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You think Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk in a movie together is crazy? THIS COMIC KNOWS CRAZY. – Adventures of the Fly #18

May 3, 2012

(Note: I was tempted to mock the typo on the front cover, but since “it’s” one that I make a lot myself — along with the their/there/they’re muddle — I’ll let it slide. And believe me, I proof-read this parenthetical about fifteen times. God help me if one or more slipped through.)

One of the things you’re constantly hearing in reviews of the new Avengers movie (mine is forthcoming, btw) is that seeing the stars of standalone films come together in a movie dreamed about for years, and one no one ever expected to see, is insane. Crazy. OUT THERE, MAN. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe people are being too loose with the words insane and crazy. I’m here to offer up this comic book to remind us of the real meaning of the words. We’re wandering too far from their true essence. To quote Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s Batman: “You want to get nuts? Come on. Let’s get nuts.”

Adventures of the Fly was a series from Archie Comics which, like Adventures of the Jaguar, sought to cash in on the superhero boom. To get in on the sweet action. It was of course tough to grab attention in that already crowded field, so the fine folks at Archie threw everything at the wall that they could think of to make a mark. Not a lot worked, because the comics were never hot sellers and never really caught the imagination of the reading public (though there have been later revivals of the characters, if not at a Gold Key/Valiant level). But boy oh boy, were there ever some outlandish plot point carpet bombings. This book is Exhibit A.

To give you an early indicator of the amount of madness in this thin little bit of folded newsprint, there are three Fly features within. I’m only covering two here (both scripted by Robert Bernstein with art from John Rosenberger). Why only two? BECAUSE IF I DID THE THIRD MY HEAD WOULD BLOW UP. There are limits to human endurance, okay? I’m only one man with a scanner and a blog and a lot of dopey comics lying around. I’m not Rambo. Or Blogbo.

In the first story (you’re going to have to keep track of this stuff), a mouse chews through a wire, which accidentally launches a nuclear missile. Yes, that’s right, World War III can be started for want of a mousetrap and some cheese. Thankfully, the Fly and his partner, Fly-Girl (not the In Living Color make) are on hand to save the day, hurling the missile into space like Superman in his second movie — no Phantom Zone villains released, though. But their deeds get the attention of unseen foes, who use a decoy version of their Fly World mentor…

You know, I can’t even type this stuff. Here:

Yes, intelligent mice are on a nihilistic universal crusade. WONDERFUL. Thankfully, the real Turan shows up to save the day with some zapping gun and the wordiest word balloon in comics history:

Seriously, when exactly would those lines have been delivered in the course of that panel’s events? As he was zapping? After? It seems that there’s a lot of action transpiring, but Turan still has the wherewithal to blah blah blah his interminable exposition.

You might be thinking “Gee, Jared, genocidal wire-chewing space-mice and self-decapitating robot doppelgangers of verbose Fly Men don’t seem all that farfetched.” Fine. I’ll see you all that and raise you the cover story:

A giant rainbow-colored flying horse lands on Earth and has evil world-conquering centaurs come out of its belly like baby spiders from their mama’s abdomen. I think someone had a fever dream before they put this comic together.

I haven’t really talked much about the Fly himself in this post. He’s a Joe Simon/Jack Kirby creation (there’s a lot of what I’ve read were Kirby’s ideas for Spider-Man in this guy). He gets his powers through a magic ring that he wears and rubs like a genie’s lamp. He has a dorky costume (with goggles that make you want to dump his books) and, like Daredevil, he’s a lawyer by day. But unlike Daredevil, some of his powers are absolutely revolting. Like, for instance, his ability (and Fly-Girl’s) to cocoon himself. GROSS. Not even that he can turn this cocoon into a bowling ball and hit a wicked 7-10 split on centaurs can redeem this ability:

You really need some bowling sound effects there. And a Dick Weber reference.

As a final “No further questions, your honor” point for this post, I offer you this bewildering page — which pisses on history, astronomy, mythology and anything else ending in a Y — without any additional comment from me:

Well, one comment: I’d like to point out that the Fly head shot in the fourth panel is the same as the one in the previous scan. LAZY.

Okay, two: Never is it explained why the horse goes all rainbow in the future. Or present. Or the past present. Whenever the story takes place.

This finishes with the centaurs retreating inside their horse-ship, Fly and Fly-Girl tearing its wings off (talk about irony) with what they claim is the strength of millions of ants (make up your goddamn minds on what you are) and exiling it to an uninhabited world. THE. END.

The scripts in both of these stories are leaden and terrible (this really is one of the most needlessly word-laden comics you’ll ever wade through), and the art is stiff and repetitive (there was an austere beauty to its Archie kinsman reviewed here, Jaguar, which was crafted by the same creative team). But there’s a lot of nutty stuff per capita in this book. A lot. You have to tip your cap to it in a way. Like the reaction you might have to a guy who runs naked down a crowded street covered in his own feces. Or someone who drapes their whole body in tattoos or piercings. A wow, shake your head kind of cap tip. That. Is. Extreme. This book is as out there Silver Agey as you can get. Even if it sucks, its extremism is quite an accomplishment in the boundless world of comics.

So, when you go see Avengers, and you think how crazy it is, harken back to this book, and just imagine evil mice and giant rainbow horse ships. It’ll seem a whole lot saner. And vastly more entertaining.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 25, 2014 1:04 pm

    I would not be surprised if the creation of this comic book involved the consumption of large amounts of booze and drugs 🙂

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