The Frankenstein Monster #8

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Halloween is here! Can’t say I’m much of the celebrating type considering my childhood was spent decked out in flammable plastic…and handing out candy to other kids. All dressed up with nowhere to go. Thanks Mom, for making an 8 year old man the door. Don’t feel bad. I’ve more than made up for it over the years by consuming my body weight in miniature Snickers.

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 “The sweet smell of nostalgia and noxious plastic fumes.”

We’re not here to discuss my tragic backstory. That’s what hard liquor is for. No dear friends, time to talk comics. With the spirit of this hair raising holiday in mind, I’ve decided to revisit some Bronze Age Marvel Monsters. Everyone enjoys a good fright right? Publishers recognized the appeal of horror and flooded the market with a myriad of titles dedicated to the macabre. The majority of these issues had an anthology layout while solo books were reserved for the genres movie mainstays. Dracula being the most notable and popular with the fans.

This makes The Monster Frankenstein #8 (cover dated January 1974) pretty interesting to me. First, he’s the big brute of scary set but with an over saturated market, the chatter in the crypt was Frankenstein’s book neared it’s demise. Frank’s adventures needed a little life, so Marvel turned to Dracula for a three issue guest appearance. Did it do the trick or was this story more rotten than a Jack o’ Lantern in late November? Let’s take the lid off of this nefarious narrative by Gary Friedrich and the brilliant John Buscema.

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As the cover indicates, we start with Frankenstein opening a coffin to reveal Dracula rip roaring and ready to go. For an immortal creature he doesn’t bother to waste any time. This leaves Franky boy a tad shocked. One would think Drac might like to use the bathroom after waking up, or perhaps enjoy a good stretch before going into stalk mode. We got ourselves one nimble Nosferatu here!

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“You and me both Pal…”

I gotta admit, it’s pretty cool this story hits you with action outta the gate but how did this meeting come to be? Sheer chance? Of course not. Enter Marguerita the Hag. This little old lady lured Frank into her gypsy camp last issue. Filling his belly with food and his heart with high hopes of finding a home, she requests he follows her to a cave. Turns out only he possesses the strength needed to open the coffin that lies within. Here’s the rub, Marguerita is in fact a vampire herself eager to see her dark lord again. Be careful what you wish for baby!

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“Knuckle sandwiches are included with the early bird special.”

While all this geriatric grappling is going down, the reader is introduced to Marguerita’s beautiful granddaughter, Carmen. Bearing witness to the melee, the girl is horrified to discover her beloved Bubbe is a baddie. Marguerita grabs Carmen violently, turning Frank’s eye away from Dracula. He saves the girl from a vampire bite and drives a stake through her matriarch’s ticker.

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“You’re the reason for my life…You’re the inspiration.”

Dracula sees this as prime time to hit the bricks. I mean, c’mon all that stalking makes a guy thirsty.  So off to the nearest town for blood he goes. Meanwhile, Frankenstein and Carmen emerge from the cave to discover the entire gypsy camp, once welcoming to Franky, have been slaughtered. The nearby Townsfolk felt the need to punish them for turning the woods into the Universal Studios Monsters Tour. Now they gone and done it. Not only is Drac on his way to suck ’em dry but Frankenstein is out to avenge his fallen friends.

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“Nowadays you can just illegally download some Gypsy Jams. Back then, not so much.”

Let’s tackle my biggest gripe about this issue. Hell, about Vampire tales in general. Anytime I see the whole change into a bat but keep my face thing, I’m annoyed. Why? Just go full on bat. To add garlic to my gripe, Dracula even keeps his collar here! You may think you’re the most stylish flying rat in Transylvania there buddy but next time just rock a leisure suit. The ladies will love it! Well, some maybe. Ok…keep the collar.

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“Do these wings make my ass look fat?”

Where were we? Ah yes, a fury infused Frankenstein! The denizens of Gypsy Genocideville are aware he is en route. Rather than play sitting duck, the Burgomeister  insists they set out to kill the monstrosity before it arrives. Gotta love the role of Burgomeister. Has there been any other profession portrayed as a bigger dink in realm of fiction? The only other job that may hold a torch is the Hospital Orderly. I challenge you fine reader, to prove me otherwise.

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“Burgomeisters…cementing a bad rep for over 200 years.”

As the Villagers wonder where to start the hunt, Frank’s already arrived at the town square. He smashes a wagon and goes on a diatribe about hatred. For a supposed lunkhead, he’s fairly spot on about men being the true monsters of the world. Word of advice to Frankenstein though: the Ghandi routine gets lost in translation when you murder everyone within arms reach! Hey, It’s the thought that counts…right big guy?

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“Quit running! I have to see if your nether regions can accommodate a wagon wheel!”

Similar to Trick or Treaters that descend upon the house giving away full size candy bars, the locals manage to swarm on Frank. Someone finally realizes pitch forks are useless and grabs a rifle. Guns are a pretty lousy solution to any problem but I will say this, I’d be willing to get the resulting sound effect tattooed on one of my buttocks.

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“Look on the bright side, at least scarring isn’t an issue!”

Subdued by the bullet, Frank is tied to a post and given the “burn the witch” treatment. This ends with a splash page and is probably my single favorite moment of the book. The beast shows bravado only to seemingly crap his pants and with the odd word balloon placement, the chimney is telling him to die.

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“Just friggin’ great, you bumpkins had to go and burn the last good street pole!”

Was this the spooky spectacular that reinvigorated my spirit for the season? Not quite. The problem here is the script. It cashes in on every cliche that’s been used in genre from the get go. Pacing was good but it’s terribly predictable. The art is the strength here as John Buscema makes you feel like you’re watching a classic Monster movie.

Worth a read for fans of the subject matter but for the rest of us, It’s a pass. Seal it in the Tomb of Tired Tropes and hope no one ever sets it free.

 

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Showcase #55

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Solomon Grundy born on a Monday, died on a Saturday. Every article written about him starts with the nursery rhyme. It’s officially part of his origin and immediately recognized by fans. That’s all fine and dandy but I prefer to think of him as the villain who made Clamdiggers cool. Some of you may refer to them as Capri pants. The fact  remains, Solomon could easily show up at Pee Wee Soccer practice and mix with the Moms.

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“Grundy did you forget the orange slices again?”

Fashion choices aside, I can’t say I’ve ever been overly fond of the character. There are actually a lot of cool elements there. A reanimated corpse spawned from Slaughter Swamp. Totally creepy monster. Has swapped dukes with just about every major hero in the DC Universe. Then I remember the negatives that turn me off. Talks like a buffoon. Resorts to petty crime. Frankenstein wants his shtick back.

I needed to find just the right avenue to get my Grundy on. Previously my exposure tended to come from his misadventures with Swamp Thing.  This time around, I traveled 52 years in the past and cracked open a copy of Showcase #55 cover dated April, 1965. “Solomon Grundy goes on a Rampage” isn’t the snappiest title but it was written and drawn by legendary creators Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.

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I may have gone a little overboard talking about Grundy as the issue actually features some DC luminaries not to be sniffed at. Dr.Fate, Hourman and Green Lantern are the hot tickets in town. One of which, like Grundy, I need a little help in gaining respect for. Hopefully, this book can kill two birds in that department. Who of that trio could I possibly roll my eyes over? Hourman. The guy pops a pill and gets powers for one hour. Kinda lame, I mean there’s tons of dudes who down a Viagra and claim to have super strength running around nowadays. Plus, where the hell did he buy that cape? Maybe he just snagged a beach towel from someones clothes line.

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“I assure you, this cougar was properly dried before I punched it in the spleen.”

First thing you need to know about this story is doors aren’t cool anymore. At least not in the traditional sense. Knob salesmen look away this will be the stuff of nightmares. It appears that during the 60’s entering via rectangle was quite square. Walking through walls or access via a hatch was all the rage. Thankfully this was fixed post crisis, resulting in bad guys knocking prior to shooting you.

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“Finding someone willing to deliver a pizza is impossible around here.”

Grundy has returned to Earth. During a previous battle with the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, he was imprisoned in an emerald globe and shot into space. Able to shift his weight around, he navigated his way through the cosmos back to his beloved marsh. The impact attracted the attention of Dr.Fate. Arriving at the crash site he magically reassembles the shards and is amazed that G.L. can blow such a big bubble from a single stick of gum.

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“Will the Lanterns ever learn? Forcing your balls on us doesn’t work!”

Didn’t take long for me to find another reason to dislike Hourman. When he’s not frolicking around in Sears latest bath linens, you can call him Rex Tyler. Proud owner of the Tyler Chemical Company just outside of beautiful Gotham City. What’s the problem with this secret alias? Not much besides the fact he’s responsible for a crap ton of pollution. Think there’s any three eyed frogs out there cursing his name? Hmm…we may have to revisit that later.

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“Are thought balloons admissible in court?”

Hourman is eager to protect all that sweet radioactive sludge so he trudges into the swamp with a handful of his “Miraclo” capsules. Solomon comes out swinging and promptly puts Rexy on his keester. Dr. Fate swoops in with a slew of spells that do diddly-poo until he pulls an odd one out of the deck. Remember the cover image where he’s crackling with energy and stiff like he stole Hourman’s prescription? Turns out to be a case of playing possum. Grundy believes he has Fate dead to rights but gets frozen in place by contact. Probably jealous that Fate’s mannequin routine is more interesting than his entire backstory, Hourman plants a punch into Grundy’s bread basket ruining the entire trap.

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“DC should have considered copyrighting Man-Thing.”

This ill timed blow proved to be pretty costly. Not only did it allow Grundy to get away but Hourman basically just crossed the streams. It figures he’d be the one to bring the bad juju. Now, not only do their powers fail when they are in close proximity, they can’t control the urge to kill each other. It also created a side effect where Solomon Grundy attracts objects made of wood. As he stomps off, all the junk from Grandma’s back yard follows suit.

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“Hey, it’s got 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes already!”

Wanting revenge on his jailer, Solomon struts into Gotham and robs a bank. Green Lantern arrives and we’re subjected to the worst weakness in comics. Yep, Alan Scott can’t handle wood. The debris Grundy had hovering around put G.L. down for the count. Undone by a broken coffee table leg. Oh, the humanity! Grundy scoops him up and back to Slaughter Swamp they go. FYI, flicking a toothpick at him is just as effective as a thunderbolt.

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“If Pinocchio shows up… he’s screwed.”

Meanwhile, Dr.Fate and Hourman have realized by staying at a reasonable distance the spell wears off.  Unfortunately there’s no time for high fives or bro hugs . That toxic waste the Tyler Corporation has been dumping transformed Alan into a Grundy Lantern!  It’s as cool  as you imagine but short lived. Fate finally whips up an incantation that works reverting him to human form. The three heroes use their individual abilities to wear Grundy down. What to do with him? Surprise! They encase him in yet another orb and knock him out of orbit like a cue ball.

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“We replaced his Folgers Crystals with our Biohazard Blend. Let’s see if he notices…”

Sure I poked a decent amount of fun at it but Showcase #55 was awesome. Just a really fun read all around. It may be one of my favorite silver age yarns to be honest. Holding up extraordinarily well, this classic is a testament to the talents of Fox and Anderson. I highly recommend you pick this up, physical or digital.

Can I say I’m more of a Grundy fan after checking this out? Maybe a little. This did nothing to change my perception of the dumb lug but I’m more interested in checking out his adventures, especially from this era. What I will say, without a doubt, Hourman can take a hike. Give me the android version any day of the week. He deserves credit for one thing though. Rex Tyler was rocking a time piece for a necklace long before Flavor Flav was even born. Now stop polluting the environment and ditch the stupid costume ya jerk.

