Monday, August 07, 2006

Rescue Me: Bird-Man 2

Quite some time ago, the vigilante Scourge embarked upon a mission to rid the world of super-villains -- provided they were kind of lame and didn't have terribly illustrious careers. Oh, and it helped if their costumes sucked. That's the kind of villain Scourge really enjoyed shooting... in the back.

I'm no fan of Scourge, or of his editorial purpose. Personally, I think a good story can be written with any character. It's just takes enough imagination and effort. And in the case of Scourge's victims, I'd start by giving them better costumes.

Bird-Man 2 was one of the Ani-Men. And that's about all I could find about this guy on the web. I couldn't even find an image of him. I know he succeeded the first Bird-Man, a.k.a. Henry Hawk. Not to be confused with Tony Hawk. Whose nickname is "Birdman." (My head; it is spinning.)

Okay, so I did find out that at least one of the Bird-Men got his powers from his costume. And Count Nefaria had his scientists mutate the Ani-Men into naturally super-powered people. And there were antennae on the sides of the Bird-Man helmet for some reason. I hope that The Thing That Walks Like A Man, who seems to be really into Bird-Man, can explain it all to me.

As you can see from the link, the Bird-Man costume is kind of stupid. Not a big surprise to me, since I hate bird costumes. I can only think of a few that I like: Frank Quitely's Owlman design, the G-Force teens, Hawkman (natch... hairy chest time! Woo!), er... the Blue Falcon and Dynomutt... okay, I'm done. Anyway, it's hard to design a bird costume for a super-character and keep him from looking like a college football mascot. Or some drama major cavorting in front of a fast-food joint. So this was a helluva challenge for me just by its very nature. As an added challenge, I promised myself I'd include the antennae, and I'd keep them on the helmet. So here goes:


Yes, everyone's beautiful at the ballet. But seriously, I was trying to think how I could make the antennae look like a natural part of the helmet design instead of just jamming the damn things on the sides of it, like whoever did that with the old costume. And yes, I understand that the antennae were a unifying visual element for the Ani-Men but we're not talking about all of the Ani-Men now. We're talking Bird-Man, solo. At first I tried a "great horned owl" theme but it looked way too much like Quitely's Owlman. And then I came up with the peacock idea, with the antennae as the feathers in his crest. So we have the peacock helmet, the cloak that looks like a peacock's tail, gorgeous iridescent blue on the gloves and trousers, some purplish-silver metallic boots, and because I just can't help myself sometimes, a bare chest. (I know, I know. Sue me.) The cloak isn't attached to the wrists, because that would be stupid. But I'm sure it billows like a mofo when he's flying. That would look kinda cool.

Now, if I only knew the first thing about him--!


Anonymous said...

Astonishing. Phantasmagoric! I think the guy's got a whole new bag going with this look; suddenly he has to be operatic, vain (of course) and preening, just fiendishly over the top--a far cry from his blandly vicious mutated muscle/cannonfodder days.

The cape just has to have a different power/effect for every feathered eye (like The Mandarin crossed with a D&D beholder!), or maybe it just unfurls and blasts foes with its fabulousness.

He needs a new monicker to go with it too, something like "Dr. Argus, the Pestilential Peacock", or, or--well something.

Phillip said...

Very nice. I imagine it being semi-separate feather-pieces rather than one big cape. It reminds me, though, have you seen this? I thought of you immediately.

Anonymous said...

Wow--that's a great pic. Those new duds add some much needed style, while maintaining the original's charm. And, bless you, you kept the antennae! I approve, good sir.

As for "explaining it all" to you, there's really not much to tell. The original Ani-Men (who later went by the Unholy Three/Trio, once they ditched Frog-Man I) were just mooks in animal suits. They weren't powerful (Bird-Man could fly, and the others were just athletic), and they weren't go-getters, as they always worked as muscle-for-hire; in fact, their only independent scheme involved a simple ransom-kidnapping...which resulted in the Trio getting resoundingly stomped by Daredevil and Spider-Man (Marvel Team-Up #25).

Despite their general unimpressiveness, the Ani-Men have always been amongst my favorite villains. I adore the forgotten D-list threats who combine menace with a healthy dose of goofy whimsy--Stilt-Man, Leapfrog, (pre-Suicide Squad) Captain Boomerang, the Ten-Eyed Man, and their ilk.

Again, thanks for the snazzy re-imagining, and I hope I didn't clog your blog!

Anonymous said...

Great redesign of an old villain! I like the antennas and the cape. Some species of birds have things like that growing out of their heads, don't they? Did you model him on a specific bird?

Ah, the Ani-Men. It's hilarious to read old X-Men comics and watch the Ani-Men smacking around the X-Men. Would never happen now, of course. When you become a big moneymaking franchise, you become invincible to the likes of the Ani-Men. Which is a pity. We could all use more Frog-Man pimpslapping Wolverine in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Now this is one costume I'd like to see all photoshopped up so we can appreciate all of the iridescent metalics.

It's really too good a design for a thug like Birdman. I agree with Chawunky that it requires an oversized personality and nom de guerre to match its fabulousness.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Chawunky: Haw! Yeah, you just know the guy's a total narcissist. Um, not that I would have any idea what that's like.

Phillip: Thanks! I imagine the "feathers" are separate from one another on maybe the bottom fourth or so of the cape, after that they're connected -- but their individual shapes are defined by ribbing, just like Batman's cape. FYI, for some reason the link didn't lead to any particular cartoon. I dunno why. Oh well.

The Thing: (Morticia Addams voice) Thank you, Thing! That explains the dearth of information on the net.

Anonymous: The costume is based on a particular species of peacock. The markings on the helmet are similar to the markings on the bird's head. I especially liked that the bird's beak was a light gray instead of a garish yellow. It helped make the costume less of a cliche'.

Bill: Agreed. I think this guy would have made a good old-school Spider-Woman villain. (I have a soft spot in my heart -- and head, I guess -- for Gypsy Moth.)