Irving Forbush, the blundering Marvel hero of the ’60s, had the power to break the Fourth Wall long before Merc with the Mouth first appeared.
Wade Wilson aka Deadpool has a well-deserved reputation as one of Marvel’s most ruthless killers. Deadpool has fought and killed nearly every hero and villain in his universe at least once, and yet he still manages to be one of the friendliest and most entertaining characters in his world. His ability to break through the Fourth Wall adds a lot to his charisma, but the Merc with the Mouth isn’t the first character with the power to interact with audiences. Forbush Man was the original self-aware superhero who paved the way for Deadpool’s mark of satire.
Irving Forbush first appeared as Forbush Man on the cover of Not the Echh brand # 1, Marvel’s Erased Parody Series. Forbush Man’s first appearance and origin in story revealed in Issue # 5 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Tom Sutton. Irving Forbush is an everyday goofball who aspires to be a hero. He enthusiastically collects heroes’ autographs and lives with his cruel aunt. One day, while Irving was washing the dishes, his aunt angrily threw a pot over his head. Where some might be disheartened by this insensitivity, the tireless Forbush finds inspiration. He takes the pot from his “laboratory” and pierces holes for the eyes in it. Now he has what it takes to be a hero – a mask! Carrying his pot and galoshes, Irving moves through town, accidentally stopping the bad guys in their tracks. Once, while reading the newspaper, he unwittingly lures an angry juggernaut into a pool of wet concrete, trapping the monster and literally cementing his reputation as a hero.
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Although Forbush Man never became a household name, he appeared quite regularly in Not the Echh brand and the comic series of the 90s What is the–?!. He also played a major role in the 2010s Captain America: Who Won’t Wield the Shield by Jason Aaron and Mirco Pierfederici, when an unusually muscular version of Forbush Man breaks through the fourth wall to confront comic book authors Ed Brubaker and Jason Aaron about the unnecessarily gritty, violent and commercial nature of contemporary comics. After wreaking havoc, Forbush realizes that he too has become the kind of sinister hero he campaigns against, before being killed by Brubaker.
But like any good hero, Irving Forbush didn’t stay dead for long. He reappeared in 2016 Deadpool: too early? # 1 by Joshua Corin and Todd Nauck, when Forbush’s spiritual successor Deadpool invites Marvel’s funniest heroes to be on his Christmas card with him. Just before the photo is taken, the lights go out for a moment, and when they come back on, Forbush Man is lying dead on the ground. Later, other of Wade’s friends, including Rocket Raccoon, Ant-Man, and the Punisher, also eventually die. Deadpool and Squirrel Girl investigate the murders and ultimately find out that the demon Paen-Umbra has kidnapped the heroes. The Mercenary then forces the demon to resuscitate his fallen friends.
Since returning from the dead, Forbush Man has lived in relative obscurity. The goofy hero is unlikely to find himself at the center of the Marvel Universe, but in many ways he has paved the way for heroes like Deadpool to break through the Fourth Wall and poke fun at the comic book medium.
Although he is not well remembered and has a slim chance of appearing in other media, Irving Forbush still has the distinction of pioneering the genre of meta-commentary and wacky humor. that Deadpool would make a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe.
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