Comic Book TV

Comic book TV

I know I just talked about Smallville last week, but since it was recently announced that Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson have “The Graysons” in development, I felt the need to take a look at the subject of comic book TV in general.

Of course, the old Adventures of Superman show in the 1950s was great. I can’t say that I own the seasons or have spent oodles of time analyzing them, but the writers, and the actors, got it right in the context of the time frame in which they operated.

And then, we get the Batman series from the 1960s and the Wonder Woman show from the 1970s. Honestly, I’ve seen more of the Batman show than Wonder Woman. I think Adam West and Lynda Carter are still trying to recover from overdosing on campy television. We sure know their careers never recovered completely, though Adam West still takes advantage of his former status whenever he can.

I’m not even sure the Superboy series from the late 1980s deserves mention. The few episodes I watched didn’t hold up over time, simply because it looked like the production company was more interested in exploiting the big S more than it was interested in picking talented actors, coming up with good scripts, and making the effects look believable for the late 80s. The Flash was actually a good series, but it got absolutely no backing from CBS, who constantly was shuffling the show within the TV schedule and forbidding it from getting a good following. I will say that John Wesley Shipp doesn’t make a good Barry Allen to me though, and that the Flash costume looked more felt-like and snuggly than the sleek and vibrant red that I normally relate with the Flash.

This paragraph is dedicated to Birds of Prey and will last about as long as the show itself.

Most people remember Lois and Clark. Good show for the relationship aspect of those characters, but not so much when it came to the villains. I also believe that the producers let DC push them around too much when it came to what they could and couldn’t do on the show. Of course, DC made them put off the wedding, which turned out to be the one thing that was keeping the show interesting in the first place. Once they were married, there was a collective bye-bye wave to the romantic tension and therefore any purpose for the show.

I don’t think I need to talk too much about the success of Smallville. Say what you will about how much they’ve changed of the Superman mythology, but the show is on its eighth season and now finally starting to move Clark toward his destiny. The producers have made changed to his history, but none of them have been so drastic as to completely ruin the character and make him unrecognizable. If nothing else, the show is successful because it made the world aware of the awesomeness that is Tom Welling, who has proven to us that not only can he play a dopey Clark Kent, but he can be funny, play the bad guy, look really good without a shirt on, and direct multiple episodes of the show all without ending up on the front page of the tabloids.

I don’t want to make snap judgments about The Graysons yet, since the concept was just announced a couple weeks ago. However, I have to wonder what could be so compelling about a family of trapeze artists. I like the character of Dick Grayson, but I’m of the mindset that a series with him as the central character would work better if he was Nightwing. The failure of Aquaman was a BIG mistake by the CW network executives; I think everyone agrees on that point. There’s just something wrong when an unaired pilot is the most downloaded show on iTunes.

From the popularity of the Green Arrow on Smallville, I would think that the producers would build off the character and give Justin Hartley his own show already. Possibilities for supporting cast are already built in, with the likes of Black Canary, Roy Harper, Arthur Currie/Aquaman, Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Bart Allen/Impulse. And let’s not forget that Oliver is a bit of a ladies’ man at heart – he had a child he didn’t know about as well as cheated on Dinah a number of times before they finally tied the knot. The possibilities to add on to the Justice League are there, as well as guest appearances by Smallville cast members he has built relationships with during his stints on the show.

Regardless, Smallville surviving for eight seasons proves that there is a market for superhero shows on television. The question is whether or not they can be done convincingly and well. I hope so, because I hate writing one sentence paragraphs.

By Mandy Stegall

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if it works, take advantage of it.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if it works, take advantage of it.

Confession time.

For the first year or so of my comic book obsession, I was completely content with picking up trades and getting my fix that way. And then DC announced something that made me rethink my strategy—Chloe Sullivan was going to start appearing in the pages of Superman. Two days later I was a subscriber to Superman.

By now, we all know that Chloe won’t be appearing in Superman any time soon. And frankly, I’m okay with that considering the watered down version of Chloe that was going to be in the comic. Chloe Sullivan in the comics just doesn’t work, in my opinion, unless she’s chums with Clark. Her character is so clearly defined by her friendship with Clark that it wouldn’t be the same if their history wasn’t part of the continuity.

