Friday, November 30, 2007

The Dreaded Porcupine: A Super-Villain You'll Never Forget!


So after naming the Porcupine a “turkey”, I decided to re-read his very first appearance in the pages of Tales to Astonish #48, and was mildly surprised to see that he actually had a pretty good thing going; aside from all the sucking, that is. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what-all the Porcupine can really do.


The saga of the Dreaded Porcupine began in the lab of Alex Gentry, genius engineer and spiked rodent enthusiast. Gentry has some interesting ideas about how the Army ought to be spending its money:

To be honest, I’ve heard worse ideas. Who wants to mess with a porcupine? Gentry took the porcupine’s defensive abilities a few steps beyond mere sharp quills, though, creating a multi-purpose battle suit with a fantastic, albeit highly improbable, array of weaponry:



Unfortunately, I have nothing whatsoever to do with purchasing combat suits for the Army, but if I did, I’d buy a few gross. Porcupine’s original armor not only allowed him to launch sharp quills (though it wasn't shown in this origin story, oddly enough), but was also packed with gas pellets, napalm, liquid cement, ammonia, and various other chemicals. The gas mask actually protected the wearer from his own weapons, all while looking wicked kewl.

Alex Gentry wouldn’t be a low-level scientist in a silver-age Marvel comic if he weren’t disgruntled, so here we see him bitterly choose the next most logical career: super-villainy! To be fair, he’s probably absolutely right about what he can expect from his employers, so, y’know, screw ‘em.



Here we find our prickly pal pulling off his very first bank heist. Acetylene torches are also built into this one man arsenal, and he burns through the lock while cloaked by a self-generated smoke screen:


The Porcupine suit also included jets…


...And strangely enough, fireworks:


Of course, when he finally came up against Ant-Man, he unveiled his ultimate weapon:

A bathtub of tepid water is more than a match for the fightin' formicidae, and Porcupine hauls ass on outta there, leaving him to drown.

The lameness of Ant-Man could take up a whole other post, but suffice it to say, his bones would be clogging Gentry’s drain to this day, if not for the Wasp. Ant-Man and the Wasp handed Porcupine his first defeat by dousing him with liquid cement, clogging his tubes, and sending him off to the first of many, many stays in prison. Later, he adopted a more modern, streamlined suit (pictured above) shortly before dying. He actually died saving Captain America’s life, and his armor was placed in a memorial case in Avengers Mansion. Which later blew up.

The Porcupine could actually be a pretty formidible villain, if the suit were used by someone more skilled than Alex Gentry. Another Porcupine is currently at large, last seen in Thunderbolts, and he may be a real badass for all I know. At least there's still a Porcupine in the Marvel Universe. Note the date on that piece, though. Like most characters, even this "turkey" has potential.






Crackdown at Scans Daily?


This is odd. Look over at Scans Daily for a moment. Once I reassure it that I am over 14 a few times, I see a solid Wall of "You are about to view content that may not be appropriate for minors." That's new. It also seems like the first three pages are strictly Marvel and DC stuff, with a few other relatively harmless posts throughout. That may be because a bunch of new comics just came out, though.I skimmed over the first five archived pages, and this Lara Croft comic is about the spiciest thing I saw. This sampling from The Crime Bible is the only item I see tagged "nsfw" in the first few pages, and that's a DC Comic. That NSFW tag still does lead to some pretty hair raising stuff, so I dunno. It might not for long. Something ill is brewing, for sure.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sgt. Screamer's Battle Cry

I don’t own, nor have I ever read, any issues of Battle Cry, but I gots to say: I love that screaming head superimposed over the logo. Better yet, on a lot of these covers, the screaming disembodied head (we’ll call him Sgt. Screamer) looks like it is part of the overall composition.

This scene, for example, becomes 300% more entertaining when we assume that poor old Sarge was decapitated in the explosion and his severed head is about to land on that second mine in the foreground:




And here we see Pvt. Ike, America’s typical G.I. on a typical day, dislodging Sgt. Screamer’s head from a typical Red Chinese ass:



Here we see why it’s a bad idea to get in Pvt. Ike’s way when he starts swinging that rifle butt. The kid’s gonna have to peel a lot of potatoes to make up for that little faux pas:



Once again, the Sarge finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But did Pvt. Ike throw a grenade, killing Sarge with friendly fire, or is he hurling severed heads packed with explosives? I know which answer I prefer.

Does “Oh my God, you fucking decapitated me, you moron!!” count as a "battle cry"? I think in this case it must.








Monday, November 26, 2007

A Beginner's Guide to the Bizarro World

































All images from Tales of the Bizarro World; DC Comcs, 2000
Art by John Forte

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stardust the Super Wizard Returns!

A short feature at Newsarama shows us some of the first pages from Mike Allred’s Stardust story, soon to be seen in Fantastic Comics #24, part of the Next Issue Project from Image. I think I’m more excited about this series of one-shots than I am about The Twelve and Superpowers, if only because NIP won’t be trying to present an epic saga, re-imagining, or deconstruction of the obscure Golden Age characters. Unlike those other two series, these will be treated as if they were indeed the next issues of long dormant comics, with eight-page shorts from some of the best talents in comics. Short and sweet and lotsa fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Forgotten Alan Moore: CHRONOCOPS!


Here’s another goodie from the archives. Alan Moore is well-known for his work on such complex, layered graphic novels as Watchmen and V for Vendetta, but before his long-form works, Moore worked on dozens of short science fiction stories for the long running U.K. weekly, 2000 A.D. Writing these “Time Twisters”, Moore perfected his method of manipulating the chronology of his stories and the structure of the story itself, tricks he would return to again and again in his career. His earliest work with Dave Gibbons, perhaps his finest collaborator, was on little throwaway vignettes like this. Gibbons clear line and detailed eye lent clarity to what could have been utterly baffling stories in lesser artistic hands. In “Chronocops!” we can see Moore’s nascent fascination with story structure and layered narrative complexity as event builds upon event to produce a tale that twists in and out of time. Note how the story begins and ends with a close-up of Joe Saturday, a visual hint that the narrative has doubled back on itself, with the hunter now the hunted, so to speak. All this in a simple 5 page story that reads like a Mad Magazine parody of Dragnet gone horribly awry. Enough telling; time for the show:









"CHRONOCOPS!"
Script: Alan Moore
Art: Dave Gibbons
Story scanned from The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks, Rebellion, the Studio, 2006

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Beavis and Butt-Head and the Marvel Universe

Well, apparently you people demand more Beavis and Butt-Head. See how generous, how benevolent, I am. Again With the Comics presents the remaining Marvel vignettes from Beavis and Butt-Head's Greatest Hits. As I've mentioned before in my Spider-Man and Devil Dinosaur entries, the Marvel pages were just part of a licensed Marvel comic that otherwise featured the usual B&B antics at school, Burger World, etc. Their take on Marvel favorites like the Silver Surfer were the comics' equivalent to the TV show's Rock videos:



Unsurprisingly, mid-90's Wolverine and Punisher are more their style:





Beavis and Butt-Head also loan their dimwitted Greek Chorus to the Fantastic Four, She-Hulk, Wonder Man, and the Man Thing:








Huh huh. Huh huh. That was cool. I thought I'd let Beavis and Butt-Head have the last word:




Friday, November 09, 2007

Beavis and Butt-Head and Devil Dinosaur

I don't know what I can possibly say to prepare you for this.







