Major Bummer is a humorous Superhero Comic Book created by John Arcudi (writer) and Doug Mahnke (artist), published by DC Comics between 1997 and 1998, set outside the regular DCU. The series follows Lou Martin, slacker extraordinaire, who wakes up one day with superhuman muscles and strength and capable of building rayguns in his sleep. Lou, committed to an existence of videogames and B-movies, tries his hardest to keep the powers from changing his life but usually fails.
Constantly trying to enlist Lou in the fight against evil are a group of "superheroes" with more goodwill than actual ability: The Gecko, a nerdy guy who can walk on walls; Val, a girl with the power of flight; Francis, a haughty hippie with a sonic scream; and Lauren, an old lady who can see the future but not usually concentrate long enough to communicate it. The threats faced by the team include, among other things: a team of equally incompetent "supervillains", a Loony Fan of Lou's who gives "help" that's arguably as dangerous as the villains themselves, and the Tyrannosaurus Reich an intelligent Nazi T. Rex from Another Dimension.
As it turns out, the superpowers are a "gift" from Zinnak and Yoof, two alien college students who are writing a thesis on Earth hero culture: part of their project is sending out "extreme enhancement modules" (EEMs) that give superpowers, attract their hosts to each other be them friend or foe and attract trouble in general. Lous EEM was actually meant for Martin Louis, an activist and philanthropist, who would have whipped the team into shape but taking the module back from Lou would kill him which he objects to.
The series suffered from low sales and was eventually cancelled after fifteen issues, but at least Arcudi and Mahnke had time to write a properly epic Grand Finale as close to epic as Lou can come, at least involving a Time Crash. Due to its status as something of an oddball in the DC lineup the series was not reprinted for a long time, until Complete Major Bummer Super Slacktacular finally came out in 2011.
Major Bummer contains examples of the following tropes:
- Another Dimension: Usually accessible through Antimatter leaks. One dimension is the origin of Tyrannosaurus Reich.
- Alternate Universe: Some dimensions are this, most notably the one the crazy and superpowered Zinnac comes from.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Lou in a nutshell. He could be the greatest hero Earth has ever known, but he doesn't find superheroing as interesting as B-movies. Bonus points for being brilliant in the intellectual sense as well (thanks to his Super Intelligence).
- Contrived Coincidence: Justified for the most part: people with EEMs become magnets for other enhanced individuals and for all kinds of other weirdness, so their life will be as action packed as a comic book. On the other hand, Lou keeps bumping into Martin Louis, who has no EEM and shouldn't have any special connection to him.
- Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Lou briefly becomes one — complete with embarrassing outfit — for Val's dad, an ice cream magnate. It doesn't work out, in no small part because Lou's Loony Fan Milton sabotages him so that "his super-heroism will not be prostituted".
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus Reich.
- Expy: The Gecko, a nerdy guy who can walk on walls, is clearly a riff on Spider-Man. Lampshaded in his first appearance:The Gecko: So you see, this is why I call myself The Gecko. I can crawl right up walls just as if they were floors.
Lou: Sounds like a spider to me.
The Gecko: [crestfallen] Yes, well, some people might see it that way.
- Fat and Skinny: Yoof and Zinnac, respectively, until Zinnac loses his body.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Serious and educated Zinnac, and bungling dimwit Yoof. Until Zinnac loses his body and his sanity with it, leaving Yoof as the only one who can fill the role of Mr. Exposition.
- In issue #3 Lou calls Nunzio "Slappy". Nunzio takes offense and replies "Try callin' me slappy again. See what happens". Lou calls him "Slappy" again in issue #9 just before killing him. In the following issue, the EEM revives Nunzio as a brain-damaged, feral beast who can only repeat "Slaaaapeeee!".
- Yoof mentions in issue #10 that exposing an EEM to open air has a "very high disaster potential". Two issues later we discover that exposed EEMs find a new host but, if not reconfigured, make them crazy in the process. Which is what happened to an Alternate Universe Zinniac who is coming to conquer our world.
- Reggie lets his Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness slip for a few seconds in issue 7. It's the first sign there is a second mind in his body.
- Gravity Master: Nancy, from the villain team, has the power to make things light as a feather or much, much heavier with a touch.
