Saturday, December 30, 2006

Deadman Was Dead

To begin with - there was no doubt whatsoever about that. The register of his burial was signed by Superman, Batman, the Phantom Stranger and Ultra, the Multi-Alien. I signed it: and my name was good for anything I put my hand to. Deadman was as dead as a door-nail.

So why in Christ's ass he chose to shove his face through my door-knocker - the brand new door-knocker I'd just purchased for $49.99 plus tax, in order to spruce up my home in time for the inevitable wake that would follow my plunge into the icy depths below the Keystone Bridge - I will never know. It's not like he was ever particularly good-looking anyway, so why he thought his hideous features would improve the look of my property is beyond me.

Anyway, once I saw his horrific fizzog tarnishing the valuable metal of my door with ectoplasm, I knew I was probably in for some sort of lecture, so I got a quick meths in while I could. Sure enough, the deceased bastard burst through the wall in a self-consciously 'spooky' manner and proceeded to ramble on for several hours about the true meaning of Christmas and how if I failed to listen to his interminable warnings then an eternity of lugging around some heavy chains would be mine.

"Bah! Humbug!" I snorted, taking another swig of meths. "This is quite obviously a plot by a cosmic space supervillain to ruin my elegant suicide with Christmas-based foolery. There's more of Grayven than of grave about you, whatever you are!" But no matter how I tried to duck out of it, it seemed as though I was doomed to spend my Christmas Eve being moaned at by a ghostly trapeze artist and a trio of other assorted dead freaks. There was nothing for it but to finish my bottle of meths and steel myself for the worst.

Sure enough, the worst came strutting through the door in a red and pink suit. Oh Christ, I thought, it's the Red Bee.

"Ha ha! I'm the Ghost Of Christmas Past - the Red Bee! How kitschy is that? Heee-yuck! Look, I wore pink stripy tights! I fought crime with the aid of a pet bee named Michael! Ho ho! Go on, look at me! Aren't I fabulously post-ironic and filled with retro goodness? Don't you find me oh so amusing and hip, Ralph? Don't you? Don't you? Don't you??" But answer came there none as the mere sight of the Red Bee had already bored me to sleep.

"Wake up, Ralph! Am I not both hilariously rubbish and also indicative of a gentler and more innocent age of superherodom?" he mewled, waving one of his stripey legs at me and then cavorting about the room like some kind of bee-based Timothy Claypole.

"No, Red Bee." At those harsh words the spectre collapsed into a mass of ectoplasmic tears (which spattered all over the carpet - a further $29.99 dry-cleaning costs added to Deadman's bill) and flung himself into a corner.

"All I wanted was a scrap of legitimacy!" sobbed the spirit. "I thought that my post-death status as an ironic, cult joke superhero would make me popular - but now everyone's sick of hearing my name! And I've somehow managed to inspire some descendant to start using robot bees to fight crime as some sort of post-post-post-ironic commentary on my failed life! When will it ever end?" My heart was softened slightly by the ghost's anguish until I remembered that he was a whining little bitch.

"Bah! Humbug!" I shouted, tossing the plastic bottle that had once contained deliciously purple fluid at his ghostly face. But he had already left, the snivelling bee-based tool not even having the gumption to show me a heartbreaking tableaux of how the lonely child Ralph Dibny had first learned to spurn Christmas. As I remembered, I had begged for my parents to make me a gigantic cardboard sign to wear on my back, so that everyone would know that I was the World Famous Ralph Dibny. But instead 'Santa' had brought me a shiny red bicycle! How dare he! I immediately called a press conference to burn that bicycle on the front lawn, although my accursed mother stole the limelight by bursting into tears in front of the cameras. Clever work, Mother, but who's hogging the spotlight now? I'm the World's Greatest Detective and you're rotting in a pine box! Advantage Ralph!

Anyway, the next of the three Christmas spirits was due, presumably the Ghost Of Christmas Present, and I was drumming my fingers waiting for the whole charade to be over with. But I was shocked to find not one spook but two barging through my door - and even more shocked to see that they were those young turks Firestorm and the Atom, translucent and laden with ghostly chains!

"Are you two the Ghosts Of Christmas Present?" I asked in wonderment. Ryan Choi shook his head mournfully.

"No, that was supposed to be the Question, but he's dragging his own death out a bit. The drama queen."

"What?? Poor Tiny Charlie, at death's door?" The words I had spoken earlier to my idle nephew - "I hope that bastard the Question dies of cancer or something" - came back to haunt me. I blushed to my roots. Of course I had meant that I hoped he died of cancer or something after he paid the $10 he owed me, but it was too late now for taking back hasty words.

"Yes!" shouted the ghostly, fiery face of Jason Rusch. "Although it is a rare form of cancer which could be cured by the application of a truly enormous turkey, if only someone was filled enough with the Spirit Of Christmas to buy such a bird!" He looked at me balefully. For some reason.

"We are the Ghosts Of Christmas Future!" moaned Choi, rattling his chains.

"But neither of you are dead!"

"In the future, we will be!" sobbed the Atom. "We will be mercilessly killed within the next five years and replaced with the white Atom and the white Firestorm." Too emotionally overwrought to continue, he collapsed into an armchair, wiping his tears with a copy of The Oxford Book Of Scientific Quotations.

"Our one comfort is that at least we're both men. So we won't be sexually assaulted first." murmured Firestorm, blowing his nose on a billowing sleeve.

"But the worst of all fates is reserved for you, Ralph Dibny! Heed well!" The Atom's ghostly fingers waggled in the air, conjuring up misty visions of the near future...

I squinted. There was a figure in the mist. He wore a purple costume, as I once had, and a leather jacket with a giant E on it, along with an earring and a goatee beard. Somehow I knew - though I knew not how - that he was a huge fan of now, happening musicians like Eminem and possibly Limp Bizkit. As I watched the tattooed young person flip his skateboard into Desaad's wrinkly face - the face emblematic of 'The Man' that this cool new hero existed only to flip the bird to - a youthful voice came to my ears:

"Like, grody, dude! This Big Kahuna, Darkseid, is most totally heinous - or my name isn't The Elongated Beeeyotch! Westsiiide!"

"Yes, Ralph Dibny!" howled Firestorm, his head flaring up like the fires of hell. "You have been shot through the head and replaced with an extreme skateboarder as the controversial prelude to a galaxy-spanning cosmic event that will redefine our whole universe for the Noughties! And all because you thought Christmas was rubbish."

"Oh, Spirits!" I wept, "Tell me I may sponge the self-consciously hip graffiti from this wall!" But I was once more alone in the room. I was shocked to see the time - why, it was Sunday afternoon! The Spirits had done all their work in one week! Causing me to miss Christmas entirely. Nice work, Deadman, you bleached tit. You'll be hearing from my lawyer.

But just because I have no Christmas Spirit hardly means I won't be observing New Year's! In fact Steve Lombard has graciously allowed me to choose the tunes for his New Year's Funbag Dance Party Show at the stroke of midnight on GBS! I'm confident that my mix of "It's Raining Men" by the Weathergirls, "Free Falling" by Tom Petty and "Down To Earth" by Curiosity Killed The Cat will fit this New Year perfectly, and the Superhuman Skysoaring Neverplummet Dance Troupe performing above the GBS building will make quite an impact on those watching below!

See you there, everybody, and Happy New Year from Ralph Dibny!

Friday, December 22, 2006

This Will Be My FINAL Final Journal Entry

Well, I was all set to launch into the most glamorous suicide of all by using the Flash's Cosmic Treadmill to project myself back to the beginning of time and be blown up in the Big Bang itself - which may coincidentally have meant that the entire universe would have been remade in my image, which can't be bad - but then I got a look at the broom closet they're remembering me with, and I just can't be bothered. What is the point? I ask you. What is the point of doing anything when these miserable skinflints won't even spring for a proper room to remember it by?

