Hostess Supervillains

Hostess Supervillains

(pop culture)
Asinister subculture of malicious marauders and global subjugators once plagued humankind, their twisted taste for evil vulnerable to only one weakness: sugar cravings. No matter their insidious plans, this baleful breed—Battleaxe, Icemaster, Monotony Man, Killer Bee and Son, Professor Sneer, Jet-Set Jessie, the Magpies, the Laughing Gas Bandits, the Mink Marauder, Professor Plutonium, and the Robot Master among their number— could be instantly vanquished at the mere sight of Hostess Twinkies, Cupcakes, or Fruit Pies. From the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, comics' most popular superheroes added “salesman” to their résumés, starring in a series of 148 one-page Hostess advertisements appearing in Marvel and DC comic books (Archie and Harvey Comics also produced their own Hostess ads), written and illustrated in comic-book style by the creative flavors of the day (including Ross Andru, Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Bob Rozakis, Joe Sinnott, Curt Swan, Herb Trimpe, and George Tuska). Directed never to depict the superheroes actually eating the baked goods (spandex shows no mercy after a crime fighter's pastry binge), writers instead used Hostess treats as a delectable deus ex machina to spoil an adversary's appetite for crime. Hostess' yummy baked goods were known to quell riots, and Twinkies conquered the taste buds of the time-displaced Julius Caesar. A nosey reporter ferreting through the Superman suits in Clark Kent's closet found Hostess treats a more appetizing headline, and Captain America discovered that Fruit Pies easily deter green-skinned alien warriors. Several established comic-book supervillains made Hostess appearances, fighting heroes from Batman to Daredevil, among them the Cheetah, Mirror Master, the Trapster, the Abomination and Wendigo (tag-teaming the Hulk), Catman, and the League of Assassins. Aquaman's foes the Manta Men, seen in comics and animation as the mutated henchmen (Manta-Men) of Black Manta, were reconfigured as underwater crooks wearing absurd headgear. The Joker and the Penguin were popular enough to star in their own Hostess ads, and even the wish-providing weapon the Cosmic Cube took a shine to Twinkies. A campy cadre of cookie-cutter criminals was specifically created for the ads, including the Roller Disco Devils, Home Wrecker, Human Computer (“I'm programmed to love this chocolaty cake”), June Jitsu, Photoman, Legal Eagle, Chairman (who turned people into ambulatory chairs), Pigeon Person, Sore Sir's Apprentices, Mad Deserter, the Bureauc-rat, and Dr. Sorcery (with his Philosopher's Stone, perhaps on loan from Diablo or Dr. Alchemy). Other oneshot Hostess supervillains were Torgo the Ultimate Weapon, Impercepto, Goldigger, Flame Thrower, the Corsair of Crime, amphibian-man Slud-Jak, Triclops, Topsy-Turvy Man, the Stony-Eyed Medusa (“I shouldn't have taken my eyes off of you, Flash, but Hostess Fruit Pies are too good to ignore!”), the Beverly Hillbillies–like Ding-a-Ling Family, Cousin Betsy the Plant Lady (and her criminal gang of giant monster plants, including a choking artichoke), and the Godzilla-sized Green Frog. The next time a contemporary superhero is cornered by a frothing serial killer or an omnipotent warlord capable of rearranging the timeline with a belch, he or she would do well to remember the halcyon days of the “Hostess Universe,” where a savory snack could save the day.