The 2013 NFL season is upon us!
Let’s go back twenty-two years though. 1991. Desert Storm. MC Hammer. Super Nintendo (SNES). Otis Anderson had won the MVP of Super Bowl XXV as the Giants beat the Buffalo Bills. Captain America celebrated his 50th anniversary.
Combine the last two and you get the miracle that is…
Marvel Comics has had its fair share of trying to capitalize off of other intellectual properties to make a buck. I will be covering some other Marvel releases from other movie and entertainment brands in the future. But SuperPro is a different breed.
Here, they make a new super hero, tied into the NFL, and even incorporate some of their stars. I mean, Spider-man was generous enough to show up in this “Collector’s Item” of a “1st Issue!”
SuperPro wasn’t a mini-series. It was a regular monthly that only lasted 12 issues. To be fair, creator and writer Fabian Nicieza has admitted he created the character just to score some free NFL tickets. Good for him, I guess.
However, in a world where once credible characters like Aquaman can become a constant punchline, no doubt a complete marketing scheme of a character like NFL SuperPro would still be mocked a few decades later. Maybe he will be rejuvenated with a gritty re-boot film…
But to celebrate the season opening up, let’s take a look at NFL SuperPro. As you can see, “He Went From Sacking Quarterbacks to Tackling Crime.”
I love some of these early 90s ads…
When you buy Home Alone on VHS for the low price of $24.98, you get this free poster! And if the thought of buying the “#1 Comedy in history” wasn’t a great enough selling point, there is a $5 Pepsi rebate. I miss Macaulay Culkin’s America.
Think about how every time Hollywood makes a comic book movie, they seem to have this need to re-tell the origin to the general public. Ten years between Spider-man franchises? Eight years between Batman? Re-tell how they became the hero they are.
NFL SuperPro doesn’t do this.
This is the first ever book on NFL SuperPro and his origin is a few hard to read sentences.
That little white text up top. To fill you in:
“Phil Grayfield’s career as a pro football player ended soon after it began due to injuries. Now, as a result of a fantastic accident, he has a new career – as a super-powered hero who uses his amazing abilities to fight crime and defend the sport he loves from those forces that would seek to corrupt it – for Phil has become – NFL SUPERPRO!”
So much to go with there. First off? Fantastic accident. Please tell me he was bitten by a radioactive football. Close runner-up to wearing a jock strap that he found in the rubble from a space accident.
Then, it really sounds like he is only worried about football related crimes. I guess that is fair enough but it already makes me wonder what Spider-man is doing wasting his time on this. Maybe he is there because that tuxedo man in the background looks like the man who would play Green Goblin a decade later, Willem Dafoe.
The blue suit guy is a “math genius” named John Murtaugh. You know he is good at what he does AND sleazy because the yellow text box tells us he will make two times two equal ten. No wonder American children cannot pass standardized math tests.
So John uses his abilities of arithmetic to run an underground gambling organization, which is why he is in a sniper’s scope.
Yep, SuperPro stops the sniper. Because he needs him ALIVE more than the sniper needs him DEAD. His superheroic quips are exactly what you would expect out of an ex-football player at least.
SuperPro takes out generic rifleman with remarks about “fan recognition” and “autographs” before it turns out the reason this “hero” wants to save the criminal gambling man is that TIM PRESSMAN, AN OFFENSIVE TACKLE FOR THE L.A. RAIDERS is being wrongfully accused of ties to a gambling organization!
You know, if you are going to get a fictional Raider in trouble, at least bring in prostitution or something to make this more interesting.
Correction. This writing is interesting enough!
So as SuperPro is making an ass of himself with the football puns, his mark gets killed anyway. Who could’ve done that?
The Valet could’ve made a great long-term villain in the Marvel Universe.
SuperPro goes on the hunt for The Valet and proves to either be super egotistical or showing post-concussion issues, as he makes another autograph reference. I mean, the marginal player keeps thinking villains really want his autograph. Then again, as someone who has done autographing at sporting events, my worst experience came from an NBA player most don’t know, Richie Frahm. Hope you enjoy playing for the Aisin Seahorses and NOT being Spotted on the Pine (cheap Culture Crossfire article plug).
A break in the action gives us an ad for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for the NES and GameBoy. Most Triumphant.
The break is rewarded as SuperPro lands on a car roof to exclaim:
I am starting to wonder if this guy even knew the rules of the sport. Not quite believing injuries cut his career short when jumping on something counts as a touchdown.
SuperPro proves he is new to the heroing game as he questions how SPIDER-MAN and DAREDEVIL do this kind of thing every day. As I start to think Daredevil is blind and is less of a complainer than this SuperPro, we see some new depth of The Valet that shows he should still be roaming in Marvel Canon.
That’s a villain that keeps it real.
