Thursday, November 16, 2017

Superman As The Justice League

One wonders why Superman would need the Justice League of America, with all of his powers, he certainly outshines them all. 


Why, Superman could take over for any member of the League...


...and, back in Action Comics #314 (July, 1964) he did, in a story by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino (under a cover by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff), wherein readers saw "The Day Superman Became The Flash".



But, as always, there is more to the story than a flashy cover, this story featured Superman...


...becoming Atom, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Batman and the Flash, as shown in simulations by Superman's father, Jor-El, in a rocketship found by Aquaman in the ocean.   Jor-El did this to see how his son, Kal-El, might live if Jor-El sent him to various worlds, but each of these lives ended with Superman being alone, miserable or his life ending too soon.

Thus, Jor-El decided to send Kal-El to Earth, where he would grow up to be Superman (and eventually help found the Justice League).   Perhaps Jor-El was wiser than he knew, because he knew why Superman needed the JLA, not so much for their powers or abilities, but so that his son could have friends to count on.

This story, along with other overlooked gems, was reprinted in the Best of DC #8 (November-December, 1980), under a cover by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Justice League Lore: Early Days of Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf was the leader of the Dog Cavalry on Apokolips, home of the evil side of the New Gods.

He also played an important part in the battle between the forces of Apokolips and New Genesis...but fell victim to his (and others) lust for power.

The Pact

Steppenwolf premiered in New Gods #7 (February-March, 1972) by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer, where he was revealed to be Darkseid's uncle, and a foe of Izaya the Inheritor, whom Darkseid maneuvered into killing Avia (Izaya's wife), starting a bloody war between the forces of New Genesis and Apokolips, resulting in the death of Steppenwolf (and the need for "The Pact" to stop the war, as well as Izaya taking on the role of Highfather for the forces of New Genesis and Darkseid taking over on Apokolips....more info on all of that here).  


Steppenwolf was dead, but that proved to only be a minor inconvenience for him....



Even Gods Must Die

Steppenwolf returned New Gods #6 (November, 1984) by Jack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry, wherein Darkseid found himself in need of more allies (as he had been either killing them or dispatching them to their deaths recently, and Orion, the mad god of New Genesis was on his way to battle....

...so, Darkseid used his "Omega Effect" and additional machines to revive Kalibak, Desaad, Steppenwolf and Mantis to fight for him, though their mental capacities were not quite up to snuff to start, requiring "reeducation" to be almost as useful as they had been.


Super Powers

In the second Super Powers mini-series (the six issue series, running from September 1985 to  February 1986, by Paul Kupperberg, Jack Kirby and Greg Theakston), Darkseid and his most loyal forces waged a war with the Justice League (and a few of their friends, like Robin and Dr. Fate), and Steppenwolf, sporting a new look was there was well, but still having his battleaxe.

This series reflected how Darkseid had been removed from power in the DC Graphic Novel, The Hunger Dogs, but had not quite reflected the current times of the DC Universe, missing effects from the Crisis On Infinite Earths, as well as the current run of the Justice League of America..

....plus Steppenwolf, Mantis and the Parademons looked very different than they had before (but, then again, this series was more to sell Kenner's action figures for their Super Powers line than following continuity...

...still, it survives as a small look at what Jack Kirby might have done had he been allowed to do more with his Fourth World and the rest of the DC Universe).



Revivals

Still, Steppenwolf had many more appearances, whether they be flashback appearances.. ..some, like New Gods #22 of January, 1991 with a hybrid appearance of his looks, Doomsday Annual #1 of 1995 with his new look, or Jack Kirby's Fourth World #3 and 15 of 1997 and 1998, with his original look....



...and new, post-death appearances in Damage #8 of December, 1994, Green Lantern #61 of April, 1995, Outsiders #21 and #22 of 1995, Underworld Unleashed: Apokolips - Dark Uprising #1 of November #1995, New Gods #6 of March, 1996, Mr. Miracle #2 to #4 of 1996, Genesis #3 and Superboy and the Ravers #14 of October, 1997, Action Comics #814 of June, 2004 and Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #9 (April, 2007)....with inconsistent looks in these appearances.   

