Saturday, July 22, 2006

Time-Travel Challenge: Cable To The Mechano-Sarge

Yikes! I'm late again. Sorry guys, but I was exhausted last night (don't ask). I'll try to get a jump on next week's posts by working ahead this weekend. I really do want to get back to posting in the mornings.

Annnyway, here's my new challenge! My idea is to take a character emblematic of a certain era and redesign them as if they'd been created in some other decade. In this case, I took Mister 90's Excess himself, Cable, and recreated him as a Golden Age hero.


Excerpted from Don Thompson's essay, "OK, Axis, Here We Come!" in "All In Color For A Dime", published in 1970 on Triple-Reverse-Counter-Earth:

The oddest character published by Atlas during World War 2 was the Mechano-Sarge -- a time-traveling amputee with a crude robotic claw in place of his left arm. Born Nathan Summers, the Mechano-Sarge was an infant Londoner orphaned and critically injured in the Blitz. A mysterious, robed figure spirited the child off to Lemuria, an other-dimensional land "apart from the strife that wracks the mortal world." In Lemuria, the physical laws we know did not apply and the air was denser than water. The strange atmosphere worked to heal and toughen the lad's body into "a brawny mountain of a man with muscles like steel cables." His rescuer was a holy man, and along with the other mystics of Lemuria, he trained the orphaned boy to perfect his mind. This resulted in some ill-defined and arbitrary psychic powers that would change with the whims of whichever writer was assigned to the feature that month. Nathan Summers might have stayed in Lemuria forever, but he was a born scrapper with a wild, boisterous personality that left him ill-suited for a life of meditation. The Lemurian holy men outfitted the now-grown Nathan with a mechanical arm and sent him back home. Since time passed more quickly in Lemuria than it did in the mortal plane, he arrived only one month after he'd left it. Once there, he donned an impractically garish military uniform of his own design, christened himself the Mechano-Sarge, and plunged into the chaos of the second World war.

The Mechano-Sarge's adventures were brutal, gory affairs, typical of the comic book fare of that time. In one outing, his power of "Astral Vision" detected an Italian saboteur on the other side of a steel door, so he used his metal claw to punch right through it and crushed the "Italio-Nazi rat's" skull like a tin can. On other occasions, the Mechano-Sarge tore his foes in half, shoved live grenades down their throats, and twisted their broken bodies into the shapes of pretzels. In his most memorable outing, he mentally commanded Mount Fuji to erupt, destroying a munitions factory (and coincidentally killing countless non-combatants).

The Mechano-Sarge's feature disappeared from "Marvel Mystery Comics" exactly one year after the close of World War 2. In this final phase of his career, the London-born hero took up residence in the United States, and fought with markedly less violence and enthusiasm against racketeers and bank robbers. In his last two stories, he was reduced to a supporting character, while the focus was shifted to an obnoxious band of urchins calling themselves "Sarge's Battlin' Orphans."

For the Mechano-Sarge version of Cable, I made his "techno-organic" left arm an old-timey robot claw. I simplified the scarring around his right eye since that nonsense wouldn't have flown back in the 40's. And he's bare-chested because:
A. It shows off the robot arm and the metal plating on his chest better.
B. It worked for Uncle Sam.
C. I love to draw muscley shirtless guys. Hey, look! A nipple!

Although I strive for practicality in most cases, I made the costume's color scheme very bright, like a typical Golden Age hero's. The 40's simplification of the costume -- those artists sometimes had to draw a whole story in the space of a weekend -- is the reason why I didn't put laces on the boots. I wanted to put myself in the frame of mind of a penciler from that period.

Next week: more art! But I haven't decided exactly what yet.


Steven said...

Hellrazor (and yes, I just got that horrific pun) inspires me to challenge you with:

Superman, if he had first appeared in the 70s (say, for the Donner movie) and NEVER BEFORE THAT POINT!

Anonymous said...

And again with the intriguingly elaborate, true-to-the-period backstory! Sweet.

I like this new challenge idea of your'n, though I can't for the life of me think of a proper retrogression (presuming that those will be the most interesting takes, since character updates are par for the course).

Wait--I've got it. How about Marvel's '70s refugee Dazzler, extricated from the disco scene and dropped into another era's dance craze?

Anonymous said...

LOVE IT! Now I want to see him fight Popeye. I am continously impressed by your entries. You're amazing! Your redesigns are the best on the Net!

A belated thanks for G.A. & Clock King! Incredibly cool! Very much looking forward to the New Teen Titans too! Thanks for stepping up to the challenge!

Hmmmm. Hows about Spider-Man and Black Cat retro-ed to the 40s AND gender reversed? (My Spidey sense detects a chance of nylons!)

I'd love to hear about the art materials you're using. Thanks for the fun!


Scipio said...

"How about Marvel's '70s refugee Dazzler, extricated from the disco scene and dropped into another era's dance craze?"


Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I love the homage to his real code name (cable-like muscles), the allusion to the gang of backup wiseguy kids who eventually supplant him in his own title (a la the original Daredevil) and the not-so-subtle jab at writers who can't make up their minds about exactly how powerful Cable's psi powers are supposed to be. Well done!

As a follow-up, why not do other 90's superhero icons such as Shatterstar...Domino...Maverick...
Feral...all as golden age characters? I could see you having fun with that.

And will we see more Scourge of the Underworld victims? I have a severe need to view a Hijacker makeover...

Steven said...

Uh, yeah, nevermind mine.

FLAPPER's the one I want to see.

Anonymous said...


Ha! I agree with Steven. Though I wouldn't mind seeing how Superman would look debuting in the '70s...

"the allusion to the gang of backup wiseguy kids who eventually supplant him in his own title (a la the original Daredevil)..."

Yeah, and (I didn't notice this until your comment) and ironic reference to Cable's effect on New Mutants. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

Also, BHB, making Black Cat a Golden-Age male character is simpler than it first sounded to me...after all, those were the days when male heroes weren't ashamed of showing off their bare legs!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I guess I may be the sole dissenter here, in that while I think it's cute, i'm not sure it says golden age to me. It seems more like an early 80's boys TV cartoon along the lines of He-man.

I love the back story though. I was reminded of an article I once read about the original captain atom stories where he fights communists by tossing atom bombs at them blowing up cities left and right.


Jeremy Rizza said...

Excellent ideas, guys! I'll have to take y'all up on a lot of them. The only problem I see with doing a 20's version of the Dazzler is that there weren't any superhero comics back then. However... there flapper-themed comic strips. Like "Fritzi Ritz." Hmmm...

There's definitely more installments of all my challenges in the future, so don't worry. I'll get to all of Scourge's targets eventually. I have to admit that the Hijacker and Steeplejack are puzzling, since they're both so goddamn boring. But I'll figure out sumpin'. And I've been hankering to do some kind of Shatterstar redesign so a time-travel version might be just the ticket!

Anonymous said...

Last year, Scipio and Devon spoke of the Johnsification of certain DC characters... and it was good.

Now, Blockade Boy undergoes the De-Liefeld-ification of the 90's... and I say ot is great.

How does Saint Blockade Boy sound? Because you deserve canonization for this.

Anonymous said...

Chawunky: "Also, BHB, making Black Cat a Golden-Age male character is simpler than it first sounded to me...after all, those were the days when male heroes weren't ashamed of showing off their bare legs!"

Homina, homina... Chawunky for president!

I thought the challenge would be in keeping him from looking like Wildcat, but your idea suggests a most promising path! The grandest allure I see in him: premature white hair!
It is always my hope our dear Blockade Boy will forever shun the simple approach to any suggestion... for his soul is fated only to bring forth the fabulous! Yea, and all men of taste called it sweet ass. Amen and pass the cornbread!

Bare legged BHB

Steven said...

< gump >But Big Head Boy, you don't have any legs< /gump >

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

BWAHAHAHA! Mentally commanded Mt Fuji to erupt!