Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blinded By The Light


Name This Marvel Villain??

You certainly wouldn't want this guy around in today's economic climate, because he has absolutely no sympathy for banks:

And brother, you'd better believe that goes double for bankers:

If you think his costume looks familiar, you may be remembering a hero who fought crime in comics' Golden Age, decades ago:

But Bob Grayson, known as the crime-fighting Marvel Boy, has obviously jettisoned any scruples he may have had about killing, and he certainly isn't the hero we knew from the 1950s. He's even picked up a new name:

The Crusader is a prime example of what a little misguided vengeance will do to even the noblest of spirits. Bob Grayson spent his childhood on Uranus, where his father fled with him while Hitler was amassing power in Europe. Yet his father still felt a sense of obligation to his homeworld, so he sent Bob back to be a crimefighter, equipping him with special devices which would supplement his powers. But the time came when Bob needed money in order to secure medical supplies for the Uranus colony, so he applied for a loan--a loan which was turned down by Calvin McClary, the banker lying face-down from the Crusader's assault pictured above. Delayed and forced to get the money he needed through other sources, Bob finally returned to Uranus--only to discover his friends and family had been killed when a natural disaster breached their protective dome. Yet, crazed and broken-hearted, Bob ultimately blamed the corporate banks, thinking that he might have been able to help if he'd only been able to secure the funds he needed in a timely fashion.

So Bob, leaving behind the innocence of his Marvel Boy identity and taking on the vengeful demeanor of the Crusader, returned to Earth to lash out at those he blamed for his loss. It was an interesting twist on the original character by writer Roy Thomas, though it called on readers to believe that a hero of the Golden Age would completely snap and go on a murdering spree against members of a race he had fought to protect--as well as irrationally blaming them for deaths which were caused not by their actions, but by a planetary disaster.

And it would be a tragic, and fatal, end for Bob Grayson, who was incinerated when his wrist bands overloaded while battling the Fantastic Four. And even in the final moment, he lays the cause for his search for "justice" at the doorstep of the last person who would want to see his legacy take such a turn for the worse:

The Crusader's wrist bands survived his death, and they've gone on to be worn and used by any number of super-beings--from "Marvel Man" (a/k/a Quasar), to the daughter of Captain Marvel, to even the Silver Surfer.  Let's hope none of them are ever turned down for a loan.


Terence Stewart said... glad you didn't go for the joke so obvious about Bob spending time on Uranus...
Actually one of my fondest Bronze Age Fantastic Four tales, mostly cos I was a sucker for continuity and old characters being brought back into play. Roy Thomas was great for that at Marvel, but I didn't like it so much when he did it at DC.

Comicsfan said...

I did enjoy a lot of those heroes Thomas brought out of mothballs. There was a What If...? story published about 3 years later that Thomas was behind, with Marvel Boy and a few other '50s characters as part of a team, which I'm curious to pull from my shelves and read again, as long as I'm in a nostalgic frame of mind. :)

Terence Stewart said...

Ah..the What If...the Avengers formed in the 50s? Good one!

Kid A said...

Yes! That What If story was the impetus for the fantastic but short-lived Agents of Atlas series Marvel did a few years ago. It was only later when I discovered the What If issue did I realize that the team up wasn't originated recently. Great stuff,

Comicsfan said...

I recently took a look at issue 3 of the Agents of Atlas series (the one solving the discrepancy with "The Crusader"), and it's certainly plausible enough--about as plausible as the Jean Grey/Phoenix explanation, which it's somewhat similar to. And it covers some important bases. The odd and unstable personality change of "Marvel Boy"--check. The character's ramped-up powers as the Crusader--check. It raises a few more issues that seem a little contrived, but it works for the most part. And I think it makes for an interesting segment to the Atlas series itself, which is very well written and entertaining.