Laissez Les Bon Temps Roule! Celebrate Mardi Gras With These Louisiana Comic Characters

by Gary Catig

The Carnival season begins the same time every year, during Twelfth Night. It occurs on January 6, and marks the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Carnival is a festive period of feasting and fun that culminates on Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. The celebration allows people to purge themselves of all their vices before Lent begins. People all over the United States celebrate the season to varying degrees and the area it’s most prominent is the Gulf Coast. In particular New Orleans. We’ll take a look a different comic characters from Louisiana and see how they might partake in the Carnival merriments.

The season can last for two months depending on the year, but the party doesn’t really begin until the parades. They start a few weeks before Fat Tuesday and are held by social clubs called krewes. When Krewe du Vieux marches, it marks the start of parades. They have a walking parade that pulls themes from political satire, sexuality and local culture. They are definitely a krewe with edge, and cover more adult-oriented subject matter. They would be perfect for the members of Task Force X from Belle Reve Penitentiary. The Suicide Squad already come with their own costumes and sharp shooters like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang can launch their throws to revelers with pinpoint accuracy. Harley Quinn already has the care free spirit needed for a good time and hopefully wet blankets, Captain Flag and Amanda Waller can get caught up in the moment and crack a smile.

Mardi Gras has been celebrated in the U.S. for hundreds of years and back in the early days, they never let a lack of electricity spoil their evening fun. Historically, flambeaux lit the way along the parade route to guide participants and help party goers see at night. Now, a handful of krewes still have flambeaux, but only for ceremonial purposes. Though born in Haiti, Brother Voodoo has called New Orleans his home. Part of his mystical powers is the ability to manipulate fire and flames. He would have no problem illuminating the night and can even provide a pyrotechnic show much better than twirling torches.

Any good party requires great tunes to groove to. There’s no lack of music during parades, either blasted on float speakers or from high school and college marching bands. They are all nice, but some of the biggest draws are brass bands. There are so many in a city centered around music like Soul Rebels, Hot 8, the Pinettes and the Grammy winning Rebirth Brass Band. All of them play a good mix of their original songs and popular hits. Shadowman might protect our world from evils beyond our realm, but his alter ego, Jack Boniface, is a skilled saxophonist. He could easily lead his own brass band playing Mardi Gras anthem, Do Watcha Wanna, along the route.

As the days approach Mardi Gras, the parades become longer and longer. They can be all day affairs and continue into the night. People can spend so much time away from home that it’s important to keep a full stomach, especially since many also imbibe adult beverages at the same time. When planning, it’s not uncommon to party hop around so food is readily available. Some even stake a claim right on the parade route setting up tents and grills to last the day. Everyone’s favorite Cajun X-man, Gambit is as adept with charging objects with kinetic energy as he is in the kitchen. He can whip up favorites like gumbo and crawfish étouffée and maybe bake a traditional king cake. Given the time of the parades, he can even make an entire cochon de lait.

For a large majority of Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, the krewes have been male-dominated. It wasn’t until 1941 when the first all-female krewe, Venus, participated in parades. Today there is the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale, Mystic Krewe of Nyx, and the Krewe of Muses. Each has their own signature throw that are highly sought, including a designer lady compact, hand decorated purse, and fabulously glittered shoes respectively. Monica Rambeau will have a higher profile making her cinematic debut in the upcoming Captain Marvel film. The superhero who has also carried that name used to work as a lieutenant in the harbor patrol in the Crescent City. Her strong leadership and organizational skills she obtained while with the Avengers would make her a valuable asset to any of these krewes, but her energy powers might make her better suited for a night parade like Nyx and Muses.

 Contrary to popular beliefs, Mardi Gras is a very family-oriented event. Some of the people who walk away with the biggest hauls aren’t college coeds who flash every float, but children. Kids receive all the good stuff from stuffed animals to signature throws. It’s a good time for bonding and it’s not uncommon to see three even four generations all participating in the merriment. Regardless of what baggage a family brings with them, say the drama of running a sketchy organ farm with seeds from an unknown origin, Carnival can serve as a respite from it all and allow everyone to enjoy. Even an estrangement as strong as that between Jedidiah and Ezekiel Jenkins, from Farmhand, can at least temporarily improve.

Finally, for an event that is centered around excess, a fair amount of waste is generated. Since being green is becoming more practiced, there have been serious efforts to curb the amount of garbage. Some krewes are implementing more biodegradable throws and there is currently development to produce biodegradable beads. In addition, there are efforts by local groups to make recycling more convenient on the parade route for beads, plastic, aluminum and paper. It would be fitting for the defender of the Green, Swamp Thing, to keep an eye on all the partygoers so that they are responsible with their litter and practice ecofriendly habits. His threatening presence alone should scare people into doing the right thing. With everyone acting their part, we can ensure the celebration of many more Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is so much more than Bourbon Street videos of girls going wild. It’s a time of good music, food and company. I recommend everyone should go and experience it at least once. Though it can be overwhelming it shouldn’t be intimidating. After all everyone is there for a good time. Now that it’s here, you better starting thinking about what you’re give up for Lent.

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