Ghost Rider #16

Standard

tsg

I fucking love Jaws. Enough so that I open up this column using a cuss when describing one of my favorite movie franchises. So, when I stumbled upon this issue of Ghost Rider #16 and saw the tease on the cover, I had to check it out. As I write this we are smack dab in the middle of the summer and what goes better with beaches and barbeques than our fear of man eating sharks.  Thanks to novelist Peter Benchley and director Steven Spielberg, Jaws has become a tradition that terrifies and thrills fans all over the world. We’re all residents of Amity Island every July and Captain Quint is one of the most bad ass characters ever captured on celluloid.

Even if you put my affection for the flicks aside and just take this cover at face value,  how the hell does someone with a flaming skull and a motorcycle fight underwater? That in itself makes it goofy enough to garner my attention. Written by Bill Mantlo with art by George Tuska, let’s see if its safe to swim with this story titled “Blood in the Water” from February 1976.

gr

lineJohnny Blaze is fed up with Los Angeles. He has decided to hit the road and head for Mexico. Seems like a popular destination for the superhero set. Upon reaching the border, we discover our neighbors to the south are really only concerned with one thing. Dirty Hippies. That’s right, take your patchouli smelling ass and Grateful Dead records somewhere else pal. What do the customs agents like? Money. Johnny flashes some greenbacks and off to Baja we go.

PicMonkey Collage

“They may hate greasy gringo’s but are suckers for Cherry Garcia

Cruising down the coast, he pines for a simple life and spots a cozy little pad on the shoreline. Looks like quite the tranquil little piece of real estate. Except for a dude hellbent on shooting dolphins from his back porch. While this nutbag tries popping a cap in Flipper’s ass, his daughter intervenes grabbing at his weapon. The stray bullet nails one of the tires on Johnny’s skull cycle, sending him tumbling to the sand. I know every time I fall, my first instinct is to yell “Yahoo” rather than “Wipeout” but different strokes for different folks I suppose.

gr5

“Watch the property value plummet before your eyes.”

Johnny is pissed off over taking a digger on the beach and confronts Mr. Jerkpants with the jazzy jaw. Despite being the type of guy who thinks it’s cool to pound on his offspring, he feels guilty about wrecking Johnny’s ride. He offers his shed  for repairs but Blaze is all about the booty and would rather chill in a dune with the man’s daughter.

gr8.1

“Say baby, does your dad shoot at all the hunks possessed by demons or just me?”

Rather than get frisky, she feels the need to give her dad’s origin. You see, Frank Phillips is the Punisher of the Pacific. Frank was hired by the C.I.A. to strap bombs on dolphins and experiment with using them as living torpedoes. Crazy as it sounds, militarizing mammals isn’t just the stuff of comic book fiction.  Obsessed with his work, one day he takes his family out to sea with him. His kid falls in the water and a tragic backstory is born.

gr11.1

“Former Miami Dolphins season ticket holder could stand the losing NO MORE…”

No sooner than we get up to speed on why Frank is stark raving mad, he’s at it again.  This guy is on a mission to eliminate all of dolphin-kind. I’m fond of the next panel, not because I dig murdering harmless animals but rather how dramatic the poor little buggers are as they take hot lead. Seriously, eat your heart out DiCaprio. These dudes deserved an Oscar way before your token victory for The Revenant.

gr12.1

“We would like to thank the Academy and  Mr.Limpett for paving the way.”

You read that narration box correctly, Frank uses a tape recording to lure them in. Had he played his cards right, there are much more beneficial ways to control ocean life with that technology. Just sayin’…

namor

“Hey Namorita, I have a mix tape for you!”

Johnny isn’t pleased all this commotion just put the kibosh on his beach blanket bingo with blondie. So what to do? Take the Skull Cycle, despite a flat tire and ride that sucker right at Frank’s boat. Here’s where his plan gets really special. Hurl your leather clad frame on deck cannon ball style. Pretty slick. I believe he may have created the greatest take down of a gunman in Marvel history.

gr13.1

“As far as dramatic entrances go, ass first is pretty impressive.”

They duke it out as the boat drifts to sea but while the fists fly a rouge wave capsizes the vessel. A flaming skull did little to freak out Frank but he’s amazed that those  finned foes that once felt his wrath are actually pretty friendly. No time for a tickle fest though as we are about to have our main event. That’s right, cue the dah dum’s and close the beaches. Ghosty has noticed a great white forgot his brown bagged lunch at home and needs a snack to hold him over. gr15.1

 “It must suck having no eyelids when swimming in the ocean. SALTY!”

