Saturday, November 26, 2016

Who Is Mr. Muscles?

I was reading through some old Charlton Comics online when I discovered a short-lived comic book series from 1956 titled MR. MUSCLES! Mr. Muscles is "the world's mightiest man... The most perfect specimen of manhood alive!" He's dynamic! He's vital! He's powerful! He's pretty darn strong! And his real name is Brett Carson.

Mr. Muscles' comic book numbering was odd, which isn't unusual for Charlton Comics. He appeared in MR. MUSCLES #22-23. No clue what comic book titles predated these numberings. But, again, that's pretty common for Charlton Comics.

MR. MUSCLES #22 started with an introduction and origin for our title character. The first story in that book had our hero performing all sorts of "astounding feats of physical strength" at a public event sponsored by the City Civic Associations. Men and women alike were oohing and ahhing over his "rippling muscles," his "magnificent body," and his Apollo-like appearance. Except for one man -- but more about him later!

Later, we readers are taken to Mr. Muscles' gym where he trains dozens of young men to become as physically fit as he is. Suddenly, he is called away to the local zoo to help with some unspecified emergency. He rushes away to save the day with the assistance of his young sidekick, Kid Muscles!

Yes, Kid Muscles. Because every hero needs his youthful companion:

It turns out that the Zoo-Keeper sent a fake alert to Mr. Muscles. He temporarily incapacitates our hero long enough to toss him in a cage full of tigers! Why? Because of Mr. Muscles' splendid physique! In comparison, the Zoo-Keeper is a twisted, skinny man. Why wouldn't he hate our hero??

Fortunately, Mr. Muscles is able to use his athletic abilities to repel and defeat the tigers. And then he is able to use his muscles to bend the bars in the cage, and throttle his captor!

Instead of calling the police, Mr. Muscle decides to share his origin tale with the Zoo-Keeper. He reveals that he too was a skinny weakling. Not only that, but he was paralyzed following a nasty case of polio! His doctors told him that he's never leave his bed.

But Brett Carson refused to allow something like polio to control his life! Using his enhanced powers of mind-over-muscle, Carson managed to move his fingers. He was congratulated by his doctors, who immediately told him that he'll never gain the ability to sit upright. Duly challenged, young Mr. Carson managed to rise up in his bed. Soon enough, he was out of bed and walking about like nothing had ever happened!

The man who would become Mr. Muscles decided right then and there that he would use the lessons learned from his deathbed to rule his future lifestyle. Never again would he allow any weakness to control his destiny. He would develop his body and mind into a state of absolute perfection!

Mr. Muscles' origin story inspired and challenged the Zoo-Keeper. Mr. Muscles gave the villain two choices: Jail or the Gym! The Zoo-Keeper chose the gym and began a rigorous process of body-building until he too transformed his scrawny limbs into muscular perfection!

I keep thinking that it would be great to read more stories about Mr. Muscles. He has the potential to be something big. We have a template here, but not much else. Somebody could do something really great with our hero and his teen sidekick.

Maybe that somebody could be me...

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