Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: The Purple Zombie

In this installment of Golden Age Throwbacks, we are going to take a look at one of the more bizarre superhero characters now in the public domain, The Purple Zombie. Only the first twelve issues of Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics tell the tale of Zoro the Purple Zombie, and almost every issue ends with a cliffhanger to be resolved in the next issue. The stories were written by Tarpe Mills and published by Eastern Color Printing.

The Purple Zombie (who's real name was Zoro) was created by two physician scientists working as a team on an invention to restore life, each with a very different agenda. Dr. Kim Hale benevolently intended to use the results of their experiments to prolong and extend human life while his evil colleague Dr. Malinsky intended to use their invention to create an army of zombies raised from the dead and sell them to the Nazis. When Dr. Hale confronted his partner about the ethics of reanimating the dead, Dr. Malinsky shot Hale and left him for dead. The newly raised Purple Zombie, however, had other intentions along with a free will of his own, and strangled Malinsky to death for what he had done to him. Zoro then went on to hunt down Malinsky's Nazi collaborators and kill them before he was finally captured by the police.

Zoro was found guilty of the murder of Dr. Malinsky and sentenced to die in the electric chair. Amazingly, the electric chair had no effect on Zoro and he survived the execution. Dr. Kim Hale, who miraculously survived Malinsky's attempt to kill him, went to the governor and asked that Zoro be placed in his custody after explaining how the Purple Zombie had done America a great service in stopping the traitorous Malinsky and his Nazi allies. The governor granted the request and Zoro graciously went to live with Dr. Hale.

Zoro the Purple Zombie and his master Dr. Hale went on to fight mobsters and other criminals. Their crime-fighting team grew with the addition of the inventor Chico, a bitter, disfigured inventor who created an army of radio-controlled mechanical skeletons to take over the world but was so impressed with the kindness shown to him by Zoro and Dr. Hale that he joined up with them instead to be a force for good. Zoro lead Chico's radio-controlled skeletons to stop a Nazi invasion force lead by General Otto von Suda, inventor of the death ray. Afterwards, the Purple Zombie and Chico were awarded medals for their valor and service to America.

Another addition to the team was Professor Roy Elton who was trying to build a time machine. After Chico accidentally slipped and fell in Professor Elton's laboratory, Zoro and Dr. Hale were sent back in time and had a series of time-hopping adventures while Elton and Chico desperately tried to bring them back to the present. In the end, Chico gave his life for his friends so that they may return safely. Dr. Hale offered to revive Chico from the dead using the same invention that created the Purple Zombie, but Zoro stopped him with a shocking confession about his true nature - he had never been a reanimated corpse at all but was in fact alive at the time of Hale and Malinsky's initial experiment that transformed him. Zoro had been convicted of a crime he didn't commit and was attempting to escape prison by hiding in the morgue when his body was taken for the experiment. Zoro was cleared of all outstanding charges, and in the final panels of the last issue, he joined the United States Army, and Dr. Hale and Professor Elton headed off to Washington DC to work for the War Department. A happy ending to a very bizarre tale.

THE PURPLE ZOMBIE

Origin: Transformed
Real Name: Zoro
First Appearance: Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics #1 [Eastern Color Printing August 1940] 

Dr. Kim Hale and Zoro, the Purple Zombie
ABILITIES
Prowess  6
Coordination  3
Strength  7
Intellect  2
Awareness  3
Willpower  4

Stamina  11
Determination  2

SPECIALTIES
  • Military
  • Martial Arts Expert (Brawling)
Chico
POWERS
  • Ability Increase (Strength)
  • Immortality
  • Immunity (Electricity)
  • Invulnerability 5
QUALITIES
  • Connections: Dr. Kimberly "Kim" Hale
  • Connections: Chico
  • Connections: Professor Roy Elton
  • Decorated War Hero
Professor Roy Elton
CHALLENGES
  • Social: Giant Purple Monster
  • Enemy: Nazis
  • Enemy: Otto von Suda
Point Total: 53

The Purple Zombie gives Nazi General Otto von Suda a taste of his own death ray!

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
The Purple Zombie was created by Tarpe Mills and first appeared in Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics #1 (August 1940) published by Eastern Color Printing.
The Purple Zombie leads an army of Chico's mechanical skeletons against Otto von Suda and the Nazis

5 comments:

  1. Just a question, Joe: what's Zoro's ability increase level?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Fabrício,

    Ability Increase (in this case Strength) doesn't have a 1-10 rank - you either have it or you don't. Ability Increase provides a +2 bonus to one ability (although you cannot exceed an ability score of 10). You count the raised ability as a power for purposes of calculating starting Determination only if the ability score is increased to 7 or greater like normal. You also don't count Ability Increase towards point build total. I believe that this can be found in the ICONS clarification notes.

    Other powers without ranks include Immortality and Immunity - because you either have them or you don't. If you need to know the level for some reason (like calculating point totals), assume it is 10. This is from the Villainomicon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, I see. I misread Ability Increase for Ability Boost. And I also thought Ability Increase was only used when you were creating a character, not when you're depicting an already existing one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's true - if you are doing point buy, you don't have to include Ability Increase. I included it to emphasize that the Purple Zombie is a Transformed character and the Strength increase came about as part of his creation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. But now I want to see the stories where he tries to make amends with people he hurt in his previous life!

    "Blake Zoro...convicted of murder he didn't commit..."

    Or, given the Intellect of 2, maybe he did commit it and the transformation eliminated that memory and some others...?

    ReplyDelete