Friday, April 2, 2010

Catholic Paper Says Pope's Credibility Is At Stake

AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates mass during Holy Week at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Thursday. The Pope has been on the defensive as the Catholic Church's ongoing child abuse scandal has again gained force in the U.S. and Europe.

Published: April 02, 2010

by David Folkenflik

No American publication has written about charges of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church longer, or more consistently, than the National Catholic Reporter. It's a small, not-for-profit news organization based in Kansas City, Mo., with a circulation of 34,000, a full-time news staff of just eight, and an unshakable Catholic faith.

"NCR was founded about 45 years ago to report on the news of the church like a good local or good city newspaper covers the news of its municipality," says Joseph Feuerherd, the paper's publisher.

But in recent weeks the hometown paper has not only reported the news but, in a starkly worded editorial, challenged the very credibility of Pope Benedict. The Pope has been on the defensive for charges he failed to intervene while an archbishop and cardinal against priests he was warned had abused children.

"The focus now is on Benedict. What did he know? When did he know it? How did he act once he knew?" asks the editorial, written by Feuerherd and Thomas Fox, editor of the National Catholic Reporter.

"The strategies employed so far — taking the legal path, obscuring the truth and doing everything possible to protect perpetrators as well as the church's reputation and treasury — have failed miserably. We now have the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history ... It is time, past time really, for direct answers to difficult questions. It is time to tell the truth."

The media has not been widely thanked within the Church for raising such questions. The Vatican newspaper termed press coverage "clearly an ignoble attempt to strike at Pope Benedict and his closest aides at any cost." The Catholic archbishop of Portland, Ore., canceled his subscription to the Oregonian newspaper and called for fellow Catholics to follow suit after its editorials questioned the practice of celibacy within the church in light of the sex abuse scandal. An Italian exorcist said press coverage of the issue was "prompted by the Devil."

All of which might make it seem surprising for a Catholic paper to take the stand it did. But from its founding in 1964, the National Catholic Reporter embraced a liberalism inspired by the reforms of the Vatican II Council. So staffers blended their faith with a desire to seek and report the truth — including things that reflected critically on the church.

"This was a novelty. Most of the papers were owned by bishops and they were house organs," says former Newsweek religion editor Kenneth L. Woodward, who contributed some articles in the early days. "These people did independent reporting, and did it right from the start, and with high journalistic standards. It was pretty exciting."

Its best known reporter is its ubiquitous senior correspondent John Allen Jr. — a respected authority on Vatican doctrine and politics who has become the paper's public face on CNN, NPR, and other media outlets. But the National Catholic Reporter assigns correspondents and freelancers to travel across the country and the world to chronicle good deeds and success stories as well as the tensions within the church.

One story has always been different. National Catholic Reporter staffers saw the emergence of lawsuits by parents of children claiming abuse at the hands of clergy who had failed to win the attention of bishops and priests. NCR editor Tom Fox says patterns emerged.

"One was the clergy abuse and the second was the cover up of the local bishop," Fox says. "That usually went with the bishop denying that the abuse ever took place, and then often turning on the victim, saying that that person was just making it up."

Fox says reporters often found priests were shuffled to other parishes — and complaints of abuse would recur. Even back then, the National Catholic Reporter called for full accountability from the church. The coverage created a backlash.

"We were getting letters from bishops, we were getting from priests and letters to the editor who were saying at that time that we were really destroying the church," Fox says. "It was a very, very lonely and very difficult period for us."

A member of NCR's board of directors, seen as a champion of reform within the church, angrily quit in disgust when he was not able to alter the paper's editorial direction, according to Feuerherd and Fox.

Not everyone agrees with the current editorial, either. Woodward, now a contributing editor at Newsweek, says the editorial overreaches by relying too heavily on what he considers flawed reporting by The New York Times. Allen, the NCR's senior correspondent, wrote a carefully crafted opinion piece for the Times saying that much media coverage has overlooked the major reforms undertaken by the former Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

I asked whether the language of the editorial, reminiscent of questions asked about President Richard Nixon during the Watergate crisis, was intended to so starkly challenge the Pope's credibility.

"These are not just questions we're asking," Fox responded. "These are questions Catholics around the world are asking."

Fox says he's receiving far fewer objections from readers these days. Instead, he's receiving letters from people with their own claims of being abused, who ask whether he can tell their stories, too. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio

Geoff Johns Drops Nuggets on Brightest Day

Geoff Johns let a bunch of nuggets fly on twitter last night regarding Brightest Day.  Each one gets me more excited than the next.

