by Terence E. Hanley
Hemi and Semi are identical twins, of course, but as they say, their powers are fraternal. Hemi has one super power, his super strength. Semi's powers are more varied, but they're random. He doesn't know what they will be, when they will show up, or how long they will last. One minute, he can fly, the next, he has the power of the Porcupine and is covered with spines made of pure adamandantium! The twins could easily be surgically separated, but their powers derive from the connection between them. If they were separated from each other, they would be diminished. There might be a lesson in that for all of us.
Reaction to The Amalga-Mates has been mixed. Some readers liked "The Case of the Nutcase." In his letter of comment in Five Star Comics #3, Rob Marsh called it "rich with goofy humor and silly slapstick." The late Don Ensign, on the other hand, considered it "rather self-conscious" and "sophomoric." Comic book writer, collector, and fan Tony Isabella reviewed Five Star Comics #2 and the first part of "The Case of the Nutcase" on his blog, called, appropriately enough, Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing (May 15, 2012). He wrote, in part:
My specific quibble on the second issue revolves around the Amalga-Mates. Beside being pretty sure "Siamese twins" is now considered an insensitive/offensive term, the story was poorly done and seemed to mock its heroes. The collective should be a bit more choosy in what it publishes in this anthology.
I agree with Mr. Isabella that Part One could have been better, but in conceiving of the characters and writing the script, I didn't intend to mock them at all. Instead, I wanted to poke fun at superheroes, comic book fans, the comic book business, and the conventions of comic book storytelling. I should have done a better job of it, of course. I wouldn't be explaining myself now if I had. (I have heard that if you're explaining, you're losing. I guess I'm losing.) I regret that "The Case of the Nutcase" comes off as mocking its protagonists. I think Part Two is kinder to them and more to the point.
With The Amalga-Mates, I also wanted to poke fun at people in general as they are confronted by Siamese twins. The speaker in the opening of Part One makes a lame joke about the twins accepting the gift of the acorns on behalf--"Get it, on be-half?" he says--of the city. The reporter, Chelsea Brittany, describes The Amalga-Mates as a "new superhero, with two bodies and two heads," never understanding that she is talking about two distinct people who just happen to be conjoined. My intent is to show that Siamese twins, though they may look different, are simply human beings, and they have everything in common with the rest of us. Beyond that, if anyone else can be a superhero, why not a Siamese twin or twins? As for the quibble that Siamese twins is considered an insensitive or offensive term--I'll write about that in the last part of this series.
To be concluded . . .
Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley