Archive for the ‘Recap!’ Category
There are several things both notable and fascinating about this issue of the Swamp Thing. First and foremost, this story is unbelievably fucked up. Modern comics deliver sick, twisted, graphic gore and horror but seldom dig into emotional turmoil this deep.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
Part 1: Abby’s Past Tragedies
Abby Cable is already a tormented soul. She and her husband Matt lost two of their closest friends (Alec and Linda Holland) in an explosion and were then forced to hide from the killers for some time. After this trauma Matt and Abby’s marriage begins to fall apart as they try to piece together the death of Alec and discover this being the Swamp Thing.
One night while Abby is out in the swamps with Swamp Thing, Matt is severely injured in a car wreck leaving him brain-dead and his body possessed by the soul of Abby’s uncle Arcane. Calmly engorged in the corpse of the Husband, Arcane begins the torment of his own niece by dazzling and bedding her. His torments increase and eventually leave her dead in hell. Only the bravery of Swamp Thing (with help from Deadman, Phantom Stranger, and Etrigan) pulls Abby back from eternal torment.
With Matt Cable a “vegetable” from his car accident, Abby begins a romance with the swamp monster. Alan Moore’s bit of parallelism here was not lost on me: Abby trades her metaphorical vegetable-husband for an actual vegetable.
Their lives would be happy but for John Constantine who continually lures Swamp Thing off on new adventures saving the world, universes, and eventually the spiritual realm itself.
At this point in the series, photos of Abby and Swamp Thing are published in the local newspaper and Abby is charged with crimes against nature, a charge normally reserved for beastiality. Fearing imprisonment, Abby flees to Gotham City where the Swamp Thing wages a war on the city to recover her from Gotham’s justice system.
At last reunited, Abby’s dreams are shattered forever when the agency that created the Swamp Thing finds a way to kill its monster and does so. Swamp Thing is dead. Abby’s last vegetable has been burned to the ground.
After so much tragedy in one character, Stephen Bissette takes a last oportunity to twist the knife.
Part 2: Issue #59: “Reunion”.
The story begins in hell, where a large demon is tormenting Arcane for his sins on earth. We notice that one of Arcane’s eyes has been squished and the socket is filled with maggots. He complains that he cannot feel his eye. This is the perspective from which our story is told. Though Arcane is the main character and provides the perspective of this narrative, the story is actually about Abby Cable as she pieces her life back together. Arcane is forced to watch three stories unfolding simultaneously.
- He sees Abby as she tries to live her life. She’s in a convalescent home working with the aged who’s families have abandoned them. She struggles to cope with this. An orderly is stealing from the residents once they die and it’s a bit of a scandal that Abby uncovers. This narrative expands on Abby’s character and furthers the main arc of our story by showing how she lives her life in the absence of the Swamp Thing.
- We see some unknown creature, and read its inner thoughts as it struggles to find someone. We see parallelism between this creature and Arcane as it also complains about its eye. This narrative is rife with intrigue but is opaque, confusing until the end of the issue.
- We see the past when Abigail’s father – a single parent – lives with his only daughter in some small European village still peppered with land mines left over from WWII. Here we learn that Abby’s father stepped on one of these landmines while she was a little girl, dying in front of her eyes. This is how Abby was orphaned and came to live in the United States at a young age. Throughout most of this story Abby’s father is reading Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” to his daughter.
These three stories are interwoven and evolve before Arcane’s eye (and the readers’). The final death scene of Abby’s father is followed with the unknown creature in narrative 2 finding Abby at the convalescent home. It sees her, is ashamed, and runs into the swamps. Abby, recognizing something in the creature, chases it and the two are reunited. Here we learn that Arcane rebuilt the corpse of his dead brother (Abby’s father) after Abby had left for America. All these years the reanimated corpse has struggled to find its lost daughter, and now some decades later he is literally falling apart, ashamed of his own wretchedness, and ashamed for his lost life, his life as an Arcane.
Abigail Cable, emotionally devastated after losing Swamp Thing, is reunited with her long dead father to discover that he has been turned into a “Frankenstein” and is now disintigrating before her very eyes. After some time spent in a tearful embrace the monster flees his daughter. She chases him further into the swamp, but she can only find the scattered limbs of the man she once called father. This is the second time that Abigail has watched her father die.
Abby is found the next morning next to a torso. Limbs are scattered about her.
She says, “I can’t find his head.”
Back in hell, an impressed demon remarks to Arcane that he is still causing pain on earth after so many years, and that he may be turned into a demon once his sins are paid off.
