Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Batman's Weirdest Villains: The Gong



THE GONG

Real Name:  Ed Peale
Also Known As: The Bell Bandit

Powers / Skills: The Gong has no special powers or skills, and even though he is a bell-themed villain, he doesn't have any cool bell gimmicks or weapons.  Instead he just carries a regular handgun. He's basically just this short, fat, weirdo criminal.

Weird Obsession:  Ed Peale is obsessed with bells.  Growing up he came to associate bells with submission to authority: The bell on his alarm clock forced him to wake up in the morning, when he would prefer to sleep all day.  The school bell forced him go to school.  The bell on the time clock at his job forced him to start his shift.  Eventually, his obsession with bells drove him insane, and he decided to "rebel" against bells by becoming a criminal and forcing bells to "obey" him.

First Appearance: "The Bandit of the Bells" in Batman #55

History:
Following his mental breakdown, Ed Peale decided to become a criminal in order to achieve mastery over bells.  It doesn't really make any sense, but the dude is clearly insane, so I guess "logic" doesn't need to figure in to it.  Peale read every book about bells he could find, and then named himself "The Gong," put together a gang, and embarked on a wave of crime.
"I'll show those inanimate objects who's the boss!"
After committing a variety of bell-themed crimes, The Gong and his gang eventually came face to face with Batman and Robin.  The gang promptly beat up the crime fighters, and then set them adrift in the ocean on a bell buoy to await their death by drowning.

Unfortunately for The Gong, Batman outsmarts him, by signalling a passing boat.
Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!
Batman and Robin next track down The Gong just as he is trying to steal a gold and jewel encrusted bell from a small town.  The Caped Crusaders try and stop him, but The Gong smacks Batman with the large bell, knocking him down, then shoots the tires on the Batmobile as he escapes.

At this point in the comic, The Gong has committed at least 5 bell-related crimes, and succeeded at every one.  He has also defeated Batman and Robin in combat twice.  And this is a guy with no real powers or skills at all.  He's just really in to bells, and carries a gun.  It's like Batman and Robin have trained so much to defeat impressive, master criminals, that they don't know what to do when faced with such a massive schmuck.

Batman and Robin next attempt to hunt down The Gong a third time.  This time Robin flies the Batplane around town, blasting a recording of the stolen bell on the Batplane's stereo.  Meanwhile Batman drives around in the Batmobile, with some kind of sound receiver doodad that listens to the sounds from the Batplane as they bounce off objects in the town.  Eventually, they find a matching set of vibrations, and track The Gong and his gang to an abandoned repair shop.

It's not a "record player," it's a "variable sonic oscillator."
This time, they don't go in alone, however, and bring the police along as back-up.  And the funny thing is, this gang has defeated Batman and Robin twice so far, but when they see the police, they all panic and surrender, without even trying to put up a fight.  That must have been really embarrassing for the Dynamic Duo.
The mere sight of the police is enough to make The Gong break out in to beads of sweat.
Batman tries to feel useful again by interrogating The Gong before he is hauled away by the police.  But this backfires on him, by allowing The Gonger to work himself up into an inane frenzied monologue, ranting about his hatred of bells...
Having reached a fever pitch of insanity, The Gong then leaps through the glass of second story window, and onto the street below.  From the street, the police chase him in to an alley.  Trapped in the alley The Gong barricades himself behind some trash cans, and the cops and the criminal exchange gunfire. 
"The Gong Strikes!"  ...by jumping through glass.

At this point, the Batman switches tactics.  Apparently realizing that his traditional method of bringing criminals to justice (i.e., punching them in the face) don't seem to work against The Gong, Batman instead starts loudly ringing a bell, over and over again.  And the sound is so annoying, that The Gong surrenders, just so he doesn't have to listen to it anymore.  At least in prison, The Gong won't have to listen to bells anymore...
Oh wait, never mind.  Sorry, Gong.

Final Analysis:
Ed Peale did not have a colorful costume, or interesting weapons, and in fact had no particular talents or skills of any kind, yet he he defeated Batman and Robin with little or no effort on several occasions.  Couple that with his insane and nonsensical obsession with bells, and The Gong easily joins the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains."
This panel sponsored by The Bell Council of America.  "Bells: ring one today!"


BONUS!  MUSIC VIDEOS:

T. Rex - Bang a Gong (Get It On)



The Ikettes - I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)


tUnE-yArDs - Wooly Wolly Gong









Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Claus Shot in the Back! Not a Joke! (ABC News Clip)

I wasn't planning on posting anything else until after Christmas, but this, I had to share:


Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (Video Link), plus Random Blog Stuff!

Hi, kids!  I hope you're all enjoying a funtabulous holiday.  I'll be taking it a little light on the blogging this week as I celebrate Christmas and work a 6 day work week (woo-hoo!).  So, I won't be doing a "Batman's Weirdest Villains" post this week, or probably much else.  I should be getting a handful of new Batman toys for Christmas this year, though, so you can expect some new action figure reviews to pop-up fairly soon, probably starting next week.

Today, I'll be sharing a link to a fun holiday classic that you can stream to your computer, "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!"  Normally I embed these videos directly into my blog, but it seems this video is only public domain in the United States, so instead I'm just offering a link:

https://archive.org/details/SantaClausConquersTheMartiansDVD

So, don't click on that if you live outside the U.S., I guess.  Oh, and, like, MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!

Thanks for sharing, Beavis.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - Strange Fate of Flight 608 (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
Strange Fate of Flight 608

The second season of the Hardy Boys featured many episodes with The Boys on the road, both in the United States and abroad, such as a string of episodes where they drove from France to Kenya, with stops at Transylvania and Egypt along the way, or later when they took a road trip from Massachusetts to Las Vegas, with a stop to solve a mystery in New Mexico.  Making things confusing was the fact that these episodes were either filmed or aired out of order, so they would be driving from Egypt to Kenya in one episode, then they would be in Los Angeles the next, and then they would arrive in Kenya the episode after that.

Joe and Frank Stand in Front of a "Las Vegas" Poster
This episode, "Strange Fate of Flight 608," is another international one, beginning with the Hardy Boys and their father in Nassau, where they have just finished a case for an airline involving stolen airline tickets.  This is established using clips from previous episodes set in Hawaii and Los Angeles, which we are supposed to believe are now taking place in Nassau.  That is combined with an awkward voice-over by Frank Hardy, explaining the plot thus far.  My best guess is that this episode was originally shot out of order, thinking that they were going to film the preceding episode set in Nassau later.  Then, the Nassau episode was cancelled, forcing the producers to splice together a last minute introductory segment in the editing room.

Island Cove Bar
Even without the awkward introductory segment, this is an oddly structured episode.  There is no mystery to be solved, at least as far as the audience is concerned.  All of the criminals' actions take place on camera, so we know everything before The Hardy Boys do.   Even then all The Hardy Boys have to do is see someone acting suspiciously and then follow her, after which the criminals reveals themselves.  So it's really more of an adventure story then a mystery this time around.

Hiding Under the Desk
As far as adventures go though, it's a pretty good one.   It starts off with Frank and Joe leaving Nassau early, because Joe wants to go back to New York to catch a Knicks game.  They manage to hitch a ride on a special airline-employees-only flight back to New York, as thanks from the airline for their help with the stolen tickets case.  Frank and Joe are both excited, because all of the other passengers are beautiful young stewardesses.  But there's just one catch: the plane will be flying over The Bermuda Triangle!  Joe Hardy is spooked by this, worried that the Bermuda Triangle is a portal to another dimension.  This might seem goofy, but it's in character for him.  Remember, in a previous episode it was established that he also believed the Egyptian pyramids were built by aliens, so he seems to have a soft spot for these types of pseudo-scientific myths that were popular in the 1970s.

