Title: The Retold Story
Writer: Cliff MacGillivray
Art: Rick Burchett
Letters: Craig Cobert
Editor: Mike Friedrich
Publisher: Blackthorne Publishing
Back in the 80s, there were a few publishers for which parodies of other comics were their lifeblood. Blackthorne was one of the independents that mixed together parodies with a few more legit properties, but the ones I’ve read in the past have all been so-so. This one-shot, produced during the run-up to the John Byrne Superman relaunch in 1986, was somewhat different than the rest of them.
Instead of being a straight-up parody of Man of Steel (which hadn’t been released yet when this book was written), Cliff MacGillivray puts together a story of a Superman pastiche in the far future who, in front of an adoring audience, is forced to confront the many different, contradictory versions of himself from throughout history. Somehow, rather than simply parodying the stories of Superman, MacGillivray weaves a humorous – yet somehow effective – story about the way the Superman legend has evolved over the years. These days, with metatextual comics being all the rage, this same story could be published as an official Superman story simply by stripping a few jokes. And in fact, it would be a pretty good one.
A lot of the humor comes through Rick Burchett’s artwork. Burchett works in lots of little bits and sight gags that work much better to make the book funny where it needs to be, without detracting from the commentary that exists throughout.
When I grabbed this comic from a bargain bin at a convention, I thought I’d just be reading another goofy parody, but I was impressed by what I read.
Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Never heard of this one. The cover looks kind of like Conan the Barbarian, except he’s yawning and stuff… I’m guessing this is a parody comic, like Mad Magazine or something. And as it turns out, there are lots of stories in it…
TITLE: Estarciondust Memories Book 1: Ascent of the Earth-Dog
Writer: Fernando Salazar
Penciller: Hal Lane
Publisher: Blackthorne Publishing
IMPRESSIONS: This issue introduces us to Cerberus, a three-headed… pig-thing? Who goes to a bar to argue with the Marx Brothers? And argue with Foghorn Leghorn while Spider-Man and Wolverine flee from attacking hordes behind him? I’m totally lost here. There’s a spirit who shows up at the end and, from the conversation, it sounds like they’re trying to make some sort of statement about the state of comic books, but it’s kind of nonsensical, to be frank.
Writer: Evan Mills
Penciller: Dave Garcia
IMPRESSIONS: After kicking off with what appears to be a standard Tales From the Crypt parody, this short story drifts into a piece about three trolls hanging out with a cartoon dragon. Singing badly. Blowing stuff up. I did like the part where things explode.
TITLE: Stonehead the Barbarian
IMPRESSIONS: This appears to be that Conan parody we saw on the cover, and it’s probably the funniest and most-accessible story in the comic. Riding Dino and sailing in a ship with Foghorn Leghorn’s head (again with Foghorn Leghorn), Stonehead roams around, slays things, and generally causes havoc. The story is so-so, but the art is really quite funny. This one I liked.
TITLE: Make Love Not War
Writer/Artist: Robert L. Crabb
IMPRESSIONS: Another Conan parody, this one featuring “Barbarius the Unconquerable,” as he takes arms up against a wizard who… actually seems to have won a ridiculously complicated plan to destroy the world, using the barbarian to do it, all apparently to justify a joke about a popular franchise of the time. Meh.
TITLE: The Habbit!
Penciller: Tim Tobolski
IMPRESSIONS: This is also a pretty decent story. Tim Tobolski and “Noodles” take The Hobbit, mix it up with a Disney parody, and turn out a funny, if short story that works out okay. Most of the jokes seem more for the Tolkien fans, though, as the Disney characters don’t really contribute much by virtue of being Disney characters, except that it’s funny to see them in this setting. (One exception: a hysterical one-panel Gollum joke featuring Donald Duck and his nephews.
TITLE: Big Snake in the Pool
Writer: Greg Swan
Penciller: Davy Ammerman
Inks: James Pascoe
Letters: John Clark
IMPRESSIONS: This appears to be a Red Sonja parody, except Sonja is replaced by an old, ugly chick called Thelma. And… not so much with the funny. Let us move on.
Parody isn’t easy, and this book proves it. A couple of the stories here work, but most of it is simply to far “inside baseball” to be funny if you aren’t already in on the joke, and I’m just not.