(Editor’s note: In the months to come, proprietor Dean Compton and I hope to share with you the thoughts on an increasingly diverse array of comics from even more fellow lovers of that most Unspoken of Decades! If you would like to be one of them, head on over to The Unspoken Decade’s Facebook page and send us a message! In the meantime, enjoy this look at DC’s Coagula from new contributor Lee! – ES)
Hi, Legions of the Unspoken! You can call me Morbius95 (aka Lee). That’s all you get for now! As you will probably be able to tell, this is my first time writing on a professional level. I decided I wanted to write because I have a voice that can possibly help someone through my writing. (Plus it’s fun!) I was born in the 90’s, so I guess that makes me a perfect fit to write about this unspoken decade! My first tastes of comics came in 2003 when I acquired The Demon #22 for my 8th birthday from a cousin of mine. I have been in love with comics ever since, with a special fondness for the 90’s despite not collecting till the 2000’s. Doom Patrol became one of my all-time favorite groups when I first acquired, you guessed it, Doom Patrol #70. I became infatuated with these outcasts because I felt like one my self.
Kate Godwin (aka Coagula) made her debut in that issue of Doom Patrol, published in September of 1993, and quickly made an impression as one of the first ever transgender characters in DC comics history. Created and written by the amazing Rachel Pollack and penciled by Scot Eaton, Coagula’s appearance stood out in a landscape where LGBT issues in comics had been limited to very few events, such as Marvel’s Northstar coming out in Alpha Flight #106 (1992) and DC’s Pied Piper coming out in The Flash #53 (1991). Appearances from transgender characters were practically nonexistent in the Big Two –that was until Coagula showed up.
To start off in Doom Patrol #70 we meet a man not named yet who has a troubled psyche about his, ahem, small genitalia and how he hates others because of his problems, especially, shockingly, women. This guy gets rejected repeatedly, and every time this happens he believes it’s because of his size. So after some pity over his life he decides, he has had enough and decides to get back at society by making a gigantic codpiece to make up for his lack of size. (Yes, that is his name too. Really.)
We first meet our super-heroine picking out a mask for her friend Jean’s birthday party, a fairly realistic looking frog mask. They leave the scene and head to a bar, where we learn about her powers, which are she can coagulate liquids and dissolve solids. We find out that while working as a prostitute she gained her powers from sexual contact with Rebis, a radioactive hermaphrodite formed by the original Negative Man Larry Trainor and Dr. Elanor Poole, who are forced to merge by and with the Negative Spirit that had left and then returned to Trainor.
Next we find Kate in a bar showing off her powers for her friend. She also discusses trying out for the Justice League, who liked her powers but didn’t like the way she was. At first we think she’s about to give up, but boy are we wrong.
Codpiece is seen walking up to a bank, which he proceeds to blow away part of with his, well, codpiece. He then drills a hole in to one of the vaults with the piece, which is basically like a Swiss Army knife with all its attachments. The police try to stop him, but that goes as well as you would expect, and Codpiece knocks one out with a boxing glove from, well, you know where by now.
I haven’t said much on who else is in this story mostly because I wanted you guys to know how great Coagula is, but yes, there are others in this story as well. Like the couple that come to help the cops take on big old Coddy, George and Marion of the Doom Patrol! Earlier in the story they decide to get out of DP HQ and go out on the town to have some fun. They invite Cliff (aka Robot Man), but he refuses. (We’ll discuss that at a later date.) They encounter Coddy as he unleashes bombs from his piece and conks two officers out cold with some technical prowess. They throw everything they can at him but to absolutely no avail. He stops them at every corner, and when all seems dark for our heroes someone takes notice of the scene, and that someone is…Coagula! Kate had an official costume at one point but got rid of it because she didn’t think heroing was her calling. Then she remembers the green frog mask from earlier and puts it on.
Immediately you can tell he is distracted by this seemingly normal woman who’s just wearing some costume mask, but boy is he in for a huge surprise, folks.
After is all said and done, George and Marion are very impressed with the abilities Coagula showed off, so much so that they offer her a spot on the Doom Patrol. She accepts their offer to go with them, thus turning into one of my personal favorites of the Doom Patrol. This was ground breaking for the time to see a transsexual lesbian in a comic. (She later turns out to be bisexual, dating Cliff Steele.) When I first read it, it honestly blew my mind, especially for the decade it came from.
