Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scanner Sunday - Goofy, goofy comics (2)

That fanfic buddy who's coming to visit me today? He recently admitted there's a certain comic series he's never read, which is one I happen to both own and love. It's a six-issue miniseries from the mid-80's called LEGENDS and it is one of the last gasps of a comics industry that was still essentially making silly stories for children, but casting a hungry eye on an adult audience that wanted more mature themes and (quasi-)realistic depictions of costumed vigilantism and so on. The Grim-And-Gritty movement would hit its stride in the late 80's and early 90's but LEGENDS pre-dates it enough to have some utterly awesome goofiness to it. And since I dug out my issues to loan to my buddy anyway, I thought I'd share one of my personal favorite moments:

I would set up the premise of the miniseries in detail (short version: an evil godlike alien tries to soften Earth up for conquest by manipulating the media and making the people of the world lose faith in superheroes; chaos ensues) except the sequence below is almost completely random in its minimal bearing on the overall plot. It's just a scene of the "chaos" where super criminals are running wild because superheroes are otherwise occupied not getting curbstomped by angry mobs of civilians (seriously). Thus, the following nefarious caper unfolds (feel free to click each scan for a bigger, more legible version, but you'll probably get the gist at a glance):

'You never can tell what might BLOW in' - oh Len Wein, you rascal!
OK, hoity-toity clock auction is gatecrashed by an attractive woman in a bikini. Arguably more of a prank than a felony, but then, the plot thickens:

Hell of an entrance, cliche dialogue and all.
Ah yes, Chronos, of course, who has arrived to steal the rare and valuable clocks because that's his thing. And Chronos has what is inarguably one of the goofiest costumes in perhaps all of comicdom, but that is actually completely besides the point here. What delights me endlessly about this whole scene is its intricacy, especially when you mentally reverse-engineer it. Chronos figures the easiest way to waltz in and take the clocks is to incapacitate everyone in the room, hence the robo-girl (whose name, it is later revealed, is "Tikki") and her deafening bong-screams which knock out everyone who hears them. Although presumably those bong-screams could have been emitted by any electronic device at all. So of all possible delivery mechanisms for said nefariousness, Chronos chose a sexbot over, say, bribing a waiter to carry the emitter in on a tray or any number of other possibilities. Granted, the sexbot provides other benefits as well. NO NOT LIKE THAT. As the caper continues, Chronos pulls some insta-inflatable packing crates out of the robot's abdominal storage space, and when the Blue beetle finally shows up to save the day, Chronos makes use of the bot's self-destruct to mask his getaway. But still, all of those gadgets and gizmos were incorporated into a lifelike automaton capable of walking into a room unassisted, and also scantily clad yet bedecked in clock-themed baubles. There can only be one possible logical explanation for why Chronos would accrue that kind of expense in the front-end of a plan to yoink some old timepieces:


And frankly, I do lament sometimes how a lot of comics today are all about villains who murder indiscriminately and heroines who are survivors of sexual assault and on and on with the real-life horrors, but when I get nostalgic for the comics of my youth, it's not because I think they were simpler. They were, as I think I've made clear above, absolutely byzantine sometimes. But it was a joyful kind of elaborate mess, and just trying to keep up with it was fun. I admire a career criminal for whom the trappings and calling cards of his schtick are obviously more important than the loot itself.

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