Wednesday 31 July 2013

He's Only One Man!!

Welcome to part 16 of

In which The Mercenary declares his fellow hostage takers "idiots" as they unable to stop The Human Fly, despite him being "Only one man" as this next recreated page shows…

And the unseen narrator adds "The Fly is the embodiment of the hopes of many men!", which brings us neatly to the point under discussion from last week - having established that The Human Fly did in fact get injured during his rocket powered motorcycle stunt, how did The Human Fly react to that?

This week, we get to hear from The Human Fly himself (or at least his representatives) again courtesy of the letters page of the Human Fly comic, this time from Issue 13….

"Dear Marvel,

I have been reading the many letters you have been forwarding to me with great interest.

I am certainly very pleased about the response to the comic series, but more than that, to the positive reaction from all you readers towards The Human Fly.  It makes me very happy, and inspires me a great deal, to see the enthusiasm and support I'm getting from Marvel Fans.

As you may very well know, a short while ago I was injured while attempting to jump 26 buses on a rocket bike in Montreal, Canada.  I found myself once again in a hospital bed, from where I am writing this letter.  This experience in the hospital reminds me of that auto accident many years ago in Ashville, North Carolina.

One would think that this second confinement would discourage me.  Quite the country, if anything, it is giving me more strength to go ahead with my hopes of becoming the world's greatest daredevil.  As you know, I want to help other people less fortunate than myself by donating a good portion of my earnings to world research and to charitable organisations.

My fans probably don't know this, but, as a child I was exposed to a strong musical background.  I have decided that, in addition to my daredevil stunts, I will pursue my musical career (which I stopped somewhat after the accident), I've alway been interested in rock music.  Its eels to me to have the same kind of vitality and uniqueness that I wish to project in my stunts.

May I Just say that soon you'll be hearing from the Human Fly musically.  I'll be going into the recording studio as soon as I am out of the hospital to tape my first album.  I hope that my friends out there, in addition to looking for my stunts and Tv appearances, will keep their eyes and ears open for The Human Fly Rock Show.  I hope to make people happy with my music as well as my daredevil feats.  And, as with my stunts, a good part of any money I earn through my music will be turned over to charitable organisations in whatever cities I perform.

Best regards to everyone.


The first, and most obvious thing to note about this letter is its distinct lack of obvious hyperbole and or show biz talk, whilst still, yes serving in some respect as publicity for what the Human Fly is doing next, the letter is written much more in a matter of fact way and has a degree of apparent integrity and honesty as a consequence…

The next thing is the fly himself does not clarify what his injuries was nor the nature of his actual accident one way or the other, but then he does not appear to blame "mechanical failure" or his own possible lack of expertise as being at fault either, no the accident just happened and thats all

The fly also does not clarify his success or otherwise at doing the stunt

All this leaves us with in terms of determining how much we should pay attention to the letter above is what The Human Fly exactly did following his accident…

Before we move onto that, however, I have to mention issue 11 of The Human Fly comic, take a look at the cover below…

The cover copy says it all, "A true-to-life account of the near-tragedy at Montreal"

So over this week and next, lets delve into selected pages from this issue titled "Silver charity, sudden death"

In the Splash page above , the "rock star" angle is used as framing device to tell the story in flashback sequence, with the singing being a method of expressing the anguish caused…

In this next page above - straight away the comic is implying mechanical failure with the rocket bike as being known and before the fly even starts the stunt, but the fly decides to go ahead anyway… 

Only to crash back wheel down onto a bus with security guards having to pick him out of the tangled metal wreckage

In short these pages are a almost a word for word recreation of the letters page article featured last week, which does not remotely compare to Ky Michealson's actual true life story in which there was no mechanical failure and the fly crashed on the receiving ramp (meaning he actually succeeded in his attempt and did not fail)

That in of of itself is already enough to dispel the cover copy of issue 11

But what happens after the accident in the comic…? Find out NEXT WEEK

Wednesday 24 July 2013

The Human Fly Was Born!

Welcome to part 15 of

In which we conclude the flashback origin of The Human fly, showing his inspiration, to help other people with disabilities and then returning to his precarious position riding on the outside of a Jumbo Jet at speed, a Jet The Human fly intends to board, as this next recreated page shows:-

If you was with me last week, I suggested that The Human Fly's origin was possibly fictional - this is mostly from the point of view that actual proof of the events as described are not readily available - 

Still I was far from the only person who had this point of view, witness part of a letter from Micheal White as printed in the letters page of The Human Fly Comic, issue 5:-

"…was he" (The Human Fly) "really in a car accident as described in your story and in your letters pages?  If you know this for sure, where do you get your information?  If it's widely publicised, then wouldn't the doctors who healed him know who he is? (I don't imagine there are metal-reinforced bone cases everyday!)"

and the response…

"…yes, The Fly was in a car accident, and the incident shown in our books was a recreation of that.  Our sources: The Fly! You tend to believe a guy who's doing as much good - without renumeration - as he is.  As for the docs who put him back together, plus some - the Fly tells us he swore them to secrecy"

On the surface this seems to make sense, its well known that a doctor does not normally share patient information and in fact has a oath not to do such a thing.

But the actual process of the operation and in particular what steps would have to been taken to make sure the Human Fly could still generate red or white blood cells (as any metal limbs would obviously not have had bone marrow, and in case as extreme as what the fly is described as having where most of his skeleton was replaced, this would have been one of many problems, all  of which are lethal), so I would have thought at the very least as Michel White himself implies that there would have been a medical journal article about something like this

And I think we have seen enough doubt in the veracity of The Human Fly as source of information…

But to be fair -again as I said last week - the motorbike crash at Montreal Olympic Stadium was very real and The Human Fly was definitely injured in this, so let's focus on that and see how much the phoenix myth is followed by The Human Fly and use that to help us decide how likely it is The origin of the Fly (and his skeleton being all metal) is true or not…

And once again, let us return to the letters page of The Human Fly comic, issue 8:-

"As we announced on this page on HUMAN FLY 5, the real Human Fly was scheduled to make a rocket-motorcycle jump over 25 buses - a new world's record - at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on October 7th.

Well the Fly made the jump, but only seconds after he blasted off a long ply-board ramp, the motorcycle lost power, the back wheel dropped, and the Fly crashed onto the top of one of the buses only yards away from the receiving ramp"

Now, compare the above to Ky Michaelson's story (as related in earlier instalments) and already there are quite a number of discrepancies

The motorcycle did not loose power nor have any mechanical fault at all, it went off the launch ramp at the wrong angle and stalled, and then "the rear end dropped, nearly arching the bike completely backwards as it hit the receiving ramp hard, before then crashing down on him.", so actually landed on the receiving ramp, not yards away from it..

So The Human Fly actually succeeded in his stunt according to Ky! You would have thought whoever was writing the information being sent to The Human Fly comic would have very much focused on that, but no they Said the Human Fly failed?!

To continue with the story from the letters page:-

"Crashing through the plywood covering, the Human Fly was trapped in a tangle of iron struts, and lay there without moving while security guards thought to free him, fighting back a tearful crowd that had rushed onto the field to get a better view.

Despite the violence of the impact, the stuntmen was still conscious and raised both arms above his head in a salute to the crowd as he was lead away on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance."

while all Ky Michaelson had to say was :-

"He'd survived the crash, and he'd done it-he had broken Evil's record, but not without paying the price. He waved to the crowd as he was carried off on a stretcher, suffering a broken ankle and a couple other injuries."

And it's only Ky, who actually tells us what the injury was

But the point is still, yes The Human fly did in fact injure himself, so the question is now - what did he do next

Does The Human Fly soar to greater nights and thus affirm his origins?

Find out, starting NEXT WEEK!

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Parallel - Part Two

Welcome to part 14 of

In which we continue the examination of The parallels between the Human Fly's origin and Bill Mantlo's real life tragedy as started Last week 

The Human Fly's origin is continued n the words of Bill Mantlo himself (from his essay "The Making of a Hero" as seen earlier on this blog):-

"The determination grew.  He would strain to rise, to move from his bed.  So aggressive did his actions become that doctors were forced to sedate or strap him down out of fear that he would harm himself.  Realising that this was proving counterproductive, he calmed down, lulling his doctors into a sense of security that he at least accepted his irreversible condition...

...while every night, under cover of darkness, the victim of an accident that would have left most others for dead or paralysed for life began to secretly exercise his unresponsive body... until it became responsive, until it became his body again...and perhaps something more than it had been before."

And now from Bill Coffin's Tragic Tale, Bill Mantlo's real life tragedy…

"Both Adam and Corinna visited their father regularly while he was at Gaylord, and they could see that he was becoming ever more angry and distraught at his condition. During one visit, Bill asked Adam and Corinna to kill him. After that, neither could bear to see their father in person again, confining contact to letters and telephone calls.

Three months later, CIGNA declared there was nothing more to do and informed Mike coverage would cease. Mike argued that his brother was still progressively recovering, and that even though some of Gaylord’s therapists refused to work with Bill, the family was assisting with therapy. Mike would visit Gaylord every weekend. Bill’s mother Nancy would sit with him and go through speech therapy. Bill’s father William would visit three times a week to assist with physical therapy.

And the work was paying off. Mike recounts that by November 1992, Bill regained his ability to speak and could sit up in a wheelchair. He was no longer on a ventilator or a feeding tube, and his family could even take him out to dinner. Bill could now read a menu and place his own order, and it could be understood by the wait staff."

And we will now alternate between these two stories to conclude:-

The Human Fly:-

"Four years later, the man sat up in bed, then stood, then walked... to the amazement  of his doctors who had long ago given him up for lost."

Bill Mantlo:-

"Bill arrived at Meadowbrook in 1994. Mike describes it as a “very small, very intense” rehabilitation center where Bill made progress in both speech and vocational therapy during the first few months. Bill recovered to the point where he was able to type at a computer and maintain his concentration long enough to begin writing once more. He started keeping a journal in which he recorded random creative thoughts as well as some personal reflections. During one therapy session, he even produced a two-paragraph short story for one of his doctors about an invasion from Mars."

Bill Mantlo remains at Queens-Nassau this very day, he never fully recovered.

Here is the entire  comic page as recreated by my hand:-

To my mind, and I hope this is the right thing to say - the depiction of The Human Fly's origin in a way represented everything that Bill Mantlo believes in, and believes in strongly, that hope was always found in inspiration and it was down the individual to provide that inspiration by setting an example by being a hero themselves, by believing in themselves and their strength of will and becoming something larger than life in the cause of inspiring as many people as possible, Bill becoming a lawyer for the underprivileged underlines this

Bill Mantlo wants more than anything else to have been in the incredibly lucky position that The Human Fly is shown in, where he gets out of the hospital bed and goes on to be something more, it is the strength of Bills beliefs and conviction that keep him going but also made it so difficult for him just after the accident.

Bill Mantlo is still the same person inside, but he is trapped inside a body that no longer can respond and one can only guess at the frustration he feels

Yet in many ways his story is richer and more meaningful than the Human Fly's ever was, and not just because it happens to be the truth, but more because Bill is completely identifiable as a complete human being, the tragedy is his accident could have happened to anyone, not just some flamboyant risk taker

Bill Mantlo needs a hero, and he has a real life one in the shape of his family, in particular his brother Mike, who help him make the best of his life.

The Human Fly's origin may well be fiction, but one thing is for sure his motorbike crash at Montreal Olympic Stadium was very real and so was his reaction to that event and this is exactly where I will pick up from Next week!

If any of you wanted to help Bill Mantlo, please go to Greg Pak's site here  Where you can donate via paypal

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Parallel - Part One

Welcome to part 13 of

In which we see the Human Fly hanging onto the wing of a jet for dear life…

This week I start on a rather unique journey where the two ongoing threads that have been winding through my recreation of The Human Fly, that of the story of The Human Fly and the real life events of Bill Mantlo, the writer of The Human Fly comic finally come together.

The parallels between the Human Fly's origin and Bill Mantlo's real life tragedy are impossible to ignore and it makes perfect sense that the comic book depiction of The Human Fly's origin should be depicted in contrast to Bill Mantlo's real life events and here we will finally start to see why…

Let's Start with The Human Fly's origin in the words of Bill Mantlo himself (from his essay "The Making of a Hero" as seen earlier on this blog)

"It began some six years ago in a head-on car crash on a lonely road near Ashville, North Carolina.  A young man driving the first car was seriously injured.  His wife and children were killed instantly and he, on being rushed to hospital, hung for days between life and death... fighting inwardly to survive, summoning all his will in a fierce desire to live"

And now from Bill Coffins Tragic Tale , Bill Mantlo's real life tragedy…

"On Friday, July 17, 1992, Bill left work early for the weekend, and made his usual three-mile rollerblade journey through Brooklyn traffic to his apartment near Morningside Park. Just four blocks from home, a car came around a corner and hit Bill. The left side of Bill’s head impacted the windshield. He rolled across the hood of the car, and the right side of his head impacted the pavement. The driver never stopped and was never identified.

The accident jostled Bill’s head so violently that his brain squashed against the inside of his skull, and his brain stem severed. This did not paralyze him, but it would make it very difficult for Bill’s body—particularly his extremities—to accurately receive and process electrical messages from his brain."

And we will now alternate between these two stories to continue

The Human Fly:-

"Two Weeks later, this man, broken in body, was taken off the critical list.  It was said that he would remain a cripple for the rest of his life."

Bill Mantlo:-

"Bill spent the next two weeks in a coma at Saint Luke’s hospital in midtown Manhattan, after which he remained in critical care for another two months. During this time, he was still on a ventilator and a feeding tube, as his brain was too damaged to tell his body how to swallow or breathe."

The Human Fly:-

"In the months and years to come, this young man underwent countless operations, financed by the father of the driver of the second car.  These operations replaced a substantial amount of the skeletal frame with steel, seeking to supplant scientifically what the body itself was no longer capable of recreating.  Doctors still remained skeptical of his chances of ever walking again, though he had regained some power of movement. For this young man, such an existence was a living hell.  It was more than he could accept... and he was determined to prove his doctors wrong - or die trying."

Bill Mantlo:-

"Bill’s memory was shattered by the accident, though he was aware of what had happened to him, and he had a sense of how grievously he had been injured. Throughout his early rehabilitation, Mike says, Bill was consumed with rage, both at the state of his own health, and that whoever had hit him had successfully fled the scene. This made him combative during rehabilitative therapy sessions. He was still quite fit and strong enough to resist therapists physically, which became a problem and prevented Bill from making much progress."

Here is the page of the comic recreated in its entirety:-

Rather than to try and just tell you my own thoughts on this I think it is best for you the reader to draw your own Parallels and conclusions about these two stories which will conclude Next Week, join me then!

Next Week: Parallels concludes

Wednesday 3 July 2013

I'm Being Swept From The Jet!

Welcome to part 12 of

In which after The Mercenary shoots a gun through the fuselage of a jumbo jet, the blast is somehow enough to sweep The Human Fly from the jet in this next physics defying recreated page:-

Now we conclude with the final part of "The Rocketman" aka Ky Michaelson's story of his experience building a rocket powered motorbike for the Human Fly , a story which appears in full on his own website

Last time The Human Fly did indeed fly on top of a rocket powered motorbike, but it was not a case of happy landings as:-

"The rear end dropped, nearly arching the bike completely backwards as it hit the receiving ramp hard, before then crashing down on him."

Over to Ky for the rest of this:-

"My heart just pounded as I stood there, witnessing the crash of all crash landings right before my eyes, and a hush fell over the crowd, as we all feared the worst. It looked like nobody could have possibly survived such a crash landing. We were soon relieved though when we realized he was actually okay. He'd survived the crash, and he'd done it-he had broken Evil's record, but not without paying the price. He waved to the crowd as he was carried off on a stretcher, suffering a broken ankle and a couple other injuries. *Now, if you ever want to hear more details about this story, just buy me a Diet Coke the next time you see me, and I'll be happy to share one of the most bizarre events of my life with you.

That jump, and my rocket bike, went down in the history books and then, as things work out, I lost track of both the Human Fly and the bike. I'm happy to say, however, that this story has a rather unique ending. Even though I had long since gotten over owning that fine machine, I received a call not long ago from a stuntman friend of mine, Bubba, a renowned and darn good motorcycle jumper himself, with some astonishing news. He told me he had picked up a "Trading Times" magazine while he was in Florida, and was dumbfounded when he spotted a motorcycle in it that he could have sworn was my original rocket bike. He gave me the phone number, and I immediately contacted John Werner, the owner, who attested and confirmed that it was in fact the bike used in that incredible stunt. I told him to name his price; I wanted it back, and BADLY, so he agreed to sell it back to me for $6,500. I sent a good friend of mine down to pick it up, and am pleased and proud to say it is now resting back in my rocket shop where I built it some 23 years ago. They had it rebuilt after the crash, and it looks good as new, in great shape.The only thing they changed was to ad a gas tank. I find myself just staring at it frequently, and reminiscing back to that history-making event quite often. I'm happy to say that if you ever hear of anybody looking for a bike that can jump 27 buses? I've got just the thing, but there's one condition! They need to see a psychiatrist first."

Hopefully you will have noticed that as Ky's story progressed the stakes seemed to get higher and higher, The Human Fly wanted the stunt to be even more dangerous (more buses) until he was told otherwise (by Ky), The Human Fly didn't practice the stunt at all (despite saying he practised on TV), the team putting together the ramp made fatal errors (despite being described as professionals, again on TV) which was fixed only at the eleventh hour (at the insistence of Ky) - only to have The Human Fly still suffer from a horrific crash

It is kind of telling that this was the last stunt that The Human Fly is known to have performed for which it can be proven that it did actually happen, and that The Human Fly did kind of disappeared after this

But our story is not done yet - we have in fact reached the pivotal point in of this journey through the Human Fly's story and indeed Bill Mantlo's…

Speaking of which…

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!:-

"It was also at this time, however, that his marriage fell apart. Mantlo had married Karen Pocock years before when they were both working at Marvel (Pocock was a letterer). Pocock had a young son, Adam, from a previous marriage whom Mantlo accepted and raised as his own. In 1981, the couple had a daughter, Corinna. And when Bill entered law school, Karen left her own career as a photographer to become a teacher; their calling to help people had been a joint life change. But by 1988, he and Karen were bitterly divorcing. The experience was hard on both children. Adam, 21 years old and an accomplished bicycle mechanic, stayed far from home to distance himself from the emotional carnage. Corinna was only seven and stayed with her mother, but the stress of the divorce also had a long-lasting effect on her. To this day, she does not readily share details about it. Regardless, Bill, Adam and Corinna still saw each other regularly and maintained a close relationship. Both Adam and Corinna describe Bill as a great father.

Throughout his time at Marvel and at Legal Aid, Bill was an avid runner, biker and rollerblader, keeping himself in excellent shape. A favorite activity was to take Adam and Corinna dirt biking in Central Park. Bill always wore a helmet, and insisted that his kids did likewise. But when rollerblading, Mantlo did not wear any head protection, like many other early rollerbladers. It was an oversight that would destroy his life."

Those of you who have been reading these two stories week after week, may have wondered at which point was they going to tie together, when would fact be Paralleled with fiction and which would be fact and which would be fiction?

Over the next two weeks, the true and real life story of Bill Mantlo the true tragedy will be paralleled with the possibly fictitious origin of The Human Fly as written into issue 1 of The Human Fly by Bill Mantlo himself

Join me NEXT WEEK for Parallel!