Sunday, December 18, 2005

Full Motto Jacket: Mister Terrific

What's his deal:
Terry Sloane was a child genius who entered college at age twelve and graduated within a year. In addition to his intellectual acumen, he was a top athlete, specializing in the martial arts. By his twenties, he had parlayed his talents into the business world and become ridiculously wealthy. But success bored him. Yeah, that's the kind of problem you want to have. Spiriling into a deep depression, Terry decided that since he was so good at everything that there were no challenges left to overcome, and so he vowed to take his own life. Just then he saw a woman hurl herself off a bridge. He dove in after her and rescued her from drowning. The distraught lass told Terry that her kid brother had joined a gang -- and not the cute, beanie-wearing, wagon-pulling, opera-singing "Our Gang" type of a gang, either. No, this was an honest-to-goodness criminal enterprise that was recruiting disadvantaged kids and turning them to a life of crime. Terry's solution was to whip together an awfully square-looking super-hero costume and give the gang leaders what-for, so as to impress the little tykes. It worked, and the youngsters dubbed their tights-wearing savior, "Mister Terrific." Terry went on to create the Fair Play Club, a youth center along the lines of your contemporary Boys & Girls Club of America. He joined the Justice Society of America and also had a long-standing romance with the lady he saved from drowning. Doubtless her kid brother was thrilled about that. ("Wow, my own sister is getting boned by the Mister Terrific!")

Mister Terrific died a chump's death, unfortunately, at the hands of a D-list villain named the Spirit King, who had possessed one of Terry's super-hero friends. No fair! First appearance: Sensation Comics #1 (DC, January 1942.)

Terrific 1Terrific 2
Crimes against fashion:
The color scheme, for one, which was apparently inspired by Mexican stoplight candy. There's the dainty pixie boots, which look oppressively precious even on actual pixies. But the worst part is the jacket. The "multi-colored leather jacket with crap drawn all over it" look wouldn't come into fashion until circa 1990 (even Chuck Woolery had one!) and even then it was only popular for about a week.

Our meeting:
I was visiting Gateway City in the summer of 1943. After a long day of searching for just the perfect homburg hat, my stomach was growling. The smell of chicken a la king led me to a banquet hall. I spied through one of the windows a massive charity dinner for the Fair Play Club. At the far end of the room was a long, elevated table with an assortment of super-heroes... and a few empty chairs. So naturally, I slipped into one of my super-hero outfits, busted into the joint through the service entrance, and sidled up to the table like I belonged there. Well, I had only gotten a few bites of food down my gullet when Mister Terrific showed up and asked just what the hell I was doing in his seat. (The biggest chair, by the way, and right in the center... I mean, which one would you have chosen?)

He was pretty upset, but I managed to calm him down with a big cash donation to the Fair Play Club and a suggestion I do some costume designs for him. "After all," I said, "you may be the Man of a Thousand Talents," but you're no fashion designer!" He agreed -- a bit sadly, I thought. We agreed to meet again a few days later.

My presentation:
Mister Terrific 1
For your first option, I tried as best I could to retain your current color scheme. But I just couldn't make it work. So, I replaced the green with a deep battleship gray. It makes the red and yellow really pop. Plus, the combination of all three colors is reminiscent of fighter planes and machinery -- it's really masculine. I kept the shape of your "Fair Play" logo but removed the words. Honestly, I don't think you need them.

Mister Terrific 2
The second option is specifically designed to make you look more like a lug -- a palooka, if you will. You're doing great right now but I figure you can lure even more kids onto the path of righteousness if you look like somebody from their neighborhood -- like one of those big, brawny types who delivers ice or who hauls around sides of beef. See, you can wow 'em with the biceps and the tough guy tattoo, and then bust out the old "don't be a fool; stay in school" speech by demonstrating your genius I.Q.

Terry's response:
Terry wasn't too keen on the tattoo (darn it!) but he really liked the first design. He gave me a hefty cash advance and told me to get to work. The next day I received a telegram from him, cancelling the order. I tried to get him on the phone. No luck. So that very same night I marched into his brownstone and asked him what the deal was. He was suprised I knew his secret identity, until I explained I was from the future, and also since he didn't wear gloves his fingerprints were all over the place.

Terry said I'd inspired him to try his hand at fashion design. He showed me piles of drawings, all of which -- and I'm loathe to admit this -- looked way better than anything I could do. I asked him if he was going to wear one of the great new costumes he'd designed for himself. He said no, because he'd decided his original costume was too closely associated with the Fair Play Club for him to change it at this point. And besides, he added, he wanted to concentrate more on women's wear. In fact, just a few hours previous, he had started his own clothing line, which was already turning a three hundred percent profit and was going to be cover-featured in the next month's "Mademoiselle." And, he said, he had me to thank for it!

I have to admit I didn't take this very well. I hurled as many invectives as I could think of at him, including 30th century ones like "sprocking." Terry calmly put his hand on my shoulder. Then he pressed down on a certain nerve cluster and I collapsed like a pile of rotten tomatoes. Terry snapped his fingers and two beefy footmen appeared. They carried my paralyzed body out the back door and into the back of a waiting taxi, which unceremoniously deposited me at the entrance to a garbage dump on the outskirts of town.


Bleak and White and Dead All Over

So, according to the latest issue of JSA, my kick-ass mountain cabin is actually located in Hell. Well, that explains why the Red Bee was there. And the T.G.I. Fridays. I'm going to send my real estate agent a strongly-worded letter. Or better yet, I could use my time bubble to ensure he's never born! Yeah, definitely that second thing.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

"Big Monkey" Business

My pal Scipio has a cool new venture with Big Monkey Comics, a one-stop shop for all your comics needs! You can get comics, cool tie-in merchandise, peruse the latest comics news and make your voice heard on the forums. It's pretty damned nifty already, and it promises to get even niftier. Check it out!

