So, a guy walks into a used book store… And then he spends an hour sifting through the dusty bins and long boxes underneath the shelf of premium comic books. This is the story of what he finds.
Today’s buried treasure is Sergio Aragones Destroys DC, a comic, which I had no idea existed until I came across it in the third of five long boxes in the “S” section of the discount bins at Book Nook on Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn, GA. I went into the place looking specifically for some Spider-Man: Clone Saga comics and when my thumb passed over this cover I was given pause. Sergio Aragones’ Groo was one of the first comics I ever owned as a kid and, like many 80s children, I grew up reading Mad Magazine specifically for Aragones’ cartoons. I especially loved the ones he would do in the margins of random pages. So a comic in which Sergio Aragones destroys anything at all is something I’m seriously interested in.
First of all, it’s called Sergio Aragones Destroys DC. Right off the bat that lets me know two things: 1) It’s going to be an exceptionally terrible, pun-riddled 90s “humor” comic in which the mainstays of the DC Universe will be lampooned by some writer turning in a half-assed script (in this case it’s Mark Evanier) as an excuse to allow the good Mr. Aragones draw some funny pictures, and 2) it’s going to be amazing.
Indeed, it is all of those things.
It starts out with Martian Manhunter responding to a cry for help, which turns out to be Hawkman foretelling the doom of the entire DCU by saying doom so many times that it’s just got to be funny, right? This sequence introduces the plot of the book.
The next scene shows Aragones at a drafting table with Evanier lamenting the fact that his career has ebbed so low that he has to write this comic (it’s meta!). Then it becomes an anthology comic showcasing really terribly unfunny retellings of Superman’s and Batman’s origins, a unabashedly misogynistic Wonder Woman story, and an actually really fun and charming Legion story.
At the end of each of these short sections Hawkman flies into the scene to shout “doom” some more, which marks the end of each story as the spotlighted character then joins Hawkman to fight some vague threat.
It’s a really, really terrible comic book even though Aragones’ art is just absolutely terrific and rich with all the little intricacies for which his fans love him. There’s about seven other little background things like this happening on this one page from the Superman story, and this one is my favorite. Only Sergio Aragones could transform the horror of deadly ricocheting bullets into something fun.
And here’s Wonder Woman rescuing a pervert from a mugger. What you don’t see is the panel in which a hundred other men run up to her asking to be tied up and beat also. And then the pervert she rescues offers her money to do it to him next time. The 90s! (Interesting side note: The Wonder Woman story was inked by John Byrne.)
This right here is my favorite page of the Legion story. In it, a bunch of would be Legionnaires audition for membership. Since they’re all sucky heroes with sucky powers they don’t get in. I don’t know a whole lot about the Legion of Superheroes, but from what I do know this is totally a scene that could have been in the regular, non “humor” version of the comic.
After the stars of the DCU get their time in the spotlight Hawkman gathers the Justice League on a random uninhabited planet to face the vague threat he was shouting about earlier. I have to admit, I was expecting the villain to actually be Aragones and Evanier since the book is calledSergio Aragones Destroys DC written by Mark Evanier and they would all jump out of the page on the drafting table and fight Aragones’ and Evanier’s cartoon selves. But no. The actual villain is…
… Johnny DC. So, pretty much this comic is the basis of the video game Epic Mickey.
Johnny DC goes on to describe his fall from grace and why he became evil and there’s an actually funny bit in which he’s about to bed a woman and he opens his robe to reveal his logo and the woman laughs at him for being a “comic book fan.” If I had a nickel…
Then something magical happens. Johnny DC all of a sudden “updates for the 90s” before the Justice Leaguers’ eyes in what is maybe the most get-off-my-lawn-you-
It turns out this entire comic book was written as a jab at the state of comics in the 90s, which, looking back, we can all recognize as objectively awful, but it takes a special kind of crankiness to bemoan the state of 90s comics within the pages of an extremely 90s comic. To be fair, if anybody had the right to do such a thing it was friend of Jack Kirby and frequent collaborator Mark Evanier. And in the end, Extreme 90s Johnny DC is tricked into saying his name backwards (um, what?) sending him back to the 5th Dimension, I guess, and the Justice League walks off into the sunset after resolving to be more like they were when Johnny DC first knew them.
I did a little bit of research and discovered that this comic (along with it’s companion book Sergio Aragones Massacres Marvel) actually won the Eisner Award for “Best Humor Publication” in 1997. It also won the book’s editor, Don Raspler, the Eisner Award for “Best Editor” that year.
Cover Price: $3.50
Price I paid: $3.50 divided by two then divided again by three. Book Nook’s price structures are weird.
Thanks for reading, everyone!