I could pretty much retire from the hectic world of comics blogging tomorrow, because today at lunch, I read the greatest comic story ever printed.
Yeah, I know I say that on a pretty much weekly basis, but bear with me here. It was, of course, an issue of Metamorpho, which, in case you haven't been listening to me lately, is conveniently available as part of DC's reasonably-priced Showcase line of trade paperbacks, and is scientifically guaranteed to rock you to your very core.
I had already decided that Metamorpho--"The World's Second Greatest Comic Magazine (But He Tries Harder)!"--was the Greatest Of All Time when I read the story that ran through issues 12 and 13, which featured not only a story wherein Metamorpho had to play a football game against five element-powered robots (!) in order to keep a nucleonic moleculizer (!!) that could destroy the world (!!!) out of the hands of the nefarious Franz Zorb, but also includes the most charmingly misogynistic panel I've ever seen:
Oh, you women and your silly emotions! Regardless of Sapphire's broken heart, Rex (Metamorpho) Mason manages to defeat the robots through a sequence of events involving Simon Stagg's personal security guards (who all wear Cobra Commander-esque hoods and ninja suits), a tightrope, and a liberal application of a magnesium fist upside Zorb's head. How, you ask, how could it possibly geet better than that? What could they possibly do to follow up a story with robot football ninja tightrope action?
ARMA-FRIGG'N-GEDDON, THAT'S WHAT!
That's right, laughing boy, this way-out whizzbang's for all the marbles! Ol' Staggsy calls Rex into his office, taking him away from the necessary duty of any Element Man About Town to stop a catfight between wedding-dress clad Sapphire and Rex's bikini-sporting female counterpart, Urania Blackwell, the Element Girl. Then he drops the news on Rex, with nary a hint of an attempt at explanation from writer Bob Haney as to what brought him to this conclusion: It's the end of the world, and Metamorpho's the world's only hope!
Enter Neutrog the Forerunner, who shows up, explains that while Metamorpho can only use the chemicals in the human body, he can use all of them, and then promptly blows Rex up in an atomic explosion.
Look, I'm just saying: if you have a nuclear explosion go off on page nine of your comic, that's pretty exciting.
Post mushroom cloud, Neutrog explains that he's merely the forerunner of an even greater cosmic menace: The Thunderer. At this point, the true genius of the story becomes apparent, as Bob Haney and Sal Trapiani dive headlong into a brilliant, madcap send-up of the previous year's Galactus story over in Fantastic Four, leading to one of my favorite captions in the entire Showcase volume:
"The Thunderer? Who's he? Has a villain from Brand 'M' slipped over into our magnificent mag?"
Anyway, Metamorpho gets rocketed into space due to his deadly levels of radiation, but that turns out to be a ruse, and he pops out just in time to face the Thunderer as he arrives. And just who is the Thunderer?
And it only gets better when you realize that he's less than two feet tall, unstoppable, and shooting death rays out of his eye. You may need to take a few minutes to recover from how awesome that is. Don't strain yourselves, we've got an entire issue to go in this merely marvelous masterpiece!
The Thunderer wastes no time in blowing Metamorpho into pieces, which, to be fair, is no big deal since it happens every three issues or so, but there's barely even dust left by the time he gets done with Rex and Element Girl. Ah, but dust there is, and it's picked up by 13 year-old rock 'n' roll supergenius Billy Barton, who uses his knowledge of chemistry to reconstitute the heroes, sending them off for a big showdown with the Thunderer, who by this time has taken over the UN despite being unable to see over the podium.
I just really love that the French guy's the one telling everybody not to surrender. It's beautiful.
Rex and Urania hit the scene, but even their elemental might isn't enough to stop the Thunderer, so things look pretty grim until Billy Barton shows up--on his bike, no less--and becomes the catalyst to the single greatest moment in comic book history.
Seeing that Metamorpho is unable to defeat the Thunderer on his own, Billy the Wunderkind throws him the most awesome and powerful weapon imaginable:
A GUITAR THAT SHOOTS LASER BEAMS!!!
I challenge you--nay, I defy you to find anything more awesome than that in the history of the universe. As for me? That's it. It can't be topped. I'm done.
One of the things you won't find in the Showcase, along with the bizarre letter columns that debated the existence of letterhack Irene Vartanoff, was a contest that ran in the four issues discussed above where readers were invited to send in their wildest ideas for what Metamorpho could change into. The prize? A page of original Sal Trapiani Metamorpho art and the truly bizarre sum of $24.98, or (assuming the money would be spent on comics) over $600 bucks today! So at the risk of straying into Robby's territory, check 'em out, presented here in vivid INVINCICOLOR:
(And that's my last word on that particular meme. Promise.)