Thursday, March 27, 2014

COSTUME DRAMA : WHEN SUPERMAN TURNED YELLOW


Action Comics No.236 – Superman’s New Uniform
New Adventures of Superboy No.18 – January 1981
There’s probably no more iconic superhero costume in the history of the genre than Superman’s, but that didn't keep ‘em from tricking it out like a tile floor in the Shining hotel but wearing a red belt. Likewise, that didn't hinder the happenings of Action Comics No.236, January 1958, where Superman ditched his familiar red-and-blues for something that looked a little like a banana blowing a spit bubble.

When Professor Xavier Carlton ask Superman to doff his familiar togs so the scientist can test an exploding robot (“Fantastische, he explodes exactly as I hoped! Muzzer vill be so pleased” I imagine him saying so that my use of quotation marks won’t be entirely misleading), the Man of Steel leaves the premises in an ersatz suit poorly engineered to handle the extremes of super-exertions common to everyday heroics. Turns out Xavier Carlton is actually evil scientist Lex Luthor, which is something I’m sure Superman would have noticed if only he’d had any kind of super-ability relating to seeing through disguises, hearing and recognizing individual heartbeats, or generally having any sort of super-senses which would make a rubber mask and fright wig and unacceptable effort to delude him.

When the phony supersuit begins to fall apart, split at the seams, catch fire and just generally unravel like a sweater in an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, Superman returns to the professor who blames the suddenly shoddy workmanship on his exploding robot experiment and makes it up to Superman by creating a replacement costume out of a life raft and gumball machine.

Now every rescue at sea is a PARTY! ♫ UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ ♫

Now decked out in the traditional super-villain secondary palette, astronaut bubble helmet (with a hole in it so Superman can use his superbreath, so WHAT IS THE POINT?), and “SUPERMAN” emblazoned across the chest, Superman is now in possession of a costume which features the following accessories:
  • Wings on his boots, so he doesn’t make any sort of flying noise, which according to this story is “WHOOSH”. Maybe he just has wind. Also, the wings are powered by atomic motors on his ankles, so I’m sure that won’t ever be a problem.
  • A radio receiver and transmitter in his helmet, which is handy for a guy with super hearing and super ventriloquism. 
  • It glows in the dark
  • Gloves. For that evening look.
  • A giant green ANTI KRYPTONITE BELT which is labeled as such so as to make it pretty much the first thing you’re going to want to take off the guy and also it’s lead-lined so Superman can’t see through it, but I guess he ain’t care? 

Naturally the anti-kryptonite belt is LOADED with Kryptonite, like OOPS! ALL KRYPTONITEBERRIES loaded, and eventually the lead chips away slowly exposing Superman to the stuff and casually snuffing him, allowing Luthor to show up in another rubber mask and Superman’s costume pretending to be the real Superman, which wouldn’t have been part of my plan if I were in charge of this. Just shoot the guy, super-genius, we got stuff to do.

Here’s some things which could have been on the costume, but weren’t:

  • Clown shoes
  • An Elizabethan collar
  • A codpiece with built-in jacob’s ladder
  • An aqualung full of pancake batter and another one full of maple syrup, strapped to his back underneath his cape and feeding out through nozzles along his sleeves so he can make pancakes for hungry orphans with a mere gesture, if he ever stumbles across any.
  • His name and address stitched into the back of his underwear so it doesn’t get mixed up with the other boys at super-camp
  • Two thongs laid one over the other, back to front
  • An “I’m with A Kryptonian Babootch” t-shirt that has an arrow pointing to the side

Well, at least his balls, butt and back remain invulnerable.
Superman shrugs it off eventually and reclaims his regular longjohns from Luthor’s Laundry of Doom, but this isn’t the only time he’d dressed up as a nauseating flavor of Laffy Taffy (i.e. any of them). For instance, in New Adventures of Superboy No.18 (June 1981), young Clark Kent takes Lana Lang’s sartorial sarcasm to heart and makes an effort to change his look. Unravelling his super-suit, he adds in more yellow from his bullet-proof baby blankets and becomes the lemon-hued avenger of justice. I like the blue cape, myself. The rest of it looks like a rogue Froot Loop fighting crime.

Eventually, the new sour lemon splash Superboy realizes that the yellow costume is reflecting most of the yellow sunlight he depends on in order not to suck while on Earth, and he abandons it for his old togs, although doesn’t this suggest that Superman is just bogarting the lion’s share of an indestructible yellow super-costume somewhere? There’s only a little bit of yellow on the existing costume, he must have almost two or three yards of the stuff in a Linen Closet of Solitude. GIVE THAT SHIT TO ROBIN, you ever see how often Batman hides behind that kid when crooks show up? That boy is in for trouble in them bare legs and fancy short-sleeve vest, he could use a bullet-proof pajama bottom.


2 comments:

Al Bruno III said...

I am so damn glad you are posting again!

Pops Gustav said...

I mentioned this costume in the first installment of my Prince Street News comic strip: http://toughguygoods.blogspot.com/2011/10/prince-street-news-icon.html
Ghad, it must've been a blast to come up with those ridiculous one-off costumes back in the day.

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