Saturday, November 26, 2005

Give Thanks for Jimmy Olsen's Absence

I am thankful I do not have a pal like Jimmy Olsen.

Or know anyone like Jimmy Olsen. Or even believe that anyone like Jimmy Olsen exists.

Because that would cause me to shoot them, violating my personal code against killing, and sending me to prison for life, where I would have to barter with prison guards for my supply of comic books. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.

Thanksgiving with your family

I'm thankful Superman isn't my cousin.

Because let me tell you, he is CREE - PY with a capital "CREE"!

Here he is putting the moves on Kara, who's so mortified by his impropriety and terrified of his power that her eyes bug out and her jaw drops. Careful, S-girl! Leave that mouth open and a superfast tongue just might steal your superbreath away!

"However," Superman continues in the next panel. "There's nothing in Kryptonian law about cousins having wild screaming monkey sex, is there? And we are in Antarctica; it's not like we're going to wake the neighbors! Why don't you just put on your little brown wig with the pigtails that I bought you..."

Thankful for Real Octopi

I'm thankful that I never had to watch as I lost my lover to the arms of sweet sweet octopus love.

I'm also thankful that octopi don't look anything monocular parrots, because that would be truly terrifying and I would never go near the ocean again.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I'm thankful that Superman is no longer allowed to take young boys to Turkish steam baths in the hope that, sweaty and desirous of his approval, they'll ask him to look down their pants.

Because I always found that sort of thing so hard to justify to my non-comic-book-reading friends.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving with Mr. Rolly Polly

I'm thankful I don't work for Perry White.

I'm thankful I don't work for a cigar-chomping, irascible, unreasonable tyrant, who is, on top of all that, clearly as crazy as a bedbug.

Setting aside the fact that he's forcing his Pulitzer winning reporters to do push-ups together ... "Mr. Rolly Polly"? Is that how the editor of a great metropolitan newspaper talks?

Mr. Rolly Polly (or "Roly Poly" which is how that phrase is usually spelled) could be the personification of weight gain. Or a rotund and deceptively jolly supervillain. Or a blubberous monster that haunts Perry's dreams and must be kept at bay through repetitive ritual behaviors, one of the 117 "invisible friends" that populate Perry's seriously disturbed brain and who looks something like the photo above.

Maybe Mr. Rolly Polly is Perry's nickname for part of his anatomy and he's making a veiled sexual threat to get his employees to follow his lunatic commands; I wouldn't put it past the old coot.

My only question is:
who is the hot guy staring down Lois's dress?


Have a Super Thanksgiving!

The events of Infinite Crisis #2 have brought me to a new and deep appreciation for just how inspiring the pre-Crisis Superman was. So, who better than he to help us realize how much we have to be thankful for?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, nay, SUPERthanksgiving, the Absorbascon will focus this long holiday weekend on just a few of the many things that Superman makes us be thankful for.

Here's one now.

I'm thankful Dr. Wertham is not alive to see this panel:

Heck, I'm thankful Dr. Wertham's not alive period.

I'm also thankful that some trampy horned up farmgirl isn't holding a ladle in front of her breast and offering me milk, and that I'm not as desperately lonely and depraved as whoever drew this panel.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Franchise Sings Out!

Big Monkey Comics Radio (formerly known as "SuperHero Radio") is proud to announce the acquisition of some songs from The Franchise.

They've been kind enough to give us a live recording of their song "Superhero", as performed at Washington DC's famous "Black Cat" nightclub. It's now in rotation and being aired on BMCRadio. When the studio version is done (soon), we'll put that up, too.

Superhero (barak/kaye)

CHORUS: I want to be a superhero and wear my underwear on the outside I want to be a superhero The kind evildoers can’t abide

I’ll go to the laboratory To get a chemical spill
If that doesn’t work, Then the radiation certainly will


I’ll build a secret lair At the bottom of a really long stair
And I’ll do experiments there About making muggers learn to care


I’ll work at a newspaper For a tyrannical boss
And I’ll report on how My career’s a total loss


When we get a better version of their song "Rorshach", we'll air that, too!.

And remember, if you, your band, or your friend's band has a superhero-themed song, just send it to us here at the Absorbascon and we'll see to it it's played on Big Monkey Comics Radio.

The Unloved

In discussions about "Character Donations" and what characters should be revived and which forgotten, I've been told more than once: "Remember, every character is someone's favorite."

To which I say...

Balderdash. Poppycock. Piffel.

Now, I understand the sentiment. I, myself, have an appreciation for some characters that many people do not (fools! the utter fools!).

I guess some people's minds just aren't strong to handle the glories of the like of Vibe, the Golden Age Starman, the Penny Plunderer, and THE AWESOME HUMAN FLYING FISH. Their loss!

And when such people prattle on about how such characters are "lame" (usually without any elaboration as to what that means) I can't help but warm up the uzi. So I understand the sentiment ... in principle.

But come now. Halo? Kadaver? Penny Dreadful? The Yazz? Cobalt Blue? Sleez? Any of the 427 crappy characters created by Threat to Society Mike W. Barr? These are not anyone's favorite characters -- not outside Arkham, anyway.

A character does not need to be anyone's favorite to be a legitimate and useful addition to the DCU. But there should be limits, don't you think? And if so, what are they?

Confess! What characters do YOU love that you get made fun of for loving? I promise not to say a word!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Morrisonian Haiku

You all think I'm crazy, don't know? I hear you whispering about me. But it's true, I tell ya -- writers intentionally have their heroes speak in Heroic Haiku, knowing that, subconsiously, we'll perceive them as more heroic that way. The Dalai Lama told me so.

Besides, you think things like THIS happen accidently?

  • You misunderstand.
  • I'm here to help you with that.
  • Blow the hatch, Quintum!

Courtesy of Grant Morrison in All-Star Superman 1 (thanks to Jeff R for pointing it out).

As we all know, if Grant Morrison posted his grocery shopping list on the internet, within 24 hours fans would have it anagrammed into a subtle social satire on the commercialization of art leading to the commodification of ideas.

So, Morrisonians, what haiku can you compose to explicate or reply to Superman's heroic haiku?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Comic Book Irony

I mention "Comic Book Irony" a lot, and someone has finally asked me to explain what I mean. Note particularly 2a in the definition below (American Heritage):
  • 1a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
  • b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
  • c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.
  • 2a. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: “Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated” (Richard Kain).
  • b. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.
Comic books teem with quiet irony. Well, mostly not so quiet. For example, see the panel above; in case you didn't get it, Catwoman's getaway being tripped up by a cat is IRONIC! If you don't notice it yourself, the narration panel points it out; if you skip that, Batman himself points it out for you. Jeez, you'd think they were writing for kids or something.

Here's another, one we've shared before: Death by Kryptonite Monkey. Poor clark; nothing's more embarrassing than having your obituary read "died of Kryptonite monkey related causes." Still, it would have given Beppo a FABulous "I shall avenge you!" scene; ah, well.

"Death by Kryptonite Monkey" is a multi-layered irony (unlike the simple cat-tripping irony above). Instead of dying glorious in battle saving Lois, Metropolis, the world, or the universe, Kal-El is about to die as Clark Kent face down in the dirt in some dark, forgotten corner of a public zoo (what kind of place IS Metropolis, anyway?).

Furthermore, his death is entirely accidental; the monkey isn't trying to kill him, no one is trying to use the monkey to kill him. In further irony, Luthor, who's been trying to kill Superman since God was a corporal, doesn't kill him. Supes is killed by an irradiated monkey abandoned from one of Luthor's experiments with kryptonite, and Luthor knows nothing about it and never would.

This is the PERFECT death for Superman. With all due deference to Alan Moore (oh, wait; I'm not allowed to use his name, am I?) this should have been "The Last Superman Story".

Both panels show another aspect of comic book irony: the characters are aware of it, and note it to others or themselves in no uncertain terms. Try it yourself and you'll see why they do it; find the opportunity to say "irony of ironies" to someone at least once a week. It's fun.

The comic book medium is so thoroughly saturated with irony, that we take it for granted, like fish who can't see the water. Peter Parker lets a robber escape because it's no business of his, then the robber kills his uncle. Delicate fop Ted Knight is the ubervirile Starman. The world's strongest man is a mild-mannered milksop. Apathetic playboy Bruce Wayne is the grim caped crusader. Two-Face becomes the very thing that destroyed Harvey Dent-- a gangster with a two-headed coin. Wonder Woman champions peace by beating the crap out of people. Slowpoke Barry Allen becomes the world's fastest man. The universe's most powerful weapon is run by the universe's least powerful brain. Oh, the comic book irony!

When I went to see M. Night Shamalyan's two films, "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakble", I knew the 'surprise' ending of each film about 7 minutes into the movie. My non-comic book reading friends were nonplussed; "how on EARTH did you figure that out so soon?" they stuttered.

Please! "And it turned out... I was one of them, too!" is the ending of at least 47 different EC horror stories. An ironic ending is what comic book readers expect; I didn't even understand that the endings were SUPPOSED to be suprises until my friends told me so. Oh, you mean, we weren't supposed to realize the guy with the bizarre disability, with a matching knickname given by cruel children, and wearing a purple outfit is the villain? Yeesh!

But if irony -- an incongruous, unexpected outcome -- is what we've come to expect in comic books, then is it still irony?