Continuing our epic run-down of who was who in eighty tw--er, three, it's time for issue #2--Baron Mordo to the Collective Man, in what sounds like the most peculiar gay porno ever really.
Let's get ready to rumble!
BARON MORDO--I saw these guys at the Boathouse and they fucking ROCKED. Baron Mordo is the grand high macha of Raspar (a non-existent but real sounding county) who decided his aspiration began an ended with being Dr. Strange's arch-nemesis, which is about as ambitious as declaring war on those kindergartners picking their nose on the swing set during recess.
BARON ZEMO--The Zemos were big into glue, and like the Plainview guy in There Will Be Blood, it has totally screwed them up for all time. His father's face got encased in a glue-filled mask, the second Baron got his face mangled with hot glue. And yet kids eat paste all the time and they laugh, ignorant of the ultimate consequences of their actions.
BASILISK--If it says "Marvel Team-Up" under "First Appearance," you can damn sure bet the character involved will not survive to the next version. The Basilisk, like so many people who used the Insty-Supervillain Origin Kit, found a rock the Kree left over and decided to become a supervillain, which says a lot about the rather scattershot invasion plans the Kree had. "Yeah, whatever, leave a few rocks around, we'll get to it."
BATROC--Yes, well. There are people who think Batroc Ze Leapair is utterly hilarious. I am not one of those people. Batroc is a tired French stereotype who gets rolled out long after there are plenty of other French stereotypes to roll out and at least inject some variety into the proceedings, but no, let's drag out Batroc to brag a lot and get the shit kicked out of him. Again.
BEAST--You would be forgiven for thinking that a guy who can play ping-pong with his feet wouldn't be able to do much on a super-team with a thunder god and a dude in a mech suit that could wreck a small country. However, at this point in time, the Beast is with the Defenders, where is only competition is either Evil Jimmy Olsen or Patsy Walker with a head cold, so really he strides like a titan among them.
BEETLE--This is Beetle Mk 2 for people keeping score--the first Beetle looked at Iron Man's example, and created a suit with big tentacle-rape hands, a bucket on his head, and fragile wings that damn near everyone tore off the minute he flew in. He apparently upgraded in time for the Handbook, which raised his jobber profile from "one of the Mulkeys" up to "Iron Mike Sharpe."
BELLADONNA--Belladonna is a woman with a gun and a scarf and a hat, which meant back then all you really needed to be a supervillain back then was a JC Penny shopping spree. She apparently annoyed Spider-Man back in the day. If you graphed out all of Spider-Man's villains and broke it up by who was trying hard and who wasn't, Hypno Hustler would fall on one side, Belladonna would fall on another. I leave it to you to determine.
BINARY--Carol Danvers, after Avengers #200: She gets her powers nicked by Rogue, angsts up a storm about it in X-Men, then gets to become even more powerful than before, so powerful, in fact, she pretty much disappears from the Marvel Universe for the next seven years or so. Can't imagine why some folks (OK, me) say she's a busted character.
BLACK BOLT--Black Bolt has an awesome costume--in fact it was one of the first that really grabbed me as being totally awesome. He also has an utterly batshit power set, in that he can zap people with Kirby dots from his antenna thing, zap people with rays from his hands, and if he so much as burps, he can destroy a city. Oh and he can can access the unknown particles in his brain and use them to mess with gravitons and make himself fly. You hear that? You could be flying right now, but your brain is too lazy.
BLACK CAT--This is before Kevin Smith decided she needed a rape in her backstory, obviously. Her entry goes in to the whole nonsense about her "bad luck" powers, which kept appearing and disappearing and getting different explanations and Dr. Strange got involved, and Joe Linsner was right, she looks more like the White Weasel than the Black Cat.
BLACK KNIGHT--Later on in the 80's and the early 90's there came among some members of the Marvel writing team a need to push Black Knight to the moon. So he ended up on the Avengers, then he got a bomber jacket and a lightsaber and by the early 90's he's banging Sersi and fighting his evil clone. It's a real American success story.
BLACKLASH--Kurt Busiek once said the name "Blacklash" was more suited for eyeliner than an Iron Man villain, and so decided he should wear a gimp mask and fly around on a Pogo Ball. I say he was way overthinking it--frankly Blacklash, whatever his name is, is merely enhancement talent, and it really doesn't matter what his name is, so long as he falls down when Iron Man punches him.
BLACK MAMBA--Black Mamba is an ex-hooker turned snake-themed villainess, and thanks to her ability to create horny illusions made out of Darkforce, that all-purpose plot-convenient substance Marvel loves to use to explain shit. People suffocate and die when her horny illusions get hold of them, but the Handbook reminds us "they do, however, die in ecstasy," so there's that.
BLACK PANTHER--Like Namor, Wakanda seems at times to be made of people who only want to overthrow or beat up the Panther, which frankly was his thing for awhile. I once read a series of stories written by Don McGregor which seemed to positively revel in the Panther getting fucked up ever more as the story went on. Once he even stepped in a bear trap and spent 25 pages trying to get the thing off while not bleeding to death. All things being equal, I think I'd chuck it all and hang out with the Avengers too.
BLACK WIDOW--This is back when Frank Miller gave her a butch cut and that grey pair of longjohns that lasted forever and a day. If I remember right this was the kind of dead season of her fortunes because no one used her for awhile there after Frank decided that Bullseye needed to beat the shit out of her so we knew Bullseye was a bad muthafucka. Sexually progressive fella, that Frank.
BLASTAAR--Blastaar (no relation to Thundaar, at least none that I'm aware of) Blastaar was able to parlay the fact that he looked like a cave troll and shot lasers out of his fingers into both rulership of a planet and also a cool-ass subtitle: The Living Bomb-burst. That guy who lay on the couch in the common area in your college doing bong hits . . .how he' doing? Ruling a planet yet? Got a cool name like the High Monarch of Marijuana? No, and you know why? He's a loser.
BLITZKREIG--Oh God. Naturally West Germany's protector would name himself after the Nazi's doctrine of "lightning War," wouldn't he? Proof that a little knowledge of a foreign language can be a dangerous thing, Biltzkreig was a member of Contest of Champions' Team Stereotype, and that means as a representative of his home country, was about 50% less accurate than, say, the German sections at EPCOT Center.
BLIZZARD--Remember back in Blacklash's entry I said that some villains are enhancement talent and exist solely to fall down when hit? Yeah, Blizzard is like that. Of course, in our more edgy and higher-developed day and age he would be a child rapist who froze kids in his basement and shot ice dicks at them or some shit because heaven forbid people put on silly costumes just in the name of stealing some fucking money.
BLOB--I have never really "bought" that the Blob is a mutant, because in my estimation "being a big fat asshole" doesn't really rise to the level of a superpower, mutant or otherwise. This is all I really have to say about the Blob.
BLUE SHIELD--When I woke up this morning, I asked myself certain searching questions about what the day would lead to for me, and where my life was going in general. It was only about . . .oh, 11 o'clock before I asked myself "Who the fuck is the Blue Shield, and why should I give a damn?" I had no answer then, I have no answer now.
BOOMERANG--Not, not that guy. Fred Myers decided he wasn't making enough money as a baseball pitcher and decided to make some real money with a bunch of trick boomerangs. This is how I like to think Kenny Powers will end up.
BROTHER VOODOO--Less known for doing anything important ever (Yes, I know they made him Sorcerer Supreme, but the hiring criteria for Sorcerer Supreme is pretty lax--I got to be Sorcerer Supreme once because I was the 12th caller.) and being the butt of Fred Hembeck's jokes, Brother Voodoo has all the powers of a brother and all the powers of a voodoo. Yes, of course he's black. I feel very bad for Brother Voodoo.
BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS--The thing I like most about the Brotherhood is the inherent contradiction in their name . . .they're a Brotherhood of EVIL mutants. Now if you were a truly hardcore gang of bad-ass mutants, one would imagine you would play up the EVIL part of that, but Magneto wisely said, "Nope, we're gonna balance both of them--I don't want people to get the wrong impression of my little terrorist group. It's all about branding, guys."
