Thursday, May 2, 2013
When Trouble Calls!
Underdog was and is a fantastic name and concept. The sheer number of Superman parodies must number in the hundreds, but most don't ever get past a single outing or disappear into the mist of time and memory. Not so Underdog. The humble Shoeshine who becomes in times of need, most especially Sweet Polly Purebred's time of need, the almost always calm and steady Underdog is a formula which wins almost every time out. Taking a super-energy pill might be considered a troubling concept in these overly medicated days, but it always seemed merely a clever plot device at the time.
Underdog is just a perfect name for a superhero, at once using a commonly understood term and at the same time perfectly positioning the character in the context of his role as understated hero. It's that steady unflappable resonance which defines Underdog for me at least, his character voiced by the late Wally Cox with a mildly wry tone but rarely if ever raising his voice. Actions spoke louder than words for this protector of the weak and helpless.
Underdog was published by Gold Key and later by Charlton briefly. Here we get a good look at a rather potent cover by Frank Johnson. There's little doubting the danger Underdog is in at the hands of his main foil, the villainous Simon Bar Sinister. Phone booths are a thing of the past these days so a youngster scanning this cover might not even be able to decipher the situation.
I own quite a few of the Underdog cartoons, but I haven't popped for the complete dvd set. It's tempting, but reviews are somewhat mixed on it. It certainly sports a handsome box design.