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Mascot Week: Volto From Mars 🌭

Mascot Week ends here, the only way it ever could: VOLTO FROM MARS.

Volto From Mars was created in 1944, a rocket age champion of man’s imagination. He fell from the sky in soap, hunting the stars for cereal grains! And I’m not summing anything up; that’s his full origin story. This is how the world met Volto:

Volto’s people travel by exploding bubble, but the kind of exploding you can do next to a kid’s face. Children are best friends with professors, but the kind you go camping with. It’s the kind of bold storytelling that seems sarcastic today. He came from that direction and wants some fucking cereal. But okay, okay, fine. Volto knows you Earth monsters are going to have a few questions. Without being asked, he answers the most pressing one:

“SILENCE WHILE I EXPLAIN! ON MARS WE USE FOOD, AND I NEED THE FOOD FOR EATING! OKAY, WITH THE WEIRD STUFF OUT OF THE WAY, MY PEOPLE ARE ALSO MAGNET– OH, GOOD, YOU WERE ALREADY CARRYING A BOWL OF CEREAL.”

Volto finishes a bowl of Grape-Nuts Flakes, and thanks the Earthlings for recharging his magnetism. It sounds ordinary to you and me, but the professor’s keen intellect picked up on the multiple times this alien screamed about recharging his magnetism with cereal. He asks what the hell that could possibly mean, and we are introduced to the best part about Volto as a superhero: he is a full idiot and makes everything worse.

If you ask him, “What do you mean by magnetism?” he answers, “HOW SHOULD I EXPLAIN THIS? OH, I KNOW, WATCH ME PISS OFF THAT LION.”

I don’t know if this is normal on Mars, but Volto screams ‘VOLTO’ to infuriate wild animals, and Volto screams ‘VOLTO’ to pull children. Grape-Nuts Flakes could have sold cereal with a cute cowboy or a peppy train conductor, but instead they made this. What a perfect mascot. He needs your product to live and his adventures have three simple steps: shove it, yank it, forget it. He’s a magnet, but more like the idea of a magnet. To Volto, danger and cereal are the same word. Not philosophically, but because he is always confused. I love him, and we’re now going to look at every single ad he was ever in.

Volto would go on to have 19 more appearances across four different comic publishers, but the creators didn’t know that. So in his second appearance, they treated it like it might be his last. They raised the stakes to this: all possible things going wrong at once. A little girl is playing on a highway, about to be run over by a truck. An unmanned truck. An unmanned dynamite truck. It’s hopeless. Her only way out would be some kind of star man who attracts children with his right arm. Hold on, wait a minute.

You’ll notice Volto, the weirdest goddamn thing in our solar system, is always worried people will forget about him and his magnetic powers. Speaking of forgetting, the dynamite truck, Volto.

Speaking of forgetting, Volto’s magnetism! Be you truck or girl, remember it! This seems like an ordinary Martian punishing an abandoned dynamite truck with Grape-Nuts magnetism, but I think it’s important in understanding how his powers work. If I remember, Volto can attract and repel any material, but it seems like he must do both, one time each. Otherwise, I think even Volto would have thought to attract the dynamite truck to a stop rather than repel it into a farm and hope for the best. I mean, let’s take the boy’s word for it that this cargo truck of explosives didn’t kill ten cows and a family of thirty-five; this is still a decision you only make if your powers have strict rules. I know we have a lot to remember already, what with Volto’s left arm repelling and Volto’s right arm attracting, but it’s the closest thing Volto has to a weakness.

Speaking of forgetting, I remembered Volto’s other weakness. Once he uses his powers, he needs to recharge with Grape-Nuts Flakes immediately. So, lady, I’m glad you’re enjoying your lesson on Martian biomagnetism, but go get a bowl of cereal. Volto might die. And little girl, there’s no other lesson to take from this incident. Keep enjoying the highway with the energy you get from Grape-Nuts Flakes, the swellest cereal you’ve ever tasted!

There’s nowhere up to go from a DANGER EXPLOSIVES truck rolling into a child, so Grape-Nuts Flakes didn’t try. In his next adventure, Volto from Mars and his friends meet a purse snatcher. Admittedly, he’s pretty goddamn serious about it, but a mugger throwing a knife is the tutorial mission for a magnetic superhero. His lifeless body is being held up like a fish in Volto’s attract hand two panels later:

Like his magnetism, Volto’s confidence in his audience vanishes when he’s hungry. At the start of the comic, Volto’s like, “I’m from space, you get it.” But after a couple arm zaps, he’s like, “PLEASE REMEMBER, MY PEOPLE HAVE MAGNETIC POWERS, WHICH AGAIN, ARE RECHARGED WITH YOUR PLANET’S CEREAL. MY PLANET, OF COURSE, IS MARS IF I HAVEN’T MENTIONED IT, WHERE MAGNETISM IS COMMON AND ENCOURAGED, BUT REQUIRES GRAPE NU– SORRY, LET ME START AGAIN.”

“Jesus Christ, they know. Shut the fuck up, we’re trying to do a commercial,” interrupts the boy. He can’t work with this madman, and he’s already lost his mind with frustration. “THE CEREAL IS SIZZLING WITH VOLTO-ENERGY!” he shrieks at the reader, a legally actionable claim of magnetic powers he’ll have to retract next adventure. Speaking of, their next adventure sucks.

The boy and Professor have taken Volto on a South American jungle hike and a boa constrictor has wrapped itself around their pack mule, and this can’t be right… nothing else? The stakes are 43 cruzeiros of mule rental deposit? I’m here, from Earth, and I’m not sure what the crisis is. Volto is a visitor from the stars hearing the names of these moist shapes for the first time as he watches them make love, presumably as is their Earth custom. What is he expected to do? Watch a snake burst as it tries to swallow 800 pounds of donkey and 200 pounds of Grape-Nuts cargo? Intervene? Fucking how!? Space magnetism against a snake and mule fight? Can you hear yourself?

Wait, that’s really what he did? Volto’s repel arm uncoils boa constrictors and ignores mules? Even for 1944, this is desperate nonsense. “Nothing Detangles a Knot of Flesh Like Some Nerd Yelling About Magnets” sounds like a late entry in a Cracked article called “5 Things I Learned at an Insane Clown Posse Show.” It sounds like something Bill Nye’s wife would confide in a trusted friend. This writer was given the task of coming up with something exciting to defeat with magnets, with no limitations of scope or reason, and he came up with “Nearby Snake in the Caper of the Botched Mule Kidnapping.”

Oh no, the mule is frightened. My god, will this heart-pounding crisis ever slow down. Quick, Volto, do something to calm it down. Yes, that. Rip it into the sky with your animal-terror beam. Beautiful.

Because all the good men had left for Normandy, this script was approved and illustrated. Volto’s magnetism now canonically straightened snakes, pulled children, killed muggers, enraged cougars, and calmed donkeys. Also, it seems like Volto isn’t friends with these two people he’s always with? He interrupts the boy’s sales pitch to say, “VOLTO KNOWS WHAT GRAPE NUTS ARE, UNMAGNETED WORM, THEY’RE THE ONLY REASON VOLTO CAME ON THIS BULLSHIT TRIP.” The boy’s sales pitch, by the way, now clarifies “Grape-Nuts Flakes may not give you Volto’s magnetic power.” He’s also softened the description from “swellest cereal you’ve ever tasted” to “Tastes swell!”. It’s a cowardly admission by a browbeaten boy, which is why I’m giving this ad, “Untitled Snake One,” the lowest possible Volto From Mars score: The World Is a Little Less Magical Because of It out of 5.

Let’s do a good one!

Oh no! There’s a tree in the road! They’re going to be late for the train! Damn, nothing to be done. Unless… I don’t know… unless I’m forgetting something?