Hot damn. This issue was fucked up and demostrated the stength of Bissette’s story-craft as he seamlessly wove together four narratives into one issue. Told from the perspective of a dead man being tormented in hell, we are shown new depths of Abby’s past and present while still managing to progress the main story that has been evolving over the past few issues (Swamp Thing’s death and eventual return to earth). The parallels are numerous. We see Abby’s childhood fascination with Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” which provides insight into her adult romance with the Swamp Thing. We see her father actually become a Frankenstein monster in a sick play on the old notion that women marry men like their father. And Bissette ties Arcane to his brother by demonstrating that they are both ashamed of the family name (one for his sins, the other for his own wretchednes), both are monsters, and both have deteriorating eyes that cause them pain.
This issue is tremendous and is followed by another gem in issue #60, “Loving the Alien” which proved to be another gorgeous issue in the Saga of the Swamp Thing. Though the issues compiled in book 6 of Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing are considered by many to be weak and inferior to his previous work, and are a bit overshadowed by the other story he wrote that year (Watchmen), I would argue that these issues rank easily among the best stand-alone issues of the whole series. Their depth, craft, and creativity are simply unparalleled.
(PS, sorry for two Swamp Thing posts in a row. It’s what I’ve been reading.)
Who even writes for this blog anymore? Certainly not us! Anyway, I just read a magnificent issue of Swamp Thing from the year 1996!
Clinton was in office and Dole wanted to oust him. Newt Gingrich had signed some weird “Contract with America” and the world of American politics was as nutty as ever. Apparently disgusted with himself, the comics industry, and left-wing socialist nut-jobs Mark Millar enlisted the incredible talents of Curt Swan to create this fascinating bit of satire.
If you’re familiar with Alan Moore or Rick Veitch’s work on Saga of the Swamp Thing then you know Chester Williams as an eco-friendly former hippie that loves tubers and teams up with the Swamp Thing to battle evil.
But that was before he saw the Contract!
Professor Chester Williams is at his apartment throwing a party with another professor and some of their students. The kids are dancing, drinking, getting high, and engaging in other immoral activities. After a living the hippie dream this party serves as a wake up call to Mr. Williams and he’s had enough! Chastising a young lady for strip-dancing at the party Chester proceeds to kill the music and call the cops on his students.
Disgusted with the loose living of these young liberals, Chester decides to join the NYPD and clean up America. After killing a few bank robbers (illegal immigrants no less!), saving a woman from being robbed [Ed. note: a "dyke," who he then kisses so hard she goes straight and marries him], and plenty of good old fashioned liberal bashing, Chester receives word that the Swamp Thing is giving the world’s leaders an ultimatum: stop polluting or else! As an old friend of this Elemental, Officer Williams decides to pay a visit to Houma, LA to try and talk some sense into the old Swamp Hippie.
After a stern lesson on economics, the importance of international trade, and a plea for Swamp Thing to “grow up”, Chester convinces Swamp Thing that the earth doesn’t need a paradise and things are best left as they are. Chester then returns to New York where he defeats incumbent Bill Clinton and becomes President of the United States of America!
Conservative ideals win again!
[Ed. note: Despite Mark Millar's bizarre introduction to the issue claiming it is the first "clean issue in a sick run of an evil book put together by diseased individuals," editor Stuart Moore later promises it was "an Elseworlds story" and "a bad trip or something." Thank God.]
Today’s post gives me the opportunity to introduce a new category for Bronze Age comics I’ve called: “Love for the Bronzer”.
You may not realize this, but Dr. Strange and the Man-Thing have have something in common: murderous Christians hate them.
I suppose in Strange’s case it makes a bit of sense. Since the Julio Claudian dynasty, paganism and Christianity have butted heads. Add a little Constantinian conversion, a bit of Julianian conservatism, and you’ve got a recipe that has left polytheism and monotheism standing on opposite sides of the Deity Dance Floor glaring one at the other for the last 2000 years. So when Marvel debuted their protagonist of polytheistic persuasion in Strange Tales #110, it was only a matter of time before Christianity took a stab at him, and in 1974 that’s exactly what it did. Enter the Silver Dagger, a knife-dipped-in-holy-water wielding ex-Cardinal who left the Church after being denied the Papacy. What was Dagger’s next move? Why, he became a sorcerer and took to killing off all practitioners of the mystic arts, of course!
And so it was that in Doctor Strange#1 this occult antagonist set his sights on Stephen Strange and the Sorcerer Supreme’s bombshell apprentice Clea. After three issues of fabulous story and gorgeous art the murderous mage was finally banished to unreality forever. Hooray!
