Sunday, February 7, 2010

Go Ask Marisol -- Slice!

Slice, a.k.a. the Living Razor, stands as a rather late Trademark creation, at least the Marisol Garcia version that appears in Worlds Apart. I first wrote a character called Slice back in the early ‘80s. (Let’s call her “Slice 1.0”) Basically a generic homicidal maniac à la Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (see my previous blog entry), she fought alongside Spree in the ranks of Maniac’s Götterdämmerung.

Sketching a rudimentary background for Slice 1.0, I conceived her as a teenage runaway turned psychotic sadist. Never a central member of Maniac’s minions, Slice 1.0’s biography only came to light in snatches of raving, misandrist dialogue. With her outspoken hatred for the male gender encapsulated in virtually every voice balloon, I imagined her primarily as a child of the streets who had lived her teenage years suffering under the domination of abusive men while doing anything possible to survive. (You can use your imagination here.)

My inspiration for such an urchin-turned-predatrix lies in myriad pop cultural icons that informed my youth and adolescence. The melding of two distinct archetypes -- the damsel in distress and the femme fatale -- became a staple of teenage exploitation entertainment like Go Ask Alice (1973), Born Innocent (1974), Switchblade Sisters (1975), Taxi Driver (1976), Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway (1976), Hardcore (1979) and, of course, the 1984 cult classic Angel. Earlier blogs regarding Spree and Mosquito have already revealed that I formed a bizarre kind of psycho-sexual fascination for “bad girls” during my teenage years. Even before I was exposed to Russ Meyer and neo-Nazi sirens, though, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the prurient personas of troubled, desperate waifs living on the edge.

I can pretty much trace my first exposure to ingénues in crisis with Go Ask Alice in 1973. How and why 8-year-old Mark Kozak was allowed to watch this trashy, over-the-top TV movie, I’ll never know. My sister was twelve at the time, and I’m sure my mom wasn’t really paying close attention as I absorbed the horrific plot complications besetting the main character. Besides, the cast boasted Andy Griffith, and I’m sure my mom never thought Sheriff Taylor would attach himself to anything less than wholesome.

A short time after digging Alice, I grooved on Born Innocent with Linda Blair. Once again, I’m amazed my mom let me watch such programming. This made-for-TV trash-fest boasts a graphic scene with a toilet plunger some twenty-odd years before NYC cops similarly assaulted Abner Louima with a broomstick. Then, in 1976, network executives struck exploitative gold again with Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, featuring the very fetching Eve Plumb (“Jan Brady”) forced into one compromising position after another.

With the advent of cable-TV in my household, I caught up with some major Hollywood entries in the teen exploitation sweepstakes: Taxi Driver, Switchblade Sisters, and of course Hardcore. By the time I got around to creating Slice 1.0, then, I was pretty much warped beyond redemption. For the next few years, Slice 1.0 remained a stock, two-dimensional psycho-babe; good for a few slashing, dashing fight sequences, but little else.

As explained in previous blogs, the Trademark Universe underwent some drastic overhauling when I began attending Ohio University in 1984. New influences, scholarly and social, re-informed and re-invented the characters conceived in my youth. With Buckshot’s college career essentially mirroring my own, most of my new stories centered on the hybrid hood turned hero. Needing a kind of counterpoint to Buckshot’s penitent journey, I returned to the ranks of Maniac’s Götterdämmerung and decided to re-envision one of my stock super-baddies.

Immediately, Slice leaped out at me. Unlike Spree and Mosquito, characters consistently developed to be in their mid-twenties, Slice occupied relatively the same age bracket as Buckshot (and myself for that matter). Bitten by the bug of multiculturalism and diversity, I discarded my previous portrayal of Slice as typically caucasian. Sporting a major crush on Miami Vice’s Saundra Santiago at the time, I lustily re-imagined Slice as Marisol Garcia, a teenage prostitute turned psychopath with an unspecified Hispanic/Latina heritage. Thus, Slice 2.0 was born circa 1984. In subsequent stories, I took the new character through a journey of her own, from sadistic psycho-bitch to soul-searching super-heroine.

For more on Slice, let us once more consult the Titanic Trademark Handbook:

Slice (Marisol Garcia) Formerly a member of Maniac’s Götterdämmerung, Slice’s entire body is encased in a permanent force-field, transforming her into a living razor. By concentrating, Slice can adjust the sharpness of her razor field, enabling her to easily cut through stone, brick, and even dense metals like a hot knife through butter. At its most acute level, Slice’s razor field has even severed molecular bonds. However, the energy spent on such an endeavor quickly exhausts her.

Gradually wooed over to the side of law-and-order by a persistent Buckshot, Slice originally attempted to go straight by abandoning Götterdämmerung and joining the Protectors. Immediately finding herself at loggerheads with Silver Streak and Hangman, however, Slice quickly left the group and struck out on her own.

Continually fighting the savage impulses hardwired into her hybrid brain, Slice’s journey to redemption has been much more difficult than Buckshot’s. Left to her own devices after deserting the Protectors, Slice regressed more than once to her old ways. Never comfortable as a super-villainess, though, Slice eventually fell in with Wolf and his loose confederation of unconventional heroes, the Irregulars. Since then, she’s been more or less a hero (unless you talk to Silver Streak, that is).

Weapons -- Her entire body.

Personal Items -- Marisol is a beautiful young woman who can never touch a normal man for fear of slicing him to ribbons. She has, however, managed a few relationships with men. During her Götterdämmerung days, she hooked up with Rival, as he was able to transform his skin into a substance invulnerable to her razor field.

Later, during her short stint as a Protector, Slice found some solace in the arms of the invulnerable Achilles. In typical Achilles fashion, however, the demigod soon tired of Marisol, and since then she’s been relegated back to untouchable status.

Inspired by Buckshot’s example, Slice makes a conscious effort to channel her aggressive emotionalism into more constructive pursuits, namely sculpting. For a brief period, Marisol even attended Ohio University with Buckshot, majoring in Art. Unfortunately, the structure and demands of university life didn’t agree with her, and Slice dropped out before attaining her degree.

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