Monday, May 15, 2006

Blackened Catfish, With Ants

new duds

I think we've all been there. You've had your eye on a certain special someone. You want to impress him, so you get yourself all duded up, above and beyond what you usually do -- it's practically a makeover! -- and then, at the very last minute...

ants in the pants get ants in your pants and flee the scene. (Panels from "Marvel Two-In-One" #96, February 1983.)

Such is the life of Shellshock, who appeared in only two comics before this and one afterwards. That last one being "Captain America" #319, in which he was killed by Scourge. I can't say it was much of a loss, costume-wise. And yet, I think if he'd had a better costume, he might have been used more often and therefore escaped his editorially-mandated death. And when I say "mandated," I mean the conversation probably went something like this:

Writer: Hey, you mind if I kill off Shellshock?
Editor: Who? Yeah, sure... whatever. Knock yourself out.

Seriously, look at the guy. There is absolutely nothing of interest in that costume -- except for that mask, which is merely odd and which bears no relation whatsoever to his codename or powers. It makes him resemble a blackened catfish, or maybe the lovechild of Daredevil and Doctor Doom. It's ridiculous.

If I had designed Shellshock's costume, I would have made him look less like the Golden Age Sandman and more like a policeman in riot gear, with a bulkier outfit and helmet. Maybe some shoulderpads! (Shoulderpads! Squee!) And I'd at least try to think of a villainous emblem for his chest or sumpin'. Maybe something with a grenade, or concentric rings. I dunno. The main point is, if Shellshock had gone to me for advice, he'd still be alive today and smack-dab in the middle of that Civil War crossover mess that's going on in his universe. Really, I'd like to think I could have deprived Scourge of all his victims. I can just see Scourge lurking around a corner, with the Basilisk in his gun sight, his hand trembling, thinking, "I must rid the world of his evil, and yet... he's just so damned handsome!"

And then he'd toss the gun to the floor, and run away, weeping hysterically.


Anonymous said...

Of course you realize that you must now present the slavering masses with your concept to make Shellshock's dreams of irresistability come true.

You must!

In other news, I don't think I've ever seen a supervillain echo the shape of his weapon with his helmet (man if that doesn't sound suggestive)--also, am I the only one who misses the old days of exotic, magenta-colored rifles?

Steven said...

My, what... remarkable dialogue in that third panel. Almost as if Shellshock feels the ants might be mistaken for excessive body hair and must explain EXACTLY what's going on to assuage any confussion.

That's some fine writing in the great Marvel tradition, let me tell you.

Second the call for Shellshock's redesign. Also curious when we might see a heroic Murmur or a villainous Jubulation Lee.

Scipio said...

The Shockblaster!!

Thank you, BB, thank you! I've been trying to remember what that was called was since I saw it at the Pleasure Chest in SF during Leather Weekend...

Now I can order one of mine own.

Maybe two!

Scipio said...

"That's some fine writing in the great Marvel tradition, let me tell you."

Must escape!

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is Shellshock tremendously BUFF? That dude had to be hittin' the gym before Scourge punched his ticket!

Blockade Boy, I'd love to see you review ALL the Scourge's victims...I'm curious to see what you think of Blue Streak...I actually thought that, of the whole lot, he looked really cool.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Chawunky, Steven and Anonymous: Reviewing and redesigning the outfits of Scourge's victims sounds like a great idea to me! I could make it a series. If I remember my Official Handbook info right, an ungodly number of the people Scourge shot/exploded/whatever made their debuts in the pages of "Marvel Two-In-One" and maybe "Marvel Team-Up" as well. I guess the editors figured that with two heroes, they didn't need to spend any time or care on the villain.

Steven (specifically): You're right; I'm remiss in getting those moral reversal pics on line. To tell the truth, I kinda lost confidence in my idea about Murmur after the first flush of excitement. Here's the pitch: Murmur already has a pointy jester collar, only in black (yawn) leather. So my idea was to take his existing costume and redo it in jesters' motley, plus ditch the creepy mask for something that exposes more of his face. And maybe do something about his haircut, assuming the hair is still exposed. And he'd be a JSA-style "legacy" hero, with the Trickster as his deceased mentor. Instead of cutting people's throats or infecting them with a virus, he'd (temporarily) silence criminals with a blowdart, maybe shot from a panpipe or a slide whistle or something similarly jolly. Other than that, he'd be your typical acrobatic streetfighter, armed with one of those jester-headed little wands that he could conk people on the head with. And he'd still be mute himself. Aaaannnywho, if y'all still think that's a good idea, I'll go ahead and do it.

Scipio: It's no "vibro-force" gauntlet, but it gets the job done!

Steven said...

Actually, that sounds like a really good idea for a hero, in the Jericho vein.

I'd ditch a mask altogether and go with white face mime make-up, with maybe a big black X painted across the lips. (too much?)

Similarly, I'd over do the haircut, so it ends up suggesting a jester hat (sort of like Krusty the Klown).

Plus, if his powers remain focused on "silencing" people, maybe he's an operative for Checkmate. Sneaking into enemy camps, silencing the guards with the blowdarts (a clever touch, btw!), then slitting the throat of a Naga Naga type. And then gone again, leaving only a passing Murmur.

Yes, that leaves him killing people, but at least he's killing people for the good guys. And I know "ninja spy" contradicts "brighly colored motley," but this is a world where FIRE can be a master assassin, and she glows in the dark

Jeremy Rizza said...

Steven: I like the idea of "jester hair" but I'm wary of making him look like Sideshow Bob. But I bet I could work out something. One of my sketches had Murmur with a mohawk that was separated into three loosely braided plaits, with a small sleigh bell tied onto the end of each one. Thematically I'm thinking Murmur could work along the lines of a Ditko character, looking like the Creeper but in personality more solemn, like the Question. Thanks for the ideas; you've given me a lot to chew on!