Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And Now, the Crustacean You've All Been Waiting For


Y'know, I was going to break this sequence down into individual panels, but as you can see, George Tuska (pencils) and Artie Simek (lettering) made it damn near impossible. So screw it. And heck, it is the book's climax, and as I used to say to my dates, "I might as well show it to you in all its uncut glory."
  • The very idea of Demitrius lends itself well to the kind of surreal, almost dadaist fun that superhero comics can do so well. Unfortunately, it's all weighted down by mounds of soggy, pretentious "Marvel Method" prose. Blech.
  • "Creature"? "Transformed non-man"? Sure, a guy sprouts a couple of cranial lobster arms and suddenly he's a monster. Would you have used those words if you'd written the comic where Abra Kadabra turned the Flash into a marionette, Young Gerry Conway? I should think not. Young Gerry Conway is unfair to mutated proto-Serbs!
  • [Setting: the interior of a brownstone in Hackensack. The Del Pieros, a retired couple, are having coffee in their dining room when someone rings the doorbell.]

    Mrs. Del Piero: I'll get it, honey. [She opens the door and sees a twenty-foot-tall man in green coveralls, with lobster-clawed arms protruding from his skull.] Yes...? Oh! You must be the new delivery guy my neighbor Mrs. Totti mentioned... Demitrius, is it?"

    UPS guy: Yea... I am Demitrius -- and I bring DEATH! [He presents her with a small cardboard box.]

    Mrs. Del Piero: Death? For me? But I didn't send away for any death.

    [Demitrius is busy punching buttons on his electronic clipboard, but acknowledges her with a shrug.]

    Mrs. Del Piero [calling to husband]: Honey? Did you order my death?

    Mr. Del Piero [raises coffee mug cheerfully]: Not today, honey! But don't tempt me!

    [They both chuckle at this.]

    Demitrius [presents her with the clipboard and his stylus]: Just sign here, and here, and here.

    Mrs. Del Piero [hesitates]: I don't know if I'm-- I mean, could I send this back? If it's no trouble? It's just that I not ready for death.

    Mr. Del Piero: Who's it from?

    Mrs. Del Piero: Hang on, I'm talking to the delivery guy!

    Mr. Del Piero [louder]: What...? Who's it from? Who sent it to you?

    Mrs. Del Piero [frustrated]: How should I know?!

    Mr. Del Piero: Well, it's got a shipping label, don't it?

    Mrs. Del Piero: Oh, for--! Fine! [she examines the box] Oh! It's from my sister!

    Mr. Del Piero: WHAT...?!!

    Mrs. Del Piero [hollers]: IT'S FROM MY SISTER! [to herself] I suppose I can't send this back to her...

    [She reluctantly signs the form, and Demitrius departs. She carries the little box into the dining room and sits back down with her husband.]

    Mr. Del Piero: Well? Aren't you gonna open it?

    Mrs. Del Piero: Oh, I'd rather not. I guess I'll just put it away somewhere.

    Mr. Del Piero: Like where?

    Mrs. Del Piero: I thought maybe in the -- [catches herself, smiles, and wags her finger at him] Oh! You're a very naughty boy!

    Mr. Del Piero: Almost got you! [grins, takes a sip of coffee] So what are you gonna tell your sister when she calls and asks how you like your death?

    Mrs. Del Piero: I'll just lie and tell her it's wonderful.

    Mr. Del Piero: Ah, so it'll be just like our wedding night! [then, wistfully] ...Y'know, I probably will kill you someday.

    Mrs. Del Piero: Get in line, darling.

    [They both laugh.]

