Friday, May 26, 2006

Losers of Mass Destruction

Yesterday, we looked in on a meeting of the Zodiac, undoubtedly one of the worst-dressed groups in supervillain history. Cancer, a.k.a. Baron Crabclaw Von Shortshorts, was doing a piss-poor job of chairing, and most of the other members were either anxious or about to nod off. Fortunately, Scorpio made an announcement that really livened up the proceedings:

all my android friends

Yes, as that famed 22nd century cyber-clone Hank Williams 8.5 once sang, "All my android friends are coming over tonight." If you're wondering what the holy bejeebus an "LMD" is, it stands for "Life Model Decoy." If I recall correctly, SHIELD would use them to throw would-be spies and assassins off the trails of their secret agents. So that's where the "decoy" part comes in. It's still a stupid name, though.

It turns out Jake Fury (Nick's brother!) was resurrected by the magical talking Zodiac Key as a BLT -- er, I mean, "LMD." I'm sorry, but does that make the least bit of sense to anyone? Highly classified government technology being used by talking magic keys? That's a hell of a security leak. Next thing you know, the Wand of Watoom will have its own Helicarrier.

And now Android Jake has made eleven other androids to replace his criminal teammates. And all because they laughed at Jake's idea to raise money with a bake sale. (An evil bake sale!) You could have just resigned, Jake, but no! Seriously, dude, sometimes you just have to let that kind of shit go.

One thing in Jake's favor is that the all-new, all-robot Zodiac has better costumes (mostly) than their fleshy predecessors. Not all of them, mind you. The very idea of a female Taurus "the bull" is kind of alarming to me, but on the other hand she'd make a good girlfriend for the Serpent Society's equally chunky and mannish Anaconda. The new Capricorn is a furry, goat-like female, so again, big aesthetic turn-off for yours truly. Talk to me after you've had a thorough waxing, dear. The new Virgo bores me to sobs with her plain pink jumpsuit, and the new Aquarius looks just like this one guy who tried to sell me a hand-knitted poncho in the parking lot outside a Phish concert. He even had a gun! (He really wanted me to buy that poncho.) I like the new Aries, though, with his sleek, red-and-silver Kirbyish armor. Nicely done, Aries! The new Leo is only middling for me, but I do appreciate how all his teeth had been filed down to razor-sharp points. Not that we ever saw him bite anybody. It wasn't the 90's yet!

the music of the night

Hey, it's Taylor Hicks as Wolverine as the Phantom of the Opera! As an android! Soulless Patrol! You all know how much I dig prematurely silver hair, but not when it's styled to resemble a hang-glider. Fun fact: after he died, Sagittarius willed his gold-plated shoulder pad to Aquaman, his mini-crossbow to the Huntress, and his hair to the Fadeaway Man.

The next panel describes one of the weirder and least necessary features of Jake's STD's. I mean LMD's! LMD's! What is wrong with me today? Where was I? Oh, yeah. To quote:

"They know it's a Life Model Decoy, but it moves like a man-- moans like a man-- dies like a man!"

Whoa, back up there. It... moans... like a man? Huh. So, just hypothetically, if a fella wanted to buy one of these android guys, would he have to pay up front, or is there some kind of installment plan? And does it arrive fully-assembled, or is it like a kit or something? I'm not asking for myself; there's this friend of mine, see...! *sweats profusely*

pole dancing

One annoying habit of the Zodiac androids was their incessant chatter about their individual star-signs. Even in the middle of a battle, they just babble on and on about why they're performing a particular move and how it relates to the symbolism of the Zodiac, and blah, blah, blah. (Special dialogue by Chris Claremont!) Imagine spotting some sexy guy or gal in a bar, and you say "Hey, beautiful, what's your sign?" and suddenly their reply ends up being a five-day filibuster and the doors are all locked from the outside and the restrooms are closed and there's no AC and the juke box is stuck on "A Moment Like This" and after the first day all the beer is gone and the only thing left to drink is creme de menthe. That's what it's like fighting the Zodiac. And Libra? I know it's the 80's, honey, but not everything needs flared shoulders. Especially not a robe. Unless you're on Orando, and then it's required under penalty of death. I really dig Gemini's outfit, though. Too cute! It's the pointy skirt that really sells it for me. Very Ditko-esque. Thumbs up, Gemini! Thumbs up.

run away

The other problem with the Zodiac MMORPG's -- sorry, LMD's -- is that their personalities were designed to match the supposedly standard personalities of everyone born under their particular sign. And not all of those personalities were predisposed to fighting. Like with ol' Pisces here. (Looks like somebody exposed Pamela Anderson to the Terrigen mists, huh?) And seriously, hon, you need to tone down all the dorsal finnery a tad. One strong gust of wind and you'll wind up on a rooftop next to some kid's frisbee. New Improved Cancer gets my vote of approval by evoking a crab with -- gasp! -- armor, and purple-and-orange armor at that. (Bonus points!) He looks a little clunky, though. His boots could be beer kegs. And if they were, that would be just awesomely cool but somehow I doubt it. Also? I'd love to see how he runs in that get-up. I'm guessing it would be like when I was Blockade Tot, playing with my action figures, and I'd make the stiff plastic bodies "run" by rocking them back and forth while sliding them forward.

As for Scorpio, I appreciate that he's trying to improve the overall look of the Zodiac cartel, but "Physician, heal thyself." You've got a cowl over a red facemask, plus the most convoluted underpants I've seen since Lightning Lad. Not to mention the bug on your head. Not even Zatanna could pull that look off.

Okay, I'm done with you. Everybody dance now!



Anonymous said...

In many ways, I blame the Royal Flush Gang for making it look so easy. Theme supervillain groups sound like such a good idea and end up like this.
Taurus: Your shoulders are wide enough, you don't need shoulder wings. They're the ones who should feel insecure and threatened, not you.
Sag: After I saw an arrow sticking out of your chest, I realized that your stupid Wolverine hair is supposed to look like the sillhouette of feathers on an arrow. Good job. Get shot in the chest with arrows more often.

Marc Burkhardt said...

Kudos on the Taylor Hicks reference. You may be the first comic book blogger to achieve this monumental goal!

"I am an LMD!" I think that line is going to be used in an upcoming "cyber-punk" version of Spartacus.

Anonymous said...

Blockade Boy-

I'm so glad you commented on the fashions of the android Zodiac! They are some of my favorite villains ever since Quicksilver sent them against the Avengers in West Coast Avengers Annual #1.

If you go back to see them in that annual, you will find an alarming difference between their appearances in that story versus the one you are showing us pictures of...

In the annual (which takes place first chronologically) the only woman in the whole group is VIRGO.

You know what that means.

Five members of the Zodiac Cartel underwent gender transformations sometime in the interim.

Very disturbing.

You'd think that the fashion sense of the "feminized" androids would have IMPROVED, but alas, the male versions of Taurus, Libra, Pisces, and Capricorn actually rocked much better outfits. I have no explanation for this except maybe Virgo helped them pick out their clothes at the supervillain store. Go back and look at the annual to see what I mean. It's a good story, too.

A half-male, half-female Zodiac makes sense, though. Points for having female Pisces actually LOOK LIKE A FISH and have aquatic-based powers, unlike the male version (again, see the annual-truly, a head-scratcher). Points off for the female Taurus (like you stated already).

And you're right. Gemini is sporting a totally rad look, no matter what gender s/he is. I like the contrast between her red ponytail and her stark black-white split look.

Points off for Aquarius being, um, basically a guy with a mullet, sunglasses and metal legs toting a backpack super-soaker. I kid you not.

What planning went into giving Aquarius his powers? "OK, Sagitarius...the archer...easy one, we have you shoot arrows. Next! Ah, Aries. You'll be strong and ram stuff. That's a no-brainer. Oh, Aquarius...what does that mean...water bearer, eh? Let's see, maybe we can have you toss water balloons at the Avengers...or have a big super soaker...or you could change the bottle on the water cooler at Zodiac headquarters. You want the soaker, eh? Excellent choice! Here you go, sport. Next!"

Anonymous said...

Heh. Cancer looks like an action figure in that panel.

I agree about Gemini. She's got that Carnaby Street flair going. I actually think the skirt would work smashingly as shiny vinyl or patent leather and the leggings as opaque stockings. Groovy!

And you know, if Libra went ahead and turned those shoulder pads into an actual set of scales, it might almost work, in a Maximus the Mad sort of way.

But BB, on another note...why'd you have to go and reference C&C Music Factory?!?

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I've had a much better idea for Libra. She should totally have a large set of scales, with each cup large enough to accommodate one of her feet, that she stands astride while grasping the handle and flies like New God Orion's flying harness. That would be awesome.

And heck, doable. If they got their hands on SHIELD's LMD tech, the Angel Squad's hover platforms should be a piece of cake.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Constantine: Yup, nothing tops the Royal Flush Gang. (Although in the "Outsiders" comic, Mike Barr evidently made it his personal mission to try. That thing was positively crawling with themed villain groups!) And I never realized that Sagittarius' hair might be meant to look like the feathers on an arrow. Good eye, buddy! It even makes sense, in an Al Milgrom kind of way.

Fortress Keeper: It was either gonna be Hicks or Leno. Is Hicks played out already? He is? I knew I should have referenced Jay Leno instead... stupid, stupid Blockade Boy! *punches self in the thigh*

Anonymous: I looked at the annual and I agree about some of the costumes. F'rinstance, that's the first decent Taurus costume I've seen on a member of the Zodiac, like, ever. Pisces looks way too much like Chlorophyll Kid to me, though. Although technically, I guess Pisces was first. And in an alternate dimension. I don't know how that would affect any copyright infringement lawsuits.

Chawunky: Holy cats, Gemini really could have been the darling of the Mod Set, couldn't she? She's got Go-Go Chex Appeal! And your idea would have Libra riding around on giant hi-tech Romper Stompers, huh? Interesting. I'd just want to make sure the contraption was complicated enough that she didn't have time to deliver some interminable lecture on the etymology of her name or somesuch.