Saturday, October 1, 2011

E-Man Part Nine--The Genius Plant

by Jack Seabrook

After attending a softball game where E-Man played first base (the actual bag, not the position), Nova visits Professor Wright in order to conduct an interview for the Xanadu Gazette.  Wright has an enormous cranium and an elongated forehead, and he tells Nova that he needs a supply of genius plants to stay brilliant.  Before Nova's eyes his head shrinks and his intelligence shrinks along with it.

A flying robot bursts through a window and kills the professor; Nova dispatches the robot and transforms into her superhero garb.  After meeting up with E-Man, they visit Michael Mauser, who is working on a case he calls Highbrow.  Professor Wright was only one of several prominent men whose large foreheads coincide with their genius.  General Dove tells them that all of the men belong to an organization that plans to take over the world from its base on an island.  E-Man and Nova agree to investigate.

Energy being or not, Nova
always looks great!

Part two finds E-Man and Nova reaching the island in the form of dolphins and then birds.  Captured and brought to see Genius One, they learn that he had been a scientist who discovered a new species of plant with the late Professor Wright.  The two men ate the plants and became geniuses, with elongated foreheads and massive brains.  Genius One plans to conquer the Earth and make it a paradise.

 E-Man and Nova enter the island's computer and cause it to destroy the genius plants; the army follows and attacks the island.  Deprived of brain food, Genius One's head shrinks back to sub-normal size, making him a moron and ending the threat.

After the excitement of E-Man #8, which featured Nova's death and rebirth as an energy being and which was the first full-length E-Man story, "The Genius Plant" is a disappointment.  The first page is a rehash of the duo's origin stories.  The rest of the story doesn't make much sense.  Now that Nova is no longer human, it seems like she should not need to go to college anymore, yet she is suddenly interviewing a scientist for the school newspaper.  The menace of the genius plants is never very clearly explained, and E-Man and Nova have little trouble defeating them.  The story is, unfortunately, a series of cliches strung together.

Teddy is now a regular character
in E-Man, having accompanied
E-Man and Nova back home from
the North Pole in issue #8.
 Although I was disappointed that the E-Man story was not full-length, at least the second story features Rog-2000, the wisecracking robot.  This is his third appearance and, as always, Nicola Cuti writes and John Byrne draws.  In "The Wish," Rog breaks up a mugging and is rewarded by the victim, who turns out to be a witch.  Without his knowledge, she turns him into a human being!  Rog as a human is funny, looking like a flesh and blood version of his robot self, and he also happens to resemble someone named "Duck" Griffin.  There is a contract out on Duck, so the unsuspecting Rog becomes the target of murderous gangsters.  Only a chance encounter with the old witch on the subway allows him to turn back into a robot, just in time to bash the bad guys.

"The Wish" is another entertaining Rog-2000 story, highlighted by the very 1970s hip human version of the robot protagonist.  As usual, John Byrne's art is cartoonish and fun, making a nice complement to Joe Staton's similarly lighthearted approach in the E-Man tales.

Rog as a human, with shaggy mop
and bell bottoms.

This ad appeared in E-Man #9 for
Charlton Bullseye, a very good fanzine!

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