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Politically Incorrect Supernaturals

I’m not politically correct. People assume that because I’m a woman who writes about comic books (and so far the only other one I’ve met is Comics Buyers Guide’s Maggie Thompson), I hate T&A books in all forms.

Well, I don’t. I do get annoyed when 60 percent or more of the marketplace is devoted to poorly written, spandex/thong-wearing, anatomically incorrect babes whose sole skill/superpower is the ability to stand up despite their helium-balloon-for-boobs physiques. Well-written books with an under-dressed, voluptuous heroine, like James Robinson’s Vampirella: Blood Lust, don’t bother me. Hell, I grew up reading Mike Grell’s long run on Warlord and you couldn’t get much sexier or smarter than the shape-changing Shakira. A sense of humor also helps, whether it’s Shakira’s arch comments to Morgan or slams against the leggy vamp in the Painkiller Jane/Vampirella team-up.

So I’ve tried really hard to like Lady Death, Purgatori and other babe books from Chaos! Comics. I pick a few up once a year or so, but I’m always disappointed. First and this might just be a coincidence every one I’ve read seems to have pseudo-lesbian overtones. Real lesbian characters don’t bother me (I love Dykes to Watch Out For), but this seems like "titillate the fanboy" writing. In one issue, Purgatori just kept going on and on about how she wanted to possess Lady Death. Being a demon, that shouldn’t be an unusual desire, but due to the phrasing and the art, "possess" seemed to have multiple meanings. If she's a lesbian demon, stop being coy. And if she's not, then knock off the silly innuendo.

Second, the poses the characters end up in for T&A purposes are absurd. The powerful Lady Death shouldn’t be bent over in a weird position to show her ass while confronting an adversary. An issue of Vampirella accomplished the same by doing a waist-down panel of a demon groveling before Nyx, thereby giving fanboys the butt view without undermining the character’s power.

So I’m pleasantly surprised by the first issue of The Supernaturals, a four-issue miniseries collaboration between Marvel and Chaos! Comics. Chaos characters won’t be appearing in it. Rather, the Chaos crew will being doing their take on Marvel’s otherworldly characters. I assume that if the miniseries goes over well, it could turn into a regular series.

The Supernaturals alludes to the Secret Wars miniseries from 13 years ago, though here it’s called a "Chaos! Event" (I never said Supernaturals was subtle), when the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe disappeared for a time. Now similar astrological correspondences appear to be lining up again and Jericho Drumm, a.k.a. Brother Voodoo, is concerned that it could happen once more. He tries to consult Dr. Strange, only to find Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme missing. The first issue ends with Drumm starting to contact what will be the rest of his team (Satana, Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, The Black Cat and Gargoyle, all of whom are dealing with their own bad guys).

First issues like this are always tough because you’ve got to pack in a lot of set-up material. This one keeps things moving and is fairly clear despite bouncing between the various characters. I really don’t know whether to praise Chaos! Comics founder Brian Pulido, who is credited as "creepy storyteller and re-creator" or Mark Andreyko, listed as "writer possessed," or both. Only they know who contributed what.

While I enjoyed Supernaturals, I was a tad puzzled over a few things. For instance, Felicia Hardy is shown with her typical platinum blond/white mane of hair, but on the cover as the Black Cat, she’s shown with raven tresses. In the past, her hair color didn’t change in and out of costume. Personally, I always liked her old look, so I hope the costume and hair didn’t change due to an extremely superficial similarity to Lady Death.

There are also references to Drumm being a world-famous record producer, none of which was mentioned in his very recent appearances in issues of Blade. It’s a tad disconcerting for readers, like myself, who are only briefly acquainted with his past, but not necessarily wrong.

I’m very glad that the art, penciled by Ivan Reis and inked by Joe Piaaentel, is more in the Marvel than the Chaos style. Characters look buff, but they’re not lounging around in outfits that are a cross between lingerie and dominatrix gear.

Marvel’s been experimenting a lot lately in an attempt to improve both its market share and credibility. While I think the Marvel Knights line is much more exciting, The Supernaturals works much, much better than some previous experiments. If it can keep this up, Marvel could resurrect itself once again.



Review 1998 Beth Hannan Rimmels. Accompanying artwork 1998 Marvel Comics.