The Small Lebowski:
Marvel Super Heroes #14 (Speedball)
Issue(s): Marvel Super Heroes #14 (Speedball)
This one isn't by Steve Ditko, it's by Ron Wilson. But it definitely was intended as a regular issue. This book even reproduces the would-be cover.
And it's done in a Ditko pastiche.
And yes, it features the Absorbing Man, so it has that going for it.
It's only a pastiche on the opening splash. Ron Wilson can't help drawing huge hulking characters.
But the art does get weird in this story.
The Absorbing Man has come to town, hoping to lay low where super heroes won't bother him (i'll note that he specifically cites Hulk and Thor, not Quasar, despite where this story ends up getting placed). He goes to hang out at what seems to be a fetish bar for bald people.
But even there he can't get any peace and... i seriously don't know what's going on with his size in this story.
Anyway, meanwhile, Robbie Baldwin's parents are having their perennial debate.
Robbie and his friend Jack are supposed to be doing homework, but instead they are watching "Felons Most Wanted" on TV and they learn about Absorbing Man.
Robbie is later forced to go to his mother's speech on culture. Meanwhile, Absorbing Dwarf continues to fight his way across town...
...and he winds up at the speech as well.
So Speedball has to stop him.
The Absorbing Man's powers mean that he's been defeated in a lot of ignominious ways but you know we're going to reach a new low if he's fighting Speedball.
I can't help but like Ron Wilson's art a little even when he's weirdly drawing the Incredible Shrinking Absorbing Man, but this didn't need to be published.
Quality Rating: D+
Historical Significance Rating: 1
Chronological Placement Considerations: A footnote says that this takes place before New Warriors #1. But this also has to take place after Quasar #5, because the Absorbing Man's appearance in Hulk #348 is referenced, and Quasar #5 is when he recovers from that. So this must take place during Acts of Vengeance (Quasar #5 is an AoV issue, and New Warriors #1 takes place before Thor #411-412, which are AoV issues). Luckily, Absorbing Man is made to implode by Quasar in Quasar #5 but inexplicably appears as a Vault prisoner in Avengers Spotlight #29 (also part of AoV). So we can assume that Absorbing Man recovered, appears here, and is sent to the Vault after he's captured by the police in this story.
Continuity Insert? Y (inventory story)
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAbsorbing Man, Al Laguardia, Don Phipps, Justin Baldwin, Maddie Baldwin, Speedball
It's just not the same without Ditko. I miss the fights with Scooby Doo villains. I miss Robbie's parents and their soap opera histrionics. Most of all I miss Niels the cat. Gone are those glorious days of 1963-in-1988. Le sigh...
Posted by: Robert | April 3, 2017 4:56 PM
Towards the end of his comic one of the letter pages promised an encounter with an established Marvel villian in Speeball #10. That never occured so this is probably that story.
Posted by: Tenzil | April 3, 2017 5:10 PM
Maybe not- there's a Speedball story in Marvel Comics Presents that fnord will be covering tomorrow where Speedball fights Dr. Octopus.
Posted by: Michael | April 3, 2017 8:24 PM
My takeaway from this story is that the Absorbing Man should have gotten an ongoing series by this point instead of someone like Venom. As a character, "Crusher" Creel is more like a nastier version of Ben Grimm and that might have made for some cool stories. I'm thinking along the lines of the Hulk's Joe Fixit period, where Creel even put in an appearance.
Posted by: Clutch | April 4, 2017 8:08 AM
I guess this story is a teaser for fnord's upcoming "MCP in 1993" marathon of mediocrity. I cringe when I look back on the fact that I purchased so many underwhelming comic books in the early 1990s. I *think* I have this issue of Marvel Super-Heroes, but I wouldn't swear to it. The fact that my memory is so foggy tells you all you need to know about this title.
By the way, I agree with Clutch. The Absorbing Man would have been a good character to get his own miniseries. I always liked how Tom DeFalco wrote Crusher Creel in Thor and Thunderstrike. I mean, obviously the Absorbing Man is not a nice guy, but at least he isn't a cold-blooded murderer like Venom, and you could tell some interesting stories with him.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 4, 2017 12:05 PM
The Absorbing Man is my favorite character but I don't think that a series would work for him for the same reasons they never work for villains.
Posted by: Mizark | April 4, 2017 8:00 PM
I can see the Grimm/ Creel comparison but think of all the retroactive online bitching about Ben spanking Moondragon. Creek kidnapped a lady for purposes of rape in Avengers 183! Not to mention the developments concerning Creel in comics not covered in this project. Not just nasty but downright villainous.
Posted by: Mizark | April 4, 2017 8:11 PM
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