Friday, May 26, 2017

THE NOWHERE-NEAR COMPLETE GUIDE TO ADVERTISING MASCOT SUPERHEROES: FILTH AND TRASH (part 1)

Is there any greater superhero than ... the Earth? Yes, there are many, and I don't even know what I mean by that question. Still, relatively youthful eco-friendly services have chosen to make superheroes their hallmark since, practically, the beginning. Here's a few heroes who reduce, re-use, and recycle ... except I'm not bothering with Captain Planet, because you already know that guy.


Recycle Man (Pacific Steel and Recycling)
Just a hop, skip, jump and six-hour drive from my own stamping grounds, Spokane has their own pocket superhero set, at a moment's notice, to sort bins. Recycle Man has achieved some level of success and popularity as the adjunct-mascot to the Spokane Chiefs hockey team and Spokane Indians baseball team, which inadvertently underlines a peculiar lack of imagination in Spokane's sports-team-naming arena.

Recyclone (Dunn County, WI, Solid Waste Division)
Totally shutting down the competition in the "best name for a recycling-based superhero" department, is Recyclone, whose name was the result of a contest in which two different participants submitted the same name. It's a Thunderdome situation now to find out who gets the credit. In the meantime, Recyclone also wins the "Worst name for a sponsoring organization." Let's go, Solid Waste Division!

Since I was able to find it, here's Recycline's "origin story:

"There once was a town that had no clue how to manage their trash and recyclables. Everywhere you looked there were mounds of unwanted, discarded items.  Unfortunately, the residents had no idea there was a difference between trash and recyclables and they mixed everything together. There were apple cores in with the electronics and waxed milk cartons alongside rusty old bicycles. One day a small twister appeared causing all the unwanted materials to rise into the air.  When the dust settled, all that remained were neatly separated piles of recyclables and the masked super hero ReCyclone standing nearby.  “I’m a Force of Nature FOR Nature!” ReCyclone announced. The town looked so beautiful that from that day on residents separated their recyclables just as ReCyclone had taught them and the mounds of trash were a thing of the past!"

Sounds good, sign me up!

MaxMan (Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation)
Along the same lines as the above heroes, MaxMan is a dope in a goofy-ass spandex laugh-suit, BUT ALSO it's all for a good cause so I'll be a sport about it instead of kvetching like a mook.

MaxMan has an interview online which veers into the nihilistic. Observe:

Why are you called MaxMan?I want to help people recycle to the max.
Where do you live?I live in the Max Cave, which is underneath the Central Landfill in Johnston, Rhode Island.
Is your head shaped like a bottle, or is that a mask?That is a mask, and it weighs 10 pounds. I am a human superhero inside a costume that is made out of recycled plastic.
What kind of music do you like?Heavy Metal (recycled!) and Green Day.
What do you like to eat?Mixed greens, obviously!
Do you have a special superpower?Yes, the same power that we all possess; the power to choose to save parts of the world, all the paper, plastic, containers, metal and glass. They are all created from natural resources, and it is our duty to save them rather than to waste them. We can recycle aluminum or paper over and over again, but once you throw it in the trash, it is gone forever.
What is your mission?I am here to tell you that when you are recycling, you too are a superhero, because it is the job and challenge of every superhero to help save the world. Everything that you recycle is a little part of the world. We live in a disposable culture, but the world is not disposable.

Got real heavy at the end there, MaxMan ...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : JAGUAR(MAN)

Here come the kitty cats!
One of the weirder motifs in superhero comics is when the hero's place of work, in his or her secret identity, ends up becoming the locus for all the crime which they end up fighting. For instance, let's discuss Jaguar, the human hero of the otherwise all-funny-animal Zoot Comics*.

*And, yes, he originally appeared elsewhere -- in All-Great Comics, a misnomer if ever there was one

That cat's got something wrong with it.
Murray Mane, secret identity of the mighty Jaguar(man), is also a zookeeper. Now, you wouldn't think there's a lot of crime and evil to fight at the zoo, except for when kids pound on the glass at the penguin exhibit or a bear gets loose and mauls everyone at the corn dog stand -- but you'd be wrong! I think! Because there's only one Jaguar appearance and there's only one crime going on at the zoo!

Some crooks who've recently stolen what appears to be a baseball of "atomic radium" (I have no other idea what other kinds of radium there are, but let's assume "non-atomic" and "not-all-that-atomic" are potential variants) decide to hide the loot by hucking it into the jaguar cage at the zoo. This is their idea of a good way of getting the safely hidden in case they're searched by the cops, and also maybe a good way to give the jaguar leukemia.

Bad luck for the crooks, the jaguar in question is Ja-Go, faithful animal companion to the Jaguar(man) himself! Sorry to keep doing the "Jaguar(man)" thing, but they keep switching back and forth in the story themselves.

They have time for a whole conversational exchange.
What powers Jaguar has, I couldn't say, except for how he has a pet jaguar who kills at his command. If you don't think that's a super-power, why don't you try it? What he does have is a sort-of embarrassingly tight-fitting spotted onesie and some remarkable sense of timing.

The crooks' escape plan is complicated, to a degree (but brilliantly complete, opines the beautiful Dr.Topaze, from whom the atom(ic) radium was stolen. Then again, she somehow let a couple guys who hurl radium into jaguar cages for safe keeping steal an incredibly valuable medical material, so I don't think she's the authority on these matters).

