Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Single Issue Review: Bob Hope #85

The Adventures of Bob Hope is in many ways the oddest comic in DC's lineup during the Silver Age. In the middle of this basically sexless universe, you have the most hormone-drenched guy who ever lived trying his darnedest to get next to a lot of lovely young women.

Now of course some will point out that at the time this comic was published (February-March 1964), Hope was 60 years old, and those gals he's bartering for don't seem north of 25. But this ignores the character that Hope had built up during the 1940s in the "Road" pictures, which was a funny, entertaining ne'er-do-well charmer.

The cover itself is tentatively credited to Mort Drucker at GCD; sure looks like his work to me. The concept is mildly disturbing; is Hope really buying his weight in young women as it appears? But we know it's harmless and the gag is that he's going to try to eat a bunch of bananas to get a third gal. Aside from that problem, it's a terrific cover.

The story starts, as many Bob Hope stories do, with Bob trying to dodge his landlady, Mrs Peabody, who's knocking at the door. However, he learns that she's not trying to collect the rent but to drag him along on a tour of Egypt that she won for a prize recipe. One of the things I particularly like about the Hope books is that they throw in a gag almost every panel; it's simple but effective:

Pop cultural aside: When Bob notes that Cleopatra is coming to his local theater; he is referring to the 1963 Liz Taylor epic.

So Bob and his landlady land in Egypt, where they travel by camel (this is a kid's comic, remember) to some tents in the desert (ditto). Of course, there is the love interest (definitely Drucker here):

But the male guest stars seem a trifle edgy:

It turns out that Sha's uncle is trying to use Mrs Peabody's cooking to unite the tribes to start a war for oil, but she's not interested in a polygamous household:

Drucker used that type of gag frequently in his brilliant Mad Magazine movie parodies around the same time.

Mrs Peabody does initially agree to prepare dinner for the heads of all the tribes, until Bob explains the situation to her. When they decline, the other heads are amused:

But Sha's uncle decides to go ahead with the invasion anyway, until Hope gets the idea of using Mrs Peabody's recipe as a weapon. It explodes and scares away the invaders.

Comments: Beautiful art by Drucker and an entertaining story, although the ending is a bit predictable.