Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 56 - THE CONQUEST OF KALIKLAK!



Micronauts vol.1 No.56
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelly Jones & Sam Grainger
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Bob Harras
EIC: Jim Shooter

It;s Assistant Editor Month, which means that the whackiest shit is gonna happen! Except in this book, not accounting for a fumetti comic in which Bob Harras accidentally destroys by way of an an atomic accident. I can't remember if we're supposed to care if Bob Harras explodes or if instead there are ::waves indistinctly:: issues and we're good with him exploding. I forget which editors groped who or pretended to be what other ethnicity or what-ever-else gross thing they apparently did to deserve being exploded, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I think I just didn't like the new 52 or something? Anyway, I checked, it doesn't appear that he groped anyone. Why the hell am I talking so much about groping all of sudden? I can't believe this entry went off the rails in the first paragraph.

Anyway, he blew up.


Everyone who reads this blog is old enough to remember the Maine so I don't think I have to explain Assistant Editors Month. If I do, here it is: The editors all went to San Diego together, leaving the assistants in charge. Most books took this opportunity to do some funny (or "funny") or inventive, but Micronauts has stories to tell! Let's go!

Bug suggests that the Micronauts -- currently operating without a home base -- set their sights on Kaliklak, his home world. Although Karza's forces had killed his people's previous queen, her successor is about to be born! This is a chance for rallying the Kaliklakians around a cause, and to give the rebellion an army as well as a headquarter.

I heard it's raining men.
PS, the issue before last they liberated Prisonworld from Karza's forces and unleashed a planet full of political prisoners on the universe. I have no idea where those guys are or why they can't -- or wouldn't! -- use Prisonworld as their new HQ. They have an army, they have access to Karza's armory. They don't have very long memories, I guess. Anyway. I'm no Bob Harras or anything, but it seems to me that they missed an opportunity. Or Prisonworld was stupid and Mantlo's trying to help us forget it.

On Kaliklak, they find the planet under the assault of Karza's "Bug Bombs" -- giant all-consuming beetle monsters about the size of a Labrador. They also invade BioShip, pitting the Micronauts against creepy insects -- Rann and Fireflyte absolutely destroy any they come into contact with. Huntarr forgets to do any fighting. Why do they always have to have one team member I can't stand?

Acroyear, Huntarr, Bug and Mari go planetside, visiting Bug's gang's old hideout. There, they're ambushed by Bug's old pals, and they meet Mattressback (I mean "Treehopper"), the younger sister of Bug's deceased girlfriend Jasmine who just starts making out with him without actually being sure that she recognized him. I guess she was carrying a torch.

This causes problems for Mari. The character they insist on calling "Warrior Woman" (that does not have legs) had planned to keep intimately close to Bug on this trip in order to stick it to Rann, who is still on the ship. How he woulda known, I don't know, because he is currently meditating as a post-collegiate level.

Rann is back in the Time Temple, pleading his case one more time to the Time Travelers. Karza is also begging them for the power to put the Microverse in "order" of some sort.  Now. At this moment,had you been reading this book as it came out originally, I am confident that this next scene would have exposed to you the reality that Mantlo is leaving. The next scene should have been at least a full issue, but Bill's clearly emptying out the idea drawer before it's time to hand the book off.

It's just a reskin, settle down.

Pledging impartiality but not inaction, the Time Travelers gift both Rann and Karza with the ultimate power -- the power of the Enigma Force, and of Captain Universe! I still think the "Captain Universe" portion of the Enigma Force is unnecessary, but it's exciting to see the different visuals. Karza's black armor turns opalescent, and Rann gets the version of the Captain Universe costume that doesn't have a mouth-and-nose hole, which is the better version by far.

Transformed, they come to realize that Enigma/Godhood would only place them above conflicts and questions of morality. For Rann, abandoning his humanity for godhood would be an abomination. For Karza, the abandonment of the desire for conquest is too high a price to pay for ultimate power. This ends with Rann getting ready to punch Karza, although by my reckoning he probably should have held on to his power long enough to curb Karza.

It should have been an arc of its own, but at least this confrontation establishes the next step for Karza's motivation: He gives up his quest for ultimate power and instead simply dedicates himself to evil brutality. He kicks the priests out of his palace and reveals that he's all human again under the armor...



