Friday, November 02, 2007

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


Guest-starring: Minnie, the MILF Wonder!

...That joke was written by Tusker, by the way. He was looking over my shoulder while I was examining this ancient comic, and just said that to me. I didn't know he had it in 'im! Maybe I've been too harsh with the boy. I'm starting to realize that his crushing shyness has made him seem way dumber than he really is. I've been helping him to act with more confidence, and more and more, he'll drop some little bon mot like that, just out of the blue. And thank the Luck Lords, 'cause I was worried we were going to be trapped in some effed-up "Of Mice and Men" relationship for the rest of our lives.

But of course, this is Tusker, the King of the Sad-Sacks, we're talking about, so he had to immediately screw up that little moment of brilliance with this pathetic exchange:
Tusker: No, seriously, she's hot.
Me (scoffing): What, so you're into moms now? Dude, you're only twenty-two! You wanna be tied down to some lady with a kid?!
Tusker: At this point, I don't really feel like I can afford to be choosy. [He glumly slinks away.]
Me [rubs throbbing temples]: Holy balls.
Okay, I've got to go for now, but I promise to spend at least a couple more posts on this comic, because it's written by Alan Brennert and therefore is FREAKING AWESOME. I mean, it has an origami monster in it! C'MON!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

D-List Monsters of Super-Hero Land: Poison Ivy's Chauffeur



Oh, so it's written by Kevin Smith?

No? Good. It's another Gerry Conway story, though. Just give me a sec to pound down an entire bottle of antacid (with a vodka chaser) and we'll dive right in.


Okay, that is one of the goofiest, most pathetic-looking tree monsters I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of goofy, pathetic-looking tree monsters. I own the entire run of DC's "Millennium", for Pete's sake! Remember that one? Where the Floronic Man looked way too much like that big-haired kid from "High School Musical", and he insisted that everybody refer to him as "Floro", like he was that weird, "kind-of" friend from college who showed up for his sophomore year with a tie-dyed dashiki and a scraggly beard, and he wanted you to call him "Moon Sphinx" or some stupid shit, and you laughed right in his face, and the next time you saw him, you called him "Moon Sphincter" and then you and your friends pelted him with beer cans until he went away? Yeah, it was kind of like that. But this guy--! With the hang-dog expression, and the walrus mustache made out of twigs--! He's the ultimate in lameness technology. Batman just needs to shove his sorry ass into a wood chipper and be done with him.

Now, this story is penciled by the magnificent Gene Colan, so the monster's sorry appearance might be his fault. But I doubt that, because the inker is Klaus Janson. I have no idea how Janson got assigned to this job. (Or any other, for that matter.) I guess editor Dick Giordano thought the delicacy and richness of Colan's pencils could best be highlighted via Janson's muddy, blobby, black patches and veiny scribbles. Honestly, I don't know what the hell Janson dips in his ink bottle to achieve such unremitting hideousness, but I suspect his main tools are a blunt push-pin (for fine lines), a mascara brush (medium weight) and a whisk broom (spot blacks).

See how he scarred up Poison Ivy's face, up there? You can't expect me to believe she looked that bad in Colan's pencils.


Oh, brother! Get a load of this doofus! Who really created this monster? Poison Ivy, or Sid and Marty Croft? It looks like an overgrown Muppet! I could buy this jerk-off as the mascot for some obscure community college's volleyball team, like, "The Fresno Fighting Ficus" or something, but not as an opponent for Batman.


Tree monsters are too stupid for reverse psychology, so Batman uses plain ol' forward psychology, instead, and points out the obvious. And because we're on the third-to-last page of a Gerry Conway story, the tree monster totally has an Afterschool Special Moment. Apparently, he never realized he was a tree monster until Batman mentioned it. I would have loved to have seen the tree monster face the panel on "America's Next Top Model", especially back when Janice Dickinson was still on the show. "Tree Monster, your hands are like bundles of sticks, you've got no waist, your hair needs to be raked, and I'm sorry, but in this photo, it looks like you have no penis."


Jeebus. Was the tree monster this simple-minded when he was a chauffeur? Because it's a wonder Ivy's car ever made it out of the parking garage.

