Of the many cartoon ideas that came around in the 1980s, few were more promising in concept but disappointing in execution than the funny pages mash-up known as Defenders of the Earth. For those unfamiliar, it was the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of its day, uniting three King Features Syndicate newspaper strip stars — Flash Gordon, the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician – in one unstoppable team. They banded together to battle Ming the Merciless, Flash Gordon’s bête noire and mustache-twirling galactic threat, as well as other lesser and associated threats. Which all sounds great — all three character’s on their own were kind of cool in their way — and what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, they had their dopey kids in tow. Which ruined everything.
Baby Ruths: Candy bars and ingredients for happy lives, filled with all kinds of healthy dextrose. Swell! (Lifeline from G.I. Joe is not amused — knowing is indeed half the battle.)
Are we supposed to think that those spectral Baby Ruths on the kitchen table are the ghosts of the bars that were slaughtered to make the cookies?
Sex sells, whether it’s subliminally placed in advertisements or in methods not so subliminal — as it once was is this old Wonder Woman Twinkies ad, in which the word “pussy” (as part of ”pussycat”) was used roughly 800 times in one page of panels. Today the password is “booby.” As in ”booby trap.” Or “Wonder Woman has a great set of boobies.” Commence Beavis and Butthead chortling. “Juvenile” indeed.
Also: Stun gun use implied, apparently. We can only hope that one day, should we be blessed with a big screen WW film, it has such intricately woven writing.
Man of Steel is out and in theaters. If you’ve seen it, great. If you haven’t, maybe get around to it at some point. In either case, feel free to read the review I posted, which I enjoyed putting together just about as much as anything else I’ve ever put on here — for whatever that’s worth. Since then, I’ve seen MoS again — I live a five-minute walk from a theater, all right? — and I found myself actually liking it more a second time around. Again, for whatever that’s worth.
Anyway, I thought it might be nice to organize some links to some of the better, crappier, and loonier Superman stuff we’ve looked at here during this blog’s relatively brief existence. A digest of sorts. Click on the following links if you’d like to ponder some Supery material. If not, no harm no foul.
Superman II Topps cards? Superman II Topps cards.
Gee, you think Lex Luthor might turn up in a sequel? Brush up on his Unauthorized Biography.
The time Superman met the young version of himself who wasn’t the young version of himself. And that young version of himself that wasn’t the young version of himself would one day go on to kill the young version of himself who was a clone of himself and the older version of himself who wasn’t an older version of himself.
The comic that taught me that you can swim in quicksand. Knowledge for life.
And there’s more. Maybe we’ll save them for the sequel. Happy Father’s Day to all the pops out there.
There’s something much more clean and antiseptic about a distant shot of Navy vessels duking it out and Air Force fighters dogfighting and raining down death. Something much less sanguinary that your usual bloody — and occasionally hellish — box of men ad.
Really, with neat stuff like what you see up there, how could we ever disarm?
For a long, long while, the DC Comics movie machine has been half-stellar, half-embarrassment. Sure, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films re-energized that character, erasing the sour taste of the 1990s Joel Schumacher sequels (which had in turn wiped out the good will from the two quirky Tim Burton entries). But Superman Returns, Bryan Singer’s 2006 attempt to kickstart the long-dead Richard Donner continuity, suffered from its rehash feel (cataclysmic real estate swindle), a misunderstanding of the character (Stalkerman), and simple boredom (our hero lifted things — he lifted things a lot). And the less said about the Ryan Reynolds-infused Green Lantern, an abortive attempt to mine secondary DC heroes, the better. Read more…
If the colorful, interlocking-plastic-blocks magic of Legos is somehow anathema to you, then maybe 100 unadorned magnets will be more suited to your Spartan aesthetic tastes. And you can erase audiotapes and strip the data from your parents’ credit cards! A plus!
FYI, no human being in the history of the world has ever been as amazed by a simple magnet as that blond kid. Not even uncontacted South American tribesmen.
This bodybuilding ad is a somewhat bizarre fusion of the bum’s refrain (“Brother, can you spare a dime?”) and the usual he-man puffery. The March of Dimes can take their loose change and shove it apparently, because “the handsome new jet power you” can be purchased with the same ten cents.
The guy on the right was once six feet tall and 120 pounds, or so that copy says. Unless he was born of a broomstick, I’m going to have to cry foul on that.
Join Namor on the metaphorical couch for some weak Freudian/Atlantean psychoanalysis – Sub-Mariner #38
There’s no character more in need of some time on a psychiatrist’s couch than Namor, the Sub-Mariner. How many times has he invaded the surface world again? How many times has a taken either a minor incident or an imagined slight and elevated it into an enormous causus belli? A justification for yet another sea vs. land war of survival? How often has he displayed a lack of patience that would take Yosemite Sam aback? Is there a character that carries more tension in his face than Namor? (I mean, just look at those eyebrows.)
