Friday, May 29, 2009

A Favorite Comic Story: Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality

DC Comics has close to seventy-five years of history. Everyone knows Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, and most of the major heroes of this universe, but when you span seven-and-a-half decades of serial stories, there are bound to be a number of characters that get swept away.

Very often, most of these characters "die" the metaphorical death of comics written out of popularity. Times change, and certain heroes just don't make much sense any more. But sometimes, some characters have some relevance even well past their prime. Or not. But they still have potential. I guess with the correct writer, even a D-list figure can be made interesting. Case in point, the story at hand. With Brian Azarello writing and Cliff Chiang on art duties, Doctor 13 is a book for comic book nerds with a love of comic book tropes, DC Comics history, metafiction, comedy, and Nazi gorillas.

One things I love about this story is how it includes so many bad ideas: Ghost pirates, a tank haunted with the ghost of a Confederate general, a caveman thawed from ice who speaks only French, and, of course, Nazi Gorillas individually probably would not work on their own. However, together as a team pulled together in absurdity, with only one person playing the voice of reason, we end up with magic.

Okay a bit a of history: The Primate Patrol (the group of Nazi Gorillas) was an idea from a comic titled "Weird War Tales" back in the 70s. I believe they only appeared a few times, kind of around the era when Planet of the Apes movies were reaching their fourth or fifth sequel. Now, nobody really likes Nazis. But people love monkeys. With the following page, Azarello does something that is kind of odd...he gives a sense of pathos to these outcasts of outcasts. You kind of feel for these Nazi Gorillas abandoned in the wilderness believing in a war that was ended sixty years earlier.

If you think that Nazi Gorillas are a bit much to handle and on the absurd side. Consider the following: Julius, the leader of the Primate Patrol sacrifices himself to help one of Doctor 13's allies, "I, Vampire"-a vampire who fights against evil vampires and refuses to drink the blood of the innocent. While "I, Vampire" has never feasted on the blood of primate before it does restore him and they continue their quest. However, Julius transforms...

Yep...Nazi Vampire Gorillas. I have two words for this: Fucking Awesome!

There are a lot of good things about this book. And I figure I will leave you with the following images. I show my true roots as an Merican.

Few things to mentions: Don't ever mess with our nations founding fathers. A good number of our presidents (except Bush the Lesser) will kick your ass. And never challenge a national monument wearing spandex shorts.

Seriously...Nobody fucks with Mount Rushmore.

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