Thursday, August 16, 2018

Batman Vs. The Batmobile

Usually, a man can count on his car, but not so for Batman in this very odd issue of Detective Comics, where Batman faced off against the Batmobile!

What's worse, is that it wasn't only the Batmobile, but all of Batman's crime-fighting weapons he was facing, as Batman and Robin had to deal with the time that "The Outsider Strikes Again" in Detective Comics #340 (June, 1965) by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.

The Outsider was a villain of Batman's who seemed to have many mind over matter powers, turning all of Batman and Robin's weapons like their Batarangs and Bat-ropes against them, then the weapon would turn to dust after facing the Dynamic Duo.  Luckily, Batman realized that dust could stop the Outsider's control, so had dust bombs ready to counter the Outsider's attacks.

The Outsider was a serialized villain of the Batman's during his "new look" era, running on and off (and mostly off panel) from Detective Comics #334 (December, 1964) to Detective Comics #356 (October, 1966), with his identity being a mystery, but being someone close to Batman. 

Check back, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, and the mystery of the Outsider may be revealed! 


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Batman Meets Black Canary

Batman had been at times a lonely vigilante, but, every once in a while, he was able to get some help, from a fellow member of the Justice League.  Black Canary had accepted many changes in her life, and after joining the JLA, was willing to work with her new teammates.

So, team ups between these two were a great idea, and made for many a fun issue of Brave and the Bold.

Time to take a look at their meetings!

Brave and the Bold 91

Batman's first solo team-up with Black Canary happened in Brave and the Bold #91 (August-September, 1970) as the duo had to deal with "A Cold Corpse For The Collector" by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy.

This issue has Batman dealing with criminal syndicates, with the Collector, a hit man, taking out mob boss Rhymer's men.  Meanwhile, Black Canary was getting use to life on Earth-1, chasing down Larry Lance, the man, who on the alternate world of Earth-2, was her husband (or so she thought, later changes made this....odd).  Still, at the time, Dinah Lance was looking for Larry, who was also looking for the Collector....or, was he?  With Black Canary running interference for him, it is true Larry could purse the Collector unfettered, but, it was also preventing Batman from finding the Collector.  The pair realized...Larry was the Collector, with Lance dying accidentally during a fight with the Batman.  This also helped Dinah realize her old life was gone (and along with her JLA appearances at the time, was also working with Green Lantern and Green Arrow in their title).



Brave and the Bold 100

In fact, Black Canary's return to B&B had her working with Green Lantern and Green Arrow as well as Batman and Robin in Brave and the Bold #100 (February-March, 1972) in a story by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo (under a cover by Nick Cardy) entitled "The Warrior In A Wheel-Chair".

As Batman is taken out by a sniper's bullet, with only the talented Dr. Hellstrom between health, paralysis or death for the Caped Crusader, Batman's friends had to come to the forefront to stop a shipment of cocaine into Gotham.  None of the leads pans out for any of them, but Batman is about to undergo an operation, when he realizes his doctor is really the druglord, Belknap, trying to finish off the Batman.  The other heroes stop him, and Green Lantern goes to get the real doctor, who finds Belknap's stash in the equipment in the operating room.  After the operation, Batman recuperates, thanking his friends for the help.




Brave and the Bold 107

Black Canary returned to B&B in Brave and the Bold #107 (June-July, 1973) by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, as the pair dealt with "The 3 Million Dollar Sky".


Plane hijacker Willie Kresh wants 3 million dollars and the release of Monk Devlin.  Batman and Black Canary sneak aboard the flight as a pilot and stewardess to stop the theft, but the plane crashes, with Batman and Black Canary having to stop the crooks, and recover the money from a local bandit.  By luck, the heroes win this one, as the criminals turn on each other, with Willie and Monk killing each other, leaving the money and their corpses to be taken home by the heroes.



Brave and the Bold 141

To see the next team-up of Batman and Black Canary, you had to "Pay -- Or Die", or just read Brave and the Bold #141 (May-June, 1978) by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo (after giving your retailer 35 cents, at the time).

