Title: Goosebumps #25 – Attack of the Mutant, a.k.a. “Crisis of Infinite Mutants”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus (U.S.), ???? (U.K.)
Tagline: He’s no superhero. He’s a supervillain!
Summary: Read at your own risk…
Skipper Matthews has an awesome comic book collection. His favorite one is called The Masked Mutant. It’s about an evil supervillain who’s out to rule the universe.
Skipper can’t get enough of The Mutant. Until one day he gets lost in a strange part of town. And finds a building that looks exactly like The Mutant’s secret headquarters. A building that appears and disappears.
Has Skipper read one too many comic books? Or does The Masked Mutant really live in Riverview Falls?
Guys, again I have to apologize for screwing up the schedule. That virus I contracted at the beginning of July completely threw off my schedule for writing alongside all the hours I’ve put in at work. This was supposed to cap off July’s “Comic Con” theme with my recaps, and I hope the lateness doesn’t mess up my recaps for August.
“Attack of the Mutant” is one of the most popular of the first 62 books. During the original run it got a two-episode adaptation (featuring the legendary Adam West) plus a computer game that delved more into the Masked Mutant’s fictional realm. Unfortunately, the character’s been totally neglected ever since the “Goosebumps Horrorland” reboot and has been replaced by two other “Comic villain come to life” characters, the annoying Dr. Maniac (whose first appearance wasn’t so bad but the way he got overused pissed me off) and the Ooze (who only had one appearance).
Skipper, the main character, pisses me off because he is SUCH a 90s comic snob, and it is people like him who ruined comics for everybody. However, I will say the TV show did such a good job at capturing his character it’s impossible not to imagine him wearing a baseball hat even if it’s not mentioned in the book. Watch as I pepper the recap with as many of comic references as I can.
Oh and apparently Stine hates “Archie” comics for some reason.
[Wing: Because Stine is terrible sometimes.]
Skipper Matthews can’t believe his best friend, Wilson Clark, was about to read that copy of “Silver Swan” #0! Doesn’t Wilson know if he gets a fingerprint on the cover it will go down in value? Wilson doesn’t understand how it could be called “Issue Zero” as Skipper explains to him it came out before #1, so it’s worth more.
Wilson is further confused, asking why Skipper keeps his comics in plastic all the time. Doesn’t he read them? Skipper is disgusted. Read? You don’t read comics, you collect them! And then you sell them after a number of years when they’re worth millions. Of course he doesn’t care when Wilson pulls out a “Star Wolf” with a metallic cover, since it’s only a second print and therefor not good enough to be used as toilet paper.
I kind of immediately hated Skipper upon re-reading this because he reminds too much of some of the customers we get at the store. The kind who shamelessly buy multiple copies (like three or five) of someone’s first appearance just so they can sell them later. Well there are SOME who are nice and only buy a couple of copies, which isn’t bad. What’s frustrating is when it can inconvenience the regulars who only care about reading the book, especially when we can’t order more of the issue. The worst are those who know a comic is going for triple the cover price on eBay and try to scam us by getting them for cheaper than we could be selling them for. Seriously though, people like Skipper almost ruined the comic industry in the 90s when they started buying bulk copies of “Wildcats” and “Youngblood” thinking they’d be a good investment. You couldn’t get five bucks for an entire carton of those comics.
Skipper muses on how dark it gets outside during the winter, even when it’s only 5 or 6 PM. Not like on Silver Swan’s planet, Orcos III, where the sun never sets and everyone has to wear air conditioned suits. As Wilson peeks through a “Z-Squad” Annual, Skipper suggests he should collect comics too so he can make a ton of money when they get valuable. Wilson reveals he already has a collection going… of rubber stamps. Now Skipper is confused, asking what you could do with rubber stamps and if they’re valuable or not. Wilson explains you can either stamp things with them or just look at them. And no, he doesn’t think know if they’re valuable or not. Eh, to each his own.
After Wilson leaves to do his math homework, Skipper comments if they were in a comic book Wilson would probably be the hero while he would be the sidekick used for comic relief. I mean, considering Wilson is so tall and thin and Skipper is so short and chubby. Good thing life isn’t a comic book, right?
Oh but hey, today is THE day. That special day of the month when Skipper receives in the mail the latest issue of his favorite comic in the whole world. It’s the one comic he always reads, no matter what, even when his parents tell him he has to do his homework first. God I remember when I used to subscribe to “Teen Titans” like that. And what a complete waste it was because I was blindly supporting some of the worst creative decisions ever done to the Titans.
