365 Reasons to Love Comics #73
Joe Simon week, part three. This one will cause your brain to do the explodey dance. As cool cat Chris Sims would say, you will be freaking out. There is simply no other reaction one could have to this brilliant series. See: A thing that lives, and fights for its soul! Witness: the real-life scene of the dangers in Hippie-Land! You bet your sweet bippy, it’s…
73. Brother Power, the Geek
You’ve read about how cool Brother Voodoo is, but he doesn’t have a thing on Brother Power, the Geek.
When you open the comic, you immediately find a crazy splash that tells you everything you need to know. It does say Written & Drawn by Joe Simon, but I’m thinking it was a studio thing, as Scott Shaw! in Oddball Comics tells us it was co-written by Simon and Jack Oleck, and drawn by Al Bare and Bill Draut. From what the Wiki tells me, Joe Simon doesn’t like to talk about Brother Power, so we could never know the true story behind the idea, but by God, it’s a psychedelic masterpiece.
The first issue opens with a motorcycle gang running over a group of hippies. Seeking refuge, some hippies hide in a tailor shop, and one of them puts his clothes on an old dummy to dry them by the radiator. Naturally, it is struck by lightning and comes to life. The motocycle gang burst in, and then the soon-to-be Brother Power wrecks their faces:
Click that to see the full wreckage.
The hippies quickly dub him Brother Power (and alternately, the Geek, but Pow prefers not to be called that [funny enough, and yeah, this is a paranthetical inside a parenthetical, the book was supposed to be called "The Freak" but higher-ups thought that was too drug-related or something. Ahh, the 60's]). They teach him to talk, but naturally, their version of English is 60′s comic book hippie lingo.
And then? Then the book gets weird. Our two hippie friends and Bro Pow go to the Psychedelic Circus Parade, but it’s actually a trap by the motorgang from earlier, the Mongrels. Brother Power’s kidnapped, and the hippies band together to save him, dressing in weird superhero costumes. It’s described in the actual dialogue as a “comic book hero happening!” There is a huge fight which also involves a strong man, but the good guys get free and Brother Power becomes leader of the flower children.
No, it’s not over. After this, Brother Power decides to run for congressional office, but the gang comes after him. There’s another ridiculous fight and action sequence (the exact cover scene occurs inside the book), and then the cops get involved, and Brother Power drives a motorcycle off a bridge to a watery doom. Cue #2:
Some kids fish the Geek up. Then a guy named the Baron decides to steal Brother Power’s boots, so then he and his gang fly their homemade bi-plane to go do it:
Brother Power kicks their butt and recaps his origin. The kids get him a job in a market, where he starts as a mover dude and a bag boy but moves up the ranks. He tries for a job in factory, ruled by Lord Sliderule:
Naturally, there’s another huge fight, the hippies from #1 show up, they start working on the assembly line (a line: “Would you believe, these hippies are actually working!”), and then the factory launches an unmanned space missile that explodes. The place is surrounded by tanks who want to destroy the Geek, but he runs into the Baron, who has become a hippie, and has a glider crash into the tanks. The Geek hops into a missile and takes off into space. To be continued.
Except, of course, the series never had an issue 3. Neil Gaiman resurrected the Geek in a short story in a Swamp Thing annual, and Brother Power showed up in a Vertigo Visions special by Rachel Pollack and Mike Allred, but that was the last we really saw of the ol’ guy.
This comic was the densest, maddest thing to come out of DC in the 60′s, and that is saying a helluva lot. From the gorgeous art to the ridiculous hippie dialogue, this comic had everything anyone could ever want in a madcap adventure: Hippies. Biker gangs. Bi-plane barons. Midgets in turbins. Living mannequins of the non-Kim-Cattrall variety. Face-smashing fight scenes. Hells yeah. I love it as much as OMAC, and I love OMAC. If Brother Power lasted as long as OMAC, it probably would’ve become the best comic book ever.
The DC offices may have considered this series a mistake, but by God, it was a fantastic book that I wish had a healthy run. If I could, I’d bring in back in a new series, even if it was Vertigo, but I don’t think I can top the fun, awesome, hilarious weirdness that was Brother Power, the Geek. It was the story of a dummy trying to make it in a crazy world. And it was wonderful.
Tomorrow: Another Joe Simon creation, and another reason why comics were better in the 70′s. Trust me, the Gregs will agree. At least, I hope so.