Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What we have here is a failure to Communicard.

Avengers Annual #21I miss Marvel Annuals. Oh, sure, in their later years they were mostly a disappointing series of diminishing returns ("Shattershot"? Really?), but in their heyday, just after the all-reprint age and before the interlocked continuing story era, there was no better value for your summertime buck than the big double-sized Marvel Annuals featuring a told-in-one epic tale of heroes, villains, innocent bystanders and J. Jonah Jameson, all rolled into some cosmic tale that didn't interrupt the flow of the monthly series but which was probably neatly footnoted exactly where it fell into continuity. And even when the stories themselves in the Marvel Annuals weren't quite up to snuff, there were always the back-up features: pin-up panels, supporting character profiles, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe-type bios, or pages from Wolverine's diary (Dear Diary: I kinda like Mariko, but I dunno if she likes me. Later, killed some guys.). So, if you look hard enough, there's gold in them thar annuals. The story may be pure cheese...say, Avengers Annual #21 (1992), which is a great early example of 90s excess. Check out all those new characters introduced on the cover: Raa! (or is that "AAA"—the mutant who repairs your car?) Ssith! (He's what you get when you cross a snake with Darth Whatisname.) Tyndar! Redwolf! Apocryphus! (Legend has it that Apocryphus probably didn't actually exist.) Sir Raston! And the ninetiesest name ever, Deathunt 9000! Say, how do you pronounce that name? Is he hunting deats, or vowing death to unts? Whatever...you know he's doing it nine thousand. Now that all these guys are such major and popular players in the Marvel Universe, isn't it fun to see where they got their start?

No, there's not much of real interest in Avengers Annual #21, until you flip to the back bonus pages and gape in awed wonder at a two-page info spread titled Secrets of the Avengers Communicard! For those of you who missed out on the exciting, epoch-shattering introduction of the Avengers Communicard, this is an excellent place to catch up. We're promised its "secrets," and although we will not find out the startling cosmic origin of the Avengers Communicard and the shock betrayal it will inflict upon the team in order to save its own family, we will learn how it works and why it's so very handy that even Thor had to buy himself a genuine Tandy leather calfskin wallet to keep his in. Also, his wallet-sized photo of The Bodyguard star Kevin Costner.

Avengers Communicard

Kirk had his communicator, Napoleon Solo had his "open channel D" fountain pen, Jim Rockford had his trusty answering machine, but the Avengers, most of whom didn't have a place to keep phone-call dimes in their costumes, had the Avengers Communicard: a credit-card sized personal computer and communication device that enabled them to stay in contact at all times with their teammates, the US Government, alert Jarvis if they were going to be late for dinner, or leave messages for Matt Murdock that they were in jail again for public drunkenness and needed bailing out. (Last example applies to Hercules, Wonder Man and the Beast only).

Avengers Communicard

More than just a slim-line cell phone in an age when mobiles were the size and shape of a brick, the Avengers Communicard could also activate its own personal cloaking device and turn itself into an ordinary-looking "civilian" credit card that wouldn't arouse suspicion if it was seen in the wallet of a hero's secret identity. Oh, how Hawkeye laughed and laughed after he reprogrammed Steve Rogers's Avengers Communicard to look like a Victoria's Secret frequent shopper card!

Avengers Communicard

Even if you didn't shave regularly, you could use the Avengers Communicard both as an audio and video communication device, which enabled instant satellite hookup to all major telephone and communications networks at the touch of its tiny, wee keys. Later, it would also become handy for watching YouTube videos, at least until She-Hulk ran up a thirty-two thousand dollar AT&T bill watching that sneezing panda.

Avengers Communicard

The Avengers Communicard also is an effective and power tracking and homing beacon so that the World's Mightiest can find its members at any time, anywhere. The text in the feature states that it is powerful enough to track an Avenger over 2000 miles, although this feature was drastically reduced when the Avengers accidentally burst into the MIA Iron Man's Swiss chalet during his extended weekend with Angelina Jolie. It also serves as "an entry keyboard for a powerful calculator," thus ensuring that Rick Jones can perhaps at last pass his tenth grade trigonometry exam.

Avengers Communicard

Pretty fabulous so far, don't you think? Well, the Avengers Communicard is not only all those things, but a bag o' chips besides! In fact, several hundred bags o' chips (even those Steak Nacho Doritos), because it can be used as a credit card or an ATM card that allows any Avenger to withdraw up to $2500 a day! This limit instantly rendered it useless to the Wasp for a shopping trip as she has been known to spend over $2500 a minute.

Avengers Communicard

It's also an official government ID card, so if a six-foot-six blond helmeted hammer-wielding muscled Norse god walks into your bar and demand flagons of mead, you can instantly proof him and find out that he's Sigurd McLovin from Hawaii, age 25, and it's legal to serve him a PBR.

Avengers Communicard

Also, it apparently grants you entrance into tanning booths.

Avengers Communicard

Finally, you can also use it as the ignition key for all Avengers vehicles, including the Quinjet, the sky-cycles, Jarvis's mom's 1997 Buick Skylark, and "Mister Hulk's Wild Ride" at AvengersWorld in Tampa, Florida.

It also gets you 10% off your purchase at any participating Starbucks.

Why, it would be downright un-American not to have one of these fine cards! As the Vikings, pirates, and marauding hordes that frequently face off against the Avengers say, "What's in your wallet?" With an Avengers Communicard in there, you can proudly declare that, um, it's an Avengers Communicard.

So. The Avengers Communicard. And you don't have one. Jealous?!? Well, be green no more (unless you're Doctor Banner)—you too can be a card-carrying Avenger! Copy the template below, Photoshop in your photo and signature, print, cut out, and laminate for real Avengerin' and Communicardin' action! Take it from me...this project is easy to (Avengers) assemble!
Avengers Communicard

The Avengers Communicard. Don't leave Asgard without it.

The Avengers Communicard: Don't leave home without it!

Hey! This is my 1300th post on this blog!


Andy Goldman said...

Congrats on 1300 and thanks for the Communicard! Which for me has weird communist, Jean Luc Picard connotations when I hear the word.

Mark W. Hale said...

I believe I still have a Morrison-era JLA card I got with an issue of Wizard.

Anonymous said...

One of the Wizard special mags had an Avengers ID card. No computer features, though, and I doubt I could buy anything with it.

Christian Zamora said...

Aw! Bully has a communicard! :)

SallyP said...

Congrats on your 1300th post. That's a whole lotta posin'!

I too would like to have a card that will allow me to withdraw $2500 a day from an ATM. Too bad they had to change things after Wanda had that unfortunate episode at the Casino.

Randi Mason said...

Happy 1300th! I remember my 1300th post. You'd be too young to remember those days, but you could get a Starbucks cofee for 2 dollars, and a comic book for 3, and...

Also: didn't the Communicards sing "Never Can Say Goodbye" in the 1980s? Or am I confusing them with Bronski Beat?

Pj Perez said...

It took everything to stop myself from laughing aloud just now.

Edward Liu said...

I'm glad to see that even the Avengers can't get decent ID photos on their cards. Poor Crystal must really hate taking out her identicard because of that goofy photo. Javis always hits the button earlier or later than he says he's going to. I think he does it on purpose.

googum said...

Congrats on 1300!

As you can see, yeah, I like the Wizard promo one; but it always looked a bit silly for Captain America to be yelling at a card mid-battle.

When he found my card, my oldest son, then seven, was racking his brain for weeks trying to figure out where Avengers Mansion was...it didn't help that I told him their eye exam was murder.