Monday, September 26, 2005

Looking To The Stars: Denied!

To my beloved readers:

My apologies for not having a column this week. Having spent the week insuring my family and friends in South Texas had a place to come in the event of Hurricane Rita hitting them, I’ve had little time to write.

Please return next week when, barring any more unforeseen events, I will have much comicy goodness for you to read about.

Best wishes,
“Starman” Matt Morrison

Monday, September 19, 2005


The following pages were sent to us by a source who would identify themselves only as “Nancy”. If accurate, the text that follows are pages taken from the upcoming All-Star Batman and Robin #3. We are very excited to bring this exclusive preview to you, our beloved readers, and hope you will enjoy what we present here.

Episode 3

FROM: Miller, F
TO Lee, J

Hey Jim

Let me say once again what a pleasure it is to be working with an artist of your caliber. I know it may be empty prose and many a critic has said, but I really do think we’re going to be the true Dynamic Duo on this book.

As I write this, we just got the projected sales figures on the Sin City DVD, so I’m feeling pretty hyped right now. Despite all the energy I have right now, what I’ve written here is a little bit more sedate. But even though this a little more low-energy than the first two, but I think you’ll be able to pull this off magnificently.

As always, call if you have any questions or thoughts. I think my notes are vague enough to allow you some creativity, but specific enough to explain the pictures in my head. I’ve limited the panel numbers when possible, but have indicated which pages are splashes and which aren’t.



Batman (V/O): Walk down the right back alley in Gotham City, and you can find anything…



Batman (V/O): The night’s as hot as hell. It’s a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town – I’m staring at a goddess. She’s telling me she wants me. I’m not going to waste one more minute wondering how I’ve gotten this lucky. She smells like catnip and squeaky toys, the perfect woman… the Goddess. Selina. She says her name is Selina.


Selina: Rough night?

Batman: I had to fight some cops.

Selina: Oh, that’s lovely. You didn’t happen to kill any of them, did you?

Batman: Nah, I don’t think so, but they know they been in a fight, that’s for sure.



Batman: I’m looking for Barbara Gordon?

Waitress: Eyes to the stage, pilgrim. She’s just warming up.


Batman (V/O): Skinny Barbara Gordon. She grew up. She filled out.



Batman: It’s time to prove that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying, sometimes it means killing a whole lot of people.



Batman (V/O): I love corrupt cops. No matter what you do to them, you don’t feel bad.




ROB: See, Don? It’s right through me.. Nuke me radical! Is Nasty!

DON: Hope Rob don’t say balls nasty.

ROB: Balls nasty!

DON: Eye it, leader! Something wrapped around it. Some kind of pipe.

HARVEY: Give it to me.

ROB: Don, this nuked me radical! Just look at it. It’s right through me, Don!

HARVEY: [reading the note] Batman, you fool.

ROB: Don, maybe somebody get pipe to medic for me or something? Can’t close the lines on this one, Don!

HARVEY: Out back. Everyone. Bring the women.

ROB: Don?



Batman (V/O): What if I’m wrong? I’ve got a condition. I get confused sometimes. What if I’ve imagined all this? What if I’ve finally turned into what they’ve always said I would turn into? A maniac. A psycho killer.



Looking To The Stars is a critique/satire published by, and is not intended maliciously. has invented all names, words and situations in its stories, except in cases when public figures and fictional works are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody (permitted under Hustler Magazine v. Fallwell, 485 US 46, 108 S.Ct 876, 99 L.Ed.2d 41 (1988)). makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the preceding information.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Looking To The Stars: A List of Grievances

First things first; if you missed last week’s column regarding the whole Katrina situation, read it now! Just because a week has passed and I’m finally taking some time to *GASP* write about comics doesn’t mean you get a pass on trying to do something. Hell, go out and do something for SOME good cause. Be a hero yourself in a small way instead of just reading about them.

Now, with all apologies to George Carlin, here is a list of some things and people in the comic book industry and comic book fandom that are just plain pissing me off!

First thing I could easily do without; the adults-only crowd. We need to get rid of every writer, artist and marketing executive hoo-hah that insist that it is a waste of time and effort to try and market comic books to kids anymore. There is a market out there. Trust me; I have seen too many kids who watched Spider-Man 2 over and over and over, have a Fantastic Four T-shirt or dress up as Batman at Halloween to believe that there is no market out there for safe but enjoyable comics written for younger readers.

