Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Booga-Booga! Wednesday!

I'm not a huge fan of the Fantastic Four series, although I certainly enjoyed the Ultimate Fantastic Four for a while.  I think the notion that they were adventurers rather than crime-fighters turned me off.  Which got me to thinking: I really didn't like the Challengers of the Unknown, either, and it was probably for the same reason.  When I got to thinking about it, I couldn't come up with any book or individual character whose focus was on exploration and adventure rather than the war on crime that I read with any regularity.

I think it's interesting the way comic preferences tell us about ourselves.  Some people like "daytime" characters like Superman and Captain America.  Me, I like "nighttime" characters like Batman and Daredevil.

Some folks like their stretchy guys to be brilliant scientists, like Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.  Me, I like my stretchy guys like this:

Yup.  Give me Ralph and Plas any day.  I'm sure that says something about me, but I don't know what.  That was from Detective Comics #436, for those of you playing the Official CMNS Drinking Game! (tm!)

Speaking of getting to know people, I give you (from Detective #432) Ray Palmer and Jean Loring, circa 1973:

Wow, Ray.  Maybe you should have read that horoscope.  It probably said something like "Today is a good day to break up with your fiancée because she's going to murder Sue Dibny and Tim Drake's dad!"  

Ah, young love.  The homicidal urges we overlook.

Hey!  It's time for some Fun with Out-of-Context Dialogue (tm!):

Well, that's a request I'd think twice about honoring, but there you go.

See you tomorrow!


David said...

IMHO, stretching powers are incompatible with brooding genius types. Reed should have had a power that better fit his personality, like the rest of the FF. He may have been a genius, but he didn't have near the imagination of Ralph or Plas when it came to using his powers, which, as you say, are made for comedy.

Adam Barnett said...

I give credit to an issue of the first volume of What If? that kind of explained the FF's choice of powers. Sue was in the background of the group, therefore invisible. Johnny Storm was impulsive and hot-tempered like fire. Ben Grimm's personality matched his new brutish exterior, and Reed? Well, as a scientist, Reed would stretch to any lengths to get to the truth.

Hey, it was as good an explanation as any. I still prefer Ralph and Plas.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Agreed, Adam. But I honestly don't get the (fairly recent) love for Plastic Man. He was great in the 40s, but then you get Kyle Baker funny and Grant Morrison serious in the same decade. I always though EM was a cooler concept, and yes he was in JLI, but everyone was goofy back then.

Adam Barnett said...

To be honest, Wayne, I prefer a more serious Plastic Man (JLA-era): A prankster who laughs so that he doesn't cry. He had more depth that way. These days, he's presented as comic relief, and I really don't think that's a good use of the character. That said, Kyle Baker did a decent job with him, and in a solo title, I don't know that you could go any direction other than funny.

Ralph? I love him as a detective, and his Justice League Europe history didn't bother me too much. Ralph never took himself that seriously, even though he had great detective skills that I thought were ignored during that era.

Avi Green said...

You know, I don't think what you said about Ray and Jean was funny, nor even about Sue and Jack Drake. That Identity Crisis mini was abominable, and if I'm not mistaken, you actually consider what DC did acceptable, even at the expense of women's rights? If I were Gardner Fox or Johns Broome, I'd be spinning in my grave if I knew that the characters they'd gone to such pains to create were being slighted by people who show no gratitude. Does this also tell what you think of Liz Allen and Gloria Grant in Spider-Man? Ayaan Hirsi Ali really did have some good points when she verified for the LA Times that women's rights are always the first ones up for negotiation.

Some very good comics franchises were destroyed under DiDio, and you're not making things any better by condoning perverse miniseries that only serve to destroy foundations.

David said...

I didn't read it as Adam condoning "Identity Crisis" at all. However I will agree that admitting the very existence of the series and the events therein is more compliment than it deserves.

Back to Plas, only Jack Cole really understood him, and his Plas is the only sane person in a crazy world. He uses his powers in amusing ways, but he's not a clown. More recently, it's been as if Woozy's brain were transplanted into Plas' head.

And with Reed, I always thought the powers were more or less an afterthought. Johnny and Ben get all the big action scenes, whereas with Reed the attitude is, "Oh, yeah, and he can stretch." His real power is usually his brain, which he had before the accident. Honestly, the biggest stumbling block for me was always his nom-de-guerre. What kind of egomaniac calls himself "Mr Fantastic"? It's out of character for Reed, but since it happens in Issue 1, we're stuck with it forever.

Adam Barnett said...

Avi - I took a look at *your* blog, and it seems that we look at comics as a whole very differently.

For a moment, of course, I thought "Gee, Avi sure has my number. He's figured out that by writing this humor column and mentioning books he didn't like, I am contributing to the downfall of comics and the ethical/moral decay of the industry as a whole. And there's my whole stance on Liz Allen and Gloria Grant, who I've never mentioned in the blog but still belies my own poorly-hidden biases and prejudices."

It's a shame there's no "sarcasm" font. Pretend there is one and that the previous paragraph was written in it.

This is a humor blog. I'm not on a mission to improve comics by doing it. I'm also neither trying to advance anyone's cause nor circumventing one. I'm pointing out things I find funny and writing snarky comments in the hope that it gives folks a chuckle during their day. If it doesn't for you, then you're probably wasting your time here.

And I'll leave it at that.

Avi Green said...

Your reply is noted. That said, I don't consider the subjects related to Identity Crisis a laughing matter, and I'll certainly say that DC editorial's actions in the past decade have made it near impossible to find anything legitimately funny in their newer output.

I'm sorry if I misunderstood anything here. But what DC's been doing for more than a decade now is simply distasteful, and I don't think it's something that should be looked at through a comedic lens.

Adam Barnett said...

I readily acknowledge that I tend to stay away from anything beyond the 1980's, when comics took a "grim and gritty" turn, simply because they don't have the "fun" element that their predecessors had. Frankly, they give me so little blogging material that I don't bother with them. There are comics that I read for blogging, and comics I read just to read.

I don't read much in the area of "modern" books... I've picked up Booster Gold, Secret Six, Justice Society of America, Thunderbolts and that's about it. So, a lot of what is going on in the modern universes of the Big Two, I really don't know that much about so I can't comment on it.

Gail Simone's "Women in Refrigerators" should be required reading for anyone creating comics. It's not that the issue of how women characters are treated isn't a serious one - - the message it sends is indeed one we as consumers should ask if we want to support with our comic-buying dollars (and frankly, at $3.99, it better be a dang good read to begin with).

But if I see something to make fun of, I'm probably going to do it. With this post, I was rolling my eyes when I saw the panel because I was thinking, "Oh, Ray... what they have in store for you and Jean. You just don't know. READ THE FORTUNE AND END THIS RELATIONSHIP NOW!"

Remember, the crux for turning Jean into a homicidal maniac was her desire to re-establish her romance with Ray. Her actions were ridiculously extreme (IMHO) for her character and a slight to the mentally ill, further substantiating the myth that all mentally ill people are ticking time bombs of violence. So it would have suited me fine if Ray had never had the relationship with Jean to begin with and we wouldn't have had to put up with that part of Identity Crisis. And don't even get me started about the Dr. Light as a rapist thing.

What I *did* enjoy about Identity Crisis was watching the heroes scramble to protect their loved ones and seeing them respond to a threat where they are their most vulnerable. The rest of it (the rape, the death, the treatment of Jean, the big betrayal) was (to use a charitable term) "unnecessary" to develop that one good element of the story.

Still, unlike Final Crisis, I at least understood what was going on, so in that basic tenant of storytelling, it got higher marks from me.

But I was actually taking a jab at DC for doing what they did to the character over the years. If someone LIKED that part of Identity Crisis, I can see why they'd be picking on me for picking on them. But we actually seem to agree on the core issue, so I'm not sure why it made you unhappy. We just make our points differently. No harm done - it's all good as far as I'm concerned. :-)