Fly-Man #31, "Fly-Man's Partners in Peril!"

FLY MAN  (aka ADVENTURES OF THE FLY) #31; May 1965; published by Radio 
Comics (aka "Archie Adventure Series"); Richard Goldwater (?), editor; featuring 
"The Fly Man's Partners in Peril!"  This issue carries no credits, but I'm 
guessing it's the same creative team that produced each succeeding issue of 
Archie's "Mighty" comics line-- Jerry Siegel, scripter, and Paul Reinman,  artist.

I can't tell you what's on the cover as my copy of this issue is  coverless. 
It *does* carry a "Fly Man" logo, right?  The official  indicia title of this
issue is still ADVENTURES OF THE FLY, though with the next  issue it will
change to FLY MAN.

Review by Bill Henley

Created but  quickly abandoned by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Archie Comics'
insectoid  superhero The Fly buzzed through some 30 issues from 1959 through
1964 before  vanishing.  The bulk of the run, written by Robert Bernstein and
drawn by  John Rosenberger and John Giunta, seemed to be trying to imitate a Mort
Weisinger Superman comic (Bernstein also wrote for that line, as well as
briefly  for Stan Lee at Marvel), what with blonde sidekick Fly Girl, the bald 
Luthor-like Spider as archfoe, and even a Kryptonite-like weakness in 
"chlordane" (a real insecticide). 

After dropping off the  newsstands for several months, the Fly returned with
a change of name to Fly Man  and a change of inspiration-- rather than aping
Weisinger's DC super-titles,  the  seemed to be trying, rather ineptly, to
imitate Stan Lee's Marvel  style.  (Later on, when Archie adopted a "Mighty Comics
Group" logo for its  small superhero line, Stan would complain publicly about
this on his "Bullpen  Bulletin" page.) 

On the splash page, Fly Man is bowed down,  looking like he has an Excedrin
headache, and fretting "Out-numbered!  And  my super-powers are gone!" as the
Spider and a trio of burly henchmen chase  after him.  But an orange and green
costumed figure swoops down from the  sky shouting, "Here's one pal you can
count on, Fly Man... THE COMET!"  Up  from the sewers through a manhole comes
another ally, the patriotically costumed  Shield.  And swinging down on a rope
is a yellow and blue clad mystery man;  "And best of all, Fly-Man, here's your
buddy...BLACK HOOD!   YA-HOOOO!"

At "State Pen", a guard describes a familiar-looking con to a  visitor; "He's
the infamous SPIDER...the master criminal scientist who was  jailed by THE
FLY-MAN!  He talks of little else but that he's going to get  even with the
WINGED WONDER!"  (So if Fly-Man jailed him, why does he want  to get even with
Hawkman?)  The guards are unconcerned when the Spider  suddenly leaps into the
driver's seat of a visiting delivery truck, figuring  that there is no way the
truck can get through the locked prison gate.  But  then the truck spouts
"spider-like extension rods" and bounces over the prison  wall.  It seems Spider
got his henchmen on the outside to replace the  regular delivery truck with a
vehicle with some extras.  Hearing on the  radio of the Spider's escape,
attorney Thomas Troy rubs his magic ring and  declares, "I wish to become....THE
FLY-MAN!" and is transformed into the  arthropod avenger.  He catches up to the
Spider's speeding truck, but the  villain launches himself into the air from an
ejector seat, and hurtles into  "Entrance Y" of his hidden mountain lair,
where a giant net cushions his  fall.  Donning his new villain costume (a truly
absurd-looking purple and  white number) the Spider thorws a switch which
somehow transforms his hideout  into a crystalline mountainside, creating multiple
images of the Spider to  confuse the Fly-Man.  "One of you is sickening enought
to look at,  Spider....but DOZENS of you....!"  Not to be outdone in insults,
CAN'T  CAPTURE ME, YOU FLY-BY-NIGHT, CUT-RATE HERO!"  Ooh, that hurts.   Sudden
ly all the Spider images vanish, as does the real Spider, leaving Fly-Man  to
buzz off in frustration. 

