Thursday, November 17, 2011

Legion of Subpar Villains: He Also Flops Like a Fish

Look, Ive been at this long enough that I'm not going to start taking shots at Aquaman this late in the game. I mean, The guy is one of DC's longest enduring characters, he rules over roughly 70% of the Earth's surface, and yes, he definitely does quite a bit more than just "talk to fish".

On the other hand, he does tend to spend a lot of time bobbing around with a dumbfounded look. on his face.

That said, Aquaman has a real chum-bucket of a rogue's gallery, and waaaay down at the bottom of that barrel you'll find The Human Flying Fish!

A menace to man and seagull alike, The Human Flying Fish first appeared in Adventure Comics #272 (May 1960) when this lunkhead, Vic Bragg, allows this quack surgeon and self-proclaimed "Medical / Aquaman expert", Dr. Krill, to sugically alter him into a human fish. Somehow, miraculously, he does not die, but instead goes on to be a reeaaly subpar supervillain.

The Human Flying Fish recently reappeared in the last few issues of Aquaman:Sword of Atlantis. It's probably his fault it cot cancelled.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Legion of Subpar Villains: 100 Feet of Failure!

The Crimson Centipede made his one and only appearance in Wonder Woman #169 (April 1967), and surely must have driven WW artist Ross Andru "buggy" that month, having to draw all of those arms and legs. At least this Human Centipede didn't require anyone's mouth to be surgically attached to anyone else's butt; just some godly intervention from the clouds:

That's right, Mars don't care what pantheon he's supposed to be in, so you know he don't give a crap about nuanced storytelling. Crimson Centipede got the cheapest, easiest origin of all: the old "because the gods said so" trick. This happened to a lot of Thor villains as well, though Loki and the Enchantress usually at least picked a mortal to act as their pawn. Mars doesn't even have to put in that much effort, and apparently just poops out a Crimson Centipede when the whim hits him. Two panels later, the little rascal is robbing banks with no further explanation:

Wonder Woman tried to stop him, but quickly found herself overcome by the wily Centipede's amazing powers of brushing things aside and scurrying away:

This being a typical Silver-Age Wonder Woman story, the entire city immediately loses faith in our heroine! Luckily, she has a good man by her side to encourage her when times are bad:

Finally, Wonder Woman and the Crimson Centipede meet for a final showdown. The Centipede brings sixteen guns with him, and fires at the Amazon, who deflects his bullets with her magical bracelets. Now of course, this wouldn't be an old-timey Wonder Woman story without some freaky bondage subtext, so his next move ends up being a huge mistake:

That's right, kids, when Wonder Woman loses her Bracelets of Submission, she loses all self control and goes crazy-ape bonkers! WW beats the Centipede and starts tearing up the city, until a man (well, Steve Trevor) replaces the bracelets and puts her back in her place. Under control where she belongs, WW and Steve share a happy ending while Mars fumes and Aphrodite gloats (and Ares calls his lawyer).

And the Crimson Centipede was never seen again, another addition to the Legion of Subpar Villains.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Simpsons Comics (and Bongo Comics in general) have been reliably Very Good comics for years now; consistently well produced all-ages fare with occasional flashes of excellence. Issue #183, out yesterday was simply brilliant. Comic Book Guy overindulges on sugar and honey-laced mead at a Ren Faire and passes out in the Fortune Teller's tent while reading an Archie comic, leading to a bizarre future-dream in which "Everything's Bartchie" in Springfield!

Written by Ian Boothby and drawn by Stan Goldberg (a man who knows a little something about Archie), Simpsons Comics #183, from Bongo Comics is a must have if you have any fondness at all for Archie, the Simpsons or mash-ups.

BONUS: An all-too-fleeting glimpse of Principal Skinnerbee:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Legion of Subpar Villains: Doctor Doom, D.D.S.

Open wide and say AHH! From the Sensational She Hulk #18 (1990) comes today's loser super villain... DOCTOR DOOM's fifth cousin, Dr. Bob Doom, D.D.S.

I face a bit of a dilemma here, as I wonder if I should include subpar villains in this feature that were actually created to be goofy and ineffectual. Dr. Doom, D.D.S. was created by Steve Gerber, a satirist, for a "funny" comic, albeit one set in the "serious" Marvel Universe, so is it really fair for me to include him in my gallery of lame-os? Upon reflection, and since it makes my job much easier, I have concluded that yes, such characters are fair game.

