I have a mouth, so I guess I must scream

There are a lot of things wrong with American society. Poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, crumbling infrastructure, selfish foreign policy, inadequate healthcare, insane incarceration rates, environmental pollution, gun violence, pitifully underfunded education systems…the list goes on and on. But these things are all very, very hard to fix. Even the simplest of those problems couldn’t be corrected in less than a very hard fought decade. But I want to look like I’m changing the world, without actually, you know, changing the world. So what should I do?

I know! I’ll write long screeds attacking pop culture! Attacking movies and music is so easy. Everyone sees movies , so I don’t have to explain anything complicated like long term economic trends or the greenhouse effect.  I just have to point at something on a screen and say “See? Look! Bad!” That way, I can pat myself on the back for making a difference, while not actually putting out any of the effort required to actually make a difference. Thanks, CNN!

Editor’s note: Lewis Beale writes about culture and film for the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and other publications. He has taught writing about film at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Keep this in mind as we go through this guy’s article. He teaches writing. In real life. To actual students.

In the latest “X-Men” film, Magneto levitates RFK stadium and drops it around the White House; the stadium is destroyed.

In “Godzilla,” the monster fights off what looks like the entire U.S. military while he flattens both Honolulu and San Francisco. And in the new Tom Cruise film, “Edge of Tomorrow,” opening Friday, Paris is left underwater after an alien attack, and a futuristic D-Day-like invasion leaves a French beach strewn with dead bodies and smoldering war materiel.

There’s plenty more mayhem to come as this season’s glut of blow-’em-up flicks rolls out: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (aliens drop a cruise liner on a city), “Guardians of the Galaxy” (outer space vehicles liquefied by the dozens), “Hercules” (the title character fights off lions, sea monsters and a whole army of bad guys) and “The Expendables 3” (Sly Stallone and gang; train rams into prison).

Entertainment Weekly recently referred to it as “the summer of destruction.”

But let’s call it what it is: destruction porn.

When writing, you want to have some kind of theme linking together the various threads of your prose. Mr. Beale’s parenthetical statements attempting to establish his theme are what I would call “reaching”. “Outer space vehicles liquified by the dozens”? “[T]he title character fights off lions, sea monsters and a whole army of bad guys”? What the fuck? How exactly are these things linked?

What genuinely irks me, though, is that final sentence. He’s treating the term “destruction porn” like it’s an actual phrase in the English language that means something. Like it has a definition, or that anyone anywhere agrees on what counts as “destruction porn”.

“____ porn” has become the new “-gate” suffix of bad writing. It used to be, if you couldn’t come up with anything original to say, you just find some scandal and call it “[blank]-gate”.  Today, if you’re a hack with nothing to say, just find something that you know little about but think is over-indulgent, and call it “[blank] porn”. The Saw movies are “torture porn”. 50 Shades of Grey is “mom porn”. News coverage of weeping relatives of tragedy victims is “grief porn”. Fucking pathetic.

Like real porn, these movies play to our most atavistic instincts.

That’s not what “atavistic” means. A dolphin with hind limbs is atavistic. Our ancient ancestors millions of years ago couldn’t possibly have thrilled at skyscrapers crumbling or spaceships blowing up, because none of those things existed millions of years ago.  Get a fucking dictionary.

And where the fuck did you get the idea that “real porn” (whatever that is) is atavistic? People don’t have sexual urges any more? Jerking off is a thing of the past? Modern life, right now, doesn’t involve sexual indulgence? What planet do you live on?

They all include some sort of buildup, the titillation of expectation that really bad, but cool, things are about to happen. They generally climax — pun intended …

This guy teaches writing.

…with a massive set piece of CGI carnage. And like real porn, afterwards we’re supposed to feel deliriously fulfilled and exhausted.

I don’t think you know how “real porn” works. Maybe you feel “deliriously fulfilled and exhausted” after stroking yourself, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for. What the hell does “deliriously fulfilled” even mean?

Additionally, the fact that you keep using the term “real porn” is a pretty clear indicator that you damn well know the term “destruction porn” is bullshit.

Fact is, we should hate ourselves for feeling this way, as if we’d just had really bad sex.

Writing professor, folks. Calling Dr. Freud.

But that’s not the reaction destruction porn elicits.

Can’t imagine why it doesn’t elicit your perverted reaction in most people. Maybe delirious fulfillment followed by self hatred just isn’t in vogue.

