Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gender Reassignment Challenge: Gravity Girl to Gravity Guy

(Sorry about the delay... my internet was on the fritz from Monday evening to about forty-five minutes ago.)

From the article “Am Me Ever Peculiar!” in the mini-magazine “Funny Book Purgatory!” by cartoonist Nedra Scott on Earth B-1234)

The Supergirl of Miniberg!
Exploit Comics # 285 / NPP / June 1961 / a: CURT SWAN / s: LEO DORFMAN
Lanford Lang (who in reality is Gravity Guy) foils yet another attempt by Kendra Clark to reveal his secret identity. Kendra’s convoluted scheme – involving the town square’s “painted waters” (intensely dyed and probably toxic) fountain, a trained pigeon and a pinhole camera – meets swift retaliation, as Lanford uses his “magno-wind” powers to knock her flat on her ass in front of (apparently) Miniberg’s entire population. Kendra is humiliated (“My shirt is torn! Why, everyone can see my midriff!”) and dashes home to change clothes. She finds herself running faster and faster until she flies up into the air! She reports this event to her parents, who respond with not one, but two life-changing revelations:
1. She’s adopted.
2. She’s most likely from outer space.
Gobsmacked Kendra is informed that her mom and dad discovered her as a baby in the wreckage of a rocketship but since she resembles a human being they love her anyway. The Clarks surmise that puberty has activated “some alien organ”, allowing her to fly. Kendra declares in the very next panel that she will embark upon a career as a crimefighter, a decision which her parents support whole-heartedly. Ma Clark sews for her an ugly blue suit with red granny panties on the outside, (what might be history’s very first) go-go boots and a cape. Kendra adds a papier-mache “princess” mask to the ensemble by way of protecting her identity, modestly dubs herself “Supergirl” and flits through an open window, into her first adventure! Uh-oh! There’s a robbery in progress! Kendra discovers she has quite a large (and random) collection of superpowers. She uses “super hearing” to eavesdrop on a police scanner, “x-ray vision” to find thieves who tunneled into a bank vault, “heat vision” to melt through the door, “invulnerability” to make the robbers’ bullets bounce off her chest, “super strength” to clobber them senseless, “super breath” to blow them through the air to the police station and “super-ventriloquism” (you heard me) to make it seem like they’re confessing. Gravity Guy finds out! He’s perfectly livid. (“This ‘Supergirl’ sounds like a real wildcard! Will she use her tremendous powers for good? Or evil?”) Supergirl lends Gravity Guy a hand in tackling numerous bad guys and disasters. He ever-so-grudgingly accepts her help, all the while searching for her weakness.(“Crimefighting is a dangerous business for a girl! Even a Supergirl! If she’s not careful, she could be hurt!”) Soon enough, Supergirl starts screwing up, falling from the sky over a rock quarry and dropping a priceless emerald because it feels “hot.” Gravity Guy finds chunks of a similar green mineral in the rock quarry and deposits them in a chest, which he tricks Supergirl into opening. She yelps in pain! Immediately she passes out and starts to glow a sickly green. Gravity Guy removes her mask. Looking even smugger than usual, he flies her unconscious body to the Clark home. With zero prompting on Gravity Guy’s part, the Clarks tell him everything they know. Gravity Guy calls for his “friend” Professor Lang. The professor relates his latest discovery: the supposed emerald and the other green rocks that injured Supergirl were in fact meteorites which have a “poisonous effect” on whatever the heck species Kendra belongs to. Gravity guy gives the Clark family a good stern lecture. (“Suppose a criminal found one of these rocks and used it on Supergirl while she was saving someone! More than one life could be lost!”) Professor Lang has another surprising discovery! It’s another meteorite, only gold, and he theorizes it could remove Supergirl’s powers without (otherwise) harming her. Ma and Pa Clark give the Professor the go-ahead. (Kendra is still knocked out.) It works! Gravity Guy uses his powers of “Magno-Amnesia” (magnesia?) to re-order the blood flow in Kendra’s brain. It gives her “a tiny stroke” and wipes out her memory of the last few days. Kendra wakes up! She wants to know why she’s wearing that strange costume! Everybody laughs.

(With apologies to the great Scott Saavedra, whose writing style I kind-of, sort-of, tried to mimic there, after a fashion and in a way. It was tough, too. For one thing, I swear way more than he does.)


In a gender-reversed universe, “Gravity Guy” would be just as much of a tool as Superboy. He’d also be the big fish in his little town – the original hero – and so he wouldn’t wear a mask. “Lanford Lang” would be a bespectacled coward with bad posture and the dull-witted population of “Miniberg” wouldn’t think to draw a connection between the two 5’9, red-haired and freckled sixteen-year-olds. (Also, the mask was already ultra-masculine and it was homely as hell.) I didn’t have to do much to Gravity Girl’s costume to make it suitable for a Silver Age boy hero. The skirt is now trunks, and they’re admittedly a tad longer than Robin’s, if only because I personally loathe the combination of bare thighs and covered arms on male heroes. Still, I think I made the trunks short enough to be plausible for that time period. I don’t know what the hell that black thing on Gravity Girl’s chest was supposed to be and I don’t care to know, so I altered it into a more attractive symbol. I’m still not sure what it stands for – an atom? Some kind of road sign? The overhead view of a 19th Century Utopian community? – but it certainly looks nicer. I framed the symbol in thick black lines to make it clear that the top is a one-piece and not that effed-up “twin set” or whatever the hell Lana was wearing. And to balance the top, I added black trim to the trunks, cape, gloves, and boots. I changed the red on the belt to green; I figured as the star of his own comic, Gravity Guy wouldn’t be wearing a superpower-bestowing accessory that called attention to itself.


Skeleton Munroe said...

Plus, she's totally vulnerable to magic. What if Merlin showed up? He'd kick her ass, that's what.

Anonymous said...

That write-up was awesome.

Anonymous said...

For a brief moment, I misread "She’s most likely from outer space" as "he." My reaction? Well, of course that's where Mrs. Lang (an archaeologist, no doubt) things her baby Lanford came from!

Love the story. Love the design. But is Lanford "grinding" with the camera guy?

So...I don't suppose you sketched Kendra too?

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Excellent work once again, Mr. Boy.

Phillip said...

Yeah, I second the call for a drawing of Kendra Clark as "Supergirl".

Jeremy Rizza said...

Jonathan: I never even thought of that. Man, Kryptonians are useless, aren't they?

Tyler: Thanks!

Anonymous: No, Lanford isn't "grinding with the camera guy." Those are just some unfortunate creases on his trunks.

Jon: Glad you like it! (And "Mr. Boy" is much too formal. Just call me "Blockade.")

Phillip: Sorry to disappoint you (and Anonymous) but what I tried to imply in my post was that Kendra wore Superboy's costume, only with a mask and without the "S" logo. But I'll do another costume design (for somebody else) within the week.

Phillip said...

Well, yeaaah but we wanted to seeeee iiiit.

Dave said...

/me Googles for a picture of Conan O'Brian.

No, the hairline's different. Facial structure is pretty similar.

The belt, of course, was used by the lost civilization to build pryamids -- a one-panel flashback to an old man wearing the belt, carrying a multi-ton stone like in Asterix and Cleopatra would be enough to get the idea across.

MaGnUs said...

I like it, but I don't like the trunks... maybe with leggings.... sorry, I just don't like male teenagers in shorts and capes... :P Or male adults in shorts....

Jeremy Rizza said...

Phillip: There, there. *gently strokes your hair*

Dave: Haw! Believe you me, I definitely thought about Conan when I was drawing this. But I think Gravity Guy's hair is way more relaxed than Conan's.

MaGnUs: I hear ya, pal. I almost put him in short sleeves to balance out the trunks but it looked even worse with a cape. Plus it didn't look plausible for the time period. Ah, well.