And in honor of Big Monkey, I want to relate my own "big monkey" experience. First off, I want to say that I should probably just stay the hell away from Central City, after the whole Abra Kadabra/Safeway incident and now this. So anyway, I was touring the Flash Museum. (I had to evade multiple security measures to get inside at 11 PM on a Sunday, but what can I say? I hate crowds.) I headed straight for the display of Flash's Rogues and got a deep, booming laugh from all the "fashion don'ts." Next thing I know, Gorilla Grodd smashed through a wall, in search of some weapon in the museum's collection. (And yes, wiseasses,I know gorillas aren't monkeys. Shut your pieholes for ten seconds and let me finish talking.) I flung off my $400 Kenneth Cole peacoat, revealing my kick-ass superhero togs, and shouted, "Stop, in the name of--" and then Grodd nailed me with a weird-looking raygun, and then this happened.
Blockade Baboon
Say hello to Blockade Baboon. (Baboons are monkeys, see?) I think you have to admit that even with a prehensile tail, I was still pretty stylin'. I started hurling things at Grodd, like the replica weaponry on the Rogue mannequins. And the replicas were all fully functional. (When it comes to safety, those Central City folk... well, let's just say they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer.) So, I started battering Grodd left and right with electro-shock boomerangs and exploding yoyos, and every time he came after me, I just leaped nimbly out of the way or turned myself into a monkey-sized steel wall. As for Grodd's "mind powers," well what do you think the yellow things on my costume are for? Snacks? Okay, they're for snacks too, but mainly they're mental deflectors that bathe my whole nervous system in a warm, comforting blanket of anti-psychic energy. Plus the ones on my shoulders can each hold, like, three Milky Way bars. But I digress. I finally managed to take Grodd down with Heat Wave's flame pistol, but my monkey fingers couldn't work it exactly right. I was trying for "lightly toasted" but I ended up with "charbroiled." The smell of burnt gorilla dingleberries... not pleasant! I'd stopped Grodd, but his monkey raygun didn't have a reverse setting. (And frankly, why would it have?) And I couldn't talk, or even write legibly! When the Elongated Man showed up, I had to work my baboon ass off to seem adorable as freaking possible, just so he'd take me home with him instead of sending me to a zoo or an animal shelter. Three long, grueling months later, he and his wife took me with them on one of their interminable road trips, I got my monkey hands on a wish-granting Navajo totem, and ker-POW! So long, suckers! There's just one thing, though...

You know how when somebody loses a hand or a foot, they can still feel phantom pains? Sometimes... I can still feel that tail. [shudders]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New, Improved Blog: Now With More Fugly!

I took Phillip's suggestion that I show the original costumes of all those poor dopes I try to help out. So now you all can check out the regular duds of Atlas, Miss America, and Fury right on this very blog! I'm still looking for a decent image of the Red Bee. (Apparently he doesn't photgraph well. Must be the gauzy sleeves.) Anyway... enjoy!

Update: I finally got some good scans of the Red Bee. By the way, I was so worried about Hector getting frozen in that blizzard that I waded out into the blinding whiteness myself to look for him, bringing along with me an extra jacket that he could keep. And I ran into the Red Bee! I guess he popped up along with that extra Lex Luthor due to that Infinite Crisis nonsense that's going on right now. Well, the Red Bee promised me he'd get the jacket to Hector right away, and then he gave me directions to a T.G.I. Fridays that was apparently situated right on the mountaintop!
Red Bee Sucker

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tiaras of a Clown: Fury

What's her deal:
Oh, lordy! It's a big ugly mess, but here goes: Lyta Trevor Hall's mom used to be the original version of Wonder Woman (from the WW2-era comics) and her dad used to be the square-jawed war hero and frequent hostage Steve Trevor. Lyta inherited all of her mom's super-powers and started doing the super-hero bit under the codename, "Fury," after the mythical Greek vengence demons. Then Lyta's home dimension ceased to exist and she was shuffled off to a different Earth where her mom was another superheroine named "Fury" and her dad was, well, nobody knows. As so often happens, Lyta married a super-powered teammate -- Hector Hall, a.k.a. "the Silver Scarab." Hector, who is essentially the Hank Pym of the DC Universe, pretty quickly lost his shit and turned into a literal monster, died, came back as a new version of the "Jack Kirby" Sandman, was unceremoniously booted back into the afterlife by the "real" Sandman, and came back again as the latest version of Doctor Fate. Lyta, for her part, had a son by Hector, lost the son when the kid became the new "real" Sandman, lost her shit, and got spells placed on her by not one, but two separate god-like magicians. Hector and Lyta finally found each other and everything was wonderful for about fifteen minutes. Then Hector got stripped of his powers and the both of them were teleported against their wills to a mountain range in the middle of a blizzard. And you thought Nick and Jessica had it rough! Oops, almost forgot. First appearance, Wonder Woman vol. 1, #300.

Original Fury
Crimes against fashion:
The only parts of her costume I can stand to look at are the cape and that fire-engine-red body stocking. The rest of her ensemble is fugly on a galactic scale. The tiara: ridiculously large and convoluted. The boots and bracelets: thigh-high/elbow-high monstrosities that are ancient Egyptian by way of "George Perez segmented robot arm." The WWE Smackdown Championship belt -- er, I mean, "girdle": like something Elvis would have rejected as being "too tacky." And the very best, very stupidest part of all: that shoulder-pad-type-thing on her left side that moulds completely around one breast. (Comfy!) Our Lyta was quite the trendsetter. She anticipated by years the kind of huge, asymmetrical, completely unnecessary costume accessories that Rob Liefeld somehow managed to popularize.

Our meeting:
I was vacationing in my secluded ski cabin in the DC Universe, time-wise between issues #77 and #78 of JSA. The next thing I knew, Hector Hall showed up on my doorstep, looking ruggedly handsome as always with his prematurely silver, Caesar-cut hair and his sweet-ass Vandyke beard. Oh yeah, and he was carrying Lyta's unconscious body. I welcomed Hector inside and did my best to make the star-crossed couple comfortable. Hector feard Lyta was in a coma until I pointed out that she was snoring quite loudly and making occasional pawing motions, like she was dreaming about chasing rabbits. I got them both out of their soaking wet costumes (Hector fit into my clothes perfectly!) and then I bundled Lyta in some blankets. I offered to help Hector warm up by spooning with him but he declined. So, to pass the time and get Hector's mind off his troubles, I got out my sketchpad.

My presentation:
First of all, can I just say that I love what you've done with the Doctor Fate costume. That Egyptian collar is boss as all hell. But Lyta could definitely use my help. I mean, her super-persona is named after the mythical furies, but she looks about as intimidating as a Vegas showgirl. Wanna see my ideas? I've been tinkering with this for a while, ever since my pal Scipio pointed out how god-awful Lyta's costume is, so I've got the drawings all made up! You sit there, and I'll stand here and turn the pages. Gosh, you look tense. Let me just knead some of those kinks out of your shoulder muscles... no? Okay.

Fury 1
The first costume could be worn by Lyta or her mom. It's based on the "old school" Wonder Woman outfit. I replaced the stars with moons, the eagle with a bat, and I altered the color scheme. I retained the red and gold from Lyta's current outfit and added a heaping helping of black. That's because black costumes are always spooky (unless you're Havok). I also made three big changes to the old Wonder Woman design. One, I replaced the tiara with a helmet because helmets hide more of the face and that's more mysterious and menacing. Hey, where are my manners? Can I get you a drink, Hector? I've got vodka, scotch, brandy, you name-- no? Very well. So... the second thing I did was to change the old bustier-style breastplate into an infinitely more practical chest plate. It hides the cleavage and it has straps, so there's no way Lyta's boobs could pop out and flop around -- since, let's face it, nobody wants to see that. Lastly, and this part is optional as it's extremely theatrical, I gave the costume a huge cape made from grizzly fur. It adds a barbaric flavor. And also, to quote Ann Miller in "On the Town," I simply love bear skin! What? Oh, sure! Go right ahead and check on her. I'm sure she's just fine...

Thanks for joining me in the hot tub, Hector! God damn, but you're a hairy man. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! Oh, the drawings? Fine, fine. Are you sure I can't interest you in that drink? No? Alrighty then.

Fury 2
Here's an emerald green dragon-themed number made out of leather, with a jagged-edged cloak of some thinner material. Chiffon, maybe, I dunno. Huh? Sorry, I didn't realize I'd put my foot there. Where were we? Oh, yeah. I figure we could use a pearlescent paint on the leather detailing, like the scales and the dragon logo. The mask has horns and red lenses that look like reptilian eyes. And to really set the colors off, we'd have to get Lyta to bleach her hair almost completely white. Mmm, those bubble jets feel fantastic, don't you think? Well, you can really feel them over here, where I'm sitting. Aw, c'mon! I won't bite! There you go. Careful, don't slip! Yikes! No, no, I'm pretty sure that's just a big fiberglass tube for one of the bubble jets. Go ahead and put your hand back on it. Hey, wait!

Hector's response:
Was to leap out of the hot tub and slip back into the dry clothes I'd given him. He dressed the still-sleeping and otherwise naked Lyta in one of my smoking jackets and bolted for the door. I tried to reason with him, even pointing out how I'd seen a horde of bloodthirsty hell-beasts in the area just that morning. Still, he insisted on heading back out into that blizzard, without even a coat or mittens or even one of those little knit caps with the pom-poms on them. Ah, well. He'll be back.

They always come back.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Off the Rack

Sorry about the long wait between posts, but I hope it will be worth it. I've been busy creating new costumes for my highest-profile client yet: Wonder Woman('s daughter, Fury)!!! I'll post those in just a few days. And to tide you over, here are two generic outfits I made for sale. And they sold! See, some people actually do like my costume designs. I guess they just don't like it when I tell them what's wrong with the clothes they're wearing at the time. Attention, dumbasses: I'm doing you a freaking favor! (clears throat) Sorry, got a bit off-track there. On to the outfits!

First up is your basic "omnipotent overlord" armor. I'm keeping one suit for myself, on the off chance that I ever get possessed by some ultra-powerful evil entity. (Heck, it happens to one of the X-Men every other Thursday.) You'll note I added an Interlac "B" to the helmet.
Dark Blockade Boy
Yes, it's the evil version of me, saying, "Stop in the name of Dark Blockade Boy, destroyer of worlds and monarch of all that is unholy! Hey, I said 'stop.' Wait, where are you going? Come back here right now or I'll, um, turn into a really big steel wall! ...Aw, the heck with it." (Granted, it's not much of a battle cry.) I sold one of these babies to the Toad, who figured all his leaping and gadding about would look much more imposing in a suit of armor with a huge holographic purple flame around it. I must admit I have my doubts.

Ooh, here's a good one!
It's a paramilitary number with a spot for "your super-logo here" on the vest. The kicker is the Tron-style metal gauntlets which project energy in both shield and "vibro-force" configurations. Yes, whether you're a patriotic super-hero or a faceless henchman, you can kick ass in style! Mask sold separately! (That's where you can really make a profit: accessories!) The Taskmaster ordered three hundred of these, but a week later he tried to reduce that number to twelve. Apparently most of his men had been defeated by Captain America (That bitch again?!) and now they're in a S.H.I.E.L.D. concentration camp or something. Hey, maybe I should design prison uniforms!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Sweatsuit Competition: Miss America

What's her deal:
In 1943, Madeline Joyce's uncle sponsored a research scientist who kept a laboratory in an old lighthouse. A lightning bolt struck the tower while Madeline was inside it. Instead of electrocuting the intrepid lass, the massive voltage sent her into a coma. The scientist was consumed with guilt. He destroyed all of his machinery and himself along with it. A week later, Madeline recovered. Awesome timing, doc.

The accident, as it happened, had endowed Madeline with a veritable cornucopia of superpowers, such as flight, super-strength, super-intelligence (which one presumes would prevent her from doing any more snooping about in tall structures during electrical storms), x-ray vision and invulnerability. She designed a baggy, figure-concealing but mightily patriotic costume. Her alias: Miss America. Madeline at one point joined a super-team calling itself "The All-Winners Squad" -- a supremely ironic moniker considering the number of losers on the roster. Later she married one of those losers, Bob Frank, a.k.a. "The Whizzer." (He had super-speed. Why, what did you think it meant?) After the war, she lost most of her powers, due mainly to the fact she was being written by sexist male dickweeds. Her firstborn child was a radioactive supervillain named "Nuklo." Madeline died giving birth to a second child, who was stillborn. The end! Cheery, huh? First appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (Timely, October 1943).