Joe Panics About Flying Over the Bermuda Triangle
Naturally, the boys don't really get sucked into another dimension, but they do end up having to pilot the commercial aircraft themselves, and through a tropical storm, no less, before having to make a crash landing in the ocean.  Then they end up briefly marooned on an uninhabited island.  That's all a lot of fun to watch.  The problem is it takes two thirds of the episode to get there, and then the adventure is over just as quickly.  If the show would have spent more time with the boys learning to survive on the island, as well as given them more of a mystery to solve, it would have been a lot better.  But still, just watching the boys playfully bicker with each other, fly (and crash) a plane, and flirt with girls is kind of fun on it's own, even without much of a mystery.  So I still enjoyed the episode.

"May Day! May Day!  Can you read me, over?   Roger zero delta!   That's the sort of thing I'm supposed to say on a radio, right?  Over!   Roger!"
Things to watch for in this episode:
  • Movie References.  This episode seems to be an homage to adventure movies from the 1940s, such as Casablanca or the Maltese Falcon.  The two villains are clearly patterned after Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, and the "Island Cove Bar" could be a weak stand-in for "Rick's Café Américain."
  • Recycled Props.  Be on the look-out for props and sets that have been re-used from previous episodes.  For instance, the wicker chair that the Sydney Greenstreet character sits in at the "Island Cove Bar" was last seen a few episodes back at the "Grammy American Bar & Disco" in "The Mystery of King Tut's Tomb."
  • Stock Footage.  The airplane evacuation footage is clearly from another movie or show.  When the crashed airplane is evacuated, the raft is full of men, while other men help people on to the rafts.  But in this episode, the plane was full of women.  The only men on the plane were Frank, Joe, and the three unconscious pilots.  Even better, when the the two villains sail through a storm to reach the island, the footage of the boat is from the opening credits of Gilligan's Island, when they sing "the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed."
  • Guest Star Don Marshall.  Don Marshall plays a member of the flight crew in this episode.  Don was all over TV in the 1960s and '70s.   He's probably best known as one of the stars of the sci-fi show "Land of the Giants" in 1968, at a time when a black man in a lead role was practically unheard of.  He's also had roles on tons of other sci-fi shows, including Star Trek, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Bionic Woman, and Mission Impossible, as well as in the cult classic sci-fi films Terminal Island and The Thing With Two Heads.

Frank and Joe Stare Into Each Other's Eyes

 
BONUS!  MUSIC VIDEOS:


Middle of the Road - Fate Strange Fate


Radiohead - Lucky



More screencaps after the jump...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Batman's Weirdest Villains: The Penny Plunderer

THE PENNY PLUNDERER


The Penny Plunderer

Real Name:  Joe Coyne

Powers / Skills: The Penny Plunderer's skills mainly consist of throwing loose pennies at people, or hitting them in the head with a roll of pennies.  He also occasionally rigs up rolls of pennies or penny slot machines as smoke bombs.

Weird Obsession:  The Penny Plunderer has a bizarre love/hate relationship with pennies.  He blames pennies for all his problems in life, yet he is obsessed with them as well, and bases all of his crimes around pennies.

First Appearance: "The Penny Plunderers" in World's Finest #30

History:
In "The Penny Plunderers," we are introduced to a sad-sack named Joe Coyne, and witness a quick history of his life, from childhood to adulthood.  As a child, he was bitter because he only earned pennies as a newsboy.  As an adult, he gets fired from his office job, when his boss catches him gambling on the job by "pitching pennies."  Finally, he turns to a life of crime, but is caught during his first robbery attempt, and sent to prison.  Plus, in an ironic twist, the cash register he was trying to rob only had pennies in it.  While in prison, he has a mental breakdown, and blames pennies for all of his troubles in life.   In his mania, he decides to rededicate himself to crime, and vows to make pennies his "crime symbol."  Whatever that means.
Can't really argue with that logic.
Upon Coyne's release from jail, he opens a penny arcade in Gotham City, which he creatively names "Penny Arcade."  But the business is really just a "front" for his crimes.  He then puts together a gang, and embarks on a series of penny-related robberies.  This quickly gets the attention of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, who both peg him as nut-job from the get-go.

Like "Water-on-the-Knee," "Pennies-on-the-Brain" is a serious, but sadly misunderstood, medical condition.
Batman and Robin confront The Penny Plunderer at the scene of his next crime:  a showing of a rare and valuable "penny stamp" at a local stamp and coin exhibition.  The exhibition features giant sized replicas of the stamp and of a penny, which is too much for the Plunderer to resist.  But Batman and Robin fail at their task, as Coyne defeats both of the heroes, by throwing pennies at them.

Fun Fact: Rolls of pennies are not actually very heavy or hard.
Although Joe Coyne gets away, Robin manages to capture "Skinny," one of the Plunderer's gang.  Batman interrogates the criminal and gets the location of the gang's hideout.  Then Batman and Robin leave Skinny with the police, and head to the hideout to capture Coyne and the rest of the gang.  Yet somehow, before the Caped Crusaders arrive, Coyne manages to send another one of his men to intercept the police, and free Skinny.  Then they take Skinny back to the penny arcade.  At first Coyne acts like he's happy to see Skinny, but then asks Skinny to step on a fortune-telling penny scale that he has in his shop.  The fortune has been rigged by Coyne, and reads:
"YOUR FORTUNE
It isn't good!
Your future is very dark!
The future is always dark for
STOOL PIGEONS!"
Skinny is then tied up to the penny arcade's shooting gallery, which apparently uses real rifles and bullets, and Coyne murders him.  Then, the gang hides out in the shadows, and wait for Batman and Robin to show up.  Then, finally, the Dynamic Duo arrives, despite the fact that they left first.  Maybe they took the Batmobile through a drive-through along the way and picked up some burgers.

Batman's reaction to a man being shot to death: "Tough."  That dude is stone cold.
Batman and Robin put up a good fight, and manage to beat up the rest of the gang, but they are still no match for The Penny Plunderer himself, who throws some loose pennies at Robin, and hits Batman in the head with a roll of pennies.  And manages to knock both of them out cold by doing this.

Later, Batman and Robin awake to find themselves tied up, and with their utility belts removed, in a room that is filling up with carbon monoxide.  But Batman uses his MacGyver-like skills to rig together a battery (using two pennies -- oh, the irony!) and put an S.O.S. signal over the phone wires, allowing the police to show up and rescue them.
"Thanks for the assist boys... but now Robin and I will take over."  Dude, you've already been defeated TWICE by someone throwing pennies at you.  Maybe you should let the professionals handle this one.
After escaping from the Penny Plunderer's death trap, Batman and Robin foil the Plunderer's latest penny crime.  This gets Coyne really frustrated, so he comes up with a plan to get rid of Batman and Robin once and for all.  His plan is to get Batman and Robin to chase him into a warehouse, where he will barricade himself inside, and then call up his gang on the telephone, who will then go to the warehouse themselves.  He tells his gang:
"I'll trick Batman into close quarters... then I'll call you!  I'll stall him till you guys come and we'll have him bottled up!  Get going... and remember - WAIT FOR MY CALL!"
It's not a plan that really makes any sense.  Then again, he's already defeated Batman and Robin twice just by throwing pennies at them, so I guess we'll give him a pass.  Unfortunately, when he finally "tricks" the Caped Crusaders into the warehouse, this happens:
Because of his irrational obsession, he both blames pennies for all his problems, and then feels "betrayed" by them when they don't come to his rescue.  In other words, the perfect mentality to be a Batman villain.
After being captured, Joe Coyne is sentenced to death, and that's pretty much the last we ever hear from him.
SENTENCED TO DEATH!  And since The Penny Plunderer did not return for any future appearances, I have to assume they actually carried that sentence out.
His legacy lives on in the Batcave to the modern day, however, thanks to Batman's souvenir he kept from this case: The Giant Penny.  The Giant Penny went on to become way more famous the the Penny Plunderer.  Eventually "The Penny Plunderers" story was retconned to make Joe Coyne a bank robber who Two-Face crushed to death with the penny, turning the penny into a Two-Face trophy instead.  But don't worry, Coyne, even if the rest of the world forgets, you'll always live on in my heart.

The original appearance of the Giant Penny.
The Giant Penny in the Batcave, sixty years later.


Final Analysis:
Even though he lacks a colorful costume, and he only made one major appearance, with his insane fixation on pennies, and his classic addition to Batman's trophy collection, The Penny Plunderer easily joins the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains."

BONUS! MUSIC VIDEO:
Louis Prima - Pennies From Heaven



Friday, December 13, 2013

13 Christmas Songs for Creeps and Weirdos

Happy December 13th, everybody!  To celebrate today, which is both Friday the 13th and the 13th Day of Creepmas, I'm back with another batch of weird, creepy, perverted, and outrageous Christmas songs to help counteract all of the syrupy-sweet cheer that most Christmas songs make you endure.


1. Heather Noel - Santa Came On A Nuclear Missile
This song was made as a song-poem.  Song-poems were a fad in the 20th century when people would send their lyrics or poems to a company in the mail, and the company would write music to accompany it, and record it in a studio with professional musicians.  They were basically a scam, the companies would con the lyricist into thinking they would make a profit from song royalties after they paid to have the song recorded, no mater how bad the lyrics actually were.  The juxtaposition of awful and awkward amateur lyrics with professionally recorded music often makes for a bizarre listening experience, and this Christmas song is no exception.  In the lyrics, Santa Claus becomes a frightening alien figure seeming to threaten Nuclear Armageddon.

Sample lyrics:
"Instead of my favorite teddy bear, he gave me a gun that was a laser.  Santa came and took away my smile.  Santa came on a nuclear missile."



2. Gary Peterson - Santa Doesn't Smoke Anymore
Is smoking bad?  Sure it is.  But do we really need Santa Claus hijacked into this politically correct anti-smoking screed?  Probably not.  But that's what we get in this song, written by Larry Nestor and sung by Gary Peterson.  This is the same mindset of people who want Santa Claus to go on a diet because he's too fat.  I suppose next PETA will be on his case for abusing reindeer.  Just let Santa be Santa, people!  That's what I say.

Sample lyrics:
"Santa doesn't smoke anymore.  He threw away his pipe and tobacco.  Now he can laugh longer, and feels so much stronger.  He did it cold turkey, didn't go wacko!"




3. Martin Mull - Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope
Martin Mull addresses the serious problem of children leaving Santa marijuana instead of cookies, in this oddball classic.  This seems like a sarcastic "Weird Al" style parody of the previous song, "Santa Doesn't Smoke Anymore," except it was recorded seven years earlier.

Sample lyrics:
"All year long he's busy making toys for all the little girls and the little boys.
He puts them in his sled and gives his whip a crack.  On Donder, on Blitzen, but never on smack."



4. Squirrel Nut Zippers - Santa Claus is Smoking Reefer
Oh, Santa, make up your mind!

Sample lyrics:
"Santa Claus is smokin' reefer.  Santa Claus is smokin' tea.  Hes so high in the sky, stays loaded all the time."



5. De La Soul - Millie Pulled a Pistol On Santa
Millie's father is the department store Santa Claus, and a beloved figure in the community.  When he sexually abuses his daughter, no one believes her story... so she takes matters into her own hands, in this tragic track from De La Soul.

Sample lyrics:
"I give a point, she pulls a pistol, people screamin'.  She shouts to Dill, 'He's off to hell cuz he's a demon!'  None of the kids could understand what was the cause.  All they could see was a girl holdin' a pistol on Claus."



6. Stan Freberg - Nuttin' For Christmas
A gleeful celebration of a violent and anarchic boy on Santa's "naughty list."  He won't be getting any presents for Christmas, but that's okay, because he is getting a "cut" from the burglar he is letting rob his parents' home.

Sample lyrics:
"I broke my bat on Johnny's head; somebody snitched on me.  I hid a frog in sister's bed; somebody snitched on me."



7. Tales from the Crypt - Christmas Rap
Another twisted song featuring the vocals of John Kassir as "The Cryptkeeper" from the Tales from the Crypt album, "Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas."  In this one, The Cryptkeeper raps a list of Christmas wishes from various horror characters.

Sample lyrics:
"Jack the Ripper has a wish, and it's quite a pip.  He wants the Dallas Cowgirls cheerin' 'Hey Jack, let 'er rip!'  Lizzie Borden lost her folks, gave 'em 40 whacks.  She wants a brand new Mom and Pop, and, of course, an axe."



8. Spinal Tap - Christmas With the Devil
As usual, Spinal Tap's mock version of a heavy metal Christmas song leaves the real ones, such as Twisted Sister's version of "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful," or Dokken's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" in the dust.

Sample lyrics:
"The elves are dressed in leather and the angels are in chains.  Christmas with the Devil!
The sugar plums are rancid and the stockings are in flames.  Christmas with the Devil!"



9. Count Floyd - Reggae Christmas Eve In Transylvania
The vampiric denizens of Transylvania are frightened by reggae musicians in this oddball Christmas parody of The Monster Mash.

Sample lyrics:
"One Christmas Eve in Transylvania, the townsfolk were thrilled with a certain mania.  For on the night, when the sun went down, the scary Rastafarians came in to town!"



10. Bobby "Boris" Pickett - Monster's Holiday
Bobby "Boris" Pickett attempted to do for Christmas what "The Monster Mash" did for Halloween, with his follow-up single, "Monster's Holiday."

Sample lyrics:
"The tree was all trimmed in ghoulish things.  Like werewolf fangs and vampire wings."



11. Joseph Spence - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
This bizarre novelty song cover of "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," which sounds like it is being played and sung by a drunken homeless maniac, gets even weirder when you find out that this guy is a serious and respected artist, and this song is not a joke.  Seriously, check out the Wikipedia entry on this guy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Spence_(musician)

Sample lyrics:
"ya-deggey doke doke, yoou deggie doke doke...  sandeegor ees coming ooooown!"
(rough translation)



12. Bob Rivers - Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear
These new lyrics are a vast improvement over the original lyrics of "Winter Wonderland."  This is a good one to go caroling with.

Sample lyrics:
"In the store, there's a teddy.  With little straps, like spaghetti.  It holds me so tight, like handcuffs at night.  Walking around in womens' underwear."



13. Atomic Robot - Rudolph the Sexy Reindeer

Extra pervy song about how sexy Rudolph the Reindeer is.  By some weirdo who calls himself "Atomic Robot."

Sample lyrics:
"Oh, Rudolph, you're so sexy, with your tight Italian jeans (the kind the ladies like) and your thin, greasy mustache."





Merry Creepmas everybody!
- Joshua "Atomic Robot" Raymond








Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins
 Weird, ugly little monsters go on a terror and killing spree in a small town on Christmas Eve.  It should be a Creepmas classic, but it falls a little bit short, in my opinion.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I like it.  It's a good movie.  In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of the famous Mars Attacks trading cards from the 1960s, with it's dark humor, violence, and kid appeal. 

Spike Lurks in the Dark
 The problem I have with it is that it sort of straddles the line between a kiddie movie and an adult one, but as a result it doesn't quite work either way.  If we could have seen the gremlins kill people in more graphic detail, like with dismembered corpses, or the gremlins eating human flesh, that would have been awesome. Throw in some gratuitous nudity, and it would have been perfect!  Heck, the movie already has Phoebe Cates and Judd Nelson in it.  They should have just spliced in my favorite scene the pair shared from Fast Times at Ridgemont High in there.  It wouldn't have made any sense, but I wouldn't have complained.

