Wednesday, November 23, 2016

GONE & FORGOTTEN : ON HIATUS

Hey folks! If you've been following this blog for a few years, you know that I usually prepare a big stock of daily December content in advance, to see us into the New Year while I work on new content.

This year, I'm going to shut down a little early -- today, in fact -- and have the site go dark through the end of the year. This is largely so that I can prepare even bigger and more content for 2017, as well as announce some outside projects.

I hate to do this. Since I revived the site in 2013, I've kept new content coming in without missing a single day. Hopefully the new content going forward will make up for a five/six week hiatus.

In the meantime, you can always keep up with some of my Tumblr blogs:

You can, of course, also find Your Humble Editor on Twitter, and my artwork over at Tumblr or Instragram.

Lastly, if you'd like to help support this site and all my other assorted projects, you can always contribute to my Patreon account for a mere dollar a month. This gives you access to each month's Gone&Forgotten content in advance, as well as an exclusive digital sketchbook for patrons only, and additional secret stuff I share as they pop up. 

Thanks folks, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season leading into a significantly better year than 2016 was for most of us.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: POISONOUS

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 like to call "Is It Swamp Thing I Said?" or...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
A man-shaped heap of pencil shavings and coffee grounds does the hard work you're too delicate to handle. 
Season One / Episode Ten : Poisonous

In which the writers sort-of cribbed from a Rick Veitch story.



You may remember the issue of Veitch's Swamp Thing in which TV Exec Roy Raymond and Congo Bill's former pal Janu the Jungle Boy are trapped in a speeding limousine by an insane swamp monster. It's a good'un, but it doesn't influence this episode much except for the sleazy reality show television personality trying to get evidence of a swamp monster.

The cast for the made-for-TV version of Jurassic Park.

This is Ian James, a fourteen-karat schmuck who introduces invasive species into natural habitats in order to spice up his nature programs. This is exactly what happened at Jurassic Park. In this specific case, he's introducing highly poisonous frogs into the swamp, letting 'em kill an alligator to prove a point, and planning to get the whole thing on tape.

He's assisted by his mewling factotum Yuri, who is reluctant to help. Why bring him along, then? Yuri's whole job is to dump a box of frogs on a dead alligator. That's something you don't really have to delegate.

Poisonous frogs don't want to be fed ... they want to HUNT!

Ian James and Yuri end up visiting the Kipp household. Tressa turns out to be a fan of this shitty Steve Irwin. More than that, she's legit hot for the dude, owing to her laser-guided crap taste in men.

You'd forgive the episode for returning ONCE FUCKING AGAIN to the "Tressa can't get laid" storyline, if only it didn't take up so much space in this episode. There's so much dead, pointless screen time dedicated to Tressa being awful at seeming interested in a human being. Hours. Hundreds of hours. A lifetime. It continues now and will outlive the sun. HOURS, I TELL YOU.

Thursday Sexual Frustration and Casserole Night at the Kipp household.

So much time is spent on Ian James' over-aggressive come-ons that the entire episode seems like a stealth pilot for a show about nature programming and sexual inappropriateness.

The closest thing this episode has to a hero is studio nudnik Mike Steinmen, James' immediate superior who spends a lot of time angrily challenging the naturalist's expense account. THIS IS GREAT TELEVISION. Meanwhile Swamp Thing saw some frogs.

I can't believe they end up making you want to root for this guy.

The frogs are supposed to be the ticking clock of this episode, you know? You're familiar with the idea, I'm sure. A movie or show has got something bad that will happen after so much time has passed, and the heroes -- whether they're aware of the danger or not -- have to somehow resolve the problem before the timer runs out. Easy peasy. The Swamp Thing writers are unaware of this technique. The frogs just sit around waiting for the go-ahead to be invasive and dangerous.

They don't really get to, since Swamp Thing -- who, it turns out, can control the weather and the temperature of water -- boils the swamp water in which the frogs live, and they all die in the same three-foot radius where they were deposited earlier. I think they're probably still woefully poisonous, and a few more alligators are gonna die.

Aw no, you poor little guys!

There aren't a whole lot of high points to this episode; Ian James almost redeems himself by braining Will with a tree branch, Will exhibits some laughably incompetent guitar strumming in the episode, and Swamp Thing actually gets to use the line "How dare you bring your evil here?" Yeah man, didn't you hear him earlier! DON'T bring your evil here! DON'T. He couldn't be more clear.