What is a bit more – well – strange, is that exact same year the Man-Thing faced a similar foe. Man-Thing #s 3 & 4 featured the less poetically named Foolkiller as he attempted to rid the earth of fools and sinners with his Yahweh-bequeathed Purification gun. Foolkiller was a lost soul who got picked up in that hippie Christian Jesus Movement and found peace at last. Unfortunately, that peace was shattered when he walked in on his pastor getting drunk with some floozy. After being told to take life less seriously the Foolkiller went berserk, strangled the preacher, preserved his corpse in a shrine, received a laser gun from God (for some reason God armed this guy), loaded his gun and his shrine in a van and took off across America killing all the “fools” along the way. On one of his death quests, Foolkiller’s plot is foiled by the unwitting Man-Thing and from that point on Foolkiller has a score to settle.
Unfortunately for both Foolkiller and the Man-Thing, this swamp monster can’t exactly be killed. Foolkiller goes about his business of trying to get the local radio station to stop playing “blasphemous” music and is ultimately killed during a fight with Man-Thing when the Dead Preacher Shrine falls over and a large shard of glass pierces Foolkiller’s heart.
I don’t know if there is any connection between these two stories. The Jesus Movement was all over the US, and Protestants and Catholics were really going at it in Ireland around this time, but that’s all I can think might have inspired these two stories such a short time from each other. In any case I still effing love the Bronze Age of Comics and I’ve learned just how dangerous a knife dipped in holy water or a God-sent laser blaster can be, so it’s a win/win for me. It’s been a long time since anybody did a “Reviews & Booze” write up, so I’m gonna go ahead and recommend some red wine for this one.
Hello, Readers! Jonny here.
In my many readings and explorings of the Information Super Highway (that’s the Internet to you “Web2.0” Kiddies) I discovered a Golden Age gem from January 1941 called “The Red Comet” that was published in Fiction House’s Planet Comics.
Planet Comics started in January of 1940 as a monthly magazine collecting, as did most comics of the time, several stories by many authors and artists. Though detectives and superheroes were all the rage in ‘41, Planet Comics catered to a slightly different niche with space odysseys. Known for stories with strong female characters and Good Girl Art, it seems Planet Comics was destined to become the sort of thing collectors drool over and popular culture forgets.
Anyone who follows my infrequent posts knows I have a soft spot for the Golden Age, but for all my love I cannot deny this stuff is crude. Imagine my surprise when I found “The Red Comet” by Arthur King (which may or may not be a pseudonym for Cy Thatcher, Rudy Pallais, and Alex Blum). All of the basic pitfalls of the Golden Age are here and yet there was something more. A lot more.
Within the pages of Planet Comics #10 I found a story that was probably intended to be heroic fantasy, yet ended up written and drawn as one of the most gorgeously Philip K. Dick-style dystopian stories I’ve read in a comic. I can only assume this wonderful transformation was due to the author’s own classist world-view and the three color limit placed on an artist with a remarkable eye for action. If you can, I strongly recommend finding your own copy of Planet Comics #10. If not, I will recap below.
Our story begins as the Red Comet himself bears witness to a landmark in science: the reanimation of a corpse. As a panel of probably-important-people and the Red Comet watch, the body of Tony Scaro is reanimated and “birthed” from the cold womb of a machine. The naked Tony awakes in a strange room. Confused, he asks for clothing.
Now, if I were the Red Comet or a scientist in Future Earth, this would be the part where I rush up to Tony Scaro and say something like, “Welcome to the future! It’s totally awesome here and you’re invited to join us in our perfect society! Enjoy this complementary Future Robe!” Instead this is where the comic starts to get effed up. Rather than addressing Tony directly and welcoming him to his new life in the future, the Red Comet towers above him in demigod-like form and announces Tony is a “low type” from the 20th century.
The scientists – still refraining from actually talking to Tony who has been dead for possibly hundreds of years and has no idea what the hell is happening – decide he will be permitted to “wander where he pleases” but will remain under close observation. For God only knows how long, Tony wanders Future Earth alone, all but naked, and under constant surveillance by unseen forces. Not surprisingly, this wears on Tony and he begins to long for his previous life and friends.
Coinciding with a break in surveillance, Tony commandeers a space ship and heads to Jupiter because, well, why the hell not? Apparently a good space-pilot, Tony lands on Jupiter and is brought before its dictator: a man most ominously named Kil. We can only assume that Tony is the first Earth person in ages to land on Jupiter, because Kil decides to inform Tony of his plans to go to war with Saturn. He then requests that Tony kill statesmen on Earth because that will get Earth to ally with Jupiter against Saturn for some reason. Tony jumps at the idea, and at this point I can’t say I blame him.
