Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Top 10 Tuesdays - 10 Comic Character Accessories

Accessories make the hero, or so the poorly paraphrased saying goes, and so here I’m going to address my top ten favourite pieces of comic book accouterments. It seems like it’s a little ring heavy to start off with but then we get to the purely sublime. This list is only limited to extras that can be carried, guns not allowed, and articles of clothing certainly off the list.

1 - Green Lantern Ring

I am only including one ring from that whole emotional spectrum, and I’m staying classic. Now, I’m not talking about the sweat shop made sales lures that DC knocked out during the Blackest Night event I’m talking about the actual thing that the character wears. I don’t read a lot of DC but if I’ve got it right it means that whoever is the Green Lantern is gets this wicked cool ring that can manifest anything you can think of. You can make novelty-sized baseball mitts to catch your flying compadres with or turn your will forced energy into a sniper rifle to better direct the aim of your retribution. It’s pretty cool, even if it is a little too powerful for my liking. If I wrote a GL story I’d have an older Lantern have gone nuts and created their own planet filled with people completely from the ring and they slowly lose more of their mind in this self-fulfilled fantasy land. That would be a cool story.

2 - Legion Ring

I only included this ring because I think it looks the coolest and would be one that I’d actually wear but then as I researched it I found out that if you wear one you get the ability to fly, even in outer space. This is because the Valorium is a special material (so I can’t knock one up in gold-plated stainless steel and consider myself from the 31st century, which sucks) and so imbues the wearer with these special qualities. I’m assuming it also helps people breath in outer space, or else you have to provide your own flight suit, otherwise that thing should come with a warning or something. I wonder if DC will ever write about other Legion rings, maybe even from the 41st century, that help you live underwater, or teleport, or jump to the front of really long lines for cold lemonade on hot days.

3.- The Phantom’s Ring

He’s the ghost who walks, and so to ensure that some people don’t actually believe he’s some false superstition or doctored photo he makes sure to leave a permanent mark, and that’s where his rings come in. He wears two of them, one on each hand, and one is for good people and the other for bad. The rings are forged like those old wax seals so that they can permanently imprint people, so when he punches you with the bad ring it leaves a permanent skull mark on you and then all shall know of your dastardly ways. That sounds pretty good, like a scarlet letter, though I assume he doesn’t pimp slap too many ladies of the night, but I figure rather than branding these villains and then setting them off into the night why doesn’t he just finished the job, either jail or death will suffice, I’m not picky. It seems a little silly to mar these people but not actually try and stop them. I figure most crims would wear their skull mark as a badge of pride that they fought the Phantom and got away.

My other concern is his good ring. I consider myself a good guy, one of the best I’ve ever had the honour of meeting, but I don’t want to have to get floored with a left-handed cross just to get a mark to prove I’m good. Even if it’s just a hearty back hand slap I still don’t want it. I’d rather fall in the camp of people Phantom doesn’t know or guys he hasn’t made up his mind about yet.

4 - Mandarin Rings

I never wore a permanent ring until I got married and I’m not one to judge, if I were offered any of the previous rings I’d be all over them, to be honest, but I don’t think I have the commitment it takes to wear five rings on each hand, no matter what they all do. The Mandarin comes from a  different country than me so perhaps it’s a cultural thing, I won’t say it’s lame, but it can’t be easy sneaking up on the good guy when you’ve got ten little tinkles coming from your hands constantly. With their power combined he’s able to do some pretty cool stuff, but he still looks like a goon. I’d keep them in a sack, or some pouches on my suit, and bust them out as necessary. You know there’s at least one completely gaudy one he only ever uses once a decade but he just can’t bring himself to take off, or heaven forbid, get rid off. There needs to be a superpowered good will shop to donate these things to.

5 - Eye of Agamotto

This is the pimp medallion that every rapper wishes they had. It’s big, it’s round, it’s starin’ at all the ladies, and it’s completely awesome. It helps that Stephen Strange packs it into an ensemble that includes one of the best capes in the business, a pencil thin moustache, and Wong the ever present Asian man-servant. Strange has got it all going on but the Eye of Agamotto ties it all together. Through it, Strange can summon all sorts of mystic powers and that's what you need from your added jewellery, extra abilities. Dr Strange held down the role of Sorcerer Supreme for years wielding this bad boy in all manner of fights. Now it resides with Brother Voodoo, though seems to have become a heavy plot point in the latest New Avengers relaunch. Perhaps they’ll look into branching out in Eye of Agamotto rings, they seem to be the thing to have.

6 - Luke Cage’s Tiara

I don’t think I’ll ever understand why this impenetrable bruiser from the Bronx decided to wear a golden tiara atop his manly and intimidating ‘fro. Scientists could work round the clock, in shifts, to throw anything from chaos theory to multiple level string mathematics at this conundrum and they’ll never figure it out. It’s one of those things like why Santa even kept Rudolph around in the first place or how Matt Murdock still has past lovers who aren’t completely incapacitated. This is the worst, most laughable, and probably racially obnoxious costume design but the weirdest thing is that Cage still manages to pull it off. That’s his power, the ability to actually make certain items of clothing work when by all chemistry and physics they shouldn’t. There’s no point getting angry or feigning confusion when in the end you just have to pay respect. Perhaps it’s because he accessorised it with that damn chain belt.

7 - Black Widow’s Bracelets

Functional. Sexy. Dangerous. Fatal. Do I even need to string a sentence together for this one? Just imagine her only wearing these little trinkets. ‘Nuff said.

Okay, so as not to come across as a complete mysoginist ass, these bracelets are cool because they're her main weapon, they discharge the dreaded 'widow's bite', which is a massive electric charge that drops most people she nails with it. She's also had tear gas cartridges in there, radio transmitters, even plastic explosives. They're like the Bat Utility Belt except way easier to accessorise with and nowhere near as lame because the Black Widow would never need shark repellant, she'd just pick the shark up and homerun swing her enemy with it in the face. Not really, she's not that strong but she's easily that awesome.

8 - Clark Kent’s Glasses

A few pieces of metal around some glass lens and suddenly no one can recognise you. That’s a pretty cool gadget, you’d expect it to be some sort of alien technology or S.H.I.E.L.D. encoded transformation device to be able to get people to see you as someone completely different. No, it’s just some cheap dime store glasses. A mate of mine tried to tell me that the lenses even alter the colours of his eyes, but if someone wore contact lenses that modified their iris colour I doubt I’d suddenly lose them in a room. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, or perhaps using some shoddy frames and a different part really does make the man someone new. I’ll have to try it some time, see if I can play my own party animal twin brother, Mike.

9 - Jesse Custer’s Lighter

There’s absolutely no doubting that this fine piece of accessory is all that is bad ass in the world. For all of Ennis’ hardcore meat sex and bullets that shattered craniums, his lasting tribute to the world of cool was the ‘Fuck Communism’ lighter. This thing was given to Custer's father during the war by John Wayne. It’s brilliant and says so much without needing to say more than two words. It’s an economy of words, and ideas, that Ennis doesn’t always possess but here he created something that would leap from the pages and define what it meant to have an enemy, and to stick it to them.

10 - Spider-Man’s Web Shooters

I love how Stan Lee always wanted to explain how things worked. He’s had little cross section diagrams made up of Daredevil’s billy club and the secret headquarters of all the gangs but the one that always fascinated me as a kid was the web shooter. Seeing just how it worked and having the science fit into the story so that Peter would have to make the web fluid, and it would usually break down within an hour, and he could run out of it while on the job was just awesome storytelling in all aspects of the craft. Stan was always thinking that one step ahead, sure, his reasons and explanations weren’t guaranteed to be logical but they were sure as hell a damn lot of fun. Having Peter walk around with these web shooters on his wrist all day was something that any kid could pretend to have. That’s what makes comics fun, the fact that kids can play it and every kid wanted a pair of these.