Skipper giddily opens the brown envelope on his dresser and removes the newest copy of “The Masked Mutant.” Skipper tells us about how the Masked Mutant is the most dangerous supervillain out there because of his power to rearrange his molecules into anything solid, meaning he could be anyone or anything. He always gets the best of the League of Good Guys and their leader, the Galloping Gazelle, even though the Gazelle is the fastest mutant in the solar system.
In this issue, Skipper sees on the cover that the Mutant has shifted into an octopus (he can tell because it’s wearing the Mutant’s mask) and is putting the squeeze on SpongeLife, a.k.a. The Sponge of Steel. Even though SpongeLife is the greatest underwater swimmer in the universe, things look pretty bleak for him. He got caught by the Mutant after his cape snagged on a coral reef.
Skipper is so enamored by how gross the octopus version of the Mutant is, he doesn’t even notice when his little sister Mitzi sneaks up behind him and grabs his neck. Skipper cries out in shock when he feels Mitzi’s cold hands; she apparently put them in the freezer. When asked WHY she put them in the freezer? So they would be cold of course.
Okay I kind of like her because she’s a little shit.
Oh but she’s also checking to see if Skipper’s doing his homework, but oooooooh somebody’s gonna be in trouble. Skipper tries to stop Mitzi but she’s already out of the room, and in comes their dad, a big, broad bear of a man. He asks if Skipper knows why his grades are so bad, because he’s always reading comics, and reminds him this is the third time he was caught reading comics when he shouldn’t be. So Mr. Matthews has no choice but to take Skipper’s carton of comics and throw them away!
Of course Skipper isn’t too worried because his dad makes this threat all the time and never follows through with it. Mr. Matthews might have a temper, but he’s an okay enough guy Skipper would put him in the League of Good Guys. Most of the time, anyway. He does believe Skipper’s comics are trash, though, so now I hate him too. Mr. Matthews puts the carton down after Skipper promises to get started on his math homework. Skipper breezes through his assignments because he’s jonesing too hard for the rest of “The Masked Mutant” #23. SpongeLife escapes and Skipper’s in for a surprise when the issue finally reveals the long awaited debut of the Mutant’s secret lair.
The lair is… not what Skipper was expecting. The Mutant’s hideout appears to be a big building made of pink stucco, with a round, green glass dome at the very top (the building on the cover). It looks like a pink fire hydrant or something. The issue ends with the reveal the Galloping Gazelle has somehow infiltrated the Mutant’s HQ. Skipper can’t wait to see what happens next month.
The next day, Skipper has to visit the orthodontist to get his braces tightened so he “Unfortunately” turns down Wilson’s offer of checking out his rubber stamp collection. Skipper takes the public bus he usually travels on to go the comic shop on Goodale Avenue. Looking back, he wishes he’d never gotten on that bus because of the events which transpired.
On the bus, Skipper’s approached by a young, friendly redheaded girl about his age. Skipper introduces himself, but the girl finds it hard to believe his real name is “Skipper.” Skipper reveals he got the nickname because he used to run and skip a lot when he was younger, and prefers the nickname to his real one, “Bradley.” The girl jokes her name is “Skipper” too before introducing herself as Libby Zacks. Skipper doesn’t want to seem like too much of a nerd and tells Libby he’s going to the local comic shop instead of to the orthodontist. Libby’s happy to hear that because she’s a comic collector too, much to Skipper’s surprise since most of the collectors he knows are guys.
I’m giving him a pass on this one because he didn’t think “Girls don’t collect comics.”
Oh but wait Libby collects “High School Harry & Beanhead” so Skipper immediately decides she’s not a real collector because those comics are, in his opinion, awful and worthless. PASS REVOKED. And even worse, she doesn’t collect them for the money. She collects them because she… READS THEM! Skipper stop being a fake geek guy for once in your miserable life. It’s boys like you who set a bad example for the rest of us.
Skipper doesn’t notice at first but he’s so caught up talking with Libby the bus is far past his usual stop and he’s now in an unfamiliar neighborhood. He’s understandably anxious and gets off as soon as possible. Okay I’ve disliked this kid so far but even I can relate to the crippling tension of realizing your bus or subway train brought you past your usual exit and you’ve got no idea where you are or where to go. I’ve broken down in tears when this happens to me, it’s awful.
