Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's a cliche, but a cliche unique to comics. That's something, right?

As far as sports go, I watch football (Pro. I hate college ball) and the occasional hockey game, but I don't think about them a lot. The idea for this post is probably directly cribbed from this post tying in steroid abuse and comic books from Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep!!, and since I had re-read Aliens: Genocide last week. I didn't have anything to say about that one at the time, especially since my only idea was going to be Red Vs. Blue, and they went with green instead. Phooey.

This story's set further on in the Aliens timeline than we see in the movies: by this point, while the Aliens (or Xenomorphs or whatever) are by no means domesticated, they are on occasion harvested for the Alien Queen's royal jelly, which has different effects depending on how it's processed, or the whims of the writer. This time, it's being used as a super-steroid and a strength-enhancing berzerker drug.

The above scene happens all the time in comics: an athlete takes a performance-enhancing drug. And immediately explodes. Or Hulks out. Or can't control his newfound strength or speed--the old New Universe book Kickers, Inc. started like that, I believe, with the enhanced characters getting too strong to play pro football. At any rate, the athlete takes a drug, and is promptly and severely punished.

But, this scenario is almost always reserved for athletes: if you're a ninety-pound weakling like Steve Rogers, or a scientist like Rex (Hourman) Tyler, why, you'll be fine. Drugs are good for you! It's a double standard even Captain America had to question, although again, there is a world of difference between steroids sold out of a locker by a skeevy guy who hangs out at the gym; and something prescribed by doctors in a secret government experiment...or developed yourself and tested by you. Huh.

And while it's been done far past the point of cliche in comics, has the "steroids turn you into a literal monster, not figurative" bit been done anywhere else? Even the Simpsons have done a PSA-style episode on steroids, but only in comics can drugs turn kids into head-crushing monsters, or explode their own skulls. Uh, yay comics?

So, I guess the lesson is, it's OK to want to better yourself by dubious chemical means, but if you're a competitive athlete you have to play by the rules. Everyone else can pound Super-Soldier formula or shoot Miraclo between their toes to their hearts' content. And that's why those nutrition "supplement" stores are still around even when the economy is in the toilet...cue "The More You Now" rainbow star.

Panels from Aliens: Genocide #1, story by Mike Richardson, script by John Arcudi, pencils by Damon Willis, inks by Karl Story, covers and colors by Arthur Suydam.