The Origin of the Origin of Dispatcher


Dispatcher mug

The Dispatcher was born from real-life experience.

No, I’m not a police dispatcher, nor have I played one on TV. I have worked for years as a newspaper reporter (mild-mannered, of course), and the static, beeping and chatter of the police scanner is ever present in a newsroom. Hearing officers and dispatchers talk about information they’ve gathered from license plates, names, etc. through the National Crime Information Center database is where I got the idea for Morris Rider’s powers.

The fact that he doesn’t get updates is something I wondered about while watching “Chuck.” The main character had a massive government database in his brain, but why did he have the latest info months or years after he got zapped? (I didn’t wonder much, though. Loved that show.) And of course, the limited utility of his power and the fact that it messed with his memory and ability to concentrate put him in need of a Support Group.

Dispatcher looked very different in Nathan’s initial rendering of the first Support Group page though. I looked down in the right corner and asked Nathan who it was. When he said the Dispatcher, I pointed out that the character was black.

That was news to Nathan, since I didn’t include his ethnicity – or much of any description at all – in the initial script.

(Writer tip: If you want a character to look a certain way, or be of a particular ethnicity or gender, tell the artist.)



SUPER Bowl, Part 2


Welcome back for the second installment of our Marvel vs. DC football throwdown!

I’ve assembled a team of Marvel’s best and brightest (coached by Captain America) to do battle on the gridiron with DC’s all-stars (coached by Batman), hand-picked by “Shortpants Romance” and “Stuck” writer Jordan Lowe.

In part 1, you met the DC offense and the Marvel defense. Now you’ll get an idea of what happens when Marvel has the ball.

Please share your thoughts on who would win, what positions we got right and who we erred in leaving off our squads. Like any good football or comic argument, there’s no definitive final answer (except that I erred in leaving Batroc off of special teams).

*   *   *


Cap will be calling the plays, but instead of signs, hand-signals or radio communication, they’ll be relayed to the QB telepathically by offensive coordinator Professor X.


Makkari. Since Cap came of age when the forward pass was but an offensive wrinkle – and DC likely will have some speedsters on defense – this will be a run-first offense, with Makkari, who may be the fastest man in the Marvel Universe, using elements of the read option. Even though he’s not as strong as some of his fellow Eternals, he has plenty of arm strength to chuck the ball downfield as well. But if he’s not running it himself, he’ll often be handing off to…

Running backs

Juggernaut. Once Cain Marko gets moving, there isn’t much that can stop him – not even DC’s heavy hitters. With the ball in his nigh-invulnerable hands, the familiar phrase may well have to be changed to “30 yards and a cloud of dust,” if not a touchdown.

Dr. Strange. Not the physical presence usually found at fullback, the Sorceror Supreme’s duties will fall more in the blocking area, where he’ll be expected to immobilize potential blitzers with the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak and other mystical methods.

Wide Receivers

Nightcrawler. The X-Men’s fuzzy elf won’t have to hone his route-running skills since he can teleport from point A to point B. Hopefully, this will keep defenders off guard, and Makkari can put the ball where it’s supposed to be instead of staring down his receiver.

Spectrum. Aka Captain Marvel, aka Photon, aka Pulsar, Monica Rambeau can transform her body into any form of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum. This allows her to get where she needs to be – such as behind the defense – at the speed of light, or close to it. She can also aid in blocking by disorienting would-be tacklers with bursts of light.

Tight End

Vision. When blocking, the android Avenger can increase his density to the point where he’ll be extremely difficult to move. If called on to catch passes, he can slip through defenders by turning intangible.


Hyperion. Protecting Makkari’s blind side from any Kryptonian, Amazonian or Speed Force-infused rushers is this titan, who boasts super strength, super speed and devastating atomic vision.

Thing. There might be stronger and faster options here, but if you saw a mega-powered Ben Grimm prevent an army of super villains from so much as laying a hand on the Beyonder in “Secret Wars II” #7, you know he’s the right guy to have watching Makkari’s back.


Blob. Once Fred Dukes sets his feet, he ain’t moving. He’s not so wide you can’t go ’round him, but it’ll take a while.

