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After reading the Jose Canseco comic, one in which Canseco’s insanity seeped through the pages, it’s a sad fact that the Jim Abbott one would be a let down. Which is an absolute shame because while Canseco owes at least some portion of his success to his use of performance enhancing drugs, Jim Abbott became a successful Major League pitcher despite being born with only one hand.
So let’s head back to those halcyon times that we call “The Past” and delve in.
The comic opens with Jim Abbott’s father pacing around the hospital waiting room when the doctor comes to tell him that “Mrs Abbott has delivered a healthy baby boy but…” Which is a terrible thing to say as a doctor. It really reminds me of the doctor in Arrested Development:
After the mother and father wail about their son, their finally allowed to see him and they’re gushing.
I was half expecting one of them to say “Of course, he’s missing our right hand,” but that could simply be due to the melodramatic dialogue from the first two pages setting me up for some kind of joke. But don’t you know, in these comics, there are never jokes.
We flash forward a few more years and, with some more overwrought dialogue like “He’s a strong boy. And we’ve been honest with him. We’ve taught him that he can do anything that he want” (emphasis theirs), his parents convince young Jim to get a hook hand. Which naturally leads to this:
a) Didn’t the classmates know Jim the day before when he didn’t have a hook for a hand?
b) “Was it eaten by a monster?” Even by bullying standards that’s weak.
Soon, Jim’s parents talk to him about what sports he’d like to try. They push soccer because, you know, the whole hand thing, but Jim says that he’d like to play baseball. Which leads to one hell of an over-reaction:
“Don’t sass your mother, boy!” in response to “Aww, Mom!” Great parenting.
Focused on baseball, Jim begins practicing by throwing a ball against the wall and making the switch between his glove and arm as fast as possible. Though the art is a little lackluster, the actual moment is pretty damn inspirational. After all, Jim Abbott did have to do this for thousands of hours before he could ever be a ballplayer:
Fortunately for Jim, his lefthand is strong enough that he mows down the Little League competition with ease, throwing a no-hitter his first time out.
He continues on to high school where his defense is good enough that he stops the greatest offensive threat of all: the bunt.
Jim continues on to Michigan and joins up with Team USA for the Pan-American games. It’s a good thing, too, otherwise he would never have received this backhanded compliment from Fidel Castro:
I hope he wrote that down and kept it in a scrapbook.
When the games are done, Abbott joins the Angels camp and, miraculously, makes the Majors after skipping the minors completely:
You know, despite how overwritten this comic was, that’s a pretty amazing feat. A one-handed southpaw hurler that not only became a professional pitcher, but was good enough to skip the minor leagues, posting a 3.92 ERA in 181 innings as a rookie.
The comic ends with Abbott’s trade to New York, ending on a bit of a down note, but that’s something these comics are quite good at. Someone at Revolutionary Comics really should have said, “Hey. Let’s try and find some players that are on their way up, not in a decline or shame spiral.” But, then again, that’s probably why Revolutionary Comics no longer exists.
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