Tag Archives: evan dorkin

He’s a Hit! (The Short History of Fight Man)

Greetings and salutations, fellow Unspokenites! Symbifan here and, boy oh boy, do I have a treat for ya this time! I’m gonna report about someone that (To my imited knowledge.) hasn’t been covered in an article before! Who could I possibly be talking about? What hidden gem have I uncovered? (Um. Look at the pic above. Duh!) It’s about the man everyone loves to hate…..Fight Man! So fasten your seatbelts, kiddies, it’s gonna be bumpy ride!

We begin with a scene not unheard of in a big city, a mugging. The superpowered goons demand the woman’s purse. Panicked, she screams for police assistance. Her cries go unanswered. She remarks how she detests her obvious next course of action. She yells for Fight Man! Immediately the muscle-bound, caped man crashes into the villains from above! Immediately jumping into action, the hero punches one of the criminals. He sails through the air, presumably into orbit! The other, he hits so hard that the man’s artificial eyes fly from the sockets! As he attacks the last one, he hands a camera to the shocked female victim. He asks that she take pictures of the downed villains for his ever-growing scrapbook! He also remarks how he should really collect those false eyes for their value! (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sensing that the writer is trying hard to paint a picture of just how much of a jerk Fight Man is….nah! I’m clearly just jumping to conclusions here.)

Finishing up his battle, the police arrive in their typically late manner. Fight Man and the lead officer have bitter words. He then turns to the woman and, instead of checking to her welfare, he asks her out! (Okay. Painting’s crystal clear. He’s a jerk.) She offers a handshake instead. Clearly disappointed, he complies. Suddenly, the now eyeless would-be mugger springs back to consciousness! He roars that “they” will see him dead and how his days are numbered! While the superhero has been listening, he’s accidentally broken the lady’s hand. He ignores this threat and shoots off into the air. The police yell that they need the man’s fake eyes for evidence. Fight Man nonchalantly replies that he doesn’t know what they mean in the slightest. As he flies off, an officer wonders out loud if he should open fire. Another replies how it would accomplish very little as Fight Man is bulletproof. (I doubt a superhero, even a foolish one, would steal evidence from the scene of a crime! Silly police!)

As he soars overhead, he accidentally drops the artificial eye. It crashes through the window of a passing cab, shattering the windshield! (Okay. I may have been mistaken once again. Man! It’s hard to be impartial about this guy! He makes Kanye West look like a saint!) Fight Man curses to himself as the cabbie threatens legal action. He flies on, towards his home. He descends at his parents’ house and checks the mail. He then heads towards the front door but is met with insults from the neighborhood children. Instead of acting like an adult in this situation, he shouts back threats before slamming the door. He passes his parents with a quick greeting. They remain silent, transfixed by the television. The hero then enters his room and tears open a legal summons! He’s being sued by his ex-wife for back alimony!

(You know, I’ve never believed in suicide, but in Fight Man’s case…..) As he lies back upon his bed, he reminisces on his miserable life: the lawsuits filed, his messy divorce, and the deaths of his many, many sidekicks. Oh well, best to not dwell on the past. Later, he enters a local toy company’s corporate office. The man in charge hardly looks pleased as he bursts in. Fight Man excitedly shows him a design he’s sketched for an action figure based on himself. To say the man is unimpressed is an understatement. Not to be dismissed so easily, Fight Man reveals his supervillain scrapbook, stating that his foes could also be part of the line. Before much more can be said on the matter, three villains break through the wall! (Looks like everyone’s gunning for Fight Man! Can’t say I blame them. I’m starting to want to strangle him myself!)

