L-r: The Shoveler, Jackpot, Mr. Furious, Screwball, Flaming Carrot, Captain Attack, Bondo-Man, Jumpin' Jehosaphat, Red Rover. Artist: Bob Burden.


Original Medium: Comic books
First Published by: Renegade Press
First Appeared: 1987
Creator: Bob Burden
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Nowadays, a superhero practically needs a group to belong to. Flaming Carrot's is The Mystery Men, an outfit perfectly suited to …

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… his own lifestyle, proclivities and overall ambience — a bunch of cut-rate, mill town heroes who never made it into The Justice League of America or The Avengers. The Mystery Men are the kind of superheroes who could only have been created by cartoonist Bob Burden.

Besides The Carrot himself, The Mystery Men include The Shoveler, Jackpot, Mr. Furious, Screwball, Captain Attack, Bondo-Man, Jumpin' Jehosaphat and Red Rover. Their super powers, which may have something to do with their second-string status, include a propensity for hitting villains over the head with a shovel and the ability to get really, really angry. They were introduced in a flashback sequence in Flaming Carrot Comics #16 (June, 1987), in which The Carrot had a dream about a 1970s adventure, when he and his old buddies defeated The Vile Brotherhood and their clones of Hitler's feet.

A few issues later, Screwball turned up in a present-day adventure, and quickly became a regular supporting character. Other Mystery Men appeared in later issues. During the early 1990s, Burden announced plans to give them their own regularly-published comic book, but nothing came of that beyond a mostly-text oneshot titled Mystery Men Stories.

They were, however, adapted into a live-action feature-length movie, directed by Kinka Usher and featuring Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Kinnear, Paul Reubens, Hank Azaria, Wes Studi, Kel Mitchell, Claire Forlani, Lena Olin, Eddie Izzard and Tom Waits as the various heroes and villains. Mystery Men was released August 6, 1999, by Universal Pictures.

The film was not a raging success, nor are there any known plans to follow up on their comic book. Even Flaming Carrot himself hasn't been seen very often in recent years. Still, if the world should happen to need saving while Wonder Warthog, Captain Caveman and Fatman the Human Flying Saucer are all busy, it's good to know we can count on The Mystery Men.


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Text ©2000-01 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Bob Burden.