|First appearance||Defective Stories #9, February 7, 1941|
|Created by||Shelton Holls|
|Alter ego||Jimmy Huhmiller|
|Team affiliations||Unaffiliated 1941-1967;
The F.E.D. Five 1967-1968;
Able to enter a state of suspended animation, making him impervious to emotional attacks and entanglements;
A super apathy field, affecting those around him;
A floating couch
Apathy Man (Jimmy Huhmiller) is a fictional comic strip hero created by door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman Shelton Holls in 1941. Holls possessed a meager dream to stop sucking, both dirt from housewives' carpets in tedious demonstrations and in a fundamental sense. Inspired by the second-rate vacuums he was loath to peddle, he conceived The Apathy Man, a hero who barely worked and had no attachments.
Apathy Man was meant to be a counterpoint to the idealistic impossibility of Superman. While Superman was seen as an iconic representation of truth, justice and the American way, these concepts seemed as alien to the real American way of life as a near-perfect Kryptonian orphan wrapped in a swaddling S-cape. Apathy Man was a symbol of the middle-class condition - having long been beaned on the head by bricks falling from a crumbling facade of the American dream, counting lumps more than blessings, they are left with nothing but the vacuum of lukewarm indifference. Behind every cynic, they say, is a disillusioned idealist. Apathy Man is behind both those guys, napping in the corner.
Wherever nobody cares... Apathy Man.
Not Yet Apathy Man in Ambition is the Pits
Jimmy Huhmiller was a go-getting sociology student attending Citydale College. During a field trip to the Citydale Zoo, studying the behavioral differences of the monkey house inhabitants and the people gorging themselves at the food promenade, his life was dramatically altered. Standing on a railing to better view a few humans foraging hot dogs from a food cart, Jimmy was suddenly struck by a large woman's handbag. "How rude," she stated as Jimmy toppled headfirst into a pit.
When he awoke hours later, night had fallen like a drunk - fast and in a puddle of its own piss. Maybe it was Jimmy's piss. Regardless, a sense of dread filled him, or at least his pants. Nope, that was pee again. But rightfully so, because there was no telling what type of beast he could encounter nor anybody to help him out of this awful predicament. Then he heard it. Barely audible, but somewhere close, was a low hum. Focusing his eyes, which had now grown accustomed to the darkness, he made out a distant shape. He inched forward.
In the center of the pit stretched a large heap of matted hair. Matted, moaning hair. He couldn't tell if this was one beast or many, nor if it was suffering pangs of pain or celebrating a rapturous pleasure. He saw no option; he had to investigate. He carefully approached the hair. As he got closer, the outlines of numerous appendages slowly flailed in the moonlight. At last, as he stood above the pile, it was clear what he was witnessing - the hairy throngs of a sloth orgy.
When Jimmy was rescued in the morning, having witnessed hours of the slow, rhythmic humping of sloth sexual congress, he was a changed man. Realizing the horrors of the evening were the fruits of his ambition, Jimmy vowed to live in a state of never doing anything. He quickly discovered how boring and impossible this premise was and amended his vow to only do that which he couldn't avoid. Sex and sleep, mainly. Like those damn sloth.
Apathy Man in The Missing Week
With great apathy comes absolutely no responsibility at all. However, Jimmy figured he might as well put together some sort of costume symbolizing his newfound power. He didn't necessarily care if he had a costume, it was that he didn't care if he didn't not have one. But this internal dialogue of unjustification bored him, so he merely added a domino mask to his blue business suit before curling up on the couch.
A week passed. The stale rankness of Jimmy's apartment drove him to the decision that nothing could be done equally well outside, so he grabbed his hat and stepped into the hallway. There, crowds of people blocked his path. Some were sleeping while others rested back to back. Others stood away from the group, looking coolly detached. One man was pleasuring himself, but barely.
The crowds had come to see why their friends, family, coworkers and associates hadn't left their apartments that week. But while they knocked on doors, the inhabitants didn't care to answer them. Waiting patiently, the visitors were suddenly struck with the same apathy affecting the residents and no longer cared why these people wouldn't leave, nor did they care to leave. It had become a real 'apathyment' building.
If Jimmy had questioned this peculiar event, he would have realized that through whatever life-altering experience he witnessed in that sloth pit, he was now projecting a super apathy field, capable of disabling the empathic systems of all those around him. This made him dangerous. This also made him highly sought by the United States government, who longed to harness the power of not caring for themselves.
Apathy Man in Sleepy Agent Man
The United States government recognized the potential to exploit Apathy Man immediately. A team of field agents were sent to retrieve him, but never returned. The chief swore he heard several bored yawns through the walkie-talkie. A second team were sent to retrieve Apathy Man and the initial team, but they didn't return either. This time the chief clearly heard a chorus of snoring, which melodically infuriated him. Seventeen teams in, the chief finally figured out what was going on and had special apathy-proof helmets engineered for the eighteenth team to wear. This worked and the chief was celebrated as the hero who rescued seventeen teams of men instead of the dimwitted clod who sent seventeen teams of men straight into the heart of lethargy.
