Friday, April 7, 2017


It's past March 28th, so my new book -- The Legion of Regrettable Superheroes -- has officially launched, and everyone reading this should have purchased their minimum mandatory number of four copies of the book, in order to maintain their good standing in the Merry Marching Forgotten Society (Please be aware that Merry Marching Forgotten Society members are exempt from the upcoming draft into the great war with Oceania. Behave accordingly).

For the last few months, I've been sharing previews of upcoming entries in the book. Today, I wanted to share with you the one that got away -- the one character I couldn't justify putting into his own entry. The reason? He's only ever appeared in two panels of a single comic book. There are so few images of this character in existence that I had to draw the header image for this entry myself.

So ... meet THE VEGETABLE!

Debuting in the mid-60's, high-camp revival of the MLJ superheroes (surpassed in popularity by Archie, a character so dominating that the entire company was renamed in his honor) in Mighty Comics No.40, the Vegetable is recalled fondly by his former foe, the henpecked hero The Web.

Signifying a simpler and more exciting time, it's only by flashback that we learn of the Vegetable's misdeeds. These largely include: Threatening a Little League team and getting his car blown up.

Looking for all the world like a pickle giving birth to a man from five sides at once, the Vegetable is one of those classic villains who needs no motivation to do what he does, nor suffers any verifiable consequences (well, except, in his case, having to take the bus home). He is, however, a little shaky on his gimmick. For instance, the hand grenade he mercilessly hucks at a Little Leaguer is designed to look like an apple. Last I checked, that was a fruit. Well, it's swollen stem tissue, I guess. I just call 'em fruits, if pressed.

Why not a tomato, buddy? That's not a frui--wait, what's this Wikipedia article that's been sent to me from the future?
The Vegetable was a creation of Jerry Siegel, half-papa to the world-famous Man of Steel. Jerry had returned to DC Comics at this time following a messy lawsuit and a contentious relationship with Jack Liebowitz over the tiny matter of having been repeatedly ripped off over and over again by him, mercilessly, with no restitution or end in sight. Welcome to capitalism.

Despite being back in the DC saddle, Siegel was also writing (under psuedonyms) for other comics companies, creating characters like Nature Boy and Mr.Muscles, villains like Phantasmon (he's the space wizard with electric nostrils, if you've been hanging around for a while) and so on. That he didn't revive Funnyman at this point seemed weird.

I've really come to love these silly, frivolous Siegel stories. The man's life had been pockmarked with conflict, loss and doubt, and he was standing on the far side of a series of losing battles that had plagued his entire professional career. But he still put these out, the stories which were almost defiantly pointless, silly, and genuinely funny on a level of ironic absurdity that I don't even think modern audiences would see coming. Siegel may never have had another major hit after Superman, but his catalog continues to produce some level of joy. Oh, shit. "Produce" some level of joy! I didn't even do that on purpose.

"And the benches are cleared!"
I did fib a tetch above, mentioning that there were only two panels in a single comic which featured ol' Veg. In fact, he was a celebrated figure in one other book, a comic much after this blog's heart: Kitchen Sink's World's Worst Comics Awards. He was declared the winner of the "Worst Male Costume" category. Sheesh, you dummies. He's not dressed as a Male, he's clearly a courgette that can reach the higher shelves.

1 comment:

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Wait, was his getaway car a banana? This guy really sucks at theme villainy.

My copy (just the one, sorry) of Regrettable arrived today! Can't wait to dig into it tonight!

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