Kitchen Nightmares

You know what? Every comic book blog is going to be talking about Guardians of the Galaxy today (sentences I never thought I would write, say, four years ago), so I am going to go in a different direction and talk about something important.

My two great loves in life are super heroes and food. I like my kids and stuff, but I LOVE super heroes and food. These two interests are combined in the The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook..

Batman knows that Green Lantern green pepper pizza is disgusting.
Batman knows that Green Lantern green pepper pizza is disgusting.

I have been desperately trying to get my older son, who is four, interested in super heroes. Since he shares my love of food, I thought this cookbook would be a good gateway.

Most of the recipes involve cutting food into super hero shapes (like watermelon W’s in a Wonder Woman themed fruit salad). A lot involve stencils and coloured sugar and other things I am not ever going to do. Some things are just insane. Here are some highlights and lowlights.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...5000% of your daily recommended food colouring intake!
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...5000% of your daily recommended food colouring intake!

My son REALLY wants me to make this for him. Basically whenever I ask what we should make for any meal, he requests the “tall Superman yogurt thing.”

I’ll be straight: I am not a mother who cares a great deal about my kids eating 100% natural stuff. But it seems like taking yogurt and adding a half pound of food dye is weird. And yogurt is kind of my go-to food for my kid when I don’t want to do anything more than slop some stuff from a container into a bowl (and that’s if I’m being fancy and not just letting him eat it straight from the container). So adding an hour of work to that process is unappealing. Also, I don’t have parfait glasses or long fancy spoons. Or fresh raspberries! What am I, Bruce Wayne?!

However, I would very much like to see Superman eating this dainty thing.

A much more plausible Superman-inspired food is this fun cheeseburger:

Turn it upside down for a Bizarro Burger!
Turn it upside down for a Bizarro Burger!

See, now there’s a creative food endeavour that I can get behind! Cut a cheese slice into a Superman symbol, eat the parts I cut off, squiggle a cute little S on there. I love it! I don’t know what that spinach is doing there because that is like Kryptonite to my son, but this burger is definitely something I would consider doing someday.

Also adorable and not too much work, but possibly insane:

"Mom, can I have my hot dog now?" "Quiet! I'm trying to get this knot tied!"
"Mom, can I have my hot dog now?" "Quiet! I'm trying to get this knot tied!"

That’s what happens when Krypto is a bad dog.

Some of the recipes aren’t even trying:

Why haven't I been sticking pictures of Superman in ALL of my food?!
Why haven't I been sticking pictures of Superman in ALL of my food?!

Green Arrow has a terrible idea for your kid’s lunch:

Speedy! I get it!
Speedy! I get it!
I hate you, Mom.
I hate you, Mom.

Oh boy. Sorry, Ollie. Nice try. You are grossly overestimating your popularity with the kids if you think they are going to eat a lettuce leaf full of celery and gooey chicken in your honour.

Aquaman, on the other hand, knows exactly what the kids want:

Who's the lamest super hero NOW?
Who's the lamest super hero NOW?

Yeah! Just throw a handful of Goldfish Crackers in your cereal, kids! Booyah!

Martian Manhunter is desperately trying to get your kid’s love:

"I have an extra X here, if you want"
"I have an extra X here, if you want"

“Kids. May I suggest placing a fondant X on your cupcakes? It will be super fun. Please, kids, come back. It will only take me an hour or so to make and roll out the fondant.”

Batman knows what’s up:

Serving Face.
Serving Face.

I have been seriously considering making that my avatar for all social media. I could look at that picture all day. What is this food? Who cares? I think it’s a pita pizza with a custom cut tortilla or something. But that mouth. THAT MOUTH!

Speaking of amazing pictures, I am about to show you the most incredible thing I have ever seen. I warn you that you cannot unsee it. I give you: The Plastic Man cheese toast:



"Please kill me!"
"Please kill me!"


Also, these instructions:

You know...without the eyeballs it's kinda just cheese toast.
You know...without the eyeballs it's kinda just cheese toast.

