Who misses Saturday morning cartoons? Come on, a show of hands. Me too. Those were the days. Remember when Elmer Fudd would walk off of a cliff and not fall until he noticed, or Jerry would hand Tom a stick of dynamite and he wouldn’t die from the explosion, but instead resemble a struck match? What if you had superpowers like that? Pretty cool, right? Well that’s essentially what Slapstick can do. He possesses the powers of a cartoon character! This is his origin story, as told in “Slapstick” #1. Enjoy, Unspokenites and as you read, try to reignite that childhood spark that lived inside of you as you watched those classic cartoons not so long ago.
Steve Harmon had never been what one would consider to be a “normal” child. In his fifteen years upon the planet, he’d always been the kind of guy that you could count on for either a dumb joke or a prank. But being the class clown didn’t exactly make him popular. Far from it. Case in point. Steve leaned back in his desk and looked to the cute girl, named Heather, seated behind him. In perhaps a way to impress her, he tells her his best inappropriate joke. It doesn’t exactly go as expected as she turns her nose up in obvious disgust. (You all know the type. The popular girl that’s popular just cuz. A high school version of the Kardashians.) But before he can attempt a follow-up joke, he’s rudely interrupted by the appearance of Don Winston, the typical school alpha male. Steve immediately goes into defensive mode. They argue about how Don turned Steve in for his most recent prank, getting him a week’s detention. Winston merely laughs the situation off and moves on.
Later that day, after detention, Steve began his long walk home from school. As he pondered his vengeance, he paid little attention to his surroundings. This caused him to collide with a clown standing on the sidewalk, handing out flyers. The clown, however, seemed completely unfazed by this. He looked down to where the boy had fallen and, with a fanged smile, handed a flyer to Steve. Looking at it, Steve discovered that there was a carnival in town. Suddenly, a fantastic idea for his revenge struck him like lightning. Leaping to his feet, he ran to prepare. Little did he notice that the clown was no longer standing there! (Probably hawking a cheeseburger under a golden arch somewhere. No disrespect, Mr. McDonald. Your food made me the man that I am today…..sob……) Steve’s best friend, Mike, spies him and approaches to talk, but Steve barely even notices him as he sprints off.
Steve rushed upstairs when he arrived home, a happy bounce in his step. When he was in his room, he pulled out an old Halloween costume and put it on. Next, he fit a purplish wig to his head. Lastly, he applied clown makeup to his face. He took the time to admire himself in his mirror before silently descending the stairs. He giggled fiendishly the whole way to the carnival. Now completely incognito, Steve wandered the grounds in search of his prey. It didn’t take long before he located both Don and Heather together. Perfect! Buying a creme pie at a nearby stand, Steve waited patiently for his two victims behind a circus tent. (A pie?! That was his master plan? I’m sorely disappointed in our boy here. I expected something like, oh I dont know, a two-by-four with nails in it to the face. And that’s just off the top of my head! I need help, don’t I?)
But when they didn’t arrive, he peeked out of his hiding place and what he saw horrified him! Don and Heather were unconscious and being dragged into the House of Mirrors by a group of sinister looking clowns! Steve waited until they passed and then grabbed the nearest weapon, a large mallet. He followed past the eerie room of mirrors until he found a room beyond that was way larger than the entire tent combined! Inside, the clowns were tossing his two classmates into an enormous portal! As they did so, they spoke of studying these humans in order to better invade the Earth from their home world in Dimension X! The Overlord will be pleased! (I’ve got it! They’re taking them to Krang. He finally broke away from the incompetent Shredder and is now using evil clowns to do his dirty work! You’re not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans? How do you sleep at night?)
When they were done with their despicable work, the clowns entered the portal themselves. As it began to close, Steve seized his moment and leaped in after them! As he did this, the Marvel Universe sensed the birth of something…..new. Spider-man’s spider sense went wild, Doctor Strange sensed something amiss, the Silver Surfer sensed a strange power being born, the Watcher felt compelled to interfere, Reed Richards’ advanced technology went crazy, and Howard the Duck threw up! (Not sure what Howard hurling into a bucket had to do with anything, but I’m merely here to report the facts. That said…..#LeaThompsonInPanties. )
As Mark passed through the portal, a strange thing occurred. It seemed as if every atom in his teenage form was torn from him, restructured, and reassembled into something all together new! He landed in what seemed to be an underground laboratory with a loud splat! Looking up from his puddle-like form, he saw clowns surrounding him. One of them, who strangely resembled Groucho Marx, made some adjustments in Mark’s cartoon gloves and placed them on his gooey hands. He then pushed a hidden button and Mark immediately took on a more solid form. Oddly enough, he now looked like a cartoon parody of his costumed self! (Why do a lot of cartoon characters wear four-fingered, white gloves? ‘Tis a true mystery for the ages. Like what the hell is Grimace from McDonald’s lore? The world may never know. Damn! I really must want fast food!)
It was explained that this clown used to be the Scientist Supreme in Dimension X. This was back before the Overlord used his inventions to warp reality and conquer this world. The Overlord kept him in this dungeon in case he were to invent anything else that could be used in his evil conquest. Recently, however, the madman had turned his attention to Earth so that he could add to his kingdom! Humans had been taken to experiment upon and make this dream of his into a demented reality! When Mark had passed through into this world, his body had somehow been changed into a new, indestructible material! While he was unconscious, the scientist had also added more features to the gloves Mark now wore. He could push a button in them to once again look human. Also, his mallet would appear in his hand with a turn of the wrist! (Yeah. This part of the comic was pretty wordy. No need to thank me for summarizing it. I will accept cash donations though. Just sayin’.)
And then, just like that, the former Scientist Supreme of Dimension X clutched his chest in pain! He was having a heart attack! As he fell into Steve’s arms, he whispered that it was now up to him to free his dimension and his own. He spoke up in a heroic voice that he never knew he had and vowed to do just that! The scientist’s assistants handed him a map to help aid him in gaining entrance to the Overlord’s throne room. Taking it, Steve took the trapdoor into the passageway. When he was gone, the scientist stood up and declared that this trick worked every time! (Ooooh! That’s cold! That’s as cold as whoever thought up the idea of subjecting us to a new Barney the dinosaur show! It’s true! Google it!)
The being known as the Overlord resembled a hideous mockery of a jack-in-the-box! He ordered his enslaved human army onwards to conquer the Earth! As they marched, Steve began taking out the guards with his gigantic mallet from behind the stage! Others noticed this intruder and attacked. Mark took one out with gloved fingers to the eyes and a hulking clown by smashing him through a stone wall with his hammer! The Overlord took notice at this time and ordered the Scientist Supreme’s machine be used on he who would dare intrude upon his moment of impending triumph! But the machine wasn’t prepared for one such as Steve! The energy shot right back into the large device, causing it to explode when it was struck with Steve’s mallet at the same time! (I once used a hammer to vanquish an enemy. Of course that enemy was a ketchup packet and I was around five years old. Still though…..)
The Overlord’s castle began to crumble around them all! From the rubble, he looked to this odd hero and threatened his life! Steve merely grinned and smashed the Overlord back into his box and then struck him with a golf swing so hard, that the evil one flew through the crumbling ceiling and into the sky! That’s when the evil clowns turned upon him! Unable to think of another course of action, he yelled for the human captives to run! They all raced down the twisted path toward the now-reopening portal! Everyone made it through, including the clowns! But Steve swung his mighty hammer one final time, causing the portal to suck the clown army back inwards and explode! Steve turned to see his very curious best friend behind him. Maybe Mike wouldn’t recognize him. (All of this hammer swinging makes me think of Captain America with Mjolnir in “Avengers: Endgame”. Remember that iconic moment when he yelled, “Avengers assemble!” Ha! You were all moved to the point of tears. Wussies. Nerds. I didn’t cry…..much…..every time I watch it……sob.)
Wrong. Mike knew him right away by the sound of his voice. The two walked together in the wooded area near the demolished carnival grounds. And as they did, Steve’s comic-loving friend told him he should use his unique powers to fight crime. This was agreed upon quickly. But he’d need an alias. After a few failed attempts, Steve finally cried out, “Slapstick!” The rest, as they say, is history.