When I mention the super hero team the "Mystery Men", many people think of the Ben Stiller starring film from the late 90's or less likely, the Fox Feature comic book from the 40's. Many don't know that they were actually a vital part of one of the best & craziest independent comics of all-time...Flaming Carrot comics.
The Flaming Carrot was created by Bob Burden and made his first appreance in a magazine called "Visions" #1. The Flaming Carrot's origin is almost as ridiculous as the character himself. As the lore is told after having read 5,000 comics in a single sitting to win a bet, this poor man suffered brain damage and appeared directly thereafter as—the Flaming Carrot. In the comics Carrot saved the world and his hometown of Palookaville numerous times, but sometimes he needed help.
In 1987 the Mystery men made their debut in Flaming Carrot comics #16. This band of unreal heroes was brought together, well because no one else wanted them. Their powers are weird, their tempers are high and their clothing choices are questionable, but that never stopped them from trying to save the world. The roster has included such classic characters as The Shoveler, Mr. Furious, Screwball, Bondo man and The Spleen to name a few.
This group of mighty misfits was popular enough that Dark Horse gave them their own, short lived comic series. The series only lasted 4 issues through October of 1999.
1999 was also the year that we saw the Mystery men make their motion picture debut! The filmed starred Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Geoffrey Rush, Eddie Izzard & Paul Reubens among many other solid actors. The film was helmed by Kinka Usher who was best known for his work on the "Got Milk?" and Taco Bell Chihuahua commercials after Danny DeVito turned down the job due to issues over the movie's soundtrack! I remember going to the theater to see this movie with my brother and sister. I really enjoyed it, but I was already a fan. Even though I thought it was good the movie only made around $33 million against a budget of $68 million. Those are not good numbers at all. The movie may have been deemed a flop, but at least we ended up with a cool 2 issue comic book adaptation...
a set of action figures from Playing Mantis that included The Shoveler, Mr. Furious, Captain Amazing, The Spleen, Blue Raja and The Bowler, but that's not all!
We were also gifted a kick-ass soundtrack that featured "All-Star" by Smash Mouth and the underappreciated "Who Are Those Mystery Men?" by Kel Mitchell & MAFT MCs!
After the failure of the movie and the cancellation of the Dark Horse series, the Mystery men have been missing for quite some time. Sure, they had a few cameo appearances in the Flaming Carrot comics, but they have yet to attempt a comeback all their own.
In a cool twist, the movie once known as a flop has gained status as a Cult Classic with many movie fans. I for one would love to see their creator, Bob Burden, give these blue collar heroes another go. I guess in the meantime at least I still have my VHS tape and the back issues to read through, but one issue always eluded me. That comic was one of the first appearances of the Mystery Men in Flaming Carrot #17. Now thanks to a very affordable price and a few ebay clicks, I can mark this comic off my "Want" list. Can't wait to read it!
Come back Mystery Men...wherever you are!