    [Fade out.]
  • Reading the captions, I have to wonder if Young Gerry Conway ever intended for Demitrius to be drawn with lobster-clawed cranial appendages in the first goddamn place. He talks about fire and lightning bursting from Demitrius's brain and grabbing Iron Man, not some kooky monster arms. I'm guessing he had pictured some kinda Kirby-kracklin' energy spewing out from a bloated noggin and not the Golden Age-styled nonsense Tuska wound up drawing. The sad part is, the story's better for Tuska's "mistake."
  • Demitrius to Slasher: "And that is why you are the tool--!" Preach it, brother!
  • "Mister Kline!" Ugh. Once again, this limpest of villain names ruins a perfectly good melodramatic pronouncement. It would have been exponentially cooler if Demitrius had said "Doctor Doom!" or "Kang the Conqueror!" or hell, even "Zarrko the Tomorrow Man!" Anything but "Mister Kline!"
  • George Tuska's groundhog-like fear of delineating shadows makes it easy to pretend that in that largest panel, Demitrius hasn't quadrupled in size after all, but has merely leapfrogged over Iron Man, into the foreground. And as we all know, Demitrius is fond of leaping.
  • Are your appetites whetted for a balls-out battle between Iron Man and Demitrius? They are? Well, too damn bad, because Young Gerry Conway thought the next panels would be best put to use looking in on Mr. Kline and his "uncluttered desk." Heh.


Dave said...

Demitrius, a/k/a "Migraine Man", a/k/a "Butt-Head", a/k/a "Ol' White Eyes", a/k/a "The Delicate Instrument".

Damn, they were just trying to finish this one any damned way they could, eh? It's the only reason I can think of why ol' Tentacle-Head would mention the name of their boss. Whoops. Smooth move, polka-dotted spy dude.

Anonymous said...

Hey...Shellhead has male-pattern baldness. I never noticed that before. Thanks for the tip, Demitrius!

It's a shame they couldn't show Tony's "Hey, look, it's a fifty foot tall, eyeless skinny guy in a polka-dotted jumpsuit and bulging forehead about to sit on me" face.

Wait a second. What's so gosh-darned "delicate" about a gigantic guy with no eyes and mechanical tentacles and lightning sometimes spouting from his puffy lobe in a hideous jumpsuit? I've never thought to myself, "I've got these tweezers and tiny screwdriver, but what I really would like is a half-assed gigantic transsexual villain (hey, he's a "non-man," so I guess) to help with the tough parts of this job."

However, you're right. If this had been, say, a 1950s Batman story, Geoff Johns would be asked every day to bring him back, even if it's just to work for Mister Kline some more.

Less about the panels, I'd definitely read a comic starring the Del Pieros.

Who thinks Slasher's now sitting in the corner saying, "you're the tool--I mean fool!"

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Wow, that was pretty lame. I've seen lame before but Demetrius is the lamest lame that ever lamed a lame.

Bill S. said...

"My mind is over-burgeoning with potent imaginings"? Even Stan Lee would wince at that feeble writing.

I still think the lobster claws from the forehead is pretty neat.

Anonymous said...

I knew that the Marvel Superheroes role-playing game had a system for random superhero generation. I never realized that they used it for writing actual comics!

Tony: "Sweet! Flight, repulsor rays, armor, and low-level super-strength. I'm thinkin' I'll make a guy with power armor. What'd you roll up, D?"

Demetrius: "Um, precognition, super-growth, and extra limbs that I get to roll again for. Let's see... robotic tentacles... with claws... from my forehead. And the random costume table says my costume has polka-dots."

Demetrius: ...

Demetrius: "Yeah, I'm not even gonna bother to give this guy a name. Let's just call him Demetrius. He won't last long."

Stephen R. said...

The dialogue between Mr. & Mrs. Del Piero - - especially the "Get in line, darling" - - is very Nick & Nora Charles. Which makes me love it. Hard.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Dave: Wow, I never even realized that! I guess I'm so used to 70's comic characters constantly referring to their friends and associates by their names -- loudly -- that this one just slipped right by. ("Mister Kline"... holy balls.)

Anonymous: Yeah, Slasher's totally pouting off-panel with his arms crossed and a fresh pee stain on the crotch of his jumpsuit.

Jon: Yes, but he's delicately lame.

Bill S.: Well, they coulda sprouted from worse places, I guess.

Dr. Tectonic: Haw! That's pure genius! (Clearly, your mind is over-burgeoning with potent imaginings.)

Stephen: Yes, but do you love it long time?

Anonymous said...

Wow. And just wow.