Identity/Class: Human cyborg
Affiliations: Caspar Milquetoast: Dogtag
Dave Donovan: Polly
Unknown (1968): U.S. Junior, G.O.O.D.G.U.Y.S.
Enemies: Caspar Milquetoast: Heinrich
Dave Donovan: Ivan
Unknown (1968): B.A.D.G.U.Y.S.
Brett Kowaski: U.S. Government
Known Relatives: Unknown (1986): Amelia (wife)
Aliases: Unknown (1986): Caspar Milquetoast
Base of Operations: U.S.
First Appearance: Big Bang #8 (Image)
Powers/Abilities: Mr U.S. has bionic arms, a bionic leg, and, depending on which incarnation, various bionic eyes, ears, radio recievers / computers in his head.
History: Mr U.S. is a patriotic Red, White and Blue garbed hero, whose career spans six decades. However, he has more than one origin . . . . . .
1943 “Birth of a Legend”
Forlorn 4F reject Caspar Milquetoast is desperate to serve his country. When he is approached by two scientists looking for a subject for the U.S. governments “Project Nazi Stopper”, he eagerly volunteers. He is rebuilt into a cyborg with “super-strength mechanical arms, one leg, and a super-radio built into your head!” Plus “stainless steel arches in your feet!” . No sooner has he been given his costume, than the plans for his cybernetics are stolen by lab assistant, Henry, who is really Nazi spy Heinrich. In his first mission, Mr U.S. retrieves the stolen plans from the Nazi hideout, aided by a stray dog he names “Dogtag” which he adopts as his sidekick.
1963 “A Hero Bestowed”
18 year old Dave Donovan is in hospital, waiting to have his tonsils removed. As his girlfriend Polly visits him, a clumsy nurse changes Dave’s life forever by dropping her clipboard and mixing up the operating schedules. Upon leaving hospital, Dave is amazed when two panicky surgeons break the bad news that is is the accidental subject of “Project Patriot”, something that was only discovered when other surgeons tried to remove the non-existent tonsils from a GI. Dave now has “ultra-strong mechanical arms, a leg, a transistorised headset and titanium arches”. Re-admitted to hospital, Dave’s has his trousers stolen by lab assistant Evan, who is really Communist spy Ivan. (The trousers contain Dave’s wallet, with his address. The plan is to kidnap Dave later for examination).
Donning the Mr U.S. costume in lieu of his own clothes, Dave discovers (with the aid of his transistorised hearing) a Communist hideout. Realising that it is now his patriotic duty to be Mr U.S., he captures the spies, retrieving his trouser in the process. After telling the authorities of his decision to remain as Mr U.S., Dave realises too late that he has missed his date with Polly.
Mr U.S. and his sidekick, U.S. Junior are agents for the government organisation G.O.O.D.G.U.Y.S. They are captured by an agent of B.A.D.G.U.Y.S who holds Mr U.S. prisoner with a magnetic wall. Responding to the villain’s taunts that he should never have allowed the government to fill him with robotic parts, Mr U.S. explains (without ever mentioning his real name) that “I made them do it!”. While in hospital, he had wanted to do something to serve his country. Overhearing two doctors carelessly talking about the Mr U.S. project, he tripped up the nurse carrying the operating schedules and hastily rearranged them so that he would be the test subject. He received the prosthetics intended for the volunteer, Colonel Adam, namely: “robot arms, thigh, two way infra-red eye and ears and titanium foot arches”. The authorities realised the switch too late, but were impressed by his resourcefulness and patriotism. allowing him to become Mr U.S.. Concluding his story Mr U.S. easily escapes the magnetic trap, because “Magnets don’t attract titanium!”.
1973 “By Any Other Name”
In his civilian identity of Brett Kowaski, Mr U.S. is cruising the highways of America on his motorcycle. He relates his origin to his black buddy. A typical long haired hippy, the orphaned Kowaski had evaded the draft, due to his flat feet. Hospitalised after being beaten up at a peaceful “Ban the Bomb” rally, Brett is horrified to discover that he has become the subject of “Project Perfect Patriot”. He is now a cyborg, complete with “platinum insteps”.
He is unwilling to co-operate at first, until the military reveal that under “secret executive order 37” he can be “terminated with extreme prejudice”. Reluctantly then, he becomes Mr U.S. and at first he is happy to capture criminals, save lives and thwart alien invasions. He finally goes AWOL however, after a raid he is ordered to perform turns out to be on a peaceful, law-abiding anti-war organisation. With his life in jeopardy, he goes on the run, in an attempt to “find America”.
Caspar Milquetoast is now a middle aged man, happily married to his beloved Amelia. As Mr U.S. however, he is reduced to being both a participant and the subject of a trivia question about his “teflon arches” on the “Hollywood Squares” TV show. He hides a dark secret from the world, including his wife. Some 12 years earlier an investigative reporter had told him that he wasn’t really human. In WW II, the U.S. army were trying to develop a lifelike, sentient robot soldier. When the funding ran out, they grafted the computer brain and other completed mechanical parts onto a fresh corpse. Thus “Caspar Milquetoast” was nothing but a false identity created in 1943.
The 1990’s “U.S.”
U.S. is a “butt kicking machine”, with big cyborg muscles and really big staple guns. He either crushes his opponents under his “advantagium arches”, or staples them to the wall (with really big staples). When ever he is asked about his origin, he replies “I don’t know. A butt kicking machine doesn’t need to know its origin, it just kicks butt”.
Comments: Thanks to Chris Adams for information and images. Chris notes “Mr U.S. is not your typical Big Bang character, being more of a satire than a homage. Like the Shadow Lady, the character was created quite independently of Big Bang. The intention was to publish a special one-shot, stand alone story, with a choice of six multiple covers. When this plan fell through, the completed strip found a home in the pages of BB #8 (Image series), taking over the entire issue.
Mr U.S. is an affectionate and well produced parody of popular trends in comic book history. The artwork and the writing are both spot-on. 1943 is done in the style of Simon and Kirby, while 1963 is done in the style of a Lee and Kirby Marvel comic. 1968 is a combination of the Batman, Blackhawk and T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents comics that tried to capture the feel of 1960’s super hero and secret agent TV shows.
1973 melds elements of Captain America’s “Nomad” identity and new partner, the Falcon, with Green Lanterns “search for America” and new buddy, John Stewart. 1986 is in the style of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, (this segment explaining neatly why Mr U.S. had only ONE mechanical leg) while the 1990’s are done in the style of just about any Rob Liefield title published by Image (it was good of them to publish it).
Mr U.S. is both full of in-jokes for the long-time comic fan and a useful crash course for anyone interested in the history of American super hero comics. The character himself is inspired not only by Captain America, but also by the original Shield (the first patriotic super hero), The Fighting American (whom he resembles), and DC’s Commandeer Steel and his grandson, the original Steel.
It is unclear whether Mr U.S. exists on Earth A, Earth B or both. He has made only two other appearances outside of BB #8. The first was a single panel in the “missing chapter” of the “Timebomber” storyline (when just about every BB hero turned up to fight the Time Being). The second was on the back cover of the Ultiman special published in 2001, spoofing the notorious Hostess Fruit Pie adverts.”