Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Hero Case File #106: Herbie Popnecker

Normally, when I write these up, I am writing up on a character whose adventures I’ve read and are somewhat familiar to me.

Herbie Popnecker?  I found out about him in a roundabout way and here we are.

I had a vague memory of Herbie existing from, well, somewhere, and I can’t remember where.  My thinking is he was on an Inventory feature/list from the AV Club or one of Cracked’s weird lists.  But then I found a recommendation to check him out from the AV Club listing him as the protagonist of a “bizarre comic book” (their words) and hey, I needed a new character for this feature and here we are.

So, what’s Herbie’s deal?  Well, he looks like more of a weird comic relief type character, the kind who appears in more comedic books, but he did have some superpowers, so that’ll count.

Herbie is a short, fat kid who generally speaks in broken English if at all.  He’s nearly constantly sucking down on magic lollypops.  The lollypops give him superpowers, generally things like walking on air, superstrength, and even invisibility in some cases.  He seems to sleep an awful lot, and despite appearances doesn’t eat much aside from the constant stream of lollypops.  He can talk to animals and the occasional inanimate object, and in the event that he gets in trouble, attackers often quit as soon as they realize it’s freakin’ Herbie.

Sometimes, Herbie has to issue a threat.

This threat. Note the look of fear on that tiger’s face.

Yes, Herbie seems to be mostly an indestructible dynamo.  Well, a lazy one.  He doesn’t ever seem to go anywhere in a hurry.  He just wanders around and does whatever and things work out.

Oddly enough, the only people who seem completely oblivious to Herbie’s superpowers/path of destruction and anarchy are his own parents.  His mom is the typical sweet, loving mom character.  His dad, something of a screw-up, is a conventionally generic handsome man who, for some reason, constantly berates his son.  I mean, having a kid of questionable intelligence that just wanders wherever, causing havoc wherever he goes, while constantly snacking on lollypops is probably going to be a problem for some men.  But this may be akin to J. Jonah Jameson being Peter Parker’s dad while not liking Peter and being unaware that Peter is also Spider-Man.

In that analogy, Peter would also have to look like a lazy slug, which may be part of the joke.

A character like Herbie seems to be more along the lines of a humor character from that era.  Herbie was the creation of Richard E. Hughes and Ogden Whitney and was published by the now defunct American Comics Group.  Superpowers aside, Herbie seems like the kind of character that wouldn’t look too out of place next to a  Richie Rich or a Baby Huey.  You know, if either of those guys ever met JFK.

Or fought and defeated Satan.

Or had women throw themselves at him on a routine basis.

He still has a lollypop in his mouth.

Wikipedia tells me those women who fell for Herbie would often later leave him for something, well, not human.  Herbie never minded.  Herbie’s still a kid.  He doesn’t seem to get too emotional over, well, anything.  He looks like he’s literally sleepwalking through life.

Herbie, nicknamed the “Fat Fury” in his superhero guise, had a solo series that ran for twenty-three issues before American Comics Group just folded.  However, if this sort of thing intrigues you, hypothetical reader, at all, Dark Horse has been collecting and reprinting his adventures in hardback form.

So, really Herbie the character might be as hard to put down as Herbie the overweight boy who loves magic lollypops.

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