BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: Take “The Human Target” Out To The Ballgame

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Comic Book universes are huge and diverse, going through countless genres and containing both nitty-gritty realism and utterly fantastic science fiction or fantasy. And yet, they all take place in the same universe, no matter how different they seem. You can get a idea of just how crazy this is by looking at Marvel’s movie/TV empire, where Daredevil and Guardians of the Galaxy are both taking place in the same universe despite the fact that one of them is about a guy beating up mob bosses (and the occasional ninja) while the other one has both a talking raccoon and a talking tree.

However, as a result of this, sometimes characters get lost in the shuffle. They are technically part of the universe, but they rarely interact with it. Maybe it’s because their adventures are on the more mature side, maybe they are stuck in another dimension that the usual heroes don’t go to so often, or maybe, they aren’t seen because that’s just the way they want it…

Such is the case of Christopher Chance, AKA the Human Target. He’s not a completely unknown character- he’s been the subject of two short-lived shows based on his comics (the most notable being a two-season FOX series starring Mark Valley and James Earle Haley), but he’s firmly in the D-list of DC Comics. And those were both pretty different from the comics and had little indication of taking place in a world of DC Comics. In fact, when it was announced that the Human Target would be coming to Arrow, some people were surprised to find out that he even was a DC character. That’s probably because he doesn’t interact with the rest of the DC Universe all that much. Or maybe he does, but we just don’t know it.

Because, you see, the Human Target is a master of disguise. He becomes the would-be assassination victim using heavy prosthetic-work and a knack for copying voices and body language. And in this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture, Christopher Chance figuratively steps up to the plate:

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.29.36 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.30.43 AMGO BELOW THE JUMP FOR MORE:

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BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: The Kool-Aid Man Cometh (W/bonus Kool-Aid Commercial)

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

There is a man. A man unlike any other other. He’s not really a man, he’s more like a anthropomorphic water-pitcher filled with Kool-Aid. He is the Kool-Aid Man, and he is the subject of this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture:

KAMcoverOH, YEAAHH! It’s time for The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man #1 from Marvel Comics in 1983. Go below the jump for more:

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The 50th BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: DC’s greatest heroes and villains… PLAY BASEBALL? (BLOGATHON ’16)

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

What more can be said about DC Super-Stars #10 that has not already been said? Larry Granillo has looked at it, so did internet-based comics fan extraordinaire Chris Sims, a comic book blog ran a whole series on it, SI Kids actually pulled up WPA for the game, and probably plenty of others have also done a look at it.

But… if there is something better suited for the 50th installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture, this site’s signature series, I don’t know what it is. So buckle up, because here we go with DC Super-Stars #10 from 1976… “The Great Super-Star Game!”

superstargamecoverGO BELOW THE JUMP FOR MORE:

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BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: Bartolo, C.C., and the rest of the 2002 Indians rotation in INDIANS STRIKEFORCE VS. THE SCATMAN

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Ultimate Sports Force. It’s the beloved and now-defunct comic book company that gave us such classics as the Cal Ripken-led Shortstop Squad, the power-filled Cosmic Slam, the Sasquatch-filled Mariners Mojo, and the Yankee retelling (with gratuitous Cal Ripken appearance) of Cosmic Slam entitled Championship Challenge. Today, we look at a Ultimate Sports giveaway comic featuring the 2002 Indians, as we read Indians Strikeforce Versus the Scatman:

StrikeforcecovYes, this is a comic in which C.C. Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Danys Baez, and Ryan Drese have to protect Cleveland from somebody called the Scatman. It also has Bob Feller, now-retired clubhouse manager Cy Buynak, and MONKEYS MADE OUT OF MUSIC. Go below the jump to see some of the glories it brings:

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“Fantastic Four” Bizarre Baseball Cultures that are probably way better than the new movie

The new Fantastic Four movie recently came out. It was a total and utter disaster, with a Rotten Tomatoes score that can only be seen with a microscope and a box office performance so pitiful it couldn’t even win it’s week. It’s hardly surprising, really, as A) it was not made by Marvel itself, but rather FOX, which only has the rights to make these movies due to a deal it made way back in the early 1990s when Marvel was in the direst of financial straits, and B) it was trying to turn what is arguably the most optimistic and adventuresome of comic books into a dark and moody techno-thriller. I mean, seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?!?

With luck, this failure will lead to the Fantastic Four and their stable of villains (most notably DOCTOR DOOM) back to the Marvel line, so we can see a real and proper movie featuring the FF, with Doctor Doom done right, and maybe with a Hulk-Thing fight thrown in, too, because after how badly this and the previous movies have hurt the reputation of “Marvel’s First Family”, they’re going to have to go all out to win back the crowd.

But, anyway, enough rambling. Here are the Bizarre Baseball Cultures that featured the Fantastic Four. All of them, no doubt, are better than the current film:

2007’s AAA Baseball Heroes

This Marvel/AAA Baseball crossover is great in that it shows off how the Fantastic Four are basically an ordinary family who happen to go exploring alternate dimensions and fight space-gods in their spare time. I mean, look, they all are at a ballgame together!

 

2007GiveawayComicPage1From what I understand, the latest movie has none of this stuff. And it flopped big time. Coincidence? I think not.