  • According to Geoff, Deadman is the single most important character behind the secret of the twelve heroes and villains resurrected.
  • Geoff seemed to confirm that Deadman is the only character still wearing a ring after resurrection.
  • He confirmed we will see Dex-Starr vs Krypto this year...but Dex-Starr fights Lobo's dog first!

And finally, in the least exciting news:
  • Firestorm ongoing story. Much more to Firestorm than you could guess. 

 Blackest Night (Green Lantern)

Cover to Brightest Day #0 Revealed

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Green Lantern Bitch Slaps Superman

During the 2007-2008 season of the animated TV show, The Batman, in the episode “Ring Toss,” Robin meets Hal Jordan. And one of the first things he says is, “If you and Superman were ever in a fight, which one of you would win”

The scene throws into light the ongoing debate among comic book readers of just WHO would win the fight if Superman were to go up against Green Lantern.

The debate has been recently rekindled, thanks primarily to the “Sinestro Corps War”. In that story, fans on either side of the debate finally got to see an actual, prolonged slugfest between a Kryptonian (Superboy/Superman Prime) and the “ultimate Green Lantern” (Sodam Yat/Ion). Readers have latched onto the fight as evidence of what just would happen if fan favorites Superman and Hal Jordan were to go head-to-head.

Clearly, Hal would beat Superman in a fight.

Historically, it's pretty well established that Superman has a healthy fear of Green Lantern power.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

- Second, at least some Green Lanterns (Hal Jordan and John Stewart, specifically) are capable of stopping Superman in his tracks if they have to.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

The fight has already happened.  Superman went up against Hal Jordan as Parallax (in Zero Hour, or in Green Lantern #64 (1995), etc.). Parallax essentially had souped-up Green Lantern powers similar to Ion's. Not only that, those powers were wielded by Hal Jordan, who as a Green Lantern is the best of the best of the best ... In every confrontation between Superman and Parallax/Hal Jordan, Hal wiped the floor with Superman.

Thank you for playing.  Enjoy your walk Superman. 

Blackest Night #8 - Twitter Sized Reviews

While the "highbrow comic industry expert" writers at sites like Newsarama, CBR and IGN chose to nitpick the Blackest Night series to death and be cheerleaders for failure, its clear that the "real comics community" absolutely LOVED what Geoff Johns did with the Blackest Night series.

Blackest Night #8 wow....just wow. Best "event" series since the original Crisis.

-- by theatomicgeeks

Wow. Go read Blackest Night #8 now. Then once you finish, read it again, taking your time to absorb each and every stunning page. Wow.

-- by jtkrul

Blackest Night 8 made me cry, dude. IT MADE ME CRY.

-- by JLanphear

BLACKEST NIGHT #8 Probably the greatest superhero comic you'll ever read. Just amazing.

-- by ComicsandMorePM

I had to change my underpants atleast 4 times reading Blackest Night 8.

-- by iBobbyWilson

Blackest Night #8 made all those tie-ins worth it. Issue is so good it hurts.

--  by @JimSeals01

Blackest Night #8 just rocked my ass! Such an awesome series and ending!!

-- by Danubus

Umm... yeah. So. 'Blackest Night' #8? MELTED MY FACE. 

-- by Salloria

Blackest Night 8 is one of the best comic book issues I've ever read. Ranks with the final issues of Rebirth, COIE, & Watchmen

-- by erikescuro

Blackest Night 8 just mindfucked the shit out of me. In so many good ways. 

-- by kristalantern

Blackest Night 8 = Jizz in my pants!

-- by Krysalid

Oh wow, Blackest Night 8 is just awesome on top of awesome

-- by Mark_Roy

Marvel Comics To Be On iPad - DC Comics Stuck in Dark Ages

On Saturday morning, Mac fans, tech heads and curious members of the public alike will doubtlessly line up in some form or fashion to be the first people to buy Apple's new iPad device. The question on most comic fans minds since its announcement in January has been when comics will be made available for download. And tonight, a first answer to that query came with the news that Marvel Comics will have a launch app ready for the iPad's first week on sale, produced by comiXology.

In the buildup to the iPad's weekend release, a variety of Web sites and news organizations have been offered advance reviews of the new device. In articles on USA Today and the Chicago Sun-Times, both mention the existence of the Marvel Comics app.

