Friday, April 3, 2020

Eroticism in Don Simpson’s Comics, Part II of II:

The Megaton Man One-Shots, Anton Drek Comix, and Bizarre Heroes

          Go Back to Part I: Megaton Man, Border Worlds, and The Return of Megaton Man

          Note: A gallery of 42 archival covers and comic book pages appears below, following the text. 

Whereas the ten-issue Megaton Man and three-issue Return of Megaton Man series both appeared in color, the next three Megaton Man comics appeared as black-and-white one-shots. In the economic and production-cost syntax of the time, color printing tended to be reserved for a wider, younger, more mainstream audience of superhero comics readers, and therefore necessarily hewed to G-rated or PG content. If Megaton Man was allowed to push those boundaries with illegitimate pregnancy, bulging male crotches and protruding female nipples it did so in the context of a humorous parody of superhero conventions, and the fact that it’s publisher has been a pioneer of adults-only undergrounds.
     Black and white comics, associated with those explicitly sexual and recreational-drug-oriented countercultural underground comix, also fueled the “ground-level” movement that filled the space between mainstream superheroes and hippie undergrounds. These spicier alternatives evolved into so-called independent comics, which could be general audience fantasies like Elfquest or Manga-influenced adventures like Zot!, or more frankly sexual fare like First Kingdom or Love and Rockets. Since black and whites needed only to appeal to a smaller, and generally more adult, audience, they could be more transgressive.
     This desire to transgress had clearly been expressed in Border Worlds, with its nudity and sex scenes, and would be blown apart in the later Border Worlds: Marooned one-shot and subsequent Anton Drek comics published by Eros Comix.
     The three Megaton Man one-shots that remained to appear from Kitchen Sink Press adopted the feeling of earlier undergrounds but attempted to hold the line at allowing the storyline to wander into explicitly “adults only” material. Don Simpson continued to explore the sexuality of his main characters, taking advantage of both the parody genre and black-and-white format to be more audacious, although not as explicit or graphic as he had been in the “mature readers” Border Worlds.

Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, April 1989) 

The X+Thems features a rejuvenated and reinvigorated Original Golden Age Megaton Man teamed with mostly female Youthful Permutations. Although chronologically a decrepit senior citizen, Farley Phloog is restored to his thirty-year-old megahero body, and even shares the younger women’s locker room. Although modestly depicted, they freely prance around nude, much to Farley’s delight, and later don sexy lingerie while being coiffed by the openly gay male hairdresser of the group.
     Feeling frisky, Farley attempts to corner the leather-clad dominatrix of the group (the joke is that the X+Thems are so generic that few of the team members have names, although the dominatrix will later be called, simply, Domina). While trying to strong-arm her, Farley sports a bulging crotch with a small erection that is clearly growing more turgid by the second. Although his move backfires—the dominatrix kicks him in the balls—Farley recovers enough to later seduce Kiddo, the clearly underaged mascot of the group. In an attempt to absolve himself of his crimes, Farley sacrifices himself by flying into the “tear in the cosmic fabric” to fight the “collision of all conceivable comic book realities at once wars” before the regular cast of character—Trent, Stella, and Yarn Man—can intervene.
     The issue also includes a mediation on male beauty. Trent Phloog, exhausted from exercise, has a dream sequence in which his fit, civilian physique is compared to his over-muscled Megaton Man persona and aesthetically critiqued by his three female roommates—they generally prefer the more androgynous version. Stella even proclaims that she “Loves those buns.”
     Among the recurring cast of characters, Clarissa James emerges as the empowered sex symbol of the issue. While watching over the toddler child of Trent and Stella, she wears jeans with worn-out knees—perhaps indicating her willingness to perform oral sex. Later, in a moment of crisis, Clarissa discovers she’s Ms. Megaton Man, the inference being that she gained her megapowers through a fluke sexual transmission from Yarn Man. Nonetheless, her breakout moment is a realization of agency and personal power demonstrated by the familiar spread-eagle pose earlier employed by Megaton Man and to a lesser extent Jenny Woodlore. After Stella sews a sporty Ms. Megaton Man uniform, Clarissa celebrates her sexuality by going on an orgy sex-binge with as many male college students as she can find, and later, we find out, some females. These young men she is seen picking up are so good looking that fans have often inferred that they were gay, but attracted to the masculine power evident in the Ms. Megaton Man name. In any case, Clarissa’s appeal is such that she can apparently win over even dedicated male homosexuals.

Yarn Man #1 and Pteranoman #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, October 1989 and August 1990)

In the next one-shot, Yarn Man #1, the See-Thru Girl has to quell a rowdy backyard picnic by turning nude on top of a picnic table, which we see from behind. Her five-year-old child, Simon, luckily, is distracted by reruns on a portable TV. Clarissa’s low-cut uniform and protruding nipples become standard, and even Megaton Man, when he’s restored, sports male nipples under the fabric of his costume.
     In the third and final one-shot, Pteranoman #1, sex figures into all three short stories. In the lead story, a scientist turns himself into Tyrannoman, a T-Rex that chomps at the mini-skirt of his shapely young assistant, exposing her silky panties. In the next story, the bikini-clad Phantom Jungle Girl is chased around the office of her private detective agency by Cowboy Gorilla, and when lightning strikes, trades brains with him. When her boyfriend shows up, Jeff reveals that he’s really a woman and leaves with the body of the Phantom Jungle Girl, which is still controlled by a male personality, embarking on a happily-ever-after lesbian relationship.
     In the final story, the restored Megaton Man and Ms. Megaton Man are headquartered in the newly-constructed Dork Cave, a cavernous lair underneath the Ann Arbor communal house. Clarissa teases and flirts with Megaton Man, first looking appraisingly at his pile of dirty magazines, then rubbing up against him lasciviously while he attempts to perform delicate criminal lab work. To fend her off, Megaton Man claims, “I’m a sexist and a racist! I’m prejudiced…bigoted…I’m also homophobic and anti-Semitic. You’re not a Jewish lesbian, by any chance?” Clarissa rejects this out of hand. “Oh, you’re fibbing!” she says. “You’re Megaton Man…the most fair-minded (white) guy in the world!” Megaton Man demurs, “Then I’m a hypocrite as well.”
     Clarissa throws herself at Megaton Man, and when that doesn’t work misbehaves to the point that he’s forced to take her over his knee and give her a sound spanking. Clarissa is grateful for this and nuzzles him, but before they can go any further, the scene is interrupted. Stella, now a mother showing signs of letting herself go, comes down to the basement not to check up on them but only to through a load of laundry in the washing machine. Stella has clearly checked out of any relationship with Megaton Man, telling him, “Don’t worry, I’m not spying on you. What you do down here in the Dork Cave with your teen sidekicks is none of my business. You’re the father of my child, that’s all. It’s not like we’re married or anything like that.” She leaves the pair to their own devices, but not before bending over the washing machine to give Megaton Man a great view of her still-wonderful ass.
     After she leaves, Clarissa somewhat competitively remarks that Stella seems to be letting her roots grow out, suggesting that the mother of Megaton Man’s child is not a natural blonde. Megaton Man is still racked by guilt, but Clarissa soothes him with a tender kiss. Later, we see Megaton Man slumped on top of Clarissa on a bed in the cavern, spent from the exertions of sex. Clarissa gets up and straightens her glove while Megaton Man, still lying in bed, apologizes for a lousy performance. Although it is not clear exactly what kind of sex act they performed, Clarissa expresses her displeasure by flinging Megaton Man upward, sending him through the roof of the cavern and up through the back-yard lawn and above the second story of the communal house. Stella, nude under a sheet in bed, is back to fucking her diminutive Martian partner. Instead of daydreaming or fantasizing her only thoughts are of the load of white laundry down in the basement.
     The issue ends with Yarn Man, drinking at a bar, despondent about his “best gal” Clarissa cheating on him with his “best pal, Megaton Man.” He is cheered up when the dominatrix of the X+Thems (since the Y+Thems), acting completely out of character in light of what had been established, sidles up with a smile and asks, “Wanna forget your troubles?”

The Anton Drek Interregnum (Eros Comix, November 1990–December 1991)

At the beginning of the 1990s and the end of cartoonist’s twenties, the pseudonymous “Anton Drek” signed his name to half a dozen explicit, pornographic, and obscenely raunchy sex comics in the “adults only” underground comix tradition—and then some. Wendy Whitebread, Undercover Slut and Forbidden Frankenstein were filled with graphic depictions of ejaculating pricks, facial cumshots, anal sex, and other acts that shocked the comic book world with their unabashed perversion and were admired for their sometime beautiful and masterful figurative drawing.
     While functionally qualifying as masturbatory material, the Drek comics could not be easily dismissed as merely that and nothing more. Wendy Whitebread and Darla Stacey, the female protagonists of the respective series, are strong, well-rounded characters who participate in an extraordinary procession of sex acts, but always maintain their agency and self-esteem.
     Wendy Whitebread #1 and #2 are both narrated in the third person, but always from the close point of view of the protagonist. Also, it her point of view that we read in nearly all of the thought clouds, even as disembodied pricks cum on her face load after load, accompanied only by off-screen cries, “God! I’m coming!” Aided the badge she wears on her crotch (reminiscent of the shielding athletic supporter worn my Jenny Woodlore) and her gun, Wendy arrests the perps by announcing, “You’re busted, creep!”
     In Forbidden Frankenstein #1 and #2, Darla Stacey narrates her own story in the first person. She recounts how she is summoned to a strange castle in Canada on a dark and stormy night, where she encounters the monster of Frankenstein, whose monstrous member arouses in her more than scientific curiosity. When she learns an old bisexual boyfriend has created a “child bride” for the monster, she struggles with the morality of her sexual urges. Needless to say, the monster’s monstrous prick showers Darla and every other female within reach with copious amounts of sperm. This turns out to be none other than Victor Frankenstein’s own seed, since he castrated himself and donated is testicle to the monster. This perverted twist to Mary Shelley’s novel gives the Frankenstein narrative a wholly original motivation for the creation of the monster: Victor’s sexual impotence and inadequacy with women. It also renders explicit the horror of the story—a rapacious male force terrorizing the countryside with an insatiable prick, inspiring the local (male) villagers to take up pitchforks and torches in defense of womanhood.

Bizarre Heroes #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, May 1990) and Don Simpson’s Bizarre Heroes #1-17 (Fiasco Comics Inc., May 1994–June 1996)

In the subsequent series Bizarre Heroes, eroticism and sexuality is explored with a far wider cast of characters than just the main Megaton Man cast, although that core set of characters will again come to dominate the series by the end of the run. Stella, now the Earth Mother, has regained her sexual confidence in a more mature register, and leads a group of megaheroes called the New Detroit Crime Busters. The Phantom Jungle Girl, still teamed with Cowboy Gorilla, is shown to be in an emphatically sexual relationship with the Meddler, a grim, nocturnal crime-fighter. The Slick, an emphatically phallic character, swings from a sperm-like rope shot from a phallic pistol, and is tormented by an array of female characters—the Mooncat, Rose Shark, and the brain-eating Spydra. Cecilia, a civilian helpmate of reporter John Bradford, is cloned; the result is a igneous femme fatale called Dark-Cease. A young Egyptian woman, the Asp, is the partner of an older, wiser male, Doctor Messiah, whom she helps transform into an infant, the Cosmic Christ. And Lisa Kopernick, a bespectacled, modern-day cave girl, reveals that her relationship with her boss, the presumably noble Pteranoman, is in face exploitative and predicated on an unequal and grossly manipulative power relationship.
     Megaton Man, for his part, is forced to return to high school, where he meets X-Ray, who becomes his new teen sidekick. Over the course of the school year, they become friends with Nikki Robertson, a hard-rocking blue-collar classmate who, it is abundantly implied, gives Megaton Man a blowjob in X-Ray Boy’s parents’ basement.
     Later, Clarissa, in her underwear, confronts Stella’s former husband, who informs Clarissa that her megapowers are not due to sexual transmission. Interrogating her mother, Clarissa learns that her real father is the long-lost Silver Age Megaton Man, the result of a hook-up during the free-love 1960s.

The Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series (Don Simpson, February 2019–Present)

In the Ms. Megaton Maxi-Series, these same themes of eroticism, sexuality, gender, and relationships, both equitable and exploitative, are explored albeit in prose that is more explicitly descriptive, but also more nuanced psychologically. Clarissa James, who narrates in the first person, is raunchy, sarcastic, sexually aggressive, emotionally defensive, sometimes ashamed, and often perversely proud of her sexuality. She’s also analytic, thoughtful, contemplative, and frequently judgmental of her partners and other characters in the story, particularly Stella.
     Fans of the Megaton Man and Bizarre Heroes comics may be dismayed at seeing the sex in the narrative no longer serving as humorous punctuation to the narrative but rather seriously explored in the dramatic manner of Border Worlds, and often threatening to spill over into perverse obsession à la Anton Drek. and even sometimes threatening to spill over into the perverse obsessions of Anton Drek. But fans of quality young adult writing, thoughtful science fiction, and inventive fantasy will be rewarded by characterizations that are truthful and well-rounded despite the superhero trappings, and explore the range of human sexuality with honesty and integrity. Readers can trust Clarissa James—and Don Simpson—to provide humor, megaheroic adventure, a well-constructed fictional world, and a strong dose of the erotic in every chapter of the Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series.

Compiled by Ted S. Edwards | Go Back to Part I: Megaton Man, Border Worlds, and The Return of Megaton Man

Archival Images

A rejuvenated Original Golden Age Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1.

Spread-eagle body language in X+Thems #1.

A shared locker room in X+Thems #1.

A scantily-clad Clarissa shacking up with Yarn Man in X+Thems #1.

Lingerie and makeovers in X+Thems #1.

Farley attempts to corner the dominatrix, who doesn't at all appreciate his growing bulge in X+Thems #1.

Farley seduces team mascot Kiddo in X+Thems #1.

A suicide mission for the Original Golden Age Megaton Man in X+Thems #1.

Megaton Man sports a more svelt look in X+Thems #1.

Stella likes the buns she sees in X+Thems #1.

Overly-muscled muscles are a turn off in X+Thems #1.

Clarissa sure didn't wear out the knees of her pants babysitting in X+Thems #1.

Kiddo has Stockholm Syndrome in X+Thems #1.

Clarissa breaks out as Ms. Megaton Man in X+Thems #1.

Studious, introvert Clarissa goes for the good-looking guys now in X+Thems #1.
Tyrannoman chomps at the bit in Pteranoman #1.

Phantom Jungle Girl evades Cowboy Gorilla in in Pteranoman #1.

Their brains now switched, Cowboy Gorilla and Fanny sort out their respective gender identities in in Pteranoman #1.

Boyfriend Jeff accepts the new arrangement, revealing he is really a girl in in Pteranoman #1.

Ms. Megaton Man is partnered with Megaton Man, with distracting results in in Pteranoman #1.

A good spanking and a declaration of estrangement from Stella in Pteranoman #1.

Clarissa is more than disappointed in in Pteranoman #1.

Stella goes back to her diminutive Martian and the dominatrix steps out of character in in Pteranoman #1.

Pteranoman and Fanny in Pteranoman #1.

Wendy Whitebread's agency comes from the badge on her crotch in Wendy Whitebread, Undercover Slut#2.

Darla Stacey takes the bull by the horn in Forbidden Frankenstein #1.

The Slick and the pistol-pawing Mooncat in Bizarre Heroes #3.

The Slick and Mooncat get cozy in Bizarre Heroes.

The Slick goes prowling in Bizarre Heroes.

The Slick still thinks of the Mooncat in Bizarre Heroes.

The Slick tries it again in Bizarre Heroes.

The Mooncat keeps notes on her lover list in Bizarre Heroes.

Rose Shark gloats over the supine form of the Slick.

Megaclone Spydra menaces the Slick.

Spydra must eat the brains of men.

Lisa Kopernick relationship with the predatory Pteranoman.

Clarissa learns the truth of her lineage from Mama James.

The Summer of Love, according to Bizarre Heroes.

Nikki Robertson arouses the Man of Molecules in Bizarre Heroes.

The lineage of Megaton (Wo)Men in Bizarre Heroes.

Go Back to Part I: Megaton Man, Border Worlds, and The Return of Megaton Man

Bonus: The Raunchy Return of the Slick with all-new art!

Read the ongoing adventures of the Megaton Man Universe in the Ms. Megaton Man™ Maxi-Series by Don Simpson! New prose chapter and art every Friday.
All characters, character names, likenesses, words and pictures on this page are ™ and © Don Simpson 2020, all rights reserved.

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