For the rest of the book, we return to Kaliklak where Bug is leading the combined forces on a mission to save the new queen. The battle takes the alliance and the Battle-Beetles right to the hatching chamber of the new Queen, where the good guys unequivocally save the day. That's new for this book.



Even better, the Micronauts return to Bioship to find that Rann has rejoined them as Commander! Let's see where that goes! I think Marionette's social calendar is suddenly free.

On the way out, Guice gets to insert himself into a short comic in which he brags about killing Nanotron, among other things. Good for you, Butch, I'm on your side.


Lastly, in one scene of this issue, Karza was wearing a dressing gown and it must be captured for posterity.

"...but a nice dressing gown makes it seem so much better."

Monday, May 28, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 55 - HUNTARR HUNTS ALONE!



Micronauts vol.1 No.55
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelley Jones
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Ralph Macchio
EIC: Jim Shooter

We're off of Prisonworld, we're back to the battle with Karza, and in this issue -- Huntarr hunts alone! Okee-doke! Huntarr has done very little hunting up to this point in the series, so I'm glad he gets to justify his namesake.

The two-issue Prisonworld arc still feels a bit like a fever dream, but it happened. The generous side of my nature wants to assume that the two-issue arc was a product of editorial edict -- time for something lighthearted, don't you think? Something frivolous and clumsy and dumb, perhaps. Something to clear the palate between the Micronauts losing their latest battle against Karza and the pressures of the team. Speaking of which, Mari and Bug are fucking.


So, first off, I can happily confirm that Bug looks fucked-up as hell without his helmet on. They should never remove that thing. He should not have hair. I don't know why, but it's particularly disturbing. It makes him look sad and past middle age...

The suddenly carnal relationship between the two team members is portrayed very reasonably. There's no shock or scandal about it -- they're teammates who care very strongly for one another, and for one reason or another they are both denied the emotional and physical support of their loved ones. It feels really natural and reasonable -- what's she gonna do, try'n fuck Bioship? There's a limited number of dudes on this ship and her boyfriend's begging for quarters in the Phantom Zone. It's good writing, I'm really pleased with this direction. I'm sure it's being set up for a love triangle or something down the road, which is fine. Bring it on.

Huntarr, taking a dump.
Speaking of the Phantom Zone, Karza has managed to somehow infiltrate the Microverse's local ambiguous realm beyond dimensions -- The Time Temple! Karza is seeking a truce with the Time Travelers, which is unnecessary because they've been fuck-all as far as help goes recently. Nonetheless, Rann loses his temper and, by way of his clumsy attack, informs Karza as to the desperate state of the Micronauts' situation: They do not have the assistance of the Enigma Force. Good news for Karza, bad news for children and other living things...

Back on the ship, Bug takes a post-coital stroll and watches his pal Acroyear commit the Microversian equivalent of "Suicide by cop." Testing his skills against the little floating ball thing from the first Star Wars movie, A'yo almost allows himself to be murdered by holograms of his wife and brother. Bug saves him, and gives him a pep talk. All solved.

All right, the focus of this issue is Huntarr hunting alone, so let's get started -- because a lot happens. Shaping himself like a very destructive penis, Huntarr smashes some of Karza's orbital patrol vessels. He keeps this up until someone brightly decides to shoot him, which is all part of his plan. Plummeting to Homeworld, the indestructable Huntarr disguises himself as a  ... submarine fish? With the consistency of a banana? I don't think it'd really sunk in before this moment how much I dislike Huntarr's slightly amorphous, roughly-handled Play-Doh body. We can add that to the list of things I don't like about Huntarr (number one is that he looks like a naked guy wearing just socks).

His goal is his former home, in the slums of Homeworld. He recalls his sister, his mother, and his life as ... a male prostitute, I think?  It's revealed that Huntarr, when he was only lowly Iann-23, makes a habit of robbing rich clients who "bought his favors." Pretty sure he's a male prostitute. I don't know why I like this so much, except that it adds to the overall grittiness of Micronauts, and it's not an occupation you often see many heroes pick up in comics. Hell, they never even talk about how many ex-Robins make a living on Chaturbate now...

