Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Super-Human Detritus of the Thirtieth Century: Review of Porcupine Pete, By Johnathan

Ah, Porcupine Pete. Not the first Legion applicant to have a stupid name but probably the one with the stupid-est name. Also, and this might just be where I'm from talking, but he's asking for a face full of .22 if Old Man Strong catches him anywhere near his spruce trees.

Pete has a few too many appearances for me to get around to sampling pictures from before the very sun goes cold and dark, so we'll just be looking at his very first appearance. Here he is, discussing his soon-to-be-crushed hopes and dreams with the well-dressed Molecular Master and the simply dreamy Infectious Lass. Take a good look: Porcupine Pete is also the ugliest person ever to apply for the Legion, and it's not because he's a member of some weird alien race or something - according to the Legion edition of Who's Who, he's just some kid who grew spikes as he got older. That's right: that's down home human ugliness there, no cultural sensitivity required.

I think that they used this setup exclusively for the purpose of judging applicants, and no wonder the poor schmoes didn't do so well. Keeping in mind that these are teenagers, can you even imagine walking into that place, with a semicircle of hot dudes and cute girls looming over you, and Superboy, straight out of history, dead centre and judging, judging, judging. Frankly, I'm surprised that there aren't many of these tryout stories that end with someone in the foetal position.

I have to admit: this is a good panel. Pete's costume isn't too bad - it at least makes sense that it's skimpy - and the sheer enthusiasm that he's displaying as he hoses the room down with quills is very endearing. He's going all out, folks. They'll be picking these things out of the upholstery for months. Plus, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of a superhero with a blast radius. Ooo! Porcupine Pete, the Human Bomb and that one exploding guy from the Blasters should team up! All they'd need is a spare JLA teleporter and they could be the most effective super-team in existence:

Kobra Minion 1: "Okay, the death-ray's finished, hail Kobra."

Kobra Minion 2: "Nuclear generator online, hail Kobra."

Kobra Minion 3: "Targeting Atlanta, hail Kobra. Hey, after this do you guys want to go get some wings or something, hail Kobra?"


Kobra Minion 2: "Hey, where did those three guys come fro-"

BAROOM *sound of many quills puncturing frail snake-fetishists* KRAPPOW!

Porcupine Pete: "Case closed." *lights quill-shaped cigar using Kobra Minion 1's flaming femur*

Sadly, the Legion doesn't see the potential inherent in having a guy like Porcupine Pete around, and yet another fragile ego is crushed beneath Superboy's bellows of "Rejected!" To me, this seems like another time that the whole thing where Karate Kid got in by beating up Superboy should be brought up. I mean, Supes isn't flinching but making the entire rest of the Legion dive for cover has to be worth something, right?

Ah, well. There's a bit of a happy ending, in that Pete joined the Legion of Substitute Heroes and even ended up leading them on the Legion cartoon, so his legend lives on.


PS: check out the poll on the sidebar. Just as an experiment, I'm looking to get some input from you wunnerful folks. What do you like, hey? Let me know and by crackers I'll do it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

At Long Last, the Highly Anticipated Review of the Human Flame, By Johnathan

Haw haw haw! Time to put all the naysayers to shame! I will review the Human Flame, and not on my deathbed, unless of course it turns out that this chair reclines more and also I end up dying in it.

Dateline: Detective Comics No. 274, December 1959. On the cover, some crazy old dude shoots lightning at Batman - I haven't read the story yet, but I'll bet that he's got some sort of ingenious robbery-related hoax under his belt... yep, turns out. At the back, nestled behind Roy Raymond and Casey the Cop, we find a Martian Manhunter yarn entitled:

Now, this is not a fascinating tale. Nor is it exceptionally ridiculous, Silver Age or not, so no exhaustively broken-down plot for you. Instead, here are the highlights:

1. The Villain:

The Human Flame does not get off to a grand start, frankly. Purple is not a terrific colour for a flame-themed dude, and white is not a fantastic choice for a secondary colour. The goggles are good, but I only forgave Firestorm his puffy sleeves because his head was on fire, so those are out too.

2: The Plot:

Still, after seeing so many super-humans running around with astonishingly complicated facial hair, there's something (retroactively) refreshing about a simple moustache. While Ra's al-Ghul spends his mornings trimming individual chin-hairs and Green Arrow takes an extra half hour before bed to get his beard-curlers just right, ol' Mike there is getting the full night's sleep that he needs in order to plan really effective crime sprees. Though I suppose that if he had no facial hair at all he might have slept just a bit more and been clearheaded enough to consider pulling crimes in a town that wasn't infested with costumed crime-fighters.

The blonde guy is interesting, by the way. I can't decide if he counts at the Flame's partner, as his lone henchman or as a good friend that he brings along to keep him company on crime sprees.

3: Crime!

Let it not be said that the human Flame is a one-trick pony, no sir. In addition to having flame-thrower nipples on his suit, he has special energy-projecting nipples as well (urgh... I just had a disturbing thought: what if the purple on his costume is an attempt to simulate nipple colour? Fond as I am of the things, I find myself staunchly opposed to their use as a costume theme).

