Wednesday, April 26, 2006
One Size Fits Small
Ah, the X-Men school uniform: the Yugo of superhero costumes! Plain, ill-fitting, and offered with your choice of alarmingly pointy mask or skull-pinching cowl, the standard X-Men uniform can instantly frumpify any hero! Even fruit-striped babe Marionette, noseless faux-Klingon Acroyear, pistachio-skinned Tourette's sufferer Bug, fairyland hottie Fireflyte, ass-kicking lump o' carrotcake dough Huntarr, and... well, Commander Rann was kind of a pill to start with, so he doesn't really count.
The above panel can be found in "The X-Men And The Micronauts" #2 (February, 1984), written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo with pencils by Butch Guice and inks by Bob Wiacek and Kelley Jones. Remember when Guice used to draw like that? Kinda chunkier, with a lot more bounce and verve, and not so stiffly realistic and dependant on photo reference? *sigh* I miss Chunk-style Guice. I mean, I can understand if he doesn't want to draw like that anymore, but I don't find his current style to be an improvement. The characters look rigid and awkward and a bit splintery, like they're constructed out of something that at any second could snap apart and embed itself in my eye. And the faces are usually dour and glum and lifeless, like the people are all posing for a passport photo that never gets taken. Bleh. Come back to us, Chunk-style!
Anyway, this comic has a crazy amount of mental/spiritual possession going on -- even for a Claremont book! The Micronauts are mentally enslaved by that Entity guy, and the Entity guy has taken over Professor X, plus the issue starts with one of Claremont's patented nightmare sequences, in which Bug gets transformed against his will into an actual bug and Marionette is made to dance around like an actual marionette. It's so obvious; why didn't anybody think of that before? Oh yeah. Because it's obvious. Effing Claremont. (Get well soon! My thoughts and prayers go out to you! Just don't ever write any more comics, ever, ever again, okay? Thanks.) But here's the cherry on Claremont's Infinitely Rehashed Plot Sundae:
Baron Karza in Kitty Pryde's body. I know what you're thinkin'. And it means you're going straight to Hell. See you there!
This is from Kitty's "Ariel" phase, between her "Sprite" and "Shadowcat" identities. I remembered it as being somewhat unattractive. Imagine my astonishment to reread this comic after twenty-odd years and to discover that it is, in fact, a complete eyesore. The fit: baggy. The color scheme: lime and cantaloupe. And the facepaint! Ye gods! Thank God Kitty was on a team that went out on missions instead of doing on-the-spot emergency work like Spider-Man. ("Somebody help! The 1st National Bank is being robbed!" "This sounds like a job for... Ariel! In about half an hour, which should allow me to find a women's bathroom that doesn't have a huge line in front of the door and to get my face made up just exactly right... y'know what, better make that forty-five minutes... everybody just stay where they are, alrighty? I'll see you again in about forty-five minutes... or maybe an hour. Just to be safe.")
And now, a Valentine's Day message from Hannibal Lecter.