Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thor in "The Ding-A-Ling Family"

If you read comic books in the seventies or early eighties, you might remember the most vital weapon in most super-heroes' arsenals - Hostess snack products. These advertisements featured DC and Marvel super-heroes using Twinkies, Cupcakes and Fruit Pies to defeat their super-villains - sometimes a villain from the regular comics, and sometimes a new villain created, I suppose, by the Hostess marketing department.

Let's relive the glory days of comic/snack synergy with this treat, from the pages of The Invaders, issue number 25, cover dated February 1978 -

Thor in "The Ding-A-Ling Family"

You can click for a larger version if you like, but you don't have to - a panel-by-panel analysis follows...

Damn, those are some brave fucking hillbillies. They're not just taking on Thor, they're ready to take on all the gods of Asgard. They're pretty hard to faze, too - they've arrived there "by some mysterious quirk of space and time warp," so presumably they did not expect to suddenly find their trailer floating in a cosmic void next to a viking ship filled with gods. (I'm surprised it's spaceworthy, being made of plywood and tinker toys.) But rather than huddling in a corner, weeping and soiling themselves, they hurl themselves out into the vacuum of space, ready to take on all comers. (Or maybe they did soil themselves - I have no idea what that glowing brown blob floating between the ship and the trailer is. Did the Asgardians just empty their divine privy? Does god poop glow?)

In case you need a scorecard, the blond god is Thor, Marvel Comics sensation. The woman is Sif, his sometime girlfriend. The guy with the beard is Volstagg, who isn't a real Norse god.Well, he's less real than the others, in that Marvel Comics made him up. He's fat - that's pretty much his whole shtick - so it's appropriate that he appears in a Hostess ad. I'm not sure who the guy with the hat is - at first I thought it was Heimdall, but Heimdall's hat is pointier. So some generic Norse god. He was probably pretty excited to be given a line in this story, even if it lacks the dramatic oomph of the the other gods' dialogue. I guess it's slightly better than just saying, "Yeah!" or "Ditto!" or "You go, Volstagg!"

I'm not entirely sure what the Asgardians are doing flying a wooden viking ship in "Thor's Asgardian orbit." I'm not entirely sure what "Thor's Asgardian orbit" is, for that matter. I assume it's something pretty important, so they're probably fairly surprised to find themselves under attack from the cast of "Hee-Haw."

And the redneck stereotypes keep on coming, by cracky. The guy in the hat addresses Pa, Ma, Auntie, Sister, Brother, Cousins Bee and Bye, and Grandma - so who's he? Looks too young to be Grandpa - so Uncle, maybe? I guess when you've got an atomic shotgun, you can be whoever the hell you want. (Does Wal-Mart sell those?) And since we're indulging every cliche short of duelling banjos, I suppose he could be referring to the same person more than once...

You might want to get a better bead with that shotgun, though, because right now you're lining up Sister for a faceful of atomic buckshot.

Grandma Ding-A-Ling seems to be the brains of the outfit - presumably less inbreeding in the older generations. She also looks like a more ornery version of Spider-Man's Aunt May. In any event, if a family like that is holding you down and they plan to "hornswaggle" you, things are looking bad. Squeeeeeeeeeel like a pig, Thor!

You're right, Thor - just think of how much the Ding-A-Ling Family could accomplish if only they harnessed their awesome power for good.

It would appear that Thor has just smashed Sister Ding-A-Ling in the face with his hammer. Verily, Thor dost not fucketh around.

Bee and Bye Ding-A-Ling have a "cousin-power secret weapon," which I guess is the power to cling to muscular blonds with big hammers. I have that power too.

"Get it? Bee and Bye? Bye and Bye? Does thou see what I did there? Huh? Huh?"

Luckily Sif has a secret weapon too - her ears, and she heard Bee and Bye describe exactly how to beat them. So...the Norse gods keep Hostess Fruit Pies in stock? Ok, if I can buy the atomic shotgun, I guess I can buy that. But did Sif really take the time, while Thor was wrasslin' with the cousins, to unwrap all the Fruit Pies and arrange them neatly on a tray?

Bee and Bye refer to each other as "cousin" - except they seem to be identical twins. Ah, well - it's not like the gods can throw stones about the whole inbreeding thing.

Does Bye pronounce the little "restricted trademark" symbol?

Aunt May is PISSED! Volstagg and Sif are so excited, they speak in unison. And is it me, or are Bee and Bye kind of hot in this panel? ('s just me?)

So a happy ending for everybody. Except for all the Ding-A-Ling's Thor killed with his hammer two panels ago. And the generic god from the beginning, who seems to have been ding-a-linged off-panel.

Take us out, Odin.