Friday, July 31, 2015


The Blackhawks, fleeing cowards of World War 2.

What's all the hoopla? Well, for the high-flying Allied aces of World War II, the Blackhawks, it was the menace of The Hoopster - the Villain with 1,000 Hoops (Blackhawk vol.1 No.135, April 1959)!

Oh yeah? How about mail fraud?
Up through the Silver Age, superhero comics always invested pretty heavily in the "Villain with 1,000 (somethings)" gimmick (one of Joseph Campbell's lesser-known works). The (somethings) varied from crook to crook, but the arsenals always ended up resembling one another for the most part. It didn't matter if it was the Villain With 1,000 Hats or the Villain With 1,000 Clocks or the Villain With 1,000 Gumballs, one of their thousand-strong weapons almost invariably included one which burst into flame and another studded with tiny but powerful vacuums, and typically one which shared the properties of a boomerang. I don't blame them, it must be pretty hard to come up with new gimmicks after the first couple of hundred of anything.

In the case of The Hoopster - a villain whose name sounds like a Midwestern insurance salesman's college nickname - the gimmick was hoops! You know, for kids!

The source of the troublesome hoops is Hoopla, a performing master of hoops whose gear is swiped while he's busy performing at a charity benefit show. These include such varied hoops as two large ones he can walk on, two more he spins around his arms, and also a giant-size one he can ride inside and which is also on fire. There's a pretty big gulf between the types of hoops used in the show, is what I learned here.

Try saying "Trick Hoops" three times fast.
The Blackhawks happen to also be performing in the show. Probably they shoot Nazi paratroopers for the audience's entertainment, but that's only a guess. Distracted by Hoopla's straits, the team ends up pursuing the canny crook who's made off with all of those wagon wheels.

Using Hoopla's gimmicks as well as his dire lack of imagination in naming himself, The Hoopster uses a dazzling array of trick hoops for his daring crimes: a parachute-hoop, a smokescreen hoop, a radio-guided hoop laden with gem-attracting vacuum jets (told ya!), something like four hundred hoops which just tangle people up and I wonder if they're counted as one or several hundred hoops out of the one-thousand, and a giant water-wheel hoop. Hoopster uses the latter to escape the Blackhawks across a swampy marsh, and the Blackhawks have no way of following him EXCEPT PLANES but they don't, for no good reason.

When they DO break out the planes, it's to pepper the Hoopster's Ford pickup getaway truck with machine-gun fire. If they were just going to shoot him, they probably could've done it when he was escaping via the water-wheel hoop, because that thing couldn't have been doing more than twelve miles an hour in a straight line.

Anyway, it's revealed at the end that The Hoopster is actually Hoopla, the guy who owns an arsenal of trick hoops - what a twist! Turns out his fabricated the theft of his hoops so as to draw suspicion away from himself when he used hoops to steal things. A brilliant scheme, although the only thing it truly yielded was making the word "hoop" just look like a nonsense syllable. Hoop hoop hoop. Hoop hoop hoop. Hoop.

No comments:

Popular Posts