Tuesday, September 05, 2006

International House Of Bitchcakes, Part Two

Who do you turn to when you want a foreign-born hero with an ugly costume, a stupid name, and a cliched theme? "Marvel Super Hero Contest Of Champions" #1 (June, 1982) is a good start! Second choice? DC's "Global Guardians."*** But Jeremy doesn't have any comics with those guys in them, so we'll have to stick with "Contest Of Champions."

"In Israel, Sabra repulses a raiding party with her energy-quills... only to find herself seized by the mysterious red glow!" I once repulsed a makeout party because I showed up right after eating twelve chili-dogs in one sitting. Even Polecat said, "Not cool, dude."

Sabra has way, way too much blank white space on her costume. I like the big spiny cape 'cause that's dramatic and interesting and all, but that's about it. And not that it matters necessarily, but a mask would have been nice. Hmm. Here's a puzzler: if she'd been created circa 1990 instead of circa 1980, do you think she'd have shown more skin? Like, maybe they'd have dressed her in the cape and nothin' else? (Saucy!) That'd put those sexually-repressed religious conservatives on the run, huh? They're barely even allowed to look at a woman's face, and then suddenly BAM! Sabra's glorious rack! All shall kneel before its unfettered perfection!

Also: "raiding party," huh? Nice. That euphemism is even further away from the actual truth than "militant." Even better, it contains the word "party." Who doesn't love a party? (Mean ol' Sabra, attacking a party! Boo! Boo, I say to you now.) Or maybe this is less a case of misplaced political sensitivities and more a case of Bill Mantlo realizing he almost had two different heroes fighting terrorists on the same page. Thank heavens he didn't try to -- oh, I don't know -- show one of them fighting a supervillain! Or maybe it was still too soon after the Munich games to have Islamic terrorists (there, I said it and I'd never take it back) in what was originally an Olympic tie-in book. I dunno. It's the world's least-tantalizing mystery.

According to the internet (so therefore it must be true) Sabra can lift fifty tons, run sixty miles per hour, and has superhuman reflexes, durability, endurance, and self-healing abilities. Plus that kooky cape. She's fought the Hulk at least twice, battled the New Warriors while being mind-controlled by a mystery villain whose identity -- get this! -- was never revealed, and joined Professor X's "X-Corporation," whatever the hell that is. Probably some damn pyramid scheme. But at least she's still alive, eh, Defensor?

"In the People's Republic of China, the hero with the powers of five gifted men drives off a gang of thieves... and then the Collective Man himself disappears!" And then the thieves come charging back in and continue with their looting!

Wow. What an ethnically appropriate yet undeniably butt-ugly costume! Mind you, I'm no fan of the Maoist uniform. Apparently the revolution was neither televised nor tailored! But at least the Collective Man isn't wearing one of those smushed-down train conductor hats all the Maoists have been commanded to like so much. Imagine you're at your favorite clothing store, the saleslady is ringing up your order, and she puts a complimentary trucker cap on the pile of garments. And you say "No thanks, I'd rather not take the trucker cap" and then the saleslady gets all mean, and tells you "Oh, you're taking the trucker cap! Everybody gets a trucker cap! and you say "Screw the trucker cap and screw you, honey; I don't need this shit" and then the saleslady presses a button and the next thing you know you're on a collective farm in Idaho planting potatoes for the next twenty years, wearing a trucker cap the whole time and sure, you hate it at first but after a while you get used to it and towards the end you love your trucker cap, it's like a part of your body, and you can't imagine ever not wearing a trucker cap. That's Chinese Communism in 1982.

Despite all this, I kind of like the Collective Man. He's like Duo Damsel, only two-and-a-half times better, and in reverse. Quintuplets who can turn into one super-strong dude? Rrrowr! I'll take it! Fun fact: the Collective Man likes to surprise and freak-out his romantic conquests by handing them a card post-coitally that says, "Congratulations! You've just enjoyed a six-way with the Collective Man!" The irrepressible scamp!

Apparently the Collective Man has weathered a lot of Marvel stories. Not necessarily good stories, but still--! He's alive and kickin', mostly, except for that one brother who got killed. But the Collective Man is still in business! Heck, he even managed to make the list of 198 mutants who didn't get depowered! He also got at some point a slightly better-looking costume, although I'm no fan of the high-collared, gloveless shirt thing. It makes him look too much like Billy Batson. Also, Shadow Kid once knitted me a sweater that looked almost exactly like that for Klordny Week. Don't tell him, but I pretty much immediately gave it to a homeless guy. (Future clothes!)

"In Saudi Arabia... the red glow claims the Arabian Knight!" Which is a damn shame since he was on his way to the hospital after accidentally ramming his sword through his crotch!

So, how do I like the Arabian Knight's costume? Trick question, as my answer is "I don't." He looks like yet another product of the Marvel Project Runway. "Designers, your challenge is to create a stylish outfit for a Bedouin super-hero with a flying carpet. But there's more! You must also make the carpet. You have a budget of four dollars and thirty-eight cents and you have two minutes to put it together, starting... now!" Gracious, but that's a plain, uninspired costume. Also, I've been looking at Bedouin turbans on the web and so far I haven't come across any that look like that. I suspect our "Arabian Knight" may actually be a Sikh gentleman from Mumbai who got extremely lost and is too proud to ask for directions. And check it: the carpet is solid red. That's not a hand-woven Arabian rug. That's a Stainmaster swatch from the Home Depot. Give it back, you thief!

After "Contest" the Arabian Knight joined the Pantheon, that Peter David supergroup that I could never bring myself to care about. (Wasn't there some poor dope who just had his head sticking out of a big rock, or maybe all that was left was his head and it was attached to a big rock? Jeebus.) And later on, in "Thunderbolts" maybe, he got depowered with a bunch of other folks around the globe and fell to his apparent doom. Like a chump. And Marvel reports that a "new" Arabian Knight will be fighting alongside whoever the hell the current Union Jack is, in a new mini-series. So apparently the first one didn't manage to land on anything soft. Like sand.

"And over West Germany... it spirits off the electrifying Blitzkrieg!" Not over East Germany, mind you, because the Commies would blast his freaking legs off, but over West Germany!

Blitzkrieg's costume is another one that's just "okay" in my opinion. It's your standard, boring "energy-generator's" costume, not a lot goin' on, and the chest logo looks like a pin-headed steer.

As for Blitzkrieg's post-"Contest" exploits? He was an extra in a couple of group scenes, both of them in Bill Mantlo books ("Hulk" and "Rom: Spaceknight") and then he got what probably seemed to him like a huge break: a multi-issue storyline in "Captain America!" Although for some reason his codename got changed to "Blitzkrieger." But hey, he joined a new German super-team, the Schutz Heiligruppe! That's cool, right? Well, there were a couple of problems with it. For one, it consisted of only three people, Blitzkrieg(er) included. And for another, one of the members was Zeitgeist, a.k.a. the Everyman, who was going on a superperson-killing spree. When Blitzkrieg(er) started his own investigation into these murders, Zeitgeist killed him.

Well, that sucks, huh? But at least it's better than just falling to his doom from a flying carpet.

These American ideas of foreign super-heroes are pretty lame. Which gets me to wondering, what kind of dashed-off, stereotypical American super-hero might a foreign comic book come up with? Here's some ideas:

Yankee Doodler! This hero draws energy constructs with a giant quill pen, given to him personally by the ghost of John Hancock!

Yankee Go Home! (A teleporter.)

Cow-Boy! This hot-tempered young bovine mutant leaps into every fray, guns-a-blazin', to compensate for his miniscule genitalia!

The Consumer! A Blob-like individual who absorbs, then destroys, the super-powers of all who come near!

The Fanatic! Secretly pro baseball player Johnny Baptist, this hero wallops all comers with his enormous wooden cross!

You get the idea. But if y'all have some more notions of internationally-created American heroes, I'd love to hear them! (Or any comments about this post at all, of course.)

***Except for the Olympian. Big, hairy guy with a cool, horned helmet, sweet-ass facial hair and a big fur cape? Yeah, I'd better like him; I might as well have designed the fucker.


Anonymous said...

The Ugly American: Superficially loud, poorly-dressed, and obnoxious, the Ugly American is in reality a CIA super-spy, using crassness, obliviousness and bad taste in conjunction with large-caliber firearms and high explosives to protect the American Way of Life.

Sorta like The Punisher meets Clark Griswold from the "National Lampoon's Vacation" series.

Naah. Way to realistic.

Steven said...

Oh, wow. I thought Shamrock was the bottom of the barrel for least thought put into a nationalistic superhero, but then I saw the Arabian Knight. And I CAN'T UN-SEE IT.

Y'know, I'm trying to come up with a lazily designed American hero, and I'm having trouble beating Captain America (super strong soldier stuck in a World War II mind-set) and Uncle Sam (old white dude with vague powers and an inflated sense of his own self importance).

Though, I have to admit, I think the Collective Man IS a clever way of rendering Communism as a superpower. At least he's not Dragon Man.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to international heroes, no one does it better than the X-Men. Non-stereotypical powers and names (well, except for Sunfire, maybe) and real personalities to boot. They leave all others in the dust. It may have something to do with the fact that the writers actually put more than two minutes worth of thought into their creation.

Arabian Knight was somehow forced to join an Iraqi team of supervillains during the Gulf War. I think it was called "Desert Force", and they royally messed up Freedom Force, aka the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. I didn't know the dude died! That means that the only two Arabian superheroes in the Marvel Universe (Arabian Knight and Jetstream) are dead. Way to go, Marvel.

Blitzkrieg started going by Blitzkrieger because calling yourself "Lightning War" makes no sense. His new name translated to "Lightning Warrior" which makes more sense. But it makes no difference now because he's dead.

See, Sabra knows what she's doing. She got herself some X-cred. Now she's untouchable! Do you think Arabian Knight, Blitzkrieger, and Defensor would have been killed off if they'd been X-Men? Do you think Talisman and Peregrine would be so painfully obscure if they were X-Men? Do you think Shamrock would have been so brutally sidelined if she had been an X-Man? Heck, no.

By the way, Everyman didn't just kill Defensor, he killed almost EVERY SOUTH AMERICAN superhero in the Marvel Universe. I can't for the life of me remember why. It's probably really stupid. This is during the era of Captain America offically known as "Mark Gruenwald begins to totally go bonkers". Notice I said Everyman killed ALMOST every South American superhero...guess who he apparently didn't bother to track down? That's right, New Mutants and X-Force alum SUNSPOT! X-status makes you invulnerable to lame Captain America villains, yo!

Your Obedient Serpent said...

Everyman is like a bargain-basement Scourge (would that be "outlet mall" Scourge these days?).

You should add his victims to the "Rescue Me" list.

Unknown said...

Imperialist American: Immensely powerful hero that is well-intentioned and thinks of himself as a good leader, but the other heroes mostly follow his orders because they're afraid of what he'll do if they say "no."

NRAgent: An armed society is a polite society, and the NRAgent will show you exactly what that means if you try to take his guns away.

The Missionary: Well-intentioned matter creater that operates on the "belief" of native "converts." Actually, it's just a mental block, he could give the people whatever they wanted at any time, but the people play along with the game and say whatever he wants them to in order to get food, clothing and shelter. Of course, they badmouth him, too, but he doesn't need to know that.

John Wayne: Dude, it's John Wayne.

Anonymous said...

The Agent: Ex-CIA operative. Over years of spying on suspected terrorists through the use of alien organic-interface technology recovered from Roswell, the Agent unexpectedly formed an unbreakable symbiotic relationship with the system owing to a malfunction. He thus acquired the ability to manipulate all electronic media, to create fake identities at a whim, and to know everything that everybody in the world says over their cell phones.

Also...I don't know...he can hack into the human brains of anybody within a one mile radius in order to augment his physiological strength through sheer power of mind over matter. Or something. Why not? I needed to give him some kind of power that would be useful in a fight.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that one was too complicated. How about this one?

By day Jack Pussywhip of Boston is simply another weak-willed, American stay-at-home dad who actually cooks meals for his family, does chores like the laundry, cleans up his own messes, and is a sensitive, considerate lover to his wife. But at night his body becomes a vessel for the Puritanical spirit of a late-1700s American patriot who fights crime as Founding Father. His rogues gallery could include a cadre of radical Feminazis who show lots of skin and conspire to blackmail honest business men into not only hiring more women, but paying female employees the same amount as male employees!

Catchphrase: A woman's place is in the home--father knows best.

Scipio said...

"Klordny Week"

Dang! You really ARE from the 30th century!!!

Jeff R. said...

Whistlin' Dixie: A healthy young southern lass who can out-drawl Rogue and Gambit put together, and has sonic force-generating powers (always a key to ultimate lameness...)

Anonymous said...

Greeetins from Mexico, which, believe it or , is not part of the USA!
Does that make us better at designing Heroes?
You be the judge!



Ultrapato! (who may be an animal but is not funny; this is serious business!


Cinacross! to whom I couldn't find a link, but is like Spawn gone wrong

And while it hurts my fanboy heart to put it here (but then again, I also liked Ultrapato) the BEST comic ever made in Mexico

Karmatron (y los transformables)

Does Blietzkreiger still look that bad now?

Bully said...

Germany having a superhero named Blitzkrieg is a little like America having a superhero named Jim Crow, Captain Internment, or Miss My Lai.

Steven said...

I'd say it's a little bit closer to having a super team named Fat Man and Little Boy, but I see your point.

However, if the US did have a superhero named Enola Gay, I think that'd be hysterical.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Sweet-ass ideas, everybody!

Anonymous, according to my research, Arabian Knight's stint on that supervillain team was part of an undercover mission of some sort (I presume that to be a ret-con but what the hell, if it redeems his character.) And the German company that reprinted those Captain America issues with Blitzkrieg(er) and his super-team in them requested that their names be changed for the translation, since they were too reminiscent of the Nazi years. Hauptman Deutchland had his name changed to "Vormund" which apparently means "Guardian" (Christ, another one?) but I'm told that word normally only describes foster parents. Oops.

Scipio: You're DAMNED RIGHT!

Dumma: Thanks for the links! That is some scary shit right there.

Anonymous said...

By far CINACROS is the better Mexican Comic in years if not ever. Anybody knows where I can get them? I found number 4 on ebay for $14USD! Too much! but if I can't find it nowhere else I'll have to pay the $14.00.