Friday, March 10, 2006

The Wonderful Neapolitan Ice Cream Suit

ice cream

You know you're grasping for straws when you have to reference a Ray Bradbury story in the title of your post, and you're not even sure you remembered it right. I dunno, it's just that some days... *weeps openly* Okay, Blockade Boy, shake it off, shake it off. Put yourself in the "zone." *exhales deeply* Let's go!

This is the costume Nightcrawler wishes he had worn! But it's too late for regrets, because the suit got snapped up by one of my favorite Flash villains, the Rainbow Raider. The Raider, a.k.a. Roy G. Bivolo -- ha ha ha! shut up! -- was color blind. Bivolo's pop tried to invent a device that could compensate for that, but the closest thing he created was a pair of goggles that gave the wearer the power to drain the color and vitality from people's bodies, create solid rainbow bridges and prisons, and alter the emotions of anyone he looked at. What a rip-off! This one time, Lenscrafters tinted my prescription sunglasses the wrong shade of smoky gray, so I think I can relate.

Our Mister Bivolo ended up another victim of the violent typing fingers of Geoff "I Need A Hug" Johns. In an act perfectly symbolic of Johns' tenure on the Flash title, he had the Rainbow Raider -- a blatantly goofy but also fun, clever, and well-designed villain -- get murdered by "Blacksmith," a serious, one-note hateful villain of Johns' own creation, who had an eyesocket-scoopingly ugly character design (by Scott Kolins. OF COURSE.) The irony being that Blacksmith herself was also goofy, albeit in a completely unintentional and unpleasant fashion. And then he introduced, years later and seemingly out of nowhere, a seven-person team of color-themed villains calling themselves "The Rainbow Raiders." And to this day, I have no idea if they've ever carried a story on their own. I think they mainly just show up at funerals. Like the Vice-President. What the fuck ever, Johns.

In theory, the Rainbow Raider's outfit shouldn't appeal to me at all. I mean, the man wore a freakin' rainbow. However, the Raider did several things to balance that out. He wore enough black to compensate for all the color. He also varied the width of the stripes, to keep it from becoming boring. And he flared the shoulders, which created an interesting silhouette. So I'd say, "Lookin' sharp, Rainbow Raider! Also? Sorry you're dead now." What do you say, Mister Bivolo?

Crystal Lite

Atta boy!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Don't Look Down; You'll Poke Your Eye Out

spiky collar

Oops! Too late!

Meet Stellarax, who battled (and was soundly trounced by) Captain Marvel in the final issue of that hero's comic book (#62, May 1979). I first saw this guy's costume when I was a mere lad and thought it was the coolest thing ever. But then I was also seriously into Grranimals, so what the hell did I know? It's only now, as a full-grown Blockade Boy, that I can recognize it for the overdone shitpile that it is. Stellarax, buddy? Let's talk about your costume and all the things that are wrong with it.

1. The bat wings on your helmet. Normally I adore that stuff, but they're such a weird size. Proportionally, they're just off. If they were tinier, like the wings on the Flash's cowl, or if they were bigger, like the wings on Thor's helmet, they would work. But this half-ass nonsense ain't cuttin' it.

2. The built-in eyepatch. It has a hole in it. So you can see out of it. What are you, an idiot?

3. The silver-plated conch shells, er, I mean, "shoulder pads."

4. That collar! Jibbidy Jesus, what in the name of all that is holy is going on with that thing? As you know, I'm all about practicality. So I ask you, Stellarax, just precisely what are those spikes meant to protect? Are you consumed with the fear that somebody might tweak your nipples? Or did the vet put that around you so you wouldn't lick yourself? Also, I think I figured out how you lost that eye.

5. The piping. Piping is a favorite tool of bad costume designers everywhere (see also Kolins, Scott). However, piping is not supposed to be made of actual pipes. And is the hot water on your right arm or your left?

6. The hairball pattern on the gloves, boots, and loincloth. (Loincloth?!) I have one of those little sticky roller things, Stellarax. I could clean that right up for you.

7. Annnd the mace. Let's take a closer look at the mace.

fluffy mace

Really went to town there on the spikes, didn't ya? FYI, honey, when the spikes are that close together, well, the damn thing might as well be made out of Nerf. What's that? It's actually an energy weapon? I didn't re-- hey, put that down! Let's not be rash, here. Well, of course I'll apologize! I learned 21st century Earth manners from the greats, like Santino Rice of Project Runway. How would he have put it...? Oh, yes. "I'm sorry you got angry when I explained how shitty your costume looks." Ow! OW!! Dammit, this is like the second time this week somebody's shot at me...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Unisex Hair Salon... OF DEATH!

