Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What If Wednesday #12: What If Rick Jones Had Become the Hulk?

Hey kids!  Remember when this used to be, like, a comics blog, or something?  Weird.  Don't know what's with all the politics/multiple eulogies/calling dead artists awful racists lately.  Let’s get back to doing what I do best, namely drinking irresponsibly and talking about superhero bullshit.  Yes, it's the triumphant return of everybody's favorite feature, What If Wednesday!!!!

On Wednesdays, The Amazing Justin Palm! gets drunk as shit and reviews an issue of Marvel Comics’ “What If?” so that you, the reader, can enjoy his drunken ramblings about a comic book whose sole purpose is to talk about shit that never happened, so it doesn’t matter at all. Dear Internet: You’re welcome.

Okay, full disclosure on this one.  I love Rick Jones.  I love Rick Jones like Chris Simsloves Jimmy Olsen.  And I realize that most of that is because one of my formative-years-comic books was Peter David'srun on Captain Marvel- which is highly under-appreciated, by the way- and thus I'm terribly biased.  But bias aside, I do realize that the life of Rick Jones, stalwart sidekick of basically every Marvel superhero, is COMPLETELY INSANE.  And so is this comic.  I've tried to explain things in all the other What If Wednesdays, but this time, man, even I've gotten to the point where you just had to be there, okay? 

That said, honestly, I think this one might be the most fun, so far. Unfortunately, I realize that part of being in on the fun means that you also have to be in the know.  MAJOR CONTINUITY BONERS AHEAD, is what I'm trying to say, I guess.  Onward!

Hey, no intro nonsense!  Right into the action!  Awesome.  So it's the beginning of Hulk #1, and Bruce Banner is racing to save teenage troublemaker Rick Jones, whose stupid ass is sitting on ground zero of where the new Gamma Bomb is about to tested.  Dr. Banner tries to throw Jones into a ditch to save the boy's life, but then, in a moment of heroism, Jones insists that Banner protect himself first.  So, uh, yeah.  Bomb goes off, and Jones turns into the Hulk instead of Banner.  Nothing like getting this all out of the way by page 3.  

Rick-Hulk has hilarious dialogue- "Quit gawkin' at me! And get off my back, unless... unless you wanna RUMBLE!" "Bah!  Square is too chicken to fight!" "Nix!  Hult a'int no murderer!  So better split!"  I have no idea what the exclamation "nix" means when it's not relating to Germanic water sprites, but it's awesome none the less.  Anyway, General Ross and his men understandably freak right the hell out at this jive talking green monster, and Rick says, I swear to god:

"Soldiers... Uncool!  Soliders don't fight fair! Use shivs... heaters!"

Seriously, what the fuck is this kid talking about?  But anyway, Rick-Hulk flees from the military base, only to be found latter by Bruce Banner, as Rick-Hulk turns back into regular Rick.  The classic Rick/Bruce dynamic from the very earliest Hulk comics is reversed, with Banner locking up the Hulk and taking care of him instead of Rick doing it.

Anyway, Loki knows he should wait a year or two before he manipulates the Hulk into accidentally forming the Avengers, but that's boring, so he decides to set off THAT chain of events right away.  After lying his way into getting the Hulk to act out, Loki laughs it up until the combined might of Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Wasp talk him down (which actually doesn't make sense, since Rick Jones himself made the call to assemble the heroes in Avengers #1, but whatever, we'll just go with it).  Rick Jones' dialogue continues to blow my mind- his reasoning to join them?  "So Ant-Man wants to make us a combo, huh?  Then HULK will join the gang.  Hulk NEEDS a place to hang out." AMAZING.

Rick-Hulk immediately then quits the team, for reasons that are barely explained.  But as he does, Banner blasts him with a device he's made to un-Hulk him forever.  It seems to work, so Rick decides to go back to his normal life.  Except, after being a giant green monster and punching out aliens all the time, having a normal life is kind of sucky and boring for Rick.  One day, though, he stumbles upon a back alley where Captain America is punching out a bunch of Hydra assholes (you know, as Captain America is wont to do), and he decides to help Cap out. 

Cap likes Rick's "spunk" (hey, don't blame me, Cap put it in quotes too), and just like in the regular universe, Captain America- the living embodiment of the American spirit- decides to deal with his partner-abandonment-due-to-death-and-also-hyper-sleep issues by dressing Rick up like his dead teenage sidekick Bucky.  He also has Rick train with him in the shortest running shorts I've ever seen, which manages to make this even creepier than the real comics, I'm pretty sure.

Too bad Banner's ray gun magic didn't really work though, because the very first mission Rick and Cap go on together Rick's anger gets the best of him and he Hulks out all over again!  Rick-Hulk thinks that Cap is too much of a "square hero" and he immediately leaves Cap to fend off Hydra by himself.  This makes Cap sad.

So, since this comic is a total slave to Rick Jones regular Marvel continuity, which, as I mentioned, is COMPLETELY INSANE, next up, Rick Jones is mopping about New York when he gets tricked into putting on the Nega-Bands, clanging them together, and switching places in the Negative Zone with Kree-traitor-turned-Earth-hero Captain Marvel. 


Look, okay, HERE'S THE WIKIPEDIA PAGE.  I promise, this really does make sense (or whatever counts as 'sense' in comic books), but they'll explain it better than I can.  Needless to say, there's a reason Rick Jones hasn't been in a movie yet.  Shit is mother-fuckin’ complicated.  Just go with it.  

Then shit goes completely (even more) insane.  Annihilus shows up in the Negative Zone, for, like, NO REASON, and is all "Raarh!  I am the evil space bug ruler of this dimension!"  Then Rick starts manifesting his mind powers, and the Kree Supreme Intelligence is suddenly in his head going "Yup, beat this prick and immediately lets have you end the Kree-Skrull War!" If this all seems a little confusing to you guys, that's because we've just jumped 97 separate issues of "The Avengers" in the course of exactly 6 pages of story.  That's like, 8 years’ worth of stuff.  I know this crap, and even I can barely keep track of what's happening here.

Rick saves the universe off-camera (I wish I was joking), random crap from issues of Captain Marvel that I haven't read yet happen, but then Rick's new girlfriend Lou Ann (I don't know anything about her, but she is a pale comparison to real-continuity-Rick's future wife Marlo) calls Dr. Banner to inform him that Rick and Captain Marvel are sharing a body like a timeshare.  I'm not really sure why she does this, but whatever- Banner knows that the world's greatest expert on the negative zone is that complete monster the leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards! He and Richards have a plan to separate Rick and the Rick-Hulk once and for all, mostly in the name of (comic book)science!

Okay, so here we are at the epic climax.  Annihilus randomly shows up again (cuz he's a dick) right next to Rick in the Negative Zone.  Rick tries to contact Captain Marvel to change places with him and blast Annihilus' gross bug ass to hell- but Captain Marvel has inconveniently been knocked out fighting some random supervillain, because of course he has.  But as Annihilus tries to eat Rick (or whatever space bug despots do to people), Rick turns into Rick-Hulk, and proceeds to mop the floor with this asshole. 

Why did Rick try to hold back his anger before?  Because he was being a WHINY BITCH.  Rick-Hulk bitch-slaps Annihilus in an awesome splash page, which I'm going to quote in its entirety:
Rick-Hulk: "Don't JIVE Hulk with fancy lingo, Bug-Man!  Hulk doesn't DIG it!  And Hulk doesn't dig YOU, Bug-Man!  Doesn't like being CHOKED!  So Hulk's gonna SWAT the Bug-Man, like RICK'D swat some crummy FLY!"
Uatu's narration: "An alien-sounding whoop of APPROVAL meets the ears of the Hulk."

Guys.  I'm just saying.  If you were looking for a Christmas present for me, you could do a hell of a lot worse than a poster sized print out of this splash-page.  It is pretty epically awesome.

Anyway, Annihilus and Rick-Hulk have a punch out.  Back on Earth, Banner and Richards are busy being super-scientists while they watch the fight on Richards' patented Negative Zone Viewing Screen.  Also, they do science stuff, because PLOT.  Using nonsense logic, they shoot Banner's de-Hulk-ifier into the Negative Zone, somehow splitting Rick and the Rick-Hulk from each other, but leaving both floating in the Negative Zone.  It's all very dramatic, I assure you.

Rick Hulk goes back to punching Annihilus in the face, which is rad.  Reed uses his stretching powers and stretches his arm far into the Negative Zone, pulling the floating and now Hulk-less Rick Jones out and back to Earth.  And thus, we get the happiest ending in a What If yet.  Mar-Vell (Captain Marvel's genius real name) wakes up, and he and Rick are both on Earth.  Rick gets to make out with Lou Ann.  Banner never became the Hulk.  And Rick-Hulk goes on to become God Emperor of the Negative Zone, by means of not being the downer than our Hulk is, and also because he can punch out aliens better than anyone, ever.  He is so fucking happy to be punching shit by the end, you guys- it's adorable.

Whew!  Okay, are you confused yet?  Sorry about all that.  That comic really was not for the uninitiated.  But as a fan, really, that splash page I mentioned is awesome.  So is basically everything Rick-Hulk says.  And hooray for happy endings!  They are a rare occurrence in these comics, and honestly, I just had a lot of silly fun this issue.  This was excellent.

Next What If!  What if... CONAN walked the EARTH TODAY?  Emphasis Marvel's, not mine.  Also, I'll have to do some hunting, cuz, actually, this sucker has never been reprinted, due to copyright reasons.  From what I've heard it's pretty great, though, so if you know where I can find a copy, let me know.  Otherwise... well, otherwise, we'll have to skip to issue 14, and I don't know what that is about off the top of my head.  Sgt. Fury, maybe?  Anyway, until next time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 Debate Round 3: Battleship is the New Save Sesame Street

Alright, I'm gonna start at the end, because it just happened and that makes it easy:  Both candidates had very strong closing arguments.   They both ended well, and I think its important to note that.  Good show, gentlemen.

Now then, as for the rest of  it.... No question who won the debate tonight, it went to Obama.  Romney looked flustered throughout most of it, and it didn't help that he looked sweaty too.  Statements like "My strategy is to go after the bad guys" might have worked for George Bush, but Bush had more charisma than Romney.  Common people related to him, which is something Romney can't say.  Actually, that's the problem with Romney- he's basically just playing the Bush handbook, but he can't connect to people at all.

And the lines kept coming. "We recognize that there are conflicts around the world, and we want to end them."  Bush could have made that line work, but not Romney.  Maybe it's because I think Romney is smarter than Bush?  I mean, he obviously is.  So when I hear such ridiculous baby talk- Yes, OBVIOUSLY there are conflicts, what the fuck, Mitt?- I'm perplexed.  With Bush, I always thought he was clueless, so I would have just given it to him.

Saying that "Syria is Iran's route to the sea" makes no friggin' sense to anyone who's ever looked at a map of the region.  And the constant talking about "Iran's 4 years closer to a nuclear weapon"- which is NOT true- It just didn't work for me.  Aggressive Romney from the last two debates didn't work at all this time.

First line I laughed at: "But that was ten years before you took office." Obama, after Romney was talking about teaching advances in Massachusetts.

Obama comparing Romney's military spending ideas to a game a Battleship has already taken the internet by storm, which is hardly surprising.  I wonder if he planned for it or if that really was an on the spot comment.  And then the even funnier "We have these things called aircraft carriers"- That was how Romney's "You're not entitled to your own facts" 3 weeks ago was supposed to go down.

Once you cut through all the bullshit, most of the time Romney and Obama were honestly in agreement, which is hilarious, but it also means that how they preformed mattered more and more.  And Obama looked presidential.  Romney looked like a cheap Nixon knock off.

All right.  Gonna stop talking about this for now.  It's been fun, kids!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Debate 2012 Round 2: Electric Boogaloo

Okay, so last week was a blast, this week was more a slug-fest in mud (like that scene in Dark Knight Returns).  Who won?  Well, it was a bloodbath and a constant back and forth, but the best ending line went to Obama, no question.  More on that in a moment.

Both candidates were evasive on direct answers.  The first question became a fortune cookie for the whole night- Romney avoiding the question by talking about other things until he ran the clock down; Obama not exactly answering that question, but at least listing things that were partially related.  I'm not overly happy with either, but the lesser of two evils, you know?

Best weird ass comment- Romney says that Obama is not "Mr. Gas".  I'm not sure, but is that a compliment?

Someone finally brought up the word "Bush".  Boom, baby!  Too bad it was a questioner, not either candidate.