Even worse, we’re exporting this American blood-lust globally, giving outsiders the impression of a country that has totally gone over to the Dark Side.

Star Wars references kinda undermine what you’re going for here. Or does Alderaan not count as destruction porn?

It’s not as if there hasn’t been massive carnage in the movies before this. Hollywood has produced plenty of war films, ecological disaster flicks and alien invasion epics in the past. But the sheer frequency of destruction porn these days — at least 11 movies of this type in summer 2012 (“The Avengers,” The Dark Knight Rises,” etc.) and 12 during the same season last year (“White House Down,” “World War Z,” etc.)…

11 movies in 2012 and 12 in 2013. Please note that he’s throwing out these numbers without ever defining what counts as a “destruction porn” movie, and without ever specifying which movies fit his non-existent criteria, or how any movie possibly could. There were precisely 11 of such movies in 2012, but he won’t bother to explain where that number came from. These are entirely made up statistics. Well, I can do the same thing. I just created a new category called “Shitfuck journalism from hacks”. CNN published precisely one such article which I’m looking at right now.

…and our delight in seeing things blown up, should make us worry about the mental health of society.

Public schools failing, gun violence, suicide…no, wait, fuck all that shit. We should be worried about The Avengers. That’s the important shit.

Idiot.

Movies have always reflected the anxieties of their age. In the 1950s, we had plenty of nuclear paranoia films,often featuring mutated life forms. (Can you say “Godzilla”?)

Can YOU say Godzilla? You keep bringing up this imaginary entity called “destruction porn” as if it’s something new. Have you seen any classic Godzilla films ever? Do I need to explain to you the whole “Guy in rubber suit smashing cardboard buildings” leitmotif of the entire series?

But the recent spate of films seem to reflect a collective psychic collapse.

What the hell is a “collective psychic collapse”? Who the fuck watches Maleficent and thinks, “Yup. Collective psychic collapse.”?

Sure, there are reasons for this: fear of terrorism, the insecurity created by all those mass murders, like the recent episode in Santa Barbara. We feel that world has gotten even more chaotic. That there’s too much of everything. That society has gotten way too complicated, with too many people, too much technology, too many opposing ideologies clashing against each other.

Look at me! I’m vaguely aware of modern political issues! And I get paid to express that never-more-than-vague awareness with statements like “all those mass murders”! I teach writing!

I’m the 700 billionth person to point out that modern life has complications that didn’t exist in the past! I have absolutely nothing beyond that regurgitation to contribute to the discussion, but CNN needs to fill up space, so here I am!

It recalls the classic 1959 dystopian novel “A Canticle For Leibowitz,” by Walter Miller Jr., in which the end of industrial civilization is referred to as “the Simplification.” It’s as if we’re preparing for a global meltdown.

In your writing classes, do you ever address hyperbole?

And the summertime, when we’re supposed to be mellowing out,…

Who’s the fucking “we” in this sentence? The next time you eat at a restaurant, tell the over-worked and under-paid waiter that “we” are supposed to “be mellowing out” since it’s summer, and see what kind of reaction you get. My guess is it’ll be something along the lines of, “I’m smiling because if you don’t tip me, I starve.”

…is a perfect time for Hollywood to exploit our growing appetite for this kind of carnage. There are two specific reasons for this: Most filmgoers are in the under-40 demographic, looking for a night out away from the heat and to put their brains on pause — and believe me, there’s nothing more mindless than watching stuff blow up.

I can think of something more mindless.

The second reason is the importance of the foreign market, which now accounts for nearly 70% of total box office gross.

Our global neighbors tend to go for what we do best, which is make big budget films with state-of-the-art special effects, a minimum of dialogue (explosions speak a universal language) and lots of mayhem. Lots. Just to take two recent examples: the just-opened X-Men film has grossed $168 million in the U.S., and twice that much overseas. And the new “Captain America” flick — “Captain America,” no less! — has grossed $255 million domestically and a whopping $454 million overseas.

America: A country where scenes of mass destruction are the norm, and carnage is preferred over peace, love and understanding.

Go fuck yourself, you sanctimonious douchebag.

If you actually bothered to watch and think about the movies, rather than pontificate like a self-righteous blowhard, you’d see the themes in both X-Men and Captain America. X-Men is a metaphor for the gay rights movement, while Cap is about the surveillance state and the bullshit notion that we have to sacrifice our freedom and privacy for security. Neither film is subtle in this regard. They wear their metaphors on their sleeve. If you took two fucking seconds to think about it, you’d see it. But that’s asking way too much from you, Dr. Writing Professor.

