Friday, May 22, 2009
is really the final straw. In case you can't access that link, I'm referring to this:
In this third issue, Bo aids Lockjaw, Lockheed, Redwing, Hairball, the new Frog Thor, and more super-hero companions in their quest for the Infinity Gems, which will lead the team to the bottom of the ocean and bring them face-to-furry-face with Giganto.
Retailers have witnessed firsthand the kind of attention a comic can receive when associated with the word “Obama.” The mainstream press had a spotlight on Bo even before he stepped paw in the White House, and adults and children alike remain infatuated with the First Dog, so make sure you order ample copies of the third issue.
Joe Quesada, I call thee harlot. Marvel, I damn thee as a whore.
Look, I own a comic book store, so I'm certainly empathetic with the desire to sell comics. But, really, Marvel. The president's dog?! That's just not right.
You want to know why people don't respect superhero comics? It's not just because they are fantastical in nature. It's because of things like Tim Gunn wearing the Iron Man Suit ("This glowing area, Tony; this worries me. Is this really practical? Attention-grabbing, yes, but have you thought about how well it will wear?").
Now, I know DC can occasionally indulge in such pop culture dalliances (ahem, Superman versus Muhammed Ali, anyone?), but Marvel is a much more serious and frequent offender. DC's a classy lady who sometimes has too many martinis and abandons her virtue for an evening to a smooth-talking beau. Marvel's a crack-whore wandering the street night and day looking for the next loudly-dressed passing fad to feature; "Hey, wanna me to put you inside my pages? All it costs is your dignity!"
Ever hear how Marvel got stuck with Dazzler, the Roller Disco Diva? Remember Razorback, with his mutant power of super-truckdriving from the CB radio era? And those are just a few fads. The list of shameless uses of real-world personalities to bolster sales or make Marvel stories "more realistic" is nearly endless. The awful, terrible, and vaguely racist back-up story in Spider-Man 583 where President Obama is used in a story ripped off from an old Booster Gold comic book is just one of the most notable examples.
Am I being snooty in my pretentions for superhero comics? Is it self-deceiving to think that my favorite part of pop culture should hold itself aloof from other parts of pop culture?
But there is an objective problem with Marvel doing this sort of thing. Unlike most of the pop culture references it's making, the Marvel universe (or any other comic book world) is ideally an on-going enterprise. Its characters outlive (one hopes) the fads and personages who are intruded into its world from ours. But every time a "Tim Gunn" meets an Iron Man, a story and everything in its pinned to a point in time like a butterfly stabbed with a pin. In DC's fast and loose "continuity of the week" environment this is less painful; as long as the story is never referred to again, it doesn't really exist. But Marvel and its fans are famously slavish to their continuity. The combination of dated cultural references and guest-stars with an iron-clad continuity fetish is irreconcible and deadly... .
Marvel began as Timely, and tries to be timely still. But when you live by the sword you die by the sword. And if Marvel's characters seem less iconic and timeless than DC's, it's partly because Marvel is more interested in getting icons to appear with their characters than getting their characters to appear as icons.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
As we've long since learned, heroes like to show their mettle not just by saving the innocent, protecting society, and stopping evildoers. They like to do those things while spouting haiku.
Why? Because they can.
Or, at least, some of them can. Interstellar dullard Hal Jordan probably couldn't command his ring to compose a haiku for him, and can only understand 575 as the sector where that brick-shaped Green Lantern is stationed or some kind of new plane he's yet to wreck.
By contrast, Barry Allen is an ingenious scientist, the kind who invents revolutionary expandable micro-fiber costumes, casually and off-panel. I mean, even the Spectre had to sew himself a costume.
No wonder these two police officers made such a natural comedic duo in the Silver Age, Barry the brainy, low-key stone-faced straight-man and Hal the brain-dead, accident-prone, eye-rolling slapstick comedian. Barry and Hal are the Tango and Cash of the DCU.
So, while Barry is analyzing the evidence at a murder scene that could threaten all the speedsters of the DCU, Hal is all "hey, let's go to a party tonight and I'll ring up lampshades for everybody!"
Barry puts Hal in his place with a firm haiku, as if to say, "Wally, like you, you moron, is merely a tool in my personal fight against crime. For I am the crimson-hued avenger, I am the lightning bolt that illuminates the dark night of crime, I am the Batman of the Mid-West. Particularly now that I'm driven by my heretofore unmentioned father's false imprisonment for murdering my mother." Not that Hal would notice, of course...
He'll know how to deal with this
better than I would.
What haiku can you, my brainy, low-key, stone-faced readers, compose to honor Barry's return or condemn Hal's density?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Pep Comics heroes do not mess around, boy.
If you are an evildoer they will not waste time in fisticuffs or badinage. They will not trouble to take you to the police. They will not have harsh words with your parole officer or your parents.
They will simply chain you in a pit, and set a crushing, oily iron swastika on top of you. Then they'll set it on fire.
And just stand there and watch.
Do not mess with Pep Comics heroes.