So long as the comic doesn’t feature Dr. Doom crying.

§ October 7th, 2020 § Filed under question time, this week's comics § 10 Comments

Let’s see if I can get through another one of your questions today, but first let me recommend the new comic book from Ahoy called Penultiman by Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson:

Now, I’m still way behind on many comics from the last couple of years, as I touched upon last time, and in fact spent a good part of last night reading about 15 issues of the current Daredevil series by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto and their pals (verdict: it’s good). So basically I’m not looking to add anything more to the teetering “to read” stacks. Buuuuut I’ll always take a peek at a new Ahoy Comics release, and I like writer Tom Peyer, so ah what the heck, throw it on the pile.

And read it I did, as anything new I take home I’m not behind on I am trying to read right away. It’s very good, drawn in a nicely clearly and appropriate Silver Age-y style by Robinson, which my poor ol’ eyes appreciated. It’s primarily about the relationship between A Superhero and his robot duplicate assistant, and I don’t really want to get into it any more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything. You get a tiny hint on that cover I posted above, but there’s more to the story that definitely plays on the very basics of, well, let’s face it, Superman, for whom Penultiman is a definite analog.

Speaking of which, the first page is a nod of sorts to Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman, introducing the title character in a similar fashion. So just buy it already…it’s great. Two thumbs up from Mike’s eyeballs!

• • •


Rich (who had a brief cameo in Monday’s post) coughs up the following

“Do you think the real-world pandemic, the need for social distancing and masks, and the blunders on the part of multiple national governments in dealing with this crisis will soon be commonly depicted in comics, as well as in TV shows and movies based on same? In other words, do you predict we will see characters OTHER than superheroes and supervillains wearing masks in comics and onscreen for the foreseeable future–and, if so, how profoundly will this change the storytelling landscape?”

I suspect we’ll get comics specifically about COVID-19…I mean, know we are already, via webcomics and small press stuff and the like. But I presume you are asking about the major comic publishers, and whether we’ll see, like, Jimmy Olsen wearing a mask and whatnot, or Iris’s dad Joe wearing a mask in the FLash TV series. (Is Joe even still around? I’m about three seasons behind on that show, too.) And, like, Image or somebody from the front of Previews probably has a “Live in the Time of COVID” semi-autobiographical mini in the hopper.

But as far as other regular titles referencing the pandemic? I…generally don’t think so. I mean, I think recent issues of Savage Dragon have, but I don’t believe we’ll be seeing incidental civilians in, like, The Avengers in PPE. Except, of course, if they decide to do a Very Special Episode of Your Favorite Superhero Comic where they talk about the pandemic or at least some kind of symbolic representation of same. So no, while I’m sure the virus is inspiring plenty of small press/indie work, the ongoing fictional milieus of superhero comics will likely not incorporate it as any part of “the world outside your door!” type of storytelling.

Unless this goes on for another, oh, say, year or two, in which case, all bets are off. But with superhero comics in particular, the pandemic’s inclusion would raise the “World War II” question…if the world’s at war, and the Justice Society of America exists, why don’t they just go capture Hitler? Like, America’s got Superman, Green Lantern, the Spectre, and Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt…they’d have WWII wrapped up in a hot minute. And that requires a lot of in-story handwaving and explanations why our super-pals didn’t put an end to things (like Hitler having the magical Spear of Destiny, which kept the JSA from getting their mitts on him…can’t recall if that’s a Golden Age thing or something Roy Thomas or someone cooked decades after the fact).

In essence, if you had the pandemic as a presence in the Marvel Universe, for example, why wouldn’t Reed Richards have, if not a cure, at least some invention that would stall infections until a cure is found? You’d have to do more handwaving to explain why Reed or some other Marvel U. smartypants couldn’t help, and frankly given the offense it could cause, especially after so many folks have died already, it’s probably best that DC and Marvel and whoever else don’t put themselves in that position.

I could totally see one of the companies doing a one-shot out-of-continuity special to raise awareness…well, okay, sure, we’re all pretty aware of this disease already, I know. But some kind of charity book, featuring heroes addressing the coronavirus, maybe packaged with a specialty mask…that’d be somethin’, I think.

So Rich, I think my answer is “they won’t, unless they do, and I think Savage Dragon already did.” Glad I was able to nail that down definitively for you!

10 Responses to “So long as the comic doesn’t feature Dr. Doom crying.”

  • RIch Handley says:

    That was a good answer. :)

  • Brad says:

    “Hitler having the magical Spear of Destiny, which kept the JSA from getting their mitts on him…can’t recall if that’s a Golden Age thing or something Roy Thomas or someone cooked decades after the fact”

    The latter, for what it’s worth.

    Sometimes the DC covers were more beliigerent than the stories during WWII.

  • Randal says:

    Starlin touched on that in the Death of Captain Marvel. It wasn’t really a satisfying explanation.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “why don’t they just go capture Hitler?”

    That’s probably an issue when writing any of the more powerful characters- while Green Arrow and Batman couldn’t reasonably go over and capture/kill Hitler, Superman or Green Lantern could- EASILY.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    The Spear of Destiny is definitely Roy Thomas’s invention. The reason given at the time why the “Golden Age” superheroes stayed in the U.S. was that they were desperately needed there–the country was overrun by German and Japanese spies, who were routinely breaking into Army bases and killing dozens of soldiers while stealing the latest American super-weapons, or planting bombs in cities that killed hundreds. Really, if Superman or Green Lantern had fled the carnage in the U.S. for the relative safety of Germany, he would have appeared a coward.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I will add that similar conditions applied in the 1950s. Why did the few superheroes still around then not take care of Stalin and Mao? They were too busy dealing with all the Commie spies running rampant in the U.S.

    I will make brief allusion here to a theory I have developed, which is that part of the reason why comics companies leaned so heavily into the anti-Communist hysteria was to counteract the anti-comics hysteria of the same period. This was a way of showing that, no, comics were not trash leading innocent children into juvenile delinquency and depravity, comics were right-thinking textbooks on patriotism and proper civic behavior (which, at least in a 1950s Marvel comic, meant always suspecting your neighbors, reporting to authorities anyone whose views or behavior varied from the norm, and shutting down as subversive any organization that was not 100% cheerleading the U.S.).

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    One last point: One should, in fairness, note that the Human Torch DID, indeed, kill Hitler. However, he waited until Hitler was in the bunker in 1945 to do it, and Marvel waited until 1953 to tell us this.

  • S says:

    Yeah but he obviously didn’t do a good enough job – Hitler came back as the Hate-Monger few years later…

  • Scott Tacktill says:

    I believe that Roy Thomas created that justification for keeping the magic-powered (and Superman) out of Axis territory, but it’s Paul Levitz who gave Hitler the Spear of Destiny (in this story, not as a gift):

  • Chris K says:

    And Paul Levitz took the Spear of Destiny from a Steve Englehart story in Weird War Tales…