Saturday, August 22, 2009

Clip Week 1

I am out of reach this week for very pleasant reasons. Rather than time-release posts without being to attend to the commentary thereupon, I'm offering a retrospective on some of our favorite topics here. [I've noticed that the labels function on Blogger doesn't always pull everything, which is why I'm not just using that to do so.]

Today's topic is one of our specialties and a bone of contention for many:
The Difference Between DC and Marvel.

The Difference between DC and Marvel, I
The Difference between DC and Marvel, II
Why Gorillas are in Comic Books
Marvel Musings
A Serious Difference between DC and Marvel
The Legion
Thus Stalks the Dazzler
Why Vibe is Nothing Like Dazzler
This Diva, This Monster!
The Absorbascon reads Spider-Man, Again
There's a Skrull in My Sub
Ivory Soap
All that No Longer Glitters
Anti-populist Rant
Marvel gets it and DC doesn't
Cerealized Fiction

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cerealized Fiction

As everyone of my age cohort knows, there is an absolute dividing line that splits us. Unlike divisions over religion, politics, and philosophy, it permits no synthesis, brooks no compromise, and suffers no neutrals. Since the need to maintain a unified polity and veneer of civility are essential to the continuance of our society, we lives our lives in a conspiracy of silence, never speaking of it openly to one another, lest the Western be riven in twain, brother again brother. "Never again," our elders made use swear; "never again," we repeat silently to ourselves and we look at children happily playing with others.

But we all know the truth. We are all, still and forever, on one side or the other:

Quisp or Quake.

For those of you too young to have experienced it, the Quisp/Quake conflict was the defining advertising event of my entire micro-generation. Quisp and Quake were two popular breakfast cereals for kids, similar to Capt'n Crunch, produced by the same company. But no one ate both. you either ate Quisp (named after its strange space creature mascot) or you ate Quake (named after a burly earthling miner).

That's because the commercials, masterfully produced by Jay Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, with Quisp and Quake voiced respectively by his buddies Daws Butler and William Conrad, depicted the two as archrivals. Quisp and Quake hated each other.

Note the use of the voice cast from Dudley Doo-Right, another Jay Ward property.

They appeared in joint commercials and even when they had solo commercials, the rival would often intrude himself, just for spite.

Brilliant as this hook was, it gets better: except for shape, Quisp and Quaker were... the same cereal. Same formula.

Now there are some cynics who say that Quake was never supposed to be a real cereal, that Quake was just a gimmick to drum up sales for the real deal, Quisp. Yeah, then why did Quake get a makeover from being a miner to a cowboy, huh? How do you explain the Orange Horror, huh? Nutcases; these are the same people who think there wasn't a moon landing.

The companies genius didn't end at producing one cereal as if it were two, then marketing them against each other, brilliant though that was. Once the rivalry was solidly established, war was declared. There would be an election among cereal-eaters, and the loser's cereal would be discontinued. The election ran for two years. Naturally, the loser was Quake. Because Quake SUCKED, and Quisp RULED!!!!! Ahem. Although I believe we put it differently in those days.

Quisp and Quake are the dichotomy that symbolizes all other dichotomies. Sky and earth. Speed and strength. Alien and native. Brains and brawn. Gay and straight. The future and the past. Humor and seriousness. Consistency and variability.

The world of comics has its own dichotomy: the "Big Two", as they are called. There are some who'll tell you that there is no difference between them, that the same formula is used to make both. But, they are wrong, because, as we know from Quisp and Quake, tone and form and style are what count; they are remembered, when content is forgotten.

I remember in the 1990s when Marvel was teetering toward bankruptcy. I remember exulting. "Quake" was finally going to lose. The cheery '90s would be no place for Marvel's dark cynicism!

But eventually, I reversed my thinking. Would DC start changing its tone or adding Marvel-ish characters to pick up wandering ex-zombies? Would DC's existing Marvel-style characters start to crowd out its native sons and daughters like Wolverinish weeds? Even worse, would DC buy Marvel's characters and incorporate them into the DCU, like so much trailer-trash left homeless by a financial twister, bringing with them their tawdry domestic disturbances, their raucus in-fighting, their soap operas, their gun-toting yahoos, their cigar-chomping, g-droppin', dullards, and their screeching drag-queen-faced dime-store divas and teenaged tarts? Shudder!

I realized that to keep that from happening DC needed Marvel; I needed Marvel as a gathering place for ... those kinds of characters. Fortunately, Marvel did not go bankrupt because they gave themselves over to crass commercialism; I mean, more crass. As in Hollywood.

Funny thing. Quisp and Quake feuded from 1965-1972. But after the election, Quisp's popularity steadily declined until it was removed from regular grocery shelves in the late '70s. Nowadays, they still make it, but it's available only on the internet as a nostalgia item; it doesn't really live as a current brand, and no children have ever heard of it. Turns out that maybe Quisp needed Quake more than he realized.

Long live Marvel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy

... in my comics this week.

  • For those of you who can't read it: "He's also late. I'll get to the Star before you. I survived the mountain of fire. I am the true Element Man. I am the only one. "
  • The Monarch Playing Card Company? I didn't see that one coming.
  • Of course they landed on Dinosaur Island.
  • I really like that Lois hasn't magically forgotten or forgiven who killed her sister.
  • Bizarro Wonder Woman's mission.
  • Finally, the Krypton/Daxam connection is explained.
  • Heh. I really like the new Batgirl. It's kind of like Harley Quin as a good guy.
  • Bizarro Flash's symbol.
  • That the Black Lantern "difficulties" affect the Outsiders powerfully and are addressed, but not directly and not by name.
  • I really want to see an Actioneer comic now.
  • Bizarro Amazo. Brilliant.
  • Gods help me, I like the new Terra. What's her deal, anyway? Is she not a human?
  • I just love Cat Grant's new hairdo.
  • Owlman's ears.
  • I'm not sure why but... I'm actually liking the currently JLA. Which makes no sense at all.
  • The batawrong.
  • Heh. Rainbow Superman. Nice touch.
  • The Web taking inspiration from his father's dying message in a ... non-standard way.
  • I can't of many villains beside Mr. Freeze who would attempt brain surgery on themselves.
  • The Penguin always survives.
  • PHIL480 is a requirement? A 400 level class... a requirement? For what, buddhahood?
  • "Busty airbone lass"; best codename ever!
  • Glad to see someone remembers what happened to the Spook.
  • The dog survives. The dog always survives a horror movie.
  • I really like the new Bruce Wayne. He's very useful. Why doesn't he just become part of the team?
  • Finally, he puts some CLOTHES ON. Gotham's not that warm year round.
  • Smallville still has drive-ins? Er, had?
  • I love the connectedness of all the Red Circle heroes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Eyes of Hal Jordan: The Musical!

I don't care what the weather man says,

When the weatherman says it's raining,

You'll never hear me complaining,
I'm certain the sun will shine,
I don't care how the weather vane points,
When the weather vane points to gloomy,
It's gotta be sunny to me, when your eyes look into mine;


Jeepers Creepers!

Where'd ya get those peepers?
Jeepers Creepers!

Where'd ya get those eyes?

Gosh all git up! How'd they get so lit up?

Gosh all git up! How'd they get that size?

Golly gee! When you turn those heaters on,

Woe is me! Got to get my cheaters on,

Jeepers Creepers!

Where'd ya get those peepers?

Oh! Those weepers!

How they hypnotize!
Where'd ya get those eyes?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pep 31: Cooking the Nazi Way!

"Wilkommen, meinen dammen und herren, auf


"Today ve are cooking Madonna-kabob. Many vould broil Madonna-kabob, but ze Nazi vay is to cooking it by STEAMING it. Zis leaves in all ze natural vitamins und preserves ze flavor... provided you do not steam too long, ja?

"Zlowly und shteadily turn over ze Madonna-kabob over your Max Schmeling Home Grill (tm), using a helmeted subhuman captured by ze North African campaigns. For extra zest, pepper it lightly mit bullets und ze strained angvish of an emotionally crushed Americanische military officer. Ach! Zo sweet!

"Zen, you gently remove ze lid from a large und clearly marked Nazi pot of boiling--VAT?! DONNERWETTER! Getten zie out of mein kitchen, you masked lunatics...!"