LI'L PROF

Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human technology user (World War II era)

Occupation: Inventor

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Rudy the Robot, local authorities, unnamed socialites;
    possibly Blue Diamond (Elton Morrow), Captain Daring, Citizen V (John Watkins, Sr.), the Fin (Peter Noble), Silver Scorpion (Betty Barstow), the Thunderer (see comments)

Enemies: Dopey Dan, the Groom, the Groom's goons, Maine woods local wildlife

Known Relatives: Unnamed wife, Oswald (nephew)

Aliases: 'Whiskers' (nickname used by the Groom's goons)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed town in the United States

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics I#8 (January, 1942)

Powers/Abilities: The Li'l Prof possessed no known superhuman abilities. A gifted, unconventional inventor, he created a wide variety of devices like an automatic burglary alarm, a powerful indoor sprinkler system and Rudy the Robot, a mechanical man capable of complex tasks like painting houses. Ebullient, quirky and fun loving, the Li'l Prof liked to smoke and drink. The professor was surprisingly agile and nimble for a man his age, stature and bulk.

Height: 4'7" (by approximation)
Weight: 150 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: White (balding)


History:

(Daring Mystery Comics I#8 (fb) - BTS) - The man known as the Li'l Prof had made quite a name for himself with his unconventional inventions. Many of his creations were incorporated in the house he shared with his wife and nephew Oswald. His latest, greatest invention was Rudy a robot with a super-sensitive mech-mind he could control with mental commands sent through a typewriter-style control board he wore around his waist.

(Comedy Comics I#9 (fb) - BTS) - The Prof gained a reputation as a big game hunter, shooting bears and even a moo-deer. He had the heads of his prey stuffed and mounted on the wall of his study.

(Daring Mystery Comics I#8 (fb) - BTS) - News of Rudy's creation reached the criminal known as the Groom who figured he could use the robot to commit crimes. He ordered his men to stake out the professor's mansion.


(Daring Mystery Comics I#8) - The Lil' Prof showed Oswald how he could control Rudy, proving the complex orders he could give the automatic man by ordering him to paint the living room. Oswald had more interest in his water pistol however. Even the Prof's wife had little faith in the enterprise, prompting Rudy to throw a book at her. Furious, she told her husband to move Rudy to the cellar with the rest of the junk while she took young Oswald to the movies. The Prof consoled the upset Rudy, assuring him they'd convince her he was useful.

(Daring Mystery Comics I#8 - BTS) - From a distance, the Groom's men spotted Oswald and his aunt leave the house. Mistaking the young boy for the inventor, they figured the coast was clear to grab Rudy. They went to summon the Groom.

(Daring Mystery Comics I#8) -The Groom and his two goons tripped the burglary alarm, notifying the Li'l Prof of their presence. Taking a break from painting the living room, he climbed on top of the ladder and waited for the intruders. Unshaken by the Groom's threats, the Prof created a diversion by dumping a bucket of paint on them. This allowed Rudy to move in, knocking out one of the goon's by throwing a blowtorch at him. The flammable tool created a fire the Prof decided to douse by activating his super-sprinkler system. During the fight, Rudy went wild but in his frenzy he did knock out the goons. Stumbling around for a bit, the Prof was surprised by the Groom who had gotten his hands on a gun. The Prof wasn't worried, he recognized it as Oswald's water pistol. Rudy showed up with the actual weapon and held the criminals at bay until the police arrived. 


(Comedy Comics I#9) - The Prof was hosting a soiree, proudly showing his friends all the wild animals he'd hunted over the years. Oswald didn't believe his uncle had actually hunted in his life and decided to pull a prank on the guests by putting soap in their cocktails. When his guests got furious and stormed out, the Prof confronted Oswald who bet ten bucks he'd never be able to nab a bear if they went hunting. After properly punishing his nephew for the trick he played, the Prof took him and Rudy hunting in the Maine woods.

(Comedy Comics I#9 - BTS) - Criminal Dopey Dan escaped from prison and decided to hide out in the Maine woods. Breaking into a cabin owned by the Prof, he spotted a bear rug and decided to put it on for warmth. Spotting himself in the mirror, he figured he looked exactly like an actual bear, roaring with laughter that he "shoulda bin in deh moovies!!'. He decided to head upstairs for a well deserved nap.

(Comedy Comics I#9) - On the train to Maine, Rudy looked up from his newspaper and addressed the creator, only for the startled Prof to realized this was yet another trick played by Oswald who was planning on an even bigger caper. He'd secretly packed a bear costume for Rudy to wear and scare his uncle.

