Friday, June 14, 2013
Pipe Smoker (fictional): Professor Richard Impossible
Richard Impossible is a super-scientist and inventive genius; and a fictional character from the animated series The Venture Brothers (on Cartoon Network). For those who don't watch this show, I think a little explanation may be in order. The main protagonists are the characters Doctor Thaddeus Venture, his sons Hank and Dean, and their bodyguard Brock Sampson. They are based on and to some extent are parodies of the Quest family from the old animated series Jonny Quest. Various other animated characters appear in either parodized or "actual" form now and then. For example, the whole Quest family: Jonny, Hadji, Dr. Quest and Race Bannon have all appeared at one time or another, as did their arch-nemesis Dr. Zin.
So...back to Professor Impossible. In addition to his qualities already mentioned, at one time there was a freak accident in his laboratory which gave him the super-power of super-stretchiness. Unfortunately, it also afflicted his wife Sally with invisible skin--but only her skin--which she can't always control; Sally's mentally handicapped cousin Ned with 3-inch thick skin, making him look like a living callous; and her brother Cody with the horrific malady of bursting into flame whenever he is exposed to the atmosphere, which renders him unable to do anything but scream and convulse in pain. Professor Impossible built a special capsule which Cody can lie in that prevents him from burning; however he is condemned to live in this capsule for his entire life.
So you should see by now that Professor Impossible and his family are parodies of the Fantastic Four. Impossible himself is extremely dominating and controlling; he doesn't even want Sally to leave her room when the Ventures came to visit him. Above is a photo of him in his special "super-hero" costume. He is almost always seen either holding or actually smoking a pipe. In his early days, he appeared to prefer something similar to a bent billiard.
Eventually Sally grew tired of always being controlled by him, and realizing that she would always come in second to scientific research, she left him. The breakup of his marriage sent him into a spiral of depression and excessive drinking. He attempted suicide twice, but was comically prevented from killing himself by his own super-stretchy abilities.
One more bit of expository explanation. In the Venture world, there is an organization called The Guild of Calamitous Intent. It is an organization of villains who are bound by very strict rules of behavior in how they deal with their arch-enemies. One particular arch-villain, another super-scientist called The Phantom Limb (a freak accident gave him invisible limbs with which he is also able to deliver electric shocks by touch) broke the rules and was thrown into a Guild prison. He escaped, and began forming his own group which he called The Revenge Society, and which would not be constricted by any polite rules of engagement. He contacted Professor Impossible and convinced him to join the Society to get revenge on those who had wronged him (namely, Dr. Venture, who he blamed for his failed marriage).
At this point, he changed his name to Professor Incorrigible and became a super-scientist arch-villain.
Although he is still a pipe smoker, he now prefers a pipe made of something other than briar, perhaps meerschaum or--who knows, maybe bone?--shaped like a skull.
The Venture Brothers is still an ongoing story, so we have yet to see what will become of Professor Incorrigible.