Tuesday, February 28, 2006

KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT Marvel Comics, 1987

(Note: I am going to spoil this story for you. If you haven't read Kraven's Last Hunt - and you should - do yourself a favor and don't read past the SPOILER ALERT. You will thank me.)

Kraven the Hunter is one of those villains that could fall on either side of the Cool Median, depending on whether you have taste or are stupid. Kraven is an eccentric/psycopathic Russian noble big game hunter who dresses in a Siegfried & Roy outfit and tests his considerable skills by hunting the most challenging game of all: superheroes! He basically looks like a big gay lion tamer. I happen to think Kraven is cool as hell.

If you know anyone who thinks that Kraven the Hunter belongs on the Uncool Side of the Median, punch them in the neck without warning. When/if they have regained the ability to breathe, gently set them in a chair, get them a glass of water, and hand them a copy of the trade paperback Kraven’s Last Hunt. If they still think that Kraven sucks after reading it, curse them and call them a donkey and strike them with the bottom of your shoe.

How can you not like this story? I mean, look at that cover from part two (above)! Kraven standing triumphant over Spider-Man’s grave, screaming, "MORTAL KOMBAAAT!" That’s what comics are all about right there.

Kraven’s Last Hunt is a psychological thriller in which Spider-Man’s old adversary Kraven, the maniac Russian hunter, goes totally batshit-psycho-Capt. Insano and tries to “kill”, then in effect become Spider-Man. Kraven also spends a lot of his time naked in this storyline – dude gets naked more than Paris Hilton. Oh, snap!

Kraven’s Last Hunt, aka "Fearful Symmetry" (and I may be wrong here) came out on a weekly basis in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Web of Spider-Man in 1987. The creative team of writer JM DeMatteis and artists Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod remained the same for all six-issues, which is as it should be, but I remember thinking it was kind of strange the way the story ping-ponged between Spider titles. One month you’d be reading about Spider-Man chasing Slyde or somebody and the next month, you’d get buck naked Kraven.

DeMatteis’s story is operatic and grandiose and deep and creepy all at the same time, and his approach is effective a good 85% of the time. The rest of the time the script comes across as a little pretentious and overly enamored with symbolism. Like they say, your mileage may vary. I am now officially a blogger because I have used that line: “your mileage may vary.”
"Kraven also spends a lot of his time naked in this storyline..."

What makes Kraven’s Last Hunt a significant comic story is that it was arguably one of the first of its kind: a multi-issue event storyline built around the death of a character that was delivered in a solemn, self-consciously artsy way and was “written for the trade,” i.e., paced to last five or six issues. These days every other issue is “The Death of Speedball, part 7 of 18”, but back in the day, Kraven’s Last Hunt stood out from the crowd.

Penciller Mike Zeck does a fantastic job conveying the rain-drenched mood of the story. I’ve always been a big fan of Zeck’s muscular, well-staged art, and in Kraven’s Last Hunt he shows that he’s equally facile at capturing facial expressions – he really nails Kraven’s raving mania and his more subtle emotions. DeMatteis’s script clearly allowed Zeck room to work – they weren’t afraid to take their time laying out some of the more dramatic sequences. In some comics this kind of cinematic pacing feels like padding, but here it feels right. Check out these panels from part one’s funeral scene, where Kraven and his helpers bury the “dead” Spider-Man:

That’s some good shit right there.

One criticism I do have of Kraven’s Last Hunt is that on occasion the narrative captions clutter the page and bog down the flow of the story. When you throw dialogue into the mix, you’re asking the reader to keep track of the visual elements on the page, the dialogue balloons and the narrative captions all at the same time. Here’s a beautifully drawn sequence where Kraven is about to shoot Spider-Man that has captions which “compete” with the art:

The red captions represent Spider-Man’s subconscious or primal inner-dialogue and the yellow captions represent Spider-Man’s surface thoughts. There are other parts of the story where the panels get even busier, but I thought this was such a pretty sequence that I had to throw it in.

Perhaps I should mention something about the actual story.
The aging Kraven seeks redemption and final victory over his longtime foe Spider-Man – not by merely defeating Spider-Man, but by becoming Spider-Man. Kraven “kills” and buries Spidey, then dons his foe’s mask, symbolically eating the flesh and wearing the skin of his enemy. While Spider-Man lies in his grave, Kraven takes to the streets, brutally fighting crime as Spider-Man. In his ultimate act of triumph, Kraven captures the monstrous rodent-man Vermin, whom previously Spider-Man could only defeat with the help of Captain America.

As you might imagine, Spidey eventually returns from the grave, and boy is he pissed off. Kraven shares his triumph with Spider-Man, and then sets Vermin free to kill again. Spider-Man must overcome the trauma of being buried alive in a climactic sewer battle with the beast.

The whole story is very Jungian and heavy on the symbolism. There’s lots of talk of “becoming the Spider” etc. Sometimes the visual metaphors are a little heavy-handed, like this sequence where Vermin gets the drop on Spider-Man, which is intercut with a rat eating a spider:

First of all, do rats really grab their prey like that? What is that, a monkey rat? Secondly, the symbolism is SO in-your-face that it’s almost patronizing.

These are minor quibbles, however. For the most part, Kraven’s Last Hunt hits what it’s aiming for, and even when it doesn’t work for me, I have to admire the skill and craftsmanship involved. The real achievement of DeMatteis’s story is that he transforms Kraven from a second-string villain into a tragic, twistedly noble character who is totally out of step with the world around him. He has divorced himself from the mundane and found honor and meaning in the hunt.

And now that his final hunt is over, Kraven blows his own head off with a rifle:

“They said my mother was insane.”

For me, this haunting, beautifully done scene is the true climax of Kraven’s Last Hunt, and Spider-Man’s fight with Vermin is more of a denouement. When I first read this I was absolutely floored.

Sure, I have some minor beefs with some of the writing, but there are damn few superhero comics that pack the emotional punch of Kraven’s Last Hunt. In the span of six-issues, DeMatteis and Zeck paint a fascinating portrait of madness and misplaced nobility – and then they crush it like you would step on a spider.

Loved it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Join me in making fun of this stupid ad, won't you?

This ad is dumb as hell.

Remember this? (click to enlarge) It ran on the back of Marvel comics in 1987, and featured "humungous rock star of the universe" Meatloaf* trying to raise support for the Special Olympics with the help of the Marvel heroes... and YOU!

I don't know where to start. The art? As good a place as any. Check out the first panel: Meatloaf is rocking out like a Bat out of Hell and either a) crying or b) sweating like a pigman. Here's a tip, Meatloaf: stay cool at concerts by not dressing in turtlenecks and overcoats. And I'm no musician, but look how he's holding his guitar. Can you really play a guitar like that, or is that just a masturbation sight gag that the artist snuck in under the radar?

Plus, look at Meatloaf's dialogue in the first panel: "Special Olympians are the real heroes, etc" Clearly this is a thought balloon, meaning that Meatloaf is thinking this dialogue as he is jamming out to "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." It seems more likely that Meatloaf would be thinking about that bucket of fried chicken he's going to inhale after his gig, but let's not quibble. The point is, Meatloaf is thinking the dialogue, meaning nobody can hear him.

But in the next panel, he cries out: "But who's going to help me?" Help him do what? Wouldn't Meatloaf's question seem bizarrely out of context? Am I overthinking this?

OK, then the Marvel heroes and a bunch of kids arrive, because if there's one thing young kids dig on, it's the sweaty, passionate Broadway rock of Meatloaf. Sign these kids and superheroes up: they're going to help Meatloaf raise some $$$ for the Special Olympics! Yeah, like the gray Hulk gives a shit about the Special Olympics. If I were Iron Man, I'd just invent another death ray, sell it to Syria, and give the blood money to Meatloaf. Problem solved.

I'm done. Thanks for playing.

Next: Kraven's Last Hunt. Finally.

*I actually kind of like Meatloaf, I'll admit it. You ever see the trucker movie Black Dog, with Patrick Swayze? That movie fucking RULED. Meatloaf was in that.

Happy 6th Blogiversary to neilalien!

Doesn't that guy look like David Duchovny? Look, and he won a ribbon! Rock on!

