Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Songs of Faith and Devotion

Hey! New remix up at PopCultureShock.com! It's Wolverine #20! There's zombie ninjas and stuff! Woot!

I should probably say that this next bit was inspired by the good men over at PostModernBarney, who do their best to keep the world safe for ambiguously gay comic-bookery. (Actually, there's just one person over there and his name is Dorain, but it sounded nice so I'll go with it). He's got a recurring features called "Subtext? What Subtext?" where he takes obscure comic book panels and covers and puts them in a somewhat... interesting ... light. It's consistently one of the funniest things on this here blogosphere.

This isn't really a "Subtext? What Subtext?" moment, however, more like a "Get Your Dirty Mind Out of the Gutter" moment. It's been in the back of my mind for a good few years, but I've never thought to share before:

This is, of course, one of the most famous comics of the Golden Age: All-Star #3, the first meeting of the fabled Justice Society and the first true super-team in the history of comics. It's an iconic image for any super-hero fan, with the world's greatest super-heroes assembled for the first time around the same table.

Except... well, doesn't it look as if the Sandman, the Spectre, the Flash, Dr. Fate and Green Lantern are all doing something... suspicious? They all have one hand under the table. The Flash and GL have some oddly pacific looks on their faces. Surprisingly, Hawkman and the Atom, the most S&M obsessed of all the Golden Age heroes, have both hands "above boards", so to speak.

This amusing interpretation was amazingly preserved when the cover was redone for Two-Morrows' All-Star Companion, this time featuring characters who had been left out of the original cover to All-Star #3, some sixty years previous.

It's a nice piece of work by the great Murphy Anderson, even if it is perhaps a little too loyal to the original, in terms of the easily misinterpreted gestures of certain super-characters. Take a look at this black and white draft of the cover art (courtesy, of course, of Two-Morrows):

Starman and Johnny Thunder seem to have rather... odd looks on their faces, don't they? Even Superman is getting in on the onanistic fun. Notably, however, Batman looks appropriately disgusted, radiating the "I Don't Know You People" vibe so hard that Dr. Midnight there will probably piss blood in the morning. Wonder Woman and Black Canary look blessedly oblivious... although Diana looks maybe a bit too oblivious.

They went back to this well a second time for Roy Thomas' Alter-Ego fanzine, this time inserting Timely/Marvel's Golden Age crew in place of the JSA:

Man, Cap and the Whizzer are just having the time of their lives. The Whizzer is so freakin' happy he can't stop tapping the tabletop. Captain America just looks drunk on sin.

Hopefully you will never be able to look at the Justice Society the same way again. They're all just a bunch of dirty old men who like to get together and touch themselves in naughty places. No wonder they couldn't even manage to ever dodge that Johnny Thunder idiot. They were too busy doing other, dirtier things.

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