Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?

Mark Waid is about to take over Daredevil, and I certainly hope he can break DD out of this two-decade plus trend of gloom, despair, fatalism, cheap religious allegory, and magic ninjas. Enough of everyone trying to out-Miller Frank Miller!!

And one of the best ways to do that? Let's re-gadgetify Daredevil's billy club!! Because back in ye olden days, it was nay so much just a billy club as a James Bond gadget full of Q-developed gimmicks.

Take, for example, Fantastic Four #40 (1965). Dr. Doom is trying to hunt down a depowered FF, and to that end he's taken control of one of Reed's inventions, the unmanned flying spy drone:

Well, Daredevil is no pushover like Taliban militiamen or Mexican drug lords--he knows how to deals with this--to the billy club!!

Yes, Daredevil had a sniper rifle concealed in his billy club!!! Shades of From Russia With Love!!

Have we ever seen this again?? Couldn't Matt Murdock have used something like this against Bullseye??

But we're not done yet. Later, inside the Baxter Building, Doom is about to nail DD with shrapnel from a self-destructing rocket-probe thingie:

An umbrella telescoping flexi-shield built into the billy club??

Great Scott, is there anything the guy didn't have built in there? A pogo stick? Shark repellant?

So please, Mark Waid, take a lesson from Stan and Jack--enough nihilistic overkill. Make Daredevil fun again. At least let Matt Murdock smile once in awhile! And give him toys!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Night Fights--Out Of Your League Style!!

We've followed a crooked path during this session of Friday Night Fights. Since this is REPEAT-REHASH-REVENGE, we have to re-use a character from the previous week's fight.

So far I've gone from Hulk vs. Sandman to Sandman vs. Spider-Man to Spider-Man versus Daredevil (IN A FAT SUIT!!!!).

Which brings us to this week, wherein we find that sometimes, a street-level hero like Daredevil can get in a little bit over his head.

Before he was a mystical ninja, before everybody he ever knew died or went insane (except Foggy Nelson--we can't ever seem to get rid of that little pisher), before he became the broodiest goddamned hero on the planet, Matt Murdock was a happy-go-lucky, quippy hero--just Spider-Man with a different gimmick, essentially. And then he had to go and hang out with the big boys..

In the famous "Battle For The Baxter Building," the Fantastic Four have lost their powers, and Doctor Doom has taken over the Baxter Building and challenged the FF to a death duel. And while they Four try to get back into the Baxter Building to get one of Reed's doo-dads that will restore their powers, silly Daredevil has to try to keep Doom distracted:

So, distraction has failed pretty miserably. So then Daredevil makes a pretty huge mistake--he tries to engage Doom in hand-to-hand combat:

And Daredevil has to be rescued by by the human Ben Grimm. Yeah, he managed to keep Doomsy distracted, but that was pretty much a total fail, otherwise. No wonder they asked Spider-man to replace Johnny Storm and not Murdock...I guess Daredevil should have stuck to the fat suit...

As Spacebooger has been known to say--don't take a knife to a gun fight.

Stan, Jack and Vince Colletta show that a man has got to know his limitations in Fantastic Four #40 (1965).

OK, OK, I know, this isn't the equal of Daredevil in a fat suit--what could be?--but you should still vote for me this week. Because I don't think I'll be able to find a scene of Doctor Doom fighting someone for next week, so I'd better rack up the wins while I can...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If Only These Guys Had Seen Modern Comics!

Time to get educational on your butts, as Slay Monstrobot brings to you an actual made-for-TV documentary of the evil of crime/horror comics books!

Made in late 1955 for the syndicated series Confidential File, host Paul Coates takes us along on his jeremiad against the funny books and the vague but definitely evil influence they have on the youth of America.

It's half an hour, but well worth your time.

A couple of notes:

*This was filmed after the formation of the Comics Code, but every single comic book Coates shows us is older, at least a year before the Code was formed. Every title they show was canceled well before the documentary aired. Hey, why show current comics when you can whip up a bigger fervor with the old ones that are just laying around?

*Yes, this was directed by THAT Irvin Kershner. I'm not picking on him--just because he directed it doesn't mean he agrees with Coates--but I am amused that a "comics are too graphic and violent and ribald" documentary was directed by the same guy who directed Robocop 2, Empire Strikes Back, and Never Say Never Again.

*No, I have no idea what the "sexual aberration so shocking I couldn't mention even the scientific name on television" was. But damn, I'm dying to find out...(of course, since you couldn't even say the word "pregnant" on TV back then, the bar for what you can't mention is pretty low...)

*I think we can all agree that the true horror was--the way those kids were treating those comics!! OMG, kids, stop rolling those up and shoving them in your pockets and hiding them under wet cardboard in the woods!! Do you have any idea what those are going to be worth?!?!

Hat tip to Blastr (sigh) and SyFy (sigh) for tipping us to this gem. Now, if only you guys could learn to spell? Blastr?? Really??

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two Words

It turns out that every biological, physics, and other scientific question in the universe can be answered with two words.

We start with a mysterious disease plaguing Gotham City. But the mysterious pathogen can't be cured. Why? Because it's "too small" to see with the "most powerful electron microscope in the world," so they can't tell which anti-biotic to use.

Wait a minute, you're saying...that's not how medical treatment works.

Two words, readers: Bob Haney.

So they call in Superman. Why?

Wait a minute, you might protest--that's not how electron microscopes work!! Two words: Bob Haney.

