In their masterful two-issue summation of the WORLD’S WORST COMICS, James Schumeister and Rich Larson gave a particular adroit description of the books put out under the Mighty Comics banner. They said that it was as though Russian spies had smuggled out a copy of a Marvel book and had tried to reverse-engineer it. That hits the nail on the head perfectly. Mighty (which was an imprint of Archie Comics) aped the look and the surface styling of Stan Lee’s Marvel without ever understanding its heart. These books were like a Pat Boone cover of a Beatles tune. And they’re ridiculously wonderful because of it.
This is a perfect evocation of a Marvel splash page of the period, including riffs on familiar phrases that Stan had established. Speaking of Stan, aware that he had changed his name from Stan Leiber and established a certain hip persona about himself, Mighty tried to do the same with all of their contributors (It’s hard to tell if this was a legitimate attempt or simply a mean-spirited parody. Possibly it was both.) So Jerry Siegel became Jerry Ess, Paul Reinman became Paul Are, and so forth.
A few months earlier, having become aware of the growing popularity of Spider-Man, Mighty Comics had retooled it’s long-running series THE FLY (originated by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) into the Marvel knock-off FLY MAN. They expanded on the Fly’s powers as well, giving him the ability to shrink and grow that Giant-Man possessed and overtly moving to mimic the sensibilities of the Marvel brand. Given how many years Marvel publisher Martin Goodman had rode the coattails of the fads of the day by producing scads of knock-offs, this must have been seen as poetic justice.
As you can see, this story begins virtually plotlessly, with Fly Man and Fly Girl plunged immediately into battle with the amazing Phantasmon for pretty much no reason whatsoever other than that he is a villain. Fly Man and Fly Girl themselves could hardly be more wooden and lacking in individual personality.
I love this moment. Phantasmon has the power to shoot lightning bolts out of his nose! Who can argue with a villain such as that?
It seems like Phantasmon has whatever power the situation calls for, much to Fly Man’s chagrin.
I don’t know what an Alieog-Laboid is either–I’m guessing it’s an attempt to channel some Jack Kirby nomenclature. These guys are alien creatures grown in a laboratory, maybe? Ah, hell, I don’t know! But with names like Sorro, Disastro and the Crumbler, do they really need to make sense?
Another page on which our heroes lie on the ground so that we can witness the capabilities of the second banana villains.
And another one! Remember, this is a genuine attempt to duplicate the Marvel style–and it misses the point totally.
But we’er almost out of pages, so it’s time for the wrap-up. In desperation, Fly Man transmits a telepathic call to his enemy the poorly-names Iniquitous Bee Man, a card-carrying member of Monsters, Incorporated, letting Bee Man know that he and Fly Girl are helpless. And yes, Fly Man never evidenced any telepathic powers before this panel either.
And for no good reason whatsoever, the Monsters Incorporated hordes turn on Phantasmon and his Alieog-Laboids, defeating and enslaving them and thus restoring Fly Man and Fly Girl’s might! Talk about a Deus Ex Machina ending! And then, a final self-congratulatory blurb and we’re done. This is a masterpiece of awfulness. So say it with me, folks–ECHH!