Elton John was kind of weird in the '80s.
The film has some great bits of dark humor in it.  I loved Phoebe Cates's story of how her Dad died on Christmas Eve when she was a girl.  And the bit with the mom and her two kids with no food to eat was hilarious.  It just never got quite dark enough for me, though.  Alternately, I think the film could have worked very well if they had made the lead kids a little younger, and turned the film into a family friendly movie like E.T.  I just think the way it stands now, where it's not quite adult, and not quite kiddie, it just doesn't work as well as it should.   But it's still a fun way to spend a couple of hours in front of the tube, so I shouldn't complain TOO much.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it.  It was actually pretty funny and weird.  So please ignore this review.  Merry Creepmas, everybody!

Strung up Dog
Phoebe Cates Stabs Zack Gilligan (or whatever his name is) With a Ballpoint Pen
More screencaps after the jump, kids...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mixed-Up Movie Posters #7 - Santa Claus The Movie


I almost didn't post this one, because it's pretty weak, but I didn't have any other Creepmas posts ready to go today, and I really want to post something every day for the 13 Days of Creepmas.  Hopefully I'll have something a little better to post for tomorrow.

 UPDATE: So, apparently Google+ has this new feature called "Auto Awesome," that automatically adds snow or twinkles to your holiday photos when you upload them.  So after I uploaded this poster, I got a notification a few minutes later that they had added this to my Google+ account:


That's kind of cool, no?  I think it spices up this otherwise boring poster quite a bit.  So I thought I'd go ahead and share it.

Batman's Weirdest Villains: The Pied Piper



THE PIED PIPER

Real Name:  Unknown

Powers / Skills: The Pied Piper is a chemist and inventor.  He creates poisons, sleeping gasses, explosives, and smoke bombs in his lab, and then rigs them up to be used in all manner of pipes, including tobacco pipes, exhaust pipes, bagpipes, etc...

Weird Obsession:  The Pied Piper is obsessed with pipes.  All kinds of pipes... plumbing, smoking, whatever, as long as it has the word "pipe" in it.  He commits crimes using various pipes, and often targets people or places that have pipe-related names or themes.  Being obsessed with a particular type of pipe might make a little bit of sense, I guess, but all kinds of pipes?  I don't know, it seems a bit random.  It would be nice if we had an origin story that explained where his obsession came from, but nope, we don't.  My guess:  he saw René Magritte's "The Treachery of Images" in an art gallery, and it just blew his mind.

First Appearance: "The Pied Piper of Peril!" in Detective Comics #143


René Magritte's "The Treachery of Images"
This is not a pipe.

History:
In "The Pied Piper of Peril," we are introduced to the Pied Piper, who has just opened up a new store, "Ye Olde Pipe Shoppe," in Gotham City.  It's a weird store that sells all kinds of pipes: plumbing, flutes, smoking pipes, whatever you can think of.  You know, just like they used to do in ye olden days.  But, we learn the store is merely a front for the Piper's true vocation: CRIME!  Hidden in the shop is a secret laboratory, where the Piper creates his crime pipes!

"Rocket pipes, glow pipes, edible pipes, you name it!  I've got pipes that you can keep in your pocket, and pipes that you insert in your nose!  I've even got a pair of flexible pipes that can be worn like trousers!  Yes, sir, if you want pipes, you came to the right place!"
The next day, the Pied Piper and his gang rob the Farmer's Bank, using smoke-bomb rigged corn-cob pipes, just like the kind farmers (and Popeye) like to smoke.  Batman and Commissioner Gordon get together, and they both agree that this robbery heralds the "return" of the Pied Piper, which is kind of odd, as this comic is his first (and only) appearance.  I guess with so many villains obsessed with random objects, they all must blend together after awhile.  Whether they are obsessed with polka-dots, rainbows, pennies, cameras, pipes, or whatever, Batman doesn't really care, as long as he gets to punch them in the face.

"Well actually, Batman, I was going to say, 'the return of one of those freaks that you like to punch in the face.'  But, 'The Pied Piper' is good, too, I guess."
On a hunch, Batman and Robin decide to pay a visit to that odd new pipe shop that just opened up in town.  Unfortunately, while they both come away from the shop convinced that the owner is some kind of weirdo, there is nothing there to prove any connection to the Pied Piper's pipe crimes.