And what does Superman see?

Wait a minute, you exclaim. That's not how microbes work!! Two words, old chums: Bob Haney.

Well, the doctor decides that the only way to kill these "microbes" is to shrink down apply toxins directly to the "germ people", so as to avoid damaging the victims' cells.

Wait a minute, you proclaim! That's not how medicine works. Two words, dear readers: Bob Haney.

But even if they get really really small, the plan wouldn't work, because...

Only atomized particles can be put into a solution to be injected into the human body? Really? Two words: Bob Haney.

So, they call in the Atom, and have the most insane plan ever to make this work:

So the "force field" created by Superman's super-clap will reduce Atom to a powdery molecular form of himself? Yeah, this never happened on House--but House was never written by Bob Haney!!

And you know what?

The stupid plan works! Next step:

I know, I know, it makes not a lick of sense on any level. Just repeat to yourself: Bob Haney.

Meanwhile, Batman is out trying to find the "Typhoid Mary" who has been infecting everyone. And he discovers that each victim had been kissed by Miss Gotham City!!

Unfortunately, Miss Gotham City kicks Batman's ass pretty thoroughly:

Which leads the world's greatest detective to one inescapable conclusion:

Yes, I know that conclusion makes absolutely no sense, and has absolutely no logic. But you know which two words I'm going to say here, don't you? Bob Haney.

And Batman goes on to prove his theory by losing another fight to her, and watching her fall for absolutely no reason onto the third rail in the subway:

Proof?? PROOF?!?!

Now, if you're curious how a microbe turned into human-sized Miss Gotham City, and why her anti-bodies are super-tiny and look like hairy Martian cavemen, and how the heck does a microbe get voted Miss Gotham City anyway, you've come to the wrong book, people, because Bob Haney doesn't dwell on details! (Oh, there is some nonsense about some rock from space--that were "millions of years old, before the Earth formed"--but it's best not to worry about that, because no explanation is really forthcoming)

So it turns out the dunce doctor has completely misdiagnosed everything, and Atom is about to kill the anti-bodies that are actually saving the girl's life! How to stop him??

Well, Superman uses his Kandorian shrink ray to miniaturize himself, but he can't get as small as Atom. But time is running short, and Superman has no time for a microscopic search. So, flying into the girl's body...

Yes, the girl is in critical condition, but Superman squeezes her heart so it beats in Morse Code, sending Atom the message.

Two words, folks: Bob Haney.

You know, people like to talk about how bizarrely fun Axe Cop is, being plotted by a 5-year-old and all. Well, I'm not taking anything away from Axe Cop, because it is great, but Bob Haney has that kid whooped. Because Bob Haney could come up with more bizarre and insane ideas in one issue than a thousand 5-year-olds chained to typewriters and fed only Pixie Sticks and Mountain Dew could come up with in a decade.

All of Bob Haney's teachers and professors hung their heads in shame at their failure to impart basic rules of science to him when they read World's Finest #236 (1976)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Brought To You By Hostess

You know, aside from News Kids On The Block, there are three things I love more than anything else:

*Comic Book rock bands
*Compressed storytelling
*Hostess products

Well, folks, you're about to get all three.

For those not young enough to remember, in the late 70s and early 80s, just about every Marvel and DC comic featured an ad where, in the space of a single page, one of their heroes prevented nefarious villains from doing nefarious thinks by giving them Hostess snacks.

Yes, really.

And while the stories were often childish and poorly (if not bizarrely) written, they were usually drawn by some of the companies' regular artists, and they did feature our favorite heroes. And, most amazingly in this era of decompressed writing for the trades, they featured an actual story (sort of) that was done in one page.

I'm telling you, if DC and/or Marvel were to put out a trade of these things, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Until then, I heartily endorse this site, where Seanbaby provides virtually every superhero Hostess ad ever, along with detailed analysis therein.

But there's one we need to analyze more closely, as true nirvana is reached when you combine the insanity of the Hostess ads with the joyous rapture of faux comic book rock:

You can click to embiggen if you like, but allow me to provide you a guided tour.

First, allow them to set up the story, as "The Three Bottles," who are absolutely no relation to the Four Tops, perform with a new keyboardist:

Then, Batman provides us some exposition, while also laying out his theory of the case:

So, we've gotten more done in two panels than most comics get done in 2 issues these days. I'm just sayin'.

Oh, and please, please please note the musicians who have disappeared: Rich Jaggard, Jim Colorado and Elfish Hipsley.

Oh, subtlety, thy name is Hostess ads.

Fortunately, in the very next panel, we learn the Muse's deadly (?) secret:

....OK. Insane. I grant you that. But more insane than your avergae Bob Haney script? You decide.

Fortunately, Batman isn't phased by the sight of living people being transformed into musical notes and sucked into a synthesizer. Plus, one of the pouches on his utility belt is clearly for snack items:

So once again a sweet tooth is the villain's downfall, as it was in 100% of these ads. Thus enterprises of great pitch and moment see their currents turn awry:

And then, in the capstone, one of the greatest moments in comic book history--The Four Tops The Three Bottles, Mick Jagger Rich Jaggard, Bob Denver Jim Colorado and Elvis Presley Elfish Hipsley sing a rock and roll tribute to Hostess Cup Cakes.

Do you see why I turned out the way I did? Because how could anything, in any other medium, ever come close to that?

This ad was in Hercules Unbound #8 (1976/1977), and surely in many, many other DC Comics as well.