Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Charter Members of Infinity, Inc. Part 1

There are other worlds that exist out there....world's where Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman were fighting crime since World War II, and were helped by slightly different versions of Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Atom...

...and that world was Earth-2, and those heroes had a next generation of heroes...who were Infinity, Inc.!

Infinity, Inc. first appeared in All-Star Squadron #25 (September, 1983, by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway) and they seemed to know each other and function more or less as a team, facing the World War II heroes of the All-Star Squadron (and having hints of coming from the future of All-Star Squadron, and this story playing out through All-Star Squadron #26 and All-Star Squadron Annual #2....with both teams facing the Ultra-Humanite, one in female form from the 1940s, and the other a mutated ape from the "current" time of the 1980s).

This led to an Infinity, Inc. series, starting with Infinity, Inc. #1 (March, 1984), where the team actually formed as the soon-to-be Infinitors stormed JSA HQ in the 1980s, leading to a quick battle with the JSA (revealing doubts of the Star-Spangled Kid), and then a plot by the simian Ultra-Humanite, which ended up sending Silver Scarab, Fury, Nuklon, Northwind, Jade and Obsidian (as well as Brainwave, Jr.), back to the All-Star Squadron issues, then picked up the story for the rest of "The Generations Saga" from Infinity, Inc. #3 (June, 1984) to Infinity, Inc. #10 (January, 1985).

Silver Scarab

Hector Hall had a high flying history, being the son of the original Hawkman (Carter Hall) and Hawkgirl (Shiera Sanders Hall), and his birth had, for a time, ended the career of Hawkgirl, as Shiera took time to raise the boy (though Hawkman continued his career, both as archeologist Carter Hall and as the Justice Society's Hawkman).  Hector had some resentment towards Carter and Sheira's godson, Norda, who was half-Feitheran, and thus, had wings and could fly, as his parents could using their Nth Metal wings.


Hector eventually built himself a suit of armor from Nth Metal, that would allow him to fly, and inspired by friend and fellow "JSA brat" Lyta Trevor, as the two began dating at UCLA, he became the Silver Scarab and the two headed to JSA HQ to attempt to join the JSA.

Silver Scarab's life got stranger after not making it into the JSA, but instead becoming an Infinitor, eventually leading to Hector becoming a "real" Silver Scarab to fulfill a prophecy of Hath-Set (an eternal foe of Hawkman and Hawkgirl), then becoming the new Sandman (not related to the Golden Age Sandman, but a true master of dreams), and then even joining the JSA as Dr. Fate!  But all that is in the future for Hector....and we're still looking at the beginnings of Infinity, Inc.!  

Fury

Hippolyta Trevor got her start in Wonder Woman #300 (February, 1983, by Roy Thomas and a group of artists, with Ross Andru working on the part with the soon to be Fury).  The Justice League's Wonder Woman (the Diana Prince of Earth-1) went to her Justice Society (Earth-2) counterpart for advise, and met Diana-2, and her husband, Steve Trevor, and their daughter, Hippolyta (named after Diana's mom), who also had amazon powers!  The Earth-1 Diana returned home after this meeting, and still had to deal with all her own troubles (including Sandman, master of dreams, Garrett Sanford).

Lyta transferred to UCLA, taking up a relationship with Hector Hall (whom she had known since she was a child, as both were "JSA Brats" and met over the years as their families gathered), with her revealing her plans to become the heroine Fury after Hector showed her his super-suit....and the two headed to JSA Headquarters to try to join the team, though destined instead to become charter members of Infinity, Inc.

Fury's life became much more complex, after the Crisis On Infinite Earths, and the fact that her mother and father were wiped from existence (leading to a Golden Age Fury in the Young All-Stars, as well as Fury's history being changed, to her being raised by Miss America and Derek Trevor, but still being a "JSA Brat")....but Lyta remained in Infinity, Inc., though pregnant with Hector's child (thus taking a leave for a time), reuniting with Hector in his Sandman guise (though seeing that end, as Morpheus, the Sandman of the Endless, taking care of that), then becoming a true Fury on her own, giving birth to Daniel (who later took over as the new Sandman of the Endless), and reuniting all too briefly with Hector during his time as Dr. Fate.

Nuklon

Albert Rothstein was the godson of the Golden Age Atom, and son of Terri Rothstein (a scientist at Cape Canaveral, originally Terri Curtis, the daughter of Cyclotron...who you might remember from All-Star Squadron #21 to #26 and All-Star Squadron Annual #2....and Phillip Rothstein, a military helicopter pilot who died on duty).  Al was a big boy, due to his mother's exposure to radiation....and played basketball, but also worked on cars and other mechanical pursuits.  Albert also had quite the crush on Lyta Trevor (but never really acted on it, as she was smitten with the brooding Hector Hall).  Al had been trained since his youth by the Golden Age Atom, and couldn't wait to put on a costume and join Hector and Lyta (whom had already decided to go join the JSA), putting on a costume of his own (and shaving most of his head to have a mohawk, quite a fashion statement of the 1980s).  Al even had powers of his own, being ultra-dense (and later finding he could alter his density and size slightly), as well as having strength and a degree of invulnerability.

