Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stan Lee's Guide to Creative Insults

Or, who says comics aren't educational?  Stan seemed to have an inexhaustible thesaurus of put-downs, aspersions and invectives:

I can tell you for a fact that was the first time I ever heard the word "dolt", and it was certainly a useful addition to a teenager's vocabulary.
Clod was not unknown to me, but prefaced with "worthless, insufferable" really makes it work as a taunt.
Okay, so maybe he overused "insufferable".  But did you know that an escutcheon is the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed?  It can also be the distribution of pubic hair (!) although I doubt that's what Stan meant in this case.

Doom, of course, was the Doctor of Disdain, the Sultan of Scorn, the Ottoman of Opprobrium.  But many other villains mastered the alliteration of aspersion as well:

However, that's not to say that the Marvel heroes were incapable of creative contumely:
I'm looking around for an example of my personal favorite insult; "costumed cretin" but not finding it quickly.  Anybody?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Update: Another classic, courtesy of Flodo:

Update II: Costumed cretin as mentioned by an anonymous commenter, from Avengers Annual #1:


Flodo Span said...

I don't have an example for "Costumed Cretin" but I came across a great one recently reading a reprint of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4 where the wall-crawler refers to Johnny Storm, The Human Torch, as an "Incendiary Ignoramus".

Tony said...

Wow..."Sancrosant"? I think I'm going to try and work that one into my everyday conversation.

Tony said...

Sorry.."Sacrosanct". I guess I'm getting the "Ultimate Punishment"

Kirk House said...

Though I grew up in Rhode Island, which together with Massachusetts has a majority Catholic population, my family was vaguely Baptist. So when I encountered the term archbishop, the only reference point I had was arch-villain or arch-enemy. Since I had assumed that "arch" meant REALLY BAD, this created an unsettled feeling about some no doubt very elderly and even exemplary gentlemen.

Comicsfan said...

"Ultimate punishment" I'm guessing is Latverian for "Now you die!" Though I can understand why an underling wouldn't want to give Doom any help in deciding their fate.

What a splendid idea for a post, I enjoyed it a lot. I think one of my favorites floating around out there is "craven poltroon"--which seems redundant, but again, not something I'd bring to Doom's attention.

Pat said...

Flodo, that's terrific; I will add it to the post.

Tony, I had a teacher years ago who said the word was "sansocrat", which I assumed meant "sacred to a Democrat".

Kirk, that is amazing, because I was Catholic, and I too thought arch-bishop must mean evil bishop.

CF, love the word "poltroon"; as it happens I just came across it again in the first Flashman novel.

David Morefield said...

You have to admit it was a pretty spectacular fail, there. Is this guy saying he tripped over the cloak, which should be difficult given it doesn't touch the ground, or is he saying he fell against Doom's cloak? In which case would Doom have even noticed had the guy not spoken up? More likely he stumbled against Doom's *person* but tried to downplay it as merely touching the cloak.

Anyway, if you lived in Latveria, I think the ultimate punishment would be to NOT die.

For the record, the insult that I loved as a kid was "witless cretin", as delivered by Magneto in (I think) X-Men #4. But I have to say in all candor, dialog which sounds great in a comic book just makes you look like even more of a dork in the schoolyard. Unless you've got Doom's armor to back you up, it's pretty much an invitation to get your glasses broken and your clock cleaned.

Pat said...

David, I guess I should have mentioned that "dolt" was mostly an addition to my internal vocabulary. By my teenage years I had learned that creative insults only got your face pushed in. I was lucky in one regard though: no glasses!

Flodo Span said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flodo Span said...

You're welcome Pat, and thanks for the mention. If you don't mind linking me back to my own blog, Flodo's Page, instead of Myron's very cool Blog of Oa that would be great :)

Love what you do on Silver Age Comics!!

hobbyfan said...

Unfortunately, Stan's insults became rather cliched rather quickly. Just like the rest of his writing.

Anonymous said...

Not 100% sure, but I seem to recall the Swordsman calling Power Man a "costumed cretin" in Avengers Annual #1 or Tales of Suspense #88. I would also look for it in Daredevil Annual #1 and Amazing Spider Man Annual #1, since those had villains teaming up and bickering among themselves.

Hube said...

My personal fave was "Microcephalic dolt."