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Comic Book / Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink

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"I am Dr. Frederick Wertham Blink, psychologist and specialist in supra-human psychoses. I bring mental comfort to the world's super heroes. I watch the watchmen... at reasonable hourly rates (frequently at least partially covered by many major health plans)."

Dr. Blink, Superhero Shrink is (or was) a comic book written by John Kovalic and drawn by Christopher Jones. The comic is a Parody sticking a giant Lampshade on a basic fact of superhero comics — the lead characters are almost invariably a seething bundle of psychological issues, if you look at them at all closely.

Dr. Frederick Wertham Blink himself is a professional psychiatrist who, after an encounter with First City's superhero population, wrote a book about their rather obvious issues, "Chicken Soup for the Super Soul". This was not only a surprising commercial success, it brought him a string of super-powered patients, turning him into a commercially successful specialist practitioner. Most of the stories are about the cases he treats, with some glimpses into the doctor's own less-than-flawless private life.

Four comic book issues (numbered 0 to 3) were published by Dork Storm Press in the early 2000s; however, Kovalic then ceased publishing paper comics for personal reasons. Although there have been subsequent hints of possible further Dr. Blink projects, little has yet appeared. Blink is intermittently active on Twitter posting aphorisms about superhero psychology.

The Dr. Blink website includes a collection of the shorter Dr. Blink strips, including one that never saw print. The entire four-issue series has been collected in the trade paperback Id. Ego. Superego!, with some extra material.

Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink has been diagnosed with the following tropes:

  • All Therapists Are Muggles: The whole point of this comic is to avert this trope.
  • Arch-Enemy: Night Ranger seeks Blink's help to overcome his most fearsome foe — his Kid Sidekick, Scout.
    "Now when we get downstairs, don't freak out about the dent in the Night Mobile. It was totally not my fault."
  • Atrocious Alias:
    • The hellspawn born, brimstone-incarnate undead hero of vengeance (an obvious Expy of Spawn) needs a new super-name — he can't make the legions of Hell quake with his current name, "Spank."
    • Another superhero is named "Scarlet Guy Who Can Transmute Flesh To Metal Every Other Day Of Any Month Ending In A 'Y'". He gets a recommendation to a PR Firm.
  • Bald of Evil: Played for laughs when Dr. Blink concludes that his rival Dr. Larry must be a supervillain just because he's bald.
  • Bat Signal: Dr. Blink has to explain to the Commissioner that the Nocturne Signal (a.k.a. the "Night Light") is a sign of his Dysfunctional Communication issue...
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Ginormous mentions that, after eating a planet, he spews the remains back into space as asteroid belts.
    Dr. Blink: Binging and purging, gotcha. Classic disorders.
  • Captain Superhero: Captain Omnipotent, Captain Magnificent, and Major Amazing.
  • Company Cross References: The characters from Dork Tower are seen at the First City Supercon.
    Igor: Five bucks? For his photo? What a rip!
  • Confidence Building Scheme: At one point, Dr. Blink climbs out on his window ledge so Major Amazing will rescue him and break his Death Seeker ennui. It... doesn't go as planned.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Jimmy Hogan was interviewing with Nocturne for the position of Kid Sidekick when Wonder Boy IV accidentally ate a booby-trapped Mostess Fruit Pie.
    Nocturne: So... uh... can you fit into size three spandex?
  • Dead End Job: This was Dr. Blink's situation before he made it big in superhuman psychiatry — he was stuck accepting any and all clients he could get (including being a therapist for pets) just to pay the bills.
  • Death Seeker: Major Amazing continually seeks out the most dangerous and deadly enemies he can battle, because his cosmic omniscience and Nigh-Invulnerability have left him bored.
    Athena: Of course, they're inscrutable opponents and fearsome reptillian warriors, battle-hardened and aided by the most advanced military technology our galaxy has ever seen. It'd be suicide to launch a frontal attack on th—
    Major Amazing: I'll be right back!
  • Expy: As a lot of issues are satirical commentary on the weird psychologies of well-known mainstream comics characters, almost all of the superheroes featured are very transparent Parody expies. Each of these could be considered a Captain Ersatz, but really, the parodic intent in each case saves them from that status. Examples include:
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Dr. Blink's rates for telepaths are doubled because they tend to finish his sentences for him.
    "I knew you were going to say that!"
  • Freudian Couch: Probably inevitably, Dr. Blink has a standard-issue couch in his consulting room.
  • Funny Background Event: In one panel, a man dressed as Daredevil is reading a newspaper with the headline "BLIND MAN READS PAPER"
  • Heroic BSoD: Played for laughs; Dr. Blink suffers from one of these after hearing about all of the problems Arachno-Lad has to deal with.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Spoofed in issue #0. When Captain Omnipotent resolves his Samaritan Syndrome issues, he stops responding to all pleas for help.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Dr. Blink's receptionist, Tracy. When he first meets her, she's already reorganized his appointments around his book tour, adjusted his rates, built up his client base, and brought a bag of extra-sour candy for Emma... all before he's put up a want ad for a new receptionist.
  • I Have This Friend: At Dr. Blink's book signing, Captain Magnificent asks him to autograph it for his son... who just happens to have the same name he does.
  • Just One More Level!: In one case, Dr. Blink visits the home of a woman whose son refuses to leave his room because he's addicted to his super-hero MMORPG. As Blink discusses the pros and cons of gaming, she reveals that the gamer is the super-hero Black Ice.
    "NO WAY is Red Granite five levels higher than I'm supposed to be!"
  • Kid Sidekick: The Wonder Boys are this for Nocturne. He even has a rule for when they are replaced: "Once your voice breaks, so do you."
  • Legacy Character: Nocturne has gone through so many Kid Sidekicks named Wonder Boy that they end up forming a support group.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: A common result of superhuman psychological issues, it seems.
  • MacGuffin: Lampshaded with the MacGuffin Gun, the only weapon in the cosmos that can kill Major Amazing.
    Dr. Blink: "MacGuffin," like Hitchcock's concept of a storytelling device that seems vital to the plot, but is actually irrelevant?
    Major Amazing: No, "MacGuffin" like the Egg MacGuffin, at MacGonald's. By the stars, those were the best breakfast sandwiches in the universe...
  • Military Rank Names: Captain Omnipotent and Major Amazing argue over who outranks who.
    Captain Omnipotent: These ranks really mean something?
    Nocturne: I'm looking it up.
  • Missing Mom: Dr. Blink is divorced, but his wife is never seen in the comic. His daughter Emma latches onto his receptionist Tracy as a replacement.
  • Mistaken Identity: Issue #2 has a Running Gag where Jimmy Hogan, the fifth Wonder Boy, is always mistaken for one of the other Wonder Boys. To be fair, there's over a dozen of 'em...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dr. Blink is honestly trying to do good with his work with superheroes and villains, but as this is Played for Laughs, the results are sometimes unfortunate. In one instance, he successfully cures The Quizzler of his obsessive-compulsive habit of giving his opponents clues about his plans, making him into a much more effective master criminal.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dr. Larry is a parody of Dr. Phil.
  • No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: Averted; according to the spacefaring Major Amazing, alien races everywhere eventually gravitate towards lowbrow tastes.
    "Did you know the Cat People of Betelgeuse V have thirty-seven different words for 'reality TV'?"
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: When Emma watches Dr. Larry on television, Dr. Blink yells at his oversimplistic pop-psychology answers... which mesh seamlessly with his complaints.
    Dr. Blink: The man has all the credibility of a Mostess Fruit Pie. I bet he got his doctorate from a university that ends in "dot-com".
