THE BOUNCERMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1944
Creators: Robert Kanigher (writer) and Louis Ferstadt (artist)
Please contribute to its necessary financial support.
Amazon.com or PayPal
in print for years to come, but publishers kept bringing out new ones at a steady trickle until the genre flowered again in the '60s. But some publishers, such as Archie Comics, were already abandoning them, and it was getting so a new one could use a distinguishing trait or two, to get a leg up on the competition. The Bouncer, who debuted in his own title with a 1944 (month unspecified) cover date, was loaded with distinguishing traits.
The most obvious, which readers had their noses rubbed in with the cover of the first issue, was that he looked less like a superhero, than like a big, muscular he-man flouncing around in women's clothing. The fact that the same cover sported a blurb proclaiming him "Your Favorite Pin-up" has made modern commentators wonder exactly who his target audience might be. Another obvious one was the character's name. The Bouncer? What kind of superhero name is that? Is he called that because, like Bouncing Boy, possibly the least super member of The Legion of Super Heroes, he bounces?
Amazingly enough, yes. The Bouncer had his origins in Greek mythology, where Anteas, the son of Gaia, the earth goddess, would bounce back whenever anyone threw him to the ground, because the ground, i.e., his mother, was where his strength came from. This was disconcerting to antagonists like Hercules (no relation) (him either) (nor him) (nope) (don't ask), one of whose 12 labors was to defeat him, until Herc hit upon the idea of holding him aloft until he couldn't fight anymore. According to the comic book, this trait was passed on to his descendants, right down to the present-day Adam Anteas Jr. Also according to the comic book, the "bounce" wasn't figurative, but resembled that of a rubber ball. The harder he was slammed into the ground, the higher the bounce. The disadvantage was that in mid-bounce, lacking contact with Mom, he was powerless.
But Anteas Jr. (as Adam was always called, even to the point of a government official addressing him as "Mr. Anteas Jr.") wasn't The Bouncer. He was nothing but an effete artsy type, sporting a beret, pencil-thin moustache, and smock with a big, floppy bow tie. He'd tried athletics in his youth, but gave it up when some people criticized him for using his natural ability to draw strength from the earth and bounce. Nowadays, he wanted nothing more than to be left alone with his sculpture. But among his sculptures was a statue of the original Anteas, which would come to life, complete with toga (which is why it looked like he wore a dress in battle), whenever superheroic action was needed. And he'd drag Anteas Jr. into the fray with him.
A quirky guy like that deserves a quirky publisher and a quirky creator. The former was Fox Feature Syndicate, which also fielded Wonder Man (the first Superman imitator) and Jo-Jo the Congo King (one of the least literate Tarzan imitators). And the latter was Robert Kanigher, among the quirkiest of comic book writers and editors, whose other creations include Metal Men (a quirky superhero team) and The War That Time Forgot (undoubtedly the quirkiest war comics series of all time). The Bouncer has the distinction of being the very first character Kanigher created. The artist was Louis Ferstadt, whose sparse known credits include work at Quality Comics (Plastic Man, The Human Bomb), the early Marvel (Red Raven, The Vision) and Harvey (The Black Cat, Captain Freedom).
The Bouncer lasted five issues, and appeared only in the lead story of each one — the rest was filler, such as Rocket Kelly and One Round Hogan. The first was unnumbered and the rest numbered 11-14 (it's believed to have been a continuation of The Green Mask's title, despite the fact that another Green Mask started at the same time, also using the same numbering). The last (which reprinted the first) was dated January, 1945. He turned up a few months later, in that year's All Great Comics, and a few months afte that in The Book of All Comics. Since then, nobody seems to have expressed much interest in reviving or reprinting him.