As Marvel/Disney moves into World Domination Schedule X-Delta-Nine Part Three, more and more obscure comic book characters will undoubtedly be ripped from their cold newsprint graves to become the movies and TV shows destined to clog the streaming video services of our glorious future. Here's one that probably won't be getting her Netflix show any time soon, however.
Patty Powers, glamorous movie star, exists as the object of male gaze and cannot walk down the street without being ogled by every street cop and passing stray dog. This character started out as "Della Vision", but wisely moved to film-based romantic comedy comics because, as everybody knows, television was just a passing fad that nobody watches any more.
Al Hartley's artwork is in full glamour-gal mode here, with inks by the great John Severin who's picking up some work after the collapse of EC a few years previous. Both artists are, in my opinion, at their peak here, showing us every bit of Patty Powers' great acting talents, which apparently consist of of "staring". You really need to see it on the giant movie screen!
But it's not all standing around and staring for Patty; as a contract-bound employee of the studio she's subject to their every promotional whim! They can zoom right in, cancel a day's expensive shooting, and get Patty out of her clothes and over to her house before you can say "Screen Actors Guild"!
Bundled into a car and driven all the way through LA traffic to her own neighborhood, it's somewhere on page two that this comic book decides perhaps Patty might be given a line of dialogue. After all it IS her comic! Throw the little lady a bone, why not.
Here we see the modest bungalow Patty somehow survives in. No servants? Nice neighbors? Likes it here? SOMEBODY doesn't understand Los Angeles!
"I hate black phones!" Amazing to see the kind of casual anti-black-phone racism comics could get away with in the 50s!
And as a fully contractually obligated member of Hollywood Royalty, Patty Powers is forced to sit by as her house is completely remodeled on the studio's dime. Hey Patty, look at it this way: once you hit 30 Hollywood isn't going to want to see you again, but real estate... real estate is forever!
What do they call that thing that's a bunch of bricks of uranium stacked together? Um... it was... uh... oh yeah. A nuclear reactor. Say, it's getting really warm in here for some reason. And all my hair is falling out. I wonder why?
And it's after they've wrecked her house, demolished her foundation, bought the lot next door, and turned her living room into Chernobyl West, that Patty thinks to look at her contract and confirm they actually have the legal right to do all this. Better late than never, I guess.
Here's the punchline: Patty said 'screw you' to her new swimming pool and her new glow in the dark fireplace and is now living in a trailer, which is where she spends most of her time anyway, being a film actress ya know.
But let's leave Patty's new double-wide and move on to more hilarious contractually-obligated fun for Patty!
It's a Hawaiian vacation for Patty and the whole crew as they're welcomed by dozens of smiling, suspiciously Caucasian Hawaiians, obviously planted on the islands in advance to help make the upcoming statehood vote as unanimous as possible.
Here we'll meet Patty's rival, the red-headed "Flame Fancy", which is a drag name if I ever heard one. "Flame" exists to stand around, make sarcastic remarks about Patty, and generally try to sabotage her career. If you think this character is similar to red-headed "Chili" in that other 50s Marvel book about a glamourous blonde, "Millie The Model", well, you'd be correct. Stan Lee was nothing if not a responsible steward of comic book ideas, recycling them at every opportunity.
Of course we all know redheads are firey and tempestuous, and "Flame Fancy" is no exception. She's not going to let little things like contracts, screenwriters, and film executives stop HER from being the star of EVERY MOVIE EVER MADE! How's she going to do it? By forcing her torso into the tightest dress possible using 1956 dress-tightening technology! Which was pretty advanced for its time, to be honest.
Meanwhile it turns out their director "Nervous" is uncomfortable sitting down to a dinner dominated by a giant roasted hog. Is it because his religious faith prevents him from eating pork? No, it's because he's a big wuss.
And "Flame Fancy" finally makes her big entrance and it turns out that dress was too tight after all and it ripped when she tried to sit down in it, and then TMZ caught it all on camera, broadcasting her wardrobe malfunction to the world, and then somebody turned it into an internet meme and for about two weeks that was all anybody talked about. Boy, I'm glad that's over, it got old real fast.
But hey, when does Patty Powers get to actually do anything in this story that has her name on it in big letters? And when does Al Hartley, you know, the guy who'd later create an entire line of Archie-themed Christian propaganda comics, when does Al Hartley get to inject some religion into the proceedings?
Ah, here we go. That's the Al Hartley we've been waiting for. Now shut up and enjoy the beauty the Creator endowed upon us!
This was the last issue of Patty Powers' comic book; John Severin would go on to work for 'Cracked' for the next fifty years and Al Hartley would draw "Patsy Walker" for Marvel and lots of Archie comics for Jesus. But what happened to Patty? Well, Patty and her boyfriend held their breaths until they died in what police assumed was a bizarre suicide pact. "Flame Fancy" went on to star in all of Patty's roles until she got cancer from spending too much time near Patty's uranium fireplace.
So in conclusion, let me just say two things: firstly, don't use uranium for home construction, and secondly, watch for Patty's cameo in the background of "Avengers IV: The Parallax Conundrum War Part Three"! Don't blink!
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