Monday, November 11, 2019

Give it up for... Rick Jones, Folk Legend!

Five bucks buys you a chance to solve this

Marvel Trivia Question

How and when did Rick Jones become an overnight singing sensation?

All right, we've known since Day One that Rick Jones was musically inclined.

But just as his new existence as "host" to Captain Marvel was getting off the ground, it would be a cafe waitress named Trina who would point Rick in the direction of what would become his big break as a performer.

And the rest, as they say, is agony ... er, history.

In November of 1969, Rick found his course changed by writer Roy Thomas, as, up until now, Rick had hitched his wagon to the Hulk, then to the Avengers, and then to Captain America before finding a pair of nega bands that would link his fortunes instead to Mar-vell. Now, however, Thomas feels that Rick, at the tender age of seventeen, can also be the next big thing in entertainment, yet needs to pay no dues but only a "fiver" to become an instant singing sensation. All it takes is a caption to seal the deal.

Though even Thomas perhaps feels the need to have Rick stumble a little on what will otherwise be a fast track to stardom--a budding star who, as it turns out, can't hack a heckler without going all Bucky on him.

But even a teenager who rates an Avengers I.D. needs management if he's going to seek out a stage career--and Mordecai Boggs is nothing if not Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to new talent.

For now, however, Rick is (not to go all '70s on you) playing it cool where his singing gigs are concerned--and why not, with his audiences practically tripping over themselves in appreciation?

(Come on, now--aren't you wondering if someone, somewhere, ever put music to Thomas's lyrics?)

And speaking of tripping, you have to be one talented teenager for your singing to send the Sub-Mariner into a meltdown.

I'm sure Namor is referring to the pain, not Rick's performance. Or they could be synonymous.

Yet Boggs doesn't get the green light to manage Rick's career until writer/artist Jim Starlin takes over and resuscitates the Captain Marvel book. Though when Steve Englehart takes over as scripter, Rick discovers that Boggs isn't quite ready to let Rick stand on his own two feet, choosing instead to pair him with a partner as part of an opening act for headliners.

(Boggs is a bit mistaken as to where his first meeting with Rick took place--not in a New York cafe, but one located in a small city near the desert area where Rick discovered the nega-bands.)

It seems that Boggs has an instinct for keeping Rick's feet on the ground. Unfortunately, Rick has a tendency to leave the ground and zoom off with Mar-vell at a moment's notice--in this case, to the moon, where they tangle with the Lunatic Legion before becoming involved with the trial of the Watcher. But there's some good news along the way--Rick and Mar-vell have finally managed to return to their existence as two separate beings.

By now, nearly six years have passed for you and I--and though time moves much more slowly for comics characters, even Rick is a little taken aback by his new audiences upon his return to Earth. Welcome to mid-1975, pal.

But like Rick, Mar-vell has also found cause to turn his back on where he believed himself to belong--and with their next destination the Kree homeworld, it'll be awhile before Rick finds himself in front of a mic once more.

It's not until 1977 (our time) when Rick and Mar-vell are ready to resume their lives on Earth. And with writer Scott Edelman now in charge of Rick's lyrics, Rick continues to soar--this time as a solo act at last.

And a year later, while Mar-vell is engaged in a rematch with the detonating power of Nitro, we see that Rick has a new girlfriend, as well as an opportunity to bring his career to new heights...

...that is, until Rick leaps at the chance to rejoin Mar-vell in an extended conflict involving Drax the Destroyer (and eventually Gertie, as well) that would take them all the way to Saturn's moon, Titan. Way to ditch your manager, your road crew, and your fans at a moment's notice, R.J.!

Yet by 1980, we see that Rick's career is pretty much immune to bad press or bruised feelings when we catch up to him (though it seems that Boggs has finally severed ties with his once-prized client). And with his decision to re-engage with looking after the welfare of the Hulk, as well as with (heaven help us) the Teen Brigade, it appears Rick as a character has come full circle, though, in a way, back to square one.

It also appears that Rick's fame wasn't as widespread as we might have thought, if Betty Ross's opinion of him is any indication:

If memory serves, Rick's only other claims to fame were as the author of "Sidekick," his autobiography, as well as a dalliance with co-hosting a talk show; but the bulk of his time from this point was spent being involved in the affairs of the Hulk as well as with Genis, the son of Mar-vell. Those decisions wouldn't necessarily preclude him from ever taking the stage again, even nearly fifty years after the fact; after all, he wouldn't be the first performer to begin a second act and cash in on the nostalgia circuit. But in that event, don't be surprised to see Namor head for the deep for the duration.


Big Murr said...

Rick also had a moderate degree of success as "A-Bomb", the blue-scaled monstrous powerhouse. Never his own comic title, to be sure, but he made the rounds until "Doc Green" took the gamma power away.

I need illumination. It seems an axiom here at "Power of Comics", from posts and comments, that Rick is a Horrible Singer. Why? Just to bust his chops? Because the lyrics don't scan? There are a lot of number one hits out there with lyrics that cannot endure being read cold in print.

How he could have any sort of popularity or management in the biz is a mystery. With him bouncing off on super shenanigans at a moment's notice, he'd be a bit high risk to book as a feature act. He'd be pretty much reduced to busking and open mic nights for making a singing buck.

dangermash said...

Is the intention of this post to troll the Steve Does Comics regulars?

Tiboldt said...

Some people are just jealous of talent. A best-selling author and musician with his album, "The Incredible Rick Jones," going multi-platinum, Rick's work spans the generations. It must have, he's been in it for nearly 50 years. And he's had no work done.

According to the Marvel fandom wiki, Rick was playing "That'll be the day" when he was found by Banner at the gamma bomb test. Not a tune I'd play on the harmonica.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, Rick Jones was doing the acoustic guitar in a Greenwich Village coffee house thing in '69/70, and didn't drop uh... vitamin C til a few years after that - of course his music was terrible.
Plus he was Rick Jones, so it stands to reason. No doubt in his head he was the voice of a generation, but I expect he was more of a third rate James Taylor (ouch).


Comicsfan said...

I can't presume to speak for everyone, Murray, but I sense the root of the problem that readers might have with Rick's, uh, "calling" might be related to the number of hats that Thomas and other writers have had Rick try on in order to justify his status as a recurring character who can't really explain what he's doing in a story. No one, for instance, would suggest that Sue Richards needs to raise her profile in the FF by supplementing her abilities with martial arts skills--but in what must be the fastest track to a black belt in history, she manages to beat Iron Fist in her first duel. What was the point of the makeover? Beats me. I kind of liked the Invisible Woman, to be honest, particularly since she had long since become skilled in the use of her powers and became more of an asset (and more interesting) in due time. It could have been worse--had Chris Claremont stayed with the book, she could have been the next Psylocke, a telepath who morphed into, of all things, a ninja. I can't recall when Psylocke wanted to be a ninja, but I must have missed it somewhere.

But then there's Rick. This person goes from operating a ham radio with his pals, to looking after Bruce Banner's welfare out of a sense of obligation, to, well, I don't know what with the Avengers, to expecting to become an Avenger, to suiting up as Captain America's partner, to sharing an existence with Captain Marvel, to... wait for it... becoming a singer/guitarist/performer/songwriter (lyrics and music, mind you) in the time it takes to say "...and there's a road out there, but it don't lead nowhere..." IMO, it's not so much that Rick is being mocked for his singing ability, as for perhaps a singing ability that arrived gift-wrapped as yet another hat to try on.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least he's not Justin Beiber.
It could be worse.


tsj017 said...

Just be glad we didn't see the Teen Brigade become a Beatles-like group circa the British Invasion.

"Rick, you can't leave now! We're on Ed Sullivan tonight!"

"But the Hulk needs me! I can't let him down!"