Friday, June 02, 2006

Casual Fridays At 177A Bleecker Street

Lazy, rainy Fridays at the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange... could it get any better? I imagine it would be like living in a Pier One. Cool foreign knick-knacks everywhere, the air permeated with a sublime, musky incense, and lite jazz blasting from hidden speakers. But unlike Pier One, you can stroll about in your bare feet and a cool robe and the salespeople won't scream at you or call the cops. Uptight bastards... but I seem to have gotten off track. Where were we? Oh yes.

Here's Clea, the Vili Fualaau to Doctor Strange's Mary Kay Letourneau, in a fetchingly convoluted penoir-and-genie-pants ensemble. It's very nearly see-through (the shameless hussy!) and features a stiff orange collar that would have done the Karate Kid proud. The very best part? The collar doubles as a dry-erase board. That way, when you're done doodling on it, you can jot down helpful messages. Like "Buy more incense" or "Exorcise cats." If it weren't for that way-out collar, Clea's "satanic milkmaid" up-do would overpower the gauzy frock -- but with the collar, the hair's practically a necessity.

And what would Hep Cat Supreme, Doctor Stephen Strange wear? Dig it!

Suh-weet! I covet that robe. Profoundly. Knowing that such a glorious robe exists and that I don't have it makes me die a little inside. And you know me; I'm an expert at sneaking into places and taking whatever I want, er, need. (Like "my" time bubble. Haw!) But I'm sure Strange's crib is fortified to the rafters with spells that would turn me into a bunny rabbit (with bangin' highlights) or hurl my taut white ass into a shadowy limbo-realm if I so much as tapped on a huge round window. So I guess I'm just going to have to deal with it. Hey, let's look at the back of the robe...

Gah--! Hang it all, now I really want that robe! And you just know it's the most comfortable robe, like, ever. Probably micro-woven out of the silken moustache hairs of teenage satyrs and hand-dyed with the hypo-allergenic inks of Polynesian octopus-spirits. And yet it's machine washable. Because it's magic. Check out the bottom half of it. There's even a scary crimson bat-creature on it to guard against people yanking it up when you're not wearing any underpants. Which is the case here, I'm sure. Oh, I must have that robe! Unless... maybe the robe itself is guarded with spells. Like, if anybody else tries to wear it, it eats them or maybe it transforms into an abbreviated terrycloth number, rendering itself unfashionable. Yikes. I guess I'd better leave well enough alone. No doubt, the bathrobe of Doctor Strange is not intended for mere mortals.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

And You Smell Like One Too!

The man whose brow is all a-wrinkle is Bruce Wayne; the lady with the fifty-cent garland from Hobby Lobby on her head is, of course, Poison Ivy. This is her very first appearance (Batman #181, June 1966). Happy 40th birthday, Ivy! Although technically the comic was probably published in March 1966. Nevertheless, you still look positively ravishing. Must be that brow lift you got back in '02. Sure, at first you resembled a Romulan but I think it's settled quite nicely.

Could Bruce be any cattier about Ivy and her makeup? Yes. Yes, he could, and I'd like to help. I think you've got a good start with the passive-aggressive tone of your remark, but you need to follow it up with something bigger. Here are some ideas:

"And frankly, I'd applaud anything that will distract them from how limp and stringy your hair looks. Seriously, when was the last time you washed it? During the Eisenhower Administration?"

"Nice eyebrows, by the way. What did you use, a magic marker?"

"And you're asking your cigarette because... why?"

"You've got a mouth like a catfish and your eyes are way too far apart. Practically on either side of your head. I don't know if makeup is going to get the job done. Have you considered just wearing a ski mask all the time? Or maybe never leaving your house?"

Feel free to take any or all of these, Bruce. It's my free gift to you! Just for being so darned square-jawed and rugged.

Now let's look at Ivy's former rivals, who first and last appeared in this same comic. Unless you count their cameo appearance as a godawful "Riot Grrrrl" band in some retelling of Ivy's origin a few years back. Which I sure as hell don't. Presenting... the three most dangerous people in the entire world! They're not just random tarts in showgirl costumes. Honest.

On the left we have Dragon Fly, with her innovative "crotch louver" bathing suit. Say goodbye to yeast infections forever with adjustable slats that give your cooter an air of Film Noir mystery!

In the center, we have Silken Spider, who is wearing the standard nurse's uniform for the Tommy Lee Memorial STD wing at Cedars-Sinai. It's also what the maids have to wear at Charlie Sheen's house. I don't know why she's posing with a garbage can. Probably full of busted sex toys and empty bottles of lubricant.

And on the right we have Tiger Moth, who has just returned from yet another daring faux-fur robbery. Now she has enough to make some capri pants! I wonder if anyone explained to her that moths don't have bird wings. Of course, former "Top Model" contestants have believed that all birds are blind and that elephants are related to dinosaurs, so anything's possible.

Meanwhile, in the lower right-hand corner, the Alfred clone just cannot believe the size of that lolly-pop.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hat Whack

(Warning: contains last-page spoiler image for "Secret Six" #1.)

As a villain, the Mad Hatter never struck me as all that menacing -- at best, a little odd, but never creepy or scary like the Joker. I mean, look at the guy:

Just some homely dude with Veddy British orthadonture and foppish taste in clothing. In fact, I'm not sure this isn't Willy Wonka. He just looks kinda... stupid. And that's the version without the outsize handlebar moustache!

The first time I saw the Mad Hatter smoking a hookah it was in "Arkham Asylum."

I have to say, it impressed me not a whit. It was too mannered, too much like an affectation. Like he was only doing it because he wanted Batman to see him doing it. I was certain that as soon as Grant Morrison's hysterical drama queen Batman had flounced tearfully out of the Hatter's sight, the Hatter would start hacking and coughing, and then he'd dig in his pockets for an Altoid to get the taste out of his mouth.

And then I read "Secret Six" #1. The team is looking for someone who can combat Doctor Psycho. In the last few pages, Catman enters a house with a Red Queen door knocker and we see all kinds of Wonderland accoutrements strewn within. Smoke curls into frame. Well, I knew it was going to be the Mad Hatter, and I thought, "For Christ's sake, he's on the hookah again? What the hell ever, DC Comics. Listen, I don't mind reading about the Hatter but don't bother trying to convince me he's a decent threat." And I sighed a jaded, world-weary sigh, and turned to the last page...

...and saw this:

Jesus Burger-Flipping Christ! It's the Nude Hatter! It's getting HAT in here, so take off all your clothes! He's in the buff, he's in his birthday suit, he's in the altogether! Yeah, yeah, the hookah is decorated with human skulls, I can see that, who cares. The Mad Hatter is starkers! Not to mention his expression. Look at 'im! That feller ain't right in the head! The long, chipped fingernails and toenails are a beautiful touch. Very Howard Hughes.

And, lest we forget, the hat. The hat can be a tricky accessory when you're drawing the Mad Hatter. Make it too small and he looks ordinary; make it too tall and he looks like he got lost en route to a rave party, circa 1991. The proportions in this instance are just right. And the entire image, spooky though it may be, would lose all its punch if he wasn't wearing that hat. I mean, he has to wear the hat since he's the Mad Hatter, but here's the deal: his nudity combined with the hat somehow makes him seem twice as nude. It's genius.

