Sunday, March 2, 2014

When Villainy Is Woman's Work


I've never been sure why Marvel felt it needed to introduce another sand-based villain like Quicksand, given how the original Sandman was still on the loose. Granted that Sandman didn't have the most impressive of introductions, and it would take awhile before his abilities were given their due--but what does Quicksand bring to the table that's new?

Well, a little, but not much. First of all, unlike Sandman, whose power was initially treated more as a novelty than a villainous threat, Quicksand leaves no doubt with her first appearance that she intends to use her power ruthlessly and viciously:



Secondly, and obviously, Quicksand is a woman, and not another "Sandman"; in fact, I think her villain name is awesome, leaving no doubt as to her intentions or her threat level. I don't know anyone who ever ran into a non-deadly pile of quicksand, a threat that traps you and has only one goal where your life is concerned. The Sandman may have a tough street rep by now, but I'd certainly prefer a dynamic new villain not be associated with sleep and dreaming.

It also says something that, while Sandman didn't really get his "villain legs" until he teamed up with the Frightful Four, Quicksand starts her career by going after Marvel's biggest hitter (and confidently, at that):



Quicksand calls herself a "living elemental," a description which was probably concocted to give a little boost to the way she announces herself, as well as to further distinguish her from Sandman. It really does little else; we've certainly seen what other "elementals" are able to do, and Quicksand displays only a fraction of those abilities with her sole talent to interact with the earth. She also strangely appears to be in denial, refusing to categorize herself as a mutant despite her origin:



Which is probably just bitterness talking, since she's definitely not happy at all with being turned into this form and wants only to regain her human appearance. But in the meantime, she's willing to take out her sorry state on everyone else:



As for her match-up with Thor--well, I don't recall Thor ever slugging it out with Sandman, but hopefully it would have gone something like this:





Unfortunately, Quicksand right out of the gate has chosen to mix it up with the likes of someone like Thor, who gives her a taste of his power in his own distinct fashion:



In this first battle, Quicksand, as we've seen, wishes to take a shortcut to exacting her "revenge" by taking out a nuclear facility which has recently become the focus of protest groups. And since she used to work at such a facility, she has no trouble in rigging it to detonate, which would result in a nuclear holocaust. But Quicksand is foiled by a quick-fix tactic which, thankfully, Thor only uses on rare occasion:




Which I suppose relies on Thor having an extensive knowledge of the locations of dead worlds. Either that, or he has a handy cheat sheet tucked into his belt.

The move effectively ends Thor's battle with Quicksand, as she flees to fight another day. And that day comes when she allies herself with the Mongoose, an agent of the High Evolutionary, and again engages Thor--this time, to draw him out into the open.




Thor, as we see, is battling Quicksand while experiencing a mysterious weakness which is affecting all Asgardians. A heck of a time to be facing a villain of Quicksand's ruthlessness:



On the other hand, Quicksand doesn't win any points in the "take me seriously" category when she's (you'd better get a grip on yourself for this) firing sand shells from her sand tank:



Fortunately, we don't get to see what other absurd ideas Quicksand comes up with, because she's done her job as far as putting Thor in the sights of the Evolutionary's weapon (which fires and extracts a tissue sample from Thor, but that's another story), and she departs. Quicksand would go on to make sporadic appearances both solo and as part of villain-groups like the Femizons. For the most part, we can chalk up Quicksand as a character who featured a great name and looked promising, but who has quite a way to go before reaching even the Sandman's rap sheet.

2 comments:

Kid said...

Looking at the pics you've used to illustrate your post reminds me of how much I enjoyed Ron Frenz's art when he drew Thor. The only thing I wasn't so keen on was when he mixed Buscema swipes in with Kirby swipes - that used to ruin the 'illusion' a bit.

Anonymous said...

I liked Quicksand! She had moxie!
I really liked this run, too. It got pretty darn goofy sometimes, but it was a masterpiece compared to the most of the rest of the, er, "stuff," the House of Ideas was churning out in the '90's.

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