Sunday, November 13, 2016

Elasti-Girl The Good Parts Version 8

We have made it to the 8th Doom Patrol story and I'm feeling worried, folks.  In my last post I showed you the new romance subplot that had been added to Rita's character in the first ever Doom Patrol comic (formerly My Greatest Adventure and keeping the same numbering.) A mutual interest between Rita and Larry that wasn't getting too far because Larry had a deep dark secret that meant he slept in a metal lined room.

My concern was and still is that Rita's character gets turned into the girlfriend and we start losing out on her kicking ass at various sizes.  I know it's kind of silly to feel this way about a comic that was cancelled before I was born in a story that I know at least the major plot elements from thanks to years of reading about comics.  But at this point I feel invested in getting as much out of the sixties run as I can.  There's something about the silver age of comics that I love and there's a lack of quality size related characters in the era.  Gil Kane's work on the Atom was great, but the comic had too few women in it for my tastes.  And the 60's Wasp started out in the role of girlfriend and didn't go beyond that until, arguably, the 70's or 80's.

So we've made it to Doom Patrol 87 and another meet up with the Brotherhood of Evil in a story that appears to be my own worst case scenario.  The budding romance between the two characters is pushed to the forefront and this comic has the least amount of shrunken/grown Rita that I've come across so far.  

There's going to be more non-size related screen captures this time around folks.  Normally an issue of Doom Patrol nets me at least a dozen or so ok to great images of Rita shifting size.  This one had four.  Although one of them is pretty damn awesome IMO.

We have yet another cover with a normal sized Rita so I'll skip ahead to a scene with Rita driving the DP.  No size changing, but it's a nice picture of Rita with the wind in her hair.  I also find it interesting that she's driving since Cliff is actually a professional race car driver.  I'd give the creators credit, but they'll quickly lose it in later panels.

And notice the way they show Negative Man returning to Larry's body.  The multiple in-panel images  are similar to the ones used to suggest Rita's size change.  The one's I've had a nit to pick with over the implied motion of the character.  Here it is definitely used to convey rapid motion.

Rita.  In the driver's seat where she belongs.

And when she's done driving she needs to come to the rescue.  And that's  the size step that Rita makes when changing sizes that I referred to above.  The way the artist shows her at various stages of her size changing, but has her shift to the side in addition to getting bigger or smaller.  I'm still not a huge fan of the technique, but I am a fan of what happens next.

North By Northwest would have been a very different movie
had Rita been cast in the the Cary Grant role.

Rita grabs a plane!

Out of the fucking sky!

She even does it the right way and obeys the fast and loose laws of comic book physics.  This is a magnificent display of her power, courage, and intelligence.  She's not invulnerable.  Those propellers would be more than capable of cutting her to pieces if she let them make contact with her skin.  There is so much that I love in this panel.  The stress marks on Rita's extended arms.  The way her hair is being blown back by the propellers.  The fact that we can see the control tower behind her so we have even more perspective on her scale.

"I believe I can fl...oh, poopie."

Since we're low on great size images from this issue let me blow that one up for you.

So Rita has her moment of awesome followed up by this turd wrapped in cliche smothered in sexism.  I'm not saying that 60's Doom Patrol didn't have its sins, but up until now it read as one of the more progressive books in the era.  At least in terms of how it dealt with women.

This issue, not so much.

We see Rita go from jealous, to needy, to incompetent in the span of a few panels.  And did I mention the cattiness?  If it weren't for the soap opera elements leading up to it, I might forgive Rita being taken out so easily.  Plot devices run strong in comics and there are many instances of characters getting the short end of the plot stick in order for the writer to get them where they need to be.  This isn't the first time that a villain has gotten the upper hand on her, but those felt different.  At least to me.  

"I'm just going to pretend I'm not in this issue, boys."

So it turns out this was an elaborate plot to steal an army of mechanical toy soldier things by the Brotherhood of Evil.  That involved the Blonde Poodle (as Rita called her) using her French feminine wiles to get Larry to steal the plans.  Shenanigans ensue and Rita gets to get large again.  I wanted to see more shots of her ripping up tanks, but the soap opera plot took up too many pages.

So the Chief feels great "glee" when he sees Rita expand and attack?
Who am I to throw stones?

Rita gets sidelined pretty quickly in order for Larry to save the day.  Of course he has to reveal the horrible secret beneath his bandages to take out the giant toy army.  But that's ok, Rita is still interested in him.

This issue has a "very special episode" vibe that I hope goes away and never comes back.  But Rita still pulled a plane out of the sky.  I don't know if that redeems this issue, but it was pretty damn sweet.

Until next time Tall Believers!  Make mine Rita!

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Caption: Indecisive Smurf