Monday, May 07, 2007

Rescue Me: Red Skull III

I know assassinations of characters who have appeared in "Captain America" are all the rage nowadays (your time) but I believe my current subject was the first. And unlike a certain chemically-enhanced blonde muscleboy freak I could name, Red Skull III managed to get unexpectedly assassinated without a lot of soft news stories or needless tie-in books. It wasn't one of those queeny, hand-fluttering, melodramatic "oh, look at me!" type of assassinations.

Red Skull III was just one of dozens of second-tier -- oh, alright, make that fifth- or eighth-tier villains who got themselves whacked by Scourge in the 1980's. I've argued before that these deaths were needless, that all these poor bad guys needed were better writers and better costumes, but I can (sort of) understand the reasoning behind whacking Red Skull III. He was a duplicate of a more famous and iconic villain: Red Skull II! Or Red Skull I, if you want to be an annoying entitled retcon-happy fanboy doofus. (Have I mentioned that I didn't really die in "Adventure Comics" #345? ...Oh, I have? Er... um...oh.) See, Red Skull I, the first one to appear in print, was an American businessman. The second and more famous Red Skull was a Nazi, and he was such a smash that it got decided later on that he was actually the first one and that businessman Red Skull was just an employee of Nazi Red skull. Phht! Whatever. The third Red Skull (or second, according to the aforementioned retcon-happy fanboy doofuses) was a Communist phoney (like Michael Moore!) and wound up in the interesting position of fighting one of the fake Captain Americas. Two fakes battling each other... sounds like your typical Presidential debate! Er, anyway, I don't see the problem with having two coexisting villains with the same name. Maybe that's 'cause I'm from the DC Universe, where we have two heroes with the same name all the time. Like the Tornado Twins! Okay, so maybe that's not a great example.

But here's my theory: Red Skull III was already a little different from Red Skull II by dint of political affiliation. All they had to do was give him a different visual theme. And maybe use the Russian version of his code name, whatever that is. Unless it sounds stupid, in which case never mind. So here's how I'd have gussied up Red Skull III:


It's Sci-Fi, see? Sweet! The "skull" part is a gas mask, patterned after this Soviet-era model. To rationalize the gas mask, I figure the Commie Skull's modus operandi could be one of the Nazi Red Skull's tricks: hit folks with a face-deforming gas and Red Skullerize 'em. Which he admittedly ripped off from the Joker, but hey! It's a good theme. I initially was just going to pair the gas mask with a Soviet military uniform, but that didn't differentiate him enough from the Nazi Red Skull. But I really liked the combo of the gas mask and the hat -- so much so, in fact, that I was tempted to keep the hat when I changed the outfit to a body suit. But of course, that would have caused the whole ensemble to veer into S&M Territory (a bleak, rubbery wilderness occupying much of what you folks currently call "Massachusetts").

The suit has a big honkin' Soviet star on the front, surrounded by a ribcage design. So it's like the star is his heart... if he'd gotten in a car wreck and the impact had forced it from the left side of his chest to the center of it. Again, bad example.

Style-wise, I tried to emulate Soviet posters, with their simplistic forms, solid blocks of color and charcoal shading.

Next week? Rescue Me: Black Abbott! And the first thing I'm doing is getting rid of the extraneous "t".

Previous "Rescue Me" challenges: