Friday, November 17, 2006

The Hollow Supermen

bbhead100906 In "Secret Origins" #46 (December, 1989) the Justice League's costumes are appropriated by invisible aliens.


This is during the post-Crisis, pre-Infinite Crisis era when Black Canary had taken Wonder Woman's place on the team's founding roster, by the way. Thank God that miscarriage of justice has been rectified, huh? Kidding. I actually don't give a rat's ass! Psyche! Although I did like the notion of the League being started entirely by second-stringers, and Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman (a.k.a. the Cool Table) only bothering to join after the team had garnered some name recognition. It was a little more like real life. Ah, well.


The team rounds up the renegade costumes in one of Green Lantern's force bubbles, although if you ask me a couple of drycleaning bags would have worked just as well. And thankfully, the League members all have duplicate costumes to wear. Except for Aquaman. "This was the best I could manage," he sheepishly explains. He'll use the same excuse during his One Big Metal Shoulderpad phase. Although if you ask me, he looks better in just the trunks! (And I'm apparently not the only one thinking that; check out Barry's line of sight in that panel.) And I'm having a little trouble believing that Black Canary has duplicate wigs just laying around her house. Who is she, Eva Gabor?

As it turns out, the aliens are benevolent (but of course, since this is a Grant Morrison story, and I'm sure if he could have shoehorned in the American Military-Industrial Complex as the actual villain I'm sure he would have) and at the end everyone learns a nice lesson about not jumping to conclusions, and the League would never have another battle based on a misunderstanding ever, ever again. (What?! Why are you looking at me like that?) But the main thing I learned is that some of those costumes are more interesting than the heroes wearing them! Here's my personal tally:

  • Martian Manhunter: wildly uneven characterization ranging from boring standard superhero to boring J.M. DeMatteis hippie pacifist to boring Kelsey Grammar rip-off in the Bwah-Ha-Ha League to boring angst-ridden nearly-omnipotent Mopee stand-in in the Ostrander series to his currently boring 10-years-too-late badass personality. His costume: regulation superhero trunks 'n' boots, plus a red X-shaped harness, a cape with a high stiff collar, and a belt buckle shaped like a delicious French pastry. Advantage: costume.
  • Black Canary: flower-sellin' gal with a butch brunette haircut who whores it up with a sexpot costume and her loudmouth Commie boyfriend. But she does know karate and she drives a chopper. Her costume: bustier with built-in panties, fishnets, high-heeled boots, teeny toreador jacket, velvet choker, and a gorgeous blonde wig (or two, apparently). Advantage: this is a tough one, but I'm going to have to give it to the costume, mainly because it's never blown Green Arrow.
  • The Barry Allen Flash: are you kidding me? Advantage: costume. That said, I wish it had died with Barry. And no, changing up the lightning-belt doesn't count.
  • Green Lantern: Jerky commitment-phobe racist murderer with a thing for teenage girls. His costume: for a while, it was the standard in super-garb. Classic lines, especially once the green part extended over the shoulders. Plus the chest logo is graphically clean and easy to comprehend. Advantage: in an upset, Green Lantern. I mean, sure, he's a terrible human being. But you must admit that he is interesting!
  • Aquaman: again, a victim of inconsistent characterization but the prevailing one seems to be "standoffish monarch" which is way too Sub-Mariner for my tastes. His costume: shirt handcrafted from the skins of a thousand goldfish, trunkless green tights with built-in calf-fins, matching green gloves, and a logo-themed belt buckle. Advantage: aw, how can I say "no" to those broad shoulders? The costume, of course! I've based my entire design career around its neckline! How could I let it down now, in its time of need?

Your turn! Are there any other heroes out there with costumes that are more engaging than they are? Or vice-versa? Tell me about them!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Sith Sense

After I posted my kicky uniform design for for Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator, fellow commenter Darth Nepharia asked me to concoct a costume for her. Since she's a Sith Lady I didn't really feel like I could say no. (Plus she's just super-nice.)


Nepharia sent me a ton of links to other Star Wars character designs, and for additional inspiration I went to one of Jeremy's books on Japanese folklore. A print showing a fox-demoness reclining on a stylized thundercloud gave me the idea to do a fox-themed facial tattoo, and I stole the cloud pattern wholesale for the fabric. The kimono-like elements are a nod to the Japanese styling in the films, and of course I gave the ensemble a lot of black leather and a high collar to echo the near-sadomasochistic severity seen in a lot of Sith costumes. The combination of white skin and long red hair are reminiscent of Kabuki plays and anime, to further my Japanese theme.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Prankly Speaking

bbhead100906 Because I'm a fun, light-hearted sort (concealing a black little heart just boiling over with hate and resentment) I thought it would be a hoot to prank-call one of my many arch-enemies, Captain America. To catch him at the height of his squareness, I set the wayback machine time bubble for 1968.