I don't know. You work hard all your life solving bizarre mysteries - you slave and you slave for a pack of freaks and scum who wouldn't give you the time of day if you didn't wear a giant sign on your back proclaiming you the World-Famous Elongated Man - and at the end of your illustrious career, what do you have left? Nothing. A few cabinets. A picture that doesn't even show your good side. And one measly gold statue. One.

That whole room should have been gold! That should have been the Elongated Man Museum Of Elongation and they should have given Barry that pokey little piece of nothing to store his pathetic so-called 'trophies' in, rather than trying to cage my magnificence in that grim hovel they call 'The Ralph Room'. 'The Ralph Room'! The sheer gaucheness of it all.

Barry would have agreed with that idea. Barry was a true friend, and besides he had a martyr complex a mile wide. Look at how he killed himself. There's a glorious suicide for you- another example of how he callously stole my thunder every step of the way. The filth. He wasn't worthy of my greatness and neither is his ridiculous excuse for a museum. I gave them the contents of my storage locker in good faith after their promised to create a shrine to the beauty and grace of Ralph Dibny. And what do they do? They piss on me. I gave them my best gun and they put it in a silver display case with a placard that reads 'This is the gun which the World-Famous Elongated Man once contemplated snuffing out the awesome brilliance, like unto a thousand suns, that was his mortal existence'.

A silver display case.

There's a golden display case for Barry's cowl and that's just a shabby old bit of red cloth filled with dandruff. It's an insult. A calculated attempt to crap on my face. And they wonder why I'm angry. The bastards.

I've had enough. Even Dr Fate is starting to sass me, like an unruly teenager, just because I enjoy the occasional methylated spirit. All great men have. Edgar Allen Poe drank meths all the time when we solved the case of Jack The Ripper. Or possibly that was me, I was drunk at the time... well, Edgar Allen Poe won't have Ralph Dibny to push around any longer! And neither will you, dear reader, you bastard.

If this is Christmas, you can keep it. I hate and despise Christmas and all it stands for, and what's more, I wish that I, Ralph Dibny, was never born! I tell you, everyone in this miserable town would much rather I was dead than alive. That's why, the very second I've finished this bottle of meths, I'm going to hurl myself off the Keystone Bridge! Merry Christmas to nobody!

Bring me more meths, damn you!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

This Will Be My Final Journal Entry

Yes, it's been a fun ride, but it's time for Ralph Dibny, the Greatest Detective And Superhero Of All Times, to finish his race to glory and take his place in the houses of the immortals!

By blowing his own head off!

Regular readers may be wondering what brought me, Ralph Dibny, The Man Who Dared, to this unfortunate pass. Why would the Most Illustrious Television Celebrity And Talking Head Of This Or Any Other Century decide to fire a rocket launcher into his magnificent face? Surely a man who subdued a Yeti with his fantastic fists could never take that step into the dark unknown, especially by means of an immense vat of acid? "Mr Dibny," I hear you cry, "You're so brilliant, perfect and special! How can you even dream of hurling yourself off the top of the Daily Planet building with lit fireworks strapped to your belly?"

Well, it's a long story. And it started just after I completed last week's entry, when Dr Willis called me up to tell me that he wasn't Supernova. The fool. Anyway, he seemed concerned that my manic-depressive cycles might be intensifying, which would mean that one moment I could be blubbing like a little goth child about how much it hurt when Sue used to stack the fridge in her special way, and the next minute I might be so convinced of my own supremacy that I would think nothing of leaping on top of a Yeti and wrestling it to the ground.

YOU'RE A FOOL, WILLIS! A FOOOOL! YOU SHOULD STICK TO WHAT YOU'RE BEST AT WHICH IS BEING SUPERNOVA!! YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS BECAUSE YOU'VE NEVER BEATEN UP A YETI AND LIVED TO TELL!! NOT LIKE RALPH DIBNY -- WRITE HIS NAME IN BLOOD -- THE MOST INCREDIBLE SUPERCREATURE EVER TO CONVERSE WITH THE VERY GODS THEMSELVES!!!

