Currently Reading and Enjoying….Damage!

So DC Comcs launched a new set of comics following their last big crossover event called Dark Metal. Well it was Batman driven and I’m not a big fan of the Dark Knight, but a new initiative introducing new characters and their various series spun out of it. My favorite of these is Damage.

The story and gimmick of Damage is a super soldier turned monster. I know it’s borrowed heavy from Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. The series throws a gimmick that Ethan Avery, the soldier that became Damage, can only become him for one hour every 24 hours. As the action unfolds through the comic we get a counter in panel.

Avery and Damage are portrayed as two separate consciousnesses that can communicate with each other. The dynamic has unfolded since issue one and develops more each issue. The action in the series really sets it apart from everything else. The action and pacing is fantastic and a big drawl. In just 7 issues Damage has taken down the Suicide Squad, fought Wonder Woman and had a huge fight in New Orleans with Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing.

The hero initiative began by DC Comics back in the early Spring of this year hasn’t fared particularly well sales numbers wise. The Immortal Men has already been marked for cancellation. I don’t feel DC has particularly advertised the line very well and has lacked overall support. Damage sold 17,000 plus copies in June, not setting the world on fire but the ax hasn’t swung yet. Hopefully positive word of mouth will get more people to give the series a try, I really like it. It’s the only series I’m up to date on at this point.

Well have a great weekend and stick with Mid American Culture for fresh content daily.

Farewell Steve Ditko

Hello everyone, it was discovered by the world at large yesterday that comic icon Steve Ditko has passed away. Ditko left his mark on the world as the co-creator of Marvel Comics Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. He designed both characters and came up with the rogues gallery for much of Spidey’s main villians including Green Goblin, the Lizard, and Doctor Strange’s Dormammu.

He drew the Amazing Spider-Man for 6 years and left over a falling out with Stan Lee.

He went to Carlton Comics where his main contribution was the Blue Beetle and the Question who would be a major influence on Alan Moore when he created Rorschach of the Watchman.

Ditko would work a bit for DC Comics in the 1980s before comic back to Marvel in the 90’s and creating Squirrel-Girl.

Ditko was a famous recluse compared to author JD Salinger. He continued working and self publishing up until his death. He was also an avid blogger. He will be greatly missed, but his creations will live on forever. Thanks for the work and effort Mr. Ditko

A Bat-Alternate to God Level Batman.

Hello friends! I’m back with more geeky goodness and today I want to make the case for Batgirl, the Barbara Gordon one being a more enjoyable character the Batman, the Bruce Wayne one. DC Comics, a subsidy of Warner Bros., which I guess is also a subsidy of AT&T now loves Batman. Loves him! Lives for him! He’s in like 113 fucking books a month. He’s getting married, he’s in space, he’s fighting the joker, I think he might also be the Joker. His comic activity is padded with some feature films and dozens of cartoons. Plus he sells lots of t-shirts and bookbags, and what about car stickers? Tons of car stickers because everyone with a black mustang assumes it’s the Batmobile.

However to me Batman is boring. People complain that Superman is overpowered. They aren’t even talking about Golden Age Superman who could move planets. They just mean the modern one that can catch a plane or stop a tank is overpowered. Everyone loves Batman because he’s “just a human” or “he’s like us.” How do you figure? He may have started out as a guy who was Sherlock Holmes with bat ears, but now he has the ability to take down gods. He has defeated Darkseid, Superman, and even the freaking Predator.

It’s ridiculous but DC has made Batman their icon. I mean he should be an icon and obviously is, but I’m in the minority when I tell you the character is boring and totally unrelatable. People complain about Superman? An all powerful alien? Well yeah raised by working stiffs Jon and Martha Kent. Plus Superman earns a living working for a major newspaper, which is kinda hard to believe in 2018, but you get the point. Batman is a know it all billionaire that has the most bad ass weapons of all time and can’t be stopped by anything. At least Supes had kryptonite.

You know a Bat character that rocks? It’s Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

She’s a icon in her own right. She was a mainstay of the DC Universe before a bullet shattered her backbone in the 1980’s. Barbara would for years work behind the scenes from her wheel chair as the Oracle guiding Gotham’s heroes. Best I can figure Barbara was confined to a wheelchair for 3 years in her time but in our world a generation grew up with the Oracle not Batgirl as their hero.

Batman famously had his back broken in the 1993 story Knightfall. Steroidal villian Bane just snapped his back over his knee.

Both Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon would eventually regain the use of their legs Bruce took about 4 months and was healed by a extra energy fallout from his kinda girlfriend/traveling doctor Shonda Kinsolving. Extra telekinetic energy. WTF ever.

As I already mentioned Barbara would be wheelchair bound for around 3 years and would have nanobot surgery in South Africa after volunteering for the risky procedure.

Barbara just seemed to earn hers more than Bruce, which is essentially my whole point. Batman can do anything, have anything, and take down anyone.

Batgirl is written like a Silver Age Marvel character mainly in the sense that they could exist in the real world.

