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"Captain America! Stop! It's IMPOSSIBLE for you to eat your shield!" "If I don't, Bucky, I'LL DIE!"
November 29, 2010 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Kerry Callen imagines What if DC published Marvel characters in the 1960's?, then follows up with What if DC published 1970's Marvel characters in the 1960's?. Bonus silliness: Galactus' Helmet Just Gets Happier and Happier!
posted by Artw (37 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh god, Iron Fist. What an outfit.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2010


Now I'll never be able to unsee the face in Galactus' helmet.
posted by Zed at 2:54 PM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ghost Ghost Rider!
posted by analogue at 2:55 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This did remind me of one of my favorite comics I read as a child.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on November 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Mrs. Ghost Rider reminds me of Matt Fraction rejecting "Iron Man Woman" as a possible codename for Pepper Potts.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2010


Also I'm pretty sure Robot Ghost Rider is a Futurama character.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:02 PM on November 29, 2010


The Captain America one is really hilarious (and spot on)!
posted by brundlefly at 3:03 PM on November 29, 2010


There's a manga character called Devilman Lady.
posted by No-sword at 3:10 PM on November 29, 2010


I loved the Monkey Ghost Rider where he was at the zoo and had to thwart the soul eating peacocks of the apocalypse. Their epic battle outside of the pachyderm house (across from the food court) was the kind of thing that keeps me hoping that Hollywood will finally turn this into a film franchise.
posted by quin at 3:14 PM on November 29, 2010


I've waited my WHOLE LIFE for a chance to say this:

"This looks like a job for Matter-Eater Lad!"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:33 PM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Does anyone have any more examples of what he is parodying?
posted by smackfu at 3:54 PM on November 29, 2010


The Silver Age is basically nothing but this kind of shit happening.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:13 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does anyone have any more examples of what he is parodying?

There are whole websites devoted to DC schlock. Here's an old-y but a good-y.

I loved the Monkey Ghost Rider

The link above's got a whole section entitled: "Everything is Better With Monkeys." Indeed.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:13 PM on November 29, 2010


I mean, like, just for example. "The death house," for crissake.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:16 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here you go, smackfu. More here. The weirdo relationship dilemmas DC put Superman through during the 60s are hilariously crazy.
posted by mediareport at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Does anyone have any more examples of what he is parodying?

Here you go.

To spare you some clicking around, it's approximately this:

DC and Marvel are bitter enemies. Horrible, horrible bitter enemies. All through the 1960s, they battled by proxy through comic books. You might not realize it, but that's what was going on.

Marvel, being of a particular assertive bent, tended to make comic books about superheroes beating the snot out of supervillains. Over and over again.

To mix things up a bit, they made their characters occasionally feel bad about it. Or feel bad about having to be the weirdo freak who beats up supervillains for a living. But whenever a threat from space came calling, you could always count on a Marvel comic book featuring somebody arriving ready to apply a beating, unless something inconvenient occurred like an anti-beating ray, or a particularly wracking case of nerves.

DC, on the other hand, was more passive. It'd been through its violent years and was settling down and experimenting with perception and relationships. Their superheroes would explore the limits of consciousness by doing things like, say, marrying Lois Lane. Jimmy Olson married Lois. It's true! Batman married Lois too! Superman married Lois a lot.

To keep from getting staid and predictable, DC had The Penguin marry Lois. Or maybe it was The Riddler. Whichever. Batman married Catwoman - hey, who wouldn't? - and I'm sure even Robin got hitched once, although whether or not it was against his will I honestly can't remember - Wonder Woman was probably involved, either as bride, bridesmaid or, I dunno, wingman. This might sound horribly kinky, but it's okay. It was always somebody's dream, or a "What If?" story, or the writers would conveniently forget that some character had gotten hitched to some other character between issues. Everybody ended up wholesome and virginal after all, due largely to the collective desire for narrative convenience some time during the train ride from the wedding chapel to the motel in Finger Lakes.

There were many other explorations of our humanity along these lines as well. Batman took up surfing. The Wonder Twins made about as much sense as they ever do. Robin studied for his GREs. The Joker opened a chain of artificial salons, and the twist was that his business was totally legit! They all ended just as neatly: Somebody, like Batman, or the editor, woke up and realized it was just a dream.

So the humor for these parodies come mostly from seeing Marvel characters taking a break from all the beating up they were doing to goof around and be silly. And that was about it. Because Marvel characters were frequently prideful, angry, overwhelmed, or angstful, but they never felt like cutting loose and being wacky. And Marvel was very, very angry at DC because of, well, I dunno, but that's just how they always seemed. Angry.

Hope that helps.
posted by ardgedee at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2010 [27 favorites]


Does anyone know of any tutorials on how to create that distressed paper look in Photoshop? Aside from, you know, actually crinkling up some paper.
posted by Ratio at 4:33 PM on November 29, 2010


Also I'm pretty sure Robot Ghost Rider is a Futurama character.

No, but Ghost Robot is a Venture Brothers character.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:45 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


During the Venture Brothers panel at NYCC there was much mocking of fans who complained at the "death" of Ghost Robot. He's a robot! And a ghost! He's already not alive two different ways!
posted by Artw at 4:52 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno ardgedee ... I'd have to say the reason for the difference is simply Stan Lee and his team of editors.

DC had a team that wrote about ultra-powerful, perfect characters without flaws. Superman is perfect. So what the hell do you write about? If you're smart, you can work with that. If not, you get schlocky relationship stories about paper thin, also-ran characters. DC was not smart and went for camp and sold books on the basis of "WTF is that?" teasers on their covers.

Marvel had a team that wrote about flawed, humanistic characters, and each book had a story that more or less picked up when the previous one left off. Sure, they were schlocky in their own way, but they didn't devolve as easily into pure camp because of the characters and the pressures of preserving continuity.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:02 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know of any tutorials on how to create that distressed paper look in Photoshop? Aside from, you know, actually crinkling up some paper.

I've only ever seen it done by scanning a real book and lifting the distressing.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:14 PM on November 29, 2010


This did remind me of one of my favorite comics I read as a child.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold did a version of The Rainbow Batman as one of their cold opens a few episodes ago. Like everything on that show, it was incredibly awesome.
posted by maqsarian at 5:16 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not knowing much about comics (thanks to those who explain Marvel vs. DC in this thread!) I saw the fat Spiderman one somewhere else and just associated it with "Superman Marries a Houseplant!" stuff and assumed it was real.
posted by codacorolla at 5:52 PM on November 29, 2010


Yeah, as a kid, this sort of concept confused the hell out of me. I agree with Cool Papa Bell's analysis but, at the time, would've just put it down to "DC sucks, it's stupid".

Looking at these covers, I'm reminded of the blank-eyed face-palming that seemed to accompany seeing most DC covers (except maybe Batman) - why on Earth was Jimmy Olson so important? why these endless spins on the superhero becoming [fat, thin, gigantic, minute, a baby, an elderly person, opposite sex, a clown, an alien, a villain, a statue, a ghost]? why are the bad guys so ridiculous? why is Don Rickles involved?

For me, comics back then were indeed, "about superheroes beating the snot out of supervillains"; DC, even when they did this, screwed it up horribly. In short, they made no sense whatsoever.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:10 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was always somebody's dream, or a "What If?" story...

And they always called these excursions outside of continuity "imaginary stories".

Just to make it clear that, y'know, this didn't really happen to Superman.
posted by steambadger at 6:14 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Me, I love that stuff.
posted by Artw at 6:14 PM on November 29, 2010


Just to make it clear that, y'know, this didn't really happen to Superman.


Here I have to quote from Alan Moore's opening to 'Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow.'

Cause I loves it so.