Outside of that. there are only low points, This while episode was dragging a muffler from minute one. The entire romantic subplot between James and Tressa ends up resembling a sexual harassment seminar training film, while the second subplot of Ian James acquiring photographic proof of Swamp Thing's existence comes so late in the episode as to be irrelevant. When the tapes turn out to have been slimed in some capacity, it doesn't resonate on any level because the audience didn't have time to really process the threat.

This is like the punchline ending to a Meatballs sequel.

I don't know how to say this without it sounding particularly cruel but -- this was a substandard episode even for Swamp Thing. Never venture outside without Anton Arcane ever again, USA Network's 90's era Swamp Thing television series. You'll just disappoint us all.


"I don't CARE if it's the top trending genre on PornHub, I'm your stepmother and that's gross!" 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

P-S-Eh? : MEET THE MAN WHO DRAWS SPEED CENTAUR

When it says "Uncle Joe," does it mean "Stalin?"
I featured Speed Centaur - a crimefighting centaur who, when not battling evil or exploring strange, time-tossed worlds, disguised himself as a common horse by way of a rubber mask he wore over his upper body - in The League of Regrettable Superheroes because ... well, he was a crimefighting centaur. I don't really need to elaborate overmuch on that. Surprisingly, even as the horsey hero shared a name with the company which published him, Centaur Pub. thought they might've had something of a franchise player in the character. A relatively lengthy - and snooze-filled, if I might say - profile of his creator, Martin Kildale, seems to be part of the larger package.

What we've learned about Martin Kildale: He played baseball but wishes he could play football, he can't even afford to go to Mexico, and he lives in a world full of people who simply can't understand someone going to a bookstore just to buy old books. Martin Kildale seems to have been born into a very peculiar and dismal level of Hell ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: THE PROMETHEUS PARABOLA

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 like to call "Fawk Swamp Thing" or...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
A man-shaped heap of pencil shavings and coffee grounds does the hard work you're too delicate to handle. 
Season One / Episode Two : The Prometheus Parabola

In which it gets funky in here.


This is a really great episode of Swamp Thing provided that you have an explosive orgasm every time someone says the word "Parabola."

The hook of this episode is that it features a guest appearance by wrestling great Terry Funk, playing the role of J.J.Dax, a man intent on avenging his brother's death by assassinating Anton Arcane.

Terry Funk, shown here selling bibles door to door in distbowl-era America.

This all hinges on Arcane's apparent attempted theft of J.J.'s brother's invention, the Prometheus Parabola.  If you're wondering what the Prometheus Parabola does, besides making my fingers hurt when I try to type it, is it causes winds to happen. The terrible power of the Prometheus Parabola is released at the beginning of the episode, winding its way through the swamps and knocking over what is clearly a rubber fern.

Still, the Prometheus Parabola is dangerous enough that it threatens to destroy the swamp. I'm not even sure that you can destroy a swamp, not without being a major American industrial waste disposal agency.

Graham and Arcane, line-dancing.

One of the odder elements of the episode is that Funk is clearly being dubbed, only I can't tell if they're dubbing him with someone else's voice or just having Funk dub himself. Whoever's doing it is clearly trying to hide an accent, and also seriously cannot act, so I'm saying it's Funk himself. Still, it was a really weird choice. Why wouldn't you just have the guy play someone with an incredibly absurd Texas accent?

"Dax" is introduced by way of one of those lousy subplots where they bother trying to give Tressa a romantic life. I'm glad that they have some degree of commitment to their actors -- nobody gets fired as long as they were less annoying than Jim Kipp, seems to be the philosophy -- but there is literally no reason for Tressa to be involved with this show at all, she serves no function. All she's done recently is draw in "Doc" as an even worse ancillary character, and sometimes try to get plowed.

"Is the horse joining the cast? Fine, I'll bone the horse."

Waiting for her blind date (a man with the very made-for-TV rich guy name of "Malcolm Eddington"), Tressa is surprised to see Terry Funk in a cheap off-the-rack suit come riding up on his horse. Let's be fair to Tressa, I would also be shocked to see that and, to further support her decisions, I also would not like to get shtupped by Terry Funk. He does not seem like a gentle lover.

