July 17, 2011 -- Here are some thoughts rambling through my head that aren't worth a whole post by themselves:

 

1) Marvel is ribbing DC's relaunch in their most recent solicitations by bragging about their high issue numbers. You've probably seen "Uncanny X-Men -- still at #340!" or whatever. But I've noticed that Marvel is, in fact, relaunching a lot of their long-running series on the sly:

  • They launched Hulk along with the long-running Incredible Hulk -- but now they're canceling Incredible Hulk (currently called Incredible Hulks), so the remaining major Hulk title is one with low numbers. Result: A Hulk relaunch.
  • They turned the long-running Daredevil into Black Panther: Man Without Fear, and launched a new Daredevil #1. Result: A Daredevil relaunch.
  • They've turned the long-running Fantastic Four into FF, starting over with #1. Result: A Fantastic Four relaunch.
  • They're canceling the long-running Uncanny X-Men and relaunching with Uncanny X-Men #1. Result: An X-Men relaunch.
  • They turned the long-running Thor back into Journey into Mystery, and gave the Thunder God a new title. Result: A Thor relaunch.
  • They turned the long-running Captain America into Captain America and Bucky, and gave Cap a new title. Result: A Captain America relaunch.
  • They flat-out relaunched The Punisher, canceling the old title and beginning a new one (with Castle's second title, Punisher MAX, only about a year old ).

Toss in the resurrections of Ghost Rider, Moon Knight and Alpha Flight, all with #1s, and that's at least 10 relaunches in recent months. It's not 52, but it's still too many to be bragging about how they've kept their old numbering.

 

2) I love having Legionnaires from around the world, offering unique insights and perspectives. And I'm frequently reminded of that by a peculiar difference between American English and UK English: verb-subject agreement. I first noticed it in sports (which the English refer to as "sport"), where Americans say St. Louis IS but the Cardinals ARE doing such-and-such, shifting from singular to possessive depending on the subject. But I hear on BBC radio UK speakers using the plural no matter what, so Manchester ARE doing such-and-so, which sounds weird to American ears. This also applies to "United States" as a subject; American says the United States IS doing such-and-such -- we actually fought a bloody war to establish that the USA is, indeed, a singular noun and not a collection of individual states that can secede at any time -- but UK speakers say "the United States are" -- which, again, sounds odd to American ears.

 

I may have some of the above mucked up -- I don't actually memorize how UK speakers talk, I only notice when a noun/subject "disagreement" sets off my copy editor sense -- but it also applies to Marvel and DC. American speakers generally use the two as singular nouns, whereas UK speakers generally use the two as plural nouns. Americans say "Marvel is ... " while UK speakers say "Marvel are ..."

 

The upshot is that every time I read "DC are run by boring guys in suits" or "Marvel are run by monkeys" I'm reminded how wide-spread the Legion of Superfluous Heroes is, how much diversity we have, how much cultural exchange is going on ... and it makes me smile.

 

3) Years ago, the Frito Bandito was officially and publicly banished by Frito-Lay as an offensive cultural stereotype. I haven't heard anything to corroborate this, but it appears the same is true of any heavily-accented Mexican character, from Jose Jimenez to Speedy Gonzales to Baba Louie (in Quick-Draw McGraw). Whereas other offensive cultural stereotypes, such as Pepe LePew, seem to still be around. Anybody know?

 

4) In the current Avengers cartoon, the three-part season ender had the Assemblers banished to the nine realms of Norse mythology, whereupon they had to battle back to Asgard to confront Loki.

It's interesting to note that Captain America was in Niffleheim or Muspelheim or Hel (I've forgotten which, but it was one of the lands of the dead) where he met the shades of deceased Howling Commandos -- including JACK Fury, the African-American commander of the squad. In the comics, of course, Jack Fury was a World War ONE veteran, and Caucasian, while Nick was the WWII Howler, and, of course, also Caucasian. Evidently the concept of Nick Fury as an African-American has now made a third leap in the culture, from the Ultimate universe to the movies and now to the cartoons (and Fury's WWII connection has been severed). The problem, of course, is that the U.S. armed forces weren't integrated in World War II, and the idea of a black man commanding white troops was, AFAIK, impossible. I like a black Nick Fury just fine -- and who doesn't love Samuel L. M-Fin' Jackson -- but I don't like history being messed with.  We need to be aware of our mistakes, so we don't repeat them, and anachronisms like this bury the mistakes of our past. And the way America has historically treated its black sons and daughters is a Very Big Mistake that should not be, ahem, whitewashed.

Another interesting bit is that Tony Stark was marooned in whichever world the trolls live in ... you know, the trolls who forged Thor's Mjolnir and Odin's Gungnir. So, naturally, Stark and the trolls forged Uru, Asgardian, Iron Man armor! That was pretty cool ... and now I read that this bit is being repeated (nine-fold!) in 'Fear Itself.' Coincidence? Cross-pollination? The tail wagging the dog? I don't know, but it's interesting.

