Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thing vs. Hyperion: Four Remarks

I've been away from the blog a lot lately, which may have something to do with the usual cruelty of April in an academic schedule. In fact, I still don't really have time to be posting, but I also don't want to let the blog wither. And so, armed as I am with a stack of crummy comics sold to me cheap by the guy who runs my local comic store, I will dip once again into the lame comics of my youth.

For example, here's Marvel Two-in-One #67, from 1980, which guest-stars Hyperion and Thundra alongside the Thing. It's also got cameos by Quasar and Giant-Man, because it's in the middle of that run where Two-in-One was mostly concerned with Project Pegasus. Anyway, I've got three remarks about this cover:

(You can click to enlarge it.)

1.) There sure are a lot of words on this cover. The Two-in-One logo is always busy, because it puts the Thing's logo above someone else's, but this one's also got a title, an editorial talking arrow, and a banner ad for the "Mighty Marvel Win-Yourself-Some-Big-Bucks Contest" (which might deserve a post of its own some day). That just leaves half of the space of the cover for a dynamic fight scene. And it is dynamic, isn't it? Check out that dynamic three-point perspective!

2.) Well, actually, the linear perspective in this image is pretty terrible. Looking at it one way, it's a useful study in what sorts of imprecision you can get away with if you're trying to make an evocative or bombastic image; looking at it another way, it's just sloppy. Here are a couple of detail views so you can see what I mean:

Thundra (the barbarian woman with big hair and an asymmetrical belly-shirt) is depicted in the comic as being pretty tall -- nearly a head taller than Hyperion -- but compared to those people across the street from her, she's a giant, isn't she? They look like they'd come up to her waist.

Maybe that's supposed to be like a little camper-trailer under the Thing's toes, not a full-sized truck. But it sure is dwarfed by the bystanders in the negative space between his arm and his leg, just a few yards up the street.

It's also interesting to compare the height of the first floor of the central building to the heights of the six floors above it.

I know it's sort of unfair to nitpick perspective on a hacked-out drawing like this. As I said, in some ways, this is a study in what distortions can still "work," because the image certainly looks okay at first glance. Mainly I ramble on about this for the sake of anyone who is still working on his or her perspective skills: I invite such folks to look at the sort of mistakes that are easy to make, if not necessarily easy to avoid.

3.) You could always tell when the guest "star" in Two-in-One wasn't a major player in the Marvel Universe, if his or her logo was dull or if the headshot portrait in the upper left corner of the cover looked like a rush job.

Judging by the lines in his hair, Hyperion's portrait is just traced from the picture of him on the cover. Compare:

I also have one remark from inside the comic:

4.) It's fairly common knowledge (among the people who follow this sort of thing) that Hyperion is a semi-satirical Marvel version of DC's Superman. The two barrel-chested heroes have similar names, similar powers, and even a similar origin story. All of those Squadron Sinister / Squadron Supreme characters have their Justice League analogues, though this particular comic predates the Squadron Supreme series by a couple of years.

Anyway, while Hyperion is fighting with Thundra in Two-in-One #67, there's a nod to his status as a Superman knock-off:

If I'd read this comic as a nine-year-old, would I have understood that? Would I have been more likely to see what was going on in Squadron Supreme when I bought and read that series? Because I vaguely remember thinking how ironic it was that all these different superhero universes all had one guy with trick arrows, and one guy with wings, and maybe a warrior woman from a faraway island or a guy who can run really, really fast... I'm not sure why I didn't put the parallels together sooner.

Anyway, those are my four remarks about this issue of Marvel Two-in-One.

I leave it to you to speculate on why Hyperion, who is clearly ginger-haired himself, would mock Thundra's fab rufous locks. Why, the two could almost be siblings, if they weren't from different alternate Earths.


Ben Towle said...

So... uh, what exactly is going on in that last image? And what exactly is that in her hands? Is this perhaps a candidate for the venerable "unintentionally sexual comics images" thread over at TCJ?

Isaac said...

Last image? Well, Hyperion is hovering, which explains why he seems so tall. Hovering doesn't explain why he suddenly looks larger than Thundra, too, or why Ron Wilson decided to compose the panel in this particular way. But you're right, it doesn't look like she's about to test his strength, does it?

The thing in her hands is some sort of Send-You-Into-An-Alternate-Reality ray that Thundra uses at the end of the story to return to her own Earth (I think). To tell you the truth, I haven't read this one very carefully.

Mike said...

...and while you're at it, you might note that Thundra's one visible foot in that panel is incredibly small. I mean really...

John said...

What's wrong with being a ginger-kid?

Isaac said...

Mike, I just want to point out that Thundra's tiny foot would be all the rage in about fourteen years. Don't hate her for being ahead of her times. Her alternate Earth was an alternate future Earth.