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Six Signature Superhero Sound Effects!

Longbox Graveyard #136

One of the singular pleasures of being a comic book fan is puzzling out their onomatopoetically-rendered sound effects!

Sound Effects by Wally Wood!

Sound Effects” from MAD, by the brilliant Wally Wood

While sound effects have somewhat fallen out of favor in contemporary comics writing, I still love them. And while I love a good BLAM! or WHAM! as much as the next guy, I particularly enjoy sound effects that are strongly associated with a specific character or comic. While most comic book sound effects are made up by a creator on-the-spot, a signature sound effect is always the same, and as much a part of a character as their costume or name.

My criteria for calling something a “signature” sound effect is simple — you have to know it in the dark. If all you have is a black panel with a single sound effect, but you still know what is happening (and who is making it happen), then that’s a signature sound effect!

Here are Six Signature Superhero Sound Effects! Why only six? Because I love alliteration even more than onomatopoeia (and I couldn’t think of a seventh)! But my draconian rules have doubtless caused me to exclude your favorite sound effect, so be sure to take me to task for my cruel exclusions in the comments section, below.

In the meantime, in rough and reverse order of their fame and recognizability …

… drum roll please …

Dudley Serious Saves The World!

(drum roll sound effect courtesy of my very own Dudley Serious Saves The World!)

… here are Six Signature Superhero Sound Effects!

6) POW!

All right, this is a little bit of a cheat, but it’s my blog and I get to make the rules. “Pow” is a generic sound effect, and not especially associated with Batman, but the use of visual sound effects was a signature element of the classic Batman TV show, so “POW!” gets an honorable mention.

POW!

5) KTANG!

I know full well that the real Captain Marvel is the Big Red Cheese, but my favorite Captain Marvel is still the enlightened Kree man of war that I have celebrated several times here at Longbox Graveyard. Just as Billy Batson could change into Captain Marvel by shouting, “SHAZAM!” (a term that would top list list, if it were a proper sound effect!), so for a time could Rick Jones trade places in the Negative Zone with Captain Marvel by clashing his “Nega Bands”together … with the characteristic sound of KTANG!

KTANG!

4) PING PING PING!

One of the coolest things about Jack Kirby’s New Gods is that it is full of things that Jack never fully explained. What was the Source? What was the Anti-Life Formula? Most intriguing of all … what was a Mother Box?

The indispensable gadget of every New God, a Mother Box was one part computer, one part iPhone, and one part genie-in-a-lamp. Built by hand and customized by their owners, Mother Boxes seemed able to do just about anything. But the one thing they all seemed to do was to go PING PING PING when activated!

PING PING PING

3) BAMF!

Nightcrawler’s characteristic teleportation sound effect is as recognizable as his devilish tail and three-toed feet. BAMF became such an X-Men stand-by that I’m convinced someone eventually referred to Nightcrawler “bamfing” someplace, rather than teleporting … but I can’t find that particular reference (and a Longbox Graveyard No-Prize to someone who does!)

BAMF!

2) THWIP!

This one goes way back — all the way to Amazing Spider-Man #36 — which means it is almost certainly a Steve Ditko invention. It is the perfect expression for the sound of Spider-Man’s web-shooters — suggesting speed, a rushing of escaped gasses, and the sound of a whip, all-in-one!

THWIP!

Bonus … a clever bit of sound effects-oriented meta storytelling, from Amazing Spider-Man #43, as suggested by Mike W in comments, below!

Amazing Spider-Man #43

1) SNIKT!

A second X-Men sound effect tops this list, which makes me wonder if X-Men scribe Chris Claremont had a particular affection for sound effects. Or maybe it was Dave Cockrum? Regardless, the sinister sound of Wolverine’s adamantium claws sliding from their sheath is scary enough to make bad guys wet their britches all by itself! More than any sound effect on this list, if you “hear” SNIKT, all by itself, in the center of a dark panel … you know all Hell is about to break loose!

