Big Hero Adventures #1, September 1966

In the mid-1960s, Harvey Comics, best known for their humorous children’s titles such as Richie Rich and Casper, decided to try to cash in on the new fad for super-hero comics that followed in the wake of Marvel’s popularity and the success of the Batman tv show.

The first issue of BIG HERO ADVENTURES introduced the world to the frankly bizarre Jigsaw. Clearly even Harvey weren’t too sure of this new kid on the block, telling potential buyers right there on the cover, “Don’t laugh at the Jigsaw Man! His mechanical parts make him the greatest crimefighter on Earth!”

Like, wow, eh? Better not laugh!

In three chapters we learn the astonishing tale of one Gary Jason, an intrepid astronaut on a routine space mission. He spots a mysterious whirlwind sucking animals and matter towards the moon. Everyone in mission control thinks him mad. Getting too close, Jason is pulled into the vortex and his capsule smashed. His broken body arrives at a hollow crater on the moon, where it is rescued by a robotic alien that looks like a reject from Sesame Street.

The aliens read Jason’s mind with their advanced equipment and then mend his broken bones with sticky tape. Obviously, their equipment isn’t that advanced…

On waking, Jason is none to phased by any of this, though the aliens are surprised that he now has the ability to stretch his body out of shape: it has become a patchwork linked by rubber tendons. Some sticky tape!! Somebody market that stuff now!! Naturally, Jason decides to call himself Jigsaw.

Well, who wouldn’t?

In chapter two he goes back to Earth but quickly – and tragically – discovers that you can never go home again. Now Rod Serling might’ve been able to do something with that, but sadly this is Harvey Comics. His capsule is rescued but his rescuers think he’s an alien thanks to all that stretching and so attack him. He flees home to his girlfriend Betty, and lets her know he’s got something to tell her. Suddenly, a passing circus train crashes and the animals escape. Jigsaw springs into action, soon rounding up the lion and the gorilla. Betty screams in terror. A man who can stretch parts of his body is of no interest to her. Sorry guys, now you know the truth.

Just as Jason is moping about his lot in life, the aliens contact him and whisk him away to an alien planet. Another bunch of aliens have been going around wrecking planets willy nilly. Our aliens task Jason with stopping their nefarious plans. To this end they supply him with a hot blonde chick called Zilla. It quickly transpires that Zilla is something of a ho, and she betrays one of her johns to Jigsaw’s fist. Jigsaw stretches around a bit and plants a bomb, putting an end to the aliens’ plans.

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Let’s name the guilty parties: Jigsaw was created and designed by comics legend Joe Simon, and his adventures were drawn by that stalwart of low-end comics,  Tony Tallarico. Earlier in his career, with partner Jack Kirby, Simon had created Captain America, The Newsboy Legion, The Boy Commandos and the concept of romance comics. I’m guessing Jigsaw probably doesn’t place very highly on his CV.

While Jigsaw is complete pants, this comic is slightly redeemed by a nice back-up strip drawn by Reed Crandall.

Image ©2011 the copyright holder