Comics 101
Home

Columns
Comics 101
    by Scott Tipton
One Hand Clapping
    by Chris Ryall
Kentucky Fried Rasslin'
    by Scott Bowden
Squib Central
    by Joshua Jabcuga


Retales
    by Jud Meyers




Mailbag





Site Design and Maintenance by

iNetropolis / Ron Twoeagle
Ron Twoeagle




COMICS 101

By Scott Tipton
Scott Tiptons Comics 101

2014-11-19 - ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG

As the killing off of characters seems to be all the rage in comics these days, I can't help but wonder, "Why don't they ever kill off any of the super-folks I wouldn't mind seeing take a dirt-nap?" Like who, you ask? Let's take a quick walking tour of some of the lower-lights of the DC and Marvel Universes who would probably be better off pushing up the daisies...

CRAZY QUILT: The Joker...the Penguin...the Riddler...Ra's al Ghul...Crazy Quilt? There's a reason you don't see this loser in any of the BATMAN movies. Just look at him.

cq.jpg

The coincidentally named Quilt was a noted artist who spent his evenings moonlighting as a crimelord, and would even use his paintings to issue instructions to his flunkies. That is, until the day a bullet from a rival gangster left him blind. Desperate to see again, Quilt underwent an experimental operation which worked, kinda. After the procedure, Quilt could only see bright, vivid colors. Driven mad by the realization that his career was over, Quilt embarked upon a new career as a costumed criminal, calling himself Crazy Quilt and beginning a series of color-related crimes. With the use of his "color-helmet," Crazy Quilt regained limited sight, could blind others and fire a powerful laser. Still, it seemed like Crazy Quilt himself must have realized he wasn't quite up to a varsity level, as he exclusively battled kids, including the Boy Commandos and the original and second Robins. Hard to believe, but Crazy Quilt was created by none other than the legendary Jack Kirby. Guess you can't hit a home run with every at-bat...

FASAUD: What's most important in a comic-book character? A realistic origin. Take, for example, this fellow here, Fasaud, who first appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR #308. Originally Sheikh Farouk al-Fasaud, this oil minister of the small Arab kingdom of Aqiria was once the world's wealthiest man, until a reporter exposed his criminal ties, resulting in the loss of much of his influence. Enraged, al-Fasaud stalked the reporter to a television studio and attempted to assassinate him with a dagger. Unfortunately, when the reporter dodged, al-Fasaud's knife plunged into a television camera, somehow drawing all the electrical power into his body and transforming him into a living television image.

fs.jpg

Yeah. Because that's how TV works. Once in his "TV" form, Fasaud could make himself solid or immaterial at will, discharge electricity at will and travel along electrical waves. (I wonder if you could "mute" him with a universal remote...) Fasaud later tried to take over American weapons satellites before being stopped by Ben Grimm and his then-teammate Ms. Marvel, and mercifully hasn't been seen since. Maybe there's a special-edition DVD version of Fasaud coming soon...

ROCKET RACER: Just imagine the conversation in the Marvel office around 1977:

Marvel Editor: "We need a new villain for Spider-Man. What do the kids like today?"

Marvel Editor #2: "I hear the kids like the skateboards..."

Marvel Editor #1: "Inspired! Put him on next month's cover!"

Or something like that. Thus was probably conceived the Rocket Racer, one of the more obviously dated members of Spider-Man's rogues gallery. The Racer was really Robert Farrell, a young inventor from the poor side of town who was forced into a life of crime to care for his sickly mother and six siblings. Farrell combined his scientific knowhow with his love of skateboarding to create the armor and super-skateboard of the Rocket Racer.

rr.jpg

The Racer's board was rocket-powered and could travel up to 60 mph, while onboard gyroscopes allowed him to skate right up walls, held fast to the board by magnetic clamps in the boots. His gloves could also fire rockets, and he could channel the rockets in his gloves to deliver a "rocket-powered punch." After a few unsuccessful attempts at the criminal life, the Rocket Racer turned over a new leaf, attending Empire State University and occasionally using his Rocket Racer gear to help out Spider-Man. I'm still waiting for him to make an "extreme" comeback...

MATTER-EATER LAD: The thing about the Legion of Super-Heroes is, there's so many of them, eventually, you're gonna run out of super-powers. Super-strength, flight, electricity, shrinking, growing, invisibility, shape-changing, the list goes on and on, until eventually you end up with our boy Tenzil Kem here, known in the Legion as Matter-Eater Lad.

ml.jpg

He could eat anything. That's it. That's the superpower. Lead? He can eat it. Steel? He can eat it. Stone? Plastic? Diamonds? Eat it, eat it, eat it. Hailing from the planet Bismoll, where the ability to eat anything had evolved after a plague rendered all organic matter poisonous, Tenzil had a fairly respectable career in the Legion, considering his power isn't really all that much good in a fight. Matter-Eater Lad's high point came when the Legion called him in to eat the Miracle Machine, a supposedly unstoppable doomsday device being used to destroy the Legion and the planet. Unfortunately, it gave him a more vicious case of indigestion than most, driving him insane...

BLACK TALON: A voodoo priest from the Louisiana swamps, Black Talon worked with Avengers foe the Grim Reaper in bringing back Wonder Man from the dead as a zuvembie.

bt.jpg

A what? A zuvembie.

What's a zuvembie, you ask? Well, as part of the Comics Code bylaws that put EC Comics out of business in the '50s, certain words were deemed "taboo" and were forbidden by the CCA. (Many of which just happened to be words that appeared in the titles of EC's best-selling books. Funny how that worked out.) As a result, although Marvel was free to use zombies in their stories, they couldn't actually say the word "zombie," which is absolutely ludicrous in retrospect when you think about it. However, "zuvembie" was a-okay.

So Wonder Man was a zuvembie.

Anyway, after Wonder Man was successfully zuvembiefied, the Grim Reaper crated him up and mailed him to Avengers Mansion, which prompted the Avengers to head off to the Bayou and track down the Black Talon, in an effort to get Wonder Man's mind back. As it turns out the Black Talon's pretty good with the zombie magic (sorry about that, I meant zuvembie magic) but not so good with the brawling, as the Avengers roll over him and his minions pretty quick.

It's hard to take a villain seriously who's got a beak and chicken feet... (Then again, Black Talon is the only guy on this list who showed up in BIG HERO SIX last weekend, so maybe he gets the last laugh.)

AIR WAVE: Not every Golden Age superhero was destined to be a classic. Take for example this fellow: Air Wave.

aw.jpg

Fightin' District Attorney Larry Jordan would harness the amazing power of -- wait for it -- radio to fight crime as Air Wave. How so? Well, with a special belt he designed, he could listen into phone and broadcast conversations, and even project his own voice through radio waves. Wow. I think I had a "Mr. Microphone" as a kid that did the same thing. Later, Air Wave got really flashy, and added collapsible rollerskates that allowed him to skate along telephone wires at the speed of electricity.

Seriously. Roller skates. Hard to believe Air Wave never got that invite into the Justice Society, huh?

EMAIL THE AUTHOR | ARCHIVES