Monday, November 05, 2007

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

"The Brave and the Bold" #178 (September, 1981) opens with Batman assaulted by a windstorm of paper, while on the trail of a serial killer. "Ten victims in three weeks -- ranging from junkies and derelicts to a few college kids who had a bit too much to drink!" thinks Batman (sternly, natch). And in each case, a chain of paper dolls was draped around the victim's torso.

A caption box then informs us that "Nearby, at the studios of WHAM-TV" (all George Michael, all the time), this is happening:

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September, 1981, folks. Thank goodness people stopped subscribing to that paranoid nonsense by your own year of 2007, huh? Am I right? Who's with me, people? ...Guys?

*crickets chirping*

One citizen who's filled with outrage (at Dr. Laura's Clayton Watley's ability to score his own TV show) is Jack "the Creeper" Ryder, whose manager informs him "Lotsa people want to hear what he has to say, Jack! Besides... that could've been your show! You're the one who gave up newscasting to work in security, remember?" And while Ryder's regretting that bone-headed career choice, made for him by another writer (probably not Ditko) back in an issue of "World's Finest", he's nearly run over by a gal in polka dots big enough to psyche out Deborah Domaine -- not to mention, she probably has the Don Henley song, "Dirty Laundry", playing in her brain, 24-7.

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Anyway, I'd never seen this Vera lady before or since this comic, but I think she's just the bull's balls, as we say in 2987. And, of course, I love how the purple-suited "Ryder" engages her in some grade-A, catty repartee, before ducking out to put on stripey green Speedos and a red fur boa. Subtext? You're drowning in it!

Thanks to Watley's skills as a rabble-rouser, his audience members have apparently switched off their massive 1981-style television sets (approximately the size of an oven and weighing in at just a few grams lighter than a dwarf star) immediately after the end of his program, and have moved into the streets looking for somebody to pelt with debris.

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Granted, the Creeper may be exacerbating the situation by allowing Batman to roger him on top of that roof, in plain sight, right across from that playground.

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He's skipping out of danger!

Naturally, his impish gadding-about leads him right into a confrontation with the Origami Monster.

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The origami monster is all about the environment.

The monster uses the term "pollutant" a lot, and while it does have a dehumanizing ring about it, it's also vague and off-puttingly euphemistic. I mean, who talks like that? Outside of supervillains, religious fascists, radical socialists, and -- okay, so I guess there are some nuts out there who do talk like that, but here, for some reason, it seems rather toothless. I'm torn over it, to be honest. The origami monster and Watley are both intolerant reactionaries, but it's hard to pin down exactly what they're reacting against, because their terminology is so goddamn toothless! (Although the origami monster seems to have a major grudge against winos.) I'm sure this intellectual shilly-shallying was a necessity in the mainstream publishing world of 1981, but it doesn't make it any less annoying. On the other hand, most politicians, pundits, and religious leaders don't really say what they mean, when they express a view that they're certain will encounter any amount of opposition. For instance, fear mongers (and their fearful followers) will say that they oppose gay marriage, not on the grounds that they don't understand gays or that they think gays are weird and gross, but because they're certain that the very existence of gay marriage will somehow stop heterosexuals from getting married. Which doesn't even make any sense, but it gives the homophobes something to latch onto that sounds like a positive (helping to preserve an institution... that was never in any danger from that quarter, but whatever) instead of a negative (trying to oppress a group's freedom). So in that sense, the origami monster is just as self-deceptive and prevaricating as the people it parodies. It's just that I can't imagine this aspect of its personality was intentional.

Okay! So anyway, the origami monster at this point has the Creeper bundled up like so much ground chuck, and it launches a fearsome attack on Batman... that could be duplicated by any rowdy third grade class:

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Thankfully, Batman's keen mind recalls that FIRE BAD.

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Fahrenheit 451: the temperature at which goofiness burns!

That's not the end of the origami monster, though. Check back tomorrow!

7 comments:

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Dr. Clayton and the paper monster are both routing against the same vague "pollutants" to society? They couldn't be related or anything, could they.

Scipio said...

I'm wagering Wetley is a paper-controlling mutant who mind is attacking ne'er-do-wells while he sleeps, because that's what would make the least sense here.

I also note that the Creeper's uncharacteristically philosophical musings would ring more true if he weren't LHAOing while making them. Creators forgot that HAHAHAHA isn't a sound-effect that just kind of happens when the Creeper makes and entrance or exit.

Anonymous said...

And the Origami Monster is brought to a halt when Batman, staring at the Creeper, shouts, "Drop the paper, Clayton. That's right, I can see you."

You know, it's sort of sad that Dr. Wetley got cut off before he could identify these subversive freaks and malcontents. If he had, maybe the Origami Monster and angry mobs would be dogging the steps of politicians instead of college kids, drunks (is that redundant?), and super-heroes.

I didn't just say that. Go out and vote, kids!

Johnathan said...

Jack Ryder not on TV? It boggles the mind - he's the best media personality that DC's got!

Dave said...

It'd have been cool if the Bat-Laser just left a little black burned spot on Origami Man. (You know, like a real laser... oh, never mind.) Then O-Man could get off another one of those zingers like, "You will be swept away, with the other trash!" or something.

Fortunately, the Batman packs a Napalm Laser.

Goddamn him.

Blockade Boy said...

Jon and Scipio: Well, so much for the "shocking revelation" in tomorrow's post. And Scipio, wouldn't it be kinda cool, though, if disembodied laughter just followed the Creeper around like a bad smell?

Anonymous: Even better, the origami monster could be composed of badly-Xeroxed newsletters composed by trust-fund radicals.

Jonathan: As you'll see here, this story plops Ryder back into his "status quo" position. So it's kinda like a Geoff Johns story, only the hero doesn't come off like a whiny masochist.

Dave: Heh. Goddamn Batman...

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Sorry, it's the law of the economy of characters.

But now that Scipio said that, I think I remember seeing this story now. It may have been in a World's Strangest Teamups or something.