Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Shield: Who He Is, and How He Came to Be

How does it begin, the glory that is the Shield?

With the least modest intro ever.

I bet Stan Lee's kicking himself for not thinking of this first.
"I'll rewrite the National Ant'hum to inclood Spiduh-Man's name!"

Our story begins in 1916, with the Shield's dad, an army intelligence officer, Lieutenant Higgins. Lt. Higgin's own intelligence is clearly directed forward, beyond the present and into the future. Although he's foresighted enough to already be wearing the fashions of three decades into the future, he's oblivious enough not to notice that his "superior" is actually a delusional (and rather effete) member of the Salvation Army.

"Further, you will procure for me a soft pretzel, lightly salted, no mustard. Good man."

Tom Higgins, you always know what to say: "Yes". You always say yes to anyone with a badge, or a flag... .

Anyway, like most junior army officers, Tom's also a cutting-edge biochemist.

Oh, how Colonel Pince-Nez would be displeased. You know, Tom, you were supposed to go to the Jersey Shore, not make immediately for your laboratory, where it looks like you employ your underage, unsupervised son in the mixing of highly volatile chemicals, in flagrant violation of several laws that didn't yet exist in 1916.

Thus did the young Shield invent the Flaming Pomegranate Cosmo,
that would one day put the fire in "Fire Island".

Actually, this is Joe Higgins IV. Tom's previous sons are dead (Joe I died from sulphuric asphyxiation, Joe II was reduced to handful of dried chemicals caused by Hantzsch pyridine synthesis, and Joe III experienced what the coroner could only deem "spontaneous combustion").

Meanwhile, his dad works to adapt Red Bull as a personal lubricant.

"Let's see, two quarts of Altoids cut with Viagra,
dissolved in a solution of two parts Moxie to one part absinthe..."

Suddenly, the smell of absinthe reminds Tom of his assignment on the Jersey shore...

"You do that, son, because if that suspension is allowed to separate, the components will spark a plasma explosion, vaporizing the apartment and probably a good chunk of Widow Haggerty's place next door. See you soon!"

Of course, instead of going to the Jersey Shore, the easily distracted Tom makes immediately for Georgetown, where he (like every other man) is stalked by Middle Eastern clothiers...

Really. Do NOT go clothes shopping in Georgetown, if you value your life, 'cuz those Middle-Eastern clothiers mean business, and they're armed with shoe trees...

"In the back seat, we have there suits just your size,
you will love the fit, and, for you, a special deal!"

Later, at the Haberdashery of Ambush, Tom escapes out the window while they're having his jacket altered:
Now we know where the Shield gets it from: apparently, the nervous habit of bursting into song at highly inappropriate moments (formally, Ethelmermania, or, colloquially, "Broadway Tour-ette's Syndrome") is genetic. The really gay among you may recognize Tom's little ditty from Act 2 of Cy Coleman's Defenestration Follies of 1940.



SallyP said...

Can't...type...laughing...too hard!

This is 19161 Why aren't those men wearing spats!

Harvey Jerkwater said...

A better question: this is 2008 -- why aren't we?

Anonymous said...

"Haberdashery of Ambush."

Comedy gold.

Billy said...

"The really gay among you may recognize Tom's little ditty from Act 2 of Cy Coleman's Defenestration Follies of 1940."


George S. said...

This busted my gut. Thanks a lot, sirs. Now I have to sit through a belly stitching.

Honestly, while I'm starting to value golden age gems like these, I can't help but notice how much these stories feel like the writers wing it as they go along.

"...and then...and then...he'll BUST through the window...uhm...uh...bursting into SONG! That's right! Genius!"

Guys' Guy said...

Wow that's some close range butt shooting!

Derek said...

If the Shield doesn't burst into song at inappropriate times when he shows up in Brave and the Bold, I shall be very disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post! From now on, Ethelmermania is officially in my lexicon.

And any use of the word defenestration is welcome to me (and I've seen it used surprisingly often in recent years). I partially credit Patrick McGoohan for helping repopularizing it in his portrayal of Edward Longshanks in Braveheart. Not to mention Christopher Walkin in Batman Returns.

-Citizen Scribbler

Josh said...

A Middle Easter haberdasher in Georgetown sold me a eighty dollar shirt last June. Another told me how terrible it must be for me to live in Philly with all the "black guys" in high political office. Damn them all.

Scipio said...

Josh, any man who's been to Georgetown knows I'm not making this stuff up!

ONLY $80? Must have been a special deal, just for you, because it looks so nice for you...

Anonymous said...

Holy Invisible Commander-in-Chief!

What comic is this from?!

Scipio said...

Pep Comics No. 1, January 1940.