Tuesday, April 22, 2014

COSTUME DRAMA : CAPTAIN AMERICA'S DUMB ARMOR


A trio of wildly successful superhero movies under his red-white-and-blue corset has given America’s one surviving Sentinel of Liberty (take that, Seventh-Day Adventist newspaper editor Lincoln E.Steed) a wide array of fancy costumes to adorn his many action figures and licensed Halloween costumes. It’s likely, however, that none of them will resemble the nose-squishing armor suit which Cap donned for a brief period in the bulked up, crosshatched era we call “The Nineties”, from Captain Vol.1 Nos.438 through 443.

Briefly succumbing to a poisonous anti-Super Soldier Serum agent, Cap entered a period where he could not only no longer rely on his drug-afforded super-strength and chemically-enhanced endurance (Winners don’t do drugs, kids, we tore Sammy Sosa a whole new one when he tried the same routine), but it was also killin’ him.

Stuck in the middle of a battle with the minions of The Red Skull (and when I say “middle”, I guess I mean that this thing’s going to keep happening until 2090, since he’s been slugging the same biker-emblem-headed white supremacist since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was popping wheelies on the White House lawn) AND the reptilian rogues of the Serpent Society (An organization which was basically like The Elks for any supervillain with a lisp), Cap’s fluctuating powers and equally fluctuating lifesigns puts him at such a distinct disadvantage, that the only smart solution is to tap out and let the eight thousand other superheroes in the Marvel universe finish this incredibly one-sided fight.

NO WAIT, I forgot whose name was on the title. Cap DOES relent to allowing Tony Stark, America’s foremost armored alcoholic, to build a fashion-challenged flying football uniform which makes NFL Superpro look like he just got off the catwalk in Milan. Featuring scalloped shoulderpads, jetpacks, and a nose-crunching bridge which kept Steve Rogers in a state of perma-grimace, the outfit also tried to answer the eternal question of “What to do with Captain America’s head-wings?” – the problem which baffles every redesigner on the Cap catalogue of costumes – by answering “Make them so super enormously big it’s ridiculous.” You can’t not look at those things, they’re like the Dolly Parton’s tits of super-hero head accouterments.

My favorite use of the costume involves an undersea assault perpetrated by Cap and his partners, Free Spirit, Falcon and Jack Flag, the patriotic superhero who sounds most like a kind of artisan cheese; Although the eye-slit which allowed Cap’s bare peepers to avoid contact with passing mirrors was sealed against the water, the giant opening over his mouth and chin in the front of his armored cowl wasn’t, meaning not only was the glass visor protecting his eyes not keeping anything out, the rest of his suit was probably filling with water as he swam.

"By the way, is anyone else soaked below the chin?"

Well engineered. This is why you get Eliot R Brown to diagram something before you put a superhero in it.

The costume is short-lived, despite its efficacy, but it’s also wasn’t Cap’s only solution against his engineered paralysis; he also donned The Battle-Vest.

The Battle-Vest was sort of a double-utility belt wrapped around candy cane striped shoulder flares, making Cap look a little like a Transformer who turned into a Barbershop carrying a bunch of leather sandwich baggies around on his torso. Created to augment Cap’s failing strength with a series of gimmicks, the vest gets to have the usual kind of superhero nonsense – knockout gas, handcuffs, a rebreather – but also possesses maybe the most amusing accessory ever possessed by any gadget-mad superhero: Airbags.


1 comment:

Pete James (UWE) said...

I like the idea of having all over protective arm that doesn't protect most of your face. I mean there's nothing important there right? That part of the body is totally over-rated. Teeth are a con.

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