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Metamorpho, Nazi Scientists, Eyepatchs and…a Shirt Ad?!

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
Metamorpho, Nazi Scientists, Eyepatchs and…a Shirt Ad?!

This is Foggy Ruins of TIme, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of “Seinfeld” will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).

My pal Fraser wrote in with this one and it’s just so delightfully obscure that I couldn’t help but feature it.

Okay, to set the scene, in Brave and the Bold #57 (by Bob Haney, Ramona Fradon and Charles Paris), Rex Mason, soldier of fortune, is turned into Metamorpho the Element Man by an ancient meteor. Later, we learn that the Orb of Ra (which was part of the same meteor) can control Rex. The more important point for this particular story, though, is that before Rex was turned into Metamorpho, his girlfriend’s father, Simon Stagg, sent one of his henchmen to bring Rex to him to offer him the job of finding the orb (Stagg didn’t know it was going to turn Rex into Metamorpho, of course).

Note that this black-clad henchmen is not identified nor do we see him again in the issue.

Okay, so Stagg has the Orb and he knows he can control Rex and force him to still work for him.

The following issue, the henchmen WHO WE NEVER LEARNED THE NAME OF and who had only appeared on a SINGLE PAGE suddenly betrays Stagg and steals the orb and kidnaps Metamorpho, controlling him through the orb.

“Oh, no, not Karko! Not this guy we’ve never talked about ever before!”

Karko takes Metamorpho to an evil scientist, Tremaine, who worked with the Nazis during World War II…

Here’s the reference that Fraser wrote to me about, a reference that certainly makes no sense to modern readers…

One of the leading advertising executives of the mid-20th century was a British man named David Ogilvy.

In 1951, he debuted an ad campaign for a small shirt company called Hathaway shirts. The ad campaign featured a Russian Baron named George Wrangell and it gave the model an eye patch to wear, to make it stand out, making people wonder what this guy’s deal was…

It was one of the most successful ad campaigns of the 1950s. “The Hathaway Man” was a ubiquitous term there for a while.

Therefore, a man in an eye patch would easily be confused with the famous shirt ads, which were still running in the mid-1960s when Metamorpho was introduced.

Thanks to Fraser for the suggestion! If anyone else has a suggestion for a future edition of Foggy Ruins of Time, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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