Thursday, April 15, 2010

Golden Age Blue Beetle & Sparky

Yesterday my lame superhero side-kick featured name of the day was Spark or Sparky. Today my lame side-kick name is - are you ready for it?? - Sparky!! This Sparky was from Fox Features Syndicate and he was side-kick to Blue Beetle, one of the most popular superheroes of the Golden Age and a character who's still operative today. Blue Beetle got his start in Mystery Men Comics #1 and later got his own title. He was, in reality, rookie cop Dan Garrett, one of those incorruptible types the bad guys can never subvert. He meets another one of those mad... OK, maybe eccentric, scientists named Dr. Franz. The good doctor has been working on a strength-enhancing formula, this time called vitamin 2-X, which would give its user superhuman strength for a short period of time. Dr. Franz selects Dan as the likeliest pill-popper and the rookie cop soon adopts the superhero persona of the Blue Beetle, creating a costume made of chain mail that will deflect bullets. In the 14th issue of his own comic Blue Beetle gets his side-kick, Sparkington J. Northrup (bet this kid got beat up on the playground a lot), who adopts a similar chain mail costume and pops the vitamin pills of his mentor. I understand the character later lost the costume and called himself Spunky - yeah, that was an improvement. Fox eventually got out of the comic book business and sold Blue Beetle to Charlton Comics, who updated and gave him a different identity and costume. The character was also - very briefly - published by AC Comics before moving on to DC, where he still resides today. As for the action figures, Blue Beetle was made from a Superpowers Collection Aquaman body, which I liked because the upper part looks like scales or chain mail, and a Toy Biz Daredevil head. The Sparky figure was made from various military figure parts - basically similar to 3 3/4" GI Joe figures. Sparky appeared both with and without the beetle on his chest and I chose to represent him without - after all, there's no beetle in his name.
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