In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.
Last time on Bizarre Baseball Culture: I reviewed and overviewed 2007’s Triple-A Baseball Heroes. In it, some of Marvel’s most famous and/or at-the-time-in-a-movie superheroes had misadventures at the AAA All-Star Game before learning the greatness and beauty of Triple-A Baseball. Also, the Hulk sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” If you haven’t read that, I suggest you do so.
And now, without further ado, it’s sequel, Triple-A Baseball Heroes #2.
The first “Superhero Day” giveaways around AAA must have been successful, because they did the same thing in 2008. Everything about the second issue of Triple-A Baseball Heroes was bigger. The scope was bigger, there were more alternate covers for certain cities, and instead of merely dealing with one event or city, the entirety of AAA baseball was at stake. It even had a cameo or two. You can even see the stakes raised in the standard cover (done by John Watson, who also did the cover for the 2007 edition). Where before it was but a standard “running towards the reader” scene, this one had conflict, as the Marvel heroes and AAA mascots surround Doctor Doom, Magneto, the Green Goblin and the Mole Man.
I have to think, by the way, that the mascot of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs would be in trouble against Magneto.
So, what about the story itself? Well, go below the jump for that.
First off, the standard disclaimer:
- All of the images in this post were scanned by yours truly, and any problems with the quality of the images are my fault.
- All characters and logos in the comic are property of their respective owners (such as Marvel Comics or Minor League Baseball). The excerpts from this comic used in this post are being used under fair use doctrine and are meant merely to support and enhance the opinions and facts stated in said post.
- Click on any of the images to make them bigger.
- To the best of my knowledge, the only way to get this comic nowadays is to find it on eBay or have gone to the games that had them released.
After a nice inside cover that shows the line-art of the cover, we cut to the chase with some news from the Daily Bugle. Turns out that somebody had attacked Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo, and J. Jonah Jameson thinks he knows who is responsible:
That’s right, JJJ thinks that “wall-crawling weirdo” Spider-Man is behind it! He’ll bet his mustache! Also, as a Upstate New York resident, I’d like to note that the claim that the connection X-Men being “upstate New York residents” and the fact they showed up to stop the attack in Buffalo seems a bit tenuous. Buffalo is nowhere near Westchester County.
Anyway, some notes on the creators of this comic and other things of note from the cover:
- The main story guy behind this was Marc Sumerak, who also did the script. Sumerak’s main claim to fame is his work on Marvel’s Power Pack, as well as other all-ages comics such as the Marvel Adventures line.
- Also helping with the story was Christopher Hill, a sports businessman who was involved with getting these comic books started in the first place.
- Doing the art was Mario Gully, who created the Indie-comic Ant and who also did/has done work for other Marvel comics, such as an adaptation of Treasure Island.
- The image of the X-Men fighting the monster is a homage to the first cover for the Fantastic Four.
We never see how Jameson’s editorial ends, however, since we next see who is reading the comic: Reed Richards. Although he doesn’t have the rest of the family this time around. Instead, he’s attending a game in Louisville with Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel). He takes a moment away from reading the Bugle to use his powers for the purpose of catching foul balls:
As Spider-Man would say: with great power must also come grew opportunism. Also, can somebody tell me what Ms. Marvel is doing there, anyway? She’s an interesting character- basically the closest thing Marvel has to a Wonder Woman-style superwoman- but it strikes me as weird that she’d be put in instead of using the Invisible Woman or Storm, both of whom are far better known.
Of course, it could just be because her heavy-hitter status (in the universe, if not in marketability) makes her a valuable asset for when a monster shows up, which it does on the next page. Turns out it was all a stake-out, looking for clues in case a monster attacked Louisville like it did Buffalo. And, what do you know, a monster does attack Louisville. Sadly, we don’t actually see the fight beyond a brief panel showing the aftermath. One of the problems of having only 12 pages to tell a story, I guess. Instead, we see our heroes discuss and wonder what vile individual could have a grudge with AAA Baseball (to the right), as well as how there seem to have been geographical disturbances near all thirty AAA ballparks.
With this piece of information in mind, Iron Man decides it would be a good idea to contact Randy Mobley and Branch Rickey III, the commissioners of the International League and Pacific Coast League. It is awesome to imagine how Robert Downey Jr. would deliver these lines of dialogue:
Sadly for anybody hoping for a cameo by the AAA executives, the call is intercepted by a incoming call from…. THE MOLE MAN!
Yes, The Mole Man. The nearly-blind dweller of Earth’s subterranean depths, oldest foe of the Fantastic Four, and, uh, probably one of the few supervillains I can honestly say I probably could take in a one-on-one fight. You see, the Mole Man’s power does not come from himself, but from the fact he is in charge of a legion of mole people and various large monsters. But don’t mind all of that, pay attention to how he is threatening every AAA stadium for his revenge. Yeah, well, joke is on him. Half the AAA stadiums will be empty anyway, and surely it won’t take too much to just cancel the games in the rest of them to keep people out of harm’s way!
Right? Wait, you’re saying that all of the games are going to go on as planned and somehow every single one of the 30 AAA stadiums will have a packed house for a day game and the only thing the heroes will do is call up all of the other heroes and dispatch them around the country? That’s both impossible AND a bad plan!
So, the next day, Peter Parker and Bruce Banner are coincidentally at Memphis’ ballpark. In a nod to the 2007 comic, Peter tells Bruce not to Hulk-out like at the All-Star Game. He quickly changes his mind, though, when the Mole Man’s forces attack, leading to this exchange, which is sort of similar to the classic “I’m always angry” scene from the Avengers movie:
We then see that similar scenes are happening throughout the country, with Iron Man following it all thanks to the “same technology that allows fans to watch Triple-A games on-line using streaming video.” There is then a very cool two-page splash where we see the fights in all 30 AAA stadiums.
