Hey gang. I’ve been going through a renaissance of sorts recently. I’ve gotten back into reading comic books and graphic novels. The other day I finished off a Spider-Man collection Return of the Sinister Six. Obviously the book covers the Sinister Six story arc but also includes other issues from the Amazing Spider-Man published from 1990-91. While I admit I love these old stories they are at times hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Here are some highlights:
1. Peter Parker’s Aunt May is drawn so old it is laugh out loud funny. According to comic lore Aunt May’s husband, Ben Parker, was significantly older than his brother (Peter’s dad). I am not certain how wide the age gap is but if the art is any indication it was enormous since May looks like she could be Methuselah’s mother.
She doesn’t look like she should worry about the Green Goblin attacking as much as she should about falling down the stairs and her bones turning to dust. Or slipping in the bathtub while out of arm’s reach of her life alert bracelet.
In all seriousness half the lines drawn on any panel in which she appears are on her face. I think the artists could have gotten their point across about her age without drawing her like the last living Civil War widow.
2. Something I really enjoy about superhero comics is that their nature is to be ridiculous. There are many good stories but the reader can’t enjoy them if you have no suspension of disbelief. For example Spider-Man was a kid who gained powers after being bit by a radioactive spider. If you can’t get over that you can’t appreciate that the character is a metaphor for puberty (Peter Parker was a boy when he was bitten and his body started to go through changes, get it?).
However, there are some things too ridiculous to ignore. The dumbest thing about these stories was the Sinister Six’s plot at world domination which left me speechless. Dr Octopus reforms the Sinister Six under the ruse of launching a satellite into space and holding the world hostage under the threat of releasing a poison into the atmosphere. So far so good exactly the type of thing you would expect a supervillain to do.
The rails come off very quickly though when it turns out this was nothing but a bluff. Octopus’ true plan involved secretly curing everyone of cocaine addiction. Why? The substance he put in the atmosphere made anyone who used blow nauseated. Octopus reasoned that since there were so many coke fiends he could get rich selling them a cure. A more convoluted plot there never was!
Anyone unfamiliar with the character Dr. Octopus is one of the smartest characters in the Marvel universe which makes this plot that much stupider. If he really had any brains and wanted to make serious money off cocaine addiction he should have started a cartel. Octopus’ knowledge of chemistry would make his product second to none. If he couldn’t crush the competition by selling a better product he could wipe out his rivals with little effort. He’s a super-villain capable of going toe-to-toe with Spider-Man what hoodlums could stand up to him? He enlisted the aid of Mysterio, Sandman, Hobgoblin, Vulture and Electro to have his satellite launched. If those were his sicarios even Pablo Escobar would be liable to poop his pants.
3. Speaking of Dr. Octopus he is drawn with a bowl cut. He may be an evil genius with indestructible arms fused to his body (hence the name!) but if Bill Gates can laugh at his haircut I can’t take him seriously.
He’s not the only villain who looks like an idiot either. Electro’s costume is something else indeed. Electro, if the name hasn’t given it away, can control electricity but has no mastery over fashion. His costume is a green unitard under a pair of yellow briefs. His unitard is covered with lightning bolts to really drive home the point about electricit but that is hardly the goofiest thing about his outfit. On his face he wears a mask that looks like an enormous yellow starfish. Aside from not being real I understand there is a bit of theatrics involved with being a super-hero and/or villain. Myself, I would trade a bit of the spectacle for practicality.
And speaking of practicality these aren’t even the stupidest costumes worn in this volume. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone whose read comics but the honor of dumbest (yet funniest) costumes goes to female characters.
Honorable mention goes to the Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat. Black Cat is drawn with enormous breasts which her costume struggles mightily to contain. In the comics she regularly performs acrobatic feats made all the more impressive since she appears to be smuggling two inflated pufferfish under her clothes at all times.
However, even her get up pales in comparison to Spider-Man foes Knockout and Mindblast. Knockout and Mindblast compromise half the members of an all female super-villain team hired to take down everyone’s favorite web slinger. Knockout is a powerfully built African-American lady with metal limbs. This isn’t strange by comic book standards except she’s running around a thong. Yes, her metal ass is bisected by butt floss.
Meanwhile Mindblast shows up to the fight wearing a onesie with most of the ass cut out. I know I’ve mentioned this previously but if I were a superhero I would emphasize practicality over theatrics. Could you imagine the male equivalent of this? I have no idea what it would look. Maybe some sort of garment that allows their balls to hang out?