New 52

It was with the New 52, that Steppenwolf was more of a menace to the Justice Society and the Justice League...


....sporting the look he has in the Justice League movie.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Batman Meets Aquaman

Sure, Batman might be secure prowling the streets of Gotham, but put him on the high seas and he's a fish out of water....so it is a good thing he can call on his friend, Aquaman, for help.

After Batman took over the lead spot of team-ups on Brave and the Bold, Batman and Aquaman worked together in that title four times....

...so, let's take a look at those tales!

Brave and the Bold #82

Batman starts off with a case in Brave and the Bold #82 (February-March, 1969) by Bob Haney, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, where he witnesses the murder of investor Otto Chernak, but is unable to catch his killer due to a man who looks like Aquaman.  Following up on his leads, Batman switches to being Bruce Wayne, so he can pursue Orm Marius (secretly the Ocean Master, Aquaman's half-brother), into a penthouse, where Aquaman tries to kill him.  Batman takes Aquaman to Gotham City Police Department, where he finds out Ocean Master hypnotized Aquaman into doing his bidding (taking advantage of his confused mind as he searches for his missing wife, Mera, and the guilt Aquaman feels for the death of marine biologist, Dr. Simon Link). 

The two heroes stop the Ocean Master, but Aquaman lets him escape, not wanting to kill his half-brother, then continues on his quest to find his missing wife, Mera...



This story is reprinted in Best of the Brave and the Bold #3 (December, 1988), Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Volume 1  hardcover of 2003 and softcover of 2012.


Brave and the Bold #114

Batman plans to catch  the "Last Jet To Gotham" in Brave and the Bold #114 (August-September, 1974) by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, as the plane has noted mobster, Joe Angel aboard.  A water spout stops the plane from landing at Gotham Airport, so Batman calls in Aquaman for help.  Problem is, Aquaman caused the plane to land in the ocean.  Batman dives into the water to find the plane still intact, but Aquaman takes his scuba gear, and explains to the detective (aboard his Golden Dolphin submarine) that drug dealers had placed a nuclear bomb aboard the jet, set to explode when it got to Gotham Airport, starting a nuclear war that would end all life on Earth (including that in the ocean, with Aquaman's Atlantis).  Working together, they managed to get to the plane before it can be returned to Gotham Airport, and stop the bomb.

This tale is reprinted in Legends Of The Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Volume 1 of 2012.

Brave and the Bold #126

Batman needs to know "What Lurks Below Bouy 13" in Brave and the Bold #126 (April, 1976) by Bob Haney, Jim Aparo and John Calnan.  It is an Atlantean satellite that can detect all water vehicles and both the United States and Russia want it for their own.  Batman goes to Aquaman for help, but he couldn't be less interested in these countries' Cold War (an odd change from last time), but Batman reminds Aquaman that Atlantis could be targeted as well.  The two work together to retrieve the satellite, then turn it over to Baron Mannheim, who they think works for the United Nations, but is really a Nazi war criminal, looking for a device to revive the Reich.  Batman and Aquaman then pursue Mannheim, getting the satellite back, which Aquaman will then keep safe in his Aquacave, as the heroes feel it is too powerful for any government to have.

This tale is reprinted in Legends Of The Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Volume 2 of 2013.  

Brave and the Bold #142

It's an "Enigma Of The Death Ship" in Brave and the Bold #142 (July-August, 1978) by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, but Batman and Aquaman are battling again.  This time, Batman wants to retrieve a diary off a sunken ship to get a crimelord's identity, but the criminals work to stop him, then Aquaman and his recently reconciled wife, Mera, work together to stop the detective as well (though she proves enough of a distraction to allow Batman to escape with the book as Aquaman and Mera deal with the criminals).  Batman opens the log to find that Aquaman's father is named in the book, and Aquaman catches up with Batman to explain that is why he tried to stop him from getting the book, fearing that this would tarnish his dad's reputation.  Batman explains that the book instead clears Aquaman's father, so Aquaman apologizes for his harsh actions, and Batman returns to Gotham to seek out the real crimelord (with help from the Creeper, in the next issue), and Aquaman doesn't return to the original run of Brave and the Bold again.