Strong Guy. When Guido Carosella gets hit, he absorbs the kinetic energy, increasing his own strength. So he can take whatever the defensive line dishes out and use it to stop them in their tracks.


Mr. Fantastic. Reed Richards’ elastic abilities will allow him to bulk up and cover as much ground as needed to protect Makkari and clear space for Juggernaut. His mega-genius intellect will help him assess the defense before him and call out protection schemes to his fellow linemen.

Special teams

It may be too easy to block kicks in this game, but if Marvel does try to boot an extra point or field goal early on, those duties will be handled by former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants leader and ex-X-Men janitor Toad and his powerful legs. Martial arts master Shang-Chi can punt – or at least give the impression he’s going to before a fake is run.

*   *   *

The DC defense (by Jordan Lowe)

Middle Linebacker

Martian Manhunter. Leading the defense would be stalwart J’onn J’onzz, the Manhunter from Mars. Not only is he nearly as fast and as strong as Superman and able to become intangible enough to phase through blockers, but he’s psychic. Good luck to any quarterback going against a linebacker who can read his thoughts as soon as he decides what play to call.


Bane and Killer Croc. A merciless back-breaker and a snarling reptile man? Both have the brute strength and killer instinct for the position. The only flaw in their games would be one’s ability to sneak Venom past the league’s drug testing and the other’s ability to avoid excessive penalties called for trying to bite through an opponent’s shoulder pads.

Defensive Line

Clayface, Doomsday, Gorilla Grodd and Solomon Grundy. The DC D-Line would be stocked with such a nasty bunch of eye-gougers and cleat-spikers that they’d make the Oakland Raiders teams of the 70s look like girl scouts in comparison. Up the middle would be a literal brick wall in Clayface and an unmovable object made of bones and rage in Doomsday. The other two brutes would ably cover each end, Grodd with his gorilla strength and hatred of humans and Grundy being a resurrected zombie with no fear of pain or susceptibility to concussions.


Hawkman and Orion. Possessing speed, agility, power, guts and a burning desire to pound their opponents into the dirt, both the winged Thanagarian and the son of Darkseid seem born to run down any receiver foolish enough to think they can complete a pass on their turf.


Plastic Man and Elongated Man. They both have similar skill sets, sure, but what a benefit it would be downfield to have a couple of guys who could stretch and morph their bodies into giant fishing nets or hang gliders or construction equipment or anything else necessary to form a last line of defense against a big play by the opponent?

*   *   *

Now, assuming this doesn’t go the way of most superhero fights and turn out to be a cross-dimensional plot by Darkseid and Thanos or end in a draw when the teams have to stop Galactus and the Sun Eater from devouring the stadium and a whole lot more, who comes out on top?

(You can check out part 1 by clicking the “PREV” link above.)

SUPER Bowl, Part 1


You might not think football fans and comic book fans have a lot in common. Hopefully, that’s not true, or the rest of this blog is going to be pretty pointless.

As a member of both groups, I have noticed a few similarities. We both can get way too worked up about things that don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. And we really enjoy speculating about questions to which we may never get answers.

For example, who was the better quarterback, Johnny Unitas or Peyton Manning? Who would win in a fight, Wolverine or Deathstroke? How would Terry Bradshaw’s Pittsburgh Steelers match up against Troy Aikman’s Dallas Cowboys? Guardians of the Galaxy or Legion of Super Heroes?

With that in mind, and because it’s football season, I and Jordan Lowe, writer of “Shortpants Romance” and “Stuck,” have assembled our picks for a Marvel-vs.-DC football game.

I took the Marvel squad, while Jordan served as the GM for DC. We didn’t share our lineups with each other until they were complete, so our teams weren’t reacting to one another.

We’ll start with the Marvel defense and the DC offense, so readers can envision the match-ups. The next installment will feature the opposite squads.

And now for the Distinguished Competition: your DC Universe All-Stars! (by Jordan Lowe)


Booster Gold. Can you list any other comic character where being a STAR QUARTERBACK is part of his origin story? Booster’s got the experience and the swagger. He loves the limelight and is a pro at handling the media. Plus, he’s a time traveler. So if things don’t go his way, he might just slip backwards a couple quarters and ensure a better outcome for his squad.

