FW Presents – Acts of Vengeance: What The–?! #6

The Irredeemable Shag and guest Noah Tarnow dive into the Marvel mag of mirth and mayhem -- WHAT THE--?! We discuss issue #6 of the series from 1989 which includes parody stories such as: SMACKS OF VENGEANCE, ORIGIN OF THE PULVERIZER, SORE WANTS A HAIRCUT, and ADVENTURE INTO FEAR featuring the Man-Thang and Swamp Thang! Hilarity ensues!

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25 responses to “FW Presents – Acts of Vengeance: What The–?! #6

  1. I can solve the “Pajama Game” reference.

    The next line after “Only five years from today…” is “… I can see it, like a VISION.”

    (I worked stage crew on my high school production of PJ. That music is permanently etched into my brain).

    1. Any school plays at the Kubert School, Thom? I can just imagine the reviews: “The acting was workmanlike at best, but the stage sets were the best I’ve ever seen in a college production!

  2. see 1989 was’nt 1969 “Dc is Darker than Marvel only really works as a joke. X-Men WAS freakin dark! GRanting it works a Hell of a lot better than the JLA/AVENgers “Marvel is Darker (at a time when luthor was presedent and they were blowing up countries left and right.

  3. This was tons of fun! Both of you gentlemen were a treat to listen to as you clearly were enjoying the humour of the book. This comic was the best thing to come out of the Acts of Vengeance crossover event. I’m sorry but I wasn’t a big fan of that comic crossover. But I am a big fan of What The..?! so this show was right up my alley! What The..?! hit at the right time for me as I was getting into a lot of humour comics and the infantile humour mixed with obscure pop culture references pretty much shaped me and my taste for humour to this day.

    There isn’t too much to say about the jokes that you guys didn’t cover expertly already but the one thing I would like to point out is the skull eyes on the Pulverizer’s costume change every panel and it makes me laugh every single time. It’s such a stupid gag but I love it. I agree the art for that story is great and Hilary Barta’s art was the highlight of What The..?! for me.

    Any chance of getting a What The..?! anthology show?????

    Well done, gentlemen on an excellent episode! Keep up the great work!

  4. I enjoyed hearing your perspective on Acts of Vengeance and the (East Coast) Avengers part in the crossover! This crossover hit when I was in middle school so I was probably the prime audience for it. It really felt like a big deal, like a summer blockbuster movie. It’s easy to look back now and see a lot of the flaws, but overall it was fun. Just seeing the six “Prime Movers” in a room working (or not working) together was a treat. Like you guys, I love that nobody, no matter how evil they are, wants to work with the Red Skull.

    Wanted to point something out…even as a 7th grader (or however old I was when I read it) I was crying foul over the Avengers saying they were unfamiliar with Freedom Force and hadn’t fought them before. Not true! A mere three years earlier, in Avengers Annual #15 (Fingeroth and Englehart writing, Ditko and Jason drawing) the combined East and West Coast Avengers fought the entire Freedom Force team (which included not only Blob, Pyro, and Avalanche, but also Mystique, Destiny, Spider-Woman II, and Spiral)…and were defeated by Freedom Force! Not only that, but both Wasp and Hank Pym were there! And the Avengers were already familiar with these guys because…

    …the Avengers fought them even earlier, when they were the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, in Avengers Annual #10, in 1981. It seems like what happened is someone really wanted the Avengers to fight Blob, Pyro, and Avalanche, and ignored Avengers history to make it fit into the Acts of Vengeance narrative of heroes fighting villains they’d never faced before. To make it worse, the three mutants weren’t put up to it by the Prime Movers! They just randomly decided to pick a fight with the Avengers for…reasons. It’s never explained, as far as I remember. I think in the entire Marvel Universe, they could’ve found some bad guys who fit the bill, guys who’d never fought the Avengers before but were a worthy challenge nonetheless.

    To be fair, I don’t own the issues in question anymore, so maybe that history is acknowledged in there somewhere, but it doesn’t seem like it.

    Just my two cents. I look forward to listening to the other parts of this podcast crossover! Cosmic Spider-Man! Whoo-hoo!

