Tuesday, April 29, 2008

13 Days of D.C.F.I.S.-mas! Part 2

Welcome back. DC First Issue Special was a place to try out fresh new concepts for the DC Explosion. It was a showcase for the hits of the future! Or, you know, not. I'm your host, and fair warning, I've been drinking all night and I have NO attention span.
They got green much longer than yours, with a team much stronger than yours
Behold, The Green Team! Second-to-last gasp of the "kid gang" genre. Joe Simon, along with Jack Kirby, had pretty much created the "kid gang" comic what with The Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, Young Allies, and so on. Ol' Joe went back to the well one last time, and like every other comic made during Simon's triumphant return to DC, it was a mind-buggering disaster. Meet THE GREEN TEAM, won't we?

They've got personality!
First up is Commodore Murphy (left), shipping tycoon who, when we meet him, is about to purchase the town of ROCKMUCH, Oregon. In his defense, I do admit that "Rockmuch" is a frickin' AWESOME name for a town, and despite having a population of 2, it should be in the forefront of the DC Universe's fictional cities. Wouldn't you like to live in ROCKMUCH? People could ask you, "So, where you from?" and you could say, "ROCKMUCH!" Puzzled, they'd respond, "ROCKMUCH?" and you'd say "EVERY DAMN DAY, MOTHERF*CKER!" Yeah.

I seem to have drifted from the point. Er, next we have J.P. Houston (center), the oil magnate. His job was (1) being token hick and (2) caring more about adventure than oil. Ideally, we should all care more about adventure than oil, but nobody's invented a car that runs on adventure. I bet J.P. does have a car like that, but he's hiding it from the world, the selfish bastard. YOU'RE why we're in the Middle East, J.P.--you and your damned adventu-car.

Third in line is Cecil Sunbeam (right), FABulously effeminate child prodigy Hollywood director. I like to imagine Uwe Boll before his balls dropped. Not to visualize Cecil Sunbeam, mind you; it's just a mental image I like to go to sometimes.

It's the fourth member, however, who's the true star of the show. This being 70s DC, they needed to make some attempt at social relevance and then fail utterly (see also, every DC comic published circa 1970-1979). Meet Abdul Smith (wait for it), an African-American (wait for it) SHOESHINE BOY on Wall Street. Thanks to a computer error at his bank, the $5 in his account became $500,000 overnight. He quickly invested it and more than doubled his money by the time the bank caught on--thus making the million dollars required for membership in The Green Team.

Thank you Shoe Shine Boy; you are humble and lovable
Money: It's where you want to be!
Boss screamin' in my ear about who I'm supposed to be
Getcha a 3-piece Wall Street smile and son you'll look just like me

I said "Hey man, there's something that you oughta know.
I tell ya Park Avenue leads to Skid Row."

Ah, Sebastian Bach, you make me feel young again. Where was I? Oh yes, Abdul Smith. Just imagine what Grant Morrison would do with this treasure. He'd have a metahuman gene for making money! Wealth as a superpower! Code name: Bankroll(tm)! Who's been funding Cave Carson, the Sea Devils, the Challengers, Rip Hunter, and S.T.A.R. Labs? Now you know!

Anyway. The plot of this comic, such as it was, involved something called The Great American Pleasure Machine.

I get spam for a pleasure machine at least 5 times a week
Yeah. The jokes pretty much write themselves from here on in, don't they? I don't even need to be here. Um, some bad guy tries to sabotage the G.A.P. Machine, thus depriving the 70s of much-needed happiness. But the Green Team saves the day, and guess how!

make your own joke
THEY THREW MONEY AT THE PROBLEM. So...many...jokes...fighting to get out...But let's pause a mo' to take a closer look at the Green Team super uniforms, which needed their own text page:

They sold a jumpsuit like this to Hank Pym back in 1987
To sum up, their secret weapon: POCKETS. Deep, deep pockets.

Amazingly, if it hadn't been for the DC Implosion, two more issues of The Green Team were waiting in inventory AND WOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED. You dodged a bullet there, Planet Earth. High five.

So where are they now?: The GT was last seen during Karl Kesel's run in the Superman titles, funding a youth center in Metropolis' Suicide Slum.

A few chapters from now, we'll witness Jack Kirby killing off the kid gang genre for good. But next time, a beloved Silver Age character's comeback fails in the pages of FIS...get used to it, 'cause that kind of happened a lot.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

13 Days of D.C.F.I.S.-mas! Part 1

Who is this guy fighting Superman?
It's Superman issue 678, coming this summer!

James Robinson knows. I know. And after this, so will you.

Hello and welcome to the 13 Days of D.C.F.I.S.-mas! Where we'll be dissecting DC First Issue Special.

You could say F.I.S. was the 1970s answer to Showcase. Or you could say it was Bizarro-Showcase. Whereas Showcase brought us the first appearances of the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern, the Metal Men, Adam Strange, the Challengers, Enemy Ace, Bat Lash, and many other classic DC characters, First Issue Special gave us one character that was actually popular and a lot of one-hit wonders that only people like James Robinson or Gail Simone remember.

"Sounds like a flimsy premise to milk for 13 posts," you say.

"Bite me," I say. Let's begin with the guy pictured above? Who is he? Hercules in a hijab? Samson in a scarf? Conan in a keffiyeh?

Conan is a keffiyeh? I'm a GENIUS!

It's ATLAS! No, not the titan Atlas from Wonder Woman. No, not the Atlas who puts the first "A" in "SHAZAM." Not Charles Atlas, who can make a man out of YOU (and who can sue you for creating Flex Mentallo). This is the other other other other Atlas. Is he legend or man? Man or monster? Floor wax or dessert topping?

Sword & sorcery is not a genre Jack Kirby really touched, apart from a few pin-ups in Marvel's Conan comics. This comic is Exhibit A of why he didn't do Sword & Sorcery. The King was not really firing on all cylinders here.. It's a pretty pedestrian story of vengeance seeking hero, evil overlord, weaselly sidekick, etc. What is notable about it is how accurately Kirby was able to predict the plot of the Schwarzenegger/Milius film "Conan the Barbarian" nearly a decade before it came out:

The days of high adventure...da da da dum dum da da da dum dum!

You can probably piece together the rest. The boy grows up into an impossibly muscled barbarian, swears to bring down a reptilian cult, befriends a wizened annoying old guy, etc. etc.:


If there had been a next issue, we would almost certainly have seen Atlas tied to the Tree of Woe and go on to kill several mighty warriors with Wile E. Coyote traps. CROM!

OK so where is he now?:Well, apart from some tantalizing cameos in "hypertime" when Karl Kesel was writing Superboy, and standing in the background of Kingdom Come (yeah, him and like 900 others), we never saw much of old Atlas. But James Robinson's bringing him back, just like he dredged up long-forgotten characters like Stalker or the Blue Starman.

But that's another story.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

An Open Frimshaz to Jim Shooter

Hi Jim! I think you're doing a sworvel job on this Legion of Super-Heroes bandsnee. Just really really flipple. Couldn't be more gronked.

There's just one florging thing.

Can ya tone down the fabbed-up lizzingo? I totally grilk that sometimes pranning some krindled color can establish a worzle, you know, make you really varg that you're in the 31st hoontz. And bandsnee has a fron tradition of it, from "drokk," to "feldercarb," to "sprock."

Unhooberantly, when you infrant a made-up vroz in every florging panel, it's sometimes inplisigent to frim-fram wovenheim what you're prizzling, ya grilk?

So in cranpludle, if we could just get a fnit less of the pseudo-quonchy future-teen plabblegap, I think we'd all mack-a-rinnie mone vowtie pazzotle, and vip spaw naddle bip kreessly. Frimps!

Oh and "Troob Vrix the Leeble!"