Friday, October 05, 2007

Deborah Whitman, This Will Be Your Life


I guess boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses! They just invite them as "dates" to Broadway shows. Wise up, Deborah! Pete doesn't have any exam to study for! He's making a bee-line straight for the nearest leather bar... where he will be "tested" by a guy named "Bone-Breaker."

(Meanwhile, an unemployed Dan Didio is forced to peddle his comic book ideas on the streets.)


Poor Deborah is so busy marinating in her own self-pity that she doesn't even notice who's sitting just across the aisle from her. No, it's not Estelle Parsons of "Roseanne" fame. It's the Spirit of Future Deborah Whitman! Oh, if only Deborah would take heed of this crocheted-hatted omen before it's too late! Check it out, Deborah... this is you in twenty years: your hair prematurely gray and styled in the classic "I don't give a shit anymore" tomboy cut favored by nihilistic grannies, your "signature" white scarf tattered and mended so many times it's barely long enough to qualify as a choker, your Harvest Gold wardrobe darkened by age and windblown grave soil into a dull orange, a teeny flowered hat and a scruffy fur collar the only signifiers of your gender, and riding a bus for all eternity. Sure, you won't need glasses anymore, but that's only because you'll be blind from reading Harlequin romances all day long. Get off the bus, Deborah! Get off and live!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Barefoot in the Dark

Last time, we learned that although a theater-destroying blaze was imminent, Peter Parker just couldn't change into his Spider-Man costume! But why? WHY?!


Now that Peter's got his trusty spring-loaded coke spoon at the ready, he can take care of bidness! (Hey, it was 1980. They gave those things out when you opened a new checking account.)

Fortunately for Peter, it would still be many years before the premieres of "Phantom of the Opera" and "Miss Saigon", so he doesn't have to worry about an audience filled with people anxiously scanning the ceiling, waiting for something to drop on top of them. Nobody will see him swing into action!


And mysteriously, Peter teased his nerdball "subway barber" haircut into a perfectly awesome pompadour, and even grew his sideburns a couple of inches longer through sheer force of will. (Meh. I can do that.) Hell, who needs a costume when you can instantly "trade up" in the facial hair department? So long, plain Peter Parker and hello, Spider-Elvis! He's got rhinestone-studded web-shooters and he's on the prowl for some peanut butter 'n' banana wheatcakes!

Below, the audience collectively faints from the smells of toenail fungus and Gold Bond powder.

Spider-Man: Never Nude


He can't change to his Spidey suit--? Is he kiddin'? He wears those obnoxiously-colored footie pajamas under everything, all day, every day! How else is he going to get into some tired "secret identity" jam that continuously destroys his pathetic attempts at a social life? For example...
Setting: Manhattan, the late 1970's, in a line outside a disco

Mary Jane: I still can't believe we're getting into the trendiest night-spot in town!

Glory: It's all a matter of who you know! The proper connections are so very important in life... like my new fella, Josh!

Josh: She means it helps if you have a boyfriend who won them in a radio contest.

Mary Jane: Either way, I just can't wait to get my Tiger out on the dance floor! It's been simply ages since we've gone anywhere, and I'm going to make him Hustle 'til it hurts! Right, Peter?

Peter: Anything for you, M.J.!

Peter [thinks]:That bouncer... he's frisking all the patrons before he lets them inside! What if he feels my web-shooters... or somehow gets a glimpse of my Spider-Man costume? It'll be "Goodbye, Web-Slinger!" I've got to think of something... and fast!

Peter: M.J., I just remembered... it's Aunt May's birthday, and I still haven't gotten her a card! I've got to run! Oh, and I'll be also be busy the entire rest of this evening. Seeya! [sprints away at spider-speed]

Mary Jane: But--!

Josh: Wow. Your boyfriend's kind of a douche.
Aaaand SCENE. So why wouldn't Peter be wearing it now? Unless... ye gads, he thinks he's gonna score tonight! With Deborah Whitman! Because nothing primes a gal for hot bedroom action like watching a green man hypnotize people into acting like chickens.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Journey to the Center of Deborah Whitman


