Friday, August 25, 2006



How do you know your supervillain costume is over-the-top?

When even your midget henchman is laughing at you. (Why do you think Doctor Doom prefers to employ robots?)

The tool in the metal underpants is named Kogar (from "Master of Kung Fu" #68, September 1978). Kogar has his own army and his own city and he doubtless fancies himself master of all he surveys. But he dresses more like a "Masters of the Universe" action figure. That goofy prosthesis even has different interchangeable bits he sticks on the end. I wonder if it has an electric toothbrush attachment. That'd be kinda cool.

Let's break this shit down into its component parts:
  1. Eyepatch, which only partially conceals a long, curving scar with clumsy Frankensteinian stitching. Feh. I would have at least gone with a Phantom Of The Opera mask. Or if I had Kogar's ugly mug? A cloth sack thingie with one eyehole -- the Elephant Man made that thing rock.
  2. Off-the-shoulder Captain Marvel cape. How very Viennese operetta of him. Hell, why not go with a lovely knitted shawl, or a gauzy chiffon wrap, or a stylish mink stole? Seriously, I would have just scrapped the damn thing entirely. Kogar's got a great body (aside from the head part... and the "missing one hand" part) so he might as well show it off.
  3. Big honkin' orange harness with conspicuous rivets. What's the point of this? Is he going to pull a locomotive on ESPN2?
  4. Segmented crotch armor. Look, Kogar, if you want your midget henchman to stop punching you in the nads, all you have to do is ask.
  5. Clunky toy-like prosthesis. I know it has James Bond appeal, since it's motorized and you have a drill-bit attachment which you can hold against the temples of brawny, handlebar-moustachioed sailors, forcing two martial artists to fight to the death. But honestly... how practical can it be? All that machinery is resting against a busted stump of an arm. Isn't it kind of sensitive? How much force can you really apply with it? My guess is "not very much before you start wincing and screaming for Mommy."
  6. The boots are unremarkable. But at least they match, Gareth.

And of course, there's the little matter of his hair. Let's take a gander at it from the back, shall we?


Hairstyle by Krispy Kreme! Say, what if it really is a donut? That damn midget henchman! Can't you just see Kogar stomping around at the daily Motivational Morning Meeting Of Evil, demanding to know who took the last chocolate-covered donut, and meanwhile the other henchpersons are laughing their asses off because Sklar the wiley midget henchman had just stuck it to the back of Kogar's bald pate?

About Sklar: okay, so he's not really a midget. But he is rather petite. And in this issue he has an inexplicably prolonged giggle fit, which only ends when a brawny, handlebar-moustachioed sailor nails him in the face with a beer bottle. Ouch. Nice hat, though.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shoot-Out At The "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt" Corral

In "DC Challenge" #2 (December, 1985) Jonah Hex discovers three would-be bankrobbers trying to make off with a mysterious slab of rock. He stops them -- by shooting them stone-cold dead, natch. Oh, relax. They'd drawn their guns and it was Ye Olde Weste so that makes it completely acceptable on a moral level. Thinking the rock to be valuable, Hex tucks it in his shirt. That turns out to be a mistake. Let's go to the expositoritastic word balloons for the play-by-play! Jonah, in your own words, tell yourself what's happening.

"This chunk'a rock they wuz stealin' -- alluvasudden, it's glowin! An' it's got some kind'a writin' carved all over it -- lahk one'a them museum pieces--! Think mebbe ah'll jest hold on tuh this fer a while -- till ah can find out who owns it--! Might be an extra ree-ward in it fer me if'n ah-- ah -- ah ain't feelin' so good--! Startin' tuh get cold-- dizzy--!"

Really, couldn't all that wordy mess have been conveyed in thought bubbles or in caption boxes? Okay, scratch the caption boxes. When they're busy vomiting bombastic, hackneyed dreck like "Welcome to your nightmare!" they're obviously not up to the task.

So, we have a western character soliliquizing, but it sure doesn't sound like David Milch. But it does sound like Len "Remember how much you enjoyed Swamp Thing?" Wein! Wein is at his Weiniest in this comic: overbaked prose, "humor" that never rises above the level of a "Three's Company" episode and an overall cloying, elbow-jabbing, infuriatingly smug tone. So it's like Peter David, only stupider. Much, much stupider.

But of course, you come here for the fashion talk. My reservations about Wein's writing aside, I have to agree with him that the year 1985 is indeed a nightmare for time travellers. It was a time of Quantum Fashion, in which the old rules no longer applied. Women's necklines plunged, but only over one of their shoulders. Vast herds of mullets roamed the earth. Fluorescent pink was the new black. Everything was way too baggy -- except, for some reason, at the ankles. And you couldn't even get into a fancy restaurant unless you were moussed, gelled, or scrunchied to within an inch of your life. Those were dark days. So you know how I feel about 1985. And the caption box just told you how Jonah Hex feels about 1985.

