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.)


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you also mention John Lloyd, in addition to Douglas Adams? In any case, quite amusing!

Reid said...

I had always heard that a "claremont" was a dangling plot thread that may or may never be revisited. "That whole thing about being invisible to media? Yeah, that was just a claremont. They can be seen on TV now."

Also, in some circles to "leifeld" someone means to remove their feet.

Loved the blog!