Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Meaning of Lobdell

In honor of Douglas Adams, I now present a list of terms for phenomena in comics that everyone has noticed, but nobody has thought much about because there was never a word for it before. I name them after X-Title creators pretty much totally at random, because naming them after cities seemed just silly.

Claremont (n): The death of a villain at the hands of another villain (usually a new villain) solely to demonstrate how powerful and ruthless the new villain is. The Upstarts, for instance, began their string of appearances in the X-titles with the claremont of the entire Hellfire Club, while Stryfe demonstrated his power with the claremont of Apocalypse. Virtually without exception, claremonts are performed by weak, incompetent, or otherwise unexceptional villains; their spectacular performance against villains never seems to allow them any advantage against heroes. The obvious conclusion to draw is that they're in the wrong line of work--while they might be unexceptional as bad guys, they'd make excellent super-heroes.

Lobdell (v.): To inadvertently reveal one's greatest secret by telling it to the one person sure to blab it to everyone; namely, the reading audience. The greatest example of a character lobdelling comes from Guido Carosella, who revealed to Doctor Leonard Samson and the audience that his powers caused him chronic pain and heart trouble. Within months, a wide variety of characters stumbled onto the information independently and without talking to Doc Samson. Clearly, the audience blabbed. (The same phenomenon also occurs with the secret mindwipe of Batman in 'Identity Crisis'...a secret kept perfectly up until the time the readers found out about it.)

Madureira (n.): A character brought back from the dead despite the seeming total indifference of the reading audience to their deceased status. For example, Bucky. By definition, a madureira must first be a portacio, unless the character has been dead for an extremely long period of time. It will probably take at least another three decades for Barry Allen to become a madureira.

Morrison (v.): To appear in so many titles at the same time that even the most naive reader wonders when the character finds time to sleep. Currently used almost solely in regards to Wolverine, but during the 1990s, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Lobo morrisoned regularly.

Portacio (n.): An obscure character brought back for a guest appearance who is obviously going to be killed off over the course of his or her guest appearance in order to "shock" the readers. Why any writer would think their readers are going to be shocked by the death of a portacio, when their imminent death is so obvious, remains a mystery.

Silvestri (n., pl.): The assorted minor characters that have accumulated over the years in the X-titles, which readers are expected to remember even though they might not have appeared for months, years, or even decades. Polaris is a noted silvestra, as is Havok, and by this point the entire original cast of 'New Mutants' qualify as silvestri.

Whedon (n.): A character who is popular enough to be given their own book, but not popular enough to sustain it; the character winds up getting a regular series several times, each time not lasting more than a few years before cancellation. (Notable whedons or wheda--either is correct--include Hawkeye, the Martian Manhunter, Doctor Strange, and the Thing. Note that in all cases the whedon remains a high-profile and active character even between iterations of his/her series.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

ConBestiary #2

Phantasmal Stench: As we are all aware, convention attendees have worked long and hard to change their behavior in the face of stereotypes of them as unwashed, smelly and disgusting. If you poll con attendees, they'll all tell you that of course they shower and change their clothes every day of the convention. So why, then, in the face of all these truthful and hygenic conventioneers, do we still catch a distinctive and unpleasant scent of human body odor?

The answer, of course, is that the stench has endured for so long that it is now self-perpetuating and sentient. The sheer amount of body odor pumped into the air at cons over the years has created an intelligent stink--one whose personality is naturally formed from hundreds of con attendees, and which therefore loves to hang out at cons. It particularly loves the dealer rooms; even though it has no money, it likes to "window shop". It also enjoys hanging out at gaming sessions and all-night anime rooms.

If you find yourself walking through a pocket of the phantasmal stench, simply breathe through your mouth and mutter that you think you saw a bootleg copy of the 'Dungeons and Dragons' cartoon on the other side of the dealer room. (The phantasmal stench loves that show.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ConBestiary #1

Escalator Gremlins: These tiny creatures are a sub-species of the common gremlin (subhominus dahlen) which believes itself to be benevolent. Unlike its malicious cousin, it tries to help humans by sabotaging dangerous machinery. Unfortunately, its small cranial capacity (the average escalator gremlin is only three inches long from head to toe) has led it to the erroneous conclusion that escalators are dangerous. They do look dangerous, after all--they're all ominous and black, and they move in a vaguely disturbing way (as any small child who's worried about being sucked into one can attest.) As a result, the escalator gremlins make it their mission to disable escalators in high-traffic areas.

Contrary to popular belief, escalator gremlins have no grievance against elevators--in fact, they find the little chime that sounds when the doors open to be quite soothing. They do everything within their power to ensure that said chime occurs at every single floor, whether the elevator is going up or down.