Just a quick shout-out to my homey neilalien, who celebrated his 6th anniversary of blogging and carrying the torch of Dr. Strange love this past weekend. I've been enjoying neilalien's unique brand of linkblogging and his marvelously myopic devotion to the Sorceror Supreme for years now, and I urge you to drop by his online sanctum sanctorum and take a look.
Congratulations my mysterious friend!

Friday, February 24, 2006

No post for you!

I was going to do a post today about the Spider-Man story Kraven's Last Hunt but I didn't because I suck. I suck so bad.

It's been a busy week for Dave - I have to do a presentation today in front of the VP here at the Large Unnamed Seattle-Based Corporation where I work. Every night this week I have staggered home, done my daddy duties, and then passed out. I really meant to scan some panels from Kraven's Last Hunt last night, but sleep pulled at me like undertow, and I didn't. Briefly I toyed with the idea of just posting an all-text review of Kraven's Last Hunt, but who wants to read a post with no pictures? Not me.

So to recap: I suck, I will post my Kraven thing soon, I suck so bad.

Here's a picture of some woman dressed up as She-Ra as a consolation prize:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

THE PUNISHER #2 Marvel Comics, 1987

This is the second issue of The Punisher's first ongoing series, by writer Mike Baron and artist Klaus Janson, published way back in 1987, when The Punisher was still cool.
I don't feel like typing today, so instead I will provide you with a hastily-drawn visual recap of the comic. Here, then, is The Punisher #2:

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Colonia: On Into the Great Lands is so clearly a work of love that you can smell it. This comic book stinks of love, my friends.

Created by writer/artist Jeff Nicholson, Colonia is a story set in a weird parallel 17th century America full of mythical beasts and figures of folklore, pirates, fish-men, and all manner of trippy stuff. It is an idiosyncratic, charmingly eccentric comic that clearly reflects the creator’s obsessions, but it works as a broad all-ages fantasy at the same time. Colonia has all the eccentric, surreal whimsy of a Terry Gilliam movie.

On Into the Great Lands collects issue 6-11 of Nicholson’s bi-monthly homebrew comic. It’s the continuing story of Jack and his two redneck uncles, lost in time and trapped in a mythical New World that is fascinating and unnerving…

Nicholson has a deft sense of timing and a quirky sense of humor that serves Colonia well. He’s not afraid to spend a couple panels on a joke or a bit of droll dialogue, but it never feels like he’s padding the comic.

Jake and his uncles and his talking duck travel reluctantly with a bunch of pirates – most notably Cinnabar, a pompous and greedy pirate who is my favorite character in Colonia. Cinnabar would be played by Gary Oldman in the movie.

The thing I like best about Colonia is that it is the product of Nicholson’s singular artistic vision. In the foreword in this volume, he talks about starting the series in 1999 and writing and penciling and inking and lettering and marketing each issue while holding down a day job. He quit his job and produced Colonia full-time, but as Big Daddy Kane tells us, pimpin’ ain’t easy. Nicholson returned to day job land and is slowly producing Colonia by hand – the next volume may be in a year or so.

This is a guy who digs comics, and digs pirates and the New World and history and all that stuff and he just decided to bust a move and make his own comic. Jeff Nicholson’s off in a corner somewhere sipping Earl Grey tea and quietly cranking out more Colonia pages and I think that’s cool as hell.

In a few years when the next volume comes out, I’ll be there, full-on.

Monday, February 20, 2006

No Post Today

Too busy.
Busy busy busy.
Instead of posting I leave you with a bunch of pictures of heavy metal superstar Ronnie James Dio.

"Stay sexy, Cleveland." xoxo Dio

Look into the face of evil, my friends.

"...and after he blessed my +5 vorpal longsword, Dio vanished in a puff of brimstone!"

"I slayed Aldo Nova with this burning finger, mortal fool!"

Are we evil or divine? Only Dio knows.

One ten hit-dice fireball, coming up!

Jazz-hands, Ronnie James Dio style.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Linkblogging for beginners

Wherein Dave tries his hand at the grown-up game of linkblogging and shows you a bunch of stuff you have probably already seen already. I'm notoriously behind-the-curve on shit like this - to date I have never been able to show Kevin Church at beaucoupkevin.com anything new on the Internet.

Dave: "Hey, Kevin - check THIS out! It's hilarious dude!"

Kevin: "Seen it."

Dave: "But what about
THIS? So funny!"

