Saturday, November 13, 2010

Out of the Vault- Scorpio Rose

In the late 70's, DC Comics introduced a character named Madame Xanadu in a book titled Doorway to Nightmare. I never read any Madame Xanadu stories, but according to Wikipedia, she functioned something like the Hulk in his late 70's TV series. Each issue she would help a different person with their problems, with the bulk of the story devoted to the guest stars. When DC entered the direct market, they decided to give her her own title, Madame Xanadu, written by Steve Englehart and pencilled by the late Marshall Rogers.

Then Englehart and DC got into an argument over payment for a Superman/Creeper story (which found its way to Eclipse and morphed into Cap'n Quick and the Foozle). Englehart left DC and took his stories with him, so Madame Xanadu was cancelled after one issue.

Shortly thereafter, in 1983, Scorpio Rose #1 was published by Eclipse, once again featuring the Englehart/Rogers team. And like Cap'n Quick, Scorpio Rose was basically a reworking of Englehart's planned Madame Xanadu tales with an original character. Only since "Flashdance" had just come out to enormous success in April of that year, the magical Ms. Rose wore a leotard with one shoulder bare and leg warmers.

In the first issue, we learn that Scorpio Rose is a three-hundred-year-old sorceress whose mission it is to keep evil magical artifacts out of the hands of bad guys. She fights off a gang of guys trying to steal a magical tome called the Book of Fleshe and retreats to her home, where she is visited by a guy named Igor Gravesend.

Flashback 300 years to when Scorpio Rose was a young gypsy dancer whose camp was visited by the same Igor Gravesend. The sexy young Rose throws herself shamelessly at the city slicker, who keeps telling her he's not interested and to stay away from him. But that just makes her more determined, so she leads him out of camp, ostensibly to show him a "short-cut to St. Petersburg," which in the Romany tongue is apparently code for "Scorpio Rose's vagina."

Before they can get busy, though, Rose's jealous boyfriend Zachariasz shows up. He's kind of a douche.

A douche with a knife, which gets Scorpio all hot and bothered.

At which point Ms. Rose learns that, before you promise yourself as the spoils to the victor (Igor Gravesend, in this case), you should make sure he isn't actually some super-demon in disguise.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure the demon-rape wasn't exactly the way it would have appeared in DC comics. Anyway, the rape breaks her soul, leaving her immortal. Left with time to kill, she goes out and learns magic and becomes the protector of good for 300 years, until Igor shows up again, having been sent by his boss to retrieve the Book of Fleshe. Igor warns Scorpio that he will be forced to return in his demon form, so she'd probably better make herself scarce.

She flees, pursued by the demon, but finally manages to escape by using a magical tarot card to flee into Purgatory. Where she runs into Zachariasz. Who's still a douche.

In issue two, Scorpio flees with the shade of Zachariasz into Hecate's realm to ask for help. Of course, Hecate tells her to take a hike. So after another run-in with Igor the demon, she flees to a sort of alternate dimension or something, where she decides it's a perfect time to make out with the 300-year-old spectre of her douche ex-boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Igor has returned to human form and uses a magical amulet to try to break free of the control of his evil masters. At which point he suddenly awakens in the suburban kitchen of this woman...

Sorry, wrong story. I meant, this woman...

And since this is a Steve Englehart comic, the appearance of a beautiful woman with the incredibly annoying verbal tic of constantly referring to herself as "This One" can only mean one thing: she's the Celestial Madonna, a character concept Englehart originated with a character named Mantis in Marvel's Avengers, then carried over to DC's Justice League of America (where he called her Willow), and has now ported over to Eclipse as Lorelei. And it turns out that the powers Igor works for want to use the Book of Fleshe to create an Anti-Christ to Lorelei's Celestial Messiah-son.

Which leads us to issue 3, in which... well, there was no issue 3. The entire story (including the lost issue 3) was apparently reprinted by Image in Coyote Collection 1, but I probably wouldn't read through it again even if you bought it for me. I've never been much of a fan of Englehart's writing, and though Marshall Rogers's art was really nice in places, Tom Palmer's muddy zip-filled inks and colors made the book hard to follow at times. Neither the rape-origin nor the Cosmic Anti-Christ plot really did it for me, and several pages are just jammed with overblown exposition disguised as dialogue. Speaking of "The Matrix," imagine a comic in which everyone talks like Morpheus or the Architect, all the time. Jeez.

No more for me, thanks. I'm full.

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