Thursday, September 14, 2017

DC Comics Heroines For September

Since the 1976 Super DC Calendar featured this fantastic shot of the fabulous females of the DC Universe by Dick Giordano....

..seemed a good enough time to talk about who these five women are!


Black Canary

Dinah Laurel Lance premiered as Black Canary with what would eventually become her sonic scream to join the JLA in Justice League of America #75 (November, 1969 by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella), but, at the time, she thought she was Dinah Drake Lance (the original Black Canary), and continued to believe that for years as she transitioned from being a member of the Earth-2 Justice Society to the Earth-1 Justice League.

The story of how the daughter thought she was the mother, and what happened to the original Black Canary was eventually revealed in Justice League of America #220 (November, 1983, by Roy Thomas, Chuck Patton, Romeo Tanghal and Pablo Marcos), which turned the issue where she joined the JLA into a Black Canary first appearance.


Mary Marvel

Mary Bromfield found out she was Billy Batson's twin sister in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 11, 1942 by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze) thanks to them both possessing half of a locket, and Billy revealed that he could change into Captain Marvel by saying "Shazam".  Mary was a competitor in a trivia contest, covered by radio announcer, Billy Batson, and hoods tried to steal the prize of the show....with Billy and Freddy Freeman incapacitated by the hoods and unable to speak, Mary tried the magic word, and with a flash of magic lightning became Mary Marvel!  Mary then defeated the ruffians easily with her new powers.


Mary then worked with Billy and Freddy (Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.) as the Marvel Family!

 

Supergirl

Kara Zor-El's rocket landed on Earth in Action Comics #252 (May, 1959 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino) in "The Supergirl From Krypton".  Superman found his cousin in her rocket, and helped her adjust to life on Earth, with a secret identity of Linda Lee at Midvale Orphanage for a time, while Kara operated in secret as Superman's secret weapon of Supergirl.


As time passed, Supergirl was adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers, faced a few of Superman's foes like Lex Luthor and friends like Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, then Superman revealed Supergirl's presence to the world in Action Comics #285 (February, 1962, by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney) as "The World's Greatest Heroine"...and best of all, these issues were all reprinted in giant sized issues of Action Comics.


Lois Lane

Lois Lane first met a young Clark Kent (Superboy) in Adventure Comics #128 (May, 1948 by Bill Finger and George Roussos) in "How Clark Kent Met Lois Lane" with Clark and Lois competing in a contest for the Daily Planet to get a story published, with Clark unintentionally giving the contest to Lois, as she got two stories on Superboy.

Of course, this was the Earth-1 Lois Lane (who loved the Earth-1 Superman, who was a member of the JLA).  The original, Earth-2 Lois Lane premiered in Action Comics #1 (June, 1938, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), and that Lois and Clark got married in the 1950s, as later revealed in Action Comics #484 (June, 1978 by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Joe Giella).


Hawkgirl

Shayera Hol came to Earth with her husband, Katar Hol in Brave and the Bold #34 (February-March, 1961 by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert) as Thanagarian policemen, looking for the shape-shifting criminal, Byth Rok.  They used their advanced science and ancient Earth weaponry to capture the villain, but remained on Earth as museum curators in Midway City, as Carter and Shiera Hall, working with Commissioner George Emmett.

Over the years, the multiple Earths and various Crises weren't kind to the Hawk couple, as Hawkgirl (later Hawkwoman)  and her history got more complex.

Still, these were all wonderful heroines!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Remembering Len Wein

Taking a little time to remember Len Wein, a comic book legend taken from us too soon (He was 69, born on June 12, 1948, and passed on September 10, 2017).

Len was the co-creator of Swamp Thing and the Human Target for DC and Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler for Marvel, as well as launching the new team of X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1, and editing the early days of Alan Moore's work on the Watchmen and on Saga of the Swamp Thing, and even had a brief cameo as a Congressman in the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014.

But, now is a time to take a look back at some of his best stories.

Batman's Origins

Over the years, Batman had many origins, but they all contained the basics of young Bruce Wayne's parents being shot, and Bruce vowing to avenge their deaths, and devoting himself to the hard work of becoming Batman.  But, with the Untold Legend of Batman three issue mini-series of 1980, Len, along with artist Jim Aparo, gave the most detailed summation of how Bruce became Batman, pulling in multiple stories from over the years, as well as adding new details, and giving a little history on Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, Com. Gordon and a few villains like Joker as well, all well pushing forward and telling a compelling story of the tortured life of Bruce Wayne in the here and now (even a little on Lucius Fox, who Len created during his run on Batman....).

