Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 SDCC Mattel Exclusive Aquaman Figure Set

Another July, another round of figures that only are available at the San Diego Comic Con.  2018 is where Mattel gets wet, giving collectors a set of 3 six inch figures as a part of the preparations for the Aquaman movie set to come out in December, with their DC Comics Multiverse Aquaman Between Two Dooms Figures 3-Pack, featuring Aquaman and his two most fearsome foes, Black Manta and Ocean Master, in a package designed to emulate the classic Nick Cardy cover of Aquaman #35 (September-October, 1967), which is the first appearance of Black Manta.

In the depths of the ocean, the King of the Seven Seas must face the firing rage of his two arch enemies: Black Manta and Ocean Master. Both have pledged to bring their wrath upon him. While the waters of the ocean are typically kind to the Sea King and his city, today, they have summoned these two arch foes to battle Aquaman, and each other. For in their thirst for power, there can only be one ruler. A colossal battle begins, unleashing fire from the bottom of the sea. As the clash of these warriors makes the Atlantean water boil, a question rises at this pinnacle moment: Who will destroy the Sea King? The “Sea Jackal” Black Manta or the DREADED Ocean Master?

Available for pre-order at the Mattel shop, it seems  to only be available if you have your id, which you would present at the San Diego Comic Con, and then the $60 3-pack would be shipped to you. 

One can hope that Mattel wouldn't be a cold fish, and makes this easily available to fans who can't join the schools of fish at SDCC!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ditko DC Oddities With Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman

The comic industry is mourning the loss of one of its greats, Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man (and many of his foes, like the Sinister Six) and Doctor Strange.  A little less well known is some of his DC work, on characters of his own, such as the Creeper and Hawk & Dove.

But, in a career that spanned decades, Steve Ditko worked on DC trinity only a few times, and this seems like a great time to take a look at those pieces of work.

Superman 400

In Superman #400 (October, 1984), under a cover by Howard Chaykin, was an incredible opportunity to see artists at the time who normally did not work on Superman.

Along with multiple stories exploring the various legends of Superman (including a multi-generational saga by comic legend, Jim Steranko), there were various pin-ups of the Man of Steel within the issue, done by a laundry list of who's who in the comic community....and, individuals who had not normally drawn Krypton's last son.

One of those was Steve Ditko, who did this impressive piece...

...wonderfully capturing the iconic image of the Man of Steel in that Ditko style.

It makes me sad that Ditko had not gotten the chance to do more Superman work, seeing how well this particular piece worked out....

Man-Bat 1

Next up, Steve Ditko draws the darknight detective, Batman...

....but not in any of his own books, but instead in a spin-off, that of Man-Bat #1 (December-January, 1975/1976), hidden under a stunning cover by Jim Aparo (mostly, there seems to have been some alteration of Batman's face on the cover....not by Ditko, sadly....)

Man-Bat, an odd character himself, with a bit of a history before this issue, really came into his own with this, the first of two issues of his own title, here facing off against a sorcerous foe, Baron Tyme.

Ditko really gave an impressive look to Batman on every page he drew the hero, who was there to face off against Man-Bat, due to the magical manipulations of Baron Tyme.  

Though Ditko would not get any more opportunities to draw Man-Bat, he did get another shot at Baron Tyme, in a back up featuring Jack Kirby's Demon in Detective Comics.

DC Special Series 9

Last, but not least, a hard battle to find a version of Steve Ditko's Wonder Woman, which eventually paid off with a lengthy search of the Wonder Woman Spectacular, published under the title of DC Special Series #9 (1978), this under a disturbing cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano.

In the 1970s, thanks to the first year of Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman TV series, DC pushed the comic adventures of Wonder Woman back to World War II, in her regular issues, as well as in a few back-ups in World's Finest Comics.  This issue featured a jam of different artists including Russ Heath....and Steve Ditko.

But, it was a bit of a search to find any panels of Wonder Woman drawn by his parts of the story focused on the Amazons and the Olympians, some truly stunning work by a man known more for his gritty realism, but lacking in a certain Amazing Amazon who was the focus of the least until you hit one page, where god of war, Mars, was looking over a chessboard, with pieces he was manipulating, including Wonder Woman and Hitler. 

It is worthwhile to take a look at one of the two page spreads, done by Ditko as well, just to show that he did quite the job with this topic he usually didn't cover....

More would be said, but quoting from the man himself from this profile on Steve Ditko, with his works of the Creeper, Hawk and Dove, Stalker, the Odd Man, Shade the Changing Man, and his outer space prince Starman...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Giant Justice League Of America The Third

Continuing our look back at the early reprints of the Justice League of America, with this 80 Page Giant (G-41) which was the third featuring the team, which was also labeled as the regular issue of Justice League of America #58 (November-December, 1967).

This time, the group gathers under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene, and two of the three stories feature not only the charter members of the Justice League (Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman), but also their recent addition, Green Arrow!

Let's see what adventures they got up to, which seem to have a gaming theme!

Justice League of America 1

First up is Justice League of America #1 (October-November, 1960) with the charter members of the Justice League going up against Despero for the first time, in "The World Of No Return" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, under this classic chess playing cover by Murphy Anderson.

This issue, along with being the first dedicated to the Justice League of America, was the first appearance of one of their most tenacious foes, Despero, a three-eyed mutant from the planet Kalanor.  Jasonar, a scientist from Kalanor, escapes to Earth, hoping to recruit the JLA to stop Despero, meets the Flash, but Despero puts the rest of the team in a hypnotic trance....forcing Flash to play chess with the lives of his teammates!

Even worse, the Flash loses, and the seven members of the JLA are exiled to other worlds....thankfully, the JLA had an honorary member, Snapper Carr, who is able to save the day!

Justice League of America 6

Taking a spin with "The Wheel Of Misfortune" from Justice League of America #6 (August-September, 1961) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson (inspired by All-Star Comics #42 with the Justice Society), in a story featuring only these six JLAers, with Superman and Batman sitting it out (and the reprint misses pages 2 through 6 of the original story).

One of many issues of the Justice League of America that centers around luck, as in the team having it and it being bad.  The JLA cross some superstitions and can't seem to be effective after that....but that was due to Professor Amos Fortune, a villain here in his first appearance, using the luck stolen from the JLA to successfully commit crimes.

But, Fortune didn't count on the Martian Manhunter, and his alien physique....which made him immune to Fortune's machine (and his earlier bad luck, had just been a coincidence....).

Justice League of America 8

Now, if you gamble and lose, you might have to sell your stuff, and this reprint finds "For Sale - The Justice League", from Justice League of America #8 (December-January, 1961/1962) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a Mike Sekowsky/Murphy Anderson cover, with Superman and Batman sitting out this story in Dimension X.

This time, small-time crook, Pete Ricketts, gets his hands on a Cyberniray, which allows him to control minds.  Pete uses the device to hypnotize the JLAers, and sends them on crime sprees in least until Snapper Carr gets wind of the problem, and, using anti-gravity devices that Dr. Destiny used (as you might remember from the first JLA Giant), helps free the team and bring Pete Ricketts to justice.

The 80 Page Giants have a rich history, with and beyond the Justice League of America, and more of it will be covered, so check back to see what's next.....

Friday, July 6, 2018

National Fried Chicken Day 2018

Yes, it is a shameless plug for Kentucky Fried Chicken on this National Fried Chicken Day...with this issue of The Colonel Of Two Worlds #1 (2015) with a cover by Tom Grummett and Trevor Scott, and interior story by Shaine Edwards and Tony Bedard, and art by Tom Derenick and Trevor Scott.

An evil Colonel from Earth-3 starts to ruin the reputation of Colonel Sanders, and he has to recruit Green Lantern and the Flash to set things right.

This ties into the KFC commercials of the time, who have various actors in the role of the Colonel.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Happy National Bikini Day With Betty And Veronica

On National Bikini Day, a look back at Archie's Girls Betty And Veronica #106 from October, 1964, with a cover by Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick.... Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge debate about bikini's and Archie Andrews.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July with Wonder Woman

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Wonder Woman this year, looking at this patriotic cover by Dave Cockrum and Dick Giordano from Wonder Woman #272 (October, 1980).

The story inside features Wonder Woman's return to Washington, DC, by Gerry Conway, Jose Delbo and Dave Hunt, and a battle with Angle Man, while featuring a back-up with the Huntress, and her battle with Solomon Grundy (by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Steve Mitchell).

You think your holiday is busy!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Batman Marries Catwoman

It isn't a hoax, imaginary story or any other such phony plot device, but a real wedding for Batman and Catwoman....or, technically for Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

It happened long ago, on a place called Earth-2, where the original Batman (who was a member of Justice Society of America) and the Golden Age Catwoman lived....

The Autobiography Of Bruce Wayne

Brave and the Bold #197 (April, 1983) by Alan Brennert, Joe Staton and George Freeman (with a stunning cover by Jim Aparo), presents the story where Bruce and Selina finally admit their love for each other in 1955.

Batman worries about being alone as one of Bruce Wayne's former girlfriends gets marries, and, thanks to a recently paroled Scarecrow, that fear manifests, as Robin, Batwoman, then Alfred, Gordon, even Lois Lane and Superman disappear.  Batman goes for help from an old enemy, Catwoman, serving time as Selina Kyle after turning herself in (and claiming amnesia for most of her time as Catwoman).  During their search for Scarecrow, the two open up to each other about how much life had hurt them, and that they had both needed that they both conquered their fear of being alone by trusting each other.  The story ends with a quick summary of their wedding, as well as the events which happened in the decades following.

This story is one of the best Batman stories ever written, and has been reprinted many times, including in the Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told of 1988, Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years of 2015, and in Tales Of The Batman: Alan Brennert of 2016.  This tale alone almost makes any of those collections worth buying, and the other tales around it are just a bonus.

The Kill Kent Contract

Bruce and Selina get married in Superman Family #211 (October, 1981) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Kurt Schaffenberger and Dan Adkins, with guests like Dick Grayson (Robin), Alfred Beagle, Commissioner James Gordon, Harvey Kent (the former Two-Face), and Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Mr. and Mrs. Superman).

This tale starts with Clark and Lois getting an invitation of Bruce and Selina's wedding (via Batplane, no less), and the pair heading to Gotham City to attend (revealing Lois knows both parties secret identities as well as how Selina gave up, about her brother Kyle, the King of Cats).  A phone mix up allows Lois to hear that a plot to kill Kent is afoot at the wedding.  The ceremony shows Dick Grayson as Bruce's best man, Karl Kyle giving Selina away, and Bruce's butler, Alfred Beagle (the Golden Age version of Alfred Pennyworth), Com. James Gordon (with wife Barbara and son Tony).  Afterward, at the reception, Clark and Lois meet Harvey Kent, former Gotham District Attorney (and Two-Face, before cured with plastic surgery), who as the Kent who was the target.

Superman foils the criminal's plans, and later, when Lois, Clark, Bruce and Selina are alone, Lois and Clark reveal their secret to Selina, hoping the couples would be best of friends (but it was Bruce and Dick who returned for a second appearance in the Mr. and Mrs. Superman feature in Superman Family #216). 

Sadly, this tale, like most of the Mr. and Mrs. Superman tales other than Lois and Clark's wedding from Action Comics #484, has not been reprinted, but this whole run from Superman and Superman Family, along with the Action Comics issue cries out to be collected, as writer E. Nelson Bridwell really fleshed out the differences between the Earth-1 and Earth-2 versions of Superman (and Batman) with entertaining tales of a married Clark and Lois set in the 1950s.

From Each Ending....A Beginning

A quick peak at Bruce and Selina's wedding happens in DC Super-Stars #17 (November-December, 1977) by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Bob Layton, as well as a little look at Bruce and Selina's life after getting hitched, including how both retired their costumed identities for a while, as they raised a daughter, Helena Wayne.

The majority of this issue is about Helena, and Bruce and Selina's life at that time, but this does have that first flashback to her birth in 1957, as well as a little time of her growing up, as well as establishing many of the guests at Bruce and Selina's wedding, setting up for the later tales which help fill in the holes of the details.  The issue also introduces Silky Cernak, and the catastrophe he will introduce into the lives of Bruce, Selina and Helena Wayne in 1976, which the title of the tale suggests, leading to the introduction of the Huntress and her costume which looks like a hybrid of Batman and Catwoman's (though Huntress appeared only days earlier in All-Star Comics #69, technically her first appearance in a cameo in the JSA tale, though this story happened first).

This tale has been reprinted a few times, in Batman In The Seventies from 1999, Huntress: Darknight Daughter from 2006 (which cries for a follow up volume to finish the Huntress reprints from the 1970s/1980s from the back of Wonder Woman as her history shows, almost all her other tales have been reprinted), and in Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years from 2015), completing our look back at the first time Batman and Catwoman got married.