Monday, August 21, 2006

ROCKET REDS vs GUARDSMAN: WHO YA GOT?



If you have a superhero universe, you pretty much have to have a group of disposable guys in power armor that heroes can beat on and bad guys can kill. It’s a rule.

The homogenous armored corps in the Marvel Universe are The Guardsmen, super-powered security for places like The Vault. In the DC Universe, the high-tech drones of choice are the Rocket Red Brigade, super-commies in big bulky suits of armor. Both admirably perform their primary role in their respective universes: to act as punching bags for superhumans.

The somber question before us today is, “Which group of armor-clad cannon fodder is better? Rocket Reds vs Guardsmen: Who ya got?”

Let’s start with the Rocket Reds. Originally these guys were created for the Soviet Union during the Cold War by the alien Green Lantern Kilowog. If memory serves, Kilowog briefly subscribed to the tenets of communism without grasping the whole totalitarian regime angle. He lived in the USSR for a while, where he used his technological know-how to create the Rocket Red Brigade.

What a total dumb ass.

Now, a comic blog is not the place to discuss the merits or lack thereof of international communism – nobody comes here looking for my take on geo-politics. Having said that, Kilowog is an utter tool for creating a corps of super-powered soldiers for the commies. You’d think a Green Lantern wouldn’t be such a naïve poozer, to use Kilowog’s term.

Anyway, Kilowog creates the Rocket Red Brigade using Soviet soldier “volunteers” who undergo a process called forced evolution and are slapped into red and white powered armor. The Rocket Reds have super-strength, resistance to injury, flight, and a vague power called “mecha-empathy” which presumably allows them to program VCRs with their minds. It was the Eighties, remember.

The Rocket Reds have kind of a spotty record, and by that I mean they usually end up getting the shit kicked out of them by any and all superhumans. Here’s Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter playing with some Rocket Reds, the same way my cat plays with a mouse before she kills it:

Embarassing.

Here’s the 1984 version of Black Canary, complete with headband and shoulder pads, giving a hapless Rocket Red a dose of her Canary Cry:

Ouch.

The Rocket Reds make an appearance during DC’s Invasion crossover. In the pages of Suicide Squad the Reds make a half-hearted attempt to take Moscow back from Khund invaders, but are repulsed by laser artillery and beat a quick retreat, earning the contempt of the macha villainess Duchess:

Not their finest hour.

Perhaps it’s the long Russian winters or the vodka or the tradition of existential despair inherent in Russian literature – for whatever reason the Rocket Red Brigade has adopted a fatalistic mind-set that doesn’t serve them well in combat:

The battle cry of the Rocket Red Brigade: “We are doomed.”

You need to have a more can-do attitude, guys. Who are in those suits anyway, Chekhov and Sholokhov? No wonder everybody beats the hell out of you with a gloomy outlook like that.

The Rocket Red Brigade do score major points with me for the original design of their armor. I really love the colors and the boxy, utilitarian aesthetic. They’re not exactly sleek, but they look cool as hell, particularly when drawn by Kevin Maguire. Plus, they wear mittens. Any armored figure that wears mittens is OK in my book.

Unfortunately, the Rocket Red Brigade updated their look in the early Nineties and cast aside their boxy first-generation armor in favor of unimaginative suits that look like utter crap. Not even Mike Parobeck’s art can make them look cool:

Enough picking on The Rocket Reds. Let’s turn the stink-eye on the 100% American Guardsmen and their emerald armor.

The Guardsman was originally Kevin O’Brien, an employee of Tony “Iron Man” Stark who was the first to wear the distinctive green powered armor. O’Brien got dead, but the Stark-designed armor he wore was mass-produced and provided to a small squad of guards at The Vault, the United States Maximum Security Installation for the Incarceration of Superhuman Criminals. If you’ve got a bunch of super-villains locked up in the same place, you’re going to need some pretty tough prison guards to watch over them. That’s the idea, anyway.

In practice, The Guardsmen got the living bejeezus kicked out of them EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. They are the 2000 San Diego Chargers of the superhero world.

I don’t know what the problem is. Tony Stark designed the basic Guardsman suits, so you can’t blame the hardware. Guardsmen can fly, shoot repulsor rays, electro-shock the hell out of people, and can bench press 40 tons. On paper they seem like formidable opponents. But when push comes to shove, Guardsmen are just super-tough cannon fodder.

If memory serves, the Guardsmen first got their asses handed to them in one of the great Avengers Annuals of the Eighties. Hey, there’s no shame in getting beat up by The Avengers. But when you start getting knocked around by a couple of The New Warriors, you are doing something wrong.


Humiliating! Cock punched at super-sonic speeds by Nova! If some nineteen year old punk can cock punch trained professionals in powered armor, you need to go back to your playbook and re-think your strategy.

Plus, the Guardsmen were responsible for making sure that nobody escaped from The Vault. Unfortunately, EVERYBODY escaped from The Vault. It had all the structural integrity of a wet cardboard box. The powers that be in the Marvel Universe have since closed down the porous Vault in favor of more secure facilities like The Raft, the super-prison just offshore of New York City. Good call; nobody is going to be breaking out of The Raft anytime soon! Yessir, that place is as tight as a drum…

But for a while there, The Vault was the only option for supervillain incarceration. And every single time somebody busted out of there, Guardsmen got killed. Makes you wonder why anybody would willingly sign up to be a Guardsman.

Here are a few unlucky Guardsmen during one of the weekly prison breaks in the aptly named Avengers graphic novel Death Trap: The Vault:

These guys are displaying one of the three possible behavioral modes that all Guardsmen operate under:

1) Unwarranted smugness
2) Blithering panic
3) Agony

Venom, of course, totally kills those three poor bastards:

Wow, they are totally dead. As you can see, The Guardsmen are about as effective in combat as the Rocket Red Brigade.

The deal-breaker for me are those horrible outfits. Two-toned green bodysuits with bucket helmets and leg/arm bands? Lame. What tips the scales from average lameness into utter uncoolness is the Guardsman halter top. Look at them: they are grown men wearing green halter tops and briefs. Tony Stark may have designed the circutitry and weapons systems, but it looks like his flamboyant houseboy Francis designed the look of The Guardsmen. Who cares if you can lift a semi-truck over your head if you have to wear an outfit like that? I mean, damn.

I guess when comparing the Rocket Reds to The Guardsmen, it all comes down to armor design. Both groups are equally ineffective as fighting units, so I have to make my choice based solely on shallow aesthetic bias. Based on that, I have to go with The Rocket Red Brigade over The Guardsmen.

WINNER: ROCKET RED BRIGADE!


72 comments:

al-jabr said...

i owned that copy of new warriors, man. got it in a random boxed set of comic books from a jc penney catalog for christmas. good times.

Dav said...

It took me a while to figure out what was happening in that image of Venom laughing at the Guardsmen from above. I kept thinking that they were throwing back their heads and laughing. At what, I don't know, most likely their own incompetence.

Haole said...

Man, I owned a copy of Iron Man where Kevin O'Brien (or maybe his brother) went nuts and started blasting a bunch of hippie protestors outside of Stark International. Good times, that.

You could do worse than being a Guardsman, though -- you could be a Mandroid.

Anonymous said...

Hey, give these poor guys some credit.. If you had a choice would you choose to be a member of a super-armor group like these two groups.. You know, like the steady pay, the armor-groupies, etc.. or would you be that poor shmuck pulling minimum wage cleaning the floors in Arkham Asylum?

-Pope Impious XXIII

Murrkon5 said...

Ooh, mandroids. They're a sad bunch in whichever current "Mark" level they're on.

I think these armoured brigades can solve their problem in one stroke: be allowed to pimp out their own armour. Same basic style, but indivdiualize their own suit. Then they'd beat the "faceless legion" stigma and be more like superheroes.

Of the two choices, Rocket Reds get my vote. Maybe because one of their number graduated to the big leagues. Though the Justice League Europe Rocket Red never did anything of note either.

Ragnell said...

Dude, it's not Kilowog's fault. It was his first time on the planet and he's used to a telepathic collective. Give the guy a break!

goody said...

Also, did any of the Guardsmen get the promotion to Avenger? Nyet. Did a Rocket Red get to be in the JLA? Da. Suck it, Guardsmen.

Ralph Dibny said...

Yeah, I don't notice anybody called 'Guardsman' in the Avengers at any point. Or even in the New Warriors.

Not only did the Rocket Reds send one of their number to the JLA, he was named Dmitri, he was married with children and he had a bitchin' beard and some minor dental problems. I don't see Captain America having a beard and needing a crown fitted, never mind spreading his mighty seed to the next generation.

THEREFORE RUSSIA IS BEST.

Spencer Carnage said...

Whatevs. Becoming a member of the JLA is like becoming a member of the local sewing circle. As for the Avengers, we only let in the ruskies with back problems.

James said...

Can't forget DC's latest armored suit cannon fodder...The Atomic Knights. A dozen or so were slaughtered in The BAttle For Blüdhaven and I'd imagine many more will fall in Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters.

Anonymous said...

So the consensus here, from Campbell on down, is that the Commies are better than the Americans?

Bill Burns

Hulkster said...

I, too, owned that copy of New Warriors, but it was because I bought New Warriors religiously during those years, primarily because it featured Speedball, the Masked Marvel. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I cried when Speedball's book got cancelled.

Chawunky said...

Rocket Reds, sonny. Every time. Not that I recall even hearing about these Guardsmen fellows before.

