Thursday, July 9, 2015


No relation to Marvel Comics’ greens-skinned Fantastic Four baddie, but rather a depressed and unremarkable everday human named – what else – Hugh Mann. Overshadowed and overwhelmed by everything else in the world, the buck-toothed and slightly-built man muses to himself as he wanders the city streets, hands in pockets “I’m a failure … afraid of my own shadow! I’ve never done anything worthwhile … I wish I was dead!”

Crossing a bridge, he continues to reflect on his sorry state of affairs “No girl … no job … no nothin’!” Peering over a bridge at a tugboat passing far below, he complains “There’s nobody that’d even miss me if I jump off right now!”

Well, Hugh decides not to jump, but instead decides to apply himself for the first time in his life. Does he pursue love, success, physical might, or wealth? No, he decides to build a rocketship so he can live on Mars instead. It’s that combination of desperate self-loathing combined with running away from your problems that really makes this country great.

Anyway, this is how he died.
Launching successfully, the trip quickly goes awry and Hugh finds himself not on Mars but rather “The lost planet of Brutus!” Complicating matters for his already-miserable self-esteem, Brutus is the one planet in the solar system inhabited solely by superheroes! Everyone can fly, everyone is a physical marvel, and a surprising number of people go around in bathing suits and capes.

Just as Hugh is apprehended by “Flatfoot Fogarty, the Super-Cop” (what does it matter if he has flat feet? He can fly!) and faces a lifetime of public display as a “weak freak” worthy only of mockery, the police station is assaulted by Super Phony, a bad guy who mixes up the Brutus ensemble by wearing a bathing suit, cape and newsboy cap AND who possess the power of super-hypnotism.

Hugh ekes out a couple more adventures as a “cripple” on a world of superhumans, but somehow manages to do better at making a name for himself than he did on plain ol’ Earth. By the end, he’s a decorated hero on Brutus, despite his low self-esteem and inability to do something as simple as flying between worlds. Pff. Amateur.

1 comment:

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

Interesting that you made this post without mentioning the conceptual similarities to Jim Valentino's NORMALMAN. Not that I'm suggesting Jim deliberately copied this strip, or even had any awareness of its existence (lord knows I didn't!). Some ideas just continue to float around in the ether until they find a home in the head of somebody new. Actually, before NORMALMAN popped up, I was trying to sell a similar idea called THE FANTASTIC FOUR BILLION. When Valentino's series appeared just a few years later, I smacked myself---hard---because he had obviously figured out what I had missed: that the story needed to be about the one guy WITHOUT any damn powers. Duh.

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