Friday, August 28, 2015


According to Marvel Comics, this is also what happened to several hundred pages of original art.

I miss the days when comic book writers would come up with new foes just based on whatever happened to be on their desk at the moment. The Calculator! Paste-Pot Pete! Clock King! Calendar Man! Staple Hands! Photo Of My Wife And Kids Man! Captain Desktop Golf Game! And, of course, The Living Eraser!

Originally debuting in Tales to Astonish vol.1 No.49 ("The Birth of Giant-Man" November 1963), the Living Eraser is an agent for an other-dimensional plane, set here to abduct our atomic scientists so as to steal the secret of the atom for his own warlike world. Among the scientists he abducts are a pair of notable nuclear physicists, inventor and superhero Hank Pym, and a hot dog vendor. I assume that's because scientists get hungry.

Why don'tcha try going through the wall vagina?
More precisely, the Eraser informs the reader that he'd been sent to Earth by The Supremor of Dimension Z, which is a thing I can't believe anyone would say with a straight face, even in the Silver Age. The people he represents seem to be lacking a little by the way of abstract thinking, though. Having maintained visual surveillance on Earth for centuries by way of enormous wall-clogging screens, no one in Dimension Z thought to just look over any atomic scientist's shoulder and make a note of what he was writing down. Instead, they just abduct scientists and nag them out of atomic secrets. 

The charm of the Living Eraser lies in the fact that he employs the comic book medium for his signature super-power. What "erasing" a human being might look like in real life - or even represented on a movie screen - is up for special effects artists to figure out, but a partially wiped out figure on a comic page is practically what the medium begs to happen. 

The effect was consistent between the Living Eraser's first appearance and his return in the pages of Marvel Two-In-One No.15 ("Return of the Living Eraser" May 1976), a story in which the living vampire and occasional Spider-Man opponent Morbius spent a whole issue literally just trying to drink blood from every single character who appeared onscreen. This is literally the entirety of the plot; Morbius starts by trying to drink the blood of Ben Grimm's girlfriend Alicia Masters, then gets kicked out of her apartment and tries to drink blood from some hobos, then goes to Dimension Z and drinks blood there. It's like the Zagat's Guide to Blood Drinking Locales. 

It's in the hobo-strewn alley that the Living Eraser makes the scene, apparently working his way up the chain of atomic scientists by erasing a few homeless people first. Start with the homeless people, work your way up to the atomic scientists, maybe grab a couple sandwich artists along the way in case you get hungry.

The Living Eraser is a fascinating villain simply because so few villains use the medium of comics themselves to define the scope of their powers. He'd be a great character to bring back, possibly teamed up with someone who shot zip-a-tone out of a cannon and a living asterisk whose mere presence had to be cited in a little yellow caption box in the bottom of the panel.


Required field must be blank said...

I suppose he could team up with Lenny Fiasco AKA The Eraser.

"The Eraser wore shoes tipped with pencil-point blades that could also emit a sleeping gas. He wore a mask topped off with a giant eraser that could rub out evidence from crime scenes like footprints and fingerprints."

BillyWitchDoctor said...

When Archie Comics tried to reboot The Mighty Crusaders in 1984 as a Teen Titans knock-off, they ripped off DC and Marvel characters left and right to fill out the gaps. One of their minor bad guys was The (Evil) Eraser, a big dumb mook who similarly "erased" people and objects--permanently--by means of a chest-mounted molecular disintegrator. IIRC, he managed to take himself and several cohorts out with his own device. You can still find his bland low-grade action figure online, making him somewhat more lasting than his Marvel predecessor.

And who doesn't love "Rubberhead" (apparently originally "Eraserhead" but for some reason poorly re-dubbed with this less-appropriate name) from Duck Twacy's Rogues Gallery in the classic The Great Piggy Bank Robbery? Literally a pencil-necked geek, Rubberhead's noggin was a pencil eraser that rubbed Daffy Duck out of existence. (He got better.) I won't speculate where the pencil's point was located.

Anony*Mouse said...

"...and a living asterisk whose mere presence had to be cited in a little yellow caption box in the bottom of the panel."

They could call him Ed, and depending on the writer's level of deconstructionism, he would wield notes either helpful or thinly disguised advertisements for back issues.

Calamity Jon said...

^ That is a really good joke.

^^ That is some really good related information

This has been, so far, a really good comments section!

Calamity Jon said...

I just feel like I gotta mention it when it happens because I enjoy it so much.

Required field must be blank said...

Batman fought The Eraser as well. Lenny Fiasco was mocked by other college students for constantly erasing his mistakes - oh, and Bruce Wayne dated the girl Lenny was interested in. He put together a costume with "shoes tipped with pencil-point blades that could also emit a sleeping gas." Criminals would pay him to erase clues they may have left behind. For that, Lenny used his eraser headgear.

Calamity Jon said...

Yeah, here's an even better link about The Eraser:

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Ha ha! How did I forget THAT clown? Show his face through the mask and he'd pass for Duck Twacy's foe! He even had a cameo in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, hanging out with other losers like The Spinner and Signalman!

Matthew Johnson said...

The Living Eraser actually appeared at least THREE times, since he was in all of one caption box in the first issue of the Busiek/Larsen DEFENDERS series. He was supposedly fighting Big Hero Six, though, so maybe he'll make it into the sequel movie!

Calamity Jon said...

Enh, this comment thread has gone downhill.

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