11 Forgotten Heroes From History's Worst Comics Publisher
In 1938, Centaur Publications was formed. In the four years of its lifespan, this company produced comics exactly like everyone else's, only crazy and worse. They had sloppy versions of Captain America, Green Arrow, and the Spirit, along with 12 different Flash Gordons and a female Superman named "Super Ann." To give you an idea of their creative bankruptcy, their Human Torch was called "The Fire Man" and their Hawkman was called "The Air Man." He wore a yellow penis costume and fought crime with a bucket, and I can prove it:
Most of Centaur's knockoff characters were forgotten until the early '90s, when Malibu Comics rescued them from the public domain to be forgotten again in the mid '90s. But in between their sad takes on Wonder Woman and Tarzan, they generated some uniquely insane comic book heroes, and some of them are worth another look.
Minimidget The Super-Midget
Minimidget the Super-Midget was very small, and I'm now done listing his special abilities. It's hard to express how difficult this made his life. His adventures usually involved him trying not to die from curious turtles or spilled coffee until he stumbled into crime he had no way to deal with. Ever. The writers dreamed up this awesome idea of a little man, but never solved the issue of how he would fight regular-sized crime. This meant the climax of every single Minimidget story was seeing how he would call someone, anyone for help. Minimidget the Super-Midget was a weird, useless speed bump in the plot of his own comic. He also had a tiny sidekick Ritty, who was three inches tall, a woman written by men in 1938, and just never had a goddamn chance.
At this point in time, there were hundreds of colorful crime fighters with amazing abilities. Dr. Hypno, on the other hand, could mind-control up to one animal. He only needed two things: someone trustworthy to watch over his lifeless body and an already-calm animal. He basically had all the powers of a dead animal trainer's legacy.
To make matters more complicated, Dr. Hypno did not live in the woods, where cougars and nighthawks could be sent to destroy his enemies. He lived in the city with a Chinese slave, and when he transferred his soul into parakeets or house cats, all this did was add a deranged and unnecessary step to an otherwise normal event. The people around him seemed less in awe of his abilities and more in awe of how this pervert always found some excuse to stare into the eyes of a parrot until he became it.
Craig Carter And The Magic Ring
In a lucky turn of events, Craig Carter gave up a promising archaeology career to pursue fighting crime full-time, and THEN found a ring that let him command gods from any religion. That's basically the end of the tension, because he would never encounter a criminal who could deal with Zeus.
So it became a little suspicious when the comic kept running and Craig kept calling on these shirtless muscled men from ancient lore to solve problems an ordinary punch or a parrot containing the mind of a man could handle. If Craig was exploring a cavern, he'd summon Hermes, the God of Wearing a Hat and Nothing Else, to carry him. And if he was infiltrating a mob hideout, who better to help with a stealth mission than a gigantic, mostly nude Thor the Thunder God!? The point is, Craig Carter went to elaborate lengths to convince everyone it wasn't a magic fuck ring.
Ed Smith In The Air Corps
In a comic they published for the Chicago Mail Order Company, the Centaur creators were tasked to create a character specifically to promote C-M-O's easy-to-use savings. Proving there was no possible way to get fired from Centaur Comics, they landed on "Ed Smith." Young Ed had no enhanced abilities, but he enjoyed hobbies and activities, and honestly, it's not safe to tell you any more. Ed Smith didn't do fucking anything. He was so soul-crushingly generic that Nazi scientists described him to American prisoners to dissolve their genitals. If you clap when someone drops a plate in a restaurant, the organizer of your Oscar office pool would accuse Ed Smith comics of containing a demonic level of dullness.
Plymo The Rubber Man
Oh no. Hey, you kids get the fuck away from Plymo, the Rubber Man.
Sleek and nude Speed Centaur was the sole survivor of an arctic horse-man city, a chum of ideas thrown together by lunatics and then drawn by less-talented lunatics. Every issue of Speed Centaur felt like it was written by a different Make-A-Wish child dying from early onset stupid. Most times, Speed was confused by our shirted, man-legged world, but other times he was a genius detective. He could fly, though not always, and one time he turned into a regular horse through sheer lack of coherent vision.
He mostly generated "Mystery Horse Tramples 15 More to Death" headlines, but he also somehow found a way to beat a bear to death every issue. The creator of Speed Centaur definitely listed his two greatest influences as "a lead-paint-eating contest" and "defending my lead-paint-eating contest championship."
For no real reason, a man named Jim Travis, whom the comic generously described as "Jim Travis, college graduate," decided he wanted to be a comic book superhero. His girlfriend simply stated, "BUT YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A COSTUME AND YOU'VE GOT TO BE A HE MAN." Jim missed this brazen slap to his manhood, and that very night, with no training or fucking anything, became the Rainbow.
And since this was 1941, the story wasn't an exploration of man's capacity for delusion. Everything worked out, and his first adventure ended with a woman exclaiming how she's sure to see him again, his "arch-enemy" Black Rufus vowing revenge, a promise of thrills and excitement next issue, and then the Rainbow never appeared again. That's how bad Centaur Comics was at everything.
Captain Jim was the skipper of the SS Patsy, and he the only thing worse than his judgement was his racism. His ship was in a constant state of pirate occupation, which may have been on purpose so he could kill foreigners with his knives and teeth. This is where he did OK. Jim was a shitty captain, but he was a tornado of hate crime in a fist fight. He had so many fucked-up ways to call someone "Chinese" that I had to look four of them up. By the time Captain Jim was done crossing any body of water, it would technically be described as a wet pit of bright yellow corpses.
Dopey Danny Day
"Dopey" Danny Day was a reporter with no notable talents who badly lost every fight, and the closest thing he had to a personality was how he suffered two concussions per page. But in one issue, possibly because his brain could no longer register trauma, it occurred to him he could turn his life around if he answered every question with a headbutt to the dick.
After that event, Danny leapt headfirst into everything. Sometimes he hit a dick and things went his way, and other times he hit something harder and lost a little bit more spinal fluid. Overnight, this comic went from a waste of everyone's time to the life-and-death struggles of a man who could only dive full-power at dicks and hope for the best. That's a story I always want to hear the end of, and the exact technique John Travolta uses to decide on movie projects.
The Headless Horseman was a crime-fighting cowboy who wore an ascot tied to no neck and screamed from an empty space with no mouth. What dark witchcraft called on him? How does he see or hear? Does he eat by dropping animals into his collar or soaking his entire shirt in soup? Well, when a stunning twist reveals he is actually a girl with a six-inch torso and toddler hands on the end of octopus shoulders, those are going to seem like silly questions.
From what I've learned from comic books, punching was the "happy holidays" of the 1940s. It was very common, it worked as a fine hello but better as a goodbye, and only uniquely lame pussies had any issue with it. In the '40s, you could beat a man half to death and tell the police, "Wait a couple days 'til the swelling goes down on this mook's face and see if he's yer guy. Also, yer welcome." If a magical wish transported you to a Golden Age comic book right n- PUNCH. That's how regularly it happens. So it's very strange that Copper Slugg's entire thing was how he punched people too often.
Slugg only appeared in one eight-page story, and in that time, he punched five men and one woman, with three -- possibly four -- of these incidences being total misunderstandings. And make no mistake, they were pissed about it. In the tens of thousands of Golden Age comic book stories, Copper Slugg was the only guy who ever got in trouble for punching because the punching itself was wrong. No matter how you feel about violence, that's inspiring. He punched so many people that the laws of his universe had to rewrite themselves around him.
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