As Nuklon, Albert was a founding member of Infinity, Inc., where he happily stayed for the 53 issue run of the team, seeing them though the red skies and history changing of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, leaving the USA briefly during Darkseid's attack on Earth's Legends, and even meeting with the New Teen Titans, the Outsiders and later, all of Earth's heroes while they prepared for the coming Millennium, even working with all Earth's heroes after the end of Infinity, Inc. during Earth's Invasion! and the War of the Gods, briefly joining the Conglomerate with Jesse Quick, then joining the Justice League with Obsidian for a time, then decided to honor Atom by becoming the Atom-Smasher and joining the JSA at a particularly dark time in his (and the JSA's) life.

Check back inf the future...

...as we look at the rest of Infinity, Inc., with members such as Northwind, Jade, Obsidian and Brainwave, Jr., and how the Star-Spangled Kid, Power Girl and Huntress fit into all of this, as well as working with Silver Scarab, Fury and Nuklon!  


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Guide to Golden Age Tarantula, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle reprints

Looking back at the Golden Age of comics, taking a focus on a few characters (Tarantula, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle) from that era that got a revival in the 1980s with the All-Star Squadron...

...and where to find reprints of their classic tales from the 1940s! 

Tarantula

John Law was a mystery writer in the 1930s, who, with the introduction of other mystery men, and inspired by his pet spider, decided to become the mystery man known as Tarantula (though a radio announcer called him "Spider-Man" in his first appearance, in Star-Spangled Comics #1 of October, 1941 by Mort Weisinger and Hal Sharp...and he had no relation to the Tarantula who was an early nemesis to the Sandman).  Armed with suction cup boots and a web-firing gun (and a loyal housekeeper named Olga), Tarantula was ready to fight crime in the Golden Age....at least until Star-Spangled Comics #19 (April, 1943).

Sadder still, only one of his Golden Age stories was reprinted...


...that of Star-Spangled Comics #11 (August, 1942) with the tale of "Galloping Gold" by writer Wade Wellman and artist Ed Smalle, Jr., where Tarantula goes west to face Bandana Bardon and other cattle rustlers.


This was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #207 (November, 1971), under a Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson cover with Superman and Batman facing some cowboy outlaws as well...along with a reprint of a sci-fi tale from Strange Adventures!


Don't feel too back for Jonathan Law, he came back in the 1980s All-Star Squadron series by Roy Thomas, and Jerry Ordway gave him a new costume as well (via John's housekeeper, Olga)....and thanks to the time-traveling kids from Infinity, Inc., we know he had a successful novel on the Golden Age mystery men!

Jonathan even survived World War II, to show up as an elderly writer in issues of Nightwing, starting with Nightwing #14 (November, 1997), as a resident of Dick Grayson's apartment building, and showing up here and there, including issues #16, #21, #31, #40, #42, #48, #54, #55, #72, #79 and #86 (and Titans #36 of February, 2002), until problems with Blockbuster resulted in a new, female Tarantula.

Johnny Quick

Johnny Chambers was an orphan, taken in by Professor Ezra Gill, who believed one could travel at super-speed by reciting a mathematical formula, 3x2 (9YZ) 4A.  The professor passed of old age, because Johnny wasn't fast enough to save him...and eventually Johnny became a photographer for Sees All/Tells All News, along with Tubby Watts (who worked as his assistant).  Johnny and Tubby found themselves in trouble while on assignment at a circus, and this time, when Johnny said the formula, it worked, and Johnny quickly mopped up the crooks, modifying his circus outfit to work as his super-hero costume, with Tubby as his assistant not only with the paper, but as a hero.  All this happened in More Fun Comics #71 (September, 1941 by Mort Weisinger and Chad Grothkopf), which sadly has not been reprinted (though a version of it with more details, including his inspiration coming from the Flash, can be found in All-Star Squadron #65, January, 1987 by Roy & Dann Thomas and Don Heck).

It's a good thing Johnny was so quick, because quite a few of his Golden Age tales were reprinted!

Johnny's earliest reprint came from More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941), by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Ed Moore Jr. and inker Chad Grothkopf, in the story "The Black Knight", where Johnny faced off against, well...the Black Knight, and the man behind the scenes pulling its strings....Sam Kirby.


This story was reprinted in the Millennium Edition: More Fun Comics #73 of January, 2001, which also features the first appearance of Aquaman and Green Arrow, of Dr. Fate foe Mr. Who (with the doctor capturing the cover in his half mask that he was using at this time), as well as Spectre, a ton of Golden Age goodness!

