1992 Jose Canseco Was the World's Worst Comic-Book Hero
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Baseball Superstars Comics: Jose Canseco
Author: Mitsuko Herrera (words) and Greg Fox (art) Date: 1992 Publisher: Revolutionary Comics Discovered at: Sunnyside Thrift Shop, Queens
The Cover Promises: Like the dollar value of this comic book, Jose Canseco's career will just keep going up and up forever.
Though his brazen, self-affected exploits make national headlines, it is his remarkable feats as a ball played which have gained Cuban-born Jose Canseco the respect of the sports world.
It makes sense that Jose Canseco would be a great comic-book character. Back before he was best known for publicly naming the woman who had accused him of rape, or for ruining Major League Baseball itself, Canseco was a shrimpy kid who came to America and, against all odds, swelled up with impossible, superhuman power. He's exactly like Clark Kent, presuming you replace "the nourishing warmth of a yellow sun" with "anabolic steroids that Superman calls you a 'pussy' for not taking yourself."
Like many good comic-book heroes, such as Spider-Man or the X-Men, the young Canseco of this laudatory 1992 comic is a fundamentally good person harshly judged by a society that fails to recognize his decency. This title page dubs him "Jose Canseco: The Misunderstood Man."
From there, writer Mitsuko Herrera and artist Greg Fox lead us on a quick dash through the Canseco story, from the moment of his birth to the peak of his fame--but for some reason they leave out the key moment that all comic-book origin tales depend on: the day he got bit by a radioactive hypodermic.
Still, there's much to enjoy, here. Canseco and his twin brother were raised in the extra-holy Church of the Jazz Hands.
Seriously, that priest looks like he's pressed up against the Today Show window.
Just as Batman was forever haunted by the murder of his parents, Canseco suffered one traumatic childhood moment that he could never get over:
Unlike most heroes, young Jose understood that you can't get better at everything, so he concentrated on just one of his two deficiencies. Of course, the same year this comic came out, Canseco did talk the Texas Rangers into let him pitch one inning in a game against the Boston Red Sox. He gave up three walks, two hits, and the use of his arm, as he tore a ligament.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves! Here we see young Canseco, a high school baseball star, waiting for an agent to call and sign him.
His unique method of handling rejection? Pretending to be Rodin's Thinker.
Eventually, Canseco got that phone call, and he found intermittent success with minor-league squads in Florida, Idaho, and Wisconsin. It was with a Class-A team in Madison where, briefly, the incredible happened:
Soon, though, Canseco set aside silly concerns like "fielding." Instead, following the death of his mother, he hit the gym with grim determination. There he accomplished something impossible:
Gaining 40 pounds of "pure muscle" in just one season! (Really, that is all that the comic has to say on the subject of how he managed to hulk out so quickly.)
How big did he get? In this next panel his feet appear to be touching the ground.
The sudden man-mountain soon hit the majors, cracking 600-foot homers and managing to steal 40 bases and hit 40 home runs in a single season. But there were some churlish bastards out there who didn't recognize this as the monumental achievement it was: Red Sox fans.
Note, on the right of the first panel, a very angry John Kerry.
Even after Canseco had proven his innocence with a display of the improbable muscles knowledgeable fans had accused him of cheating to grow, the injustice continued. Often, he and his agent would meet in a secret location: on a sheet of college-ruled notebook paper.
Meanwhile, fans and cops kept hassling the hitter:
The media, of course, spun these incidents to make Canseco appear to be a selfish buffoon. Eager to get his side of things out to a misled public, the hero slugger looked America in the eye and offered it the truth:
Fortunately, the Canseco of today is goodhearted enough to let us into his private world without a per-minute long-distance charge. Feast upon the fascinating insights of baseball's Misunderstood Man!
Shocking Detail: Briefly, early in has career, the prayers of his fans gave Canseco the ability to levitate.
Highlight: Nobody can pick a romantic moment like Jose Canseco.
"You think I'm a drug dealer? Marry me!"
Finally: Are you feeling nostalgic for the '90s? Cure yourself by studying these other godawful comics from the Revolutionary crew, some of which are taken from the back cover of the Canseco issue--and the rest from the one about Darryl Strawberry.
Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.
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