Are Your Greetings Seasoned? Happy Holidays!

Michael allan leonard public domain blog Christmas cards nerd humor comics santa doctor doom

Happy Holidays!

Hard to believe December is almost over.  This past month has been a blur, with too many not-fun non-creative things devouring my time and keeping me AFK, which hopefully explains the absence of posts (as well as getting much of anything else constructive done … which includes sleep.)

I didn’t want to let Christmas slide without doing something to mark the occasion, though, so one caffeine-fueled all-nighter later, I’ve got some holiday e-cards for everyone.

The most fun part of getting a card is opening it up to see what’s inscribed inside, so I rigged the e-cards to simulate that.  Just click on each of the card fronts to ‘open’ it and read the interior.

It ain’t no Holodeck but we’re on a shoestring budget here … just kidding.

Shoestrings are a luxury.

Enjoy!

meanwhileintokyo

Click on card to ‘open’ …

dcxmas

Click on card to open …

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Twinkies Return! Superheroes Rejoice! Hostess Comic Book Ads #2

avengers 2 age of ultron hostess twinkie comic book ads public domain blog captain America iron man hulk thor public domain blog Michael allan leonard

Hey, it COULD happen.

As we covered in Part 1, Twinkies returned to store shelves last week — just in time, apparently, to help stave off the Age of Ultron.

Because as we all know from the dozens of Hostess ads that appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, snack cakes were the ultimate weapon against evil and tyranny.

Rather than just do a traditional print campaign, the visionaries evil geniuses in Hostess’ marketing department came up with the idea of commissioning one-page comic book stories that enlisted Earth’s mightiest heroes as spokespeople for the villain-crushing wonders of Twinkies, Hostess Fruit Pies, and Ding-Dongs.

The result was some truly surreal  ‘storytelling’ that seem like they might have stemmed from some epic Mad Men-style boozing at the ad agency.

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These ‘adverticomics’ put the ‘comic’ back in comic books.

Also, the abnormally ludicrous.

incredible hulk marvel hostess fruit pie twinkies tales to admonish advertising comics nerd geek humor satire parody public domain blog

The Incredible Hulk was a frequent star in the Hostess Superhero Theatre of the Absurd, no doubt partly due to his highly increased media profile from the hit live-action CBS TV series with Lou Ferrigno and the late Bill Bixby that aired during the time period these print ads were being produced.

incredible hulk meme bill bixby public domain blog hostess ad nerd geek satire parody humor

Also, the comics incarnation of the Hulk at the time, with his limited, child-like intellect, wasn’t aware of how demeaning it was to a pop-culture icon of his status – let alone a superhero – to be appearing in ridiculous scenarios to help pimp confectionaries, and never bothered calling his agent to complain.

clark kent kal-el DC Comics meme superman public domain blog hostess twinkies ad nerd geek satire parody humor

Living in a city like New York, Gotham, or Metropolis that has a rather robust and active superhuman community isn’t easy.  There’s only so many times your boss is going to accept ‘Magneto went on a rampage downtown’ as an acceptable excuse for you being late for work.

You could be out on a horrible blind date that only gets worse when Two-Face shows up and takes the whole restaurant hostage, all because your cheap-ass potential suitor insisted on going low-key, and there’s two Golden Arches on the sign to trigger Harvey Dent’s obsession.

And don’t even start on the insurance premiums.  You know how much it is to get Galactus coverage on a new Mitsubishi?

Of course, the alternative to those inconveniences is to live in a vigilante and mutant-free burg where a roller disco-themed street gang engages in a reign of absolute terror, ruling the streets with a glittery fist, and absolutely no one to stop them.

Imagine the misery of an existence where the strains of “Do the hustle!” was followed by you immediately being mugged and beaten to within an inch of your life.  When Soul Train came on Saturday mornings, the suicide rates went off the charts.

What I want to know is where the heck was Dazzler when this reign of WHOO-WHOO tyranny was going down?  She missed out on a prime chance to have her very own thematically appropriate arch-enemies.  No wonder she was always a Z-lister.

dazzler marvel comics public domain blog hostess twinkies ad nerd geek satire parody humor

In any case, along stumbles the Hulk into this madness, having probably unwittingly leaped into the unspecified city on a cross-continental jaunt while being pursued by the U.S. Army, leaving a crater the size of a strip mall in the process.

