Brother Power The Geek #2, December 1968

The previous issue ended with everyone’s favourite perambulating man-doll in the water of San Francisco bay. We pick up here with “Pow” being pulled from the drink by a bunch of “ragged urchins.”

They’re a very clean bunch of urchins, however. They hang the dummy out to dry near a fire, and, to save time, also add a few fish for cooking.

This scene is watched from a nearby hillside by a group of very peculiar military figures dressed in World War One German flying gear, who surround a wooden mock up of a Fokker biplane. As they shine a spotlight on the urchins, Brother Power begins to twitch. Impressed by The Geek’s boots, the bizarre mob — led by the Berlin Baron — jump on their plane and glide it towards the urchins!

The biplane is smashed but the would be airmen attack the urchins, only to be greeted by the might of a revived Brother Power. “Achtung! Sound the retreat! Let’s geddoutta here!!” cries one as they flee. The urchins are amazed by the walking, talking boy-doll in their midst, and he recaps his origin for them.

Soon, Pow finds himself applying for a job in a supermarket and he astounds the manager with his feats of strength. Excelling in the back room Pow is soon promoted to the check-out, where a pair of roller skates aids him in his tasks.

I’ll say this for Simon: you don’t see Spider-Man doing this kind of thing!

So good is Brother Power that he attracts the attention of the head of the Acme Missile factory, JP Acme, who invites Pow to join his production line. Unfortunately, Acme is on the verge of bankruptcy and faces a hostile takeover by a certain Lord Sliderule: an outrageous character dressed in mock-Tudor gear and sporting a fetching monocle.

The Geek makes a monkey of Sliderule and his goons, and JP Acme reminds Sliderule that he can’t take over the company until he has solved the production problems.

It’s soon discovered that the big issue with the production line is one man who keeps the line waiting while he has to reach over to his left to grab a key component. Sliderule applies his computers to the problem, but Pow quickly realises the answer: employ a left-handed man to do the job and the slowdown will be eliminated! Gasp! Yep, it’s that simple. One might have thought asking the right-handed guy to use his left hand might be a bit easier, but apparently not. Probably some union demarkation thing.

Lord Sliderule, in a fit of pique, has Pow attacked, and the doll is forced to fight back.

His superior strength and agility soon saves the day, and Pow is promoted by a grateful JP Acme to plant foreman.

And then, unbelievably, Chairman of the Board! Blimey, that’s some career path!

It’s at this point that some hippies stage a demonstration outside the missile factory. Pow recognises the hippies as his old pals from issue #1, so he goes out to offer them jobs — he’s especially interested in south paws… And so, soon Brother Paul, Brother Nick and Cindy are hard at it on the production line.

Sliderule views this with disgust and stages an accident with a space missile test launch. The resulting explosion is viewed as sabotage, and the Governor calls out the state troops to “Bring in the Geek!” As the troops surround the factory, all looks lost.

Suddenly the Berlin Baron appears. It seems he’s changed his ways and joined the hippie movement. He contacts his old pals, and they fly the Fokker at the troops. In the confusion Brother Power stages a daring getaway, leaping from the factory roof and into a nearby missile.

This is what Sliderule has been waiting for: he activates the missile timer and blasts The Geek into space! The hippies see this and bring Sliderule to justice. Then they light a fire to mourn the loss of Brother Power.

Meanwhile, in space, the Geek orbits the Earth…

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If it’s possible, Brother Power #2 is even madder than #1. Freed from the need to give his character an origin story Joe Simon runs wild. In many ways this reads like a Golden Age comic, with a breathless “and then…. and then…” stream of consciousness approach to the script. Stuff just happens for no particular rhyme or reason. Why do the Berlin Baron and his cronies do what they do? Why does the Baron join the “hippie movement”? And howcum no-one recognised him anyway? And Lord Sliderule’s frankly ridiculous garb, what’s that all about?? He’s like something straight out of Simon and Kirby’s Fighting American series.

Again, it’s clear that Simon was attempting to appeal to a college/”hippie” audience without any idea of what he was actually talking about. Stan Lee, over at Marvel, was only a few years younger than Simon, but he understood, and sympathised with the concerns of the young, Simon, on the other hand, couldn’t resist taking a few pot shots. Note the notion that the hippies have never worked before, being content to merely draw benefit payments. Ouch!

Or, perhaps, things like that were an attempt by Simon to placate Weisinger and the other editors that didn’t want a book like Brother Power at DC. If so, it didn’t work, and this second issue was the last. One wonders if a third was completed before the axe fell, and languishes to this day in some dark forgotten draw in the DC bullpen.

Six months or so after this came out, the final episode of tv’s The Avengers aired in the UK. That ended up with Steed and Tara King being accidentally launched into space on a rocket, never to return. Had the producers seen Brother Power #2? Surely not…

The cover here is signed by Joe Simon, and his name is the only one to appear inside. However, it doesn’t look much like his work — though the splash page, at least, does seem to bear some of the classic Simon inking style. It may be that once the completed art was handed in, Simon went in and beefed up a few panels here and there, as he and Kirby had done during their studio days.

Anway, that’s that. Ladies and gentlemen: Brother Power, we shall never see his like again. Probably.

©2009 DC Comics