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 appearance in Avengers: The Initiative. His first ongoing series was announced as part of 2016's Marvel NOW! relaunch, starting in December 2016.
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.
After his original 1992 series, Slapstick briefly appeared with The New Warriors, appeared regularly as a recruit in Avengers: The Initiative, then was a regular member of Deadpool's Mercs for Money. In 2017, Slapstick appeared in Slapstick: Volume 2, a six-issue series created by Reilly Brown, Fred Van Lente, and Diego Olortegui.
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.
The Awesome Slapstick provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adults Are Useless: Invoked in issue #4 by Slapstick after he dispatched the Neutron Bum while the other adult superheroes (including the Fantastic Four and The Avengers) were "sitting on [their] thumbs"... which promptly gets him booted into the next borough by Ben Grimm.
- Anthropomorphic Food: As a Shout-Out to Calvin and Hobbes
- Amusement Park of Doom: The original series started with Steve Harmon sneaking into a carnival being a front for kidnappings by the clowns from Dimension X.
- Another Dimension: Dimension X/Ecch is an alternate dimension where everything is cartoony.
- Ash Face: In issue #2, Slapstick is shot in the face by The Overkiller, but suffers no effect except for a blackened face and an annoyed attitude.
- Black and Nerdy: Mike is black and a nerd.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Slapstick will occasionally address the reader in covers, and the final page of issue #4."I need my own series! Write to Tom DeFalco! Write to Mark Gruenwald! Write to your Congressman!"
- Captain Ersatz:
- 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 and remarks how pretending to be dead gets them every time.Scientist Supreme: "We have to <ACK!>"Steve: "You mean, we have to act?"Scientist Supreme: "No, we have to <ACK!>" (feigns heart attack. Badly.)
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Overkiller swears vengeance on all mutants after a news bulletin about the X-Men interrupts the episode of Wheel of Fortune he was watching.
- Enfant Terrible: Oliver Denton from the third issue is a Child Prodigy who intends to use his intellect for evil.
- Eye Pop / Jaw Drop: Done in issue #2 when Slapstick sees Mary Jane Watson-Parker.
- 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: Oliver Denton is a little boy with a genius intellect who creates a giant robot minion named Teddy.
- 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.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Scientist Supreme looks suspiciously like Groucho.
- Non-Humans Lack Attributes:
- Mentioned by Mike when Steve is thrilled that the school beauty, Barb Halsey, is in love with Slapstick... who lacks the requisite equipment.
- Pun: Lots, such as the villain of issue #4, the Neutron Bum.
- Rule of Funny: The
mainonly driving point of the series is having weird and impossible things happen because of how funny they are.
- 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.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: A great portion of the Neutron Bum's dialogue is Symbol Swearing.
- Solid Gold Poop: The Taurs defecate gold. Their golden excretions are coveted by their enemy Gorgonzola.
- Straw Misogynist: The Taurs have a blatantly sexist attitude toward Taurette, one of them even remarking that they need to be condescending toward her. Their leader is even named Patriarchy Taur.
- Take That!: A major source of comedy, especially at Comic Book superheroes. 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'?"Steve: "Dumb and taken."
- Trigger Happy: The Overkiller likes to shoot.
- We Need a Distraction: Done in issue #4 with a cup of coffee, which Slapstick uses to lower the Neutron Bomb's guard before knocking him out.
- 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.
- Berserk Button: In his 2016 series, NEVER threaten his niece or nephew. Making them cry will also net you one hammer to the skull.
- Big Bad: In the 2016 series, the main villain is the Princess of Dimension Ecch, who has been manipulating the inhabitants of her home dimension by removing their genitalia and using Slapstick as a scapegoat.
- Captain Ersatz: The 2016 series includes a series of antagonists from Dimension X who are all blatantly based on cartoon characters from the 1970s through the 1990s, including Bro-Man (He-Man), the Taurs (Smurf/My Little Pony centaur hybrids), and the War D.O.G.s (cross between G.I. Joe and Road Rovers). The Sorcerer Supreme of Dimension X/Ecch is a copy of Gargamel dressed in Mickey Mouse's hat and robes from The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
- Losing Your Head: In the 2016 series, the Scientist Supreme of Dimension Ecch, his proper name revealed to be Julius T. Flakfyser, is shown to have been reduced to a disembodied head ever since the Overlord's lair was blown up in the first issue of the original series.
- Morality Pet: His niece and nephew in the 2016 series. Between this and his attempts to be their cool uncle, a slight amount of prodding from them is enough for him to get off his ass and help people.
- Evil All Along: The Princess of Ecch at first appears to be an ally in the 2016 series, but she turns out to be the real reason the inhabitants of Dimension Ecch lost their genitals and tries to get Slapstick and Mike to kill each other.
- Mad Scientist: Quasimodo from the 2016 series. Slapstick himself tries to replicate his dimensional portal technology after he is caught and pardoned by ARMOR.
- Non-Humans Lack Attributes: The 2016 series reveals that when Slapstick defeated the Overlord of Dimension X/Ecch in his very first appearance, he ended up triggering a device that caused this same effect on the entire population of the Dimension. They were less than pleased with their "savior" when he returned. The princess of Dimension Ecch was actually behind everyone losing their genitals, but after she is defeated, the inhabitants become anatomically correct again. Unfortunately for Slapstick, he's still smooth.
- The 2016 series features a dig toward the original 1992 miniseries where Slapstick chides his friend Mike for retelling his origins in his planned graphic novel because gaining his powers to fight clowns from another dimension is too goofy for anyone to believe. Quite tellingly, the art style of Mike's graphic novel matches that of said miniseries.
- The third issue has Mike being told that his graphic novel probably won't last six issues. The 2016 series ended up ending at the sixth issue.
- Something We Forgot: The 2016 series ends with Slapstick remarking that all the loose ends have been tied and that everyone got what they wanted. We then see Quasimodo held prisoner by A.R.M.O.R., who vows to get even with Slapstick for failing to prevent him from falling into A.R.M.O.R. custody as he promised.
- That's All, Folks!: The sixth issue of the 2016 series has Slapstick remark "That's all, Folks" after the Princess of Ecch is killed by an anvil and ends with a box reading "That's All, Folks" on the last page.