Armagideon Time

Lousiness is not a prerequisite for becoming Nobody’s Favorite. It certainly helps when it comes down to writing these posts, sildenafil as laughably terrible concepts offer better opportunities to strut my passable imitation of wittiness. The jokes tend to write themselves when I tackle such obvious trainwrecks like the New Guardians or the “Angel” Punisher stories. Conducting forensic post-mortems of the forgettably bland is a more subtle affair, especially when it’s pretty obvious the character in question was never intended to rise beyond backbencher status.

Snark is easy and a proven crowd-pleaser, but it was never intended to be the underlying rationale behind this feature. Nobody’s Favorites was (from its inception) supposed to mean exactly that — comics, characters, and teams which contradicted the late Mark Gruenwald’s editorial assertion “every character is somebody’s favorite.” To keep thing from lapsing into the facile “Mort of the Month” boilerplate of “OMG SO LAME LOL,” I made a deliberate effort to throw some autobiographical anecdotes or critical-historical contex as value added between the scatological alt-test gags and cheap shots.

Even so, there seems to be some confusion when I take on a character who isn’t outright rotten and utterly deserving of ridicule. “He’s not my favorite, but I do kind of like him.” Well, that’s the point.

With those words of clarification in mind, let us turn our gaze to a lime-hued lass who wasn’t so much a travesty as a narrative fulcrum given a modicum of characterization. I am, of course, referring to…

Marrina, the Aquatic Alphan!

Marrina made her debut in the first issue of Alpha Flight‘s 1983 ongoing series. A former Beta Flight member promoted to the majors, Marrina represented the Canadian super-team’s Maritime Provinces contingent and her water control via superswimming powers delivered the decisive, fatal blow against the Great Beast Tundra.

Marrina’s moment of triumph turned out to be short-lived, as the following issue revealed John Byrne’s ulterior motive for adding her to the roster —

— which is to say, “a Puck-eviscerating spaz attack intended to set up a three issue plot arc.”

Y’see, Marrina was actually a slightly dinged representative of the rapacious alien race. Her people, the Plodex, were a more detail-oriented incarnation of John W. Campbell’s metamorphic “Thing from Another World.” In the semi-distant past, Plodex colony ships roamed the spacelanes in search of habitable worlds. Upon finding one, the vessels would carve out a comfy niche in a remote and environmentally hostile corner of the globe, then send out a hypnotic signal to compel the planet’s indigenous lifeforms to drop by and pay a visit. Whichever creature survived the journey was considered to be the dominant species, and was thus dissected and used as a genetic template to be imprinted on the ship’s payload of Plodex eggs.

It’s a brilliant plan…providing you’re looking to muster and invasion force consisting of penguins and extremophile bacteria.

The Plodex ship targeting Earth, however, suffered a catastrophic drive failure upon arrival. The egg carrying the embyronic Marrina was jettisoned into the Atlantic, where it was recovered by a Newfoundland fisherman 50,000 years later. The rest of the craft made a hard landing in the Arctic, where it’s attempts to carry on with its original mission were subverted by a hapless caveman who managed to wrest control of the systems and set himself up as a z-list worldbeater dubbed “The Master.”

Marrina’s heel turn was the Master’s handiwork, as his vague plans for conquest were mired in a Stockholm Syndrome-like fascination with the creatures who once vivisected him. Though Marrina’s long stint on the ocean floor and premature hatching had transformed her into a gentle human-aquatic being, her flesh-ripping alien nature remained coded in her alien genes and prone to surfacing with a little technological prodding.

Though the rest of the Alphans succeeded in rescuing Marrina from the Master’s bad bearded self, the pool-eyed plot point chose to depart with the guest-starring Sub-Mariner to find her destiny…and by “destiny,” I mean “some sweet, sub-surface Atlantean loving.”

The romance between Namor and Marrina did suffer a momentary setback when the Master returned to emphasize the pronounced body horror angle of Byrne’s Alpha Flight run, but the Sea King was able to meet Marrina’s family in the form of a baby/hobo/stray animal munching blob of unimprinted Plodex.

As the great Pablo Cruise taught us, love will find a way — even among Human-Atlantean crossbreeds and latent alien monstrosities — and Marrina soon began a new life as Mrs. Namor MacKenzie. It was a doomed marriage, however, as you can take the girl out of Canada, but you can’t take the Plodex out of the girl…

After Marrina’s berserker snack attack transformed her into a giant segmented sea monster, Namor was forced the borrow the Black Knight’s ebony sword and perform a tragic act of spousal filleting upon his ravenous bride.

Let that be a lesson to you young lovers out there: Marry the girl, marry her whole collective hive-mind creche.

In keeping with genre conventions, Marrina’s lifeless body was denied a final rest and instead run through the convoluted network of cogs and reclamation hoppers known as “the creative process for superhero comics.” There is no death with dignity in the superhero realm, only a diminishing cycle of ephemeral death and uncalled for resurrection…

…and sometimes your husband tosses your giant severed head through a plate glass window to induce some fist-pumping among the groundlings who still read this nonsense on a regular basis.

By last count, Marrina is once again among the living as a result of last year’s Chaos War silliness, but it’s only a matter of time before she’s chewing her way to a predictable, psuedo-poignant demise.

To reitierate what I stated at the beginning of this piece, there’s nothing particularly terrible about the Lime-Skinned Lass from Labrador. She was created to serve a purpose and served it adequately well. Marrina turned out all right in the (initial) end; it was the foul dust of creative bankruptcy which swept her into the murky depths where Nobody’s Favorites dwell.

4 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Aboot a girl”

  1. Sallyp

    For God’s sake, Marrina, use the fish fork!

  2. Philip

    Of course, now I can’t stop singing the jingle from the old “Marina” toilet paper commercial.

    “… soft as a sea breeze yet strong as the seeeeea.”

    Nobody’s favorite, indeed.

  3. Aberration, The

    Poor Marrina. In her latest incarnation, she’s an Angry Young Alien Activist, muttering “death to humans” under her breath or screaming “f**k the Canucks!” at the media (not an actual quote because I’ll be damned if I’ll slog through THAT eight-issue bowel movement again).

    But I had a crush on her in the early days. Sure, at the drop of a hat she could turn into a vicious monster that would tear your guts out, but hey, women amirite? (*looks around, then at ground*) …I sowwy.

    She used to be so sweet… Byrne gave us an adorable frame of Mar as an cheerful, big-eyed infant that could give Satan himself diabetes, and then showed how perfectly her color scheme and body type worked in a red sweater once she grew up. Namor gave her an awesome new outfit…and then they made out, leaving me as heartbroken as her human adoptive brother who had planned to marry her. (Not creepy at all!)

    But yeah, every time she appeared after her big reveal, she was basically there to explodex all over the place (only less effectively, because once you’ve disemboweled Puck you really don’t have a follow-up; she started “temporarily blinding” her friends with fish oil and such) and boy howdy did that get old fast.

    Byrne, as is his habit, swiftly (and noticeably) lost interest in his Alpha-baby, and–as is his habit–spent a year running the book completely into the ground for someone else to try and salvage while he moved on to his next victim. (At Marvel this was usually left up to Bill Mantlo, who was not…up to the task. But the way out of his “Dream Queen” mess still stands as a beautiful if unintentional parody of DC’s do-whatever-then-reboot chaos-policy; the Universal Reboot/History-Eraser Button isn’t any stupider than “Oh! The craptacular year we just had? It was allll a dreeeam!”) But other artists had little interest in Marrina as anything but The Hideous Thing From Another Plot, and so my fetishes and I moved on.

    Poor Marrina Smallwood-Namor. I loved you once. But we’ll always have Newfoundland, and its closed, frequently inbred community where freaks and sports are not uncomJESUS CHRIST, BYRNE, WOW.

  4. Scholar-Gipsy

    Bonus points for the Gatsby allusion!

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