She Hulk learned of the other Doctor Doom through a mutual client who got more than he bargained for from his last filling. A tiny implant in his molar was receiving radio broadcasts, and he decided to sue:

When she goes to inform the doctor of the malpractice claim, he doesn't take it too well. Cancelling all of his appointments for the day, he heads home for a nice, relaxing super villain rant:

Where most writers would have been content to deliver an evil dentist, Steve Gerber went that extra mile to gift us with an evil dentist who is also Doctor Doom's fifth cousin, and who has a severe case of super villain envy. Doctor (Bob) Doom goes on to explain that he's been placing implants into his wealthy patients mouths so that he can brainwash them and swindle them out of their fortunes. 

She Hulk figured out his scheme, of course, and beat him easily. Thus, Bob Doom D.D.S. was sent to prison, and never appeared in a Marvel comic again. Let's face it, he's a continuity annoyance, and Marvel would probably prefer to forget he ever existed. And you would have forgotten, if it weren't for the Legion of Subpar Villains. You're welcome.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Legion of Subpar Villains: Fire-Proof, But By No Means Fail-Safe

America: Land of opportunity, innovation, and sometimes, great stupidity. At some point in the late 19th century, we decided that Asbestos was the new wonder material that was going to insulate our homes, schools, and federal buildings, and generally make life a beautiful living dream. Later, it was discovered that asbestos was super-toxic to humans over the long term if handled or inhaled. WHOOPS! Since then, a multi-million dollar industry has been built up around removing and containing the asbestos that was installed in the first place.

So how big of a loser do you have to be to give yourself a terminal illness dressing up in a toxic gimp suit made of asbestos in order to fail at robbing banks? Just ask the ASBESTOS MAN, a one shot punching bag who debuted in Strange Tales #111 (Aug 1963). Like so many other enterprising, disgruntled comic book scientists, Orson Kasloff decided that work is for chumps, and he'd be better off using his universal solvent to rob banks. But with no criminal skills, how was he to gather a criminal gang? Clearly, the only answer was to pick a fight with the Human Torch, defeat the whippersnapper, and wait for the goons to come to him. I never said it was a good plan. These days, he's dying of Mesothelioma, courtesy of his poorly self-designed asbestos clothing sending millions of jolly, microscopic fibrous visitors to his lungs, long after those many years ago when that punk ass Human Torch beat him so very, very easily. Now it's a race between the chrysotile fibers strangling his lungs and the fibers burrowing under his skin as to which horrific form of cancer takes him first; skin or lung, if not both. Such are the horrors and consequences of unsafe asbestos handling.

This goof-ball is especially amusing when you consider the sliding timeline of the Marvel Universe. He probably went on his little crime spree about eight years ago, Marvel time. Ironically, he probably had an e-mail reminding him that it was time to take his annual asbestos awareness training waiting for him in his e-mail at work.

Most recently, Asbestos Man made a reappearance in Fear Itself: The Home Front #6, where the Terminally-ill Terror attempted a comeback before being confronted and talked down by the Great Lakes Avengers, none of whom would actually touch him. He still made it into their top 5 rogues gallery, though. Because they, too, are sub-par.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Legion of Subpar Villains: The Living Eraser!

"Dead ball!"

I've always had a place in my heart for the loser super-villain: that lower-class workingman tier of bad guy who has the moxie to strap some electrified springs to his feet or dress himself as a giant walking haystack and go out to steal himself a piece of the American dream, only to recieve an immediate and humiliating beatdown by Daredevil or Iron Man. Many are so pathetic, they are never seen again, cast aside for flashier, sleeker models of evil. There are always plenty of accolades for the Doctor Dooms, the Jokers and the Darkseids of comics, but what about those guys and gals for whom just showing their face in public is an act of courage? Only Again With the Comics has the guts to speak for the the once-hit wonders, the forgotten failures, and the goofy, reject remnants of supervillans past.

Only here do we honor...The Legion of Subpar Villains.

For example, take the Living Eraser...please!

Reknowned in his other-dimensional home for his spot-on Richard Nixon impersonation atomic-eraser gloves, this alien invader was sent to Earth to collect Atomic scientists for an invasion plan. The hungry little feller also grabbed up some delicious hot dogs while he was in the neighborhood:

Mmmm... hot dogs. So anyway, he erases some atomic eggheads (not to be confused with Egghead) and goes after Hank (Giant Man) Pym, who followed him to Dimension Z and easily dismantled the attack plans. The Living Eraser went on to fight the Thing and (ugh) Morbius, the Living Vampire, before disappearing into obscurity and an issue of She-Hulk that I never read.

Consider that his only power is basically to attack superheroes and bring them to his own house, and you'll see why the Living Eraser is a fitting candidate for the Legion of Subpar Villains.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Optic Nerve #12

Panels from "Amber Sweet"
Riding on the tidal wave of DC New 52 first issues and Marvel's Spider Island related comics this week, there was one little easily-overlooked alternative title that is well worth your time and money. Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly, $5.95) was released with little fanfare, but was easily the best comic of the week. Tomine has been producing Optic Nerve for 20 years to much acclaim, and the latest release is an affordable introduction to his work.

I was a huge fan of, and dearly miss, the independent humour/autobio comix of the 90's, and apparently Tomine is, as well. The last two pages of Optic Nerve #12 include a "throwaway" autobio strip in which Tomine is mocked by his peers for sticking with the "floppy format.

A fragment of a two-page strip from Optic Nerve #12

The issue contains two lead stories: "Hortisculpture", in which a gardener tries to combine his work with a dubious form of art, creating friction in his family life, and "Amber Sweet", wherein a young college student must contend with her striking resemblance to an online porn model.

Excerpt from "Hortisculpture"

"Hortisculpture" is presented as a series of daily newspaper comic strips, in black and white for six days with a color Sunday strip. It has a very "Peanuts" vibe to it, if Peanuts were about an overweight, depressive, middle-aged would-be entrepreneur, rather than schoolchildren. "Amber Sweet" is a more traditional, full color narrative. Both small human dramas are told with economy and elegance, complete in this issue. Both are excellent.

Skip Deathstroke and Suicide Squad (both are terrible, nihilistic trash) and treat yourself to Optic Nerve #12 instead!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Rebooty Call

Like everyone else, I read the last issue of Flashpoint and the first issue of Justice League to see what the brand spanking new DC Universe was going to have in store for us, and the first thing I noticed, as Barry Allen went running through the timestream to clean up his mess was, OH MY GOD, are you kidding me, they're already setting up the next "big event"?!

Some mystery woman shows up, mumbling about how the "history of heroes" was shattered to make way for "their impending arrival" and he has to bring the timelines together again, or everyone's boned for sure this time.
So Barry knits together the fancy new DCU, and we head straight into the first Justice League adventure, where Aquaman is alerted to an approaching Giant Space Starfish, by his loyal pal Peter the Pufferfish. He assembles his comrades in the Justice League of America, each of whom take turns battling Starro for several pages, before they figure out how to immobilize him with quicklime, thus saving the day!  Batman argues with Green Lantern, they fail to stop a monster from blowing up the sewer, then, Superman! To be continued! That'll be $4.00, please!

Today's comics could use more helpful exposition-spouting fish to speed things along.

I was hoping to see a move away from decompression, and back toward done-in-one stories, but it looks like we won't be getting that from Justice League. So you can probably figure that by the time the 6-part origin wraps up, it will be about time to kick this "mysterious lady" crisis into full gear, which ought to take up a good year or so. And I already don't care. Business as usual then.
Since I never learn, I did sign up for a few of the new titles, but probably fewer than I was buying before the change. I'll be getting Action, Superman, Firestorm, Legion of Super Heroes, that Robotman comic, Justice League Dark (hate the title), OMAC, Stormwatch, and maybe sample a few others.
It sounds like this has been a pretty successful relaunch so far for DC, and that's great - I certainly wish them the best. But for my part, I wish I saw less same ol' same ol', and more of the truly surprising. Maybe in the weeks to come...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back To Work

You might wonder what kind of idiot makes big deal out of five years of blogging, then immediately drops off the radar for two and a half months. Well folks, I am exactly that kind of idiot. Blame the extended hiatus on my father's day present (a Kindle), visiting family, a mild case of comics burnout, and mainly on the loss of my primary blogging laptop. But most of those issues are resolved, and we are back in business, bringing you the incoherent babbling you have come to crave!

I have been remiss in my blogging duties, and for that I apologize. I haven't even mentioned the new MODOK here, and that used to be my main schtick. Of course, I love new, all-up-in-your-grill MODOK. He's a feisty, can-do kinda guy who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. A lusty, gutsy, two-fisted Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, if you will. Best of all, this spider-legged skin-headed lunatic is a cloned offshoot of the original, so we can always get classic MODOK back whenever George Tarleton gets re-mutated, and you know he will. Then we can look forward to all-out MODOK WAR.

I haven't been ignoring comics the last couple of months, by any stretch. In addition to my weekly regulars, I've been reading some great Don Rosa Donald Duck books, and I finally got around to finishing Planetary. I've also been reading up on the Doom Patrol Archives, which had the mixed effect of  giving me some great old Silver Age comics to read, while at the same time making me rethink the virtues of some more recent comics. Look for more thoughts on that in the near future. Oh, I have so many half-baked opinions to share, my friends! Won't you join me?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

5 Years, 555 Posts, What, AGAIN With The Comics ?!?

Again With the Comics first feeble post hit the internet on June 13, 2006. Has it been five years already? Christ, I'm old.

I spent the last couple of weekends working in the yard. My wife and I have built quite a nice little garden paradise in the back yard of our house over the last ten years, and each summer means tending to it, which of course means less time for comics and blogging about comics. Which is not to say they aren't always in the back of my mind. Case in point: after all the work was done, I was sitting on the patio enjoying a beer and she was taking photos of all the new flowers she had planted. Needless to say, I soon leapt to my feet, stalked across the yard, and barked:
More bemused than amused, she rolled her eyes and continued her task. She's lucky I started up Again with the Comics five years ago, or I'd have to vent to her about DC comics' latest revamp, or how Marvel and DC keep screwing up their numbering, and that would be grounds for divorce, I'm sure. I mean, she she still has to hear more than her fair share of comics talk, like when we're watching 30 Rock, and I'm trying to explain why Liz Lemon and Superman should meet, because according to Suprman lore, they have a weirdly-fated "LL" connection:

But here I have a place where I can babble away about funnybooks to my heart's content, and everyone gets it.  

For newcomers, welcome. I am Brian Hughes, award winning Internet Comic Book Blogger and humble host of Again with the Comics. I write way more about comics than is healthy for a normal adult, see the archives for details. Longtime readers, linkers, commenters: Thank you for your support, my friends.You know, if you keep encouraging me, I'll never go away.

In closing, and for no particular reason, Daffy Duck by Peter Bagge:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Marvel to Relaunch Entire Line, Publish ONLY First Issues Starting January 2012.

Just some of the Marvel titles with long, unbroken runs  that have earned their pedigrees   published since the 1960's affected by "Forever First" changes 

Not to be outdone by cross-town rival DC Comics, Marvel Entertainment has announced a bold new publishing initiative called “Forever First” designed to revolutionize the concept of comic book collectability. Recognizing that every issue of a comic is someone’s first, and that collectors crave first issues like a junkie craves sweet,sweet smack, Marvel will launch an historic renumbering of the entire Marvel Universe line of comic books with 104 first issues, beginning January 11, 2012. This isn’t just a carbon copy of DC’s plan, however, since the next issues of each series, shipping in February, will ALSO be numbered issue #1, as will all comics published in March, April, May, and all subsequent months.

Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonzo explains further:
“Basically, this move is designed to provide maximum accessibility to all Marvel titles, while allowing every reader to feel like they’re jumping in at square one, every single month. We’ve stopped and restarted our numbering so many times, we frankly have no idea what issue Captain America is actually up to by now, so this seemed like the next logical step. Assuming you have a very flexible definition of the word “logical” that is. At least this way, Moon Knight never gets canceled again, and everyone can own a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1, every month!"

All titles will be available digitally on the same day-and-date as the print copies are released to comic shops, for $2.99 per download - But only for 4-6 hours. Then, a week later, the digital comics will be reoffered unless they aren't and the price will drop to $1.99, but all digital comics will download sideways so you have to twist your head to read them if you're on a sucky PC. Then, a week after that, they will download normally again, but only in black and white, and for $3.49. Then they go into the vault for six months. After six months, they’ll be available again, possibly in color, definitely on an incompatible reader, and probably, oh...let’s say $3.26. We’ll get back to you on that.