He's also not a gentle houseguest. Apparently having waylaid Malcolm Eddington (pfffffffff that name), he kind of invades the house and shoots the old Doc, who has swung by because he's an infernal busybody. J.J.Dax is now my favorite character on the show. Four more bullets and he could get the cast down to fighting trim.

Yay!

We learn, as he holds the Kipp clan hostage, that he's seeking revenge against Arcane for having stolen the Prometheus Parabola and for having killed its inventor, Dax's brother Dory. That's what they call Kayfabe, or Smarking, or a Hurricanrana, or whatever. I don't know, I only watch Triple-L Lucha Libre.

From there, I can give you your choice of further highlights of this episode:

Option number one: Handcuffed together, Abigail has to drag Doc by his wounded shoulder over to a phone and call for help. This, naturally, exceeds the functions of Abigail's brain, and she basically just cries and freaks out and picks up the phone like no one taught her how to use fingers. This is standard operating procedure for this lady, I can't even.

Option number two: Dax and Arcane (and a million of Arcane's hirelings) enjoy an insane chase scene which ends in a massive shoot 'em up at the Kipp house. The damn thing is practically shredded by bullets, although I'm pretty sure it'll be fine by the next episode. In any case, this whole thing also involves Chapman in a leather jacket straight outta Renegade, and a chase scene involving both a motorcycle and a horse. Also, Funk shouting the line "Run you little weasel!" which is a pretty good line for Terry Funk to deliver. Also "Dusty Sucks Eggs."

This guy hates weasels.

Or, your last option: The big fight ends at the docks, where we learn that Dax has stashed his brother's Prometheus Parabola in his saddlebags, explaining (sort of) why he gets around on a horse. Now, despite having only ever created dangerous wind, much like everything on the menu at Chipotle, it turns out that the Prometheus Parabola is also a MASSIVE BOMB THING. This leads to Funk's best line, right before he gets blown up: "You've always wanted my brother's Parabola, now you're gonna get it!" Yep, congratulations, you got the parabola. That's what we're all here for.

At the end of the episode, Swamp Thing gets a little contradictory. Having saved Arcane's life (not from the bomb, but rather from drowning, as Arcane can't swim), he tells the shocked villain "If I'm going to kill you, it will be by my own hands at my own time. And it will be for a better reason than a vendetta." Dude, that is literally why you want to kill him. All you got is vendetta.

Also, in this episode, Arcane got all Lorenzo Lamas in Renegade at one point.

But then, disappearing beneath the swamp waters in his very stock-footagey way, Swamp Thing does a v/o paraphrasing that Gandhi line about an eye for an eye making the whole world blind. That's weaksauce moralizing, Swamp Thing, this guy has straight-up raped, murdered, mutated and tried a thousand different ways to wreck everyone's lives. And that's not even to mention that he stole ... the Prometheus Parabola!

I thought that would sound dramatic. It does not. It sounds stupid.

J.J.Dax discreetly hauling Tressa Kipp around by the arm while two guys discuss a trunk.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

TRULY GONE & FORGOTTEN : LADY FAIRPLAY

"Come on down, we're just off Exit 231 on I-55 by the Wendy's"


There’s a lot to like about Lady Fairplay, a character who sounds like she came from the Neightborhood of Make-Believe and dresses like the mascot of a Midwestern furniture outlet chain. “You won’t believe our fair, fair, fair prices! Free hot dogs for the kids!” ::trolley goes by *ding ding*::

It must be ... The Swish!
“At the request of the brilliant scientist, Professor Amazo, Mary Lee, modest young school teacher, undergoes an experiment which transforms her into a slim, beautiful creature with unlimited energetic powers. Seeking an outlet for these unnatural changes, Mary assumes the role of Lady Fairplay, goddess of chastisement and dreaded foe of the underworld”

That is officially a tall order, PLUS it sounds like it was written by a guy who gets turned on by horses, but she nonetheless pulls it off with some aplomb. Schoolteacher Mary Lee fits into the tried-and-true Superman mold, masquerading as a meek and timid character during the day until trouble calls, and then dashing off to battle injustice in a costumed identity. The big difference is that Lady Fairplay endangers children along the way!

In her debut in Bang-Up Comics No.1 (1941), in the middle of a sedate school day, Lee overhears a passing police radio regarding a car in pursuit of crooks. Being able to hear radio broadcasts is a pretty good power, particularly in the Golden Age where it certainly wasn’t as common as flying or super-strength or what-have-you, and also it must have been hell on her students trying to whisper, frig or drink rubbing alcohol in the back row. I went to a tough school.

That's unfortunate if your foe can only be defeated by putting a lasagna pan in overnight to soak.

While her students dismiss Ms.Lee as a timid little mouse afraid of … another larger mouse, I guess, I didn’t plan this sentence out completely before I started it … she’s actually excitedly leaping into battle. But not without appointing a student monitor for her class! That poor kid’s gonna get eaten alive.

In a flash, Lady Fairplay is in his delightfully ridiculous costume and hauling ass in her souped-up science jalopy. This is another gift of Professor Amazo’s, a car “equipped with everything but the kitchen sink.” By this she means “binoculars,” which she has to use despite being about to hear radio waves. Getting telescopic vision would’ve been asking for too much, I suppose.

In fact, Fairplay’s powers are a mass of contradictions. Before hopping in her car, she proves to be able to move so quickly that no one can see her, even in that get-up.  She’s also strong enough to leap up to a plane immediately after takeoff and SHAKE IT AROUND IN MID-AIR. I know literally nothing about Physics, so I agree that this is a possible thing for what appears to be a woman who weighs about 120 pounds.

Lady Fairplay’s a pretty good character, particularly since I don’t know of too many heroes who stash an ermine coat and a tiara away somewhere before hopping into battle. I can’t even imagine where she keeps them, in a steamer trunk in the teacher’s lounge? And where does she park that car while she’s at school. A character who leaves as much mystery as she solves, that seems absolutely … fair! Ha! I did it!

HOW DOES THIS EVEN WORK?


Thursday, November 3, 2016

TRULY GONE & FORGOTTEN : THE MENACE

"Oy vey"

The Menace is one of those poor bastards who simply never had a chance to make it. Appearing in three different titles for a single appearance only, it was impossible to create any sort of fan-following or – for that matter – to even know where to find the guy in the first place.

Besides distribution and consistency, the other problem plaguing the Menace was one of consistency. There’s a lot of telling rather than showing going on in the scant three tales which comprise the Menace Trilogy (part of the Not-Shared-With-Anyone Cinematic Universe), and the stories they tell are all a little different.

"...I think so, anyway, I can't see shit out of this mask."
David Temple, the alternate identity of the Menace, is billed as a horror-film star, known the wide-world over … as himself and his own secret identity. “Better known to millions of movie goers as The Menace,” explains one caption, “[Temple] uses his gruesome movie disguises to track down the denizens of the underworld!”

Thing is, he doesn’t really do that. Rather, the Menace is unceremoniously dragged into every one of his adventures, including his origin tale in which he … is not better known to millions of moviegoers as anything. In fact, he’s a hard-drinking fiction writer employed by a major newspaper to contribute to their Fiction section. I didn’t realize newspapers used to have fiction sections, because we’ve always called them “Politics sections” wokka wokka wokka hey folks ::confetti cannon fired directly into my head at point blank range::

The career path is laid out like this: Temple was a fiction writer, wrote something so good that it sent Nazis off hunting sunken treasure, then they didn’t find it and he got a job as a horror star. Checking my notes, I can see that the math is perfectly correct, let’s move on.

Slightly.
“His other self,” as it’s referred to on one occasion, is apparently meant to be Temple in one of his famous movie disguises, a terrifying face that sends shivers down the spine. It is, to be more direct about it, a bandana with a skull face printed on it. Dudes wore those at Slipknot concerts. Why not just wear a bowtie that looks like a bat, it’s about as terrifying.

Despite having not much in the way of skills or abilities or a tailor, the Menace still finds himself roped into adventures, including one with the FBI to beat the tar out of Axis spies slipping across the Mexican border. THAT’S WHY WE MUST BUILD A WALL! Other than that, there was that thing where he made some Nazis hunt for fictional gold and another time when his dumb fiancĂ©e got in a rocket ship with a bunch of strangers and got held for ransom on the Moon (fake moon, but still).

The Menace also doesn’t boast any particular powers, even including makeup skills derived from his horror career. To be blunt about it, I have no idea why he’s even a movie actor, as it only plays into the character in the fashion that all of the cast and crew with which he works hates his guts. See, if I were writing this, I would have just made it a strip about the gaffer pissing in Temple’s coffee between takes.

