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by shathley Q

17 Jun 2009

Arising from the pages of DC’s 1994 summer crossover event, Zero Hour, new series Starman would always emphasize the telling of the superhero story as a generational one

. From father to at-first reluctant son, from scientist to new-age hipster artist, from Theodore Knight to Jack, writer James Robinson would set himself the task of unveiling the personal lives of superheroes with Starman. Running just shy of 100 issues, the series would unmask the secret connections between superheroes of the Golden Age; “The Mercury Seven of superheroes”, as eponymous Starman Jack Knight at one point claims of his father’s generation. Moreover, Starman would show the sons and daughters of superheroes and their adversaries. In the scope of a single monthly comicbook, Robinson would reaffirm, not a nostalgia, but an enduring sense of how much a world has changed for there being superheroes and supervillains.

“Grand Guignol” the ninth and penultimate book in the Starman library, takes its name from the farcical, ultra-violent French plays of the 19th century, where murder and mayhem were usual fare for thrilling audiences. This book provides Jack Knight with the completion of his character arc. Initially, he only even used his father’s superhero technology to save a hospital memorial wing bequeathed in his mother’s name. Now he must stand in his father’s place as defender of Opal City (a city Jack himself loves) against an occult conspiracy a century in the making. Family ties have been strengthened and Jack no longer shuns his father’s legacy.

Slowly, readers begin to feel that most endearing parts of Starman, the telling of the secret histories of the DC universe, have run their course. All that remains now is the final and very mundane super-heroics of punching and kicking and saving the world. But on the eve of Jack’s final battle, Robinson takes a moment to remind readers that one storyarc remains, and that past histories will once again be the centerpiece of the book.

by Rob Horning

17 Jun 2009

As much as I like to cheerlead for hard discounters like Aldi, my love does not extend to the chain dollar stores, the predatory lenders of retail. These include Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General, which Daniel Gross recently profiled for Slate. Dollar General, as Gross explains, is doing well in the recession, but not necessarily because it offers cheap deals. Instead, they have found a better way to exploit the prejudices of their often captive small-town Southern populations.

Rather than simply pile up cheap bottles of detergents and ultracheap clothes—truth be told, only about 30 percent of the items it stocks retail for less than a buck—Dollar General began to think about how the firm could be more relevant to its customers. For example, even though most of Dollar General’s stores are in the South, which is hard-core Coca-Cola country, the stores had carried only Pepsi.

On my recent cross-country road trip, I found that these sorts of stores sold the same crappy quality of goods that Wal-Mart specializes in, only they charged more for them and had a less-overwhelming selection. Also, they were like traditional mom-and-pop dollar stores in that they were laid out somewhat chaotically, with no rhyme or reason to where you might find items you were looking for. Ice chests might be next to the off-brand shampoos. Of course, in theory I think that chaos is a good thing—it runs counter to the idea that shopping should be “fun” and hassle-free and contributes to putting shopping in what seems like its more proper place in our lives. It should not be an experience, entertainment in and of itself, but a chore. When shopping is convenient, this would seem to help dispense with that chore and expedite us to our other activities, but often convenience is geared toward getting us to spend more and enjoy ourselves in the store, exist in the fantasy prompted by owning goods rather than the activities that actually use them.

I’m entirely in favor of deglamorizing shopping, but the corporate chain dollar stores, while certainly unglamorous, don’t seem like the answer. Stores like Dollar General combine inefficiency with bad deals, banking on its reputation as a bargain outlet to disguise the fact that its prices aren’t actually all that low and taking advantage of the fact that they often stand as the only retailers in the interstices of rural America, the vast underpopulated swaths that are too scrawny for Wal-Mart to pick at.

by Matt Mazur

17 Jun 2009

Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest comedy, Bruno is already being met with a smack-down by gay rights activists who are calling the character’s stereotypical mannerisms “dangerous”. Will Bruno be funny or offensive? We’ll have to wait until July 3 to find out for sure.

by PopMatters Staff

17 Jun 2009

by Matt Mazur

17 Jun 2009

Lindsay’s Lohan’s last business venture was hawking a tanning lotion, before that she gave us the unintentional comedic stylings of I Know Who Killed Me. In other words: I’m so there for Labor Pains—I wouldn’t miss this inevitable trainwreck for the anything. PS: For shame Janeane Garofalo and Cheryl Hines.

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