Thursday, August 1, 2013

Golden Age Idol--The Stuntman!!

It's time once again, campers, it's time for Golden Age Idol, the feature wherein I find some obscure (and public domain) super-hero to revive (and hopefully make a billion dollar finders' fee from).

Today's candidate is not all that obscure, but I find the premise alluring. It's Simon and Kirby's The Stuntman!!

I can already hear you tuning out--a stunt man as a costumed hero? How trite! How boring! How Lee Majors!

Well, just bare with me here...

Fred Drake is the youngest member of the Flying Apollos, an acrobatic trapeze team at the circus...

After the owner refuses to sell the circus to a shady operator, well, trouble happens:

Yes, I know, it's pretty much the exact same origin as Robin. And he's named Drake, too!! How meta can you get?

But then Fred catches someone rummaging through the circus' papers...


Movie star AND amateur detective? OK, things are getting interesting here...

Yes, this is our set-up: picture George Clooney also working as an amateur investigator after a day's shooting, and he finds someone who looks EXACTLY like him, so he hires the guy to be his stunt man. The premise sells itself.

Oh, and because he wants a macho reputation, Clooney Dan Daring doesn't tell anyone he has a stunt man. He just sends the double in to film the action scenes for him without anyone being the wiser:

And the leading lady is so impressed, she falls in love with the guy she thinks is Dan Daring...

But wait, we haven't got to the good part yet. Drake is still intent on finding the killer of his friends, so when he's off-duty...

So he saves the day, catches the killer (who is eaten by a lion!), and disses on Daring for being a crap detective:

But they maintain their movie arrangement, and, well, a love triangle bloom:

The covers of Stuntman were pretty freaking cool for the time, drawn to look like hardcover book covers:

And Simon and Kirby kept up the "novellette" theme by having stories begin with wigged-out freaky double-page spreads (click to embiggen to full radness):

Unfortunately, 1946 was the wrong time to launch a new super-hero franchise,and Harvey canceled the book after two issues (a third was printed as a black & white ashcan to meet some legal subscription requirements; pencils and covers for an unpublished 4th issue exist out there somewhere).

The stories were reprinted hither and yon by Harvey in the 40s and 50s, and then the character faded away. AC Comics brought him back in the late 90s, but I believe that was just reprints, no new stories.

So here we have a character created by Kirby and Simon, apparently in the public domain, with a famous actor who's a (terrible) private dick in his spare time who has an exact double who is his secret stunt man AND a super-hero. The fact that this hasn't been revived by someone (hello, Dynamite?) is baffling...and the fact that it hasn't been optioned as a movie/series is even more baffling. Do I have to do everything myself, people?!?

From Stuntman #1 & #2 (1946), as reprinted in Thrills Of Tomorrow #19 & #20 (1955)

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