Friday, January 30, 2009

Married...With Clobberin' ?



Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, Go together like a horse and carriage...
You know what doesn't Go together like a horse and carriage? Married...With Children and comic books. At least not if Married...With Children: Quantum Quartet is anything to go by. Casting Al, Peg, Kelly and Bud Bundy as the Fantastic four might have "rocked" for one issue, but stretched out for a whole flamin' series? That's pretty hard to see.


NOW Comics published a regular Married...With Children for a few years back in the early 1990's. At the time, comics were booming, and all kinds of strange stuff was on the racks. Married...With Children comics apparently even sold well enough to merit spin offs. Terrible, terrible spin offs. That, or NOW had the license, they had the cheap labor, and they were gonna milk it for all they could get.



Each issue has a framing sequence featuring Bud Bundy scrawling out his crude, amateurish, hastily-scrawled superhero parody comic, before fading in to...a marginally less crude, amateurish, hastily-scrawled superhero parody comic. It starts out set, inexplicably, in the 1950's, before breaking and abandoning the pretense almost immediately. The Bundys are watching a new giant TV that Al just won at a shoe convention when the TV blasts them with strange rays that give them powers.

I can't...do I have to describe the rest of this? They get their powers, they go to Ma Schooders Superhero Training Emporium (?!?) where the receptionist has a beehive hairdo and says 'youse" a lot to indicate her casual disregard for customer satisfaction and later there's disco jokes...! Nonono. Just no.


Mad magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond drew this early in his career under an intense deadline for chronically late pay. He has an interesting story about drawing the Married...With Children comic for NOW over at his blog.


The Quantum Quartet's main foe was Male Nurse Doom. Now, I used to watch Married...With Children, and it sure seems like I remember an episode where Peggy's old boyfriend shows up to try to win her back, and he turns out to be a male nurse, and Al gets all jealous. Then as surely as spring follows winter, hi-jinks ensue.

So yes: basically, I'm wondering if the Doctor Doom parody character in Married...With Children: Quantum Quartet is based on a canonical Married...With Children character. What.


NOW was another one of those cash-strapped funnybook operations that could never quiiite keep up with paying everyone, so Married...With Children: Quantum Quartet fell off the radar uncompleted for a year or so before returning with a single issue finishing off the series. I don't have it, and I don't plan to get it.



Belchaar. See, he burps.








.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Krypto Fascist


At first glance, it seems like it must have been a breeze to be a comic book writer back in comics' early days. Back then, there was no Internet, and they were writing to actual nine year-olds, rather than forty-year old men with the emotional maturity of nine year-olds. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Not so fast. The charming, goofy Silver-Age yarns we bloggers so glibly mock were largely produced by stressed-out, semi-suicidal wage slaves, so we have to cut them some slack if the prose was less than stellar. Take for example, "The Space Adventures of Krypto" written by original "Comics Done Him Wrong" poster boy / Superman Co-creator Jerry Siegel and drawn by George Papp.



Published in Superboy #77 (1959) "The Space Adventures of Krypto" finds Krypto romping in space mentally bitching to himself about cats, when ironically enough, along comes a kitten in an experimental rocket ship looking scared and helpless. Krypto guides the rocket to the planet below and frees the kitten:


Krypto then continues on to another planet, which we begins to explore. He comes upon a clearing with an obvious trap in place, and decides to "step inside, for laughs!" assured in his great powers. When two hunters return to see Krypto break free from their cage, they bow before him, and beckon him to follow them. He follows them back to their city to find:


Well, it took some doing, but someone came up with a goofier way of electing leaders than the electoral college. The Flying, Trap-Escaping Dog Prophecy hath been fulfilled, and the King is seated before his court:

How exactly does one interpret a dog's actions as commands anyway? I picture a lot of "His lordships' tail is wagging! This treaty with Lower Westonia pleases him!" and "He's licking his balls! We go to war!!"

Soon, his Imperial Dogship is feted in style, immediately becoming jaded by the royal life! Check out his bored, effete expression below. Yes, Superboy's pet quickly becomes accustomed to the pampered life, proving the axiom that absolute power corrupts absolutely!



Of course, the good times can't go on forever, or even for five minutes before the doughballs-in-waiting proudly bring their new monarch a nice big glowing ball of the one thing that can kill their new monarch...Kryptonite!

Soon enough, the witless minions sadly carry off King Krypto's apparently dead body, but before they can chuck his carcass on the compost heap, he revives and flies off, having lost his taste for the royal life.

But still there were pages to fill, so Krypto continues onward in his seemingly interminable space adventure:

An asteroid of dog biscuits, hot dog trees, and giant dog houses! Too good to be true? Krypto?


