Friday, July 14, 2006

Moral Realignment Challenge: Green Arrow And Clock King

Jeremy finally consented to let me have my own Flikr account, so everything's a go!


Look out! Green Arrow's got a Mulling It Over arrow! Hmmmm...

Maybe that joke was lame, but it's not nearly as lame as Clock King's costume. He's dressed for scuba diving, for Chrissake! There's nothing intimidating about him at all, other than the fact you can't see his face, and the notion that he's so batshit crazy that he thought that costume was a good idea. Does he need a costume redesign? But of course. But he's a bad guy, so I could only live with myself if I did it hypothetically. Unlike my other costume designs, which really happened. So let's put him and that dirty hippie Green Arrow in the Moral Realignment Challenge! That's the one where I switch the roles of a hero and a villain and imagine how they might have appeared in the world of comics.

Let's go!

Excerpted from the essay "Changing Times: Clock King In The 60's" from "Alter Ego" #38 (2004) published on Earth-P:


"...and most notably, bringing in leggy France Nguyen to replace Barbara Eden in the role of the Black Canary. But even these tweaks couldn't increase the show's popularity with a viewing public that had grown tired of camp -- and only halfway through its fourth season, the 'Clock King' television program was canceled.

The Mechanically-Minded Marvel continued to enjoy success in his original medium of comics. By 1968, Clock King was featured in five monthly DC publications. In addition to 'Clock King' and 'Inventive Comics', he was a member in good standing of 'The Six Scouts Of Triumph' and enjoyed team-ups with Calendar Man in 'All-Time Finest Comics' and with a rotating slate of guest-stars in a former Western title, 'The Big Hand And The Little Hand.'

Still, the swift demise of Clock King's TV show weighed heavily on the minds of DC staffers. For years, they had intentionally mimicked the program's light, comedic tone in their comics. Now, they worried that the comic book audience was going to turn on the character just as the television audience had done. In a weekend-long brainstorming session, plans were laid out to dramatically overhaul the character. Familiar gimmicks such as his boxing glove cuckoo clock and his sundial hover-discs were scrapped. Stories would return Clock King to his pulp-era roots, placing a much stronger emphasis on his detective skills, and reestablishing his personality as a curmudgeonly genius with an obsession for order and logic.* To signal Clock King's new direction, he was given a visual makeover courtesy of superstar artist Neal Adams. Adams discarded many of the lingering Golden Age elements of the costume, including the trunks, the enormous sash, the large 'K' on his chest, and even his crown! Clock King's new look featured Roman numerals, sleeker boots and gloves, a new cape inspired by the Elizabethan era, and -- quite startling for the time -- a fanciful, three-pronged beard. The beard, while undoubtedly quite regal, was also a blatant marketing ploy by DC to appeal to the college-age market. Although the letter columns were beset by angry fans demanding to know how Clock King could wear such distinctive facial hair in both his superheroic and civilian identities without anyone noticing, DC's editors refused to address the issue. Within a year, most readers seemed to have accepted the situation, perhaps chalking it up to 'the magic of comics.'


DC launched Clock King in his 'Startling New Direction' (as the cover blurbs on his comics phrased it) with 'Inventive Comics' #381 (October, 1968). The classic story pitted him against one of the most lurid foes of the hero's early days.

The Green Arrow was a ghastly, violent figure, and had appeared in comics only once before. As told in "Inventive Comics" #30 (August, 1939), the Green Arrow was originally a mortal man named Oliver Queen. Queen, a dashing but arrogant sportsman, knowingly trespassed on a sacred Native American burial ground while bow-hunting and was cursed by a 'savage witch-doctor.' The archer was struck dead on the spot, only to be resurrected as a zombie-like killing machine who would systematically murder nearly every member of his family. The gruesome tale concluded with Clock King crushing the monster within the workings of a printing press.

The 1968 story, with a script by Bob Haney and artwork by Adams, reintroduced Oliver Queen as a corrupt millionaire who had dropped dead of a heart attack while lobbying to dump chemical waste in a reservation. Reanimated by his own bigotry, the new version of Green Arrow embarked on a killing spree of every Native American who had ever opposed his business interests, framing a handsome young activist for the crimes. Clock King cleared the man's name, punched a rabid coyote in the face, crushed the Green Arrow's living corpse beneath a totem pole, delivered a stirring speech on tolerance and jumped over a gorge in a souped-up dune buggy.

*The quirkier, more fairy-tale aspect of Clock King would not be seen again until 2002, when his two surviving comics were helmed by Grant Morrison and Neal Gaiman.

...Yes, my Clock King redesign is very "Royal Flush Gang" but I can't help it; I just love their look so much! The same goes for Jack Of Hearts. I originally was going to put clock hands on his chest but it looked too busy. And the beard, for me, was the icing on the cake. Green Arrow's beard comes to two points? Clock King's comes to three! Take that, hippie! As for Green Arrow himself, I thought about going the right-wing paramilitary route with him or making him a Manson-type hippie cult leader. But I didn't want to make him look too similar to Evil Flash. And then I hit on the Solomon Grundy riff and everything clicked. The Silver Age costume for Clock King, by the way? I don't honestly think it looks good. (Trunks over tights? *shudder*) I just wanted to show what he might have looked like as an old-fashioned hero.


Scipio said...

To CK's first outfit, I'd offer as friendly amendment a contextualizing clockface behind his chest logo and little clockfaces on his cape. I mean, it's just NOT Clock King without lots of little clockfaces...

As Green Arrow, well, it couldn't happen to a more appropriate person.

If you like the RFG (and, really, who doesn't?), wait till you see the custom RFG heroclix I'm having made...!

Unknown said...

It's a good design, but I can't help but be reminded of the Burker King... King. "Have breakfast with the Clock King!" Creepy.

Anonymous said...

Nice. The color combo is a trifle risky but I think it works. The coat-cloak and Roman numerals I like particularly.

And tell me that hour hand on his boot is removable.

Menwhile on Earth-P, I'm sure Clock King's regular team-ups with early gay-rights icon Rainbow Archer and the mischievous, trippy Count Vertigo were things of beauty.

Anonymous said...

Or were they other members of the Six Scouts? I've got that Earth-P Overstreet Guide here somewhere...

Phillip said...

The beard is great! Also, welcome to the world of flickr! I made you a contact. I expect to see good things!

Marc Burkhardt said...

Sheer genius! I want a copy of those Earth-P (P?) comics!!!

Anonymous said...

Sweet! I love the format you wrote this in, and the redesigns of both characters are intriguing. My only question is, what powers/weapons does Clock King, the hero, have? I don't remember the villain being capable of much of anything except looking goofy.

The "Six Scouts of Triumph" is amusing. I'd love to see you design a heroic team with that name, consisting of your Clock King, plus re-aligned Calendar Man, Signal Man, Ten-Eyed Man, Crazy Quilt, and Spinner!

Jeremy Rizza said...

Scipio: Cool!

Bittercupojoe: Y'know, if you look in a mirror and say the Burger King's name three times, he'll give you an artery-clogging sandwich.

Chawunky: Thanks! And sure, I suppose the hour hand could be removable. He could use it to "clock" bad guys on the noggin!

Phillip and Fortress Keeper: Thanks, fellas! I could really go for an Earth-P comic myself.

Anonymous: Bad Clock King doesn't really do all that much. Good Clock King is kind of like Batman. No natural superpowers, but he's in top shape, a great fighter, and a genius. In Clock King's case, he's invented a lot of cool wind-up clockwork devices to help him fight crime: bomb-defusing robots, robot spies with microphones and the like, plus the goofy/cool clock-themed weapons, such as the ones I mentioned in the post and others like the hourglass teargas cannister and bolos made from grandfather clock weights. In his "serious" period, he just used the more realistic weapons and none of the toy-like devices; he started using those again just a few years ago when the tone of his comics lightened up.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Anonymous: Also, I like the idea of doing other Scouts, but it'll have to be one-at-a-time. Congratulations, they're now on the list!