DIRECTORY TO A NONEXISTENT UNIVERSE #1, Independent Comics Group, December 1987
This is a comic I first saw on D&D night in the hands of my good friend Robert Tam. Loved it. Took me a couple years to track down my own copy. This one's dedicated to Rob...
Directory to a Nonexistent Universe
Full title: Kerry Callan's Directory to a Nonexistent Universe
Strengths: Funny as hell.
Weaknesses: There wasn't a second issue.
Kerry Callan's Directory is basically a parody of Marvel Universe or Who's Who, starring characters of his own devising, in a clean, black and white, illustration style, each character usually accompanied by one-panel art. The characters are either funny takes on other comic book characters (The Envelope) or terrible puns (Here's-Looking-At-You Kid).
I don't want to spoil the whole thing for you, but the Directory includes the Black & Blue Panther, a masochist who loves to be beaten up and has clearly marked and unprotected the painful areas of his body on his costume (no special groin area though).
Remember how Bruce Wayne was inspired by a bat that flew through his window, frightening him? Well the Envelope has a similar origin... Can you guess what it is? Of course, the Envelope wasn't traumatized by anything so extreme as his parents being shot in front of him. He was pretty angry that he forgot his checkbook one day and couldn't pay for his groceries though. The Directory also has an entry for the totally average Mark!
Callan's superhero world is one where heroes are more likely to team up for group therapy than to catch criminals. Characters have prestigious jobs like working in coat hanger factories and while some don't have any super-powers, they might still be darn good athletes. "Probably better than you are."
After the encyclopedia entries, you get a short and ridiculous comic book story that includes them all. I think this is probably their only appearance, but I guess it justifies the need for an encyclopedia. It's a simple tale of characters being whisked off by a Beyonder-like being and forced to endure each other for 8 pages. Stupid-Man gets taken while he's trying to eat soup with a knife, and so on. Almost everyone makes it, but the Missing Lynx is conspicuously absent (from the Directory too). It's rather light on plot, but heavy on bad puns.
I suppose this is a winner only if, like me, you think puns are the height of wit...