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Back You are here: Home Reports from Real Life Oh, The Things We've Seen! Reviews The Dodgiest Hero in Comic Books
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 04:05

The Dodgiest Hero in Comic Books Featured

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Well, it’s been a fun month for me putting these pieces together — hopefully you, the reader (if indeed there any; notice I’m subconsciously talking up singular) haven’t minded the bumpy ride.
If you get a chance to check out my new novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? you will find more than just comic books. There’s a mystery in there and much hardboiled action and dialogue, with a setting that’s partially a sci-fi dystopia.

Anyway, hats off to Thunderdome for asking me aboard, indulging all my sequential art whims. These guys seriously rock and are deserving of any support you can channel their way. Sing their praises from the rooftops, or at the very least some precarious place online.
Which brings me to the final article, and this week I get to focus attention on the hero who’s not a hero, more of a loser in a cape. There’re a few of these in Heropa but I’m going to single out one. His moniker is Rabble Rouser, otherwise known as Double-R. Other heroes’ opinions of the man run bleak.
When Rabble Rouser’s body is found dead in a bathtub, shades of Marat, the Brick notices a piece of paper stuck in his left hand. It’s wet and the ink has smudged, but they can read the four words there fairly easily: ‘I am a fraud’.

Rabble Rouser art by Loka Ashitaba

At which point the Brick shoves the note into his overcoat pocket. “He got that right,” Brick says. “There’ll be no fancy funerals here.” The reporter, Gypsie-Ann, calls him a no-hoper and suggests those four words are sufficient autobiography.
Comic books are littered with similarly lame and/or disliked characters, no-hopers who aspire to be heroes and turn out half-baked and inconsequential. Pixar picked up on this when they made The Incredibles (2004) and polished up fanboy-cum-evil-villain Buddy Pine.


One of the standouts for me inanity-wise was Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, a DC hero from the 30th century who’s able to detach his own limbs and thereby use these as blunt instruments to bludgeon foes. It’s like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except this future boy’s able to stick the body parts back on. While you’d expect something like this from DC in the 1950s, Arm-Fall-Off-Boy made his debut in 1989 thanks to Secret Origins #46.


I’m not going to let Marvel off the hook here, either.
They introduced Squirrel Girl in Marvel Super-Heroes #8 (1992), whose major power is... unleashing swarms of rabid squirrels to overwhelm unsuspecting evildoers. Having once been bitten by an overly cute squirrel in Central Park, I actually find this mojo quite terrifying. Not everybody agrees.
The bizarre part here was the involvement in her creation of comic book great Steve Ditko (Spider-Man)

Squirrel Girls rodents assail Doctor Doom

But knocking out the above is another DC denizen hailing from the 30th century. Obviously the authorities put something in the water 900 years from now.
Bouncing Boy was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes first introduced to a panting public in Action Comics #276 (May 1961).
You’ve got to wonder if manga artist/writer Eiichiro Oda took a leaf out of Bouncing Ball’s origin story when he created the far-superior Monkey D. Luffy for One Piece 36 years later.
Basically, Chuck Taine takes on his powers when he accidentally guzzles a super-plastic formula he’d assumed was a fizzy drink. As a result, while Monkey D. Luffy gets to stretch Mister Fantastic style, Taine has the very special ability to expand his body into the form of a large rubbery ball, ricocheting back and forth and... ricocheting back and forth. No wonder his peers thought him next to useless, relevant only in a round of ten-pin bowling.

Bouncing Boy

The only decent thing about the kid is his full name: Charles Foster Taine. Apparently this was in homage to Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane — and title character of the film Charles Foster Kane.
I guess that counts for more than just bouncy girth.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 04:12
Andrez Bergen

Andrez Bergen is an expat Australian writer, journalist and DJ who's been entrenched in Tokyo for the past 12 years. He published the noir/sci-fi novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (2011), slipstream tome One Hundred Years of Vicissitude in 2012, and now Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? through Perfect Edge Books - a novel that combines classic comic books, noir, pulp, fantasy and sci-fi.

Bergen has published short stories through Crime Factory, Snubnose Press, Shotgun Honey and Another Sky Press and worked on adapting the scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/andrezbergenauthor
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