Running Backs

Superman. Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall defensive lines in a single bound? Yeah, this All-American out of Smallville, Kansas, is the guy I want to hand the ball to in the red zone with the game on the line.

Cyborg. Backing up Supes would be the former Teen Titan and current Justice Leaguer, Vic Stone. He’s tough. He’s durable. He’s adaptable. And if anyone can read a defense and formulate the most efficient path to take up the field in a nanosecond’s time, it would be this walking computer processor.

Wide Receivers

Flash. The Fastest Man Alive would be an unstoppable offensive force. He would also be our kick returner, the first in history to go a full season without calling for a fair catch. Able to step around any attempted tackle before his opponent’s synapses even fire, he can also vibrate through solid matter, so special teams could most likely win the ballgame singlehandedly without the offense ever needing to step on the field.

Power Girl. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure which version of her origin is canon at the moment. But it doesn’t matter, because in every one she’s a lightning-fast powerhouse who could outrun, outmaneuver and outmatch anyone the defense throws at her. The most difficult part would be convincing her not to cut an oval out of the front of her jersey.

Tight End

Wonder Woman. NOT a juvenile wisecrack about her famous star-spangled backside. A tight end has to be tough enough to stand their ground and throw a block, as well as graceful enough to make catches in heavy traffic. Toughness and grace are every Amazon’s inheritance, and Diana has more of both than any superhero alive.


Apache Chief. This size-changing Super Friend would be a perfect center. When he chants the magic words “hut! hut! inukchuk!” before every snap, he’ll grow ten times his normal height and more than capable of protecting his quarterback in the pocket for as long as he needs. Plus there’s the added benefit of the inclusion of such a nuanced and non-cliché minority character smoothing over any of the league’s other culturally insensitive portrayals of Native Americans.

Offensive Line

Shazam, Black Adam, Green Lantern and Sinestro. A volatile mixture, to be sure, but these polar opposites would give the O-Line just the hot-blooded energy it needs to succeed. Tackles Shazam and Black Adam are equally up to the task of stopping any blitz dead in its tracks. The man formerly known as Captain Marvel will protect the blindside and his anti-hero counterpart will call down the lightning from the other end. And who better to be guards than two men chosen by the Guardians themselves? Green Lantern and Sinestro, whose rings are capable of throwing up an impenetrable barrier around their quarterback, each possess the willpower necessary to push forward to that next first down.


Beast Boy. A game with this many heavy hitters won’t come down to field position from a well-placed punt or a last-second field goal, but the DC squad needs somebody with a strong leg just in case. Beast Boy can transform himself into any animal, so knocking the ball through the uprights with the power of a big green mule or kangaroo just might make all the difference.

Other Positions

They may not strap on a helmet and pads, but plenty of other people are vital to the success of team DC. Head coach Batman is a master tactician with no qualms about playing dirty to win. Swamp Thing, head groundskeeper, makes sure the field is pristine and replaces all the divots. Referee Two-Face keeps things fair, flipping a mean pre-game coin. Zatanna leads the cheerleaders on the sidelines in a rousing chant of “O-G M-A-E-T!” And if there’s room on the team bus, we’ll even let Aquaman participate. Every team needs a waterboy.

*   *   *

MARVEL: (by Evan again) Guiding this team I feel like I have to call the Beta Ray Bills from the sidelines will be head coach Captain America, a master strategist and leader of men (and women).

As he has in protecting Wakanda from invaders, the Black Panther will utilize his intellect and determination to coordinate the defensive effort to keep DC out of the end zone. He’ll be assisted in translating this knowledge to football by associate head coach and much-reviled marketing tool Phil Grayfield, aka NFL Superpro.

Defensive ends

Cannonball. Sam Guthrie’s power will give him plenty of burst off the line, allowing him to drive back a lineman or knock a couple aside en route to the opposing quarterback.

Sentry. With the power of a million exploding suns, this mentally unbalanced would-be hero can knock linemen back or just zip around them at super speed en route to the QB.


Hulk. It’ll take more than one offensive lineman to slow down the Green Goliath, and it may take all of them – and then some – once he gets angry enough.

Sasquatch. Walter Langkowski is a big, powerful dude who can engage multiple offensive linemen to free up other rushers. He also played for the Green Bay Packers before acquiring his hirsute alter ego, so he brings some gridiron experience to this crew.


