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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Captain Canuck Week: The Man They Call Catman

Captain Canuck introduced a number of back-up features, none of which proved popular enough to warrant their own book: Jonn was about an intergalactic astronaut who crash-lands on a sword and sorcery world; Beyond was a similar adventure with a more medieval-slant; the Chaos Corps appeared, mercifully, only once; and then there was Catman.

Catman had great things to live up to. He'd been advertised to appear in Captain Canuck since #1. He was later slated to appear in Jonn #1, a solo series for our intrepid space Conan, but since their wasn't any chance of that happening anytime soon, his arrival was delayed. Catman never showed up until #4, which you might remember as being the first issue produced after a four-year hiatus. Yikes. This purple fucker certainly had some expectations to live up to.

Unlike his similarly-named counterparts from the DC universe, Batman and the villainous Catman, Comely/CKR's Catman was a mostly-naked man with advanced powers bestowed to him from an alien who kept bigfoots (bigfeet?) as pets.

While adventuring in the arctic on an expedition to film the elusive Sasquatch, Jason Corey is, like all cats, distracted by a shiny object in the distance. When he heads off half-cocked to investigate, he falls down a crack in the ice and is almost killed. He's saved only by a wizened old man who treats his injuries, but also keeps him imprisoned within his home for weeks, or perhaps months - Jason isn't sure, but he knows he can't even attempt escape since the old bastard took his clothes, meaning he'd be a Popsicle if he ever found a way to leave the place.

The old Yoda surrogate also harbors a dark secret - he's actually an alien from the planet Arrimo, and crash-landed on Earth over 200 years ago. Rather than attempting to repair his ship and leave, he's instead taken to living under the arctic ice and keeping wild ape-men locked up with him for his own amusement. The bigfoots don't really have a point in this story other than to aggravate Jason, it seems: he risks his life to get pictures of these things, and some old alien dude is keeping 'em on ice! The nerve.

Obi-Wan frequently leaves the human alone for several hours to snoop around his spaceship, so one day Jason gets the bright idea to actually attempt escape, and follows the old guy to see where he goes: Jason sees him use an amulet-like device that changes him purple, and surmises that it must shield him from the cold - if Jason could obtain the trinket, he might be able to escape the ship without freezing to death.

Luckily for Jason, his host is getting rather forgetful in his advanced years, leaving the device lying out in the open for him to find. Faster than you can say, "Holy crap I'm a rip-off of Batman and the Creeper," Jason escapes and is free to live a mostly-normal existence, albeit one in which he never has to buy winter coats again.

Catman's origin tale ends with the appearance of Jason Corey's sister, Susy, and she asks him a question more fitting of a post-Super-Bowl interview: "What are you going to do now?"

Okay, so he doesn't actually say that. But he does mention clearing their father's name, and nailing some guy named "Ellingson." Kinky, but also frustrating: we never, ever, find out who their father is, what he's done, or who Ellingson is. Captain Canuck #3 would be the only appearance of Catman, save for an illustrated short story that appears in #6.

Catman would return in the 1993 series, Captain Canuck: Reborn, but he would change his name to "Splatter," never have alien powers to begin with, and go around shooting criminals with a paintball gun. Man, the guy just can't catch a break, can he?

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