Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wanted Signalman, Clock King, Puppet Master, Joker, Penguin, Trickster

E. Nelson Bridwell was a fan of comics, and an editor at DC.  He loved old comics, and had a bit of success with reprints of heroes fighting villains in two issues of DC Special.  They proved popular enough to warrant the title Wanted -- The World's Most Dangerous Villains!

The first two issues #1 (July-August, 1972, with cover by Murphy Anderson) and #2 (September-October, 1972, with cover by Nick Cardy will be covered now!

Signalman Of Crime

First up, the first story in the first issue is from Batman #112 (December, 1957) by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris (though this story isn't featured on the original cover by Sheldon Moldoff) which introduces the Signalman!


Phil Cobb was a small time hood who wanted to make it big leading a gang in Gotham....so, inspired by the Bat-Signal, he became....the Signalman!  Vexing Batman and Robin with crimes based on symbols, Signalman fought on land, air and sea before the Dynamic Duo put him in prison, where he joined a different gang.

Signalman would return a few times, then got a revival in the 1970s, being in the feature in an issue of Detective Comics that featured the Calculator, and being a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains that faced the JLA/JSA.


The Crimes Of The Clock King

Next up from the first issue of Wanted is the story of the Clock King from World's Finest Comics #111 (August, 1960) by France Herron and Lee Elias (though Superman and Batman featured on the Curt Swan/Sheldon Moldoff cover of the original issue).


Clock King started his crime spree in costume all over Star City, using time and clocks as the focus of where he would strike.  Green Arrow and Speedy figured this out and where he would strike next, and, after defeating Clock King's giant hourglass trap, captured the villain!

Clock King appeared next working with the next villain and a few others in an issue of Justice League of America (reprinted in giant size) as a Green Arrow villain, and then got a name for his alter ego (William Tockman) and motivation in an issue of World's Finest, then appeared in Crisis On Infinite Earths where he made enough connections to join the Injustice League during Invasion! along with Major Disaster and Multi-Man


Menace Of The Giant Puppet

The last story reprinted in issue one is the last story of Green Lantern #1 (July-August, 1960) by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella (with a knock out of a cover by Kane/Giella), featuring the premiere of the Puppet-Master.


Oddly, the story begins with Carol Ferris, Hal Jordan's boss, who is playing puppet games of her own, thinking how she can win the heart of Green Lantern (not knowing test pilot Hal IS Green Lantern).  Then, Green Lantern deals with some odd burglaries where criminals are robbing banks, but not under their own free will, during parades (where Hal fights a giant float as well...which is like a giant puppet).  Green Lantern continues to track down the Puppet-Master, who is using a hypno-ray to get criminals to steal for him.  Carol wins a date with Green Lantern, but Puppet-Master tries his hypno-ray on Green Lantern, dragging him away.  Thanks to Hal's willpower, he beats the Puppet-Master, and takes him to jail (and faces Carol's wrath as Hal).

Puppet-Master returns with Captain Cold and others working for Doctor Destiny, then returns as the Puppeteer (a name hinted at in the original appearance) to face the Teen Titans (including Cyborg, Raven and Starfire) for H.I.V.E. (and gets an alter ego, that of Jordan Weir).

Knights Of Knavery

The first story of the second issue features a Golden Age tale from Batman #25 (October-November, 1944) by Don Cameron, Jack Burnley and Jerry Robinson (under an unrelated cover by Dick Sprang), with twice the fun...a team up of the Joker and the Penguin!


Batman and Robin put Penguin in jail, but, there, he meets the Joker, who has hatched a plan to get the two of them free, which is a sweeping success.  Free, the two villains plan to get revenge on Batman and Robin (who become aware of the villains), but also need cash, so plan to steal the Van Landorpf Emerald (and this is the competition to determine which of them will get to remain in Gotham.  Batman uses the gem to lure the villains into a trap, but, they both appear, and, though reluctantly, do work together to escape.  The villains keep the alliance going, and are successful as a duo, even capturing Batman and Robin, but that proves their downfall, as the Dynamic Duo turn the villains against each other, allowing the heroes to capture them!

Joker's origin was reprinted as well in a Limited Collectors' Edition, while it took a while to get an origin for the Penguin (a story for a later time).



The Trickster Strikes Back

The second story of the second issue was from Flash #121 (June, 1961) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, under a cover by Infantino/Giella, and is the second story that the Trickster appeared in, as he tried to disconnect the Flash's phone line!



