Thursday, January 8, 2015

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : MISTER SCARLET AND PINKY


Mr.Scarlet and Pinky versus Nobody? That oughtta be a short fight.
It was about a year ago that I made mention of Nightmare and Sleepy, itinerant superheroes who populated the pages of Clue Comics and represented the polar opposite of superherodom’s traditional “bored millionaire playboy” archetype. Well, Nightmare and Sleepy are in pretty good company in the cape-and-cowl version of the line for unemployed benefits, because they’re joined by Fawcett’s crimson-clad Mister Scarlet and his boy sidekick Pinky!

Then-District Attorney Brian Butler becomes frustrated with the limitations of his office, and so dons alizarin longjohns and a yellow beach towel to become The Red-Robed Knight of Right, Mister Scarlet. Armed with a ray-gun, Mister Scarlet can also apparently fly for no real reason, except he usually doesn’t, preferring the swing everywhere instead. Maybe his power of flight was tied into something really embarrassing. Maybe he could only fly when he had a boner, I dunno. That’s as good an explanation as anyone else gave.

I think by "new equipment" he means "a belt."
Scarlet – aided by his kid sidekick Pinky, whose real name was Pinky, and while that’s a genuine fubar in the whole secret-identity department I feel it’s worth mentioning that “Pink” was an uncommon but not-unheard-of boys’ name back at the turn of the 20th century, in case you were already in mid-mock – turns out to be great at crimefighting. TOO great, as a matter of fact. Before long, Mister Scarlet has proven so effective at curtailing the crime rate that D.A. Brian Butler – caught  napping at his desk after a long night as Mr.Scarlet – is fired! Oooooh irony!

From that point on, Brian and newly-adopted Pink (he’d been orphaned by one of Scarlet’s colorful rogues gallery, Mister Hyde) hit the bricks, opening what’s essentially a detective agency with Pink and secretary Cherry Wade (You know what they say; when life gives you cherries, make Cherry Wade) and generally starving from episode to episode, scraping together occasional cash from odd jobs just to keep sandwiches on the table.

Scarlet and Pinky were effectively Fawcett’s answer to Batman and Robin, albeit on the other end of the socio-economic spectrum. One thing they did have in common, though, was an array of bizarre villains – a baker’s half-dozen of whom even formed a team dedicated to Mister Scarlet’s downfall! I suppose they could have just waited for malnutrition to take its toll.

"...in our Klan robes."
Generally overshadowed by the original Marvel Family, the anti-Axis intelligence hero Spy Smasher, and the dynamic Bulletman and Bulletgirl (not to mention Bulletdog), Mister Scarlet and Pinky still managed to squeeze themselves into Fawcett’s line-up in the pages of a multitude of anthology titles and publicity pieces. They were also sometimes overshadowed by Golden Arrow. Oh, and they never got their own title, like Ibis the Invincible had. So. Very overshadowed, I guess is what I’m saying here.

Still, the character’s proven memorable enough to warrant at least a half-dozen attempts to revive him in one format or another, from a good old-fashioned annual JLA/JSA crossover event to Power of Shazam, from Kingdom Come to Cry For Justice. Like Mister Scarlet himself, however – they infrequently get off the ground.

5 comments:

Cheryl Spoehr said...

Sigh.MR.SCARLET COULD NOT FLY,DID NOT USE A RAY GUN,BUT A REAL GUN!The misconception that he can fly starts with the highly erroneous Encyclopedia of Super Heroes.No,he never flew,but the jumping and swinging from ropes is sometimes misunderstood by those unfamiliar with golden age art as flight.If he flies,then so does Batman,Spy Smasher,Captain America,etc.As for the ray gun,that was in D.C.comics,he had a real gun,many stories give Pinky one too(bad idea,giving any kid an automatic,but especially this one.He came close to accidentally killing his mentor many times,I would never trust him with a firearm).Pinky was short for Pincus,a common name for Jewish kids back then,no idea why. Often wondered if he was Jewish,and what about Scarlet himself? Did you know that Cherry's niece occasionally joined the pair wearing a red dress,a la the later Batgirl? Never saw a hero name for her,I would call her Carmine.

Calamity Jon said...

Hey Cheryl,

I hate to correct you, but he does indeed fly unaided in his early adventures in Wow Comics. If you check out any of the first half-dozen issues, you'll notice him not only flying, but bystanders will comment as much. As for the gun/ray gun, I can only report on what it appears to be in the original comics, which is indeed ray beams rather than bullets.

As for Pincus, that's a possibility, although Pink genuinely was a boy's name (albeit uncommon) up through the beginning of the 20th century.

neofishboy said...

At first I didn't register the "And" at the top of the page and I thought it was a comic called "Mr. Scarlet" and the story was titled "Pinky fight 'Nobody'!" ... and I just stared and stared at it. I thought, okay ... pinky-fights are a thing. Does he usually pinky-fight everybody? And why is "nobody" in quotes? Then I saw the "and" and the world made sense again.

Calamity Jon said...

This is a v.good comment.

cup king said...

There are so many orphans who become super heroes. Pinky, Batman & Robin, Franklin Richards. They're everywhere.

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