Friday, December 15, 2006

It's a Vandal, It's an Outrage

blockadesantahead What the--?! I leave Jeremy alone with the computer for two days while I enjoy a ski vacation with Travis Morgan and the blog goes to hell in a freaking handbasket. Bah, humbug! Well, that's it. I was going to share a costume redesign with you all today but my nerves are just too jangled. It will have to wait until Monday. (It's for Night Girl. I would have done something before now but to be frank I'm terrified of her hair.) So instead, enjoy my description of a DC Universe teenage-themed humor comic from Earth-Riverdale.


In late 1968, DC decided to combine the concepts of "Leave It to Binky" and "Anthro" into a new book. The result? "Ramble with Vandal," featuring Vandal Savage, an immortal Cro-Magnon teen misadventuring through the swinging 60's. Although drawn in a derivative "Archie Comics" style, Vandal lacked the girl-friendly boyishness of Archie Andrews and his clones. In fact, he was intensely hirstute -- a fact that was mined for many a gag. At least once an issue, his bushy black beard would be shaved off by an authority figure or a conniving girlfriend. In the very next panel an identical beard would instantly grow to take its place. (This was typically accompanied by the sound effect "SPROING!") Vandal differed from Archie in another significant way: he had no moral compass whatsoever. Beneath his friendly facade, he was as treacherous and as self-serving as Reggie Mantle, as brutish as Moose Mason, as voracious as Jughead Jones, and as calculating as Dilton Doily.

A typical plot had Vandal leading a protest march on his high school campus, taking over the cafeteria building, and from there proceeding to take over the entire school. After making a series of increasingly ridiculous demands, his movement fell apart when everyone else got bored. A self-effacing joke and a shit-eating grin was all it took to win over the principal and avoid detention. The last panel showed the principal's secretary mussing Vandal's mop of hair and shrugging, "That's Our Vandal!"

Archie may have been torn between the affections of Veronica and Betty, but Vandal steadily gathered a veritable harem of admirers. A girl introduced and dated in one issue would show up in the following issue as part of Vandal's entourage, smiling and cooing and making googoo eyes at him. This process continued until all of his male hangers-on had been replaced by former dates. Vandal had enough girlfriends by the book's twentieth issue that it could feature a story titled "Vandal's Dodecatuple Date!" In that book-length tale, Vandal schemed to divide a single night among twelve different girls at twelve different locations, without having to pay for anything himself.

The book lasted into the mid-70's, although in its last few years it was converted into a horror anthology, "Vandal's Creepy Conundrums." Vandal stayed on in the role of "Your hairy host, Vandal the Savage" but he was restricted to appearing in only the first and the last panel of each story.

More fun facts about "Ramble With Vandal":
  • Charles Manson has cited the book as "a major inspiration."
  • So has Bill Clinton.
  • In 1969, Dennis Hopper made an unauthorized film adaptation of the comic, titled "Savage Rder." Starring in the title role: Richard Kiel.
  • In 1971, Richard Nixon called the comic "a key source of the moral decay that plagues our once-great nation."
  • In 1990, this sentiment was echoed at a press conference by Vice-President Dan Quayle. The diminutive politico seemed extremely put-out when a TV reporter explained that it hadn't been published in sixteen years.
  • Perhaps inspired by Quayle's reference, cartoonist Phil Foglio wrote and drew a four-issue revival of "Ramble with Vandal" which saw publication in 1992. That book showed Savage working as a "tenured radical" professor on a small-town college campus. When a wily teenage student named "Scandal" inexplicably foils his various schemes, Vandal is driven into a comical rage. In the last issue, he becomes so exasperated with the young woman that he ends up in the campus bell tower, aiming at her with a sniper rifle. Suddenly he gets a phone call -- the private detective he'd hired to "dig up dirt" on Scandal has made a shocking discovery! It turns out that Scandal is Vandal's long-lost daughter! He shoots anyway.
  • In Neil Gaiman's "Sandman," Vandal owns the Dreaming's most intimidating mansion, which he calls "the Chateau of Savagery." Vandal muscled out the home's original owner, Cain, and relegated him to the somewhat less-imposing Poolhouse of Mystery.
  • To unlock Vandal as a playable character in the Playstation 1 game "Atari Vs. DC," press up-arrow, down-arrow, square, square, left-arrow, triangle. Vandal has superior resistance to psionic attacks and his melee weapon is an uprooted tree trunk.
  • Vandal served as Lex Luthor's Secretary of Education.
  • In 2002, the Bloodhound Gang recorded the song "Vandal Savage" with lyrics that consisted entirely of quotes from Vandal's comic book appearances, arranged in rhyming couplets. An example: "That groovy chick's bikini blows my mind/I'll be the ruler over all mankind."
  • Vandal was a guest villain in the fifth season of the popular CW series "Leesburg." The episode, titled "The Savage Partytime," featured him as a mummified museum exhibit brought back to life via Kryptonite by Linda Danvers' rival, Lena Luthor. Once revived, Vandal discovers he has the ability to project his savage impulses onto others. Luthor uses him in a plot to turn a local squaredance into a bloody riot with the hopes of destroying Danvers once and for all. He was played by Adam Goldberg.