Batman Villains

Not every Batman villain is in the same league as the Joker, Two-Face, Riddler or Catwoman (all of which Len wrote), but quite a few of them had only one or two appearances and then were forgotten.  Len revived quite a few of Batman's odder villains, like Blockbuster, Mr. Freeze, Calendar Man, Kite-Man as well as borrowing a few foes like Crazy-Quilt (who faced Robin), Captain Boomerang (who faced Flash) and Gentleman Ghost (who was a Hawkman foe), for a run in the 300s in 1979/1980, giving these second tier villains a chance to shine (best of all, all these tales as well as the Untold Legend Of Batman were recently reprinted in Tales of the Batman: Len Wein in 2015).

Justice League Villains

Reviving villains was nothing new for Len Wein, as he did quite a bit of that in his run of Justice League of America from 100 to 114 in the early 1970s.  Len brought back JLA foes Felix Faust, Shaggy Man, T. O. Morrow, the Key, and Amazo, as well non-JLA villains like Eclipso and the Hand, and created a few new ones, like Anakronus, the Nebula Man and Libra (with Libra forming the Injustice Gang of the World, which included individual League member foes like Chronos, Poison Ivy, Mirror Master and more).

Working with the Justice League

All these new villains required new heroes, so Len added Elongated Man (who Len had written some back-up Flash stories for) and the Red Tornado to the League, as well as many guest stars, including future League members, Zatanna (who Len wrote back up Adventure Comics and Supergirl stories for) and Metamorpho, almost member, the Phantom Stranger (whom Len had a lengthy run on in the early 1970s), having back up Green Lantern John Stewart guest for an issue (his second appearance), as well as writing three JLA/JSA team-ups, creating the Freedom Fighters (made up of old Quality heroes like Uncle Sam, the Ray and the Phantom Lady), finding out what happened to Sandman's partner, Sandy the Golden Boy, and, best of all, one large group of ignored heroes as well....


Seven Soldiers of Victory

Len gave DC back the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a mostly forgotten team of heroes from the 1940s, which included Earth-2's Green Arrow and Speedy, the western Vigilante, the Shining Knight, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey and the Crimson Avenger and his partner, Wing (who made 8 soldiers), plucking them out of the past in one of the largest JLA/JSA team-ups of it's time, but keeping them in the present to be available as modern heroes.  In the 1980s, Len did return to one of these heroes, writing a memorable tale that told "Whatever Happened To....the Crimson Avenger?" for DC Comics Presents #38 (October, 1981), which is both a heartbreaking and inspiring tale.    

Len's Legacy

Len would often return to characters, working on Superman, Batman (even on DC Special Series #27, teaming Batman with the Hulk), Wonder Woman, a run on Green Lantern with Hal Jordan and John Stewart, as well as many Marvel characters, then handling Blue Beetle's revival at DC after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and even later creating Gunfire, and back for a Human Target limited series and one for Swamp Thing....

...., as well as work on a 10 issue mini-series DCU: Legacies in 2010/2011, which let Len work on the whole of the DC Universe one last time.

For all of this and so much more, comic book fans will remember the legacy of Len Wein.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Happy 51st Anniversary Star Trek

51 years ago, Star Trek began its life on NBC, with a little episode called "The Man Trap".

Since then, Star Trek has continued on, with multiple movies and spin offs....as well as a few comic books.

DC had two comic book series about the original cast and crew that lasted past 50 issues, so here's a quick look at them.

1980s DC

This Star Trek #51 (June, 1988) has the title of "Haunted Honeymoon", and is by Peter David, Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran, with a cover by Mike O'Connell.



The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-A faces off against a telepath who has fallen ill...


...projecting nightmarish visions for the crew, including Captain Kirk, who sees visions of the good ship Enterpoop, crewed by the characters of Bloom County.


This story does continue into the next issue of this series...



1990s DC

DC's other Star Trek #51 (August, 1993) features the story "Renegade" by Dan Mishkin, Deryl Skelton, Steve Carr and Arne Starr, with a cover by Rod Whigham and Carlos Garzon.