Sometimes I approach these articles with the question of whether a character seems to call for a revival or not, and with the Menace it is difficult to say. There’s nothing inherently intriguing about him past a unique color palette – sky blue and lemon yellow aren’t your traditional crime-fighting togs – but, with that in mind, there’s all the room in the world to give the guy some relevant background. I say a buncha creators should pick him up and try to do something of value with him, what the hey, let’s pass the Menace around and see who can make him work.

And now, to proofread this article to make sure I didn’t call him “Dennis”…

Because you barely have any adventures as it is.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

SUPERMAN V BATMAN : BATMAN AND ROBIN, MEDIEVAL* BANDITS

This is the DC Universe version of Pumpkin Chuckin'

Here we are, November, the month during the end of which Americans celebrate their Thanksgiving. Why, it’s the perfect time to relay the tale of the time Batman and Superman went back to pilgrim times and Batman got accused of being a witch and then they both fought in the Revolutionary War because history isn’t the strongest point among comic book writers. Or, rather, it WOULD be the perfect time had I not been something of an idiot and written that very thing all the way back at the beginning of the year or thereabouts. I clearly need one of those one-year planners.

Or just let them die under the coal...
Instead, let’s enjoy another time travel jaunt featuring Batman and Superman and, for bonus points in the lightning round, Batman’s irresponsibly employed sidekick Robin AND which ALSO sees Batman getting tied to a stake at one point. If this keeps happening, the guy’s gonna start to enjoy it.

Wayyy back in World’s Finest Comics vol.1 No.132 (March 1963, “Batman and Robin, Medieval* Bandits”), Batman and Robin go missing from modern day Gotham City by way of a time travel expedition gone wrong. They used to do this all the time, travelling into the past with the assistance of Batman’s scientist pal Dr.Carter Nichols and his ability to send people through time using hypnosis. This is perfectly on-brand for the Caped Crusader whose famous oath – “Criminals are scattered throughout time and I must adopt a disguise which I’ll use as I get hypnotized in a weirdo’s basement laboratory” (Detective Comics vol.1 No.27) – presaged these very same adventures.

In this instance, Batman and Robin fail to return from one of their expeditions through the time barrier and, fearing the worst, Dr.Nichols puts out an alert on the radio for Superman’s assistance. In a story which thrives on moments as much as it does on the whole narrative, this VERY FIRST PANEL of the comic gives us one of the most memorable; hearing the broadcast over the office radio at the Daily Planet, Clark reacts by visibly shaking all over like a one-man earthquake, in full view of Lois Lane. If your goal is to hide your identity, try not responding immediately when someone goes “Hey Superman!”

Clark, you roaring imbecile.
Dr.Nichols explains that the Dynamic Duo are well-overdue in returning from Renaissance* Italy, and asks Superman to bring them a “Time Box” which will immediately return them to the present. Then Superman flies through time to do that. Why he can’t just fly back through time with Batman and Robin, I dunno, but more to the point it seems kind of dicky to just fly through the time barrier when you’re standing right in front of a guy who’s dedicated his life to inventing time travel. “I’ve endured poverty, loneliness, and the mockery of my peers, Superman, but if I can just prove that even limited range time travel is possible then it will all be w-“ “EXCUSE ME! (flies to the age of dinosaurs) HI I’M BACK”

In Renaissance* Italy, Batman and Robin are tied to stakes and are in danger of being executed by a giant robot that looks like a Gladiator. The robot is operated from the inside by two very small men (therefore making it more of a pocket-sized Jaeger, I suppose), wielding a giant robot trident, and maybe probably it would have been easier to just stab Batman and Robin with a knife. I mean, the time saved in robot maintenance alone would more than make up for any knife-sharpening expense.

Whoever invented those tiny men, tho, that's the real genius.

Superman frees his pals and then sees them off to the woods, where Batman muses about how he maybe ought to retire and tend to his race horses, then disappears with a big group of bandits. Of these two clues, it’s the race horses that makes Superman suspicious. HE RAN OFF WITH BANDITS, SUPERMAN. BATMAN HATES CRIME. BANDITS MAKE CRIME. This is easy math. You don’t need horses.

