All week, we’ll be presenting our favorite half-baked superheroes from comic book history, excerpted from The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris. Out now from Quirk Books.
Created by: Robert Kanigher and Louis Ferstadt
Debuted in: The Bouncer, unnumbered issue (Fox Features, 1944)
Headquarters: The Bouncy Castle (Not really, but wouldn’t that be great?)
©1944 by Fox Features
Even among the wild and weird fraternity of absurd superheroes, the Bouncer is a genuine oddball. His superpower: bouncing. His secret identity: a statue. And his sidekick: his own descendant!
The Bouncer is the mythological figure Antaeus (spelled Antaes in the comic), who once wrestled Hercules. This version not only draws strength from the earth, as in the original legend, but also is capable of rebounding from any fall “like a rubber ball.” Furthermore, this talent is passed on to his progeny throughout the generations.
Fast-forward to the modern day, when Antaes’s latest descendant, Adam Antaes Jr., wants nothing to do with adventure. Still smarting from a controversial career as a collegiate athlete—his semidivine bouncing ability made him a natural at the high jump, and the hurdles were a piece of cake, but his supernatural athleticism also made him the target of detractors and skeptics—Adam decides to retire from physical labor.
Yes, it’s the quiet, cerebral life of a sculptor for Adam Jr. But when his friend (and embattled district attorney) John Manly is threatened by a luminous and ruthless criminal named the Glow Worm, adventure comes calling! Without warning, one of Junior’s own sculptures of his mythological ancestor comes to life and drags his great-great-great-(etc.)-grandson into battle, the two of them bounding and leaping their way to victory against evil.
The Bouncer and his contemporary partner make for quite a spectacle. Antaes the elder remains decked out in the purple toga and sandals he wore in ancient times, while Antaes Jr. apparently can’t be bothered to change out of his work clothes. The apathetic sculptor bounces into action still wearing his plaster-splattered smock and, of course, beret—he is an artist, after all.
Besides bizarre enemies like the Glow Worm and Mr. Lucifer—a circus clown who Insists he’s the devil—the Bouncer had another interesting gimmick. He invited his readers to join him on his adventures. Youngsters were asked to send in photos and descriptions of themselves (along with parental consent). Two entries were chosen every month to enter the “Comics Hall of Fame” as the Bouncer’s guest stars, drawn into the adventures with Antaes Jr. and his high-stepping predecessor. All told, it was an interesting ploy, particularly for a character who already possessed more gimmickry than most.
Excerpted from The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris. Reprinted with permissions from Quirk Books.