Brave and the Bold #148

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If anyone else is hungover from last night’s company Christmas party, please raise your hand. Only me? Ah well, it’s all good. I may have landed myself on the naughty list for my ill advised shenanigans with the xerox machine but I’m still chock full of holiday cheer!

Jolly would be a good word to describe my mood in all honesty. Here I am with you, the fine reader, and a copy of the Brave and the Bold #148 ( DC Comics, March ’79). By cover alone, this has the look of a Christmas classic. Batman and Plastic Man take on the mob in a yuletide yarn, what’s not to like? Grab yourself a glass of eggnog and join me for a review of “The Night the Mob Stole X-Mas” by Bob Haney, Joe Staton and Jim Aparo.

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lineDirty, rotten, no good, stinkin’ buttleggers. You may be asking yourself “What the hell is that? A new brand of yoga pants?” Sounds right but no. Back in the day, everyone was wacky for tobacky. That may be a stretch but it was still a socially acceptable vice of sorts. So stealing smokes was a profitable racket. This Navidad narrative begins with Batman on the trail of group of hijackers that robbed a cigarette truck. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean Bats is promoting puffing. He’s just not down with murder…or Gotham getting goosed on taxes.

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“The judges gave him a 10 for executing the landing and lambasting lecture maneuver.”

Batman is known for having cool gadgets and per the norm, they will be on full display in this issue. Still, for every Batarang or can of Shark Repellent, The Batmobile will always be the coolest. Everyone has a favorite and there are plenty of versions to choose from but boy, this panel makes me wonder if the Dark Knight has taken too may hits on the noggin.

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“Know what else is real bad? Driving in a snow storm with no roof.”

As Bats cruises around with the top down, presumably so everyone can hear his kicking sound system, he notices a child run into the street. A taxi comes within inches of the boy when he is saved by a street Santa with elastic limbs. Batman is shocked to discover it’s Plastic Man in a merry mask and he angrily grabs the garb. Two things here Ebenezer Wayne. First, you of all people should know maintaining one’s secret identity is paramount and two, think about the kids man. Would you tear off Mickey Mouse’s head at Disneyland? Dreams and sense of wonder are now deader than your parents. Nice job.

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“A man dressed as a flying rat objects to my fake beard!”

The two heroes briefly chat with Plas explaining he quit his carnival gig to play Kris Kringle for the Salvation Army. Batman is fairly bummed he’s become a bell ringer and tosses him some spare change before resuming his search for the buttleggers. While distracted looking for the thieves, a new ghastly crime has occurred. The stogies are second fiddle to the theft of “Lacy’s” Department Store nativity display! Yes, Batman is also a defender of trademark law.

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“Wait, the trucker’s murder didn’t get a Code Red. Never mess with another man’s manger!”

Hope you guys haven’t shipped off your wish lists to the North Pole yet. Especially if you didn’t ask for your very own Whirly-Bat! It conveniently fits in your trunk because you never know when you might need it.  Stuck in traffic? Whirly-Bat! Mother in Law coming over for dinner? Whirly-Bat outta dodge! Order now, Operators are standing by!

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“Warning: Small parts and razor sharp helicopter blades. Not suitable for minors. Except Robin.”

With all my Whirly-Bat excitement I failed to mention Plas was kidnapped. How it all went down irritates me to no end. I should love the dickens out of it really. The elements I typically enjoy are there and It’s completely off the wall zany. But even being half conscious, I can’t get over the fact Plas decided to leave a clue in the snow rather than use that same arm to knock out the driver. Sure, thanks to that tidbit he was discovered by Batman but I’m positive an idling tractor trailer would’ve had the same effect.  I suppose it was an excuse to gift us with one of the more random and unnecessary panels in comic book history. A Reindeer grubbing on tobacco.

bbb11“On that fateful day, Prancer–or whatever your name is…succumbed to peer pressure and ate the devil’s lettuce.”

Plastic Man reveals the Mob has behind all of the holiday hoodwinking and are high tailing it down to Florida in an effort to appease their dying boss. Odd request by the Godfather but what do you expect coming from this story. Time to visit some Blue Haired Betty’s and battle some baddies down in the Sunshine State. But first, Batman needs a bath…in a car wash. Don’t ask. Have some ribbon candy and enjoy the ride.

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“Batman’s shadow feels ashamed after all that hard buffing.”

They arrive in time to bust the party and save Christmas in Gotham but it’s how they win the day that’s spectacular. The Mobsters had arranged for fake snow to be dropped overhead while celebrating. Plastic Man uses this to his advantage by turning his head into a funnel and blasting the mafia into submission. The good news is, following this adventure he quit his gig as Saint Nick and started smuggling coke. Poor guy still believes it’s only synthetic snowflakes but appreciates getting paid in cash.

bbb22.1“Tony Montana eat your heart out.”

Holly Jolly or Ho-Ho Horrible?

Sorry, can’t get my Grinch on this time. This issue was fantastic. Utterly ridiculous and a whole lot of fun. What else can you ask for from a Holiday themed issue? The artwork, while the pencilling credit is given to Staton, it was Jim Aparo’s star that shined the brightest and the pages looked phenomenal. I will admit, Bob Haney’s script is only amusing due to it’s seasonal nature. I’ve busted his hump in a review of his previous work so let’s consider this time around as my attempt at puckering up under the mistletoe.

Next time you’re ready to slap ten smackeroos down on one of the newer anthologies DC is serving up, don’t. Turn around, head to the bins and start digging for Brave and the Bold #148.

Now, If I could only find out what happened to that poor Reindeer from earlier. Sweet Mother Hubbard…NO!

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“15 bucks little man.”

 

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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Superman #349

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Superman, the world’s greatest superhero. Without Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s creation all of us may have lived crummy lives. Other powered beings have appeared in literature throughout the ages but Superman was a fucking rock star. Creating the model which all our costumed heroes we love were formed, I will always tip my hat to the Man of Steel.

Even with the respect I have for the inspiration he’s provided, my last crack at a Supes review was less than kind. But hey, in my humble opinion he wasn’t portrayed in the best light. If you’ve read any of my previous work, you would know I’m a sucker for EVERY back issue I can get my grubby fingers on, so the Last Son of Krypton and I were bound to cross paths again here in Two Staple Gold.

This issue caught my eye for more than just the fact some guy dressed up like Wonder Woman looks to be giving Supes a terrible case of constipation. I also have a lot of admiration for the writer Marty Pasko and renowned artist Curt Swan. Apologies to both creators as I poke a little fun at Superman #349 “The Turnabout Trap” cover dated July, 1980 published by DC Comics.

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Returning from an interstellar adventure that “took longer than expected” our hero is bent out of shape for potentially being late for work. No time for a shower or morning coffee when you fear Perry White will tear you a new one. After swooping through an open window at the Daily Planet and changing into his alter ego Clark Kent he prepares to face his angry boss. Instead of finding a perturbed Perry he discovers they decided to change the plumbing while he was away.

supes3493.1“We replaced Clark’s regular Folgers Crystals with Peyote, let’s see if he notices…”

Everyone’s genders have been switched. On the plus side, Jimmy Olsen…err…I mean Jenny Olsen sure can rock a neckerchief like nobody’s business. Utterly stunned, Clark needs some fresh air. On his way out of the building various theories enter his mind. A practical joke perhaps or maybe Red Kryptonite is to blame for what he’s witnessing. As he exits, a window washer falls from her perch and is saved by…Superwoman?! Clark has a hunch and uses his super vision to look towards the Justice League Satellite. There his suspicions are confirmed, all of his friends have been affected by gender swapping.

supes3494.1“Black Condor? Nice try but on this world he goes by Captain Nair.”

Now believing he is trapped in an alternate dimension, Superman attempts to fly into space and search for a gateway. Instead he’s met by an impenetrable dome surrounding the Earth. He takes a crack at it to no avail and as history has proven, If Supes can’t punch his way out of a problem, magic must be involved. With his smash tactics foiled he chooses to return to the bizarre world he’s trapped in and investigate his doppelganger “Clara Kent” who must also be Superwoman.

supes3496.1“You better believe Human Resources is gonna hear about this one!”

But wait! Back at the Daily Planet, while stalking Clara from a windowsill, Superwoman flies by him. How can this be? He remarks how odd all of this is but what I find more disturbing are his Peeping Tom tactics. Whotta creep. Done with all this pondering rubbish, Supes wants the straight dope directly from the horse’s mouth. Bad call Big Blue. Fearing he’s a villain, Superwoman and Superboy ring his bell. Slapping a helmet filled with Kryptonite gas over his head, he’s now their prisoner. Super sucky.

supes3498.1“Groovy! We finally found a use for our spare SUPER Bong!”

Fearing Superman would gain access to their secrets if kept in the Watchtower, The Turnabout Justice League stake him to the ground in the Mojave Desert. He is left under the watchful eye of Wonder Warrior. This leads to my favorite part of the book by far. In all of Supes old adventures, a myriad of  powers would emerge relevant to any predicament he found himself in. This is no exception but easily one I didn’t expect. When talking about odd abilities of comic heroes with your friends, feel free to pull this one out of the arsenal…the dude can A Capella Lullaby your ass to sleep!

supes34910.1“I betcha Wonder Warrior regrets smashing his Keurig right about now.”

