Saturday, December 4, 2010


A tale from the dark side striking like a beast from the east side; the series that grips a nation with anticipation; written by the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour, it is rich marvelous I, Kazkeage, return to burn through another Handbook of the Marvel Universe for you. This time we cover everyone from the Hangman to the Juggernaut. Can we make it? Fear not!

HANGMAN--Funnily enough, the Hangman would soon be killed off after appearing here, in Spider-Woman of all places. Then he popped up after dying in a story in the Marvel Magazine line, which was about to die also. Apparently whatever the Hangman touches, he kills, or something like that. Y'know, for some reason, I really wanna hear Styx's "Renegade" now. Weird.

HATE-MONGER--The tenets of National Socialism, to my knowledge, do not cover cloning yourself, throwing a purple pillowcase over your head and shooting people with a gun that pisses them off. Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler did just that, and for his trouble got shot with a gun that makes people dead. If only he'd pulled this shit in the DC universe, he'd have gotten a power ring and thrown up blood on people. Then again, is the world ready for Pukin' Hitler? Probably not.

HAVOK--Havok, when you think about it, has had a way shittier life than Cyclops. He's been kidnapped by an Egyptian cult who wanted to put him in a box so the head of the cult could grow giant, he's been involved with Polaris forever and a day, and she's either nuts of out of character depending on what day it is, he got his brother's sloppy, crazy, cloned seconds, and worst of all, he was written by Chuck Austen as his author surrogate. To his credit, at least he doesn't whine as much as goddamned Cyclops.

HAWKEYE--Fun Fact: The costume Hawkeye's wearing here is the only time he wore this particular costume bar one. This sort of thing happens frequently in Handbooks and plans change from moment to moment. That said, it did show up in one panel of JLA/Avengers, because Kurt Busiek is a bigger nerd than I could ever hope to be, bless him.

HEADMEN--Here's something that should be abundantly clear to anyone: Steve Gerber wrote comics like he was high, didn't give a fuck, or was high and didn't give a fuck. Don't believe me? Witness the Headmen--four scientists determined to control the world. What's that, you say? Happens all the time? Well, are those scientists saggy skinned because they shrank their skeleton but not the rest of their body, a surgeon who had his head put on a gorilla's body, a woman who cut off her head and put a big jawbreaker on top of her neck, and a guy with lampreys for arms. Oh, and they took out Nighthawk's brain and stuck in in a deer. How this got them closer to world domination I have no fucking clue, but please believe me when I say the Headmen are just about everything I love about comics, bless their demented little hearts.

HELA--I said it before, and I'll say it again--your importance in Asgard is tried directly to the ridiculousness of your hat, and save for Odin, Hela stands alone, usually out of doors, because she has like, three sets of antlers in this pic and God only know how she gets through doorways looking like that.

HELIOPOLIS GODS--Look, far be it for me to insult ancient pantheons of gods, but it's damn hard for me to take a goddess called "Nut" seriously. Yes, I know she's the goddess of the heavens and all that, but when I hear the word "Nut," I do not automatically think of that. Usually, I think of squirrels.

HELLCAT--Chris Rock says that every girl has some daddy issues, and that motivates them to do things that are not necessarily in their best interests, like getting an ugly tattoo, giving lapdances, or doing hits of non-dairy creamer off the penis of Michaelangelo's David. Hellcat makes them all look weak because she married a guy who thought it was a good idea to dress up like a rabid dog, and to follow that up, she married the fucking Antichrist. No, not Jeff Hardy--he's just the Antichrist of pro wrestling, and no, I don't know what that means either.

HELLFIRE CLUB--So Robert Shaw, Peter Wyngarde, Donald Pleasance, and Orson Welles walk into a bar, and decide to get a little kinky. Well, either that or Chris Claremont had that episode of The Avengers where Emma Peel dresses all kinky while he was hanging a clock in the bathroom and slipped on the wet porcelain and hit his head, having a vision of Emma Frost, who is what makes . . .fetishism . . .possible.

