Monday, October 25, 2021

Truly Gone & Forgotten : Margo the Magician

She’s got her priorities straight.

She’s got her priorities straight.

Margo the Magician
Created by Bill Bydem
Appears in Uncle Sam Quarterly #2 (1941)

Stepping forth from the veils of mystery and illusion comes MARGO -- a “lovely assistant” to a has-been stage magician who receives a surprise upgrade to “defender of liberty and scourge of empires!”

Nah, c’mon, I want to see the great magician make a bottle disappear.

Nah, c’mon, I want to see the great magician make a bottle disappear.

Wandering occupied China during the height of World War 2 is THE GREAT PRESTO and his youthful assistants, the adolescent Jimmy and no-nonsense Margo -- who are also his kids! Once a great magician performing to the practically-proverbial “crowned heads of Europe,” Presto now accepts pittances to perform for nearly-empty theaters. In his quiet hours, his kids keep an eye on the dissembling mystic. “Dad’s hitting the old bottle again!” Margo has a chance to exclaim early in the story, and probably not for the first time... 

There’s no Mrs.Presto in the equation, but that doesn’t mean anything special -- most magicians reproduce asexually. You just do the “sawing a lady in half” trick very very wrong and, voila, you get two kids.

Presto’s subsequent performance in a war-damaged opera house is interrupted halfway through by a desperate pair of Chinese soldiers. Fleeing Imperial Japanese military police, the duo are hidden inside the magician’s cabinet -- an illusion custom-made to make a body disappear! As Japanese soldiers continue to fill and search the theater, the act of life-saving stagecraft seems to pay off! The Chinese audience, naturally, is reluctant to assist an invading army, and neither Presto nor his kids are eager to confess to hiding the runaway soldiers.

In fact, they seem downright opposed to the idea!

In fact, they seem downright opposed to the idea!

But then -- no joke, straight-up finale-of-M*A*S*H style -- some kid in the crowd goes “What has happened to the soldiers that the great magician hid in the box, mama?” and the Japanese soldiers overhear. SHUT THAT CHICKEN UP. CAN’T YOU SHUT THAT STUPID CHICKEN UP??!

An impromptu firing squad is set up to execute the soldiers as well as Jimmy and Margo, as punishment. It is at this exact moment that Presto suddenly remembers that he has Satan’s phone number. “O, Rulers of Darkness … Never have I called down the vast powers vested in me! I implore you to make this trick work…” he declares, adding silently “Please make this trick work. It will probably be the most decent thing I ever do for my kids.”

Wielding this strange and tremendous power, Presto directs the rifles away from his children and towards himself, dying in a volley of bullets. It’s only because this was a very emotional scene of dramatic sacrifice that you don’t wonder why he didn’t force the rifles to shoot upward, or at the floor, or to not shoot at all. He had a lot of options besides (A) Death. Still, in his final moments, he breathlessly explains the mechanics of his power to his daughter, likely dooming her to death by needless sacrifice at some future date.

Margo has the power of flashbacks.

Margo has the power of flashbacks.

Awed by her father’s final act of selfless love and the gravity of the tremendous powers with which she has been entrusted, Margo makes a solemn pledge to use her powers nobly, wisely and always for right: “Boy-o-boy am I really going to go to town on this magic business now.” Uh-oh.

Escaping together, the rebel soldiers introduce themselves as “Hi” and “Lo.” Hi was educated at Oxford and Lo bummed around America for a few years, so the pair speak idiomatic English appropriate to their individual ESL programs. Outside of that and the canary-yellow skin color you tend to see on Asian characters in the era, neither Hi nor Lo were presented as particularly stereotyped. There was certainly an element of caricature, but at least it wasn’t an egregious caricature. Anyway, also joining the cast is newshawk and lothario Chick Benson, whom Jimmy met in prison. Long story. 

I feel this way every time I go to the supermarket these days.

I feel this way every time I go to the supermarket these days.

Margo’s amazing illusion ability allows her to strike powerful blows for freedom, largely by way of freaking out soldiers so bad. Her first effort involving her power causes two Japanese soldiers to see a gently-lobbed pebble as an ENORMOUS FUCKOFF BOULDER COMING RIGHT AT US HOLY SHIT OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK AHHHHH. Margo also causes other opponents to believe that their legs are becoming tree trunks, or that their guns are melting. Curiously, Margo never has to communicate the intended effect of her hypnosis -- it simply happens. Either she has a tremendous strength of will or it’s a wild coincidence.

Sabotaging a supply train, Margo and friends liberate its cargo for the benefit of starving farmers and peasants. Unfortunately, with the cliffhanger set to resolve in a non-existent second appearance, the strip’s readers are left to wonder if hypnosis is any good against a sudden barrage of Japanese bombs. Oh well, it was a short but vibrant career! 


Thanks to the Digital Comics Museum for scanning, uploading and making available these comics. Please visit and support Digital Comics Museum.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Truly Gone & Forgotten : Tornado Tom

GAF_Tom1.jpg

Tornado Tom
Creator unknown
Appears in Cyclone Comics #1-5 (1940)

Emerging unhurt from a spinning cyclone and boasting strange new powers is farmhand Tom Kenny -- Tornado Tom to his friends -- and he’s a fink!

Tornado Tom survives this singular experience in the pages of Cyclone Comics -- a book which gives away a pretty major spoiler right in the title, if you think about it. The fulsome farmhand is described as having been “picked up by a cyclone, whirled about for hours in the air and eventually dropped uninjured in another state,” after which he apparently “has absorbed something of the character of the great wind itself.” 

Tornado Tom moonlights for Lyft.

Tornado Tom moonlights for Lyft.

What the text means by this is that Tom inherits not only an array of powers -- “Physical match for a dozen ordinary men and great speed,” according to one caption -- but also the unpredictable violence of the wind. On more than one occasion, Tom responds to even a minor insult by starting a major league brawl. His hair-trigger temper makes him perfect for a roving hero, however, which is good fortune for the newly-amnesiac hero. Since his high-wind walkabout, Tom has forgotten his previous life entirely. 

It seems that spinning around in a tornado about six billion times might just goof your brain a little. Recalling nothing but his name, Tom often mentions that he may have a mother out there somewhere. We all do, Tom, we all do.

Tom’s adventures keep him in rural communities and modestly-bustling midwestern cities. He’s portrayed as a journeyman laborer in addition to a farmhand. His sobriquet has a bit of a “hobo culture” feel to it. And it’s true, a brawl-happy farmhand named Tornado Tom seems to stumble right out of a Jim Tully book. But lest you start to think of Tom as a Steinbeck-ian hero, let’s rattle off the fella’s opponents across five adventures: He begins by breaking up a crooked milk monopoly run by a racketeer in a small city. Hooray for Tom. Next up, he smashes a labor march. Tom, oh no. He busts that union so darn well that the FBI comes calling, and pretty soon Tom is routing a cell of foreign bolsheviks. To be fair, they were trying to drain him of his blood, which is revealed to have amazing restorative powers. So they were foreign bolshevik vampires

Tom doing what he does best — losing his temper and hurting a bunch of people in the process.

Tom doing what he does best — losing his temper and hurting a bunch of people in the process.

What precisely in a hurricane gives a man restorative blood, I couldn’t tell you -- perhaps it was like being in a big centrifuge. You’d have to ask a scientist. But that question is left unanswered, alongside the provenance of Tom’s amazing abilities. At some point, spurred on by some unknowable instinct, Tom feebly calls upon Boreas, “God of Wind,” to save him during a badly mismatched fight. That apparently works, which implies that there’s more to Tom than a cyclone and a hard-on for capital-a authority. 

Unfortunately we’re denied these answers and others as Tom sputters out after five adventures. A subsequently-promised epic adventure -- “Tornado Tom Saves America!” -- never materialized. For all we know, Tom had a mother -- and she’s still waiting for him at home.

The hell he does.

The hell he does.