Well the stupid bastard obviously didn't get eaten. He used his Superdog freeze breath to freeze then shatter the killer plants, then returned home to Superboy:


Imagine the collectible value of poor Jerry Siegel's used cocktail napkins from back then. Crumpled, ringed with cheap Bourbon and stained with tears. Notes reading: "Krypto=king of planet. Hot dog and bone honey-trap. Check to see if Uncle Edgar still hiring at the dry-cleaners..."








YOUR PUERILE ANTICS
BORE KING KRYPTO




.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Super Human Resources



Ken Marcus was kind enough to send me a copy of his and artist Justin Bleep's upcoming Super Human Resources miniseries for review, and I liked what I saw. Super Human Resources is all about the Human Resources department of the worlds greatest superhero team as seen through the eyes of Tim, their newest temp. The miniseries follows Tim from his first day on the job, meeting all the Super Crises International Crew, to playing secret Santa to the world's mightiest man, to a surprise birthday party for the company's zombie receptionist. Tim must also thwart a plot to replace the team with outsourced Indian child labor and contend with evil sentient office equipment. Wacky superheroes abound, interacting as co-workers in a cross between the Giffen JLA and Dilbert. The initial four-issue series begins in February from Ape Entertainment, and with Diamond pulling their current tricks, I'd recommend ordering ahead of time from your retailer if you want to see it at all. Diamond Previews order codes are as follows:
DEC083752 Issue One
DEC083753 (ALT Cover)
JAN093975 Issue Two
FEB094040 Issue Three

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frankenstein Versus the Prize Comics No-Stars

Inter-company crossovers are nothing new. Companies have been teaming up their big name characters since the days of the Justice Society of America. As far back as Prize Comics #25, 1942, titans such as Yank and Doodle, the Black Owl, the Green Lama, Doctor Frost, and the "comedy" team of the General and the Corporal joined together to battle the perfidy of FRANKENSTEIN in a story that begins with the words "UTTER FAILURE" and goes downhill from there. I nearly forgot to mention Bulldog Denny, Frankenstein's "greatest enemy" who quickly hands off all Frankenstein-related responsibilities to this pack of goofballs in order to run off to Washington to advise in "some defense project". By which I assume he means booze, babes, and not battlin' Frankenstein.

Yank. And Doodle. Oh, the Golden Age, don't ever change.




Wacky cartoon characters casually interacting with more realistic figures is another thing I miss in today's comics. Not these wacky cartoon characters, mind you. The General and the Corporal really suck and should stay in limbo forever.


I don't even know what to say about all that. How about: "Ha ha, Now you can't unsee it either."




Now to let Yank and Doodle have a crack at 'im!

Yank and Doodle!!
Yank and Doodle! They're like TWICE the Robin and NO Batman!

Then Frankenstein got so annoyed, he committed suicide. THE END.

Dick Briefer's Frankenstein began in Prize Comics # 7, and was normally much better. It started as a straightforward horror strip before morphing into a horror adventure strip (in which the monster fought the aforementioned Bulldog Denny) before again morphing into a more benign humor strip. The funny one was really, really good, but it took awhile to get there, denying Breifer's Frankenstein a significant place in comics history, save with the most obsessive of nerds. Ahem. ANYWAY, this bizarre little transitional yarn was the bridge between mean old scary Frankenstein and Light-hearted, all-American reformed Frankenstein.




.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Barack Obama Versus the Green Goblin!

Like everyone else in America, I picked up a copy of the Amazing Spider-Man #583 last week. In my case, I'm a regular reader, won over by the last year's worth of very enjoyable Spider-Man comics. There's been a controversy regarding the weekly Amazing Spider-Man title since a soft reboot that annulled his marriage. I have to admit, after early misgivings, that it seems to have worked out well. All of which is to say that while I was amused by the Obama short (though I was a bit annoyed when the Chameleon acted like it was his first time ever impersonating someone), I was mainly in for the feature story. That said, there's an even more pivotal Obama appearance coming one day after the inauguration, when the newly minted president comes face to face with Norman Osborn a.k.a. The Green Goblin!

The former Green Goblin has become a major power broker in the Marvel Universe, and his next move takes place in Thunderbolts #128, solicited as follows:

From the ashes of Secret Invasion, an all-new era for the Thunderbolts erupts, with repercussions felt right across the Marvel Universe! Yelena Belova (a.k.a. Black Widow II) leads the irredeemable Ant-Man and the sinister Ghost in a daring mission to take down the U.S. President aboard Air Force One! But even as Norman Osborn tightens his grip on power, he must battle toe-to-toe against his deadliest foe: the Green Goblin! Wait, what...? Be there as writer Andy Diggle (The Losers) and artist Roberto De La Torre (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) flip everyone’s favorite team of villains upside down!