HER--No, not her, Her. Her is different from Him in that Her has never been written by Jim Starlin and as such has been left to fend for herself in various continuity backwaters. I understand at one time she was called J'Ridia Starduster. I guess that's more specific than "her," but really . . .not by much.

HERCULES--Hercules is wearing a baldric and a skirt in this illustration, and is standing with his legs spread. I have no idea what he's smiling about. I am afraid.

HEROES FOR HIRE--And they say there's no justice: Luke Cage's office is quite larger than Iron Fist's. Suck on that, gwai lo.

HIGH EVOLUTIONARY--At this point in time, we're only five years away from the Evolutionary War, which pretty much no one recalls with any fondness, and that's such a shame, since it's easily the most magenta coloured multi-title crossover in history.

HOBGOBLIN--I said it before with Dreadknight and since this is the most popular "adapted legacy" character, I will put a question to the people: Is it better for characters to take the name and costume of an older characters and add themselves to that lineage, or for new characters to develop as offshoots or derivations of older characters?

HOWARD THE DUCK--One of the great regrets of my life is that I haven't read all of Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck, which I'm led to believe is his most personal work bar Omega the Unknown, and thus my biggest exposure to Howard is that damn movie, which I actually went to see when it came out. I don't know what's worse--admitting that and showing how old I am, or admitting publicly I gave money to the people responsible for that.

HULK--The Hulk combines three things kids can't get enough of: purple pants, hollering, and breaking shit. If I'm right, this is the point where Bill Mantlo is writing the Hulk as the most absolutely gonzo shit imaginable. Yes, this is about the time he spent an issue trying (and failing) to punch the Puffball Collective.

HUMAN TORCH--While I understand the subtext of each of the Fantastic Four having powers that are indicative of their personalities, the concept of the most irresponsible dude in the world having the ability to burn a city block to the ground with a casual fart is the kind of thing that would keep me up nights if I lived in a comic book. However, I have a regular house and have no need to live in a piece of paper, so really it's just one of those things I idly muse on when the power goes out.

HYDRA--Between this and the Hate-Monger, one gets the idea that in the Marvel Universe, losing World War II made the Nazis even crazier, which is no mean feat when the head of your air force was a notorious crossdresser, and Hitler was a cokehead. Anyways, HYDRA decided the best way to engineer a covert takeover of the world was to dress in loud-ass green and yellow uniforms and yell "HAIL HYDRA!" at every opportunity. They could be in charge right now and we'd never fucking know. Sleep tight, kids.

HYPERION--Hyperion (who is absolutely not meant to be Superman in any way, shape, or form) is really named "Zhib-Ran," and under "Occupations" is listed "Ex-Explorer" and "Ex-Public Menace," which, ironically enough is also on my resume. FREAKY!

ICEMAN--One of the drawbacks of the continuing narrative of a shared fictional universe is that some characters get stuck in one mode forever and every and we get story after story plowing the same ground over and over again. Thus, for 50 years now, Iceman has been the underachieving class clown who must live up to his potential, lives up to that potential for awhile, then goes back to half-assing it. Then again, there's no greater illustration of not living up to your potential than being in the fucking Defenders.

IKARIS--Look, for all the disdain it seems like I have for the Eternals, I will talk no shit about Ikaris, who decided to take a break from space god-ing around the universe and became a pro wrestler named "Iceberg" Ike Harris. That shit is too awesome to hate on. Plus, his time-limit draw with Pistol Pez Whatley in the Omni in 1984 is a five-star classic.

IMMORTUS--Time travel, like cosmic affairs, are a bureaucratic nightmare in the Mavrel Universe, hence Immortus, who tends to get rolled out when they have to explain some bewildering obscure continuity point and spends the rest of his time engineering his own birth by slipping Carol Danvers a cosmic roofie. And to think--most people just surf the Internet when they're bored at the office.

IMPERIAL GUARD--The Shi'ar needed a team of superheroes and weren't interesting enough to create any, so they just decided to nick the Legion of Superheroes for a few hours and hoped that being space bird people would protect them from any copyright infringement lawsuits. Y'know, if the Shi'ar weren't so damn cheap all the time, maybe they wouldn't be getting overthrown all the time. I'm just sayin', is all.