Batman is investigating the deaths of some Gotham businessmen, as Black Canary also has one of her business partner's murdered, so the two team up and find that they all had been in debt to a loan shark by the name of Mr. Longreen.  They then realize that "Longreen" is really a possessor of a "long grin"....the Joker!  Batman then volunteers his butler Alfred to get a loan, so the heroes can track how Joker gets his victims.  Sadly, that way is found...that Joker doses his victims with a slow acting chemical that will cause them to explode if they don't get a cure.  As Black Canary almost finds the Joker in his hideout, she gets captured, making Batman work to save her and capture the Joker instead of saving Alfred.  Joker is overjoyed that he'll get to watch Alfred die, until Batman realizes the cure is in Joker's blood, which he give some of to Alfred via a transfusion.  This saves Alfred, who is none too happy to have Joker blood in his veins.



Brave and the Bold 166

Black Canary's last team up with Batman in B&B was in Brave and the Bold #166 (September, 1980) in "Requiem For 4 Canaries" by Michael Fleisher, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin (all under a stunning Jim Aparo cover, in an issue that also featured the premiere of Nemesis in a separate story).

Batman deals with a breakout at Gotham State Penitentiary, capturing most of the escapees except for the Penguin, who Batman deduces might be headed to Star City in search of his four former henchmen who turned against him.  That is true, as Penguin is beginning a crime spree in Star City, using a canary theme, which is when Black Canary catches wind of his scheme, as Penguin gets his first of 4 victims.  Working with Batman when he arrives, the pair still fail to save the second of Penguin's targets.  Penguin then changes tactics, instead trying to eliminate Batman....by sending Black Canary after him?  Well, to be fair, Penguin had kidnapped Black Canary first, then sent out a look-a-like in Dinah's costume to kill Batman, but he stopped her, and went to Penguin's hideout to defeat the fowl bird....and loan a scantily clad Black Canary his cape until she can get her costume back, earning Batman a kiss for his chivalry.

It's Black Canary's occasional attraction to Batman that might explain why Batman/Green Arrow team-ups are sometimes less cordial, though, to be fair, Black Canary has also had problems with Batman's paramour, Catwoman.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Superman Exposed On Candid Camera

Smile!  You're on Candid Camera...

...this phrase (and the TV Show, hosted by Allen Funt) premiered on CBS on August 10th, 1948, but even Superman almost got caught by it...

....as this cover by Curt Swan and George Klein of Action Comics #345 (January, 1967) shows!

In "The Day Candid Camera Unmasked Superman's Identity" by Leo Dorfman and Al Plastino,  Superman helps Allen Funt play a prank on Perry White, by making the Daily Planet disappear.  But, like all pranksters, Superman messes himself up, as Perry plans with Allen, setting up a false robbery, and accidentally catching Clark Kent changing to Superman! 

This causes Clark some headache, until he shows he's wearing Batman's pants, claiming to be pulling a prank on Allen Funt!


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Spider-Man Meets Mr. Fantastic And Invisible Girl Of The Fantastic Four

With the return of Reed and Sue Richards this week as a part of the Fantastic Four, now's a good enough time to see how Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl (as she was at the time, only more recently being the Invisible Woman) met up with New York's favorite wall-crawler, the amazing and spectacular Spider-Man!

Stretching Out

First up is Mr. Fantastic, who worked solo with Spider-Man first in Marvel Team-Up #17 (January, 1974) with "Chaos At The Earth's Core" by Len Wein, Gil Kane and "Everybody" (inkers Sal Trapani, Frank Giacoia and Mike Esposito).

Due to events of the previous issue, Spidey headed to the Baxter Building for help, finding a lonely Mr. Fantastic there (the team had recently split up in the FF's own title).  Spidey relays to Reed his problem....that he was fighting a villain called the Basilisk, and the original Captain Marvel got trapped within the Omega-Stone and disappeared.  Spidey hoped Reed would help him find Cap and the stone, which he does, locating them in the center of the Earth.  The two take a Fantasti-Car there, where they are captured by Mole Man's Moloids.  Taken to their leader, Mole Man explains his plan to use the power of the Omega Stone to crack the Earth....but the heroes break free, fight Mole Man, and then the Basilisk as well (who followed the heroes looking for the stone).  Within the stone, Captain Marvel finally touches his nega-bands, which switches his body with that of Rick Jones, and without Cap's Kree energies powering it, the stone shrinks in size and frees Rick.  The Mole Man/Basilisk battle unleashes a lava flow, one taking the Basilisk away with the stone, the other trapping Mole Man, and Spidey, Reed and Rick leave in the Fantasti-Car, with Rick explaining his situation outside the mine shaft, turning into Captain Marvel, who flies away.

The Human Torch appears in the next issue (meeting the Hulk, one of Johnny's many non-Spider-Man team-ups), while Sue and the Thing's time while the Fantastic Four are split is covered in Fantastic Four #142 (and some THING tells me that the Basilisk will return sometime later as well...).



She's Not There

While the Thing and Human Torch have a few team-ups with Spidey, finally the Invisible Girl gets a solo shot in Marvel Team-Up #88 (December, 1979) when "A Child Is Waiting" by Chris Claremont, Sal Buscema and Eduardo Barreto.

Covering a society luncheon as photographer Peter Parker, Spidey sees Hank "Yellowjacket" Pym, Janet "Wasp" Van Dyne and Sue Richards, the Invisible Girl.  Sue gets distracted by a phone call, which Peter overhears, finding out the call was from Alicia Masters (the Thing's girlfriend), and that a group of thugs had kidnapped Sue's son, Franklin, from Alicia.  Sue heads to Alicia's, where the thugs call, informing Sue how to steal from the crime family Maggia, so that she can pay to get her son back.  Spidey follows, coming up with a plan to thwart the kidnappers.

The Invisible Girl still takes the money from the Maggia, then follows the kidnappers instructions to go to Yankee Stadium during a double header, where she keeps Spider-Man invisibly next to her, so that he can trail the pick-up man.  He does this, and follows the man out of the stadium, changing to Peter Parker as Sue can only keep him invisible for so long.  Peter follows him to near their headquarters (with Sue following him via one of his trackers), changing back to Spider-Man after he thinks he lost him (but Sue saw where he went).  The two work together to save Franklin from the kidnappers, then the Maggia thugs who came to retrieve their money, with Spidey being able to turn them all over to the police as Sue and Franklin disappear.

A Family Gathering

Next up, Spidey works with the whole Fantastic Four and then some in Marvel Team-Up #100 (December, 1980) by Chris Claremont, Frank Miller and Bob Wiacek, "And Introducing - Karma! She Possess People".

This tale introduces Karma, Vietnamese mutant Xi'an Coy Manh, who uses her power to possess people first on Spider-Man, to try to free her brothers and sister from captivity....then, after finding out he was not such a menace as he battles the Fantastic Four, regrets her action, but ends up helping Spider-Man against her brother, Tran, who has the same powers, and uses the Fantastic Four against them.  Karma eventually defeats her brother, and frees her other siblings, with the Fantastic Four turning them over to Professor X of the X-Men, so he can help the young mutant.

This issue also has a second story, wherein Black Panther meets Storm (both now, and in a flashback to when they were young in a story by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Bob McLeod.



Two In One

Spidey and Mr. Fantastic work together again in Marvel Team-Up #132 (August, 1983) facing "The Common Denominator" by J. M. DeMatteis, Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito.

Captain America foe, Everyman, attacked his uncle, Reed Richards, in the Baxter Building, having had his powers restored in the mental hospital he was staying in by the doctor who was treating him.  Everyman steals Mr. Fantastic's intellect.  Spider-Man shows up after Everyman starts stealing the lifeforce of people around the Baxter Building, going inside to help Reed.  The two battle Everyman, with Reed eventually regaining his intellect as they make Everyman realize he was killing everyone in the crowd to battle them.  Everyman escapes, and Reed promises to find who had been influencing his nephew, Larry Ekler.



Feeling Alone

This team-up continues in Marvel Team-Up #133 (September, 1983) with "The World According To...Faustus!" by J. M. DeMatteis, Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito.

Mr. Fantastic wants to find whoever was hurting Larry "Everyman" Ekler, but declines Spider-Man's help.  Spidey leaves, promising Reed that he'd gladly be there if he needs him.  Reed tracks down where Larry was being treated, and takes the Fantasti-Car to the institute, which is being run by Dr. Faustus (a foe of Captain America, who is working for the Secret Empire, and relating to his mother his plan to defeat the Fantastic Four....but is a little upset that only Mr. Fantastic has come).  Reed uses his stretching abilities to save Spider-Man, who seemed to come to help, attaching himself to the Fantasti-Car, but falling as they arrived.  Reed is also suffering from headaches, which he thinks is a side effect of Everyman's attack.  The heroes encounter the Human Torch, who says he just escaped the institute, and that the doctor his holding Ben, Sue and Franklin as well.  This puts Reed in a panic, when he and Spidey go inside, and find the Thing shackled, who says Sue and Franklin are further in.  Reed leaves Spidey to care for Johnny and Ben, and goes to look for his family. 