While it was still too early to release information on all of the 104 new titles destined to glut shelves in 2012, Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort was able to give some tantalizing hints:
“Forever First builds on long-term foundations that we’ve been laying for years here at the house of ideas. These are stories that needed to be told, and could only be told in a series of never ending first issue spectaculars! For example, we’ve been wanting to launch an ongoing Pet Avengers title, but we had to wait until the time was right to co-launch it with Ms.Lion’s New Pet Avengers. That time is now, and the place is Marvel!”

Instead of just changing the heroes' costumes once in January, Marvel will be taking a cue from recent issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, introducing a new costume for each major character every month. "Fans lose interest in the same old costumes faster than ever in this media-driven information age," explained Brevoort; "Readers are sophisticated enough to figure out that Spider-Man has joined the FF by now, and are bored with his dull old white costume.He really needs a new look ever time he appears; after all I don't wear the same clothes every day. Er, maybe that's not the best example..." Alonzo continues:  "Hey, Iron Man is genius enough to create a new armor every day, forget once a month! The possibilities are endless! Oh yeah, plus, someone DIES in every issue now, too! Venom, Cyclops, Daredevil, the Hulk and Annex are all joining the Avengers, but someone won't survive their first mission as a team! Can't guess who? Read it and find out!"

All 104 January-shipping titles weren't available at press time, but a partial list of confirmed books included some old favorites and some new surprises:
  • Spider-Man #1
  • Amazing Spider-Man #1
  • Web of Spider-Man #1
  • Spectacular Spider-Man #1
  • Sensational Spider-Man #1
  • Spider-Man Adventures #1
  • Spider-Man Pays His Bills and Washes the Dishes #1
  • Rocket Racer #1
  • Vengeance of Frog Man #1
  • Aunt May: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. #1
  • Captain America #1
  • Captain America and Bucky #1
  • Captain America is Talking About World War 2 Again #1
  • Avengers #1
  • New Avengers #1
  • Avengers Scabs #1
  • Avengers Academy #1
  • Avengers Cleaning Staff #1
  • Pet Avengers #1
  • Ms. Lion and the New Pet Avengers #1
  • Forbush Force #1
  • Ghost Rider #1
  • Tuff Ghosts Starring Ghost Rider #1
  • Fantastic  Four #1
  • FF #1
  • The Thing #1
  • H.E.R.B.I.E. and the Fantastic Force #1
  • Wolverine #1
  • Wolverine: Berserker Rage #1
  • Wolverine: Mellow Moods #1
  •  Wolverine Team-Up #1
  • Wolverine Force #1
  • Wolverine’s TV Laugh-Out
  • Wolverina #1
  • Wolverine Jr. #1
  • The Three Lieutenant Wolverines #1
  • Lady Bova: Legend of Wundagore #1
  • Mighty Iron Man #1
  • Iron Man #1
  • Iron Man, Too, But This One’s A Black Guy #1
  • X-Men #1
  • X-Force #1
  • X-Men Legacy
  • X-Treme X-Men #1
  • Uncanny X-Men (Team Cyclops) #1
  • Uncanny X-Men (Team Wolverine) #1
  • Ex X-Men #1
  • Deadpool, of Course #1
  • Red Hulk #1
  • Incredible Green Hulk #1
  • Beige  Hulk #1
  • She Hulk Squad #1
  • U.S.1 vs. Razorback #1
  • Invincible Thor #1
  • Thunderstrike and Lockjaw #1
  • Volstagg the Voluminous#1
  • Warriors Three #1
  • Journey into Thor #1
  • Web of Hercules #1
  • Marvel Team-Up
  • Marvel Two-In-One
  • Marvel Triple Action #1
  • Marvel Quadruple Action #1
  • Kickers, Unlimited #1
  • DP7, Inc. #1
  • New Street Poet Ray Adventures #1
  • Terrible Tinkerer #1
  • Yancy Street Gang #1
  • Venom #1
  • Venom's Wise-Guy Jokes #1
"And that's just the tip of the iceberg!" Alonzo muttered. "If these don't work for you, wait'll you see what we have in store for February! Two Words: Howard. The. Mutant." With this massive push, its clear Marvel plans to be "Number One" in comics for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I'll Bet This Somehow Ends Up Making Donna Troy EVEN MORE Confusing.