Which leads to me to something I’ve written about in depth once before; let’s have a few more books like The Stardust Kid, The Thief of Always and Gus Beezer and a few less books like Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. You wonder why kids don’t want to read all the comics you make for kids? It’s because most of them suck! Get Stan Lee to come back and write a Spider-Man title instead of publishing some half-assed, third-rate rip-off of his best works. Get someone to help punch up the dialogue if you MUST have cool modern slang but let that man spin the plots if nothing else.

And we could easily do without the comic fans who complain about kids in their store. Yes, it happens. I had one customer ask me once why we had the Hentai Manga sealed up and declare, after I explained it was to keep children from reading it accidentally, “What are you doing letting children into a comic book store?” Sadly, he was being serious.

So if the presence of children bothers you that much, come in the middle of the day while the kids are still in school or during the middle of the week when they are less likely to come in. Or use a mail-order comic service. Your need for creepy Japanese tentacle porn does not exceed the rights of all the parents out there.

And while we’re on the subject of parents and protecting the children… let me say a few words about clueless parents who don’t do their jobs.

My comic shop goes through a lot of effort to make sure that books that aren’t for children stay out of their hands. We put them up on high shelves. We seal up the particularly nasty issues in laminated bags. One of the higher-ups reads through all the preview comics and makes a list of which new titles should be kept out of reach. And all the employees are expected to keep track of this kind of thing and inform parents when they are about to get their kids something inappropriate. A lot of comic shops use the same or similar safe guards.

So it really chafes me when I have someone come in with their five-year-old and then proceed to buy 20 bucks worth of Spawn comics and I tell them that it’s probably not appropriate for them and they start screaming about how they have the right to decide what their children read. Well, you know what? I have the right to cover my ass and say that you were warned before Timmy becomes a chronic bed-wetter and you decide it would be a really great idea to sue me for selling you the evil comic book that scared him so bad. So pardon me for trying to protect your children from things they probably aren’t ready to deal with. Maybe if you did your job as a parent, I wouldn’t have to.

But let’s not forget the flip-side on this. The over-protective nuts. The people like the woman who complained to me at length, using some most unfriendly words, about how Betty and Veronica’s bikinis made them look like “sluts”. These were not thong bikinis or something like that; just regular, full-bottomed two-piece swimsuits.

You know, Betty and Veronica have been drawn rather sexily and scantily for some time now and apart from sparking several disturbing drunken bar talks about which fictional characters a group of friends would like to fornicate with (I was always partial to Cheryl Blossom myself), I don’t think that a drawing of a girl in a bikini does anyone any harm. Well, unless a guy stares at it while trying to drive and has a car wreck… but that’s besides the point.

And while we’re on the subject of parenting, here are a few more folks we could do without…

Every parent who brings their children into a comic store and devotes all their time to trying to get a bored son to pick out something to read, while discouraging their daughter who is looking at everything, saying that it is “boys stuff”. I say “parent” instead of father because I’ve actually seen mothers do this too! And people wonder why there are so many girls who fail to get into reading at a young age.

Every parent who, while getting their own comics, discourages their children’s curiosity over something they enjoy and tells them “not to touch” the comics for any reason other than “your hands are dirty” or “that book isn’t good for you”.

In fact, let’s go one step further and call out every parent who comes in looking for an “investment” for their children. God forbid your kids should actually be reading the comics.

There’s another thing that’s been annoying me; comics as an investment. Is anyone besides the publishers and a few of the middle-men comic shops actually making money off of the special edition variant covers? I don’t think so! Aside from inflating order numbers and providing work to artists who lack the drive or ability to do a monthly title, what purpose do they serve?

And whatever marketing weasel came up with the idea of alternate-cover hard-cover collections (like with the upcoming Identity Crisis HC) should be strung up by the ankles and lashed with a rolled-up copy of X-Men #1.

Is it safe to say that we’re all sick of overly-hyped, disappointing mega-crossover events with book tie-ins that really have no connection to the mega-crossover? Just checking.

But enough generalities. Here’s a few more specific examples of people I can do without.

