Earlier this week, my Facebook friend Michael Noble asked for my help in identifying a few characters on the shirt you see below.
He asked about the characters in row two, column four; row three, column four; and row four, column three. (I should make sure it is clear that rows are horizontal and columns are vertical.) The first two fellows in question were clearly members of Marvel’s Inhumans, but I wasn’t sure of their names. A quick search of the internets and I was able to put names to faces. The fellow with the green headgear is Karnak and the one with the odd looking tiara is Gorgon.
But that third fellow. Hmm. Nick Fury came to mind, but there’s no eye patch. Ben Grimm in an un-Thing state maybe, but a further search revealed the hair was wrong.
There was that Native American character who hung with the Fantastic Four for a while. What was his name? Some help from people on the Nostalgia Zone’s Facebook page provided the name: Wyatt Wingfoot.
Hmm. But was it him? I did more image searching and found that Wingfoot’s hair was a black, not brown as on the shirt. He also was drawn with a prominent widow’s peak. I wasn’t sure. It was probably him, but I just couldn’t tell.
Enter Michael Oachs, a FB friend of the Nostalgia Zone. He had been able to hunt down the source of many of those superhero portraits. He posted to the comments thread the cover of Fantastic Four number 54. That was a tremendous help!
With the issue number now known, I was able to determine that Wyatt Wingfoot was part of the story of that comic book. And on the cover you can see that Wingfoot’s hair is black, not brown. The widow’s peak may not have been prominent, but it was clear now just who that character was.
However, that opened another mystery. Specifically, why was Wingfoot, a secondary character, included but not the Invisible Girl? (Early days of comic book sexism there, she later became the Invisible Woman.) After all, she is a major character and she is on that cover. Why not include her?
Captain America, the Silver Surfer, the Falcon, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Wolverine round out the characters not included on the cover of FF #54. And, to be thorough, the names of the remaining cast are: Triton, Mr. Fantastic, Karnak, the Thing, Black Bolt, Gorgon, Black Panther, the Human Torch, and Wyatt Wingfoot.
The makers of that design could have easily nixed Wingfoot, slid Spider-Man in that spot, and added the Invisible Girl where ol’ Spidey had been. That way there would be an entire row with the members of the Fantastic Four. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I suppose that wouldn’t make the multitudes of Wyatt Wingfoot fans very happy, but it would make more sense.
I thought the shirt was a relic of the ’70s, an item stuck away in Mr. Noble’s closet for many years. But, I was wrong. It turns out the shirt was purchased from a Target within the last 15 years or so. Not a spring chicken of a shirt, but still fairly recent.
Which means this shirt was made well after Marvel realized calling her the Invisible Girl was demeaning and belittling of the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four. (Writer/illustrator John Byrne was responsible for her name change and explored her powerful potential when he worked on the title in the 1980s.) I find that Target or whomever was responsible for the shirt using just male characters to the point of excluding a major character for a minor one a little disturbing.
Must be the patriarchy.