From Beavis and Butt Head's Greatest Hits (Marvel, 1994)







Thursday, November 08, 2007

Beavis and Butt-Head and Spidey and MJ

Is it too early to be nostalgic for Beavis and Butt-Head? From straight outta 1994, we have this selection from Beavis and Butt-Head's Greatest Hits, a collection of the licensed Marvel series. The whole conceit of the B&B comic was to have stories with the boys doing the same sort of things they did on TV, but instead of watching rock videos, they read and commented on Marvel Comics, focusing on, well, the sort of thing you’d expect to see them focus on:


Myyyy goodness. Here we get a reminder of what a hot commodity Mary Jane was for Marvel at the time. Todd McFarlane soared to success on Amazing Spider-Man partly on his penchant for drawing the newly wed Mary Jane lounging around in frilly undergarments all the time and Marvel has kept "sexy MJ" merchandise readily available since. Remember that laundry statue everyone was all bent outta shape about awhile ago? Yeah. The point being, the dimwitted duo could have easily seen this sort of thing in any random Spidey comic at the time, albeit not nearly as well drawn. God bless you, John Romita, Sr.

Then we get a hefty dose of Spider-man vs Venom vs Carnage, with a whiff of that whole father/son/weird uncle thing they had going on at the time. The symbiotes were being heavily flogged at the time, so this is another glimpse at the state of Marvel circa 1994:

Heh heh. The Beavis and Butt-Head comics are actually pretty funny. Rick Parker drew and wrote them with Marvel artists completing the Comic-within-a-comic pages. Sadly, you haven't heard the last of it from me.



Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jigsaw Puzzled (Part 2)


Jigsaw returns to Earth, but the the Air Force crew sent to retrieve his capsule freaks out when he emerges with telescoping limbs and hijacks their copter while they trippin'. After landing, he goes to meet his fiancee, Betty, taking her for a drive to explain his new freakish condition. And you know, I always find it best to deliver traumatic news while driving straight toward a speeding train at top speed. Call me sentimental, that's just my way.

SUDDENLY!!!

Yes, its that hoariest of silver age comic book threats, escaped circus animals. Between circuses and zoos, older comics were rife with wild animals on the loose. Made for a good way to demonstrate the heroes' powers and pad out a few pages, you see.

Jigsaw rounds up the critters, and Betty, being a typical hysterical female, reacts predictably:

Then, Jigsaw just kind of walks off. He gets all of one panel to mope to himself, when suddenly, Si-Krell calls Jigsaw back to the Moon. Seems there's trouble headed for Earth, and only Jigsaw can help:

So there's these invaders called the Pulots -and seriously, what the hell kinda name is that? That would be like bringing in the love interest, and naming her "Lizza" or "Zazla" or something equally inappropriate and random. Not. Even. Tryin.

Crapbot explains that the Pulots want to invade Earth, and blah blah etc. He further explains that Pulots happen to look exactly like humans, and that the Krellites have their own Pulot mole, who just happens to be a blond bombshell...named...Zilla.

Sigh.


So human being and U.S. military man Col. Gary Jason sides with the robot that mangled and shoddily reassembled him against the other humans. Because the robot tells him to. Just so we got that straight.

Follows a raid, some sort of plan to disarm something. The comic is quite bad, and at this point, I've frankly lost track. The proceedings are further dragged down by the dead weight of Jigsaw's dull, dull personality; in addition to being dimwitted, Jigsaw is the stiffest, most uptight stretchy guy comics have ever seen. The two space agents foil the plot and return to the ship, Jigsaw apparently content to stay in space forever:

This whole scenario is a "Everything you knew is a lie!" reveal waiting to happen, had Jigsaw been a success. I can see the grim '90s revamp now, in some might-have-been world where Jigsaw became a permanent fixture in Harvey's line. Wherein after years of blissful ignorance, Jigsaw finally figures out what a bunch of shits these robots in general, and Si-Krell in particular, are. And Zilla ends up getting "jigsawed" in some grisly fashion. Then, the bloody, teeth-gritting revenge!



But Jigsaw was not a success, lasting only two issues, another of many ill-conceived books trotted out following the mid-60's success of the BATMAN TV show, the rise of Marvel Comics, and a general superhero craze. Harvey was obviously better at Friendly Ghosts and Poor Little Rich Boys than they were at costumed champions.