Bozo the Iron Man
SmashComicsNumber05.jpg
Bozo on cover of Smash Comics #4 (Dec. 1939), art by Gill Fox.
Publication information
PublisherQuality Comics
First appearanceSmash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939)
Created byGeorge Brenner
In-story information
Full nameHugh Hazzard
AbilitiesFlight

Bozo the Iron Man is a fictional character, first appearing in Quality Comics series, Smash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939). The character's adventures were written and drawn by Quality Comics editor George Brenner, using the name "Wayne Reid".[1]

Publication history

The character was introduced in the story Hugh Hazzard and His Iron Man, and he appeared under that billing for the first 11 issues. Starting with issue #12 (July 1940), the cover billing changed to Bozo the Robot with Hugh Hazzard, and further stories were titled Bozo the Iron Man or Bozo the Robot for the remainder of his run.

Bozo and Hazzard made their last appearance in Smash Comics #41 (March 1943).[2]

Fictional character biography

In the first installment, Commissioner Hunt contacts Hugh Hazzard by signal flare and brings him into the investigation of crimes committed by a mysterious robot. Seeing the robot robbing a jewellery store, Hugh manages to temporarily deactivate it and climbs inside its hollow chest to hitch a ride to the robot's home base. This turns out to be the laboratory of an evil scientist, Dr Von Thorp who is taken to the police by his own robot and later declared insane. The robot is again deactivated, and placed on a garbage scow for disposal at sea, but Hugh Hazzard has ideas of using the robot as a crime-fighting tool. He saves the robot from its watery fate, then names the robot Bozo.[3]

In the next installment, Hazzard is shown examining the robot's blueprints, and stating that the robot can be modified to fly. The modified robot, shown flying with a tiny spinning propeller on its head, is again used to foil a crime. Flying would be a part of all subsequent appearances; at times, the robot could fly faster than 400 miles an hour.[3] The robot can also run at 70 miles an hour, and can walk on the bottom of the ocean floor.[4]

Hazzard's method of operating Bozo varied—in some appearances, Hazzard operates the robot remotely; in others, he travels inside the robot and controls it directly, or travels on the robot's back.[5]

After the pattern of the first adventure, Hugh Hazzard tended to encounter criminals committing crimes with scientific gadgetry, and these criminals tended to become the victims of their own weapons.

As World War II began, Quality Comics addressed the world situation by introducing villain surrogates into their fictional universe. Hugh and Bozo fought "Hitlin" and "the Batzis" in Smash Comics #8 (March 1940), and then ended the war the next month in #9 (April 1940) by traveling to "Hatvia" and defeating Dictator "Motler" and his associate, "Fritz Goeing". The wish-fulfillment story ends with a newspaper headline: "World Peace Proclaimed".[1]

The character's final story, in Smash Comics #41, was called "Collecting Scrap". At the end of the story, neighborhood kids collecting scrap metal for the war chase Bozo, intending to reduce him to scrap.[3]

In 1956, Quality Comics characters were sold to DC Comics. Quality's Blackhawk continued to be published without interruption, but most of their other characters languished. While most of the classic Quality superheroes saw print again many years later, Hugh Hazzard has not returned. A robot resembling Bozo did make a single-panel appearance in an issue of James Robinson's Starman (issue #64, April 2000), where the inactive robot was in a store-room with a Japanese collector's horde of Golden Age superhero artifacts.[1]

In Robinson's Superman run, Bozo appears alongside other robots including Mekanique, Robotman and various GI Robot models. The robots are part of Sam Lane's Project 7734.

Influence

Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard, a robot supervillain created for DC's 2006 One Year Later event, was derived from a character proposal by Grant Morrison updating Bozo.[6] The final Gonzo character eventually became something very different: a psychotic android that can impersonate a world leader.[7]

References

  1. ^ a b c Koolman, Mike; Amash, Jim (2011). The Quality Companion. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 107–108. ISBN 978-1605490373.
  2. ^ Markstein, Don. "Bozo the Robot (aka Hugh Hazzard and His Iron Man)". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Morris, Jon (2015). The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Quirk Books. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-59474-763-2.
  4. ^ Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-1605490892.
  6. ^ Williams, Paul (2010). The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts. University Press of Mississippi. p. 66. ISBN 978-1604737929.
  7. ^ "Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters Sketchbook". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2020.