Superman. Batman. The Fantastic Four. Second-stringer douchebags, the lot of them, when measured against the complete and total awesomeness that is Herbie Popnecker.
(Pause for the reader to ask, "Herbie Popnecker? Who the holy fuck is Herbie Popnecker?!!?")
Perhaps the most unlikely and bizarre superhero in the history of comics, Herbie Popnecker is “a little fat nothing” as described by his staggeringly disappointed father, but what his dad doesn’t know is that Herbie wields a ridiculously vast array of superpowers and saves the world on a daily basis.
When not fending off extraterrestrial invasions (see below)
or traveling through time and space as easily as you or I might cross the street, Herbie contends with talking animals, Frankenstein, Dracula, dinosaurs, and even makes Satan himself his bitch (see below),
while associating with JFK, LBJ, Queen Elizabeth II, Fidel Castro, King Arthur and the knights of the Round table, Marie Antoinette, and even a certain pop music quartet from Liverpool.
Herbie can do damned near anything that a given situation calls for and is even totally irresistible to grown women (and mermaids), so if all of this sounds absurd, it certainly is! This mere description cannot do justice to the utter balls-out madness that flowed from the minds of writer Shane O’Shea and illustrator Ogden Whitney, whose “straight/boring” drawing style only enhances the aggressive bullmoose strangeness.
Dark Horse is unleashing the first hardcover collected volume of the HERBIE ARCHIVES next month and I was lucky enough to be handed a pre-release copy, so I can tell you from firsthand experience that it's a hell of a lot of fun and some of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny. I mean, how can you not enjoy a ludicrous image like the one of Herbie, after ingesting a "time lollipop," flying through the air over the Delaware in the 1700's and being greeted by an unfazed George Washington who shouts, "Hi, Herbie!" as he and his men cross the river in that famous boat?
Pythonesque years before Monty Python existed, Herbie transcended kids' comics to become a cult classic and a landmark in four-color lunacy that is cherished by those of us lucky enough to have encountered it in years past, and now an innocent general public stands ready to scratch its collective head in wonderment at one of the weirdest comics ever created. Fun in a way that comics simply aren't anymore, Herbie is just plain great, idiotic entertainment and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The Silver Age classics found here are eagerly awaited by fans in the know, and for those previously unaware of Herbie this collection will come as an hilarious look at what was going on in elsewhere in comics during the storied “Marvel Age” (aka the 1960's). Its $49.95 price tag may seem steep to some, but it's totally worth the expenditure and can be found for considerably less on Amazon. Hopefully, what with 2008 proving to be the Year of the Superhero at the box office, someone with power in Hollywood will discover Herbie and adapt him to the big screen or green light a TV series. It would make for an ultimate bit of stoner viewing, let me tell you!