Oh, and I can’t help but notice the term “global neighbors”. What other fucking neighbors do we have? What’s the difference between “global neighbors” and just plain fucking “neighbors”?

Is this the kind of negative image of America we want to export?

Better explosions than pretentious douchenozzles.

And sure, we all know that “It’s only a movie,” but don’t kid yourself: When we get geeked at the leveling of entire cities, it says something about who we are, and where our society is going.

No. It says something about who you are that this is the kind of thing you judge other people for.

And you’d think after 9/11 and the never-ending mass murders in this country we would be a bit more sensitive to scenes where cities are destroyed and thousands of lives lost, but the opposite seems to have taken place: We wallow in it. We cheer it. Like porn, we can’t take our eyes off it. It’s seductive and incredibly addictive.

Your presumptuousness is much more offensive to me than any explosion in a make-believe movie. “You’d think”. Fuck you. The difference between you and me is that I do actually think. Hey, Dr. Writing Professor and Film Critic, did you ever notice how the original Godzilla came out in 1954, just 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki got nuked? Did your tiny little pea brain ever consider the idea that movies are artistic expression, and that they reflect these societal anxieties precisely because that’s what art does? Yes, filmmakers are expressing their feelings about 9/11, and audiences are responding. You can see that in many modern films. This isn’t something new. It’s how art works.

Wish fulfillment? Catharsis? Just good old entertainment? It really doesn’t matter. While we’re in the grips of whatever social psychosis is stoking this ravenous appetite for mayhem, Hollywood will be happy to oblige.

You really are a complete tool, aren’t you?

You managed to write 1,000 words without ever saying a thing. You excel at speculation, allegation, and sensationalism, while stridently avoiding anything that even resembles actual fucking journalism. You pass judgment on others for the specific purpose of generating a headline. You invent terms without ever bothering to define them. You then invent numbers because numbers look like science and reason and that makes dumb people think you’re credible. You use pop psychology to make it look like your verbal diarrhea is actual human thought. And you do all this in the hopes that you’ll stimulate CNN’s audience into irrational fear of an imaginary problem, just so you can do it again next week.

You write news porn.

Comic Relief: Satan’s back, bitches!

Welcome to Comic Relief #7. To see the earlier installments of Comic Relief, go to the Comic Relief Index.

I said in Part 3a of my Lady Satan series that Lady Satan appeared only in reprints in 1943 and 1944. However, as it turns out, I was wrong! There was at least one other original appearance of Lady Satan, in her old non-powered, Nazi-fighting persona, in 1943. This appearance was in Hello Pal Comics #1, in January 1943. (Are we serious with that fucking title?)

The cover is…interesting…

My creepy green eyes and child molester smile are sure to sell a lot of comics!

My creepy green eyes and child molester smile are sure to sell a lot of comics!

As I keep reading Gold Age comic books, I’m continually reminded of just how different comics were back in the day. As far as I can tell, Mickey Rooney has nothing to do with this comic. They just put his big goofy mug on the cover because…He’s motherfucking Mickey Rooney, that’s why.

Anyways, yes, this comic has another Lady Satan story in it! And here it is, in its entirety.

I better shoot that guy as he falls off the building. Just in case.

I better shoot that guy as he falls to his death. Just in case.

Yup. It’s a text story. Take a moment and read it. You can click on it to embiggen it. I’ll play Angry Birds while I wait.

Done? So, yes. A text story. And not really a very good one, either. Lady Satan is never in any real danger, it seems. She does everything right and everyone loves her. She just comes across as the Boring Invincible Hero. *Yawn.* Jacques is the only thing that even approaches being interesting. If not for him, this would just be a story of “Lady Satan is awesome and now the French are slightly less pussified.”  Although I do like that we can now add Motivational Speaker, Expert Knife Thrower and Alan Moore Themed Sky Writer to Lady Satan’s already impressive repertoire of amazing abilities.

And clearly this story was written by someone who knew little of the previous two stories. In the originals, Lady Satan worked in the shadows and was not a public figure. In this one, everyone knows who she is. She’s some kind of Frog Superman who inspires people with speeches about how great the French are. Like Joan of Arc with a chlorine gun and a domino mask. But it should be noted that continuity was never much of an issue in any Golden Age comic.

(And why the fuck does Jacques commit suicide? Seriously, dude, just run.)

It’s pretty clear that the artist was given minimal information on how to make the illustration to accompany this story. I’d wager he was some poor schmuck working for pennies at Harvey Comics, and an editor just walked in and said, “Lady Satan. Wears a red cape. Shoots guys. Dude falls off building. Have it on my desk by tomorrow morning.” “Oh, OK, I’ll just draw Nurse Jackie shooting a guy in the penis as he falls from a red brick school building.” Art! I mean, Jesus, he obviously wasn’t even shown the story he was supposed to be illustrating. The story describes Lady Satan as hooded and masked (as in the earlier comics), and she doesn’t shoot Jacques in his frogballs when he falls from the building. (Plus, I have to ask: Why does the burst of smoke appear 2 feet away from the gun’s barrel?)

This is one of those times where I realize how many frogballs it must have sucked to work in comics in those days. The artists and writers back then were basically treated like slaves. The poor writer and artist who worked on this might never have even met each other, and were probably just assigned to do this story without being told anything about the character that they were writing/drawing. And they probably got paid in peanut shells and gum wrappers.

It does, however, illustrate one aspect of Golden Age comics that was better than today’s comics. Hello Pal Comics #1 was 68 pages long and contained numerous stories with a variety of characters, all for just 10 cents. These days, you pay 3 or 4 bucks for 22 measly pages and just one story. Admittedly, it’s worth it when it’s a good story, like Matt Fraction on Hawkeye or Bryan Azzarello on Wonder Woman, but still. Sometimes I wish comics were more substantial, and a single issue could provide a more diverse and engrossing reading experience.

Anyways, that’s it for today, but I shall be back soon!

Comic Relief: De-Satanized!

Welcome to part 4 of Comic Relief. To see the full series, go to the Comic Relief Index.

I mentioned in the previous installment of Comic Relief that the third appearance of Lady Satan (in Red Seal Comics #17 in 1945) was reprinted in Weird Horrors #1 in 1952. But I must admit, at the time I had only casually glanced at Weird Horrors #1, and had not read it. But now, having read it, I realize that it wasn’t merely reprinted, but actually drastically reworked into a very different story, with completely new dialogue and whole panels removed or added. So the question becomes, is it an improvement? Another way to phrase this might be, would you ever expect the kind of hack writer who takes a seven year old story and pastes his own new dialogue over it to improve anything?

Let’s take a look and find out!

It's deja vu all over again!

It’s deja vu all over again!

Well, it’s mostly like the original. They removed Lady Satan’s domino mask, and changed Underbite’s hair to white and pants to brown, but other than that it’s the same image…except….

Wait! “The Werewolves Howl”? It’s called Lady Fucking Satan, not The Werewolves Howl! What the fuck?

If someone is a nurse, then they can't be ignorant. That's a...strange epistemology.

If someone is a nurse, then they can’t be ignorant. That’s a…strange epistemology.

“Josephine LeBlanc”? That’s bullshit! Her name is motherfucking Lady Satan.

And she lives in New Orleans now? If that were the case, then the animal in question wouldn’t be called a “werewolf”. It’d be called a Loup-garou or Rougarou. Get your Cajun lycanthropy facts right! Just talk to someone from New Orleans. It’s not that hard.

Anyways, like the original story, this one begins with Lady Sa—-errrm, Josephine LeBlanc driving through the middle of nowhere and stumbling upon some lost children. The dialogue is changed to offer additional (and unnecessary) exposition, but it’s pretty similar to what we got in the original story, with one glaring exception. The children automatically know who “Nurse LeBlanc” is. In fact, everyone in this story seems to know who she is. Do nurses ever gain that level of celebrity and/or notoriety?

Are you gonna do this "ye" and "shall" thing through the whole comic? Yes? Fuck.

Are you gonna do this “ye” and “shall” thing through the whole comic? Yes? Fuck.

This is something you come across often if you read Golden Age comics: Captions that explain what you’re looking at in the panel. It’s annoying, but it’s something you get used to. The practice continued into the Silver Age, and even some modern day writers of the hackier persuasion do it.

But, please, comic book writers, don’t do this. Let your artist’s images speak for themselves. If you feel like you must offer additional explanation, then either A) the art sucks and lacks clarity, or B) you’re just pasting unnecessary verbiage on the page.