Retrieving the radium from the cage at night -- and they're genuinely surprised to find the jaguar not in there, so somehow they had planned to get Siegfried and Roy'ed in there, I guess -- they knock out the attacking Jaguar(man) with tear gas, run to their house, get in a helicopter and fly away. But so low that they go under the bridge. Because they decided at the last moment that they'd hop on a boat. Because Jaguar(man) might catch the helicopter but not the boat. Guys? I don't know. I think this plan has holes.

Anyway, where I'm going with this is that Jaguar(man) AND Ja-Go manage to leap down from the bridge and into the cockpit of the helicopter through the spinning blades. The end, they're dead.

But no! They manage to do it, although I wouldn't suggest you try it yourself. This is pretty much the apex and ending of their careers, if for no other reason than trying that trick twice would be really pushing your luck, and also there's probably no more crimes happening at the zoo.

He fills the tedium of his days by tricking young boys into sticking their hands inside a jaguar cage.





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING : TATIANA


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 You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing


One of the longest-running teases on the show is finally resolved, more or less. Arcane's nearly deceased wife Tatiana, seen in previous episodes relaxing inside a crisper drawer, manages to come back to life. Or does she? Does she? Let me check my notes, I'll let you know in a second.

The introduction to this episode begins almost sweetly; Arcane and Tatiana, dressed to the Gs, record a toast to Arcane's upcoming scientific success a-a-a-a-and for Anton to propose. Aww. Then they make out and he tries to keep the camera on. Um. Then when she tells him to turn it off, he sneakily turns it back on a little later. I think this might be assault.

Majorly creepy remake of The Bachelor.
This fades into Anton talking with made-for-TV Jack Nicholson impersonator Graham, excited to know that his experiments to return Tatiana (Heather Thomas) to life are about to come to fruition. He activates a laser and does something with freon, as though she's a very futuristic refrigerator. Finally, he starts returning fluids to her, and, well, it worked in the home video, I guess.

The small problem with Tatiana's resurrection is that, uh, it doesn't seem to be Tatiana. She's got a gooey Southern accent, calls herself Josephine Erlenson (also Kitty Lane), and is apparently a bump-and-grind girl at a New Orleans peeler bar called The Kit Kat Club. Her act, briefly shown to the audience, involves her standing almost stock still with her butt to the crowd and a boa covering most of it, shifting from foot to foot like she's waiting for a bus. Maybe it's conceptual.

It's crazy how she was wearing strawberry lip smackers the whole time she was in suspended animation. 
Arcane can't accept this unfortunate reality, so he decides to shoot her in the skull with a laser. Couples counseling could probably have stopped that kind of behavior.

It's all futility anyway, as Graham uncovers that General Sunderland (Jacob Witkin's third role on the show) has been keeping Tatiana alive and in hiding in what appears to be a Radisson suite. Believing Arcane to have been murdered, Tatiana doesn't put much effort into escaping, even though Sunderland is thirsty as hell.

So. Here comes the good part.



ACTION ANTON ARCANE.

After Graham throws a few hundo at Kitty and has her fuck right off before Arcane decides to have her recycled for parts or something,  he and his boss invade Sunderland's office and confront him to his face. This is a birthday present for me, because it's Mark Lindsay Chapman and Jacob Whitman sassing each other back and forth, with Graham lurking in the back like a greasy, malevolent elf. It's almost as fun as a straight Durock/Chapman exchange.

The confrontation ends with Arcane being tearfully reunited with Tatiana. Unfortunately, while she's grateful to be rescued, she's horrified to learn that Arcane was working with Sunderland (just to save her life, mind you, and because he was tricked) and also is additionally horrified to watch him use a UPC scanner to melt the metal pins in Sunderland's legs and spine (that one seems less easy to explain away). This leaves Arcane, Graham and a pissed, disappointed Tatiana to leave a now-exploding building (that's some UPC scanner!) while time yet remains.

"Price check on this knee!"
However ... TIME DOES NOT YET REMAIN! Tatiana is killed in the collapsing building, leading Arcane to seek out the aid of his greatest enemy. After some tearful, cuss-filled pleading, Arcane convinces Swamp Thing to try to bring Tatiana back to life. It does. Not. Work. But it's a good scene between the two principals and adds some humanity at last to Arcane. If he's not going to be a horrible insect person, then he should at least be something of a person.

And the ending? With Tatiana forever dead, Graham tells his boss that Kitty Lane yet lives somewhere (she's shown stripping at another club) , so I guess they're going to go abduct her? Whew, a happy ending at ... a happy ending at last! That's ... that's good. I guess.

Dance for your life, Kitty.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 19 - DIVIDED THEY FALL



Micronauts vol.1 No.19 (Jul 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Ben Sean
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Yeah, we're a mess.
Pat Broderick is an artist whom I always felt I should enjoy, but whose work escapes me. There's something that's difficult to grasp about how he frames a scene. His characters are pretty stiff, although this issue appears to show off a surprising amount of fluidity in his figure work. He's pretty heavy with the rendering, and Armando Gil on inks merely doubles down on that -- but, it works? I've never enjoyed a Broderick book as much as this issue, and I've read Planet of Vampires!

