Back in February, Ryan Eldridge (of Westchester is for Lovers fame) asked me to redesign the costume of one of the X-verse's blandest, most generic mutants (and that's really saying something): Rusty Collins.
I remember reading about Rusty in some of Jeremy's old "X-Factor" comics. My impression of him: a nondescript, red-haired "nice guy" with pyrokinetic powers and a pleasant disposition, and that's about it. He and his equally bland girlfriend, "Skids", were like an even less-exciting version of Justice and Firestar, if you can imagine such a thing.
According to the Font Of All Wisdom (Wikipedia), Rusty later adopted the mucho Image-y moniker of "Firefist." *snicker* He got brainwashed by Stryfe -- y'know, the guy with the helmet that looks like a Cuisinart attachment. And then he aligned himself with Magneto. And then he got killed. Because he's boring.
Well, I don't think Rusty would have ended up as just another dead Marvel mutant (there's roughly a bajillion of them at this point), if his creators (Bob Layton and Jackson Guice) had just bothered to toughen his sorry ass up in the first goddamn place. In other words, they could've made him less like Howie Cunningham and more like Fonzie. [Edited to add: As Captain Nice Guy points out in the comments section, I meant to refer to Richie Cunningham, and not his dad. Still, I'm leaving my goof intact, since Rusty was a mite -- to borrow a phrase from Captain Nice Guy -- "Tom Bosley-esque".]
Which brings me to my styling choices. I knew I wanted to make him more like a runaway "street kid" (minus the prostitution) than the square he actually was. That way, he'd be somebody who could handle himself a little better, score a more interesting girlfriend, and not get stuck hanging out with melon-headed twelve-year-olds (Artie and Leech, I'm talking to you). After considering a "grunge" theme for him, I decided to hew to a musical subculture that was actually around when he debuted in the mid-1980's: rockabilly! After all, Layton and Guice had once "humorously" dressed the Beast in a retro-themed suit and glasses, a la Elvis Costello. Why couldn't they have styled Rusty like Brian Setzer?
Now, this guy has a yen for twanging guitars, curvaceous dames, and "car culture." Maybe Marvel could have gotten Coop to draw a miniseries about him! And I can guarantee he wouldn't be stuck looking after a couple of macrocephalic twerps. Naw, he'd be too busy scoring.
As you can see, the new-and-improved Rusty has a wicked 80's pompadour (it's fluffy!) and muttonchops, plus some kick-ass arm tattoos. The tattoos are designed like the stylized flames found on the sides of hotrods back then. The silhouette of the boots mirrors the pear shape of the flames. And the entire outfit is leather, natch. The studded belt has a nifty "devil's head" buckle, and it hangs low, just like some actual rockabilly musicians used to wear them in the 1980's. Note also the chain, going to his wallet. I've designed a devilish "R" logo for him. And -- since it makes more sense with his powers, and it just sounds tougher -- I bet he'd change his nickname to "Red." A Spirit-style mask completes the look.
There ya go, Ryan! And it only took me about four months! *chuckles nervously, then looks down at floor*