Yesterday, we looked in on a meeting of the Zodiac, undoubtedly one of the worst-dressed groups in supervillain history. Cancer, a.k.a. Baron Crabclaw Von Shortshorts, was doing a piss-poor job of chairing, and most of the other members were either anxious or about to nod off. Fortunately, Scorpio made an announcement that really livened up the proceedings:
Yes, as that famed 22nd century cyber-clone Hank Williams 8.5 once sang, "All my android friends are coming over tonight." If you're wondering what the holy bejeebus an "LMD" is, it stands for "Life Model Decoy." If I recall correctly, SHIELD would use them to throw would-be spies and assassins off the trails of their secret agents. So that's where the "decoy" part comes in. It's still a stupid name, though.
It turns out Jake Fury (Nick's brother!) was resurrected by the magical talking Zodiac Key as a BLT -- er, I mean, "LMD." I'm sorry, but does that make the least bit of sense to anyone? Highly classified government technology being used by talking magic keys? That's a hell of a security leak. Next thing you know, the Wand of Watoom will have its own Helicarrier.
And now Android Jake has made eleven other androids to replace his criminal teammates. And all because they laughed at Jake's idea to raise money with a bake sale. (An evil bake sale!) You could have just resigned, Jake, but no! Seriously, dude, sometimes you just have to let that kind of shit go.
One thing in Jake's favor is that the all-new, all-robot Zodiac has better costumes (mostly) than their fleshy predecessors. Not all of them, mind you. The very idea of a female Taurus "the bull" is kind of alarming to me, but on the other hand she'd make a good girlfriend for the Serpent Society's equally chunky and mannish Anaconda. The new Capricorn is a furry, goat-like female, so again, big aesthetic turn-off for yours truly. Talk to me after you've had a thorough waxing, dear. The new Virgo bores me to sobs with her plain pink jumpsuit, and the new Aquarius looks just like this one guy who tried to sell me a hand-knitted poncho in the parking lot outside a Phish concert. He even had a gun! (He really wanted me to buy that poncho.) I like the new Aries, though, with his sleek, red-and-silver Kirbyish armor. Nicely done, Aries! The new Leo is only middling for me, but I do appreciate how all his teeth had been filed down to razor-sharp points. Not that we ever saw him bite anybody. It wasn't the 90's yet!
Hey, it's Taylor Hicks as Wolverine as the Phantom of the Opera! As an android! Soulless Patrol! You all know how much I dig prematurely silver hair, but not when it's styled to resemble a hang-glider. Fun fact: after he died, Sagittarius willed his gold-plated shoulder pad to Aquaman, his mini-crossbow to the Huntress, and his hair to the Fadeaway Man.
The next panel describes one of the weirder and least necessary features of Jake's STD's. I mean LMD's! LMD's! What is wrong with me today? Where was I? Oh, yeah. To quote:
"They know it's a Life Model Decoy, but it moves like a man-- moans like a man-- dies like a man!"
Whoa, back up there. It... moans... like a man? Huh. So, just hypothetically, if a fella wanted to buy one of these android guys, would he have to pay up front, or is there some kind of installment plan? And does it arrive fully-assembled, or is it like a kit or something? I'm not asking for myself; there's this friend of mine, see...! *sweats profusely*
One annoying habit of the Zodiac androids was their incessant chatter about their individual star-signs. Even in the middle of a battle, they just babble on and on about why they're performing a particular move and how it relates to the symbolism of the Zodiac, and blah, blah, blah. (Special dialogue by Chris Claremont!) Imagine spotting some sexy guy or gal in a bar, and you say "Hey, beautiful, what's your sign?" and suddenly their reply ends up being a five-day filibuster and the doors are all locked from the outside and the restrooms are closed and there's no AC and the juke box is stuck on "A Moment Like This" and after the first day all the beer is gone and the only thing left to drink is creme de menthe. That's what it's like fighting the Zodiac. And Libra? I know it's the 80's, honey, but not everything needs flared shoulders. Especially not a robe. Unless you're on Orando, and then it's required under penalty of death. I really dig Gemini's outfit, though. Too cute! It's the pointy skirt that really sells it for me. Very Ditko-esque. Thumbs up, Gemini! Thumbs up.
