Well, here we are again. Sean Edgar, Paste editor and all-around bad person, had the idea that I—an innocent man who has been minding his own business for an entire lifetime, far away from the whole comics scene—should try to describe five characters based on a few drawings with no other context. I suffered through the process last month, and then Jim Vorel, another bad person/Paste editor, made me repeat the whole thing with pro wrestlers—another blind spot in my cultural upbringing. Misery ensued, but I thought I had, at last, paid my penance.
NO. I had not. Like Sisyphus on the mountain, I reached the top only to watch my rock tumble down the far side, forcing me to start the struggle anew. It turns out that Sean sent me more than just five illustrations. We weren’t finished. Hell, we may never be finished. This is how nightmares begin. That said, we’re ready for installment number two—below each picture are my stab-in-the-dark guesses at each character, followed by the truth, as written by Sean. Here we go:
(Editor’s Note: Just so we’re crystal clear, this exercise is not intended to make fun of or mock comic book characters — it’s transparently intended to make fun of Shane.)
Initial thoughts: Well hello! I, uh…my name’s Shane, and I, uh…I’m a…God, sorry, why am I so nervous?...you ever get the feeling where your mouth just goes totally dry and you’re like, why can’t I think?...No?...Are you, uh…I guess you’re a superhero? Or is it superheroine? What’s the pc term there? It doesn’t, I mean…I’ll call you whatever you want (nervous laughter)...I’d even call you my girlfriend, ha ha!! No, no, totally joking, I’m sure you’re…I’m sure you’re married, or whatever…but if not…no?...okay, fair enough. Anyway, your job seems pretty cool. I notice that you’re scantily clad in some kind of metal outfit—not that I’m looking! I swear! I just…well, let’s be honest, it’s a noticeable fashion choice, right? No offense. And you’re sort of gripping your fist in a way that threatens my masculinity, yet also makes me feel up for anything, you know? Am I making you uncomfortable? Anyway, who’s this dude ‘Silvestri’? Is he the guy who drew you? Seems like a dick. You deserve so much better. Hey, can I give you my number, just in case either of us ever need to talk?
My guess at her name: Silvestri’s Wet Dream
My guess at her superpower: Temporarily curing Silvestri’s deep, abiding loneliness.
My guess at her arch enemy: Anyone Silvestri tries to date in real life, only to find that normal women are reluctant to be outfitted for a skimpy metal body suit.
The Truth: NYC Cop Sara Pezzini wields the Witchblade, an ancient glove of primordial power that also served as Excalibur to King Arthur. When in peril, the Witchblade wraps its barbed tendrils around Sara and lashes out at any potential danger. Marc Silvestri is one of the creators of Witchblade; he’s also the CEO behind the publishing line of the comic, Top Cow. He’s married. I may have had an action figure and poster of Witchblade growing up…that I still have…right now…right in front of me. Don’t judge.
Initial thoughts: Okay, Sean, nice try, but you’re not getting two for the price of one here. I’m going to ignore the purple robot man with a thumb tack coming out of his mouth and rope around his genitals in favor of the red devil guy. Let’s start with the setting: We seem to be in the middle of a Sergio Leone film, except instead of Clint Eastwood, we’ve got a muscular red fellow with two sheared horns on his head, cloven hooves, and a reptilian tail. Also, I’m happy to report, a soul patch. His right hand has obviously been amputated and replaced with some kind of steel smashing device, and he’s wearing a tool belt, which I guess is where he keeps his snacks. Or maybe the smashing device is interchangeable, like the nozzle on a vacuum cleaner, and he can replace it depending on the situation. I bet when he hangs out with Silvestri’s Wet Dream, he uses a velvet glove. (I think I just weirded myself out there.)
So, in summary—looks like the devil, someone cuts his horns off, and makes mischief in a graveyard while destroying the Venus de Milo. Seems like a real asshole, which can only mean one thing.
My guess at his name: Sir Vilest (Anagram of Silvestri)
My guess at his superpower: Destroying ancient works of art, which Silvestri thinks are total bs compared to his rad drawings, and WHY WON’T ANYBODY RECOGNIZE HIS GENIUS.
