Sunday, October 9, 2016

Elasti-Girl The Good Parts Version Part Six

There's a lot to unpack in this installment of E-GtGPV so I'm going to cut the usual explanation of why you aren't getting the full story and dive right in.

This week we're looking at My Greatest Adventure #85 and it's a doozy.  After a couple issues of a normal sized Rita on the cover DC wised up and had a more than full sized Elasti-Girl front and center this time around.

It's a solid action scene with a monster that reminds me of something out of 60's Scooby Doo cartoons.  Call me biased, but Rita dominates this cover.  It just gets better once you get inside.

Another good sign.  The splash page wasn't just an alternate take on the cover.  When I see that I always think that the creative team were running low on ideas and needed to pad things out.

As usual some stuff happens before Rita changes size.  Stuff that you can find by buying an officially licensed DC reprint of this fine comic on Amazon or your local comic book shop.  [See, DC Comics/Time Warner, I'm just advertising your product.  Nothing to sue me over.  Really.]

This is at least the second time where Rita's size change has been depicted as a set of three images.  While it's clear that she is shrinking (since the clearest of the three images is the smallest) I'm not a fan of this technique.  This is better than the last example of this that I've seen, but it still looks like Rita is shrinking and taking a step back at the same time.  Who knows, maybe she is.

They were going to be "eel infested waters," but there was a lawsuit.

The panel below has what I think is the first definitive use of the name Elasti-Girl in the series' history.  Unless I missed it.  Which is highly likely.  I've been around the block enough to know that as soon as someone makes a claim about comic books that someone else will point out where they are wrong.

Up until now she'd been referred to as Rita with the occasional use of Elati-Woman.  The text seems to be going out of it's way to tell us her name.  Like there was a lot of kickback from readers wondering WTH was going on with this book and the super heroes not using their code names all the time.  I wish they'd stuck with Elasti-Woman personally, but they didn't.

This is also the second time that Rita has gone diving.  The last time she was in giantess mode (back in this post.  At that time the Chief made her a giant set of scuba equipment that the team had to lug around with them.  This time she's going to go in tiny to avoid getting a shark bite.  At first I thought this was a bit of a plot contrivance, but I suppose a shark bite would be pretty nasty even if you were 60 feet tall.  They'd be like piranha at that size.  So I don't blame her for riding along with the man of metal.

It's nice to see that her diving costume is also the standard Doom Patrol green.  And that she got to ditch the skirt for pants in the cold water.

Sylvia Plath?

I like the idea of Rita being a super locksmith, getting inside the lock and working the tumblers from the inside.  But this page does raise questions about her powers.  Questions that must be asked.  The world demands answers!  The five people reading this demand answers!

So the last time Rita went diving she had special giant equipment made for her.  Now it looks like she has some mini scuba gear as well.  I'm guessing based on her not being in scuba gear in the shrinking image.  But in the middle of the mission she explicitly shrinks again.  Not only her body and her clothes (which had to change size with her to keep this comic Code approved) but the diving gear as well.  How exactly do her powers work?

And does little Rita risk getting the bends by swimming a few feet up?  Answers, I must have answers!

I tried this once with a salamander.  It didn't work.

And now a rare non-size scene.  

The Chief convinces Rita to go back to Hollywood to prove to the world that freaks like the Doom Patrol are blah blah blah.  

And, boy, is Hollywood ready for her.  The film script sounds a little bit like The Incredible Shrinking Man only with a lab accident instead of a radiation/insecticide cocktail.  And an antidote.  You'll also note that the "shrunken" man in the film within the comic has normal sized clothes.  Unlike ISM where the hero had to make do with kids' clothes, then doll clothes, then rags cut off from said doll clothes.

I appreciate the fact that, for exposition purposes, the director has to tell Rita what the story is about.  But it would seem to make more sense to me if he did it as a pitch to get Rita to sign on to his film instead of basically telling her about it while she's in costume about to start filming her first scene.  And we can tell it's Hollywood cause the director calls her Rita-Baby.  That and the text box that says "THE FOLLOWING WEEK IN HOLLYWOOD ..."

