Or – “In Honor Of That Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken. (No, Not Voldemort.)”
TIME FOR THE HALFTIME SHOOOOW! For those who didn’t know, there’s a copyrighted sports event happening in the states this evening, involving teams of guys with helmets engaging in ritual combat to control 300 yards of territory a little bit at a time. Whatever else happens during the game, at least we know it will be more entertaining than today’s Retro Review. The numbers prove it.
NFL SUPERPRO #1
Scripter: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Jose Delbo
Inker: Mike DeCarlo
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Editor: Bob Budiansky
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.00
Current Near-Mint Pricing: Check The Quarter Bin…
Previously, in NFL SuperPro: Wanna know why the quarterback couldn’t use the phone anymore?
Because he can’t find his receiver!
Combine that joke with the opening reel of the old NFL films reels (“It was a cold, blustery day at Lambo Field…” “He was born Earl Christian Campbell…”) and you have pretty much all the sports you’ll need to know for this book. We begin our tale in Los Angeles, where a math wiz named John Murtaugh (Lethal Weapon reference?) has turned states evidence against his pals in
the Mafia an unnamed crime organization. They have not taken it well, but fortunately, Murtaugh has an angel in his corner…
…an angel in protective headgear and Adidas, but an angel nonetheless! I was a bit confused that #1 starts in mid-story like this, until I did a little leg-work on the internet (Also: Rule 34 applies even to Marvel’s sub-C-list. Also also: Eww.) and discovered that Supey’s first appearance came a month before this in the SuperPro Special Edition, a book that was twice the normal cover price and sold as a sure-fire collector’s item in those heady 1991 speculator boom days. The ‘Pro blocks one would-be assassin from taking out Murtaugh, but is forced to take off after the second one, and using his dialogue to firmly cement himself in the Marvel Universe.
Oh… Oh, dear. That is… That… What…
Checking the credits, I am absolutely shocked and dismayed to find that Fabian Nicieza, one of my favorite creators is behind that line. SuperPro gets knocked off the escaping vehicle, just in time for an assist in the form of the obligatory first-three-issues cameo. What spins a web, any size, and catches crooks just like flies?
Super-Pro is, officially, one of the luckiest men alive. It’s interesting that Spider-Man and SuperPro don’t actually MEET during this sequence. Instead, Spidey watches the ‘Pro as he makes his official escape, even ruminating how good it is that SuperPro has someone to share his hero career with. It’s a weird moment, especially from Spider-Man, who usually goes out of his way to tell would-be heroes to give it up and not throw themselves into the awful life of spandex and worrying that auntie is going to keel over when she finds out who you really are. As for SuperPro, his aforementioned partner is also his closest friend and escape driver…
Signs this story takes place in 1991: That is one heinous fade. You may have also noticed that every single person in this book is incredibly chatty about everything, clearly spelling out each thought that pops into their heads and explaining why it’s relevant. SuperPro calls his lady friend, a newscaster, who surprisingly appears in a VERY sheer nightie while likewise expositioning that SuperPro (secretly sports reporter Phil Grayfield) is trying to prove the innocence of one of his fellow football players. He then helpfully recaps his origin for those of us who missed the Special Edition…
I may be wrong, but this is damn-near exactly the same origin given to Jack Magniconti, aka Mr. Magnificent, leader of Kickers Inc. in Marvel’s new universe a few years earlier. It becomes clear from this issue that the book was clearly aimed at an audience of young readers, spending as much time as it does explaining everyone’s motives outright and explaining all the twists and turns… Well, explaining all the slight bends of plot. The next day, the media descends on the football player’s arraignment, including Phil Grayfield and photographer Peter Parker, on loan from the Daily Bugle to cover the trial…
Again, there’s a strange moment wherein Spider-Man seems to be tacitly telling us, the readers, that it’s okay to like SuperPro, making his unofficial role as “second issue cameo guy” explicit. It’s Spider-Man who first trips to the presence of another sniper, and he casually watches as the man leaps off a building to his death in order to escape. It’s too bad that Spidey doesn’t have something that would allow him to catch a falling man, or perhaps create a net of some sort, some kind of “webbing” that would make him more useful in this situation. Spider-Man follows the villain of the piece (thanks to his spider-tracer from earlier) while SuperPro ends up at Tim Pressman’s house to defend the linebacker against those who want him dead…
He punches the assassins repeatedly (because that’s all he really does) and kicks one through a plate-glass window, exclaming “That’s so your boss, Sanzionare, knows he’s lost his home-field advantage!” This is not the worst football pun in the issue. That honor goes to a thug’s surrendering words, “I give!”, to which Supey responds, “No, you receive. PAIN!” As Rodrigo is often wont to say: Classy. We wrap up the issue with Spider-Man returning just in time…
…to do nothing at all, not even meet the hero of the book. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never read SuperPro #2, and unless it shows up in a stack for the quarter bin next week, I’m not going to, so I don’t know if Spider-Man and S/P ever actually meet. Still and all, I don’t feel like I’ve really missed all that much. There’s a clear motive of synergistics behind this comic book, even though it has been proven that the two target groups can have little crossover. After all, comic geeks and football fans are often natural enemies in the wild (or at least the wilds of grades 1 through 9, which seems to be this issue’s target audience.) Years ago, Marvel created a book sarcastically titled ‘The Generic Comic Book”, featuring a white cover with black type and a hero who blandly hits all the tropes of the trade. That hero even wore a football helmet, and this book is for all intents and purposes the same as that on. NFL SuperPro #1 is a competently drawn comic, aimed at demographics other than me both in age and interests, featuring leaden dialogue and plotting, a senseless cameo, and no real motivation, earning 1 out of 5 stars overall.
That said, it was still better than Civil War: The Return.
About Matthew Peterson
Were pop culture a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Matthew still 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.