Where is all of the power and fuel for these nipples coming from, anyway? Mike's handing out some serious punishment with these things, and sure doesn't look like a wee lad. I suppose that he might have forgotten to eat a few meals whilst focusing on crime-suit construction - maybe he lost enough weight to stuff a propane tank and a 12-volt battery under each armpit? Or maybe he managed to create some ammo-less weaponry that he should have sold to the military for big bux instead of robbing armoured cars?

4: A Mighty Wind:

"Gosh, Martian Manhunter! Thanks for saving our armored car from those crooks! It sure would have been a shame if they'd managed to steal all of these Faberge eggs and Ming vases! Someday, you'll have to tell us how you ever saved out incredibly fragile cargo from that multi-nippled madman! Welp, we're off to the museum - thanks again!"

Not that being able to blow an armoured car around isn't great. I'm just sayin'.

Here's where the Human Flame gets his big shot:

5: Is this the End?

6. Seriously, is it?

Well! Not only has Mike triumphed, but he's completely vaporized J'onn J'onzz! And similar sarcastic remarks. In all fairness, The Manhunter hasn't been operating openly for long, so Mike might not know about the fact that he can turn invisible. Of course, he could just be an idiot.

7. Landscaping:

Turns out, he's an idiot. But, as this panel illustrates so clearly, he's an idiot that can shoot fire from his many nipples, which at least puts him a special category of idiot along with 60 or 70 percent of his fellow Silver Age villains.

8: Flying Free:

a) That's really cohesive sod.
b) Seems like Mike and friend would have trouble breathing up there.
c) That's a horrible way to get around. The neck cramps alone...

9: Clean Up After Yourself:

You know, I just have to assume that the Manhunter is putting that sod back because (holy crap, look at the huge chin on that policeman!) this comic came out in the early days of the Comics Code. Which is good, because society would have crumbled by now if our super-hero role models hadn't shown proper concern for lawn maintenance.

Now, Mike ends up doing some time for this one, leading me to believe that he had a terrible lawyer (heck, maybe it was the blonde guy). Eight years for foring a weapon that there likely isn't any legislation on (this is the electric nipple I'm talking about) and then getting into a very brief scrap with someone who is demonstrably non-human and therefore not technically covered by the law? Sheesh, for any decent shyster this should have been a piece of cake. Perhaps the DCU wised up early and there are tough super-villain laws on the books as of Mike's trial? Don't know.

One last thought: you know how in a movie or tv show when there's a guy wielding a camcorder or whatever he's frequently characterized as a total dick, like the act of filming constantly, especially in a moment of tragedy, is a sign of a bad human being? Well, upon reading Final Crisis No. 1 I realized this: it's a hundred times worse if you're doing it with a cell phone.

Great Stars! The Human Flame is NOT APPROVED

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hiya! A Review of Nothing in Particular, By Johnathan

Hokay, I'm back, but I'm not writing anything about the Human Flame. Not tonight, anyway. It's just too darned hot in here to concentrate sufficiently. This might just be ironic.

Two items:

- Thanks to everyone who offered up words of support and comfort when I said that I was too bummed out to write for a while. It was nothing more serious than a fairly amicable dumping (uh, I was the dumpee) followed by an increase in workload, but this doesn't change the fact that y'all are a grand bunch of folks. JOHN APPROVED

- As you may have noticed, I have adopted (and installed in the sidebar) one of Blockade Boy's many spare kittens. Chunkstyle-H - as he was labelled by the duplicator that spawned him, in compliance with the Anti-Forgery and Kitten-Related Confusion Duplicator Regulation laws of 2718 - is rumored to have many astonishing powers, but so far has spent most of his time asleep on a stack of Showcase Presents collections. I feel that perhaps something horrible is brewing. More as it develops. JOHN... TREPEDACIOUS

In any case, here's hoping that it's nicer in here tomorrow night. See you soon, folks!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Review of Matrimonial Bliss, by johnathan

Ahoy! I just got home from Rachelle's (of Living Between Wednesdays fame) wedding. Please blame any typos, misspellings and grammatical atrocities on the fact that there was an open bar.

I'm not going to say much here, as it's really Rachelle's event to blog about, but I will say a few things:

a) it was the most well-planned wedding that I've eer been to. The ceremony was short and the reception featured a plethora of astonishingly good appetizer-style foods. Basically, all od=f the tedious parts of the process were removed and the touching and fun nougat centre was expsed

b) Rachelle's grandfater can dance.dance7777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777u

c) Don't think she'll mention this, so I will: sshe sang excellently. It was super fun.


(Sober P.S.: Rachelle's grand parents were both fantastic dancers. Just for clarity's sake. And the 7s are from dropping the keyboard. Curse you, open bar!)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Review of Smutty Teens, by Johnathan

Okay, so this isn't a real review, so sue me. Rather, it's an excuse for my tardiness. See, part of my life imploded a few weeks back, and then my job got a lot more complicated. I've responded to all of this with an unprecedented wave of sloth. Don't worry, though: I shan't ever get tired of writing about comics in a snarky fashion. Just thought that the folks who enjoy reading such ramblings might like an explanation of my tardiness re: a review of the Human Flame. And so there it is. Ta-da!