Back on Earth (and I’m guessing a few weeks later), the population starts to freak out as many prominent statesmen are murdered. Finally, the Red Comet shows up to announce that he’s discovered more info on Tony Scaro’s past and it turns out Tony was a notorious murderer in his day.
So far in the story I was totally on Team Tony in his rampage against the elitist Future Earth society that would so callously bring a man back to life and then send him naked into the wild after deeming him of inferior social status. Upon learning Tony’s brutal past I started to find him less sympathetic. Then I remembered: THEY DIDN’T KNOW HIS MURDEROUS PAST WHEN THEY FIRST CAST HIM OUT.
Damn, the future is full of dicks.
Receiving a tip from one of Kil’s inside men (wait, if he had insiders in the Earth government already why did he inform the random, naked mystery man from space of his plot? Anyway…) Tony steals another ship and makes for Jupiter with the Red Comet in hot pursuit. This time Kil is less enthusiastic and starts shooting at Tony, fearing that he’ll lead Earth’s forces to Saturn.
Crash landing on one of Saturn’s moons, a fierce battle ensues between Tony and the Red Comet.
Here is where my sympathy for Tony and my hatred for the Red Comet was nearly at full pitch. After winning the battle, Red Comet heads for Jupiter to find out why they were so quick to shoot at Tony. Please remember that Red Comet knows absolutely nothing of Kil’s plan. That becomes especially important when – without talking to anyone on the planet first – he grows to a giant size and single-handedly destroys Jupiter’s fleet that is sent to meet the invading Earth super-being.
Seriously, this guy is a twat.
Back on earth, Red Comet and the scientists decide that Tony Scaro’s violent 20th century ways are incompatible with the awesome Future ways and decide to put him in stasis forever. For this feat of heroism and benevolence the population of Earth praises the Red Comet.
As I said, I’m pretty sure all this horror and dystopia was unintentional. I think we were supposed to be cheering for Red Comet as he fought the murderous Tony Scaro and destroyed the fleets of wicked Kil. But as I read Planet Comics #10 all I felt was horror at the elitist disregard for humanity displayed by the supposedly advanced people of Future Earth. This was probably greatly assisted by the fact that we know and see so little of Red Comet. He only enters the story when somebody’s ass needs kicking which makes him come off as some sort of Gestapo henchmen for Fascists yet to come. This coupled with truly astounding artwork made for a supremely (if inadvertently) enjoyable read. I know I’ve made light of this comic, but again I must emphasize that I was totally enraptured as I read it and I must insist that anyone who enjoys Golden Age stories find a copy of Planet Comics.
Until next time, happy readings!
Oh fuck my life, I don’t even know where to start. Howard the Duck comics are meant to be absurd, but this is just ridiculous. Last week, I recapped the first half of 1996′s Spider-Man Team Up #5, featuring Gambit. This week, I’m here to guide you through the insanity that was Spider-Man’s team-up with Howard the Duck.
First off, this was 1996. Peter Parker wasn’t web slinging, his clone Ben Reilly was. At the time, everyone thought PETER was the clone and BEN was the original, so Peter retired and gave the spandex to Ben while he went off to have lots and lots of sex with MJ. With great power…comes giving the fuck up and letting the other guy handle it so you can bone, amirite?
So. Spider-Man and Howard the Duck. Spider-Ben is webslinging along when he overhears a crowd talking a bunch of weird shit about talking reptiles and tortoise-looking guys who crawled off into a sewer. “SAY WHA?!?”, says Ben’s internal monologue, concerned that he’s missing seeing TMNT III filmed live, and he slings over to the scene. Peter Parker is there, in a purely photojournalistic capacity, of course. A van has been ripped open and probably robbed. The eyewitness accounts are so batshit crazy (lizards and tortoises?) that the cops are giving the fuck up, impounding the van and going home. Spider-Ben slops some web goo onto Pete’s shoulder to get his attention and they scuttle off to have Spider-Man Con 1996 in a convenient alley.
Meanwhile, a dude with a handlebar mustache is leaning out of his apartment window, staring down at the busted up van scene. He slams the window shut and starts waxing worrisome about the cops questioning HIM as an eyewitness. He’s clearly a villain (HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE), but apparently retired. Someone knocks on the door, he thinks it’s the cops – but no, it’s a fucking elf. Who shoots him. BLAM!
Pete and Spider-Ben hear the shot. Pete runs towards the noise, telling Spider-Ben to take lookout duty from the rooftops, I assume because the Daily Bugle will probably accuse Spider-Ben of murder if he gets there first. Pete arrives on the scene to see the gunshot victim lying on the floor. Within a panel or two, he recognizes the RINGMASTER and freaks the fuck out. Ringmaster says “No, No! I’ve changed! Really! An ELF SHOT ME!” So the paramedics take the Ringmaster to the hospital. Spider-Ben and Pete confer in the parking lot. Ringmaster had a powerful disc thingy and he thinks the elf stole it. Ben and Pete wonder where the Circus of Crime is these days.
And NOW, Howard the fucking Duck. Howard and his girlfriend Beverly are going out for dinner and a movie. There are jokes about how he has no pants, because cartoon ducks never wear pants – this apparently makes leather diner seats sticky. Ew. Howard says he’s dying for a cheeseburger, and as soon as he does, some crazy bitch slams her cane onto their table “DYING! is RIGHT!” she screams!
Apparently, when they cook the red meat for Howard’s cheeseburger, the fatty globules will float into the air where they will be inhaled by AMERICA and attack the kidneys of innocent children. Seriously. I am NOT making this up. Crazy-Cane slamming lady is FUCKING PISSED about this. She’s screaming and yelling and I don’t know what’s going on. Howard thinks “Bitch is CRAZY!” and they get in a diner brawl over the fact that Howard wants a cheeseburger and WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!?!? Howard and Beverly are kicked out of the diner, so they decide to skip the movie. As they wander around, they see a sign for, OH SNAP, a circus. “The ‘Cirque du Somnambulism!’ [look it up!], a fancy circus!” thinks Beverly, and they make plans to check it out the next day.
Meanwhile, the homicidal elf guy is meeting with the circus performers. Somewhere along the way, he attached a little yellow banjo to his hat. The Circus of Crime is pissed, because Killer Elf was supposed to steal a disc, but instead he stole a SITAR – damn. A banjo would have been way better. All the circus freaks are making fun of him, so Killer elf SHOOTS all but one of them. Then he sucks the bullets back into the gun, bringing them all back to life. They declare that Killer Elf has the power of a god. Killer Elf says no, it’s elf magic, but it’s dumb, and then swears he’ll make them rich if they help him find the truck driver that ran over his Uncle Melf. That last bit wasn’t a joke, he actually said it, but it pretty much doesn’t get brought up again, so it’s ok.
Back in New York at the Daily Bugle offices, Pete uses TEH INTARWEBZ to find out where he can see a circus featuring an elf. Turns out it’s Cleveland! So he wrangles a plane ticket out of someone at the Bugle and calls Spider-Ben.
Next page. The Ringmaster’s Hospital room. The Circus of Crime and Relf (I guess that’s his name) the Killer Elf are roughing up the Ringmaster. They want the disc! Ringmaster says “Fuck you I am in the hospital cos you SHOT ME, I don’t have it maybe it’s in Chicago!” Then they leave him alone, and he crawls under the covers and cowers.
DEEP BREATH! Ok, after a little googling, turns out Steve Gerber – the creator of Howard the Duck – only agreed to writing this issue if he could make it into an unofficial crossover with Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck #1. Thing is, it was unofficial, so they never call Savage Dragon or Destroyer Duck by name, and you never really see Savage Dragon’s face. Think Wilson in Home Improvement. So hold on to your pants, because shit is about to get RIDICULOUS.
Relf the Elf calls up the Chicago police, which is notable because a homicidal elf has a cell phone in 1996. Did I mention he’s getting a lift from a flying snake? Yup. (The Snake belongs to Princess Python, a member of the Circus of Crime.) At the Chicago police station, “Fin Head” gets a call. Relf brokers a deal, “Show up in Cleveland, and we’ll trade the sitar on my head for the disc everyone’s freaking out about.” Savage Dragon agrees, but he wants to bring a duck with him, because they wanted to make a comic that would make everyone I know question why I read these things at all.
New York, JFK airport. Pete is settled into his seat, tray table in the upright position, ready for takeoff. No one got a plane ticket for Spider-Ben, so he’s web slinging up into the landing gear to hitch a lift and somehow NO ONE is noticing.
Cleveland! The circus! Bev and Howard show up, but the show is cancelled (because the Circus of Crime has to go to a warehouse and meet Savage Dragon, remember?) Bev’s never seen a circus from backstage before, so she peeks into the tent. Howard does too. He recognizes the Circus of Crime, and, you guessed it – freaks the fuck out. Pete shows up in plain clothes, and shouts “Howard!?!” Howard is fucking confused, because he doesn’t know this tool from Adam. “Whoops!” thinks Peter. Then Spider-Ben shows up – “You’re a talking DUCK?!!?” Howard’s confused AGAIN because he and Spider-Man have met before (oh man, I’ve gotta find THAT!). Suddenly the circus van peels out of the parking lot and they all remember they came here to wreck shit. And get a disc. Or a sitar, or whatever the fuck.
Savage Dragon’s silhouette is in the door of the warehouse the Circus of Crime selected for this brawl. Relf demands the disc (without handing over the sitar, I might add), and Spider-Ben decides now would be a good time to burst in through the wall, Kool-Aid Man style, so he does. But Spider-Ben immediately gets all tangled up with Princess Python’s snake. And I hope that sentence was as good for you as it was for me.
Savage Dragon is fucking annoyed because he just wants the damn sitar. So he “saves” Spider-Ben by unravelling the snake, sending Spider-Ben off in a whirling stupor. Spider-Ben manages to sling some web into Savage Dragon’s face in retaliation.
Meanwhile, Relf the Elf is shooting at Howard the Duck. “I love a good duck hunt!” he says, “I should conjure a springer spaniel to fetch me your corpse!” And that was honest-to-god the best line in this book if you’ve ever spent any time with an original Nintendo. Running around in the dark, dodging Elf-bullets and unofficial inter-company crossover brawls, Destroyer Duck and Howard run smack into each other’s beaks.
“You– You’re a– DUCK!!”
Spider-Ben finally gets his mitts on Ringmaster’s hypnotic disc, and Savage Dragon plucks up the sitar. Pete, Spider-Ben, Beverly and Howard run out of the warehouse together. Pete and Ben are comparing notes on the Ringmaster, which reminds Howard – who the fuck is the yuppie with the Nikon? – and he says as much. No time for chit chat though, some psycho clown is throwing blade balls at them. Pete apparently brought some spare web shooters along, and he uses them the take out the blade-ball tossing (hee!) clown. Howard’s a little pissed, because he didn’t know Spidey was loaning out web-shooters now and how come he didn’t get one? No time for that though, because here come the Great Gambonnos! They’re italian acrobats I guess and they want to beat everyone up. Spider-Ben busts out Ringmaster’s disc and it conjures up some giant floating hands which pick up the Gambonnos and slam them to the ground. Next up? Cannonball! Spider-Ben takes him out by making him jump so high he falls out of the sky and on to the ONLY place of interest in Cleveland. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cannonball crash lands on KISS. As in Gene Simmons.
Back in the warehouse, Relf the Elf is pissed. He informs Princess Python that the Circus of Crime is a bunch of “unevolved incompetents” and peaces the fuck out.
Howard and Bev see Pete off at the Cleveland airport, because it was 1996 and you could still do that. Bev hits on Pete, but he’s like, sorry babe, I’m married and don’t you have a thing with the duck? Bev compares her relationship with Howard to Dr. Kevorkian’s relationship with death. Pete boards the plane and heads back to New York.
Howard scratches his head. “Y’know, we never found out who or what that elf was. Or that little sitar…or that big green cop!” Bev thinks some mysteries are better left unsolved, which prompts Howard to quip about the Dr. Kevorkian joke.
I am CONVINCED that Steve Gerber wrote this issue as a way to give Marvel a big giant FUCK YOU over the legal battle they fought over Howard the Duck, which he lost even though he created the character.
Aren’t you glad I read this FOR you? Fuck my life.
I have this Spider-Man plus Gambit plus Howard the Duck team-up book. It looked ridiculous on the shelf at Goodwill, so I bought it. Not quite Archie Meets the Ninja Turtles (which totally exists, by the way), but fuck, it’s HOWARD the DUCK.
This book was released in 1996, so we already know we’re dealing with some crazy nineties comics shit. The first half of the book features the Gambit/Spidey team-up. Except that this was 1996 and Peter Parker was trying to MAKE BABIES while his clone Ben Reilly took up web-slinging duties. At the time, they thought PETER was the clone and BEN was the original, oh fuck it, comics in the nineties make my head hurt sometimes.
Spider-Ben is hanging out at a club in NYC; a Cajun themed joint named N’AWLINS, so naturally Gambit’s there too because his friend who is TOTALLY from NEW ORLEANS owns the club and didjaknow Gambit is from NEW ORLEANS? I bet you didn’t. Both heroes are hanging about in their NOT hero identities, which is dumb because they’d probably get more tail in costume. They hit on the same lady (hurr) and it’s really rather boring until Ben’s spidey sense tingles.
