Mr. Muscles delivers a message to a former foe, on physical fitness. Artists: Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1956
Creators: Jerry Siegel (writer) and Charles Nicholas (artist)
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Except for a few funny animals like Atomic Mouse and Hoppy the Magic Bunny, the superheroes of Charlton Comics are generally thought of by afocionados of that style of story as having started with Captain Atom in 1960. But the company did scattered …

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… representatives of the genre, such as Nature Boy and a brief revival of The Blue Beetle, years earlier. Mr. Muscles was just barely a superhero, but he was a superhero.

Mr. Muscles was introduced in the self-titled Mr. Muscles #22 (March, 1956). Earlier issues were titled Blue Beetle; and earlier yet, it was The Thing (no relation; this one did non-series horror stories). Also introduced in the issue were Kid Muscles (his sidekick) and Miss Muscles (who appeared only in a short separate story). It was written by Jerry Siegel (The Star-Spangled Kid, Superman) and drawn by Charles Nicholas (Young Allies, Gunmaster).

Mr. Muscles was a publicly-known pseudonym of Brett Carson, who, years earlier, had been a 98-pound weakling type, who beat polio (back before near-universal immunity) by sheer will power. Afterward, he focused that same will power on becoming a muscular powerhouse, started working out, and before long had become the world's most heavily-muscled physical phenomenon. In his first appearance, he was seen apparently holding himself up with one hand flat on the ground, but a closer inspection revealed he was actually balancing on his thumb alone.

Kid Muscles was a teenager who hung out in the gym where Mr. Muscles taught physical culture, whose name actually was, of all things, Kip Muscles. Miss Muscles didn't seem to use any other name, at least as far as was mentioned in her two-page series. She also hung out in the gym.

An odd aspect of this comic was that the "villains" tended to be self-generated. That is, they weren't menaces to the general public, but merely people with a grudge against the Muscles folks themselves — a guy who envies and resents Mr. Muscles for his physical development, a couple of chicks motivated by jealousy of Miss Muscles for her success with men, that sort of thing. In the 1960s and later, it wasn't uncommon for superheroes to be more concerned with superhero issues than with ordinary people, an example being Mr. Fantastic's feud with Dr. Doom.

Of course, Mr. Muscles didn't last nearly long enough to be a '60s hero. In fact, the very next issue, #23 (August, 1956), was the last. It didn't even leave another title, carrying on its numbering, in its wake.


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Charlton Comics.