Thursday, January 19, 2017

Are You A Bore?!?

A fair question:

Wow, I should send away for that.

This ad was in Archie Annual #26 (1975). But lest you suspect this was some fly-by-night operation, they were still peddling the same spiel 15 years later:

That one was in the classified section of the Chicago Tribune (May 13, 1990). Almost identical language...without the odd art. Although note that they've moved their mail drop from Illinois to New Jersey...

So thank you, Career Institute, for helping generations of poor talkers to not talk so poorly!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Still, It's Better Than Cars. Or Cars II. Or Cars III. Or...

Inspiration for Wall-E?

BTW, far be it from me to criticize a picture everyone else loves for more than I, but Wall-E completely blows it thematically. After 90 minutes of railing against consumerism, it turns out that Wall-E is saved only because he practiced that same consumerism. If he doesn't collect and value that junk, he doesn't get his memory/personality restored at the end. So all that garbage that destroyed the Earth that the movie condemns is really the deus ex machina that gives the movie a happy ending, and consumerism is suddenly good.

I'm just sayin.'

The cover of Fantastic Stories of Imagination (March 1964) is by Paula McLane

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Your Tax Dollars At Work--Consumer Comix!!

And then there was that time a state government teamed up with an underground comix company to protect consumers:

No, really:

You'll need to click to embiggen that, but you'll see this is a joint publication of the Wisconsin Department Of Justice and Krupp Comics Works, which was the on-paper "parent group" of Kitchen Sink Comics. Which, in 1975, was like totally underground comics!!

No snark here, because really, this is actually pretty cool, and a lot more effective than other government-published comics.

Take, for example, this tale on how to deal with the scourge of the 1970s--evil door-to-door pot and pan salesman!!

This is The Man--sticking it to The Man!!

Other tales warned us of the perils of unscrupulous auto repair:

Credit scams that result in consumers paying a lot more:

Weight loss scams:

Unethical car salesmen:

The horrors of Columbia House et al:

Fly-by-night "educational" businesses:

...and more I'm too lazy to show you!

See, this is what these government/comic collaborations should be: important information without being (too) preachy, entertaining, a little more hip than most...Well done, people!

Consumer Comix was published in 1975

I'm Sure This Happens To All The Heroes!

Jay Garrick is running up a building to catch escaping thief Rag Doll...

Cue the soft jazz and dim the lights!!

Oh, admit it--on planets with super-heroes, this is how start, right? It's the Earth-2 equivalent of "hot pizza delivery man," right?

OK, I'm sorry.

From Flash #229 (1974)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Manic Monday Triple Overtime--The Hidden Benefits of Secret Identites!!

In these modern times, the very concept of secret identities have been called in to question. Why have them? Would they even work? Are they ethical?

But most people forget the single most important reason for heroes to have a secret identity: a masochistic desire to have the woman you love insult you to your face, again and again and again:

Oh, snap.

The gentleman (who yes, is indeed a man) is Caius Martius Wheeler, a cop from ancient Rome granted limited flying power by the gods, who was put into suspended animation for 2200 years, and re-awoke in 1940 to fight crime as The Dart.

His secret identity is a teacher of ancient Roman history, and the lady of his desire is fellow teacher Miss Tilbury. Yet she never, ever passes up an opportunity to tell both the Dart and Caius how little she thinks of the teacher:

I'm not even sure why the Dart has a secret identity--since he slept for two millennia, it's not as if he has any loved ones to protect in modern day.

Maybe he just likes the abuse?

Man, there's mild mannered, and there's 50 shades of Caius:

Geez. Even Clark Kent would at least report, and get the story in the paper occasionally. Not milquetoasty Caius...he seems to live for the abuse!

Of course, and maybe this is just me, it's hard to see why he's so attracted to someone who has absolutely no respect for him...

I guess he just needs the eggs.

So that's one solid reason for keeping a secret identity--so the woman you love can continually degrade you to your face!!

From Weird Comics #9-13 (1940-1941)

Manic Monday Bonus--Natasha!

Because some mornings... just need to see Bill Everett drawing the Black Widow kicking ass.

You're welcome.

From Daredevil #81 (1971)

Manic Monday--Who's Cowardly Now?

"I am Batman!! I am the greatest crimefighter ever! I can take down Superman or Darkseid, if pressed!!! I---"

"Good gosh, that guy's using real bullets!!

"Well, maybe I'll just cower back here and let Robin deal with him, while I practice my menacing-looking cape moves! Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Be safe out there, Batman!

From Detective Comics #44 (1940)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why Roger Clemens Would Make A Good Policeman!!

I won't say that Fred Morley is a jerk...

But using your own wife as a hostage to escape from the police? That's pretty scummy, bro!

The sad part is, the plan actually works:

Well, it works until our lead detective remembers his sporting past!

Dude--hitting a fast-moving target dead on? You sure haven't lost your control. Maybe you should try out for the pros!!

However, not shooting because you're afriad you might hurt the hostage is kind of a moot point when you cause the fast moving car she's in to plung into a gully!! No chance she'd be hurt that way, none at all, right!!

The moral? Maybe the police should carry rocks and baseballs, and keep the guns holstered a little more often...

From Trapped #1 (1954)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Batman's Glass Houses (Plus A Slight Lament)

After many, many false starts, I think that I've finally found the plot for the Batfleck movie:

OK, OK, I kid.