IMPOSSIBLE MAN--Okay, so the Impossible Man generally used to show up when the people writing these things felt like being a little bit silly. He doesn't now, because comic books are serious fucken business, and we don't do the funny ha-ha thing. However, I am mildly creeped out by the fact that one day . . .

IMPOSSIBLE WOMAN-- . . .he decided he could reproduce asexually and decided this one would be a chick and they would have kids and this shit is veering hard in to David Cronenberg territory.

IN-BETWEENER--You probably didn't get past reading his name before the flood of bisexual jokes that could be made flooded through your mind like when the elevators opened up in The Shining, did you? The In-Betweener is one the lesser Starlin creations--initially supposed to embody the nature of dichotomies, ended up being punched out by Thanos. Just like my dad.

INHUMANS (SLAVEHOLDERS)--Whether we've beaten the "Inhumans are slaveholders" meme into the ground yet or not we're going to play that card one more time. Look, I have a hard time sympathizing with a persecuted minority who's completely OK with the idea of having a slave class all their own. Frankly, I'm not impressed with this little game they play called "Let's let the crazy brother pretend to be king for a few days to fuck with his head some more," either.

INVISIBLE GIRL--Not Invisible Woman yet, despite the fact she's already had Franklin. No, to graduate to that she has to turn evil, dress like a female gimp, and miscarry. Shit, John Byrne's lady issues are terrifying.

IRON FIST--Look, I understand that Iron Fist was one of the few kung fu characters with any longevity, even though Master of Kung-Fu was a far better comic--I get that. I just find it difficult to take him seriously when he's fighting crime in capri pants and slippers. I mean, you see him and your first thought is whether "iron fist" is some street euphemism you don't know . . .and don't want to know.

IRON MAN--Hey the Internet, you think we could stop the "Iron Man=drunk" jokes for a week maybe? That ground is well plowed, and we're collectively good enough to go after fruit that's a little higher on the tree. By the way, Tony Stark has been given his walking papers--this is Jim Rhodes pre-War Machine, but hopefully not far away from that epic issue where the Mandarin makes him take his helmet off and he's like "Damn man, I thought Iron Man was a white dude. This . . .this is very awkward all of a sudden." Such a surreal scene for an Iron Man comic.

JACK OF HEARTS--Jack of Hearts is one of those characters that is just completely brainfucked from the ground up. Let's see . . .guy in kung-fu comic gets dipped in weird-ass chemicals, gets superpowers. Odd for a kung-fu comic but whatever. Then he dresses like a playing card and pals around with Iron Man. Fun Fact: Jack of Hearts is constantly emitting small amounts of toxic radiation in the form of vapor. So is anyone who's ever went to a chili cookoff this weekend.

JACK-O-LANTERN--Rather than talk about Jack-O-Lantern specifically I'm going to indirectly talk about Jack-O-Lantern, by way of a parable. Matt Borne was a wrestler for years and years and never broke through to the big time until he became Doink, an evil wrestling clown (as opposed to evil clowns that, y'know, ride mopeds). Jack-O-Lantern did the same thing, except he didn't know when to stop. So dressing up like the Hobgoblin graduates to getting demonically possessed, exorcising the demon, getting cyber-parts, and then finally getting killed off.

JESTER--Is the Jester dead yet? No one ever uses him obviously, because Daredevil is obviously serious fucken business, but I'd just like to be able to yell "Yee-Haw, Jester's Dead!" Hmmm . . .looking on Wikipedia right now. Wow . . possessed by a Ninja demon? Three of them? Man, now I don't want to. Never mind.

JUGGERNAUT--Here's all you need to know about the Juggernaut:


HUMANOIDS--I know this will blow your mind and you can't believe it's true, but sometimes whether due to deadline pressure, burnout, or just general laziness, aliens just look like us and that's that. While it is sort of a failure of imagination, sometimes you just have that moment where you think "OK, the last time I had him visit aliens, they has assholes in their foreheads, so what am I gonna do this time? Oh wait, my paycheck just came in the the mail, I'm gonna blow it all on pussy and beer and this month Captain Shmuck can just visit the Planet of the Affable WASPS from Martha's Vineyard."

JUDANS--If you were to filter the bongwater Jim Starlin hit when he came up with the Judans through your concept of the Jehovah's Witnesses, you'd have the Judans: giant heads with four arms and big red eyes. Jim Starlin, everybody--let's keep it going for him.

KALLUSIANS--So apparently the Kallusians had a big fight with an alien race, and decided to spend a few millennia chilling out (literally) at the North Pole. Then they decided to go back and fight the other aliens. "Their current fate is unknown." Oh, it's known, all right . . .

KAWA--The Kawa come from the Star System Bawa Kawa, and their two representatives are called Brother Doowish and Brother Skagg. I want you to say that out loud right now. Enjoy how silly it sounds when you say it our loud and savor how much you want to giggle when you say it, and that feeling? That feeling is what my love of comics feels like.

KLKLK--It can be hard to come up with a good name for aliens that sounds sufficiently alien. Sometimes people cheat and name them after fancy cheeses. Sometimes, as in this case, they just bash their head against the keyboard and go with the result.

KOSMOSIANS--"Although semi-humanoid in form, the Kosmosians are actually closer in type to multi-cellular amoeboids." Ah, so that's why they look like Dusty Rhodes painted green?

KRONANS--"NAME OF REPRESENTATIVES: Gorr (not to be confused with the intelligent ape of the same name." Well I should fucking well hope not. Here Gorr spends all his time trying to maintain be the best intelligent ape he can be and not throw shit at people or jack off on the houseplants, and here comes this asshole trying to besmirch his good name.

Hey, did you know we're one-third of the way through these? Yeah, and I've not brain my damage yet. As always, if you'd like to guest on one of these entries, just slip a comment into the comment section of this here entry and I'll slot you in for next time. Join us next time when we take a look at K-M "Kang to Man-Bull" next time at the Prattle. I'll be there, as will everyone respect and/or admire.


C. Elam said...

There is a Howard the Duck Essential out there, which reprints the good stuff. Cheaper than the Omnibus, anyway.

The important thing to know about the Hyperion entry is that Mark Gruenwald retroactively declared much of it to be bullshit, despite his probably having written it in the first place. This led to his dissolving into a puddle in Squadron Supreme, which confused the living daylights out of me until I read the NEW Handbook entry. I have never figured that out at ALL.

Jack of Hearts, in addition to having the same secret identity (Jack Hart) as Barry Horowitz, is another product of the mind of...Bill Mantlo.

I give you +2 apiece for working in references to What's Up, Tiger Lily? and Pez Whatley into this entry.

Kazekage said...

I keep meaning to buy the Essential, but I also keep forgetting. I should really get on that.

And that was . . .what? The second? Third? Ninth Handbook entry for him? It doesn't really seem like Hyperion needs an origin that complex . . .it's not like people haven't been filing the serial numbers off Superman's origin since forever now.

Oh Bill, you write sometimes like you don;t know the meaning You know, for all the shit Brian Bendis got for Avengers: Disassembled, did ANYONE complain when Jack of Hearts died, got resurrected, and died again?

Thank you. I have no idea why Pez Whatley was the one Ikaris wrestled, it just seemed like if her were going to wrestle anyone, it would be him.

C. Elam said...

While I will be the first to say that the Squadron Supreme mini was a great use of third and fourth rate characters, I was continually baffled by Gruenwald openly contradicting things that were in the very Handbook series that HE edited. The original Squadron Supreme entry is, as you will discover, a mine-field of stuff that he just flat out made up and then changed his mind.

I sincerely hope Paul Jones was managing one of them.

Kazekage said...

When you get down to it, man, consider that Gruenwald also thought "Cap as a werewolf" was a great idea, and look how that turned out. Much as I respect him . . .his strike rate is something I'm keenly aware of.

I always thought of the Iceberg as more of a protege of Sir Oliver Humperdink, myself.