Now, why do you suppose the Army was always after the Hulk?  My theory is due to @#$% like this:

incredible hulk meme marvel comics public domain blog hostess ad nerd geek satire parody humor

What’s missing here is the sound effect of every last bone in the Devils’ bodies being crushed and shattered.  Especially that guy in yellow on the bottom, who, while the Hulk was making a street-thug-filled asphalt Swiss cake roll, just had his spine curled up like a snail’s shell, and barring some amazing technological innovation from Stark Industries, will never walk again.

Good show, jadejaws.

bane comics meme public domain blog hostess ad nerd geek satire parody humor

As our tale closes, the Hulk and his new friends are raving over the real fruit filling and great crust of their Hostess pies, while the entire staff of the Discoburg General Hospital is struggling to keep the mangled-beyond-recognition Roller Derby Devils alive.

Whatever became of the Devils, you might ask?  They did eventually and quite miraculously recover from their Hulk-related injuries, but unfortunately developed an insatiable addiction to prescription painkillers, and eventually went to New York to seek ungainful employment by the Kingpin to support their new habit.

As their bad luck would have it, they ran into a little problem along the way:

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iron man hostess twinkie ad public domain blog marvel comic parody humor satire

In this Hostess-sponsored outing, Iron Man is fighting an armored convertible that is smashing through the gates of mansions belonging to Tony Stark’s 1% pals.  Clearly this story takes place during the whole ‘Demon in a Bottle’ era where Stark was battling alcoholism.

iron man public domain blog twinkie ads marvel comics pardoy humor satire

Because that’s who you want pitching after-school snacks to kids.

How do we know this tale takes place during Tony’s drinking days?

Only an inebriated, adult American male wearing a technologically advanced suit of  powered battle armor capable of flight would think the absolute best strategy to stop a heavily-modified, super-charged Caddy with a six-inch-thick Adamantium ram bar for a front bumper is to charge at it HEAD-ON while on foot . . .

. . . while the driver and passengers of said vehicle are completely unprotected from an aerial repulsor ray bombardment — or, for that matter, a well-aimed chunk of mortar –delivered while hovering a mere, say, ten feet off the ground.

I don’t know if it was under their jurisdiction, but SHIELD probably should’ve been taking Stark’s keys, detaining him on the Helicarrier, and issuing him a DUI so he wasn’t zooming around three sheets to the wind dealing with crises like these.

Of course, as is par for the course in these snack cake sagas, the power of the protagonist can’t save the day, but golden sponge cake and creamy filling can:

iron man marvel twinkie hostess ad public domain blog humor satire parody tales to admonish

Note that while Iron Man is tossing unopened cellophane wrapped Twinkies at the rest of Hy Torque’s gang, Hy’s actually got an unwrapped Twinkie IN his mouth, and we don’t see Iron Man’s other arm.

You do realize what that means, right?

Iron Man apparently has a TWINKIE LAUNCHER built into his armor, ready to make with high velocity, laser targeted snacks to be unleashed at his cybernetic command.

public domain blog hostess twinkie parody satire humor tales to admonish iron man tony stark

It’s probably a very good thing for Hy Torque that particular weapons system is handled by computer-assisted calculations and not direct manual control, especially given Tony’s inability to lay off the sauce.

iron man marvel twinkie hostess ad public domain blog humor satire parody tales to admonish

thor marvel comics public domain blog hostess twinkie advertisement parody satire humor

Now, I’ve been reading comics for some thirty years.  My disbelief is, at this point, suspended aloft by the same sort of arm-thick cables you’d find on the Golden Gate Bridge.  It’s seen me through retcons and revamps, deaths, rebirths, and secret infinite civil invasion wars aplenty.  I can take just about any craziness writers and editors can dream up and throw at me.

Except this.

Where to begin?  Maybe with the opening caption set up for our sordid little snack sponsored tale: ” By some mysterious quirk of space and time warp.”

