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No pants necessary

Fleischer & Aparo

The Spectre wears a green Speedo over white tights. And he is scary as shit, man.

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Two women

It’s the late 1980s – chosen as a transition from one set of codes, meanings, confrontations, confusions, and stereotypes regarding American black people during the mid-late 1970s to another set which settled hard into place by the mid-1990s. Read the rest of this entry

Jihad, exclamation point optional

Cast your mind back to 1987, before Gulf War I. Here are the first two issues of Suicide Squad, which absolutely needed a villainous antagonist evil enough to  justify the dark-and-edgy premise of the U.S. government using supervillain felons for black ops. Need darker-and-edgier to fight! Read the rest of this entry

Ollie ollie oxen free

americanPolitics and autobio sing a duet in this post! This title was central to my big dive back into comics, in the flush of First, Comico, Eclipse, and specifically Dark Horse, itself on the heels of the now long-forgotten “black and white boom.” Read the rest of this entry

Sheba knows her daddy

I can imagine the senior editor logic easily, upon seeing the mid-late 80s Suicide Squad pitch: “hey, the fans evidently want raw meat, Marvel’s massacring mutants, we have all these useless and unmarketable villains lying around, might as well blow’em up, one by one, or two by two if the plot needs it.” Oooh, awesome, here’s a fictional context for using them as cannon fodder so we can enter the “we’re gritty too” body count competition.

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Go to hell and burn

grimjackfunDuring my senior year of college, I was 22, reading a story about a man drinking alone on his 50th birthday, visited by the ghosts of those he’d killed, presented with no particular interest or revelation concerning whether they’re “real” or not. I sit here now just after my 51st birthday and the story is as good today.

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Spawn of Zap

nexuszapSeptember is Cosmic Zap month here at Doctor Xaos Comics Madness. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why it’s generally considered a 70s thing. What happened to it? Did anything happen to it? Was it just a 70s thing?

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Tom Artis

tom artisNote to readers: this post was supposed to be scheduled for August 30, but I accidentally posted it along with the August 27 post. The new/next post arrives on schedule September 3rd.

So I’ll tell you an anecdote from the late 80s. This was during the two years between college and grad school, when I was living in Chicago and working at the Field Museum, living in a studio in Hyde Park, and living life as a series of daily adventures. Read the rest of this entry

Unpleasantries

sleepmanThis is the third of my series of posts regarding the original 6-issue series Marshal Law. The two previous two were Looking for a hero and Back from the Zone. This one’s a little shy on visual content, because it’d be gross. I want to talk about rape in 1986-1988 comics, which means a shocking lot of it.

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That’s “Mister Faggot” to you

My kind of guys.

My kind of guys.

Oh golly look, comics admit gay people exist, it’s a new day, the sun is breaking out from behind the clouds … … ‘cept you know, for those of us who were reading other comics once in a while this whole time.

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Kim Yale

Kim

Kim

I’d returned to reading comics in the summer of 1985. By the summer of 1986, I blush to confess, I had become an ardent letter-writer to multiple titles, a letterhack as the term went then, as well as pen-pal with several other people with the same behavioral disorder (remember: no email, no internet, no personal computers, nothin’ but paper letters and the phone, people). Read the rest of this entry

A thousand years more, O Kali

Why do I love him? You have to ask??

Why do I love him? You have to ask??

You know how “smart” in comics actually means stupid? This time, as they often did in Suicide Squad, John Ostrander and Kim Yale pulled a reversal: a character introduced as a superficial fanatic, never billed as or discussed otherwise, who was smart as a whip. Wikipedia tells me he only appeared in twenty-two comics issues, ever, associated only with this series, but they were solid gold.

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Todd Klein on lettering, literature and more

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