Being perpetually in the public eye can be stressful, so sometimes celebrities get away from it all by smashing evil robots, dismantling global crime syndicates, or donning steampunk bustiers. Here are 10 instances of famous folks dispensing justice...fictionally, of course.
10.) Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos
This 1986 cartoon ran for five episodes. The show had two segments: the animated part, in which Chuck Norris and his gang of stereotypes battled criminals like the nefarious cabal VULTURE and Super Ninja; and the live-action portion, which showcased the future anti-gay marriage proponent dispensing koans and working out, often shirtless. Truth be told, it was nowhere as good as Sidekicks.
9.) Mr. T and The T-Force
You expect the man who portrayed Clubber Lang and Bad Attitude Baracus to spend his off hours busting heads, but this 1993 comic series offers a weirdly passive depiction of the mohawked everyman. It's unclear why Mr. T is fighting crime, but instead of punching or throwing gold chains or blinding crooks with fashion shows, he videotapes drug dealers for evidence and rescues babies out of dumpsters. Also, Neal Adams did the art for this book. Who knew?
In 1991, NBC added ProStars to their Saturday morning cartoon line-up. From a marketing perspective, the show's conceit was genius: corral three of the 1990's biggest sports stars (Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson), plop them in a high-tech HQ, and give them legions of robots and mad scientists to thwart.
In execution, it was a generic superhero show that happened to star America's most marketable athletes. As with most celebrity cartoon cash-ins, there's an endearingly nonsensical shoddiness to the whole affair. The ProStars don't supply their own animated voices and spar using hockey sticks and baseball bats. Lest you think pro athletes busting criminals is too farfetched, just remember Shaq's been doing it for years.
7.) Uri Geller
Psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller appeared in a 1976 issue of Daredevil . In this adventure, Geller and the Man Without Fear team up to fight the villain Mindwave and his dreaded "Think Tank" (rimshot). What's amazing about this cameo is author Marv Wolfman's depiction of Geller — the stage magician has the telekinetic prowess of Dark Phoenix. You can read it at Geller's website.
6.) Don Rickles
In the early 1970s, Jack Kirby momentarily replaced Superman's crime-solving pal Jimmy Olsen with comedian Don Rickles. To make matters odder, Superman had to battle an evil clone of Don, "Goody Rickles." Kirby's edict ("DON'T ASK JUST BUY IT") has never been so apt.
5.) Godzilla Vs. Barkley
To prevent Toho's most famous monster from destroying sunny California, a giant Charles Barkley schools the kaiju on a ramshackle basketball court on an abandoned military base or something. The military accepts Barkley's plan to defeat Godzilla with basketball, which I'm pretty sure violates all sorts of protocols, but I too wouldn't waste time debating with a 300-foot-tall Charles Barkley. This 1993 Dark Horse comic was, of course, first a commercial.
4.) Steampunk Palin
This terrifically nonplussing comic came out last month. Jezebel has a round-up of its choicest panels.
3.) Ron Silver in Heat Vision and Jack
On this never-aired pilot from 1999, Silver bucked the trend and played himself as a supervillain on the trail of hyper-intelligent astronaut Jack Austin. "I just rented Timecop!"
2.) Mr. T
Indeed, Mr. T has a long history of fighting criminals. In this 1983 production by Ruby-Spears (the same folks who made Karate Kommandos), Mr. T is a gymnastics coach who investigates UFOs and ghosts with his team of adolescent tumblers. Is Mr. T accredited to teach gymnastics? Some mysteries shall never be solved.
Around the same time NBC aired ProStars, the channel ran Hammerman, a cartoon about MC Hammer and his magic shoes. What's fascinating about Hammerman is that MC Hammer voiced this cartoon at the apex of his career. It's unclear how much time he invested on the project, as his theme song is 75% disjointed yelling.