But how does 1985 feel about Jonah Hex?


Christ, another Vibe wannabe? America was simply crawling with those guys in 1985. Worse than the pseudo-Madonna girls. Oh, and "nice threads?" He's a gun-toting redneck running stark-screaming bonkers through New York while dressed in a Confederate Army uniform. Sure, Len Wein, who wouldn't love that?

"That horse -- mah only chance --!"

Oh, Jonah--! Sodomizing a horse won't help you forget your troubles! Believe me. And anyway, if that perspective is to be believed, the animal is about twenty-five feet long and it's guarded by a seventeen-foot tall policeman. I know you're the baddest hombre in Ye Olde Weste but I have the feeling those two could seriously eff you up.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

MacGyver, He's Not

Dirt in his hair? Ah, he's disguised himself as Jude Law.

Accidentally sent to the future by Superman's backwash (of air! What were you thinking?) Jimmy finds himself a hated fugitive thanks to a historical misunderstanding. ("The Boy Who Killed Superman," the above panels scanned from the reprint in "Jimmy Olsen" #113, August-September 1968.) Jimmy's complete disguise consists of the aforementioned dirty hair, a referee's uniform, hotpants (but of course), bright blue boots (not shown) and a Members Only jacket. My mind is boggling right now, trying to imagine the previous owner's lifestyle.

Unluckily for our Jimmy, he's captured in the very next panel by a "human magnet... tuned to killer Olsen's personal wave-length!" I guess he needed more dirt. But then he manages to escape and has a series of wacky misadventures until he's finally caught "for reals" this time and placed in a line-up with three other hotpants-wearing gentlemen -- some of whom don't really have the figures for hotpants. I'm specifically referring to you, circus strongman-looking guy on the far left. Jimmy's fingered by Brainiac (ew) -- no, not that one, just a generic thinking machine -- and the future folk punish him by sending him back to his own time. Phht. I think cyanide tablets would have been far more effective.

On a more personal note, I wouldn't say this to just anyone... but I like to think of myself as a "human magnet." And I'm tuned to your personal wave-length. *cue mellow jazz music as the lights in your room dim romantically*

I'm A Bad, Bad Man

Because I'm late again! I was waylaid by one of your primitive 21st century sinus infections. Honestly, I don't know how you people can even bring yourselves to get out of bed in the morning. In my day, your planet has signed a peace treaty with all viruses, bacteria, mold spores and pollen: they were given their own country (The Post-Nasalia And Drippe Republics, formerly Switzerland) in exchange for their not killing all that many people every year. Of course, that was before Infectious Lass, a.k.a. "Patient Zero" showed up. But I digress. I'll make up for my lax behavior by posting again later on today. Then I'll be all caught up! We'll start with these two knobs from "Star-Lord: The Special Edition" #1 (Marvel, February, 1982).


Three days earlier, in the "Banana Quadrant" clothing store on the fourth moon of Phobos 19...
Gareth (scrutinizing himself in the three-way mirror): ...I'm not sure.

Clerk: Oh, trust me, the asymmetrical look is totally hot this year. And see? (zips left boot up so it looks the same as the right boot) With our patented "freebooter," you can switch from "pirate" to "privateer" in one easy movement. Two looks in one! But most men prefer to go both ways, if you know what I mean.

Rruothk'ar (glancing up from his USA Today): He does.

Clerk: I just adore them. I have two pair of these at home!

Gareth: Oh, you mean like one in each color?

Clerk (mystified): No.

Gareth: Huh. Well, I still don't know if this is me.

Clerk: That's because you haven't seen it with the sash yet! (hurriedly wraps a swath of fabric around Gareth's waist)

Gareth: A sash--! I'm sorry, but that's completely impractical. Where would I put my rapier?

Clerk: It goes on the sash, silly! We sell the spaghetti-strap rapier sheath accessory for only five credits more! They're so great. I have four of them at home!

Gareth: Oh, you're into fencing?

Clerk (uncomprehending): Why would you say that?

Gareth (looks back at his companion): Rruothk'ar, honey? What do you think?

Rruothk'ar (not looking up): Leave me out of it.

Gareth (scoffs): This is partly for your benefit, you know. Don't you want me to look sexy?

Rruothk'ar: All I care about is how fast I can get all that mess off of you. And to be honest, we appear to be nearing my libido's cut-off point.

