Meet Captain Cornelius, the Terrible ’90s Superhero Who Taught Kids About Corn


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Captain Cornelius, Issue 2

Author: None given
Date: 1995
Publisher: “Corn Power Comics,” which is actually the Kansas Corn Growers Association
Discovered at: A donation from Chris Packham

The Cover Promises: “Join our hero in green as he works to save the planet from alien insect invaders!”

Also: That a freebie comic about a superheroic corn cob with a human face plus limb and muscle structures somehow got to two issues.

And also: That hot lasers shot right into his corn crotch don’t set the kernels there to popping.

Here’s the saddest thing that can be said for Captain Cornelius, the ridiculous comic book designed to teach kids all about the mightiness of corn and the awesomeness of ethanol: That even this piss-yellow corn-lobby spokescob wasn’t immune from the 1990s’ comic-book trend of heroes turning into grim, Dark Knight Returns-style fascists.

At least he doesn’t start out that way. Like all boring infortainment comic heroes, Captain Cornelius is stuck between adventures doing classroom visits:

Can you imagine the humiliation? Being a superhero so lame you have to explain to kids just what you’re supposed to be? Unfortunately, Captain Cornelius doesn’t have time to take questions. The first three I would have asked:

1. Is your hair in curlers?
2. Where’s your tassel?
3. What if a villain comes at you with these?

As Captain Cornelius explains himself to the children, he and the corn he represents are plotted against by the scariest thing that Kansas corn farmers of the ’90s could imagine: A migrant race of brown-skinned invaders.

Captain Cornelius, meanwhile, leads the kids — in their ethanol-fueled schoolbus — on a fieldtrip to meet a typical Kansas farmer:

Also, they apparently went back in time to when the typical Kansas farmer was not the boardroom at ConAgra. Perhaps confused by their temporal displacement, the kids disprove the old maxim that there are no dumb questions:

After that, Captain Corneilus gets suckerpunched by space locusts. The villains descend upon a cornfield and destroy, while Captain Cornelius lies helpless and defeated. Fortunately, his pal Dr. Rowe, a corn scientist, zips out to help! Dedicated to her job, she takes the company car:

Here’s where things start getting dark. A GMO scientist injects a syringe into our all-American vegetable/hero. Its contents?

And so, juiced up on high-fructose him syrup, our hero leaps into action. (Apparently corn syrup has a Popeye’s-spinach effect on him quite different than the tummy-softening it causes in humans. Also, imagine being injected with concentrated sweeteners made out of you. Ick.)

Despite being a cannibalistic drug-fueled abomination, Captain Cornelius — much like the politicians who most support the companies that create the real world’s corn-syrup monsters — rallies Americans to his cause with declarations of tough-on-crime principle:

Clean up the streets! Take back the country! Etc., etc.

And so, with a cornado, Captain Cornelius sends the invading horde back to its own border/planet. The day saved, and his corn still unpopped despite his many hours in the sun, this Beacon of Yellow Vigilante Justice returns to the children to teach them more corn facts. After that, who knows what he does. Dress in civilian clothes and resume his secret identity, which I really hope is Michael Maize, bespectacled farm reporter? Maybe he retires to his Cornucopia of Cornitude?

Before the issue ends, he does take the time to pose for this coloring book-style pinup, which showcases the famous mountains of Kansas — and his “Cornverse” high-tops?

I can’t imagine any child ever bothering to color that page. But even that’s more likely than them visiting this web-site: