Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Website Says It, Not Me

Probably the best comic book website ever is Superman Is a Dick. Great stuff.

My apologies to the rest of the comic-focused internet, but let’s be serious. No other site can even approach its overwhelming awesome-osity. We are but pale shadows of Superdickery's majesty.

Jimmy Olsen marrying the gorilla? Magic.

There was an obscure miniseries* (originally by Slave Labor Graphics in the late eighties, later redone and reprinted by DC in 1991) that took the idea of “Dickhead Superman” and ran with it. It was The Griffin, by Dan Vado, Norman Felchle, and Mark McKenna.

Matt Williams, high school football star and self-impressed jerkwad, is looking forward to a football scholarship to USC and a future with his girlfriend Janet. While out driving alone, a spaceship lands in front of him and makes him an offer: come with us and we’ll make you a superman, and you'll be a big war hero. (Their “super-man” process only works on humans, not their own kind.) He goes.

The story resumes twenty years later. Williams has gone AWOL from the alien army to visit Earth and his family. Upon his return, he’s shocked to discover that his family thinks he’s dead and his girlfriend married another man. Just because he disappeared. Without a trace. Twenty years prior.

Yep, he’s a dick. Everyone tells him as much. And he doesn't take it well.

The aliens, loathe to allow insubordination, especially from a prominent officer and super-weapon like Williams, try to get him back. First they send another super-man to capture or kill him. Their battle destroys San Jose and kills hundreds. Later the aliens dispatch a fleet to the Earth and threaten to destroy the whole planet to either recover or kill Williams.

The story splits time between Williams trying to get his head out of his ass and the politics of the alien empire that created him. Earth becomes a pawn in a power struggle between a ruling council and a figurehead emperor who wants to regain control.

The Griffin is that rarest of birds, an intelligent and adult comic book. Character motivations are complex, the politics of the alien empire and the ramifications of a threatened invasion of Earth are played out in a believable and interesting fashion, and yeah, stuff goes boom real good.

You might be able to find The Griffin in quarter bins. Slave Labor Graphics has also collected it into a trade paperback. It’s some fine, fine stuff.

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*I didn’t hear about it until five or six years after it came out, and I haven’t heard it mentioned in the comics blog-o-sphere either. So I’m guessing this was a minor book. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong here.

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