Friday, November 16, 2007

By any other name

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet...

Juliet's oft-quoted (and, to be brutally frank, oft-misquoted) line in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet affirms the fact that a thing is what it is, regardless of what title one attaches to it. While sparking a similar thought, Abraham Lincoln purportedly asked the riddle, "How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?" To which Honest Abe supplied the answer: "Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

As is true in literature and in pithy folk wisdom, so it is in comic books, too.

A few months back on Comic Art Friday, we featured this Common Elements artwork by longtime Iron Man writer/artist Bob Layton. That's Booster Gold on the left, and of course, Captain America on the right. (Click the image for an enlarged view.)

As noted previously, the "common element" between these two heroes is the fact that they are displaced in time. Captain America began his career in the 1940s before an extended period in suspended animation (he was frozen in a block of ice), while Booster Gold is a refugee from the far-flung future (the 25th century, to be precise).

The pair, however, share another distinction: Cap and Booster each temporarily battled evil under a different costumed identity. During the post-Watergate period, a disheartened Steve Rogers — the man behind Captain America's mask — spent several issues of Captain America and the Falcon calling himself "Nomad, the Man Without a Country." (Richard Nixon had that effect on a lot of people.) Most recently, during the DC Comics maxiseries 52, Michael Jon Carter — better known to the world as Booster Gold — took on the guise of Supernova, in order to perpetuate the false understanding that Booster himself had been killed.

I thought it would be fun to team Cap and Booster again, this time using their erstwhile alter egos. To maintain the thread of continuity, I once again commissioned Bob Layton to handle the artistic honors. You can see the result below. That's Supernova in the foreground, with Nomad in hot pursuit.

Speaking of the redoubtable Mr. Layton, Iron Man fans are excited about Marvel Comics' upcoming Iron Man/Dr. Doom miniseries, which Bob is co-plotting with his former collaborator, writer David Michelinie. Bob is also inking the book, over the pencils of longtime Silver Surfer artist Ron Lim. Iron Man/Dr. Doom debuts early next year.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


4 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Sam offered these pearls of wisdom...

I thought that the Nomad costume was always one of the best. The Blue and yellow colors worked for me, plus the fact that most Marvel heroes never wore capes helped. I know that Sal Buscema only worked on DC characters a handful of times in his career, but this showed me that he would have been a hell of a Superman artist.

11:18 AM  
Blogger MCF offered these pearls of wisdom...

Whoa. Now I have to dig out that Layton/Michelinie Iron Man anniversary issue I have somewhere in which Doom and Stark go back to Arthurian times.
And the big common element that leaps out at me is the giant star on each character's chest.

7:54 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Sam: I always dug that Nomad costume, too. I never understood why, when Marvel came out with another Nomad many years later, they didn't put him in that exact same outfit.

Sal Buscema is one of the great unsung heroes of comic art, in my opinion. I loved his work on The Defenders, back in the day. His Captain America was one of the best depictions, also.

8:16 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

MCF: The funny thing is, as I mentioned when I originally posted the Cap/Booster piece, I didn't even notice that both heroes had stars on their chests until I had already picked the theme. D'oh!

8:18 PM  

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