So who's the real monster in this story?

Steel yourselves, gentle readers, for the Giant Sun Hat of Doom!


That's Ivor standing in the back, in his pre-arboreal period. You remember Ivor, don't you? Ivor, her chauffeur? And yes, that is Bruce Wayne on the left side of the panel, although Janson's inks have altered his hairstyle and face into those of some vaguely Mediterranean stranger. And I'm pretty sure that happy balding guy on the far left is supposed to be Barbara Gordon. (Kidding.)

Ivy looks awfully cocky for a gal with a humongous potato chip atop her head. It's frightening! It's immense! It could blot out the sun, if it so desired. Only it doesn't want to. Not yet.

And you know what? I don't think Ivy even knows she's wearing it. I think it just drifted through space (from God knows where) and just... settled... on her noggin. And she hasn't even figured out it's perched there.

At least, not until... now.


Tomorrow: Origami paper monster! Need I say more?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

D-List Monsters of Super-Hero Land: Anthony Lupus, Part Three

To recap, Bruce Wayne is in Alaska, with the mission of bringing back known werewolf Anthony Lups, so he can donate bone marrow to his sick niece. Wayne and his supposedly rugged EPA pal, "Clayton", locate Lupus' remote cabin, but nobody's home. So the EPA guy basically decides to just take over th' dang place. Hey, what do you expect? He's from a government agency! Eminent domain, baby! Also, he has some troops he'd like to quarter there...

Oh yeah, and then Lupus finally shows back up, in pog form monster mode. And he's miffed.


Awright, Seasoned Professional Gerry Conway, you're asking me to believe Batman is frozen with startlement, just because a werewolf barges into the room? I'm sorry, but even for the Pre-Crisis Batman -- y'know, the one who acted more like a swashbuckling hero and less like a weirdly-omniscient Green Beret? -- that's a little hard to take. The guy battles space aliens on a daily basis alongside the Justice League, and he takes one gander at a werewolf and he's all aghast? Hell, why not just go ahead and dialog him like a society matron in a Marx Brothers film? ("Oh, this is positively scandalous--!")

Thankfully, Batman snaps out of it, and applies a little fire to the situation...


...And Lupus takes a dive head-first into the snow, in a bit of Vaudevillian slapstick one doesn't usually see in werewolves. Outside of "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, that is.

Clayton can't help, because he's fixated by Bruce's ass.... which Bruce has been booty-poppin' with metronome-like regularity throughout their life-and-death struggle. I'd say he was doing it unintentionally, except for all his rhythmic grunting. UGHN! Ugh-ugh ,UGHN! UGHN!

Conway's relentlessly clunky prose struggles to impart suspense, as it declares that the hero has achieved "a kind of safety." (Similarly, a Gerry Conway story gives the reader a kind of entertainment.)

And now that we've entered the tale's final act, I suppose there's no more homoerotic subtext to be gleaned from--


Of course, I may be mistaken.

And then the formerly "top" dog, Clayton, scrams out of there in a closeted gay panic.


I guess Bruce shouldn't have crooned "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" to Clayton when he was just starting to wake up.

Alone at last, Bruce indulges in some pretentious moralizing... Conway Style!


Wait, wait, wait... so he's saying the EPA guy is like a werewolf, because he refuses to believe in werewolves... no, wait, he's saying the EPA guy is like Lupus because the EPA guy doesn't want to believe in the supernatural, and Lupus doesn't want to... not stop killing endangered species? Wait, what? No, that can't be it. Let's see, he's saying that Doctor Thirteen, I mean, "Clayton", won't accept evidence of the paranormal, even when it tries to strangle him to death, and Lupus won't accept evidence... that he shouldn't kill endangered species? Maybe? Aaaagh! My head hurts.

At least, with Clayton out of the way, Bruce feels free to dress up as outrageously as he wants!


Just in case he ever met another werewolf? I'm boggled!

Just think how much "contingency plan" crap must be cluttering up the Batcave! Hell, by rights, the Batmobile should be about the size of a Greyhound bus. "Robin! Run to the Bat-Bus and see if you can find that bottle of mummy repellent! The powder, not the liquid! ...No, the one for Aztec mummies--!"

After some missteps, like capturing an actual wolf in that goofy net, Batman finally ends up in a life-or-death struggle with Lupus, atop the Alaskan pipeline, because it's topical. And their battle is just loaded with juicy Conway narration! ...That's "juicy" like a fart, by the way. I'll give you a few highlights, but you really ought to read the whole page if you have time.


This comic came out the same year that as the song "Leather and Lace." Coincidence? I think not.


Meh. That's not arbitrary enough, Seasoned Professional Gerry Conway! A truly arbitrary name would be something like "Vice-Admiral Cheddarballs Clambake-Smythe" or "the Scrunchinator" or "HoboCorp."

But whatever you want to call it, Batman prevails, and he finally gets Lupus into that net.


When you've been super-heroing as long as The Blankity-Blank Batman, you can make an outrageous promise like that without even cracking a smile. Keep hope alive, Lupus, but I can guarantee that Batman's going to spend about as much time working on a cure for you condition, as Superman does, concocting a way to get Mon-El out of the Phantom Zone. In other words, don't throw away the tattered pants just yet.

Tomorrow: Poison Ivy, a tree monster, and a sun hat so big, it would freak out Jervis Tetch.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

D-List Monsters of Super-Hero Land: Anthony Lupus, Part Two

"Love... exciting and new...!" What's great about the middle act of "Detective Comics" #505, is that nearly every scene seems like the set-up for porno flick. With Bruce Wayne as the "bottom."


Porno Set-Up #1: Bruce Wayne, in his best purple suit, cocks his ear and his hips in the direction of two brawny, angry men. (The bearded guy is actually quite a looker, as you'll see in the later panels... it's just that this is a bad angle for him. Speaking for myself, I have no "bad angles" but I try to sympathize with the genetically less-fortunate. That's why I put up with Tusker and Storm Boy!)


Porno Set-Up #2 (in a film I'd call "Bruce's Choice"): Clayton's manly "native" parka and boots have sealed the deal for Bruce! Time for a little light stalking, and then he makes his move!


"Without another word, Bruce Wayne closed the door. Tenderly, he took Clayton's hand and began to suck on his thumb, all the while staring deeply, longingly, into Clayton's eyes...

With his free hand, Clayton pressed the intercom button. 'Carrie,' he murmured, 'Hold all my calls...'

That's Porno Set-Up #3, by the way. "I.O.U.s"! Haw! Careful, Clayton... Bruce is insatiable! But at least he pays for it.


Two men, braving the elements, away from the comforts -- and rules! -- of civilized society? Sign me up!


Porno Set-Up #4: "Unbidden, a pained sigh escaped Bruce's sensuous lips. 'Oh, the cold air, it's just having its way with me,' he cried. Bruce's powerful limbs seemed drained of their legendary strength. As fatigue overtook him, he could almost feel the indomitable Clayton's steel-gray eyes sweeping over him, contemptuously, yet hungrily..."

C'mon! I don't care how cold it is, we're talking about The Dad-Blasted Batman, here! He's not gonna go all soft just 'cause he forgot to wear earmuffs! But then, Seasoned Professional Gerry Conway wouldn't be able to indulge his Jack London fantasies if he couldn't talk about people freezing to death. Gah.

Anyway, Bruce and Clayton (who never gets a first name) find Lupus' cabin, and decide to make themselves at home, just like Goldilocks!


"A night unlike those Bruce Wayne has known in Gotham City..." (Porno Set-Up #5.) Just think how angry he'll be when he gets back! And he'll surely demand satisfaction...! (The lights dim, amateurish techno music fades in, etc., etc.)


I think ol' Brucie-Boy is already pitching a tent. And what in tarnation is he doing with his hand--?

Y'know what? The sexual tension is just too pungent at this point. Something needs to happen! Conway, could you just go ahead a write in a make-out session for these dudes, or...


Oh. A werewolf attack! That'll work, too! So the two dudes start making out with the werewolf, and... no?


Check out the doorknob, by the way. (And no, that is not one of my come-on lines. I don't care what Storm Boy tells you. It's a damn lie.)

No, it's another Seasoned Professional Gerry Conway trademark: the Easily Startled Inanimate Object.

Tomorrow: action! Just not the sexy kind.

Monday, October 29, 2007

D-List Monsters of Super-Hero Land: Anthony Lupus, Part One

In "Detective Comics" #505 (August, 1981) Batman is asked by a woman to track down her brother, as he is the only viable bone marrow donor for her sick daughter. The complication: the brother is Anthony Lupus. Who is a werewolf.


Lupus is (to my knowledge) the only monster on my list to have made the transition into television; he appeared on the Batman cartoon in 1992. The story was based on his first comics appearance. Except they changed his last name to "Romulus", since that's vaguely less stupid. Vaguely. Fun fact: his voice was provided by Harry Hamlin, who always looks like he's about two lap-dissolves away from completely turning into a werewolf, anyway.

But back in 1981, Lupus was just another dead one-shot villain.

Or was he? Commissioner Gordon just happens to have a newspaper clipping about a hunter named "Anthony Lupus" who is in hot water with the EPA for slaughtering "a rare species of Alaskan timber wolf." The species is especially rare, because the writer (Seasoned Professional Gerry Conway) just made it up!


Ah, the Wonderful World of Gerry Conway, where nobody does anything, until they absolutely have to. I'm picturing the scene now: "Has a bloodthirsty monster possibly resurfaced after being presumed dead?" Gordon pondered. As he puffed thoughtfully on his pipe, his gaze wandered down the page to the night's television listings. A-ha! KGC-TV was re-airing a "Fantasy Island" episode he'd missed once before. "And I'll miss it again if I have to sit on the roof with the Bat-Signal all night long, waiting for that long-eared galoot to show up." thought Gordon. "If he ever does. Supposedly he has "monitor duty" on the Justice League satellite on certain nights, but I'll be damned if I can ever get his schedule pinned down. 'Monitor duty--!' Batman and his super-pals probably just play poker or have wild sex parties up there, and I'm stuck down here like a jerk-off. All because of a "lead" -- which may or may not even be legit! The hell with it! Besides, it's all the way up in Alaska, for fuck's sake! Let the pipeline workers and the lesbians sort it all out."


"Of course, now it can't go on..." I mean, before, it was merely illegal and harmful to the environment. But now there's that damn kid and her leukemia in the mix. What a pain in the ass. That's motivation in a Seasoned Professional Gerry Conway story for you: imposed on the character by an outside source, and heartily resented.

The brown-suited guy all the way down there is not Batman's Biggest Fan Ever. Far from it, actually. It's mayoral candidate Arthur Reeves, and he's running on an anti-Batman platform (which is also how Jacques Chirac and Hugo Chavez got elected).


Reeves is a black belt in Taunt-Fu! Here he demonstrates the "praying mantis" style. It's a good thing Batman smacked him down, because Reeve's follow-up move is a wedgie. And since Batman's undies are on the outside of his tights, he's pretty much asking for it.

But the bitch, he is slapped, and so Batman must lam it out of town. He heads for Alaska -- not in the Batplane, but in a commercial liner... that looks suspiciously like my old living room.


Well, hello, Bruce Wayne! You're simply slathered in purple, and you're reading the Gotham Gazette's fashion section? I'm definitely intrigued! Just grow some kick-ass facial hair, and then we'll talk. Also, you might want to adjust your pose a tad. It's looking a mite prim. C'mon! Sprawl out a little bit. Spread those legs wide. Find something to scratch. And would it kill ya to grunt randomly?

Sorry. I seem to have gone off on a tangent. It's just that I can't stop thinking about how I'd "improve" Bruce Wayne, i.e. make him more like myself. Oh, well.

Tomorrow: Bruce and a handsome, rugged, bearded fellow make plans to spend the night alone in some other dude's cabin. You're getting there, Bruce! You're getting there!

But today, I'd like to close things out by showing you how the "cool kids" dressed in 1981:


...Well, of course, they had to wear baggy, voluminous clothing! How else do you expect them to cover up all the tattoos?