Skipper finds himself in a small park he’s never been to before, and is startled when Libby appears behind him saying they’re near her house. Yet Skipper’s in for an even bigger shock when, near the other end of the park, he discovers the secret headquarters of the Masked Mutant!
It’s the same pink building with the green dome roof, just like in the comic. Skipper can’t believe he’s looking at the HQ of the most evil supervillain of all time, but Libby reveals that eyesore has been around since her family moved to town last spring. Although she doesn’t remember ever seeing anyone enter or exit, she assumes it’s a garishly designed office building or something. Skipper’s still freaking out when Libby tells him to take a chill pill and asks if he’d like to check out her comic collection. He turns her down, remembering his orthodontist appointment and Libby departs. But Skipper lags behind and approaches the glass front doors, trying to muster up the strength to see if this is really the Mutant’s lair…
Until the next bus arrives around the corner and he hurries to catch it. From his seat on the bus, Skipper watches the building recede and is trying to figure out what is going on.
While eating lunch with Wilson at school, Skipper brings up the building in-between trading tuna salad sandwiches and throwing away the apple his mom packed (like he always does because he’s a wasteful jerk). Wilson comes up with a logical explanation, first by asking who works on “The Masked Mutant.” Skipper responds the Mutant was created by Jimmy Starenko. Wilson figures Starenko was in town one day, saw the building, and thought it’d look great in one of his comics. Skipper’s disappointed because Wilson’s reasoning makes too much sense and was secretly hoping the building IS the home of the Masked Mutant. Wilson then invites Skipper to check out his rubber stamp collection after school, but Skipper thinks that would be too exciting.
Skipper doesn’t have the chance to revisit the area with the pink building until a week later, but he may have taken too long because the building’s gone! Libby shows up and sees Skipper freaking out, mentioning it’s likely the city tore the building down because it was so ugly. Skipper asks if she ever saw a bulldozer or wrecking crew around here since the last time they were together, but she saw nothing. Trying to change the subject, Libby invites Skipper to her place to check out her comic collection; Skipper’s so frazzled he says yes.
Arriving home that evening, Skipper muses on the awful artwork in “High School Harry & Beanhead” and asks how no one can tell the blonde girl and black haired girl look exactly the same. His bad mood is cut short when he finds one of the two “Masked Mutant Special” issues waiting for him in the mail. The issue features the Mutant spying on the League of Good Guys via computer monitors in his lair, boasting they can never find him because of the Invisibility Curtain he placed around his HQ.
An Invisibility Curtain? As in a device which would make it seem like an entire building wasn’t actually there when it really is? And who says comics don’t relate to real life situations?
Sadly, Skipper is stuck shopping with his mom all of the next afternoon and boy is she in a delightful mood. He tries to tell her about the pink building, and she’s all “I wish you were as interested in your schoolwork as you are in those dumb comics.”
“When was the last time you read a good book?”
“Doesn’t your science teacher have better things to do than cut up innocent worms?”
Skipper immediately heads back to the supposedly empty lot to see if there really is an Invisibility Curtain at work. He naturally runs into Libby on the way, who asks if he’s either sick or going crazy because he thinks there’s an invisible building owned by a fictional character. Skipper tries to ignore her belief there’s nothing in the lot and dares her to investigate with him. Libby takes two steps, asserting there’s nothing to fi-holy shit the building’s there. Could it be true? Is this building the secret lair of the Masked Mutant? Why am I asking these questions when we know it totally is?
Of course Skipper wants to investigate further even though Libby wants to get the fuck out of there. Skipper peers through the glass doors and sees the lobby is as empty as it was before. As he steps inside with Libby nearby, Skipper suddenly hears a beeping sound and is scanned by a yellow beam. The beam doesn’t hurt or anything, but Skipper’s not sure what happened and Libby didn’t notice. Libby just wants to go, halfheartedly insisting they’re in an office building.
An office building completely devoid of workers and hidden behind a veil of invisibility.
Libby gets pissed off because she knows Skipper wants this to be the HQ of his favorite comic villain, but Skipper points out the evidence is clearly implying it IS the Masked Mutant’s base. Libby’s unable to come up with a reasonable explanation for the weird shit they’ve seen so far and wants to leave, yet Skipper’s not going anywhere until he learns the truth. Not even the prospect of exploring the place by himself is enough to make him depart, because he’ll never be able to live with himself if he chickens out now.
For all her griping, Libby decides to stick with Skipper but still doesn’t think this is the Mutant’s lair. God how many times have I typed “Lair” in this recap so far? She takes one last shot about how sad Skipper is for believing a comic is real, and Skipper’s simply relieved High School Harry and Beanhead aren’t alive too. Well, that he KNOWS of. The two head for an elevator in the lobby as Skipper realizes there are no signs or any real furnishings at all within the lobby. Once inside the elevator, Skipper hits the button for the top floor. So of course the elevator starts to go down, down, DOOOOOOOOWN.
When the elevator finally stops, Libby starts to panic because the doors aren’t opening and the “LOBBY” button isn’t working. Skipper tells her to calm down as the doors slide open and reveal a dark, dusty tunnel. It looks like they’re in the basement of the building. Libby refuses to leave the elevator until it becomes clear the “LOBBY” and “EMERGENCY” buttons are doing jack shit. The moment the kids step out, however, the doors slam shut behind them and they can here the elevator ascending. Even worse, there are no other elevators next to this one. They’re trapped!
The kids start to search for another elevator or some stairs, going down a dark, dusty hallway and observing rooms filled with file cabinets and office equipment. The basement is bigger than they believed because Skipper gets separated from Libby without realizing it. Further down the hall, Skipper finds a huge room filled with even bigger machinery. Upon closer inspection, Skipper realizes he’s looking at a printing press and finds the floor is covered in ink-smeared paper. Some of the papers look familiar and Skipper starts to wonder if the building is really home to Collectible Comics, the company that publishes “The Masked Mutant.”
Skipper freaks out when he sees a life-sized standee of the Masked Mutant before checking out a long table covered in artwork and pencil sketches. Skipper finds a cabinet with designs for the League of Good Guys as well as characters who haven’t debuted yet. Obviously this MUST be Collectible Comics, as Skipper forgets all about the fucking invisibility ray or whatever the hell it is and scopes out more drawings. He’s reminded of why he’s never liked the Penguin People characters, but then he almost shits himself when he finds drawings of HIMSELF. And it’s not just a passing resemblance, because the boy in the sketches has the same chip in his front tooth as Skipper does.
Back to being frightened as he gets the feeling someone has been spying on him, Skipper looks through the different sketches of himself when Libby finds him. She demands to know where the fuck he went when he claims SHE wandered away from HIM. Libby doesn’t waste time quibbling about semantics and wants them both to go now. Skipper tries to tell her about the drawings but she doesn’t believe him and practically drags his ass out the building.
Returning home, Skipper finds Wilson waiting for him eager to show off some of his rubber stamps. While Wilson gives Skipper a refresher course on his hobby, Skipper tries to get a word in and recap everything that happened in the pink building. Wilson has trouble following Skipper no matter how many times Skipper goes over it. After Wilson leaves, Skipper notices the next “Masked Mutant Special” has arrived, this one promoting a new foe for the Mutant.
Skipper’s heart practically stops as he reads about himself exploring the Mutant’s lair, juxtaposed with scenes of the Galloping Gazelle trapped inside a boiling hot room. Skipper immediately tries to get his parents’ attention, but his dad is chopping onions for dinner and can’t see because of the tears while his mother only notices a passing resemblance. Like they were gonna be helpful anyway. Skipper goes back to reading the comic and is not happy to see the Galloping Gazelle talking about how “The boy” is the only one who can save him and the rest of the world from the Masked Mutant…
The next day Skipper heads back to the Mutant’s lair, obviously not excited he’s the only one who can save the Galloping Gazelle. On the way, he sees Wilson who drops the biggest bombshell so far. He’s giving up collecting rubber stamps.
Well it’s not the BIGGEST bombshell but it’s enough to make Skipper pause and go “What?” Wilson hasn’t decided what he’ll be collecting from now on, and Skipper doesn’t ask him to come along in his quest to save the world. He doesn’t see Libby on the bus either. The moment Skipper enters the pink building past the invisibility curtain, he hears a cold, evil laugh within the lobby. Clearly this will end well for all involved.
Skipper gets into the elevator, and without pressing a button it ascends to the top floor. The doors open to a totally gray hallway, which is especially odd because the hallways in the comic were done in yellow and bright green. It takes forever to navigate the seemingly endless and empty floor when Skipper has a confusing thought. The grayness of the hallway reminds him of the sketches he saw in the basement studio, so Skipper wonders what if he’s actually inside a comic sketch right now?
Eventually Skipper turns a corner and is blinded by bright colors on the walls, ceiling, and carpet. He hears a banging sound coming from a barred door and tries to find out who’s inside. The person in the room begs Skipper for help, so Skipper obliges and unlocks the door to find none other than the Galloping Gazelle.
