Armagideon Time

This week’s entry in our parade of the unloved and forgotten dates back to the very dawn of the superhero era, pilule a time when fresh-faced visionaries lined up to sell their dreams to shady publishers for short money. 

Behold The Ultra Man!

…credited to Don Shelby and who made just short of a dozen appearances in All-American Comics, tadalafil starting with issue #8 (November 1939).

After losing both his parents in the First World War, Gary Concord dedicated his life and massive intellect to putting an end to armed conflict…by inventing a weapon so terrible that a resentful and fragile peace would be the only alternative (because that kind of thinking has worked out so well for us in the past). 

Unfortunately for Concord, the answer he had been seeking only appeared after the opening festivities of the Great War of 1950 (fought between the Orchestral Pop Alliance and the Cool Jazz Concordance) sealed him inside his secret subterranean lair and upended his stockpile of volatile chemicals…which conveniently combined to produce a soporific foam akin to NyQuil-flavored Cool Whip.

Trapped by the rising tide of somno-suds, Concord barely managed to jot down the formula for his “invention” before settling down for a foam-induced nap.  Upon awakening into the Art Deco futurescape of the 23rd Century, Concord discovered that his superhuman physique — a side effect of long-term foam exposure — and old-fashioned can-do attitude were in high demand by the beleaguered United States of North America. 

Got all that?  Good, now forget it, because the focus of the series was actually on Gary Concord’s lookalike son, Gary Junior, High Moderator of North America and the snappiest dressed world leader of 23rd Century Earth.  (In the be-short shorted darkness of the retro-future, there is only nepotism.)

As strange a decision it was to make Ultra Man a legacy character out of the gate, the actual stories — featuring Gary Junior and his anachronistically streetwise sidekick Guppy punching and blasting Future enemies who hate Future America for its Future Freedoms — aren’t that bad in a low-grade Alex Raymond kind of way.

The sci-fi “Rip Van Winkle” premise may have been a bit hackneyed even for 1939,  but Ultra Man was the product of a time when the superhero formula was still in embryo and very much beholden to outside influences.  In that respect, Gary Concord’s mix of Superman and Buck Rogers is a fascinating historical curiosity which approached the mark, but never quite arrived.  (That the series folded shortly after Green Lantern — a bona fide, by-the-numbers “superhero” — was introduced as All-American Comics’ flagship character is telling.)

While Gary Junior’s status as a forgotten historical footnote would have been qualified him in the most literal sense — barely remembered, much less beloved — his inexplicable return as a roided-up freak of nature…

…in 1996’s Legionnaires Annual #3 — where he led a team of Avengers analogues that included a regrettable slice of very metal absurdity…

— decisively earned the foam-powered fashion plate from the future the honor of being this week’s Nobody’s Favorite.

9 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Here comes yesterday”

  1. Erin Palette

    Forget the lack of nipples, he’s TOTALLY cornholing that guy on the cover! Right there in plain view, in 1939!

  2. Sallyp

    I’m just so stunned by the sight of those giant lipstick tubes delivering the “foam”,not to mention the incredibly perky breasts of the young lady in the first scan, that I can hardly bring myself to gaze upon Ultra Man’s bare-legged splendour.

  3. Dave White

    Erin, not only is he cornholing the dude in the center, look at the guy in the lower left – he totally knows he’s next and is getting out of there while the getting is good.

  4. Erin Palette

    Seriously, “Gary the Ultra Man” sounds like a great name for a gay porn star.

    I’m sorry, I just can’t take that cover seriously. It’s all “I will defeat evil… BY BUTTFUCKING IT!”

  5. Harvey Jerkwater

    I’m sorry, I just can’t take that cover seriously. It’s all “I will defeat evil… BY BUTTFUCKING IT!”

    Gary Concord was the Golden Age Bueno Excellente?

    Heh heh… Bueno.

  6. Harvey Jerkwater

    Whoop. That boldface text was meant to be in italics. My HTML, she is rusty.

    “Gary Concord, the Ultra Man” was in the DC Who’s Who back in the late eighties. Even in the company of so many lame and bizarre characters, ol’ Gary stood out as one who just didn’t belong. But I’ll give him this…he’s memorable. Granted, it’s in a “puke on grandma during church” kind of memorable, but he is hard to forget.

  7. Discount Lad

    He’s rocking the fin head look like his other namesake would in the 60s!

  8. Roger Langridge

    I always assumed Adam Strange was essentially an updated version of Ultra-Man. Their costumes are really similar if you remove the colour.

  9. nazz nomad

    those helio shafts remind me of something…

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