SNIKT!

What did I miss? Sound off with your own sound effects in the comments section, below!

IN THREE WEEKS: #137 Thing vs. Thing!

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Top 10 Superhero Spoonerisms

#10

Clack Banary

#9

Fick Nury

#8

Maptain Carvel

#7

Jellow Yacket

#6

Haven The Krunter

#5

Wack Blidow

#4

Octor Doctopus

#3

Ted Rornado

#2

Caron Sharter

#1

Fister Mantastic

And because it’s Friday, there has to be a Flipagram …

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Longbox Graveyard Top 10 Lists!

Top 10 Lists are the most popular feature here at Longbox Graveyard, so I thought I’d make them easier to explore. Click any banner below to visit that Top 10 List!

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Top 10 Instagram Superheroes

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Top Ten Superhero Lairs!

Longbox Graveyard #117

Having recently completed my own secret headquarters, my thoughts naturally turned to comic book secret lairs, and how I might rank them. And Lo … a Top Ten was born!

Like all of my Longbox Graveyard Top Tens, my choices are idiosyncratic and non-authoritative. I could more accurately call these lists “Favorite Tens” — but that wouldn’t stimulate as much interest (or conversation, as these posts invariably provoke a storm of comments setting me straight on my dubious selections). There are also the usual caveats that my selections are influenced by my obsession with the Bronze and Silver Age of comics, and that there are blind spots from my decades-long Odinsleep away from funnybooks, rendering me ignorant of many more recent developments in the field.

And one additional caveat, or maybe a semantic clarification … I’m talking about comic book lairs here, secret or otherwise, and by that I mean anyplace that primarily serves as the base of operations for a comic book character or group. This definition excludes kingdoms (Atlantis), planets (Apokolips), planetoids and asteroids (Titan, and Asteroid M), regions (the Savage Land), and nations (Madripoor … though an awesome base inside a nation is fair game, as we shall see). It also (barely) excludes superheroic city-states, so … sorry, Attilan.

What does that leave? Plenty, starting with …

10) The Outer Space Floating Palace of Awesome Skulls!

Near as I can tell, this only appeared in the Infinity Gauntlet, and it never got a proper name, but anyone who grew up with an Iron Maiden poster on their wall will agree that Thanos’ little outer space palace of death is radical, dude!

George Perez, Infinity Gauntlet #1

When you have the power to destroy half the universe with a snap of your fingers, limiting yourself to such juvenile decorating sensibilities might seem a little … unimaginative. But Thanos is working through some pretty serious girlfriend issues, and he is a death god, after all. Just go with it.

9) Sanctum Sanctorum

Doctor Strange’s Greenwich Village Sanctum Sanctorum is the very definition of groovy. Sumptuously appointed, home to priceless artifacts, and our world’s first line of defense against supernatural threats, the Sanctum Sanctorum is like the Library of Congress, NORAD, and Murder House from season one of American Horror Story all rolled into one!

The Sanctum Sanctorum

Bonus points for the Sanctum’s other wizard-in-residence — the lovely Clea — and loyal manservant Wong, who possesses unexpected capacities, not least of which is that he brews a mean cup of tea.

8) Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters

The only school a comics-reading youth actually wants to go to, Professor Xavier’s upstate New York academy appeared in the very first issue of X-Men back in 1963, and have become a pivotal part of the X-Men mythology, both on the screen and in the pages of innumerable X-books.

Xavier's School

Of course, like many things in comics, the sublime concept of a secret superhero base masquerading as a learning academy has been trampled upon through the years, with Xavier’s hallowed halls eventually reduced to ruins, and some newfangled Jean Grey school rising in their place … but for decades, school was cool at Xavier’s little sleep-away camp, and that the school was also a center for defending and preserving mutant culture gave the place just that much more gravitas. Plus … Danger Room!