Huntarr reveals that he has lost track of his family, after the three of them were assaulted and kidnapped by Dog Soldiers. His mother still lives in the shitty apartment, but Body Bank experiments left her looking like a melting Muppet. She welcomes her boy back home by stabbing herself fatally in the gut, encouraging Huntarr to blow the whole shmear to hell. Yeah, family visits are tough.

Real quick, Lady Coral -- last survivor of Seazone -- is depicted watching all of this happen. She seems to be scouting for Huntarr as a new recruit to her personal rebellion, but I've read the last page and Huntarr actually accepts an official offer to join the Micronauts. So. This might pay off later.

Sure, sure, hey, home come your head
looks like a glans, mac?
There's another aside, in which Karza reveals that his visit to the Time Temple left him with doubts and insecurities -- as long as godlike power exists, he must have it! Mortal failings will be his undoing, as will saying all of this out loud to his treacherous chief scientist, DeGrayde! Also, I thought Karza was energy, but I guess that isn't a thing any more.

This gets so really gross. Huntarr's sister is a Breeder, which means that she's hooked up to an enormous Simon machine which "gives her babies." I don't want to know the details, even though the details are horribly obvious. There are also a bunch of cold, naked babies all over the floor. Huntarr kills some nuns. It all ends with Huntarr liberating the Breeders, but they've all gone nuts from their treatment, so they grab their babies and jump to their deaths. Then Huntarr blows everything up, yelling, which is almost literally everything he's done all issue. What a male prostitute he must have made.

Next issue, Kaliklak! Good! As far away from the Breeding Simon as possible, please!

Monday, May 21, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 54 - MURDER-1!


Micronauts vol.1 No.54
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelly (sic) Jones
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Ralph Macchio
EIC: Jim Shooter

Not with that posture you won't.
Some of the recent issues have given off the implication that Mantlo might be getting just a little bored with the Micronauts' universe (or, at the very least, with what he could do with the universe given that the book was still a licensed title, regardless of its Direct Market status). I say this for a couple of reasons. To begin with, some of the stories have involved a real info-dump in terms of the raw ideas which Mantlo's fertile imagination had designed for the Microverse, implying that he's wrapping things up. Secondly, the Prisonword arc is terrible.

A new editor sitting on two weird, possibly pointless issues suggests where the finger should actually be pointed. Ralph Macchio, you did not do good work here today.

The story picks up from last issue. The Micronauts Mob -- our stalwart heroes decked out in White Heat cosplay -- are battling the G-Men, mutated servants of Karza freshly emerged from the Body Banks.

The villains resemble the hated Death Squad in numbers and their assortment of unique powers. Unlike the Death Squad, I do not hate them on sight and also I don't think any of them have names. Nonetheless, backed up by Karza's dog soldiers, the G-Men square off against the Micronauts as follows:


  • Some sort of orange snakewoman fights Marionette. She can apparently spit an hallucinogenic venom which makes its target experience the terror of facing their greatest fear. This is the usual comic book hallucination stuff. Mari hallucinates Karza, but then figures out the score and stabs snakewoman through the heart. 
  • Little D, the leader of most of Prisonworld's mobs, takes on a bulky grey G-Man alongside Bug. They decisively throw their hulking opponent down some stairs, and are captured by Dog Soldiers promptly thereafter.
  • Huntarr beats up a pink G-Man whose powers I don't recall seeing in action. Maybe he was a walking eraser.
  • And Acroyear battles a head-butting green lizard, who has this really odd exchange after defeating the Spartak prince:



The remainder of the issue is a series of riots in different locations, and it'd be pointless to recount them all. During the penultimate riot, the Micronauts make the acquaintance of Murder-1, a tusked behemoth who falls platonically for the Princess and joins their side in this, the second most important of the many riots in this issue.

Having thrown his lot in with the Micronauts, he is tried alongside them at the hands of Karza's Tri-Bunal, which is idiotic and looks like this:

I want to pretend that this never happened.

Both Murder-1 and the Tri-Bunal once again feel like very early Alan Moore ideas, some classic 2000AD stuff. They feel like slightly more sensitive riffs on 1970's-style, LSD-inspired Marvel Comics nonsense. Defenders plots, you know? But with a college degree...

