Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Continuity Comics Part Two

I don' think you're doing this right, kid.
Continuity Comics’ editorial and advertising branches painted a starkly schizophrenic portrait of the company. While trying to play to its strengths (the berserk and muddy but nonetheless dynamic art produced under Adams’ watchful eye, the gravitas granted by having a bona fide comics legend overlooking the output, etc), Continuity managed to underline its weaknesses (everything else).

I think those WERE
his last words. You
really stole his
thunder there, man.
Even if it Adams hadn’t explicitly had his hand in every aspect of the company – he was known to routinely add his peculiar editorial flair to every part of the comic except the staples – you couldn’t mistake his unique voice at play in the company’s marketing and promotion. If you’ve taken the time to read Adams’ responses to the many criticisms of his expanding earth theory video or caught up on his blog as best as someone dependent on complete, coherent sentences to extract meaning from the written word possibly could, you’ll recognize the half-distracted, exceptionally annotated and breakneck frantic cadence of his writing in every ad and on every cover.

The ads which populated the interior of the comics near the end of the company’s run – during the simply baffling and obtuse Rise of Magic crossover event – seemed to have been scrawled in desperation on post-it notes and rushed to the typsetter with half of them falling out of the envelope on the way.

Your humble editor distinctly remembers one Rise of Magic-era ad where the copy gave up on trying to sell whatever unfortunately-capsized heap of dreck was meant to be pedded and instead adopted a confessional, intimate voice with the readers. “Continuity Comics”, it says (well, I’m paraphrasing, anyway) “Some people say we ought to change the name because kids don’t know what it means. What do you think?”

Reading that for the first time, I legitimately had no idea who I was meant to respond to – possibly the comic itself? “Maybe,” I replied, “I mean, it doesn’t really flow off the tongue.” The comic remained unimpressed and silent. Perhaps I’d hurt its feelings.

Click to enlarge, I left a lot out that
you're gonna want to know about.
The rambling and broken exclamations continued onto the covers (and, well, frankly … into the scripts as well, but that’s a whole other picture). Not only were the covers themselves freaked-out psychotic episodes full of colorful logos in full-on grinding lesbian embrace and wraparound Where’s Waldo diorama in which “The point of focus” was the little fella in the stripey shirt and glasses, just about every comic had some character or another shouting – invariably in bold type – some puzzling inanity or babbling cacophany.

Here’s a few of my favorites:
  • “SLAG TIME, RAD” (Cyberrad)
  • “Yeah, you’ve got my mother … my … MOTHER! … very … BIG … BIG … MISTAKE!” (Megalith)
  • “? Father … “ (Megalith)
  • “You believe you are gods, Earth 4 … well I am the God of … Hellfire!” “And we bring you recycling!” (EARTH 4)
  • “Im sorry I cannot give you the correct time” “Idiot” (Ms.Mystic)
  • “OUR ENEMY!” (Valeria the She-Bat)
  • “HO HO HO HO HO OHMMMMM” (Cyberrad)
  • and the limitless classic:
  • “RAGE … I’m taking you down! I’m releasing ALL the slaves … I’m cutting your fleet to ribbons … And I’m gonna humiliate you … Just ‘cause you got a UGLY FACE!” (Armor)

Some of these adjectives are
being badly misused.
In its earlier days, no small number of Continuity’s ads were stressing its high standards of art (which it had) and writing (which it didn’t) as well as its timely shipping (nuh-unh) and its kid-friendliness. One well-used full-page ad had All-American Joe Majurac – Megalith, the one Continuity character I’ve admitted to having enjoyed – sitting on the bench of a Nautilus-style weight machine, Continuity Comics in his confident hands, a broad smile on his face as he encourages parents to trust Continuity to bring their kids the best in real, literate entertainment made just for them.

Mind you, this is the same company that had a running gag involving Crazyman repeatedly ripping his female partner’s eye out and also a scene in Toyboy where the hero’s father confronts a group of characters whom he believes to have abducted his child by calling them “flaming faggots” (among no end of other cusses, some bleeped and others not). So … no, not that much, the kid-friendly.

ARMOR (and Silver Streak)
The fuck is a wennie?
Easily the two most obnoxious idiots in the entire Continuity lineup of bellowing roid-casualties. Two brothers are abducted by the alien slaver RAGE during what appears to be a full-on invasion, resulting in one brother being given some super-powers and sent to work in the alien mines and the other being given other super-powers and a shit-ton of training on how to use those powers to kill aliens in what is CLEARLY a really good idea on behalf of the slavers.

No small amount of Armor’s original run focuses on the boys trapped in space, developing and mastering their powers – at some point, and I may have missed exactly why this happened, but the brother who can shoot lasers out of his hands and who works in the mine is given the name Silver Streak which sounds less like a slave name and more like what happens if you’re into colloidal mercury supplements and you get the shits.

At some point, Armor confronts and ultimately kills Rage, although I don’t think they ever bothered to show it to us, even though the majority of the first storyline is all about Armor wanting to off his former slavemaster.