Still, that little synopsis does lead me to another point I'd like to ramble about today--whatever happened to the days when Batman actually fought, you know, crime?

Think about this--in the comics, when was the last time Batman stopped a mugging? Halted a bank robbery? Solved a murder? Answer; it's been years, I think. (Doubtless, I've missed a story or two, so I'm probably talking out my ass here. Just roll with me).

I understand why the movies have to have big, apocalyptic-level threats to Gotham City's very existence. You have to justify those big budgets. And on, say, a television series with 20+ episodes per season, you can justify spending a whole hour investigating a new rock while Worf takes accordion lessons, or whatever. But you don't really have time for that in a movie, and that's not going to convince hoards of fans and civilians to plop down ten bucks plus popcorn and soda. So you have to make the movie BIG. I get it.

But in the comic books? The Dark Knight Detective has been missing for quite awhile. Every single arc has Batman trying to save Gotham from being actually destroyed by maniacs who used to be satisfied pulling off a keen heist that baffled Batman.

Look, I don't expect everyone to share my interpretation of the Caped Crusader--after all, I'm not allowed to write comics. But the way I see the character, Bruce Wayne was motivated by the tragic death of his parents, and vowed to stop crime and prevent anyone else from being orphaned. So every time he runs off to Santa Prisca, or takes off for another shirtless battle with Ra's Al Ghul, there's no one there to stop the next family that wanders down the wrong alley--so Batman has kind of lost the mission.

Of course there is room for multiple types of stories, and multiple interpretations of Batman. But of late, we've veered far, far away Batman the crime fighter to 100% Batman the super-hero and international conspiracy fighter.

It's been trending this way for quite awhile. Hell, during Morrison's run--when this trend really got locked in--he had the Black Glove group essentially "end crime" in Gotham, so Bruce Wayne would lose his edge and be vulnerable to Jezebel Jet's infiltration. (I would never critique Grant Morrison's writing, so I won't mention that having a group of villains accomplish what Batman himself never could means his entire career was a failure. And that having the only new character in the arc turn out to be a traitor is stunningly lazy and unoriginal. I would never mention that. Nope.) So there was nothing for Batman to do except to fight villains for the sake of fighting villains! And then it was on to Batman Incorporated, which was all international-man-of-mystery-Batman all the time, fighting secret international organizations and planetary threats rather than, you know, fighting crime.

Another part of the problem is the continuing upward spiral in the powers and abilities of Batman's rogues gallery. This was an inevitable consequence of the continuing upward spiral of Batman's "awesomeness." Once you've had your hero able to defeat Superman and beat Darkseid, once you've had him knock out Solomon Grundy with just one punch (yes, that actually happened), well, how the hell can Riddler or Two-Face or anyone prove to be an actual threat? So then you have to ramp up the villains. (Which should turn out to be quite a problem for the Batfleck movie, I would think...)

So, in recent years, especially under Scott Snyder, the Riddler becomes a genocidal super-genius, who kills tens of thousands of Gotham citizens and holds the entire city prisoner for over a year. Two-Face isn't just a schizoid madmen who kills and steals--he's a master manipulator who has enough blackmail information to make every single person in Gotham, hero or villain, do his bidding--including Alfred and Commissioner Gordon! Mr. Freeze? He wants to unleash a virus locked in the Arctic ice that will decimate the world's population. And the Joker? Well, he turns out to have a "rare natural component" in his spinal fluid that allows him to mass produce a virus that turns everyone in Gotham into Jokers. And he now has healing powers that rival Wolverine. And...

And the whole time, not once is a thought turned to, you know, preventing crime. Protecting that family from that mugger. I guess that's not a big enough story anymore.

No, I like my Batman best as a "street level" hero. A supremely confident and tough street level hero, to be sure. Can you picture, just by comparison, taking Daredevil on the same type of spiraling arc, so he never fights crime anymore? That's one of the things that's leaves me so lukewarm on Slott's Spider-Man--it's all international super-hero adventuring, and Peter Parker seemingly never has time to worry about burglars. Sorry, future potential Uncle Ben's, you're on your own now (again)!

And hell, go ahead and Bruce him in the Justice League--no, in two different Justice Leagues now!! That cat's been out of the bag for decades. But in Batman's own books, don't lose sight of his origins, of his mission. Realize that maybe, just maybe, the pendulum has gone too far. And instead of constantly trying to push it further and further in the same direction, let it swing back--maybe just for a little while?

And that's why I'm not allowed to write comic books.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Night Fights--Super-Skrull Style!!

It's SS vs. SS in tonight's Friday Night Fights!!

The Silver Surfer is on his way to Earth for an errand...

God, I hate that pretentious dork.

Anyway, the Van Allen belts flair up, and there, revived from allegedly being dead, is--

Well, they chill awhile, chatting about how the Super-Skrull managed to survive this time, when...



Sadly, the Eternals, on a mission for the High Evolutionary, intervened before the Skrull could finish the Surfer for good...

Spacebooger misses those events that took place across all of a company's annuals.

The Silver Surfer gets only 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of what he deserves in Silver Surfer Annual #1 (1988), by Steve Englehart, Joe Staton and Joe Rubinstein

Now is the time for you to go and vote for my fight. Why? Because, sadly, the Super-Skrull is as close as we're going to get to seeing the Fantastic Four these days. So go vote!!