Starhawk. Anchoring the defense in the middle is this member of the future Guardians of the Galaxy with near-unlimited power. His ability to move at lightspeed allows him to cover any part of the field. He also has a form of precognition (actually memories from living multiple lives), so he could give his teammates an idea of what the offense may do next. He’ll be flanked by…

Blue Marvel and Captain Marvel. Major strength and speed are needed for these linebackers to stop runners and help out in pass coverage. The Blue Marvel’s got that and then some, with the ability to stabilize and control anti-matter. Meanwhile, Carol Danvers is super strong, can fly at Mach 3 and is able to absorb and redirect energy. She’ll dish out plenty of punishment.


Quicksilver and Speed Demon. Marvel’s surliest speedster, Pietro Maximoff will be tasked with keeping up with the fastest receiver on the opposing team and may occasionally be sent to blitz the quarterback. Speed Demon, a villainous Flash analogue, will be needed if another speedster is out catching passes for DC. If not, he can run the occasional blitz or help Quicksilver double team the opponent’s most potent weapon.


Scarlet Witch and Spider-Man. Physically a bit of a weak link, Wanda’s out here to help ensure that even if her 10 teammates can’t shut down the opposition, the best-laid plans of Batman’s squad still go awry with her probability-altering powers. For purposes of this competition, we’ll assume the other team scoring is enough of a danger to activate Peter Parker’s spider sense. That will help him be in the right place at the right time to use his superhuman strength and agility to tackle opposing ball carriers.

*   *   *

Let us know what you think. Which picks do you agree with? Who would you have chosen? Who has the edge in this match-up? Tomorrow we’ll bring in the Marvel offense and DC defense, then you can weigh in on who you think would win.

10 Greatest Weird Al Originals

Lately, people have been remembering how amazing Weird Al Yankovic is after his latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 – a first in his more than three-decade career.
I’ve seen a few top 10 lists ranking his (in)famous parody songs. Those are phenomenal, but some of my favorite offerings are his original songs that may parody a particular style, but are not based on any one song in particular.
My top 10 list of those songs, goes like this:

10. “Gotta Boogie” (Weird Al Yankovic) – In this gem from Al’s first album, he starts off repeating the title over and over, and briefly you think maybe that’s the joke: a generic beat and the words “Gotta boogie” ad nauseum. Then he completes his sentence: “Gotta boogie on my finger and I can’t shake it off.” Simple. Juvenile. Hilarious. I still enjoy sneaking it in on unsuspecting listeners.

9. “Good Old Days” (Even Worse) – A little dark for my Weird Al tastes, this song delivers guilty laughs by juxtaposing Mayberry-esque recollections (“Do you remember good old Mr. Fender, who ran the corner grocery store? Oh, he’d stroll down the aisle with a big friendly smile and he’d say ‘Howdy’ when you walked in the door”) with disturbing nuggets that sound like they came from a budding serial killer’s journal (“Oh, I’ll never forget the day I bashed in his head”). All lines are delivered in an equally earnest fashion that cracks me up every time, despite all my complaints about excessive violence in movies.

8. “Your Horoscope for Today” (Running with Scissors) – Come for the randomly crazy horoscopes (“Aquarius: There’s travel in your future when your tongue freezes to the back of a speeding bus. Fill that void in your pathetic life by playing Whack-a-Mole 17 hours a day.”); stay for the rapid-fire breakdown of astrology (“Now you may find it inconceivable or at the very least a bit unlikely that the relative positions of the planets and the stars could have a special, deep significance or meaning that exclusively applies to only you”).

7. “Everything You Know is Wrong” (Bad Hair Day) – Not the first, or even the most absurd, of Al’s songs piling one ridiculous line or concept upon another, this one gets the edge because the chorus almost sounds like it could mean something. Plus the idea that St. Peter almost doesn’t let Al into Heaven because his Nehru jacket violates the dress code.

6. “Dare to Be Stupid” (Dare to Be Stupid) – Al imparts the exact opposite of all the cliched advice we’ve ever heard (“It’s time to let your babies grow up to be cowboys, it’s time to let the bedbugs bite”) in an energetic Devo-style song, whose title does a decent job of summing up his M.O. And then he just throws in more stuff from the parking lot behind let field (“Mashed potatoes can be your friends”).

5. “One More Minute” (Dare to Be Stupid) – It wasn’t until I was 14 that I got the inappropriate joke in this song I’d been listening to since kindergarten. I mainly appreciated it (and still do) for the litany of things he would rather do than spend “one more minute” with the woman leaving him in this ’50s doo-wop send-up. The one that sticks in my head the most: “I’d rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue…”

4. “Good Enough for Now” (Polka Party!) – It sounds briefly like a sincere country love song, but Al hedges his compliments until breaking into the chorus: “You’re sort of everything I ever wanted. You’re not perfect, but I love you anyhow. You’re the woman that I’ve always dreamed of. Well, not really, but you’re good enough for now.” See also: “I Was Only Kidding” from Off the Deep End.

3. “Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me” (Alpocalypse) – This song sums up every complaint you’ve ever had about email (“And Bill Gates is never gonna give me something for nothing, and I highly doubt some dead girl’s gonna kill me if I don’t pass your letter along”) and implores the sender to stop forwarding that crap, in a tempo-changing, piano-laden number reminiscent of a Meatloaf power ballad.

2. “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” (UHF) – Among the mountains of information retained in my head that will almost surely never prove useful in life are all the lyrics to this nearly seven-minute travelogue about a family on their way to the titular tourist trap. The humor of the words is compounded as you realize the song is still going on and he’s still singing about this trip and it’s still great. He’s done other epic songs since, like “Albuquerque” and “Trapped in the Drive-Thru,” but this is the first and the best.

1. “Don’t Download This Song” (Straight Outta Lynwood) – I don’t figure Weird Al was too crazy about Internet music piracy, but this song brilliantly points out the absurdity of the arguments from celebrities against it (“Cause you start out stealing songs, then you’re robbing liquor stores, and sellin’ crack, and running over school kids with your car”). He presents it in the style of a star-studded fundraiser reminiscent of “We Are the World,” trying desperately to make people see the devastating effects of the practice (“Don’t take away money from artists just like me. How else can I afford another solid-gold Humvee?”). As with many of Al’s efforts, the passion for a dubious subject sounds so sincere, it just makes the song that much more hilarious.
(Do watch out at the end. The language is a bit much, but it fits. And its pretty quiet.)

Inaccurate spoilers: Guardians of the Galaxy

Even though they’re everywhere these days, I’m doing the best I can to avoid spoilers. That’s why I’m pretty much going on radio silence for “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” almost 10 months before its release. The recent Entertainment Weekly cover story basically gave me the outline of the movie and revealed what is sure to be a great scene before I finally quit reading it.

Even though general consensus seems to be going in the opposite direction I’m a believer in the less is more approach. As excited as I was to hear Hawkeye would be making a cameo in the first Thor movie, how much more awesome would it have been just to see him pop up? (Maybe as awesome as a certain cameo in “Guardians of the Galaxy” that probably everybody knows about by now, even if they haven’t seen the movie?)

I know there are some people who don’t care about having a story’s ending or major twists revealed to them before they see it. I’m not sure how they can stand to live like this, but that’s their choice.

But fake spoilers… well, I have no qualms about that.

So here you go: spoilers for “Guardians of the Galaxy” that don’t actually happen.

  • Forget the Guardians vs. Ronan the Accuser; the real showdown is between Capwolf and the Hypno-Hustler! (Fake spoiler? Yes. Actual Marvel characters? Yes again.)

  • Star-Lord is revealed to be a clone of Andy from “Parks and Recreation.”

  • Gamora gets hit on in a bar by Captain Kirk.

  • Groot wears the little underpants that kept so many Marvel monsters decent back in the day throughout the movie.

  • Every time he says “I AM GROOT,” there are subtitles to explain what he really means… but they’re in Chinese.

  • The mid-credits scene is Wolverine cutting Thor’s hair. But oddly enough, he’s not using his claws. Just regular scissors.

  • The character in the post-credits scene is Dazzler.

The Origin of the Origin of Wonder Wolf


The second member of Support Group to be introduced – and the man/wolf who’s taking center stage in our upcoming fourth issue – was Wesley Grant, aka Wonder Wolf.

