(Before we start, I’d like to acknowledge a matter pertaining to my post from a few days ago. It seems that a certain really cool catch-all blog about Bruce Campbell I regularly peruse thinks I may have slighted the Chin when I said he was probably too old to play a certain comics character. I in no way intended disrespect. Bruce Campbell is my favorite actor and a god among men. If he were to star in the film, I’d be the first in line. The studio, however, may think otherwise. Alas, alack. I promise to only use my internet powers for good from now on.)
It’s that time of the year again; the Superbowl is back on our television screens. What a perfect opportunity to spotlight one of my favorite superheroes of all time– the only hero I know of sponsored by the National Football League!
Yeah. That’s right. It’s exactly who you think it is.
35. NFL SuperPro
I don’t even like football, but I love SuperPro.
This comic is considered the worst thing Marvel’s ever put out, and the writer, Fabian Nicieza, is apparently deeply ashamed to have done it, but I say balderdash! The kid I used to be thought this was a great comic, and the adult I’m supposed to have become still finds joy in it. Heck, I’ve even written about it before for CSBG (and I’m still going to have Nicieza sign these things for me if I ever meet him).
Phil Grayfield was a former football star, permanently sidelined when he busted his knee saving a small child. He became a sports reporter, and one day stumbled upon a kooky football uniform built by a crazy scientist. The suit cost five million dollars to make and was so tough that it was even bulletproof. Naturally, some hoodlums break in, there’s a fire, Phil gets doused in chemicals and has to put on the suit to save the day. And then… a legend was born! (Of course, Phil essentially steals the suit to begin his crimefighting career, and is only able to wear it thanks to a gaping plot hole, as the suit was supposed to have been “individually molded” to the wearer to begin with.)
(Yep, that’s right. Guest-starring LT! Up yours, Wolverine and Ghost Rider. LT is the best guest-star for a 90’s comic.)
Wacky adventures ensued for ol’ Phil, who fought cool baddies like Crossbones, the Constrictor, some football kicker-turned-ninja, strange steroid freaks, evil businessmen, crime bosses, and the most interesting baddie of all, Instant Replay, a hired killer who could skip back and forth through time. Eventually he got so screwed up that he’d keep popping in and out, with the words in his sentences getting crossed. He was neat, dangit.
Fabes may have started the book, but multiple writers had control of it during its short run of 12 issues. Buzz Dixon wrote #6, an issue that was allegedly pulled off of shelves due to its portrayal of the Hopi tribe. I don’t remember it too well, but I do know I own that one, so it couldn’t have been recalled too carefully.
And yeah, there were Ron Frenz covers, but Jose Delbo did the interiors.
I’ll share a memory with you. I’m a young’n, so the first (or one of the first) comics I ever owned featuring Captain America was NFL SuperPro #8, where Phil and Steve teamed up to fight Crossbones. I distinctly remember a scene where Cap is sucking poison out of SuperPro’s leg. It was a fun comic. I guess those were more innocent times… which is a damn shame, as this wasn’t even fifteen years ago.
Alas, SuperPro was cancelled after #12, and Marvel can’t reprint the series because the NFL has at least part of the rights. That’s why Phil never appeared in Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Team-Up (though he did at least get a mention– Stilt-Man claimed to have beaten SuperPro up). Kirkman probably loves 90’s superheroes more than I do!
If it was up to me, we’d have SuperPro back in some capacity. Maybe we could get around the licensing issue by having SuperPro stripped of his NFL sponsorship due to a steroid scandal and public outing of his secret identity, revealing that he’d stolen the suit. That’d make SuperPro a hard luck hero, a guy who still wants to do the right thing but whose life went down the crapper. It’d be a fun satire on some of today’s plotlines. Why can’t this SuperPro show up on the roster of a Nextwave-like team? Call ’em, oh… the Offenders, or something. Throw in D-Man and one of the Deathloks and maybe Gilgamesh. Bam!
Is SuperPro silly? Of course he is. Does that make him any less brilliant? Hell no. Something can be ridiculous and wonderful at the same time, and I think that description applies to good ol’ NFL SuperPro.
The esteemed Dave Campbell and, er, some guy disagree. They claim the comic is incredibly stupid. Still, the articles are worth reading. I got a kick out ’em, at any rate, and they include scans of the interiors!
SuperPro– Dumb? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely. Now, which side would he take in the Civil War…?