Convention season is in full swing, and that means that I'm spending a lot of time digging through dollar bins and picking up cheap back issues. The thing is, though, I'm not really looking for the good stuff anymore --- as the title of this column implies, I'm in it for the weird ones. More than anything else, I want the stuff that won't be seeing a reprint anytime soon: '80s black-and-white boom titles, Christian Archie comics about Betty witnessing to Veronica, and weird old licensed books for all-but-forgotten toy comics. That stuff is my jam.
And that's how I ended up reading a comic about cybernetic police officers fighting a dirty cop whose concept of "dirty" mostly involved smashing up a city with a giant robot elephant.
Superhero comics are always gonna be weird, even when the aesthetics of the time they occupy are trying to lean hard into more Serious Issues. Like, say, that time in 1991 when Vandal Savage tried to eliminate the drug trade and the Flash got shot, killed, resurrected by a cyborg, and ended up with a new costume in the process.
The Batman of the '80s was certainly skewing darker than the previous eras, but that was also a time where all the leftovers from the Silver Age were still more or less directing the story. That's how you get lengthy sagas like Batman having a custody battle over Jason Todd against a straight up vampire, and it's also how you get a story where the Monitor hires Calendar Man to murder Batman.
Say what you will about the comics of the first Golden Age boom, but they are almost alarmingly direct, with a tenuous-at-best relationship with the concept of subtlety.
Such is the case with Fight Comics #4, a mag that promised "two fisted adventures of men of action," and delivered exactly what it said it would in every story except one: Kinks Mason, who, all things considered, actually seems pretty vanilla.
If you've been reading the current Superman titles, then you're no doubt aware that things have gotten pretty weird lately. Superman and Lois Lane are the characters from two reboots ago, and Clark Kent's a completely separate person with a secret so strange that we don't really know who the heck he is yet --- and that's before we throw New Super-Man, Cyborg Superman, and at least two Superboys into the mix.
But to be fair, this isn't the first time that there's been a weird split between "Clark Kent" and "Superman," and while it might be the weirdest, it has some pretty stiff competition on that front, too. Like, say, the time that Superman had powers and Clark didn't, even though they were the same guy, based entirely on which set of clothes they were wearing.
It's Valentine's Day, and that means that our thoughts here at ComicsAlliance are turning inevitably to our favorite romances from comics. Well. Maybe that's not the right word, since I'm not sure that a high school love triangle between an indecisive klutz and two girls who would be better off without him really qualifies as romance, but you get the idea. Love is in the air, and when Betty and Veronica are involved, that's naturally going to include a little bit of competition.
That's certainly to be expected, but sometimes, it gets a little too intense. Like, say, that one time back in the '90s when Veronica turned to the darkest sorcery in order to win Archie's heart, and Archie wound up in the hospital.
You know how every now and then, you'll see a cover on an old comic, and it'll stick with you even if you don't actually read the issue? That happened to me with Detective Comics #365. Ever since I spotted it on the wall at the comic book store where I used to work, I've held on to that image of that Carmine Infantino image of Batman and Robin attacking a house shaped like the Joker's face, a brick facade shaped into the ramshackle rictus of their arch-nemesis, with guns emerging from his eyes and mouth.
It's an amazing image, but it wasn't until I saw it floating around Tumblr the other day that I realized I should actually read the comic --- and it turns out that it's one of the weirdest stories with one of the most fun ideas that I've ever seen in a Silver Age Batman comic.
Last week, I wrote about "Manhunt on Land," an Aquaman story where he drove around in a pickup truck full of fish to track down a sea crook who had taken to land for the express purpose of avoiding being dragged back to jail by Aquaman. That in and of itself is a solid premise, but what really makes it interesting is that it was a strange little rarity of the Silver Age: It was actually a crossover with a Green Arrow story in the same issue.
Sadly, the second half doesn't have the immediate hook of a pickup truck that's also an aquarium, but it's definitely a story worth talking about --- not just because of the unusual crossover element, but because it has one of the most shocking endings I've ever read. And for the Silver Age, that's saying something.
If you read through enough back issues of Detective Comics, you'll run across a guy who seems an awful lot like a rough draft for Maxie Zeus. The only difference is that instead of fighting Batman, this guy decided that it would be a good idea to try and recruit the Martian Manhunter, who has all of Superman's powers plus the ability to read your mind and turn invisible. And it works out about as well as you'd think.
The thing you need to understand about Riverdale is that people there don't react to things with the normal levels of emotions.
I mean, that's pretty obvious, right? The entire town --- the entire universe in which that town resides --- is built around the idea that this one teenager is so irresistibly alluring that it has resulted in a 75-year love triangle with dozens of characters caught in its orbit, and even if you're going by the upcoming TV show's version of Archie and his abs, that kind of all-consuming conflict is a little difficult to believe. In Riverdale, overreacting is just, you know, reacting. Which is how you get stories like the one where Veronica Lodge gets hit by a snowball and then very seriously threatens to murder an entire town.
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