Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ditko's Other Insect Men

Today's entry involves a pair of heroic insects that Ditko worked on of somewhat lesser note than is piece de resistance: Blue Beetle and the Fly. Interestingly, he seemed more enthralled by their firepower then their superpower (or, for the Beetle at least, his super-inventiveness).
The Fly debuted in 1959 as young Tommy Troy, granted a ring that while rubbing it and wishing he was the Fly, became a powerful, adult version of himself. Clad in googles and all the garment trappings of an insect-man, he launched into a semi-successful career and a run of 39 issues of his self-titled run. During that period he met and worked alongside a military captain controlling a fundamental force granting him a super-charged body (more on him later), as well as a host of other heroes including a plain-clothed crime fighter whose stichk was a trademark mask and his urban style of fighting crime without a grasp on constitutional protections (once more, more on him later). Back to little Tommy...well he got bigger became an attorney and packed a buzz-gun designed by an alien named Turan which was seldom used and ill-defined in its usefulness.

It took eight years for our other buggy boy to appear, although his direct inspiration had appeared in 1964, himself inspired by a golden age version. All three incarnations of the Blue Beetle had a similar goals although varying approaches of getting to them. The first Dan Garret was a police officer granted powers from a local pharmacist, the second Dan Garrett was an archelogist granted powers from an Egyptian scarab, and the third is our entry today. Ted Kord was a scientist who unwittingly drew Beetle #2 into a death trap on a deserted island when his sinister uncle unleased a horde of robots again them. Kord used his mechanical wizardry to create a new identity including an aerodynamically incredulous flying beetle named Bug which allowed Kord to drop in on his opponents using gymnastic feats he must've obtained through osmosous between Pago Island and Hub City. He later teamed up with a military captain controlling a fundamental force granting him a super-charged body (more on him later) and a plain-clothed crime fighter whose stichk was a trademark mask and his urban style of fighting without a grasp on constitutional protections (you guessed it...).

Interestingly, Ditko worked on both characters (creating the latter) and incorporated into his tales occasions when the Fly and the Beetle lost their similar style guns and the witless criminals (at least the Beetle's foes the Madmen were memorable) holding possessing of said instruments are unable to figure out how to trigger them:
Nothing like recycled ideas, ey? Or perhaps the Charlton and Mighty MLJ universes are more common than we might think? And buzz guns are always in vogue. Next we will consider the insect precursors to today's entry, a pair of heroes harkening back to a golden age showing us that bug-men are ALWAYS in style.

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