Beginning this week you might have a double take at your local comic book stores as several incentive alternate covers grace DC Comics’ New 52 line issues numbered 19. They feature the 58-year-old perpetual 12-year-old Alfred E. Neuman getting his own cosplay on as one of 13 superheroes. This week check out Alfred as Green Arrow and Green Lantern. As the online harbinger of all things Green Arrow that’s the one we picked up, but we think that Green Lantern cover pretty much exemplifies all things MAD the best.
Other great covers include this nice run-in with Supergirl:
…and if MAD Magazine is synonymous with one master artist it’s Sergio Aragones, who created this image of Superman and Wonder Woman’s love child, complete with Spy vs. Spy pajamas, for the cover of Justice League #19:
We also picked up MAD Magazine Issue #519 just to see what they have been up to, still available at the checkout stand at the local grocery store after all these years. My junior high self once bought a few of these issues a year, although I have to admit I read more CRACKED Magazine back then, I think because they always had games and pull-out practical joke cards, etc. Still, it is hard to say no to the trademark MAD Fold-ins, which I believe used to be on the back cover (prompting many a magazine on the racks to have folded covers). And I once bought an issue with an entire cardboard record–as in a 45 rpm LP– that played on my parents’ turntable.
Issue #519 had me burst out loud laughing after about only 60 seconds. So it’s nice to know they’ve still got it. And that MAD still has the same specific components that sold me on the magazine decades ago. So what are those things that make MAD… MAD?
1. Sergio Aragones. Before my youth Midwest self knew what the Spanish language was, I knew who Sergio Aragones was. In 2012 I found myself at a party listening to this very wise man sharing stories with some of comicdom’s best artists and writers. Was this really him? It was pretty hard to believe and goosebump inducing. Folks like Judd Winick were there soaking up every ounce of Zen you could get from such a true icon of classic comic humor and art. It’s almost unbelievable that MAD still has its Serge-in General Department with four pages of Aragones writing and art–Issue #519 has him with comedy featuring “A MAD Look at Alternative Medicine.”
2. Spy vs. Spy. Peter Kuper offers up a good dose of MAD’s answer to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Get Smart, and The Three Stooges with the too cool, pointy nosed opponents.
3. Irreverence. Page after page MAD has always been about parody that gets to the heart of the serious in a very funny–and sometimes biting–way.
4. Spoofing the current big thing. In Issue #519 it’s a parody of The Dark Knight Rises–here, of course, it’s The Dork Knight Reprises. This issue also gives a list of the 20 dumbest people, events, and things of 2012. And they really nailed it in a way you’d find on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report–funny but veiled irreverent and meaningful criticism.
5. The MAD Fold-in. Noted above. Check.
6. Alfred E. Neuman. Noted above. Check. Here he’s on the cover as Lance Armstrong.
7. Fake ads. in Issue #519 it includes an appropriately timed “Disney Presents Star Wars Epi$ode VII” parody movie poster of Anakin Skywalker from The Phantom Menace carrying money bags with a shadow of Mickey Mouse. We hope all the LucasArts employees laid off today by Disney can find some humor there, but won’t be surprised if they don’t. Still maybe laughter is the best medicine, even when the Disney Empire begins its destruction of the Old Lucas Republic.
If you really have a yen for catching up on MAD Magazine you might check out Totally MAD: 60 Years of Humor, Satire, Stupidity and Stupidity–advertised in the pages of the magazine, it’s 256 pages of the best of MAD Magazine. It may help you unlearn what you have learned and return to your junior high self.