Good day, Faithful Spoilerite. I want to play a game. I want you read this comic and not want to hit yourself repeatedly over the head with a meat tenderizer… Your Major Spoilers (retro) review of Jigsaw #1 awaits!
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciller: Tony Tallarico/Reed Crandall
Inker: Tony Tallarico/Reed Crandall
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Editor: Joe Simon
Publisher: Harvey Comics
Cover Price: 12 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $50.00
Previously in Jigsaw: Best known for the adventures of Richie Rich and Casper The Friendly Ghost, Harvey comics dated back to the earliest days of comics. Though they had a pretty large line of Golden Age super-dupers, few were memorable, save the original Black Cat. By the late 50s, they were not only packaging comics of Casper and company, but had purchased the cartoons themselves, rebranding them as “HarveyToons” and syndicating them on TV, and transitioning their publishing to kid-friendly ventures. Of course, 1966 brought the runaway success of the Batman TV show, with its emphasis on camp superheroes, and comic books hit one of their periodic booms. That’s when Harvey relaunched their superhero line with new characters, old favorites, and some of the most ridiculous heroes in comic book history.
That’s where Jigsaw comes in…
“But, his body does not explode…” Would that it were that simple, Faithful Spoilerite. Would. That. It. Were. See, when we get down in the Retro Review corner, we bring with us a wide-eyed wonder at the joys to be found in comic books, even the stinky ones. But occasionally, something comes along that it’s hard to sit through, the comic book equivalent of the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme or a TV test pattern. So it is that Colonel Gary Jason is scooped up by an alien vacuum cleaner, his body smashed to a pulp in the process. Fortunately, the scisser-headed aliens who saved him are a benevolent lot…
Unfortunately, they don’t know much about human anatomy, and have rebuilt him out of Silly Putty. Si-Krell, the de facto alien surgeon, explains that such “side-effects” were expected in the rebuilding process, sending the human jigsaw puzzle back home to Earth with a laugh and a hearty “Whoopsie.” Unfortunately, Si and his friends are as inadequate at aeronautics as biology, and Gary’s space capsule breaks open, threatening to drown him in ocean water. Fortunately, there’s “more than a moon mile” of alien duct tape holding his guts in, allowing Colonel Two-First Names to save his own pastel-mottled skin…
Gary gets home alive, though his name inexplicably changes to Johnson for a moment (File that under “they just didn’t care”) before pulling a Terminator on his friend and setting off to find his girl, Betty, to break to her the news that her beloved is now 50% Dacron blend. Before that conversation ends, a circus train crashes right in front of Gary and Betty because of course it does. Who’s gonna save the day?
Jigsaw, the Stretch-Fabric Man! The real shame here is that the character and powers of Jigsaw didn’t have to be a (you should excuse the expression) train-wreck. It could have been possible to do the character and concepts justice, just… not in a puzzle-piece onesie that doesn’t stay consistent from panel to panel. Indeed, when you think about it, since Jigsaw’s powers are his partially artificial rubber-chicken joints, he is pretty clearly going into battle naked, and since he’s as featureless as a Ken doll, you figure that interrupted conversation with Betty might have gotten really awkward. It’s probably a good thing that, before the dust from the animal train caneven settle, Jigsaw is beamed back into deep space by Si-Krell…
Si-Krell and The Scissorfaces (my Siousxie Sioux cover band) are getting pounded in an interstellar war with the Pulots, who may be chickens wearing puffy shorts, or perhaps that joke is too much of a stretch even for me? Either way, with the help of Zilla (first name Gahd, last name Sullivan), Jigsaw sets off to infiltrate the Pulot stronghhold…
The one thing you can say for Gary J. Jason Johnson Jones (but you doesn’t gotta call him Johnson), the man learns quickly once he’s infused with alien rubberbands. In only a single page, using his expandable joints (Joke Redacted), Jigsaw cripples the Pulot forces, and even gets away with the girl… alien… person.
“Get With Him As He Meets His Match!” That would be the evil villain Market Forces, who shut down Jigsaw’s adventures in the land of “probably good enough” in the next issue. Of course, even when you’re on the bottom of the barrel, there’s always the floor beneath you, and so does Jigsaw have his own second feature. Please be aware, this is a superhero who wasn’t even a strong enough concept to upstage JIGSAW, a character who is literally made out of spare parts, and also out of bad ideas.
Introducing: SUPER LUCK!
Super Luck something something even I don’t care, and his two-page adventure ends with an “It was all a dream! OR WAS IT?” dodge, and a last panel that promises that Super Luck will return, “or maybe not, like do you care?”
Oh, hey a third feature?
It’s a horror/sci-fi/comedy sort of story, patterned upon the EC Comics “preachies”, only with a nonsensical premise that is somehow still utterly invalidated by the twist at the end, itself a six page metaphor the reading of Jigsaw itself. There are a lot of comics in the world, and frankly, I have enjoyed a lot of terrible ones in my time. But this book feels like a cash-grab on all fronts, with a ridiculous premise shoe-horned with the “camp” sensibilities that made Batman attractive, but without much in the way of motivation. It’s fun to like a crap book, it’s fun to hate a terrible one (SKAAAAAATEMAAAAN!) but Jigsaw’s adventures aren’t the kind that are so bad they’re good, they’re just sort of… bad. All in all, Jigsaw #1 is… a… comic book, and it’s telling that even the writer can’t so much as keep the main character’s name straight throughout a 20-page story, leaving this book with 1 out of 5 stars overall. There’s some decent (albeit inconsistent Tallarico art in these pages, but I can’t say as I’d recommend the experiences necessary to get to it, so… there’s that.