Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bonus Post: The Fortress of Mirth

And now, for no good goddamn reason at all, an expansion on a scene from the Gravity Girl story, written in the style of Edith Wharton:

s183erthanksAs Kent stepped out of the basket he saw Chief Parker, tall and re-splendent, leading the troubled Hank Handley away in hand-cuffs; and heard Handley say, as he beamed on the law-man with his large painted smile: "But I've often reflected that on another world you should be a criminal yourself, or some manner of ape, or even a woman--." Behind them, waiting his turn to inspect the now-earthbound balloon, Kent noticed Willaby Fenton, the youthful voyeur whom he had once discovered behind a crape myrtle at Professor Phineas Potter's. As Mrs. Lang remarked: Fenton carried between his freckled temples and under his rude shock of chestnut-brown hair, a register of most of the scandals and mysteries that had smouldered under the unruffled surface of Smallville Society within the last eleven years. When he chose to, he could wield this knowledge with a surgeon's skill, excising whom-ever he wished from Smallville's good graces. The wonder was that he chose so seldom.

Kent felt a touch on his arm and saw Miss Lana Lang looking side-ways at him from the pure eminence of yellow cotton and a black velvet hair-ribbon. "It was good of you, dear Clark, to take my place in the basket while I attended to my books. I told Gravity Girl she must really come to your rescue."

He was aware of smiling at her vaguely, and she added, as if condescending to his natural chauvinism: "I've never seen you looking manlier. Pete Ross thinks you the handsomest boy in the town."

He was silent, and they walked on a few yards without exchanging a word. Finally he said: "I shan't begrudge Gravity Girl my admiration for her promptness -- and yet I confess I had rather hoped to see Superboy in her place; one can always be assured that Superboy will set matters a-right, while Gravity Girl's efficacy remains yet to be proven. Indeed, I shudder to think what weaknesses she might conceal -- and I daresay it's a mistake for Gravity Girl to be flitting over the town square in her abbreviated skirt, at the crowded hour."

Miss Lang's face looked pale and apprehensive, and Kent feared her rejoinder might disagree with his own fine opinion. But she said nothing.

They passed the rest of their stroll without further conversation.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Vanishing


Nobody cares, you two! Although I'm sure if this took place in your selfish era, Lana would be the first Smallvillian with a Twitter account. (SnoopSistah Excused self to get a drink of water. less than 10 seconds ago from mobile web)

And if this was a Cary Bates story? Superboy would somehow construct a giant hemorrhoidal pad. Maybe using a bunch of cotton t-shirts and a tanker truck of witch hazel.

I'm just sayin'.

One charming aspect of this story is in the rare moments in which Superboy and Gravity Girl are depicted as equals, doing the same thing at the same time. Besides this panel, there's also the splash page, which depicts both Clark and Lana "disrobing for action" (stop snickering) on either side of a brick wall... much like the classic "Flash of Two Worlds" story which appeared the same year. But the ultimate point of this story is that Gravity Girl is far inferior to Superboy and should just stay at home and make him a goddamn cheeseburger (or sumpin' like that). So these nicer moments are pretty rare.

Beware of Log


And thus begins the slow, painful end of Lana's superhero career. You're right, Superboy, she'd better be careful! If word of this gets out, criminals might start hoarding Lincoln Logs to chuck at her. Or worse yet, her arch-enemy could end up being the Floronic Man!

Gravity Girl Vulnerability Checklist:
1. Wood. Just like the Golden Age Green Lantern!

Thanks, But I'd Rather Plummet To My Doom


But nobody knows that you're Superboy, Clark! And don't you want people to think Clark Kent is a pathetic screw-up anyway? I think you can handle a pretend social emasculation.

What really impresses me here is how Lana can tow the balloon downwards from one side without causing the basket to tip over and dump Clark out on his ass. (Tactile telekinesis? You decide!) And from the begrudging tone of his thank-you, I bet she really wants to.

Some Days You Ride the Balloon, and Some Days the Balloon Rides You


And the rest of Smallville's population just... watches. Smallvillians are great at that. Staring, gawking, gaping, peering, pointing... they've turned it into an artform! And this is before NASCAR hit it big, so a probable ballooning death has terrific appeal to these people. Will they ever be moved to action? Maybe. Eventually. Still, it's only that weak bookworm Clark Kent in the basket. Losing him won't have an effect on the Smallville High football program this year! He's not even on the team! Hell, he's not even towel boy! Nope, the general consensus in Smallville is that the town will do just fine without him. It'll be better, even. You know what? Maybe it's God's work. Yes, it's best to just do nothing.

Except watch.

Oh, Snapp


Thanks for the newsflash, kooky! This is a classic case of Exposition Gone Wild, in which someone describes aloud something that both is clearly depicted visually in the same panel and was predicted to happen in the previous panel. Still, it's not as unnecessarily wordy as, say, a story by Chris Claremont or Brian Michael Bendis or Kevin Smith... aaagh. I think gave myself indigestion just thinking about those guys.

