Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One Night in Rutland: 1977, Part 1

Bear with me here a few moments, folks; this post has a long introduction. But it's totally worth it and has a good bit with Green Arrow at the end so don't skip ahead!

I don't always remember to write by thank-you letters. Mama Bull always had to pester me well into January to get out my new stationery and write something like this:
Dear Grandma,

Thank you for the pajamas. They were very nice. I am wearing them to bed.

Did you have a good Christmas? I did.

Well, I have to go now.

Love, Bully
Another thing I don't always finish is the final segments in a long series of posts, leaving you, gentle readers, hanging on a branch in anticipation, not unlike that "hang in there, baby!" cat poster that my kid sister Marshall has on her wall. Yes, someday I will finish these posts...just...not right now when it is good kite-flying weather and before the snow comes so I can ride my Radio Flyer down the hill.

Tonight I am going to redress (definition: put on new clothes after being told the ones you're wearing have a big gravy stain on them) both of those minor spots of tarnish on an otherwise-glitteringly delightful bull you'd be pleased to know.

Back in January (gulp!) I got a lovely email from Professor Charles Xavier Professor Craig Fischer from Appalachian State University, thanking me for my 2012 Halloween post series on the Rutland, Vermont, Halloween parade and its portrayals in comic books from Avengers and Justice League to Amazing Adventures (starring my favorite mutant, the Beast) and Freedom Fighters. Prof. Fischer wrote to me:
...[T]here's a series of particular Bully posts that were very helpful for my recent work. About seven months ago, I submitted a presentation idea for an academic conference (the Modern Language Association conference, held in early January 2013). My paper was titled "The Illegitimate Sons of Superman: DIY Publishing and the Rutland Halloween Parade."...

...I started to actually write the presentation...and then, BAM! Your series of Rutland posts came out, and were incredibly informative and a great place to steal images from. I acknowledged my debt to you when I delivered the presentation last Saturday, where I said..."In talking about the Rutland comics, I rely heavily on scans and information from the comics blog run by 'Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull,' who for Halloween 2012 put up image-rich posts from Rutland-themed comics. Thanks, Bully!"
WOW. I have been cited at the MLA. At a real honest-to-goodness academic conference! I am beaming with pride at being the first stuffed animal comics blogger to be mentioned at MLA. Take that, Giraffo!

I'm ashamed to note that I didn't write back to Professor Fischer immediately, and by the time I intended to do so, I could no longer find the email. Mea culpa! Sorry about, that, Professor. But when I was looking through my vast clippings morgue for Halloween posts this year I finally came across the email, and my luttle stuffed hoof hit my fuzzy forehead, and I said to myself in great shame (and a little bit of hunger, because it was well after lunchtime): "I forgot to thank Professor Fischer!"

So here y'are, Professor F! Thank you for the kind mention and the lovely note, and I apologize for being so late to reply either privately or publicly. Well, at least you didn't send me hand-made pajamas.

At the same time I'd realized I never finished the Rutland posts, although the biggest ones were done in '12. So here, dedicated to Professor Craig Fischer for all the hard work he put into what sounds like an ultra-cool academic presentation, is the next chapter in the life of the Rutland, Vermont and Parade founder and host Tom Fagan! Let's go up to New England in the year 1977, shall we, and find out what the Justice League of America is up to!

Panels from Justice League of America (1960 series) #145 (August 1977), script by Steve Englehart, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Frank McLaughlin, colors by Anthony Tollin, letters by Ben Oda

While Tom Fagan's there to greet the teleporting JLA, it's not Halloween and there's no Parade, so this post should actually be titled something like "One Night in Rutland, Probably in Late November, Just Before Thanksgiving." They've come here to investigate a mysterious magical attack on Superman, discovered comatose on the JLA satellite (22,300 miles above Earth). How do we know it's a magical attack? Because, The Phantom Stranger, that's why.

Now that we know the "true" identity of the Phantom Stranger is a guy with 30 silver coins he got for betraying a friend, I think these days we'd show the P.S. to the door and say, "Eh, thank you, we'll read your pamphlets, goodbye now." Back then in those more innocent days of Earth-1 and Earth-2 and Dinah Lance suddenly becoming her own daughter and what I picture as Roy Thomas sitting in his office surrounded by ten thousand index cards and huge stacks of Golden Age National comic books, though, they're off with P-Strange to Rutland, barely giving Tom Fagan the time of day. So rude, Funky Phantom! Well, at least Batman is polite. Although I'm having trouble hearing in my head the Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy, Adam West or even Olan Soule saying "Take care."

Well, as you all know, it's not a Rutland, Vermont story without various creepies and ghoulies, and this story veers off into a battle against the villain Count Crystal, in his triumphant debut and final appearance in DC Comics. Yep: we never saw the villain again after Batman punched him in the nose and made him cry on page 27. I woulda enjoyed it had Count Crystal attempted to make a comeback in the 1990s by threatening the team that was to the Justice League America and Justice League Europe what the band Asia was to Yes and ELO: Justice League Extreme. But sadly, he never would have made it: his supervillain name had far too few "Kill"s or "Blood"s in it.

Sometimes when the JLA gets together around the team table to reminisce about the old days, somebody will bring up Rutland, Vermont, and they'll all remember the far-out, zany, crazy times they had there in 1972, but nobody ever brings up 1977, because they wasn't anything particularly memorable about visiting Rutland that year. It was a story of which the best you could say is that it brings back Red Tornado, and of that even the Grand Comics Database says, with some exasperation I might be projecting onto the entry, "Red Tornado revived again."

So, Professor F., this one is dedicated to you with thanks and appreciation, but you didn't miss much in this one. Except the sight of Green Arrow being his usual action-oriented, hard-hitting, quick-to-battle self throughout the whole adventure:

Tomorrow! One Night In Rutland...1977, Part 2!


Blam said...

As if The Phantom Stranger couldn't mimic Superman's voice. Suckers.

Blam said...

Forgot to add: Black Canary is Dinah Lance, not Diane (nor Diana, despite what James "Eh, James Garrett is close enough" Robinson thought).

Bully said...

Yikes! And I knew it was Dinah. Thanks again Blam!