Friday, April 21, 2006

I Always Suspected As Much

boxer ad
Two of my greatest suspicions have been confirmed.
1. I couldn't possibly be the only person who wears undergarments with his own face on them.
2. Wolverine is smoother than a Ken doll!

Jeebus, dude, who talked you into getting your chest waxed? Because that person was not your friend.

Anyway, the weird shapelessness of Wolverine's crotchal region inspired me to pen this one-act play:

Horny Ninja Alien Princesses 38

Wolverine: Himself
Princess Nil'ja'dri'mor: Dame Judi Dench

Setting: the sumptuously appointed stateroom of Princess Nil'ja'dri'mor, aboard her living space-yacht, the Aetherrunner. The Princess and Wolverine enter, passionately kissing, and make their way towards her bed, slamming into walls and knocking things off tables as they go.

Princess: Tomorrow we fight what may well be our final battle against the Sl'wev'ghr in the heart of the B'mil'hov'nor Galaxy! But tonight... we love!

Wolverine: Daddy needs some candy, baby! Let's do this thang!

Princess (uses her fantastic alien strength to rip Wolverine's belt off, and then starts to pull down his tights): Let's get you out of these dumb ol' clothes! Tee hee!

Wolverine (pulls back): Whoa! Whoa! Er, doesn't it seem kind of bright in here? It's kinda ruining the mood.

Princess: Oh, you want the lights out?

Wolverine (grins devilishly): The Wolverine only comes out at night, baby! Grrrowff!

Princess: Anything for you, my regal warrior.

(She claps her hands twice and the lights go out. The pair are illuminated only by the faint glow of swiftly passing stars.)

Wolverine: Phew! (nervously fans self with his hands) Omigod that was so scary!

Princess: What?

Wolverine: Just talking to myself. Because I'm crazy! I slice men into ribbons with my sweet-ass claws 'cause I'm mean-mad with the bloodlust! I'M WOLVERINE, BABY!!! AAAARRROOOOOO!!!

Princess: Take me, you hairy alien lunatic! Take me now! The Princess commands you! (She pulls down his tights, and finds a pair of Hanes boxers underneath with Wolverine's image on them.) Okay. Weird. Well, off they go, too!

Wolverine (grabs her arms): Not so fast there, slick. That porthole over there... don't you have some draperies or something we can cover that up with? I really need for it to be totally dark in here. I can't explain why but it's just very important to me.

Princess: No, no draperies. Quit stalling! Your Princess wants some of that strange Earth lovin'!

Wolverine: Hey, look! There's an armoire right next to it! If we each took one side, we could move it in front of the porthole and voila! Problem solved! Or maybe we could use that extra sheet over there as a sort of impromptu window treatment... (he begins to flop-sweat)

Princess: Relax, lover! Nobody can see us here! (she yanks down the boxers) Now, I'm going to show you pleasure like you've -- huh. Ha! HAW HAW HAW! You have got to be freaking kidding me! It's like a little Vienna sausage! Oh, lordy! Wait'll I tell my handmaidens about-- (Wolverine disembowels her)

(curtain falls)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Look, Ma, No Mouth!

alex maleev design
A few weeks ago, Heikki Myllari sent me a very nice e-mail posing a very interesting question: "Since her (underrated) series ended just last month, I was wondering what you thought about the old-new Batgirl, and her S&M themed costume with the stitched-shut mask?"

I sent Heikki a reply a while back, but I wanted to address Batgirl's costume in length on my blog. And I'd like to offer Heikki a hearty thank-you for sending me the above image. I had no idea the outfit was designed by Alex Maleev. I was shocked. You could've knocked me over with a feather, I tell ya! Maleev is an artist I like, except for his tendency (if I recall correctly) to use photocopied panels every now and then in talking scenes. Y'know, those bits in the comic where a person is standing there with the exact same position and expression in three or four panels straight, babbling some Claremont-speak or rambling away with some of that "Get to the freaking point or as God is my witness I'm going to stab your boring ass" Bendis-talk.

Heikki said that one retailer has remarked that his customers found Batgirl's costume offputting. It is awfully solemn and mannish. I wonder... if the comic had starred "Alessandro Cain" instead of Cassandra Cain, would the average male customer have liked the costume more? I have no problem with superheroine costumes looking intimidating, but I do think there is a disconnect between the costume and the "girl" part of her codename. I hear "Batgirl" and I'm expecting something that could be reasonably worn by Betty Cooper or Hilary Duff. So in that light, the costume is unnecessarily serious. Not to mention boring. I think restricting the yellow to that ridiculously chunky belt and a mere outline around the bat-symbol was a big mistake.

color costume

The costume really falls apart with the cowl. I have no problem with cowls that cover the entire face -- the Black Panther, the White Tiger, the Atom -- those are great. Batgirl's cowl, however, has some very conspicuous stitching around the mouth. Which is stupid. Because this stitching is nowhere in evidence on the rest of her costume. Most superhero costumes are drawn like they're painted onto the body. Even if they're drawn with wrinkles and folds and such, stitching is almost never indicated. In Batgirl's case, the stitching implied that the section of fabric covering the mouth was going to be dramatically ripped away at some point. Now, I didn't follow the "No Man's Land" books so I have no idea if that actually happened when the Huntress was wearing that costume or not. But my point is, it looks like it was meant to be impermanent, and yet it never went away. Some artists would even exaggerate the stitching's theatricality by making it huge, like Batgirl had sewn her costume using very fine thread for most of it and then switched to half-inch nylon rope for the cowl.

My big question is, why did Cassandra feel she had to hide her mouth behind that thing? What was she concealing? My guesses?

1. Seriously chapped lips
2. Subcutaneous acne
3. Receding gums
4. Light, downy mustache
5. Snaggletoof
6. Harelip
7. Stank breath, y'all
8. Her tongue piercing (trust me, Batman is a hard-core douche when it comes to that kind of thing)
9. Big snapping mandibles because OH MY GOD she has the head of a giant ant!
10. Love-bite from Jason Todd

Or, y'know, somethin' like that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Secret Society Of Snappy Separates

You'd think after "Twilight" that I wouldn't want to read another Howard Chaykin miniseries. And yet, "JLA: The Secret Society Of Super-Heroes" sucked me in on the strength of its artwork and some interesting takes on some very old costumes.


I presume these "Elseworlds" versions of the Justice Leaguers were all designed by the artist, Mike McKone. He's one of my favorites. But remember when he sucked? Way back in the late 1980's, when Giffin and DeMatteis were still on "Justice League"? McKone had just started out and had no business getting hired by one of the big publishers. His faces, always a bit on the horsey side, covered most of his characters' heads, which were about three-and-a-half times taller than they were wide. And he mainly drew people looking straight ahead or in profile. (Because three-quarter views are scary!) He sure as hell improved, though, huh? He's one of the best in the biz now!

Going left to right...
Metamorpho: is putty gray all over, which I much prefer to his "Ultra the Multi-Alien" crazy quilt look. His costume is mainly purple, which of course is the color of his chest in his standard design. And it's sleeveless, which works for his baldheaded, "tough guy" vibe.
Hawkgirl: a real mess. I'll get to her in detail in a minute.
Wonder Woman: Putting Wonder Woman in pants is always a dicey proposition. If you match the color of her classic "satin tights" they end up looking like jeans. If you put the stars on them, they end up looking like really tacky jeans. I think this costume avoids those pitfalls because not only are there no stars, but there are no boots. I'm not thrilled with the "Xena: Warrior Princess" bangs on her hairdo but other than that I think it's great.
Superman: excellent. This is one of my all-time favorite Superman costumes. The nice thing is, even though there's no cape and no yellow and nothing even approaching the well-known Superman logo, it's still obviously Superman to me. And the design of the huge "S" along with the muted color scheme, makes it look very Golden Age as well as modern.
Impulse: I'll show you his costume from the front in just a sec. Anyway, it's the same as the Flash's, only in gold.
Plastic Man: not bad, but boring. Which is why I'm not going to bother showing it to you.
Green Lantern: pretty good! Sleek and not too busy. And this was back during Kyle's "crabclaw mask" period, so I have to hand it to McKone for ditching it in favor of something attractive. My only beef is with the flared-out kneepads or whatever the heck those things are supposed to be. It looks like his knees are wearing bishops' miters. I wonder if they got to elect the Pope.
The Atom: nice. I'll show him close-up in a bit. One thing you can't see in this or the other panel: there's an antenna on his cowl. Which I think looks kinda cool.

I'm ready for my close-ups!


Geoff "I Need A Hug" Johns is probably kicking himself right now that he didn't think of this first. But he got to make up for it by having Deathstroke shatter Impulse's kneecaps. In a scene that was also drawn by Mike McKone. Weird.

The common denominator in these costumes is that they are all two-piece instead of onesies. It's more practical and flattering -- for an example, compare the two-piece uniforms on the later seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation to the uncomfortable-looking zip-up bodysuits in the first seasons. Sure, Captain Picard had to yank down his shirt every time he got up from a chair, but at least there weren't all those weird wrinkles and folds. (Not in his uniform, anyway.)

My problem with the Flash and Impulse costumes here is that they could really have used something to break up all the monotony. Red and yellow (or "gold") are such bright colors that in big quantities they become overwhelming. And with no boots or gloves or anything, Wally and Bart look like they're wearing footy pajamas.

Let's see what the Atom and Hawkgirl are up to!

Oh, did I come at a bad time?