Superman lures buzzards over and they break his helmet with their beaks. Now free, he has a quick scuffle with Wonder Warrior, pummels him and steals his Lasso of Truth. That time on the hot sand provided him just the clarity he needed. Certain of who has been the mastermind behind his misery but alas, the culprit isn’t easily found. How to get the mystery miscreant’s attention? Scrawl on a billboard with a giant crayon. Damn, and they say you learn nothing in Kindergarten.

supes34913.1“Ok, That’s officially SUPER STUPID and I’m not entirely sure it’s a crayon.”

There’s only one Imp in the DCU capable of creating that kind of itch in Superman’s britches, Mr.Mxyzptlk! How did Supes put it all together? Super Intuition? Nah, Mr.Mxyzptlk doesn’t know about his secret identity. With every other human experiencing the gender bending, Clara Kent and Superwoman were two different people. Fine deduction skills there Clarky boy. Those who consider Batman “The World’s Greatest Detective” can bite my bippy. Only one question remains. Why is Mxyz out to crap on the Man of Steel’s Wheaties?

supes34915“I’m pleased to realize the act of Catfishing didn’t originate on our planet.”

A year prior in Superman #335, Mxyz was exiled from his dimension and Supes helped him return in time to marry his fiancee Miss Bgbznz. But you see, Mr.Mxyzptlk is one shallow little hombre. When it’s revealed his sweet gal is actually a gaaah, he takes it out on the Blue Boy Scout. Before he can make a mad dash with his crooked derby hat, Superman snares him with the Lasso of Truth he scooped up earlier. Forced to obey, Mr.Mxyzptlk says his name backwards and is returned to ZRFFF. Everything returns to normal…or does it?

supes34917.1“Silly Lois, Clark’s only worried he was going to have to feign interest in Theatre.”

The Verdict:

Silly, fun and whimsical. All these words can be used to describe what I’ve just read and quite frankly, I love that. It it the most memorable tale ever told? Hell no, but unlike my review it’s  classic kid friendly entertainment.

Dark and gritty comics are cool. I enjoy them as much as the next fan but every once in a while a jovial romp is just what the Doctor ordered. Provides some chuckles and the nostalgia tank gets refilled. Punch your ticket to Happy Town and rescue a copy of Superman #349 from the bins. It’s Two Staple Gold.

No molds broken nor minds blown, this is clean entertainment and deserves to be owned. That’ll be $2 for the parting rhyme. I accept cash, credit or a pair of Black Condors shorts. Tell ya what, bring the skivvies and I’ll throw in a Turnabout League fan casting for free.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flash #163

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“I like weird and wacky!” No, this isn’t a code word to get into the fetish club downtown. Ahem… I think. Rather, It’s a statement that tends to be uttered at least once by every fan of the Silver Age. It’s also remarkably true. The majority of stories published between ’56-’70 had to flirt with the bizarre. Some just had a dance, others brought it home to meet the folks but either way it was a glorious era to be absurd.

If you’ve ever read any of my previous work, it’s fairly obvious I’m a huge fan. Not my utmost favorite age (that would be Bronze) yet who can resist all of those whimsical plot threads and colorful creativity?

Barry Allen actually kicked off this period in the pages of Showcase #4 and despite his O.G. status, I  haven’t read many of his adventures during that epoch. A lot of books cross my desk but the moment I saw this cover urgency struck. I mean c’mon, there he is in his talk to the hand pose insisting that I save his life. Naturally, I cracked it open post haste. The scarlet speedster needs ME! Or did he? Let’s take a gander at The Flash #163 ” The Flash stakes his life–on–you!” cover dated August 1966. Written by John Broome, penciled by Carmine Infantino with inks from Joe Giella.

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lineI may be showing my age here but personally whenever someone proclaims “STOP!”, my mind immediately flashes to Estelle Getty rocking a glock. Anyone else recall the 1992 cinematic masterpiece “Stop! or my Mom will Shoot”? The hours I spent as a 14 year old watching this flick filled with phallic follies and stale punchlines. What IS funny though, a Flash cover reminds me how wrong I was to believe Sylvester Stallone turned a corner as a comedic actor. The power of Back Issues at work here people! I digress…

 “Yo Ma, whaddya think of MY Meatloaf?”

The villain in this book BLOWS. Pretty bold way to describe a guy but it’s no exaggeration. This tale starts with him using a powerful puff to dissipate our hero. See what I did there? You better, I expect my readers to come equipped with a gong to punish me for my pathetic puns.  This scoundrels real accomplishment isn’t defeating a Justice Leaguer on the teaser page. It’s overcoming his uncanny resemblance to the Iron Sheik and claiming victory by other means than a headlock.