I just wanted to thank Dean for giving me this opportunity to write something I’m very passionate about and hope to write more in the future. The reason I’m passionate about LGBT issues is because I myself am bisexual and genuinely care for my community. I had problems as a child thinking something was wrong with me, and these comics helped me through some tough stuff in my life. Thanks for letting this manic depressive have a shot where most wouldn’t give me one.
Matthew Price and your pal Dean Compton here had a nice chat about the time “Barry Allen” returned during the excellent Mark Waid/Greg LaRoque Flash run! It’s a fantastic story and we had a great time discussing it! Hope you have just as much fun listening!
Welcome to another fabulous edition of not just The Unspoken Decade, but that nifty blog crossover epic we call “Super Blog Team-Up!” This go-round we at SBTU have decided to utterly enthrall you with some of the most violent and spectacular clashes of all time, as we present VS!
Here where it’s always 1996, we bring you two of Marvel’s heaviest hitters when it comes to firepower. One is James Rhodes, better known as the operator of he most offensively-powerful armor this side of a Hulkbuster, War Machine! The other is the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, sent to a far future to cure his techno-virus, he has now returned to the present day as the telekinteic cyborg warrior known as Cable!
Personally, I have always wanted a Punisher/War Machine/Cable team-up. They could call it “big guns, bigger attitudes”. It writes itself! WHERE ARE YOU, MARVEL? GET THIS DONE.
The fight between Cable and War Machine takes place over the first few issues of War Machine’s first solo title. Written by Len Kaminski and Scott Benson, penciled by Gabriel Gecko, and inked by Pam Eklund, War Machine #1 hits our reality in April of 1994 (according to the copyright indicia) as an attempt to sort of stretch the parameters of the super hero game. The first issue has James Rhodes getting caught up in an international incident that ties the hands of most of the other heroes. It also sports a die-cut foil cover that is sort of hard to display on the internet.
War Machine’s armor is probably my favorite Iron Man armor ever. I mean, just look at it. Right there on that cover, you can see two guns on his wrist, a giant cannon on his shoulder, and what appears to be a missile battery on his other shoulder. Beautiful. Also, you just know that his chest circle fires SOMETHING AWESOME.
In real life, I tend to be a defense first guy (as a fan of the 2015 WORLD CHAMPION Kansas City Royals, how can ya blame me?). In my genre fiction, give me the guy who has little protection who comes out with every gun he has firing as he simply overpowers his enemy with a fierce barrage from his armada! That’s War Machine in a nutshell, although I am underselling the brilliant strategic mind of one James Rhodes as well.
The selling point of these early issues of War Machine is that James Rhodes isn’t gonna sit idly by as the technicalities of the world prevent him from taking the fight right to the bad guys. After he makes a connection with a famous international diplomat, Vincent Cetewayo, who is looking to start a corporation known as “WorldWatch” that would help deal with international crises before they develop, James is intrigued. He refuses Cetewayo’s offer at first, but after reading his book, James seems to be coming around on the idea. Of course, then said international diplomat is kidnapped by the regime he once fled, Imaya. Due to the fact that this African nation is full-fledged member of the United Nations, many heroes are paralyzed by international law as it prevents them from acting…
The angry phone call Rhodes is on doesn’t seem to get Fury on the line, as Rhodes quickly shows up at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ with harsh words for Nick Fury.
C’mon War Machine, how could you possibly figure that Fury wouldn’t know who you were and what you were up to? It’s his game!
It’s insanely hard not to side with War Machine here. It isn’t like Fury doesn’t go off half-cocked when he feels like it, the UN and S.H.I.E.L.D. be damned. Now that War Machine needs some help, though, Fury is acting like these rules are suddenly sacrosanct. That’s government bureaucrat types for ya, amirite? Also, ain’t it against international law to, y’ know, just kidnap a guy off a hijacked airline? Oh, UN, you’re so delightfully unwieldy.
After seeing that he’ll get no help from Fury in regard to this, War Machine says the line that seemingly has to be said in nearly every action flick and story:
War Machine plows into Imaya, taking out soldiers and warplanes left and right. He’s doing very well against these instruments of war, which might be ironic because he is a War Machine. Or is it just meta? I dunno, Alanis Morissette forever ruined all of our understandings of ironic. (Also, if you think that joke is too old, you’re the one reading a 90’s comics website, pal.)
