Friday, July 4, 2008

Brother Power, the Geek #1

Brother Power, the Geek #1 (On Sale: July 4, 1968) has a cover by the legendary Joe Simon, the creator of Brother Power. Man do I dislike the color on this one.

You can't say DC wasn't trying new ideas, as Joe Orlando reacalled in Comic Book Artist #1, "Carmine (Infantino) called me into his office and told me I was Joe Simon's editor. Joe had Brother Power the Geek's first issue written and drawn so I just did the paperwork. I didn't think that it was my kind of book but it was Joe Simon! Can I give him corrections?! Not me! Am I going to stand in the way of the man who originated Romance comics? So Brother Power, the Geek did not become the Newsboy Legion but it was fun working with Joe"

This first issue, "A Thing is Born," credits the story and art to Joe Simon, yet it has been widely reported that in actuality the book was co-written by Jack Oleck and drawn by Al Bare and Bill Draut. Regardless of the actual creators, the first issue opens with a motorcycle gang running over a group of hippies. Seeking refuge, some of the hippies hide in a tailor shop, and one of them puts his clothes on an old dummy to dry them by the radiator. The dummy is struck by lightning and comes to life. The motorcycle gang burst in, and the dummy fends off their attack.

The hippies quickly dub him Brother Power and alternately, the Geek (the book was originally supposed to be called “The Freak” but higher-ups at DC thought that was too drug-related). They teach the Geek to talk, but naturally it is their version of English is 60’s comic book hippie lingo.

Our two hippie friends and Brother Power go to the Psychedelic Circus Parade, but it’s actually a trap by the motorcycle gang from earlier, the Mongrels. Brother Power is kidnapped, and the hippies band together to save him, dressing in weird superhero costumes. It’s described in the actual dialogue as a “comic book hero happening!” There is a huge fight which also involves a strong man, but the good guys get free and Brother Power becomes leader of the flower children.

After this, Brother Power decides to run for congressional office (I'm not making this up), but the gang comes after him. Confronted by the gang again there is another fight and and then the cops get involved. The book ends with Brother Power driving a motorcycle off a bridge to a watery doom.

To say this is not your typical DC comic book is to put it mildly. According to Simon, the concept behind Brother Power was derived heavily from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, right down to reanimation with the use of lightning. At the same time, Simon was also attempting to capture the sort of "wandering outcast philosopher" characterization that made Marvel Comics' Silver Surfer a cult hit amongst the college student readers of the period.

Brother Power has long been regarded as one of the biggest flops in DC history; next issue being his last, but as I will go into next issue, the demise of Brother Power, the Geek had little to do, actually, nothing to do with sales. See you then.

Edited by Joe Orlando.


Norman Boyd said...

It's interesting what did actually make it across the Atlantic to the UK back in the 60s - this was one. I was so frustrated, all I wanted was Supes or LL and THIS was on display! Well, I gave in and bought whatever I could see - Marvels were rare back then!
Did I enjoy it? Well, yes and no. Yes, becuase it was as advertised - different! No, because it was such a far fetched story (said the guy who loved Jimmy as a werewolf etc!)
Thanks for the memories

Professor said...

Interestingly, I recently reviewed this issue at I couldn't stomach the thing, as you may read here:

Anonymous said...