Johnny Quick's next reprinted story is from More Fun Comics #76 (February, 1942) by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin, entitled "The Adventure Of The Human Streak", where Johnny and Tubby faced off against Dr. Clever and his henchman, Breezy, whom the doctor gives super-speed via a ray invention of his.  Pretty clever, that doctor...but not good enough to not get boxed down by Johnny Quick!


This story was reprinted in Wanted, the World's Most Dangerous Villains #7 (March-April, 1973), with a cover by Nick Cardy, and also contained Golden Age Hawkman and Hourman reprints, in a series edited by E. Nelson Bridwell (who was responsible for so many Golden Age reprints finding new life).


The last of Johnny's More Fun Comics appearances to be reprinted is from More Fun Comics #101 (January-February, 1945) by Don Cameron and Mort Meskin, in the story "An Investment In Happiness", where Johnny and Tubby help dying tycoon, Darius Droobe, give money back to people he swindled over the years...much to the chagrin of Droobe fortune inheritor, Ambrose.


This tale is found in the Millennium Edition: More Fun Comics #101 of November, 2000.  This issue also features Green Arrow, Aquaman, and in his last Golden Age appearance, the Spectre, as well as debuting a new feature...Superboy (a story of Superman, as a boy!  Johnny quickly left More Fun Comics after this issue (with More Fun Comics #107 of January-February, 1946), and along with Green Arrow, Aquaman and cover feature, Superboy, ended up in Adventure Comics, starting with Adventure Comics #103 (April, 1946).

Johnny's earliest Adventure Comics reprint was from Adventure Comics #117 (June, 1947) with "The Man Who Wore Ten Hats" by Bill Finger and Mort Meskin, with Johnny and Tubby helping a small town man who works too much against a crooked mayor.


This tale was reprinted in Flash #229 (September-October, 1974), under a cover by Nick Cardy, and along with Johnny Quick, features a new team-up of the Golden Age and Silver Age Flash (vs. Golden Age villains Rag Doll and the Thinker), as well as Silver Age Green Lantern, Kid Flash and Flash reprints, and a Golden Age Flash reprint as well!



Next up, reprint-wise, is the Johnny Quick story from Adventure Comics #121 (October, 1947) by Bill Finger and Mort Meskin called "The 9th Wonder Of The World"...

...wherein Johnny helps out some kids in a hospital's children's ward who were about to get a featured in an upcoming issue of his Pal the Wonder Dog comic when Mel Mitchum (the cartoonist) loses the issue in a fire.  So, Johnny quickly turns out a replacement issue for him...what comic book creator wouldn't like to have a super-speeding artist on hand?


This story ended up reprinted in Flash #232 (March-April, 1975), under an awesome Nick Cardy cover...


...within the issue is featured Barry Allen's Flash in team-ups with Kid Flash and Green Lantern, as well as a Golden Age Flash reprint.


Quick with that next reprint, as the story from Adventure Comics #123 (December, 1947) is, with the story of "The Adventure Of The Antelope Boy" by Don Cameron and Mort Meskin, with Johnny and Tubby traveling to Africa to see this "antelope boy" who can run really fast...but they end up having to save him from mobster, Mobs Bracket.


This story ended up being reprinted in Flash #160 (April, 1966, and is also known as 80 Page Giant #G-21), under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, and as Barry Allen's Flash shows you, contains quite a number of quick adventures...

...all under a DC Comics checkerboard!


Johnny faces a slow foe, that of Sleepy, in Adventure Comics #129 (June, 1948) in the story "The Slowpoke Crimes" by an unknown writer, and art by Mort Meskin...

...where Sleepy is able to use his lack of speed as an advantage for a time against Johnny Quick!


This story was reprinted in the 100-Page Super-Spectacular DC-22 of November, 1973 under a cover by Nick Cardy, and also has a Golden Age Flash reprint...


...as well as a story involving the change of Kid Flash's costume!


Next up, in Johnny Quick reprints is Adventure Comics #144 (September, 1949), with the story of "The Day That Was Five Years Long" (which might be how you feel reading about Johnny's reprints), but this was a story by Otto Binder and art by Dan Barry, wherein Johnny helps a wrongly accused man, Joe Everett, get back the five years he lost in prison, all in one day (and oddly enough, all Joe wants is a job, so Johnny helps him...but Joe finds he likes making things like clocks, and he invented one in prison!).


This story was reprinted in the Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told hardcover of 1990, which featured a stunning cover by Jerry Ordway, and many Golden Age stories that were, well, just great, and featured a few other JSAers like Hawkman, Wildcat, Sandman, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Black Canary and the Spectre as well!



The story from Adventure Comics #174 (March, 1952) focuses on "Tubby Watts, Efficiency Expert" (written by Don Cameron and art by Ralph Mayo), with Tubby trying to find better work as an efficiency expert, and Johnny Quick having to speed things up and work extra hard helping his buddy out!


