- The Marvel character took every chance to mock and make fun of DC Comics and its iconic heroes.
- Slapstick’s jokes at DC’s expense were groan-inducing, but they never crossed into outright offensiveness or malice.
- He proved that parody humor can be funny without being mean-spirited, striking a balance between mockery and goodwill.
Marvel’s Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man have become some of the most iconic characters to come from The House of Ideas. However, DC’s Superman and Batman are arguably the most famous comic characters of all time. Most are also aware of their iconic origin stories, from the catastrophic destruction of the planet Krypton to the murder of the Wayne family.
As famous and tragic as many of these stories are, there are still a few choice individuals that not only just don’t care, but also think they’re pretty funny. Marvel’s walking, talking Tex Avery cartoon come-to-life maybe-hero Slapstick is 100% that kind of person and skewered DC Comics every chance he got.
Slapstick Took No Prisoners When He Made Fun of DC in His Solo Series
The Awesome Slapstick (Vol. 1) #1
Len Kaminski, James Fry, Terry Austin, Joe Rosas, and Bill Oakley
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In many ways, Slapstick has the classic Marvel Comics formula down pat. A young junior high schooler, Steve Harmon is a master practical joker. The only things Steve cares about are playing video games, reading comics, and chasing after girls. When a carnival comes to town, Steve dresses up as a clown and sneaks into the festivities, he plans to play a huge prank on his arch-rival, another boy named Winston.
When Winston and his date, a girl named Heather, are kidnapped by a gang of weird clowns, Steve gives chase, a decision that ends up warping him into another dimension. Stranded in the Realm of the Scientist Supreme of Dimension X, Steve realizes that he’s been transformed into a living cartoon version of himself. Armed with wild new powers, Steve manages to save Winston and Heather while also defeating the evil Overlord, a conqueror who had his eye set on Earth.
Returning home from the bizarre alternate dimension, Steve found that he was still able to transform into his alter ego, Slapstick. Steve’s powers as Slapstick include super regeneration, invulnerability, and reality warping. Slapstick is, for all intents and purposes, a living cartoon. Steve’s life becomes infinitely more interesting as Slapstick, even though he still has to go to school. Run-ins with wacky supervillains and disgruntled superheroes become the norm for Steve. However, another popular pastime for Slapstick is making fun of DC Comics’s biggest heroes with zero remorse.
The very first issue of Slapstick’s series begins with a giant stab at Superman as it shows the destruction of the planet Krypton. Rather than waxing philosophical on the inevitable downfall of Kyrpton’s elite scientists from their hubris, Slapstick flat-out laughs and says, “Too bad for them!” When Steve dresses up as a clown and sneaks into the carnival to prank Winston, a giant sign can be seen behind him proudly advertising the feats of the “Falling Graysons,” a direct rag on how Dick Grayson lost his parents and became the first Robin. The Boy Wonder wasn’t the only member of the Bat Family that got spoofed, though, as Slapstick decided the best means of dealing with an enraged loser Punished wannabe was to dress up as Batman. Even Steve’s entrance into the dimensional portal that transformed him into Slapstick proclaimed the most classic of onomatopoeia’s, “Sha-Zam!”
Slapstick’s Jokes Were a Perfect Representation of Changing Tastes in the 90’s
Super Speed, Agility, and Reflexes
An Extra-Dimensional Pocket That Stores His Weapons (Such as Gertrude, His Favorite Hammer)
Toon Force Style of Reality Warping
Marvel and DC have always enjoyed a friendly rivalry over the years, what with being the two largest comic book companies in history. DC has injected friendly cameos and references to Marvel’s heroes in their comics and Marvel has even brought one of the fastest members of the Justice League directly into their stories. There have been numerous events where DC and Marvel have crossed over officially, with 1996’s DC Vs Marvel (by Ron Marz, Peter David, Dan Jurgens, and Claudio Castellini) and 2003’s JLA/Avengers (by Kurt Busiek and George Perez.) But never quite before has a Marvel character taken such ghoulish glee in not only referencing DC’s biggest heroes but completely dragging them at the same time.
The late ’80s and early ’90s were a very transformative era for the comics industry. As paradigms began to shift and the caliber of superheroes that fans enjoyed began to change, so too did the perception of classic superheroes. The staunch heroes of yesteryear were replaced by the edgy and violent anti-heroes of the day, with the likes of Punisher, Wolverine, and a newly revamped Daredevil taking center stage. DC’s biggest heroes were put on the chopping block as the wave of superheroics took the industry by storm.
Slapstick’s jabs and ribs at DC’s biggest names are par for the course for when it came out. This isn’t to say that there was and is anything wrong with DC’s characters, but decades of melodrama and grim origins can do with the occasional japes now and then. Slapstick’s jokes at DC’s expense were groan-inducing, but they never crossed over into territory that was outright offensive or malicious. There are only so many times you can hear Batman’s monologue about being the Dark Knight and the World’s Greatest Detective before you have to yawn.
Slapstick Proved That Parody Humor Can Be Funny Without Being Outright Mean
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Unfortunately, Slapstick hasn’t been seen a lot since his early ’90s debut. He popped up from time to time during various Marvel events but never starred in his own series again until 2016’s self-entitled Slapstick (by Reilly Brown, Fred Van Lente, and Diego Olortegui.) Slapstick’s latest adventures have involved him running amok with the Mercs For Money crew led by Deadpool, fighting C-List villains like Quasimodo, and getting into huge brawls with Conan the Barbarian knock-offs. Life sure is tough for a sexually frustrated teenager stuck within the Electroplasm-based body of a walking cartoon character. Things could always be worse, though; at least Slapstick isn’t a cursed werewolf that got pumped with a silver poison by an evil future corporation.
It’s completely okay for a company to take aim at fellow comic companies and get a few laughs at their expense. Howard the Duck was far more ruthless when he came across an entire house full of Vertigo comics heavy-hitters. Marvel has even taken jabs at itself in some of the most completely wild and unhinged manners possible (looking at you, Power Pachyderms.) Successful parodying requires that the jokes being made are actually funny. As humor is subjective, it’s important to remember to keep a sense of goodwill and fun about the riffing and not to simply be mean for the sake of being mean. Slapstick performed this balancing act well. He completely tore into DC, but did so with a twinkle in his eye.
- Reilly Brown, Fred Van Lente
- Diego Olortegui
- Cover Artist
- Ron Lim, David Nakayama, Rahzzah, Bobby Rubio, Pasqual Ferry, Rob Liefeld
- Marvel Comics
- Release Date
- December 7, 2016
- Jim Campbell