Ask Chris #58: Macho Man Memorial
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Q: In memory of Randy Savage, who are the most macho comic book characters, using Savage as the watermark? — @bradcandoit
A: For those of you who haven’t heard the sad news, we lost one of my childhood heroes last week when “The Macho Man” Randy Savage suffered a fatal heart attack while driving.
I’ve written about my affection for Savage several times here at ComicsAlliance and elsewhere, but I think Matt Singer said it best in his Requiem for a Macho Man: “For a kid who read comic books, when he and Hulk Hogan teamed up to form the Mega Powers it was like tangible proof that super-heroes really did exist.” And he’s right: Savage was one of those guys who larger than life both in the ring and on the mic, with an incredible charisma about everything he did from dropping the majestic Flying Elbow to selling Slim Jims. As a result, the comparison to comic book heroes has always been easy.But at the same time, the standard set by Randy Savage isn’t just high, it’s also a strange departure from traditional ideas of machismo, even those embodied by a guy like Razor Ramon. After all, this is comics we’re talking about, and you can’t swing an Intercontinental Championship Belt without hitting a total badass.
Just off the top of my head, you’ve got Batman, Wolverine, the Punisher, the entire cast of Sin City — basically anyone written by Frank Miller in the past thirty years qualifies. Bonus points if they have ever referred to themselves as a stupid old man at least twice in one panel.
So if we were going by pure Dollars Trilogy manliness, I’d give it up to Sgt. Rock, for four extremely compelling reasons:
One, he kills Nazis. Two, he carries two belts of .50 caliber ammunition on his shoulders at all times despite the fact that they do not fit any gun he carries, because he considers an extra thirty pounds to be a good luck charm. Three, both his arms and his chest hair were too powerful to be contained by any government issue clothing, bursting forth of their own free will. Four, he kills Nazis, and that is all he does.
That guy is like Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef and Bruce Lee just stared at each other in a desert until it somehow formed a person. In rankings of traditional machismo, he comes out ahead every time.
But that’s not quite what the Macho Man Randy Savage represented. It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn this, but I do consider myself something of a scholar on the subject, and in my research, I’ve discovered that Macho Madness is characterized by everything in general, but five elements in particular.
First, The Macho Man must determine his own destiny.
The Macho Man refuses to be shackled by others — he must be free, and bristles under the influence of others, even those that would seem at first to share similar goals, like the ill-fated team-up with Hulk Hogan as the Mega Powers. He shares his glory only reluctantly, and is quick and brutal in seeking revenge for any betrayal. He’s goal oriented, with a focus on building himself up to challenge even the stars, yeah, the stars themselves.
This leads directly into the second characteristic: The Macho Man is an outsider in society.
He may exist within society, but he is definitely not of it, and sees himself as apart from the rules and boundaries that lesser men have set up to confine and protect themselves. He respects no rules but those that he himself creates, surpassing any limits if he chooses to do so, for any purpose that he deems worthy of himself.
As a result, we have the third element: The Macho Man secures his place in history.
Fourth, The Macho Man is always jittery. It’s part of his personality.
This may seem counterintuitive given what came above, but the “jitteriness” in question isn’t nervousness or the product of being unsure of one’s actions. It’s quite the opposite, a constant energy that courses through him as a result of being one million percent. The Macho Man is a coiled spring, ready to explode into action at a moment’s notice.
Which brings us, finally, to the last element: The Macho Man must snap into it.
If nothing else, the Macho Man is a man of action, and when he acts, thou art never bored. Also, whenever possible, he should be portrayed as someone who leaves castles in ruins behind him as he treads the Earth beneath his heel.
Add it all up, and there’s only one character that can live up to a that reputation: Conan the Barbarian!
Seriously, just look at that dude. I mean, I’m pretty sure that “Death-Duel With The Undead Wizard” is an accurate description of Randy Savage’s match against the Undertaker in 1991, but there’s also the fact that he is already wearing trunks and a championship belt.
