Archives for posts with tag: Penguin

thenew52ends

After weeks of ambiguity regarding the fates of their titles after moving their offices from New York to California, DC Comics cleared things up somewhat with a statement this week. The simple answer: The New 52 is dead! Long live the New 52! The truth: DC Comics is removing the label New 52 and making continuity less of a concern if favor of greater diversity in story-telling. DC is not simply shedding the label, but also an ideological commitment to an experiment. The experiment? A new (err..rebooted) and thoroughly connected (err…though filled with holes) universe (err…multiverse)! Originally planned as 52 titles a month published in sync, following a universal timeline, the New 52 was a lofty ambition. For the experiment to work, creators had to work within a tight framework not only in narrative, but in artistic style- prompting the oft-used terms “DC house-style” or “Jim Lee house style.” These rules allowed a pretty cohesive fictional universe to thrive, but also alienated many creators and readers who wanted stories outside the framework of the larger experiment. By abandoning the New 52 and their ideological commitment to the New 52 experiment, DC Comics will be opening itself up to new, smaller experiments. The publisher’s lineup will be more chaotic this June not only because many titles will leave and many new titles will arrive, but those new titles and even the continuing titles will draw from a larger creative arsenal- new creators, new styles, new impressions on the characters, and new impressions on what super-hero comic books can do. To be fair, DC Comics continued to publish an assortment of books outside of the New 52 such as Lil Gotham and all those video game-related titles. Now new books like Bat-Mite and Bizarro promise to approach comics without the baggage of the New 52 experiment. The official word from DC suggests the end of the New 52 is motivated purely by creative ambitions, but it’s obvious to most readers that DC has found an awkward but workable solution to several concerns: 1) the move to California 2) the stress of managing the big continuity 3) the desire to attract more casual comics readers (the ones reading Image titles) 4) the New 52 is destroying itself.

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That 4th one can be broken down to specific problems within the New 52. I believe the beginning of the end came when the original creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman left Batwoman over creative differences on whether or not Batwoman would marry. While this was not the first dispute-driven departure of a respected creator during the New 52, this departure, unlike George Perez leaving Superman, shook up something that most people believed the New 52 was doing right. Fans and critics alike couldn’t say enough nice things about the work being done on that book. The rush to replace Williams and Blackman with not only a talented creator, but one with a little LGBT cred to ease PR concerns, left Batwoman in the hands of Marc Andreyko and the book got noticeably worse. After Geoff Johns and associates completed their run on the Green Lantern titles, DC found a new creative team, but things fell apart and they again found themselves scrambling the fill some roles. Luckily they found a sort of dream team to take over those titles. Most problematic about the Green Lantern creative team shift, Geoff Johns wrote an epilogue in his final issue of Green Lantern, an epilogue whose authenticity would come immediately into question as the new creative team found ways to destroy all the love stories in that blossomed in that epilogue. Other books saw transitions. The success and failures of titles in transition were surprising. I really expected Chew’s John Layman to write a better Detective Comics while Jeff Lemire wrote a Green Arrow story unlike anything else he’d ever written, reinforcing what his run on Animal Man had suggested- the guy who draws those creepy picture book also has a visionary take on the super-hero model. Another reason why I see the Batwoman shift as the beginning of the end can be seen in the fifth collected volume of the title-  an inconsistency that runs along the spine, singling out the volume among all other New 52 titles as the unmentionable yet obvious stain on the whole endeavor.

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Look at that tiny little five! How embarrassing that must be for Batwoman Vol. 5: Webs! The other book that sticks out in a complete New 52 collection is Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family because it’s white instead of black. While it may still drive the obsessive and compulsive a bit mad to look at, the change is obviously intentional. The tiny 5 on Batwoman Vol. 5 appears to be a Freudian slip, a subconscious expression of shame in ruining one of the New 52’s best titles.

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Since the official announcement of the New 52’s end, I’ve tried to figure what the New 52 really has been. Despite all the Convergence hype, it feels like the experiment is going out with more a whimper than a bang. There’s no real story to tie up as far as I can figure. So the question remains what was the New 52?

