Friday, April 29, 2011

What Kids Don't Know: Bizarro, Part II

As we were discussing in our previous post, Bizarro's change in personality and powers when he returned in Superman #306 are examples of the Bronze Age grim-ification of the DCU.

Silver Age Bizarro was just a wacky misfit, as the in-story recap relates:

Glorifying the flawed... the misshapen... the perverse! This was... Wizard World.

But the Bronze Age story makes it very clear that "Bizarro has changed; he wasn't a threat before but now he is." Note that in the panel below, Superman implies that he used to be superior, power-wise, to Bizarro (who was, after all, "imperfect"), but now Bizarro is his equal or superior.

And this must be true, because Superman is nearly infallible, you know.

This is also the point at which Bizarro's heat vision and freeze breath got "reversed", surprising him and Superman both.

Notice anything about Bizarro's speech patterns, kids? They aren't "opposite". Bizarro says exactly what he means (albeit "imperfectly"). Only later, during the Post-Crisis Iron Age, did writers hamper Bizarro with the annoying affectation of "opposite speech", which does nothing but confuse the reader. If anything, it makes Bizarro seems smarter than us, since he understands what he's saying and we don't. DC; please start that; me am love brilliant Bizarro opposite speech.

Anyway, Bizarro was suddenly stronger, stupider, and a lot more emotionally volatile.

And, therefore, a lot easier to start using as an actual villain:
This story was published in 1976.
Bizarro joined the Secret Society of Super-Villains in 1977
and the Legion of Doom in 1978.

So Superman decides to get the bottom of this mystery, and find out why Bizarro thinks his world is gone and what changed his powers. Which I'm sure Superman will, because Superman is nearly infallible.

While the Bronze Age may have changed from the Silver Age in tone, in other aspects it was nearly indistinguishable. For example, in its reliance on utterly stupid hand-waving plot devices. Like... cosmic clouds.

Yes, I am confused; and don't call me "Patience".

Well... that explains EVERYTHING! At least, it does if you're Superman. Who's nearly infallible, you know.

Turns out Bizarro flew through a "cosmic cloud", which changed his powers, caused a mirage that made it seem as if Bizarroworld had been destroyed, and altered Barak Obama's birth certificate to read "Born in the U.S.A.". It's just amazing what cosmic clouds can do; just ask Reed Richards.

Oh, and another thing didn't change from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age. Superman was still a total... oh, what's the word I'm looking for?

"Great Rao, if I'd know it was that easy to get rid of her,
I'd have given this bozo his own room at the Fortress."

Jeez, Clark; that's TMI about your love life with Lois.

When aren't I glad to see you? Try "1:05:31P.M.", you dick.

I was right, as usual. Because I'm nearly *sigh* infallible.
And yet, my face (pictured at right) is STILL not on the quarter.

Anyway, you'll remember that all this hullabaloo started with a big fight involving the Toyman at the Metropolis Coliseum. Now, I'm sure you think of the Toyman as another innocent hold-over from Superman's Golden & Silver Ages; you're probably thinking, "Wasn't his murder of Cat Grant's son (
Superman #84, 1993) the first time he ever even killed anyone?"

No. No, it wasn't.

In this very story Toyman kills a host of guards and policemen as part of the battle at the Coliseum.

"Poor Winslow! Being alive, unlike all his victims, whose surviving friends and families I'm not thinking about at all! Why? Because I'm just too focused on all the ... the ingratitude of it all. Ingratitude toward ME. What's WRONG with you people?!"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Kids Don't Know: Bizarro's Powers

Every modern DC reader knows how Bizarro works; he's a dangerous anti-Superman with some reversed powers, like freeze-vision and heat breath.

But What Kids Don't Know is that that wasn't always the case; and that the change was specific and intentional. For that, we'll have to take a look at Superman #306.

For Rao's sake, Lo-Lo; invest in a pantsuit.

It's easy to see why writers want to use Bizarro as a villain. First and foremost, they can have no qualms about portraying him as Superman's equal, who can fight him to a standstill. Besides, he's a colorful and unpredictable character, engaging for the readers and challenging for Superman (qualities that Superman foes do not always have in abundance).

But before Superman 306, Bizarro was more an annoyance than a villian. He was that Big Dumb Dog who doesn't know his own strength and knocks stuff over (like, say, your guests) at a party. The main threat wasn't that he would fly around killing people; it was that he would expose Clark Kent's secret identity or become, um, too chummy with Lois, let's say.

Once he had a whole planet of his own (Bizarro World, or "Htrae") to muck about on, Bizarro became mostly comic relief or even (in desperate straights) an ally Superman could call on. Because being the most powerful super- being on Earth and having a bunch of super-powered robot duplicates, a supercousin, an entire city full of microscopic superallies, and a dog that can bite through steel is not always enough, you know.

Bizarro's original schtick was that he was "imperfect", and "imperfect duplicate" of Superman. He wasn't "the opposite" of Superman, just a badly defective version. His grammar was fractured, his features craggy and white, his intellect impaired. Defective ... not opposite. His powers were the same as Superman's and his costume was the same as Superman's (no, his chest logo was NOT reversed).

Bizarro the Well-Intentioned Buffoon, however, got played out and pretty much disappeared after 1965. But the seeds of what would become of him later were sown in the first line of the 'constitution' of Htrae: the Bizarro Code. "Us do opposite of all earthly things!" This became the basis for Bizarro becoming less an "imperfect Superman" and more an "anti-Superman", who could believably be a part of the comics' Secret Society of Supervillians and television's Legion of Doom (both of which happened in the Bronze Age).

What Kids Today Don't Know is that the move to make the DCU a little less goofier and a little more threatening isn't something that happened suddenly or magically with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Marvel ex-patriate Marv Wolfman did not invent tragedy, folks; the Greeks did.

Darkening the DCU in fact was one of the major thrusts of the Bronze Age. Oh, it may not seem like it to a fan of the Golden Age, where corpses lay at the entrance to every alley. And it may not seem like it to a reader in the modern era, where severed heads fly around like it's the Pantha Family Picnic. But don't be one of those ignorati who lump the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages together as one big happy innocent "Pre-Crisis" romp; the shift in tone between the Silver Age and the Bronze Age was HUGE.

In the Bronze Age, goofy sidekick Snapper Carr betrayed the Justice League to the Joker. Robin left Batman. Speedy, one of the original Golden Age sidekicks, got hooked on heroin. Martian Manhunter was deemed so ridiculously and irredeemably Silver Age that he was given a bus ticket off planet and virtually disappeared. An evil (or at least really tacky) conglomerate bought the frickin' Daily Planet, people. A depowered Wonder Woman tortured prisoners and used an uzi. The Flash was tried for murder. I mean, really, folks. What else do ya need to be able to see it? Hal Jordan having a sexual relationship with a 13 year old girl?! Oh, that's right; he DID.

So when Bizarro was reintroduced in the Bronze Age, all was not wacky fun and games. As we shall see in my next post... .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why do people live in Gotham City?

Gotham City is always portrayed so bleakly (at least during the post-Crisis era), that it's a wonder anyone lives there.

In the 1960s, we knew why people lived in Gotham City. It was always sunny with fair weather (except when Mr Freeze was in the neighborhood). The museums were brimming over with interesting exhibits of mammoths stuffed with postage stamps and priceless collections of Etruscan snoods. Despite a large population, the traffic was so great that even the Batmobile could roar unimpeded down the streets at its top speed of 40 mph. Unless, of course, there was giant cookbook or giant umbrella blocking the way at 5th & Cedar; but that's what detour signs are for, after all.

But in the 1970s, Gotham City became New York City. I mean, yeah, it always kind of was, but it was ... very different. It had seemed smaller, more colorful and contrasty, and cleaner. This was true even in the 1940s, when Gotham was clearly a dangerous place. But it wasn't just "NYC in the DCU". Heck, the giant props alone told you that.

However, when the Bronze Age started, it became important to editors/writers to distance Batman from his campy '60s image. One way they did this was to identity Gotham City very closely with New York City. If Gotham City was in a Bronze Age story, you can bet that a caption box mentions at least once that it was "a city of 8 million people" (or 10 million, depending on the year). Whoa, that's WAY bigger than Gotham City as I knew it! How the heck does Batman get around? Certainly not by swinging around rooftops, because Gotham City was suddenly characterized by hundred-storey skyscrapers everywhere. Those are very impractical for swinging around on, because you can't reach one building from the next (believe me, I've tried, which is how I got that scar on my forehead). That's a skyline like New York City... not like the Gotham City we knew, where all the action took place on the rooftops of medium sized office buildings, atop abandoned factories, and within construction sites.