Mmmmmm…I love some edible candy eyeballs on melted cheese. Especially with garlic butter.

I assume you can use your favourite brand of edible candy eyeballs. Try to shop local. I have a guy.

I promise if I ever attempt to make anything in this book I will post pictures. And the book is worth getting, if only to flip through and giggle.

Minor Villain Showcase: The Wind

It has been noted that early Green Arrow tales are basically early Batman with the bats removed. And without any good supporting cast. Plus there are arrows.

The excellent thing about this, at least from the perspective of someone who writes about comic books on the Internet, is that where Batman pitted himself against a small collection of quality villains and a stream of second-stringers, Green Arrow rated Grade B antagonists at best. Virtually everyone he ever fought was an ode to how not to commit super-crime.

Case in point: the Wind, who made his one and only appearance in World's Finest Comics No. 37.

High Point of Career:

I suppose that one could count having the balls to go up against two of the greatest archers in the world using only a high-powered fan as a pretty decent accomplishment, and it is indeed impressive that the Wind manages to stymie Green Arrow and Speedy on two separate occasions:

Impressive, yes, but even more so is that magnificent costume. Just look at it! 

An orange suit with a blue cape/cowl combo, topped with a head-mounted weather vane? By any metric this costume should be a disaster, but the Wind actually manages to pull it off. My best guess as to why this horrible conglomeration is so appealing is that old man hatchet-face sticking out from under the cowl. Evidently the wearing of ill-conceived super-villain costumes are yet another activity that you can add to the list of things that only irascible old men can hope to get away with anymore, like pinching ladies' bottoms or casual racism.

Mode of Defeat:

Twofold! First, Green Arrow and Speedy finally noticed the enormous fan that had been blowing their arrows off-course for the last two days and, instead of walking in a wide arc around the stream of air and turning off the power to the thing, built themselves a giant bow and arrow with which to shoot it. Because a crime-fighting theme isn't worth a damn if it isn't applicable to every situation.

Of course, while they were eliminating the Wind's power of Standing Near an Enormous Fan-Equipped Truck, the Wind himself was making his escape. And then there were about five more pages of horsefeathers that I can't be bothered to remember. The important part, though, is that everything culminated in a dramatic bout of fisticuffs atop an arrow-shaped tower... 

... where the Wind was almost blown to his doom by a powerful gust of wind. It was irony what got 'im in the end, guv.

Low Point of Career:

I'm going to preface this by saying that I love Golden and Silver Age comics. They're great - I'll probably read some after I finish writing this. A large part of reading such comics is accepting them for what they are - if you spend all of your time picking apart the characters and the plot according to today's standards you suck all of the joy out of the experience. 

Having said that... the Wind's plan is complete horseshit.

A man named A. Wynd, an arrow collector, the Wind is unable to acquire the penultimate piece for his collection: a set of the arrows that Green Arrow and Speedy use to fight crime. So he puts on a costume and commits a series of crimes in such a way that arrows are scattered everywhere for him to acquire afterward. AND he doesn't actually complete the thefts that he starts, so that he can't be arrested once he gets what he wants. But having jumped through such hoops to avoid possible prosecution, Wynd immediately lets slip that he is going to complete his collection by straight up stealing a historically significant arrow from the next town over.

What he doesn't do:

Remember that he sent Green Arrow a letter the month before, begging for arrows.

Recall that his name is Wynd, which coincidently sounds the same as the costumed alter-ego he assumes.

Steal that last arrow before abandoning his identity-concealing mask.

Follow Green Arrow around for a week or two, which would have allowed him to collect enough discarded arrows to build another eerie themed house.

Collect anything that is actually at all interesting. That is, anything other than arrows.

The Wind, ladies and gentlemen! His whole dang life was a low point!

 Good night!

Minor Villain Showcase: The Blaze

Today, coming to you from World's Finest No. 7, The Blaze!


