SuicideGirls #2: The Tear Harvest Begins



You know, I’m reluctant to say that anything could ever be “the new Tarot,” since Tarot exists on a plane we mere muggles could never truly understand. That said, I’ll be damned if IDW’s SuicideGirls isn’t doing its level best to be the craziest comic on the market — and with better art, too.

Join me as I delve into the second issue’s incoherent story of cyborgs, tear harvests and the sexy freedom fighting that I’ve dubbed “harloterrorism.” I seriously cannot wait for the next one.

Let Them Beat Fakes

Earlier tonight, I was talking to Matthew Allen Smith–whom you’ll all know as the artist of The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, premiering this Wednesday on the Action Age–about Batman, because… well, let’s be honest here: 90% of the conversations I have in any given day are going to end up being about Batman whether the other party wants them to or not. It’s just how I roll.

Anyway, over the course of the conversation, Smithy told me about a story that I didn’t believe actually existed until he showed it to me, so since I haven’t talked about Batman in like three days now, I figured I’d share it with you.

Originally running for six weeks in 1946 as part of the Batman newspaper strip–which means that it’s handily reprinted in Batman: The Dailies–this story was originally credited to Bob Kane (of course), but was actually the product of Jack Schiff and the legendary Dick Sprang. And brother, it is a story that asks the hard questions, starting with…



What on Earth is Batman doing to Robin? And is it really worse than dressing him up in bright colors and chucking him at gun-toting hoodlums every night?

The answer to the latter question is yes, but for the former, it’s a little more complicated. It all starts with fugitive Slugger Kaye, who has managed to evade both the stalwart incompetence of the Gotham City Police Department and its resident vigilante, a problem that’s turned Commissioner Gordon into a total dick.



That dude has been waiting years for Batman to screw up so that he can rub it in, but that square-jawed sonofabitch is just not having it.

See, as it tuns out, Kaye is known for never missing the annual First Ward Independent Political Association Ball, and since this year’s is a masquerade, B-Dubs and the Rob figure he’ll make an appearance incognito. Thus, after wrangling an invitation through a classic B&E that involves the friendliest security guard ever…



…they’re ready to hit the town.

There is, however, one snag. According to the invitation, due to an outbreak of fisticuffs at last year’s party, every gentleman must be accompanied by a lady. And since Batwoman was still ten years away, that means it’s time for one of the Golden Age’s favorite plot devices: Cross-dressing.

Specifically, Batman elects to go with a matching Louis XVI/Marie Antoinette drag, presumably because Robin just didn’t have the legs to pull off Juliet.

Now, I took a vow a few years back that I’d do my level best to avoid Batman/Robin gay jokes. They’ve been done to death, and the last time they were actually funny was somewhere around the last third of Seduction of the Innocent, so I fully intend to stick by my word through this story.

Alfred, however, is totally fair game.



No matter how hard I might try to forget it, I will carry the sight of Robin’s heaving bosom with me to my grave.

Once Alfred’s done flirting with the Young Master, however, it’s finally time to get this drag show on the road. And as you might expect, Robin is the belle of the ball:



Whoa, Robin, you let him ast your foist?! On the first date?! Jeez, man, show some class.

Interestingly enough, the same thing happened to Jimmy Olsen in the ’60s when he dressed as a girl in order to infiltrate a gang. So for the record, that’s two of DC’s Big Three whose best friends can pass for attractive young ladies. All three if you count Etta Candy, but really, that’s a stretch.

Anyway, rather than stepping in to defend his “date’s” honor, Batman pretty much tosses his chum to the wolves so that he can case the party himself with the benefit of a handy distraction. And eventually, after Robin faces down a whirlwind courtship from Gotham’s seedier element, they track down Slugger and his date for the evening, Hammerlock Hilda. And given that her name is “Hammerlock Hilda,” a description probably isn’t that necessary.

