All hours of the day and all days of the week are pressed together like a dozen lumps of Play-Doh, and the color is inevitably brown.

*52 Dept: Oh heavens, it seems that “History the DCU” has gotten so dull that not even all the words in the title are bothering to show up anymore. This installment is actually more interesting than usual, if only for the strange references made to Keith Giffen’s Justice League material “a questionable era” that we are swiftly assured “was not, as some postulated, for laughs.” At this point I suspect the whole thing has evolved to the level of either good-natured ribbing (Giffen is breakdown artist for the rest of the book, after all), or even self-conscious fanboy reaction in-jokery. But regardless of intent, the effect is to crack the knuckles of current continuity and strenuously assure readers that the most recent retcons are firm canon, and that the most recent of stories are indeed an accurate recounting of the true, now uncovered past. Because this is, after all, a history lesson.

Hey, I take what interest I can get.

Anyhow, we also get the expected bone-dry summaries of past storylines, this time covering the ‘death’ of Superman, the ‘crippling’ of Batman, the ‘evil’ of Hal Jordan, and Andy Helfer’s run on The Shadow. Whoops, actually I just imagined that last part. Next issue: Zero Hour!!

The primary story this issue is Hooray for Geopolitics (not actual title), in which the Green Lantern Corps find that pursuing a space fiend into international airspace is a troublesome task, especially when said nation has formed a new protective alliance with good ol’ Black Adam (painful lack of entrails this time out). Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose are back on art, so the copious bits of hitting have some decent weight to them, though I have to confess that I didn’t even pick up on how I was probably supposed to be noting the presence of Evil Star throughout the fight (since that is, after all, the fuel of irony for the sequence) - he just seems to lurch in at the conclusion, evidencing overcrowded and unintuitive staging. The bureaucracy-choked procedures the Chinese superheroes need to observe provide some easy chuckles, although (as is becoming par for this project’s course) the smaller bits prove more appealing, like another chat between Prof. Morrow and Dr. Magnus, and Booster’s stumbling onto what might be the plot for the rest of the project, drawn up in convoluted format on a chalkboard. Is Dr. Hunter holed up in the DC offices?

Super F*ckers #277 (actually #3)

That’s just another joke in writer/artist James Kochalka’s repertoire - there’s absolutely nothing in this book to indicate that it’s really the third issue. Even the legal indicia lists it as “#277.” For those not keeping track, issue #1 was called #271, with issue #2 dubbed #273. Thus, in the event that a random browser should happen upon a stray issue of Super F*ckers (and yeah, the legal title has the asterisk in it), and even if they managed the none-too-challenging determination that the series actually isn’t over two hundred issues long, they’d still be unable to determine which (if any) issues they happen to be missing. And these issues don’t stand alone - another part of the joke is that the book leaves chunks of plot explained in the nonexistent gap-filling issues, so that each actual issue will provide the reader with a slightly dizzy experience.

Not that the plot ever really matters in Super F*ckers, which might be Kochalka’s point. But by simulating the effect of being left out of the chapter-by-chapter action of a superhero comic, even to the mild degree as evidenced here, Kochalka forces the reader to focus just a little harder on the laughs, the dialogue, and the little scenes that hang around in the air while we wait to see what happened to SuperDan and Percy in Dimension Zero, or where that pink guy who was seeking revenge went. Maybe the team took care of him in issue #274 or thereabouts? To reemphasize: it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is your hunger for cute, gumball-colored characters engaging in grotesque acts of violence and spitting out ugly-yet-believable dialogue - all the things that would probably follow a gaggle of actual teenagers with superpowers, from my experience. So a pair of low-ranking team members are assigned to fetch cups from the basement in preparation for a team meeting, and they wind up both discovering a shocking secret and smoking up paint chips - the latter activity prove to be far more invigorating (to a friend that's just cracked his skull open on the wall: “How’s your fuckin’ skull, duder? I bet that didn’t even hurt, did it?”). Meanwhile, team girl Grotessa (it's kind of a boys' club) tries to hook up with sensitive Vortex, and nominal team leader Jack Krak (whose recent conversion to Christianity has not eliminated the fact that he's a burning asshole) attempts to solidify his place at the head of the local superhero table by bringing in Stumpy Lumpus, head of the team fan-club master of every last bit of club 'rules.'

That's another small gesture in the direction of overt satire - fanboy Lumpy proves to be quite mad about keeping the superhero 'rules' straight, turning to savage violence after someone suggests deviating from the path as set forth in the big red guide. "You will NOT burn the rule book!" he cries, having just stabbed someone's eye out with a sharp stick, "I've dedicated my whole life to studying this beautiful, perfect document, and you want to BURN it!?" Clearly some people have a bit too much invested in the minutiae of super-procedure, and it almost seems subtle as smothered in characters belting out lines like "...I'm GONNA FUCK your FACE with my FIST, bitch! In the goddamn name of Jesus: YAAAAARG!"

Lucky for Kochalka that his visual style is keyed to coaxing the maximum amount of entertainment from all this - what could have been a very simple, very boring attempt at 'cute + dirty = laffo' somehow winds up as a complete, logical visual universe for these characters to romp around in, the artist's unfailingly sweet designs matching the childish activities (some types of sex and violence being childish, as I'm sure you know) of the cast in a more immediate fashion than one might initially think. Even the waves of universal destruction that finally rip through it all are bright, flowing red and yellow and green. Like blood and urine and puke. Although the green actually is puke. Needless to say, it totally belongs among the component parts of this reality.