This week some preview pages were posted online, and as you can see, they are chock-full of Obama. The way it reads seems to confirm that Bush put Norman Osborn in charge of the Fifty State Initiative (despite a scene in Secret Invasion #8 that made it look like Obama), and the new President is at least temporarily stuck with Osborn running the world's superhuman community. Osborn is obviously no happier with his new boss, and is already plotting to keep his grip on power. I'm guessing that Norman engineers an attack by some bogus Green Goblin that he can "save" the President from, thus cementing his hero image, distancing himself from the Goblin, and keeping his job. Whatever happens, its worth pointing out that President Obama makes his first substantial Marvel Universe appearance this week in a book that the general public has never even heard of, so it may be worth reserving a copy if you want to read it. All I know is that I hope Obama got Spidey's cellphone number,because he may need it!



Thursday, January 15, 2009

DONALD NO





In lieu of content, the glassy, dead-eyed stare of Donald Duck.










Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Emobot 3000 Cleans, Weeps, Fears Women




Women! Cannot live with them, cannot reduce their actions to a simple stream of easily-translatable binary data! Comics had never dealt with robosexuality before the landmark "The Perfect Servant" from Out Of This World #12, March 1959.








.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comics I'm Reading: Secret Six, The Walking Dead

I noticed an eerie synchronicity between THE WALKING DEAD#57 and SECRET SIX#5 this week, inasmuch as both had horrific neck-biting scenes and in neither case was the neck-biting the most disturbing thing in its respective story.



I've made no secret of the fact that I have misgivings about the gore and violence that have been increasing in mainstream Marvel and DC comics, but I qualify that by adding that I have no problem with books like the Secret Six. Each universe should be able to have its dark corners while keeping their marquee characters relatively light and PG-ish. Secret Six contains no Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman and I doubt any six-year-olds are actively seeking out Deadshot or Scandal Savage appearances, so there's more room for adult themes. Gail Simone has done an excellent job of keeping this book from getting over grim, injecting the book with wrong, wrong humor in a manner reminiscent of Garth Ennis. She's done some great character work on the group, making me care more about Bane, for example, than I ever have before. Issue #5 is almost heartbreaking when the big guy suffers a rain of bricks for his teammates as they nearly leave him for dead. But then they come save him -awwww! That said, I desperately wish I could unsee "Junior".



I'm not sure I've mentioned The Walking Dead here yet, but let me rectify that now. I've been on board with Robert Kirkman's zombie epic since issue one, and its usually the first thing I read each week it comes out. TWD #57 finds the human survivors on the road and heading to Rick's hometown to stock up on firearms on the way to Washington. Once again, we see that the zombies aren't nearly as much of a threat as other humans. Rick Grimes, the series protagonist has another in a series of traumatic turning points in this issue, and I can definitely feel for the poor bastard, trying to protect his son in a dying world. In the long run, the Walking Dead is less about the zombies than it is about the unraveling of one mans soul.

Friday, January 09, 2009

INSIPID TALES



AAHHH HEE HEE HEE HEEE !!!

Welcome, Fear-feinters! Come in from the cold, my friends! Don't be afraid...YET! Well, at all really.

I'm your host, the Old County Clerk and Recorder..KEEPER! Our community doesn't employ a crypt-keeper as such, and all of our graves are dug with back-hoes operated by city employees, but those employees are under my direct supervision! A-HEE HEE HEE!!!

I'm getting off the subject.

AH HEE HEE HEE!! Prepare to be emotionally unaffected, as I present to you three torpid tales of inanity! First, you'll never look at the Franklin Mint in the same way again,after you read:

HOW IRONIC. He smashed up all of his furniture but somehow missed the tiny porcelain man and his tiny porcelain wife, then they came to life somehow and beat him half to death. It just goes to show, smash the smallest, most helpless stuff first.
(EDIT 1/14/09 -Craven commenter RAB points out that this story isn't quite as insipid as I make it out to be in the comments section!)

The next entry in my Ledger of Lameness concerns a little boy, a dog whistle, and complete and utter pointlessness.


Uneventful, wasn't it kiddies? There's one story that truly... BLOWS. AHEE HEE HEE!


Finally, a sluggish saga of how one man's search for immortality, coupled with his woeful inattention to detail leads to insipid results:

Ahee hee hee! Should have asked for a drivers license, buddy! That's all for now, dread-dodgers, time for the the Old County Clerk and Recorder to crawl back into the tomb. I'm just going to need you to sign here... And here. And here. Then initial here by the "X"es....



"Lord Rampion's Rampage" from Tense Suspense #1, 1958 By Al Fago (Studio)
"Dog Whistle" from Out of this World #8, 1958 by Dick Malm
"To Live Forever" from Out of this World #10, 1958 by Paul Reinman

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Guest Art By Gregory

Presenting a special guest comic by my son, Gregory Hughes!