"It took me a while to figure out what was happening in that image of Venom laughing at the Guardsmen from above. I kept thinking that they were throwing back their heads and laughing."

Ha!

sw said...

Wanna suck worse than Mandroid armor? Slide on a Maulers' outfit.

On Suck-o-meter scale of 1 to 10, these go to 11, mate.

Now I'm in an Armor Wars state of mind.....

Scott King said...

I have to second the "It took me a while to figure out what was happening in that image of Venom laughing at the Guardsmen from above."

I was confused why they were laughing, but then I realized it wasn't them.

Anonymous said...

"Namorita"?!? I never followed the SubMariner much, but I assume that "Namorita" is his hispanic cousin.... Otherwise, she would be named like all other female versions of DC characters; "Namor Woman" or "Namor Girl"

TG said...

Well, I, for one, thought Guardsman was pretty damn cool back when I was young, and I stand by it still. I won't even throw up the "it was the late '70s/early '80s" excuse! No! Armor and all, Guardsman rocks! He/they just need some writerly care. Hey Brubaker, forget that Iron Fist chump and give us a rippin' Guardsman book!

That said, my devotion to Marxism in my college years does compel me to give the Rocket Reds the Nod of Approbation.

Mon-L said...

Hey man, leave the Chargers out of this. 2000's 1-15.... even Doctor Doom wouldn't dredge that up.

Bill Reed said...

The Rocket Reds are pure awesome. I never knew that Kilowog designed them... that makes them at least... let me think... 458.17 times *more* awesome than they already were.

Roel said...

Hello.

I have already sent Dave a private email earlier today telling him that I love him. Now, I just wanted to take a moment to publicly delcare my affection for Dave Campbell.

I love you, Dave.

Thank you. Carry on.

Chris Sims said...

Oh, so that's what you needed Suicide Squad #23 for.

methane said...

When the Rocket Reds were first introduced in GLC, they were able to take on the Green Lanterns. It is too bad they got demoted to the canon fodder department by subsequent writers, but at least they started as a group with potential.

As for the Guardsmen, we all know that prison guards in comic books have 'canon fodder' in the job description.

ghostman said...

Haole said...
Man, I owned a copy of Iron Man where Kevin O'Brien (or maybe his brother) went nuts and started blasting a bunch of hippie protestors outside of Stark International.

Yeah, those cybernetic malfunctions that stimulate rage and aggression are a bitch. Poor Kevin (poor hippies, too)--he was the original that died, and then his ex-cop brother Michael took over the armor after Tony Stark fixed it.

Damn. I never noticed the whole halter effect on the Guardsman armor--I like to think that's because I have a natural reflex not to picture women's clothing on men. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. But that look can easily be fixed--and needs to be--with a quick trip to the Guardsman body shop.

To me, half the reason both groups look like Redshirts on Star Trek is just lazy writers. One of my biggest pet peeves in comics has to do with writers that obviously don't do their homework and really learn what a character is capable of so they can do it justice. Either that, or they make one character look like a chump in order to make someone else, usually their protagonist(s), look better. That's just poor craftsmanship.

I gotta go with the Guardsmen, though. And not only because I like to play Devil's Advocate (that is, after all, what he pays me for), or because I'm a disciple of the legendary Freewheelin' Franklin Freep and his immortal catchphrase "Fuck Communism!" Although both of those things are certainly true. To me the fight's going to come down to one thing that nobody's mentioned yet: maintenance. Anybody who knows anything about the Soviets knows that at any given time half of their shit was inoperable, and they couldn't fix it because a)they didn't have the expertise, or b)they'd sold off their spare parts on the black market. Do you have any reason to think that the Rocket Red program would be any different?

I'm a huge Kilowog fan, and he was great in the JLI days, but the fact that the Reds use alien technology just makes it worse when it comes time to fix them. No matter how great the suits are when they're working, what happens when the only guy who understands your battlesuit tech goes back to Oa? Even if he left them a manual, no way did he have time to cover everything. And yes, fanboys, maintenance will need to be done--no matter how magical the technology is, there's still this thing called Entropy that affects the entire damn universe. Shit breaks, and the more complex a system, the more things there are to go wrong with it. And even if they didn't need basic everyday maintenance, there'd be all the repairs they had to make after all the times they got their asses handed to them. You can't just have FedEx dropship you a new repticle infarcter from Betelgeuse after Guy Gardner turns Rocket Red #37 into a pile of scrap metal. Maybe that's the reason the Rocket Reds started out so much more powerful than they ended up--underneath the pretty white-and-red paint jobs, the suits were falling apart.

And yes, I know that Dmitri's second, goofy-looking suit came from Apokolips, but I distinctly remember reading a story where he told one of the other Justice Leaguers that the changes in the other Rocket Red suits were just cosmetic in order to match his. Even if I'm wrong about that detail, suits based on technology from Apokolips (if they could copy it, which is a pretty damn big if) would have all the same negatives as alien technology, with the added problem that Darkseid doesn't like having his technology in the hands of the Earth monkeys. Good luck with that, Rocket Reds, when Kalibak knocks on your door, backed up by twelve legions of howling Para-Demons and wanting their tech back.

On the other hand, who maintains the Guardsman suits? Tony. Fucking. Stark.

If the Rocket Reds square off against the Guardsmen, it's Ivan Drago vs. Rocky Balboa all over again. The Reds will get some serious licks in early. But the longer the fight goes, the more Red systems--which weren't 100% to begin with--will fail under the stresses of combat, and the more the balance will shift toward the Guardsmen--whose suits will be working tip-fucking-top aside from battle damage. And don't sell the Guardsman suits short--they're basically a simpler, lighter version of Iron Man. Which is still a helluva kickass battlesuit, no matter how weak bad writers make them look.

P.S. Fuck Communism!

Nimbus said...

My, that ghostman has a lot to say, hasn't he?

Anyway... you know, I never knew that the Rocket Reds updated the design of their suits. But that new design - they look like (old style) Cylons!

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's the reason the Rocket Reds started out so much more powerful than they ended up--underneath the pretty white-and-red paint jobs, the suits were falling apart.


Dude.

That is genius.

SanctumSanctorumComix said...

Despite the fact that Communism COULD be a good thing (at least in theory)...until you factor in the ruthless dictatorship at the helm of it all, the Rocket Reds are just lame GO-BOTS looking designs.

Much like what you would come up with if you had to design a "suit of armor" for a 5th grade pagent and all you had to work with was some old boxes that your washing machine was shipped in.

Now paint it red and white and slap a cool star decal or two and voila' - instant Rocket Red.

The Guardsman on the other hand are a HORRIFIC design...UNTIL you think of WHO designed it.

Tony (two-bottle a day) STARK with maybe some input by Kevin (yes, I'm a drunken Irishman) O'Brien.

These two guys got to drinkin' and thinkin' about designing the battlesuit and along the way (as drinkin' buddies do) they started talkin about chix.

Imagine, if you will...the guardsman armor being made into a formfitting suit of protective asskickery...for hot chix.

Now that's some "feminie protection".

(presumably for hot BODIED chix who may need the "bag"...er...helmet.)

Halter top to showcase that belly button?
Check.

Low cut "V" Bikini bottoms?
Checkeroonie.

The only design element that needs changing is the baggie booties.
Although..I have seen women wearing baggie oversized boots (last year or two these furry ones were all the rage). Hot pant shorts and oversized fur or leather booties WERE kinda hot lookin'....hmmmm..... Stark IS a damn Futurist. Waaay ahead of his time.

SO...pour some hot wimmins in those guards"people" outfits and they can kick my ass any time.

Uh...why are N.O.W. picketers camped outside my house?

~P~
P-TOR

word verification:
zsvukc

The Russian derogitory slang word
for "less-than attractive, boxy shaped women" that would fit perfectly in Rocket Red Armor.

Jakanapes said...

hmm, Dave you oughta do a 'Henchmen Week'. I'm not talking goons or thugs, those low rent mooks you pick up at the local dive. I'm talking henchmen, those brave criminals who have the guts to wear a bright yellow suit that makes them look like a thumbtack. Those dedicated fellows for whom a suicide mission on behalf of Kobra is the first, last and only option!

Anyone who's ever tried to rise through the ranks of super-villainy only to have a hero knock him out and steal his identity obscuring henchmen uniform and infiltrate the lair he was supposed to be guarding!

for whatever reason, that's what today's post made me think of.

Arm-Fall-Off-Boy said...

Let's not forget DC One Million, where Vandal Savage used the Rocket Red armor to nuke the entire city of Montevideo*. Did rogue/hijacked Guardsmen ever take out an entire South American city? No. Why? Because they are weak and useless.

*(presumably Infinite Crisis or New Earth or "@#$%, it's been ten years; who's gonna remember that?" has led to the resurrection of the city.)

Tony said...

That's what's cool about the Rocket Reds. Their armor sucked, their masters were evil dictators, but they fought on anyway. You gotta respect the patriotism.

But yeah, we need a wider round-robin tourney here. Throw in the Checkmate agents, Kobra's thugs, and the Black Razors from WildStorm.

Ken Begg said...

"Despite the fact that Communism COULD be a good thing (at least in theory)..."

Yeah, a hundred million corpses or so aside. Too bad those weren't theoretical.

What is it with the compulsion some people have to defend Communism? Objectively, it was a more malign system than Nazism--it certainly did more evil, in more places and for a longer time--and yet I don't really see too many folks sticking up for that.

The reason Communism can't be a "good thing (at least in theory)" is because its tenets violate basic human nature, and the only way to try to make masses of people conform to it is to...leave behind a 100 million corpses or so.

And even then it didn't work.

"That's what's cool about the Rocket Reds. Their armor sucked, their masters were evil dictators, but they fought on anyway. You gotta respect the patriotism."

Again, substitute "SS Soldiers" for "Rocket Reds" and see how that sentence scans.

juan said...

what the fuck, guys? i love the Mandroid armor. kind of Juggernaut-esque, but LEMONADE YELLOW. with nubs for hands.

just awesome.

Dan Coyle said...

Iron Man continuity pedant department: After the first Armor Wars storyline, Stane International took control of the Guardsman armor, not Tony Stark. AFAIK, he never went back to constructing and maintaining the Guardsman armor.

Dan Coyle said...

Juan: but the Hulk flicks his finger and the Mandroids just fall apart. Weren't they creatd to combat the Hulk?

philip said...

I also thought the Guardsmen were laughing at the fact that Venom was out of his cell. Maybe in the sit-com version. "Venom escaped? Not again! (wah-wah)." Then their boss comes out all Mr. Spacely-like, shouting, "Guards-MEN!"

I'll take the Rocket Reds any day. Politics aside, those boys can drink!

Jack Potts said...

Advantage: Rocket Reds.

Namely, because John Paul Leon and Brett Lewis based the awesome miniseries "Winter Men" on them.

Leon did an incredible job of making the clunky, utilitarian Rocket Red armor look even more clunky and utilitarian.

Winterteeth said...

For yet more proof of the Rocket Reds superiority, check out the Doom Patrol/Suicide Squad Special. The Rocket Reds are actually semi-effective in that story as they end up killing several members of the Suicide Squad. Although, they were referred to as canned meat by the Weasel, and that will never get you laid.

Dan Coyle said...

Potts: That's classic Russian craftsmanship!

Big Al said...

youre with me, Mandroids.

Gaurdsmen & Rocket reds are just fighting for second plave

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Those new Rocket Red outfits make them look kind of like Go-Bots.

Son of Blog-El said...

What is it with the compulsion some people have to defend Communism?

Actually, I think they were not defending Russian Socialist (USSR) but rhe concept of communism. The Russians, Chinese, etc are no more true communist countries than the US is a democracy. We are a democratic republic. It may seem like splitting hairs but the difference shows upon inspection.

Having said all that, USSR I'm glad you're dead. We certainly don't miss you.

Patrick Hamilton said...

I always thought the Mandroids' first appearance was during the Kree-Skrull War, I think in Avengers #94 or 95. If memory serves, their purpose then was to keep The Avengers confined to their mansion.

They failed.

ghostman said...

Nimbus said...
My, that ghostman has a lot to say, hasn't he?

Yes, yes he does. My g/f's been out of town, leaving more time to channel my inner comic geek. Idle hands, etc.

I can't believe I did it, but it's Freewheelin' Franklin Freak, not "Freep", from Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Funny stuff.

And for the record, fighting for the Soviets because you and your family will be executed or sent to a gulag if you don't is a long way from patriotism. It's just an attempt to survive. No way would the Soviets have let Dmitri's family out willingly in the real world, because they'd lose their means to control him. I have no doubt that most people in the USSR were patriotic about their own countries (Ukraine, Georgia, etc.), but the fact that they broke apart just as soon as they had the chance shows you just how much patriotism they felt for the Soviet government. I'm sure it's hard to feel too much loyalty to the gun barrel jammed against the back of your head.

SanctumSanctorumComix said...

Ken Begg...unclench.

Read the post by "Son of Blog-el".

HE gets the meaning of my post on The "theory" of Communism.

NO ONE can defend NAZI's because that WAS EVIL!

The PURE concept of communism was one that could possibly lead to a utopia on Earth.
Peace for all.

Basically, no one owns anything, or needs to, and we all work for each other.

That's where the hippies got the term "commune" from.

The only problem is, due to human nature, it's an impossible, unattanable "dream".

SOMEONE is always going to want to LEAD.
SOMEONE is always going to want to HAVE.

And once one person gets that first bit of power over the rest...
well... it can start like, Charles Manson, David Coresh or any U.S.S.R. dictator.

Ambition, greed and lust for power F#@% it up.

It's odd, but it's usually artists and other creatives that start on the concept of a commune.

Those are the ones that can create what they need and get along with their fellow artists in an unspeakable bond.

It's the people who have NO skills except for "being in charge" (like corporate management) that have no ability to survive in that kind of set-up (for they HAVE nothing to offer) that try to dominate.

The body count comes from them.

Peace.

~P~
P-TOR

Solario said...

I support Henchmen week. Can we get A.I.M. too? I love those beekeeper costumes.

Jon said...

I always thought the Mandroids' first appearance was during the Kree-Skrull War, I think in Avengers #94 or 95. If memory serves, their purpose then was to keep The Avengers confined to their mansion.

They failed.


They failed largely because Tony Stark trained them but failed to mention the rollerskates built into his Iron Man armor.

Why yes, Neal Adams was involved.

Ununnilium said...

...you know, we realize the USSR sucked. You don't have to tell us.

It's interesting; since they didn't have a lot of the data, people's attempts to be objective actually made the place look better than it was, sometimes.

Where they got it right, though, was showing that the people there were still human, and Dimitri was a fine example of that. Which is another reason why the Rocket Reds win.

K.Fox, Jr. said...

I agree. If you can have a copy of Iron Man's armor and you still suck that hard. I mean, dang. Oh, man, they suck somethin' off. Peace.

Ken Begg said...

That fantasy stuff about Communism is what continues to make it so dangerous, though. When do the actual, concrete documented record of Communism become so self-evidental hideous that people stop trying to make excuses for it? If not after a hundred million dead, and many more enslaved, how many will be required?

My question is, why do people still feel the need to make pro forma "of course, if pure Communism was tried...", as if they feel uncomfortable with the idea of criticizing what is, again, the most murderous political ideology in human history. People seldom seem to feel the need to clarify, "of course, Hitler never was a pure fascist..." You can easily argue that 'pure' fascism would be a good thing, too, but for some reason we seem to have gotten the message on that one and don't bother.

The fact that Communism on its face is beguiling in a childish utopian sort of way is why it's more important to guard against it. So, no, thank you, I think I prefer to remain firmly clenched.

I'd argue, by the way, that the reason artists generally are the ones most attracted to this sort of thing (thus leading to the proud recond of dumbass Stalinists in '40s Hollywood, agitating against the war against Hitler until Moscow told them otherwise), is because artists are generally people who have problems living in the real world. Whether this is a result of idealism or a childish inability to deal with reality is open to debate, but I think the bulk of the evidence falls towards the latter.

Son of Blog-El said...

Ya know...

Not to encourage anymore off topic commentary on this issue, but I have no choice. Ken, you strike me as a unapologetic, patriotic American, which is good. I have to respectfully disagree with your position on communism. Political systems are as dangerous as the people who wield them. We only have to look around the world to see countries that are "democratic" in name only.

But hey, we're not here for this heavy stuff. Bring on more comix stuff, Dave!

Ken Begg said...

OK, last message on this, so as not to overtax things. First of all, I would hope one doesn't have to be a patriotic American to hate to one's very bones murderous ideologies.

Second, if the whole idea is that one can hate the myriad crimes perpetrated in the name of Communism and still defend the 'theory' of Communism (a morally dubious claim, I think), how to explain the lack of response to the assorted idiots who still walk around in Che Guevara t-shirts? That guy was personally a mass-murderer, a literal hate-monger, and set up the mini-gulag system in Cuba that is still being employed today against AIDS victims, gays, political dissidents and what have you. Surely wearing this sort of shirt should garner the same result as wearing, say, a Himmler shirt. But does it?

OK, I've said my piece.

Hulkster said...

Man, every time an interesting discussion of lame-ass comic book cannon-fodder characters gets going, some Random Internet Dickweed has to come along and turn it into a sub-moronic rant about the evils of communism. I hate when that happens!

Ken Begg said...

Well, that's what we sub-moronic Random Internet Dickweeds do. Good to see our work being appreciated.

And of all the weird bugaboos, huh? Go figure.

Christopher said...

Hey, Ken!

You, know, my immediate response is that you couls say the exact same thing about Christianity as you said about communism.

How's that for controversial?

Anyway, i gotta go with the Gaurdsmen.

First of all, what kind of stunted aesthetic do you have to have to think the Rocket Reds look good? They look like giant first aid kits, fer cryin' out loud!

The Gaurdsmen halter top thing is weird, but if you see it from the front it just looks like their pecs are painted a different color and have extra armour. The Reds look like footballers who have been caught in giant foam takeout boxes no matter which angle you look at them from.

Also, their origin doesn't make much sense. I mean, aside from a Green Lantern showing such an incredibly low level of political sophistication, why do they need armour AND genetic engineering?

I mean, isn't one or the other enough?

Ken Begg said...

"You, know, my immediate response is that you could say the exact same thing about Christianity as you said about communism.

How's that for controversial?"

Really? I wouldn't consider that 'controversial' at all. That sounds like the kind of thing you'd hear in about any Starbucks in the county, especially one in a college town. Usually by that guy wearing the Che t-shirt I mentioned earlier. It's the kind of thing that would be said by people thinking it controversial when it was really just facile.