Thanks to the Digital Comics Museum for scanning, uploading and making available these comics. Please visit and support Digital Comics Museum.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Truly Gone & Forgotten : Mekano

Mekano, doing what good robots do — refusing to step on a small child at the last moment.

Mekano, doing what good robots do — refusing to step on a small child at the last moment.

Mekano
Created by Bob Oksner
Appears in Wonder Comics #1 (1944)

What stands eight feet tall, has metal arms as thick as pylons, leers through dead indigo eyes, grins a metal rictus of sharp iron fangs, and is also -- according to its biggest fan --  “practically human?” It’s no human that I’ve ever met, but it IS Mekano the Wonder Robot!

This is a metaphor for puberty.

This is a metaphor for puberty.

Like other robot superheroes of the era, Mekano obviously draws his inspiration from Elektro, the seven foot-tall star of the 1939 and 1940 World’s Fairs. Chromium characters like Jerry Siegel’s Robotman or Quality Comics’ unsettling Bozo the Iron Man were reminiscent of Elektro in a multitude of fashions, not the least of which being that both Elektro and Robotman boasted pet robot dogs.

Constructed for Westinghouse Electric’s World’s Fair pavillion, Elektro was capable of a few simple mechanical marvels -- he spoke from a record containing a vocabulary of 700 words, could distinguish between colored lights, lift his arms above his head, smoke a cigarette and blow up a balloon. I know it sounds like I made up the last two actions to be funny but, nope, he had lungs. Human lungs*.  However, he couldn’t bust through a building, rout a Nazi armada, or make terrifying eyes at a helpless lady newshawk -- for that, you need Mekano!

*THAT part I made up.

Good heavens, that is terrifying.

Good heavens, that is terrifying.

Created by inventor and electrical engineer Bill Foster, the remarkable robot Mekano -- a terrifying titan colored an unappetizing indigo and exuding malice from every seam, if we’re being fair -- is capable of some similarly humble stunts as its inspiration. Counting on his fingers and sputtering a soul-gripping “HELLO -- GLAD -- TO -- SEE -- YOU --” from his lipless maw, Mekano stays on display for public review (like Elektro, at the World’s Fair -- the famous Perisphere and Trylon are even visible in the background). Unfortunately, Mekano has only one fan, and no more. Conversely, his one fan is Tommy Clark. And Tommy is SO! INTO! MEKANO! UNNNGH!

Run while you can, Sandra.

Run while you can, Sandra.

Tommy goes so far in his fandom that he actually gets into a fight with a full-grown adult member of the unappreciative audience, which earns him Bill Foster’s friendship. The pair feed each others’ sense of enthusiasm, and soon Bill is fired up about straight-up makin’ Terminators! Dedicating themselves to improving Mekano’s capabilities - from novelty to independently moving and maybe even *thinking* juggernaut of relentless steel and circuitry -- they also pick up a third human member for their cast, Sandra Kent (of the Tribune!) who smells a scoop!

Things go well for Team Mekano until Billy gets a little frisky with the “Go And Rampage And Destroy Things” button, which I can’t believe they even installed in the first place. This sends Mekano on a rager throughout the streets of the city, destroying property and terrifying passers-by. Bill, himself passing by at the best possible time, sees his pet project curbstomping a nine year-old girl, and hurriedly shuts down the amuck mass of metal with a garage door opener he keeps in his pocket. On the plus side, Sandra got her scoop!

The now-deactivated menace is taken into police custody, and is promptly thereafter lost to Nazi agents. Is this what we pay taxes for? To ensure that Mekano can be used as a Nazi weapon against the forces of the free world, Bill is also abducted for his unique scientific understanding of his robot. Tommy and Sandra sneak on board the ship being used to haul the stolen cargo (and on which Bill is getting tortured a little bit. You know, informally tortured). 

Mekano, have you been drinking?

Mekano, have you been drinking?

This, naturally, turns out to be the Nazi’s downfall. Once back in the European theater Bill rigs a special voice control on Mekano which not only makes him more responsive -- it seems to germinate the seed of that independent intelligence Tommy had always been so hype about. Uh oh. 