It’s like grammar got smacked in the mouth with Mjolnir.  Or, they hired some questionable celebrity copywriter.

hostess twinkies bizarro superman advertisements comics parody humor satire superheroes public domain blog

So this is pretty much the deal: the Ding-a-Ling family, hillbilly Ozark trailer trash (I’m guessing that’s what the orange object that our antagonists are emerging from is, some sort of double wide inadvertently sucked up in the aforementioned mysterious quirky warp), complete with Jed Clampett felt hats, denim overalls, and ‘atomic shotguns’, ambushes Thor, Lady Sif, and Volstagg as they take a leisurely cruise in their space-boat somewhere off the shores of Asgard.

Just one more time, in case you didn’t get that.

The mighy Thor, son of Odin, noble heir to Asgard and valiant protector of Midgard, founding member of the Avengers, Norse god of thunder and the storm.

Fighting hillbillies.

IN SPACE.

And the rednecks actually get the best of him, at least briefly.

That grinding rumble you just heard and quite possibly felt? That was ten thousand Viking warriors all spinning simultaneously in their graves.

hostess twinkies loki thor meme advertisements comics parody humor satire superheroes public domain blog

And is it just me, or does Grandma Ding-a-Ling, the matriarch of this clan of barefoot,  backwoods Time Lords, bear an uncanny resemblance to another iconic character?

hostess twinkies thor advertisements comics parody humor satire superheroes public domain blogAuntmay

hostess twinkies spider-man meme advertisements comics parody humor satire superheroes public domain blog

The best part, though, is that the Ding-a-Lings get the upper hand on the Asgardians because two of the clan possess immunity to Thor’s might in the form of  . . . ‘Cousin Power Secret Weapon’.

Where, you ask, did that amazing superhuman ability come from?

springer

hostess twinkies thor advertisements comics parody humor satire superheroes public domain blog

Of course, in the Hostessverse, there’s no long, drawn-out second act as the hero somehow manages to discover the villain’s weakness and then exploit it.  Every bad guy’s Kryptonite is “cherry . . . great, light tender crust . . . real fruit filling.”  All Lady Sif has to do is whip out the Fruit Pies, and problem solved.

And ol’ Goldilocks better heed Volstagg’s advice and save some pie for Odin, because I imagine the proud Allfalther will be none too pleased to hear about this whole debacle.

hostess twinkies odin thor meme advertisements comics parody humor satire superheroes public domain blog

Join us next time when we wrap up our salute to Hostess comic book ads, same Ho-Ho time, same Ho-Ho channel.

In the meantime, I bribed Joss Whedon with a truckload of brand new, not even close to the expiation date Twinkies, and he was willing to share a early glimpse at the post-credits scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron:

avengers 2 age of ultron loki thanos joss whedon post-credits scene Michael allan leonard  public domain blog

Who says you need to travel all the way to Comic-Con to get the inside scoop?

— mal

There is nothing wrong with your computer monitor. Except all that dust.  Maybe a little less Twitter and a little more Swiffer, huh?  Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.  We will control the humor.

We will control the vertical.  We control your browser’s cookies.  We know exactly where you’ve been, and shame on you, BTW.  All your base and your flags are belong to us, so you might as well just swear at us and quit now, l33tSpartan666.  The President has been kidnapped by ninjas.  Are you a bad enough dude to read our reviews?  Jill, here’s an opinion.  It might be handy if you; the Master of Presumption; take it with you.  You have died of dysentery.  Snake? SNAAAAAKE!

We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your computer monitor.  You are about to experience the admonishment and mystery which reaches from your inner child to — the Public Domain.

Thanks for stopping by!

Twinkies Return! Superheroes Rejoice! Hostess Comic Book Ads #1

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Superheroes were heard to be celebrating all across both the Marvel and DC Universes today as Twinkies make their return to American store shelves, thanks to investment firm Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management.

Absent since last November when Hostess, who had filed for bankruptcy in early 2012, finally suspended operations and the last snacks rolled off of assembly lines, the venerable golden sponge cake with the delicious creamy filling, along with other Hostess products, were key weapons in the never-ending battle against evil in years gone by.

Particularly against third-rate Z-list criminals whose only appearances in Marvel and DC Comics came in the one-page story ads, like the incredibly specific stick-up duo calling themselves the ‘Twinkie Takers’ that it took Spider-Man an entire three panels to defeat:

twinkietakers

As a bonus, it was announced that the reintroduced 2013 model of Twinkies will now have a 45-day shelf life instead of the previous 26, once again making it the perfect foodstuff to ride out the apocalypse with, should the masked champions of justice catastrophically fail to save the day.