Say what you will about Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar, but they hit a home run with Chloe. The fact that DC purchased the rights to the character validates my claim. Why else would they do such a thing unless they knew she could be profitable in the future? But I know a way for Chloe to show up in the pages of Superman without messing with her character or her place in Clark Kent’s history.

Chloe Sullivan, meet the Multiverse.

It’s simple. Give the Smallville universe—the one where Chloe is Clark’s best friend, Lois knew Clark in high school, and Jimmy doesn’t like Clark all that much—a place in the DC Multiverse. Last time I checked, there were some Earths not accounted for, so I’m sure TPTB could find a place for all those wonderful versions of the Smallville characters. And when Chloe somehow finds her way to New Earth with the knowledge that Clark Kent is Superman, she can be the character that so many viewers have come to love on Smallville. She won’t have to be Lois’s much younger cousin with a love for journalism who has no kind of relationship with Clark whatsoever. Like I said, Chloe has been such a part of Clark’s life on Smallville that it would be a shame to let the aspects of the show that have worked to go to waste.

And who knows, if introducing the “real” Chloe to the DCU can work, then why couldn’t an ElseWorlds (or Multiverse) version of Smallville that picks up after the end of the TV show work as a comic book, much like what is being done with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly? I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that in its eighth season, the only original characters remaining on the show are Clark and Chloe, and Chloe isn’t even a character from the Superman mythology. For years people have been predicting when she would meet her untimely (or for some people, timely) end, but hasn’t her presence—and the excellent acting by Allison Mack—proven that Chloe Sullivan can have a place in the mythology without compromising what made her so popular in the first place?

By Mandy Stegall

My Comic Book Boyfriend

My comic book boyfriend

In all the DC Universe, there are plenty of characters of the male persuasion who could possibly compete for the title of “my comic book boyfriend.” Characters like Superman, Batman, Robin, and the Flash (Wally West). And while all of these characters would certainly be great (their significant others seem to think so), I like to walk a little more on the wild side by possibly gaining the ire of the one and only Wonder Woman.

Yes, I have it bad for Sir Thomas of Cleveland, aka Nemesis. Traditionalists of Wonder Woman comics probably severely dislike me now, citing the Steve Trevor factor and how he and Diana seemed destined to be together for so long. But he had to go off and marry Etta Candy instead, so that ship has sailed.

Enter Nemesis. I have to admit that his reintroduction into the DC Universe rubbed me the wrong way at first. The aversion lasted about five issues (I’m guessing here, as the first few arcs of the rebooted Wonder Woman title have only been read in trade) when Diana and Nemesis are in the carnival gift shop and he openly shows his fan boy love for Wonder Woman.

I’ve read some online about how the Wonder Woman version of Nemesis is different from the Brave and the Bold Nemesis from the 1980s. I ask this next question sincerely, because I honestly don’t know the answer. Was the 80s Nemesis really such a memorable character? My thought is that if he was, he would have been used more than he was, and there wouldn’t have been the need to do a makeover on him before resurrecting him from back issue hell.

Anyway, I digress. I think it was in issue #20 that we got a little glimpse into Sir Thomas’s head, where he talked about not feeling like he deserved Diana. He mentions that his life is all about deception, whereas Diana (though I think he is meaning Wonder Woman specifically, and not his partner, Diana) is the symbol of truth. It was that point that I really, really, really fell in love with Tom Tresser. Until that point, he was all about trying to be a tough guy and showing how he was “the man” in front of Diana (minus the point in time where he was dying from the killer hornets). But this one time, he was a vulnerable character with doubts and feelings. He felt the need to reconcile his past actions with the kind of person he needs to be for her. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a character trait I honestly don’t see much in comics.

And now, for one last question in regards to Nemesis: When he was bitten by the hornets toward the end of the “Love and Murder” story arc written by Jodi Picoult, he admits to Wonder Woman that he knows she and Diana Prince are one and the same. Now, however, Diana only appears in an affectionate manner as Wonder Woman. If he was aware of her being Wonder Woman, then why would she feel the need to only show up as Wonder Woman to him? Did something happen as he recovering from the hornet attack that made his conveniently forget that he knew this piece of information? I’ve searched all over trying to figure it out, but haven’t been able to find the answer. If you have any wonderful information to share, please email me at and share your knowledge.

