Featured Columns

February 12, 2010

Unsung Characters of Comicdom: Brute Force

Brute Force is a comic that was published by Marvel Comics about a team of animals with robotic exoskeletons who fight Uzi wielding clown mercenaries, carnivorous mutant plants, and godless mad scientists. If you think this opening statement gives you any idea of how crazy this comic actually is, then you’re greatly mistaken. That said, I would like to welcome you to a special team edition of Unsung Characters of Comicdom featuring, the fearsome and ferocious five-some (say that three times fast) known as Brute Force!

Codenames: Wreckless, Hip-Hop, Surfstreak, Slipstream, and Lionheart
Powers: The animal’s super suits endow them with enhanced intelligence, strength, mobility, and speed. Their armor also increases each creature’s natural predatory instinct, making them formidable foes, even without weapons.
Weapons: In addition to their cybernetic armor, each member of Brute Force is equipped with built-in and/or additional specialty weapons. The arsenal of each animal are as follows:

  • Eagle: Wing mounted missile launchers and eye lasers
  • Bear: Bazooka aka The Bearzooka (although he prefers fisticuffs)
  • Dolphin: High pressure water cannon ( think Super Soaker XP150/ Fireman’s hose)
  • Kangaroo: Laser pistol
  • Lion: None (because when you cross the jungle’s most deadly predator with a T-800, weapons are just overkill)

Vehicles: The team’s suits have a ‘transportation mode’ which allows them to move at accelerated speeds. While the dolphin utilizes wheels mounted on his shoulder and hip joints, the rest of the team use small vehicles that attach to their armor (These vehicles conveniently appear and disappear with no explanation at all. It’s reminiscent of how Optimus Prime’s tractor-trailer would materialize or completely dissipate during transformations in the original cartoon).

Origin: Doctor Randall Peirce was employed by the Environmental Research Department of Multicorp in order to conduct a series of experiments on a variety of captive animals. Dr. Peirce is a loose cannon with a paradoxical nature, who protects Mother Earth by tampering with the very laws of nature. The good doctor developed specialized cybernetic suits for his test subjects. These apparatuses where designed with lasers, ballistic missiles, and other deadly offensive weapons. The intended purpose was to arm the creatures and release them into the wild to defend their natural habitat against human invaders (eat your heart out PETA!). Everything was going as planned. That is, until a gang of armed circus clowns stormed the facility, and stole Uproar, an injured gorilla undergoing rehabilitation by means of mechanical augmentation. Later that day, Dr. Peirce’s son, Ricky, came to visit the lab while munching on a greasy fast food burger. He briefed the boy on the gorilla situation, and Ricky suggested that he suit up the remaining animals to hunt down the vicious primate. After giving it a couple of minutes of ‘deep thought,’ the doctor begins to equip the rest of the animals with their battle armor. Before activating the suits, he notices little Ricky has been chowing down on a Tastee Burger, whose mascot is identical to the clowns that invaded the lab earlier that day (hey, what are the odds?). So, the first animal to get the robo-beast treatment is the kangaroo. Upon becoming self aware, he muses, “k-k ooo. Ihut– isa– isthis is this me? MEMEME!” Apparently not concerned with an obvious glitch in the ‘intelligence’ helmet, he continues suiting up the rest of the animals in his lab, and christens them, Brute Force! Upon dawning the suits, this rag-tag group of misfits were given the following code names: Slipstream aka Soar (an overzealous eagle who immediately proclaims leadership over the group), Lionheart (a cocky lion who quickly dismisses Slipstream’s assertion), Wreckless, (an unusually bitchy bear who talks like cookie monster), Surfstreak (a highly intelligent and emotionally sensitive dolphin who’s all heart and no balls), Hip-Hop (a kooky wise-cracking kangaroo who jams a walkman 24/7 and has a penchant for ending every sentence with the word ‘dude’).