My guess at his arch enemy: That total hack Michelangelo.
The Truth: Does your velvet glove statement reference Curley from Of Mice and Men? Curley wears a leather glove filled with vaseline. Fun fact: we asked our high school literature teacher — Fawn Parks, whose name was actually Fawn Parks and had a twin sister named Dawn Parks — why Curley wore a leather glove filled with vaseline. She refused to explain it.
Hellboy is the creation of Mike Mignola and wealladore Hellboy, especially now that he has his own alcoholic beverage. Hellboy combines the best elements of pulp comics and gothic literature in the adventures of a paranormal investigator who fights Rasputin, mechanical gorillas and Satan. Hellboy is also the biblical Great Beast, but he abandoned his fate as the harbinger of end times to protect humanity. He’s never dated Witchblade.
Initial thoughts: Sean, what are you doing to me? Why am I being forced into this bizarre world that I was always content to pretend never existed? This picture makes me think of weird furry conventions, where people see you trying to escape and start chanting “GOOBLE GOBBLE ONE OF US.”
I don’t even know. Maybe this is a terrible spin-off of Rocky and Bullwinkle? Maybe this woman goes on adventures with her squirrel? Maybe she’s trying to start a line of one-piece fur bathing suits? I don’t know what’s in her little storage belt there, but my best guess? Chloroform.
My guess at her name: Peter Pan’s Deranged Cousin
My guess at her superpower: Sinking her horrible tooth into law-abiding citizens and giving them an antibiotic-resistant strain of super-rabies.
My guess at her arch enemy: Louis Pasteur.
Squirrel Girl, aka Doreen Green, is a refreshing reminder that comic book characters don’t need to be grim, gritty or sexually stimulate Shane Ryan to entertain. Green is a mutant — the same species as the X-Men — with the physiological power of squirrels who also talks to squirrels and has a best squirrel friend named Tippy-Toe. Writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson recently relaunched a new series in which Green moves out of The Avenger’s attic to attend college. It’s absurdly charming. Squirrel Girl also beat up Wolverine once and served as babysitter to the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. But thanks for judging her on her one-piece fur bathing suit. The style isn’t unheard of, OK?
Initial thoughts: GODDAMIT, SEAN.
Where to begin. First of all, there’s something hilarious about creating a spider superhero, and then making “guns” and “knives” her weapons of choice. Like, what, you thought I was going to kill you with venom or wrap you up in a web? Nope! Sawed-off shotgun, revolver, and a tomahawk (and a candlestick holder? Is that what that is?). The whole spider thing is incidental, just a weird coincidence. It’d be like if Aquaman’s main power was that his dad was a state senator and can get him out of parking tickets. Anyway, this illustration is really disturbing. I don’t want to know what “game” she’s referencing, and I also don’t want to know why she seems to paint her spider toenails black. Same thing with the eight eyes—don’t care, just want to put this one behind us.
My guess at her name: The accidental spider.
My guess at her superpower: Can shoot like four guns at once instead of the usual two.
My guess at her arch enemy: Spider-Man, or any other fully realized superhero whose origin is more complex than some guy (probably Silvestri) going, “whoa, wouldn’t it be NUTS if a spider had guns?!”
The Truth: The Stalk is an interstellar bounty hunter from Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ progressive sci-fi epic about love, war and perseverance. She initially pursues a family on the run from two military forces, but meets a violent end at the hands of TUBE-HEAD THE STANDARD DEFINITION SECRET AGENT. The Stalk is incredibly likable, funny and challenging, though she cheats on another character in the story, so you might want to stick to Silvestri’s Wet Dream, Shane.
Initial thoughts: Is that an ent from Lord of the Rings??? Did I get this one??
My guess at his name: Is it?! Am I right??! It’s a fucking tree person, Sean, it has to be an ent! JUST GIVE IT TO ME.
My guess at his superpower: It’s not an ent, is it? You’re going to break my heart, I can sense it.
My guess at his arch enemy: Sauron.
The Truth: Shane: the above character was in the biggest movie of the summer. He even has a dancing pot figurine and inspired a ubiquitous catchphrase. I…just…can’t…. Fuck it. Yeah, it’s an ent.