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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #35

(Before we start, I’d like to acknowledge a matter pertaining to my post from a few days ago. It seems that a certain really cool catch-all blog about Bruce Campbell I regularly peruse thinks I may have slighted the Chin when I said he was probably too old to play a certain comics character. I in no way intended disrespect. Bruce Campbell is my favorite actor and a god among men. If he were to star in the film, I’d be the first in line. The studio, however, may think otherwise. Alas, alack. I promise to only use my internet powers for good from now on.)

It’s that time of the year again; the Superbowl is back on our television screens. What a perfect opportunity to spotlight one of my favorite superheroes of all time– the only hero I know of sponsored by the National Football League!

Yeah. That’s right. It’s exactly who you think it is.

2/4/07

35. NFL SuperPro

SuperPro 1.jpg

I don’t even like football, but I love SuperPro.

This comic is considered the worst thing Marvel’s ever put out, and the writer, Fabian Nicieza, is apparently deeply ashamed to have done it, but I say balderdash! The kid I used to be thought this was a great comic, and the adult I’m supposed to have become still finds joy in it. Heck, I’ve even written about it before for CSBG (and I’m still going to have Nicieza sign these things for me if I ever meet him).

Phil Grayfield was a former football star, permanently sidelined when he busted his knee saving a small child. He became a sports reporter, and one day stumbled upon a kooky football uniform built by a crazy scientist. The suit cost five million dollars to make and was so tough that it was even bulletproof. Naturally, some hoodlums break in, there’s a fire, Phil gets doused in chemicals and has to put on the suit to save the day. And then… a legend was born! (Of course, Phil essentially steals the suit to begin his crimefighting career, and is only able to wear it thanks to a gaping plot hole, as the suit was supposed to have been “individually molded” to the wearer to begin with.)

SuperPro 5.jpg

(Yep, that’s right. Guest-starring LT! Up yours, Wolverine and Ghost Rider. LT is the best guest-star for a 90’s comic.)

Wacky adventures ensued for ol’ Phil, who fought cool baddies like Crossbones, the Constrictor, some football kicker-turned-ninja, strange steroid freaks, evil businessmen, crime bosses, and the most interesting baddie of all, Instant Replay, a hired killer who could skip back and forth through time. Eventually he got so screwed up that he’d keep popping in and out, with the words in his sentences getting crossed. He was neat, dangit.

SuperPro 9.jpg

Fabes may have started the book, but multiple writers had control of it during its short run of 12 issues. Buzz Dixon wrote #6, an issue that was allegedly pulled off of shelves due to its portrayal of the Hopi tribe. I don’t remember it too well, but I do know I own that one, so it couldn’t have been recalled too carefully.

SuperPro 6.jpg

And yeah, there were Ron Frenz covers, but Jose Delbo did the interiors.

I’ll share a memory with you. I’m a young’n, so the first (or one of the first) comics I ever owned featuring Captain America was NFL SuperPro #8, where Phil and Steve teamed up to fight Crossbones. I distinctly remember a scene where Cap is sucking poison out of SuperPro’s leg. It was a fun comic. I guess those were more innocent times… which is a damn shame, as this wasn’t even fifteen years ago.

SuperPro 11.jpg

Alas, SuperPro was cancelled after #12, and Marvel can’t reprint the series because the NFL has at least part of the rights. That’s why Phil never appeared in Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Team-Up (though he did at least get a mention– Stilt-Man claimed to have beaten SuperPro up). Kirkman probably loves 90’s superheroes more than I do!

If it was up to me, we’d have SuperPro back in some capacity. Maybe we could get around the licensing issue by having SuperPro stripped of his NFL sponsorship due to a steroid scandal and public outing of his secret identity, revealing that he’d stolen the suit. That’d make SuperPro a hard luck hero, a guy who still wants to do the right thing but whose life went down the crapper. It’d be a fun satire on some of today’s plotlines. Why can’t this SuperPro show up on the roster of a Nextwave-like team? Call ‘em, oh… the Offenders, or something. Throw in D-Man and one of the Deathloks and maybe Gilgamesh. Bam!

Is SuperPro silly? Of course he is. Does that make him any less brilliant? Hell no. Something can be ridiculous and wonderful at the same time, and I think that description applies to good ol’ NFL SuperPro.

The esteemed Dave Campbell and, er, some guy disagree. They claim the comic is incredibly stupid. Still, the articles are worth reading. I got a kick out ‘em, at any rate, and they include scans of the interiors!

SuperPro– Dumb? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely. Now, which side would he take in the Civil War…?

8 Comments

Obscure and appropriate? Hell yeah!

A down-on-his-luck SuperPro, stripped of his former glory, would be thoroughly entertaining. And, The Offenders might be your best concept yet. If you don’t get picked up by a publisher by the end of the year (and this column), something will be seriously wrong with the industry.

This is why I never miss this blog/column: the funniest looking, obscure stuff that a n00b like me just might pick up in his next back issue order. =] Keep the goods comin’!

I bought the first issue, which left me going “Ehhhh…” and I also bought the one with Captain America and Crossbones. I always thought Crossbones was a great villain, and at the time it was nice to see him make an appearance (any appearance!) outside the pages of Cap’s own series. But, aside from those two issues, I avoided the series. I was never a big football fan. At the time, I was somewhat into baseball. Maybe if Marvel had done a MLB Superpro series, I would have bought that :)

I own at least two NFL Superpro comics. I was young enough at the time to not feel totally ashamed. I also like the points you bring up about the storytelling possibilities of the character. I’d say it’s a strecth, but I am the guy that wants to write a Flash Thompson ongoing if Dan Slott doesn’t ever get around to it, so my house is too fragile for rock throwing.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Oh boy!
This joins Chuck Norris as the worst choice of subject for your column!

Some comic guy says...

May 18, 2007 at 8:54 am

I work in comic store and NFL SuperPro is always the character I use to explain that there is no such thing as a “bad character.”

Give me a Marvel MAX SuperPro title by Ennis and Fabry and it would outsell X-Men at the store I work in.

I bought a copy of NFL Super Pro #1 to review for my blog but I saw that it had been done better by many others. Who knows, I still might. I agree with you, maybe the writer used it as a means to procure free NFL tickets, but it’s a priceless part of 90s comic book memorabilia in my book, proves something that’s so bad, it’s good

SuperPro the Actor

June 11, 2010 at 8:06 am

Hey back in cira 1990 or when ever the giants won the superbowl and we kicked Iraqs ass the first time I was hired by the NFL and Marvel comics to play Superpro live. I went to Florida for a week during the superbowl and then to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. I got lots of Superpro stuff from back in the day.

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