Ah, Deborah Whitman...! You know Peter spent the entire date computing how long it would take him to remove Deborah's intricately-layered outer- and undergarments. If we break Deborah's ensemble down into its various strata, starting from the "crust", if you will, we'll find she's wearing:
  • glasses (trifocals, natch)
  • contact lenses (never can be too careful)
  • a wig and a fall, over a hair net, protecting her extensions
  • two layers of press-on nails
  • an ascot, over a scarf, over a choker, over her neck brace
  • boots over galoshes over sensible pumps over thick woolen socks over support hose
  • a trench coat over a poncho over a parka over a windbreaker over a baggy sweater over a shapeless blouse with a ruffled collar over a long-sleeved jersey over a t-shirt over a 3-button henley shirt over an undershirt over a sports bra over pasties
  • a maxi-skirt over culottes over bell-bottoms over capri pants over stirrup pants over boxer shorts over "granny panties" over a chastity belt over a lacy, crotchless number but good luck getting to it (and enjoy jerking off in your shower tonight). Loser!
Deborah and Peter, the "It" couple of the nerd community, are secretly watched by Mary Jane Watson, sitting one row back. Mary Jane has cleverly disguised herself by parting her bangs in the middle. Well played, Mary Jane! And why is Peter suddenly having to leave? Because he's hopelessly intoxicated by the sight of that mustachioed man-stallion sitting two seats down from him, and he has to go "release some web fluid" if you know what I mean. (And I think you do.)

All Glory to the Hypno-Toad

From "The Amazing Spider-Man" #207 (August, 1980) comes this panel, with a caption box featuring what will surely be a quote in some theater critic's review of Julie Taymor's upcoming (and currently venue-free) production of the Spider-Man rock 'n' roll musical:


Yes, here's Mesmero, described by scripter Denny O'Neil as "formerly a well-regarded X-Men nemesis", reduced to working as a performer in a cheap theater. I did about five seconds of research on Mesmero, thoroughly expecting to find out he'd been exterminated in some gruesome manner in a Civil War crossover. I was surprised to learn he lost his powers on M-Day and has since reformed. Really, Joe Quesada? REALLY? You ruthlessly wipe out minority heroes left and right, but this doofus in a combination bowler/Holly Hobby bonnet is still alive and kicking? C'mon! He was a shoo-in for a quick-yet-spectacular death! Old-school villain nobody was using anymore, with a stupid costume and a stupid name? And he was a hypnotist? What were you waiting for? Remember the Bug-Eyed Bandit!* Remember the Miracle Man!**

Now, I'm not saying I personally want Mesmero dead. Remember, my motto is that there are no bad characters; just bad writers... like for instance, Denny O'Neil. And I love it when criminals actually reform, and I hate it when some writer comes along and undoes a reformation. *ahemGEOFFJOHNSahem* It's just that letting Mesmero "off the hook" seems out-of-character for Quesada's Marvel, and that disturbs me. My world, it is turned upside-down! Oh well, I'm sure Quesada will get around to kacking him eventually.

*Iced by a Shadow Demon in "Crisis on Infinite Earths"
**One of a couple dozen D-list villains offed by Scourge operatives

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Where I'm At

Well, it finally happened... weeks ago, actually, but I didn't have the time to blog about it before.

A few days after our big blow-out sales event on Rimbor, and after Plant Lad had gone on his merry way, the U.P. showed up with one of their tow-cruisers, zapped the H.M.S. Exquisite with a repo-beam and hauled our asses up, up, and away from the planet.

And we were right in the middle of breakfast! The jolt knocked everybody on their asses, and I wound up with strawberry-flavored protein powder all over my crotch. Storm Boy offered to "clean that up" for me. Having a good idea of his preferred method, I politely declined.

I'd prepped the crew for this event, and we'd already settled on our future plans... I think that helped everybody to keep from losing their shit too much. Well, Tusker kept a firm grip on his dental tools and kept clacking the pliers together (menacingly) whenever a U.P. goon passed too close by, and in any other situation I'd be pretty proud of him. (I've been talking to him about sublimating his fears and replacing them with something more productive, like violence... which may or may not have a positive effect on his love life, provided he ever gets one.) I just had to remind him that the "silent threat" stuff is inappropriate for dealing with the Law. Cootie, bless 'er, managed to stay a couple of steps ahead of all the U.P. officers the entire time, or else they would have impounded her as an unknown species under the Please Don't Eat Our Native Fauna And/Or Flora Act of 2871.

So anyway, once the U.P. had combed the entire vessel and found no evidence of stolen merchandise, they set about frisking me for metal parts. Of course, they didn't find any, which meant the end of my Space Pirate Captain career. (And good riddance.) They weren't about to buy a story about my getting a new, identical body, especially when the videotape makes it look like a cheap magic trick involving a robot and a smoke bomb.

"Blockade Boy," harrumphed the U.P. captain, "You're under arrest for acquiring a Space Piracy license under false pretenses! We have a nice cozy cell for you on Takron-Galtos!"

