Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Funniest Joke That, Like, Ten People Will Get

In this week's Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #9, the issue ends with the Fantastic Four answering mail from viewers/readers. One question is "Jim O., in Ann Arbor writes, 'Why don't you kick Reed out of the group? All he does is stretch, and that's lame.'"

The other three members defend Reed, including Sue referincing a bust of Abraham Lincoln, saying, "Remember our 15th president? Abraham Lincoln was tall and skinny like Reed, but um...no one thinks he was lame!"

I thought that that was a hilarious joke by Jeff Parker, although you have to wonder how many people will have any idea what he is referring to.

Greg thinks that most comic fans would get the joke (I knew Greg would be one of the folks to get the joke). So let's do an experiment. Comment here if you get the joke.

45 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

I would think most people would, because most people who read the issue are going to be comic book geeks. But that's just what I think.

2/08/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Interesting, Greg.

Let's ask!

2/08/2006 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I dunno about the joke, but Abe Lincoln was the 16th President, not the 15th.

2/08/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bryan-Mitchell said...

I don't really know if I get it or not. Make sure you tell us why it is supposed to be funny.

2/08/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

I only get this joke because I recently bought the 40 Years of FF DVD. Otherise I'd be clueless. Let's just say the joke hearkens back to eeeeaaaarly Lee/Kirby FF.

2/08/2006 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Tony Collett said...

I got both jokes, the misnumbering and the comics one.
Oh, you want proof? "If we did a comic book about Abraham Lincoln, you'd probably complain about him being stretchy and lame, too"
And his mother dressed him funny, too.
Aw, great, now I'm back to my old crusty self.

2/08/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

It's a John Wilkes Booth reference.
Sic semper lame and stretchy!

Right?

2/08/2006 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"I don't really know if I get it or not. Make sure you tell us why it is supposed to be funny."

It's a parody of an old issue of FF, so, basically, to get the joke, you'd have to have read that issue of FF.

2/08/2006 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

I thought I got it ("Jim O." calling someone else stretchy and lame), but now that Brian explained it, I'm not sure. I certainly haven't read that FF issue, and I don't really get the misnumbering either.

2/08/2006 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous J'onn J'onzz said...

Please tell us which issue. I have the 40 years cd and I haven't read some of the early letters pages because I have the stories in the essentials.

2/08/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

In one of the issues before Invisible Girl gets forecfield powers, the FF are in the Baxter Building reading fan letters when one of the fan letters calls Sue useless. Upon reading the letter, Sue gets upset and starts crying. The other members basically break the 4th wall and explain why Sue actually is useful. Later on in the run she gets the forcefield powers and becomes genuinely useful.

2/08/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger William O'Brien said...

It's from issue #11, part of an actual story, not the letters pages. One of the seemingly rare early issues of FF that did not have Namor or Dr. Doom in it.

2/08/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Lewis said...

Dag, I thought it was just a Civil War reference. (That is, though he was the official leader, almost half of the country found this person lame.)

Darn over-reading!

2/08/2006 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"In one of the issues before Invisible Girl gets forecfield powers, the FF are in the Baxter Building reading fan letters when one of the fan letters calls Sue useless. Upon reading the letter, Sue gets upset and starts crying. The other members basically break the 4th wall and explain why Sue actually is useful. Later on in the run she gets the forcefield powers and becomes genuinely useful."

That, in and of itself, would be funny (that the FF had to defend Sue against their own readers!!), but what puts it over the top, humor-wise, is the Abraham Lincoln factor.

Part of the defense of Sue involves Abraham Lincoln. You simply must get ahold of #11 (or a reprint) to see how Lincoln factors in. Terribly humorous (and I know Parker was thinking the same thing, hence the inclusion of Lincoln in the issue).

2/08/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

It's a parody of an old issue of FF, so, basically, to get the joke, you'd have to have read that issue of FF.

There's really way too much of this crap in comics these days. Not too bad in a letter column, I guess, but the constant cannibalization of older stories that only aging fanboys will get is really insular and hackish.

2/08/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"There's really way too much of this crap in comics these days. Not too bad in a letter column, I guess, but the constant cannibalization of older stories that only aging fanboys will get is really insular and hackish."

Agreed, and it's even stranger that the joke happens in an issue of a series that's supposed to be a clean slate for younger readers. Ultimate X-Men fell into the same rut with Vaughn, where it started becoming a series of in-jokes for longtime readers of the regular X-Men instead of the clean slate version it was originally intended to be.

In this case, though, I think the joke kind of works even without prior knowledge of FF #11, so I think it's forgiveable in this case, as long as such things don't become a regular part of the book.

2/08/2006 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

The funny thing is, Ben gets so upset that he turns back into the Thing! So Sue's whining made him a monster again.

And the fact that they have a bust of Abe Lincoln in their headquarters is pretty funny, too.

Everyone who didn't get the joke, you could have avoided that lack if you had only listened to me.

2/08/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

By the way,

"Jim O., in Ann Arbor" is likely a reference to Jim Ottaviani of GT Labs. He's the writer and publisher of many fine historical comics, including the recent "Bone Sharps".

One of the artists on "Fallout" from G.T. Labs was Jeff Parker.

2/08/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Very likely, chasdom.

And click on Greg's link to see me bring up the Abraham Lincoln reference and see our pal Tynne describe the scene, including the Lincoln reference!!

2/08/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"In this case, though, I think the joke kind of works even without prior knowledge of FF #11, so I think it's forgiveable in this case, as long as such things don't become a regular part of the book."

Agreed.

Although, if the jokes continue working on their own, I don't have much of a problem with it continuing.

I mean, if the jokes work on the main level, does it matter that they also work on a level that only older comic fans will get?

2/08/2006 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't have to be an aging fanboy to read the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, just like you don't have to be in your fifties to listen to the Beatles. The classics endure.

2/08/2006 11:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Kashtan said...

I LOLed at it.

2/08/2006 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"You don't have to be an aging fanboy to read the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, just like you don't have to be in your fifties to listen to the Beatles. The classics endure."

You are absolutely correct. I made a mistake.

I meant to say, of course, "fans of older comics" not "older comic fans."

2/08/2006 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"Agreed.

Although, if the jokes continue working on their own, I don't have much of a problem with it continuing."

When I say I don't want them to become a regular thing, I mean as in every other page. I'd like to see a decent amount of space dedicated to original gags too. If they appear regularly but keep working on their own and don't get overdone, I'd like that.

2/08/2006 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Fair enough.

2/09/2006 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger --Greg Hatcher said...

I mostly am posting this so that Brian can add me to his total of people who got it, right down to the Lincoln reference (My favorite part of the original was Ben bellowing at the fans that he supposed by their reasoning, histories of the Civil War should just take Mrs. Lincoln out completely, because she doesn't DO enough!)

I am really amazed at how many people here didn't pick up on it though. I thought for sure the results would skew way higher on the geek-o-meter seeing as how this is a comics blog and all. If there's one thing comics fans usually can't resist it's out-footnoting one another.

2/09/2006 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian Mac said...

For the record, you can add me to the list of people who got it (I've got both the Essential FFs, and the 40 Years DVD).

2/09/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got the joke. FF #10, right?

-- Anun

2/09/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous kenchen said...

Actually I've been meaning to buy up the Lee/Kirby run, but I'm not sure the best way to do this. The DVD sounds great, but a lame way to read comics. I like the essentials, but I want color. I'm taking it the hardcover color comics are reallye xpensive? What's the best way to do this?

2/09/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

Anything that invokes the "Lincoln's Mother" defense from "A Visit With The Fantastic Four" is comedy -gold-.

I bought the issue just because of that gag. :D

2/09/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger faboofour said...

It's even funnier if you caught the first parody of the original Lincoln defense" of Sue that was either in "Not Brand Ecch" or a fanzine that Grass Green did in the sixties (no I can't remember which is was, it was almost forty years ago, what'd'ya want!).

2/09/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous jake saint said...

I saw:

Jim O. + Ann Arbor + bad attitude

and immediately went to

= Jim Osterberg

2/09/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"There's really way too much of this crap in comics these days. Not too bad in a letter column, I guess, but the constant cannibalization of older stories that only aging fanboys will get is really insular and hackish."

Fine, sure, yeah, comics are too insular and only weird old white guys read them and blah blah blah. I thought this was really funny (although probably only because it reminds me of that Lee/Kirby issue). So, blow it out your ass, grumpy.

2/09/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

This is almost as good as a Dan Slott comic, wherein one doesn't have to be a geek to get the full joke...but if one is, it's nigh perfect.

2/09/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous ariznateach said...

The Aristocrats!

2/09/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

"I thought this was really funny (although probably only because it reminds me of that Lee/Kirby issue). So, blow it out your ass, grumpy."

Well, the fact that you had to read a forty-year-old comic to get that joke - in a comic that's ostensibly designed to suck in new, younger readers - makes that joke, by its nature, insular and cannibalistic and appealing mostly to a shrinking fanbase of already-dedicated readers. So thank you for proving my point.

The increasing tendency of the major publishers to try to squeeze more money out of the same shrinking circle of readers (instead of trying to expand that circle with more approachable, accessible comics) has the American comic book industry locked in a slow death spiral. There are other factors contributing to this, too, not the least of which is the maddening system which funnels comics almost exclusively to specialty shops where casual shoppers miss them entirely (and fuels the demand for insular comic book writing). Nevertheless, I find it odd to periodically read posts on comic blogs bemoaning "The State Of The Industry" scattered among posts celebrating the in-joke-within-an-in-joke method of Big Two humor or the byzantine plot of Infinite Crisis.

2/09/2006 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

Did you read the disclaimers in Brian's original post that most people probably won't get the joke?

This was hardly a celebration of exclusive jokes.

It was pointing out that the joke -is- an exclusive one.

Claiming it's a symbol of "what's WRONG with comics" though? That's going too far.

It's an exclusive joke that took up all of three or four panels.

That's really -not- a big deal.

2/09/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I also think that any "jokes" that get made in a comic must be correct jokes that support my political ideas of what comics should contain in order to push forward into the new millenium. Any writer who would make such an unsupportable use of paper and ink is clearly an insular hack, and since our glorious society cannot tolerate hacks, he needs resocialization.

2/09/2006 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kenchen writes: " I like the essentials, but I want color."

I'd like color, too, but even more I'd like marginally better paper. Those things look like they'd turn yellow and start disintegrating during the time it takes for a single reading.

2/09/2006 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

"Yes, I also think that any "jokes" that get made in a comic must be correct jokes that support my political ideas of what comics should contain in order to push forward into the new millenium. ... he needs resocialization."

I thrill to the sound of your misplaced indignation, but I was not and am not calling for a comic book jihad. All I said was that one particular joke in a letter column wasn't that bad, but it was an example of a phenomenon which had gotten out of hand. And somebody told me to "blow it out my ass" because I didn't read FF#11 to get the Abe Lincoln joke. Whatever.

In a medium which is overwhelmed by insularity - by references to references, by cross-company crossovers, by aged and tired characters revamped beyond the point of workability, by the recycling of stagnant plotline after stagnant plotline, where every dangling plot thread from Alexander Luthor to the Third Summers Brother must be rehashed because there are enough hangers-on who were reading fifteen or twenty or thirty years ago that they'll pick up the latest lukewarm plot-mush just to get a nostalgic thrill from seeing it all trotted out again - I would like some genuine attempt to make some not-insignificant portion of comicdom accessible to new readers - not just the ghetto of Kids' Comics, or a handful of Ultimate or All-Star books, but even, say, 20% of the Big Two's output. One out of five. That's not even that much, but it's a hell of a lot more than either of them is putting out right now. If nothing else it would force these companies to do something new for a change instead of eternally reliving their glory days.

2/10/2006 03:18:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I think I've yet to ever disagree with Iron Lungfish. On anything. Scary.

2/10/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

Okay...Iron Lungish, I have yet to see -anyone- comment yet that they think insular comments are good things.

You said in your first post that this isn't really that bad an example of what you're talking about, given that it's a throwaway gag in a comics-style lettercol.

That's why people got miffed: Using something as minor and harmless as this as a cue to start pontificating on how it's a symbol of the EVIL of modern super-hero comics...well, you could have picked many better examples.

Right battle, wrong field.

2/10/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Condon said...

A homage to a very early Fantastic Four story where the Fantastic Four dealt with a letter that belittled the Invisible Girl.

3/21/2006 02:08:00 AM  
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