Despite this, the boys just show up on Earth and start farting around and ruining Megalith for me.
Also, at some point, they find their long-lost sister. She was also abducted by aliens and given super-powers and her name is Scarlet Streak, so go ahead and use my colloidal mercury joke from up there except make it a little grosser and I guess a little gynophobic while you’re at it, too, would you? Thanks.

Way to make me root for kidnappers
over homophobes, Continuity.
The eponymous Toyboy is Jason Kriter – essentially an engineering-minded Richie Rich with even more fucked-up daddy issues.

The brilliant but isolated little fella longs to spend time with his busy and perpetually absent father, so distracts himself in the meantime by designing and building an array of hi-tech “toys”, everything from super-fast motorcycles to little ambulatory robot assistants to a big robot suit that has no protection on the front so that bad guys can shoot him if they want.

Toyboy eventually discovers that his father isn’t quite as good a man as he’d imagined – the old man, as a for instance, develops a gun which every fourth bullet or so is actually a hypo filled with fear gas that’ll freak a dude out. After you’ve shot him three times, anyway.

Jason’s and his toys have one of the weirdest adventures in the entire Continuity ouvre wherein a mad scientist seeks to gain control of America’s nuclear arsenal with the aid of his robot army – each of whom is made to look like a famous celebrity of some sort or another. It starts off with mostly old-timey comedians, meaning I was presented with a panel at one point wherein I found myself thinking “Oh god, not another comic book nerd’s fucking obession with the Three Stooges”. Lucky me, the reality could have actually benefitted from some obsession.

The ‘highlight’ of this encounter would have to be the super-powerful Dr.Ruth Westheimer robot who takes on an entire armed base, including messing the tar out of a tank … all the while spouting entendres and sex advice. The beat-up pint-sized robot duplicate of a plucky Israeli woman saying “Of course, you can always use a cucumber” may be the companys high point.

This is timeless.

(Full disclosure – Knighthawk got his own title printed under the Windjammer line, and that’s where most of what follows comes from)

How do you even pronounce those *s?
This guy, Knighthawk, this guy is a dude who gets cloned and he has sort of useless vestigal wings. Later, he grows up and builds full-size wing prosthetics which allow him to fly, but his identical clone brother who also has wings steals it and crashes to the ground and dies, and later the dude fixes the wings so he doesn’t die when he puts them on. Pity.

Knighthawk showcases the one thing Continuity was doing which made it resemble the comics of the Golden Age – it had the same reckless, breathlessly piled-on, anything-goes invention of the old comics of the 30s and 40s, when nothing was too ridiculous to fly. Please to keep in mind that almost all of the comics released back then were meant for eight-year olds and were terrible to boot.

Knighthawk goes on to become some insanely hardcore vigilante, complete with not only his wing prosthetics but also magnetic guns he can launch from his boots to his gloves and then back again – a trick he shows off while shooting up an orphanage, no kidding.

The Windjammer series ends with an arc in which Knighthawk is blackmailed into joining Theta Force, which appears on the surface to be some sort of parallel take on Marvel’s Avengers. I could say more for certain if any of Theta Force had any personality or did anything.

Next up: Continuity - The Cover Story.

Hey, you guys know where I could score some coke? I got some copy to write...


Michael Hoskin said...

Son of a biltch?

Kazekage said...

I don't remember much about "Rise of Magic," except the bad guy's name was "Black Magic" spelt backwards, which I feel like must have taken them minutes to come up with.

That and I seem to remember they hit the nadir of gimmick covers about this time and had a book with glow in the dark fur on the cover.

And I think "son of a B*IT*H" is supposed to be pronounced with cash register noises in place of the asterisks. Either that or just say "Oh shit, I hurt my hand so badly the letterer forgot how to spell 'Bitch!'" Either one.

Unknown said...

Sarah read parts of this to me out loud and I was able to complete the Megalith "My Mother" speech by heart. When I worked in a comic shop we had all the Continuity promo posters hung in the bathroom (appropriate, no?) and at various times during the day (or night) someone would bust out with a gem like "For you to live, Armor must die! But Armor will not die!" I don't remember how the hyphens and/or ellipses worked on that particular outburst, sorry.

Anyone familiar with Continuity can't be shocked by the train-wreck that is Batman Odyssey. Well...okay...they --can!!!

Great, fun post, btw. What an industry this has been.

Wooly Rupert said...

Maybe their copy writer worked at dubbing Spaghetti Westerns into English?

Michael Brown said...

while I don't have all the Continuity Comics, I guess I missed the one with the glow in the dark fur...

I found some of their earlier stuff better. Bucky O'Hare and AE-35 from Echo of Futurepast was pretty good.

Doing all the varient covers and the weird numbering was the worse. I think I tried to complete my collection from the dollar/quarter bins. No idea if I succeeded.


Great work as always. You do terrific work here.

Calamity Jon said...

Thanks for the feedback, fellas! It makes the tortured hours enduring this dreck slightly wirthwhile, except for the post-traumatic stress disorder and the ruined eyesight.

-Your Humble Editor

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