Tag Archives: The Subterranean

Pete Persists

Batiuk seems to have a fondness for his diametrically opposed duos: compare Les, for example, whose every endeavor (except I guess Lisa’s Story: the Movie) is met with acclaim, vs. his best friend Funky, against whom the very universe conspires to make miserable. Cody and Owen: the clueless stoner and the glasses-wearing geek. Those Crankshaft teen twins: sugar/spice, naughty/nice. Pete and Darin? Well, they’re equally and interchangeably douchey. But their Silver Age analogues “Flash” Freeman and Phil Holt? Phil, he’s just a nasty, sarcastic little prick, while Flash is generally kindly and even tempered. Batiuk also often has his characters finishing each others’ sentences, but of course that’s not what’s happening in today’s strip. Phil is clearly about to tell Pete to shove his ideas up his ass. Flash! Let the man speak!

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What a Tosser

Does anyone else get the feeling that today’s strip is a reflection of Tom Batiuk’s own creative process? We’ve often see Pete enthusiastically “tossing out” his half-baked ideas as rapidly as they pop into his head. But where Pete’s concepts must now pass muster with a couple of cantankerous comics creators, Batiuk seemingly is given carte blanche by an editorial director who’s probably too busy on Twitter to pay much attention.

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I Don’t Need No Doctor

none
September 10, 2021 at 11:16 pm
The only thing that he has ever conveyed in any of this Atomic Comic trash are the Ideas. That’s it. Here’s the name of the book, here’s the cover to the #1 issue, and everything else – story, marketing, advertising, criticism, reception – is irrelevant.

Banana Jr. 6000
September 11, 2021 at 9:20 am
…“This superhero is based on air” is not a story. It’s not even a character. But whatever, give us the goddamn Sunday comic book cover already so we can get this shit over with.

You asked for it, Banana Jr. 6000! Meet…DDCTDR ATMDS! Those who read Funky only in the Sunday funnies won’t have the benefit of knowing the backstory of the Doctor’s fascinating origin. I think they’d be more likely to assume the this comic’s title character was the figure flying in from the right. The one on the left looks more sinister, and appears to throwing off a whole bunch of “killer watts!” Nobody should be shocked that Batty uses the reality bubble at lower right for three weak electrical puns. Two puns, actually: Pete’s not pronouncing it “revolting.” He’s literally revulsed. Pete is as sick of these two as we are.

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Aristotelian Fistics

Back when he was pursuing his useless MBA, Darin probably didn’t have time to study the ancient philosophers. However, he’s retained enough of Mr. Kablichnick’s high school chemistry teaching to have a narrow understanding of what “elements” are, and he tries to convey his point of view to the new staff. Flash leans in and glowers at Darin, showing the whites of his eyes and his bottom teeth; his towering, elongated head looms over the younger man and threatens to crush him like a toppled totem pole. “They were in Aristotle’s day,” he growls. When Darin unwisely persists in trying to make his case, Phil Holt, who’s been sporting a dopey grin this whole time, reverts to his nasty self, cursing and waving his fist. Our newly minted Comic-Con Hall of Famers are not about to take any guff from Boy Lisa.

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Holt and Catch Fire

A Photoshopped image of Gorillaz member "2-D" standing next to Mindy.

Something about Mindy’s weird mug in today’s strip reminded me of 2-D from Gorillaz.

So much for “we…and I emphasize the we“, huh? The mercurial Phil Holt is content to just sit back and let Flash lay out the Subterranean universe for the rest of the team. Pete immediately sees a crossover opportunity involving an existing Atomik property. Ruby is at her desk, clearly craning her neck to get a better look at Phil Holt’s ass (“Flash” Freeman having left his ass in his other pants). Mindy looks on, saying nothing (and, ok, spoiler: she won’t be given anything to say all week). In the middle of all this, Chester thinks “Did we order a pizza?” as he is startled to see Wally enter stage left…oh, wait, that’s not Wally, it’s Darin, wearing his nerd glasses.

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Subterranean Holt-sick Blues

Happy Labor Day! and a tip of the SoSF hardhat to the estimable Epicus Doomus for seeing us through the latest installment of Les’ Story. Epicus usually throws himself on the grenade of having to post on a holiday weekend, but I have seen fit to give him the holiday off for a change. You’re welcome.

Though he’s really not dead after all, Phil Holt has arrived in that Old Comics Creator Heaven known as Atomik Komix. He’s even greeted by Saint Mopey Pete himself. Phil and Flash have leeft behind their earthy grievances (to the point where they are now living together), and, thanks to Chester’s beneficence, have reunited to “write to life” the Subterranean, the project that led to the team’s breakup years ago. This development easily pushes the median age of the Atomik Komix staff  well north of sixty.

Many of us have wondered why Phil felt it necessary to fake his own death in order to “work without being bothered.” He was already toiling in obscurity when Darin spotted him doing caricatures at a kiddie party. If Phil wanted Darin to have those original Batom covers (which Darin immediately decided to liquidate), it didn’t have to be via his last will and testament. What I think was behind it was this: Phil knew that his “death” would cause Flash to be wracked with guilt over losing the opportunity to reconcile. Now that he’s turned up alive, Phil gets to bask in Flash Freeman’s beaming bonhomie.

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Plumbing the Depths.

As it was foretold in the comments section, today we get a commissioned sideways comic cover. And whadda ya know? The Subterranean looks like if you ripped the spikes off of Doomsday. Or dipped The Hulk in concrete. Or shaved Solomon Grundy and had him running around nude.

Past comments by numerous commenters have been harsh on the Atomik Komix lineup.

There’s not a single AK title that would have sparked my interest back when I was reading comic books. Not a thing. Back then they would have bored me just as much as they do now.

“No new comics to read? Just these Atomix Komix things? Sheesh, I think I’ll go home and do schoolwork.”

Beckoning Chasm

And I would agree. Though I thought the concept and first cover of Stardusters did show some promise with a cast of differentiated characters, a Star Wars-esque grungy space look, and an action heavy tableau. So props to Rick Burchett and Rob Ro on that tip of the Funky Felttip.

But for the rest, all we have is a dumb name, a dumb costume, and maybe a gimmick or a gimmicky backstory. They have to be terrible, right?

Well, yes; because they’re being written by Funky Winkerbean characters, who–in turn–were written by Tom Batiuk. A man who seems stuck in the era of “Why is Superman Forcing Jimmy Olsen to Marry a Gorilla! Twice!”

But if we’re just going off the names, the gimmicks, and facts, the covers…

As we exit this weirdly awful comics arc, and brace ourselves for the blandly awful Les arc that will follow, let me tell you a little story.

Two of my best friends were at a local comic shop picking up Batman, Nightwing, and Transformers comics, when one of my friends saw this.

And I mean LOOK at this! Some kind of smarmy, cocky, swaggering douchebro with a giant star on his chest and a MONEY SIGN in his name.

My friend said. “Who the f**k is Booster Gold?!” And became very offended, (mostly facetiously,) that a character like this: some kind of boring-looking, stupid character, would be worthy of his own DC omnibus collection.

So it was a running joke for us for months that Booster Gold was our friend’s arch nemesis. And to further the joke, I bought her a copy of the first issue of the 2007 relaunch of Booster Gold’s solo title for her birthday.

And we read it. And then the next. And then the series. And you know what? It was great.

Written by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, and drawn by Dan Jurgens, it told the story of a time travelling superhero who wasn’t respected by other superheroes. Because for most of his career he’d tried to use his super-heroics to accumulate fame and fortune . But Booster Gold now was a superhero who had recently gone through the most traumatic experience of his life. An experience that spurred growth in him. The death of his best friend, Blue Beetle.

The first major arc involved Booster Gold going back in time to try to prevent his friend’s murder, only for the new future they create to be a terrible dystopia. Eventually Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) decides that the only way to put things right is to go back in time to die again.

The Bromance is real guys.

Look at Blue Beetle, that’s a weird looking costume if I’d ever seen one! And the thing was packed with a million references to old nonsense that we hardly understood, and a dozen weird characters with wacky gimmicks. But that didn’t matter, because the book was funny, the characters were crisp and distinct, and the story was heartfelt, and we ate it up. And then we went back, and read Booster Gold and Blue Beetle’s old adventures in the Justice League International. We started reading ANYTHING with these two. Because their friendship was one of the best things ever in a universe that included BATMAN. One of my friends and I went to a convention dressed as them.

And all because my friend thought that a cover looked stupid.

What I’m saying is that, in the right hands, ANYTHING can work, any name, any costume, any gimmick, any backstory. That fact is born out in comics history again and again and again. Some of the most critically acclaimed books were made up of D-list characters cobbled together from the Scrappy Doo heap. The New Suicide Squad movie is hoping to make a billion dollars on this premise.

But in the wrong hands the tearful reunion of two elderly men and former friends after literal decades apart can be as emotionally thrilling and meaningful as watching paint dry.

It’s called writing.

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Rag-snore-rok

Hey, we’re finally getting around to the reason behind Flash and Phil’s falling out in today’s strip and it’s… less than fascinating to say the least. Durwood, who asked Flash to elaborate on their split to kick this week off, appears to already know the answer to his own question anyways. So was the primary reason Durwood brought Phil up to Flash so he (and, by extension, TB) could humblebrag about selling Phil’s old comic book covers for the St. Lisa charity? I think that is a reasonable assumption.

I don’t know what to make of the fact that Flash is smiling as Durwood brings up the straw that broke the Holt-Freeman partnership camel’s back, so I won’t make anything of it much like how nothing has been made from this story arc’s rancid ingredients.

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