While Batman is hanging in his giant underground layer or on the fucking moon, Barbara is attending college and actually shown to be learning things, at her apartment with a roommate, or maybe just a coffee shop like real folks do. She even has to deal with gentrification when her favorite coffee shop is bought out.

Im just saying Batman is probably the most popular comic book character on the planet and I think Batgirl is better. Maybe I’m wrong and feel free to let me know on the comments below or on Twitter @M_American_ or @mikeburns77.

I know Bruce.

I Guess he’s back, back again.

Good morning everyone. Marvel Comics decided to kill off Wolverine, the mighty mutant Canuck nearly 5 years ago. He died in a series apptly named The Death of Wolverine. Just so everyone knew what was coming.

Wolverine was a very popular character for decades. He was the crop of characters that joined the X-Men in the late 1970’s. He had previously been introduced fighting the Incredible Hulk over in his book.

Wolverine would spend the 80’s and 90’s growing into one of Comics most popular characters selling with the likes of Spider-Man, Batman, and the Fantastic Four.

Wolverine or Logan as he was known to his friends, was a killing machine that was impossible to kill. He would end up with a heart of gold though and would take the scared, new mutant kids under his wing and teach them the way of the Samurai and stuff.

Bad thing was, Wolverine was so popular it became a running joke about how in the hell he could appear in 7 x-men books, his own book, a one shot special and make a guest appearances in Daredevil all in the same month?

The biggest blow to good ole Logan would be the inevitable washing away of what made him cool in the first place. Wolverine was really a man of mystery set to fits of bezerker rage. He didn’t know who he was or where he came from.

Marvel would eventually throw all that out the door. He even gave up his iconic cigars. I mean it’s cool if YOU smoke Logan, you have a mutant healing factor! No, Marvel would take away all the mystery in 2 mini series called Origin.

Origin would take away all the mystery from the story. Who he was, which was apparently a rich land owner’s son. It just stole the mystique of the character and he couldn’t go back. So while Origin sold very well, it would only go down hill. Because when he was an unstoppable weapon of death he still had no idea about himself. He constantly battled his demons and wether or not he was a man or an animal. Now he was no more complex a character than any one else. James Howlett was his real name, and he was actually an heir to a rich family name and was nigh invulnerable. Essentially Batman and Superman mashed together.

No one was interested in this. They made him a head master at the Xavier school. Now Wolverine was a teacher. They had him and Storm date post her divorce from the Black Panther. He would lose his healing factor. Then get a super suit. No one cared. Let’s just kill him off.

So he died.

He was still around though. Hugh Jackman was ever present on screen. During the Secret Wars story line a alternate universe Old Man Logan would be brought to the main stream. The Ultimate Universe Logan had a son named Jimmy Hudson who would show up in X-Men Blue, and normal universe Daken would be around on drugs and fighting Moon Knight. Plus, you had the next gen Wolvie, Laura Kinney. Laura was a clone of Logan who had a messed up story and lots of doubt about who she was, coupled with “are clones even real people” syndrome that most fictional clones seem to have.

She would step up to fill Logan’s blue boots. It would be pretty awesome. They would take all the good and cool of the legend of Wolverine and not give it all away. Plus little girls could pull the claws now and ask random bubs what was up? Oh and plus Honey Badger! She’s a clone of Laura and she’s just a kid but tons of fun.

Well, like all things in comicdom, James Howlett AKA Logan AKA Wolverine is coming back. Something about a damn infinity stone because there’s a Marvel Movie about Infinity Stones so we gotta cram that into the comic pages. With Logan’s return, they have kicked Laura out of her All-New Wolverine costume and back to her X-23 belly shirt. It’s kinda sad. She had grown a lot as a character in the last four years.

Have a great week everyone and like always Make Mine Mid-American-Culture!

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 2.

Happy Saturday to you all and thanks for checking out Mid-American-Culture. Today I’m gonna pick up from last week but first a correction, I falsely stated that Mark Bagley designed the Scarlet Spider outfit and a reader pointed out that it was actually Tom Lyle.

We left things last time with Ben dying at the hands of Norman Osborne, impaled on the Goblin Glider saving Peter Parker’s life. He aslo turned to dust showing that he was a clone after all.

So Peter and M.J. lose their baby and the comics try and move past the last 2 years of publication. It sucked to just see the whole thing disappear as if it never happened. I kept reading Spidey though because he was my character, and I’d always read him.

However Tom Defalco would soon launch an alternative future series called Spider-Girl and it would be the high school age daughter of Spider-Man, and guess what? She wore Ben Reilly’s Spidey costume and even referred to him as Uncle Ben.

This would be the first of many Ben teases Marvel would throw at us Clone Saga fans. Defalco would also introduce Ben’s own son Reilly Tyne, who with the help of the other clone Kaine, would become Dark Devil.l, a Ghost Rider/ Daredevil mashup. He was a pretty damn cool character that I would have enjoyed more of.