"Seriously, what kind of weirdo doesn't keep detailed records of everyone he sells a corn-cob pipe too?  And don't get me started on all of those f---ing pipes!"
The Pied Piper then goes on to commit a further series of pipe-related crimes.  Batman and Robin get frustrated with not being able to catch him, so they basically say, "screw it," and illegally break in to Ye Olde Pipe Shoppe after dark to search for clues.  Luckily there weren't any duly deputized officers of the law around to see them... oh wait.  Anyhoo, the Caped Crusaders find a clue to the Piper's next crime, and this time are able to catch him in the act.
Breaking and Entering with Batman
What I'm not clear on is what a wealthy Scotsman disposing of fabulous crown jewels has to do with HAM.

However, the Piper proves to be too slippery for the duo.  First he slides down a drain pipe, then he ducks into a sewer pipe, where he slows Batman and Robin down by blowing poison darts at them from a blow pipe.  From there, he travels to an abandoned amusement park (Gotham City is full of those things), where he knocks over Robin using a roller coaster car he quickly built himself using some "reinforcing" pipes that were on the coaster.  Finally he just straight up clocks Batman in the head with a lead pipe that he was conveniently laying around on the ground.  Basically, the moral to this story is that Batman and Robin are helpless around this guy if he has any kind of pipe within his reach.  He is the MASTER OF ALL PIPES.

Only the Master of All Pipes could pull off that move, and in the Tunnel of Love, no less.

The next day, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are sitting around at home, brooding over their defeat by the Pied Piper, when a radio bulletin comes on announcing that tomorrow will be the debut of THE WORLD'S LARGEST PIPE ORGAN at the Gotham City civic center.  You gotta hand it to the people of Gotham City.  When super criminals commit crime waves, do they hide in fear?  No!  In fact, it's almost like they double-down on the risk-taking, and dare the criminals to make a move.  Is Mr. Camera committing a spree of camera-related crimes?  According to Gotham, that's the perfect time to throw a photography convention! The Joker just broke out of Arkham?  Let's throw a "Joker's Wild" poker tournament in that old abandoned toy factory!  The Pied Piper is robbing anything even remotely related to "pipes?"  Let's build the world's largest pipe organ!  What could possibly go wrong?

Naturally, the Pied Piper and his gang show up for the debut.  There plan is to rig the pipe organ up to emit sleeping gas, and then rob the cash and jewels off of everyone in the audience.  But Batman and robin are waiting for them.  They prevent them from using the sleeping gas, and then get into a big, awesome fist fight with them on the oversized keys of the giant organ.

"Please, we give up!  Just stop with the terrible puns!"
The Piper escapes again, but this time Batman and Robin track him down to an old coal mine.  Inside the mine shaft, the Piper pulls out an exploding pipe from his pocket, and threatens to suicide bomb himself if they don't let him go.  But, as he says this, he accidentally back up into an old stovepipe, and then inhales the soot into his windpipe, causing him to choke, and allowing him to be captured.  You see, in the end, pipes were his undoing.  It's ironic.



Final Analysis:
The splash page of this comic described the Pied Piper like this:
"In their long careers as crime-smashers, Batman and Robin have clashed with a host of crafty desperadoes.  Time alone will tell which one of these master menaces proves to be the Dynamic Duo's most formidable foe, but high on any list of such candidates would undoubtedly appear the infamous name of the criminal who from within his unique world of pipes reached out to terrify the whole of Gotham City - that bizarre creature known as..."The Pied Piper of Peril!"

With a build-up like that, how could the Pied Piper not join the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains?"



BONUS! MUSIC VIDEOS:

Crispian St Peters - The Pied Piper


Weezer - Hash Pipe


AC/DC - It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll)
 Possibly the only time that BAGPIPES were ever cool.  Plus, oh my god, look how young Angus looks in that video!  Bon Scott, R.I.P.

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