Friday, July 4, 2008

Preposterous Plot Points #5 - "The Make Up of Make Up Artists"

Here we go with another update to the renowned "Preposterous Plot Points" series! In this installment, we'll talk about shape-shifting.

It is a power that has returned en vogue recently with Secret Invasion, the latest Marvel event dealing with the invasion of Earth by Skrulls, a dreaded alien race with the power of multiple chins and shape-shifting.
The event has been going for something like three months and it is a real mine of preposterous plot points in itself. However, since this event doesn't involve DD the slightest (thank god), it is not my role to comment on those.
Instead we'll now see how the idea of changing one's shape was intended back in the year 1970, when full scale invasions of green pointy-eared aliens were way ahead to come.
In DD vol.I #67, Daredevil is in Los Angeles, keeping an eye - pardon, a radar wave - on his beloved Karen, who had become a rather appreciated movie starlette.
By coincidence, the director of her current film calls her when Matt is at her home, expressing her his desire to have the real Daredevil appear in their movie, which already features the now reformed costumed criminal Stuntmaster.
So, after a while, there he is: in the middle of a movie set, in his red longjohns, with the chance of staying close to the woman he loves.

Notice how the 70's DD doesn't give a rat's ass that he's there, vainly fantasizing about the show-biz while his help could be needed elsewhere (to stop a robbery, or save a kitten etc.).
However, a menace is lurking in Los Angeles. An old foe seeking revenge.
Unaware of it, the Stuntmaster takes a break during the filming, and goes to his trailer.

The old foe is revealed! It's none other than Stilt-man!

That's right. Stilt-man has learned that DD is appearing in the movie they're filming and has sneaked inside the Stuntmaster's trailer, waiting for the opportunity to strike at his mortal enemy. I wonder if he put on his armor before or after entering inside. I hope it's the latter, because I can't imagine anyone wearing what looks like one of those spacesuit worn by extraterrestrials in pulp magazines sneaking inside a private trailer unnoticed. Especially because moving with a metallic armor of that sort must make a hell of noise.

Unless a scene like this occurred:

Security guard: Who the heck are you? What are you doing? This is Stuntmaster's private trailer.
Hey, cool down, man. I'm just...
Security guard
Yeah, yeah. Look, only staff members are allowed in here, buzz off.
Relax, buddy. I'm appearing in scene in ten minutes, the one where the zombie aliens from Mars abduct Miss Page. Stuntmaster told me to come here and get him his... err... theatrical make-up kit. You're just wasting our time here, and you know how the director hates that.
Security guard
Oh, uh... yeah. Sorry. My job is to keep out intruders, you know.

And so, while the hapless Stuntmaster is distracted...

..Kerwack! No, not the pioneer of the beat generation, the onomatopoeia of an armored fist impacting on cervical vertebrae.
Note to aspiring villains: When you're about to blindside an opponent attacking him from behind, it's preferable not to raise your voice.

The villain ties up and gags the now unconscious Stuntmaster, all the while describing aloud what he's doing, just in case he forgets some detail. As he so gently tells the reader, his plan is to disguise as the Stuntmaster, and use this opportunity to attack DD by surprise and defeat him in front of everyone.
The part of managing to pass for the Stuntmaster would theoretically be pretty easy, since he could just hide his facial traits with Stuntmaster's helmet and goggles. Yet, our villain decides to make it unnecessarily complicated:

So, Stilt-man grabs a box of theatrical make up and starts working on his "chaneyesque" disguise (obviously not before having removed his headplate, as he unnecessarily reminds himself aloud).

I wonder if the readers of those days were familiar with the meaning of the word chaneyesque, by the way.

I don't know if make up alone can alter a person's facial features to the point of making him look like another individual. Even if it does, wouldn't that require a ridicoulous amount of time, during which the rest of the troupe could get suspicious and go search for Stuntmaster, making Stilt-man's plan fail? Also, why does he need to look at the picture of the Stuntmaster? He has the real thing right there, in the closet, unconscious and tied up like a hog.

This plot point of Stilt-man disguising himself with theatrical make up takes up nearly three pages of stretched logic and bad guy monologue, but here is the result:

Of course, there's the tiny particular that the voice and physical appearence are still the same. Maybe that would go unnoticed to a normal person (very unlikely), but certainly, a superhero who is blind and has the remaining senses superhumanly heightened will not be fooled by a facial disguise. Right?
No. The disguise evidently works even if you cannot see it:

The meticulous work of our villain, by the way, is only useful for another panel. After that, the helmet and goggles he wears make everything he went through to do that utterly unrelevant. And after a couple of pages, anyway, he has already revealed himself as Stilt-man and started battling Daredevil.
Also, the way he suddenly gets rid of the costume and the facial make-up makes me wonder why he didn't outright attack Daredevil without putting up all this charade.

Certainly, Roy Thomas, writer of this issue, must have had a real fascination with the supposed virtues of "theatrical make up" if he used this idea again in the very following issue (which you can read about in the blog entry that has inspired this one).

That's all folks. I don't think there's need I tell you how the battle between Stilt-man and DD ended, so what else to say? See you next time for another episode of "Preposterous Plot Points".

1 comment:

Gloria said...

So THIS is the comic which inspired "Big Momma's House"!!