May 7, 2013

Cheap Thrills -- BIG DADDY DANGER #1

This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult.  Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore!  Each week Daniel Elkin heads on out to Empire Comics Vault in Sacramento, CA and grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 25 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his solid quarter.  These are those tales.

April 17, 2013 – paid 25 cents for:
Published by: DC Comics
Created, Written, and Drawn by: Adam Pollina
Inks by: Tyson McAdoo
Colors by: Thomas Chu
Editor: Mike Carlin
I know things are weird and unsettled right now, but if you think about it, we've been living in that sort of state for a long time. Remember October 2002? Things were weird and vicious and frightening then too.
Remember the Beltway snipers? How about when a lone bomber detonated a homemade bomb in Helsinki, Finland killing seven and injuring 166? Then terrorists blew up bombs in Bali nightclubs killing 202 and injuring over 300. And, of course, there was that whole (yes, I know) Chechen rebel takeover of a Moscow theatre that ended up with nearly 200 people dead.
All of these things happened in October 2002.
Hell, Richard Harris died, Jam Master Jay was shot dead and Warren Zevon was diagnosed with cancer. While there is no denying that April 2013 is a vicious month, it almost pales in comparison to October 2002.
But, even among the brutality, there are always little shining dewdrops of hope, of happiness, of joy. One of those things happened to be DC Comics' decision to publish Adam Pollina's Big Daddy Danger #1. While this event did little to mitigate the aforementioned horrors, of course, it did show that even as we flee from the darkness, there are small lights to guide our way.
Sometimes, though, those little lights end up in the bargain bin.
Big Daddy Danger, a comic with a truly unfortunate name that brings up all sorts of incestuous pedophile nightmares, is about wrestlers (which, I guess, brings about its own set of fears as well). As such, it opens as a microphone lowers, an announcer slurs about slobberknockers andchampionships, and “two giants enter from opposing corners of the arena”.
These two giants are our titular Big Daddy Danger and his opponent, The Meat Maker.  There is a double page splash of these two behemoths clenching each other in the ring (which my scanner couldn't fit) while Big Daddy Danger worries that The Meat Maker may be too strong and fast for him to beat.

Meanwhile, miles away the Mayor of Big City and his daughter are driving.
And there is trouble. Trouble in the name of Shanghai Suzy and Lady Eighty. They are slabs of taught beef.
They are working for a mysterious Mr. X (I mean his name is Mr. X, so he must be mysterious, right?) and while Shanghai Suzy grabs the Mayor, Lady Eighty takes off with the daughter. Although, in terms of kidnapping, it would make more sense for Shanghai to do the Shanghai-ing, right? Or am I reading too much into this?
It's a wrestling comic. I shouldn't worry so much. Lipnick might hate the script.
The comic cuts back to Big Daddy Danger putting the BA-WHOOM on The Meat Maker.
For a wrestler, he is certainly feeling existential. Thus is the fate of all of the people's champions, I guess.
While accepting the championship belt, Big Daddy Danger's manager's “Ticker-Tape Cane” brings word of the Mayor and his daughter's kidnapping. When a major political crisis like this occurs, it only makes sense to turn to the wrestling community for help, right?
There ensues a quick montage of Big Daddy Danger showering, putting on a black turtleneck, and removing his luchador mask to reveal:
Ummm ... himself? He has a mask under his mask? When Lou Reed admonishes us to “take the blue mask off your face,” I don't think he expected a gray one to be there underneath. Is Pollina making a commentary about how even under our public persona, our private face wears a mask even unto ourselves? Is this more what Lipnick was after?
Big Daddy Danger is on the case, and, within moments, he has found the kidnappers of the girl. They are driving on the highway. They have a brown van as an escort. In the brown van there are guys with grim intent. They allow that grim intent to hold sway and send a message to Big Daddy.
Big Daddy understands the message. It's NO HOLDS BARRED!
I guess the van was a nuclear van.
Big Daddy then goes from “A Man of Thought” to “A Man of Action” and jumps onto the car containing the daughter and her kidnappers. He can do that because he is a wrestler, and, as you know, wrestlers can do those sorts of things.
Anyway, Lady Eighty climbs out of the sunroof (or is it a moon roof – how do those differ? Why do I care?). They quip, they punch, they grapple – they WRESTLE on top of the moving car. Big Daddy gets Lady Eighty into a scissor hold and tosses her deftly to the asphalt with a THUNK!
Big Daddy then climbs through the sun/moon roof, tosses the driver out of the car, and proceeds to bang a serious uey (I'll admit that I had to look up how to spell “uey”. I'm not proud in that regard).
There follows a scene with Big Daddy's son, Danny Danger (I can't make this shit up) engaged in a wrestling match of his own. He wins and is all excited and stuff. He turns to the audience and thinks he sees his father in the background, shaded, dark, with glowing red eyes, and commences to yell, “Hey Dad! Did ya see? Did ya?”
It's kind of sad really. A child raised in the limelight as the son of a professional wrestler, so in need of his father's approval, so in need of following in his footsteps, so in need of extrinsic acknowledgment, so needy. So needy.
Of course the dark hulking figure in the back ain't Big Daddy Danger. More on that later, though.
We cut back to Big Daddy Danger, and he is jumping from the sun/moon roof of the speeding automobile onto the landing gear of an airplane ascending. John McClane ain't got nuthin' on Big Daddy (which, I think, will be the title of my doctoral dissertation one day).
Of course, waiting on the wing, literally, is Shanghai Suzy. They quip, they punch, they grapple – they WRESTLE on top of an airplane hundreds of feet above the ground. Big Daddy ducks a Shanghai Suzy left cross and the momentum of her punch sends her tumbling off the wing.
Thank goodness she was wearing a parachute.
Somehow Big Daddy lands the plane (because wrestlers can do that) and reunites the Mayor with his daughter. The sight of those two hugging reminds Big Daddy that he, indeed, has a child of his own.
Ah yes. Every parent longs for the day where they brutally disappoint their child and said child takes that opportunity to say, “I Hate You!
It's really why we become parents in the first place.
Although, perhaps, this could end up being just the thing that Danny Danger needs to stop his attention seeking behavior, to cease trying to define himself through the lens of his father, to become his own man, to pursue his own dreams, to disappoint his own children further down the road.
Big Daddy Danger uses his son's hatred of him to do some serious self-loathing while he does some serious self-reflecting. It's what wrestlers do, right? Pollina also uses this as an opportunity to reveal the identity of the shadowy red-eyed hulk from earlier, the man behind the kidnapping, Big Daddy's arch-nemesis:
His Brother????
Oh man, Lipnick is going to be pissed. Wallace Beery doesn't go in for any epic family dramas. It's supposed to be about big men! In tights! Both physically and mentally! Pollina is pulling a serious Fink-out here, I think. He's trying to put some epic poetic sensibilities into his wrestling plot, a Cain and Abel trope, perhaps even a Hamlet stand-in – the meat is in the intent, not in the tights. There is heft to these wrestlers after all!
I had mentioned at the onset of this column that this book was published during a particularly savage month (October, 2002), and its publication provided a much-needed little shining dewdrop of hope. I stand by that statement. A matter of fact I stand by it with my feet planted firmly on the ground and my arms akimbo, jutting my chin sharply to the heavens while a gentle breeze swirls through my cape. Big Daddy Danger #1 is about heroism – flawed though that hero may be. As we face plant into tragedy after tragedy and our news media frenzies itself in the stench of blood, horror, and fear mongering, we forget that there are those among us who are truly worthy of our admiration and attention. There are police officers and firemen, nurses and teachers, volunteers and, yes, even wrestlers who put themselves out there every day for the sake of others. To make a difference. To bring joy and safety and peace and understanding to a fucked up world.
Big Daddy Danger was one of those guys. And even though the series only lasted 9 issues, I have a feeling we'll be hearing from that crazy wrestler, and I don't mean a postcard.
Fuck Lipnick. Pollina is a writer!
See you next time.

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