Costume Critique: Brother Voodoo

Jan-09-09

With the recent talk about Brother Voodoo, I was doing a lot of research and noticed how truly awful his costume has always been. So, I thought it would be best to address this as only the “Meanwhile…Comics!” crew can…with a little thing we like to call “Costume Critique.”

Initially, I wanted this to be in the ridiculously funny vein of some of the entries on Seanbaby’s Hostess Page, with “guest commentary” from the likes of Biz Markie, Iron Chef Chen Kenichi and Rainbow Brite…but that would’ve required way too much time and skill to pull off. Instead, what you get is a hastily pasted Google search image and some lame attempts at humor from the two of us. Without further ado, we somewhat proudly present our Costume Critique of Brother Voodoo:

Ah, that costume. This is why I really wanted to not use his costume in the Nightstalkers comic. I kept trying to imagine it being drawn in a way that doesn’t make it look ridiculous, and I’m not sure such an artistic style actually exists.

Is it his faux Rogue haircut, with the lovely white stripe down the middle that makes it hard to take him seriously? Perhaps it’s the fact that he doesn’t wear a shirt, but instead just has that….V thing on this chest. A V thing which has a lovely diamond motif on it, making him look like a reject from the Royal Flush Gang. Seriously, what is the point of that? If you’re going to go shirtless (and God knows he has the abs for it) then just don’t wear a shirt. And if you’re so determined to show the world your impressive physique, why would you wear a cape? It’s not going to make you any warmer nor offer any protection. I mean, the shirtless look is never a good idea, but when you’re just a normal guy with no protection from either physical harm or temperature extremes, this looks seems wildly impractical. The fact that he’s barefoot boggles my mind even more. Of course, he is wearing that metallic dohickey on his arm, which surely provides him with….um, well, it no doubt is necessary for….actually, I imagine it’s important because….ok, I have no idea what that is or why he wears it. I’d say, if he has to have it as part of his costume, at least wear it on your fist so you can clonk bad guys in the head with it.

I enjoy his red and green coloring. Perhaps Brother Christmas would have been a better moniker for him to sport? Then his secret identity could have been Jericho-ho-ho Drumm! It would have been perfect! I guess he doesn’t really seem festive, despite being decked out in the colors of the holiday season, and perhaps that’s, again, because he’s missing the shirt. However, I think I may have found his shirt. It was no doubt red, but was shredded in his origin, and it had sentimental value to him, so he tied the remnants of it around his shins. At least, I hope that’s what happened, as I can’t come up with any other explanation for the strips of fabric that he has sticking out of the ends of his capri pants.

Perhaps you can explain his costume Jason?

I’ll give Brother Voodoo one thing: at least he doesn’t dress as poorly as his nemesis Black Talon, the evil chicken man.

And I’ll even let him get away with a few “character-based” costume decisions. The bone necklace, the gold arm cuff and the face paint all make some sense for a voodoo dude. Hell, even the red sash around his waist can be explained away as some sort of ritualistic cloth. But why the hell is he wearing a high-collared cape without a shirt? Who does that? Yes, I’m looking at you, Martian Manhunter. My favorite part of the picture above is the back view, where he’s holding up his cape so you can check out his badonk-a-donk. Baby got back!

Having been caught up in the hip-hop scene of the early to mid 1990s, I understand the color scheme. Black, yellow, green and red are the colors of Africa. They’re also really, really awkward to use in a clothing ensemble. Especially when you feel it’s best to add red feathered trim to the cuffs of your green spandex pants. I’m fairly certain the only reason he wears the odd V-shaped vest thingy is so it can point to his junk. Beware evil-doers!

And where the hell are his shoes? This badass dude spends his time traipsing through swamps and visiting ghostly dimensions and he doesn’t think it would be wise to protect his little toesies from possible infection? I’d be donning some hip waders and a beekeeper’s hat if I was in his line of work. You never know what kind of freaky stuff you’re gonna run into and wearing the right amount of clothing could be key to your ultimate survival. Not to mention that it’s just looks kind of dirty.

I’ve seen a few recent interpretations of Brother Voodoo from some of Marvel’s artists. While most don’t stray far from this established design, Leinil Yu did produce one look that I thought was rather strong. Here, Jericho seems to be dressed in a long, dark blue coat or robe. His hair is cropped much closer. And he has a huge bone, stick and trinket-laden necklace draped around his neck. Looks pretty creepy, if you ask me. Of course, that could also be because his eyes are rolled back in his head and his mouth is hanging agape.