It's an amazing world when you delve into the accessories that comic characters are adorned with. It's this little minutae that fills a universe and adds density to the reading experience. What comic jewellery would you most like to wear, and what would you do with it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Ryan Schrodt said...

A friend gave me a replica of Jesse Custer's lighter as a wedding gift, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Ivan said...

"If I wrote a GL story I’d have an older Lantern have gone nuts and created their own planet filled with people completely from the ring and they slowly lose more of their mind in this self-fulfilled fantasy land."

That's what almost happened to Hal Jordan during Emerald Twilight, but then a Guardian stopped him. And then he killed the entire Green Lantern Corps. And that's also kinda what Frank Miller did in the dreadful DK2.

Rol said...

You're telling me Clark's specs are cooler than Spidey's webshooters? Truly you have no geek-shame, Ryan!

KentL said...

Batman's Utility belt!
Thor's hammer!
Flash's ring!
Wonder Woman's lasso!
Daredevil's billy club!
Silver Surfer's surfboard!
Superman's cape!

Can't believe none of the above made it on the list.

Anonymous said...

what about Batman's belt?

Matt Duarte said...

@Kent/Anonymous: Ryan approached this as accessories that you put in your body, so that excludes for example Thor hammer, WW's lasso and Silver Surfer's board (and Cap's shield for that matter). And I think he purposely avoided items of clothing as well, so that cancels out Batman's belt and Supes' cape. As for the Flash ring, looks like he had plenty of rings there already, haha.

Kraken said...

"Ryan approached this as accessories that you put in your body"

The Weekly Crisis is getting naughtier by the minute...

Markus said...

Web shooters for the win!

natureboyHH said...

Is that how Phantom's rings work? He should use a ring with "UNITY" on it, shout out people's names and punch them on the forehead.

Brian Dickey said...

In light of Kraken's statement above, I believe we should all take a moment to remember the great Codpiece from Doom Patrol. If I had a link I'd post it. His was definitely an all-time great accessory in my eyes.

Matt Duarte said...

@Kraken: Haha, damn, you caught us. Ryan never specified *where* he was going to wear the Mandarin rings.

Aaron K said...

"If I wrote a GL story I’d have an older Lantern have gone nuts and created their own planet filled with people completely from the ring and they slowly lose more of their mind in this self-fulfilled fantasy land."

I read that story. It was called Avengers Disassembled/House of M.

I think Batman's utility belt is the obvious and most egregious omission. Belts are just as much accessories as are bracelets like those of Black Widow, which are not ornamental jewelry in the least, but are actually weapons. Heck, Sara Pezzini's Witchblade might as well qualify since it's jewelry *most* of the time.

Similarly, Daredevil's billy club during the Stan Lee era was nearly comparable to Batman's utility belt for the amount of junk stuffed in there.

Nick Fury's eyepatch!
J. Jonah Jameson's cigar!
Cerebus' medallions!
Wonder Woman's indestructible bracelets!
Ms. Marvel's sash!
Black Bolt's ... tuning fork!

Marc said...

I don't smoke, but ever since reading that issue of Preacher I've always wanted a "Fuck Communism" lighter.

Anyway, great article. I never quite realized how many characters had rings before!

twobitspecialist said...

lol What Aaron said about House of M. That hadn't occured to me.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Not sure how to explain my choices....ah, it's my list, I make the rules...does that count? Ha.

I wanted this to be more a piece about jewellery, but having glasses made it sound a bit different to jewellery, but bracelets count (so both the Widow and Spider get theirs) and then the lighter had to fit here.

As for Batman's belt, well, I knew I was excluding it, if that helps, I just didn't want to get into it. Too obvious, not interesting enough for me...compared to the other choices.