Well, Action Comics almost made it to #1000 uninterrupted, but those manics finally pulled the trigger. I've long despaired of this renumbering-mania that publishers are obsessed with, but Action and Detective Comics are two of the most venerable runs in comics, and seeing them go down is painful. If you've no idea what I'm rambling about, DC Comics is relaunching their entire line in September with a renumbering of all DC Universe titles at #1, and yet another continuity reboot. I'm assuming this includes Action and Detective, though they might be canceled outright for all I know. I would almost prefer that, since they could always be quietly brought back later with their original numbering, no bizarre deviations and no one the wiser. Yes, I actually worry about things like this.

Apparently, all of this involves more continuity tinkering, and tweaking of a number of troublesome story points. Rumors include new origins for some characters while retaining others, undoing Superman's marriage to Lois Lane, restoring Barbara Gordon to the Batgirl role, and a number of other claims that, if true, would require unwinding hundreds of recent stories from continuity, while apparently trying to keep others. In other words, they're opening exactly the same can of worms they opened 25 years ago with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It is also meant to reset the characters to younger, fresher and newer versions, which to me implies that a lot of recent works, Morrison's Batman, Inc. for example, may be swept under the rug in favor of a younger, hipper Batman who doesn't constantly remind you that he's old enough to have an adult "son" with the same job. How many very recent works will fall down the memory hole this time I wonder? Then there's the whole 'married Superman issue, and the legacy/generational aspect of the DCU in general that obsessives like myself enjoy, but theoretically are a turn-off to new, young audiences that DC hopes are waiting on the digital frontier.

A few problems, however:
If Jim Lee draws ten full issues of Justice League -on time and in a row- I'll eat my Justice League longbox and all of its no-longer-in-continuity contents. I don't believe for a minute that DC has the talent pool or the editorial competence to pull off FIFTY-TWO launches in September or any other month. This digital day-and-date thing could be a disaster for retailers; allowing customers to bypass the brick and mortar store entirely, and presumably download comics before they could physically make it to the store. How many stores will go down when Marvel inevitably follows suit?

And oh yeah, the last thing the DCU needs is another continuity hiccup. I'm sure I've mentioned this before.

For my part, I'll pick up whatever my favorite creators are working on. I would have purchased a Grant Morrison Superman book regardless of whether or not it came hand-in-hand with a crazy stunt. This just seems like a super-crazy stunt at a super-crappy time in the market, so I hope (more for my local retailers' sake than DC's) that they know what they're doing.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Alas, "The Governator" We Hardly Knew Ye.


Well, at least this won't be happening now:

As described by Co-creator Stan Lee in the pages of Entertainment Weekly #1149 (April 8, 2011) The Governator would have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger running around behind Maria's back -as a superhero- in his retirement:

"We're using all the personal elements of Arnold's life. We're using his wife (Maria Shriver), we're using his kids. We're using the fact that he used to be Governor. Only after he leaves the Governor's office, Arnold decides to become a crime fighter and builds a secret high-tech crime-fighting control center underneath his house in Brentwood."

The article goes on to describe the usual pie-in-the-sky hype that accompanies this sort of thing; multi-media platform, a 2012 animated series roll out (channel to be determined, natch!) and a comic book series via Archie Comics. I love Stan, but given previous history, I'm pretty sure that if this "love child" fiasco hadn't happened, we would have seen 3 or four issues of the Archie comic and no episodes of the cartoon before everyone involved lost interest when they didn't make a fortune easily and immediately.

The story also mentions a 46-page story bible with villains, situations, and sidekicks. Look out for the sassy housekeeper with the wisecracking son, Governator! I think she has a crush on you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Deja-Vu Deaths of Dr. Drool!

When I find a crazy old golden age story with a villain named "Dr. Drool" involved in it, you know I'm going to have to comment on it here somehow. Dr. Drool is a public domain character, therefore any comics creators reading this should use him immediately, though I recommend you depict him salivating copiously at all times. Unfortunately, Doctor Drool doesn't actually drool much at all, but what he does do, a LOT, is die and come back from the dead. In fact, he starts off the story in The Flame #4 dead, which his dwarf assistant Scully works frantically to change:

The refreshing thing about Dr. Drool is that he shows no interest in ruling the world  and no urge to create atomic super-monsters,  he just wants to kill all the jurors that sentenced him to death for his unspecified earlier crime.:

Understand, Dr. Drool didn't shoot the guy. He fired the gun, and this candy-ass died of fright. Back in the golden Age, a villain didn't have to work as hard, obviously. Dr. Drool sends out a lot more of these adorable little drooly-skull notes throughout the course of the story to build a sense of growing tension and not just because they were easy to draw. (Okay, it's probably because they were easy to draw.)

The Flame uses the greatest divining secret of the high Lamas, the reading of the morning newspaper to learn that Doctor Drool has returned from the dead, and sets out to stop him. While Dr. Drool is out killing a judge, the Flame explores Drool Manor, when a ghostly face appears!

Back in the Golden Age, a superhero could be forgiven for being suckered by the old empty-coat-and-mask-lit-up-by-a-flashlight trick once. The next day, Flame reads of the Judge's death in the newspaper, and heads straight back for Drool's mansion, where he sees a light in a third floor window. He leaps in the window where he confronts the madman:

But Dr. Drool outwits the Flame by employing the cunning stratagem of turning off the lights and running away. Flame gives chase but crashes through a hollow wall and lands in a tank of water. warm, thick water with froth around the edges.
Wait, Why is this guy called Dr Drool again...?

Yeah, er, Flame? That's not water...!

Anyway, Dr. Drool escapes until Big 3 #3, which finds him still plotting to kill jurors, and the Flame deciding to search that fucking mansion yet again. He sees a silhouette against the window and crashes in, only to find an empty room. Then he starts blundering around the room and trips a wire that turns out the lights, revealing:

Why that sneaky...! who could have predicted the old empty-coat-and-mask-lit-up-by-a-flashlight trick? This guy ain't the brightest Flame, is he? Our doughy moron wanders around the mansion for awhile longer, dodging some more deathtraps before accidentally finding, and getting thrown off a roof by, Dr. Drool. Oh yeah, he also fails to save Prosecutor Day, Drool's third victim. Not bad for a villain with such an asinine name.

The fourth Victim falls, and Drool kidnaps his daughter. The Flame follows to rescue her, but is captured in a net. Finally, he escapes and kills Dr. Drool with one punch. Freeing the girl, he turns to see the body is gone, and on a hunch, he drives to Dr. Drool's tomb. Sure enough, the dead body is in the coffin, and the Flame basically says "Good enough for Government work!" and calls it a day. BUT:

Oh look, the girl's father lived, no thanks to the Flame, but thanks to not dying with ridiculous ease

By the time we get to the Flame #4, Dr. Drool is back to being dead, so here comes Scully to bring him back to life again:

Drool wastes no time getting right back to killing those jurors; in fact this is starting to look a Hell of a lot like the previous issue of the Flame. The funny thing about these three stories is that the artist obviously drew the same story twice for some reason, and by God, he was gonna figure out a way to use each and every page. The overall effect was like reading a crappy Golden age version of Groundhog Day.

Cut to the Flame, reading his newspaper yet again, stunned that Dr. Drool is back from the dead yet again. He goes to the cemetery and gets himself ambushed and buried alive by Drool and Scully. Then its back to the mansion to fall for the same trick a third fucking time:

If the Flame did as good of a job tracking down Dr. Drool as he did keeping track of those bloody mice, five Jurors would have survived this awful, idiotic story. Anyway, much fighting, blundering, escaping, and chasing ensues until:

"Yeah, no use turning the body of this wanted murderer over to the police, they'll only think I swiped it! Guess I'll just take it back to the boneyard, again, and chuck it back into the coffin, again!"

The whole terrible journey might have been worth it for "Here we are pal, back again to your little house!"

And yes, after all that inanity, Dr. Drool lives to drool another day!

Scans from The Flame #4 
Big 3 #3
The Flame #5 By Basil Berold
Fox Feature Syndicate

All scans found at the Digital Comic Museum