The Conundrum of the Cape

As Pixar documented so brilliantly in “The Incredibles”, capes present a real dilemma to the super-hero fashion designer:

Capes can kill you, and when they’re not killing you, they’re all folded up on themselves so you can’t even see what’s on them, which is why most heroes who opt to wear one go for a plain, one-color affair.

Which is where “The Green Turtle” — already reeling from losing the “Animal Mascot Lottery” — goes so horribly, horribly wrong:

exciting-comics-3-1944-excite

In case you can’t tell, his cape features an enormous green turtle design on it, terminating with his head in place of the turtle’s. Which, let’s be honest, is as ridiculous as it is silly. He doesn’t even have a turtle beak, for goodness’ sake (and while we’re on the subject, why the hell do turtles have beaks anyway? That’s just wrong.) That’s just a bad cape. When he’s at rest in no wind, you can’t see the design. Of course this is a comic book so there’s always a dramatic wind blowing, but still, the only people who can appreciate it are those who are behind him. I suppose it’s a good thing his enemies — who you assume are the ones in front of him — can’t see it, because that’s not exactly the picture next to “intimidating” in the dictionary, you know?

Of course, then there’s the rest of his outfit. Or should I say, the not-rest of his not-outfit, since it’s pretty much just swimming trunks, gloves, and boots:

blazing-comics-3-1944-cover

Granted, he’s fighting in China where the climate is pretty hot, but still, I dare you to think of another job where running around that close to bare-ass-nekkid won’t get you arrested at the minimum. And no, “Baywatch extra” doesn’t count. You have to give him credit for loyalty to his theme, though, right down to that “I can’t believe I have to hold on to the hilt with these legs sticking out of it” turtle dagger.

So to review: “Incredibles” good, turtle mascots bad, especially non-violent green turtles; capes bad, ugly capes worse; and cover up those man-nips, nobody wants to see a fifty year old retired male super-hero at Mardi Gras shouting to the girls “Let me show you MY boobs!”

Which concludes this “Most Random Bad Costume Post EVER”, I believe I have meds to take now.

(Images from “Blazing Comics”, number 3, 1944.)

16 Responses to The Conundrum of the Cape

  1. Middle-age Human Shaolin Turtle! Seriously, I want a crossover between the Green Turtle and the TMNT. And they can team up to thwart Krang and that weird shadow thing hovering above the Green Turtle. Since we don’t know his name, how about we call him “Shi-bli-bli”, the ancient Chinese demon of flatulence? Works for me.

  2. I thought it was Grimace from McDonald’s.

  3. I knew Grimace couldn’t be trusted! The hamburgler was framed

  4. I agree! Multicolour capes are TOTALLY ridiculous! It make me think of how idiotic the hero really is!

  5. Danny Beaty

    Batman and Superman have capes and they seem to be doing pretty well.

  6. Danny Beaty

    Zorro also had a cape and he beat the entire Mexican army.

  7. I really don’t see Alex Ross and Dynamite Entertainment using this character in Project Superpowers. O_o

  8. Batman, Superman and Zorro all have plain capes. Plain capes obviously aren’t as much of a hazard as fancy design capes.

  9. Batman’s cape isn’t just a cape either. They can be used for gliding.

  10. Danny Beaty

    @Laridian: The argument made in “The Incredibles” is that capes in general are dangerous. I say it all depends on the wearer.

  11. But what does The Green Lama have to say about all this?

  12. The weird shadow is the same guy in the turtle cape.

  13. I find this comic quite interesting. The turtle god or AKA Pak Tai aka Xiaun Wu (Westernised as John Woo perhaps?) is amoungst other things, the god of kung fu. So there’s actually a cultural bridge to cross to understand this hero. Pak Tai is known for his justice.

    He looks like a mexican wrestler though they normally remove their capes before they fight.

    The shadow does indeed look like Grimmace, if you do a bit of research you’ll uncover that the original Grimmace was evil, he played the roll of the hamburgler and had four arms.

  14. I think that Dollar Bill would go with the Capes Are A Bad Idea. And turtles have beaks because another leg would be really confusing. And is it just me, or does that belt buckle look really painful?

  15. @Mr Vampire: Yes Xuan Wu/Pak Tai might be the god of martial arts in the east (as both China, Japan and Korea beleive in him) but he is always depicted as being black.

    When I think green turtle I think WWF(World Wildlife Fund)Not kick ass super hero

  16. The Incredibles is a good movie, but one of the most glaring problems is the foolish claims against capes. What does this claim really say? That Edna Mode can’t make a proper cape costume and refuses to take the blame for her failure. She was supposed to have designed for all the superheroes, so those who “died” because of their capes had the capes made by her. She clearly didn’t understand the reason for capes being able to tear or for a clasp or two on the cape.

    “Gee, Edna, don’t you think it might be nice if this cape could maybe, I don’t know, rip?”

    “Rip? You want one of my capes to rip? Ok, let’s say I make it so it can rip. And you get into a fight where your cape is riped to tatters before you manage to save the day. What are the people going to pay attention to, your heroic feats? NO! They are going to notice that your ripped cape makes you look less heroic. No ripping capes, Thunderhead!”

    “Ok, but maybe how about I clip it to my suit with a clasp or two?”

    “Clasps aren’t stylish. What do you think, you’re going to snag your cape on the fin of a missile or something?”

    Like I said, she’s made out to be the only one to make the costumes and at one time she did make costumes with capes until some of the heroes died supposedly because of the capes. They died because she couldn’t make proper capes for their costumes. Thunderhead, she tells Mr. Incredible, had his cape snagged on the fin of a missile. Problem, the cape was too tough to tear and thus it remained snagged. The solution, either having clasps the hero can quickly release the cape from the costume or having the cape rip before it causes a huge problem for the hero. Stratogale could have been saved if his cape had also had clasps.

    Look at the two parter “The Demon’s Quest” from the ’90s Batman: The Animated Series. At one point in either part one or two Batman unclasps his cape and uses it as a tool against a panther. There were otherr episodes where his cape either tore off or he unclasped it to escape danger. But being able to use it as a tool speaks volumes against Edna Mode’s claim that capes are a bad thing. Superman did the same thing in the two part episode “Hereafter” of Justice League when he was cast into Earth’s future by Toy Man. There the sun’s become a red dwarf so that he’s robbed of his powers and he has to briefly use his cape against some kind of canid creature. Both of these predate the release of The Incredibles, though “Hereafter” was most likely filmed and aired while The Incredibles was still being made (“Hereafter” aired November 29, 2003, nearly a full year before the movie’s release). But even still it shows that capes do not have to be a hinderance to a hero as The Incredibles would foolishly suggest.