Spotlight Sunday 4.4.21

A day associated with resurrection and bunnies means that there are spoilers ahead for…

Trying a new thing for the cover image; this is a screenshot of the entry for the comic in my comic book database software. It doesn’t always have complete information about the creators involved, and I can’t find a way to add them to the entry, so I’ll note them here:
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Liz Berube
Letterer: John Costanza

“Well, no big deal–even Superman can’t hold up the Washington Monument in a tornado!”

As I noted above, it’s Easter, so it seemed like as good a time as any to return after being away for so long.

I’ve meant to write some posts over the past few months, but laziness won out every time, and I have to say that even now, as I’m writing this, the laziness is putting up a good fight. However, even though I don’t have any Nestle Quik on hand to give me a much-needed pick-me-up, I’ll do my best to prevail, because telling you all about this story is just too important.

…okay, it’s not important at all, but I do want to get this posted, so I’ll continue on.

The subject at hand today is one of those PSA/promotional comics of the type I’ve written about in the past, though this one differs in that it’s not one that I read as a kid, though I was dimly aware of its existence at the time. I stumbled upon a scanned copy of it online quite a few years ago, and it came to mind after I started writing the various Spotlight posts about these kinds of comics, so I tracked down and ordered a physical copy to add to the archives.

Which brings us up to speed, which is an appropriate word choice, as the comic involves quickness and quikness.

Apparently, the product that was once known in the US as Nestlé Quik is now known as Nesquik worldwide, and that’s been the case since 1999, and the fact that I didn’t know that until just now tells you how long it’s been since I’ve given any real thought to the product. But when I was a kid, Quik was a powdered drink mix you added to milk, and it came in chocolate and strawberry flavors. The mascot was a cartoon rabbit known as the Quik Bunny, a name that had a bit of a dual meaning, as he was very quick and he loved drinking Quik, which he usually did very quikly quickly.

I’m not sure how/where the comic was distributed, but it’s your typical promotional comic of the era, featuring a main story interspersed with various puzzles and activities. The basic plot is pretty thin – the villainous Weather Wizard is wreaking weather-related havoc all over the world, and Superman works to put an end to his perfidy with the help of the Quik Bunny and his (human) friends in the Quik Qlub.

The activity portions – mazes, puzzles, connect-the-dots pictures – all relate to various plot points in the main narrative.

Our story opens on what should be a nice, sunny day in Metropolis that has instead greeted the Man of Steel with flash floods brought on by an unexpected storm. The storm is extremely localized, as we find that it is a nice, sunny day in the suburbs, the perfect kind of day for the members of the Quik Qlub to finish building their Qlubhouse.

While taking a quick Quik break, the Qlub members turn on the TV and see Superman dealing with the effects of the unusual storm, and the Quik Bunny declares that the Qlub should do their part to lend the Action Ace a hand, or paw, as the case may be.

The kids are dubious at first, seeing as how they’re, you know, just kids, so what can they do to help Superman? But the Quik Bunny isn’t having it, because he knows the Qlub qids kids can do anything.

It seems odd that a club devoted to stanning a drink mix would require a high-tech transforming clubhouse.

Anything in this case includes having built a Qlubhouse that could give the Magic School Bus a run for its money, as Patty and Maureen have filled it with all sorts of technological surprises, such as the ability to transform into a helicopter.

Returning to Metropolis proper, we see the Weather Wizard lurking in the shadows admiring the havoc he has wreaked. Noticing Superman flying above – and somehow being surprised by that – he uses his magic weather wand to shoot a bolt of magic lightning at Superman, which provides the readers with the first activity: a maze to guide Superman through in order to lead the lightning bolt away from the city and out into the ocean.

However, at this point, no one knows that the Weather Wizard – who normally causes problems for the Flash in Central City – is behind this weather wizardry. Back at the Qlubhouse, the Qlub feeds all of the facts into the qomputer computer, which leads to the next activity: a puzzle that will identify the cause. (Spoiler: As already mentioned, it’s Weather Wizard.)

The Qlub shouts out a message to Superman, just as Superman himself spots the Weather Wizard. For his part, the Weather Wizard assails Superman with freezing rain, forming a block of ice around him and causing him to plummet towards the ground as the Weather Wizard himself flies away on a cloud. The Qlub has to choose between helping Superman and chasing after the Weather Wizard. They opt for the former, using a mechanical arm to catch the falling Superman, who is grateful, but notes that he didn’t actually need the assist, as he wouldn’t have been hurt even if he had hit the ground.

The Qlub takes this to mean that they should have chased after the Weather Wizard, but Superman informs them that the Weather Wizard is dangerous and that, transforming Qlubhouse aside, they’re just a bunch of kids (note that he doesn’t say they’re a bunch of kids and a bunny; Quik Bunny is lumped in as a kid), so they really should just let him handle it himself. However, they do prove helpful by letting Superman know where Weather Wizard is headed, based on a clue he provided as to his destination.

Superman heads to Washington D.C. based on the tip, and despite Superman’s warning, the Qlub decides to follow by turning the Qlubhouse into a hot air balloon that can ride the same wind currents the Weather Wizard did.

From there, the story continues the pattern: the Weather Wizard travels somewhere, Superman follows, but is stymied by the Weather Wizard, there’s plot-related activity to complete, the Qlub helps Superman, but Weather Wizard escapes, the Qlub figures out where he’s headed next.

This next stop is Egypt, where Superman and the Quik Bunny battle a mummy, and then finally to China, where the Weather Wizard is defeated by the power of Nestlé Quik.

I feel like there might be more going on with that than simple chocolately goodness. What is in that drink?

Quik Bunny’s plan is to build a metal decoy of himself that the Weather Wizard tries to destroy with lightning, but which causes the lightning to be reflected back at him…because lightning bounces off of metal, I guess? The story and the activities all seem as though they’re intended to be educational, or at least they make a small attempt at teaching something, but this denouement seems dubious at best.

In any case, with the previous day saved, on the next day Superman stops by the Qlubhouse and learns that despite his amazing abilities he can’t compete with Quik Bunny when it comes to drinking Quik quick.

SLURP! As John Byrne said about the Flash, it’s okay to be better at something than Superman if it’s the only thing you’re good at.

Even for what it is, this comic isn’t very good. As I mentioned when I wrote about Superman and Wonder Woman teaming up with the TRS-80 Whiz Kids, the overall story didn’t seem that much different from a typical comic of the time, with the main exception being the inclusion of the blatant promotional material. This isn’t like that.

Granted, no one is likely to expect much from such a silly premise, but it’s kind of surprising that it’s not at least a little bit better than it is, given the people involved. The quality of it would be understandable if Nestlé had simply paid for the rights to use Superman and had the book produced in-house with their graphics department or farmed out to some ad agency or whatever, but this is a book straight from DC, produced by industry veterans.

I mean, it’s a murderers’ row of talent and experience, with Mike Carlin, who was the group editor of the Superman books, Carmine Infantino, who had for a time been the Publisher of DC Comics, and Dick Giordano, a talented artist in his own right and an excellent inker who was the Executive Editor at DC.

The best work in the book comes from letterer John Costanza, who managed to cram in a LOT of dialogue into some fairly cramped panels without obscuring the action.

At the time this comic came out, John Byrne was the writer and writer/artist on the main line of Superman books at DC, so I can’t help but wonder what we would have gotten if DC had roped him into producing this.

Ultimately, the most entertaining part of the comic was the various activities, so I’ll include the rest below for your enjoyment.

I kind of feel as though in this first Spotlight Sunday in months I’ve done just as lackluster a job as the folks who slapped together the comic this post is about, but in fairness, I’m a bit rusty. Working at my regular job, dealing with a (non-COVID) health issue, and grappling with uncertainty and anxiety all led to me losing track of time and failing to realize just how long it’s been since I’ve done one of these. I can’t make any promises – and I doubt that you’re in need of any – as to when and if I’ll post another, as continue to weigh some options and consider the path forward for myself and for OpenDoor Comics in general. But whether I post something or not, I will, uh, keep you posted about whatever happens.

In the meantime, have some (allegedly educational) fun with these activities.

This is two activities in one for modern kids: the first activity is figuring out what an encyclopedia is.
We actually didn’t have Quik that often when I was a kid. We usually had cheap, generic chocolate syrup to meet our chocolate milk needs.

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