The other three quickly join, no matter their depleted condition, and find the Invisible Girl in shock, where Reed tries to find out where Franklin is.  Then, Doctor Doom appears with Franklin, mocking Mr. Fantastic, and taking off his mask...to reveal he is Reed Richards!  The villain then has the rest of the FF killed, traumatizing Reed, who goes to console Franklin, who pulls a gun and shoots his father, who falls unconscious!

How...bizarre.  Except that this is when Dr. Faustus reveals himself, as he tells Reed and his mom of his plan, to introduce these androids to confuse Mr. Fantastic, and, with this "Spider-Man" being one of Faustus' henchmen (who was really on the grounds, not on the Fantasti-Car).  Dr. Faustus touts his victory to his mom, but Mr. Fantastic was only feigning unconsciousness, as he had figured out the plan, and defeats Faustus, looking up to where he was talking too, but....finding no one there (as Faustus had likely only imagined his mom there, showing the doctor had a need to heal himself).



Of course, Spider-Man also had individual team-ups with the Human Torch and the Thing, but "Four" now, those fantastic tales are something we can look back at in the future.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Martian Manhunter Meets Green Arrow And The Flash

Martian Manhunter was once a rising star at DC Comics.  A charter member of the Justice League of America, J'onn J'onzz was also one of two characters who was picked to start a new team-up magazine feature in Brave and the Bold, and he was the first of those two characters to return to the title....

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

Brave and the Bold 50

First up is Brave and the Bold #50 (October-November, 1963), where the Martian Manhunter worked with Green Arrow (and his partner, Speedy), in "Wanted -- The Capsule Master" by Bob Haney and George Roussos.

Green Arrow and Speedy have some problems with three super powers criminals in Star City who steal a meteor.  Thinking they might be aliens, Green Arrow calls in his JLA teammate, the Martian Manhunter, for help, but the three beat the bowmen again, as their leader, Vulkor, defeats J'onn J'onzz.  J'onn uses Dr. Erdel's machine to go back to Mars to learn about the villains as Green Arrow and Speedy face them again, this time with the villains capturing Green Arrow, with a mental compulsion placed in his mind to work against the Martian Manhunter.  As planned, Green Arrow works against the Martian Manhunter when next they meet, but J'onn disguises himself as Green Arrow, which allows him to get close enough to Vulkor to defeat him, while knowing their enemies are Martians, allows Green Arrow and Speedy to use their knowledge of J'onn, and Martian's weakness to flame, to stop the criminals.  Then, the Martian Manhunter takes them back to Mars for imprisonment.

Brave and the Bold 56

The second (and last) of Martian Manhunter's appearances in B&B was in Brave and the Bold #56 (October-November, 1964) where J'onn and the Flash have to deal with the "Raid Of The Mutant Marauders" (by Bob Haney and Bernard Baily).

Flash and the Martian Manhunter are attending a fair with an exhibit on the Justice League, when they have to face an alien mutant android that manifests the powers of the Justice League members two at a time.  Even worse, the alien turned its rocket into a bomb, that was going to explode, and destroy the Earth.  J'onn flies to Argon, the home of the creature, to learn of its history, and that the planet was ruled by Tatania.  To attempt to fool the creature into leaving Earth, J'onn calls on Hawkgirl (who's husband, Hawkman, just joined the JLA) to disguise herself as Tatania, to convince the menace to leave Earth.  Only problem is the creature sees through the disguise, and almost detonates the bomb, before the real queen arrives, wherein the android destroys himself on command, saving Earth from the bomb.


Now, Green Arrow would return time and time again to team-up with Batman (being his partner in B&B most often; though Flash tried to give Green Arrow a run for his money).  Flash had the uniqueness of being the second most used host of B&B after Batman....but, sadly, the Martian Manhunter never returned to meet Batman in B&B, though J'onn did meet with Superman solo, once in World's Finest Comics, and once in DC Comics Presents.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Giant Justice League of America The Fourth

This time, looking back the Justice League's 80 Page Giants takes us to a very special initiation themed issue for its fourth Giant (80 Page Giant #G-53)....with "the super struggles of Green Arrow, Atom and Hawkman to win membership in the JLA!".

With a cover by Neal Adams, Justice League of America #67 (November-December, 1968) was indeed a very special issue, as it showcased the cases that added members to the team.

Justice League of America 4

The first addition to the JLA was Green Arrow, which happened in Justice League of America #4 (April-May, 1961), with the case of the "Doom Of The Star Diamond" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a cover by Murphy Anderson.

Carthan, the hero of the planet Dryanna, finds himself exiled from his home planet by its leader, Xandor.  Ending up on Earth, Carthan finds the aura that gives him his invulnerability also prevents him from recruiting the JLA for help.  So, instead, he kidnaps Green Arrow and unleashes menaces across Earth, tied to golden boxes that keep Carthan on Earth, hoping the JLA will destroy them, freeing him from Earth.  While the other heroes stop the menaces, Superman and Batman try to free Green Arrow, but as the rest of the team arrives, all end up trapped in a giant diamond, and only Green Arrow's archery skills can free the team, which he does, allowing Carthan to return home to face his enemy, and Green Arrow to join the team.  Green Arrow was more active in his next adventure (reprinted in the first JLA Giant), and with Snapper Carr, later learned the origin of the JLA (reprinted in an 80 Page Giant devoted to Secret Origins).

Justice League of America 14

The JLA faced "The Menace Of The 'Atom' Bomb" in Justice League of America #14 (September, 1962) when they inducted the Atom, in a story by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a cover by Murphy Anderson.


The Atom wasn't the villain of the issue, in fact, though they voted him into the League unanimously, none of the Leaguers could remember who the Atom was.  Green Lantern uses his power ring to search for information on the Tiny Titan, while Martian Manhunter heads to Ivy Town to find the diminutive hero (where, the citizens of the town, including the Atom, don't remember him either....).  The villain behind this is "Mr. Memory", who used his De-Memorizer on them all, who also recruits Green Lantern foe Hector Hammond, Flash rogue Pied Piper, Aquaman menace Sea-Thief, Wonder Woman villain Angle Man and Green Arrow nemesis Dr. Davis to capture the team.  Mr. Memory captures Martian Manhunter as he was approaching the Atom, who escapes by shrinking into a sub-atomic world, which restores the Atom's memory.  The Atom follows Mr. Memory to his hide out, and is captured and nearly used as a weapon to kill the JLA members held captive, but they escape, capturing Mr. Memory....who is Batman!  Batman had been captured off-panel by the Joker, had his memory messed with and used against the team, by the real villain of the piece, the JLA's foe, Professor Amos Fortune, whose first appearance was reprinted in the third JLA Giant.



Justice League of America 31

Last, but not least, is the induction of the third new member, Hawkman, which happened in Justice League of America #31 (November, 1964) as they faced the "Riddle Of The Runaway Room" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson.

By this time, the team was getting so large, that even though they all voted Hawkman in (and, sadly, denied Hawkgirl membership by a "no similar powers clause", which held for years), only some of the members worked on Hawkman's first case. To be fair, it shouldn't have taken the entire League to stop small time crook Joe Perry, but nearly did.  Still, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Hawkman first fought crooks using odd hoops that transported them into the future, and, after stopping them, headed back to their Secret Sanctuary to analyze the case....only to find themselves and part of their HQ thrown into space.  All because of Joe Perry and an alien device that he found, which allowed him to manifest his thoughts, who then came up with the "Super-Duper", a being with Batman's torso, Wonder Woman's head and lasso, Flash's legs, Green Lantern's arms and power ring, and Hawkman's wings to battle the team.  Hawkman figured out a way to defeat the composite menace and its master, ending his induction to the League.

The League would add more members (soon, such as Black Canary and Elongated Man) as charter members like Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter went on leave, as well as have more Giant issues though the issues wouldn't be quite as giant either!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Shazam! It's August

True, the Shazam! movie, with Billy Batson as the young hero who becomes a mighty mortal (Captain Marvel in the comics), isn't coming out until April, 2019...

....but, this Neal Adams/Dick Giordano drawing headlined the month of August in the 1976 Super DC Calendar, and Holy Moley, it was too good to wait!

His sister, Mary, was featured in a 1976 calendar with a few friends, and read more about the Marvel Family here.