Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Roads to Regrettability : Deans List
My book - The League of Regrettable Heroes - is finally gracing real-life and virtual bookshelves alike as of yesterday, making this the final Roads to Regrettability feature for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, there's no topic today except this - from among the write-ups on 100 of comicdom’s weirdest, most unfortunate, most misunderstood and flat-out strangest superheroes, I'd like to talk about my absolute favorites, including...

Assistant District Attorney Richard Raleigh is frustrated by the armies of organized crime which overwhelm his city. Donning a diaphanous blouse, stripey leggings and wading into battle as The Red Bee, Raleigh battles the forces of evil with only his two fists and the aid of his trained pet bee Michael. Who lives in a secret compartment in the Red Bee's belt.

You might ask yourself "What good can a trained pet bee do against crime?" Well, Michael can buzz by gangsters and frighten them, he can straight-up sting them, and on one occasion when the Red Bee was tied up, Michael brought him a razor blade so that he could cut himself free or, failing that, end his life before it spun any more out of control.

An actual, factual witch of the old school variety - complete with flying broom, peaked hat, grotesque features and cackling habit of speaking in rhyme, Mother Hubbard eked out only three adventures. They were, however, fucking terrifying adventures of the old school fairy tale variety.

Alerted to the presence of evil by such physical signs as her hair curling or her bones spontaneously breaking, Hubbard used a cupboard full of dire concoctions to face off against mundane enemies of humankind like mere Nazis and more dire foes like, oh, goblins who stole children's eyes right out of their sockets so as to sell to giants who considered them a tasty treat. You know, yeggs.

Tough on werewolves, tough on
the causes of werewolves.
Joe Simon was in middle age when he created these Baby Boomer hippie superheroes, and his understanding of youth culture may have been a little wonky. Nonetheless, the appeal of Prez - America's First Teen President (although, inside the book, he's 21 when he wins the election) and Brother Power lie with the optimism visible amidst the weirdness. 

Prez in particular may've been fighting off legless vampires and robot chess pieces, but in both cases (as with Simon's other creation for DC at the time, the Green Team), the real enemies of these stories was the old guard and their status quo. As goofy as they were, the message of these books was that youth had the power and the responsibility to save the world by fighting back against entrenched old fuddy-duddies.

Barry E.Eames was attacked by mutant space bees and taken to a bee planet ruled by Queen Bea, given bee-related weapons like honey grenades and a nose-mounted stinger which fired deadly gas (don't inhale, Bee-Man) and sonic antennae and wings and bee armor (no relation to Bea Arthur) and he lived in a giant hive and stole "radioactive honey" and gold because gold looks like honey and at the end of his story he joins the American intelligence community as the sole member of the F-Bee-I. 

I can't think of anything to add here, but do I need to?

When martial artist Billy Moon returns from Vietnam and joins a roller derby outfit, both his best friend and best girl are killed. To exact revenge, what skills does he rely on - his Army combat training? His martial arts? No, of course not, he relies on his roller skating powers.

Neal Adams is responsible for completely reinventing storytelling in American comics, helmed some of the most important comics of the Seventies, launched and nourished dozens of important careers, was on the forefront of creators rights and remains a tireless advocate for the artform across media today. And yet, mention his name and the first thing I always think of is Skateman, possibly because of what a glorious mess it is.

It's the 1970s and it's important that Superman and Batman get hip, fast as possible. Well, perhaps instead of doing anything that might upset the status quo in the regular titles, how about they just receive teenage sons out of nowhere, birthed from mysterious mothers, spending most of their time riding motorcycles and picking up "liberated chicks." 

I have a dream world where the Super-Sons of Superman and Batman lead a Justice League alongside Brother Power and the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, funded by the Green Team, serving under Prez. I call that "Earth Perfection."

1 comment:

Admin said...

I have been enjoying your book! And, yes I bought one! Glad to see the blog is back up. I've missed it.

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