Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Cover That Launched A Thousand Remixes

Pltypus handed a shitload of comics that he'd read, laughed and ejaculated over to La Tey in SIN. La Tey was tasked with the handling and delivery of some of them to me over the weekend in KUL. I specifically requested for the volume entitled "Cable And The New Mutants". That, to me, was the Holy Grail of Comics. It contained the first appearance of the man called "Cable" as drawn by Rob Liefeld and scripted by a pening-pening lalat girl called Louise Simonson. It the the most godawful ugly comic in the history of the universe and I loved it more than I loved my grandmother. Furthermore, it contained THIS cover:

"New Mutants" was created by Chris Claremont in the 1980s to introduce the next generation of mutant students at Xavier's. It was a sweet little book that fans liked - somewhat like an answer to the ever-darkening teen-heroes of Marv Wolfman's (post-"Judas Contract") "Titans" over at DC. Aside from some experimental art by Bill Sienkiewicz (another Pltypus-favourite), it was a title that tried too hard to go against the grim-and-gritty waves flooding 80s/90s comics. In short, it was a title that was destined to fail in the long run. Then Marvel had an inspiration. DC's "Titans" had Deathstroke the Terminator (known to kids today as "Slade" because of the cartoon) so we'll darken the "New Mutants" title with "The Man Called CABLE!!" (the two exclamation points are infinitely important from the standpoint of literature, as you'll soon realize). Enter: ROB LIEFELD and the infamous cover above: New Mutants #87. It was inked by then rising-star Todd McFarlane, who'd go on to greater success on "Spider-Man", "Spawn" and slews of violent action-figures. Liefeld, on the other hand, went on to even greater financial success (and infamy) with "X-Force", "Youngblood", "Bloodsport", countless other books with "Blood" or "Die" or "Kill" in their titles, the Heroes Reborn "Captain America", "Supreme", some Biblical books (or should that be "unbiblical books"?), some stuff involving Will Smith's wife and the Backstreet Boys, legal battles with Marvel over "Fighting American", and err... Levi's Jeans! But he was doomed to never exceed the artistic-excellence (?!?) that he once achieved on "New Mutants #87". Hence, like all other one-hit wonder rockstars, he'd return again and again and again to it, remixing it sometimes, rehashing it at other times...

Take for example, the cover above. "Youngblood #5" was actually the fifth issue of the relaunched series - probably the second or the third such relaunches. By then, Liefeld had largely abandoned his Image books - he was having law-suits with BOTH Marvel and Image at the same time. Probably his only joy was getting an opportunity to draw "Captain America" despite the fact that even that work was largely panned by critics. Around that time, Liefeld contributed the cover above. It was meant as a homage - a parody even - of the original cover he did for "New Mutants #87". This time with a Cable-lookalike called "Jeriko" (I don't remember anything else about the character). "Jeriko" was really another Cable-lookalike in a long string of duplicates during the 1990s. Characters with shiny limbs, eyes, lined-constipated faces and gigantic guns were on every cover of every title anyway! In time, Liefeld returned to do another run on "Cable" (by "run", I really mean 2-3 issues), another run on "Wolverine" (again, I really mean 1-2 issues), a complete run on a "Cable and X-Force" miniseries (this time, he did the whole thing with partner-in-crime Fabian Nicieza), covers for the "Shatterstar" mini (by his friend Marat Mychaels - Liefeld was co-plotter), covers for "Cable/Deadpool" (by Fabian Nicieza) and the "Onslaught Reborn" mini (with Jeph Loeb, his former partner at "Awesome").

The latest rehash/remix of "New Mutants #87" is the above "Marvel Apes Variant Cover" for "Cable #6" (another relaunch of the character/title after the cataclysmic events of "Messiah Complex" with no involvement so far from Liefeld aside from the above cover). Can anyone say "Constipated Apes"??? Hahaha! I love Rob's work. I also love his self-deprecating humour (nobody laughs at Rob Liefeld's work more than Rob himself - honest!). I love his in-your-face artwork and his constant self-parodies. Pick up a Rob Liefeld comic for some honest-to-God fun and action. No need for social/political commentaries or lit.crit. analyses. Enjoy... :)


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