The next day, the New York World's  Fair of 1965 is threatened by a giant
flying metallic claw, helpfully emblazoned  with the Spider's web insignia. 
"That claw is about to scoop up the entire  World's Fair!  He pobably wants to HOG
the entire fair to himself?",  Fly-Man observes. To stop the giant claw,
Fly-Man exercises a super-power which  he had never previously used in his run as
The Fly-- the ability to grow to  giant size.  (Clearly, we're supposed to be
reminded of Marvel's Ant-Man  who gained the power to become Giant-Man.  But
it figures that in imitating  a Marvel character, the Archie crew picked one of
the least successful Marvel  stars.)  The supersized Fly-Man seizes the giant
claw and twists it into  ruin, but he has fallen into the Spider's trap, as
the villain activates an  electric charge within the claw, hitting Fly-Man with
a potentially fatal  shock.  Fortunately, "an amazing, colorful form flashes 
toward the  pain-contorted giant..." It is the Comet, who de-atomizes the
claw with "the  power rays from the miniature projectors on my gloves'
fingertips".   Fly-Man recognizes the Comet, which is quite a trick, considering that
when last  seen in the Golden Age of Comics, the Comet not only wore an entirely
different  costume, but wound up dead (his brother became the Hangman, one of
the more  bloodthirsty superheroes, to avenge him).  But it seems the Comet
got  better, and after spending years ruling the planet Altrox, he has decided
to  come home to Earth to make life harder for the criminal element here.  
"Bah!  Why didn't that nosey superhero from Altrox stick around his own  galaxy
where he belongs!" the Spider fumes.  But as headlines scream of how  the
mighty Fly-Man had to have his bacon saved by another superhero, and the  Spider
plans another trap, Fly-Man goes off to a remote Pacific island to hurl  the
lava from an exploding volcano back into the crater with the wind from his 
beating wings (a one-panel sequence that doesn't seem to have anything to do  with
the rest of the story-- and you'd think that much wind would do about as 
much damage to the hapless natives as the volcano).  Meanwhile, a fancy  society
party is crashed by a trio of green-costumed miscreants, who politely 
announce themselves; "I'm BOPPO, THE MIGHTY!"  "I'm FLIPSY, THE  TERRIFIC!"  "And I'm
BASHER, THE DYNAMIC!  Hand over your valuables,  folks, and you'll live to
tell your ritzy chums all about it!"   But  as the immodest crooks flee in their
getaway car, they are observed by a  housefly who sounds the alarm; "Must
telepathically tip-off my noble friend, THE  FLY-MAN, about these sinister
happenings!"  Now doesn't it make you ashamed  of all the times you've swatted
flies, when you hear how helpful and  public-spirited they can be?  (The
communicating with flies bit seems to be  another rip-off from Ant-Man/
least, I don't recall The Fly doing  that in his previous run.)  Little does
the fly, or Fly-Man, know that the  robbery is part of the Spider's latest trap,
for he has timed events so that  Fly-Man will arrive on the scene just when
his super-powers-- which he possesses  for only one hour out of every 24
hours-- will expire.  (Again, I don't  recall the old Fly having this particular

On the splash  panel of Part 2 of this epic, "Battle of the Super-Heroes!",
poor Fly-Man is  being beaten up by his costumed fair-weather friends.  The
Shield:   "Go FLY a kite, Fly-Man!"  (What biting wit....) "Black Hood: "You... 
INSECT!"  Comet:  "You don't DESERVE good friends like us!"  But  before that,
Fly-Man catches up with the getaway car his "insect chums gave me  the
tiperoo about!"  He walks up a wall towards the crooks' hideout,  reflecting, "Now
to sneak up on the sneaks!"  (In fairness, this isn't an  example of Fly-Man
ripping off Spider-Man-- he was doing the wall-crawling thing  in the early
Simon and Kirby stories, well before Spidey appeared. And yeah, I  know Kirby
claimed both the Fly and Spider-Man were offshoots of his and Simon's  old Silver
Spider concept)  He recklessly resolves"My super-powers are  about to wear
off...but I want to nab these no-goods before calling it a  day!"  Boppo, Flipsy
and Basher are counting their loot when a light bulb  falls on one of their
heads, and they notice Fly-Man standing upside down on the  ceiling, but then
Fly-Man falls ungracefully into their midst instead of leaping  heroically, and
they realize his fly-powers have flown.  Our helpless hero  is bopped, flipped
and bashed into unconsciousness by the trio of hoods; and  then taken to the
roof and hurled onto a nearby railroad track in front of an  oncoming train;
"We'll get rid of him GOOD,  like our leader-boss-man,  SPIDER, said we should!
The Spier sure was smart to pay us ten times what we  earned as a circus
act!"  But to their chagrin, a figure clad in glorious  red, white and blue leaps
down onto the track and carries Fly-Man to safety, as  the crooks' bullets
bounce harmlessly off his metal chest emblem.   "SH-Shield!"  a groggy Fly-Man
exclaims.  After Shield makes short  work of the Spider's three agents, Fly-Man
wonders where the original  star-spangled sentinel had disappeared to for all
those years before reappearing  to save his butt.  "I'd... rather not talk
about!" Shield says  reticently.  Shield disappears suddenly, leaving
a grateful Fly-Man, a  frustrated Spider-- "I guess this just wasn't my day! 
So let the Fly-Man  live a little!  I'll see to it that it won't be for very
long!"-- and  newspaper headlines blaring how Fly-Man now needs help to fight

The next day, with his powers returned, Fly-Man receives a  telepathic
message from the insect inhabitants of a nearby forest that they are  threatened by
a forest fire.  He shrinks down to the same size as his  insect friends, but
somehow even at tiny size manages to generate enough wind  with his beating
wings to put out the blaze.  But then, as he returns to  normal size, a passing
plane drops an odd device which causes the nearby plants,  and then the
Fly-Man, to droop iin weakness.  "This device can drain most  of the energy out of
living organisms, including YOU!", the Spider boasts from  his remote lab.  And
it contains a bomb which will shortly destroy our hero  who is too weak to
flee. But suddenly a heat ray--wielded by a yellow-and-black  clad figure riding
a flying metallic robot "horse"-- melts the bomb, restoring  Fly-Man's
strength.  While Fly-Man recovers, his savior the Black Hood  scatters the Spider's
fleet of bombing planes and sends them back to face the  wrath of their master
for their failure.  "Do me a favor!  Tell  everybody that the MAN OF MYSTERY
has returned to crusade against blackguards of  all varieties again!"