Now in this same series, that is essentially a part 2 to the world of the Clone Saga, eventually The Black Cat’s daughter shows up as a new Scarlet Spider and Peter shares a touching story with May about her Uncle Ben.

Its like Marvel wants to get away from the 90’s but also embrace them. Haha

Eventually, Tom Defalco would get Marvel to try a Clone Saga again, as it was originally intended, a short 6 month story and Ben survives through the end and sets out on his own. Sadly, it didn’t sell well and again forgotten after the initial 6 issues.

Im gonna leave you here at the end of the Spider-Girl era and post Clone Saga 2, but come back next week for the return of the Scarlet Spider and his own series! Have a great week.

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 1.

It’s funny how you get to a certain age and for a brief moment you can hyper identify with music and literature, film and heroes real and fictional. At around 18 your life is changing and a person looks to make their own way in the world. For some it’s a journey of figuring out who you are and who you wanna be.

I have always been a massive comic book geek. I lived for the first 7-8 years of my life in a trailer park in Proctorville, Ohio. The trailer park was just off of State Route 7 and ran along the Ohio River. Well across the main drag of my trailer park was a little mom and pop convenience store called Holderby’s. I used to go to this store a lot with my folks and the deal was always that if I was good, which I always was, I’d get a quarter for the Ms. Pac-Man standup and a comic from the spinner rack. The time period here is the early 1980’s and Spider-Man was hands down my favorite character, still is for the most part.

After my folks had returned their soda bottles for change and I had fallen to the 4 bit ghost of the arcade game, we’d return home and just before bed one of my parents would read me my fresh new comic as a bed time story and show me the art as the story went along. Soon I’d fall asleep to dream about what is certainly Stan Lee’s most famous creation, Spidey and his friends.

Eventually when I was nearing the end of my High School years in the mid 90’s Marvel drops a bomb shell on it’s readers. The Peter Parker/ Spider-Man we’d been reading for years may not be the real thing. A clone of Parker’s created by his college professor, Miles Warren had returned.

The 1990’s was the most gimmicky time in the history of comics. All the heroes were either being killed off or changing into grimacing anti-heroes. Superman died, Batman had his back broken, Green Lantern was evil and called all the GL corps. Tony Stark was an evil teenage version of himself. Plus all the cover were holograms and bagged.

The gimmick was that a throw away clone character, who supposedly died at the end of a story in the 1970’s was actually alive and back in New York and he’d crossed paths with the original.

The Peter Parker clone would take the name Ben Reilly. Ben from Peter’s uncle, the Power and Responsibility, one and Reilly was Aunt May’s maiden name. After being back in NYC for a bit in a story called The Exile Returns Ben decides he’s gonna stay, he’d been living on the road for years always on the move. Partially because he didn’t feel like he was a real person and didn’t belong. There was also the fact that another failed Parker clone named Kaine was out to kill him. Comics right?

So Ben adopts the alias of the Scarlet Spider. It was a totally throw away costume designed by comics legend Mark Bagley. The outfit was made up of a plain red Spidey type outfit with a blue hoodie he bought at zoo gift shop. I gathered he felt like a cheap knock off so why not go with it?

So now the Scarlet Spider is making a place for himself in the world. This goes back to my original point. I was 16-17 at the time and I strongly identified with the character, I too was ready to go out into the world and find my own place. Plus Ben was super poor and worked in a coffee shop. I didn’t have a lot either and worked in a grocery store.

Well as it turned out the character was I initially super popular. He had beaten Venom, which Spider-Man never had. People really liked the character, and Marvel really liked money. So, it all gets amped up and the slide to Hell begins. Marvel gets the idea that maybe Been was the real Spider-Man the whole time! So in a story designed to last 6 months, we get drug out for over a year. The Peter we’ve followed for 20 years is married to M.J. Watson and he’s going insane or something. All to comfort the blow of the rug being pulled out from the feet of long time readers.

When Ben is revealed to by the real Spidey, comic fans lose their minds. It’s hate mail and boycotts. This was Marvel Pre- Disney ownership and money was a worry in the late 90’s. So marvel has to reverse course after a year of Ben as Spidey and Peter and M.J. off having a baby in Portland, Oregon.

The best way the editors decided was to bring back ole Norman Osborne, the original Green Goblin. He’d also been dead for quite some time. However the whole Clone Saga was simply a big gotcha to Peter.

The entire year plus story line known forever as The Clone Saga, would be wrapped up in 4 issues spread out over one month. The story was called Revaltions.

Marvel needed their corporate icon back to normal and it was deemed that Ben was out. All the way. 💀

Ben would die saving Peter from Norman’s Goblin Glider. He’d die thinking he was the real deal. It was sad.

It was also here that Pete and M.J. would lose the baby or it was kidnapped or something. It was all retconned away later any how. From here Ben Reilly would be forgotten for about 5 years then he was teased repeatedly for another decade plus. However we will get to that next Saturday in The Miseducation of Ben Reilly part 2. Thanks for reading and have a great week.