[It Came From the Quarter Bin highlights comics that time seems to have forgotten]
There has been a lack of humor recently in comic books. I’m not sure why that is, but certainly the big two constantly one upping each other with each new issue surely has to lead to dire consequences for our heroes. Even still, there are some books that come out from time to time with a focus on the lighter side of life.
As we celebrate the holiday with family and friends, let’s remember to smile and enjoy the last days leading up to the new year.
Great Lakes Avengers GLX-mas Special
Why I Bought It
I have the short mini-series Dan wrote up about the Great Lakes Avengers and this was for some reason the odd man out in my collection. Not content with letting a series look incomplete, I snapped this up and a copy of the Punisher’s Red Xmas. You should always pair something light to go with a gritty vigilante story.
I personally like Dan Slott books because he can present a great deal of heart from even the craziest of characters. I’m sure it has something to do with his work on the Ren and Stimpy comics, but he pairs well with the odd. Sometimes it can be a bit much, but the intent is usually there and it really is welcome to see in stories that shouldn’t necessarily be ramping up to world ending events every week.
For that reason, he seems almost perfect for a Christmas Special.
The Great Lakes Avengers first appeared under John Byrne’s tenure on the West Coast Avengers as a spoof of the current team. Consisting of great heroes like Dinah Soar, Doorman, Flat Man, Big Bertha and Mr. Immortal, they were a team that would try to get the job done even if they were dangerously ill equipped for it. Their charm would lie in the abilities they each had. Flat Man has all the powers that a 2d man can have in a 3d world. Dinah Soar is a pink alien dinosaur creature that doesn’t speak any understandable language. Big Bertha is svelte super model Ashley Crawford who is able to increase her size by enormous proportions. Mr. Immortal dies and comes back to life. Doorman is able to press against any flat wall and let people pass through him.
Obviously these guys are not exactly Avengers material and you better believe Hawkeye goes out of his way to make that known. He does decide to give the team a bit of training, but eventually they would be sent a cease and desist letter to prevent them from calling themselves “Avengers.” This struggle for identity would be an ongoing joke as they assume the names GLX-Men, Great Lakes Initiative, and The Lightning Rods.
After years of dormancy, Dan Slott would take to the characters again in his 2005 GLA mini series that would flesh out the characters by making them relevant for present day Marvel to battle some of the greatest villains ever created. Mr. Immortal’s history would be revealed as a man constantly followed by Deathurge after his mother asks the angel of death to raise her child and protect him. This would grant Mr. Immortal his powers but would also be the cause of great misfortune to him. Every person he would get close to will die, while he has to live on. It turned him suicidal and in dark comedic fashion, he learned the hard way that he has become the highest form of evolution. An immortal.
He however would find a sense of purpose with his abilities and would gather together with a ragtag group of other hopeful heroes in an attempt to join the pantheon of greats. Unfortunately, they would never get a big break. However, in the wake of the Avengers Disassembled event, they would finally get their chance with Maelstrom, their first true villain. Unprepared and over matched, this would turn disastrous for Dinah Soar. Her death would lead to a recruiting drive that would enlist the services of the mighty Grasshopper, the talented Squirrel Girl and Monkey Joe her faithful squirrel sidekick.
They would then of course proceed to lose Grasshopper to Batroc’s Brigade and Monkey Joe to a Dr. Doom copycat. In fact in each of the issues, a beloved member of the team would fall to a powerful foe and Deathurge would claim another loved one from Mr. Immortal. When Deathurge goes to claim Monkey Joe in a squirrel’s form, Mr. Immortal finally has enough and captures the rodent Deathurge to allow Monkey Joe’s soul to ascend to heaven.
As the series came to a close, the GLA would finally have to come face to face with the murderer of Dinah Soar. Maelstrom once again is trying to destroy the world and once again an Avenger would have to die before they could stop him. This time it would be Doorman, but unlike all the others, he would replace Deathurge as the angel of death after Oblivion deems him to be a disappointment. With the opportunity Doorman gave them, Mr. Immortal would save the day leading up to the first X-mas Squirrel Girl would have with the newly rebranded GLX.
What GLX-mas Special Is All About
GLX-mas contains a whopping 7 stories all interwoven around each other. It opens with Squirrel Girl on her way to the GLX Christmas party with Tippy Toe her new squirrel companion when she stumbles across MODOK causing chaos with SHIELD. With relative ease, the duo takes the menace down and heads off to the party. Forgetting to get some toilet paper, Squirrel Girl sets off again where she encounters the mighty Thanos while the team is left to save the city from Dr. Tannenbaum and his army of living Christmas trees.
The rest of the issue is an exploration of the characters behind the scenes. Mr. Immortal is left coping with his first Christmas alone since Dinah’s death, Grasshopper II is learning to take control of his new suit, Deathurge the Squirrel is trying to kill Tippy Toe to regain his former position and fails comically, and Doorman is having an overdue sit down with his father. One final showdown between Terrax the destroyer and Squirrel Girl and the team can finally live it up and party with Galactus, Santa and some dude in a flying Delorian.
Is It Good?
Very much so. See where GLA was a dark comedy focusing on the absurd nature of these heroes, GLX-mas is lighter and really tries to add some value to the survivors of GLA. To see the exploits of a girl and her squirrel besting world destroyers or the team take on evil evergreens is a humorous background to the really touching stories from Doorman and Mr. Immortal. Just like many of Dan Slott’s stories, it turns oddly wonderful as a callous remark from Flat Man about the extra stocking on the mantle triggers a really touching Christmas story of Dinah Soar and Mr. Immortal’s relationship.
An angry and alone Mr. Immortal stands in front of a grave wishing he could join his lover. Dinah Soar flies in the way a pink dinosaur lady would and he kinda goes off on her. To apologize he offers a whistle so that she could at least make some strides in speaking to the team. She in turn offers him the one thing she couldn’t offer anyone else. A special bond that can never be severed and allows the two of them to communicate. It is a really nice tribute to a main member that didn’t get enough time in the first series.
Doorman’s attempt to gain at least some form of approval from his father finally happens after a long, awkward standoff between the two. Apparently being the angel of death is a pretty good job upgrade from walking door. Unfortunately for Doorman, he has a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to spend with his family what with it being the holiday season.
It is in this some times dark comedy that we see a lot of care, humor and heart within the book. It even has a cutout Flat Man for those that want to create their own action figure. GLX-mas has a bit of everything, which is the best kind of present to have for the holidays. Well, other than having friends and family surround you.
So its second best, which is right where these guys belong.
Merry Christmas ya’ll