Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Quiet, You Blithering Boob!

Ah, the American depiction of Britain . . .

Back in 1983, in the pages of Justice League Of America #210, the bad guys came a'calling to the shores of dear old Blighty bringing with them threats of death and destruction and some truly, truly terrible dialogue.

The story itself was not one of Gerry Conway's best: The Atom discovers Earth is running out of Element X which will cause untold disaster across the planet as fires won't light, rain won't fall, and the world will, as you can see from the cover, die screaming. Ready to take advantage of all this are a band of aliens called the Treasurers who, being the scheming capitalists that they are, offer to replenish the supply of Element X for a small fee.

And what better way of announcing your arrival than by crashing a bloody great space ship into Big Ben, years before Dr Who did it?

Actually, the Treasurers seem spoiled for choice as there appear to be not one but two Big Bens in that picture.

As dreadful as the story is, I couldn't help but laugh at the even worse dialogue that Conway places in the mouths of the Londoners.

First, for some reason only known to Conway, he has the character of Andy Capp appear in an issue of Justice League! Andy Capp! and not once, but twice as he's on the next page as well, accompanied by his long suffering wife Flo.

The bowler hatted gent - because everyone in London wears a bowler - comes out with "This is hardly cricket!" and then mentions that "the Yanks" have "dropped one on the moon" This is 1983! Fourteen years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon! Surely the surprise of that event must have worn off by now?!

Once the ship opens its doors and the Treasurers come out, someone in the crowd exclaims that they're riding "some sort of flashlight beam!"

Gerry, they're called torches over here, not flashlights, okay?

Somehow the bank clerk overheard the conversation in the street asking the Treasurers "if you aren't Yanks - then who are you?" proving that 1980's Londoners, in the grip of Yuppie fever, may not have had worthy dialogue but they could hear like nothing else!

As if building to some sort of cliche crescendo, Conway's next lines just get better and better. First another clerk warns the first that it "Won't do to lose the old stiff, upper lip, what?"

But that's not the best - this second clerk is hushed with the immortal line, "Quiet, you blithering boob!"

Marvelous, simply marvelous. I intend to use the phrase as often as I possible can from now on.

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