Ghost Rider and Captain Quint actually have some things in common. Sure, they’re both some seriously macho dudes but when it comes to decision making, not so bright. For those who remember the first Jaws film, Quint let his emotions take control and ( 42 year old Spoiler alert ) ends up as shredded wheat. Ghosty’s first inclination is to shoot flames at the shark… underwater. While I commended the insane barrel roll to get on the ship, boiling the shark wouldn’t be my first choice. Serious loss of kudos points there.

PicMonkey Collage.png

“The look of a man determined to kill a shark or massive cocaine habit? You decide.”

His lone option exhausted, not only has my question been answered on Ghost Rider’s usefulness in water (NONE!) but now I’m not sure about the dolphins anymore. This whole issue I’ve been led to believe they are the victims. Sympathetic to the fact they had been led to slaughter while listening to smooth jams. To that, I now say nay. They are vicious little bastards! Swimming to Ghosty’s aid by ramming themselves into the belly of the beast. I realize they are saving Ghost Riders chaps but man, maybe Frank has been right all along. There is some evil up in those blowholes.

gr17.1

“Aww, he just wanted a S’more. Do you know how hard those are to come by down there?”

That’s pretty much it. The dolphins do all the damage and save the day. A little lackluster in the man v.s. shark department but we got something even better. Frank has realized the error of his ways. The whole time the true enemy came from within. We close on a tender moment, where he apologizes to an entire species. Alright, tender was a poor choice…cheesy, that’s better. We close on a cheesy moment where a crazy old man shouts at a wave. I’m not sure if the dolphins are supposed to be there in synchronized jump or if it’s just symbolic but let’s talk about if you should check this out.

gr19.1

“Believe it or not, this is the least absurd moment in the whole book.”

You may think I’m high on seaweed but I really enjoyed this tale. The pace was excellent and the art was seriously outstanding stuff. Ok, granted It didn’t live up to the hype promised on the cover but not being a Ghost Rider fan, I’m already more interested in his exploits from the 70’s.

You may be asking “Dave, didn’t you just claim the ending was a little dopey”? That I did but I also commonly say, remember the era it was released. You won’t get The Watchmen back in 1976, so enjoy things for what they are. In this case done fairly well.

If you see this one out there in the bins, snag it.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. Unsolicited tip #852 for all the kiddo’s out there, skip high priced variants and go buy some bronze age stuff instead. You’ll thank me later…

By the way, I wouldn’t be much of a Jaws fan If I didn’t leave you with this:

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites  are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two in One #96

Standard

tsg

 

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for Marvel’s hero made of rock? I’m talking of course about the Thing. Since 1961, Ben Grimm has been one of the cornerstones at the House of Ideas as a member of the Fantastic Four. Personally, in my younger years I was enthralled with him. Throw downs with the heaviest hitters were always a big draw. Any issue trading punches with the Hulk were an absolute event.

Marvel recognized his popularity and gave him a team up book in 1974. Thanks to the Two in One series, I get to wax nostalgic here on Two Staple Gold and it’s Clobbering Time… all the time.

Here’s the best part though, If your like me you may have lost track of the “Ever Lovin’ Blue Eyed” Thing over the years. No biggie. He’s like a friend that remained unchanged and will always be there for you. Revisiting his adventures is always a comforting experience. Or so I liked to believe.

Time to take our meds and see if this ish makes us sick or cures our blues. I present Marvel Two in One #96 “Visiting Hours” cover dated February 1983. Written by Tom DeFalco and penciled by Ron Wilson.

m2in196

lineHere’s a tough pill to swallow, the Thing got his ass whooped. Boxing with the Champion is generally a bad idea and he’s landed in the local Hospital. Reed Richards has decided that is the best place for him citing the Baxter Building’s lack of “medical facilities to asses the true extent of his injuries”. This is the first of many odd decisions to fit the narrative, considering Mr.Fantastic discovered the Negative Zone but can’t handle some boo boo’s. Even worse, Reed acknowledges Ben is a sitting duck if his enemies decided to strike. Most intelligent man on earth my ass, more like world’s biggest dick.

m2in1963.1

“Well, you could have tried other options Nurse but Yancy Street is one way only.”

Like Richards, the Mad Thinker  is a prognosticator. The classic FF foe seems to believe he has Orange Hides obituary ready for print. He has no intention of doing it himself but who can blame him? I would never leave my lair with a lousy haircut like that. It’s cool though, as we are about to find out the rest of the Marvel Universe will pick up his slack.

PicMonkey Collage.png

“Villainy 101: Get pissed and throw shit.”

Spider-Man is on his way to visit his pal Benjy when he encounters the first nefarious nasty to crawl out of the woodwork…MECHO-MARAUDER! Never heard of him? Then your life is short on finger blasts. The dude is a straight up joke and Spidey makes quick work of him. It’s worth noting this battle is the start of instances with sexual innuendo that litter this issue. I’m sure if I asked Tom DeFalco if my suspicions of sneaking in some naughty dialogue were on purpose, he would probably punch me in the face. I wouldn’t fault the guy though, who didn’t get a little randy watching Valerie Bertinelli on One Day at a Time back in the 80’s? Sexy sweaters Tom! Who can resist?

PicMonkey Collage

“Didn’t Aunt May warn you about palm tapping? You could go blind Pete!”

I’m going to skip over a few guest appearances during my summary. There’s just way too many. One that can’t be ignored is the debut of Nurse Hasslebutt. Aptly named and tough as nails, she takes no gump. The Web Slinger and Mr.Fantastic are no match for her mouth while she kicks everyone out of the Thing’s room despite their pleas to stay. Hard to find characters in comics that command such consternation. I imagine her origin includes a bite from a radioactive Amanda Waller.

m2in1968.1

“She’s gotta be Hydra…or hungry.”

Crash… Boom…Bang! Loud noises are another foil to this script. Everyone needs to make a grand entrance and how better to do that than smashing through a concrete wall. That’s all fine and dandy, problem is the Thing never notices. Actually, NONE of the Hospital staff notices. Time for a full scale evacuation maybe? Seriously, check out Mole Man here just rolling up in an underground death tank. Is this a Healthcare facility or a drug den where everyone is so doped up on morphine they pay no attention subterranean slime balls?

m2in19611.1

“I’m not having my blood work done here, those needles are outrageous!”

Why let the men have all the fun? The Grapplers, a team of female wrestlers led by the miserably monikered Poundcakes, have a bone to pick with the Thing. Unlike some of the other interlopers, they can’t manage to break in thanks to Captain America standing watch. This battle is boring as all get out but I really just needed an excuse to include this panel in the article. “Dirty DeFalco” strikes again or should I seek professional help?

m2in19615.1

“Last time I answered to Poundcakes was back in Prison sweetheart”

What of Marvel’s malevolent dictator Dr.Doom? He’s aware of his  adversaries recent ailments courtesy of the Daily Bugle. That’s quite a haul, New York to Latveria, hope he tips the paper boy. Surely, he of all people would love to take advantage of this situation. Nah, he’d rather go flirt with an oil can or something.

m2in19619.1

“Villainy 102: Stay pissed and continue to throw shit. Congrats, you graduated”

Back to those so called “Jackals”. Looks like they brought Secret Wars to the streets. There is one criminal who has a more sensible plan. The Sandman is one sneaky dude. Slithering through the shafts, he has found success where all others have failed and enters our preferred patients room. What’s he going to do? Smother him with a pillow, fill his cracks with granules of gloom until he snaps? Heck no! Sandy has shown up to pound some brews and smoke some stogies. You see, unlike the other barbarians at the gate, Sandman doesn’t have a grudge but rather gratitude towards the Thing for turning his life around.

 

PicMonkey Collage.png

 

“You guys go ahead and duke it out, I’ll be dry humping a vent”

That’s how this comes to a close. Sandy and Ben enjoying some cigars while chaos reigns in the parking lot. I hate being the person to bring this up but If the bad guys really wanted to send Ben Grimm to the graveyard, they should have reached across company lines and hired the Joker to do the job. Experience matters.

 

“Somebody get Nurse Hasslebutt a Snickers!”

The Verdict? The Doctor is out. Overall, It’s ok. The humor is alright but far from Bwah Ha Ha funny. The art is decent enough for the time period. If your not a completist there really is no reason to seek this out. To be fair, if you can find it in a dollar bin, there are worse ways to spend a buck. Consider this baby Rated Meh.

 

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. The last caption was the 250,000th time a Snickers gag was used on the internet. Balloons fell from my ceiling as I wrote it. Yay me.

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites  are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

The Savage Sub Mariner #72

Standard

tsg

 

nmr

“Just use that cinnamon bun you call a fist to call somebody who cares”

So here’s the scoop, I’m a massive Swamp Thing fan. For my money, all other monsters pale in comparison. Anytime a cruddy creature pops up in a comic with “Thing” as part of it’s moniker it piques my interest. As far as the titular character, other than John Byrne’s take in the early 90’s, Namor has never made waves for me. But the moment I saw the cover for this one, It became a must read. This is also the last issue of the series so I had a feeling the ankle wings were free to fly and some wackiness may be in store.

Before we get started on the story, here are the fine folks who fished this out of their imaginations.

Out of college, writer Steve Skeates started his career as Stan Lee’s assistant performing proof reading duties. It was quickly discovered that editing wasn’t his forte and he began writing for Marvel and every publisher in the industry. Working in multiple genres, he’s had notable runs on Aquaman, Plastic Man and is the co-creator of Hawk and Dove.

Artist Dan Adkins worked primarily in advertising prior to comics. In the 60’s he joined the Wally Wood studio and later landed inking and penciling jobs for a slew of companies. In the 2000’s he illustrated products for Parker Brothers.

Without further ado, it’s time to slap on your bikini and take a dip into The Savage Sub Mariner #72 “From the Void It Came”! Cover dated September 1974.

line

We surface dwellers are a bunch of a-holes. It’s true, just ask Namor. He’s swimming through our rubbish and hating on humans. It’s like a PSA reminding people that carelessly throwing a sneaker away really ruins one’s day. Well, in all fairness Namor is already pissed about the annihilation of Atlantis that occurred in a previous issue so a spare tire is just the skin on poo poo pudding.

nmr1

“Hey, quit bitching and pick that crap up!”

Let’s travel back in time. Two years according to the writer. As we will come to find out, he likes adding arbitrary details into the plot. An alien life form that looks like space snot floats into a satellite. In the next panel a mysterious hand discovers a destruct button he seemed to misplace. It’s clearly labeled but I suppose working around doohickeys takes it’s toll and the boom key starts to resemble the on switch for the television. The satellite explodes and the galactic goo goes for a ride.

nmr3.1

“The brochure says Cacophonous Caverns is quite the vacation destinat…KABLOOIE”

The debris plummets into the ocean. Settling at the bottom of the sea the booger from beyond admires the aquatic life and decides to form a body. It takes the entirety of those aforementioned two years but it’s successful in creating a humanoid form. This got me thinking. As far as we know it’s never seen a person but has a hard on for fish. So why would it have our characteristics? I would’ve paid to been part of the design meeting. For the headset alone. Yes, this thing decided to use some wreckage as a fashion statement and it’s friggin’ glorious. It’s actually referred to as a “wild party hat”. That’s my kind of shindig! Check it out:

PicMonkey Collage

“RISE and enjoy he splendors of AM/FM radio!”

Cut back to our sulking Sub Mariner pondering his disdain for humans on a dock. There, he’s spotted by two dudes, one of whom happens to hate hybrid species and doesn’t want any “fish men” hanging around. Our next PSA is about prejudice brought to you by Adolph Hitler. No joke. This is a final issue so I understand the impulse to say “fuck it” but quoting the most despised despot from the 20th century is more than a little odd. Anywhoos, the main goon named Bruce goes all Chuck Norris and sucker kicks Subby. Apparently this guy also can’t stand buttons.

nmr7

“Pop collar kick! Heeyaa!!”

 I’m going to refer to the mysterious membrane as Slime Thing now as touted on the cover considering he’s rocking extremities and I’ve run out of funny phlegm references. Slimey has been watching the hostilities from the water like a creepy ex in your bushes waiting to witness tubby time. His first impression of our species won’t be favorable as Namor socks Bruce in the kisser, killing him. Bruce’s boy toy by the bay proceeds to tackle the Sub Mariner causing everyone to fall into the sea. Subby comes face to face with Slime Thing and the pal in polyester swims after Bruce’s lifeless body.

nmr11

“The Sub Mariner has a psychiatrist for a narrator”

When encountering a monster in the murky depths your first instinct is to punch the hell out of it right? That’s all fine and dandy for some superhero sluggery but I would be inclined to warn him that electronics and H2O are a bad combo. Sure it looks rad to have all that gear on your dome but toasters would make horrible galoshes y’know.

nmr12.1“Well, there goes the neighborhood…er…reef”

 Namor isn’t the advice giving kinda guy like yours truly so they proceed to pound the ever livin’ porpoise out of each other. We do get a nifty little tidbit during the throw down though. Did you know 62% of explosions in fictional orbits are caused by shrouded figures in the Motor City? Me neither, considering I just pulled that stat out of my ass. For no reason whatsoever we are told that was the detonators location. So be weary of the digits in Detroit, they are capable of dastardly deeds!

nmr13.1

“Meanwhile, a hand in Vancouver picks lint from a navel”

Slime Thing emanates flashes from his eyes that blind Namor, yet he continues to fight. This show of will and determination is shocking to his gunky opponent who basically decides “Screw this, I’m out!”. So while Namor has him in an awkward hug, he blows his own head off. Pop goes the weasel baby, ditching one of my favorite looks in the history of comics. Fear not, he didn’t commit suicide but rather reverted to his original form and made course for wherever he originally came from. While traveling through the sky, it proves to be loving ooze, using it’s power again, resurrecting Bruce from the dead. More Like a kid who got his tonsils out compared to someone who just received a new lease on life, Bruce thinks reading a wrestling magazine is the best way to celebrate. Way to go Duchey McDingle.

nmr15

“The most unintentionally erotic page of 1974”

Namor is all bent out of shape now he’s been robbed of his vision and realizes if only he tried to understand the creature​ instead of treating it like a soggy pinata he would still be able to wax his own eyebrows. Possibly feeling guilty, the alien flashes again as it passes through our solar system and restores the sight he had stolen. Lesson learned just in time for the end of the run.

I loved this book. Seriously. I will buy every copy I come across in the wild. Is the story THAT good? Nope. The art is pretty iffy and if it wasn’t for the inks by the legendary Vince Colletta, this may have been a tough read.  It’s just so zany, I can’t help but dig the crap out of it. I also have a radical idea.

Marvel should totally bring Slime Thing back. I firmly believe the concept and character is more interesting than Man-Thing. Yeah, I said it. Manny is so damn boring, I would prefer Slime Thing with his crown of circuits any day of the week. Take your stupid elephant trunk and dull continuity elsewhere.

This was his only appearance. One and done. How nobody thought a shape shifting alien with untapped abilities and shitty fashion sense was usable all these years is beyond me. He’s been collecting dust for 43 years. Couldn’t he at least have been tossed in somewhere as cannon fodder or even a punchline? Shame really, I find him quite fun. If anyone at the House of Ideas reads this, call me. I have some great ideas for my new BFF.

To my fellow prowlers of the back issue bins, reel in a copy of this for your collections. If for nothing else than the awesome cover that has zero to do with the actual plot of the book or if you want to get hooked on some classic Namor.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

U.S. 1 #3

Standard

tsg

A LOOK BACK AT THE WONDERS THAT ONCE OCCUPIED THE SPINNER RACKS

Comic Book companies have always been keen on publishing anything to keep up with fads and tie-ins with toy lines. Here, The House of Ideas had the best of both worlds. Marvel was mocked for this more notably than anyone back in the day due in large part to books like the one I’m about to write about, U.S.1 Issue #3.

Apparently, trucking made a pit stop in popular culture back in the 80’s. Enough so that toy manufacturer Tyco had a “U.S. 1  Electric Racing Set” to perfectly pair with a licensed comic. I must have missed the hoopla as a kid although I was hip enough with the times to rock a painters cap.

paintercap

“Sure beats tinfoil to keep the voices away and ladies at bay”

Before I get into this wreck of a comic, let me get you up to speed on America’s  fascination with asphalt. Films like Smokey and the Bandit, Coast to Coast, and Convoy among others, prompted viewers to imagine free spirited life on the open road. I mean, I get it. I couldn’t tell you how may times I’ve wanted to trade in my troubles for a Trans-Am with Dom DeLuise riding shotgun. But, I suppose, like any far fetched fantasy it’s more than what it’s cracked up to be. Hell, it lead Robert Blake, star of  the aforementioned Coast to Coast, to the sauce….and ahem, murder.

U.S.1 has made the rounds as a property to point a finger and enjoy a good chuckle at over the years. What may surprise you is, the book lasted twelve issues. Oh yes, a story about a trucker with a cybernetic brain, “C.B.” for short, had enough gas to survive an entire year. I can’t say if it was cancelled in ’84 because trucking gave way to Karate Kid, the toy was made with lead paint or Marvel discovered it’s dignity. I’ll take my chances and blame Ralph Macchio for this one.

Karate-Kid-Larusso-movie-Macchio-a

“These are the cold eyes of a genre killer! Aww shit, he’s got sunglasses on.”

Now that I’ve examined the nations desire to hop into a flat bed with an industry associated with gnarly beards and overalls, let’s hit the road with U.S.1 #3 “Rhyme of the Ancient Highwayman”!

RCO001_1489042951

“The Waze app really porked me this time”

The cover is actually pretty cool and implies a serious adventure awaits the reader. A big rig skidding off a molten cliff in Hades! But forget that, focus on the corner box. The image of our titular character looking more like a hitch hiker that lost a contact lens is the true indicator on what to expect here.

This book was written by comic legend Al Milgrom. There’s rarely a long box out there without some form of his work in it. I can only chalk up his involvement with this as “just a gig” or blackmail inspired his decision to jump aboard.

The pencils were handled by accomplished artist Frank Springer. This guy did it all. A veteran who drew “pictures, charts…that sort of thing” for the Army in the 50’s, his career spanned decades. Working in comics, animation and newspaper strips. Like Milgrom, you can only assume the electricity bill was due, so U.S. 1 it is.

We open with our hero Ulysses S. Archer, aka U.S. of A ( go grab a flag and a cold one, I’ll wait…)  barreling through hell in his tractor trailer pursued by the heinous Highwayman. Hey, the story is like the cover after all, groovy! Nope. This only lasted for the first page as appearing out of nowhere is a woman wielding a “Hypno-Whip”. She proceeds to beat the ever living snot out of him, to the extent his brain gets exposed. No better time to introduce newcomers to what makes him so damned special, that C.B. skull. The narration box gets a little randy here and made me question if this script is safe for work.

RCO003_w_1489042951

“Louder, Harder, Throbbing…gotta get me one of those Hypno-Whips!”

This whole scenario proves to be a wet dream disguised as a nightmare. I had planned on skipping ahead in the plot but something made me take pause. How 80’s action hero is it to sleep with your headband on? It’s equally grody as throughout the issue he NEVER takes it off. Hey buddy, no shirt, no shoes, no service..wait…that headband is proof you can kill a man with your bare hands. C’mon in!

It’s also worth mentioning, if you are a first time reader of this title like I was, it’s fair to wonder who the stogie chomper is at his bedside, tossing bad Eskimo puns around. Even worse, who the heck is he calling “Wideload”? Seems dickish but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

RCO004_1489042951

“The gun show is open 24/7 baby”

Nothing cures rattled nerves better than caffeine, so U.S. decides to get a cup of coffee at a diner that also serves as his base of operations named the Short Stop. Because his problems are more important than you enjoying a breakfast omelette, he loudly recalls his origin for all the customers to hear. The Highwayman caused the crash that crushed his melon and is responsible for the disappearance of his brother Jeff, which was a given as he couldn’t be bothered to wear a bandana.

An old man in a booth decides to get his Large Marge on, piping in that he knew a tale of how the Highwayman came to be. In the early days of hauling, there was a man who could “drive long and hard with the best of ’em”. Yeah, let’s revisit that safe for work thing.

No one can escape Father Time and this wagoner had whippersnappers hot on his tracks. Unlike most people with performance issues he opted to skip Canadian mail order supplements and look for a solution within the dark arts.

RCO006_1489042951

“Dude…I don’t even wear pants”

Spurned by every creep with a candelabra, he finally finds a willing trade partner. A demon grants his request for the small asking price of his soul AND spending eternity in  servitude snagging spirits on the Interstate. Good deal dingus!

The stranger displays some giddy up by finishing his yarn and bolting out the door. U.S. stands stunned then makes chase, but finds he was pretty spry for an old guy and is long gone. Returning to his java, our hero pines to hear more and wishes aloud (thought balloons need not apply) to hear more about the Highwayman.