* Judd Winick fans complaining about nobody else following Judd Winick’s continuity – you lost whatever sympathy I may have had for Devin Grayson ignoring what Judd was doing in Outsiders and Batman had you shown me any when I said “You know, Black Lightning would never use his powers to kill,” and wrote me off as an old-school Silver Age shill who was trapped in the past.

* Brian Michael Bendis fans complaining about some of the House of M titles not working with his “grand vision”. Blame Marvel’s editors for screwing the pooch; not me for being the one to point out that the story timelines don’t match up.

* Everyone who is going to purchase the reported deluxe HC of Frank Cho’s Shanna The She Devil with the original nude artwork restored. You can find pictures of real bare-naked women for free with a simple Google search; be thrifty AND less creepy!

* People who complain about how Writer A can’t make a deadline but then excuse away Writer B, who also can’t make a deadline, but is a much bigger jerk about it. (I don’t need to name names. You’ll all just fill in the blanks anyway. ;))

And finally everyone who has a negative opinion but doesn’t bother to listen to the other guy’s point of view? Forget them.

Speaking of which, if anyone out there has any comments or has issue with something I said, my e-mail is always open.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Looking To The Stars: More Important Than Comics

Last week, I asked everyone for your thoughts on whether or not I should publish a list of things that were making me angry about the comic book industry and comic fandom right now. The unanimous response from all the e-mail I received was that those of you reading this like my work no matter what the tone and subject matter. Everyone who wrote in wanted to see my list.

And you will. Eventually.

This week though…I have just one thing bothering me about comics fandom; all the people who have nothing better to do right now than sit on their ass complaining about comics when there are more important issues to worry about! Yes, I’m talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. So here, in no particular order, is a list of people and things in the current situation that are annoying the piss out of me.


This covers a LOT of ground on both sides of the political fence. There are too many people who are trying to blame the slow response time and lack of organization concerning disaster relief on one political affiliation or the other. Right now, it does not matter that the Mayor of New Orleans is a Democrat. It does not matter that the President is a Republican. It doesn’t even matter at this point when the States asked the Feds for help.

What matters is that there are a lot of people in danger of dying from disease and famine and trying to assign blame for why things are so bad is not doing a damn thing to help them. So to every politician, reporter and jerk in a chatroom with too much free-time on their hands; get off your ass and do something to help!


This goes along with #1. While it doesn’t do us any good at this time to start playing the Blame Game, that doesn’t mean we can ignore the fact that things are being badly mismanaged at the Federal level. Naming names helps no one, but failing to keep an eye out for people exploiting the disaster hurts everyone.

Would you wait until after the surgery was over to point out that the doctor was cutting off the wrong leg? Of course not! You’d say something while it was still possible to fix things before they got worse. That’s why I have lost all patience with the people who are pleading against blame-shifting purely as a means of protecting whatever interests they think will be endangered by people trying to think about how things got this bad. The most common excuse against this is because it’s Un-American.

Case in point: while we knew this disaster would cause gasoline prices to go up, the jump started BEFORE the oil supplies along the Gulf Coast were trashed. It seems probable that some of the oil companies are gouging the consumers and using the disaster to cover their tracks. Well, rather than be one more voice complaining about the gas-prices, do something useful and report it. There’s a handy dandy on-line form at US Department of Energy Website. You might also try calling the Attorney General for your state; many of them have started investigations into the illegal price-fixing. And even if you don’t do something to fight the gas-pirates, shut up about the gas prices. I don’t care if they really hit home; just be thankful you still have a home.


Let me clarify first of all that I am not talking about people stealing food or medicine that is seriously needed for the survival of their families. I’m not a religious man, but I’ve read enough to know that most religious dogma agrees that while stealing is a bad thing, forgiveness can be warranted for good causes. St. Thomas Aquinas once said that if a man’s family is going hungry, it’s no sin for him to steal a loaf of bread. And even ignoring the spiritual arguments, I have a lot more logical sympathy for the woman stealing baby formula than I do the jackass who is taking advantage of the disaster to get an X-Box 360. Sure, I can’t play it now… but once the water goes down… oh baby!


Okay. It’s technically criminal. But you’d be breaking windows to get some canned peas if you were in their shoes too. You may deny it, but you would. So get off your high damn horse and do something to help these people.


