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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Spooktoberfest Spectacular: The Mind-Melting Terror of The Supernaturals, Part One!

Regular ISB readers might have noticed that I didn't post anything last night, and while rumors are circulating that it had a lot to do with a drunken Halloween party and a breakdancing contest, the actual truth is that I was engaged in an intense, twenty-four hour purification ritual designed to prepare me for the mind-bending horror of tonight's Spooktoberfest climax.

Why? Because there exists in this world a comic book that combines the alleged "talents" of Brian Pulido and Jim Balent. And after reading it, I may never be the same again.

You know what's a bad sign? When you misspell the word "fearsome" on the cover of your horror comic.

Anyway, I've been sitting on this one since I found it back in February, but I remember reading a preview of it in Wizard or something back in 1998 that, if memory serves, focused a lot on how low Jim Balent wanted Satana's hip-huggers to be. Needless to say, I've been looking for it ever since.

Unfortunately, and this might be the only time that word's ever been used in this context, Balent actually doesn't do the art for the series. He does the covers, and, according to the "hilarious" credit box, it's actually Ivan Reis--who's reasonably talented despite cramming thirty-one visible teeth into a guy's smile in the first issue--handling the "psycho pencils" of the book itself. But don't worry, there's plenty in the story to be getting along with.

Incidentally, referring to "exorcismic editors" and an "inker of insanity" on the inside front cover? That's Bad Sign #2.

Our story begins 13 years ago with a flashback to the Louisiana Bayou, where instead of Amos Moses trapping the biggest and meanest aligators (with just one hand!), we instead see Li'l Brother Voodoo and his brother Daniel kicking it in a graveyard making blood sacrifices to return their dead parents to life. Unfortunately for Mr. and Mrs. Drumm, Daniel's ritual actually results in most of the non-magical super-heroes of this version of the Marvel Universe--including the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and at least two Defenders--getting sucked into oblivion, never to be heard from again. Which, if you've ever read Brian Pulido's take on Spider-Man in Evil Ernie vs. the Super-Heroes #2--which I strongly advise you against ever doing--is probably a very, very good thing.

Anyway, this magical snafu becomes known as "The Chaos! Event"--yes, complete with exclamation point, marking Bad Sign #3--and, surprising pretty much everybody, does not result in the Earth being immediately conquered by Skrulls or eaten by Galactus. Instead, life continues pretty much apace, and by the time the story picks up again, Jericho Drumm's become a successful record producer plagued by recurring nightmares. And to make matters worse, the few heroes left are starting to go missing, including Dr. Strange, who vanishes mysteriously, leaving his amulet to guide Brother Voodoo into gathering a new group of heroes to fight... something. Or whatever.

And that's about where things start to get awesomely ridiculous. Let's go through the cast of characters, shall we?

Up first is our ol' pal B. Viddy, who, despite being the team leader and the focus around whom the entire story is built, manages to be one of the most ineffectual characters in the history of fiction. By my count, he manages to cast roughly two spells over the course of four issues, for a net effect of absolutely nothing.

To be fair, though, his main function appears to be hanging around on rooftops trying to look like Spawn, and at that, he's darn near perfect

Next, we have Satana, portrayed here as Maria Ramos, a devoutly Catholic teen bikini model with a demon shacking up in her soul, which is about as close as we're going to get in this series to something resembling "internal conflict."

Poor substitutes for character motivation aside, Satana has the ability to fly and shoot hellfire from her hands, which means she's pretty much a hot version of Ghost Rider, but with low-rise jeans instead of a motorcycle. She also doesn't do a whole lot over the course of the series.

Playing the role of Wolverine this evening is a teenage Jack Russel, mercifully known better as Werewolf By Night. in addition to the obvious, he also knows kung fu, and fulfills the function of being the team member who spouts utter nonsense disguised as catchy fight banter.

Yes, there's a Teen Wolf joke. Yes, it's horrible. No, I'm not going to scan it.

Hey, look everybody, it's Emo Hulk! Next.

Rounding out the cast, we have the Black Cat, here seen as a teenage political activist rescued from being sexually harrassed by what appears to be an undead Margot Kidder--which I feel I should mention also involves both of them falling out the window of a high rise office building--before joining up with Brother Voodoo and his gang.

I'm not exactly sure how we got a young Felicia Hardy thirteen years after Spider-Man vanishes, but hey: That's how Earth-Supernatural rolls. Regardless, she can walk on walls and ceilings, and has her old "bad luck" probability powers that she can activate by speaking in a slightly different font.

And finally, the one we've all been waiting for. Feast thine eyes, dear reader, upon the sixth member of Brother Voodoo's running crew...


There's really not a whole lot to add to that, except to say that he first shows up at one of Satana's modeling shoots, where he does tricks off a half-pipe while she stands around in a bikini holding torches in what has to be the single greatest Mountain Dew ad ever filmed. Sadly, it was interrupted before filming was completed by the arrival of zombie pirates, at which time Johnny apparently climbs up to the top of a rollercoaster, then changes into the Ghost Rider so that he can make his dramatic entrance.

Seriously, though? If the Ghost Rider also rode a BMX in this thing, it might just propel it to being the greatest comic ever.

So that's the team, and with a lineup as moderately competent as that one, Supernaturals was a book that demanded an equal challenge from its villain, who had begun to orchestrate the disappearances of the few remainign heroes and, if you'll remember, defeated the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

But who could it be? The Dread Dormammu? Dracula, Lord of the Vampires? Shuman Gorath?! MEPHISTO?!

Nah. It's that guy who fought Spider-Man a couple of times. Sort of. Either way, remember this page, because it shows up again at the end of #3.

Next, on the ISB!
Jack O'Lantern unleashes hell on a couple blocks of Downtown Los Angeles... And someone notices!
Plus: N'Kantu the Living Mummy! El Chupacabra!
Dream Sequences and fights that don't make any sense!

BONUS FEATURE: Strong Bad O'Lantern!

Speaking of Jack O'Lanterns, here's your moment of earnest, diary-style blogging for the evening: I carved a pumpkin tonight for the first time ever, using a stencil from Homestar Runner.


I think it turned out pretty well!


Anonymous jayunderscorezero said...

I was SO hoping that Johnny Blaze was just going to stay as a BMX-riding kid the whole time.

Maybe this was the inspiration for a sketch from the UK comedy show 'That Mitchell and Webb Look', which had a team of superheroes comprised of 'Angel Summoner' and 'The BMX Bandit'.

BMXB: "Right, I'll use my BMX to jump over that canyon, pop a wheelie and smack into those drug smugglers..."

AS: "Or...I could just cal forth a host of angels in order to defeat them."

BMXB: "But, how does that employ my BMX skills?"

You get the idea.

10/30/2006 4:41 AM

Anonymous Lurkerwithout said...

Damn, I was hoping for Lord Pumpkin and another Ultraverse crossover mega-event...

10/30/2006 6:32 AM

Blogger Nimbus said...

That "hilarious" credit box reminds me of the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror credits. Though, of course, not so amusing.

And yeah - it's the BMX Bandit! (That bike looks a little large for a BMX though. More like a mountain bike).

Finally, Chris, when I first saw your jack'o'lantern, to me it looked like the Transformers motif/symbol. Pretty awesome nonetheless.

10/30/2006 7:38 AM

Blogger Matthew E said...

Yay! Zevon reference!

For anyone who has yet to prepare a pumpkin, I highly recommend the use of stencils. They enable you to make your pumpkin look really good even if you have no talent, and people will think you're an artistic genius. It's crazy.

10/30/2006 9:39 AM

Blogger McGone said...

"V for Voodetta" is quite possibly the funniest throw away joke ever unleashed from your mind, Sims.

10/30/2006 12:08 PM

Anonymous SanctumSanctorumComix said...

So, which Character MASK did you get in YOUR copy?

Yes, I bought this crappy miniseries back in the day.

I even bought MULTIPLE copies (I think 2 of each - for my weirdo comic cross-reference filing system).

No amount of ridicule on your part can make me feel any worse about myself for doing so.

Oh, I WAS going to correct you about your misspelling of SHUMA GORATH, but ShumaN Gorath kinda gives him a more "human + Ramen Noodle" kinda name that puts him in direct combat with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

THAT is a battle I'd like to see.


10/30/2006 1:32 PM

Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

AAAAAIIIIIIEEEEE! It burns, IT BURNS! CURSE YOU, Chris Sims, currrsseee.... youuuuu...

10/30/2006 3:07 PM

Anonymous pgr1974 said...

Those Treehouse of Horror have something going for them. "Creepy storyteller" is a quite apt description of mr. Pulido's work.

10/30/2006 4:20 PM

Anonymous Haole said...

Yay! Jerry Reed reference!

10/30/2006 4:51 PM

Blogger Tom Foss said...

It saddens me to no end to see that this came from a good writer like Marc Andreyko.

In fact, I'm just going to assume that this is some other Marc Andreyko who works in comics, and not the Manhunter scribe. There's a chance, right?

10/30/2006 10:22 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Tom, I find it very strange that we both use the phrase "Manhunter scribe" to des... to refer to Marc Andreyko.

I mean, not that strange. But it's worth mentioning.

10/31/2006 12:59 AM

Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Well, Pulido had plenty of talented writers working for him- John Ostrander, Steven Grant... and they almost uniformly turned out substandard work, possibly because, as I understood it, Pulido was making the writers work from his plots, which in many cases weren't very good at all.

10/31/2006 10:47 AM

Anonymous ABS said...

On that cover, Ghost Rider is clearly thinking, "I used to be somebody."

11/06/2006 10:27 PM


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