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Home > Speed Racer > Here He Comes…

Here He Comes…

April 14th, 2008

This is a huge summer for geek-friendly films: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Files, Hellboy II, Get Smart, The Dark Knight, not to mention an animated Star Wars release and the long-awaited return of a certain Mr. Jones.

I expect to see ’em all, but the only one I’m really hyped about?

Speed Racer. No shit.

Understand that among my many geek loves, Speed Racer is one of the earliest, second only to dinosaurs. It was the show that made me want to run home after elementary school.

It was also the show that forever ruined real-life motorsports for me. Who wants to see cars roaring around and around an oval when they could be racing through mountain ranges and active volcanoes? And who cares about a Nascar wipeout when you could witness a wreck like this?

Ain’t no one walking away from that one. And that was in the opening titles.

Unlike later, defanged cartoons in which the bad guys parachuted to safety or were robots who could be killed without icky moral qualms, fiery, human death was a frequent visitor in the world of Speed Racer. So many racers met apparently fatal ends in a typical event that it’s a wonder there were enough professional drivers left to provide competition for Speed and his rivals.

No one was safe. Certainly not the spectators.

I believe that was Clark Kent wetting himself in the front row.

And it wasn’t just the races that were dangerous. Unlike most Formula One drivers, Speed devoted much of his free time to battling international spies, assassins, gangsters and mad scientists. Submachine guns were their weapons of choice, though they weren’t adverse to employing Mizmo Rays or flying, dragon-shaped submarines. Here are a couple of mug shots of the stone cold villains that gave Speed grief.

These guys would bitch-slap the Mystery Machine gang into next week.

As the release of the Speed Racer film approaches (May 9), watch this space for future posts about the original cartoon. I’ll be introducing the cars and their drivers in order to get you up to (er) speed.

Oh, and there will be monkeys.

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