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Last fall, I started a trilogy here on Public Domain under our slightly off-kilter Tales to Admonish! brand, devoted to examining some of the bizarre misadventures our super-friends got themselves into while trapped within the confines of these paid advertisements.

By the time I got around to getting two parts up, the joke seemed like it, lacking some of the key ingredients of Twinkies, was a little stale. I never finished the third installment, figuring the window of relevance had passed.

And, of course, somehow the Hostess comic ad posts ended up being two of the top ten most-viewed posts here on PD, and I always felt a little bad I didn’t properly cap the whole thing off.

Not one to look a gift horse too closely in the mouth when I’m slaving away on other projects (more on that soon), or pass up a shameless chance to piggyback on a trend (twice, in this case), I’ll re-present the two original installments of the Hostess Comic Ad series and actually finish it this time.

And next maybe I’ll get around to Part 2 of our series on procrastination, but for now, enjoy some high fructose corn syrup silliness.  (And forgive the sizing on some of the images.  A) I really didn’t know what I was doing in putting them together at the time, and B) the blog was using a slightly different theme at the time they were originally posted.)

* * * * *

Hostess has had a special connection with comic book history, thanks to their long-running series of advertisements that ran in comics from Marvel, DC, and Archie Comics, among others, starting in the mid-1970s.

If you read comics during that period, it was impossible to escape them, or their particularly inspired brand of lunacy.

What made them unique was that rather than just the traditional sort of sales pitch meant to instigate a feeling of absolute need to go out and consume their product, Hostess commissioned each comics publisher to create simple one-page stories featuring their established characters —  with the caveat that each short tale must hinge upon a Hostess product playing the essential force behind the successful conclusion of the tale.

Which meant it wasn’t power rings, utility belts, magic lassoes, or trick arrows, but Twinkies, chocolate cupcakes, and fruit pies that ultimately saved lives, and the day.  The superheroes were often just there to pass out the snacks, and the power of confections did the rest.

Needless to say, the sponsor’s requirements and the take-no-prisoners five or six panel format lent itself to some of the most bizarre and surreal storytelling in comics history.

This ‘story’ might serve as the absolute best example of why Batman is billed as The World’s Greatest Detective.

First of all, in the space of a single panel, Batman’s steel trap of an analytical mind manages to make the logic jump between this gang of thieving femme fatales who were appropriating ‘mink furs, black pearls, and caviar’ — all considerably easy-to-transport items able to be fenced with little effort — to the city’s oil supply being their very next target.

Who’s going to fence that for them?  Some crooked OPEC official?

Granted, this is Gotham City. There’s clearly something in the water there that seems to encourage the proliferation of masked sociopaths, so perhaps the rules of standard criminology as the rest of the world knows it don’t quite apply in the same fashion.

Then the Dark Knight is able to deduce that the absolute perfect bait to lay a trap for this quartet of ‘Midnight Ladies’  — who despite their deep-seated fetish for the color black, dress in red outfits that seem more appropriate for the Gotham Springs Ski Resort (maybe to avoid some narcissistic feud with Catwoman, who knows)  — is with Hostess-brand Chocolate Cupcakes.

Now, it is a one-page story, so there may have been a considerable amount of sleuthing and forensics work done off-panel.  Perhaps closer examination of the previous crime scenes gave Bruce some crucial clue, like an infinitesimal drop of blood, that when spectroanalyzed on the mighty Bat-Computer, showed a particularly high concentration of a very specific type of high fructose corn syrup used only by the Continental Baking Company.

Or he and Robin might have just swung in a 7-11 for a couple of cherry Slurpees at 4 A.M. (after-dark vigilantism is thirsty, hot work, you know), and inspiration hit at the snack cake display.  Not dissimilar to the key, life-altering moment when the bat came crashing through the window of his study at Wayne Manor all those years ago.

BATMAN (snaps fingers)  ” Robin, that’s it! ”

ROBIN:  ” What, Batman? ”

BATMAN:  “Criminals are a cowardly and sugar-addicted lot.”

ROBIN: (eye-rolling hidden behind the opaque white lenses in his domino mask while considering a bag of pork rinds) ” Are you sure you don’t want to head home and have Alfred check you for a concussion?  Killer Croc *did* tag you a good one back there in the sewers the other night. ”

BATMAN:  ” No time for explanations!  Scoop up all the delicious Hostess Chocolate Cup Cakes you can carry and head to the checkout counter. ”

(Apparently Robin isn’t the only one with a touch of the WTFs, either — check out Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue and inflection in the final panel: ”  Good work, Batman.  A brilliant ploy. ” There’s enough dripping sarcasm there to keep Aquaman, the Sub-Mariner, and the Atlanteans of both the Marvel and DC Universes moist and content.)

Batman’s not the only one using cellophane-wrapped confections to take a bite out of crime in Gotham, as this Batgirl story-ad illustrates.

Good thing for the 1% of Gothamites whom Jet-Set Jessie was terrorizing with her jewel heists that:

a) Batgirl shows enough foresight to somehow prepare in advance a Twinkie-Batarang, a common enough go-to utility belt staple in Crazytown Gotham City to have at the ready in almost any circumstance.

and b), Jet-Set Jessie clearly suffers from some crippling form of ADHD and is unable to differentiate between the importance of defending herself from Batgirl’s attempts to capture her, and enjoying ‘golden sponge cake’.  Note the last panel in which Babs is zooming away with Jessie on the back of her Batcycle: Jet-Set doesn’t even seem like she is in any sort of restraints.  She’s still savoring the delicious, creamy filling as she and her new red-headed Twinkie-slinging BFF just take a leisurely, willing cruise out to scenic Arkham Asylum.

I sincerely do hope that once this caper was wrapped up and Jessie taken into custody, the Arkham officials returned Liberace’s outfit to him and the appropriate charges were filed for that theft.

And here’s why Aquaman gets zero respect from the rest of the superhuman community and is consistently the butt of everyone’s jokes at the Hall of Justice.

So a trio of otherwise normal, apparently non-powered unarmed surface dwellers are threatening to ‘shake Atlantis to pieces’ with their exploratory underwater explosions, and pretty much tell both Aquaman and Aqualad off as soon as they arrive on the scene.

Our heroes’ response to that?

Pretty much just kick underwater rocks and sulk.  Then run off to bribe the treasure hunters with Twinkies.

Listen, when you’re the self-professed King of the Seven Seas and you AND your teen sidekick can’t take down three ordinary human while you’re UNDERWATER, in your own native element, where you have telepathic control over all manner of sea life . . . heck, simply grabbing their scuba gear and tearing it off of them would’ve showed the arrogant so-and-sos who’s boss.

Nah, just grab some Twinkies and sort it out with those.

Ah, good old Archie Andrews, eternal teenager.  Came along in 1941 and has barely aged a day since.  Edward Cullen’s got nothing on Arch.

I’m not a big sports guy, but even I’m not sure what kind of self-respecting coach is A-OK with the incentive of just handing out snack cakes if they win, rather than delivering a firey locker room speech to inspire his players to get back out there and give ’em hell.

Also curious to see what kind of ass-kicking Archie and Jughead end up getting once the Riverdale High team wins, they show up to collect their hard-earned prize, and there’s Jughead licking every last crumb off his fingers with about four full boxes of Twinkies in his distended stomach.

I understand that day-to-day life in the Marvel Universe is a bit off-kilter.

You’ve got constantly increasing numbers of mutants running amok in the streets, Silver Surfers in the sky, a Mole Man with an army of weird little yellow dudes in goggles and Speedos and access to giant, Godzilla-like beasts living under the Earth’s crust.  Any number of garishly-dressed madmen are plotting to subjugate the human race, and the only ones who can save you is a smart-alec teen dressed as a spider, and a brilliant scientific mind in a body seemingly made of rubber.  Galactus could pop in at any moment and try to eat the Earth as easily as a low-hanging shiny blue-green apple plucked from a tree.

Earth’s military minds are, by now, probably pretty well adjusted to the fact that they have met the enemy and they is, for the most part, pretty #$%&ing weird.

