Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Golden Age Vibe

Originally uploaded by Scipio1.

I love this man, and I don't care who knows it.

It's fairly safe to say that Paco Ramone (a sonic superhero codenamed Vibe) isn't one of DC's most beloved characters. Never was.

He was supposed to be the Sensational Character Find of 1984. Young, urban, Latin, hip. Or at least what the 1984 media shorthanded as hip (you know, breakdancing and such). And edgy? Why, the man had a soul patch decades before decent people wore them. Refreshingly, Vibe was always drawn short; why should you have to be 6 foot tall to have superpowers?

Paco had his problems, though. Fashion sense? Vibe's outfit is what I would expect in an Imaginary Story where a young Robin was brainwashed into joining the Royal Flush Gang. Dialog? Vibe was saddled with a Hispanic accent/dialect, and dialect plays poorly in comics, a medium ill-suited to registering subtleties of sound (a fact which didn't help the rest of his attributes, either: the music, the dancing, the sonic powers). In fact, if you read carefully, you knew his accent was a put-on for street cred (a la Black Lightning), but no one remembers that part. Attitude? Like many ghetto characters, Vibe got stuck with a "Chu doan know nuttin 'bout life en el barrio, meng" schtick. Ugh.

I didn't read JLA at that time, but I love Vibe in retrospect. Despite his Reagan-era trappings, Vibe is very Golden Age. Golden Agers were bright and shiny and his hideously mishmashed color scheme would fit in perfectly. Can't you picture him shopping with Alan Scott, Ted Knight, Charles McNider, and young Dick Grayson? Like other Golden Agers, he had a deceptive persona he adopted as his private identity, and played the role very broadly. And in true Golden Age style, his personal life led him into conflicts which he then used his powers to resolve, rather than every story starting with a supervillain slugfest.

Vibe does cameos in the JLU cartoon, but in the DCU proper, he's dead. When DC decided it was time for the real Justice League to return, they had someone step on Vibe (no, not Atom-Smasher, although I wouldn't put it past him). Since no one can come back from the dead (except Clark, Hal, Ollie, Diana, Jason, et al.), I don't expect to see Paco again.

But I want a Vibe comeback anyway. That could be accomplished by bringing his brother, Reverb, back into action, maybe even re-name himself "Vibe" in his brother's honor. He knows Aquaman, Zatanna, and Martian Manhunter, so have them introduce him to Black Canary. She could help him with his sonic powers, and lord knows "Birds of Prey" could use some beefcake hanging around. She could eventually plug him into the JSA, even. After all, he would be continuing the legacy of a "Golden Age-ish" hero!

Just don't let Atom-Smasher step on this one.


naladahc said...

Ya know, you've given me some appreciation for Vibe. I never thought of him in "golden age requirements" terms before but does fit the ones you listed.

And who knows, perhaps JLU will do an episode focused on Gypsy, Vibe, Steele, and Vixen. It'd be a nod to JLA Detroit fans (if there are any) and could redeem these characters.

Hell, in retrospect they were treated worse than the Infinitor or the JSA after Crisis.

Jhunt said...

I was one of the seven people who read JLA Detroit when it was coming out. Admittedly, it was not good. You've got to respect DC for giving such a batsh*t crazy idea room to blossom, though. The thing I remember most about this era of JLA is that it ended with perhaps the worst matching of artist to material I've ever witnessed. Now, I loves me some Luke McDonnell... his and Ostrander's Suicide Squad is one of the best books of the 1980s. However, his blocky, heavily shadowed art style clashed most mightely with JLA stories (even hardcore, Dee-troit street JLA stories).

...I still miss Steel, though. He was probably my favorite super-hero when I was 11. No, I don't know why either.

Scipio said...

Oh, H, what does DC do best?

Redeem bad characters.

Which is all I'm asking them to do with Vibe. You see, H...

I am the new Spirit of Redemption!

Hate Filled Poster said...

The 80's are back musically anyway. Perfect time to bring a B-Boy hero back.

Johnny Bacardi said...

I never thought there was really anything wrong with the Vibester, that a new pair of pants couldn't take care of...

And jhunt, make that 8. I read every issue of the JLD. Maybe it was because I had a silly little crush on Super-Cyndi Lauper, I mean Gypsy, but there ya go.