We have a few more panels of SuperPro hitting the car and The Valet swearing when we see Spider-man is watching. And he says that this SuperPro guy is as good as the newspapers have said. So seeing he is your friendly neighborhood Spider-man, he lends a helping hand by shooting a SPIDER-TRACER on to the car, so he can track it down, “no matter where it ends up!”
Spidey hides without SuperPro knowing, SuperPro is upset he let the baddie get away and, for some reason, a stripper stands over his shoulder.
SuperPro calls his sidekick, a black guy with a flat top and a fade driving a rape van.
Which, reasonably, reminds a voyeuristic Spider-man of his marriage…
The sidekick is now revealed to be a cameraman by the name of Ken Reid, who drives SuperPro back to their hotel. He gives SuperPro a pep talk to let him know it is okay the bad guy got away, he is new to the super hero thing.
During this conversation, it is revealed that SuperPro’s day job as Phil Grayfield is as a football reporter, which explains the fact his sidekick is a cameraman. They talk really boring about how Pressman is cocky but “a straight arrow” and Los Angeles parties and stuff I could care less about until SuperPro has difficulty with those new fangled key cards.
If you cannot figure out how to open your door with a keycard, you really shouldn’t be a super hero. After an undisclosed amount of time, SuperPro gets in his room and stares at a phone.
Only to call the New Jersey home of newscaster Jane Dixon, who like me, doesn’t like pants.
She knew it would be Phil calling at 1 AM, tells him she just came in minutes ago from a late night newscast (clearly losing the pants was the most important thing in the first few minutes home), and it appears Jane is in on his secret, as they talk about getting info to clear Pressman’s name.
Jane makes a little flirty comment about maybe beating Phil to the story, which he takes as her trying to get the last word and rambles about her having an Emmy and being his “part-time gal-pal” and seemingly has a roid rage moment…
We then start to get some of the backstory for SuperPro. After a career-ending injury, Phil takes a job for Sports Inside, working as a Field Reporter. He goes to interview some dude named Rudy Custer, who is a “reclusive sports collector” with his prize piece being an “experimental football uniform”.
The story gets weirder from there. Keep in mind, my summary of this story right now, is about as deep as the book going. He gets a post-retirement job? Cool, that happens. Recluse collector with experimental suit? None of that makes sense.
Next panel, he is tied up and it says some “hoods” wanted some of the collector’s memorabilia which led to him being left for dead until some chemical combination in the room gave him powers. All I see are ropes and a fire. Who wants to try for superpowers?
Suddenly, he has the experimental suit and apparently he had his first test against this Hulk-sized white boy who was a rookie on experimental steroids.
It implies because steroids are bad, said rookie died but I wouldn’t be surprised if SuperPro was pulling some Aaron Hernandez stuff and covering it up with that experimental suit.
If the half-page, non-linear, non-descript origin wasn’t head-scratching enough, next thing I know, Phil is brushing his teeth while thinking of crime fighting philosophies.
This guy is the best. I mean, so many people got their own comic in this time period. WHY NOT THE VALET? The Valet is outed as being named Edison and told to watch his language because his boss has a ponytail.
Ponytail is mob boss Marco Sanzionare, who sends out Edison, while sending his goons to get more information on SuperPro.
The next morning, Phil runs into Peter Parker in the courthouse during the Tim Pressman proceedings. Neither knows the other’s identity but the artists must think we don’t know either.
Pressman comes into the courthouse and probably should get locked away based on his haircut alone.
Spidey gets tingly and finds Swearing Edison the Valet about to snipe.
Edison decides rather than face Spidey, he is going to face plant off the side of a building.
A cop on the scene identifies “the faller”, Edison, as the guy who killed the gambling boss last night, which makes SuperPro fear Pressman will look to be in more trouble.
That night, Spider-man is patrolling the mansion of Sanzionare, where Spider-man talks about socio-economic conditions focusing on bad guys never live in cardboard boxes. Sadly, Spider-man never starts quoting Public Enemy lyrics. Spider-man starts to patrol the house, so we are taken to the Malibu home of Tim Pressman. Suddenly, some Foot Soldiers show up…
But so does SuperPro, who makes a pun that makes me think maybe he is in the gambling ring!
These three thugs show up at the home of the football player with a rocket launcher for some reason. SuperPro gets in a really boring one page fight before Awful-Hair Pressman comes down. Other than one shot where a red line shows up on Pressman’s head, he has no purpose being there as a few puns later, SuperPro flings the bad guys out a window.
We segue to the Police Station, where Spider-man is taking pictures, giving some inner-monologue about how Superpro did a good job and showing us that SuperPro never even knew he was being assisted by a “Greatest of All-time” hero. SuperPro tells Pressman his name should be clear and the “Raiders player” thanks him.
The first issue of SuperPro wraps but we get a hint about the NEXT ISSUE:
QUICK KICK – He’s an Assassin with a Deadly Competitive Edge!
I need to track down issue two to see if they top a villainous valet with scandalous special teamer.