The other problem with the Zodiac MMORPG's -- sorry, LMD's -- is that their personalities were designed to match the supposedly standard personalities of everyone born under their particular sign. And not all of those personalities were predisposed to fighting. Like with ol' Pisces here. (Looks like somebody exposed Pamela Anderson to the Terrigen mists, huh?) And seriously, hon, you need to tone down all the dorsal finnery a tad. One strong gust of wind and you'll wind up on a rooftop next to some kid's frisbee. New Improved Cancer gets my vote of approval by evoking a crab with -- gasp! -- armor, and purple-and-orange armor at that. (Bonus points!) He looks a little clunky, though. His boots could be beer kegs. And if they were, that would be just awesomely cool but somehow I doubt it. Also? I'd love to see how he runs in that get-up. I'm guessing it would be like when I was Blockade Tot, playing with my action figures, and I'd make the stiff plastic bodies "run" by rocking them back and forth while sliding them forward.
As for Scorpio, I appreciate that he's trying to improve the overall look of the Zodiac cartel, but "Physician, heal thyself." You've got a cowl over a red facemask, plus the most convoluted underpants I've seen since Lightning Lad. Not to mention the bug on your head. Not even Zatanna could pull that look off.
Okay, I'm done with you. Everybody dance now!
Friday, May 26, 2006
Hello, all! Membros here, official spokesmonster for Blockade Boy. People say my brains are exposed, but what they're looking at is really my rockin' man-perm. I'm the Mike Brady of the Micronaut World! And now my announcment: the second part of Blockade Boy's discussion of the Zodiac Cartel has been unavoidably delayed because Safari crashed on Jeremy Rizza's ancient Mac (from 1998!) and destroyed the post which Blockade Boy was too lazy to have saved in draft form, and now it's 7:08 in the morning, Central Standard Time, and Jeremy Rizza is going to be late for work (again!) and for some weird reason he won't let Blockade Boy on the computer if he's not at home. Go figure. So Part Two will have to wait until either lunchtime or tonight. From everyone here at the Blockade Boy Organization, our sincerest apologies. In the meantime, enjoy my perm!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Trick or treat for UNICEF! From "West Coast Avengers" #26 (November, 1987) it's Taurus, a member of the criminal organization known as the Zodaic. I don't know what the deal is with that gun, charitably referred to on the next page as a "star-blazer weapon" but I do think Taurus should return it to the silver age Atom villain he stole it from, post haste. Also? Taurus needs to lay off the meth. Seriously. Of course, I'd be a wreck, too, if this was my team:
Not exactly the cover of All-Star Comics #3, is it? And they let the crab guy run the meeting? I would have turned that freak away at the door. Get out of here with your big claws! And the Dogpatch-style spandex... I didn't think that was even possible. Went a little nutty there with the pinking shears, huh?
This meeting is not going well. Cancer clearly clearly could learn a thing or two from "Toastmasters." Check out the body language on the other eleven members. Virgo and Scorpio have zero interest in anything Cancer is talking about, Taurus and Aquarius are about to doze off, Aries is so nervous he's worked himself up into the initial stages of a major heart attack, Libra's neck is killing him, Leo is anxious because he's about ten minutes away from losing his deposit on that lion costume he's rented and also the 'roid rage is kicking in, Gemini has the mother of all sinus headaches, not one but two members have been reduced by boredom to playing "Pull My Finger" and the only one who seems happy to be there?
Is this guy:
And that's because it's better than his last gig, which I'm guessing was a Space Ghost cartoon.
Tomorrow: the new and only marginally improved Zodiac!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Nothing says "I'm trying to save our marriage" quite like Daimon Hellstrom's superhero costume.