This issue focuses on Saavik, with her tracking down a Federation scientist, Professor Erickson, on a Romulan Outpost, as the scientist was planning to share a major breakthrough of his with the Romulans!


Two very different issues, showing some of the infinite diversity of Star Trek!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Remembering Jay Scott Pike

Taking a moment to remember artist Jay Scott Pike on his birthday (September 6th, 1924 to September 13th, 2015).  

Pike was the creator and writer/illustrator of Dolphin's first appearance in Showcase #79 (December, 1968), with the story, "The Fantasy At 14 Fathoms".

This story has United States Navy frogmen retrieving documents from a ship sunk during World War II...and imagine the surprise when these men found a girl, living down there!  That girl was the white-haired girl named Dolphin, who has to stay near the water as she has gills, so needs the water to breathe.  Chief Petty Officer Chris Landau grows close to the girl, and tries to learn her origins from her....to find out she doesn't know.  She does help the team get the document as a storm approaches, completing their mission, meaning they will leave, but Dolphin stays behind, as the ocean is her home.

Forgotten Heroes

Dolphin had pretty much been left behind, but did appear again, as a member of the Forgotten Heroes (a loose-knit group of characters that hadn't had many features over the years, which began meeting semi-regularly, starting with Action Comics #552), and later joined Aquaman and Tempest in the pages of Aquaman, where she was a regular supporting cast member for years, and recently experienced a Rebirth there as well!

Romance Comics 

Sadly, Jay Scott Pike never returned to drawing his creation in the comics, but instead had regular work in various titles of romance comics for Marvel and DC, showcasing his talent for drawing beautiful women, on titles like Girls' Love Stories, Falling In Love, Love Stories, Young Love, Our Love Story, Heart Throbs and Young Romance, .

Occasionally, Pike got some comic book work after the 1970s, working on three issues of the female vampire series, Scarlett (#12 to #14, in the early 1990s), and on the interior of the DC adaptation of the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation "All Good Things" in 1994.

Not Forgotten 

Mostly, Pike concentrated on his pin-up work, sometimes flashing back to earlier days, with commission work based on work he had done in the pulps or featuring good girl art, or on previous characters like Lorna the Jungle Girl and his co-creation with writer Don Rico, Jann of the Jungle, or even Dolphin. 

Pike was still taking commissions up until he passed, leaving behind a legacy of beautiful artwork for all to enjoy.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day With Wonder Woman and the Twelve Labors

Collected for July, 2012....was the Twelve Labors of Wonder Woman!


Covering the new Wonder Woman stories from Wonder Woman #212 to #222 (1974/1975)...


...this tradepaperback shows Wonder Woman's attempts to rejoin the Justice League after regaining her powers, with each JLAer monitoring her activities to see if Wonder Woman was still worth to rejoin the JLA, after the amazing amazon had problems that caused her to doubt herself!



The first two issues, with Superman and Flash as monitors.


The second two issues with Green Lantern and Aquaman


The third two issues with Black Canary and Green Arrow

The fourth two issues with Red Tornado, Phantom Stranger and Elongated Man


The fifth two issues with Atom and Hawkman


The last issue with Batman

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jack Kirby Premiering Mr. Miracle

It was quite a show back in the early 1970s when Jack Kirby came back to DC Comics, and no show was bigger than the performance put on in Mr. Miracle!  Scott Free made his first appearance in Mr. Miracle #1 (March-April, 1971).  Scott showed up on the outskirts of Metropolis to watch Thaddeus Brown and Oberon going through training for Thaddeus' Mr. Miracle escape act, except they were set upon by Inter-Gang thugs under orders from Steel Hand. 

Scott used miraculous technology to defeat the foes, and became Thaddeus' protege for a time, until another attack finished him off, prompting Scott to take up the mantle of Mr. Miracle to catch Steel Hand, and then, to continue the escape artist act with Oberon, as the show must go on!

Still, where did this mysterious Scott Free and his technology come from?

Apokolips

In the course of a few flashbacks of "Young Scott Free" (included in issues #5, #6 and #7 of Mr. Miracle of 1971/1972), readers followed the pre-Mister Miracle as he deals with the abuse of Granny Goodness in shock trooper training, first encounters Metron, who warns Scott not to eat the food provided (which has mind-numbing agents) and trains on aero-discs against Parademons...
...all part of the mundane existence of a minor soldier (and hinting that all this technology that Mr. Miracle uses is from Apokolips). 

So, why is Scott Free so important? 

Himon

In Mr. Miracle #9 (July-August. 1972), Jack Kirby finally gives us answers, as well as "Himon!".  In the last of the "Young Scott Free" tales (this one taking up the full issue), readers meet Himon, who sees a group of "lowlies" in Armagetto die for him, and counts on Scott Free to save him from accidentally phasing into a wall. 

Himon is the inventor of the Mother Box, and is creating rebellion amongst the lowest ranks of Apokolips, which gets him hunted by Darkseid's forces, including a young lieutenant Barda of the Female Furies (who grows up to be Big Barda, and later lead the Females Furies against Mr. Miracle, then defecting for him).  While Metron and Himon discuss if Scott Free has the strength to escape Apokolips himself, Darkseid troops kill all of Scott and Barda's friends, and Himon kills Scott and Barda's tormentor, helping Scott remember a woman who knew Izaya (a memory from his own youth on New Genesis...

....yes, Scott was Izaya's son, traded in "The Pact").  This forces Scott and Barda to dream beyond Apokolips, and try to escape, though Barda is held back by dog soldiers and Parademons, Scott presses on, straining to leave via a "Boom Tube" Metron and Himon created, while Darkseid himself appears, beckoning the lad to stay and bow to his will, yet the boy declares "let me be Scott Free...and find myself!", and escapes.

This breaks the Pact, allowing Darkseid to restart the war with Apokolips, as well as to try to find the "anti-life equation" which will allow no other will in the universe other than Darkseid's...while Himon and Metron warn Darkseid of the prophecy that he will face Orion one day in Armagetto...

...as well as showing how connected Kirby's Fourth World was simply with two flashback based issues! 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jack Kirby Beginning The New Gods

New Gods #1 came out in February-March, 1971, introducing the world to the main concepts of Jack Kirby's Fourth World as "Orion Fights For Earth" (by writer/artist Jack Kirby, and inked by Vince Colletta) .  This was the first appearance of Orion, the dog of war, who uses the astro-force to fight the forces of Apokolips (like Kalibak, Darkseid's brutal son), working for Highfather (Izaya, who is connected to the mysterious "Source"), working with jovial Lightray (a young New God of New Genesis), and using Mother Boxes made by Metron....

...but, the beginning of the battle started before New Gods #1.

Darkseid

Leader of the forces of Apokolips, Darkseid had already appeared in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 to #136 (also by Jack Kirby, from 1970/1971), and in Forever People #1 (February-March, 1971, by Kirby/Colletta), where he was the force behind Inter-Gang, a new group of gangsters that used futuristic weapons, and were fought by Jimmy Olsen, Superman, a new Newsboy Legion and the Forever People (a group of kids who came to Earth, but were from New Genesis).

But, this didn't tell where the war between New Genesis and Apokolips started, nor why it moved to Earth...

The Pact

The start of the war was revealed in "The Pact" in New Gods #7 (February-March, 1972 by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer).  Izaya the Inheritor was enjoying the peace on New Genesis with his wife, Avia, when their picnic was set upon by Steppenwolf of the Dog Cavalry and his nephew, Darkseid, and attacked, resulting in the death of Avia by Steppenwolf's hands.  Darkseid promised his uncle he killed Izaya, but he lied, allowing Izaya to lead New Genesis' forces against Apokolips, and kill Steppenwolf, which allowed him to take over Apokolips from his mother, Heggra, and give enigmatic Metron the "X-Element", which would allow him to travel anywhere in the galaxy in his Mobius Chair.

After killing Steppenwolf, and the terrible aftermath of the many battles, Izaya tired of fighting, and went to find himself, instead connecting with the all-powerful "Source", becoming the Highfather of New Genesis.  Darkseid, meanwhile, came up with "The Pact", where he and Izaya would exchange sons (with Darkseid angering his wife, Tigra) as they gave up their angry red-haired boy to Highfather, and Darkseid accepted Izaya's heir, giving him to Granny Goodness for soldier training.  Darkseid schemed, planning on angering the lad so much that he'd escape eventually, breaking the Pact, allowing Darkseid to attack (which eventually happened).

But, Darkseid didn't count on his own son, Orion, becoming such a loyal fighter for the forces of New Genesis, destined to face his father in a final battle, nor on what Izaya's boy would do after escaping to Earth (but, his story developed elsewhere, and will be revealed "soon"....).