And I wouldn't fret over Clark if I were you. Putting aside the fact he's Superboy, Clark is used to things going wrong during impromptu basket inspections. (Just ask Pete Ross!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The First Stage is Denial


"It'll take me a good three hours, at least, to pick up all these books! Tell Mom and Dad I'll be late for supper! If I ever make it back home at all! Y'know what, you'd better just arrange for someone to bring me a tent, a sleeping bag, a Coleman lantern, some non-perishable food items, potable water, a roll of toilet paper, a citronella candle, my winter coat and a Melville novel because there's no telling when I'll finally be done picking up all these books!"

Face it, Lana... those books are a lost cause. It's best to just move on.

(As if she's ever read a book in her life--!)

Give Me Balloon Inspection Or Give Me Death


Careful with the patter, Swifty! You're liable to start a riot! Y'see, if there's anything I learned from all the time I spent in 21st Century Wichita, Kansas (a.k.a. The Hand-Painted Anti-Abortion Roadsign Capital of the World) it's that Midwesterners love anything that's free! (Except access to abortion.) Take a look at how the prospect of a free balloon inspection affected that guy in the brown suit. From his posture, I'm pretty sure he just crapped his pants. (And yet his enthusiasm remains undimmed.)

CSI: Hot Air Balloon


Y'know, just the other day Tusker showed up for breakfast wearing a t-shirt that said "Balloon Inspector." Then he "accidentally" put his hands on Rainbow Girl's chest. She hit his dingus with an enervating ray. The hapless dope still hasn't recovered from it. He's mopier than ever! I told him, "If you're going to waste so much time dwelling on your own impotence, why don't you at least do something useful with it and write some emo-rock music?" Then I gave him an ocarina and sent him on his way.

Oh, and that guy up there in the clown suit, with the bad spray-on tan? He's not a (state) county (city) fair employee. That's just Hank. All the Smallvillians know him. Hank walks around town in that costume all day, every day! The local folks don't mind none. Y'see, Hank is a genny-wine war hero but when he came back home sumpin' weren't right in his head. But he's harmless. Mostly.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I Hereby Order You To Love a Parade

Happy Independence Day, 21st Century American readers of this blog! But to the rest of us, it's just another Wednesday. Which to the crew of the H.M.S. Exquisite means just one thing: my Weekly Mandatory Parade! We Amadans, we know how to RAWK a parade! My favorite is the one my planet holds every week to commemorate its liberation from the Waxing Tyrants of Depilatory Seven. Picture, if you will, the Amadus Shirtless Hairy Bearded Men's Bass Drum and Electric Guitar Corps (three hundred strong!) marching proudly through the labyrinthine streets of our capital and blasting away at our favorite military anthem, Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" -- which you may know better by its chorus ("Now you're messin' with a son of a bitch"). Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye. It also produces some other secretions but we shan't talk about that now. When I was a mere Blockade Tot the noise of it scared the bejeebus out of me, and as a Blockade Tween I would scoff and jeer at how the adults would get all worked up whenever the parade passed through town. That was before my terrifying ordeal in the Super-Stalag of Space!


I have a profound appreciation for the concept of liberty nowadays! So to honor the brave souls who perished in order that Amadus might preserve its way of life, I like to gather the crew and hold a little parade of my own!


As I mentioned before, I have Weight Wizard play a side drum, and I have a side drum of my own, only bigger (of course) and Rainbow Girl expertly plays her fife (which Weight Wizard is not allowed to touch after what we found him doing to the last fife). We play "Hair of the Dog", naturally, and some other classic marches, like "Takin' Care of Business" and "Bad Moon Rising" and "Barracuda." Tusker follows behind, waving and bowing to nobody in particular. As a courtesy we pass by Plant Lad a few times but of course he's in a dormant state so he can't really see us. Sometimes Storm Boy will clamber up from the hold and drunkenly raise a bottle to us... and sometimes he hurls the bottle at us and then I have to break ranks and smack his ass up. But either way it's a festive occasion!

Have a terrific day, everybody!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

These Are Not the Pendants You're Looking For


"Heavy pewter-like metal!" Wait a minute... so it's not even real pewter?! Isn't that like getting "imitation cubic zirconium" or "margarine substitute" or "cardboard veneer"?

Still, it's "just what you've been waiting for." That's right, little boy. Some fly-by-night company has crapped out a load of C-3PO pendants. You can end your hunger strike now.

It's Kind of Like "Vertigo," Only With More Robots


And he has a humongous chess piece in his lab because...? (What, is he subletting the joint from Windom Earle?)

Creepy? Hell yeah, it's creepy. Because he designed her, which means he selected the towering hair-do, the (even more) false eyelashes, and most of all that sexed-up get-up, which features a Vampira collar, a stained-glass wrestling belt, hotpants and go-go boots.


Yeah, you don't want the lipstick too dark. That would look cheap.


