I have been a comic book lover for practically all of my life. In childhood in the 1960’s I became a Black Panther fan in the barbershop in Rowan, Iowa. While waiting for the inevitable butch haircut which I didn’t actually want, I picked up the issue of the Avengers comic book that featured the original encounter with the Vision. And at that point, the Panther was already a member of the Avengers, battling against the threat of Ultron. He had previously entered the Marvel Comics world in an issue of the Fantastic Four which I had never read, and I hadn’t ever encountered the character in my comic book reading before that barbershop reading session. I spent an hour waiting for farmer haircuts reading and rereading that comic book.
I was thrilled to have Marvel make a movie about one of my all-time favorite Avengers. I would’ve loved the movie even if Wesley Snipes had succeeded in making it in the 1990’s. I was predestined, as the uncritical critic, to love this movie no matter what.
But then they made a movie that was so far beyond my expectations that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the hero all over again. It was simply the best movie Marvel has made so far in the Super Hero genre. I know I said this about other movies they have made, but they keep doing better and better. It was the best example of character development and powerful story-telling that they have done so far.
The villain Killmonger is the most finely developed villain Marvel has created to date. The portrayal was sensitive, sympathetic, and totally gut-twisting while you grudgingly had to condemn the villain because he was obviously threatening to destroy everything that was good as a reaction to the wrong that was done to him.
Of course, you expect a total love-gush of a movie review from an uncritical movie critic like me. I don’t review movies I didn’t love. But there are definitely people out there who don’t like this movie (in spite of a 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes). Some point out that the government of Wakanda has no banks or colleges or research centers (other than the king’s sister’s own) to support the science they are supposedly using. The science is portrayed as being just as miraculous and magical as that in Dr. Strange. Some rather wrong-headed people have criticized the movie for being racially charged and political. But how is an overwhelmingly black cast and production racially charged if both heroes and villains in the story are the same race? Surely Bilbo Baggins and Gollum don’t turn the tide against this movie. Not only are they in the minority, but they are balanced. One good, one evil. So I am willing to summarily dismiss any objections others have to this wonderful movie. I don’t even need to think about that.
I saw the Black Panther movie this weekend. I loved it. I knew I would since the moment they first announced they would make it. Now I can’t wait for the next one.
Born in 1931 and lasting in this crazy, mixed-up world until the year 2000, Don Martin was a mixy, crazed-up cartoonist for Mad Magazine who would come to be billed as “Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.” His greatest work was done during his Mad years, from 1956 (the year I was born… not a coincidence, I firmly believe) until his retirement in 1988. And I learned a lot from him by reading his trippy toons in Mad from my childhood until my early teacher-hood.
His style is uniquely recognizable and easily identifiable. Nobody cartoons a Foon-man like Don Martin.
The googly eyes are always popped in surprise. The tongue is often out and twirling. Knees and elbows always have amazingly knobbly knobs. Feet have an extra hinge in them that God never thought of when he had Adam on the drawing board.
And then there is the way that Martin uses sound effects. Yes, cartoons in print don’t make literal sounds, but the incredible series of squeedonks and doinks that Martin uses create a cacophony of craziness in the mind’s ear.
And there is a certain musicality in the rhyming of the character names he uses. Fester Bestertester was a common foil for slapstick mayhem, and Fonebone would later stand revealed by his full name, Freenbeen I. Fonebone.
And, of course, one of his most amazingly adventurous ne’er-do-well slapstick characters was the immeasurable Captain Klutz!
Here, there, and everywhere… on the outside he wears his underwear… it’s the incredible, insteadable, and completely not edible… Captain Klutz!
If you cannot tell it from this tribute, I deeply love the comic genius who was Don Martin, Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist. Like me he was obsessed with nudists and drawing anatomy. Like me he was not above making up words with ridiculous-sounding syllables. And like me he was also a purple-furred gorilla in a human suit… wait! No, he wasn’t, but he did invent Gorilla-Suit Day, where people in gorilla suits might randomly attack you as you go about your daily life, or gorillas in people suits, or… keep your eye on the banana in the following cartoon.