We pick back up on Bug, recently having left the team in order to come to emotional grips with the recent death of his blaster-happy lady love, Jasmine. Unfortunately, while swamping around Earth's abundance of water -- the Insectivorid's most hated element and also a clear sign informing Bug, out of all the Micronauts, that the crew has landed on our world again -- Bug is captured by ... ODD JOHN!

Here's Mantlo's weird mind at work. In the idyll of Saugerties, New York, he's made a mad scientist on par with any foe of the Avengers (or at least the Defenders. Maybe the Champions). Bespectacled, wiry, decked out in overalls, sporting a mouth full of broken teeth and crazy as a bat's asshole, Odd John is a pretty intriguing twist on the crazed supervillain genre. What kind of aesthetic does a would-be world conqueror adopt when he's away from the glitz, glamour, and pressure to impress of a major metropolitan center? He looks like one of the Brothers Darryl, is what.

Capturing Bug is the cherry on Odd John's day. Turns out the old weirdo's been breeding super-insects, capable of conquering the world. At this point, I would've added "...for some reason," but we go and get a reason, via the secret origin of Odd John.

A'yo shoots! He scores!
The Micronauts have used the Endeavor's sensors to lock in on Bug's location, unfortunately pitting them in a lopsided battle against Odd John, his spray pack of mutant-making insecticide, and probably traumatic manic depression. I dunno, I'm not a doctor. Anyway, as Odd John cleans up on our pint-size paladins (that's one of mine, glad to trod the Stan the Man boards once in a while), he recounts his somewhat predictable origin: A weird kid who loved to capture and study bugs, John was made fun of by the mandatory neighborhood bullies. Reduced to bug tears by their taunts, Odd John rededicates himself to experimenting on insects. His motivation: "Ah, you who dwell in darkness could be so much greater than those who mock me --- if only evolution had given you a chance!"

Seems Odd John may have read Lovecraft, and also is real good with a mutating spray that turns insects into giant freak weirdos! In fact, he's turned the spray on Bug himself, resulting in the team's often irresponsible, fearless former thief becoming a freaked-out bug monster man! Yeah, that's why I pay my money!

Grody.

Recovering from an Acroyear punch -- A'yo continues to be my favorite Micronaut -- John releases his bug horde into the city (such as it is, this is Saugerties) to wreak all kindsa bug havoc. And just as the scene fades to black, the scattered and defeated Micronauts are due to end up pinned to Odd John's bug collection, starting with Arcturus "Space Glider is still a dumb name but at least they hardly ever use it now" Rann! Oh no!

But that's not all! After two pages of ads, Mantlo predicts the format of the Marvel movies and gives us an after-credit sequence with a surprise guest star! Ants from the site of Odd John's battle with the Micronauts carry an important message of warning to Scott Lang, a.k.a. the only-okay one of the three Ant-Mans to date. Poor middle kids, they always get the shaft. Next issue: Ant-Man! I have no way of gauging your excitement at that announcement but, judging by my own, enh. 

Lettercol fun: Everybody kind of hated Ditko's art on the Micronauts Annual. It's too depressing to post the scan, just believe me. Oh, okay ... here's two, and Al trying to pour oil on the churning water ...




Friday, May 19, 2017

FRIDAY FRENEMIES : THE LANA LANG OF 500 B.C.

I think she's switched teams, personally.

The last time we checked in on unconsummated fuck rivals Lana Lang and Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend was traipsing back through time to drug her romantic competitor insensate through the entirety of her teenage years. Well, this time, let's hop back to Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane vol.1 No.40 (April 1963) where Lana gets her own back, largely by attempting to strand Lois in the distant past and married to a stranger under false pretenses. Evensies!

We open the story with Lois rushing to the opening day of an exhibit of rare artifacts from the world of the ancient Greeks, and which is being displayed at an Applebee's basically. "The Temple of the Gods" restaurant resides in a Roman amphi ... parth ... I actually just realized I don't know what the kind of Roman building of which I'm thinking is actually called. "A Chili's" apparently, since this one is just a thematic Olive Garden or something.

The Greeks who staged the siege on Troy must have been very very small ...

Anyway, Lois is also dressed up in Roman or Greek or "Ancient of some sort" garb, which is the required dress code for this weird Bobby McGee's Conglomeration-slash-Natural History Museum situation. This will be lucky, but it's also embarrassing, since Lois' rival Lana is also there, and also wearing old-timey garb from the region in question. Don't you hate it when you show up somewhere and someone else is wearing the same toga?

Protesting a little too much for a woman wearing a cape.
Lois decides she needs to beat the embarrassment with the soothing, reassuring buzz of "a scoop." It's my belief that "a scoop" is mid-century Metropolis slang for "heroin," by the way. Anyway, it leads Lois to examine the artifacts uncovered by Lana's scientist uncle, Professor Potter, the daffy old inventor who also occasionally  helps Lois fucking merk his niece. Also hilarious here is that Potter evidently found all this ancient shit in a time capsule, meaning his time and labor investment in this is ::raspberry::

Anyway, let's get to the plot. Lois plays grab-ass with what is alleged to be -- and also fucking is -- Circe's wand, and finds herself transported to the past into ancient Greece. There, as often happens, she finds an invulnerable hero who looks like Superman (In this case, Achilles) and a romantic rival who looks just like Lana Lang (a woman calling herself Ilya, IF THAT IS HER REAL NAME which no it isn't, it's Lana).

