New Reviews of Old Comics
I’ve heard of The Human Fly comics before, seen them in various bargain boxes over the years, guy dressed in red with an Evel Knievel like cape, tagline of “The Wildest Super-Hero Ever – Because He’s REAL!” and all that. Of course I saw it, thought “lame” and moved along to the next title in line. A momentary lapse of reason recently set in and I decided to take a flyer on The Human Fly, if you classify spending a buck as a gamble.
“Photo-Finish” was written by Bill Mantlo with art by Bob Lubbers and Don Perlin. It begins with a little girl having her camera stolen by some goon and the Human Fly getting involved to stop the motorcycle getaway (boy motorcycles were big the 70s weren’t they?) Of course he does stop them, which should be the end of the story, but there are like 10 more pages to go. The camera grab was just a ruse so someone could monkey with the Human Fly’s cannon (his claim to fame is being shot from said cannon into a net held aloft by a helicopter). So the cops and HF put on their own ruse, and without telling anyone, much less the reader, shoot a dummy from the cannon, which lands in the high tension power lines and fries up like a real fly in a bug zapper. The bad guys’ figured the ensuing chaos would draw the cops away from the local bank so they could rob it. Thankfully when the robbers break into the vault the cops and the Fly are there. In the end the Human Fly performs his cannon-to- helicopter-net flawlessly.
For what it is, The Human Fly isn’t a masterpiece of graphic storytelling, but it wasn’t all that bad either. This was one issue and I’m curious how the stories are in other issues because it seems like the premise would get stale after a bit; stuntman comes to town and solves crimes related to the circus (that kind of premise is only long lasting on older skewing TV shows.) Considering there were only 19 issues of the title, I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought that. If I see more issues for cheap I’ll probably pick them up.
As for the “he’s REAL” portion of the tagline, I didn’t know what to make of it. Does Marvel promote The Human Fly in this manner because the character is just an average person without mutant or other worldly abilities, or does the Human Fly actually exist in the real non-comic world? I decided to do about 15 seconds worth of research and apparently the Fly is indeed based on a real life stuntman named Rick Rojatt. I think it’s a safe bet to believe the stories are very loosely based on reality, but I guess he’s more real than Iron Man, Thor or Obnoxio the Clown.
Best Ad: “The latest thing in bike equipment” is a full page ad from Whoppers, that delicious malted milk candy. Straight from Europe (because that makes it extra special) comes “Safety Wing”! No, that’s not a new super-hero; it’s a plastic arm that hooks on to the back of your bike with an owl eye reflector that shines red behind and white ahead. It also folds away when you’re not using it. Yes, it sure sounds fabulous and it could be had for only $1.75, plus one Whoppers wrapper (in 1978). That’s a $1.20 savings, which is like four comics in 1978. Using comic prices as the convertor it equates to about $12 in today’s money. Plus you get the joy of eating a package of Whoppers. Yeah, they’re right up near the top of my favorite candy list. What’s not to love? Best of all this ad has a recipe for a malted milk shake; ½ cup milk, ½ cup Whoppers, 2 scoops of ice cream. The Safety Wing looks like a piece of garbage, but that recipe is golden!