Friday, June 14, 2013


Written by Ken Grobe

Summary:  The Trapster is unable to find work while on parole, until he meets TV infomercial mogul Morrie through the internet.  Adopting a new identity, he moves to Los Angeles to create adhesive devices, and over the months, becomes friends with Morrie and his assistant Kim.  When he’s pressured into appearing on an infomercial to sell one of his inventions, the Wizard recognizes him.  After getting into contact with him, the Trapster is convinced that the Wizard will blow his new identity and he’ll be arrested again.  Panic-stricken, he holds an infomercial audience hostage and threatens to commit suicide.  Kim talks him out of it, and professes her love, shortly before US Agent arrives and arrests him.  Unexpectedly, the Trapster’s earnest speech makes him a star, which infuriates the Wizard.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The Wizard and the Trapster were teammates in the Frightful Four.  The Wizard has been arrested for kidnapping Silver Sable in-between the other stories in this collection.
  • US Agent is described as an employee of Stark International, following the dissolution of Force Works.
  • The author seems to be under the impression that the Marvel Universe is much older than any of the comics acknowledged at the time.  The Wizard says he’s been following the wrong path (during an insincere press conference) for twenty years, and later the Trapster claims he’s been a supervillain for half his life.  Not long after this book was published, Marvel released the Lost Generation miniseries, which was based on the premise that the Marvel Universe began only seven years ago!

Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  Trapster casually tosses off “goddamn” three times in the story.

I Love the '90s:  The Trapster is described as the hottest “victim of circumstance” since Rodney King, and the Oprah and Ila May (who?) talk shows cover his story.

Review:  I don’t quite understand the reasoning that gives the longest story in the anthology (thirty-eight pages!) to the Trapster, a character who’s only been defined by his joke status for around thirty years now.  (Are there any Trapster stories now that don’t hinge on him being a loser?)  This is clearly written as an attempt to humanize the character and give the audience a new way of looking at him, and it’s fairly successful in that regard, but it’s hard not to find any Trapster story at least a little boring.  

My major issue with the story is the flimsy reasoning for why Trapster is faking his identity in the first place; it’s not like he’s going to be caught doing anything truly evil, and his only technical crime is not informing his parole officer that he’s moved to Los Angeles.  And given how important his scientific expertise is to Morrie’s business, it’s hard to imagine that Morrie wouldn’t have arranged for Trapster to work from his home state.  This bit of false drama might’ve been intentional on Grobe’s part, admittedly, since he seems to be going with the idea that the Trapster’s problems largely stem from his own self-esteem issues.  Rather than telling Morrie the truth and arranging a way to work out of New York, his response to potential exposure is to take a TV studio hostage and commit public suicide.  He’s a bit of a drama queen.  Kim talks him down, telling him he’s clinically depressed (a nice callback to an earlier reference to her studying Psychology at night), and they share a sweet moment before he’s unceremoniously knocked to the ground by US Agent.  US Agent does seem like an odd choice as the hero, but he was located on the west coast at this time, and Grobe seems to be well aware of his role as the Marvel Universe’s jerkiest hero, which is exactly what he needs to be in this scene.

Accepting that the Trapster’s main dilemma is intentionally inflated, the story’s enjoyable enough.  It does drag a bit in places, and surely some other character is more deserving of the page count, but it’s a worthy addition to the “Please Take Trapster Seriously” archives.

One for the Road
Written by James Dawson

Summary:  A retired, unnamed villain sits alone in a diner.  He’s barely tolerated by the owner, Grace, and eventually gets up to leave after spending a night reflecting on his past.  After Grace derisively calls him by his supervillain name, the name he wants to forget, he kills her.  He walks into the night, wondering which hero will capture him.

Review:  The villain of this story is identified as only “?” on the title page, and with the exception of a few references to Captain America and Iron Man, there’s nothing in this story to tie the character to the Marvel Universe.  Or to any fictional superhero universe for that matter; the concept could work probably just as well starring any criminal that can’t escape his past.  The final story in the anthology, this represents the villains’ point of view, voicing complaints about how indiscriminately hard the heroes hit and how little anyone cares about a supervillain's civil rights.  Dawson manages to make the protagonist just sympathetic enough while maintaining a creepy tone throughout the story.  This is another entry that could’ve been at home in a modern horror anthology.

1 comment:

Harry Sewalski said...

(Are there any Trapster stories now that don’t hinge on him being a loser?)

I thought that Trapster worked quite well as a villain/fall guy in the Spider-Man arc Identity Crisis, where he killed a gangster and framed Spider-Man for it.

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