While I don’t buy into any of the theories going around about how the slow Federal response to the disaster was part of some mass conspiracy by the power elite to racially cleanse the Gulf Coast by allowing the poorest, minority-filled areas to be hit the hardest and denied aid, anyone who denies that there is a subtle form of racism going on in depicting the current situation is just naive.

Don’t believe me? Check out these photos and the accompanying blurbs.

Remember kids: Black people are looters. White people are finders.

I’ve also had it with all the ignorant people making snap judgments as to why the people stranded in New Orleans chose not to leave. Most of them chose nothing. I can’t find the statistics to confirm this, but I heard on the news that 1 in 3 people in New Orleans don’t own a car. Even removing the children and the infirm elderly, that still leaves a sizeable number of people who had no direct way to take action for themselves. And these people need help right now; not some jerk telling them they should have helped themselves and asking why they should be bothered to do anything?


According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step to overcoming alcoholism is admitting that you have a problem and that you need help. This is actually good advice in dealing with many bad situations; you can’t start fixing it until you admit things are broken and that you need help.

It seems to me though that our Federal Government is refusing to admit that we need help. With a lot of the National Guard units of the states affected overseas in Iraq, there is a serious lack of manpower to move in and deal with the few people in New Orleans who have turned to violence. And trust me; the people who are rioting are a minority. The LA Times has a good article about this and how we sent in soldiers who were expecting combat who found only a lot of hungry and sick people desperate for a way out.

Sadly, it says a lot about the mentality of the people running the show right now that their first thoughts are of punishing the wicked and not saving the needy. This is not blame-shifting or finger-pointing. I just honestly want some things explained to me.

Explain to me why we are refusing the aid of other countries? There have been countless stories of this going on in the past week. A Google search will bring up a lot of them but the first one I saw involved us refusing the aid of the the Jamaican government.

Explain to me why we are turning away volunteers? People are showing up and being turned away by the forces surrounding the city. Even the Red Cross has been denied entry to start distributing food and evacuating the sick. Now obviously, if things are that big of a war zone (which, as we saw earlier, they probably aren’t) we aren’t going to want to send in civilian volunteers. But why can’t we have doctors and nurses who want to help outside the city ready to treat the people getting moved out?


This sort of goes along with #1, but I’ve heard enough of this it deserves to be mentioned separately. To everyone who is dismissing this tragedy because of New Orleans being a wicked, sinful city: please shut up, for the love of whatever thing you call God.

This may escape your notice since most of our media coverage of Katrina’s aftermath has centered upon New Orleans, but Mississippi and Alabama got hit really hard too. All of downtown Mobile Alabama, not a bastion of permissive behavior by most standards, is completely underwater. As I said before, I am not a religious man but I’d like to think that any god interested in trashing a wicked city would have better aim.


Finally, because I have vented my spleen so much this week… let’s end on a happy note and talk about some people who, in the middle of a bad situation, have actually been showing some exemplary behavior.

There’s 18 year old Jabbor Gibson, who took an abandoned school bus in New Orleans and personally drove it and about 100 people out of the city to the evacuation center in Houston. Sadly, with a Vogonish approach to protocol that is proving sadly typical for this disaster, his people were turned away from the Astrodome at first and Gibson himself may be facing criminal charges for stealing a vehicle. To his credit, Gibson said “I dont care if I get blamed for it, as long as I saved my people.” No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

And I must acknowledge New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who was the first person in power honest enough to say that not enough was being done. Regardless of what he may have done or not done before the disaster, he has earned my respect for being man enough to say that he doesn’t care if he keeps his job or not at this point; so long as the people he was elected to serve are helped.

And thank you everyone around the world who has tried to help deal with this a little bit, even if your help was refused.

Speaking of helping, here’s a list of places you can check out to find out what more you can do. Donate blood. Buy some extra groceries and donate them. Pitch in a dollar to the charity at the supermarket. Even if you’ve already done something to help, it can’t hurt to see if you can do more.

Personally, as far as charities go, I suggest The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. This way you can be sure your donations are going directly to the people in Louisiana who need it.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get going to the grocery store. For some odd reason, I seem to find myself curiously short on canned goods right now.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.