Long-time readers will know that we here at Slay Monstrobot like to take a look at long forgotten Golden Age heroes, and have our illustrious judging panel decide a) who might be worth reviving in modern day, and b) hopefully finding they're public domain so we can get rich off the idea.
We've looked at a lot heroes in Golden Age Idol--but never anybody like:
Well, actually, that's not true. We've seen someone EXACTLY like Red Rube. Except the other guy came first.
Because if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Red Rube is absolute most sincerest hero ever.
Come back with us to MLJ's Zip Comics #39 (1943), as Ed Robbins "creates" a "new" superhero...as we find young orphan Reuben Reuben fleeing:
Now, maybe we have seen that before, but let me tell you--Dickens wishes he could have written an orphanage this unpleasant!
A cat o' nine tails?? Really??
Anyway, beaten and scared, Reuben Reuben flees orphanage officials and policeman in the rain, until he finds:
Because America was full of castles in the 1940s--but the greatest generation gave them up to save the world!! Ask your grandparents, kids!
Surprisingly enough, Reuben Reuben is recognized at the castle!!
But the poor unnamed servant dies almost immediately!!
So, Reuben Reuben wakes up to find a dead guy, so naturally he freaks. He runs all about the castle, trying to find a way out, when he discovers:
Yes, all of his ancestors were named Reuben Reuben. Every single one of them. All named Reuben Reuben.
Must have made his Ancestry.com search a lot easier is all I'm saying...
But the hall is filled with more than paintings:
And how, exactly, will these ghostly ancestors help him??
Ah, so the orphan is going to get strength and speed and wisdom and other stuff from dead people. Hmm, this is really starting to sound familiar. How familiar?
Oh, come on now!!
Let's run the Billy Batson checklist here, shall we? Young orphan (check!) meets old guy with long beard (check!) who gives him the super abilities of those long dead (check!), which he accesses with a magic phrase (check!) that summons a meteorological effect (check!) which turns the boy into an adult superhero (check!). Oh, an the orphan would go on to work for a news organization (CHECK!).
Captain Marvel is very, very very flattered, is all I'm saying.
So, Reuben Reuben decides that his first task should be to bust up that evil orphanage. But man, it is a REALLY evil orphanage:
And not just regular REALLY evil--it's Wertham-level evil!!
But, of course, as in so many Captain Marvel stories, the gag is dislodged, and...well, speaking of Wertham:
Really, there's nothing wrong with a shirtless stud who is really a young boy putting an adult over his knee and spanking him...
Someone must have liked Red Rube, because he immediately took over as the cover feature of Zip Comics, displacing Steel Sterling.
But Zip Comics lasted only another year, folding with issue #47. That was the last anyone heard of poor Red Rube. Despite the umpteen revivals of the "Archie" heroes by various hands over the past 65 years, no one has so much as mentioned Red Rube. Maybe it was because he was so heavily derivative of another (better and more well-known) character, that no one knew what to do with him. Or maybe that "costume" just wouldn't cut it in the Comics Code era...put on a shirt, Rube!!
So, I think we're going to have to vote thumbs down here. What do you think, new judge J-Lo?
Ummmm.....uhhhhhh......urrrr.....whatever you say, ma'am.