Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H: The Human Fly!

is for Human Fly.

Back in the mid 1970s....when Evel Knievel was a household name...there came a comic from Marvel about a stuntman/daredevil called The Human Fly.

The book only ran about 19 issues, before it was cancelled but I'll never forget it because it was based off (very loosely) an actual person. A Canadian daredevil named Rick Rojatt. The book's tagline was "The Wildest Super Hero Ever--Because He's Real!" 

And he was...in a fashion.

Now, back in the mid 70s as a young kid, I thought this was all kinds of cool. I was always a huge fan of Evel Knievel and putting him into comics (in a roundabout way) captured my imagination. 

For the comic based version of the Fly, his backstory was that, as a young man, he had been in an accident and 60% of his bone structure had been replaced with steel.  This allowed him to take a licking and keep on ticking and was probably a big plus in the daredevil business. It also drove him to do charity stuntwork on behalf of disabled children. It doesn't get more heroic than that, right?

Each issue would have him traveling to a different town and doing a stunt for charity. Somehow, he'd always come across some sort of crime being committed and have to try to stop it using his wits and stunt related gadgets.

Some of his vast arsenal, in the comic, included: 
  • A cape, woven with steel mesh fibers, that had gel pods in them. When it got to a certain temperature, the pods would explode and douse him in flame retardant foam.
  • Magnetic clamps in his gloves and boots as well as suction cups that let him climb almost any surface.
  • His helmet contained an oxygen mask which also acted as a gas mask as well as had a radio equipped into it. 
  • The Fly also carried a baton that did all sorts of things....from shooting knockout gas to emitting a globe of light, to sending out a charge of electricity and acting as a taser.
And, of course, what self respecting 70s daredevil wouldn't have a souped up motorcycle? That along with a "stunt van" to carry all of his equipment, a rocket powered snowmobile, a hanglider, and a jet pack, made up some of the cool vehicles the Fly used to not only wage a war on crime, but to thrill and delight the fans. I have to wonder if they people behind The Human Fly were trying to do some sort of toy deal a la Evel Knievel?

Some characters, it seems, are just that unforgettable and it looks like some folks are trying to get a Human Fly movie going. You can check out the details at the film's website

Even though The Human Fly was, mainly, a giant publicity stunt, I remember really enjoying the comic and couldn't fathom why it ever got cancelled. Of course, I was looking through the eyes of a pre teen who thought Evel Knievel was the greatest thing going.

Come back tomorrow and we'll all go kung fu fightin'...

UPDATE: I found a blog article about the Falcon appearing in the next Captain America movie, for those who were interested. You can catch it HERE.


Samantha May said...

Somehow I've heard of this one. I would like the suction cup hands and feet. I probably wouldn't be so afraid to climb a tree :D

JennaQuentin said...

Sounds pretty cool! Thanks for sharing your memories as well.

I've enjoyed and appreciated your comments - sorry I've been so long in getting around!
Bon courage.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

At first when I saw the name I wasn't sure what to expect. But this seemed to be a really cool hero.

Nana Prah said...

I like that he did charity work. I have never heard of The Human Fly though. That's not saying much since I'm not really into comic books.

Nick Wilford said...

I see how he would really capture kids' imaginations! As long as no one tried it themselves... I'm thinking like that daredevil episode of The Simpsons. :)

John Wiswell said...

I think I remember him from a newstand once. Character seemed doomed, but darned if they didn't try to make the coolest, least fly-related character they could.

from John at The Bathroom Monologues

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe he was too nice?
Yes, caught the news last night at The Geek Twns. We get Falcon!

S.P. Bowers said...

That's cool that he was involved in charities. Though a fly is not the thing I would most like to be associated with.

Melanie Schulz said...

I love that it was based on a real person, making him somewhat attainable.

Mark Means said...

@Samantha: lol..as long as I didn't look freaky, I'd go along with that :)

@Jenna: No worries at all...I know this is a pretty hectic hop with a lot to do and little time to do it. Thank you for stopping by and commenting :)

@Sheena: I know..the name is a bit weird, but that sort of thing helps in the comics biz!

@Nana: Definitely not a well know hero, for sure. Thank you for stopping by :)

@Nick: I think the 'daredevil' went the way of the dodo once 'political correctness' took over, unfortunately.

@John: They did give it a try, for sure. I had an issue where John Byrne did the cover (which looked awesome, of course)..possibly in an attempt to help boost sales.

