A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bridge Work

The super-speed hijinks of yesterday's post brought to mind a couple of little Flash-related matters.

In The Flash #188, Wally single-handedly rebuilt the Van Buren Bridge between Keystone City, Kansas and Central City, Missouri. And he did so between the blinks of an eye. That even includes the time he needed to learn the necessary engineering skills to design the bridge. A very impressive feat, and one that made for a darn cool double splash page, if I remember correctly.

So here's my question: how did Wally move the materials? An awful lot of any bridge is made of large pieces of metal. Very large, and very heavy, pieces of metal. And Wally's power is speed, not strength. So how did he manage to transport and manipulate several-ton girders and supports?

And that reminds me of a little scientific complaint about something that I don't think I've seen since Waid's run: if two speedsters are running at a supersonic pace, they really ought not to be talking to one another. Or to anyone else, for that matter.

Similarly, if a speedster's moving over a short distance, other characters shouldn't simultaneously be talking all that much. Take JSA Classified #3:

The previous page showed Jay, Bones, and Mr. Terrific standing all of two dozen feet away from Psycho Pirate's location, and the next page shows Jay veering off right before he reaches him. Thus, Psycho Pirate manages to deliver about five seconds worth of dialogue in the time it takes Jay to move about twenty-five feet. Plus a second or two of Jay himself talking. Even I run faster than that.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man from Krypton

DC's new Showcase Presents volumes could probably provide me with an endless amount of fodder for this here blog. I'll probably take advantage of any legal issues I come across, but most of it seems too innocent to rip on.

But what the hey. I'll even go one better today, and use a scene from a Silver Age dream sequence. It doesn't even have to make sense on its own terms. Still, it caught my attention. It's from "Superman in the White House," originally published in Superman #122 in July 1958:

Now I'm not going to dispute Superman's capacity to shake a million hands; I don't doubt him there. (Though I'm a little curious where this "custom" of Jimmy's came from, and how all those people got on the lawn.) But what does it mean to shake a million hands?

If he was reasonably fast, and took exactly one second to shake each person's hand, a million handshakes would take exactly 11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds. "Won't take long at super-speed"?

So how fast would Superman have to move to actually get the job done quickly? Let's say, three hours of nonstop superspeed hand-shaking. That'd do the trick if Superman spent 1/100 of a second on each person. Somehow, I doubt the experience would be memorable for any of those million. The effort hardly seems worth the result.

By the way, if you haven't already bought one of the first two Showcase Presents books, you're doing yourself a disservice. $10 for (in Superman's case) 29 issues of comics? It's very nearly a quarter box in TPB format.

Monday, October 24, 2005

C. P. Argh

Aquaman made his live-action debut in last Thursday night's Smallville, as University of Miami swimmer Arthur "A.C." Curry. He immediately kicked things off by saving Lois, and then nearly killing her again. You see, Lois attempted a dive into Crater Lake (and did you notice the mountains surrounding the lake?), hit her head and fell unconscious in the water. Aquaman rescues her, brings her to shore, and performs CPR until she spits up some water. Cue Lois falling head over heals for A.C.

The problem is, Aquaman apparently learned first aid off a Denny's placemat. Not only does he arguably pick the wrong kind of first aid to administer, he also performs it so incorrectly that it could well have hurt Lois.

CPR, short for "cardiopulmonary resuscitation," deals with exactly what the name suggests: the heart. It's an emergency procedure for when a person suffers heart failure, and is intended to provide oxygen and circulation for the victim. It's a potential life-saver when a person's heart has stopped.

But for drowning? Well, there's some dispute. The Red Cross says that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should be the first treatment, but the Heimlich Institute recommends the Heimlich Maneuver be performed first. They point to a 10-year study that showed CPR-only resuscitations ended in failure 42% of the time. I agree with the Heimlich Institute, and believe that one should attempt to expel the inhaled water before trying to breathe in new air.

