Marvel had the Glob, Skywald had the Heap, Warren Publications had Marvin the Dead-Thing. There was the Bog Beast at Atlas Comics and the Monster in the Muck at Charlton, while Gold Key Comics offered the Lurker in the Swamp, and the Beast of the Bayou.
As bizarre as it sounds, there was actually something of a vogue in early to mid ’70s funny-books for human corpses emerging from the murk, walking the earth shrouded in goo, and getting involved in other people’s problems. If these stories teach us anything, it’s that some things just refuse to die, especially the propensity for comic book writers to copy off each other.
Honestly, the fact that even one of these lunatic ’70s swamp monster characters managed to survive through the decades as the star of a superhero comic is hard to believe, and yet we find ourselves blessed with two of them: DC Comics’ Swamp Thing, and Marvel Comics’ Man-Thing. It just goes to show what you can achieve, when you put an infinite number of monkeys in charge of your pop culture.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.30: And Another Thing
Welcome back to another episode of What Doesn’t Make Sense in the First Twenty-Five Minutes of Swamp Thing, my personal quest to puzzle out what the hell anybody is talking about in this movie.
Just to be clear, I am fully aware that the abyss is gazing also into me. I’m becoming the confusing, nonsensical and poorly-lit creature, muttering biology words in the corner of my crowded laboratory. Someday I will be free of this lab scene, but not today. Not today.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.13: The Birth of Tragedy
“Where the hell’s my man?” Harry Ritter hollers. “I thought he was back!” He’s right over there.
That’s how we’re introduced to project field supervisor Harry Ritter, who’s coming in hot. I don’t know if you know what a project field supervisor does, but whatever it is, it’s terrifying.
“What’s going on here?” He’s still freaking out. “Get those crates into the church! You men in the boat, what the hell do you think you’re doing? Get that damn thing outta sight! Lamebrains!” I thought this project was supposed to be hush-hush.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.6: The Endless Anger of Harry Ritter
Well, you know what they say: there are two sides to every story, and vice versa. The other day, I told you about the narrative pressures in the early days that encouraged the writers of the Superman comic books and radio show to change the characterization of Lois Lane, gradually making her more friendly towards Clark so that the two of them could get involved in a wider variety of stories.
But that change in Superman’s universe caused an equal and opposite reaction — creating a flip side, parallel version of Lois from the upside down, who gradually turned darker and meaner, until she became Superman’s first recurring supervillain. It’s time to break the silence about the year of evil Lois clones.
Continue reading Superman 1.40: Everyone Looks Like Lois
Metropolis, at last! After forty-seven minutes and six weeks of blog posts, we are finally making landfall on the scene of an actual Superman movie.
Metropolis is the big time, where an up-and-coming newshound and secret frequent flyer from the Midwest can find his true calling — scoops to break, women to fall helplessly in love with, and super-villains to discourage. Complex and thrilling, the City of Tomorrow has all of the promise, danger and heartbreak that a newbie superhero needs, to discover what he’s truly capable of. Also, it’s New York.
Continue reading Superman 1.31: Metropolis Now
So here’s the thing: I’m currently telling the story of the development of blockbuster superhero movies in chronological order, and at the moment, I’ve only gotten as far as 27 minutes into the genre’s first film, 1978’s Superman: The Movie.
But while I’m doing that, the world is moving on, churning out new superhero movies at an unbelievable clip, and leaving me even further behind. Out in the world, this history is still unfolding, and if I ignored what’s happening right now, then this project would be a dusty museum piece, rather than a living story that’s connected to who and where we currently are.
So when a new superhero movie is released — which at this point might as well be every couple of weeks — I’m going to write a weekend popcorn post, comparing the new film with the movie that I’m currently writing about, to draw connections between them, and explore where this genre is headed. As of this weekend, the latest release is Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which as far as tone is concerned is about as far away from Superman: The Movie as you can get.
Here we stand, on a family farm in Smallville, Kansas, where Jonathan Kent is about to deliver some inspirational words of advice about restraining our darker impulses in order to find our true purpose in life, and then along comes Venom, who encourages us to do exactly the opposite.
Continue reading Venom: Let There Be Carnage 91.1: The Murderability of Crowds