Would it be too clich├ęd to show him in some skullface makeup, a tattered funeral suit and maybe a top hat? You know, like that Bond villain from Live and Let Die? The “7-Up…the Un-cola” guy? No?

I don’t think I’d want Brother Voodoo to look like this all the time…seems more like a situational thing to me…but something a bit more contemporary might make folks take him more seriously. At the very least, the simple addition of a shirt and shoes would allow him to enter the mall and shop for something better!

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2009 Superhero Resolutions

Dec-17-08

When we’re not trying to save a forgotten character or rehabilitate one that seems to have fallen off-track, we (or at least I) always seem to end up taking the industry to task for one reason or another. I guess blogs wouldn’t exist if people didn’t have anything to complain about! As the clock winds down on 2008, it’s easy to look back and point fingers. At the same time, this joyous and comforting season provides the perfect opportunity to look ahead and resolve to make changes. While I promise to try to be funnier without being so caustic (except when it comes to Bendis), I figure some of our favorite Marvel and DC heroes and villains are also hoping to make some positive changes in their lives too.

With that in mind, here are our thoughts on what some of those New Year’s resolutions may look like:

Spider-Man: I resolve to find true love. I really think it’s time that I settle down, find a wife, and get into a solid domestic relationship. That’s the one thing in my life that seems to be missing. Seriously. Like, it was there and then it wasn’t. Weird, huh?

Kang: I resolve to go back in time and convince myself to never go back in time. It’s just too confusing. Of course, if I do that, would I cease to exist? Would I get caught in some sort of weird Moebius Strip where I kept meeting myself seconds after I just left myself? And wouldn’t it be cool if I just scrapped this whole idea and created a massive army of different time-stamped versions of myself…all one second apart? Man, that would really screw some stuff up. Totally rad.

Hulk: I resolve to be a better father. Kids learn from example. I can’t be leaping all over creation smashing stuff and speaking in broken English. What kind of precedent does that set for my little Skaar? Less mindless violence and more dedication to the arts, that’s my goal. Maybe I’ll even take up yoga.

Aquaman: I resolve to…hello? Is anyone listening to me? HELLO?!? Stupid fish aren’t even paying attention anymore.

Punisher: I resolve to only kill people who deserve it. And by “deserve it,” I mean “does something that falls within my broad and ever-changing definition of evil…from kiddie porn to jaywalking, on any given day.” Honestly, that guy driving that Miata the other day? He was just asking to be blown up into tiny pieces with a bazooka and about a half-dozen other high-explosive armaments. Should whack his family too. What kind of person drives a Miata?

Luke Cage: I resolve to never join a group called the Dark Avengers. Kinda sends the wrong message, ya know? Sweet Christmas!

Kang: I resolve to go back in time and convince myself to never go back in time. It’s just too confusing. Of course, if I do that, would I cease to exist? Would I get caught in some sort of weird Moebius Strip where I kept meeting myself seconds after I just left myself? And wouldn’t it be cool if I just scrapped this whole idea and created a massive army of different time-stamped versions of myself…all one second apart? Man, that would really screw some stuff up. Totally rad.

Iron Man: I resolve to start drinking again. Can you blame me?

Blue Beetle: I resolve to stay relevant regardless of losing my solo series and becoming a quasi-legacy to a character who was never all that fabulous to begin with. But hey, as long as I keep making appearances on a keen new Batman cartoon, everyone will love me! I mean, look at the headliners I’m appearing with…Plastic Man, Red Tornado, uh…Aquaman? Damn it. I’m screwed.

Madrox: I resolve to stop sending doubles in to deal with the crying baby. It’s not fair to them and it doesn’t really teach me anything. Although, on the bright side, at least I’m not the one who has to put up with all the screaming and crying. Considering half the kid’s genes are from Siryn, that’s probably a safe thing.

All-Star Batman: I resolve to stop talking like a goddamn retard.

Kang: I resolve to go back in time and convince myself to never go back in time. It’s just too…ah, crap.

Dr. Strange: I resolve to be the central character in a Bendis crossover this year, meaning I also resolve to act horribly out of character as long as that advances the plot, no matter how nonsensical that may be.

Cyclops: Now that my current honey, Emma Frost, looks to be going evil again, I resolve to find another skank to bring home to my bedroom. I wonder what Selene, the Black Queen, is up to. Jean would be so proud.

