Comic Book: The Awesome Slapstick

He doesn't fight evil.
He plays cruel tricks on it.

Slapstick is a Super Hero character created by Len Kaminski and James Fry III, who first appeared in a four-issue limited series (November, 1992-February, 1993) by Marvel Comics. Despite being voted by Marvel readers as the best new character of 1992, Slapstick was left in obscurity until his recent appearance in Avengers: The Initiative.

Steve Harmon, our protagonist, is the classic class clown, devoting his life to pulling pranks, telling tasteless jokes, being generally irritating and dreaming about the prettiest girl in school. One evening, in an attempt to get revenge on a classmate who blew the whistle on one of his pranksnote , Steve dresses up as a clown and sneaks into a carnival passing through town. As it happens, the carnival was a trap created by the Evil Clowns from Dimension X in a scheme to kidnap people and enslave them for their Overlord. Seeing the clowns drag his friends through a magic mirror portal, Steve follows them through, just as the portal closes...

Steve is rescued by the Scientist Supreme of Dimension X, who explains that the incident caused a freak accident which has turned his body into "electroplasm", an indestructible and infinitely malleable substance. Using his circus mallet and his indestructible body, Steve smashes the Overlord's Mediocritizer, rescues his schoolmates, and destroys the mirror portal. As the dust clears, Steve is found by his friend Mike Peterson, who notes that he obviously just had an origin and thus should start fighting crime. Steve compromises by offering to play cruel tricks on it instead, and dubs himself Slapstick.

Slapstick's primary ability is his highly agile and indestructible body, which gives him the composition of a living cartoon. While he can be burned, shot, smashed, crushed, twisted, and anything else, he recovers almost instantly with no harm. Slapstick's clown gloves have a molecular stabilizer to allow him to change to human form, and a sub-spacial storage pocket to allow him to hold a single item in Hammerspace. Slapstick can also get a temporary boost in size and strength if he is zapped with electricity.

Slapstick (the character) and the limited series provide examples of:

  • Death by Origin Story: Parodied by the Scientist Supreme of Dimension X, who conveniently falls dead after telling Steve about his new powers and the Overlord's schemes. After Steve leaves, he springs back up with a grin.
    Scientist Supreme: "We have to <ACK!>"
    Steve: "You mean, we have to act?"
    Scientist Supreme: "No, we have to <ACK!>" (feigns heart attack. Badly.)
  • Dream Sequence: Steve's frequent daydreams.
  • Drop the Hammer: Steve's primary offensive attack. How his hammer stays intact is never explained.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Happens to Steve when he's in his Slapstick form, since he was wearing his oversized four-fingered toon gloves when he got his powers.
  • Genre Savvy: "You've just had an origin."
  • Hyperspace Mallet: Slapstick's primary method of attack.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Lots, such as the villain of issue #4, the Neutron Bum.
  • It's Personal: In issue #4, when the Neutron Bum is rampaging through Manhattan, Steve flatly refuses to get involved (he was waiting in line for a concert). He leaps into action only after the Bum attacks the Tower Records building.
  • Just Hit Him: During the Neutron Bum's explosive rampage in issue #4, The New Warriors, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, the Fantastic Four, and The Avengers were trying to formulate a proper attack plan. Slapstick simply went to a coffee shop, bought a cup of coffee, gave it to the bum, then knocked him out in mid-sip.
  • Mad Scientist / Overlord Jr.: Dr. Denton, Destroyer Of Worlds!
    • It's never shown whether Denton's parents are evil scientists themselves, though they did chastise him for building giant robot monsters indoors again...
  • Mechanical Monster: Teddy, Oliver Denton's giant rampaging robot bear.
    "Teddy go on mindless rampage!"
  • Mind-Control Device: The Mediocritizer of Dimension X, which turns ordinary students into boring, unimaginative drones for the Overlord.
  • Monster Clown: The Evil Clowns from Dimension X in issue #1. Slapstick himself arguably becomes one after Avengers: The Initiative.
  • Must Have Caffeine: The Neutron Bum from issue #4, an irradiated homeless man who became angrier (and more explosive) as people continued to ignore his requests for money to buy a cup of coffee.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Slapstick has been shot with bazookas, burned with fire, zapped with electricity, twisted into a knot, and kicked across New York City with no ill effects. The only thing that can really hurt him is a specific frequency of energy that disrupts the molecular bonds of his electroplasm body, and that only works temporarily.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Scientist Supreme looks suspiciously like Groucho.
  • Rule of Funny: The main only driving point of the series.
  • Rummage Fail: Done with "infinite pockets" in Avengers: The Initiative #10. Rage specifically told him not to fool around, but...
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Slapstick becomes stronger and larger when he gets zapped with electricity, with no explanation for the extra mass. Of course, he's based on Saturday-morning cartoons, which are equally guilty of abusing physics. Plus, he has the power to store mass in another dimension, so it's not implausible for him to take some into himself.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Happens to Slapstick as of Avengers: The Initiative.
  • Show Within a Show: Steve and Mike's own, heavily modified Slapstick comic "A real comic book hero has to have majesty!" as well as Steve's dream which plays like an old monster movie.
  • Take That: A major source of comedy, especially at Comic Book super heroes. Such as when Steve and Mike were pondering super-names...
    Mike: "How about 'Captain Clown'?"
    Steve: "Dumb."
    Mike: "'The Joker'?"
    Steve: "Taken."
    Mike: "'The Jester'?"
  • Toon Physics: Slapstick is able to freely abuse Toon Physics, making him a Nigh Invulnerable minor Reality Warper, and can bounce back from any and all injuries almost instantly. He's also performed otherwise impossible feats, such as swallowing a box of bullets and rapidly firing them by spitting them out like a machine gun.
  • Trigger Happy: The Overkiller.
  • We Need a Distraction: Done in issue #4 with a cup of coffee.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The Overlord's castle in Dimension X stayed upright with this; when Steve's schoolmates awoke from their Mediocritizer-induced stupor, it promptly collapsed.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Parodied in issue #2, which features Spider-Man as a Special Guest. Noteworthy because Spidey was all but useless in the issue, with many jokes made at his expense.
    • They also played this trope on the cover of issue 4 with Slapstick promoting the fact Ghost Rider was in the issue. As it turns out, Ghostie was only one of many heroes who popped up that issue.