Next time: What the comic book universe could learn from Smallville.

By Mandy Stegall

Closing the Door

Closing the Door

I’m going to come right out and admit it right now. Sometimes—okay, most of the time—my desire to see characters interacting with each other trumps my desire to see them bashing in the heads of the new baddie. Blame it on the fact that I’m a girl, I don’t care. I just happen to think that the human (well, most of the time it’s human) interaction says just as much about the character as what means they use to send the bad guy off the Penitentiary X.

Before I go any further, I should probably get all everything out in the open now. So, keep the following things in mind when reading what lies ahead:

I, by no means, claim to know the inner workings of the Kryptonian body.
I haven’t read Last Son in its entirety.
I know that All-Star Superman isn’t in continuity. That doesn’t mean I can’t wish and hope.
I have more than one Clark/Lois fan fiction to my credit. I refuse to let J. Michael Strayzinski anywhere close to my favorite comic book couple.
I hold fast to my belief that Jor-El is capable of being wrong.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me drop the main purpose of this rant on you, and I’ll be sure to get straight to the point. I read Action Comics Annual #11 and the piece of dialog that irked me the most was Jor-El telling Clark—once and for all—that he couldn’t have children with Lois biologically. From the moment I read that panel, I’ve been furiously thinking up ways to retcon that piece of now-continuity.

I have no doubt that there are two separate camps out there on this subject, whether they like to acknowledge their existence or not—those who would like to see Clark and Lois have the potentially super-powered child, and those who would not. Obviously, I belong to the “yes” group.

But why have Jor-El definitively tell Clark that it’s impossible? For years, whenever the mention of children comes up, a multitude of excuses have been used. Clark has always been concerned for Lois’s welfare, and that is a perfectly normal reaction considering how a half-Kryptonian child could mess with the human body. They’ve also discussed their jobs, both of them as journalists who constantly catch the eye of baddies as well as his other job as Superman, and how a child would change their lives. They’ve done fine on their own at coming up with excuses not to have children, but there has always been the undercurrent in the back of readers’ minds (sometimes so far back that many of them aren’t aware that it exists) that it is a possibility someday.

The cloning of Clark to create Conner Kent (Superboy) is proof that Kryptonian and human genes can be combined to form another living person—or has the Superboy/Superman lawsuit caused DC to completely forget everything in reference to continuity? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the human gene actually needed as a “stabilizer” in order for the cloning process to work in the first place? If that’s the case, then it would be possible for Kryptonian and human genes to combine to form another life. Frankly, I’m ashamed that DC has forgotten its own science.

In All-Star Superman, Supes is smart enough to replicate his own DNA so that he can give Lois a child before he dies. Yes, I know that the Continuity Police are barking at my door right now. I hope I’m not the only person who likes the smarter, more thoughtful Superman. I don’t know how he would fit in with the rest of the current continuity, but I’d still like for the writers to try. That Clark would take Jor-El’s words as a challenge to find a way to make it work, I think.

I have this sneaking suspicion, see, that Lois wants her own child more than she ever lets on. We don’t see or hear about it because she knows how Clark feels and that she would be fighting a losing battle. And when Chris came along, I think it only heightened her desire for a child. For the time he was with them, I think he showed Clark and Lois both what it would be like if they were parents. Not to say that Clark doesn’t want to have a child of his own as well, but I think he’s also had more time to process the possibility that fatherhood would never be in the cards for him. Even before Jor-El dropped the bomb, I think Clark had already decided—for Lois’ safety if nothing else—that Lois having a half-Kryptonian child would be too dangerous.

Last Son is on my reading list, for no other reason than I want to know more about the red sun watch that Chris wore to keep him from using his powers on a daily basis. Wouldn’t a red sun watch, with some adaptations, work in the opposite way to make a pregnancy safer for her?