Sadly, my scanner isn’t big enough to put up the whole thing, and to put it up in two parts wouldn’t do it justice, but here are some highlights:
The Sentry (I think) protecting Nashville’s stadium- complete with guitar scoreboard)
Thor fighting a giant Satan-guy in Oklahoma City
Doctor Strange defending Durham, which seems to have a cat instead of a bull in the outfield
Wolverine getting stabby in Syracuse
Cajun mutants Rouge and Gambit defending New Orleans
And, my personal favorite panel: Storm and the Black Panther defending my hometown of Rochester, NY. Props to Mario Gully for the rather excellent depiction of Frontier Field, complete with Kodak Tower in the background:
The monsters soon are retreating, leading Iron Man to wonder what Mister Fantastic did. What he did was lead the Fantastic Four into the Mole Man’s lair! There, they find him giving a monologue to his Moloid minions:
The Fantastic Four demands to know why the heck he is doing it, so he proceeds to explain it to them. It turns out that it’s all because they wouldn’t let him create a expansion team for Monster Island (presumably it’s the AAA affiliate of the Isle of Dr. Moreau). He had uniforms ready and everything!
So, how do the FF stop his fiendish scheme? Why, by using the power of love, of course! Okay, fine, it’s the beauty of AAA baseball that saves the day! Reed tells Mole Man that you don’t need to be part of a team to enjoy the fun of AAA baseball, and even offers to show Mole Man why!
When told this… the Mole Man has a tear go down his cheek…
So, how do the heroes prove to Mole Man the greatness and power of AAA ball? By bringing him to the Bricktown Showdown, of course!
What’s the Bricktown Showdown, you say? Well, for a few years, AAA Baseball had a single winner-take-all baseball game in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Ballpark. It never really got much traction long-term, and now the AAA Championship game is rotated around. For the years where it was in Oklahoma City, though, it was called the Bricktown Showdown. And the Mole Man sure seemed to enjoy it, as you can see to the right.
And that’s how it ends. Well, sort of.
You see, Tony Stark, who is also at the game, mentions how Dave Rosenfield (longtime operator of the Norfolk Tides) has found a great up-and-coming hitter. You can probably guess who that hitter is. Hint: He’s green.
HULK SMASH LITTLE WHITE BALL… THEN BASEBALL MAN PAYS HULK IN HOT DOGS!
(Oh, and watch the Bricktown Showdown, September 16th on ESPN2)
Sadly, this would be the last Triple-A Baseball Heroes, as to the best of my knowledge there haven’t been any giveaway issues since. A great shame, really, as superhero days continue to be a common occurrence at many AAA stadiums and these comic books provided some good, cheesy, fun.
And, what’s more, it deprived us of some great storylines. Yes, I, using the power of IMAGINATION, have looked into an alternate universe, where I have learned of the plots of the 2009-2013 editions of Triple-A Baseball Heroes that might have been!
In 2009, we missed out on Iron Man and Wolverine protecting eternal quadruple-A superstar Mike Hessman from the clutches of the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes. And, no, I’m not making the Red Ghost up. It ended when the Red Ghost was shown how AAA Baseball can bring families together.
In 2010, we missed out on the shocking tale of how Turner D. Century (again, not making this up) tried to destroy the IL and PCL in an attempt to resurrect the old American Association, only to be defeated when he was convinced to watch the AAA All-Star Game in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
In 2011, we missed an epic team-up between Thor, Captain America, ageless catcher Corky Miller, and then-Twins farmhand Anthony Slama, as they joined forces to defeat Loki, who was planning on replacing every baseball in AAA with a livelier ball, hoping to tap the energy of the additional home runs to fuel an ancient Asgardian super-weapon. It ends with the great love and hope brought about by AAA Baseball overpowering Loki’s weapon, causing it to explode.
In 2012, we missed out on the Avengers fighting Thanos, who had declared a vendetta against AAA baseball because he missed getting a commemorative bobblehead a few years ago. Thanos is convinced to stop his attack when he finds out that AAA baseball teams have lots of promotions and hand-outs, so if you miss one, there are often plenty more to look forward to!
And, this year, in 2013, we would have seen the Red Skull try to go back in time to stop former AAA stars from becoming MLB stars, in an attempt to deprive America of it’s pastime. When he is stopped, he is told that the great history and tradition of AAA baseball is so great that it could never die, no matter what he might have tried to do.
Sadly, we never saw those, because the 2008 version of Triple-A Baseball Heroes was the last. Still, we can always rest knowing what might have been, and we can always treasure the memories that the two editions of these giveaway comics gave us. Why, it’s almost enough to bring tears to your eyes…
Right, Mole Man?
Next time on Bizarre Baseball Culture, a jaunt to the DC Universe.
Previous installments of Bizarre Baseball Culture:
Prologue: “Rockets on the Mound” (short story)
1: Captain Marvel teaches baseball to Martians
2: Fantom of the Fair and exploding baseballs
3: Doll Man fights the Baseball Bandits
6: The Little Wise Guys and the Absent-Minded Natural
7. Pokémon: “The Double Trouble Header”
8. Dash Dartwell’s PED use for justice
9. The Shield and the Ballpark Murders
10. 2007′s Triple-A Baseball Heroes
11. 2008’s Triple-A Baseball Heroes (You are here)
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