Two Staple Gold: J.L.A. #70
There’s just something about the Creeper I like. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the colors and offbeat costume or my affection for those on the B-List. What I can say for certain, there’s not too many great Creeper stories out there. I’ve enjoyed some of the original Ditko material but if someone were to ask me “what’s the greatest Creeper story ever told?”, I would reply it’s yet to be written.
When Justice League of America #70 (cover dated March 1969) landed on my desk, I was excited. Here it is, this could be the one! Not only is this book written by a legend in the field, just look at this cover. He toys with the League in all of his gaudy greatness.
The answer sadly is… no. This is not the book that breaks the mold for the Creeper. All is not lost though as this is the debut of a character that will change the DC Universe forever! Are you excited for the big reveal? No? Understandable as who I’m about to introduce would be lucky to get a kazoo serenade. Ladies and Germs, this is the first appearance of… Mind Grabber Kid!
“One thing is for sure, Dishpan hands need not apply”
Mind Grabber Kid gives the Creeper a run for his money in the tacky garments department but as we will come to find out, lacked the staying power. I’ll get more into that later. First, I mentioned a true luminary scripted this jazzy jaunt, so let’s talk the talents who put this together.
It was written by Denny O’Neil. Whew. I mean, c’mon. The man left classics at every turn of his career. His runs on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams are considered some of the most iconic books of their era. He also edited a Daredevil run by some guy called Frank Miller. GREATNESS.
Art chores were handled by Dick Dillin and Sid Greene. Dillin started drawing for Quality Comics, most notably on the Blackhawk series. He later moved on to DC and spent 12 years as the penciller on Justice League. Greene inked for many publishers for over 30 years but his true claim to fame was helping to define the look of DC’s Silver Age characters.
As promised, back to Mind Grabber Kid. I’ll affectionately refer to him as “Grabby” even though, unlike others in a position of power, he sticks with brainwaves only. He’s hitting the scene for the first time and busts up a robbery right out of the gate. Not too shabby. The onlookers however aren’t as impressed with his heroics as they are with the exploits of the J.L.A. being broadcast on TV in a nearby shop.
“We just got our asses kicked by…Forbush man???”
This fills Grabby with jealousy. So much so that when Shrek like Extra Terrestrials who love oven mitts send a transmission to Earth, he intercepts it with his mind and delivers a terrible reply. In a nutshell, he claims the League are just prick bastards that must be destroyed.
“All of our controls are hot…VERY HOT!”
Where is the Justice League of America while all this is going down? They’re terribly bored actually. Watching a baseball game is a option but leave it to Batman keep their biscuits busy. Well, provided he doesn’t have to do any of the work himself.
“Green Lantern speaks with his eyes and Batman’s getting the what’s up”
Investigate the Creeper it is then. Our mean yellow-green laughing machine is on a case of his own. He’s out to get the mob and finds out their next move is to rob an atomic power plant. Why? Honestly, we never find out but whatever it’s the groovy 60’s man. Pass the triple dipped white blotter and hop in the van, we have a wild three way to get to.
“Even further below, at the Earth’s core, nothing happens… but I had to keep it going”
The Creeper acts first, beating up mobsters with ease but the Atom jumps in and pulls a shit for brains move. Distracted, the Creeper gets K.O.’ed and Atom socks the bad guy. That’s all the proof the aliens needed that the JLA are bad for business. Screwed up sense of reasoning there but any excuse to don a Meta-Cap makes it worthwhile.
“Don’t forget your jackets! It’s chilly out there”
So what the heck is a meta-cap you say? Pretty dope gadgets actually. They can mimic and counteract the League’s powers. Disposing of them one by one, the aliens encounter a serious problem: Superman’s abilities. There’s just too much to try and imitate. I was actually surprised by the “super-suction”. I can only imagine when that comes in handy.
“Jeez G.L., that sucks..err..blows..umm…”
Don’t forget about our little buddy Mind Grabber Kid. He’s just kicking it at home and hears a news report on the radio about the ruckus. Time to throw the long johns back on baby! It’s also fairly rad that he could care less what his parents think. They just assume he’s taking part in a school play…or sniffing glue.
“Could have something to do with that Kooky crack pipe”
By the time Grabby arrives at the scene, the aliens had used some atomic junk to simulate a red sun, neutralizing Superman. These guys are legit! Oh wait, one problem. The Creeper registers as a normal human to all of their instruments and when it comes to fisticuffs, those oven mitts don’t cut the mustard.
“Yeah you have something in common, your both color blind ya knucklehead”
The Mobsters prove to be the dumbest criminals alive. Rather than taking the opportunity to high tail it out of there, they see this as a chance to whack the League. Grabby realizes his spite was misguided and it’s up to him to save the League. Using his telekinesis, he pulls Superman’s hand away from the red sun’s rays.
“Wurg? Must be the sound one makes while crapping their pants”
Superman bounces back and takes down the overzealous law breakers. He then plays the role of sneaky weasel and tells the Creeper to scoot. Grabby apologizes for lying to an entire race. Oddly, they just say whatevs and hit the road. Mind Grabber Kid learned a lesson on humility, finding inspiration in the Creeper. This kind of annoyed me. The whole book, Grabby keeps stating he is a regular Joe. The dude has some serious powers and is lucky he didn’t get his ass meta-capped into next week. Quite the whiny little bastard if you ask me. We end with everyone happy and the action wrapped up in time to finish watching the ball game.
“Nobody says liar, liar, pant’s on fire in outer space”
The word I would choose to sum this story up is goofy. That’s not a bad thing. It was so zany however, I was kinda expecting Brother Power the Geek to pop up out of nowhere. This is where it gets his entertainment value from as it’s truly a campy outing. Let’s not forget this dandy dropped in 1969, so the narrative was loyal to the whimsical comics kids enjoyed.
Earlier, I touched upon how this was not a Creeper classic and Mind Grabber Kid’s inability to go mainstream. They both still have merits. For the Creeper, his quality as an anti-hero is on full display. In many ways, he could be perceived as a Joker/Spider-Man amalgam. A misunderstood hero who cracks wise and opts to maniacally laugh when faced with danger. What’s not to love about a wildcard who’s intentions can be difficult to navigate as a tightrope.
Grabby…oh Grabby. At the conclusion of this issue, readers are urged to write in asking for his return. America’s youngsters must have forgotten to lick the stamps as he wasn’t seen again until 1992. Leave it to Grant Morrison to dust him off as “Mind Grabber Man” during his Seven Soldiers project roughly 12 years ago but to love him entitles you crazy cat lady status in comic book fandom.
Not the best story to ever see print, it still has a little bit of something for everybody and is worthy of your attention. Dig in on some early Denny O’Neill and enjoy the trip.
David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.
Images rights of DC Comics