Also, I can’t help but notice those trees in the background. This is supposed to be New Orleans, right? Well, I lived in New Orleans for a while, and most of the trees have Spanish moss growing on them, so I can’t help but notice its absence in the background. This story is set in New Orleans in name only, isn’t it? Yes, indeed, as later there’s a scene set in the “bayou”, and yet not a single Cypress knee is visible. This is what happens when you take a story set in a generic setting and shoehorn it into a specific setting.

Anyways, the story proceeds mostly like the original, except that Josephine LeBlanc lacks the magical powers that Lady Satan suddenly obtained in the original, meaning that everything that happens is more boring. For instance, in the original Lady Satan repels the werewolves with Xanda Power. I have no idea what Xanda Power is, but it sounds cool. In this one?

I hope you also brought your Shark Repellant Bat-Spray.

I hope you also brought your Shark Repellent Bat-Spray.

*Yawn.* It would’ve been more interesting if she had actually gotten rabies.

And of course the Creepiest Panel Ever makes a reappearance, but with more dialogue than in the original.

Aaaaugh! Not again!

Aaaaugh! Not again!

How the fuck does everyone just know who Nurse LeBlanc is? And why would a nurse be dressed with a red cape?

And why does the author of this piece of shit think you can improve a story simply by throwing in more dialogue? In almost every panel of the reprint, the gross amount of dialogue has been increased. This is not how good writing works.

Anyways, so Not-Titty Satan follows the car again, it goes over the bridge again, and she has to rescue the children again, and she tracks him back to his lair again. Only with no magic involved. Boring.

But wait, you ask. In the original, Lady Satan vanquished Master Werewolf with magical finger fire. How will non-powered Josephine LeBlanc accomplish this? Well, see for yourself…

The comic repeated refers to him kidnapping 3 children, but they only ever show 2. I guess math is just yet another thing this comic utterly fails at.

The comic repeatedly refers to him kidnapping 3 children, but they only ever show 2. I guess math is just yet another thing this comic utterly fails at.

Um, what? Is it ether, or Vapor of the Vampires? Is it both? Why does it kill him? Why does it come in that weird looking flask? And why does it completely annihilate his corpse? Why is the complete lack of evidence a running theme in this story? Why does he think she drowned, when earlier on an inserted panel showed him clearly see her with her head above water? How does she know that werewolves are allergic to ether? Is this just common knowledge among nurses in New Orleans? How does she know to go to the old plantation? Why the fuck was it so important to set all this shit in New Orleans?

Ugh. I’m wasting my time asking all these questions. The ultimate answer to all of it is, “Because they took a Lady Satan comic and sucked all the life out of it.” The original was campy good fun, the remake was just plain dull. Kinda like the relationship between the original Total Recall and its shitty remake. And I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t change her name because in 1952 they were afraid to call a hero “Satan”.

Fuck you, 1952.

James Gandolfini 1961-2013

I love The Sopranos. I mean, fucking LOVE The Sopranos. And loving the Sopranos means loving James Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano, since he was by far the best thing about that show. But it goes beyond that. Tony Soprano was the character that set the tone for modern TV. He was a villain, in that he was a criminal who did a lot of bad things. But he was sympathetic, in that we saw his family life and his personal struggles and we identified with them.

Without Tony Soprano, there is no Walter White. There is no Vic Mackey. There is no Tyrion Lannister. There is no Nucky Thompson. Tony Soprano created TV anti-heroes–people who are flawed and immoral and do lots of bad things, yet still evoke sympathy. James Gandolfini didn’t just portray a character. He created a TV archetype that shaped what people today are calling the next Golden Age of TV. His influence on American pop culture is incalculable.

It really saddens me to see the news that Gandolfini died at the tragically young age of 51. His talent extended beyond The Sopranos–he was great in The Man Who Wasn’t There, for instance. But the real reason this strikes me so hard is that I’ve been a fan ever since I saw the pilot episode back in January of 1999, and the experience of his performance in that show never left me. It also never left American cable television. I believe that decades from now, people will look back on his performance as a transformative moment, something that all American TV acting will always be indebted to.  He was a motherfucking star, and his influence will be felt for a long, long time.

Jeff Hanneman 1964-2013

Fucking Slayer.

As a Slayer fan, I was really sad to see that Jeff Hanneman, the band’s kick ass guitarist and writer of some of their best songs (such as Angel of Death, which I’m listening to right now), died of liver failure today. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Slayer live three times and have all of their albums. They’ve been a huge influence on my taste in music (I fucking love metal), but that’s not the only area where they influenced me.

Not only was he a fantastically talented musician and songwriter, but being part of Slayer directly entails that he’s also a prominent critic of religious stupidity and a professional at Mocking the Prophets. Hell, Satanic and blasphemous materials and images might be more associated with this band than with any other in the history of music, and I fucking love it. Jeff Hanneman was one awesome sonofabitch, and the world sucks a little more now that he’s gone.

Hail Satan!

Comic Relief: More Satan!

I think I’m gonna start talking more about comics on this blog. Why? ‘Cause I feel like it, that’s why. So let’s revisit my favorite female superhero of the Golden Age, Lady Motherfuckin’ Satan. (To see my first post on Lady Satan, click here.)

When we last left Lady Satan, her fiance was murdered (and literally all we know about him was that he was her fiance and he was murdered) and this inspired Lady Satan to go to Nazi-occupied France and fight the Fritz.  That was Dynamic Comics #2, and her only other appearance in that book was in Dynamic Comics #3, which hit stands in February of 1942.

When you open the issue to the first page, you’re assaulted with a rather unpleasant image…

lady satan 4

How about you St. Pat my balls?

He is said to have wasted 100 years expending his energies on empty religious ceremonialism rather than doing things that actually matter.

Luckily, this useless old geezer only takes up one page, and we get some Lady Satan awesomeness starting on page 26.

Dead Nazis are always a good way to start out.

Dead Nazis are always a good way to start out.

That is so fucking awesome. I really dig the smoke through the skull image. And now we’ve got some real Inglorious Basterds style bloody Nazi killings. No more of that pansy-ass “chlorine” gun she used last issue.

There’s a problem, however, with the scan of this issue that I got from Digital Comics Museum. You can probably tell from the image above that the physical copy from which it was scanned was in pretty bad shape. There are holes in the pages, and the colors are faded. Here’s a closer look:

Holy fuck, there's a tear in space-time! Someone call Dr. Who!

Holy fuck, there’s a tear in space-time! Someone call Dr. Who!

There’s also this problem:

Maybe it's just REALLY badly applied make-up?

Maybe it’s just REALLY badly applied make-up?

The printer fucked up with the color plates, and they’re all offset. It looks like shit.

If you read enough Golden Age comics, you’ll come across this problem from time to time. Standards were low back then, and it wasn’t uncommon for printers to make major errors in producing a book, then just say “Fuck it! Put it on the shelves anyways! It’s not like we’ll have a legacy or anything in the future.” So, yeah, a lot of Golden Age comic books with really shitty quality out there.

Lucky for us, this story was reprinted in Bull’s Eye Comics #11 in 1944. And this time, Lady Satan even made the cover:

ver of a children's magazine in 1944. Oh how times have change...

You could put this on the cover of a children’s magazine in 1944. Oh how times have change…

Fuck yeah! Let’s get started.

Our story has a bit of a confusing beginning. We’re at a house in… somewhere. France maybe? It looks like a rather American house. And Lady Satan is in a car with somebody named Kurt…

"It's not Lady Lady. It's Lady Satan! Get it right, bitch!"

“It’s not Lady Lady. It’s Lady Satan! Get it right, bitch!”

Seriously, your password for secret information in this war-torn, Nazi-ruled nation is “My baby is sick”? You’re not at all worried about accidentally giving up that you’re a secret British spy to someone who just happens to have a sick baby?

And who the fuck is Kurt? And where is he? In the car? Can he hear this conversation? And why is he addressing her as “Lady Satan” when she’s not in disguise?

So many questions. But some of them are in fact answered in later pages. Kurt is a devoted Nazi soldier. Lady Satan is undercover, pretending to date him–or that he’s her “escort”; the comic implies both. He calls her “Lady Satan”. Would you date someone if the only name they gave you was “Satan”? Well, I guess he’s a Nazi and all…

Lady Satan’s sick-baby courier informs her that the Nazis are having some kind of big ass meeting today, and Lady Satan needs to find out what the fuck is going down. (I’m paraphrasing.) It doesn’t take long. After merely prodding her escort/boyfriend about whether he has another girl, Kurt shows us what kind of man he is.

Oh, and I wet the bed at night.  Damn it! Shut up, Kurt. You'll never get laid this way.

Oh, and I wet the bed at night. Damn it! Shut up, Kurt. You’ll never get laid this way.

Kurt, you fucking dumbshit. No wonder the Nazi’s lost.

Lady Satan pretends not to care about such things to throw Kurt off her scent, but decides that she must attend this meeting to break up the Nazi plan to kill the leaders of the free world. So she follows Kurt.

It's so secret that I hope there isn't someone obviously listening as we loudly discuss it outside.

It’s so secret that I hope there isn’t someone obviously listening in as we loudly discuss it outside.

Empowered with this knowledge, Lady Satan sneaks in and incapacitates the guard in one of the best single panels in the book.

Well, it was the most silent weapon before that whole "AAAAGGGHH!" thing.

Well, it was the most silent weapon before that whole “AAAAGGGHH!” thing.

God, I love the look on that guy’s face. He almost seems to be looking at the reader to ask, “Can you believe this shit?”

Lady Satan hides along with the supposedly garroted guard to listen in to the meeting as the Nazi leaders enter. They notice that the guard is missing, but have their totally secret meeting anyways. How the hell did these guys even manage to last all the way up to 1945? Anyways, it turns out that Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are going to have a secret meeting on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic (Why not in D.C., where it’s safe?), and the Nazis want a volunteer to go on a suicide mission to assassinate them. Kurt, brain trust that he is, volunteers. He is told that he will be disguised as none other than Charles de Gaulle in order to infiltrate the Allied meeting.

Unfortunately…

Lady Satan, you suck at strangling people.

Lady Satan, you suck at strangling people.

Oh, fuck! She’s busted!

The Nazis find her behind the curtain and converge on her. She draws her gun, and in the lone moment of competency in his life, Kurt disarms her. Running out of options and capture looking eminent, she…

"Can't believe I dated that crazy bitch."

“Can’t believe I dated that crazy bitch.”

…Kills herself?

Shit, that was over quickly. They leave her alone so that the incompetent guard she strangled earlier can bury her. He buries her. The end.

Just kidding. It was a rubber knife full of fake blood. No one even checks her body. Nazis are morons. Especially Kurt.

But now she has to catch up with the nefarious Kurt de Gaulle, who’s heading out into the Atlantic in a plane with French markings, before he can kill Roosevelt and Churchill. Lady Satan hijacks a Nazi plane (where did she get these ace piloting skills?) and pursues. She finally catches up to Krazy Kurt as they approach the American and British ships. But then…

Oh, so we're shooting the Nazis now? Gee, I've only been here for 14 months. Thanks for telling me how to do my job, Lance.

Oh, so we’re shooting the Nazis now? Gee, I’ve only been here for 14 months. Thanks for telling me how to do my job, Lance.

Lady Satan is shot down by the most FAAAABULOUS pair of shirtless Navy hunks this side of a Village People reunion (and with a giant cannon-boner between them). But merely being shot out of the sky won’t stop her! She is fucking Satan after all! She’s pulled from the water by some sailors who attempt to arrest her, but she pulls a gun and forces them to take her to the ship where Kurt the Kraut Frog will attempt the assassination.

"I'm sure the Nazis sent me on this mission that I'm certain not to survive because they really value my quick wit and consummate skills."

“I’m sure the Nazis sent me on this mission that I’m certain not to survive because they really value my quick thinking and impeccable observation skills.”

Kurt, Kurt, Kurt. You still haven’t put two and two together yet, have you?

Well, it’s too late. Before Kurt the Sausage-sucking Surrender-Monkey can shoot Churchill and Roosevelt, Lady Satan comes up and literally stabs him in the back. Alas, their love was not to be. Kurt’s last words were, “They have rightly named you…Lady Satan…AAAAGGHH!” Should’ve thought of that earlier, Kurt. Now you’re Nazi shishkabob.

And the comic ends with Churchill and Roosevelt, two of the greatest leaders the free world has ever seen, giving thanks to Satan.

You can't see it in the panel, but Churchill is double-fisting martinis and FDR is getting a handy."

You can’t see it in the panel, but Churchill is double-fisting martinis and FDR is getting a handy.

God, I love this comic.

Anyways, go to the Digital Comic Museum and pick this one up. It is free and in the public domain, after all. And as always, Hail Satan!

Comic Relief: Sexy Satanic Golden Age Goodness

I saw over at Atop the Fourth Wall, a site everyone should check out, Linkara has a post about a kick ass Golden Age comic book hero called Tomboy. I enjoy reading those old Golden Age comic books from time to time, and thought I’d share one of my personal favorites. It’s not just that she kicks ass, it’s also that our hero’s name is totally blasphemous. You could never give a superhero a name like this in the later Silver Age, when the censorious Comics Code Authority completely neutered the entire industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…

"Why, no, my dear. I'm not evil. Whatever would make you say that?"