Wolverine: I resolve to only appear in fifteen books a month. Wouldn’t want to become overexposed.

Thor: Verily, I doth resolveth to speaketh in English most plain, so as not to confuseth those who doth find themselves arrayed around me.

Hercules: Verily, I doth resolveth….hey Odinson! Getith thine own resolution. Fine. I doth resolve to ne’er move from the fine publication in which I currently reside. It is mine now Hulk, you poor excuse for a hero! You shall ne’er move me from it!

She-Hulk: I doth resolve…sorry. It’s contagious. I resolve to get my own title again. I wonder who can relaunch me this time? Maybe I’ll give Byrne a call….it’s not like he’s doing anything important right now.

Sub-Mariner: I resolve to enter rehab this year. I mean, have you seen me lately? I look worse than Tony Stark did after a three month bender!

Dr. Light (female): I resolve to turn back the clock on my personality and act like I did in 1986 again. It may not make sense to anyone else, but there’s a reason I’m ignoring the last 20 years of my life and acting in this manner. Honest.

Obsidian: I resolve to go back to the JSA and fade into the woodwork again, since the only title to explore my character is now, <sigh>, cancelled.

Scarlet Witch: I resolve to return to comics to say what I should have said in 2005: “No more Bendis.”


Costume Critique: Blue Streak

Oct-17-08

The first one came so easily to me, that I decided to do one more. And John bringing up the terrifying mental image of a roller skating Iron Man just made me think of this guy:

BLUE STREAK! The hard-skatin’, gas mask-sportin’, rootin’, tootin’ supervillain. God, I loved the late 80s, the age of over-armored bad guys with horrible “current events” gimmicks. Blue Streak first appeared waaaaay back in 1978 in a Captain America comic. Of course, back then his costume was fashioned after another timely fad…DISCO.

Groovy, man. I don’t even want to go into what’s wrong with that picture. Let’s just stick to the later version.

The Marvel editors must have spent a lot of free time wandering the aisles of the nearby Modell’s. A “battle suit” made out of shoulder pads, a catcher’s chestplate, knee and elbow pads, shin guards and a ski mask is not something you stumble upon by accident, unless you have a shopping cart and a limited budget.

The sad thing is that he’s not even wearing Rollerblades, which would’ve been somewhat more acceptable. I think. No, this guy’s sporting the old school skates…the kind of outfit you expect from the Freddie Mercury lookalike in the mesh tank top cruising down the Santa Monica promenade. How did Captain America take this guy seriously. Sure, he could fire lasers from his wrists and throw down razor-edged caltrops from his fancy hip pouches, but when it comes down to it, he’s a bright blue dude on roller skates. You know how you defeat someone like that? Trip him.

Son of a bimbo??? Did he just call Cap a “geek?” I’m sorry, Roy Thomas and John Buscema must’ve lost a bet to have created this tool. It is nice to see Cap on his Ameribike shooting out the ass-end of his Amerivan though. VROOM!

And what’s with the gas mask? Was Blue Streak moving so fast on his little training wheels that he was actually at risk of losing his breath? My guess? That mask is actually just used to catch the tears of shame streaming down his cheeks.

You know you suck as a bad guy when another bad guy makes it his life’s work to kill you.

Scourge: Saving Evil’s Reputation, One Mercy Killing at a Time.

Jason was kind enough to take the lead on this post because he’s better at finding and posting pictures than I, and because he seemed to need to get some thoughts about this guy off his chest. Sadly, he has once again said most of what needs to be said about this loser. Of course, I made that statement about Night Thrasher, and still managed to ramble on about him at length, so let’s see if I can do that again, shall we?

I would actually very much enjoy picking on his original, Disco-era costume, but I suppose we shouldn’t be too harsh on that decade, since fashion took a holiday for those ten years. Perhaps his costume looked good when it debuted, although I’m guessing it was considered a fashion faux pas even back then. I’m sure that Blue Streak and his creators thought that the new, armored duds were an improvement over the white leather suit with the blue lightning, but you know, they were kind of wrong. Sure, the armor makes practical sense, so they get points for that, but then they immediately lose those points for choosing to make the armor ugly, and decidedly impractical in many ways.