Irritated at this interruption, Fight Man prepares for battle! The green, slimey one forms a large fist from his gelatinous form and strikes the hero in the face, knocking him through the skyscraper window! He plummets all of the way down to the street below! Enraged, Fight Man rips a girder loose from a nearby construction site. He winds up as if he were playing baseball but instead falls victim to the girder himself as a robotic villain smashes it into the hero’s face! It then follows up by firing several small missiles at Fight Man’s chest! This does little more than annoy the powerful superhero! He retaliates by swinging the girder and knocking the creature’s metallic head far from its body! Before the mighty one can return his attention back to the other criminals, he finds himself suddenly surrounded by the mucousy body of the slime creature! Fight Man’s powerful fists mean very little to this monstrosity! So, having to think outside the box, he throws a barrel of heated plastic at the beast! (I can see why a toy company would have need for heated plastic, but in the corporate building? Are they making the toys there? I’m sorry, but this comic book fight just lost all realism for me now.) The creature mixes with the plastic against its will until it disappates! Shocked, the last criminal barely has time to fire off a energy blast before he’s knocked unconscious by a powerful fist!

Needless to say, the meeting doesn’t end well for our hero. He leaves the toy company with a definite no. As he leaves the building, he’s suddenly surrounded by the press. The question on all of their minds? Who’s out to kill him? The press is brutal. They bring up everything from his early triumphs, like the defeat of the mysterious crime boss, the Hooded Eye, to tragedies such as the murder of his first sidekick, Kid Fight Man! They also report that the mayor has called for a meeting tomorrow with the superhero. (Hmmm. I should really insert a joke here. Something witty. But all I can think about is leaving my work here to go to the gas station for a Mountain Dew…..I might just have to edit this part out later. I’m sure I’ll remember. )

The following day finds Fight Man in the mayor’s office. He speaks of his fears for this sudden emergence of so many superpowered criminals. But when the hero discovers that he isn’t to receive some type of citation, he turns to leave. The mayor is outraged by the outright rudeness of this and yells how he cares nothing for the life of the superhero. He doesn’t want a super-brawl destroying his fair city! Fight Man responds in the most intelligent way he can think of…..he puts his fingers in his ears and exclaims how he can’t be a the city official! He the flies out of the window in retreat. (Geez! Talk abou being juvenile! I would have at least stuck out my tongue and farted before I took my leave. Yeah! Suck on that!)

The next stop on Fight Man’s agenda, his ex-wife’s lawyer’s office. We look in on our hero as he “bravely” begs on his knees to not be sued by the ex love of his life and her maniacal lawyer! His pleas however go unheard as the woman, Beverly, demands money from the bankrupt superhero! She tires of trying and failing to receive any sort of monetary compensation for her time spent with Fight Man. But before the hero can verbally defend himself, a gigantic, reptilian claw reaches through the office wall, snatching the frightened woman up and pulling her outside to the city street! Looking out the hole the creature has created, Fight Man spies a man within a red, armored suit and a large, dinosaur-like monster, and they’re demanding the hero’s immediate surrender! Give up now or they’ll kill the woman! To this, the superhero replies for them to please do so. Shocked, the armored villain replies that he means what he has said. Fight Man retorts that he can go ahead. In fact, he has his camera ready to take pictures! (Okay. I know I’ve been admittedly hard on Fight Man throughout this article. But, having an ex-wife myself, I completely understand this genius battle tactic. ) Admitting defeat, the hostage is set free and the two strange criminals prepare for a physical confrontation!

And boy, they sure aren’t disappointed! Fight Man wastes little time. He punches through the mouth of the “dinosaur” knocking the man operating the robotic creature through the back of the faux-prehistoric skull! The armored villain takes this time to unleash a barrage of bullets and missiles at the hero’s back! Fight Man simply uppercuts the criminal through and out of his armor! He leaves the scene after heated words with Beverly. The lawyer waits until the superhero is out of earshot before he asks, why were they even together in the first place? She replies that she simply felt sorry for him. (Awww. Now I feel sorry for the hero. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster during this article! Damn, I’m good!)

He returns home only to have to dispatch of two more supervillains before it hits him, maybe somebody truly wants him dead this time! Before he can ponder further upon this revelation, he gets a phone call. Answering, he finds he’s been invited to give his side of this situation on a popular talk show! Jumping at the chance, he arrives right on time. The female host instead talks about all of Fight Man’s many failings! She brutally hits him with every bad decision he’s ever made! He roars in outrage how does this has anything to do with his present situation! That’s when a sinister, hooded face enters all television screens! The Hooded Eye lives! The Eye proclaims that this has everything to do with Fight Man’s current plight! Everyone despises him! Everyone wants him dead! And to prove it, he offers a ten million dollar reward for the death of the superhero! (Okay. I’m back from the bathroom. What’d I miss?)

The next day, the news of the Hooded Eye’s offer seems to be everywhere. Fight Man tries to brush this off as he does everything but after awhile, even he has to admit that he’s getting nervous. He attempts to put this all out of his mind and go about his day as usual. But, as he’s brushing his teeth, he looks at his reflection and sees hordes of superpowered villains, poised to strike! (How did they all get into his small bathroom unnoticed? It’s a comic book! Sheesh! You believe Superman’s secret identity is secure behind a pair of dorky glasses!) And strike they do! The fight seems to be unending! It’s hard to tell just how many supervillains rise only to fall, defeated! Finally, within the ruins of his parents’ home, only Fight Man stil stands! He is victorious! Or is he? A second wave of powerful criminals attack, but this time they’ve added ordinary citizens into the mix! The hero fights and fights until, after an entire skyscraper is dropped on him, he falls at last!

Fight Man awakens some time later, held prisoner in a sort of high-tech iron maiden! (Aaah! Iron Maiden! Now that’s a band! Not like the so called “bands” today! Remember when MTV actually played music videos? What’s that? How old am I? Moving on…..) Before him, surrounded by yet more dangerous villains, stands the Hooded Eye himself! While the superhero remains held in place, the Eye reveals who he truly is! After all, didn’t the Hooded Eye perish not ten years ago? The Eye pulls off his hooded disguise, revealing a hideously deformed and scarred man underneath! The hero doesn’t recognize the monster standing before him. The Hooded Eye explains that he is none other than Kid Fight Man!

When he was young, he thought becoming Fight Man’s sidekick was the best thing to ever happen to him. That was before the constant beatings. Not just by adult criminals, but by powerful supervillains. He began resenting his superpowered mentor. And then one fateful night, ten years ago, the original Hooded Eye blasted a hole in the city’s dam. The force of the rushing water had swept Kid Fight Man and the hooded villain out to sea! Using what strength he had left in his small body, the sidekick removed the deceased Eye’s clothing. He then spent ten long years, as the new Hooded Eye, building a criminal empire until he was powerful enough to strike! And who helped him accomplish all of this? Beverly! Fight Man’s ex-wife stands revealed! (A once-thought-dead sidekick revealed to be a new supervillain? This has never happened in the history of comics! Cough…..Red Hood…..cough…..Winter Soldier…..cough. Damn cold.)

Enraged, Fight Man uses all of his uncanny strength and bursts free of the mechanical contraption! The Hooded Eye calls for his minions to attack but nothing can stop a mad hero with super-strength! He makes short work of them! The superhero quickly advances on his former partner. He then does what Fight Man does best, he knocks him out with a single punch! After, the hero marches from the criminal stronghold, triumphant. He’s then quickly arrested by the local police! His crime? The reckless endangerment of a minor! When asked by the amassed press what he plans to do about these allegations, he replies with a smile that he’ll do what he always does, fight!


This article is dedicated to my brother, Eric James Miller. You see, when I was young, it took several doctors to figure out the mental conditions that I’m afflicted with. To do this I had to be constantly monitored. So I was locked up in a local mental institution. Being only twelve years old, I was terrified. But one thing kept me from losing it, the visits from my brother. He’d bring in highly-detailed artwork he’d drawn for me to hang up in my room and a pile of the weekly comic book titles I collected. This kindness on his part was never forgotten. I love you, bro. Always.