This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #224 (July-August, 1974) under a Nick Cardy cover...


...and while it has no other Golden Age stories, it does have plenty of Superman/Batman action, and even a little Metamorpho, for fans of the Element Man!



Next up is a little adventure in pretending for Johnny Quick, as Johnny and Tubby go to cover the unveiling of a Paul Bunyon statue, and then Johnny has to perform feats to make him "The Modern Paul Bunyon" in this story by an unknown writer, with art by Paul Norris in Adventure Comics #179 (August, 1952).

This story found itself reprinted in Flash #214 (April, 1972, also known as 100 Page Super-Spectacular DC-11), under a spectacular cover by Nick Cardy, and along with the many reprints in the book, it features a Golden Age Flash story that had never been published before as well as a Golden Age tale of Quicksilver (the Quality hero who later became known as Max Mercury!).

"Joanie Swift, Queen of Speed" was the focus of the story in Adventure Comics #181 (October, 1952, with no credited writer and art by Paul Norris)...

...as Joanie was transcribing for a college professor, and said the formula that Johnny Quick uses, gaining super-speed for a time.  Johnny was more annoyed with her help, but lost it later, as Joanie couldn't remember the formula  (a good thing for Johnny as well, as he didn't need another woman in his life, but more on that soon).


This tale was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #198 (November, 1970), under a Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson cover, which featured the start of the third and deciding Superman/Flash race!


Johnny faced the problem of "Too Many Speed Kings" in the story by an unknown writer and art by Ralph Mayo from Adventure Comics #189 (June, 1953), where Professor Rollins gives Johnny Chambers a speed formula, and Johnny uses his powers to fake that it works, then has to continue to help others whom the professor gave the formula to as well!


This story is reprinted in Flash #205 (April-May, 1971) under a cover by Dick Giordano...

...along with a few Silver Age tales including the first appearance of Professor Zoom, also known as the Reverse-Flash, and a Golden Age Flash tale that had never been printed until this issue!



Adventure Comics #190 (July, 1953) is up for Johnny Quick's next reprint (with no identified writer, and art by Hy Mankin), and it features Johnny as the "Stand-In For 100 Convicts", having Johnny have to fill in for 100 convicts who were released in an experimental program, with one of them (but only one) returning to criminal ways.

This issue was reprinted in DC 100 Page Super Spectacular #6 (1971), which, under this awesome Neal Adams cover, also had a reprint of the first JLA/JSA team-up, a Golden Age Spectre story, and a previously unpublished Golden Age Wildcat story (as well as lists of "every" DC hero's first appearance up to that time.).  Even better, DC made a replica of the World's Great Super-Heroes Super Spectacular (yes, a reprint of a collection of reprints) in May, 2004 (though the cover was slightly altered)!

Last (but not least) of Johnny's reprints is Adventure Comics #202 (July, 1954) with "The Human Hot-Rodders" by Otto Binder and Ralph Mayo, having Johnny and Tubby facing off against the gang of Bull Barton, who are trying to distract police to allow Bull to escape prison and his execution.


This tale was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #186 (August, 1969) under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Neal Adams, with Superman planning to execute Batman!


Johnny's Golden Age adventures ended with Adventure Comics #207 (December, 1954), but that wasn't the end of Johnny's adventures...even in World War II, as the 1980s All-Star Squadron later proved!
 




Liberty Belle

Libby Lawrence first appeared in Boy Commandos #1 (Winter, 1942) with an untitled tale by Don Cameron and Chuck Winter...that told of her escape from Poland to Holland, then to France, all the while, being followed by the invading Nazis.  Libby even swims the English Channel to get to England, before the German forces start to invade their as well.  Libby goes to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, and gets a tiny replica as the bell (which she wears on her belt), which gives her strength when the real Liberty Bell is wrung...thus beginning her career as Liberty Belle (all recapped in All-Star Squadron #61 of September, 1986)!

Liberty Belle appeared next in Boy Commandos #2 (Spring, 1943), along with boyfriend Rick Cannon and Liberty Bell guard Tom Revere, then the Liberty Belle feature runs from Star-Spangled Comics #20 (May, 1943) to Star-Spangled Comics #68 (May, 1947) replacing Tarantula's series...which none of which have been reprinted; in fact, if not for the cover of Adventure Comics #416 (March, 1972), readers wouldn't have seen Liberty Belle...


...until the All-Star Squadron, Roy Thomas' series focusing on World War II adventures of DC's mystery men (and women) of the time!

This series lasted for 67 issues (plus a preview in Justice League of America #193 and three Annuals), and featured World War II era versions of the Justice Society of America (including Flash, Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Wildcat and more), as well as the Seven Soldiers of Victory, the Freedom Fighters, and even individual heroes like Commander Steel, Air Wave, TNT and Dan the Dyna-Mite, and even introduced characters like Amazing Man and a new female Firebrand....

