Adscape: The Smith Brothers Play No Favourites

This Christmas past, I was teaming up with my father to get the last few bits of our shopping done and I happened to espy the above package (well, not the exact same one - I don't have my scanner here and anyway it has been in my coat pocket for three months - it looks like it was in a car accident). I'd already spent the last of my cash on quail, so I forced my poor progenitor to buy them for me in exchange for my advice on what sort of candy to get for my brother's girlfriend.

But what could possibly have filled my normally-altruistic heart with such mercenary impulses, and in the very season that Pappy Solstice, Santa Claus, Grampy Tanglebeard and their ilk are examining the actions of humanity with such care?

The answer, as is so often the case when my motivations are opaque to those around me, lay with my obsession for antique media, in this case Silver Age Comics. Smith Brothers ads have been creeping into my brain for years but I'd honestly never thought to see the things in real life and so hadn't bothered to build a wall of cynicism and determination around the affected portion of my brain, like I do for, say, Swffers. As soon as I saw that little white box sitting on the shelf all of the Smith Brothers' virtues, beamed into my mind from the back pages of Batman and Mystery in Space, came crashing down on my consciousness. It was all I could do not to trample small children just to get my hands on them faster.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I love most of their ads. they tend to be adorable:

Oddly, though, they don't really feature any recurring characters other than Trade and Mark, the bearded bros. One ad might feature the ultra-cute singing children pictured above, while the next showcases the Brothers' ability to enter the dreams of sick children:

Actually, that one was a recurring theme:

Thing is, it's always a different kid, even if they kind of look like they were issued the same button nose and tousled hair at birth. Either the Smith Brothers were careful to spread their wisdom around - which makes sense, given that the average child should be capable of retaining the "take cough drops when you have a cough" wisdom - or I just haven't yet encountered the continuing adventures of Mickey Marvel, Boy Box Kite Enthusiast. I kind of suspect that I'm missing out on some further adventures of these next guys especially:

I'm actually kind of tormented by the thought that there might be more to this story. Do Nip and Tuck go on to have further adventures? Was there a prequel to this one or did it really start in media res? Will I ever learn of the origin of their ludicrous nicknames? Certainly there was at least some further mileage in the "buy our cough drops or people might kill you" plot, as evidenced by this ad by competing drop manufacturer Ludens:

I honestly though that Hatchet Hattie was just misunderstood and that this would turn out to be a comic about tolerance, but no, it's about cough drops preventing axe murder.

But I digress. The subject was the non-recurrence of characters in Smith Brothers ads. As I said, there may be many more of the pesky things than I have encountered over the years, but the only character who I have seen in the them more than once - aside from the Brothers themselves, of course - is the beanie kid from the first ad, above, and I'm pretty sure that he is the ultimate factor that led to my Christmastime fall-from-grace.

How could I resist his tuba-playing charms? HOW?

John Buys Comics, It's Official

Underground No. 1 (of 5)

Well, all right. Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber tell the tale of a town and a cave. Crap, wait. I meant to make it sound better than I just did. Let me start over.

The town of Marion isn't doing so well financially and so the people are all for a plan to open up a local cave system for tourism. Of course, the presence of massive crowds of people tends to irreversibly screw up basically everything about a cave's workings, so the area's park rangers are opposing the plan.

And since what I just laid out for you is a recipe for a comic about council meetings and petitions and possibly a bit of filibustering, there are ample amounts of nefariousness, licentiousness, explosions and sass-mouth to liven up the proceedings. The protagonist, a rare-in-comics short lady name of Wesley Fischer, is passionately against the project and, unless I miss my guess, is about to be put in mortal peril because of it.

Plus, it's interesting and written well and doesn't feature anyone in a cape - we might just have a new addition to the "lend to those who don't like super-heroes shelf". Huzzah!

Wednesday Comics No. 12

The end of the great experiment! Let's break down how it all went down!

Batman: Looked great all the way through. I reckon that this story would read better in a single reading than sequentially, though. Hey, what do you know, it's on the front page! It's the easiest one to read! There were no aliens or demons.

Kamandi: My Christmas wish to Grampy Tanglebeard this year now includes an ongoing Kamandi series. Post apocalyptic adventure comics at their finest. There were no aliens or demons.

Superman: I was never very taken by the art but now that this is done I like it a lot more, partially because it, more than any other Wednesday Comic, works better as a complete story than as a series of installments and even more because of today's installment, in which Superman is revealed to be absolutely gigantic, much to my drunken amusement. Also, a lovely Batman gag. There were aliens and no demons.

