Dream Team

With IDW, Dynamite, and BOOM!, and others buying up properties and converting them into comics, this installment is going to be a series of suggestions: properties that should be comics. So strap yourself into your bathtub for a taste of adventure.

1. Dolemite – the solar system became a spiritually poorer place when Rudy Ray Moore passed away last year. Jesse and I had the chance to meet him at the world premier of “Dolemite 2000.” I shook his hand, but was too awed to say anything coherent. In honor of that we begin with what would be an ideal property to revive: Dolemite. Pimps and ho’s are in style, and no one is pimpier than Dolemite. Whether he is rolling down a hill butt-naked to escape a girl’s father/ sheriff, tussling with Mean Willie Green, or spreading the word at his club The Total Experience, Dolemite is a force of nature.  In an ideal world, Moore would co-plot and write the dialogue. Unfortunately, dead means dead. So, let’s say Bendis and ODB co-ploting with the majority of the dialogue supplied by ODB. Why Bendis? Let’s face it, his Luke Cage revamp in Alias is the closest we’ve come to cloning Dolemite. Why Ol’ Dirty Bastard? Really…do you have to ask? The art chores are a tough call…I don’t know…Rob Liefeld? (ADDENDUM: Jesse points out that ODB is dead also. His suggestion of RZA is a good substitute.)

2. Milo and Otis – In the last few years, we’ve seen a resurgence of animal books. Owly and Corgi spring to mind immediately. These are cute books where animals do cute things and philosophize cutely. Imagine a James Kochalka written and drawn book. Checkout Monkey vs. Robot or Pinky and Stinky; your life will be better for it. Kochalka knows this realm of cute surreality. Besides, Milo and Otis having cute adventures is something we need more of in this life. ‘Nuff said.

3. They Might be Giants – Comics and popular music often intermingle. Think of the glorious Kid ‘n Play that Marvel published back in the ’90’s. Not to mention the many bio-books that have covered everyone from K.I.S.S. to New Kids on the Block. The world of John Flansburgh and John Linnell is ideal for comic book treatment. A blend of action/adventure and funny book, this book would be best drawn by Michael Kupperman (of Snake ‘n Bacon and Tales Designed to Thrizzle fame). A close second would be Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis on script with Kevin MacGuire on art.

4. Anything from the minds of Sid and Marty Kroft. I have what some would call an unnatural love of H.R. Puffinstuff, and with “Land of the Lost” bringing exposure to the Kroft brothers, it’s a crime that there aren’t associated books. Only one of three people could do justice to the catalogue of Kroftian craziness: Tony Millionaire, Peter Bagge, or Michael Kupperman. These guys know crazy shit.

That’ll wrap up another session of the Dream Team. What properties would you like to see turned into comic books? Who would you have working on them? What are some of your dream teams in general? Feel free to post in the comments section.

Badassery

Sometimes you find Awesomeness in the places you least expect.  If there’s anything else I turn to comics for, it’s finding bits of pure  bliss that you can’t get anywhere else.  It doesn’t always come in the same form; they’re all Awesome, but Michael Kupperman is different from Silver Age Batman is different from Ghost Rider.

Yeah, I said it: Ghost Rider.  Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, all that. You’d think a guy who made a deal with the Devil (excuse me, MEPHISTO) and rides a motorcycle around with a flaming skull would be Awesome by default, but it’s more hit or miss than you might think. Having just finished reading all the way through the latest volume, it’s definite proof that Ol’ Flamehead can go both ways.

Let me get the bad out of the way first: the initial 19 issues are terrible.  There’s solid art by Mark Texiera, who I (and apparently MANY others) consider to be THE Ghost Rider artist, but the story is straight out of “13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo,” wherein our hero must recapture escaped souls and send them back to Hell, a story so generic and dull that the writer skipped through about 90% of them and jumped straight to the big (anti-) climax.

Once issue 20 rolls up, though, that ALLLL changes (minor Awesome SPOILERS are ahead, but probably none for real plot).  When Jason Aaron takes over, the entire tone (right down to the lettercol) gets darker, more epic and  much funnier.  This is the Ghost Rider book I expected Garth Ennis to write!

We start off with psycho cycle nurses, throw in some cannibal disfigurements, a prison story, and The Orb, then wind up with a war in Heaven, kung-fu nuns, U.S. 1 villains and the Ghost Riders of the future.  Oh, and did I mention there’s also a couple guys with flaming skulls riding motorcycles around???

On paper, none of it should work.  Establishing a lineage of Ghost Riders out of nowhere screams out as hackery to me (as  seen in the movie).  Wars in Heaven have been done to death.  The “everything you know is wrong!” conceit is usually when you know that the idea well has run dry.  And yet here it all makes sense and — most  importantly — is fun.

I’ve read a few Johnny Blaze stories, but Ghost Rider in the 70’s never really seemed to know if he was a monster or a superhero (The Champions?  Really?).  I got most of my exposure to GR through the first couple years of the 90’s Danny Ketch series, though I completely missed out on the Noble Kale/Vengeance/family relation business. Aaron weaves all of this together so well…I’ll just say it: He’s the Geoff Johns of Ghost Rider.  Without necessarily being beholden to previous continuity, he definitely knows it and incorporates more than he has to in order to keep the diehard fans happy without (and this is the most important part) losing the casual readers like me.

You know those captions where Stan Lee used to tell you the image was so awesome that it would speak for itself and he wasn't going to say anything?  That's what I'm doing here.If there’s anything that showcases how good this run is, it’s issue #31, part of Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance.  After explaining how it’s ridiculous that God would only send His spirits to America and OF COURSE other countries would have Ghost Riders, we get one of the top 10 splash pages of all time: Spirits of Vengenance Through the Ages.

Russian Ghost Rider on a bear?  Check.  Shiva GR on a flaming elephant?  Absolutely.  Dog Sled Ghost rider?  Naturally!  Ghost Rider on a shark?  Fuck Yeah! I don’t care how his flame works underwater, I just need to read more about the adventures of Shark Rider (and thankfully the responses on the letter page show I’m not alone).

Volume 7 of Ghost Rider never really concluded, it’s wrapping up in the pages of Ghost Rider: Heaven’s On Fire and then that’s it for Jason Aaron on Ghost Rider, at least for now.   But the sheer Awesomeness of his run there will keep me checking out his work on Wolverine and Punisher.  I can’t wait: assuming this was no fluke, I see him putting out some company owned books for a while to build a name for himself, and then we’re going to get a career-defining book out of him.  His Preacher*, to make another comparison to Garth Ennis.

Awesome.

* Assuming I didn’t just “predict the obvious” because it’s already out and called Scalped.