It’s mail time here at the good ol’ GotS. Believe it or not, I have received a fair share of emailed questions from my loyal readers over the course of the past couple of months, and like any good blog host, I’ve pretty much ignored them until the day when I was stuck for something to write about and answering fan mail seemed to be the only way out.
So without further ado, here’s a little Q&A with Andy Larson:
Question 1: After reading your Batman vs. Mad Monk comic review, can you recommend any other classic early Batman stories that you consider essential reading? (battykid6453)
Answer: Early Batman from the late 30s/early 40s is really hit or miss. Although it’s very true to the pulp dime store novel roots from which it was spawned, the stories can seem dated in comparison to the Shadow or the Spider novelettes that were being sold at around the same time. Plus, it seems like all comic books from that era had strangely random ideas being thrown in the mix for no apparent reason.
Take for example Detective Comics 34 and the mad schemes of Duc D’Orterre. It seems to be your standard mad scientist style plot, what with Batman taking up the case to find this evil aristocrat that literally burned another guys face completely off with a deadly “ray” and is now after Blank face guys beautiful wife.
Ok, we’re going to ignore the fact that the dude with no face couldn’t eat, drink, see, breath, whatever because his face is completely smooth and just run with the fact that Batman has to find this evil Duc D’Orterre before he strikes again. After tracking him to his hideout and escaping from this giant mill wheel of death, Batman finds himself in a garden full of flowers that have human faces.
Maybe that’s where the faceless guys mug went. This evil genius Duc D’Orterre developed a way to transplant human faces on plants? Not sure why someone would want to go through that pointless exercise, spending years and years crafting specific advanced technology to freak Batman the “F” out, but yeah that’s what we have here.
And somehow the flower people are telepathic and tip Batman off as to Duc D’Orterre’s location. It’s actually not explained very well.
I know shocking that they wouldn’t spend a lot of time explaining this whole weird plant people subplot. Maybe Bob Kane was bored and just wanted to draw flowers with girl faces and wrote a whole story to support that premise. Again not sure. All I know is its completely random and ridiculous.
However, I’m getting off topic. If I was to suggest any really good stories from this era of Batman besides the Mad Monk 2 parter, (and I’m talking pre Robin here so I’m not going include the Joker’s first appearance), I would say the following 3 issues:
1) Detective Comics 29 and 30: The Dr. Death two parter.
Dr. Death is actually the very first super villain that Batman fights in his career and this two part story is incredibly atmospheric, gripping, and full of action packed “serial” style cliffhangers. Batman also kills a lot of dudes in this story so its important from a historical perspective because it really can show readers how far the character has been refined since these early stories but how he still retains some of that same core attributes. I remember reading these issues for the first time in 7th grade and they really stuck with me as something extra special.
2) Detective Comics 36: The first appearance of Dr. Hugo Strange
Ah, yes, Dr. Hugo Strange. If Dr. Death was the first appearance of a super villain in this book, then issue 36 is the first appearance of a recurring super villain, someone that to this day is still used sporadically as the member of the Caped Crusader’s extremely awesome Rogue’s Gallery.
Dr. Strange’s plans in this story compared to others is pretty low key as he just invents a high flatulent fog machine to help his gang rob banks. It is interesting though that he’s portrayed as not only being incredibly smart in this story, but also physically strong. He breaks wine glasses with his bare hands, he tries to choke the living breath out of Bats, heck even his forearms are drawn in such a way that it seems he’s been hitting the gym…a lot.
Of course, there are better Dr. Strange stories to come later including the epic Monster Men story just a few issues later, but that’s technically post Robin even though he doesn’t actually appear in the story at all. so again, this first appearance is really the best the Solo Batman has to offer.
Question 2: After seeing the posted pictures of the Ghosts in their Halloween costumes last year, aka Vision, Thor, and a hot Ms. Marvel/Scarlet Witch, you should do more pictures of cosplay. (Ortigae)
Ok, so this one it’s as much as question as a suggestion, but hey if I think I can write a decent response, I’m gonna run with it.
Basically, Ortigae is right that given the nerdy bent of this blog and my fascination with the female form, there definitely should be more cosplay pics on this blog.
