Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The First Batman

Think you know Batman?   That Bruce Wayne was the first Batman, taking his mission to avenge the death of his parents to Gotham?

No, there was another Batman before Bruce....his father, Thomas Wayne, as revealed in Detective Comics #235 (September, 1956), by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye.

Bruce Wayne finds an old bat-costume in Wayne Manor, and researching it, finds his dad wore this costume at a party, stopping gangsters, testifying against the gang leader, Lew Moxon.  Thomas and Martha Wayne were then later killed by Joe Chill....but, evidence found in the here and now suggested Lew Moxon had hired Chill to kill Thomas.  This sent Batman after Moxon, who had no memory of hiring Chill.  Batman's costume was damaged, so he wore his dad's outfit, which jogged Moxon's memory, sending him fleeing into the street (while confirming his guilt), only to be accidentally struck by a car and killed, bringing to an end Bruce's hunt for his parents' killer (and giving the symbolic idea that Thomas was will him as he finished that hunt).

This tale was reprinted many times, in Batman Annual #4 (Winter 1962/1963), Batman #255 (March-April, 1974) , Best of DC #2 (November-December, 1979), Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told (1988/1989), Batman: The Black Casebook (June, 2009) and in DC Comics Classic Library: The Batman Annuals #2 (August, 2010).  

The story also got new life, in both the Untold Legend of the Batman mini-series (one of the best summaries of Batman's origins) and during a more recent run in Batman, under the heading of The Black Glove and R.I.P. (in the later 600s of Batman)......proving we can never really escape the legacy of our fathers, or the justice of Batman.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day 2017!

Well, at least someone wants Earth!

Con man Silky Sloane tried to sell Earth to aliens in this story by writer Otto Binder and artist Sy Barry in Strange Adventures #47 (August, 1954) with "The Man Who Sold The Earth!"...

...all under this beautiful cover by Murphy Anderson!

Better still, this tale was reprinted in From Beyond The Unknown #25 (November-December, 1973), with cover art by Nick Cardy!

Let's try to keep the planet for ourselves!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gotham's Batman Replacement Mysteryman

Batman isn't quite up to the task, with Commissioner James Gordon being ordered by the mayor to call in the dynamic duo to help against smugglers...and Batman and Robin become "The Dynamic Trio", adding Mysteryman to the group in Detective Comics #245 (July, 1957), with the story by Edmond Hamilton, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris.

Reporter Vicki Vale wonders who Mysteryman is, and how he's able to order around Batman and Robin, following him around as they capture villains and thugs, first thinking he was a robot, then, believing him to be Superman.... for who he is, keep reading!

Mysteryman only had the one appearance, but that appearance was reprinted in Batman Annual #7 (Summer, 1964), Batman Family #2 (November-December, 1975) and in the Batman Annuals Hardcover #2 of 2010 (and the name of that man is on the reprint covers), but he also had a one page cameo in Kingdom Come #4 (August, 1996) with an unexplained appearance..., go find one of these issues for the secret (if you don't want it spoiled....)

Or keep reading for the solution!

The secret of Mysteryman was discovered  by Vicki Vale....

....and the mystery hero is....

....the man known as....

...the man who did not want to disobey the mayor, but wanted to continue on the case, the Gotham Commissioner James Gordon!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Batman Foe The Spinner

Back in the day, Batman and Robin faced many a strange foe, and one of them was...the Spinner, and he happened to be Batwoman's biggest fans!

Premiering in Batman #129 (February, 1960 by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris) in "The Web Of The Spinner", Batman and Robin were chasing the green armored villain, the Spinner, while Batwoman searches for Swami Ymar, a leading criminal running his own racket on the wealthiest of Gotham City.  The heroes paths intersected, finding out the secret of who was under the Spinner's spinning helmet!

Then, that was it for the Spinner!

True, the Spinner's story was reprinted in Batman #198 (January-February, 1968, under a Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson cover), and then again in Batman Family #8 (November-December, 1976 under an Ernie Chan cover, with Robin facing Catgirl, who was another villain in disguise), but he really was a one and done villain (with the secret that the Spinner was really the Swami!).

Still, he must have made an impression on someone, because he also ended up as a background villain on the animated Batman: Brave and the Bold series, with such luminaries as Mr. Polka-Dot, Zebra-Man, the Eraser, Calendar Man, Cat-Man, Cluemaster and Killer Moth

That anyone remembers the Spinner makes me dizzy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Action Comics 1 The First Superman

On April 18th, 1938, (cover date June, 1938), Superman and the contents of Action Comics #1 were copyrighted (with the issue likely going on sale on May 3rd, 1938).  Superman, the champion of the oppressed, was released onto an unsuspecting world by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster with 13 pages to lead off the issue (as well as being featured on the cover)....and the world was never the same afterwards, as Superman spawned generations of other heroes and a worldwide revolution! 

This story was also the first appearance of Lois Lane (based on the lady Jerry Siegel was infatuated with, Joanne, and Joanne later married Jerry!).  

The issue also featured Chuck Dawson, magical hero Zatara, Sticky-Mitt Stimson, Marco Polo, Pep Morgan, Scoop Scanlon and Tex Thomson (who later fell into becoming a mystery man himself, Mr. America). 

Remember, at this time, even Batman didn't exist yet (but he was coming with Detective Comics #27).

While Superman's first tale from the Golden Age has been reprinted in Archives, Chronicles and more, only the oversized Famous First Edition #C-26 (1974), a promotional version of Action Comics #1 in 1998, and the Millennium Edition: Action Comics #1 (February, 2000) feature the whole issue, allowing readers a chance to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and experience the world of 1938 where Superman was the only super-hero for a time!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter...Island

Let's celebrate Easter with a little trip to Easter Island!

Trips can be rare, for some, just as rare as Jack Kirby doing work on mainstream DC heroes.

But, Jack did get a chance to work on DC's big guns, first, with the first DC Super Powers  5 issue mini-series, then the second Super Powers mini-series, which lasted 6 issues in 1985/1986, which was written by Paul Kupperberg.

The third issue saw Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Dr. Fate facing the giants of Easter Island!

Best of all, Kirby's two Super Powers series ended up in the Jack Kirby Omnibus #2 of 2013, along with issues of Kirby's 1970s Sandman, Black Magic and 1st Issue Specials with Atlas, Manhunter and the Dingbats Of Danger Street!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Batman Pays His Taxes

Well, even millionaire Bruce Wayne had to pay taxes, and sometimes you just owe too much....

...okay, that really wasn't the focus of Batman #191 (May, 1967) with a cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

The real story of "The Day Batman Sold Out" by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, was that Batman's equipment was made radioactive by new villain, Ira Radon....and to save himself from that radiation, Batman had to sell off his stuff via the Wayne Foundation so he would not be exposed to it (it was small enough radiation dose that only Batman would be affected by it, as long as he maintained it all, and all together...).

Holy Geiger Counter, Batman!