Friday, January 06, 2012

Whoops! There It Is!

"There's no way Aquaman would behave like that! What a mistake!" you and I and the guy down at your Ye Olde Locale Comice Booke Shoppe have declared at one point or another, unless, of course, like most people, you've never even read Aquaman. ("He can talk to fish, right?") But to contradict the immortal words of Colin Hay, that isn't a's what we in the comics fandom field call characterization. In the style of a good-old fashioned Smallville Elementary spelling bee (which Lex always won), I shall now use that word in a sentence: "Hank Pym is a wife-beating psychopath. That's not a mistake, that's characterization." In short, comics are perfect, flawless, and infallible, much like the Pope, who is, after all, a canonical character of the Marvel Universe.

Panel from What If? v1 #28 (August 1981), script by Michael Fleisher, pencils and inks by Tom Sutton, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by Vic Carey

But still...just between you and me and the lamppost (that one way just south of where Mr. Tumnus lives), I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: sometimes comics make mistakes. (It's true!) This includes that time when Peter Parker was called both Peter Palmer and Super-Man, when the Hulk was Don Blake, and when Emma Frost couldn't tell toast from a Pop Tart. Don't tell anybody at Marvel or DC, but I've found a few more of comics' face-palmingest moments. Sometimes it's something as simple as a spelling error. But hey, we've all made those, huh? You can live with a little typo, right?

Panels from Legion of Monsters v2 #2 (January 2012), script by Dennis Hopeless, pencils and inks by Juan Doe, colors by Wil Quintana, letters by Dave Lanphear

Hey, that vampire stole Deadman's costume! But even though you shouldn't spit in the wind, tug on Superman's cape, or pull the leotard off the dead Boston Brand, that's not the mistake. Read the final panel carefully: what in context should read "battery part" instead says...

With all due respect, Mister Dave Lanphear...tee hee!

Of course, as the popular bumper sticker inspired by Forrest Gump says: "Typos happen." But they usually don't happen in a comic book created to help kids read:

Panel from Spidey Super Stories #40 (May 1979), script by Michael Siporin, pencils by Win Mortimer, inks by Mike Esposito

Or, maybe this spelling is correct and this is actually the French Spider-Man: L'Homme Étonnant D'Arachnide! Il fait tout ce qu'une araignée ne! Anyway, good job at not being credited, anonymous letterer of Spidey Super Stories #40...we salute you!

Sometimes the misteak misstake error can be chalked up to what Cool Hand Luke called, in between mouthfuls of hard-boiled eggs, "a failure to communicate." In an industry with many creators (and yet so few credited as such), it might be a misunderstanding or oversight between the scripter and the penciller or the colorist, like this example where dialogue says it's two-thirty and yet the clock reads...well, I really can't tell what time it's supposed to be, with those identically-sized clock hands in impossible places.

Panels from Green Lantern v3 #80 (November 1996), script by Ron Marz, pencils by J.H. Williams, inks by Mick Gray, colors by Pamela Rambo, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

It's not 1:12 (what would be the hour hand is too far past the one), and it's not 2:08 (the "hour" hand is past the two). Gosh, this one's a tough call, because I like the work of both Ron Marz and J.H. Williams and I don't wanna place blame at anybody's feet. I could do what usually is done in comics (blame the editor), but instead I'm going to attempt an in-universe explanation to earn the DC version of a No-Prize (a Bob Rozakis Answer Man Award?) Here we go: The correct explanation is that Kyle Rayner can't tell time.

And from what I can tell in this comic, Kyle Rayner can't tell colors either. Kinda a handicap when you're fighting guys with different colored rings, I would think. Maybe that's why they each have subtlely distinct logos, for Green Lanterns who are chroma-impaired. Say, how do you think G'nort and Dex-Starr get around those limitations?

Panels from JLA Classified #14 (January 2006), script by Warren Ellis, pencils and inks by Butch Guice, colors by David Baron, letters by Phil Balsman

Here's another case of the editor not noticing a contradiction between the script and the art, from James Robinson's Justice League of America. Not pointing any hooves coughcoughrexoglecougheddieberganzacoughsneeze. But what's that? It's from the second-to-last ish of Justice League of America before the Flashpoint reboot into the New 52? Justice League of America volume two, 2006 series? The issue before they just all give up and disband the Justice League? (Which seems to be the way they end JLA series these days anymore.) That one?

Oh, 'nuff said then!

Panels from Justice League of America #59 (September 2011), script by James Robinson, pencils by Daniel Sampere, inks by Wayne Faucher, colors by Andrew Dalhouse, letters by Rob Leigh

Oh, well, I guess as long as Eclipso has ended all life in the universe and taken up his throne of skulls just like the Darkseid/Thanos wanna-be he is, then it's no wonder the JLA busted up. "Dudes...we're dead. We can rest now." "That's treasonous talk, mister!"

Sure, Eclipso destroyed everything (hopefully including the 1992 Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals). No lights. No planes. No motorcars. Not even any stars...

Yup, that's right. There ain't a single star in the sky. There's millions of 'em.

You can hardly blame Eclipso...he's too busy chillin' in his big chair, watching his widescreen TV made of skulls, so he hasn't noticed. Shame that he destroyed all the universe's nachos, though.

Sometimes a blooper in a comic book is attributable to nothing more than good-old fashioned Murphy's Law-abiding technology. Here's a case where an entire set of pages (a signature within the comic) got the wrong colors printed. First, on a correct page: here's the way '70s Marvel hero stuntman is supposed to look, in a red and white costume...

Panels from The Human Fly #19 (March 1979), script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Lee Elias, inks by Ricardo Villamonte, colors by Elaine Heinl, letters by Diana Albers

And here's the way he shows up on the error a green costume. Wow, he's not only a great stuntman, he's a quick-change artist as well!

Red dots turn into blue and yellow; red and white into blue and white...look, I don't understand it aside from the color register was is printed. Now's a good time to get out that coloring chart from Marvel Age in the 80s and follow along with its four-color glory! Me, I like to pretend that halfway through the comic book the Human Fly got changed into a Kree and was transported to do battle on a Kree cowboy outpost. And then Kree Farrah Fawcett types up a report for Kree Charlie! Lookit those pages fly! There must be less gravity on the Hala-Deadwood planet.

She's also typing that it's the end of the series, which, you gotta admit, is a great ending for a Marvel comic series in the 1970s. "I'm telling you, Shooter, it'll be great! Everybody turns into a Kree soldier at the end of the final ish! The kids'll love it!" "Whatever. You wanna write this new Micronauts thing, Bill?" Of course, another mistake is that the letters page is telling us about the next issue. Also, for some reason, the letter page is covered with flies. It was a risky but bold move of Marvel to print all their comics in 1979 on past-expiration-date lunch meat, huh?

Here's one last one...see if you can help me figure this one out. Madame Hydra tells Whirlwind he's late. The appointment was at eight o'clock. Whirlwind arrived at 7:45. So he's not late. In fact, he thinks he's 45 instead of 15 minutes early because he thought the appointment was at 8:30.


Panels from Iron Man v.2 #3 (January 1997), script and co-plot by Scott Lobdell; co-plot by Jim Lee; pencils by Whilce Portacio; inks by Scott Williams, JD, Tom McWeeney, and Trevor Scott; colors by Joe Chiodo, Martin Jimenez, and Wildstorm FX; letters by Richard Starkings, Comicraft, Dave Lanphear, and Albert Deschesne

What's the point? Perhaps the point is don't put seventy-three people working on one comic book. Perhaps the point is Scott Lobdell. Maybe the point is Heroes Reborn. But me, I'm gonna go for the easy guess and tell you that the point was the nineties.

That about wraps it up for our little tiptoe through the lutips of weird and wacky bloopers and blunders in comic books from Marvel and DC, although there's always more. (I've got a whole folder full of 'em.) And at least, as I said at the beginning, you can count on a few universal constant truths that are always part of a character. For example, Aquaman talks to fish; we all know it, and that's that.

Panel from Aquaman v.7 #1 (November 2011), script by Geoff Johns, pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Joe Prado, colors by Rod Reis, letters by Nick J. Napolitano

Oh for crying out loud.


Delta said...

With Whirlwind, if you just changed "quarter OF eight" to "quarter PAST eight" (presumably what was intended), then it at least makes the scene rational.

What it does not make it is very good.

JotaceDT said...

Yes, you do, Aquaman:

Rob London said...

Isn't the guy in that pipe or something? I think maybe the line *is* "battery fart".