Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Oddball Super Heroes: Seeing Red

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a stalagmite blog in a Bat Cave internet. I'm Dave-El and I have the power of positively charged protons.

Today is Wednesday which is the holy sacred day of the week known as New Comic Book Day. You know what I really like about a brand new comic book? That brand new comic book smell! It's like having a new car!

Here on the blog thing, we mark the return of a weekly recurring feature I like to call Oddball Super Heroes where I take a look at some of the odder costumed cohorts who have burst forth from the brightly colored paged of funny books, heroes greeted by comic book readers with a collective "What the hell?" 

Today, I'm going to look at 4 heroes who have 3 things in common.

1) They are DC Comics characters although 2 of them started at Quality Comics, the original home of Plastic Man, Blackhawks, Phantom Lady and more.
2) They all do not have super powers.
3) They all have "Red" as part of their super hero name.

Let's get started with the dumbest of this group.

The Red Bee

Assistant District Attorney Rick Raleigh decided to work outside the courtroom to deliver justice to evildoers. So he put on a costume and fought crime as...the Red Bee.

The Red Bee did not have any super powers but he did have gimmick. He had a trained bee.

That he kept in a pouch on his belt.

The bee, by the way, was named Michael.

Michael the Bee was a clever little insect who would distract crooks or sting them. Michael would even summon nearby bees to help out.

And no I'm not making any of this up. The Red Bee was a real comic book character who's solution to crime was...a trained bee.

And I feel I can't stress this enough, the Red Bee kept that bee in a pouch on his belt. I mean, what did Michael the Bee do in there while awaiting his cue to go out and buzz bad guys?

The Red Bee was swept up with a bunch of other minor
heroes when DC acquired Plastic Man, etc from Quality. Roy Thomas, a writer at Marvel and DC who would never let a comic book character go to waste, no matter how obscure, did bring back the Red Bee for his World War II super hero series at DC, All Star Squadron.

Where the Red Bee was promptly killed. Even Roy Thomas didn't know what else to do with him.

I know, that news really stings. 

The Red Torpedo
Here we have the adventures of Jim Lockhart who created a ship that could travel on the water and under the water and over the water. Float! Dive! SOAR! Wheeeeeeeee!

So water (giggle!) you gonna use such an amazing ship for? Well, to fight crime of course! And if you're going to fight crime, you need a cool name and a costume. So Jim Lockhart became... the Red Torpedo

And when in dire need, Jim would retrieve from his belt pouch a specially trained torpedo named Edgar.

OK, I made that last part up.

The Red Tornado
Now when I mention the Red Tornado, you might think of the android hero of the Justice League or the automaton menace from the Supergirl TV series. 

But I said this would involve super heroes without powers.

(Still if you want to read more about the android Red Tornado, click here.) 

No, the Red Tornado for today's post is this character.

Created in the 1940's by writer/artist/editor Sheldon Mayer, the Red Tornado could be described in a way as comics' first transgender character. Beneath the colorfully clad rugged manly form of the Red Tornado was a woman. Her name was Ma Hunkle, a matriarchal figure in a poor New York neighborhood. While most super heroes of the period were young, rich and single men, Ma Hunkle was a middle aged mother looking to just get by.

The Red Tornado never had her own feature but was a supporting character in Mayer's humor strip, Scribbly.  Still, the Tornado made an appearance or two in All Star Comics with the Justice Society.

And in case you're wondering, that helmet is a cooking pot with eye holes cut into it.


The last character for today's post really does not belong in this post. In many ways, this person is among DC's most beloved characters, a young man with amazing gifts for crimefighting that makes him well respected among the other heroes of the DC Universe.

So who is this character and why is he on this list of oddball super heroes?

Well, it's mostly because of the name he wound up being stuck with. 

Red Robin 
The person in question is Tim Drake and he was the third person to serve as Robin under the guidance of the Batman. Later, when Batman's son Damian Wayne took over the role of Robin, Tim still was determined to fight the good fight so he took on the name of Red Robin

Yes, like the hamburger chain.  

RED ROBIN! Yummmmmmmmmmmmm! 

And don't get me started on that horrendous New 52 costume design Tim Drake had to endure.

Still maybe someone could revive the Red Bee but now call him Applebees! 

No? No, I didn't think so.

Well, that's that for today. More posts to come so I hope you come back. Until then, remember to be good to one another.

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