*Edited around 11:20 AM to change the name of the comic from my original, crappier idea: "Vibrate with Vandal." Ugh. I know. I was trying to do a spin on "Swing with Scooter" and I couldn't for the life of me figure out an appropriate verb that started with a "V." I don't know why I settled on "vibrate." It must have been timebubblelag.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Once Again, You're Welcome

stormboyheadnew 'Sup, daddios and dudettes? (Oh, I'm the unparalleled master of your ridiculous 21st Century slang!) It's me! Remember? No? C'mon! It's Storm Boy! Remember? I'm Blockade Boy's handsomer, more talented, infinitely less hairy rival! Oh, that's right. I changed up my look from last time. Before, I had brown hair and a fu-manchu with a soulpatch, and some way-out sunglasses. So now I have gorgeous red hair and some sweet-ass "S"-shaped muttonchops plus a bigger soulpatch. And goggles! I dreamed up the great idea to push them up on my forehead. Isn't it cool?

Anyway? I just wanted to let you all know about my latest costume redesign. It's for Star Sapphire! Let's take a look at the "before."


Ya-awn! Bor-ing! There is not nearly enough cleavage exposed. What is she, a nun? Yipes stripes! (21st century slang!) She needs my help!


Therrrrrrrre we go. My fabric choice? Sherwin-Williams "Orchid Fantasy" hi-gloss housepaint. Yup, this ensemble is quite literally "painted on." I skillfully blended the painted areas with a few accessories like the high-heeled sandals. Plus, the collar and the tiara? Is made from some rusted-out hunks of tin siding. Economical! Bottom line: I think this is much more flattering on her body. And? It features one of my signature motifs: pointiness!

*waves away your resounding applause* You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Hundred Acre Would-Have-Been

headshotjeremy Alex Ross recenly cracked the internet in half (or at least dented it) with a comment about Geoff Johns putting Obsidian in the JSA to keep other writers from "molesting" him. Since the only writer to do anything of note to Obsidian in the last few years was Marc Andreyko, and since Marc made Obsidian a gay man in a healthy relationship with his boyfriend, Ross' use of the word "molesting" makes him come off as a complete tool. Not as much of a tool as other comic book artist loudmouths like John Byrne or Ethan Van Sciver, but still--! What irks me about his comment almost as much as the barely-concealed homophobia is the very notion that Geoff Johns doesn't molest characters! In his last JSA run, Johns made Obsidian a crazy supervillain, and after having his dad put him in his place, made him a pathetic, anemic character who only ever appeared on panel to look contrite. Among Johns' other accomplishments: making Nuklon/Atom Smasher an angst-ridden murderer.

Admittedly, Nuklon and Obsidian weren't great characters to start out with. But there was a writer between their creator Roy Thomas and their ruiner Geoff Johns who found a great angle on both of them. And that was Gerard Jones in the pages of "Justice League America" circa 1994-1995. And his angle was to write the duo as Tigger and Eyore. Er, Nuklon being "Tigger" of course.


Ignoring for a moment Fire, who is quite literally "horning" in on the couple with a scheme to seduce Nuklon, this is a great capsule look at the two heroes. This is in "Justice League America" #0 (October 1994) and it was my first real exposure to Nuklon and Obsidian. And I loved them. You can see here that Nuklon's costume has been cleaned up and streamlined. It's no longer covered with that weird black bubbly trim that was all over the place. His stupid Rambo headband is gone, and the laughable mohawk has been grown out and tied into a ponytail. Hey, it was the 90's. Alright, so the hair is still a bit goofy but at least he doesn't look like some middle-aged man's idea of a punk rocker. (Nuklon as a "punk" was about on-the-money as Ernie Bushmiller's idea of a hippie.) But I can buy this as a hairstyle the cornfed young Nuklon might wear. I've seen it on plenty of teenagers in the Midwest, especially back around that time. So it's plausible for a guy who wants to be kind-of hip. But isn't. Still better than that goofball wrestler mask, Alex Ross. Note also the posture. Hands on the hips, good old-fashioned happy hero stuff. (Which is probably punishable by death under the current Dan Didio regime.) By contrast, there's Obsidian... with a tummy ache. Aw! Sadly, Obisidian is right about there being a punchline in his future, and the joke's author would be Geoff Johns. Grrr....


Here's the duo in action, bantering like a classic comedy team. (From "Justice League America" #94, December 1994.) Obsidian is a pessimist, sure, but he's a witty pessimist, which is what makes it tolerable. And while Nuklon's relentless optimism might be grating to some, he's also a true pal and a constant booster for his friend. Now, let's see how they work with other characters in the book.


Holy shit... Nuklon is the Tick! Just imagine... Ben Edlund on a Nuklon/Obsidian series. What a missed opportunity! Nuklon, who can't even bring himself to cuss, spends a lot of time fighting off Fire's advances in "Justice League America" #95 (January 1995). As she presses her boobalicious form against his slab-like body, Nuklon asks Fire to do a favor for him: "Could you please zip up your clothes?" Heh.


Also in that issue, Obsidian's sad-sack routine works equally as well with a different foil. The foil in this case is the Crimson Fox. Which might be a clue as to why the book tanked and was replaced with the Grant Morrison all-star version. Ah, well. The only real shame here is that Nuklon and Obsidian were split up and put in the hands of writers whose personalities (for the most part) were more like Obsidian's and less like Nuklon's.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

At Last, A Santa Claus I Could Really Get Behind

blockadesantahead As part of my continuing effort to make this blog your one-stop homoerotic Santa Claus headquarters, I'd like to present some panels from "Gumby's Winter Fun Special" #1 (Comico, December 1988). Author Steve Purcell and artist Art Adams tore the facade right off the Santa Claus mystique and revealed that the fat, jolly man is neither as fat nor as jolly as previously indicated.


Still, I think he'll do. He'll do just fine.


Turns out ol' Kris Kringle is more of a sailor-type. Check out the sweet anchor tattoo! Also his real name is "Ray Crabbe" but I'm choosing to ignore that part.

Better yet, Santa is a total bad-ass. He's not the morose whiner from "The Year Without A Santa Claus" or the irritating bumbler from all those godawful "Santa Clause" movies. Nope! He's an action hero, pure and simple.


Aw, yeah! So, Santa, you've escaped from hell itself and saved Christmas once again. What should we do now?


Aye aye, Santa. Aye, aye.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nice Day For A White (Supremacist) Wedding

blockadesantahead In "The Invaders" #20 (September 1977) we get to see the attempted wedding of Master Man and Warrior Woman.


The groom is in his Captain Nazi rip-off costume, while the bride is wearing... GA-GA-GOING!!! Check out the shoulders on that lady! You know, if it wasn't for the breasts and the general hairlessness and the lack of a penis and the whole Nazi thing, I'd be all over that. (Admittedly, my standards aren't that high.)

This may seem strange to the young'uns in the audience, but a superpowered woman in a straight-up dominatrix costume was actually quite startling in 1977. No, for reals. Of course she's a baddie so she can't be too sexy. She's saddled by that Mrs. Olsen hair and those non-feminine shoulders. But still. The costume itself? Titilating, I suppose. I don't like the random belt on the thigh, although I respect the fact that she didn't dick around with some narrow strappy thing. Naw, that's regulation redneck-width! All it needs is a belt buckle shaped like a cow skull. On the plus side is her fortified bustier. The single shoulder strap may not be aesthetically pleasing but at least it's more practical than that goofy boobs-a-poppin' number Wonder Woman likes to wear. (It also wouldn't surprise me to learn that Warrior Woman wears a cup.)

Oh, and Master Man can't figure out that the lady with the severe hairstyle and the linebacker shoulders isn't into him? Nazis: not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Well, let's see how things are going at the reception.


Yikes. Er, let's skip ahead to the next issue and see what's happening with Dyna-Mite (you heard me).


Yeah, Dyna-Mite never takes care of what's going on "down below." Don't get me wrong; he's eager enough, he's just not terribly thorough. Although I appreciate that he's wearing one of my designs. The l'il cutie.