Sunday, June 21, 2020

Tom Kalmaku Pops

Eskimo Pies are being rebranded. I wish it would have happened much sooner. At least, sooner than THIS:

How about I call you ****head, then?  And then you just shut your non-eskimo-pie-hole?

As you can tell by the (non-Gil Kane) art, this is actually a later depiction of their original meeting. We don't actually see them meet in Silver Age Green Lantern issues; "Pieface" is simply introduced as a pre-existing character in Hal's life.

And eager to get out of it, 'natch.

Even as a child I knew this made Hal look like an idiot and was at least vaguely insulting to Poor Tom Kalmaku.  Not even "Eskimo is not a respectful word" insulting; just plain old "my name is Tom, why did you give me stupid nickname just because you are my boss and can get away with it?"

"But enough about me, Hal. How's that truck-driving gig going, huh? What does your banker call you, other than 'delinquent'...?"

Imagine Bruce Wayne calling Alfred "crumpet-face" and I think you'll get the point.

Now, I know that Hal is an Air Force pilot type, and they give one another (often achingly) stupid codenames based on the flimsiest of associations: "Oh, you're from Tennessee? We'll call you... Tuxedo!"  

"Get... me... out of here!"

This goofy practice (which I somehow blame Jack Kirby for) is almost a point of perverse pride.

But Hal, in the Silver Age, isn't in the Air Force. And, more important, neither is Tom.  So, it's just Hal being a ****. Geoff Johns, naturally, fixed all this because "Fixing All This" is what Geoff Johns does (especially for Hal Jordan, who has a lot of This to be Fixed).  He had Hal call Tom "Pieface" only because he heard other pilots call him that and when he finds out Tom hates it, he makes the other pilots stop.

Goeff Johns has a soft spot for Hal; his head.

It's a good fix. Doesn't actually make me forget the YEARS of Hal calling Tom "Pieface".  Or the writers making Tom say "Jumping fishhooks!" five times in every story.  Or the fact that "Pieface" has nothing to do with 'Eskimo pies' but is a derogatory term for someone a round face and "pie-slit" eyes, as one might call an Inuit person.  

But it's still a good fix.


John C said...

I forgot how much Joe Staton essentially created Ryan Reynolds from whole cloth.

But yeah, DC has a lot to answer for, over the decades, whether it's realizing that the Comics Code never says you can't name your Asian-American characters Pieface, Egg-Fu, I-Ching (and probably Stuff); the relative lack of non-white characters other than Asians with offensive names; or the weird idea that superheroes should be unaccountable vigilantes who get to hide from society in their secret, impregnable fortresses where they keep armories of murderous weapons, some of them often even beating up people who are explicitly described as mentally ill. Oh, and the "no killing" rule that somehow never seems to extend to hanging out with a guy whose super-power is a machine gun and a mask.

I think that you (Scipio) were the one who once pointed out that Vibe was basically run out of the DCU, because readers assumed that he was every bit the stereotype he was clearly pretending to be.

Things are changing at the company, slowly, but for a long time, I've been craving at least an imprint, where the heroes have public identities, show up to court as witnesses for the prosecution and to defend their use of force, and don't dismiss their worst impulses with charitable donations like they're Sacklers. Maybe the results of the "we finally figured out the Milestone legal situation" announcement will give us something useful.

Anonymous said...

In my version of the "Green Lantern" movie (spoilers: it'd be an anthology series, with the first movie as Hal meeting Sinestro and eventually beating him and dying), Hal's chatting up a girl in a bar when he sees some rowdies picking on Tom Kalmaku and calling him "Pieface"; Hal intercedes, gets his ass kicked, but gets them to leave the bar anyway through the magic of not quitting even when he's beat. That'd be all the "Pieface" involved.

About Inuit vs. Eskimo: while most of the people of the north in Canada are indeed members of Inuit tribes, there are very few Inuit in Alaska. Inuit is more respectful if it's an actual Inuit, but otherwise, Eskimo is better in that at least it's not wrong. It's like how "Korean" is better than "Oriental" if the other person actually is Korean, but if they're not, it manages to be worse.