....and later in the run, Johnny and Libby got married (and later still, after the All-Stars and World War II ended), we readers found the results of that union, with their daughter, Jesse Quick (whom continues the legacy of both her parents to this day).  




Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Flash Facts: The Early Days of Gorilla Grodd

Gorilla Grodd was a telepathic gorilla from Gorilla City in Africa, bend on taking the "force of mind" power from the leader of that peaceful city, Solovar....and only the Flash stood in his way.

A little different than the experimented animal shown on CW's Flash....so, let's stop monkeying around and take a look at the comic history of Gorilla Grodd!


Menace Of The Super-Gorilla

Flash #106 (April-May, 1959) was Grodd's first appearance, and this story by John Broome and Carmine Infantino introduced the readers to Grodd and Solovar, as well as the rest of the intelligent apes of Gorilla City, as Flash followed around a strange vehicle speeding around Central City, and tried to help an actor friend of his (Fred Pearson, who thought he was wandering the streets at night in a gorilla costume!).



Such were the simple beginnings of Gorilla Grodd...and it seems odd that he wasn't featured on any of his earliest covers, as gorillas on comic covers were all the rage at this time.




Return Of The Super-Gorilla

Flash #107 (June-July, 1959, also by John Broome and Carmine Infantino) has Solovar contacting Flash from Gorilla City (that we learn is hidden behind a vibrational field), letting Barry know that Grodd retained some of his "force of mind", and that the evil ape was hiding in the underground land of bird-people (whom Grodd has under his control).


Grodd is also developing a "devolutionizer ray" which he plans to use against his foes; this is one of many super devices that Grodd has come up with over the years...

...and change seems to be a constant theme in Grodd's stories as well. 




The Super-Gorilla's Secret Identity

Flash #108 (August-September, 1959, again by John Broome and Carmine Infantino) is the third of the original Grodd trilogy, where Grodd escapes Gorilla City thanks to his quadromobile, and uses his technology on himself to become a normal looking human (with a super-evolved brain).


Soon after, back in Central City, Flash is up for the man of the year award, with only new millionaire, Drew Drowden, to compete against him.  Drowden made a fortune from stocks and set up a laboratory (that he is secretly using to develop the powers of mind over matter for himself).


Flash investigates and finds out that Drowden is Grodd! 



The Day Flash Weighed 1000 Pounds

Flash #115 (September, 1960, by Broome and Infantino) deals with the death of Grodd, or at least that's what Solovar believes when he tells the Flash that he's discovered Grodd's dead body in a Gorilla City prison cell.  Grodd has really developed a pill that allows his mind to leave his body, and Grodd has taken over the body of William Dawson, who gets a job training chimps (who he uses to steal for him).


Flash catches the chimps and looks for Dawson, who bombards Flash in a ray that expands his size, and gives Flash amnesia, so that he ends up in Dawson's sideshow!


Flash figures out who he is and captures Dawson, but doesn't know of his simian beginnings.  


The Reign Of The Super-Gorilla

Flash #127 (March, 1962, by John Broome and Carmine Infantino) finds Grodd on his first cover in gorilla form...as William Dawson is released from prison, transforms to gorilla form, and returns to his lab in Africa with a new plan...to marry his love, female gorilla Boka.


So, Grodd creates a machine that makes everyone love him, marries Boka and takes over Gorilla City.




Grodd then heads to Central City, where his new power makes Flash endorse his foe for governor!  Flash finds out the limit to Grodd's new power and stops Grodd. 


The Gauntlet Of Super-Villains

Flash #155 (September, 1965 by John Broome and Carmine Infantino) is an issue that keeps Flash running around...as his foes (Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Pied Piper, Captain Boomerang, the Top and Heat Wave; the original Rogue's Gallery) escape prison via teleportation and team up to battle against him!

Flash also finds his powers failing at this time...tracking down his power failure to the gorilla cage at the Central City zoo.


Flash figures Grodd's behind this, heads to Africa for proof, then back to Central City to defeat all the bad guys as well as Grodd!


And you think you've had a busy day! 


Grodd Puts The Squeeze On Flash

Flash #172 (August, 1967) is the last story about Grodd that John Broome and Carmine Infantino do together, but it's a winner, with all of Central City getting super-speed and being cut off from the rest of the world under a dome...

...with the Flash the only solution to the problem!


Grodd contacts Flash telepathically to claim responsibility for this....but Barry should be wary of his simian foe.


Flash figures out what's really going on, and is able to sock it to Grodd, with a little super-speed trickery of his own!

 

Beyond The Speed Of Life

Flash #209 (September, 1971) finds Grodd's fate in new hands (that of writer Cary Bates and artist Irv Novick), involved in a fight where Trickster and Captain Boomerang think they've killed the Flash, and the Flash's spirit has to save the universe from the Devourer!



Quite a lot going on in this issue for Barry Allen, but not as much focus on Gorilla Grodd, and Grodd wasn't happy about that at all.


Things seems to have worked out well, but Grodd grew tired of monkeying around with the Flash and decided to take a vacation from the speedster with his next appearance.  


Gorilla Grodd's Grandstand Play

Action Comics #424 (June, 1973, by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan) finds Grodd monkeying around in near Metropolis...

...switching bodies with Solovar to address the United Nations on behalf of Gorilla City, and battling the man of steel, Superman.


Superman, who is use to simian foes (like Titano, who is much more like King Kong than Grodd, though Grodd does do his best Kong impersonation on this cover by Nick Cardy) does have some problems with Flash's foe...


...but is eventually able to win the day.



Grodd Teams Up

Action Comics #443 (January, 1975) by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan sees Grodd work as a member of a team (that includes other individual JLA foes, like Brainiac, Clayface/Matt Hagen, Ocean Master, Sinestro, Merlyn, Chronos and the Harpy) all under the leadership of Zazzala the Queen Bee...and then Grodd reverts Hawkman into an ape in Super-Team Family #3 (February-March, 1976 by Steve Skeates, Rick Estrada and Wally Wood, covered more here).

All this monkeying around with others must have had an effect on Grodd, as he next appeared as a main member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains in Secret Society of Super-Villains #1 (May-June, 1976), where he was a constant menace to the whole JLA and Captain Comet for 11 issues and one SSOSV special (and a good enough place to end our individual coverage on Grodd...but check back for more on the Secret Society of Super-Villains after more of the individual villains are introduced).



Monday, September 21, 2015

Marvel Avengers Infinite Series 2015 Wave 3

Even more 3 and 3/4 plastic Marvel figures for your enjoyment.



Villains Emma Frost (a.k.a. the White Queen) from the X-Men and New Mutants title, Spider-Man foe Chameleon, Thor villain Korg, a Juggernaut possessed Colossus, and heroes from Alpha Flight (Northstar) and X-Force (Deadpool, in a variant costume), most of these planned for release earlier, but finally coming out now (like Northstar, who was suppose to be a variant with this sister, Aurora), finding their way out in the Avengers Infinite line.

Still waiting for that Hellcat!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Gotham Guide: Killer Moth, Amygdala and Anarky

Looking back at old Batman villains, here's three that one would have likely never thought to be of much interest....but seems there will be some now, as they make the transition to live television!

So, let's take them out of the shadow of the bat, and focus on Killer Moth, Amygdala and Anarky!


Killer Moth

Cameron van Cleer was the first of these villains, appearing in Batman #63 (February-March, 1951 by writer Bill Finger and artist Lew Schwartz), with "The Origin of Killer Moth!".

Prisoner #234026 decides to become the "anti-Batman", setting himself up as a philanthropist friend of Bruce Wayne's...

...all the while working to help criminals with his costumed identity of the Killer Moth, complete with Moth-Cave, Mothmobile and even an infrared Moth signal to summon him!

Batman and Robin stopped the Killer Moth, but didn't catch the criminal himself.

Batman and Robin faced him again in Batman #64 (April-May, 1951), stopping an attempt to steal a moth collection, and the dynamic duo finding out his secret identity and having the Killer Moth arrested at home, and in Detective Comics #173 (July, 1951) where Killer Moth kidnapped Bruce Wayne and tried to take his identity for a time, before the original version disappeared (call him the Golden Age or Earth-2 version, who faced the Earth-2 Batman; similar versions of these stories happened to Batman and Robin on Earth-1...don't let all that multi-Earth talk confuse you, but you can read about it here).

Killer Moth next appeared in Justice League of America #35 (May, 1965) along with Green Lantern foe Dr. Polaris and Flash rogue Pied Piper (and a few more JLA individual villains), but really it's only their uniforms in a plot by the Demons Three (Abnegazar, Rath and Ghast) to defeat the Justice League.  Killer Moth is more active in Detective Comics #359 (January, 1967) trying to kidnap Bruce Wayne (and leading to "The Million Dollar Debut Of Batgirl"). 

Killer Moth makes a brief appearance in Batman #200 (March, 1968), then doesn't return until Batman Family #10 (March-April, 1977) facing off against the duo of Batgirl and Batwoman (along with equally absent until this time Batman foe, the Cavalier), taking a break then to be part of the trial of Batman villains in Batman #291 to #294 (from September to December, 1977), and returning to menace the dynamite duo of Batgirl and Robin in Batman Family #15 (December-January, 1977/1978).

Had the Secret Society of Super-Villains gotten its sixteen and seventeenth issue, you would have seen Killer Moth as a member, facing off against the Freedom Fighters, (the story eventually being printed in the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade) but instead, Killer Moth was regulated to second fiddle in Batman #311 (May, 1979), facing Batgirl again in Detective Comics #486 (October-November, 1979), and just a face in the crowds of Detective Comics #526 (May, 1983), Crisis On Infinite Earths #9 (December, 1985) and Batman #400 (October, 1986).