So, even though I told you about Bruce Timm and Wally Wood and other toon artists long before I got around to telling you about Don Martin, that doesn’t mean I love them more. Don Martin is wacky after my own heart, and the reason I spent so much time immersed in Mad Magazine back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
Comic books are not real life. They are better than real life. They allow you to go forward in your own story with the myth of the super power to bolster your courage. You can face your daily devils and demons secure in the knowledge that, while no one is perfect, we can all at least imagine holding firm to an ideal in spite of the trials we face… being true to a power and a goodness beyond ourselves… being a hero.
I have followed Iron Fist’s adventures since the 1970’s. It is true that I haven’t been as devoted to him and his heroics as I have been to Spiderman and the Avengers. But I love the idea of a good guy in white standing up to the bad guys in black and beating the poop out of them with a good heart and a bare fist, not resorting to guns and bombs and gratuitous killings. Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, has always been such a character to me. Noble because he does not intentionally kill the enemy, like Batman, Superman, Captain America and so many other favorite super heroes.
I admit it, this love-gush of a post is only happening because I finished binge-watching the new Iron Fist series on Netflix. I depend on Netflix now to deliver to me effortlessly what I used to endlessly hunt and scrabble for in the way of idea fuel and motivational electricity. And even though I am a notoriously uncritical critic, I have to say, it was not as heart-thumpingly good as either Daredevil or Luke Cage. But it brought an old friend to life in a way that I never before believed could happen. And I love the way it fit this puzzle piece into the overall jigsaw of the Marvel superhero stories on Netflix. It used characters like the ER nurse Claire and the villainous Madam Gao to connect plotlines in Daredevil and Luke Cage, and the evil but helpful lawyer character from Jessica Jones. Will I watch it again? Definitely. Will I need to draw Iron Fist for myself? Probably. But this is a hard experience to either explain or recapture. Television using comic book heroes, sometimes, at its best, makes life better than it really is.
“Today I thought I would tell you about Bruce Timm.”
“Bruce Timm? Who the heck is he?”
“You know. That artist with that style… you know, the Batman guy.”
“You mean he played Batman?”
“No. He designed Batman; The Animated Series.”
“Oh, that guy… the guy who draws girls really good.”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“He gave all the DC heroes their modern, animated look… their style and flair. He made them angular, immediately identifiable, and powerful.”
“Yeah, I think he not only did the Batman cartoon, all film noir and retro-cool, but the Superman series that followed it, the Justice League, and all the cartoon series and movies that went along with those.”
“But that’s not all he did, either, is it?”
“No, there’s more. He wanted to be a comic book artist, but before he got into animation, Marvel and DC turned him down.”
“I heard he worked at Filmation for a while.”
“Yes, he got a chance to draw and design characters for Blackstar, Flash Gordon, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra; Princess of Power, and the Lone Ranger.”
“Dang! He was busy. But only superhero stuff?”
“In 1989 he went to work for Warner Brothers. He worked on Tiny Toon Adventures.”
“That Spielberg/Bugs Bunny thing? The one with Buster and Babs Bunny?”
“Yeah, that one, believe it or not.”
“Tell me more about the girls. I want to hear about him drawing girls. Wonder Woman in Justice League was hot.”
“Showing you is probably better than telling you. Be prepared to cover your eyes, though. He liked to draw the female figure nude and semi-naked.”
“I like how he draws pretty girls.”
“He’s the artist you wish you could be, isn’t he?”
“Pretty much. He’s about four years younger than me. If I had gone the comic-book artist route instead of becoming a public school teacher, our careers might’ve been parallel.”
“Except he has talent.”
“Yeah, there’s that.”
As Catch a Falling Star was a science-fictiony sort of comedy, one of the questions that I have pursued in internet research is the one I have presented here in the title of this picture-and-Paffooney-filled post. Seriously, the image search of Google’s answer to that question is enough to make you snort milk through the old nostrils as you sort through them while stupidly drinking a glass of milk. The milky nose-snorts are the reason I have not sited picture sources on this post. Cleaning the computer screen took too long. I have merely randomly snatched and pirated pictures. The only picture of a Martian presented here created by me are these two;
I admit to being surprised by my actual research into the whole question of whether or not we have ever been visited by intelligent life from the stars beyond the sky. While I have not found proof that aliens exist, I have discovered there is actual proof that the government, and NASA in particular, have covered something up. And it goes beyond Area 51 defense research. But now that I have got the attention of the NSA and the Men in Black, this post is only filled with a collage of the unreal, made-up, and mostly silly.
Martians Who Make the Mistake of Liking Us;
Inexplicably Goofy Martians;
Probably the only REAL Martians… from the future;
One of the biggest problems with being an action figure aficionado with raging hoarding disorder is the fact that every new dolly has it’s own personality… and sometimes its own evil agenda. Once you own too many of these things, especially the evil ones, it is no longer possible to properly pay attention to what they are up to.
The last installment of Action Figure Comics had the hero, Captain Action (specifically Captain Carl Action) thwarting the evil Doctor Evil by taking away his evil removable brain. (I know I use the word evil far too often in describing the evil Doctor Evil, but he is also repetitively redundant.) I had thought this Achilles’ heel of Dr. Evil’s… er, rather, this Achilles’ brain of the evil Doctor Evil was just too convenient a solution to the problem presented by this irrepressible evil bad guy. But as a rule I find ignorance is bliss. I know now that I was wrong. That was a terrible rule to follow. As a former teacher you are supposed to know that ignorance is not bliss… it is evil. After 31 years of fighting the War Against Ignorance in my classroom, you would think I would remember this. I should’ve been watching Emperor Ming of Mongo more closely… or should that be closlier? Battle scars from the War have left me unsure.
One has to recall that Evil Emperor Ming is really just another incarnation of the evil Doctor Evil under his mask… although not one with a removable brain. Notice that his minion, the evil Doctor Mindbender is no less evil when it comes to redundant use of the word “evil”… and he even commits the further sin of repetitively saying “no-good goody-goody”. “Ach! Ja! Evil use of bad grammar makes my battle scars hurt more!” cries the former teacher driven to write this hopeless drivel.
What’s this? He means to destroy the new bargain bin wrestler doll… I mean, action figure that I just bought? I had meant to keep that as a mint in box collector’s item until the lucha wrestling fans of Sin Cara are as old as I am now. Then I will find one of them with hoarding disorder and sell it for possibly eight dollars. I will have made a whole dollar by the time I’m 109!
Yes, I should’ve been watching that dang evil Emperor Ming more closely! Now he has ruined my mint-in-box action figure by taking it out of the box. What bad thing will he do next? Stay tuned to this goofy old blog. You never know, I may actually continue this story if I can keep better track of what these goofy little dolls are doing.
I have added another page to the ongoing story of the fairy folk of the Hidden Kingdom of Tellosia. I will append it here to the whole of Chapter Two as it exists so far;
So, there you have it. What will happen next? Will Zam be killed? Will the Mouse rescue her? Will Captain Pomegranate fly off into the sunset? I tell you what, I really wish I knew.
Muck Man took his family to see the new Captain America movie last night. I told you they would, since they are a superhero family just learning how to be a superhero family with odor-based super powers. They all loved it, as was to be expected. But it was a great movie experience because it was full of unforeseen surprises.
The first big surprise came from Muck Lad. Muck Man chose the Friday showing at Valley View Mall because Muck Lad had to work both Saturday and Sunday and couldn’t attend otherwise. His job at the Asian Market making and serving boba tea is the most important factor in his life right now. He needs the money to buy a gaming computer. You know how important that is to a teenager in this day and age. But when the time came to go to the movie, as much as he really wanted to see it, his headache was too much to allow him to go. He needed to stay in the Muck Cave with Muck Dog and play RPG computer games instead.
The second big surprise came after Muck Momma drove Muck Man and Muck Girl… er, Muck Woman… to the mall and the movie actually began. Muck Man is such a big comic book fan that he read every Civil War comic book he could lay his smelly hands on back when it was a big multi-comic event thingy in the Marvel Universe. There must’ve been at least a hundred titles to track down, and either purchase to read multiple times, or find in the library to read when Mucky was supposed to be doing other more school-teachery things. And as the movie unfolded, besides the fact that there was a big disagreement between Iron Man and Captain America that made everybody choose up sides, nothing was the same at all! The story was good, and made sense in the context of the other Marvel Movies, but the details were all different and the story was completely new. Not only new, but better! Muck Man was fully prepared to face one of the two major characters dying at the end of the movie, because that’s how the comic books turned out. But in point of fact, the movie found a much better way. Muck Man tells me I can’t explain that point further because spoilers are simply not allowed in a world where heroes are real.
Muck Girl… er, Muck Woman… was surprised at how much she liked the character of Spider Man played by young Tom Holland. The character was played as a teenager. A rather handsome, wisecracking teenager with some killer superhero moves. And a new Spider Man movie was promised at the end. Muck Girl… er, Muck Woman… was enthralled in ways only a Muck teenage girl… er, woman… can be.
And the movie was seriously funny. That was, perhaps, the best surprise of all (even if it is an oxymoron). There were more light-hearted moments than tragic ones, more laughs than tears. It taught Muck Man and his Muck Family a very important lesson about how to be a superhero. Being all dark and violent and Batman-y is fine for DC superhero movies, but it is also the reason we don’t love them as much.
And the delayed-for-another-time surprise was the trailer we got to see for Dr. Strange on the big screen. Muck Girl… er, Muck Woman… is not-so-secretly in love with Benedict Cumberbatch too. The Muck Family’s plans for movies in November are now set.
I recently revealed the existence of a new superhero in Dallas, the Magnificent Muck Man, master of muck and mud and maddening stench. Remember, his superpower is the ability to produce smells so awful they paralyze, neutralize, and even euthanize every opponent.
Now, every superhero needs his secret lair. Batman has the Batcave. Superman has the Fortress of Solitude. The Avengers have Avenger’s Mansion… oh, uh, maybe they’re not all secret. But, anyway, Muck Man has the Muck Cave. Yes, it is based on my house. I am old. I have six incurable diseases. So cleaning is difficult. And I don’t always smell that good myself. But I am not trying to claim I am Muck Man’s secret identity. The fool almost revealed his secret identity by smelling bad in an elevator… so I have to be more careful not to out him.
Anyway, the Muck Cave is Muck Man’s secret lair and base of operations. It is a normal-looking residential suburban house, on the outside. Inside, it is a hideous maze of garbage piles, discarded soiled laundry, random dog poo from Muck Dog, and a layer of wetness from incessantly overflowing toilets. Okay, there is another secret out. Muck Man has kids at home. How else do you explain how an ordinary house becomes an unnatural flowing fountain of filth?
Muck Man is not alone in his fight against evil. He has a couple of sidekicks that haven’t left the Muck Cave in disgust yet. They are teenage swashbuckling Mucklets that aspire to one day become Teen Titans. In fact, Muck Woman has a huge crush on Robin, such a huge crush that she refused to take the name that Dad… uh, Muck Man… suggested. She did not want to be called Muck GIRL. She did not particularly want to hang out with trained muck-rats either, but for a chance to hang out with Boy Wonders on weekends, well…
Muck Lad, however, likes his name… almost as much as he likes living in the Muck Cave. Teenage boys and filth-laden rooms in the Muck Cave are simply made for each other. And Muck Lad can’t wait to use his patented stink-saber on evil. It’s like a Star Wars light saber, except it creates a blade of solid stink that can cut through anything.
As the new superhero team prepares to get into crime fighting, I have it on good authority that they plan to go see the new Marvel movie Captain America: Civil War tonight. I believe they plan to take notes on how it all works.