Homage or Fromage?

TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT #11, DC Comics, June 1987
If I'm still relating first experiences in comics this week, I really need to talk a bit about my very first experiences with French-language bande dessinée. Every weekend, my grandmother would bribe me with a Tintin (or some other b.d.) so that I'd go to church with her. Back in those days, I truly had the faith. That's why kids are abandoning religion today: No free comics after church.

Anyway, these are all still treasured elements of my collection and yet, methinks it would be funnier if I used an american superhero comic book lense to talk about it. Like a Tintin homage gone wrong. I'm not even sure "wrong" quite covers the level of crapitude embodied by Teen Titans Spotlight #11 starring the Brotherhood of Evil, but we'll start from there.

This has everything going against it, to be honest. It's already pretty risky to spotlight villains in lieu of heroes, and while the Brotherhood can be reasonably badass when they want to be, they don't exactly have depth (not until man-god Grant Morrison gives us some monkey-on-brain action in Doom Patrol, anyway). On top of that, writer Jean-Marc Lofficier, best known for translating whatever French material Cheval Noir or some other publication wanted, makes it a Tintin homage, like the US comics public of 1987 is gonna "get it". Well, if you do get it, you'll probably be insulted by it.

Ok, so what's the story? Hard to say. No, really. I don't even understand the heavy continuity grafts at the start and end of the comic, but let's just say that the Brotherhood are targeted by some other bad guy called Toulon (pidgin French for "tool", apparently) and when they escape via Warp's powers, he's shot and spirals them into an alternate universe (this is post-Crisis, so it's pretty messy) based on Hergé's Tintin.

But it's not the Tintin you remember, not unless your Tintin was about a postapocalyptic barbarian riding a giant mutated dog. Introducing the adult Tintin, now only "Tin".
Seems that by landing on the moon in 1952 (in On a marché sur la lune), they escalated the cold war, leading to nuclear war and the mutation of cute dog companion Milou (Americans would call him Snowy, and Brits - I kid you not - Whitey) into a truly awful version of He-Man's Battlecat. Now, Tin and The Captain need the Brotherhood's help in getting The Professor back from Rastapopoulos (or here, Minos) so they can board a space ark together and leave this nuclear cesspool of a world.

If this is Lofficier's idea of what would be a cool epilogue to the Tintin series, who's gonna tell him it was more like digging Hergé up and craping in his grave? Anyway, at the end they rescue the Professor and Lofficier makes it clear he's in the "Tintin is gay" camp (in the francophone world, this debate is as important as the "Batman and Robin are gay" controversy):
In the face of the extremely slim chance of penetrating the market with this confusing story, artist/colorist Joe Orlando seems to just phone it in (just look at the cover, with its doodled backgrounds, for evidence). I thought this guy was a comics legend? For example, what is this about?
Why do I have to turn my comic upside down? Why? What is this effect? And why do characters all seem to shoot beams out of their hands no matter what their powers are?
The Brain is the only one not using his hands, Mallah is about the size of an orangutan (and shooting beams in the last panel), and Warp is menacing his opponents with a fistful of rage ("I am very angry!!! Sacrebleu!!! Grrr!") Don't worry, he'll be throwing beams around as soon as he hits the parallel universe. Don't think too hard about the physics of this finale either, just be glad that this Earth-Tintin bites the big one and never has to be spoken of again.
Thankfully, the Brotherhood returns home and commits a murder, so they never learned their lesson and we can safely forget that this story ever happened! Verdict, Doctor?

9 comments:

De said...

(Americans would call him Snowy, and Brits - I kid you not - Whitey)

CROW T. ROBOT: Hey Whitey!

I remember reading this particular issue back in grade school and just thought the whole thing was some silly alternate Earth somehow untouched by the Crisis. I wouldn't encounter Tintin until college when HBO ran some animated adventures and it never dawned on me to relate the two.

Siskoid said...

Exactly. Thoroughly meaningless if you don't know Tintin, maddenlingly awful if you do.

SallyP said...

Urgh. I'll just pretend that this never happened.

Siskoid said...

I'm pretty sure it didn't. ;)

Stephen said...

so the best thing that happened to the brotherhood of evil was homosexuality?

Siskoid said...

Only for Mallah and the Brain. Nothing ever good happened to the others.

Mick said...

I'm British, and Snowy's always been called Snowy here, as long as I can remember, but he might've been called 'Whitey' in the earlier translations.

Siskoid said...

I read those in the 70s, but I don't know when they were published.

LiamKav said...

I'll also pipe in and say that when I got Tintin books out of the local library here in the UK during the late 80s the dog was called "Snowy". He was also called "Snowy" in that 80s cartoon that always began with a man shouting "Herge's Adventures of TINTIN", but I have no idea if that was a British/French/Belgium/American show that was dubbed or not.

I vaguely remember reading that there were also different translations of the names of the Asterix characters, but I only ever saw one set over here (the "Cacafonix", "Vitalstatistix" ones. I am also ashamed to say that I never realised that most of them were puns until a couple of years after I stopped reading them).

 

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