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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Ultimate Comic Taboo!

The AFP article touts it as the "ultimate taboo" for a comic-book hero.

What could this be? Super steriods? Dating Catwoman? Wearing a "Bill Shatner" autograph-series girdle under the costume? Kryptonite codpiece under the tights? Wondering aloud why the Incredible Hulk's pants always manage to stay on when he turns green ...and why they're always purple? Doesn't Bruce Banner own a pair of Levi's for heaven's sake?

No, it's revealing your secret identity. Spiderman does it in the latest issue of the Marvel comic "Civil War," right before he changes history by preventing John Wilkes Booth from shooting Lincoln. (Instead, he's disintegrated by Doctor Doom's pinky cannon, while on the way to the Ford Theater Bar for mai-tais.)

The AFP article says that Marvel is calling this, "arguably the most shocking event in comic book history," beating out the DC issue where Batman reveals his secret feelings for the "Boy Wonder."

What's so shocking about Marvel Comics turning their comic-book kingdom topsy-turvy for a bit of free publicity and some quick dough? I always thought that was standard operating procedure since Stan Lee was retired to emeritus status. Now, Marvel's characters die and are reborn with such alarming frequency that you'd think Tim LaHaye was the editor in chief. To recap a little Marvel history, the world's been threatened, nearly-destroyed (depending on the timeline), remade, the universe turned inside out, characters have died, been reborn or rediscovered, or unfrozen (I half expect a Disney-man comic to be in the works one of these days), betrayed one another, cheated on one another, killed, maimed, stabbed, shot, lasered, thumbscrewed, "pantsed", spitballed, goosed, and blown up characters by the thousands... and we're supposed to line up at the local Wal-Mart because Peter Parker decided to let J. Jonah Jameson know who he really is in a press conference?? "It's Parker!! No wonder he was able to get all those close-up photographs!!!"

Somewhere, Oprah is yawning.

What's next, Brett Ratner directs Spiderman III?

How the mighty have fallen. No, what would really be shocking in the world of comics is for Marvel to return to the detailed, personal stories that built their comic empire in the first place. The trouble is, what do you get the superhero who's done everything? DC ran into the same problems decades ago. Their answer: Start all over again. Batman Mark II. Superman, hey can you grow up again so we can make up some new Smallville adventures? That sort of thing.

How about something even more shocking: New superheroes?

That's not bloody likely, because it would take real work. Now excuse me, I must return to my pile of Flaming Carrot Comics.

World Cup coverage now resumes.


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