That's all I have to say on that subject.

He also said that he was sending me a voucher for a week's complete rest at a local spa. I told him I wouldn't pay a penny for his quackery, and he in turn - like the pious freak he is - said that it would be a gift to me. Since it was, after all, nearly Christmas.

Nearly Christmas!
And I'd bought nothing for any of my friends!

Which was fine by me because I have no friends. They're all scum. But I should at least buy something for myself, like perhaps a gold crown and a sceptre so everyone can see how wonderful I, Ralph Dibny, Yetislayer, truly am.

Which is how I found out I'd left my wallet in Nanda Parbat.

After all the trouble I had the last time I mislaid my wallet, I wasn't about to just give it up, and frankly I relished the chance to tell Richard Dragon exactly what I thought of him. Actually, since I plan to jump in front of a Japanese bullet train at the first rays of dawn, I should take that chance right now.

Richard Dragon, you suck.

Nanda Parbat sucks too. It sucks like the cold, empty vacuum of space, which is coincidentally where I might well end up firing myself out of a gigantic cannon. Would it kill those goddamned monks to put some signposts in? When you're halfway up a mountain with a floating helmet jabbering at you and you realise you're on Mountain 21 instead of Mountain 22, it makes you feel pret-ty foolish - foolish enough to sue the Nanda Parbat Tourist Board for everything it's worth! Don't think my imminent demise will save you from the wrath of Dibny, Tourist Board! I'm going to squeeze you dry, like an overripe fruit, from beyond the grave! I've made provisions in my will for a legion of attorneys to go after anyone who so much as coughed on me during my time on Earth! You're all going down, you shifty bastards! Do you hear me? Every last one of you!

The money raised will be used to construct a gigantic golden statue of me to rest on my grave. The statue will depict me wrestling a Yeti, with a specially carved inscription that will read "Ralph Dibny could wrestle a Yeti, and you couldn't, you pathetic worm." Thus, future generations will know that I was best. Don't thank me. It was the least I could do for you lesser beings.

Anyway. Dr Fate, like the lesser being he is, was starting to moan about how I'd led us halfway up the wrong mountain, which was my cue to make up something about how this was actually the mountain we wanted to go up all along, because of something Batman had said at a particularly dull wine and cheese party he'd thrown in 1993. And that's about when the Yeti attacked us.

The same Yeti whose ass I later kicked, fight fans.

I won't bore you with the full details of my amazing adventure, but suffice it to say that I had a fantastic time chatting to Rama Kushna, a God from beyond space, and to a Chinese superhero who could cure cancer by cracking his knuckles or something. Good thing there hasn't been anybody up on Nanda Parbat who needed some cancer curing recently, or he might not have been there to provide the vital distraction that allowed me, Ralph Dibny, The Man With The Power, to take down the Yeti menace and win an audience with Rama herself.

Yes! I, Ralph Dibny, have met God! And I've seen the incredible words that fly in the air below her wierd face. Words that presumably began the universe! Words which seem indecipherable to lesser intellects but to the initiated provide the secrets the unlock reality itself! And for just $500, payable to the Ralph Dibny Golden Statue Gravestone Fund, I can tell you what those words are. One of them is 'Hey'. The rest are merely a few benjamins away.

Anyway, it turns out that - to quote God directly, because I've met her - the end is already written and I wrote that very ending back in May, in the Ambassador Hotel at the end of the Crisis. And what did I do in that Hotel? I'll tell you.

I failed to blow my own head off.

It's pretty clear if you ask me - the best way to meet up with Sue again is to off myself, and that's what I'm going to do. But a gun is too mundane a means of execution for Ralph Dibny, Ultimate Messiah! No, I'm going to take a few days to think of something really special, like jewelled pirhanas or possibly hurling myself into the fiery heart of a nuclear reactor. Feel free to drop in some ideas of your own, but remember, they need to be pretty goddamn spectacular ways out of this vale of tears to be worthy of The Greatness That Is Dibny.