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David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

 

House of Mystery #148

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House of Mystery has long been associated with horror but it actually featured superhero stories from #143- #173. Martian Manhunter aka J’onn J’onzz was the main attraction for the majority of that span. He’s always confused me a little. Not the character overall but rather his popularity. The dude is a straight up heavy hitter in the DC Universe and when he comes up in conversation among fans there is genuine affection there.

So why can’t J’onn hold on to a solo title like the other big guns? He’s an original member of the Justice League who has appeared in video games, animation and live action TV. He’s also been in so many titles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him DNA tested on Maury.

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” Grant Morrison is a HO!”

I suppose it’s fitting to follow up a paternity test anecdote with Martian Manhunter battling a race of prophylactics. Wait, don’t tell me you don’t recall the Clash with the Condoms back in ’65? All good, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s take a peek at House of Mystery #148 “The Beings in the Color Rings” ( I preferred my title too) by Dave Wood and Joe Certa.

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Before we examine the story, I have to be honest with you. I don’t care for sidekicks. Some have a place. Marvel’s Rick Jones or DC’s Robin for example, had important roles in comic book history. Mention the likes of D-Man or say, any animal in a cape to me and prepare for a look that will melt your face off. J’onn may have had one of the worst of the bunch in Zook. He’s cute, resembles a teddy bear, speaks like a child and every time he appears on panel, I want to punt the little bastard into next week.

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“I’m gonna bring you home and flush you like a turd.”

The issue begins with Bedford City being attacked by a strange creature from the sky. J’onn hears the radio bulletin while chilling in his mountain lair and deducts it must be a manifestation of “The Idol Head of Diabolu”. Other than having a name that rolls off the tongue, Diabolu was an artifact from Mars that granted ordinary folks powers. If his suspicion of it’s involvement is true, we can add giving baby toys sentience to it’s resume.

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“Let your kid play with these at your own peril pal…”

So what form of evil is this thing capable of? Basically, it tosses rings around that suck up items of corresponding colors only to spit them back out sans pigment. Yellow ring picks up a yellow taxi and voila, it’s white. Before you head to the rooftops and start yelling “Cheeseballs!” at the heavens let me remind you this was the sensational Silver Age. An era chock full of random plot points, so there is one cool thing it can do… summon an electrified two headed octopus!

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      “J’onn please. Don’t be rude. It’s name is Larry and he has a Massage License.”

This proves to be a let down. The wannabe Wacky Wall Crawler is merely a mirage. Something that does please me however, was back in the day heroes had powers to suit any pickle. Kids nowadays with their search engines will never understand the importance of  “Super Memory”. That’s right, us old timers used to walk to school during blizzards and had to use our alien brains to access the Encyclopedia Britannica. The struggle was real. Oh before I forget, the Earth is about to be enslaved by ringworm hungry for paint.

hom1487“The Rainbow Paint Factory appears to be constructed from a crossword puzzle.”

Rather than fight any more imaginary beasts, J’onn has a plan. It’s terribly stupid but hey, if you haven’t noticed already, this isn’t the finest work of fiction. He decides the ringworm is absorbing colors and sending them somewhere. If he can become bait maybe the source will be revealed. Showing exemplary carpeting skills, he rolls up giant piece of turf to call attention to green. The trick works and he’s whisked away to another dimension. May I remind you he’s already the correct hue so the sod sushi is a bit unnecessary.

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“Little known fact: Martian Manhunter taught Bob Marley how to twist a spliff.”

At the start, I referred to this yarn as the Clash with the Condoms. Well I’ll be damned if the “disk people” he encounters are not related to rubbers. Seriously. They seem harmless at first. “Color gives us power” and all that jazz but their real intent is to oppress Earthlings and coat the world in latex. Just kidding, I made that last part up but it’s actually an improvement to the plot.

PicMonkey Collage“This Halloween, tell your friends it’s a Disk Person costume.”

Now that our hero has found himself at the mercy of sinister love gloves, how does he save the day? Surprise…he doesn’t. J’onn actually gets his Martian mutton roasted by the baddies. All seems lost until, and I’d rather swallow nails than say this but Zook comes to the rescue. A character I can’t stand shows up, yanks him out of out of trouble and this issue wraps up with J’onn remarking he owes the city a patch of grass.

This book was ghostwritten and I completely understand the creators not wanting to be associated with it. Rancid from start to finish, I had zero enthusiasm to check out the back up feature “The Man who Hated his Powers”. The story was one of the worst I’ve ever read. That’s saying something. I can usually justify the existence of a comic by relating to the time period it was released but in this case, the defense rests.

If your a hardcore Martian Manhunter fan or just someone interested in learning more about him, this is not for you. On the other hand, if you’re eager to get your Zook on, He’s the true protagonist in this drivel. Read away and prepare for a robust slap to be delivered by yours truly.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

Ghost Rider #16

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I fucking love Jaws. Enough so that I open up this column using a cuss when describing one of my favorite movie franchises. So, when I stumbled upon this issue of Ghost Rider #16 and saw the tease on the cover, I had to check it out. As I write this we are smack dab in the middle of the summer and what goes better with beaches and barbeques than our fear of man eating sharks.  Thanks to novelist Peter Benchley and director Steven Spielberg, Jaws has become a tradition that terrifies and thrills fans all over the world. We’re all residents of Amity Island every July and Captain Quint is one of the most bad ass characters ever captured on celluloid.

Even if you put my affection for the flicks aside and just take this cover at face value,  how the hell does someone with a flaming skull and a motorcycle fight underwater? That in itself makes it goofy enough to garner my attention. Written by Bill Mantlo with art by George Tuska, let’s see if its safe to swim with this story titled “Blood in the Water” from February 1976.

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lineJohnny Blaze is fed up with Los Angeles. He has decided to hit the road and head for Mexico. Seems like a popular destination for the superhero set. Upon reaching the border, we discover our neighbors to the south are really only concerned with one thing. Dirty Hippies. That’s right, take your patchouli smelling ass and Grateful Dead records somewhere else pal. What do the customs agents like? Money. Johnny flashes some greenbacks and off to Baja we go.

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“They may hate greasy gringo’s but are suckers for Cherry Garcia

Cruising down the coast, he pines for a simple life and spots a cozy little pad on the shoreline. Looks like quite the tranquil little piece of real estate. Except for a dude hellbent on shooting dolphins from his back porch. While this nutbag tries popping a cap in Flipper’s ass, his daughter intervenes grabbing at his weapon. The stray bullet nails one of the tires on Johnny’s skull cycle, sending him tumbling to the sand. I know every time I fall, my first instinct is to yell “Yahoo” rather than “Wipeout” but different strokes for different folks I suppose.

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“Watch the property value plummet before your eyes.”

Johnny is pissed off over taking a digger on the beach and confronts Mr. Jerkpants with the jazzy jaw. Despite being the type of guy who thinks it’s cool to pound on his offspring, he feels guilty about wrecking Johnny’s ride. He offers his shed  for repairs but Blaze is all about the booty and would rather chill in a dune with the man’s daughter.

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“Say baby, does your dad shoot at all the hunks possessed by demons or just me?”

Rather than get frisky, she feels the need to give her dad’s origin. You see, Frank Phillips is the Punisher of the Pacific. Frank was hired by the C.I.A. to strap bombs on dolphins and experiment with using them as living torpedoes. Crazy as it sounds, militarizing mammals isn’t just the stuff of comic book fiction.  Obsessed with his work, one day he takes his family out to sea with him. His kid falls in the water and a tragic backstory is born.

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“Former Miami Dolphins season ticket holder could stand the losing NO MORE…”

No sooner than we get up to speed on why Frank is stark raving mad, he’s at it again.  This guy is on a mission to eliminate all of dolphin-kind. I’m fond of the next panel, not because I dig murdering harmless animals but rather how dramatic the poor little buggers are as they take hot lead. Seriously, eat your heart out DiCaprio. These dudes deserved an Oscar way before your token victory for The Revenant.

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“We would like to thank the Academy and  Mr.Limpett for paving the way.”

You read that narration box correctly, Frank uses a tape recording to lure them in. Had he played his cards right, there are much more beneficial ways to control ocean life with that technology. Just sayin’…

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“Hey Namorita, I have a mix tape for you!”

Johnny isn’t pleased all this commotion just put the kibosh on his beach blanket bingo with blondie. So what to do? Take the Skull Cycle, despite a flat tire and ride that sucker right at Frank’s boat. Here’s where his plan gets really special. Hurl your leather clad frame on deck cannon ball style. Pretty slick. I believe he may have created the greatest take down of a gunman in Marvel history.

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“As far as dramatic entrances go, ass first is pretty impressive.”

They duke it out as the boat drifts to sea but while the fists fly a rouge wave capsizes the vessel. A flaming skull did little to freak out Frank but he’s amazed that those  finned foes that once felt his wrath are actually pretty friendly. No time for a tickle fest though as we are about to have our main event. That’s right, cue the dah dum’s and close the beaches. Ghosty has noticed a great white forgot his brown bagged lunch at home and needs a snack to hold him over. gr15.1

 “It must suck having no eyelids when swimming in the ocean. SALTY!”

Ghost Rider and Captain Quint actually have some things in common. Sure, they’re both some seriously macho dudes but when it comes to decision making, not so bright. For those who remember the first Jaws film, Quint let his emotions take control and ( 42 year old Spoiler alert ) ends up as shredded wheat. Ghosty’s first inclination is to shoot flames at the shark… underwater. While I commended the insane barrel roll to get on the ship, boiling the shark wouldn’t be my first choice. Serious loss of kudos points there.

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“The look of a man determined to kill a shark or massive cocaine habit? You decide.”

His lone option exhausted, not only has my question been answered on Ghost Rider’s usefulness in water (NONE!) but now I’m not sure about the dolphins anymore. This whole issue I’ve been led to believe they are the victims. Sympathetic to the fact they had been led to slaughter while listening to smooth jams. To that, I now say nay. They are vicious little bastards! Swimming to Ghosty’s aid by ramming themselves into the belly of the beast. I realize they are saving Ghost Riders chaps but man, maybe Frank has been right all along. There is some evil up in those blowholes.

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“Aww, he just wanted a S’more. Do you know how hard those are to come by down there?”

That’s pretty much it. The dolphins do all the damage and save the day. A little lackluster in the man v.s. shark department but we got something even better. Frank has realized the error of his ways. The whole time the true enemy came from within. We close on a tender moment, where he apologizes to an entire species. Alright, tender was a poor choice…cheesy, that’s better. We close on a cheesy moment where a crazy old man shouts at a wave. I’m not sure if the dolphins are supposed to be there in synchronized jump or if it’s just symbolic but let’s talk about if you should check this out.

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“Believe it or not, this is the least absurd moment in the whole book.”

You may think I’m high on seaweed but I really enjoyed this tale. The pace was excellent and the art was seriously outstanding stuff. Ok, granted It didn’t live up to the hype promised on the cover but not being a Ghost Rider fan, I’m already more interested in his exploits from the 70’s.

You may be asking “Dave, didn’t you just claim the ending was a little dopey”? That I did but I also commonly say, remember the era it was released. You won’t get The Watchmen back in 1976, so enjoy things for what they are. In this case done fairly well.

If you see this one out there in the bins, snag it.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. Unsolicited tip #852 for all the kiddo’s out there, skip high priced variants and go buy some bronze age stuff instead. You’ll thank me later…

By the way, I wouldn’t be much of a Jaws fan If I didn’t leave you with this:

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites  are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two in One #96

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Who doesn’t have a soft spot for Marvel’s hero made of rock? I’m talking of course about the Thing. Since 1961, Ben Grimm has been one of the cornerstones at the House of Ideas as a member of the Fantastic Four. Personally, in my younger years I was enthralled with him. Throw downs with the heaviest hitters were always a big draw. Any issue trading punches with the Hulk were an absolute event.

Marvel recognized his popularity and gave him a team up book in 1974. Thanks to the Two in One series, I get to wax nostalgic here on Two Staple Gold and it’s Clobbering Time… all the time.

Here’s the best part though, If your like me you may have lost track of the “Ever Lovin’ Blue Eyed” Thing over the years. No biggie. He’s like a friend that remained unchanged and will always be there for you. Revisiting his adventures is always a comforting experience. Or so I liked to believe.

Time to take our meds and see if this ish makes us sick or cures our blues. I present Marvel Two in One #96 “Visiting Hours” cover dated February 1983. Written by Tom DeFalco and penciled by Ron Wilson.

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lineHere’s a tough pill to swallow, the Thing got his ass whooped. Boxing with the Champion is generally a bad idea and he’s landed in the local Hospital. Reed Richards has decided that is the best place for him citing the Baxter Building’s lack of “medical facilities to asses the true extent of his injuries”. This is the first of many odd decisions to fit the narrative, considering Mr.Fantastic discovered the Negative Zone but can’t handle some boo boo’s. Even worse, Reed acknowledges Ben is a sitting duck if his enemies decided to strike. Most intelligent man on earth my ass, more like world’s biggest dick.

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“Well, you could have tried other options Nurse but Yancy Street is one way only.”

Like Richards, the Mad Thinker  is a prognosticator. The classic FF foe seems to believe he has Orange Hides obituary ready for print. He has no intention of doing it himself but who can blame him? I would never leave my lair with a lousy haircut like that. It’s cool though, as we are about to find out the rest of the Marvel Universe will pick up his slack.

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“Villainy 101: Get pissed and throw shit.”

Spider-Man is on his way to visit his pal Benjy when he encounters the first nefarious nasty to crawl out of the woodwork…MECHO-MARAUDER! Never heard of him? Then your life is short on finger blasts. The dude is a straight up joke and Spidey makes quick work of him. It’s worth noting this battle is the start of instances with sexual innuendo that litter this issue. I’m sure if I asked Tom DeFalco if my suspicions of sneaking in some naughty dialogue were on purpose, he would probably punch me in the face. I wouldn’t fault the guy though, who didn’t get a little randy watching Valerie Bertinelli on One Day at a Time back in the 80’s? Sexy sweaters Tom! Who can resist?

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“Didn’t Aunt May warn you about palm tapping? You could go blind Pete!”

I’m going to skip over a few guest appearances during my summary. There’s just way too many. One that can’t be ignored is the debut of Nurse Hasslebutt. Aptly named and tough as nails, she takes no gump. The Web Slinger and Mr.Fantastic are no match for her mouth while she kicks everyone out of the Thing’s room despite their pleas to stay. Hard to find characters in comics that command such consternation. I imagine her origin includes a bite from a radioactive Amanda Waller.

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“She’s gotta be Hydra…or hungry.”

Crash… Boom…Bang! Loud noises are another foil to this script. Everyone needs to make a grand entrance and how better to do that than smashing through a concrete wall. That’s all fine and dandy, problem is the Thing never notices. Actually, NONE of the Hospital staff notices. Time for a full scale evacuation maybe? Seriously, check out Mole Man here just rolling up in an underground death tank. Is this a Healthcare facility or a drug den where everyone is so doped up on morphine they pay no attention subterranean slime balls?

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“I’m not having my blood work done here, those needles are outrageous!”

Why let the men have all the fun? The Grapplers, a team of female wrestlers led by the miserably monikered Poundcakes, have a bone to pick with the Thing. Unlike some of the other interlopers, they can’t manage to break in thanks to Captain America standing watch. This battle is boring as all get out but I really just needed an excuse to include this panel in the article. “Dirty DeFalco” strikes again or should I seek professional help?

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“Last time I answered to Poundcakes was back in Prison sweetheart”

What of Marvel’s malevolent dictator Dr.Doom? He’s aware of his  adversaries recent ailments courtesy of the Daily Bugle. That’s quite a haul, New York to Latveria, hope he tips the paper boy. Surely, he of all people would love to take advantage of this situation. Nah, he’d rather go flirt with an oil can or something.

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“Villainy 102: Stay pissed and continue to throw shit. Congrats, you graduated”

Back to those so called “Jackals”. Looks like they brought Secret Wars to the streets. There is one criminal who has a more sensible plan. The Sandman is one sneaky dude. Slithering through the shafts, he has found success where all others have failed and enters our preferred patients room. What’s he going to do? Smother him with a pillow, fill his cracks with granules of gloom until he snaps? Heck no! Sandy has shown up to pound some brews and smoke some stogies. You see, unlike the other barbarians at the gate, Sandman doesn’t have a grudge but rather gratitude towards the Thing for turning his life around.

 

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“You guys go ahead and duke it out, I’ll be dry humping a vent”

That’s how this comes to a close. Sandy and Ben enjoying some cigars while chaos reigns in the parking lot. I hate being the person to bring this up but If the bad guys really wanted to send Ben Grimm to the graveyard, they should have reached across company lines and hired the Joker to do the job. Experience matters.

 

“Somebody get Nurse Hasslebutt a Snickers!”

The Verdict? The Doctor is out. Overall, It’s ok. The humor is alright but far from Bwah Ha Ha funny. The art is decent enough for the time period. If your not a completist there really is no reason to seek this out. To be fair, if you can find it in a dollar bin, there are worse ways to spend a buck. Consider this baby Rated Meh.

 

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. The last caption was the 250,000th time a Snickers gag was used on the internet. Balloons fell from my ceiling as I wrote it. Yay me.

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites  are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

Metamorpho #4

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While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes a cover grabs me. It’s so enticing that I can’t resist getting a little giddy to see what’s inside. Metamorpho #4 dated Jan-Feb. 1966 is exactly what the Doctor ordered. It’s colorful, action packed and takes you on an adventure prior to page one. Pure silver aged goodness.

Now that the front of the book has amused my avacados, let’s open it up and find out if the carpet matches the drapes. First off, here are the creators that brought us Metamorpho’s Mexican migration titled “The Awesome Escapades of the Abominable Playboy”.

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I’ve written about the scripter Bob Haney before in Two Staple Gold. Be sure to give that column a look see. Shameless self promotion is my middle name. Sorry Bob…

The renowned Ramona Fradon penciled this groovy little gordita.  She is truly a living legend. Besides being the co-creator of Metamorpho, her Aquaman work is considered some of the most iconic in the history of the character. Spending the majority of her career at DC, Ramona also drew the Brenda Starr newspaper strip from 1980 until her retirement as an illustrator in 1995.

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Something you need to know about Rex Tillerson aka Metamorpho. He may be one butt ugly dude but deep down he’s a romantic. ‘Morpho was created by mad scientist Simon Stagg and he’s in love with Simon’s daughter Sapphire. Sure, her dad is nuttier than a bag of bolts, has a creepy cro-magnon as an assistant and her name is suitable for a stripper but what a looker! From a readers perspective, this makes for an interesting supporting cast to say the least.

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“That’s funny. ‘El Bonehead Stupendo’ was my nickname in college. Small world.”

Problem is, Sapphire is one fickle female. She has feelings for Rex but wants more attention. How does one garner extra affection from DC’s resident Elemental Man? Easy, he may be able turn his limbs to steel but isn’t impervious to a taste of jealousy. That bitter nectar can make the most steadfast superhero a little loco.

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“Could’ve started Operation: Honesty but the story would’ve ended next panel.”

She selects “Cha-Cha” Chavez, an over the top latin lover as the tool for her spite campaign. A Mexican millionaire who’s wealth is a mystery. In an impressive initial act, he showers Sapphire’s home with flowers. So much so that Team ‘Morpho must escape to the roof. He then displays his redesign of Mt.Rushmore featuring Sapphire’s likeness. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but her dad is sold.

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“Wonder when ‘Bring her Hot Fudge’ makes it’s debut on Urban Dictionary.”

Metamorpho isn’t pleased Cha-Cha is moving Heaven and Earth to woo is gal but has no say in the matter when the entire clan is invited to board his yacht for a trip to his homeland. Setting sail steaming mad, he notices something odd while stewing on the starboard side. A submarine has launched a torpedo at their boat. Rex quickly transforms into a Manganese Paravane (hell if I knew what that was) and destroys the missile.

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“Technically, if there were no time a paperclip would have been a logical choice.”

In the process, Metamorpho managed to also blow himself to bits. His limbs conveniently land on board the yacht. Speaking of opportune situations, there happens to be a lab below deck that Stagg uses to piece his monster back together. He better hurry, an attack plane has started spraying​ bullets at everyone topside. Returning in time to save the day, our hero smells something fishy. Accusing Cha-Cha​ of foul play,  it’s explained as a Mexican way of saying howdy. Nice excuse buddy. What’s next, your Chihuahua ate your homework?

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“OK Chavez enough malarkey…wait, that dog is friggin’ HUGE!”

 

Settling in at Cha-Cha’s mansion proves to be no picnic either. The source of his money is indeed based in criminal activity. He’s an arms dealer and angry rebels have stormed the compound. In a blaze of gunfire, they kidnap Simon Stagg and his lackey Java. Well, take a wild guess who has to go off and save everyone’s guacamole again. This time however, rather than transform into some wacky device, he rolls like a native. Hi-Ho Silver away! Bad ass to the max dude.

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” Sir…that cigar WILL BE AVENGED!”

The hostages have been put before a firing squad for their affiliation with Chavez. Simon, who in the beginning would have covered himself in chicken feathers for the man now renounces him to no avail. As the guns go off, Metamorpho rides in and turns his arm into what he calls an “iron mitt”. To me it looks like a giant ladle but I suppose that’s a tough feature to sell when marketing your powers. “What can you do?” they ask. “Me, I turn into an indestructible spoon!”. Yeah, iron mitt it is.

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“The DCU Ping Pong Champion of 1966”

The rebellion realizes they stand no chance versus a superhuman, so rather than fight they make their case to Metamorpho. They inform him that Cha-Cha Chavez is a dictator that goes by the name “El Lupo” and is one cutthroat bastard. The weapons he procures are used against his own countrymen. ‘Morpho is having none of that. Sapphire is still in the grubby grasp of that sinister señor. He rallies the troops and rides back to the hacienda only to discover Cha-Cha​ escaping via helicopter with his lady.

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“At that height, I think I’d just jump out of the damned thing.”

They’ve fled to the Capital where Metamorpho goes incognito mosquito in a nifty sombrero, following their tracks to a bull fight. The nation’s insurgents has taken to him, spray painting propaganda throughout the city in his name. Beats having your phone number scrawled in bathroom stall by comparison.

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“For a good time call Geoff Johns.”

After entering the arena, Metamorpho discovers that the bull has been fitted with a booby trap. The tip of it’s horns are actually bomb detonators. One tap and the stadium gets blown to smithereens. Well, say no more. This looks like a job for Meta-Matrador, Ole! Yeah, I just made that nickname up but I kind of dig it. The crowd, unaware of their lives being in danger are wowed by Meta-Matrador’s skills. He proceeds to reshape into various forms, avoiding a perilous poke. ‘Morpho snaps off the pesky prick, saving the lives of the onlookers but leaving the Bull with a case of antler envy.

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“Isn’t that illegal? Shouldn’t he get a yellow card or something?”

 

 

 

Defeated, Cha-Cha tries to make off with Sapphire. Java the caveman jumps to the rescue  but you just knew somebody was gonna get jabbed in the ass, or as I lovingly refer to it as a “toro tickled”. With Java down for the count, Metamorpho turns himself into gelatin glue and stops our bad guy in his tracks. That’s right, a scoundrel undone by a snack! Shouldn’t be surprised though as Jello sure did a number on Bill Cosby and Lindsay Lohan. Talk about getting yourself into sticky situations! Ahem…

“J-E-L-L-Oh hell NO!”