Some guy named Creaux (say it with me now, CREE-OH), who’s supposed to be in jail in Louisiana has moseyed into the club. Spider-Ben freaks and we flash back to…
Ben Reilly in New Orleans. The real one, not the club. He went there to disappear,
“back when we still thought [he] was the clone.” He’s taken in a by a kindly ol’ shopkeeper lady, who gives him food and a roof over his head in exchange for Ben’s amazing spectacular…dusting skills? Creaux, who as it turns out is a crooked New Orleans cop, shows up and starts bitch-slapping Spider-Ben’s benefactor. Ben, who was hiding in the back of the shop at Shopkeep Lady’s behest, hops out and fucks Creaux’s shit up, blinding him in one eye.
Creaux gets mad and THROWS COCAINE IN SPIDER-BEN’S FACE. Yup. Okay, okay, it’s not cocaine, it’s “voodoo powder” and it paralyzes Spider-Ben. Suddenly, the NOT crooked cops show up and they arrest Creaux. Amidst the commotion, Shopkeep Lady cures Ben’s paralysis cos she knows voodoo (because everybody in New Orleans has mad voodoo skills!), and Ben escapes. He can’t talk to the cops because he’s wanted for murder in Utah and I am NOT explaining all of the nineties Spider-Man plot threads here. No. Use Wikipedia if you’re confused.
Back in the present day. New York. Creaux and his buddy are roughing up Gambit’s friend the Club Owner. They want him to put the cocai-I mean VOODOO POWDER in the club’s ventilation system so they can get EVERYONE secretly hooked on DRUGS and become the biggest druglords in New York. Gambit’s friend doesn’t wanna, so Creaux throws the voodoo powder at HIM. Then Gambit shows up, wanting to know what the bad man did to his friend.
The would be druglords pull a gun on Gambit, but as usual Gambit fucks their shit up with PLAYING CARDS which, in all seriousness, should make him totally lame, but instead he’s the shit. Spider-Ben shows up because this is a team-up book, after all, and he figured he should get his thorax in there and make the magic happen. The fight spills out into the club where Spider-Ben is thrown into a CROCODILE PIT. (I am not making this shit up, guys.)
Meanwhile, up on a landing near what must be the convenient receptacle meant for throwing shit into the ventilation system, Gambit struggles with Creaux for possession of the cocaine baggi- I mean “pouch of voodoo powder.” They slip and the bag begins tumbling to the club floor below.
“Three seconds before the bag hits the crowd like nerve gas-” thinks Ben, as he crawls out of the crocodile pit (god, I love nineties comics) [Man, fuck nineties comics. -R], only to be slammed by Creaux’s bulletproof brick wall of an associate, Tombstone. At the count of three the bag hits the ground, but it doesn’t explode or turn everyone into a coke addict, which, really, I was kind of looking forward to.
Remember the little tartlet both Remy and Ben were chatting up when this whole thing started? Well, it turns out she’s an undercover narc. She pulls her gun on Tombstone, who laughs and picks her up by the neck. Spider-Ben and Gambit barge forward, screaming at the villain to get his own fucking date. They save the girl, and Spider-Ben sneaks upstairs to administer to Gambit’s friend the voodoo powder antidote that he TOTALLY memorized during the flashback [A cold shower, rubbing everybody's shoulders, telling them, "No way, it's cool, just sit down, dude, it's totally cool?" -R] . Then I hope Ben gets the hell out of dodge, cos that tartlet downstairs is a cop and Spider-”I’m the Clone? No, you’re the Clone!” is wanted for murder in Utah and it can’t be long before she figures it out, right?
But then they all start slapping each other on the back and doing the Marvel team-up equivalent of a “Whoooooa, Bundy,” giving Howard the Duck the perfect moment to break the fourth wall. And really, that’s what we’re all here for right?
You’ll have to wait for the second half of this recap. Savage Dragon shows up. Shit got so ridiculous I decided it merited it’s own writeup.
This is a recap post. As such, it is SPOILERRIFIC. We clear? Okay. Batgirl #1 starts with a bunch of dumb boys racing to see who can stop just short of a wall while some gangleader takes bets on who’ll die, because criminals in Gotham are always psychotic or stupid. A bat-with-boobs swoops in, stopping both cars – but she’s sloppy and causes a lot of property damage and broken bones in the process. That alone should have told you who’s under that cowl.
Dick-Batman and Damien-Robin are skulking somewhere high above the action, just WATCHING, like dicks. They call her sloppy (she is), and Dick says she’s not as good as the OTHER Batgirl, kicking off the spotlight on the romantic tension between Dick and Babs that DC has promised to carry on throughout the year, DAMMIT. Just do it already.
Next page? SPLASH SPOILER ALERT it’s STEPHANIE BROWN, the Bat-family’s bitch. Batman & Robin (whoever they might be at any given moment) couldn’t give less of a shit about her most of the time, unless she’s literally DYING. Her relationship with Tim was full of dramz and afterschool specials that would never get a comics code stamp. A few Red Robin‘s ago she promised to stop patrolling in the Spoiler persona. Yet here she is, inexplicably wearing Cass Cain’s Batgirl costume, which I guess is her way of getting around that whole PROMISE she made to Tim Drake. I mean Wayne. Whatever.
Next, Stephanie’s mom brings her WAFFLES in BED. Best mom ever. But this was SPOILED at SDCC this year. I had prior knowledge of these waffles, dammit! Mom is proud of Steph for going to college and being normal, no more of that vigilante stuff. She steps towards Steph’s closet asking “What are you going to wear?” The Batgirl costume is hanging up in there, so Steph freaks out and gets between her mom and the closet door. I don’t know about you, but to my mom, that would have been a sign to open the closet door and figure out what the fuck I was hiding in there. But no. Mom leaves. Sigh of relief.
Next, Barbara is watching a ladies wheelchair basketball game, coached by Bruce’s friend Dr. Leslie Thompson. Leslie wants Barbara to play basketball with them. Barbara is FML Alan Moore made me so psychotically angry can’t deal. She takes the subway home, and some muggers go for the chick in the wheelchair. Babs gives them what-for, and enjoys the hell out of it and Barbara Gordon is so fucking awesome I can’t deal.
Stephanie in Philosophy 480 at Gotham U. She’s being flakey and not paying attention, drawing Bat symbols all over her notes. Spacing out, she flashes us back to…
Three weeks ago: Steph as Spoiler and Cass as Batgirl are fighting some thugs. There’s a cute little team up jinx moment here that is actually adorable, but when the fight is over Cass is all fuck this shit Bruce is dead and I don’t WANNA. So she gives her Batgirl costume to Steph and disappears.
Next up, Babs has dinner with Commissioner Dad. All the cops still love Barbara cos she was their “little red-headed mascot.” Babs is touched, maybe, but also non-plussed I think. Commissioner Dad wants to hook her up with the hot new detective at GCPD. Babs is annoyed. Dick Grayson calls, and she’s MORE annoyed, cos omg DO IT ALREADY.
Steph is at home, NOT doing her homework. She’s trying to find a way to rationalize breaking promises to at least three different people and going out on patrol anyway. She’s got a police scanner. Homework or vigilante-ism? Guess which one Steph picks?
There’s a riot in Gotham. Commissioner Gordon is there, his guys are getting killed left and right. Nick (who I think might be Hot! Detective) is with the bad guys. They’re roughing each other up until a little bat punches through the window. She does a pretty ok job of beating up the bad guys, but as usual, she kind of fucks it up, almost getting Hot! Detective Nick killed in the process. Nick radios back to Gordon; “I met my first Bat-person! …Wait? Which Bat are you again?” Stephanie skulks off, annoyed.
Next morning, the gratuitous shower scene. I guess she’s college age now so this isn’t THAT icky. Steph is tired, and thinks maybe she should have just done her homework instead of going out and beating up bad guys willy-nilly. She walks downstairs to see…
A VERY annoyed Barbara at her kitchen table. Steph’s mom is held up at work. Babs is annoyed as fuck. Babs tells Steph to have some waffles. This should be a fun talk…except, END of issue.
Yeah, I’m going to keep reading this as long as it’s Barbara-heavy. Honestly, Steph just needs Barbara in her ear at ALL moments of her life, in costume or not. I feel bad for Stephanie. Everyone loves Barbara, but Steph’s been consistently pulled into the Bat-family only to be unceremoniously dumped out of it how many times now? Maybe wearing the Bat-symbol for real will force her to grow up and be a little less nuts and a little more bad ass? Probably not, but getting this much Barbara in a book is good.
I’ll go ahead and a give it a 3.5 out of 5. It was kind of cheesy, but this is meant to be a lighter title, and I LOVE the Gordons so it gets a big boost for that alone. The second they stop showing up though…well, let’s just say I’m less likely to fork my money over for a Batgirl book without at least a Barbara cameo. Just sayin’.