Saturday, November 13, 2010

See-Through Heroes: Bedlam

Continuing from a previous posting about heroes/villains/characters that are, essentially, see-through, I present Bedlam, one-time Chaos Comics character.

Bedlam was a Hopi who committed a little industrial sabotage to aid the tribe, only to accidentally uncover the symbol of Chaos, get it branded on his hand and get his face burned off in the process.  He was charged with a duty to travel throughout time and space battling evil.
You know, that old story.
PC bitches note: When you have a skull for a face you  have little to fear from smoking
Essentially Bedlam is a badarse skull-faced cowboy that battles evil with guns and magic powers.  He was never a major character at Chaos, what with not having his own book, but was very important to the overall storyline of the Chaos Universe itself.  He was also possibly the only character to survive the Chaos world-changing Armageddon event (Chaos's own Crisis On Infinite Earths, if you will) intact.  His ability to move through time, space and realities being the cause of that survival.

I believe a great deal of his charm comes from the fact that he did get so little use.  His only starring appearances being his origin story in Chaos Quarterly #1 and his own one-shot (pictured above).  While the character could be seen playing a variety of support roles throughout the Chaos books, he never warranted his own regular series.  Contrast that to, oh, Wolverine, who is in EVERYTHING EVERY MONTH and still had his own series for YEARS.

For its U.S. release, Deathly Hallows was updated with 150% more Wolverine, guaranteeing an extra 1 MIL sales!

In this picture you can see the Chaos brand in his palm, also it would seem that having one's face burned off permanently paints the nails.  That's handy.
When dealing with see-through characters, or fleshless characters like Bedlam, Skeletor, or Skullfire, we may ask ourselves many logical questions.  Among these questions one might ask, "How does this character see?"
That's a good question.
Bedlam's "eyes" appear to be points of light inside his skull.  If we accept that a person can live with his flesh burned from his skull, empowered by mystic forces of course, then we can bend the rules of physics regarding the nature of vision as reflected light.
This applies to Skeletor as well.
I have no idea what is going on here, but Day-um.  Bedlam as a pirate, Evil Ernie, and, yes, we have a SHARK! in the background.
In most cases the comics just say, "It is not known how (insert character name here) is able to see, but (s)he seems to suffer no debilitating effects as a result of (origin accident)."

Maybe I'm nuking it, but in the Golden Age of comics hero and villain origins were as simple as, "District Attorney Rick Raliegh could no longer stand idly by while criminals went unpunished.  Employing his trained bees and natural flair for wearing tights, he took to the streets to earn a buck as The Red Bee!" (Look him up, I could not make crazy shite like that up)

But then we had the Silver Age and things needed a better explanation than, "Came to Earth in a rocketship, yellow sun, got cool powers."  We needed things to make "Science-Fiction Sense!"  Which means that if you spill a bunch of chemicals on a police scientist and then hit him with a lightning bolt that magical combination of things can make him the fastest man alive.  Otherwise it's just silly, right?
The easy out is, of course, magic.  Or Magic! if you like.
In the modern age, unless you are trying to evoke the glorious Golden Age in spirit or with tongue firmly planted in cheek, you really have to explain things.  You have to know that being a Kryptonian means that your cells are solar batteries and that Rao, the red sun of Krypton, produces wavelengths that do nothing for those batteries but that the wavelengths from a yellow sun, like Sol, overclock those cells and provide abilities, such as heat vision, which is really just a controlled release of solar energy.  Yep.
Fist Fulla Magic (wah wah waaahhh)
So sometimes I like to not have to answer those questions.  The out door?  Yep, Magic!  If I am going to accept that a Hopi can dig open a Chaos! mark in the ground, have his face burned off, get the Chaos! brand, travel through time and space and dimensions battling evil I am not going to quibble about his being able to see or his smoking habits.  At least not this time.
'Scool, Bedlam
Next time we do a See-Through Heroes article, I cannot promise I will be so understanding.
Bedlam: 10 points out of 10 for being cool, creepy and badass all in one.

Until next time, keep your atomic skeletons lit.


  1. I don't know if you watch the Military Channel, but they have their running Top 10 series that discusses all manner of equipment, from the last three or four generations of military hardware and rates it according to four categories. You've heard me complain how Russian equipment always comes out on top, it seems.

    Maybe you could do the Top 10 see through characters, and develop a four category rating system, as you seem to have done at the end of this one, to see who is the best of breed.

  2. That's a pretty good idea, really. I would need to refine my far too arbitrary rating system, but I could manage that.