The Tastee Tony Gang

Antagonists: FlexCorp is a subsidiary of Multicorp and the parent company of Tastee Burgers. This shady burger chain has allegedly been using their financial resources to hire armed mercenaries to attack the indigenous tribes of the Amazon Rain Forest. The reason for razing an innumerable amount of ancient trees? To create endless plains of grazing land to fatten cattle for their burger meat. Also, Tastee Burger has an army of heavily armed hoods who dress as the chain’s Mascot, Tastee Tony (a thinly veiled combination of Ronald McDonald and Bozo the Clown). After stealing the gorilla from Peirce’s lab, these killer clowns unleashed him on the tribes of the rain forest. Unlike the members of Brute Force, this Gorilla is incredibly insane and has an unquenchable thirst for blood. He’s also the de facto leader of Heavy Metal, an equally insane group of wildlife with deadlier versions of Brute Force’s cybernetic armor. These doppelganger suits were created with the funds from Multicorp, with the direct oversight of Dr. Pierce’s benefactor and Multicorp CEO, Adam Frost. Heavy Metal’s roster consists of Uproar (a gorilla with Rambo-style duel bandoleers, and a pair of bad-ass, spiked gantlets), Bloodbath (a shark with buzz saws for feet. Badass!), Ramrod (an unarmed rhino with a full-on metallic body suit), Tailgunner (a vulture with a shit-ton of missile launchers mounted on the undercarriage of his huge wingspan), and Armory (an octopus mounted on continuous ‘tank’ tracks armed with twin laser pistols).

During their quest to dismantle Heavy Metal and bring down Adam Frost, the group crosses paths with another evil businessman: Marc Del Mal, a sleazy goateed corporate tool with a god complex. Del Mal’s vision is to create a new ‘industrial society’ that eats, drinks, and breathes pollution spawned by the machines of industry. To accomplish this goal, he has employed a team of mad scientists who have genetically engineered plants and animals that thrive on toxins. His minions also conduct experiments on humans (with a zero percent success rate), in hopes of creating a carbon breathing Adam and Eve. The last phase of his project consists of Del Mal’s team launching a giant rocket full of pollutants into the atmosphere where it will subsequently explode and destroy all but the abominations of his design.

With these guys, even a friendly visit is executed with brute force.

Allies: On a mission to save an oil tanker from Heavy Metal, Brute Force was accused of sabotage and piracy. This misunderstanding made Brute Force fugitives of law and landed Dr. Peirce in jail at the hands of the FBI. During his incarceration, the team took refuge at the home of Charlie Sutton, a friend of Dr. Peirce who’s a contributing member to the Fresh Air Organization (an environmental activist group). During the team’s stay at Sutton’s home in Upstate New York, the chair members of Fresh Air paid a visit to Sutton’s home. Needless to say, they were a little apprehensive about the idea of organic war machines, but Surf Streak eventually won them over with his feminine charm.

With the overt environmentalist themes, this book has a Captain Planet-type vibe to it. In addition, Brute Force’s persona’s remind me of the clearly established and contrasting personalities portrayed by the Ninja Turtles in the comics and cartoons. Considering this book was published in 1990, it’s fair to assume that both properties had a significant influence on the story. Overall, the plot is well paced and solid (although ridiculous on so many levels). The tone of the book is considerably radical, and can be summed up in three statements:

1. Those who participate in logging and deforestation should be attacked by robot/animal hybrids with lasers.
2. Large corporations are an evil and cancerous plague who rape our natural resources and kill those who get in the way.
3. Murderous clowns are the best metaphor for the fast food industry, whose very existence creates waste, kills animals, and destroys your body while distracting you with wonder and delight.

Or maybe it’s just a fun book that I’ve excessively overanalyzed. In which case, I’m the extreme one. If you have the opportunity, I suggest you pick up the Brute Force four-issue mini-series and judge for yourself.

Josh Jones



  1. Wendy

    Radical statements?! I agree completely with all three! Hah!

  2. Wow this seems like a pretty funny comic books. This is what happen when a comic book artist does allot of drugs before he starts working on his comic book.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joshua2005777: Killer clowns + mad scientists + animals in cybernetic super-suits = Ridiculous…but still Badass! https://comicattack.net/2010/02/ucc14/

  4. This is hilarious man. It reminds me of a poor man’s Voltron for some reason.

    And dude, it sounds like Hip-Hop and I would get along just fine!

  5. I remember this title actually. Everyone was on this save the enviroment kick and it seemed like every story that came out was about making the world a better place…hell even GI Joe had eco warriors at that time lol

  6. billy

    OMG this sounds ridiculously funny. Good work JJ.

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