kirbsday: the guardian fights again!

Well, somehow I got through the Black Racer; I can get through Jimmy Olsen #139 too.

Plot: Jimmy Olsen, Superman, and the Guardian finally leave the DNA Project.  (The Newsboy Legion is quarantined for medical reasons, but slink out anyway.)  Olsen and Clark Kent confront media magnate Morgan Edge, but are diverted into an Inter-Gang trap: Clark gets shanghaied into outer space, while Jimmy and the Guardian only have 24 hours to live!

But you will forgive me if that is not the chief interest in this, the debut of . . . Goody Rickles!

Yes.  It is Don Rickles.  As a super hero.  But with a different first name.  The past is a foreign country!

tell me there is a world where this makes perfect sense

According to Kirby’s then-assistant, Mark Evanier, he and his fellow assistant Steve Sherman were kicking around ideas for subplots and incidental gags in the Fourth World books, and somebody suggested, “Hey, what if Don Rickles met Superman?” as a brief throw-away incident.  Apparently someone at DC marketing loved the idea and insisted that it become the focus of the story, for media tie-in’s.  (Rickles’s star in Hollywood had been rising throughout the late 60’s with numerous appearances on Johnny Carson, and about six months after this story was published had his own sit-com.)  Except DC didn’t do any cross-promotion and neither did Rickles’s people.  So you’ve just got this comic book sitting out there, all alone, like its creator was some kind of crazy person…

So it turns out that Goody Rickles is a Don Rickles look-a-like working at the Daily Planet‘s parent company who is apparently insane.

Morgan Edge, who was hoping to sign the real Don Rickles to some contracts, decides there’s no other option but to murder Goody so that he won’t muck up the contractual negotiations: “The solution is obvious!  This man must be killed!”  (Murder appears to be Morgan Edge’s answer to everything.)  So he sends Goody on a suicide mission to investigate an Inter-Gang UFO.  He sends Jimmy and Clark along too.

Except they get jumped by goons, and the UFO instead vanishes with Clark inside, to Goody’s total befuddlement…

And the others are taken prisoners by Inter-Gang underboss Ugly Mannheim…

Who feeds them a meal laced with “pyro-granulate,” a poison which will cause people to spontaneously combust in 24 hours.  (This is not meant to give Eric ideas about new poisons in the Glantri campaign.)

they do things differently there

Last issue, Superman saved Metropolis from nuclear annihilation by incinerating a litter of tragically mutated Four-Armed Terrors.  This issue, Goody Rickles.

There’s always been absurdity in Kirby’s work.  Sometimes it’s the crazy pulp adventure absurdity of the Savage Land in the midst of Antarctica.  Or the “it must have made sense in his mind, and I’ll go along with it” absurdity of the Black Racer or Flipper-Dipper.  But Kirby doesn’t usually try for slapstick guffaws.  I’m not sure it works 100%, but it’s funnier than most of the Newsboy Legion stuff, and it’s also nice to see some room for silliness in the middle of Kirby’s sturm und drang about the Twilight of the Gods.  Goody Rickles is the Tom Bombadil of the Fourth World Saga.

What’s interesting about Goody, of course, is that he’s a super hero parody by the guy who will be forever linked with grandiloquent super heroics.  Not the first parody either: Kirby and Simon had created a parody comic in the 1950’s, The Fighting American, which didn’t take off, and arguably the Fantastic Four and the Hulk in their earliest incarnations were, if not parodies, then pretty serious deconstructions of the super hero concept.

Anyway, here we’ve got Goody, a put-upon news reporter who is so bullied and misled that he’s evidently become deranged, and puts on a crazy costume not to fight injustice but to star in a movie that will never get made.  He’s a clueless, obsequious, abrasive schlemiel.  It’s not Watchmen, but it’s also not 1986, either.

jimmy, what happened to you?  you used to be cool (briefly)

Ha ha!  My teenage friends have been infected by microorganisms at the secret government biological warfare lab!  Also, they won’t be reporting this scandalous story!  And I stole their super-car!

The boys escape quarantine with the aid of one of the miniaturized “Scrapper troopers” from issue #136.

Darn right!  I don’t know enough DC continuity, but it would be awesome if the post-Crisis Flippa-Dippa became Black Manta.

6 Responses to “kirbsday: the guardian fights again!”

  1. January 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    (This is not meant to give Eric ideas about new poisons in the Glantri campaign.)


  2. January 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I’m okay with that, as long as it’s always baked into cookies.

  3. 3 Charlatan
    January 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Too bad! One of the party burned too death from the inside out! TOO BAD!

  4. January 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Actually, what are you guys worried about? You have resist fire, don’t you?

  5. January 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Flippa-Dippa as Manta is wonderful. Poor Flippa finally realizes what a joke he is and decides to have his revenge on Jack Kirby by becoming the arch-nemesis of Aquaman. Take that King!

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Past Adventures of the Mule

January 2012

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