I cleared my throat, and on cue, Storm Boy produced a holo cartridge (from the Luck Lords know where) with our pre-arranged alibi on it. It was a message from the renowned detective, Eyeful Ethel!


Naturally, the U.P. captain was so thrilled he demanded to view it on the spot. He was seriously excited, people. He even did this thing where he held his hands out and fluttered his fingers and squealed "OOOH-ooh! Gimme!" He snapped the cartridge into a portable player from his belt and an image of the gorgeous Ethel flickered into the center of the room. She was attired in the sweet new ensemble Storm Boy and I had designed for her. Which means it's time for... Legion of Substitute Costumes!

Ethel's gimmick? A ring of eyeballs all around her head, like a cross between a goddamn hippie and a Tim Burton character. Ethel honestly had no business trying out for the Legion, since she couldn't really do anything. Like a lot of kids, she just did it just for fun. So, she wasn't too broken up when she didn't make it. She did have an interest in law enforcement, however, so she worked her way up to the rank of "captain" in the U.P. Security Agency before striking out on her own as a private investigator. It was rough going for a while. By universe-wide lottery she was matched with Storm Boy as his designated "fag hag" and they spent many tear-stained, wine-soaked nights commiserating with each other. At her suggestion, he designed an admittedly cool set of goggles for her to wear: each lens allows her to see into a different spectrum, like x-rays, infrared and the like. Thus attired, she cracked a headline-making case by capturing serial peeper Radiation Roy. She brokered her new fame into expanding her detective agency, and she's now a brand name in the security biz! Aside from the goggles, though, she still dressed kind of frumpy -- too many baggy pants and overcoats. As advance payment for getting me out of my mess with the U.P., Storm Boy and I designed these new duds for her!


The whole thing is inspired by her sweet goggles, with iridescent colors and a modest amount of straps. There's also some interlaced detail on the bodice. The haircut is edgy-cool, and it's way more practical than the long, tangled mess she used to sport. Now she's ready for the cover of Heavy Metal!

Aaaaannnyway, in her recorded message, Ethel said:
To Whom It May Concern:
These four fine individuals work for me. Also, there's probably a sixteen-legged cat-like thing somewhere, but it's just four cats in a pantomime cat suit so don't worry about it. Er, anyway, the man you think is Phyl Staad, the notorious pirate, is really his long-lost twin brother, PHYNN Staad, who looks just like him and even uses the same code name but has different finger prints and all his original genitalia, as I'm sure you can authenticate. Attached to this message is all the necessary paperwork confirming his identity. I'd like to commend my operatives -- Storm Boy, Rainbow Girl and Tusker -- for infiltrating Phyl Staad's piracy operation by pretending to be his loyal crew, when the whole time they were transmitting vital information to my headquarters.
(At this, Tusker blurted "Wait, I don't remember any of--!" but Rainbow Girl elbowed him in the gut and he dutifully shut his dumb pie-hole.)
And finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to my newest operative, the other Blockade Boy. Yes, let's all give a round of applause to Phynn Staad, who is so loyal to the United Planets that he would turn on his nefarious twin, going so far as to impersonate him, sort-of, after the latter's mysterious disappearance, in order to keep the dread pirate's spacecraft from falling into the wrong hands before the U.P. could take charge of it.
(The beauty part is, the U.P. goons really did applaud me, some of them stomping their feet and saying things like "Here, here!" and "YEAH, boy-ee!" and I'm pretty sure the U.P. captain cried a little bit.)
I will be happy to transmit all the information I've gathered on Phyl Staad to the U.P. so they may continue the investigation. But for now, I need to recall all of my operatives and those four cats, the ones in the big, unremovable cat-suit, to my agency, because I have other jobs for them. Thank you, and keep up the good work!
And as you may have guessed, our scam was a total success!