Anonymous said...

It's a good point that a Rocket Red got to join the Justice League while no Guardsman ever graduated to the Avengers. Sure, Dmitri hung around in the background a lot, but that was the fault of the writers. The few times the character did anything, he kicked butt. I'm surprised that no one had mentioned the most terrible hour of the Rockets Red...getting slaughtered by the Extremists in the pages of Justice League Europe. They displayed no tactics, no teamwork, nothing, they just flew in and got massacred.

The the first appearance of the Vault, with the Guardsmen guarding it, the Avengers were imprisoned there and escaped thanks to Spider-Woman II. I can't blame the Guardsmen for getting their butts kicked then, they were up against the Avengers, after all. Ditto for when Iron Man attacked the Vault to destroy their armor during the "Armor Wars". He designed the armor, after all, it makes sense Iron Man could take down the Guardsmen. But it's truly puzzling to see them not standing a chance against the likes of Venom, the Resistants, the Force of Nature, etc. The Guardsmen poor performance during the 'Acts of Vengeance' breakout instigated by Loki has been blamed on the fact that Stane International, not Stark International, made those versions of the suits (Couldn't Stark have sued Stane for that?) that were substandard. In some truly head-scratching scenes, the Guardsmen appear to forego using their super-strength, their repulsor blasts, and their flying ability in favor of running around shooting handguns. Either their batteries were dead or lazy writers/artists didn't depict them right.

It's pretty embarassing for the Guardsmen when the only person you remember them actually capturing is Jim Rhodes disguised as Electro, that he WANTED to be captured in order to infiltrate the Vault. Sad, just sad. Your tax dollars at work.

If I remember correctly, Venom was always kept in a sonic cell that kept the symbiote disrupted. Just how DID he escape 500 times from the Vault, anyway?

Son of Blog-El said...

First of all, what kind of stunted aesthetic do you have to have to think the Rocket Reds look good?

Oh yeah! That's what this post was about! I too will vote for the Guardsmen. They look better and they were setup to be hero-fodder.

The Rocket Reds were setup as villains and pretty much remain antagonists everytime they show up.

That would be a fight to see though...

patrick hamilton said...

I had completely forgotten about the roller skates! I'd hate to see what would happen if the Mandroids faced the awesome power of the Rocket Racer!

Christopher said...

"Really? I wouldn't consider that 'controversial' at all. That sounds like the kind of thing you'd hear in about any Starbucks in the county, especially one in a college town. Usually by that guy wearing the Che t-shirt I mentioned earlier. It's the kind of thing that would be said by people thinking it controversial when it was really just facile."

So... wait, how is it facile?

Wait, what does facile even mean?

"Main Entry: fac·ile
Pronunciation: 'fa-s&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle French, from Latin facilis, from facere to do -- more at DO
1 a (1) : easily accomplished or attained (a facile victory) (2) : SHALLOW, SIMPLISTIC (I am not concerned...with offering any facile solution for so complex a problem -- T. S. Eliot) b : used or comprehended with ease c : readily manifested and often lacking sincerity or depth (facile tears)"


Oh, yeah, it is facile.

But no less true.

It's not a point about how Christianity is, like, poisoning people's minds, man, and we need to throw off the shackles of religion.

It's part of the half-assed socratic method, intended to help approach your question (Why do people defend communism) from a different, helpful angle.

If we divorce your question from the specific ideology and make it into a generic one:

"Why would people support an ideology that has always failed and lead to the deaths of millions when used to run a society?"

The question becomes much less perplexing.

And, if we plug Christianity in there, the answer becomes rather blindingly obvious.

As for the comic books, I'm surprised that Venom is strong enough to yank the heads off of the Gaurdsmen; I woulda pegged him at more of the lower end of the strength scale. I mean, I know Spidey couldn't rip the head off a Gaurdsman.

On the other hand, I truly don't know from Venom.

Haole said...

re: Mandroids, I always thought they were designed to get their asses handed to them. Stark designed them well.

As for the Guardsman/Rocket Red/Communism/USSR/Christianity debate, all I can say is: The Credit Card Soldiers. How awesome were they? A bunch of crazed Vietnam Vets are tricked by the Titanium Man into putting on a bunch of gold-colored suits that can fold down into the size and weight of a credit card. They use them to rob Wall Street, until Sif and Beta Ray Bill come around to wreck shit up. Or at least that's what I remember.

And that is why I think Communism is bad, b/c it fools Americans who sacrified for their country into working for theiving Rooskies. Consequently, the Guardsmen are good. Plus I like green.

MGK said...

I am amazed that there is a discussion. Anybody who disses the Rocket Reds sucks ass. I'm sorry, but this is an incontrovertible truth.

