Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Empowered Tool

bbwhitestachehead Remember when I said that there was no villain so lame that he needed to be killed off? I take it all back. Because I had forgotten about the Grinder, from "Spider-Woman" #26 (May, 1980).


I don't know if the Grinder is dead. Probably not, since it's doubtful he appeared anywhere after this issue. He still pisses me off, though. I mean, look at this idiot! The Grinder is the kind of supervillain people who don't read comics imagine people who do read comics would like. He's farcical. He's "Inferior Five" material. I don't get it. Marvel already had a villain who uses rotary saw blades, and his name is Whirlwind, and y'know what? None of the spinning blades were on his head. And the Skittle-fied color scheme! Yikes! Normally I'd blame something this garish on early-80's Marvel colorist Don Warfield, but nope. The credits indicate it's actually old standby Carl Gafford, or, as he's listed here, "Gaff." Yeah, that sounds about right.

It gets worse. This issue was written by Michael "Dave Sim is my homeboy" Fleisher, so the Grinder actually presents a challenge to poor, pathetic, woman-y Spider-Woman. To quote her thought balloons: "Blast it! I was too self-confident! If I'd waited till I'd moved in closer, I could've probably hit him in a spot he couldn't protect with that shield! Now it's going to be another hour before I'm sufficiently recharged to unleash another venom blast! He's leaving the way he came! It's not going to be easy to catch him-- because he's equipped with motorized flight, while all I can do is leap and glide! But I've got to try!" Darn that feminine self-confidence! Bah. If I want to read about a superhero who's a whiny little bitch, I'll pick up a Spider-MAN comic, thank you very much.

Thankfully, Spider-Woman pulls herself together in time to defeat the Grinder with one of his own blades, and from the ground, no less.


"H-HALP!!!" Ah, so he's the father of the little girl in the Shake 'n' Bake commercials.

Is there a way the Grinder could have worked? I can think of two, actually. The first and most boring way is to simply move the blades off the top of his head for God's sake and onto his arms where they'd look cooler. The downside is that he winds up as a very generic 90's-style villain. And nobody in their right mind wants another one of those. The second option was inspired by the following panel:


The Grinder's "shield" which Spider-Woman mentioned previously was merely the top of his bladed beany-copter. But what if... those blades were there in place of his head? What if he was this freaky guy with a sawblade (or three) floating over his headless body? Maybe he could be a cyborg with his brain in his chest, Arnim Zola-style, huh? (Only without the dopey TV screen. That thing looked ridiculous.) And maybe he could talk via the spinning blades, and he'd sound kind of like that surgeon Cenobite from the second Hellraiser movie. You know. Kind of like, "NNNNNwhooooooowaaaannnnntsmoooorecremmmmmebruuuulllleNNNN?" Er, only he'd say something cooler than that. Or maybe he could just talk like the "Slingblade" guy. What do you think? Too Grant Morrison? Too DC? I dunno. How would you improve the Grinder?

Tomorrow: more costume-foolery from Michael Fleisher's Spider-Woman. Friday: a letter from Lenny!


Anonymous said...

I think the problem here isn't just the details of the design but Gaff missing the essence of a guy called Grinder. That shouldn't be a saw blade over his head, it should be a grinding wheel (or possibly an Italian sandwich).

I think we have to go to a 90's villain design because who else would be armed with a weapon that crushes people into smears of bloody paste? But it wouldn't be a generic 90's design; if we make the grinder a millwheel-style thick stone disc, it's a pretty unusual design element. Give him a few of those orbiting around him an you get an interestingly surreal effect.

As for the costume to go with it? It wouldn't look great, but a poncho would be a pretty good idea because there's likely to be some splatter.

Scipio said...

Too Morrison. Besides, then he'd be "Pizza Cutterman".

Anonymous said...

I like the actual grindwheel thing. I suggest some sort of back-mounted contraption, with half of this huge automated grindwheel sticking out the top, rising above Grinder's head like a halo. Headbutt? More like head...sand? Eh, it'd still be messy and effective.

I'm no costume designer; I leave that to you. But I do suggest that he grows a big beard, and makes gets his nose broken and imroperly set for good measure.

Anonymous said...

"How would you improve the Grinder?"

With an eraser and some white-out, followed by stiff doses of Everclear, until all memory of him was ... was ... what was the question?

Phillip said...

"If I want to read about a superhero who's a whiny little bitch, I'll pick up a Spider-MAN comic, thank you very much."

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Spidey-Fan, but that made me laugh out loud... It's funny because it's (sniff) true!