The issue ends with the Micronauts and the eagerly-rioting mobs of the Microverse overthrowing the powers of Prisonworld. The weird part of the issue is that none of the prisoners on Prisonworld -- political prisoners, every one of them, brainwashed to remove their identities -- has any idea what to do when the planet is liberated. Marionette has to encourage them to resume their anti-establishment activities, but it's weird that no one thought of that on their own. They KNOW they're political prisoners! They adopted gangster identities because they admired how criminals took on the establishment! THEY SHOULD ALREADY BE ON THIS PAGE.

So this was a rough issue that I didn't much enjoy, but at least they closed it out with a poster of all of the book's dead characters so I can laugh in Devil's stupid face.

HAHA, EAT IT YOU DEAD MUPPET!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: CHAINS OF FOREVER

With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...



In my heart, I want to get this entire entry written in fifteen minutes, inasmuch as the episode was so bad that it fails to warrant any effort beyond that. Counterpoint: It's one of the most unusually-shot and bizarrely-staged episodes in the series' entirety and I should at least mention that it ends with everyone in the same shot like a junior high school production of Our Town.

I wasn't super paying attention to the opening of the episode, which led me to believe that we were starting out in the Victorian era. What I'd caught was Celia (Laura Hicks) and Robert (Jeff Breslauer) dressed in nominally Victorian outfits and visiting a bookseller (Kristian Truelsen) who was dressed like a bartender in an old time saloon and also I thought he might also be Stephen Stucker from Airplane BUT WAS NOT. What I'd missed was all the signifiers that we were in the present day like cars and shit. ANYWAY.

We eventually learn these people are 200 years old but dress like they're 100 years old. 

Just to describe the whole plot: Celia and Robert were once given an elixir of eternal youth, but the elixir's running out. So Robert has become obsessed with finding the Fountain of Youth, and Celia's become obsessed by being really put out by the whole thing, which we know because she has mastered the long-suffering eyeroll.

Besides finding the fountain to be located in the middle of the Universal Studios backlot, Robert and Celia accidentally alert Arcane to their quest. It's frequently mentioned that Arcane is working on finding some sort of scientific solution to mortality, although it always sort of feels like a surprise when he mentions it. In any case, the bookseller is in Arcane's employ ... for reasons I must consider, later. What are the odds that someone would come into some obscure old bookshop with clues to the location of the Fountain of Youth? Arcane really spreads out his gambles...

The cobra hood on Swamp Thing's neck deserves its own credit.

 Robert and Claire try to hire Will for a swamp tour, but he can sense that they're nuts and so he disinvites himself from the adventure. Will is showing tremendous canniness, BUT I think he might have just refused the call to his heroic journey. Sorry Will, you gotta keep piloting your fart boat in the shit lake. Enjoy!

Disappointed and bickering, Robert and Claire return to their hotel room to find Graham wrecking it! He leaps out the window and fires a gun to scare off a pursuing Robert. This is all done so clumsily that I assume there must have been a stuntperson's strike at the time.

"Let me just ... I'll just ... No, let me do it, I need to learn ..."

Claire is freaked out by Robert's obsessiveness, and so joins Will for a tea party (?) and to beg him for help in finding Robert, who has rushed out into the swamp. It's at this point that I must mention how stodgily shot this whole thing is. It feels like a dramatic segment on Texaco Star Theater. With the writer having come from soap operas and the director having few credits to his name, it's coming off like a filmed stage play...

Swamp Thing finally gets some lines, having observed that Robert's aura gives off a glow one normally associates with long-lived objects like trees and very very old people. Swamp Thing is clearly high.


But that obvious stoner bullshit comes with some hard truths, too. Knowing the story of the elixir and the alchemist who presented it to Robert and Claire, Swamp Thing explains to Claire why Robert appears to be aging and she doesn't: It's not that his mania is doing something to the chemical or that the elixir is failing him, it's that the elixir is powered by love. And Robert doesn't love Claire any more. Oh shit. Oh dang. Swamp Thing you have known Claire for all of two minutes it is not cool to come down on her with cruel realities like that.

At some point around here, by the way, Robert redeems himself in my eyes by pulling a gun on Will, the ultimate redemptive act. Will is saved by Swamp Thing bursting into the shack where Will is being held at gunpoint and, um ... getting murdered. Durock throws Garrison down so hard, the FUCK he was awake to finish filming this episode. There is no mattress soft or thick enough to keep Will alive. He is dead. RIP Will. Any Will sightings from this point on are like Paul McCartney sightings after Magical Mystery Tour.