Original Miss America
Crimes against fashion:
Nearly the entire outfit. It looked like a track suit more than anything else, and it shouldn't have surprised me to learn it was made of terrycloth. The superhero emblem on her bosom looks like it should say "Phillips 66." And the teeny red cap! That misshapen yarmulke crept steadily forward over the years until it was practically over her eyes. Like most superheroes in her dimension, she had a secret identity but no mask. (Jeebus! C'MON!) She occasionally added harlequin glasses, which made her look less like a superhero and more like a really flamboyant librarian. Her hair ranged from blonde to black to brown, finally settling on brown. I think.

Our meeting:
It's a long, complicated story, so kindly bear with me. I was in the Timely/Marvel dimension circa 1944 when I approached Captain America with some great ideas for improving his dorky costume. Cappy barely let me get a word out before turning me down flat (and calling me "son" in the process, which really ticked me off). His parting shot? Telling me to shave off my sweet-ass goatee and muttonchops, which he termed "ridiculous." It was on. Not in the physical sense, mind you, because Captain America could clean my clock nine ways to Sunday. No, my plan was to hightail it to California and the studios of Republic Pictures so I could surreptitiously redesign the costume for the Captain America serial they were planning to shoot. Then he'd see how right I was! Mwuh-hah-hah-hah!

Well, yes, it's a terribly passive kind of revenge. What's your point?

I donned one of my superhero outfits. Then I snuck onto the lot, posing as an extra in a science fiction film. I quickly located the costume department, seized the Captain America designs, and set to work. I had only got as far as erasing those goofy wings from his cowl and penciling in a handgun when I heard a mob of people hollering about something or other. The huddled masses helpfully exposited that...
1. A director who craved realism had wrangled a genuine mummy for his latest picture.
2. Some sort of chemical mishap had brought the mummy to horrifying life!
3. The mummy had slung starlet Vera Hruba Ralston over its shoulder like a shapely sack of potatoes and taken off running, and...
4. It was headed this way!

With a loud sigh, I dropped everything and ran outside to face the menace head-on. I planted myself firmly in the path of the bandaged bandito and shouted my catchphrase, "Stop, in the name of Blockade Boy!" And then I turned into a steel wall. And then, as per usual, my foe ran around me and kept right on going. Have I mentioned that I don't turn into a very big steel wall?

To her credit, Miss Ralston was a champion ice skater and quite strong; at that point she had pounded on the mummy so hard that a good-sized hole had appeared in its lower back. Suddenly, a crimson meteor smashed down upon the mummy, reducing it to smithereens, and sweeping Miss Ralston away to safety. The red blur resolved itself into a dowdy lady in a stupid hat. It was Miss America! Seeing that I was a fellow super-powered adventurer, Miss America took me into her confidence. From there it was a simple matter to convice her to let me redesign her costume.

My presentation:
For your first option, I've merely tweaked your original outfit into something that's actually flattering.
Red is a strong color. It can be overwhelming when used in large quantities. So, I've eliminated your leggings. To compensate, I've lengthened the tunic into a short, pleated dress, just like ice skaters wear. It's practical yet feminine. To match your blue cape, I've added blue boots and blue gloves. You may have noticed that the boots are not high-heeled. That's because high-heeled boots are an absurd thing for a superheroine to wear. I remember getting into an argument with Princess Projectra about why she shouldn't wear heels, and she was all, "But my power is illusion-casting, I don't have to move around when I fight, and anyway I look really sexy in heels, blah blah blah, I'm a princess!" And then while we were just standing there talking, one of her ankles snapped in two. Heh! Um, anyway, I've trimmed the dress and the gloves in gold. I've also altered the symbol on your chest somewhat. The heart shape is more becoming to the female bosom. Plus, it represents how you love America, and this way it no longer resembles a highway marker. Finally, I've added a mask, because believe it or not, you need to conceal at least part of your face if you want to maintain a secret identity. No, really. No, REALLY. I'm not kidding. Well, I don't care what the Whizzer told you. Or the Thin Man. Or Red Raven. Or Dynamic Man OR the Human Top. Or-- look, these people are idiots, okay? Just trust me on this! Jeez! Okay then. Next!

Your second option is so fashion-forward it doesn't even exist yet! Or something like that. I wanted to give you the look a fighter plane, since your fabulous powers allow you to rain death upon all who oppose you. I've even borrowed the star from a Navy fighter for your new symbol! Well, yeah, I know they changed it last year. Well, it looks better this way. Moving on... in lieu of a mask, I thought we could put a bold, blue stripe of makeup right across your eyes, the way the Aztecs did! It matches your blue lipstick. It's all very intimidating! For the costume itself, we have a silver body suit with red-and-blue body armor on the shoulders, calves, and hips -- not that you need armor, being indestructible and all, but it's important for the look. Your waist is so thick it makes this outfit something of a gamble, but I think we can get away with it provided you lay off the fatty foods. Now, I'd like to draw your attention to the thick red lines over the crotch and across the thighs, which subtly frame your "lady business" -- OW! Hey, knock it off!

Miss America's response:
... was to slap me, which fractured my jaw and caused a couple of teeth to fly out of my mouth. "You are the rudest, most vulgar young man I have ever met in all my life!" she fumed. She stomped out the door, but before she disappeared from my life forever, she spun around and snapped, "And lose the sideburns and the nanny goat beard. You look like an idiot."

Oh, it's on NOW, honey.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"I've Got The Strangest Feeling I'm Being Turned Into A Packet Of Artificially Flavored Drink Mix!"

Have I ever mentioned the time back in '74 when I was in the Central City Safeway and my shopping cart accidentally bumped into Abra Kadabra's?


Why he couldn't have made my flavor "Blockade Boysenberry" is just beyond me.

(And be sure to visit the Imaginary World for more groovy drink packets!)