Using the kind of inside knowledge only a time-traveler can obtain, I conviced the big dope I was his long-lost partner, Bucky Barnes, all growed-up and living "underground" in a deep-undercover mission amongst anarchist hippies. I told him I'd never fogotten our days in World War 2 Europe, and especially the "training sessions" he'd treated me to in our personal tent after the rest of the troops had dozed off. I got some entertainingly filthy sex-talk out of the old war-horse, which I recorded for use in a later prank on Iron Man. I was just about to let Cap in on the joke when this happened:


( I should probably take a moment to explain that he'd gotten the notion I was a cocaine addict.) At this point I had two options:
  1. Prank him by having him go to a false address with nobody there.
  2. Prank him by having him go to a false address with me there in disguise and we'd have punch-throwing, kick-boxing, bombastic super-soldier-serum-powered sex (therefore living out a secret fantasy of thousands of Marvel fanboys).

Naturally I chose the latter. I mean, I can't stand the guy on a personal level but hey! It's Captain Freakin' America!


So I gave him the address of a cheap hotel, the kind where they keep old dressers in the hallways and where everything on the room service trays is composed of jade. Now if you'll recall, the only other time Cap saw me I was in my sweet-ass goatee-and-muttonchops phase, plus it was dyed bright red. Right now I've got my killer biker 'stache (in my naturally handsome chestnut brown) and my psychodelic goggles, so those would help me look the part of an anarchist hippie. Still, it wouldn't be enough. So I dug into my "quick-disguise kit" (which I carry on my person at all times) for something else that would support my flimsy ruse. I donned a long blonde wig and some love beads, unbuttoned my paisley shirt another couple of inches, and I was ready to go.

A gentleman never kisses and tells, so they say, but I will admit that the sex was mind-blowing. (Although I never would have guessed he was a bottom.) It lasted a solid five hours, destroying much of the hotel room in the process, and leaving me with some deep bruising which still hasn't healed. And to think he gave a stirring filibuster on tolerance the whole time! Finally we just lay there, and Cap told me "I've missed this, old chum. You always were the best!" I figured that was a good cue for me to reveal myself, so I started to take off my blonde wig, when suddenly Cap chuckled, "Boy-oh-boy, I'm hungry enough to eat the nuts off a Nazi! What say we have dinner at that little Italian place down the street?" And then I got the idea for the perfect way to end my prank.

As Cap wolfed down his lasagne, I casually mentioned that I had access to secret government time-travel technology. "Like Doctor Doom's time platform?" Cap asked. With some annoyance I answered, "Yeah, only it's like, a billion times better, so there's really no comparison! Gah!" And then I let drop the fact that in the year 2006, same-sex marriage is legal in many parts of the world.

And then he proposed to me.


And then I yanked off the wig and said "Because I'm not Bucky, you idiot! I'm actually the guy you told to shave off his sweet-ass facial hair back in '44! Also? I've had better. Who looks ridiculous now, Cappy? Who looks ridiculous now?! SUCK IT! AGAIN!" And then I flipped him the double space-bird. And, um, then he punched me square in the kisser, dislodging four teeth and shattering my super-cool goggles.

But it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cat Yack Fever

headshotjeremy On Sunday morning, one of my cats vomited into my cable box (through the ventilation holes) so I missed seeing the Chiefs lose to the Dolphins. And now Tony Gonzalez is sidelined? With the number of injuries the Chiefs have sustained, I'm starting to wonder if the NFL commissioner is actually Dan Didio. (Next week: Anttaj Hawthorne-Prime punches Damon Huard's head off!) Monday afternoon I waited in line with a bunch of check-bouncing losers down at the cable company so I could exchange my vomitty old cable box for a not-so-hurled-upon new one. The swap went smoothly and I was able to catch Monday night's "popamatic" Buccaneers/Panthers match-up. (I'm thinking some prankster filled the ball with Mexican jumping beans. It had a mind of its own!)