So, to the relief and sheer delight of everybody involved, my former crew and I are working as Special Agents (or some shit) for Eyeful Ethel at her headquarters on Lallor! We've all managed to remain really good friends, although our closeness seems to have driven a wedge between ourselves and Ethel's four other employees. I mean, they're friendly enough, but I don't really feel like I know them, y'know? Here they are, and I'll tell you what I know about them so far, going from left to right:


  • Gadfly Lad: from Imsk; can shrink to a dainty size; gets around with an old flying harness Storm Boy had designed; has a detailed, well-researched opinion on everything, apparently; is in denial about the fact he can't grow a decent mustache (or sideburns!) to save his life
  • Dentata Damsel: from Bismoll; can eat anything, and does, constantly; won't stop smiling; never blinks; constantly cheerful for no good goddamn reason; can reduce Tusker to jelly with the mere wiggle of her hips
  • Nightmare Boy: from Naltor; alleged clairvoyant; Ethel's receptionist; can barely be bothered to work the whole "Goth" angle and is in fact a "smoove playa" and "ladies' man" (a role model for Tusker, maybe?); his hair always looks absolutely perfect, even when he's just gotten up; sports skull-and-crossbones birthmark situated just above his crotchal region; I'm not sure why but I kind of want to slap him
  • Frigid Queen: from Tharr, ice powers, rocks a tall faux-fur hat, hard worker, way too chatty about her apparently effed-up relationship with Phantom Lad (think "Sid and Nancy" with super-powers)
The awful part is I'm not really that interested in knowing them any better, but I know that's a shitty attitude, and for all I know they're actually fantastic individuals. But I doubt it. Ah, well. Maybe I can talk Ethel into sponsoring some kind of employee bonding activity, like a fantasy moopsball league, or a pub crawl. We'll see.

Monday, October 01, 2007

All Fall Down


People sure faint a lot in "The Invincible Iron Man." What is this, a Henry James novel? Should they all be clutching lace hankies as they crumple to the ground? Were they really exhausted or just overcome by a fit of "the vapors?" Will Nick Fury show up in a stovepipe hat and a waistcoat, carrying a bottle of smelling salts? No, for realsies. Well, at least a story with three different characters fainting in it (one of them twice!) is so ridiculous that Young Gerry Conway would never have the temerity to resort to anything even approaching it, ever, ever again.

Oh, wait...



And it gets worse. A jagged edge explosion balloon, in pink, no less, explaining how Iron Man feels or maybe telling him how to feel? (More "ESP"! Is Marvel Girl just around the corner? Or in the dumpster?) And a "next issue" blurb that's a non-committal as Iron Man himself? I'm surprised anybody bought the next issue. Thank God for subscriptions, huh, Marvel?

Sweet Jeebus, this thing is a mess. Like I've said before, Old Gerry Conway is a fine television scriptwriter, but his early comics stuff just gives me a bellyache. But I think my feelings about "The Invincible Iron Man" #41 can best be said in a bit of dialog by Old Jerry Siegel:


Iron Man, the Musical


Poor Demitrius is just being crushed by all those dialog balloons. It's like a punishment from the Fanboy Bible (which I have just made up):
And he that blasphemeth the name of the BENDIS, he shall surely be put to death, and all the convention-goers shall surely balloon him. (Newsaramicus 24:16)
Oh, and the "millions of chords, struck and restruck," Demitrius? You're not having a freak-out; you're just overhearing the Philip Glass concert at Kennedy Center.

"Isn't it always?" God damn but Iron Man's a douche. I hate it when somebody pulls that "I'm pretending to be empathetic but I'm secretly saying I'm way better at handling stress than you are, you little pussy" crap. Ironically, I do that to Tusker all the time. Takes one to know one, I guess.

(And what's the deal with Marianne's knock-kneed stance? Does she have to pee?)

Hard, Moist, Throbbing Reality


Pop quiz, hotshots! Do you know what caused Iron Man to rally his strength just now?
  1. He popped a nitro pill (washed down with a little Jim Beam).
  2. Reserve batteries (two Energizer D-Cells) kicked in.
  3. The vague proximity of Marianne has energized the notorious horndog like a can of spinach does for Popeye. And that familiar steam whistle "TOOT! TOOT!" noise is issuing from Tony's wang.
  4. Skrull powers, activate! Yup, that (alleged) subplot's been brewing ever since "Tales of Suspense."
  5. It's the fifth panel from the end and Young Gerry Conway realized he'd written himself into a corner, so screw it.
The correct answer is number five. Duh. And sadly, this still puts Young Gerry Conway ahead of Young Geoff Johns (circa "Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.") and Middle-Aged Peter David (circa his later issues of "Young Justice"), both of whom would just let the remaining five pages or so of one story spill over into the following issue before herky-jerkily shifting into a completely different plot. Man, what I wouldn't give to be a comic book editor in your era. All you had to do was sit on your ass drinking coffee and scarfing down donuts, and occasionally make a cryptic announcement to "Newsarama" or order some hack to redraw a character's rack/junk a tad smaller. And you know me: I wouldn't even bother with that last part. In fact, my demands would be quite the reverse. *sighs wistfully*