That flinch is supposed to be because of the gun but I'm pretty sure it's because Durock is a huge oaf.

At the end of the episode, we learn that the Fountain of Youth is real, but that Arcane (despite blaming Graham) poisoned it with runoff from one of his evil experiments. Wracked with guilt and the realization of his inevitable death, Robert chugs a bunch of the poison water and dies in what we like to call "The Ol' Reverse Romeo and Juliet."

And then everybody walks off. The final shot involves the camera jumping back twenty feet and us being able to see all the actors sort of just standing there, until Arcane and Graham sneak off to the side. It is legitimately the weirdest thing this show has ever presented to me, and I choose to remind you of ::gestures indistinctly at every episode of the show preceding this::

This blurry, so: Swampy standing on the left, Will and Claire holding Robert's corpse in the middle, Arcane helping Graham sneak off on the right.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 53 - THE UNTOUCHABLES!


Micronauts vol.1 No.53
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Ralph Macchio
EIC: Jim Shooter

A very controversial two-parter also introduces some noticeable changes in the book -- at least if you happen to start reading with the credit boxes. Danny Bulandi, following a lengthy and unloved run as the book's go-to inker, vanishes. Handling the crow-quill over his own pencils for right now is Butch Guice himself, and it's ... it's very interesting. There are some apparent similarities with, of all artists, Keith Giffen's work. Which makes matters a little more confusing a little later on, but before we deal with that ...

In addition to Bulandi being removed from the roster, Al Milgrom hands the reins over to Ralph Macchio with this issue, which may go on to explain the seemingly un-Mantlo-like premise: Tne Micronauts find themselves on a planet modeled after 1940's gangster movies! Like the Star Trek episode, you know! The one everyone thinks is dumb for the most part and even if they didn't there is absolutely no reason to pursue it elsewhere.

Put a pin in this panel for about three paragraphs ...

Excellent writing saves a dumb plot, as does the strength of Mari's character and advancement which the ongoing storylines experience as they interconnect one more time. Acroyear, for one, is bonded to a new set of armor forged in the very "Stardrive core" of the chief vessel of the Spartak diaspora. This also allows him the opportunity to explain the complicated mechanics of Spartak monarchy (Acroyear cannot be king unless he is explicitly accepted by his queen, Cilicia -- who additionally carries his future heir -- or until the birth of the child -- KINGBIRTH! -- at which time the elders of Spartak will issue their decisions on the future of the race...complicated, you see?).

It is also at this stage -- perhaps a little early, really -- that Acroyear has his symbol of banishment removed from his forehead. This involves having his forehead further scarred so as to wipe out the mark, and you better hope he doesn't ever betray the Acroyear people again, because where are they gonna put another brand? He's running out of space! Anyway, I can't imagine that the end result looks any worse than any coverup tattoos I've ever seen ...

(The scene at the Stardrive core is where I finally, and for the first time, really saw similarities in the work between Mantlo at his peak and a young Alan Moore. The scope of their imagination seems to share similar boundaries, and they're both so obviously embroiled in world-building for each individual character. There are literally whole planets providing background to Mari, A'yo, Bug and so on, and one way or another it put me in the mind of a Halo Jones-ish era Moore -- even the gangster planet plot has a bit of Tharg's Future Shock to it...)

One A'yo is back in his lead tuxedo, the Bioship is released to seek allies in the Microverse for their war against Karza. However, it's not smooth sailing as Marionette chooses to pick another confrontation with Arcturus Rann, whose meditative pursuit of supernatural help in the battle against Karza has left her frustrated and ready to lash out. She blasts a hole in the door to Rann's room -- injuring Bioship in the process -- but finds that Rann is so far gone as to be unreachable.

Huntarr tries to duke it out with Fireflyte, but finds himself insufficiently suited to the task. This is a good summary of Huntarr, who is admittedly better than Devil but not so much that I'd call him a good character.

This is not a good look.
Lemme bat this idea around a little bit: Huntarr has a shit look, just to get that out of the way. He is literally a moon's-surface of snot-craters in sexy disco boots. From the back, he looks mostly like butt.

But that also shouldn't matter, because Huntarr has a great motivation for battling Karza: While Argon's body still served as host for Karza's malevolent spirit-energy, he directed the Body Bank treatments which transformed the Homeworld peasant into a "living weapon." Now, he chooses to use his power against Karza.