The point to be made here is that the Rocket Reds and Guardsmen aren't super heroes. Super heroes don't have identical uniforms. Also, they usually have names you can remember. These are background characters whose asses are meant to be kicked, and for story purposes that's fine.

But here's the thing. The Guardsmen are essentially high-tech security guards. Nothing wrong with that, mind you. And yes, their costumes are quite styling, and look very snazzy in that green trim. But, when you get down to it, all the Guardsmen really do is guard a prison for supervillains. They are security guards. They just stay back in their prison home, chill, and when Venom or somebody breaks out they get their asses kicked.

But the Rocket Reds are closer to being firemen. When Mother Russia is in danger, who saves it? The Justice League, right, but who goes in there first and get their asses kicked to show how bad the bad guys are? The Rocket Reds. During Invasion, who fought the Okaaran Warlords - arguably the toughest army of the entire invasion armada - street to street in what was clearly an homage to Stalingrad? The Rocket Reds. Did a Guardsman ever get to join the Avengers? Of course not, because that would have been stupid. But did a Rocket Red get to join the Justice League? Oh HELL yeah he did! And he was awesome.

One of the very few redeeming moments of Infinite Crisis came during the Villains United extra-special finishing comic. Oracle calls up every superhero she can find because all the supervillains are attacking at once in the biggest villain coordinated strike of all time - and I mean, everybody, down to El Diablo, official Hispanic Guy With a Motorcycle, Whip And Mask superhero. And in Russia, what happens? A bunch of retired Rocket Reds knock out the guards of the armory where the mothballed Rocket Red armor is stored - commenting all the while about how they're probably going to be executed for this if they aren't killed - strap on their armor and fly out to fight the bad guys.

Let's see a bunch of pussy-ass Guardsmen do THAT, eh?

SanctumSanctorumComix said...

OK... I'm going to bring the PEACE to the whole communism / naziism / Religion debate with the SAGE words of one Ferris Bueller important parts are bold:

*ahem*

"I did have a test today. That wasn't bullshit. It's on European socialism. I mean, really, what's the point? I'm not European, I don't plan on being European, so who gives a crap if they're socialists?

They could be fascist anarchists. That still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car. Not that I condone fascism, or any ism for that matter. Isms in my opinion are not good.

A person should not believe in an ism — he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: "I don't believe in Beatles—I just believe in me."


A good point there. Of course, he was the Walrus. I could be the Walrus—I'd still have to bum rides off of people." — Ferris Bueller

AND he, in turn, quoted LENNON (not Lennin) who had written "IMAGINE", a wonderful, (possibly naive) vision of what the world could be like in a free "for the people" type of society.

Call it PURE communism, call it a world-wide commune, call it living for your fellow man and not one's self... or call it the foolish dream of a rich and pampered "artist" who was having a hard time living in the real world.

Sadly, can a noble dream still be pure even if the execution of it is flawed by human nature?

The answer to that question, like that of "How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie-roll center of a tootsie-pop?" may forever be beyond us due to human frailty.

"The world may never know."

Thank you...good NIGHT!

~P~
P-TOR

Ununnilium said...

The thing is, this really wasn't the time or place to start a debate on Communism in the first place.

I mean, someone made an offhand comment about Communism possibly being a good thing in the middle of talking about comic book characters, and suddenly it's pulled out and made into a lecture on the sins of Communism. It's totally tangential to the subject at hand, and I'd be annoyed if someone was using my blog comments section to soapbox about their cause celebre.

If the blog post, or even the comment responded to, were about someone saying that all governments should become socialist, or that they thought the USSR was wrong for abandoning that system, or something, then it would be the perfect context for such a debate. As it is, it distracts from the fun superhero stuff.

And I've seen this in all kinds of places, too; a thread going on about this subject or that, when all of a sudden one person makes a long post about something at total right angles from the subject at hand, drawing everyone else into the debate. It's annoying no matter where it is.

Anyway. So as not to distract any more, I'll just suggest an Amalgam version of the Armor Wars storyline. Maybe moosh it up with the whole Emerald Twilight/Parallax thing.

jude said...

Another vote for hench week...

My love of all things X!

Dint the Hellfire Club have some cool looking henches?

Anonymous said...

The Rocket Reds are currently back to their original look in the pages of both Green Lantern and 52 where they are a part of Black Adam's Coalition.

After the fall of Communism, in the pages of Chase there was a third stripped down version of the Rocket Red armor worn by gangsters that worked for the Russian Mafia. They were even selling the suits on the black market.

The Bloodpack miniseries had a group of guys in armor called "Sweepers" who died a lot.

Nick said...

Oh good gosh I own a copy of that New Warriors, didn't think anybody had that.

lazy_cg said...

you can almost feel the pure terror that the guardsmen are feeling when they realize that venoms loose.

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