The next day, a skywriting message invites all  superheroes to join forces
and form a group to be called "The Mighty  Crusaders".  When the Fly-Man,
Shield, Black Hood and Comet gather at a  deserted circus lot, each of them denies
creating the message, but each of the  heroes thinks the idea is kind of keen--
except for the Fly-Man!  "In the  first place, the name THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS
is corny, like something dreamed up  in a comic book!  But more important, I'm
not convinced you 'super-heroes'  ARE MIGHTY enough to deserve joining up
with ME!"  Understandably, after  the aid they each just gave the insect
crusader, the heroes are miffed; "You've  associated with insects so long, Fly-Man,
it's driven you BUGS!"  Fly-Man  challenges all the heroes to take him on to
prove their worth, only to find  himself beaten to his knees.  Making the escuse
that his hour's worth of  power has run out again, Fly-Man shouts "WHO NEEDS
YOU?" as the others stalk off  in high dudgeon.  If there's a Miss Manners for
super-heroes, Fly-Man is in  big trouble.  But maybe he's in big trouble
anyway, for, as he abruptly  repents of his rude behavior and vows to apologize to
the other heroes, a  sinister circus clown suddenly appears and reveals
himself as the Spider,  prepared to kill Fly-Man with a simple, ordinary gun.

Before we get to  Part 3, we have the annual Statement of Circulation,
covering the title under  its previous incarnation of ADVENTURES OF THE FLY and
giving the average  circulation per issue as 197,748 copies (a figure which today
would be a  phenomenal success for a comic, but then got THE FLY at least
temporarily  canned) and a house ad for the adventures of "THE SHADOW...Mighty
Dark Avenger!"  in his purple and green superhero suit that probably gave Walter
Gibson the  hives.

In Part 3, "The Wicked Web of the Wily Spider!" the  arachno-villain strips
off the remains of his clown suit to reveal his other  clown, his
"customary Spider costume".  Wanting to make the most  of his glorious
opportunity, he punches and batters Fly-Man mercilessly before  going for the kill. 
"From the murderious alleys of Hong Kong to the  terraces of elegant Park Avenue
penthouses, criminals everywhere will ttremble  at the mere sound of my name! 
They'll gasp, 'The Spider knocked off the  mighty FLY-MAN!" the Spider
gloats.  He goes on to muse, "Of course,  there'll be a few jealous crumbs who'll
sneer, 'How come it took him SO  LONG?'  Them I'll ignore!  They're beneath my

But  then, suddenly, the battered and helpless Fly-Man stands up straight and
addresses his tormentor, "Okay, 'King Leer', knock it off1  Muffle the 
monologue!  Bill Shakerspeare you're not!"  "Ulp!", is the Spider's  more concise
comment as Fly-Man confesses that he has been merely play-acting  the loss of
his powers to allow the Spider the chance to "make a complete dunce  of
yourself!"  In fact, the Fly-Man reveals as he traps the Spider in a  cocoon and
beats his wings to send off a buzzing signal to his three allies,  their whole
spat was a put-on for the Spider's benefit.  When he first  arrived at the
circus, Fly-man was warned by a friendly real spider tht the  villain was in
hiding; "A SPIDER helped me defeat THE SPIDER!"  But as the  heroes laugh at their
foe's discomfiture, Spider manages to vanish ouf of the  cocoon and disappear
after taunting the heroes-- including, "Bye-bye-  ANT-MAN!  Crawl back into
your ant-hole!"  Somebody really *was*  getting this confused with a Marvel
book....  Though he hs escaped, the  Spider is chagrined that the idea of "The
Mighty Crusaders"-- which he conceived  only to lure the heroes into a trap-- may
actually become a threatening  reality.  He invites his henchmen Boppo and
Basher to kick him, and as the  heroes muse over whether they really should form
the Mighty Crusaders-- and a  caption urges the readers to write in their
opinions-- Spider peeks out of a  garbage can and hints, "Vote NO, readers!  I've
got enough troubles  already!" 

Despite the Spider's heartfelt plea, the Mighty  Crusaders did form
(including Fly Girl, who doesn't show up in this issue) and  had a seven issue run in
their own title from "Mighty Comics".  But perhaps  Fly-Man would have been
better off if he really had run his "super-buddies" out  of his book.  Though the
FLY-MAN title ran another  eight issues, much  of the story space was usurped
from Fly-Man for backups of the other former MLJ  heroes.... and with issue
#40 the title was changed to MIGHTY COMICS PRESENTS  and Fly-Man was squeezed
out (or swatted)  altogether.