7) Castle von Doom

This is one of only two supervillain bases on my list — not because villains don’t have cool bases, but because those darn heroes keep wrecking them. Fu Manchu, Magnetto, and Arcade have all had ace digs at various times, but with legions of superheroes tromping through the lobby and punching people through walls, it’s difficult to keep the lights on.

Visit Latveria

Here’s where Doctor Doom has an edge. As monarch of Latveria, Doom has the ultimate home field advantage. Not only does he have a creepy ancestral castle that would make Dracula green with envy, but he’s also boss of the whole darn country, so even if the Fantastic Four trash his digs, it is a trivial matter for Doom to rebuild. Having your “secret” headquarters listed in the Michelin Guide has its liabilities, but it only seems fitting that Doctor Doom — that most arrogant of villains — would brazenly hide in plain sight.

6) The Baxter Building

World famous headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the Baxter Building was the first iconic address in the Marvel Universe, and in many ways remains the most important.

The Baxter Building

This building has it all — sophisticated laboratories, rocket silos, and a portal to the Negative Zone. Doctor Doom tried to carry it away in a net, and Galactus set up his planet-devouring apparatus on the Baxter Building’s roof. I always found it especially charming that the Baxter Building had regular civilian residents, too, who would complain about Ben Grimm stomping around on the ceiling or the Human Torch speeding past their window while they were taking a shower. While the current Baxter Building is a kinda-sorta replica of the original built on the foundations of the first headquarters, it does at least share the name and address of the original iteration, which is more than I can say for many of the locations on this list.

5) Justice League Satellite

One of the greatest creations of the Silver Age of comics, the Justice League Satellite is home to the world’s greatest superheroes, and taught a generation the meaning of the term, “geostationary!”

Justice League Satellite

Like much of the best of DC Comics, the Justice League Satellite was sacrificed during the Crisis On Infinite Earths … which seemed like a good idea at the time, but nothing that has followed has ever been remotely so cool as that Justice League clubhouse located 22,300 miles above the earth. The Silver Age DC characters were the ultimate “science heroes” and nothing suited them better than traveling to and from their many meetings by teleportation beam.

4) Avengers Mansion

The Avengers are superhero royalty, so what better place for them to live than in the Gilded Age splendor of the Tony Stark family mansion on New York’s Fifth Avenue?

Avengers Mansion, animation style!

Like many entries on this list (and it is getting depressing typing this out again and again), Avengers Mansion has been cruelly devalued in recent years, having been several times destroyed and rebuilt, and now presently headquarters to something called the Avengers Unity Squad, which sounds like a suite of Microsoft business tools. But before our present era of unwise line-extensions and mandatory summer cross-overs, Avengers Mansion was the center of the Marvel Universe, home to the Vision (before John Byrne messed him up), the Scarlet Witch (before she went crazy) and the indefatigable Jarvis (before he became a disembodied A.I. voice in the movies).

And you wonder why I prefer old comic books?

3) S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier

As Tom Mason noted when we named Nick Fury the manliest superhero of them all, it takes a special pair of stones to operate out of a “secret base” that’s as big as an aircraft carrier and that also flies through the air. But that’s our Fury for you!

Strange Tales #135

The Hellicarrier has had a lot of looks through the years, but I still prefer the original Jack Kirby design, introduced during one of the greatest “reveals” in comics history in the pages of Strange Tales #135. Since that time, the Hellicarrier has been grounded, crashed, subverted, and even wrecked by Godzilla, but the secret flying spy base always rises again … and thanks to a starring turn in the Avengers movie, the Hellicarrier is today more popular than ever before.