Here are 52 things I think made the New 52:

1) The Court of Owls

2) Wonder Woman’s new origin story

3) introduction (and reintroduction) of Vertigo characters into the DC universe

4) Superman-Wonder Woman love story

5) Triumphant revitalization of Aquaman (Throne of Atlantis arc)

6) Titles created just to foster the continuity experiment (Blackhawks, Team 7, OMAC, Threshhold)

7) Crime Syndicate and Forever Evil

8) Darkseid’s destruction of Earth-2 and Superman’s subsequent reign

9) Death of Damian Wayne

10) Skinny Lobo

11) Rotworld arc

12) Justice League Dark formation

13) Central role for The Phantom Stranger

14) Central role for Pandora

15) Future’s End

16) Joker cut off his face

17) Muslim Green Lantern

18) Gay Green Lantern

19) Young Green Arrow

20) Walking Barbara Gordon

21) Brother-killing Batgirl

22) Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham

23) Penguin takes control and loses control and regains control of Gotham criminal underworld

24) Catwoman takes control of Gotham criminal underworld

25) The Riddler brings Gotham to its knees

26) Batman Eternal and Jim Gordon’s blues

27) The most sophisticated Mr. Mxyzptlk story in DC history

28) Guy Gardner became a Red Lantern

29) The Guardians of the Universe were replaced by new Guardians of the Universe after proving themselves fascist tyrants one too many times

30) Kyle Rayner continued to become more messianic

31) Hal Jordan became the leader of the Green Lantern Corps

32) Superboy was a clone of Superman’s wicked son Jonathan Lane Kent from the future and also there were other Superboys

33) Cyborg Superman is… Supergirl’s father?

34) Lucius Fox’s son becomes Batwing

35) Harley Quinn did it with Deadshot

36) H’el on Earth (and Krypton)

37) The Culling of Teen Titans and Ravagers and a general feeling that Scott Lobdell was going to end up writing every title in the DC universe

38) Short lives of good titles (I, Vampire; Voodoo; Mr. Terrific; Captain Atom; Dial H)

39) Huntress and Power Girl, the World’s Finest of Earth-2, arrived on the primary Earth

40) Daniel West is the Reverse-Flash

41) Bad futures depicted in Justice League 3000, Future’s End, Superboy, Teen Titans, and the Legion of Super-heroes

42) Aimless movement from the Legion of the Super-heroes

43) Two heavy-handed comics nobody liked (The Green Team and The Movement)

44) Martian Manhunter with Stormwatch, Martian Manhunter without Stormwatch

45) The return of Lyssa Drak and a Sinestro-led Sinestro Corps

46) Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE and other Dark titles

47) Trinity War

48) Lights Out, Relic, and the draining of the emotional spectrum

49) Trying to figure out what to do with Darkseid

50) Trying to figure out what to do with Deathstroke

51) The Rogues with super-powers

52) Company-wide campaigns particularly in Septmember- 3D covers, MAD variants, Scribblenauts, Robot Chickens, Zero Year, etc.

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beyondgoodandevil

“And the Justice League is dead,” announces Ultraman in the first issue of Geoff Johns and David Finch’s mini-series Forever Evil, the main book of the DC Comics event of the same name that resurrects the Crime Syndicate. “And Jesus wept,” John recalls as he tells the resurrection of Lazarus. If the DC Universe died when the New 52 initiative began, Forever Evil is a way of telling those bemoaning the reboot to stop weeping because that old universe has come back to life. The event certainly shook up the New 52, but has only left the universe stronger for it. Remember that Lazarus lived an additional 30 years after his resurrection and that was spent mostly signing autographs and trying not to laugh.

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Forever Evil tells a great threat to our world and features a lot of villains. The great threat is employed to expose the more intimate natures of DC Comics fan-favorite villains. The threat comes from the Crime Syndicate, an alternate and “evil” version of the Justice League, with a roster of villains that correspond to members of the Justice League.

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The Crime Syndicate comes from Earth-3, a parallel Earth that resembles Earth-1 but lives under the thumb of the Crime Syndicate. An over-simplified assessment could describe Earth-3 similarly to the original conception of Qward, a place where evil is law- right is wrong and wrong is right, but the narrative of Forever Evil shows the impossibility of such an idea by showing how the villains of Earth-1 themselves are beyond good and evil. Earth-3 is not the opposite of Earth-1, but rather an Earth where those in power care even less for the people than those in power in ours. While the spirit of the Crime Syndicate is nastily selfish and sadistic, the people of Earth-3 are quite aware of the boot stamping on their face- forever (evil).