This tale is reprinted in Legends Of The Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Volume 2 of 2013.



Aquaman had actually beat Batman into Brave and the Bold team-ups, working with Hawkman in Brave and the Bold #51 (December-January, 1963/1964) and Atom in Brave and the Bold #73 (August-September, 1967), while Batman had later then worked with both Hawkman and the Atom many times as well.  

Take a look around the blog for a while, and come back for new articles as well. 

B&B seein' ya!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Justice League Lore: Early Days of Mera

Behind every good man is a good woman, and Aquaman is no exception, having as his support, the love of his life, Queen Mera.
 
But, how did these two first meet, and eventually find true love?

These are the tales.....


The Doom From Dimension Aqua

Mera first met Aquaman in Aquaman #11 (September-October, 1963) by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy, when the queen was exiled from her home dimension.  Mera had "hard water" powers (the ability to make water solid, and manipulate it to do her bidding), but those powers faded soon after she arrived in the oceans of Earth after an encounter with an oil tanker.  Mera was pursued by Xebel, who was the leader of the rebels who were against the queen, and even with the help of his sidekick, Aqualad, and mystical imp, Quisp, Aquaman was unable to prevent being captured (along with Mera and Aqualad), and taken back to her home dimension under Xebel.  Aquaman uses his power to communicate with fish to get help to escape, and the three return to Earth, where Aquaman figures out that oil removes the powers of those from Mera's dimension, and uses against Xebel and his forces, which allows Mera to return to her throne on her world.

Invasion Of The Giant Reptiles

Aquaman #13 (January-Februrary, 1964) by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy has Mera's next appearance, but it isn't just for second date.

Mera (as well as some prehistoric creatures) are brought into the oceans of Earth due to a time warp opened by an undersea earthquake, where she has to help Aquaman fend off the giant reptiles...

....who are being controlled by criminals from the future with a mind control ray, who then turn the ray on Mera, who battles Aquaman for a time, but Aquaman turns the tables and gets both the prehistoric reptiles and futuristic criminals to their home times.



The Tyrant Ruler Of Atlantis

Aquaman was always a bit hard headed, but in Aquaman #14 (March-April, 1964) by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy, it was proven that Aquaman was not hard headed enough. 

A head injury to Aquaman made him think that he was the king of Atlantis, so Mera and Aqualad took him to Atlantis for treatment, and in honor of his usually good deeds, the Atlanteans played along, until Aquaman became increasingly cruel. 

They place him in a watery prison, which Aquaman tries to escape from, hitting his head again, which seems to restore Aquaman's usually benevolent behavior, and clears him of the delusion that he was currently king of Atlantis.


Menace Of The Man-Fish

Aquaman #15 (May-June, 1964) with art by Nick Cardy, finds Aquaman and Aqualad helping scientist Dr. Deering with a formula of his that will allow surface men to breathe underwater, but the doctor is caught in an explosion which unhinges the man, as well as allowing him the ability to breathe underwater.


Deering uses a machine against Aquaman and Aqualad, capturing Aquaman as he tries to prevent the doctor from hijacking a ship.

Mera arrives to save Aquaman, and the pair stop Deering and his machine, whose powers and insanity wear off, and he can be taken in for treatment.


The Duel Of The Sea Queens

Mera has some competition for Aquaman in Aquaman #16 (July-August, 1964) by Nick Cardy, as Aquaman chooses to spend time with Sirene instead of Mera (and Aqualad). 

