Monday, January 09, 2006

New Sound in JSA

It was definately worth the two extra days it took to get comics this week. I had a three-way tie between Jonah Hex #3, JSA #81, and Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #2 for favorite comic. I have to say, though, that JSA has the edge because of a certain guest-star.

JSA #81 Spoilers

Expandable posts are great for Spoiler WarningsFirst I need to confess something.

I love the crotchety old men of the DCU. I love them telling Nazi war-stories. I love them showing up the younger set. I love them keeping the decent values of their generation and accepting the progress of the modern era. I love them fighting, I love them planning, I love them sitting around playing poker. I'd still read JSA if the entire comic was Jay, Alan and Ted bitching about the thermostat. Hell, throw in Hippolyta and I'll have to write begging for another issue like it.

But my favorite crotchety old man is the oldest and most crotchety of all. The retired (not reformed, mind you) supervillain. The one who never ages, and doesn't look old. The one who hadn't changed his values for 150 years, no matter what the rest of the world was doing. The one who regularly tells demons, figuring that each one is the Devil himself anyway, to go back to Hell. The one who would have no problem dating a girl young enough to be his great-great-great-great-great granddaughter. The one who knows a whole bunch of secrets he probably shouldn't, and records them in journals that would cause an insane scandal if any of them were stolen and made public. The one who probably doesn't remember most of the sixties, even though he was awake the entire decade.

Yes, I'm talking about the Shade.

It's been a while since we've seen the Shade. He put in a required appearance in the Princes of Darkness storyline (as everyone who had ever been connected to a member of the team showed up), but otherwise he's been keeping to himself. He never writes, he never calls. Even so, provided he's not written by You-Know-Who, he's always welcome in my pull list.

But I noticed two things this appearance, and I'm going to discuss the first with you today.

He has a new sound effect. BWWOOF! Shade's never made noise when he teleports before. Not that I've seen. But this is worthy sound-word.

I know, the most famous teleport sound is BAMF! But BAMF is a Marvel sound. And besides, BAMF! doesn't suit Shade's style of teleportation. BAMF is too impish. It implies a small burst of energy, as though the teleported item had been contained to atomic size, transported very quickly through subatomic space, and was suddenly pushed back to normal size. That is not how I've understand the Shade to teleport.

We know that the Shade slips through darkness into the Shadowlands. He opens portals in the middle of thin air to step through. And then he appears elsewhere.

In between those two places, I've always gotten the impression that he does not move himself, but rearranges the area to suit his path. He actually moves reality so that the area in the Shadowlands that corresponds to the area of the normal world that he wants to go to, is closer to him. Then he opens a portal from the World of Darkness to the World of Light, and ends up quite a ways away from his starting point. This wrecks havok on the Shadowlands, which explains why no Darkness-manipulator other than Culp (who would have teleproted in the same manner) has ever operated in the Shade's territory. Because the Shadowlands around Opal City look like they were painted by MC Escher.

Now, I have no basis for this assumption, other than it sounds cool and it suits his personality. The Shade does not go places, places go to him. And I like the idea of Obsidian having to follow the Shade someday and getting that "I'm trapped in an Escher Painting" kind of headache.

BWWOOF! is an excellent sound effect because it implies a great rush of energy. The Shade rearranging the Shadowlands would cause just such a rush of energy, especially in a hurry over a great distance, as shown here.

And so, it is a good sound effect. A worthy sound effect.


  1. Heh. Long before your time, a guy you've never heard of named Rich Howell once wrote in to AVENGERS while Steve Englehart was writing it and pleaded for them to do at least one issue in which the Avengers all just stayed home in the mansion and interacted. No extraneous plot elements need be interjected; he just wanted to see Englehart write nothing but character driven dialogue for 17 straight pages.

    That's what your opening couple of paragraphs remind me of, and it's, to me, a sign of the best writers. I've already commented that I didn't think Johns needed to have Mongul show up for a pointless fight in IC #1; he's a good enough writer that he could have had Bats, Supes, and WW stand around in the ruins of the Watchtower emoting for half the book without any action whatsoever, and even a Modern Age fan could've dug it.

    To me, that's how you tell a good writer -- they don't need an FX budget. They can keep you in your seat with nothing but dialogue.

  2. I too have always had a fondness for the JSA's old guard (he types glancing over at his Alan Scott mini-bust complete with sadly non-functional ring). And I certainly agree. "A Day in the Life" type of story about them would be great.

    And Shade's appearance it this book was particularly welcome. When written well (properly?) he is one of the best characters in DC's supporting stable.

    I haven't picked up any Jonah Hex, but you are not the first person who has said good things about it. Perhaps I'll have to catch up on it.

  3. What I like about the sound effect is the fact that it sounds rather magisterial. If a sorceror conjured a demon, it would sound like that. The sound, as well as the excellent graphic, lets the reader know that someone with heft and weight had arrived.

  4. I'd still read JSA if the entire comic was Jay, Alan and Ted bitching about the thermostat.

    Or debating the finer points of Matlock.
    Seriously, you can't get any better than the old crew. I'd still read JSA if it was just Jay, Alan and Ted.