Tuesday, November 10, 2015


DC vs Marvel
It was a crossover of such scale that fans could hardly have believed it would happen in their lifetimes, but what if we told them that it would involve a bullshit character no one cared about and inane cosmic entities too alien and distant to relate to with a cosmic threat so vaguely defined as to be nothing but smoke and mirrors? Ah, now it sounds more feasible.

The Marvel vs DC/DC vs Marvel crossover slammed together the two universes for a prolonged series of fight vignettes, like a montage of those we lost at a comicon masquerade on a night when someone slipped bath salts into the Mountain Dew bottles. With each fight lasting a page or two and decided by fan votes, there wasn’t much story to be had. What little there was involved Access, a dimension-hopping superhero whose power was that he could facilitate crossovers – a superhero who generates short-term income from the speculator market, the greatest superpower of all! – and interdimensional deities representing the Marvel and DC universes and who couldn’t decide if they wanted to fuck or fight. For the former, see also the Amalgam Universe.

If there’s anything particularly interesting about any of this, it’s that DC and Marvel jointly own Access, making him both the most unique character in the companies’ histories and also a character who’s too unwieldy to employ in stories for the most part, so, well done there folks.

Tundra Publishing
Tundra was born out of the highest ideals of the business of independent comics; creative freedom, artistic aspiration, financial reward, creator ownership, experimentation and expansion of the storytelling potential of comics. Unfortunately, it was midwifed by combination of business and friendship, the killer of all endeavors.

Owned, operated and founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle co-creator Kevin Eastman, the line went on to host talents like Jim Woodring, Mike Allred, Steve Bissette, Al Columbia, Scott McCloud and dozens more, producing high-end collectible editions which more resembled art books than comic books. Unfortunately, this also meant that Tundra blew threw $14 million in three years, and despite what you may think, that movie money only goes so far. They'd need another six or seven Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies to finish Doghead. 

It may seem impossible, but the 1990s simply would not have happened without Image Comics, and Image Comics would not have happened without Todd McFarlane, and Todd McFarlane would not have happened without Spawn. Trust me, it's a "for want of a nail" kind of scenario, if Todd had never put fluorescent green pen to paper, we would've gone right from 1989 to 2000, screwing up the Oscars and the Olympics and all kinds of things.

One of the accolades rarely heaped upon the head of one of the highest-profile heroes of the 1990s was that Spawn was, arguably, the highest-profile black superhero in comics, television and film - you know, when he was actually drawn as black. Most of the time he wore a mask, and under that mask he had a messed-up hamburger meat face, and then when he did use his powers to become human, he because a white surfer dude-lookin' motherfucker. Irony, I guess?

Possibly the best quality possessed by Spawn was "confusion," as the dense and impenetrable artwork was buried beneath mounds of word balloons, and even if you could follow what was going on there ended up being like ten different Spawn books and a whole run produced by other creators, and that led to a WHOLE different can of worms. 

Bart SearsThe hypermuscled male figures and hypersexualized female figures of the 1990s found their apotheosis in one man, Bart Sears, master of the super-inflated pec and the beachball-sized calf muscle. Merging seamlessly with the glossy, gradiated coloring technologies of the era, Sears produced a limitless parade of shiny, hairless, squeaking living beachballs arranged in human shape, as bold and bombastic as the era in which he flourished.

His series of "Brutes and Babes" lessons in the pages of Wizard magazine undoubtedly taught an entire generation of kids how to fit ten pounds of muscle fiber into a three-pound skinbag, and also gave the stragglers something masturbate about.   

If you're grittiying your superheroes by ten-to-twenty percent, one of the aspects you'll have to be sure to include is the jacket, the one mandatory piece of costuming for any superhero taking to the comic pages in the 1990s. From Gambit to Grifter to Wonder Woman to Nomad, it was far less important to sport body armor, emergency weapons, communication gear and shielding as it was to, you know, look cool man. I mean, just look like a total badass. Plus I guess it's a place to keep your car keys.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Did Grifter also pioneer the "mask that somehow fuses perfectly with the hairline" look?

I remember watching the terrible WildC.A.T.S. cartoon (it came on just before Exo-Squad) and never being able to figure out what Grifter's power was. I just looked it up on Wikipedia and I still don't know, although now I know that he was voiced by the same guy who voiced Tintin. Does he ever even actually grift anybody either? God, what a dumb character.

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