Killer Moth returned after the Crisis On Infinite Earths, as part of "the misfits", in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #7 through #9 (December, 1992 to February, 1993), along with Cat-Man and Calendar Man (two other minor Batman foes who had seen better days before), and they kidnapped Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon, putting the new Robin, Tim Drake through his paces!

Killer Moth last appeared in Underworld Unleashed #1 (November, 1995) where he made a deal with the devil (a fellow called Neron) and became a creature, Charaxes (as seen in Robin #23 and #24 of December, 1995 and January, 1996, where his real name of cheap hood Drury Walker came out) who continued to bug Batman and Robin and others, in Detective Comics #697 to #699 (1996), Batman: Arkham Asylum -Tales of Madness #1 (May, 1998), Creeper #7 and #8 (1998), Titans Secret Files #1 (March, 1999), JLA #34 (October, 1999), Joker: Last Laugh Secret Files #1 (December, 2001), Robin #107 to #110 (December, 2002 to March, 2003), and being squished in Infinite Crisis #7 (June, 2006), before a quick return as a Black Lantern in Adventure Comics #4 and #5 in 2010.

The classic Killer Moth showed up in Robin: Year One #2 (November, 2000) by writers Chuck Dixon and Scotty Beatty, and art by Javier Pulido and Robert Campanella, and in Batgirl: Year One #1 to #3, and #5 to #9 (February to October, 2003 by writers Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon and artists Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez), and while Killer Moth was a second stringer behind Two-Face in Robin's first year, Killer Moth was a menace (even working with Firefly) in Batgirl's premiere year.


Amygdala

Aaron Helzinger was a man who had emotional rage problems, and to fix them, doctors removed his amygdala cluster (the bundle of nerves that control emotional associations).  This...made him into an even more homicidal manic, and a resident of Arkham Asylum (where we first met him, being manipulated by Mr. Zsasz and Jeremiah Arkham, in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #3 (August, 1992, by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle), and in the following issue, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #4 (September, 1992).

Amygdala appeared on his first cover with Detective Comics #659 (Early May, 1993 by Chuck Dixon and Norm Breyfogle), as a part of the Knightfall storyline, where Bane manipulated villains by freeing them from Arkham Asylum and into fighting Batman to wear the Gotham guardian out.

This issue had the Ventriloquist and Amygdala looking for the missing Scarface, and did result in Aaron being captured after a battle with Batman, and pretty much set Aaron's role in the Batman universe, incredible muscle to be used by smarter foes against Batman.

Amygdala was next in a pair of issues of Showcase (Showcase '94 #3 and #4, March and April, 1994), where the newly relocated Arkham patients (like Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Scarecrow, the Riddler, Mad Hatter, Firefly, Mr. Zsasz and more) faced off against Blackgate prisoners in a baseball game to help both sides deal with their new situations (and, yes, it went as well as you might think it would...).

Aaron seemed to be getting better...

...after a brief stay in the new Arkham Asylum in Guy Gardner: Warrior #29 (March, 1995), Underworld Unleashed: Batman - Devil's Asylum #1 (1995), New Gods #5 (February, 1996), and Batman #550 (January, 1998), Aaron was set free, with medicine that would help control his rage. 

Aaron popped up in Bludhaven, as a tenant in the building owned by Dick Grayson (Nightwing), along with writer John Law (who was secretly the Golden Age hero and All-Star Squadron member, Tarantula) in Nightwing #17 and #18 (February and March, 1998), where Aaron quietly moved in while Nightwing fought Man-Bat and Deathstroke.


Aaron remained mostly in control as Grayson's tenant, in Nightwing #21, #26, #31, #48, #50, #54-58, #64-67, #87 and #89 (March, 2004), where the Neron-improved Blockbuster blew up the building Dick owned, killing everyone inside except for Aaron...

...with Aaron being traumatized by the death of his friends in Nightwing #91 (May, 2004).

Amygdala was recruited for Luthor's Secret Society during 2006's Infinite Crisis, and drinking in the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge in Gotham Underground #5 (April, 2008).



Anarky

Lonnie Machin premiered in Detective Comics #608 (November, 1989) in a two-part story by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle (that concluded in Detective Comics #609, December, 1989), where Batman fought the self-styled freedom fighter, being shaken when he realized that Anarky was only a minor, fighting against injustices he felt being forced on the general populace.

Lonnie returned briefly in Detective Comics #618 to #620 (Late July to Late August, 1990, behind the scenes in the first two of those issues)...

...showing computer skills and a continuing determination to fight for the people (this time under a new identity as Moneyspider).

