Friday, January 26, 2007

Review of the Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 3, By Johnathan

Part three in our series of tributes to the common and/or crappy superteen of the future is devoted to the poor shmoes who had their Mom (or their Mom's robot, at least) sew up a costume and drive them down to Legion HQ but weren't quite distinctive enough to merit their own tale of rejection. Now most of the fine folks pictured here appeared in the same issue as Lester Spiffany and Stormboy (Adventure Comics 301, if you must know) and were a little overshadowed by those two notable gentlemen. In the interest of fairness, here's a who's who of the world of superhuman crowd scenes, presented in the order in which they appeared, with on-the-spot reviews.

First up is a lad that many only know as The Lavender Target, who's feeling a bit nervous - just look at that body language. His cape might be saying "Yes!" but his arms are saying "no." in a very small voice. In honor of his vulnerability:


To the Lavender Target's right, in the green/brown shirt and red/brown pants, is Ask-Me How -I-Recently-Lost-Over-65-Pounds Lad, who was trying to join the Legion in order to promote his diet/exercise book, I'll Tell You How I Lost Over 65 Pounds, Lads. Rejected by the Legion of Superheroes, the Legion of Substitute Heroes, the Wanderers and the Khunds, he regained the weight and found unexpected happiness as a Bouncing Boy impersonator.


The head to the left belongs to a heroine known as Awesome Girl. Not shown is her costume, which consists solely of a ratty floor-length trench coat. This is because Awesome Girl is the product of a bet between the members of the Legion of Super-Pets, and consists of Beppo the Super Monkey, Krypto the Super Dog and Proty II standing on each other's shoulders. To be fair, they almost made it into the Legion, until a fit of overzealousness caused Proty to claim that Awesome Girl had 'the ability to give birth to monkeys on command.'


Here we have The Bouffant, heroine of Anzac III. A mutant, she was born with a super-tough shell of hair, sufficiently hard to crack plate steel and so dense that nothing could penetrate it, rendering her immune to even the most powerful telepathic abilities. She too almost made it into the Legion, but was forced to leave after breaking Colossal Boy's nose for calling her "a real firecracker," and offering to help her adjust the complimentary flight belt.


Pictured behind her is You'd Look Great in Powder Blue Kid, who was forcibly removed from the area soon thereafter for using his powers a bit too freely on the other applicants.


Note the poor shmuck in the background of this frame - clearly reveling in his brand-new powder blue jumpsuit.

The other guy's name was Biting Brad, who had a formidably fanged maw, as his chest emblem suggests. Brad is virtually unknown, but was the first applicant to demonstrate the rule that states that anyone whose superheroic name is just their real name with a little bit extra (Porcupine Pete, Radiation Roy, Eye-ful Ethel) will never ever get into the Legion. Biting Brad later became the first person to die of scurvy in almost eight hundred years.


Another shot of The Bouffant, who is a bit of a firecracker, at that.

Note the two guys in the background of this picture - You'd Look Great In Powder Blue Kid has struck again. The Kid later attempted to become a super villain, but his plots only ever really succeeded in boosting the economies of regions that produced blue dyes.

The Lavender Target, who's feeling a bit more comfortable now. Though he was able to eat bullets and shoot them out of his eyes, the Target was rejected by the Legion after he nearly throttled himself when his flared cape got caught on a door knob.


The young man on the left of the second panel is Chet Kord, thirtieth century descendant of the Blue Beetle. Unfortunately, Chet doesn't just use devices instead of innate powers, he uses the same devices that his ancestor did, one thousand years earlier. Not only is he rejected , he is laughed out of the building, and Superboy vows not to believe his umpteen-times great grandfather if he attempts to tell him about any grand conspiracies back in the twenty-first century.


The other lad is The Spelunker, who goes to the bathroom a few minutes after this and is not seen again until years later when the Legion of Substitue Heroes take over the Legion clubhouse. During renovations, Color Kid finds a green-clad skeleton in a particularly twisty bit of ducting and has to go lie down for a while.


More on these two in a minute. Let me just take a second to explain that a) Bouncing Boy has just explained to these youngsters exactly how the hell he got into the Legion and b) yes, that is The Bouffant. It was just a bit chilly and she put on a jacket.

So: The lad in the red and grey is Reg Winthrop, Two-Fisted Seismologist. Reg hoped to get in based on his Metropolis University boxing championship and his ability to guess the severity of an earthquake to within one point on the Richtor Scale, but was swiftly rejected - especially after he tried to prove his might by decking Shrinking Violet.


On the right is Gastrointestinal Discomfort Boy, who followed through on the vow that he makes in this panel. When his power of inflicting painful abdominal cramps on others was deemed unsatisfactory and he was rejected from the Legion, he refused to give up hope and showed up at every subsequent tryout they had. Once he started hanging around outside Matter-Eater Lad's door for hours at a time, the Legionnaires were forced to take out a restraining order. GD Boy can still be found lurking at the edges of the three hundred metre limit imposed by the courts, staring hungrily at Legion HQ.


Well, that's that - those are the people that failed the most.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Review of the Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 2, By Johnathan

Next up: Storm Boy!
Before we got down to the nitty-gritty of the events surrounding Storm Boy's application to the Legion, let's take a look at appearance. His hair: square and marine-esque, it probably said someting to the DC audience of the time, but I'm not sure what. This was the early sixties, and I'm not certain at what point the owner of such a haircut would have metamorphosized from an upstanding young man to a complete and utter square. In any case I like his hair, because of its rarity in the comic medium - you're not likely to find it on anyone other than Sergeant Rock... and maybe Captain Atom. I like his glasses even more, and for the same reason: superheros don't wear glasses (Clark Kent et al do not count). And I wear glasses, so. Plus, this thing's set a thousand years in the future! I honestly would have thought that by the year 2962 (or whenever) children would be scanned in the womb and at the first sign of myopia the cloning process would begin. New eyes would be grown in a matter of minutes and installed in utero, and the entire family would henceforth speak of 'Billy's little problem' in hushed tones when he wasn't around. Assuming that my powers of prediction are infallible - and permitting myself a lapse into vulgarity - this guy's eyes must be fucked up!

Moving on, Storm Boy's clothing is a standard 30th Century jumpsuit. For a while I'd thought that he was wearing a glowing jewel around his neck, but I recently realized that that thing is his superhero emblem - he's chosen to represent the awesome powers of the thunderstorm with a little glowy cloud thing. Questionable, but we all just have to remember that the guy's eyes are fucked up.

Enough with the fashion critique. It's time for the nitty-gritty!

Storm Boy lives up to his name and his glowy cloud and calls up a thunderstom. He Impresses Bouncing Boy - looks like the guy's a shoe-in! But wait...

Oops! He was doing it with a little device in his pocket! And that's the number one rule when seeking membership in the Legion of Superheros: you gotta have your own powers. Storm Boy's little remote control is a big no-no, and one that he likely knew about, which is why I ask the question: why'd he do such a bad job of using it? Sticking his hand in his pocket like that. So disappointing, but even if he wasn't a moron and hid it in his boot or something what did he expect to happen? Did he think that he'd do well as a member and that everyone would just laugh it off when they found him out? Listen, Storm Boy, if a Legionnaire loses his or her powers at two o'clock they're out the door with a selection of erased memories by four thirty. They don't even get a party. And that's Sun Boy - you they'd probably hunt for sport.

So anyway:

They get Triplicate Girl to kick him out and think no more of it. And that, if you were wondering, is why they keep Triplicate Girl around.

Some closing thoughts:

1) I sure hope that this wasn't one of those needlessly complicated comic books schemes where, say, Storm Boy's sister has been kidnapped by gangsters and he's not allowed to go to the police but he figures that if he joins the Legion he can trick them into rescuing her. Because they didn't really give him a chance to explain.

2) Did Cosmic Boy give back that storm-making device?

"Hey guys! I got a new power! I'm magnetic and I can make storms!"

Storm Boy is:


Review of a Great Video Game, By Johnathan

Second non comic book-related review in a row! It'll be a quick one, though.

So I started playing a game called Bookworm Adventures yesterday (check it out here). Essentially it's Boggle - you get a selection of letters and have to spell things from them - but with a plot. There's this worm, see, and he's on a quest and fights monsters with greater or lesser ferocity depending on the length of the words that you manage to spell. Attention nerds! It is time to do very well at a video game based solely on the strength of your vocabulary! And Stephen Notley of Bob the Angry Flower fame worked on it in some capacity! Which is I admit only impressive if you're me, but still:


Addendum: A Mini-Quiche due to popular demand (you know who you are).

Tiny Review of Sussex Golden Ginger Ale, By Johnathan.

It's simply the best ginger ale there is.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Review of the Picard Song, By Johnathan

So I believe that most everyone but me had already heard the Picard Song before I did today. Nevertheless, I must speak: this is an utterly awesome song.



Sunday, January 07, 2007

Review of the Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 1, By Johnathan

For the last few months I have been reading the exploits of the Legion of Super Heroes, who are as you may know the cream of the crop when it comes to super-powered future-teens. One of the recurring themes of Legion stories were the tryouts, wherein various losers would try to demonstrate their worthiness to join the Legion. Most would screw up horribly and get kicked out, but once in a while someone would qualify, and even more infrequently such an inductee would be something other than a super villain.

Anyway, these tryouts were full of great characters who acted like morons, so I'm writing about them (of course).

First up, appropriately, is the very first applicant at the very first Legion general tryout: Lester Spiffany!

Lester shows up in his very own chauffeured rocket, set to dazzle and amaze:
Now, my two favourite things about this panel: 1) the 'swankiest jewelry establishment' line, which makes me think that the chauffeur used to me a cab driver or something. "Youse want I should take ya to a swanky hotel, mac?" and 2) the use of 'er' which cropped up all over the place in DC during this era, and is the second-most unnatural comic book speech habit of all time (the first being the way that anyone under the age of five in the DC universe used to talk like Tarzan of the Apes. I still have a hard time reading anything featuring Superbaby or Wonder Tot without visibly cringing because of this).

Lester's role in the proceedings quickly emerges: he is there to assure the reader that in the future there will still be douchebags.

Of course the Legionnaires reject his offer of money for membership, as they are honest, upright and incorruptible, as well as funded by the richest man in the galaxy. Showing some genuine class, Lester leaves for his appointment on Mars.

"Gosh, this sure is a swanky planet, boss. And plenty red, too."