Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink #0, June 2004, Dork Storm Press
by John Kovalic and Christopher Jones
Blogger's note: Entry for Saturday, April 12, 2008.
If superheroes truly dwelt among us, I believe they would all share one mutual, deadly foe -- one bald, wealthy man that has managed to secure public affection via a false philanthropic persona yet secretly contribute to the downfall of society's elite, thus, society itself. No, I'm not talking about Lex Luthor -- I said if superheroes dwelt among us, not their archnemeses. No, the man I'm talking about if more nefarious than any evil enemy fiction can create.
I'm talking about Dr. Phil.
In recent months, Dr. Phil has meddled in some of America's most prominent headlines, from the Britney Spears debacle to the most recent "epidemic" of teen girl beatings. (If you haven't heard, Dr. Phil paid the bail for one of the bullies in the hopes of landing her for his show. When the news of his, uhm, helpfulness hit watchdog websites like TMZ, Dr. Phil quickly retracted his intentions.
So, you can only imagine how Dr. Phil would react if the superheroes we know and loved actually existed. Would he speak out against rampant sidekick-ism? Would he comment upon why female superheroes seem to save the day only three-fourths of the times male superheroes do? When Batman goes undercover in Arkham Asylum, would Dr. Phil blow his cover and try to spring him in the hopes of having the Dark Knight on his show? Yes, the possibilities are endless . . .
Fortunately, we don't really have to imagine it anymore. John Kovalic and Christopher Jones have already explored the possibilities with Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink. This #0 issue introduces Dr. Blink, a struggling psychologist that was reduced to shrinking pets before a superhero battle smashed through his office and gave him an epiphany: Superheroes are people, too! They must have problems! His book on the subject elevated him to best author status and in turn opened the floodgates for more superheroes knocking down his door -- but, this time, they want his help. Featuring the likes of "Captain Omnipotent," "Nocturne," and "Speed Freak," Dr. Blink essentially explores the potential for emotional instability that must come with anonymously fighting crime, often with hilarious, sometime pratfallish results.
Unfortunately, considering the relatively short time I've decided to indulge myself a different comic book every day, I’ve become tired of these frequent satiric imitators, which is no fault of Kovalic and Jones, especially since their concept is a natural extension of the superhero genre’s integration into mainstream society and pop culture. We've become a nation of pop psychologists, diagnosing problems based on the snippets of the science we've actually experienced, either via our own time on the couch or through the likes of celebrities like Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew. (I don't know about you, but any doctor that prefers you follow his official title with his first name can't be the real deal. Dr. Strange has more credibility. At least that's really his last name.) At this point in such satirical works, the real creativity comes from renaming the characters we've known for years -- "Captain Omnipotent," for example, is a pretty decent moniker, or at least more inventive than Astonishman in The End League. Isn't the End League’s Batman simply named "Black?" Makes you wonder where his sidekick is: Grayscale.
Fortunately, Kovalic and Jones present a decent enough product to overlook just how close to the line of plagiarism it treads. Kovalic's writing style is well-paced, and he doesn't dwell on any one gag for too long, which is a good thing. Jones' art boasts heavy Bruce Timm influences, which may be what he thought was best for such an exaggerated interpretation of pre-existing characters, but some panels betray a fledgling sense of individuality that may rear its head again in future issues. Fortunately, both writer and artist understand that the characters must come first, so while plenty of psychobabble makes the page, its pure comedy fodder for the development of Dr. Blink as a straight man with real motivation in a world of outrageously powered nutcases.
Hey, we fanboys can relate. We have plenty of issues.