Still, let's cut A.C. a break and say he's following the Red Cross's recommendation. If that's the case, he still gets it wrong. He carries Lois out of the lake, lays her on the sand, and immediately begins doing compressions on her chest.

Bad idea. Even though the Red Cross says to try CPR first, it only says to perform the mouth-to-mouth breathing part of CPR. Performing chest compressions on a person whose heart is still beating is pointless at best, and seriously dangerous at worst. They should only be done when a person doesn't have a pulse.

Checking for a pulse is just one of the initial steps of CPR, and even it comes after opening the victim's airway, establishing breathlessness, and (if the victim isn't breathing) administering some initial ventilation breaths. A.C. skipped all of those steps and jumped straight into doing chest compressions, the one part of CPR that Lois didn't need. It's unlikely Lois' heart would fail that quickly in the water, and since her subsequent treatment was not to get her to a hospital, it sure didn't sound like she'd just survived heart failure.

Furthermore, the valuable seconds wasted on giving Lois unnecessary chest compressions is time that should've been devoted to treating the actual problem of water in her lungs. The only purpose the compressions served was to provide the director with an opportunity for some close-up shots of Erica Durance's rack.

On the plus side, at least A.C knew to pinch her nose shut while giving the breaths, so he's not a completely lost cause.

Basically, for someone who joked about starting a Junior Lifeguard Association, Aquaman really needs to get himself some first aid training before he hurts someone. After all, CPR should only be administered by someone who's ben trained in the procedure (unlike A.C.). Incorrect portrayals of CPR in the media only serve to invite some overzealous good citizen to try and imitate bad first aid. Contact your local Red Cross if you're interested in taking their certification course.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Add to your swipe file

Attention, Hawkeye and Green Arrow artists: Go see the new Nicolas Cage film, The Weatherman and take notes. The movie may not be any good, but based on the publicity photos I've seen, the archery is at least right.

Take particular note of the bow. The riser (handle) part is about two feet tall, with a couple of inches between the hand and the arrow rest. Also take particular note of how the fingers hold the string, and which side of the bloody bow the arrow goes on. Also note where the hand and string touch the face. While you're at it, note the posture. This is what archery looks like. From the ribcage down, you can have him doing anything you want-- swinging from a trapeze, riding a unicycle, running at full-tilt-- but from there up, this is what it should look like.

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that Don Rabska was the archery coach on this film.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005


In a change of pace, what follows is not a criticism of the comic publishers. Rather, it's something they pretty much always get right, but the fans frequently get wrong.

So here's my top 5 list of comic terms that fans can't seem to help but misspell:

5. Cerebus
- This was apparently originally a misspelling on Dave Sim's part, but it stuck. So it's not 'Cerberus' like the mythological dog, and it's not 'Cerebrus' either.

4. Blue Beetle
- He's named after a bug. Thus, the proper spelling is Beetle, not Beatle. The former is a particular type of insect; the latter is a particular type of British musician.

3. Bizarro
- The adjective is 'bizarre,' so you don't need to add extra Z's and make it 'Bizzaro' or 'Bizzarro.'

2. Villain
- Not Villian, and not Villan. I can always remember this courtesy of a character from an Ambush Bug comic. His name was 'Villian the Villain,' and he chose his moniker specifically to remind people how to properly spell the word.

1. Brainiac
- It's not 'Braniac.' He's a smart villain, not a fiber-conscious one. Everyone knows how to spell 'brain' correctly, so this shouldn't be a problem. And yet this word seems to get misspelled more often in fandom than any other.

Even more official usages can't remember the 'i.' The Superman ride at Six Flags Over Georgia has display boards along its walkway that profile various Superman characters. The one for Brainiac uses this misspelling every single time in the green guy's bio. There's also a British show that G4 airs called "Brainiac." And sometimes during episodes, they'll run a banner on the screen that utilizes this same misspelling.

I'm Back

I apologize for my unexpected three-week hiatus. Basically, I just burned out for a bit. My real-life job hunt has taken a toll on me mentally, so I let some things slip. I also went five weeks between trips to the comic shop, so I was rather lacking in reviewable material.