Full disclosure, I left a couple of plot points out of my recap. Why? I really want you to go check this out. It’s campy as you imagine but the book is crazier than a pinata filled with firecrackers. I love the ever livin’ crap out of it. Props to me for not fully spoiling a fifty one year old comic. Gotta take my pats on the back where I can get them people.

Here’s a novel idea. Some of you may be familiar with the Justice League Action cartoon. It’s actually pretty rad and my kid really enjoys it. Why not take some silver age yarns like this one and adapt them to animation? It can’t be faithfully reproduced as some of the subject matter isn’t suitable for kids these days but it’s the whole enchilada when it comes to silly entertainment. See that, I’m an idea man. Show me the dinero.

Pick this one up. It’s a classic.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. For the record, “El Lupo” has no meaning in Mexican Spanish, so feel free to toss that nugget around. Your Welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metamorpho #4 images rights of DC Comics. All other pictures and videos rights of their respective owners.

 

Adventures of Bayou Billy #1

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Video Game properties don’t seem to translate well to other media. Full disclosure, I’m the furthest thing from a “Gamer” but I say this only because there has never been a single movie based on a game I’ve found enjoyable. As a kid in the 80’s I was addicted to Nintendo. Hours were spent in the pursuit of defeating Kid Icarus, Metroid and other cartridges that needed a hearty blow of air to work. I can’t say I played much of Konami’s Bayou Billy.  What I do remember distinctly was owning this issue and it’s place among the magazines in the can. Hey to it’s credit, it beat out Readers Digest every time.

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If this was bathroom fodder when I was twelve years old, why the hell would I read it now? Because, despite the location, I remember actually enjoying it. I’m also a sucker for nostalgia. Can’t resist a good ‘ol whiff of the past.

Here are the aces at Archie who drained the swamp to bring us this 8-bit adventure.

Credited as R.P.M., the writer was Rich Margopoulos. He’s scripted for Warren Publishing on Vampirella and other horror comics. From what I can tell, Archie ran him ragged during this era, putting him to work on a myriad of titles. Rich also has Marvel and DC credits under his belt.

Amanda Conner is a fan favorite artist that started out as Bill Sienkiewicz’s assistant. She’s illustrated for a variety of publishers, Most notably at DC, for her work on the Power Girl and Harley Quinn books. Her illustrations have also been featured on television and film.

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A couple things that I have to let you know off the bat. Billy never wears shoes and EVERYONE speaks with  exclamation marks. I did a little research. This series only lasted five issues and unless someone’s asking a question, It’s nothing but shouting. Even the senior citizens are excited.

byb4.1“Sorry, left our Whisper 3000’s back in Joisey.”

What’s a typical morning in the life of a tough guy? How about some alligator wrestling, saving an elderly couple from a mugging topped off by some courtroom testimony, all before the syrup hits the hotcakes. Oh, that dude getting locked away has a flame thrower for an arm! Crap, all this action is making me shout. Never let it be said this story had a knack for dilly dallying.

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“That verdict was pretty quick but Juror #6 really had to piss.”

Billy also has the Cajun charm ladies find irresistible, putting the moves on assistant D.A. Annie. She barely has time to close her briefcase and he’s trying to schmooze his way into her briefs. He manages to get some lip action and leave her flustered. I imagine he must smell terrible but when you’re a perfect blend of Crocodile Dundee and Sex Panther, it’s just called musk.

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“Want to score babes and balance blades? Roll around in horse shit.”

After tongue wrestling with Billy, Annie receives a call instructing her to go to a pier at midnight if she wants the scoop on the local crime family known as the Gordon’s. Because nothing is safer than agreeing to meet a stranger in the middle of the night right? This woman has to start re-evaluating her life choices. As expected, two goons arrive on a boat and they have bad intentions. She’s skilled in karate though, kicking ass in heels saves her from cement galoshes. Using the boat as means for her escape, a stray bullet rips through the foggy night and grazes her​ face.

She ends up in the swamp. Disoriented and injured she discovers a large home among the wild. Salvation at last! Using the final bit of strength in her body to knock on the door, it’s answered by who else, a shirtless Bayou Billy. Some guys have all the luck huh? He was probably just chilling, watching Crocodile Hunter reruns and snacking on nails before a damsel in distress just fell into his arms. Sounds like a damn fine Wednesday night to me.

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“Hubba Bubba…and I’m not talking bubble gum.”

News gets back to the Gordon’s that Annie escaped and patriarch “Big Daddy” is none too pleased. The hit was ordered by his son Rock without his authorization. Annie wasn’t a big enough fish to fry and thanks to this ill advised decision they now have Billy and his team all riled up. Oh yes, I did say team. This guy has a cast of characters that are full on G.I. Joe knockoffs named Broadside, Sureshot and Tracker.

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“No worries, that gator has frequent flyer miles.”

Big Daddy has sent his gang , known as F.I.S.T., to the bog. This acronym is never explained but it must relate to the game. I’ll just think of it as Floppy Icicle Slum Trinkets. That work for you guys? Great, let’s move on. Billy had found a homing device in Annie’s boat, so he and his boys are ready for a battle. They setup booby traps that would make Kevin McCallister proud. Even with all the high jinks of swinging logs and other pitfalls, I’m most impressed with this action:

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“We shall defend this shower curtain to the death!”

While Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside take care of the scraps, there is a full on siege at Billy’s house. F.I.S.T. also has it’s share of colorful customers, presumably to mirror video game bosses. The monikers are fucking horrid. I keep thinking whoever made this up was a giggling stoner being fed some funky brownies. Mr. TNT, Kid Creole and Lighting Rod (see what I mean?) bring a full assault as Annie is scurried into a secret panel. Good God, she may just the most gullible lawyer…ever.

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“Damn girl, at least make him take you to McDonald’s first.”

The evildoers get their licks in but Billy just can’t be killed. Electric shocks and gunfire prove to be no match. But wait, scratch that. The guy avoids certain death only to get snagged in a choke hold by a baddie called “Cut Throat”. Is this the end for our resident mullet rocking macho ultra-male? Hell no. Thankfully, Annie realized a crawl space wasn’t for her and smacks Cut Throat over the head with a frying pan. Rather than give her props, Billy wonders when his team will arrive via “Billy-Mobile”. Yeah that’s right, dude’s got cars named after him. If your wading in the seas of cheese anyway, “Billy-Buggy” would have been the better option. C’mon now.

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“Hmm, not sure the garbage truck takes discarded super villians”

This pondering is all for naught as just when you think it’s time to make kissy face and roll credits a bomb falls in front of our leads. Say so long to Billy’s stately swamp estate. Now you gone and done it! Utterly enraged, our hero wrangles up the culprit responsible and threatens him with a venomous snake. What’s the point of that? He wants a signed confession of guilt for blowing up his pimp palace. Had Annie been a counselor worth a lick of salt, she may have wanted to mention the law about a signature under duress being invalid but whatever…why start being smart now.

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“Like exchange Christmas cards close?”

I have to be honest, I really wanted my sense of sentimentality to rule the day and like this issue. Didn’t happen. It’s just lousy. I can see why my adolescent self enjoyed it. No substance but the wall to wall warfare makes for an easy read. Every kid wants to be a reckless, wisecracking action hero. Just doesn’t hold up once…you know…a girl actually talks to you.

This goes straight to the garbage bin but oh the memories folks. They must be worth something. No? Had to try. On the bright side, Jughead has a massive case of the munchies and wants you to say no to drugs. Thanks Archie Comics, you may have considered taking your own advice before publishing this rag.

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David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

Images rights of Archie Comics

Justice League of America #70

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There’s just something about the Creeper I like. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the colors and offbeat costume or my affection for those on the B-List. What I can say for certain, there’s not too many great Creeper stories out there. I’ve enjoyed some of the original Ditko material but if someone were to ask me “what’s the greatest Creeper story ever told?”, I would reply it’s yet to be written.

When Justice League of America #70 (cover dated March 1969) landed on my desk, I was excited. Here it is, this could be the one! Not only is this book written by a legend in the field, just look at this cover. He toys with the League in all of his gaudy greatness.

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The answer sadly is… no. This is not the book that breaks the mold for the Creeper. All is not lost though as this is the debut of a character that will change the DC Universe forever! Are you excited for the big reveal? No? Understandable as who I’m about to introduce would be lucky to get a kazoo serenade. Ladies and Germs, this is the first appearance of… Mind Grabber Kid!

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“One thing is for sure, Dishpan hands need not apply”

Mind Grabber Kid gives the Creeper a run for his money in the tacky garments department but as we will come to find out, lacked the staying power. I’ll get more into that later. First, I mentioned a true luminary scripted this jazzy jaunt, so let’s talk the talents who put this together.

It was written by Denny O’Neil. Whew. I mean, c’mon. The man left classics at every turn of his career. His runs on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams are  considered some of the most iconic books of their era. He also edited a Daredevil run by some guy called Frank Miller. GREATNESS.

Art chores were handled by Dick Dillin and Sid Greene. Dillin started drawing for Quality Comics, most notably on the Blackhawk series. He later moved on to DC and spent 12 years as the penciller on Justice League. Greene inked for many publishers for over 30 years but his true claim to fame was helping to define the look of DC’s Silver Age characters.

As promised, back to Mind Grabber Kid. I’ll affectionately refer to him as “Grabby” even though, unlike others in a position of power, he sticks with brainwaves only. He’s hitting the scene for the first time and busts up a robbery right out of the gate. Not too shabby. The onlookers however aren’t as impressed with his heroics as they are with the exploits of the J.L.A. being broadcast on TV in a nearby shop.

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“We just got our asses kicked by…Forbush man???”

This fills Grabby with jealousy. So much so that when Shrek like Extra Terrestrials who love oven mitts send a transmission to Earth, he intercepts it with his mind and delivers a terrible reply. In a nutshell, he claims the League are just prick bastards that must be destroyed.

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“All of our controls are hot…VERY HOT!”

Where is the Justice League of America while all this is going down? They’re terribly bored actually. Watching a baseball game is a option but leave it to Batman keep their biscuits busy. Well, provided he doesn’t have to do any of the work himself.

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“Green Lantern speaks with his eyes and Batman’s getting the what’s up”

Investigate the Creeper it is then. Our mean yellow-green laughing machine is on a case of his own. He’s out to get the mob and finds out their next move is to rob an atomic power plant. Why? Honestly, we never find out but whatever it’s the groovy 60’s man. Pass the triple dipped white blotter and hop in the van, we have a wild three way to get to.

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“Even further below, at the Earth’s core, nothing happens… but I had to keep it going”

The Creeper acts first, beating up mobsters with ease but the Atom jumps in and pulls a shit for brains move. Distracted, the Creeper gets K.O.’ed and Atom socks the bad guy. That’s all the proof the aliens needed that the JLA are bad for business. Screwed up sense of reasoning there but any excuse to don a Meta-Cap makes it worthwhile.

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“Don’t forget your jackets! It’s chilly out there”

So what the heck is a meta-cap you say? Pretty dope gadgets actually. They can mimic and counteract the League’s powers. Disposing of them one by one, the aliens encounter a serious problem: Superman’s abilities. There’s just too much to try and imitate. I was actually surprised by the “super-suction”. I can only imagine when that comes in handy.

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“Jeez G.L., that sucks..err..blows..umm…”

Don’t forget about our little buddy Mind Grabber Kid. He’s just kicking it at home and hears a news report on the radio about the ruckus. Time to throw the long johns back on baby! It’s also fairly rad that he could care less what his parents think. They just assume he’s taking part in a school play…or sniffing glue.