But suffice it to say that, according to my will, next week's entry will be written by Superman, or if we can't get him, Vartox, and will be called 'Ralph Dibny: Our Pathetic Lives Did Not Deserve To Be Brightened By The Eternal Flame Of His Radiance.'

See you on the other side, everybody!

Your Superior,
Ralph Dibny, Man Of Destiny

Friday, December 08, 2006

Richard Dragon Can Suck It

If I never see him again it'll be too soon! This last month has been like being tortured by Ben & Jerry. And I still can't take a punch to the balls! I know because he hit me in the nads with some sort of branded rubber mallet the day before I left. Repeatedly. While playing tapes of his own voice telling me only I had the power to stop myself smoking.

Anyway, Dr Fate still refuses to speak to me - either that or he's traumatised - but at least he was sick enough of Steve the Monk's terrible imitation of Bradley Whitford to haul us both out of there. I think it might actually be the trauma thing, considering I'm telling everybody I meet how much of a little bitch he is and he just hangs in the air and takes it. That's right, Dr Fate. You're my bitch now. Invert yourself, Daddy Ralph wants to drain the main vein.

So my first priority was to get some food. Frankly, yours would be too if you'd been hung by your gentials in the middle of a freezing wasteland being told to cherish the pain. Let me tell you, Richard Dragon is a sick, sick man.

Anyway, all I had on me was a hip flask that I'd cleverly filled with barbecue sauce in case I needed to fake out a sniffer dog. Ralph Dibny's first rule of travel - they are out to get you. If it's not the customs officers looking to meet their quota of terrorist suspects to lock up without trial, it's your fellow passengers trying to slip a condom stuffed with heroin into your rectum while you're bending over to pick up a discarded boiled sweet. Dr Willis might call me a paranoid maniac, but let me tell you, if there's some trained bloodhound barking out the morse code for J-U-N-K while he's sniffing your starfish, it's a lot better to pull out a flask of barbecue sauce and claim that all dogs love the sweet smell of Smoky Maple than it is to be sodomised to death in a Turkish prison! Take a tip from the Dibster! I know!

Where was I?

Oh yes.

Anyway, I was starving and I figured Metropolis was as good a place as any to get some lunch, especially since I needed to request an audience with Steve Lombard of the Steve Lombard Bounce-N-Bikini Blooper Bonanza - and who should I run into but Cassie, who I hadn't seen since... since...

..since...

...

...since the unpleasantness.

Frankly, it was all I could do not to vomit. But I took a big slug of Hickory Ted's Sweet'N'Hot BBQ and decided to tough it out by pretending that I'd actively been looking for her. Which was smart, because she actually had a bucket-load of real proper clues! Being a detective is great. You can just piss about doing whatever you feel like for weeks and then somebody hands you a Secret Mysterious Folder containing the Next Piece Of The Puzzle. And then you get to take all the credit. It beats real work, I can tell you.

Also, she said that the whole cult was just a big scam, apart from the wife-coming-back-from-the-dead part. Which was sort of the important bit. I mean, I'm sure they were a big scam in that their robes were made of cheap velour and not the finest silk as I'd been led to believe, but in terms of the tiny, small things like, y'know, bringing my charred corpse wife back from the beyond in the body of a stuffed doll, they were surprisingly genuine. You idiot.

She'd made this brilliant deduction because 'Devem' wasn't Devem's actual name. I understand her next job will be tracking down Sting, Madonna and Cher for their heinous scam scandals. And to add the final cherry to her stupidity icing, she told me that The Mysterious Supernova was none other than... Superboy himself!

Which is complete nonsense. I know exactly who Supernova is. The face beneath the expertly-designed mask of Supernova is none other than...

Dr. Robert Amersham Willis, PhD.