Deadman: Terrific. This comic looked great and never stopped being a good time, especially with the neato reveal a couple of weeks ago. There were demons but no aliens.

Green Lantern: A decent enough yarn, but it seems.. unbalanced. I'm pretty sure that there were more weeks devoted to flashbacks than alien-fighting. There were aliens but no demons.

Supergirl: Nice and light, in the best possible sense of the word. Brought me nothing but joy and was the only one to end on a note of  adorability. There were aliens but no demons.

Metamorpho: A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of an inkling, but today I was suffused with joy: Gaiman and Allred were continuing the Haney run from where it left off! That alien guy was Metamorpho's mysterious enemy from the 60s comic! The one who was never revealed because the book was canceled! Element Dog! You two beautiful madmen, I love you! There were aliens but no demons.

Teen Titans: I wasn't too sold on this at first, but this was a solid story. The art was very nicely adapted to the format after a rocky first couple of weeks and the plot was entertaining to me. It pleased my brain. Most improved. There were no aliens and no demons. Wait, except Kid Devil. And Ms Martian.

Strange Adventures: Paul Pope wins the awards for best adventure comic of the bunch, best title and best use of mandrills. If he could be persuaded to keep doing this then I would buy Wednesday comics forever. There were aliens but no demons.

Hawkman: Man, I wasn't feeling this one. I liked a lot of moments from it but I couldn't get into it as a whole. Still, the last installment, like that of the Superman story, made me smile and redeemed its brethren somewhat. There were sliens but no demons.

Metal Men: I love me some Metal Men, and this was a decent Magnusbot experience. the penultimate episode was the best. There were no aliens and no demons.

Wonder Woman: Like Teen Titans, a much improved comic. The odd style grew on me after a while and the art looked better suited to the format at the end than it did at the  beginning, but the biggest thing that sold me on it was Etta Candy. I'm a big fan of the Golden Age Etta and this might just be the best reimagining of her that I've ever seen. Woo woo! Also, Dr. Poison is a great villain name. My only real problem is with the whole "last of the Amazons" thing. Is it like, the fact that she's the last of them to be born or are the rest of them gone? Is Diana just hanging around on an empty island? So confused. There were demons but no aliens.

Sgt. Rock: Oh dude. This was lovely to look at and feature satisfying Nazi beatdowns, but... twelve installments dedicated to a guy getting out of a room? That's rough. There were no aliens and no demons.

Flash: This one just kicked my ass on a regular basis. Seriously, just look at some of the design-work on this thing. I think that I clapped once. And neither aliens nor demons!

Demon and Catwoman: I was up and down on this one but the last couple of weeks got me back in the positive camp. I think that the  clincher was the implication that about an hour after the final comic ended Selina and Jason were humping like monkeys. That and the iambic pentameter. There were demons but no aliens.

So that's it. I would participate in this experiment again, doctor. No real insight on the alien/demon thing, just an observation on the fact that they are thick on the ground.

Detective Comics No. 857 - Or should I add the "Batwoman in" part to it? I guess I should, shouldn't I. It's like Action Comics Weekly or the like. In any case, the name that the comic goes by doesn't mean much as compared to the contents, which signify nothing but good times. Take all of the gushing that I have done about this run, even the bit about the octopus man, and smash it together for this issue. A truly entertaining read. And in the back, an appearance by irascible scientist Aristotle Rodor!

Supergirl No. 45 - Things that I liked about this issue of Supergirl other than the general good times of the story: a scrolling newsfeed making reference to the events of Detective Comics, Lois finally calling Cat Grant on her wenchery, the fact that Squad K is headed by the archetypal "leader too tough to wear a helmet like anyone else".

The Web No. 1 - Oog... I really want this  to be a good comic. I'm going to defer all commentary in favour of a SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGMENT. Fingers crossed, gang.

Superman: Secret Origin No. 1 (of 6) - I like it! But it''s late and I've had a couple of beer and I think I'll articulate more about issue 2. One observation: if every interpretation of Superman requires an interpretation of Jor-El then I have to say that that is a good Jor-El. Right up there with the Silver Age and Byrne versions.

New Christmas Tradition!

No reviewing today (or for like, three weeks - what the hell?) 'm just going to formally state my official Comic Nerd Christmas Wish so that whatever holiday spirit looks after my people will know what to get me.

All I want for Christmas is a 6-12 issue miniseries about the Frankenstein featured in Seven Soldiers and written by Grant Morrison. Just that, Grampy Tanglebeard.