  • Tony Kornheiser's combover is revolting on a quantum level and the sheer ridiculousness of it makes me angrier by the week. At this rate, by the time the Superbowl rolls around, the merest glimpse of it will transform me into a Hulk-like creature.
  • Astroturf now comes in plaid, and Michelle Tafoya is wearing it.
  • In the stands: a freaky Panthers fan in something approximating a sky-blue wizard costume (assuming the wizard is named Don King) and... an angrily thin blonde Lady Of A Certain Age. Ann Coulter? Or just an upended rag mop with some bite marks on the handle? Also, there were enough freaky panther-people in the stands I started to wonder if I'd accidentally tuned into the premiere of a new Andrew Lloyd Weber musical on Bravo. And speaking of musicals...
  • 1st quarter: a lost football results in a bizarre "standing pile" (I just made that term up. You're welcome.) where a bunch of players from both teams form a perfect circle shape that looks like the beginning of a Busby Berkley routine. All it needed was Ruby Keeler rising from the center of it on atop a giant football.
  • Near end of 1st half: Ronde Barber's interception is followed by a "group demonstration" penalty because maybe three or four guys half-heartedly rocked their elbows back and forth.
  • 2nd quarter: Kornheiser pronounces the word "dispirited" as "de-spurted" which makes me think of depleted ball sacks or, similarly, Kornheiser's head. Effing Kornheiser...!
  • In last four minutes of 4th: Carolina's Steve Smith makes a decisive touchdown, helping the Panthers to win the game, 24-10. Not bad considering he'd been puking with frightening regularity on the sidelines for most of the night. Bulimic wide receivers... tomorrow on Springer! (Just stay away from my cable box, Smith.)

This weekend I rented "Doppelganger" because it was directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who'd directed one of my favorite horror films of all time, the original "Pulse." Not to be confused with last summer's crappy Kristen Bell version. (That's right; she both wrote and directed it. No-talent hack! Kidding. You know what I mean.) "Doppelganger" was marketed as a horror film, right down to the DVD menus, but it's really not. It's just kind of goofy and boring, instead. The premise is good -- a driven but introverted man's life is invaded by his duplicate, who acts upon impulses the original would never dare to. There's a scene where the main character watches hunkered down in his car as the double suddenly grabs the arm of a woman who had a crush on him, and drags her off for God knows what. Not much else in the film has that level of suspense or horror. In the final act, the film transforms into basically a screwball comedy with gunplay and beatings, which isn't nearly as entertaining as it sounds. Needless to say, I felt ripped-off. However, I strongly recommend renting "Pulse" a.k.a. "Kairo" if you get the chance.

Also this weekend, I went to a company function at a bowling alley and got roped into entering a karaoke contest. (I think I had a decent shot, but I was outsung by two squeaky belters who were like the pre-makeover Clay Aiken. Kudos, Poindexters!) My repertoire included "Brick House," "Bad To The Bone," "Losing My Religion" and "Love Potion Number Nine." Like Ralph Wiggum, I was a pop sensation! Also, some unidentified person signed me and some other guys up to sing "American Pie" without asking us, and the only part of the song any of us knew was the chorus. And that's one long-ass number! We were trapped in front of that microphone for what felt like an hour with our eyes glued to the lyrics scrolling up on the monitor and trying to remember how the goddamn melody even went. ("Mmmn, um, mmph, uh, la la laaa la mmph mm AND THEY WERE SINGIN'! BYE BYE MISS AMERICAN PIE! (ten seconds later) THIS'LL BE THE DAY THAT I DIE-YI-YIII! Hmmm, mmmph, um, la la la...") Hear me now: If I ever find out who did this to me I will stone-cold murder their ass.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Nude Fight!

bbhead100906 I don't consider myself to be a petty individual, but I mightily enjoyed the subtle bitch-slapping the Wasp received in "Micronauts" #42 (June, 1982).


The set-up: Doctor Nemesis (Who? Precisely.) trains his super-shrink-ray on the Wasp's person but only manages to zap her dress into some microscopic nether region. Using her power to dwindle down to Mischa Barton-size wasp-size, she realizes that underneath the dress she wasn't wearing a costume. Or a bra. Or panties. (Oh, God, I just realized -- the Wasp is the Marvel Universe version of Tara Reid!) And to top it off, she has to deal with the stuttering, verdant horniness of alien insect-man, Bug. Who isn't nearly as creepy as this Bug. But still. I assume he's really into plastic surgery scars.


*SPROING!* Immediately after using her vast knowledge of alien erogenous zones to give Bug an instant hard-on, the Wasp takes off, smiling cruelly (panel not found, but trust me on this one). And she's wearing a cocktail napkin. Glorious. You know what might have made this even better? If it had been one of those novelty cocktail napkins with the dirty jokes on them. Ah, well. *sighs wistfully* And might I ask how she managed to get that ragged piece of paper to stick to her bulimic body? Is her perspiration wildly out-of-control, like Whitney Houston's? Is the spray-on tan not dry yet? Or did some wads of spit-out quiche inside the napkin act as a makeshift adhesive?

And now for the capper:


"One costume's as good as the next!" That's exactly right, honey, because they all suck. I also like how she realizes she's "put on a pound somewhere" and the very next panel is centered squarely on her ass. Thank you, Gil Kane!