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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Month, Part 3 – Mad #232 (The Greatest American Hero)

September 17, 2011

“Believe it or not, I’m blogging on air…”

Between this and the I Spy post from several days ago, I think I’ve exhausted my supply of Robert Culp-related material, at least for the foreseeable future. Time to let that field lie fallow.

I have only the dimmest of memories of The Greatest American Hero. I get the feeling that my parents plopped me down in front of the TV when it was on because it was a guy in tights flying around and that’d be something that would shut me up for an hour. I think I probably got a little antsy after the stupidly awesome theme song stopped playing (a ditty that spawned one of the funnier Seinfeld bits and in turn countless answering machine recordings). The show, with a teacher given a super-suit by aliens, fell flat to my young eyes. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for its biting satire. Or perhaps it sucked. Maybe both.

Whatever the case, I don’t really care all that much about the show. Even though I used to have an ungodly supernova of hair like William Katt.

The Mort Drucker Mad parody, given the obvious title of “The Greatest American Zero,” follows along the same line as the Incredible Hulk spoof highlighted here earlier. That means that there are a lot of cameos of comic book heroes, starting with the very first page:

Spider-Man swings into frame was well, though there’s no DDT this time:

The spoof follows Katt and Culp as they trail a trio of terrorists who’ve stolen nuclear material. One of the crooks may look a little familiar, and our hero and his government handler (who, under Drucker’s pen and ink ministrations, looks a bit like Frankenstein) get a chance to drop some sexist mid-air humor at the expense of Mary Poppins:

The story ends with the tights-wearing teacher coming to the realization (in much the same way as Banner did in the Hulk riff) that his incredible abilities may not be all that much of a burden:

When you read some of these things in close succession, you can really see the pattern that the Mad folks followed. It’s not paint-by-numbers, but there’s a groove. To pilfer a line from Mark Twain, the spoofs don’t repeat themselves, but they sure do rhyme.

I’m not complaining. If it works, run with it. And it works.

“Blogging away, on a wing and a prayer…”

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