Oh, right! Volto’s magnetic power! I won’t forget it again. But I worry that while I’m remembering how Volto’s left hand repels, I’ll be forgetting something else. Oh, gracious! Where’s my bag?

Oh, hell yes. The Volto magic is back! He used his magnetic powers fueled by Grape-Nuts Flakes to rescue forgotten luggage! The end, buy cereal, what an adventure! Somehow, in only three issues, Volto has gone from Amazing Mars Hero to Pretty Handy Guy To Have Around. It feels like the next adventure will be him going into a gas station and screaming, “Remember, when I say ‘Volto’ my left hand rejects this flavor of energy drink! See? When I say ‘Volto’ my right hand attracts the bathroom key!” And maybe his creators sensed that because the next one they put Volto at ground zero of a full-on terror attack.

A gangster drives up and throws a bomb at city hall while announcing, “Fuck you, Mayor, I am doing this for crime!!” And any other moment of any other day, it would have been a flawless plan. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice the bodybuilding alien in the vampire shark hat standing in the way. You probably don’t remember, but this is Volto, and he has the exact right powers to throw a bomb somewhere else. Let’s recharge our magnetism with some cereal!

Oh right, the gangster. Thanks, kid! It seemed insane at first, but I’m starting to like how the Volto team shares a single hippocampus and only one of them can use it at a time. And it’s nice to see these adventurers getting some non-luggage work. So let’s see, we’ve done mountain lion, dynamite truck, street crime, jungle, luggage, terrorism… oh, shit. It’s time for shark!

Somehow this ended up less dramatic than the missing suitcase. There was no way of knowing this beforehand, but when the crisis is shark and your left hand launches sharks, your adventure is over by the second panel. Unless I’m forgetting something dizzy dames did in the 1940s?

I honestly think fainting is pretty reasonable here. This woman learned Martians were real and sharks can fly while she was already in the middle of a shark attack. “I’ve got this,” says the little boy to an on-duty lifeguard and a superhero with lady-pulling powers. And Volto, Worst Wingman from Mars, responds,”REMEMBER, SON… YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN… MY RIGHT HAND COCK BLOCKS! SORRY, ON MARS, WHERE WE EAT FOOD FOR MAGNETISM, WE SAY ‘SON’ WHEN WE CAN’T REMEMBER SOMEONE’S NA–” Hold on, does Volto not know this kid’s name? Wait a minute, do I? I… I don’t! Let me go back through these… oh my god, they never mention one. They forgot to give Volto’s sidekick a name!

In his next adventure, Volto ruins what would have been a bull national holiday. I don’t know all the rules for ritual bull murder, but this seems like cheating. At the very least Volto stole a moment sports fans have been waiting for all their lives. Volto, your heart is in the right place, but this is a profane violation of our natural order, like interrupting a state execution or preventing a juggling accident.

You may have noticed that up until now, Volto stories don’t have titles. For instance, this one is called “VOLTO FROM MARS” rather than “Volto in… Robbing a Man of His Fated, Glorious Death!” But this is the last time they do that. From now on, the writers use titles, and like Volto From Mars himself, they immediately fuck it up.

“Our first title! What should it be? Wait, I’ve got it: VOLTO FROM MARS in VOLTO’S WEIRD MAGNETIC POWERS PROTECT A MERCHANTMAN IN SUB-INFESTED SEAS…”. What the hell kind of title is that? That sounds like it should be followed by the words “a.k.a. 熟女 Japanese Bathtub Moms 3.” Ridiculous. I also reject the premise that Volto is “learning every minute.” The title of this says he’s there to protect a merchantman in sub-infested seas, and he doesn’t recognize a torpedo, the first and only thing they would have explained to him. And I wasn’t the only one disappointed. After this embarrassment, the military demoted Volto to Assistant Fruit Helper, the actual plot of his next story:

“HELLO, READER, BOY OH BOY ARE YOU ABOUT TO SEE CROPS AND MAGNETS BUT TO GET TO ALL THE ACTION YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP READING BECAUSE THIS IS STILL THE TITLE OF THIS VOLTO ADV–” oh, hey! Look at that! “Jimmy!” They gave the kid a name!