Apathy Man refused to get up from the couch, which he had taken to calling "HQ", so the federal agents simply commandeered six Hispanics slumped in the hall to move it to their van. At a top-secret government facility, Apathy Man was instructed that the United States government would compensate him for his couch-lounging activities. Furthermore, through the marvels of American ingenuity, his couch would be given special anti-gravity properties, though this wasn't quite true. It was revealed some time later that the couch didn't float, it was merely in the back of an invisible van. The government had some disturbing photographs of Wonder Woman using her lasso for B&D sessions with a handful of lesser DC sidekicks; when she was made aware of these she graciously offered up her invisible van for their use. She had earned enough from these secret activities as Bondage Woman to upgrade to a jet, anyway.
Apathy Man shrugged, possibly in agreement, and was carried off to the van. A small Asian woman, Miss Snatchdragon, was hired on to chauffeur him to his destinations. Though the van was invisible, she was still hidden by the dashboard.
You Can Call Him Apatsy Man
Swindled by the United States government to believe he was being paid for sleeping on a floating couch, Apathy Man was instead used to quiet any signs of civil disobedience and social unrest. The agency would scour news reports and, at the first sign of a freethinking outbreak, send Apathy Man into inaction. After a collection of simple assignments, from dawdling away the enthusiasm of picket lines to sleeping off the message behind various solidarity brunches, a mission of great importance surfaced.
The year was 1942. Due to wartime sentiments, the government had begun rounding up Japanese-Americans and tossing them all into camps, which confused other Americans, who thought the country took a wrong turn and ended up in Germany. During this period, Apathy Man was carted back and forth across the country three times. This campaign was so successful that many of the internment camps were situated on Native American reservations, to drive the point home that nobody cared about them, either.
At the height of his power, Apathy Man was able to hold back equal rights for women and African-Americans, increase the monetary gap between the working and ruling classes and keep the gays from throwing parades. There was little public concern for important issues, what with everyone busy giving piggyback rides to the status quo. Then, in the mid-sixties, devastation threatened this blissful torpor as hippies were unleashed upon the nation. Apathy alone could not extinguish this revolution. Cue the superteam!
F.E.D. Five Fo Fum
The government assembled a team of five uniquely gifted individuals to stand against the rising wave of discontent and drum circles. The team was labeled the Federal Entropic Division, but the members took to calling themselves the F.E.D. Five. They were led by Agent Lozenge, a man whose interrogation techniques could clear any throat. His right hand man, Yes Man, was killed by Commander No-Can-Do shortly before the team's introductory meeting. He was replaced by OK Woman, whose powers were similar to Yes Man but with the added bonus of tremendous cans on her top shelf. White Noise was able to keep any conversation or interrogation private. This wasn't a superpower - he simply enjoyed shouting racial epithets through a megaphone. The Cancer Kid, named for the astrological sign, possessed large claws, a hard exterior shell and could spit hot butter at his foes. Plus, when extremely agitated, he could give them stomach cancer. Rounding out the team was Apathy Man who, as usual, was paid to sleep.
They were able to infiltrate many hippie dens, with Apathy Man powering down the revolutionary motivation from the van while Agent Lozenge made the dirtbags talk, OK Woman boosted Lozenge's ego with telekinetic flattery and super mammaries, White Noise drowned out any protests with his loud white power and The Cancer Kid clenched them in place and maybe threw a little cancer into the mix. They seemed unstoppable, until the inevitable happened. With the team on a mission, Miss Snatchdragon passed the time giving herself a pedicure in the van. Leaning too far, her anti-apathy helmet dropped to the floor. Nodding off, she slumped onto the steering wheel as her foot, weighted with uncaring slumber, fell hard on the gas pedal. The van careened down an alleyway and, with the back doors unsecured, Apathy Man, couch and all, slid out. When the rest of the team regrouped and tracked down the van and Miss Snatchdragon, Apathy Man was gone.
Apathy Man in Ignorance Vs. Ah, Screw It
With Apathy Man missing in action, the government needed to find a new team anchor. They believed they found that man in Rear Admiral Ignorance, the most uninformed man in uniform. Ignorance, like most people who are painfully unaware, was fond of shouting orders and issuing directives based on a total absence of knowledge. No time for thought, the Admiral was a man of ill-conceived action. In other words, a natural born leader.
Firing the rest of the F.E.D. Five for, as he phrased it, 'instubbordination', Ignorance replaced them with a navy of robotic sailors, the Tin Seamen. This force, numbering in the millions, were merely biding their time until the day when their proud leader, standing tall and hardened before them, would spout his command and send them spewing forth into the world, covering all in a thick layer of chaos. The government had the sudden fear that their Ignorance had gotten too large for them to control. They needed Apathy Man.
Apathy Man in Where Is Apathy Man Now?
He rests inside us all, squatting in our hearts.
Apathy Man in Footnotes
- Shortened to Apathy Man upon writing it down, "The" was added back due to a printing error on the cover of issue #10, The Apathy Man in Corner Leaner, but nobody could be bothered to fix it.
- There were none.
- One of whom, José Cucaracha, figured prominently in his own story arc beginning in issue #151, Apathy Man in Let's Siesta and culminating in issue #170, Apathy Man vs. A Spicy Empanada.
- Issue #217, Apathy Man vs. the FBI's FIB.
- An exception was made for Miss Snatchdragon, as her driving skills were second to none.
- Who, along with his Negative Ray, could-can do.
|Poo Lit Surprise-Winning Article|
This article was chosen as the Best Rewrite in the September-October 2011 Poo Lit Surprise writing competition.