Characters Appearing: Al Laguardia, Claude (Doc Benson lab assistant), Don Phipps, Harlequin Hitman, Justin Baldwin, Maddie Baldwin, Nathan Boder, Niels, Speedball
Issue(s): Speedball #7
But what's different is that this plot actually relates back to a previous story! Speedball's parents run into old friends of theirs, Herb and Shelia Hollistar.
And you'll notice they're referring to the case of Alex Bow, whose remains were found walled up in the school in Speedball #4. In this story we have the Harlequin Hitman killing off a pair of men that were trying to blackmail the guy involved in that death. When the first blackmailer is killed, the second tries to goes to Speedball's father (an ADA) for protection. Speedball follows him and is in time to save his father, but not the second blackmailer, from getting killed.
It turns out there are actually two Hitmans...
...and they are the Hollistars.
But the story still doesn't come out, and the mystery continues.
It's an odd form of storytelling, with little bits of this plot moving forward among a dizzying amount of unrelated short stories.
Speaking of which, the second story in this issue is about steroid use on the track team. Robbie knows he can't try out for the team due to his powers.
But he doesn't like that the other kids are considering using steroids. Mad enough to do the hand-jive.
He almost goes to the coach but, much like Hamlet, can't bring himself to act.
Robbie's main action in this story is hiding behind trees.
But he does get to run the track course like he's been wanting to.
I've known for a long time that Speedball was originally developed out of the New Universe budget; in fact he's what Tom DeFalco spent the entire initial budget developing. But it always seemed odd to me that someone could spend $12,000 just thinking up Speedball. Until Walter Lawson's recent comment it never occurred to me that the $12,000 was spent on actual pages of this series getting developed. But now it seems obvious. And it makes me realize, for all that Jim Shooter's New Universe has been mocked, at least it didn't end up literally trying to recreate Marvel's Silver Age.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: There are actually two Harlequin Hit "Men" (Herb and Sheila Hollister), but only one of them has a second appearance, so i've listed only one in the Characters Appearing. The Appendix speculates that it must be Herb that appears again since he's broken out of a men's prison along with the Speedball villains. Just a reminder: every second we've spent reading, writing, or thinking about the above sentences is time we could have spent with our loved ones.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
FNORD - "He almost goes to the couch but, much like Hamlet, can't bring himself to act.". Having him go to the "couch" wouldn't help anyone. Sitting around never gets you anywhere. However, having him go to the "coach" might.
Posted by: clyde | September 16, 2014 1:55 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | September 16, 2014 2:08 PM
I didn't even realize that was a typo. I thought "go to the couch" was like "going to the mattresses" from the Godfather.
Posted by: Robert | September 16, 2014 3:52 PM
Perhaps if he went to the couch a little more, he wouldn't have (Spoiler!) become Captain Dark Emo 20 years later.
Posted by: Cullen | September 16, 2014 4:33 PM
In DeFalco's defense, some of the New U money might have gone toward developing Kickers, Inc. as well, based on what Frenz says here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kickers,_Inc.#Publication_history . DeFalco tried to pull Kickers out of the New U lineup, but Shooter insisted on repurposing it as a title courting sports fans.
It looks to me like there may have been three attempts--three strikes?--at creating the New U, which would explain the odd fact, noted during its launch, that titles like Kickers and Justice didn't obey the New U's fundamental rule: no aliens, magic, super science, everything beyond the real world had to be explained by the White Event.
So in Kickers and Speedball, which have the DeFalco retro feel, super science machines are responsible for superpowers, like radiation zapping the spider that bit Peter Parker.
My guess is that Archie Goodwin got second turn at the bat, which would make sense as he was already running a Marvel editorial division, Epic. He created Psi-Force, Nightmask, Merc, and Justice, the latter two of which are also notable for no White Event connection, and all three ideas seem vaguely like rejected Epic ideas. The Eliot Brown-created Spitfire feels like it probably came out of Goodwin's ideas shop, too.
Then we get the Shooter or Shooter-Gruenwald approach, with DP7 and Starbrand, the two titles that really depend on the White Event. (Assuming any explanation or none would work fine for the ESP-themed Psi-Force and Nightmask.)
Incidentally, Shooter's remarks here http://www.manwithoutfear.com/daredevil-interviews/Shooter lead me to double down on my idea that he wanted to get rid of fantasy elements in the MU, like the vampires and Savage Land. Shooter liked hard sci-fi, and he evidently thought the MU had not followed Stan's original dream:
"Shooter: The New Universe was dead long before it saw the light of day. Two years before the Marvel 25th Anniversary, when pressed by the president and executive staff for a "publishing event" for the anniversary, I suggested that we might want to commemorate the birth of one universe with the birth of another. Everybody liked the idea. I was given a substantial budget and told to proceed. My assistant, Tom DeFalco asked to be given responsibility for the project. He saw it as a career opportunity -- to have a second Marvel line that he could be editor in chief of. I let him take a try at it. After almost a year, he hadn't come up with much -- no general concept, and only a few lame characters like "Speedball". Because time was getting critical, I got involved, and came up with the science fiction/super hero idea. It was, in fact, what Stan wanted to do back in '61, but he didn't have the science background. Also, anytime you're working with Kirby, you're headed toward fantasy (repulsor rays, Blue Areas on the moon, lost civilizations, etc.) in a hurry."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 16, 2014 11:20 PM
*snort* Yes. Science. Just like that one fellow Stan helped to create, the one who lives in Greenwich Village. That nice doctor. Nothing fantasy there!
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 17, 2014 12:01 AM
What the heck is Coach Putnam wearing in his head?
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | September 20, 2014 5:38 AM
Comments are now closed.
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