Yes! The keys were there all along. Right after Superman disappeared, Willis started in with his Joseph Campbell nonsense, and then Supernova appeared! And they're roughly the same height and they sound sort of alike if you put your hand over one ear. And his powers are based on Jungian symbolism... probably... anyway, all Willis would need is the proper device - a sewing machine! To sew that eye-catching costume. I even know where he got his fantastic powers - the key to his office was obviously hewn from some kind of radioactive mineral! You can tell by his masked confusion when I made that particular pun that I had the 'key' to the whole affair.

No wonder Supernova seemed so incredulous when I told him I'd found out his true identity. No wonder he seemed to be holding back a fit of the giggles as he begged me not to repeat what I'd said. Dr Willis knows how easy it can be to lose ones own sanity to such an incredible shock - the shock of knowing that the man who you thought you could fool has been in on your secret all along! That's right, Willis! They don't call me the World's Greatest Elongated Detective for nothing!

Don't worry, Dr Supernova PhD - your terrible secret is safe with Ralph Dibny! And with the people who read this.

I imagine.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Richard Dragon System™ is THE ONLY SYSTEM™!

Hi, I'm Richard Dragon™.

You may know me as the inventor of the Richard Dragon System™, a foolproof method of actualising™ your inner potential™, as well as various other Richard Dragon Brand™ Products™. For this reason, many of my clients think of me as some sort of God, an infinitely handsome Adonis, muscles rippling as I survey my mountain home. And that's true. I am an infinitely handsome Adonis. But really, despite my fantastic command of the mysteries of Zen™ and my impeccable pectoral development, I am, in the final analysis, no more than a mere man.

If you prick me, do I not bleed? No. I don't. Because I've learned the Richard Dragon Supercoagulation Mantra™ which prevents all blood loss upon wounding, a mantra you too can learn for the low price of $49.99, payable to Richard Dragon Incorporated™, Mountain 22, Nanda Parbat™. But despite my ability to stem all blood flow with the slightest thought, I am nevertheless only human. I'm capable of feeling hurt. Betrayed, even.

"Why?" I asked Ralph, as he hung over a bubbling cauldron of boiling oil, steam scalding his flesh. "Why would anyone bother going to the Empty Quarter and wasting their time with the numberless Ten-Eyed Tribes when they could come to Nanda Parbat and enjoy the benefits of the Richard Dragon System™?"

He didn't have an answer. Of course, his head was entirely encased in a terrifying iron mechanism designed to drive spikes into his eyes if he blinked, but that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that I felt deeply hurt that - despite the fantastic, easily-affordable secrets I have waiting for you here at Nanda Parbat™ -- some of you still choose to fritter away your time and money with lesser minds.

Do you honestly think I couldn't grow an eyeball at the tip of each of my fingers if I really wanted to? Do you honestly think I couldn't give you the secret of possessing similar eyeballs for a mere $599.99 per eye - and not just on your fingertips, but on any bodily protruberance you might care to name? Do you honestly think I couldn't slice the dark, brooding paranoia from your very soul itself with a giant knife? I could certainly try, although I would ask you to sign a disclaimer first.

When it comes to my attention that there are good people driven to these charlatans - these grotesque ten-eyed quacks who prey on the insecurities of the psychotically idle rich - well, honestly, it drives me crazy.

And I must be crazy - BARGAIN crazy, that is - to offer YOU these fantastic deals!!

For just 7 days, I'm offering YOU the COMPLETE Richard Dragon System™ for - not two hundred dollars - not one hundred dollars - but just $99.99 plus VAT! Let's see a grotesque ten-eyed mutation offer you THAT kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Don't delay - order TODAY for your bargain price Richard Dragon System Package™, including Voice Tapes™, Cauldron™, 1 Gallon of Richard Dragon Easy-Cook Vegetable Oil™ and Blink-O-Matic Eye-stabbing Helmet™.

Be Who You Are. Be You. The Richard Dragon You™.

This has been a public service announcement.