July 26th, 2005

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Shuttle Discovery, Take Two

(This post may look familiar...but there are a few differences.)

If all goes well today (and please, God, let it all go well today), at 10:39 AM EDT the space shuttle Discovery will launch, returning NASA's shuttle program to space after over two years of being grounded since the Columbia tragedy. I remember watching in 1989 when Discovery returned us to space after the Challenger tragedy. I was in college at the time, and I saw the launch on a television set in the Science Center, if I recall correctly. If I can, I'll be watching again today.

Good luck and Godspeed to
Commander Eileen Collins
Pilot James Kelly
Mission Specialist Charles Camarda
Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence
Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi
Mission Specialist Steve Robinson
Mission Specialist Andy Thomas

Take us back to where we belong...and then please return safely home.

(Link: NASA's Return to Flight Page)
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Watching the Launch

gnomi and I were on the phone together as we watched the shuttle launch. She had the NASA feed on her computer at work, I was watching on CNN.

We both held our breath at "Go with throttle up." I'm sure we weren't the only ones.

Of course, now we have a new thing to worry about, when the shuttle finally returns to Earth. But I'm not going to think about that right now...
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FOUND! DC CHALLENGE!

While searching through one of the boxes of comic books we dug out yesterday, I found my collections of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and DC CHALLENGE.

CRISIS is a series that is very well-known in the field, as I've mentioned here before. It was a worlds-shattering storyline, so it's fairly obvious why my teenage self bagged them away very carefully.

But the DC CHALLENGE... Ah. The DC CHALLENGE was a twelve-issue round-robin maxiseries. A different writer/artist team worked on each book, and the premise of the setup was that each issue was supposed to end with a cliffhanger, which the next team had to resolve. Furthermore, if any member of the team was a regular writer of a particular character, they had to avoid using that character in their issue.

I loved this series. It was literally the favorite comic book of my childhood. In fact, if you told me that I was only allowed to keep one comic series from my childhood, this would be the one.

The storyline incorporated dozens of minor characters throughout the DC universe, and the plot twisted around in bizarre ways that made no sense. It was obvious pretty quickly that the story would fit nowhere in DC continuity. But one could see the writers struggling to make the story work, and in the end, even if the story wasn't resolved perfectly, it was obvious that the book was a lot of fun for the creators behind it. (Probably it was a lot of heartache, too, but there it is.)

Sadly for me, most comic fans have forgotten the series or dismiss it as a stunt. I'd love to see DC Comics re-release it as a collected edition, but apparently the market just isn't there. (If anyone out there wants to prove DC wrong, write a letter to them, attention to Editor - Collected Editions. I'd love to see them flooded with requests for it. In fact, I think I'll go write my letter now...)

There's an interesting postscript. Years later, I find myself good friends with bob_greenberger, who was the editor of the book. Bob literally helped put together some of the most memorable stories of my childhood, which means he bears some responsibility for who I am today. (I am sure he is shaking his head as he reads this.)

And, as a second postscript, I routinely read the blog of the man who came up with the idea in the first place: Mark Evanier. He doesn't think it was succesful, but I respectively disagree.

If you want to learn more about the book, see Beek's Books - The DC Challenge! (comicbook reviews).

Now, to go rebag them -- but carefully...