Thursday, October 25, 2007

D-List Monsters of Super-Hero Land: The Mole, Part Two

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What I Hate About Roy Thomas' Writing, Exhibit A: a character saying out loud and to nobody at all, everything that is happening in a panel, including his own actions. Just think how much more suspenseful and interesting that first panel would be without any speech balloons. We can see a mound of earth following him from panel one to panel two, so there's no need for him to state that he's being followed by something underground. His clothing, location, and physical attitude indicate somebody who's running in a panic. All that wordiness contributes nothing to Gene Colan's fantastic artwork. Now, if this was drawn by somebody as incompetent as, say, Rob Liefeld, I could understand the need for descriptive speech -- and puh-lenty of it, given that Liefeld probably wouldn't even draw the guy's feet -- but with a master like Colan all those words just get in the way.

But enough of this. You all came to my cowtown sideshow to see the Mole, didn't you? Let's investigate, along with The Dad-Burned Batman!

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Journey to the Center of Apache Chief's Sphincter!

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Told ya so.

Careful, Bats -- he eats of lot of Moroccan food.

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"Good God!"

Y'know what would have been better than Batman saying "Good God"? If he said "Eep!" or "Yowza!" or even "Oy gevalt!" I mean, why half-ass it?

But yeah, that's the Mole. Yes, I know. I'm just as disappointed as you are. From the boring, naked, Clayface-Lite body to the blandly unattractive face (practically swiped from a Sal Buscema human character) and the inexplicable slick-back hairdo (what is he, Alec Baldwin?), the Mole is one lame monster. Almost is bad is his habit of saying "Huh-huh" in every other panel. I can't read this comic nowadays without thinking he sounds like Butthead, of "Beavis and..." fame.

You might think the Mole was created especially for this issue, but you'd be wrong. Because this is a Roy Thomas story, and his hard-on for continuity is rivaled only by (the Marquis de) Geoff Johns.

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Oh, its not good when you enter a jail cell and the other inmates are looking at you like that. (From what Storm Boy tells me, anyway.) Retreat, Mole! Retreat!

Next: More Mole! Including a panel where he terrifies a coffee cup.

You heard me.

12 comments:

Isaac said...

The Mole is pretty obviously a reference to a story from MAD #2. (The story, often reprinted, is called "Mole!" It's drawn by Will Elder and written by Kurtzman.) The "tunnel effect" of a row of upturnd earth, Bugs-Bunny-style, is pretty constant in the MAD story. The fact that this monster has just killed someone named Kurtzmann pretty much clinches it.

If the Batman villain is going "huh huh" ever other panel, that's coming from the MAD story. Even some of the texture of the Batman Mole's skin seems to be coming from Will Elder's pimply, hairy, filthy Melvin Mole.

Isaac said...

Whoops -- I meant "every other panel."

I hadn't noticed when I made the first reply that the Mole is chasing someone named "Elder" in the first sequence you quote. That puts the reference sort of beyond "likely," and into "obvious," I think. The timing in that sequence seems to borrow a lot from the opening of a story in MAD #3 called "V-Vampires!" (also a Kurtman/Edler collaboration).

I'm guessing that "I know you're up there... I can smell you!" is also a riff on something from MAD, but I don't remember anything in particular.

Isaac said...

Whoops. (Sorry for the serial posting.) "V-Vampires" is by Kurtzman and Wally Wood.

Bill S. said...

I was under the impression that no one rivaled Roy Thomas in terms of hard-ons for continuity.

And the Mole doesn't look like much of a mole at all.

Blockade Boy said...

Isaac: Well, I'll be hornswoggled. I got the Kurtzman and Elder references, but for no good reason I thought Thomas was riffing off EC's horror line. Now that I know the Mole is a tribute to Mad Magazine, I despise the character even more.

Bill S.: Oh, but you haven't seen the Mole's teeth (all two of 'em). As for modern-day continuity junkies, I figure Johns and Kurt Busiek are probably the leading contenders. But yes, Thomas is Continuity King. (Good Legion try-outs reject name!)

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Nice buffalo shot of Batman there.

Bill S. said...

Whenever someone starts talking about continuity, I always think of Jonni DC, Continuity Cop, and how Darkseid zapped her.

Blockade Boy said...

Jon: MST3K reference... nice. (That's where I swipe all my jokes about guys "showboating their butts" from. Danger! Death Ray!)

Bill S.: Heh. I forgot about that! Er, not that I'm condoning violence against mascots.

Anonymous said...

I think Kurt and Geoff blow Roy away when it comes to worship of random continuity bits. The Power Company was an entire series written around the Mole's raison d'ĂȘtre, with his Superman run not far behind, and the entire Sinestro Corps War crossover slop is built off a throwaway Alan Moore story, for goodness sake!

Looking around sheepishly.

Hey, look at how Robin has his arm over Batman's shoulder! Noteworthy not for any light it may or may not shed on their relationship, but an intriguing Escheresque use of perspective in the panel to make Robin briefly taller than Batman for the gag to work.

Also noteworthy is indeed "Good God!" which made an occasional appearance when I guess "Great Gotham" started to sound stupid to the writers.

MaGnUs said...

BONNNG! BONNNG!!!

Blockade Boy said...

Anonymous: "Great Gotham"? Sizzling planets, what a stupid expression!

MaGnUs: I was waiting for somebody to pick up on that!

MaGnUs said...

And it just HAD to be me :P Is the letterer Roy Harper?