See, Lana saw Lois disappear to ancient Greece, and decided to use the sandals of the Greek God Herm- uh... Mercury, that is ... to break through the time barrier and follow her friendly foe.  There, she adopts the disguise of Ilya and uses all sorts of glad-handing and ventriloquism to convince Lois to fall in love with Achilles and stay in the fucking past, goddamn it, and die in antiquity fucking a goon Superman. Lana remains fucking awesome.

Literally the best offer you're ever gonna get, Lois.
While Lana plays the role of friend and confidante, while secretly twisting all kinds of knives in the background, Lois develops a new rival -- Circe, the witch of the Odyssey. It's weird how all of these people knew each other. I wonder if they all went to the same small, midwestern college.

It comes down to a showdown between Lois and Circe, and Lois loses because she is nuh-ha-hot magic in any fashion. Luckily, Circe just sends Lois back to the present-day and Lana follows discreetly behind with her magic sandals. Maybe she screwed Achilles just once, or twice, while she was there. Why waste a good Superman lookalike, is what I always say.

The keenest part of the story is the ending, which wraps up all sorts of evil and inanity in a handful of panels. Lana quietly admits to her treason and, I dunno, it's deception on a grand scale if nothing else, stranding someone in the past just to steal her boyfriend. Meanwhile, the clueless ace reporter Lois wanders back to the Daily Planet offices and bores Clark with a tedious story about just another quotidian trip to the past, and then Clark shuts the whole thing down by doing that "LL" thing that the Silver Age Superman comics got daffy for in their dotage. Enjoy:





Thursday, May 18, 2017

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : ALL VILLAINS, NO VIGILANTES - MOST WANTED VOL.3

Superhero role-playing games provide some excellent mental exercise for super-hero fans. Not only given the opportunity to breathe life into their own superheroic and supervillainous creations, they gain the valuable experience of having the midwife the character through the interference, involvement and obstruction of other players. A lot of good ideas get tested by fire, that way. Mostly, though, in my experience? Everyone played some version of Wolverine.

Still, a number of those old super-hero games ended up having an impact on the consciousness of its players which was comparable to the comics they were also reading. It's almost absurd that the names "Foxbat" and "Marutukku" are as familiar to some comics readers as admittedly low-ranking obscurities like, say, The Texas Twister or Zeep the Living Sponge. Maybe higher than that. Wjatever the case, it's impressive for characters who never appeared in any medium except role-playing game sourcebooks.

(I say this knowing that both Villains & Vigilantes and Champions had comics of their own, but I don't think I'm too wrong in suggesting that the majority of folks who read those books only did so because they were fans of the games)

But time has buried many of these old characters. Like the sad toys in Pixar's Toy Story, they face nothing but the future of laying crammed on top of one another in a box in a dusty attic, masturbating each other off while waiting to be reclaimed or sold at a garage sale. You guys saw the version of Toy Story with all the mutual masturbation, didn't you? Haha, joke's on you, there isn't a version like that -- I just, one time, brought a bunch of doll hands and cocktail pickles to the theater and made it look that way for everyone sitting behind me. I made at least two girls cry.

Whatever the case, there are some primo villains floating around out there, going around unused, such as these cherry-picked selections from Fantasy Games Unlimited's Villains and Vigilantes sourcebook Most Wanted, Vol 3 (featuring art from a young Pat Zircher).

Made for knock-knock jokes...
Armada is one of those super-villains who manages to pick up an absurd amount of thematically-appropriate gear over a course of a multitude of adventures, and still it doesn't do him much good in the long run. Sixteen year-old Terry Lynn is a scuba driver who uncovers a mysterious ampule of myrrh inside a Spanish galleon, and which fucks him up immensely when he grabs a snootful of it. Incapable of walking but incredibly strong, Lynn decides to build himself an exo-skeleton out of the wood from a sunken Spanish galleon. The small cannons on his arms? He found those on a beach.

Armada's powers manifest themselves best in the water, in which -- owing to the whiskey barrel in which he now lives, eats, drinks, poops and sleeps -- he gently floats, firing buckshot from his arm cannons at people he doesn't like. Good lord, I think the man thinks he's a boat. This is a case for study

This is bullshit.
Well, there had to be one culture-appropriating goon at this years Coachella, and here he is: The Rocker! Musician Thom Perkins is another villain who finds his identity inside a fucking dumpster, retrieving a Satanic guitar from the garbage. Messing around with the guitar gives him tremendous powers including, according to the source document, the ability to cause "vibratory death." Ladies.

The Indian costume just has zeee-ro explanation, except that he's apparently in the most confrontational Village People tribute bands known to man. This is in contrast to his past, in regards to which he is described in the text as having once been a "plain and honest heavy metaller."  Cornerstones of society, those plain and honest heavy metallers.


Nospheratua, why don't you come to your senses?

Once a poor old role-playing gamer (you'll find a disproportionate number of pre-rolled player characters in these games were avid fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy and, unsurprisingly, role-playing games), Chris Bontham is transported to another world which transforms him into a knockoff vampire whose name is legally distinct from Nosferatu. This guy's got the "PH" and everything, including an extra "u" somewhere.

It's important to mention that Nopsheratua isn't a vampire, per se, but is vampire-like, in the same way that some restaurants will ask you "Is Diet Pepsi okay?" when they absolutely know that it is not, thank you.