The Atom's costume is nice. Generic, but nice. Just like his "classic" costume, which is one I've never been all that enthused about. But Hawkgirl--! There have been scads of awful Hawkgirl costumes but I think this is one of the worst. The dominant color scheme: white and brown. Thrilling. And if you take away the helmet and the wings, what have you got? A muscle shirt over a loincloth over chainmail bicycle shorts. With pirate boots. The Atom getting squashed? Meh. It's Hawkgirl's costume that makes me sick to my stomach.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In Her Linen Skirt, Making Bad Guys Hurt

I'm already planning on picking up DC's "52" because I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. ("Civil War"? Civil WHATEVER, man!) And I'm especially surprised and delighted by this gorgeous cover. Check it out: Black Adam has a cape, now! (I didn't notice it until Devon Sanders pointed it out on his blog. That's me: Mister Observant.) Anyway, good for him! I've thought Black Adam needed a cape ever since he threw off the influence of that weasely little Theo Adam and revealed his true personality to be somewhere between Magneto and Thor. It makes him look more heroic and kingly, and it's a much-needed visual symbol of his status change. And bonus! It looks like he has a girlfriend! And not just any girlfriend, mind you. Her name is Isis.

I was hoping it would be the Isis from the 1970's live-action kids' show but that's doubtful. Another company owns the rights to the character, but I've noticed its website doesn't list print rights. So it could happen! Maybe. In a parallel universe or something. And Lord knows I've seen my share of those.

Let's take a look at the 70's Isis, shall we?

final cover

Here she is, reeling from the attack of a guy who has "the mutant power to change best friends into hated enemies" and, apparently, the added ability of spraying hot, delicious queso dip from his eyeballs. As you can see, she has a great outfit, and I tip my cap to the TV costume designer who came up with it. Let's see if her fashion sense carries over into her civilian identity.

startling transformation

Ah. Evidently not. Also, Wonder Woman called; she wants her schtick back. Also, I didn't know she was secretly Bailey Quarters from "WKRP In Cincinnati." Also, it's the Jennifer Walters line of frumpy pantsuits! Oh, I could go on like this all day! *sighs wistfully* But what really sets Isis apart from someone like Wonder Woman is that she's a magic user and she gets things done through rhyming couplets. Like, constantly.

obedient bullets

Okay, somebody explain to me how she was able to recite her little poem before being mowed down by gunfire. I guess the second panel shows that the criminals were just really poor shots. Lucky for Isis. If you're wondering what those things are on the villains' heads? Don't ask. Aw, alright already. I'll spill it. They're "lead-lined brain covers" designed to shield their thoughts from the mutant guy. To someone like me, with my combination psychic shields/snack containers, they're wonderfully quaint. Although I think I could seriously rock that look. Y'know, if I wanted to. But I don't.

Isis' comic was cancelled with this issue. A little blurb in the letter column blames low sales. I think an Isis comic would stand a better chance today, especially if DC really went for the female market, because:
1. The character has mythological/fairy tale elements.
2. She doesn't dress like a cheap hooker, Supergirl.
3. She fights crime with poetry! How girly is that?

Well, it's not too girly, I've decided, because I wanna try it! Let's see if I can make things happen for myself with mystic-sounding couplets. I've been meaning to do a little grooming, so...

As farmers' scythes glide through their crops,
Trim my sweet-ass muttonchops!

Hmm. Nothin'. I'll try again.

Golden sunsets painting twilights,
Give my hair some bangin' highlights!

Nope. No dice. Obviously I suck at this.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Meet The Dorkersons

dorky family

From the back of "Ghost Manor" #55, (Charlton, March 1981) comes this horribly printed ad for a "Warrior's Battlejacket." Look familiar? Note the pharaonic space helmet the boy is holding. And yet the phrase "Battlestar Galactica" appears nowhere in the advertisement. And believe it or not, this is far from the sleaziest ad in this comic. As you'll soon see.

Apparently the little girl is busy transcending this plane of existance and morphing into an energy being. She gets that from her mom's side of the family, I guess. When folks see the husband strolling arm-in-arm with his brightly glowing, near-featureless wife, the other fellas jab one another and say, "Man, how'd a loser like him score... um, whatever the hell that thing is?" And then the wife would overhear them and fold space into a tesaract in order to reach inside their skulls and reduce their brains to a frothy, mousse-like consistency. As for the husband? Well, the sex is mind-blowing. Instead of a bed, they do the nasty directly on one of those monolith thingies from "2001: A Space Odyssey." Unfortunately, the radiation level is so high that his junk has sprouted a tiny, scowling face and what appear to be several miniature narwhals' tusks.

According to the ad, "The Warrior's Battlejacket can be worn practically anywhere" (that you'd like a stranger to kick you in the groin). But what if you don't want the Warrior's Battlejacket? What if you'd rather have a girlfriend? How could the ads in "Ghost Manor" #55 help you with that endeavor?

Well, there's always mind control.

mind command

Or if that's not to your liking, maybe you'd like to try mind control.

omni cosmics

Or even just good, simple, old-fashioned MIND CONTROL!

venus statue

JESUS F**KING CHRIST! No wonder Charlton stopped publishing comics! All their customers were in prison! And I'm sure the prison psychiatrists wouldn't let them have any comics. Not Charlton comics, anyway. I'm guessing that towards the end, there, if you sent in a subscription form to Charlton Comics? It was automatically forwarded to the FBI. Nowadays there'd be laws requiring a Charlton reader to go door-to-door in their neighborhoods just to let everyone else know who was living amongst them.

And then they'd burn his house to the ground.