Words by Locke Van Kemp
Art by Rip Branagan
It’s Friday, I’m still a little drunk, and famed artist and incorrigible roustabout, Rip Branagan, is scanning the shelves of our local comic book store, adding to the already considerable collection of books he currently carries in his arms. I’m standing by myself, waiting (I wait because I picked up my pullbox books on Wednesday like any normal human being), and I’m thumbing through an old issue of one of my favorite comic series, Preacher. I chuckle under my breath at the panel of the unfortunate, but appropriately named character, Arseface. The owner of the shop, Rik Kirby, hears the guffaw and somehow feels it’s an invitation to fuck with me.
“Yeah, that old Preacher stuff is pretty nuts. But I mean, Ennis, he knew what he was writing, right?”
I do not reply. I keep my head down hoping he will stop talking to me.
He does not stop talking to me.
“The ones I love? The really good ones? Those are the names that they had no idea how — ya know — how filthy they were.”
I cannot help but be interested. I bite, “Such as?”
And then, while my good buddy Branagan leaves me hostage to this horrible and twisted piece of a man, Rik Kirby begins to reel off:
The Top Five Most Unintentionally Sexual Names in Comic Books
5. The Shocker
The Shocker is an electrical power-based B-list Spiderman villain with little or no use to comic books as there is already a much more aptly named fellow called Electro that is — you guessed it — an electrical power-based Spiderman super villain. The thing that makes Herman “The Shocker” Schultz noteworthy is the unfortunate sexual hand gesture that his moniker shares. The particular maneuver even has its own jingle and, while we all know it, I certainly don’t mind repeating the age-old adage.
“Two in the pink, one in the stink.”
As I’m sure you’ve gathered, to the recipient of the Shocker, it’s the “in the stink” insertion that is the shocking part.
Now, at the time when Shocker took his nom de plume (1967 ASM #46) I’m not sure that the term even had multiple “innuendos,” but, man, it does now. So Herman, do us all a favor and switch it up, or sneak three digits in Peter’s parker and start living up to your filthy codename.
4. Giant-Sized Man-Thing
This was the actual title of the comic book. Even in 1974 I can’t imagine the writers having no concept of the imagery that was being conjured up by this title. The name Man Thing alone sounds suspect. I have no doubts that inspiration was smoked, lights were dimmed and brainstorming began somewhat like this:
“He’s a male creature?”
“No…I think it should be a thing...”
“But also a man?”
“You just blew my mind off, brother.”
So when they put out the oversized magazine version of this comic book, it made perfect sense to print up a cover title that would be displayed in grocery store spinner racks everywhere proclaiming that this Man-Thing is HUGE. I also suppose it was a bit of a disappointment to the more literal minded folks who picked up the issue hoping for panel after panel featuring a large swampy cock.
Sometimes a character’s name just does not age well. Sometimes it’s not the writer’s fault if the thing that is now funny didn’t even exist back then. But come on, man. I know that in 1984 when this Francis Vibereaux dude was created, there was certainly such a thing as a vibrator. And you, as a comic book creator, you have to imagine that kids are going to see the name “Vibro” and start laughing.
“My mom would love to fight this guy.”
Vibro’s super weak origin has him falling into a seismic fault opened by an artificial quake that he himself created with his cyber-shakin’-vibro-machine (or some such fucksense.) What should have killed him instead turned him into in a wooble-walkin’, shit-talking, vibrating-dildo-villain that Iron Man repeatedly beats the dick off of. The last time the good heroes of Marvel Comics put him in jail, he had a fatal run-in with Wolverine (who hates marital aids) and our favorite Canadian X-man popped dem claws and snikted Vibro’s chest to death. R.I.P. Vibro.
Lonely housewives everywhere wept at the loss.
2. The Growing Man
“I want to hit that so hard,” is the actual sentiment that escapes Hercules’ mouth during the first fight between the Avengers and the Growing Man.
He wants to hit that.
Hit that Growing Man.
Hit it so hard.
Growing Man is an android built by aliens on behalf of one of WoodRocket’s favorite villains, Kang the Conqueror. Growing Man does super-weird shit like pretend to be a toy doll or kidnap Tony Stark from his hospital bed. Even Kang is like, “WTF, G.M.? This shit is counterproductive.”
The android is dead-set on fighting a menagerie of different Avengers including Thor, Iron Man, anyone really, and it’s particularly cringe-inducing to see the heroes exclaim that they can’t believe how HUGE Growing Man gets. At least they get to hit it so hard.
Growing Man actually has a pretty sweet look (Jack the King design) so it’s a damn shame that his moniker is both uninspired and also sounds like the name of a shitty indie band.
I mean, I love this name. He’s a bisexual animal! This character is leading the way with a new breed of hero that represents all walks of life and doesn’t simply cater to the hetero male demographic — Nah, just putting the shit on you. He’s a double-faced android with one head jammed on top of the other and a violent fixation on all things avian.
Bi-Beast is created in a hidden city by a group of bird-like Inhumans who, by their own admission, built him just for the fuck of it, and then up-and-disappeared. Bi-Beast is left alone, and while wandering along by himself one day he accidentally stumbles upon Bruce Banner and the Harpy hangin’ out. The Harpy reminds Bi-Beast of his asshole creators and, much to Banner’s chagrin, bird-napping ensues. Before I go further let me give you the skinny on this superfreak’s design. Bi-Beast literally has one head smashed down on the other, totem pole style, and one head knows warfare while the other head knows culture. But neither knows science. I make a point of this because they, the writers, make a point of this over and over and, as is their usual modus operandi, no explanation is ever to be given. Anyway, long shitty, shitty story short, Banner turns into Hulk, Hulk stomps a bloody mudhole in Bi-Beast and that’s that.
Meanwhile, good folks who picked up the book hoping to see a creature indulge itself in the best of both worlds threw the book in the trash and turned their efforts to creating fan-fiction where the titular monster captures Bradley Cooper and Rihanna and teaches them why he’s called both bi and beast.
Rip Brangan has finally finished his exhaustive inspection of every single damn book on the shelves, and it’s just in time. I have had more than enough comic book information shoved down my brain-hole, and I’m betting you fine readers have as well. See you next time after I finish reading The Man Brute Called WoodGod. That’s real. I swear to you that it is real.
I’m Locke Van Kemp, and I miss you already.
“Locke” is the writer of several nationally syndicated & critically acclaimed comic books, countless published short stories and the occasional questionable low budget movie. We at Woodrocket don't condone Locke's insanity, but we sure as hell enjoy reading it.