@KentL - most of yur choices are weapons (small deliniation but one I'll make here) so they don't count, and Sufer's board is a mode of transportation, so would be on another list. I also forgot the Flash had a ring, doesn't his suit come out of it?

@Aaron - see above for some of your list, though Fury's patch is a decent addition, as is JJJ's cigar. I'd put Ms Marvel's sash exceot it sucks in the highest degree. You'll notice I only have ten spots, but everyone else is welcome to populate their own list in the comments.

@NatureboyHH - once that company that does the Gaga and Sarah Palin company does a comic about the event at the late, great China Club the UNITY ring will get plenty of fair play, ha.

Oh, and I have a Fuck Communism lighter as well. It's among the other junk around my desk. It's also awesome.

Bill said...

I'll take Spider Jerusalem's glasses over Clark Kent's.

Aaron K said...

@Ryan - "I'd put Ms. Marvel's sash except it sucks to the highest degree." I'm going to pretend you didn't say that. Don't make me get Anika from fantasticfangirls.org to kick your butt!

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@AaronK - Does Anika rate the character because of the sash? I don't see how anyone can rate that sash, it's pretty superfluous, in fact, the entire costume is possibly the most demeaning costuem out there, it's terrible. But perhaps that's just me.

Aaron K said...

@Ryan - I can't speak for her on this exactly, but I'd guess that the sash is not what she loves Ms. Marvel for. I still think the costume is pretty awesome though, and the sash adds a great dash of color. You can't get too caught up on superfluous elements of costumes. Almost nothing about costumes is functional.

I think a better "demeaning" argument can be made for Emma Frost, Satana, or Power Girl rather than Ms. Marvel, who is basically wearing a one-piece swimsuit and thigh-high boots. Heck, look at what Tiger's Beautiful Daughter was fighting in - a piece of ribbon. Sorry to go off on a tangent in your accessories post.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@AaronK, ha, tangents are what the internet was built on....if you consider porn tangents in otherwaise well acted scenes...anyway, I digress.

I'd list Ms Marvel's costume as the worst because at least Emma Frost's matches her personality very well, and Power Girl has some fun with hers, but Ms Marvel wants to be taken seriously as a team leader, not dressed like that you won't. Luke Cage knew he had to update before he became a team/s leader so Ms Marvel needs to look the part too.

I almost hate that people have riled against Wonder Woman's new costume because at least now it seems kinda real and functional. (And I know I'm having a massive debate over female costumes in comcis, yes, I've become that nerd, don't tell my wife.) I'd much prefer to see all female characters start to dress appropriately. Some lady is about to go on patrol to fight crime, pack some pants with pockets and you're ready to go, you can carry stuff, you won't get cold. I don't read comics to perve on chicks (see, honey, I don't...hi, honey!) so I see no need to make them sexual in their appearance with swimming costumes and such.

Okay, rant over. I think....or is it just starting...?

Simon DelMonte said...

Underdog's secret energy pill ring.

Quantum's cheat book (which was really the Junior Woodchuck guide as reimagined by Priest)

Jimmy Olsen's watch

The Atom's size control belt

Daredevil's cane turned billy club and rappelling line.

Iron Man's suitcase armor

Anonymous said...

Check out this comic jewellery, jewellery made using discarded comic book cuttings.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Phantom's Ringa, you wrote:
"My other concern is his good ring. I consider myself a good guy, one of the best I’ve ever had the honour of meeting, but I don’t want to have to get floored with a left-handed cross just to get a mark to prove I’m good. Even if it’s just a hearty back hand slap I still don’t want it. I’d rather fall in the camp of people Phantom doesn’t know or guys he hasn’t made up his mind about yet."

He doesn't jab good people. He tells them to put out their hand (left, I think, though I'm not sure), palm up, and then just presses the ring against their wrist. That can't hurt too bad, right? :)
Cool list, btw

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I did not realise this. Thank you for pointing it out. I was clearly too lazy to Google it myself. Cheers :)

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