Romney REALLY needs to get his facts straight on his own policies.  Just, you know, in general.  His tax plan is mathematically unfeasible.  He said he would veto the DREAM act.  AND THEN THERE WAS LIBYA.

Romney started with the upper-hand with Libya, he really did.  But then he said that right after the Libya attack Obama never called it an act of terror.  And he just rolled with it, despite it being wrong, and he refused to listen to fact checks.  Of course, Romney was half right- it was nearly 2 weeks before it was outright stated that it was an "organized terror attack".  But Romney got focused on the word "terror" itself, and he lost the ball.

And also, apparently the solution to gun violence is no more single moms or gay people.  If that makes sense to you, clearly, you should vote for Mitt Romney.  (Sorry, I'm being snarky now.  My bad.)

All night long, myself and a lot of people I follow on twitter were wondering why Obama never once mentioned Romney's infamous "47%" comments.  And then at the very last moment, BOOM, he was saving it for the final blow.  Was it the right move?  I'm not sure.  It was a great finisher, but honestly, I'm wondering if it would have been better used multiple times throughout.  I see the logic, but will it be effective? Time will tell.

Next week, the Final Round: All Foreign Policy, All The Time!  Who wins?  Who dies?  We'll all see together, won't we?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Debate 2012 Round 1.5- First Thoughts Again!

Holy crap, that was waaaaaay more fun than last week's debate, further cementing my belief that VP debates are so much better than presidential ones.  Both Paul Ryan and Joe Biden were looking for blood, and both drew some.  I'd argue that Biden's anger hurt him, but helped the campaign, which is the entire point of being the attack dog.  And wow, Martha Raddatz was pretty much awesome as this week's moderator.  I wish she'd been in charge last week.

I'd say Biden won.  He sounded more to me like the grizzled old cop schooling the rookie- but I'm a bit biased.  Again, props to Ms. Raddatz for asking hard questions for both candidates- abortions, taxes, ACTUAL MATH.  She was petty great, I'm saying.

Best line: Biden: "Their ideas are old, and their ideas are bad."  Speaking about Medicare, but considering Romney's talk about Russia as our "number 1 global enemy", pretty much the entire GOP platform at the moment.

Worst line: I got a phone call and missed it, unfortunately, but also Biden, for pointing at the moderator and telling her she was wrong.  That does not help your case, dude.  When a lot of people think you're a self-absorbed jerk who doesn't ever think he's wrong, crap like this only helps their case.  Biden has always been a double edged sword for the Obama Administration, and tonight was no exception.

Other thoughts:  Foreign policy!  Yay!  That was a big complaint for me last week, and that was taken care of tonight.  Was that unfair to Ryan?  Yes, he's supposed to be a financial guy, Biden's a global policy guy, so when most of what you talk about is Foreign policy, you're playing on Biden's turf.  But considering last week's TOTAL lack of covering it, I'm glad it was the focus.

Ryan should never had tried to go toe to toe with Biden on personal tragedy   Seriously, dude's wife and child died right after he became a senator.  What were you thinking?

Where is the math?  Where is the logic?  Again, props to the moderator, but when they call out the Romney/Ryan ticket for specifics, for not actually giving concrete answers on how they'll fulfill their promise, that is not good news for the GOP.

And one last big complaint on Ryan (Because I'm a little worried I'm being to hard on him)- His logic on leaving Afghanistan makes no sense.  What he's basically saying is we should never leave Afghanistan, ever.  Obviously, when you send troops home, you have less troops on the ground.  How is that even a question?

IRONIC BEST LINE: Ryan: "Each situation will come with it's own set of circumstances."  Yes.  OBVIOUSLY.  That is supposed to be the entire point of politics.  And also life.  I... I'm not sure how that is a question?

Anyway.  Abortion came up, and while it wasn't handled perfectly, at least it was a part of the debate.  The more I think about it, the more I love that line from Ryan.  He's right, each situation MUST come with it's own circumstances, and SHOULD be dealt with as such.  And neither the Obama administration nor the Romney campaign have always reflected that.  I'm just not sure if anyone truly ran on that concept, with politics as they are, if they'd have a chance to win.

Next week:  Town Hall!  No one knows what questions will be asked!  Anything goes!  It will probably not be as fun as tonight though.  Le sigh.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gutzon Borglum- A Stupid Racist With a Silly Name

Doane Robinson had a problem.

