Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Like I alluded to back in my first post, my very favorite comic book character of the many I dig is none other than Nova the Human Rocket.

Nova sometimes gets a bad rap as being a rip-off of Spider-Man and/or Green Lantern. I understand this to a degree, given that he's a teenager from Queens who got super powers and then became part of an interstellar corps of space cops. However, interestingly enough, it's by explaining why Nova is not like Spidey or GL that I'm best able to demonstrate why he's my favorite character.

In fact, I wrote an article for Marvel.com on the very subject in regards to the differences between Nova and Spider-Man. Hit the link to read the whole thing, but here's some tidbits...

Don't tell the folks that run this joint—I'm banking that they don't read my stuff—but I've never really been that into Spider-Man.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed many a great Spidey story and totally find the character to be innovative and appealing, but when the mask comes off, Peter Parker has just never really felt like "my character." Everybody has got that one character they feel like they'd be buddies with in real life, and for a lot of people, that's Spidey, but not for me. Married, single, young, old, nerdy, clone, whatever—I've just never connected with Spider-Man that way.

I guess you could say a big reason for that is because Nova is "my" Spider-Man.

I liked the fact that Rich Rider seemed more like a real teenager than any comic book alter ego I had ever encountered. Even with his dated 70's wardrobe and lingo, I related to Rich. He wasn't captain of the football team or the most popular kid in school, but he also wasn't a socially hapless science prodigy like a certain other Marvel hero of note. He was a normal, likable dude—he got picked on by bullies, but he still had some cool friends and a cute girl on his arm.

I've heard Nova called a Spider-Man knockoff, but that's bull. Spidey's beat is usually New York and occasionally like Jersey or something; he spends his time catching bank robbers or dudes wearing goblin masks. Rich Rider has the same background and upbringing as Peter Parker, but the threats he faces on a daily basis, particularly with his current status quo, are so out of Spidey's league that it sets him apart.

I've also heard Nova called a knockoff of a certain emerald ring slinger from the Distinguished Competition—again, bull. That guy's whole shtick is having "no fear," whereas Rich is a person who fully acknowledges his fears, but rather than tossing them aside, he uses them to fuel his resolve and make him stronger.

Just about every character in fiction is derivative of some other idea somewhere, but while Nova may borrow from here and there, the end result is a hero like none other. A true blue (blazes) good guy who came from an ordinary environment to become extraordinary. A Human Rocket whose ignition is caring about doing what's right and a burning desire to make a difference.

In short, Peter Parker has always been a bit too much of the bookworm bully-victim dude to me. He's ok for the right audience, but I know a big part of his appeal is supposed to be how much you can relate to him, and I've never really been able to. When I started reading him as a teenager, he was a 30-something married dude. When I revisited the classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko/John Romita stuff, I found a lot to like about the stories and even about Spidey, but when it came to Peter Parker, I wasn't a science prodigy and I didn't get stuffed in lockers, so again, I couldn't relate.

(And that's not to say everybody who relates to/likes Spider-Man is some sort of bespectacled loser, I'm just sayin' he wasn't what I was looking for).

On the flipside of the spectrum, you've got Green Lantern, more specifically Hal Jordan. Again, big fan of GL and particularly of a lot of the work my good friend Geoff Johns has done with Hal and friends, but the character himself is way too much of an alpha male for a joe average like me to be able to put myself in his shoes. I mean, the guy was selected to be a super hero out of everybody on Earth because he's completely fearless, honest, etc. I'm scared of everything!

(My favorite Green Lantern has always been Kyle Rayner, mostly because he reminds me of Nova, something his creator, Ron Marz, once admitted was probably subconsciously in his head, but I digress...)

Current Nova writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning actually wrote an awesome passage in the recent Nova Annual #1 in which Rich Rider's predecessor as Nova, Rhoman Dey, explains to Rich why he was chosen to be the new Nova that, for me, encapsulated why I will always relate better to Rich than to Hal:

You are ordinary. You are also loyal, trustworthy and plainspoken. You re an average young man from an average life. The Corps always recruits individuals who best represent the typical qualities of their species. We find they make the very best Centurions. They bring no arrogance or pride with them, no self-importance or elitism. They understand the responsibility. They appreciate the trust. They embrace the duty.

Not a genius, not a fearless idol; just an average guy who does his best. That's Nova and that's somebody I can relate to (and look up to...even though he's fictional).

For Nova-rama part two, (hopefully) soon I will scan in and show off for the first time online in its entirety my semi-famous Nova sketchbook, which includes work from the likes of Jim Lee, Ethan Van Sciver, Darick Robertson, Mike Perkins and many more.

But in the mean time, go buy some Nova comics. One of these days, Marvel's gonna give me a commission.

Enter the Purdin

For those of you have been following the Cool Kids Table (or CKT) all the way since its inception last night, you may have noticed some changes over on the right hand side of the page. Where there was one author, me, there are now two, as my buddy Rickey Purdin has pulled up a seat. I'll let Rickey do a full intro of himself if he so chooses, but here's the quick 411.