The moment the boy is given a name, God sends an unexplainable rock to kill him. You’ve seen the storytelling standards for Volto adventures, but there may never be a worse adventure premise than “sudden rock while picking peaches.” If I was telling this as a bedtime story, my daughter would say, “I hope mommy’s next husband has a soul, daddy.”

In an exciting turnaround, Volto picks fruit! They spin it like Volto saved the troops here, but good fucking luck getting five baskets of 1945 peaches across the Atlantic before they turn into toilet wine. There’s nothing better than Volto From Mars. He used his powers to pick peaches, pointlessly, and his sidekick almost died. It might be why Grape-Nuts switched to no mascot at all shortly after this.

Next up is the story known simply as “VOLTO FROM MARS in VOLTO UNLEASHES HIS MAGNETIC POWERS TO HELP JIMMY AND INTELLIGENCE AGENTS CAPTURE A DASTARDLY SPY RING..

Readers today might have trouble relating to the rockcitement of wartime peach picking, but busting up dastardly spy rings is timeless. A classic adventure story! Now, let’s see… who would be spying on us in 1945? Oh n–

Oh, gracious! I forgot about racism. Let’s maybe skip this one.

Hey, Volto got his pilot’s license! I’m sure he and Jimmy will find some fun adventure in… a 1945 unexplored jungle. Oh n–

They immediately find a race war. Great job, Grape-Nuts.

Volto’s arms attract and repel when he says ‘Volto,’ but he also attracts accidents and repels reason passively, at all times. His adventures always start with disaster, usually something basic like a peach accident or an ethnic canoe cleansing, but sometimes, rarely, we open with him riding neck-first into a noose while screaming, “BANDITS ARE STEALING THE SACRED DIAMOND FROM THE ANCIENT TEMPLE!” You never know when he’s going to be awesome because he sucks or awesome because he’s awesome, and here it’s sort of both because they introduce an entirely new element to a Volto From Mars story:

Volto’s in trouble! We get to see how he uses his keen Martian mind to get out of a jam!

Oh, that makes sense. Volto sat still and waited for his natural accident summoning ability to summon a second disaster. And even he seems surprised it worked. He had absolutely no idea he was immune to lightning before this. Everything else here seems normal, though. His left hand repels, Pedro mus’ run weeth the diamond, I think we can move on to the next one.

Volto’s natural disaster magnetism is so powerful he is about to have a head on collision on a roller coaster. This is a child’s idea of how roller coasters work. It’s a note Steven Seagal would give in a movie called Six Flags of Death. “In the rescue scene, Mr. Seagal wants to ride the roller coaster too,” his agent would say before holding a finger to his ear and adding, “… and we’ll need 12 more feet of party sub.”

Volto immediately reverses the direction of a speeding roller coaster, far beyond the safety regulations of 1945, and ejects the shattered remains of an unrestrained wom– wait a goddamn minute. That’s the woman who was sitting behind him! Let’s get another look at her. Volto, can you grab her?

Yep, that’s her. And she’s definitely dead.

This makes no sense, even for Grape-Nuts Flakes. I’m worried maybe these are all hallucinations Volto is having while his body is being torn to bits by a savage beast…

Oh gracious! I think I was right! Luckily, this camper recognizes the struggling remains of Volto and fixes that bear with a rock!

That is one hell of a bear fixing, random passerby, but Volto has a particular way he does things, probably because of his memory issues. I’m worried someone else taking the first action in one of his comics could really fuck up his rhythm…

… I’m sure it’ll be fine, though.

In VOLTO FROM MARS and the case of HIS STRANGE MAGNETIC POWERS SAVE AN ARSENAL AND BRING CRAVEN CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE, it opens again with Volto in trouble. These saboteurs must have caught him when he wasn’t full of Grape-Nuts Flakes, his one weakness other than bears, memory, ropes, social cues, or a minor change in routine!

