Friday, July 14, 2017

The Comic That Ended the Silver Age #2: Gettin' Doughy

Today continues our lesson on "Snapper Carr -- Super-Traitor!" (JLA #77 (1969)).

"It's Old Man Withers, the caretaker!"

It begins as all truly great and enjoyable stories do: with Snapper Carr getting the crap beat out of him.

Any resemblance to the current sociopolitical environment is entirely intentional, by the way.

If Snapper were better educated, he simply would have exclaimed "V!"

Fortunately (?), someone comes to his rescue with the ominous/cheery line "There's no need for violence... at least not yet!"

Yes, this is an obvious set-up so that Snapper would see this guy as his savior. But Snapper's too dumb to see that.

Okay, BRACE yourself for the meteor-impact of subtlety that is the writing of Denny O'Neil. 

No, really; brace yourself.  because I guarantee you are not ready.  

Ready...? (You're not, by the way).

Here it comes...


I've met him, and one cannot help but love Denny O'Neil personally. He's a good and very intelligent man, with a strong conscience, who longed to bring relevant social discourse to a genre known mostly for people in capes hitting one another.  However, he writes with all the subtlety of Hulk throwing Thor's hammer at a rusty typewriter.

Only in comics can one become (somehow) famous for being average. Only in comics can one be 'most normal".  Only in comics can one do so while wearing a bright green suit.

So there is apparently an off-panel heart-to-heart between Snapper and *snort* "John Dough" in which JD completely convinces Snapper to come over to the dark side.  It happens pretty damned quickly because the next time we see them they are still wearing the same clothes.

Bruce, Ray; get off your asses and invent the cell phone already. Cheez.

The JLA only has three smart people in it, and Snapper just took out two of them at once.

Really, Denny? You felt the need to have a genius professor of nuclear physics say 'kinda'?

Key here is that Dough makes SNAPPER do the deed.  This is very cult/gang leader; make the newbie prove himself and his loyalty by doing some culpable act himself while you stand there to apply pressure.

You were always a weak fool, Snapper.
Saying yes to anyone in authority, anyone with a badge,
just like your parents taught you.
Say, do you even HAVE parents, Snapper?

Any resemblance to the current sociopolitical environment is entirely intentional.

Dough lets Atom lie there, but kidnaps Batman and puts him unguarded in a death-trap while he goes away to do something else, because comics.

Jeez, Denny, what kind of corny joker calls something "Operation: Average"?

But what else is Dough up to?  Superman knows because he's the one who still reads newspapers:

HA! A superficially populist politician who plays on the fears and insecurities of the voters afraid of people who are different and of finding themselves in a world where they no longer matter as much as they used, by promising to return them to an earlier, simpler time?
Oh, Denny you and your crazy concepts!

I just LOVE that Hal's staring at his hands.
"These, for example, are not normal; my GOD my hands are beautiful!"

Then Green Arrow -- holy cow I can't believe I'm saying this -- GREEN ARROW calls this out as total BS and is RIGHT.

I... I agree with Green Arrow completely.
Because Green Arrow is right.
Now I need a drink and nap.

Why did Dough duck out on the Batman death-trap? Because he's preparing for a debate against superheroes at a big public rally that evening. How do we know? 

Because Batman shows up to tell us!

What's THIS? The Caped Crusader...OUT of the death-trap? And protecting our villain...?!

What does this mean? Tune in tomorrow, same Dough-Time, same Dough-Channel.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Comic That Ended the Silver Age, #1: Gettin' Kookie

Let's talk about the DCU's greatest betrayal, the one that ended the Silver Age:

"Snapper Carr-- Super-Traitor!" Justice League America #77 (1969).  

By that I mean, 'betrayal of one character by another in-universe".  The greatest betrayal would otherwise be Identity Crisis (by DC of its readers), of course.

Maybe you are already familiar with this story, but I'll wager a lot of less experienced readers aren't.  It's one of the most important DC comics of all time, which makes its current obscurity all the more ironic.  

Let's start with a question for those of you under, say, 40: Who is Snapper Carr?  Most of you will answer this guy:
Kara Danvers extra-dickish boss on "Supergirl"

But it's not. That's just one of those examples of the CW-verse slapping a random name stolen from the comics on a totally different character (kind of like how "Felicity Smoak" is actually Firestorm's stepmom).  

Real Snapper Carr was the JLA's teen sidekick in the Silver Age.  Well, mascot, really, since Snapper had no powers or abilities (except super-annoyingness).

There's so much more and so much more WORSE I could show you about Snapper Carr.  
Google it.

Snapper seems to have been modeled on secondary character turned teen sensation Edd "Kookie" Byrnes from the teevee show 77 Sunset Strip; Snapper was introduced in 1960 when Kookie-mania was in full-swing. His look AND his tendency to speak in faux-hip-lingo are dead giveaways. Why put such a character in the JLA, already brimming over with eight of DC's biggest heroes struggling for screen time?  

Right now my fingers are ALSO expressing how I feel about your induction into the JLA, Snapper. At least, one of them is.

As always, writers must have thought that young readers needed "someone to identify with", overlooking the fact that we read comics to identify with the HEROES, not their hangers-on.  I have long suspected that Snapper Carr was really put in the League for Green Arrow's sake:

Leaving behind Snapper Carr would give ANYONE a broad grin.

Specifically, Snapper Carr was there to give readers someone to hate other than Green Arrow.

The universe -- both ours and DC's -- suffered under Snapper Carr for about nine years, thanks to his creator, Gardner Fox.  During which time Snapper was "The Wesley" of the JLA, despite being a total idiot (or sometimes because of it).

"Only SNAPPER CARR is ignorant enough to save us!"

Look how SAD Wonder Woman is that they have to be saved AGAIN by Snapper Carr. "It's bad enough being saved by a man... but by SNAPPER CARR?!  I miss Etta so much."

But a deadly meteor from another dimension was headed directly toward Snapper, heaven-bent on his humiliation and destruction. That meteor?  Denny O'Neil.

"Doom, Thy Name is...DENNY!"

More on that soon....