Next up for Lonnie, a brief bout with an Eclipso diamond (a black diamond which gave the possessor power, feeding on the owner's internal anger, but not caring about what happens to others)...


...which gave Anarky some super power (and also started to set a course for the young lad), setting him against someone his own age....Robin (Tim Drake)...in the Robin Annual #1 (September, 1992).

This ends with the young man in custody.

Anarky escapes during the confusion of the Knightfall event, realizing that Batman is the real problem in Gotham, and works to eliminate him (and Scarecrow) in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #16-18 (Early September to Early October, 1993).  Lonnie doesn't know how right he is, as Jean-Paul Valley has taken over being Batman at this time, and is a much stricter enforcer of the law....but they do end up catching Scarecrow (with this new Batman letting Anarky know that he does not want him around...threatening to kill him if he ever sees him again). 

Anarky must have taken that threat a little to heart, as his next bit of work, closing a gun factory in Gotham, happened with the help of Green Arrow in Green Arrow #89 (August, 1994).



Ollie was at a bit of a crossroads in this point in his life, wandering across the country running into many different people...

...so meeting the anti-establishment young man helped Ollie center himself and get back on target, and Anarky kept on his path, interfering with an election in Gotham in a short solo story in Batman Chronicles #1 (Summer, 1995).

Anarky appears next in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #40 and #41 (July and August, 1995), where he finances Malochia (a crazed prophet, forecasting doom), who happens to use Anarky's funds to make Gotham end sooner (and runs afoul of Anarky, Batman and detective Joe Potato).

This ends with Lonnie's parents, Roxanne and Mike, getting an idea of what he does, and Anarky being presumed dead.

Being dead didn't stop Anarky from getting his own mini-series in 1997.  With Anarky #1 (May, 1997), Lonnie uses a demon, Blasfemy, to summon Etrigan the Demon (with less than success), and Lonnie tries his luck against the ultimate authority figure, foe of the New Gods of New Genesis and leader of Apokolips,  Darkseid, in Anarky #2 (June, 1997)....with Blasfemy paying the price.

This causes Anarky to focus on Earth in Anarky #3 (July, 1997) with freeing people from the tyranny of leadership, and to a confrontation with Batman (and his own agenda)...


...then facing the consequences of his actions (and facing Scarface and the Ventriloquist) in Anarky #4 (August, 1997).

With the Gotham earthquake, Lonnie found himself adrift, thinking his parents dead, as of Batman: Shadow of the Bat #73 (April, 1998), Anarky decided to relocate his operation (as he had founded a company that made him very rich)....deciding to tackle the corruption of Washington, DC (as briefly shown starting in DCU Heroes Secret Files #1 (February, 1999).

Anarky set up base in Washington, DC with his dog, Max, and his computer (also called Max), and found out of the Aberration, an all-powerful entity created by the flaws of the laws of reality.  In Anarky #1 (May, 1999), Lonnie tried to get the JLA to help him against the Aberration, but the Leaguer members were more interested in capturing Anarky and sending him to prison.  Anarky decided to fight the Aberration himself, stealing a Green Lantern ring, and eventually defeating Aberration (with some help from Green Lantern Kyle Rayner)....all in Anarky #2 and #3 (June and July, 1999).

Next up for Lonnie, he took on a true world threat, that of eco-terrorist Ra's Al Ghul, and how the leader of the League of Assassins was manipulating troubles in the Mideast with super powered associates, Dolmen and Buzzword, with Anarky not doing so well in Anarky #4 to #6 (August to October, 1999), then Anarky facing animated undead with the help of the old Haunted Tank crew during the Day of Judgement in Anarky #7 (November, 1999), and while checking to see if his parents might still be alive, finds out that he was adopted in Anarky #8 (December, 1999), and may be the son of the Joker, in the last issue of his regular series.

Anarky next enjoyed a little time as a grown up, in Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1 (May, 2000) and Sins of Youth: JLA Jr. #1 (May, 2000), but not for long, reverting to his normal age to deal with the supernatural problems caused by Circe in a battle with Wonder Woman that involved many of the heroes and villains of the DCU in Wonder Woman #175 (December, 2001).

Lonnie faced Green Arrow again in Green Arrow #51 (August, 2005), where Anarky is falsely blamed for an explosion in Star City...
 
...with Anarky again leaving Ollie to contemplate his own commitment to his crusade, as Lonnie seems so much more committed than Ollie is.

Anarky returned again with Robin #181 (February, 2009) as did Lonnie in Tim's run as Red Robin (in the series, Red Robin, that ran 26 issues from August, 2009 to October, 2011), but Lonnie and Anarky weren't the same character anymore! 


More on this when we cover Robin villains at some point...

All of this proves that Anarky runs contrary to other villains like Killer Moth and Amygdala, as Drury and Aaron will appear on Fox's Gotham, and Lonnie will be appearing on the CW's Arrow!