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Comic Book / Madballs

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A popular toyline of rubber balls with grotesque faces, the Madballs had a short-lived comic book adaptation printed from 1986 to 1988 by Marvel Comics subsidiary Star Comics.

Originally starting off as a three-issue miniseries, the comic began with the first series Madballs being normal balls mutated and brought to life by toxic chemicals from the lab of Dr. Frankenbeans, who becomes obsessed with capturing the Madballs.

The miniseries proved popular enough to be extended into an ongoing series, which introduced the second series Madballs and the Super Madballs, but the series was cancelled after ten issues.

Tropes included:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Snivelitch is one for Miss Tic the Mystic. Miss Tic is very disgusted by his ugliness and Snivelitch is oblivious to her rejections.
    • Snivelitch would also be on the receiving end of this trope in one issue where Dr. Frankenbeans created a female Madball named Madbelle, who fell for him. Snivelitch's disgust at Madbelle's affections caused him to blurt out that she was made to trick the Madballs into turning against each other. Needless to say, the Madballs were not amused.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Frankenbeans, the local Mad Scientist who schemes to capture the Madballs for his scientific experiments.
  • Captain Colorbeard: One of the villains was a pirate named Captain Weirdbeard.
  • Covers Always Lie: Some of the comic covers are a bit misleading in regards to what happens in the actual stories.
    • The cover of the seventh issue, which was made to tie in with the Madballs Head-Popping Action Figures, showed Horn Head with a body even though the only Madballs that got bodies in the story were Skull Face, Snake Bait, Dust Brain, Wolf Breath, Lock Lips, and Slobulus.
    • The eighth issue's cover gave the impression that the story would have Frankenbeans' assistant Snivelitch become a baby as well as the Madballs, but such a thing doesn't happen. Instead, Frankenbeans and Snivelitch both become children at the end of the story when the Madballs punish them for using the water from the Fountain of Youth on them.
    • The cover for the tenth and final issue shows Slobulus refusing to enter Dr. Frankenbeans until he's washed his mouth, when Fist Face, Bash Brain, and Touchdown Terror are the only Madballs featured in that story.
  • Dr. Fakenstein: The comic's main villain is Dr. Viktor Frankenbeans, whose name is an obvious reference to Victor Frankenstein of the Frankenstein mythos.
  • Eleventy Zillion: In the ninth issue, I.N.C., Inc. makes the demand for twenty-seven quillion dollars.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: In the second issue, Snivelitch is shown to have a picture of his mother.
  • Evil Knockoff: Ever since the first Madballs were born and attacked Dr. Frankenbeans, the villain tried to defeat the Madballs by creating his own versions. His efforts resulted in the creation of the Badballs, the second series Madballs, and the Super Madballs. The latter two evil knockoffs changed their ways and sided with the original Madballs after their first encounter.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: The main story of the tenth and final issue was about Bash Brain, Fist Face, and Touchdown Terror being shrunk so they could enter Dr. Frankenbeans and take out a virus inside his body.
  • Flying Face: The Madballs were depicted as floating heads in contrast to their animated counterparts each being a Cephalothorax.
  • Fountain of Youth: The main story of the eighth issue had Dr. Frankenbeans and Snivelitch use water from the Fountain of Youth to turn Wolf Breath, Horn Head, and Touchdown Terror into baby Madballs. After the three Madballs return to their normal ages, they retaliate by exposing the two villains to the water, which causes them to become children.
  • Freudian Excuse: Grammar Moses from the tenth and final issue explains to the Madballs that she became a supervillain because she wanted to be an English teacher, but no one would hire her.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • Dr. Frankenbeans runs a chemical company called R.U.I.N., which stands for Research Unlimited In Nucleonics.
    • The ninth issue has Dr. Frankenbeans form an organization with several of the other villains called I.N.C., Inc., with I.N.C. standing for "International Network of Creeps".
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The villain Anchor Man, whose real name was Ben DeFax, reformed after his first appearance, but would return to his supervillain persona once more in the penultimate issue of the series.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The second series Madballs and the Super Madballs originally began as Evil Counterparts to the Madballs that Dr. Frankenbeans created intentionally until they learned to get along with them.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: In the eighth issue, Snivelitch mentions that his father used to give him the pet name "Get lost".
  • The Igor: Snivelitch. He is ugly and short and often assists Dr. Frankenbeans in his plans to stop the Madballs.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Colonel Corn's super power was invoking this. He was able to tell jokes so awful that it weakened the Madballs.
  • Legion of Doom: The ninth issue had Dr. Frankenbeans and Snivelitch attempt to defeat the Madballs by teaming up with the other villains Miss Tic the Mystic, Colonel Corn, Maiden Hong Kong, The Badballs, Anchor Man, and Captain Weirdbeard to form I.N.C., Inc.
  • Merchandise-Driven: In addition to this comic being based on a toyline, several issues were devoted to showcasing other Madballs products, particularly the second series Madballs, Super Madballs, and the Madballs Head-Popping Action Figures.
  • "Miss X" Pun: Miss Tic is appropriately a mystic.
  • Pirate Parrot: Captain Weirdbeard had a parrot named McCaw.
  • Punny Name: Many of the comic's villains have names that are puns, such as Colonel Corn, Bermuda Schwartz, Grammar Moses, and Miss Tic.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Snake Bait was depicted as pronouncing his S's like hisses due to the Madball's reptilian nature.
  • Terrible Trio:
    • The Badballs. They are the first Evil Counterpart to the Madballs created and there are three of them.
    • The Super Madballs were also this prior to their Heel–Face Turn.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: The Madballs and some of their enemies (the Badballs, Madbelle, the Vegeterribles, and Colonel Corn) came to be because they were exposed to the pond full of toxic chemicals near Dr. Frankenbeans' lab.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: A downplayed example occurred in the main story of the seventh issue, which served as a tie-in to the Madballs Head-Popping Action Figures. The story featured Snake Bait, an already existing Madball, as one of the Madballs that got bodies even though a Head-Popping figure of Snake Bait was never made.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The main story of the tenth issue began with Dr. Frankenbeans throwing a tantrum after the Madballs stumbled upon his latest scheme before he could carry it out. The stress causes him to fall into a coma, after which the Madballs are begged by Snivelitch to save the doctor's life.
  • Yellow Peril: The comic featured a Chinese villainess named Maiden Hong Kong.