The tied-up Gazelle tells Skipper they don’t have much time before the Masked Mutant returns. Skipper starts to free the flesh and blood hero as the Gazelle inquires as to how Skipper found him. Did he use cyber-rader powers? Did he read the Gazelle’s mind? Skipper stammers he just found the lair, wondering what’s going to happen and why he’s smack dab in the middle of it. While getting free, the Gazelle reveals the Mutant caught him while he was napping, the only time anyone is ever able to catch him because he’s not moving. He figures the rest of his buddies in the League are searching the universe for him, and tells Skipper not to worry about keeping up with him despite Skipper’s lack of mutant dyno-legs.
Skipper is still not thrilled at the idea of taking on the Masked Mutant, but the Gazelle figures he can run circles around the Masked Fiend of Fiendocity. Skipper really does have a hard time keeping up with the Gazelle no matter how slow he tries to move, which is still super fast for the Fastest Man in the Solar System. Hero and child reach a staircase, but the Gazelle orders Skipper to be careful. Turns out there’s a disintegrator-ray that will disintegrate anything that steps on the first or second step. The Gazelle can easily jump the two steps, but he suggests Skipper get a good running start. Skipper is, naturally, scared out of his mind and wishing he’d laid off the Pop Tarts and Frosted Flakes. He does as the Gazelle suggests, gets a good running start, and HE…
Lands on the first step.
Oh but it looks like the Mutant forgot to turn the ray on today.
So moving on, Skipper and the Gazelle ascend the stairway into an opulent, lasciviously decorated penthouse office. Crystal chandeliers, oil paintings, fur carpeting, TV monitors watching every hero on Earth, a giant gold desk, the works. The Gazelle mutters the Mutant treats himself well, but those days are over and swears to trap him in a tornado that will blow him away. Skipper suddenly hears the same laughter from before, and watches in horror as the gold desk begins to transform into a man. The Mutant!
Skipper’s finally face to face with his comic book idol, the Masked Mutant, and now he’s threatening to destroy him! The Gazelle stands in front of Skipper, ordering the Mutant to leave the kid alone and fight him man to man. The Mutant isn’t worried and will gladly deal with the Gazelle first. The speedster starts running circles around the Mutant, trapping him inside a tornado just like he promised. Skipper thinks the Gazelle has this situation under control…
And then the Mutant sticks his foot out and trips him. FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
The Gazelle crashes pretty badly, giving the Mutant the opportunity to shapeshift into a leopard and attack the hero. The Mutant rips the Gazelle up with his new claws until the “Hero” has enough and runs for his life, telling Skipper he’s on his own. If the Gazelle is based on who I think he’s based on, I’m not surprised in the slightest.
Skipper is both pissed off at having been abandoned by the Galloping Chicken and scared at being left at the mercy of the Masked Mutant. Before the Mutant finishes him off, he demands to know what Skipper’s powers are. Does he shrink? Burst into flames? Can he fog the minds of men? Skipper exclaims he doesn’t have any powers, so the Mutant figures they’ll do this the hard way. He was planning on exploiting the natural weakness of whatever power Skipper has, but if he wants to play hard ball the Mutant’s happy to oblige. Skipper tries to fight back by grabbing a big stone paperweight from the Mutant’s display case and heaving it at the villain, but misses. The Mutant grabs Skipper and uses his molecule shifting abilities to stretch his arms until Skipper is right up against the chandelier, planning to drop him to the ground and splatter him on the floor. But before the Mutant drops him, the two hear someone enter the room. The Mutant is outraged by this intrusion, but Skipper is shocked because it’s, it’s…
Libby completely ignores the Masked Mutant, walking right past him as he lowers Skipper and asks why Skipper never heard her calling his name before he went inside. Skipper tries to tell Libby he’s kind of in the middle of something and points to the costumed supervillain in the room. Libby finally notices the Mutant and calmly informs him she and Skipper are leaving. Skipper can’t believe she’s being so glib until he figures of course she has no clue how dangerous the Mutant is when she only reads “High School Harry & Beanhead.”
The Mutant replies that Skipper and Libby aren’t going anywhere, and asks which of them wants to be destroyed first. Now Libby seems worried and decides to take action, revealing a toy gun in her bag. The Mutant laughs and Skipper has no idea what she thinks she’s doing with that toy. Libby reasons if they’re in a comic book, she can do anything with it, and declares it’s really a Molecule Melter. The Mutant doesn’t believe her as she threatens to melt all his molecules if he doesn’t let them leave. As the masked villain approaches the kids, Libby pulls the trigger and the gun starts to whistle.
The Mutant tells her it was a nice tr-oh no wait he’s engulfed in a light and he slowly starts to shrink away in his costume until nothing’s left.
Skipper can’t believe it! Libby just killed the Masked Mutant, the most evil villain in the world! Libby responds she had warned the Mutant she had a Molecule Melter, but he didn’t listen. Skipper just wants to get the fuck out of there like Libby wanted, but Libby tells Skipper it’s his turn.
“Libby, put down the gun,” I told her. “You have a sick sense of humor!”
The absolute last line I would’ve ever expected to find in a Goosebumps book.
Libby advances on Skipper and tells him the bad news. Mainly that there IS no Libby and there never has been. Skipper watches in horror as Libby starts to grow taller, her clothes shifting and her eyes turning black. Her voice turning deeper. Masculine. Familiar.
The Masked Mutant, the REAL Masked Mutant, lays it out for Skipper that he was Libby the whole time. It was a form he assumed to get close to Skipper. Skipper motions to the empty costume on the floor and says THAT was the Masked Mutant. The Mutant corrects him, saying the guy he just killed was in fact the Magnificent Molecule Man, another shapeshifting villain he employs to act as a body double sometimes. Skipper can’t believe the Mutant killed a guy who worked for him, and the Mutant is all “Dude, I’m a supervillain what the fuck did you expect?” And now the Mutant is gonna do something bad to Skipper.
Skipper still doesn’t understand why this is happening to him as the Mutant declares Skipper belongs here now. The Mutant talks about how boring it is outclassing the same stupid heroes again and again. When he saw Skipper on the bus and heard him talk about how he was the Masked Mutant’s biggest fan, the Mutant felt he’d finally found a worthy adversary for his comics. After all, who could be a more challenging foe than the person who knows everything about you? Skipper recognizing the Mutant’s lair right off is what convinced him Skipper was the one. But now Skipper’s role in the story is ending. Skipper cries the Mutant can’t do this to him because he’s a real, human boy and the Mutant is just a comic book character. The Mutant answers yes, he is a comic book character, BUT SO IS SKIPPER.
Skipper doesn’t believe the Mutant and calls him a liar. The Mutant is flattered, admitting lying is one of his best qualities, but it’s true. He reminds Skipper of the first time he entered the lobby and was scanned by that beam. Turns out that beam converted Skipper from a human being to a comic character made up of dots of red, yellow, and blue ink. There’s no going back for Skipper, because this will be his last appearance.
But wait! Skipper has a surprise in store for the Mutant, because he ISN’T Skipper Matthews! He’s really…
The Colossal Elastic Boy!
The Masked Mutant uttered a low gasp. “Elastic Boy!” he exclaimed. “I thought you looked familiar!”
AAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA WHEN IN THE FUCK WAS THERE EVER AN ELASTIC BOY MENTIONED BEFORE THIS POINT?!
I’m sorry this, this is just the funniest part in the entire book for me because the Mutant is so fucking genuinely shocked sweet Jesus.
Skip-I mean, Elastic Boy, announces he’s going back to his home planet Xargos because he doesn’t do guest appearances in other comics. The Mutant responds he’s gonna destroy Elastic Boy by ripping him to pieces, and then he’s gonna rip those pieces into tinier pieces! And then, and then he’s gonna put those pieces in a box and mail that box to himself and when it arrives HE’LL SMASH IT WITH A HAMMA!
Oh wait wrong company NEVER MIND.
Elastic Boy laughs at the Mutant’s threats, because his super elastic body can never be torn apart. Nothing can hurt him, except of course for sulfuric acid.
The Mutant smiles and shifts his molecules to turn into a wave of sulfuric acid to melt Elastic Boy and destroy him! Elastic Boy quickly steps out of the way and watches as the acid hits the carpet and burns it away. At that point Skipper starts to laugh in triumph, having officially defeated the evillest villain of all time. See, Skipper mentioned the Mutant could shift his molecules to turn into anything solid. But he CAN’T turn into a liquid because he can’t change back! Skipper can’t even believe he fell for that whole “Elastic Boy” ruse; he made the name up on the spot! So yeah, the Mutant was right. Skipper WAS a good adversary.
