A Comics Novice Tries to Describe 5 Characters Based on Illustrations Alone

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Good morning. My name is Shane, and the reason I’m writing this post is because Sean Edgar, our comics editor, is a bad person. He thought it’d be funny if someone like me, who knows absolutely nothing about comics, was forced to identify and describe a series of characters based only on one illustration per character. He sent me the images, with no text or other identifying material, and made me vow not to Google any of them—not that I’d know where to begin—as I wrote down my thoughts on who they are, where they’re from, what superpowers they hold, and etc. Sean was thorough in his paranoia—even the file names have been changed to random strings of letters, such as “asdfsf.jpg” and “fasdfdsf.jpg” and one called, for some reason, “BOOMBOX_Lumberjanes_001_C.jpg.”

About me: I think I read one or two Richie Rich comics by accident when I was a kid when I found them in a box in the attic among my dad’s childhood belongings. Other than that? Nothing. I can, of course, recognize the main superheroes, but beyond Spiderman and Superman, I am very much on the ignorant end of the spectrum. Which is very much where I like to be—I have nothing against comic book fans, and I enjoy shows like The Walking Dead that are derived from comic books, but there are some things in life that just never took root, and never will. For me, those things are origami, snowboarding, and comic books. There are probably others, but mainly those three.

This is going to be completely miserable. Let’s begin.

1.

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Initial thoughts: It’s a lady! Are comic fans like gamers where everyone is super sexist? If so, I feel bad for her and her illustrator, who has undoubtedly received death threats and angry Twitter messages. It’s about ethics in comics journalism! But enough of that. On a less political level, she seems to have a close relationship with fire, and the little wings not he side of her helmet look vaguely like they belong to a butterfly or a moth. All I can think about is the phrase “like a moth to a flame,” but I’m guessing that a superhero who just flies madly into fires wouldn’t be very appealing to readers.

So let’s look deeper…her belt is pretty huge, which must mean she’s from Texas, or related to that crazy joyologist from SNL. She seems to be holding some kind of stick behind her head, which looks like the club they use in the sport of Irish hurling. That, plus the red hair, means she’s probably Irish, right? Maybe Catholic? Otherwise, she is wearing lots of metal gear, and has some kind of tapestry scarf thing with X’s flowing everywhere, plus lightning bolt type things painted on her face. The more I look at this picture, the more I feel sort of attracted to her, which means this whole project is off to an awful start, and I should move on.

My guess at her name: The Belfast Moth Girl

My guess at her superpower: Beats people to death with her hurling stick, and then lights them on fire. Or vice versa.

My guess at her arch enemy: Protestant Water Boy

The Truth: Angela is a former warrior angel created by Neil Gaiman. After playing a pivotal roll in the comic book Spawn, she was acquired by Marvel where she serves as an occasional Guardian of the Galaxy and sister to Norse god and founding Avenger, Thor.

2.

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Initial thoughts: This looks so much like Wes Anderson, the film director, that I feel like it has to be some insane fan fiction by a dude who really loves The Royal Tenenbaums. He’s even surrounded in spiritual Buddhist-y energy waves with vaguely tie-dye colors. It’s granola-hippy Wes Anderson! Okay, fine—let’s assume it’s not Wes Anderson. He looks like a tortured artist, complete with a pendant (not a real weapon, dude) and a robe with a paisley-ish design. He’s staring down and to the right, anguished, tortured by the dark emo-goth poetry in his soul, but his hair seems messy on purpose, like he uses styling gel. I bet women love this guy. I hate him. If he’s dating Belfast Moth Girl, I’m already upset. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

My guess at his name: Davorin D’Shadow, or something shitty like that.

My guess at his superpower: Crying?

My guess at his arch enemy: A high school locker room.

The Truth: Morpheus is the protagonist of The Sandman, largely regarded as one of the most literary, sophisticated comic series in the history of the medium. Morpheus is the personification of all dreams and the brother of other anthropomorphic entities like Death, Desire and Destruction. The character has never dated Belfast Moth Girl, but he was created by the same person, Neil Gaiman. You’ll probably receive angry comments from people who love The Sandman — definitely from Paste Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson.

3.

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Initial thoughts: NOW HERE’S A REAL BRUISER! He seems awfully grim, and muscular, and it looks like half of his head has been burned. Which doesn’t stop him from growing his hair out on the other half, which gives him the potential for a really epic combover that he’s choosing not to act upon. Dude is ripped, and has deer horns coming about fist. Did his mom mate with a reindeer, and that’s the only deer trait he received in the genetic lottery? Otherwise, he’s got a solid six-pack ,and he doesn’t take care of his pants very well. His enemies are factory workers in a steel mill who are just trying to do their jobs. Maybe he’s their foreman, and these two were slacking, or trying to take collective action. Maybe he’s employed by a cabal of CEOs who are trying to return America to Gilded Age times, when workers toiled 14 hours per day until they died of black lung.

My guess at his name: The Reindeer Foreman

My guess at his superpower: Reindeer horn fists, immunity to fire?

My guess at his arch enemy: Union leaders.

The Truth: Daken is Wolverine’s evil son. The rest of Shane’s description is shockingly accurate.

4.

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Initial thoughts: WHAT. THE. HELL. IS. THIS. GUY. My God, this has to be a joke, right? A dude with a tv head—an old tv, at that, with rabbit ears and crappy reception—who dresses like an opulent French king on his right shoulder, a fancy admiral on his right, and an Indian prince around his waist? That, plus he has his finger ominously on a globe? I have to think that Sean is messing with me here. This is a blatantly ridiculous image, and there’s no way it could be a real comic character. IT CAN’T BE REAL. But, okay, if it is? Maybe he can put his finger on any spot on the globe and immediately call up a television feed from that area? He seems to have his fingers on the Arctic circle now, and maybe the snow on the television is literally snow. That would be kind of cool, I guess. He’d be the perfect spy, because he’d never have to leave that one room. You could even, I suppose, indulge his schizophrenic taste in clothing. Of course, it would be better if he had a bigger globe or smaller fingers, because he’s cutting a pretty wide swath right now…it’s like a shitty satellite.

My guess at his name: TUBE-HEAD THE STANDARD DEFINITION SECRET AGENT, or LUNATIC JAMES BOND 

My guess at his superpower: Broadcasting footage in 1,000 square mile increments.

My guess at his archenemy: Logic.

The Truth: Prince Robot IV is the primary antagonist of Saga, a multi-award winning comic book by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Robot pursues the family of Marko, Alana and baby Hazel across the cosmos because of their ideological threat to an epic war. Recently, Prince Robot joined forces with Marko after a janitor kidnapped his son and absconded with Alana and Hazel. Of course, you might know this, Shane, if you read the Paste cover story on it.

5.

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Initial thoughts: Hilarious, Sean. You bastard.

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