I’ve seen Terminator, you’ve seen Terminator, we all probably have also seen Terminator 2, I never saw T3 and I think there’s a T4 and I heard there was a Genisys, or Genysis? Anyway, what I’m saying is we’ve all seen a sufficient amount of assorted Terminator-related media to know that a thinking giant robot that only knows how to destroy is problematic.

Nonetheless, Mekano wipes the beach with Nazi soldiers during a fortuitously simultaneous Allied landing. Despite having wandered well out of Bill Foster’s voice control, Mekano manages to sort his targets accurately without any additional input. The robot sure cleans house on the Nazis, literally crushing them under his menacing metal boot. Mekano strikes a blow for Democracy! Here’s hoping he never turns on us!

Mekano was the creation of Bob Oksner, a legendary DC Comics artist whose work typically graced the company’s licensed humor properties -- assorted titles featuring Dobie Gillis, Sgt.Bilko, Pat Boone, Welcome Back Kotter, Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis. While Mekano is pure action-adventure, it moves with the urgently frivolous pace of Oksner’s comical voice. The captions in particular seem to have no time to waste. Their tone is so urgent that it seems admonishing -- “why are you looking up here? The story is down there! Meanwhile! That’s what Meanwhile means!!” Assembled together, they become a manic tone poem. Please enjoy:

GAF_Mekano3.png

There’s no second adventure for Mekano. Despite being part of a “future [which] science hopes for--” the big indigo nightmare never manages to get past its present. If I had to guess what kept Mekano from showing his terrifying head a second time, it would be that Tommy hit the “Run Around And Murder Everybody” button again and there wasn’t anything to show in Mekano’s second appearance except crime scene photos.


Thanks to the Digital Comics Museum for scanning, uploading and making available these comics. Please visit and support Digital Comics Museum.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Truly Gone & Forgotten : Lee Granger, Jungle King

The Jungle King’s gated community.

The Jungle King’s gated community.

LEE GRANGER, JUNGLE KING
Created by Manly Wade Wellman and Jack Binder
Appears in Slam-Bang Comics #1-7, Master Comics #7-10 (Fawcett, 1940-1941)

Scientist-Adventurer Lee Granger parachutes into a “pygmy village” in Africa after vicious slavers bomb his airplane. It’s a tale as old as time and also, probably, the best thing to ever happen to the giant, strapping scientist. While the residents were unfriendly at first, Lee saves the life of the King after the regent stumbles into one of his own soldier’s poisoned spear-tips. In gratitude, they allow him to gentrify their village … with super-science!

In short order (haha), the rudimentary collection of jungle shelters has been overrun with tract homes and paved streets, none of which the natives need but they at least pretend to like it. A city hall is erected, Granger builds a laboratory, and educates the community that is now under his protection as to the secrets of civilization. “He teaches them about domesticated animals,” explains a busy caption in the midst of a montage, “Trains them to smelt and forge iron, and introduces them to the marvels of science.” He probably teaches them to code.

Jungle King’s white African villagers.

Jungle King’s white African villagers.

In fact, he introduces them to the marvels of science so hard that they turn into white people after a few issues, with no explanation. (Well, that is to say — you know the real explanation, but there was no in-story explanation). From the Jungle King’s third or fourth appearance, the indigenous African people over whom he presides I think might be from Norway. It’s genuinely hard to say whether this is more palatable than the original setup, although it puts an end to difficult visuals where a stern and impassive Granger directs his black villagers in their back-breaking labors…

One of the Jungle King’s other miracles of science involves performing a peculiar surgery on a wild lion in order to give it the gift of speech. This majestic beast, bridging the gap between animal and man with the power of expression, capable of giving voice to its deepest, most unknowable, most atavistic thoughts -- is named “Eric.” 

Well, that just about covers the basics. Thanks Eric!

Well, that just about covers the basics. Thanks Eric!

