This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée jump into the deep end of bizarre cross-promotional comic books with Swordquest: Waterworld! In the mid-80s, Atari put out a series of video games and corresponding comic books that, together, created a puzzle-solving real world contest. It appealed to everyone from children to tech nerds to that kid in high school who drew swords on all of his folders. Unfortunately Atari folded before the series could be completed, leaving several jewel-encrusted prizes unclaimed and a comic about the misadventures of a couple of creepy teenage siblings unfinished. We'll just assume everyone died, as is the Darkseid's Couch tradition.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée are inspired to cut abdominal holes in their shirts after reading comic book/70s fashion magazine Black Goliath no. 1! That's right; Black Goliath, the size-altering character you might've heard of once although you were probably just thinking of Giant Man, finally has the solo series someone must've been clamoring for! What a lucky day it was for that guy! Hopefully BG's biggest fan wasn't hoping for anything socially relevant, though, because this book pretty much just features our hero flaunting his wealth and superpowers in the decaying urban neighborhood he grew up in and then retiring to his fabulous condo. Sounds like perfect Avengers material.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée head to the Outback for Uncanny X-Men no. 229! The year was 1988. The X-Men were on the run after being presumed dead and America was experiencing a brief yet bizarre obsession with Australian culture, so Marvel went ahead and smashed those things together with all the grace of a direct to VHS Crocodile Dundee sequel. Plus, meet the Reavers, a gang of meth-mouthed half-robots who still managed to figure out teleportation. So why can't you manage to get a car loan? It's starting to get embarrassing, bro.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée get an early Christmas present with the Alf Super-Size Holiday Special! By 1988, the fuzzy little alien demon had successfully dominated all of American culture. Alf had a hit tv show, a Saturday morning cartoon, a line of comics, and an adoptive human family with whom he shared a complex psychosexual power dynamic. Maybe it's reading between the lines, but try coming up with another reason why an alien who has mastered space travel and weather manipulation would be slumming it with a gang of suburbanites who desperately needed some excitement in their meaningless lives. Plus, a Darkseid's Couch first, as someone finally walks off the show in protest, presumably to go find their lost holiday cheer.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée develop Stockholm Syndrome reading Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth no. 3! Well, maybe not Shée, who starts this episode with prepared remarks in re: primates and how much they suck. For the rest of us, it's Planet of the Apes meets golden-haired twinks when warring apes battle over who gets to make Kamandi their smooth-legged slave. What starts as a good old-fashioned dystopian interspecies brawl becomes a poignant meditation on toxic relationships after Kamandi starts to sympathize with the raging gorilla who was literally trying to cave his skull in, like, four minutes earlier. Gotta learn to love yourself first, Kamandi. Plus, Joe Rogan finally sits on the Couch, more Kirby praise, and a request for new sign-off suggestions. Oh, and start exercising. That's not a joke, just get yourself together. You want your heart to hold old long enough to see a Kamandi movie, work those lats.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée meet the Jade Giantess herself in 1990's Sensational She-Hulk no. 18! Created as a copyright-protecting security measure, Shulkie outgrew her modest origins to eventually... fight a dentist. It's a canon-irrelevant fill-in issue where She-Hulk has to put up with the whining of Dr. Doom's fifth cousin Bob, a successful dentist who won't be satisfied til he has his own country as well. Honestly, that's just a really naive thing to want: Think of the maintenance costs, the zoning laws, the periodic purgings... Everybody knows you don't want to own a country, you just want to be friends with the guy who owns a country. Also, remember that time Dr. Doom cried about 9/11? Don't let the mainstream media tell you it didn't happen.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée read the first issue of 1975's The Cougar live while recording! Sure, it's a confusing reading experience, but this is an industry where radiation exposure gives you superpowers instead of plain old Leukemia, so logical storytelling was already on the backburner. Anyway, stuntman Jeff Rand is a reasonably in-shape guy who mooonlights as the Cougar, an adventurer who gets backhanded by monsters and probably kinda likes it. That's about it. Plus, vampire finger fetishes, the unwokeness of Three's Company, and R-rated plans for the Darkseid's Couch Instagram account.
This time on the Couch: Mike, James, and Shée celebrate their 90th episodes with the spookiest Batman of all, as the Dark Knight meets Dracula in 1991's Red Rain graphic novel! It's an era of giant ears and bulbous double-chins as deranged artist Kelley Jones creepifies this tale of two creatures of the night clashing over the best way to not help the homeless of Gotham City! Dracula wants to turn them into his villainous army of the undead, while Batman prefers to just ignore them entirely. As if that wasn't enough, some vampire lady has been sneaking into Bruce Wayne's bed at night and fondling him while he's asleep, which is definitely going to be a major topic in therapy after he suffers from the total psychological collapse we all know is coming any day now. Plus, was Red Rain always a Peter Gabriel song? It used to be Sting, right? It definitely used to be Sting. Must be the Mandela Effect.
This time on the Couch: It's a very special episode of America's only comic book podcast [verification needed] as Mike, James, and Shée spotlight five forgotten pre-Wonder Wonder female superheroes! Meet Amazona, who will systematically ruin your existence if you call her 'babe'! Wildfire, who taught kids everywhere that fire can't hurt you if you're not afraid of it! Mother Hubbard, with the power of being an old haggy witch who can still afford to own a house somehow! Fantomah, who uses skeleton powers to turn people into godless abominations! And Margot the Magician, who hypnotizes Nazis and just kinda leaves them there to deal with that shit! Sure, the stories may've been crude and racist, and the morals ethically questionable, and maybe their best features were stripped from them and injected into male power fantasies that warped the worldviews of generations to come, but... there's not really a great way to end that sentence. Plus, keep up to date on the latest "Reagan shutting down mental institutions" news by following Shée at @reaganshutmdown, and James forgets to thank comicbookplus.com for housing all this public domain goodness in the first place! Oops!
This time on the Couch: Not a repost! Not a typo! Not an imaginary episode! Mike, James, and Shée are still reading the Inhumans! In 1976's Inhumans no. 3 the group decides to go all Muppets Take Manahattan and head to the big city to beg some real superheroes to help them figure out why their town sucks so bad. Unfortunately for the Inhumans, hot on their trail is Kree supersoldier Shatterstar, who had a perfectly good costume going until he decided to paint the spinning Apple colorwheel on his chest like he was having trouble loading up Keynote. All that plus the return of lovable giant bulldog Lockjaw, and James tells the world the things he had to Judo chop to survive the mean streets of Detroit.
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