You think maybe, just maybe, this might have something to do with his upbringing? An Oedipal complex that generates outright hostility to his human father’s old dominion? What from his life made him who he is? Read more…
Joining the old GRIT sales team never makes sense, no matter how many GRIT-evangelizing ads we see. And could the verbiage get any stiffer than the giant “LOOK, FELLOWS!” at the top? Squaresville, man. Strictly Squaresville.
Also, the Boo Radley-looking kid appears to be wearing a shirt hewn from wood.
Isn’t calling this a “computer box” a bit much? An abacus is more of a computer. It seems a lot like something Homer Simpson would give as a desperate, last-minute gift to Lisa on her birthday. And I would trust no computations from Alpha-Bits, which hails from the cereal D-list, just above generic gruel like Frosty Flakes and Toasted Os. It was one of the cereals you’d experience when you were a kid and stayed over at your weirdo friend’s house, and had a bowl of strange gunk put in front of you the next morning at the breakfast table. GET ME OUT OF HERE.
If the Dinobots were out of your price range, perhaps the Starriors were more suitable for your dinosaur robot dollars
Gobots were the poor man’s Transformers. Robotix were the poor man’s Gobots. Starriors were the poor man’s Robotix (or vice versa — who cares?). That they had a four issue Marvel Comics miniseries — with covers, like Transformers, by Bill Sienkiewicz — doesn’t save them. Not even the giant red T-Rex thing that vomits yellow Frisbees can do that.
I remember two things about the old Muppet Babies cartoon: the fantastic Indiana Jones takeoff they did in one of their episodes, and that when Robin, Kermit’s nephew, came to visit his uncle in the nursery, he was just a tadpole in a bowl. Both were neat. Sadly, though, Muppet Babies was not a well-liked show — at least in this corner. Its watered down, infantile versions of the characters who had brought the spectacular The Muppet Show to such vivid life was a bridge too far. Though its emphasis on encouraging kids to explore the limitless bounds of their imaginations was laudable, the execution was too often glurgey, dragged down to the lowest common denominator, as most Saturday morning fare was (and, I suppose, is). It was strictly kid stuff, whereas the Muppets were always aimed at all ages. (Hell, Ted Koppel once thought it was a good idea for Kermit and the gang to come on Nightline and explain the 1987 stock market crash. Yes, Milton Friedman shared a billing with Fozzie Bear. Wocka wocka.) Animation stripped much of the tangible charm from the characters — was it still the same sans Jim Henson and Frank Oz with their hands jammed up the Muppets’ rear ends? Without their fuzzy, homemade appeal? The three dimensions? No. No it wasn’t.
Yet the show ran for seven years or so, and picked up acclaim along the way. So what do I know.
All that said, I’m pleased to report that their comic works a bit better. Read more…
If someone knocked on my door — perhaps some grimy GRIT-ish urchin — and offered me the Galactus poster, I’d find it hard to resist. The Fantastic Four and Thor posters less so, but still, the temptation would be there. These are Jack Kirby posters we’re talking about here, people. AND THEY’RE THREE FEET TALL. Was there a great Black Knight groundswell, though? Ever? One gets the feeling that the only way his poster ever moved was in the Marvelmania package deal with its neighbors.
Should I ever get married, that SS/G number is going to be on a registry somewhere — to be placed right next to the ASM #33 print. And if the future missus balks, she will not be the future missus.
Man of Steel looks like it’s going to be fantastic, but there’s been something missing from the barrage of promotional imagery leading up to next week’s big release. Not the familiar red briefs — though they’re gone, too. No, the missing element from all the glorious promotional material is none other than Superman’s bestest pal, the befreckled, camera-toting Jimmy Olsen. No Olsen? Isn’t that some manner of blasphemy, far greater than Lois being a redhead and Perry White being black (OH THE IRONY)? In the trailers we’ve seen a young woman in the company of Laurence Fishburne’s White, as they both flee for cover with Metropolis crumbling around them. Has Jimmy undergone a sex change? Would that be better or worse than no Jimmy at all?
The sad lack of Mr. Olsen reminds one of this cover. Glum and shunted to the side yet again.
There’s no one more sad and disgusting than the people who pretend they’re war heroes, cashing in on the respect and sympathy that other people have earned, often by paying the highest price. Eventually their lies come tumbling down, but I imagine the above medals and insignia would be handy along the way. Just a thought.
On a more light-hearted note, there was a time in the 1980s when G.I. Joe toys came with colorful service ribbons, which mimicked the real things that decorate the chests of service members. I loved those things.
You ever wonder if the long-suffering Trix rabbit curses his Tantalus-like fate – that kids are forever denying him the wholesome taste of his very own product, while his Quik cousin gets all the chocolate milk he wants? If he’s also jealous of the Quik Bunny’s bling? And that the Quik Bunny probably gets to hang out with fellow Quik spokesthings, the Gobots?
Or maybe the eager-eyed kids up there are fattening the Quik Bunny up for a big dinner, and they’d turn their noses up at the drawn, emaciated silly rabbit. So maybe it all works out in the end.