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May 30, 2008

Comments

PAUL SAETHER

I've often wondered - Why did Black Bolt wear a mask?

Everyone knew who he was didn't they?

And why did the others wear masks?

Gorgon for instance needs much more than a little mask to disguise himself!

Mark Engblom

Well, the simple reason is that this was the convention of the time. Superheroes met people that looked like them, though ironically enough, the Fantastic Four (where the Inhumans first appeared) never wore masks or obscuring disguises of any kind

The deeper answer, perhaps the masks helped convey that feeling of "otherness" in the society of the Inhumans, in the sense that wearing elaborate outfits and masks WAS their normal "state of identity" and not a disguise to conceal their true identity. It also brought a degree of mythic pageantry to the characters. In many ways, the Inhumans were a "dry run" for Jack Kirby's more fully realized mythologies of the New Gods and The Eternals...both of which included elaborately costumed (and occasionally masked) characters.

Bill S.

Notice, too, that Crystal, the only Inhuman (besides Triton) who doesn't wear a mask, is also the one who conveys the least sense of "otherness" -- to the point where she was the fifth member of The Fantastic Four for a while. She was a lot less intimidating than the others, in spite of being pretty powerful.

Texcap

Mark, you've done it again. I agree wholeheartedly with every one of these bits of Random Coolness and I'm always glad to meet another Black Bolt fan. One of the "coolest" characters that ever came out of the House of Ideas, and Jack Kirby's creative mind.

In fact, the other day I was thinking about a dream project that I'd love Marvel to tackle, assuming a quality creative team, and that was an Inhumans ongoing, this time written and illustrated by a couple creators who obviously have a deep affection for the characters: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. These fantastic characters would shine for a whole new generation of folks under their watchful care. Well, it was fun to think about anyhow.


Wes C

I totally agree with the first two. Personally I'm more partial to Triton, Karnak and of course Lockjaw, but Black Bolt's a really cool character as well.

I disagree about Magneto's helmet though. I've always thought it made him look kinda dorky. Of course the colors of his costume don't really add to the intimidation factor either.

Now a metal exoskeleton armor with a green cowl and cape.... that's the garb of a true leader/ruler/iron fisted despot!

Guido

I agree that the class photos are cool, but I think that at one point in the nineties they overkilled them, with those Where's Waldoesque shots of the X-men, which tried to cram every mutant to ever grace a Marvel comic into a poorly defined physical space with tons of characters standing awkwardly close to each other

Pat Curley

Anybody know the first "Class Photo" like that? The All Star covers shouldn't count, so at least for DC it may be the Superman Family portrait from the back cover of Superman Annual #6, which I covered here:

http://sacomics.blogspot.com/2008/05/silver-age-superman-family.html

I would not be surprised to learn that there's a good Captain Marvel Family group photo from the 1940s.

My favorite? The Flash Rogues Gallery from Flash Annual #1. Somehow the image of Grodd surrounding all those characters was perfect.

Shar

Re why the Inhuman wear masks (much less "superhero" costumes):

In the Alan Davis/Mark Farmer limited series "Fantstic Four: The End" (set in one of those ubiquitous alternate futures), all of a sudden Crystal is shown wearing a mask. She explains to Johnny "it's ceremonial."
Now, this notion fits in nicely with how I've always thought about the Inhumans' costumes/masks: they're the Royal Family, so they have to wear certain attire--including masks--as befits their rank and station in their society. It's their mark of identification.

Let's take Crystal. Remember that when she first appeared, Crystal was shown wearing a plain white dress for the first year (FF #45-59). Her hair was unfettered (no headband). She did not appear in any sort of superhero costume. Then, all of a sudden in FF #61 she's shown wearing a typical superhero costume: she's resplendent in her (now familiar) yellow uniform with black accents, and she's sporting her crazy headband and snoods. I took this to mean she had come of age in Inhuman society (whatever age that is for their culture: could be 15, 16 years old, etc...Crystal was portrayed a young teenager). In #61, she was now old enough to wear the proper raiment for an Inhuman princess. Later on (starting in FF #68,after she'd been living at the Baxter Building for a while), she lost the snoods (just retaining the headband) and started to wear "human" clothing (instead of her Inhuman costume) and I always rationalized that to mean she was trying to assimilate into human society.

Mark. Engblom

That's exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of, Shar. What a wonderful overview of Crystal's progression...and what a sharp eye for detail you have! It would have been interesting to see if Pietro (a.k.a. "Quicksilver", Crystal's ex) would have eventually donned a mask as a member of the Royal Family by marriage.

Mark. Engblom

"In fact, the other day I was thinking about a dream project that I'd love Marvel to tackle, assuming a quality creative team, and that was an Inhumans ongoing, this time written and illustrated by a couple creators who obviously have a deep affection for the characters: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer."

Oh, absolutely. That would be a dream project of mine as well. Alan Davis obviously loves the Marvel U as much as I do, with an incredibly deep knowledge of its various "niches".

Mark. Engblom

"I disagree about Magneto's helmet though. I've always thought it made him look kinda dorky. Of course the colors of his costume don't really add to the intimidation factor either."

To each their own, right? I have to say, though, the Magneto helmet made for Ian McKellan in the X-Men movies looks pretty dorky...mainly because it's just too small. But the comic book version just looks so distinctive and sinister to me...which really fits in with Magneto's earlier appearances where he was more of a straight-up supervillain than the morally ambiguous figure he's portrayed as in the modern era.

Mark. Engblom

Anybody know the first "Class Photo" like that? The All Star covers shouldn't count, so at least for DC it may be the Superman Family portrait from the back cover of Superman Annual #6..."

You may be right, Pat. That's my guess as well.

"I would not be surprised to learn that there's a good Captain Marvel Family group photo from the 1940s."

That's another good theory, Pat. I'm sure a Cap expert would be able to confirm that. I have a feeling they might have had something like that, since the Marvel Family rivals even the Superman family in its diversity and complexity.

"My favorite? The Flash Rogues Gallery from Flash Annual #1. Somehow the image of Grodd surrounding all those characters was perfect."

Even more motivation to get my hands on a copy of Flash Annual #1! It's eluded me for awhile, and I'd love to see a shot of the Rogues in their Silver Age glory.

PAUL SAETHER

Come to think of it, there are members of our (British) royal family who would be greatly improved by wearing a mask.

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