There was an actual comic called the Mystery Men in the 1940s, undoubtedly the inspiration for the 1990s movie of the same name.

The comic featured characters such as Agent Drake, Lieutenant D-13 and the Green Mask. You can see how they might have inspired a comic about a group of superhero wannabes who live in the shadow of an actual, capable superhero.

The "breakout" character among the Mystery Men -- he eventually had his own comic book -- was the Blue Beetle. He had the powers of ... beetle ... we guess. "Crooks are afraid of bugs, and beetles are bugs, though not necessarily poisonous or otherwise dangerous, they COULD be. And blue is an all-American color, despised by crooks. So I shall be the Blue Beetle, and strike terror in the hearts of crooks everywhere. Take that, evildoers!"

Here we see the Blue Beetle, who later had his own comic book, rescuing the usual damsel. from a couple of ethnic stereotypes in gaily plumed hats who appear to be pumping the air full of the original Purple Haze. The' damsel is tied to a chair, and she looks very attractive in her off-the-shoulders gown, except ... like the damsel in Crime and Punishment comics, her torso is kinda ... shapeless and ill-defined. I don't know what made guys who weren't comfortable drawing figures (Blue Beetle looks a little shapeless too) become comic book artists.

(Publisher): What the hell is it with these women's bodies, they're a bunch of blobs?! I want REAL women, with tits and asses and legs under their clothes, and not much in the way of clothes, whenever possible.

(Artist): I don't like to draw figures.

(Publisher): You don't like to draw figures? What the hell did you want to draw comics for if you don't like drawing figures? It's ALL about the figures ... well, that and the dinosaurs, the aliens and the undead.

(Artist): I like to draw capes.

(Publisher): Capes?

(Artist): Yes, capes! I have a real feel for them -- how they flow and curl and so forth. I had hoped to be a comic artists specializing in capes, since so many superheroes wear them. I was very disppointed to learn that no such specialty exists.

(Publisher): well you do the best you can with things other than capes, and maybe someday there'll be a superhero who's nothing but cape for you to draw.

That artist of course, was none other than Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, a superhero who's mostly cape.

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