Now, the "What Kids Don't Know" here is that in the 1970s, New York City had a pretty bad image problem. It was having a difficult time with budgets, crime, cleanliness, civic apathy; Manhattan in the 1970s wasn't exactly the Wonderland it is today. And the big burg's problems were magnified under the lens of popular culture. If you want to know the picture that most non-New Yorkers had of the Big Apple in the 1970s, rent "Escape from New York", "The Warriors", "Fame", "The Panic in Needle Park", or "Taxi Driver".

It was no coincidence that the "I love NYC" campaign was begun in the late '70s, by a city leadership desperate to polish up the town's image and improve tourism. And so they did, helped by an amazing turnaround for the city in the '80s and '90s. Times Square used to be "Crime Square"; but nowadays, even Anderson Cooper spends his New Year's Eve there.

Gotham City, however, went the other direction in the post-Crisis era. As New York City became brighter and shinier and more giant-propish, Gotham City became darker, grimy, and more squalorifferic. Writers indulged in an escalating arms race to portray Gotham as, well, crappier and crappier. The advent of *sigh* the ridiculous "Bludhaven" exacerbated this game of civic limbo, with each city trying to outdo the other in its irredeemability. Eventually, Bludhaven "won" by being wiped off the map by Chemo, which I chose to view as a very amusing meta-statement. The Silver Age pretty much told the Iron Age, "Okay, enough is enough, and we're going to have one of our most absurd characters put an end to this right now." Once again Silver Age inventive lunacy trumps Iron Age "gritty realism". But not before Gotham City had upped the ante by having not-one-but-two plagues, an earthquake, and a federal condemnation and cordoning. Because that's realism.

In the Geoff Johns era we know live in, where the DCU is shinier (except for the occasional decapitation-caused bloodspurt -- and even that is a lovely shade of red), a brighter Gotham City is long overdue. We can discuss that further and when we do, this may be food for thought...

Why Do People Live in Gotham City?

Economy. In short, the economy of Gotham City rocks. It practically oozes money. It must, because, unless you're a thug, you're probably a millionaire. You can't swing a Jokerfish in Gotham without hitting a millionaire square in the face. Its diversification is prodigous, it's an economic rainforest; you can get anything you want in Gotham City, and probably wholesale (including purple kangaroos). Ask yourself what kind of economy can fritter away money on working giant props atop every friggin' factory, and you'll see what I mean.

Real Estate. Have you noticed you no longer read that "city of 8-10 million line" in every Gotham story? Say what you want about the "No Man's Land" storyline, it certainly paved the way for a leaner, meaner Gotham City. But the city isn't physically any smaller so... there's lots of property. Property is cheap is the most economically powerful city in the DCU. Its a buyer's dream there. Everybody -- including desperadoes -- can afford a nice big apartment in a high rise (unless the story requires them to be an improverished orphan, who'll just wind up being swept up at some point into the largess of the Wayne Foundation anyway). And no matter how bizarre your hideout is, it doesn't attract attention because it's lost in the sea of realty. Abandoned warehouses, theaters, and factories, why you can practically buy them on Craig's List in Gotham City.

Culture. C'mon, this goes without saying. Metropolis, it has lots of science and Superman tschotskes, but that's it. Even Metropolis museums are all 'natural history' museums, existing only to house that one piece of kryptonite meteorite from Ethiopia they've all got. But Gotham City? It drips culture. There's a museum or a theater on every corner (as evidenced by the fact that, though one appears in every other story, it's never the same one twice). Famous writers, like Kaye Daye, live there; hipsters throng to Gotham Village; there's a charity ball every night of the season. It's a hub for theater, cinema, and performance art. Heck, I almost assume that that's why so many super-criminals live there: their bizarre appearances and shenigans are camouflaged by the prevailing weirdness.

Pedestrianism. Gotham City is designed as a pedestrian heaven. In Central City, people have to drive to their mailboxes; that's why you never see any people in the those giantic empty public squares where the Flash is always doing battle. But in Gotham City, people do not drive; they walk everywhere. Even if they are gadzillionaires coming home from the theater. The streets of Gotham are full of people, but empty of traffic. Which is why the Batmobile still never gets stuck in traffic. The only other people are the roads are armored car drivers and villains driving through the pouring rain on their way to kill all their former gangmembers.

Crime. Here's a statement that will crack the internet: Gotham City is comparatively free of crime. Before you freak out (particularly you youngsters raised on the idea that "Gotham is the Most Dangerous City on Earth-1"), think for a second. What kind of crime do we actually SEE in Gotham City? Murders, mostly. And it's mostly criminal-on-criminal violence. As long as you don't happen to get caught in the crossfire, or become the victim of some psychotic deformed villain, it won't affect you at all. Gotham City has crime of high "quality" not crime in high quantity. Street gangs, muggings, break-ins, home invasions, store hold-ups, etc. -- nearly non-existent. Why?

Because regular criminals are terrified to operate in Gotham City. You wanna rob a gas station where the Jokermobile might just happen to be gassing up? No. And eventually you're going to be "made an example of" by some supervillian or themed gangster, or get sucked into the thrall of goonhood where you'll be cannon fodder for some mastermind. There are no old criminals in Gotham City. For those of you who doubt this theory, remember that, to some degree, it's already in continuity. It's canon that Ye Old Crime Families were driven out of Gotham City by the costumed weirdos that followed in Batman's wake. Truly, Gotham City got the "better class of criminal" it deserved.

But if you're a regular person in Gotham City, you are statisically MUCH less likely to be a vicitm of crime than citizens elsewhere. Of course, if you do become a victim, you will suffer much more horribly (say, being eviscerated while alive or laughing yourself to death or being thrown into a vat of acid). But that's just part of Gotham's natural extremity... and charm!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carnival of Doom

Where do evil clowns come from?

Why, from a Carnival of Doom, of course. So why don't we have Heroclix maps that go there?

The number of cheery and chipper Heroclix maps depresses me. The Asgardian Afterlife, shiny flying saucer crashsites, sparkling outer space with its twinkly little lights... BAH! I blame Marvel. And Jack Kirby.

The real world is not full of shiny Kirby machines and flashes of ill-defined "energy bursts". The real world is full of carnivals of doom, and crime alleys, and abandoned umbrella factories.
Well, at least the real world in the DCU.

So I threw together (actually, toiled endlessly, but that doesn't sound as impressive) this "Carnival of Doom" map. There was an evil carnival map in Horroclix but it was, frankly, boring and nearly featureless.
Not so my Carnival of Doom, which features the bumpcars, the merry-go-round, a haunted ballroom, a midway stage, a freakshow, a watery Tunnel of Love, and the Hall of Mirrors. Lots of places for your dark and eerie figures of the night to go chasing after deranged killer clowns and circus freaks.

If you are interested in the original file, I'm happy to send it to you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Kids Don't Know: The Weeper

If, like me, you're a fan of the "Batman: Brave & the Bold"series on Cartoon Network, and watched the most recent episode, which was an amusing inversion of the show's usual perspective. It made the Joker the protagonist and Batman the antagonist. The Joker replaced Batman in the opening credits, re-styled as "Joker: The Vile & the Villainous". Oh, and that was after he blew up in the earth in the opening teaser. But that's not important right now...

Our focus is the main episode, where, true to the show's format, the Joker teamed up with another villain: The Weeper.

The Weeper is a sad-sack of a villain. He is, indeed, a sadness-themed villain, a former 'sad-faced' circus clown gone bad (and, amusingly, voiced by one of America's best-known sad-faced comedians, Tim Conway).

The B:B&B Weeper is unequivocally the Golden Age Weeper from Fawcett Comics, with the same name (Mortimer Gloom), the same foes (Bulletman & Co.), a nearly identical appearance, and the same sadness-based schtick. He appeared only a few times, and only once in a DC Comic proper.

That appearance was in Justice League of America 136 (a comic I bought as a kid), where he teamed up with-- you guessed it -- the Joker.

The Earth-2 Joker, that is; in fact, it was, I believe, the only appearance of the "Earth-2 Joker" during the multiversal eras. Their 'team-up' was only a few panels and mostly just an excuse to get some Earth-2 heroes together with some Earth-S heroes (Earth-S, for you youngsters, was the original version of Earth-5, and the home of all Fawcett characters, like Captain Marvel, Bulletman, and Mr. Scarlet).

That brief moment between the Joker and the Weeper was an obvious throwaway. But did that leave the writers of B:B&B without a template for their own Joker/Weeper team-up? Actually... no. They had Denny O'Neil's "The Sad Saga of Willy the Weeper".

During the "DC Explosion", DC Comics tried a lot of new series and concepts all at once. One was making its best known villain, a psychotic sadistic killer, the protagonist of his own series. Kind of like DC's own version of The Punisher.

Yes, the Joker had his own on-going series. Wherein he fell in love with Dinah Lance, kidnapped Charles Schulz, grabbed lunch and a movie with Lex Luthor, fought the Scarecrow with a truck full of butterflies, was defeated by Sherlock Holmes, and killed an average of one person on camera per issue. And so much more, in a mere 9 issues!!

But what matters to us at the moment is the time the Joker teamed up with "Willie the Weeper".

Now, this was Willie's one and only appearance and he is definitely not the Golden Age Weeper. Perhaps Denny O'Neill didn't want to use the original Weeper due to the multiversal implications; perhaps he wasn't even aware of him; or perhaps he just wanted to make a new character with a unique problem.

The original Weeper always shed crocodile tears for his victims. But Willie the Weeper was a criminal genius who would weep so uncontrollably for his victims that he couldn't complete his crimes. So (um, naturally) he went to the least victim-sympathetic villain he could think of for help:

The Joker.

Oh, and that other guy, with the cigarette, is Harold. A few panels later the Joker knocks him out and throws him down an incinerator chute to be burned alive. You should never do a walk-on in a Joker story; or smoke in his house.

Anyway, the essence of the story is that the Weeper feels like a wash-out as a villain, the Joker volunteers to help solve his problem, succeeds, one of them (naturally) betrays the other, and the Joker winds up crying while the Weeper winds up laughing.

Don't worry, kids! The Joker's not really crying; he's faking it... .

Sound familiar? Yes, it's the same as the underlying plot of the Brave & the Bold episode!

Oh, sure, there are huge differences, of course, such as the nature of the Weeper's problem, Batman's role in the story, the Joker idolizing the Weeper, and the final betrayal. I'm not trying to say that the episode isn't original; lack of originality is NOT one of the problems with Batman: Brave & Bold! The show excels at taking fresh approaches to exisiting characters and material, and the Weeper episode, incorporating both the Golden Age Weeper and the little known "Sad Sage of Willie the Weeper" and reinventing them both is just the latest brilliant example.

P.S. For anyone still unconvinced that Willie the Weeper was inspired by the original Weeper... Remember how I said that the original Weeper started as out as a sad-faced circus clown? His stage name was.... Weeping Willie (an obvious reference to American clown Emmett Kelly).

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Try the Tracyverse

As most of you already know, Bob Kane was not the single most original author or artist of all time. But they also serve who only sit and synthesize. His sources of inspiration were many, but one was surely Dick Tracy (particularly his host of colorful gangsters and villains). For those of you not familiarity with the lunacy of the Tracyverse, here’s a sample plot synopsis of one storyline (taken from the Dick Tracy wiki):
Almost a year after Tracy married Tess, a horrible explosion burst Tracy house into flames, burning it down to the ground and burning Tracy's hair off. After the fire, it turned out that Junior was missing, the Tracy's were scared that he had perished in the fire, it turned out that Blowtop rigged an invention of Tracy's (an automatic dog door) to set off twenty sticks of dynamite and kidnapped Junior. Blowtop and his goons sealed Junior in a drum and attempted to drop him off a cliff. Junior was rescued and drew a picture of his captor which hit the papers. Blowtop's henchman and moll turned on him and shot him, only to be accidentally discovered by an acquaintance of his late-brother Flattop, Vitamin Flintheart. He managed to fix up Blowtop, and was convinced that he was a wealthy man, not knowing that the money was from a Boston Express Robbery. Flintheart (who unwittingly was fencing the hot money for Blowtop) had traded one of Blowtop's shirts for a shrunken head (unaware that the shirt contained money from the fencing). This was the turning point, Blowtop fled in anger, but was followed by Vitamin who was promised funding for a show from Blowtop. He shot Vitamin and tripped on the same shrunken head from before. Vitamin was hospitalized and Tracy had Blowtop in custody.

Keep in mind this one of the more normal plots, in that it doesn’t involve extraterrestrials, circus freaks, or cloning. Heck, I’m still hung up on the fact that Tracy invented an automatic dog door. And I would really like to go to a Swap Meet in the Tracyverse; “I’ll give you this old shirt for that shrunken head.” The Tracyverse is so bizarre, I’m beginning to wonder whether Dick Tracy isn’t actually set in Apex City.

I first fell for the “Tracyverse” when it was under the pen of Max Allan Collins. Collins, a mystery writer and longtime Tracy fan, took over from series creator Chester Gould, who had been running out of steam during his final years on the strip, whose quality was suffering. When I was a teenager Collins et al. were revitalizing and extending the Tracyverse with crazy plots and sharp powerful art. I can still remember the return of the scarred circus menace Haf-and-Haf, the climactic battle with criminal wigmaker Angeltop on the reproduction of the Santa Maria, and the collusions of evil surgeon Dr Carver and Mumbles, the murderous guitarist.

While I was reading Tracy at that time, I paid no attention to the creators behind it. It was only in the last week or so that I realized it was Collins, whom I had thought of only in the context of his work on Batman, where he created the (reviled by some but adored by me)
Mime. Thanks, Max, for making Dick Tracy fabulous again for many years!

After Collins left he was replaced by others, who authored the strip for some 30 years. The quality of the strip was not maintained, particularly during recent years, when Dick Tracy had devolved mostly into an internet snarking target (a “snarget”, if you will). With muddled art and fuddled storylines, it became an object of ridicule rather than a showcase for American imagination.

But history is now repeating itself, with a long decline under older creators ending with a sudden revitalization of the strip under new creative management. As of March 14, with its new creative team of Tracy fanboys Joe Stanton and Mike Curtis, Dick Tracy is setting the comics page ablaze. It has sharp and solid art with interesting composition, fast-paced plotting, outlandish characters with real-world issues and viewpoints, and a palpable respect for the rich history of the Tracyverse at its disposal.

If you’ve never given Dick Tracy a try,
now is the time.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Apex City Travel Poster

How does one design a travel poster for Apex City, home of the Martian Manhunter? How can you hope to capture the craziness? The bizarre landmarks, like the Statue of Atlas? The ludicrous weather, like the weekly meteor showers? The strange threats like the ubiquitous flying saucers? The seaside location and the Miami-like towering buildings? And if can you do all this, how do you then manage to subtly incorporate the city's hero, the Martian Manhunter himself, into the mix?

Well, I don't you know how you do it. But I do it like this....

Although I may have to do another version, just to see whether I can hang the Human Squirrel off the side of one of those buildings...

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A sway with words

Most mornings I do the Washington Post crossword puzzle (for you moderns out there, a crossword puzzle is kind of like sudoko for people who can read). Thanks to puzzling, a lot words come to my mind quite easily that otherwise would never ever occur to me. For example, I seldom utilize decorative, based pitchers, I’ve never seen a decorative needle case, and I rarely discuss pre-Meiji Restoration Tokyo. Yet a week almost never goes by without me writing the words “ewer”, “etui”, or “Edo”. Such words are part of the glory of the genius of English, which is the great linguistic lint-trap, the river delta of dictionaries, the junkyard of jargon. Sure it makes our language a little gunky and confusing. But lint-traps are a treasure trove of spare change, river deltas have the richest soils, and junkyards are the wellspring of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs of tomorrow. Or is it “Chitty Chitties Bang Bang”? Gotta figure that out in case “cinema British flying motorcars” is a clue in a puzzle some day… Anyway, crosswords are not the only medium that helps preserve special sets of words. Comic books do it, too. There are words and phrases that I generally do not hear outside of a comic book context. For example, I seldom utilize henchmen, I’ve never met an invulnerable person, and I rarely discuss my secret identity. Of course, you’re not supposed to discuss your secret identity; but that’s not the point here. Naturally, there are going to be words and phrases that come from comic books that don’t get used in regular speech, like “batarang”, “shrink ray”, and “plastic cat arrow”. But there are also words that, while they may have been born in the real world, now exist mostly as hothouse flowers in the special environment of comic books. Words like “villain”. What words, phrases, or even concepts do you think have been preserved by the medium of comic books?