Non-non-non-non-NON-heinous: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book by Emily Scott

Greetings, most excellent Legions of the Unspoken! I’m Emily Scott, and I am here to tell you all about a totally outstanding 1991 publication from Marvel, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book! *air guitar* This triumphant comic may have had bogus sales and only lasted 12 issues, but its short run is in no way indicative of how non-heinous this interpretation is of two beloved characters. Anyone who enjoys either movie would totally love these books, so prepare to be fully informed, and…PARTY ON, DUDES!

…Ok, I think I’ve got the bulk of the Bill and Ted speak out of my system, at least for the purposes of this article. I don’t really remember a time when my own vocabulary didn’t include some Bill and Ted-isms, and to this day I refer to things as being non-non-non heinous more often than any reasonable person should. Reading a dozen issues of their vernacular, though, has left me even more susceptible than usual to adding ‘most’ before every adjective and exclaiming, ‘Whoa!’ with hushed awe.

Bill and Ted Loquacious
How is it possible that these two panels squeeze in so much Bill and Ted slang that they sound translated straight from an English-to-Bill and Ted dictionary and yet sound so natural?

With a new comic book release, chatter about a third movie louder than ever, and the fact that it’s one sequel after a long hiatus that everyone actually seems fine with, there’s no better time to ponder why we’re so eager to be excellent to two dudes we first met over a quarter of a century ago. Their language is a major factor in what still endears us to Bill and Ted and a prime example of the movies’ greatest strengths, taking something that could be pedestrian like late 80’s/early 90’s surfer/stoner/Valley bro talk and making it most atypical. (Sorry that I can’t stop with the Bill and Ted speak…NOT!) You know exactly who these characters are immediately upon hearing them, but they don’t sound quite like anyone else you’ve ever heard.

As the above two panels from the first issue ably demonstrate, writer/artist Evan Dorkin nails Bill and Ted’s verbal eccentricities, a feat made all the more impressive when you learn that he had not seen either movie when he started writing this title. Dorkin, a five-time Eisner Award winner best known for his works Milk and Cheese and Dork, gets just about everything else right too, from the lighthearted tone of the humor to the happy-go-luckiness of the titular characters. One of the comic’s greatest strengths is that if you know Bill and Ted, you know exactly what you’ll be getting. This comic feels the most like the source material just drifted into another medium than almost any other adaptation I’ve ever seen.

Am I the only one who wants to hear the rest of Death's joke?
Am I the only one who wants to hear the rest of Death’s joke?

Not only does the comic sound just right, but it looks spot on too, with art that is colorful, fun, and busy. Dorkin gets a lot of comedic mileage out of great expressions, and he can make an already zany universe that much zanier by drawing faces so exaggerated not even Keanu Reeves could actually make them. The art is also better than it has any right to be for an adaptation of a comedy about two dudes who travel through time in a phone booth, with an eye for movement and action that flows seamlessly and images that are surreal and vivid, evocative and at times bordering on nightmarish. (In case you were wondering, yes, it does feel incredibly strange to attempt a serious critique of the art in a Bill and Ted comic. It’s so damn good,though, that it deserves to be taken seriously.)

Bill and Ted Surreal
As a chronic procrastinator and habitually late person, this is what every clock looks like to me.

One of my favorite aspects of the entire run is just how much stuff Dorkin manages to squeeze into every panel. From the band shirts and buttons on background characters to random appearances from people like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I found myself staring at pages for a long time to catch every little detail. Dorkin makes the most of every centimeter of page space, capitalizing on every opportunity to squeeze in another joke or bit of whimsy, from guest letter columns from characters like Station and DeNomolos to something simple like a sword piercing a word balloon:

B&T Piercedto a running gag in which the smiley face on the back of Ted’s jacket changes expressions to match the situation:

Bill and Ted Face 4 Bill and Ted Face 1 Bill and Ted Face 2

I call this one Charlie Brown  Mouth.
I call this one Charlie Brown Mouth.