Kevin: "Stop emailing me or I will get a restraining order."

So here we go:

Midget cock-punching terrorists - a very real threat to national security.

A huge underwater explosion - just what it sounds like.

Cloud Starchaser's Heroic Destiny Squad - a real superhero. Really unmedicated, that is. But more power to him.

Chuck Austen defends himself Part One and Part Two - at CBR. I know, you've seen it. Sue me.

Klingons for Christ - P'Taak!

Panexa - the pill for anything.

Portraits that will make you gasp in horror - now that's a lot of make-up.

What Should I Put On The Fence - random stuff chained to fence in London.

Killer Japanese Seizure Robots - epileptic much? Then don't look.

Alkulukuja Paskova Karhu, the prime number shitting bear - just what it sounds like.

Harajuku girls (and boys) - costumed weirdness in Tokyo.

Antonio Banderas: He Blogs For You - I loves the Antonio.

There, that wasn't so bad was it?

The Ethics of Pimping (aka BUY PURE HERO STUFF!)

I’m not sure what the accepted norm is regarding comic bloggers and swag.

On the rare occasion I get stuff in the mail from people with the hopes that I will plug their book or whatnot. If the comic feels like something I wouldn’t normally read or post about, I won’t mention it. It would look strange if all of a sudden I posted a rave review about the latest manga teen romance comic, wouldn’t it?

But what if I get something that I honestly like? Am I a sell-out if I pimp a comic or product that was sent to me that I actually enjoy? I mean, it’s not like I’m making any money off of Dave’s Long Box, nor have I proclaimed any journalistic or objective critical standards. I don’t know, does pimping make me a sell-out? Comments, please.

I guess my rule of thumb is that I will pimp something that I actually would use or enjoy. For instance, I have no trouble steering folks to Big Monkey Comics because I like Scipio and Devon and I think they have a pimp-worthy enterprise. I also have no trouble pimping Pure Hero Performance Apparel because they sent me a kick-ass shirt that I actually will wear.

Rob at Pure Hero is a swell guy; we’ve corresponded a few times via email. Recently Rob sent me a cool Fantastic Four shirt that I honestly love. It’s high quality, made of this cool shiny material, and it’s got a big old-school FF logo right there on the front. I wore it just the other night to go pick up some diapers and Cherry Garcia ice cream and I didn’t feel like a nerd, I felt kind of cool. And I’m like, an adult.

So there you go: I heartily endorse Pure Hero, who have just started up and are producing tees and cycling jerseys and whatnot with licensed Marvel character logos. They do not suck. Go visit them. I also heartily endorse Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, which is crazy delicious.

There: I pimped from the heart and I don’t feel dirty.
Next: I try linkblogging, and link to a bunch of shit you've seen already.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Dude Looks Like a Lady Week would not be complete without a look at Justice League Task Force #7 and #8, Peter David’s notorious gender-bending “Valley of the Daals” storyline. Actually, I don’t know if the comics are notorious, but they are noteworthy.

Here’s a little background: Justice League Task Force was sort of an anthology title featuring multiple issue storylines with different teams of heroes. This particular storyline is a screwball comedy by writer Peter David and artists Sal Velluto and Jeff Albrecht that stars J’onn J’onnz and an all-female team of Leaguers (Vixen, Dolphin, Wonder Woman, and Maxima). The team is sent to find a canister holding a deadly virus that is in the hands of an all-female, all-green tribe of women known as the Daals, (...) who live in a volcano or something. In the interest of smooth negotiations, J’onn uses his shape shifting powers to turn himself into a woman. Wouldn’t you know it, the queen of the Daals falls in love with green female Joan J’onzz, and hilarity ensues. The shape shifted Manhunter must marry the queen in order to find out where the canister is!
Aye yai yai!

In case you couldn't tell, the whole scenario isn’t taken terribly seriously. For instance, the virus they’re all searching for is called the MacGuffin Virus. These comics are basically just a chance for Peter David to riff on the situation with sitcomy set-up-and delivery jokes. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, mind you. I gotta admire Peter David's chutzpah. He was trying to push things as far as he could with the material, particularly with this discussion about life in an all-female society:

You go, Wonder Woman! You go downtown!

