Beauology 101: Being Sick, Comic Books Are The RX

Beau Smith. “Come, Give Us A Germ Hug!!”

Beau Smith. “Come, Give Us A Germ Hug!!”

by Beau Smith

I’m sick.

Like most you reading this, I get no pleasure at all out of being sick. It can be anything from as small as an inconvenience such as a cold, or something major as being in a hospital. Bottom of the pill bottle is, I don’t like it.

I’m lucky, as you are too, that my job as a writer doesn’t force me to go into an office with other people and spread my angry germs. The only person that suffers in my case, besides me, is my wife, Beth. I am a complete whining baby when I’m sick. I complain, gripe, moan, and whine some more. I try and scrub down everything I touch so that she has less chance of contracting whatever I have. That way she doesn’t have to take those hobo germs on a ride to her office with many other people; ones that don’t want what I’ve got.

So please note as you read this column, I am sick. I don’t feel good, but on the bright side, you can’t catch my germs from the internet…at least not yet…give Facebook time, they’ll figure out how to make that happen.

Being sick like this does take me back a bit to another time when I was sick.

It was 1966.

I was in the sixth grade and deeply discovered Marvel Comics. I had pretty much left reading most DC Comics because they were looked at by me at that time as “silly” or “old people’s comics”. I had discovered Marvel Comics and they spoke to me.

I had recently bought a few comic books at White Cross Pharmacy located in Huntington, WV. on First Street in this little plaza. They had a great soda fountain and sometimes a pretty good selection of comic books.

Daredevil Issue #15. It Started It All.

Daredevil Issue #15. It Started It All.

One of the comic books I bought was Daredevil #15 And Men Shall Call Him…Ox!” It was written by Stan Lee and had incredible, solid art by John Romita Sr. and inked by Frank Giacola. It was a standalone story, which I always enjoyed.

I don’t recall if I had the flu or just a really bad cold, but there was much complaining and snotty tissues to behold. I do remember that. I was confined to my bed in my bedroom, because that was the way I wanted it when I was sick. Through my haze of sneezing and coughing, I do remember that there was a silver lining. Of the comic books that I had bought just days before, there was still one that I had not read yet, Daredevil #15. So I was stoked to have something new to read in my misery.

The story was really neat. It reminded me of a Twilight Zone story where there was a moral to be learned and some deep character. The Ox, a big, strong enforcer for the lower level Marvel villain set, is in prison and meets this little, weak, but brilliant mad scientist , Karl Stragg. Stragg, really wants to bust out of prison. It’s not a very conducive place for a physical weakling like Stragg, so he makes a deal with his roommate, The Ox. “Help me bust out of prison and I’ll perform an experiment on you that will make you as smart as you are strong.” The Ox agrees. He’s really tired of being dumber than a post. He also figures he’ll be able to finally defeat all the superheroes that have been outwitting him these past couple of years.

Like all mad scientists, Stragg can’t be trusted. Ox busts them out of prison, they head to Stragg’s lab, the experiment is performed and now Stragg’s brain is in the body of The Ox and The Ox’s brain is in the weak body of Stragg. Ya just can’t trust anybody in the world of bad guys.

The New Ox is all full of power and testosterone…as well as smarts and goes on what I call “The Marvel Rampage”. This is what almost all super villains and superheroes go on when they wanna fight any other super powered being within ear shot. It’s the super powered Fight Club call.

The Ox swings and connects!

The Ox swings and connects!

While The New Ox is out busting up the city and telling everyone how powerful he is, he runs into the lovely Karen Page. (New York is a small town.) She recognizes what she believes is the Old Ox. The New Ox, Stragg, sees this as a reason to kidnap Karen and take her back to his lab. About this time, Daredevil swings by and see The New Ox making off with Karen. They fight, The New and improved Ox not only defeats Daredevil, but he dresses Daredevil in a spare Ox outfit that he just happened to have on him. Now the police will think that it was Daredevil that was on the Marvel Rampage, and they do, which leads to them arresting him. (Crime, or mistaken crime, doesn’t pay.)

The New Ox continues his mission of abducting Karen. He takes her back to his lab, where the Old Ox in his new weak body is still stumbling around. Well before the New Ox can assault Karen, The Old Ox knocks him out and helps Karen escape. (He does what a more powerful Daredevil couldn’t do.) The Old Ox and Karen take off, the New Ox recovers and goes on yet another Marvel Rampage. The police see that they were tricked and release Daredevil. Daredevil and the New Ox get into a real slobberknocker of a fight on the top of a building. The experiment has quickly driven Stragg’s mind even crazier. He lunges after Daredevil and falls to his death. The Old Ox, in the weak body, feels his mind become a little smarter and compassionate. He saves Karen and decides to go back to prison and serve out his time.

All of this in a standalone story!!

Now, reading this comic book didn’t cure me of being sick that day, like it did the Old Ox, but I really did enjoy it, and it became THE issue that made Daredevil one of my favorite characters. I started trading and hunting back issues of Daredevil so that I would have the first 14 issues. (That was really hard to do in 1966. I then went on to collect every issue of Daredevil through #300. I thought that was a good place to stop. I hadn’t enjoyed it much since #100 anyway.

So today, in honor of that sick day, I will re-read Daredevil #15 and hope that I will feel just a little bit better. Ya know, I already feel better just sharing this with you.

I hope you don’t catch my germs.

Your sick amigo,

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch


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  1. Joe Tages Says:

    Great story, Beau. I had a similar experience after returning home from a lengthy hospital stay in late 1987. Comic books (Marvel, DC, and the then recently launched Gladstone) got me back on my feet and brought back my joie de vivre. I hope these words find you in far better health as 2017 gets underway. Happy New Year, Compadre.