Saturday, October 15, 2011

Unusual Heroes: Mort The Dead Teenager (Marvel, 1993)

Blink and you would have missed this (and believe me, most of us did) 1993 Marvel mini-series featuring a teenager named Mort who is killed while drag-racing and forced to see the world in a new light with the help of Death's son, "Teen Death".

Larry Hama (of G.I. Joe fame) wrote the story as a basis for a movie he envisioned. He also pitched the story to Marvel, who purchased it as a four issue mini-series. The comic failed miserably, and quickly disappeared into obscurity.

In 2003, director Quentin Tarantino is said to have been interested in producing the movie version of "Mort The Dead Teenager" starring Jessica Simpson, who I believe would have played Mort's love interest. The film was said to have been released in the summer of 2004 via Dimension Films, but it never surfaced. The script was likely shelved, and who knows if it will ever come to surface now.

Mort The Dead Teenager #1 tells the origin tale of Mort, a scrawny kid who takes his dad's Studebaker for a joyride one day. He gets challenged by the "cool kid" to race, and when they do so, Mort crashes into a train and dies, falling into limbo and meeting Teen Death, the Grim Reaper's son.

Mort wants to know if he is going to the "good place", but Teen Death informs him that it's "closed for repairs", and sends him back home....only this time he's dead, and watches as his dysfunctional family attends his "no-frills" funeral.

Teen Death begins to teach Mort how to "haunt" people, and when they arrive at his funeral Mort discovers that Kimberley, the hot girl at school, came to pay her respects. Thus begins Mort's quest to haunt the people that used to be in his life, while finding a way to win over Kimberley and searching for a way up to the "good place".

I found the first issue to be a good read. While the art could have been better, it does the story justice and sets everything up well. This series has become a cult classic of sorts and can still be found in the discount bins, as it is unlikely a trade paperback (or the movie) will ever see the light of day.


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