Apparently some content in the books was just too much for DC – not me, the comic company. Check out the cover (at the top of this post) with nubile Joan J’onzz chained, menaced by serpents. Velluto’s original cover art, with Joan J’onzz in smaller bikini bottoms, was too caliente for those squares at Warner Bros, and they colored Joan to look like he/she was wearing adult incontinence undergarments. His/her belly is blue! I call that the De-Nudifying Effect, but I like Tom the Dog's term “Editorial Swimwear” better. Do you see what I'm talking about?

One of the other obvious flinches is the wedding scene, when Joan J’onzz and the presumably female queen seal their union with a kiss. A kiss that takes place off-panel!

What the hell? They can’t show girls kissing? The entire comic is about gender swapping and lesbianism and they can't show a kiss? I mean, I know this came out in 1994, but I say let my green lesbian sisters kiss!

Anyway, on their wedding night the queen reveals to J’onn the mystery of the Daals – the all-female race is sustained by the queen, who has a penis.

I’ll say it again – she has a penis.

Vixen: “Wow, y’know, I guessed the secret of The Crying Game but this I never saw coming.”

Long story short: the League team finds the virus container and everything is swell. The queen who has a penis is heart-broken by Joan’s betrayal – she loved Joan J’onzz at first sight. But then he saves her from a volcano and everything is cool. That's realistic; I have found in my own life that past transgressions are forgiven when you save somebody from a volcano.
In the end, J'onn transforms back into a woman and kisses the queen – I guess chicks can peck each other on the cheek in DC books, but no tongue – and then he flies off as Aerosmith cranks on the soundtrack: "Aaah! Aaah! Dude looks like a lady!"

Monday, February 13, 2006

GLORY #8 Image Comics, 1995

(Before we start, can I just draw your attention to Glory's knee pads on the cover? Holy crap, those are serious knee pads. She looks like a Cimmerian goalie.)

One of the things I liked about Image Comics in the Nineties was that damn near every comic was printed in color on beautiful glossy paper. DC and Marvel busted out the expensive stock for special projects, but Image rocked that shit every time. Every month Image Comics offered, in glorious shiny color, the work of superstar artists who had made names for themselves working on newsprint books. For a little more money than a Marvel or DC book you could get a slick, well-produced Jim Lee comic book written by somebody’s cousin starring… well, who cares? Fuckin’ Jim Lee is drawing that bad boy!

Conversely, one of the things I hated about Image Comics in the Nineties was that damn near every comic was printed in color on beautiful glossy paper -- even the shitty ones.

I might have not felt stupid buying an issue of, say, The Deadly Duo if it was printed on cheap newsprint, but I felt like an idiot after shelling out three bucks on a handsomely printed issue of Team Youngblood with a holo cover. I have a hard time throwing away something that cost me three bucks – I’m of Scottish descent – and as a consequence, I have a tragic quantity of mid 90’s Image Comics taking up room and reminding me of past folly, reminding me of that one hot Wednesday in the summer of 1995 when I wanted a comic book and damn it, I didn’t care which one!

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Glory #8 is a shitty comic book with high production values - except for the art, which sucks, and the writing, which sucks, too. Glory #8 is printed on nice paper, anyway, and has the virtue of featuring Sex Changed Superheroes (hi Google users!), thus earning it a spot in Dude Looks Like a LadyWeek!

This issue of Glory is the gripping finale of a saga that started in Youngblood #3, a gender-swapping fantasy that literally had to be called… wait for it… here it comes…


Typing that makes me want to stab somebody other than myself. Let me try it again: Babewatch. Yep, a homicidal rage is welling up inside me like bile. Remove all pets from the area. This comic is so stupid it makes me deadly to pets!

Here’s the plot: a muumuu wearing villainess named Diabolique uses Wacky Magic to turn all the Youngblood studs into women and puts them under her hypnotic spell. The all-female, all-brainwashed Youngblood beats up Glory, the super-powered princess from the all-female island of Amazonia (seriously), until she teams up with all your favorite Youngblood heroines (like, um… that one girl, the one with the breasts and the armor) to kick ass. They stop Diabolique’s evil plan to attack Amazonia, change the Youngblood heroes back into puking men, and Wonde—excuse me, Glory is happy. The end.

