5 Comics That Kick More Ass Than Any Movie
The Fantastic Four are on their fourth movie. The only possible explanation for this is Doctor Doom conquering Hollywood to make their name provably untrue. When alien archaeologists slice the Earth in half, they'll find a solid ring of superhero Blu-rays and wonder why so few characters are repeated so often. It's because the movie-making process is a real Mario Party: loads of people frantically trying to get stars, but the results are random. And they've made the exact same thing far too many times. ("Mario Party" is just one of many video game phrases we can use in real life.)
If Hollywood must remain allergic to new ideas, they could at least remake the awesomer old ones.
Lady Satan is the master of black magic, and if you try to correct her with any of this "mistress" bullshit, she shows you exactly who is modifying who when it comes to commanding dark forces.
"I'll counter your devil magic by BEING BETTER AT IT!"
Most heroes fight evil with pure hearts, which is why evil always wins those fights (except when fighting the main character). Lady Satan is incapable of such screwing around. She sets fire to werewolves and kung-fu fights murderers, only because she has run of Nazis. Behold the first ever page of Lady Satan:
"Look! Bombers!" Firing squads get less done with more words.
Every origin movie script should be replaced with that page. Superhero origin stories are like watching your computer boot up: You know what's going to happen, and you have to sit through it before you can start doing anything fun. Lady Satan's entire life is bombed into the sea, and she declares infinite vengeance before she's out of the first page or the water. And she still spends most of that page about to stab Oppenfuhrer von Monocle-Nazi. She can't even run her own title without killing a bad guy.
"Hi, I'm already hanging the villain."
She introduces herself by voguing at a gunman she's already murdering. Before gaining her occult powers, she fought the Nazis with a chlorine gas gun. Jesus, she only turns to dark magic because it's the one thing slightly more evil. She wasn't just killing Nazis; she was making sure they died of something as evil as themselves.
Reboot Her Instead of: Another Rogue Elite Agent Whatever
Bond, Bourne, whatever Tom Cruise is doing this month -- Hollywood is lousy with highly trained, near-identical guys running around blowing things up. Origin stories are often criticized by purists for compressing a character's entire history into one plot, but in this case, that would make things better instead of boring. We could have an occult agent infiltrating and destroying the Nazis. Lady Satan had the potential to be Katniss Hermione Bond before any of those things existed. And tell me you wouldn't watch a movie with this poster.
We've already seen that Fantomah is the first comic book superheroine, but we still haven't seen a Fantomah movie. And that's unforgivable. She's a superpowered spirit of vengeance protecting the natural world from exploitation. She's Captain Planet if they replaced "heart" with "pant-shitting terror." Her magical powers let her turn anyone into anything, but she always starts by turning herself into skull-headed horror. Because you don't terrify criminals by adding a layer over your face, Batman.
Forget muggers; she scares giant alien dinosaurs into submission.
She fights the craziest villains ever written. One scientist discovers both a race of alien dinosaurs and a drug which grows living things to enormous sizes, develops a potion which renders creatures bulletproof, and then uses them all to rob a bank vault. The Tiger-Women set out to exterminate all the other women on Earth so that they can take over by dominating the men, and they're unstoppable because their only mode of transport is tiger-surfing.
I'm not saying I support their plan; I'm just saying it would totally work on me.
Fantomah out-crazies every single one of them. She's a deus ex truncatis whose hobby is clearly sampling interesting mushrooms. She tears a magical moon rock out of a mountain, phases the Tiger-Women inside it, then hurls it into space. Far above the world, there's now a shining globe filled with Tiger-Women intent on dominating their subjects. So sorry, God, but for a lot of readers Fantomah just replaced your heaven. She counters fifth columnist paratroopers with parapanthers, vacuuming all the big cats out of South America and dropping them to claw their parachutes.
IMAX this, and I will buy every ticket.
She once saved a Romeo and Juliet couple by exploding a nearby volcano.
"Two houses, both alike in dignity, shall be alike in Pompeii if they don't stop being such jerks."
She uses incredible superpowers to fight crime, but she does it the way a real person would if she was infinitely powerful and constantly annoyed by idiots. "Ugh, you assholes causing trouble? FINE, VOLCANO AND SKY-PANTHERS!"
Reboot Her Instead of: Ghost Rider or Anything Gritty
Ghost Rider got two movies, and he's an 8-year-old's idea of badass. But he's only one symptom of the plague of grit afflicting our superheroes like spandex-induced eczema. Even the Fantastic Four reboot is gritty, and the Fantastic Four are lower on the list of "things that should be gritty" than toilet paper. Even Ben Grimm wishes the Fantastic Four weren't gritty, and he's the overlap of both those concepts. We can counter the grit with some Golden Age insanity. Film Fantomah and the Flying Tigers Versus the Tiger-Women and Nazis, and the Internet will do all your promotion for you. It'll be like Snakes on a Plane, except it'll work this time. And it can't be worse than Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
The Woman in Red
The Woman in Red is the first masked female crime fighter. She debuted a year after Batman, and you'd swear she spent the time working out where Wayne went wrong. Detective Peggy Allen is what happens when the police decide they need a vigilante. She's the commissioner's secret weapon, and when you're already a police officer, you get all the latest information. And you don't have to run away from targets when you don't have your special costume on.
"In her mild-mannered secret identity of -- holy shit, she just killed those guys."
The Woman in Red kicks so much ass, her costume exists just to hide bloodstains. Her only identifying feature is the color, and it's still the only thing she wears when she goes undercover. The series struggled with the stereotypes of the age, but like the women bound by those stereotypes, it was determined to break free. She's knocked out in every issue, but in the next panel, she's awake and ass-kicking. You'd swear she was allowing it to happen so she could have a nap before smashing the bad guys' windows as well as their teeth.
Even Euclidean geometry is too scared to stop her killing people.
Reboot Her Instead of: Batman
We all love Batman, no matter how many awful things he does, but maybe it's time to give him a bat-break. We now have enough Batmen to field the world's most unbeatable basketball team. You're not going to beat Batman Begins in living memory anyway, so try something else.
The Woman in Red is ready. She's a vigilante and a badass, and she even drives a redmobile. She fights the kind of guys with office trapdoors into a killer octopus tank, and uses her last breath on a one-liner it can't hear or understand.
Try any of that hentai nonsense, and she'll kill YOU with a little prick.
Forget Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; give us Fantomex meets The Woman In Red taking on a corrupt, eco-destroying corporation. The comedy scene can be the floating, magic murder-skull and Ms. Bloodstained reacting to catcallers.
The Veiled Avenger
"Ginny Spears leads a double life. By day she's the district attorney's secretary. By night The Veiled Avenger, exotic enemy of evil." No backstory, no secret trauma; she's just had enough of this bullshit and ends more net crime in four issues than Batman managed in his entire career. The only way her enemies can come back is if they fight the Ghostbusters.
Criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot, but for some reason, they're more scared of The Veiled Avenger.
She takes crooks by surprise by kicking them off rope ladders. She explodes them with their own grenades, and when she finds out a bad guy can't swim, it saves her the bother of washing bloodstains out of her blouse.
Her only one-liners are death sentences.
When she tells criminals to eat it, she's talking about their own guns and grenades.
Meanwhile, Indiana Jones chickens out of his whip if the bad guy has so much as a sword.
She hangs around with an annoying kid called Skippy, but she's clearly using him as a lure to make sure she killed crooks who deserve it. She's the first vigilante to use her legal training to prepare for her own murder trial. She defends kids, she uses non-lethal weapons, she kills people with their own weapons, and she does it all in high heels to make it clear she isn't the one starting trouble.
Reboot Her Instead of: Legal Series and Spider-Man
We have too many legal and police procedural shows. It's only a matter of time until they start suing each other for airtime and airing the resulting trials.
"According to this semen, CSI is obsessed with semen."
The Veiled Avenger could combine tired legal dramas with the modern trend of cheering murderer heroes to reach their inevitable conclusion. Or if we want people who whip long things around a city and accidentally kill people, we could replace Spider-Man. Hollywood has spawned more Spider-Men than the Clone Saga, and the results are even less original or fun.
Full disclosure: This section originally mocked the idea of Marvel's upcoming Daredevil TV series -- you'd think the people responsible for the Daredevil movie would remember the Daredevil movie -- but then they outmaneuvered me with the new trailer (though I continue to believe that in a visual medium, "whipping the judge's gavel out of his hand" will look a lot more awesome than "staring blindly").
The name Kitty Kelly compels the wielder to kick ass, like Excalibur, but without the phallic overtones. The first Kitty Kelly is a World War II air hostess who wants to be a combat pilot, so she goes around killing Axis forces in the sky anyway. But today we're looking at the second.
Bonus points for immediately getting rid of the annoying child character.
"Poison deaths of children at the public nursery." Kitty gets more smiting motivation in one sentence than the entire Old Testament. Kitty is a social worker by day and also technically a social worker by night, though more in the sense of "work the body." She puts her initials on her costume so that crooks know who is kicking their asses, and they always end up too dead to read them, too concussed to remember them, or too scared to go near them.
"Sure, I could spend billions on animal-themed gadgets, but there's a meat cleaver right there."
A meat cleaver is a scarier symbol of incoming justice than Captain America's shield, but her preferred weapon against punks is more punks.
"Cold-blooded" as both an attitude to and mechanism for righteous murder.
Her cover is perfect: decades of sexism. When Clark Kent, the world's burliest journalist, runs away from trouble, people can't help but notice. But Kitty Kelly running from danger? The other characters are just grateful she doesn't swoon all over them.
Reboot Her Instead of: Hulk
Hulk has had so many movies, and they've all sucked so much, it's like even his fictional self trying to get us to leave him alone. We already know the tale of Bruce Banner, that poor, straight, white, male college graduate empowered by millions of dollars worth of technology. Does no one understand his pain? Kitty Kelly doesn't need any gamma explosions. Her strength comes from total bullshit-sufficiency, as in she's had enough of it. Her adrenal glands just happen to make her super-strong when she gets angry. And she is always angry.
Enjoy more nerdy selections with Doctor Who's Next: 5 Timely Time Lord Suggestions and 5 Free Online Comics More Fun Than Facebook.
Sci-fi author Saladin Ahmed has more great things to say about the awesome Heroines of pre-Code Comics.
Or check out more super-shenanigans with 5 Superheroes Who Should've Gotten Movies Before Ant-Man and 9 Lesser-Known Superheroes Who Deserve Movie Franchises.
Luke relaunches the ED-209, tumbles, and will respond to your tweet right now.