In the early ’70s the children’s record label Peter Pan had a problem; namely it was the name Peter Pan. We can now see that as a symbol of innocence wrapped up in Freudian angst and schadenfreude, but back then one imagines all the label chiefs seeing is a boy in tights that plays with Tinkerbell and is, on stage, most often portrayed by women. Meanwhile, the company was putting out male-oriented, action-type, manly (boyly?) comic-book and records like their G.I. Joe series. Peter Pan as a moniker wasn’t cutting it.
In came their imprint Power Records. You think the battle lines between D.C. Comics and Marvel Comics is airtight, but at Power there was all kinds of inter-philanderin’ détente going on. Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spidey and, heck, let’s throw Conan The Barbarian, Star Trek and Space 1999 in there too, how ’bout it?
Now it is 2012 and “book” and “record” seem as compatible as “yoga position” and “wheat thresher,” but two people remember. Way Out Wednesday’s kiddie record guru Tony Redman and resident regressive and altogether suspicious subject Dw. Dunphy jump headlong into the jagged pile of vinyl from their collective youth…with Power! Read along with us, kids! Okay?!! (download PDF)
“Stacked Cards” from Batman (download)
Tony – I’m eager to hear this first story featuring the Joker. Is this silly Joker or scary Joker?
Dw. – Well, this came out more than a decade before Tim Burton’s Batman movie, but there is a slight similarity, story-wise, so let’s go with scary.
(0:00) Tony – I like the jazzy music at the start.
Dw. – It’s just like the beats all over again, bongos and everything. Ginsburg in blue tights. Ferlinghetti killing people. Exactly the same.
(0:31) Tony – Jeez, was Chief O’Hara too busy to hang around?
Dw. – Whenever there’s crime to solve, you know where Chief O’Hara will be…hiding in the mens room with Catwoman’s mugshot.
(0:39) Tony – So does he know his vandals by the kinds of rocks they throw?
Dw. – “When you’ve been the law as long as I have, you’ve seen a lotta rocks lobbed at you…except for the ones that put you in a coma.”
(0:55) Tony – Nice shout out to Arkham. They at least know a little bit about the comics.
Dw. – Yeah, and the original book that came with this seems to have been drawn by Neal Adams. We should get confirmation from Johnny Bacardi on that one.
Johnny Bacardi – Judging by what I’ve seen after Googling it, I’d say it sure looks like Adams, unless some of the Crusty Bunkers (a collective of assistants he had in the mid-70′s) pitched in. Looks like Adams with (Dick) Giordano inks to me, though.
Dw. – Thanks, JB! (It’s so good to have experts on the staff…)
(1:09) Tony – Do you think the Joker really had to sign that note? I mean, it was pretty obvious who it was. And with all the bad guys around I’d think the Gotham City Police Station might have bulletproof glass (or at least rock proof).
Dw. – That was just Power Records teaching kids to be polite. Always remember to sign your death threats, kids.
(1:26) Tony – Oh yeah, a 306. What’s a 306, anyway? I couldn’t find that number specifically, but it would be between 288 (Lewd Conduct) and 311 (Indecent Exposure).
Dw. – It appears to be “Liability for conduct of another; complicity.” Wasn’t Complicity J.J. Abrams’ first TV show, with the pretty blonde with the long curly hair that always drove the getaway car?
(1:50) Tony – Wait a minute. Didn’t he contact the Commissioner already?
Dw. – Ain’t nothing funny about Alzheimer’s, you Peter Pan Records bastards…
(1:59) Tony – Where have I heard Robin’s voice before? It sounds like someone from a cartoon, but I can’t place it.
Dw. – It’s not Casey Kasem, or as I refer to him, America’s Gielgud…which reminds me. I have to go shut off the oven. You have to let your Gielgud rest for fifteen minutes so the juices redistribute.
(2:06) Tony – Didn’t they have Aunt Harriet around to avoid that kind of thing?
Dw. – Sure, but boys will be boys when you’re off tenting your Gielgud with foil.