The Loincloth Sleeps Tonight: Atlas

What's his deal:
Jim Randall was a skinny bespectacled scarecrow of a man who experienced a complete psychotic break with reality... er, make that "a celestial visitation from the Greek god, Atlas." Naked save for a blue cape, his mythical nether regions tastefully tucked into a billowing cloud, Atlas bestowed upon Jim not wisdom or invulnerability or even a lousy magic trinket, but instead gave him an exercise routine. Jim spent weeks working out in secret, building himself into a brawny he-man. Atlas appeared to him again and ordered him to don a superhero costume and battle gangsters. Jim took his superhero name from the inspiring hallucination and set out to vanquish evil in a ridiculous get-up that seemingly appeared from nowhere, i.e. Jim was in a fugue state when he sewed the damn thing. First appearance (and last appearance, because he sucked): Choice Comics #1 (Great Publications). Reprinted for no good reason in Daring Adventures #18.

Original Atlas
Crimes against fashion:
Three words: leopard skin diaper. Or "trunks." Whatever. Adding insult to injury is the combination of sleeves with bare legs. (Gah! I hate that look on men! Who is he, Cathy Rigby?) Then there's his superhero symbol, which adds red and green to the already copious amounts of blue and orange in the uniform. Forget masturbation; looking at Atlas' costume can make you go blind! The cherry on top of this shit sundae? The very tall, very stiff collar and braid with no cape attached. Is it at the drycleaners? Or better yet, invisible?

Our meeting:
As you may have gathered from my other posts, I have a powerful curiosity, and I don't let piddling things like locks or restraining orders or a sense of propriety get in my way. So, I was visiting a bustling (yet oddly nameless) metropolis in late 1941, and I chanced upon the most beautiful little park. (Had to burrow under a rather high, barbed-wire-topped fence to get there, but oh well.) Anyway, I'm not there five minutes when I realize that most of the other visitors apparently have a real yen for shapeless white gowns. Even the men! I tried to chat up one lady about them, but she shushed me with the excuse that salamanders from Neptune had placed a listening device in her cervix. Then, a woman in a nurse's uniform (that wasn't doing her any favors, if you ask me) tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You must be Doctor MacTavish. Welcome to the Hillside Sanitarium for the Criminally Deranged!"

I figured that I had a little time before the actual Doctor MacTavish showed up so what the heck? I thoughtfully stroked my sweet-ass goatee and muttonchops and ordered the nurse to take me to my first patient... who turned out to be Atlas! It seems that not long after he started adventuring, he heard that the cops were looking for a maniac who had broken into the local zoo. This person throttled a leopard to death with his bare hands and partially skinned it. Atlas went straight to the police commissioner and announced that he was on the case. The commissioner took one look at Atlas' costume and bang! Hillside Sanitarium.

I had an orderly retrieve Atlas' outfit from storage so I could take a gander at it. My prescription? Art therapy!

My presentation:
"Jim, there's nothing wrong wi-- beg pardon? Oh. Sure, why not? 'Atlas,' there's nothing wrong with wanting to be a superhero. But I couldn't possibly sign your release papers if you're just going to wear that again! I've got a couple of ideas here that I think you'll like. No, give me that. Give me--! Orderly? Kindly restrain the subject so I can get my pastels back. Thank you. Well, yes, Atlas, I said we'd be doing art therapy but I'll be the one doing the art. Stop sulking. Or I'll smack you. There, better. Alright, first order of business: you have a secret identity, but no mask. That's just crazy! Um, no offense. So here's your first option.
"It's your standard superhero outfit with a nice Flash-Gordon-style cowl that reveals your gorgeous head of hair. The belt's nice and big, like a wrestler's belt or a laborer's truss, and it has the added advantage of hiding unwanted belly flab that you may develop as you grow older. I replaced your old symbol with this combination of lightning bolts and laurel leaves and see? It makes the shape of an 'A'! I wanted to emulate the feel of a classic superhero costume, in case you don't want to stick out from the crowd too much. But... what if you do want to be an iconoclast? I'm right there with you, buddy, but there's a wrong way and a right way. That pile or rags over in the corner is the wrong way. This is the right way.
"Here's my idea: we go all-out Greek. With armor and everything. Most of the outfit is based on the armor of an ancient Greek hoplite but we jazz it up with a muted version of the color scheme from your original costume. You can get some auto body places to do some amazing things with metal coatings, I might add. Yeah, you're diggin' it, right? I thought you'd like this version because it keeps the leopard skin but now it's in loincloth form, like from an ancient Greek theatrical 'rustic' costume. And we'll put a metal codpiece underneath in case some wiseapple tries to kick you in the 'little Atlas.' Instead of a mask to hide your identity we have a helmet. I've also thought about how you could look when the helmet's off, like when you've just beaten a bunch of hoods into a bloody pulp and you steal away into the night with that freshly rescued 'special someone.' The laurel crown is painted metal so you can whip it out at a moment's notice and not worry about it wilting. What are you giggling about? And now, about your hair. I know that you can't get away with wearing it too long in this antiquated, backwards era -- um, I mean, nowadays. So this is basically Johnny Weissmuller length: longer than normal but not outrageously long. Can't you just imagine how you'd look all dolled up like this, posing on a gargoyle or crouched atop a streetcar or a lamppost or something? You'd be stunning, am I right? Of course I'm right! So, tell me what you think!"

Jim's response:
He said he liked the second option but he wanted to consult with his "patron god" on the matter. Then he went into an epileptic seizure. And then the real Doctor MacTavish walked in. I made a break for it. I had to bloody the noses of a few orderlies (and one of the beefier nurses) but I managed to lose them and slip back under the fence. Atlas was never heard from again.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I Like Bee Belts And I Just Can't Lie: The Red Bee

What's his deal:
D.A. Rick Raleigh fought crime during the early 40's with the aid of trained bees secreted in his belt buckle (first appearance: Hit Comics #1, July 1940). He had no superpowers, but he was a good fighter and detective, plus he had a small, red, armored car with which to tool about. Originally a brunette, he mysteriously became a redhead later on. Just like Lucille Ball! His finest moment: trapped and freezing in a Limbo-like dimension, he scammed Animal Man out of his jacket by pretending to cry (Animal Man #25, July 1990.)