But now I've got my act together again. I even picked up She-Hulk #1 at the shop yesterday, and that's provided me with some good material that I'll be taking on soon.

And thanks to MacQuarrie for not letting the blog sit update-less for the better part of a month.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Those Who Can't Do (Part II)

I got so caught up in addressing the technical errors and such in the last post that I completely overlooked the most fundamental of all....

Rule #1: Do not point an arrow at anything you do not fully intend to shoot.

In Panel 2, Hawkeye should have said "PUT THAT DOWN!"

He should have then followed with a stern lecture about safety. He most certainly should not have followed up with an imprompu lesson using the pilot's head as the target.

If they don't want the pilot dead, they should not be pointing arrows at him.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Those who can't do, teach.

Ultimate Secret #3
I don't follow the Ultimate line at all, so I have no idea who is supposed to be what, and in fact have not seen any of this issue except this one page that was e-mailed to me by Typo Lad of What WERE They Thinking? fame. So if I guess wrong at one of these character's identities or some such, well, that's to be expected.

Anyway, like I said, Typo sent me this page and asked for my comments....

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

There's just so much to say here....

In general, the writer has done a little bit of research, but the artist clearly hasn't.

Panel one: The bow has no arrow rest. Apparently the arrow sits on top of the archer's hand. Of course, here in the real world, you only find that in traditional (longbow).

Moving on, what's with the gloves? Those are biker's or weightlifter's gloves, designed to provide protection for the palms while leaving the fingers free. Archer's gloves are exactly the opposite, covering the fingertips and leaving the rest of the hand free. Fingerless gloves are worse than useless to an archer.

Panel two: the guy actually gives good advice in this panel, but my sense is that neither the writer or artist have any idea what they mean; they are just disjointed snippets of archery instruction devoid of any underlying rationale.

Panel three: The guy's comment is exactly right; most beginning archers do all the work with their arms, and it is the most serious form flaw.

Panel four: Here we get into trouble. Let me dissect the text here a bit at a time:

"It's simple. You and the bow are a single machine."
okay, that's just psychobabble that has nothing to do with anything. It's accurate enough, and something an instructor with zen pretensions might say, but it doesn't address the lady's problem.

"You pull with the muscles across your back."
So far, so good. What he's describing here is that the shoulderblades should push toward each other, it should feel as if you are doing a pushup.

"The power transfers from here into the belly of the bow."
say what? I've never heard anyone refer to "the belly of the bow"; this is the writer making up claptrap to cover the fact that he has no idea why one would draw a bow using the back muscles rather than the arms. More babble.

"Now, this is a compound bow."
Oh no it's not. That thing in no way resembles any compound bow ever made. It's some sort of mutant blend of a recurve's limbs, a longbow's grip, and an extra string stuck in there somehow. I don't know what the hell it is, frankly.

"Listen for the clicker."
uh oh. We have a problem. Compound bows don't use a clicker. They don't need one. A compound bow has a fixed draw length; you draw it back to a certain point and it stops. It "hits the wall" as they say. Recurve bows do not have a fixed draw length. The archer can draw the bow a different distance each time, which affects its accuracy. A clicker is a device that recurve shooters use to tell them when they are at full draw. As the arrow tip passes the clicker, it clicks, telling the archer that the bow is drawn to the distance it's supposed to be.

"It's storing that power--"
Again, say what? The clicker is storing the power? Oh no it's not. It can't. The bow has somewhere between 20 and 60 pounds of power stored up in it, and the clicker is a thin little piece of metal, either a strip of spring steel or a little rod and magnet arrangement; neither of them can store more than an ounce or so of power.

I'll repeat my offer; any comic writer or artist interested in getting archery right can call me, e-mail me or write me (I'm in the Pasadena Phone book), and I will happily assist you for free. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, I will happily give you free archery lessons.

Just please stop trying to make it up. You're giving me a headache.

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Why doesn't Green Arrow ever do this?

Or would it intrude on Aquaman's territory too much?

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