Wednesday, October 5, 2011

1980's Flashback: Ambush Bug

Art by Keith Giffen
Ambush Bug was created by artist Keith Giffen as an intentionally silly character who first appeared in several Superman-related comic books in the early 1980s. His real name is supposedly Irwin Schwab, but he has mental problems that prevent him from truly understanding reality, so even his actual identity may be no more than a delusion on his part. Ambush Bug's primary power is teleportation. At first, this was a function of his suit; as he was limited to teleporting to where small receiver bugs were located. Following an explosion, Ambush Bug internalized this power. It became apparent, in DC Comics Presents #81 (May 1985), that the Bug must say, "Simon says," to utilize this power, although that is no longer necessary.

His origin is disputed, although the most commonly accepted origin is that Brum-El (a historical allusion to Beau Brummel, as well as a reference to Superman's father Jor-El) of the planet Schwab sent his clothes from his supposedly doomed planet, hoping that his wardrobe would survive, only to have it intercepted by a giant radioactive space spider. In the resulting crash, only two articles of clothing survived: the Ambush Bug suit, which was subsequently found by Schwab; and "Argh!Yle!", an argyle sock with a Doctor Doom-like complex, complete with metal mask.

This oddball hero became popular enough to be featured in two comic book miniseries and several specials, all plotted and pencilled by Keith Giffen and scripted by Robert Loren Fleming. Although he is largely considered an absurd character, his popularity amongst artists has led to many "cameos", sometimes with as little as his antennae being visible. He has appeared semi-regularly in the new Doom Patrol series since 2010 along with his partner called "Cheeks, The Toy Wonder", a doll he thinks is alive (complete with its own costume).
Ambush Bug #1 (June 1985)

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