While War Machine’s attack may make for impressive viewing, X-Force’s leader Cable doesn’t like it.
So it appears Cable has taken umbrage with War Machine going solo in a War Zone. Apparently, Cable is the only guy allowed to do what he wants with big guns, a gleam in his eye, and a devil-may-care attitude. When it isn’t him, Cable is super concerned with geopolitical events and how a solitary man with an advanced suit of armor trying to rescue a man destined to be tortured and killed could upset the entire balance of power in Africa!
Now, before we can get to laser fights, Cable and War Machine have to try and win the debate. I’ll spare you my opinion of who is right, but I’d love to know yours in the comment. (Here’s a hint as to whose side I am on; it’s War Machines’s.)
This exchange of philosophy does nothing to change the mind of either Cable or War Machine, and so we get Cable and War Machine throwing down! We also get Cable spouting a line that’d lead one to believe he was trying out for a Viagra commercial.
Cable draws first blood, knocking War Machine down and into some boulders. War Machine doesn’t take this lying down, however, and quickly takes over on offense. He separates Cable from his firearm, which leads to the most ineffective strategy Cable has ever employed against an opponent.
The back and forth is fairly evenly matched, but just when it appears that Round 2 is about to start, a new competitor enters the ring and it becomes a triple threat match!
That’s where War Machine #1 leaves off, and Page #1 of issue #2 may be my favorite page by Gecko in either issue. But first, the cover to War Machine #2!
Not only is this a great page artwise to me, I love the succinctness in getting all three of the players across. With just three panels, you know who everyone is, what their motivation is, and how they are feeling about the situation. One can even reasonably assume that Deathlok is housing two personalities based on what we see here, which he is.
What we really need, though, is a two-page splash showing us just how badass all these guys look together.
Basically, we get the same conversation that Cable and War Machine have been having, but now Deathlok is thrown in, and he is on War Machine’s side. This sits none too well with Cable, who decides to use that awesome gun of his (for real, I could talk for hours about Cable’s guns. Ask Emily.) to solve a problem. That problem’s name is Deathlok!
War Machine tries to play peacemaker, but all that does is rile Deathlok up in his direction.
War Machine finally uses his massive firepower to overcome the both of them, as he attempts to talk some sense into these guys. It’s sorta funny how all of a sudden after breaching international borders and shooting down Imayan warplanes in Imayan airspace that War Machine now fancies himself the voice of reason. Of course, seeing as he is the only 100% human guy here, maybe he’s the only one we can trust. One way or another, War Machine incapacitates them both, and then he gets to deliver a lecture because to the victor go the soliloquies.
For those of you placed your wager on “the three guys yap until Imayan ground forces show up,” head to the window and collect. You have to wonder what sort of resistance they could possibly put up to these three, seeing as how War Machine just single-handedly thrashed their entire goddamn air force. I do suppose that being in the military in a despotic dictatorship probably just has you going out in your tank even after a solitary armored figure has taken out all your air support. Your choice is get killed by War Machine or get killed by your superior in the ranks.
Cable, though, can teleport, so he has lots of choices, including the choice to allow Deathlok and War Machine to reap what they have sown without him around.
And that’s the end of the Cable vs. War Machine showdown. It’s a rather typical Marvel hero vs. hero fight, in that there is no clear winner, although it’s a little less like a typical Marvel hero fight because Cable and War Machine are at odds from the start and there is no misunderstanding between them before they pal up and head after the baddies! I suppose Deathlok is the one who handles that role with ol’ Rhodey here.
The rest of the early War Machine story arc is good. You get to see War Machine take on a nation’s entire armed forces as he teams with Imayan freedom fighters to liberate their country. Cable plays a small role by evacuating Cetewayo to the camp of said freedom fighters. If he had just done that to start, there’d have been no fight! But then again, I wouldn’t have this article, either. Hmmm.
For real, though, scope out the rest of this early War Machine arc if for no other reason than to just see this image explained:
Now that you have had a nice fight here, maybe you should go take a gander at the other folks playing along with Super Blog Team Up! Check out the links below: