Superman turning into a giant mole. Archie preparing to battle Communists in Vietnam. An invasion of talking gorillas who get into fistfights with almost every single superhero.
Despite the summer blockbuster season, it is possible that the casual fan is unaware of these storylines. Superhero movies are now weighty affairs, with either the sombre doominess of DC Comics or the self-importance of Marvel’s story universe.
This, however, is a relatively recent development. To know how goofy comics used to be, a time when every page was suffused with madcap hijinks, head to Mister Kitty’s Stupid Comics. The format is simple: scans of panels and pages annotated with insults, a combination of encyclopaedic knowledge and toe-curling put-downs.
One rich strata of history is the 1960s. Did you know that Jimmy Olsen, the “bow-tied goofball” and photographer sidekick of Superman, had his own series in the 1950s? In contrast, he is despatched with a shot to head in the very first scene of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Olsen’s adventures are an irresistible target for Mister Kitty’s trademark beat-downs, especially an episode (fasten your seat belts!) featuring him marrying Lois Lane’s sister with the twist that each time he kisses her, Superman turns into a giant mole. And this just a few pages into an episode that also has time-travel, robot impostors and “7th level science-sorcery”.
As Mister Kitty observes, such larks were part and parcel of the “Golden Age Of Comics, where the furious pace of production and the lack of adequate mental health care meant that damn near anything could see print”.
He does point out that this episode sold over 550,000 copies in 1965, far far higher than even the top-most comic in this decade.
Mister Kitty, however, just doesn’t stick to the big two. Indeed, the entire site is a free-fire zone with everything from self-published comics from the 1980s to manga rip-offs attracting flak.