Great Superheroes Of Yesteryear

I am sure we are all thoroughly acquainted with classic superheroes who have been lucky enough to go the distance, starting their careers in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties (what comic book nerds call “The Golden Age” and everyone else calls the Thirties, Forties and Fifties,) or the Sixties and Seventies (what everyone now calls “The Silver Age,” mostly to avoid upsetting the nerds ) and making it all the way into the 21st century with both their popularity and their youthful good looks inexplicably intact. You know the ones – Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Wolverine, Howard The Duck, Streaky The Supercat, and other costumed characters that have become an enduring and indispensable part of popular culture. But what of those other wacky-costumed do-gooders who were out there battling evil back in the old days? What of those heroes whose exploits have been consigned to oblivion, whose glory has long turned to dust, whose great deeds are not celebrated in any current comic book series, video games, Saturday morning cartoons or even on the back of your kid brother’s cereal box? These great figures deserve far more kudos than they receive, so I have decided to take a gander at some of the forgotten luminaries of the genre, thereby finally bestowing upon these outstanding has-beens the respect that has long been denied them.



bouncing boy bouncing
Bouncing Boy

For once, when the doctors told a couple that they had just become the proud parents of a brand new, bouncing baby boy they weren’t too far off. Thanks to a copious amount of excess body fat, Bouncing Boy, a.k.a Chuck Taine, a.k.a The Dude With The Donuts, has the uncanny ability to… er… bounce all over the place…

Bouncing Boy wasn’t always the wondrous tub of lard that comic book fans worldwide have come to know and love, though he did always have a seriously bad case of sweet tooth. This, in fact, is how he obtained his massive girth and the spectacular powers that come with it. One day, the greedy young fellow was exploring one of the labs at MIT, where his dad worked as a picture frame adjuster, when he came across a box of sugar-encrusted donuts which he proceeded to devour with alarming alacrity, alarming alacrity being, in those days, a popular drink often served with donuts. What young Chuck could not have known was that the donuts had been rendered radioactive by their presence at the Operation Greenhouse nuclear tests in 1951 and had just been delivered to MIT so that Noam Chomsky could interview them for his then-latest book on how the U.S is screwing everything up. Immediately after stuffing the whistle-blowing donuts into his face, young Chuck suddenly tripled in size and found that he now had the ability to bounce all over the place like some manic, morbidly obese beach ball.

Guilt ridden at having eaten several of Chomsky’s sources, Chuck acquired a colorful costume at “Fat Superheroes R Us,” assumed the identity of Bouncing Boy and joined the Legion of Superheroes in order to battle evil in all its guises. Though his battle repertoire was somewhat limited, consisting, as it did, mostly of repeatedly bouncing up and down on a villain’s head, Chuck had a pretty successful career as a crime fighter and was once even voted “Most Annoying Fat Bastard” by the International Association of Evil-Doing Dudes. Chuck’s most impressive career moment came during a battle with the Fatal Five when, all by himself, he took down the Emerald Empress by bouncing all around her, forcing her to spin so fast in an attempt to catch him that she drilled herself into the ground and passed out from a dizziness-induced concussion. After almost two decades of moderately impressive super-heroing, Chuck was told by doctors that all that bouncing was jarring his brain and putting him at risk of ending up with an intellect roughly resembling that of a reality TV star. Being no fool, Chuck retired and opened a soccer coaching academy, figuring that he would be able to save a great deal of money by serving as both coach and ball.



matter eater lad eating matterMatter Eater Lad

Endowed with an appetite even more rapacious than that of Bouncing Boy, but also possessing an absurdly fast metabolism that helped him to avoid a similarly freakish rotundness, was one Tenzil Kem, a.k.a Forsythe Pendleton Jones The Third a.k.a Matter Eater Lad.

Tenzil’s primary, and pretty much only, super-power, is being able to eat anything that he finds lying around – rocks, metal objects, furniture, nothing can withstand the might of his pearly whites. And how did our man end up with such amazing abilities? Well, this time round, not wanting to go to the trouble of coming up with a convoluted and improbable origin story, the writers simply made him a native of the planet Bismoll, where everyone can – and does – eat everything. Given that indigestion is almost certainly rampant amongst its inhabitants, one could very well have expected that the planet would instead have been named Pepto Bismoll…

Since cannibalism is pretty frowned upon in the superhero community, Matter Eater Lad was largely useless in a fight, and for the most part had to limit himself to standing on the sidelines and occasionally jumping up and down while shouting out encouraging lines such as “Yay, team!” and “Punch him in the nards!” M.E.L does, however, distinguish himself in the 1954 alternate reality limited series “Matter Eater Lad Eats New Jersey,” in which he saves Batman from being drowned in a huge vat of lobster bisque by eating not only the bisque, but also the vat and most of Batman’s cape. Unfortunately, the bisque had been laced with a variant of Joker venom that causes not only giggling insanity but also incurable mendaciousness and as a result M.E.L ate not only New Jersey but also part of Philadelphia and then stood around smirking and telling reporters “Don’t look at me! I didn’t do it!” As a result of this gluttony-fueled scandal and his newfound talents, M.E.L retired from the superheroeing game and became a state senator.



blue beetleThe Blue Beetle

Starting his superhero career as The Pink Ladybug, Dan Garrett soon found that being laughed at by supervillains was not only deeply discouraging but also made it hard to get dates, so he rather quickly changed his nom de guerre to the far more macho and intimidating Blue Beetle. Dan wore a bullet proof costume made of cellulose and cow spit and got his super strength from taking a thing called vitamin 2X, which was a rather dubious concoction cooked up for him by the neighborhood drug dealer, a mysterious figure known only as Dr. Franz. This association between a superhero and a dope-slinging felon made the Blue Beetle one of the more morally ambiguous characters of the Golden Age and it has often been speculated that his drug dealing friend was the inspiration for Walter White – the two men are not only scientific geniuses and drug dealers but also share an affinity for killing people with ricin, ricin being how Dr. Franz got rid of B.B’s annoying kid sister after she “accidentally” decapitated his pet iguana. Dr. Franz also provided Beetle with a variety of gadgets that allowed him to fly, see through walls, phone his parents collect without their permission, and take a dump without having to remove his pants.

Of all the luminaries so far mentioned, Beetle had the longest and most successful career, one which reached its zenith in 1957 when he saved the planet from an invasion by an alien race of lizard men every member of which looked like then-Vice President Richard Nixon. He also famously stopped Manhattan from sinking into the sea during the infamous Weight Watchers convention of 1953 by attaching helium balloons to all the attendants. For this service to the public he was given the key to the city and also a free membership to Jenny Craig, who was delighted to see the competition’s reputation besmirched. Among lesser achievements, Beetle also took down dozens of criminal gangs, won a poker game against Superman, and instituted Take Our Daughters To Work Day.

The Blue Beetle retired in 1959, after a final showdown with his archenemy The Crimson Cockroach. During this legendary battle Beetle finished off the Cockroach by drenching him in radioactive Brylcreem. Crimson Cockroach, who was under the impression that he had all the powers and abilities of a cockroach but was in fact just a weird guy in a silly costume, at first laughed at B.B’s unusual tactic but changed his mind after noticing that his face had fallen off. Having finally rid the world of his great nemesis, and having – thanks to a live tuna being dropped on his head during the apocalyptic battle – suffered a concussion that for several years left him unable to tell butter from margarine, Beetle retired from the hero business to become the popular host of TV’s “Late Night with Dan Garrett,” a variety and chat show these days mostly remembered for Richard Pryor’s first televised use of the word “boner.”



red bee croppedThe Red Bee

Similar to the Blue Beetle but less likely to end up in the Betty Ford Centre yet more likely to take part in a Pride Parade was the Red Bee, a.k.a Rick Raleigh. A precursor to the current wave of mutant superheroes, the Red Bee had only one superpower, namely the huge, retractable stinger that grew out of the base of his spine. This unusual weapon caused great pain in his opponents, who then had to run off to find some lemon juice to rub into the wound. For those times when hitting the opponent with his ass was impractical, Red Bee also carried a sort of ray gun thing. Another notable aspect of Red Bee was the fact that he had a sidekick. Batman had Robin, Captain America had Bucky, and Red Bee had a bee – an actual bee – called Michael. Michael lived in a chamber in Red Bee’s belt buckle and was deft with a rocket launcher which he frequently used to blow his surprised victims to kingdom come.

Red Bee spent a lot of time fighting Nazis, gangsters, and corrupt mailmen, and had quite a distinguished career that peaked when he successfully stopped an invasion of the surface world by the giant termites who lived somewhere below Cleveland. Unfortunately, the foiling of this invasion required various acts of violence towards numerous giant insects and this led to the involvement of both the Humane Society and PETA, and soon the Red Bee was being charged not only with beating up and ray-gun-zapping hundreds of imperialistic termites but also with animal neglect over the conditions under which he housed Michael The Bee. Michael himself was initially charged with blowing up dozens of the would-be invaders but charges were eventually dropped as he was a minor at the time of the crime. Although the authorities later dropped the charges against him, Red Bee’s feelings were severely hurt and he decided to call it a day as far as the whole hero thing went. Having once been an assistant DA in his civilian life, he opened up his own law firm and soon turned Rick Raleigh and Associates into Superior City’s most successful legal outfit. During these years, Rick’s most famous case was one in which he successfully defended movie star Doris Day against charges of fondling a rabbit in public.




infectious lassInfectious Lass

Infectious Lass, a.k.a Drura Sehpt, hails from a secret planet by the name of Somahtur, every inhabitant of which is just crawling with disease-causing bacteria and viruses and such. Ironically enough, the Somahturians themselves remain unaffected by the germs they carry, despite being able to infect everyone else with all sorts of weird diseases from their corner of the universe – rather like a whole planet full of Typhoid Marys. While everyone else on her planet had the decency to stay home lest they infect the rest of the cosmos with God-knows-what, Drura was an adherent of the motto “With great power comes great irresponsibility” so she took off to explore the universe. After making her way to earth, Drura ended up being imprisoned by the CDC after accidentally giving the head of The United Planets a bad case of Neptunian Herpes. During this incarceration she was able to attain better control over her powers and after promising to infect only the bad people she was released and proceeded to apply for membership in the Legion of Superheroes. After impressing everyone by giving Star Boy and Lightning Lad a disease that made them think they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, she was invited to join, the idea being that even the most heavy duty villain would be rendered relatively harmless if he was too busy knocking on people’s doors early in the morning. Due to the Legion’s policy of making everyone take on a lame-sounding name ending with a reference to their gender, Drura had to settle for the name Infectious Lass, though she herself was partial to Virulent Vera or Contagious Catherine. Strangely enough, when Saturn Girl suggested she adopt the soubriquet Diseased Drura she became angry and gave S.G a virus that made her unable to brush her teeth for several days.

Despite some early misgivings, the Legion had no cause to regret their choice and Infectious Lass proved to be quite an asset in battle. During the epic Legion arc “Darkseid Frightens the 30th Century” Infectious Lass saved the universe by giving Darkseid the Hermaphroditus Pox, a disease which caused him to turn into Granny Goodness. Freaked out at having turned into his own hench-wench, Darkseid had a nervous breakdown during which the Legion was able to trap him in a villain-proof rocket and send him hurtling back to Apokolips. Infectious Lass also brought down loony atheist alien Composite Man by giving him a disease that turned him into a Durlan priest. Disgusted at having become his own worst enemy, Composite Man committed suicide by inhaling next to a used car salesman.