Just as their speech takes slang we’ve heard coming from a million different mouths and strings it together in most memorable ways,  Bill and Ted take pretty well worn character templates, two doofy but lovable dudes, and give them a contagious enthusiasm and hearts so big they cause a moon boot-filled future utopia I sometimes daydream I live in.  A lot of similar characters are like cats who always land on their feet because they’re too dumb to know the ground is there. Bill and Ted are the cats who always land on their feet because it wouldn’t even occur to them that the ground would do that to them.

Bill and Ted may be the sort of guys who would never pass a history exam without George Carlin and a magic box, but as Ted reminds us in the clip above, they are well aware of their intellectual shortcomings and more than make up for it with that relentless optimism, allowing them not to be intimated by anyone regardless of their smarts, power, or prowess. These are two dudes who can hang with God, give Satan hell, and even melvin Death. When someone can face that lineup and not be cowed, they can be placed in just about any setting against any foe and believably come out victorious, and Dorkin takes advantage of that versatility by telling stories everywhere from the past to the future to the nexus of time to the Dimension of Utter Boredom. (You can guess how much they love Wyld Stallyns in that last one.)

To be fair, the effects in 2001 are really good.
To be fair, the effects in 2001 are really good.

The Bill and Ted universe has a pretty deep bench, which is unsurprising, considering it could potentially include anyone from any time, and everyone’s favorite characters make an appearance in the comics, from Missy (I mean Mom…) to So-crates to my personal favorite, the Duke of Spook, the Doc of Shock, the Man with No Tan, Death himself. I’ve always had a soft spot for Death as a character, from Death of the Endless to the Grim Reaper in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (if you don’t laugh during this scene, I’m sorry that you were born with no sense of humor), but none approach my fondness for the version of Death with no luck at board games. His portrayal by William Sadler in Bogus Journey makes the movie ten times greater, and even though Death is his skeleton self here, his presence accounts for a surprising amount of the humanity and pathos in the comic, as well as some of its wackier plots.

While there are a few ongoing stories, including a seeming inevitability where Bill and Ted stand trial for their interference with time, most of the issues stand alone, and two of the best revolve around Death, one in which he quits and the other where he is replaced. In Death Takes a Most Heinous Holiday, instead of searching for the true value of life or exploring what it means to be mortal or any of that other sentimental nonsense, Death treks through time to places like Pompeii and the crash site of the Hindenburg to revel in the mortality of others. Depending on your perspective, he is either the best or worst tourist of all time.

Bill and Ted Tourist

199201 Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book V1 #2 - Page 2
If anyone was curious, the molasses thing was a real disaster. (Here at The Unspoken Decade, we entertain AND educate.)

Bill and Ted convince Death to return to work, but in It’s a Living, he has become too concerned with worldly matters and is replaced by a foul mouthed, bad tempered pipsqueak of a reaper named Morty. Odd as it feels to say, this issue demonstrates that Death, constant and immutable, is actually the character who changes the most over the course of the comics. He tries occupations from fast food worker to comic book writer (we’ll come back to that one), makes new friends, and learns a thing or two about compassion from his kindly landlord. I would not have expected to get a little choked up over a story involving a Reap-off and a midget skeleton wearing a Flava Flav clock, but it bears reiterating in case I haven’t made it plain enough yet: this comic is far, far better than it has any right to be. And this is coming from a self-proclaimed big Bill and Ted fan.

Bill and Ted Death Off
I have been enamored of the Sleepwalker villain 8-Ball since I learned of his existence (and the fact that he flies around in a hover rack), but Fate here may have just topped him as my favorite anthropomorphic billiard ball.

Two characters who don’t undergo much change are Bill and Ted themselves, but would anyone really expect them to? Would anyone even want them to? The fact that they can die more than once, experience their own personal Hells, get attacked by evil robot versions of themselves, etc. and still remain the same cheerful dudes is kind of what we love about them in the first place, and the comic rightfully has them stick to what they do best: dealing with the oddity of time travel with the greatest of ease (this time with the addition of a time traveling roller coaster), being excellent to each other, and getting out of precarious situations by waiting for their friends or future versions of themselves to show up in a phone booth and save the day.

