Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Costume Makes The Man


Name This Marvel Villain??

How does a disgruntled costumed shop owner become a bad-ass super-villain? Well, when it came to Melvin Potter, alias the Gladiator, it helped that he was a wiz at weaponry design as well as sewing:

Come on, we have to give the guy props for self-confidence--it's not every budding villain who has the stones to say, "my boots alone assure me of victory."

But we have to remember Mr. Potter is a costume designer. And in choosing his new occupation as a super-villain, it's easy to understand why he would make a leap in logic like this:

Actually, we really have Matt Murdock's law firm partner, Foggy Nelson, to thank for igniting this particular match. Nelson was trying to think of a way to make his secretary, Karen Page, interested in him by dressing up as Daredevil (albeit a very out of shape Daredevil). So while Nelson was picking out his costume at Potter's shop, Potter suggested he pose as a villain who Nelson (as Daredevil) gets into a fight with, and having Karen "discover his identity" while he was in "battle." Nelson, being the horny dope he is, took all of two seconds to green-light the scheme:

Now, say you hand a really bitter person the opportunity to design a killing suit and wear it in what's supposed to be a mock fight. Does that sound like a good idea to you? Still, even though Nelson thinks Potter might be a little off his rocker, there's no reason to think he's on the verge of snapping and going on a rampage. But when the new-born "Gladiator" makes short work of Nelson in the fight, it's the spark that ignites his new career:

And a villain is born.

And he makes a good fight of it with the real Daredevil, too--I mean, the Gladiator threw everything but the kitchen sink into this costume, and an acrobat against armor and sawblades (AND, let's not forget, those victorious sharp boots) is going to have a struggle on his hands. But it turns out even the Gladiator didn't think of everything:

And off he goes to jail. But we see a lot more of the Gladiator, especially in Daredevil; unfortunately, it's usually as someone's hired muscle, though that happens more through circumstance than by choice. Potter loses none of his aggression, or his ambition (though he's probably taken a step back from the notion of wiping the floor with Thor). And he does reasonably well on his own; in fact, when he takes on Iron Man, he battles him to a virtual standstill, in a fight that spans two issues. He's attempted to walk the straight and narrow, and the last I knew he was bound in a straitjacket after things in his life spiralled out of control. But we may yet see a future appearance from Mr. Potter. After all, those costumes in his shop aren't going to sew themselves.

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