James Jesse is able to use a children's toy to fly free from prison, and, after reviewing his file, reporter Iris West checks in with her beau, police scientist Barry Allen about a date tonight as well as the Trickster (with Barry going off as the Flash to catch him).  After speeding around Central City, Flash tracks down the Trickster (who plays a few practical jokes on the Flash first).  Trickster puts the Flash through his paces, but eventually gets caught.  All this running gives Barry Allen sore feet....which makes him unable to dance with Iris West on their date!

Trickster's first appearance was first reprinted in a Flash Giant, and the Trickster would return again and again to vex the Flash (including two Flashes in his next appearance), as well as later facing Black Lightning and Blue Devil, as well as joining the Secret Society of Super-Villains.



These weren't the only issues of Wanted -- The World's Most Dangerous Villains, and Bridwell had even teased future team-ups in the letters' page of issue number one, as well as answering letters on 100 Page Super-Spectaculars, which were full of reprints, though not necessarily with villains, like the two DC Specials that led to this issue!





Monday, May 25, 2020

For Memorial Day

Remembering those who fought for our country and lost their lives this memorial day with this symbolic Joe Kubert cover for Our Army At War #236 (September, 1971), featuring Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, continuing the fight in World War II, showing only death wins in war.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Earliest Adventures Of The Super Sons Of Superman And Batman

Long before Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, or even the creations of Bob Haney in the 1970s, Superman and Batman had adventures with their super sons, Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. in World's Finest Comics.

Here are their two adventures from so long ago!

The Sons Of Superman And Batman

First up, from World's Finest Comics #154 (December, 1965) by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein (and cover by Swan/Klein), the beginnings of the Super-Sons! 

Superman (as Clark Kent) married reporter Lois Lane, and Batman (as Bruce Wayne) married Kathy Kane (Batwoman).

The two couples went on separate honeymoons (starting a riff between Lois and Kathy, as the Waynes could do a world tour, but the Kents just did Niagra Falls because Clark had to appear to live on a reporter's salary.  Time progressed, and each couple had a son, Kal-El Jr. for Clark/Lois and Bruce Wayne Jr. for Bruce/Kathy.

The boys played together, yet young Kal would bully young Bruce with his super powers.  This set Kathy against Lois, and could have separated the Superman and Batman partnership as well. 

The boys figured this out, and set out, figuring their absence would bring their parents together.  Along the way, the runaways were found by recent escapee, Nappy Klains (the Napolean of Crime, a foe of Superman and Batman that young Bruce had read about).  The villain tricked the kids to going with him to his lair, capturing them to use against his foes, their parents.  The Waynes and Kents realized their boys were missing, and all went looking for them....as Nappy hatched his plan, of disguising himself as Bruce Jr. (Nappy was a midget, which also helped his escape).  Trapped in his lair, the two boys worked together to get free, then thwarted Nappy's plans, reuniting with their parents and ending the feud.

The Abominable Brats

Continuing the saga of the Super-Sons, but a few years down the line for the characters, is World's Finest Comics #157 (May, 1966) by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan, George Klein and Sheldon Moldoff (with cover by Swan/Klein).

It is years later, as seen by the grey in Clark, Bruce and Kathy's hair, and the sons have gotten older.

Bruce Wayne Jr. seems to be becoming quite a problem, but thankfully, Kal-El Jr is there to save him from crashing his flying car.  Hearing about his later, Batman confronted his son, who denied it.  Conferring with Superman, Batman asked him to watch his son, but Superman first found his own son performing misdeeds, which Kal Jr denied when confronted.

These acts continued, with both Superman and Batman's crime fighting abilities starting to slip.  The two work together to find  the boys problems, but they continue, eventually putting Superman and Batman in danger....only to be saved by Superman Jr. and Batman Jr.?  The evil boys were duplicates in disguise, with "Superman Jr." being the son of Mxyzptlk, and "Batman Jr." being Bat-Mite Jr..  Mxyzptlk's son, the evil 5th dimensional imp, hypnotized Bat-Mite Jr. to help him vex Superman and Batman, and only the quick thinking of Batman Jr. got rid of the super-imp, resolving the dad's problems with the boys.

Back then, these were Imaginary Stories (stories with familiar characters not set in current continuity), but the Crisis Compendium placed these adventures on Earth-154 (and they were different from the adventures of Bob Haney's Super Sons, who were in issues of World's Finest Comics in the 200s, and existed on Earth-215....differentiated by Superman not having gray hair when the boys were teenagers, and the Super Sons adventures taking place in what looked like the 1970s).

Had things gone differently, those two earlier issues could have been on "Earth-E", as in "E. Nelson Bridwell" or "Extraneous", as postulated by Mark Gruenwald, on Omniverse 1 (1977), a fanzine. 


Earth-E would be a place where adventures of Superman and Batman in the late 1940s and 1950s took place (basically from after the tales of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics #57  in 1951 to just before the Justice League in Brave and the Bold #28 in 1960). 


This would take into account slow changes that happened with Superman and Batman (Superboy facing an adult Lex Luthor, Superman working for the Daily Star and then Planet, Batman's odder tales and even working with Batwoman), and be a bridge between Earth-1 and Earth-2.  But, Mark went to work for Marvel, so it never happened...and, like the early stories is only imaginary.....








Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Remembering Martin Pasko

Martin Pasko (August 4, 1954 to May 10, 2020) was a writer/editor for television and animated features for years, but his beginnings were in the comic book industry.

His works proved to be very influential to fans, and later comic professionals as well...

...so, here are a look at a few of his best that I've covered (and a few more that should likely get a look at, sometime in the future!).

Superman

When working on the Superman titles in the 1970s, two of the villains he revived were Metallo and the Parasite.  Both storylines unfolded over many issues, and would be the issues that helped keep them in the forefront of Superman villains (after Luthor, Brainiac and the Phantom Zone villains) for decades to come.



Wonder Woman

Pasko came into the Wonder Woman title during the later issues of her twelve labors to rejoin the JLA, and stuck around for a few issues after....enough to have two Wonder Women meet, and the adventures to switch to World War II (as was going on TV with Lynda Carter at the time).  Marty didn't stick around for too many WWII issues, though....


Doctor Fate and Eclipso

Trying for a bit of a mystical bent, Martin Pasko got an incredible First Issue Special, featuring Dr. Fate (and later wrote the Dr. Fate back ups in Flash in the 300s), and had the Metal Men face Eclipso for two issues of Metal Men, all with art by Walt Simonson.



Batman related

Though not working on the Batman title proper, Marty did work on a few titles around the Batman, most notably Man-Bat and the Joker

(for all of an issue each; writing Man-Bat's later team-ups with Batman and Superman as well in Brave and the Bold and DC Comics Presents).


JLA/JSA

Speaking of team-ups, working with E. Nelson Bridwell and Paul Levitz, Marty Pasko got to write team-ups of the JLA and JSA, with those teams working with the Marvel Family and the Legion of Super-Heroes, respectively, in Justice League of America.



Superman Team-Ups

Martin Pasko got to start a title of Superman team-ups in DC Comics Presents, giving readers the first two issues with a race with the Flash, and later issues as well, including a team-up with Wonder Woman, and issues with Man-Bat, Plastic Man and Metamorpho.


Action Comics

Back to Superman, and one of his best works, Marty Pasko wrote Action Comics 500, a tour of Superman's life, and the follow up issue to that as well, showing his strength as a writer, taking what was there and finding the interesting things in it!


It was his ability to find the character and make stories around that character that served him best...

...including his revival of Swamp Thing in Saga of the Swamp Thing, or in his run with Blackhawk in Action Comics Weekly and Blackhawk's own title....


...in his Hollywood career, where, among so many great credits, he wrote the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Happy Birthday, Buck" and polished Batman's origin flashbacks in the Batman: The Mask Of The Phantasm movie....




...in his role as writer and story editor on series like Batman: The Animated Series and Thundarr The Barbarian (where he named Ookla the Mok with friend, Steve Gerber), and why Martin Pasko will be missed.








Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mothers Day Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman didn't have the best relationship with her mother, Queen Hippolyta of Paradise Island, at times, as shown on this Eduardo Barreto cover for Wonder Woman #322 (December, 1984). 


In "Bid Time Return" by Dan Mishkin, Don Heck and Rick Magyar, Diana learned her mom had kept some of Diana's own memories from her, some specifically involving Steve Trevor, the man Diana loved (and lost, a few times).  In getting Trevor's situation resolved, a rift was caused between Wonder Woman and Hippolyta....


....that would only be resolved later, after Diana faced many of her foes, and Wonder Woman and the Amazons were pulled into the Crisis On Infinite Earths.


May a Crisis not be necessary for you to appreciate your mother.


Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Celebrate National Nurses Day With Sue And Sally Smith

With today being National Nurses Day, a look back at a long gone title, from a long gone company, Charlton comics...

...with Sue And Sally Smith, Flying Nurses!



Blond Sue and brunette Sally Smith first appeared in My Secret Life #47 (September, 1962) by Joe Gill, Joe Sinnott and Vince Colletta, with a cover by Charles Nicolas and Vince Alascia in the story "I'll Die Soon, Darling" and "Firestorm", bringing romance and action with a bit of beauty to comics.

The sisters of mercy then took over the title, with Sue And Sally Smith, Flying Nurses #48 (November, 1962), with "No Serum For Greed", "We Must Go On Living" and "Dangerous Assignment" (all by Gill, Sinnott and Colletta, but cover by Dick Giordano).

Dick Giordano provided the covers for Sue and Sally Smith, Flying Nurses #49 and #50 (January and March, 1963) with Gill, Sinnott and Coletta stories about them in #49 of Sahara Mission and "The Man Nobody Loved"...

 ...and "Death Mountain" likely by Gill, Sinnott and Colletta, and additional stories "Mental Cure" and "The Kissing Booth" in #50.

Joe Sinnott and Vince Colletta provided the cover for Sue and Sally Smith, Flying Nurses #51 (May, 1963), with stories "The Surgeon Had To Die" and "Fall of Death" with art by Sinnott and CollettaDick Giordano did the cover for #52 (July, 1963), with "Disaster Flight" and "A Thread Of Life", with the first story by Gill, Sinnott and Colletta, and the second inked by Colletta.

Their last two issues were Sue and Sally Smith #53 (September, 1963) with a cover by Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia, with stories "The Cure Was Courage" by Joe Gill, Dick Ayers and Vince Colletta, and "Sally's Safari" written by Gill and inked by CollettaSue and Sally Smith #54 (November, 1963) had a cover by Dick Giordano, and stories of "The Greed Virus" by Gill, Giordano and Colletta and "Sympton Of Evil" by Gill, Giordano and Colletta's studio.

Though forgotten by modern comic audiences, the thrills and romance of the Charlton era and adventurous nurses live on!





Saturday, May 2, 2020

Outsiders Biohazard

On what was suppose to be Free Comic Book Day 2020, the nation is still dealing with a pandemic, from the unleashed coronavirus, trapped in isolation to prevent contact.


The team of heroes formed by Batman had to deal with a potential pandemic as well....but they were slightly more successful in stopping it before it got out of the lab that created it.


Here is that story from Outsiders #15 (January, 1987) from Mike W. Barr, Dan Jurgens and Mike Gustovich!


Biohazard

The story starts when Dr. Helga Jace, the Outsiders' resident scientist, arrives at Biogen Laboratories in upstate California. 

There, she meets with her former student, Dr. Marsha Chandler, who had created an aggressive virus designed to attack the immune system...and Dr. Jace berated Dr. Chandler for creating something that could be turned into a terrible weapon. 

This was enough to distract Dr. Chandler, who accidentally exposed herself to the virus, triggering an alarm, and getting Dr. Jace to summon the Outsiders.


The call went to Halo and Katana, who were in the middle of training, and they summoned the rest of the team.


Once at the lab, Black Lightning used his electrical powers to break in, and found gear to prevent them from breathing in any foreign microbes.  The heroes fought a group of the labs' staff, seemingly possessed, then found Dr. Jace and other members in isolation. 

Dr. Jace explained that the virus also attacks the brain, and had mutated into sentience.  Dr. Jace, using Dr. Chandler's notes, realized the virus could only survive in hosts, and would not survive long in the air, and thus creating a vaccine would eliminate it. 
The virus didn't want to die, so it started to possess the military called in for containment, and started to use the lab safeguards against the Outsiders, with the group saved by Metamorpho.  Dr. Jace finished Dr. Chandler's cure....but as Geo-Force saw, was allergic to one of its components. 

The team rounded up the military members, and got them the cure,  but the virus took Dr. Jace as a host, but some quick thinking by Looker got the virus out of Dr. Jace's body, ending this possible pandemic before it even started!  Would that it were so easy to wipe out a virus in a day!