He fits the pattern perfectly: As a barbarian warrior from Cimmeria, he brutally fought his way through the society of the Hyborean Age, going from a thief to a mercenary and finally becoming King of Aquilonia, just as the Macho Man himself defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan to become the Macho King. There’s even a scene in my all-time favorite Conan story — the classic “Rogues in the House” — where Conan has to defeat a gorilla that thinks it’s a wizard by wrestling it to death.
I swear he drops an elbow in at least the most recent version of that story. And really, what are Robert E. Howard’s Nemedian Chronicles other than a slightly tougher version of “Mean” Gene Okerlund?
Obviously, it’s not quite a one-for-one comparison. Conan, for instance, never joined the nWo — not even in the black and white Savage Sword of Conan magazines. Also, while I’m missing a few of the ’90s era comics from my collection, I’m reasonably certain he was never seen wearing a purple sequined poncho/cape with his name on it and a matching cowboy hat, which I think we can all agree is a major failing of the creators.
But, just like Randy Savage, Conan was a character so much larger than life that everything around him seems smaller by comparison, who draws you into his adventures driven by charismatic combat, ruthless villainy and uncompromising style.
And just like Conan, the Macho Man Randy Savage has now passed into the world of legends.
Q: If you were to cast the Avengers as 8 Pokemon gym leaders and an Elite Four, who would be included and what types would they use? — @JohnDudebro
A: Okay, let’s see here. If you were going to start your Pokemon journey in the Marvel universe, here’s how I think it would go down.
First, you’d encounter Ant-Man and the Wasp, who would specialize in Bug-Type Pokemon!
At some point during the battle, when he was down to one last Pokemon, Pym would flip out and become Yellowjacket, but once you finished off his Beedrill, you’d get your Particle Badge.
Next up, you’d test your skills against Moon Knight, who would specialize in Fire, Water, and Grass types.
Multiple personalities, folks. Sometimes they come in handy. His final Pokemon’s type would be the one your starter was weak to, but if you make it through, you get your Khonshu Badge.
After shuffling through some tall grass to grind a few levels, you’d meet up with the deadly Black Widow and her team of highly trained Poison types.
If you can make it through her, you get your Widow Badge. Kind of a no-brainer, that one.
Moving on, I hope you’re keeping those Pokeballs in belt pouches, because it’s time to face off against Darkhawk and his Dark type Pokemon!
What? He was in West Coast Avengers! Even though he lived in New York! Just be thankful that “Grim” and “Gritty” aren’t available types. Anyway, beat him and you get your 90s Badge.
At the halfway point, you take aim at Hawkeye and his Flying types!
Fortunately, he’d spend most of the battle trying to increase his Accuracy and doing his best o convince you that it qualifies as an actual super-power. After a few hits and an almost mandatory “NOT LIKE THIS!”, you get the Carny Badge.
Next up, a trip out to space for Moondragon and her Dragon Types!
I, uh, don’t really have anything clever for this one. The reasoning here should be obvious. You get the Baldy Badge and we all move on.
Next up Benjamin J. Grimm, the Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing and his Rock Types!
To get to him, you’d have to fight your way all the way to the top of the Baxter Building — which, in a Pokemon game, would be like four floors, tops — but once you got there, the Clobberin’ Badge could be yours.
Finally, your last opponent before entering Avengers Mansion for the big throwdown, Edwin Jarvis and his Normal types!
He’d be surprisingly tough, but after reminding you that only the top percentage of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are able to set foot in his hallowed halls, he’d present you with your Butler Badge.
As for the Elite Four, they’re pretty much the guys you’d expect: Captain Marvel with Ghost Pokemon, Iron Man with Steel types, Captain America with Fighting types, all building up to an epic clash against Thor and his Electric Pokemon. It’s a little obvious, yes, but unfortunately they have yet to introduce the Magic Uru Hammer type.
And God help me, I think this actually isn’t the nerdiest thing I’ve ever written for this column.
That’s all we have for this week, but if you’ve got a question you’d like to see Chris tackle in a future column, just put it on Twitter with the hashtag #AskChris, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with [Ask Chris] in the subject line!
And if you’re going to be in Charlotte, North Carolina for HeroesCon 2011, don’t miss your chance to Ask Chris Live at a ComicsAlliance Panel in Room 206, at 2:30 on Saturday, June 4!