You see, in the 1920’s, Doane Robinson was working as a state historian for South Dakota, and he was worried about tourism.  Why a historian would be concerned with tourism is beyond me, you’d think that would be more of the State Tourism Board’s bailiwick, but whatever.  The man was born “Jonah LeRoy”, but decided he’d rather go by “Doane”, who am I to question his cowboy logic?  In any case, Robinson wanted to find a way to boast the South Dakota tourist population.  The problem was, why the hell would anyone want to go to South Dakota in the first place?

I mean, sure, I’m going to go to South Dakota, because it has some extremely important fossil finds, and I’m writing a book about digging up dinosaurs.  But that’s just me.  Why would anyone (who isn’t obsessed with dinosaurs) want to go to South Dakota?  And Robinson knew it was a problem.  But tourist parks and nature enthusiasm had become a thing that existed, and Robinson wondered if he couldn’t manufacture a way to get tourists to drive out to the middle of Fucking Nowhere, South Dakota, and pay for the privilege.

After learning of the massive mountain defacement bas-relief work on Stone Mountain in Georgia, then under construction, Robinson wondered if something similar could be done in his neighborhood.  After surveying the countryside, he wondered if the natural pillars called the Needles could be used as a site to build a statue of “heroic proportions.”  He attempted to contact famed Chicago sculptor Lorado Taft to work on the project, but Taft was ill at the time and couldn’t be reached.  So, instead, Robinson hired his second choice, Gutzon Borglum.

This fucking guy.  Gutzon Borglum.  Have you ever heard the saying, “If you think everyone around you is an asshole, then the asshole might really be you”?  You know who never heard that in his life?  GUTZON BORGLUM.  He was the worst kind of temperamental artist; he was paranoid; he welched on debts; oh, and yeah, he was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  He thought of himself as a misunderstood genius, but he was more than likely a narcissistic egotist.  Who hated black people and Jews. 

I mean, just look at that moustache, right?

Like so many dysfunctional men throughout history, Borglum was obsessed with size.  This had led him to be the first designer of the Stone Mountain monument; Borglum himself had made the first cut into the mountain.  But two years into the project he’d managed to piss off everyone else involved and was fired, an act for which Borglum swore vengeance against the entire state of Georgia (I’m mostly not joking).

Immediately upon accepting the job from Robinson, Borglum basically said “fuck all this” and changed everything.  Robinson had wanted the project to feature western heroes like Buffalo Bill Cody and Red Cloud, but Borglum thought cowboys and Indians were smelly, so he decided to make the statue about expansionist presidents instead.  He also changed the location of the project to one you’re probably more familiar with- Mount Rushmore.

Here’s something you may not know about Mount Rushmore: Borglum did a shitty job designing it.  Now, I realize that the project was audacious (and completely insane), but check it, this is what it’s supposed to look like:

You may have noticed that is not at all what it looks like in real life.

Now, ignoring the fact that they changed their minds and cut everyone off at the head, none of the dead presidents have any ears.  I’m not sure what the deal is with that.  Also, Borglum and his team fucked up the mountain so much making Washington that they couldn’t put Jefferson where they wanted, shifting things over.  Jefferson looks stoned, Washington is biting his lip, and why is Teddy Roosevelt starring so hard at Lincoln’s nose?  Hell, why is Teddy Roosevelt even here? (Because he was a badass, and also Borglum knew him IRL.)

Also, can we talk about what a massive “fuck you!” the whole operation actually was to Native Americans in general?  What we call Mount Rushmore was seized Lakota tribe land that we took during the Great Sioux War of 1876, land that the United States government had guaranteed to them 8 years previously in the Treaty of Fort Laramie.  There’s a reason the American Indian Movement attempted a seize of the tourist location in 1971, they consider it their sacred land.

So basically, we promised we’d never take their sacred mountain.  Then we stole it anyway, and we hired some racist asshole to carve it up and turn it into a monument to how great Manifest Destiny was for white people.  Not that Borglum had a problem with that, because he was way into racism and nativism:  America is great, and fuck everyone else. 

Mountain Rushmore is a big, stupid tourist trap created by a big, stupid racist.  So, I guess if that’s your thing, great for you?  But maybe if more people knew about its origins, 2,000,000 people wouldn’t be visiting it every year.