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.