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The Crime Syndicate hope to recruit the villains of Earth-1 but encounter some resistance. This resistance comes from major villains like Catwoman, Lex Luthor, Black Manta, Black Adam, and the Rogues. More minor villains like Blockbuster and Parasite have an easier time towing the line. The Crime Syndicate do a few things that irk the villains and it’s hard to say if these actions are even evil based on their motivations and the villain’s reactions. For Ultra-Man’s survival and strength, he blocks the sun with the moon, something that pisses off most Earth-1 residents and particularly Poison Ivy. Black Manta opposes them because they “killed” Aquaman and his anger does not come from grief for the “fallen” Atlantean, but because the Syndicate robbed him of the chance to kill him. It is the autocratic imposing of their will upon the nations and people of Earth-1 that angers both Lex Luthor and Black Adam- two individuals who pride themselves in their abilities to impose their will on others. The Rogues initially consider joining the Crime Syndicate until the Crime Syndicate orders them to destroy their own home towns, the Gem Cities. The Rogues, of course, have long been known to stick to a no-kill code and their motivations clearly financial, so their repulsion at the thought of decimating Central City and Keystone City makes perfect sense. Two-Face’s response is typically loyal to the outcome of his coin flip.

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The Forever Evil story has been published in trade form over the past five or six weeks. As with most big events, the choices made by DC Comics in publishing the collected event cause a Groundhog Day-like disruption of narrative. The action of Forever Evil can be found in many places throughout DC’s catalog. Events unfolded in the Forever Evil mini-series itself, Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S., Forever Evil: Arkham War, Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman Vs. Bane, Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, Constantine, many of the “Villains Month” titles, and a scattering of other titles. Some events and even panels repeat in different issues- the Rogues breaking Trickster out of Iron Heights, for example. What DC Comics generally does when there is a major event like this, they publish the trades based on the title rather than the timeline. This makes the reading experience for the trade reader (myself) distinct from the experience of the issue-reader who sees each piece of the story unfold simultaneously, much safer from spoilers. I’ve heard and read trade readers complain about this and admit some discontent myself. The phenomenon hits Green Lantern fans repeatedly. Another curse is that in collecting the trades, you end up with multiple printings of the same issue as experienced in Throne of Atlantis and Rotworld events. The Forever Evil: Blight trade contains issues that readers of Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Constantine will find already in the collected trades of those individual series. It’s a bit of a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-dont-paradox that leaves comics readers either missing out on chunks of story or buying multiples printings of the same material. As DC has spaced out the release of each trade, there is an implied order to reading them. Forever Evil: Arkham War and Forever Evil: Blight actually works pretty well independent of the main Forever Evil series, but Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S and Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion are entirely dependent on the events of the main series.

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For those readers who are considering only one additional Forever Evil beyond the main series, here is a breakdown of what you can expect:

Arkham War is obviously written with Batman fans in mind despite having very little actual Batman in it. It’s written by one of my favorite writers Peter Tomasi and I believe they picked the worst possible picture for the cover. The art within is so much better than the close-up face-off of Bat-Bane and Batman. It is predominantly a Bane story, but features a whole slew of Batman’s enemies including Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, Pyg, and Clayface.

A.R.G.U.S. centers largely around Steve Trevor and Etta Candy, making it a book for Wonder-Woman fans despite the fact Steve Trevor hasn’t really appeared in the pages of Wonder Woman. It is more closely related to Justice League, Suicide Squad, Justice League of America, and the secret agent-y government-y titles. The major villains are Killer Frost, Cheetah, and Deathstroke. Among the lesser villains, Cheetah leads a cool-looking pack of anthropomorphic antagonists. While it tells the back story of an important plot point to the greater Forever Evil narrative, it is probably the weakest, in both story and art, of all the Forever Evil subplots.

Rogues Rebellion is a story for Flash fans, obviously. It features the usual lineup of Captain Cold, Trickster, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master, Heatwave, and Glider. Classic Flash baddies Pied Piper and Gorilla Grodd appear as well. Several character more normally associated with Batman makes appearances; the Rogues find themselves transported to Gotham where they encounter Victor Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and Black Mask.  In addition, there are quite a few second-stringers like Black Bison, Parasite, and the Royal Flush Gang making appearances. This book more than any of the others, including the main series, celebrates the community of villains operating in the DC Universe.

Blight is a Pandora story that stars John Constantine. It is readers who have been following the Dark family of titles and have familiarized themselves with the Trinity War event. This story is important to the entire plot mainly because Pandora’s box is what enables the Crime Syndicate to come over to Earth-1. It retains the feel of Justice League Dark and if you like that, you’ll like this book. If you’re expecting some Vertigo-eqsue tome, you will be disappointed and I recommend you read Rotworld for something closer to that experience.

All in all, I see Forever Evil and titles like World’s Finest and The Multiversity in the same way other comics speculators have already said: DC Comics is gearing up for an infinite crisis of infinite proportion. I’m excited. I feel I’m much better prepared to understand it than I am to understand Infinite Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is a book for its time. Will my generation’s crisis overdo the crises of the past? If Forever Evil is any indication, I believe it will.

 

Atheist Batman Bauble

In the tradition of my previously posted Superman crossword puzzle for ESL learners, here is a Batman crossword puzzle. Like the Superman puzzle, this puzzle is modified from a puzzle I made for students with low English levels and limited familiarity with the superhero. I modified it for the blog by cutting out parts of the lesson I teach along with it. If you’re a capable educator, you can surely adapt it to your needs, work it into your own lesson or build your own lesson around it. Please feel free to use any of the materials on this site that I’ve created in the classroom. If you have any questions or want advice on using comics in the classroom, feel free to comment below or email waynexiaolong@gmail.com

THE BATMAN

batman crossword

Bruce Wayne comes from a very _____12 across___________ family.

His _______6 across__________ loved him very much.

One day, when Bruce was very young, his parents took him to the ____7 down______.

When they left, a ____20 down______approached them and demanded their money and Bruce’s mother’s ______23 across_______.

The thief had a _________3 down___________ and shot both of Bruce’s parents.

They died and Bruce became an ________15 across__________.

Bruce’s butler______28 across________ became his _______29 across________.

Bruce missed his parents very much and felt ______27 across_______ about the crime in _______25 down_____________.

Bruce decided to use his _____9 across_______ and energy to fight crime as the Batman.

He often uses ________30 across (two words)_________ equipment to catch criminals, but relies mainly on his _______18 across_________, which earned him the honor of “World’s Greatest ___________5 across_______________.”

He is not a member of the_____2 down________, but sometimes he works with them.

 

Because he is rich and _______13 down_________, he attracts many women and has many girlfriends.

However his crime-fighting keeps him from _____16 down  (two words)________.

He has no parents and no wife, but his life is not __________8 across__________.

He has many friends.

When Bruce meets a talented young boy, he will often _______10 across_______ him to live in his ______26 across_______ and train to fight crime alongside Batman as Robin.

 

Batman may have many friends, but he also has many ______19 across__________.

The criminals that Batman encounters are very ________4 down_________.

______1 down (two words)____ is a woman who can _______24 down_______ with plants and flowers.

Her kiss allows her control over men’s minds. They become her ______22 down_______.

Another villain that Batman often faces is Oswald Cobblepot. He earned his __11 down__ because he walks like a _______17 down_______.

Most people use _______21 across_______ to protect them from the rain, but he uses them as weapons!

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I’m posting a crossword puzzle that I made based on characters from DC Comics. Hopefully it proves to be a fun and challenging distraction for some of you. Click here or at the crossword link on the top of the page to have a try. Following the link will allow you to see the clues.

realcrosswordeasytoprintforeasyboysandgirls

While we have spent several Christmases together, this year will be our first Christmas together in a predominantly Christian country and our first Christmas with a Christmas tree. The tree is artificial, a hand-me-down from my sister. Decorating it has been a joy.

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This photo shows the tree is its earliest stage of transformation from simplicity to fabulousity. Note the faux amanita muscaria mushroom placed on the bottom of the tree in honor of Santa Claus’s Siberian roots.

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The star on top of the tree symbolizes the star that led the three kings to Nazareth where they were informed “THANK YOU, WISE MEN! BUT OUR SAVIOR IS IN ANOTHER MANGER!”

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This Superman figure sits near the top of the tree. It is based on a cover by Jim Lee.

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An anti-Themyscira/pro-Atlantis button. We scored a lot of Flashpoint buttons for free from Oxford Comics in Atlanta. I think they’re still have some. They’re giving them away until they run out. I really like this button and the weird fantasy world misogyny connotations that come with it. It would’ve broken my heart to see to Aquaman marry Wonder Woman because it would break Mera’s heart; she and I share a psychic bond, but have different allergies.

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Our friend made us these two ornaments to commemorate the special relationship between People’s Republic of China and the United States of America. One world, one dream!

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Recycling the season’s classic Naughty-Nice dichotomy

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Batman with a pink grenade, dreaming of pink lemonade

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The penguin shall lie down with the bat.

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August 1st (八一 ba yi)

The Chinese Army

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Bob-Omb Over Bethlehem

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Batman spying on Mario spying on a sheep’s little butthole

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Edible ornament, like a string of popcorn

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Deathstroke as a a circle, Norin Radd as a bear

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The Koopa is uncomfortable with the D and everything it stands for.

