modern Lex Luthor is both an ad wizard and a mad man, so his ambitions are not as obvious as they are in say, the Christopher Reeve movies. However, I still didn’t quite believe what I was reading on the Smallville forums (Wikipedia didn’t exist yet), so I decided I needed more proof. I looked up the nearest comic stores and decided to pay them a visit.

Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool

I ended up visiting Graham Cracker Comics, a small Chicago chain. I rifled through the Superman issues looking for proof of Metropolis flooding or Lex being the PotUS and was very surprised to find it all true. However, I was in for an even greater surprise when I discovered that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was reprinting their comic series. And to top it off, I was there just in time to discover that a cartoon I was a big fan of, Static Shock, was based on a comic and that comic was making a new limited run. Because of that, I wanted to find out more about the old Static comic series which apparently was originally published in the 90s.

(Trivia: the back wall of the pool house in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has the premiere covers of 4 Milestone comics, one of which was Static)

After discovering these things about Superman comics, I realized I didn’t want to have the wool pulled over my eyes like that again, so I tried to find a place to start and decided to start with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths from the 80s, which [was supposed to] cements the entire DC universe. That succeeded in getting me interested in the Legion of Super-Heroes and more parallel universe versions of comics. That lead me into reading Kingdom Come (GREAT story, by the way). Then Kingdom Come made me realize just how cool Batman is. Somewhere around then, I found The Death and Return of Superman and read that. Needless to say, I became a comic fiend, trying to read as much as financially possible (which wasn’t much). I finally found a nice balance in occasionally reading trade paperbacks and keeping up mostly with non-major comic titles. For example, the new popularity of The Walking Dead‘s tv series is strange to me since I actually started reading it about 3 years ago. But things I wear hipster glasses for are a whole new story.

Put a Ring on It

Val Armorr, the Legion's "Karate Kid," makes Batman look like an untalented hack.

I got some intel from a con[vention] acquaintance I know about a promotion that DC comics was having. I noticed on Facebook that he was sporting a very interesting piece of jewelry – a flight ring from the comic series The Legion of Super-Heroes. If you’re not familiar with the Legion, you’re missing out.

See, in the 30th century, there weren’t any superheroes like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, or the Flash to protect citizens of the United Planets. Inspired by the heroes of yesteryear, a group of teenagers decided to band together to protect the galaxy from any potential evildoers. These teens called themselves The Legion of Super-Heroes and it grew to become what is likely the largest group of superheroes in comic history.

You can take every X-Man EVER (including affiliates) throughout time, and that number still probably doesn't come close to a TENTH of the Legion's total members.

The Legion membership is most likely so large because the Legion are more or less the end-all, be-all for superhero membership in the 30th century (excepting the Legion of Substitute Heroes, but they’re still the second bananas to the Legion of Super-Heroes). Unlike the Justice League & Justice Society, Legion members are mostly made up of people with natural abilities from their planets with a few that had some sort of accident. There’s even one character who has absolutely no powers at all – just raw talent.  Am I getting off track again? I believe I am.

You know you want one, too. Don't lie.

So, the Legion flight ring not only allows flight, but it also acts as a environmental suit for off-world travel. It is given to all members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. So why am I blabbling on and on about the Legion and their ring? Because I am a HUGE fan of the Legion. I first discovered them about 10 years ago after reading the original Crisis on Infinite Earths which was created in the mid-80s to straighten out the hundreds of parallel universes that DC had created and I became very enamored with their version of the future. OH MY GOD, I just can’t stop getting off-topic, can I?

Anyway, my boy & his buddies are sporting the Legionnaire flight ring in a Facebook picture and when I asked him about it, he said that comic stores were giving them out with Legion comics. Since I was passing a comic store on the way to donate plasma, I decided to stop there to see if they had any rings. Apparently, what my buddy had forgotten to mention (and what I found out at the comic shop) is that this promotion was MONTHS ago. As in September/October months ago. There are no more. It has ceased to be. And thus, I cannot have my Legionnaire flight ring.

This makes me a saaaaaad panda