And lastly...

King. He is a legit shark. With his own entry in a book of super-villains. Why not also a bear?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ZERO HOUR : 1994 PROMOTIONAL VIDEO ...

I had something else planned for today, but I bumped it to share with you something I'd never before heard of, despite it being a "thing" during the same period when I briefly managed a comic shop. We probably had this, but I didn't care, and rightly so ...

Anyway, during Free Comic Book Day this year, I met a man in a home-made Zero Hour t-shirt. Turns out he might be the biggest Zero Hour fan in the world, if not the only Zero Hour fan in the world (I kid, I have several copies of many issues of Zero Hour, mostly because I like drawing rude stuff on those partially-white covers).

Among the many other pieces of Zero Hour-related wisdom which he shared with me, he alerted me to the presence of a promotional Zero Hour video created and released to comic shops on VHS in 1994. And it's available on YouTube.

Now, if you read this blog and don't know what Zero Hour is ... well, first off, congratulations. Secondly, here's what it was: DC's first attempt, following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, to shore up the inconsistencies in its new universe and simplify some confusing contradictions. And, like all of the subsequent attempts to do that very same thing, it actually made it much more confusing across the board. Let's just let Hawkman be Hawkman and stop trying to explain him, already.

Actually, this is a big problem with DC, and it's alarming to think about how far back it's gone; rather than exploring and building new continuities in stories, DC will periodically have a crisis-level event and then just sort-of, you know, tell you in a caption what changed in continuity. Convergence, Infinite Crisis, Rebirth, they've all just told the reader what continuity elements have changed. I'd rather just read a good story, myself, but then I'm from a college.

Whoops, got off-topic. So, during the blitz of Zero Hour -- which DC was clearly anticipating would be its new major event -- they released the video below. Some highlights of what you'll see in this breath-taking fourteen minutes of sheer Space Ghost Coast 2 Coast-lookin' video excellence:


  • Hal Jordan's Christian Bale voice
  • Hal Jordan sassing DC creators in his Christian Bale voice like a USA Network version of Mystery Science Theater 3000
  • Dan Jurgens talking timelines like a fucking nerd
  • Mike Carlin and Dan Jurgens talking about third-tier loser villain Conduit and Jurgens trying to sound like it's really cool and Carlin talking like he's explaining how timeshares work
  • "I remember you"
  • Denny O'Neil's hobo shirt and suspenders
  • Paul Kupperberg's Herb Tarlek tie.
  • Editor Pat Garrahy kind of laughing at the word "orphan" like it's the dumbest thing you can be
  • Augustyn's about to fucking lose it
  • How much Kevin Dooley looks like the Croyde Bowder of this video
  • Hey, it's Eddie Berganza, not sexually harassing someone for once!
  • "Hah. Hah. Hah."
  • "I declare the beginning of a new era!"
It's a roller coaster ride. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 18 - CHILD EYES



Micronauts vol.1 No.18 (Jun 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Howard Chaykin/Al Milgrom
Letterer: J.Watanabe
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

The last issue of the 6-issue Chaykin/Milgrom experiment comes to an end with this episode. Right out of the gate, it improves immensely over the previous story arc. Suddenly, the layouts begin to show Chaykin's innovative application of inserts and his strong formal training, while the inks (for the most part) are restrained. The end result is Chaykin's powerful sense of layout given exceptional gravitas by Milgrom's powerful eye for solidity. Too bad it's the last outing of this duo, and after a middling story arc which seemed to bring everyone down. In retrospect, I don't think any of them wanted to do a Fantastic Four crossover in the first place...

But the Micronauts are out of that shiz and back in biz! The Endeavor pierces the Force Wall again and ends up back on Earth, although they don't realize it at first. Hey, the first time they paid a visit, it was Florida. This time, they appear to have picked some sort of cozy hamlet in upstate New York. America, a wonderful country (to visit*).

*If they let you.

Despite having died in the previous issue, Jasmine -- Bug's slightly homicidal girlfriend -- still gets a headshot in the splash panel line-up of characters, which just goes to show that what they always say is true: there are no dead roles, just dead actors.

The Micronauts have no time for toxic masculinity and its taboo against platonic male touch.

Jasmine's death provides much of the steam for this arc's launch. The allegedly heartless warrior Acroyear comforts Bug for his loss in a genuinely touching scene, just prior to Bug fucking right off. I'll be honest, guys ... I wish I had an Acroyear in my life.

 After Jasmine is buried in a very tiny grave (inside Arcturus Rann's Hibernation Chamber, the device which kept him alive during his 1,000 year journey and is probably at least partially responsible for his essence fragmenting into the Time Traveler(s) of earlier stories, which I mentioned because it seems like important foreshadowing), Bug leaves the surviving Micronauts to clear his head.

"IT'LL BLAST OUR LATS!"
Where do those other Micronauts go? Exploring, of course. And their exploration delivers them to a tiny, Gatsbian mansion in the middle of a grassy field. It looks for all intents and purposes like a doll house -- and it is -- which is underlined as we see a child hovering over the display before her. She seems delighted to find living "toys" to interact with her dolls, until Rann and Marionette flip out and kill the butler. Party foul!