Sun-Times writer Andy Ihnatko says of the reading experience, “…this was a perfectly acceptable way to read the comic. I truly felt as if I was reading an issue of ‘Fantastic Four,’ not interacting with an application.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love this Alex Ross green lantern!

When Batman and Robin Were First Outed as Gay Lovers

In 1954, best-selling writer, Frederic Wertham became the first person to accuse Batman and Robin of being gay lovers.  Fredric Wertham was a German-American psychiatrist and crusading author who protested the purportedly harmful effects of violent imagery in mass media and comic books on the development of children.

How did Wertham come to the conclusion that Batman and Robin were gay?  He based it on the following:
  • "Bruce Wayne was rich. Several of Wertham’s patients said they wanted to live with Bruce and be rich too. "It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together" (p. 190). Here Wertham proposed that Bruce’s money was an aphrodisiac."
  • "Alfred served lavish meals and kept Wayne Manor filled with freshly cut flowers. This is called stereotyping. So we will address this point immediately and say that a person’s attitude toward flowers or breakfast is not a gender-based or gender-defining characteristic."

  • "Batman and Robin spent a lot of time caged, trapped or tied up while the other tried to save him. "Like the girls in other stories, Robin is sometimes held captive …. They constantly rescue each other from violent attacks by an unending number of enemies. The feeling is conveyed that we men must stick together because there are so many villainous creatures who have to be exterminated. They lurk not only under every bed but also behind every star in the sky" (p. 190-1). Wertham argued that danger could be stimulating, and that in the wrong circumstances that stimulation could take a sexual turn. He called such stories "erotic rescue fantasies." They were intended, he said, to make Robin more devoted to Batman than to anyone else on earth."
  • "Bruce and Dick must be homosexual because there were no women in their home. The underlying assumption was that these were sexually active characters and that, lacking appropriate outlets for their passionate urges (i.e. wives) they were compelled to sate those urges with each other. In response let the record show that Robin had been born a boy because the creators didn’t want their moral crusader living alone with an adolescent girl. They were trying to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing. They had not anticipated this alternate interpretation."

All of those quotes were from his best-known book - The Seduction of the Innocent (1954).  As crazy as some of those ideas may sound today, the book created a bit of a frenzy at the time.  It led to a U.S. Congressional inquiry by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency into the comic book industry.

Publishers who became concerned about the possibility of government regulation instead created the self regulating Comics Code Authority.

Hello Kitty Jons the Red Lantern Corps!

Driven to blinding rage over the dismemberment of Keroppi at the hands of the undead Black Lantern Batz Maru, Hello Kitty finds new life in the Red Lantern Corps!!

Now a warm, red glow fills the spot where her gentle little heart used to beat and the blood of her anger burns away the unclean evils of the Sanrioverse.

Hello Kitty Junior's Halter Monokini,Red,Small

First pages of Batman Return of Bruce Wayne

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Chris Sprouse
Release Date: May 12, 2010

Finally Grant Morrison gets rid of the imposter in the cowl with THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, a special six-part series that chronicles the return of the only man who should ever be behind Batman's cape and cowl!

Batman: R.I.P.Batman: The Black GloveFinal Crisis

Pete Rose's girlfriend will be in Playboy

Pete Rose and Kiana Kim at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last March

Pete Rose made the media rounds today, appearing on Howard Stern's show. The banter was the usual -- the endless Cooperstown snub, the all-time hits record, etc.

But the one changeup Rose threw was taking along his girlfriend, who's about to hit the newsstands in Playboy.

She's 29-year-old Kiana Kim. (Pete is 68, and we'll let you do the math.)

Her self-description, from her website: Kiana was born in Seoul, Korea and moved out to the United States with her family when she was of the age 5. She was raised in Los Angeles and left LA to go to school at Arizona State University. She recieved her BS degree in Business Marketing. Soon after graduating, she worked for Korean Airlines as a flight attendant.

Death of Major Cast Member on Smallville

Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello reports on a rumor that a major cast member will be killed off by season’s end on Smallville.

As for the particular target, Newsarama is in agreement with a lot of folks that Chloe is that obvious choice.

Batman on the other hand is predicting it will be perry white or tess mercer, despite not having watched a single episode of the last two seasons.

Said Batman "Chloe is the most popular character on the show based on mail, focus group, polling. Most people think if they kill lois it will bring a huge backlash. That's why I think it will be perry white or tess mercer."

Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season

Laughing Ogre finally hires a Comic Book girl

To correspond to the release of Blackest Night #8, the Laughing Ogre finally hired a hot comic book chick to work in the store.