Clerk: It's really very easy to remove! Check out the blouse. Don't you just love the sleeves? You can shimmy it off in five seconds flat! I think they're great. Why, I have twelve of these at home!

Gareth: But... it only comes in three colors.

Clerk (baffled): And your point is...?

(Gareth and the clerk stare blankly at each other for a full minute.)

Clerk: Okay, never mind all that. You have to see it with the cape.

Rruothk'ar: Jesus. A cape, too? Why don't we just nail you into a crate and send you off to Planet Not Gettin' Any?

Clerk (bustling): Ignore him. (drapes the high-collared cloak over Gareth's shoulders)

Gareth: Oh my! (turns too and fro, admiring himself) Woo! Check me out! I totally have a "Dr. Strange" thing going on.

Rruothk'ar: And you don't mind that it makes the entire upper right quarter of your body look like a melted candle?

Gareth (to Clerk): He always gets cranky when it's Molting Season.

Rruothk'ar (peeling a long section of skin from his neck): That's a damn lie!

Clerk: Did I mention the cloak is on sale? Ten for the price of one!

Gareth (to himself): At last, the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

Clerk: Pardon me?

Gareth: Nothing. (turns to Rruothk'ar) Please, honey? For your snugglebear? (his fingers play along the ridges on Rruothk'ar's snout)

Rruothk'ar: Aw, Christ. You guys take Visa?

Or at least, that's what I figure happened. Whaddaya say, Gareth? Did I guess right?


Yeah, that's what I thought.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Some People--!


Me: Spider-Man of 1986, if you had a nightclub act about your black costume, how would it go?

[in the distance, a piano vamp begins -- softly at first, but steadily growing louder]

Spider-Man: Well, y'see, I'd pretend I was home getting dressed for patrol. I'd take some mousse and mousse my hair. I'd take some web fluid, smell it, and put it in my web shooters. And then I'd spot the audience!

[a full orchestra kicks in as he sings, to the tune of "All I Need Is The Girl" from "Gypsy"]

Once, my look was garish.
That shit? Fanboys* cherish.
Reds so bright they glow,
Blues that shock you more than Electro.

So I had to update,
Maybe yellow -- but wait!
Spider-Woman 2
Has class up the wazoo.

Goodbye red!
So long blue!
Black and white's the thing to do!

Now I'm stylin'.
Chicks are smilin'.
I'm a 5'10 dream-come-true!
And the Black Cat
Says I'm "all that."
Sure, the first try turned out to be a symbiote;
That's been my luck since I was a zygote.

What I used next.
If you ask me, it's a beaut!
And fanboys*

Often lack basic hygiene, style and poise

Which makes all of their insults moot.
All I really need's my black suit!

This isn't a popular opinion, I know, but I really hate Spider-Man's red-and-blue suit. It's just too busy. All those webs? It's an ugly mess. That's why I prefer his old black-and-white number from the pre-Venom 80's. It has the most important costume elements of the original -- Mexican wrestling mask eyeballs and the spider logo -- and scraps all the extraneous detail. (Why the hell would a spider have webs on its own body? That'd be like Hawkman covering his costume with little nests.) And the bright colors didn't help support a recurring plot-point in the book: that many New Yorkers describe Spider-Man as "creepy" or "inhuman-looking." Really? The muscular wisecracking guy in the bright red-and-blue costume is "creepy?" (I hope the Silver Age Atom isn't reading this; he's already feeling bad enough about himself.) Whatever, people. At least the black-and-white suit looks a bit more grown-up and intimidating. (Cue up clip of Spider-Man emerging from behind a changing screen, wearing his black-and-white number for the first time, mask in hand, and catching his reflection in a full-length mirror. His lips curl in a tentative smile, and then joyful tears begin to stream down his face. "I'm handsome--!" he gasps. "I'm a handsome superhero, Marvel...!")

By the time "Web Of Spider-Man" #17 (August, 1986) appeared in stores, Spider-Man had gotten rid of the alien symbiote and had taken to alteranating between a fabric reproduction of the alien suit and his hideous old duds. I'd hoped he'd finally decide to stick with the black-and-whites. But then David Michelinie put an end to the costume controversy with the "nuclear option" of plotlines: creating a supervillain who wore the alien version of the costume, and then having him assault Mary Jane. So much for Peter Parker ever wearing black again, huh? (Jeebus. It's like a candidate in a Presidential debate using a shotgun on his opponent.)

Of course, the Spider-Man franchise has had myriad problems since the late 80's *coughCloneSagacough* so an ugly (yet inexplicably popular) costume really is small potatoes when compared to all the rest of it. Still, I really miss that costume.

*Not you guys! You guys are great!