Saturday, July 6, 2013

Loony Leo

Astro City is an amazing comic that explores superhero tropes in unusual fashions. So, whom I am going talk about? A cartoon lion brought to life by a mad scientist.
In 1946, Professor Borzoi used his "Belief Ray" to harness the audience's belief in the movie's monster to bring it to life in order to kill the Gentlemen (a Captain Marvel stand-in). However, the ray accidentally turned Leo, who was a character in a cartoon shown prior to the movie, into a real being. Leo helped destroyed the machine, but survived since everyone at the event believed in him enough. He became a friend of the Gentlemen and helped him fight a little crime. The studio that made the cartoons, Fago's Funny Features, sued him claiming he was their property. Realizing the bad PR they would get for enslaving a person that saved lives, they gave Leo his freedom and a film contract in exchange for the rights of his cartoons. Leo became the toast of the town until 1954, when his contract expired. He became a host on a kid show called "Loony Leo's Fun-Time Farm". Leo became entangled in scandal when he found a hooker killed by overdosing on drugs she bought with money Leo gave her. While he was found innocent in court, Leo was fired from his job. He wandered aimlessly for years and longed for death. The villain Zzardo convinced Leo to become the villain Myth-Master and claimed killing the Honor Guard (the Astro City version of the JLA) would drain the psychic energy that made Leo up thus killing him. Ultimately, he decided not to kill the Honor Guard at the last minute and turned in Zzardo to the authorities. The company Omniverse Pictures (who bought out Fago's Funny Features) bailed out Leo, because they wanted to show his cartoons and didn't want him to look bad. They gave him a little money so he wouldn't "turn up in the papers ... as a homeless bum" (Leo). After living in a house in Astro City, Leo met entrepreneurs, who convinced him to open a nostalgia restaurant called Loony Leo's. He hosts the restaurant by introducing the piano player and is a part-time owner. He also apparently lives at the restaurant after hours. We last see him agreeing to do some commercials for Toyota.
Powers and Abilities
He is immortal, but can still feel pain if he doesn't eat or is stuck in the cold. However, he never displayed any other powers associated with cartoon physics.
As the Myth-Master, he could bring to life fictional characters by draining away the psychic energy that made him up. However, Leo claimed this wouldn't kill him like Zzardo say it would. Presumably, this process involved the technology in his base since he didn't display this power before or after he had it.
Many of the characters from Astro City are either based on other superheroes or comic characters. Character-wise, Leo is based on Tawky Tawny, an anthropomorphic tiger that helped out Captain Marvel. Design-wise, he was inspired by Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca.
Astro City: Family Album trade paperback

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