It's great, that is more than enough to drive any one character -- but it doesn't. Partially, it's because Huntarr reacts and allows himself to be directed, rather than leading the charge. He has as much of a personal stake as any other member of the team, but he's never portrayed as much more than passively embittered.

And the rest of the problem is simply that his one motivating factor -- the loss of his humanity -- doesn't seem like that much of a problem in this universe of weirdos and mutants. We knew so little of his humanity and are treated to so little in the way of reminders that his sacrifice doesn't seem like much of one, frankly. Yes, he's a gooey monster, but Bug's a cockroach in a hat and Acroyear is a 'roided-out purple skeleton wearing a Japanese toilet for a cardigan, and the roboids are roboids. There are only two humans in the entire cast, so one orange snot-panda doesn't carry the immediate visual identifier for a loss of identity, you know?

Along those lines -- after the confrontation on Bioship, the active Micronauts descend to Prisonworld looking for allies. A planet-sized gulag for political prisoners, Prisonworld is also the first glimpse we have of the Microverse as being widely-populated by an unpredictable and vividly diverse series of alien species. It reminds me a lot of Omega Men, actually, which came out around the same time and was equally committed to presenting the outer reaches of the universe as containing a mess of aliens. (I had considered covering Omega Men instead of Micronauts for this series, as a matter of fact, so it's neat to see some similarities)

Here's some more of Huntarr being difficult to appreciate, as me makes curvy dicks out of his hands.

The Micronauts spend a decent amount of time in the course of this issue fighting with the inhabitants of Prisonworld. It's one of those deals where the good guys fight each other for a while until it becomes clear that they're on the same side. This is also known as "a waste of time," but a lot is happening in this issue so I don't mind.

Once they're on the same side, the Micronauts hear the story behind Prisonworld becoming a bunch of Jimmy Cagneys with Deep Space Nine makeup. Bereft of Karza's influence following the tyrant's first defeat, the inhabitants of Prisonworld sought a new identity (?), so they based their personalities on the gangster movies they picked up on deep space feeds. Why they didn't just leave Prisonworld and go home, I dunno. Surely political prisoners don't just watch loads of TV once the regime they fought is deposed. Nelson Mandela didn't come out of prison like "You guys ever watch Firefly?"

(The entire premise that a whole heterogeneous community would form an homogeneous culture based on a passing pop cultural fancy is so goddamn weak anyway. I was going to come up with more tortured metaphors to describe it, but why)

Well, now you have to imagine that Bug is voiced by Chevy Chase.

The Micronauts are organized into the native political body of Prisonworld -- a gang -- and end up fighting the local authorities. These are "The G-Men," a bunch of morphy-looking bastards who possess sufficient risks of becoming a new Death Squad that I am absolutely gutted that this issue ended on a cliffhanger. I need to see the G-Men murdered before they become a problem.

Nope, no thank you.

A few bits of errant business: I wanted to mention that Marionette continues being the baddest ass in comics. Besides blasting a hole in Bioship just so she could argue with her boyfriend, she also murders a bunch of half-transformed Body Bank subjects rather than allow them to live as Karza's weapons. Damn. Damn damn.

The other thing is a strange amount of Keith Giffen-like moments in this issue: There are dozens of panels and entire pages which look for all the world like trademark Giffen layouts. Some of the alien designs are Giffen-esque. The leader of the mobs -- Little D ("the 'D' stands for dwarf," someone unhelpfully tells us, and also that's kind of insulting)  -- enjoys multiple panels which practically bear Giffen's signature. The entirety of this page feels like Giffen layouts:



Little D, in fact, could have been cut and pasted from a Giffen book of the same period:


And then there's this:



Something Giffen-esque is happening here.

Meanwhile, here's a letter-writer presaging this issue's all-Guice art chores, followed by a Mighty Marvel Pinup -- damn, I love a good Mighty Marvel Pin-Up ...