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“Could have something to do with that Kooky crack pipe”

By the time Grabby arrives at the scene, the aliens had used some atomic junk to simulate a red sun, neutralizing Superman. These guys are legit! Oh wait, one problem. The Creeper registers as a normal human to all of their instruments and when it comes to fisticuffs, those oven mitts don’t cut the mustard.

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“Yeah you have something in common, your both color blind ya knucklehead”

The Mobsters prove to be the dumbest criminals alive. Rather than taking the opportunity to high tail it out of there, they see this as a chance to whack the League. Grabby realizes his spite was misguided and it’s up to him to save the League. Using his telekinesis, he pulls Superman’s hand away from the red sun’s rays.

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“Wurg? Must be the sound one makes while crapping their pants”

Superman bounces back and takes down the overzealous law breakers. He then plays the role of sneaky weasel and tells the Creeper to scoot. Grabby apologizes for lying to an entire race. Oddly, they just say whatevs and hit the road. Mind Grabber Kid learned a lesson on humility, finding inspiration in the Creeper. This kind of annoyed me. The whole book, Grabby keeps stating he is a regular Joe. The dude has some serious powers and is lucky he didn’t get his ass meta-capped into next week. Quite the whiny little bastard if you ask me. We end with everyone happy and the action wrapped up in time to finish watching the ball game.

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“Nobody says liar, liar, pant’s on fire in outer space”

The word I would choose to sum this story up is goofy. That’s not a bad thing. It was so zany however, I was kinda expecting Brother Power the Geek to pop up out of nowhere. This is where it gets his entertainment value from as it’s truly a campy outing. Let’s not forget this dandy dropped in 1969, so the narrative was loyal to the whimsical comics kids enjoyed.

Earlier, I touched upon how this was not a Creeper classic and Mind Grabber Kid’s inability to go mainstream. They both still have merits. For the Creeper, his quality as an anti-hero is on full display. In many ways, he could be perceived as a Joker/Spider-Man amalgam. A misunderstood hero who cracks wise and opts to maniacally laugh when faced with danger. What’s not to love about a wildcard who’s intentions can be difficult to navigate as a tightrope.

Grabby…oh Grabby. At the conclusion of this issue, readers are urged to write in asking for his return. America’s youngsters must have forgotten to lick the stamps as he wasn’t seen again until 1992. Leave it to Grant Morrison to dust him off as “Mind Grabber Man” during his Seven Soldiers project roughly 12 years ago but to love him entitles you crazy cat lady status in comic book fandom.

Not the best story to ever see print, it still has a little bit of something for everybody and is worthy of your attention. Dig in on some early Denny O’Neill and enjoy the trip.

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David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Images rights of DC Comics

 

The Savage Sub Mariner #72

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“Just use that cinnamon bun you call a fist to call somebody who cares”

So here’s the scoop, I’m a massive Swamp Thing fan. For my money, all other monsters pale in comparison. Anytime a cruddy creature pops up in a comic with “Thing” as part of it’s moniker it piques my interest. As far as the titular character, other than John Byrne’s take in the early 90’s, Namor has never made waves for me. But the moment I saw the cover for this one, It became a must read. This is also the last issue of the series so I had a feeling the ankle wings were free to fly and some wackiness may be in store.

Before we get started on the story, here are the fine folks who fished this out of their imaginations.

Out of college, writer Steve Skeates started his career as Stan Lee’s assistant performing proof reading duties. It was quickly discovered that editing wasn’t his forte and he began writing for Marvel and every publisher in the industry. Working in multiple genres, he’s had notable runs on Aquaman, Plastic Man and is the co-creator of Hawk and Dove.

Artist Dan Adkins worked primarily in advertising prior to comics. In the 60’s he joined the Wally Wood studio and later landed inking and penciling jobs for a slew of companies. In the 2000’s he illustrated products for Parker Brothers.

Without further ado, it’s time to slap on your bikini and take a dip into The Savage Sub Mariner #72 “From the Void It Came”! Cover dated September 1974.

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We surface dwellers are a bunch of a-holes. It’s true, just ask Namor. He’s swimming through our rubbish and hating on humans. It’s like a PSA reminding people that carelessly throwing a sneaker away really ruins one’s day. Well, in all fairness Namor is already pissed about the annihilation of Atlantis that occurred in a previous issue so a spare tire is just the skin on poo poo pudding.

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“Hey, quit bitching and pick that crap up!”

Let’s travel back in time. Two years according to the writer. As we will come to find out, he likes adding arbitrary details into the plot. An alien life form that looks like space snot floats into a satellite. In the next panel a mysterious hand discovers a destruct button he seemed to misplace. It’s clearly labeled but I suppose working around doohickeys takes it’s toll and the boom key starts to resemble the on switch for the television. The satellite explodes and the galactic goo goes for a ride.

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“The brochure says Cacophonous Caverns is quite the vacation destinat…KABLOOIE”

The debris plummets into the ocean. Settling at the bottom of the sea the booger from beyond admires the aquatic life and decides to form a body. It takes the entirety of those aforementioned two years but it’s successful in creating a humanoid form. This got me thinking. As far as we know it’s never seen a person but has a hard on for fish. So why would it have our characteristics? I would’ve paid to been part of the design meeting. For the headset alone. Yes, this thing decided to use some wreckage as a fashion statement and it’s friggin’ glorious. It’s actually referred to as a “wild party hat”. That’s my kind of shindig! Check it out:

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“RISE and enjoy he splendors of AM/FM radio!”

Cut back to our sulking Sub Mariner pondering his disdain for humans on a dock. There, he’s spotted by two dudes, one of whom happens to hate hybrid species and doesn’t want any “fish men” hanging around. Our next PSA is about prejudice brought to you by Adolph Hitler. No joke. This is a final issue so I understand the impulse to say “fuck it” but quoting the most despised despot from the 20th century is more than a little odd. Anywhoos, the main goon named Bruce goes all Chuck Norris and sucker kicks Subby. Apparently this guy also can’t stand buttons.

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“Pop collar kick! Heeyaa!!”

 I’m going to refer to the mysterious membrane as Slime Thing now as touted on the cover considering he’s rocking extremities and I’ve run out of funny phlegm references. Slimey has been watching the hostilities from the water like a creepy ex in your bushes waiting to witness tubby time. His first impression of our species won’t be favorable as Namor socks Bruce in the kisser, killing him. Bruce’s boy toy by the bay proceeds to tackle the Sub Mariner causing everyone to fall into the sea. Subby comes face to face with Slime Thing and the pal in polyester swims after Bruce’s lifeless body.

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“The Sub Mariner has a psychiatrist for a narrator”

When encountering a monster in the murky depths your first instinct is to punch the hell out of it right? That’s all fine and dandy for some superhero sluggery but I would be inclined to warn him that electronics and H2O are a bad combo. Sure it looks rad to have all that gear on your dome but toasters would make horrible galoshes y’know.

nmr12.1“Well, there goes the neighborhood…er…reef”

 Namor isn’t the advice giving kinda guy like yours truly so they proceed to pound the ever livin’ porpoise out of each other. We do get a nifty little tidbit during the throw down though. Did you know 62% of explosions in fictional orbits are caused by shrouded figures in the Motor City? Me neither, considering I just pulled that stat out of my ass. For no reason whatsoever we are told that was the detonators location. So be weary of the digits in Detroit, they are capable of dastardly deeds!

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“Meanwhile, a hand in Vancouver picks lint from a navel”

Slime Thing emanates flashes from his eyes that blind Namor, yet he continues to fight. This show of will and determination is shocking to his gunky opponent who basically decides “Screw this, I’m out!”. So while Namor has him in an awkward hug, he blows his own head off. Pop goes the weasel baby, ditching one of my favorite looks in the history of comics. Fear not, he didn’t commit suicide but rather reverted to his original form and made course for wherever he originally came from. While traveling through the sky, it proves to be loving ooze, using it’s power again, resurrecting Bruce from the dead. More Like a kid who got his tonsils out compared to someone who just received a new lease on life, Bruce thinks reading a wrestling magazine is the best way to celebrate. Way to go Duchey McDingle.

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“The most unintentionally erotic page of 1974”

Namor is all bent out of shape now he’s been robbed of his vision and realizes if only he tried to understand the creature​ instead of treating it like a soggy pinata he would still be able to wax his own eyebrows. Possibly feeling guilty, the alien flashes again as it passes through our solar system and restores the sight he had stolen. Lesson learned just in time for the end of the run.

I loved this book. Seriously. I will buy every copy I come across in the wild. Is the story THAT good? Nope. The art is pretty iffy and if it wasn’t for the inks by the legendary Vince Colletta, this may have been a tough read.  It’s just so zany, I can’t help but dig the crap out of it. I also have a radical idea.

Marvel should totally bring Slime Thing back. I firmly believe the concept and character is more interesting than Man-Thing. Yeah, I said it. Manny is so damn boring, I would prefer Slime Thing with his crown of circuits any day of the week. Take your stupid elephant trunk and dull continuity elsewhere.

This was his only appearance. One and done. How nobody thought a shape shifting alien with untapped abilities and shitty fashion sense was usable all these years is beyond me. He’s been collecting dust for 43 years. Couldn’t he at least have been tossed in somewhere as cannon fodder or even a punchline? Shame really, I find him quite fun. If anyone at the House of Ideas reads this, call me. I have some great ideas for my new BFF.

To my fellow prowlers of the back issue bins, reel in a copy of this for your collections. If for nothing else than the awesome cover that has zero to do with the actual plot of the book or if you want to get hooked on some classic Namor.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Brave and the Bold #137

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Just about every comic book fan has heard of DC’s Brave and the Bold. The first volume  ran for 28 years and 200 issues. Thanks to the popularity of his TV series the title exclusively featured Batman team ups with #74 and struck a chord with fans. Other versions have come and gone since the original run ended in ’83 but it also inspired a successful animated series that aired from 2008-2011. So it may be fair to assume you have a favorite story that stemmed from the series.

Could it be the one where fighting  sorcerers gave Jason Blood a hankering for Chinese food? Didn’t think so. How about the time Batman was bested by a bottle. Must have slipped through the cracks. No worries, I’m here to fill you in on this mess known as Brave and the Bold 137 “House of the Serpent” starring Batman and the Demon. Cover dated October 1977.

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Before I tell you about the creative team on this book, I need you to feel my pain. Some of these older stories just plum stink. The talents behind them however have resumes that could make you blush. No exception here. So while I enjoy finding the humor in clunkers and wonder “what the hell were they thinking?”, I respect the work put into a book. Before you say I’m just a punk, keep that in mind.

The writer was Bob Haney. A WWII veteran that co-created DC’s Teen Titans, Metamorpho, the Enchantress and Eclipso among others. So yeah, tip your cap.

John Calnan handled the art chores. John started his career doing Westerns and created Lucius Fox with Len Wein. He worked as an art director in advertising and a Television producer for agencies calling comics “work on the side”.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Welcome to Gotham’s Chinatown. The streets are empty sans one-man. Who would take a leisurely stroll through this part of the city at this hour? Batman is who and he’s strutting down the sidewalk like he owns the joint because nobody does a foot patrol better than the Dark Knight. Cue lightning…or just a creepy lantern.

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“Did you wander around aimlessly then as well?”

I’m going to get this out of the way, the Batmobile never appeared in this issue. Oddly he never references or uses it once despite the need to travel across town. I’ll get more into that later on but for now I’ll just assume he’s trying to log miles on his Fitbit.

In the count your blessings department: If ever tossed out of a building, consider yourself a lottery winner when Batty just happens to be outside and saves you with an awning. This guy just avoided a broken neck and for the dudes that chucked him, you not only have the worst luck in the history of mankind, but Batman is going to pound your last brain cell out of your earhole. Next time, look before you litter! Dummies.

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“Always give complimentary sack shots after a save.”

