Monday, August 30, 2004

Joe Casey: Robosexual?

I'm a fairly big fan of Joe Casey's work. Can't say I've read everything he's done, but I've read a good chunk of it over the last several years, and last week something occurred to me. Joe likes robots. A lot. Let's take a look:

Mr. Majestic #3: In an effort to be more Earth-like (Earthy?) our hero, Mr. Majestic, buff but humanoid space alien, decides he needs to go on a date. So Joe (and co-writer Brian Holguin) set him up with one Maxine Manchester, a.k.a. Ladytron, a raving, psychotic cyborg. And they have a fun, sweet time. Who knew?

Deathlok #7: The Deathlok series is the start of something serious. Spinning out of Casey's run on Marvel's Cable (centered on a man whose entire left side is robotic), Deathlok features SHIELD agent Jack Truman, injured beyond physical repair in a fight with Cable, who has what's left of his brain and body cobbled into a robot. Here in Deathlok #7 Truman attempts to reunite with his sister, though the two of them didn't get along well when he wasn't a SHIELD-engineered killing machine. Truman's sister is less-than-thrilled to see him, but she decides to make him "earn his keep": if he wants to stay there, he has to go on a date with her friend, who, in classic Marvel no-degrees-of-separation style, happens to be Princess Python of the Serpent Society/Circus of Crime. After a scuffle with Puff Adder, Miss P's jealous ex, Truman is revealed to be a robot and, well, Python really doesn't care:

What a studly go-bot our lead is. But wait, it gets better.

Automatic Kafka:

This is the mother lode, right here. Automatic Kafka is a robot, formerly part of a wildly famous superhero team known as The Strangers. So wildly famous, in fact, that even as a robot Kafka got more than his fair share of, shall we say, sweet sweet candy. The series mainly concerns itself with Kafka's struggle to regain his lost glory, interspersed with tales of that glory, in particular the sexing up drunken, drugged girls in clubs. Issue six examines the relationship between Kafka and former teammate Helen of Troy. Boy, does it examine it. In fairly graphic detail. I learned way more about robots and their, uhm, parts than I ever wanted to know from this series.

Wildcats Version 3.0:

The main thrust of Wildcats Version 3.0 has been "Jack Marlowe," formerly known as Spartan, bodyguard of now-dead business-midget Emp. His robot bodyguard, who, now that Emp has shuffled off, has taken on the identity of his nephew, running his corporation, perhaps with the intent to control the world. Compelling, interesting, yes, but not really the good stuff we're after here...

Something drastic happened to Maxine "Ladytron" Manchester between her date with Mr. Majestic and Joe's start on WildCATS v.2... something so drastic that, for the majority of his run, her remnants were kept in a tank of liquid in the Halo Corporation's headquarters. Grifter, the team's resident bad-ass, was side-lined with a broken leg early in volume three, so he decided to team up with a kid computer genius to rebuild Maxine for his own use. In a bit of remote-controlled robotic transvestism, Grifter now uses Ladytron's body to run around and blow things up. That's fucked, Joe. Hilarious and brilliant, but fucked.

I'm sure he's written more comics that don't feature robots, but the ones that do add up to a disturbing picture. Robots on dates, robots having sex, men dressing up as female robots... it's all a bit overwhelming.

No comments: