Or – “I Seriously Looked For This One FOREVER!”

I’ve mentioned it before, but comic collecting is a very hit-and-miss kind of hobby.  For every time someone walks in with a Budweiser box full of Claremont/Cockrum X-Men, there are half a dozen people who want 1,000,000 bucks for the 1994 reprint copy of Action Comics #1.  (These are, by the way, true stories.)  For me, my most difficult finds include a complete run of Howard The Duck Magazine, all the 70’s Atlas Comics, the Defenders issue of Marvel Treasury Edition, and a complete run of Jack Q. Frost.  (The Q stands for Quick.  It’s best not to ask…)  But even those peculiar gems were easier to find than today’s book, a strange and esoteric gem, featuring a guest-appearance by President Jimmy Carter!  I’m about to have some 1970’s-era fun, Faithful Spoilerites, and y’all get to come along for the ride.

Writer(s): Vincent A. Fusco/Donald M. Kasen/Jason V. Fusco/Barry Van Name/Donald White/Joseph Giella/Audrey Hirschfeld
Artist: Joe Giella
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Uncredited
Editor: Barry Van Name
Publisher: Atomic Comics/Wavelength Holographics/Power Records
Cover Price: $5.00 (Current Near-Mint Price: $14.00)

Previously, on The Adventures of Holo-Man: Back in the day, Peter Pan Records was probably best known for their read-along record/book combinations featuring famous cartoon characters.  During the 1970’s, under their Power Records imprint, they created multimedia adventures for G.I. Joe, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and the Marvel & DC heroes.  I fondly remember at least one Star Trek story from my youth, played incessantly on my personal turntable back when recorded audio required vinyl (and required care and extreme patience to play with.)  I wasn’t yet reading comics at the time this book came out, but when I discovered the concept of back issues, I was fascinated by one particular advertisement…

Being the person that I am, the existence of this strange, unknown hero captured my imagination, making me wonder about his unseen adventures.  It should be noted that I had that feeling a lot in those days, but as I aged, many of those adventures became available to me.  In college, I purchased a copy of Jeff Rovin’s invaluable ‘Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes,’ but even that book only gave a brief paragraph and one still-shot of the painted Bob Larkin cover.  Visits to Mile High Comics in Denver gave me no joy, and even Ebay didn’t help.  (In a fit of poetic irony, as I write these words, there are TWO copies available for less than fifteen bucks.)  Luckily, I work for a comic book store, and I was finally able to finagle a copy of this oversized edition (though mine did NOT come with the record.)  Our adventure opens with two foreign spies sabotaging an unseen experiment, in the hopes of an explosion.  Their target is none other than the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter!

The Commander-In-Chief has come to view a revolutionary non-pollutionary power experiment by Doctor James Robinson (who was still a few years away from deciding that what the DC Universe needed was Supergirl in tears and the brutal murder of a little girl) to create a controlling thermo-nuclear fusion blah blah blah phlebotinum.  Dr. Robinson (whose assistant peevishly points out, only works for PEACEFUL purposes) doesn’t find the duplicity until it’s too late, heroically pushes the Prez to safety and finds himself bathed in a strange energy blast that images his body onto one of the holographic plates and shoves him unprotected into the time-space continuum.

It should be noted that Laserman, in addition to looking remarkably like my mental image of the prophet Elijah, is NOT the bearded man who appears on the cover.  He tells Dr. Robinson that he has become a LIVING HOLOGRAM, and lists his powers:  generation of lifelike holograms, teleportation, invisibility, and looking like a head-shop black light poster.  Laserman gives him one final gift before sending him back to reality (OH!  There goes gravity!) as a whole new (super) man!

Art here is by Joe Giella, one of DC’s Silver Age workhorses, and Doc Robinson looks a bit like his rendition of Barry “Shoulda Stayed Dead” Allen, with freakier side effects.  The colors in this story are quite a bit more intense than an average comic (I suspect the paper is to blame) and I imagine they might be quite enjoyable after a “sandwich” or two with Kevin Smith.  Jim’s psychobilly freakout is interrupted by a two page explanation of how holography works, before discovering that he has been unconscious for hours, and that his assistant is an enemy agent…

“Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot…  I shall become… A TEST PATTERN!!!”  This is a pretty Silver Agey origin for the end of the Me Decade, but this book is a throwback in more ways that one.  Quickly and breezily accepting his career transition from super-scientist to human rainbow, Holo-Man instantly teleports from Dallas to Washington DC to confer with the man in the Oval Office…

A quick display of holography convinces President Carter than Holo-Man is on the up-and-up, and accepts the portents of an impending invasion.  The President sets off to notify the chiefs of staff while Holo-Man walks through the walls, only to find that things have progressed much more quickly than he could have imagined…

That next issue, sadly, was never delivered, at least for some value of ‘sadly.’  Holo-Man’s cliffhanger remains hung to this very day, for reasons unknown.  The Power Records range of comic adaptations did continue after this, which makes me wonder if their home-grown caped hero didn’t pull as many sales as Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Superman.  Either way, there were clearly plans for more Holo-Man, as the last page gives us this interesting glimpse of things that might have been to come…

Remember the mysterious mystical guy from the cover?  He’s here again, and the page seems to imply that he was Laserman, even though his face and beard are completely different.  That mystery continues to elude me, making this purchase absolutely justifiable, no matter how much the missus complains about my comics budget.  Another mystery comes in the fact that this book was advertised in comics during 1976 and 1977, but seemingly didn’t come out until 1978.  Given the lead time on comic books in those days, the issues were on the stands three to four months in advance of the publication date, but even so, I wonder how many kids ended up very frustrated by the wait for the actual book.  Or, could there have been an earlier printing?  The mind boggles.  Even if it’s a pretty standard story, there’s so much enthusiasm in the execution of this book that you kind of have to play along with its particular lunacy, accepting foreign spies, a topical Presidential reference and “future time dimensions” as easily as radioactive spider blood or rockets from dead planets.  The Adventures of Holo-Man: Birth Of A Hero #1 is flat-out fun, earning an unqualified, unrestrained, loopy as a *#&@$ loon 5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: What in the name of Magno Lad is a “future-time dimension,” anyway?  (And does anybody have a copy of the record that they want to share?)

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. April 11, 2011 at 1:32 am — Reply

    I have heard, and read some bizarre characters in my years in comics. But you really seem to be able to bring out the real weirdos.

    If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were making this up as you go.

    As for your question. A “Future-Time Dimension” is a pocket of space time that moves out of synch with our own, where the temporal flow has been sped up. If you should travel there for 5 minutes our time and you were already 29 years old, you’d come out near 100, if at all. They are tricky to escape.

    • April 11, 2011 at 8:35 am — Reply

      If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were making this up as you go.

      What fun would it be if I was just reviewing Deadpool and Wolverine fight Lex Luthor over and over again? That’s what Hollywood is for…

  2. Randallw
    April 11, 2011 at 3:45 am — Reply

    The one old comic I’d love to find again is Warmachine #5 because I love the villain. I saw it back when it first came out but I couldn’t afford comics back then. Then I managed to find two copies in a store up state once, but I was in a hurry and didn’t get either. Ever since I’ve wanted to find it again. I’ve even made up a way for the villain to have survived if at some point I get to write comics.


  3. Randallw
    April 11, 2011 at 3:47 am — Reply

    also Warmachine #6 if anyone’s offering. :)

  4. Bruce
    April 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    My brain hurts…..

    • April 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm — Reply

      My brain hurts…

      That’s just the future time dimension tweaking your melon.

  5. Stefanie
    April 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm — Reply

    Are you planning to do Hero Histories of Holo-Man and Laserman?

    • April 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm — Reply

      Are you planning to do Hero Histories of Holo-Man and Laserman?

      I just did. :D

  6. Stefanie
    April 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm — Reply

    Nevermind, I don’t want to break your comic budget.

  7. April 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm — Reply

    I still have my Power Records book with the origin of Superman on it. In it, he tells his origin to some kid he saves from getting run down by a truck. Always seemed like a lame excuse for him to reveal information that could have been used to identify his secret identity.

  8. Oldcomicfan
    April 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm — Reply

    I suppose it’s too much to ask if you are somehow making all this up. Where do you FIND this stuff? It certainly brings back the era. We are talking about the decade where Spiderman drove a red dune buggy with webbing painted on it, and Frank Miller was drawing stories where Batman encountered Santa Clause. But this one takes the cake. What’s next? A “Captain Kwik and a Foozle” Retrospective? Of course, this wasn’t the first attempt to market comic books with records, etc. I remember having a vinyl LP that had the Batman TV show theme on it and some kind of verbal drama on the rest of the record. That was sometime in the sixties. With what that record sells for on E-bay today I wish I hadn’t played it until the grooves were worn out. And what I’d give to still have my original LP of the Royal Guardsman “Snoopy and the Red Baron”. The downside of all this is walking into antique stores and seeing the same dang toys I used to own as a kid for sale as “antiques”! I ain’t THAT blasted old yet… hey! You kids! Get off the damn lawn! I tell ya…. eh…. what was I talking about? Better go gargle with some Geritol….

  9. Christopher Van Name
    September 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm — Reply

    My father is Barry Van Name, one of the creators of the Holo-Man comic book. If you are interested, I could probably get him to post the outlines of the other members of the Holo Squad along with the powers they were supposed to have. I do remember the the boy Wavelength had the power to communicate with animals much the same way that Aquaman can communicate with fish. I think he may also still have the outline of the sequel… at least still in his head anyway.


    • September 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm — Reply

      My father is Barry Van Name, one of the creators of the Holo-Man comic book. If you are interested, I could probably get him to post the outlines of the other members of the Holo Squad along with the powers they were supposed to have.

      That would be pretty awesome, sir… We’d absolutely be interested.

  10. Greg Forry
    May 26, 2015 at 8:46 pm — Reply

    I have a copy of Holo-man WITH the record. Also, have the book AND record with Superman versus the (gold bullet looking) “Alien Creatures”… :)

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