I met Rickey back in the halycon days of 2005. I was still a bright-eyed research assistant for Wizard Entertainment when in my tiny "office" (which was a little alley in between an actual office and the bathroom with a couple folding tables and some Macs) I gained a wild and crazy Texan neighbor who had been hired on as price guide assistant to then-Wizard PG editor Ryan "Boss" Penagos (ironically, I now assist Ryan on Marvel.com). I had heard tell of this boisterous new chap from his unheard of two stints as a Wizard intern, but little could prepare me for his infectious positivity and love of feces jokes. We bonded over our shared enthusiasm for our rad jobs and I have been fortunate enough to call him friend ever since.

Today, Rickey actually lives down the street from me in Jersey with his girlfriend, Sam. We take the train into New York City together and then go our separate ways at Penn Station, me heading off to Marvel and he off to our chief rivals, DC Comics, in a quirky reality show/sitcom moment.

In addition to being a dope writer and all around cool guy, Rickey is an immenseley talented artist, who most recently worked on the Diary strip for Wizard (a few of which can still be seen here).

Hopefully Rickey will soon be gracing this blog with his wit and art and will be the first of many great additions to this eden of creativity (too much? F you, it's my blog).

Also, for visual reference, Rickey is the face trying to lick mine in the picture over in the top right corner. The face he is trying to lick is me. We are both happily involved with women.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It Begins!

Hello and welcome to the Cool Kids Table.

Now you may be asking yourself, "Self, why is this blog called 'The Cool Kids Table?'" (And no, after 10 years I still don't find that bit to be going out of style)

Well, there are two reasons I can give you. Let's go choose your own adventure style...

1-After years of being on the fringe, myself and my friends, the "geeks" who read comic books and all that entails (which for me and many of my circle means drawing a paycheck for a job having something to do with aforementioned comics), have become the ordained "tastemakers" of pop culture, thanks to the mainstream success of super hero and sci fi movies, etc. Thanks to the ever-increasing "Geeks rule" mentality of society, we have become the cool kids!

2-I am of the self-assured sort and have considered myself and my running buddies cool long before the rest of you yahoos caught up.

It's probably a combo of both, but regardless, it's the first name I thought of and it fit.

Anyhow, if you've made it this far (or, to be fair, if you clicked on the link that brought you here), you can see that I have started a blog.

Who am I? Again, the fact that you're here indicates you'll probably skip over this part, but for the hundreds of people I don't know who I accepted Facebook friend requests from to appear more popular, here's the nut graph:

My name is Ben Morse. I'm a 26-year old white dude originally out of the Boston area who currently lives in scenic Saddle Brook, New Jersey with my lovely fiancee Megan. After graduating from Connecticut College in 2004, I did three years at Wizard Magazine (the one-time Guide to Comics), one as a research assistant and then two as a staff writer, before signing on for my current job as an assistant editor at Marvel Comics helping run the Marvel.com web site. I enjoy Nova the Human Rocket, Melrose Place, the Boston Red Sox, professional wrestling, 80's hair metal, any movie with Matt Damon in it and many other things I hope to write about here. I'm lactose intolerant (just won't stand for it) and color blind. I've got two artificial ligaments in my left shoulder from my glory days wrestling in high school. I don't really drink anymore, but I indulge pretty much any entertainment guilty pleasure without feeling any shame because life's too short.

From the Naked Trojans (we'll get to them) to the 7SV (maybe not), I've been fortunate to have been surrounded for years by good friends who also happen to be creative, talented and entertaining folks. Many of them have blogs where they post their art, their thoughts, their reviews, their ramblings, etc. Thusly, this blog.

I'm not sure how frequently I'll use this thing. Given my track record, there will probably be multi-post days and then weeks where I'll go MIA. In short, I will rock the blogosphere like a hurricane: inconsistently but awesomely.

I'm also hoping to be joined by some guests from time to time who I've told are welcome to use this forum as a showcase for their art and opinions. If the Internet is L.A., hopefully this joint will be like te Tropicana back when it was cool.

But while you're waiting for me to get busy, lemme recommend some of my amigos' blogs where you can find radness and mirth this very minute:

-Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, the homebase of Yale-educated Wizard alum Sean T. Collins, the dude so smooth he stole Mr. T's last name and used it for his middle initial

-Rowdy Schoolyard, the irreverent sketch blog of Dave Paggi, Kiel Phegley and Rickey Purdin

-Kickin' It Old School, the official soapbox of ToyFare editor T.J. Dietsch

-And, of course, you can never, EVER go wrong with Marvel.com, the very best comics coverage on the net

Ok, so that should keep y'all sufficiently busy while I concern myself with putting something other than this up here for you to read.

See you in six months*!

(*Kidding...I hope)