Here’s a good shot of the gender-warping kookiness that is Babewatch!

See, I told you Diabolique wore a muumuu. Seriously, what is she wearing? Does it have a fan under there to make it blow about? It’s like this huge Shelly-Winters-in-Palm-Springs thing. Not flattering at all.

One of the problems of this comic, aside from it sucking, is that unless you’re a huge Youngblood/Extreme fan, it’s kind of hard to figure out who these people even are, let alone care that they’ve been turned into women. I mean, if Batman got turned into a woman, that would be something, because you know something about Batman and how he might react and wouldn’t that be amusing. But if Cougar or Troll get turned into women, I’m just happy that I get their names straight.

Fortunately it’s easy to keep track of everyone because Glory follows the time-honored tradition of naming your opponent as you punch them:

Glory #8 – not a good comic. The Youngblood heroes get turned into women solely to make interesting opponents and to show some ass. The tired, hackneyed story is matched only by the rushed and joyless art. It remains a solid entry into Dude Looks Like a Lady Week, even if I do feel a little sick now…

Off-Topic: Beware the Juggernaut, My Son!

We'll get back to Dude Looks Like a Lady Week later today; for now here's a picture of super-heavyweight Nikolai Valuev from the country of Holy Shit, Look At The Size Of That Guy.

Friday, February 10, 2006

MANTRA #2, Malibu Comics, 1993

Welcome back to Dude Looks Like a Lady Week here at Dave’s Long Box, where we take a look at gender-swapping in comics as well as the phenomenon we call Man’s Mind Trapped in Woman’s Body, as embodied by today’s entry: Mantra #2 from Malibu Comics. That sentence is going to get me some Google hits, I guarantee it.

Mantra is about a guy in a woman’s body.

Written by Mike “Batman and the Goddamn Outsiders” Barr, Mantra was one of the more popular titles in Malibu Comics’ superhero universe. I’m using the word “popular” in a relative sense – Malibu’s entire line of books withered and died in the Great Extinction of the Nineties. Mantra was about a bad-ass warrior guy who gets killed and reincarnated into the body of Eden Blake, a beautiful woman with two horrible, horrible kids. Eden gets these magic artifacts – a mask, a sword, a cloak – and begins kicking ass with her new magic powers. Wacky complications ensue, however, because Mantra is AHH! AHH! DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LAY-DAY! At least, that’s how I remember it.

I’m not going to diss Mantra because I kind of liked it. The first dozen or so issues were just good solid Boob War fun, and then it started to suck. The writing got slack, they drifted from the original gender-identity-crisis theme, and the book was plagued by irregular art. But for a while it was OK.

Plus, Mantra took a lot of showers.

Eventually Malibu re-launched Mantra but with a different lead character, and then Mantra went from “kind of sucking” straight to “full-on sucking.” Instead of Dude Looks Like a Lady, they went with a nubile 16-year old girl in lingerie who gets punched in the stomach a lot, which is not as high concept of a premise if you ask me. I should do a post about NuMantra – she gets punched in the gut in every other panel! Seriously, it’s like a strange fetish comic or something.

Mantra is told in first-person narrative; we get the male character’s thoughts in captions where he often ruefully comments on being a woman. Barr makes it clear that the male character within Mantra’s female body is kind of an asshole. He’s not very nice to Eden’s horrible, horrible kids and his actions are influenced by the weird stereotypes and misconceptions he has about women.

In addition to fighting bad guys, Mantra has all sorts of minor misadventures, like putting on a bra, applying make-up, going on a girl’s night out, feeling "not so fresh," etc. When I read the first issue I remember wondering how long I’d have to wait before she tripped in her high heels.

Ah, there it is in the second issue.

Mantra is kind of like Morrison’s The Bulleteer or Dark Horse’s Ghost, in that it wants to comment on objectification of women and whatnot, but also wants to have cheesecake art, too. I mean, it’s one thing to invest your work with subtext and meta-commentary, but I mean, come on: boobs.

Wow, I made it through the entire post without directly commenting about the actual comic itself! Hurray! Hurray Dave! Hurray boobs!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

GUY GARDNER, WARRIOR #42 DC Comics, 1996

This post may be NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Not because there is any nudity or dead bodies or anything, but because you might be embarassed looking at this stuff at work. Try explaining to your Mormon co-worker why you're looking at pictures of sex-changed Guy Gardner.
Welcome to Dude Looks Like A Lady Week, where we celebrate superhero sex changes and the eternal problem of the Man Trapped In A Woman’s Body. Both are weirdly common motifs in mainstream comics as well as real life. Sometimes I feel like a man trapped in the aged Brigitte Nielsen’s body, and it totally creeps me out. Anyway, we’re going to spend the ENTIRE WEEK on our Dude Looks Like A Lady theme!

Yes, I know it’s Thursday.

Our first comic is Guy Gardner, Warrior #42, where our hero the redneck ex-Green Lantern is somehow turned into a LADY by his old foe, the shape-changing reality-molesting Dementor. There he/she is on the cover, where it cleverly says “Gal” instead of “Guy” because DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY!

I’m going to have to find a link to Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady” so when you click on the text you hear Steven Tyler screaming “ahh ahh dude looks like a lady.” That’s the effect I’m going for: you’re reading the post in your normal “voice” when all of a sudden – screaming big-lipped Steven Tyler! “DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY!!!”

Sorry, that was really stupid. Let’s put it behind us and move on.

You know what else is really stupid? Guy Gardner, Warrior #42 It was coming towards the end of the Guy Gardner series, which had been re-tooled as Warrior when Guy developed alien bio-powers and became more of a he-man high adventure hero by writer Beau Smith, the Toughest Man in Comics. This era of Guy Gardner usually featured art by Mitch Byrd or, as is the case with Warrior #42, art by Marc Campos of Saliva Strand Syndrome fame. I’m going to be delicate and say that both men have done better work than this issue.

The story, let’s get back to the story. Guy wakes up as a girl – a buxom, wasp-waist female version of himself. He receives an invitation to a trap – a fashion show that Dementor has taken over. The shapeshifting villain is holding all the models hostage, and will kill them unless…

Unless the sex-changed Guy Gardner shows up and puts on a private fashion show for Dementor, parading around in skimpy outfits.

That’s a sentence I never thought I would have to write in my life, ever.

I’m serious about the whole fashion show thing. Check it out:

You’re probably thinking the same thing I was thinking when I first saw this: “Wha-HUHHH??” I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be sexy, or funny, or what the hell that is supposed to be. What is the ideal reader reaction to this scene? I can’t figure out what they were shooting for with the whole let’s-give-our-butch-hero-a sex-change-and-make-him-strut-around-in-lingerie thing. It seems… creepy.

But perhaps I’m overreacting.

In addition to the cheesecake fashion show, we get a few morsels of “humor,” like Guy trying to adjust to the reality of having breasts:

Man it is a good thing he is not pregnant! That would be hilarious. I love that panel, because he/she looks so shocked and outraged that he/she found breasts there.

The entire comic is a framing device for the fashion show sequence and manly Guy’s humiliation and objectification by Dementor. The sexual politics of this comic are confusing to say the least, but I’m pretty sure that women are not being portrayed in a kind way here. The whole sex-changed Guy Gardner thing is handled in an awkward and juvenile way – like I’m one to talk. I can just imagine this comic getting into the hands of a confused pubescent young man and fucking with his head but good. “She’s hot, but she’s really a dude! Wait, aren’t all women whores? What’s happening to meee?!”

Eventually a character named Martika, who is like Zsa Zsa Gabor with psychic powers, arrives and does something and Guy gets changed back to Guy and it’s all very tiresome and rote. Thankfully, our beloved Guy returns to us in his normal manly not-gay form.

No, really. Guy Gardner: not gay.

He looks like the love child of the Ultimate Warrior and the Indian from the Village People. Damn, and look at the arms on that Guy! His biceps are bigger than his skull! Now that is burly, and not gay.

I think changing the gender of your protagonist is the final, feeble attempt at survival by desperate creators, one final attempt at turning things around. Think “Turnabout Intruder.” Let's consider Guy Garner, Warrior #42 as Exhibit A and turn our attention next to a comic whose entire premise is Man Trapped in Woman's Body, as Dude Looks Like A Lady Week continues....

But before we move on, I present The Official Dave's Long Box "The Pain" Award to this comic. Well-deserved.