2) The Fortress of Solitude

While it has been reinvented many times down through the decades, the mission of the Fortress of Solitude still cleaves close to its Silver Age roots, as a hidden retreat for Superman. It really is the answer to the age-old question of what you get for the man who has it all …

Fortress of Solitude

The Fortress of Solitude is the most alien and contemplative of the locations on this list, housing as it does what remains of Krypton (including a bottled city), as well as the other artifacts and memorabilia of Superman’s life. It is an exotic and vaguely creepy retreat, and while I have generally given contemporary comics a hard time (both on this list and at Longbox Graveyard in general), the Fortress of Solitude may never have been more intriguing than in Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, where the complex is revealed to house bizarre genetic labs and miniature suns. Located in an arctic fastness and stocked with otherworldly enigmas, the Fortress of Solitude is the least cozy homestead on this list, but it is certainly the greatest …

… but for one …

1) Pet Avengers Mansion (!)

Located behind Avengers Mansion, Pet Avengers Mansion is headquarters to Hairball, Throg, and Lockjaw, the intrepid Pet Avengers! Unquestionably the greatest superhero headquarters in all of comics, the …

… the …

Pet Avengers Mansion

… oh, all right. Of course the backyard base of the Pet Avengers isn’t tops on this list (though if I could unearth records of a meeting place for the Legion of Super-Pets, it surely would have claimed a spot). But, sheesh, we all know what’s #1.

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

It’s the Bat Cave, silly!

1) The Bat Cave

Secrets of the Bat Cave, by Dick Sprang

But it does say something about the nature of comics that what is certainly the greatest superhero hang-out of them all seems … not boring, exactly, but kind of predictable. I’m not doubting the Bat Cave’s cool factor for a second, but after seeing the place so many times in comics, film, and television, I guess I’m just a little over the whole idea (but not so over it that I’d rank it anywhere but the top of this list, nor would I turn down the opportunity of having my very own Bat Cave under the house!)

So there you have it, True Believers, the Longbox Graveyard list of the greatest superhero lairs in comics. What did I miss? What did I underrate? Take me to task in the comments section, below!

IN TWO WEEKS: #118 Longbox Soapbox

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Top Five Ultraverse Comic Book Movie Properties

Longbox Graveyard #112

Editor’s Note: This week’s guest blog is a special treat — a look at the buried treasure that is the Ultraverse from two men who were there at the start! Along with a host of high-powered comics creators, Chris Ulm and Tom Mason played critical roles in the foundation of the Ultraverse, which might just be the greatest comic book universe you’ve never heard of! In an age where Marvel is bringing Ant Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy to the movie screen, the time may be right for the Ultraverse’s return!

Take it away, Chris & Tom!

Hey, Disney executives and producers with a Disney deal in your hand or a desk on the lot — have we got some ideas for you! As you know, your Marvel Comics properties are all locked up and tied together to create a Marvel Movie Universe that mirrors the founding comic books.

Ultraverse!

But, if you look on the fringes of Marvel’s super-hero properties, you’ll find a few gems in the Ultraverse, a universe of comic books that Marvel purchased from Malibu Comics back in 1994. There are several titles that could be pulled out to start their own tentpoles separate from the Marvel Universe.

Here (in no particular order) are our top five!

Mantra

Mantra, Adam Hughes

Creator: Mike W. Barr, debut issue pencils by Terry Dodson

High Concept: Ancient Warrior Knight Reincarnated In The Body Of A Soccer Mom!

There’s nothing you guys love more than a body-switching movie. It’s been a reliable box-office performer ever since Freaky Friday. Sometimes, you have such a switch-crush that you’ll make two of them in the same year. In Mantra, an eternal warrior named Lukasz is killed but reincarnated into the body of a woman, Eden Blake. Now, you’ve got a manly-man warrior with the attitudes of a guy from centuries before stuck in the body of a single mom with two kids and an ex-husband. However you pitch it, it’s Highlander meets Switch and that’s either comedy gold or high drama.

Firearm

Firearm

Creator: James Robinson, debut issue pencils by Cully Hamner

High Concept: Film Noire Detective Hunts Super-Heroes

Too many super-heroes? That’s what the so-called pop culture critics say. Somehow four super-hero movies in one year is too much for them and they need more idiotic rom-coms or weepy historical dramas instead. If you’re one of “those” people, then Firearm is your antidote: he hunts super-heroes. He’s no angry vigilante, though. He used to be in a British secret agency called The Lodge, but he “retired” and moved to California to set up shop as a private eye. But his cases are far from normal and usually involve crossing paths with both good and bad super-heroes, including the super-hero serial killer called Rafferty.

Prime

Prime, Boris Vallejo

Creator: Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski, debut issue pencils by Norm Breyfogle

High Concept: Boy Living In A Man’s Body

The big man of the Ultraverse, he’s Superman and Captain Marvel all in one. A boy named Kevin Green transforms himself into a super-hero by “building” a super-strong hero shell around himself. The shell is built from organic liquid skin that ejects from his body. And when he transforms back, the body withers and spits him out. But that’s not the best part — he’s super strong and has basically all the powers of Superman, but he’s controlled by Kevin, a 14-year-old boy, with a boy’s experiences and emotions. So the world’s most powerful super-hero is an inexperienced, hormonally-charged teenager. The teenager never goes away — he’s always trying to masquerade as an adult. Once again, that’s either comedy gold or high drama.

Rune

Rune, Barry Windsor-Smith

Creator: Chris Ulm and Barry Windsor-Smith, debut issue pencils by Barry Windsor-Smith

High Concept: Twisted Twilight

Rune was a walk on the dark side. Rune, an ancient energy vampire, had many guises through the history of mankind: alien, sorcerer, beast, god, devil. Now he is dying of cancer and only the blood and energy of super-humans can stave off imminent death. Rune has it all: secret societies, government conspiracies, teenage romance and a story that spans the history of humanity.

The Strangers

The Strangers, Rick Hoberg

Creator: Steve Englehart, debut issue pencils by Rick Hoberg

High Concept: Passengers Assemble!

Random passengers on a cable car get struck by energy and find themselves changed beyond recognition, with strange powers. Who becomes a hero? Who tries to hide? Who uses their newfound powers for evil? These are the questions that drive the strangest collection of super-heroes ever assembled. While suited to film, this property seems tailor-made for episodic television in the tradition of Lost or Under The Dome, with seemingly random characters thrown together, and then tested in the crucible of paranormal circumstances!

Malibu Comics Co-Founders

Malibu Comics Co-Founders Tom Mason, Chris Ulm, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Rosenberg at their 2012 Comic-Con Reunion

Drawing from classic super-hero comics, hard science fiction, horror and epic fantasy, the Ultraverse was known for its epic premises and imaginative takes on classic tropes. Many of the best concepts could not have been realized as movies because the state of the art for CG was not up to the task in 1993, and the audience was not sufficiently literate in all things comics. Now, that’s all changed — comic books drive box office world wide and it’s about time the strange and wonderful corridors of the Ultraverse were explored on the silver screen!

Are you listening Disney?

About The Authors:

Chris Ulm was a co-founder of Malibu Comics and the Editor-In-Chief of the Ultraverse, which was based on his original development. He co-created the Ultraverse title Rune with artist Barry Windsor-Smith. Chris Ulm is now CEO and co-founder of Appy Entertainment, a leading mobile games development studio.

Tom Mason was a co-founder of Malibu Comics and the company’s Creative Director. He co-created the Ultraverse title Prototype with writer Len Strazewski. Mason is currently an Emmy-winning writer-producer in the big, wide world of television.

Thanks, Tom and Chris, for making your case why the Ultraverse is ready for its close-up! What do you think of their list? Did they forget your favorite Ultraverse character? Should Marvel go with their own C-list characters rather than develop these Ultraverse properties? Does the loyal devotion of Facebook’s Ultraverse group indicate the Ultraverse still has the capacity for mass appeal? Sound off in comments, below!

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