But, it is proven that that wasn't Aquaman who was getting rid of his old friends, but Rovere, Sirene's brother, who had shape-changed into Aquaman, and Mera has to rescue the original Aquaman while Aqualad finds out that the two aliens hadn't meant any harm.  Stellor (yet another of the alien race), arrives to capture Aquaman, Mera and Aqualad, and releases them in capsules into space.  Luckily, Aquaman is able to get back to the ship, overpower Stellor, find his friends and return to Earth, giving the ship to Sirene and Rovere.




The Man Who Vanquished Aquaman


Turnabout is fair play, and in Aquaman #17 (September-October, 1964) by Nick Cardy, Aquaman has to fend off a suitor for Mera, this time, the Olympian god, Poseidon, who has time-traveled to the present to claim Mera as his bride, threatening Mera's home dimension if she does not comply.

Aquaman follows the pair back in time, and gets Zeus' help in defeating Poseidon in a contest.  Being a sore loser, Poseidon takes Mera back to the present, with Aquaman following, and Aquaman rescuing Poseidon when he breaks his magic trident. 

Poseidon realizes the error of his ways, and returns to his own time, without Mera.


The Wife Of Aquaman

With Aquaman #18 (November-December, 1964) by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy, Aquaman and Mera both find their lives changed forever.  With the death of Juvor, the king of Atlantis, the Atlanteans elect Aquaman to be their king, with the provision that Aquaman take an Atlantean woman as his bride (and their queen).  Aquaman rescues Mera from Oceanus, a renegade from Mera's dimension, learning that she left her home dimension to be with Aquaman (and Oceanus had removed her powers).  Aquaman tells Mera he cannot marry her, but the brokenhearted Mera flees before she can be told why.  Mera finds Oceanus instead, who convinces her to be his queen, then conquers Atlantis, throwing Aquaman into prison.  Aquaman escapes, confronting Oceanus at his wedding to Mera, where Oceanus nearly wins, but Mera saves Aquaman, proclaiming her love for him  Aquaman then wins, exiling Oceanus, and becoming king of Atlantis.  In honor of her help, the people of Atlantis make Mera an honorary Atlantean, which allows Aquaman to marry her, with his friends from the Justice League of America (as well as Aqualad, and his friend Robin, who had recently formed the Teen Titans), in attendance.

Aquaman and Mera have many ups and downs over the years, but eventually are able to put their problems behind them and work together, with only Aquaman #18 of the above reprinted in full-sized and in color, in Aquaman: A Celebration of 75 Years.  Let us hope the upcoming Aquaman movie inspired DC to swim through their vault, and unleash the treasures of Nick Cardy art, including the introduction of Mera (and later, the quest for Mera as well....with art by Jim Aparo).

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Remember To Vote

Remember to vote today, and how could you forget, with this memorable cover by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin to Batman: Darknight Detective #1 from early July, 2005.


If you don't vote, you only have yourself to blame for whatever Joker gets in office...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thor Versus Sandman By Jack Kirby

You'd be right in thinking that Jack Kirby was half of the team that created Thor..

...but long before the mythic Asgardian took his first journey into mystery, Thor appeared in Adventure Comics #75 (June, 1942) in a story by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby!


The Villain From Valhalla

Thor first appeared in Adventure Comics #75 (June, 1942) by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, but he was no Asgardian.  This Thor was really Fairy Tales Fenton, a big thug, who used transparent armor and an electrical device for him and his gang to impersonate Thor and his vikings, allowing them to confuse police and make their robberies easier.  Sandman and Sandy the Golden Boy encountered them, with Sandy getting injured in their first fight, but Sandman kept going, finding his foe and delivering him to the justice he deserved.

This tale has been reprinted in Forever People #6 (December-January, 1971/1972), Adventure Comics #499 (May, 1983) and in Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby hardcover of 2009.

Vengeance From Valhalla

Fate had not finished with Fairy Tales Fenton yet, as he returned under a Joe Kubert cover in All-Star Squadron #18 (February, 1983) by Roy Thomas, Adrian Gonzales and Rick Hoberg, this time with the real hammer of Thor, attacking the All-Star Squadron while they were meeting to discuss the missing Justice Society of America.  The team also deals with a new member, the Tarantula, who has a costume similar to that of Sandman (Wes Dodds), who had given up his trenchcoat and gas mask look a while ago, and gained a new partner in Sandy the Golden Boy to replace Dian Belmont.  This story fills in what happened (though Dian's fate later proved to be wrong, so this retroactive continuity had more added to it later, as well as fixing a hole in the past), and set up for an epic battle of the All-Star Squadron and the Ultra-Humanite, which also featured the debut of Infinity, Inc.

This tale was reprinted in black and white in Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron #1 from 2012.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Flash Facts: The Early Days of The Elongated Man

Flash has had quite the collection of villains over the years....

...but equally important is the number of friends he made as well.

One of the earliest of them was the stretchable sleuth known as Elongated Man, who, in his not so secret identity of Ralph Dibny, traveled the country, using his ability to stretch, in mind and body, to solve various little mysteries that he would sniff out as they came to him.

The Mystery Of The Elongated Man

Ralph Dibny was really just an overgrown child as he first met Flash in Flash #112 (April-May, 1960) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.   Not literally, but Ralph had loved Indian Rubber Men from the circus since he was a child, and learned they all favored the soft drink, Gingold, so he made a more powerful version of this drink to really allow him to stretch, and headed out in his purple stretchable costume to solve crimes.  Problem was, Ralph looked like the best suspect in these crimes to the Flash, so the Elongated Man had to contend with Barry Allen's alter ego first, before the two teamed up to bring in the real criminal gang.

This story has been reprinted many times, including in Flash Annual #1 of 1963 (and its replica edition of 2001), DC Special Series #19 of 1979, in the second Flash Archives and Flash Chronicles, and the first Flash Omnibus and Flash: The Silver Age collections.

The Elongated Man's Secret Weapon

Ralph showed his love of the circus in Flash #115 (September, 1960) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, as he was working with one as a performer, and has made quite a bit of money, so takes to traveling the world.  The Elongated Man ends up in the Yucatan, following the trail of the Gingo, the plant which helps give Ralph his powers, and finds an odd red light (and a mystery), so he calls on his pal, the Flash for help.  The two heroes end up being reduced in size by  aliens, preparing to invade Earth, but the heroes stop them, returning to normal size after wrecking their shrinking machine.

This story is reprinted in second Flash Archive, third Flash Chronicle and first Flash Omnibus and Flash: The Silver Age collection.

The Elongated Man's Undersea Trap

Ralph's life changes forever in Flash #119 (March, 1961) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, as before this appearance, it is revealed that he married Sue Dearbon, and the two of them encounter trouble on their honeymoon in the Caribbean.  Ralph had been kidnapped by the alien Bredans, who had been capturing divers to sell into slavery for a while.  They capture the Flash as well, who goes along to find Ralph, who has lost his memory.  Flash helps Ralph recover his memory, and the two defeat the slave masters, free the other divers and let Ralph get back to Sue and his honeymoon, with Ralph basking in the glory (as he also does not keep a secret identity, referring to himself as the world famous Elongated Man).

This story was reprinted in Flash #209 of 1971, the third Flash Archive, the fourth Flash Chronicle, the first Flash Omnibus and the second Flash: The Silver Age Collection. 

Space-Boomerang Trap

Time for the Elongated Man to meet a super-villain (and make another cover appearance), and that happened in Flash #124 (November, 1961) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.  Captain Boomerang had been out on parole, but still using a special boomerang to commit crimes.  Flash calls in Elongated Man in for help, but the time-traveling nature of the boomerang attracts aliens, who Captain Boomerang joins with the heroes to chase off the aliens, with Boomerang then trying to use the alien tech to rid himself of the Flash, but Elongated Man stops that, and then the two work together to put Captain Boomerang back in jail.

