Friday, January 13, 2017

THE LEGION OF REGRETTABLE SUPERVILLAINS - FORGOTTEN FOES : BIRDS OF A FEATHER



Last year, I had the pleasure of having my first book, The League of Regrettable Superheroes, published by the fine folks over at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, PA. Although the cat has been out of the bag for a little while, I'm nonetheless proud to announce that the logical sequel -- The Legion of Regrettable Super-Villains -- is slated to debut on March 28th! You can now pre-order the book over on AmazonBarnes&Noble, and probably on the weird superhero book black market. It does thriving business!

To whet your appetite for the new book, every Friday leading up to the release date, I'll be providing brief snapshots of just some of the 108 (!) historically effed-up bad guys covered in the book (and that's not even counting the sidebars).

Villainy can find its inspiration anywhere, even in a world of canaries and cockatiels. What follows are a foursome of felonious felons with a feathered fiend fetish. These crooks are for the birds, rather literally...

THE CROW
Created by Bill Woolfolk and Harry Sahle
Debuted in Black Hood Comics vol.1 No.1 (MLJ Comics, March 1945)

As I understand it, opera singers are a testy lot, and cannot stand criticism in the slightest. I guess that's why the famous Pagini, returning from retirement and drunking it up on the night of his debut, probably tried to strangle a couple guys and murder a few more for convenience's sake. Having seen his once-beautiful voice reduced to croaks and caws thanks to professional-grade alcoholism, Pagini lashes out at the innocent cast and crew of the opera. And all they did was let a pet crow fly around backstage, seemingly mocking the formerly great star. We've all done that once. That the hot-headed tenor then decided to start murdering people in retaliation probably isn't a surprise, but that he chose to dress up like a giant crow to do it is maybe the weird part. And I don't mean a crow-inspired costume, I mean he was dressed as a crow. It looked like goth Big Bird finally snapped.

THE HAWK
Created by Klaus Nordling
Debuted in: National Comics No.55 (Quality Comics, August 1946)

Circuses are apparently hot seats of rampant evil, and I don't just mean the soul-withering sight of clowns and their hateful antics. No, I mean crooks, con men and strong arms messing around with the carnies and performers just for the fuck of it. Pardon my french. This is what highly entertaining golden age hero The Barker had to endure when the hawk-like, feathered, beak-nosed little freak calling himself The Hawk started pressuring his circus' performers to pay protection money. I don't why the hawk costume seemed relatively important to a protection racket, but he wore one nonetheless. Possibly, he was trying to convince his targets that he was some sort of Manimal, appearing to transform into an aggressive hawk on several occasions. What a hawk's gonna do with protection money, I dunno.

MOTHER GOOSE
Created by Bill Woolfolk and Harry Lucey
Debuted in: Pep Comics vol.1 No.30 (MLJ Comics, August 1942)


Well, this is a phony entry on more than one level. A sinister poetess calling herself Mother Goose arranges to kill three argumentative brothers within the period of a few nights. Her weapon of choice -- nursery rhymes, rewritten to seem more menacing. And then she stabs them or something. "Ring around the cock robin because the sky is falling on the woman who ate a fly and lived in a shoe," for instance, is a sample of an actual Mother Goose rhyme (I have clearly remembered nothing from kindergarten). Then, the victim would be killed in some ironically appropriate fashion - stabbed with a robin in the cock or something. Anyway, it ends up turning out that the murderous Mother Goose is actually ... a dude! What a twist! But the real fakeout is that this wasn't the Mother Goose portrayed and promised on the cover of the issue -- that one was a real lady! With geese! I bet she'd even known the joys and the sorrows of motherhood! Men just cant fake that, you know?

POWERHOUSE
Created by: Erik Larsen
Debuted in Savage Dragon vol.1 No.24 (Image Comics, December 1995)

The genuine, likely reality of Powerhouse is that Erik Larsen used to watch Super-Chicken cartoons when he was a kid and then decided to make a supervillain out of him. That's not the in-canon version of the story, that's just sort of the obvious reality of it. The in-canon version involves a lonely, scrawny teen who discovers that he's the last in a line of ancient Egyptian super-warriors, all of whom have a chicken head. Because of Horus. Nice try. While the power turned most of his relatives into nutcases, he adopts the disguise (and the tiny domino mask that goes with it, to protect his identity in case someone recognized his chickenhead without its mask on) and becomes the sometimes-heroic Powerhouse! Buk buk BUK!

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