Thursday, August 14, 2014


The Kid Gang has a long and storied history in comics, dating back to the days when The Boy Commandos were literally the THIRD most popular feature at National behind Superman and Batman. Still how many of these axis-smashing assemblages of grubby street urchins can claim to have not only busted crime, but picked up a giant robot along the way AND THEN JUST FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE GIANT ROBOT like, whatever, we go through giant robots like candy, we poop giant robots before breakfast, giant robots, pfffft? Not many!

Jackie Law and the Boy Rangers debuted in the pages of Hillman’s Clue Comics, and no other comic title has ever sounded so much like a made-for-the-movies band of teen rebel musicians – you can picture it if you try, the lead singer has a pompadour and someone dies by driving a cherry classic car through the guard rail into the ocean. “This one’s for Froggy!” someone yells at the triumphant reunion concert at the end of the film. You know.

Comprised of five neighborhood boys, the Rangers were :

  • Jackie, team leader, the avenging son of a father murdered by loan sharks
  • Buck, the mandatory fat kid, although they surprisingly avoided all the usual “fat kid” gimmicks like having him drool openly when shown pie 
  • Corny, some sort of hayseed who hardly ever got any lines
  • Froggy, who had New Wave hair even though it was 1942
  • Gorilla, a legitimate psychopath. He shouldn’t have been  in a comic book, he should’ve been in a home for the criminally insane

You wouldn't see stuff this gruesome on Hannibal...
When Jackie’s father is brutally murdered right in front of the kids, Jackie Law clearly snaps and makes a pledge to dedicate his life to fighting crime. We’ve seen where this usually ends up, but I guess if Bruce Wayne had only had some friends, things might’ve worked out a little differently for Batman.

As it is, the kids sew “R”s to their football uniforms and take to the streets as The Boy Rangers, literally busting through doors and beating criminals with bats and shit. No joke, they are just savagely assaulting crooks with hand-held weapons, the diminutive Gorilla more than most. When the team decides that everyone gets a rank in accordance with their age, Gorilla is enthused to be the team sole Private. “Oh boy,” he declares, visions of split skulls floating in oceans of gore rising before his eager imagination, “I’ll have to do all the fightin’! I’m the whole ranger army!” he continued, visibly erect.

Although the Boy Rangers kept their brutal ministrations to crooks, thugs, saboteurs and the occasional Natzee, and despite the fact that they seemed to do just fine trying to murder society’s outcasts with their own two hands, they nonetheless get a MAJOR upgrade in firepower when they find themselves in possession of a giant robot named “Loco”.

Although Gorilla recognizes it as a beautiful murder machine,
he already misses how it feels to kill a man with his bare hands.
Preceding Voltron and his ilk by generations, Loco is an anthropomorphic robot some several stories tall whose individual limbs are operated by pilots in each of his extremities – by pure coincidence, the giant android requires five pilots, and there happen to be five Rangers – six if you count Gorilla’s undiagnosed homicidal inclinations.

Jackie Law and his pals take Loco out for a couple of trial runs before ultimately deciding that giant robotness is just not their cup of tea – not when it’s still so satisfying to tear the ears off of errant criminals. In the scant few appearances preceding their cancellation, the Boy Rangers left Loco on the shelf (probably donated as war scrap, actually) and returned to their tried, true and two-fisted approach to justice.

As they warned in an ominous letter left for police to find over the beaten, broken bodies of his father’s murderers in their first appearance:

“This is the FIRST of our rat cleaning jobs! Let this be a warning to all criminals … you cannot escape the justice of the BOY RANGERS! We will seek you out and deal with you and one by one, big or small, when you break a LAW you will run into the anger of … Jackie Law and the Boy Rangers”


1 comment:

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Well, I can understand. Loco is one dull-lookin' robot. Boy King's Giant or Johnny Sokko's Flying Robot or Mister Atom are relative masterpieces of design. Even the robot slaves of The Phantom Empire had those spiffy robo-hats, and at least the robot of The Phantom Creeps--boy, phantom like the tech, eh?--was funny/creepy.

Hell, Timely's Electro is a suave charmer by comparison, even with Prof Zog's mug screaming from its cathode ray face-screen.

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