Concluding John Wells’ “History Of The Calculator”…
The Calculator was a big hit with 1976 readers. He came in second in a “Super-Villains Popularity Poll” (conducted in 1977 and announced in 1978’s SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #14), losing out to The Joker. It seems likely that the Calculator would have eventually appeared in the Rozakis-scripted SSOSV but the mass cancellations of 1978 left few vehicles for a return engagement.
Instead, The Calculator sat in limbo until 1981, when Rozakis brought him back for another round with the Atom in ACTION COMICS #s 522-524 (illustrated by Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta). Having finally calculated an escape from his own prison, the villain intended to steal another potentially life-saving device — a so-called “hurricane harness” designed “to drain the fury from a hurricane … and …convert that power into electrical energy — for use in homes and businesses.” Its creator was one of Ray Palmer colleagues, Professor Alpheus V. Hyatt, and the Atom was determined to prevent another of his friends from being harmed.
As he’d boasted, the Calculator was as untouchable as ever and the Tiny Titan soon found himself on the defensive within a fiery cage that shrunk at the same rate that he did. Abruptly enlarging, the Atom caused his cell to grow enough to set off the sprinklers and douse the cage and his foe, gambling that his circuitry would be shorted out. No such luck. “I anticipate battling Aquaman someday,” the rogue explained, “so I’m water-proofed.” Before the Tiny Titan could get his momentum, the Calculator kicked him into Hyatt’s Time Pool.
Returning from a detour in 1938 and aware that he couldn’t personally defeat his opponent, the Atom discreetly perched himself next to Hyatt’s ear and commanded the Professor to “jump up and hit the Calculator’s chest-controls — as many buttons as you can!” A dozen weapons fired simultaneously from his LCD and sparks flew from his keypad. Down but not out, the computer crook had already calculated an escape plan.
While the Atom had been incommunicado, the Calculator had made an unsuccessful probe of Hyatt’s mind but left a micro-speaker in his ear. With the Professor on the witness stand during his attacker’s trial, the Calculator whispered into a sending unit, “Where is the hurricane harness? You’ve sworn to tell the truth.” Without thinking, Hyatt answered and the villain, armed with the information he needed, escaped custody.
Seeking a hero whom the Calculator hadn’t fought, the Atom called in the teenaged Air Wave. The microchip marauder dismissed him as a novice (“You didn’t even make it into my databank!”) but the kid from Texas made good. Using his ability to transform himself into radio waves, Air Wave entered the LCD visor and left through the keypad, causing both to short-circuit in the process. An entry in 1985’s WHO’S WHO #4 reported that “the Calculator is serving three consecutive life terms at a federal penitentiary.”
Next on the Calculator’s hit parade was the Blue Beetle, whom he fought in a rare non-Rozakis outing (1986’s BLUE BEETLE #8, by Len Wein, Paris Cullins and Dell Barras). Also unusual was the solo operator’s decision to use henchmen in his heist of cutting edge computer technology from a Chicago trade show.
The crux of the story was, in fact, a henchman, a newly-paroled man named Ed Buckley who found himself drawn back into a life of crime against his better judgment. With the Beetle about to be impaled by one of the Calculator’s energy constructs, Buckley fired a gun at his boss and took a brutal energy blast as a result. The distraction had done its job, though, and Blue Beetle tore the keypad off the Calculator’s chest. The villain wound up with his arms held in a giant abacus, a facsimile of “one of mankind’s most ancient computers.”
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
1. Name the column Rich Johnston writes for Silver Bullet Comics.
2. Once the words “Say you,” are said, even in casual conversation, who or what arrives?
3. The branch of Image that Rob Leifeld was the star of was called what?
4. Fancy Dan, Snake Marston, and Hammer Harrison are members of what group?
5. One of their tryout issues of SHOWCASE featured a guest appearance by Woody Allen; who are they?
6. One of Marvel’s western heroes was actually billed as a bad guy; name his book.
7. Tommy Monaghan’s occupation, please?
8. “Boil the blood in the heart of fire. Gone, gone the form of man. Rise…” Finish the quote.
9. Angel and the Beast were among the first students at whose school?
10. Learning disabled today, Moose used to be the dumb jock of Riverdale. What was his usual grade?
11. Lois kissed Batman, Green Arrow and Aquaman to rescue Superman; what was this operation called?
BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL
1. The three largest metropolitan areas in the US – New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles – each have two baseball teams. LA has NO NFL football team.
2. The Canadian national anthem is played at all baseball games in the US in which the Toronto Blue Jays or the Montreal Expos play – even if there are no Canadians on the teams.
3. There were 30,000 empty seats at the first Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, back in the Calculator’s data bank…
Rozakis returned to the Calculator on one final occasion as part of 1989’s HERO HOTLINE mini-series (illustrated by Stephen DeStefano and Kurt Schaffenberger). After making two unsuccessful attempts at killing the Hotline’s Coordinator (a.k.a. “Harry”) via intermediaries (an Americommando robot in #4 and the Firebug in #5), the calculating man decided to do the job himself. Using several bald henchman (each with a number — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 — tattooed on their foreheads), he created traps for the company’s major operatives and strolled into the Hotline offices.
The unseen Coordinator admitted that he should have figured it out sooner but his foe countered that “I calculated that you wouldn’t . You know me, Harry — leave as little to chance as possible.”
“Which is why you managed to lure my crew away.”
“Of course. And quite cleverly, I might add. Each with an assignment designed for their specific skills. And each lured into a trap designed specifically… Since we’re alone, suppose you come out and we settle our differences face-to-face?”
“I’ll come out on one condition. You calculate the odds of your beating my entire team.”
“You’re a riot, Harry. I did it long before I walked in the door. That’s why I lured them away in the first place.”
As a giant elastic hand swooped down from above, the Hotline agent known as Stretch asked, “Want to calculate the odds that we’d all be freed from your traps ?”
Using energy-chains to slam Stretch to the ground, the villain sneered, “Bad move, Thomas. I was prepared for you.”
Another voice advised that it was “time to recalculate … Tom’s not alone!”
The Calculator fought back against the converging Hotline team with an LCD-generated barrage of sharpened disks. Believing he’d triumphed, the villain was unprepared for Stretch binding his arms and legs while
Diamondette delivered a rock-hard punch that shattered his helmet display. The origin of the Calculator’s feud with the Coordinator and Stretch remained a mystery.
A year later, the Calculator had been reduced to hanging out in a super-villain bar called the Dark Side, trading stories with bad guys like Calendar Man who’d also seen better days (1990’s JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #43, by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis, Adam Hughes and Jose Marzan, Jr.). He hasn’t been seen since although one of his spare costumes recently surfaced in the possession of the Skeleton, a villain who takes the guise of Batman’s various foes (2000’s BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY SECRET FILES #1, by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Mark Pennington).
Has the Calculator become an also-ran in the 21st Century, regarded as someone as unremarkable and disposable as the device that one can now buy for as little as $1.00? Odds are, the microchip marauder will return to calculate again.
Thanks, John, for an excellent recap of the villain’s history. Next week: Heretofore unrevealed plans for the Calculator and why they were never carried out.
FROM THE EMAILBOX:
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I want to find NECROSCOPE by Brain Lumley. Where can I get all nine issues?
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These are not really questions for ye Answer Man. These are better answered
by our trade partners at Comics Unlimited. Click on the button above that will take you to the SBC/CU Store and see what they can do. And if you do it this week, you’ll get a 10% discount on anything you buy because your letters appeared in this column.
That’s all for now. Till next week, I am outta here…
It’s the teams of the XFL that tie this week’s trivia together.
1. All the Rage
2. The Thunderbolt
3. Extreme Studios
4. The Enforcers
5. The Maniaks
6. Kid Colt, Outlaw
8. The Demon Etrigan.
9. Professor X’s
11. Plan L
Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.