Multi-level badness

Some characters constrain themselves to just a bad costume, while others have bad costumes, bad sidekicks, bad gear, or bad dialog. But you rarely come across someone who pegs the meter on all of those levels at once, like Gold Key Comics' "The Owl":

The list of good purple costumes is pathetically short, and the insightful (i.e. "not blind") reader will guess that "The Owl" does not appear on it. A plain body suit may be enough to get you in the Blue Man Group but you've got to bring something better to the super hero game if you want to be taken seriously. The mask and the silly head tufts with yellow bags under the eyes don't help, making him look like nothing so much as a dyspeptic burlesque queen slowly wasting away in a "Former Starlet" nursing home, or maybe a failed Penguin henchman.

But what clenches this entire ensemble for the "Bad Costume Hall of Fame" is the wine-colored cape which is bizarrely attached to his wrists via the broken-off ass-ends of a tetherball. I cannot for the life of me imagine what good that possibly does. Did "The Owl" have a problem with his cape escaping at some point in the past, possibly in an effort to flee the scene of the fashion disaster in progress, thus necessitating some sort of leash?

As uninspired as he is on his own, though, "The Owl" gets outdone in the unfortunate costume competition by his girlfriend, the shockingly named "Owl Girl". There's nothing like red high heels to really set off a purple body suit. Maybe she was anticipating the great observation from "Good Morning Viet Nam" when the Robin Williams character advises the army change to a similar color scheme: "It's war, let's clash!"

So, bad costume -- check. Bad side-kick -- check. "But Jeff," I hear you say, "what else is bad about The Owl?!" Well I'm glad you asked, imaginary internet person, because if you carefully read the comics page you'll see that the bad pun to panel ratio is approaching one. I was trying to imagine what is worse than a character named after an owl, dressed in purple, standing next to another owl-themed purple-clad woman in red heels, who runs around spouting "jokes" that would embarrass Golden Age Robin, when I realized the answer was right in front of me -- if the "jokes" were puns that rhymed! That combination of badness is almost enough to rip the fabric of space-time.

Almost.

The only thing missing for the perfect combination of lameness, for that singularity of suck, would be if you combined all those things into one page and then finished it off with an incredibly silly set of gadgets like an Owl Mobile or, I don't know, maybe "Robot Owlos".

Wait, what's that ripping sound ... ?

(Many thanks to reader Kate, who once again has come up with a winner of a loser.)

16 Responses to Multi-level badness

  1. I believe that ripping sound is god ripping up his newspaper.

    The headline – ‘Experiments prove that Satan is cooler than God!’

  2. Which of course is false.

  3. Hi guys! This my take on the Owl. I hope you like it.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=334429&l=0529a55b74&id=1815191475

  4. I won’t argue that is one major eyesore of a costume. But I believe that the Alex Ross re-design is a major improvement.

    http://www.comicvine.com/111247-owl/105-174783/

    He’s currently apart of Dynamite Entertainment’s new series Project Superpowers alongside other public domain heroes like Black Terror and Daredevil (the golden age version who is now called The ‘Devil).

    Mr. Q

  5. Alex Ross’s costume is an improvement, but A. It’s still purple, and I’ve never seen a purple owl, and B. that mask must collect a tremendous amount of spit. I like Danny Beaty’s take better.
    I should also mention that The Owl’s main weapon was the “Ga-Ga gun,” which fired rays that made his target go…well, ga-ga. When The Owl himself got shot with it once, he sat in a tree and hooted.

  6. I need to just turn this column over to Reader Kate. “It’s still purple, and I’ve never seen a purple owl” is classic. Why didn’t I think of that?!

  7. William A. Peterson

    The “Ga-ga Gun”?
    And I thought Blue Beetle’s “BB Gun” was lame beyond all comprehension!
    Well, okay, it is…
    But, still! 😀

  8. Imaginary Internet Person

    Don’t you ever put words in my mouth, Herbert! I never asked you anything about the Owl! D:<

  9. Reader Kate: Ok, I’ll give you the “purple owl” one. But the whole mask item always has a drawback. Hell, I’ve got a Charleston Chew Marvel comic where Spider-Man suffered from a head cold and learned that a full head mask does not make a good hankie. O_o

    “Ga-ga gun”?!

    Well, I should be thankful not ALL of the golden age material fully translated onto Project Superpowers. ^^;

    Mr. Q

  10. @Reader Kate: Thanks for the kind words. I agree with you on the purple costume. Purple is a terrible color for an owl character.

  11. Damn you, Rob Liefeld! Daaammnnn yoouuu…!

  12. I actually kind of like the robot owls. Why they’re called “owlos” I don’t know, and having to address them with a bullhorn seems likely to draw attention to them, but they really aren’t a bad idea.

    If Batman had mechanical bats staking out problem areas of Gotham, collecting surveillance and helping on demand, would that not be cool?

  13. No. One of them would go bad or get infected by a rogue AI, decide it was a vampire robo-bat, and the next day every vehicle in Gotham would mysteriously be missing all of their gasoline.

  14. owlos…owls of science?

  15. Good point, EnderX. Maybe not a good fit for Batman, after all.

    I still think they could be useful, though. Scouts for the Unstoppable Robot Army ™, perhaps. Or just good for chasing birds out of your garage.

  16. Is it me or does his Ga-Ga Gun look like a mixer?

    Stupid weapon, but it might be fun at parties! What fun would it be to shoot your boss with it at the office Christmas party and post the results on YouTube?