The comic does preserve the idea that Bill and Ted get married to the babes and have babies, but these events rarely impact the plot in any significant way. The kids are sort of there a lot, but these issues are free of whacky shenanigans involving Bill and Ted learning fatherly responsibility from Gengis Khan or how to change a diaper from Abraham Lincoln. I assume Little Bill and Ted are there because they existed at the end of Bogus Journey, but even more so because they reinforce the charmed, idyllic lives Bill and Ted lead and the notion that they totally “have it all.”

Bill and Ted Idyllic
It speaks volumes about the quality of these comics that one of my only criticisms is that people are wearing hats like Ted’s about 1000x more than I remember anyone actually wearing them in the 90’s and I find it distracting.

That the movie marries off and makes fathers of two overgrown adolescents so quickly has always seemed odd to me, but I suppose at least it’s atypical to see male protagonists subscribe to the marriage+kid=happy ending romantic comedy variety of wish fulfillment? I’m glad Dorkin made the kids little more than cooing luggage, but I would have liked to have learned slightly more about Mrs. Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Mrs. Ted “Theodore” Logan because all we know is that 1. they are princesses 2. they are from the past and 3. they are “most chaste” pre-nuptials. I suppose, though, there’s only so much one can expect in terms of character development when the protagonists themselves can tout a lack of emotional complexity as a main endearing quality. If Bill and Ted can basically share one personality, I suppose their wives can too.

Joanna and Elizabeth are at least given several good moments, such as simultaneously knocking out their would-be suitors with their crowns (violence is always better when synchronized), rounding up a rescue party for Bill and Ted when they are on time trial, and, my personal favorite, making zombies do housework for them while they wait for Death to take their souls. They end up seeming like a slightly more assertive female version of Bill and Ted (not to be confused with the alternate reality female Bill and Ted who show up with many other doppelgangers at the end of the last issue), and since we already like Bill and Ted, the more the merrier.

Bill and Ted Zombie Clean
Kitty litter? Now I just really want to know what Bill and Ted’s cat’s name is.

If there is one pattern that has emerged from all the 90’s comics I have read for this site, everything from the more meta Enigma and Satan’s Six  to Mr. Hero, it is this: comic books love talking about comic books. I’m really not sure why this is, but Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book is no exception. Both titular characters love a comic called Fight Man (this list of his sidekicks and villains demonstrates why Dorkin was the perfect person to write for Bill and Ted), and, as mentioned earlier, Death briefly moonlights as a writer for an awesome sounding comic called Major Violence:

Bill and Ted Major Violence
Pictured: what a lot of comic book fans seem to think of 90’s comics. (Thankfully, we are here to set the record straight.)

A whole issue is even devoted to Wyld Stallyns accidentally ending up on a world entirely populated by superheroes and villains. No biting commentary on the state of comic books occurs, but it does give Dorkin a chance to have some fun with the over the top-ness of both superheroes and Bill and Ted, who object to having to wear costumes at one point even though they dress like, well, how they dress.  The best parts of the issue, unquestionably, are the names and character designs he comes up with for these alternate reality heroes and villains.

Bill and Ted Madame Pectoral
I am going to lobby Marvel for a Madame Pectoral solo title.

Bill and Ted Amalgam
Let’s see in the comments who can spot the most homages.

I could go on and on about how much fun these comics are, but the longer I do, the more likely I am to start talking like Bill and Ted, and that would be bogus for everyone. (See?) I really can’t think of anything Dorkin could or should have done differently to make a better Bill and Ted adaptation, and while they might not exactly be essential reading, they’re the perfect distraction to tide us over till the third movie actually films. Speaking of films, we’ll be celebrating the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron with Avengers Month here at The Unspoken Decade, so be sure to check that out, and in the meantime, be excellent to each other!