No, never mind. It was part of his plan to let them tie Jimmy to explosives to make sure these were the culprits tying children to explosives. And now, when those fools blow the arsenal, they’ll be blowing themselves right into Volto’s trap! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe Volto should go back to saving peach orchards from loose rock? It seems like he was at his best when he went outside and someone said, “Look up! Hey! A piano!” For instance, look what happens when the Volto writers try to do a plot:

Volto’s boy sidekick and “Joe” are behind enemy lines saving “Lily” from sabotage kidnappers? This is several too many things and none of them are Volto. And by the way, there’s no way anyone could be expected to know Lily. She has appeared one other time in the Volto saga, maybe, when a woman named Lily was knocked out of a canoe back in “VOLTO AND JIMMY ARE FLYING OVER JUNGLE IN A HELICOPTER.” So if it’s the same woman, and it might not be, it’d be like the lost luggage returning for a cameo.

Anyway, here we are, Voltoless, but we’ve found our target. Joe moves into the second phase of Operation: Hot Lily: not realizing there would be two bad guys and shouting “WE’D BETTER GET VOLTO!” before leaving the woman to be tortured. And it takes Volto zero panels to arrive because he was right behind them the whole time:

“REMEMBER! I AM WITH YOU!” Everyone always forgets Volto’s left hand repels (when he says ‘VOLTO!’) and Volto’s right arm attracts (when he says ‘VOLTO!’), but now they’re forgetting Volto is there at all. I’m sure it was a one time thing. I’m sure nothing strange is happening. I’m sure it was a one time thing. I’m sure nothing strange is happening.

“You eat Grape-Nuts Flakes like ice cream,” says Jimmy’s mother, who I guess exists.

“What an insane thing to say. By the way, I have no interesting facts about Grape-Nuts Flakes or which Martian abilities it fuels,” says Jimmy, maybe forgetting something. Or someone.

“A meteor! If only someone could repel it! Aargh, I’m talking crazy. Just outrun it!”

Oh yeah, Volto! We’d forgotten about you. You threw the meteor at people, by the way. I guess when I forgot about you I also forgot your first magnet always makes the situation worse.

Hmm. You know, I think the title VOLTO FROM MARS in… “VOLTO’S OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD MAGNETIC POWERS CONQUER A FIERY INFERNO IN THE TIMBERLANDS OF THE GREAT NORTHWEST… SAVE JIMMY AND THE JUNIOR RANGERS FROM A TRAGIC FATE.” is so thorough we don’t even have to read this one.

“Can I hop in your top secret experimental rocket plane, Joe? I’m only ten, but I eat cereal!”

“Sure, Jimmy! You’re never more than five seconds from an unexplained catastrophe! Mess around in there.”

“AIIIIEEEEEE, I’M RIGHT HERE! WHY CAN’T ANYONE REMEMBER ME!?” shrieks Volto in what would be his final adventure. The memory-eating parasite Volto unknowingly(?) brought with him from Mars has completed its job. No one will ever know what happened here. Still, despite having every last thought scraped from his mind, Jimmy sensed what was happening. Something primal told him this was his last day at work and he should not give a fuck. And when he delivered the final Volto Grape-Nuts Flakes slogan, he did not.

Ha ha where am I, who am I, this cereal is THE NUTS.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Joshua Graves, ALL JOSHES SHALL BE SPARED.

5 replies on “Mascot Week: Volto From Mars 🌭”

I’m kind of surprised we got through the week with not even a mention of Popsicle Pete.

I guess when the professor died on the merchant marine ship off-panel, his obvious fortune, his estate, and his parents (Joe and Lily in a blonde wig) were bequeathed to Jimmy.

Seanbaby, I think you misspelled “nerd”, at least in reference to Insane Clown Posse. It’s spelled I-D-I-O-T, especially when it has to do with the intersection of ICP and magnets.

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