July 16, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #324: Chunk

Wally West had this friend with a blackhole inside of him...

I know, hypothetical reader, that after doing write-ups for characters related to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier over the previous two weeks, that it would make a lot of sense to write up Battlestar.

But I think I’ll do that one later.  For now, let’s look at a somewhat forgotten Flash ally, the Chunk.

Created by writer Mike Baron and artist Butch Guice, the Chunk, or sometimes just “Chunk,” started off as one Chester P. Runk.  A genius inventor, he built a matter transporter machine that, as often happens in superhero stories, exploded and gave Chester some unwanted superpowers.  In order to keep himself alive, Chester must absorb 47 times his own body weight.  That’s the bad side.  On the other end of things, he gained superhuman strength and teleportation powers.

He actually started off as a villain, stealing diamonds since their superdense properties made the hunger problem easier.  And it’s not like the stuff Chunk ate just ceased to exist.  They went to this other dimensional place called “the Void,” and Chunk sometimes sent people there, though not always by choice.

Once there, victims did their best to eke out a living.  Flash Wally West confronted Chunk, eventually got sent there himself where he rescued a few of the stranded people, and convinced Chunk to turn over a new leaf and become a more heroic figure.  Chunk then devoted himself to helping people, becoming rich with a personal waste removal service.  He hired Wally’s mom as his secretary and helped his superfast friend

That said, while it does appear Chunk “eating” opponents was often more metaphorical, I do recall a War of the Gods crossover issue where Chunk gave Wally a bit of a break by literally stuffing the Roman god Mercury into his oversized mouth.  Sure, Mercury being a god didn’t stay put, but it bought Wally enough time to land a punch of his own with a good running start and win the fight.

Now, most of my own Chunk reading came from writer William Messner-Loebs’ run.  Loebs was the writer on The Flash when I started reading comics, and his run had a fairly large supporting cast of characters hanging around Wally, including Chunk.  Then when Mark Waid took over, all of Loebs’s supporting cast more or less disappeared aside from reformed Flash Rogue the Pied Piper and Linda Park, brought in as Wally’s new love interest on literally the last page of Loebs’ last issue.  Wally’s previous girlfriend had gone on to dating Chunk of all people.

Now, for the longest time, I suspected Waid just didn’t like Loebs’s supporting cast and just didn’t want to use them.  That wasn’t quite true.  I more recently learned Loebs had requested Waid not use those characters as he planned to take them with him when he started a Wonder Woman run, though the run was rather short-lived and the other characters never quite got there.  Waid and other Flash writers did use characters like Chunk as needed, but not very often.  Heck, Loebs, who took over Impulse after Waid left that book even gave Chunk a guest appearance once.  But, by and large, he hasn’t appeared much since then.

Not a good deal for a guy who would give a job to his friend’s mom.

And guilt you for not calling often enough.

That said, a skinny version of the character is currently a member of the main cast over on the live action CW series The Flash as played by actor Brandon McKnight.

Then again, this version seems to be more of a comic relief character on a show with more than its fair share of such, and if he still has black hole powers, he hasn’t really shown them off.  Still, he’s remembered there at least.