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What Were They Thinking/Some People Never Learn

Posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
By: Shaun Manning



Writers: Keith Giffen & Mike Leib, John Rogers, Chris Ward, and Andrew Cosby
Artists: Lost to the Annals of History

Publisher: Boom! Studios

The second volume of What Were They Thinking, Boom! Studios's big effort in humorous rescriptery, is an incredible good time. While the first issue added new dialogue to old war stories, Some People Never Learn takes on sci-fi adventure. This time around, too, the jokes are much funnier and cover a bit broader range of wit (Journal My War was essentially one long "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" gag). And God, it's funny.

Thing number one is by Keith Giffen and Mike Leib, and features "Earth's Fussiest Defender" fighting giant hygiene products from space. Giffen and Leib make extensive use of over-the-top exposition and metatextual caption-whining to make the reader pee with laughter. There's also a good deal of "inappropriate response" humor, and the occasional scatology perfumed by finesse.

Exhibit B comes to us courtesy of Giffen's Blue Beetle pal, John Rogers. Here, a wealthy businessman takes a journey to the center of the mind, where he must confront his desires. It's almost cheating to take on a premise with such inherent comedy gold. The payoff is brilliant, touching on all the expected phobias and throwing in a few other bizarre little quirks to make it personal.

Chris Ward steps up third with a warning about the insidious power of White Castle. Another fun idea, with just the faintest whiff of anti-globalization politics, the main attraction here is the far-future war between White Castle and the Underground McDonald's Resistance. Ward sets the tale more than 1000 years in the future, which I'd wager is a bit optimistic. Highlights include the first appearance of the Fajita Caliph and "graven images of Mayor McCheese."

The fourth estate is another cautionary tale, this time looking at time travel. Andrew Cosby examines why it's a bad idea to tinker with time, even for something as important as the continuing legacy of the Star Wars films. The funniest joke, though, is an absurd non-sequitur. See if you can find it.

Wrapping things up is Chris Ward again, the lucky bastard. Here, the Notorious B.O.W.T.I.E. is hypnotized into medieval times. I am as stunned as you are.

Rescripting seems to be coming back in vogue, as Marvel's semi-regular series of Romance Redux is catching on and Boom!'s What Were They Thinking makes its second appearance. When these things work, they work very well; when they tank, they tank indeed. It is also strange to observe that, despite employing several writers per issue, most of these things are either uniformly excellent or flesh-crawlingly terrible throughout. Luckily, Some People Never Learn soars, standing out as an example of just how clever the genre can be.



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