Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Attack Of The Pronouns!

Looking back on some of the monster comics that Marvel used to publish under Tales of Suspense and Journey Into Mystery, it almost seemed like a story's writer would give maybe five seconds' worth of thought to the name of whatever creature was menacing humanity. Googam! Klagg! Oog! Monstrollo! Kraa! Bruttu! I dunno--if a giant monster were menacing us for real, I don't think we'd bother giving it a name. We'd probably just scream something like "The monster's on its way! Aaaaaaaaa!" But for a blazing caption on a comic book cover, you couldn't just use "The Monster" over and over again every month. You needed a big, bold, crazy-ass name that would make a reader reach for the issue on the rack.

Unfortunately, when Marvel shifted from monster tales to super-heroes, there were still times when they came up empty on a villain name. That's the only reason I can think of for choosing, of all things, a pronoun as a name for a story's antagonist. Going down the list, it looks like Marvel's used up the pronouns it can reasonably get away with without the name sounding absolutely ridiculous when said "out loud." That doesn't mean that some of the pronouns they used weren't ridiculous. Oh, quite the contrary.

The earliest instance I can think of when Marvel began this practice was for a character in an old Strange Tales story:

At least by name. There was actually a character introduced a month earlier which is better known as the holder of that particular pronoun, appearing in a couple of Tales of Suspense stories. Though technically, it would take several years before the character would formally get tagged with a pronoun. Originally, it was known as:

It would be another twelve years before this creature would be rechristened as:

"It" was really just a *ahem* "colossal" statue mentally possessed and controlled by a human who was safely tucked away somewhere. It would eventually meet its end when it decided to tackle the Hulk, who explains here in another battle what happens to statues when he's ticked off:

And he was pretty ticked off against It. Exit It.

To add insult to injury, the Hulk just called It "stupid statue" during their battle. Just as well. "It" never stuck as the creature's formal name--just as the cover masthead. In fact, I don't think it was even mentioned in that context.

Our next pronoun relates to our old friends at Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), originally a branch of a more covert organization:

Thank goodness everyone always paused with a dash before referring to "Them," or Them wouldn't sound very threatening or dangerous. But after Nick Fury's initial encounters with Them (with a later assist from Captain America), Them decided to ditch the pronoun title and stick with A.I.M. from that point on. They also stuck with their lab "uniforms," though that wasn't the original plan:

Not really feeling the fear and dread here, pal.

Not leaving well enough alone, Marvel tried a variation of "Them" with "They," a triumvirate of villains holed up in the Andes who had planned to use the Hulk to fire up their ultimate weapon:

Keep your eye on old Des there, because he'll be appearing as one of our mystery villains one of these days--when he's more himself, that is.

And speaking of an eye, that's another pronoun we unfortunately have to cover:

"I" wasn't much of a character, let alone a villain--it was more of a tool used to manage an alien city where the Silver Surfer was captive. Nor was "I" much use to the Surfer, as it was simply a deaf, blind, and mute mechanism of sorts. Though hearing the Surfer say something like "O great I! I come seeking an audience!" and having the thing be totally unresponsive was good for a chuckle.

The most famous pronoun name that probably comes to mind for you would be the guy who was forming in this cocoon:

When Him emerged from his cocoon, he would eventually evolve into Adam Warlock after an encounter with a very pissed-off Thor and, later, the High Evolutionary. Before that, Him had a very brief history:

Now, you may well ask: what's a Him without a Her?

Similarly created by the same men who created Him, Her originally emerged as Paragon, a male; but when Paragon returned to his cocoon, he became aware of Him and subsequently decided to change his sex so that the two could mate. Unfortunately, death had already claimed Warlock, and when Her located him she was unable to restore him to full life. Afterward, she departed for the stars.

That takes care of all the pronouns except for the following, which to my knowledge are still unused:

  • You
  • He
  • She
  • We
  • Us
  • Me

"Fool! It's pointless to try to escape the power of--You!"

Probably a good idea to continue to keep the rest of these under wraps.

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