Skipper heads home, happy to be alive and not caring at all about the next “Masked Mutant” issue waiting for him. He’s in such a good mood he asks Mitzi to come outside and play Frisbee with him. After that, the two head inside to snack on some of their mom’s chocolate cake. Skipper swears he won’t give himself a bigger slice than Mitzi, but then he slips holding the knife and cuts his hand.
I raised my hand and stared down at the cut. “Hey!” I uttered in surprise.
What was trickling out from the cut?
It was red, blue, yellow, and black.
“Cool!” Mitzi cried.
“Where’s that new Masked Mutant comic?” I asked. I suddenly had a feeling that my comic book career wasn’t over!
Jude’s Commission Gallery
Here are all the commissions I own related to this book and the video game adaption.
This is one of the very first Goosebumps related sketches I ever added to my collection, a freebie Tom did for me a few years ago at NYCC.
The second Masked Mutant sketch I own, done by Jim Salicrup a few years ago at the Comic Book Marketplace
Flo, one of the supporting characters and a member of the League of Good Guys from the video game. She has water based powers and is somewhat psychic. Her cousin is Babbling Brooke. Rich did this for me at NYCC 2015 during one of my first Goosebumps themed forays.
The Mutant’s henchman, the Magnificent Molecule Man, based on his appearance in the video game. Tyler James is a semi regular usually stationed in the independent press section with his group Comix Tribe. I don’t commission him enough as I should, but I always have fun doing it.
The Mutant’s other henchman, Root Rot, done by my friend Bobby Timony, co-creator of the 1920s supernatural detective comic “The Night Owls.” Bobby’s been a con regular for me since 2011 and has been helping me flesh out my designs for “The League of Super-Teens,” an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes that never got expanded on beyond a monitor board.
The Mutant’s other henchman, Pinky Flamingo, by my friend Nat over on tumblr. Pinky has a weird gangster theme going with his mohawk, his one hand with tools for fingers, and one hand where each finger is an eraser to “Rub ya out.”
The Galloping Gazelle done by Bronze Age legend and super nice guy Joe Staton, modeled after the Gazelle’s appearance in the TV show where he was portrayed by the late, great, Adam West.
Babbling Brooke, Flo’s chatty cousin, by my friend Billy Tucci, who did an amazing job with those colors and exceeded my expectations with a character who only appeared from the shoulders up.
Jude’s Comic Annotations
Zero Issues: Zero issues are typically distributed by comic companies as prologues to a comic series, with the option of being a short preview with preliminary artwork and interviews, or an origin story explaining the history and backstory of a character. They’re more likely to be made to promote upcoming summer crossovers, but sometimes are used to reprint old stories as giveaways for Free Comic Book Day. DC Comics has done at least two rounds of zero issues for all their main books, the first as part of the 1990s crossover “Zero Hour” when they were restructuring their timeline (again). Most of the zero issues were origin tales, while others were jumpstarting brand new books launching off from Zero Hour. The second time was called “Zero Month” during the end of the first year of their God awful “New 52” initiative. While most of the zero issues for that round were origins, a number of them were the final issue for several of their new books. It was basically a mercy killing.
League of Good Guys: Most likely a generic reference to superhero teams, the most likely suspect being the Justice League of America.
Silver Swan: There IS a character owned by DC with that name, although it’s a name shared by three different women and they’re all Wonder Woman villains.
Silver Swan (Helen Alexandros): A promising ballerina with average looks, she spent her life getting mocked and passed over because she wasn’t beautiful. Although honestly she just had oily skin and some zits, she wasn’t that bad looking. The god Ares saw her anger and rage and used it to turn her into a weapon against Wonder Woman. Ares blessed Helen with a beautiful, superpowered form as the Silver Swan, granting her the ability to fly, unleash sonic screams, and control men with her voice. While her backstory was somewhat sympathetic, Helen loved being a villain and devoted herself to destroying Wonder Woman, even attempting to steal her identity.
Helen was the original Silver Swan and debuted in the 1980s, but was later retconned from existence by “Crisis on Infinite Earths” when DC reset Wonder Woman’s history. In the 2000s, it looked like DC brought Helen back.
She was one of the villains to appear in the comic continuation of the 70s Wonder Woman show, “Wonder Woman ’77.” She even had her own band, “The Starlings.”