(2:21) Tony – “What? No, I’m not interested in free dance lessons!” (How old a joke is that?)
Dw. – I won’t dance; don’t ask me.
(3:17) Tony – *spit take* Did he say “frontal lobotomy”? Well, thanks for that diagnosis, Dr. Grayson!
Dw. – Oh yes, “Guernica,” “Starry Night,” and “The Scream” are all in safe hands. Yes, this schlub’s hands!
(4:32) Tony – I guess they can’t say “dead” on a children’s record.
Dw. – He’s sleeping. Very soundly. I SAID, HE’S SLEEPING VERY, Oh, screw it. He’s dead.
(4:37) Tony – It never happens to the guys that have another ten or fifteen years before retirement, does it?
Dw. – That’s how they get out of paying pensions. They send Mike Bloomberg down with a shiv. (I’m NOT inferring that billionaire Mike Bloomberg kills people to keep from paying police pensions. Just that, y’know, it could work!)
(5:36) Tony – Yeah, excellent detective work, Mulligan. Especially since the Joker threw a rock through the window earlier that day.
Dw. – Be nice, Tony. Throw him a Mulligan. Hooh-haah!! T’ank yah, ladies and germs!
(5:58) Tony – Robin seems a little too preoccupied with “action.”
Dw. – He’s a growing boy hanging around a grown man in blue tights. Bound to happen.
(6:00) Tony – “In spades”? Nice one, Robin!
Dw. – Bruce Wayne is kind of like the guy who finds out that he had a teenage son from a random booty call fifteen years earlier, now he’s on his doorstep and, worse, he’s about as funny as a punctured condom.
(6:39) Tony – “Duh, I tripped on something!” Idiot.
Dw. – Excuses, excuses. You know damn well Robin’s getting drunk in the morning to hold his demons down. “Tripped…” Hah, he wishes!
(6:45) Tony – Wow, I guess they can say “dead”. That’s the second corpse today. Man, the Joker doesn’t fool around. I remember back when he was perfectly content throwing rocks through the Commissioner’s window.
Dw. – And here’s where we have that similarity to the movies, because whatever The Joker’s using, it sure acts a lot like Smilex. Or he told them a funny joke and beat them to death with a rock. He loves rocks.
(7:29) Tony – Apparently they’re exploding clubs.
Dw. – That’s why they issue liquor licenses. (What? Too soon?)
(7:55) Tony – Then why didn’t he just say “Holy Smoke!”?
Dw. – Where’s the Tea Party when you need ‘em? Someone should declare war on Holy Smoke.
(8:22) Tony – Arkham Asylum has a swimming team?
Dw. – An effective one too. They all take turns trying to drown each other. Last one alive is champion.
(9:11) Tony – Well, sure. A super villain who’s already killed two men is completely helpless in three feet of mud. Go get ‘im, officers!
Dw. – Felled by grime! Curse you, Batman! You’ve summoned two of the elements against me!
(9:47) Tony – I thought I heard somebody singing “Clementine”!
(10:17) Tony – Of course it’s hot. It’s been stolen! (Rimshot)
Dw. – It’s so sad that, by comparison, the museum guy makes Mulligan look like a genius. Oh, Mulligan, you drunken Irish dunce, what would we do without you and your convenient stereotype?
(11:11) Tony – I don’t remember there being a Joker in the Game of Life. Just a cool spinner and those little cars that you couldn’t stick all your peg children into.
Dw. – Imagine the possibilities though. “Batman, you sank my battleship!” or, “Yahtzee, Caped Crusader!” or, “Why I’d love to play a round of Naked Twister with you and Robin.”
(11:58) Tony – Yeah, frontal lobotomies solve everything!
Dw. – Indeed! Frontal lobotomies for everyone! First brain-scramble’s on me!
Tony – What a fun story, but I was disappointed that we didn’t get any good jokes from the Joker though. No exploding jack-in-the-boxes or joy buzzers that actually shock people or anything like that. For an arch criminal, he didn’t do anything very arch, did he?
Yuck. A slab of Kasem probably would have been less salty.