Friday, January 15, 2021

Jimmy Olsen's Animal Transformations

Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen, has changed into quite a few things over the decades...

...but here are a couple of his more animalistic transformations!

The Human Octopus!

It can be handy to have Jimmy Olsen around, but even moreso after his transformation in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #41 (December, 1959) by Robert Bernstein, Curt Swan and John Forte (under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye).

It's the usual story, Superman brings back some artifacts from outer space to show Jimmy, then leaves Jimmy alone with them.  Not paying attention, Jimmy eats one of them (instead of the pear he was eating)....and then, readers wait a night to see what happens to Jimmy!  This time, he grows four extra arms, but, Jimmy tries to see his change as a positive.  

Superman warns him there will be trouble, but Jimmy is resolute.  Now, Jimmy can do three times the typing at the Daily Planet....but, union reps say he should get three times the pay....resulting in Perry White having to let Jimmy go.  Jimmy tries amateur boxing, and is able to beat his opponent, but because of the weight of his extra arms doesn't qualify to win.  

Distracted drives force Jimmy off the road, then won't pick up the six-armed man.  This makes him late for a date with Lucy Lane at the county fair....yet he exceeds at a few tricks like target shooting and baseball and finds her (only to find she can't deal with his extra arms).  Olsen then gets "recruited" by criminals to be a pickpocket for them (but still gets caught).  Superman arrives to vouch for Jimmy's innocence, and comes up with a cure....or was this all really just a dream?

The Human Porcupine!

While that transformation was useful (at least for a bit), in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #65 (December, 1962) by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and George Klein (under a Swan/Klein cover), Jimmy got the point about how hard his transformations could be.

Jimmy found himself the unwanted focus of the attentions of Miss Gzptlsnz (the 5th dimensional girlfriend of Mr. Mxyzptlk), as she wanted to marry Jimmy.  Jimmy says no, then explained to Superman that he'd rather marry an animal.  Offended by that, Miss Gzptlsnz cast a spell that Jimmy would turn into the next animal he'd see....and, while Jimmy tried to maneuver that to his advantage, she let a porcupine go at the zoo, which Jimmy felt was worse than the time he became a wolf-man.  

So, Jimmy grew quills (that shot off when he got excited), and chased off Lucy Lane (who tried to hide in a balloon gondola), but Jimmy followed and found her, resulting in the balloon getting free, and nearly killing the two as his quills punctured the balloon, sending them to the ground (to be saved by Superman).  

Jimmy tried to make peace with Miss Gzptlsnz at a Chinese restaurant (really to get her to read a fortune cookie he rigged to make her say her name backward to send her home and undo the spell), but she was too smart for that one.  

Porcupine Jimmy annoyed Perry White, and was dispatched from the Daily Planet, and tried to find work as a sideshow freak.  This worked well, but he upset the other performers like the bearded lady and tattooed man.  This gave Jimmy an idea, and he called for Miss Gzptlsnz, saying he now truly loved her and would prove it with a tattoo on his chest....which she read (and was her name backwards).  She went back to the 5th dimension and Jimmy went back to normal (and the tattoo was in non-permanent ink, so he just washed it off!).

Of course, these weren't Jimmy's only times becoming more animalistic, in the past, he's been a gorilla...and even a giant turtle man!

That Jimmy is such an animal!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Remembering Steve Lightle

Remembering artist Steve Lightle (November 19, 1959 - January 8, 2021) who passed away this morning.  

Known mostly for his work at DC Comics, on Legion of Super-Heroes, Doom Patrol and the Flash, Steve also worked at Marvel, doing Spider-Man and Classic X-Men covers, as well as odds and ends of work all over for both companies and even his own independent work. 

Below is a sample of some of his covers.  He will be missed.







Thursday, January 7, 2021

Blue Devil Two By Two 2

Looking back, and picking up where we left off a while back, more coverage of that movie stuntman turned super hero, the Blue Devil!  

(If you missed the previous column, go read it quickly here, and come back!)

Throwing a little more joy into the world with more coverage of a superhero who has fun!


Get Me Out Of Here

To be fair, things didn't start out as fun for Dan Cassidy after being trapped in his Blue Devil suit by the demon Nebiros, but Dan was making the best of it in Blue Devil #2 (July, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin (with a cover by Paris Cullins... 

...which was slightly misrepresentative... 

...but more on that later).

New villain Shockwave was breaking into S.T.A.R. Labs in Metropolis, as stuntman mystically into his enhanced exoskeleton Dan Cassidy was also dealing with the crowds in Metropolis.  As Blue Devil (which he is all the time now), Dan drew quite a bit of attention, as well as caved an old couple from a mugging.  While in California, his friend, Marla Bloom took him to a doctor, but there was nothing an ordinary doctor could do for Dan.  

So, Dan headed out to Metropolis to check on his investment properties, and while there, earned the ire of the studio head (as Dan was filmed as Blue Devil, messing with the promotion for the upcoming movie release).  While talking with Marla via phone, Shockwave came down Dan's street, wrecking Dan's building....forcing Blue Devil to take super heroic action to stop the destructive super-strong villain.  

While fighting Shockwave, Dr. Jenet Klyburn of S.T.A.R. Labs approached Dan, letting him know that Shockwave stole a new form of "super" Kryptonite from the lab, and that they need him to stop Shockwave from getting away with it and using it on Superman (and, thinking to herself she doesn't want Superman to know of it).  The battle was being televised, forcing Mr. Verner to call Marla, threatening action as Dan was showcasing the Blue Devil before planned marketing (with Marla calling lawyers herself to take action).  

The battle continued, with Dan eventually getting the super Kryptonite away from Shockwave just as he was about to escape with minions of his employer.  Giving it to Dr. Klyburn, Dan asked her if S.T.A.R. Labs could help get him out of the suit.  Then, Blue Devil was approached by the worse menace of all...a lawyer!  Marla had an injunction filed against Dan, to prevent him from appearing as Blue Devil (but, again, Dan is stuck in the suit!!!).  

This issue especially shows the influence of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on some of Paris Cullins' work!

Heart Of Stone

For a previous issue that tried to make the main villain a bit of a secret, this cover of Blue Devil #3 (August, 1984) featuring Metallo didn't do the greatest job of that (but what a great Paris Cullins cover it was, and to be fair, the previous issue both referred to Superman foe, Metallo, in the next issue blurb and on the letters' page).  But, back to the issue by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin.

Blue Devil was at S.T.A.R. Labs, being investigated, probed and scanned by the scientists there (much to the uncomfort of Dan Cassidy, stuck in the suit), while Metallo was chewing out Shockwave for not getting the super Kryptonite, vowing to go to S.T.A.R. Labs and take it himself!  

Meanwhile, at WGBS news, anchorman Clark Kent learned of the Blue Devil/Shockwave battle, and of S.T.A.R. Labs' super Kryptonite.  Meanwhile, back in California, Marla Bloom goes at Mr. Verner for the injunction against Dan, and actress Sharon Scott gets on a plane to go to Metropolis to support Dan (who, via flashback, we know had revealed his feelings for her, but that the relationship can't go anywhere while he is in the suit).  

With the tests completed at S.T.A.R. Labs, Dan was getting ready to wait for the results with Dr. Klyburn, as Metallo and his minions arrived and attacked!  Blue Devil goes to stop them, and is taken out by Metallo's henchmen, Smithers and Rojek, before he faces Metallo (who does get the super Kryptonite).  Superman is on his way...but, doesn't go in the building as Metallo activates his new power source (bathing the whole building in Kryptonite radiation).  As the two comedic henchman take Blue Devil's body to their saucer so Metallo can experiment on him later, Dan recovers, and takes them out.  

Dan puts his super suit through its paces taking out all of Metallo's henchmen and freeing the captive S.T.A.R. scientists, all while Superman can only observe from a distance.  Blue Devil finally faces Metallo, taking out his new Kryptonite heart, so Dr. Klyburn can encase it in lead....allowing Superman to save Blue Devil from the last two of Metallo's henchmen.  