Turns out the place is a gambling den operated by a flock of teenagers called the “Dragon Gang”. They should find whoever came up with that name and introduce them to an unlocked window pronto.

Batman displays his incredible fighting prowess. Naw, just kidding. He flexes his ass cheeks, touts his suits deflection ability then gets knocked out with an empty bottle. Should’ve stayed downstairs there hotshot. I suppose using a thug to demonstrate your baseball swing earns points BUT only if you call your shot first.

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“For my next amazing feat, I will…OUCH!”

Jim Gordon and the police arrive. It’s revealed these hooligans are looking to take over the local turf. Rather than bring that empty bottle of MD 20/20 to the cave for display next to the giant penny, he vows to protect Chinese New Year. Yes, he swore an oath to a holiday. Batman is better than all of us.

He is back hoofing it on the sidewalk and just happens to bump into Jason Blood and his fiance who just finished grubbing on duck. After hearing Bats account of what went down with the Dragons, he decides it’s best if his alter ego, The Demon, joins the case. Telling his babe to mind her own beeswax, they’re off to pound some pavement and delinquent derriere.

bb1375.1“And a misogynistic asshole problem.”

Thanks to some random dude shouting “Batman come quickly!!” they are led to what looks to be a relic shop. There they find an old man dead with a petrified look on his face. Batman takes a quick look and determines that this was a natural death. Hold on there Mr.Worlds Greatest Detective, a woman comes busting out the back screaming. She claims the deceased was frightened by the evil wizard Shahn-Zi and she’s got some soggy weeds in her hand to prove it! This is no run of the mill sticky icky. Batman knows his greens. This only comes from one place in the world, China’s Yellow River and is the calling card for none other than, you guessed it, Shahn-Zi! He’s got the good stuff baby.

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“Or maybe this issue bored him to death?”

After filling Blood in on Shahn-Zi’s backstory, it’s decided that they will split up and comb Chinatown for the sorcerer. You take the mysterious fog on the right, I’ll take the alley shrouded in darkness. Can I get a chest bump? Go Team!

The Foggy route was the short end of the stick as Jason Blood immediately runs into the Z-man and gets his Brundlefly on. No fisticuffs, just a quick incantation that makes him bug out.

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“When transforming into an insect, pants are optional.”

On a nearby rooftop the Caped Crusader also finds Shahn-Zi but by simply wielding a knife, it’s a tip off that this is an imposter. It’s actually the leader of the dragons, Willy Chang. He’s still into hurling humans from heights but Batman gives him some sweet chin music and avoids becoming a gravel cake.

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“No truer words have ever been spoken.”

Blood retained his thoughts despite being in fly form. He’s lost the ability to speak but has an idea. If he can write out the incantation to summon the Demon on a scummy window pane, maybe just maybe, it will have the same effect .He does just that and wouldn’t you know it, the spell is broken. Astral energy starts flying… along with fish hooks. I guess when your power is magical you just summon up the most random shit that comes to mind.

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“Kinda kinky if you ask me.”

Shahn-zi whips out a door of illusion and hightails out of the fray. Again with the spur of the moment magic malarkey. Batman had hauled Willy down to the Police Station. Only thing that did though was make Jim Gordon all sweaty. So despite having him on charges of attempted murder and impersonating a Warlock (The latter should be a crime, write your congressman people.) he is set free. Batty uses this as a perfect opportunity to follow him back to his lair. He prowls the rooftops and even rides atop a gondola while in pursuit.

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“Never on Sundays Willy…Na Na a boo boo”

Shahn-Zi is waiting at the hideout, presumably pissed someone is running round in a knock off of his knickers. Willy goes after him with his blade. When is this friggin’ guy going to cut it out with the knife stuff? The answer is the next panel as he is tripped and stabs himself in the chest. The remaining Dragons are in shock  and we get the greatest statement ever said in unison.

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“Seriously, that had to be planned.”

Batman goes all gung ho after Shahn-Zi  but the teaser from the cover finally occurs. He is quickly transformed into a real Bat. Like Jason Blood, he keeps the ability to think but has a hankering for jugular juice. Meanwhile, the Demon is enjoying a siesta in the sewer. He has a little telepathic chat with Merlin who instructs him on how to defeat a fellow practitioner of hoodoo.

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“Looks pretty damn comfy to me.”

Shahn-Zi told Batman that his change becomes permanent at midnight. Why is it never 11:45. Has to be stroke of 12 every damn time. Anyways, our hero starts flying around in absolute panic. The New Year celebration has begun with a parade. The Dragons are concealed within a large paper snake that’s part of the procession. They are completely under the control of Shahn who, in fact, is the paper snake. You ready to try some of that Yellow River weed yet? Puff puff pass, enter the Demon and some serious fists of fury.

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“So that’s where Erik Larsen got the idea from!”

The trick Merlin passed along to the Demon while in Gotham’s turd tunnels was Mongoose beats Snake. All of that ancient wisdom could have been had watching  15 minutes worth of Animal Planet. Naturally, the Demon morphs into a little fur ball and defeats Shahn-Zi with a good old bite to the neck. The baddie dissipates into the air and we are free from his lousy super villainy for now.

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“Do I have a mongoose in my pocket or is that snake just happy to see me?”

So what of our boy Batman? He was flapping around trying to attack innocent bystanders. Karma is great. Just as he saved the guy at the start of the story, Demon’s victory chomp occurred as the clock ticked to the witching hour. He proved to be of no use in saving the day but screw it, let’s have some soup!

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“That doesn’t sound even remotely appetizing wiseguy”

This issue was nothing short of terrible. I’ve read a fair amount of junk in my day and this was up there. It contained moments that were racist towards Asian people and the argument that it was released during a different era has no merit, this is trash.

Story is boring, Art is flimsy and there’s no substance or fun to be had. I would use the term “cover to cover crapfest” to relate the pure loathing I feel for this but the cover was the one thing I did enjoy. Colorful and inviting, if nothing more than to sucker a kid into buying this off the rack.

So what would compel one to own this book? A Brave and the Bold completist perhaps? Other than that, issue #137 meet my furnace.

Well, this mag was a complete bust but I’m a silver lining type of person, 1977 was a great year to get crabs. I’m serious…

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David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

Thor #391

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Confession time, I don’t like Thor. In comics or in the films, I’ve never been a fan. I’ll even go as far to say he’s one of my least favorite Marvel characters period. I picked up some random issues as a kid because it beat doing my homework while waiting for the bus but I just can’t get into a character that rocks a silver salad bowl on his head.

So, imagine my surprise as the first Thor Ragnarok trailer dropped and my jaw followed suit. It doesn’t hurt they are adapting bits of Planet Hulk in the flick but still, this is the first time the God of Thunder moved the needle for me. so to celebrate this shocking situation, I’ve decided to give Goldilocks a second chance. Join me as I recap Thor #391 “The Madness of Mongoose” cover dated May 1988.

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“Just don’t call him during dinner.”

I suppose it’s fitting that this book has Spidey as a guest star considering how I jazzed I am for ‘ol Jade Jaws in Ragnarok. But as the arrow on the cover says, “It had to happen” so who am I to argue with the blurb department. Coincidence can go screw.

Before we get fitted for tiger striped boots, it’s a Two Staple Gold tradition to give credit to the creative team that made steel beam battles big in ’88, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. These dudes are legends in the biz. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but if your not aware of these gents, minimize this screen and get over to Google for an education.

Our story opens with Spider-Man swinging over the streets of Manhattan in a snowstorm. Typical stuff except this time either he’s eager to get mounted by M.J. or he likes to wear bikinis. Hope Aunt May never discovers the latter.

thor3912.2“Your secret is safe with me Pete.”

Meanwhile, in a secluded hotel room our villain gives us the standard “spewing his evil intentions” routine. He’s in some serious need of dental work but I guess it fits with the whole feasting on living flesh thing. I get it, a Mongoose has fangs but dang, he must floss with jumper cables.

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“Hey buddy, can a Cellsmograph target a dentist?”

We finally get to the star of the book, Thor. He’s returned to Earth in his Siguard Jarlson guise. This look may only be second to Clark Kent in the shameful secret identity department. Seriously, he just threw some glasses on. Snappy as they may be, you would think he might have opted to go more incognito mosquito. He could just wear a cap that reads “I’m not Thor” to the same effect.

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“That’s more like it.”

Asgard’s favorite son is happy to mix with the locals but discovers the apartment he was renting had been demolished in his absence. Baby, It’s cold outside and where will he rest that glorious head of hair? Looks like our hero needs a jobby job.

Luckily for Odinson, he has a buddy eager to hire a 6’6″ Norse God to work construction. This issue is significant to hard core Thor followers as the introduction of Eric Masterson, who later becomes fan favorite Thunderstrike. That’s all fine and dandy but for my money, It’s the debut of Aloysius R. Jamesly. One happening cat who emotes like a champ. Unlike Masterson he was never given a hammer. Probably would have dropped it on his foot while soliloquizing.

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“Did loudmouth here bring the donuts?”

No sooner than Sig starts his new gig, the Mongoose pops out ready to rumble. The battle is on! Well, that is until Thor gets his ass promptly knocked off the roof. He’s without Mjolner. I thought he could summon that thing at will but maybe there was some jealousy at play. Replace me with a nail gun? Enjoy the flight…jerk.

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“Just whip that ponytail around like propeller big guy”

Fret not, Spidey wasn’t just zipping around the city in tight pajamas for nothing. Timing tends to be perfect in comics and is no exception here as Web Head swoops in to save Thor’s giblets. He still has ladies swimwear on the brain though, failing to recognize the large dude he just saved who looks EXACTLY like his buddy Thor is the genuine article. He also forgets that he has faced Mongoose before but he doesn’t have the benefit of editors notes like we do. Mulligan granted, thanks Ralf.

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“That bag has a dope hair cut”

Thor grabs his trusty mallet from his duffle bag that doubles as a bean bag chair and is back to form as a dashing deity. Both brave warriors join forces to kick some bad guy booty and all is going according to superhero 101 until the hammer gets laid down…on the 34th floor. Smooth move Blondie. Should’ve kept the glasses, they made you LOOK smarter at least.

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“The only thing that blows is your decision making”

I already noted our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man has been flakey thus far. It gets much worse. First, he believes that wrapping your legs around a bad guy smothering him with your noodle nest is the best course of action. Next time you need a Mohel just check the yellow pages Parker.

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“Or just put some razor sharp chompers in your crotch”

Then, after Mongoose damages the foundation and flees the scene, Spider-Man would rather haul ass than help Thor hold the building up. I thought that was his forte. Instead we get, “Saving lives is for suckers! Been there done that…Uncle Who? I’m Skedaddle Man!”

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“I left the Refrigerator running, gotta bounce!”

The Wall Crawler sticks around, erecting girders to reinforce the collapsing structure. Pretty easy solution honestly. Everyone is saved, Thor rushes Eric Masterson to the local hospital and Spidey’s pissed he lost out on a day’s pay.

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“J.J.J. would’ve paid extra for those pics of you wussing out”

 

Down to the nitty gritty, I actually enjoyed this issue. Only took about 29 years for me to warm up to it. My inner child is frowning somewhere but it’s actually, dare I say, a fun read.

Should I give this run another chance? Absolutely. DeFalco and Frenz sure know how to put together a good old fashioned adventure. Am I even the slightest bit more interested in Thor? Not one iota. Sorry, it will take a whole lot more than this to get me skipping across the Rainbow bridge whistling dixie.