    Dr. Larry: And what part does petty petulance play in it?
    Dr. Blink: What's more galling is that the public eats this up! He's made millions by peddling pop psychology and calling it science!
    Dr. Larry: Is jealousy a factor? Do we fear that they're more gifted than we are? More loved? More successful?
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Spoofed in one strip; Nocturne returns to his cave after a busy evening, and his butler Aethelbert frets over his various wounds — several broken ribs, two knives in the back, multiple gunshot wounds, a poison dart, and a slashed torso that leaves him doubled over backwards. Nocturne insists it's no big deal and that he only needs some Ibuprofen and bandages.
  • Overly Long Name: Captain Omnipotent's team is called the Avenging Legion of Titan Justice Defenders Society of America League. It was chosen by a super-chimp.
    "And was this chimp charging us by the hour, or by the syllable?"
  • Parental Fashion Veto: When Emma tries to go out wearing a small T-shirt and short pants, Blink freaks out and has her put on a baggy sweater and sweatpants instead. She sneaks back into the house and changes to her original outfit.
  • Parental Substitute: Blink's daughter, Emma, sees his receptionist Tracy as a replacement mom.
  • Planet Eater: Ginormous, an Expy of Galactus. Dr. Blink diagnoses him as an obvious victim of an eating disorder.
  • Rhyming Names: In one strip, Dr. Blink passes by the offices of Dr. Prentis, Superhero Dentist; Dr. DeSmet, Super Pet Vet; Dr. Sturgeon, Superhero Surgeon; and Dr. Killdare, Superhero General Care. Then he meets the newest building resident, Dr. Guinan Collegist...
  • The Rival: Dr. Blink sees Dr. Larry, another psychiatrist/writer in much the same line of work, very much in this role (at least until he's talked down by Tracy and Emma). As Dr. Larry is presumably unaware of this (and Dr. Blink never does act on his feelings), Dr. Blink would have to be classed as his Unknown Rival.
  • Rock Monster: Red Granite is a muscular strongman whose body is made entirely of red rock.
    "If you are pricking me, do I not bleed?"
    "Not last time I noticed, no..."
  • Role Called: This title is a rather obvious parody of the trope.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Played for laughs in issue #0. A therapy session with Superman Expy Captain Omnipotent ends with the realization that the Captain is a perfectionist overachiever because of his Survivor Guilt, striving for the approval of his dead parents. A jubilant Captain Omnipotent frees himself from his heroic obsession ... causing him to ignore a half-dozen crimes and disasters occurring around him.
  • Seen It All: The cosmic superhero Major Amazing is suffering from a serious case of apathy because he's as old as the universe and has seen and done everything multiple times.
    "I've seen everything I can see, done everything I can do, save every race I can save — twice over, with some of the more accident-prone ones."
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Dr. Blink feels that Dr. Larry's book, "I'm Okay... You're SUPER!" is this to his own bestseller.
  • Shout-Out: Several:
    • Dr. Blink's full name is a clear reference to Fredric Wertham, a real-world psychiatrist with an interest in comic books. However, while Dr. Blink is generally eager to help superheroes, knowing that they do real good, Fredric Wertham is remembered as one of the big-name Moral Guardians, whose book Seduction of the Innocent was highly critical of comics (and led to the creation of The Comics Code).
    • One comic gives Dr. Blink's work address as 3722 Astro Tower, a thinly-veiled reference to the Astro Bank Tower of Astro City.
    • During Dr. Blink's "secret origin," he walks by Public School 238 and stops at a statue of "Busiek - Our Founder".
    • A television news segment, "Point/Counter-Point," begins with one host calling the other an "ignorant slut."
    • The alien invaders in issue #1 are the Foglians. note 
    • A superhero recalls defeating a foe by damaging their spaceship's "Zaphod-Ford equalizers".
  • The Shrink: Obviously the point of the comic, as its title makes explicit. Dr. Blink mostly falls into the "Well-Meaning, But Dopey and Ineffective" category, with occasional jumps to "Awesome" status, albeit often with unfortunate side-effects. (Curing a Riddler expy of the urge to leave clever clues at the scenes of his crimes is an Awesome achievement. Failing to deal with his criminal impulses is Dopey. Having him thank you for your achievement live on TV is... comedy.)
  • Soap Opera: The comic gets something approaching a continuing plot, alongside the basically one-shot gags about individual heroes, in its depiction of Dr. Blink's own private life. He is a middle-aged single parent whose daughter, Emma, is going through a fairly typical teenage phase — she has no respect for her father and goes out clubbing dressed in ways that give him palpitations. He also has something of a crush on Tracy, his highly competent receptionist, who may return the feeling.
  • Sourcebook: The Id. Ego. Superego! collection includes a mini-sourcebook for Mutants & Masterminds, giving role-playing stats for Dr. Blink and his various super-patients.
  • Speed Sex: One of Dr. Blink's patients is a super-speedster who's looking for marriage counseling.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Major Amazing is an alien whose real name is Ma-Zing.
  • Survivor Guilt: Spoofed in issue #0; see the note on Samaritan Syndrome above.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Dr. Blink tries — and fails — to convince Major Amazing not to jump off his skyscraper window ledge. Good thing he's super-invulnerable.
    "This would concern me more if you couldn't fly, you know..."
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted hard, naturally. And when things get really rough, Dr. Blink has his own therapist...
  • Twofirst Names: the Speed Demon's real name is Barry Wally.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Planet Eater Ginormous spares Earth after he learns that it's high in carbohydrates (from all those fields of grain).
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: An eight-foot-tall blue-skinned HULK MASH!-Up has an emotional breakdown in Dr. Blink's office after tearfully admitting "MY DADDY DIDN'T LOVE ME!"
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Spoofed, of course.
    Athena: Just remember with great power comes—
    Major Amazing: ...great responsibility?
    Athena: ...not being a DUMBASS!
  • Woman Scorned: After Emma is unceremoniously dumped by the superhero Teen Crush, she reveals all of his confidential issues to her friends.