Then Captain Marvel here bursts into an emergency war room session called to deal with an impending alien invasion and declares, ” No!  Violence is for those who have run out of ideas!  Stand down all of Earth’s military, let’s put five billion lives on the line — and send the intergalactic aggressors a rocketship full of Twinkies, instead. ”

What really scares me is that the last panel seems to hint this isn’t the first time Cap here has saved the human race using snack cakes as his primary strategy.

This Captain America Hostess adventure might be my absolute favorite of the bunch.

Let’s start with the helpful fine print at the very top of the ad that lets newcomers catch up with a long-running plot device / artifact that’s been kicking around the Marvel Universe for quite some time: ” Note: The Cosmic Cube Can Do Anything. ”  That’s an important piece of information for readers to know going forward, because otherwise, the story would clearly seem a bit nonsensical.

That simple one-line backstory is a gross understatement.  The Cosmic Cubes can warp the very fabric of reality, and the mysterious ‘omnidimensional’ energies contained within the matrix will eventually evolve into sentient beings of immense power.  This is not the sort of thing you want someone like the Red Skull tossing idly back and forth between his lime green gloved mitts.

So the Skull has one of the most powerful artifacts in existence, and what does he do with it?

Well, aside from a vague plan of world domination and putting a kibosh on America’s Bicentennial celebration, he teleports his arch-enemy directly into his secret lair (which one would presume to be deep underground, or perhaps submerged within a live, active volcano).

You know, Captain America.  The one adversary who has foiled his villainous plans time and time again, all the way from World War II until the then-present day of 1976?

Not teleports him into a specially designed cell or some other sort of trap within the lair that would quickly render Cap unconscious and / or immobile.  Doesn’t even bother to separate Cap from his iconic, indestructible shield.  Just plops him down right smack in the middle of his private sanctum, allowing him to remain fully armed, with no other machinations in place beyond just trying to what . . . impress Captain America that he had the power to just pluck him out of Washington D.C. like some omnipotent hand reaching down from the heavens?

Skull, you’re a Nazi.  Captain America was created specifically to punch you, and every other Nazi up to, and including Adolf Hitler, directly IN THE FACE:

Oh, but it gets better.

Cap then apparently had some Twinkies secreted upon his person — guessing by this point all the superheroes realized the sheer offensive capabilities of golden sponge cake — and proceeds to introduce the Cosmic Cube to the joys of that mass-produced, All-American culinary delight.

Which does indeed distract the Cube.  The Cube has no mouth and therefore can’t actually eat the Twinkie, but in the second-to-last panel, while Captain America busies himself in the background with trying to knock the Red Skull into 2076 for the Tricentennial, the Cube hovers leeringly over the Twinkie, and we are privy to its rather salacious thoughts:

MMMM.  Smoooth, creamed filling, too . . .

BOW-CHICKA-WOW-WOW

bill murray ghostbusters peter venkman cosmic cube twinkie meme public domain blogharold ramis egon spengler twinkie ghostbusters meme public domain blogwinston ghostbusters twinkie avengers meme public domain blog

And that’s a big ’nuff said.

More Hostess superhero madness in the next installment.

— mal

*****

Thanks for stopping by Public Domain, whether by design or by accident. (Don’t ask me how ‘scanned panties scrooged’ leads here, but apparently it does, thanks to the mysterious digital alchemy of search engines.)

Fun bit of trivia with the superheroes shilling snacks on behalf of Hostess: at no point do you see any of them actually eating any of the product they’re pitching — with one exception, being, of course, the Incredible Hulk:

 hulklikescake

And even then, it was just the one time.  No, the delicious confectionary treats were reserved solely for the criminals, or innocent bystanders to chow down upon.  Champions of justice clearly didn’t consider Hostess Fruit Pies or Twinkies as part of a well balanced diet, especially if you’re wearing painted-on spandex.

People were used to seeing the Hulk bursting the seams on his purple pants.

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I asked legendary archer Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow, who only starred in a single Hostess ad — even Aquaman got a half-dozen — and his response was simple:

” I didn’t touch the stuff.  Seriously?  You ever seen the list of ingredients in a Twinkie?  Even Brainiac couldn’t pronounce half that stuff.  That’s why we fed it to the bad guys, slow them down.

We got plenty of exercise running around saving the world, yeah, but you try hitting a sprinting target at 400 yards in a stiff crosswind with a punching bag arrow when your B-cup man boobs are getting in the way of the drawstring.”