"By the way, Robin, did I mention..."
But Superman remembers that Bruce Wayne doesn’t own any racehorses, and thereby deduces that this is a fake crime-type Batman. Hey Superman, maybe Batman just bought those racehorses. Maybe he was excited about them and couldn’t find an organic way to slide them into the conversation, but really wanted you to know about them. Maybe he just wanted to share.

What turns out to be the real case is that two modern-day crooks – Denny Kale and Shorty Biggs (A character I’m sure I’ve seen before in some Batman comics, because I distinctly remember a short bald man wearing a Robin costume, and I don’t just mean the guy I identified at my trial) coldcock Batman and Robin in the present, steal a time machine Batman happened to have in his pocket, and … and disguise themselves as Batman and Robin in order to rob the Medicis. Hold on, let me check my notes. That can’t be right.

From the way they look like they're dancing, I'm
assuming it's aerosolized MDMA.
The wrap-up to the story involves Batman and Robin joining Superman in the past to fight Renaissance* bandits (they paint AND steal!) and the two guys who dressed up as them. Along the way, Kale has the bandits’ alchemist change a tiny pebble of kryptonite which he brought to the past into a HUGE BOULDER of kryptonite and Superman is now dead, sorry. By the way, if they had an alchemist, WHY STEAL ANYTHING? Just make a small piece of gold big like he did with the kryptonite, jesus, do I have to think of everything?

The World’s Finest team defeat the balding baddies and, fortunately, also manage to give them amnesia along the way. “Accidentally,” as it were, “fortuitously.” That’s the official story. Maybe they just beat them until they got brain damage, that’s my take on it.

The final panel of the adventure shows Batman using Professor Nichols’ time-box to travel back to the present day, Superman included, which is nice and all but Superman CAN fly through time, you know? That he doesn’t do it here just makes it more insulting that he did it right in front of Nichols in the first place. Anyway, it’s nice that Batman can get back to the racehorses that I’m sure he actually has and which are probably quite nice, thank you.

I forgot to mention that Batman invents a DaVinci-inspired Bat-Glider, which should have been my thesis statement.
*For certain definitions of "Medieval" and "Renaissance"

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: TREMORS OF THE HEART

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 like to call "Swamp Thing About Space Dude" or...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
A man-shaped heap of pencil shavings and coffee grounds does the hard work you're too delicate to handle. 
Season One / Episode Eight : Tremors of the Heart

In which everyone gets the shakes.



This episode was a real feather in the collective caps of the writer's room, I'm sure. Someone pitched a story about an earthquake, and somebody else pitched a story about Arcane getting his horn on, and then everything got real quiet as they tried to figure out what you would call a story containing such apparent contradictions. "How about..." spoke up one timid, uncertain voice from the back of the room, "Tremors ... of the Heart!" Confetti, balloons, and congratulations to that writer who grew up to be Hillary Clinton, 45th president of the United States of America, or close enough. Dreams do come true.

In any case, the basic premise of the episode is that Arcane taps into the center of the Earth in order to cause an Earthquake Machine, which is a thing Wile E.Coyote used to have, I think. Its called The Magma Pulse Generator which, coincidentally, is what they used to call me when I sang the blues.

A pivotal scene from Stanley Kubrick's 2001.

The artificial earthquakes are having the effect of draining the swamp and rapidly eroding the coastline. Luckily, this is a work of fiction and such a thing could certainly never happen in the real-world Louisiana (knock on wood and also don't read any newspaper from the last twenty years). Endangering the swamp means that Swamp Thing is on the case, which leads Durock to utter one of the least illuminating lines in this show's often utterly opaque history: "This is not a normal movement of the Earth. Something is forcing it to move!" Thanks Swamp Thing.

Meanwhile, Arcane is doing the things he does best: sassin' and creepin'. He starts off with giving General Sunderland, his unseen employer, the royal business over what appears to be a TRS-80 (maybe Arcane is one of the Whiz Kids all grown up). It's always entertaining to watch Chapman turn on the sneer, but he's doing it to a guy whose voice sounds a little like if a Simon game could talk, so it somehow always seems like he's losing.

Arcane's all-girl engineering squad, a sort-of Hill's Angels but with Popular Science subscriptions.

