Friday, October 19, 2007



And I'm "Blocky, the Mentally Frazzled."

It turns out "Fly Man" #31 isn't the bottomless well of inspiration I'd taken it for. Oh, it has a "bottom", alright -- namely, the Spider's puffy, jelly-stained, be-pantalooned bottom. But I've been staring at pages and pages of crazy shit, like the Black Hood's dopey robot horse, and the Comet's rainbow-striped pith helmet, and a last panel where the Spider directly addresses the reader from inside a garbage can, and I can't think of a damn thing to say about it. Sure, Siegel wrote this stuff as a kind-of intentional parody, which makes it harder to mock, but I feel equally blocked when I look at an old Marv Wolfman "Spider-Man" comic.

Sorry, dudes.

Maybe I'll feel better on Monday.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Deliver Us From Evel

Forget ducking into a telephone booth, or sliding down a firepole behind a grandfather clock, or spinning around real fast to change into a super-costume. The Spider's method is so awesomely kick-ass and groovy and rad and crunk and the bee's knees and such, it ought to have its own category on ESPN's "X Games"! (Er, do you folks from 2007 still have those? You do?)

*exhales a mighty sigh which knocks over a passing gymnast and which smells pleasantly of steak, pipe tobacco, and rum*

How's about taserball? Or dino-hound racing? No? Well, those sports will be pretty great, too.

Aaaannnyway, let's go to the videotape panel-by-panel breakdown.


(One of about a gazillion flying crotch shots in this comic, by the way. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.) Here comes the Spider in the souped-up delivery truck he'd used to bust out of prison. I know, I know. It ought to have flames painted on the side, or sumpin'. Calm down. It gets better.


I think I saw this movie in driver's ed class. It was a cautionary tale about always wearing your seatbelt when you operate a hover-car. Except, the Spider didn't encounter any glass on the way out of his vehicle.

Also, that prison uniform could use a good pressing. And it should be taken out around the waist, because it's highlighting the Spider's expansive, pillowy ass to a frightening degree. What, is he wearing a bustle? Why does he have the same body shape as my aunt? (After her double mastectomy, natch.)

And Fly-Man (or "Fly Man" as his cover logo calls him) can barely be bothered to care about what he's witnessing. You're not in New York, Fly-Man, so cut the jaded "I've seen it all" act. You know in your heart this is awesome. Own it.


Dudes, he's zooming into Entrance "Y"! Now, that's an expression he must've picked up in jail! When you're as short and as dumpy as the Spider, the only way to survive prison is to showboat your out-sized caboose, and to allow your burly bunkmate free access to Entrance "Y".

But if I may get "real" here for a moment... may I? Thank you.

*takes Meerschaum pipe from mouth, leans forward in chair, puts a hairy hand on your knee, speaks in a hushed, intimate tone*

The Spider just shot himself out of a truck and into a hole in the side of a friggin' mountain. I think we both know that rawks.


The net doesn't look that great -- shouldn't it be more web-like? -- but I'll give the Spider a pass, because the rest of his routine was so hardcore.

(And if this was a horror film, the web would be composed of inexplicably sharp steel cables that can cut through bone, and he'd be diced into dozens of serving portions. I'll take the ass!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Time to Rub


And now, an excerpt from John Grisham's best-selling legal thriller, "A Time to Rub":
Attorney Thomas Troy's office was nothing more than a cramped, decrepid shotgun house, crouched on the shore of the biggest mudhole in Rickets County. Most of the windows had been busted out years ago. In the spring Troy's clients would wordlessly sidestep the thousands of tiny frogs that bustled over the rotting floorboards. But by late summer the Mississippi sun would boil all the water out of the air, and so Troy and his penniless -- yet saintly -- customers would conduct their business while covered in swarms of mosquitoes and fire ants.

On a Saturday afternoon in September, Troy sat alone in his office, resting his feet on the back of an alligator that had wandered in. The weatherbeaten old radio on his desk crackled intermittently. The announcer's sleepy drawl abruptly shifted from his reading of the latest on hog futures into an announcement of a jailbreak. Troy sensed something horrible. Huge gobs of sweat dripped from his forehead. The moisture sizzled into vapor when it plopped onto his desk. His eyes throbbed. "Am I gonna do it?" he asked himself. "Hell yeah," he answered. He remembered the old man who had given him the ring. "The Fly Man", the kids had called him. A dirty, bent vagrant who always appeared in town in time for the Sugar Beet Festival and who always disappeared again before the Halloween Parade. The other children stayed far away the Fly Man. Troy had always been more curious than most. One day he had followed the Fly Man for the better part of an afternoon, from the tire fire on the north edge of town, all the way down the railroad tracks to an abandoned piano crate in the middle of the woods. It was in the crate that the old man gave him the ring.

"Rub it," Troy said to nobody. "Rubbing it will make things better." After taking one last look through the window, Troy slumped down in his chair and thrust his hand down his pants...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Beaten Generation

In this excerpt from "Fly Man" #31 (Archie Comics, May 1965) the wily Fly Man's plan to defeat the dastardly Spider somehow involves letting the villain knock the crap out of him for two whole pages.

The Clown That Walks Like a Man!


Uh-oh... it's never good when a clown reaches inside his costume for somethin'. (I learned that one the hard way!)

