Big Ol’ Jet Airliner

MM Phantom JetlinerIn 1942, Mighty Mouse fought mobsters, rescued damsels in distress, and punched erupting volcanoes. Like Superman, he was strong and wore a colorful superhero costume. Unlike Superman (who could only leap tall buildings at the time), Mighty Mouse streaked across the sky like a comet.

The character was conceived as a Superman spoof and was known as Super Mouse for a brief time in the very beginning. Even in 1981 when this novel was published, author Horace J. Elias used the pronoun “Super Mouse” freely. There’s no arguing that Mighty Mouse was rodentia progeny of Superman. But we confess – given the choice between the two iconic heroes, we’d pick Mighty Mouse every time.

Mighty Mouse and the Phantom Jetliner was one of three novels published to supplement a short-lived television show called The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle (the other two books included Mighty Mouse and the Moon Men and Mighty Mouse Saves the Spaceship). Author Elias was a busy guy during the ’70s. He penned a raft of prose novels featuring the Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, Magilla Gorilla, Mister Magoo, Huckleberry Hound, and Johnny Quest. He was a lucky duck who found a way to pay his mortgage by writing books based on cartoon characters. Nice work if you can get it.

The Phantom Jetliner begins when Mighty Mouse gets a panicked call from the head of the Mouse Bureau of Investigations. Some sort of invisible aircraft was harassing commercial jet airliners. Fifteen pilots had narrowly escaped midair collisions, and the M.B.I. was in a tizzy. “I will do everything I can to help you get to the bottom of this mystery,” said Mighty Mouse.

Surprisingly (or maybe not), Mighty Mouse doesn’t rely on his mighty superpowers to solve the case. Instead, he spends a big chunk of the novel studying pilot logs, mapping flight patterns, and calculating collision angles. We’re pretty sure Superman never sat down with field reports and a calculator to defeat Brainiac.

One hundred pages later, Mighty Mouse discovers that his archenemy Oilcan Harry is responsible for all the fuss. The black cat nutball was trying to bait Mighty Mouse into a fight by flying around in an invisible jet. His cat-and-mouse game failed spectacularly.

“I don’t think we’ll be hearing from Oilcan Harry again,” Mighty Mouse told the chief of the M.B.I. “I flew his plane out to sea and then set the automatic pilot in a circular pattern. The plane should continue to fly in circles until it runs out of fuel.”

The G-mouse wasn’t convinced, however. “Do you think there’s any chance at all that he could be rescued and resume his villainous career?” he asked.

“I seriously doubt that,” replied the super mouse with a big, satisfied grin on his face. “Who could find the plane? It’s invisible!”

[Mighty Mouse and the Phantom Jetliner / By Horace J. Elias / First Printing: 1981]

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