Eric is frequently the high point of any Lee Granger adventure. While the strip as a whole is taking its white machismo very seriously, Eric provides hilariously prosaic interjections. Many scenes will be suddenly interrupted by a snarling lion ejecting itself from the camouflage of tall grass only to say something handy to the plot like “There’s trouble up north.” Thanks Eric. 

Unlike your average Tarzan-style superhero, Granger relies on his scientific inventions as much as his physical powers and mastery of jungle skills. He invents giant arrows to take down magical djinns, and flies through the air on a biplane-backpack. He’s also not the only white jungle hero occupying this particular stretch of the jungle. Lee faces off against a human woman in a Busy Berkeley outfit who commands an army of giant ants under the earth, and allies himself with Nedda the Elephant Queen, who sounds hilarious. 

If the generally prosaic Jungle King is to be remembered beyond the intriguing but undelivered-upon premise of “JUNGLE SCIENCE!” and a talking lion with an insurance agent’s first name, it would have to be this panel. Has any story in the history of Noble Savage storytelling ever managed to tell on itself so concisely as in this exchange?

Hoo boy.

Hoo boy.


Thanks to the Digital Comics Museum for scanning, uploading and making available these comics. Please visit and support Digital Comics Museum.


Monday, September 27, 2021

Truly Gone & Forgotten : Diamond Jack

DIAMOND JACK
Created by Gus Ricca
Appears in Slam-Bang Comics #1-7, Wow Comics #1 (Fawcett, 1940)

Fawcett Comics was a font of magic words and expensive goods. The line boasted, among others, ancient Egyptian sorcerer Ibis the Invincible and his all-powerful golden Ibistick (which would be a good nickname for a dick, consider it for yourself or your loved ones). It boasted a veritable card catalog of magic words between the Shazam clan and their foes. And there are others in the same vein, but less well-known -- but still mighty magical -- were characters like Boy Wizard Atom Blake and necromancer of the nightlife, Diamond Jack!

Speaking of magic words, these are the first words spoken by Diamond Jack in his feature, to a gang of armed crooks. I think we can all agree that this is very badass.

Speaking of magic words, these are the first words spoken by Diamond Jack in his feature, to a gang of armed crooks. I think we can all agree that this is very badass.

Gifted a powerful enchanted diamond by an unnamed magician some years prior, Diamond Jack takes it upon himself to use the ornament solely “to aid the worthy.” And that is more or less it for the origin! Everything after this introductory paragraph in DJ’s inaugural adventure is glamorous nightclubs and Jack using his magic gem to enact bizarre punishments on weird crooks. 

And weird they can be! The criminal and the supernatural underworlds of Jack’s stamping grounds appear to rub shoulders at every level of society. The stage magicians at the nightclubs which Jack so often frequents know him as a legitimate and powerful wielder of “real magic,” for instance. At the behest of a trio of cheap thugs, a skid row witch battles Jack with dragons of smoke. The socialite Queen of Vampires, Maria, even manages to turn Jack, briefly, into a dreaded nosferatu! Little wings grew out of the back of his topcoat. It was adorable.

More bizarre foes included The Green Devil (“Master of the Dead Men of Death Island”), the ancient idol Khor, and The Sky Demon (backed up by an air force of winged gorillas). 

“In many ways, that gunman knew me better than I know myself …”

“In many ways, that gunman knew me better than I know myself …”

Like fellow Fawcett Comics magician-hero Ibis the Invincible, the powers conferred upon Jack by his magic accoutrement are seemingly limitless. At the very least, the gem has made Jack “physically strong and mentally beyond all mortals,” but that represents only the tip of the iceberg. A partial list of powers manifested through the diamond include, but are not limited to:

Turn Bullets into Flowers
Turn Gunsmoke into Snakes
Change Guns to Candy
Punch Crooks in Face
Heal Wounds, Grant Long Life
Impersonate Smoke Demons
Neutralize Spellbooks
Extract Vision from the Dead
Turn Zombies to Ash
Turn People Into Ferns
Materialize Tigers From Nowhere
Summon Lightning
Cure Paralysis
Awwwwww SUFFRAGETTE!