Hopefully someone has been oiling the hinges because the door swings open again and someone proclaims “Why not hire a private detective?”. At the entrance stands a living embodiment of a Bad News Bears bowl cut named Retread. He’s new on the scene and remember the whole Wideload thing from earlier? It’s introduction time!

Here comes some marvelous monikers! The owner of the diner is Ed “Poppa Wheelie” Wheeler, his wife is Wideload Annie and it sucks to be the waitress as her name is Mary McGrill. That must be Scottish for living off tips.

Retread explains he once worked for a P.I. firm but completely sucked at his job. This is all U.S. needs to hear and a sidekick is born. They hit the road in his based on a toy signature Semi.

RCO010_1489042951

“Whats your name sweetheart…Lot Lizard?”

Despite only meeting U.S. nine panels ago, Retread is the only character allowed private thoughts by the writer. Good thing as he’s man crushing on his new best bud. He aspires to be like U.S. and believes “this is the beginning of a long lasting friendship” Good god, I can’t wait until this guy bites it.

They quickly come upon a convoy led by a Mack in Black… The Highwayman! Put on your Yee-Haw helmets and leave caution on the curb, here comes the action. Gunfire, twisted metal and Blimps dropping bombs. That’s right, a blimp. don’t believe me? The radar scope never lies.

RCO016_1489042951

“Too bad this thing doesn’t have a logic lever”

They fake their own demise with the aid of a smokescreen. A plan is devised to sneak up on the goons who are just chilling in a canyon. Don’t ask me, I didn’t write it. While surveilling the situation, U.S. notices the man from the diner standing in the middle of the crowd. Sweet baby biscuits! Even though they are standing around like brain dead baboons, they must want to kill the old bastard for sharing the secret of the Highwayman! Who needs a private eye with those dazzling deduction skills?

Retread is given a flare gun and told to create diversion once U.S. takes the low ground. This numbskull with something flammable? Sweet, he’s finally going to blow his own ass up! Well, not quite. He does manage to play the role of clumsy cohort tumbling down the ridge but only burns his britches. Worse part is those warm wranglers also prevent him from getting whacked.

re51

“Witness the invention of FLARE-FU”

Outnumbered, U.S. pulls his “Lucky Silver Dollar” out of his pocket. This is no common currency. It serves as a remote for his 18 wheeler and sends it speeding into the brawl making everyone scatter. Here’s what bugs the ever living crap out of me. Recall that snappy C.B. cerebrum he has? WHAT DOES IT DO? The guy has every doohickey you can think of in his cab but why can’t he just use that circuit board attached to his noggin? What’s that you say? Ahh yes, it’s there for sound effects while he gets punched. Makes all the sense in the world now.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

“Let’s see what sound effect his chin makes…OOPS!”

There is a tug of war for the old man and faster than you can say ZOINKS, his wrinkled skin peels off to reveal he is the Highwayman. Surprise, surprise. U.S. is left holding some geriatric goop and the reader is promptly opening a garbage can.

RCO024_1489042951

“If the Highwayman had a headband his face wouldn’t have peeled off. Just saying.”

Back to reality. This was a banal turd. I’m not going to leave you empty handed though, that’s not the type of guy I am. Get ready for a take hotter than Retreads tighty whities.

They need to relaunch this series.

Before you pump the breaks on me here, no… I’m not hopped up on glue. This concept was so utterly ridiculous, imagine a writer like Garth Ennis in the drivers seat. He could flesh out that supporting cast and navigate it into so many wild directions. It would be balls out fun. Not your cup of nitrous? Alright here’s another one for you. How about Jason Aaron and some of his Southern Bastards grit taking a ride on the rumble strips. Admit it, that would be fucking amazing. If you’ve read comics for as many years as I have, you realize anything can work with the right creative team.

Marvel should be all over this. They love to roll out #1’s on covers. So much so, they even slapped them on just to announce the beginning of a new story arc. Now you have a title that ALWAYS has a one front and center. Makes it easier to trick the kids into believing they have a collectors item.

So while I recommend avoiding the original series like the plague, I urge you to petition Marvel for a revival. Tyco can bring it’s little toy too.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. To harass him on Twitter follow @lavahog

All U.S.1 images are rights of Marvel. All others images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. No Junk Buzzards were harmed during the writing of this column.

Special Thanks to my friend Jeromy Gordon for the editing assist and reminding me Johnny from Cobra Kai ripped off U.S.’s look. Eat shit Macchio.

5