Silver Swan (Valerie Beaudry): The first Silver Swan in DC’s post-Crisis continuity, created during George Perez’s classic Wonder Woman series. Valerie’s parents were exposed to radiation before she was born, which left her looking deformed. CEO Hank Armbruster discovered Valerie’s deformity also left her with powerful sonic abilities, so he manipulated her into an abusive relationship and used his resources to transform her into the Silver Swan. While now beautiful, Valerie was tormented and beaten by her supposed lover and forced into life as a living weapon. Thankfully, Valerie’s story reached a happy ending through the efforts of Wonder Woman and Maxine Sterenbuch, Valerie’s longtime penpal and devoted friend. The two managed to convince Valerie that Hank was using her and she had people (Maxine) who truly loved her. She briefly tried to be a superhero before retiring the name for good.
I’ve always wished Valerie and Maxine got married at some point and Diana was invited to their wedding.
Silver Swan (Vanessa Kapatelis): The second Swan in the post-Crisis DCU was a longtime supporting character in Wonder Woman’s cast. Vanessa Kapatelis was the daughter of archaeologist Julia Kapatelis, one of Diana’s first allies in man’s world. Vanessa was one of the most down-to-Earth teenage characters in comics and came to be seen as Diana’s kid sister. She had an ongoing story arc in Perez’s run that featured her dealing with becoming a celebrity at her school thanks to Wonder Woman, alongside several traumatic events such as the suicide of her friend Lucy Spears.
Vanessa was fazed out during John Byrne’s run, and was brought back by Phil Jimenez. In Jimenez’s run, Vanessa began to resent Diana after they lost touch, and much like Valerie Beaudry she was sought out and exploited by people who wanted to hurt Wonder Woman. Thanks to millionaire Sebastian Ballestros, Dr. Psycho, and the witch Circe, Vanessa was transformed into the new Silver Swan to take Diana down. During this period, Vanessa really hated the current Wonder Girl Cassandra Sandsmark (considering Cassandra was a knock off of Vanessa it’s hard not to blame her; DC did such a good job making Cass an unlikeable asshole I agree with Vanessa). Diana tried her best to save Vanessa and undo the brainwashing.
Gail Simone capped off her Wonder Woman run by doing a story with George Perez featuring Diana attending Vanessa’s college graduation. In a way this not only completed Gail’s run, but completed the story George began with Vanessa. Now healed and grown as a person, Vanessa’s story had a happy ending…
And then James Robinson brought her back under “DC Rebirth,” gutting Vanessa’s history and personality and turning her into… THIS.
God the man should’ve stayed at Marvel writing comics about the Scarlet Witch. She’s beyond salvaging so he’s perfect for her. I’m just glad his Wonder Woman run FINALLY ended.
Z-Men: An obvious X-Men homage. Stine makes another one in the Give Yourself Goosebumps title, “The Little Comic Shop of Horrors,” only they’re called the Y’s Guys because their leader is Professor Y. I’m not gonna spoil too much of their line up, but Stine makes an AMAZING joke about Jean Grey that is funny for all the right reasons.
High School Harry & Beanhead: Apparently they’re a veiled reference to Archie Comics, specifically the title character Archie Andrews and his friend Jughead Jones. The “Blonde girl and black haired girl” are clearly referring to Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, and Stine makes a crack at the simplicity of the artwork used in Archie books.
Jimmy Starenko: There’s a Jim Steranko famous for his work at Marvel in the 1960s, particularly his work on Nick Fury and “Strange Tales.” He still does variant covers for Marvel.
So was this recap worth the wait? I hope it was. Despite my love for comics this one’s never really been one of my favorites. It’s a good entry, definitely, but I hadn’t thought much about it beyond the video game. I recently rewatched some of the TV episode and the guy who played the Masked Mutant (Scott Wickware), who did the voice of the Haunted Mask) was phenomenal. He was more hammy than in the book, but his voice had a Freddy Krueger esque touch to it and he did a great job of unnerving Skipper.
I hate how the episode portrayed Skipper’s dad as a skinny, nebbish type, but enjoyed how they gave his mom a romance novel addiction because it makes her snide remarks from the book so much funnier. The episode also went further with the reveal of Skipper’s status as a comic character by confirming he was indeed the Colossal Elastic Boy and even got his own series.
I really wish Stine had done more with the Masked Mutant, and even though it likely will never happen, would love to see him take down Dr. Maniac.
[Wing: A glitch lost all my comments and I don’t have time to recreate them, so I’ll just say I thought this book was fairly adorable, I loved the detail of the gray hallway sketch and him bleeding ink at the end, and you can step off with your Scarlet Witch insult up there, she’s amazing and I love her.]