CAPTAIN INERTIA (Worlds of Wonder Comics, 1952)
In the fifties, television became a national craze, and young children would flake out in front of the tube and waste hours in a passive heap. Worlds of Wonder Comics tried to capitalize on this with the introduction of Captain Inertia, the ultimate passive aggressive. Originating from the planet Gravitron, the good Captain found that the Earth’s gravity had a strange effect on him and he had the power to lie completely motionless. Vowing to use this awesome power for good, he assumed the earth name Chet Chester, and went to work for the U.S. postal service. The Captain’s specialty was disguising himself as a throw rug, or a speed bump to throw the criminal element off guard . Children across the nation would spout the Captain’s catchphrase “Nobody move!!”. In fact, Captain Inertia was popular enough to rate his own series, and issue # 1 of The Mighty Motionless Captain Inertia hit newsstands in 1959. Hollywood was watching, and Cap was given a short run of serial adventures at the movies. Captain Inertia, the Dormant Avenger was a six part series, and starred veteran stage actor Reed “Stubby” Rogers. Stubby committed suicide in the early seventies, after years of alcohol abuse. Ironically, he simply threw himself on some train tracks, and remained motionless until a train came.
The Captain, however, was losing his edge in the sixties. Gone was the gothic style of creator Buddy Kemp, as times changed so did the character. 1963 saw the introduction of Captain Inertia’s sidekick Vinnie, who has been with him ever since. Vinnie was an unemployed construction worker who would do most of the fighting and heavy lifting for the stationary superhero. There was a storyline in which Chet finally marries his girl, Lisa Linden, but the comic was banned because several panels showed Lisa complaining about what was also motionless on their honeymoon. Those comics are now worth a fortune to collectors, and are much sought after. Apart from that, the comic continued to get stale. There was a definite move toward camp with the introduction of Vinnie, and it was only in the late 80’s with Frank Miller’s stark gritty Vinnie Chronicles that both of these characters would be taken seriously again. There has been talk of a feature film, and although the production has not been greenlighted, one can still occasionally see buttons at fan conventions that say “You Will Believe A Man Can’t Move: Summer 2002”. Perhaps it is most fitting if this motion picture stays dormant, and never gets off the ground.
FENG SHUI BOY (New Age Comix, 1999)
What started as a small cult following has quickly blossomed into a full-blown slightly bigger cult following. Feng Shui Boy is the cornerstone of the burgeoning New Age Comix company, whose roster also includes the Incredible Incense-a-nator and the moody Black Chakra. The company and the character are the brain child of 26 year old wunderkind Rod McSorlen, who founded the fledgling company after consulting with his psychic advisor. Feng Shui Boy goes by the name Mortimer Harvey, a high school student who is introduced to the wonders of Feng Shui after saving the life of a Feng Shui Master by pushing him out of the way of an oncoming car . Master Fek Yu takes Mortimer under his wing, and together they defeat evil by rearranging its furniture in a more harmonious way. The primary villains are a gang called The Movers, who incite people to violence by putting their furniture in spatially harmful arrangements. The Movers work for a shadowy figure called Dr. Ikea, whose plan is to bring about the end of the world through furniture, then to rise like a phoenix through the ashes and claim the world as his own. We are never allowed to see Dr. Ikea’s face, and there has been some speculation that he is related to Fek Yu, but nothing has been proven so far. (Nicholson has expressed an interest in Dr. Ikea, should a movie come about.) McSorlen is also branching out into the toy market, and has designed a complete line of Feng Shui Boy action figures, with furniture sold seperately. McSorlen most recently made headlines by paying millions of dollars for a Frisbee that Lassie once played with, but it is for Feng Shui boy that he will be most remembered.
HERE BEFORE YOU MAN (B.C. Comics 1966)
After an accident in his lab, involving some sort of chemical that is never fully explained, Dr. Peter Van Rumple gained the ability to arrive before anyone else at any event he chose. At first he squandered his gifts on concert ticket line ups and buffet tables, but when his dog was run over by a couple of thieves making their get away, he turned to crime fighting. This was the exciting origin of Earl Shrimpbottom’s Here Before You Man, which started its run in 1966. Shrimpbottom had been fired from several jobs for arriving late, so the character was a sort of fantasy extension of the man he himself was trying to be. Here Before You Man would show up before the crime actually happened and waited around to foil it. However, his greatest nemisis was the Evil Evenearlier, who seemed to be the only one able to arrive before our hero. In the end, however Evenearlier would inevitably make a mistake, or miss a key bus, or something which would allow Here Before You Man to catch him, and the villain to cry “I’ll best you yet, you premature pest!!” HBYM partnered memorably with Captain Inertia in 1975 in a twelve issue mini series called “The Quick and the Not So Quick”, and Shrimpbottom’s character still does healthy sales. Thanks, in part, to some brilliant marketing and a story line involving HBYM’s death in “The Late Here Before You Man.” series, where the Punctual Protector of the Innocent was tricked into arriving at a target before a bullet. For awhile they were toying with several replacements, but in the end, our hero was resurrected by his own mysterious powers; so he could be the first one at his own funeral.
NOT THERE GIRL (1944, Genesis Comics)
Sid Esterhause was a struggling young artist for Genesis Comics in 1944, and he was a young man with a problem. The orders had come down from head office, they needed a hot new female superhero to compete with Wonder Woman. Trouble was, Sid was rushed through art school and could never actually get the hang of drawing women. So on a summer day in 1944 the public was introduced to Edwina Maxwell, The Mysterious Not There Girl. No one knew what she looked like, she was never where she was supposed to be, she didn’t return phone calls, and letters and telegrams were returned to sender. The criminal element heard her name bandied about so much that eventually they psyched themselves out about where she may or may not be, allowing Police Chief Darrel O’Gates to swoop in for the arrest.
The character didn’t last long but in 1997 she made a comeback. With modern technology, she couldn’t be reached by fax, e-mail or cel, which opened up exciting possibilities for the character. Generation Xers identified with her lackadaisical attitude, and Not There Girl became one of the hottest new comics around. Several comic stores have advertised her coming to sign autographs, and the fans come in droves, but of course, she never ever shows, much to the delight of her army of enthusiasts. There are several internet sites devoted to her, most of which are blind links to something that says “Page Not Found.” although some fansites like to speculate on who would be the best choice not to play her in a movie.
THE FANTASTIC F.L.U.S.H. (Heroic Comics, 1965)
The Federal League of Unknown Super Heroes burst onto the pages of Heroes Inc in 1965, and have been kicking evil’s butt ever since. Developed by Stan Leroy and Mick Dreely, this five person team, consists of Correcto, Bigfoot, Miss Terry Guest, The Human Gumwad, and Phil. Correcto is the leader, a man so meticulous about grammar, he uses it to frustrate less literate criminals, by constantly correcting them. Bigfoot has one regular size foot and one that is four feet long and two feet wide. Miss Terry Guest is a mistress of disguise, although they all inevitably end up being a trench coat, fedora and shades. The Human Gumwad sticks to the underside of desks and ambushes criminals. Phil is superhumanly nondescript. Together they battle the forces of C.R A.P : Criminals and Really Awful People. These included Dr. Alliteration, (“Damn you dumb drones for dealing with the Doctor!”) Indecision Man, (“This may or may not be your last chance…”) and Phil’s arch nemesis and doppelganger, Ed. There was a revolving door of guest villains, but invariably it was these three who gave the F.L.U.S.H. the most trouble.
The real trouble came when a controversial storyline in the 70’s made Bigfoot into a heroin junkie after he accidentally stepped on a needle during a drug bust. Apparently the trippy artwork, combined with disturbing images of Bigfoot jamming a needle between his enormous toes was enough to put the public off, and it ended the books run until well into the 80’s.
The team made a cameo appearance in a parody comic called “What The Duck?” in which famous superheroes were turned into ducks for the sake of comedy. This sparked a brief resurgence for the team, but not for long. When Roger Corman came out with his movie adaptation, it put a quick end to anymore interest in the Fantastic F.L.U.S.H. In Issue # 235 of The Brutalizer, the team was gunned down ignominiously by the titular anti-hero, and when the company held a nationwide poll to see if the characters should live or die, the results were unanimous. The F.L.U.S.H was defeated by the biggest supervillain of all…the fans.