Friday, November 20, 2015


He was such a lame villain that he not only never got a cover appearance, he never even
got a full splash-page appearance. He's lucky they let him in the comic in the first place. 

You can't help but enjoy a good villain, particularly because they're so hard to come by. There are literally at least a half dozen components which turn a regular bad-guy into a class-a nemesis of good. You need a little sympathy, a little sadism, some colorful antics and exaggerated tics, a signature or some sort, a good bit of classical analogy, something to tie them into great literary or mythological archetypes ... or, on the other hand, you can have a thick-headed nitwit in a hardhat who accidentally kills like forty old women because he keeps forgetting he has a magic hand.

Original flavor King Samson, singing his
favorite Genesis song in the dark.
King Samson isn't even a headlining super-villain, but rather the thick-headed and broad-shouldered sidekick to the Silver Ghost, an alchemical baddie who faced off against The Freedom Fighters in their own book way back in the mid-1970s. The Silver Ghost was a bargain basement world-conqueror with his sights set on ruling Manhattan Island as his own personal fiefdom (and was revived in subsequent years as some sort of bathtub-grade Nazi, fitting in with the Freedom Fighters' mandate). As for King Samson, he was an idiot.

In terms of competence and style alone, King Samson might be the world's worst supervillain, and it's for that reason that I kind of love him. He goes through two costumes in his short arc, popping up sporadically in the first five issues of the debut Freedom Fighters title before he kicks the damn bucket. His first was a bog-standard superhero set of tights topped with a hardhat for some reason, making him look like the mascot for a construction company. His second was a more thematically sound sword-and-sandals type invention which fit his name better but did make him look like a bottom tier wrestler. Both costumes raised the question - Why "King Samson"? Well, like the biblical Samson, he was inhumanly strong and, like Martin Luther King Jr, he had a dream.

The transition between costumes happens suddenly between issues, and apparently among Samson's strange abilities is the power to suddenly grow a beard.

The problem was he started to like it.
Outside of his costumes, Samson's track record is kind of on the low side. He has the honor of being beaten up by every member of the Freedom Fighters at different points. Now, there's no shame in being beaten by the Human Bomb, a superhero who literally creates powerful explosions from his fingertips, or Uncle Sam, the living embodiment of the nation whose strength is equal to the might of his representative nation. He also got beaten up by the Black Condor, a flying man who boasts the strength of "a person," and also Phantom Lady and Doll Man. Then he was murdered by his own boss. This is a dude who does not have a career highlight reel.

Still, the best part of King Samson is that he was a functioning nitwit and had some of the comically least-impressive tough guy lines in villain history, to wit:

"Eat knuckles, hero. Haw haw"
"King Samson must hurt you. King Samson must hurt you bad!"
and, repeatedly:

Samson does become a more compelling villain as his story progresses, and as he becomes increasingly stupid. Having resced one of his temporarily-deceased boss' Midas-like gloves - capable of turning anything to silver at a single touch - the simple-minded and now somewhat-childlike bad guy wanders around the streets of New York haphazardly turning old women into shiny puddles. No, he's not a serial killer with a granny fetishist but, rather, is tormented with memories of his lost mother. His repeated embracing of unsuspecting septuagenarian ladies keeps resulting in their silvery liquidation, which is a prime example of the old "insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly bu expecting different results" business. Put that on a poster ...  a hairy moron embracing silvery puddles of grandmothers, under that motto. We'll all learn something.

Someone who didn't learn anything was King Samson, though, murdered by his own suddenly revived criminal boss with the very silver glove that he probably should have taken off at some point. Of course, victims of the glove were brought back in te pages of Freedom Fighters, so there's every possibility that King Samson could make a return, if the need ever arises for a super-strong bad guy with the brains of a turnip and who desperately needs maternal affection.

This is pretty great tho.

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