As the kung-fu werewolf disco '70s faded, a new look took hold in the pages of superhero comics. A fresh look. A bold look. A look informed by seeing a couple of seconds of Devo on Fridays. These were the years I was really into comics, which probably explains a lot of my poor fashion choices in later life. Presenting 12 superheroes and supervillains who could only have existed during the age of Grace Jones, Adam Curry, and Gordon Gekko.
He's not just a criminal mastermind who broadcasts ear-splitting insect sounds with a bandolier of sonically enhanced Sony Walkmans (Walkmen?). He's also a Springsteen fan....
Whenever a comics publisher tries to keep up with current fashions, hilarity is certain to ensue. Dazzler was Marvel's great disco hope in the late '70s, but in the Reagan era, she took to dressing like a Jennifer Beals impersonator or an extra on 20-Minute Workout. What, no leg warmers? See, this is why Captain America wasn't born wearing a zoot suit.
10. Blue Streak
A lower-profile post-disco transformation, the roller-boogie badguy Blue Streak dropped his laidback Tony Manero look for a raid on Cobra Commander's closet. Guess it's true what they say about the increased potency of '80s cocaine.
9. Elongated Man
One of DC's most endearing Silver Age heroes was saddled with this purple indignity for most of the Prince era. I feel bad even bringing it up.
A murderous vigilante in a white flattop, a trench coat, and several nauseating shades of purple: what other decade could this have been? The whole New Universe line was an exercise in instantly-dated embarrassment (Kickers, Inc. - the prosecution rests), but Justice out-Eightied them all.
7. Crimson Fox
Sexy French fashion-model twins who share the same costume, Crimson Fox tells us a lot more about the inner lives of comics creators than we're comfortable knowing.
Speaking of which, if you're creating a character whose whole deal is that she's stylish and hot, maybe try picking up a fashion magazine or something, so you can see what's considered stylish and hot. It probably won't include butterfly collars, Ziggy Stardust eye shadow, a unitard with one leg missing, or big white circles over the lady's nipples.
As the dorks they were, '80s comics writers seemed convinced that there was a huge overlap between the criminal underworld and the postpunk avant garde. Funny, I don't remember seeing too many mohawked mugshots on the nightly news back then. But who cares about this gross misunderstanding when it brings us laughable grotesques like Magpie? Fishnets, those Sheila E. boots, and not one but three mohawks - oh, and she had a thing for diamonds.
Proof that the mullet could not be contained by this vibratory plane, the interdimensional imp Longshot remains the only superhero ever modeled on pop singer Limahl of Kajagoogoo and "The Never-Ending Story" fame. For real. Look it up.
For a few dark years there, the mighty Justice League of America mantle was turned over to a motley collection of charmless, go-nowhere n00bs. The most charmless of the bunch was Vibe, a hotheaded "street hood" from Detroit with the unlikely birth name of Paco Ramone and an even unlikelier wardrobe. Vibe was to the JLA what Poochie was to Itchy & Scratchy. When he was killed off after just a couple of years, there was a lot more mourning in the comics pages than in comics stores.
2. The Beyonder
As an omnipotent, godlike being from beyond the universe, or something, the Beyonder did what anybody in the '80s would have done with unlimited power to shape reality: first, turn himself into the Romulan Michael Jackson...
..then, take a limo ride to Radio Shack, chopping up some styrofoam in your Cuisinart along the way. Now that's livin' - '80s style! Did Marvel have its sphygmomanometer on the pulse of the zeitgeist or what?
1. Booster Gold
It just doesn't get any more '80s than the publicity-whoring, cereal-hawking, me-first Booster Gold, a crooked halfback of tomorrow who fled to back in time to 1985 with a buttload of fancy futuristic equipment - all to avoid conviction for throwing college football games. Come back, Art Schlichter. All is forgiven.
If you're into this sort of thing, you might like 10 Great Playmobil Toys or 10 Michael Jackson Video Clips You Won't See On The Nightly News.