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“I think Hulk Hogan would prefer the Whistle Tickle finishing move. “

The Flash is speeding his way around Central City while on a pier, a little girl accidentally drops her doll into the ocean. No job is too small for the fastest man alive. He zips over water to grab the lost toy. Nice to see Flashy boy isn’t above some blue collar rescuing of inanimate objects. The writer notes this small act of kindness will play out later on. Hmm… wishful thinking, the Barbie taking a dip is retconned as the origin of the Anti-Monitor. Bit of a stretch? They say I’m a dreamer.

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“How many times I’ve said ‘never’ after a night of drinking. You got a lot to learn kiddo.”

Back to the Iron Sheik lookalike. His name is sure to instill terror into the hearts of men, ready for it? Mr.Haddon! Yeah, more like your 6th grade History teacher than treacherous tyrant. I’ve got the wrong subject though as it turns out he’s quite science enthusiast. So much so, he’s created an insane invention. Let’s try to wrap our minds around this: According to Haddon, belief in ourselves is based on how others feel about us. So he’s developed radiation that will erase a populations memory of a specific person. They forget someone exists and that person will disappear. You really got to have a broken Beaker to come up with that one. This weapon still needs some fine tuning. Witness the saddest first appearance in DC Comics history, Haddon’s cat “Jessica”. This furry feline only wanted some milk but received oblivion. Someone get Selina Kyle on the horn.

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“R.I.P. Jessica the Invisible Lab Rat Cat 1966-1966.”

Haddon uses the radiation on Central City. Now that no one remembers Barry, he begins to turn into a mist. He tries to run around  and get the attention of someone, but they just think he’s a nut job in a funny suit. Reduced to nothing more than second hand smoke, he still believes crime waits for no man..er..ghost thingy. A store alarm rings in the distance and Flash races to the scene to discover Haddon robbing the joint. With bags full of cash in each hand he takes a trick from the Big Bad Wolf Handbook by Huffing, puffing and blowing the Flash around.

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“What do Marty McFly and the Flash have in common? Great at fucking up timelines.”

Guiding Barry’s wispy form back to his lab, Haddon lays out his evil plan. With the Flash incapacitated he’s free to steal and use the money to move to an island and become it’s King. Seriously. Once the final person stops believing in the Flash…poof. Haddon is so confident in himself, he chomps on a congratulatory stogie and leaves Barry in his lair. So if no one can remember the Flash, how is he still alive? Rewind to that nugget on the docks.

flash16311.1“Where the hell are this kids parents? Is her Dad the Gorton’s Fisherman?”

YES! The little girl with a case of the butter fingers! That’s right, she would “never, never, never” forget him for rescuing dolly. The scene itself where he discovers she is the lone believer does play out a tad creepy in a lock down Chuck E. Cheese kind of way. If you find that odd, it doesn’t stop there. The Flash still needs to regain full form by refreshing the rest of Central City’s memory. In the age before e-mail, my baby…she wrote me a letter.

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“As bands in the 90’s understood, flyers were the ultimate promotional tool.”

Just like memes in modern times, people believed everything they read back in the day. Kinkos be damned, Barry just writes a butt load of leaflets and hands them out to people on the street. By golly, it actually works! The more they read, his body is restored. Now at full strength, The Flash is ready to smash the ‘Stache.

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“If I could only have Tom Selleck’s lush head of hair, I would be UNSTOPPABLE!”

Haddon is enjoying some Magnum P.I. fashion and Kooey Kooey Kooey servitude in a tropical locale. Heavy is the head that wears the crown  as he can’t quite put a finger on how he achieved his success. Screw it, He’s still living the dream. King of an island, armed guards and plenty pineapples can’t erase the feeling someone is out to get him. Paranoia proves to be prudent if not effective. The Flash promptly busts his party up and puts his shiny melon behind bars.

Was this one a classic? Nope. Not even close. The story proved to be terribly boring. Had the writer opted to embrace the insanity of the time period it may have been saved. Take the Mind Erasing Machine for example. I don’t have a problem with it’s function being vague but they should have went all out with it. No cool design, colorful beams of light or anything really. Just an old burger warmer from Wendy’s.

There’s a back up story featuring Abra Kadabra but by this point you can tell the creators had better things to do with their day than care what got published that month. I suppose an argument could be made Infantino’s pencil work is the one redeeming quality but we’ve got a flat liner here. Four color Ambien. The Surgeon General advises against reading this prior to operating machinery.

Thanks for the iconic cover guys but here’s to wishing I could wash my brain clean of this one. Maybe watching some T.V. will help with that…oh HELL yes!

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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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