Running the day-to-day administration of the Magma Pulse Generator is SANDAHL BERGMAN! And she's still kind of super hot! And also she kind of still can't act, but I forgive her, because she was Valeria in Conan the Barbarian and that movie is pure perfection. Please keep in mind that I have watched at least half of the episodes of Swamp Thing at this point, and my taste in entertainment should rightly be considered suspect.

Bergman's Sienna is a tough, no-nonsense, strong-willed lady villain-type who runs a legion of all-female engineers, overseeing the Earthquake machine. The gyno-gineers never really focus in the plot or get anything like a closeup, so you can forget that part of your Fantasy File. If this were a 1960's beach romp, the Earthquake Machine would be an excuse to watch boobs jiggle in extreme closeup.

It's "Desk Set" but with knives.

Arcane and Sienna have a Sam-and-Diane kind of relationship, except they're also murderers and want to destroy the world. Hot. Sienna also proves to be the only woman in existence who responds positively to Arcane's creep vibes, or at least she's seriously down to bone. Please pretend I said that in a classier way.

Meanwhile, back in the Kipp side of the show, a turgid and pointless scene between Tressa, Doc and Will reveals a shocking reality of the show. I think -- and this is just speculation on my part -- that the writers intended that the Kipp family (and Doc and Abigail) should be some sort of One Tree Hill-style domestic/romantic light drama. There's really no other explanation as to why so much time is given over to the secondary characters and their incredibly uneventful, dull-as-dishwater lives, except that the writers thought they were building a very 90s sort of Fox/CW drama out of their scenes.

"So ... why are we even part of this thing, again? No wrong answers, guys, we're just brainstorming here..."

This is a pretty good premise for a show, really. An interminable 90s-era talker surrounding a core group of characters whose inane antics are periodically interrupted by monsters, earthquakes, and battles of ancient eldritch magic. This is a very good idea for a show, but that is not what this show is. This is not that show.

What DOES work on Swamp Thing is the interaction between Durock as Swamp Thing and Chapman as Arcane, which makes it exceptionally puzzling that the second season seems to want to split them up as much as possible. They have a scene here where Swamp Thing just sort of wanders around a patch of mud for five minutes, saying nothing. Not to cast aspersions, but I wonder if he was high.

Spomone left a flaming bag of poop on the Kipps' front doorstep and Abigail adopted it, probably. 

What passes for the second act of this episode is Swamp Thing is once again incapable of leaving the swamp without his powers -- nay, his very life! -- fading out. This hasn't been a problem for a while, but it's back now -- and doesn't really factor into anything. He basically gets back to the swamp before too much time passes. So. Thanks for mentioning it.

On Arcane's side, he's busy trying to get all Red Shoes Diary on Sienna. They do end up dry-humping on a dinner table which, you know, thank you for that USA Network's 90s-era Swamp Thing television series, it was unwatchable. Arcane does have a very charming speech to his frozen wife Tatiana before his tries to stick his schlong up Sienna. "I have to bone, my sweet,"he says. "I have got to get my wick slicked up." Those were his exact words. I swear.

C'mon guys, we have to eat there.
Earthquakes are now popping up willy-nilly in the swamp, which results in Tressa being trapped under a rotting pier and in danger of drowning. That's the good news. The bad news is that Abbie comes to save her, and that means these two idiots have to yell and cry and spit water for an inordinate amount of time. These episodes only run about 22 minutes, and I'm positive that the scenes of Abbie and Tressa frustratingly not-drowning goes on for forty-seven hours.

This is like the trash compactor scene in Star Wars except I'm rooting for the trash compactor.
So, where were we? Oh yeah, Sienna turns out to be an assassin and saboteur, on the payroll of Arcane's scientific rival Jason Woodrue. She also tries to blow up the Magma Pulse Generator, although it's Swamp Thing who takes care of that. Then there's a shirtless knife fight and Sienna dies and I dunno.

Oh, and it ends with Swamp  Thing sinking below the swamp water and reminding us, via voiceover, that he needs sunlight to live. Then he disappears beneath the sunless waves. Swamp Thing RIP, "He never listened to his own voiceover." A fitting eulogy.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

TRULY GONE & FORGOTTEN : THE BLACK ORCHID(S)

"No thank you, I don't smoke."