For whatever reason, Marvel Comics has been the runaway leader in the category of ill-advised, bad idea, "what the fucking hell" marriages. Its like their comics are being edited by Britney Spears and Liza Minelli. Or maybe Marvel pairs up its characters using a LOTTO tumbler. I dunno. At any rate, comics fans may wax nostalgic about Ralph and Sue Dibny or even Ray Palmer and Jean Loring, but I don't recall any tears being shed over the convoluted breakup of Patsy Walker and the Son of Satan.
Daimon Hellstrom is the son of a mortal woman and a demon named "Marduk Kurios." (I think I shopped for knick-knacks there once!) He was introduced as a horror comic character in the 70's, and he typically goes about shirtless, the better to show off his sculpted, pentagram-decorated chest. He has pointy Vulcan ears and carries a huge, pitchfork-sized trident made of "Netheranium." He likes to wear his hair with two Quicksilver-style "horns" in the front but he can also rock a heavy metal-sized mane, as he did in his solo series, "Hellstorm: Prince of Lies." He has occult powers that come and go, along with a "Darksoul" that makes him even more demon-y and scream a lot and break things, so much so that you'd think he'd just watched A-Rod half-ass his way through yet another Yankees game. What he was doing with the morbidly perky Patsy Walker is utterly beyond me. He looks like an idiot in that costume. And there is absolutely no way you can convince me he designed it himself. No, I'm guessing things really shook down like this:
Patsy: Daimon! There you are! Got that cute nose of yours stuck in some ol' book again, huh?
Daimon: It's not just "some ol' book," Patsy, it's Der Vermis Mysterius and it's a very dangerous and powerful tome of--
Patsy (knocks the book out of his hand): Well, forget that because I have a surprise for you! Tah-dah! (holds up his new superhero costume)
Daimon: What in the name of all that's unholy is that?
Patsy: It's your new costume, silly! Now we can go out superheroing together and we'll totally match! See? My costume has a sash, your costume has a cummerbund! It's like we're twins!
Daimon: Darling, I--
Patsy (her smile trembling and her eyes glistening with tears): Yes?
Daimon: It's great. It's just great.
Patsy: I suppose it's not really your style, exactly, but I tried to add some touches that might appeal to you. See the little clasps for your cape? They're shaped like skulls! Isn't that positively wicked? (forced, barking laugh) Oh, and let me show you the trident!
Daimon: I already have a trident.
Patsy: But this one is so much better! I took your original trident and I shrunk it!
Daimon (under his breath): After practicing on my manhood first...
Patsy: What was that?
Daimon: Nothing. I think the costume is great. Just great. And you're great for designing it for me! What a wonderful gift! But I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable wearing this is public! Say, maybe I could just wear it at home... (strokes her hair with a long-nailed hand) on special occasions...
Patsy (shakes his hand off): But it's not just for you! It's for us! You know how my family felt when I married you. I'm a laughing stock in my own home town! But if they see you in this, they'll know that you're just one of the superhero gang! They'll say, "That Patsy, she's so lucky, she married a superhero!"
Daimon: You're embarrassed to be married to me?
Patsy: It's not that! It's not that! But sometimes I feel like you don't do anything to contribute to this marriage! I try so hard, and all you do is your dumb ol' research! I have to do everything! Don't you want me to be happy?!
Daimon: Of course! It's just--
Patsy: Then you'll wear the costume! Look, I designed the cowl so you can see that adorable red hair of yours but your scary pointy ears are totally covered! It's great! And you'll get used to it! Do you think I wanted to wear that orange scoop-neck cardigan that was designed for me by Mandy Becker of Hutchinson, Kansas? Or that pencil skirt with the huge embroidered daisy on it that was designed for me by Alice McCormick of Flint, Michigan? Do you think I wanted to wear any of the ugly, hackneyed crap those brain-dead idiots designed for me? Of course not! But Mommy said I had to! Because I'd be making somebody else happy! If you can't understand that, maybe I'll... I'll... I'll KILL MYSELF!!!