BULLSEYE--Bullseye had one good story in him and one good arch-enemy--Daredevil--and frankly it should have ended there. However, then a group of Frank Miller fanboys got into comics, and jammed him down the collective throat of the readership and that's why he got to be an Avenger. While Bullseye works great in his street-level milieu, I think when you take him out of that and make him an Avenger killing people on the side and pretending to be Hawkeye, well, he becomes a bit asinine.
CANNONBALL--Cannonball is your worst nightmare--a Kentucky hayseed who's "nigh-invulnerable when he's blastin." I have a number of relatives in my family who were moonshiners. They had much the same problem.
CAPTAIN AMERICA--Captain America doesn't know anything about NASCAR, Myspace, or American Idol, so I ripped the page out of the book and threw it in the bin. No, I'm kidding, because that would be an idiotic thing to put in a comic, wouldn't it? There's no way they'd even publish stupid bullshit like that.
CAPTAIN BRITAIN--This is not Alan Moore/Alan Davis Captain Britain just yet (at least I don't think so) this is "lion on his chest, flies with a Q-tip" Captain Britain. This is still light-years better than that stupid female Captain Britain that Chuck Austen came up with, but that goes without saying, doesn't it?
CAPTAIN MARVEL--This is the second Captain Marvel--I think there's 19 of them now. Monica Rambeau was a legacy hero Marvel really did try to get behind--I remember a time in the 80's when if the Avengers showed up she was on the scene and she even got to be leader for awhile, until those plans got sabotaged. I understand after that she was in Nextwave, and I ask you, pretty please, don't send me messages telling me I should read that "because it's cooler than Tastee-Freeze." I really don't care.
CAPTAIN UNIVERSE--Less a character than a plot device (not unlike the Intercontinental Championship) Captain Universe pops round and gives unlikely characters super-duper powers in the name of , . . .we, because of . . .well, you'd have to ask Steve Ditko why any of this seemed like a good idea. Being that I have entered my "grown ass man" years, I wisely stopped caring about Captain Universe when X-23 got to be Captain Universe, rather than receiving something useful, like interesting characterisation.
CELESTIALS--Giant Space Gods who are practically bristling with Jack Kirbyness and who generally show up like the Watcher when dramatic awe is needed. Also, one of them is called "Oneg the Prober." There is no possible way to spin that as a good thing, space god or not.
CHAMPION OF THE UNIVERSE--Oh fuck me gently with a chainsaw, the Elders of the Universe. Thanos once called the Elders "an ineffective and stupid lot," and he wasn't wrong. The Champion is a super-athlete, and for some reason, rather than writing any more about his boring ass, I find myself wondering who was the other member of the Kansas Jayhawks who wasn't Dutch Mantell. Who was he?
CHAMPIONS OF XANDAR--The funny thing about the Champions of Xandar, they all died two months after this issue hit, I think, jobbed out to Nebula, who was then being pushed as an uber-villain and also they weren't publishing Nova at the time anyways, so who really gave a shit? Anyways, the Champions of Xandar were a bunch of underachieving bumwads, just like every Xandarian who's ever been in Marvel comics (seriously, even Firelord and Air-Walker) when you're recruiting a high-school freshman from Earth to defend your planet, I think that says it all, really.
CHARLIE-27--BOBBY JAGGERS! That's who the other Kansas Jayhawk was! Oh, wait, hang on--Charlie-27 is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which means that despite many an effort to change my mind, he is a punishingly dull character. I can't even read his Handbook entry without falling asleep, so I'm just going to assume that he has the powers of 27 men named Charlie and movie on to something I might give a damn about.
CIRCUS OF CRIME--So much for moving onward and upward. Like Blizzard, Blacklash, and so many others, the Circus of Crime exists less as a legitimate threat and more so people have a group of villains to beat ass on. Now, back before every bad guy had to be a slavering degenerate or ridiculously overpowered you could do this kind of thing, but as Vince Russo proved, when you try to get everyone over, you end up getting no one over.
