As all geeks (looking at you, Djmmm) know, every Wednesday (and Thursdays when Monday was a holiday or something) is that most hallowed of days, new comic book day. In the spirit of that most beautiful of days, I present a new feature spotlighting the potentially awesome confluence of sports and comics.
I recently spent two weeks in scenic (no, really, it sort of is) East Lansing, Michigan, having somehow scammed my college of choice into funding my research into a little something called Centaur Comics. Ultra-quickly, they were a fifth-rate (much like this blog) comic book publisher back in the late thirties and early forties, during the so-called Golden Age of comics. They trotted out a variety of oddball heroes, including an honest-to-goodness centaur, a ventriloquist-turned-detective, and a giant flying eyeball that may or may not be God. So yeah, no lack of creativity over at Centaur. Sanity is a whole 'nother issue.
They also did a bunch of stories that mixed elements of the emerging superhero genre with the world of sports, producing predictably bizarre results. Today we spotlight a steroid parable written six decades before anyone even realized that was an issue. Of course, the whole thing is about the virtues of performance-enhancing substances and how people who use them are heroes. Start taking notes right now, disgraced major leaguers. The key to your redemption may well lie within these pages.
First of all, the set-up. From the comic:
Dashford (Dash) Dartwell is a student at Dravrah University and a member of the "scrub" track team. However, his interest in track is secondary to his new interest in the research of Dr. Drew Moss, Professor of Bio-Chemistry at Dravrah. An added attraction is Bettie Moss, Dr. Moss's lovely daughter.
1. Dashford? I think I know what I'm calling my children. Yes, all of them.
2. Dravrah? I would make a crappy joke here about how I bet its rival is "Elay", but, um...that's actually the name of its rival. Oh, that crazy forties-style wordplay!
3. Bettie Moss? If I didn't know better, I'd call that a cheap knock-off of Hulk love interest Betty Ross. Just because it was made twenty years earlier doesn't prove anything!
OK, with that out of the way, let's take a look at the story itself. Professor Moss has just created "metabo-tablets", and he's the first to admit he doesn't have the faintest idea what they'll do...
Leaving the really questionable medical ethics aside for a moment (I mean, shouldn't he first force-feed a bunch of rats ten times the recommended dosage before he even thinks about human tests?), I'm pretty sure the "But I'm not even going to play anyway, so it's OK!" line later became the core of Alex Sanchez's defense.
Meanwhile, a bunch of mobsters with apparently nothing better to do than fix an Ivy League (sorry...Yvi Eugael) track meet kidnap all the top runners, forcing the coach to use the now-medicated Dash...
Frankly, I don't know what Dash was ever doing on the second team in the first place. I mean, his name is Dash Dartwell. For crying out loud, hasn't the coach ever heard of nominative determinism? Anyway, now that the performance-enhancers have kicked in, Dash does the only reasonable thing - demand to be in every single race. Of course, I'm sure he'll take things easy, using his amazing new powers to only just win. Right? Right!?
Because I've very legitimately got nothing better to do, here's a comparison of the modern records in those various events with Dash's marks...
100 Yard Dash: 9.72 seconds vs. 3.5 seconds (Dash)
High Jump: 8 feet vs. 19 feet
Broad Jump: 29.4 feet vs. 70+ feet
And that's without sixty years worth of improved conditioning. So, um, yeah, holy shit. Way to be inconspicuous, Dash. The best part, of course, is where there are no repercussions whatsoever. Hell, no one even vaguely questions whether these completely impossible results are on the level. His coach only gets concerned when the tablets start to wear off and he almost loses. OK, that last part is pretty believable, but still.
Well, OK, there is one repercussion. Those violent mobsters are going to try to kill him. But in terms of oversight from the governing athletic body? None. None whatsoever. And what's the press's reaction?
That's right, they're total suckers for the great story. Huh. Maybe this isn't that ridiculous after all.
Also, Dr. Moss? You're giving the credit for three world records to "you, with the help of my metabo-tablets"? With the help? Yes, in much the same way the Apollo astronauts reached escape velocity with the help of the Saturn V. Or, if you'd prefer sports-related, in much the same way Jud Buechler won three NBA championships with the help of Michael Jordan.
Well, anyway, Dash fights the angry mobsters and defeats them because he's, well, really fast. He also wears a suit the whole time while fighting crime, which is strangely badass. All of which leads to...
And so, because he uses his incredible drug-fueled powers to not only rewrite the record books but also to beat the crap out of some local gangsters, Dash Dartwell is a superhero. All I know is, if Barry Bonds starts busting skulls in the Bay Area, I think we'll know which comic book he started reading. Well, assuming those skulls belong to criminals. I could also see him as a super-villain. Either way, it really seems like his only logical career move. Other than Taiwan of course. You can't be extradited if the US doesn't recognize the country!
In any event, remember the timeless lesson of Dash Dartwell - drugs makes sports better! Yay for performance-enhancing substances!
Join us next Wednesday for another Comics & Sports entry where our friend Dash will use his tablets to hit more home runs. No, seriously. I swear that's actually going to happen.