While Wesley’s surname was a nod to DC’s Wildcat, aka Ted Grant, for reasons that probably made sense to me at the time, the pop culture character who initially inspired him was none other than Willow Rosenberg, aka Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s BWF (Best Witch Forever).

Well, technically, it was a line of Willow’s in reference to then-boyfriend Oz, when she told him she wanted to keep seeing him, even though he was a werewolf: “I mean, three days out of the month, I’m not much fun to be around either.”

So that would be Wesley’s problem that brings him to Support Group. It’s not that he struggles with the inner beast or hopes his monster-self will do some good amidst the destruction. He’s got all his werewolf abilities fully under control and can use them for good – three nights a month (based on the Whedonverse rules that a werewolf wolfs out on the night of the full moon and the days immediately before and after).

Wesley’s not burdened by his powers; he’s bummed because they don’t work more often. And because, if the Dynamos were the Avengers, he’d be the Hulk – a footnote that no one remembers was part of the original team (at least pre-movie).

As readers know, this frustration causes Wesley to be a bit (OK, a lot) obnoxious at times. But is his heart in the right place sometimes? Maybe we’d have a better idea if we knew who he was talking to back in 1.24 and what’s in that notebook he was writing in in 2.24. (You know, the one which he pitched in Space Herc’s trash in 3.24?)

True Value


(Above: X-Factor #32, signed by plotter/editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco)

So this past weekend, we had a garage sale and I managed to sell off some of my comics. They were priced at 50 cents apiece or five for $2. More recent ones, like the New 52 series I gave up on after one or two issues, were $1 apiece.

Needless to say, this is not the lucrative comic book payoff I was promised in my youth.

After missing Superman #75 when it first came out in 1993, I snagged a fourth or fifth printing to read the story and was fortunate enough to have family friends give me the actual issue for Christmas. I made sure to pick up Adventures of Superman #500 with the first rumblings he was coming back, as well as the introductory issues for all four of the pretenders to the throne in “Reign of the Supermen.”

I was going to be set. Who needs to grow up and get a job when you’ve got the death and return of Superman bagged and boarded?

My Superman #75 eventually came out of the black bag after hearing about someone’s copy that deteriorated inside over time. And in doing a recent sorting of comics, I found I had multiple copies of those first appearance issues, some of which were given to me at no charge.

I recently spotted Uncanny X-Men #304 – from the Fatal Attractions storyline, where Colossus goes over to Magneto’s side – in a dollar bin at a con. Even with its sweet 3D hologram.

And the last time I checked (many years ago), my Incredible Hulk #367 (Dale Keown’s first Hulk comic) had dropped from $23 to $6. I haven’t had the heart to see what Amazing Spider-Man #471 (start of J. Michael Straczynski’s run) is going for, but I know it was once $30.

But unless it’s into four or five digits, I don’t see myself parting with that particular issue. I loved the JMS run (we’ll pretend it stopped before “One More Day”).

Dreams of early retirement thanks to my astute purchase of a Darkhawk-Sleepwalker crossover issue notwithstanding, the real value in my comic collection is the memories I associate with them.

X-Factor #32 may not be worth a ton (especially in the condition mine is in), but it’s one of the most prized pieces of my collection. To my then-8-year-old mind, X-Factor clashing with a bunch of aliens pretending to be the Avengers, and the timely rescue by the X-Terminators kids, who I’d never seen before, was 15 pounds of awesome stuffed in a 10-pound bag.

Getting issues 32 and 33 of Avengers Academy out of a dollar bin wasn’t an investment move; I wanted to own what I considered a great wrap-up to the story of Juston Seyfert from Sean McKeever’s great Sentinel series, even if a) McKeever didn’t write it and b) Juston still showed up in Avengers Arena, which was a good series, but (spoiler-ish warning) not so much if you’re a Juston Seyfert fan.

Having a valuable comic, to me, is neat, but the real value is in what it means to you, not what someone else will pay for it. It’s easier to say that since I don’t own a near-mint copy of Incredible Hulk #180, but still.

(That being said, you should still buy lots of copies of our Support Group print editions, because you never know.)