Hello, my fellow lovers of the unloved! This week we have a triclopean trifle torn straight from the heart of funnybookdom’s Silver Age.
Meet DR. TAXO!
While “a single-use Ultra the Multi-Alien villain” would have sufficed to justify the Plutonian Plunderer’s inclusion in the gallery of Nobody’s Favorites, it wouldn’t be fair to deprive the bad Doctor of the only face time he’s been able to score since 1965.
Ultra made his debut at the tail end of DC’s cycle of Silver Age space heroes, around the time when straight-up superheroic material was solidifying its ascendency and rival publishers began trying to (imperfectly) emulate the free-wheeling style associated with upstart House of Ideas.
With his patchwork brand of goofiness and cover-driven exercises in hard sell hyperbole, Ultra appeared to be aiming for a pseudo-Marvelian angle. Unfortunately, those affectations were not reflected in his actual adventures, which were more of the same deadpan space-operatic boilerplate DC had been churning out since the early 1950s. Where Bobs Haney and Kanigher indulged in gonzo camp-pop hijinx in Metamorpho and the Metal Men, poor Ultra languished in a state of anarchronistic limbo punctuated with bits of “youthful” slang as envisioned by white, middle-aged suburbanites.
Dr. Taxo, who made his first and sole appearance in Mystery in Space #104, was the exception to that dreary rule. Looking like a Big Daddy Roth redesign of Dr. Sivana, the magenta-skinned and muu-muu rocking menace was a native of Pluto. After inventing a magical mist capable of neutralizing the Multi-Alien’s formidable superpowers, he gathered up a gaggle of goofy galactic gangstas to roll deep into Ultra’s turf in order to bust a cap in the hero’s crime-fighting ass.
They failed miserably, of course, but not from lack of trying on the Doctor’s part.
No hands-off mastermind was Taxo. Dude was hardcore to the max.
Sure, Dr. Taxo wasn’t the most successful space criminal, nor was he the most fashionable, but he represented a proud time in our nation’s history: An era where visionaries looked to the frontier of outer space and imagined it would be menaced by a crude caricature of Sonny Bono, and where a harried freelance artist on a tight deadline would struggle with how to convey both “alien being” and “mad scientist” and find inspirational gold in “dorky glasses with THREE lenses.”
Dr. Taxo might technically qualify as Nobody’s Favorite, but he deserves to be Everybody’s Favorite.
We need to make this happen. Are you with me, fellow sentients?