Certainly, if one is roller skating along at speeds of 40-50 mph, one would want head and face protection, if for no other reason than one doesn’t want to pick bugs our of one’s teeth. However, the design of the helmet (or ski mask; I’m unclear as to whether that’s supposed to be a thin helmet or a thick wool mask; I’ve been studying the art and it’s not horribly clear and I can’t find the information online anywhere) is so unnecessarily ugly that I have to wonder what the designer was thinking. The worst thing about the headpiece is that ridiculous air hose, which makes him look like some sort of alien. While I agree that an air supply probably wasn’t necessary, I don’t begrudge Blue Streak having one, except that it would have been possible to use one that wasn’t connected to a distracting hose, particularly when that hose goes….nowhere? The best I can tell is that the other end of the hose is connected to the back of his suit, which seems odd, since shouldn’t it connect to an air tank? Is he basically sniffing his back? Man, I hope he doesn’t stop for beans before a superhero fight; that air hose could end up being deadlier than any fight with Captain America!

Besides, what self-respecting villain would want to use an air supply that was dependent on an old fashioned hose like that? That hose is begging to be cut, and Captain America could easily sever it with one throw of his shield. Considering that armored heroes like Iron Man had been running around with internal air supplies for years before this outfit first saw print, I’m not sure why Blue Streak felt he needed to pretend he was getting his air from somewhere else. Perhaps the hose was just for looks? If that’s the case, it’s still a bad idea; once Cap severed it with his shield, he could then have grabbed it and used it to yank this guy’s helmet/hood right off his noggin and then proceeded to beat this loser with his own costume. Ahhh, I would have enjoyed seeing that fight depicted in an issue of his comic.

A closer look at those skates reveal them to appear to be the skates of the 70s-80s variety, the type which younger readers are probably wholly unfamiliar. These skates required a key, which was used to tighten or loosen the skates, and that’s how one put them on and removed them. I wonder if any of his villain comrades ever played practical jokes on him, where they hid his key, and he was stuck in his skates for a few days, rolling through the showers and the mess hall. Or perhaps they could have hidden his key when he wasn’t wearing his skates, and when he went to commit a crime, he would have had to do it sans his trademark mode of transportation. I can see the cab pulling up to the bank, and Blue Streak climbing out, wearing the outfit at the top of the entry, but instead of skates, he has on white tennis shoes. It couldn’t make the outfit look any worse.

Yes, Scourge did the comics world a favor when he killed this one. Sad that Marvel felt the need to bring this lame villain back during Civil War. He appears to be wearing the same costume. <sigh> Marvel, Marvel, Marvel….

Blue Streak

Well, on the plus side, it looks like they’ve at least simplified the stupid air hose on his mask. I can’t see enough of his costume to determine if they lost those snazzy hip packs or not. I will say one thing though, you know you’re pretty bad-ass when you need knuckle guards. Rock on, newly resurrected Blue Streak!


Costume Critique: Night Thrasher

Oct-17-08

They say that clothes make the man. I don’t know who “they” are, but they must have been crying in their Chardonnay when Marvel unveiled Night Thrasher for the first time.

The above picture really doesn’t do the defunct leader of the original New Warriors justice, but it’s almost like Marvel knew that and refused to actually ever show him in his full glory. Where’s the overcoat? Where’s the skateboard?

Yeah, that’s right. I said “skateboard.”

You can rest assured that any time a superhero uses a skateboard, it’s going to make them a memorable character…one way or another. And Night Thrasher certainly doesn’t disappoint in that realm. Nothing says XTREME!!! quite like a dude hitting another dude in the face with a gnarly deck (and then chugging a Mountain Dew while totally high-fiving any nearby object with limbs).

But that is neither here nor there. Sure, the skateboard is an integral part of making fun of this lousy costume, but it’s not the only failing point. Let’s start from the top:

Night Thrasher looks like one of those low-budget direct-to-video superheroes who assembled his costume by shopping at the local sporting goods store. I can imagine him going through a hastily scribbled checklist with his precocious neighbor kid sidekick…

NT: Paintball mask?

KID: Check.

NT: Knee and elbow pads?

KID: Check and check.

NT: This costume is gonna be rad and really strike fear into the hearts of those evil real estate guys hoping to close down the local rec center in order to put in a parking garage for their high priced condos.

KID: Right on, NT! We should have one of those rousing 80’s-style montages!

NT: Not now, precocious sidekick. Evil is afoot!

KID: Awww…

NT: Back to the list. Random pieces of dirtbiking “armor?”

KID: Check.

NT: Long black overcoat?

KID: They sell those at sporting goods stores?

NT: Nah. I already had one. Just thought it would look cool. It’s totally black.

