Swimsuit Issues: Marvel’s Craziest Swimsuit Specials
With Halloween over, Summer is well and truly behind us, but those of you who miss sun, sand and swimsuits can take solace in the pages of the Mighty Marvel Swimsuit Specials!
Produced yearly during the early and mid-90s as an alternative to the "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit Issue that youngsters could con their parents into buying them as a comic book "investment," the Marvel Swimsuit Specials were essentially books of pin-ups that saw heroes and villains taking time off from saving the world to catch some rays.
Psylocke, 1991What made them really strange, though, were the underlying plots that ran through each issue and resulted in some memorable insanity, which is why we've turned to ComicsAlliance contributor Chris Sims to grab his beach towel and bring us Marvel's absolute strangest swimsuit shots!
The real weirdness of the swimsuit specials normally comes from the shots of the male characters, as the women in comics are pretty much wearing swimsuits all the time anyway (in fact, Psylocke is actually wearing more clothing here than she usually does), but it's always worth noting when an artist draws an Asian character and then decides it's a good idea to make her bright yellow.
Especially when the artist in question is Jim Lee.
The Punisher, 1993
If the Punisher has a super-power, it's that he's super-angry all the time. And now you know why.
Also of note is what's going on outside of Frank's fashion tragedy: This particular special's "plot" was that Pip the Troll had used the Infinity Gems to whisk the entire universe away to a vacation on Monster Island, and yes, we are aware of exactly how crazy that sounds. According to Pip's narration, the lady monsters in the background are fighting over the right to help Big Pun out with "dental hygiene." And since the only teeth we see in this page are the ones on the giant skull covering Frank's junk, we're pretty sure this was the book that paved the way for his mature readers-only MAX title.
One of the stranger things about giving the swimsuit issues plots -- aside from the fact that it gave the Marvel characters an opportunity to wear bikinis on the moon for a leering Uatu the Watcher -- is that they also involved villains, complete with explanations about how everybody just decided to chill out for a week before they got back to beating the hell out of each other.
Here, we see that Bullseye, the homicidal maniac who responsible for murdering at least two of Daredevil's girlfriends, enjoys snorkeling almost as much as he enjoys murdering people for money. It's also worth noting that before he had his logo carved into his head, he made sure to wear it on his briefs so that everyone would know who he was.
Namor the Sub-Mariner, 1995
Prince Namor is a guy who wears a swimsuit pretty much all the time, so when it's time to draw him for a swimsuit special, it can be tough figuring out what to do. The solution? As we can see from this Joe Quesada piece, just give him an extremely small amount of crotch-bling and cover him in dubious, sticky-looking "water." Then sit back and wait to become Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics.
The Invisible Woman, 1993
The idea of Sue Storm using her powers to fashion a bikini makes for a pretty neat visual, until you stop to consider that she pretty much just woke up and decided "Screw it, I'm gonna make my vagina invisible today."
Where do we begin with this jewel of our collection by Rascally Rob Liefeld? Do we start with the fact that Boom Boom's torso forms a concave indentation underneath her overhanging rib cage? Do we talk about Rictor and Cannonball in the background, with their high-waisted shorts and the fact that Cannonball appears to have set his own head on fire?
No, we think the winner in this shot is Cable and his kittenish come-hither pose.
The Wasp, 1994
This piece by superstar Adam Hughes was discussed on the War Rocket Ajax podcast, where we reached the conclusion that about thirty seconds after the events depicted, there was a full-blown Avengers three-way going on. Complicating things even further? The fact that it looks like the Wasp is straddling.. well, let's just be safe and say it looks like Colossus's... finger.
Congratulations! You have now seen the tan-lines of Nova!
Still, that pales in comparison to the amusement we get from the fact that the Human Rocket has apparently sawed off the top of his helmet so that his luxurious, Fabio-esque hair can flow free.
Wonder Man, 1991
"Hey kids, wanna see Wonder Man in a speedo showing off his giant purple snake?"
The Avengers, 1991
And finally, we have something that actually seems like it could've happened in the regular comics: A tug-of-war between the Avengers and the West Coast Avengers, who have apparently decided that Frank Miller is right and it is better if you leave the masks on.
Let's get a little detail, shall we?
Like Captain America and Bullsye, Quasar has apparently been able to find a swimsuit that matches his super-hero costume, right down to the patterned stars over his area. But really, at this point, that's about par for the course.
What is unusual?
Iron Man, who has apparently decided to put a pair of Hawaiian patterned surf jams on over his armor. What can we say? Dude really wanted to win at tug-of-war.