Cosplay chicks are both parts hot as hell and super serious about their craft. In fact, I watched this video about this group of girls that goes to comic shows and dresses up as a variety of different characters (at the time I believe the one was going as Dr. Girlfriend from the Venture Brothers). And they may not know much about the characters they are going as (these ones in particular never watched Venture Brothers), they were committed to making the best costumes and although they were a bit risque, wearing them proudly at this comic convention.
Sure, they probably have those kinds of entertainer type personalities in which they dig the attention they get from nerds slobbering all over them like something out of a Tex Avery cartoon. But I give them tons of credit for the commitment and the pride they take in their appearance.
So to that end here’s a great Cosplay picture of one of my favorite Marvel heroines, Ms. Marvel. This is actually a great costume done by my fellow Ghost, Rob Stewart’s wife, Amanda, who has been on the show a couple of times. I’m a huge fan of this pic as I like the notion of 80s Carol Danvers being into Karaoke for some reason. Belting out some Bohemian Rhapsody or something…It just seems to fit her character to a tee.
Question 3: What was a classic video game that you really wanted to play as a kid that ended up not being as great as you thought it was going to be? (thundermachine_sxf)
Man, this is a tough one. Not because I can’t think of one, it’s because I can think of so many! Let’s be perfectly honest. Most early video games sucked balls. Whether they were unoriginal clones, had programming challenges that couldn’t be overcome, rushed into production without game testing to capitalize on some fad, or all of the above, for every good game released on the Atari 2600 or Intellivision, there were 10 that were terrible.
And it didn’t help that the main way to advertise these games was in comic books at the time, meaning you were constantly bombarded with misleading graphics that often exaggerated greatly how good a game really was.
But in particular, I remember seeing ads for the Kool Aid game for the Intellivision and Atari 2600 and really wanting to play these games bad. Maybe that’s because I was obsessed with the Kool Aid man as a kid as referenced in this blog.
I know what you are thinking. Of course, a Kool Aid man video game is going to suck nads. But I have played several old school video games that were the results of direct product licensing that were actually pretty good (The He-man and GI Joe: Cobra Strike games jump immediately to mind) So I was all about giving these games a shot. And I do mean “games” as because of the system hardware differences these were not the same game ported to both systems, they were completely different games expressly made for the parameters of the system.
The Atari 2600 game despite having more graphical limitations is actually the better of these two turds of gaming, what with the basic premise that you are a pitcher of Kool aid that has to collect all these different colors “drops” or maybe they are “bombs” or…I don’t know. But it’s just a standard dodge and collect game for high score and although I’m still not sure how you lose at this game, I guess it’s passable as entertainment for a short while.
The Intellivision game though is one of the worst games I’ve ever played for that system, which is weird because the Intellivision was Mattel Electronics own system so you would think they would spend more time on making the better game for their own system. It would be like Nintendo making a Legend of Zelda game for the WiiU and the PS4 and making the crappier version for the WiiU. Ok, bad example because the WiiU is an inferior system in terms of hardware compared to the PS4 and the Intellivision was actually the better system than the Atari 2600, but if you think about it like that, then the whole thing makes even less sense.
The Intellivision version is a buggy, overly complex quest game in which you control a pair of kids (or some mutant hybird with two heads and four legs) who run around a house very awkwardly and slowly trying to collect items to make a pitcher of Kool Aid, all the while dodging the Thristies who seem to be able to walk through floors, walls, the edge of the screen just to stop you. And once you make the Kool Aid, the Kool aid man appears for while and then you are back to the beginning doing the same thing over and over again until you finally decide to put your fist through the screen and swear off video games forever.
Seriously, worst game ever. Even E.T. for Atari 2600 that caused the great video game collapse of 1983, is a better game that this smoking pile of computing dung. So yes, thundermachine_sxf, that’s definitely one game I really wanted to play as a kid that ended up being really awful.
In closing, if you have any questions that you want me to answer in a future blog, please click on this link or in the comments section and ask away.
I’ll be sure to get to them sometime in the next couple of months.