Brother Power the Geek

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Brother Power the Geek
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics/Vertigo
First appearance Brother Power the Geek #1 (October 1968)
Created by Joe Simon
In-story information
Alter ego Brother Power
Abilities Puppet Elemental: (Pre-Vertigo): superhuman strength, electricity absorption, superhuman leaping ability, durability, somewhat higher intelligence, albeit limited in formal education. (Vertigo) ability to reside in any artificial figure resembling a human being, ability to change size, superhuman leaping ability, durability

Brother Power the Geek is a comic book character created in the late 1960s for DC Comics by Joe Simon. He first appeared in Brother Power the Geek #1 (October 1968).[1][2]

The concept behind Brother Power was derived heavily from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [2] right down to reanimation with the use of lightning. At the same time, Simon was also attempting to capture the sort of "wandering outcast philosopher" characterization that made Marvel Comics' Silver Surfer a cult hit amongst the college student readers of the period.[3]

According to Scott Shaw, the character was originally supposed to be called The Freak, but was renamed to The Geek due to concerns by DC Comics management over the possible drug reference "freak" implied at the time.[3]

Original appearance[edit]

The original series lasted only two issues. Brother Power was originally a mannequin abandoned in an empty tailor's shop. The shop was taken over by hippies Nick Cranston and Paul Cymbalist, who dressed up the dummy in Paul's wet and bloodied "hip threads" to keep them from shrinking, having been attacked by Hound Dawg and other war hawks. Forgotten for months, but eventually struck by lightning, Brother Power was brought to life and endowed with super power and speed.[1]

Shortly after his creation, Brother Power was kidnapped by the "Psychedelic Circus". The freaks in the Freakshow at the "Psychedelic Circus" were all based on the styles of "Big Daddy" Ed Roth and Harvey Kurtzman, both of whom were good friends of Simon. After escaping, he was fixed up and given a face by another hippie named Cindy, and attempted to run for United States Congress. His misadventures with the establishment led to finding work and encouraging other hippies to do so, eventually getting hired by the J.P. Acme Corporation just as it was taken over by the wicked Lord Sliderule. Brother Power's ingenuity still made the assembly line run more efficiently. Brother Power was last seen being shot into space on orders from Governor Ronald Reagan, after trying to prevent the sabotage of a rocket launch by Mad Dawg and his gang, knowing it would be blamed on hippies.

While sales of the title were modest, Brother Power was not popular among the staff. Former DC Comics Editorial Director Carmine Infantino claimed in several interviews following his retirement from comics that Superman editor Mort Weisinger disliked the character very strongly, and petitioned DC publisher Jack Liebowitz to shut down the title. According to Infantino, Weisinger harbored an admitted dislike for the hippie subculture of the 1960s, and felt that Simon portrayed them too sympathetically.[4] It did not help that Mad Dawg and his cronies appeared with uniforms and gadgetry evocative of Nazis in the second issue. According to Joe Simon, the third issue was canceled just before the finished artwork was to be set up for print duplication, and Simon would neither discuss the plot of this issue nor release any of the original art.

Despite Weisinger's concerns over the Hippie subculture and the level of drug abuse it represented, drug, substance and alcohol intake are not depicted.

Simon was not the artist on the title's two issues. The artwork was by Al Bare,[2] who had been working with Simon at Sick. Simon had hired Bare to "ghost" the art, and was subsequently credited with the art.[5]

Later appearances[edit]

The character was revived briefly in the 1990s, first in a short story by Neil Gaiman in Swamp Thing Annual #5 (reprinted in Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days), and then a Vertigo one-shot by Rachel Pollack and Mike Allred titled Corruption of the Innocent or "Homelands of the Dolls".

In Gaiman's story, Brother Power is revealed to be an imperfect elemental, similar to the Swamp Thing, and he is connected to all human simulacra such as dolls, dummies, statues, etc.[1] The story resumes with the rocket's return to earth, guided into Tampa Bay by Firestorm after an unsuccessful attempt to destroy it. His newfound ability to change his size at will led to a call to Batman, who deferred to Abigail Cable. Ultimately, a former hippie named Chester was able to calm him down. Pollack's story featured a brief return of Brother Power's adversary, Lord Sliderule, now in a business suit, and depicted Brother Power being forced to perform as a circus geek, eating live animals for the first time. Eventually, after more misadventures with the establishment, he is reunited with Cindy, now a prostitute, and is destroyed saving her life, but survives by possessing one of her dolls.

In one issue of the crossover miniseries Legends, a marquee in the background reads Brother Power the Geek: The Movie. He is among the superheroes briefly summoned by Snapper Carr in the Blasters Special. In Grant Morrison's Animal Man, Brother Power is mentioned several times as someone who escaped from comic book limbo, in spite of other limbo dwellers' expectations, and his name appears in graffiti.[6] He appeared briefly in Tom Peyer's Totems, as a guest at John Constantine's 1999 New Year's Eve party.[1]

Brother Power made a return appearance in The Brave and The Bold #29 (November 2009).[7] This issue presented Cindy as having been a doctor at a free clinic, but after some tragedy, opening a toy store that was burned before the story began. The story also cast doubts over Brother Power's true origin, as it was explained that conflicting urban legends stated that Brother Power was both a reanimated dummy and an elemental. In addition, it is also established that the events of the original series had taken place in Gotham City, they had previously been explicitly set in San Francisco with "the governor" clearly drawn as Reagan. After awakening in 2009, Brother Power wanders aimlessly through the streets of Gotham, until he stumbles upon a burning building where several innocent people have been left tied up and gagged inside. Though Batman tries to convince Power to abandon the building and let him take care of the victims, he refuses, remarking that he does not belong in the modern world. The issue ends with the dazed and badly-injured Brother Power staggering through the sewers, where he eventually collapses. In the closing narration, Batman finds comfort in the idea that Brother Power will one day reawaken in a time closer to his own.

Alternate versions[edit]

An alternate-universe human-like version of Brother Power the Geek appeared in the Elseworlds mini-series Conjurors.

In the 1997 Tangent Comics title The Joker, there was a human character who called himself "Brother Power," but whom Joker called "The Geek."

In Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, Brother Power appears in the back of a metahuman bar with Rorschach (comics) breaking his finger.

A version of the character appears in Planetary #7, where it appeared at the funeral of a man named Jack Carter, who bore a strong resemblance to John Constantine.

Brother Power the Geek makes an appearance in the 15th issue of the comic book tie-in of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He appears in the beginning assisting Batman in stopping the Mad Mod by telling the clothes to stop attacking people.

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Wallace, Dan (2008). "Brother Power, the Geek". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 62. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. 
  2. ^ a b c McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "The medium didn't appear to be ready for Brother Power, the Geek, envisioned by writer Joe Simon and artist Al Bare. Simon's mod re-imagining of Frankenstein's monster...a mannequin turned reclusive hero-philosopher was a trip that lasted only two issues." 
  3. ^ a b Shaw, Scott (September 28, 2003). "Brother Power, The Geek". Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics. Retrieved December 16, 2011. "Like Marvel's Silver Surfer, Brother Power, the Geek was a peaceful superpowered philosopher, but unlike Norrin Radd, Brother Power never found his intended audience...Supposedly, "The Geek" was originally intended to be called "The Freak" but DC management was concerned that "freak" might be perceived as a drug reference!" 
  4. ^ Markstein, Don (2007). "Brother Power, the Geek". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on July 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ Brother Power, the Geek #1 and #2 at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Morrison, Grant (w), Truog, Chas (p), Farmer, Mark (i). "Monkey Puzzles" Animal Man 25 (July 1990), DC Comics
  7. ^ "The Brave and the Bold #29". DC Comics. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Rovin, Jeff (1985). Encyclopedia of Superheroes, The. Facts on File. p. 122. ISBN 0-8160-1168-0.