It also has a Hulk-Thing fight and this, the greatest image in the history of art:

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 5.53.33 PM2008’s AAA Baseball Heroes

This installment of the Marvel/AAA Baseball didn’t have as much Fantastic Four fun, really only featuring Reed Richards and the Mole-Man (who served as the villain). However, unlike the new movie, it showed the Fantastic Four as part of a large and vibrant universe and as close allies and friends with characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man. Which, if you ask me, instantly makes it better than whatever piece of crap 20th Century Fox just put out.

We also see the Mole Man cry tears of joy, which still makes me laugh for some reason:

And the Mole Man wept...

Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius Super Summer Spectacular

A good, innocent, all-ages comedy comic about Franklin Richards, the eldest son of Reed and Sue Richards, as he tries to cheat in little league by using a Flubber-like explosive substance on his bat to hit some home runs.

It also has this image:

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 10.37.50 PMAh, such light-hearted whimsy. If only the new Fantastic Four movie had some of that, maybe it wouldn’t have been called something that “not only scrapes the bottom of the barrel; it knocks out the floor and sucks audiences into a black hole of soul-crushing, coma-inducing dullness.”

That’s something that somebody actually wrote. Go look on Rotten Tomatoes.

Cameos

The FF has also made brief appearances in my run-down of Marvel Universe appearances by Yankee Stadium, and in the Bullseye miniseries. I won’t go in depth on those, as we are forgetting about the unofficial fifth member of the Fantastic Four, their arch-nemesis, the greatest villain in Marvel comics….

DOCTOR DOOM….. who once tried to kidnap Jeff Conine

Okay, this is what Doctor Doom apparently looks like in the new movie:

What. The. Hell. That isn’t Doctor Doom. That’s, like, I dunno, what would happen if evil C3PO had a baby with a Gothic Crash-Test Dummy. Jeez, is it THAT EFFING HARD, FOX?!?! THIS IS WHAT DOOM LOOKS LIKE, IN BATTLE WITH TWO OF HIS GREATEST FOES:

BILLY THE MARLIN and SPIDER-MAN!

MarlinsSpideyCoverI mean, jeez, that’s one of the most iconic things in comic books. It was the partial inspiration for Darth freaking Vader. But, NOOOOOOOO, you have to go make Doom like like a human vacuum cleaner that just got put in the oven for too long.

…Seriously, FOX, give back the rights to Marvel. They’re Disney. They have the money. They have the X-Men television rights you want. For the good of all that is holy. PLEASE!

(ahem)

Anyway, Doctor Doom made one of the most notable appearances in Bizarre Baseball Culture when he went and tried to kidnap Jeff Conine to force him to play for the Latverian national baseball team, only to be foiled by Billy the Marlin and Spider-Man. Truly, words cannot describe the greatness of this story. If Marvel ever gets the rights to Doctor Doom back, the very first thing they should do is make a deal with a Marlins and put into production a adaptation of this, albeit with Giancarlo Stanton taking the Jeff Conine spot.

I mean, look at this brilliance:

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.05.15 PMI mean, behold this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 1.44.38 PMSeriously, this is probably better than that new movie, and the Fantastic Four aren’t even in it!

…So, anyway, that concludes a look back at Fantastic Four appearances in Bizarre Baseball Culture. Keep an eye open in the next few days for the next installment, featuring Popeye the Sailor Man, a known user of performance-enhancing substances (i.e. spinach).

 

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Marvel’s Menagerie of Yankee Stadium appearances

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Sometimes, baseball plays a role in a piece of fiction, but not really a big enough one where I can do a full piece on it. Take Marvel, for example. The fact that 95% of their heroes are in New York City means that there are plenty of stories where heroes or villains visit Yankee Stadium but where their visit isn’t long enough or baseball-focused enough to really justify giving them the full Bizarre Baseball Culture treatment.

So, this time, I’m killing many birds with one stone and showcasing some of Yankee Stadium’s appearances in Marvel comics. Go below the jump to see some of them:

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BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: Strange Sports Stories #1… “TO BEAT THE DEVIL!”

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Last time, I introduced you to “Strange Sports Stories”, the on-and-off anthology of DC Comics’ Science-Fiction and/or Fantasy tales involving sports. That past installment was from the 1960s Brave and The Bold run of SSS, but this time, we’re looking at the Strange Sports Stories stand-alone series, from 1973. It only lasted six issues, but it’s first issue prominently featured baseball (amazingly, it wasn’t in any of the other five issues, and as far as I can tell no sport was featured more than once) in a tale called “To Beat The Devil!”

DevilBallcover

Written by Frank Robbins (who was primarily an artist, most notable for having helped create the character of the Man-Bat for DC Comics), penciled by Curt Swan (who is best known for his work on Superman comics) and inked by Dick Giordano (best known for his partnership with artist Neal Adams on Batman and the socially-conscious Green Lantern/Green Arrow book), this tale, as the cover (done by Nick Cardy, who according to Wikipedia is best known for his work with Aquaman and the Teen Titans) indicates, is about a face-off between a baseball team and the devil himself. The Devil, of course, is no stranger to baseball, primarily known for his involvement in baseball-themed musicals, but this is the first appearance by Satan in Bizarre Baseball Culture. Well, unless you count this weird guy from the second AAA Baseball/Marvel comic. I don’t.

Anyway, go below the jump for more:

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