If the diamond’s raw magical energy fails to prove sufficient to crush crooks and evil magicians on its own, Jack is also outfitted with a few magic words -- “KZAT” places a magical sword in his hands, “KZAR” creates a parachute out of nothing, and “ADKEHL” creates a destructive blast and is also the sound you make when you try to hold in a sneeze. 

This is what everyone who asks to see the manager in a restaurant thinks they look like…

This is what everyone who asks to see the manager in a restaurant thinks they look like…


Thanks to the Digital Comics Museum for scanning, uploading and making available these comics. Please visit and support Digital Comics Museum.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Quarter Bin Heroes: Pyramid Comics / Ruck Bud and His Screeching Commandos


Damlog, being badass.

Pyramid Productions

Publisher based in South Bend, Indiana.
1986-1987
15 issues

Titles included the anthologies Barbaric Tales, Dark Visions, and Omnicron:Astonishing Adventures of Other Worlds, the latter of which boasts a cover job by Kevin Nowlan. Future Marvel Comics editor Mark Pannicia provides scripts and script assists on many titles, as well as turning out a promising Dave Stevens-inspired cover for Omnicron’s second issue. Not to be outdone, series illustrator Don Bryan roughly channels Mark Schulz for his book The Adventures of Theown (3 issues). Both artists go so far as to craft signatures which resemble Stevens’ and Schulz’, respectively, which you have to admire.

Gary T.Washington (A Boy and His ‘Bot, NOW Comics, 1986) creates sci-fi adventure series Cyberhawks (2 issues). A planned five-issue series, Damlog, was a brutal science-fiction title which debuted in Barbaric Tales and, unfortunately, taps out after a single issue and a bomb-as-hell cover that ought to be on black velvet.

Additional titles included Dimension Z (2 issues), Ruck Bud and His Screeching Commandos (1 issue) and The World of X-Ray, the cover of which promised readers an unappealing ringside seat to X-Ray’s world of “Drug Addiction - Gang War - Child Abuse” (1 issue).

Spotlight on…

RUCK BUD AND HIS SCREECHING COMMANDOS

Coming soon from Hasbro!

The world of 2525 is a very dangerous place. If you find yourself embroiled in some sort of danger -- say an international nuclear kidnapping plot -- then you’re going to want only one man (and his associate band of screeching commandos) on your side. And that one man (and his band of screeching commandos) just happens to be … Ruck “Bud” Webster and His Screeching Commandos!

You might be inclined to sneer at the theatrical hypermasculinity of Ruck Bud and His Screeching Commandos, but rest assured that nothing is taken too seriously in the pages. Craig Hamilton’s cover sets the tone by recalling Michael Golden’s luscious work on Marvel’s G.I.Joe, only by way of Tom of Finland. 

Inside, the Screeching Commandos themselves seem like action figures begging to be made. The roster of this freelance mercenary troubleshooter organization starts with RUCK “BUD” himself. Bud boasts the classic party hair-do, robot enhancements covering the right side of his face, and an aversion to shirts in all forms. At one point, he is described as “half-cyborg” which, I believe, would mean he is ¼ robot. I am not a mathematician. Please direct all further inquiries to CERN. 

His cadre of ‘roidal rascals is composed, in part, of mohawked man-mountain BAD BRAD, whose massive size makes up for a limited intellect. There’s also MIKEY JOE, a former con artist named DINO, and PUPPY -- the skinniest of the group and therefore, rightfully, the one on whom they vent all their frustrations. Rounding out the troupe is -- brace yourself, this name is a killing word -- WEASLY BLAST, the most YMCA-lookin’ member of the team. Despite having a name like a really sad grasp at a Harry Potter-themed energy drink, Weasly rocks his baseball cap, Viking braids, and his extremely ride-able mustache so hard that I am sure that he is his own category on PornHub. 

Here, our heroes engage in some phallic antics of public vandalism.

“I’ll teach you to use that kung fu bullshit on me!”