Ironically, despite her danger filled career as a superhero, Infectious Lass met the most prosaic of demises – at the age of 28 she tragically perished after accidentally giving herself a case of Stronkonian Trichinosis, a disease which turns the sufferer into a bowl of lukewarm oatmeal.



whizzerThe Whizzer

But perhaps the greatest superhero of yesteryear was the Whizzer. Gifted with the power to urinate on anything that stood in his way, the Whizzer terrorized and grossed out super villains by using the simple modus operandi of urinating on them and then whacking them over the head while they were busy yelling things like “You sick bastard!” This head-whacking was usually carried out with a bag full of door knobs or, when he had forgotten the bag of door knobs at home, any nearby fire hydrant.

Unlike most superheroes, the Whizzer, whose secret identity was that of door knob salesman I.P Freely, was very much a self made man in that he gained his superpowers deliberately. An amateur scientist and a superhero wannabe, Freely injected himself with a formula that was supposed to give him the powers and proportional strength of a dog but instead just gave him an uncontrollable urge to urinate all over the place. Undeterred and determined to make the best of a bad situation, Freely donned a suitably yellow costume and went ahead with his plan to become the nemesis of all those who would do evil – especially the ones who hate being urinated on. Whizzer’s first great success was the defeat of one of Batman’s most dangerous foes – Clayface. During the crossover event “Batman Meets I.P Freely,” Whizzer found himself in Gotham for a door-knob salesmen’s convention. While he was looking around for a good deli, Whizzer stumbled upon Batman battling Clayface, who was at the time trying to steal a gumball machine. Seeing that Clayface had the upper hand in the battle, Whizzer leapt to the rescue by sneaking up on the villain and bashing him with the bag of knobs, thereby knocking him into a nearby basement. Whizzer then locked the basement door and whizzed through the keyhole, quickly filling the basement and turning Clayface into a large pool of yellowy-browny muck. After Batman had recovered from the grossness of it all, he recommended that Whizzer be given the keys to the city and this was done, but only after Whizzer promised not to urinate on the Mayor.

Whizzer did not limit his crime-fighting to American criminals, though, and during the Second World War he was a member of famed super group The Invaders. Whizzer was recruited into the group by the Sub-Mariner, who felt that the other members would perceive him as less of a weirdo if Whizzer was on board. Whizzer’s tenure with the Invaders was a hugely successful one during which he had the opportunity to urinate on not only Adolf Hitler and hundreds of German soldiers, but also on the Red Skull. This latter occasion led to the defeat of the infamous Nazi, who, being a man of style, was very distressed when Whizzer whizzed on his fancy leather pants. While Red Skull was distracted frantically wiping his pants with a damp cloth, Captain America choked him unconscious with a string of Knackwurst which he had brought along for the purpose. Whizzer’s time with the Invaders wasn’t all peaches and cream, though. In one incident, he accidentally put out the original Human Torch while trying to urinate on Master Man’s head. This unfortunate event was photographed by famed war reporter Joe Rosenthal and later published on the front cover of Time and shown in all the newsreels. As a result, everyone was greatly amused except for the Torch, who never forgave Whizzer and who, more than a decade later, refused to invite him to his wedding to former nemesis Carbon Dioxide Girl.

Returning to the States after V-Day, Whizzer resumed his more ordinary crime-fighting activities and was successful in taking down many criminal gangs as well as Gorilla Grodd who, after mistaking him for The Flash, had wandered into the wrong company’s books. In 1959, after almost two decades as a superhero, Whizzer decided to retire from the crime-fighting game. The impetus for this decision was the same errant aim that had gotten him in trouble with the Human Torch. This time, while attending a public function earlier that year, Whizzer accidentally urinated on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s head after mistaking the president’s toupee for his arch nemesis Hamster Man. This incident, combined with the realization that, thanks to hundreds of public urination charges, he had racked up a rap sheet longer than that of most of his opponents, led Whizzer to leave the super-heroing field and go into the bedpan manufacturing business.

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