Hey, there, good lookin’! It’s time for another helping of Tact is for the Week, the article that would definitely cop a feel from other articles on a crowded bus!
This article is a special one indeed; normally, I launch directly into my newest tirade against whatever issues are bothering me at the time. However, in a show of unparalleled mercy (and don’t you forget it!), I have decided to forgo the usual whistle-blowing and launch into a deep, serious discussion about a very intellectual issue… and by “deep, serious discussion” I mean “uninformed rant that doesn’t contribute a damn thing whatsoever to society.” And what better philosophical conceit to rail against than the one thing we all take for granted (besides morning stiffies): time.
Aging is a natural, beautiful process that we all must eventually go through, with two notable exceptions: the ones that die young (oh, Chris Farley, how we miss you) and comic book characters. Normally, the comics audience is pretty forgiving (who doesn’t want to see a hot, young Lois Lane? OR, for some of you, a hot and sexy Jimmy Olsen in all his boyish glory?), but with recent continuity-related events at both Marvel and DC (House of M and Infinite Crisis), the flow of time in the comics world is becoming an increasingly important issue. Most fans have come to a tenuous-at-best understanding that time is relative in the comics world, and that a year in real life may amount to no more than a month or two for their favorite characters. Not that this is a bad thing; if comic book characters actually aged normally, chaos would reign supreme (and bingo night would be a helluva lot more fun). Allow me to provide you with a small glimpse into that horrific, nightmarish scenario:
Let’s say that some small-time crook decides to rob the First Bank of Gotham City. As he runs out of the building with cash in hand, he hears a loud blaring noise. He turns and sees the Batmobile bearing down on him at a menacing 15 m.p.h. (and with the left turn signal on, too), as cars start piling up behind the geezer and honk in frustration. Then, a “whooshing” sound overhead. It’s Superman (on his way to the early bird buffet at the Corner Deli)! As the crook runs off, he passes by the old folks’ home (where, currently, Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance have accidentally swapped dentures. Hilarity ensues). An enfeebled Elongated Man attempts to alert the two former Justice Leaguers, but cannot enunciate his words properly thanks to his sagging face and rotted teeth (stripped of their strength by years of acidic Gingold juice). The Flash is no more attentive than Green Arrow, completely fixated on his Matlock reruns. And Green Lantern is busy watching those “sexy” workout videos, drooling all over himself like Michael Jackson when he visits preschools. After waking up from behind the wheel, Batman puts in a call to the GLA (Geriatric League), who race from their headquarters in Sunnyfield Retirement Complex (West Palm Beach, FL) as fast as their prosthetic hips can carry them.
Or, for you Marvel fans: some punk kid leaves a flaming bag of dog sh** on the porch of a certain stately Westchester, NY mansion. Immediately, the X-Men spring into action! Cyclops (who now sports the name due to his painful cataracts) hobbles over to the nearest handicapped parking spot and grabs his motorcycle (it’s a Yugo). Beast opts to stay indoors; he has since lost most of his hair (he now resembles a bald and pale Bryant Gumble) and tends to get chilly when he leaves the house. While he struggles to stay awake, Wolverine puts down his mush and runs after the elusive miscreant. However, while his adamantium skeleton still holds strong, a large dose of WD-40 is in order, and he sqeuaks to a halt just outside the kitchen. And in case you were wondering about Jean Grey: she became one of those crazed cat ladies, and now spends all her time stroking her pussy…cats. Desperately, Cyclops puts out a call to the other heroes of the Marvel universe, but to no avail. The Fantastic Four, long plagued by their physical abnormalities, have become hypochondriacs (and a constant pain to all who know them). Hulk can’t get large anymore without Viagra, Alpha Flight is busy smuggling Canadian medication to the Avengers, and Spider-man hasn’t been able to shoot off his “webbing” for years.
So, the obvious course of action here is to simply ignore this whole “time” thing and suspend the age of virtually every comic character. I say “virtually,” because there are exceptions; Dick Grayson has long departed from the era of short shorts, and Jubilee is filling out her uniorm a lot better than she used to…
However, given that comics generally stay current with the times, a paradox arises. For instance: how is it that the silver age Green Lantern has only been around for 13 years (according to a recent issue of Green Lantern), yet went on a now-legendary adventure with Green Arrow exploring the complexities of the societal ills of the 1970′s? Either comic books exist in a timeline that progresses at a much faster rate than our reality (the rational response), or comic book readers have decided to collectively say “f*** it,” and let it slide (the actual response).
“So,” you may be wondering, “if readers have already come up with a joint solution to this paradox, why the hell is this fool ranting about it in his article?” Before I address this hypothetical question, I first must demand that you wash your mouths out with soap. Of all places, the internet is no place for foul language (and fie on you for spreading that filth here, in this most pure and clean of articles!).
…Now, then; time for the point of this sermon. In order to fully enjoy comics, one must suspend their disbelief about a number of things (one of which being the concept of aging and time). This same “willful ignorance” also allows us to invest more of ourselves in stories that rely on our ability to believe that people can fly, shoot heat out of their eyes, and lift cars with their bare hands. However, by the same token, I find it highly ironic (and downright idiotic) that these people (the ones that can believe that a man can run at the speed of light) will sit for hours, be it at a convention, lunch room, or online, and debate semantics like Superman’s cup size (it’s super, for Chris’sakes!). If we, as a collective fan base, continue to clamor for “legitimacy” in the eyes of “mainstream entertainment,” we need to stop dicking around! If I can read a story while believing that Wolverine can heal from any injury, then I should be able to read a story that contradicts some dumb little piece of “continuity” without getting sand up my vagina. It’s really as simple as that, folks.
Well, again it seems that I have rambled on a bit longer than expected, so I’ll be brief: this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award goes to: Marvel Comics’s X-Men: Apocaypse Vs. Dracula #1. There are two important things about this week’s recipient: first, that it isn’t a DC title!!! Finally, a Marvel title has come in and ended DC’s three-peat of terror on the Tactless Wall of Shame!!! The second (and more important) thing about this book is what makes it so tactless: it’s Apocalypse against Dracula, for heaven’s sake. The “House of Ideas” must really be running itself dry if this is the best way they can think to resurrect the infinitely powerful terror known as Apocalypse. I mean, didn’t Batman go toe-to-toe with Drac a while back? With all the zombie action lately, and now vampires, you’d think that Marvel is trying to start a trend here. And the worst part of all? Just as with Zombies, I bet that Apocalypse Vs. Dracula will be silly, ridiculous… and arguably the most fun read of the month. Dammit…
So, that’s that. Before I go, I want to reiterate something I said in my very first article: while I may rant and rave, ramble and rumble, (rasp and run out of verbs,) the underlying purpose of this article is to highlight concerns that we, the comic readers, have regarding our beloved characters and teams. I’m sure that you all have something you’d like to see addressed, or at least complain about, so please feel free to tell me what bothers you (I only ask that you not ask me about Judd Winick. I’m working on it!). You can make comments under this very article by simply signing up with the site (it’s painless, free, and as long as you give a real e-mail address, you can lie about all your personal info for all I care!), or you can even e-mail me (the more internet-savvy among you will be able to find out how to reach me). Otherwise, I may eventually start repeating myself…and I may eventually start repeating myself. Get the picture?
So chime in, bi***es! And be sure to tune in next week, when my tireless crusade against the Infernal Machine continues! Arrivederci!