This golem-like resident of "Clown Town" (or as most people call it, "Los Angeles") is none other than...



That guy.

Bah! If you ask me, he looks more intimidating with the mask on. The beauty part? A couple of panels later, he says "Off with this clownish garb!" and peels off the rest of his pom-pommed ensemble, revealing the equally ludicrous "Spider" get-up he had on, underneath it. Reading this, I was half-hoping his puffy-assed supervillain costume was just a spare clown suit, and that he still had his menacing costume -- his real costume -- under that one. Actually, the story would have been way more interesting if the Spider had just kept peeling off layer after layer of costumes and rubber masks, until he revealed himself as a complete bad-ass. (I mean, that's what I would have done in his situation.) No such luck, though.


You may recall this fine bit of imitation Stan Lee dialog from my final "Invincible Iron Man #41" post.


I'd repurposed it as criticism for Young Gerry Conway, but who was Fly Man (formerly and later known as "the Fly") actually talking to?


Some portly old German gal with a lace doily on her head? For shame, Fly (Man)! You know how old folks like to ramble when they meet a younger person! The poor dear is probably stuck inside her dilapidated Victorian Gothic mansion most of the day, with no one but her twenty-seven cats to keep her company, and sure, sometimes the Senior Center Activity Bus will stop for her so she can visit the mall, and purchase more quilting supplies, and then she meets you, the famous Fly (Man), and you just look so much like her grandson, Mortimer, so would it kill you to just shut your yapper and humor her? I mean, for Pete's sake, Fly (Man), can't you let this sweet old lady have her say for a couple of minutes, and HOLY SHIT IT'S A DUDE.


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "the Spider", from "Fly Man" #31 (Archie Comics, May, 1965). This story is written by Jerry "I'm Helping to Mess Up the WB's Legion of Super-Heroes Cartoon from Beyond the Grave" Siegel in his idea of the Marvel Method, which results in the characters blabbing on and on, for pages at a time, saying the same thing twice in a row, only phrased differently, with loads of bombast and fancy vocabulary words (like "bombast"). So, while Jerry Siegel tries for "Stan Lee", he winds up with something more along the lines of Chris Claremont, which is especially astounding considering that "Alien"-obsessed Limey masochist wouldn't get anything published for another ten years, at least. Which is my own blathering way of saying that yes, the Spider tends to run off at the mouth, but then, so does Fly Man, not to mention every single character in the gol-dang book.

But forget this imitation Mighty Marvel dialog for a minute. I'm marveling, mightily, at the Spider's costume. He's a "mastermind" type, with mirror-maze deathtraps, and jet-powered flying metal claw robots, and henchmen, and what's essentially a "dirty bomb" if you can believe it, so he really shouldn't have to even bother venturing out in public. Or if he does, he should consider wearing a well-tailored business suit, or at the very least, Shiwan Khan's windbreaker. Because he doesn't have the shape for a supervillain costume. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but there it is. I mean, as ass like that, and he's wearing pantaloons? It's madness! And that floppy, size XXL beanie hat has got to go. You know what might have worked for this guy? Exchanging the tights for a robe -- I know, he's still pudgy, and chubby guys in robes look godawful, but bear with me for a second -- and ditching the micro-snood doily hat for a hood, the kind that drapes completely over the head with just a couple of eye holes cut out. Just cover the bastard up from head-to-toe. That way, he can lounge all day long in a souped-up La-Z-Boy recliner (with metal spider legs or sumpin' sticking out of it) and issue his threats via television, in between scarfing down entire cans of Pringles.

There's a lot of fun to be mined from "Fly Man" #31, and while I won't be giving it the Gravity Girl Treatment, I will be delving more deeply into it for a couple of weeks. For instance, how would you like a dramatic reading of the Spider's unmuffled monologue, complete with fight scene sound effects?

Yup, I thought so!

Monday, October 15, 2007

He's Got a Juice Box, and He's Not Afraid to Use It


This is from "Green Lantern" #107 (August, 1978), back in the days when terrorists enjoyed dressing up in fun costumes. And the name of this buttery brute's gang? The Yellow Peril. That's just wrong on so many levels. The art's by the always-solid Alex Saviuk and John Celardo, but I have some problems with the Yellow Peril Liberation Army (or whatever) standard-issue costume. Mainly? It's slathered with ornamentation, and all of it's meaningless. They have the Atari logo on their face masks because... why? And then there's the cracked-out palm tree/moth thing on their shirts. Their undies look nicely reinforced, though. That's a good idea, if you're going to go around pissing off fishnet-stockinged judo experts.

My other problem is more about the gang's whole concept. They've taken over the airport in Coast City, wearing yellow bodysuits and wielding a yellow detonator, because "it's rumored [Green Lantern's] ring is powerless against anything yellow!" So, not only is their whole strategy related to one of those goofy arbitrary weaknesses so many superheroes are saddled with (don't get me started), but it's founded on scuttlebutt and hearsay. Naturally, Green Lantern responds to Osama Banana Laden's assertion by shoving his cousin, Air Wave, into a huge energy trampoline, and bouncing him into the terrorist's solar plexus, fists first. But still, it would have been even sweeter if Green Lantern could have just said, "Powerless against anything yellow?! What are ya, high?" And then he could have spent a good twenty seconds or so just pimp-slapping the jerk with a giant green energy hand.