(Comedy Comics I#9 - BTS) - The Li'l Prof was well aware of Oswald's plan and decided to indulge him.

(Comedy Comics I#10) - After settling in at their cabin, the Li'l Prof left Rudy and Oswald alone to go out hunting early in the morning. When he encountered a bear, he figured it was Rudy and tried to control him with his mental connection. He quickly learned it was an actual bear and ran for his life. Rushing back to the cabin with the bear in tow, he made it in time only to find Dopey Dan downstairs with a gun in his hand. Quick witted as always, the Prof opened the door and let the approaching bear in. Dan and the bear jumped each other, throwing the Prof out of the house and into a nearby rain barrel.

(Comedy Comics I#9 - BTS) - Oswald had put the bear costume on Rudy and was waiting in the woods for his uncle. When the Prof didn't show, they decided to head back, with Oswald keeping some distance.

(Comedy Comics I#9) - The tussle knocked out both Dan and the bear. By then, Oswald arrived and figured one of the bears was Rudy. The boy tried to revive him, only to discover it was the actual bear. The Prof was still stuck in the barrel and couldn't get to his rifle in time. Luckily, his mental commands ordered Rudy to grab the gun and shoot the animal.

(Comedy Comics I#9 - BTS) - The Prof, Rudy and Oswald delivered Dopey Dan to the local authorities and claimed the reward money.

(Comedy Comics I#9) - Back home on the train, Oswald pulled one final prank on his uncle when he settled the bet by handing over his piggy bank... Only for the Prof to discover there was a mere 5 cents in it.

Comments: Created by Frank Pretsch (writer, pencils, inks)

With only two appearances under his belt, the Li'l Prof remains a fascinating character we got to see far too little of. For one thing, we don't even know his real name! Strictly speaking, he was supposed to be a bit of an adventurer, but his two stories were pretty much played for laughs. Decades later, new audiences discovered him when he appeared in a reprinted ad for Daring Mystery Comics reprinted in 1997's Thunderbolts: Distant Rumblings. There, he was shown next to heroes like Captain Daring, the Fin, Silver Scorpion and the Thunderer, but they were never seen fighting the 3rd Reich.

The ad originally appeared in black & white in Human Torch Comics I#5B. While adverts aren't normally considered proper appearances, there are exceptions, and the format of this advert does lend itself to the possibility that these characters did team up at some point for some unrecorded adventure(s). It would require some time-travel on Captain Daring's part, but that's hardly a problem in the Marvel Universe, and why should the Invaders, Crusaders and Liberty Legion be the only teams of heroes that arose to battle the Axis during the War? If it is a panel from an untold story then we could add to the history above:

(Human Torch Comics I#5B) - Rudy and L'il Prof teamed up with Blue Diamond, Silver Scorpion, the Fin, Captain Daring and the Thunderer to battle the Axis, and later welcomed new member Citizen V to their ranks, with Rudy agreeing with Citizen V's assertion that it was their job to snare the "mad dog" (presumably Hitler) that threatened the world.

--Loki

Given the 1940s timeframe and his already advanced age, it's unlikely the Prof is still around. However, because of the mech-mind connection he shared with Rudy, (part of) his consciousness might have been transferred into the robot. Not unlike Philo Zog and his robot Electro who predate Li'l Prof and Rudy by two years.

Profile by Norvo

CLARIFICATIONS:
  The Li'l Prof has no known connections to



The Prof's wife

The professor's wife was no fan of his inventions, feeling they were more trouble than they were worth. She was particularly displeased by Rudy the Robot, especially when he was ordered to paint the living room. When she expressed her dismay, this upset Rudy so much he threw a book at her. Angered by this, she went out for the night, taking their nephew Oswald to see a movie.

-- Daring Mystery Comics I#8







images: (without ads)
Citizen V ad (main image)
Daring Mystery Comics I#8, p41, pan4 (close up)
Daring Mystery Comics I#8 p39, pan2 (consoles Rudy)
Daring Mystery comics I#8, p38, pan2 (explains Rudy)
Daring Mystery Comics I#8, p38, pan7 (wife)


Appearances:
Daring Mystery Comics I#8 (January, 1942) - Frank Pretsch (writer, pencils, inks), Vincent Fago (editor)
Comedy Comics I#9 (April, 1942)
- Frank Pretsch (writer, pencils, inks), Stan Lee (editor)


First Posted: 07/29/2020
Last Updated: 07/31/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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