Monday, April 1, 2002

The Mount - It's (Dennis) Miller Time

(EDITORS NOTE: This month's "The Mount" is being written by Dennis Miller; former A-list comedian, former anchor for Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update", former talk-show host and now former Monday Night Football color commentary man. Matt "Stars" Morrison generously agreed to give up his regular space this month, in order that he might give something back to an idol of his, whom has seen better days.)

Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but what's up with the state of comics these days? Back when I was a whisper-thin lad of ten summers, there wasn't a short-pant bedecked one who didn't thrill to take a trip down to the drugstore to see the latest adventures stacked on the bottom shelf of the newsstand... no, wait... That wasn't my childhood. I grew up in the Pittsburgh ghetto. Must have gotten possessed by Andy Rooney again.

The point is that once upon a time comics could once be justifiably called kiddie books. And now look at them; ultra-violence to make Alex and all of his droogs nauseous; weaker characterization than your average Michael Bay flick and female anatomy so grossly out of proportion to make Jenna Jameson look like Peppermint Patty.

Of course comics is not alone in this growing up. Video games, for example, have progressed from two paddles beating a ball back and forth to the point where one can actually count the number of blood droplets splattered across the tree as you unleash a torrent of gunfire into the back of a doe's head. And that's just in the new Bambi game out from DisneySoft!

Thankfully, the once great national institution of comicdom has managed to hover under the "What's Wrong With Today's Youth" radar. Why do we need Lady Death when we can blame all our sociopathic youth plagues on Quake and Marilyn Manson? Who, it might be noted, is slowly starting to look more and more like Lady Death as the years go on

As far as menaces to society go, Comics are on the dung heap along with Dungeons and Dragons, The Russians and Tiffany. They've all become yesterday's news, the passé Great Tool of Satan- deader than Al Gore trying to slow dance to a Morrisey song as interpreted by Robert Glass, played by a slow jazz trio made up of Cecil the Turtle, Leonardo and Fastback.

Hah! See? Got an actual comics' reference in there, cha-cha.

Of course many efforts have been made to pull comics out of the realms of Tarturus. Marvel alone is making some impressive strides in cross-promoting their stuff to the masses and making some quick cash off of Hollywood. It was easy enough once they found writers, who captured the essence of a book, directors with the artistic vision to bring about that essence, actors who fit the uniqueness of each of their beloved characters and quit hiring Roger Corman to produce their movies.

Now, far be it for me to pronounce myself qualified to judge anyone's performance in Hollywood. After all, I am the guy who distinguished himself as being more unhuggable than Boomer Esiason and who's most distinguished thespiatic effort to date was playing Sandra Bullock's gay best friend in "The Net". But I think everyone here will agree with me when I say that whoever is in charge of developing DC Comics properties needs to be locked in a small room with Richard Simmons for a few hours. Then we need to let them out and force them to watch the complete works of Kenneth Brannagh, until they beg to be locked in the room with Richard again.

Cruel and unusual punishment, my ass. Can we allow unusual punishment? I have a whole list of ideas for that.

In all seriousness though, I've heard there's an executive at Warner Bros., who had the bright idea to turn Adam Strange into "the next Harry Potter". This is a screw-up on par with the day Casca said to Brutus, "You know, I think people will be much happier without a tyrant. "

For those of you who somehow wound up reading this here without knowing thing one about comics, Adam Strange is a Man of Earth from the days of pulp comics. Yeah, the days when you could say "Man of Earth" and not get laughs like I used to during my first season on HBO. Adam gets zapped by this ray that causes him to flit back and forth between Earth and the planet Rann. Oddly enough, this ray was not designed by the Defense Department, but by Sardath; a scientist looking for specimens to breed with the sterile population of his planet. Adam winds up falling in love with Sardath's daughter, becoming a hero who saves the world a few thousand times and keeps running about on an endless quest, hoping that his next leap will be the leap home. Wait, that's Samuel Beckett. Oh, but why quibble when we're nearing the endgame?

That's okay... groan. Groan all three of you English majors who got that.

Sounds like a good story, doesn't it? For the women, you have romance; a guy who literally crosses the galaxy to find true love. Now there's a unique and epic love story to sink that little Leonardo DeCaprio/Kate Winslet vehicle. For the men, you have all the two-fisted manly action, explosions and cool space crap that you could get from a week of watching Lorne Greene and Maren Jensen. You've even got some gratuitous violence and sexual elements that can push it up to a PG-13 so the kids will want to see it.

And now we have this idiot ne savant who thinks the best way to bring this 40-year-old epic of romance, action and creepy fathers who want to set their daughters up with aliens to big screen is by deaging the hero. What's the point? I mean, how on earth is a scientist supposed to explain to a kid that he was zapped across space by a government plot right out of the wonderful Tommy Kirk opus, "Mars Needs Women"?

Or would they bother to change that? A 13 year old boy suddenly being asked to mate with a twenty-something space princess? Heck, why not? God knows every American 13 year old boy has dreamt that ever since Summer of 83 when Carrie Fisher became forever immortalized as "that chick in the metal bra".

And if they do change that element, why the heck would they be blasting these teleport rays into space in the first place? I mean, I'm no Harlan Ellison, but it occurs to me that any race that can master the sciences of teleportation is hopefully going to have a government that has advanced beyond the needs for subsidies to keep a senator in power. "Here ye, here ye, the honorable gentleman from Gropnar-17 would like to bring to the table this bill, calling for the construction of a large teleportation ray to blast beams randomly into space."

There's also this new Birds of Prey show that's coming up. Originally it was called "Chicks Who Kick Ass", but that wasn't quite PC enough. BoP is a nice action comic about a neo-superheroic Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin pairing who just happen to be women. Nothing quite so drastic here, except that Black Canary has been deaged from late 20's to her teens to give the show a "Buffy" vibe.

Yeah... cause you know that a show about tough women outside of their teens would never work in this Xena-phobic business of ours.

Bad puns... so this is what it has come to huh? Okay... go for the kill.

Anyway, my advice to Warner Brothers is to just step back, let the writers and editors do their work and trust that they can do for the movies and TV shows what they do for your lesser holdings. And for God's sake, get Jon Peters off the payroll before he decides Superman needs a funny edge and that Adam Sandler would be the perfect one to play him.

Of course that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

NOTE: This column really was written by Matt Morrison, and not Dennis Miller. We have nothing but the highest respect for Dennis Miller and this parody was done out of love, so please don't sue us.

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