I know, I know. I’m being a total girl and obsessing over the subject of a pregnancy that might very well never happen. The point I’m trying to make though, is that before the all powerful words of Jor-El, there was still a possibility—though a small one—that it could happen. I think back to That Healing Touch, by Greg Rucka and Geoff Johns, where Mr. Mxylptlk shows Clark what he could be missing out on by giving up on the possibility of having a child with Lois. The possible future that is shown, where Lois and Clark have a daughter named Lara Lane-Kent made me salivate in wanting a SuperDaughter, mostly because she was such a great mixture of her parents.

I beg of the DC editorial people to rethink their direction. Even if they don’t actually have a biological child, at least make an effort to establish the possibility once more. The perfect opportunity is coming up, especially now that Lois’s life is hanging in the balance and Clark is traveling far and wide to save her. Any small change to her physiology that enables her to live could also change her ability to conceive a child with Clark. What a surprise that would be, right after the end of the world that is certain to happen during Final Crisis.

By Mandy Stegall

I have the Question

Dr. Norge has Hawkman.

The Sensei has Robin.

I…well, I have The Question.

I figured my first order of business as a blog writer for Raging Bullets needed to be an introduction of sorts. But when it comes to introductions, I’m sure no one wants to be bored with my day job as an English teacher or my residence in an Illinois town best known for having a toilet factory until recently and home of the tallest totem pole east of the Mississippi River. The website is about comic books, after all.

My secret origin in the world of comic books comes from being a devout viewer of Smallville. While perusing the Smallville fansite Kryptonsite (, I kept seeing references to a Superman comic book that told a modernized origin of the Man of Steel, much like what was being told on Smallville. That would was entitled Birthright, and because I’m a nerd and inherently curious, I sought out the book. Perhaps because I already had a good deal of knowledge about Superman (I vaguely remembered hearing about his death in the 90s), he quickly became my go-to character and I started to seek out more stories about the Big Blue Boy Scout. I searched high and low, many times finding books on eBay so that I could feed this new passion.

And then, I picked up a hardcover book called Infinite Crisis. My comic book reading up to this point was completely made up of Superman trades, and much of what was included in the book confused me because of all the history involved. Once again, I was curious and started to seek out books that would help fill in the gaps. I wasn’t always able to get what I needed because of budget constraints, so I sometimes had to rely on the Internet to satisfy my curiosity.

So how did I go from Superman freak to The Question? It was the 52, Volume One. I had absolutely no idea who Renee Montoya was when I started reading the book. Come to think of it, I didn’t know who many of the characters in the book were, or what significance they had to the DC Universe. As I kept reading my way through 52, she quickly became my favorite character in the series. And when she made her first appearance as The Question, I jumped for joy.

The allure of Renee as The Question for me is that she got her start as a hero at the same time that I was lunging headlong into comic books. She was a character that, as a hero, I could essentially follow from the beginning. I have, of course, since gone back and read all her previous appearances—Gotham Central: Half a Life comes to mind immediately. I know there’s still much more to read, and I’m slowly getting there.

I have since expanded my horizons. My pull list is evolving every month, and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m up to date with what’s going on in the DC Universe. But I don’t for one second think that I’m any kind of expert. This blog is going to be a learning experience for me, and I’m sure everyone will find holes at one time or another. So if you have something to recommend, let me know. I’ll do my best to give it a try and let you know what I think. One thing I don’t want to do is limit myself to a specific topic with this blog. Sean and Jim have been nice enough to let me have an outlet for my curiosity here, so I invite them to hand out suggestions (or editorial mandates) whenever they wish.

By Mandy Stegall


Hi everyone. I’m Mandy (supermandy on the forums, though I don’t make it over there very often), the author of Life in the Gutter. I live in west central Illinois and work as a high school English teacher and student newspaper advisor as my day job. My love affair with comics is only about a year and a half old, and I only started buying monthlies in the last few months. But I have an addictive personality, so I tend to search for all possible information on a subject once I’m interested.

Life in the Gutter is simply my way of telling everyone my view of comic books, as it’s probably much different from those of you who have been reading for many years. I’ll give my opinion, and you can certainly tell me whether or not you agree; I won’t hold it against you. Comments can be sent to me at