Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Baddest of them all....

Who is the greatest super-villain of all time? Luthor? Doctor Doom? Darkseid? Despicably evil as they are they have all been defeated. Ladies and gentlemen I give you a villain who retired undefeated with no ties: THE COMPOSITE SUPERMAN.

I am only talking about the Joe Meach Silver Age version who kicked Superman's and Batman's ass both times he faced them in World's Finest 142 & 168. Supes and Bats only survived because of Compy losing his powers just before he turned out the lights on them for good. Meach died in a heroic act of self sacrifice so he was never to return to take them on again. I am not interested in the reworkings of the character after World's Finest 142 and WF 168.

Now this story absolutely thrilled me as a child. Compy's appearance was both very cool and macabre at the same time. My favorite artist Curt Swan was fantastic at making super villains look frighteningly realistic. An ordinary janitor named Joe Meach not only acquires Superman's powers but all the powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He uses Chameleon Boy's power into changing himself to look like a half Superman half Batman demon with a green face.

Meach is a janitor in the Superman museum where life like Legionnaire statuettes are displayed. Very life like because each statuette was created by making an exact duplicate of each legionnaire that included his/her own individual powers. A lightning bolt strikes the statuettes and also the nearby Joe Meach who is sweeping up. A curious thing about the Silver Age is that people never close their windows during a lightning storm. Meach is then imbued with powers and an evil personality.

Like all good super-villains Compy has to toy with Batman and Superman before he destroys them just long enough until it's too late. Of course if he knocks them off in the first couple of pages there's about 14 empty pages of story, right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hollywood bits and bytes

In recent weeks I have seen a few movies; one of which is the newest release of a blockbuster series, and two others that are in the "B" movie category.

"Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" is the blockbuster of course and I would have to say that I enjoyed this chapter the least of all the six Harry Potter movies. I have not read any of the books. I have only seen the movies and this is the first time I felt like I really wasn't following what was going on. I also have enjoyed each movie less as the principal characters have grown from children into older teens and young adults.

The two "B" movies I enjoyed quite a bit and are great summer fun flicks. "The Orphan" is about a married couple whose third child is stillborn. To get over the loss they decide to adopt a nine year old russian orphan named Esther. We kind of get a bad feeling about Esther right away when she manipulates the couple into adopting her. "The Orphan" has an innovative twist on what would be just another child from hell film and twelve year old Isabelle Furhman is brilliant. She is American but does a fantastic job with the russian accent and is completely creepy. Isabelle is also a Beatles fan.

"Perfect Getaway" opens with showing us videos of a recent wedding and then takes us to the honeymoon in Hawaii. The news headlines in Hawaii are of two brutal serial killers who are still on the loose. Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich play the newlyweds Cliff and Cydney who meet ex military special ops Nick (Timothy Olyphant)and his girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez). Nick who is guiding Cliff and Cydney through the jungle terrain of Kauai has a nasty looking knife and acts a little wild and crazy. Things really get tense when a suspicious acting and looking hitch hiking couple make the scene. So the guessing game and red herrings begin of figuring out who the killers are.

While the twist about who the serial killers are may be obvious to some, I didn't figure it out until it was revealed. I also didn't sit there watching trying to spot every little flaw and plot hole. I have enjoyed Steve Zahn in just about everything I have seen him in and he does a great job playing cliff. Olyphant and Sanchez were very likable and quite good in their roles. The one I thought was a little miscast was Jovovich as the prim and innocent Cydney.

If you go see "The Orphan" and "A Perfect Getaway" without a lot of pretentious expectations and accept them as just a nice hot summer diversion, I think you will have a good time.