While we at the Panels take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last few months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, January 5th.
This post originally ran October 2, 2014.
Saturday… March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois.
Five students are forced to spend their Saturday in detention — confined together in the school library at the hands of Principal Vernon. They are five students who see themselves as others do — in the simplest terms and most convenient definitions. They are seen as a BRAIN, an ATHLETE, a BASKET CASE, a PRINCESS, and a CRIMINAL.
But they were brainwashed. They would come to learn that they had so much more in common.
Like, for instance, a love of comic books.
They will call themselves:
ANDREW CLARK – We already know that Andy likes to rock the
tights regulation wrestling uniform. But what we come to learn about Andy is that he’s driven like a race horse by his coach and his father. He doesn’t feel like he has much say in his destiny. Naturally, Andy finds solace in DC Comics’ The New Teen Titans, as written in 1984 by Marv Wolfman and depicted in athletic glory by George Perez. Who better than to understand the concept of breaking free of your mentor and finding your own path than Dick Grayson, aka Robin — the dark knight sidekick. In the 80s, Dick dons some long pants (well, leggings) and takes up a new name — Nightwing. Can Andy follow the Boy Wonder’s cue, or will he just keep acting out, taping together the buns of the Larry Lesters of the world…?
Are you an Andrew? Try: The New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1
CLAIRE STANDISH – “You’re so conceited, Claire!” Brian’s accusation rings in her ears — after she admits to KNOWING the state of affairs between different high school cliques, while being unable to change them. Oh, Princess… heavy is the head that wears the tiara. Now, Claire would never admit this to her friends at the mall, but Brian might just soften up if he knew that Claire’s guilty pleasure was DC Comics’ Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld. Young Amy Winston is transformed into an adult as she is zapped into the sorcerous fantasy world of Gemworld — with its enchanted landscapes and devious villains. Claire can relate — she might be a part of the ruling class in high school, but sometimes she feels like a little girl trapped in a high school body. No one ever said ruling high school would be easy.
Are you a Claire? Try: Showcase Presents: Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, Vol. 1
JOHN BENDER – Guys like John Bender might “knock everything,” as Claire declares, but that’s only because the world doesn’t understand him. Clearly, his tastes run to the underground, but books like Dave Sim’s Cerebus stopped being so fun when it got away from an Aardvark barbarian warrior and started getting all artsy. Luckily, it’s 1984, and Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has hit the indie comics scene — a sharp parody of Frank Miller’s noir-tinted Daredevil and Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-men. Badass black and white with tones as gray as Bender’s view of Shermer High, the original incarnation of these sewer-dwelling outcasts suit our criminal’s tastes well; after all he’s a guy who is used to being judged by his appearance and socio-economic status, and who lashes out by bitterly casting his own judgment. Still, when the chips are down, it’s Bender who will sacrifice his future Saturdays to protect these other students, a move worthy of Master Splinter himself.
Are you a John? Try: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
ALLISON REYNOLDS – The basket case. Allison doesn’t even need to be in detention — she just had nothing better to do that Saturday. Her whole lifestyle is a mash-up of lies and half-truths, of pixie stick-and-Cap’n Crunch sandwiches, and yet at her core, she’s one of the most original and unique thinkers of the bunch. Her comic of choice would HAVE to be Love and Rockets, published in 1984 by Fantagraphics with dual stories by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. Allison’s got the be a big fan of Jaime’s Maggie the Mechanic, with its mashup of punk, sci-fi and wrestling — a mix as enigmatic as our basket case.
Are you an Allison? Try: Maggie the Mechanic: A Love and Rockets Book
BRIAN JOHNSON – Look, we all know that Brian reads comics. He talks about them regularly with his friends in the math club. He’s fully aware of the waves Alan Moore has begun to make on Swamp Thing. For Brian, it’s not that he reads comics, it’s a matter of WHICH comics resonate with Brian as he writes the final letter to Principal Vernon. Five students who are forced together unnaturally in a remote, and desolate location — forced to interact under the senseless oppression of an omnipotent deity? Brian’s clearly got 1984’s Secret Wars from Marvel Comics on his over-active brain. The Avengers, The Hulk, the X-men, Spider-man… all trapped on a planet by an enigmatic force called the Beyonder, forced into a battle royale with the villains of the Marvel universe. This was Marvel’s first big “event” book, and as forced as it was, Brian can’t deny the connection between the fishbowl of the Shermer High library and the Beyonder’s “Battleworld.”
Are you a Brian? Try: Secret Wars
BONUS ROUND: PRINCIPAL RICHARD VERNON – Kids these days, am I right? Dick Vernon does not know why these kids act out the way they do, but after the day he’s had, he’s looking for a little escape. He stops at a 7-11 for a Big Gulp and flips through the spinner rack to discover DC Comics’ INFINITY INC. #1, a story about the children of the golden age heroes of the DC universe — good and proper heroes — and these children seem to have a good deal of respect for their elders. At least someone gets it, thinks Vernon, dropping a buck on the counter. Time to put a little Manilow on the stereo and read some funny books.
Well, try not to be a Dick. But you can still try: Infinity Inc.: The Generations Saga Vol. 1 — for a good yarn. We’ll allow it.