High Point of Career:

As with many of the ne'er-do-wells in my Minor Villain Files, The Blaze only really had one shot at the big time and it's possible that he knew it, because the guy went all-out on his helmet in (I am guessing) an attempt to make himself memorable enough to be a recurring Green Arrow nemesis. And he should have been - look at that thing! That is not some sort of mist coming off of the top but rather a metallic flame licking up from his diabolical cranium. Together with the riveted sections up front, the faux-flame makes this the best new helmet that I've seen all year.

Mode of Defeat:

Ironically, it was the helmet that was the Blaze's undoing, and not due to some sort of accident involving a low doorway:

This illustrates what I feel to be the main reason that the Blaze has failed to return, cool look or no: sheer dumbness. Having spent ten pages fighting an expert archer who has already tried to shoot his helmet off once before, the Blaze neglects to outfit himself with a chin strap. Also, the orange jumpsuit loses all of its charm on a helmless man.

Low Point of Career:

The Blaze's plan is clever: set buildings on fire and then rob them in the confusion. However, the way that he sets the buildings on fire...

... that's real low.

So here's to the Blaze. A snappy dresser but a real jerk to birds.


Hip-Happy Heroes Part 2

It's Fat Week, day 2, and here I come with another installment of Hip-Happy Heroes, that rollicking look at the temporary fatnesses of the heroes of yesteryear. Today: it's grab-bag day!

Hip-Happy Hero : Aquaman

Yes, even the beloved Aquaman was no exception to the rule that every character had to get fat at least once before the 60s were through, though in his case  it was less blubber and more blimp.

1. How'd He Get So Big?

One day, as Aquaman and Aqualad were patrolling the seas, they happened upon a raft-bound castaway. They towed him to safety, whereupon he made a startling revelation:

The old man explained that Aquaman could now transform himself into a big fat blimp, a wide thick wall, a stone giant and a long thin arc. Then he died, before he could go on to explain why he hadn't tried to use any of these powers to, you know, try to escape a hideous death on the pitiless waves.

2. What Were the Social Ramifications?

Of all of our Hip-Happy Heroes, Aquaman probably gets off the lightest (so to speak). There's nobody hanging around making cracks about how he should join the circus or complaining about having to pick him up or anything. Aqualad worries a bit about how he might burst, but then that kid always was a worrier. Plus: he uses his fatness to save a ship, so big bonus there.

Before you ask, yes, the Aqua-blimpiness does wear off on schedule six hours later. In true Silver Age form, Aquaman uses up his new abilities just as fast as he can, one after the other, and then they are never spoken of again.

Hip-Happy Hero: Wonder Woman (and Green Arrow, Kind of)

Another crazy adventure of the JLA lands Wonder Woman in the fat soup. Green Arrow too, kind of, though with him I feel that the shortness is more key than the fatness.

1. How'd She Get So Big?

Well, the Justice League were chasing aliens at a carnival, see, and they stumbled into a funhouse mirror-cum-trap, with hilarious results!

All in all, this mirror thing was a pretty fattening experience, as Wonder Woman and Green Arrow both chunk up pretty darn thoroughly, while Flash comes down with a bad case of Thunder Thigh. Heck, even Green Lantern's head looks curiously enormous.

2. What Were the Social Ramifications?

Social ramifications don't really come into this one, unless you count the fact that the Wonder Woman was rendered too fat to fight effectively and so humanity was almost crushed under the heel of an alien overlord. I'm sure that that would have led to some awkwardness at the water cooler.

Oh! and having to get help from Aquaman just to lift your arm, that's pretty embarrassing.

3. Well, How Did She Get Back to Normal?

Well, after the incredibly difficult fight for the future of the planet, Green Lantern remembers that he has a magic wishing ring that can do anything, so he fixes them right up. But only after the incredibly difficult fight for the future of the planet.

4. Can We Apply Her Method to Our Own Lives?

If you have access to a magic space ring then I say go for it. Plus, use it to make me a new computer.

Hip Happy Hero: Blue Beetle

Yep, poor old Ted Kord managed to snack his way to tubbiness, smack in the middle of the Giffen League's heyday.

1. How'd He Get So Big?

Snack food and a sedentary lifestyle were Ted's undoing, though just how he managed to be sedentary while fighting Despero and the like is beyond me. Anyway, he chubbed himself up good.

2. What Were the Social Ramifications?

As can be expected, ted got a lot of ribbing from his team-mates in the League, as well as super-villains, passers-by, Rocket Red's kids and society at large. And he got fired from the League over it. Plus, I think that it may have been one of the reasons that he got the hell beat out of him in a boxing match with at-his-jerkiest Guy Gardner. it was the least respect that... It was the second-least respect that he ever got.

3. Well, How Did He Get Back to Normal?

In the shocker of the century: through diet and exercise. I know, I know: what a chump. He knew at least four Green Lanterns, right?

4. Can We Apply His Method to Our Own Lives?

Well sure, if you're a chump.

And remember: Hip-happy means plump! Good night!

Oliver Queen and the Forest of Plot-Points

I'm feeling a bit sub-human today, so this post's going to be nice and simple.

So: I recently read More Fun Comics No. 105, from waaaaaay back in 1945, when the air was clean and little birds danced on command, and I found myself particularly taken with the Green Arrow story "The Miracle of the Mistaken Miser", for two whole reasons.

First off, the plot, though not extraordinary, is facilitated by what must be the most magical forest in the DC Universe. I believe that the best way to illustrate this is with some old-fashioned cropped images:


Oliver "Green Arrow" Queen and Roy "Speedy" Harper are making the best of a nice day by... standing stiffly in the woods in blue pants. Little do they realize, however, that these are magic woods and they want to show our heroes a good time.

Now, as far as I can tell, Roy and Ollie don't move an inch during the following series of events. Well, maybe they pivot.

First, a confrontation between young lovers and disapproving parent:

"Dad, we'd like you to come to the woods with us - there's something that we need to talk about."

I would be willing to bet that they were planning to hit him with a shovel if he said no, but nobody remembered to bring one. I assume that nobody would miss... what was his name again? Ah. Mr. Havemor.

Good lord.

And then, turning gently to the left, the Wizard Archers get to watch Mr. Havemor try to wheedle a survivalist miser type out of a small chunk of his land, so that he can build a housing development. Because there's nothing that a society-hating hermit loves more than a subdivision next door.

Nothing doing, though. That miser is sitting tight on top of his gold nuggets that he really shouldn't be yelling about all the time. No land for poor Mr Havemor.

I'm sure that you're thinking something along the lines of "That's fine, Johnathan, but maybe Havemor came to the woods to talk to the old guy and the kids were just seizing the day. The whole thing's just a coincidence - there's nothing magical going on."

Well, feast your eyes on this:

Just as soon as Havemmor leaves, crooks show up to steal the gold. I mean, I'm sure that the old guy was distributing fliers reading 'I AINT LEEVIN MY LAND ITS FULL OF GOLD I HAVE SOM NUGGETS' throughout the county on a regular basis, but still: this is a powerful coincidence. The only real conclusion that one can draw is that the forest itself is sentient and is seeking to please its inhabitants and visitors with magical powers, like some unlikely planet on the original run of Star Trek.

The rest of the tale concerns Green Arrow and Speedy battling hermit-robbers, but the real star of the piece for me is Monk, the leader of the gang. Check him out:

Purple suit, huge head, wee little shock of hair up top... this guy's got it all.

It's his facial expressions that really make him a champ, though. Look at that grin - that is the epitome of the degenerate humanity that DCU thugs were blessed with in the Gold and Silver Ages. Annd his bucktoothed pal ain't bad either.

But this:

This is his greatest moment, as he draws things out before shooting the helpless GA and Speedy. He concentrates so much dull-witted evil into one face... the man's a savant, I swear.

He does drag things out a bit too long, though.

Anyway, things turn out okay: the crooks are thwarted, the land is sold to Mr. Havemor and that one guy ends up with a thousand dollars somehow and so gets Havemor's blessing.

Well, close to a blessing, anyway. And Mr. Havemor went on to build a magical subdivision, until it became troublesome and he hired some men to destroy the magic.

And then he had the hermit killed so he could expand his operation.

Good night everybody!