Sometimes you need a comic to escape your worries or reality for a while. Nothing too deep or thought provoking. It’s a much healthier alternative than cocaine and hookers. Or so I’ve heard. Give this one a shot.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. To harass him on Twitter follow @lavahog

BONUS: Impress your friends with Aloysius R. Jamesly TRIVIA! Christopher Priest believes he was the inspiration behind the character: “After I left staff, there were issues of THOR that featured a guy named a Aloysuis P. Jamesly, who was blatantly and litigiously me. A mean-spirited Tuckerization that, even I have to admit, was really funny in an insider kind of way. Fans might not find Jamesly that funny, but it was a wicked rip at me, and largely deserved, so I didn’t make a big deal about it.”

Quote from Marvel Wikia

All Thor images are rights of Marvel Comics.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. 1 #3

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A LOOK BACK AT THE WONDERS THAT ONCE OCCUPIED THE SPINNER RACKS

Comic Book companies have always been keen on publishing anything to keep up with fads and tie-ins with toy lines. Here, The House of Ideas had the best of both worlds. Marvel was mocked for this more notably than anyone back in the day due in large part to books like the one I’m about to write about, U.S.1 Issue #3.

Apparently, trucking made a pit stop in popular culture back in the 80’s. Enough so that toy manufacturer Tyco had a “U.S. 1  Electric Racing Set” to perfectly pair with a licensed comic. I must have missed the hoopla as a kid although I was hip enough with the times to rock a painters cap.

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“Sure beats tinfoil to keep the voices away and ladies at bay”

Before I get into this wreck of a comic, let me get you up to speed on America’s  fascination with asphalt. Films like Smokey and the Bandit, Coast to Coast, and Convoy among others, prompted viewers to imagine free spirited life on the open road. I mean, I get it. I couldn’t tell you how may times I’ve wanted to trade in my troubles for a Trans-Am with Dom DeLuise riding shotgun. But, I suppose, like any far fetched fantasy it’s more than what it’s cracked up to be. Hell, it lead Robert Blake, star of  the aforementioned Coast to Coast, to the sauce….and ahem, murder.

U.S.1 has made the rounds as a property to point a finger and enjoy a good chuckle at over the years. What may surprise you is, the book lasted twelve issues. Oh yes, a story about a trucker with a cybernetic brain, “C.B.” for short, had enough gas to survive an entire year. I can’t say if it was cancelled in ’84 because trucking gave way to Karate Kid, the toy was made with lead paint or Marvel discovered it’s dignity. I’ll take my chances and blame Ralph Macchio for this one.

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“These are the cold eyes of a genre killer! Aww shit, he’s got sunglasses on.”

Now that I’ve examined the nations desire to hop into a flat bed with an industry associated with gnarly beards and overalls, let’s hit the road with U.S.1 #3 “Rhyme of the Ancient Highwayman”!

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“The Waze app really porked me this time”

The cover is actually pretty cool and implies a serious adventure awaits the reader. A big rig skidding off a molten cliff in Hades! But forget that, focus on the corner box. The image of our titular character looking more like a hitch hiker that lost a contact lens is the true indicator on what to expect here.

This book was written by comic legend Al Milgrom. There’s rarely a long box out there without some form of his work in it. I can only chalk up his involvement with this as “just a gig” or blackmail inspired his decision to jump aboard.

The pencils were handled by accomplished artist Frank Springer. This guy did it all. A veteran who drew “pictures, charts…that sort of thing” for the Army in the 50’s, his career spanned decades. Working in comics, animation and newspaper strips. Like Milgrom, you can only assume the electricity bill was due, so U.S. 1 it is.

We open with our hero Ulysses S. Archer, aka U.S. of A ( go grab a flag and a cold one, I’ll wait…)  barreling through hell in his tractor trailer pursued by the heinous Highwayman. Hey, the story is like the cover after all, groovy! Nope. This only lasted for the first page as appearing out of nowhere is a woman wielding a “Hypno-Whip”. She proceeds to beat the ever living snot out of him, to the extent his brain gets exposed. No better time to introduce newcomers to what makes him so damned special, that C.B. skull. The narration box gets a little randy here and made me question if this script is safe for work.

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“Louder, Harder, Throbbing…gotta get me one of those Hypno-Whips!”

This whole scenario proves to be a wet dream disguised as a nightmare. I had planned on skipping ahead in the plot but something made me take pause. How 80’s action hero is it to sleep with your headband on? It’s equally grody as throughout the issue he NEVER takes it off. Hey buddy, no shirt, no shoes, no service..wait…that headband is proof you can kill a man with your bare hands. C’mon in!

It’s also worth mentioning, if you are a first time reader of this title like I was, it’s fair to wonder who the stogie chomper is at his bedside, tossing bad Eskimo puns around. Even worse, who the heck is he calling “Wideload”? Seems dickish but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

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“The gun show is open 24/7 baby”

Nothing cures rattled nerves better than caffeine, so U.S. decides to get a cup of coffee at a diner that also serves as his base of operations named the Short Stop. Because his problems are more important than you enjoying a breakfast omelette, he loudly recalls his origin for all the customers to hear. The Highwayman caused the crash that crushed his melon and is responsible for the disappearance of his brother Jeff, which was a given as he couldn’t be bothered to wear a bandana.

An old man in a booth decides to get his Large Marge on, piping in that he knew a tale of how the Highwayman came to be. In the early days of hauling, there was a man who could “drive long and hard with the best of ’em”. Yeah, let’s revisit that safe for work thing.

No one can escape Father Time and this wagoner had whippersnappers hot on his tracks. Unlike most people with performance issues he opted to skip Canadian mail order supplements and look for a solution within the dark arts.

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“Dude…I don’t even wear pants”

Spurned by every creep with a candelabra, he finally finds a willing trade partner. A demon grants his request for the small asking price of his soul AND spending eternity in  servitude snagging spirits on the Interstate. Good deal dingus!

The stranger displays some giddy up by finishing his yarn and bolting out the door. U.S. stands stunned then makes chase, but finds he was pretty spry for an old guy and is long gone. Returning to his java, our hero pines to hear more and wishes aloud (thought balloons need not apply) to hear more about the Highwayman.

Hopefully someone has been oiling the hinges because the door swings open again and someone proclaims “Why not hire a private detective?”. At the entrance stands a living embodiment of a Bad News Bears bowl cut named Retread. He’s new on the scene and remember the whole Wideload thing from earlier? It’s introduction time!

Here comes some marvelous monikers! The owner of the diner is Ed “Poppa Wheelie” Wheeler, his wife is Wideload Annie and it sucks to be the waitress as her name is Mary McGrill. That must be Scottish for living off tips.

Retread explains he once worked for a P.I. firm but completely sucked at his job. This is all U.S. needs to hear and a sidekick is born. They hit the road in his based on a toy signature Semi.

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“Whats your name sweetheart…Lot Lizard?”

Despite only meeting U.S. nine panels ago, Retread is the only character allowed private thoughts by the writer. Good thing as he’s man crushing on his new best bud. He aspires to be like U.S. and believes “this is the beginning of a long lasting friendship” Good god, I can’t wait until this guy bites it.

They quickly come upon a convoy led by a Mack in Black… The Highwayman! Put on your Yee-Haw helmets and leave caution on the curb, here comes the action. Gunfire, twisted metal and Blimps dropping bombs. That’s right, a blimp. don’t believe me? The radar scope never lies.

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“Too bad this thing doesn’t have a logic lever”

They fake their own demise with the aid of a smokescreen. A plan is devised to sneak up on the goons who are just chilling in a canyon. Don’t ask me, I didn’t write it. While surveilling the situation, U.S. notices the man from the diner standing in the middle of the crowd. Sweet baby biscuits! Even though they are standing around like brain dead baboons, they must want to kill the old bastard for sharing the secret of the Highwayman! Who needs a private eye with those dazzling deduction skills?

Retread is given a flare gun and told to create diversion once U.S. takes the low ground. This numbskull with something flammable? Sweet, he’s finally going to blow his own ass up! Well, not quite. He does manage to play the role of clumsy cohort tumbling down the ridge but only burns his britches. Worse part is those warm wranglers also prevent him from getting whacked.

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“Witness the invention of FLARE-FU”

Outnumbered, U.S. pulls his “Lucky Silver Dollar” out of his pocket. This is no common currency. It serves as a remote for his 18 wheeler and sends it speeding into the brawl making everyone scatter. Here’s what bugs the ever living crap out of me. Recall that snappy C.B. cerebrum he has? WHAT DOES IT DO? The guy has every doohickey you can think of in his cab but why can’t he just use that circuit board attached to his noggin? What’s that you say? Ahh yes, it’s there for sound effects while he gets punched. Makes all the sense in the world now.

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“Let’s see what sound effect his chin makes…OOPS!”

There is a tug of war for the old man and faster than you can say ZOINKS, his wrinkled skin peels off to reveal he is the Highwayman. Surprise, surprise. U.S. is left holding some geriatric goop and the reader is promptly opening a garbage can.

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“If the Highwayman had a headband his face wouldn’t have peeled off. Just saying.”

Back to reality. This was a banal turd. I’m not going to leave you empty handed though, that’s not the type of guy I am. Get ready for a take hotter than Retreads tighty whities.

They need to relaunch this series.

Before you pump the breaks on me here, no… I’m not hopped up on glue. This concept was so utterly ridiculous, imagine a writer like Garth Ennis in the drivers seat. He could flesh out that supporting cast and navigate it into so many wild directions. It would be balls out fun. Not your cup of nitrous? Alright here’s another one for you. How about Jason Aaron and some of his Southern Bastards grit taking a ride on the rumble strips. Admit it, that would be fucking amazing. If you’ve read comics for as many years as I have, you realize anything can work with the right creative team.

Marvel should be all over this. They love to roll out #1’s on covers. So much so, they even slapped them on just to announce the beginning of a new story arc. Now you have a title that ALWAYS has a one front and center. Makes it easier to trick the kids into believing they have a collectors item.

So while I recommend avoiding the original series like the plague, I urge you to petition Marvel for a revival. Tyco can bring it’s little toy too.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. To harass him on Twitter follow @lavahog

All U.S.1 images are rights of Marvel. All others images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. No Junk Buzzards were harmed during the writing of this column.

Special Thanks to my friend Jeromy Gordon for the editing assist and reminding me Johnny from Cobra Kai ripped off U.S.’s look. Eat shit Macchio.

5

In Defense of Action Comics #565

Sticky

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I’m going to start with a shameless plug for my show as this, after all is America. On my podcast I’m often referred to as the “Comics Curmudgeon”. Why? I like to think I’m soft, cuddly and ooze positive vibes but when it comes to reviews, I do tend to hand out more clown shoes than crowns. So, it’s a moniker I begrudgingly accept.

On our most recent episode we reviewed the long forgotten Action Comics #565 from DC. Cover dated March 1985. This issue got me giddy (remember, this is a rarity) while my co-host would rather have her eyeballs gouged out of her skull than read it ever again. I think some stories truly fit the old adage “It’s so bad it’s good” and deserve some respect. I intend to make my case to you, the fine folk reading this back issue review…eventually.

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“Ambush Bug is poised to please, off to a good start!”

Action Comics is a Superman title, but this book has the added benefit of an Ambush Bug back up tale. So we are graced with a Keith Giffen rendition of DC’s Trinity with A.B. rocking some vaudevillian garb. Not sure if it’s to imply the humorous nature of the character or to distract us from Batman’s seemingly sentient cape. I love Giffen’s style as much as the next guy but I can’t imagine where that idea came from.

The main story is entitled “The Wizard City Warrior”, written by Mort Todd with art by Kurt Schaffenberger. Throughout this review we will be weaving in and out of some serious cheese, so it’s a little unexpected how accomplished both these creators are.

We’ll start with Schaffenberger who lent his artistic talents to many DC golden and silver aged titles including “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane” and worked for the company for 30 years. Briefly leaving after organizing protests over treatment of artists by the publisher. That my friends is some serious badassery. People recall the Image founders fighting for their right to party but talents like Schaffenberger were demanding better working conditions when rocking a pair of nipple high Hounds Tooth was the cat’s meow.

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“I said HIGHER WAGES not high hem you bastards!” 

Mort Todd has written for all the big boys, was the EIC of Cracked Magazine in the 80’s, launched the Marvel Music line, has worked in Film, Television and owns media companies ComicFix and Station A. I can only assume the man sleeps with is eyes open as his resume is more jam packed than Clark Griswold’s Christmas lights.

The beginning of this yarn starts like many other classics as we open on a couple of “prison escapees” named Dexter and Vedders  who are creeping around the jungles of a fictional African nation named “Kurtiswana”. They are are in search of the ruins of  the Magic City, which despite ominous amounts rain, thunder and lightning isn’t hard to find as it is located on the 4th panel. Let’s leave our villains behind for a bit as I want to discuss some of Superman’s odd behavior displayed right out of the gate.

Superman has no regards for human life. Yes, it’s true. The Blue Boy Scout is often depicted doing whatever it takes to protect the denizens of his adopted home world. That is unless, your a window washer. I have a feeling this is one of the more dangerous professions to have in the DCU with a bevy of costumed crusaders whizzing by and only having a squeegee to defend yourself. In this case, Supes was in a rush to give his pal Jimmy Olsen some memorabilia for his fan club. A  trinket that looks like something Superman received for cashing in his tickets after a Skee-Ball marathon at the Metropolis Arcade. This leads me to believe Kal-El is a Kryptonian name that translates to “self absorbed dick”.

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“3-D Vidmovies were all the rage at the 1985 Frannes Film Festival”

We then come to find Jimmy is furious with editor Perry White over his assignment to cover a “Lost City” in Kurtiswana rather than the Cann…er…I mean “Frannes” Film Festival because you know the readers of the Daily Planet demand articles about myths and legends rather than what’s actually taking place in the world.

Jimmy is still hot over this news and discovers Clark chilling at his desk. Clark proves to be just as inconsiderate as his alter ego cancelling his lunch plans with Jimmy and his dad, retired Archeologist Mark Olsen last minute. Although, who can blame him as Mark looks exactly like his son with a beard. Hard not to be annoyed by all those freckles while enjoying a Cobb salad.

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“Yes, I’m your dad AND your twin from an alternate dimension. Banjo anyone?”

Don’t just sit there thinking this story is all fluff. It tackles an important issue that affects us all, Pollution. The poisons in our soil and the air we breathe is some serious stuff and as human beings should strive to clean up the Earth. Luckily for Superman, he’s not human. Sure, he has the technology to solve the problem but feels our race isn’t ready for his jelly. Sorry, all this smog is making me sneeze…Ah…Ahhh…Asshole!

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“I blow out miniature versions of myself to help spread my bullshit. How’s that for pollution!”

What good is an old fashioned story without a bank robbery? None, I tell ya! Because I demanded it 32 years in the future, we have a baddie that looks like a bootleg Shogun Warriors action figure (Hey, we are talking about a book from the 80’s here!) doing just that. While Supes could give a damn about our environment, how fucking dare you melt a bank vault door in MY city! We get the obligatory battle but much to his surprise Superman is getting his ass handed to him. Well deserved if you ask me or the window washer.

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“Knuckle Rays for days Sucka!”

Ever the egomaniac, our hero is left wondering how could he have taken a pounding by such a foolishly garbed foe? The only conclusion he can muster is “I’ve been fighting another survivor of my native planet!” Yeah that place that blew up despite having all that glorious tech us feeble earthlings can’t handle.

Let’s not forget Jimmy Olsen who made his way to Kurtiswana only to be promptly welcomed by a rock slide. Missing for several days, his doppelganger/Dad, Mark becomes worried. Rather than alert the authorities of his son’s disappearance, he decides to chat up Clark Kent revealing that Kurtiswana is the home to (insert dramatic music) The Magic City! Strangely, Clark realizes he had forgotten all the details about the Magic City despite it being an exiled chunk of Krypton and a nifty flashback sequence of his escapades there from a previous issue. This also proves to be an opportune time to connect Vedders from the opening sequence as the antagonist from his past exploits. It’s actually an armory full of powerful weapons..blah blah, you get the drill. Cue Superman swooping out of an open window.

As with any good plot or even in traces of bad ones such as this, it turns out there’s more to our scoundrel with no sense of style. He’s revealed to be Dexter, the other weirdo that was wandering around the rainy jungle with Vedders. Like a scene ripped from the movie Scarface, he shows up at his estranged Mothers house with cash in hand looking to make good for being a crummy son. I wonder though if she’s truly to blame for the man being a miscreant as she decides chasing him off with a hot iron is a good idea. Let that sink in, a HOT iron. Imagine how your life may have turned out if every time you misbehaved your cheeks resembled a crisp Panini sandwich.

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“I got your starch right here, ya little weasel!”

Keeping with the theme of sweet duds, Superman decided to stop off at the Fortress of Solitude to snag a “Lead-Glass” suit as to counter the Kryptonite that serves as the Magic City’s bedrock. He also reflects on how the planet was destroyed thanks to “It’s technological heritage” being used for “selfish and destructive purposes”. Here we go again with this guy.  Just give us the “Protect the Ozone laser thingy majiggy” and shaddup already!

Upon entering the armory he finds Jimmy strung up and Vedder unconscious under a pile of debris. In another move, typical of his personality in this script, he decides that Jimmy is more deserving of rescue.

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“Bro’s before Ho’s..and crushed internal organs.”

Of course this proves to be a trap. The “Spectrum Beams” are harmless to humans but devastating to Ol’ Curly Cue Hairdo. What do you expect from a hero who comes prepared with a Kryptonite proof outfit but insists underwear on the outside of your pajamas is where it’s at.

The Man of Steel turns to The Man of Mush and gets pummeled yet again. It’s cool though as a true star emerges. We learn that Jimmy is strong enough to dead lift Supes like a newlywed  carrying his bride across the threshold of a love nest.

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“Superman located his long lost Cat, Mr.Snugglepumps”

And what pray tell is Superman pointing at? What can save his life? It’s ok, I’ll give you a minute to think about it… If your answer wasn’t a Catapult, your obviously a fool as nothing is more rejuvenating than being flung into the air at high speeds. Remember that next time you have the flu. Screw medicine, just hop on the Teacup ride at your local Carnival.

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“Hey there bystanders, umm..don’t run or nothing. Just admire the grenade belt.”

Ding! Ding! Time for Round Three fight fans! No shocker here as the Metropolis Marvel wins the day but how he does it is the deft part. While Dexter reveals his nefarious plot to blow up the world, Supes overhears Lana Lang say “A plan better crystallize in his mind or we are all doomed!” during her news broadcast. Crystallize! Oh, Mort Todd, you sly dog! I didn’t give you enough credit. That holographic trinket we saw at the jump was worth more than it’s weight in skee-ball tokens after all. It projected an image of wrestlers! The Beatles once sang “All you need is Love” but obviously when dealing with an armored atrocity all you need is a figure four leg lock.

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“If only Koko B. Ware lived in Metropolis, we never would have had this problem.”

So all’s well that end’s well. The world is saved, Superman is free to go back and be a douche nozzle soaring the skies. No better way to end an awe-inspiring adventure. Well, unless you include a sad old lady  ironing her few remaining days away.

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“We come full circle as Superman buries his filthy non biodegradable city in OUR planet.”

The back up story is an Ambush Bug ditty by Keith Giffen. It’s only eight pages and is a teaser for the mini series but people tend to forget something about the creator that deserves some due. A lot of folks like anti- heroes such as Deadpool for cracking wise and breaking down the fourth wall. During his career Giffen has been at the forefront of highly entertaining and humorous comics. Without him, other writers wouldn’t have had the blue print on doing it successfully. Hats off for that.

Now that I’ve summarized this bad boy, I promised I would make my case. I just pooped all over the comic yet I’m here to defend it. How can this be possible?

Easy. Look at when it was released. Pre-Crisis, early ’85.This wasn’t for adults. I’m not saying there weren’t mature books available but DC really got their gritty on in ’86. Regardless of it’s cover date, this definitely has the look and feel of silver age feature.

Action Comics #565 was a perfectly scripted Saturday morning cartoon for the time period. Some of you whippersnappers don’t recall the days of spinner racks or newsstand comics. I’m not trying to get all “Get off my lawn” with you but I’d be lying if this doesn’t bring back some great memories.

Prior to family road trips or just to keep me quiet in a restaurant, my mother would grab a MAD mag or random comic book to entertain my young mind. It got me into reading and helped my imagination blossom. Had this been one of the stories she handed me, I would have considered it two staple gold. No doubt about it.

This one it had it all. Throw downs, ridiculous scenarios galore and what kid didn’t want to see Superman triumphant over a gaudy goon in four color fashion! Here’s a story you we could show our kids today, all these years later and it’s still going to have a cool factor. Despite all the birdcages that were lined with this issue, it’s timeless.

Hell, even as an adult, while impossible to take seriously, It’s a nostalgic nugget. Give it a shot, It may bring back some fond sentiments for you as well. Worse case scenario, you will get a chuckle or two out of it.

So “Comics Curmudgeon” or no, I still got a soft spot for the oldies…and Superman will always be a jerk.

David Schultz is the creator and co-host of the Parlipod Podcast. You can harass him on Twitter by following @parlipod. To listen to the show, visit www.soundcloud.com/parlipod or on the GWW Network at thegww.com

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*Information on the talents behind the story were found on Wikipedia as I’ve never had the pleasure of sharing a cold one with them. All images used in this article are rights DC Comics or their respective owners*

COMIC REVIEW: Southern Bastards #17

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SouthernBastards_17-1Southern Bastards #17

Image Comics

Writer: Jason Aaron

Art and Color: Jason Latour

“GUT CHECK” Part Three

$3.99

Rating: 8 out of 10

It’s been a long wait for fans of  the “football murder comic” Southern Bastards. The last issue was published in January. I for one, have been patiently waiting to catch up with the complex citizens of Craw County Alabama and current series lead Coach Euless Boss. It took quite awhile to get here but did it deliver?

 

Picking up where it had left off, readers witness the unraveling of Coach Boss. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and in a land where high school football is religion, losses are nails on a cross. In the previous issue, Coach compromised his already crooked sense of morality with the brutal assault of an opposing player in an effort to steal a win. What started as a grudge on the gridiron has led to war. Cross county rival and fellow crime lord Col. Quick McKlusky will not allow the transgression to go unpunished. Coach Boss decides to douse the flames with the Colonel but may get blindsided by the enemies he’s accumulated at home.

This isn’t just pigskin and pandemonium. Sheriff Hardy actually shares what could be considered a tender moment with the Coach. Plus, those waiting to see Roberta Tubb exact her revenge over Earl’s murder get a taste of what’s to come.SouthernBastards-17_cvrB

 

Be warned, this is not a good jumping on point for new readers. Over the course of this run, writer Jason Aaron has done an outstanding job creating a compelling albeit deplorable cast of characters yet that makes this issue difficult to navigate for the uninitiated. It is part three of the arc after all. If you’re fresh to Southern Bastards, don’t fret. There’s only seventeen issues in so it’s not an overwhelming task to get caught up. You will also be rewarding yourself with an adult title that’s raw, unique and consistently excellent.

For the supporters of this comic, your already aware this is one of the finest creative teams in the business. While seriously late, artist Jason Latour decided to replace the letters column to explain the delay. Writing with sincerity, we’re informed he and editor Sebastian Girner had sadly lost their fathers while working on the book. Latour follows this with a  heartfelt eulogy for his dad David.

Southern Bastards is currently solicited through November. Issue #17 feels like an invite to a family reunion attended solely by psychotics and I eagerly accept. Pick it up.

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