As Sharon arrives in Metropolis, Superman lets Blue Devil know a little of Metallo's history (giving Dan pause, as thought Metallo was just a robot, not a man with his own grafted on super-suit requiring Kryptonite as a power source).  Superman is concerned that S.T.A.R. Labs is developing their own Kryptonite (which Jenet says was to use against Phantom Zone villains should they attack when Superman is not around....).  

Superman lets Blue Devil know he was impressed by his actions, and, with Dr. Klyburn saying there is little S.T.A.R. Labs can do to help, Superman volunteers to take Dan to someone who knows more about magic and demons than he, and they leave, just as Sharon arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs.

The next issue cover lets you know who Superman's magic expert is, and, later installments will cover this, as well as later fun filled (and as of yet, uncollected) issues of Blue Devil, with the life and friends of Dan Cassidy!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020

Well, 2020 has been a rough and tumble year.  Don't think that Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe or Barry Windsor-Smith had any idea what this year was going to be like when they created Iron Man 2020 for the Machine Man #2 (November, 1984) limited series, set in an alternate future of 2020, with a mercenary Arno Stark taking up the Iron Man armor.


This evil version of Iron Man continued onward, appearing in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20 (November, 1986), as well as a stand alone story for an Iron Man 2020 in June, 1994 withe these  (and a recent crossover event this year as well), and all the appearances of Iron Man 2020 were collected in a tradepaperback in 2013 (with the modified Amazing Spider-Man Annual cover).

No disrespect to any of the creators of these series, but we are all happy to put 2020 in the rear view mirror.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Crisis Endings For Superman Batman And The Flash

As the DC Universe was changing due to the Crisis On Infinite Earths, there were long published titles that were ending.

Two of the longer running ending titles were the Flash and World's Finest Comics.

Each were there for the beginnings of DC's Silver Age, but had run their course....

World's Finest Comics

Superman and Batman had started teaming up with Superman #76 (May-June, 1952), but began regular team-ups with World's Finest Comics #71 (July-August, 1954), with these issues being some of the earliest tales of what would be called Earth-1, with the friendship of Superman and Batman being a foundation of that world, even before the existence of the Justice League of America, or the existence of a hero which started the Silver Age.  


Batman and Superman experienced a split, leading to Batman forming the Outsiders, and though they patched things up, the title came to an end with World's Finest Comics #323 (January, 1986) as the Crisis On Infinite Earths was on its 10th issue.

The Flash

Barry Allen, and his premier as The Flash happened in Showcase #4 (September-October, 1956, around the same time as World's Finest Comics #84), and ushered in DC's Silver Age, with Flash soon getting his own title, picking up from the Golden Age Flash with Flash #105 (February-March, 1959), soon after helping to form the Justice League of America along with Superman and Batman (and a few others), and even having a hand in finding the multiple Earths with the Golden Age Flash.

Barry Allen ran his last race in his own title with Flash #350 (October, 1985), ending his solo run and giving Flash a bit of a vacation, with what was suppose to be the final fate of Barry Allen unfolding then in the pages of the Crisis On Infinite Earths.



But, as with all things, endings can be new beginnings, as is always the case in comics, as Superman and Batman had their relationship redefined (first in Man of Steel #3 of November, 1986) and the former Kid Flash took over the mantle of the Flash, and, after a few adventures with other Legends (including Superman, Batman and the Suicide Squad), picked up his own title, Flash #1 (June, 1987)...proving "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"!


Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas With Dennis The Menace

May you have yourself a Merry Christmas, and find everything you want under your Christmas tree..

 ..not unlike Dennis the Menace on this Christmas cover from Dennis The Menace Giant #61 (Winter, 1968) from Fawcett Comics.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Skeletal Santa Claus

A slightly scary Santa Claus, a little thinner than normal... the highlight of this issue (and cover by Nick Cardy) of Witching Hour #28 (February, 1973).

Horror hostess Cynthia gives readers the tale of why you should "Never Kill Santa Claus" with art by Gerry Talaoc.

It appears that mall owner Mr. Cranston tries to make off with the holiday cash, and kills their poor old lovable Santa, Micah, right before the holiday, as he sees what the man was doing. Another Santa shows up, turning the tables on Mr. Cranston, sending him to a place that will give him much worse than coal in his stocking.