"Elias Nebula is practicing Japanese but no one knows."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boring to Me (Revisited); Or, Contra Lycanthropy

A cry went out – a screaming comes across the sky – and was duly remarked by an one such as me. I heard it, I heeded it. It said: “We want more ‘Boring Comics’ articles!”
Pleasure to oblige—


I was reading old Batmans (“Batmen”) and that familiar trusty sensor went off in my medulla oblongata, like a red telephone with Commissioner Gordon at the other end, that announced the arrival of The Boring again into our lives.
It was a story about that noteworthy curiosa Americana, the Man-Bat. I realized, hardly with the shock of the new, that lycanthropy and its variants are powerful dull to me.
Vladimir Propp might have summed the lycanthropy story up well:

Funktion / Aktion 1—Well-intentioned scientist stumbles upon chemical compound that turns him into a man-animal amalgam of some sort.

Funktion / Aktion 2—Said scientist embarks on a rampage. In the melee he possibly kidnaps his own wife or daughter or close family member.

Funktion / Aktion 3— He must be stopped.

Function / Aktion 4—In the nick of time, he is stopped. An antidote is found and duly administered. Customary humdrum reality is restored to the “polis.” Exeunt all.

Funktion / Aktion 5—Fall asleep out of boredom.

I think of Spider-Man’s boring foe The Lizard, as much as Batman’s boring foe Man-Bat. In the 1970s particularly, for reasons presumably allied to the horror revival that took place then, werewolves abounded in the comics alongside the kung-fu characters (deeply boring, and wholly inferior to the shinobi craze of the eighties) and Dracula (a snooze). I say nothing here about Frankenstein. Is there any one among the classic pantheon of horror monsters who is tolerable?
Perhaps the Mummy. Underneath his bandages, the Mummy is still anonymous (“androgynous”) – there is still room for improvisation and flux beneath the bandages, where with the others there is no such thing. The werewolf – or the Man-Bat – must behave in a certain way.
Dracula shall always be a bloodsucking leach on the poor.
Frankenstein shall always wreak havoc among the townsfolk and their laundry.
The Crypt-Keeper is always tedious company at parties. How he drones on.

I have been going through old DC comics of the Sixties lately, and I realize also that I am not particularly interested in the classic rogue’s galleries of most of the heroes. I prefer those stories where Clark Kent is compromised by Red Kryptonite, or by Lois Lane and Lana Lang’s snooping suspicions, or by Jimmy Olsen’s intentioned but frankly insane machinations, far more than a story involving the Parasite. (The exceptions are Mr. Mxyzptlk and Lex Luthor. The exception is not Brainiac.)
(Brainiac bores me.)
This could be the beginning of a very good suicide note:
Brainiac bores me, ergo I must die.”

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