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Pink-skinned Toad, possibly boiled

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When we visited New York last summer, we saw many of my dearest friends. Of course, we brought many gifts with us. For one of my friends, who is a bit of psychotic pervert, we brought a very creepy cat mask from Japan. The mask continues to make him the envy of every other psychotic pervert he knows. His lady-friend also gave us a gift. She’s Dominican and wanted to share some of her culture with us, so she gave us a couple magic Catholic voodoo bracelets. One of these bracelets appear in the photo above. Both bracelets appear on the tree, warding off evil spirits like birth control and hard work.

fromthosewinosbrianandlynn

We hosted some of our friends for dinner last week and they brought us this fun home-made ornament. From its design, you can tell that our friends are winos.

ghostofklansmenpast

Is it a ghost? an arctic sloth? a klansbaby? an adorable snow demon? one of those naughty gremlins from Family Circus?

gorillaz2 handpaintedgorillaz

Yuanyuan made these when we lived in Chongqing. The two big ones are Russell and 2D. The two little ones are Murdoc and Noodle.

haveyourselfaverydomochristmas

Domo: “Words are very unnecessary. They can only do harm.”

liberiantoad

Another link in exposing the U.S. imperialists’ hidden legacy of interference in the Mushroom Kingdom

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Detail of Mario’s eyes’ shiftiness

milkflowerdonkeykong

A carton of milk, a fire flower, and Donkey Kong walk into a bar. Donkey Kong orders a banana beer and the bartender asks him why he didn’t order anything for the other two. Donkey Kong shakes his head and says, “I intend to barter the milk for the beer. If you refuse, I will use the flower to burn down your bar.”

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Monkey

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My neighbor Totoro and a cat biting his style

ninjabat

Ninjabat from Uglydoll

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Twas the night before Christmas, when the virgin was due,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a Boo.

The stock market was fixed by the Illuminati with care

to distract the masses from pillaging billionaires.

The children were medicated for their ADHD

with anxiety meds and methamphetamine.

Ma in denial and me in withdrawal

Had just signed a check to cover it all.

When straight out of Compton arose such a clatter,

I neither created nor destroyed any matter.

A mouthful of Windex, I smelled like I felt,

bored out of the shutters and hungry as hell.

The movie star’s breasts aroused even the snow

as she jumped up and down on the television show.

When, what to my wandering eyes should appear,

but her tits fell out of her dress and so did her rear!

With a little search engine, so lively and quick,

I found a site where I downloaded the pics.

More rabid than eagles, the internet burst

with photos galore of the starlet, her at her worst.

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Cagney and Lacy!

On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, those who obey me!

Hey, I just met you and this crazy,

But here’s my number, so call me maybe?”

And then, in a twinkling, I found some proof

that intruders were loitering up on my roof.

As I drew my pistol and napalm and sword,

Down the chimney appeared the chairman of the board.

He was dressed in a grey suit with a loosened necktie,

the typical look for a Hoboken wise guy.

Melting ice cubes flung from his glass

as he looked for liquor with both his eyes and his ass.

His eyes- how they twinkled! His voice- how dreamy!

When he licked his lips, I shuddered extremely.

His slack and sweet mouth was drawn like a stiff,

suckling the nectar from a shoplifted fifth.

A tightly rolled spliff he held tight in his teeth

and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a golden arm,

one little taste would do Frankie no harm.

He spoke a few words, then went straight back to Vegas.

“I hate all the tourists, but at least the bourgeoisie pays us…”

And laying his finger deep inside his nose,

up! up! the chimey he flamboyantly rose!

He sprang from our lives to follow his dreams

and away they all flew like melting ice creams.

But I heard him exclaim at the end of day,

“More, much more than this, I did it my way.”

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Another gift. This is not Bane.

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A propeller shroomed Toad from New Super Marios Bros.

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1up Mushroom with lace

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Blinky

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This cute panda arrived from China with some shoes and books.

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Inky

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44th President of the United States of America Barack Obama

shazamspineerection

A tree grows between Captain Marvel’s legs.

One-armed Italian plumber bear in background

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Another gift from an accomplished ghost-buster

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Deadman and Wonder Woman are buttons, but Superman came from a bottle of juice drink.

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This ornament is pretty old. The baby is based on me when I was a baby. Back then, I had a pretty cute butt.

thatcatisaspeaker  whoscoolerthanbeingcoolercaptaincold

What’s cooler than being cool? Captain Cold.

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The Wolfman’s First Rodeo

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Yoshi, cruising for confusion among the Christmas miracles.

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