The most prominent character to boast the moniker of The Black Orchid still thrives these days, in one form or another, having appeared as a mysterious superhero in the Seventies and spending some time as a woo-woo talking tree spirit monster thing in a Vertigo title later on. Me, I prefer that time she was in the Super Friends comic, because she looked exactly like a tulip bulb with arms.

She maced the dude.
At least two other female crimefighters used the handle prior to DC locking it down. No particularly common thread tied them together -- different costumes, different costume colors, different types of supporting casts, different calling cards, etc. Just the name united these two flowery florid crimefighters...

The Black Orchid who appeared in the monochrome red(-and-pink) pages of Tops Comics vol.1 No.2000 (wow!) from the excitingly-named Consolidated Book Publishers was "glamorous" Diana Dawn, a secretary to the district attorney and possessor of a magic ring of severely limited potential.

While other magic rings may have allowed its wearers to fly, shoot force beams, turn invisible or what-have-you, Diana's mysterious magic ring -- shat smoke. "Black vapors" would emerge from the ring at Diana's command, and I imagine these being the same thing as cartoon stink lines which you might see emanating from an outhouse in a Beetle Bailey cartoon.

Diana could have used a few more powers, since she barely seems to get out of her adventures with her clothes intact. Albert and Florence Magarian, the strip's creators, were apparently of the mind that a dishabelle damsel in distress would move volumes. In each of the two episodes which described the arc of her career, Black Orchid managed to lose her jacket and her clothes (grabbed by the villainous "Dr.Arso," lol, in one case and burned from her body in another). This left her fighting crime an spewing smoke in her skivvies. Frankly, this is a burlesque act worth reviving -- a stripping woman in a domino mask surrounded by smoke bombs. It's a fire hazard, but it would pack the house.


"While you're out, could you pick up a case of crumbling skyscrapers and some Pepsi?"

Meanwhile, the Black Orchid who appeared in All-new Short Story Comics No.2 was part of a working pair of crimefighters. Private Eye Rocky Ford and his assistant Judy Allen - names which wouldn't sound out of place if they were announced as guest panelists on What's My Line? -- both maintain superheroic alter egos. The thing is --- neither of them knows that the other is doing it!

"It's the safe, reasonable sign
of the Black Orchid!"
Rocky is The Scarlet Nemesis, a red-and-yellow crimefighter with a miner's lamp built into his mask. The overall effect is that of a hot dog with mustard which doubles as a lighthouse. His other powers include hitting dudes and staying awake after dudes hit him.

Judy boasts more style as The Black Orchid, in a fetching all-black figure-hugger and indigo cape. She also boasts a signature calling card - a black orchid tied to a knife that she just straight throws at dudes like right next to their faces and hands and stuff. I feel like she must carry a lot of knives and orchids with her all the time. Maybe she keeps them in the car.

In their sole adventure, Nemesis and Orchid fight a bird-crazed character called Jim Crow who loves birds and is willing to destroy whole cities so that the pigeon can live there in peace. Yo, man, the pigeons live there because people give them bread an stuff. Also your name is racist af.

Judith manages to get tied up on the splash panel and knocked unconscious halfway through the story, but she's still cooler than Rocky in either of his identities. Black is both slimming and looks better on crimefighters than yellow and orange. This is why Batman has like fourteen movies to Captain Marvel's none-so-far.

Lack of communication is the number one reason relationships fail.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

MAD AD : THE WORLD OF MAKE-BELIEVE

Is it me or does that kid kinda look like a juvenile John Cleese?
Kids love to make-believe, and comics love to help them out with clever costumes to complete the gaps in their imagination. Who wouldn't want to dress like an air warden and experience all the fun of shouting "SHUT OFF THAT GODDAMN LIGHT, MISTER DENNISON, UNLESS YOU WANT THE JAPS TO BLAST YOUR PETUNIA BED TO ALL GOSH AND HELL!" through a neighbor's window?

An enterprising young cosplayer could enjoy not only the Captain Gallant-inspired Foreign Legion get up, but by combining it with the cowboy belt, smarty-pants patches and magic pixie cigarettes, he or she could also dress up as "early-stage post-Armageddon desert warrior."

All I have to say about the above is that is pretty much the opposite of fuckin' invisible.

What in the world would your friends even be raving about? The helmet's invisible, they can't see it!

And lastly, a wonderful idea until you remember that it's all cardstock and it'd all fall over everytime someone farted:


Popular Posts