Friday, January 25, 2013

Gallery of a Golden Age

Historians pin the Golden Age from between 1941 and The Falcon verdict in 1970, but those are just arbitrary dates in a text book. There are still a few lunatics out there, bedecked with more tiny pouches a pack of pygmy kangaroos, carrying swords and guns bigger than a Buick while patrolling the rooftops and scaring the living shit out of muggers and jaywalkers. But they are only the dying embers of a bygone fire.

The fall of The Flaming Falcon was the beginning of the end. He declared bankruptcy soon after he lost a personal injury lawsuit brought by a man he saved from falling off a bridge. True, the guy suffered third degree burns and a fractured pelvis, but when the alternative is certain death a little leeway might be expected. Nevertheless, it was the first pebble in the landslide that saw lawsuits and tougher laws brought up every time someone was hit by an errant plasma bolt or had their home of place of business destroyed by battling supers. Then the so-called 'Powers Law' was voted in specifically to convict El Toranada after he punched Sonicboomer into that hospital.

Most retired quietly after that, nursing their battered bodies and trying to make due on government pensions and food stamps. For every millionaire with a hideout full of gadgets, there were a dozen pizza delivery boys, freelance photographers and secretaries out every night trying to make a name for themselves. But there are no pension plans for being a caped crusader and charities like Help for Heroes are still out there making sure that the remaining old timers don't slip too far down into the cracks.

The villains, ironically, had an easier time of it. Sure, you may be serving three hundred and twenty six consecutive death sentences like Immortalicus, but at least you a roof over your head, three meals a day and conjugal visits on the government's dime. Others, like Killatonne got into military contracting and now owns the second largest corporate conglomerate in the world.

Nowadays, most 'supers' as they have come to be called, usually end up using their talents in a related field like the guy I saw carrying a cement mixer around a construction site. Those that want to fight join the military or police force, or sign up for Ultimate Power Wrestling. The urge to show off is pretty strong and California is chock full of supers, all clamoring to become the next Mark Morpho or Seductress, but usually ending up as stunt-people or on reality shows like 'Super Island' or 'Hero House'. Most I think, just trudge along like the rest of us in our unfulfilling little jobs, but at least they can heat their frozen burrito without a microwave or fly in instead of getting snarled in traffic.

But it hasn't always been like this. Like all kids I had a fascination with the greats. I had The Captain bedsheets, Star Kid action figures and posters of The Lariateer, but somewhere along the way I had also picked up a comic book about Crusader. Something about that suit of armor appealed me and I was soon buying every magazine and pulp comic that so much as mentioned his name. I learned later that he had long since retired, but I by that time I had started collecting stories about other lesser known heroes and pursued the interest with a level of zeal only attainable by a young, socially awkward male. It is a deep and exciting time of our history that is only touched on by the flood of books surrounding the major names.

Lately, I've had cause to open my old scrapbooks and wrapped in the fuzzy pajamas of nostalgia, I started doing a little research, but was dismayed at how many of them didn't even come up on a Google search.

So I have decided to use this old blog to post some scans from those old scrapbooks and give a little history to some of these mostly forgotten heroes. Maybe you'll climb into the same fuzzy pajamas as I have.

That didn't come out right.
-P.P.

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