Monday, April 24, 2006

Moral Realignment Challenge: The Elongated Man And Doctor Light

good doctor light

The above image and the following "next issue" blurb can be found on the letters page of "Doctor Light" #128 (April, 1981) which was published on Earth 3.1:

NEXT MONTH: Why is DOCTOR LIGHT'S glamorous girlfriend, SUE DEARBON: GIRL P.I. being shadowed by that gruesome sideshow performer-turned-criminal, the eerie ELONGATED MAN? The Knight of Light and the Socialite Sleuth have only 24 hours to find the answer, and their only clue is... a horoscope? Don't miss "Identity: Pisces" by Paul Kupperberg, Jose Delbo, and Frank Chiaramonte!

If you're wondering just what the hell is going on, this is the first of my "moral realignment" costume design challenges, in which I reinterpret a comic book hero's costume for a villainous role, and vice-versa. Initially I was going to do just one costume at a time, but I decided it would be more fun to do them in opposing pairs. Let's look at the originals:

bad doctor lightgood elongated man

For the heroic version of Doctor Light, I ditched the fin on his head and recut the cowl so it could expose a youthful head of hair. And though it pained me, I shaved off his dapper goatee. I mean, I'm partial to facial hair but I know that for a classically styled superhero, it's almost never done. The classic comic book cliche is that beard=evil. So it had to go. I redesigned his costume to show more white and I replaced the black with a friendly Supermannish sky blue. I simplified the starburst logo, which incidentally made it look like the Marvel "Captain Marvel" logo -- not on purpose but I thought it was a cool tie-in so I kept it. And I got rid of the cape in favor of those shoulder patches I like so much.

For the villainous version of the Elongated Man, I almost gave him Doctor Light's old fin, but it made him look too much like one of those lame Golden Age Marvel heroes. They were always fighting crime with their faces completely exposed and a big dorky fin on their heads. So I went the Lex Luthor route and made him bald. And I gave him a goatee! Because facial hair is comic book shorthand for menace. (Pfft. Whatever.) Leaving the head bare, I was inspired to go with the 70's variation on his costume, which had a bare chest. For the rest of the costume, I reversed the red and black, made the yellow trim zig-zag (kinda like Silver Age Marvel, I have to admit) and raised the border on the plunging neckline into a jagged, flared collar. Very 70's Dave Cockrum, very Nightcrawleresque. Finally, I replaced the blank oval on his belt with the Mask of Tragedy to reflect my vision of him as a shape-changing former sideshow act.

And true to comic book form, the good Doctor Light is handsome and the bad Elongated Man is... not.

I'll have another one of these in a week or so: the Flash and Murmur (of all people! But I think I found an interesting take on him).

What reversed hero/villain pairs would you like to see?


Anonymous said...

Hulk & the Leader
Superman & Mr. Myxyzptlk
FF & the Impossible Man
Capt. America & Armin Zola
Spider-man & Stegron, the Dinosaur Man
Flash & Gorrila Grodd
Wonder Woman & Silver Swan
Aquaman & the Human Flying Fish
Green Arrow & Clock King
Iron Man & M.O.D.O.K. -- and if you can do that one, you're a genius.

Steven said...

Murmur? Jeeze, a mute superhero (easy)who cuts people's throats and or gives them the ebola virus (more difficult). Good luck with all that.

In terms of a challenge, how about a villainous Jubilee and a heroic Apocalypse? I'm having trouble even imagining that one, assuming they keep the same name and powers (fireworks and, um, whatever it is that Apocalypse does).

Blockade Boy said...

M.O.D.O.K.: Mental Organism Designed Only for Kuddling.

These are some intriguing ideas, guys! Excellent!

Chawunky said...

Awesome. And you didn't even need to change their names! I truly like the concept of a villainous Elongated Man that's a former circus freak--it brings a whole bunch of creepy to the table.

Anyhoo. This is a neat idea. Now I've got to think of some match-ups...

How about the obvious: Joker vs. The Batman? Although part of what makes them work is the disconnect between their schticks and their moralities, so maybe that's too dull...still.

Chawunky said...

I just thought of another:

Daredevil vs. The Kingpin.

MarkAndrew said...

Very cool.

The Fortress Keeper said...

The villainous Red Bee vs. the heroic Stilt-Man!!!

SpiritGlyph said...

Interesting that you chose Dr. Light for your first Realignment. DC's actually had two good Dr. Lights, and the previous modifications involved taking away the goatee and adding sunglasses, or taking away the goatee and adding breasts. Your version is a far more thorough reinvention, but the basic recognizable elements are still there. Not bad.

Even better, though, is the evil Elongated Man. Those giant deformed hands are great, and nothing says creepy like a man with a plunging neckline. I look forward to what else we get from this exercise.

Blockade Boy said...

Chawunky: Funny you should mention the Joker and Batman... what put the germ of this idea in my head was a wordless story in one of the "animated Batman" comic specials, drawn by the late Dan "Josie and the Pussycats" DeCarlo. In a couple of panels the stern-looking Batman had a not-at-all-menacing Joker at bay, and I could easily imagine their roles being reversed. Anyway, since Batman already looks like an old-school-type bad guy, I don't plan on using him for this exercise -- too easy!

Spiritglyph: Yup, not only did the good male Doctor Light have sunglasses, he also had (wait for it) sweet-ass muttonchops! Which were, unfortunately, covered up by his cowl. I may be way off here (and I probably am), but I'm thinking the female Doctor Light briefly had a yellow-and-white costume instead of her standard black-and-white. Which is why I didn't use much yellow on my guy. Also, I simply adored her tiara.

Chawunky said...

Huh! Go figure. And yeah, Bats is too easy.

SpiritGlyph said...

Damn, I forgot her little tiara. I somehow thought that Kimiyo had the same headfin thing going on.

I'd say that Batman/Joker is probably the second easiest suggestion so far, after Hulk and the Leader. Hulk's pretty scary as it, and the Leader is basically Brainiac 5 with a big head. Not that Hulk has ever had any decent bad guys. Well, maybe Absorbing Man.

Oh, and how about Captain Marvel and Mr. Mind? I would love to see the adventures of a heroic Venusian caterpillar.

Constantine Polychromopoulos said...

I like your evil Elongated Man. It's great what you can get by just reversing what's there. I was trying to think of evil people with stretchy powers and drawing a blank until I came up with Madame Rouge. It seems so silly and harmless a power that it just ought to go to a good guy. Dr. Light looks good too. I like the sky blue. His colors make him look like a friendly summer sky.

What color is that that Evil Dr. Light wears? What kind of fabric is black with white highlights? Is that supposed to read as shiny? Like Mylar or silver? It baffles me.

Try Starfox and Thanos. I hate the characters, but it might be a challenge to make Death good and Sex evil. Or Jason Blood and the Demon.

Anonymous said...

Max Lord / Wonder Woman, obviously.

jamawalk said...

First off, the last comment, the dude who thinks Max Lord is evil... guh. What the hell. He was good for years, he's been bad for six months.

Suddenly he's an arch villian. Cripes.

Also, you could almost "suggest" the fin on doctor light's head just by using his youthful head of hair. Perhaps by giving him one of those "Faux-Hawks" that the kids like so much.

Just sayin.

Blockade Boy said...

No squabbling about other commenters, please. This is a place of welcoming. *plays calming New Age music on a glockenspiel*

Kick-ass idea about the "Faux-Hawk," Jamawalk! I kinda wish I'd thought of that. But then, I was going for a pre-Watchmen vibe with the designs and the writing style so I guess I wouldn't have been able to use it. Still. Pretty freakin' cool. It's funny; in my pencil sketches I tend to give my guys cartoony, freaked-out Steve Ditko hair -- y'know, where it's divided into a maximum of three huge pointy locks that fly off the head in different directions -- and I have to tone it down for the computer rendering.

Again, everyone, you've given me some terrific ideas. And you will be seeing some of them on my blog! Apocalypse/Jubilee is definitely one of them -- I've brainstormed a way Apocalypse could have worked as a heroic Marvel character, with a lengthy publishing history. I think you'll all get a kick out of it.

Bill S. said...

I love this one. Great job!