Daimon (in a flat, defeated tone): Hand it over.
Daimon and Patsy's marriage eventually fizzled (as most Marvel marriages do), with Daimon becoming very demonic for a while, Patsy killing herself, and Daimon resurrecting her but telling her what was later established as a big honking lie about being Dormammu's grandson(!) in order to keep from getting back together with her.
But I'm thinking the real low point in their marriage was Daimon's costume.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
From the government that brought you the Marine Corps comes the next big idea in gay-friendly law enforcement! Introducing the "Angel Squad!" The Angel Squad is looking for slim-waisted young men to float gently about on individual hover-platforms while wearing designer jumpsuits and carrying what appear to be gym bags with bazookas sticking out of them! And you don't even have to be gay! (Although it sure helps.) We're targeting a wide array of people!
Are you a neatfreak germaphobe? The Angel Squad gas mask recycles air directly from your own lungs for maximum purity!
Are you knock-kneed or pigeon toed? No problem, because a design flaw in the hover-platform forces you to stand like that anyway!
Do you have puny, sloping shoulders like Clive Owen? I mean, don't get me wrong, I think Owen is kinda sexy and all, but did you see him with his shirt off in "Gosford Park?" It was truly disturbing! Put a coat on, Clive! Cover your shame! But I digress! To continue, the Angel Squad uniform disguises your fatal figure flaw with a puffy top made of drip-dry Beyonderalyne! And the hover-platform is designed to make your shoulders look perfectly ginormous!
Do you have a smooth, frictionless crotch? Well, to be brutally frank, we'd rather you didn't but we can't afford to be choosy right now so we'll take you anyway. If you insist.
Are you looking for romance? You just may find it in the Angel Squad!
So go to your local recruiting office today. A world of adventure, fashion and individual hovering awaits you in the Angel Squad!
(Disclaimer: you may occasionally be called upon to battle Godzilla.)
Monday, May 22, 2006
I am the Zaniac! You may remember me from "Thor" #319 (May, 1982)! But probably not! I am here to tell you about my new tanning lotion! I call it "Tanhunt!" It is the choice of professional makeup artists everywhere! I remember the old tanning lotions I used to buy! They smeared and dripped and left finger marks on my beefy, hairy legs! The pretty-pretties laughed at me! I hated the old tanning lotions for that! The hate built up inside me, festering! And I knew that one day that hate would explode! That's when I decided to create "Tanhunt!"
I am going to explain the difference between the old-style lotions and "Tanhunt!" First of all "Tanhunt" comes in a wide range of colors! Including David Berkowitz Bronze, Karla Ho-mocha, You'll Never Get Me Copper, and Tantan Macoute! Also including Jaundice Wayne Gacy! That is my favorite one! I crave it! But there is an even better feature of my tanning lotion!
Suppose for a moment you are wearing my new tanning lotion in a movie role and you are filming on location! Suppose for another moment that a cigar-smoking amateur movie critic with unbelievable aim manages to ignite a crate full of TNT and also just a pinch of uranium (don't ask)! Suppose also that years later another writer realizes that what happens next is too big of a load of b.s. even for "Thor" readers to swallow and so he ret-cons some mystical parasitic vermin-type thing into my origin! Is that okay? Sweet! Let us continue!
Suppose the residual radiation and/or the mystical parasitic vermin-type thing (if you are so inclined) packs a couple hundred pounds of muscle onto your arms, legs, and torso, and adds several inches to your... er, height! Only "Tanhunt" moves with your mutating form, giving you continuous smooth coverage with no streaks or thin patches! No other tanning lotion can do this! Only "Tanhunt!" The pretty-pretties will love you! So you won't have to stick your knife into them! Buy it today!
I AM THE ZANIAC!!!