@Alex: I'm looking forward to seeing The Falcon on the big screen :)

@S.P: Well, these days, if someone tells you that you look 'fly'...it's a compliment :)

@Melanie: Sort of the appeal, most likely...just like with Batman.

Anonymous said...

What a blast from the past. I like that some of our nostalgic favorites are enjoying a rebirth. That's the advantage of being a part of the Baby Boomers -- we're a market segment to be reckoned with!--Jan


Ella said...

I liked Evil, but he scared the hell out of me, lol

Fun post~ :D
I can remember all the anticipation before his big events!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. I remember admiring Evel Knievel and his exploits ... wonderful memories you have though .. cheers Hilary

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I saw some of EK's stunts in the 70's; they made me cringe. How many times did doctors have to put that fellow together? I lost count.

I vaguely remember The Human Fly. So long ago those 70's!

Regina Gort said...

The Human Fly...

Mark Means said...

@Jan: Totally agree and nice to see them revive the old, nostalgic, stuff...sometimes :)

@Ella: I know...I used to sit in front of the t.v., watching Wide World of Sports when they'd feature his stunts. Very cool stuff!

@Hilary: Oh yeah, always neat to watch him try those crazy stunts.

@Lee: I don't know, but probably a lot. Right or wrong, I always cite Knievel as an example of "When it's your time...it's your time" in the context of passing away. How many times should he have been killed doing those stunts? A lot, I'd wager...yet he died from lung disease.

@Regina: Come on...he wasn't that creepy :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

We got the Human Fly as a trivia question once and my husband got it right. I was totally blown away. How do you guys remember all these characters?

jaybird said...

Sah-weet. I love true stories. Or movies, books or comics that are based on true stories. I think it's fabulous that there really was a Fly guy.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Never heard of the Human Fly, but have heard plenty of Evil Knievel. We need more heroes like the Human Fly to thwart crimes!!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That does some like a great super hero since he has no other worldly powers. It seems real.

Julie Luek said...

I remember watching the televised stunts of Evil and holding my breath. I bet the comic was fun!

Mina Burrows said...

I don't recall seeing this one ever. I would hate to be that super hero.

Jack said...

Very often I wish I could have been born back in the 70's or there abouts. They had such cool comics back then. I will have to start looking for old copies and reading them.

When you mentioned Jim Phelps as a villain in Mission Impossible I realized just how little I remember of the first two movies. I remember the third well enough because the whole bomb brain thing was so creepy. But the first two, very little.
But the fourth doesn't even seem like a Mission Impossible movie. At least from what I remember. (Now I'm kind of curious about the first two. Maybe re-watching them I'd get the plots.)

ilima said...

This one sounds familiar. Charity stunts for disabled children? Haha. My husband would try to use that one as an excuse to do something crazy. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

I think I remember the Human Fly, because I think one of my cousin's had a comic book of him. My cousin was really into Kineval, and I liked the stunts but always found myself wincing, sure that he might not make it. Anyway, the whole "he's real" part reminded me of that comic book.
Very cool character.
And even more awesome news about the Falcon! Sweet!

Robin said...

When you said that 60% of his body was metal the first place my mind went was The Six Million Dollar Man. Is it possible that it was cancelled because they were too similar? I know that seems like a stretch because one was on TV, the other in comics, and the Bionic Man didn't wear costumes or have any of the gadgets. The only thing they had in common was possibly the timing. The name was unfortunate... The Fly is a pest, you know. This guy seemed rather cool.

Julie Flanders said...

I remember the Evil Knievel days. I thought he was some kind of superhuman haha. Didn't know about the Fly but he sounds like fun.

Lisa said...

How awesome is this!! And thanks for the link to the new Cap America film! I pinned it. I must have missed this one as even though the names sound familiar, I don't recall reading it. Thanks for the history lesson. Makes me wonder what the real guys story was... Guess I'll have to google him!

Whole Foods Living said...

Greetings from The A to Z! I am Sharing your blog with my hubby who is a comic book geek. :) Thanks for stopping by my food blog again! Happy A-to-Z 2013! ~Angela, Whole Foods Living, http://www.wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/

Sherry Ellis said...

The Human Fly was very cool. I wish I could do tricks like him!

Christine Rains said...

I've never heard of the Human Fly, but he does sound like a real hero.

Pk Hrezo said...

His baton sounds a lot like a sonic screwdriver!

Misha Gericke said...

This sounds like it could have been a cool comic. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. re my herring post .. it looks like your friends were right - a few others after you have commented on having raw herring on New Years Eve or NY Day ..

Interesting snippet of food history ..

Cheers Hilary

Jean said...

Hey, this one is great! I am delighted he was not only fighting the bad guys but also involved in charity fund raising for disabled children.
Actually I find it hard to believe that snyone bothered with that plot aspect as disability was not "in" in the 70's. I am not being flip when I say that, merely being honest.
I would like to be this guy, if I had a chance to be a comic book hero.

jean yates A to Z

Al Diaz said...

He sounds like a very cool hero! And the costume is better than many I've seen. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I never read the comics, but even as a little girl I was fascinated with Evel Knievel. Perhaps that was the thrill seeker coming out in me.

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't know why, but the idea of a temperature-triggered cape sounds particularly interesting to me.

Great post!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for sharing about this...I guess we've all heard of Spider Man but not everyone has heard of the Human Fly.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Didn't Jeff Goldblum play The Fly in a movie? I think his version may have been more intense.


Jeff Hargett said...

All that talk of Evel Knievel brought back memories of my brother lining up all the neighbors' trashcans. Fortunately, he broke fewer bones than the professionals did. :)

mshatch said...

I remember Evil, too but superheroes with capes remind me of Edna in The Incredibles ;)

Carrie Butler said...

You're so good at this! You should teach a comic appreciation class or something. :)

Valerie said...

This one makes me think of that movie The Fly... I'm not really sure why tho... It's so weird.



Rebecca Green Gasper said...

So cool. I've never heard of the Human Fly... Looking forward to who's next. :)

Morgan Katz said...

This looks amazing! WOW! Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday!

Mark Means said...

(Sorry folks, running a bit late with these..)

@Elizabeth: My wife says the same thing, lol.

@jaybird: For a young comic book fan there wasn't much back in the 70s and 80s on t.v. to cater to us...unlike today. The Fly was cool because, well, like the book said..he was real :)

@Cathrine: I totally agree!

@Suan: In many cases, the heroes without powers are the most interesting.

@Julie: Me too...I'd never miss watching Knievel doing his stunts.

@Mina: LOL...I know what you mean.

@Jack: That's something I -constantly- say (to anyone who will listen) in regards to comics. Back then, they were FUN...yes, some were silly and not very "realistic", but who cares...they're not supposed to be real...they're supposed to be fun :) Yeah, definitely go back and watch the first M:I, at least. It's a good film, but still don't like what they did with Phelps.

@Ilima: lol...your husband sounds like my sort of guy :)

@Tyrean: If he was a Knievel fan, he probably liked the Fly and, I know, great news on the Falcon! Looking forward to the movie even more, now.

@Robin: Hmm...while that might be possible, I just think poor sales spelled the Fly's demise, unfortunately :)

@Julie: Fun times, for sure :)

@Lisa: He has a very colorful background, for sure :)

Mark Means said...

@Angela: Cool! I hope he likes it :)

@Sherry: Me too...as long as it didn't involve heights... :/

@Christine: Well, now you can say you have :)

@PK: LOL....yes, it sure does.

@Misha: Most definitely, yes!

@Hilary: Wow, really? And I thought they were half making it up, lol. Always nice to learn food triva...thanks :)

@Jean: Yes, I agree....you didn't see many social issues rise up back then. A few, here and there, but not too many.

@Al: I know, it was pretty spiffy, right?

@Diane: I know what you mean and I'm sure he had that effect on a lot of kids.

@Golden Eagle: It does sound pretty ingenious...especially if you were on fire :)

@Cynthia: Actually, Spidey had a villain called The Human Fly, but it was a totally different characters. Also, in on of the Fly's issues, Spider Man showed up, thinking the daredevil Fly was his old villain.

@Julie: Yes, he did and I agree...his version was quite a bit more intense!

@Jeff: We did the same thing in my neighborhood too, lol!

@mshatch: Haha...yes and I'm sure she'd have a thing or two to tell a lot of those comic characters.

@Carrie: Ha! I wish, but thank you :)

@Valerie: Well, the movie sure got way more publicity than the comics :)

@Rebecca: Thank you!

@Morgan: You're very welcome :)

M. J. Joachim said...

I remember Evel too, but I had no idea the Human Fly had any connection to him. Actually, this post made me think of the Bionic Man. :)

Anonymous said...

I think I remember watching the movie about The Human Fly... but I recall it being more of a horror flick... Maybe I got it confused with something else? It was a long time ago.

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