A warning to readers of Indiana Jones.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN: WHAM-O GIANT COMICS PRESENTS CLYDE / WHAM-O FUN FACTORY


Clyde
(w/a: Al Shean)

Al Shean boasts an interesting lineage, being the son of the vaudeville performer of the same name, of the comedy duo Gallagher & Shean. The elder Shean's sister was Minnie Marx, rather famously the mother of the Marx Brothers, making this Al Shean a first cousin to Groucho, Chico, Harpo and all the other Marx Brothers we like to pretend "contributed" to the comedy. They did their best, anyway. There's a reason that Gummo went into the raincoat business, you know...

Anyway, Al Shean's "Clyde" borrows no limit of material from the old vaudeville stage gags. A Tarzan of the Apes type, Clyde is the son of a vacationing opera singer (thus the famous Tarzan-like call) who becomes lost in the jungles of Africa, making a life for himself among the disinterested lions and other fauna. Joining in his adventures is Shirley, his loving wife whom he can nonetheless not distinguish from a jungle cat or a chimp. Clyde had some wild times in the jungle, it seems.

The gags are rapid-fire and cry out for rimshots. It's "setup / punchline / setup / punchline" throughout the relatively sparse content. When last seen, CLyde was off to London to acquire more bon-bons for Shirley, although how he'll recognize her when he gets back, who can say?

The Wham-O Fun Factory
(w/a: Virgil Partch)

Wham-O Giant Comics had apparently made the most of CARToons and Hot Rod artists, as well as some handy storyboard and advertising guys. VIP was a bit of a surprise. Best known for his naughty cocktail napkin gag panels, I reckon (or at least that's how I best recognize the guy's work), he turns in a plenty-enjoyable cutaway view of the Wham-O Fun Factory deeply involved in making their primary product, FUN (i.e. balls). 



Has the yen for collecting 20th century cartoonists' complete works in oversized, lovingly-restored volumes become passe? Because I'd support a Partch collection along those lines, from Big George to this and all the saltiness in-between ...


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN: WHAM-O GIANT COMICS PRESENTS KLUNKER THE MISFIT MONSTER

It me.
Klunker the Misfit Monster
(w/a: Willie Ito)

Willie Ito -- whose career placed him at Disney, Hanna Barbera and Warner Brothers (at Termite Terrace itself, nonetheless!) -- brings to the Wham-O Giant Comics family a John Stanley-flavored feature by way of Stu Pydd and his misfit monster, Klunker.

Stu Pydd is a kid who's obsessed with monsters, to the point that he spends most of his day trying to terrify his family and friends by way of his monster mask. Before I go any further, do you mind if I vent about how much I hate the name "Stu Pydd?" I mean, I know this is one of those "It's kids' entertainment, keep your adult expectations at home," but seriously. It's hard to imagine Stu's parents running through possible names and running the "defense against getting called bad names" spell that most new parents do, and settling on Stuart. "There's no way you could make something bad out of Stuart and Pydd," says dad, as he's frog-marched into the Soylent Green vat. We gotta do something we these people.

"...and married one instead."
Rejected by his monster-ambivalent friends, Stu retreats to the forest where he meets a legit terrifying monster! It's Klunker, a giant robot who can be reduced to toy size by way of a key attached to the top of his metal skull. This is handy, as Stu is able to shrink Klunker to nothing-sized just as his inventor, Dr.Jeepers Creep, plods through the forest in search of his errant creation.

In fact, despite his name, Stu pulls an incredibly smart trick in order to hide his pal's presence. With telltale tracks leading Dr.Creep directly towards his target, Stu rides his bicycle violently and enthusiastically around the aforementioned indentations, effectively obscuring them and saving his new pal from discovery.

Stu takes Klunker home, making this the second strip in this publication which features a young boy taking home a tiny monster who grows large when fiddled with. I think this might be a metaphor for puberty.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: PATIENT ZERO

With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...



If the Swamp Thing television show has a peak, it almost invariably comes out by way of the Graham and Arcane road show. Episodes featuring the pair of 'em are always worth watching, if only because screen-time must necessarily be granted to 2/3rds of the actors who seem to 'get' this show. In this instance, we go one step further -- it's an episode where Graham gets his lifelong dream answered. He receives validation from his boss!

Prior to that, however, Arcane and Graham are meeting an ersatz Mister Freeze inside a yacht at the Houma Marina (i.e. the far side of the Universal Studios stunt show pool). This is Dr.Richard Parnell (Alan Bergman), a man who has been secretly infected with a virus so powerful that it will destroy the world unless the host body is consistently surrounded by an environment no warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I legitimately don't think it really works this way, I don't think it matters if things are really cold outside, I think the virus takes advantage of body warmth to, um, kill you. I think he should be dead. I accept corrections on the matter, inasmuch as I am no scientist and also I left the Google way over there and I don't want to walk.

