Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett takes on Peter Parker's unemployment, a couple of British comic collections, a quick review of Kick Buttowski, and the latest installment of "Marvel character(s) Disney might want to know about."
I often complain at least part of the problem with today's superhero comics is they're completely disconnected with what's going on in the real world; when it comes to 'relevance' the best we can hope for is metaphors that mirror actual events. Well either Marvel wants to change that or thinks taking advantage of the contemporary zeitgeist will get them some free publicity. Either way, "torn from today's headlines," Peter Parker will soon be joining the ranks of the unemployed.
I realize they don't have to worry about offending the unemployed (I'm guessing they don't buy a lot of comic books) but as someone who spent a good chunk of the past two years either unemployed or underemployed I'm curious to see just how "real" they plan on making this upcoming development. Will Peter be applying for unemployment benefits (ok, given the wages that J. Jonah Jameson undoubtedly pays it probably won't be much but something is better than nothing)? Will we see him putting in applications at fast food places then spending his afternoons watching TV Judge shows while updating his Facebook status?
Peter has always been on just this side of being destitute (though I think he'll find there's definitely a difference between being working poor and just plain poor) making him the perfect choice for this scenario. But you have to wonder just how realistic they can make it when, unlike you or me, he could just crash in a spare room at the Baxter Building.
In the past I've expressed my love for British comics (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--I've Got Machine Guns In My Butt!"), but there's just one problem with them; having come out on a weekly basis there's so much material and so little of it is in print. Well Titan Books is slowly changing that and they were good enough to share a couple of their recent releases with ICv2, which passed them along to me.
With its lackluster storytelling and repetitive plots what Best of Roy of the Rovers: The 1970's mostly has going for it is nostalgia, unfortunately that will only work on those with an extensive knowledge of British football and the 70's making this one kind of a hard sell. On the other hand just about everyone should be able to appreciate Dan Dare Pilot of the Future--Safari in Space. Those who only know the character through the recent Garth Ennis/Gary Erskine miniseries will likely by pleasantly surprised by Frank Hampson's stunningly beautiful, overwhelming hopeful version of Dan.
You would have thought that the phenomenal success of Phneas & Ferb, the show that proves a cartoon can be smart, funny and nice, would have sent producers rushing to try and reverse engineer it so they could make more like it. But sadly Disney XD's newest series, Kick Buttowski has more in common with the detestable Johnny Test. The noseless Kick, his chubby frame stuffed into a skintight outfit (making him look like a butterball turkey) is an adrenaline/attention junkie with a monomania for performing dangerous stunts. His parents are clueless and indulgent, his older brother a violent moron and you know his little sister is evil because she's a perpetual contestant on the child beauty pageant circuit. And completing this unpleasant package is his accomplice Gunther, a finger sniffing, perpetually eating fart machine whose existence proves America's obsession with childhood obesity has yet to kill the trope of the fat sidekick.
The Monkey and the Bear. As I've written previously the animosity between members of a funny animal team is usually based on their status as natural enemies (cat vs. mouse, dog vs. cat, etc.). But not since the inexplicable 1950's pairing of Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzalez has there been quite as weird a pairing as Melvin Monkey, the cigar chomping, derby wearing con-man from Brooklyn and Bernard Bear (at least I assume that's his name; Melvin pronounces it "Boinard", but then it's also spelt that way on his mailbox so maybe the monkey knows what he's talking about). The raw, cartoony style and standard stories certainly aren't terrible but they're just a weak tea, "me too!" imitation of the much better material they were obviously meant to emulate, DC's Fox & Crow series.
The three issues of the title published between 1953 and '54 also featured one-pagers and back-ups of Coo-Coo Cat (a kitty who had a full head of black human hair) and Funny Bunny (who didn't live up to his name) and was credited to Howard Post. Post later worked on the Harvey comics Hot Stuff the Little Devil and Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost but is probably best known for creating the Cro-Magnon hero Anthro for DC.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on March 2, 2010 @ 11:00 pm CT
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