Just a little off the top

"Now let's even up those bangs!" the stylist shrieked, his arms flailing wildly.

Today's subject was chosen in honor of the scary-thin fifty-something stylist who kept insisting my hair was filthy in spite of the fact that I'd washed it mere hours earlier. The woman was obviously in her late middle-age but she dressed like one of the Duff sisters, and while she rinsed my hair she kept exclaiming, "Yucky!" Okay, bitch, first off? I ain't paying you for "yucky." And secondly? After you pull that kind of crap? Then HELL NO, I'm not going to buy any Paul Mitchell shampoo from you.

So here's a startling doppelganger of the stylist I encountered yesterday: forgotten Batman villain, the Dodo Man (from Batman #303, September 1978). The Dodo Man is a thief who specializes in taxidermied dodo birds and dodo bird-related items. It's unclear in this story whether the Dodo Man normally looks like this or whether it's his fiendish disguise to blend into one of the museum's exhibits (When Peter Boyle Ruled The Earth). However, the fact that his idea of "blending in" consisted of hiding under a blanket makes me think that YES, the Dodo Man really is a remarkably toned nonagenarian with a bad dye job. Still, the fight scene lasts all of one-and-a-third pages. Because he's fighting Batman.

I think what we can learn from the Dodo Man is that even with a boring brown unitard, you can still make a memorable impession by styling your hair in a spectacularly age-inappropriate manner. Nice save, Dodo Man!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The One Accessory Every Man Should Own

Not Flagg

No, I'm not talking about the purple cape with matching purple fur collar. Although that is pretty stylin'. Or the spurs. Or the guns or the big studded belt, or even that arm bracelet, which is apparently constructed of 'Nilla Wafers. And not even the busty lass draped around his left foot. (I'd be all like, "Whatever, honey. You got any brothers?") No, I'm talking about the big honkin' gold-plated android falcon. That thing can spruce up any wardrobe.

The squinty fellow is Monark Starstalker, seen here on the cover of "Marvel Premiere" #32, October 1976. Created by Howard Chaykin, Monark is a charming, square-jawed, two-fisted rogue with thick black hair and crinkly, smiley eyes. It's a shame Chaykin never revisted that type of character ever again, huh? Okay, you can't tell by reading, but my voice was simply dripping with sarcasm just then. His android falcon, besides just looking hella cool, also doubles as a telepathic replacement for his body's destroyed nervous system. So, the coolness is essentially doubled. It's so cool, in fact, that it even makes up for those dopey armored underpants he's wearing. Did somethin' else get destroyed, Monark? Ow! Hey, stop shooting me!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Gender Reassignment Challenge: Scarlet Witch To Scarlet Warlock

Here's the second entry in my self-appointed gender-reversal design challenge. In other words, I take a girly superheroine costume and butch it up for an (even more) imaginary male version of the same character. The trick is maintaining a visual connection with the femme outfit while keeping it from looking like "brawny guy in panties and a bra." It's harder than it sounds.

This time 'round, I chose the Scarlet Witch. Let's take a look at her in this panel from "The Avengers" #185 (July, 1979) in which Modred the Mystic surprises her in her bedroom while she's sleeping in the nude, and pretty much immediately decides to put some clothes on her. Gay! (Me, too, so no offense meant there. I'm just sayin', is all.)

Put some clothes on

As you can see, I had my work cut out for me, starting with all that pink, continuing with the strapless bustier/swimsuit thing she's wearing, and ending with the big dumb pointy tiara or whatever the hell that shit is on her head. And here's the result: the Scarlet Warlock.

Scarlet Warlock

(Roy Orbison tiger growl)

I'm really happy with how this one turned out. I mean, I don't know about you guys, but I'd do him. Oh, I'm sorry. That was really unprofessional. Let's move on. As you can see, I replaced the bustier-type thing with the closest equivalent for a (non-tranny) guy: a corset. Instead of using the pale pink, presumably gauzy fabric on the Scarlet Warlock's upper body, I just left the skin exposed. Yes, the nipples are a bit upsetting. Deal with it. Below the corset is a nice pair of tight, superhero-type pants. I made the tiara deal into a more masculine headpiece that covers the entire forehead and wraps around the chin. It has a nice Steve Ditko/Jack Kirby vibe, I think. I mean, I could see a guy who wore this fighting Doctor Strange, or maybe the Challengers of the Unknown. The cape, boots, and gloves were gender-neutral so I could leave them alone. I love how the little swoop of cape below the chin looks in conjunction with the corset. And then I just darkened the color scheme to make the outfit more serious and manly. So overall I'm quite pleased with it.