Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hostess Heroes: Captain Marvel Part 1

Out of the roster of Hostess Heroes, I don’t think anyone encountered as much pure batshittery as Captain Mar-Vell – and you have to understand what I’m saying here. The Hulk fought roller disco thugs and a giant malevolent artichoke, Batman chased a guy with a soul-eating piano, Daredevil fought a huge ‘tard, but only Mar-Vell fought a mouth. Just a mouth.

In “He’s All Mouth,” Mar-Vell trades quips with an enormous pink monstrosity which looks like it leapt off the clearance page of an Adam and Eve catalog. More disturbing than the gaping, flesh-color cavern of moist body parts - and for that matter, more annoying than Mar-Vell’s sudden propensity to talk in thematically doltish puns, HE IS A SPACE OPERA GUY YOU GUYS – is the villainous Big Mouth’s TINY TINY HANDS. Egads. Captain Mar-Vell is fighting Tabletop Joe. I bet tackling him in panel three felt like giving a bear hug to a pudding-covered balloon full of pencil erasers.
Marv wraps up this adventure by using Twinkies to coerce the giant HIDEOUS MOUTH BEING to help rebuild the very carnival he just destroyed. Marv negotiates with (mouth) terrorists, everyone, spread the word.
You know what would be horrible? If when Captain Marvel was lying on his deathbed, dying of cancer, and he had that last vision of fighting his old enemy Thanos, you know? If instead of Thanos, he was just fighting this thing again.
Speaking of the Big C, Captain Marvel faces the foe who gave him cancer – and a prestige format oversized graphic novel, too – in “The Big Bang!!” (two exclamation marks, because we’re not shitting around over here).
Nitro’s plan is, evidently, to “blow a hole in the middle of the ocean so big, it’ll flood the world.” A few seconds later, off-panel, he added “No, on second thought, I’ll just blow up next to a playground and make Marvel Comics unreadable for about a year.” Insidious!
Hilariously, Marvel traps Nitro and his be-jumpsuited gang inside their own headquarters with a lifetime supply of Twinkies (Well, Nitro says he can get through them in a month, which I suppose he can say now but I’d like to see him repeat that when he’s had nothing but complex plastic derivatives and preservatives extracted from vampire bats in his system for a week), and happily chirps to himself “Now – to blast his headquarters.” Marv has an impish sense of humor rarely explored in his own comic. Take note, Jim Starlin, apparently it should have been less “By the moons of Pama,” and more “Tee-hee, I just shoved a stick of dynamite up the Cobalt Man’s ass.”
In “Flea Bargaining,” Cap faces off against “the giant flea-market-eating flea.” Astonishingly, and to repeat it, it’s “THE” flea-market-eating flea, not just “A” flea-market-eating flea. It’s the giant flea who is known for eating flea markets. It’s his thing. He has a rep.
Once again, it’s Twinkies which save the day, and I guess Marv raids them out of the back of the booth where they’re deep-frying the horrible things.
Marv wraps up the adventure by power-blasting some struts holding up a net he arranged to capture the giant Hostess-Twinkie-Eating Flea (he’s switched genres, he’s like David Bowie, you just can’t pin him down to one style), while a swooning dame to his right chimes in “We’re saved, thanks to some ingenious flea bargaining – and these Hostess Twinkie Cakes.” In my imagination, he saves a couple power blasts for her.
The legendary Gil Kane pays for groceries one week by turning in an art job which is way better than strictly necessary on “Killer Bee and Son!” (Only one exclamation mark this time, because we kind of are shitting around over here now). The dumb-ass puns are back, as are Hostess Twinkies, and a really byzantine plot is hatched to defeat the bees when it turns out that knocking their heads together Three Stooges-style is all is really takes. YOU COULDA DONE THAT IN THE FIRST PANEL, MAN.
Still, I could stare at that composition in the sixth panel for hours, Kane does such a beautiful job on it. You know, I read this interview with Kane where he said he wasn’t proud of anything he’d ever done in the world of comics. Anything. Even though he’s got this panel from a Hostess Twinkies ad with the astronaut and the giant bees in it and everything. I mean, come on, there’s no pleasing some people.

1 comment:

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Civil War got me reading Marvel again. Unreadable? That would be World War Hulk and its preposterously forced tie-ins. (Or on the other side of the aisle, Salvation Run, or any recent work by Grant Morrison and Frank Miller. OOOH, THEY "FORGOT" TO BLANK OUT THE SWEARS! LOOK MOMMY I'M READIN' A GROWN-UP BOOK ALL BY MYSELF!!)

My favorite Seanbaby Hostess teardown will always be Thor's encounter with "The Ding-A-Ling Family" and their spacefaring mobile home, atomic shotguns, and horrific inbreeding.

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