Thursday, April 2, 2015


Surely these kind of puns are wasted on even the best-trained barracudas.
My eternal thanks go out to legendary creator Joe Simon, not just for having been the mastermind behind a number of my favorite superheroes (I’ll take Prez, Brother Power and The Fly as three of my Desert Island Comic Titles, thanks) but also for having the name of his deep-sea superspy Pirana take the simpler, non-English spelling. I can never spell the actual fish’s name correctly, I lean heavily on autocorrect – Pirhana? Pihrana? Pearana? I don’t care anymore, I’ll spell it with fire from this point on. Writing this article otherwise would have been a genuine bear.

Try thinking about baseball.
Pirana is secretly Ted Yates, the victim of an undersea experiment gone wrong turned suboceanic crusader for good! Appearing in the pages of Harvey’s Thrill-O-Rama – part of its Harvey Thriller line, the title of which still sounds like a slightly but not exceedingly unconventional sex act – Yates enjoyed two consecutive issues of slugging it out with sea-based weirdos like Generalissimo Brainstorm, the Human Anchor, Murderina Mermaid and Chief Ooz, who sounds like he needs to visit the doctor.

While testing an innovative transparent material which allowed landlubbers to extract oxygen directly from the water, Ted kicks the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable or something, subjecting himself to a bajillion volts of deadly electricity. He survives, but finds himself completely dependent on water to breathe. “It’s the only wayI CAN breathe now,” he explains, “by extracting the oxygen from the water as I did in the experiment!”

Ted adjusts to his new life underwater by pledging to become “strong as my pet piranha, pound for pound.” He has a pet piranha. Well, he also picks up a pair of pet barracudas, drawn to him because of their many similarities – they breathe underwater, they’re slimy and weird, they collect stamps. It’s a real soulmating.

Oh, gee, well I guess he's dead now.
Pirana’s pet barracudas are named Bara and Cuda, which is like naming your dachsunds Dach and Sund, but I don’t gotta tell you that. He also picks up a load of undersea crimefighting equipment, including jt-powered swimfins, a spear gun, mask-mounted sonar,  a personal jet (“the incredible Piranaplane”) and a swell mo-ped.

Pirana fights Generalissimo Brainstorm for the entirety of his short-lived comics career, with both characters (and the Generalissimo’s henchmen, henchmermaids and hench-homicidal dolphin) disappearing after the collapse of Thrill-O-Rama’s third issue. My guess is they all ate less than an hour before fighting and cramped up in the undertow.

1 comment:

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Pi-ran-HA. Always end on a laugh!

Seriously, those are the most adorable barracuties I've ever seen.

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