Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Love Funnybooks! #2

OK, let's see what wonders from the Silver Age of comics we have today.

* First up is Our Fighting Forces #117. At one time OFF was a fairly standard war comic, but as with a lot of DC's non-superhero books of the 60s, fantastic elements began creeping in. Here we see Lt. Hunter and his Hellcats (I'll bet that named inspired fear in Uncle Adolf) being confronted by...uh...hell, I don't know. And neither did Hunter, as we see him yell out "Hellcats--what the devil are those things?!" It's an odd thing to exclaim. How should they know any more than he does? Is he expecting Light Fingers or Brute or Snake Oil (yes, those are their "battle names") to say "Lieutenant, those are the Snow Creatures of the Black Forest, created by the Nazi Cyclotron process! Didn't you get the memo?" And what the hell ARE those things? Some sort of frigid creature, ostensibly, but what's with the funky helmets? I think they're supposed to be standard German helmets, but the way they're drawn makes them look like fishing hats. And they seem to be wearing loincloths with ammo belts (but they have no weapons, far as we can tell). Good gosh, they must be those giant Nazi ice fishermen I've heard so much about!

* Here's Secret Hearts #103, one of those romance books that were a mainstay of the comics landscape at one time (though damned if I knew anyone when I was growing up, male or female, who read them). Picture here, far as I can tell, is Amy Ames, a recurring Ann Landers-type character who wrote the column "The Listening Heart." And what exactly is Amy doing here? Well, her dialog says "This is the only way I can stop Johnny from taunting me--!" What the hell? If I had known that the secret of getting girls to plant one on you is merely "taunting" them, I would have made Don Rickles look like Gandhi. Really, though, I think there's a lot more going on here than she's letting on. Look at the way Johnny's just lying there. Look at the way Johnny's eyes are closed. Look at the way she seems to have to hold up Johnny's head.

Folks, Johnny's dead.

Tune in next issue for more of "Amy Ames, Necrophile!"

* Ah, Mystery in Space #24, featuring the "Hitchhiker of Space" How could you not love this cover? This was the 1950s, so they certainly KNEW that a guy couldn't survive in the vacuum of space with just a FISHBOWL ON HIS HEAD, but they didn't care! It made for a cool image, and that was enough. I think the greater question is why the hell is this guy sitting on a tiny asteroid? Since he's hitchhiking, did the last spaceship that picked him up just leave him there, rather than on an actual planet or moon? I'm guessing the guy has shrimp salad and asparagus for lunch, so he was persona non grata.

The biggest mystery on this cover, though, is not how he got there, or how he's surviving in space, or even why there's a floating direction sign next to him. No, the real question is...who the hell coordinates their shirt to match their socks?

*Finally, we have the covers of Hawkman #11, 17 and 22.

What do these tell us? Well, mainly the fact that Hawkman fought waaaaayyyy too many villains in bad bird costumes. Hey, let me give you a lesson in superhero writings 101: Hawkman's main claim to fame is that he's a guy in a bird suit. That's largely it. Other heroes fly, other heroes use melee weapons, other heroes have female partners. Unlike most of them, though, Hawkman dresses up like a bird. So if you constantly put him up against OTHER bird men, it takes something away from what makes him unique, or at least uncommon. To put it in other terms, if Spider-Man fights the Tarantula, that's OK. But if the next six issues have him fighting Daddy Longlegs, Black Widow, Wolf Spider, Tunnel Spider, Cave Spider, etc., you're likely to say "hey, I'm dying for Will o' the Wisp here!" (well, ok, maybe you wouldn't say that).


Rip Ford said...

Hawkman didn't always fight men who dressed up as birds. Sometimes, for a change, he fought birds who dressed up as men like the Manhawks.

Troy Hickman said...

Yeah, I almost posted one of those covers...

And of course I'm exaggerating for comedy. Hawkman had a decent non-avian rogues gallery, with baddies like the Shadow Thief, Matter Master, the Gentleman Ghost, and others.

Anonymous said...

>No, the real question is...who the hell coordinates their shirt to match their socks?

My 9th grade History teacher did. And so did his son, in the grade ahead. No lie. EVERY DAY WITH THE MATCHING.

Juggling Jason said...

Hey, sock shirt matching is way cool! Sorry you're not cool enough to realize this.

Troy Hickman said...

J-man, nothing in my wardrobe matches ANYTHING else. It's no coincidence that I dig comic characters like Ultra the Multi-Alien and the Odd Man...

NuclearToast said...

I have that Hawkman #22. It's such a great "tragic" cover: not only is he getting sky-punched, but his wing is being sliced in half by a friggin rooftop laser. OH NOES!