Friday, April 11, 2014

Growing Up Nerdy

This week the G.U.N. boys are writing from Parts Unknown.

I find myself attracted to some of the women in comics. Is there something wrong with me?
-Toony in Topeka

Mike: While I’m no longer digging on the ladies in comic books, there was a time when 13-year old Mike would have dropped out of school and married Psylocke if she asked me to. SPOILERS: She never did.

When we were kids, Adam had a Jim Lee-drawn X-Men poster hanging in his room of the X-Men around a pool chilling out in their bathing suits. Psylocke is in the foreground sunbathing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. At that point in my life I relied on Shannon Tweed and Cinemax to help me sort out these weird feelings I was having, but Psylocke definitely joined them along the way. She was my X-Woman and I wanted to be her X-Man. Sorry, Jean Grey, but you can hardly blame Cyclops for being…distracted by her.
Adam: I really do think Jim Lee and many other comic artists are responsible for keeping thousands of comic fans single by setting the bar so damn high. Comics are not the first form of art to exaggerate women; artists have been doing this for years. It’s just a matter of time before Werner Herzog does another documentary on a series of recently discovered cave paintings that are nothing but a bunch of giant boobs everywhere: The Cave of Forgotten Titties.

I’d totally see that.

When I was in my middle school, my developmental years, Jim Lee drew the entire set of X-Men cards. Every single mutant, on little cards, in packs of about 6-10, I can’t remember exactly. However I do believe I asked the card of the White Queen to marry me several times.

Hot women in comics is something that has been going on from the beginning. Hell, look at Wonder Woman. She comes from an island of all women, has a magic lasso that she ties you up with and falls in love with the first guy to crash land into her island! Comic artists and writers know their audience so very well, because most of them used to be among them. If an artist can make a good-looking girl a constant in comics, he or she has got a meal ticket for life.

The fantasy of a perfect woman stretches all through comics, to television and into the movies. Who here didn’t have a crush on Jessica Rabbit? If you’re not raising your hand, you’re a liar! It’s all done in the name of artistic fantasy. This perfect woman that doesn’t really exist, because in a lot of cases (especially with Jessica Rabbit) they’d have some severe health trouble. So don’t feel bad about finding them attractive; it’s not Jessica’s fault, she’s just draw that way. Just please grow out of it, because eventually it gets creepy.

Congrats on both of you making People Magazine's list of sexiest men! My son is 6 years old and wants to start reading comic books. Is there a good place to start?
-Beth in Michigan

Mike: As much as your son may want to jump right into Batman or Spider-Man books, I would be careful which ones he actually picks up. The regular ongoing Batman, for example, is NOT for kids. I know when I was little I went right for Detective Comics and Batman, but even then they were likely a little too adult for me. Now that’s even more so the case. A lot of the ongoing series are geared towards an older audience. I have two little girls that have shown an interest in comic books and the super heroes they know, but I’ve had to steer them away from most major titles on the racks.

There is a solution to this! Most comic books stores have a kids' section and it’s usually filled with titles like My Little Pony, Mickey Mouse or SpongeBob. Marvel and DC also publish kid-friendly super hero books starring everyone from Superman and Batman to Spider-Man and the Avengers.

I also highly recommend Archie comics. They were a staple of my childhood. My mom would buy me Archie Digests at the local supermarket every week and I’d read a different Archie story every night before bed. They’re a great introduction to the world of comic books.
Adam: In 2001, one year after Joe Quesada was named the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics he made one of the most significant changes in comic history: he got rid of the CCA (Comic Code Authority). Since 1954, this self-regulating group had had a lot of control over what was put into comics (hence why there is no appearance of Catwoman from 1954-1966). Now lets be serious, getting rid of the CCA was a long time coming as it was no longer relevant, but it did change comics. Even though it wasn’t always strictly enforced, the CCA kept violence and sex in comics to a minimum. After abandoning the CCA in 2001, the rest of the comic world got rid of it by 2011. These are not the comics you grew up with.

In a fairly recent Batman story, The Joker gets his face cut off by the Dollmaker! Yep, you heard me right. Face. Cut-off. Then hangs it on the wall.
The days of the CCA are gone, and while there is a rating system for comics, it’s hard to find many that don’t deal in more adult themes. If I had to point to a few comics I would recommend right now, it would be Superman and the recent Fantastic 4. I am quite the fan of both these comics, and while they still have adult themes to them at points, I’ve never been taken back by anything in them. I’ve been collecting FF for about 17 years and Superman for about 15 -- before the dissolution of the CCA -- and for the most part they have been relatively unchanged. If you are looking for a truly great “kids” comic, though, I’ll recommend Mike Kunkel’s Herobear. This comic needs to be a movie sometime yesterday. It’s so great, and Kunkel is a former Disney guy so the artwork is super fun and expressive.

Are you guys wrestling fans? Thoughts on the passing of The Ultimate Warrior?
-Bryan in Green Bay

Mike: To be honest, I’m taking the news of The Ultimate Warrior’s (Jim Hellwig) passing a little harder than I thought I would. While I’m currently a casual pro wrestling fan at best, there was a time when I was a kid that I lived and breathed wrestling. I loved Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, The Road Warriors, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Demolition...the list goes on. My favorite wrestler when I was little, however, was The Ultimate Warrior.

The Ultimate Warrior embodied everything 12-year-old Mike could want in a WWE (then WWF) wrestler. He was a MONSTER, so ripped that he looked like a comic book super hero. His long blond hair and kick-ass face make-up were the coolest things I had ever seen. His colors were bright and his energy was non-stop. He was a force and so damn fun to watch.
I first discovered The Ultimate Warrior on 02/23/1990. I was only just getting into pro wrestling at the time and decided to tape Saturday Night Main Event that night. The big match was between wrestling legends Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage with special guest referee Buster Douglas, fresh off of his stunning pro boxing win over “Iron” Mike Tyson. As great as I thought that match was (Buster Douglas wound up knocking Savage out), it was another match that night, The Ultimate Warrior vs. Dino Bravo, that would have the biggest impact on me. Before the match got underway, The Ultimate Warrior gave one of his classic, bat shit crazy interviews that make no sense, yet somehow my 12-year-old brain understood every damn word he spoke. He was mesmerizing. The match itself wasn’t too memorable save for the fact that The Ultimate Warrior made quick work of Bravo, despite interference from his manager Jimmy Hart and The Earthquake. I got the impression that night that The Ultimate Warrior would mow through most guys in the WWF. That was okay with me.

Eventually, The Ultimate Warrior was out of wrestling and so was I. The troubles Warrior had outside the ring are well documented, so I won’t get into them here. Needless to say things went down hill pretty quickly. Some years later, I briefly got back into pro wrestling thanks to the “Attitude Era” (era) and guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. And while the wrestlers today are much better in the ring and on the microphone than most wrestlers of the past, I’ve never felt the excitement and wonder with this new batch of wrestlers like I did when I was younger playing with my Ultimate Warrior Wrestling Buddy.
This past weekend, after years away from pro wrestling and the WWE, The Ultimate Warrior returned to receive his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, an honor pro wrestlers seem to take very seriously. I don’t say this to mock; I actually think they should be proud and take it seriously. These guys and gals sacrifice a lot for their profession and it’s great to see them honored. I mention it because it was truly wonderful to see the pride written all over The Ultimate Warrior’s face during his acceptance speech. Finally, after all these years, The Ultimate Warrior was back. It had been too long. The most touching moment for me, and now the moment that haunts me most, was when Warrior turned to his two young daughters and said that as great as it was being a WWE Superstar, it’s nothing compared to how awesome it is to be their father. As a dad to two girls myself, that moment really touched me.

The night The Ultimate Warrior passed away I checked Twitter before heading off to bed. That’s how I found out he had died. Just two days after his induction into the Hall of Fame and one day after his first appearance of Monday Night Raw in eighteen years, the indestructible Ultimate Warrior was gone. Not only can we unfortunately add Warrior to the sad list of pro wrestlers that died way, way too young, but more importantly and more tragically, those two little girls I saw beaming up at their larger-than-life father at the induction ceremony are now without their dad. That’s wrong.

All day I’ve felt bad for The Ultimate Warrior. Here he was DAYS out from finding his way back into the WWE and back into our hearts again, and now he’s gone. It's unfair. He deserved his comeback and he never got to enjoy it. But while it saddens me that we’ll never get to see the next chapter of The Ultimate Warrior story, I will try to remind myself from now on that if for only two days -- those last two days of his life -- he was on top of the wrestling world again. Right where The Ultimate Warrior belongs.

Adam: Here are a couple of those “crazy” interviews. They’re so great.


  1. If you want to get into Archie comics I wouldn't wait too long.

    I have zero connection to wrestling. I didn't even watch it as a kid. But as the father of two young girls (we should start a club!) the Ultimate Warrior's death has touched even my cold heart.

  2. Damn, Mike, your tribute to The Ultimate Warrior touched me more than the news itself - very sweet.

    Adam (or Mike) - as an old Superman fan, do you have any recommendations for a TPB or Omnibus from the past 15 years or so? I recently ordered Red Son so something other than that please! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Sol! As for Superman, Adam could answer this better than I could, but I can say that one of my favorite TPB of all time is Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

    2. I've got to toss in a plug here for Superman: Secret Origins, because it's fast-paced, entertaining, and Gary Frank draws a Christopher Reeve-modeled Superman that makes me so happy.

    3. (That should have been Secret Origin, singular. Oops.)

    4. Thanks for all the recommendations guys - I'll probably start with Superman for All Seasons because that looks right up my alley.

      I do like that Christopher Reeve Superman!

      Adam - I looked into the New Krypton story and it does look pretty interesting - quite a few volumes though so I might put that off for a bit - you brilliant F This Movie bastards and your impeccable tastes were stretching the limits of my budget with movie recommendations, now comics! Totally worth it though - loving "Saga" - I just got Volume 2 and 3 yesterday and, in attempting to avoid spoilers I haven't Googled stuff about it - is that still an ongoing series or has it concluded?

    5. It's on going. knowing Vaughn it will wrap up around 60 issues.

    6. OOOOoooo! I love omnibuses (plural: omniboo). I ordered the first volume of Fantastic Four Omnibus (the Stan Lee, Jack Kirby run) last night. You guys heard of that team? The Fantastic Four? I think it's based on the Chris Evans/Jessica Alba film series.

      I asked this in the last column comments, but I don't think anyone saw it. Is anyone else excited about Marvel's Original Sin? I love The Watcher(s) and I can't wait to read me a cosmic mystery.

    7. Omniboos are my new best friend - at this point I can't see myself getting back into monthlies but who knew - a year ago I didn't see myself buying another comic book period.

      If you're telling me I should be excited about Marvel's Original Sin, then I am! Know very little about The Watcher(s)...

    8. Omniboos are my co-pilot.

      I'm not telling you that you should be excited about Original Sin, only that I tentatively am. I like when the Marvel Universe goes cosmic. It could suck Superman's monkey Beppo's balls. But I'm excited by the idea.

      The Watchers:

  3. From about 2008-2010 James Robinson did a run that was awesome. My personal favorite was the Superman: New Krypton story arc. Krypton becomes Earth's next door neighbor with Zod in charge... I loved it.