Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

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

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sideline Sunday: Bewildering Bug Boys

"Behind every great man there is a great woman". So goes the famous adage. Here is another just coined, "Behind every great insect superhero is a mysterious dude wearing a funky hat". Okay, not quite as eloquent, but it is true in at least two instances: the Fly and Blue Beetle. Both received jewelry, a fly ring and a beetle scarab, from our mystery duo:

Turan was a constant mentor for Thomas Troy, from back in the days when he was a mere orphaned boy transforming into the Fly, and later when Troy grew up to become an attorney and the Fly-Man. Periodically he would appear to the heroic Crusadergive him added insight into how to handle various cases. On one occasion, after an encounter with Mighty Man, Troy found that he could not transfer back to his human alias. Tom valued his humanity far more than his abilities!
After bringing Fly-Man back to the Fly World (where is people migrated to after a disasterous war on Earth that left some of his kind as common house flies), Turan realized that Fly-science is not enough and must resort to his time traveling abilities...to go back in time and remove the chemical combound that created Mighty Man, as the radiation was what kept Troy as the Fly-Man. And we begin to see that Turan's strange science allows him to alter physical laws that enable him to bend reality itself!
Things didn't always go so smoothly between the two, however. On one occasion, when the Fly's arch-foe Spider-Spry launched a satellite that beamed waves of hatred causing his nemesis to be despised by all (including Troy's love interest Allison) even Turan was effected. Turan leaves behind both the Fly and his hatred. However, the seeds of doubt have entered Turan's mind as to the worthiness of his charge (guess he skipped reading The Fly issues #1-36).
On another occasion, a supervillian known only as the Blockbuster began terrorizing the world with his missles. After reverting to his Troy alias, the Fly's indominable spirit was still evident has the mild mannered attorney gave his foe a crushing blow, revealed Blockbuster's true identity...TURAN! Turns out Turan was testing his young charge as to his worthiness.
Realizing that the heroic spirit of his Earthly agent is not dependent on the powers granted him as the Fly, Turan leaves to test out candidates elsewhere who also help their worlds as the Fly! However, we never end up meeting these other agents of the Fly People. Except Fly-Girl, of course.

Elsewhere in the land of Derby (i.e. Charlton Comics), Dr. Dan Garrett first met the enigmatic Great Pharoah while exploring an ancient pyramid. And after being pulled back in time to the Pharoah's day, he learned of a great gift about to be bestowed on him. So began the dawn of the second Blue Beetle (fear not, gentle  reader, we will get around to the progenitor of all Beetles Blue, just not today). So began the career of archeologist turned adventurer.
Turns out that would not be the last encounter between the two, as the Beetle called upon the Great one to assist him in his battle with the Red Knight, who had discovered an element from another world that gave him invincibility against our Blue boy. Pharoahs give his protegee some special dust that itself is an element of unusual properties, capable of breaking down the integrity of the Knight's armour. And all ends well that day for everyone concerned. Although nothing must is revealed this go-around about the Pharoah (or his fair maiden, fanning him faithfully). Only that he existed in an ancient time and has the ability to pull Blue Beetle back to his era for their consults.


During their final meeting, Pharoah reveals that he was the Blue Beetle of his day, and now the current Beetle is battling the same foe that his forebearer defeated centuries earlier. This added insight seemed to indicate for the first time a legacy of Blue Beetles beyond Dan Garrett (although there was a Dan Garret in the 1940's,  that we'll discuss another time).

Shortly after assisting the Beetle to battle his deadliest foe, old Blue found himself on the wrong end of evil Uncle Jarvis' machinations, and a new Blue Beetle was born. Apparently, the wisdom Pharoah imparted to Dan had a limited shelf life. As for Turan, he would appear decades later, reviving the Fly from a near fatale encounter with Spider-Spry. Nevertheless, both mysterious mentors and their awesome agents faded away after a brief revival in the 1980's until reinvented by DC Comics.

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