  5. I loved What The–?! when it came out, and this brought back a lot of fun memories.

    Explaining some of the deep cuts in the Man-Thang/Swamp-Thang story: The periscope with the “Hollywood! Hollywood!” word balloon is a reference to Steven Spielberg’s movie “1941,” of all things! In the beginning of that movie, a woman goes skinny-dipping in the ocean, when a Japanese submarine surfaces underneath her. She holds onto the periscope while the German and Japanese officers in charge (Christopher Lee and Toshiro Mifune, respectively) discuss their plans to attack Hollywood, without noticing the naked woman above their heads. As the sub prepares to descend, one of the sub’s crew suddenly notices her and excitedly shouts “Hollywood! Hollywood!” To further send us down the deep-cut rabbit hole, the scene in “1941” is itself a parody of Spielberg’s earlier film “Jaws”! The opening shots of the woman stripping off and swimming are practically a frame-by-frame remake of the opening scene of “Jaws,” and he even got the actress/stuntwoman who played the unfortunate swimmer (Susan Backlinie) to recreate her role.

    And to make things even stranger, at the time of the movie’s release, there was a graphic novel adaptation of “1941,” with art by future Swamp Thing artists Steve Bissette & Rick Veitch, very early in their careers. (They may have still been students at the Kubert School at the time.) That connection may be the reason for the periscope gag being included in the What The–?! story.

    You mentioned another background sight gag in the Man-Thang story, of the signpost pointing to “How’s Bayou.” While this works on its own as a dad-joke pun, as you mentioned, it may also be a reference to a 1950s EC Comics horror story that was illustrated by Graham Ingels (also known by the pen-name “Ghastly”), whose grotesquely detailed, feathery-inked style was a strong influence on the original Swamp Thing artist Bernie Wrightson. In this EC story, two brothers lived in a derelict mansion or hotel in the swamp; one brother would lure unsuspecting travelers into the place so that his mentally-ill brother could kill them; by the end of the story, the victims rose from the dead and emerged from the swamp to take revenge…not on the actual killer, but on the sane but evil brother who had led them to their deaths. The punning title of the story was “Horror We? How’s Bayou?”

    One more background gag explained: In the gallery, I noticed a word balloon in the “Smacks of Vengeance” story from an off-panel character asking “Osiris! What has happened to your nose?” This is a reference to the comedy group The Firesign Theater and their album “How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All.” In this album, there’s a part where a character is flipping through TV channels and tunes in the middle of some kind of Biblical/historic epic with this dialogue:

    “My friend!”
    “What has happened to your nose?”
    “I’ve just returned from Rome.”

    Then the TV gets switched off before we can hear anymore dialogue that might have explained that exchange.

  6. Impressive Podcast Most impressive. This seems like a funny comic. What the….? Was a fun comic I missed this issue. Still seems like it was fun.

  7. Fun show! I loved What..?!, and bought all the early issues. The cheesecake (and beefcake) levels in Mad and particularly Cracked (remember Nanny Dickering?) were pretty high at the time, so Byrne’s drawings and Doug Rice’s Abby fit right in.

    Of course my favorite gag in this issue is on page 8, where we see a very well-rendered Adam West as Batman, asking “Cesar” what happened to his mustache. And then a ridiculously rendered Michael Keaton, tiny inside his massive Batman cowl, covered in guns because this Batman kills! HIlarious.


  8. Very very fun show.

    Now, I feel like I’ve told this story before, but it’s not like a Kubert School anecdote or anything… My dad was a comics fan as a kid and DID order the Charles Atlas method and DID use it. He went from a thin rail like me to a much better proportioned man for the rest of his life after that.

    So there’s something to it!

  9. What a great show, with a fantastic guest to complement the marvellous host. I’ve heard of this series, but assumed it would be awful. And yet this John Byrne story was fab.

    Wasn’t ‘post no bills’ an old Mad joke?

    As regards Byrne’s stepson, how is ‘Kieron’ difficult to pronounce?

    I love the mighty Sore talking like Olaf from Blackhawk?

    Can anyone explain the ‘Mlarry’ hammer gag?

    The head of Sinestronie (why not Sinestrone?) is hilarious

    It’s funny, the first time we see Mockingbird Byrne doesn’t seem to have exaggerated her at all

    I wonder if this is where Neil Gaiman got the idea for Low-Key in American Gods.

    ‘Osiris, what has happened to your nose?’ really bamboozled me.

    The Jokester did have a good point about Grant Morrison and lipstick!

      1. Another questions for you then!

        Why make up the Pulveriser? Marvel already had the Spanker.

        I’m in awe of Noah’s restraint. I have too much ego to make up a letter column name

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