So unique is the comic book medium and the superhero genre, there are things people say in comics that you're not likely to read anywhere else.
In fact, during some periods, most of what comic book characters say isn't something you'd hear or read anywhere else. Unless the book is by Brian Michael Bendis, in which case the dialog could resemble any conversation you might overhear between two dim-witted and severely hard of hearing people trapped in a broken elevator.
"I said, 'push it'."
"The button. Which button?"
"What do you mean 'which button'? Any button."
"What good will that do?"
"I don't know. Just push it."
"Why don't you?"
"Why don't I what?"
But I'm here today not to damn the prosaic but to praise the dynamic, specifically, the prose of the Silver and Bronze Ages.
I'm accepting nominations from you, the loyal readership, so please dig out your favorite nugget and submit it. The rules are as follows:
- It must be from the Silver or Bronze Ages (meaning between the years 1955 and 1986, after the appearance of the Silver Age Flash and before the original Crisis).
- It must be from a word balloon or thought balloon; narration boxes are not eligible.
- It may be more than one sentence, but not more than one panel's worth of the balloons.
- If possible, tell us who said it and in what comic.
- Explication of the virtues of your nominee will be appreciated.
- Preference will be given to quotes that are intrinsically stupid or bizarre, and not merely odd-sounding because they are deprived of context.
This will be an on-going project and once I've gathered enough submissions, we'll have a poll to determine the top Silver/Bronze Age quotes. If I get lots of submissions, I may sort them into categories; we'll see.
To give you a flavor of what I'm looking for, let's start with some of my own nominations:
1. "A manganese paravane! Because there's no time for anything else!" Metamorpho.
There's just an entire world of assumptions and enigmas wrapped up in this little package. Who thinks in terms of paravanes, let alone refers to them the way you and I would a paper clip or a coathanger? Why choose magnanese to make one? Is it one of the principal exports of Bolivia or I am confusing it with bauxite? Why does it take less time to turn oneself into a manganese paravane than anything else?
Metamorpho stories are full of such bizarre chestnuts and this one pretty much represents them all.
2. "Jonathan is a quiet-spoken young farmer who loves the girl, but he's getting severe competition from Gregg Halliday, a handsome smooth banker, who recently arrived in Smallville. The pity of it is that the banker is really a swindler who has hidden stolen bonds in a secret hiding place inside that statue of himself." Jor-El.
In most fiction, exposition is the coffee that helps keeps the plot zipping along. But the Silver Age didn't drink coffee; it drank only dark roast Columbian triple espressos with 8 packs of raw cane sugar per demitasse. There's more action represented in this one word balloon than in issues 0, 1, & 2 of the new Justice League of America and more questions raised than at a Marvel stockholders meeting. Why does Gregg spell his name with an extra G; is he actually from the planet Carggg? Where does Jor-El find time in his busy schedule of doom-warning to spy on Kansasites? Do alien cultures lack telenovellas, and instead use some impossible translight observational technology to watch The Real World: Earth, and, if so, are they secretly responsible for Judd Winick's continued employment?
Oh, and, of course, twenty-something bankers recently arrived in small farming communities who've already erected FRAKKING STATUES OF THEMSELVES IN TOWN. It's remarkable how often statues are a plot device in Silver and Bronze age stories....
3. "To prove how much I love you, I'm feeding the ostrich my old Superman pictures." Lois Lane.
That's how I always prove my love: by feeding pictures of my old boyfriends to ostriches. No one phrase could adequately represent the absurdity of the entire French Farce/ Love Polygon approach to the Superman mythos that was the Silver Age. But this comes close.
4. "What's that, Commissioner? A caveman -- sheathed in ice -- flying over the city? We'll be there right away!" Batman.
As previously discussed.
Anyway, you get the idea. Nominations are now being accepted!