Friday, December 9, 2011

MASKS Commentary Track: Chapter 21

I think this chapter speaks for itself, essentially, so I’ll be brief.

This is the first chapter where we really get to see the effects of Rae’s stubbornness and determination. We’ve known all along that she was determined to get into the alpha track, and that she wouldn’t let a little thing like her lack of superpowers stop her—but I can’t imagine the awkward, slightly hesitant girl we met in Chapter 1 threatening to call a world-famous superhero Tinkerbell. The last six weeks have changed her character dramatically, and not necessarily for the better.

The method Rae uses to trap John Lawrence goes back to an old comic-shop discussion I had years ago where we were all trying to come up with unusual but vital things that Batman might have in his utility belt. Finally, someone (I don’t remember whether it was me or somebody else) suggested, “A microrecorder with a tape of Lois Lane screaming.” The idea was that whenever Batman was in real trouble, he’d be able to hit the button and Superman would hear Lois yelling for help. He’d never be able to resist such a summons, and he’d instantly come crashing to the rescue—which, we agreed, might get a little awkward once he realized his lady love wasn’t actually in peril (or at least, not in peril right there). We had great fun imagining Superman covering his eyes with one hand and saying, “Bruce, how many times have I asked you to throw that thing away?” as the newly freed Batman is trashing the last of the bad guy’s goons.

Amusingly, a few years after the argument, J. Michael Straczynski used a remarkably similar device in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, with equally hilarious results:

Now, I could have had Rae use a recording, but I decided John Lawrence’s super-ears would have to be able to tell a recorded scream from a real one (otherwise he’d be constantly swooping into living rooms to save people who were watching horror movies), so I went with the real thing. Screaming on command is no mean feat (I have real trouble doing it myself), so I gave the job to Tammy, that fount of previously undiscovered talents. And the rest is history.

This week’s soundtrack is “Urban Spaceman” by the Bonzo Dog Band (also called the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band), a novelty song that I’ve always thought would make a great soundtrack to a Superman fight scene:


  1. You do realize that Batman did something similar in the original Hush storyline, right?

  2. Yes, but Straczynski came first and was funnier.