Special thanks to TFH, and everyone else really, but especially him! Lucky me, I’m back just in time for the unholy alliance of Batton Thomas and Atomik Komix, perhaps the second or third most sickening development of 2022 so far. Les getting that Oscar is gonna be tough to top.
So this Batton guy just “started coming there”? He just showed up at random local businesses looking for gym equipment he could use? Did someone invite him? How did he even know about the treadmill? This was the only way a guy with fifty years of writing experience was able to work a character based on himself into the story? Why not just use “magic” next time? Would it really be that much more ridiculous?
Batton is in the strip all the time now, yet Batty is still explaining who he is, which means that either a) he thinks his readers are forgetful dullards or b) he has no confidence in the character and probably shouldn’t be using him at all. I’m kind of surprised that Batton doesn’t already work at AK, as everyone else even loosely associated with the comic book business (turns and glares at Mindy) does. He could write and illustrate “Apathy Man”, whose superpower is that everyone forgets interacting with him immediately. He could use that ability to solve crimes or save the planet or something, or he could just half-ass it and milk it for fifty years. Either or.
Quite the crowd on hand in today’s strip, with the first panel serving as the Batiukverse equivalent of the semi-famous crowd reaction photo from the 2017 Academy Awards’ wrong envelope incident. While the crowd of stars watching Marianne are not quite of the same wattage as those in the 2017 audience, I still spy some big names.
OK, I don’t know who this is, but his mouth is huge
The shirtless Nazi who gets shredded by a propeller in Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Dorothy Hamill (what’s with all the sports people?)
But wait, BC, there’s a third option: reprint that eco-sermon from 1972 in every ish of their new comic. That wouldn’t be too preachy, would it? Many of you have pointed out that the Stan Lee “quote” was addressing pollution, not climate change. While both topics are of course related, climate change has only more recently been regarded as a threat. By characterizing it as “climate damage,” Pete’s making Flash and Stan sound like they were ahead of their time.
“[French director] Alain Resnais…was a student of American culture who had learned much of his English from comic books. He was a huge admirer of the Marvel Universe and of [Stan] Lee…Their first project was The Monster Maker, a pop-art parody about a frustrated movie producer who seeks creative and spiritual redemption by making a film about pollution. With gentle direction from Resnais, Lee wrote a full script…The Monster Maker‘s protagonist, Larry Morgan, is an apparent stand-in for Lee himself. Morgan produces schlocky horror pictures that make money and are popular with kids, but he can’t help but feel that he’s reached a dead end. He is despondent about his life and his job, and what he craves more than anything is recognition from an adult audience [emphasis added]. Through a series of story twists, Morgan embarks on a ‘serious’ film project to expose the evils of pollution. There’s some violence, a fire, and then a climactic montage sequence in which a monstrous wave of pollution descends upon New York City, choking the sky, the waterways, and the streets. The true horror, it is revealed in less than subtle fashion, is the accumulation of garbage that we so callously resign to landfills, mindless of the terrible price that we might pay in the future.
“The movie closes with a voice-over:
“…At one point in the movie, Larry Morgan tells his ex-wife, Catherine, about his new, meaningful work. She glows with pride: ‘Larry, you must have known how I always felt about those shallow horror films of yours. I always wondered how you could bring yourself to keep grinding out such juvenile, unintellectual pablum. But now, to think of you tackling a worthwhile theme like pollution—to think of you turning your back on commercialism in order to say something that must be said—Oh, Larry—I can’t tell you how thrilled—how proud of you I am.‘ Unlike Morgan, Lee wasn’t exactly turning his back on commercialism. He and Resnais sold The Monster Maker in 1971 for $25,000. The script gathered dust and was never made.”
Raphael, Jordan and Spurgeon, Tom. Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book. 2003
Don’t you remember, Tom…? The comic book column that Flash wrote was called “Bullpen Boasts.” Like “Bullpen Bulletins,” which was what Stan Lee called the page that he created in Marvel Comics. I suppose the title could have changed over time, the way “Bullpen Bulletins” would become “Stan’s Soapbox” (hat tip Uncle Wikipedia).
Is Pete eating an invisible apple or clutching an invisible oxygen mask? Discuss.
I actually like Flash’s misconstrual of Pete’s concept–in which the Elemental Force use their mediocre superpowers to punish humanity for climate crimes–much better than what Pete’s actually proposing. I’d even rather see a Captain Planet ripoff, which is where a couple snarkers have suggested this was going. “They should battle human inaction!” What’s that going to look like in a comic book? Probably less like Cap’n Planet and more like Woodsy Owl.
ComicBookHarriet February 27, 2022 at 11:00 pm
You just introduced the Strong Force. Four villains that need to be fleshed out and differentiated. That can get you through an entire 12 issue year, if not more.
Suicide Squirrel February 28, 2022 at 4:56 pm
New villains for the Elementals Force? Already?…Has the mighty ‘Strong Force’ already been dispatched? Were they defeated on that comic book cover before the story even started?
Pete’s eyebags threaten to engulf his prominent nose.
One of the “contemporary issues affecting young adults” that Batiuk depicts “in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner” is climate change. Jim Kablichnick has long been Batty’s go-to mouthpiece, while more recently, Funky and Les each have held forth on this important topic. Now barely three weeks after they’ved developed a personal, subatomic foe for each of their four elemental heroes, Pete hijacks the newly created franchise with a climate change angle, even leveraging his wildfire survivor cred to make his point.
Your genial host weighed in yesterday about snarkers who suggest that Tom Batiuk, who will turn 75 in two weeks, is experiencing cognitive decline. They point to the countless inconsistencies in character, plot, and overall quality of his two franchise strips. My take is that Batty works for a syndicate that’s happy just to have a fifty year old comic title to offer its paying customers, while providing minimal if any editorial oversight.
I give you today’s strip as evidence that TB has still got it, whatever “it” in his case means. Pete chimes in with the same remark he uttered three weeks ago, and naturally we hate-readers and everyone else is supposed to exclaim “got the reference!” Meanwhile, Pete really needs a new joke.
Wow, what an ugly, ungainly mess this one is. The vertical single-paneler is possibly the most annoying FW gimmick of them all, but cramming it full of TWENTY word balloons takes this debacle to a whole new level of stupid. As usual, the gag here (“it’s all already been done”) is fine in and of itself, but the execution is botched, bungled and mangled beyond belief to the point where only hardcore FW readers will “get” it and even then it’s iffy. Thus far in 2022 there’s been a noticeable decline in the quality of the strip’s wry banter, to a point where you have to seriously wonder if perhaps there’s some sort of legitimate cognitive impairment involved. Or maybe it’s just the shittiness of the premise, it’s tough to tell one way or the other.
Wow, this Flash asshole sure has an attitude on him, especially considering how Pete got him his current gig after he more or less just wandered in off the street. Once again we see another stellar example of BatYam intentions being clear, but his dialog being all askew and peculiar. I guess “you mean like humans?” wouldn’t fit in the word balloon. Not that it would have helped all that much, but still.