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.