Howard the Duck #5-7
Howard the Duck #8
The new characters in the Treasury story are parodies of others that Gerber wasn't impressed with. Sitting Bullseye=Thunderbird, The Spanker=The Punisher, Matilda The Hun=Red Sonja, Dr. Angst=uh...Dr. Strange's occasional stiffness? Black Hole=?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 11, 2011 6:51 AM
Rev. June Moon Yuc is a parody of Sun Yung Moon and his Moonies, who also got targeted on Saturday Night Live as "Night of the Living Moonies".
Issue #6 is a parody of the then-old hat Gothic Romance genre, the title referencing DC books like "Secrets of Sinister House" and "Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love". DC was really big on scary architecture.
Another reference to "Five Characters In Search of a Plot".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 21, 2011 11:16 PM
FOOM#15 called Sitting Bullseye the "Human Bullseye".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 31, 2013 5:58 PM
Regarding the Treasury Edition villains, I've not read the issue, but Black Hole might be a parody of Ulysses Bloodstone, who had a gem embedded in his chest, and Dr Angst of Modred the Mystic.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | August 9, 2014 5:06 AM
Wow - I read this as a kid so the subtext of the villains being commentaries on other characters completely went over my head.
And Dr. Angst lays it on REALLY thick, too:
"We all share a common fault! None of us has ever had an original thought in his or her life! That's why -- DESPITE our prodigious talents -- no one's ever heard of any of us! We're too DERIVATIVE -- too stereotypical -- even to make a name for ourselves as super-villains!"
I agree with Luke that Dr. Angst is probably a commentary on Modred, but I think the Black Hole is supposed to be Nova. The star on the face, the "cosmic phenomenon" line, and the fact that the Black Hole is apparently a teenager just like Rich Rider. The origin he recounts is pretty similar to Nova's as well. The powers are totally different, of course.
Posted by: Dan H. | December 8, 2014 8:28 PM
Building on my comment above:
I realized after I wrote that "the powers are totally different" that they're really just opposites.
A Nova propels matter away. A Black Hole draws it in. It's more complicated than that in how their powers manifest, but not much.
Posted by: Dan H. | January 31, 2015 4:32 PM
Dan, that's a better guess than mine, as I think "the Black Hole sucks" is intended as metacommentary, and it's easier to imagine Gerber feeling that strongly about Nova. The "derivative" and "bland" slams also don't really fit Bloodstone.
Star-Lord could be another possibility - he also had a star design on his helmet - but I can't say he's a better one than Nova. I like your point about the match between the Nova and Black Hole names.
Sitting Bullseye might be a parody of Red Wolf. When the treasury appeared Thunderbird had been dead for a year, and he'd only appeared briefly. Red Wolf had held his own title,(1) and had recently appeared in several of the Tigra issues of MARVEL CHILLERS.
Alternatively, Sitting Bullseye might be a parody of American Eagle. On fnord's page on MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #6 Mark wrote that American Eagle was originally going to appear in 1976, and parts of the issue were prepared then. Gerber could have known about him. The two characters carried similar weapons; Sitting Bullseye a bow and arrows, American Eagle a crossbow and arrows. Red Wolf didn't carry arrows, but he did use Native American weapons.
(1) This initially featured an Old West version, and the modern day version in the final issues had a different secret ID to the AVENGERS version. But they all looked much the same.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 21, 2015 1:24 PM
The characters Gerber parodied may have been ones he saw as particularly derivative. The Punisher was modelled after Don Pendleton's the Executioner. Gerber may have thought Modred too much like Doctor Strange. The characters we've suggested as the model for Sitting Bullseye could all be considered cliched, and there had been many archers and Native American heroes in comics. But I'm not sure Red Sonja fits this pattern. At the time Marvel had two other sword-wielding heroines, Sif and Valkyrie. But they had never had their own features. I suppose it could be argued Red Sonja's feature was a variation on Conan's, but it's not like Marvel had only one superhero. He bikini look was similar to Shanna the She-Devil's, but Tille the Hun doesn't parody that element.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 21, 2015 1:43 PM
The Black Hole probably is based on Nova; I just didn't think of him. I find that character really forgettable for some reason...
I'm convinced Sitting Bullseye is based on Thunderbird. They're both almost identical from the neck up, plus the bullseye on S.B.'s chest is a reference to the(no longer in use in any media) "Dead Indian" trope--which Thunderbird was certainly guilty of.
Tillie the Hun says at one point that she'll marry the first man to defeat her, which to me is a dead giveaway that she's a Red Sonja parody. I'm not sure if Sonja was considered derivative by anyone, but the whole celibate-until-defeated-by-a-man aspect was criticized by a lot of fans and critics, especially female ones.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 21, 2015 2:00 PM
Come to think of, the names of the characters may have come first, and may have originated as Gerber's snarky nicknames for the characters parodied. As a nickname 'Tillie the Hun' would be a slam on Red Sonja's truculence, which is also mocked by Tillie's dialogue in the splash panel.
That Gerber nicknamed characters like this is my speculation, but if this guess is right it strongly supports your case, as Thunderbird is the character the nickname Sitting Bullseye could fit.(1)
"Dr. Angst" as a nickname for Modred would mean "just like Dr. Strange, only with more angst". I've not read the Modred stories so I can't say if this fits him. But given the period I'm guessing it does.
I compared Red Sonja to Sif and Valkyrie. The DEFENDERS version of Valkyrie reportedly debuted a week after Red Sonja.
Gerber bought the villains from the treasury back during his run on SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK.
(1) Because he was arguably not powerful enough to be an X-Man, and was so quickly marked for death. Brian Cronin quotes an account of Dave Cockrum's about how the decision to kill him came about at http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2005/10/13/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-20/2/ .
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 22, 2015 12:12 AM
The story title has to be a nod to the Twilight Zone episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit."
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 19, 2016 10:42 AM
There was also an absurdist play in the 1920's, Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Posted by: Andrew | March 19, 2016 2:20 PM
The Twilight Zone episode title combines the Pirandello play title Andrew mentioned above with Satre's No Exit- that's two authors I could see Steve reading. His affinity for Existentialism was documented in a couple of good interviews. The combined title reflected elements of both plays in the TZ plot- I'll have to give that a watch!
I think the comments ferret out the origins of these absurd characters, but along with that point, Steve gave them comedic twists- much like the later Venture Brothers. The relationship between the characters and author satirized here echoes Pirandello's play, which is an excellent read. His Enrico IV is even better.
Who says this isn't the Age of SuperMonkey Literary references?
Posted by: Cecil | March 21, 2016 7:36 PM
@Cecil - Thanks for the information.
There is a lot about Steve Gerber's writing that I did not pick up on when I was younger. It's interesting that his humor was such a mixture of the crass and the sophisticated. Obviously his work is not everyone's taste, but over the years I've grown to appreciate him.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 23, 2016 8:10 PM