CLOAK & DAGGER--Cloak and Dagger were two buckets of angst that rapidly became cult favorite characters who got their powers the old fashioned way--by shooting up bad heroin. Naturally, this was all explained as it activating their latent mutant powers, and they became X-Men because 300 X-Men were NOT ENOUGH to meet demand. Anyways, for all their renown, I would say that Cloak and Dagger succeed more on their striking visuals more than great characterisation--really Cloak being a brooding bucket of angst and Dagger is a happy, bright ingenue. Then again, as this is Bill Mantlo we're talking about here . . .
COBRA--I have never understood why of all the people Cobra could have fucked with, he decided to hassle Thor. "Hi, I'm Thor. I'm ludicrously strong, I can summon storms, travel through time, and when I'm bored bash people with my hammer until they stop talking. Who are you?" "Hi Thor, I am the Cobra. I can squeeze myself into a drainpipe if I have a good tailwind." This should have been a four-panel comic, and that's with serious decompression.
COLLECTIVE MAN--Being from China, the Collective Man has the ability to own most of our debt. No, wait, the Collective Man is five guys who can merge into one guy who has all the powers of five guys plus the entire nation of China, which is a pretty good deal, when you think about it. The collective man, in addition to being a groan-worthy stereotype (THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN CHINA, GET IT?) was also the last gasp of Marvel's mania for Communist supervillains/heroes. Naturally this was handled with their usual taste and sensitivity . . .
BA-BANI--Willowy, girly, dudes, the Ba-Bai are here only because Moondragon decided that being an Avenger and Defender wasn't enough and what would really put her over the top would be to conquer her own planet. Naturally, Moondragon set her sights on the Planet of the Yaoi and the Avengers had to come and get the naught naughty girl and make her double-swear to never conquer planets again. I say, given that this is Moondragon we're talking about here, they kind of deserved what they got.
BADOON--When it comes to conquering Earth, most alien races in the Marvel Universe really half-ass the job. The Badoon quarter-ass it. Generally ineffective, the Badoon somehow conquer Earth during the Guiardians of the Galaxy's time because . . uhm, well with the Guardians of the Galaxy on the case, it's not as if we're fielding the "a" squad, are we?
BROOD--So Chris Claremont saw Alien one night, calls up Dave Cockrum and says, "Hey Dave, it's Chris. Yeah, look, have you seen Alien? Yeah, with the thing coming out of the guy's stomach? Look, can we put one in X-Men this month? Oh. Oh-oh. Yeah, well, I don't want a lawsuit or anything, so let's do something kind of like an alien but give it more tentacles and make it more rapey. That should cover our asses."
CENTAURIANS--Centaurians are blue guys with a fin who act like Native Americans, because Marvel will do considerable for the orange skins, a little for the blue skins, the best they can for the green skins, but there's one they never bother with . . .the red skins. ANSWER ME THAT, MR. STAN LEE!
CENTURII--There was a Centurii named Gormok. I find that funny for some reason. In fact, most of my amusement in these Alien entries comes from their silly names, and I haven't even got to the aliens named after cheeses yet.
CIEGRIMITES--The Cigrimites are known for making kick-ass liquor, which makes all the sense in the world when you consider that they look like something you might see if you had a raging case of the DTs.
CHR'YLITES--Bug eyes, green, spindly, looks like a helicopter. Dave Cockrum, is that you?
COTATI--You know, the Cotati are weird as hell. When you consider that one of them reanimated a dead corpse in order to marry a woman and have a kid. Yes, Vegisexual necrophilia. Under the circumstances all you can think are . . ."damn that's fucked up" and "I really hope that fetish is not widespread."
Before I sign off, I'd like to suggest, in the interests of audience participation, you all submit write-ups for characters you'd like to run down. Just leave a comment, and we'll go from there. Make my life easier. I beg of you!
Meanwhile, that'll do it for another installment of the Handbook! Join us next time when we cover everyone from The Collector to Dracula, which will include Rusty Shackles' favourite character of all time, Doctor muthafuckin Strange! Who will survive? Tune in and find out!