I yelped the first time I saw this. Seriously. I couldn't help it, the image was just that disturbing to me. I can't remember the last time a comic book has provoked that kind of reaction in me. Creepy movies can do that to me (saw the J-Horror film "Pulse" tonight and I was yelping like a mo-fo) but a comic? Pretty much never. Mad Hatter, I tip my cap to you!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Not Your Friend, But An Incredible Simulation

One of the weirder things in Roy Thomas' most recent run on "Thor" was the "Godpack." And I'm not just talking about the crazy sub-Liefeld costumes and hair (although I'll get to those momentarily). I mean the whole concept is kind of batshit insane. Because the Godpack consists of apparently random shmoes who were transformed by the High Evolutionary into super-beings with no memory of their old names or, I suspect, anything else. Which is just creepy. And here's the kicker: their new super-powered bodies were designed to emulate various Norse gods. And Thor became the leader of the group. Which means Thor spent a lot of time bossing around artificial versions of his close, personal friends.

Of course, Thor is used to bizarre crap like that. Just imagine what it must have been like in the Wundagore Gift Shoppe!
High Evolutionary: Janice? I've decided to promote you to manager.

Janice: Oh--! Well, thank you, Mister Evolutionary! So did Laurie quit, or did you promote her too, or--

High Evolutionary (darkly): Laurie's services were no longer needed.

Janice: I... see. Well, I'd better put in a classified ad for a new sales clerk!

High Evolutionary: No need! Behold, Janice O'Malley, for I now present to you... FUR RED!

Janice: The hell--?! He looks just like my friend Fred, only...

High Evolutionary: Only much, much BETTER! The creature you see before you is indeed based on the Fred you know, but is a wholly separate being with a myriad of genetic improvements! I trust you don't mind.

Janice: I just want to make sure the registers are covered. Still, it'll be kind of weird working with a guy who has Fred's face --

High Evolutionary: And his habit of whistling snippets of music from "Candide."

Janice: Really? Yikes. The main thing is... it'll be weird for me to, say, see Fred in the laundry room of our apartment building and then see his face again on a seven-foot-tall creature with a bright red lion's mane.

High Evolutionary: And tail.

Janice: Ew. Well, "Fur Red," let's find a company polo shirt that will fit you.


Janice (warily eyeing the broad, triangular thatch of red fur on the creature's chest): Trust me. You do.

[The two of them head for the storeroom, with Fur Red huskily whistling the opening bars of "Glitter And Be Gay."]

OKAY! Time for individual evaluations!


Back row:

"Anak." Son Of Thunder! (Kidding. And boy, is that ever a joke for comic book nerds!) Ridiculously gigantic and strong bald Black guy. Because that's not a sad, demeaning cliche, honest and for true. His outfit is actually the most demure of the bunch, except for the daring use of Seafoam Green, a color normally found on vacationing grandmas.

And that's it for the back row. Because he's big!

Front row, left to right (we'll skip Thor):

"Bellam." You know what I love about comic book ponytails? I love that they can grow to four, five feet long and still bounce around in complicated snaking patterns without a single strand out of place. I wonder what Bellam's hairdressing secret is. Some kind of xtreme-hold gel? Or Crisco, maybe? Also note that the High Evolutionary spent most of his shoe budget on everyone else so when he got to Bellam he only had about five bucks left and had to buy a pair of flimsy sandals from some hippie out on the street. Also, the poor dope has an axe for a hand. Not that he lost his hand in an accident, mind you. Nope, the High Evolutionary designed Bellam's current body to lack one hand. It cannot be said enough: the High Evolutionary is a creepy bastard.

"Luminor, Lord of Light." Which is funny, since I would have guessed from his breastplate that he was Lord of Corrugated Cardboard. Got enough kneepads, Luminor? You do? Then could I borrow a couple? No? Yeah, I didn't think so.

"Blitziana." Nothing screams "ready for battle" like a chrome-plated sports bra, huh? Check out the gloves. I'm thinking Blitziana is dressed to go to the opera. Providing that opera is being performed by the Celestials. (I've heard that Exitar is simply smashing as Madame Butterfly.) Bonus Creepy Points: the Norse god that Blitziana is based on? Is Thor. I guess the High Evolutionary was thinking, "Yeah, I like Thor and all, but you know what he needs? A fabulous rack. And maybe Wolverine's hair." News flash, honey! Nobody needs Wolverine's hair. Not even Wolverine needs Wolverine's hair.

"Loga." What a clever way to reuse those old red curtains in the sitting room! Bravo, High Evolutionary! And those tights look like they'd pinch. Just a bit. Just a teensy bit.

"Zefra." I don't think my eyes can take this much magenta. Notice how if she poses just so it looks like she's nude below the waist! Which is totally not on purpose, I'm sure. And there's more segmentation on the accessories, which, I'm sorry, is just stupid. Once Weight Wizard got his foot stuck inside a Slinky. (Yes, they'll still be manufactured one thousand years from now. Hey, stock tip!) If those arm-deals are anything like that Slinky, Zefra should be bawling like a baby and accusing Thor of taking her for granted. Oh wait, I guess he wasn't really blaming the Slinky for that second thing. Also, check out her hair. At this size, I can't tell if she's wearing a really goofy Zatanna hat or if it's a dye job. But one thing I do know is that her Medusa Lite mane would have been sexier if somebody hadn't snipped off the last two inches of it. I'm guessing Bellam got tired of being shown up in the hair department and took a little revenge. Bellam, you little bitch!

Monday, May 29, 2006

I Thank Thee, Nay

new costume

Mine Worthy Ally and Friend, The High Evolutionary,

It please thee, find attached with this missive the costume thou hast provided me. Though it pain mine warrior soul, must I confess thine superlative garment be too grand e'en for the Odinson. The immoderate use of gold and silver alone be more than enow to redden the cheeks of Hela's pale subjects. The sublimely mysterious accessories, such as the "bicep clasps" -- of which both function and purpose not e'en the All-Father himself might discern -- be o'er-worthy of this simple god. The symbols on the garment's severely abbreviated tunic, resembling naught so much as two Midgardian traffic signs, are of such an alarming shape and color that e'er had I mounted mine goat-chariot, Toothgrinder and Toothgnasher gazed upon mine newly-costumed form with much startlement and forthwith bolted from their stable, past noble guardsmen into the palace of Odin himself! (After much searching the beasts were located within one of Sif's boot closets. They maimed twelve men afore they could be persuaded to leave.)


Think thee not that the Thunder God mislikes thine miraculous gift! In truth, it is mine own body which is shamefully unfit to bear such finery. Mine lowly skin hath chafed fitfully 'neath its segmented trousers; likewise the mere act of donning the costume hath clipped mine bodily hair in a wondrous manner: though it be plentiful (if patchy) enow, each follicle individually hath been reduced to the length of a Midgardian gnat's phallus and I knoweth not if it might e'er return to its once-remarkable length. (The lone exceptions being the hair above mine knuckles, 'though why I knoweth not.) The helmet, a reproduction of mine original helmet in charming and dainty miniature and with an intriguing "widow's peak" added, be too tight for mine sensitive cranium, and the aches I suffer be more terrible than the teeth of accursed Fenris. (It may interest thee in addition to know that the helmet's very design hath a strange property of instilling mirth in all that view it -- e'en Hogun the Grim made merry, with a laugh so much akin to a horse's whinney that the Prince of Asgard was sorely discomfitted, with no choice other than to yank up his jerkin and make sport of his third nipple.)

Ne'er wouldst I knowingly bring dishonor 'pon mine father nor 'pon mineself, yet in good conscience must the Odinson return to thee this handsome armor, which be too grand e'en for a god.

In all respects,
Your humble servant,
The Mighty Thor

P.S. The kneepads shall I send thee in a fortnight. They presently reside somewhere on the snow-capped peakes of Jotunheim, as the younglings of Asgard hath mistaken them for toboggans.

[A special Blockade Boy thanks to SpiritGlyph for sending me the scans, and a hearty Blockade Boy apology for sitting on them for nearly two months until I could devise a post I thought would do them justice. Tomorrow: the essence of 90's fug, a.k.a. "The Godpack."]