KID: Okay.

NT: Skateboard?

KID: Huh?

NT: You don’t expect me to take the bus, do you? Plus, I can totally smash some faces with it. THWUMP!

KID: Right. I think I hear my mom calling me…

NT: Not so fast, true believer! We have one more important element to consider.

KID: What’s that?

NT: Sticks.

KID: Sticks?

NT: Oh yeah. I could make some wicked weapon out of sticks.

KID: …

Aaaand…scene. Seriously. What were they thinking?

There is absolutely no way that I can top what you just wrote. I should point out that, in all fairness, I found myself loving the character of Night Thrasher, as Fabian Nicieza wrote him in the original New Warriors comics. I actually count Nicieza’s New Warriors as one of my favorite comics from Marvel in the early 90’s and I thought he did an amazing job at making these characters interesting and making the book unique. However, that does not excuse this costume. Or the skateboard. Good Lord, the skateboard!

Of course, skateboarding was popular in the early 90s, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it would show up in a comic. But a popular fad does not a new hero make. Hackeysack was also popular, and I suppose we should all thank someone at Marvel Editorial for nixing the sure-to-be-classic, HackenSackster, who must have been discussed at the same meeting. We were spared one hero born of a then-current fad at the very least.

The skateboard of young Night Thrasher was perhaps never put to better use than when it was employed against the Punisher, as a weapon. I would love to have been Microchip at that time.

MICROCHIP: Man, Frank, you look like crap. What happened to you?

PUNISHER: Some kid hit me with his skateboard.

MICROCHIP: BWAH-HA-HA!!

PUNISHER: Shut up Micro.

I was really hoping to find some screen caps of Night Thrasher beaning the Punisher with his skateboard and using the skateboard as a shield against the Punisher’s bullets, but sadly, the internet is failing me today. Of course, the Punisher need not be as embarrassed as Terrax, a freakin’ Herald of Galactus, who also got slapped around by a young punk using a skateboard to escape the power cosmic. Truly, I think the skateboard should have caught on in the Marvel Universe. Iron Man used to have roller skates; he should have been trading them in for a skateboard!

The skateboard actually disappeared after a year or so, no doubt as people realized that it was not lending their new character much dignity. Sadly, that horrible helmet never left, and so our hero looks like he should be killing pretty co-eds at Camp Crystal Lake. Look, it’s not that a helmet isn’t a good idea for your costume when you’re going to be fighting the forces of evil. It’s a great idea. But dude, you’re a Bruce Wayne rip-off with tons of money; heck, even your skateboard was made of some super strong alloy and tricked out with blades and other gadgets. Why did you think it was ok to spend $8 on a hockey mask and consider your headgear good to go?

How many jokes do you think Night Thrasher had to endure for the knee pads? “Why do you need the knee pads Thrash? Got some special plans with Kid Nova after the fight?” “Oh, shut up Speedball.” Were the knee and elbow pads there to teach kids about safety? That seems a mixed message: “Yes kids, you can jump around on your skateboard, stabbing and punching people, and you can play with guns and grenades and fight really buff guys who carry Uzis….but for the love of God, WEAR YOUR KNEE AND ELBOW PADS!” Perhaps they were to be like Batman’s chest emblem; it’s brightly colored and it’s supposed to serve as a target for criminals to shoot at, so they’re hitting him where he’s most heavily armored. Perhaps Thrash thought that, since they were some of the only areas on his costume that weren’t black, they’d attract the bad guy’s fire. Or perhaps he thought he could Brer Thrash them into attacking there: “No sir, Mr. Terrax, please don’t hit me in the elbows or knees! I’d surely be defeated if you hit me there!”

Finally, I have one question: What the hell is the point of the bandanna on his leg? It’s on every single bloody version of his costume, and it makes so sense to me. At least I can say that, while the elbow and knee pads are ugly as sin, they do have a practical purpose, since they do provide protection, in case he falls off his skateboard in the middle of a fight with a Herald of Galactus (how embarrassing!). But what does the bandanna signify? Is it supposed to be a gang sign? Is he in a gang? The other New Warriors didn’t have to wear colors. Is it a symbol of some sort, like when you have handkerchiefs hanging out of your back pocket; certain colors denote certain things you enjoy? Was Thrash cruising people as he battled crime? Please, can someone explain the bandanna?!

Yeesh. Not a bad character; horrible costume.

Damn. I forgot the Chachi bandanna. It really did tie the outfit all together.