Sunday, August 09, 2009

Don't underestimate Superniceness. (The Best Comic Book Characters I'm Pretty Sure Only I Remember, 3)

I am never really far, maybe, from actually going back and buying more comic books, something I mostly stopped doing around 20. But comics pop into my head all the time, and then I read something like the Entertainment Weekly blurb about a Green Lantern comic that may involve Batman dying, and I think to myself maybe I should buy that comic book, and then I think to myself Maybe I should take The Boy with me to buy that comic book, transforming the idea from:

"40 year old man buys comic book"


"40 year old man introduces younger generation to love of reading and shared experiences with younger generation."

And then I reminisce more about comics, and tear the page out of Entertainment Weekly and tape it to the cupboard door above the coffee pot (next to the note Sweetie put up reminding me to go to the plumber's and get a shower handle and below the handouts the doctors gave us at the Babies! 2-year-checkup, handouts full of suggestions on how to get 2-year-olds to eat, suggestions which are comical in light of the fact that our 2-year-olds exist on whole milk and chocolate chip cookies, and, now, bananas provided that Mommy and Mommy only hold the banana while they eat it), and, having torn the page out and taped it up, I then drive into the office on a Sunday morning to do a little work but instead I continue my reminiscing about comics and find myself suddenly, out of the blue, recalling 'Mazing Man, another of the Best Comic Book Characters I'm Pretty Sure Only I Remember.

Character: 'Mazing Man.

What Was the Deal With 'Mazing Man? He was a little guy -- some say dwarf-- who found a helmet and decided to become a superhero, having not much better to do because he was independently wealthy already. So with his helmet and homemade costume, 'Mazing Man patrolled the streets of Queens, N.Y., preventing kids from eating cigarette butts, helping his friend Denton The Dog Faced Boy, and, once, saving a kid from being run over by a truck.

His power was: Niceness, coupled with eccentricity. And that helmet, which had no powers other than being helmety.

Why I Remember Him: 'Mazing Man's comic book came out near the end of my comic-buying years, and marked, I think, a transition between comics and more adult reading. It had no superpowers, it had no archenemies or villains. Instead, it was a comically-illustrated series of vignettes about life in Queens, punctuated and described by two characters who adamantly didn't fit into real life. Also, it featured a couple named "Brenda and Eddie," and around that time, I also first heard Billy Joel's song Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, which also featured "Brenda and Eddie" (who were the popular steadies and the king and the queen of the prom). I recently added Scenes from an Italian Restaurant to my iPod's collection, and that probably jogged loose the memory of 'Mazing Man, the way that sometimes shaking a pair of pants before they're put in the washer can make the receipt from Wal-Mart fall out.

Are you serious about his powers? Oh, yes:

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