"This is an imaginary story (which may never happen, but then again may) about a perfect man who came from the sky and did only good. It tells of his twilight, when the great battles were over and the great miracles long since performed; of how his enemies conspired against him and of that final war in the snowblind wastes beneath the Northern Lights; of the two women he loved and of the choice he made between them; of how he broke his most sacred oath; and how finally all the things he had were taken from him save one. It ends with a wink. It begins in a quiet midwestern town, one summer afternoon in the quiet midwestern future. Away in the big city, people still sometimes glance up hopefully from the sidewalks, glimpsing a distant speck in the sky... but no: it's only a bird, only a plane. Superman died ten years ago. This is an imaginary story...

Aren't they all?"

posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:39 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is this something where you have to read comics to get why it's funny?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:26 PM on November 29, 2010


Now that IS silly! Excellent stuff Art!
posted by Mister_A at 8:28 PM on November 29, 2010


> The Silver Age is basically nothing but this kind of shit happening.

I'd like a taste of what the good people of DC Comics were smoking back then.

Just a taste, though.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:48 PM on November 29, 2010


Only two each?

Well.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:53 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looking at these covers, I'm reminded of the blank-eyed face-palming that seemed to accompany seeing most DC covers (except maybe Batman)

That's funny, stinkycheese, because "blank-eyed face-palming" is a very good description of what Batman is doing on this cover linked above.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:28 PM on November 29, 2010


And all of the shlocky worst, seemingly, drawn by Curt Swan. His puffy, frozen poses on the cover are pretty much my personal warning that I'll not like the story inside. Back then, I quickly learned to run-away from anything that had a Swan cover. When it came to DC titles, I learned I could usually rely on a title that had an Infantino cover, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:02 AM on November 30, 2010


Civil_Disobedient, I'm familiar with Superdickery, but this is the first time that I've opened that site and had one of those incredibly annoying pop-under ads with the videos that have the sound turned up. Talk about your eponysteria.

And Thorzdad, I think that Curt Swan was very well-suited for the job; his conservative style, in which all the men resemble Cary Grant in various degrees of disgruntlement, was suited to the wacky Silver Age hijinks as a kind of ironic counterpart. Some of it, I'm sure, had to do with the writing; the Alan Moore story that John Kenneth Fisher mentions above--a good-bye to the Silver Age Superman, and I believe the last Superman story that Swan drew--was an effective use of Swan's talents; the scene where Mr. Mxyzptlk reveals his true form was especially striking. (Then again, Alan Moore is very good at picking the right artist for the right story and/or tailoring the script for that artist; Dave Gibbons had quite a few years as an artist under his belt when Moore tapped him to draw Watchmen, but his reputation rests almost entirely on that story.) If you want to see a raunchier side of Swan, he illustrated this NSFW essay by Larry Niven, the classic "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex."
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:43 AM on November 30, 2010


From Kerry Callen's site:
Have you ever noticed that early Marvel covers typically showcased a superhero fighting a villain, while during the same period, DC covers presented mostly outrageous, character scenarios?
That, and Superman's boring and stoic perfection sum up the differences between DC and Marvel. However those differences weren't enough to keep people like Jack Kirby, Mark Gruenwald, John Byrne and more recently, J. Miichael Straczynski from crossing-over and doing work for the other company.

One of my favorite titles is Straczynski's re-imagining of Gruenwald's re-imagining of the Justice League of America. It's good stuff, without any dopey humor. In Straczynski's version of Superman, the infant Hyperion is kidnapped by the Federal Gov't and raised by 2 strangers that the infant is later told are his parents. As the boy grows older, he realizes that he has powers and abilities that said parents don't share, etc. until he realizes that his whole life is a lie and that he is a captive. It's good, gritty stuff.

I still haven't gotten around to reading Straczinski's Superman:Earth One.
posted by vhsiv at 6:01 AM on November 30, 2010


I'd like a taste of what the good people of DC Comics were smoking back then.

They were eating rotisserie chicken.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:33 AM on November 30, 2010


Is this something where you have to read comics to get why it's funny?

Yeah, although I've read your post like three times now and I don't get why it's funny either.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:34 PM on November 30, 2010


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