The Hooded Wasp vs the Mist Men (1941 comic book) review…

The Hooded Wasp vs the Mist Men (1941 comic book) review after the break…

The Hooded Wasp vs the Mist Men (1941 comic book) review…

It is said that the greatest parody of sincere efforts are the sincere efforts themselves. In other words, nothing beats the original source material for those who partake in developing sarcastic snark thinly disguised as genuine content. The reason is simple – For the sarcastic snark to work, people have to already “know” about the original source materials that are being lampooned… It’s not funny unless you’re in on the joke already.

“The Hooded Wasp vs the Mist Men” is not an entirely accurate title – The truth is that there is no known “formal” title to the comic book besides “The Hooded Wasp.” However, the hero fights an enemy referred to as “Mist Men” and so the title is accurate enough without giving away the “twist” ending.

“The Hooded Wasp vs The Mist Men” is a 1941 comic book. The title character, The Hooded Wasp, is misleading, in that the character wears a helmet rather then a hood but perhaps definitions change over time. Regardless, The Hooded Wasp appears to have no apparent superpowers other then dressing in a costume and being able to land a punch. Like many superheroes of his time, The Hooded Wasp has a young male sidekick (in this case, named Jim Martin).

The story centers around the town of Elvino, a town that used to have a silver nitrate mine, suddenly becoming infested with “Mist Men” who appear to be some sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon type. The Hooded Wasp and his sidekick eventually find the Mist Men’s lair but discover a startling truth – the Mist Men are not creatures but really disguised Nazi sympathizers (1941 is well within the World War II years and Hitler was already an infamous political figure in America by this time) trying to scare the town population away so they can have all the silver nitrate (apparently, needed for armaments for the time) for themselves. Needless to write, The Hooded Wasp arrives to save the day and unravel the dastardly deeds.

The 12-page comic has more then it’s share of story-telling flaws. The entire “Mist Men are actually disguised Nazis” is somewhat ridiculous as the Mist Men are clearly drawn with significantly different leg structures then that of a normal human. The Mist Men also appear to have superhuman strength early on, lifting a grown man with two outstretched arms while leaning forward. How many average men are capable of performing that task? While the Nazi angle is understandable for the time period, it is simply one twist too many and especially for a 12-page comic book.

Disregarding the entire “Scooby-Doo” caliber of the overall story, another troubling aspect of the story is that it almost seems as those the Nazi ending was tacked on. At one point, The Hooded Wasp and sidekick are confronted by truce-seeking Mist Men who then attempt to throw them into some sort of ceremonial pit. Such a sacrificial ceremony would be consistent with some sort of typical primitive culture, not of Nazi sympathizers who want to get rid of unwanted competition. Apparently, using firearms to rid themselves of these heroes would have been too easy.

Finally, there is no demonstration of what makes The Hooded Wasp so much more distinct and different from other superheroes. Does his punches “sting”? Can he fly? He doesn’t really use his superpowers to solve the crime (unless you would count “pole-vaulting” a superpower).

“The Hooded Wasp vs The Mist Men” has at least one story-related redeeming quality and that is the actual mist itself, which is apparently manufactured by the “Mist Men” to discourage pursuers and incite speculation as to if the Mist Men are truly subterranean creatures with some unique defenses. Yet even this redeeming quality is undermined, not only when the Mist Men are exposed as Nazis but that they wear no breathing masks while the perpetrators are dressed up as Mist Men (even underneath the disguises). How then are they not affected by the gas when similarly unmasked people easily fall prey to the gas?

12 pages is too short for the type of story that the comic book creators needed for this type of story to work. Cutting out the Nazi 3rd act and replacing it with a more conventional 3rd act that would realize that the Mist Men are actual creatures might have salvaged the comic book with it’s 12 page limit.

“The Hooded Wasp vs The Mist Men” is more parody then parody but not necessarily for all of the right reasons.


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