Archive for April, 2004
Now whither our Shazam? Sivana whence?
Poor Billy scarcely can believe his sight —
His wizard friend was e’er his best defense,
And mazed he stands, yet wholly without fright,
And gathering now his mental faculties,
And pondering how the scene before him lies,
Heart racing, racing thoughts, perturbs his ease
And having thought it all quite through he cries:
“How thou, vile man, usurpéd hast the throne
Of wise Shazam, I cannot tell — in truth
I do not care. Thou’lt feel my fists, and moan!”
Sivana’s wry, unique reply: “Forsooth?”
But wastrel, fool! I’ve left us but twelve beats:
Tomorrow’ll tell us whom and who defeats.
Apologies for the interruption of our serial. Server problems or something. But here’s another for today:
I should mention that the previous frame is the first citation for the phrase “holy moley” in the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang.
Captain Marvel invented that shit.
The Dictionary of American Regional English also cites from what you’ve seen here, but they prefer the first frame I quoted.
This story line is apparently from the 100th issue (1949) of Captain Marvel Adventures, so there must be earlier uses of the phrase. Neither of those dictionaries (nor the OED) have those, though. Since they both quoted from the same 1981 Smithsonian collection of comic-book comics I’m quoting from here, I guess they must not have had access to earlier issues.
Now thou’rt escaped, but o alas for woe!
The coop though thou forsook’st, still higher soars thy foe.
Now not thy might, nay nor thy main can serve —
Sivana’s chronic cart through time doth swerve!
His purpose villainous, make thou no doubt;
And all’s a-spin concerning what come out:
Will Tawny live, and all the world be free?
Or ‘neath Sivana’s heel empulver’d be?
For the next couple weeks, a panel a day of Captain Marvel. Together they’ll form an abbreviated version of the story of how he defeated Dr. Sivana’s plot to overthrow the universe.
“Shazam” is little Billy Batson’s magic word — it turns him into Captain Marvel. The word is the name of Billy’s Egyptian magician mentor. It also serves as a handy mnemonic for some of Marvel’s attributes:
HERCULES – STRENGTH
ATLAS – STAMINA
ZEUS – POWER
ACHILLES – COURAGE
MERCURY – SPEED
This reminds one of the genesis of Serpentor, whose DNA, according to some website or other, was custom-designed to give him “the military genius of Napoleon, the ruthlessness of Julius Caesar, the daring of Hannibal and the fiscal acumen of Atilla the Hun”. Perhaps a snippet or two of snake DNA made it into the pot as well?
I at first remembered Serpentor as having been created by Cobra Commander, but now I seem to recollect that he had to do with some sort of rift in the Cobra organization. I am thinking Destro may well have had something to do with it.
But regardless. If there’s one thing I know about golems it’s that they cause unintended trouble. Serpentor, with his cold lust for power, his disdain for all other living beings, and his terrifying and merciless strength and cunning, was no exception to this rule.
|“if worse comes to worse”||10,200|
|“if worst comes to worst”||6,640|
|“if worse comes to worst”||3,570|
|“if worse come to worse”||404|
|“if worst comes to worse”||404|
|“if worst come to worst”||246|
|“if worse come to worst”||66|
|“if worst come to worse”||6|
Personally I prefer the third version. It’s logical, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with subjunctive schmanciness like the seventh one seems to. Some people argue from the presence in Motteaux’s Quixote, and in Middleton, of “the worst comes to the worst” that the second is longstandingly usual. None of these people that I saw actually cite chapter or verse of either, though. And they’re all “famous quotation” sites and whatever (that is to say, credulous flapjaws), so it seems possible to me that Motteaux & Middleton’d've meant it more along the lines of “the harder they come, the harder they fall”. It’s too bad that it’s utterly impossible forever to tell how they used it.
Some of the “come” ones seem subjunctive and some seem to be AAVE-style s-dropping.