Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Happy Vinyl Record Day 2020

Happy Vinyl Record Day today!

Here's hoping you treat your classics a little better than Debbi Anderson's boyfriend, Buddy Baxter did, when he fixed her phonograph, here on the cover to Date With Debbi #13 (January-February, 1971) by Stan Goldberg and Henry Scarpelli.

This, from a time when DC tried to get in on a little of Archie Comics action; with light humor comics based around teenage adventures.

Date With Debbi lasted 18 issues, from January-February 1969 to October-November 1972!


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Batman Vs The Atomic Man

Back in the 1950s, everything was a "menace", and flourished on "atomic" power...

...and, the Batman comics of the time reflected society's thoughts, but none moreso than an early 1960s issue of Detective Comics, wherein Batman faced the Atomic-Man!

The Menace Of The Atomic Man

In Detective Comics #280 (June, 1960 with no identified writer, but art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, and cover by Moldoff), The story begins with the Atomic-Man taking out the float business of Henry Hayes, who calls in Batman and Robin to help save him.  

Batman, using the distinct features of Atomic-Man's ears, places him as Paul Strobe, an engineer Batman put in jail seven years ago as he defrauded Hayes, and his partners Barker and Jenkins.  Strobe vowed revenge, and invented his atomic goggles which allowed him to transmute items by staring at them (but his goggles only worked for two hours before needing recharging).

With this knowledge, Batman and Robin went to protect Barker's business (now a shipping mogul).  Sadly, that did not go well, with Batman having to make a daring escape from the now floating ship (that Atomic-Man had made lighter than air).  

Still, trying again, Batman and Robin confronted Atomic-Man as he attempted to destroy the art of Jenkins, moving up Atomic-Man's timetable, turning Batman's cowl to glass to expose his identity.  Batman still stopped the Atomic-Man, and removed his helmet once its two hours of power was up.  Feeling he at least revealed Batman's identity, Batman corrected him, as Batman said he had seen Strobe turn other things to glass, so was wearing make up to hide his own identity!

Usual story for that era of Batman
(filled with invasions and transformations, but, amazingly, Atomic-Man didn't make another regular comic appearance (unlike many of these obscure Batman villains, who at least made it to Batman's Lego Movie, though he did make it into Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon, in "A Bat Divided!").

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Kobra One Plus One

As Jack Kirby left DC in the 1970s, he left them a little present with an inventory story (co-plotted by Steve Sherman)....which was modified by writer Marty Pasko (who put in his own words over Kirby's) and some art changes in the first issue by artist Pablo Marcos...that of Kobra (originally planned to be King Kobra, but don't want to put on airs!).

Here's a look at the first two issues of the Kobra series....

Fangs Of The Kobra

The saga begins in Kobra #1 (February-March, 1976, with cover by Ernie Chan, story by Pasko, plot and pencils by Kirby with Sherman plot assist, inks by D. Bruce Berry, and modifications and additional inks by Marcos), with hitman Horst Buchner and associates descending into the lair of the Cobra Cult in the bowels of Manhattan, where they meet the cult leader, Kobra, where Kobra shows his wares, such as a shrunken Mastodon from Atlantis and a giant alien robot Servitor....which he uses to kill Buchner and his men for their treachery. 

Instead of using Horst to kill Jason Burr, Kobra sends the Servitor after him.  Meanwhile, at the college cafeteria, Lt. Perez of a special NYPD task force is talking to 23 year old Jason Burr, informing Burr that he needs his the Servitor attacks Burr,  but the pain his crushing grip causes Jason makes Kobra stop the attack (which, along with a shot from Perez) causes the robot to self-destruct. 

Lt. Perez continues his plea with Jason...informing him that Kobra is Jason's twin brother (taken from the hospital where they born in New Delhi by the Cobra Cult, destined to become their leader). 

The Cult trained unnamed Burr over the years (with injuries gotten by one shared by the other via a sympathetic bond between the two which had them sharing feelings).    Kobra, now realizing he cannot kill Jason, plans to put him in an isolation room, as Jason forces a meeting between the two by burning his own hand....and, at the meeting, Perez and his men try to kill Kobra.  Kobra escapes via his flying Kobra Ark, and Jason deals with his new life.

Code Name: Gemini

Kobra #2
(April-May, 1976) sports another Ernie Chan cover, with interiors by Martin Pasko, Chic Stone and Pablo Marcos.  The issue begins with a dream confrontation between Jason and Kobra, with Kobra killing Jason (and himself) in a mirrored combat room.  Awakening at Merrill Hall campus housing, Jason is comforted by his girlfriend, Melissa. 

Kobra awakens in his Ark, having had the same dream as Jason, and feels the comfort Melissa is giving Jason (with Kobra having ties to her and a look-a-like named Natalie whom he loved, who had died). 

But, Kobra's reflection ends as he must deal with Solaris, a villain trying to steal the Heliotron from a lab at the New York Fairgrounds.  The Cobra Cult fights Solaris' men as Kobra faces Solaris, with Solaris getting away with the Heliotron due to an incompetent Cobra Cult member.  Meanwhile, Jason fills in Melissa about recent events (all from the last issue) as Lt. Perez arrives to enlist Jason's help. 

Back at his Manhattan base, Kobra tortures his failing lackey in the isolation chamber.  Back at Jason's dorm, Perez apologizes for the attempt to kill Kobra, and explains that Kobra is after Solaris' Heliotron (Solaris having been a NASA engineer who created the Heliotron, a solar based devise that could advance age in a person). 

Solaris plans on using it to blackmail New York, threatening to unleash the device on Long Island, but Perez asks Jason to help, even giving him a super suit to help (though Jason doesn't take to the code name of Gemini).  As Solaris and Kobra battle in the skies over Long Island, Perez bring Jason to lure Kobra out of his Ark, which he does by going out in his flying super suit....right towards the beam of the Heliotron beam....which Kobra must save Jason from.  Kobra comes out of the ship to save Jason, but the beam strikes Jason's jet pack, and the two plummet to the ground....

....a heck of cliffhanger to end on, but perhaps there will be more Kobra "Koverage" coming in the future, as this seven issue series from Conway's Corner (having had a first issue planned to be in First Issue Special three times, but instead got its own title).

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Celebrate International Beer Day With The Thing

Hoist a cold one, not unlike the Thing, as today is International Beer Day!

Here, in Marvel Two-In-One #86 (April, 1982; by Tom DeFalco, Ron Wilson and Chic Stone), instead of fighting, the Thing and Sandman discuss the mistakes Sandman had in his life that led to his being a super-villain....all over a cold one at the local pub.

It's not all fights, as people can sit down and hash one out over a beer!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

First Issue Plus One: Warlord

It's a simple enough finds incredible land...a jungle paradise with an eternal sun...a beautiful woman...and more dinosaurs and other menaces to shake a sword at for a score of lifetimes....that is the saga of the Warlord!

But, that's the overall story....time to take a look back at the first couple of issues that featured Travis Morgan, and his time in Skartaris!

Land Of Fear

The saga of the Warlord begins in 1st Issue Special #8 (November, 1975; by Mike Grell), starting where most barbarian sagas start...., on June 16th, 1969, with Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel Travis Morgan, piloting his SR-71 over Russia, to take pictures of a secret installation, then being followed by the Russian Air Force, damaging his plane over the tundra, forcing him to make a desperate attempt escape over the North Pole as his fuel was leaking out...wait....what?

Yes, this starts a sword and sorcery book.  As Morgan goes over the North Pole, his compass becomes useless, and he follows the horizon....until he spots a cloudy land in the water, and figures that's where he can safely eject, but he had no idea that he'd end up in a tropical jungle. 

Even bigger surprise as he checked his supplies in his survival vest....that of a beautiful young barbarian woman fighting a dinosaur!  Morgan joined the fight, distracting the dinosaur enough for the woman to finish it.  Times didn't get any easier, as the pair were set upon by armed soldiers, whom Morgan used most of his ammunition against, but the two eventually were took to King Baldur of Thera and his high priest, Deimos, where Morgan used his last bullet against a sphere of Deimos' that was probing Morgan's mind. 

The two were kept together as prisoners, and Tara (the young barbarian woman) taught Morgan their language, and of Skartaris, the world of the eternal sun, while Morgan tried to explain to her his plane, and that this world likely was inside his, where he came through an opening over slowly sloping ground (crazy, right?).  After assassins tried to kill the pair, Tara and Morgan escaped, planning to go to Tara's land of Shamballah....and into the next issue!

This Savage World

Warlord #1
(January-February, 1976 by Mike Grell) continued the saga of the Warlord, as he and Tara continued the trek to Shamballah, with Tara teaching Morgan swordplay along the way as the pair grew closer (Tara was quickly becoming the love of Morgan's life).

Along the way, they had to avoid dinosaurs and slave traders, seeking refuge in a cave.  There, Tara showed Morgan a crude compass she had. 

As they rested for the night, Tara was hypnotically taken by a satyr.  Thankfully, Morgan was awoken by the music, followed her trail, and ended the menace.  But, when they returned to their cave, the slave traders had found it, and, after a fierce battle, captured the duo to take them to the slave markets.  Using his titanium dog tag chain, Morgan started to work on breaking Tara's bond, eventually being discovered, but still being able to free her.  Putting her on a horse, Morgan sent her off as he faced the slave traders.  Eventually, Morgan succumbed to the superior force.  In revenge for the lives he cost them (as well as Tara and what her sale would have made them)....they left Morgan to die.....and readers waiting for the next issue!

Yes, the next issue did resolve that cliffhanger, and started a trend of Morgan fighting for freedom, and his making friends, starting with the warrior king, Machiste, who helped him train in the slave pits, and the two found freedom.  More friends came, including Russian archeologist and spy Mariah (who was a saber champion), and even Shakira, a woman who could turn into a cat (or is that a cat who could turn into a woman?) with knowledge of ancient Atlantis (the source of the advanced technology found all around Skartaris).  Morgan even found his plane wreckage, and a gun with an incredible amount of ammunition!

Morgan reunited with Tara, and fought Deimos (many times), and even had his daughter from the surface, Jennifer Morgan, come look for him....and, after Morgan's last encounter with Deimos, Jennifer learned real magic from Ashiya (who used real magic for Deimos, as he mostly used Atlantean technology before his encounter with Morgan).

The Warlord saga would unfold over 133 issues and 6 annuals in its original run, the first 50 written and drawn by Mike Grell, (and well after Grell left, touching the Crisis on Infinite Earths and more of the DC Universe, though not meeting other 1st Issue Special alumni like Atlas, Lady Cop, Manhunter or the Dingbats; though Dr. Fate , Power Girl and even Orion and the New Gods might fit in). 

With plenty of swords, sorcery and science all mixed together, and starting with the second issue, a two-page spread to start the issues, then later, along with a motto that should serve you well anywhere, anytime..."In the savage world of Skartaris, life is a constant struggle for survival.  Here, beneath an unblinking orb of eternal sunlight, one simple law prevails:  if you let your guard down for an instant you will soon be very dead.".

Monday, July 27, 2020

Happy 80th Anniversary Bugs Bunny

Happy 80th Anniversary to Bugs Bunny!

While in more recent years, he's appeared with some of his "super friends" as a part of the greater Warner Brothers universe....Bugs Bunny has had quite the history!

While Bugs had appeared a few times with Porky Pig starting in 1938 as Happy Rabbit, the first feature starring Bugs Bunny (as such) was in Tex Avery's "A Wild Hare" that came out on July 27, 1940, with Bugs voiced by Mel Blanc, facing off against one of his most persistent foes.....Elmer Fudd!

Bugs Bunny had his first foray into comics back in the 1940s, as one of many features in Dell's Four Color Comics, where he continued well into the 1950s, when he got his own series starting with issue #28 in December-January 1952/1953 (starting there because he had 27 Four Color issues!).

Gold Key/Whitman kept the Bugs Bunny title running from the 1960s to the 1980s, running issues #86 (October, 1962) to the title's end in 1983 with #245.

Still, this wasn't the end for that rascally rabbit!

DC started some Bugs Bunny tales with a 3 issue series starting in June, 1990, continuing on with specials, one-shots and Looney Toons comics.....

....and the party will likely be going on well into the future!


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Archie's Baseball Trouble

Baseball has returned for an abbreviated season, but it couldn't be short enough for Archie Andrews!

He's already in trouble with Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper in this Betty and Veronica Summer Fun cover from Bob White for Archie Giant Series Magazine #28 (September, 1964).