The goal of Marvel Mystery Mondays is to raise awareness about some minor or forgotten character from Marvel’s past. Why focus on Marvel and not comic books in general? I just like Marvel I guess.
Unlike most characters covered for MMM, information on Super Rabbit can be found elsewhere on the internet, but I thought I’d add to that with more on the origin of the biggest super-hero outside the Big Three (Captain America, Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch).
If you think about it, with hundreds of appearances between 1943 and 1952, Ernie Hart’s magically empowered bunny lasted longer than any Timely super-hero, and only DC’s Big Three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) lasted through that era without the cancelations that plagued other heroes at the end of the Golden Age.
Also, it seems appropriate to talk about bunnies in April.
Of course, “funny animals” were a viable genre in the 40’s. Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Mighty Mouse and dozens more creatures most people have never heard of had successful comic book runs at a time when masks and capes were tough sells, (or worse, downright unpopular). Cartoony characters are a tough sell nowadays.
Super Rabbit’s origin as of the sixth issue of his eponymous title lays it all down. Unlike other animal super-heroes, Super Rabbit isn’t just a parody of an existing hero, or derivative of one despite his generic name and costume (though he does share superficial similarities to Will Eisner’s least favorite creation).
Mild-mannered street vendor Waffles was so kind-hearted he’d make Siddhartha proud, but like all nice guys, Waffles usually finished last. It was while getting beat up by a rival vendor that Waffles stumbles upon a ring right in front of his nose – stuck on his nose in fact. After throwing it away (what most people would do with a jeweled ring) Waffles wonders if it could be a magic ring (the other thing most people would do upon finding a ring). Wishing he could be a super-rabbit, he miraculously becomes Super Rabbit! (Makes one wonder if the ring could fulfill any other wishes)
Left unsaid is why both Waffles and his bully seemed to know instinctively about the concept of Super Rabbit when he first became a hero, regardless the bully runs upon seeing a super-powered foe and Super Rabbit decides to do his darnedest to fight crime!
The issue includes a few other tales, including a great villain for our lepid hero: the Black Terror. Again, the Black Terror isn’t a parody or simple bank robber, he’s an honest-to-goodness super-villain. With magical powers ranging from flame control to hypnosis and advanced technology like his Vulture-plane, the canine sorcerer is quite a match for Super Rabbit. Luckily our hero defeats him by saying no to cigarettes (no, it doesn’t make much more sense than that, but go with it).
Super-hearing, super-strength, invulnerability – you name it. This guy is the most powerful hero in Timely’s animal universe (and probably more powerful than most of Timely’s human heroes too)!
Why hasn’t the character shown up again?
To put it simply, he’s a funny animal. Marvel hasn’t had too many of those since it’s failed Star Comics line.
How could the character be brought back?
I find it hard to believe that a company with zombie heroes, ape heroes and ultimate heroes doesn’t have room for a rabbit hero. Heck, Howard the Duck’s been a mainstay for years, and he fought in Secret Invasion!
Discuss Super Rabbit with fans of Golden Age Marvel comics over at the Invaders Message Board.