Sun, Surf, Sand, Flex…Yes, Flex…And Trademark Infringement On The Wednesday Run – April 4, 2012

Back from March break?

Thawed from the winter cold?

Fresh from pumping iron at the gym?

Ready for the summer?

Willing to flex some hard, sexy muscle on the beach, all bulging biceps and swollen pectorals, wearing nothing but a teeny, leopard-print banana hammock? Flex Mentallo, the famous “Man of Muscle Mystery”, did just that…over sixty years before he was first created?!?

Wait! What? How!?!

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition
Written by: Grant Morrison
Illustrated by: Frank Quitely
Published by: Vertigo Comics

Created by writer Grant Morrison within the confines of his weirdly eccentric (and beloved) run on Doom Patrol in 1990, Flex Mentallo was kind of based on real life body builder and strongman, Angelo Siciliano, better known as the famous Charles Atlas, in the early-to-mid twentieth century. I say “kind of” because of the trademark infringement suit that was filed against DC Comics in the late 1990’s by the party that owns the likeness of Atlas.

Anyone that owns a comic book from virtually any part of the previous century knows Atlas. His iconic muscle-bound image could be found as an advertisement accompanying his work out routine in any particular issue.

Angelo Siciliano emigrated from Calabria, Italy to Brooklyn, New York as a skinny, thirteen year-old kid. Legend says that after having sand kicked in his face by a Coney Island beach bully, Siciliano started working out, honing his body to the immense size and shape seen in those comic book ads. Officially changing his name to Charles Atlas because it sounded more American, the muscleman lived the dream, starting his own successful body-training company, famous in the day for having clients such as heavyweight boxers Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis.

Flex Mentallo, a parody of Charles Atlas, has “hero of the beach” powers. When he flexes his muscles, he can distort reality, a weird inversion of “mind over matter”. Of course, in pure Morrison-inspired weirdness, whenever he does this, a halo appears over his head that literally reads “hero of the beach”. The Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition compiles the four-issue mini-series that was published in the mid 1990’s that wasn’t able to be reproduced, until no, due to the outstanding lawsuit filed against DC Comics, now resolved.

Fans have been clamouring for this weirdly ridiculous and highly regarded story to be reissued for a long time. Finally, like the transformation of skinny Siciliano, we get a muscle-bound, 112-page, hardcover of the mini series, re-coloured and complete with a special sketch section of Frank Quitely’s amazing art.

Perfect timing for a little beach reading, no?

Don’t have sand kicked in your face when you’re asked why you haven’t already read it. Make the run today and pick up Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition.

But please. Do everyone a favour:

Keep the banana hammock in the drawer.

Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!

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