It's scenes like these that made a very young Taedis think that movies were pretty much improved.  

Even in civilian life, Rita found it impossible to wear anything other than a green dress.

It may just be me, but Rita on the ladder in that last panel is as cute as a button.

So Rita swallows her pride and decides to play the shrinking woman.  Putting her over 15 years ahead of Lilly Tomlin in a joke so limited only the size community will get it.  

The page below contains a couple references to size in pop culture. 

The most obvious is the cat attack.  That was one of the most famous scenes from The Incredible Shrinking Man.  Only Scott Carey didn't have anything to protect himself with and ended up taking a bit of a tumble on his way to a date with an even scarier assailant.

The other is having a tiny character type out things on a normal sized typewriter by jumping from key to key.  There was a series of articles, essays, and cartoons called archy and mehitabel that featured a cockroach who typed things out that way.  Since he couldn't hit the shift key and the letter he was jumping on at the same time he had to write in all lower case letters.  Presumably the typewriter Rita is using has been shift locked.  Although that doesn't explain the exclamation point.

Now I have to write a book called The Diminishing Lady.

I've heard some comments in other forums concerning my look back on Rita's adventures, and the treatment of female characters in the era.  There's a legitimate critique of the comic as sexist.  I personally think that Rita started out better than most female super heroes who debuted in the 60's, but most of them got better with changing attitudes and writers.  Rita never made that transition.  I appreciate that Rita was given more than most female heroes (and comic characters in general) at a time when things weren't that awesome to be a lady in this world or the four color one.

I bring this up because sexism plays an integral part of the plot this go around.  The three male members of the Doom Patrol decide that Rita shouldn't go on the dangerous mission so they trick her into taking a movie roll so she's not there when they do their thing.

It's not explicitly called sexism in the story, but it was.  The difference, at least in my mind, is that the sexism is on the part of the characters and not the creators.  There are other times when the creators are being sexist.  I'm not going to defend those, but this time they had three dudes make a sexist judgment call only to have the woman they were trying to protect pull their asses out of the magma.

When Rita finds out what happened she comes up with a plan and uses her brains and brawn to make it work.  OK, they put in a bit of exposition about the Chief teaching her how to turn a bathysphere into something you can take to the Earth's core, but they had to come up with some quick excuse for how someone without a degree from MIT would be able to pull that one off and having the Chief give her some engineering lessons on the sly is more palatable than some other options.

I love the way her size is portrayed in this panel.

"Dammit, Chief!  I'm an actress, not an engineer!"
 As I implied, things were not that great for the boys in the Doom Patrol when Rita got down there.  I'm pretty sure they hand waved some science getting to this point, but who cares?
"Come with me if you want to live."

As readers of previous installments have learned, I like to read the Chief's dialog in the voice of Prof. Farnsworth from Futurama.  Try it yourself.  It's fun and cheap.

Add caption
 What you don't see (at least not that clearly) yet is the giant energy monsters that were causing all the hubbub.  You'll get a good look at them in a little while and we can all compare them to that monster on Scooby Doo.  Right now the team needs a plan involving some sketchy science, a cyborg with power equipment, and a giant actress who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.  Or turn her friend into a giant robot rolling pin.

"Use me and abuse me, Rita!  It's all good."

Now this is close to the scene shown on the cover, but I much prefer this one to what made it there.  For one thing you have the bizarre wackiness of Rita using Cliff as a rolling pin that got ignored on the cover.  The cover does have Rita holding everything up.  Which is probably more heroic for all of them, but this is a bit grittier and weirder.

There are some excellent moments for Rita in this story, but I think the one panel that speaks the most to me is this one.  It really conveys Rita's size and gives you a sense of confined power.  

Spoiler alert.  The Doom Patrol save the day and learn a valuable lesson that girls don't have cooties.  Only I don't think they actually say that out loud.  It's just understood that they are cootie-free.  Pretty much.

Until next time Tall Believers!  Make mine Rita!

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Caption: Indecisive Smurf