This tale is reprinted in Flash #160 of 1966, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #2 of 1980, the Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, the third Flash Archive, the fourth Flash Chronicle, the first Flash Omnibus and the second Flash: The Silver Age Collection.

Kid Flash Meets Meets The Elongated Man

Kid Flash and the Elongated Man had been alternating back-ups in the Flash for a while, so in Flash #130 (August, 1962) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, it was time for the two heroes to team-up (as Barry was to be busy, working with Green Lantern Hal Jordan).  Elongated Man called Flash for help with a case, but as Barry was going on vacation, Barry went to Kid Flash to recruit him instead.  Oakley County had been snowed in, and isolated from the world, and Kid Flash and Elongated Man figured out that it was Weather Wizard, using his control over the weather to blackmail the town.  The two heroes work together to find and disable the machine the Weather Wizard was using to blanked the town in winter weather.

This story was reprinted in Four Star Spectacular #2 of 1976, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #2 of 1980, the fourth Flash Archives, the first Flash Omnibus and in the second Flash: The Silver Age Collection. 

The Man Who Mastered Absolute Zero

The next Flash/Elongated Man team-up happened in Flash #134 (February, 1963) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, and pitted the pair against one of the Flash's oldest villains, Captain Cold.  Flash and Elongated Man go to help scientist Dr. Hutson with a malfunctioning computer, but are unable to find any trouble.  Flash then goes to stop Captain Cold from a prison break, but Elongated Man stops Flash.  Flash then tracks Captain Cold down again, but again, Elongated Man works to stop the Flash, so Barry knocks out Ralph, captures Captain Cold, and has to find out what's wrong with his friend.  Turns out the computer had been infected with a radiation which made it work opposite as to how it was suppose to, and somehow that Elongated Man had been infected with that radiation as well.

This story was reprinted in 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-22 of 1973, and in the fifth Flash Archive.

The Pied Piper's Double Doom

Elongated Man's last appearance in the Flash of the 1960s happened in Flash #138 (August, 1963) by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, facing off against the Pied Piper.  This time, Pied Piper hypnotizes the Elongated Man into stealing for him, then forgetting what he has done.  While investigating Ralph's unintentional crime, Pied Piper uses his hypnosis on the speedster, then having him commit a crime as well, then forget it too.  Elongated Man figures out Flash was behind the second crime, and the two crimefighters figure out that they were both controlled, track down Pied Piper, and Flash, using Ralph's Gingold, surprise Pied Piper, defeating him.

This story was reprinted in DC Special Series #24 of 1981 and in the fifth Flash Archive.  Elongated Man must have felt dejected being used against the Flash, as he and Sue must have needed a change.

Nothing too terrible happened to the Elongated Man and Sue, they just moved over to Detective Comics, starting with issue #327 as a back-up feature to Batman and Robin, where Ralph's nose twitched whenever he smelled a mystery (much to Sue's chagrin).  Elongated Man even was cover featured in full length team-ups with Batman in Detective Comics #331 and #343 of the 1960s.

During his run in Detective Comics, Elongated Man faced Chronos and Riddler, changed costumes twice (once a yellow one, then a more familiar red and blue)...

...as well as teaming up with Zatanna so he could be there for the end of her quest to find her father in Justice League of America #51 in 1967.  Ralph and Sue's back-ups in Detective Comics ended with issue #383 in 1968, then took a few years for him to return in Flash #206, joining the Justice League soon after in Justice League of America #105 in 1973, where he remained almost to the end of this run of the Justice League of America (even changing to a more purple costume, all without a mask, as Ralph had decided early on not to hide his identity, loving the fame)...

....then returning to Justice League Europe after the Invasion!, even having one four issue limited series in the 1990s, as well as a Showcase Presents Elongated Man reprinting all the early Flash Elongated Man tales, as well as most of his Detective Comics tales in black and white, showcasing Ralph's deductive abilities and love of his wife, Sue.

Stretching things a bit, this is a pretty good run for anyone!