- Heroic Build: Lou and his villainous counterpart Nunzio get Super Strength as a power, and develop muscles so big they look more cartoonish than heroic. Nunzio's new body, unfortunately for him, is not just big but looks like a cross between an ogre and a lizard.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Extreme Enhancement Modules. They graft onto a host's heart, giving them superpowers and attracting other supers and trouble in general. They can also heal their hosts and even bring them Back from the Dead (within certain limits).
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Lauren has dozens of cats in her house. She could be considered a borderline Crazy Cat Lady, although she's more scatterbrained than crazy.
- Losing Your Head: After a fight with Lou, all that remains of Zinnac is a disembodied head kept alive by alien technology.
- Later in the series, Reggie chops off his own head and puts it on life support, because he doesn't want to share a body with his second brain.
- Lovable Coward: Lou's instinctive reaction to supervillains is to run away as fast as he can, a fact that he'll happily acknowledge and defend.
- Magnetic Plot Device: EEMs again.
- Meta Origin: Most of the superhuman powers in the story come from the aliens' experiments.
- Military Rank Names: Invoked by the title, but absent in the comic itself, where no one uses a codename (except The Gecko). The closest we get is Lauren commenting that Lou should lead the team and have the rank of major like her former husband.
- Mind Hive: The villain Reggie is an odd example, in that the EEM that enlarged his brain also turned a nerve cluster in his colon into a fully sentient second brain — and the two don't like each other.
- Ms. Fanservice: From the hero team, Val (who shows Underboobs), and from the villains, Nancy (who's not wearing much more than a bra for a top).
- No Product Safety Standards: Using a second-hand EEM makes you insane if you don't recondition it first. Think it doesn't sound too bad? Did we mention that exposed EEMs graft themselves automatically to the nearest person?
- OOC Is Serious Business: At one point Reggie speaks a sentence in plain English, and looks very concerned after he realizes he did. This toreshadows the revelation that there is a second mind inhabiting his body.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Parodied on the cover of issue 12.
- Power-Upgrading Deformation: Several of the villains become rather grotesque when they get superpowers. Nunzio becomes a hulking ogre-like brute, Carlos gets Creepily Long Arms (and legs) and Absurdly Sharp Claws, while Reggie's head becomes huge and covered in veins.
- Rapid Aging: Happens to Lou when he falls into the time stream without protective equipment.
- Reality Warper: Moe, from the villain team, has the power to rearrange matter. The series was cancelled before we find out if he ever figured out how to do anything really impressive with it.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Reggie is such an an extreme example that he is utterly incomprehensible to anyone.Reggie: Hield that rabelaiesian integument, jabbernowl. Anneal your crasis, or a trucidation is ineluctable.
Lou: [to Carlos] What the hell — ?
Carlos: Nobody knows.
- Shock and Awe: Bridget, from the villain team, can generate electricity.
- Spell My Name with a "The": The Gecko, the only one who bothered coming up with a secret identity.
- Stout Strength: Middle-aged Lou from the future, while still superstrong, has certainly let himself go.
- Super Intelligence
- Lou's massively augmented intelligence would enable him to build rocket engines from garbage, comprehend languages he never heard before and see inhabitants of the astral plane with a little concentration. Too bad he never concentrates. Alternatively, he can access his intellect subconsciously, such as when falling asleep or daydreaming.
- Played straighter with Reggie on the supervillain team, who has a ginormous head, builds Applied Phlebotinum in his spare time and is a comically extreme case of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- Super Loser: Our "heroes" and most villains. It's pretty much the whole point of the comic.
- Super Zeroes: Ditto.
- Time Crash: The Grand Finale arc of the series involves a time machine exploding in the timestream in the past, launching history as shrapnel into the future, and causing past events to overlap with the present. Time travelers need to be cautious when time traveling to fix it, as they risk being impaled on jagged chunks of time if exposed.
- Wall Crawl: The Gecko and Carlos have this. In the Gecko's case, this seems to be his only power.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Half of the "good guys" team is stuck with abilities that don't really help in combat. The Gecko can only Wall Crawl, Val can fly but her offensive abilities are limited to pelting adversaries with garbage, and Lauren's precognition is useless half of the time (she gets better — or at least luckier — later in the series). Their abilities could be useful in the hands of a skilled person — which they are not.