Monday, February 19, 2018

Holy Mount Rushmore, Batman

Batman and Robin have to stop Joker's nefarious scheme this President's add his own face to the four Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt) of Mount Rushmore!

This art first greeted viewers in the 1977 Super DC Calendar for February, and is by Ernie Chua and Frank Giacoia.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

In Action With King Krypton

Gorillas seem to always make a monkey out of Superman.  That was true in Action Comics #238 (March, 1958) when Superman met King Krypton, "The Super-Gorilla From Krypton" by Otto Binder, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, with a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye (who take liberties on the cover....King Krypton never wears the Superman costume).

Cub reporter Jimmy Olsen was on a safari in Africa, when his party was attacked by a, Jimmy used his signal watch to summon Superman, who caged the gorilla. 

But, the gorilla breaks the bars, and flies away! 

Superman finds a test rocket from Krypton, figuring that animal must be from his home world.  Jimmy names him King Krypton, the Gorilla of Steel, with Superman going to pursue him.  Superman stops King Krypton from attacking an airplane, then tries to wrap him in his cape, which the gorilla likes and takes. 

Meanwhile, Jimmy searches for Kryptonite to stop the beast and finds a tribe of ancient Romans, who have devolved into near barbarism...but, they have Kryptonite spearheads.  Superman comes to try to save Jimmy, but is also taken captive, as is King Krypton, who follows the Man of Steel.  The Romans bid Superman and King Krypton to fight, but Superman is too weakened by Kryptonite.  King Krypton comes to save him, turning into a man as he dies being exposed to the Kryptonite.  He was a scientist on Krypton trying to evolve himself forward, but instead turned himself into a gorilla, and his assistant launched him into space.  He dies, finally being a man again.

This story has been reprinted twice over the years, once in Superman Annual #7 (Summer, 1963) as part of a 25th Anniversary celebration...

....then again in Winter, 1976, as part of a collection of super gorilla stories, entitled Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas, along with stories of Flash and Batman.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Giant Lois Lane

True, it was still the title of Superman's Girl Friend, but even though Superman and Lois Lane loved each other, it was shown on a few occasions that Lois might love someone else, or that Superman might have someone else in his life...

....or that Lois would have to move on from Superman, as you can see on the cover of Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #113 (September-October, 1971) by Dick Giordano (which was also Giant #G-87, but not quite the 80-Page Giants of the past, as this one only had 68 pages.....).

Still, it brought back quite a few tales of love...

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #49

First up was "The Unknown Superman" from Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #49 (May, 1964) by an unknown writer and artist Kurt Schaffenberger.

Lois tests out a device by a Dr. Drolc, which allows her to trace talents, which she proves works.  So, she finds Strong Bear, an Indian man with super powers, and the two fall in love, then plan to marry.  Looking at the ring his tribe gives her, she realizes that Strong Bear really was Dr. Drolc, and others whom she had found during her testing.  Lois breaks the ring, and Strong Bear becomes a small blue alien man, the last survivor of the nuclear war which devastated his planet, who had been using the ring to take human form, allowing him to survive on Earth.  He did love Lois, but, without the ring, he was unable to survive on Earth and dies....

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #54

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #54 (January, 1965) is the next tale up, with "The Monster Who Loved Lois Lane" by Edmond Hamilton and Kurt Schaffenberger.

This time around, it was the inter-dimensional alien of Herko that falls for Lois, having been brought to Lois' dimension by Dr. Elder, and the super-strong and invulnerable alien immediately falls in love with Lois.  Lois leads Herko away from populated areas, giving Dr. Elder time to repair his machine.  Herko even proves a match for Superman for a bit, and, after the doctor finishes his repairs, Lois leads the love struck alien back to a portal to his own dimension, where he is heartbroken, having to live there without Lois Lane.

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #57

Next up is "The Return Of Lois' Monster Sweetheart" from Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #57 (May, 1965, by Edmond Hamilton and Kurt Schaffenberger, though that feature didn't make the cover...).

Feeling a little guilty about what she did to Herko, Lois goes to check up on him with help from Jimmy Olsen, but the two accidentally get trapped in Herko's dimension.  While there, Herko tries to renew his relationship with Lois, but Lois finds Zagga (a female member of Herko's race, who happens to love Herko).  Lois convinces Jimmy to try to woo Zagga, hoping to make Herko jealous and pursue Zagga, but this plan backfires, nearly resulting in a double wedding of Earthers and aliens.  Thankfully, Lois' makeup makes Herko sick, and he falls for Zagga as she helps him recover, while Dr. Elder fixes his machine to bring Lois and Jimmy home.

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #43

With Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #43 (August, 1963), Lois became "The Girl Who Mourned For Superman", in a story by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger (with another story not featured on the original cover of the issue).

This time around, an electrical experiment with the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club transports Lois to an alternate Earth (but this one was so similar, she wasn't aware she was on an alternate planet).   Here, Lex Luthor traps her, and is able to kill Superman (but dies in the process).  Lois lives there long enough to see a robot replace Superman, then a Kandorian....before she meets an ambassador from Atlantis (which had not sunk in this world).  Lois visits her doppleganger without revealing herself, and ends up back home after getting another unintentional electric shock.

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #41

The last Lois Lane story of this giant was from Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #41 (May, 1963), with "Superman's Romance With Lana Lane" by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and George Klein.

Wait a minute...Lana Lane?  Yes, a few years before this story, Lana and Lois were merged into one girl by an alien pendant, and Superman, realizing he is getting the best of both worlds, proposes to the merged woman (believing this change would be permanent).  Unfortunately, it was not, and Superman realized they would both die.  Superman came up with a way to save one with a magic statue, but thankfully radiation from a strange meteor safely separated the two, and Superman, confronted by the pair, refuses to admit which of them he would have saved.

Unpublished Flash/Rose And Thorn Story

There is part of one more story in this issue, an unpublished Flash Comics Rose And Thorn Story from the tail end of the Golden Age by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert.

At least, it is two pages of this story, with the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, saving Joan Williams from the evil Thorn, who turns back to her good side of Rose, with Flash giving Rose to Green Lantern to take to Wonder Woman's island, to make sure she is reformed. 

More on this Rose and Thorn, and her more modern version who was a heroic back-up in Lois Lane, is available here, and, if you loved this, more Giant Lois Lane fun can be found here, with the eventual results of that union of Green Lantern and Thorn pop up here, as Roy Thomas used this untold tale during his run on Infinity, Inc.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mad About Lincoln

Remembering President Abraham Lincoln on Lincoln's Day, with the 85th issue of Mad Magazine's cover by Norman Mingo from March, 1964!

Way to go, Alfred E!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

When Did Action Comics Overtake Detective Comics

Detective Comics was one of the first comics for what would become DC Comics (with a cover date of March, 1937), with Action Comics #1 (June, 1938) premiering Superman (with Detective Comics #16 coming out that month as well).

So, how is it that Action Comics is reaching 1000 before Detective Comics?

Well, that takes time to tell...

May, 1939

Superman shared the cover of Action Comics #12 with Zatara, the Magician, at the same time that Batman premiered in Detective Comics #27, with the difference in the issues being 15.

April, 1940

Superman fought his first battle with Luthor, who had a mane of red hair in Action Comics #23, while over in Detective Comics #38, Bruce Wayne attended the circus, where mobster Boss Zucco had the Flying Graysons killed, resulting in Dick Grayson becoming an orphan, eventually ending up as the junior partner of Batman, as Robin, the Boy Wonder.

September, 1942

Superman was dealing with an expanding DC Universe in Action Comics #52 (though, to be honest, Superman only met Mr. America, the Vigilante, Zatara and Congo Bill on the cover), while Batman and Robin were facing the fowl of crime, the Penguin in Detective Comics #67.

October, 1949

Superman spent his off hours with girl reporter, Lois Lane, as represented on the cover of Action Comics #137...

....while at the same time, on the cover of Detective Comics #152, Batman's girlfriend, Vicki Vale appeared, who was also a photographer at the time. 

Neither of them can see Action Comics gaining on Detective of yet.

November, 1955

Superman was advertising an amusement park in Action Comics #210, while Bruce Wayne had to pretend to be Batman in Detective Comics #225 (which was also the issue that premiered J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, who had many powers, but at times, was also police detective John Jones, making him a combination of Superman and Batman, as well as being a character that helped usher in the Silver Age).

July, 1958

Superman foe, the alien Brainiac, premiered in Action Comics #242, taking Superman's adventures out of this world at this time, while, over in Detective Comics #257, Batman and Robin dealt with time traveling Karko, as even Batman had to deal with fantastic menaces at this time.

May, 1959

Both Superman and Batman met characters that would change their lives this month.  In Action Comics #252, it was the premiere of Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, who would take the name of Linda Lee and live as Superman's secret weapon for a time (then be adopted by the Danvers, taking their surname, and become a heroine on her own as Superman revealed her to the world after her training), while over in Detective Comics #267, Batman and Robin met Batman's biggest extra-dimensional fan, Bat-Mite, who would continue to pop up and throw a monkey wrench into cases of Batman's.

May, 1964

Superman was facing really odd changes at this time, with Red Kryptonite putting him in odd situations like shown on the cover of Action Comics #312, with Supergirl as the sole back-up feature of the comic, while over in Detective Comics #327, Batman got his "new look", and added Flash's friend, the Elongated Man, as a back-up feature.  Still not sniffing out the mystery of any gains of Action Comics on Detective Comics.

March, 1968

It was because of Superman that Action started to gain on Detective.  Action Comics #360 was an extra issue that came out at the same time as Action Comics #361 (#360 was a Supergirl Giant, and #361 a normal issue of the month, with Superman fighting the Parasite for the second time), while Batman was frozen with only one issue this month, fighting Mr. Freeze in Detective Comics #373

There would be more of these extra issues with Supergirl in action!

March, 1969

The last of Supergirl's Action giants would be in this month, with Action Comics #373, while at the same time Superman was facing an identity crisis in Action Comics #374, while Batman, Robin and the relatively new Batgirl were working together in  Detective Comics #385 (at least on the cover, she helped the Dynamic Duo as Barbara Gordon inside the issue), as well as Batgirl having the back-up feature in the issue (and Batgirl would even work with Supergirl a few times on occasion....). 

So, now there are only 11 issues between the two series.

December, 1972

Superman was going strong at this time, as shown on this strong cover for Action Comics #419, while Batman, reeling from hits from the loss of his TV show years ago, was suffering as shown in this cover for Detective Comics #430.  Batman was getting a little tired at this time, with readership of Detective being down, and that would cause trouble for the Caped Crusader soon....

August, 1973

While Superman was still able to leap tall buildings in a single bound in Action Comics #426, with his title remaining monthly, Batman was suffering, as his title started to go bimonthly with Detective Comics #436, leaving Batman scared for his future, and allowing Superman and his title to start to catch up.

February, 1975

This was a special month for many a reason.  Green Lantern was a guest star with Superman in his monthly in Action Comics #444, while Batman was accused of being a murderer in Detective Comics #445, in the start of a manhunt for the detective, which was also the last time that the issue number of Detective Comics was larger that that of Action Comics.

April, 1975

Starting this month, Action and Detective were both monthly books again, and just in time.  Superman still had to deal with a nosy Lois Lane in Action Comics #446, while Batman was still being pursued as a "Bat-Murderer" in  Detective Comics #446, and this was the beginning of a run where Action and Detective had the same issue number, and this would go on for a while.

January, 1977

This is the last month that Action and Detective were at the same number.  Superman was feeling his control grow, being a little bit of a menace himself in Action Comics #467, while Batman was dealing with an imposter in Detective Comics #467, as well as meeting up with back-up feature star, Hawkman, setting the stage for the finale of a tale that had been going through the back-up features of Detective Comics at this time.

March, 1977

This was the month that Action overtook Detective.  Superman was in the middle of a monthly trilogy fighting Terra-Man in Action Comics #469, while Batman has his friends, the Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman help him deal with his demotion to bimonthly status (as well as the Calculator) in Detective Comics #468 (while Bruce Wayne dealt with WGBS's Morgan Edge, having a little bit of a Superman crossover within this issue, though Superman was not in the issue). 

Superman's Action would continue to gain as Batman's Detective remained bimonthly for a time, but there were more reasons for the larger gap....which we can go into at a later time.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Action Comics Centennial 300 and 400

This time around, continuing our celebration of Action Comics and its many hundreds of issues...

...with a look back at Action Comics #300 and #400, with adventures of the classic Silver Age Superman!

Action Comics 300

The anniversary issue, Action Comics #300 (May, 1963), with a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein, was indeed a special one, as by this time, Action Comics was dominated by Superman and his family.

Superman was featured in the main story, "Superman Under The Red Sun" by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino, wherein the Man of Steel ends up in the far future thanks to the machinations of the Superman Revenge Squad, where Superman is the last man on Earth (and does not possess his powers, as Earth's sun has turned red).  This story details Superman's fight to survive and get to his Fortress of Solitude, wherein he is able to use a rocket there and some Red Kryptonite to get home.

There is also back up story, featuring Supergirl and one of the earliest appearances of Comet the Super-Horse!

Action Comics 400

The cover for Action Comics #400 (May, 1971) is an odd one, done by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.

The main story of the issue, "My Son...Is He Man Or Beast?" is by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, where Superman becomes the guardian to Gregor Nagy, the son of a scientist who dies.  Gregor becomes the Changling, randomly changing into animals, until Superman helps him learn to control his power, and teaches the boy the morality to be a hero, as Gregor sacrifices his life to save others.

This issue also features a tale of the bottle city of Kandor, where Superman and Supergirl tell of two Kandorian students who learn the value of working together.     

Check back as we continue going up the numbers of Action Comics until it reaches 1000 in April!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thank A Mail Carrier Day 2018

Today we thank our letter carriers for their service, but none more so than Calvin Jackson, "Earth Hero Number One" (as of Strange Adventures #148 of January, 1963 by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, with a cover by Murphy Anderson), as future students of the school named after him  look back to the day he saved the Earth from alien invaders!

Better still, this story has been reprinted twice, once in Super DC Giant #27 of the Summer of 1976 (with a cover by Ernie Chan), and once in the U.F.O Invaders Digest (DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #14 of October, 1981, with a cover by Joe Kubert), giving even more people a chance to review the historical record....