“Why, no, my dear. I’m not evil. Whatever would make you say that? Is it the monocle? The martini? The arched eyebrow? Or the gang sign I’m flashing?”

Yes, that’s right. LADY FUCKING SATAN.

Lady Satan, who debuted in Dynamic Comics #2 in 1941, interests me for several reasons.

  1. She’s motherfucking Satan. (But not really. It’s just a name.)
  2. She debuted a month before Wonder Woman, whom people often mistakenly believe is the first female superhero. (She’s not. Not even close.)*
  3. She doesn’t have any superpowers, and has to use her wits to fight crime. But then suddenly she has superpowers in a later issue without any explanation. Let’s just say that continuity wasn’t on anyone’s mind back in the Golden Age.
  4. People in the comic rarely remark on the fact that she named herself after FUCKING SATAN. You’d think that would be the first question out of anyone’s mouth.

So, what made Lady Satan decide to give up her normal life and become a Nazi-killing fallen angel? You’d think one would need a compelling reason to start calling oneself “Satan”…

"Trust me, I'm very sad about this. Can't you see it on my face, or did the artist fuck me up again?"

“Trust me, I’m very sad about this. Can’t you see it on my face, or did the artist fuck me up again?”

That’s all the origin you get, folks. Three panels. In the Golden Age they were nothing if not concise.

And if you thought Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had it bad in Star Wars, check out poor Nameless Fiance here. He is never mentioned again. Hell, he only gets the one line, and we never even see the sonofabitch’s face. In fact, that one panel of wrathful vow is all the grief over his death we get, as the very next panel makes quite clear.

"Perhaps Madame Satan would like the flowers drizzled with the blood of virgins?"

“Perhaps Madame Satan would like the flowers drizzled with the blood of virgins?”

This comic doesn’t fuck around. Boyfriend dead? Moving on! Time to fight Monocled Nazi Lex Luther.

From here the story follows her as she manipulates the Nazis into leading her to the location of their plans for a sub-detector, which she hopes to deliver to the British. (Remember, America wasn’t at war yet at the time this came out.) Monocled Nazi Lex Luther (a.k.a Captain Fritz–I don’t know why they didn’t just go all the way and call him Major Sausage-Chomper) is quite shocked by this turn of events when Lady Satan’s plot is apparently foiled…

"I should really stop trusting people who hide their identities and name themselves after the Prince of Lies..."

“I should really stop trusting people who hide their identities and name themselves after the Prince of Lies…”

But of course, Lady Satan’s not dead! She gets the plans from them after incapacitating the Nazis (with non-lethal force–she’s not THAT satanic, you know). The British get the Nazi’s submarine plans, and everyone lives satanically ever after.

"HAIL SATAN!"

“HAIL SATAN!”

Seriously. This comic ends with a big joyful “Thank you, Satan!” You know what that is? It’s fucking awesome. That’s what it is.

(Also, why is the Air Ministry in charge of breaking a U-Boat blockade? And what exactly is “a much”?)

It’s actually a pretty standard story, but definitely worth checking out. It’s in the public domain, and can be found at the Digital Comic Museum. Go read the comic, and Hail Satan! 😀

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* DC frequently plays along with this misconception, even though Wonder Woman isn’t even the oldest female superhero in their own roster. Phantom Lady and Bulletgirl both appeared before Wonder Woman (who hit the stands in Dec 1941, in an issue dated Jan 1942–Lady Satan hit the stands in Nov 1941 in an issue dated Dec 1941).

Not only were there literally dozens of female superheroes before Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman wasn’t even the first female patriotic superhero. She was preceded by at least 5 female superhero patriots: USA, Miss America, Miss Victory, Pat Patriot and War Nurse.

Wikipedia claims that Fantomah, who debuted in Feb 1940, is the first female superhero, but this is wrong, too. The oldest female superhero I know of is Ritty, who at 6 inches tall fought crime alongside her equally diminutive boyfriend Minimidget. Both debuted together in Sep 1939, just a few months after Batman.

None of this should be taken as me dissing Wondie.  I like her as a superhero, and I think the stuff Bryan Azzarello is writing for her right now is fantastic. I just hate that DC sometimes represent themselves as being the first when it comes to giving women representation among superheroes, when nothing could be further from the truth.