Original Red Bee
Crimes against fashion:
Mainly? The gauzy, billowing pink sleeves protruding from a turtleneck vest with flared shoulders. And the yellow-and-red striped leggings didn't help matters.

Our meeting:
I was on the hunt for cravats in WW2-era Superior City when I "accidentally" walked into the wrong changing room (broke the lock in the process). There, I discovered the aforementioned godawful costume inside a briefcase (broke the lock in the process). Then Rick himself showed up. Long story short: my face is still a little puffy from all the bee stings, and I promised to make things up to him by redesigning his costume. We met again over drinks in a swanky nightspot.

My presentation:
"Rick, as I've done with all my clients, I've created two different options for you.
"With the first, we butch you up so folks will take you more seriously. The puffy sleeves and turtleneck are gone, replaced with a leather pilot's jacket. It's emblazoned with a bee insignia of my own creation. I made your belt a lot larger, and the buckle is now shaped like the cell of a honeycomb. I downplayed the stripe motif by moving it from your legs onto your boots. I also added gloves with rolled-down cuffs, which are all the rage nowadays. Your old domino mask is a keeper, except I made it blue to balance out all the red. Voila. Now you fit in with all the other mystery men.

"And here's my second option, where we just go nuts.
"Let's face it, pal, your modus operandi is quite frankly bizarre. So why not play into that? You like to wear a turtleneck, Rick? Fine, now it goes up to your nose. You're keen on stripes? Swell, now you're covered in 'em. Check out those pointy pixie toes on the boots! And the big flared gloves! The front of the buckle is made of green tempered glass, just like the goggles. The wings are silk, stetched over intricate metal frames. They're hinged, so that any sudden movement -- like a dramatic jump from rooftop, for instance -- will cause them to flap upward and hang there for a few seconds. The crowning touch? The haircut, which anticipates the punk rock movement by a good thirty-five years. (The what, you ask? Don't worry about it.) Now, this means that in your civilian identity, you'll have to wear a wig. Don't gripe at me; if Supergirl could do it, so can you. (Who's that? Don't worry about it.) The one downside with this outfit: you won't be able to get into it without the help of a second person... or at least a trained bee."

Rick's response:
He muttered something about "mulling it over," made an excuse about running to the men's room, and never returned, sticking me with the check.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I'm Here, I'm Wearing Purple & Orange Together, Get Used To It.

Before I get to the costumes I designed for other heroes, here's another one of mine.
Now, that's a high collar! How does it stay affixed to my head like that? Sorry, but I'm from the future and if I told you it would create a time paradox that would destroy the universe.

Okay, okay. I just dab some spirit gum on my temples. [cringes, waits for universe to end]

So you're probably wondering, if I said in my last post that I thought my shoulders were so incredibly great, why I am covering them up with shoulder pads. It's not covering. It's a little something called emphasizing, people. I don't want people to get distracted by the ultra-high collar. The costume as a whole is based on certain athletic uniforms from my time. The chestplate features a double "B" symbol I designed myself, based on an ancient Earth alphabet. Well, it's ancient to me, anyhow. All you (adorable) savages probably still use it. And those yellow doo-dads all over eveything?

They contain snacks.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Little Blog on the Prairie: A New Beginning

To give this blog a distinctive focus, I'm turning it over to Blockade Boy himself! That's right, the one from "Adventure Comics" numbers 344 and 345. Blockade Boy wants to use this space to post his redesigned versions of various superhero costumes. The following is a transcript of a recent interview I conducted with the man himself.

Me: I'm sure this blog's readers (all two of them) are wondering: what qualifies you to tell other superheroes how to dress? Your own costume looked just like regular clothes. Also, aren't you dead?

Blockade Boy: [laughs] Ouch! To answer your first question, that wasn't my superhero costume you saw in those comic books. Here's the deal... my former friend Weight Wizard and I were trying on t-shirts and cargo pants at Old Space Navy, when Nardo's android henchmen stormed the changing rooms, zapped us senseless, and spirited us off to that remote prison camp. We were actually the first two superheroes he captured! We didn't know what he had planned. That's how Weight Wizard talked me into shaving off my sweet-ass muttonchops and goatee, and buzzing my hair real short. He said that Nardo would just shave us completely naked anyway -- he said he saw the same thing happen in an old holo-movie. Well, I panicked. I hate it when somebody else tries to do my hair -- they never do it right. So anyway, there I was, looking like the world's biggest square, and I asked him, did he want me to shave his hair off, too? See, I used to style Weight Wizard's hair for him all the time, plus I'd coordinate his outfits. But at any rate, he said no, he was just kidding about me having to shave all my hair off. So I beat the everloving crap out of him. Not much later he cozied up to Nardo and basically became his bitch. All becaused he was scared of me.

Me: And not long after that, he was devoured by an enormous extraterrestrial water lily.

Blockade Boy: Seriously? That is so weird, because that's exactly how he wanted to die. We got really drunk this one time and spent the whole night talking about the most perfectly beautiful way to die. I said I wanted to be trampled by unicorns, and he said he wanted to be eaten by a huge flower.

Me: You didn't know that Weight Wizard is dead?

Blockade Boy: No! You're not joking? He's really dead?

Me: I'm sorry, but yes.

Blockade Boy: [sobbing] Can... can we stop for a sec?


Me: So, I guess you didn't read those comics all the way through.

Blockade Boy: No, I stopped after they killed me off. Now, about that... I was just pretending to be dead. It was the only way I could think of escaping. I mean, my power is changing into a wall, for Pete's sake. Not a lot of offensive capability, y'know? Defense, that's a different story. When I'm a wall, nothing can hurt me. Anyway, Matter-Eater Lad and I were pretty far away from the prison at that point, so when Nardo and his hench-bots showed up, I "took a bullet" as you filthy cavemen like to say, and I play-acted my balls off. Once everyone was gone, I scrammed out of there. It took awhile, but I finally made it to civilization. I went straight to the nearest Science Police station. But by that time, the Legion of Superheroes had freed everyone.

Me: And now you redesign superhero costumes. Why?

Blockade Boy: Well, it all started when I snuck into the Legion of Superheroes Clubhouse and, shall we say, "borrowed" one of their Time Bubbles. I went back in time to 1940's Hollywood to meet my idols, like legendary MGM costume designer Adrian. Adrian and I had each other's backs in a barroom brawl with Orry-Kelly and Edith Head. Adrian threw a handful of sequins in their eyes and then I bludgeoned them senseless with the unconscious body of Coco Chanel. But I digress. I couldn't return to the 30th century after all because of some kind of time distortion. Apparently since I left, all of reality was completely destroyed and rebuilt... twice! At least! So now I just hop around the timestream and all sorts of dimensions, and generally have a great time. And you know what? There are tons of superheroes out there who need my help. And I'm happy to give it. What can I say? I have a heart as big as all outdoors. When I see an ugly superhero costume, I go to work, imagining what it would look like with some improvements. If only they would listen to me! Anyhow, I usually do two redesigns for each superhero. One design retains as many elements from the original costume as humanly possible, and with the other one, I just go nuts. I'll post them here so everyone can see how great I am! But for starters, here's a picture of me in one of my actual costumes, not that get-up I was wearing in the prison camp.


I call this pose, "Stop, in the name of Blockade Boy!" And do you love that neckline? I always say, if you have broad shoulders, show 'em off! And as you can see, I like things to be fairly streamlined. The only piece of bling-bling is my beltless buckle, which I made in the shape of the Interlac language "B."

Me: Very nice. So, what do you like to see in a superhero costume?

Blockade Boy: I like all sorts of looks. The Aquaman neckline, of course. High collars are good, too. Domino masks. Hooded cloaks. I like almost any kind of gloves and boots unless they extend past the elbows and knees. I'm pretty broad-minded.

Me: What do you hate?

Blockade Boy: For starters? No man should wear puffy sleeves unless he's a pirate, Firestorm. I also hate cut-outs, bell bottoms, and clunky, furry boots. I hate extraneous armbands, straps, and pouches. Shirts that are open to the navel or beyond. Chain-link anything. Metal bras, panties, and bustiers. The combination of bare thighs and covered arms, but only on men. High heels and fishnet stockings, with a special exemption for magicians. And I despise underwear worn outside of the clothes. What is up with that? Are these people worried they'll forget to change their underpants unless they put them on last? C'mon!

Me: You certainly know what you want! Thanks for talking with me, and for taking over this blog.

Blockade Boy: Thank you! And all you superheroes out there, flying around in your ugly-ass costumes? You're welcome. (In advance.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

To Surly, With Love

Or, A Nostalgic Look Back at the "America's Next Top Model" Finale.

Dearest Ya Ya,

I gratefully acknowledge the way you used both your unrelenting bitchiness and a strangely emotionless performance in the runway challenge to sink your chances of winning this thing. Kudos.

Blockade Boy

The finale begins with the three remaining candidates -- Ya Ya, Amanda, and Eva -- returning from a tough elimination ceremony. No-talent Ann was the bootee-of-the-week, and she capped off her inexplicably hateful treatment of Eva by completely ignoring her after hugging Amanda and Eva. Amanda confides to the camera, "Eva has been treating Ann like poo." The hell--? First of all, it was the exact opposite. And second of all... poo? What are you, six years old? Or Norelle? In an interview, Eva says, "I'm trying to be this better person, but nobody is seeing it. I know Amanda isn't seeing it, but then she is legally blind. And then it's Ya Ya's turn. Ms. Compassion-and-Wisdom blesses the viewing audience with her bitchiest, ugliest quote yet: "If there's something Amanda and I could do to make Eva feel included, we wouldn't do it." They should have filmed this like a Japanese horror flick, 'cause then they could have panned over to a pale, kohl-eyed youngster pointing at Ya Ya and yowling like an alley cat.

The next day's challenge is a photo shoot. "The lip is the hero today!" proclaims Jay Manuel. And Tyra's ass is the love interest! The photos are for a new type of Cover Girl lipstick, and the woman who gets crowned "America's Next Top Model" will get to see her photo in an honest-to-goodness, published advertisement. The contestants have to pose on rocks in a shallow pool, so it's kind of like a Zen garden at George Clooney's house. Amanda mentally prepares herself to "exude [her] appreciation for bunny rabbits and France." Well, bunny rabbits didn't do big business selling weapons to Saddam Hussein and then take a phony moral stance when another nation wanted to get rid of him (admittedly, that other nation was also taking a phony moral stance). Anyway, I think she could've just stuck with the bunny rabbits. Amanda does a good job on the shoot. So does Eva -- while Amanda lurks in the rafters and stares at her. And sees a fuzzy gray blob, I'd guess, but hey -- intimidation is intimidation. Jay says that Eva "let the tough girl wall come down." Is that what they're calling the hymen these days? The "tough girl wall?" Ya Ya tries to act like she's not a spoiled, venom-spitting harridan and it actually kind of works, although her smile is a bit strained. Talking about the photo shoot, Ya Ya mentions her educational background yet again. Jeebus, honey! Nobody cares!

Commercial break. Eva has been voted "Cover Girl of the Week" for the fifth week in a row. I wonder if that's foreshadowing anything. Huh.

That night the three contestants have a "go-see" with Noriko Fukushimo, a major fashion designer. Ms. Fukushimo has Amanda model a wedding dress with a lacy hood that's embroidered with pink flowers. Amanda has rarely looked better. I have no wise-ass comments about this. I'm just really blown away by how gorgeous Amanda looks in that outfit. At the judging panel, all three finalists look very happy and perky. See, Ann? It's only been one night and Eva's already over you. Suck it! Amanda's Cover Girl photo is praised but she gets points off for wearing her glasses to the go-see. Ya Ya is stunned by her own photo. And no, that doesn't mean that somebody clobbered her over the head with it. Unfortunately. Ya Ya squeals, "It doesn't look like me!" One of the judges adds, "You look sweet." And I think that was Ya Ya's point. The judges fall all over themselves praising Eva's photo. Janice thinks Eva has "skin like honey." The judges send the contestants away so they can deliberate, but not before Tyra points out that they're the three shortest women in this season's group. Everybody laughs at that, but honestly, that's just another way the whole "top model" aspect of this contest is a crock. Agencies aren't looking for short, twenty-something gals when they want beginning models. They seem to prefer reedy, pubescent, androgynous giantesses -- with eating disorders.

Ms. Fukushimo, or at least her translator, opines that Amanda's "skin is translucent." It's meant as a compliment but it puts me in mind of "Valeda, the Transparent Talking Lady" at the Kansas Health Museum. Her organs take turns lighting up and then she tells you about them. It's nightmarish. One of the judges (sorry, my notes are a bit spotty) calls Eva "the girl every girl wants to know and be." With sentence construction like that, I'm guessing it was Ms. Fukushimo but I hate to throw stones. Nigel thinks Ya Ya is attractive but he's put off by her arrogance in person. Join the club. (It's huge!) The judges all agree that it's a hard decision. "I'm shaking, you guys!" says Tyra. Janice, thinking she's going through withdrawal, wrestles Tyra to the ground and forces a whole bottle of Seconol down her throat.

With the decision made, the three finalists are called back into the room. First place goes to... Ya Ya. Enjoy it while it lasts, honey. Eva wins second place. Amanda hugs them both, waves at the judges, and bows. Alone (with the camera crew) she breaks down and cries. She sobs that she wanted to win the $100,000 contract so that she could buy her family a house. Aw! Then again, she is way too old to be starting out as a model, not to mention there's the whole "going blind" thing so I don't know what she expected was going to happen, but still... aw! Maybe somebody will let her live in France. With the bunny rabbits. In the composite photo they show at the end of every episode, Amanda vanishes! It's that damned translucent skin, I tell you.

With just the two of them left, Ya Ya and Eva become friendlier. "We let our guards down," says Ya Ya. Eva says, "There's a sweet person underneath" Ya Ya's exterior personality. (And then there's another rampaging bitch underneath that, but I guess you take what you can get.) The pair of them have to go to their last one-on-one counseling sessions with Tyra. Tyra likes that Eva is always trying to improve herself. Eva explains that "There's never a testimony without a test," which is very fortune cookie of her. But what she means is that she's had a difficult life. Since this makes Eva sympathetic, the editors apparently saved any mention of this until the last episode, so as not to ruin the contrived "likeability arc" they'd created for her "character." Ya Ya confesses to Tyra that she didn't think she be called "first or at all." Tyra asks her why she doubted herself. Maybe it's because the only reason Ya Ya lasted this long is that the show needed a villain, and Ya Ya is basically Alexis Carrington, only with the complexion of Edward James Olmos (or me, to be fair about it.)

The final challenge is a fashion show. Eva is confident and points out the fact that she "can walk." Yup, that's definitely a plus. Jay is there, dressed in one of Neo's hand-me-down cassocks. Miss J. is also there and has done "her" hair samurai-style. It turns out that the models have to walk slowly. This panics Eva. I guess she only has one speed. Eva and Ya Ya get dolled up in cheek-to-forehead rouge and ridiculous hair extensions. They're both nervous about the show. Tyra breathlessly exclaims, "I'm nervous, too!" Ha ha ha! Cut the crap. For no good reason at all, Jay seems to be in charge of the fashion show. He gives directions to somebody on a space age headset. I sincerely hope that there's nobody on the other end of his conversation and that the show is, in fact, being run by somebody with a sliver of talent. Ya Ya and Eva step through the curtain aaannnndddd... cut to commercial! Oh, the suspense. It is killing me.

Masked drummers provide the music for the show. The models appear, walking like robots. (What is it with the Japanese and robots?) Backstage, it's pandemonium! Jay yells into the headset, "I need more girls! More girls!" Okay, that setup is way too easy, so let's just move on. Ya Ya is not only walking robotically, she's also banished all emotion from her face. She looks like a dead robot. Eva, meanwhile, looks more like a sexy, determined robot, on its way to a very efficient, highly organized orgy. As Ya Ya passes by, Janice screams, "Faster!" Bless her, I don't think she has the first clue as to where she is. Just like the fashion show in last season's finale, this show is rigged so that the two finalists almost collide with each other. Yawn. Both of the contestants are relieved that the show is finally over. "Eva collapsed into my bosom," says Ya Ya. The producers are kicking themselves that it didn't happen on the catwalk.

From the show, the contestants are told they must go straight to the judging panel. And by "straight," I mean "with a lengthy detour that allows for new hairstyles, makeup, and gowns." Eva and Ya Ya hold hands. Ya Ya silently berates herself for neglecting to wear the springloaded poison ring she keeps for such occasions. Janice has had her hair done, too! It looks like an old-time cathedral radio, covered in mink. Janice critiques Ya Ya's walk by telling her she looked "like a zombie." Tyra thinks Eva's bobbing head was a bit much. Janice compares her to "a little egret." Thinking about all the time I wasted watching this show, I feel a little egret -- I mean, regret. The judges review all of Ya Ya's and Eva's photos. In the tarantula photo, Tyra thinks Ya Ya looks like her. This is when I thought Ya Ya had the title all wrapped up. I remember last season, when Yoanna stayed in the competition week after week, even though the judges berated her for her thick waist. And then she won. Ya Ya was like that this year, with her attitude problem. Thank goodness I was proved wrong.

The judges deliberate and then bring Ya Ya and Eva back in for the final decision. Tyra tells Ya Ya that she "became likeable." She did? When did this happen? Tyra also thinks that Ya Ya is now "a true model from inside out." (I groaned with miserable expectation of Ya Ya's win at this point.) Nevertheless, the actual winner is Eva. Eva cries. Ya Ya tries to look like she's thrilled for Eva but her expression is closer to "Are you ****ing kidding me?" A stagehand splashes a bucket of water on Ya Ya and then she melts into a tiny puddle. All her beautiful wickedness--! Janice gives Eva a hug and then basically climbs on top of her and starts humping her. I wish I were exaggerating. Eva gets the last word: "Look out world, here comes Eva!" And if this were a Japanese horror film, this is the point at which Ann would crawl out of a television set and throttle her.