Also he was walking around like this. Seems summery.

Parnell has something to offer the immortality-obsessed Arcane: Properly done cryogenics! Pow! He proves his skills by showing off a couple of taxidermized animals under a frosted sneezeguard, but that's the same thing as suspended animation I guess. Personally, were I ever cryogenically frozen, I'd specifically ask them to not freeze me in a moment of alarm with all four of my limbs jutting outward in terrified mania.

This salad bar is weird.

In return for the tiny frozen rabbit, Parnell wants a sample of Swamp Thing's blood, which is a cure for his disease. I should mention now that I can't recall if he actually told Arcane that he has the disease at this point, and likewise why he wanted Swamp Thing's blood, or if that happened later. I know that's incredibly sloppy of me, but I guarantee you that it did not really affect the story in any capacity. There was no suspense or mystery about it, it barely even killed a little time. It was basically admitted right at the start, so there you go anyway.

That came to mind because Arcane has a hard time verifying the guy's identity and story. He goes so far as to check a wineglass for fingerprints, only to discover that Parnell had his fingerprints removed! That's pretty ... cool.

Arcane also calls in a friend from evil scientist college, and they have an evil-off in Arcane's drawing room. It sort of felt like a Fry and Laurie sketch.

He even kind of looks like Fry, don't he?

Arcane manages to snag the information he wants about Parnell by trading to his classmate a few incriminating photos of powerful Congressmen. This show really can't decide how much power Arcane is supposed to wield, precisely. Throwing away a couple of Congressmen that breezily implies that it's the smallest part of his empire of influence. Frankly, that's maybe too powerful for who he is? He's a scientist, and he uses a small amount of wealth to keep Houma under his boot -- that sounds about right. Someone get me the phone number for the writers of the 1990-1993 Swamp Thing late night television series, I got something to tell them! It'll be a landline.

Aware of his mysterious pal's true identity, Arcane tries to test the disease...on Graham! It's pretty hilarious as they Star Trek fight over the syringe. Graham runs away LIKE A BABY to the swamp, where he's challenged by Swamp Thing. In what turned out to be a pretty clever series of events, it appears that Arcane's attempt to infect Graham was merely a stunt to generate in him real fear, so as to be a more effective lure for Swamp Thing! Sucker! You thought you were gonna die!

This probably didn't help.

Graham's hysterics lead Swamp Thing to Dr.Parnell's refrigerated yacht where Arcane and a bunch of his men are waiting to capture the big bog idiot. To protect himself from Swamp Thing's excoriations -- Arcane has led Parnell to believe that Swamp Thing is a missing link type creature, "Like Bigfoot" -- Arcane shoots out the voicebox from the big pile of garden hoses. Also pretending to be an environmental activist at this point, Arcane insists that he was protecting the doctor and his men from "the monster's venom sacs." I don't know why that made me laugh.

Swamp Thing is placed in a cold chamber, helpless before Arcane's ministrations. The Doctor is excited to finally have a cure, and Graham is getting so fucking drunk it is awesome. It's his best day! His boss apologized for scaring him, he got to be helpful, he even got praised! Graham's best day!

Swamp-o uses the power of reverse film to heal his wounds, and then gets to have a nice chat with the doctor in a scene which is indistinguishable from The Shape of Water, look:



Um, so, this has gone on longer than these things usually do, and it's not like there's a lot happening in this episode, so lemme blow through the rest: Swamp Thing breaks free and goes full Dolemite, just straight knocking dudes all hell of over the place. The doctor tries to help him escape and is shot by one of Arcane's men. Arcane gets some of the doctor's blood on him, so maybe Arcane has the super virus now? It takes ten years to show up, and he didn't have any open wounds, so who cares but anyway that was played off like they were ever going to mention it ever again.

Swamp Thing guides Parnell to the swamp, where he gets an epilogue and dies, and probably bled all over everything so that's it for Universal Studios. Also, was this an HIV metaphor? Too late to ask now, I guess...

Let's go out on a shot of Drunk Graham!

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