Kool-Aid Man: fruit juice spokespitcher...thirst-quencher to all...freaky wall-breaker...comic book superhero? Yep. Published by Marvel Comics and given away by the truckloads by General Foods, "The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man" had a six-issue run between 1983 and 1989. Used strictly for promotion, the "stories" were terminally juice-centric, with Kool-Aid Man throwing his holy liquid on scores of children and at least a few offbeat villains. When the fourth issue in the loosely connected series fell in my lap (from 1987), I thought I knew what to expect. A couple of two-page epics featuring a bunch of poorly drawn kids drinking Kool-Aid, accompanied by thirty pages worth of Purplesaurus Rex T-shirt ads. How wrong I was!

I have to give 'em credit -- this was an honest attempt. Kool-Aid Man gets two whole excruciatingly long stories, either involving missing keys or surfing contests. The tales are actually entertaining, if only because giant juice pitchers with drawn-on faces holding conversations with kids who constantly slap each other five is inherently entertaining. By the time I noticed that Kool-Aid Man's arch-nemesis left flaming footprints with his initials stamped in 'em wherever he walked, I was sold. I don't know much about what's considered an "epic" in the comic universe, but this has to be one of them.

None of Kool-Aid Man's comics seem to fetch more than a song, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're easy to find. I firmly believe that there's a market for everything, but when it comes to Kool-Aid Man comic books, it's a small one. With that, I've saved you from any despondent hunts and scanned the whole dang thing. If you're wondering how Kool-Aid Man would stand up to Spidey or, uh, the Foolkiller as a superhero, this article's for you. First, let's meet the characters...

The Kool-Aid Man: A living, breathing, walking, breakdancing pitcher of Kool-Aid, our starring hero is all about hanging out with kids and making sure they drink shitloads of juice. In accordance with the commercials, he nails several requisite "Oh YEAHHHs," but don't worry -- they really beefed him up for the comics. Kool-Aid Man speaks with an eloquence you'll surely envy, managing to make such phrases as "I make kids happy by serving Kool-Aid and giving them toys!" sound perfectly pertinent and sensible. We also learn that Kool-Aid Man wears many hats -- he surfs, ride bicycles, leads tours, and even serves as a lifeguard. I mean that literally, too: Kool-Aid Man wears many hats in the comic, and they're all huge and ridiculous.

Scorch: Kool-Aid Man battled several assholes during his comic's six-issue run, but Scorch is probably the deadliest of all. Best described as a midget on fire, Scorch constantly seeks to ruin Kool-Aid Man's fun. In his own words, he hates anything "cool and refreshing." Armed with the powers of heat, fire and blinding light, Scorch still manages to look badass even while wearing those plastic venetian sunglasses popular in six-year-old birthday party loot bags. Scorch is also noted for his assortment of oddball catch-phrases, such as "Roast my Toast!" He's not really out for blood, but when Scorch is around, the good people in Kool-Aid Land should expect to remain parched.

Thirsty Children: While the best lines are reserved for Kool-Aid Man and Scorch, they needed some other characters to play off of. "The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man" is literally swarming with children, of all nationalities, of all colors and creeds, in varying stages of undress. The writers chose to script these teens as prototypically as possible, making them gab like white Ninja Turtles at a Bill & Ted convention. Everything is either "awesome" or "bodacious," or some mutant word that combines the two. They universally love Kool-Aid Man, interpreting his every word as the gospel and occasionally making peculiarly sensual gestures towards their hero. Some of them wear nothing but black thongs.

Okay, here we go -- "The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man," issue four, 1987. I've separated the review into four sections, but you should start with the first one. Chronology is where it's at, oh yeaahhh...

The Mystery of the Missing Key
: Kool-Aid Man befriends some lost, thirsty children in desperate need of help. Together, they journey towards the "Kool-Aid Vault," unaware of the villainous Scorch lurking behind. After the deadly bastard steals the vault's only key, will Kool-Aid Man and the kids be able to retrieve it? And where do "extra large bike bottles" fit into this? Click here to find out!

The Super Surfin' Contest
: Moonlighting as a lifeguard, Kool-Aid Man announces a surfing contest for all of the scantily clad beach dwellers. Things go awry when Scorch arrives, committing every crime imaginable from surfboard-melting to making kids fall asleep while swimming. That devil! With the kids out of commission, it's up to Kool-Aid Man to beat Scorch for the golden Super Surfin' trophy! Surf on in!

Games, Ads and Other Crap
: "The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man" isn't a typical comic book, but it's got the same side dishes. This section includes Kool-Aid inspired games, Kool-Aid Man pinups, and assorted advertisements sprinkled through the pages. Hey, you could get free Go-Bots by drinking Kool-Aid! Go fig! Check out the Kool-Ads!

Super Mega Bonus Section
: Sadly, my two favorite characters from Kool-Aid lore didn't even land cameo roles in the comic book. Oh well -- to compensate, I'm giving 'em their own section. Who could forget "Sharkleberry Fin" and "Purplesaurus Rex," the most monstrous fruit juice mascots of all time. Section includes a look back at the characters, their flavors, and a few commercial downloads. Meet Sharkleberry and Purplesaurus!

- Matt (1/19/03)
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