Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, June 16, 2023


Bulletman was part of the new wave of superheroes following the advent of Superman two years earlier.  He was created by Bill Parker and Jon Smalle for Fawcett Publishing, which already had a recognizable new star in Captain Marvel.  Fawcett experiemented with a new type of comic book for Bulletman's first appearance:  Nickel Comics #1 (May 1940) cost, as the name implies, just five cents -- half of what other comics cost at the time.  To make up for the shortfall, Nickel Comics had half the page count of regular comics but was issued two time a month, so it all evened out.  The experiment failed after eight issues and Bulletman transferred to Master Comics that October, where he appeared for 99 issues, ending in August 1949.  From Summer 1941 to Fall 1946 Bulletman had his own title, lasting for 16 issues.  He also appeared for eight issues in America's Greatest Comics and made one appearance each in Mary Marvel and Whiz Comics.  He was second only to Captain Marvel as Fawcett's most popular superhero.

Jim Barr's father, police sergeant Pat Barr, was murdered by criminals when Jim was a child.  Jim vowed vengeance on all criminals.  Unfortunatrely, Jim was a runt and could not pass the physical to become a policeman,  But Jim was supersmart and was hired as a forensic investigator, specializing in baistics.  He developed a formula which he thought would eliminate the toxins in the human body that made men turn to crime.  Trying it on himself, he became superstrong, putting on 60 pounds of muscle overnight, and even more intelligent.  He made himself a costume and began fighting crime as Bulletman.  The most distinctive part of the costume was his bullet-shaped helmet, whihc was "gravity regulating."  Now, not only could he fly, but as an exrra bonus, the helemt repelled any bullets firedf at him.

As with Clark Kent and Superman, nobody seems to realize that Jim Barr and Bulletman were the same person until his girlfriend, Susan Kent (later to be his wife), discovered his secret identity.  Susan was also the daughter of a police sergeant and Jim made a helmet for her so she became Bulletgirl.  (I guess Bulletwoman would have been too much of stretch for the comic's audience,)  Bulletman #10 introduce their pet, Bulletdog, complete with his own gravity regulating helmet.  The following year, a neighborhood kid became Bulletboy.  The various bullet helmets must have had great shock absorbers because our heroes tended to smash into things headfirst, just like a bullet would.

To show you what a wholesome title this is, the Editorial Avisory Board for Bulletman in;cuded Eleanor Roosevelt (here noted as the Past President of the Girl Scouts Council of Greater New York), Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Allan Roy Dafoe, M.D. ("The famous Quintuplet doctor"), and The Rev, John W, Tynan, S.J, of (Fordham University). 

Bulletman wandered in comic book Limbo for many years until D.C. Comics leased the rights to various Fawcett characters in 1972.  Since then, Bulletman has appeared in the background in a number of D.C. titles.

Bulletman and Bulletgirl go after The Weeper and Susan's unnamed mutt follows them.  Just as the bad guys are about to shot Susan, the dog attacks, allowing Jim to come tot he rescue.  They decide to reward the pooch with his own helmet and thus Bulletdog was born!  Later, when The Weeper has both Bulletman and Bulletgirl encased in ever-hardening cement, Bulletdog toses a rope to Jim, which he catches in his mouth.  The rope is attached to an elevator, which Bulletdog starts, pulling Jim out of the cement.  Bulletman and Bulletgirl than cappture The Weeper and Bulletdog is rewarded at a fancy French cafe with three turkey legs. (Oh, who's a good boy?  You's a good boy, arentcha?  Cootchie, cootchie.)

Sadly, Bulletdog does not participate in the thee other Bulletman adventures in this issue, as Jim and Susan have to go is alone after The Waxer, Mr. Ego, and The Crackpot.  **sigh**

Enjoy this issue,

1 comment:

  1. Cool. Since I had the oversized DC reprint of WHIZ COMICS #2 (the debut, after an "ashcan" issue never distributed, for copyright/trademark purposes), I knew a small slew of fellow travelers of the Big Red Cheese (Batson/Marvel), which was a nostalgia trip for my father, who caught up with the comics in the early '40s and fondly remembered Spy Smasher and noted his cohort found Ibis the Invincible a bit of a wimp. I've heard of Bulletman, but missed even his DC revival, in the period where I'd pick up whatever spotty distribution would put in front of me that I could afford at the princely sum of a quarter for most of the issues, in 1974-75, but I was drawn mostly to the horror titles, and the heroes with a certain grimness to them, Batman on over to the Spectre and Werewolf-by-Night. DC and Marvel horror anthology reprints, Charlton and Gold Key horror anthologies as well as DC's...all very hit and miss in quality, but I dug 'em.