Author Archives: haljohnsonbooks

From Adventure Comics #397

Yes, that’s a depowered Wonder Woman helping Supergirl out by invoking what may not be the oldest name of God…but is certainly the most retro.

The Morally Fraught Incentive

I came up with a lot of theories when I was a kid, and some of the were wrong, especially the ones about math. But some of them were pretty close to the mark. For example, I’d noticed that teachers often emphasized the importance of effort, saying something like: “It’s not your fault if you’re just […]

Lenny Bruce Died for Old Harvard

I. I grew up thinking that Lenny Bruce was a hero, because he suffered and died to expand the range of things we, as grownups, were permitted to talk about. The Victorian era was a dark, superstitious time when words such as”belly” or “leg” were considered injurious to “sensitive” souls, and therefore banned from polite […]

Imagine a World Where People Knew Stuff

This is the internet: Ignorant people shouting dumb things at each other, while we cheer them on. I’ve seen so many celebrations of this “perfect response” to a hateful meme, and none of those celebrations pause to wonder if a response can be “perfect” when it asserts that “it is the Wright brothers who have taken the credit” for […]

Why Kipling Was Never Knighted (Perhaps)

Sometime in the late nineteenth century there appeared the anonymous bawdy ballad “The Bastard King of England.” Rumor attributed it to Kipling, with no real evidence; and rumor goes on to assert that the ballad and the attestation so scandalized Queen Victoria that she refused to knight Kipling. (Other rumors hold that he was offered, […]

The House That Jack Built, in Trouble Again

We’re all mad again, and we’re all mad at Marvel. By “we” I mean comics readers, or at least a certain demographic of comics readers, and we’re mad because, and I’m quoting io9’s headline here, Marvel VP David Gabriel “blames women and diversity” for a decline in comics sales. That sounds like a spectacularly boneheaded […]

Kill or Be Killed Theories

[Major spoilers for the comic book series Kill or Be Killed follow. You should probably go read it, it’s been called one of the best comics of last year.] I once read (it may have been in an Anne Rule book) that with serial killers it’s the first kill that “counts.” That is to say, […]