Ugh. I feel a little queasy. I think I'm going to have to lie down for a bit. *claps hands* Weight Wizard, attend me!

Monday, July 02, 2007

You're Next, Audrey Hepburn


Night Girl's hair found out somebody was imitating it, so it ordered a preemptive strike! Night Girl's hair doesn't shit around. And it's extremely sensitive. For example, you wouldn't want to tease Night Girl's hair. *rimshot* Thank you, Weight Wizard. At ease.

I suppose I should mention all my rimshots (that's what the kids are calling them nowadays) are provided by Weight Wizard, whose current task is to follow me around naked save for a military-type side drum. You don't want to know what he did with the fife.

Special footnote: the above image is by Jim Aparo, from his All My People Look Like Butter Sculptures period.

Legion of Substitute Costumes: Rainbow Girl

Rainbow Girl is my second-in-command on the H.M.S. Exquisite and she's truly my finest crew member. Granted, it's not much of a competition. Tusker is a dim-witted behemoth who spends most of his time playing fantasy magno-ball on his Omnicom, Plant Lad is a badass but completely immobile, my dear friend Storm Boy is an emotionally unstable lush (bless his heart), and my "cabin boy" Weight Wizard is really only good for "swabbing my deck" if you know what I mean and I think you do. So praise the Luck Lords for Rainbow Girl! She really rides stays on top of cracks the whip on disciplines CRIMINY! I'm mired in accidental sexual innuendo here! Rainbow Girl makes sure the other crew members ("Members"? CRIMINY!) do their jobs! She's diligent and smart and also witty, just a real charmer who can put you at your ease right away. She's also in constant need of validation, so if I let, say, three hours pass without thanking her effusively and in person for the work she's doing, she gets ticked off at me and stops working which creates a domino effect which causes the ship to grind to a complete halt.

So with her personality, I bet her Legion try-out was even more scarring than usual. Because the Legion didn't tell her why they rejected her!


That's it. That one panel's all she got. That's her fifteen femtoseconds of fame as chronicled in "Adventure Comics", the Legion's companion magazine (a profusely illustrated pamphlet in which the details of that organization's doings are heavily dumbed-down for its dumb, heavy fans). There was no embarrassing flub caught on tape, no near-death accidental misuse of her powers, no anything. Just the Legion's typical "take a belt and beat it" shove-off. The United Planets Freedom of Infotainment Act of 2973, or was it 2979, or 2981? Damn sliding timeline! Anyway, that legislation opened the Legion's bits of business to the general public and it was from those formerly sealed records that I found out why the Legion rejected Rainbow Girl. (And then I blabbed it to her). But it's complicated, so bear with me for a minute. Rainbow Girl can split into four separate energy-beings*, each a different hue. Rainbow Girl Red projects heat rays, Rainbow Girl Yellow projects a blinding light, Rainbow Girl Blue projects a freezing ray, and Rainbow Girl Green projects an enervating ray. Which is not Kryptonite, I hasten to add. But the Legion thought it was and they hustled Rainbow Girl out of their tacky clubhouse in two shakes of a borlat's tail. With no explanation and no chance for her to defend herself. But you know the Legion... they're hell-bent on protecting their own personal Mark McGuire and Marion Jones, a.k.a. a certain Kryptonian pair who are so hopped up on yellow sun radiation they can't even recognize a cool facial hair style when they see it. (I had a sweet-ass goatee and muttonchops and they called me "Pappy Yokum"! HOW DARE THEY. Besides, I've always pictured myself as more the "Earthquake McGoon" type. Only hairier.)

Wait, what were we talking about?

Rainbow Girl! Right! Thank you! So. Rainbow Girl might not have received such a hasty farewell on that fateful day if only she'd opted for a more striking costume. And hairstyle! Here's Rainbow Girl today in an outfit and coif I designed especially for her:


Once Rainbow Girl trusted me enough to take me on as her fashion adviser, I had her toss out every bit of rainbow-patterned apparel in her closet. Which was a lot. Her very noggin emits pulses of rainbow-colored light at all times so I don't think she needs anything else competing with that. Her hair doesn't have a lot of body, so I counseled her to switch to a short, layered spiky 'do which gives it more lift. I also lightened it a bit to bring out her natural purple undertones. (And I thought it looked so bangin' I decided to make my own hair that color!) The costume itself is in a silver-gray metallic fabric with hints of violet and turquoise. The silhouette features a scalloped top to evoke a cloudbank. Rainbow Girl is a helluva fighter both hand-to-hand and in her energy forms, so I designed this as a "working" costume. That means the neckline, while feminine and flattering, is also high enough that her bosoms won't pop out in the middle of a scrap. And there are no high heels or dangling jewelry. It's a business suit, and her business is kicking your ass!

*When I interviewed Rainbow Girl for the job of First Mate I asked her if she could do the work of four people. She said yes, not knowing the four people I meant were Tusker, Plant Lad, Storm Boy, and Weight Wizard.