He had it coming. Turns out that the kid watching all of this -- Helen, as though that information would help you in any way -- actually has crazy mental powers! She can animate her dolls and make them fight the Micronauts (and she does)! And she can fire laser blasts from her eyes! THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF. Call Professor X! He may not be able to do anything, but you can start spitballing a crossover miniseries...

There's no real explanation of Helen's powers, but this issue is really just the ramp up to the remainder of the upcoming arc, and a better story on which Chaykin can make his exit. Even the conclusion to the battle lacks any sense of urgency or import -- it's just time for Helen to come in, dinner's ready. She woulda killed the Micronauts, is my guess, so hooray for pork chop night!

The larger purpose of the episode seems to be to get Bug out on his own, so that he can be the target of the upcoming menace. Having the Micronauts encounter a random mutant in the middle of Saugerties may have mostly been engineered to play out the clock and put enough distance between the main group and Bug for his starring turn in the next couple of issues seem earned rather than declared.

Yeah, Earth sucks.

Lettercol fun: Issues ten and eleven appear to have caused all sorts of involuntary convulsions and compulsions among the readership.


Friday, May 12, 2017

THE NOWHERE-NEAR COMPLETE GUIDE TO ADVERTISING MASCOT SUPERHEROES : COMICS SHALL EAT THEIR OWN

If you're gonna sell superhero stuff, why not use ... a superhero? Because it's the thing you're trying to sell and you might create confusion in the marketplace, is why. But let's pretend I never said that and check out super-hero mascots for companies selling super-hero stuff!

Snyderman (aka "Our Superhero" - Heroes World)
The full-page toy ads which ran through many superhero comics in the 1970s -- almost invariably featuring art as provided by the students at Joe Kubert's School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, if not Kubert himself -- were a staple of the era. They were so prevalent for a short period of time and were illustrated in such a purely comic-booky type fashion that they became an almost seamless part of the comic book experience. Outside of the one-page comic story ads such as Captain Tootsie, Pepsi the Cop, or O.J.Simpson, these illustrated ads seemed to be more of-a-piece than any other ad in comics.

When Ivan Snyder took his Heroes World stock to catalog form, he brought the Kubert school and the entire comic book format along. Starring in more than half of the Heroes World catalogs (advertised from the start as Superhero Enterprises, which sounds like one of those inevitable mashups), the goggled Snyderman accompanied the reader and sometimes a couple of fictional kids (I think they're fictional, unless they somehow got transported into the world of comics) through a world of t-shirts, toys, socks, sleeping bags, watches, flashlights, electric toothbrushes, blacklight posters, mirrors, um, bongs, knives, a monkey that can sit in a teacup, voodoo curses, you know, all the usual stuff! All the stuff we had before everything was required by law to be a Funko Pop.



The Mighty Bore / Bell-Man / Bobman (Robert Bell)
What you choose to call this character is up to you, but I've always vacillated, given the obvious swipe off a Thor illustration which was the basis of the guy. Thus, "The Mighty Bore," which I'm pretty sure was also Thor's Not Brand Ecch name.

This ad would  in the bottom corner of those full-page, all-ad inserts which would also promise you song-poems and a college-level course in CONSERVATION! (they made it seem so exciting), plus some judo and hypnosis books. Bell himself was a Queens native who relocated to Florida and made his personal collection the start of a minor collector's empire. It's worth noting that there were different superhero mascots on the cover of his actual price guide, and those fine young people looked like this:




But that's nothing on ...



Captain Pacific Comics Man (or whatever - Pacific Comics)

On the other coast, Pacific Comics was prepping to blow up into a mid-Eighties foundation of the comic book scene. In the meantime, their superhero foray began with their grinning, blue-and-lemon superhero who appears, by dint of his forehead insignia, to be a champion for political correctness. Damn social justice warriors!

Whatever the name of this Scott Shaw(!) illustrated superhero was meant to be, I've never stumbled across it. If anyone reading this has a good idea, holler and let me know!


And lastly...

E.Phelps Man (E.Phelps Company)

It's probably unfair to describe the guy depicted on an ad for teaching you how to draw superheroes as a "mascot," per se, but this electric little poser was the chief figurehead of this peculiar little ad.

There is a nineteenth-century Ohioan artist named Edwin Forman Phelps, whose name may be the one gracing this company's masthead. I only mention this because of a late 1800s family history of the man which described his final years as "saddened by misfortune, darkened, perhaps, by errors." well, enjoy drawing your superheroes, you guys!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : MAUREEN MARINE


As I mentioned a few weeks ago -- and bring up every now and again -- there's absolutely no rougher origin in comics than having to gain your powers by dying first. Just because of how comics have shaken out, you're mostly likely safe from this particular kind of origin unless you're a cop, in which case you represent about half of the avenging ghosts out there.

Another significant category for superheroically snuffing it falls unhappily on children. Kid Eternity was famously the victim of a Nazi U-boat whose missile shattered the small vessel on which he and his older relative were harmlessly traversing, then was informed in the afterlife that it was before his time and should return to Earth with strange powers. Ditto for Maureen Marine.

Actually, there are a few small differences and a couple of significant ones. Maureen did indeed drown after her father's ship was struck by a U-Boat's torpedo, but she neither dies nor is informed that she'll possess great powers as a compensation for this sort-of divine bureaucratic error. She also doesn't return to Earth, but emigrates to an undersea kingdom. She does drown, though. She majorly drowns. Like, they spend way too long on showing it.

Slipping under the water, Maureen is happy to find that she's not drowning! And, in fact, she can breathe! And that a welcoming committee of undersea fish men on seahorse steeds and a Neptune dude on a turtle is approaching her, arms outstretched, to make her their new queen. Yes, Maureen is suffering oxygen narcosis, and has hallucinated the whole thing. She's dead now.

It is, in fact, Father Neptune who saves Maureen from drowning. But he doesn't do it for no reason. No, it turns out that Atlantis, the undersea kingdom he calls home, is served by a dying queen. Not only is she the queen, points out Father Neptune, but she is the only female human being among the teeming throngs if Atlantis. My guess is she's just tired from getting totally fucked out.

"How do I get to the TriBorough Bridge?"
With the old queen, her crotch complaining viciously about decades of constant use, perishing before her eyes, Maureen is given an offer; become the new queen. This is suggested right after Neptune informs Maureen that the old queen had been poisoned. I would think over that question very, very hard, Maureen.

Maureen becomes the new queen of Atlantis, proving herself to be a military strategist par excellence even as she exhibits frighteningly lax survival instincts. She routs an invading army of vicious "Miromen" on their way to conquer Atlantis, and is additionally responsible for keeping a horde of water-breathing Nazi dickheads at bay until Father Neptune could murder them. You get used to that stuff in Atlantis.

Part of the easy acceptance of the visually mellow Maureen Marine feature was the artwork of Harold DeLay, a book artist whose work was in the vein of turn-of-the-century products like Little Nemo in Slumberland.

The dream-like quality of the strip is enhanced by the strange, non-euclidean biome of Atlantis and its surroundings, an undersea land not only boasting its ride-able turtles but also centaurs -- literal horse and man people, just walking on the ocean floor. Davey Jones also shows up, dressed like a third-world dictator.

Maureen is, naturally, part of the Blue Circle Comics record of excellent Golden Age strips, and therefore hasn't been seen since her sixth and final adventure. My guess is she got "poisoned" oh probably around 1967. If she's lucky, they won't send her back to Earth.

Bogart was a tremendous Maureen Marine fan, which is why he included many
references to the strip in his assorted roles, such as "Don't save me from drowning
and tell me I'm queen of Atlantis, sweetheart -- I ain't been poisoned" from High
Sierra, plus "Damn Miromen" from The Petrified Forest and the time he jubilantly shouted
"This is just like when Father Neptune reversed his magic in order to drown the Nazi soldiers
who had invaded Atlantis!" to a roaring ovation when accepting his 1952 Academy
Award for Best Actor for the African Queen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING : DESTINY


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 You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
Season Two / Episode Twenty : Destiny



Spme sort of ill-defrined supernatural hecky-darn descends upon the swamp for the umpteenth time, causing all sorts of wind storms and lightning effects created by holding strobe lights about ankle high and shooting them at the backdrop from the perspective of a worm tying its shoes. I dunno, maybe this is how lightning actually looks in a swamp. Maybe lighting comes from the ground up in a swamp. What do I know, I'm not the King of Swamps. I'm barely the dauphin of marshes.

Still, it's got a point to it -- or, you know, as much as we've come to expect from this show. Confederate soldiers suddenly start pouring out of the thin air, caught in the slowed-down regular speed film effect which looks so damn cheap and always irritates me, everytime. Magic works on a budget here in Houma/The Universal Studios backlot.

Wow, they're storming the city gates!
Swamp Thing doesn't have much to do with the whole scene. He acknowledges that freaky stuff happens, mutters "It can't be!" when the Union and Confederate soldier start stabbing and shooting each other, and then sort-of fucks off to do swamp stuff, and we're not invited. Swamp stuff is very private.

Two soldiers are left behind when the fighting and fucking is over; Lt.Wyatt (Andy Stahl), an officer who has left his expectant wife -- pregnant with their first child -- at the home which is, in the present-day, owned by the Kipp clan (such as it is). Also surviving the passing is Boggs, played by Edgar Allen Poe IV (I checked, he says he's a great-something-nephew, which is kind of cool), who is the Boyd Crowder of this adventure.

Boggs lays on the Southern patois pretty heavy, and also he appears to be some sort of murder-happy hillbilly. In this day and age, that's an offensive portrayal. As is the word "hillbilly." I'll report myself to HR.

"Wall this here's got me more riled up than a coonskin alligator got himself a bumblebee hive for a book bag, shee-oot what."
Will fills his typical role of getting abducted by two strange men in the swamp and the threatened for twenty minutes, particularly as he was dumb enough to tell two apparently very dedicated cosplayers that he's from Philly. "Wawa, Tasty Kake, whichever cheesecake place isn't the racist one, GO BIRDS, a couple of guys who were up to no good started making trouble in my neighborhood." he explains, possibly.

Will takes the two grey nutballs to his/Wyatt's house, where about seven hundred iterations of "Where is my wife and child / I must be trapped in a different time / You're lying, Will / Oh this evidence proves you are not lying / Where is my wife and child  ..." and so on forever.

Just about the time that Wyatt comes to grips with being trapped forever in the future, he finds historical records from the war which accuse him of cowardice and deserting his command. Why this is his big issue, I couldn't say, the guy ought to have a few other things on his mind. Why can't he be more like Boggs, and just run around the Kipp house being continuously baffled and terrified about the appliances, and then beating them to death with the butt of his rifle. Boggs seems nice.

The Kipps really like yellow mustard.

This tedium is periodically interrupted by Wyatt ordering Boggs to not murder Will, although he sounds unconvincing. This isn't his fault; they never cast a guy with an actual commanding tone to play commanding officers in these shows. He sounds like he's trying to be heard on a particularly persnickety drive-thru speaker.

Now, big congratulations are due to Houma, Louisiana, which welcomes its first-ever black supporting character, Kenny (Eric Whitmore)! Just in time to wander into Will's house and be held hostage by super-racist Confederate soldiers! Well, Boggs, anyway -- Wyatt is one of those good, not-seeing-color types of Confederate solders they always find for these stories. If you have to work that hard to make your guy a good guy then why even start him off fighting for slavery?

Imagine this guy calling his mom before the show, "I got a role -- a TV role, mom! No, I don't know what the character is yet..."

I mean, this is a pet peeve, I suppose, but in these kinds of stories they'll have the officer err on the side of abolition and the grunts being stewing pots of racist hatred. But did you know that support for slavery tended to be centered in Southern cities, and rural areas were often abolitionist? Yeah man, the rich dudes getting all the good press again. Now let me show you these exit polls from the 2016 election ...

Anyway, we get several more iterations of the above -- and it's bizarre how many times they manage to fit it in during a twenty minute episode -- leads to a final confrontation between Boggs and Wyatt during which it's discovered that Boggs was actually the deserter, which explains and improves nothing. But WIll helps Wyatt find out that he has a descendant, a baby boy nephew or somesuch, and then he and Kenny and Will go to the maternity ward of a nearby hospital to look at him and it seems really inappropriate.

"Hi, may we three rude strangers be treated to a selection of your finest, newest babies?"

Swamp Thing apparently does something to make everything better, although I missed exactly what it was. Wyatt then gets to go back in time and save Houma from the Union and go down in Confederate history which, woo, great, that's a very happy ending. He killed a bunch of United States soldiers. Let's ... let's cheer that on, I guess. This show has messed-up priorities.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 17 - ...THE HARDER THEY FALL


Micronauts vol.1 No.17 (May 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Howie Chaykin/Al Milgrom
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Roger Slifer
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

It didn't pick up this issue! Sorry! I still didn't like it!

It's an unfortunately rough conclusion to the already-rough three-part arc which constitutes the Micronauts' crossover with The Fantastic Four. This is a story which seemed able and willing to write itself, but it doesn't really play in any meaningful way.

Acroyear and Cilicia are becoming
my favorite Micro-couple
I mean, it's so off-base that the title of the story is "The Harder They Fall" while the cover boasts not only an amazing Michael Golden cover, but also the proposed title "Death-Fugue of the Psycho-Man." Tell me the latter doesn't beat the former's ass with a stick in a bag. I dare you.

As of last episode, our combined heroes are fighting one another for the amusement of Psycho-Man in his planet-sized spaceship in the Microverse. What's put an end to their messing around is the Human Torch, fully aflame and having hopped between dimensions by using the believed-inactive Prometheus Pit. And, like all things that travel from Earth through the Pit, he is now incredibly huge.

Comparatively, anyway, which means he should've made short work of the Psycho-Man and his plastic toy compadres. Unfortunately, a giant Human Torch also means a tremendous strain on the artificial atmosphere of Psycho-Man's ship, the limited oxygen in which is quickly consumed, leaving pretty much all the heroes unconscious. Well-played, good guys!

They awake in Psycho-Man's weird pipe organ prison -- one man short, as Biotron has been murdered by the Psycho-Man, joining the long-deceased Microtron in destruction. Or did he? Well, yes and no. Hold on a second.

He just had to share that.

The FF and Micronauts are trapped in glass tubes connected to a baroque-lookin' space organ which Psycho-Man is playing while thrusting his hips towards it. It is a disturbing image to be sure. And, excepting that, it's also as reminiscent of a Silver Age JLA story as the issue which preceded it. Two groups of heroes caught in traps which allow them collaborate on an escape is very Gardner Fox, I'm beginning to wonder whether Mantlo's doing it on purpose.

As a serious aside, one of the things which has made this arc feel less like the dynamic Micronauts title of last year is the absence of subplots. Here we are, teaming up with other heroes to fight a massive but singular menace, and the entire universe seems to have stopped dead while it happens. No backstories, no B-plots, no foreshadowing -- just a straightforward team-up and fight. The second year of Micronauts has to be the series' Empire Strikes Back, but it's in danger of becoming its The Wire Season 2, all owing to this arc.



The big battle with the Psycho-Man results in a third casualty, cruelly following the revelation that Microtron and Biotron have been saved from destruction by the automatic repair facilities of Psycho-Man's worldship. The newly joined-up Jasmine, Bug's bloodhungry lady friend from Kaliklak, has fallen victim to a Repto summoned by Psycho-Man, and died in the jaws of her people's ancient enemy.   And, I mean, she's dead. She's dead in a way we don't usually get in these comics. I mean, it probably won't last long, but it's a good death, with real panic, sorrow and anger. It's easily the best scene in these wan issues as a whole, so good job guys.

And then the Psycho-Man gets away and the FF go home. The end. The sucky, sucky ending.

This seems vulgar.



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