Relaxing between assignments on their personal super-jet, the Screeching Commandos’ hearty games of grab-ass are interrupted by a frantic phone call from the Morrocan head of state, President (?) Guardia (??). It seems that a peaceful moonlight dinner with his daughter Clarissa was cut short … by the infamous Tunisia Defense Army! The hated TDA! They’re not even doing defense right now! They’re just kidnapping Clarissa! Those rotters! Ohhh, how we should all be shaking our fists in the air at this moment.

A compensation of fifty million dollars helps encourage Ruck’s misfit crew into action. They have a super-jet to maintain, after all, and Ruck’s other options are few. Having recently escaped from “Superior Tri-Max Prison,” which sounds like the best value for your dollar when you’re shopping for prisons, Ruck and his crew are eager for action but have obvious issues with legal channels.  

I wouldn’t worry about it, kids. Your troubles are soon about to cease.

Piloting very shirtless and hairy-chested, Ruck lands the crew in Algiers. The Commandos exit the ship en masse but neglect to close the hatch, inviting a couple of street kids to sneak aboard and rip them off. This is a good bit. Later, they’ll discover that the kids cleaned up on beer, comics and stashes of porn. Luckily, the Commandos took all the high-ordinance with them. 

The foes faced by the Commandos are varied. First up, Tunisian police officers are given a gentle goodnight by way of Weasly Blast’s sleeping-gas mini-bombs, disguised as studs on his leather wrist-bands -- ALSO a category of its own PornHub -- but the masked ninjas of the TDA get the real business. Lead business. And when it turns out that the TDA is led by Maris Wynd -- the man who cost Ruck Bud his humanity during an earlier battle -- it becomes personal.

It also becomes urgent, as Moroccan President Guardia has used the incursion of Tunisian forces into his nation as an excuse to nuke Algiers! Diplomacy  hasn’t improved much in the year 2525, I gather! Also, that’ll put pay to those rotten kids who stole all that crap from the super-jet. Those beer, comics and stashes of porn are in heaven now!

Ruck Bud cathartically defeats Wind, and the Commandos fulfill their potential by destroying a multitude of things and people on the way to rescue Clarissa. The president’s supposed daughter reveals everything -- Clarissa literally explains it all -- informing Ruck and his pals that she is a secret agent and a lookalike for the president’s daughter! Well heck! As they beat feet for the super-jet in hopes of outrunning an incoming nuke, freshly-rescued Agent Marx explains that her employer had been going senile in recent years, which is as good an explanation for this whole story as you really need.

“Check it out, Wynd … there’s a half-cyborg down there.”

♬ He’s kicking some ass — and breaking some glass! ♬ 
♬♬ RUCK BUD! ♬ ♬

In Ruck’s world, there are men, and guns, and things like kidnapping and nukes which need men with guns to take care of. Sometimes they have a flying ship. They don’t have women, for the most part. Only two women are mentioned by name in this book, and we only meet one. Of course, she’s a dead ringer for the other, so it’s probably more efficient this way.

But it’s not without humor, and it’s definitely not mean to be taken seriously. The Commados’ battle-cry is, literally, “FISTICUFFS!” Ruck delivers the classic line, early in the story, “I’ll teach you to use that kung-fu bullshit on me,” which you can hear in Kurt Russel’s voice, can’t you? 

In the closing pages of the issue, the Commandos don rented tuxedos (for no reason I can discern) in order to beat their payment out of the president of Morocco. I suppose it would be a formal event. In any case, it’s indicative of the dopey and very unserious antics of the cast. 

Whatever else, it’ll be fun in a few years when 2525 finally rolls around. Social media will be alight with everyone remarking with some rueful acknowledgement -- gosh, the year of Ruck Bud! Remember when it was so far in the future that it seemed fantastic?

The hint of a promise left unfilled manifests itself in the setting of this future era. The World of X-Ray (which, above, promised drugs and all sorts of other gruesome shit) was also set in 2525, tantalizing the world with a crossover. We’ve been robbed of watching the Screeching Commandos take on child abuse...

♬♬RUCK BUDDD!! ♬♬


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