 

Those are some of the thoughts rattling around in my head on a lazy, hot Sunday. Now to go watch the Japan-U.S. match in the women's World Cup final. GOOOOOOOOALLLL!

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Figserello on May 29, 2012 at 1:12am

Niffleheim is still funny though...

Comment by Richard Willis on May 29, 2012 at 1:05am

On the Avengers Mightiest Heroes cartoon, I was of course aware of the retroactive history concerning an African-American leading the Howlers (Gabe Jones being in the group was almost as hard to believe). This cleaning-up of history bothers me too, but not as much as WWII being against Hydra INSTEAD OF the Axis. I guess they were afraid to show swastikas in a cartoon.

Comment by George on July 23, 2011 at 7:22pm

I wonder if the Indian and Chinese caricatures in 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" would pass muster today. One writer recently described that film as "casually racist."

 

In other words, it's all too faithful to the '30s pulps, comics and B movies that inspired it.

Comment by George on July 22, 2011 at 10:21pm

"What nonsense! We only date our sisters. We marry our cousins."

 

Right. That's the custom in Tennessee. I was flashing back to my years in Alabama.

Comment by Captain Comics on July 22, 2011 at 9:16pm
What nonsense! We only date our sisters. We marry our cousins.
Comment by George on July 22, 2011 at 8:16pm

"Whereas other offensive cultural stereotypes, such as Pepe LePew, seem to still be around. Anybody know?"

 

Maybe French-Americans don't have an effective lobbying organization for pressuring advertisers, TV networks, etc.

 

It's also OK in pop culture to depict white Southerners as toothless redneck racists who marry their sisters.

Comment by The Baron on July 20, 2011 at 10:57am

As far as Speedy Gonzales goes, he always seemed to me to be not the most offensive racial stereotype, as stereotypes go - he was smart, he was fast, and he always won. I've heard it said that many Mexicans found the character amusing - that could just be hearsay, of course, so I'm open to correction.

 

Regarding Pepe Le Pew - I tend to agree wit CK, Pepe always kind of creeped me out, even when I was a kid. Just another example of a kind of thing that once was found funny that isn't any more, I guess.

Comment by Captain Comics on July 18, 2011 at 5:08pm

Most of the nine worlds don't seem odd or funny to me, probably because I read about them so thoroughly in junior high. Niffleheim makes sense, because it translates to "kingdom of mists." Midgard makes sense, as it means middle kingdom, 'cause it's in the middle. Jotunheim means kingdom of giants, Alfheim (Elf kingdom) is pretty obvious, Swartalfheim is also obvious (Dark Elf Kingdom), Hel is pretty easy, Muspelheim means kingdom of fire/flames, Asgard is the Aesir Kingdom while Vanaheim is the Vanir kingdom. But for some reason, when I say them, I always forget one.

 

And the existence of Vanaheim -- a competing race of gods -- is one of the reasons anthropologists  believe all Caucasian races came from the same place, northern India. These Indo-Europeans (Caucasian is actually a misnomer, from when anthropologists believed all white people came from the Caucasas mountains area) had a basic mythological framework that we have seen repeated wherever there are white people, especially the big three -- Norse, Greco-Roman and Egyptian. That's why those three pantheons have so many direct parallels, it is believed. And one of the parallels is so odd that it virtually confirms the theory, which is that each has a competing race of gods to the "main" race, and that competing race always provides the god and goddess (there's always two) of the harvest. I don't remember the Egyptian pair, but in Greco-Roman it was Demeter and Dionysus, who preceded the Greco-Roman civilization (especially the "rape of Persephone" story, Demeter's daughter, which was known to the first peoples of Greece), and are occasionally referred to as "Minoan" as opposed to Greek. In Norse legend, Frey and Freyr were brother and sister and/or man and wife, and were Vanir who were exchanged for some Aesir as hostages, so that the two tribes of god would never war against each other.

 

Thus endeth today's lesson.

Comment by ClarkKent_DC on July 18, 2011 at 3:59pm
I can't watch Pepe LePew any more. My adult self sees only one thing: Stalker.
Comment by Doctor Hmmm? on July 18, 2011 at 2:56pm

Another interesting bit is that Tony Stark was marooned in whichever world the trolls live in ... you know, the trolls who forged Thor's Mjolnir and Odin's Gungnir. So, naturally, Stark and the trolls forged Uru, Asgardian, Iron Man armor! That was pretty cool ... and now I read that this bit is being repeated (nine-fold!) in 'Fear Itself.' Coincidence? Cross-pollination? The tail wagging the dog? I don't know, but it's interesting.

That was, indeed, pretty cool.  And (since we're speaking of cross-pollination) I thought those shots of T-shirted Tony hammering (HAH!) away at red-hot Uru were a pretty clear reference to similar shots from RD Jr's first movie.

And I'm pretty sure that Cap was in Niffleheim -- which I specifically noticed only because "Niffleheim" is a pretty funny word.

Also, I bet Pepe LePew is banned in Canada.

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