Friday, June 19, 2015

FORGOTTEN FOES : JUMPIN’ JACK AND THE GASSER

"Quack"

From the name alone, you can make the educated guess that Jack Kirby, King of Comics, listened to the Rolling Stones. Still, the two-man team which terrorized the eponymous avenue in First Issue Special vol.1 No.6’s Dingbats of Danger Street (September 1975) were never depicted drowned, washed-up, nor left for dead, never mind raised by a toothless, bearded hag.

What they did do was kidnap some folks, steal an important microfiche, and lend a little super-villainous color to what appeared to be another likably daffy and eccentric team of rough-and-tumble street kids in much the oeuvre of other Kirby (co-)created teams like the Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos.

Unlike those other heroes of Kirby’s often-ignored and underrated boys’ own tales, the Dingbats were a group united solely by location – they didn’t particularly seem to get along, but they disliked everyone else even more. So while the team experienced internal discord, they proved to be at least an effective stumbling block in the path of the pair of criminals who descended on their neighborhood.

Predictably, Jumpin’ Jack – decked out in a scarlet suit and bearing a notably Stan Lee-esque mustache – possessed the power of super-jumping. It didn’t keep him out of the seemingly abusive custody of ace policeman Lieutenant Mullins, however. After tripping over the Dingbats, Jack found himself tied to a chair in police headquarters downtown, so I’m almost glad he managed to escape quickly. You know, for his sake.

Meanwhile, the Gasser – decked out in an impressive armored breather array and something resembling a Tyvek “clean suit” – gets a full-fledged introduction by way of the King’s weirdly harmonious but slightly addling copy:

“Crime has many faces!! But there’s little doubt that this one is a winner in the “fright-stakes”! Beneath that ugly mask is a kidnapper and killer --- in short, he’s the type who puts the “danger” in Danger Street! Although the mystery deepens, it takes courage to turn him down! He’s got a gun and he means business! --- Meet The Gasser”

The confrontation between an escaping jack, his partner the Gasser, and the entire police department – complete with snipers – ends up with a chase through the city and a final confrontation on a burning pier. Now, while the Dingbats themselves didn’t carry on in the pages of DC Comics, it’s worth mentioning that both of the crooks only ever ended up arrested. Apparently if their parent company were ever interested in taking home the gold in the “Fright-Stakes,” they’ve still got the Gasser and Jumpin’ Jack hanging around somewhere in a flophouse on Danger Street…

Super-Archie Bunker


5 comments:

neofishboy said...

Speaking of Tyvek “clean suits” (and you totally were) ...

One of my dorm-mates in college had previously worked for a company that had restricted areas you could only enter while wearing one of those hooded Tyvek numbers, which the employees called "bunny suits". He managed to lift a sign that read "No One Allowed Beyond Yellow Line Without Bunny Suit", which we proudly hung by the front door. Yes, we put a strip of yellow tape on the floor.

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

Sure does seem like Kirby must have listened to the Stones---at least once. A guy I used to know insisted, without the barest hint of irony, that Kirby MUST have been a gigantic fan of Jimi Hendrix; that nobody could possibly draw the stuff Jack did without listening to heaving gutfuls of Hendrix on a regular basis. I can't defend his logic, but it's a wonderful thing to imagine.

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

Sure does seem like Kirby must have listened to the Stones---at least once. A guy I used to know insisted, without the barest hint of irony, that Kirby MUST have been a gigantic fan of Jimi Hendrix; that nobody could possibly draw the stuff Jack did without listening to heaving gutfuls of Hendrix on a regular basis. I can't defend his logic, but it's a wonderful thing to imagine.

Will Day said...

"Jumping Jacks" was (still?) a standard gym excercise...maybe JK was thinking of Victorian London's mysterious "Spring -Heeled Jack".

Will Day said...

"Jumping Jacks" was a standard gym excercise. Or maybe The King was thinking of Victorian London's "Spring-Heeled Jack".

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