Her presence complicates matters, because again, Batman decides to make Robin handle her, which is problematic in his own right because Robin can’t hit a girl! Even one whose first name is, from all indications, “Hammerlock.”

Fortunately, he is able to just stick his fist out and let physics take its course.



And then they chuck Slugger over the balcony.



Oh, relax, they’ve got the fire department waiting to catch him. As regular ISB readers already know, Robin wouldn’t kick a man off a balcony to his death until 1988.

Anyway, what matters here is that we all learn an important lesson: That there is no problem, be it in a sitcom or in crime-fighting, that cannot be solved with increasingly elaborate transvestism.

The Devil In Miss McCoy

With all the bad news that’s come down the pike here at ISB Headquarters over the past few days, I thought that tonight might be a good time to turn the spotlight onto something a little lighter, and when I think of levity, there’s only one place I turn: Archie Comics! The Mirth of a Nation!

Yeah. That was their slogan back in the forties. I know.

Anyway, longtime ISB readers will no doubt be familiar with my mild obsession with Archie Comics, especially the “serious” strips that appeared in books like Live with Archie and Archie at Riverdale High. Rather than the standard “Two Dates For the Dance” formula that the core titles would head back to time and time again, these were stories that centered around Archie having to save Betty and Veronica from certain death in a burning building, stopping a robbery at the little-used Diamond Exchange, or clearing Chuck’s name in the aftermath of the infamous Riverdale Race Riots of ’72…



…which had the effect of making otherwise boring morality plays into the most bizarrely, hilariously incongruous stories that I have ever seen.

And when those stories started sneaking into the other titles, well, that’s when things just got ridiculous.



Yes, screaming in from 1973 are Josie and the Pussycats in Vengeance From the Crypt! Those of you who read bitterandrew’s Armagideon Time–and really, that should be all of you–might remember this one from when he covered it back in March. I’ve been looking for a copy of my own ever since, and since I tracked one down in the quarter bins at HeroesCon, we both agreed that this thing of beauty is worth another look.

Because after all… this is the one where Josie gets possessed by the Devil.



That in itself is crazy enough, but man… I’ve got to think that for the kids of the ’70s, getting a story where the Author of All Lies inhabits Josie’s body with murderous intent in the same comic where Melody has to deal with a dress falling apart and revealing a generous amount of leg, this thing had to be confusing as hell.

Then again, this is a series where Josie’s primary rival for Alan M.’s affections can cast spells when she holds a cat that is also the reincarnation of an ancestor who was sentenced to death for consorting with witches, so who knows? Maybe they were cool with it.

So here’s how it goes down: One summer morning in 1973, the creators in the Archie Comics Bullpen decided that it was a good time for kids to learn about death, and so the Pussycats took the morning off to accompany Alexandra to the Cabot Family Mausoleum when she went to lay flowers on her recently deceased grandfather’s casket. Josie, however, decides that it’d be a good idea to explore the spooky lower level, gets a noseful of Eau de Satan for her trouble, and before you know it, this is happening:



Yes, Josie’s got a bad case of the Devil! Or to quote the floating head of Valerie Brown that appears on page one…

Deep into the heart of our good friend they flow, and Josie becomes the devil’s advocate, a screaming, hate-ridden banshee, a monstrous messenger bent on delivering Vengeance From the Crypt!

Oh go cry about it, Val.

I mean really, sure it’s the Devil, and sure the first sign that something’s wrong is that Josie tries to burn down the Cabots’ house while everyone’s out at the pool, but it turns out that much like Andrew, all the devil really wants to do is have a girl-on-girl bikini catfight with Melody.



And don’t we all?

Unfortunately, before the fight can spill out into the kiddie pool full of Jell-O that the Cabots keep next to the patio (see Josie #84), Valerie the Spoilsport hits on the idea of exorcising the demon with the family Bible, and the chances of getting a Josie and the Pussycats cover of Number of the Beast are lost forever.

But hey! At least we got a happy ending out of it!



…sort of.