Sorry to get your hopes up, but if you scroll down, you’ll see I was right: he’s not wearing a swimsuit, so GOTCHA! That’s what you get for clicking on a naughty post title on FUNday! This week’s issue is one of Marvel’s most infamous parodies, so go light your menorah, eat some latkes and enjoy!
Marvel Illustrated: Swimsuit Issue #1
The caption on the very top says it all, “A sophisticated parody for everyone who loves Marvel Comics!” Containing hilarious joke ads, a sports-related plot and some of the most bizarre artwork you’ll ever see, this magazine-sized issue was a clear parody of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. The front section of the magazine contained a series of fake articles, one of which was a fictional interview with Northstar written by Fabien Nicieza, Alpha Flight writer from issue #87-101 (1990-1991) that also contains an interestingly modified image of Northstar.
The table of contents introduces the piece:
INTERVIEW WITH NORTHSTAR
Jean-Paul Beaubier, the former Olympic ski champion and current Canadian super-hero, addresses the critics who claim his medals were won unjustly.
Unfortunately, “Beaubier” was misspelled through the interview, which turns out to be not such a bad piece of writing, and whose relevance extends even into modern times. The text of the interview is presented in its entirety here:
In light of the recent controversies in the world of sports over the use of performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids, we decided to get the opinions of an athlete whose physical advantages were a result of birth, and not artificially induced. Jean-Paul Baubier [sic] was a world champion skier for the Canadian National and Olympic teams, winning a total of six gold medals.
Baubier now works for DEPARTMENT H, the super human studies and operations division of the Canadian government as a field operative for the superhuman force known as ALPHA FLIGHT. Most people would sooner recognize the super hero, Northstar, than the skier Baubier-and yet they are one and the same.
We were able to get a very rare, very brief, interview with the usually reclusive Baubier to discuss his feelings on his former skiing career and how he feels, in restrospect, about having competed with an advantage that many have stated as not all that different from those employed by the likes of Ben Johnson in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
MI Mister Baubier, having seen the effects Ben Johnson’s actions had on the people of Canada and the sports world, how do you respond to the recent comparisons between your former feats on the slopes and Johnson’s on the track?
B Well, to start off with, I believe that it is not a questions which can be answered easily in a concise, trite response. I agonized over my decision to retire from competition because of my own conflicting beliefs on this very matter.
Some would say that my mutant power gave me an unfair advantage, but does the American Michael Jordan
have an unfair advantage over a lesser player if he is only employing the abilities he was born with, combined with his desire to perfect his skills? What if my mutant power were to shoot pine cones from my toes? Would that have constituted an unfair advantage?
MI Well, I would imagine not, but the fact of the matter is, your super-human abilities involve the power to move at speeds in excess of seven thousand miles per hour!
B Seven thousand, seven hundred, buy why quibble? I understand your point, but didn’t many prejudiced ball players say the same of Jackie Robinson when he became the first black to play professional baseball in the states? When Manute Bol, the tallest man in the National basketball Association, blocks a ball, everyone mutters under their breath that it is not fair. They are all performing under conditions they were born with-how can that truly be called unfair?
The honest truth is that I do not, to this day, know whether I used my powers while I rushed down the slopes. If I did, it would have been in an unconscious way. You must understand, if I had employed my abilities to their fullest extent, I would have completed the course before the starting gates had finished opening.
MI And that would have been rather noticeable.
B Rather. If you check my course times in the Olympics and the Nationals, you will see that, although I won every event I participated in, it was never by more than a second or two.
MI How do you feel when some of your own countrymen state that you should return your medals and they should be awarded to the runners-up?
B I find such statements preposterous. My accomplishments stand the test of time. I won in the name of Canada, for the people of Canada and Quebec. Any regrets or recriminations ar this point seem rather pointless. I have some, but they are my own.
MI Any final thoughts in regards to today’s athletes involved in the use of performance-altering chemicals?
B I would say they are only cheating themselves. I know it sounds cliché, but it is true. Those who use these artificial enhancements and win will always question themselves as to whether they truly deserved it or not.
MI Do you ever wish you could have the chance to compete just once more without your powers-to prove to yourself and to your critics that your accomplishments were well-earned?
B Only every other minute of every other day. But don’t all athletes always relive their past performances? Isn’t that the nature of the hunt for perfection and success?
One time and one time only… oui, that would be nice…
-by Fabian Nicieza
The illustration above showing Northstar in contemplation is an interesting piece. You may recognize it from the Alpha Flight #22, from the quiet scene in Quebec after he puts Jeanne-Marie to bed and considers his association with the team. It’s interesting because in addition to being re-colored, Byrne’s art has been altered to add a right hand and a left arm! The ghosty abdomen also is partially reconstructed around the left torso. Here is the original panel shown with borders to emphasize the boundaries of the original image and below, superimposed in red on the new illustration:
Note: The interviewer mentions that Northstar’s top speed is in excess of seven thousand miles per hour. His actual top speed is 99.9% of the speed of light, which is 670 million miles per hour.
Note: There is a rumor (on wikipedia, of course) that subsequent swimsuit issues were titled without the word, “Illustrated” to avoid litigation from Sports Illustrated, but that’s highly doubtful. The Supreme Court decision Hustler Magazine v. Falwell in 1988 paved the way for parodies of exactly this type to be constitutionally protected free speech, so Marvel had little to worry about, especially since it was clearly stated in the inidicia, “This publication is a parody of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED” Nevertheless, future issues (yes, someone decided to publish FOUR MORE of these) dropped the “Illustrated” out of its title.