Amazing Fantasy #15: Review

Jan 2006
Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa

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Story Name:

Mastermind Excello

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Amazing Fantasy #15 Review by (December 28, 2020)

Mastermind Excello: A quirky tale that never goes where we would expect introduced the comics world to the supergenius Amadeus Cho; here he’s just on the run from mysterious good guys and mysterious bad guys, with a brief cameo by the Hulk. I would not have picked him as the one successful hero from this issue so it’s good that Greg Pak took the time to develop him

Blackjack: The most entertaining series in the book is a parody of a SHIELD-type organization with a pair of sharp agents taking on all dangers. This could work as an ongoing series though part of the charm lies in the brevity of the adventures.

Great Video: Oddest tale in the book looks sort of like a horror comic and would fit more comfortably in DC's Young Animal imprint (‘cause it looks “edgy”). Didn’t quite know what to make of it.

Monstro: The most successful character, after Amadeus Cho, is this big guy who broods; later, it will be revealed that when he first gained his powers, he accidentally killed his wife and daughter and is now on the run from the law. The boxlike art suits this very solid character well, but I don’t see his appeal: we’re almost swimming in brooding heroes.

Heartbreak Kid: Throwback tale, complete with phony Ben Day dots, is the saddest and most moving of the stories, centering on a familiar character whose pain is still raw and a new person, whose gift doesn’t always have the results he intends. 

Positron: Sad and haunting, presumably this would have involved Pos on the run from her dad, possibly with the help of Jackson. Don’t know how long they could have sustained such a derivative story but it looks like no one cared.  

So, who was that guy on the cover of AMAZING FANTASY #15 back in 1963? Only the rankest fanboy would care! And Dan Slott is one of us, in an amusing little episode from Spidey’s untold tales.

Comments: Cover is a homage to the first AMAZING FANTASY #15. First appearance of Amadeus Cho/Mastermind Excello. First appearance of Blackjack, which returns in MIGHTY AVENGERS #24 and #35-36; the acronym for their organization G.R.A.M.P.A. changes meaning each time. First and only appearance of the Great Video. The film Paul (the Great Video) asks for is a real one, though actually titled X: THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES. First appearance of Monstro who will return in IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN #7-10 and WORLD WAR HULK AFTERSMASH: DAMAGE CONTROL #1-3 and a couple of CIVIL WAR titles. Heartbreak Kid was introduced in DEFENDERS #140; this is his second and final appearance (as of 2020). First and only appearance of Positron.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Fantasy #15 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Amadeus Cho wins the title of Mastermind Excello in an internet game show; that night his house is blown up and his parents killed. Despite the pleas of Agent Sexton, Amadeus doesn’t trust anyone and goes on the run with his coyote pup Kirby, adopted when its mother was killed by a car. At a diner, he is spotted by Bruce Banner who warns him to be careful; when Kirby is spotted, there is concern over a rabies outbreak and a police officer intervenes. Amadeus uses his intellect to quickly puzzle out how to avoid capture and escape. An enemy helicopter fires on him and Hulk arrives to punch the missile away before leaving; Amadeus calls Agent Sexton to tell her he’s coming for them…. 

“Blackjack: Heavy on Action, Light on Plot”
Writer: Dan Slott. Art: Pete Woods. Colors: Brad Anderson. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: Blackjack team Ace and One-Eyed Jacquie, working for G.R.A.M.P.A., are on the run from every vampire in London. Surrounded, Ace presses a button that moves a satellite, reflecting sunlight from the other side of the world, killing the vampires.

“The Man with X-Ray Eyes”
Writer: Daniel Way. Art: Nick Dragotta. Colors: Leigh Loughridge. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: Paul Vance sets fire to his video store in an insurance scam but he is caught in the blaze and severely burned. Two police detectives visit him in the hospital but he sees them as living skeletons then a heat beam comes from his eyes burning the two men to a crisp. He escapes from the hospital and hijacks a man’s motorcycle to get home, only to find it bare of all furnishings. He calls his wife Janie only to find she has left him for another man and taken everything except the video camera. Later he straps the camera to his helmet and visits his rival video store to make threats—but they are busy so he just asks for the Roger Corman movie THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES.

“Blackjack: The Winning Hand”
Writer: Dan Slott. Art: Pete Woods. Colors: Brad Anderson. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: A giant alien has invaded Earth and is destroying the city. Blackjack team Ace and One-Eyed Jacquie wield the Ultimate Nullifier to frighten it off the planet. The job done, they put the Nullifier back with the others in the Prop Room, which includes Cosmic Cubes, Infinity Gauntlets, and Holy Grails.

Writer: Robert Kirkman. Pencils: Khary Randolph. Inks: John Stanisci. Colors: Val Staples. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: Firefighter Frank Jackson is nicknamed Monstro for his size and extreme strength; he saves a man from a fire which the man admits to setting in a suicide attempt. Frank turns him over to the police. He shies away from the limelight, because of a dark and secret past involving his family which he broods over and can’t even confess to his best friend John….

“Blackjack: You Say You Want an Evolution?”
Writer: Dan Slott. Art: Pete Woods. Colors: Brad Anderson. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: Eco-terrorist King Sapien has turned the people of Earth into dinosaurs, including Blackjack team Ace and One-Eyed Jacquie; they invade Sapien’s lab and destroy his machine, turning everyone back to normal but also transforming Sapien and his henchmen into apes.

“Heartbreak Kid!”
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Pencils: Jeff Parker. Inks: Sal Buscema. Colors: Lovern Kindzierski. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: Danny Shepard is the Heartbreak Kid, a mutant whose power is being able to detect and absorb other people’s sadness and free them from it. He is drawn to Midtown High by a great amount of grief; passing Flash Thompson, Liz Allen, Harry Osborn, and others, he locates Peter Parker, aching from the loss of his Uncle Ben, and offers to take his sorrow away. Peter is startled, confused, shocked, and appalled by Danny’s offer as it’s all he has left to remember his Uncle Ben and he storms off, unaware he has just learned a lesson not to let that pain go away but also to not let it control his life. Danny moves on….

“Blackjack: Happy Ending”
Writer: Dan Slott. Art: Pete Woods. Colors: Brad Anderson. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: Aliens have arrived on Earth and turned it into a utopia; Blackjack team Ace and One-Eyed Jacquie show up and destroy all of the utopian centers as mankind needs to be discontent to advance. They welcome the boos and jeers of the citizens.

Writer: Sean McKeever. Art: Kristian Donaldson. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: A young couple, Annie and Jackson, have a romantic moment on an Atlanta rooftop—but then her father appears in a spaceship, demanding Annie come home. She reveals to Jackson hat she is made up of positronic energy and her father only wants her to power his weapons. She refuses to go back so, at a signal, Jackson clamps an inhibitor to her neck, as he was hired by her father to do. He hands back the money he was paid as father leaves with daughter.  

“I Was That Guy in Spider-Man’s Armpit!”
Writer: Dan Slott. Pencils: Patrick Scherberger. Inks: Norman Lee. Colors: Matt Nelson. Letters: Dave Lanphear.
Synopsis: A dude named Steve, leaning out of his office window to see Spider-Man, falls; Spidey catches him, deposits him on the ground and, when he realizes Steve didn’t hear him say “Peter Parker,” gives him two free tickets to tonight’s show.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Takeshi Miyazawa
Takeshi Miyazawa
Christina Strain
Pete Woods (Cover Penciler)
Pete Woods (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Dave Lanphear.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner

(Robert Bruce Banner)

(Bruce Banner)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Ace, Blackjack, G.R.A.M.P.A., Heartbreak Kid (Danny Shepard), Liz Allan (Liz Osborn), Monstro (Frank Jackson), One-Eyed Jacquie.

> Amazing Fantasy: Book info and issue index

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