18 comments to “P:R Approved: Brian Stelfreeze’s Crime Syndicate of America!”
  1. Love the Owlman, Ultraman and Superwoman. Power Ring almost seems a little too goody two shoes looking and Johnny Quick kinda lost me.

  2. I think it’s clear why this piece led with Owlman; it’s an absolutely first-class costume. Has anyone done closures like that before? I always liked Doctor Midnight’s buttons, but this takes it to a whole different level.

    I don’t see anything special about Power Ring or Ultraman. They work well enough, but aren’t too exciting or innovative. Johnny Quick is just a step above those because a super-speedy kukra is so menacing. Superwoman is a fine design, but I think it’s problematic to say that the evil Wonder Woman would be black for some reason.

  3. I haven’t checked out the rest yet, but this is looking amazing.

    I want to see things colored, there are a few things I’m a little unsure how they will turn out.

    If I had to make a complaint, I’d say it’s the fact it looks like his cod piece is taped shut.

    ….and what exactly is his left foot resting on? The gun grip is pointed inward, so that’s a….stabilizing bar on a sniper rifle? Sorry, not trying to nitpick, but it’s what I do…

    Ignoring those two minor things, I’d proudly display this in my collection, I really do love it.

  4. @Jim,

    I don’t really see the problem with Superwoman being black. Are only white folks allowed to be bad guys now? If you really examine the designs, they’re playing a bit with archetypes for what each of the characters represents. Superwoman is a tough, strong, take-no-B.S. woman, so I think it’s pretty obvious that Stelfreeze (who is black) felt like a black woman with a bit of 70s style Foxy Brown flair embodied that ideal (love the bullwhip, BTW). I don’t really see any source for controversy or complaint there.

  5. Evil Batman with a huge sniper gun? Evil Superman with Roman laurels? A speedster armed with a kukri? There are so many great ideas and such a strong overall design sense in these pieces that it’s a shame they’re not official.

  6. The more I think about it, the more I like Ultraman. An evil Superman basing his look of a Roman Caesar instead of a circus strongman, really inspired.

  7. I love these. I mean absolutely LOVE these! I especially love the aestehic changes of not trying to make them exact evil counterparts. Like that Power Ring has long blonde hair, and Superwoman is black! The costume choices are all great, but Owlman, and Ultraman are defintiely tops, with Johnny Quick in third.

  8. @ Erik. Pretty sure his foot isn’t resting on the gun at all, but on an unseen bit of background.

    @ rendmon. I get the concept, I’m just not a fan of the random divergence from the established character (though to be fair, she has been pretty malleable in the comics).

  9. Considering that the Crime Syndicate costumes should be twisted versions of the Justice League costumes, I think Stelfreeze HAS to do the Justice League costumes from which these would have been derived.

  10. @Jim,

    Okay, but “not being a fan” of something implies something quite a bit different than saying “it’s problematic” to make the change. Your wording pretty clearly (even if unintentionally) implied an issue with making an “evil” character Black. I don’t see the problem with that (at least not on this case).

  11. Well Rendmon, I originally had a few extra sentences in my comment, but wasn’t sure it was worth getting into.

    But yeah, I still find it problematic. I don’t feel that the archetypes are being “played with” very much in the other drawings. If anything, at least one character (Power Ring) hews closer to his heroic counterpart than the actual/established Crime Syndicate character does. So why change the ethnicity of one character? And regardless of the intent, how is it to be explained in an actual story? “Because it’s cool,” works well enough for a pin-up, and in far too many actual comics these days, but optimally there should be a more thoughtful answer to the question.

  12. I don’t think Jim was trying to say black characters can’t be portrayed as evil, but I can see why Superwoman’s race could be considered problematic. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the change, because it does fit her personality and artists should be free to reinterpret characters any way they see fit. However, because Superwoman is supposed to be Wonder Woman’s evil counterpart, some people may see that as white=good, black=evil. At the very least, keeping the other members of the Syndicate as white men should be evidence enough to show that the artist had no poor intentions, although in this day and age race is a very sensitive subject, and it’s hard to say what will and will not offend certain people.

  13. About Superwoman being black, I actually take a bigger issue with the lack of prominent minority villains. I mean you have Magneto who’s Jewish. You have Apocalypse who’s Egyptian and pasty. You have the Mandarin who’s very Chinese unless he’s being portrayed on the big screen. Those are about the only notable ones.

  14. Terrell: While the population of prominent minority villains isn’t with the ratio of earth’s population, off the top of my head there are interesting ones in addition to ones you mentioned: Doctor Doom (hungarian), Ra’s Al Ghul (middle eastern), Norman Osborn (Jewish), Black Adam (egyptian), Bane (Carribean), Shredder (Japanese), Amanda Waller (African American), Black Manta (African American), Angstrom Levy (African American) and Killer Croc (African American). I’m working on an article about it for CBR, so I happen to know several off the top of my head.

  15. @Terrell,

    I fully agree. The lack of formidable black villains has always been a lot more noticeable to me than the deficit of black heroes. At least there are a number of noteworthy black heroes (whether they’re being used enough/correctly is another issue).

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