This week, the internet is ablaze with all sorts of news out of the San Diego Comic-Con.
We aren’t there. We haven’t been for over a decade, because it just got too big and loud for a couple of old fogeys like Julie and me. And that was when it was only the size of a continent. We have found that we don’t miss it; we are much more about the smaller shows (as recounted here.)
What we do miss are the old CBR Mission Beach barbecues.
Our own Jim MacQuarrie, and his lovely wife Terri, began a Saturday night tradition of hosting a barbecue at Mission Beach, safely away from the convention craziness. (In particular, we were avoiding the Masquerade competition, because back in the late 1990s that was when you stood the most chance of getting trampled by some guy on stilts dressed as Optimus Prime. Today, of course, that hazard is now present for all four days of the show and likely Preview Night as well.)
For us San Diego was as much or more about reconnecting with friends we’d never get to see otherwise as it was the actual convention, and though our old friend Kurt has upheld this tradition somewhat with the CBR Northwest Dinner every year at ECCC, it’s just not the same.
Part of it’s just that we’re all older now. A lot of us have turned pro– Jim’s at Disney, Chris has a number of freelance credits, Kurt’s new book is rolling out at SDCC right now, and even I’ve made it into print a few times. So we are a little more jaded these days.
But back in the day we were all just a bunch or dorks getting our nerd on. What I remember the most fondly about the Mission Beach gatherings are the post-dinner arguments around the campfire about various bits of nerdlore.
Now, this is a time-honored tradition that goes back to my childhood. (Apparently it goes back to a lot of my generation’s childhoods, as you can see here.)
I’ve written up a couple of them at the old stand (here is my favorite of those) and I still get the giggles sometimes, remembering the fierce passion we brought to the discussion about these things. Admittedly, sometimes this was fueled by beer consumption, but a lot of us didn’t drink: Richard was stone-cold sober the night he was bellowing, “It’s totally logical for him to turn into a feathered bear!”
This was, by the way, something to do with Proty and the Legion of Super-Pets.
This sort of thing would go on for HOURS.
A great many of these, we never did manage to resolve. So, in a fit of nostalgia, I thought I’d share a few of them here. Maybe the Junk Shop group mind will succeed where we failed.
Here’s one we never nailed down. Superhero disguises and costume changes.
It has long been accepted as superhero canon that most costumed crimefighters wear their outfits under their civilian clothing.
Except…. how does that work? Superman and the Flash, sure, they can move at superhuman speed and their civilian outfits are super-compressed, safely stored in a pocket or ring or somewhere to be expanded later. Even Spider-Man has “spider-speed.” But what about Batman? Daredevil? Iron Fist? The non-powered crowd?
Batman, especially– the cape and cowl is BULKY. So’s the Utility Belt. Depending on who’s drawing it, it goes from difficult (Carmine Infantino) to logistically impossible (Kelley Jones.)
The TV show tried to get around it with the Batpoles, but the more you examine that particular solution, the worse it gets. We used to argue about this when I was a kid.
The “instant costume change lever” was even more problematic than the discarded Batmobile chutes. Especially since you apparently could negate it with the flip of a switch, so it wasn’t a case of an intervening locker-room sort of platform between the Wayne Manor study and the Batcave. It was INSTANT, and you could turn it on and off.
So what was the deal there? JLA transporter tech? But that never really got nailed down either, as during the time of the show, the League was still operating out of the cave sanctuary in Happy Harbor. Well, yeah, but should the TV show be held to that standard?
And so on.
It gets worse when you count the number of non-powered heroes who wore really bulky shit under their masks. Like how Matt Murdock never takes off his glasses.
Even worse is when Batman has the full cape and cowl on UNDER another disguise.
Rip off the rubber mask and… whoa, those bat-ears are at least four inches high. Also, it sure is obliging of the armed bad guys to wait for him to get shucked of the rest of the outfit. “Maybe they think he’s going to take it ALL off and they think he’s hot,” was one suggestion, but it did not survive the group’s rigid analysis of Batman’s history.
“He’s going to beat the shit out of them! He’s clearly a threat! It’s not seductive!”
“How do you know? They might be into that shit. Hurt me, Batman.”
“Every time? Come on!”
And so on.
Another one we never figured out was the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Specifically, their frankly insane membership policy. Night Girl’s relegated to the subs…
…despite her Kryptonian-level strength, and the simple solution of teaming her with the darkness-projecting Shadow Lass– a solution which is canon, by the way…
…but Matter-Eater Lad is in? Seriously?
“So who did HE sleep with?” led to one of the most obscene discussions of superpowered sex I’ve ever heard. I will not attempt to reproduce it here so don’t ask.
For that matter, how fucked-up is the Legion’s initiation-test process?
Just mildly weird or seriously weird?
We never resolved that one either.
We were mostly comics folks, of course, but the discussions ranged all over the nerd landscape. One we went back and forth on is why are the officers of the Starship Enterprise, representing a Federation where technology has made Earth a utopia, so hell-bent against anyone else having life-improving computer tech?
Over and over, Kirk and Spock and the rest of the crew destroyed computers that served entire planetary populations, then just shrugged and left. The natives would figure it out.
Prime Directive? Fuck that noise. When it’s a planetary government run by supercomputer, you kill it with fire.
The fact of the matter is that on the original series, the Prime Directive of non-interference only gets brought up right before it’s about to be broken. But that’s far from the only thing we could never arrive at a satisfactory solution to. Another one is why, in this perfect future free of primitive prejudices, is Dr. McCoy allowed to be such a bigoted asshole? Especially to Vulcans?
This was actually addressed once, in the episode “All Our Yesterdays.”
… but only on a personal level. It’s not against Starfleet policy. Moreover, the fact that Spock finally unloads on McCoy for being a dick to him all the time about his racial characteristics is presented as indicating it’s a problem with Spock. “I work at a corporation right here in the screwed-up 20th century and I have to go to a bunch of goddam sensitivity trainings. Where’s the HR writeup on fucking McCoy?”
This led to a lot of entertaining speculation on what dragging McCoy to a mandated sensitivity training would look like, but we never did actually figure it out.
I could go on. But the real question is why we never can figure out how to gather the old gang in one place these days. That’s the one I want an answer to.
Back next week with something cool.
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